Transit Ridership Down 2.3% in 2016

by Randal OToole : NewGeography – excerpt

With little fanfare, the American Public Transportation Association (APTA) released its fourth quarter 2016 ridership report last week. When ridership goes up, the lobby group usually issues a big press release ballyhooing the importance of transit (and transit subsidies). But 2016 ridership fell, so there was no press release… (more)

We are running our own little investigation into the downward trend in ridership. It is our theory that the less public transportation designers talk to the riding public, the less the public uses their services. We think the a major reason for the drop-off on the weekends is the removal of seats bus stops and seats the BART and Muni cars, and major meltdowns of those systems several times a week.

We suggest people send letters to the SFMTA officials and the press and their supervisors to let them know why you no longer take the Muni as often as you once did, but, don’t tell SFMTA what your alternate method for getting around is or they will cut that off because they can’t allow competition.

If you want to get involved in stopping the anti-human trend on public transit, talk to your neighborhood group and check out the actions on the Action Page.

The SFMTA has a priority problem

Letter to the editor : sfexaminer – excerpt
comment on Plan for bike lane on Turk Street in Tenderloin being reconsidered

I’m horrified that our city government prioritizes bikes ahead of public safety. I have witnessed firsthand the disaster that the SFMTA has created, confiscating public infrastructure and re-purposing for a vocal minority. Watching from Davies Symphony Hall, we were shocked to see an ambulance unable to get through Van Ness due to the newly confiscated lanes for a ridiculous bus lane and bike lanes.

During a ride along with the SFPD, officers had to slam over speed humps and screech around bulb-outs getting to an emergency call. I can only imagine what that would do to an ambulance occupant. And recently I turned right onto Eighth Street and nearly slammed into a concrete island that appeared in the middle of the right lane.

Why are we putting billions of dollars toward street redesign when we can’t even maintain them, can’t even plant trees? When seniors and disabled object to street redesigns, why do their voices fall on deaf ears? Why are the Bicycle Coalition and the SFMTA so powerful that they dictate an anti-car policy that endangers public safety?

When the Fire Department objects due to public safety concerns, they should be prioritized first. I pale to think the nightmare we will endure when they next earthquake hits and our emergency services, food and water can’t get through. It’s clear we’ll get no sympathy from the mayor, the Board of Supervisors and especially not the SFMTA (now affectionately known as Motorist Torment Authority).

As a 28-year resident of San Francisco and a supporter of subway expansion, I find myself unable to vote for funding for the SFMTA. They only cause misery and favor the 3 percent (or less) vocal minority.

Jamey Frank, San Francisco… (more)

We have been told that the bike coalition provides precinct workers. Those of us who worked some precincts know this is not the case in the districts we worked, so that excuse will not fly any more. There were lots of non-bicycle coalition precinct workers and the one Bike Coalition candidate lost big in the district he ran in. These supervisors don’t owe SFBC anything. If anyone is owned it is us.

If there is a reconsideration of the bike lanes it may be because people who work drive emergency vehicles stepped forward, complained, and stated that they are not responsible for loss of lives due to traffic congestion that precludes them from being able to do their jobs of saving lives and property when they are called to do so.

The public should demand an incident report that documents the results of ER vehicles being held up in traffic. How many claims have been filed? I have personally observed fire trucks stuck on Van Ness, (before the lane reduction) and on King Street in front of the stadium.

Study shows Mission red lanes improve street safety, signal citywide implications

By : sfexaminer – excerpt

Ed Reiskin holds a red folder full of printouts of comments by angry citizens who signed the StopSFMTA petition at the confrontational  community meeting on Red Lanes in the Mission. These folks will not support any additional funds for SFMTA until the red goes away.

A red-hot debate over “red carpet” bus-only lanes in the Mission District has pitted neighborhood advocates against the transit officials behind the project.

Now, an independent study shows myriad safety benefits to the Muni-only red lanes and demonstrates drivers behaving with more precaution on the road since the lanes were painted.

