| Transit for City Residents First
By Wheelman Feb 15, 2007
In my last column, I suggested that our Muni management should drop its current model based upon service to every area of the City and focus their efforts instead upon maximizing service to the great majority who utilize certain routes.
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Let’s select as our example the Mission Street Corridor which runs all the way from San Mateo County line to the Embarcadero. The primary bus line is the #14 Mission supplemented in part by the #47 and #49.
The service on that corridor is abysmal even though it most likely carries more passengers than any other line. The poor service is primarily the result chaotic as non-existent scheduling. A recent experience was typical; two #14 buses headed downtown were stopped at 16th and Mission with both a #47 and a #49 waiting behind them. All four buses were tandems easily capable of holding 100 passengers. Only the first bus in line had many riders on board.
Any poor hopeful rider arriving after that convoy departed faced a long wait indeed.
What could be done to both speed up and better schedule service along this key transit corridor? Three ideas come to mind:
A first suggestion would be to shorten the route of the #14 Mission by dividing it into “inner” and “outer” segments during peak service hours. The primary reason for splitting the line is the compound, complex nature of the traffic conditions in the neighborhood through which this very long line passes. Not even Dale Earnhardt Jr. or Superman could successfully navigate through all the Mission Street obstacles and congestion with any degree of predictability. This is particularly true during the usual 7-10 and 4-7 “rush hours.”
However, if the route were to be divided into two sections, say at or somewhere around either 24th or 30th Street, each segment of the route would be only half as long cutting in half the likelihood of delays to the schedule. Moreover, 24th and 30th streets are major transfer points for riders changing lines. An “inner” Mission bus would pick up riders continuing towards downtown.
A second suggestion would be to a “#14 Mission A” and a “#14 Mission B” both starting at the Daly City border but both stopping less frequently - perhaps every 3 or 4 blocks at alternating corners. Thus, for example, “Mission A” might stop at 30th, Cesar Chavez, 24th, 19th, and 16th, while “Mission B” would stop at different corners such as 28th, 24th, 20th, and 16th. Of course both buses would stop at major transfer points like 24th and 16th streets.
Bus stops signs would, of course, be rewritten to note which was an “A” or a “B” stop so that riders could decide which suited their needs. One would also hope that the City would finally install on Mission Street the electronic arrival boards so everyone could determine for themselves which bus stop to wait at for the next bus.
A third possibility would b e to initiate an express bus system on Mission like that which has long been effectively used on the Geary route. The principal obstacle to express buses on Mission is that the electric buses used are connected to one set overhead wires so that buses cannot currently pass each other.
Undoubtedly modification of the wiring system would be expensive. The right question to ask is whether it would be nearly as expensive as some of the current projects proposed for “transit improvement” such as the billion-dollar “Central Subway” to serve Chinatown, or the billion-dollar “Transbay Caltrain Tunnel” to serve peninsula commuters?
My opinion is that our city officials should spend a whole a lot more time improving basic Muni service for the residents of the City and less on helping out commuters. This is particularly the case when it is obvious that a whole lot city residents use transit lines like the #14 Mission than are even likely to use either the Caltrain tunnel or its twin sisters, the “Central Subway.”
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