January 25, 2013
The Plan To Make Muni More Convenient, Reliable, And Attractive
In an effort to make Muni "more convenient, reliable and attractive" by reducing transit travel times and improving customer experiences, service reliability, and efficiency, San Francisco’s Municipal Transportation Agency (SFMTA) launched San Francisco’s Transit Effectiveness Project (TEP), the first holistic review of San Francisco's Muni network and service delivery since the 1970’s.
Implementation of the TEP is slated to occur between 2014 and 2019, subject to funding and resource availability, spanning four target areas: service policy framework, service improvements, service-related capital projects, and travel time reduction proposals:
The proposed Service Policy Framework is a policy document consisting of objectives and actions to enable the SFMTA to effectively allocate transit resources, efficiently deliver service, improve service reliability, reduce transit travel time, and improve customer service. The Service Policy Framework also organizes Muni services into four distinct service types: Rapid Network, Local Network, Community Connectors, and Specialized Services.
The proposed Service Improvements include: creating new routes, redesigning existing routes, or adding service to new streets; eliminating unproductive existing routes or route segments; changing vehicle type; changing frequency and span of service; changing the mix of local/limited/express service; and other changes, such as new express service stops, expansion of Limited-stop service to include Sundays, and the expansion of other service with the addition of days of operation.
The proposed service-related capital projects include three categories of projects proposed as infrastructure to support service improvements: overhead wire expansion, transfer and terminal point improvements, and systemwide capital infrastructure.
The proposed travel time reduction proposals (TTRP) would implement roadway and bus stop changes to reduce delays on the transit routes in the Rapid Network. Changes include adding transit bulbs/boarding islands; replacing stop signs with traffic signals or other measures; transit stop changes including moving stops, eliminating stops and adding new stops; traffic engineering changes such as adding turn lanes, turn restrictions and transit-only lanes; and pedestrian improvements such as curb extensions and other crosswalk treatments.
The initial TEP study, findings and framework for improvements was just released, including maps for the proposed service improvements to each line, existing and new.
A draft report of the project's potential environmental impacts is scheduled to be circulated for public comment this summer. A final report is anticipated in the Winter/Spring of 2014, after which TEP implementation could begin.
First Published: January 25, 2013 11:00 AM
Comments from "Plugged In" Readers
The bus drivers are so lazy, they'll never fully pull out of traffic -- the first picture is the before AND after this silly boondoggle. What a waste of money.
Posted by: Joshua at January 25, 2013 11:20 AM
If I were a bus driver I would stop partially in the lane like that in order to make it easier for me to pull back into traffic. Not sure that the majority of drivers would actually allow the bus to merge back into the lane in front of them... The bus would end up sitting at the curb waiting to be let in.
Posted by: S at January 25, 2013 11:23 AM
IMHO, MUNI doesn't need to move any bus stops. What a waste of money. Traffic flow will improve if drivers simply pull completely into their designated (painted) bus stops. After a decade of living here, I've seen tens-of-thousands of MUNI drivers leaving 30-40% of their bus in the lane of traffic -- which prevents other drivers from proceeding (around them) ahead of the bus. Yes, it's true they may have to wait for the light to change to re-enter the traffic flow -- that's what we all must do. If citizen drivers can now receive a ticket because MUNI cameras catch them dropping-off a passenger in a bus zone, waiting in a MUNI bus stop, etc., the reverse should be true. (I.e. MUNI drivers should be ticketed if/when they do not fully exit the traffic lane and completely enter the bus stop.)
Posted by: JTW at January 25, 2013 11:34 AM
I certainly hope they can move all the stops to the far side of intersections like this. It will prevent people having to cross lines to get through a light that is green and cut down on the dangerous right turns in front of a bus at an intersection. They will have plenty of space in the intersection to pull over to the side as well so they won't be blocking the road. And worst case they wait for the light to change before they head back into the road so they won't have to fight traffic to get back into it.
Posted by: gribble at January 25, 2013 11:37 AM
Here's an idea: eliminate half of the bus stops! Why does the bus need to stop at every intersection? I wish the buses would stop every other block rather than every block - it would speed things up.
MUNI: "Slightly faster than walking ... unless it's raining."
