Op-ed: Save Golden Gate Transit Service on Geary Blvd

Stop the circling-the-drain erosion of transit to and from the North Bay

Photo: Wikimedia Commons/Olympus Digital Camera
Photo: Wikimedia Commons/Olympus Digital Camera

Note: GJEL Accident Attorneys regularly sponsors coverage on Streetsblog San Francisco and Streetsblog California. Unless noted in the story, GJEL Accident Attorneys is not consulted for the content or editorial direction of the sponsored content.

As a member of the San Francisco Transit Riders (SFTR) and a long-time transit rider in San Francisco and the North Bay, I am disturbed to learn that Golden Gate Transit proposes to entirely eliminate transit service (route 92) along Geary Boulevard as of this September.

This will weaken already poor regional public transit service between San Francisco and the North Bay. Travelers from Marin County will have fewer route options by which to access San Francisco and points south via public transit. Many 92 riders will opt to drive, further congesting city streets and negatively impacting Muni service. Travelers from San Francisco will also have fewer direct options to the North Bay via public transit.

For those unfamiliar with Golden Gate Transit service along Geary Boulevard, it connects southern Marin County via the Golden Gate Bridge, Park Presidio Boulevard, Geary Boulevard, and the Western Addition with the Civic Center and South of Market. From at least the 1980s until 2003, service along Geary Boulevard operated with headways as frequent as every 30 minutes for much of the day (roughly 7 a.m. to 9 p.m.), seven days a week, as Golden Gate Transit’s route 50. In 2003, route 50 was replaced by route 10 and, at some point, service was reduced to mostly 60-minute headways, seven days a week.

In June 2009, daily Golden Gate Transit service along Geary Boulevard was discontinued and replaced with weekday-only commuter service during the morning and evening peaks (as route 92). Current schedules include 8 southbound and 10 northbound trips/day. Of note, the majority of these routes serve “reverse commuters” (people who work in Sausalito/Marin City/Shoreline Office Center and live in the City).

As Golden Gate Transit provides significant weekday commuter service to and from downtown San Francisco (southbound into the City in the a.m. and northbound from San Francisco in the p.m.), many buses operate “not in service” along Geary Boulevard (most buses service is in one direction during commute hours, so they are deadheading back to Marin in the morning or back into San Francisco in the evening).

GGTs proposed "replacement service" for the 92 and 93. Image: GGT
GGTs proposed “replacement service” for the 92 and 93. Image: GGT

Therefore, at a minimum, Golden Gate Transit should maintain some level of service along Geary Boulevard (at least for reverse commuters) with the use of what otherwise would be “not in service” buses. Such service would be of minor expense for the District and would be partially (or entirely?) offset by fare revenue, since the buses are running down Geary anyway, just without fare-paying passengers. They could even supplement revenue on these lines by allowing rides within San Francisco, opening up a new, express travel option connecting SOMA and Civic Center with destinations along Geary.

I call on fellow concerned SFTR members and Streetsblog readers to speak up at an upcoming public hearing on Thursday, May 17, at 9 a.m. (or notify the Golden Gate Transportation Committee/Committee of their concerns by 4:30 pm on Friday, May 18, by emailing publichearing@goldengate.org). The hearing takes place in the Board Room in the Administration Building at the Golden Gate Bridge Toll Plaza.

For more information, please see this article from the Marin IJ: Southern Marin bus routes 92, 93 face elimination.

  • Bruce

    GGT can’t allow rides within SF because Muni won’t allow it.

  • jonobate

    I’ve heard SFMTA staff say they don’t actually care about that rule; that it’s from another era and is no longer relevant. I’m sure GGT, SamTrans and Muni could eliminate that rule if they all got together and figured out how to make it work, it’s just not high up on anyone’s agenda.

  • p_chazz

    Allowing rides within SF is a terrible idea. It would play havoc with the schedules.

  • p_chazz

    Because that would play havoc with the schedules and lengthen the commute time to Marin.

  • jonobate

    Buses can’t overtake in the BRT lanes, so if a GGT bus uses a BRT lane without stopping at the BRT stops, it’ll just be stuck behind a Muni bus that is making the stops. So they may as well make the stops and pick up some passengers.

    Of course, the GGT buses could just do what they currently do and use the general traffic lanes, but that’s likely going to be slower than using the BRT lanes and stopping at the BRT stops – especially as the general traffic lanes will be reduced from 3 to 2 per direction.

  • p_chazz

    The time it would take for passenger boarding could add significantly to the time of the trip. I have commuted on GGT and the delays caused by people fishing for change, asking bus drivers for information, or in the case of handicapped patrons, simply boarding can really add up.

  • David

    Not sure where you heard that from, but GGT buses will stop at all the same stops as Muni along Van Ness. That’s why they did that stop consolidation for the construction phase and updated the plan with regular right-side boarding. One of the original plans called for GGT to skip all the stops, but that didn’t go over well.

  • mark pryor

    So MUNI buses will not stop for handicapped patrons?

