SF mulls Uber and Lyft fees, gas tax for transportation funding

By Joe Fitzgerald Rodriguez : sfexaminer – excerpt

The Transportation Task Force 2045 is weighing possible measures for future ballots to fund Muni service, streetscape projects and bicycle infrastructure in The City…

2045? They can’t get 2017 right so they are skipping ahead a few years to fix those problems. Who are they kidding?

San Francisco is mulling a 20-cent-to-$1 fee for Uber and Lyft rides in San Francisco to fund local transportation, like Muni, among a suite of more than 20 potential tax measures.

From a tax on companies in the “gig economy” like TaskRabbit, to a gas tax, those measures are aimed at raising millions of dollars for Muni service, streetscape projects and bicycle infrastructure throughout The City.

The new ballot measures in the form of taxes, fees and bonds may be introduced in the near and far flung future, with some measures introduced as early as 2018 and others — including the potential Uber fee — in years to come, because they require changes in state law, according to city documents…(more)

City Hall is living beyond its means. That is the message the voters sent when they opposed the sales tax. Gentrification is not just based on rent rates. Each tax adds to the cost of living. Property taxes raise rents. Gas taxes and fuel tax raises the cost of goods that need to be transported, such as food. Now that we are using less water they want to tax the tap water.

Construction for Van Ness Improvement Project will Shift Traffic Lanes Next Thursday for Utility Work

SFMTA Press Release:

San Francisco—Starting Thursday, November 2, the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency (SFMTA), which manages all surface transportation in the city including the Municipal Railway (Muni), will shift traffic lanes on Van Ness Avenue to begin replacing major utilities including water, sewer and emergency firefighting water systems as part of the Van Ness Improvement Project.

The project, a major overhaul of Van Ness between Lombard and Mission streets, will revitalize road and utility infrastructure, while making safety enhancements and transportation upgrades, including San Francisco’s first Bus Rapid Transit system.

Beginning the morning of Thursday, November 2, southbound lanes on Van Ness will be shifted to the center of the roadway to make room for the first of two construction work areas on Van Ness Avenue. On Monday, November 13, the second of the two construction work areas will be created when northbound lanes on Van Ness Avenue are shifted.

Once the lanes shift, on some blocks of Van Ness Avenue, two lanes traveling in the same direction will separate to pass on either side of median islands where 12 trees are protected for construction.

Utility work zones will be located on the western side of Van Ness Avenue between Sutter and McAllister, and the eastern side of Van Ness Avenue between Jackson and Lombard. Along with the traffic lane shifts, parking will be temporarily eliminated in the two utility construction zones, preserving parking opposite the construction zone when possible. Each of the work areas will occupy one side of the street, approximately five feet from the building line on Van Ness to the center of the roadway. Sidewalk widths will be reduced to no less than five feet adjacent to the two construction zones, and access for people walking will be maintained on both sides of Van Ness Avenue.

In preparation for the upcoming traffic changes, blue zone parking for people with disabilities, loading zones and street furniture such as newspaper stands, bus shelters, bike racks and trashcans have been temporarily relocated.

At times this work will require reducing Van Ness Avenue to one lane in each direction, limiting work to nighttime hours. Construction teams will notify neighbors in advance of night work and will be taking measures to reduce nighttime noise.

Once the two construction work areas are established, crews will begin by replacing the 1800s-era water and sewer systems beneath Van Ness, reducing their vulnerability to damage from earthquakes and minimizing potential service outages. Portions of the emergency firefighting water system, which supplies more than 1,200 fire hydrants through San Francisco, will also be overhauled and new street and sidewalk lighting will also be installed. This intensive and disruptive phase of work is expected to continue through Winter 2019.

By the end of construction, projected in 2020, Van Ness Avenue will be a greener, safer, and more efficient street everyone can enjoy for years to come. The work will also provide a major overhaul of underground utilities that will allow for a more resilient infrastructure that can will keep the area running when we need it most.

For more project details and to sign up for construction updates, please visit sfmta.com/vanness.

If you live or work anywhere nearby Van Ness Avenue, you may want to let the Supervisors know what you think of the plan. I don’t see any mention here of the holiday break that is generally put in place so the merchants can survive during the busiest shopping time of the year when many make the bulk of their profits. If 50% of a block consists of commercial properties, and the owners who want a holiday construction break they are supposed to get one. Contact your supervisors and your state reps Ting, Chiu, and Wiener. Van Ness is part of the state and federal highway system and the state is partially to blame for the mess since they turned it over to SFMTA.

Van Ness BRT project delay may impact Golden Gate Transit operating costs

By Joe Fitzgerald Rodriguez : sfexaminer – excerpt

San Francisco’s traffic woes are the Bay Area’s traffic woes.

