BRT Van Ness Design
The proposed design and Environmental Impact Report for San Francisco’s Van Ness Avenue Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) Project have been finalized, are poised for certification and approval in September, and the project could be up and running by early 2018 assuming final approvals and construction commences by late 2015 as currenlty slated.
The Van Ness Avenue BRT project would run approximately two miles from Mission Street to Lombard Street, converting two mixed-flow traffic lanes into dedicated bus lanes with new stations, transit signal priority along the route, and the elimination of all left turns along Van Ness Avenue except at Lombard (northbound) and Broadway (southbound).
The touted benefits of the BRT route include a 32 percent reduction in travel time, a 40 percent reduction in delays, and a 50 percent increase in reliability.
The Design And Details For Rapid Transit (BRT) Down Van Ness Avenue [SocketSite]
Van Ness Avenue Bus Rapid Transit Project Final Report [sfcta.org]

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Comments from “Plugged-In” Readers

  1. Posted by NoeValleyJim

    This gives lie to the claim that Muni never invests in any improvements. Let’s hope that the NIMBYs don’t slow this down; if it is as successful as I expect it to be, maybe we can get the BRT lanes on Geary off the ground.
    Where is the money coming from to build this?

  2. Posted by anon

    ^”NIMBYs don’t slow this down”?
    This was originally planned to be completed by now – NIMBYs have already successfully slowed the project by five years, and postponed the Geary project indefinitely.
    It does make the notion that we should invest in transit before increasing density absolutely insane. There’s a large enough batch of the current residents that want to kill any and every transit improvement project, so we need the additional density first just to get more residents that support transit expansion.

  3. Posted by Amen Corner

    Long overdue… the BRT system in Mexico City seems to work well and I see no reason why it can’t here.

  4. Posted by Wai Yip Tung

    Mexico City’s first BRT line “went from conception to service in three years”
    http://sf.streetsblog.org/2013/05/23/sf-officials-advocates-take-a-ride-on-brt-and-bike-share-in-mexico-city/
    I thought the supervisors have visited Mexico City to learn their way. This Van Ness BRT is taking like 10 years before it operates??

  5. Posted by formerly%whatever

    I make left turns on Turk and on Pine, seldom on Geary because the line is annoying. The BRT will funnel the turning traffic to mostly Franklin or make people go around the block like in 19th Ave.

  6. Posted by Leningrad

    2018! 5 years to stripe a street, change some signs, and pour a little concrete! What a great city; at least we can build a bridge in less than 25 years-almost.

  7. Posted by Joel V

    Almost 10 years to develop and construct a BRT line? Really?? I wonder how long a light-rail conversion would take..

  8. Posted by Moto mayhem

    Glad this is happening. This provides more reason not to approve the bike lane project on Polk as car traffic will be diverted there.

  9. Posted by Joe

    Ridiculous. I cant believe how long this is taking.
    10 years!!!!

  10. Posted by Jim

    NY managed to implement several faux-BRT lines in the last five years. All theirs was was just paint on the ground, bus-only lanes (though with sparse enforcement), off-board payment, signal priority for buses, and fancy livery wrap. Chicago just started planning their first, and will likely be finished before ours.
    @Motomayhem: Having VN BRT put in is much more of a reason to make Polk into more of a pedestrian and bike-friendly business corridor. This would discourage speedy car through-traffic and allow for those who actually live in and want to actually visit Polk to enjoy their time. This would also encourage more people to make Polk a destination once BRT is built.
    @Formerly: If residents of Franklin and Gough don’t want their streets to turn into a freeway any more than it is already, then they should petition the City to convert them into two-way streets.

  11. Posted by Zig

    I believe Mexico City had their BRT planned and implemented in about 24 months
    We totally suck

  12. Posted by Michael

    LA also just opened BRT lanes on Wilshire

  13. Posted by condoshopper

    this is going to suck; there is invariably someone double parking or trying to get into a parking spot on the right lane; or else waiting for right turns, leaving regular cars with only 1 real driving laen.

  14. Posted by condoshopper

    for the sake of safety they should also add a dedicated strip of lane between the driving lanes for the panhandlers that are always standing there.

  15. Posted by Crankypants

    San Diego’s Mid-City BRT is just starting construction now. It’ll take a year to construct, and it’ll run 10 miles through downtown to San Diego State.
    Why does it take SF two years to build two miles… and well over a decade to construct?
    And why is the city blowing $1.4 million on ‘art enhancement’ for this project? That’s $11 of art enhancement per *inch* of busway.

  16. Posted by FedUp

    So the SFMTA can “fast track” bike lanes for Masonic or Polk (until citizen outrage caused delays for Polk Gulch), but high speed transit lanes take years?
    The only thing the SFMTA does quickly and effectively is installing parking meters and writing parking citations.

  17. Posted by taco taco

    I really hope they’re kidding about painting the lanes red. Church street has lost all of it’s appeal to me because my focus is diverted from the streetscape and skyline to OMG what the hell is that big red road?

  18. Posted by sfresident

    “The touted benefits of the BRT route include a 32 percent reduction in travel time, a 40 percent reduction in delays, and a 50 percent increase in reliability.”
    I don’t think this will improve the bus system anywhere near the projected numbers. It WILL improve the bus service, but just not that much given Muni’s past record of terrible service. Also, I think it will certainly drive traffic to the adjoining streets and cause mass backups for vehicles on Van Ness. As always, the businesses on Van Ness will suffer because people will stop going to them (or less so than they already do).

