Chase Center: A giant roomba that is still a bad idea

By Stuart Schuffman : sfexaminer – excerpt

Given this incredible propensity for screwing up huge projects, none of us should be surprised that The City went ahead with this absurdly placed arena.

With the official opening of the Warriors’ new home, the Chase Center, just a few weeks away, I’d like to take this moment to remind the Bay Area what an absolutely stupid idea it was to build this thing. For a town that likes to pride itself on being on the forefront of everything, San Francisco is irredeemably shortsighted when it comes to urban planning…

Given this incredible propensity for screwing up huge projects, none of us should be surprised that the city went ahead with this absurdly placed arena, despite plenty of public outcry…

From when this arena was first announced, much of the opposition to it centered around not just the fact that we’ve somehow decided to make traffic even worse for 50+ extra days a year, but the question of “How can emergency vehicles get through.”… (more)

For the last 10 years the Port and the SFMTA have conspired to turn SF into Battery Park West. Nothing they have done to improve the Bay or access to it has improved anything. We now have complete gridlock as planned. And that is not just private vehicles we are talking about. Try moving on the T-Line, The L-Tarval, or the BART. People are tired of the game. What is going to happen if PG&E shuts down service for a day? Five days? Better have an exit plan. It will not be pretty.

Safe parking site up for approval

By Laura Waxman : sfexaminer – excerpt

Neighbors, Planning Commission to weigh in on facility for homeless living in vehicles

The San Francisco Planning Commission on Thursday will weigh a proposal to temporarily use a parking lot near the Balboa Park Bart Station as an overnight rest stop for RV and car dwellers, complete with services.

Pending the commission’s approval, the city planning code would be amended to allow long-term parking and overnight camping in vehicles, as well as the addition of restrooms and showering facilities at a current parking lot near the Balboa Park Bart Station that is slated for the construction of 100 percent affordable housing next year.

If approved, city officials estimate that the Safe Overnight Parking Pilot program could launch at the site for one year as early as November. The program aims to provide sites for eligible homeless people currently living in their vehicles to park and sleep and receive case management and social services…(more)

‘Downright alarming’: Bay Area test riders criticize self-driving taxi service

By Amanda Bartlett : sfgate – excerpt

Mountain View-headquartered Waymo wants to expand the rideshare with its advanced self-driving taxi service. But if San Francisco test riders have anything to say about it, the previously Google-owned company still has a long way to go if its executives plan to compete with Lyft and Uber.

One man reportedly griped that the awkward end to his ride made him feel like he was getting dropped off by his dad. Other passengers grumbled that Waymo made them late to work, according to a story from The Information.

Self-driving taxis don’t cut it yet.

California Pushes People Deeper Into Poverty by Towing Their Cars for Non-Safety Reasons

By Maya Ingram, of ACLA : laprogressive – excerpt

Living in California is already expensive enough for working families — paying rent, paying for childcare, putting food on the table, etc. — without also having to pay to retrieve a towed car. But every year, California local governments push countless families that are struggling to make ends meet deeper into poverty by towing their legally parked cars. Hundreds of thousands of cars are towed each year for non-safety reasons and to collect minor debts…

That’s why the ACLU of California is sponsoring AB 516, a bill introduced by Assemblymember David Chiu (D-San Francisco) to ensure California stops punishing poor people for being poor by towing their cars for non-safety reasons. Towing cars should be reserved for improving public safety and traffic flow, not punishing and plunging people into insurmountable debt. It’s important to note that AB 516 will still let cities tow abandoned and inoperable vehicles.

Cars are often towed without first giving owners notice and post-tow hearings offer shamefully inadequate due process protections. As a result, working families often lose their cars, leading to job loss, more debt, credit score dings, increased instability, and even homelessness(more)

We support AB 516 by David Chiu sponsored by ACLU of California.

BART official responds to Netflix original that takes aim at US’s failing transit systems

By Drew Costley : sfgate – excerpt

BART was briefly mentioned on the newest episode Hasan Minhaj’s “Patriot Act” on the state of public transit in the United States, but how much of what he talks about it in the episode applies to the state of public transit in the Bay Area?…

In a recent episode of Netflix’s “Patriot Act,” comedian Hasan Minhaj bemoaned the state of public transit in the United States, blaming the billionaire Koch brothers for stifling attempts by several major metropolitan areas to upgrade their public transit systems.

“I want to talk about public transportation. Look, it’s not just destroying my life,” Minhaj said. “Everyone hates public transportation.”… (more)

Failure of public transit is a tragedy not a comedy.

Let’s face it. The public transit system is failing. Not due to a lack of funds. Over a billion dollars a year for Muni is a problem, not a solution. They can’t hire enough drivers so they hire 55 PR flack to spin that story instead. Let’s blame the public for one thing. Let’s blame the public for voting for not having the wisdom to figure out who is to blame. The question we need to ask is, “who his benefiting from the failure of the pubic transit system? That is the culprit that needs to be taken out.

