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All of a sudden we have a new SFMTA bus terminal at 6th Ave and California – and the problems that come with it

The recently expanded SFMTA terminal at 6th and California

The recently expanded SFMTA terminal at 6th and California

6th Avenue and California as always been a hub of activity, but things grew a little more chaotic early this summer when the SFMTA made changes to the intersection to create a new bus terminal.

The full length of the southern side of California between 6th & 7th Avenues has always been a bus stop, with room to accommodate up to 4 (large) parked buses at a time. And a stop on the east side of 6th Avenue near Cornwall has long served as a stop for the 1 California Express buses.

But earlier this summer, almost the full block of California on the south side, between 5th and 6th Avenues, was also taken over by a red zone bus stop. The 1 California bus stop was moved to this new location, and the 28R and 44 bus stops now use the block between 6th and 7th.

The new (often empty) 1 California bus stop created on the south side of California between 5th & 6th Avenues.

The new (often empty) 1 California bus stop created on the south side of California between 5th & 6th Avenues.

In addition to the loss of 5 parking spaces for the new 1 California stop, the unanticipated SFMTA terminal means more noise and more traffic issues for neighbors, businesses and drivers that pass through the area.

We observed the terminal area on a Friday afternoon for 90 minutes and saw what could be called an inefficient use of the sprawling bus area.

One bus sat in the front of the stop for nearly an hour with an “out of service” notice on it, but then suddenly changed its signage and roared back into service. All while the bus stop directly across the intersection sat empty except for the occasional 1 California coming by.

Other buses came and went with their butts jutting out into traffic or crosswalks. One bus idled at the intersection of 7th and California for several minutes, unable to park in the terminal because it was full. The bus blocked the pedestrian crosswalk and car traffic.

A bus idles at the intersection of 7th Ave and California, blocking the pedestrian crosswalk and car traffic.

A bus idles at the intersection of 7th Ave and California, blocking the pedestrian crosswalk and car traffic.

Conversely, while the bus stop between 6th and 7th is usually overflowing, the new one created just across the intersection for the 1 California is empty most of the time.

We reached out to the SFMTA with questions about about the new 6th & California terminal like why it was created, and was there any public notice or discussion about the changes? We did not hear back in time for the publication of this story.

The surprise terminal has sparked lots of comments on Nextdoor that range from frustration with the unexpected surge in activity, loss of parking, and complaints about the additional fumes from idling buses.

Residents have also expressed concerns that the new terminal may be contributing to the homeless problem in the area.

A homeless woman, nicknamed “the yellow caped lady” by the Nextdoor community due to a large, yellow poncho that she wears, has been living next to the SFMTA restroom on the bus island for nearly a year.

A homeless woman that lives at the bus terminal

A homeless woman that lives at the bus terminal

Nearby residents have struggled with how to deal with the woman who won’t leave or accept help. Recently, city officials came and removed some of her belongings but left her chair, bedding and other belongings with her.

During our observation of the terminal, we saw the woman mentioned above, as well as another homeless man sleeping across the street on the southwest corner of 7th Avenue and California. Two other homeless people were wandering around the bus terminal area aimlessly, one with a shopping cart.

The transitory nature of a terminal – people come and go, moving on through their day – can create an attractive environment for homeless persons to blend into the background, seemingly unnoticed. It’s the same in terminals in many other cities, even New York City’s Penn Station.

And police are unlikely to try and help the situation. Unless a homeless person is committing a crime, they are not going to pay much attention to someone that is camping on the street – even if it’s for months at a time.

“It’s not illegal to be homeless,” said a SFPD officer to a group of Pacific Heights And Nob Hill residents at a recent meeting about homelessness ecampments [Hoodline].

What have your experiences been with the new bus terminal at 6th and California? Leave a comment to let us know.

Sarah B.

terminalmap

28R and 44 buses stacked up at the terminal

28R and 44 buses stacked up at the terminal

A bus that sat idle with "not in service" posted for nearly an hour at the front of the bus stop.

A bus that sat idle with “not in service” posted for nearly an hour at the front of the bus stop.

23 Comments

  1. Yes, it was announced last September. There were meetings and notices. The 28R route was changed so that 6th/California is a terminus of the line. The area you mention with parked buses is because the 44 and 28R both start from that area, and drivers take their legally mandated breaks there.
    The 1-California stop is “mostly empty” in the same sense as every 1-California stop on California St is — it’s not a terminal. Buses come and go. There isn’t room there to safely park buses, nor a need to.
    The buses can jut out into the lane of traffic at times because the lanes aren’t big enough for the buses. Anyone who’s seen a bus straddle both lanes on California can attest to this… we really should be making a change like we did to 25th Ave — if a bus can’t safely fit into a lane, maybe it’s time to adjust the lane size and create a center turning lane.

