Night Mode Night Mode
Day Mode Day Mode

After years of construction, Van Ness Improvement Project one week to public launch

People have been stopping along Van Ness Avenue for weeks now to snap photos of fresh transit-only lanes, new Muni transit shelters and now 60-foot trolley buses zooming by on the new red, center-running Bus Rapid Transit corridor.

The San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency is still testing its trolley buses along the corridor before the big opening day.

In one week, Muni and Golden Gate Transit passengers will get a chance to ride buses along the corridor as the project is finalized and opened to the public on April 1.

The project has been a long time coming, with discussion and reports dating back to the 1990s. Construction officially began on the $346 million Van Ness Improvement Project in late 2016, but the bulk of work got going the following year with groundbreaking in March 2017. 

With planning and construction delays — caused largely by replacement and upgrading of old sewer and water main lines — behind the agency now, SFMTA Service Planner Matthew Lee said Tuesday afternoon that crews are focused on final touches like bus signage and traffic striping.

On a ride-along with Lee down the center lanes, crews were seen striping for pedestrian crosswalks and accessible curb ramps.

The project included measures to make it safer and easier for people to cross Van Ness Avenue with sidewalk extensions, curb ramps and median pedestrian refuges. 

Jerold Chinn/SFBay A Muni bus rapid transit bus in testing passes through the intersection of Van Ness Avenue and Broadway in San Francisco, Calif., on March 22, 2022. (Jerold Chinn/SFBay)

Erica Kato, chief SFMTA spokesperson said:

“Accessibility has been a huge feature for this project. We really want to make it easier for people crossing the street.”

Transit operators are still testing switches and transit traffic signals that allow buses to eventually turn around to correct schedule delays and in case of emergencies. Lee said some of the switches have not been yet used in over six years. Testing of the overhead power supply continues.

Fourteen buses were running down Van Ness Tuesday, including a few 40-foot electric trolley buses. Lee said when the corridor opens to the public, only 60-foot electric trolley buses will run on the 49-Van Ness/Mission — the bus line that will use the center-running lanes.

Lee said operators are providing feedback about where paint markings and night visibility can be improved.

Lee said he and operators training along the route are getting nothing but positive reactions from the public, with people taking selfies with buses and sharing photos and videos on Twitter.

He said:

“People are just excited to see the buses just running up and down the corridor.”

Transit officials expect a 32 percent savings in travel time for Muni passengers.

The SFMTA is inviting the public to a ribbon cutting event on the morning of April 1. Revenue service will begin shortly after the event. 

Haight Airbnb
Scroll to top