GEARY CORRIDOR BUS RAPID TRANSIT | ABOUT

Better service graphic

Whether driving, taking transit or walking along Geary, current conditions are deteriorating and in need of improvement to support increasing travel demands and sustainable growth in San Francisco.

The Geary Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) project is a cost-effective solution to improve bus travel time and on-time performance on the busiest line in the city, increase safety and access, and enhance neighborhood livability and vitality from the Outer Richmond to Downtown.

BRT improves transit conditions by providing buses with their own lane, meaning vehicle traffic will not delay the bus. Other improvements, some of which are already underway, include transit-optimized traffic signals, increased bus frequencies, new low-floor vehicles, and high-quality station platforms.

The current plan for Geary BRT (known as the Staff Recommended Alternative) would reduce bus travel times in 2020 up to 24%, increase on-time service by 20% and lead to a 10%–20% ridership increase. BRT provides these improvements at a fraction of the cost and construction time as rail. The project will also resurface traffic lanes and includes pedestrian safety and streetscape enhancements in neighborhoods and commercial districts along the corridor.

QUICK FACTS about geary brt

For transit riders, Geary BRT means a quicker and smoother ride on Muni, with buses arriving more frequently and on-time more often.

For motorists, Geary BRT means fresh pavement, new traffic lights, fewer buses in mixed traffic, and safety features including more dedicated left turn signals.

For pedestrians, Geary BRT means greater safety and a more pleasant walking environment, with shorter crossing distances, better waiting areas and more time to cross the street.

Do you bike? Although Geary is not a designated bike route, there would be improved connections for bicyclists, across the corridor.

For residents and businesses along the Geary corridor, BRT will bring enhanced local and regional access. Data from similar projects elsewhere have shown that a well-managed transit corridor helps to support and build a vibrant local economy because it provides a convenient and accessible way for customers to travel to neighborhood businesses.

What is bus rapid transit?

Used around the world, bus rapid transit (BRT) is a quick and relatively inexpensive way to speed up buses and make service more reliable and comfortable. BRT systems typically include:

  • Giving the bus its own traffic lane so it can run faster with fewer impediments;
  • Giving the bus priority at traffic signals so it spends less time stopped at red lights;
  • Providing real-time information to riders so they know when the next bus is coming;
  • Building high-quality and well-lit bus stations to improve safety and comfort; and
  • Providing streetscape improvements and amenities to make the street safer and more comfortable for pedestrians and bicyclists accessing the transit stations.

What is proposed with Bus Rapid Transit along Geary?

The Geary Corridor Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) Project is a cost-effective way for the city to greatly improve bus travel time and on-time performance, increase safety and access, and enhance neighborhood livability and vitality along this key corridor connecting communities from the Outer Richmond to Downtown. Through an extensive outreach process, the project team developed a staff-recommended alternative incorporating the unique needs of neighborhoods along the corridor. The staff recommendation is a proposal for BRT from Market Street to 34th Avenue, including center-running bus-only lanes in the Richmond and side-running bus-only lanes in the rest of the corridor.

For the proposed Geary BRT service, the staff recommended alternative would still include local service along the corridor, while the 38-Rapid would become the limited-stop BRT service. Some stops would be consolidated or relocated based on the current ridership patterns on the corridor and to provide additional travel time and reliability improvements on both the BRT service and the 38-Local.

What are the benefits of the Geary BRT staff-recommended alternative?

The Staff-Recommended Alternative would reduce bus travel times up to 24% where BRT improvements are implemented.

The recommended alternative also includes the following benefits to the corridor:

  • A 20% increase in on-time bus service
  • Additional service to accommodate an expected 10%-20% ridership increase
  • Sidewalk bulb-outs to reduce crossing distances at key locations
  • Road diet between Gough and Divisadero, reducing the street from four lanes in each direction to two traffic lanes plus a bus lane to calm traffic and reduce pedestrian crossing distances
  • New crosswalks at Broderick, Steiner, Webster, and Buchanan Streets with median refuges
  • Countdown signals and accessible pedestrian signals at all intersections where they are missing
  • New traffic signals at currently unsignalized intersections (e.g. 22nd and 26th Avenues)

Pedestrian safety upgrades would be installed at numerous intersections throughout the corridor. Locations for improvements were selected to correct existing deficiencies (e.g. lack of a pedestrian signal), to provide safe access to transit stops, and to address intersections that have histories of collisions involving pedestrians.

OUTREACH

Public Input

The project team has engaged in a multiyear effort to collect public input for the project. The team has participated in over 200 community conversations to date, including town halls and community workshops, hearings with public officials, and meetings with community stakeholder groups from across the corridor. 

