The T Third Street train resumes service on Saturday, joined by a new express route between Bayview-Hunters Point and downtown.<ins> (Kevin N. Hume/S.F. Examiner)</ins>

The T Third Street train resumes service on Saturday, joined by a new express route between Bayview-Hunters Point and downtown. (Kevin N. Hume/S.F. Examiner)

Bayview-Hunters Point residents get first direct express bus to downtown

New Muni route to launch alongside the return of the T-Third train

The T-Third train between Sunnydale and Embarcadero Station will be returning this Saturday — and it will be joined by a new express bus route that will serve the Bayview and Hunters Point communities.

For the first time, residents of Hunters Point will have a direct connection to downtown San Francisco, while neighbors in Bayview will enjoy their first express access into downtown via Third Street.

A downtown-bound 15 Bayview Hunters Point Express Line bus will run every 10 minutes from Palou and Third streets to Market and Third streets via Hunters Point, operating from 5 a.m. to 10 p.m. on weekdays and 8 a.m. to 10 p.m. on weekends.

“For far too long, our folks in the most southern part of San Francisco have been fighting for adequate and reliable transportation that connects to the rest of The City,” District 10 Supervisor Shamann Walton said at a virtual press conference Tuesday.

According to the Bayview Community Based Transportation Plan, the Bayview neighborhood houses 22 percent of The City’s Black residents, and over 30 percent of households there earn less than $30,000 annually.

Despite a high concentration of transit-dependent riders in the area, Bayview-Hunters Point residents have historically been forced to endure long travel times to essential destinations on trains and buses that were often late, unreliable and slowed due to congestion.

The launch of the 15 bus line “is more than adding another line to Muni’s system,” Walton said. “This is about repairing the harm that has been done to Black, Brown and Asian communities.”

San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency Director of Transportation Jeffrey Tumlin said the new line would create access for Bayview-Hunters Point residents to 55 percent more jobs within a 45-minute transit travel window than what they can currently reach.

“This is an essential part of the Muni equity strategy, and work that we’re very proud of here at the SFMTA,” he said Tuesday.

To arrive at the final route design, the transit agency worked closely with the community to identify priorities, scope out travel patterns and, ultimately, come up with three potential routes to put to the public in a survey fashion before landing on the final version that will go into effect Saturday.

While conversations about how to better link the southeastern side of San Francisco to downtown started as early as 2018, efforts accelerated when the COVID-19 pandemic arrived and began to disproportionately impact people of color and low income families.

“As we talk about reparations, this is a small step, but a major one as we continue to build the trust in our community,” Walton said of the joint efforts.

The 15 Bayview-Hunters Point Express will be complemented by increased frequency on the 8AX Bayshore nearby, along with a handful of other routes that will see longer buses for more capacity or more regular routes.

These changes are made possible by the return of the Muni Metro T-Third route, which will free up enough buses to run additional service.

The J Church line also resumed service on Dec. 19 between Balboa Park Station and Church Street and Duboce Avenue, and the rest of Muni Metro is expected to return gradually over the next two months.

SFMTA continues to manage these service changes as part of its emergency response; in order to be made permanent, they will have to go through a more extensive public review process once the coronavirus crisis has passed.

cgraf@sfexaminer.com

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