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Full text of "A monitoring of the Post-Sutter transit preferential treatment program"

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3 1223 06957 8772 


Iwdsco Public Library 

Inment Information Center 
jancisco Public Library 
irkiii StrDCt, 5th Floor 
bncisco, CA 94102 


taken from the Library 





388 . 322 



JULY, 1975 


Author : 
Lawrence Sauve 

Bureau of Transportation 
James J, Finn, Director 



Introduction 1 

I- Impact Analysis 2 

I-A Traffic Volumes 4 

I-B Accident Volumes 5 

I-C Violations 7 

I-D Schedule Adherence 8 

I-E Inspectors and Operators 9 

II Conclusion 14 

III Recommendations 15 


The following report pertains to a monitoring program 
for the transit preferential treatment of Post and Sutter 

The treatment went into effect on January 20, 1975, 
and was intended to improve transit operations on the Post- 
Sutter couplet between Gough and Taylor Streets . The 
affected streets comprise an important auto and transit 
access thoroughfare for both peak and base period trips. 
The actual bus lane is located in the right through lane 
next to the parking lane. The lane is separated from the 
auto lanes by a strip of white paint. "The roadbed of the 
lanes are painted "Buses and Right Turns Only" . There 
are also signs along the road stating "Buses and Right 
Turns Only — 6:00 AM-7:00 PM. Sundays Excepted." 

This report attempts to identify and analyze impacts, 
both beneficial and detrimental, which the bus lane pro- 
gram may have had on transit and auto operations. 


— ^ — . S^CTfO^ 

The report is divided into the following sections: 
I. Impact Analysis . 

A. Traffic Volumes 

1. Auto 

2. Transit 

B. Accident Volumes 

1. Auto/Auto 

2 . Tr ans i t/Au to 

C. Violations 

D. Schedule Adherence 

E. Operator and Inspector Reaction 

II. Conclusions . This will encompass an overview of 

the impact analysis as v/ell as general conclusions 
regarding the program. 
III. Recommendations . These recommendations will pertain 
to possible improvements in the existing program, 
and will also recommend a format for future moni- 
toring programs. 

I. Impact Analysis 


Any transit preferential treatment of streets can be ex- 
pected to have some impact on operations--both transit and 
auto. The extent of the impact is dependent on two main 


factors — the type of thoroughfare undergoing treatment and 
the nature of the particular preferential treatment. In 
the case of the Post-Sutter couplet, the thoroughfare are 
important access streets for transit and auto traffic. 
(There are five Municipal Railway lines operating on that 
portion of these streets between Van Ness Avenue and Taylor 
Street — Routes 1, 2, 2, 4 and 45.) However, this preferen- 
tial treatment can best be described as limited. The only 
means of separation between auto and transit traffic is an 
eight inch strip of paint. The lack of a physical separa- 
tion between transit and auto traffic indicates that a dili- 
gent Police Department enforcement program is required for 
the program's success. Another important factor to be con- 
sidered is the fact that the portion of Post and Sutter 
Streets which has undergone treatment is not in an area 
where it is needed the most. Most of the congestion on 
these streets is east of Powell, but the area which has 
undergone treatment is between Gough and Taylor Streets. 

The following study areas are key indicators of possible 
impacts, detrimental and beneficial, which the program may 
have had on auto and transit operations. When possible, 
the information was obtained on dates as close as possible 
to the inauguration date of the service. This is based 


upon an analysis of several transit preferential streets 

programs conducted by the U.S. Department of Transportation — 


Transportation Systems Center, The analysis indicated that 
information relating to a preferential treatment monitoring 
program should be conducted as soon as possible before and 
after the implementation of the program. 

A. Traffic Volumes 
1. Transit 

Cities that have inaugurated a priority treatment of 
transit vehicles have noted an increase in passenger 
on those lines affected by the treatment. The modest 
transit preferential treatment of downtown streets in 
Minneapolis did result in a 7.6% (6176 to 6643) increase in 
daily patronage. This increase took place despite the fact 
that overall running times of the coaches did not decrease. 

Passenger counts from the Schedule and Traffic Depart- 
ment were reviewed in order to determine any change in 
patronage resulting from the bus lane treatment. AM Peak 
Hour counts were available for Lines 1, 3, and 4. They 
were conducted before and after the inauguration of the 
program and dates of checks v/ere within 3 days of the 
date of inauguration (January 20, 1975)." 

T. Source: Effects of Bus Priority Alternatives in the 
C.B.D." — Ann Muzka 


The following is a recapitulation of the counts : 


"Before" Counts 
Jan. 3, 1975 

"After" Counts 
Jan. 30, 1975 

% Increase 
or Decease 

1-Calif ornia 






It should be kept in mind that the rather large increase 
in patronage may be a result of the fact that the "before" 
count was conducted shortly after the Christmas vacation 
period when volumes are usually lowfer. 

