Firefighters concerned about narrowing SF streets

By Eric Rasmussen : KTVU – excerpt

The recent efforts to make San Francisco streets more pedestrian friendly may have the unintended consequences of slowing the response time of fire trucks answering emergency calls.

San Francisco streets can be frustrating and dangerous for pedestrians and drivers alike. Just ask San Francisco firefighters.

KTVU recently rode along with teams on two hook-and-ladder trucks in the city. They said some tight streets are getting tighter.

“They’re making bike lanes and putting palm trees in the middle, taking out a lane of traffic,” said firefighter Jim Fewell as he navigated down a stretch of Cesar Chavez.

Streetscape plans for the busy thoroughfare include a wider median, trees and something called “corner bulb outs.”…

But San Francisco firefighters argue the changes could make navigating city streets even more difficult.

“We don’t want to keep piling on these challenges,” said San Francisco Fire Dept. spokesperson Mindy Talmadge. “That will affect our response time.”

Response times are already ticking up.

According to the department, first units are arriving on scene in about five and a half minutes after a call is received. That is as much as eight seconds slower than during the first part of last year… (more)

I hope the folks who are pushing narrow streets against the concerns of emergency personnel don’t mind the extra time it will take to pick them up and deliver them to the hospital next time they need that service. I think I speak for the rest of us and I would prefer to make it easier for them to do their job.

SF public transit plans for route changes, new service

by : sfexaminer – excerpt

Muni is slow and unreliable, even by its own admission, and the road to modernizing it has been long and arduous. But today, that could take a turn for the better.

Transit officials this morning are expected to vote on a plan that will ignite the first major service overhaul for San Francisco’s public-transit system in more than 30 years.

The San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency board of directors will consider authorizing planned system changes that are part of the Transit Effectiveness Project, including Muni frequency increases and decreases, new routes, realigning routes, eliminating routes, and expanding limited stop service and hours of operation… (more)

A CEQA appeal was filed yesterday to stop the TEP. Does anyone trust the SFMTA to fix the Muni, balance the budget, reduce traffic congestion, make parking easier, or make the trains run on time? If you are one of the millions of frustrated taxpayers who wonder what happens to the public funds SFMTA sucks up and begs for more, you might want to join the efforts to reform the MTA. They are growing in number, but here is one option: Stop SFMTA: http://petitions.moveon.org/sign/stop-sfmt…
Be sure to write your grievances in the comments as those go directly to the city authorities.
If you are a Muni rider who disagrees with the TEP, write the supervisors and tell them to deny funding:
http://discoveryink.wordpress.com/letters-…

Friday: SFMTA Board Considers Final Proposals for Muni TEP Service Changes

by : sf.streetsblog – excerpt

Service changes to 15 Muni lines are headed to the SFMTA Board of Directors for approval on Friday as part of the Transit Effectiveness Project. The proposals were revised through input at community meetings and approved by the board’s Policy and Governance Committee (PAG) last Friday. Many were fine-tuned largely to appease complaints from riders who would have to walk, at most, a few more blocks for more streamlined routes…

If you can’t make the City Hall board meeting on Friday at 8 a.m., you can weigh in on the proposals by emailing the SFMTA Board secretary at Roberta.Boomer@sfmta.com. Here’s the list of proposed line changes from an SFMTA email: …

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SF and Oakland Top the Worst Cities for Parking

by Jennifer Maerz : thebolditalic – excerpt

Locals aren’t the only ones who think parking sucks here. Now there’s a national study ranking Oakland and San Francisco #2 and #3 respectively as the “Worst Cities for Parking Your Car” in the country. Only Chicago beat us as being a suckier place to stow your vehicle.

