Today’s Headlines

  • Geary BRT Draft EIR Shows 15 Minutes of Saved Travel Time, But Project Still Needs Funding (SF Bay)
  • Gov. Brown Signs Legislation Making Muni Bus Camera Enforcement Permanent (ABC, SF Bay)
  • BART and Muni Rank High on Transit Report Card, According to Next 10 (Biz Times)
  • Bay Bridge Designer Warns Caltrans East Span Cables Subject to Corrosion Due to Leakage (Merc News)
  • Oakland Environmental Groups Sue City and Developer to Block Coal Shipments (Biz Times)
  • Berkeley City Council Member Proposes Removing Parking Minimums for Housing (East Bay Express)
  • BART Falls Short of “Best Practice” Service, Especially on Nights and Weekends (GJEL)
  • Burlingame to Host Public Meeting for High-Speed Rail Planning Tomorrow Evening (Green Caltrain)
  • VTA Could Raise $170 Million for Diridion BART Station Through Value Capture (Green Caltrain)
  • Solano County Driver Strikes and Kills Pedestrian (CBS)

More headlines at Streetsblog USA

  • “Gov. Brown Signs Legislation Requiring Muni Buses to Be Equipped With Cameras”
    Requiring = Allowing the continued use in issuing tickets. This doesn’t require buses to have cameras, it allows the pilot to become permanent.

  • Andy Chow

    BART determined that 15 minute headway on nights and weekends didn’t produce corresponding ridership they were expecting, and that changing the base frequency impacts connections to buses. I think the most effective is to extend service about 30 min to 1 hour on Friday and Saturday nights.

  • Jimbo

    BRT saving 15 minutes on geary is absolute joke. we are the most technologically advanced city in the world, our transportation is 3rd world and our hope to fix it is a barely faster (2.7mph faster) bus. this should be scrapped and the money invested towards a subway.

  • OneSF

    This is pretty much the best they can do given what they have to work with. Although building a Geary subway would be the most ideal thing to do, it would probably require decades of planning and requests for funding for the billions of dollars that it would cost to build.

  • There’s a long, complicated history to the project that took light-rail off the table a while back, and the fact is the money just isn’t there. At least not without a magic pot of money or imposing new taxes to cover the higher costs.

    It just so happens that BART is looking at a new line under Geary as part of the Core Capacity/Second Transbay Tube study. That could well be the best chance for a Geary Subway, but @onesf:disqus already noted the time and cost.

    In the meantime there are three options on the table to significantly improve (not saying great, but look where Geary is now) bus service on Geary and the City is going to be gathering feedback before making a decision.

    Option 1 is side-run bus lanes the entire length.
    Option 2 include 3.4 miles of center-running bus lanes, protected with medians separating the busses more like a light-rail corridor.
    Option 3 is a hybrid, with 1.7 miles in the center, but most side-running.

    The SFMTA and TA are tentatively recommending the hybrid option, but will be holding outreach meetings and gathering feedback before making a final recommendation to the city.

  • jonobate

    It seems like they’ve crippled the project by their intention to go for an FTA Small Starts grant, which limits the total project cost to $250m. This rules out major changes to the Masonic and Fillmore underpasses, and in turn eliminates center-running transit lanes from a large section of the corridor.

    Geary needs whatever it can get in the near term, but it’s pretty clear that this project won’t be enough in the long term. Hopefully SFCTA will initiate a Geary Light Rail study as soon as implementation of Geary BRT is underway, with a budget appropriate for a project of this magnitude. Waiting for the BART fairy to build a subway under Geary is not a realistic option.

  • Andy Chow

    There are only few New Starts opportunities available. So if you want a big project to get New Starts you better have to get in line. Muni Central Subway and BART to Berryessa are getting New Starts funding in the Bay Area now, and will be so for the next few years. I think the Caltrain Downtown Extension is next after Central Subway.

  • neroden

    Muni Central Subway and BART to Berryessa are pretty terrible projects. Geary LRT would have been better. Sigh.

  • I’m still working my way through the draft EIR, but major changes to Fillmore and Masonic have not been ruled out at all. They just happen to be the most expensive, and as @jonobate:disqus pointed out: there’s a cap on Small Starts so the extra funding has to come from the city or some other grant source. That new dedicated Muni funding coming from Prop B could be part of it. (maybe the new state cap-n-trade funding?)

    Section 2.2.5 explains it in more detail, but the gist is alternatives 3 and 3-Consolidated (meaning there’d just be a rapid line, not a rapid and local) would fill in the Fillmore underpass and make a continuous boulevard with but busses continuing down middle. For Masonic the center running bus lanes would use the tunnel with San Francisco’s first subway station for a bus line. Exits and elevators could be strategically placed near the 43 stops on the surface above. Traffic would be routed over the top.

    So here’s where I believe there’s still hope for fixing the Fillmore underpass: the SFMTA and TA are only tentatively recommending the “Hybrid” option, but waiting for public comment and feedback before making a final recommendation.

    Those meetings, surveys, and polls should be coming soon.

    I’m including the cost charts from the EIR showing the capitol construction costs vs. the ongoing operating costs because I think there’s a solid case to be made that in the long run, saving $5 million/year might be worth the extra $130 million in upfront construction costs. That means the costs will have paid themselves off in 26 years.

