Tag Archives: San Francisco County Transportation Authority

Richmond District holding two Muni meetings this week

It’s been a while since I last updated The Daily Dose with some current Muni news. A couple of community meetings are happening this week in the Richmond District. One has to do with a proposal for a 5-Fulton limited bus line and the other is on the Geary corridor bus rapid transit project.

Supervisor Eric Mar is inviting Richmond District residents tomorrow night at 5:30 p.m. to learn about the 5-Fulton limited bus proposal from the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency. It’s taking place at the Richmond District police station community room on Sixth Avenue near Geary Boulevard. The 5L-Fulton would a mix of local (La Playa to Sixth Avenue) and limited stops (Eighth Avenue to Van Ness) during peak hours.

The regular 5-Fulton will still run, but the proposal calls for the regular service to begin at Eighth Avenue.

Geary corridor bus rapid transit

The San Francisco Riders Transit Union is hosting a forum discussing the bus rapid transit project on Geary. Transportation planners from the San Francisco County Transportation Authority will be there to update residents on the project.

The riders transit union will also present findings of a survey they conducted of Muni riders on the Geary project. The meeting is on Wednesday at the Richmond District Public Library from 6 to 8 p.m. The meeting room is only accessible through the 10th Avenue entrance.

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Posted by on August 20, 2012 in MUNI


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Geary bus rapid transit project poses design challenges for city transportation planners

Conceptual alternatives for Geary Corridor Bus Rapid Transit. Source: San Francisco County Transportation Authority.

Published July 25, 2012
San Francisco Public Press

Those hoping for a quicker ride down Geary Boulevard on a shiny new bus rapid transit system will have to be patient. Current plans say it won’t go into service until 2019 at the earliest.

Bus rapid transit, which is meant as a cheaper substitute to light rail by using special buses in dedicated traffic lanes, is set to debut on Van Ness Avenue in 2016. However, design challenges and funding are slowing down plans for the Geary route.

Transportation planners from the San Francisco County Transportation Authority, the lead agency in planning for the project, have spent more than a year researching ideas for the best way to implement the estimated $200 million plan. Currently, the 38-Geary, 38L, 38AX and 38BX bus lines, which have a combined 50,000 passengers a day, run along the corridor that connects riders to the inner and outer Richmond District and downtown San Francisco.

Planners said bus rapid transit on Geary Boulevard could save riders up to eight minutes of travel time on the 38L (between 33rd Avenue and Gough Street) and boost ridership by up to 25 percent (depending on the street design). The current plan has dedicated transit lanes starting at 25th Avenue and ending at Gough Street, with the 38L as the line using those lanes. But two major intersections between the starting and end points have complicated the design process, said Chester Fung, principal planner for the Geary project.

Masonic Avenue and Fillmore Street have underpasses, which separate traffic on Geary Boulevard for those motorists who want to connect to those streets.

“It’s relatively complex and poses constraints to us in how we provide both the dedicated bus lane and how we provide a transit station in this area,” Fung said.

Fung said planners have gone through at least a dozen designs just for those two intersections during the past year, but have narrowed them down to three. One option is keep to have bus rapid transit above the underpass (street level), using side roads. Parking and loading zones along those streets would be affected, but the plan would not require new transit stations.

The other options call for putting a center lane for bus rapid transit using either a single or double median, but that would require putting transit centers at the underpass. Fung said a staircase and elevator would be needed at the top of the underpass so riders can access the bus stop. Fillmore Street has a similar problem. Because of an 8 percent grade below the underpass, it would not be possible to put transit stations in the center unless the underpass is filled and the streets are leveled. Fung said that could cost as much as $50 million.

Muni rider Johanna Ward, who attended one of three community meetings held by the authority last month, said the project looked “very promising.” Ward was not fond of the idea of putting a bus stop below the underpass. She said it would be difficult for riders who have baby strollers to walk up and down the stairs and was worried about the elevators malfunctioning, which they often do currently in the Muni Metro stations.

Further complicating the timing of the project is a lack of funding. Fung said the authority is working on applying for a federal grant. It is also trying to persuade the Metropolitan Transportation Commission to help with funding. The authority could get as much as $75 million from the federal grant and $50 million from the local sales tax, leaving it $75 million short. A final design is supposed to be chosen by 2014 with construction beginning in 2017.

Riders who missed the three community meetings can visit the Geary bus rapid project website to submit comments or to stay up-to-date on the project. Link:

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Posted by on July 25, 2012 in MUNI


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After a decade-plus of planning, San Francisco finally sets 2016 date for bus rapid transit

The proposed design of the Van Ness bus rapid transit project will include center bus-only lanes and platforms, improvements that will speed buses significantly, transit planners said. Illustration courtesy of the Municipal Transportation Agency.

Published May 25, 2012
San Francisco Public Press

SF Streetsblog wrote an in-depth story about the environmental impact report challenges. Read it here.

It took the United States eight years to get a man on the moon, but it’s going to take transit officials almost 12 years to get a new high-speed “bus rapid transit” system onto one of San Francisco’s busiest corridors.

The Van Ness Avenue project, which in 2006 was projected to open at the end of this year — in time for the Muni centennial — has been pushed back four more years, largely because transit planners had underestimated the time needed to complete the environmental work and project planning.

The environmental impact report and the state’s own environmental review took more time to complete because of the complexity of the project, said Tilly Chang, deputy planning director of the San Francisco County Transportation Authority. She said this is more than just a transit project because it involves completely re-engineering the street.

The first feasible study on corridor in 2006 predicted that the environmental report would take two years to complete. Now it’s not expected until fall 2012.

That pushes back the start of service to fall 2016.

Late last week, the city’s Municipal Transportation Agency said it would pay the estimated $125 to $130 million cost of the project with money from the federal government, local sales tax and regional and state funds. Construction would start in spring 2015.

The transit agency’s board of directors made the plan more concrete last week by approving a design that puts the buses in the center of the street and boarding platforms on the right side. The design will also further limit left turns for drivers.

BRT 101

A bus rapid transit system dedicates a lane of traffic to public transportation. Getting buses out of regular traffic helps speed trips for riders, studies in cities around the world have shown. The system also can include signal priority for transit vehicles, low-floor buses for quicker boarding and pedestrian safety measures.

Tim Papandreou, deputy director of transportation planning for the city’s transit agency, said bus rapid transit on Van Ness will be 30 percent faster compared with current Muni service on the line, and buses will hold 25 percent more passengers.

The project calls for new 60-foot-long articulated buses for the 47-Van Ness route. Current buses on the line are only 40 feet long.

“On face it may seem simple, but it’s quite complicated,” said Michael Schwartz, transportation planner of the authority.

Worldwide trend

Many cities across the country are working on similar projects or already have them up and running, including Las Vegas and Los Angeles. Australia, Brazil, Colombia, Mexico, Canada and dozens of other countries have some form of bus rapid transit system.

Schwartz said the city’s bus rapid transit plan is unique in the United States in that it would be a full-featured bus rapid transit system in a very dense city. He said planning and analysis for the project needed to be more thorough, since other local and state agencies were involved. (Caltrans, for one, maintains Van Ness Avenue as a state highway.)

Despite all the delay, Schwartz said he remains optimistic about future bus rapid transit projects, and that the Van Ness Avenue experiment “will serve as a proof of concept” to speed development of bus rapid transit on Geary Boulevard and elsewhere.

The authority’s commissioners still needs to approve the design. A decision is expected in late June.


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