Geary Bus Rapid Transit Study Approved by County Transportation Authority

The County Transportation Authority warming up for a long afternoon and evening of comments before the final approval of the EIR for Geary BRT. Photo: Streetsblog
The County Transportation Authority warming up for a long afternoon and evening of comments before the final approval of the EIR for Geary BRT. Photo: Streetsblog

Yesterday evening at San Francisco City Hall, the County Transportation Authority Board unanimously approved the Geary Bus Rapid Transit project’s design and Final Environmental Impact Report (EIR). The approval brings the $300 million project, which has been a decade in the making, one step closer to fruition.

For any readers just getting up to speed on the Geary project, the CTA has this video/rendering on its website:

And from the SFMTA web page on the project:

Improvements proposed in the Geary Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) project offer solutions to meet rising transportation demands and make travelling on Geary Boulevard, Geary and O’Farrell streets more efficient, safe and vibrant for everyone. Over the past year, the SFMTA and the SF County Transportation Authority have worked with communities along the corridor to refine the design details, which you can learn more about below. The proposed transit improvements, like center-running bus-only lanes, would save Muni customers up to 20 minutes round trip and make service more reliable.

Streetsblog has covered many of the issues on this project in previous posts. The meeting, like meetings about street and transit improvements to Taraval, Mission, and elsewhere, offered no shortage of heated comment and hyperbole–the board heard nearly three hours of testimony from transit advocates on one side, and local business owners and senior-citizen residents on the other.

Opponents of the project took the familiar tack of delay, delay, delay. “I really can not understand what is the rush. We have new supervisors coming in three days,” echoed David Heller, President, Greater Geary Boulevard Merchants.”This is about survival.”

Over 100 people came to comment on the Geary BRT approval. Photo: Streetsblog
Over 100 people came to comment on the Geary BRT approval. Photo: Streetsblog

But the Supervisors on the Commission called out the absurdity of asking for even more meetings and comment time. “There have been 60 community meetings, over 300 comments in the Draft EIR,” said Supervisor Eric Mar, who sits on the CTA Board.

Meanwhile, Peter Straus of the San Francisco Transit Riders objected to the “hybrid” alternative–it will be “true BRT,” meaning with center running, bus-only lanes, only from 27th Avenue to Palm. “We urge you to certify the EIR,” said Straus. “However, we cannot support designation of the hybrid. If we can’t afford a subway at this time, and we clearly can’t, then we must develop a vision for a subway on the surface–and that’s what quality BRT is supposed to be.”

Some officials referred to the project as getting Geary “rail ready.” This is an important step which will eventually improve the lives of bus riders and help make Geary safer, but how can anyone claim this moves the city closer to building a subway on the corridor? Considering the line already carries some 50,000 riders, it’s not as if the BRT is needed to prove demand.

Thea Selby and Peter Straus among the many supports of Geary BRT (and Caltrain electrification). Photo: Streetsblog
Thea Selby and Peter Straus among the many supports of Geary BRT. Photo: Streetsblog

That said, “I hope long term this BRT on Geary ultimately is secondary to a subway system. That’s ultimately where we’re going to see a major difference,” said Supervisor Mark Farrell.

Geary BRT still isn’t a done deal. The SFMTA board has to approve Phase One improvements, hopefully by the summer, before engineering and construction can begin.

CTA spokesman Eric Young doing an interview outside the hearing room with ABC. Photo: Streetsblog
SFCTA spokesman Eric Young doing an interview on the Geary BRT project outside the hearing room with ABC. Photo: Streetsblog
  • Jimbo

    please protest against this insane project that will severely increase congestion

  • dat

    Please protest against this inane comment that severely lacks capitalization and punctuation.

  • neroden

    Why not a Geary subway, transitioning to center running streetcar where there used to be streetcar lanes? Why ever not?

  • City Resident

    There is very widespread support for a subway. Unfortunately, funding isn’t available. On a national level, there is insufficient funding available for public transit infrastructure. Instead, we expend such public dollars on our very expensive military.

  • Expert Blockotect

    Congestion is exactly why the BRT is going in. People want to get to/from downtown quicker. As the report states “The proposed transit improvements, like center-running bus-only lanes, would save Muni customers up to 20 minutes round trip and make service more reliable.”

  • GUNBUSTER

    Why cannot Muni spend the $300 MILLION on underground transit? Much more densely populated cities internationally have done it with less funds and in less time. Reference Hong Kong, Seoul, and England. Some claim it is too costly, but the harsh reality is the costs will only increase in the future. The aboveground BRT proposals are all flawed. The BRT is an environmental, economical, community, and safety
    NIGHTMARE.