The study was conducted by financial analysis site NerdWallet, which used the price of parking and the number of stolen cars per city as factors in creating its ranking. Oakland, the company notes, has 124.59% more car thefts than the national average, while SF has 5.53% fewer thefts (I think our crooks here prefer a nice smash-and-go window job to stealing the whole ride). NerdWallet uses the stats to offer financial tips related to driving, such trying out SFpark, “an organization that matches drivers with parking spaces at various rates. Drivers can see where spots are available and how much they’ll have to pay online, though the median price to park is $29 a day and $375 a month.” … (more)

SFMTA wins another prize. This time SF is rated and the worst to park. No surprise to us. I guess this rules out the theory that congestion pricing helps drivers. So, get ready for this argument to stop that waste of tax payer money. If you agree with us and want the MTA to return to the job of managing Muni for Muni riders, and get them out of the parking management bussiness, sign the Stop SFMTA petition: http://petitions.moveon.org/sign/stop-sfmta-san-francisco

Then join us in supporting a ballot initiative to FIX THE MTA.

 

RELATED:
3 calif cities voted worst places to park

SamTrans Accused of Hiding Millions of Public Dollars

By Vicky Nguyen, Kevin Nious, and Jeremy Carroll : NBCbayarea – excerpt

SamTrans leaders decline to answer questions after insiders disclose a “second set of books” used to track how millions in public dollars were spent at the transit district.

A former SamTrans accountant has disclosed a second set of books he said the district used to hide millions of public dollars by logging fake and inflated expenses. The NBC Bay Area Investigative Unit filed a records request to verify these claims, and uncovered more than a million dollars’ worth of expenses that had no back up… (more)

Late Fees: Muni Drivers’ Class-Action Suit May Cost the Agency Millions of Tardy Dollars

By Joe Eskenazi : sfweekly – excerpt

Running a slow transit service quickly racks up costs. You have to deploy that many more vehicles to carry the same number of fare-paying passengers as a faster-moving service. And Muni is the slowest transit service in all North America.

That slowness may end up costing Muni even more, according to a 2012 class-action suit wending its way through federal court with Muni-like speed, brought by some 233 drivers representing more than 2,000 of their brethren.

The agency, allege aggrieved drivers Darryl Stitt, Tony Grandberry, and Hedy Griffin — lead plaintiffs for a cast of thousands — pays operators based upon “a predetermined amount of driving time.” Passengers and drivers alike are aware, however, that Muni’s schedules rarely match Muni’s reality. The operators claim they’re not being compensated for inevitable divergences from on-paper timetables.

This inevitability is baked in, claim the plaintiffs: Muni “has a practice of designing its routes in a manner that makes it impossible for Operators to stay on schedule.”

The drivers also claim they’re being shortchanged for the time they spend performing post-driving inspections; time spent traveling from one bus or train to another when switching runs; or time spent heading from the bus or train depot to wherever they parked their cars.

Drivers hoping to put in for unscheduled overtime face a new set of challenges. “The unscheduled overtime card is so confusing that [a Muni management] representative could not explain parts of it,” claims the suit. When asked, during deposition, why that card contained six rows, the manager replied, “I — honestly, I don’t know the answer to that question.”…

Neither Muni nor plaintiffs’ attorney Steven Tidrick would comment regarding ongoinglitigation. Several of the hundreds of drivers who signed up to allow Tidrick to be their standard-bearer told SF Weekly the numbers they’re hearing bandied about constitute “real serious money.”… (more)

SF leaders search for ways to blend car-reliant worshippers with transit-first policies

by : sfexaminer – excerpt

In a city where promoting alternatives to California’s car culture is the unofficial religion, Sunday can be a day of conflict.

The Rev. Malcolm Byrd’s Sunday morning ritual includes collecting the angry notes left on his and other double-parked cars on Golden Gate Avenue. They’re left by bicyclists upset that automobiles are blocking their lane during services at Byrd’s First AME Zion Church.

Such righteous anger, while perhaps well-intentioned, is received by “your classic old church lady,” Byrd said. And that lady is part of a citywide congregation that is overwhelmingly old and car-reliant, with no other viable way to get to services.

