Making Muni Safer for All San Franciscans

May 25, 2012

By: Ella Arnold

Personal safety on Muni is a concern for most San Franciscans and it should be a priority for our city leaders to encourage people to get out of their cars and help improve our environment by choosing public transportation. Even in these difficult financial times, we can implement several low-cost changes to San Francisco’s public transit system that will make commuting in San Francisco a better, more positive experience for everyone. 

Public Transit Crime is a Major Issue in Cities Across America

How can we make Muni safer for all San Franciscans?Crime on Muni vehicles and at or around public transit stops throughout the city is a reality that San Franciscans must contend with. Recently, there has been a spike in the number of electronic device robberies on Muni vehicles and at Muni platforms and bus stops.

Los Angeles resident, and frequent public transit rider, Alissa Walker highlights many of the same transit concerns that Muni riders here in San Francisco face. From having to walk long distances to a transit stop to facing the threat of crime on public transit vehicles, riders in all major cities understand the importance of improving public transit.

Solutions to Make Public Transit Safer For All

Walker spoke to UCLA urban planning professor Anastasia Loukaitou-Sideris, who believes that there are low-cost solutions to make public transit safer for riders across America. Loukaitou-Sideris notes that what turns most potential riders away from choosing to use public transit is “feeling alone and intimidated” while waiting for public transit to arrive or once on a public transit vehicle. In order to remedy this feeling, Loukaitou-Sideris suggests relocating bus stops so that they are closer to businesses that are open late and have heavy pedestrian traffic. She also believes that teaching public transit operators to be more considerate of women traveling with strollers and allowing bus drivers to stop anywhere along their route late at night are both key to convincing more people to become regular public transit riders.

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Walker also spoke with Jessica Meaney, an organizer for Safe Routes to School, who thinks that improving the paths to transit stations and stops will not only benefit public transit riders but also bikers, walkers and drivers, too. Meaney suggests measures such as improving crosswalks, reducing speed limits and adding more shade to make the streets safer and more enjoyable for everyone.

Public Transit Improvements in San Francisco

The city of San Francisco is making some strides toward addressing the issues that have deterred people from using Muni. The SFMTA recently announced plans to perform “rapid bus improvements" on some of Muni’s busiest lines, like the J-Church, N-Judah and 5-Fulton and other possible plans may include constructing new bus boarding islands and widened sidewalk boarding zones. If completed, these projects will help to make taking public transit in San Francisco a positive experience for all San Franciscans.

The Big Picture

The solutions proposed by Loukaitou-Sideris and Meaney are economically feasible and could potentially make a big difference in the way that riders feel about taking public transit.

Here in San Francisco, in addition to making Muni faster, more reliable and more enjoyable, we have to implement ways to make Muni safer if we want to encourage ridership.

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