April 2014

Muni Proposal Has Some Hill Residents Fuming

Keith Burbank

The San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency is proposing bus route changes to the Southside neighborhoods. And that has more than the buses fuming. 

“Any time we get off the Hill, we’ll have to transfer,” said one Potrero Hill resident who asked not to be named. Last month, the resident and roughly 15 others attended the last of a dozen meetings SFMTA held to gather community feedback on possible transit changes. Meeting attendees generally agreed that transfers can lengthen trips by 15 to 20 minutes. Unreliable service on a route makes matters worse. 

“These changes are not necessarily set in stone,” said Mawuli Tugbenyoghan, an aide to District 10 Supervisor Malia Cohen. Cohen wasn’t at the meeting, which was held last month at St. Gregory’s Episcopal Church. Cohen’s office said upwards of 10 people have contacted the supervisor about the SFMTA proposal. 

As of press time, the agency was proposing six service changes. The 10 Townsend bus would no longer travel along Townsend Street, but would be rerouted through Mission Bay, along Missouri Street and eventually to 25th Street. It would not serve Showplace Square. The northern leg of the 10 would still go downtown. 

The 22, instead of traveling along 17th, Connecticut and 18th streets, would continue along 16th Street to Third Street. From there, it would turn north along Third Street to the northern edge of the University of California, San Francisco-Mission Bay campus. The 33 bus, which residents say runs less frequently than the 22, would no longer serve Potrero Avenue, but would be rerouted along 16th Street to Connecticut Street. From there, the 33 would run the same route as the 22 does currently, stopping at the 20th Street T-line station.

The 47 Van Ness would be rerouted along Townsend Street, rather than serving Bryant and Harrison streets. To make up for the loss of the 33 along Potrero Avenue, SFMTA would increase the frequency of the 9/9L by 20 percent. Increasing the frequency of the 10 and 22 is also planned. 

Julie Kirschbaum, SFMTA operations planning and scheduling manager, was pleased with the feedback she received from those attending the St. Gregory’s meeting. After hearing from residents, Kirschbaum told the group her team would go back, “sharpen their pencils” and see if they can draw up a compromise. The changes are meant to address overcrowding on the 10 Townsend, reduce delays along 16th Street and serve a growing Mission Bay neighborhood.

But Hill residents claimed that SFMTA is catering to Mission Bay at the expense of Potrero Hill. “They have the T-line,” said Jan, a Connecticut Street resident, who declined to give her last name. “They have parking. They don’t need it [the service].” A senior expressed concern about walking up the neighborhood’s steep hills and having to transfer to get to his destination. 

According to District 10 supervisorial candidate Tony Kelly, Potrero Hill, like Mission Bay, is growing rapidly. And the Hill has seen steady cuts in service. “So it really hurts to contribute to Mission Bay,” he told Kirschbaum. Michelle Kamel, a 17th and Kansas streets resident, felt equally hurt. Under SFMTA’s proposal, she’d have to travel six blocks to the 10, and she’s disabled.

With the agency proposing to run the 22 and 33 along 16th Street, a woman asked Kirschbaum if her staff had been to 16th Street at night. “We haven’t been there at night,” Kirschbaum admitted. The resident suggested maintaining the 22’s current route for safety reasons. “It’s insane” to dump people on 16th Street after dark. 

Kelly asked Kirschbaum whether the agency is open to coordinating transit services with the shuttle systems in Mission Bay. He told the View that SFMTA is duplicating the work done by the shuttles, which residents — including those with disabilities — can ride whether or not they’re affiliated with the company operating the shuttle. Kelly suggested the shuttle systems pay SFMTA, similar to the fees assessed Google.

But Kirschbaum said it’s important to the agency to get service into Mission Bay as soon as possible. She told Kelly and others at the meeting that transit riders may fail to see the shuttles as a travel option the way riders recognize Muni. 

SFMTA expected to complete all of its work on the proposal by the end of March, with action by the SFMTA board on March 28. 

 

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