K Ingleside Streetcar Service Improvement Project ‘On Hold’

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Transit riders may have to keep waiting for faster K Ingleside light rail service.

The first phase of a project that would increase the number of riders on each train and alleviate traffic congestion has been paused, according to the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency.

“Planning for K Ingleside Muni Forward Program improvements are currently on hold as the transit planning team focuses on restoring Muni service through the winter,” SFMTA spokesperson Erica Kato told the Ingleside Light.

Muni Forward projects are designed to improve safety, reliability, and travel time on the most heavily used lines, according to SFMTA.

The K Ingleside Muni Forward project will examine the entire K-line from Junipero Serra Boulevard to Balboa Park Station, and make use of the Transit Priority Quick-Build Program which makes fast-to-do improvements such as curb painting, relocating stops and installing traffic signs.

“Specific details of those proposals are still in development, and we’ll be coming back to talk to the community through an outreach process later this year or next year about that,” SFMTA Planner Michael Rhodes said at the April 27, 2020, meeting of the Balboa Reservoir Community Advisory Committee.

The overall improvements will allow for more riders per train, safer access to boarding platforms and faster travel times through Ocean Avenue’s traffic congestion.

Muni operates two-car trains on the K-Line, but closes access to one car on Ocean Avenue because the boarding platforms are too short to accommodate them. It operates two-car trains because the K Ingleside is interlined with the T Third Street, which has platforms that can accommodate two-cars.

Many of the Ocean Avenue boarding platforms do not have amenities for riders. For instance, about half do not offer ADA access. Some do not have barriers dividing riders and oncoming traffic.

K Ingleside trains are often held up at busy intersections such as Ocean Avenue at Frida Kahlo Way and stuck behind private vehicles making left turns off Ocean Avenue.

Planning and design of this project are included in the SFMTA’s five-year capital improvement program, according to Rhodes.

“We don’t have a specific fleshed out proposal yet for Ocean Avenue,” Rhodes said at the April 2020 meeting. “But we have general program and staffing and funding identified to work through both near term and longer term improvements.”

The K Ingleside Muni Forward project would focus on the stretch of Ocean Avenue between Geneva Avenue and I-280, which has been designated part of the high-injury corridor network in the city’s Vision Zero plan.

“We need longer boarding islands to accommodate two-car trains, slower vehicle speeds on Ocean Avenue to protect pedestrians, and several of our intersections are badly designed and have needed attention for decades,” said Neil Ballard, outgoing District 7 representative on the SFMTA’s Citizens Advisory Council.