Feds award millions to Van Ness Avenue bus improvement project

By Lizzie Johnson : sfgate – excerpt

The Obama administration said Tuesday that it was awarding San Francisco $75 million for a project to improve one of the city’s busiest public transportation arteries.

Work has already begun on the $223 million Van Ness Bus Rapid Transit Project that will result in the installation of dedicated transit lanes and station-like stops for what will be the city’s first bus rapid-transit line. When the project is complete, buses will run every four to five minutes, shaving several minutes from riders’ trips.

The grant is coming from the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Transit Administration. The rest of the Van Ness Avenue project is being covered by local, state and other federal sources.

“The new BRT line will provide a convenient connection to the Muni light rail system, and it will improve access to jobs, health care, and opportunity throughout the Bay Area,” said U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx in a statement…(more)

Comment on the source if you can.

 

Game-changer bus for San Francisco’s notoriously slow Muni system nears its debut, but not everyone’s on board

By Lauren Hepler : bizjournals – excerpt

After 13 years, the rubber is (almost) ready to hit the road for Bus Rapid Transit. Advocates say it’s like getting a new train service at a fraction of the cost, but detractors worry that everybody else will get taken for a ride.

A new kind of bus, heralded as a game-changer for San Francisco’s notoriously slow Muni system, is closer than ever to making its debut.

On Oct. 24, construction crews are set to begin laying the groundwork for the city’s first Bus Rapid Transit project on a two-mile stretch of Van Ness from Mission to Lombard streets. Essentially public bus service on steroids, the $159 million project promises to cut travel times by a third.

With exclusive lanes for buses, coordinated traffic signals and new elevated stations in central medians of major thoroughfares, BRT is designed to speed things up in a city where buses travel at an average of just 8.5 miles per hour. The aim is to add more frequent buses on BRT routes, and put them on a timetable that reflects reality…

Not far behind Van Ness, which is projected to start serving passengers in 2019 for the same regular $2.25-a-trip fair as existing bus lines, are projects on Geary and Geneva streets…

A 9-mile project from Oakland to San Leandro is also on the cusp of breaking ground. The $178 million project slated to be up and running in late 2017 is projected to serve riders at an operating cost of $8 per passenger, compared to $31 per passenger for light rail, said Robert Del Rosario, director of development and service planning for AC Transit.
BRT’s economics have transit agencies around the region moving full steam ahead to map out more routes, cobbling together funding and predicting major development implications near new bus stations.

“All of the cities are really focused on in-fill development,” Del Rosario said. “They’re hoping it’s smart development that doesn’t bring more cars.”…

However, the budding BRT boom has reinforced a familiar Bay Area adage in a big way: Planning something isn’t the same as building it. BRT has taken 13 years just to get to the brink of construction in San Francisco; many residents, businesses and commuters are less optimistic about the benefits than transit planners, and have sometimes used the political process to throw sand in the gears.

Familiar concerns about parking and ease of travel by car, plus logistical challenges like a widening scope of work, have plagued the Van Ness BRT project and others. So have more obscure obstacles, such as a successful last-ditch effort in September to halt work so that historic beige and gray trolley poles in the area could be preserved…

One predictable reason it’s been slow going is consistent backlash from car owners since San Francisco voters in 2003 approved the Proposition K sales tax hike to fund transit improvements like BRT.

Giving up two lanes of traffic and losing turning privileges on central arteries like Van Ness aren’t appealing — but they’re necessary, McCarthy argues. Areas targeted for BRT are also already high ridership for transit, with the 47 Van Ness and 49 Mission/Van Ness bus routes serving an estimated 16,000 customers per day, making them prime opportunities…

The report also estimates that 19-34 percent of auto traffic will likely be displaced by BRT to parallel streets, other times of day or alternate modes of transportation. Intersections around Gough and Hayes streets, as well as Franklin and O’Farrell streets, were projected to see the most noticeable delays starting at 30 seconds per car…

Look no further than San Jose for a real time example of how projects can be derailed in progress. Last September, the South Bay’s Valley Transportation Agency had to fire its contractor on a $114 million BRT project after a busted gas line, cost overruns and permitting issues.

