SFMTA no longer plans to remove 17th Avenue Safeway stop

In a sudden twist, The City’s transit agency has reversed course and will keep a much-beloved Muni train stop adjacent to a 17th Avenue Safeway.

Originally the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency proposed removing the stop on a trial basis in the name of speeding up the L-Taraval train, a small part of the $90 million L-Taraval Rapid Project which was intended to improve speed and safety along the route. A final vote on that stop’s removal was scheduled for summer.

But after an outcry from organized neighbors and the intervention of Supervisor Norman Yee, whose district includes the stop, the SFMTA has revised its proposal and plans to announce today that it will maintain the Safeway stop.

SEE RELATED: To dismay of neighbors, SF will remove Muni stop near Safeway

“The stop will be there, the stop will remain,” said Phillip Pierce, an SFMTA spokesperson.

Though Pierce acknowledged there was much public outcry, ultimately that backlash resulted in a compromise. “Working with Supervisor Yee, working with the community and hearing their feedback is definitely where this came from,” he said.

Yee said in a statement, “Although I appreciate that the SFMTA is trying to balance rider safety, access for people with disabilities, local merchant parking and improving transit efficiency, I thought there might be a better way forward.”

The stop was originally slated to be removed to speed up the commute of L-Taraval riders. In order to still speed up the train, now two “lesser used” inbound stops at Forest Side Avenue and Ulloa Street, as well as 15th Avenue and Taraval Street, will be combined into a single new stop on Ulloa Street at 14th Avenue, requiring no loss of parking, according to the SFMTA.

And the 17th Avenue stop will also come with enhancements. The SFMTA plans to construct a concrete boarding island there for the L-Taraval with a wheelchair-accessible ramp, in the name of safety and accessibility.

That construction will come in about six months, Pierce said, and in the meantime the area will be striped with white paint to denote “clear zones” where cars are not allowed to tread.

In January, a contingent of Sunset District neighbors came to the SFMTA Board of Directors and publicly voiced concern that seniors and people with disabilities would be unable to visit Safeway at 17th Avenue via Muni, because the removal of the 17th Avenue stop would leave only the nearby 19th Avenue train stop for use — which is down a steep hill.

“We’re here to ask you to reconsider,” said Paula Katz, with the “Save our L Taraval Stops!” advocacy group

Now the SFMTA has — and the stop will stay.

Joe Fitzgerald Rodriguez

Joe Fitzgerald Rodriguez covers transportation for the San Francisco Examiner. He also writes the weekly political On Guard column. Reach him at joe@sfexaminer.com. Follow him on Twitter: @FitzTheReporter.

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