(BCN) — A proposal which aims to improve the speed and reliability of public transit along San Francisco’s busy Geary Boulevard will be considered Tuesday by the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency Board of Directors.

San Francisco Muni’s Geary Boulevard Improvement Project is a response to gaps in service on the 38 Geary and 38R Geary Rapid bus lines. To provide faster service, the project would extend side-running transit lines and optimize bus stop locations, among other changes.

The board will be faced with a controversial decision whether to delay the implementation of some transit lanes. The agency faced backlash from some merchants over the conversion of parking spots from slanted to parallel, which staff said is necessary to add new lanes, according to the transit agency’s website.

The original project proposal resulted in a net loss of 70 parking spaces along the stretch of Geary from 15th to 28th avenues. Following discussions with small business owners and the office of San Francisco Supervisor Connie Chan, project planners brought that number down to 31, according to a press release from Chan’s office and the San Francisco Muni website. This would leave less than one parking space per block on average.

Many of these spaces are 10 or more blocks away from the busiest merchant section of Geary, according to the press release.

The proposed project consists of three parts– a “quick build” phase, which includes the parking conversion; a water and sewer update phase beginning in 2025, and a transit and safety improvements phase including upgraded traffic signals and roadway repaving beginning in the middle of 2026.

Chan and others are advocating that the transit agency delay the parking spot changes until the water and sewer part of the project is completed, citing concerns about bringing foot traffic to local businesses.

In a letter to Mayor London Breed, Chan noted that although “many neighborhood commercial corridors in the Richmond District have been resilient and thrived, central Geary continues to see vacant storefronts and less foot traffic.”

The staff report to the San Francisco Muni Board of Directors advises them to not delay any of the “quick build” changes, including the parking spot conversion, which are slated to begin this fall.

They recommend that the board choose this option to “act with urgency” with the goal of decreasing traffic injuries and improving transit travel time, according to the staff report.

In comparing the two options, the report noted that the staff recommendation would save 22.7 hours of yearly travel time for a daily Geary 38R bus rider versus 15.7 hours for the delayed implementation option.

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