Parking-First “Save Polk Street” Crowd Attacks Van Ness BRT

by : sf.streetsblog – excerpt

“Save Polk Street” has aimed its parking-first agenda at Van Ness Bus Rapid Transit. A couple dozen speakers protested the project an SFMTA hearing last week, distributing fearmongering flyers [PDF] claiming that removing some parking and banning left turns would “kill small businesses,” back up car traffic, and make the street more dangerous.

The long-delayed Van Ness BRT project was already approved two years ago by the boards of the SFMTA and the SF County Transportation Authority. Last week’s hearing was on specific street changes [PDF], like removing parking for station platforms and pedestrian bulb-outs. No action was taken by the hearing officers, but the street changes are expected to go to the SFMTA Board of Directors for approval in October…

Save Polk Street, a group of car-obsessed merchants, successfully watered down plans for protected bike lanes on Polk in favor of preserving parking. The group has ignored statistics – like SFMTA studies showing that 85 percent of people arrive on Polk without a car, or a count of 4,300 parking spaces within a block of Polk between Union and McAllister Streets. Only 1,900 of those parking spaces are on-street, and on-street spaces along Polk and Van Ness make up a fraction of the total.

Most of the complaints about Van Ness BRT were about removing parking and banning left turns, and claimed that transit doesn’t need the estimated 30 percent speed increase. Some also complained about removing five of 16 bus stops to streamline the route…

The changes at the hearing are expected to be approved at an SFMTA Board hearing on October 7.

Why the Van Ness BRT is bad flyer:
http://sf.streetsblog.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/08/vannessflier1.jpg

We shall see in November who is the minority when the voters decide whether to continue funding SFMTA projects or stop them from further traffic disruptions, such as the Van Ness BRT, by voting Yes on L: http://www.restorebalance14.org/

 

 

Stop the Van Ness BRT. Let your city, state and federal representatives know that you oppose any changes on Van Ness. “Van Ness (and Lombard) are considered part of the Federal and State highway system. They are designated as 101 because they form the official link where 101 ends to where it resumes at the GG Bridge.”

 

Palo Alto inks $500K deal to loosen traffic gridlock, explores parking fixes

: bizjournals – excerpt

Try driving through Palo Alto during rush hour and you’re likely in for some quality time behind the wheel.

The wealthy Peninsula city known for its concentration of high-paying jobs is a poster child — along with other Silicon Valley office hubs like Mountain View and Sunnyvale — for the traffic gridlock that results from decades of unbalanced economic development.

Because Palo Alto has a very limited supply of homes priced under $1 million, tech workers, professional service providers, hospitality workers and Stanford academics alike commute into the city each day for work, leading to clogged streets and packed parking lots. As I have reported, the city had 3.1 jobs for every one housing unit as of 2012, U.S…

Recognizing that keeping commuters employers happy is a good thing for the city’s tax base, Palo Alto officials are working on multiple fronts to curb traffic woes and parking shortages fueled by the jobs-housing mismatch.

This month, the city approved a $499,880, three-year contract with Berkeley-based consulting firm Moore Lacofano Goltsman Inc. (MIG) to organize a downtown nonprofit Transportation Management Association, according to a report by Palo Alto Weekly. The city aims for the group to “coordinate incentives for downtown employees to switch from cars to other modes of transportation,” the paper adds.

“The city, employers and transit agencies have already promoted trip reduction and alternative options,” according to a memo on the need for the new downtown Transportation Management Association. “Yet, these initiatives are not comprehensive in nature and have not been effective from a district-wide standpoint.”…

Urban planning advocates throughout Silicon Valley are urging area cities to consider transit-oriented development and other means of reducing productivity-sapping traffic. But with disjointed public transit sometimes forcing commuters to switch between multiple systems — commuter rail, light rail, buses, bike sharing, etc. — the question is whether alternatives to driving are really practical(more)

At some point you have to questions the wisdom of continuing the same tactics when traffic is getting progressively worse. No tactics are in order. November elections will bring a fresh look at the driver backlash in many localities. A list of local election issues is coming soon. Stay tuned to metermadness.

VTA celebrates final funding amount toward BART Silicon Valley Extension

mercurynews – excerpt

The Santa Clara Valley Transportation Authority last Wednesday hosted an event to celebrate the sixth and final state funding allocation of $39 million for the agency’s Bay Area Rapid Transit Silicon Valley Extension.

The event, held at the future Berryessa BART Station at 1411 Maybury Road in San Jose, included the California Transportation Commission representatives, Congressman Mike Honda, California Department of Transportation Secretary Brian Kelly, San Jose Mayor Chuck Reed and other local and state officials.