Posted by: Greg at January 25, 2013 12:02 PM
YES! Bus drivers who don't pull all the way into bus stops and block traffic drive me insane. Drivers of the 22 on Fillmore seem to be particularly egregious when it comes to this behavior. Can't they correct this problem now rather than waiting until 2014?
Posted by: Anna at January 25, 2013 12:10 PM
@Greg I've always thought that was the easy answer and wondered why they don't don't do that. Then I realized there would be complaints about access for folks that have a hard time walking or are otherwise disabled. But then the answer could be to make every other stop a handicapped stop and riders have to show a special pass to board at those stops. Seems reasonable right?
Posted by: Boo at January 25, 2013 12:16 PM
Part of the apparent issue with SF infrastructural projects are that they take 5 years to kick off and don't actually come into fruition without months and months of delays. More than anything I think the city needs to get better at managing these projects.
I can say that it seems that a lot of positive changes have started to take place even in the last few years.
p.s. 1970?!?!? WTF
Posted by: Rob at January 25, 2013 12:17 PM
I take it that you have not driven a bus yourself. How much time do you think it will take to stop the entire vehicle into the bus stop perfectly? Now repeat this 50 times for the entire route. Don't forget the bus has a schedule to meet and everyone is unhappy about being slow. Promptness is a very high priority for running line for most people. That's why they are doing this.
So this proposal is really helping other road users. If you give the bus stop has more space, if it is located at the far side of the intersection. Then it will easier for the bus to go into the stop area with better precision.
Separately being a transit first city, we need a way to make the cars yield to the bus that's trying to pull off from the stop. The way it is today all the cars are trying to beat the bus if they can. It causes delay to the bus. It actually causes delay to all other cars too! The problem is when the bus is pulling off and other car tries to squeeze pass via the narrow space, it is a dangerous and slow maneuver. Maybe 2 or 3 cars get to win. But everybody on the bus lose. Every car that did not manage to win the bus also lose. Say the bus lose 10s because of the conflict. Every car that travel behind the bus also lose 10s. If the bus is able to pull off promptly, the first 2 or 3 cars are frustrated. But everyone else, both on the base as well as cars further behind, wins.
Posted by: Wai Yip Tung at January 25, 2013 12:19 PM
Meanwhile in China they built five subway systems in the time it took the sketch artist to draw those two pictures (at $10k a pop).
Posted by: wrath at January 25, 2013 12:21 PM
This is awesome. Under this comprehensive review, they will be able to remove some of the wasted stops on every block...
"Changes include ..... transit stop changes including moving stops, eliminating stops and adding new stops;"
I think there is the awareness and drive in todays transit oriented city management to make better decisions than in the past when it comes to trading off the needs of a small minority (elderly and handicaped) against the system wide benefit to the majority by increasing muni efficiency to the point that it is an attractive alternative to driving.
yes, I know, I'm an optimist. But at least this indications change and not more of the same.
Posted by: BigV at January 25, 2013 12:27 PM
Standard MUNI fare is now $2.00.
My solution to all MUNI problems is simple, on every route make half the buses free and the other half a $4.00 fare.
MUNI would actually increase their collected fares and we would all know which bus we preferred to be one.
Then increase the fare to $5.00 on the paying buses and include free Wi-Fi.
Posted by: redseca2 at January 25, 2013 12:36 PM
The bus drivers are lazy because the union protects their job. They have no rules of behavior.
Posted by: futurist at January 25, 2013 12:55 PM
So that lower picture has to be the 1 California line. There are stretches of this route where there are literally 2 stops on a block (Polk / Van Ness comes to mind). Absurd.
Anyway, color me skeptical, but I doubt this study achieves much besides wasting a lot of money and keeping some special committee busy for 5 years. More bureaucrats going to meetings and moving paper around. Rearranging routes and stops
might save a few minutes at the margin, at best. To get real improvement, we need to either move transit underground or have special bus-only lanes like many other cities do. And both of those are unlikely for a variety of reasons, namely money and limited street space.
Oh well. Good times at SF Muni.
Posted by: Legacy Dude at January 25, 2013 1:16 PM
You dismiss the TEP empty talk of special committee and bureaucrat. Then you propose SF should have special bus lane, which is already part of the proposal in TEP. The other proposal about moving transit underground will probably necessitate 10 times as many special committees and bureaucrats to bring it to fruition.
