J-Church Improvement Project

May1, 2020

In spring of 2019, SFMTA announced an initiative to find short-term measures to speed up the J-Church and make it more reliable. The first presentation of the plan in October called for the removal of the 30th Street stop, eliminating 14 parking spaces along Church Street, a traffic signal at Church/Cesar Chavez, and the placement of bollards at two stops to prevent cars going around stopped streetcars. Our community was adamantly opposed to eliminating the 30th Street stop since it serves as a transfer point for the 24 Divisadero, 36-Teresita and provides safe access for seniors. So, that stop will be retained but will be moved back around the corner onto 30th Street at the stop sign to eliminate the need for the train to stop again around the corner. However, in January, SFMTA announced that they would eliminate the 29th Street stop instead. It had never been part of the previous discussion. They also revealed the specific parking spaces, all of which are clustered in Upper Noe.

A major concern with the J-Church improvement plan is that for the better half of 2019, SFMTA billed and promoted it as a way to improve “service reliability.” The universal complaint about the J-Church is that it runs too slowly. There should be no doubt that there is an expectation – largely fueled by the SFMTA’s sustained community outreach – the plan will get the J-Church to run on time. The fixes proposed by SFMTA do not appear to be a meaningful way to address the problem.

Removing a stop seems central to the project’s goals. And while the idea is presented as if it will have an impact, the reality is that any individual stop has a negligible effect on performance or speed. Aditionally, while there was overwhelming consensus to keep the 30th street stop, there was never a community initiative to swap it for the 29th street stop. The either/or option was a false-dichotomy created by the project’s presenters. Both stops can and should remain.

By our observance, the time the doors are open is less than 20 seconds. SFMTA has presented no data on stop time. Indeed, the lack of data supporting the project’s aims is widespread.

We share the concerns for pedestrian safety. It is the very walkable and sociable nature of our neighborhood that we aim to preserve. But again, no evidence was put forth that a problem exists. Furthermore, a real distinction exists between parking spaces slated for red zoning (daylighting) to benefit safety and those slated for red zoning that have dubious merit and do not contribute to pedestrian-traffic visibility at all. Neighbors spent quite a bit of time making this distinction at public meetings, as did an Upper Noe Merchant petition. Parking equals access to goods and services for many in this highly vertical neighborhood.

Below are the parking spaces slated for red-zoning and a note on the ones that should be retained:
* 2 spaces each at Church/Clipper NW corner and Church/27th NW corner.
Note: one space at each location would be sufficient for pedestrian access.
* 4 spaces that are to the right of pedestrians leaving the curb:
Church/Duncan SW corner (1 space on Church),
Church/Duncan NE corner (1 space on Church),
Church/Valley NE corner (1 space on Church),
Church/28th SW corner (1 space on Church)
Note: removing these spaces would not increase pedestrian visibility to oncoming traffic.
* 2 angled spaces on Valley at Church/Valley SW corner.
Note: only one is sufficient since these spaces are angled and increase visibility comparable to 2 parallel spaces.

Below is further input and lingering concerns from neighbors:
• Why is all of the project’s daylighting in Upper Noe only?
• Church Street is extra wide. Consider angled parking.
• Have the J inbound skip some stops during the morning commute and reverse that in the evening.
• These changes on Church do not address safety for bike riders and e-scooter riders.
• What happened to shortening the J run and stop it on Market?
• Please repaint the crosswalks as part of this project.

UNN continues to work with SFMTA to improve pedestrian safety while retaining as many parking spaces as possible. Access of all types is important.

Sign the petition, please: https://save29thandchurch.wordpress.com/
Upper Noe Neighbors support efforts to keep the 29th Street stop and we ask your support.

View SFMTA’s J-Church Improvement Project page