In the Mission, meanwhile, a step toward BRT with so-called “red carpet” lanes for both buses and taxis have drawn the ire of local businesses and residents cut off from the lanes this spring.

“The changes look better on paper than in practice,” Supervisor David Campos said in an April statement, citing complaints from car owners in his district…

The area around the Van Ness corridor, zoned for a mix of high-density combined residential and commercial usage, is projected by the county to gain 12,208 households by 2035, or a 28 percent increase from pre-2000 levels. Planners are hoping to capitalize on that momentum by making it easier to move through the area, particularly given its dual appeal as a tourism connector…

Features of the new BRT corridor on Van Ness Avenue include:

  • Dedicated transit-only lane, for use by Muni and Golden Gate Transit buses only, that is physically separated from mixed traffic lanes
  • Enhanced traffic signals optimized for north-south traffic with Transit Signal Priority that keeps buses moving by holding the green light
  • Low-floor vehicles and all-door boarding for quicker and easier loading
  • Safety enhancements for people walking including shortening crossing distances with sidewalk extensions and median refuges, zebra-striped crosswalks that make people more visible, audible countdown signals and eliminated most left turns from Van Ness Avenue (except northbound at Lombard and southbound at Broadway)
  • High-quality boarding islands at consolidated transit stops located at key transfer points.

 

 

 

Trees, historic trolley poles to be removed for bus project

By Joe Fitzgerald Rodriguez : sfexaminer – excerpt

A challenge to The City’s Van Ness Bus Rapid Transit project was shot down Wednesday night, in a blow to those looking to preserve trees and historic trolley poles on Van Ness Avenue.
The fight pitted residents who wanted to preserve historic fixtures against transit advocates and others interested in paving the way for faster bus service for thousands.

The trolley poles were first constructed in 1915 for the Pan Pacific International Expo, which drew thousands to San Francisco’s Marina district.

The San Francisco Board of Appeals voted down an appeal by the City’s Historic Preservation Commission, which previously granted the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency permission to remove trees and historic trolley poles for the construction of traffic medians as part of the Van Ness Bus Rapid Transit project.

The project would convert the two center lanes of Van Ness Avenue into red-painted bus-only lanes, and construct medians that act almost like train stops, in an effort to speed up Muni’s 47 and 49 bus lines.

The Historic Preservation Commission issued SFMTA a “certificate of appropriateness” to allow the project to move forward in November last year, but it was conditional. The SFMTA was told to preserve four of the historic trolley poles — two in front of City Hall, and two in front of the War Memorial building, and to create a plaque commemorating their historic significance.

The Board of Appeals decision to deny the appeal upholds the Historic Preservation Commission’s original decision to allow the SFMTA to continue, conditionally, with the Van Ness BRT project… (more)

Block of Van Ness to be closed for 3 days starting Friday

By Michael Cabanatuan : sfgate – excerpt

A stretch of always-busy Van Ness Avenue will be closed to drivers for 72 hours starting Friday and continuing through the weekend to allow for construction of a pedestrian tunnel for the new California Pacific Medical Center campus.

The street will close just after midnight on Friday morning between Geary Boulevard and Post Street in both directions. It will reopen at 11:59 p.m. Sunday. However, Muni and Golden Gate Transit buses and emergency vehicles will be allowed access, and pedestrians will be permitted to use the sidewalk on one side of the street.

Detours will take drivers around the closure, primarily using recommended routes on Larkin, Franklin and Gough streets. Traffic control officers and flaggers will staff the detours. Parking restrictions will be in effect on Franklin and Gough streets.

The shutdown is the first of three for construction of a tunnel to connect the new hospital and a medical office building that will sit on opposite sides of Van Ness. Closures are also scheduled April 24-26 and Sept. 5-7… (more)

Get ready to avoid Van Ness Avenue and surrounding streets as the SFMTA roles out the worst streetscape project it can envision to force you out of your cars.