    Attaching the homeless situation to this is also a bit strange… as you note, the woman living there has been around for 6 months before these changes were made. There’s been an uptick of homeless throughout the Richmond this past year (and really, the whole city). Comparing 6th/California to Penn Station is Manhattan is just hilarious though.

  2. Straver do you not see the issues that this terminal is causing for the neighborhood or the fact that these homeless people are allowed to be here with no consequence? Are you truly oblivious?

  3. @Jan,
    While I always appreciate name-calling, I’m indeed not oblivious, nor am I unsympathetic. I understand that there are more buses there now.

    However, the 28R only runs Monday-Friday from 7am to 7pm. Those aren’t crazy early/late hours, and aren’t bringing out drunk people in the middle of the night. The 44 and 1 buses have been there all along, with the 44 using that stop as a place to take breaks for years.

    Concerns about buses idling and blocking crosswalks are absolutely valid, and something that should be addressed. I honestly don’t consider the anecdotal increase in homeless there related, however. As this article says, the person living there has been there since well before any change was made. I see more homeless in the greenbelt at Park Presidio and throughout Geary and California, far from just 6th Ave. The Richmond Station Police Captain, Paul Yep, wrote a letter to the Richmond Review in a recent issue (May perhaps? I sadly can’t find it online) detailing the difficulties they have in trying to work with and get help for homeless in the area. It’s a poignant read.

  4. Yes, it was announced and I was aware of the changes.
    https://www.sfmta.com/projects-planning/projects/28r-19th-ave-rapid-route-changes
    https://www.sfmta.com/projects-planning/projects/inner-richmond-transit-improvements

    RE: Homeless
    I have seen the homeless using that shelter/island area for many years on and off, a long time before this new terminal for the 28R was created. The area has always been a terminal/bus stop for the 44. Bus terminals are not causing homelessness.

    RE: Location of bus terminal
    This seems like the best location for a bus terminal (drivers have to take a bathroom break!) as it is not directly near buildings, homes, and businesses. Would you want to locate the bus terminal across the street near the homes and businesses?

  5. the sfmta along with many on the board of stupidvisors are committed to destroying the richmond district
    the homeless situation is a joke
    may not be illegal to be homeless, but it is a health and safety issue to have people living on the streets
    everything that is currently being done to the richmond has an end game and the end game is to destroy all the small biz and force people to sell to developers
    it is time to take back our city
    vote richie greenberg this november

  6. As a parent of children at Peabody and as someone who walks & drives through these intersections at least twice a day, these changes really concern me. There are now multiple buses parked along California and, because they are different lines, they don’t leave in order. When it was just the 44, the first bus would go back into service, the others would move up. Now, buses from the back of the line are pulling out onto California, going around the bus parked in front, and turning right from California onto 6th Avenue from the center lane without stopping. Many pedestrians have come close to being hit, mostly when crossing 6th at Cornwall, and I was nearly hit the other day while driving my car. I was driving on Cornwall, stopped at the stop sign at 6th Ave, looked for traffic & pedestrians, started into the intersection, and was nearly broadsided by a 28-R that came barreling around the corner on a red light. I didn’t see it because it was on the other side of the bus that was parked at the corner! And it couldn’t see me for the same reason. This is a terrible design for an intersection and/or MUNI has put its very worst drivers on these lines.

  7. For me it’s been good. He is a bus driver and saw me across the street. Now he’s the boyfriend. So I’m happy with it.

  8. I live immediately around the corner from this terminal, and while yes the terminal was expanded for the 28R, what this means to me is that I now have a convenient and quick connection to the Balboa Bart station. The 28R gets you there in just about 30 mins, it’s less crowded than the 38R and its much faster if going to the airport. Bringing the 28R to the inner Richmond is making it easier for me and my neighbors to cross the city via Muni. In my eyes the parking loss is well worth the benefit of more convenient transit.

  9. bus terminal good. the laxness in dealing with homeless bad. As they try to break up tents in SOMA and clear homeless from downtown, there is an increase in family friendly richmond. this needs to be nipped in the bud. There is also a permanent guy with a tent now on 3rd and cornwall

  10. It’s already been said but I’ll add my appreciation of the 28R stop– that’s a useful line! Great for Lowell and SFSU students, people heading south on Bart, etc. Although I don’t use it regularly now, it would’ve been super at other times in my life for me and my family.

    I also think it’s funny to complain that ‘one bus sat in the front of the stop for nearly an hour with an “out of service” notice on it’ when the vast majority of curbs are occupied by cars that stay ‘out of service’ for many hours or days at a time.

