Muni passengers prepare to board the Route 38 Rapid bus along Geary Boulevard at Park Presidio Boulevard. (Kevin N. Hume/S.F. Examiner)

Lawsuit seeking to block Geary Rapid bus project dismissed

A San Francisco Superior Court Judge has dismissed an environmental lawsuit against a major Muni bus project on Geary Boulevard.

The Monday ruling clears the way for the Geary Rapid bus project to continue. It would speed the commutes for 54,000 daily bus riders by installing red transit-only lanes and center medians so riders could board 38-Geary buses much like trains.

A group of Geary merchants and neighbors, called San Francisco for Sensible Transit, sued San Francisco in early 2017 to block the project, arguing the environmental review of the Geary Rapid project contained “fatal substantive flaws,” such as by failing to analyze not building the project all and relying on “outdated data” and “unsubstantiated models.”

Judge Cynthia Ming-Mei Lee disagreed. She ruled that the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency and San Francisco County Transportation Authority offered “substantial” evidence supporting the the environmental reviews’s findings. The City Attorney’s Office praised judge’s decision.

“We appreciate the court’s thoughtful and detailed ruling,” John Cote, a City Attorney’s Office spokesperson, said in a statement Tuesday. “As we’ve said from the start, the environmental review for this project was complete and accurate. The petition to stymie this project was misguided, and it was denied in its entirety. The court found that the laundry list of accusations from the opponents were all lacking.”

David Heller, president of the Greater Geary Boulevard Merchant Association and a proponent of the suit, criticized the decision.

“Look at what’s happening on Van Ness, and on Taraval, and in the Mission,” Heller said, referring to streets where merchants have said red transit-only lanes led to business closures. “It’s really sad. I can see a lot of merchants not able to survive.”

Despite the lawsuit, SFMTA moved forward with construction of the Geary Rapid project earlier this month.

The first set of improvements includes almost two new miles of transit-only lanes in each direction on most blocks between Stanyan and Gough streets, and new bicycle markings to help bicyclists cross Geary Boulevard at Webster, Steiner, and Masonic streets, the San Francisco Examiner previously reported.

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