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Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Transit Effectiveness Project (TEP): SF Muni's Bad Ideas for 38 and 18 Lines

Many people may or may not know that I live in the Outer Richmond District. I noticed a little while back that San Francisco Muni had released these new proposals to modify many of the transit lines that we are so used to. But two of my local lines really started to hurt.

Since I cannot go to the hearing on Tuesday the 16th because I'm stuck at work, I e-mailed the SFMTA Board of Directors as requested by the TEP representatives, but I don't even know if they will even read my lengthy comments. So I'm going to post my ideas here:

For the 38-Geary line, the proposal by Muni will eliminate the Ocean Beach branch of the line. Currently the three major branches is: Ft. Miley (38 regular), Ocean Beach (38 regular), and 48th Avenue and Pt. Lobos (38 limited). I really think they are going in the wrong direction with this and should plan to restore service to the Ocean Beach terminal. I can understand that having huge articulated vehicles running on Balboa Street is not the best idea due to bus noise and the narrow lanes in certain sections, so it might work best if the line runs the 38-Limited route, but goes down Pt. Lobos past the Cliff House to the Great Highway and turns at Fulton to the Ocean Beach terminal. The inbound route will follow the opposite direction, but stop at the 38-Limited terminal for an easy transfer to the limited line.

(Inbound daytime service starting from Ocean Beach Terminal)

(Outbound daytime service to Ocean Beach terminal)

Muni's TEP people also proposed changing the 38-Geary Owl service to not terminate at the Ocean Beach terminal, but to stop at the Fort Miley terminal. I think Muni should take an opportunity to increase their coverage on the owl service line by serving all three terminals. People are used to taking the 38 Owl to Ocean Beach, so why not restore it and also serve the neglected areas like 48th & Point Lobos, and Fort Miley hospital? The area around here is very hilly, and for people who live north of the Ocean Beach terminal live on an extremely steep hill. Still, it follows my proposed route modifications, but will eliminate the loud noise on Balboa street since that line runs 24-hours a day in a neighborhood. Passengers who live on Balboa can easily take the 5-Fulton owl service and walk two blocks on a usually flat or slightly pitched sidewalk.

(CORRECTION: The 38-Owl service is proposed to terminate at 48th Avenue and Pt. Lobos, however this error still does not change my argument to serve all three terminals)

(Inbound 38-Geary Owl service route serving all three terminals)

(Outbound 38-Geary Owl Service route serving all three terminals)

Lastly, the 18-46th Avenue line's modifications are not really acceptable. While I did not make any maps, I'll point out the changes that might take place. To give some background on the 18-line, the bus line is one of the best lines in the entire city, easily accessible route to SFSU, and only the most senior operators with the best reputations get to drive this line (because everyone wants to drive it).
  1. In the northern section (above Golden Gate Park) of the route, it is proposed to remove the route going around the Cliff House by having the line actually drive through Balboa and turn North to serve 33rd Avenue and Geary. This route will slow down the line's current efficient route because Balboa is a "stop and go" type of road, and I think in the best interest of the neighborhood, eliminating the noisy gas powered buses will be a real help. And the people at Balboa can ride on the quiet 31-Balboa line to the Ocean Beach terminal to ride my proposed modified 38-Geary Ocean Beach branch line or the 18, or can even walk two block to ride the new proposed 5L-Fulton Limited line.
  2. In the area around Lake Merced, the TEP proposal will not go around John Muir Drive (the southern edge road of Lake Merced) and will run on the northern end of Lake Merced. It is true that it will make the ride faster, but it has a major disadvantage. If you have ever driven the south edge of Lake Merced, John Muir drive has this big apartment complex, and when I ride this bus, a lot of SFSU students, staff, and faculty board the bus for a direct ride to SFSU. The TEP proposal eliminates this and moves the 17-Parkmerced line to serve this area. However, this change will nearly triple the time it takes to get to SFSU because the eastbound bus will go into Daly City to pick-up Daly City BART passengers, and wind through the road maze known as Parkmerced. If the 18-line stays the way it is, it is only adding a five minutes to the route, and just that few minutes can bring in extra money to Muni since SFSU folks at John Muir drive depends on this route for direct service to campus.
  3. Also noted about the route change on Lake Merced, there is no easy to access bus stop for SFSU students at all. All SFSU affiliates get-off on the current route at Lake Merced and Font Blvd. (the dorms) and take a short walk to their classrooms. The new route will make people walk a longer route to make it to campus since it does not make a direct stop at campus, thereby may not make the line suitible for SFSU affiliates. This is especially discouraging for SFSU people who attend or work on the west end (lower end) of campus versus the east end ("up-campus") of campus. I use the 18 for a direct ride to SFSU, and if this route goes into effect, I might just drive to campus.
Thanks for reading. Below is the original letter I sent to the SFMTA Board of Directors:
Dear SFMTA Board of Directors,

I am e-mailing the SFMTA Board of Directors today to post my comments on some of the proposed changes to the lines serving the Outer Richmond district.

In regards to the proposed removal of the 38-Geary Ocean Beach branch line, I believe that this line is still very useful during its daytime operations as it also is part of the late night owl service used in today's Muni service.

