December 9, 2013

Plans For Rapid Transit Down Geary Boulevard Are Rolling Again

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With the development of Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) having been approved for Van Ness Avenue, the Transportation Authority's recommended plan for a Geary BRT line from Downtown San Francisco to the Outer Richmond will be presented to the public this evening at 6pm in the Richmond Recreation Center (251 18th Ave) and at 5:30pm on December 17 in the Main Library (100 Larkin).

The projected cost for Geary BRT is around $200 million with design and engineering currently slated to take until 2017 and construction a couple of years. The feasibility study for a Geary Corridor Bus Rapid Transit line was first adopted by the Transportation Authority Board in 2007.

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First Published: December 9, 2013 11:45 AM

Comments from "Plugged In" Readers

So the construction and design process is also being run by Muni?

Posted by: Adam at December 9, 2013 11:59 AM

Design and engineering until 2017. WTF?

Posted by: Ivan at December 9, 2013 12:01 PM

12 years to implement a "quick" plan to paint traffic lanes, alter the timing of stoplights, build new bus shelters, and make minor streetscape improvements?

And that's assuming they meet the 2019 estimate.

How can such a prosperous city have such a dysfunctional transit system?

Posted by: Tim Bracken at December 9, 2013 12:04 PM

It's all -- all of city government and all construction and contracting -- all of it is a handout to connected interests within the city. Do they need 5 years to "study" the issue? Of course not, a child with a crayon and paper could do it in a week.

But if they did that, then how would they justify billing the city for 20,000 hours of labor for "design review" (plus overhead)?

Posted by: Jimmy (not a Real San Franciscan (TM)) at December 9, 2013 12:13 PM

@Tim: I know, I know. I gave up years ago on SF offering us decent mass transit. Heck, two out of three times when I take the train one (or more) of the doors is broken. But who cares since the agency is spending $2B on the Central Subway which is such a wise investment. Not.

Plain and simple...Geary should have had BART years ago.

Posted by: Mark at December 9, 2013 12:14 PM

Goodbye Geary commercial districts, welcome the mid-market scenario. Only a 30 to 40 wait until some future twitter will save the boulevard.

Then when all the businesses fail, the ssers can demand hi rise 200 sf studio towers with "limited kitchen facilities" (none!)

hee hee goodbye SF

Posted by: contrarian at December 9, 2013 12:22 PM

Yup, contrarian. Nothing should be changed, ever, under any circumstances.

Posted by: outtahere at December 9, 2013 12:27 PM

... ditto all the above complaints - I don't even think of this as 'rapid transit', it's taking away a lane of traffic to dedicate to buses. (Which will do *nothing* to aleviate the major E-W bottleneck, which occurs east of Van Ness, and particularly as buses get into the Tenderloin and Union Square...*that's* where a subway would really shine and expedite travel.)

And from the illustration, looks like even more sidewalk space will be taken up with bus shelters - how does the sidewalk-widening ped-friendly SFMTA get over that bit of cognitive dissonance?!

Posted by: Sierrajeff at December 9, 2013 12:28 PM

Didn't they build successful BRT in Mexico City in like 18 months from conception?

LOL

Posted by: zig at December 9, 2013 12:39 PM

The nail in the coffin for any underground transit option down Geary is in the design of the Union Square CS station which provides absolutely no provision for a future platform. It's painfully clear that the MTA has no desire to put a real transit line down Geary (or Van Ness) for that matter. BRT, while worthwhile in other cases, is just a Band-Aid approach in these corridors.

Posted by: Mark at December 9, 2013 12:49 PM

Mark

Does the design preclude a BRT tunnel east of Van Ness? The idea of buses continuing east of VN on the surface is ludicrous.

I don't think having surface rail or BRT in the mid and outer Richmond is and this could successfully be coupled with a subway portion IMO.

There really should be upzoning for mid-rises from Van Ness to somewhere between Fillmore and Masonic. What is there now in many cases is way under-built. Around Cathedral Hill there is already residential mid-rises.

