Geary Corridor Bus Rapid Transit | About

Geary Blvd. bus shelter

ABOUT GEARY

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

To learn more about Geary BRT, click on a question and follow the link down the page:


What is BRT?

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 to allow them to manage their time better;
  • 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.

Where has BRT worked?

BRT technology was pioneered in Latin America and has also been implemented in Australia, Canada, and Europe.   It is currently being implemented in many United States cities, including Los Angeles, Las Vegas, and Boston, because it is cost effective and allows communities to experience benefits relatively quickly. To learn more about BRT in other cities visit The Bus Rapid Transit Policy Center or the American Public Transportation Association web sites.

What are the benefits of BRT?

Experience in other North American cities has shown that bus rapid transit can reduce transit travel time by 15-30%, and improve transit reliability by 25-50%. This range reflects anticipated variation between side-running vs. center-running designs and among comparable systems including: Oakland, Pittsburgh, Los Angeles, Las Vegas, Boston, and Vancouver.

Faster and more reliable transit service will result in shorter transit commute times and more people traveling to the Geary corridor for shopping, restaurants, and other commercial activities. Pedestrian improvements and landscaping will also encourage walking and foot traffic by making Geary a more pleasant place to shop and stroll. There is also potential to address longstanding physical barriers that divide neighborhoods, such as at Fillmore, through redesign of the street infrastructure.

How might BRT affect service on Geary?

All of the BRT service plans being evaluated are anticipated to increase transit service by reinvesting the majority of the travel time savings back into Geary Corridor service.  The 38L-Limited would transition into the BRT route and the hours of operation would increase to match the light rail system (approximately 5 am to 1 am), with Sunday service.  Various combinations of local and BRT service will be analyzed to determine the best way to meet demand. 

Would the BRT project improve walking and biking on Geary?

Yes; the Study has pursued a strong commitment to turning Geary into a "Great Street" and meeting the spirit of the City's complete streets policy. All of the designs include a major investment in the pedestrian environment, including well designed medians, shorter crossing distances, landscaping, and pedestrian countdown signals. The Study has also sought to address the needs of bicycle riders by evaluating how cyclists can safely access the BRT system from adjacent routes on the bicycle network and providing bicycle racks at all BRT stops.  The BRT project is expected to make Geary safer for both bicycling and walking by reducing conflicts with buses and reducing the number of traffic lanes on Geary. 

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What are the project goals?

Working together, the Geary Feasibility Study Citizens Advisory Committee and Study Team identified the following goals for transit on Geary:

Goal 1
Robust and Stable Ridership.  Decrease travel times; improve service reliability; improve in-vehicle comfort; improve passenger waiting experience; improve the quality and safety of transit access for all modes including pedestrians and bicyclists; and increase accessibility for Geary neighborhoods.

Goal 2
Efficient, Effective, and Equitable Transit Service.  Increase service efficiency and effectiveness through cost effective improvements; reduce operator stress; support demand generated by existing and planned development; and distribute passenger benefits across all users and trip purposes.

Goal 3
Neighborhood Livability and Commercial Vitality.  Support existing and planned land use; enhance safety and security for all travelers and others in the community; establish attractive transit stations that serve activity nodes; link transit route to the community through design treatments; reduce emissions relative to no-project condition; minimize the negative impacts of the project on local residents and businesses.

Goal 4
Transit Priority Network System Development.  Establish an identity that enhances the image of transit on Geary; integrate the Geary Corridor into the citywide rapid transit system; provide clear, understandable, and accessible passenger information; apply and advance BRT technology; improve connectivity between the Geary Corridor and the local and regional transit network; create a sense of permanence that inspires confidence in long-term investment; and serve as a model for BRT applications in other urban areas.

What is the scope and schedule for the project?

The Geary Corridor Bus Rapid Transit Feasibility Study was completed in 2007.  The Feasibility Study was a conceptual study that addressed three main questions:

  • What bus priority improvements are needed on Geary?
  • What BRT configurations are possible and desirable?
  • What other transportation changes are desirable on Geary to support the BRT system?

With the approval of the Feasibility Study in 2007, the Study Team has initiated more detailed analysis through an environmental review of BRT on Geary.  Once the project scope is refined through this study, the engineering and construction phases can begin, with BRT service potentially beginning in 2016/17.

The objective of the environmental analysis is to identify a preferred alternative for Geary by:

  • Preparing a joint Environmental Impact Report/Statement (EIR/EIS), which identifies potential environmental impacts of the project alternatives;
  • Involving the public and partner agencies; and
  • Complying with state and federal requirements. 

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What is the Study Area?

The Geary BRT project is focused on the most congested portion of the corridor—between Van Ness and 33rd Avenues. However, BRT would result in improved service for the full length of the corridor from the Transbay Terminal to the Pacific Ocean. 

Has the decision to build BRT already been made?

No; the decision to build BRT has not yet been made. In May 2007, the Transportation Authority Board approved the final report of the feasibility study, taking into account both technical merit and community input. At that time, the Board also approved funding for environmental review (including a no-build option) and preliminary engineering. This process began in fall 2008 and should conclude in mid-2013, at which point an implementation decision can be made.

Would we lose on-street parking?

