Here is a novel approach to solving the escalator mystery

Why don’t we stop building escalators until we find the answer to why they don’t work in San Francisco but do work in other cities.

Is it a design flaw? Is it a management issue? Is there a built in obsolescence feature such as some people suggest? A giant sucking magnetic force that renders all escalator’s unable to function properly? How can we continue to build systems that never work? Let’s just stop building them until we figure out why.

How we people going to deal with broken escalators at the Central Subway stations when they malfunction? Will they put up with a steep long climb?

Find a city where escalators work, find what who designed them and why they work there, and try to use a proven design and contractor in San Francisco and on the BART systems. Solve the mystery before continuing to build more broken elevators.

Advertisements

Muni memo reveals internal agency struggle to solve operator shortage

By Joe Fitzgerald Rodriguez : sfexaminer – excerpt

The backbone of San Francisco’s commute, Muni, is suffering a citywide slowdown.

But that transportation crisis might have been averted, some transit officials allege, if warnings of operator training shortages late last year had been heeded.

Internal strife within the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency over how to handle that shortage was revealed by an internal memo obtained by the San Francisco Examiner in a public records request…

Irwin Lum, a past president of the Muni operator union, TWU Local 250-A, said the email showed SFMTA “tried to put too many changes in at once.”

“The training department couldn’t handle it,” he said. But he also noted that Kirschbaum and the transit department should have anticipated the training department would not have been able to keep pace with all the historic service boosts they were trying to implement at Muni.

“I think her expectations were too high,” Lum said. “This place don’t function like that, you know what I mean?”… (more)

Cancel all new projects until the ones that are unfinished are complete.

We sound like a broken record repeating over and over again, “SLOW DOWN. Quit adding more layers of confusion on the over-burdened public that doesn’t want or need any more changes to deal with.”

All changes is not good. A reliable system should be SFMTA’s top priority.

San Francisco residents want and deserve a city that moves freely, not a state-of-the-art testing ground for tech. No one wants to get up in the morning to ask their phone how they are getting to work today. Your productivity falls immediately once you start in a stressful confused state.

RELATED:

Muni failed to warn mayor’s office of induced service meltdown, sources say

By Joe Eskenazi : missionlocal – excerpt (includes graphics)

A chart documenting Muni’s missed hours of service. The yellow arrow indicates June 25, the date of the Twin Peaks tunnel closure. Graphic by Steve Pepple.

On Monday, Mission Local published an article with documentation revealing that Muni has inflicted citywide transit mayhem by shunting buses and drivers off its most crowded lines to patch service during the long-planned Twin Peaks tunnel closure. Some of San Francisco’s busiest bus routes have been hamstrung with unannounced, de-facto cuts of up to 33 percent, resulting in thousands of hours of missed service, long waits, packed vehicles and legions of agitated riders…

As such, even high-level city officials — like the rest of us — didn’t realize the ensuing months of abysmal transit service wasn’t just Muni business-as-usual until they read about it in the newspaper: First, in late July, in the Examiner, and then on this site this week, with additional data and details…(more)

 

 

Supes, neighbors block Ford GoBike’s citywide expansion

By Joe Fitzgerald Rodriguez : sfexaminer – excerpt

Ford GoBike’s expansion has been halted and slowed across The City, and the reason given is often the same — there wasn’t enough notice given.

From Glen Park to the Haight, the Mission District and most recently, the Marina, residents are pushing back against the rental bike docks, which are usually placed in parking spaces meant for cars.

And as the bike rental service is on the cusp of its planned expansion to 7,000 bikes Bay Area-wide, the San Francisco Board of Supervisors is also increasingly pushing back against it and the Lyft-owned company that operates the program, Motivate, by saying that not enough notice has been offered to neighbors about new station installations…

But while each supervisor sees this problem through a neighborhood-focused lense, each individual battle adds up: The bikeshare-slowdown now stretches citywide… (more)

First we want to thank our supervisors for supporting the rights of residents and the public to determine how our streets are used. Stopping the spread of corporate controlled curb space is important. Some people may not be aware that the Board of Supervisors passed Ordinance 180089 to allow the public to make these decisions by giving the supervisors greater control and oversight of the SFMTA Board decisions. Look it up if you are not familiar with the ordinance: https://metermadness.wordpress.com/actions/sfmta-review/

We need some data on the number of stations to bikes Motivate and other private entities have installed in the city and the number of vehicles assigned to private parking spots. We have noted a number of GoBikes parked in public bike parking spots that are meant for private bikes and a lot of empty Motivate racks.

