13. Transportation
SFMTA: San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency
SFO: San Francisco International Airport
PORT: Port of San Francisco
SFCTA: San Francisco County Transit Authority
Caltrain: Peninsula Corridor Joint Powers Board
TJPA: Transbay Joint Powers Authority

Muni Bus

The COVID-19 pandemic has greatly impacted the transportation sector. Ridership losses, cautionary decreases in transit service delivery, and reduced parking and traffic enforcement mark the main areas in which the COVID-19 crisis has adversely impacted revenue streams generated by transit, parking and traffic operations. During this crisis, transportation has been critical to maintaining mobility for essential workers and ensuring access to essential services, while prioritizing the health of transportation workers and the public. Transportation will continue to be just as critical during the recovery ahead, as workers and visitors return, children go back to schools, and cultural activities resume. Transportation infrastructure will be a driver of the regional recovery and the backbone of the city’s social fabric. It is critical that the City provide high quality transportation service for all, including neighborhoods with high populations of people of color and low-income people, as well as youth, older adults, and people with disabilities.

This chapter describes projects and programs to improve San Francisco’s transportation network, mitigate losses due to the COVID-19 crises, and build resilience in the sector over the next 10 years. It is critical that San Francisco takes care of our transportation needs so that the city remains accessible and livable for generations to come.

Overview

San Francisco sits at the center of the Bay Area, both geographically and economically. To support residents, workers, and visitors, the City maintains a vast system of transportation infrastructure ranging from cross-town buses and Muni trains to the San Francisco International Airport, one of the busiest in the United States prior to COVID-19. Regional transportation assets like BART and Caltrain also run through the city, connecting San Francisco to the surrounding counties.

While addressing the operational challenges brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic, San Francisco is also in the midst of implementing several major capital initiatives that will improve its transportation system for years to come. From the Salesforce Transit Center downtown, Better Market Street, bus rapid transit (BRT) lines on major thoroughfares, and terminal expansions at the Airport, San Francisco is adding capacity that will dramatically improve mobility. These projects will expand the transit network and provide benefits throughout the city, and are estimated to create nearly 58,000 jobs over the next 10 years.

San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency

The San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency (SFMTA) manages all City-owned ground transportation infrastructure. Related operations include running the San Francisco Municipal Railway (Muni), managing parking and traffic, facilitating bicycling and walking, regulating taxis, and planning and implementing strategic community-based projects to improve the transportation network and prepare for the future.

The SFMTA has a number of short-term and long-term processes in place to identify and prioritize its capital projects. Once every two years the SFMTA develops its own fiscally unconstrained Capital Plan, last published in 2019, to identify needs for projects and programs over the next 20 years. This Capital Plan is overseen by the Transportation Capital Committee, which is comprised of representatives from all the agency’s functional divisions. The plan identifies the agency’s capital investment needs and establishes priority investments.

Over the next 10 years, the SFMTA’s total capital need is approximately $4.8 billion.

This City-wide Capital Plan summarizes SFMTA’s capital needs at a high level. For a detailed description of SFMTA’s capital projects, please see the SFMTA’s published plans at SFMTA Reports and Documents

San Francisco International Airport

Owned by the City and County of San Francisco, and located within unincorporated San Mateo County, the San Francisco International Airport (SFO) manages a large and diverse infrastructure portfolio that includes four runways, 91 operational gates, and four terminals that total 4.4 million square feet. It also oversees 32 miles of roadways, six parking garages, the AirTrain transit system, a rental car facility, a new 351-room hotel, leased cargo and maintenance facilities, a waste treatment plant, and more than 274 miles of pipelines, ducts, power, and pump stations for water, sewage, storm drainage, industrial waste, and gas, in addition to electrical and telecommunications distribution systems.

To help manage its assets, the Airport previously maintained a five-year and a 10-year Capital Plan. The Airport currently reports and tracks its capital spending against an adopted capital improvement plan (CIP), currently totaling $7.8 billion. A major objective of the Airport’s current Capital Plan is to meet increased infrastructure demands driven by historic levels of passenger growth. Prior to COVID-19, the Airport was ranked the fifth most active airport in the United States in terms of overall origin and destination passengers and the seventh most active airport in the United States in terms of domestic origin and destination passengers, according to Fiscal Year 2018-19 U.S. Department of Transportation statistics. The Airport accounted for approximately 66.7% of the total air passenger traffic at the three San Francisco Bay Area airports during Fiscal Year 2018-19. The Airport has also prepared a long-range planning document (ADP) that is currently undergoing environmental review. The ADP includes proposed projects to be implemented as demand warrants to support growth to 71.1 million annual passengers. In FY 2018-19, the Airport reached 58 million annual passengers.  As the Airport and the general economy returns to pre-COVID levels and as traffic rebounds, projects in the ADP could be considered for inclusion in the CIP.