    The MTA claims that the Geary corridor is unsafe and has the highest incidents of accidents. How can this be possible when the buses already take up additional spaces due to the removal of much needed parking spaces?! Is it that hard for the MTA 38 drivers to pull up to a curb? Or do they now need to extend out the entire block using these “sidewalk bulbs” as in the sidewalk between Arguello and 2nd Avenue? Currently the 38 buses have devices that enable them to signal a light change. Shouldn’t this help speed this up and promote safety? It does but the MTA DELIBERATELY EXCLUDED THIS DATA from the Engineer Impact Report (EIR). Other ways the 38 drivers can help safety is if they didn’t force their way into traffic! Have you ever seen how the drivers actually drive? They drive like they are on the freeway, quickly accelerating away from bus stops and often times, zooming past stops even when there is a red light changing! MTA attributes the accidents mainly caused by motorists, but never acknowledges how its own drivers contribute to worsening the safety conditions, or how many times accidents occurred b/c a 38 driver failed to yield to existing vehicles either attempting to turn right or go straight. Again do not believe the MTA and their self-serving propaganda.

    Tearing up the Geary corridor in SF is asinine. During the course of this construction, Geary corridor will turn into a warzone. Remember all of the environment improvements that occurred in 2016? All the plants and beautification? It is going to get all destroyed and teared up! What a wonderful use of tax payer monies! To add insult to injury, the construction along Geary will severely impact the safety for pedestrians, motorists, and even bicyclists. But the worst part is the BRT plan does not even factor in what will happen with all of the diverted traffic from Geary onto the adjacent side streets
    (Anza, Balboa, Euclid, California, Clement and all the intersecting streets too)! Currently the side streets are already packed with local residents and businesses parking. But with the construction on Geary, not only will parking spaces be removed for the asinine redzones, but the delivery to businesses and parking used by customers will be removed too. The engineering geniuses working on the BRT propose IDEAL conditions only. The same applied to the time travel savings. It is all based only in theory! In reality the construction will last longer than 4 years and it will costs well over 300 MILLION.

    The BRT plan is all flawed. MTA promises 4 minute wait time for buses. Guess what,
    it already is 4 minutes! MTA promises time savings of up to 20 minute round trip. That is IMPOSSIBLE unless you stick it either underground or fly. Going from one end of Geary Blvd alone to Market St (takes over 30 minutes). How the hell can MTA shave off 20 minutes? Pure propaganda and LIES from MTA regarding the BRT benefits.

    Additionally the red carpet test project exists on Mission Street and it is a disaster. Motorists often do not know when to turn right, or even if they can b/c there is a huge redzone blocking their way. As it is Mission is one of the busiest streets for pedestrians and businesses. But since the red carpet lanes were put in most businesses have experienced significant decline. Guess what, small businesses employ people and when businesses suffer they will layoff people and eventually, if things worsen, close down. This is the fate of businesses along the largest and business street in San Francisco, the Geary Street corridor! Another thing, despite widespread protests and concerns raised by businesses along Geary, the MTA refused to conduct an “economic impact report”, which will research how the BRT project will adversely impact businesses. Gee, I wonder why.

    Lastly, there is a reason why this project was FORCED down the throats of San
    Franciscans during the 2016 holidays. There are new members joining the outgoing Board of Supervisors. There was an Engineer Impact Report (EIR) released during the holidays and then, notices were only physically POSTED in Mid-November about the report results and that a VOTING DECISION was scheduled for January 5, 2017! The MTA and Board of Supervisors only allowed 20 business days for you the general public to read the dense report, during the holidays no less! Would it surprise you that NONE of the Board of Supervisors actually read the report and understood it? They all rubberstamped the BRT proposal and now you, the SF taxpayer will be left with the 300 MILLION BILL and enjoy the “benefits” of the FOUR YEAR PLUS of hellish construction and the environmental MESS they created. The only people benefiting from this project are the construction businesses that get the construction bids!

    Do not believe the propaganda you read about the “time savings” or the benefits to ridership. The MTA and the BRT project serve only the interests of themselves.

  • GUNBUSTER

    Nonsense. How can they shave off up to 20 minutes round trip from end to end? The only way is underground or flying! As for reliability, it already runs every FOUR minutes.

  • walt kovacs

    not true. if buses run center lane, they cannot have an express and local running at the same time.
    think logically

  • walt kovacs

    20 years ago, maybe they could have done it
    but now it would cost 300 mil just for one line

  • walt kovacs

    there would have been more than 100 showing up had the meeting not been scheduled in the middle of a work day
    there is no rhyme or reason for major construction on geary for a brt
    the only time when geary becomes congested is during rush hours and that can easily be handled by doing what other major cities do and creating rush hour lanes
    bottle necks occur because of this and because this city still doesnt enforce double parking
    extra buses could also be added to parallel lines to take some of the stress off of the 38
    but the mta didnt even consider these alternatives, because the mta’s goal is not to get people from one place to the next faster and safer….their goal is to socially engineer private vehicles out of the city

  • GUNBUSTER

    There is no time like the present to create lasting positive change. The same holds true for saving for ones retirement. The Board of Supervisors and the MTA simply are short-sighted aiming solely for quick fix. In 20 years this same issue will re-appear.

  • GUNBUSTER

    Social engineering does not work. But these idiots at City Hall and the MTA do not care. They will try to force this down the collective throats of the SF taxpayer without any accountability.

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