My turn: Public-private partnerships are an industry gimmick that don’t serve public well

By Cathrina Barros : calmatters – exccerpt

The start of a new legislative session inevitably brings calls from industry for lawmakers to authorize privatizing state highway projects through so-called “public-private partnerships.”

That would be a mistake.

Proponents claim multiple benefits such as cost savings and efficiency. But they fail to mention that previous highway projects in our state built with the same scheme they seek have not delivered as promised.

In fact, they are marked by taxpayer bailouts, cost overruns and bankruptcies.

Let’s take a look at the record…

People who want to hand public highway projects over to private interests claim that cost overruns are the responsibility of the developer, not taxpayers.

Tell that to the California Transportation Commission, which in 2017 spent $91 million to cover unexpected cost overruns to the Presidio Parkway developer… (more)

On a local level, SFMTA and their enterprise partners have taken over large swaths of public space in various public/private enterprises that are hard to pin down. It is extremely difficult for the public to access information on the financial details of these agreements, though many attempts have been made. Ask the taxi drivers how their medallion investments have turned out or the firm that financed them. What we end up with is privatization of public property. Rarely does the enterprise benefit the public. If anything, the public/private enterprises become an easy way to hide disbursement of funds from the public.

It appears that Governor Newsom is giving up on the largest boondoggle in recent memory that was supposed to be a public/private enterprise but never caught the imagination of any big money investors. He is suspending High Speed Rail, limiting it to the area that has already been built. Putting the rest of the project on ice. It seems that no one really expects that train to bring in the billions it will take to break even.

Bullying, verbal abuse, a ‘culture of silence’: independent investigator makes first report on sexual harassment inside SFMTA

By Joe Fitzgerald Rodriguez : sfexaminer – excerpt

San Francisco’s transportation agency is a haven for bullying and verbal abuse — but there is hope for change.

Those are the conclusions of the first report from Mayor London Breed’s independent “ombudsperson” Dolores Blanding, who in October last year was assigned to investigate an alleged culture of harassment, including sexual harassment, at the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency, which runs Muni.

Blanding’s appointment by Breed on October 5, 2018 followed a series of stories by the San Francisco Examiner that exposed unresolved complaints from women who were groped by colleagues and, in at least one case, allegedly bullied into sex by a superior… (more)

SF Transit boss catches heat for Muni Metro rush hour breakdown

By Rachel Swan : masstransitmag – excerpt

Feb. 06–A switch failure that caused major Muni Metro delays Tuesday morning drew a scalding rebuke from the chair of San Francisco’s transit board, who said it pointed to larger problems with the bus and rail system.

“I have to say this isn’t acceptable,” Chairman Malcolm Heinicke said during Tuesday’s board meeting. Heinicke said that malfunctioning switches have been an issue at Muni for years. He noted that the city’s transportation chief, Ed Reiskin, formed a rapid response team to handle them — which apparently didn’t work…

Reiskin blamed “staffing and communication issues” for preventing Muni from fixing the broken switch more quickly. Normally the San Francisco Transportation Agency keeps two staff members at the switch near Church Street and Duboce Avenue, and another two at the tunnel near Embarcadero Station. But on Tuesday morning only three workers showed up at Embarcadero, and no one was stationed at Church and Duboce… (more)

Muni’s HR director out after allegations sexual harassment complaints were mishandled

By Joe Fitzgerald Rodriguez : sfexaminer – excerpt

Employees at San Francisco’s transit agency have for months alleged that sexual assault and harassment allegations go largely unheard…

SFMTA Director of Human Resources Don Ellison’s “last day in the office” was Friday, according to an email sent by SFMTA Director of Transportation Ed Reiskin to all 6,000 SFMTA staff on Monday, which was obtained by the San Francisco Examiner and verified by the SFMTA…

Ellison’s role will be filled, at least temporarily, by interim Acting Director of Human Resources Derek Kim…

Ellison’s exit is not the only SFMTA leadership turnover that appears related to these allegations — John Haley, SFMTA director of transit, retired from the agency last October following a lawsuit from a subordinate alleging he groped her… (more)

For people who call vehicles home, SF supe wants to provide safe haven

Supervisor Vallie Brown has been preparing the latest of a round of city legislative efforts to help the rolling homeless get into permanent housing and avoid racking up pricey parking and registration tickets. But getting those people to accept help is always a tough task.

The measure calls for the creation of a “triage center,” where people living in a vehicle could come to access services like showers and bathrooms without fear of their vehicle being towed. They could also then be assessed by homelessness specialists en route to services, if they choose to pursue them.

