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SoMa Loop Bus Route Needed

One of my big frustrations as a resident in Rincon Hill is the fact that the high-rise, 400-600 foot tall residential towers are justified by the Planning Department with phrases like “transit-oriented development,” but there’s not a single neighborhood-serving bus line that goes through this “transit-oriented development” neighborhood. The 12-Folsom bus kinda served that purpose, but stopped rolling through Rincon Hill (east of 2nd Street) on December 5, 2009 when MUNI made a bunch of service cuts based on TEP data collected years before the construction boom in Rincon Hill.

As a result, lots of new residents are moving in to Rincon Hill and other SoMa neighborhoods with habits of driving instead of taking transit – and those habits are only reenforced by the City’s lack of acknowledgment of the need for city services for the tens of thousands of new residents (who, by the way, are pumping tens of millions of new tax dollars into City Hall). Meanwhile, does anyone really care about mitigating traffic congestion downtown?

I was flabbergasted to read that SFMTA even started a new 83X bus line this summer for Twitter employees to get directly from 9th and Market over to Caltrain and back without giving SoMa small businesses a chance (Twitter employees never need to leave their offices – they have a full service dining facility) … and the 83x ridership is crap at about 343 riders per day.

I was flabbergasted because SoMa residents have spent years asking for improved transit and continuously are told “there’s no money for you” while at the same time these “Transit-oriented developments” like the high-rise residential towers in Rincon Hill are pumping tens of millions of new dollars into the City’s coffers.  I’m not calling anyone a liar, but I am saying that there is discrimination against SoMa residents happening, consciously or unconsciously, and it needs to stop. The City should show us the same attention as they do Twitter, and they should start a new bus line in SoMa – a SoMa Loop bus line that incorporates the long-desired 2-way Folsom Street traffic pattern.

What about Transbay buses?  Well, while those buses serve folks who live north of Market Street and out west who work downtown, none of those buses make sense for me to ride to get a bag of groceries.  SoMa’s grocery stores are on the west side of the District … meanwhile, the dense populations of Rincon Hill are on the east side, so why no bus connecting the waterfront to Division Street?  There are other resources that current bus lines don’t transport SoMa residents to and from. Current buses do not move the 300 Rincon Hill resident kids, when they’re of age, to and from Bessie Carmichael Elementary School.  They don’t help folks with a need for recreation and grassy fields to and from Victoria Manalo Draves Park or Gene Friend Recreation Center. They don’t help folks get over to the Mission Bay Branch Public Library. The bus lines don’t help folks who want to go the clubs on 11th Street without risks of drinking and driving to do so. Transbay and other existing bus lines do not serve the SoMa neighborhoods primarily – they serve the weekday workers.

SoMa should be treated with the respect for being the City’s primary economic engine that it deserves, and there should be a SoMa Loop bus line if we all agree that traffic congestion is a problem and San Francisco is a transit first city.

Here’s my basic map of a SoMa Loop route:

I just want to toss the idea out there and hopefully get neighbors thinking about it.  No call to action right now … though there is a Warriors Arena related meeting on transportation in the area on October 15th from 6pm – 7pm (or so) at the South Beach Harbor Services Building’s Community Room (located between Pier 40 and AT&T Park on the water side of The Embarcadero) hosted by the South Beach | Rincon | Mission Bay Neighborhood Association.


One Response to SoMa Loop Bus Route Needed

  1. Genius. Couldn’t have said it better myself. I don’t live in Soma, I live up in Russian Hill but I’m in Soma so frequently that I have thought of this constantly as it has served as a constant pain in the butt with me. If someone who doesn’t even live in Soma knows this is an issue…then the city does too, but ed lee is more worried about appeasing tech companies than providing services for residents 😉