MTA Public Meeting Disappoints as its Transparency Continues to Erode.

By Rick Hall

It appears to many of us that SFMTA is becoming much less transparent. Many of us have noticed, the bundling of “projects” into incomprehensible masses. for example the TEP (now Muni-Forward) where massive changes were made reducing neighborhood service but covered by promises of system wide improvement. The massive scope of this plan made it unlikely that any but the most astute would be aware of the impacts on their commute. SFMTA’s “community meetings” are structured by their consultants in an “open house” setting to discourage individual attendees from hearing other’s comments and (heaven forbid) coming together on an issue as a real community.

Now one of are readers is disturbed by his treatment at a recent SFMTA Board of Directors Meeting (April 21, 2015). His transparency concern was inclusion of  continued removal of parking in the city on the consent calendar, where it could just be approved in mass with other things with no transparency or discussion. He wanted to know how many spots were to be removed, why there are no mitigation measures, no consideration of environmental impact.
He see’s this project as “selling public assets to private companies at bargain prices.

During the meeting the Chairman was not speaking into the microphone so much was missed by the audience. When our reader pointed this out twice, He was ignored. He says ”its not a public meeting if the conversation cannot be heard by the public”

There will be a chance at a future meeting to argue against this public give-away to private profit companies. We will let you know when to come out for this – the more people the better. As the commission “goes silent” we need to go loud.

Problems with public meetings that may be addressed soon in a ballot initiative.

Report on the April 21st MTA Commission Meeting:

I attended the MTA Commission meeting on the 21st to object to the Consent calendar containing removal from public parking, all the car rental parking spots around the city. (On the attached link to the agenda is the list of the particular spots. )

http://www.sfmta.com/calendar/meetings/board-directors-meeting-april-21-2015
No description of how many parking spots are being lost this way. No mitigation measures. No environmental impact consideration. Bargain pricing of a pubic asset. This is clearly an example of MTA following in the railroad tracks of Il Duce. Since when has our democracy in SF taken such a severe hit to the groin?

I also admonished the chairman for conducting a meeting without being able to be heard by the audience. When I first asked him to speak into the microphone, he looked up at me, and then went right back to mumbling whatever he said. After I denounced his contempt for the folks who came to participate, he went, again, right back to speaking without being heard. It is not a public meeting if the conversation of all the speakers cannot be heard.

Back to the car rental spots, this item will be heard on its own in some future meeting (not indicated at the time). Can you please get the word out to your mailing list that will be their chance to  argue against this public give-away to private profit companies.The more people the better, and the objective should be to take as much of the commission’s time as possible. Let them feel the pain of our outrage, since I’m sure they’ll approve the matter regardless of what the people have to say. After all, it is the MO of the MTA. “Muni: We don’t give a shit what YOU think”

– Ted

Alameda planners’ anti-car agenda to fail, cause misery

By Mark Greenside My Word : contracostatimes – excerpt

I love bike lanes. I want them. When I ride my bike, I want to be safe and separated from cars and pedestrians. The problem isn’t with bike lanes; it’s with the people who design them.

Not that long ago, a bike lane was a bike lane: a designated place where people could ride their bikes and not get hit by cars. Now, bike lanes are the first line of offense in the war against drivers and cars. Bike lanes aren’t for bikers, they are against cars, with the oft-stated purpose of reducing and/or eliminating vehicular traffic. It’s nuts, and it is not sustainable.
More bike lanes are at the heart of TDM (Traffic Demand Management) systems and “smart” growth philosophy brought to us by city planners like Andrew Thomas, who is not a traffic or civil engineer, though he has plenty of opinions about both. These people speak as if they’re talking science, but it’s hope, belief and faith they’re pandering — and like true believers everywhere, they’re willing to push their beliefs onto the doubtful…
It is an effort that is doomed to fail, though not before ruining the community. Here are the reasons why: …
The Metropolitan Transportation Commission recently issued a report, “Vital Signs” (www.vitalsigns.mtc.ca.gov), that was summarized in the San Jose Mercury News as follows: “Some of the conclusions of the MTC report are depressing for traffic planners. Despite the addition of hundreds of miles of carpool lanes stretching from Marin to Oakland and San Jose, the percentage of those sharing a ride to work has declined about 3 percent since (1989) …. While BART and Caltrain ridership is soaring, overall transit ridership remains low and bus lines have lost passengers.”… (more)
Mark Greenside is an Alameda resident and a retired professor of political science, history and English at Merritt College in Oakland.