Golden Gate Bridge, Highway and Transportation District officials pointed to the two-year delay of San Francisco’s Van Ness Bus Rapid Transit project as a source of financial pain at a finance committee meeting Thursday, during a review of their 2017 strategic financial plan.

But the bridge district’s budget would also look more rosy — to the tune of $1.5 million — if San Francisco roads were simply less clogged, according to district documents… (more)

Most people blame the SFMTA for the mess that makes the Millennium Tower look like small potatoes. We need Peskin to direct the 30 plus SFCTA staffers at the SFCTA to prepare a report on the Walsh contract. Who suggested using a Design-to-Build contract, used in small construction jobs, as a good way to design and manage the massively complex and growing multi-contractor mess that we have on Van Ness Avenue.
Who supported this project management style and who advised against it? Can we quit listening to the people who get it wrong and start paying attention to the people, and the public, who get it right?
Until this mess gets sorted out City Hall should stop all non-essential new projects from breaking ground.

We should stop installing building billion dollar old technology on our streets when new tech may solve much of the problem. See this new system being tried on China now and then decide how to “design for the future”. http://www.sfexaminer.com/v…

Uber Finally Sees Decline in Riders

By Joe Kukura : sfweekly – excerpt

And San Franciscans have made the biggest dent.

For all of Uber’s screw-ups, none of them ever seemed to hit their bottom-line money making. The self-driving cars running red lights didn’t do it. The sexual harassment scandals didn’t do it. The fare manipulation and price gouging schemes didn’t do it.

Maybe it was a combination of all of the above, but something finally did it. According to CNet, Uber has experienced its first-ever decline in readership, according to business travel expense accounting firm Certify… (more)

De Young Museum tries to slam brakes on making Golden Gate Park car-free Saturdays year-round

By : sfexaminer – excerpt

For half a century, John F. Kennedy Drive in Golden Gate Park has been car-free on Sundays to the enjoyment of walkers, cyclists, disco-dancing roller-skaters and more — but similar Saturday closures, enacted a decade ago, only span the summer.

Now, an effort is underway to make the popular thoroughfare car-free on Saturdays year-round, the San Francisco Examiner has learned.

Opposition, however, may kill that effort before it’s even officially proposed to the public.

Mark Hollein, director of the de Young Museum that’s located near John F. Kennedy Drive in Golden Gate Park, laid out the museum’s opposition in a Sept. 7 email to San Francisco Recreation and Parks Department General Manager Phil Ginsburg, which was obtained by the Examiner.

“I received your message regarding exploring the potential of extending the current six-month closure of JFK to a year-round closure,” Hollein wrote. “I cannot lend my support to additional road closures in the immediate vicinity of the de Young.”… (more)

Separate the bikes from the cars. Cyclists can ride through the park instead of on the streets. There are plenty of bike trails through the park and they can just as easily put in more bike paths as bike lanes. As some have pointed out, children are better off not breathing the exhaust, and the cars do not drive through the park, they drive on the streets. If you really care about the cyclists, give them their own bike paths inside the park.

SFMTA: Residents prefer ride-hailing companies to buses and bikes

by curbed – excerpt

Public transit, bike, and pedestrian travel up in yearly survey, but not by much

On Tuesday, the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency (SFMTA) presented the results of its fifth annual transit survey, which found that fewer San Franciscans are getting around via their own cars. But many residents have eschewed public transit or bikes in favor of the newfangled car services.

SFMTA began conducting the annual Transportation Decision Survey in 2013 to measure efforts to curb the use of private cars.

While private car use has declined almost every year—it’s now a minority option for daily commuters—that doesn’t necessarily add up to fewer cars on the road…(more)

This leads one to wonder if we are not better served by restoring parking for residents to avoid the hoards of Ubers and Lyfts commuting into the city to drive us around.

LA, Orange County transit agencies seek their own ride-sharing services

By : dailybreeze – excerpt

Look out Uber and Lyft, more competition is on the way.

Public transit agencies in Los Angeles and Orange counties announced Monday that they’re seeking private-sector partners to operate new door-to-door ride-sharing programs.

The proposed “micro-transit” programs would begin operating in selected areas this summer, offering cheaper door-to-door rides than Uber and Lyft — as low as $5 per trip with free transfers to buses and rail lines.

The service would be designed to boost ridership and to keep up with private-sector technology innovations, said Joshua Schank, chief innovation officer at Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority, or LA Metro.

“The idea behind this service is that there are many people who need better public transit in Los Angeles that we cannot adequately serve with our existing bus and rail network,” Schank said. “You’ll be able to summon a vehicle. It’ll pick you up at a point near where you are and transport you to a point near where you’re going.”

