Rapid Growth in Sunnyvale Spurs Concerns in Public Safety

Police officers and firefighters in Sunnyvale are going public with their concerns that the city is allowing business to boom without enough consideration for public safety.

Police officers and firefighters in Sunnyvale are going public with their concerns that the city is allowing business to boom without enough consideration for public safety…

So, the union sent the letter to City Council members, formally requesting impacts to public safety be specifically analyzed…

A union consultant and adviser said the focus is on protecting public safety but added litigation has not been ruled out…(more)

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Muni Meltdown play by play

By Audio program with Julian Mark and Joe Eskenazi : missionlocal – excerpt

The San Francisco Municipal Transit Agency had a horrible summer, and it all revolved around a two-month, $41 million overhaul of the Twin Peaks Tunnel, which reopened in late August. Mission Local’s managing editor, Joe Eskenazi, reported extensively on MTA’s mismanagement of the closure that left hundreds of thousands of riders stranded on busy lines. The agency also awarded a contract to a construction company with a record of safety violations, Shimmick Construction, to work on the tunnel. One of the company’s workers died while working in the tunnel. Listen in… (more)

Privatization Issues are on the agenda at the SFMTA CAC September 6 meeting

Thursday, Sept 6, 5:30 PMagenda
Room 7080, 1 South Van Ness SFMTA CAC Meeting

Item 7. The Commuter Shuttle Program status report
Several new Citizens’ Advisory Council members have been appointed and travel season is over. The MTA staff presentation will start soon after 5:30pm. at the conclusion of the opening formalities. Your Attendance is critical if you care about the Commuter Shuttle Program, your two minutes of public comments are appreciated. The supporters at past MTA Board meetings always show up in droves with mostly cookie cutter positive comments how convenient and the personal time savings of their commuter bus services. Disruption to the community is never mentioned. The PDF report

Item 8. The Motivate Bike Share program, discussion, and possible action. Your Attendance is critical if you care about the Commuter Shuttle Program, your two minutes of public comments are appreciated on this as well.
Two pdf handouts –
SF Expansion and Bikeshare In Your Community

If you can’t make it to the meeting and want your voices and opinions taken into account, send your letters and comments to the Board of Supervisors and the Mayor and the candidates for office who are running for the new Board positions. Use the authority in  Ordinanace 180089 to demand a hearing and an audit of the programs before any further erosion of our public access on our public streets is allowed.

IMG_3530.jpeg

Let the officials know how many empty GoBike stations you see in your neighborhood. Photo of late night GoBike truck at a station on Bryant and 17th Street shot by zrants.

The first order of business for SFMTA is to support the needs of Muni riders. How are these programs solving Muni problems and why are staff spending so much of the taxpayers’ time and energy supporting the corporations in their efforts to take over our public streets?

Here are some questions that you may want to ponder as you review the material.
What is the ratio of bikes to GoLive Stations and how much money has SFMTA collected from the GoBike program to date as part of the pubic/private enterprise arrangement? Will the contract that was signed with Motivate be extended to Lyft when the ride-share purchases GoBikes from Motivate? How have other cities dealt with these issues?

 

Meet the man who says he can fix Muni. For real.

By Joe Eskenazi : mssionlocal – excerpt

‘Retired civil servant’ Mike Cheney’s plan is so not-crazy, it just might work

“Dude, do you know how much those things cost me? Apiece?” This is a de facto rhetorical question from Mike Cheney. Most are. He immediately answers it. “Eleven bucks! Eleven!”

That’s a fair amount of money to spend for a retired Muni diesel mechanic with multiple grandchildren — but if it leads to one of this city’s most intractable problems being solved, it’ll be worth it.

So, that’s why Cheney prepared a comprehensive “2018 Proposal To Re-align Muni Goals & Operations,” printed up a handful of $11-a-pop copies, and hand-delivered a few of the svelte, 21-page booklets to the office of Mayor London Breed. That’s her quote right on the cover: “Muni has to work well for the people of San Francisco, so that it is their first option.”….

What if it turned out Muni could speed up buses and trains — and wouldn’t even need to buy new equipment, tear up the streets, or even eliminate stops?

Well, it can. It could install skip-stop route schedules.

This is a system in which Bus A picks up passengers at Stops 1, 3, 5, 7 and so on and Bus B picks up passengers at Stops 2, 4, 6, and 8. This has worked all around the world; it increases capacity and speeds up service… (more)

Please read the article and comment on the source. The Fix Muni First folks will appreciate the low cost method suggested here to solve the crowded bus and speed problems and the money watchers will appreciate the savings, that could lower riders fees and/or finance more routes.

This plan seems to cover everyone’s needs except the corporate entities planning to take over and control our streets. Residents and merchants appreciate the lack of Red Lane constraints, and Muni drivers should be less stressed as well.

Mike’s ideas sound too good and lack the sexy street diets favored at the SFMTA Board. Who are our elected officials going to serve, the public, or the corporations? Will our Mayor appoint a true visionary with a lifetime of Muni experience like Mike Cheney to the MTA Board our will she select a corporate shill intent on retaining the failed policies that are driving people off the public buses into their vehicles?