I can't think of a better central part of SF that could realistically accommodate this kind of housing yet still (maybe) stay within range of middle income households.

All the above is predicated on having underground mass transit access but there is just no vision here

Posted by: zig at December 9, 2013 1:03 PM

To the point above why is SF not looking into some sort of value capture with upzoning coupled with transit improvements? I understand this has been done in DC

Seems like a slam dunk mechanism and something the majority of the city would support.

Posted by: Zig at December 9, 2013 1:06 PM

As it stands according to the MTA CS site, the Union Square station has no BRT or light rail tunnel/platform in its design. I'm not saying it can't be built in the future, but it's clear from the MTA perspective that the agency isn't seriously considering it...same for extending the CS past Chinatown to North Beach and points north and possibly west.

Geary could certainly use some upzoning in selected areas, especially around transit stations, if a subway was ever built. This corridor is locked in a 50s, suburban trance of mostly one- and two-story buildings creating one long strip mall. Take a cue from Arlington, VA and the Rosslyn-Ballston corridor...see how successful the county was redeveloping this area.

Posted by: Mark at December 9, 2013 1:15 PM

Red... everywhere. God those lanes are hideous and distracting from whatever beauty was there.

Posted by: taco at December 9, 2013 1:22 PM

We NEED underground train, not a bus system. And the process for this is so slow it's LAUGHABLE. Look at the one for Van Ness! 2019 for a BUS LANE. They're building the tallest building on the west coast in less time. This process needs to be transparent, scrutinized, and sped up. Also- people complaining that mass transit will "kill SF"- why can you not accept that growth is inevitable if you want your city to survive? Why not "hello new san francisco"?

Posted by: seriously at December 9, 2013 1:53 PM

Church St. has the red lanes too, but they are not enforced. That's the whole problem with this BRT crap, especially east of Van Ness. Bus-only lanes are almost always violated by other traffic, either intentionally or to avoid double-parked cars or other obstacles.

Posted by: Mark at December 9, 2013 1:56 PM

You guys are a bunch of haters! Why all the hate for big government? You should be happy that we are building the infrastructure that keeps us #1!

But seriously, the Richmond is the most dense/populous hood in SF after the core northeastern quadrant. Muni will take nearly a decade and spend AT LEAST $200 million for BRT. In other words, to make the bus go an average speed of 10 to 15 mph vs. the current average of like 8-10 mph. Wow. World class city indeed.

And contrarian, what you and the Geary merchants cartel fail to realize is that it's a nightmare getting out there. Having a valid form of transit (like a subway, perhaps?) would bring MORE people to the area, not less. Some of my favorite restaurants in the city are out there, as is (obviously) the park, museums, beach, etc. But riding the bus takes 30-60 minutes one way. Driving is faster, but there's nowhere to park because everyone that lives in the Richmond fills their garages with crap they haven't used in 20 years and parks their car in the street. IMO a subway would be boon to the Geary commercial districts. Not that there's any real chance of it ever getting built.

Posted by: Legacy Dude at December 9, 2013 1:59 PM

They need to eliminate about 1/2 the stops of the 38 local and 1/3 the stops of the limited, that would help speed the thing up.

Posted by: Rillion at December 9, 2013 2:17 PM

I'm not seeing overhead wires in these renderings-- I thought the BRT was supposed to be electric.

Posted by: Alai at December 9, 2013 2:39 PM

What a phenomenal waste of money.

Looks like we can do something right...

Posted by: BobN at December 9, 2013 3:03 PM

LOL. I'll believe when I see it.

SF is way behind the curve when it comes to transit---we should be talking a modern streetcar system all over this town. We constantly play catch-up and then are willing to sink a billion into the Central Subway the dead ends short of a full cross-town line. We can't implement the simplest of systems, a BRT for Geary and Van Ness.
SFMTA has lost my confidence.

