Skip to main content

SF transit bosses to rip out hundreds of parking spots, but it will take years and cost millions

A parked car blocks a bus stop on Market Street on May 4, 2021. | Camille Cohen/The Standard

San Francisco transit bosses are planning to remove hundreds of parking spots from nearly 1,200 bus stops across the city in the hopes of improving transit accessibility.

Flag stops—when the bus has to stop inside a traffic lane to pick up passengers— are the focus of the parking spot removals. There are 1,195 flag stops in the city, roughly a third of all city bus stops.

The city’s transportation agency has not given specific details about which bus stops would lose parking spaces, but Districts 7, 8, and 10 would lose the most parking spaces. Those districts include the Bayview, the Castro, West Portal and parts of the Inner Sunset.

Vehicles parked at flag stops can make it difficult for a bus driver to see a waiting passenger, said Supervisor Dean Preston, who introduced the resolution calling for the SFMTA to remove parking from bus stops in November 2021.

"No senior or person with a disability should need to navigate the often narrow space between two parked cars to board a bus at these stops," Preston said.

The transportation agency estimates that removing parking spaces from the bus stops could take as long as seven years and cost between $3 and $5 million.

The bus agency says it will take so long because it needs to visit around a third of all stops in the city before beginning the lengthy parking removal process. 

The agency has outlined three phases for removing parking from flag stops. 

Phase One would see a 20-foot section of bus stop curbs painted red, telling drivers not to park there. 

Phase Two will actually remove the parking spots and start with those prioritized by the agency, with a focus on busy bus routes and routes in commercial areas. 

The agency has prioritized 517 bus stops under those criteria, and the conversion, which began in March, is expected to end in March 2026.

Chart courtesy of the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency

Phase Three would take the longest and see the removal of the other 678 flag stop parking spots in the city, many of which are in quieter residential areas, the agency said. It estimates that 125 to 150 stops per year will be checked, with a scheduled end date in March 2029.

The plan was discussed at the Land Use and Transportation Committee meeting Monday.

Agency transit planner Sean Kennedy told the committee that the reason for the seven-year timeline is because the bus agency must hold a public hearing about each flag stop which will have parking removed from it.

"We can't just paint 1,200 curbs, it's going to be a longer process," Kennedy said.

The plan to add 20 feet of painted red curb to each flag stop will go before the transportation agency's Board of Directors during a December 6 meeting.

Garrett Leahy can be reached at