Bay Area Public Transportation

By Thuy Vu and Scott Shafer : kqed – excerpt – (video clip)

Getting around the Bay Area can be difficult. Traffic is a mess and public transportation isn’t always easy. KQED NEWSROOM’s Scott Shafer and Thuy Vu talk to the leaders of BART, Caltrain, Muni and VTA about what is and isn’t working with the Bay Area’s biggest transit systems.

Guests:
• Grace Crunican, general manager of BART
• Ed Reiskin, director of transportation of San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency
• Jim Hartnett, general manager of San Mateo County Transit District
• Michael Hursh, chief operating officer of Santa Clara Valley Transportation Authority… (more)

People Behaving Badly: wiggle referee quits

By Molly Martinez : kron4 – excerpt – (video clip)

SAN FRANCISCO (KRON) — Stanley Roberts caught up with the self-appointed “wiggle referee,” who was reluctant to speak with KRON4.  The wiggle, for those unfamiliar, is a particularly dangerous intersection for cars, bicyclists and pedestrians alike.

Stanley also gets accused of trying to sell papers… (more)

SFMTA Seeks To Reduce Bike Parking Due To Lack Of Utilization

Socketsite – excerpt
Following the collection of over six months of data tacking the utilization of bike racks installed in the 18 parking garages managed by the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency (SFMTA), the agency’s Parking Division has requested a reduction in the required number of racks to be installed in at least seven (7) of the garages due to “significant slack capacity” for the racks which are already in place.

The Union Square, Sutter Stockton and Civic Center garages are among those facilities for which reductions in the number of bike parking spaces required to be installed have been requested, with observed average daily utilization rates of 26.5 percent, 48.1 percent, and 14 percent for their existing racks respectively.

Keep in mind that businesses and buildings which have installed private racks, such as Twitter, Dolby and City Hall, have impacted the demand for publicly-accessible bicycle parking.

A City ordinance adopted in 2013 upgraded and increased the number and quality of bicycle parking spaces required for City-owned buildings and parking garages based on expected demand… (more)

Does bad cyclist behavior in The Wiggle need some refereeing?

By John Angelico : sfgate – excerpt

If you cycle regularly in San Francisco, you’ve probably taken The Wiggle to get from Market Street to Golden Gate Park. It’s popular with cyclists because it’s flat and fairly quiet with not much vehicular traffic. The SFMTA has plans to make changes to the Wiggle route, including improving the stormwater management (stormwater… what’s that?) and adding some bulb-outs to calm traffic.

But why wait for the SFMTA to start calming that traffic? One cyclist will be out in the Wiggle (at Waller and Steiner) this Thursday at 3 PM to referee bad traffic behavior and other unsportsmanlike conduct by other cyclists:

While 95% of cyclists using the Wiggle are really incredibly respectful of other road users, there is that small minority who give us all a bad name. I’ve always wanted to dress as a referee and hand out yellow and red cards to bad cyclists (and maybe some cars and peds too) and I’m using NOW! as my excuse!  Come join me in shaming the few bad cyclists out there and making the Wiggle just a little bit safer and more courteous!… (more)

Sounds like some good ideas.

SF supervisors approve Muni security contract, after no ethics violations found

By sfexaminer – excerpt

No ethics violations found, but ethical concerns remain

A $38 million security contract to guard Muni rail yards was approved by the Board of Supervisors on Tuesday, amid accusations of ethical lapses in the contract process.

