Jessica Kwong/The S.f. ExaminerTransit officials explain the staff-recommended Geary Corridor Bus Rapid Transit plan at a community meeting on Dec. 9 in the Richmond District.

Geary BRT plan moving forward with community input process

With Van Ness Avenue bus rapid transit on its way to becoming the first of its kind in The City, authorities are bringing before the community a staff-recommended alternative for a similar system on the longer Geary corridor.

The corridor, which includes Geary Boulevard, Geary Street and O’Farrell Street between 48th Avenue and the future Transbay Transit Center, is San Francisco’s most heavily used surface transit route, providing more than 50,000 trips daily. The thoroughfare is primarily served by Muni’s 38-Geary line. As transit users and drivers alike on Geary know, the buses are often slow, unreliable and crowded.

A Geary Corridor Bus Rapid Transit project that transportation officials are pushing would, like the Van Ness BRT, feature dedicated bus lanes aimed at improving bus travel times, pedestrian safety and access, and neighborhood infrastructure.

Unlike the Van Ness BRT, dedicated lanes on the Geary corridor would not all line the middle of the street. Center bus lanes and consolidated stops planned between 26th and Palm avenues would seek to reduce travel times by 30 percent. New, colored dedicated curbside bus lanes would line 33rd to 26th avenues on the west side and Palm Avenue to Gough Boulevard on the east end. Gough to Market streets would see enhancements to existing side bus lanes. The outlying sections — 48th to 33rd avenues and Market Street to the Transbay Transit Center — would remain largely the same under this project.

Other improvements would include some dedicated bicycle lanes.

The project will cost an estimated $240 million, said Chester Fung, principal transportation planner for the San Francisco County Transportation Authority.

“Van Ness BRT got federal discretionary funds and Geary is just as competitive, so we feel like we’re in a good position to get the money,” he said.

Planning for the Geary Corridor BRT began several years ago and the current staff-recommended plan was unveiled this fall after various community meetings in 2012. The environmental process started in 2009 and is still in the review phase. County transportation and San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency officials hope to release a draft environmental document in summer 2014 and provide service by 2018.

A community meeting in the Richmond district this month drew about 40 residents. Dave Dippel, who lives on 15th Avenue between Geary and Clement Street, said his block has seen a huge increase in traffic and he hopes left turns will be restricted during commute hours.

After hearing from Dippel about a second community meeting on Tuesday at the Main Library, Claudia Denton shared similar concerns.

“The project needs to address our needs as homeowners,” she said.

After the meetings, project officials, including Peter Gallotta, a member of the Geary BRT Citizens Advisory Committee, explained the proposed changes on oversized renderings of the corridor.

“I think given the constraints of time and resources, this alterative fulfills many aims of the project,” he said. A third community meaning is being planned for mid- to late January for the Fillmore area.

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