The TEP works so far seems lot more concrete to me.
Posted by: Wai Yip Tung at January 25, 2013 1:40 PM
Just get google to automate buses along with cars. buses perfectly pulled to the curb, always on-time, and cars don't do stupid things.
Posted by: Bernard at January 25, 2013 1:50 PM
Muni needs separated bus lanes and signal priority. This would spare drivers the trouble of pulling around buses, or getting stuck behind them in the middle of an intersection. Spacing stops further apart would also speed things up.
Posted by: zouaf at January 25, 2013 2:07 PM
All the muni bus stops I use are already post-intersection. With the obvious exception of Market St, where are these pre-intersection stops?
Posted by: estoppel at January 25, 2013 2:33 PM
On 18th & Connecticut the inbound 10 stops on Connecticut before the intersection and the inbound 22 stops on 18th before making a right turn onto Connecticut. Moving stops to after the intersection in this case also means the two lines will share a stop. But given the turn radius of those buses I'm sure the 22 will still be stopping in the middle of the road.
Posted by: formidable doer of the nasty at January 25, 2013 2:43 PM
"...we need a way to make the cars yield to the bus that's trying to pull off from the stop."
VTA tried to do this several years ago by installing triangular shaped flashing "YIELD" lights to the left side of the rear of the bus. When the bus driver needs to merge into traffic they switch on the flashing yield sign. This was introduced along with a PR outreach program to educate drivers about the need to allow buses to merge back into traffic. Turns out that it didn't make a difference, people still tried to outrun the bus. So they discontinued the program though you can still see those triangular lights on the back of the bus.
It just comes down to greed on the road. Most drivers are courteous but enough will drive like jerks to gum up the works and cause collisions. The standard for possessing a driver's license is far too low.
If you've ever driven a big truck or a bus then you know how difficult it is to maneuver such a beast through congested traffic. The proper thing to do when encountering a truck or bus having difficulty is to sit back and chill until they can get it straightened out. But I've seen people even try to outmaneuver an ambulance with its lights flashing.
Posted by: The Milkshake of Despair at January 25, 2013 2:59 PM
When's the official rollout of this TEP again? Something like 2020?
I live in the Sunset and take the L-Terrible downtown to work every day. We inch along the surface route until we get to the tunnel, many times delayed because of some issue going on in the 2 track tube that carries 5 separate lines.
As for speeding things up on the surface MUNI can eliminate half of the surface stops on the L, maybe even just during morning/evening rush (limited or skip-stop service). The trains are much slower to respond to stopping and moving than buses so it takes FOREVER to get somewhere when you're constantly stopping and starting every 2 blocks. Instead of 20 stops west of West Portal, limit it to 10:
19th Ave (transfer to 28)
30th Ave (transfer to 66)
Sunset (transfer to 29)
46th Ave (transfer to 18)
By doing so you can shave at least 10 minutes off the commute from the end of the line to West Portal. Once in the tunnel, of course, it's a total crap shoot.
Posted by: Mark at January 25, 2013 3:15 PM
Now let's move on to the E-Embarcadero project. As much as I think the historic streetcars add a touch of nostalgia to our increasingly modern cityscape, MUNI, once again, gets it all wrong with its plan to have historic streetcars share the route with LRVs. Of course, having a brightly colored, restored streetcar parked in front of the ballpark sure looks pretty on a postcard, but the practicality of sharing the tracks just isn't there.
Think logistics. Streetcars board from the street, not platforms. To solve this issue streetcar platforms were built adjacent to existing N/K platforms. What this does is create more of a bottleneck for LRVs as they wait for a streetcar to do its business before they can proceed to their platform to do theirs. If you think it's already a mess with the N and K/T on the same route just wait until the streetcars add fuel to the fire. Bad, bad, bad idea.
Posted by: Mark at January 25, 2013 3:36 PM
I had the idea of putting stops AFTER stop lights years ago.
Oh and not having two stops on the same block would help. I'm looking at you Clay st. Between Polk and Larkin.
Posted by: sf at January 25, 2013 4:09 PM
Ain't gonna to happen.
