J Church Safety and Accessibility Project
This is the latest program (as far as we know)
Pedestrian Safety Improvements Parking Impacts
(Former Proposal from 2019)
(This piece of that project appears to still be in the works)
Under questioning by District 8 Supervisor Rafael Mandelman at the San Francisco County Transportation Authority meeting of February 13, 2023, MUNI Transit Planner Felipe Robles stated that MUNI IS NO LONGER CONSIDERING ELIMINATING THE 29th STREET J-CHURCH STOP!This statement has been confirmed by Director of Transit Julie Kirschbaum, and is now posted on the J Church Safety and Accessibility Project webpage.
J Church Muni Forward has a new project that just received funding to make changes along Church Street in Upper Noe and more on 30th Street. Once again, the claim is that this will support transit reliability and faster travel times on the J Church between Duboce Avenue and Balboa Park Station. San Francisco MTA expects to complete the design phase by Spring 2025 and have the project open for use by Summer 2027.
Here is the documentation:
The project has serious flaws and inconsistencies that have us baffled as to how it was even put together. As described, it will not produce its intended goals. Instead, it will increase congestion, hinder trains and buses, and remove safe passage for pedestrians crossing Church Street. Furthermore, the project will likely have a negative effect on Upper Noe merchants on Church Street who are recovering from pandemic losses and just beginning to refill emptied storefronts.
We presented this argument at the February 14 SF County Transportation Authority hearing but Supervisor Mandelman, who chairs the board, voted to fund this project anyway.
Supervisor Mandelman will be visiting Upper Noe on Friday February 17 between 2:30 and 5 pm. Please let him know your concerns and tell him how he can support your success.
Supervisor Rafael Mandelman 415-554-6968 email@example.com
Adam Thongsavat – District 8 Legislative Aide Adam.Thongsavat@sfgov.org 415-554-6968
Here are the project details for Upper Noe:
• Removal of all-way STOP-controlled intersections at Church/25th, Church/26th, and Church/Cesar Chavez
• J Church St & 25th St New Signal Replace stop sign with a traffic signal
• J Church St & Clipper St Install Transit Bulb Construct nearside OB 80’ transit bulb
• J Church St & Clipper St Install Transit Bulb Construct nearside IB 80’ transit bulb
• J Church St & 27th St Install Transit Bulb Install OB nearside 80’ transit bulb
• J Church St & 27th St Install Transit Bulb Install IB nearside 80’ transit bulb
• J Church St. & 30th Install Transit Bulb Install IB nearside 80′ bulb
• J 30th & Chenery Install Ped Bulb Add 2 ped bulbs at school crosswalk
• J 30th St & Dolores St Install Transit Bulb Install IB nearside 80′ bulb
• J 30th St & Dolores St Install Transit Bulb Install OB nearside 80’ transit bulb
Note: Transit bulbs are an extension of the sidewalk that removes the parking lane.
What this project DOES NOT include:
• A stop sign on Church at 28th Street that our community has requested
• A signal light at Cesar Chavez that was previously promised
• Much needed repaving of Church Street
Upper Noe Neighbors’ response to the J Church MUNI Forward Project:
Overall, there does not seem to be any need for this project as currently described as it does not address any present problem.
1. A proposed transit bulb at 30th and Dolores OB would impede traffic and safety. Such a transit bulb was suggested in a previous project and abandoned. Instead, engineers solved the safety issue by adding bollards that prevent vehicles from going around the right side of streetcars while continuing to allow buses to pull to the curb. When no MUNI vehicles are present, vehicles can use the right lane to turn onto Dolores. A high percentage of the traffic turns at that intersection to get to the highway. A transit bulb would eliminate the right turn lane and back up traffic. A single vehicle waiting at a red light to go straight or left would back up all traffic, including buses and streetcars. Impatient traffic would divert onto Chenery to Randall, increasing risk and congestion around Dolores Huerta school, which is already highly congested in the morning.
2. Pedestrian bulbs at Chenery will prevent 36 Teresita buses from making a right turn from Chenery onto 30th Street. That turn is very tight. Parking was removed on 30th St to make it possible for the bus to make the turn without intruding into the oncoming lane. Otherwise, the bus would be blocked by oncoming westbound traffic, especially during rush hours. Furthermore, the volume of foot traffic at that intersection is extremely light and Chenery Street is not very wide.
