Businesses Irked Over Transit-Only Lanes in SF’s Richmond District

Some businesses in San Francisco's Richmond district are voicing serious concerns over the so-called "red carpet" transit bus lanes slated to go in front of their businesses.

Co-owners of a Shell gas station on Geary Boulevard recently got the federal government to step in.

The red transit-only lanes already are painted on Mission Street, and while the SFMTA says the lanes have reduced Muni accidents, some business owners are not happy.

"I've seen what it’s done in the Mission, and it's a job killer, simple as that," said David Heller, owner of the Beauty Network.

Heller and other business owners worry the lanes will keep customers away.

"It’s going to be a deterrent," Shell station owner Corey Urban said.

SFMTA plans to add red lanes on Geary between Stanyan and Market streets. The lanes are an experiment, sponsored in part by the federal government, aiming to reduce traffic and speed up bus rides.

Urban and his brother did some digging into whether the city was following the federal government’s rules.

"There are protocols to go through with this experiment, and the protocols are you have to take data and compare that data to the exact same circumstances," Urban said. "The SFMTA was trying to skirt the protocols, and my brother and I basically contacted the federal highway administration."

The SFMTA acknowledged there was a misunderstanding.

"It was very easy for us to go back and get the before data to look at transit travel times, safety and compliance and move forward with those projects," said Erica Kato, deputy spokesperson for the agency.

Kato said the project was not delayed and is still slated for completion in 2021.

Urban said the red lane may inevitably be installed but added he wants to see the data collected that justifies the red paint is going to speed up buses.

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