Retired San Francisco Public Works Chief's Opposition to Geary BRT (Red Carpet)
Why I Oppose the Geary Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) System
(The “Red Carpet”)
The Municipal Transportation Agency (MTA or “Muni”) proposes to spend $300M to tear up the median along Geary Boulevard and construct two “buses only” lanes painted red (the “red carpet”) down the middle of the street. The 120 trees planted in the median would be removed. Angle parking would be replaced by parallel parking. Why?
The City’s “Fact Sheet” says the Bus Rapid Transit Project will:
Travel time. Muni wants to speed buses through downtown. That works. Then they want to slow them down between Van Ness and Masonic. Why? And then City staff admitted that west of 25th Avenue, the project will cost $18M and MAY save ONE MINUTE. Does MTA have too much money?
On-time performance. In the Richmond District, the buses will run in a slot down Geary Boulevard, one behind another. If one bus is delayed, there is no room for other buses to pass. Express buses will be eliminated – all buses will make all stops. If your idea of on-time performance is no buses for twenty minutes, followed by six buses in a row, then welcome to today’s Muni.
Safety. Muni’s “Vision Zero” presentation shows 6 accidents per year in the 48 block Richmond District. When I worked for the city I managed a study of high accident intersections. Geary Boulevard in the Richmond NEVER made the “Top 100” most dangerous intersections. This argument is bogus.
Access for all users. Eliminating some bus stops would make the elderly and handicapped travel farther to reach a bus stop. Bicycles are banned from the buses only lanes, even when the lanes are at the edge of the street. How does this improve access for all users?
Neighborhood livability. Start by tearing out 120 trees. Put narrow concrete medians in the middle where an occasional stick tree can be planted (“one-for-one replacement”). Remove most angle parking forcing shoppers to double park or circle the block and park in front of residences, “temporarily” blocking driveways, but it’s ok, City dwellers shouldn’t own cars anyway.
Community vitality. Provide a red painted concrete slot through a vibrant community commercial district. Then change the zoning so that Geary can look like Van Ness. Then remove parking spaces causing small businesses to fail. (Merchants along Mission Street report a drop in sales of as much as 1/3 since their “red carpet’ went in.) But that’s ok, because a City staff person said “everyone knows there’s too much retail in San Francisco anyway”. After all, you can always shop on Amazon.
Still feel like spending $300M of your tax dollars? I don’t.
Vitaly B. Troyan, PE
Chief, Public Works Bureau of Engineering (ret)