A pilot traffic project to divert eastbound vehicles off of San Francisco’s Market Street has reduced traffic on some parts of the street by more than 50 percent, according to a report released by the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency.

The program, which began in late September, has also helped Muni vehicles save nearly a minute on eastbound trips on the street, according to the report, which was discussed in the agency’s Board of Directors meeting Tuesday.

The program is part of a long-term plan to improve the aesthetics and efficiency of the city’s main boulevard. It does not affect westbound traffic, but vehicles going east toward the Ferry Building are encouraged to turn right at 10th Street, and forced to do so at Eighth Street.

Vehicles that turn onto Market Street at Seventh Street are again forced to turn right on Sixth Street.

SFMTA officials gathered traffic data at various intersections along Market Street and other thoroughfares such as Mission and Folsom streets, and Director of Administration Debra Johnson presented the information during Tuesday’s meeting.

According to the report, the average hourly traffic volume on eastbound Market Street east of Eighth Street declined by about 130 vehicles per hour, or 54 percent. The decline was much less, about 5 percent, for traffic approaching Montgomery Street on Market Street.

The report also concluded that eastbound Muni vehicles on Market Street saved about 50 seconds on trips in the AM peak commute and midday hours.

Traffic on other streets, such as Mission Street, increased by as much as 15 percent.
Agency officials noted in the report that the program, which began Sept. 29, requires a large commitment of police officers to enforce it.

Three officers are required at the intersection of Market and Eighth streets, and one or two officers are required at the intersection of Market and Sixth streets to make sure vehicles turn right.

However, after the officers leave their posts at 7 p.m., many vehicles violate the right-turn only restriction and continue down Market Street.

The report recommended changing the forced right turn from Eighth Street to 10th Street because right turns made from the center lane of Market Street onto Eighth Street cross through the bike lane.

The 10th Street turn would also be better because there are fewer pedestrians and no Muni boarding island, according to the staff’s recommendation.

Muni spokesman Judson True said the agency is “working with our city partners and community stakeholders on the next steps for the pilot.”

The program “is part of a much larger effort to remake Market Street into a world class place,” he said.

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