Opinion: Californians’ Transportation Choices Should Be Left to Them—Not Bureaucrats

Opinion By Kerry Jackson : capoliticalreview – excerpt

Last month, the Los Angeles Times reported that the Metro system “is hemorrhaging bus riders.” The news was presented as, if not a crisis, at least an urgent matter that needs to be promptly addressed. Yet that’s hardly the case.

It’s troubling, we’re supposed to infer, that “passengers have fled” public transportation “for more convenient options — mostly, driving.” According to the Times headline writer, this bloody mess is “worsening traffic and hurting climate goals.”

“The bus exodus poses a serious threat to California’s ambitious climate and transportation goals,” says the Times. “Reducing traffic congestion and greenhouse gas emissions will be next to impossible, experts say, unless more people start taking public transit.”…

While infuriating, it’s not surprising. Officials have openly telegraphed their desire to separate Californians from their automobiles. Media reports about “bold” plans “to wean Californians from cars,” efforts to “to inconvenience people out of their cars,” and using the law to “reshape urban lifestyles” are not uncommon.

Californians, though, who are probably more responsible for the country’s car culture than the residents of any other state — in the early 1920s, Los Angelenos were four times more likely to own a car than the average American — like their automobiles. The independence factor cannot be easily swept away…(more)

One riders’s story leaves no doubt as to why riders who can are getting off the bus…

Knowing my interest in the subject, my friend called me to complain about her ride on the 27 Muni line. The closest stop to her home is moving up the street. And I do mean up the street as there is a little rise in elevation, and this means she will have to plan on a 10 minute walk to the bus.. She talked to the said the driver about the lack of notice and to her surprise he was equally upset because the drives were told some stops are going away, but not which ones are being eliminated.

SFMTA gives them maps with all the stops but there is on indication on those maps of which stops are being cut. They are supposed to figure it out for themselves and he was mad. He said the purpose for stop removal is to speed up the buses, something we have know all along, but, who cares about fast buses? No one asked the riders whether they want faster buses or more bus stops. Can someone post a poll to give the riders a chance to voice their opinion?

The other thing that is flawed with the system is the Clipper cards. They don’t always work and tourists haven’t a clue a to how to gas the bus with a card. Some get free rides because the drivers can’t wait around for them to figure it out. That would really slow the buses down and they get dinged for slowing down.

Supposedly SFMTA is spending 30 million dollars to upgrade the Clipper system that will be obsolete soon. My friend who can’t drive, just got her card after months of waiting for it. Now she is frustrated again. She is hoping by getting her story out others will come forward and complain.

Our comments: People are not cogs in a machine we are human beings with thousands of different needs and expectations. SFMTA does not treat us like humans. They treat us like programable computers who can be manipulated by city policy and priority wonks who trying to force us into their mold. They should design a public transit system that fits humans instead of trying to force people to fit into their programs if they want people to choose the Muni.

Some people who work on the transit system understand the reason people choose to avoid public transit, but, they still think they know better than the pubic that is choosing to drive. Read the below article written by a city planner who sort of gets it.


A City Planner Makes a Case for Rethinking Public Consultation

By Warren Logan : city lab – excerpt

Warren Logan, a Bay Area transportation planner, has new ideas about how to truly engage diverse communities in city planning. Hint: It starts with listening.

A woman with a cane stood facing the corner of a Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) station. She was blind, and trying to make her way out through an exit. But the gate wasn’t where she thought it would be.

Warren Logan, an Oakland-based transit policymaker, approached her and asked if she needed help. She told him that she was headed to the LightHouse for the Blind and Visually Impairedcenter. After years of traveling into and out of San Francisco, she’d gotten the commute there down to a science. Hop onto the fifth car. Get out at Civic Center station. Turn left. Take an escalator up. Walk three feet to the left, and through the gate. But this time, she’d followed the path, and gotten stuck in a corner… (more)

More comments: Imagine that? A public servant listening to the public instead of preaching to them. Instead of hiring 55 PR personnel to SELL the latest SFMTA program, the staff should attend Dale Carnegie classes or some other customer service training program. Someone needs to learn that “the customer is always right” and a happy satisfied customer is a repeat customer.

This story illustrates how individual a problem can be and how many people do not fit the mold our transit service personnel are trying to fit us into. There are many physical limitations that are abundant in our population, poor or less than perfect eyesight is one of them. Color blindness is rather common and does not fit the criteria of the people who are designing our streets.

There is a comfort in routine that is not honored by a constantly changing transit system. If there is anything the SFMTA could do to alleviate the need for constant change, such as keeping bus stop where they are, for the blind and others who are less capable, and for the non-impaired who appreciate consistency, they might get a faster growing ridership. The constant backslapping and press releases are annoying and useless tools that have lost all credibility with the public.

SF sets a high bar for Lyft on electric bike rentals

By Joe Fitzgerald Rodriguez :sfexainer – excerpt

Newly spelled out city requirements could open the door for other e-bike providers

The City is taking a harder line with Lyft in requiring its bikeshare e-bikes to be available in San Francisco at all times, the San Francisco Examiner has learned.

And those strict new rules could potentially set the stage for The City to allow other bikeshare operators in San Francisco to offer e-bikes if Lyft fails to comply, insiders with knowledge of the industry said.