The $39 million will bring the total amount of the State of California’s Traffic Congestion Relief Program funding received for the BART project to $649 million. With this latest installment, the CTC, who is responsible for overseeing state-funded transportation programs, will have allocated a total of $768 million to the project.

VTA expects the BART line to the South Bay — with stops in Milpitas and Berryessa — to be up and running by 2017… (more)

Insurance Bill For Uber/Lyft Drivers Passes California Senate

sfist – excerpt

A compromise reached between California legislators and ride-share companies Uber and Lyft this week suggests that insurance companies may be asked to create a new type of policy specifically for peer-to-peer ride-sharing.

As we noted briefly at the end of last week, representatives of Uber and Lyft were making noise in the press and getting bratty in Sacramento with possible threats of moving their businesses out of the state in the face of AB 2293, proposed by Assemblywoman Susan Bonilla (D- Concord). The bill originally proposed requiring commercial insurance policies for all ride-share drivers, saying that personal insurance policies could not be expected to cover damages that occurred while being a car-for-hire. The bill that is now moving forward, having passed a Senate vote on Wednesday, still creates such a “firewall” between commercial use and personal insurance policies, as the powerful insurance lobby hoped, but it lowers the amount of “excess” liability coverage that Uber and Lyft will need to have their drivers carry. After compromises, Uber and Lyft now support the bill as written… (more)

 

 

Uber’s Secret Agents: When Poaching Becomes Unethical

by : nytimes – excerpt

If there is one overarching lesson from a new report on how Uber, the smartphone-app car service, tries to poach drivers from its competitors, it is this: Competing with Uber isn’t much fun.

The techniques described in documents obtained by The Verge have an element of spycraft about them, with methods and protocols that could appear in a John le Carré novel. Independent contractors for Uber apparently use burner phones tied to dummy accounts, with instructions to vary the locations from which they order car rides from their main competitor, Lyft. Once in the car, the contractors apparently try to suss out whether drivers can be persuaded to switch loyalties to Uber, and in some markets can apparently offer them a sign-up kit on the spot.

Fitting the spy novel atmospherics, the program even has a code name: Operation SLOG. (That would be short for Supplying Long-term Operations Growth).

And inside Uber, it would seem, is a mole…

The latest documents shed new light on practices that Lyft has been complaining about for some time, including in a CNN Money report this month in which the company claimed that 177 Uber workers had ordered and canceled more than 5,000 rides.

That and other reports have framed those canceled rides as a form of sabotage. If someone orders a ride and then cancels it, it costs the driver the time, money and aggravation of going to the pick-up location to meet a rider who isn’t there. Uber has steadfastly denied that kind of sabotage.

But the documents obtained by The Verge help square that circle, proving consistent with both Lyft’s claims of numerous canceled rides and Uber’s denials that it is sabotaging a competitor… (more)

Uber and Lyft Have Become Indistinguishable Commodities

By : nytimes – excerpt

If you need a ride, pull out your phone and load up the Lyft app. Or try Uber. Really, it doesn’t matter which you pick.

Though the two ride-sharing giants have carried on like the bitterest of enemies recently, their services have become pretty much indistinguishable. In many places, they both offer ubiquitous, cheap and mostly high-quality service.

They’ve become commodities.

That’s my conclusion based on the last two months of riding Lyft and Uber in the San Francisco Bay Area. It’s difficult to say that either is much better, or much worse, than the other. From pickup speed, to driver and car quality, to price, they’re both pretty good.

But you don’t have to take my word for it. Take Uber’s. This week The Verge published memos detailing Uber’s campaign to recruit Lyft drivers. According to the report, Uber hires contractors who request Lyft rides and, before the ride is out, attempt to recruit drivers to sign up for Uber.

What is most notable is the indiscriminate nature of Uber’s campaign. During recruiting missions, contractors were paid $750 for any Lyft driver they signed up. The contractors had to be warned to wait a few minutes between rides, so as not to call the same driver twice.

Uber is not going after the best Lyft drivers and cars. It’s going after any Lyft driver with a car and a pulse. And that’s the problem: If Uber itself thinks almost any Lyft ride can be easily transformed into an Uber ride, why shouldn’t we just use Lyft?… (more)

These companies are out to corner the market and once they do, they will raise their rates to take advantage of demand pricing the way they did during outside lands. Do everyone a favor and avoid these vultures.

