Our goal: Give people better ways to get where they need to go.


Policy Letter Tuesday, November 1, 2011

In a November 1, 2011, letter to the San Francisco Planning Commission, SPUR expressed its opinion that the DEIR adequately analyzes the impacts of the Transit Center District Plan and Transit Center Tower. We believe the value of this plan in enabling the continued development of a walkable, transit-friendly downtown core outweighs the very small shadow impacts it generates.

Blog Thursday, September 1, 2011

San Francisco’s Market Street has a long and fascinating history: from its ambitious beginnings as an over-scaled boulevard, laid out by Jasper O’Farrell in 1847, to its heyday as the city’s vibrant theater district in the early twentieth century. Market Street rose to prominence after the 1906 Earthquake, survived a series of urban planning experiments in the mid-twentieth century, and absorbed the important yet disruptive insertion of BART beneath its surface in 1972.

Blog Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Forget what your mother told you about "it's what’s on the inside that counts.” In the case of BART trains, it’s all about what’s on the outside.

Blog Tuesday, August 16, 2011

The San Francisco Bay Area is expected to grow by 1.7 million people in the next 25 years. If you’ve ever muscled your way onto an overcrowded BART train or idled at the Bay Bridge toll plaza, you may wonder how we’re going to get all these additional people back and forth across the bay. SPUR has a few ideas. Our short animated film illustrates a few simple things we can do today, as well as one big idea for the future.

SPUR's first forray into video animation enjoyed coverage from Fast Company and Streetsblog.

Article Monday, August 15, 2011

Shanghai is China’s urban showcase, and transportation is one of its showpieces of scope, scale and speed. A decade ago, the city had one subway line. Today it has a grid of 11, covering 260 miles and averaging more than 5 million passenger trips a day. By 2020 all those numbers will double. Shanghai is also a hub for the world’s largest high-speed rail network.


Our priorities for Transportation


The experience of walking is at the heart of what makes a good city. Everyone is a pedestrian. Changes that make San Francisco more walkable do more than just improve mobility; they make it a joy to be a part of the city. Pedestrian improvements also make the city safer, especially for children and seniors. But even for the young and able-bodied, it will have a dramatic effect on the quality of life.


San Francisco is a multi-modal city. Besides walking, motor vehicles account for the most trips, but transit carries more than 1,000,000 trips every day—700,000 on Muni, about 340,000 on BART, plus regional buses, ferries and private shuttles. Transit captures the largest portion of trips into the financial district every morning. Bicycles carry about 90,000 trips every day. Taxis and shared cars have a growing role. We must recognize that actions in support of one mode will affect another, and ensure that we protect the diversity of modes.


How we use our land is as important as how we design our streets to the transportation experience. We must build more housing and jobs along transit corridors and in already transit-oriented neighborhoods, where transportation can be more efficient. This means zoning for taller buildings and higher density in downtown and along the BART and Muni Metro lines in the neighborhoods. It means allowing new in-law units and eliminating parking and density limits in some neighborhoods. Buildings should face the street, to provide interest for pedestrians and "eyes on the street" to enhance safety.


San Francisco must grow over the next several decades if we do our share to accommodate the growing population of California (and urban growth, as opposed to suburban sprawl, is a very good thing for the region and the planet). We cannot add more space to the roads to accommodate more trips, so we will have to use our existing road space more efficiently, which means supporting more walking, bicycling, and transit, and less use of private cars.

Transporation projects


SPUR supports the Transit Effectiveness Project, the comprehensive review of Muni service jointly conducted by the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency (SFMTA) and the Controller's Office. The TEP identified the sources of reliability problems, proposed more efficient routing of buses, and recommended operational changes to increase transit vehicle speeds. Implementing the TEP, in a city where street space and access are always hotly contested, will require courage and the support of SPUR and its members. 


Part two of SPUR's Muni campaign involves funding. SPUR first sounded the alarm about Muni's ongoing structural deficit in 2005. Now, SPUR is updating that work to reflect new goals for increased ridership and a better understanding of the roots of the reliability problem, with the goal of a citywide campaign for the right amount of additional funding for public transit in San Francisco.


The extension of Caltrain to downtown San Francisco is the Bay Area's single most important transit project. SPUR made huge strides in 2007 toward finding the funding for the Caltrain extension. It would do for the San Franicsco-Peninsula commute what BART does now for the San Francisco-East Bay commute: High-speed rail will enable commuters to walk from their downtown offices and get to San Jose by train in 30 minutes—or to Los Angeles in just two and a half hours!


SPUR supports Muni's Central Subway and advocates for improvements to the plan. Most importantly, the subway line must be extended at least one station to North Beach. A second priority is the lengthening of the subway platforms that are currently planned to accommodate only two-car trains, a capital cost-saving measure that could end up costing more in operating expense in the long run, if our goals for transit ridership are met.


San Francisco is getting closer to construction of the city's first true "bus rapid transit" lines, where exclusive rights-of-way, new buses, fancy stations, and other treatments give rubber-tired buses many of the characteristics of more efficient and comfortable light rail trains. SPUR has several members on the advisory committee for both the Geary and Van Ness Avenue project and strongly supports their robust implementation.


The Better Streets Plan includes a laundry list of improvements appropriate for our growing city: wider sidewalks, conversion of street space into public space, more trees and permeable pavement, to name a few. SPUR is working to make the plan real: giving it a budget and an implementation strategy.


A complete bicycle network is safe and comfortable for any able-bodied person from ages 8 to 80, and connects all major destinations and neighborhoods, would increase the share of trips by bicycle from about 3-4 percent to 10 percent or more. SPUR is developing a model bicycle plan, emphasizing the complete network, what it would look like, and how much it would cost to build it.


Smooth streets save motorists millions of dollars in maintenance costs and protect bicycle riders from dangerous potholes and discouraging, uncomfortable rides. San Francisco is falling behind in the never-ending effort to maintain its streets, a deficit that causes pavement degradation that increases maintenance costs. SPUR supports an increase in the annual pavement budget of at least $20 million per year because we cannot afford not to pave our streets.


San Francisco has a nonprofit car-sharing operation, City CarShare, that is dedicated to reducing car use through the elimination of car ownership. SPUR supports extending city benefits such as subsidized parking and onstreet parking spaces to encourage more car sharing. Taxis should be more available and affordable without jeopardizing the livelihood of cab drivers. SPUR supports greater regulation of the taxicab industry with the goal of rewarding companies that provide better service.

Transportation updates

To get regular updates on transportation activities contact us at