Bring Back the 31-Balboa Now

Last Thursday, your San Francisco Bicycle Coalition joined the Tenderloin community, SF Transit Riders, and Walk SF at a rally to call on the SF Municipal Transportation Agency (SFMTA) to bring back the 31-Balboa bus, a Muni line that has been out of service since the pandemic began. As we begin transitioning out of shelter-in-place, we must prioritize equity in our public transportation recovery process to ensure our most vulnerable populations are able to move freely, comfortably, and safely throughout our city. We believe a transit-friendly city is a bike-friendly city, and we are in solidarity with our Tenderloin partners to bring back the 31-Balboa.

Pressured by local residents, the SFMTA brought back the 27-Bryant in January, a north-south route that connects the Tenderloin to SoMa and the Mission. This was a major win by residents, but there was still no plan from SFMTA for when the 31-Balboa would return. As we were advocating alongside our Tenderloin community partners for quick-builds and street safety improvements, it became clear that bringing back Muni service was a critical transportation need for residents, which is why we’re once again joining the call to increase transit to a neighborhood that is in need.

As our city begins reopening and returning to some sense of normalcy after over a year of sheltering in place, the SFMTA announced last month its plans for Muni service restoration but left out the 31-Balboa. Tenderloin residents were disappointed at this news, given how many people depend on this line to get to hospitals, schools, grocery stores, and even open space. For Tenderloin residents, the 31-Balboa provides direct access from the neighborhood all the way to Ocean Beach. 

At the rally last week, Tenderloin resident Wanda Edwards spoke about how she has a difficult time walking because of her disabilities. “I have fallen over way too much walking to the 5-Fulton and 38-Geary,” said Wanda. “The hills are steep and the 31-Balboa gets me to where I need to go.” Many other residents at Thursday’s action echoed Wanda’s remarks about the lack of access.

For a neighborhood that has some of the lowest rates of car ownership and the highest rates of transit ridership in San Francisco, we believe that restoring Muni service to the Tenderloin is ultimately a question of equity. Eric Rozell, a leader with the Tenderloin Traffic Safety Task Force, summed it up best: “It is not redundant that we need the 5-Fulton, 31-Balboa, and 38-Geary. It is not redundant to our underserved seniors and people with disabilities that they have as many options as possible.” 

From committing to do more quick-build projects in the Tenderloin to reinstating bus lines, your SF Bicycle Coalition supports seeing all of these advocacy efforts through. To bring back the 31-Balboa, the Tenderloin community needs your help: sign the petition today, and sign up for Tenderloin updates below.

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