The oft-crowded and delayed 29 Sunset Bus is finally getting serious attention from city officials after years of advocacy from students demanding that significant service improvements be implemented.
The San Francisco County Transportation Authority board, which is composed of the city’s 11 district supervisors, gave final approval for $1 million in Proposition AA funding at its Dec. 13 meeting for the design of the first phase of the 29 Sunset Improvement Project.
“I'm really happy to see some progress being made on the 29 Sunset improvements,” said District Supervisor Myrna Melgar at the board’s Dec. 6 meeting. Melgar, who represents District 7, also said the route is an important one that gets students from the Bayview to the westside schools and students have made complaints about being passed up by buses due to overcrowding.
The 29 Sunset covers several neighborhoods in the city, including parts of the Ingleside, Bayview, Excelsior, Park Merced, Sunset, Richmond and the Presidio. Additionally, the bus route serves several K-12 schools and colleges, including the City College of San Francisco and San Francisco State University.
The first phase of the project covers the western segment of the route from Bowley Street and Lincoln Boulevard in the Presidio to Junipero Serra Boulevard and Holloway Avenue.
Nearly 12% of passengers on the 29 identify as students compared to 9% systemwide, according to the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency.
In a survey conducted by SFMTA in 2021 with 444 responses, top priorities for passengers included reducing wait and travel times.
Under the current proposal for the first phase of the project, the agency is proposing eliminating transit stops that are closely spaced and moving stops from the near side to the far side. Additionally, the SFMTA is proposing adding transit signal priority along Sunset Boulevard to help speed up the buses.
The initiative to improve the 29 Sunset was led by students from Lowell High School in 2019. The students advocated for their ideas to improve the bus route at a SFMTA Board of Directors meeting. Many called for a 29 Sunset rapid bus, which would require street changes to prioritize bus travel along with efficient stop spacing to move buses more efficiently.
While a sustainable source of funding has not yet been identified to create a rapid route, the SFMTA said the project for the current route will help “pave the way” for a rapid route.
Construction is anticipated to begin in late 2023 and with the first phase of the project open for use by the end of 2026, according to the SFCTA.
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