SFMTA is confident enough that they’ll finally finish the Van Ness Transit Project by April 1 that they’re already scheduling the ribbon-cutting and party ceremony, and after nearly 18 years of red tape, the red lanes will finally have buses cruising through them.
The Van Ness Rapid Transit Project has been such a running joke that you’d be skeptical of any announced completion date at this point, let alone an announced completion date of April Fool's Day. (After all, SFMTA’s “Van Ness Improvement Project Nears Completion” announcement is now nearly a year old.) But after years of snarling traffic and making life absolute hell for businesses on the corridor, KPIX reports that the Van Ness Transit Project does have an announced completion date of April 1, 2022.
That’s just 43 days from today!
Bus rapid transit on San Francisco’s Van Ness Avenue will finally open for service April 1, and it’s not a joke.https://t.co/v14GWaRsTo— San Francisco Chronicle (@sfchronicle) February 16, 2022
There has been no official online announcement, but SFMTA Director Jeffrey Tumlin confirmed this to the Chronicle on Tuesday. “We appreciate the tireless patience of businesses and business owners and residents along the corridor, but we are finally going to get service moving,” Tumlin told the Chron.
SFMTA is confident enough in this date that they’re planning a big party and to-do. “The festivities for the debut of Van Ness BRT will start the evening of March 31 when agency staff will light the public art sculptures that were installed between Geary and O’Farrell streets,” according to the Chronicle. “At 11 a.m. on April 1, a Friday, the SFMTA will hold the project’s ribbon-cutting ceremony in front of the War Memorial near Van Ness and Market streets.”
They are cutting a few minor corners to hit the April 1 target date. The bus shelters will not all have been placed or completed by that date because of supply-chain issues.
But hell, at this point, we’ll take it. As a reminder, you the San Francisco voters approved this project waaaay back in 2003. That is not a typo. The Van Ness Transit Project is literally older than pop singer Olivia Rodrigo.
And Christ has it been rough on businesses located on the Van Ness Avenue corridor. “Yeah, we lost some neighbors. I feel terrible for some of the businesses that maybe weren’t as established as ours,” Big Swingin’ Cycles owner Brian Bruckner told KPIX. ”Now we have this beautiful bus lane out here. You wonder if there’s enough people here left to use it. Downtown seems like a ghost town.”
There will of course be April Fool’s jokes. “It does strike me that opening Van Ness on April Fool’s Day is sort of like putting on a ‘kick me’ sign,” SFMTA board director Steve Heminger said Tuesday. But the Chron notes that SFMTA has invited both Gavin Newsom and Nancy Pelosi to their ribbon cutting ceremonies, so we’ll see if they fall for it.