--First of all, I believe the daytime route should be modified outbound to go straight down Geary and down Pt. Lobos on the road towards the Great Highway (passing the Cliff House) and going directly to the bus terminal. For the downtown trip, it would start at the Ocean Beach terminal, go up Pt. Lobos past the Cliff House, right turn at 48th Avenue to drop-off/transfer passengers for the 38-Limited for a faster ride (this will be a popular option for passengers!), and continue on Geary on the normal route. This alternate route is faster, gives easy access for tourists to visit the Cliff House, eliminates the "stop and go" driving on Balboa, use of noisy motorized buses on Balboa, and 38-Ocean Beach branch line passengers can still get to their destination on Balboa by simply transferring to the 31-Balboa line.

--The Owl line route should also help out more residents of the Outer Richmond too. Currently, the only 38-Geary route Owl service is the Ocean Beach branch. However the proposed modification would remove the route and terminate at the Ft. Miley hospital for owl service. Since the 38 line is one of the main lifelines of this city, I feel it best if the line should serve all three major terminals in one route so that it can accomodate everyone, espeically the very hilly parts of the Outer Richmond that makes it a challenge for older passengers (this is especially true in the 40th-48th avenues where the hills are steep between Cabrillo and Geary). My suggestion is to have the outbound owl buses serve in this order: Ft. Miley (by request), the bus stop at 48th Avenue and Pt. Lobos (northwest corner stop, diagonally opposite of the Seal Rock Inn), and terminate at Ocean Beach terminal (by driving on Pt. Lobos (going past the Cliff House). For the downtown route: Ocean Beach Terminal, 48th Ave. and Pt. Lobos terminal, and Ft. Miley by request of activation of the signal at Ft. Miley. If there is a concern about regular Owl passengers losing their service on Balboa, it should be noted that the 5-Fulton is an owl service line and Balboa is only two blocks away with little or no hills to climb and could calm the motorized bus noise problem dramatically.

I also disagree with the proposed changes to the 18-46th Avenue line. The current route of the line is very efficient, fast, and is considered one of the best bus lines in the entire city; even to the point where Muni operators highly desire to drive on this route.

--The modified route on the northern sector of the city will cause much longer driving times and does not serve any real convienence. Balboa is a very "stop and go" street and I believe that not using Balboa for this modified route will reduce the vehicle noise and help out the neighborhood at large since the 31-Balboa is a trolley bus line. If you are wondering if this will cause any problems for Balboa St. passengers, they can easily ride the 31 to the Ocean Beach terminal for the 18 or ride my proposed modified 38 Ocean Beach branch. Also, removing the 18-46th Avenue's service area covering the Cliff House and 48th Avenue/Geary to 33rd Avenue/Geary will hurt tourism for the Cliff House and the many residents who rely on an easy and direct route for many services (SFSU, SF Zoo, Stonestown, etc.) and connections to other major Muni lines.

--I am also aware of the removal of 18 service on the south end of Lake Merced (John Muir Drive), where it is proposed to be more efficient to run on the nothern rim of Lake Merced. I do agree that this route modification will improve service, however this does cause problems for students and employees of SFSU. The new proposed change will make it much harder to access SFSU as there is much more walking involved. Many SFSU students and staff exit on the current route at Lake Merced and Font, next door to the residence halls (dormitories) and most SFSU students to not exit at the end of the line (Stonestown) to walk half a mile to campus. There are also many SFSU students and employees who live at the apartments on John Muir Drive, and if the proposal goes through and the 17 line serves this route, there will be no fast direct access to SFSU for these people. The 17's modified route serving the John Muir Drive apartments would have to go through a dizzy maze serving other parts of Park Merced and Daly City BART, and that would really add much more time to their already simple commute. Now surely the modified route would cut the bus ride by five minutes, but that five minutes can also rake in more passengers and financial income if Muni does not modify this line.

In summary, I believe the proposed changes to the 38-Geary lines can be adjusted to still serve Ocean Beach terminal, there can be an easy change to adjust the 38-Geary owl service to serve more than one terminal, and the 18-46th Avenue line should not be changed for efficiency purposes and to keep its service on John Muir Drive for SFSU affiliates.

Thank you.


Anonymous said...

The 28 line is planned to have the Golden Gate Bridge to Marina section closed. There are so many tourists that use the 28 to get to and from the Golden Gate Bridge to Fisherman's Wharf (via the Marina of course).

Akit said...

That's disappointing. Muni is also proposing for the 28 and 28L to have different terminals for the southern ends of the line.

Whole Wheat Toast said...

They probably won't read your letter, because Muni lacks common sense. That's why almost everyone is pissed. They're going to cut connections from Hunters Point to Galileo, they're going to turn the 19 around at SF General, which means they have to transfer to the 48, but the 19's barely reliable, i remember having to wait for 30 minutes near SF General, so would it actually improve reliability???? No. I could go on and on, but I'll probably go all night with this.

Akit said...

That's why I blogged my letter Whole Wheat Toast.

Put it out for the public to look at; and since I've been getting a lot of attraction for my critical opinions on Outsidelands' post event Muni service, and catching Muni red handed violating a promise with BART/Muni transfer tickets, this is the perfect place to tell Muni what I feel.

Whole Wheat Toast said...

they probably won't care, unless someone does something to get Nat Ford's attention...

Whole Wheat Toast said...

they just approved the TEP plan if you're interested

yup...Nat Ford = No common sense
Irwin Lum = Advocating for a more dangerous Muni since...er, when did he become union chief anyway?