Supporters of the red lanes say the findings by local tech company Zendrive may be applicable across numerous transit projects in The City, many of which mirror the Mission red lanes not only in benefits but in rebuke from the community...(more)

The Safety report is bogus.

Mission residents are not safe. They are threatened by the luxury housing going up along the transit rich corridors marked by red paint that are closing long-time local-serving businesses and pressuring residents to leave. Many families must chose between living in vehicles or tents or driving long distances to commute in to work. As people are forced to move out and must commute in, they add to the already clogged regional traffic problem.

How can the Red Lanes be safe when Emergency responders can’t get through in a timely manner? The painted-over potholes on Mission red lanes are slick and dangerous for everyone, including two-wheelers, especially in the rain, and at night.

Narrow side streets are choking with the traffic turning off and on Mission? Have the surveys taken into account all the extra exhaust from the slow, idling vehicles that are spending more time winding slowly through clogged streets than they did when the traffic flowed flawlessly? If it takes twice as long to get somewhere, there will be twice as much pollution.

Where are the Muni drivers? They are the real face of Muni, not the MTA Board or their paid consultants. They must put up with all the constant changes SFMTA throws at us daily. Why bother to publish routes and stops when they change daily?

We understand the SFMTA plans to put another Muni money bill on the 2018 ballot. What makes them think the public they ignore, that turned them down the last time they begged for money, will cough it up in 2018?

Who is benefiting from the SFMTA’s billion dollar budget? The spent how much money out of which account to hire a tracking service to conduct a survey on traffic?

At some point it has to be cheaper to ask the public what they like about the system and leave it alone. If there is less traffic on Mission Street it is because the businesses are closing and people are leaving. They go through the obstacle course once and swear never to return. Stopping traffic and killing the business wipes the area, preparing it for demolition and rebuild. That is the what the Red Lanes are about and that is why there is a legal suite pending. What does it take to stop the displacement program?

Today’s SB-1 as Amended

http://leginfo.legislature.ca.gov/faces/billCompareClient.xhtml?bill_id=201720180SB1

If this is the Governor’s Pothole bill, it is badly labeled as most the money will not be going to potholes. Potholes look like an afterthought. Here is the law as amended today according to the official site. I dare you to find how much of this tax will go to fixing the potholes.

If you object to these new taxes being marketed as a pothole tax, without a clear description of how the money will be applied to fixing potholes, call the state reps and request a no vote on SB-1. Insist they give us the option of a “pothole only” tax: https://discoveryink.wordpress.com/state-legislators/

RELATED:
Editorial: Gov. Brown’s roads taxes veer way off course  

Marin IJ Editorial: TAM study shows changing traffic patterns

marinij – excerpt


Bay Bridge photo by Zrants

Marin’s transportation decision-makers now have a better idea about the comings and goings of the county’s traffic.

A study using carpool, GPS and census data to track the movement of people in and out of Marin found that more of our local workforce is driving into the county. A growing number of motorists are driving into Marin from San Francisco and the East Bay….

It shows Marin residents’ reliance on San Francisco for their workplaces, as well as Marin’s reliance on out-of-county commuters to fill local jobs.

The new data also show that as the price to buy a home or rent an apartment in Marin continues to grow, more workers are forced into those already congested commutes, including making it a lot harder to get up and down Highway 101… (more)

This appears to indicate that forcing people to move away from their jobs is increasing regional traffic. If that is the case, the solution to reducing traffic is to reduce displacement by stabilizing rents. Pass this along.

SF wants access to Uber and Lyft data to tackle traffic congestion

By Joe Fitgerald Rodriguez : sfexaminer – excerpt

Two San Francisco government groups are taking aim at traffic congestion allegedly caused by ride-hail companies Uber and Lyft.

Supervisor Aaron Peskin on Tuesday introduced resolutions at both the San Francisco County Transportation Authority, which he chairs, and also at the San Francisco Board of Supervisors calling on state legislators to grant cities the ability to peek at trip data from ride-hail companies.

Mayor Ed Lee quickly signaled his support for the resolution Tuesday.

I think asking for data is good, and that data should inform us in how to relieve that (traffic) congestion,” he told the San Francisco Examiner.