The Airport’s Capital Plan identifies $1.4 billion in infrastructure needs through FY2031. This chapter contains a high-level summary of the Airport’s capital needs. For a more in-depth description of the Airport’s capital projects, please see the five-year and 10-year Capital Plans published on the Airport’s website: flysfo.com.

Port of San Francisco

The Port of San Francisco is the hub of the local and regional commuter, special event, and tourist water transportation network in the Bay Area. The Port constructs and provides land and water areas to support ferries and excursion vessels that are operated by external agencies such as the Water Emergency Transit Agency (WETA) and the Golden Gate Bridge and Ferry District. Though it does not operate any such vessels itself, the Port works in close collaboration with these critical agencies. The expansion of both publicly and privately operated ferries has helped to address congestion in the Bay Area while continuing to build an emergency response network. Prior to COVID-19, WETA ridership had grown significantly and is expected to continue to grow again in the coming years.

San Francisco County Transportation Authority

The San Francisco County Transportation Authority (SFCTA) is the sub-regional transportation planning and programming agency for the City. The SFCTA is responsible for the City’s long-range transportation planning, coordinating with federal, state, and other local transportation agencies. In this capacity, SFCTA helps to plan, fund, and deliver improvements for San Francisco's roadway and public transportation networks. The SFCTA is funded through a combination of local funds including San Francisco Sales Tax revenues and Vehicle Registration Fees, as well as grants from the State of California and federal government.

Peninsula Corridor Joint Powers Board (Caltrain)

San Francisco, along with San Mateo and Santa Clara counties, is a representative member of the Peninsula Corridor Joint Powers Board (JPB), which operates and maintains Caltrain, one of the oldest commuter rail services in Northern California. Caltrain provides peak and off-peak connections along the Peninsula rail corridor between San Francisco and Gilroy. Per the 1996 Joint Powers Agreement, funding for system-wide capital improvements are shared equally among the three member counties, while local improvements are, in general, borne by the county in which the improvements are located. More information on the JPB’s future projects and programs can be found at Caltrain Project Plans

Transbay Joint Powers Authority

The Transbay Joint Powers Authority (TJPA) was created to manage the financing, design, development, construction, and operation of the Transbay Program, including the Salesforce Transit Center and the Caltrain Downtown Extension (DTX). Phase One of the Transbay Program included constructing the Salesforce Transit Center, a $2.2 billion modern transit hub that replaces the seismically deficient terminal in downtown San Francisco. Now complete, the Salesforce Transit Center helps to unify a fractured regional transportation network by connecting eight Bay Area counties and the State of California through 11 transit systems: AC Transit, BART, Caltrain, Golden Gate Transit, Greyhound, Muni, SamTrans, WestCAT Lynx, Amtrak, Paratransit, and the future California High-Speed Rail. The project is split in two phases. Phase 1 saw the opening of the Salesforce Transit Center in August 2018; Phase 2 encompasses construction of the Caltrain Downtown Extension, a new Fourth and Townsend Street Caltrain station, the Transit Center’s train station and pedestrian connection to BART and Muni, and a new intercity bus facility.

A related effort overseen by San Francisco’s Office of Community Investment and Infrastructure will create a new mixed-use transit-oriented neighborhood surrounding the Transit Center. For more information on this neighborhood development, please refer to the Office of Community Infrastructure and Investment Section in the Economic and Neighborhood Development chapter of this Plan.

Bay Area Rapid Transit

Since its opening in 1972, Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) has become essential to the mobility, economy, and livability of the Bay Area for riders and non-riders alike. Prior to the COVID-19 crisis, BART carried 440,000 passengers on a typical weekday. Pre-COVID forecasts suggest that demand for BART will increase as the region grows, with 600,000 daily riders projected to use BART by 2040. However, after 48 years of service, BART faces major challenges including aging infrastructure, crowded conditions for riders, and revenue declines due to COVID-19.

BART improvements within San Francisco will include ADA compliance projects to improve accessibility, station modernizations, and escalator replacements.