Transit working group formed to recommend improvements to Muni service

baycitynews – excerpt

Agency in transition as city searches for replacement for Director Ed Reiskin

San Francisco Mayor London Breed announced Monday that she is creating a working group to review Municipal Railway service and how to improve it.

The working group, which will include transit experts, labor leaders and other advocates, will look at Muni’s current bus and rail service and recommend actions the city can take.

The creation of the group comes during a turbulent time for the agency, which had its director of transportation Ed Reiskin announce in April that he will be resigning in August after eight years in the job.

Muni has faced criticism in recent months for issues such as problematic sensors on new light-rail vehicle doors, a reported shortage in bus drivers, and allegations of incomplete background checks for contractors.

The working group will be co-chaired by Ed Harrington, the former city controller, and Gwyneth Borden, the incoming chair of the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency Board of Directors.

The group will complete its assessment and release a report by January, according to the mayor’s office.… (More)

Supervisors Threaten to Reject SFMTA’s Budget Amid Rising Frustration

By Ida Mojadad : sfweekly – excerpt

The Board of Supervisors have little say in SFMTA’s policies, except during budget season.

Supervisors on Monday threatened to wield the only substantial authority they have over the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Authority: rejecting its budget.

At the Land Use and Transporation Committee meeting on Monday, Supervisors Ahsha Safaí and Aaron Peskin ramped up talk of turning down the agency’s budget, which is up for consideration in the next few weeks. The tactic isn’t unheard of but comes amid rising frustration over SFMTA’s actions. This time, it was over cuts to parking attendants in the 39 city-owned garages…

Peskin and Safaí sought answers about future cuts to parking attendant staff that were largely rebuffed, and now promise to take a close look at the issue as they approve, or disapprove SFTMA’s roughly $1 billion budget.

“This is a situation where an agency that has little, if any oversight…we have the thumbs up or down,” Safaí said about the budget. “More and more, it’s becoming apparent that we’re going to have to exercise that authority.”… (more)

If you agree with Safai and Peskin that the budget should not pass this year as a threat to the SFMTA, you should let your supervisors know. Contacts are here:

True Sake window sign blasts SF meter maids, offers discounted sake with a parking ticket

by Teresa Hammerl : hoodline – excerpt

Four months after True Sake (560 Hayes St.) took aim at a new neighborhood parklet with a window display, the shop is at it again. Its target this go-round: San Francisco’s meter maids…

Hoodline tipster Natalie D. alerted us to the sake shop’s new display, which popped up sometime last week.

The display takes aim at the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency (SFMTA), which monitors cars and distributes parking tickets. The enforcement division was once known as the Department of Parking and Traffic (DPT), though it dropped that moniker when it merged with the SFMTA in 2010.

Featuring sake bottles draped in official SFMTA parking tickets, the sign rebrands the DPT as the “Department of Public Taking.”

“Small business loves cars,” it argues, noting that “cars = customers.” By contrast, the sign alleges, “San Francisco hates cars.”… (more)

Merchants all over town agree and want to stop the SFMTA from killing their business by stopping their programs to remove parking and public access to the streets. Meanwhile, Assemblymember David Chiu is working on a bill AB 516 that would remove the towing option. Would this help the merchants, or will the SFMTA just raise ticket and parking fees? When will residents and business owners join to protect their common interests?

SF won’t grant new bikeshare permits during legal battle with Lyft

By Joe Fitzgerald Rodriguez : sfexaminer – excerpt

Ride-hail company sought temporary restraining order against SFMTA.

It’s official: San Francisco won’t be granting any new bikeshare permits until its legal tussle with Lyft concludes.

Lyft, which operates the bikeshare outfit Bay Wheels, formerly known as Ford GoBike, sought a temporary restraining order against the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency last Friday, seeking to block it from entering into new bikeshare agreements.

That was the opening engagement in Lyft’s lawsuit with SFMTA, which also was filed June 7, and ultimately will see the ride-hail entity defend its exclusivity contract to operate bikeshare in San Francisco.

Wednesday, however, the first tussle came to a muddled conclusion… (more)

One may assume that neither party is benefiting from the public/private partnership.

Fewer calls on city to ‘blow up’ taxi permit system

By Tim Redmond : 48hills – excerpt

Supes looking at ways to help mediallion holders facing unfair competition from Uber and Lyft

Sup. Sandra Lee Fewer yesterday called for the city to “blow up” its current taxi permit system, find a way to pay back drivers who spent up to $250,000 for a medallion just before Uber and Lyft illegally damaged the industry, and start all over again.

