Geary Boulevard is the most heavily used transit corridor in the northern part of San Francisco. Over 50,000 daily transit riders rely on Geary bus service, which is often unreliable and crowded. The implementation of BRT features, such as dedicated bus lanes and high-quality bus shelters, is being considered to improve service for existing riders, attract new transit riders, and prevent increased auto congestion caused by existing riders switching to driving due to dissatisfaction with transit.
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
- What is BRT?
- What is Geary BRT? How does it differ from other rapid bus service?
- What are the benefits of the Geary BRT staff-recommended alternative?
- What is the project timeline? When can I expect to see improvements on the Geary corridor?
- How would Geary BRT affect traffic?
- How would Geary BRT affect transit?
- How would Geary BRT affect walking and biking?
- How would Geary BRT affect parking?
- How can I provide feedback on the project and stay involved?
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.
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 local 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 the 38-Local.
The Staff-Recommended Alternative would reduce travel times by approximately 20% where BRT improvements are implemented, reducing travel times from one end of the corridor to the other by 10-15 minutes (depending on the service and direction).
The recommended alternative also includes the following benefits to the corridor:
- A 20% improvement in bus reliability
- 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 with pedestrian.
The Geary BRT project includes many early investments that will bring transit service improvements to the corridor as soon as possible while the full project is built out over several years. Upon completion of the environmental review process, project elements that can be implemented quickly include extension of red bus-only lanes from Gough to Stanyan, bus stop enhancements, and many pedestrian crossing improvements.
Traffic volumes in the corridor are expected to increase in the corridor over the next twenty years regardless of whether we build BRT, simply due to anticipated growth in San Francisco and the region. Traffic conditions are anticipated to be better overall with the Geary BRT Project than without, as some drivers will switch to improved transit service or decide to drive during off-peak times or take different routes. The Staff-Recommended Alternative would, on average, result in around 25 percent less traffic along the Geary corridor.
Currently, the number of traffic lanes on Geary Boulevard ranges from two in each direction in some parts of the Richmond to four in each direction through the Japantown and Fillmore neighborhoods. With the project, the number of lanes would be consistent through the corridor, with two traffic lanes and a bus lane in each direction all the way from Gough to 34th Avenue. The environmental analysis found that as a result, traffic would flow more calmly and smoothly along the corridor, instead of vehicles speeding through wide, freeway-like segments only to reach traffic lights and bottlenecks when the street narrows back down. Although there would be increased traffic delay at some intersections, there would be less delay at others and overall fewer intersections with high levels of traffic delay with the project.
With fewer traffic lanes on Geary, some traffic would move to other parallel streets (as well as to transit or other times of day). Fortunately, San Francisco’s grid allows diverted traffic to spread out across many other routes, so not all of the additional vehicles would be on just one or two nearby streets. We expect that many drivers will continue to use Geary because it has fewer stop signs than surrounding streets.
Where the BRT would run in the center of the street, consolidation of left turn opportunities is needed to minimize bus delays. In addition, fewer left turns and implementing protected turn phases would improve pedestrian safety. Most left turns would be retained where the BRT would run along the side of the street, as well as at regular intervals throughout the corridor and where demand necessitates them.
The Staff-Recommended Alternative would reduce travel times by approximately 20% where BRT improvements are implemented, reducing travel times from one end of the corridor to the other by 10-15 minutes (depending on the service and direction). Service would also be about 20% more reliable, meaning buses would arrive at stops more regularly. Riders would also enjoy upgraded stops with additional lighting and amenities.
In order to provide transit and pedestrian benefits in the corridor as quickly as possible, some improvements have already been implemented at key locations along the corridor, while others can be implemented on a rolling basis before the entire project is completed. SFMTA has already installed transit signal priority, red bus-only lanes east of Van Ness, some pedestrian bulbs to help reduce cross walk lengths and some new pedestrian signals. Upon completion of the environmental review process, project elements that can be implemented quickly include extension of red bus-only lanes from Van Ness to Stanyan, bus stop enhancements, and additional pedestrian crossing improvements.
As mentioned above, the recommended alternative includes the following pedestrian and safety improvements:
- Bulb-outs to reduce crossing distances at all stop locations and other intersections with high pedestrian collision rates.
- 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
- Fewer left turns and protected turn phases at the remaining turns in the Richmond
The project will also close an important gap in the local bicycle network by adding a bike lane between Masonic Avenue and Presidio Avenue, providing connections both north-south and east-west in the city’s bicycle network.
For BRT to achieve the anticipated travel time savings, reliability improvements, enhancements to the passenger experience, and pedestrian safety upgrades, some portions of the road will need to be reallocated to transit lanes, enhanced stops, and pedestrian crossing improvements instead of parking.
We’ve done a comprehensive analysis of the parking and loading space supply within about 1-2 blocks of Geary in each neighborhood along the corridor. Corridor-wide, the recommended alternative will result in a less than 5% reduction of public parking within a short walk of Geary. Looking segment-by-segment along the corridor, reductions in curb parking spaces would represent 7% or less of the public spaces available in any neighborhood within a block or two of Geary.
The Staff Recommended Alternative minimizes on-street parking space loss by incorporating several design elements, including a center-running transit lane configuration in the Richmond section of the corridor and converting parallel parking to diagonal parking on certain blocks in the Japantown and Fillmore districts.
Public involvement is critical to the success of the Geary Corridor BRT Study, and we urge community members to participate and be heard!
A dedicated Geary BRT Citizens Advisory Committee (GCAC), representing neighborhoods along the corridor, advises the project team. All GCAC meetings will be open to the public and include a public comment period. For more information on past and upcoming CAC meetings please visit: www.gearybrt.org/cac
SFCTA staff is also available to meet with community groups throughout the study. If you are interested in receiving project announcements, contact the Study Team to get on the mailing list. For more information email email@example.com, or call (415) 522-4836.