Sinkhole causing some transit delays in SF

By  and  : sfexaminer – excerpt

A sinkhole reported in San Francisco’s Noe Valley neighborhood is causing delays for some San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency light rail lines this morning.

The J Church line is blocked in both directions at the intersection of 24th and Church streets because of the sinkhole, SFMTA officials said on Twitter at 5:45 a.m.

The SFMTA is running shuttle buses between the Balboa Park Muni station and 22nd and Church streets, to replace J-train service.

Additionally, the N Judah line may also be impacted, according to SFMTA officials… (more)

 

Why does Muni BRT Silence Community?

SFCTA Denied the Public from Speaking Because their Plan Doesn’t Hold up to Public Scrutiny… (more)

We support StopMuniBRT.org because we deserve to have a say in our future… (more)

According to Zabe Bent, the TA planner who was recently assigned to the Geary project, implementing Muni transit improvements will range from $45 million to $200 million, depending on the option chosen. She said construction would be taken in small chunks, like a “street repaving project,” which would take six to eight weeks to complete… (more)

Citizens are fighting back against elements of street alterations they disapprove of. SFMTA continues to ignore the Muni riders and pedestrians requests, regardless of what they suggest. Citizen groups are forming to protest their treatment and use of their taxes, as they grow weary of the constant construction and demolition of their communities.

Taxpaying groups are fighting the most expensive version of every design option that comes up. Why spend $200 million on a project that the public doesn’t want instead of spending $45 million on the one they approve of?

How To Save Money on Your New Year’s Eve Uber Ride

wspa – excerpt

As you go out to celebrate New Year’s Eve, don’t let a higher than expected Uber receipt ruin your morning.

Here are some tips to avoid the surge and maybe even get some free rides… (More)

Take a cab!

We’d like to know if Lyft has surge pricing. We know that cabs don’t. And how much do the CEOs and other Uber employees spend during surge pricing? Do they even take Uber? Someone should find out and report back how the Uber executives travel tonight. Any spies out there?

Union blasts SFMTA over Muni operator wages

By 

Muni operators’ union leader says the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency needs to be “on blast” for its treatment of drivers.

Eric D. Williams, president of the Transport Workers Union Local 250-A, spoke with the San Francisco Examiner in response to a story in Monday’s paper, which detailed how Muni workers hired in the last year had their pay cut nearly in half under a 2014 contract. But now, a year later, those drivers are sounding a cry, saying they can’t make ends meet on that pay.

“We’ve got to put the agency on blast for what we’re doing to our members,” Williams said.

The SFMTA previously told the Examiner that Muni operators are among the highest paid in the nation and that they enjoy generous benefits.

While most Muni operators make anywhere from $60,000 to $70,000 a year, according to public records, 818 Muni operators who were hired after July 1, 2014, make 63 percent of that pay under a relatively new contract quirk.

Those operators are paid as low as $37,000 a year, before union dues and benefits.

An operator’s salary is then increased in “steps” over five years. After five years, operators earn full pay. That step payment system is the source of contention for Muni drivers, some of whom say they can’t afford basic goods for themselves or their families.

By contrast, AC Transit has a step in its salary for operators between three and four years. Before July 2014, SFMTA operators’ step salary period was 18 months.

Williams said the reduced pay may lead to drivers quitting Muni. And less drivers, he said, mean late buses… (more)

 

CASTRO RESIDENTS UPSET OVER TECH BUS STOP LOCATION

While this shuttle stop in the Castro has been part of a pilot program, it’s supposed to be a permanent fixture in February. Still, the MTA says there is always room for discussion.

“It really takes cars off the streets, it reduces gas emissions and it does a number of things that make our transportation network better,” Paul Rose, a spokesperson with the MTA, said. “We’re open top their feedback, we’re open to their input and we want to make sure we’re reaching as many people as possible.”

In the past 18 months the city has collected $2.5 million for the right to use these shuttle bus stops… (more)

 

SFMTA workers struggle to meet basic needs

By  : sfexaminer – excerpt

ome of Muni’s newest drivers are struggling to make ends meet, under a contract which cuts their pay to about half what new drivers previously made.

These drivers are increasingly leaning on other means to live — including second jobs driving for Uber, or other transit companies — and moving farther away from San Francisco, which operators say may impact the safety of Muni riders.

In interviews with more than 10 bus and train operators, a former union head, and information gleaned from union meetings, the San Francisco Examiner has learned San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency drivers are struggling, and unrest within their union is growing.

Most spoke anonymously due to fear of retribution. Many described an inability to pay for basic living expenses as new Muni operators.

One full-time Muni operator said he makes about $2,100 a month, after taxes.

Despite also combining his income with his wife’s, he said, he still struggles to support his daughter. Like many parents, he makes tradeoffs… (more)

Taxis launch Uber-like dashboard app ‘TaxiOS’

By  : sfexaminer – excerpt

Soon taxi drivers will throw out old-style taxi meters, and usher in new tools of the trade — if tech company Flywheel has anything to say about it.

Taxi technology company Flywheel announced it recently secured regulatory approval for its newest innovation: smartphone taxi meters.

“This is big for us,” said Percy Rajani, chief technology officer at Flywheel. “We can start really cranking up. … Now you’ve got the device in there so it’ll be a platform for all the other services.”

Flywheel’s software, TaxiOS, will run on dashboard-mounted smartphones. Rajani said with TaxiOS, Flywheel cabbies may soon be able to offer many of the services competitors like Uber and Lyft do, like dynamic pricing during slow-periods, carpool services, price splitting with other passengers and delivery services.

