INGLESIDE, San Francisco — As part of a citywide bid to encourage and improve public transit amid the pandemic, the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency has proposed adding temporary transit-only lanes along Ocean and Geneva avenues.
The lanes, which would extend from the Visitacion Valley neighborhood to Junipero Serra Boulevard, could become permanent with community support. They are part of the SFMTA’s plan to use temporary transit-only lanes across the city to alleviate plummeting ridership and increasing private vehicle travel caused by the pandemic.
The purpose of the transit-only lanes is to preserve the performance of buses, light-rail vehicles and taxis while enabling better social distancing to reduce passenger exposure to each other, according to a letter the SFMTA sent to taxi operators.
The SFMTA is implementing the transit-only lanes in phases. The Ocean-Geneva corridor would be a part of the final set, according to a map presented at the July 21 SFMTA Board of Directors meeting.
“In a lot of the corridors in the southeastern portion of the city, we are working with the supervisors to identify and work on really good outreach techniques that could involve traditionally disenfranchised communities, especially during this period where people are harder to reach, and making sure that we’re doing that in a thoughtful manner before moving forward,” said Sean Kennedy, acting deputy director of transit, at the meeting.
While private vehicles are expected to experience a degree of slowing once transit-only lanes are introduced, numerous District 7 residents have called the proposed addition a necessary investment in transit, especially for working class communities.
“Remember, the people who suffer the most from poor transit are the lower-income populations and communities of color who depend on Muni most of all,” said Christopher Peterson, a District 7 resident and member of SF Transit Riders, who supported adding lanes on Ocean Avenue at the June 23 San Francisco County Transportation Authority Board meeting.
Others at that meeting added that improving the neighborhood’s transit is particularly beneficial when considering the approval of the Balboa Reservoir project, which would replace about 1,000 parking spaces in the City College of San Francisco parking lot with 1,100 housing units.
The SFMTA intends to conduct an extensive outreach process for the transit-only lane on Ocean and Geneva avenues.
Neil Ballard, chair of the SFMTA Citizens Advisory Committee representing supervisorial District 7, said he thought adding a transit-only lane would make it slower to drive while making transit more efficient. He called it a great idea.
“I’ve heard from many people who rely on the K Ingleside and are still eagerly awaiting its return,” Ballard said. “I’d like to see the specific proposal from the SFMTA, of course, to evaluate the details of how a transit-only lane will be implemented.”
Dan Weaver, executive director of the Ocean Avenue Association and member of the SFMTA Citizens Advisory Committee representing supervisorial District 11, said that between the Muni streetcar entrances and the exits yard, Ocean Avenue can be very crowded from morning to evening.
“When the private vehicles are going and coming off the freeway and the streetcars are going in or out of their yards, it can become a challenge,” Weaver said. “Some have said that getting in and out of the Green Yard is often more difficult than entering Embarcadero Station going outbound.”
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