Lyft has struggled to provide the contractually obligated minimum number of e-bikes in San Francisco in recent months, prompting these stricter requirements in new rules emailed to the company on August 5, which were obtained by the Examiner… (more)

There are many ways to deal with bad deals and The City might have found one. Maybe we need to move to the stainless bike share model that most people seem to prefer. And maybe there are better, safer products out there than those offered by Lyft.

Did California Trump the Clean Car Rollback?

By Ben Jervey : sierraclub – excerpt

An end run around the Feds could duck Trump’s attack on clean air

Leverage is one of Donald Trump’s favorite themes—”don’t make deals without it,” he wrote in The Art of the Deal. In the two-year battle over clean car standards, California just reminded the Trump administration what real leverage looks like.

In late July, after months of secret negotiations, the agency responsible for writing the Golden State’s air pollution regulations, the California Air Resources Board (CARB), announced a surprise deal with four major automakers. Though the exact details of the agreement are not yet public, the parties agreed to implement fuel efficiency and greenhouse gas emission standards that are tougher than those proposed by the Environmental Protection Agency and the National Highway Traffic and Safety Administration (NHTSA), according to a term sheet CARB released. The deal amounts to an end run around federal agencies that would effectively blunt the impact of the Trump administration’s long-anticipated rollback of the Obama-era standards, which call for a fleetwide average of 54.5 miles per gallon by 2025… (more)

If there was ever a problem drivers and car manufacturers had it was never with wanting worse gas mileage or to pollute the air. If the administration wants to do something for manufacturers and drivers it can do something else, like fix the highways and bridges that are in need of repair. It could also work to install more electric charging stations for the electric car market that is gaining in popularity.

Gas station sleuths put SF’s red-paint transit lanes on hold

By Phil Matier : sfchronicle – excerpt

San Francisco has been told to hit the brakes on marking those red, transit-only lanes along Geary Boulevard after two brothers who own a gas station on the street busted the city for failing to follow federal guidelines.

The red lanes, which are open to buses and taxis only, have been laid down on a number of major corridors in recent years. They are part of a federal pilot program aimed at speeding up bus times and easing congestion.

The lanes are a hit at City Hall, but merchants often complain that they scare off customers.

“Traffic is mandated to stay out of the red lane. So drivers will either be forced to make illegal and unsafe turns into businesses along the boulevard, or bypass us and find a different business for their needs,” said Corey Urban, who along with his brother, Glenn Urban, owns the Shell gas station and car wash at Geary and Cook Street.

The brothers weren’t happy to learn that the city was planning to lay down 1.75 miles of red lanes in each direction along Geary from Gough to Stanyan, a stretch that includes their gas station.

When the city ignored their concerns, the Urbans started digging through federal regulations for the red-lane program.

They discovered that the city was supposed to be gathering data on transit times in existing lanes before slapping down the red paint, something the Municipal Transportation Agency wasn’t doing.

“For over three years, the SFMTA has just kicked our butt over this red lane stuff by not listening,” Glenn Urban said.

So the Urbans complained to the feds, who ordered the city last year to put the red paint on the shelf until it complies with the rules.

Paul Rose, a spokesman for the transportation agency, called the whole thing a misunderstanding between the city and Washington.

Whatever the case, there’s no red paint being slapped down in front of the Urbans’ gas station and no plans for additional transit-only lanes in the city until next year.

In fact, the city says it will redesign the lane in front of the brothers’ gas pumps to clarify that cars can turn in and out of the station…(more)


Bus lanes cause grief among merchants on Geary Street in San Francisco

By  : abc7news – excerpt

SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) — In San Francisco– so-called “red carpet” lanes are designated for taxis and public transit only to help those vehicles get through traffic. But these lanes are the reason a group of small business owners have taken on the San Francisco Metropolitan Transportation Commission.

It’s a pretty good living, owning one of the few car washes in San Francisco. For Corey Urban and his brother, it’s been a squeaky clean money machine siphoning business from Geary Boulevard without major hassles for almost three decades.

Now? Not so much… (more)

Muni Had Meltdown On N-Judah Line Just As Crowds Were Leaving Outside Lands Sunday

By Jay Berman : sfist – excerpt

Muni fails again, and this time with some drama Sunday night as an N-train’s doors jam and hundreds became trapped in sweltering cars for about 40 minutes Sunday night after Paul Simon’s set finished…

I may have been on the last N-train to successfully depart the Outer Sunset Sunday at around 9:55 p.m., because my colleague Joe Kukura reports that he got stuck on a “sardine-packed” train with doors jammed shut between 10:15 and 10:55 — all while three other trains became backed up behind it for over an hour. “We were trapped in insane heat and crowds and couldn’t get off,” Kukura says. “A couple passengers started having panic attacks and heat stroke so we pried the doors open with our hands to get out because the driver wouldn’t let us out. The red emergency door open levers were not working.”…(more)

What are the odds MUNI will not fail when crowds of people depend on it? This time it sounds like an actual meltdown with hot passengers on board. Glad I was not there to witness that.