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San Francisco [US] - Construction of future BRT line 49 commences

K. Budach - 18.07.16

In June 2016, road works started on Van Ness Ave. This roughly 3 km long traffic artery has separate bus lanes and the existing trolleybus route 49 is presently being upgraded to BRT standard. Construction works started at the mid point of the avenue, at the intersection with Sutter Street. From there, work will push both north and south, as one lane will be closed to traffic while improvements are implemented. Once this process has been completed, the other lane will be closed to traffic and brought up to the same spec. Because extensive pipework and relaying of utility lines has to be completed first, the creation of segregated bus lanes and the installation of revamped trolleybus catenary won't happen till 2018.

In light of these disruptions, diesel and hybrid buses have momentarily taken over for trolleys on route 49 and the 33 type Skoda ETI 15Tr-SF articulated units dating from 2002/03 have been withdrawn and mothballed at remote depots. It is possible that the service retirement of these high floor units could become permanent, as the acquisition of more low floor type Xcelsior XT60 trolleys from New Flyer is seriously being considered. These modern trolleys would then run on the future BRT line 49. Additionally, the replacement of the 273 older Skoda ETI 14Tr-SF single units dating from 2000 to 2002 is also being evaluated. The replacement would be more Xcelsior XT40, for which contractual options exist from the ongoing joint procurement with Seattle.

As of April 2016, the rush hour headway has been intensified on the bus route 2. At peak times, booster services run every 7.5 minutes, at all other times there is a regular 15-minute interval between Presidio Ave/California Street as well as Sutter Street/Presidio Ave and Mission & Main Street. Along this diesel bus route, trolleybuses can be deployed and make use of the existing power lines. The complete conversion to electric services has been considered during the past few years, but has yet to be implemented.

Top: Along Van Ness Ave, the trees have already been cut down, although replacement plants have been promised once construction works are complete. On 9 June 2016, the articulated type ETI 15Tr-SF trolley Nr. 7118 is seen at the intersection with California Street. Picture: Martin Schmelter.
Bottom: On those trolleybus routes that require articulated buses due to high demand, the withdrawal of the 33 older ETI 15Tr-SF units has been made possible by the sufficient availability of the brand new Xcelsior XT60 from New Flyer. Here 7133 is seen from the year. This is incidentally the youngest of these 15-year old Skoda trolleys. Picture: Kai Budach

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