Transportation Director Tumlin Talks Ingleside Transit

The head of the city's transit agency spoke about subway plans, a new fare program and the future of the K Ingleside.

San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency Director Jeffrey Tumlin. Courtesy image
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San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency Director of Transportation Jeffrey Tumlin gave a presentation about Muni service at a community meeting on Monday where he outlined his vision for improving service across the city and on Ocean Avenue.

Citing the decimation of the transit agency’s revenue stream by the COVID-19 pandemic, Tumlin held up the $115 million in federal funding received in March which is being used to fill more than 1,000 job vacancies for the restoration transit lines cut during 2020.

“We are still facing the worst financial crisis in our agency’s 110-year history,” Tumlin said. “Two of our three sources of revenue — transit fares, and parking fees and fines — completely collapsed.”


The SFMTA’s budget will go before the mayor and board of supervisors for approval in the next few weeks.

“People have been very willing to share their opinion about traffic and transit service,” Tumlin said. “We've gotten engagements with a couple of thousand stakeholders in a variety of languages. [...] They really want to make Muni fast, frequent, reliable and more accessible. And finally, they want rider personal safety both onboard Muni and on our streets.”

The agency fully funded free Muni for youth for the next two years and will sustain its free Muni for seniors and people with disabilities.

Fares will not be raised for the next two years.

A 10-ride pass as an alternative to the Fast Pass is in development.

“Not everyone needs to go to the Financial District every day, and so the Fast Pass doesn't necessarily make sense for as many San Franciscans as it once did,” Tumlin said.

Tumlin said the agency will continue focusing its service on communities that need Muni the most, which includes the Ocean View-Merced Heights-Ingleside and Excelsior and corridors such as Ocean Avenue.

Along with Visitacion Valley, Chinatown and the Western Addition, the OMI and Excelsior have been getting more service causing ridership to exceed pre-pandemic levels on some routes.

Bond on the Ballot

Muni is on the ballot this June. Proposition A, a $400 general obligation bond, aims to tackle a number of longstanding problems.

Tumlin said if it passed, the agency would use the funds to replace its older fleet of light rail vehicles, reinvest in a new train control system to improve reliability, perform midlife overhauls of buses and upgrade maintenance facilities.

“It's also critical for us,” Tumlin said. “In order to compete for federal infrastructure dollars, we need to have a local match.”

The SFMTA will continue investing in transit priority projects, safety and security by hiring transit ambassadors trained in de-escalation, a safety initiative to reduce gender-based harassment and quick-build projects.

“We doubled our production of safety related projects during COVID and we're hoping to double again,” Tumlin said.

Save Muni, an organization that advocates to improve the agency, opposes the bond.

“We consider this bond measure far too vague,” Save Muni said in a May 2 announcement. “It fails to identify specific cost-effective transit improvements and prioritize them for funding.”


While the L Taraval construction continues over the next two years and the T Third Street is disconnected from the K Ingleside and moved into the Central Subway, the agency plans to implement the new train control system to improve frequency and reliability.

“The Market Street subway has never run very efficiently since the very beginning,” Tumlin said. “Trying to take five effectively streetcar routes and turn them into a subway has always been challenging for the agency. Plus, we're running one and two car trains into a subway designed for four car trains.”

This is particularly important because of the need to accommodate additional development at Parnassus and Parkmerced, he added.

The agency wants to improve frequency and reliability on all of the city’s key corridors, including Ocean Avenue for the K.

“Lines like 22 Fillmore are now at 133% of their pre-COVID ridership on weekends partly because we made a whole array of investments in speed, frequency and reliability,” Tumlin said. “We want to do the same thing to the K.”

The SFMTA is collaborating with Supervisor Myrna Melgar and the San Francisco County Transportation Authority on an Ocean Avenue study that will look again at frequency and reliability improvements for the K and other upgrades.

“We are still on track for opening the Central Subway in October, and when that happens the T goes into the Central Subway and the K gets disentangled,” Tumlin said. “We're hoping the most immediate benefit that you all will be experiencing this fall is a more reliable K because, right now, when the K turns into the T, it ended up being an extremely long route.”

Tumlin said the agency has been pointed leaders of the regional Link 21 project toward a line that starts at Daly City BART, continues up 19th Avenue all the way to Geary, goes into downtown and then cuts to South of Market to the Transbay Transit Center through to Oakland and onto Sacramento.

Undergrounding the K would not serve the neighborhood well, he said.

“The K is a streetcar for the Ocean Avenue commercial district and for a whole series of neighborhoods,” Tumlin said. “If we were to put it in the subway, you'd get one station. So what the 19th Avenue-Geary subway does is it allows you to have local surface routes that connect to a limited number of regional hubs.”

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