The announcement from Flywheel specifically details approval from California’s Division of Measurement Standards, which had to evaluate the app’s ability to charge fares based on GPS readings, which the San Francisco Examiner reported previously in our “sneak peek” of TaxiOS in October.

Though Flywheel already exists as an app for passengers, Flywheel’s new app and accompanying credit card reader can replace taxi dispatcher radios, mechanical meters, credit card readers and other traditional taxi functions — all in an Android-based smartphone… (more)

Taxis may have been down, but they are not out, and anyone can buy an app to compete in the “sharing” economy if they want to play that game.

SF’s Unsolved Mystery: Hoverboards

By sfweekly – excerpt

This has got to be one of the strangest stories of the season. Does the Idaho Stop Law apply to hoverboards, one of the most controversial vehicles of the season. They make everything else look tame, but, look at how the SF Bike Coalition rates them…

Hoverboards are this holiday season’s hottest gift — literally. A defect in the lithium ion batteries that power the self-balancing scooters has led to reports of the devices exploding. (On Dec. 15, one caught fire inside an East Bay house.) Amazon has pulled some hoverboards from the company’s virtual shelves and urged customers in some markets to trash the unsafe product and collect a refund, while major airlines have banned the devices on planes…

Asked if the Idaho stop also applies to hoverboards, the bill’s sponsor, Supervisor John Avalos, declined to comment.

“I really have no idea,” said Supervisor Eric Mar, who supported the bill.

Supervisor Mark Farrell (also a supporter) was unavailable to comment, although a spokesman from his office wrote, “I don’t believe [the Idaho stop] would apply [to hoverboards] — the ordinance specifically references bicycles.”

The San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency, tasked with regulating traffic, wasn’t able to clarify matters either.

“I don’t have anything to say,” an SFMTA spokesman said. “I’m not being cagey, it’s just that hoverboards aren’t vehicles, so it’d be the cops who’d care. There are no real vehicle regulations associated with hoverboards.”…

Not vehicles? What is a vehicle if hoverboards aren’t one? How do they classify skateboards? Are those vehicles? Are those covered by the Idaho Stop law? Where are they supposed to hover? Sidewalks? Bike lanes? traffic lanes?

When Cmdr. Ann Mannix, the San Francisco Police Department’s traffic chief, was asked if hoverboard riders would be penalized if they cruised through a stop sign, she said, “Depending on how egregious the violation, death or serious bodily injury may be the ‘penalty’ if the rider passes through and strikes, or is struck by, a car or strikes a pedestrian.”

So does the Idaho stop apply to hoverboards? Mannix couldn’t say, noting that “further research is required.”

The San Francisco Bicycle Coalition, which supports the Idaho stop, said that whatever the law, hoverboards should be low-priority for the SFPD. The behaviors that account for the majority of traffic deaths and injuries are when speeding cars run stop signs or red lights, fail to yield the right of way, or violate turn restrictions, they claim… (more)

Not sure how many members will drop their club membership after hearing this, but, if this is any indication of where that club is heading, they may be looking at a lot less support going forward. Comment on the source.

 

The Black Dust You Breathe on BART

: sfweekly – excerpt

When the Embarcadero BART station opened in 1976, the east wall was adorned by a 50-foot-tall sculpture made of 7,000 pounds of bright orange rope. By the time artist Barbara Shawcroft’s massive macrame was dismantled in 2014, after decades of bureaucratic tangling and artistic recrimination, the rope was as black as soot.

The air (and dust) that soiled tons of rope is also the air that thousands of commuters and transit workers breathe every day. And according to a group of young scientists, that air is potentially hazardous to your health.

Problems with the BART station’s air were first identified in 2011 by The East Bay Academy for Young Scientists, which partners public school students with U.C. Berkeley undergrads and science instructors to perform real-world experiments. That year, EBAYS students measured the concentration of particulate matter (PM) at BART stations — and found that PM concentration at Embarcadero was “through the roof,” says Kevin Cuff, EBAYS’s program director. “It was significantly in excess of what the EPA says are safe levels… It’s a significant health concern to children and adults with upper respiratory issues.”… (more)

Comments welcome on the source…

S.F.’s 2 big traffic transgressions keep the streets snarled

By Michael Cabanatuan : sfchronicle  – excerpt

Traffic in downtown San Francisco remains a mess — especially during the morning and evening commutes — despite a declared crackdown and a sharp increase in citations issued to the many impatient and impolite drivers who block lanes and intersections…

n 2015, the number of citations issued by Municipal Transportation Agency parking control officers for blocking intersections has more than tripled — from 4,652 in 2014 to a projected total of more than 15,000 by the end of the year.

‘Making a difference’

Citations for blocking bike lanes and double parking also have increased, though less dramatically. Tickets for stopping in bike lanes more than doubled, climbing from 1,424 to a projection of more than 3,000 this year, while double-parking tickets climbed about 47 percent, rising from 22,072 to an anticipated 32,336. The projections are based on figures through November… (more)

Lots of comments at the source. More are welcomed. Here is my favorite: “… Its the intentional re-engineering of our streets by the SFMTA, which has been hijacked by the anti-car lobby. They have unsuccessfully tried to impose ruinous taxes on driving, been told twice by the voters to shove it, and nonetheless persist with wild, reckless schemes to clog traffic. Removing lanes everywhere, retiming lights, etc. SFGate used to report on that. Its the Frankenstein monster that Newsom created when he did the while transit 1st thing. And its illegally funded by the one-percenters behind the Livable Cities cult.” – Maria