Posted by: SFOrange at December 9, 2013 3:11 PM

Just build a couple bart stations out there, a few in the sunset would be nice too. Bus lanes, lol what a joke.

Posted by: anun at December 9, 2013 3:26 PM

The top picture, with a separated BRT lane in the median, has some value (though it shouldn't take a decade to implement...) The second picture of the right-hand transit lane is a joke. SFPD doesn't "believe in" traffic enforcement and doesn't do any except when prodded, and people will just ignore those red lanes and drive in them, just as they do already in other places.

Meanwhile we throw away billions on the central subway, a worthless, inadequate endeavor that will bankrupt Muni and which will not even solve the problem it purports to solve today, let alone tomorrow.

Posted by: Dubocian at December 9, 2013 4:09 PM

Rillion - spot on, I can't believe the frequency of stops on Geary. I know the little old ladies don't like to walk far, but c'mon!

Legacy - spot on too. He's right, contrarian; I deliberately avoid going out through the Richmond, notwithstanding some great shops out there (particularly the Clement area), because it's such a hassle. If I could take a subway from the FiDi, I'd be out there (spending money) much more often. Couldn't believe it when I moved here years ago and was told the Geary merchants were *opposed* to a Geary subway. What kind of business opposes additional ways for customers to get to your stores?!

Mark, zig - who needs the Union Square interface, work around it! My dream is a 2nd BART tube from OAK through Alameda, crossing south of the Bay Bridge and interfacing with the Transbay Terminal, then continuing *WNW* to intersect at Mont'y BART and with a stop around Stockton & Bush (serves Chinatown *and* Union Square), continuing down Bush to St. Francis Memorial, before curving back to align with Geary west of Van Ness. I guy can dream...

And yes, not running the CS to Washington Square (where the tunnel already will go!) and then further down Columbus is outright insanity.

Posted by: Sierrajeff at December 9, 2013 4:19 PM

oh, and "seriously" - transparency and scrutiny cause these projects to go slowly, they don't speed them up. To be clear I'm not calling for graft and glad-handing! But the need to hold open hearing after open hearing (where everyone gets a say, "thank you crazy cat lady for your concerns about electromagnetic radiation from the BART power rail, we'll take that under advisement, next!"), and the need to 2nd- and 3rd-guess every contract and permit and environmental report, simply gums up the process.

The original subway lines in NYC or London weren't built on consensus or neighborhood charettes; they were top-down decisions imposed on often unwilling residents... for which today we're all very grateful! The Haussmann approach may not be pretty and democratic, but it gets the job done (and the world-class city built).

Posted by: Sierrajeff at December 9, 2013 4:28 PM

If we had leaders of intellect and vision and courage, then they might and probably should take the Haussman approach. I have no disagreement with that but the "leaders" would never be reelected. The committee type short range procedures which are carving SF to shreds is painful to see and one which I will be avoiding soon.

Posted by: contrarian at December 9, 2013 5:04 PM

"Driving is faster, but there's nowhere to park because everyone that lives in the Richmond fills their garages with crap they haven't used in 20 years and parks their car in the street."^H^H^H^H^H^H^H^H^H^H^H^H^H^H on the sidewalk."

There, fixed it

Posted by: EJ at December 9, 2013 5:31 PM

agree with the others that are city planners are clearly not a bright group of people.

Save the money for a subway. anything else is unacceptable. Why waste so much money and time on somehting that wouldn't have been acceptable 20 yrs ago in any other 1st class city.

Crap like this is why SF is not going to be an A, world class, or 1st class city, whatever you call it. The world class business are here, world class academic institutions are here, world class weather, world class views and beauty, world class sports, but unfortunately we have 3rd world government.

Posted by: moto mayhem at December 9, 2013 6:55 PM

@Sierrajeff: I could not agree more about having BART run under Geary (and then south down 19th Ave to Daly City).

