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Transportation & Land-Use

The San Francisco supports transportation issues that help induce people to drive less. We support more transit and a better environment for walking and bicycling. We oppose subsidized garages because these just induce people to drive. We support housing with less off street parking because it is posible to live in SF without a car and it should get easier. We support and want to extend the City policy which uses parking fines and fees to support transit.

Transportation activists and experts needed to serve and assist! The Sierra Club’s San Francisco Group has a Transportation subcommittee which also deals with land use issues in San Francisco City & County in an effort to promote walkable, livable communities with less residential and commercial parking. We are currently seeking help and new members to our transportation subcommittee which works closely with the Transportation Committees of other environmental organizations in SF. For inquiries or to consider volunteering with us on vital transportation issues in our city and region, please call Howard Strassner at 661-8786 to be sure that a meeting is scheduled. To see policies. To comment on policy or receive copies of the agenda with minutes contact Howard Strassner at ruthow(at)



Transbay Terminal: the future "Grand Central Station of the West"

This project has long been watched and championed by transit advocates, including the Sierra Club. It is the central driver of the City's plans to develop the Rincon Hill area into a high-density, transit-oriented area of new housing and retail development. It is a chance to provide unified service to the Bay Area's jumbled and uncoordinated various regional transit agencies. And the terminal would be the northern anchor to the long-planned California High Speed Rail system.  

The Sierra Club's John Holtzclaw has been following the Transbay Terminal redevelopment dream for literally 25 years. He is a member of the Club's San Francisco Group conservation committee, is a senior policy advisor to the Club's national "Building Healthy Communities" Campaign (formerly the "Challenge to Sprawl" campaign), is the Club's national transportation committee chair and serves on the San Francisco Redevelopment Agency's Transbay Terminal Citizen Advisory Committee. According to Dr. Holtzclaw, San Francisco officials continue to drag their feet on rebuilding the Transbay Terminal and extending Caltrain to it, thus driving up project costs.

State legislation established the Transbay Joint Powers Authority to design and rebuild the Transbay Terminal, bringing together Muni, ACTransit, Samtrans, Golden Gate and Greyhound buses, and Caltrain and future High Speed Rail to LA. The legislation also conveyed the Caltrans lands under the removed freeway ramps, to be developed into housing (35% affordable) and local shopping. The SF Transportation Authority has stalled progress on this project, threatening the return of this land to Caltrans and loss of this housing. The mayor should be urged to instruct the SFCTA to strongly support the TJPA's efforts.


Bus Rapid Transit: Fast, Frequent, Fabulous—And it Needs Your Help!

Sierra Club strongly supports transit solutions to traffic-choked Geary and Van Ness Boulevards. Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) is as convenient and comfortable, fast and reliable as trains, but at a fraction of the cost to taxpayers.

As many of us urban dwelling Sierrans know, making San Francisco’s MUNI system faster and more efficient on its primary transit network could substantially reduce MUNI’s deficit--by some estimates, up to 70%!  Low-cost techniques to significantly improve bus speed and reliability are well-understood and, after widespread use for the last 30 years in South America, Europe, Australia, and Asia, are starting to be embraced in the United States.  Depending on what combination of changes is used, these techniques are called Transit Preferential Streets (TPS), Rapid Bus, or Bus Rapid Transit (BRT).  Our SF Group Transportation Chair Howard Strassner has laid out the strong case for BRT in the pages of our chapter newspaper, the Yodeler.

Most importantly, BRT works.  There are many examples from around the world of successful bus rapid transit systems.  From Curitiba, Brazil to Eugene, Oregon, cities are making innovative use of BRT.  Here is a reminder of the advantages of  BRT:


BRT is attractive because it is cost effective and easy to implement relative to other options, such as rail.  Moreover, a good BRT system lives up to all five of the basic principles public transit reliability:

1.      Increasing the speed and convenience of boarding passengers through pre-paid fares and all-door level boarding

2.      Reducing waiting at red lights through signal prioritization

3.      Reducing congestion-related delays with physically separated transit-only lanes

4.      Improving transit stop spacing to improve speed and reliability

5.      Improving the rider experience by making the system as easy to use as possible


Now we need to make it real in San Francisco.  The ultimate realization of BRT in San Francisco hinges on successful planning and implementation of BRT along the Van Ness and especially the Geary corridor.  There is currently a small group of very vocal opponents to the Geary BRT – which is currently only be studied – in the Richmond district of San Francisco which needs an effective proponent as a counterweight.  That is where you come in.


Most of the opposition centers on the perceived detriments of the system including disruption of business during construction and reduced on-street parking.  These are legitimate concerns and that that is why the SFCTA and MUNI are undertaking an extensive public input process regarding this study and finding ways to ameliorate these issues.  However, these concerns are not sufficient to warrant abandonment of BRT.  Increased efficiency and ridership that BRT promises would ultimately increase the customer base of the local merchants more than making up for any short term pain that BRT implementation might cause.


Sierra Club members can educate themselves at community meetings conducted by SFCTA and on their website (more info at:  Write a letter to or attend a Citizen’s Advisory Committee (CAC) meeting and take the opportunity to support BRT.  Here are some talking points:


  • Transportation is the number one challenge facing the region requiring us to find creative solutions for transportation and mobility.  BRT is a proven winner [that will provide faster and more reliable transit service resulting in increased economic activity all along BRT corridors.]


  • Excellent, reliable public transit is essential for moving people to jobs, businesses, schools, and residences and is the mark of a great city. [Better, more dependable transit service means getting more people shopping in our neighborhoods without increasing parking demand.  Parking does not make a great city.]  Great cities have great transit systems.


  • The Geary corridor, and the Geary Bus in particular, is the most intensively used transit line in the city with working class San Franciscans, seniors, the disabled, and students being the most dependent on [and thus the most in need of reliable and] fast transit service [to get to the several hospitals (Kaiser, CPMC) and schools (both public and private) that are located along the Geary corridor.]


  • Investing in transit infrastructure will create better, safer transit which is the key to increasing ridership[.  Increased ridership will reduce the deficits facing the system, encourage people to get out of their cars] thus reducing traffic congestion and air pollution.


And don’t even start us on the need to reduce our dependence on oil!



High Speed Rail

Sierra Club has long supported the building of a High Speed Rail system spanning the state of California, from LA to SF, and we are likely to support the measure on the 2008 state ballot (official position is in active discussion as we work to make improvements to the plan and address important concerns about the chosen Pacheco Pass route into the Bay Area). Assembly person Fiona Ma has been a champion of this important system in the State Legislature. She deserves our thanks and praise for doing so. Learn more about HSR at the High Speed Rail site:

Download the flyer for hand out: Flyer Download(PDF) 

Download the list of public officials and their contact info: Electeds Download(Word File)

  • Ongoing Areas of Activity


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