Mayor Wants Muni Off Market Street?

This morning’s Examiner has a startling story: Mayor Gavin Newsom is dreaming about going way beyond the current test auto restrictions on Market Street, and move all vehicles, including Muni buses and F-line streetcars off the street.
The article says Newsom is raising the possibility of rerouting “Muni to Mission Street or another nearby street so that Market Street could be transformed into a place solely for cyclists and pedestrians, and include such amenities as tables and chairs in the
center of the thoroughfare.”

1010 Market near Sutter.jpg

The article says Newsom acknowledged the idea is a long way from reality.  “That’s not being contemplated in the immediate term, but data
collection will afford us the opportunity to determine if that’s a
viable option,” he told the Examiner.
Several community leaders are quoted in the article as expressing skepticism of the plan. A similar plan put forward almost 40 years ago to try to turn back or reroute Muni lines off Market fell of its own weight.
Beyond the cost of moving the F-line tracks and overhead anywhere else, the lack of capacity for 12 additional Muni lines on Mission Street, or the reaction of Market Street/Union Square merchants and SOMA neighbors to the impacts, there’s the obvious inconvenience to tens of thousands of daily Muni riders on the surface of Market Street who won’t want to be forced to transfer onto overcrowded Muni Metro trains or make their surface journey even longer with a permanent detour in the wrong direction.  So our guess here is that either the Mayor was just musing about Nirvana or was somehow misunderstood by the reporter.
As we’ve advocated for years, less automobile traffic on downtown Market Street is a plus.  We’ve noticed during the current test that there’s still too many cars holding up Muni vehicles eastbound between Third and First, and we’d support testing additional restrictions (something Newsom also mentions in the article).  The great photo taken by Todd Lappin in this post shows what can Market Street can feel like when automobiles don’t dominate. Yet there are practical limits, so we won’t be planning to enjoy croissants and a latte at a cafe table stylishly located atop the BART ventilator in the middle of a Muni-free Market Street. 
But you bet we’re keeping an eye on this.

Comments: 7

  1. Up to this point, this guy from “Back East” has thought of your
    mayor as being a pretty good politician, and thoughtful administrator. Now this! Is he serious? Is he perhaps using
    the ‘MUNI off Market Street’ idea to spur people toward reacting to the idea, and moving to keep private vehicles off the street?
    It’s a long shlep from Market to Mission, and Mission is already
    loaded with transit and other vehicles. Peoples’ destination is
    in the Market area, and adding that extra distance will just spur more folks to abandon public transport and use their own private
    vehicles, worsening the situation.
    Lee Carlson
    Madison, CT

  2. Mayor Newsom is in “fantasyland”. The soul of San Francisco will be lost if streecars are removed from Market Street. I have faith that this will never happen.

  3. Thank goodness! I’ve never understood what this problem Muni has with trying to cram every bus line onto Market and them make us transfer at 4th to already overcrowded 30/45 busses so we can get to SOMA.
    Hopefully this is a wakeup call (several years too late by the way) from the mayor for Muni to get their act together and start running some bus lines to where people are already working in SOMA instead of making all of us riders, drivers, the cyclist and pedestrians suffer by clogging up Market and then again clogging up Stockton/4th. Then I have to backtrack a block from Brannan to Bryant and another over to 3rd, just because Muni doesn’t seem to have the first clue that job growth isn’t happening in the financial district.
    So cheers to the Mayor looking ahead, not backwards!

  4. That’s a cool fantasy. Maybe get some grass growing there, too. I kind of like the streetcars, myself. I kinda figure if you have two lanes for the electric vehicles to pass along that might be a neat compromise. (Relocating those tracks would be expensive, and the streetcars and trolleybuses are very iconic “San Francisco”)
    -danny

  5. I don’t think ANYONE (including Newsom) seriously thinks that removing ALL surface MUNI from Market will ever happen. I just think this is a Newsom ‘volley’… which is good. Or at least, it’s a step in the right direction. I say that because the Muni surface situation is SO horrendously bad, and has been getting worse each year I’ve lived here –since 1980. It’s simply ridiculous the way everything’s been show-horned onto this street! (A direct reflection of bad operations resulting from our ‘direct democracy’-trying-to-please-everybody (or at least the people with the biggest mouths!).
    There is a subway downstairs, which runs trains which are consistently half or a quarter the length of the subway platform. There should not ALSO be a gazillion buses paralleling the subway on the surface… particularly when there isn’t room for them.
    My preference has always been to keep the “F”, but radically re-think almost everything else (meaning have perhaps a precious FEW lines on the surface). Then have ALL surface lines board from the CENTER (or the curb), but NOT both!

  6. What a crackpot scheme!! Even though I’m not an S. F. resident as an urban rail advocate I think Mayor Newsom’s plan to eliminate all surface transit from Market Street by turning it into some goofy “new age” bike/pedestrian mall is extemely short sighted. It’s better if the street is coverted to a transit/pedestrian troughway instead. I’d be happy to see it be blocked off to those rubber tired “bondage parlors” that many people have the nerve to call automobiles. But not if Newsom and his friends are allowed to take away the streetcars and trolleybusses!

  7. Newsom, who seems to spend more time away from San Francisco, should visit cities like Grenoble, Strasbourg and Karlsruhe to see for himself how streetcars and pedestrians can co-exist peacefully. Newsom is the worst mayor this city has had over the last 40 years or so.

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