  19. Posted by egg_cream_of_OCD

    Its going to turn that street and surrounding streets into even more of a cluster**** than they are now. What this city needs is subways. We have more money per square foot than any other city in the world except Manhattan (which is not a city, its a borough) and we need to spend that on things that have lasting value. Like a friggin’ subway under Van Ness and under Geary. All this other stuff is Kabuki.

  20. Posted by lol

    ^what he said^
    Higher density cannot be 100% absorbed by walking and cycling. There’s a big need for extra public transit while keeping a similar automobile flow as today.
    After all, VN is also known as the 101.
    This is a cycling enthusiast speaking, often feuding with futurist on transit.
    Another option would be to build a Big Dig for 101 traffic and have light rail on surface. I am sure car drivers AND car haters would to have love cars zooming through our city sight unseen. A tunnel might be the option. Let them breathe fumes.

  21. Posted by anon

    Wait, I’m confused. Everyone in the other thread told me that SF has no congestion and will never have congestion. Which is it?

  22. Posted by Spencer

    Put me in the Geary and van ness subway crowd. Save all the money on other projects (especially special interest bike crap) and put it towards making the future better. Stop wasting money and time on bandaid solutions. A subway will be heavily utilized and will make the whole city better for the majority of people

  23. Posted by The Milkshake of Despair

    “Save all the money on other projects (especially special interest bike crap) and put it towards making the future better.”
    I’ll bet if you took the cash spent on creating miles of cycling infrastructure and reallocated it to the Central Subway, the effect could be measured in tunnel inches.
    If you want to find a big pot of money to raid and put towards transit, check out how much Caltrans spends on freeway widening and interchange remodels.

  24. Posted by Jim

    I would much rather see subways under VN and Geary be built and operated by BART rather than by Muni. To see any of these or at least a Geary subway come to fruition, SF needs to stop voting for Ted Fang onto the BART board. He’s the only Republican that SF citizens blindly vote for, and he does nothing for the City.

  25. Posted by anon

    Of course we’re all in the Geary/Van Ness subway crowd, but the idea that we’re not getting those because of “bike crap” is hilarious.
    A Van Ness subway alone would be $5-7 billion+. A Geary subway would be well above $10 billion. A few million on bike lanes isn’t even a rounding error for these types of talks.
    The Bay Bridge span went from an initial cost of under $2 billion to a final cost of $6.3 billion. If the Central Subway is any guide, a Van Ness or Geary subway project would be managed even worse than the Bay Bridge span, meaning final costs in the tens of billions for each. But maybe there’s money around if we just kill those $2 million bike lane improvements, right?

  26. Posted by Guest666

    Not to introduce what some would consider an unrelated topic, but Prop 13 really hurts the idea of putting in subways. For example, if a Geary subway was built, I think it could be argued that the surrounding neighborhoods would become MUCH more valuable, thereby incurring an increased valuation.

  27. Posted by Rillion

    The only way we would know if the subway increased valuations would be from increased sale prices of the houses out there, which would result in increased tax revenue every time one of them sold and if prices were rising it might lead to more people trading up. Also it would likely lead to a lot of new construction, particularly if planning were to taller buildings along Geary, which would again result in increased tax revenue. Would it be as much if the assessor could just come in and up everyone assessed value? No, but there would be some increase in tax revenue to the city.

  28. Posted by anon

    Would it be as much if the assessor could just come in and up everyone assessed value?
    All of the things that you mentioned would happen faster if this could happen though, because it would force out people who weren’t using the building for its highest use – one story buildings would get redeveloped faster, vacant buildings would be filled faster, longtime owners who don’t want to pay increased property taxes would cash out and move to someplace cheaper with their suitcases of cash, etc.
    Win – win – win – win.

  29. Posted by Justin

    Has anybody read the latest on this?!! 5 years of estimated construction during which time up to FOUR traffic lanes will be out of service. This new estimate was obtained by some group called “coalition for adequate review” Five years? You would think this was another Bay Bridge. It looks like the lawyers are going to delay this.

  30. Posted by NoeValleyJim

    This is Rob Anderson’s nutty group. The only way it will take five years is if he ties it up in court that long.

  31. Posted by Justin

    Thanks @NoeValleyJim, I am not aware of the group, but the names on the flyers given out in Polk Gulch did not list Rob Anderson, but would not be surprised by his participation. It sounds like his type of issue.
    One thing I was sorry to see from reading the flyer is that they will be removing and not restoring or replacing the old street lamps on Van Ness. Those lights, along with their original ornamentation are almost 100 years old and are a great example of old urban “furniture” that make San Francisco a unique city.
    BTW- not sure if this is true, but the pamphlets being handed out on Polk claim that bus trips along the 2 mile journey up Van Ness will only be 2 minutes faster than now, and part of this increase in travel time is because they will be reducing the number of stops in the new plan to 65% of how many stops are on Van Ness now. The pamphlet also claims that tour and private bus traffic will not be able to use the bus lanes, which strikes me as curious.
    I imagine the organizing group will be out on Polk Street this weekend as well.

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