Public meeting about adding 5 Fulton Limited and short lines, August 21

Next Tuesday night, a meeting will be held to discuss a proposal to expand the 5 Fulton bus line service.

Currently, the 5 Fulton bus runs at all times as a local, stopping to pick up passengers at every stop along its route which runs between Beale Street downtown and Ocean Beach (route map).

By SFMTA estimates, the 5 Fulton carries 19,000 passengers on an average weekday, averaging a speed of just 9.7 miles per hour during peak periods.

What’s slowing it down? “Sources of delay include closely spaced bus stops, traffic congestion and frequent STOP signs along the route in the Western Addition,” the SFMTA says.

To “ease crowding and improve transit during peak hours”, Supervisor Eric Mar is proposing that an additional 5 Fulton Limited service be added to the route during peak commute hours in the mornings and evenings, Monday through Friday. The limited line would make all stops from Ocean Beach to 6th Avenue, and then limited stops until it reaches Van Ness Avenue.

Mar is also proposing that an additional “short” line be added during the same hours, beginning and terminating its route at 6th Avenue, and making all stops.

Both the proposed 5 Fulton Limited and short lines would run all the way downtown, making all stops after Van Ness Avenue.

View the proposal (PDF)

The 5 Fulton bus line is part of MUNI’s Transit Effectiveness Project and Mar’s office says they “are looking to expedite its roll out.”

We were unable to find mention of a new 5 Fulton Limited line in the list of recommended changes to help speed up the route. The plan does mention increasing bus stop spacing, relocating some stops, replacing stop sign intersections with lights, parking changes, as well as pedestrian safety improvements.

Assuming all the recommendations are implemented (not including adding these new lines proposed by Mar), the SFMTA estimates that it would “reduce the travel time of the 5 Fulton by about six minutes in each direction” and improve the average operating speed to 11.7 miles. Installing traffic lights at some intersections could also save an additional 1.5 minutes in each direction.

The public meeting about adding 5 Fulton Limited and short lines is scheduled for Tuesday, August 21 from 5:30pm until 7pm at the Richmond District Police Station Community Room, 461 6th Avenue.

Sarah B.


  1. They’ve been working on this for a while. If they want to run the Limiteds electrically, then they’ll need to change things so that one electric bus can bypass another,

    The way things are now, many people get bypassed in the Western Addition, so the short line would help with that

  2. @Jim – since the service would be run during peak hours, the limited busses will most definitely use fuel. The short lines can use electricity just like the 1 California does on its short runs.

  3. Well, I’ll offer this:

    “5 Fulton Limited/Local Bypass Wires

    Install bypass wires at strategic locations between Sixth Avenue/Fulton Street and Market Street/McAllister streets, to allow for introduction of a 5L Fulton Limited trolley coach service alongside the 5 Fulton (local) trolley coach service, allowing both services to run concurrently on Fulton Street with electric trolley vehicles.”


  4. Anyone remember the 31L? I rode it for years before the Express Line was expanded from just Clement Street.

    Muni could be 1000% more efficient if 75% of runs on all lines were Limited (stopping at transfer points and key intersections only).

    Electrics can bypass very easily by taking the poles down. They can run for at least 1/4 mile without being connected to the overhead.

  5. What a stupid idea. The Richmond District already has SIX express bus lines. Why people can’t just take the 31 AX/BX and walk two blocks to Fulton Street beats me.

  6. This is probably the first good idea Eric Mar has come up with.
    I can’t agree with 4thGen more: MUNI would be much more efficient if more buses would run as limited.
    In addition, I’d love to have 1-2 38AX and 38BX run every hour during the day, even if it means fewer ordinary buses. I would have no problem scheduling my mid-day trips to downtown around 38AX schedule, if it would save me 15 minutes each way.

  7. Patrick, maybe the idea won’t seem “stupid” to you when you are elderly or become disabled and find walking 2 blocks no easier than walking 100 blocks. Broaden your perspective, why don’t you?

  8. Pretty good ideas. I’m sure they are not Mar’s original ideas, but at least he supports them. (Of course, I continue to hope Eric “Happy Meal” Mar gets crushed in the next election.)

    While the powers that be are finally examining the Fulton 5 line’s many problems, maybe MUNI can get rid of its electric lines that clutter the district. Power the buses on natural gas or clean buring diesel engines and do us all a favor.

  9. Jim (#4),

    I doubt you could identify few enough “strategic locations” to meet a reasonable budget that would allow reliable passing. Besides, you then have many more pairs of special work all of which would slow both express and local buses.

    IF (and I admit that’s a big “if”) the city moves to replace the stop signs with lights (one can hope they will have some transit priority; if they’re going to the expense of lights, they might as well do it well), then diesels will not be inefficient.

  10. @ Patrick: the 31AX and BX are great if you’re going inbound to the FiDi, but if your stop is, say, Divisadero, you’re out of luck. The 5L would be GREAT to have with those limited stops.

    I really hope this 5L happens (although I obviously would prefer for it to run ALL day and replace some of the normal 5 buses).

  11. ABOUT FLIPPING TIME! And how about a westbound Balboa Express after 6 p.m. — am i the only person who often works until 6 — or would like to go out for a drink or dinner with friends? Could we at least have 1 Geary/Balboa and Fulton express every 45 mins or an hour — so we COULD actually do something downtown after work on weeknights and not have to spend 20 minutes waiting at a bus stop and 40 minutes getting the 5 miles home?

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