Muni Maintenance: How Bad Is Bad?

By Joe Eskenazi : sfweekly – excerpt

Woody Allen pithily noted that 80 percent of life is just showing up. Statistics presented during yesterday’s transit hearing indicate that, on many days, Muni has trouble doing even that..
Judging by the data presented by Muni yesterday — and in the past — is Muni getting better or worse here?
The answer, naturally, is “yes.”
See Also: Muni Presents Hideous Numbers at Transit Hearing…

On the other hand, diesel buses’ MDBF totals of nearly 5,000 miles between breakdowns are an all-time high. Soot-belching diesel vehicles don’t fit the city’s chosen idiom — one of our insufferable high-tech sorts quoted in George Packer’s recent New Yorker piece on Silicon Valley and the city was taken aback that “some of the buses still run on diesel.”
Not only do “some of the buses still run on diesel,” diesel is the backbone of the fleet. Motor coaches are traveling three times further between breakdowns since the late 1990s and nearly eight times further than the dawn of the Reagan administration. Diesel buses are making the runs Muni’s breakdown-prone light-rail vehicles, electric buses, historic trolleys, and even cable cars are missing…
… San Francisco’s breakdown totals are far, far worse than most any other major transit agency’s; Los Angeles’ light-rail vehicles travel more than four times as far as San Francisco’s between roadcalls.
Answering the natural next question — why? — is complicated. Other agencies carry fewer people in newer vehicles. They have a higher mechanic-to-vehicle ratio. They don’t grapple with hilly, stop-and-start conditions. And, especially in the case of light-rail vehicles and electric buses, they aren’t saddled with crappy, obsolete machinery.
Transit is difficult. Maintenance issues are a big reason why. So, as Muni gears up to ask voters for more money and as the agency touts its “investment in maintenance,” it warrants mentioning that “maintenance” isn’t a unified, undifferentiated area one can simply hurl money and manpower at in order to “solve.” And the portion of Muni’s fleet where maintenance is getting more and more optimal — and is serving a more and more vital purpose for the agency — is one image-conscious policymakers would like to distance themselves from.
Transit is difficult. The riders who’ll spend a communal 20 years trapped aboard it in any given month have plenty to think about… (more)

As we have been saying all along, Muni needs ALL the Muni funds. Stop spending Muni funds on everything else.

Muni’s contribution to San Francisco’s mental health

By: Melissa Griffin : – excerpt

Each year, the American College of Sports Medicine ranks the nation’s 50 largest metropolitan areas in its American Fitness Index. San Francisco ranked fourth this year, behind Minneapolis-St. Paul, Washington, D.C., and Portland, Ore. The Greater Bay Area gets good marks for the fact that almost 15 percent of people take public transportation to work, but low marks for “percent of days when mental health was not good.”
These things may be related.
Supervisor Scott Wiener has made it his mission to find a way to improve our public-transportation system, holding hearing after hearing on the status of Muni and its budget. Those meetings can be very depressing…
Reiskin will be coming to the Board of Supervisors this year to ask for $120 million in revenue bonds to make a small dent in the $2.2 billion needed in transportation infrastructure improvements. Additionally, the voters will be considering a vehicle license fee (likely in November 2014) expected to bring in $70 million per year to the general fund, where it will promptly be spent on things San Franciscans do not use every day…
Wiener is considering putting a measure on the same ballot with the fee to force the use of the new income for updating the physical transit system. Wiener also is considering a surcharge on tickets to events for the same purpose. Either proposal would need the approval of voters.
At the recent hearing, Reiskin acknowledged that, to get additional money, “We need to earn the credibility to get that support.”
No kidding… (more)

Land Use Committee Meeting, May 28 – Hearing and Monthy Report from the MTA Controller – excerpt

Link to the Land Use Committee Meeting on Muni, May 28:
130053 – Hearing and monthly report, directed to the Municipal Transportation Agency and the Controller, analyzing and disclosing the state of Municipal Transportation Agency service and maintenance, including month-on-month comparisons, and the loss of economic productivity in San Francisco resulting from Municipal Transportation Agency service disruptions.

Watch the live action. The download should be up soon.

Report: Muni Breakdowns Cost Commuters $4.2 Million Last Month Alone

by Dan McMenamin : sfappeal – excerpt

San Francisco Municipal Railway service disruptions cost commuters at least $50 million in economic production annually and the system remains far away from its on-time service goals, according to a report released today by city officials.
The quarterly report by San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency officials and city economist Ted Egan was requested earlier this year by Supervisor Scott Wiener, who held a hearing of the Board of Supervisors’ land use and economic development committee to discuss the report’s findings.
The report, which Wiener said he believed was the first of its kind in the city, found that Muni breakdowns cost at least $4.2 million in lost productivity for commuters in April, or at least $50 million each year…
Wiener is also considering various ways to boost revenue to fund Muni improvements.
Last week, he asked the city controller’s office to assess the economic impact of a surcharge of $1 to $3 that could be added to prices of tickets for large events such as baseball games and concerts and would go toward maintaining the Muni system… (more)

Suggestions for other revenue sources:
Portland City Club Report Recommends Taxing Bike Sales to pay for bike lanes

Time for SFMTA to quit spending all their money and their time on future perfect projects and get down and dirty with the engineers and mechanics and help them do the job of getting the people who need the Muni where they need to go. Leave the rest of us alone.

