Business owners not on board for plan to speed up Muni line 

Local businesses in the revitalized North of Panhandle neighborhood are fuming about a Muni proposal to strip parking spaces on a stretch of Divisadero Street to create a transit-only lane during the evening commute.

Traffic congestion on the corridor slows the 24-Divisadero to a snaillike 2.8 mph, according to Judson True, spokesman for the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency.

To increase its on-time performance, Muni is proposing a pilot project that would create a traffic lane used solely by the 24-Divisadero,which carries more than 10,000 passengers per day. As a result, street parking between Fulton and Oak streets would be banned from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m.

Jason Alexander, manager of Your Scents, a retail store at 645 Divisadero St., said the proposed changes would drastically hurt his evening sales.

"If they take away those parking spaces, I might as well close the doors at 4 p.m.," Alexander said.

There already is a ban on street parking from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. on Divisadero Street between Grove and Hayes streets. The owner of Jay’s Cheesesteak, which is located on that stretch of Divisadero Street, said customers flock to the available parking spaces the minute the clock strikes 6 p.m.

"Parking is already impossible around here," said Sal, who declined to give his last name. "Why add another hour to that trouble?"

Officials from the SFMTA met with community members this week to discuss the proposal. The agency originally planned on starting the project this summer, but has decided to delay the pilot project for at least two months, according to True.

As a result of public feedback, the pilot project will be split into two six-month segments. The first segment will run the transit-only lane from Hayes Street to Oak Street. The second six-month phase will extend the changes from Oak Street to Fulton Street.

A public hearing on the issue will be held at 10 a.m. today at City Hall. The project must be approved by the SFMTA board of directors before it can be implemented. If approved, the pilot will be evaluated after one year to determine if the changes become permanent.

True said the pilot project is part of the agency’s Transit Effectiveness Project, an 18-month study aimed at improving the department’s on-time performance and overall efficiency.

wreisman@sfexaminer.com

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