This dependence on automobiles is challenging religious leaders and transit officials in San Francisco to find a compromise that can reduce congestion and promote transit while still allowing aging worshipers to access their faith communities… (more)

This feels like a familiar tune. Putting in a cycle track next to a church and demanding the cars move is like building housing next to a night club and demonizing the club. The anti-car movement is making for some strange allies who didn’t realize how much we have in common. Live and let live has been the San Francisco way of life. That is what is at stake.
There is a growing divisiveness feeding intolerant and racists comments that is disturbing, and it appears to be coming from elsewhere. The churches were here first. Cyclists are able-bodied individuals perfectly capable of biking on other streets. Perhaps it is time to codify parking privileges around churches and funeral homes, and certain other traditional situations. There is no reason to upset San Francisco traditions to satisfy new non-tolerant attitudes.

SFMTA Proposes New Steps to Divert Cars Off Market Street

by : sf.streetsblog – excerpt

The SFMTA has proposed new forced turns for private autos at intersections on the most congested stretch of Market Street, which could be implemented in phases early next year. SFMTA staff presented the changes [PDF] to the agency’s board of directors Friday — not just as a way to speed up transit, but to make the thoroughfare safer for walking and biking.

The SF Chronicle reports:

“This is primarily a safety project,” said Timothy Papandreou, director of strategic planning in the sustainable streets division of the Municipal Transportation Agency…

The changes announced Friday include stepped-up enforcement of existing transit-only lanes and turn restrictions. Early next year, additional mandatory turns are to be installed at Third, Fourth and Fifth streets and transit-only lanes would be extended eastward down Market.

Market Street between Eighth and Montgomery streets has twice as many collisions as parallel Mission Street despite having only a third of the traffic, Papandreou said. It also includes four of the city’s 20 worst intersections for collisions that injure or kill pedestrians — Fifth Street, Sixth Street, Eighth Street and Main Street. Two of the worst intersections for bike collisions are also on Market at Third and Fifth streets.

The MTA will focus first on Montgomery to Fifth streets before considering whether to head farther down Market…

Cheryl Brinkman, the SFMTA Board’s Vice Chair, noted that most drivers on Market seem to end up there by accident. “A confused driver is probably the worst thing any of us could want,” she said. “A confused driver is looking for something else and just not paying attention to the street.”… (more)

Who is to blame for the confusion on the streets? The drivers? The Muni riders? The police? The Mayor? The Board of Supervisors? The voters blame the SFMTA. Spending more money on traffic diversions will not eliminate the confusion, but will increase the anger and frustration among voters, who will say NO to Muni bonds and YES to a Charter Amendment to change the SFMTA.

SF exploring ways to regulate ride services like Uber, Lyft

by : sfexaminer – excerpt

As many as 4,000 rideshare vehicles are on San Francisco streets during peak times, according to Supervisor Eric Mar.

San Francisco city officials are exploring whether they have legal authority to regulate transportation services such as Uber or Lyft as the taxicab industry continues to complain about impacts to revenue, safety and disability services.

Supervisor John Avalos said Thursday that he is working with the City Attorney’s Office to explore a legal case for imposing certain local regulations.

“We’ve gotten to almost a crisis mode,” Avalos said. “We cannot let [the taxicab] industry fail.”

The so-called transportation network companies emerged out of a movement known as the sharing or peer economy, even though nothing is technically shared since the services cost money. Their growing popularity has created controversy, including with the traditional taxicab industry, which is held to stricter regulatory controls… (more)

Report: Muni travels slower, costs more to operate than peer cities’ transit

: sfexaminer – excerpt

A new report from the City Controller’s Office compares Muni service with systems in San Jose, Seattle, and elsewhere.

Muni vehicles travel at a slower average speed and have higher operating costs, despite having lower fares than transit services in 10 metropolitan areas, a recently released report has found.

The “benchmarking” report from the San Francisco controller’s office released Thursday compares the performances and costs of San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency light-rail, bus and trolley bus services with cities including San Jose, Seattle, Houston, Dallas and Minneapolis.

Data included the average speed and number of passengers served per mile in each of the systems; the reported indicated Muni vehicles travel at a slower average rate.

“Each time the bus stops to board or alight passengers, it experiences a delay, which reduced the average speed of the bus,” the report states. “This effect likely contributes to SFMTA’s lower average speeds.”… (more)