Brown’s ordinance also seeks to create a pilot program for what she’s calling a “Vehicular Navigation Center,” a safe place to park overnight for people living in a car or RV. Similar initiatives in Seattle and other California cities have been met with mixed results…

Plans in Los Angeles, where the latest official street counts show at least 9,000 people living in vehicles, and in Seattle, where counts show the surrounding county has 2,300 vehicle campers, have been met with such resistance that few have been actually launched. The most successful program is in Santa Barbara, where a program begun in 2004 has grown to include 133 parking spaces…

Sonoma County ran a lot in Santa Rosa with about 80 safe parking spots for several years until 2017, when the state funding used to run it ran out. County Supervisor Shirlee Zane, who helped spearhead the program, called it “very successful,” and said she’d like to see it replicated if money ever comes available again…(more)

Scooter company Skip outpaces Scoot in SF parking citations

By Joe Fitzgerald Rodriguez : sfexaminer – excerpt

Just a few months into San Francisco’s scooter permit pilot program, The City’s only two scooter operators, Scoot and Skip, have already shown one way in which they’re different:

Skip scooters have been slapped with far more parking tickets than Scoot.

That’s according to citation data provided by the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency, which regulates the e-scooter companies… (more)

San Francisco Sees Decline in Bike Riders

By Christie Smith : nbcbayarea – excerpt (includes video and graphic)

Number-of-Bicyclists-Drops-in-San-Francisco_Bay-Area online

It’s a shock to say the least as numbers show fewer people are biking in the Bay Area, a stunning statement considering how much the city has made streets bike friendly.

With more people moving to San Francisco, riders said there are not enough protected bike lanes for bicyclists.

Considering how much the city has done to make streets more bike friendly, trends show a decrease of riders from 126,000 riders in 2015 to 95,000 in 2017 according to the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency (SFMTA)… (more)

One of the interviews is with a Valencia Street Bike Store who admits to having sinking sales over the last five years. It appears that not all industries have done well during the explosion of Bike Lanes. If any bike store in town should be successful it should be one on Valencia, one of the heaviest traveled bike streets in town. We should determine which industries are successful and which are failing by talking to more merchants on Valencia.

Scoot, Skip fail to deliver on promises in first e-scooter accountability report

By Joe Fitzgerald Rodriguez : examiner – excerpt

Scoot and Skip pledged helmet lockboxes, low-income programs and more in the applications to The City that helped them earn highly-sought e-scooter pilot program permits.

But in their very first compliance report to the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency, which the agency required after 90 days of permitted operation, those companies revealed they’ve yet to deliver on some of those promises.

“Those were critical promises and commitments made in their original applications. We’re working to ensure their compliance,” said Ben Jose, a spokesperson for the SFMTA.

He added that failing to come into compliance with promises to San Francisco that earned those permits in the first place could lead to dire consequences for the e-scooter companies…

SF’s legal e-scooters, by the numbers
Oct. 15, 2018 — Scoot and Skip launch in SF
22 — Riders who signed up for Skip’s low-income discount program
39,015 — Drivers Licenses approved by Skip to join its platform
4 — Scoot “Kicks” riders caught driving unsafely and warned by the company
39 — Scoot “Kicks” riders caught parking badly and warned by the company
58 — Self-reported collisions on Skip e-scooters… (more)

How can this business plan work when there is little incentive to rent the things, and so many people hate them? They are really cheap to buy, take up no space in your house or  and lightweight enough to carry up stairs to store in an apartment or leave in any bike rack. Just buy one if you want one.

If only our former Mayor now Governor would take it upon himself to take control of the CPUC we might be able to solve some of the problems our state is faced with. CPUC was set up to regulate, not support the public utilities. They are supposed to manage them for the benefit of the public.

When you think about the power the CPUC has over our lives you should worry about the people wielding that power. They unleashed private corporations on our streets and denied local governments the right to regulate them. The traffic jams they created are bad enough, but now they are poised to allow PG&E to pass their legal costs to the ratepayers in the form of higher rates.

Now the Governor plans to tax our drinking water to finance the needs of millions of new citizens moving to California to fill the millions of units of new housing being built. CPuC will likely support that tax on drinking water. If that doesn’t get your attention, not much will.

 

Jammy dodgers: Boffin warns of auto autos congesting cities to avoid parking fees

By Richard Speed : theregister – excerpt

And if traffic is slow, that’s just another efficiency saving

New research anticipates congestion problems as owners of self-driving cars allow their steeds to prowl the streets instead of forking out for parking charges.

The paper by Adam Millard-Ball, an associate professor of environmental studies at the University of California, Santa Cruz, was published in the rivetingly named “Transport Policy”.

Millard-Ball makes the point that far from requiring automated parking abilities, such as those trumpeted by the likes of Volkswagen, a self-driving car need never actually park at all. The robotic chariots can simply putter around the streets until the driver is ready for collection… (more)

Is this the nightmare our CPUC is planning to unleash on us next? Constantly prowling auto autos, that never park will congest our streets, waste fuel, and add to the emissions a lot more than private cars that park will. Everyone has noticed the increase in traffic since TNCs arrived on the scene. All hte TNCs at least park at night, while the drivers sleep so the streets are clear at night. Allowing corporation to flood the streets with cars that never park means the traffic will never stop.

We need to implore our Governor to take control of the CPUC.by appointing a new board that will regulate the industries not support them. No one is happy about the PG&E fiasco. Suing them while the CPUC gives them free reign is a waste of taxpayer money. If we had a regulatory agency that regulated the industry we would not need to take it over.