TRANSIT: FHWA approval to spur more red transit-only lanes in San Francisco

The SFMTA could be adding red lanes to 50 more streets in the city

July 06, 2017
Federal Highway Administration approval to spur more red transit-only lanes in San Francisco

The San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency (SFMTA) is looking to add their red transit-only lanes to at least 50 new streets in the region, as newly granted federal approval will now allow the agency’s red lanes to spread to more areas across the city.

A list of “Potential Future Red Lanes” provided to the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) as part of the lane-approval process show nearly 50 new proposed sites for red lanes. The list of potential red lanes contains some previously announced future lanes, though many of the streets are new suggestions.

The evaluation of how well red lanes speed up transit will be included in an evaluation of creating laws to legalize the creation of red transit lanes nationally, according to the FHWA.

The SFMTA was granted the ability to expand its use of red lanes as an “experiment” across San Francisco on June 2 by the administration. Some of those lanes are existing transit-only lanes, but are not red, and many of them require further planning and approvals by the SFMTA Board of Directors, according to agency records.

When installed, the SFMTA will report back to the highway administration on the number of vehicles driving in transit-only lanes, parking violations in the lanes, the behavior of private vehicles turning and blocking buses, collisions and transit travel time to measure their success.

Studies of those existing red transit-only lanes find they do what the SFMTA designed them to do: Speed up transit service and make the city’s streets safer. Overall collisions on three red-colored streets—Geary, Third and O’Farrell streets—dropped by 16% and injury collisions dropped by 24% at a time when they did not change significantly citywide, according to an SFMTA red lane report sent to the FHWA.


Source: San Francisco Examiner; Image source: Mike Koozmin/2014 S.F. Examiner