2 . Autos 

(Currently being compiled by Traffic Engineering) 

B. Accident Volumes 
1 . Auto/Auto 

Data relating to accidents involving one auto with 
another auto on the affected portions of Post and Sutter 
Streets were obtained by the Department of Public VJorks ' 
Traffic Engineering section. Data from November, 1975 
and February, 1975 accident counts were reviewed. These 
months were chosen since they were closest to the inaugura- 
tion date of the service. December, 1974 was deliberately 


left out since the large volumes of auto traffic associated 
with Christmas shopping would not constitute a representa- 
tive sample. 

The review of auto accident data indicated the following: 


Period Total Accidents 

November, 1974 Post Street — 1 

Sutter Street — 2 

' After 
Total Accidents 
Post Street — 2 
Sutter Street — 6 

It should be noted that the increase in accidents may have re- 
sulted from lack of familiarity with the bus lanes treatment 
on the part of motorists. 

2. Auto/Transit Accidents 

Auto/Transit accident data was obtained from the Munici- 
pal Railway Claims Department. As was the case with auto/ auto 
data, the months of November, 1974 and February, 1975 were 

The results of the data review was as follows: 



February, 1975 



Total Accidents 

November, 1974 

Post Street — 3 

Sutter Street — 2 



Total Accidents 

February, 1975 

Post Street — 2 

Sutter Street — 2 

C. Violations 

Mr. William Horner of the San Francisco Police De- 
partments' Traffic Analysis Unit has tabulated the number 
of violations of the traffic lanes related to autos opera- 
ting in the "Buses Only" lane of the Post-Sutter couplet. 
Mr. Horner stated that the enforcement of the traffic law 
did not begin until February 15, 197 5, although the progreim 
itself was in effect until January 20, 1975. The tabulation 
of violations commenced on February 18, 197 5. 

Between February 15 and March 5 a total of 208 moving 
violations of the "Buses Only" lane were distributed. Un- 
fortunately, the Traffic Analysis section did not categorize 
the available data as to type, location and time of occurance. 


Although the 208 citations were considered a high 
number, the Traffic Analysis Section did note a steady 
decline in violations as the enforcement program continued. 
During the first week of enforcement, police officers were 
dispensing citations at the rate of 1.0 per hour. During 
the third week of the enforcement program the rate had 
been reduced to .64 citations per hour. 

This indicates that a concentrated enforcement program 
coupled with greater familiarity with the transit lanes on 
the part of motorists could reduce the frequency of viola- 
tions . 

D. Schedule Adherence 

As noted in the BACKGROUND, exclusive bus lanes are not 
located in the congested portion of Post and Sutter Streets 
east of Powell where they are needed the most. Thus, the 
limited separation of auto transit traffic provided by the 
"Bus Only" lane can not be expected to have a significant 
effect on overall schedule adherance. 

However, a review of available "before and after" data 
indicates that a reduction in "late" coaches did take place 
on some lines follov/ing the inauguration of the preferen- 
tial treatment program. Inspectors' reports made out 


during the first two weeks of December, 19 74 were compared 
to those during the first two weeks of February, 1975. The 
results are as follows: 

Before Dec. After Feb. Percent Increase 

Routes 1974 1975 or Decrease 

1 33 24 

2 5 8 

3 17 13 

4 1 
45 6 1 

Total 62 46 26 

E. Inspector and Operator 
1 • Inspectors 

The following are verbatim comments of an Inspector 
on February 25, 1975, approximately one month after the 
inauguration of the preferential treatment program. 

"The new lane for buses and right turns would appear to 
be having moderate success . 


"The traffic for the most part stays out of these well- 
marked lanes. The autos that do ignore them tend to move 
faster than the coaches do, so the purpose of the lane is 
served. I have not yet seen a violator cited for ignoring 
the lanes. 

"I would suggest that, in order to keep more people 
from violating the lane, an officer should be given the 
detail once in a while. This could be done as little as once 
every seven working days . " 

It should be noted that at the time of the inspector's 
observations, the Department's Traffic Control Unit 
was engaged in a special enforcement program. However, the 
special program was discontinued after March 5, 1975 and 
any enforcement of the bus-only lane is currently encom- 
passed in the overall traffic code enforcement program of 
the city. 

2. Operators 
Question Format 

Interviews were conducted with 15 operators who had worked 
the affected lines before and after the implementation of 
the bus lanes . 


The following are the basic questions put to the operators 
regarding the transit only lanes: 

1. Did you notice any improvement in overall operations as 
a result of the transit only lane? 

2. Did the lanes make it easier to adhere to schedules and 
make the time points? » 

3. Was the bus-only lane being enforced by the police? 
Were there many instances of autos violating the bus lane? 

4. Did the bus lanes result in major operation problems? 


The unanimous reaction of drivers to the lane was that 
it did improve operations although the improvement was a 
limited one. Several operators noted that the width of the 
bus lane (18 feet including a parking lane) is not enough 
for bus operation. They noted that a clearance had to be 
provided between the coach and the parked cars, but this 
clearance forced the coaches to intrude on the auto lanes. 
If the coaches were to remain exclusively in the bus-only 
lane, the operators faced the danger of making sudden 
turns t'o avoid auto doors opening and double-parked autos 
and trucks . 

