Geary Boulevard Improvement Project
Quick-Build treatments like new transit lanes, bus stop relocations, left-turn restrictions and daylighting for pedestrian safety are underway. Get the latest updates on Quick-Build installation.
The SFMTA is working to implement transit and safety improvements along the Geary corridor. The first phase of work, called the Geary Rapid Project, was completed on schedule in fall 2021 and resulted in significant transit and safety improvements, including up to 18% faster bus travel times, a 37% improvement in transit reliability, and an 81% reduction in excessive speeding by private vehicles.
The Geary Boulevard Improvement Project is the second phase of work, aiming to extend those benefits to the western part of the corridor between Stanyan Street and 34th Avenue in the Richmond by improving Muni’s 38 Geary bus service and addressing traffic safety. The SFMTA conducted several rounds of outreach between 2021 and 2023, asking neighbors about their priorities for Geary. We have used this feedback to draft the detailed project design, which includes new side-running transit lanes and bus stop changes.
The Geary Boulevard Improvement Project, including the complete Quick-Build component, was unanimously approved by the SFMTA Board at the August 15 meeting.
Learn more about the key project proposals:
- View the block-by-block project drawings (or read the accessible text version)
- Design changes in response to public feedback
- How do project features work to provide a faster bus ride and a safer corridor?
- Learn about parking impacts
- Sign up to get text or email updates
The project schedule will include:
- Quick-Build installation of additional transit lanes, bus stop changes, transit signal optimization, retimed pedestrian signals to give people walking more time to cross the street and other safety improvements in 2023
- ~2 years to complete detailed design
- Construction coordinated at the end of SFPUC's planned ~2.5 year water and sewer utility upgrade project
Geary Boulevard between 34th Avenue and Stanyan Street.
Frequently Asked Questions
Jump to topics using the linked list below:
1. Geary transit service is already pretty good. Why are more improvements needed?
The SFMTA has been working to improve bus service for customers through service adjustments and roadway projects such as the Geary Rapid Project between Market and Stanyan streets and the 38 Geary Transit Lanes in parts of the Richmond. Yet, Muni customers riding the 38 Geary and 38R Geary Rapid bus lines can still experience gaps in service due to inconsistent delays to buses. This can contribute to crowding and slower travel times. There is also an imperative to increase the attractiveness of public transportation in order to mitigate the harmful impacts of climate change that are becoming a part our daily reality. The Geary Boulevard Improvement Project aims to further improve bus performance by extending the existing side-running transit lanes through the Richmond and colorizing them red, optimizing bus stop locations, constructing bus bulbs at 38R Geary Rapid bus stops and installing some right-turn pockets to reduce conflicts with turning vehicles. These changes all work together to provide a faster and more reliable ride.
2. Are side-running transit lanes less effective than center-running transit lanes at improving transit performance?
Evaluation of the side-running transit lanes installed on Geary as part of the 38 Geary Transit Lanes and Geary Rapid projects indicate that they have improved bus travel time and reliability. The SFMTA is now recommending side-running instead of center-running transit lanes in the Geary Boulevard Improvement Project limits.
While center-running transit lanes are estimated to provide a slightly greater amount of travel time improvement (25% for center-running vs. 22% for the recommended side-running design), transit reliability improvements are estimated to be comparable (20-40% improvement depending on local vs. Rapid, inbound vs. outbound). With a side-running alternative, both Rapid and local bus services can remain, while center-running would have required Rapid and local services to be consolidated since buses would not be able to pass one another in the center median transitway.
In addition, a side-running project allows transit and safety benefits to begin years sooner than a center-running project, which would be more costly, take longer to construct, and would require the project and other coordinated utility work to be completely built before transit lanes are operational. Side-running transit lanes could be implemented over the course of a couple months after project approval.
Map showing proposed new transit lanes on Geary. If implemented, transit lanes would be nearly continuous between 33rd Avenue and Market Street. Download a PDF version.
3. How does this project improve safety and accessibility for people walking?
The Geary Boulevard Improvement Project is a critical component of the City’s efforts to achieve its Vision Zero goal to eliminate traffic deaths. This segment of Geary is part of the High-Injury Network – the 13% of city streets that account for 75% of severe and fatal collisions. From 2010 to 2021, there were 437 injury collisions with 578 people injured and five people killed on this segment of Geary Boulevard from 34th Avenue to Stanyan Street, 145 of which were pedestrians. This means, on average, one person walking is injured in a traffic collision within the project area each month. This represents a disproportionately higher collision rate relative to the rest of San Francisco.
The Geary Boulevard Improvement Project aims to improve safety for people walking by redesigning intersections to make them safer, introducing new pedestrian bulb-outs, daylighting and expanded median refuges. In addition, traffic signals will be retimed and coordinated throughout the corridor to provide more time for people of all abilities to cross safely, including near senior centers. Left-turn restrictions at some intersections would reduce conflicts between vehicles and people walking, and improve traffic safety by increasing driver visibility and providing space for larger center median pedestrian refuges.
