Sunday, October 01, 2006


The Geary Citizens Advisory Committee meets to discuss the proposed construction of a BRT line on Geary Boulevard in San Francisco. The meetings take place at 100 Van Ness Avenue in San Francisco, the headquarters of AAA of Northern California.

There were about 12 members of the Advisory Committee in attendance, along with the Executive Director of the San Francisco County Transportation Authority (SFCTA) and Julie Kirschbaum, a Senior Transportation Planner with SFCTA. One member of the committee was openly opposed to BRT - I believe that he made a motion that the Chair be removed because he was not neutral on the issue of BRT, but the motion died for lack of a second. A few seemed skeptical.

Several members of the committee expressed concerned about current problems with MUNI. They were worried that MUNI's poor performance was going to weaken public support for any new transportation initiatives such as BRT. (See "Year-end report tells troubling tale for Muni August 16, 2006" at

During the public comment period, someone from a group called Committee to Save Geary Blvd spoke in opposition to any changes on Geary Boulevard.

The staff presented data on delay times experienced by autos at different intersections along Geary at present and what they were projected to be with Center Lane BRT. They also screened a video simulation of what Center Lane BRT would look like in operation and mentioned the fact that there was an engineering problem with Center Lane BRT at the intersection of Geary and Masonic which had to do with the time it would take pedestrians to cross Geary.

Aside from the Geary and Masonic intersection, no other serious obstacles seemed to exist. With a dedicated lane BRT system in place, riders on the Geary line will experience significantly reduced travel times.

During the public comment period I introduced myself as the Co-Chair of an East Bay group called Friends of BRT which was supporting the introduction of BRT in the East Bay. I gave a copy of the Friends of BRT brochure to Ms. Kirschbaum and to a member of the Advisory Committee named Brian Larkin. I left copies of the brochure on an information table at the entrance to the meeting room. In particular I brought up the role that BRT can play in reducing carbon dioxide emissions from transportation and mentioned the role that transportation is playing in causing global warming.

Roy Nakadegawa, former member of both the BART and AC Transit Board of Directors, attended the meeting. During a conversation after the meeting with the Executive Director of SFCTA, he mentioned the fact that he had met with someone involved with BRT in Ottawa who had told him that due to the increased speed of service with the BRT that operating costs were reduced such that the busway would pay for itself in 20 years. If I understand the point correctly, the fact that the buses are moving faster means that you need fewer of them. I am going to interview Roy on this point and post a note expanding on it.

After the meeting, a member of the committee told me that she had never thought about the role that BRT could play in reducing carbon dioxide emissions. She thanked me for making that connection for her.

Len Conly


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