First, BART acts more like a commuter rail system and a good chunk of the city west of TP is suburban in many respects (take that for what it's worth). MUNI light rail lines can act as feeders to the new BART line.

Second, even if Caltrain were extended to downtown it's really counterproductive to spend 45+ min going from the western part of SF to Caltrain just to hop on another train to head back south. A BART line, as proposed in my first point, would make for a better Caltrain connection. Instead of taking the L from 28th/Taraval to 4th/King (including a connection) or even to downtown, I can walk to a BART station at Taraval/19th Ave, take it to Millbrae and connect to Caltrain there.

I may have rambled a bit, but you get my point.

Posted by: Mark at December 9, 2013 7:03 PM

As an old school unix geek, your ^H made me chuckle out loud. Thanks.

Posted by: outtahere at December 9, 2013 7:13 PM

@Sierrajeff: I could not agree more about having BART run under Geary (and then south down 19th Ave to Daly City).

First, BART acts more like a commuter rail system and a good chunk of the city west of TP is suburban in many respects (take that for what it's worth). MUNI light rail lines can act as feeders to the new BART line.

Second, even if Caltrain were extended to downtown it's really counterproductive to spend 45+ min going from the western part of SF to Caltrain just to hop on another train to head back south. A BART line, as proposed in my first point, would make for a better Caltrain connection. Instead of taking the L from 28th/Taraval to 4th/King (including a connection) or even to downtown, I can walk to a BART station at Taraval/19th Ave, take it to Millbrae and connect to Caltrain there.

I may have rambled a bit, but you get my point.

Posted by: Mark at December 9, 2013 7:13 PM

Moto -- check your premises. You may have great expectations for the area YOU live in, but there are many of us\e who chose to live in the Bay Area, and NOT one of the worlds great cities e.g. NY Paris London

Your dreams are unobtainable and since you aren't going to give up your illusions, I will leave.

Posted by: contrarian at December 9, 2013 7:19 PM

What I want to know is how long has this project been delayed and how much money has been spent placating the objections of David Heller?

SF will never get out from under its mediocrity complex while it continues to let single people oppose citywide improvement.

Posted by: Joe at December 9, 2013 8:04 PM

San Francisco does not have the $10B that BART to the sea would cost here. It is as simple as that. Plus, given the way that BART is organized, with most of the tax money and votes coming from the suburbs, it is very unlikely that BART would build it anyway.

The original BART plan included a subway under Geary and then a line across the Golden Gate bridge with the train slung underneath, but Marin County voters voted to stay out of the BART District. They did not want to pay the half cent sales tax, or have people riding transit into their leafy suburbs.

Muni has wanted to build a subway here a number of times, but the local merchants always shoot it down. They have delayed even this modest project many years. The Muni project would also cost many billions, I read $6B in a SPUR proposal years ago.

This will cost much less, on the order of $100M. If you want a world class transit system, you have to be willing to pay for it. I would be happy to see my taxes raised for this, how about you? Mayor Lee's proposal to double the Vehicle Licensing Fee isn't polling too well.

Posted by: NoeValleyJim at December 9, 2013 9:41 PM

BART to nowhere?

No thanks.

Posted by: Jimmy (not a Real San Franciscan (TM)) at December 9, 2013 9:54 PM

Ok, the nonsense about Marin not wanting BART continues to come up. Here's the real story:

Maps were drawn for BART in Marin showing stations in Sausalito, Mill Valley, Corte Madera and Santa Venetia, with a possible extension to Ignacio. A 1956 poll found 87.7 percent of Marin residents wanted BART in the county.

A 1955 study by the San Francisco Bay Area Rapid Transit Commission found that the Golden Gate Bridge was capable of handling BART trains on a lower deck, and a second study in 1961 affirmed the conclusion.

But some bridge officials worried the sleek new transit system could cut into its toll revenue. Bridge officials hired an engineer who concluded BART on the span would not work, saying the added weight would stress cables and cause the span to sag.