Schank’s Office of Extraordinary Innovation was formed in 2015 to seek private-sector partnerships such as this that incorporate new technology to improve transportation.

LA Metro has been studying a ride-hailing, ride-sharing program for months, and Schank said it will send out a request for bids to private companies on Wednesday, but didn’t offer specific details about its program, such as cost and initial service areas.

“The private sector knows this better than we do,” Schank said. “We’ve developed the project internally, figured out what we wanted it to look like, and now we’re ready to ask private industry for their ideas.”

Similar to Lyft and Uber, the systems would be accessible through a cellphone app. But they won’t require that the user have a credit card, and they will accommodate disabled riders… (more)

Article sent by a reader with this comment:

And the lawsuits will be flying…they will use PUBLIC MONEY to subsidize ride-sharing services? To stay alive. Anyone else with thoughts on this? Uber is already burning investor money to grab market share. The only way these public agencies can do what is suggested here – to undercut private companies – is to use public funds to subsidize even further the cost of a ride share commute. Free passes to the buses? Who’s money is this? This is amazing.

Editor: FYI:

MTC and SFMTA are already subsidizing Motivate and Ford GoBikes in the Bay Area. They set up private/public partnerships and get the cities to hand over public street parking to gentrify the neighborhoods and soften them up for takeover for luxury condos. This does nothing to solve the state affordable housing problem, or the public transit system. It pushes the poor out to make room for wealthy investors.

Details on the Related deal, that was not shared with the public until the appearance of the GoBikes made it necessary to shine a light on the MTC deal to form a public/private partnership with Related-owned Motivate. Ford is not the operator, as it is with Chariot. That may be the worst PR move of false advertising Ford has done in some time, as the GoBikes spring up unannounced all over the city, Ford is being blamed, prompting a boycott Ford attitude as people decide to take back their streets, one bike station at a time. Other share companies may also object to the exclusive deal SFMTA has carved out for their preferred partners.

 

 

 

The Lexus Lanes — and why they won’t work

By Zelda Bronstein : 48hills – excerpt

Night-Bridge

Bay Bridge photo by zrants

Instead of rewarding carpools and getting people out of private cars, we are rewarding wealth and encouraging more people to drive. How does this make sense?

One of the hallmarks of neoliberalism is the application of market solutions to market-generated problems. It’s an approach that’s bound to fail, because market-generated problems can only be solved by non-market solutions; but to the neoliberal mind, no-market solutions are anathema. Unfortunately, this approach is guiding city and regional planning in the Bay Area.

A case in point is the October 5 hearing on “Job and Office Trends” at the SF Planning Commission. As Tim Redmond reported, the planners focused on the severe imbalance between jobs and housing in the city, and how that imbalance is making it impossible for many people who work in San Francisco—especially those of modest means—to live near their jobs. What the planners missed was the source of that problem: their own unending pursuit of new commercial space, especially new office space. In Redmond’s words:

“The entire presentation by the department staff worships at the altar of growth. When you look at the slides, it’s as if we are competing with the rest of the nation for who can grow faster, and have the most “healthy” economy, which means the fastest growing.”

It also means the economy with the highest prices. Never mind that the tech influx is the major source of the astronomical housing prices and the accompanying displacement of economically vulnerable San Franciscans. During public comment, longtime affordable housing advocate John Elberling noted that he hadn’t heard “the word gentrification” or anything.

“about the human consequences of accommodating growth, which is clearly the current mission of the San Francisco Planning Department, even when the growth, the commercial growth, is clearly more than we can accommodate.”

The same “marketizing” growth mania is driving another misguided planning scheme: the installation of HOT (High Occupancy Toll) or express lanes on Bay Area highways. On October 9, new HOT lanes went into operation on I-680 between Walnut Creek and Dublin. Former HOV (High Occupancy Vehicle) lanes, twelve miles southbound and eleven northbound, have been converted into express lanes that will operate between 5 am and 8 pm. (In the Bay Area, the term “rush hour” long ago became an anachronism.)…

Until I attended the briefing, I thought that express lanes were intended to decrease congestion. Not so. Their purpose, said Caltrans Deputy District Director Sean Nozzari, is to “help us manage traffic congestion better” by opening “available capacity to solo drivers.”…(more)

Management by Confusion: Once again we are being charged top dollar for confusion on our streets and highways. These programs are NOT user friendly and they contradict their stated purpose and goals.

The “experimental” traffic and parking management programs are so confusing the SFMTA Board and Board of Supervisors has trouble understanding them. If the “experts with detailed printed charts, maps, graphs, surveys, reports and personal Q and A after presentations can’t understand the program, how will the public figure it out?

