Just how awful is the California Department of Motor Vehicles?

By Susan Shelley : whittierdailynews – excerpt

Just when you thought the news about the California Department of Motor Vehicles couldn’t get worse, it got worse.

In February, the state Legislative Analyst’s Office released its review of Gov. Gavin Newsom’s transportation budget. The report reveals that the state’s Motor Vehicle Account has an “operational shortfall” of $400 million in the current year and is projected to be insolvent two years from now.

The Motor Vehicle Account receives most of its revenue from fees for vehicle registration and driver’s licenses, and the money goes mainly to support the activities of the California Highway Patrol and the DMV.

The LAO reports that the governor’s budget includes proposals intended to help the Motor Vehicle Account’s bleak condition, including shifting some expenditures to the state’s general fund. But it won’t be enough. The administration’s own projection foresees a shortfall of $40 million in 2021-22 and $150 million in 2022-23…

Submit your guess, and your opinion, to your elected representatives in Sacramento.

If you don’t have them on speed-dial yet, go online to findyourrep.legislature.ca.gov and get their names and contact information… (more)

Credit cards, payment plans, shorter lines: California lawmakers move to fix DMV

By Bryan Anderson : sacbee – excerpt

Is this enough to fix the DMV problem?

California lawmakers are moving to address some of the biggest problems at the state Department of Motor Vehicles. A number of proposals aimed at reducing wait times and improving service have recently been introduced.

These are some of the bills worth watching:

  • CREDIT CARDS, PAYMENT PLANS: AB 867 (Jim Wood, D-Healdsburg)
  • CAR REGISTRATIONS: SB 460 (Jim Beall, D-San Jose)

(more)

Ask Ed Reiskin

What’s next at SFMTA? Tomorrow is your chance to call into KQED Forum and ask Ed Reiskin some of those questions you have been wanting to ask regarding the state of the SFMTA and his roll in making it what it is today. Ed is scheduled to be on KQED Forum Friday, March 8 at 10 AM and you may call in with questions at: 866 733-6786  or email the Forum program: forum@kqed.org

 

 

 

 

L.A. may tax Uber and Lyft rides to curb traffic congestion

By Laura J. Nelson : latimes – excerpt

Transportation officials are considering a tax on Uber and Lyft rides in Los Angeles County, saying the Bay Area tech companies don’t pay their fair share to maintain public streets and exacerbate congestion in a traffic-choked region.

The ride-hailing fee is in the early stages of discussion at the Metropolitan Transportation Authority, along with more than a dozen other strategies to manage congestion and fund transportation projects before the 2028 Olympic Games.

Metro’s board of directors are scheduled to vote Thursday on whether to approve a study of the ride-hailing tax. The directors also will consider approving a study on congestion pricing, which would analyze the effects of converting more carpool lanes to toll lanes, taxing drivers on the number of miles they travel, or charging a fee for motorists to enter certain neighborhoods… (more)

Uber and the Ongoing Erasure of Public Life

By Nikil Saval : newyorker – excerpt

Uber has become a subsidized alternative to the public-transportation systems that it claims to support.

Last September, Uber rolled out a rebranding campaign. A new television commercial showed car doors being flung open and the young and the old crowding in, flying out, and ending up in a small open-air mercado or at a lake. Though there were a few drivers, the image presented was of ceaseless, liberating mobility for passengers, anywhere in the world. Uber changed its logo, too, to a demure sans-serif display—white against a black background, its only flourish a modest pair of mirrored stems attached to the “U” and the “b.” This was a significant change. Since 2016, the phone app and the stickers that identified Uber-enabled cars had enjoyed an image designed partly by the co-founder and then-C.E.O. Travis Kalanick: a circle bisected with a cord, placed against the background of a colorful tile. When tilted ninety degrees counterclockwise, some design and technology journalists noted, it looked unmistakably like a human bent over and seen from behind.

