The 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.
Drivers will still be able to make left turns at Lombard Street in the northbound direction and Broadway Street in the southbound direction, said project manager Peter Gabancho.
Gabancho said Muni bus stops along the corridor that turn into parking spaces will compensate for spaces removed because of the new bus platforms.
The focus of the project is to improve transit service along the Van Ness Avenue corridor — also known as U.S. Highway 101 — by giving Muni’s 47-Van Ness and 49-Mission/Van Ness buses its own exclusive center transit-only lanes, which will also be shared with Golden Gate Transit buses, said Gabancho:
“This project is expected to reduce transit time in the Van Ness bus rapid transit corridor, which runs from Mission and South Van Ness to Van Ness and Lombard by up to 32 percent and improve transit reliability by up to 50 percent.”
The corridor alone averages 16,000 daily riders not including Golden Gate Transit riders, said Gabancho.
Other features of the bus rapid transit system include new boarding platforms in the center median, transit signal priority to hold the green traffic lights for Muni buses and traffic signal optimization, which will help the remaining two traffic lanes move as many vehicles through the corridor as it did with three lanes.
Bus stops will also be consolidated including the elimination of the stop at Van Ness Avenue and Grove Street.
Glenb McCoy, executive director of the San Francisco Ballet, said though he supports the transit improvements for the project, had concerns about the elimination of Grove Street bus stop. The next stop over be on McAllister Street:
“Given City Hall, the access to the Bill Graham Civic Center Auditorium and of course the Opera House and Davies Symphony Hall, two of cities biggest and largest theaters, I think it would be hard to find an intersection on Van Ness with more pedestrian traffic.”
The placement of the bus stations for the Van Ness project have already been finalized in the environmental impact report, said Gabancho. He also said that staff chose McAllister Street as a station because it will connect riders to the 5-Fulton.
Construction will begin sometime in late 2015 with service to open in 2018, according to the transit agency.
Van Ness Bus Rapid Transit Stations
- Market Street
- McAllister Street
- Eddy Street
- Geary Boulevard
- Sutter Street
- Sacramento Street
- Jackson Street
- Vallejo Street
- Union Street