“It doesn’t quite pass the smell test,” Supervisor Malia Cohen said of the contract at the board meeting.

The controversy swirled around the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency’s lead contract negotiator and director of security, Chris Grabarkiewctz. A prior employee of Cypress Security, he was given awards lauding his ability to generate great amounts of profit from his negotiating contracts with the SFMTA.

Now he serves the reverse role, negotiating contracts for the SFMTA with Cypress Security against its sole competing bidder, Andrews International…

Reiskin told supervisors they could reform ethics laws, or the SFMTA may make its own rules to protect against alleged conflicts of interest. “To the extent that this [contract] procurement has raised issues, we may consider going above and beyond the law,” Reiskin told the board…  (more)

Reiskin told supervisors they could reform ethics laws? Suggested going above and beyond the law? Since when does Reiskin tell the supervisors what they can do? Someone needs to remind him that he works for the elected city officials, not the other way around. A reduction in his salary might help to remind him where he stands.

Safety Course Not Required For Uber, Lyft, Others

hoodline – excerpt

In the wake of an Uber driver arrested after allegedly hitting and injuring a cyclist in Fisherman’s Wharf on Sunday, more questions are being raised about driver safety requirements.

Specifically, taxis are regulated by SFMTA and are required to take 28 hours of classes through one of four approved private driving schools, and another day of training through the SFMTA. An hour of the SFMTA training includes instruction on sharing the road with bicyclists and pedestrians, is taught by a member of the San Francisco Bicycle Coalition. At least two hours of testing is required. And as part of the city’s Vision Zero plan, which aims to eliminate traffic deaths by 2024, SFMTA is instituting a large vehicle urban driving safety program for all large vehicle drivers who work for the city.

All told, as Central City Extra covered in their latest issue (PDF), there are 71 pages of dense regulations for cab drivers to follow.

Not so for drivers working for Uber, Lyft, Sidecar or limo companies, which are not regulated by the SFMTA – they only have 28 simple regulations to follow.

And the San Francisco Bicycle Coalition, among others, is concerned about this gap in safety mandates. “We need to ensure everyone knows how to share the road safely,” said Tyler Frisbee, policy director at the organization. Many of the drivers, she said, aren’t used to driving in a city as busy as San Francisco.

“Whether cab, Uber, Lyft—they’re pulling over to the side frequently, they’re loading and unloading, they’re driving through crowded areas” such as Market Street, SoMa and the FiDi, Frisbee said. “The reason SFMTA hires us is they want to protect peoples’ lives,” she added. “There’s no similar training for Uber. Their drivers take a couple of very short safety classes that are taught online.”… (More)

S.F. Supervisor Jane Kim wants Muni security guards to lose guns

By John Wildermuth : sfchronicle – excerpt

The armed security guards who walk alongside the Muni workers collecting cash from buses, transit-sales desks and fare machines will be giving up their handguns if San Francisco Supervisor Jane Kim has her way.

Kim wants to revise the Municipal Transportation Agency’s proposed six-year, $38.3 million contract with Cypress Security, eliminating the armed guards the transit agency has used for decades.

“Small businesses handle cash every day without security guards, so why does the MTA need them?” Kim asked when the contract came up for approval at last week’s Board of Supervisors meeting. “I’m troubled that we have armed guards at the MTA.”…

Nonlethal alternatives

Kim suggested that the transit agency look at providing the guards who accompany the fare collectors with nonlethal weapons, possibly including electric stun guns, which San Francisco police are barred from carrying.

Supervisors David Campos and John Avalos sided with Kim at last week’s board meeting. The security-guard contract — and the question of armed guards — is up for discussion at Tuesday’s meeting, but the supervisors are unlikely to make a final decision. Any revised contract has to be approved by the transit agency’s board before it can presented to the supervisors… (more)