4. What are the overall parking impacts?
Parking loss is a trade-off for better bus service and safer streets for people walking. These goals would be accomplished mostly by:
- Extending side-running transit lanes on Geary into the Central Richmond where there is currently a gap. To provide a transit lane and two general purpose lanes per direction, angled parking would be converted to parallel.
- Installing pedestrian bulb-outs at some intersections and daylighting at all intersections to improve safety for people walking. Safety improvements would account for about 40% of overall project parking loss.
- Lengthening substandard bus stops so that articulated buses can pull up to the curb to serve passengers. Busy 38R Rapid stops would be lengthened to allow two buses to load at a time, with new bus bulb-outs installed.
The Geary project team has studied every available option to minimize parking loss incurred by the project. To help offset parking removals, additional parking is proposed to be added to some cross streets by converting some parallel parking near Geary to angled parking. This has brought the net reduction of parking down to 31 spaces, or less than one parking space per block on average.
We have also heard from small businesses about the importance of maintaining customer access to their storefronts. The SFMTA conducted a merchant loading survey to identify places where curb space changes, such as adding more passenger or commercial loading zones, can help meet the needs of local businesses.
5. Why can’t a transit lane be added while retaining angled parking?
If all project proposals except the conversion of angled to parallel parking moved forward, about 13 parking spaces would be retained. While Geary Boulevard is wide, the public right-of-way is still constrained by the property lines of the stores and homes on each side of the street. There is limited space for sidewalks, parking, vehicle travel lanes and streetscape elements.
It would be technically possible to reconstruct the street to free up space for a transit lane to exist alongside angled parking and two vehicle travel lanes by either removing the entire center median and all left-turn opportunities, or reducing the width of both the median and sidewalks. However, these designs are not recommended because they would make the street less safe and comfortable to travel on as a pedestrian or a vehicle driver. They would add additional costs and construction disruption to reconstruct the roadway and relocate existing utilities, streetlights and traffic signal infrastructure. There would also be traffic circulation challenges and dozens of mature trees would have to be removed, among other impacts.
6. How does moving a bus stop from nearside to far-side improve transit performance?
Moving stops from the near-side of the street to the far-side lets buses clear an intersection before stopping. It also allows buses to benefit from transit signal priority technology, where buses communicate with the signal to make them more likely to catch a green light. If a bus has to serve a stop before the intersection, there is no way for the bus to be able to communicate to the signal because the amount of time a bus needs to wait at a stop for passengers to load/unload is variable. Moving stops far-side also removes conflicts with vehicles turning right, which can cause vehicle queuing and pedestrian safety issues when vehicles try to pass around the bus and through the crosswalk.
Map showing proposed bus stop changes, including removing the stops at 12th Avenue, to improve travel time and reliability. Download a PDF version.
7. How does restricting left-turns improve traffic safety?
On average, one person is injured in a collision each month on Geary. In places where both eastbound and westbound vehicles on Geary can turn left, they often face each other nose-to-nose as they wait for a gap in traffic. When an opposing vehicle is obstructing the driver’s view, drivers have three different conflicts to consider as they make their turn: pedestrians in the crosswalk, opposing through traffic, and opposing left-turns. This can lead to drivers making quick or uninformed decisions which can sometimes lead to collisions. One tool the SFMTA can use to improve pedestrian safety is left-turn restrictions, which reduces conflicts between vehicles and people walking, and improves driver visibility.
In other locations on Geary where similar turn restrictions have been implemented, the number of reported vehicle collisions related to left-turn movements have been reduced and there have been no subsequent reported pedestrian collisions. Based on these positive results, the Geary Boulevard Improvement Project proposes to remove one left-turn opportunity among each “couplet” (where existing conditions allow both eastbound and westbound left-turns at two adjacent intersections) within the project limits. Collision history and access implications were considered in selecting which direction among each couplet is recommended to be restricted.
Turn restrictions also create space to construct larger median pedestrian refuge islands, so that people crossing Geary have a safe place to wait in the middle of the street in case they cannot walk across the roadway in one traffic signal cycle. This is especially important near senior centers.
Map showing proposed new turn restrictions on Geary and places where left turns could still be made. Download a PDF version.
8. Are there any benefits for people riding bikes?
Geary is a wide street and serves high traffic volumes, therefore parallel corridors (such as Anza Street) are better designed for east-west bike routes. Geary Boulevard Improvement Project bicycle improvements focus on people biking across Geary along north-south bike routes including 8th, 15th, 23rd and 34th avenues. These improvements include daylighting and advanced limit lines, as sharrows have already been installed.
9. Would any trees be removed or additional trees planted?
One small Victorian box tree would be removed within the southwest corner of the Park Presidio greenway near 14th Avenue at Geary to facilitate the relocation of a Bay Wheels bike share station. Two new trees would be planted in the same vicinity.
10. Why is the project not pursuing approval at the San Francisco County Transportation Authority Board, as previously indicated?
