Bus operations testing was recently conducted by San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency (SFMTA) Muni and Golden Gate Transit staff, marking an important step towards the Van Ness Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) corridor opening this spring.
The testing included emergency turns and maneuvers, repositioning buses, verifying signals are working, clearances between passing buses and safe turns while bike racks are deployed.
The training also included several staff. Traffic engineers made sure traffic and transit signals were working and reviewed street markings. Transportation planners coordinated closely with operations, training, engineering and construction staff to make necessary adjustments. Outreach staff and ambassadors answered questions and made sure customers knew testing was taking place. Field managers and operators provided suggestions for improvements based on experience.
Since most Muni operators are new to operating a bus on a BRT corridor, operators will be trained on the new system over the coming weeks. To ensure that their training is as robust as possible, trainers from Muni and Golden Gate Transit participated in the testing activities to see what additional skills operators will need to learn.
The Van Ness Improvement Project is bringing San Francisco’s first BRT corridor that will improve transit service and address traffic congestion on Van Ness Avenue, in addition to providing extensive utility upgrades, civic improvements and safety enhancements.
SFMTA says it knows that this project has been a long ride for the community and is eagerly preparing for several opening activities to celebrate the new BRT corridor. These will include a ribbon-cutting, lighting of the public light sculpture, family-friendly activities and ways to support Van Ness businesses.
During testing, ambassadors heard lots of positive feedback from people walking. A parent remarked that it would be easier to take her daughter to school on the bus, while someone else noted that an ambulance successfully used the red lanes to cut through traffic. Someone else commented that the BRT system, despite delays, “was well worth the wait.”
In the meantime, there remain a few more specific turns that need to be tested, so if buses are in the median, do not attempt to board them. Sidewalk signage is directing customers to the correct stops that are currently boarding from the sidewalk curb.