All Muni vehicles are being evicted from the downtown portion of Market Street for two weeks starting October 14, so that the Department of Public Works can install conduits for new traffic signals on a three block stretch between Fifth and Eighth Streets. This is the first phase of the tortured “Better Market Street” project, stripped way down from the bloated, unaffordable scope that SFMTA Chief Jeff Tumlin blew the whistle on when he took over in 2019.
“All Muni vehicles” include the F-line streetcars, which will be replaced by buses the entire length of the F-line, detouring around the construction via Mission Street. The other affected Muni lines on Market Street will do the same thing.
As noted in the story, Market Street Railway pushed back hard, and successfully, against earlier DPW plans to shut down most of the F-line for the entire two-year project. Not only that, DPW’s plans were to do similar shutdowns of most or all of the Market Street portion of the F-line in each subsequent phase, which could have led to streetcars being removed from Market Street for up to 15 consecutive YEARS!
Since Jeff Tumlin came to SFMTA, a healthy measure of rationality has returned to the scope of the Better Market Street project. The involved City departments are currently in a protracted planning process to re-scope possible future phases for other sections of Market Street.
At some point, some of the F-line tracks on Market will need to be replaced. Tracks above the BART/Metro station shells were installed in the late 1960s; tracks on the remainder of Market were installed during F-line construction in the early 1990s and should have remaining useful life. SFMTA now favors replacing all worn out track at once, while doing sidewalk, signal, and other work in block by block increments. This would minimize impact on F-line operation, though one multi-month shutdown would be needed for the track replacement.
When this happens (and there’s no schedule, nor funding for it yet), we will be monitoring closely to make sure any future F-line shutdown is as short as possible and is truly required for infrastructure renewal.