Gas station sleuths put SF’s red-paint transit lanes on hold

By Phil Matier : sfchronicle – excerpt

San Francisco has been told to hit the brakes on marking those red, transit-only lanes along Geary Boulevard after two brothers who own a gas station on the street busted the city for failing to follow federal guidelines.

The red lanes, which are open to buses and taxis only, have been laid down on a number of major corridors in recent years. They are part of a federal pilot program aimed at speeding up bus times and easing congestion.

The lanes are a hit at City Hall, but merchants often complain that they scare off customers.

“Traffic is mandated to stay out of the red lane. So drivers will either be forced to make illegal and unsafe turns into businesses along the boulevard, or bypass us and find a different business for their needs,” said Corey Urban, who along with his brother, Glenn Urban, owns the Shell gas station and car wash at Geary and Cook Street.

The brothers weren’t happy to learn that the city was planning to lay down 1.75 miles of red lanes in each direction along Geary from Gough to Stanyan, a stretch that includes their gas station.

When the city ignored their concerns, the Urbans started digging through federal regulations for the red-lane program.

They discovered that the city was supposed to be gathering data on transit times in existing lanes before slapping down the red paint, something the Municipal Transportation Agency wasn’t doing.

“For over three years, the SFMTA has just kicked our butt over this red lane stuff by not listening,” Glenn Urban said.

So the Urbans complained to the feds, who ordered the city last year to put the red paint on the shelf until it complies with the rules.

Paul Rose, a spokesman for the transportation agency, called the whole thing a misunderstanding between the city and Washington.

Whatever the case, there’s no red paint being slapped down in front of the Urbans’ gas station and no plans for additional transit-only lanes in the city until next year.

In fact, the city says it will redesign the lane in front of the brothers’ gas pumps to clarify that cars can turn in and out of the station…(more)


Bus lanes cause grief among merchants on Geary Street in San Francisco

By  : abc7news – excerpt

SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) — In San Francisco– so-called “red carpet” lanes are designated for taxis and public transit only to help those vehicles get through traffic. But these lanes are the reason a group of small business owners have taken on the San Francisco Metropolitan Transportation Commission.

It’s a pretty good living, owning one of the few car washes in San Francisco. For Corey Urban and his brother, it’s been a squeaky clean money machine siphoning business from Geary Boulevard without major hassles for almost three decades.

Now? Not so much… (more)