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Van Ness Improvement Project
Project Introduction

Major upgrades are underway on Van Ness Avenue. This massive civic improvement project is bringing San Francisco its first Bus Rapid Transit system, a much-needed and globally-proven solution to improve transit service and address traffic congestion on Van Ness Avenue, a major north-south arterial. To maximize the benefits during construction, the project also includes extensive utility maintenance, civic improvements and safety enhancements that will revitalize this historic corridor.

VIDEO: Learn more about the Van Ness Improvement Project

Cost Estimate
$309.3 million
Current Phase or Stage
Predicted Completion
Project Status
Implementation / Construction


Van Ness Improvement Project Staff are Here to Help

Have a question about construction or the Van Ness Improvement Project? You may also contact project staff directly by emailing or calling 415.646.2310.


The illustration below shows the three construction phases and work you can expect to be conducted in each phase. 

Van Ness Project Timeline

Construction schedule showing three phases of construction. The first, utilities phase of construction is scheduled to complete mid-2020; the second and third phases of construction, BRT Build-out and Bus Power, are both scheduled to begin mid-2020 and end mid-2021

Roadway and Utility Work Phase:

  • Preparing the roadway for construction
  • Replacing more than 22,000-feet of 1800’s-era water main
  • Building an underground sewer system that could sustain a major earthquake and the impacts of climate change
  • Overhauling the emergency firefighting system that supplies water to over 1,200 fire hydrants
  • Updating streetlights with brighter, more efficient lights and adding sidewalk lighting
  • Installing an electrical duct bank that will power the traffic signals and overhead contact system

Once the utility work is completed, the sidewalk and roadway will be restored to begin the next phase of construction.

Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) Build Phase
  • Building red center-running Bus Rapid Transit lanes (see features of Bus Rapid Transit below)
  • Building station platforms and new medians

This BRT Build phase will begin as the Roadway and Utility Work phase is wrapping up and will last about six months.

Bus Power, Safety Enhancements and Beautification Phase
  • Replacing the aging overhead wire system that powers the buses
  • Installing new landscaping and rain gardens
  • Repaving Van Ness Avenue for a smoother ride
  • Building sidewalk extensions and painting crosswalks that will make streets safer for people walking
  • Training operators on the new system

Construction of the Van Ness Improvement Project is underway. The project received final environmental certification from the Federal Transit Administration on December 20, 2013. The SFMTA Board made the final legislative approval of the transit and safety improvements on November 18, 2014. After construction is completed, Bus Rapid Transit service is expected to begin 2022. 


Rendering of a Bus Rapid Transit boarding platform on Van Ness that shows two transit-only lanes in the center of Van Ness and a shelter with seating.

Bus Rapid Transit on Van Ness will be a part of Muni's Rapid Network, prioritizing frequency and reliability for customers. The planned improvements are expected to cut travel times for Golden Gate Transit and the 47, 49 and 90 Muni routes by 32 percent. 

Some features of Bus Rapid Transit on Van Ness will include:

  1. Dedicated transit-only lanes that are physically separated from the other traffic lanes, for use by Muni and Golden Gate Transit buses only.
  2. Enhanced traffic signals optimized for north-south travel with Transit Signal Priority, which gives buses the green light as they approach an intersection.
  3. Low-floor vehicles and all-door boarding, which will make it quicker and easier for passengers to load and unload at each stop.
  4. Safety enhancements for people walking like sidewalk extensions, median refuges, high visibility crosswalks and audible countdown signals.
  5. Fully furnished boarding platforms that include shelters, seating and NextMuni prediction displays located at key transfer points.


Diagram showing bus stop locations on Van Ness at Market, McAllister, Eddy, Geary-O'Farrell, Sutter, Sacramento, Jackson, Vallejo, and Union

The new Van Ness Bus Rapid Transit corridor will feature nine northbound and nine southbound boarding islands along the red, center-running transit-only lanes. These locations for station platforms are key transfer points in Muni's Rapid Network

Project video(s)
Project Details, History or Features


Funding for the core Van Ness Bus Rapid Transit project comes from a variety of sources including FTA Small Starts, San Francisco Prop K funds and developer contributions.

Projects associated with the Van Ness Improvement Project, including repaving Van Ness Avenue, new traffic signals, hardware and software, new transit vehicles and streetlight/pole replacement are funded by FTA Formula Funds, San Francisco Prop K funds and regional and statewide sources.


Historic photo of Van Ness Avenue and Oak Street

When it was first surveyed in 1856, Van Ness was intended to be the City’s spine. Mansions of prominent families populated the northern end while the southern had dense working-class housing. Serving as a firebreak after the 1906 earthquake, Van Ness saved the western part of the city. By the 1920s, grand auto showrooms peppering the corridor made Van Ness the west coast’s largest Auto Row. Once the Golden Gate Bridge was built, it shifted toward regional auto travel. Since the '90s, transportation plans prepared by the San Francisco County Transportation Authority and Muni recognized the need to establish rapid transit service on Van Ness Avenue. In 2003, 75 percent of voters approved the sales tax to plan rapid transit service on Van Ness Avenue. In September 2013, the Board of Supervisors, acting as the San Francisco County Transportation Authority Commission, unanimously approved the Van Ness Bus Rapid Transit Project, the core of the Van Ness Improvement Project.

Today, the Van Ness Avenue corridor serves as a vital connector of neighborhoods and a regional link for travel between Marin, San Francisco and San Mateo Counties. Van Ness Avenue is one of the busiest north-south corridors in the city, serving over 16,000 Muni customers daily on the 47 Van Ness49 Mission/Van Ness and 90 San Bruno Owl bus routes as well as Golden Gate Transit customers. It is part of the California State Highway System and of US Route 101, a primary artery that connects Interstate Highways 280 and 80 with the Golden Gate Bridge. 


The Polk Streetscape Project and Van Ness Improvement Project team meet regularly to coordinate project work. Please visit the Polk Streetscape Project construction information page for details. For a description of the project, project renderings and past meeting materials, please visit the Polk Streetscape Project page. 

CPMC's Van Ness and Geary Campus is currently under construction. Please visit CPMC's website for a description of the project and to sign up for their project updates.

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Contact Information
Van Ness Improvement Project