OpEd: Struggle for Better Transit Exemplifies Governmental Inefficiencies

brt44.jpgOn Saturday, July 29th, there was a town hall style meeting to discuss the state of research into a bus rapid transit system along Geary Boulevard in San Francisco. A lot of community members turned out, and there was a productive conversation. If you’d like some context, here’s Nick’s introduction to the proposed Geary BRT.
The planners and consultants involved in this process should be commended for identifying a great opportunity. Their presentation was impressive. BRT is not a major change – in fact it conservatively builds on infrastructure and capacity that already exists. Lovely. Let’s get it done.

Unfortunately it seems that the overwhelming inertia of the governmental process has unnecessarily postponed this concept for years. The feasibility study is considering 2011 as a target launch date. For anyone with experience in transit systems infrastructure, you might question why it should take 5 years to build new bus shelters along one of the city’s key transit corridors.
Apparently that’s just how it goes in San Francisco.
For details of the proposed “study schedule”, you can scroll half way down this page at SFCTA.org.
I understand and appreciate a rigorous planning process. The proposed timeframe for BRT implementation is outrageous. But why are they moving so slowly? This is one bus route. This incremental change to bus service is hardly going to affect San Francisco’s contribution to global warming. Stop inviting the public to debate issues that aren’t even debatable. Everyone supports BRT. I repeat, Let’s get it done.
I’m happy with San Francisco. I love the city. Hurrah, good job, now get to work already. 5 years and a lot of planning resources to incrementally improve one city bus route is an overly indulgent timeframe, don’t you think?
This guest Triple Pundit column was written by Jeffrey Osborne of the San Francisco management consulting firm Plan Resonate. Have ideas you’d like to see discussed at Triple Pundit? We’d love to see them. Email Nick (nick2 at 646industries).

Nick Aster is a new media architect and the founder of TriplePundit.com

TriplePundit.com has grown to become one of the web's leading sources of news and ideas on how business can be used to make the world a better place.

Prior to TriplePundit Nick worked for Mother Jones magazine, successfully re-launching the magazine's online presence. He worked for TreeHugger.com, managing the technical side of the publication for 3 years and has also been an active consultant for individuals and companies entering the world of micro-publishing. He earned his stripes working for Gawker Media and Moreover Technologies in the early days of blogging.

Nick holds an MBA in sustainable management from the Presidio School of Management and graduated with a BA in History from Washington University in St. Louis.

3 responses

  1. Indeed… it’s just bizarre that it takes that long. Granted, it’s s little more than just “bus shelters”. There is an entire lane of traffic to be removed and islands and landscaping installed. Of course, I could design that in a couple weeks myself, actually building it will take longer.
    There’s also the wee problem of what happens east of Van Ness – Geary is a very different street down there, but again, that’s a couple weeks of discussion.
    Finally, this isn’t the only thing taking up people’s time so you have to give ’em some leeway. If Geary BRT were the only thing on anyone’s plate then yeah, they should be able to crank it out, but there is much more going on at the same time.
    At any rate, 5 years is still ridiculous, I’d say 2 years makes sense!

  2. Yeah, 5 years is slow, 7 is lethargic. The planning process for this project actually began in 2004.
    It is more than just bus shelters, although that seems to be the only new infrastructure they’ve agreed to in the design. A renovated boulevard and street greening would be great, but my impression is that those dimensions of the plan are not being treated as essential.
    Either way, I know that the planners want this to happen sooner, and I’m sure they wish they had the funding to start today. It’s just strange to see the project process be designed with a 7 year timeframe, even with overwhelming public support behind it.

  3. You know…I went and looked up transit issues in another enviromental site like this and found something interesting in Sweden. They apparently use sewage to run their buses. Apparently Victoria, BC is going to take that idea and use it. I say along with the bus shelters in San Francisco, you could probably save some money by powering your buses with sewage (that is, if there is actually any problem with too much sewage in San Francisco)…hey, just an idea right…
    Here’s a link:

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