Today’s Headlines

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  • BART to Richmond?
    Decades later and we’re still just thinking about doing this. The sad part is that they are considering it only to 6th Ave., leaving a huge swath of Geary without rail and requiring folks to transfer at 6th., not to mention alienating those on the 28 line, a major N-S connector, who wouldn’t be able to transfer unless they take a bus to BART from Park Presidio. Great idea. Just as great as building a Central Subway to nowhere.

    Honestly, does it even matter? It’s not like anything is going to be built in the next two or three decades. Expect the current situation to just worsen. If you’re really tired of dealing with it my suggestion would be to move out of the Bay Area to a community/metro area where they take transit seriously.

  • baklazhan

    If it was built, Muni would no doubt reconfigure lines to better mesh with whatever the result would be. The 28R already goes to 6th & California.

  • david vartanoff

    Forty or fifty years late but better than never. Run it at least as far as 19th where it should split with one branch heading down to the Daly City Station and the other over the GG Bridge to San Rafael.

  • jonobate

    I’m not super hot on Geary BART for precisely this reason. Geary is a logical, coherent corridor, and any transit solution for it should run all the way from downtown to the beach without forcing a transfer. It would be hard to justify the high cost of BART for lower density Central and Outer Richmond, so those neighborhoods would likely end up with a bus transfer to BART in Inner Richmond, or at Masonic.

    Instead, the 38 could be upgraded to Muni LRT, with a subway east of Gough and surface running west of Gough, for far less than the cost of BART. The capacity and speed increase that comes with LRT would be much closer aligned to the needs of the neighborhood, and the lower price tag would make it more likely to actually get built.

    BART will likely have little spare cash after building a new Transbay tube and connecting it up to downtown SF and downtown Oakland, so planning new BART routes to outer neighborhoods is a bit premature.

  • Hardly premature. With over 100,000 people clogging the existing bus system in the Richmond alone, not to mention additional riders to the system once they realize it can take 15 minutes to get downtown vs. triple that time, it’s long overdue. I agree about the outer Richmond, though, but I don’t have statistics on hand that show ridership west of, say, 25th Ave. Nonetheless, any BART consideration under Geary will only make sense if it runs south under 19th Ave to join up with the existing line at Daly City, with a spur under Geary to 25th Ave. Muni light rail and busses can act as feeder lines to the BART system so that at pretty much any point you are only a 10-min ride or so from a BART station. Also, BART runs on a schedule…a real schedule, unlike Muni. Many complaints from Muni riders focus on the fact that they never know how long their trip is going to take. It’s always a guessing game. Throw in a transfer and it’s even more nerve wracking.

  • DragonflyBeach

    SFMTA doesn’t have enough LRVs nor a yard to store a lot of cars for Geary, nor funds to be building long subways, and they’ll be poofed from the Central Subway, let alone their possible M-tunneling, and a possible North Beach extension. I’m under the impression SFMTA is waiting for BART to do it instead. BART can draw money from the region for region-wide projects, SFMTA can’t. BART is expensive, but tunnels all the time, even in suburban areas because of the availability of funds for them. Muni hasn’t tunneled anything before the Central Subway, except maybe the Twin Peaks tunnel in 1917.

    Also, Muni isn’t cheaper than BART, at least when it comes to tunneling. BART’s expensive suburban expansions are results of oversized stations and new yards. A spur from a downtown subway into Geary shouldn’t be much more expensive, considering they’re not building a new yard, and the surface segments are simple subway tops (Fulton BART is ballparked at $8 Billion, Muni is unlikely to be any cheaper unless it runs on the street, which Geary would hate and it would be very slow).

    Also, LRT down Geary frankly sounds awful. Muni isn’t good at making surface LRT (see: T-Third st) and will likely slow down the corridor without grade separation. BART has the train length to take wide swaths of passengers and the speed to do it. Compare BART in the Mission vs. the J-Church and its pretty obvious which is preferable, and note that intra-SF BART trips (San Franciscans riding between Embarcadero to Balboa) rank as the highest if not second ridden transit line in the city.