Taking into account proposed designs and potential mitigations, the preliminary parking analysis estimates varying levels of parking gains and losses, by alternative and location. Preliminary results from the Feasibility Study show that parking changes could range from a net parking gain of 16% in one scenario to a net parking loss of 17% in another; however, alternatives could have less than a 5% parking loss with mitigations. Proposed mitigation strategies include replacing metered parallel parking on cross streets (e.g., 20th Avenue) with metered diagonal parking and/or redesigning the alternatives west of Park Presidio to maintain diagonal parking on one side of the street. To learn more about the Study's approach to minimizing parking loss or to review parking changes for different segments of the corridor, view the preliminary parking analysis, conducted during the Feasibility Study. The parking analysis will be updated as part of the EIR/EIS analysis, once the transportation analysis and alternative designs have been finalized.

Would reducing a traffic lane on Geary divert traffic to nearby streets?

The environmental analysis will evaluate traffic impacts and diversions in detail.  Preliminary analysis shows that some drivers will switch to transit or walking, while others will continue to drive, though they may change the time of day they travel to avoid peak periods.  We also expect that many drivers will continue to use Geary because it has fewer stop signs than surrounding streets. Planners will work with concerned neighbors to identify traffic calming improvements on nearby streets as needed.

What would the construction impacts be? When would they occur?

Due to the planning and project development process, construction impacts will not occur until the project is implemented in 4 to 6 years.  BRT can be built a few blocks at a time while maintaining transit service and auto access to businesses during construction.  Since construction of BRT is fairly straightforward in most sections (similar to a resurfacing/curbing project), disruption will amount to a matter of weeks and months, not years (impacts could be more extensive at Fillmore and at Masonic, depending on the designs).  Construction impacts will be significantly minimized compared with light-rail transit or subway construction.

Can we really afford this?

Yes; BRT is a cost effective way to deliver improved transit service. We will update cost estimates towards the end of the EIR/EIS process, but expect the project to cost between $175–200 million excluding the grade separated intersections.  There are realistic funding options available, with about $50 million coming from local sales tax and other local resources. The project is also eligible for up to $75 million from the Federal Transit Administration and is expected to compete well for other federal and regional resources. 

Will there be an economic impact assessment?

Broader socioeconomic impacts will be analyzed in the EIR/EIS stage.

Would MTA purchase new vehicles for the Geary BRT project?

Muni is moving to low-floor vehicles on all new buses, so passengers do not have to go up stairs to enter the bus.  This will significantly speed up boarding and improve access for seniors and people with disabilities. The current buses are scheduled for replacement within the same timeframe as the project.  More work will be undertaken as the study proceeds to identify resources and design bus specifications. 

Would the BRT service have a different fare?

No; there are no plans to have a different fare for BRT.  Muni currently charges the same fare for all transit services including bus and light rail. 

Are you considering light rail on Geary?

Currently, we simply do not have the funds to pay for light rail on Geary. In 2003, the Expenditure Plan Advisory Committee (EPAC) adopted a transit priority network that defines Geary as a potential BRT corridor. The EPAC recognized that a light rail line on Geary is not viable with the financial constraints of the City's 30-year Expenditure Plan.  Instead the Plan requires that BRT designs be rail-ready, meaning that proposed designs should not preclude a future rail project on Geary.  Center-running BRT alternatives will adopt dimensional standards, such as height and width clearances, used for light rail vehicles.  For more information on rail-readiness, view the Rail-Ready Report completed during the Feasibility Study, and a more recent Light Rail Roadmap discussed with the Geary BRT CAC.

What does "rail-ready" mean?

The center-running BRT alternative(s) will be designed to the physical dimensions required to accommodate a light rail vehicle. The Geary BRT Study will also determine the costs and feasibility of implementing a more extensive definition of rail-ready, which aims to minimize future construction impacts if resources become available to convert the bus rapid transit project to light rail. This definition would potentially include installing the rails and sub-surface electrical work, relocating utilities, and building longer platforms to accommodate light rail vehicles during the initial BRT construction. The BRT Study will calculate the cost of each incremental rail-ready element and determine the most cost-effective way to balance the benefits and trade-offs of a more immediate implementation of BRT, with those of a more extensive definition of Rail-Readiness for a potential rail extension on Geary beyond the current 30-year Expenditure Plan.

What is the role of the Geary BRT Citizens Advisory Committee?

The Geary BRT Citizens Advisory Committee (GCAC) meets on a bi-monthly basis to advise the project team during the environmental study.  The GCAC will provide input in refining Geary BRT alternatives; reviewing project benefits and impacts; identifying mitigation strategies; and selecting a preferred alternative.  The GCAC was appointed by the Transportation Authority Board in April 2008. See details on the GCAC, including meeting information.

What is the Geary Multilingual Outreach project?

In January 2006 the SFCTA and MTA received a Caltrans Environmental Justice Grant to conduct multilingual outreach for the Geary BRT Feasibility Study.  The project had two related objectives: 1) collect feedback from minority and immigrant communities regarding the Geary BRT Study; and 2) build long-term capacity within these communities to participate in future transportation projects.  The study team partnered with six community-based organizations to carry out the multilingual project:

  • Little Saigon Development Association
  • La Voz Latina de la Ciudad Central
  • Japantown Task Force
  • Ella Hill Hutch Community Center
  • Russian American Community Services
  • Chinatown Community Development Corporation

Working with these community groups allowed us to make materials available in Spanish, Chinese, Russian, Japanese, Korean, and Vietnamese, and to communicate more effectively with various communities.

Download the final report of the Geary Multilingual Outreach Project (6.0 MB PDF).

How can I get involved?

Public involvement is critical to the success of the Geary Corridor BRT Study, and we urge community members to participate and be heard!  The project team will solicit community input through the scoping process, and the Geary BRT Citizens Advisory Committee (GCAC).  All GCAC meetings will be open to the public and include a public comment period. 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.

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