“It’s an outdated model,” Fewer said at a hearing today. “We are working with a framework of what we have.”…

Fewer suggested that the city buy back all the existing medallions, rent them out for a while to people who would have exclusive rights at SFO, and figure out how to completely redo the cab system in SF.… (more)

Finally a solution to clean up the the medallion mess. The city should buy them back since they devalued them.

Lyft ditches Ford GoBike branding for new name, ‘mobile art’ designs

by Katie Pyzyk : smartcitiesdiv – excerpt

Dive Brief:

  • Lyft has rebranded the San Francisco Bay Area’s bike-share program from Ford GoBike to Bay Wheels.
  • The company is also launching an e-bike that debuted in San Jose yesterday and will expand throughout the Bay Area in the coming weeks. Those bikes can be rented through the Lyft app, while traditional pedal bikes still can be accessed through the bike-share program app. The e-bikes will feature a lock so they can be parked places besides a bike-share docking station, qualifying them as dockless devices.
  • The traditional pedal bikes will now display artist designs to become what Lyft refers to as “mobile art.” The e-bikes will have black frames with wheels in the company’s signature pink color… (more)

Ousted e-scooter company Bird purchases rival Scoot, acquiring SF permit

By Joe Fitzgerald Rodriguez : sfexaminer – excerpt

Bird has already been approved to continue operating Scoot in The City

Bird, one of three e-scooter rental companies ousted from San Francisco last year, has finally found a way back into The City.

The company is acquiring its rival, Scoot, one of only two e-scooter companies permitted to operate in San Francisco…

“Backdoor” permit purchases, as some insiders call it, are increasingly becoming a common practice. Ride-hail giant Lyft purchased bikeshare company Motivate in July last year, granting it a contract featuring exclusivity to operate in San Francisco. And Lyft’s rival, Uber, bought dockless e-bike company JUMP in April last year, granting it San Francisco operating permits, too.

Seeing a pattern, the SFMTA crafted its Powered Scooter Share Pilot Program with a provision exactly for this scenario. When a company purchases a permitted e-scooter company, SFMTA Director of Transportation Ed Reiskin is empowered to re-evaluate the permit.

Tuesday, he did exactly that…(more)

SF won’t find new Muni leader before current director leaves

By Joe Fitzgerald Rodriguez : sfexaminer – excerpt

Ed Reiskin, the city director in charge of Muni, bike lane planning, street design and parking enforcement officers, is on his way out.

…As a quasi-independent agency, the SFMTA Board of Directors ultimately hires the new SFMTA director, who oversees San Francisco’s streets.

Muni operations are perhaps the most demanding responsibilities on the plate of the SFMTA director, which is partly behind Reiskin’s announced August departure. After a string of tough turns for the agency, including last summer’s service meltdown, a reported culture of harassment, broken train doors on Muni’s new $1.1 billion future fleet, and more, Mayor London Breed ordered the SFMTA to search for a new SFMTA director by August.

While the SFMTA directors are staring down that deadline they’ve already noted that meeting it isn’t realistic… (more)

Uber, Lyft riders find longer waits, backups with new SFO pickup plan

By Carolyn Said : sfchronicle – excerpt

San Francisco International’s new location for ride-hail pickups has left some riders and drivers frustrated when it caused traffic backups leading to longer waits— the exact problems it was supposed to prevent.

The airport diverted ride-hailing pickups to the top floor of the domestic parking garage starting last week, saying the cars were choking its roadways. It redesigned the rooftop level with new striping and several waiting areas for passengers. Uber and Lyft protested the change, particularly since it eliminated a program in which drivers dropping off passengers could immediately get paired with people seeking a ride home…(more)

SFMTA counts this as a victory. They love chaos. That is the thing they are best at. Since when have any of their plans worked to speed buses, protect pedestrians, or improve the flow of traffic? When conditions worsen at the rate they have on SF streets, it is hard to miss the fact that we have the wrong people for the job.

Lyft sues SF over bike-share program

Megan Rose Dickey : tech crunch – excerpt

Lyft is suing the city of San Francisco, claiming that the city is violating its 10-year contract with Lyft that would give the company exclusive rights to operate bike-share programs. San Francisco, however, says the contract does not apply to dockless bike-share, but only station-based bike-share.

In its lawsuit, Lyft is seeking a preliminary injunction or temporary restraining order to prevent the city from issuing permits to operators for stationless bike-share rentals…(more)

People who oppose this claim may want to avoid using Lyft services by riding your own bike.