The San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency Board of Directors will vote Tuesday on the remaining proposed improvements to the L-Taraval Muni line at 1 p.m. at City Hall. This is a great opportunity for riders to help improve the L Taraval’s speed, reliability and safety.
The proposed improvements have been studied, piloted, and surveyed. They’re part of a larger project — new tracks that reduce vibration; upgrading overhead wires; water and sewer upgrades; new trees and other streetscaping; transit-only lanes; new traffic signals and, of course, boarding islands (since, you know, riders are currently dumped in a live lane of traffic).
San Francisco Transit Riders strongly urges the approval of all SFMTA staff-recommended improvements. We don’t want any more delays or compromises when the benefits to transit riders, pedestrians and The City are clear. This is a once-in-a-generation opportunity to overhaul a major Muni light-rail corridor in support of Vision Zero and our Transit First policy. We must get it right.
The key issues at hand are transit stop removal and boarding islands.
Stop removal is always a controversial issue. No one wants to take stops away from the elderly or disabled. But we are also realistic that Muni vehicles, and particularly light-rail trains, can’t stop at every corner. Difficult decisions must be made in order for transit to get riders where they need to go, and in a reasonably competitive amount of time.
San Francisco Transit Riders believes the proposed L-Taraval stop consolidations balance the stops well. However, if the SFMTA Board does not support the removal of the additional stops at 44th Avenue and inbound 35th and 17th avenues, we urgently insist that full boarding islands be installed at each stop.
The other main source of controversy is the boarding islands. As an unfortunate compromise, the SFMTA agreed to do a pilot program to see if better street markings would keep riders and pedestrians safe. This might not come as a surprise, but they did not. Since the pilot program failed — showing no real increase in drivers stopping behind the L-Taraval — riders are finally on track to get the boarding islands they deserve.
We commend Supervisor Katy Tang for standing up for rider safety, and thank the SFMTA for working to make this project a reality. These improvements will serve well the 10,000 riders who board in the Sunset; we can hope that more will join them, leaving their cars behind and enjoying all the benefits of an upgraded L-Taraval.
Rachel Hyden is the executive director of San Francisco Transit Riders, a rider-based grassroots advocate for world-class transit in San Francisco.