BART in Marin took another hit when San Mateo County pulled out of the plan, saying costs were too high. With San Mateo out, the tax base to support the BART plan was significantly weakened. Marin's small population would not provide much tax base to support the project with San Mateo County no longer in the plan. (San Mateo eventually bought into the BART system, but is not officially part of the district.)

BART directors then asked the Marin County Board of Supervisors to vote the county out of the system.

"There is one significant difference — (San Mateo) withdrew voluntarily," Supervisor Peter Behr said at the time Marin withdrew in May 1962. "We are withdrawing involuntarily and upon request."

After that vote, Marin tried to get back in before the November 1962 election, but BART officials rejected the idea and the county was locked out of the system. In 1990, a BART extension to Marin was estimated to cost $3 billion.

http://www.marinij.com/sausalito/ci_23595749/impact-bart-strike-eases-marin-look-at-what

Posted by: anon at December 9, 2013 10:17 PM

Thanks for the history lesson anon.

Posted by: NoeValleyJim at December 9, 2013 10:55 PM

BRT is nice, but I would much rather have BART.

I know that extra "A" costs about $6B, but if the Federal government kicks in a little, I'd be willing to pay my fair share of about $400 per year for the next 10 years. Who's with me?

Posted by: anon2 at December 9, 2013 11:28 PM

I am the first environmental consultant in line for BART down Geary.

Anon 2, send me your $4,000 and I will send you the preliminary report that it will generate $5 Billion of economic benefit!. No that was the Americas Cup -- No that is HSR

thank you from the unicorn farm

Posted by: contarian at December 10, 2013 8:53 AM

I am, anon2. $10B is a huge sum. But so is the amount our government spends on a half-dozen other frivolities and special interest needs.

And the fact is interest rates are so low right now it's almost criminal not to be building infrastructure left and right - the bonds can be paid off years down the road at virtually the same amount as today's cost.

Posted by: Sierrajeff at December 10, 2013 8:57 AM

@anon2 - if the extra A would only cost $6 billion, then we'd be building it already. Try something more like $20 billion, maybe $30 billion.

Part of that is because we can't simply build a spur line off of the Market Street subway out to Geary - it just wouldn't work operationally. So it would have to be a new line that has pedestrian connections to the Market St line and then maybe runs out Geary and down 19th Ave to Daly City. That's a $20 billion+ line easy, and I'd add another $10 billion for payoffs that residents and merchants along the line would want for who knows what.

Posted by: anon at December 10, 2013 8:59 AM

I'd pay additional 1% sales tax for Geary Bart to let's say park presidio. Does have to go all the way. Even Masonic or arguello would be a huge win

Posted by: Spencer at December 10, 2013 9:18 AM

Why go down 19th? They have njudah. The Geary line itself would be a huge win. The Geary corridor is under built and could be a grand boulevard

Posted by: Spencer at December 10, 2013 9:22 AM

^You have to connect to the existing system somewhere, and you can't merge into the Market St line (not nearly enough capacity to allow merging trains). I guess that you could build an entirely new line, but then you'd need a maintenance facility, etc somewhere in SF.

Posted by: anon at December 10, 2013 9:56 AM

Run a new line down folsom or howard that starts at the transbay terminal, crosses market under (and has a ped transfer) Van Ness runs up Van Ness then turns and heads down Geary.

Posted by: Rillion at December 10, 2013 10:24 AM

@Spencer: read my earlier post carefully and you will understand why BART down 19th Ave to Daly City is necessary. To your point, the N Judah is a crosstown line and has no impact on 19th Ave other than a transfer point, like the L on Taraval or the M at Stonestown/SFSU. Also, the 28 line has one of the worst on-time performance records of all MUNI lines because of the traffic mess known as 19th Ave.

Posted by: Mark at December 10, 2013 10:38 AM

@Rillion - that's fine, but it still needs to connect up with an existing line OR a new maintenance facility would have to be built somewhere in SF (maybe replace the Masonic bus yard? Buses on top, trains below? Either way, holy expensive).

