by JIM MEKO
MUNI just discontinued the northbound #9 San Bruno bus stop at 11th and Mission Streets. I think that’s about all we’re gonna get from the Transit Effectiveness Project (TEP).
What once sounded so promising went down in flames as the result of arrogant planners and a flawed public process. The San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency (SFMTA) turned a deaf ear to a group of community leaders who had spent more than three years developing a community transportation plan.
While the Planning Department rezoned almost a quarter of the city in the Eastern Neighborhoods process without ever addressing transportation needs, the community planning process here in Western SoMa based its entire plan on transportation improvements.
The Western SoMa Task Force maintained that any increase in population density would have to be accompanied by a well thought out transit scheme. Among other things, they recommended extending the 47 Van Ness line along a two-way Folsom Street as a continuation of the Van Ness bus rapid transit (BRT) system and adding a Caltrain shuttle to draw Peninsula-bound passengers away from the already overcrowded SoMa routes with a direct link from Market Street to the 4th and Townsend station. Folsom Street service would be extended to provide uninterrupted service to the new neighborhood commercial corridor with easy access to passengers from the Embarcadero all the way west into the Mission. The final TEP plan never resembled the community’s proposal. It was crafted by bureaucrats who thought they knew better. Ultimately, their plan became so convoluted that it was shot down by the SFMTA board of directors, leaving us with essentially the status quo.
The TEP was supposed to reimagine the routes and levels of service based on real-time measurements. Well, the Western SoMa Plan imagines nearly 10,000 new residents in the next twenty years. Most transportation planners would agree that new residents will never surrender their automobiles without a reliable transit system. And it’s pretty obvious, in real time, that the MUNI underground system is packed to the gills by the time the trains reach Church Street with passengers passing through the Financial District to make the unbelievably inefficient loop past the ballpark back onto King Street and on to the Caltrain station. And I guarantee that Folsom Street will never reach its full potential as a neighborhood commercial corridor without easy access to a customer base along the Embarcadero and from the north Mission.
The TEP is done. The route changes are locked in place. Folsom Street is the last undecided transportation issue left in SoMa. If the SFMTA ignores the mandate for this ceremonial central corridor, SoMa needs its own process.