Muni: L-Taraval Streetcar Improvements Much More Than Just Transit Changes

Muni officials presented plans to upgrade the L-Taraval streetcar line and a plan to update the agency’s website, as well as updates to the Muni Forward campaign and the Folsom Streetscape project at the August meeting of the Municipal Transportation Agency Citizens’ Advisory Council.

Capital Planning and L-Taraval

Muni transportation planner Michael Rhodes presented the changes to the L-Taraval line in the context of a larger infrastructure overhaul for the street.

The latest plans constitute Muni’s attempt to set a balance between improving pedestrian safety and retaining parking spaces.

In community meetings earlier in the year, Sunset residents came out against the idea of adding boarding islands at the expense of parking spaces.

In the past five years, 46 pedestrians have been hit by vehicles on Taraval Street. Twenty-two of the injured pedestrians were entering or exiting a streetcar, according to Rhodes.

In addition to boarding islands, Muni is considering adding painted boarding zones, transit-only lanes and pedestrian bulb outs to improve safety.

The presentation identified five test locations for painted boarding zones to alert drivers who might have driven through the boarding zone.

Rhodes and Julie Kirschbaum, Muni’s transit service planning manager, emphasized that the improvements to the transit line are part of a much larger infrastructure improvement project.

“We are basically rebuilding every aspect of Taraval. It’s going to have new sewers, new rail, new overhead wires, so there’s an opportunity, when we put the street back together, to think about how can it operate more like a safe, reliable light rail system,” Kirschbaum said.

Other upgrades as part of the project will include surface repaving, water and sewer replacements and curb ramp improvements.

The council passed a motion supporting the proposed changes to Taraval, a second motion suggesting that the agency prioritizes the washing of Muni light rail vehicles stopping lights and a third motion suggesting that the pedestrian safety street paint should be applied elsewhere in The City if successful on Taraval Street.

Website Overhaul

Kristin Smith, Marketing Manager at Muni, presented her team’s progress on the most recent update to the agency’s website.

Muni’s web presence began in 2002 with a “not very corporate” site, and was updated in 2007 and 2013. The current project is the second phase of the 2013 redesign.

Designers aim to decrease the site’s reliance on PDFs, simplify navigation to the most popular pages and improve service for the growing number of cell phone users, who now make up 50 percent of monthly website traffic, according to Smith.

After collecting feedback from transit riders and Muni employees, developers are working on the design of the new site. The project is expected to be completed in May 2017.

The council members’ questions highlighted the variety of uses for the agency’s website, including information about CAC meetings (a minority of users) or information about bus routes (one of the most popular uses).

Folsom Streetscape Project

Greg Riessen, a one-time council member, now Muni employee, presented the final plans for the Folsom Streetscape project.

The streetscape project will feature protected bike lanes from 2nd Street to the Embarcadero, and one lane of traffic going each way, parking lanes and expanded sidewalks.

The council had no follow-up questions for Riessen, joking that the one-time council member was the first planner to give a perfect presentation.

Meeting Recap

  • A presentation about Muni’s plans to improve its website
  • A presentation previewing plans for updates to the L-Taraval streetcar line
  • Greg Riessen, a one-time council member and current transportation engineer, presented the final plans for the Folsom Streetscape project
  • Frank Zepeda summarized the Engineering, Maintenance and Safety Committee’s previous meeting

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