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 Van Ness Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) will stretch along the corridor with 10 stops from Mission to Lombard streets and will provide more space for Muni and Golden Gate Transit.
SFMTA Director Ed Reiskin said Van Ness’ six lanes will be reduced to four, with two lanes for motor vehicles in each direction. Separated BRT lanes will run down the middle of the avenue serving Muni’s 49, 47 lines as well as Golden Gate Transit.
The changes for the estimated $125 million-project have been in the works for some time, with the SFMTA board approving it last September, but the formal adoption came this week.
According to Reiskin, left turns will be history along the stretch and instead of parking you can expect pedestrian bulb-outs for those waiting for the bus.
“You would have to do three rights,” Reiskin said. “I think people will learn and mapping software will learn how to best direct you so you can minimize that kind of looping around.”
Transit engineers insist the removal of two traffic lanes won’t slow cars much, but that some may move over to Gough or Franklin, which are already busy streets in their own right.
According to SFMTA, the BRT lanes are expected to reduce travel times by more than 30 percent.
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.
Author: Barbara Taylor