What’s Going on with Geary?

Geary at 19th Avenue | Photo credit: SFCTA

The Geary 38 bus line serves more than 50,000 people every day — that’s nearly as many people as the entire Caltrain system. If you’re a 38 rider, you know that service can be slow, crowded, and unreliable. Meanwhile, more people are driving and taking transit in the city every day, making the Geary corridor more crowded than ever.

Clearly, business as usual is not an option.

There is a plan to get Geary moving faster.

The approach — known as Bus Rapid Transit — will reconfigure the streets to let buses move more smoothly between downtown and Ocean Beach. Some Geary Bus Rapid Transit improvements have already been implemented — one example is some red “bus only” lanes that help buses move faster.

The bulk of Geary improvements are to come. The City has taken a “complete streets” approach in designing a Bus Rapid Transit plan for Geary, meaning there will be improvements for all users — people walking, biking, driving, and taking transit. The major aspects of the Bus Rapid Transit project are set to start in 2017 and is projected to be completed in 2020. When the project is complete, improvements will include:

  • Better conditions for people riding the bus, meaning a 9 to 15 minute faster ride from end to end, and 20% more reliable service thanks to more frequent buses.
  • A better experience for people driving, thanks to new pavement and more dedicated left and right turn lanes that will make it easier to navigate the corridor.
  • Safer streets for people walking and biking, due to shorter street crossing distances, safer areas to wait for lights to change, and more time to cross the street. Intersections will also be designed to help people biking on parallel streets get from one side of Geary to the other.

Bus Rapid Transit is currently the best option for the Geary corridor. While a light rail system is ultimately the ideal option, bus rapid transit can be implemented sooner, with fewer construction disturbances and in a more affordable way (the Bus Rapid Transit project will cost $300 million, while rail would cost many millions more). With dedicated transit lanes, and some that are center-running, the project is setting the stage for rail once funding can be acquired.

So, what do we need to get this project moving? The SF Transportation Authority is currently finishing up the environmental review process. Once this is complete, the San Francisco Board of Supervisors will meet later this year to evaluate and hopefully approve the project. Stay tuned to learn about ways to voice your support. And in the meantime, follow GoGeary on Twitter and Facebook for project updates.

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