    Instead, Muni should be focused on speeding up Van Ness with a subway (that’ll likely have to be funded by BART) and getting Geary BRT in the meanwhile.

  • DragonflyBeach

    Until the Richmond upzones, BART should only be extended to the tip of the Avenues, frankly. Big deal if it doesn’t go all the way to the beach, everyone in the Richmond would prefer it to driving or taking the bus. People transfer to BART in the Mission and its fine. BART comes so frequently and gets to the destination quickly that its not really a factor in terms of commute times.

  • Building a major transit project takes a lot of time and planning. You can’t wait for Geary to upzone before deciding, “Oh, okay. Three 8-story buildings were just completed. Now we can start digging.” So, BART can build the Warm Springs station in the middle of nowhere with the anticipation that development will follow, but Geary Blvd, which is already developed, but could certainly use more height (I certainly agree with this point), has to wait for high rises to pop up before a BART line is justified. That’s just wrong.

  • Don’t forget, Van Ness runs right through the highly-hyped “Hub” which is slated for mega height and development. Some BART plans call for a new line entering the city under Folsom, curving up Division and under Van Ness to Fort Mason. The only issue with this route is that at no point does BART actually connect with the existing BART line under Market St. So, if you’re at a station on Folsom and want to transfer to either the BART or Muni lines on Market St. you will have to transfer at Van Ness to Muni and ride inbound and transfer again to BART. A subway under Van Ness is the right idea, but with which system? Essentially, you could extend the Central Subway underground through North Beach to Fort Mason/Aquatic Park and then down Van Ness/Division/Showplace Square and surfacing on 16th St. and then to 3rd St. to loop back through SOMA. Or, extend BART north of 16th/Mission with stations at Van Ness (connection to Muni), McAllister, Geary, Clay, etc. to Fort Mason/Aquatic Park where it can connect with an extended Central Subway.
    Tunneling isn’t the main construction cost. Stations are.

  • DragonflyBeach

    BART down Van Ness sounds great, but it doesn’t have much potential passed Van Ness. It’s supposed to transport residential to main financial district. A Muni line down Van Ness is better because, I’m assuming its crosstown. BART passing at Geary/ Van Ness would already hit the most dense parts.

    Early BART Metro vision drafts had a Geary line that came from a subway down Van Ness, but it seems convoluted, and indeed, doesnt cross Market st. subway.

    And yes, you’re right, stations are the biggest cost factor, but tunneling is indeed expensive. Muni’s stations on the Central Subway are way too tiny for Geary, I don’t even think they’re good enough for Chinatown. Its basically the size of a two-car Muni LRV. Geary needs far longer lengths, the Mission st. stations get packed on BART quick during rush hour and suddenly those 700 foot long stations are necessary.

  • DragonflyBeach

    Well yeah, I’m expecting Geary blvd to be upzoned, so lets get started with BART planning now (I think its been in the works starting to at least 2007), and get around to upzoning the Avenues.

  • All good points. To save costs, the CS station platforms are only 2-car lengths. Poor planning decision that they will soon regret once the Chinatown platforms get packed beyond belief.
    I’d prefer a Central Subway loop under Van Ness simply because it’s a more logical extension. I honestly do not think BRT is going to solve any problems or improve service between Van Ness and North Point. However, a faster, more direct connection south of Van Ness to Mission Bay will help ease some of the congestion and make transit more attractive.
    I do disagree about BART’s purpose. Sure, it carries a lot of people downtown to/from their jobs, but an effective mass transit system should be more than just a rush-hour solution. The goal should be to get more people to use the system at all hours and for more reasons than just commuting. That’s what distinguishes an urban system from a suburban commuter rail system. SF needs more of the former.

  • p_chazz

    But of course none of this will ever happen because David Heller and the Geary Boulevard Merchant’s Association won’t let it.

