The SFMTA said it’s exploring new options to speed up the Van Ness Bus Rapid Transit project’s two-year delay. (Mira Laing/Special to S.F. Examiner)

Van Ness BRT project delay may impact Golden Gate Transit operating costs

San Francisco’s traffic woes are the Bay Area’s traffic woes.

Golden Gate Bridge, Highway and Transportation District officials pointed to the two-year delay of San Francisco’s Van Ness Bus Rapid Transit project as a source of financial pain at a finance committee meeting Thursday, during a review of their 2017 strategic financial plan.

But the bridge district’s budget would also look more rosy — to the tune of $1.5 million — if San Francisco roads were simply less clogged, according to district documents.

For instance, letting Golden Gate Transit buses move faster would reduce operating costs.

Many Golden Gate Transit buses traverse Van Ness Avenue on their way from the Golden Gate Bridge to other parts of San Francisco, including the 30, 70, 101, 101x and 93 routes.

At Thursday’s meeting, bridge officials pointed at the Van Ness BRT project delay, recently revealed by the San Francisco Examiner, as a key source of traffic congestion.

“That is a major choke point,” said Joe Wire, the district’s auditor-controller.

Board Director Brian Sobel of Sonoma County asked when the Van Ness BRT project would finish, to which Golden Gate District General Manager Denis Mulligan answered, “I would anticipate a date [later] than what The City tells us.”

The San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency has said in public meetings that it’s exploring new options to speed up those delays, including night-time construction and extended work time for contractors.

When the project is complete, Golden Gate Transit buses will use the new transit-only lanes. “It will speed up our bus trips,” Mulligan said. “That’s significant.”

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