Some other suggestions that are drawing a lot of public support for safer conditions on our streets:

  • Return consistency to the streets of San Francisco. Nobody can watch for pedestrians, scooters, bikes, cars, trucks and buses weaving in and out of lanes while reading street signs and directions.
  • Lanes need to be straight and flow smoothly from one block to the next. Following lane changes is creates additional distractions.
  • Bring back the safer one-way streets with predictable curbside bus stops.
  • Extend the timing of yellow lights and hold the red light for a couple of seconds before turning it to green to give stragglers a little more time to clear the intersection.

 

Gas tax repeal lures California Democrats in key House races

: sacebee – excerpt

Democratic congressional candidate Katie Porter surprised political watchers last week when she launched a cable television ad declaring she opposed higher gas taxes.

The controversial $52 billion tax and fee increase was the result of a signature effort by Gov. Jerry Brown, also a Democrat, to pay for the largest road funding plan in California in more than a quarter century. Most Democratic state lawmakers supported the effort.

But Porter is not the only Democrat in a hotly contested House race taking a public stand against the measure as it faces an expensive repeal campaign…

Democratic candidates’ efforts to distance themselves from the tax increase are a sign of the measure’s unpopularity with voters, particularly in regions with lots of commuters. But it also shows how Democrats running in swing districts can potentially neutralize the issue, while demonstrating their independence from the party bigwigs in Sacramento… (more)

RELATED:

Want to convince California voters to keep the gas tax? This is the wrong way to do it

‘Eroding the Confidence’: SF Mayor Breed Blasts Muni Officials For Flawed Service

By Sam Brock : nbcbayareanews – excerpt (includes video)

One day after San Francisco Mayor London Breed blasted the Muni director in a letter, accusing him of “eroding the confidence” of riders in the system, the mayor took a ride on Muni and continued her criticism.

Breed said Tuesday you can’t push people to use public transportation and then have the transit not work. From widespread delays in service to the recent death of a construction worker, Breed said she’s fed up, and her concerns are echoing through City Hall… (more)

SFMTA Board reacted to the Mayor’s threats and the public’s outrage by ignoring it.

First, they ignored public request to limit the Geary BRT Red Lanes to Muni and taxis only, and retain some popular bus stops.

The Board approved recently unveiled plans to allow non-public transportation corporations access to Transit only Red Lanes.  Liz Brisson, SFMTA’s Project Manager for the Geary Project, claimed the definition of a bus is a vehicle transporting 9 or more people. This is news to many people who opposed the non-Muni vehicles at the meetings. When was this definition written and why was this intent not explained in previous presentations of the Geary BRT plan?

Were the Supervisors aware of this when they approved Phase I of the Geary BRT?

Will this new information be factored into the case against Phase II of the Geary BRT currently under litigation, or will City Hall settle the case rather than continue to fund the legal battles of this devious department?

Not only did we learn that Transit only does not mean public transit only, but, we also learned that the claims of time savings in the red lanes is not supported by factual analysis of existing red lanes. Perhaps we now can see the reasons why that may be the case. It seems that all red lanes are not created equal. It seems that the only time pubic transit only applies is when the lanes are “protected” inside a physical barrier. Otherwise you must read the signs to determine who is allowed on the red lanes. This begs the question, why paint the lanes red when the color is meaningless? Who is making a profit off this paint job?

After the startling bait and switch revelations and the Geary BRT approval, the Board went into private session for Ed Reiskin’s job review. As expected, the Board ignored the Mayor’s comments on the Director’s poor leadership and mismanagement of contracts.

The SFMTA Board commended Ed Reiskin on his work with the department, failed to scold or reprimand him for any of his mistakes or misdeeds, included those he admitted to, and announced their continued support for his leadership of the disgraced department.

What will our Mayor do about this rogue board and department that insults our intelligence by repeated attempts to deceive us? Will she appoint a strong new Director to the Board to replace the recently departed one hired by the department to handle the public through public outreach? Will the Board of Supervisors hand the decision over to the public in the form of a Charter Amendment? Will our Mayor support this option? You may want to weigh in if you have an opinion. Contacts with City Hall are here:  https://discoveryink.wordpress.com/san-francisco-officials/

REALATED:

Private buses have driven in city ‘transit-only’ lanes for years — with the city’s blessing, and in spite of the law

By Joe Eskenazi : missionlocal – excerpt

… Does it make sense to allow private buses or other such vehicles in red carpet lanes — or not — on a Byzantine, lane-by-lane, project-by-project basis? If you’re a transit layman, you’d probably say “no.” And, it turns out, if you’re a transit expert you’d say “no,” too…

The city’s administration of its “transit-only” lanes has only grown more haphazard and opaque in the past dozen years — not that the citizens who came out Tuesday to yell about the Geary Rapid Project (or, quite possibly, the commissioners they were yelling at) ever realized this was happening…

But is it legal? That’s confusing, too… (more)

 

Should private shuttles be able to use Muni-only lanes?