RELATED:
Uber’s Secret Agents: When Poaching Becomes Unethical

Local: In The Mission In The Mission – Local News, Information, Events and Photos Harassment on MUNI and BART? Oh Yes

By Laura Wenus : sfgate – excerpt

BART and MUNI records of catcalling, groping, rape and other types of sexual harassment on stations and vehicles indicate that this public nuisance is rare. Only twelve incidents have been recorded in the past two years. BART’s numbers are even more impressive, with no incidents whatsoever in the Mission since 2012, and only 20 incidents in all of San Francisco.

Talk to women on the streets, however,  and it quickly becomes clear how misleading the official numbers are. In only 19 interviews, Mission Local turned up six victims of sexual harassment – half the official number reported in two years. Extrapolate out and it is likely that among the 700,000 boardings a day on Muni and 117,000 on BART, sexual harassment incidents number in the thousands.

A MUNI spokesperson said the SFMTA and SFPD work closely together to try to make transit as safe as possible. “Muni is an extension of San Francisco’s city streets,” she wrote. “The same care and attention one takes on the street should be taken on Muni as well.”

Except, on the street, women aren’t crushed up against men… (more)

Paul McCartney Fans Stuck in Traffic Start Petition to Get Refund for Missed Show

By : sfweekly – excerpt

Paul McCartney fans who missed the last concert at Candlestick Park earlier this month due to a parking fiasco that created a two-hour traffic jam are now demanding a refund from whoever is responsible for wasting their time and money.

Thousands of ticket holders missed the Aug. 14 concert, which many are attributing to poor parking plans on behalf of the event promoter. Afterward, those fans asked for refunds to which Another Planet Entertainment has politely said “no.”

But the irate fans aren’t letting this one go: They’ve launched a Change.org petition demanding they get every penny back that they shelled out for the high-priced tickets. The petition is addressed to Mayor Ed Lee, Gregg Perloff, Another Planet Entertainment, and Ed Reiskin, SFMTA, Director of Transportation:…

San Francisco Police Chief Greg Suhr had been quoted in media reports partially blaming the fans for the traffic jam, saying they hadn’t researched the parking layout before heading out to Candlestick Park. Of course, there were also a few accidents and stalled cars on Highway 101, which didn’t help…

Taking a page from the SFMTA playbook, authorities blame the drivers for the traffic jam. Fans don’t buy it and demand refunds. Muni riders didn’t have it much better. They were also given bad directions.

There is no excuse for not being able to manage parking at Candlestick after decades of parking cars in the lot.

Safety on Top of Safety: The City Rips Out a Pedestrian Upgrade to Install a Pedestrian Upgrade

By sfweekly – excerpt

City dwellers residing in the vicinity of Franklin and Turk streets can be forgiven for peering out their windows and experiencing a sense of déjà vu. City crews recently tore up and rebuilt the sidewalk roughly a year after tearing up and rebuilding the sidewalk and just over two years after tearing up and rebuilding the sidewalk…

The most recent work was the installation of a pedestrian bulb, an extension of the sidewalk into the parking lane, shortening the distance required for pedestrians to cross the street.

That’s well and good — but area residents couldn’t help but notice that the new bulb required the obliteration and reinstallation of a wheelchair access ramp installed in 2012, as well as the replacement of a sidewalk itself replaced in late 2013 for electrical traffic signal work.

Bulbs are the city’s new favorite method of ensuring pedestrian safety. Department of Public Works spokeswoman Rachel Gordon says to expect many more streets to be upgraded with one. These upgrades will supersede prior upgrades — even ones undertaken mere months ago.

You can’t put a price on safety. But you can put one on a pedestrian bulb — $30,000, in this case… (more)

Not only are these projects redundant, but one needs to consider that concrete is comprised of 30% water.
The city that expects residents to cut back should put some of these unnecessary projects on hold.

OPINION: Daily commuters should get discounted campus parking permits

By Madison Rutherford : goldengatexpress – excerpt

It’s hard enough to roll out of bed to make an 8 a.m. class. For the 88 percent of SF State students who live off campus, the struggle is even more real. Many students must rely on the questionably steadfast steeds known as Muni and BART. For some, it’s a traffic-ridden car commute across the bridge. But this semester, being a student at a “commuter school” is about to get a lot more difficult.

Drivers will also be impacted because daily on-campus parking rates have increased from $6 to $7. In 2010, it only cost $5 a day to park at school.

The impending hike in parking rates and Muni fares will make it even more difficult than before to get to and from SF State. Among ever-increasing rent, tuition, health fees and overpriced books the least of a student’s worries should be affording their morning commute…

SF State faculty are given heavily discounted parking passes. Why aren’t students given the same liberties?

Daily commuters should get discounted parking permits like faculty do. We work just as hard to be here. We should be commended, not punished. If SF State is a commuter school, why doesn’t it cater to commuters?… (more)