California's 1st urban HOV lanes coming to San Francisco

SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- As more commuters begin coming back to San Francisco, SFMTA is making changes to the way drivers and busses get around.

On Tuesday, the SFMTA board approved a plan to create the first urban HOV lanes on California highways.

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The plan will convert the right lane of traffic on two major thoroughfares into a High Occupancy Vehicle and transit lane.

The plan will include stretches of Lombard and Richardson Avenue from Van Ness Avenue to Lyon Street and Crossover Drive, Park Presidio Bypass, and Park Presidio Boulevard from Lincoln Way to Lake Street.
To qualify for the HOV lane, cars must have two or more people inside the car.

Erica Kato, a spokesperson for SFMTA, said the goal is to help ease the crunch on public transit as more people get back on the road.

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"What this will allow for is our transit busses to run quickly and more efficiently. Traffic is back with a vengeance now, but it will also create some time savings for people who are carpooling," said Kato.

The project is a pilot which will last as long as the city is still under the COVID-19 state of emergency. After that is rescinded, SFMTA will have 120 days to analyze the success of the changes and determine if they will be removed or become permanent.
Striping is expected to begin on Lombard Street by late April and be completed in May. Striping on Park Presidio will come after.

For local commuters like Shreya Narayanan, the plan seems like it could be beneficial.

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"I think it makes it more accessible for busses, a lot of people here use public transport," she said.

But Megan Feeney was more skeptical they would improve things for drivers.

"I think gridlock will return. It's eventually going to back to the way it was," she said, unsure how a carpool lane will remedy that.

Unless, commuters change their behaviors

"I think it could result in some traffic for some people driving alone but hopefully that will encourage more people to carpool," she said.

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