That data is sent to the California Public Utilities Commission, but for years they have shielded it from public view.

The CPUC granted confidentiality of trip data to Uber and Lyft after the companies argued the data could be used by one another to gain a competitive advantage.

Requests for data “continue to be denied by the CPUC,” Peskin told the transportation authority board on Tuesday.

Both the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency and the SFCTA have repeatedly asked the CPUC for Uber and Lyft trip data, and were denied...(more)

The over saturation of Ubers and Lyfts could be solved by stopping the unwinnable war on cars. If the money that has gone into lane removal, bus stop musical chairs, and traffic alterations was spent on purchasing more buses, adding bus lines, and replacing bus seats you would not have the loss of ridership that you have seen since the SFMTA initiated programs to alter bus routes, eliminate stops and remove bus seats. Do you want to walk further to a bus stop and then stand on the bus when you can be sitting in a car? Why do you think people are avoiding Muni and BART on the weekends. No matter how much paint you put on the pig it is still a pig. This pig wreaks of false assumptions that are turning into a big pile of public debt.

An environmental and transit-first agenda requires many hats

by Aaron Peskin : marintimes – excerpt

Photo of Mission Street Red Lanes by Zrants

There’s a lot on my plate, not just as a supervisor, but with many of the other hats I get to wear through public service.

Last month, I was honored when Senate Pro Tem Kevin de León appointed me to the the California Coastal Commission to represent the North Central Coast, which includes the counties of San Francisco, Sonoma, and Marin. This month I am slated to be appointed by the Board of Supervisors to be San Francisco’s representative on the Bay Conservation and Development Commission (BCDC), where I’ve been serving as an alternate to Supervisor Jane Kim. Earlier this year I was appointed to serve on the San Francisco Bay Restoration Authority Board by the Association of Bay Area Governments. Last, but certainly not least, I was unanimously elected chair of the San Francisco Transportation Authority (SFCTA) by my colleagues earlier this year.

I’m proud to serve in many capacities at a time when we must respond quickly and act decisively to combat the draconian cuts of a madman — especially if we’re going to address the real impacts of climate change. It’s hard to know where to begin with the federal administration’s latest assault on the people of the United States of America and California. But as a lifelong environmental advocate and longtime public transit nerd, you can be sure that I will be prioritizing the fight to protect both of these public assets… (more)

The first step to solving the transportation problem is to admit the mistakes that have been made and what is not working so you can fix those problems. The second step is to figure out why public transit is so expensive. SFMTA admits their system is unsustainable. They can’t afford more riders, which explains why they keep cutting service, while pretending like they are improving it. Adding riders increases their costs.

Any business that operates at a loss is doomed to failure. City Hall must take its head out of the sand and solve this problem. If it can’t, just let the private sector take over and get out of the way. Stop spending millions on PR and back slapping projects. Quit moving bus stops and re-designing the streets. Do nothing for a awhile but run the Muni.

Business interests hold first-of-its-kind meeting with SF to stop traffic congestion

By Joe Fitzgerald Rodriguez : sfexaminer – excerpt

The denizens of downtown have had it: Traffic congestion has got to go.
To that end, the San Francisco Chamber of Commerce pitched to San Francisco a first-of-its-kind meeting with downtown interests and transportation planners in the hopes of tackling congestion in concert.

The idea was sparked by similar meetings convened by the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency to curb congestion during last year’s Super Bowl City, which proved to be a positive collaboration, said Dee Dee Workman, vice president of public policy at the chamber…

But more than just a community kvetch, the meeting is a call to action for The City. Workman said congestion doesn’t merely stymie commuters, businesses and residents in the Financial District, South of Market and Market Street areas, but ripples across neighborhoods.

“There’s gridlock all the time,” said Workman. “We want to talk to the [SF]MTA about what’s happening to the streets of San Francisco and how they’re approaching public transportation planning.”…(more)

SFMTA has NOT been responsive to anyone at any time in recent memory to anything other than requests for meetings. They have plenty of employees to send to meetings on the taxpayers’ dime, to waste the the taxpayers’ time. They like nothing better than wasting our time at meetings explaining their plans to ignore our requests.