  • DragonflyBeach

    BART’s purpose isn’t necessarily commuter rail, as it is rapid transit to hit the widest radius possible, transcending all cities. BART only has 1 line through SF, and since 1965 it was supposed to have 2, the latter being Geary. BART doubles as suburban commuter and as urban subway, most of its ridership comes between SF-Oakland-Berkeley travels anyways, and thats why I think is a better option on Geary.

    Muni Metro is really just the old streetcars put underground by BART in the 70’s so that they wouldn’t be scrapped and turned into trolleybuses. Its strongest points are medium-high ridership along shorter corridors like Market st., but on the surface, its archaic flaws are apparent. Putting Muni Metro down Geary would be a massive waste of money, it would be slower than a bus, and unlike BRT the trains cant pass each other.

    But the biggest draw for BART down Geary is simply the geometry of it. BART’s for sure building an adjacent subway to Market st., most simplistically, the obvious direction is to go down Geary corridor. The B-Geary was removed in anticipation for BART and the streets make tunneling a lot easier compared to the relatively narrow corridors of other streets like Stockton.

    Nevertheless, BRT first, BART later.

  • jonobate

    In your comment you raise a lot of issues which either are non-issues, or would be equally big issues with a BART project as with a Muni LRT project.

    SFMTA doesn’t have enough LRVs – you’ll have to buy new trains either way, and Muni LRVs are far cheaper than BART trains.

    nor a yard to store a lot of cars for Geary – again, you’ll have to build a new yard either way. Where in the Richmond would you put a new BART yard? Muni could easily re-purposes Presidio Yard as an LRV yard.

    nor funds to be building long subways – the vast majority of funding for transit projects is state and federal, which would be available to either BART or SFMTA.

    and they’ll be poofed from the Central Subway, let alone their possible M-tunneling, and a possible North Beach extension. – add up all those projects and you’re still nowhere close to the $15bn price tag of a new transbay tube, with is a prerequisite for a Geary BART line as the existing tube could not handle the additional trains.

    I’m under the impression SFMTA is waiting for BART to do it instead. – undoubtedly true, but my contention is they shouldn’t be waiting for the BART fairy to fix their Geary problem.

    BART can draw money from the region for region-wide projects, SFMTA can’t. – 7 out of 9 BART directors answer to taxpayers in Alameda and Contra Costa counties. Good luck getting them to support an expensive new SF line, right after supporting an expensive new transbay tube to SF.

    BART is expensive, but tunnels all the time, even in suburban areas because of the availability of funds for them. – this used to be true, but more recent BART extensions have required economization. The Antioch extension was switched to surface DMUs to save money, the Livermore extension was supposed to be subway but now is likely to be surface, and the Warm Springs/Berryessa extension is mostly surface, aside from a short tunnel under Lake Elizabeth. The days of BART-to-SFO-style pork fests are over.

    Muni hasn’t tunneled anything before the Central Subway, except maybe the Twin Peaks tunnel in 1917. – the Central Subway is a pretty recent and significant exception to the “Muni doesn’t do tunnels” narrative, don’t you think?

    Also, Muni isn’t cheaper than BART, at least when it comes to tunneling. – true, but Muni LRT could run on the surface west of Gough, reducing 7 miles of tunneling to 2. BART would need to tunnel all 7 miles; there’s no surface ROW, and there’s no chance of running an aerial structure down Geary.

    BART’s expensive suburban expansions are results of oversized stations and new yards. – new yards are required for the additional trains needed to service the extensions, and are not optional. The stations are overbuilt for sure, but they are not the main cost driver for the extensions.

    A spur from a downtown subway into Geary shouldn’t be much more expensive, considering they’re not building a new yard, and the surface segments are simple subway tops (Fulton BART is ballparked at $8 Billion, – $8bn sounds about right for Geary BART; BART has never in it’s history spent anywhere near that sort of money on an extension, and won’t have much appetite for spending money after building a $15bn new transbay tube.

