Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Geary Corridor BRT Study - Official Website

Welcome to the official website for the Geary Corridor Bus Rapid Transit Study, which is a multi-agency effort being led by the San Francisco County Transportation Authority (SFCTA), in partnership with the Municipal Transportation Agency (Muni/DPT), the Planning Department, the Department of Public Works, and Golden Gate Transit. The Study is evaluating the benefits and impacts of potential bus rapid transit designs on Geary, the heaviest used transit corridor in the northern part of San Francisco. Almost 50,000 daily transit riders rely on Geary bus service which is frequently slow, unreliable and crowded. Improvements, such as dedicated bus lanes and high-quality bus shelters, are being considered to improve service for existing riders, attract new transit riders, and prevent increased auto congestion caused by existing riders switching to driving.

Transport Innovator Features BRT

Here is a link to the latest issue of Transport Innovator. It has a big spread on BRT, including an article on Cleveland’s Euclid Avenue corridor BRT which has the same design as the Telegraph Avenue BRT and many of the same issues. 2006.pdf

BRT News Line Magazine

Here is a link to the BRT News Line magazine. It is published quarterly and is dedicated to BRT issues. Once you open the newsletter, there are links to subscribe to the electronic version.

Monday, August 21, 2006

Time Saved By East Bay BRT

How much time would the BRT plan that we are backing save for bus riders?

AC Transit's Major Investment Study says: "Enhanced Bus would provide 10 to 15 percent better travel time than existing AC Transit bus services. BRT would provide an additional 15 to 25% travel time improvement over Enhanced Bus. LRT [light rail] would provide only a 2 to 10 percent improvement over BRT." (page 27.)

Overall, BRT would reduce travel time by 25% to 35%.

Thanks to Rob Wrenn for providing these figures.

Sunday, August 20, 2006

BRT Means More Business For Downtown Berkeley

According to a survey of downtown Berkeley shoppers directed by Elizabeth Deakin of the UC Berkeley Institute of Transportation Studies, more shoppers come downtown by transit than by car, 28% by transit compared with 20% by car:

"Over half stated that their shopping trip originated from home, while 1/5 each came from work or school. Consistent with these responses, 42% of all shoppers were walking to their shopping destination. 28% took transit to downtown Berkeley, and 20% had driven and parked downtown, with about 2/3 parking on-street."

It seems clear that when BRT attracts the 10,000 new transit riders that AC Transit predicts, that will mean more customers coming downtown.

This survey is available at

Saturday, August 19, 2006

Orange Line in LA - potential "revolution"

Orange Line opens Oct. 29, and Supervisor Yaroslavsky hails it as a potential "revolution."
Metro Investment Report
October, 2005

"We went down there (Curitiba, Brazil), and within 15 minutes of seeing their bus system – which is a fixed-guideway system with an exclusive busway for their main lines – all of us looked at it and said, “This makes sense. This could work in Los Angeles.” I remember pacing off the width of the street, the width of the busway, applying it to Van Nuys Boulevard, La Brea Avenue, certainly the Southern Pacific right-of-way, and I said, “this would work back home.” Before I saw it with my own eyes, I never understood how functional and pleasant their system is."

Sunday, August 13, 2006

A Misleading Question from Kitchen Democracy

The Berkeley web site named "Kitchen Democracy" recently posted this misleading question: Do you think the Transportation Commission should hold public hearings before the city implements Bus Rapid Transit?

This reminds me of the famous dishonest question: Have you stopped beating your wife? Purely by asking the question, you imply that it is common knowledge that this person used to beat his wife.

Likewise, by asking this question, Kitchen Democracy implies that there is a possibility the city will adopt BRT without holding public hearings. This is totally false. There was never any question of implementing BRT without holding public hearings about it.

Needless to say, this misleading question provoked many responses that were hostile to BRT, from people who actually believed the implication that the city was planning to do it without hearings.