Posted by: anon at December 10, 2013 10:43 AM

"Why go down 19th? They have njudah." -Spencer

What alternate universe do you live in ? The N Judah does not go down 19th avenue, or even in the same direction as it.

Anyways, I agree that this is a very half-assed "improvement", and that a subway would be much better. But we don't have the money, and like many SF and other Bay Area residents, a lot of Geary merchants have a suburban mindset in that they think cars are the most important and useful form of transit, and will fight any proposed subway. If I remember right, one of the complaints/theories of many Geary merchants is that construction of a subway would take cars off the street, meaning fewer people would see their businesses while driving by, resulting in less business. Nevermind the fact that a subway would greatly increase access to Geary and its businesses. And Geary would still be packed with cars anyways.

As for BART building a new subway down Geary or anywhere else in SF, like 19th avenue...Maybe it'll happen someday, but it doesn't seem like it'll be anytime soon. BART actually is thinking about it though, with conceptual plans that if fully realized would include a second transbay tube, a subway through SOMA that links with a subway up Van Ness to the marina and presidio, a subway that goes all the way down Geary to the beach (and which may include a transbay terminal stop), and another subway that goes along 19th from Daly City to Geary. It also includes additional east bay lines. Just imagine if all that were built...

Posted by: cfb at December 10, 2013 10:47 AM

BART Geary line is not happening in the next 50 years

I personally think BRT is quite suitable for Geary which is a wide street if they do it right

My issue is not having a subway tunnel east of Van Ness. It is impossible to enforce the bus only lanes unless you got rid of parking.

Posted by: zig at December 10, 2013 10:52 AM

"As for BART building a new subway down Geary or anywhere else in SF, like 19th avenue...Maybe it'll happen someday, but it doesn't seem like it'll be anytime soon. BART actually is thinking about it though, with conceptual plans that if fully realized would include a second transbay tube, a subway through SOMA that links with a subway up Van Ness to the marina and presidio, a subway that goes all the way down Geary to the beach (and which may include a transbay terminal stop), and another subway that goes along 19th from Daly City to Geary. It also includes additional east bay lines. Just imagine if all that were built..."

Well, if this happened, we could at least say we are caught up to the 1980s with other cities. Right now, we are stuck in 1920s. no subways and people riding bikes and horses

Posted by: moto mayhem at December 10, 2013 12:06 PM

So the question is - What can we do to promote these good ideas? How do we make them happen? How to we convince the powers that be, the tax-paying citizens, and the media that these ideas should be implemented?

L.A. (and many other cities) demonstrate what can be done in just 15 or 20 years with sufficient government commitment and financial commitment. There's no reason (given sufficient government and financial commitment) we couldn't have all the proposed BART lines within 20 years - after all, the S.F. additions cover a much smaller area than what L.A.'s built in a similar timeframe.

So what do we do? Do we join SPUR and SFTRU and call it a day? Are there other groups we can join - or can we form a group? Are there people already lobbying officials for these ideas who would welcome warm bodies and/or financial support?

It's maddeningly frustrating to think that even under the best-case scenario, I probably won't see BART or Muni down Geary in my lifetime... That's simply outrageous.

Posted by: Sierrajeff at December 10, 2013 12:47 PM

I get that the cost to build a subway system is insanely expensive. That's a no brainer. However, to bemoan the cost versus the immediate and future benefits a system would produce is more insane. We're not discussing a "fantasy" transit system where price tags don't exist. We're trying to deal with the present and prepare for the future. BRT is not the solution here.

Posted by: Mark at December 10, 2013 2:31 PM

I think a reasonable approach for funding would be a Mello-Roos property tax district, which could then be used to finance a bond. Perhaps all properties within 1 mile of the new BART line would be taxed $100 a year for 30 years. That would probably generate enough revenue for a bond in the billions, which would provide a significant amount of funding for a new Geary subway, and those most likely to benefit from the line paying a decent fraction of it's construction.