3. A traffic signal on Church Street at 25th Street just makes no sense at at all. 25th Street is not a popular travel route; vehicle and pedestrian cross traffic is light. That location is also removed from the more heavily used commercial areas where pedestrian and traffic safety is more pressing. A previous proposal included a traffic signal at Cesar Chavez where cross traffic is heavy and a light has been requested by the community. A light at 24th Street makes sense as well.
4. This item shows gross disregard for pedestrian safety: “Removal of all-way STOP-controlled intersections at up to 3 locations (Church/25th, Church/26th, Church/Cesar Chavez).” Indeed, our community has been seeking a more predictable pattern of stops along Church Street. We propose moving the stop sign from 26 Street, where cross traffic is light, to 28th Street which is in the middle of four blocks of unimpeded traffic that encourage high speed and cause confusion and daily incidents.
5. A transit bulb at Church/30th does not seem to serve any purpose whatsoever. Previously, the inbound stop for the streetcar was to be moved to the stop sign at 30th Street to eliminate the need for the streetcar to make a further full stop around the corner. Concerns for rider safety could be solved with bollards, such as those used on 30th at Dolores, which would prevent cars from going to the right of trains while continuing to enable buses to pull to the curb. If the stop is not to be moved to 30th Street and the proposal is for a bulb on Church Street, we question SFMTA’s motivation.
6. Because SFMTA has made Sanchez Street a permanent Slow Street, adding any impediments to traffic along Church Street would appear to require traffic studies. We encourage them.
Overall, we have a concern that SFMTA treats Upper Noe as an impediment to a J-Church bullet train to downtown while ignoring the fact that riders have adjacent high-speed service with BART via Balboa and Glen Park Stations. The J’s passage through our community is a useful function that, in fact, only produces a minor effect on travel time. Concerns about reliability are best addressed through improved streetcar maintenance. Breakdowns are much too common. Perhaps that is the best use of the funds for this project.
Let’s work together for a sensible plan.
Update May 18, 2022
J-Church Restoration in trouble: Kathy Setian and Karen Kennard reported for the Restore The J workgroup (RTJ), which has monitored the J’s return to downtown subway service since Feb 19. They expressed concern that SFMTA is fabricating data to support kicking the J out of the tunnel again. A memo “SFMTA Pilots Surface-Only J Church Line to Address Subway Congestion” cites results from a supposedly public survey to support removal. RTJ had been anticipating that survey last fall but cannot find any evidence that it was ever administered. Furthermore, the published result do not support the memo’s conclusions. This is breaking news. A story on this is expected in the June Noe Valley Voice.
Update January 3, 2022
MTA’s target date for restoring the J to the subway is Saturday February 19. Here is the final wording on the motion to restore the J, as recorded in the minutes for the 12/7/2021 MTA Board of Directors meeting:
(1) to return the J Church to the subway at headways of 15 minutes;
(2) monitor subway capacity as usage increases and return to the Board if redline delays are reached;
(3) implement the accessibility plan at the Market and Church Street intersection; and
(4) study a streetcar one-seat service option.
At the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, the J Church was suspended along with all Muni Metro service. In August 2020, the J returned as a shortened bus route from Balboa Park Station to Duboce Avenue. And in December 2020, the J Church became the first Muni rail line to be returned to service as a surface-only line. To continue to downtown, a transfer at Market Street would be required. This raised concerned and many of our neighbors organized under the Restore The J workgroup (RTJ).
At Upper Noe Neighbors October 20 general meeting via Zoom neighbors spoke resolutely, but politely, in opposition to the J-Church Transfer at Market Street. Thank you all for taking the UNN J-Church Transfer Survey and informing UNN on a course of action.
Click Here for the J-Church Survey Presentation (updated) .
Update May 26, 2021
The J Church Improvement Project is on hold. The only change to the J-Church line in Upper Noe is that now the inbound trains stop and open their doors on 30th Street at Church Street instead of rounding the corner first and opening their doors on Church Street.
Update June 19, 2020
SFMTA has announce major changes to the J line. Once it resumes service in August, it will only run from Balboa Station to Market Street. See more about this and other changes at https://www.sfmta.com/blog/big-changes-ahead-when-muni-rail-returns-august
Update May 1, 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.