Geary BRT Citizens Advisory Committee (GCAC)

The Geary BRT Citizens Advisory Committee (GCAC) typically meets every two to three months to advise the SFCTA. The GCAC consists of thirteen members, representing corridor and at-large interests. It provides input on refining BRT alternatives, considers project benefits and impacts for all users of the corridor, develops mitigation strategies, and has helped to identify a preferred project alternative.

See our Geary BRT Citizens Advisory Committee page for details, information on upcoming meetings, and past Committee meeting materials.

What we heard. What we did.

SFCTA and SFMTA are committed to continuing public engagement throughout the full duration of the project. The project team has made significant revisions to the project in direct response to community input. These include:

  • Extending the bus lanes to 34th Avenue to serve nearby schools
  • Adding near-term improvements to enhance pedestrian safety and improve transit service
  • Increasing the frequency of bus service along the corridor
  • Preserving most of the existing parking in the Richmond District
  • Retaining a footbridge on Webster Street to address neighborhood concerns
  • Preserving parking and bus stop locations to meet neighborhood needs near Spruce and Cook streets

Using the OWL viewerUnique Outreach Methods

Breaking new ground, outreach has included virtual-reality kiosks positioned at two intersections along the Geary corridor. SFCTA worked with Owlized Inc. (OWL) using on-street kiosks to provide visualizations of what Geary Boulevard would look like if Bus Rapid Transit is built. OWL viewers had 6,400 users over 3 months.

Visit the multimedia page to see panoramic views of the intersection of Geary and 17th Ave.

An OWL viewer was also placed at Geary and Webster, but the proposed design for that intersection has since been changed.

TIMELINE

The Geary BRT project is currently in the environmental review phase.

Later this year the San Francisco County Transportation Authority Board of Commissioners (comprised of the San Francisco Board of Supervisors) and the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency Board will select a “locally-preferred alternative” and consider approval of the final plan.

Geary BRT schedule

Once a plan is finalized, the detailed design process will begin. The first set of near-term improvements will be installed beginning in late 2016, with construction on the major sections beginning in 2019. Service on the complete BRT project is anticipated to begin as soon as 2020.

SAFETY

The proposed Geary BRT project would address safety concerns on the Geary corridor caused by a combination of fast-moving traffic, high volumes of people walking and long crossing distances, reducing the potential for vehicles to collide with people walking.

Because of its high collision rate, Geary is a Vision Zero high-injury corridor. Vision Zero is the City’s policy initiative aimed to eliminate all traffic fatalities by 2024.

Between 2005 and 2011 there were 390 reported pedestrian-injury collisions along the Geary corridor, including 40 severe and 12 fatal collisions.

By making transit a more attractive and accessible option, conditions will improve for all road users as more people choose to take transit. By optimizing traffic signals and reducing the likelihood of collisions between buses, cars and people walking, future traffic conditions will improve, making it safer to walk, drive or take transit on the corridor.

CONSTRUCTION

The City understands construction is sometimes loud and disruptive to many users of the Geary corridor. Geary is one of the longest commercial corridors in the City, is lined with many small businesses, and is vital to the City’s economy. The San Francisco County Transportation Authority and San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency are partnering with the Office of Economic and Workforce Development to minimize construction impacts on businesses and residents in the corridor and to encourage visitors to patronize the area during the construction period.

What will be the economic impact of construction?

The Geary project includes many corridor upgrades, including some curb-to-curb repaving, which may have an economic effect on businesses with storefronts on the corridor. The City requires contractors to minimize construction impacts and is exploring the development of additional strategies to lessen overall impacts. The SFMTA is learning from other transportation and streetscape projects throughout the City and has developed five key construction outreach and mitigation strategies:

  • Pre-construction survey
  • Business and community advisory committees
  • Accessibility, way-finding and advertisement
  • Notifications and project resources
  • Business technical assistance and support 

COST AND FUNDING

The Geary BRT project estimated cost is $300 million for improved transit service and boarding stations, safer pedestrian amenities and enhanced streetscape design along the entire corridor, and much needed utility improvements.

The project will compete for local, state and federal funding.

The Geary BRT project is only partially funded. This is not uncommon at this stage of project development. Most major transportation projects don't have all the money needed for construction lined up at the environmental phase.

Expected funding includes contributions from:

  • Federal Small Starts
  • San Francisco's half-cent sales tax for transportation
  • Proposition A (2014)
  • Proposition B (2014)
  • SFMTA revenue bond
  • Gas tax revenues

The complete project is expected to be highly competitive for federal funds. We need to continue to prioritize this project for local funds, to supplement the funds committed through San Francisco's half-cent sales tax and Prop. A. Potential additional future funding sources could include: Prop. AA, OBAG, California cap and trade funds and new regional funds.