With environmental report done, Van Ness high-speed bus could roll in 2016


One design includes a bus rapid transit line in the center lane of Van Ness Avenue, with right-side boarding. Photo courtesy of the San Francisco County Transportation Authority.

A new high-speed, high-tech bus line bisecting the city on Van Ness Avenue is set to go after passing a long and expensive city review.

A dream urban planning experiment of local environmentalists, it was slowed by an environmental impact report. The report was released Friday by the San Francisco County Transportation Authority.

The project is meant to speed up and improve reliability of bus transit along Van Ness Avenue by separating car traffic and Muni buses. By creating a dedicated transit lane, it would reduce transit travel time by 18 to 32 percent, depending on which design is chosen for the corridor, and allow more constistent travel times.

The report also said that if a “bus rapid transit” system is not built by 2015, car traffic could increase by 7.5 percent, and transit service along the corridor could decline.

The 47-Van Ness and 49-Van Ness/Mission lines both operate on the heavily used corridor, with 16,000 daily boardings.

For the new system are five designs to choose from, including putting the bus rapid transit lane on the side or in the center of Van Ness Avenue.

The project is estimated to cost between $87 million and $130 million, depending on which design is chosen. Funding is supported by federal grants and a tax approved by voters in 2003.

Construction is scheduled for 2015 and estimated to take 14 to 19 months. Bus rapid transit service is projected to begin in 2016.

What comes next for Bus Rapid Transit:

  • Nov. 7–Dec. 1: Staff presentations at locations throughout San Francisco.
  • Nov. 30: Public comment from 5:30 p.m. to 8 p.m. at the Holiday Inn Golden Gateway, 1500 Van Ness Ave.
  • 2012: Final design chosen.
  • 2015 (tentative): Construction begins.
  • 2016: Service begins.


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