Fewer vehicles on Market speeds Muni service

Muni service has sped up by about a minute on Market Street along the stretch involved in the trial program that aims to limit vehicle traffic along the busy artery to downtown.

The test, which began Sept. 29, forces private vehicles traveling eastbound on Market Street to make right turns at Eighth and Sixth streets. The program has been met with some success, though transit officials say they are going to continue the study longer than initially expected and possibly expand it.

The number of motor vehicles decreased by 54 percent on eastbound Market Street, according to new numbers from the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency, which also oversees Muni. On average, there was a decline of 130 vehicles an hour on eastbound Market Street as a result of forced right turns on Eighth and Sixth streets, said Debra Johnson, administrative director for the MTA. All the traffic data was recorded on Market Street, east of Eighth Street, where the restrictions began.

On eastbound Market Street approaching Montgomery Street, the decline was considerably less, at approximately 5 percent.

Transit service also sped up along the route by nearly a minute. Muni vehicles traveling eastbound on Market Street recorded 50-second savings as a result of the automobile restrictions.

Quickened Muni service was among the goals of the program’s backers, which include Mayor Gavin Newsom, former Mayor Willie Brown and Supervisor Chris Daly, whose district includes the section of Market Street being studied. The trial is a small rollout of the oft-proposed idea of limiting or banning private automobiles along Market Street.

And though there were improvements along Market Street, a portion of the traffic was deflected to Mission Street, which runs parallel. Traffic on Mission Street, where some of the private vehicles were diverted, increased by 15 percent, Johnson said.

The trial on Market Street — which was the beginning phase of a prolonged effort to revitalize the thoroughfare — was initially pitched as a six-week pilot program, but MTA officials will continue with the project to collect more data, said Johnson, who spoke before the transit agency’s board of directors meeting Tuesday.

Johnson said the department is also examining the possibility of moving the forced-right turn from Eighth Street to 10th Street, where right turns are encouraged but not mandatory.

Fewer cars

Key findings from the study limiting private vehicles on Market Street:

  • Eastbound traffic volume east of Eighth Street decreased 130 vehicles per hour, a 54 percent decrease.
  •  
  • Eastbound traffic approaching Montgomery Street decreased 5 percent.
  •  
  • Traffic on Mission Street increased 15 percent.
  •  
  • Traffic counts on Folsom Street were inconclusive as to an increase or decrease.
  •  
  • Muni times sped up by about 50 seconds.
  •  
  • Before the study, bikes made up 60 percent of the traffic.
  •  
  • During the study, bikes made up 75 percent of the traffic.
  •  
  • Three officers are required at the corner of Eighth and Market streets to enforce rules.
  •  
  • One or two officers are required at the corner of Sixth and Market streets.
  •  
  • After officers leave, many vehicles violate the vehicle ban.
  •  
  • Cars turning right from the center lane at Eighth Street are a safety issue for cyclists.

Source: SFMTA

wreisman@sfexaminer.com

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