By Tim Redmond : 48hills – excerpt

MTA says yes — but the public can weigh in Tuesday.

San Francisco transit planners have been working for years on a proposal to create bus-only lanes on Geary Boulevard. It’s called Bus Rapid Transit, and the idea is that – since we (unfortunately) don’t have a subway line underneath the Geary corridor, we can do the next best thing by creating lanes just for Muni.

Time the traffic signals right, keep cars out of the way of buses, and people can ride faster from the Richmond and the Western Addition to downtown…

The plan comes up for discussion at the MTA’s meeting Tuesday/21 – and there’s a twist…

Activists have discovered that Muni’s current proposal would allow not only Muni buses but private shuttles, like Chariot and the Google buses – to use the city’s public transit-only lanes.

Environmentalist and transit advocate Sue Vaughan (who has also written for 48hills) asked at an MTC Citizens Advisory Committee meeting in July whether private shuttles would be allowed to use the BRT lanes. MTC staff didn’t have an answer at that point – but a series of follow-up emails obtained by Vaughan show that the department believes under current rules, any private company that runs a bus with a capacity of more than ten people (including the driver) would count as “transit” and would be allowed on what were originally described as Muni-only lanes… (more)

The national press has been covering the anger and actions against privatization of public streets for years. SF Board of supervisors passed Ordinanace 180089 to give voters some control over access to curbs. There hearings on the horizon along with the Controller reports we have requested for months.

What does SFMTA do? Blame Muni for the slowdown and hand over more traffic lanes to private enterprise, not covered by the ordinance. while spending hours of staff time developing an elite program for corporate e-bikes, and deserting vast numbers of Muni riders during the largest transit crisis in years.

Must the public demand the removal of Reiskin and a vote on a Charter Amendment to roll back SFMTA autonomy to get relief? Will Mayor Breed appoint a strong new MTA Board Director to the current regime at the SFMTA Board, who will return Muni’s attention to making Muni an attractive reliable functioning option?

You can only pretend the emperor is dressed for so long. It is hard to take a bus that does not arrive to pick you up. It is past time to replace the leadership at SFMTA.

RELATED:

Letters to SFMTA Board:

http://www.sfexaminer.com/private-transit-not-belong-dedicated-bus-lanes/

https://metermadness.wordpress.com/red-lane-experiments/private-transport-should-not-be-allowed-to-use-transit-only-lanes/

 

 

SF mayor Breed blasts Muni chief over delays, background checks and scooter permitting

By Rachel Swan : sfgate – excerpt

In a sharply worded letter, San Francisco Mayor London Breed blasted the director of the SFMTA over service delays related to its Twin Peaks Tunnel closure.

“In the weeks since I took the mayoral oath of office, a number of challenges have come to light related to the SFMTA and Muni service,” Breed wrote. She called for improvement in all 12 categories that the City Controller scores to evaluate San Francisco’s transportation systems.

As mayor, Breed wields substantial power over the SFMTA. She fills the empty seats on its board of directors — the body that sets the city’s transportation budget, determines its policy agenda and oversees department management. The board has the ability to fire Reiskin.

If that’s what Breed is angling for, it would be difficult for the board to resist, said political strategist Nathan Ballard, who worked closely with the three previous mayoral administrations…

Reiskin is scheduled for a performance review from the SFMTA board Tuesday… (more)

Let’s cut to the chase. Plausible deniability is no longer working. The unintended consequences of absolute power have reared their ugly heads far too many times to ignore. City Hall authorities need to give the voters a chance to remove that power from the SFMTA Board and the fastest easiest way to do that is to put a Charter Amendment on the ballot. The best the voters can do in November is to elect representatives who support this change. As you meet the contenders, be sure to ask how they will solve this problem.

RELATED:

City-sanctioned report finds SF has some of the worst public transit of major metros

SFMTA head’s job at risk after Breed calls for changes in leadership

SFMTA Pulls 180 on Costly McAllister Traffic Circle

By Nuala Sawyer : sfweekly – excerpt

Step aside, needles and poop! Traffic circles are here, and San Franciscans are not happy.

Officials from the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency are backpedaling on an ill-fated traffic circle installed in a residential neighborhood earlier year. The $80,000 circle was installed at McAllister and Steiner streets this spring and is already scheduled for removal — which is another $40,000…

For the past few months, the circle has caused immense confusion for drivers; it doesn’t operate like a normal roundabout, which runs on a first-come, first-serve basis. Instead, two stop signs on Steiner block traffic and give a bus flying down McAllister or a cyclist huffing and puffing up it the right of way through the intersection.

According to neighbors who live along the route, drivers of 5-Fulton buses have been preemptively leaning on their horns as they approach Steiner just in case a car misunderstands the circle and blindly cuts out in front of them… (more)

Here is a perfect example of why we need to overhaul the SFMTA. Too many mistakes and too much wasted taxpayer dollars are going down the drain. Why should the voters support any more money for a failed system? We don’t need faster moving buses. We need a reliable transit system. The Board of Supervisors needs to listen to the operators and maintenance crew and skip the long lunches and meetings with management if they want to find out what the problems are.

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.