Tonight: SFMTA to preview final plans for first phase of 38-Geary makeoverPhoto: Carrie Sisto/Hoodline
Carrie Sisto
Published on August 02, 2018

Tonight, the SFMTA will host the first of two final project showcases for the first phase of a project aimed at speeding transit times along the busy 38-Geary bus route. The final project design is expected to be presented to the SFMTA board for consideration this month.

The first of the two showcases will be held tonight, August 2, from 6:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. at the Salvation Army Kroc Center Gymnasium (240 Turk St.) The second will be held this Saturday, August 4, from 2:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m. in the Hotel Kabuki’s Sakura Room A (1625 Post St.)

The 38-Geary route is the busiest bus line in San Francisco, with as many as 54,000 people commuting on it daily, according to the SFMTA. The line is prone to delays from traffic, which this new project aims to address.

As we previously reported, the Geary Bus Rapid Transit project will ultimately stretch the length of the 38-Geary and 38R-Geary Rapid bus routes. But given the significant length of the line, the project has been split into two phases. 

The designs unveiled at this week's showcases will detail improvements along the red route highlighted above. | Story Images: SFMTA

The SFMTA Board approved the initial design plans for the first of the two phases, the Geary Rapid Project, in July 2017. Its improvements will include dedicated bus lanes and changes in bus stop locations.

It will also offer pedestrian safety additions, such as bulb-outs at intersections, pedestrian islands on busy streets, and longer lead times for pedestrian crossing at major cross-streets along Geary and some portions of O’Farrell Street (between Market and Stanyan streets). 

A rendering of the Geary and Buchanan stop with safety improvements.

SFMTA gathered community feedback on the proposed Geary Rapid Project changes during two open houses this summer, in stakeholder meetings, and through a survey.

The project’s final federal environmental review was completed in June, and while additional approvals may be needed prior to construction, the final designs could be approved by the SFMTA board before the end of August.

There have been some notable revisions to the proposal, in response to concerns raised by community members. They include maintaining the current inbound bus stop at Gough and Starr King Way, adding a bus bulb-out (rather than a boarding island) at the Laguna inbound stop, and the retention of the stop at Commonwealth and Stanyan streets, which the SFMTA had proposed to eliminate due to low utilization. 

Showcase attendees will see detailed proposals for site design and safety improvements.

The second phase of the project, known as the Geary Boulevard Improvement Project, will install bus-only lanes running in the middle of Geary Boulevard west of Stanyan to 34th Avenue. This will cut the three lanes of traffic in each direction down to two. 

That lane reduction is the subject of an ongoing lawsuit from several business owners neighbors in the area. Their organization, San Franciscans For Sensible Transit, opposes the Geary Rapid project due to the business interruptions it could cause during construction, as well as the loss of parking spaces, which the group argues would reduce business traffic and concerns regarding the city's environmental impact assessment.

A diagram of the proposed Geary Boulevard Improvement Project changes.

The lawsuit, filed in February 2017, complains that while analyzing the environmental impact of different options for the 38-Geary route, the SFMTA should have evaluated the potential of not changing the route at all.

According to court documents, a hearing in the case is scheduled for August 9, 2018 in the San Francisco Superior Court.