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The San Francisco Transit Riders asked Streetsblog to print their recent open letter to San Francisco officials, endorsing their vision for a car-free J.F.K. Promenade. Here is their policy statement/letter below, unedited:

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Dear Mayor London Breed, the San Francisco Board of Supervisors, SFMTA Director Jeffrey Tumlin, SFMTA Board of Directors, SF Recreation and Park General Manager Phil Ginsburg, and the SF Recreation and Park Commission:

As the voice of riders throughout the city, San Francisco Transit Riders urges you to keep JFK Drive car-free and make significant investments to improve transit access to and within the park, particularly for equity priority communities. By coupling a car-free JFK Drive with continued investments in transit, San Francisco can live up to its transit-first policy and promote a more equitable, livable, and sustainable city for all. Car-free JFK increases the amount of safe open-space accessible to all San Franciscans. It directly benefits transit by increasing speed and reliability of the 44 O’Shaughnessy as well as encouraging the nearly 16,000 daily pre-pandemic car trips through the park to shift to more sustainable modes of transportation such as public transit.

However, while we support the permanent closure of JFK Drive to cars, it must be coupled with significant investments in transit to ensure all people — especially those living in isolated areas far from the park or with disabilities — have equitable access to the park and its amenities, and that people who previously drove through the park have adequate transit alternatives.

At minimum, quick-build and transit-priority improvements that improve transit speed and reliability along the nine Muni routes that serve the park must be implemented as soon as possible with full support from the Mayor, Board of Supervisors and SFMTA. These improvements should have ideally been implemented in concert with the initial closure of JFK Drive to cars and should not be further delayed. As operator availability allows, these improvements should be coupled with increased transit service — especially on weekends — to the park, including the creation of a 29 Rapid bus to better connect residents in equity priority communities such as the Bayview to Golden Gate Park and other destinations throughout the city.

We do not recommend the private vehicle access loop alternative as it will hurt transit by adding more traffic to Fulton and 8th Ave. This traffic diversion is not fully mitigated by the Fulton St Improvement Project and will have negative impacts to the 5 and 5R which has carried over 10,000 people per day throughout the pandemic.

Finally, the city must provide well-maintained paved paths and ramps to all shuttle and Muni stops, clear signage and benches at all stops within and around the park, ensure shuttle and transit wait times are less than 15 minutes and allow paratransit on all closed sections of roads within the park. These changes must be in place prior to the permanent closure of JFK Drive.

Thank you for your time and consideration.

Sincerely,
Zack Deutsch-Gross
Advocacy Director
San Francisco Transit Riders

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