Perhaps we need to ask Randy Rentschler, director of legislation and public affairs with the Metropolitan Transportation Commission, which negotiated Ford GoBike’s exclusivity contract to provide docked bikeshares within the Bay Area, what the intent of that contract was or is. He claims he just wrote the contracts and it is up to us to deal with them. If the public objects to them being placed on our streets they should honor our objections. We don’t need an excuse.

The above mentioned ordinance is a good start in taking back control of our streets, but the voters of San Francisco may want to consider a Charter Amendment as well if these matters and others are not resolved to our satisfaction soon. Let Mayor Breed and the Board of Supervisors and the candidates running for office know how you feel. They are in office to serve the public not the corporations.

Breaking: Proposed Uber and Lyft per-ride surcharge could pump $30M a year into San Francisco’s coffers

By Joe Eskenazi : missionlocal – excerpt

Deal struck to drop proposed gross receipts tax on Uber, Lyft paves way for city to glean per-ride charges

Supervisor Aaron Peskin today confirmed that he’s dropped his plans to hit “Transportation Network Companies” — Uber, Lyft, etc. — with a gross receipts tax on their revenue. As such, the companies will acquiesce to a proposed per-ride surcharge, to be enabled by forthcoming state legislation from Assemblyman Phil Ting.

Peskin said the proposed 3.25-percent tax on every TNC ride in the city could result in users of Uber, Lyft,  et al. pumping $30 million a year into San Francisco’s municipal piggybank — and perhaps more in the future… (more)

We do need a bit of clarification on the meaning of this “deal”.  What is the goal of taxing the TNCs? To make money to control traffic and gridlock, or are there other issues the public would like to address and does this deal address those issues? SF is not the only city effected by this problem that has increased regional traffic as well. How will a fee solve the bad driving habits of ride-share drivers?\

Seattle did not settle on a small surcharge option.

RELATED:

Chinese bike share company to leave Seattle after city approves program, steep permit fees

By Matt Mokovich : komonews – excerpt

SEATTLE – Ofo is out. The Chinese-based and heavily funded bike share program said the City Council’s decision on Monday to impose an annual $250,000 permit fee for bike share companies wishing to operate in Seattle was too much…

“The exorbitant fees that accompany these new regulations -the highest in the country – make it impossible for Ofo to operate and effectively serve our riders,” Lina Feng, General Manager of Ofo Seattle said in a statement on Monday. “As a result, we will not be seeking a permit to continue operating in Seattle.”…(more)

Is this what it takes? $25000.00 fees. 

A new study says services like UberPool and Lyft Line are making traffic worse

By Faiz Siddiqui of The Washington Post : mercurynews – excerpt

The explosive growth of Uber and Lyft has created a new traffic problem for major U.S. cities and ride-sharing options such as UberPool and Lyft Line are exacerbating the issue by appealing directly to customers who would otherwise have taken transit, walked, biked or not used a ride-hail service at all, according to a new study.

The report by Bruce Schaller, author of the influential study, “Unsustainable?”, which found ride-hail services were making traffic congestion in New York City worse, constructs a detailed profile of the typical ride-hail user and issues a stark warning to cities: make efforts to counter the growth of ride-hail services, or surrender city streets to fleets of private cars, creating a more hostile environment for pedestrians and cyclists and ultimately make urban cores less desirable places to live.

Schaller concludes that where private ride options such as UberX and Lyft have failed on promises to cut down on personal driving and car ownership – both of which are trending up – pooled ride services have lured a different market that directly competes with subway and bus systems, while failing to achieve significantly better efficiency than their solo alternatives. The result: more driving overall.

Ride sharing has added 5.7 billion vehicle miles to nine major urban areas over six years, the report says, and the trend is “likely to intensify” as the popularity of the services surges. (The study notes that total ride-hailing trips in New York increased 72 percent from 2016 to 2017 and 47 percent in Seattle over that time. Revenue data from the D.C. Department of For-Hire Vehicles showed the ride-hailing industry’s growth quadrupled in the District from late 2015 to 2017.)

The nine cities studied were New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, Boston, Washington, Miami, Philadelphia, San Francisco and Seattle..