They tried removing stops on the 38-Geary not that long ago and the "transit activists" insisted on keeping all of the stops, especially in the Tenderloin.
What should be done is moving the handicapped to a special van service rather than trying to burden everyone with the small number of folks who cause everyone to wait for them.
Of course, that won't happen either. Progressives are all about lowering standards for everyone.
Posted by: Toady at January 25, 2013 4:22 PM
There is definitely a problem of people parking in the bus stops. I see it all the time. And when they do it makes the entire stop inaccessible to the bus, so it has to stop in traffic.
Not sure if it would help, but SFMTA could increase the fee for stopping in a bus stop to $1000 a pop, and equip buses with cameras to snap pics of the license plate of offenders. This INCLUDES the google buses.
Posted by: sixtypercenttogether at January 25, 2013 4:22 PM
The Google Bus is usually parked in the bus stop on my 6 or 71 commute route at least once each day. Last night the 71 blocked all of south bound Divisadero waiting patiently for the kids to get off.
Posted by: redseca2 at January 25, 2013 5:00 PM
What should be done is moving the handicapped to a special van service rather than trying to burden everyone with the small number of folks who cause everyone to wait for them.
No-- instead, buy modern, low-floor buses that can load wheelchairs (and old ladies and everyone else) more quickly.
Posted by: Alai at January 25, 2013 6:37 PM
a few months ago, when the MTA apparatchiks awoke to the unsettling news that no one in San Francisco thought they were doing a good job...
They hastily threw some poor sap onto investigating the actual thing we all expect out of a transit agency.
Their haste, unfortunately, is glaring in light of the work product that resulted from this 'throwing of a transit bone' to Muni users.
Their haste made for nothing but waste. As the comments here illustrate.
We need a staff overhaul at the MTA. Now.
Posted by: Stucco_Sux at January 25, 2013 8:29 PM
So that top picture.. they needed a study and five year plan to figure out that it would make things run smoother if the buses actually used the bus stops?
Posted by: R at January 26, 2013 8:07 AM
The LAST thing I want is for buses to take the time to park properly to let cars go around them.
As for the planning process, I travel to Milan at least every few years and they're constantly changing bus routes and bus stop locations to better move people quickly. They change things as streets change directions to accommodate transit/taxi-only lanes, infrastructure projects, opening of new venues that generate more people traffic, etc. They TRY things and if they don't work they revert back. And none of it needs five-years of "planning".
Oh, and no freakin' way can you out-walk a bus in Milan.
Posted by: BobN at January 26, 2013 10:40 AM
It's easy to snark at a few tiny excerpts in SS. I suggest that those of you who haven't done so might want to read the full report before commenting on bus parking. That's a tiny tiny fraction of the report, which is pretty comprehensive.
Posted by: Kurt Brown at January 26, 2013 12:05 PM
Let's eliminate all the bus stops, the drivers don't pull into them anyway, as previously mentioned, thereby blocking traffic. Let the busses just stop in their lane of traffic. Extend the sidewalk out at the bus shelter perpendicular so riders can enter and exit the bus. In fact, build the shelter on the extension and free up the sidewalk. Let cars park in the remaining half of the "bus stop". How many bus stops are there? Wow that many more parking spaces in SF! So you (drivers) have to wait behind a stopped bus; you have to wait anyway, but now there are a lot more parking spaces. Gotta think the busses would move faster too.
Posted by: Leningrad at January 26, 2013 4:15 PM
Good idea. This is called Transit Bulbs in the TEP report. You will find an illustration on page 35. Nearly every suggestions in this thread that make sense have been covered in the report. And they are done in much great detail. Give it a look!
Posted by: Wai Yip Tung at January 26, 2013 9:32 PM
um, is anyone else astounded by the notion that despite FOUR DECADES of growth and change in the city, Muni has not "holistically reviewed" their operations since the 1970s? I mean, judging by the level of service, it makes total sense. But...my god. This seems like it should be done at least every 5 years.
Posted by: chris at January 27, 2013 1:54 AM
Wai Yip Tung: thanks, shudda read the whole report. I do like transit bulbs, but still think they only have to be half as long to create additional parking spaces. Politically there is something for the "transit first" people and the pro car group. I like win-win ideas almost as much as "MY way or the highway".
