Alterations to bus service in the Sunset could increase school diversity. Courtesy SFMTA

The 29-Sunset could become a ‘rapid’ route

Muni weighing change after Lowell students advocated for improved service on line

High test scores. Sports awards. Extra-curricular activities galore.

Lowell High School students have a reputation for achievement, but soon they may be able to add another arena to their list of successes: Transit advocacy.

Muni staff revealed Tuesday that they’re moving into the final stretches of creating a new “rapid” route for the 29-Sunset line, which features one of the longest bus routes in The City and serves many Lowell High School students.

Much like the 38R-Geary Rapid or the 9R-San Bruno Rapid lines, a future 29R-Sunset Rapid route would include fewer stops and provide more frequent and faster bus service.

SFMTA Director of Transit Julie Kirschbaum presented the possible new changes to the 29-Sunset in a presentation to the SFMTA Board of Directors Tuesday. While a rapid route is a strong possibility, other solutions may also be considered, she said.

The SFMTA will soon begin a trip pattern analysis, mapping out where 29-Sunset riders hop on and off the most, to determine what changes could help riders get around faster. That will include community outreach in conjunction by Lowell High School students.

At the very least, Kirschbaum said, funding for new 29-Sunset improvements will be included in this year’s budget proposal, which the SFMTA board will discuss in April, with possible implementation in fall 2021.

The 29-Sunset is “a route we may not have normally considered for ‘rapid’ service,” Kirschbaum told the board. Speaking to the San Francisco Examiner, Kirschbaum lauded the Lowell students.

“I think the kids are amazing,” she said.

Students from the school’s Peer Resources program advocated for a 29 Rapid route hand-in-hand with the San Francisco Transit Riders, a professional advocacy organization. Roughly 40 teenagers over the course of two years contributed to the work, which included a survey of students to assess transit needs, said Lowell High School Peer Resources coordinator Adee Horn.

Horn said that through advocacy, the teens are gaining first-hand experience in helping their community.

“I think what they’ve all been learning is that the power of their voices, the work they’ve done on this project, got Muni to listen,” Horn said.

Those students, teenagers with little experience in city government, stood before the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency Board of Directors in mid-2019 and argued that bad Muni service contributed to a lack of diversity in their school.

Better Muni service along the 29 route would help communities of color in the Bayview better access Lowell, since the 29 stretches from San Francisco’s southeastern corner to the Sunset District, skirting The City’s south side, the teenagers said. One of those teenagers speaking to the SFMTA last year was Petra Cardoso, who at the time was 17.

“At Lowell, we’re looking at the issue of how we’ll create an inclusive and supportive school culture,” Cardoso told the board. Lowell student Kaitlyn Evangelista added, “physically getting to school is a problem and affects the decision-making process to come to Lowell.”

joe@sfexaminer.com

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