With that amount of funding from local sources it shouldn't be too hard to secure federal, and possibly state funding, for the expansion. Perhaps even the BART counties would support it since it would get them to Golden Gate park, and the museums there.

It would most likely be a fight, with all the NIMBYs and the merchant groups, but maybe it's doable...

Posted by: lyqwyd at December 10, 2013 2:34 PM

Wow it's a Unicorn stampede

Let me out of the way

Posted by: contrarian at December 10, 2013 3:20 PM

@Mark -- as long as the proportional part of the Mello-Roos tax can be passed through to ALL tenants.

Posted by: MorganDriver at December 10, 2013 3:51 PM

@MorganDriver

I assume you meant that comment for me, as I mentioned Mello-Roos.

I have no problem with that, and I certainly think it's a reasonable position, although I personally don't find it to be necessary element.

As a followup, my suggestion is probably off by an order of magnitude, it would probably be around $1,000 annual per unit tax to get a bond over a billion dollars via Mello-Roos, assuming about 10% of SF properties are in the district.

Probably too high a number to have any chance of passing as a Mello-Roos district. The $100 dollar level would probably have to be a city wide property tax to have any real impact on a subway scale budget.

Oh well...

Posted by: lyqwyd at December 10, 2013 4:20 PM

"L.A. (and many other cities) demonstrate what can be done in just 15 or 20 years with sufficient government commitment and financial commitment. There's no reason (given sufficient government and financial commitment) we couldn't have all the proposed BART lines within 20 years - after all, the S.F. additions cover a much smaller area than what L.A.'s built in a similar timeframe"

AGREED! And don't forget, the already under construction changes to the Los Angeles version of our Transbay Terminal (Union Station) are already under way with more interconnecting subway, metrolink and rail lines than even the most optimistic plans for Transbay ever called for. Their regional terminal will truly be a crossroads for all of their various rail transit lines. (It already has two or three operating subway lines and numerous other rail lines)

I predict L.A. and San Diego will have their portion of HSR operating long before any connection to the Bay Area is even under construction.

Posted by: Agreed! at December 10, 2013 4:38 PM

^^^please keep in mind that San Francisco is a small provincial city of 800K people in a Balkanized Bay Area. The way BART is structured doesn't really support a subway system in SF as people outside don't want to pay for a subway on Geary.

Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority serves the entire LA county, is a regional transportation planning agency (RTPA) and serves 10 million people

Not even in the same discussion really and LA is evolving

Posted by: Zig at December 10, 2013 5:00 PM

While I certainly cheer LA's progress on transit, we have yet to see real progress on the purple line. I'm hopeful, but I would not be surprised at all to see the cost on that thing balloon by 3x or more. Light rail is one thing, but a bored heavy rail tunnel 10+ miles long. Wow, scary, in terms of potential cost overruns in California.

Posted by: anon at December 10, 2013 5:04 PM


About the Central Subway station. The tube is under-running the Market Street subway, which means that it is about four stories down at the rail head (one story for the mezzanine, one for Muni, one for BART and one for the crossing CS.

Obviously the mezzanine will be at the same level as Powell but then there will have to be cris-crossing escalators and accessible elevators down to the platform of the CS. If those escalators can be built to stay out of the way of future tubes for a Geary Subway -- and that should certain be a priority, the the Geary line can be fit in between the mezzanine extension and the CS tubes.

Posted by: Anandakos at December 10, 2013 11:24 PM

"please keep in mind that San Francisco is a small provincial city of 800K people in a Balkanized Bay Area." -zig

Not really. SF is one of the largest and busiest cities in America, is certainly very international when it comes to demographics and business connections, and is also quite important economically, despite being Balkanized in terms of municipal boundaries. This applies to both SF city proper and the Bay Area as a whole. I'm not sure why you think SF qualifies as nothing more than a "small provincial city". SF deserves an expanded subway system, and can certainly support it.

