Riders using the 33 bus between SFGH and 16th Street will have to find an alternate route. Photo El Tecolote Archives

The San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency (SFMTA) is planning to alter the 33-Stanyan bus line’s current route to San Francisco General Hospital (SFGH) and the 22-Filmore’s route to 3rd Street. The 33 will now turn at Guerrero Street instead of Mission Street, and instead of traveling along Potrero Ave. to SFGH, the new route will continue down 16th Street to the Dogpatch neighborhood, taking over the end of the 22-Fillmore route, which will now terminate in Mission Bay.

This means that direct bus service to SFGH via the 33 will be discontinued.

Riders who use the 33 to frequent the hospital will now have to get off at 16th Street and Potrero Avenue, and transfer to the 9-San Bruno line.

The decision was contested by the Senior and Disability Action (SDA) group, which started a petition last month pleading for the portion of the bus line along Potrero Avenue not to be cut.

“Cutting this part of the 33 bus service will create extreme hardship for many people,” wrote SDA Peer Advocate Program Coordinator Alice Bierman in the petition.

Riders ranging from seniors using canes and walkers to hospital-bound disabled people in wheelchairs, from low-income families carrying groceries to parents with baby strollers, all utilize the 33-Stanyan, the petition states.

Bierman wrote further about the difficulty that many people who typically ride the 33 would now face having to transfer to the 9-San Bruno bus. Many of these people are ill or have disabilities, and the 9-San Bruno bus is always full, Bierman said, making it hard to pick up wheelchairs, walkers and strollers.

“People who are in poor health and on their way to get medical care should not have to transfer to a bus that’s always packed to the gills,” Donna Willmott, one of those who signed the petition wrote in a comment.

Proposed service changes to MUNI’s 22 Fillmore and 33 Stanyan Routes. Courtesy SFMTA

Before implementing the re-routing, SFMTA will increase service of the 9-San Bruno bus, Deputy Spokesperson Robert Lyles said.

“Why are you doing this?” asked Pi Ra, university director at SDA, pointing out that SFMTA introduced its proposal during a Feb. 4 public meeting, and already General Hospital is asking for more parking spaces.

The re-routing at 18th and Guerrero streets and 16th and Mission streets was a pedestrian safety choice, Lyles said.

The re-routing on Potrero Avenue, however, seemed a more complicated issue. Lyles didn’t say why SFMTA decided to make this change and as of April 6 said he didn’t know anything about it.

Also, on the official SFMTA’s website for the 33 Stanyan Transit Priority Project, there was no mention of the Potrero Avenue re-routing. Only the proposal for the Guerrero and 18th streets and Mission and 16th streets re-routing was displayed.

The only proof of the proposal, besides what was said at the public meeting, was in a 37-page report for March 2014 on transit effectiveness and service changes.

The petition against the re-routing has garnered about 250 signatures. Ra said he was hopeful they could affect SFMTA’s decision, but “they [SFMTA] are pretty stubborn.”

Many concerned San Francisco residents have commented on why they believe it’s important not to cut the line off at Potrero Avenue.

“I use a wheelchair, and rely on the 33 bus line to travel between Mission St. and SFGH,” Mira Ingram wrote. “More service, not less, is needed to accommodate people with disabilities who need to access health services.”