SFMTA Drops Ocean Avenue from Temporary Emergency Transit Lane Program

Map of existing and proposed transit-only lanes. (Image from SFMTA)

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Anticipating that the city’s emergency declaration in response to the pandemic will be lifted soon, the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency dropped its plan to create an emergency temporary transit only lane on Ingleside’s stretch of Ocean Avenue.

In August 2020, the transportation agency announced a plan to free stretches of roadway where buses and streetcars operate from the congestion caused by private vehicles. Ocean Avenue was part of the “Future Proposed Group” with nearby 19th and Geneva avenues along with a number of other streets. The agency intends to make the lanes permanent if possible.

“While Ocean Avenue won’t be pursued as part of the Temporary Emergency Transit Lanes program, the corridor is still a priority for transit improvements and [we] will begin outreach in the future,” SFMTA spokesperson Stephen Chun told the Ingleside Light.

Chun would not state when the improvement project would start when pressed. As reported earlier this month, the Muni Forward K Ingleside streetcar service improvement project is on hold while SFMTA focuses on restoring service to pre-pandemic levels.

“Temporary emergency transit only lanes and the Muni quick build program are great examples of how SFMTA can use pilots to ensure immediate benefit for transit riders while still engaging in important conversations with the surrounding community,” San Francisco Transit Riders Advocacy Director Zack Deutsch-Gross told the Ingleside Light.

District 7 Supervisor Myrna Melgar said SFMTA had not yet briefed her on its decision to abandon the remainder of streets in the Temporary Emergency Transit Lanes program. 

“It bums me out that Ocean Avenue gets lower priority in terms of transit. That has been pretty consistent,” Melgar told the Ingleside Light.

Melgar and the San Francisco County Transportation Authority, which she oversees as a commissioner, will launch a task force to work on the transportation issues from Balboa Park Station to Junipero Serra Boulevard in September, she added.

SFMTA spokesperson Chun said the agency “anticipates joining” the task force.

“We look forward to engaging with Supervisor Melgar and the SFCTA on long term solutions along Ocean Avenue and other key corridors through the city,” Deuch-Gross said. “However, riders shouldn’t have to wait over a year and in some cases until 2026 when we could pilot these needed transit improvements sooner.”

For Geneva and 19th avenues, SFMTA doesn’t anticipate starting outreach until after 2022, according to SFMTA spokesperson Chun.

SFMTA recently implemented parts of the Mission / Geneva Safety Project and is currently working on 19th Avenue as part of the 28 19th Ave Rapid Project.