    I’m not saying that’s the only case to be made for fixing the Fillmore underpass, but I think it’s a good one. Thoughts?

  • jonobate

    Check out Chapter 10 for details on how they came up with the Hybrid Alternative, specifically 10.3.3 and 10.3.4 to see how they decided on options for Fillmore and Masonic.

    For Fillmore, the official line seems to be – we think filling in the intersection is the best option, but planning to fill in Fillmore will cost more money and take more time than we have available. That’s a fatal flaw for this project, but we support doing this as a future project. That’s a reasonable assessment.

    For Masonic, I’m disappointed to see that filling in the underpass was not even considered on the grounds that it would be too expensive. I’m having a hard time believing that filling in the Masonic underpass would be significantly more expensive than filling in the Fillmore underpass, and I think this option should have been included in the alternatives analysis for a cost/benefit comparison to the other alternatives, even if it wasn’t ultimately selected.

    Without that option, the only possibility for center-running transit lanes come from locating stations in the underpass. This isn’t as desirable as filling in the underpass due to the less than ideal waiting environment and the need for passengers to change levels to get to Target and the 43-Masonic. I think it’s still preferable to the side-running alternative, but the option is not recommended due to the passenger waiting environment, and also the reduction in auto capacity.

    So that’s how we end up with only 1.7 miles of center-running transit lanes on the length of Geary. If Geary BRT really is limited to the FTA Small Starts funding cap, it’s probably the best we can do.

    I think the SFCTA should formally declare this document to be Phase 1 of a larger project. Between Palm and Laguna this Phase 1 project should include only elements that would not be made redundant by a switch to a center-running alternative, or which are low cost and easily reversible. Essentially this would mean deferring the construction of bus bulbs and bus stations, but still including lane restriping, signal priority, ped bridge removal, etc.

    Then, once Phase 1 construction is underway, start planning for Phase 2 with LRT back on the table, filling in Masonic and Fillmore back on the table, and the intention to go for New Starts rather than Small Starts funding when the environmental process is completed.

  • jonobate

    It’s also worth noting that the recommended Hybrid Alternative costs $300m, which is *still* more that the FTA Small Starts funding cap. How they are going to square that circle, I don’t know.

  • p_chazz

    I wonder how many pedestrians are going to get nailed jaywalking to the bus stops.

  • p_chazz

    Couldn’t they cover over the Fillmore underpass and repurpose it and the Masonic tunnel for a future Geary subway? All the excavation has already been done.

  • jonobate

    SFCTA did consider covering rather than filling the Fillmore underpass, but the structure required would add maintenance cost and have a relatively short lifespan compared to the rest of the project. In any case, I don’t think the underpasses can be reused as BART stations, they are far too shallow and not designed for human occupancy.

  • DragonflyBeach

    Correction, BART subway down Geary and 19th Ave. wouldn’t been a better project. Why are we using LRT for the 2nd most dense city in the United States? The reason Muni Metro is half LRT is because its reusing old streetcar infrastructure, the visionary planners from the 1960’s (i.e. the BART board) made Muni their subway and its far more efficient.

  • DragonflyBeach

    Well, after the San Jose extension is completed it seems likely BART will refocus on urban expansion. I mean, an LRT down Geary seems more like a pipedream than BART does, mainly because BART has actively put forth Geary subway studies and projected routes since their Metro Vision announcement in 2007. They’ve elected it as a finalist corridor, and finished their study of its feasibility in 2014. Next thing to do is a little planning and announcements, propositions for higher taxes (which everyone will vote for). Meanwhile, SFMTA hasn’t done jack about LRT B-Geary other than describing it as a “possibility” if the traffic on Geary gets too hot for BRT. Which is ridiculous, it already is.

    But it’s not a surprise, seeing as how SFMTA hasn’t built a subway, let alone a useful high-speed Muni corridor since the 1928 completion of the Sunset Tunnel. Unless BART builds it for them, SFMTA seems uninterested in even expanded the Metro system, besides the political favor that is the current Chinatown extension (which laughably stops in Chinatown, goes to show what the true purpose was).

    So, I’ll wait for the BART fairy and use the BRT has a temporary band-aid on the bullet wound that is the Geary corridor.

  • Mark

    You do know that the SFMTA has no serious interest in any plan other than the hybrid, correct? If you get in a meeting with members of the SFMTA, you will hear that it is either the hybrid or nothing.

    I have read some of your posts, and it seems like you think things through. Can you tell me your opinion of the times claimed under the hybrid for speeding up the bus line along Geary? The preliminary EIR claims about a 9 minute reduction in travel time as the basis for asking for $300 Million, plus $12.5 million a year in annual maintenance costs. The times they used for the “No Build” are two years old and then projecting to 2020. Note the times for the Hybrid option (again, the only plan they are seriously considering – the others are out, other than the no build), and then go to the MUNI website…with the advent of technology, one can see the travel times for the buses daily. To the second. The buses are equiped with transponders and GPS locaters. Their travel times are faster now, with the transponders, the new buses, and new loading techniques (off-site payment, multi-door loading). Can you support the Hybrid when you see they have already met these travel times, AND THEN SOME, except of a small window in the late afternoon in bound commute. That one small window of time. And that is likely due to the crappy congestion at Market Street as commuters leave.

    If they go back to the drawing board, with updated travel time data, you think they can make a case that anything they want to do will speed up the bus service over what it is now? I don’t.