    Muni is unlikely to be any cheaper unless it runs on the street, which Geary would hate and it would be very slow). – In rough numbers, surface rail costs $100mm-200mm/mile, subway rail costs $1bn/mile; that puts Muni LRT (2 miles subway + 5 miles surface) at around $3bn. It would not need to be slow if done properly, with exclusive ROW and signal priority for the surface sections; end-to-end run time would probably be around 30 mins.

    Also, LRT down Geary frankly sounds awful. Muni isn’t good at making surface LRT (see: T-Third st) and will likely slow down the corridor without grade separation. – the T isn’t great, but that’s primarily due to the circuitous approach to downtown and the lack of signal priority. Don’t make those mistakes again, and you won’t have a problem. There’s no reason that surface LRT would slow down the corridor any more than the current BRT project.

    BART has the train length to take wide swaths of passengers and the speed to do it. – right, but that speed and capacity would be wasted. A 10-car train running from the beach to downtown in 15 minutes would be lovely, but unless you think we can demolish the Outer Richmond and build skyscrapers along the beach, those trains are going to be almost empty until they get most of the way to downtown. A 2 or 3 car LRV train making the same journey in 30 mins would be much better matched to the needs of the corridor.

    Instead, Muni should be focused on speeding up Van Ness with a subway (that’ll likely have to be funded by BART) and getting Geary BRT in the meanwhile. – wait, you’re saying that Muni would be too incompetent to build a Geary subway, but would do just fine at building a Van Ness subway? How does that make any sense?

    Van Ness is not a great corridor for subway as the two primary routes that serve it split at Van Ness/Mission; so either you’d have to force a transfer, or you’d have to build a *lot* of subway miles to replace the 47 and the 49. BRT is a good choice for Van Ness, surface LRT a good option for the future.

  • DragonflyBeach

    >Muni LRVs are far cheaper than BART trains.
    Of course, but SFMTA has far less money to buy LRVs compared to BART purchases of Bombardier vehicles: exhibit A: the Breda shortage. And the massive amount of LRVs needed to service Geary since its two-car configurations at best, pale in comparison to 10-car, even slower frequency suburban lines going into Geary. You could take two lines out of the Mission subway, put them on Geary, and be quite fine as is. BART’s 8-10-cars for every 7 minutes down Geary is quite obviously better than 2-cars puffing up Geary every 9 minutes like current Muni Metro frequencies. The need for more BART vehicles is quiet less in that regard.

    >Where in the Richmond would you put a new BART yard?
    No, you don’t. Firstly the yards BART tends to build are due moreso to distance, and if there’s equipment failure in say San Jose, dead-heads back to Hayward are less workable than a Santa Clara yard. Also, BART has a yard in Colma, and goes regionally, BART service I imagine wouldn’t just be Ocean Beach-Embarcadero. More like Ocean Beach-Richmond or Fremont.

    >Muni could easily re-purpose Presidio Yard as an LRV yard.
    Don’t see how they’re doing that “easily” but okay. Doesn’t even really matter, since they’re not doing it. Muni isn’t dumb enough to trade Geary buses which can pass each other and provide express service over cluttered LRVs that can’t and won’t have ROW because Geary merchants would throw a fit.

    >7 out of 9 BART directors answer to taxpayers in Alameda and Contra Costa counties.
    Alameda isn’t like CC. Alameda is far more pro-transit, and would probably vote in favor just like Alameda always does, in exchange for a new intra-urban line promised later, and considering the tube needs connecting stubs in Alameda and SF, that’s not an issue. Only real issue is Contra Costa but they’d look ridiculous whining considering they got the Bay Point extension and now eBART. These votes are pretty down to me if you sell it primarily as a 2nd transbay tube thing.

    >this used to be true, but more recent BART extensions have required economization
    Hasn’t required squat, the BART board just wised up about wasteful spending in capital projects is all. They realize bankrupting local agencies for suburban extensions isn’t the best way to go about projects, but it’s not really a requirement. BART’s focusing more on the core nowadays.
    But they still do it from time to time, see the silly over engineered Oakland Airport Connector, and the unnecessary Lake Elizabeth tunnel that should’ve been elevated.