The era of what has been referred to as Uber’s “asshole” logo happened to coincide with the company’s longest stretch of bad press, including multiple reports of sexual abuse inside the company and by its drivers. In 2017, the company’s investors ousted Kalanick. His successor, Dara Khosrowshahi, has made considerable efforts to improve the company’s image in advance of a likely I.P.O. this year. Last October, Khosrowshahi, like many corporate leaders, pulled out of a summit held by Saudi Arabia’s crown prince, in Riyadh, following the murder of the journalist Jamal Khashoggi. (Uber still benefits from vast infusions of Saudi funding.)… (more)

Continue reading

California Autobahn? Long-shot bill proposes freeway lanes with no speed limit

By Alyssa Pereira : sfgate – excerpt

Motorists sick of idling in traffic on Interstate 5 in California would theoretically have another option, if a new bill introduced on Friday to the state legislature turns into a reality. But critics say that’s not likely.

State Senator John Moorlach (R-Orange County) introduced SB 319 as a way to ease congestion on I-5 and State Route 99. Moorlach pitched the idea as a way to ease greenhouse gasses from idling cars.

The plan calls for the Department of Transportation to build two additional traffic lanes on the north and southbound directions of both highways. Those lanes would not have speed limits, although drivers in the other pre-existing lanes would still need to abide by the official 65 miles per hour limit… (more)

Replacing High Speed Rail with a High Speed Highway, another bay crossing, and train electrification sounds like a cheaper, easier, faster solution to reducing traffic and congestion, if that is the goal. Without taking a position on any these options, we applaud the thinking outside the box on how to do more with less taxpayer transit dollars. Recent over-budget large public transit projects have not gone well. It is time to shift priorities and do more with less.

Can Walnut Creek be a model for reducing gridlock? It hopes so

By Hannah Norman : bizjournals – excerpt

As Bay Area traffic congestion hovers at an all-time high, the East Bay suburb is taking matters into its own hands to limit single occupancy vehicles on the roads and becoming a model of smart transit among smaller cities… (more)

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.

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.

Will a “front door” help San Francisco steer the stampede of emerging technologies testing on its streets?

By Hannah Norman : bizjournals – excerpt

Electric scooters. Delivery robots. Uber and Lyft. Even the soon-to-be shuttered van service Chariot started operating without the approval of San Francisco, with city policies as a secondary thought.

Now San Francisco, which has been ground zero for many emerging technologies, is looking to better keep tabs on the various startups keen on testing or operating their new products in the city. After six months of meetings attended by representatives from over 100 companies, city agencies, think tanks and community organizations, a new report was released Thursday by the Emerging Technology Open Working Group, led by city administrator Naomi Kelly.

“It is clear that technology is part of the social fabric of life in San Francisco,” the report says. “Yet as keepers of the public right-of-way and other public spaces, we must develop appropriate policy measures to mitigate risks and unintended impacts on San Franciscans and our infrastructure.”

The report will next be presented to city’s board of supervisors, likely sometime in January, followed by a hearing… (more)

.

 

 

New Laws for cyclists in 2019

By Robert Montano : fresnobee – excerpt

Each new year brings change to the California Vehicle Code. Many of these changes will have a significant impact on roadway safety. Californians are fortunate to have Legislators who work to identify and respond to the evolving trends of traffic safety. This year, we see changes to helmet use on bicycles, motorized scooters and the expansion of the hit-and-run offense within bicycle paths (lanes). Here are highlights on several of these new laws:

Helmet use on motorized scooters (AB 2989, Flora): Bicycle helmets are no longer required for riders of motorized scooters who are age 18 or older. Motorized scooters may operate within a bicycle path and on highways with speed limits up to 25 mph. Local jurisdictions may pass ordinances to allow motorized scooters on highways with speed limits up to 35 miles per hour. However, it is still illegal to operate a motorized scooter on a sidewalk.

Bicycle hit-and-run on bicycle path (AB 1755, Steinorth): The provisions of the felony hit-and-run law have been extended to cyclists traveling along bicycle paths. Currently, in the California Vehicle Code, a motor vehicle driver involved in a collision resulting in death or injury to another party is required to stop at the scene. AB 1755 clarifies that the same vehicle code also applies to bicyclists who cause injury-related collisions… (more)