By the way, city-proper population stats are basically meaningless when measuring a city's size. You should be looking at metropolitan area population numbers. SF city-proper does not exist in a vacuum, separate from the rest of the metro area.

Posted by: cfb at December 11, 2013 12:40 AM

I assume all of you were at the MTA meeting and the community meetings for Geary rapid transit?

The biggest problem I've seen is that transit supporters don't show up to meetings and parking/car supporters who don't want to have anything get modified that affects private automobile usage do show up. This influences our local politicians and fools them into thinking transit doesn't have the support of our residents.

If this balance shifted, these projects would move MUCH faster and be decidedly more comprehensive.

Posted by: rickbynight at December 11, 2013 2:35 AM

CFB

I am looking at city limit boundaries because it is extremely relevant to the issue which is SF is unable to build a real subway and there is repeated misinvestment in the region because it is Balkanized and SF is still stuctured like provincial MEDIUM sized city.

In other ways you can argue SF in a metro sense is alpha but even in MSA the census considers us two areas with San Jose being 45 miles away or whatever

Posted by: Zig at December 11, 2013 8:06 AM

zig - yes the Bay Area transit systems are Balkanized - the point is, what do we do about it. Do we shrug & throw up our hands and say "oh well, we can't get things done here because of Balkanization"? Or do we work to make things better - whether that means getting the variouis transit fiefdoms to work together, or getting the state legislature to create some larger, empowered entity like the PANY/NJ in New York, or the MBTA in Boston?

rickbynight - good comment - what's the best way to learn about all these meetings? Is there a "one stop shop" (a website, a group like SPUR) that can help get the word out about meetings and feedback events?

Posted by: Sierrajeff at December 11, 2013 8:07 AM

So I did go to the first dozen or so Geary BRT meetings. The issue is that there are SO MANY of them. I've got a job, a family, etc. Even if I wanted to, I simply can't spend five hours a week in perpetuity going to transit meetings. This is why I elect a supervisor - to make these decisions for me.

That's the real problem. We've decided that "transparency" and "community involvement" is more important than actual governance. There just aren't that many people that have the time to go to endless meetings.

I still do send at least a monthly email to my supervisor with issues, concerns, and my opinions. They do get read by someone - or at least I nearly always get a personalized reply from someone on his staff. I'd suggest others do the same - and ALSO vote no on any proposition that creates more "civic involvement" or further chips away at our representative government.

Posted by: anon at December 11, 2013 8:18 AM

Agree with you anon - "transparency" is half the reason for the egregious delays and cost escalations that hits every infrastructure project. And these meetings are to the design process what primaries are to electing politicians - the only particpants are those with the most extreme views, with the central silent majority going unheard and unreflected.

Posted by: Sierrajeff at December 11, 2013 10:49 AM

The central subway is a joke, I agree. A subway under Geary is feasible, reasonable and, unfortunately, probably a pipe dream because of poor planning, funding and lack of leadership from city hall and Muni. Ditto the Transbay Terminal. The most expensive bus station in the world.

Posted by: james jr at December 11, 2013 11:43 AM

Consider we live in a region that has the worst light-rail system in the world

VTA Light Rail/62 stations:

"The system's average weekday daily ridership as of Q1 2013 is 33,600 passengers,[2] having peaked at 37,536 in August 2008.[5]"

Yet we have 50K+ people riding slow buses in the Geary Corridor alone

Now we are planning BART to downtown San Jose, a place nobody is going

So yeh, we aren't doing it right and we are bush league when it comes to transit planning. I meant above to call this malinvestment and we do it over and over again

Posted by: zig at December 11, 2013 4:21 PM

still this will not help the traffic.

red lanes will distract drivers.

Run a tunnel underground. This will free up spaces that buses are using.

Posted by: Mike D at February 10, 2014 11:47 PM

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