    >Central Subway is a pretty recent and significant exception to the “Muni doesn’t do tunnels” narrative, don’t you think?
    A) Stellar subways SFMTA is building by the way, platforms as long a 2-car Breda, ensuring we’ll never get greater capacity to 3-cars+. Muni probably wouldn’t even subway passed Geary and Van Ness. Assuming they finish that North Beach/Wharf extension first from their little stub.
    B) Again, it’s recent, but how many decades (a century actually) went by until Muni actually built one? Meanwhile BARTs blowing money building subways under suburban San Bruno and a lake in Fremont.

    > there’s no chance of running an aerial structure down Geary.
    And what’s the chance against the merchant groups that loud LRVs banging down the street will pass, either? Better yet with street platforms, because that’s not controversial. Also I’m more skeptical if BART would use current BART tech subways or current style aerials, but considering the rage over painting streets I’d say both are dead anyways. BART or Muni subways to at the least Park Presidio is the only tolerable solution. I also don’t think BART would go all the way to the Outer Richmond in a first phase anyways, Muni sure couldn’t. BART would probably terminate at Masonic, very furthest is 22nd, and then later people would beg for an extension like Mission residents beg for a 30th st station.

    >It would not need to be slow if done properly, with exclusive ROW and signal priority for the surface sections
    Ok, if this were LA or Dallas I’d give it a shot, but we’re 0 for 6 in terms of signal priority, effective right of way (maybe M-Oceanview) and they’ve been planning it for 30 years, but sure. Perhaps, if Geary doesn’t make a fuss about half the street taken, the lack of stops (which SFMTA is not doing, plain and simple), signal systems. T-Third st. is the newest and ultra slow, its not simply the amount of stops, the surface speed limits are ridiculous. Streetcars are old tech, and without grade separation so that they don’t even encounter signals they’re pretty slow, even in LA.

    If Muni was elevating the line I’d take it more seriously.

    >There’s no reason that surface LRT would slow down the corridor any more than the current BRT project
    There’s no reason a system which cannot pass other vehicles would slow down the line? So, knowing 38’s crushload, and Muni is running 2-car sets, what kind of frequency are we expecting? Surely not the current bus every 2-5 minutes at rush hour type? All in sync?

    > A 2 or 3 car LRV train making the same journey in 30 mins would be much better matched to the needs of the corridor.
    Try 45 minutes at best. Its not 3-car, we’ve already established SFMTA can’t run those lengths in the Avenues, apparently. No Muni Metro line of similar distance, like say the N-Judah is making trips from the Outer Sunset in 30 minutes.

    I agree that BART shouldn’t be running 10-car trains. They’d probably run 5-6 cars with urban turnbacks at stations like MacArthur or Bayfair. And if BART is using typical frequency of 7-10 minutes for 9-10 car sets, the trains would be moderately full. Again, BART has that high capacity flexibility and Muni doesn’t. Muni can’t even be bothered to construct subway platforms for the crazy crowded Chinatown segment beyond a 2-car Breada length, so why would Geary be any different?

    > you’re saying that Muni would be too incompetent to build a Geary subway
    Not necessarily incompetent, just far below needed capacity and a cheap tack-on B-Geary 1910’s era streetcar. And again, Muni doesnt have funds to be building long subways so I’m not seeing anything passed Van Ness–Fillmore tops.

    >but would do just fine at building a Van Ness subway
    Partial subway, partial surface. The Geary subway is perfect for BART based simply on the likely geometry of the new BART line. A cross town Muni along Van Ness would speed up the crowded Van Ness corridor and hopefully connect into the Mission with the J-Church, and rather than taking the Bernal Cut, continue up into the Excelsior, it would put the largely low-ridership J into use and help transport an isolated segment of the Northern corridor to the central transit lines. Also, such a project is quite impractical for BART (if BART could do it, I’d prefer, but BART Metro studies have indicated its complexity and lack of interest for Van Ness).

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