  11. Do not know why complaining – There many meetings before it was inserted
    The Richmond District people want better transportation improvements, and they got it. They improvements to the 1-California Route and they now got the 28R-19th Avenue coming from California and 6th avenue to Alemany and Geneva [Near Mission District]

    They got a huge improvement by having the 28R there.

  12. it sound like it’s not a terminal to enhance and increase service, but a terminus for shortened routes, a pit stop for shift changes and potty breaks, etc. I can understand the community not being happy bout that, but getting nimby on homelessness sucks, they need to be incorporated. 5 parking places for an empty bus stop could be 10 tiny homes.

  13. I live right around the corner. I can see the many buses from my window. I do not remember seeing any information posted prior to these drastic changes, and I ride MUNI daily. The buses idling is definitely a health hazard. Drivers shouting to each other is an annoyance.
    For decades 28r used to terminate off of park presidio, which is a much better place for a turn around, IMO.
    I think the buses are much more of an issue than the Wizard. She’s been around for a year and a half! She’s not hurting anyone. The other folks I’ve only seen sporadically. I think many residents in this hood seem to be sheltered and the EW HOMELESS attitude makes me really worry about my neighbors.
    That said, I find this article about how this bus station is changing the quality of life here extremely ironic. There are a couple of new businesses that have really brought a lot of foot traffic and general noise into this once quiet hood. I guess we all get to suffer now lol!

  14. Who cares? Don’t live in the city, if you’re worried about transit fumes. Who cares about the buses? It’s not as if we’re not used the sound of the California all day long. Do I love it? No. In the greater scheme of things, this is whiny stuff. As for the homeless woman, I worry about her, but she used to be camped out where the California now stops. At least she won’t get hurt, where she is now versus staying in the park or ocean beach where you don’t have to think about her. I have multiple friends that bring her food. Show her somewhere safe for more than a night and I bet she’d go. Yes, the homelessness is going to get
    worse. I’d come here too if I was homeless. Best neighborhood in the city.

  15. I’m sorry but the “don’t live here if you don’t like it” thing isn’t a great solution. Some of us have been here for decades. So you’re supposed to just put up with whatever the city government throws at you? That’s why the city is in the sorry state that it’s in, coz too many people threw their hands up and shrugged. Now all the diversity is draining out of the hoods and what we have left is yuppies. Yay.

  16. We need a proper bus stop with estimated times on the #1. One of my main problems has been not knowing which bus is leaving FIRST on the #44 bus terminal and that it is hard to tell a #28 from a #44. Grumpy, non-communicative bus drivers who treat passengers like a nuisance don’t help either.

  17. I’m calling BS on this one. Sara owns a restaurant less than 100 yards away and is pulling the same crap that the Geary Merchants Association are pulling and trying to fight muni to keep those precious parking spaces they are so worried about.
    The city needs transit and people need to get to work, stop being selfish.

  18. @Borb – It’s no secret or great revelation that I an a co-owner at Nourish Cafe. Buses have always stopped on California Street, this is nothing new. The post is pointing out that with the additional influx of buses and the creation of the terminal, new issues are occurring. If you’re ok with buses blocking pedestrian crosswalks and blocking car traffic lanes, then that’s your prerogative. But as a resident of the inner Richmond, and yes – GASP! – a business owner too, I would like to see SFMTA manage their terminal more responsibly, with greater care towards the people that live and work around it.

  19. To me the irony is less about merchants vs the SFMTA and more about the changes these businesses bring to the once-quiet hood. Nourish’s daily 7am delivery trucks and noisy outdoor diners cause just as much disturbance as the buses. Not to mention the people hanging out on the sidewalk waiting to get their food. Yes, it does seem hypocritical to write such an article when one considers this situation.
    However, I think many of us who live near the stop were alarmed at the fact that it’s suddenly become like a bus station. It doesn’t seem healthy.
    And I really want to know how people found out about these SFMTA meetings, because the general consensus is that no one knew that this was going to happen. Sure, they put up plastic signs saying that this was now going to be a 28r stop, but is that really informing the public?
    And @Charlie : if you experience a driver treating you poorly, report them to 311!
    44 drivers are notoriously rude. Myself and another potential passenger were totally snubbed by a driver the other day. She studiously ignored us when we begged to know if she was leaving (the schedule was totally off that morning). It was bad even by MUNI standards. So make sure to take down the bus number and note the time, and give 311 a call. You’ll be doing all of us a favor, cause there’s no reason for that.

  20. @DOESITMATTER

    “I have multiple friends that bring her food.”

    CONGRATULATIONS. THANK THEM FOR CONTRIBUTING TO THE HOMELESS PROBLEM IN OUR NEIGHBORHOOD. “FEED THEM AND THEY WILL STAY.”

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