Full-Featured Bus Rapid Transit in San Francisco, California: Toward a Comprehensive Planning Approach and Evaluation Framework

Document Type

Journal Article

Publication Date


Subject Area

land use - planning, ridership - commuting, economics - appraisal/evaluation, mode - bus, mode - bus rapid transit


Transportation planning, Strategies, Strategic planning, San Francisco (California), Project development, Priorities, Objectives, Multimodal transportation, Multimodal systems, Impact studies, Goals, Bus rapid transit


San Francisco, California, has two full-featured bus rapid transit (BRT) projects under development that would convert two major auto-oriented arterials into attractive multimodal corridors. BRT on Geary Boulevard, San Francisco’s primary east–west thoroughfare, and on Van Ness Avenue, a north–south connector, aims to improve transit, enhance pedestrian access, and install a package of urban design features to improve services for existing riders and attract new riders. Feasibility studies conducted for both corridors include a consistent planning framework for developing BRT on these corridors to meet broad multimodal goals. This paper describes the approach to developing full-featured BRT alternatives in these two distinct corridors. It also describes the evaluation framework, which is grounded in the project goals, and consists of seven categories, each with methodologies designed to meaningfully capture and compare the effects of BRT alternatives against the broad set of qualitative and quantitative goals. These categories include transit performance, rider experience, pedestrian access, urban design, traffic and parking impacts, and construction impacts. Going beyond the traditional evaluation criteria to include subcriteria like access to employment, landscaping, wayfinding ability, and equity helps to understand the degree to which each alternative achieves project goals and to anticipate opposition to the project by producing a complete impact evaluation.