It is hard enough keeping track of your online bank accounts and nesting email messages. Now drivers are expected to deal with driving along curving streets while watching out for children, pets, and stupid humans texting as they cross the street and cyclists who ride everywhere but in the “protected” bike lanes they demanded be installed for their safety on city streets.

On highways we are supposed to purchase yet another payment tool if we are to avoid paying huge fees for doing something we didn’t know to avoid in the first place. How is this legal, ethical, or good for society?

 

Lower Haight Construction Woes

By Nuala Sawyer : sfweekly – excerpt

A small business owner received a citation from the city — for a square of sidewalk that they’d already dug up.

Small businesses in Lower Haight had a rough summer, which has turned into a bumpy fall, and will soon be a harsh winter. Construction has been underway for months to replace aging sewer pipes, repave streets, widen sidewalks, construct bulbouts and generally upgrade the entire neighborhood’s infrastructure. It’s needed — though easy to complain about when jackhammers outside shake your entire restaurant’s dining room.

But many of the inconveniences — customers’ cars getting ticketed while construction workers’ vehicles get off scot-free — make it even harder for those running a small business to survive. And one business owner, Matt Nudelman, who owns the Lodge on Haight, has had enough. On Sept. 30, he received a notice of violation from the Department of Public Works for a “sidewalk nuisance.” The culprit, according to the inspector who photographed it and filed the complaint, was a small stain outside the Lodge’s front door…

The kicker: That square of sidewalk no longer exists. Before the notice even landed in Nudelman’s mailbox, the entire street in front of his restaurant was dug up. Now, in order to enter his business, customers have to walk 20 feet to either side of large orange barriers. There is nowhere to lock up a bike or park a car. And the piles of trash left behind each day make the entire facade of his business look dangerously unappealing — the very thing that Public Works is citing Nudelman for…

The Supervisors are holding multiple hearings about problems with the multiple street projects that are creating havoc on our streets, pushing more families out of the city, and killing businesses that don’t have deep investor pockets to prop them up while they struggle to survive.

You might want to protest by phone or email if this bothers you in hopes of stopping the pace of new projects and street closures. If you object to the hassle of getting through town now, you will be really annoyed if the SFMTA and the Board of Supervisors approves the next big anti-traffic project they are planning for Folsom Street.

They want more bike lines and protected bike lanes on Folsom Street to make your access to the Bay Bridget more difficult than it already is. As most people are by now aware BART is already packed and often has problems operating under current conditions so switching to the BART is not much of an option, especially since there is a parking shortage at the stations and no plans to expand that.

Buses and public transit vehicles will have no better access to the bridge than they currently have so cutting off lanes does nothing to help them.

As some of us pointed out over a year ago, there is a huge labor shortage that is being exacerbated by the city projects that are forcing more talented contractors out of the area when they can’t deliver quality workers, so what are wee getting? A huge expensive mess. Rushing contractors is never a good idea if you want a job done well.

See our letter sent to the Board of Supervisors this week and edit to personalize your own complaints. Ask them who they are representing by continuing to approve more street projects.

If you can, show up to the board of Supervisors and SFMTA meetings to complain about any plans to expand the street projects until the ones under way are complete and paid for. This is the only way we are going to end this nightmare. discoveryink.wordpress.com/no-new-street-projects/

 

 

Chariot Is Suspended in San Francisco, and the Transportation Biz Is Still Hard

By Aarian Marshall : wired – excerpt

Chariot, the Ford-owned van commuter service that crowdsources its routes from passengers, is the subject of some controversy in San Francisco, the city where it was born. For its 3,000 to 4,000 daily riders, Chariot is a valuable, non-personal-car form of mass transit, a cost-effective-ish alternative to the city’s sometimes sluggish and limited public transportation system (a rush hour ride is $5, compared to Muni’s $2.50). For others, the service’s vans are a straight-up nuisance: loudly idling near their homes, belching exhaust, double parking on already crowded streets, and hanging out stops meant for city buses.

So it was with a mixture of joy and despair that San Franciscans greeted the news that Chariot had been suspended in California. (It also operates in Seattle, Austin, and New York.) Late Thursday afternoon, as rush hour bore down upon the City by the Bay, the California Public Utilities Commission yanked the service’s operating license. Chariot had failed three routine inspections by the California Highway Patrol, as officials found not all of its drivers had the right licenses to operate the company’s 14-person passenger vans. “We are committed to always providing our riders with safe and reliable service, and we comply with regulatory orders even when we disagree with them,” the company said in an email sent to riders… (more)