.. (more)

Instead of admitting that the ride-hails are adding to the traffic, the EMERGING MOBILITY | EVALUATION REPORT put out for the SFCTA, blamed the TNCs for not releasing their data. One doesn’t need the TNC’s data to observe that the ride-hails pouring into the city from out of town to compete with all the pubic transit systems are private vehicles. Since they don’t park, but drive around waiting for a ride, there is bound to be more traffic on all the streets. There is an easy solution to that problem. Return the curbs back to the public.

Here is an idea of a pilot project: Remove the special the parking privileges for the TNCs. Return street parking to the public in some neighborhoods and see if more people driving themselves around and parking doesn’t result in less traffic and healthier retail stores. Once the ride-hails lose their customers, they will quit driving into town. That should clear some of the congestion off the bridges and highways, and maybe more people will switch back to public transportation, especially if the bus stops are left in place.

BART Investigating 3 Homicides In Less Than A Week

cbslocal – excerpt (includes video)

OAKLAND (CBS SF) — Violence on Bay Area Rapid Transit has resulted in three homicides over the last week with the latest being the fatal stabbing of an 18-year-old woman as she stepped off a train Sunday night.

UPDATE: BART Police Arrest Suspect In Brutal MacArthur Station Stabbing

BART Police Chief Carlos Rojas called the homicides ‘an anomaly’ at a press conference on Monday… (more)

This is really bad news for the public transit folks. The BART are at loss as to how to combat crime and violence on their system. Getting rid of your car and taking BART or Muni is putting your life at risk these days.

 

 

Got a $1 billion-plus idea to fix traffic, transit in the Bay Area?

By Erin Baldassari : mercurynews – excerpt

The MTC is putting out a call for projects that would transform transportation as we know it in the Bay Area. Pictured here is a proposal architect Jeff Heller proposed more than a year ago to put a new “Southern Crossing” that would carry trains, autonomous vehicles, bicyclists and more, as one of several imagined transportation investments in the Bay Area…

SAN FRANCISCO — Think you know how to solve the Bay Area’s nightmarish traffic? Have you been fantasizing about where a future BART system could go? Do you have a tech-savvy solution for reducing solo-driving or integrating autonomous cars into Bay Area freeways?

The Metropolitan Transportation Commission wants to hear from you…

Don’t worry about cost, says MTC spokesman Randy Rentschler. The minimum price tag for capacity-adding transit or road projects is $1 billion, and there is no maximum.

“If we can get enough interest in a bold vision,” Rentschler said, “we can chase the money for it later.”….

The problem, he said, is that government agencies are constrained — by what is politically feasible, by laws that require them to use existing funding streams when sketching out their visions for the future, by being focused on what is achievable in the short-term. Over the past several decades — ever since the BART system was envisioned and built — those constraints have led to small, incremental changes, he said.. (more)

Pay attention to these warnings. There is no limit to how much taxpayers will pay to stay in the bay as long as the MTC is running the programs. How do the taxpaying residents of the Bay feel about that? Do we want the constraints on the government agencies lifted? Or do we want unlimited, unrestrained costs and taxes and price hikes to support unlimited growth?

Lyft’s Big Bike-Share Buy Is About Ruling the Streets

By Aarian Marshal : wired – excerpt

Today, Lyft announced it has acquired North America’s largest bike-share operator, Motivate, for a reported $250 million. The move comes just three months after archrival Uber took over Jump Bicycles, a smaller and flashier dockless electric bike-share company, for $200 million. And thus, the urban transportation wars click into a higher gear, as the fight moves to the bike lane…

In a blog post, Lyft said it would take over Motivate’s technology and corporate functions, including, critically, its city contracts...

On its face, the acquisition of Motivate—which will be rebranded Lyft Bikes—makes a ton of sense. Ride-hailing companies are nervous that vehicles like cycles and scooters will cut into their business by giving people cheaper, traffic-free options for making short trips through dense areas. So instead of fighting these new modalities, the ride-hailing giants bought them out…

That could be the sort of advantage Lyft needs to dominate transportation across the city landscape, no matter your mode of choice. If, that is, it can answer a few pesky questions.

Relationships

Motivate has decade-long agreements with some of America’s biggest cities, including Boston, Chicago, New York, the District of Columbia, and the San Francisco Bay Area. Some of those (including New York, the Bay Area, and Boston) are exclusive, meaning no one else is allowed to operate a bike-share in the area…

Lyft says its acquisition won’t affect Motivate’s existing contracts.

