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Like it or not, transit-only lane coming to West Portal

May 4, 2019

By Sally Stephens : sfexaminer – excerpt

The San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency wants to put a transit-only lane on one block of West Portal to speed up Muni trains.

The San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency wants to put a transit-only lane on one block of West Portal to speed up Muni trains. The idea has not been popular with many merchants and neighbors. It will go to a vote before the SFMTA Board on May 21.

The agency says buses and trains often get stuck behind cars, and, therefore, banning cars from the lanes used by Muni will speed up the routes. Mission Street, for example, has nearly two miles of red transit-only lanes. Buses using those lanes do indeed move faster now…

Now the merchants are worried they’ll lose even more money because of the SFMTA plan. They wonder how they’ll get deliveries, and fear that if it becomes harder to find parking on the block, customers will stop coming.

They’re right to be concerned. The Mission Merchants Association polled businesses along Mission Street. Of the 350 contacted, 301 reported a loss of revenue that they attributed to the transit-only lanes, noting how much harder the lanes made it for customers to find parking near the stores. Fourteen businesses closed after the red lanes were painted. Three dozen employees were laid off. Nearly all the store vacancies on the street are on the side with the red lanes…

SFMTA staff admit they’re essentially experimenting with San Francisco’s streets. But transit doesn’t happen in a vacuum. While the agency does appear to finally be listening to some of the merchants’ concerns, a failed experiment — or expanding the pilot too much — could be disastrous for the small businesses struggling to survive on West Portal. Unfortunately, only time will tell, time — and money — the merchants may not have.… (more)

What is not right about this?

The West Portal merchants might want to join the Mission at a meeting this Tuesday and protest the Red Lanes and find out how the SFMTA plans to “mitigate” their loses. The merchants might want to stage their own protest before they all lose their businesses and deal with landlord lawsuits. The landlords may also want to protest this loss of their tenants, unless they like the idea of empty shops and paying vacancy taxes.

Maybe the merchants want to file a joint complaint before the Red Lanes go in, and let the courts decide on the legality of turning city streets into experiments.

Please comment on the source if you can.

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