L train changes anger Sunset residents

Residents and shop owners alike in the Sunset District’s Taraval Street have collected signatures opposing the proposed changes to the train stops in the area.

The San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency is proposing a number of changes for the L Taraval designed to improve safety in the area.

Taraval Street is one of the streets in San Francisco where the most accidents occur, according to Paul Rose, SFMTA’s Media Relations Manager. Rose stated that there have been 46 traffic accidents – involving pedestrians, vehicles, and/or bikers – on Taraval Street in the past 5 years, and that 22 of those collisions have involved riders who were hit getting off the L train.

In an attempt to combat these accidents, SFMTA wants to implement several changes under the L Taraval Rapid Project. The proposed changes include adding lanes that exclusively for Muni vehicles, extending the length of existing train boarding islands, and eliminating six L Taraval stops between the San Francisco Zoo and West Portal in order to decrease train travel time between the two areas.

SFMTA proposes removing both stops at Taraval Street and 17th Avenue, the outbound stop at Taraval Street and 22nd Avenue, the inbound stop at Taraval Street and 24th Avenue, both stops at 28th Avenue, the outbound stop at Taraval Street and 35th Avenue and both stops at Ulloa Street and 15th Avenue.

“The L Taraval project is a safety project to improve muni rider safety and pedestrian safety,” Rose said. “Stop consolidation is meant so Muni can travel the same distance in less time with a shorter wait for the train.”

Many of the students who live in the area are either a proponent of the changes or don’t think taking stops out would affect their lives.

Brian Lacalle, SF State Fine Arts alumni, said he would be in favor of taking out some of the stops.

“I live all the way at the end of the L by the beach, so I have no problem cutting my stops through Sunset Boulevard in half,” Lacalle said. “(Right now the train) stops at every other block, which is half of the ride to get to the main stations.”

SF State marketing major Zac King also said that he didn’t think taking stops out would affect his daily commute.

“I live pretty close to a couple of different stops, so the worst case scenario would only make you walk like a block further, which is not a big deal.”

However, some of the residents who have lived on Taraval longer are concerned with what the stop removal would mean for their commute.

Paula Katz, a longtime Sunset resident who has been active in collecting resident signatures against the proposed changes, has a different concern about removing the train stops.

“(Removing the stops) would be saving two or three minutes (of transit time), but (many) people living here think is horrible because they’re going to have to walk 4 or 5 extra minutes so it doesn’t save them time at all,” Katz said.

Katz expressed concern for senior citizens who would have to walk farther to catch their train.

“There are people who will have difficulty walking the extra distance, especially uphill, and might risk missing the L. It can be a real hardship for many seniors and people with disabilities,” Katz said. “(Some residents have) lived down here for more than a generation. They’ve grown up relying on their stops.”

The L carries approximately 29,000 commuters a day, and 1,000 of its passengers get on the train in the Sunset district, according to the SFMTA website.

Katz and the other members of the community working to keep the current L stops have collected 1,000 signatures on 300 petitions, according to Katz.

“People in our neighborhood don’t think we need all these changes,” Katz said.

Another Sunset resident, Albert Chow, is concerned about some of the other aspects of the L Taraval Rapid Project. Chow, the owner of the family-owned family-owned hardware store on Taraval and 28 Streets, stated that he thinks Taraval is not a large enough street to accommodate the larger boarding islands that SFMTA wants to implement. He was also worried that the larger islands would eliminate the already-limited parking on the street.

“We understand the safety concerns here, and we want to find alternatives to putting in boarding islands and wiping out all the parking,” Chow said.

“We think that Judah, which has a lot of these features already, is already a street that’s not prosperous and unfriendly to driving on the street, but it’s very safe for boarding and (getting off of trains),” Chow said. “Other than that, it has no vibrancy whatsoever, and that’s exactly what we fear for Taraval Street. Taraval is a completely different type of a street than what Judah is.”

Rose also said that SFMTA is aware of some of the residents’ concerns.

“We understand those concerns about what stop consolidation can mean to someone who needs the stop close to their destination point, which is why we’re working very hard to ensure that we aren’t removing any stops near any senior cemters or medical centers.”

There are currently no more scheduled meetings to discuss the proposed changes.

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  • So far none of the recent changes instituted by SFMTA on the streets have made anyone happy. They have succeeded in upsetting pretty much everyone in all the neighborhoods. Time to revisit the policy priorities of SFMTA and their illustrious board.

    The Mission is once again ground zero. All the anger of the Mission residents will multiply and spill out over the rest of the city. Time to Take back City Hall to force the SFMTA Board members to stop messing with our streets.