There is a reason public transportation ridership is falling on BART and Muni. They don’t listen to people who ride when they tell them what they want. Riders want to keep their service and their seats. They don’t want to walk further, wait for transfers and stand on the bus. What is SFMTA doing about that? Ignoring them and doing the opposite of what they want.

Why Is Transit Ridership Falling?

Transit ridership took a turn for the worse in 2016. In all but a handful of cities, fewer people rode trains and buses, even in some places, like Los Angeles, that have invested significantly in expanding capacity.

It’s not just a one-year blip, either. In many American cities, the drop in transit ridership is an established trend. The big question is why.

Transit consultant Jarrett Walker at Human Transit wants more than vague speculation about the effect of low gas prices and ride-hailing services. He’s looking for more specific research about causes and effects — and soon:

Bottom line: We need research! Not the sort of formally peer reviewed research that will take a year to publish, but faster work by real transportation scholars that can report preliminary results in time to guide action. I am not a transportation researcher, but there are plenty of them out there, and this is our moment of need.

Here are my research questions:

  • Which global causes seem to matter?  Straight regression analysis, once you get data you believe.  Probably the study will need to start with a small dataset of transit agencies, so that there’s time to talk with each agency and understand their unique data issues.
  • What’s happening to the quantity of transit?  If ridership is falling because service is falling, this isn’t a surprise.  If ridership is falling because service is getting slower — which means lower frequency and speed at the same cost — well, that wouldn’t be surprising either.
  • How does the decline correlate to types of service?  Is this fall happening in dense areas or just in car-based suburbs? Is it happening on routes that are designed for high ridership, or only on those that are designed for coverage purposes (services retained because three sympathetic people need them rather than because the bus will be full).   Is it correlated to frequency or span changes? Heads up, local geeks! A lot could be done looking at data for your own transit agency — route by route and even (where available) stop by stop, to analyze where in your metro the fall is really occurring… (more)

I appreciate the thought that went into this article.  In my experience, people decide how to live their lives based on their personal needs, not based on datasets and studies. My questions would be of a more personal nature and I would put them to the public.

  • Why do you take public transit when you take it?
  • Why do you chose to take another transit option when you don’t?
  • Do your priorities align with SFMTA and City Hall priorities?
  • What Muni changes do you support?
  • What Muni changes do you oppose?
  • Do you prefer speed or comfort?
  • Would you rather stand on public transit if you get there faster?
  • Would you rather sit if it takes longer to get there?

Portland Anarchists Begin Fixing Roads & Potholes (Because the Government Won’t)

by Tyler Durden : zerohedge – excerpt

Authored by Derrick Broze via TheAntiMedia.org,

“Who will build the roads?” The question is a common response to the proposition that human beings can coexist peacefully in the absence of a government or even the concept of a State altogether. Anarchists often claim that in the absence of an institutionalized State, people will voluntarily organize and discover solutions to the problems they face, including the construction and maintenance of roads. One such group of anarchists decided to put their beliefs into action by repairing potholes in Portland, Oregon.

A Facebook page called Portland Anarchist Road Care claims PARC is an anarchist organization dedicated to putting “the state of the roads of PDX into the hands of the people.” The group’s page says they “believe in building community solutions to the issues we face, outside of the state.” They say they are working to change the stereotype of anarchists as road blockers and window smashers. PARC also accuses the city of Portland of failing to repair roads in a timely manner and failing to provide adequate preventative care for winter storms.

“Portland Anarchist Road Care aims to mobilize crews throughout our city, in our neighborhoods, to patch our streets, build community, and continue to find solutions to community problems outside of the state,” their Facebook page reads... (more)

Potholes are one of the most dangerous and expensive problems the SFMTA, DPW and City Hall continues to ignore. They catch pedestrians, bikes and motor vehicle drivers by surprise, causing accidents and damage and costing millions of dollar to the economy. No wonder people are upset and taking matters into their own hands.
Here is what you can do about it in San Francisco:
Adopt a pothole