The Geary Boulevard Improvement Project includes a package of transit and safety improvements that are similar to what is identified as Alternative 2 in the Geary Bus Rapid Transit Environmental Impact Report (EIR). The Geary BRT EIR was prepared in compliance with the California Environmental Quality Act by the San Francisco County Transportation Authority and certified in 2017. The project team had originally planned to use the Geary BRT EIR’s analysis of Alternative 2 to support the SFMTA Board’s approval of parking and traffic legislation that is required prior to implementing the project. However, in late 2022, Senate Bill 922 was enacted, providing a statutory exemption from CEQA for sustainable transportation projects such as the Geary Boulevard Improvement Project. Therefore, instead of relying on the Geary BRT EIR, the SFMTA is working with the San Francisco Planning Department to prepare a Statutory Exemption as allowed for by this newly available legislation.
11. What decision will the SFMTA Board of Directors be asked to make?
SFMTA staff plan to bring two options forward for the SFMTA Board’s policy direction:
Option 1 – Staff recommendation: Approve the project as recommended by SFMTA staff and implement all new transit lanes in 2023.
Option 2 – Delayed transit lanes option: Approve the project, but direct staff to delay implementation of some transit lanes until the start of SFPUC water and sewer construction.
Option 2 is being provided as an option for the SFMTA Board’s policy direction given the high level of stakeholder input and concern around the proposed conversion of angled parking to parallel parking to make room for a transit lane. If this option is selected, the project’s Quick-Build phase would still occur around fall 2023 with bus stop relocations, bus zone lengthening, new angled parking on some cross streets, turn restrictions, daylighting, and implementation of select transit lanes. Remaining transit lane implementation would occur at the start of planned SFPUC construction in the corridor.
Locations of transit lanes that would be delayed under Option 2. Locations that would be implemented during Quick-Build are primarily locations where the parallel configuration would yield more parking spaces than angled (such as blocks with relocated bus stops).
More information will be provided in the staff report for the item, which will be published on the August 15 Board meeting page about a week before the meeting.
12. What is the Quick-Build phase of the project and what are the benefits of implementing it soon?
The Quick-Build phase is designed to deliver transit and safety benefits to the Geary corridor as quickly as possible. Changes such as new transit lanes, relocating bus stops from the near side to the far-side of an intersection, and “daylighting” curbs at intersections for pedestrian safety can make a big impact with only paint and signs. To reduce parking impacts, replacement parking on cross streets will also be installed as part of the Quick-Build, before transit lanes are installed. The new transit lanes would initially be striped with only white paint and stenciling to avoid significant re-work. Then after utility and repaving work is completed, the lanes would receive their final red treatment. The remaining non-transit lane work would occur outside the footprint of where SFPUC’s excavation work is planned.
Implementing Quick-Build improvements soon is important to:
- Support the city’s economic recovery by improving transit travel time and reliability: Analysis of sales tax data in other corridors where similar improvements were made (such as along Mission Street and Taraval Street) found that sales tax receipts were similar or higher than citywide trends after these projects were implemented.
- Act with urgency to decrease traffic violence in the project area: To make progress on San Francisco’s Vision Zero policy to eliminate severe and fatal traffic collisions, we must implement safety improvements as quickly as possible on this high-injury corridor.
- Protect buses from delays during construction and allow more parking to be retained during construction. Currently, there are only two travel lanes per direction on most blocks between 28th and 15th avenues. By converting angled parking to parallel, an additional lane can be added, which would allow greater flexibility to retain parking and maintain through traffic while work is being performed.
- Be able to move forward with grant-funded signal re-timing to provide more time for people walking to cross the street. Funding from a grant to retime traffic signals will expire after 2023, so signal retiming work must be completed by the end of this year. This work must be done in sync with bus stop relocations included in the Quick-Build phase or transit performance would worsen. That’s because signal timing that optimizes for transit must assume an average time between stops and is dependent on whether stops are near-side or far-side.
13. When would construction start and how long would it last?
Some “Quick-Build” improvements—such as transit lanes, bus stop changes and painted safety zones—could be installed within a couple months after the project is approved by the SFMTA Board. The current side-running transit lanes project focuses construction at only spot locations where items like bus or pedestrian bulbs would be installed, which would result in substantially less construction disruption than a center-running design.
While construction of Geary Boulevard Improvement Project elements on their own would only take about a year, the work is expected to be coordinated with extensive utility work sponsored by the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission. Much of the water and sewer lines under Geary Boulevard are over 100 years old—among the oldest 2% of pipes in the City and in urgent need of rehabilitation. Combining this work will minimize disruption to the community by only digging up the street once. Construction of the combined work is expected to begin around 2025 and last about three years. The SFMTA will be working closely with the SFPUC to develop a construction mitigation plan to minimize construction-related impacts, similar to what has been done for past projects.
14. Could Geary be upgraded to rail service in the future?
The ConnectSF Transit Investment Strategy calls for investment in a Geary-19th Avenue subway to provide fast, high-capacity service and improve regional access, but would take more than a decade to deliver at minimum. A side-running bus lane project would complement such an investment by providing needed transit benefits to this busy corridor much sooner for a relatively low cost. In addition, the alignment and stations of a Geary-19th Avenue subway have not yet been determined, but are not expected to serve the entire length of the Geary corridor. Therefore, Geary bus service would continue to be an important link connecting the western Richmond District to any future rail, and buses would likely retain high ridership as a surface-level alternative, similar to the 14 Mission buses above BART.