A woman prepares to board an L-Taraval Muni train at 22nd Avenue and Taraval Street in San Francisco's Sunset District Wednesday, March 4, 2015. (Jessica Christian/S.F. Examiner)

Controversial L-Taraval street changes will move forward in January, will speed up Muni trains

The City will implement changes to Taraval Street intended to make the L-Taraval light rail line faster — and safer — in January, according to transit officials — but those changes will also include the loss of 81 parking spaces along Taraval.

The L-Taraval is set to speed up three minutes in each direction and disembarking the train may be safer after the installation of 15 boarding islands, as part of the wider Muni Forward project.

Now some of these changes may come early, according to the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency.

Among the changes slated for January and February are painted “clear zones” for safer train stops, painted safety zones at sidewalk corners, parking spaces converted for safety improvements, painted boarding zones (part of a six-month pilot), wider stop spacing to speed up the L-Taraval, and transit-only lanes.

For a full run-down of what Taraval Street’s new changes will look like, and where they are, check out the SFMTA’s blog.

Muni’s L-Taraval line carries 29,000 riders a day. In the past five years, 45 pedestrians have been struck by cars along the stretch of Taraval Street on which the L travels — and 22 of those people were hit while getting off the train at stops without islands.

To make room for the pedestrian clear zones, 81 parking spaces will be removed between 18th Avenue and 45th Avenue, though parking turnover to offset those parking losses will be increased after the installation of new parking meters, according to the SFMTA.

As the Examiner previously reported, the community around Taraval Street is divided on the changes.

Resident Paula Katz brought a petition with 400 signatures to a September SFMTA Board of Directors meeting, to add to another petition she previously turned in of 1,600 signatures of what she said were L-Taraval riders against the elimination of stops.

But in surveys from the SFMTA, many L-Taraval riders expressed a need for changes to Taraval Street to improve safety, and said it was dangerous to get off the train into oncoming traffic, which will change with the new improvements.

At that same September SFMTA meeting, Janelle Wong, a Sunset District resident, said her two elementary school-age sons will soon be old enough to ride the L on their own, and they need concrete boarding islands so they won’t step off a train directly into traffic.

“Both my sons have a safe place to get off” the train, she said.

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