As is the case with many routes, the double parking 


of autos and trucks results in severe restrictions on overall 
operations. Several drivers felt that any time savings re- 
sulting from the bus-lanes are lost as a result of delays 
due to double parking interference. 

The major complaint, stated by several operators, was 
that motorists who wish to make a right turn wait until 
the last minute to enter the right turn lane (which is also 
the bus lane) since they do not want to violate the bus 
only lane ordinance. This results in the auto swerving in 
front of the coaches before they make their turn. 


Approximately 1/2 of the drivers stated that it was 
easier to adhere to schedules, but they also stated that 
this occured primarily during the peak periods when the 
amount of auto and truck double parking was less than during 
the mid-day period. During the peaks the congestion east of 
Taylor Street was severe enough to negate any benefits re- 
sulting from the transit lanes . 

Only a few of the drivers felt that the bus lanes re- 
sulted in their "holding back" their coach in order to avoid 
running ahead of schedule. 


The response from these questions may serve as a key 
element of this report. Almost to a person the operators 
stated that there were not only rampant violations of the 
bus-only lane, but that double parking ^in the lanes them- 
selves continued without abatement. It was further 
stated that there did not seem to be a concerted effort 
by the police to enforce either the bus lanes or other 
traffic laws pertaining to double parking and illegal 
parking in commercial zones. 

Some of the operators noticed that for the first few 
weeks of the bus lane program, police were diligently enforcing the 
law and this was seemingly reflected in the number of autos 
that were violating the lane. However, as noted in Section C- 
Violations , the program was temporary in nature although it 
did seem to have a significant effect on reducing violations. 



The bus lane program has apparently resulted in improved 
operations of coaches operating on the streets involved with- 
out resulting in significant adverse impacts relating to transit 
or auto accidents. However, several factors should be noted 
that pertain to the impact analysis: 

1. Based upon the Police Department's Traffic Analysis Unit, 
as well as Municipal Railway inspectors' and operators' ob- 
servations, a strong enforcement program of the bus lanes 
will have a significant beneficial impact on transit opera- 

2. Available schedule adherence data and operators' opinions 
indicate that the lanes have a positive effect on maintaining 
schedules and making time points. However, this seems to be 
limited to the peak periods. Double-parking and traffic con- 
gestion east of Taylor Street have negated possible bus-lane 
benefits during the mid-day period. 

3. The width of the bus-only' lanes during the mid-day 
period does not seem to be wide enough. Operators must 
either intrude on to the auto lane or they can stay exclusively 
in the bus lane and face the risk of hitting opened car doors. 
If they have to make a sudden turn to avoid hitting a car door, 
they face the risk of colliding with a vehicle in the auto lane. 



1. Schedules and Traffic should look into the possibility of 
adjusting peak period schedules in order that they re-l-cr 
improved operation on the sections of Post and Sutter Streets 
which have received bus priority treatment. However, it 
should be emphasized that this adjustment should keep in mind 
the possible revision in running times on those sections of 
the streets which have not received transit priority treat- 

2. The Police Department should be urged to resume and sus- 
tain a concentrated effort to enforce the bus lane ordinance 
and other ordinances that pertain to double parking and 
illegal curb parking. 

3. The Transit Preferential Streets Committee should be 
urged to consider an adjustment in the "width of the bus 
only lane on Post Street from its current 18 feet to 20 
feet. Since the adjacent auto lane is 12 feet, it v;oald 
not seem unreasonable to shift two feet from the auto lane 
to the bus lane. With this adjustment, there will be ade- 
quate clearance between the coaches and the parked cars 
without intruding on to the auto lanes. 

4. The transit only lane should be extended east to Kearney 
Street. This is where severe congestion throughout the day 
results in delays and poor schedule adherence. 


5. "Buttons" should be installed on the lane marker, like on 
Seymour Street in Vancouver, to inhibit autos from crossing 


Future Moni t oring Program 

Several transit preferential streets programs are e^pectec to 
be implemented within the next several months. These include 
Mission and Fourth Streets as well as a more intensified 
program on Polk Street. 

In order to properly moritor these programs , it is recoitmiended 
that the following take place: 

1. Before the implementation of the program, inspectors or 
traffic checkers should observe schedule adherence at time 
points throughout the route (peak and off-peak) . 

2. Traffic checkers should conduct passenger counts shortly 
before the implementation date of the program. 

3. Traffic Engineering of the Public Works Department 
should be requested to conduct auto volume counts on the 
streets that will be undergoing treatment. This should be 
done shortly before the inauguration of the program. 

4. Steps 1, 2 and 3 should be repeated after the implementa- 
tion of the transit priority treatment. Tnese sriculd be con- 
ducted within 30 days of the implementation date. 

5. Operator interviews should be conducted shortly after 
the inauguration of the program. The interviews should 

be limited to operators who have worked the affected routes 
before and after the inauguration of the transit preferential 


treatment . 

If possible, interviews with passengers should be conducted 
in order to determine the reactions, if any, of the riding 
public to the priority treatment.