Posted by: Leningrad at January 27, 2013 11:30 AM
Leningrad's win-win idea is brilliant! I have othen thought that part of the car hatred currently being thrown about is because MUNI victims HATE watching all those car drivers and passengers zooming by in safety and comfort arriving at their destination far ahead of their bus or trolley. All you have to do is pull up to a red light on Market on a rainy day and look at the hateful stares from those waiting for a bus to understand where some of the anti-car energy is fueled from. The smug satisfaction a bus passenger can feel knowing their bus is blocking cars behind them could initiate a bridge of understanding that streets are for more than bicycles and protest marches. It drives my non-car friends crazy when they hear me say "I'll pick you up in 10-15 minutes" when it would take them 35 minutes to travel the same distance on MUNI, but perhaps they will feel MUCH better knowing I had to sit and wait behind a frequently stopping bus.
Posted by: guiltydriver at January 27, 2013 1:50 PM
^You have weird friends.
If I need to get somewhere in 10-15 minutes, I take a cab. A bus takes 35 minutes, and a car takes 10-15 minutes plus 10-15 minutes to find parking. Both suck royally.
We need taxi reform, in order to have an appropriate number of cabs in the city.
Posted by: anon at January 27, 2013 1:56 PM
Taxi reform is needed on so many levels, especially because of current taxi bed bug problem and bizarre drivers.
Posted by: anontoo at January 27, 2013 2:17 PM
You aren't going to make the bus any faster if you have all of the stop lights actively timed to discourage drivers. There is a reason MUNI is the slowest in the country (at 8 MPH on average)... it's the freaking STOP LIGHTS!
Seriously, if you build a city around bikes, and wonder why your vehicle based mass transit is slow and nobody wants to use it, then you're a dolt. Fix the lights so people can actually get across town faster than they can run (and that's not stretching it either, it can take up to 2 hours to get from one end of town to the other).
Posted by: Brian at January 28, 2013 3:18 PM
I ran the bay to breakers in 54 minutes. much faster than a bus
Posted by: spencer at January 28, 2013 3:49 PM
The 38 Geary has a mix of stops, many after the stop but it seems (at least from where I get on and off) a small majority before the stops. I would be interested in finding out how big a difference it makes because it really seems random as sometimes the bus hits the light when its red (where a stop before the light saves time over waiting at the red and stopping again on the other side) while other times I've the bus runs the yellow and stops on the other side, saving time.
Eliminating stops would save time as from Divisadero to Montgomery the 38-L takes about 5 minutes less during the morning rush hour.
Posted by: Rillion at January 28, 2013 4:25 PM
Seriously, if you build a city around bikes
Seriously? I don't think so. Go to Amsterdam then report back.
Posted by: GaryFolsoma at January 28, 2013 4:58 PM
Even Amsterdam wasn't built around bikes. They just applied serious effort towards making cycling accessible to most residents.
Here in the Bay Area we're a lot better then the rest of the country and SF is now one of the best of the BA cities for cycling.
But lets not kid ourselves, SF and every American city has been engineered to make driving the easiest. No surprise then that driving is so popular.
Posted by: The Milkshake of Despair at January 28, 2013 5:17 PM
European cities grew organically around a center, usually a castle or a small urban core that could be easily defended. Commerce with the outside happened at the edges. This means many European cities' street structure is star-shaped (like Amsterdam, Rome, London or Paris). This is quite inefficient for car transport (all streets merging into a tiny core) which is why there was a need to favor public transit and alternate transportation.
American cities were designed with that flaw in mind, even way before the avent of the automobile (see NYC). No need for ramparts or moats means you can rationalize and be forward-looking. The grid structure enables multiple alternate routes as well as more decentralized activity. This is more car-friendly by design indeed. and as NY proved, it's also great for public transit if you are ready to spend the money for it.
Posted by: lol at January 29, 2013 11:23 AM
The bigger difference is that streets are simply a heck of a lot wider. Cars need lots of space: American cities give it to them (including SF, no matter how much drivers complain). Our residential streets are built to be arteries-- every last one of them.
Posted by: Alai at January 29, 2013 2:54 PM