Muni paints San Francisco city lanes red to kick cars out

Friday, July 25, 2014
Muni paints city lanes red to kick cars out
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Muni plans to paint transit-only lanes red down a section of Market Street to remind other drivers they shouldn't be in those lanes.

SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- If you're one of those drivers who sometimes resorts to using the marked transit only lanes in Downtown San Francisco, listen up. You're about to be warned not to do it anymore, especially on Market Street.

Church is one of those streets in the city that has red transit-only lanes. Starting on Friday, July 25, Muni will start coloring transit-only lanes on Market Street red. Muni says the color helps act as a deterrent against drivers who abuse them and they want those same results on busy Market Street.

On average, Muni makes 63,000 trips on Market Street every week. The transit-only lanes on Market and on several other streets in the city are supposed to make it easier for buses and taxis to move through crowded downtown traffic. Other drivers can use them, but only to make an immediate turn to the next street. However, many cars simply ignore the transit only lanes, which are spelled out in big white letters.

"This is every day, all day. It's very frustrating," Muni bus operator Mariam Muller said. "A lot of the time, it is just for people to travel down the lane because the other lane is so congested. Bicyclists, they don't want to use their own lane cause maybe of the congestion of the cars."

Muni hopes to change all that. They'll begin coloring the transit only lanes on Market between 5th and 12th streets.

Their choice of color is bright red, like a red flag or a warning that it's a place you shouldn't be in.

And just to be sure, cameras on busses capture the violators illegally parking in red zones.

Parking Control Officer Jack Wong looked at video of a van which was double parked, blocking the bus' access in the red zone. He told ABC7 News, "We use video as evidence. Each bus has a camera mounted on front. They take license plate."

The license plate identifies the owner of the vehicle, who is sent a citation through the mail. Muni tried this as a pilot program on Church Street's transit only lanes between 16th and Duboce. Coloring the zones red helped Muni move more quickly.

"It helped the 22 Fillmore increase its travel time there by 20 percent," SFMTA spokesperson

Kristen Holland said.

Muni hopes drivers will begin realizing that the red carpet is only for Muni's VIP's -- very important passengers.