SFMTA Forgets They Need To Direct Traffic, Ups SF

By Eve Batey : sfist – excerpt

Remember how we told you that San Francisco was expected to spend about $4 million of taxpayer money on the Super Bowl? Well, scratch that figure! As it turns out, the good old San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency had forgotten that they’d need parking and traffic control officers to work the event, so it’s actually going to cost significantly more.

I’m going to assume that you remember last week’s report from Kate Howard, San Francisco’s budget director that estimated that the city would spend about $4 million to keep things going during next month’s football frenzy. According to Howard, the San Francisco Police Department would spend about $1.5 extra on Super Bowl related expenses, the San Francisco Fire Department would need about $600K extra, and the SFMTA would need $1.7 million more that usual.

Except they won’t, as according to a report from Matier and Ross, the transit agency “forgot to include the 90 parking and traffic control officers who will be needed to keep the cars and buses moving before and after events — and also staff the street closures that will come with the weeklong celebration.” (Guess this guy wasn’t available.)

The cost of those 90 staffers for a week of San Francisco Super Bowl traffic madness? An additional $638,000, bringing SF’s Super Bill up to $4.6 (or so) million.

But then again, even Howard says we can’t really know for sure how much any of this stuff will cost, saying in her memo (all of which you can read here) that “actual departmental expenditures will not be known until after the event has concluded.” That’s comforting!… (more)



Will Self-Driving Cars Cost California Millions in Revenue?

Thomas Lee : govtech – excerpt

The state collects around $300 millions from automotive fees based largely on human errors, but the influx of autonomous vehicles could cause this number to drop significantly.

When it comes to public finances, government officials tend to live in the moment. They might want to make an exception in this case.

Google, Uber and Tesla are all testing cars in which powerful software, not humans, operates the vehicles. It’s not hard to foresee the danger these self-driving cars pose to automobile sales, which is one reason why General Motors last week decided to invest $500 million in San Francisco on-demand car service Lyft. Smart move, since GM officials seem to be getting ahead of what could be the mother of all disruptions.

Mayors and governors should adopt GM’s forward thinking because driverless cars will inevitably drain hundreds of millions of dollars of revenue from public coffers each year.

Reduced car ownership will mean fewer automobile sales to tax. But perhaps more important, cops and meter maids will write a lot fewer tickets because smart cars presumably won’t double park, change lanes without signaling or bust through the speed limit. Since cars sit empty about 95 percent of time, self-driving cars can greatly increase efficiency by constantly being in use…


“Increased fuel economy and electric vehicles have made the gas tax a failure,” said Richard Wallace, director of the transportation systems analysis group for the Center for Automotive Research in Ann Arbor, Mich. “Yet you see no political will to do something” to replace the revenue…


Still, autonomous vehicles hardly represent a zero sum game. If self-driving cars are safer than human operated ones, fewer people will get hurt in accidents, resulting in cost savings for the taxpayer. The National Highway Transportation Administration estimates that public revenue pays 7 percent of vehicle crash costs. Therefore, autonomous vehicles could save taxpayers about $10 billion a year, according to the Brookings Institute.

Throw in less traffic congestion and need for road repairs, the savings could jump to more than $100 billion a year, the think tank said.

But states and cities will still need to offset the immediate loss of direct revenue from parking and traffic violations. One idea is to move to a system where the government charges people who use self-driving cars fees based on usage, including miles traveled. Last year, Oregon became the first state in the country to start such a pay-as-you-use program for all cars, not just self-driving ones, which charges about 1.5 cents per mile.

In any case, officials probably won’t deal with the problem until they see a dramatic drop in revenue, Williams said.
“Things will get so bad that they have to dream up some approach” to the issue, he said… (more)

The Costs of Self-Driving Cars: Reconciling Freedom and Privacy with Tort Liability in Autonomous Vehicle Regulation

Tesla software update allows self-parking, limits speed

How many problems could we expect to see to our economy, legal liabilities, and personal freedoms if self-driving cars take over the roads?
The self-driving cars are more expensive than Teslas, so, not many people can afford to own one. Insurance rates will be high. Many industry-related jobs could be cut out of the economy.
No way around it, public transit costs more than private transit. There must be a balance to pay the bills. Who is going to pay for the public transit systems when you remove the car drivers from the equation?