SAN FRANCISCO (BCN)-- The San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency board voted Tuesday to approve a bus rapid transit project that will create separated bus-only lanes through much of the city's busiest transit corridor.
The $300 million Geary bus rapid-transit project will include dedicated bus lanes from Market Street to 34th Avenue, changes to the spacing of bus stops, sidewalk extensions at 91 intersections, new accessible bus
stops and traffic signal improvements. The project will also include infrastructure and repaving work.
It is expected to speed up travel times for bus riders by as much as 20 minutes round trip and increase pedestrian safety in a high-risk corridor, according to city transit officials.
However the project has met with vocal opposition from merchants along the Geary corridor concerned about a loss of parking and construction impacts.
A group calling itself San Franciscans for Sensible Transit filed a lawsuit in February after the San Francisco County Transportation Authority voted on January 5 to approve the project's final environmental impact
report. That lawsuit is still in progress.
City officials hope to complete the federal environmental review process and obtain federal approvals later this year.
The project has been divided into two phases, with changes between Stanyan and Market streets, which have funding sources already identified, expected to occur in the first phase.
After those approvals are obtained, the SFMTA will start outreach on phase one, which is expected to cost $65 million, and finalize design details. Specific roadway and right-of-way changes are expected to come
before the SFMTA board in early 2018.
The Geary corridor is the busiest transit corridor in the city, carrying around 52,000 riders annually, but it suffers from overcrowded buses, uneven wait times and inconsistent travel times due to traffic delays, according to transit officials. Pedestrians in the corridor are around eight times more likely to be hit by a vehicle than the citywide average.