Expect congestion next three years: Lombard, Polk, and Van Ness construction projects to run simultaneously

By Susan Dyer Reynolds : marinatimes – excerpt

In San Francisco, where extensive construction work has taken over the city’s neighborhoods and business districts, it seems almost absurd to attempt three enormous, overlapping projects on and around three major Northside thoroughfares, but that’s exactly what the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency has planned. Here’s the latest news on the Polk Streetscape project, the Van Ness Transit Corridor Improvement and Bus Rapid Transit project, and the Lombard Street Invest in Neighborhoods Initiative… (more)

The author wants to know how you feel about these plans so let her know. Also let the city officials know. Save Polk Street has a letter here you can sign if you like:

http://www.savepolkstreet.com/

RELATED:
Future of Polk Street to be decided Tuesday – maybe

SFMTA approves parking, traffic for Van Ness BRT

By Jerold Chinn : sfbay – excerpt

he Van Ness Bus Rapid Transit project moved a step forward after transit officials Tuesday approved the necessary parking and traffic changes along Van Ness Avenue to accommodate the $125 million bus rapid transit system.

The changes unanimously approved by the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency’s directors Tuesday include restricting most left turns on Van Ness Avenue and removing parking spaces where the agency plans to put center bus boarding platforms…

Van Ness Bus Rapid Transit Stations

  • Market Street
  • McAllister Street
  • Eddy Street
  • Geary Boulevard
  • Sutter Street
  • Sacramento Street
  • Jackson Street
  • Vallejo Street
  • Union Street … (more)

Rapid Bus Lanes Coming To San Francisco’s Van Ness Ave.; Expect Less Parking Space

By Barbara Taylor : cbslocal – excerpt

AN FRANCISCO (KCBS)— The plan for San Francisco’s first Bus Rapid Transit project is moving forward. San Francisco’s Municipal Transportation Agency’s (SFMTA) board of directors has approved major changes that will eliminate traffic lanes and parking along busy Van Ness Avenue in an effort to make the thoroughfare more efficient…

The construction is set to begin in winter 2015 and should take two years to complete with the changes expected to go into effect in 2018… (more)

“The construction is set to begin in winter 2015 and should take two  years to complete with the changes expected to go into effect in 2018.”
You know this is a lie. The changes will take effect the minute construction begins.

Concerns raised over BRT lanes on San Francisco’s Van Ness Avenue

Say Goodbye to Van Ness Avenue, Broadway and Haight Street

What do drivers, Muni riders, Muni operators, taxi drivers, elderly and disabled people, parents, emergency personnel and many families long time residents of San Francisco have in common? A growing distrust for the SFMTA.

Thanks to everyone who voted No on A and B and Yes on L. The voters who were duped into trusting the SFMTA can now enjoy their next bold move. Tomorrow they plan to approve removal of traffic lanes and parking on Van Ness, Broadway, and Haight Street. For details of the plans you can try to read this week’s SFMTA agenda. The meeting is tomorrow, so you have one day to prepare your protest.

RELATED:
Van Ness Avenue next on list for traffic tie-ups in S.F.

 

Shelter squabble threatens Van Ness BRT

By Jerold Chinn : sfbay – excerpt

key federal grant for San Francisco’s Van Ness Bus Rapid Transit project could be in jeopardy.

A letter dated Oct. 27 sent from the Federal Transit Administration said the project is danger of not qualifying for the FTA’s Small Starts grant program because of recent design element changes to the Van Ness Avenue project.

The letter from the FTA’s regional administrator Leslie T. Rogers explains that the recent changes to the project to not include a canopy or roof-type transit shelters to protect riders from weather elements will disqualify the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency from receiving funding from the FTA program.

he transit agency said it had anticipated receive up to $75 million to help pay for the bus rapid transit project along the Van Ness Avenue corridor… (more)

This is a slightly dated article, but worth looking into for anyone who objects to the Van Ness BRT project. So far it has been slowed down by unmapped underground pipes and perhaps funding shortfalls might delay the project long enough to put a stop or alter it.