San Francisco: "Transit First" In Name Only

Well ahead of it's time, San Francisco adopted a 'transit-first policy' in 1973. However, the 'drive-alone' mode dominates at 39%. While far better than elsewhere in the Bay Area and much of the U.S., transit remains clearly in second place at 32%.

Throughout the Bay Area, residents will point to San Francisco as a city you can get by without owning a car - but while the low modeshare for 'drive-alone' to work is impressive, it still beats transit. And the progress in the last decade has been minimal.

"The goal of The City's transit-first policy was to make Muni a convenient alternative to automobiles. But that hasn't happened. Muni posted a 73 percent on-time performance rate for the 2011 fiscal year, the agency's lowest mark since 2008 and well below the voter-mandated goal of 85 percent."

"Most people like the transit-first policy in theory," said Ed Reiskin, executive director of the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency, which operates Muni. "But when it comes to losing their own parking space or a traffic lane that they use a lot, they become less of a fan."

A comparison of how residents travel each day to work - note that the first % is for 2000 and the next for 2009 - go to article itself to see it formatted more clearly.

2000 2009

Drive alone 40.5% 38.9%
Carpool 10.8% 7.4%
Public transit 31.1% 31.8%
Taxi, motorcycle, 1.6% 1.8%
Bike 2.1% 3.0%
Walk 9.4% 10.3%
Work at home 4.6% 6.8%

Source: SFMTA 2010 Transportation Fact Sheet

Thanks to Lowell Grattan

Full Story: In transit-first San Francisco, cars still rule the road

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