27 January 2015

Muni's New 55-16th Street Route, Where have you been all this time?

Next Monday, January 31, Muni officially starts a brand new bus route to service Mission Bay from the Mission District. The temporary 55-16th Street route will run from  the 16th Street Mission BART Station to Mission Bay at Third St and Mission Bay Blvd. With the growth of Mission Bay with the UCSF campus, new office space, residents and the opening of the UCSF Medical Center, transit access to the area desperately needed.
New 55-Sixteenth St bus heading to "Mission St/BART".  Image: Urban Life Signs
However, Mission Bay with the university campus, biotech firms and other companies, has been quite developed for over five years now. Why hasn’t a Muni bus route from the Mission been started earlier to meet transit needs?

The short answer: Muni has lacked funding, but more importantly, a quasi transit service was getting folks to Mission Bay anyway.

New 55-16th St Muni Bus Line and the unchanged 22-Stanyan bus to Dogpatch. Image: SFMTA
The Original Plans
Transit service from the Mission and points west has long been planned for Mission Bay. The original Mission Bay Project EIR (1998) called for rerouting the 22-Fillmore to follow 16th Street to Third Street, and terminating at Mission Bay Boulevard and Third Street. This was reiterated in UCSF Mission Bay CampusMaster Plan and Design Guidelines (1999) planning documents. However it appears that Muni ran into logistical and funding challenges to have the overhead electric wires added along 16th Street between Kansas St and Third St. I haven’t been able to find the exact history of Muni’s funding requests, but it appears that it has yet to receive funding to for electrification of 16th St that a rerouted 22-Fillmore would require. In addition, installing wires at the Caltrain railroad crossing  has proven technically challenging, due to the high vertical clearance required so trains do not hit the wires, but the buses trolley poles can still reach much higher wires at the crossing.

Year 2015 Assumed changes to Muni's Existing Service in the vicinity of Mission Bay.  Note that the routes marked "1" and "2" are two alternatives of extending the 30-Stockton and 45-Union buses into Mission Bay and to replace the 22-Fillmore's service into Potrero Hill. Source: Mission Bay Subsequent Environmental Impact Report
The Red Line
The UCSF Red Line shuttle has ensured service for UCSF’s employees and students to and from BART at the 16th St Mission Station. Although the shuttle only allows employees, students and patients on board, this policy hasn’t been enforced on any UCSF Shuttle line (until recently). We’ll get into this more later.