But is that true? Uber also took a close look at Motivate before Lyft cut the check, and a source familiar with those negotiations says Uber worried those contracts left room for cities to renegotiate or even cancel exclusivity if control of the company changed hands…

 A spokesperson for the Bay Area’s transportation authority did not respond to specific questions about its contract with Motivate. …

it’s not crazy to think Lyft could use this new real estate to build what urban transportation nerds have dreamed about for years: “mobility hubs,” where riders switch between a bike and a car and the public bus and the subway. Could a station be a place to charge electric bikes and scooters and maybe even cars?…

Keep your eyes on the corners—and, of course, the limits of Motivate’s contacts, which probably limit what Lyft can do with these spaces... (more)

NOW is the time to DEMAND A PUBLIC HEARING.

ENUF already! Demand they stop removing pubic parking now. This is Airbnb on the streets. Merchants and residents are already having problems with delivery services with the curb parking that we have left now. We cannot afford to loss more curb parking.

Who is on the public’s side? Ask your supervisor and those running for the office in November what they plan to do about the privatization of our streets and the private contracts being signed by the SFMTA. Some supervisors have already taken a stand on our side. Thank them and ask them how you can resolve parking problems using Ordinance #180089.

RELATED:
GoBike expansion fuels neighborhood conflict as Lyft plans bikeshare growth
GM Preps for Robo-Taxis in San Francisco
City report says Uber and Lyft are hoarding vital transit data

 

 

 

 

Chariot adds commute routes for UCSF employees, with public funding

 : sfchronicle – excerpt

San Francisco commuter van operator Chariot has started a shuttle service for UCSF Mission Bay employees who commute from the East Bay. It’s the first such service funded by a public transit agency, and it aims to ease congestion on the Bay Bridge.

UCSF, one of the Bay Area’s largest employers, received a $750,000 grant from the Metropolitan Transportation Commission, which oversees regional transportation planning, to coax its workers into fewer cars. As part of the initiative, UCSF tapped Chariot, a subsidiary of Ford Smart Mobility, to operate two weekday shuttle routes between Emeryville and West Oakland and UCSF’s Mission Bay campus during the morning and evening commutes. The service began June 18 with eight Chariot vans, each carrying up to 14 passengers.The service will run for one year as part of a broader MTC initiative called “Bay Bridge Forward,” which is funneling $40 million to improve bus lines, parking lots and ferry routes. Most of the money is going to public transit operators, but a small slice is going to UCSF and Kaiser Permanente. Kaiser, headquartered in Oakland, received $150,000 to manage its workers’ commuting and parking patterns.

Chariot and UCSF officials said they don’t know how many employees will use the service. About 6,000 of UCSF’s 25,000 employees work at Mission Bay, and more than a quarter are estimated to live in the East Bay. The cost to UCSF employees for the new Chariot routes is $7.50 per ride.

“We want to help our employees get to work each day, while also easing traffic heading into the city,” Erick Villalobos, UCSF’s director of transportation services, said in a statement… (more)

We are speechless. This is how the public transit agencies spend taxpayer dollars? We pay for UCSF employees to ride in comfort for $7.50 a day, while commuters pay higher bridge tolls and parking fees. How is this fair? No sooner has the ink dried on the RM3 election, than the public fund get siphoned off to corporate sponsors of the bill. Voters should retaliate by repealing the gas tax.

Silicon Valley bus drivers sleep in parking lots. They may have to make way for development

By Wendy Lee : sfchronicle – excerpt

Recreational vehicles line a parking lot at the Santa Clara Valley Transportation Authority Cerone bus yard in San Jose. The transit agency lets some employees with long commutes sleep overnight in the lot.

On weekdays, bus driver Adan Miranda hauls people across Silicon Valley. But his own roughly 100-mile commute home to a Sacramento suburb nearly killed him, so 15 years ago he decided to start sleeping in a San Jose parking lot four nights a week.

It’s a choice that’s becoming more common for people who want to work in the Bay Area but can’t afford a place to live. What’s unusual about Miranda’s situation is that his parking space is provided by his employer, the Santa Clara Valley Transportation Authority. For 20 years, the agency has doled out permits to sleep on its property to employees who have homes 50 miles away or farther.

Now the quirky perk may be coming to an end. Its elimination places an ironic underscore on the region’s housing crisis: The bus drivers’ temporary bedsits may have to make way for permanent development… (more)