Reviving SF’s taxi industry: The city is looking at solutions

By Michael Cabanatuan : sfchronicle – excerpt

San Francisco’s taxi industry, bludgeoned in recent years by Uber and Lyft, needs to catch up with the changing times to survive.

That’s the assessment of a pair of consultants whose report, released Wednesday, recommends that the Municipal Transportation Agency, which regulates the city’s taxi industry, work with cab companies to improve their service and reduce the number of taxis on the streets to match reduced demand but increase the number of cabs capable of carrying persons with disabilities.

What it doesn’t recommend, despite the wishes of taxi drivers, is what the city and the agency are not allowed to do: Regulate the transportation network companies, specifically Uber and Lyft, that have nearly decimated the taxi industry since their drivers arrived in San Francisco over the past decade.

That oversight falls to the state Public Utilities Commission, not the city…

“the MTA is really looking to get the right regulations in place so that the taxi industry can compete,” Toran said.

To accomplish that, the report recommends taxi companies become more customer-friendly by offering mobile-phone apps…

Those companies should also be released from current restraints that prohibit them from offering special or discounted rates …

To help boost interest in operating taxi vans to carry wheelchairs, an often time-consuming effort, the report recommends that drivers be offered up to $300 a month to help buy a van and the same amount per month to cover maintenance and operating costs… (more)

 

 

Sharks sue to slow BART San Jose extension in parking dispute

By Michael Cabanatuan : sfgate – excerpt

The San Jose Sharks, locked in an NHL playoff battle, unleashed a different kind of fight this week, filing a lawsuit to slow the BART extension to downtown San Jose until a dispute over parking can be resolved…

 

The suit comes a month after the VTA approved environmental studies for the BART extension through downtown San Jose to Santa Clara, and a week after BART agreed. Plans include a stop at Diridon Station, across Santa Clara Street from the arena, which hosts not only Sharks games but concerts and other events.

“We strongly support the BART project through downtown San Jose,” said Sharks President John Tortora in a statement. “However, we don’t think the current plan addresses several important issues for SAP Center, including a promise to ensure adequate parking in the Diridon area and a safe and accessible environment for our customers during construction.”… (more)

Opinions on Regional Measure 3

Pro/Con: Will $3 bridge toll hike fix traffic or worsen it?  Backers, opponents debate the proposals in Regional Measure 3 on the June ballot…(more)

Regional Measure 3 improves Bay Area highways, transit: Voters should reject RM3, and demand instead a plan focused on transit, shared rides and bikes..Ballot proposal will directly benefit commuters throughout the region, no matter which direction they are traveling…(more)

Opinion: Bridge toll hike would condemn Bay Area to gridlock: …Voters should reject RM3, and demand instead a plan focused on transit, shared rides and bikes…unless you vote no on  Regional Measure 3, MTC will persist with its failed strategy…(more)

Report recommends SF slash available taxis to save industry

By Joe Fitzgerald Rodriguez : sfexaminer – excerpt

NBTaxis

Taxis in North Beach by zrants

San Francisco may slash the number of available taxi medallions — which dictates the number of cabs — by one-third, in a bid to “reinvigorate” the industry.

That’s one of a number of major recommendations released Wednesday from a respected taxi-industry consultant commissioned by the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency, which regulates taxis but not ride-hails like Uber and Lyft.

It’s those tech titans that have the taxi industry and SFMTA concerned, as the old guard of drivers-for-hire lose significant ground in nearly every respect: There are twelve times more ride-hail trips across The City than taxi trips, according to city data, including lucrative rides to and from the San Francisco International Airport. To revitalize the industry in 2017 the SFMTA commissioned taxi industry expert Bruce Schaller, principal of Schaller Consulting, to analyze trends in San Francisco — and recommend a way out.

“How does the MTA as a regulator help the taxi industry innovate and step up?” Kate Toran, head of taxi services at SFMTA, told reporters in a press briefing Wednesday. That, she said, is the crux of this report… (more)

Ford GoBike again eyes the 24th street BART plaza

By Elizabeth Creely : missionlocal – excerpt

Harrison17th

Ford Gobikes on Harrison, across the street from a public bike rack. There are a few of those GoBikes near public bike stands on Harrison. photo by zrants

…If the proposal for the installation at 24th Street BART is accepted, the location will come equipped with the newest addition to Ford GoBike’s fleet: electric bikes.

There’s no date set for the new 24th street BART docks.

Depending on the location, either BART or the SFMTA has to officially sign off on the proposal before the installation can begin, and each agency has an approval process.

Jim Allison, BART spokesperson, said BART’s goal is to have 8 percent of its passengers accessing the trains by bicycle by 2022.  Already the agency has partnered with GoBike at 16th Street, and Allison said they “will review/approve any equipment on our property.”

If the dock is located on the street, the San Francisco Municipal Transit Agency will mail notices to all addresses within 250 feet about any pending installation, according to Heath Maddox, senior planner with San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency.

Walsh acknowledges some lingering discontent with the service.

“Not everyone’s going to be happy,” she said in the plaza. But she also thinks that this time, the overall reaction might be different.

“Now people are used to seeing the bikes,” she said. “and we can show that people are using these bikes, and that they are providing a service. And so we’re back to engage in the conversation again.”… (more)

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