I don't know if the people at Kitchen Democracy are deliberately trying to provoke antagonism to BRT or if they are really so ignorant that they think it is possible that the city would implement BRT without hearings. In either case, Kitchen Democracy is doing a disservice to Berkeley's democracy.

Saturday, August 12, 2006

BRT Featured in Journal of Public Transportation

At our last meeting, Roy Nakadegawa circulated the most recent issue of the Journal of Public Transportation (Vol. 9, No. 3), which focuses entirely on BRT. To view articles go to

One important article states that BRT, more than a "no build" option and more than light rail, has the potential to reduce CO2 emissions.

Thursday, August 10, 2006

Geary Boulevard BRT

Hi All,

I attended the District 1 Town Hall Meeting at the Presidio Middle School (450 30th Ave) in San Francisco on Saturday, July 29 and heard a great presentation on the proposed Bus Rapid Transit designs for Geary Boulevard. There were several hundred people in attendance at this meeting, which was hosted by Gavin Newsom.

Julie Kirschbaum, Senior Transportation Planner, for the San Francisco County Transportation Authority gave a 15 minute talk on the proposals. I will try to get the text of her remarks from her office and post them here. Her phone number is 415-522-4830. Her email address is

There are three options being considered.

* Curbside BRT
* Center BRT with Side Platforms
* Center BRT with Center Platforms

The Center BRT with Side Platforms seemed to me the best. With this design buses can pass each other and stay away from auto traffic.

One concern I've had about BRT all along is the impact on parking. It turns out that with Center BRT, the number of parking spaces on Geary Blvd will increase by 10%. When you change the system to eliminate curb stops for buses, a lot of parking is freed up. I would think business owners and other "stakeholders" along Geary would be happy about that.

From what I could gather in conversations with several people after the meeting, business opposition was due to the fact that the street would be disrupted during construction. I have no experience with this sort of thing, but I know that all kinds of civic improvements are disruptive to traffic patterns, sewer repair for one.

Overflow traffic onto streets paralleling Geary was discussed. According to Ms. Kirschbaum, 40% of the traffic on Geary would just disappear - I can't explain that remark, but hope that she can give her presentation sometime in Oakland or Berkeley and she could elaborate on it. She also said that a 20% increase in ridership was anticipated.

There was a small increase in traffic on streets parallel to Geary. There was some technical terminology that she used to describe this that was unfamiliar to me (vehicles/minute?). I think that she said that travel time between the Outer Richmond and downtown would improve by 20%, according to the modelling that was done.

The mayor pointed out that crossing Geary Boulevard would become much easier with a Center BRT option. Apparently Geary is 100 feet wide in places, and by having a wide center curb available, crossing the street is much easier. I would say the same would apply to Telegraph. How wide is Telegraph in Oakland?

The designs presented showed no separate lanes for bicycles. I submitted a written question asking about it. The mayor brought it up, and asked the planning staff to look into it.

The mayor took questions from the audience. No one spoke in opposition to the project, and there seemed to be general support for it.

NBC news videotaped the entire proceeding. I asked the cameraman if it was available as a webcast, and he said he didn't think so. This BRT presentation should be available online. I am going to ask Julie Kirschbaum if she can get the footage from NBC.

I looked for a story about this in the Chronicle yesterday (Sunday) and could find nothing. Did anyone see anything about it in local media?

I have some fold-out color brochures which I will be happy to provide to anyone who'd like one. I should have gotten a whole box of them, but only got ten. There are several people who've looked at the brochures and changed their attitude to BRT - several seemed to assume that they would be running along the curb, and would eliminate parking. When they realized that the Center Lane BRT was an option, and that more parking would be available, they saw it differently.

I was very impressed and excited by the whole event. I'd say the people in that neighborhood were looking forward to a much more efficient way to get from their neighborhood into the downtown area. The mayor, by the way, specifically mentioned the plans to construct a high speed rail terminal in San Francisco, and that the plan is to run the BRT to the terminal.

If anyone can get a copy of the videotape of the meeting from NBC of the BRT presentation, go for it. It would do a lot to change people's attitude about BRT, in my opinion.