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Muni's $2.4 Million Mission Transformation Saves 2 Minutes, Costs Shopkeepers More

SAN FRANCISCO (KPIX 5) -- San Francisco's plan for Muni in the Mission District promised to speed up commutes, but the time saved has come at a startling cost: a million dollars a minute.

"Sixty-five thousand people ride in the Mission corridor every day," said director Ed Reiskin.

For the past five months crews have been busy remaking 23 blocks of Mission Street to make it more bus friendly, putting transit only lanes, taking out parking and rerouting traffic.

The price tag on the project? $2.4 million.

Muni says the transformation will save commuters about two minutes.

Local business owners say the money, along with the time saved, is just not worth it.

"We support better service for Muni riders, but this is basically hurting the businesses and the economic vitality of this community," says Roberto Hernandez of the Mission Merchants Association.

The trouble is, faster buses also mean fewer cars coming in to shop.

Take, for example, the busy intersection at Cesar Chavez Boulevard. "They created what we are calling the "Trump wall" - people cannot drive onto Mission street. They are forced to make a right-hand turn," says Hernandez.

Drivers are forced to go around the block to get back on Mission Street. No sooner than you get back on Mission, you're ordered off again, and the again , and still again.

"What it has done is stopped people from coming onto Mission Street," says Hernandez. "Consequently, for over 300 businesses revenue has dropped drastically over the last five months.

City Hall feels the time-saving project is worth it. "For a lot of the riders who are coming through it feels more like 10 minutes," said Mayor Ed Lee. "We are going to keep tweaking it with input from the shopkeepers to make sure they are not hurt."

That means some of the traffic diversions may come down. But meantime, shopkeepers are feeling the pinch.

"We're a neighborhood that is already in crisis, this is supposed to help, but it's not," says Hernandez.


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