  • Andy Chow

    Another good reason for not encouraging local passengers to use GGT buses is to ensure sufficient capacity for inter-county passengers. GGT uses commuter vehicles, and if for some reason it doesn’t cost anymore than Muni to ride (or accepts Muni tickets and passes), people would be encouraged to board GGT buses for the seats, taking space that could be occupied by inter-county riders. inter-county riders don’t have the convenience to board any Muni to travel out of county. Taking Muni and transfer to GGT at the last shared stop also put them at risk for not able to board a full bus or having to stand. Many GGT routes run once an hour, and Muni runs every few minutes. Muni riders would not be harmed as much for not being able to board GGT compared to GGT riders crowding out with Muni riders taking space on GGT.

  • p_chazz

    How do you get that from what I said? I was giving examples of how passenger boarding adds to the time of a bus trip.

  • jonobate

    Yes, you are correct – apologies for the misinformation.

    I’m still very much in favor of allowing GGT to take intra-SF passengers. It doesn’t make sense for a passengers trying to get from (say) Geary & Van Ness to Lombard & Van Ness to only be able to take some of buses that pick up at Geary, even though all of them will stop at Lombard.

  • Sean

    It makes a ton a sense for people going to the GGB from downtown. They usually stop at the bridge anyhow and a few people get off to transfer anyway. GGT isn’t nearly frequent enough to compete with MUNI. GGT rides allowed within the Sonoma zone without the regressive fare penalty makes even more sense. SCT is just too slow, infrequent, and has a poor span compared to GGT along 101.

  • Sean

    The only reason I took the old 10 was to avoid MUNI fare on the 28 to the bridge from my old Richmond District place. If MUNI and GGT had a one to one ratio fare agreement that would be ok, but otherwise the main effect is asking GGT commuters to shell out another $70+ for a MUNI pass. There aren’t too many reverse commuters, but to truly serve them converting reverse deadheads into a 30 minute or better Route 101 frequency would be more useful.

    Also I don’t know how much you guys know about blocking and runcutting for drivers, but chances are the extra cycle time incurred by going in service could break a block requiring a new pull out, which is probably an FTE. That costs much more than what few fare revenue expected. Also, GGT has been using the Bay Bridge as a deadhead route to get back to Andersen to save time. This op-ed also doesn’t address the positives of increasing core service on Route 4/30 which is likely to increase ridership over the old 92.

  • City Resident

    If GGT required intra-county passengers (in SF) to use Clipper cards for fare payment, potential delays would likely be minimal (and allowing the use of the rear doors for passengers to exit would help, too).

  • City Resident

    The idea of allowing intra-county passengers to hop on and off route 92 (possibly only at select stops, like major transfer points – Geary and Fillmore, Divisadero, Masonic…) is to help ensure the longevity of this route. Eliminating route 92 will certainly lengthen the commute time for those passengers who currently use this service.

  • City Resident

    The point of the above proposal is to preserve Golden Gate Transit service along Geary, which is now officially deemed to have too few riders and will therefore be axed. Eliminating Geary service harms GGT riders by reducing their route options, increasing their travel times, and (in some or possibly most cases) increasing the cost of their commutes.

    As it now stands, Golden Gate Transit’s fare for travel entirely within the SF zone is $4 and it’s unlikely this would change. This premium fare for intra-county service restricts GGT’s popularity for local, SF riders.

    Along with eliminating service along Geary, Golden Gate Transit is essentially proposing a fare increase (GGT + Muni fare) for all passengers who travel to or from stops they currently serve on Park Presidio, Geary, and in the Western Addition. For such riders, GGT is proposing service reductions and fare increases.

  • murphstahoe

    you can legally take GGT from downtown to the Francisco or the Bridge.

    true story. I was on the 72 to Santa Rosa, and a guy tapped me on the shoulder as we crossed the bridge. “Why didn’t we stop there?” “Well, if there is nobody getting on, and no passenger hits the button, we don’t stop”.

    “OK, so I will press the button and get off at the next stop right?”

    “Where you trying to go?” “I wanted to check out the bridge before my flight home to Seattle tonight!”

    The next stop was in Rohnert Park, 50 miles away. The whole bus went into crowd source mode and we got him a cab from RP to San Rafael that would hopefully get him on the Marin Airporter that might make his flight. Never heard the outcome.

    Moral – if you try to do this, get the 4 or 27 or something

  • He’s right, however there is a premium fare for doing something like downtown to GGB or GGB to downtown, $3.20 on Clipper or $4.00 with cash. The bad part is, Muni doesn’t offer any frequent direct to downtown service, except for the 76X bus with hourly service on weekends.

    But with Clipper, there’s a 50 cent fare discount if you:
    Take Muni and transfer to GGT (50 cents off GGT), or take GGT and transfer to Muni (50 cents off Muni).

  • City Resident

    Route 92 currently serves over 200 passengers/day and it would be helpful to know how many of these riders are traveling to or from destinations that aren’t served by other GGT routes (I’m guessing it’s the vast majority of them). Although it’s true that GGT proposes to beef up service on other routes (the 4 and 30 as you mention), they seem to be pulling the rug out from under all their passengers on the Geary corridor. The following GGT document provides more pertinent info, in case you haven’t seen it: http://goldengate.org/board/2018/agendas/documents/2018-0426-TransComm-No4-AuthorizePublicHearing92-93ServiceChanges.pdf

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