Comments welcome on the source site.

Coming This Fall: City Target at Masonic

by Camden Avery : – excerpt

So this is finally happening.
This October, one year after opening a Metreon location at Mission and 4th, Target is opening its second City Target in San Francisco at the top of Masonic at Geary.
The building (formerly Mervyn’s) has been under renovation for the past few weeks, as you may have noticed, and work is scheduled to be wrapped up by the time they start hiring in August and September.
While the location is within walking distance of the Haight, it’s also probably far away enough not to influence neighborhood traffic too much, even with the proposed elimination of parking spaces along Masonic to make way for the city’s Masonic corridor improvements.
But we thought we’d pool the question to you, dear readers: What do you think of the new Target? Good, bad, neither? Will you use it? … (more)


Parking and traffic number crunching

By David LaBua : 7×7 – excerpt

Some 2011-2012 San Francisco parking and traffic statistics…

SF Resident Population      806,696
Total Vehicles                     466,448
Drivers’ Licenses Issued     543,209

Total Publicly Available Parking Supply    448,000
Total Citations Issued                  1,528,820
Parking Ticket Revenue               $83,290,02

… (more)

Muni Delays Have Huge Negative Impact On San Francisco Economy, Report Finds – excerpt
How much money do rush-hour delays on Muni cost the city of San Francisco each year?
According to a report released by the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency on Tuesday afternoon, these delays reduce the city’s overall economic activity by an estimated $50 million per year and are one of the main reasons why, over the first few months of 2013, Muni’s on-time percentage was a paltry 58.7 percent–well below 85 percent on-time rate mandated by San Francisco voters.
“We have not invested in this transportation system over the last generation,” said San Francisco Municipal Transportation Chief Ed Reiskin. “We’re nowhere close to being able to meet the 85 percent performance goal [imposed by San Francisco voters in 1999’s Proposition E] due to this underinvestment.”The report estimated that, just last month alone, Muni delayed its customers by 172,195 total hours… (more)

techsportation – excerpt

SFMTA to allow designated on-street parking for peer-to-peer carsharing vehicles

SFMTA released a draft of its Car Sharing Policy and Pilot Project. They are announcing a pilot project to allocate some on-street parking spaced to carsharing and peer-to-peer carsharing vehicles in San Francisco. Peer-to-peer carsharing vehicles are cars owned by individuals that are available for the general public to use via services like GetAround and Relay Rides.
The pilot will allocate up to 150 spaces (0.05% of the total on-street spaces in San Francisco) to carsharing. Only two spaces per block at most will be allocated.
In order for peer-to-peer cars to be included, they must be available for use by the general public 75% of the time. How this is enforced or monitored is not indicated… (more)

Check out the On-street carsharing Zones.
Comments are welcome.

On the Merits of Bus Rapid Transit

by Daniel Adel : – excerpt

Light rail might have a certain cool cachet, but buses are the way to go

There has always been something romantic about trains. Think of the passenger rail of a century ago and you likely imagine classy sleeper coaches and fancy dining cars. Even the commuter rail of decades past – streetcars and interurbans – seems to possess a glamorous vibe. Maybe it’s just the fact that everyone dressed better back then, but once upon a time commuters rode in style.
Yet I wonder if our sentimentality for rail is keeping public transit stuck in the past. There seems to be a feeling that buses are “substandard” – second class – when compared to “genteel” rail. This is unfortunate – especially in an age in which mass transit funding is stalled. Our cultural bias for rail over busses is especially counterproductive given that, when we carefully examine the facts, buses are a smarter investment.
Just look at the successes of what’s called Bus Rapid Transit, or BRT…
Given that building a light rail system can cost up to 10 times as much as creating a BRT system, why are American cities still so focused on rail?… (more)

Continue reading

New Bicycle Parking Requirements Approved by Planning Commission – excerpt

New Bicycle Parking Requirements Approved by Planning Commission…
The proposal is anticipated to go before the Board of Supervisors in June 2013.
If the proposal is adopted, garages and buildings owned and leased by the City will be required to upgrade the bicycle facilities within one year to comply with the new Planning Code standards. The proposal will also require new and renovated privately owned commercial buildings, and new residential buildings to comply with the bicycle parking requirements… (more)