Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Setting Up the Switch Hit

Supervisor Alioto Pier who represents Northern San Francisco asked in the July 14th Finance Committee meeting for TA staff to start thinking about an extension of the Central Subway to the Presidio under Lombard Street. (You can watch the video where she makes her request at 54:45 here).

It's an interesting proposal to say the least but how much of this is really driven by a want to kill the Market Street Railway extension for Fort Mason and beyond with its "visually polluting" overhead wires?
The second phase of the extension will take the streetcar down Beach Street, Cervantes and Marina Boulevard. That will involve erecting overhead power lines, putting rail tracks in the street and removing a lane of traffic. Putting overhead power lines down Marina Boulevard is contrary to Section 101.1 (b) (8) of the City Master Plan, City Urban Design Plan Element Policy 1.1, , and is contrary to the City Transportation Plan. Yet the City Planning Department states that it does not have to be involved with these plans!

The Marina Community Association is working with Supervisor Alioto-Pier and taking other steps to require the City Planning Department to accept its responsibility.
The neighborhood suggestion? Bring back the water taxi idea! If she really wanted better commute service to her district, an inexpensive option would be supporting the extension to the Presidio via the MSR extension. However in discussions with folks who live in the area, they want nothing to do with it. "It'll just bring all the tourists and riff raff and the wires are ugly" I've heard before. Again, my lungs don't care about your aesthetic. So what makes the subway expansion different? Well for one thing it's easier to kill than more inexpensive incremental MSR extensions.

Before this goes any further, I'd really like to know where she stands on the MSR extension already planned for her district and if the idea of a subway extension to the Presidio via Lombard is an honest one. Personally, I like the idea in the long term (Geary subway first ALWAYS) but I question her motives based on previous votes and a lack of understanding from her and her constituents to what transit-first really means. Alioto Pier has been pro commuter transit but not big on the transit "lifestyle".
While she supports the Transit Effectiveness Project (TEP), and wants more people to ride Muni, she doesn't necessarily feel the City should be encouraging people to get rid of their cars.
No one I know wants people to get rid of their cars, we just want the option of getting around without them. It would be nice to have a subway to the Presidio. I imagine a lot of people would use it, especialy people who come from Marin and want to skip the city drive to downtown. But Geary is first, and the MSR extension is an easy way to expand that direction with dedicated lanes. Let's see where this goes shall we?


Matt Fisher said...

Subway extensions are apparently easier to kill. In less than 90 minutes, my mom is getting her bariatric surgery in Utica, New York.

I question this stuff about overhead wires causing "visual pollution". It's just obstructionism. And this s**t about that only tourists will use a streetcar extension? Again, obstructionism.

Cavan said...

Tell that to Congress.

Daniel M. Laenker said...

Snob Hill holding up transit expansion with class resentments and arguments in the alternative? Those of us in DC have seen this before, in Georgetown, and they changed their minds eventually.

Jon said...

i dont see how this argument works in san francisco which has probably more overhead that any other city in north america. doesnt the 30 & 45 go right through these same neighborhoods?

why does the proposed MSR streetcar only go as far as marina safeway? why not go to crissy field or the palace of fine arts?

steve said...

Couldn't have seen this one coming miles away. The money on Marina Boulevard will allow wires in their Golden Gate Bridge view ... well, never. But I have a proposal for Michaela: take the E down Fillmore and Chestnut to the Presidio. It becomes less of a tourist attraction, but it's an actual, useful FiDi connection for locals, and Michaela knows as well as anyone who's actually involved in the process that the Central Subway won't reach the Marina in our lifetimes.

Cap'n Transit said...

I want people to get rid of their cars.

Matt Fisher said...


What about the 22 Fillmore bus? This is a trolleybus and goes through the area. Do the overhead wires of the bus affect their neighbourhood as much as a streetcar?

Why is it that a streetcar extension like this is something not to do? After a long bus ride to the edge of Orleans (Ontario, not France, and the one in France has trams again), I don't see why buses as a substitute for rail in my city, even if it means requiring transfers or higher costs, can cut it.

And about "getting rid of cars": This is apparently how some guy might try to frame it in the sense that the person is convinced autocentricity is still tolerable. I wouldn't like to sound like a wanker.

Pedestrianist said...

Ditto Cap'n Transit ;-)

Pantograph Trolleypole said...

So some people I know do want people to get rid of their cars... :)

BruceMcF said...

No, no, I want them to gain freedom from their cars ... if some still keep a car once they have gained their freedom from that, well, that's a matter of personal choice and being able to wear the income hit.

Matt Fisher said...

I second that motion. :)

Jarrett at said...

Folks, MSR isn't going to be a very fast way to get from the Presidio to the centroid of Market St demand, which I'm educatedly guessing is around Powell or maybe a little west of there.

You could build flyer stops for GGT buses on Doyle Drive and have rapid transit to the city, via the proposed Van Ness bus lanes no less!



Pantograph Trolleypole said...

I've actually thought of that too Jarrett. And yes, it's not a direct to Powell but it is a one seat ride. I imagine though that it might be overcrowded by tourists.

I've also thought that the big parking lot or at least the underside of Doyle Drive could act as a park and ride to keep people off the streets. It would be nice if it were a Subway but could also be express buses. Perhaps give people a GG Bridge discount. Van Ness could allow buses from other agencies as well making it San Francisco's kind of Lincoln Tunnel. Obviously I haven't thought this through. Just ideas.

Ultimately I would like to see a Subway, I just see this as a way to kill the MSR extension which I think would do well. But I also think that there should be a subway network around the city. Seems a good way to improve "mobility" that I would gladly pay for.