Regulate Chariot, charge fair-market value for use of government property

Op-ed by Susan Vaughan : sfexaminer – excerpt

Photos by zrants

The San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency is an vital organization in The City’s efforts to combat climate change and income inequality. In its 2016 Annual Report, the SFMTA announced a 10 percent increase in service, daily ridership of 725,000 and one-year reductions of nearly 45 percent in carbon emissions…

In recent years, private, for-profit carriers that The City doesn’t regulate or regulates loosely, and that exclude many categories of riders, have proliferated on local streets: the technology shuttle buses, aka “Google” buses; transportation network companies (TNCs), such as Uber and Lyft, regulated by the California Public Utilities Commission; and now private transportation vehicles (PTVs)…

This is legal. In fact, in 2012 and 2013, local cab drivers sued the SFMTA over the cost of medallions (permits to operate taxis) arguing that the medallion fee — $250,000 — was an illegal tax. A legal brief, signed by City Attorney Dennis Herrera and Deputy City Attorney Wade Snodgrass, made the winning argument that the medallion “grants its holder the ‘special privilege’ of ‘us[ing] … public streets for private enterprise.” Elsewhere, they wrote: “California law … [authorizes] local government entities to allow the private use of public property, and to sell or lease public property, at market rates … in order to protect the public fisc.” In fact, in 2010 town hall meetings, the proposed medallion fee was identified as a source of revenue to support the SFMTA. But those medallion fees have dropped into negative numbers because of the competition from TNCs… (more)

The Board of Directors must include fair-market charges for every PTV — and shuttle bus — for “[t]he right to use streets as a place of business for private gain.”

Susan Vaughan is a local transportation advocate... (more)

How is Chariot different from Tech buses and hospital shuttles? Why are we dealing with so many different attitudes toward the same thing? Should not all these “private” transportation systems that transport the public be “regulated” is equals? The SFMTA should not be in the business of regulating private vehicles. They should stick to doing the one thing they can barely do. They should fill the holes in the road they dug up and they should manage the Muni. If the Muni were properly managed it would BE the choice of most people.

What does the director of the agency do with this time? He sits on many boards and does a lot of back slapping and self-congratulatory speeches, claiming he runs the best transit system in the world, while San Francisco traffic and businesses are being run into the ground by a construction nightmare of his own making.

City Hall is anticipating offering small sums of cash grants and low-interest loans to prop up the failing businesses long enough to get through the various hopelessly behind schedule construction projects, many neighborhoods opposed to begin with. Maybe we need to let the director go and work on his private projects and hire a new focused one who can get the jobs done effectively, ONE AT A TIME instead of 29 at a time.

If all the street construction projects went away tomorrow no one would care about the Chariots, tech buses, Muni, delivery trucks or taxis. The street constructions are creating the headaches for everyone and sucking up the Muni money. Kill the projects and you can have a free Muni.

 

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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

SF planning first-of-its-kind laws for ‘jitney’ private bus system Chariot

By Joe Fitzgerald Rodriguez : sfexaminer – excerpt

For as long as there have been autos, private “jitney” buses have operated on San Francisco streets. Jitneys carried passengers to the Panama-Pacific International Exposition in 1915, and many Muni lines today run on former private bus lines.
By the 1970s, private transit by the Bay declined. The last known historic jitney driver in San Francisco who owned a single private bus, Jess Losa, reportedly hung up his hat last year.

But those private buses have since returned to their former prominence with the aid of tech apps — like Chariot, the Ford-owned private bus company that started in San Francisco…

Now more than a century after jitneys first appeared, The City is planning new laws to regulate them, updating patchwork regulations strewn across multiple city agencies due to historical accident.

Earlier this month, the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency revealed its plans for private bus services at a SFMTA Citizens Advisory Council.

Chariot is the only private bus service left in San Francisco, SFMTA staff told the council, so for now the new laws would exclusively regulate just that company — but regulations would cover any similar services that may arise in the future…

Why are jitneys treated differently from tech shuttles? They are both private commercial enterprises. Jitneys do a lot less damage to the street, take up less space and get around the narrow steep streets a lot easier than the large buses and tech vehicles. Jitneys are one option for the public to choose from to get around town.

Creating ‘Tech shuttle’ hubs would reduce conflicts with Muni buses

By sfexaminer – excerpt (includes maps of possible hub locations)

Moving tech shuttle pickups off of San Francisco streets and into so-called “hubs” would reduce shuttle conflicts with Muni buses and significantly decrease shuttle presence in neighborhoods.

But doing so would come with steep tradeoffs, perhaps placing thousands of cars back on the road by tech employees who may not find the hubs convenient and stop riding the shuttles…

Those are among the findings of a much-anticipated report on the impact of creating tech shuttle hubs, released by the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency last Friday.

The current Commuter Shuttle Program, as run by the SFMTA, is a voluntary regulatory program that 17 shuttle companies and 789 vehicles are registered to abide by. This encompasses inter-city hospital shuttles as well as the infamous tech shuttles, which transport tech workers to Silicon Valley and back during commuter hours.

Currently those shuttles weave in and out of neighborhoods to pick up passengers at 110 stops across San Francisco, though many stops are concentrated in Noe Valley, the Mission, and other neighborhoods favored by tech workers… (more)

To this argument: Tech employees who may not find the hubs convenient and stop riding the shuttles…”

I reply: Indeed removal of the local street tech routes MAY stop some people from riding shuttles, if they have to take a Muni or other service to get to the hubs. But, they MAY NOT as well. If we can test for one option, why not test for the other? A six month test that removes tech buses from small city streets such as 24th Street, is just as reasonable a proposition as a test six months “anything goes” pilot project, is is not?

 

 

Are there plans to create cracks in the Private Commuter Bus program?

Notes from the Policy and Governance Committee meeting, February 17, 2017

The MTA Policy and Governance Committee of the MTA Board of Directors met Friday, Feb 17, 2017.  It appears they are developing a policy for handling the emerging transportation services such as Uber, Lyft, ride share,  car share, Private Commuter buses (shuttles), Chariot and what the future holds.  See the power point and the guiding principles connected to agenda Item 5 for clues on where the problems lie and a hint of what they may have in mind to resolve some of them.

Studies by the Metropolitan Transportation Commission (MTC), the Bay Area County Congestion Management (CMA) agencies, and the VTA FLEX (last mile) indicate the current policies have failed. The increase in traffic and complaints about the programs point to the need for a regional evaluation and plan. A solution can’t come soon enough for most of us. Let’s hope they come up with something soon. Your comments and suggestions should be directed to the agencies involved. See this links on this page for contacts: https://discoveryink.wordpress.com/san-francisco-officials/

If you like you may comment here also. There are a few discussions on nextdoor on this topic as well.

Contradictory Reports presented at Special SFMTA Meeting

shuttleson24th

People are asking for data about the Tech Buses. Here is some data that was presented by the SFMTA this week by the City Controller and the SFMTA.
It is interesting to read both reports and see how the Controller Report contradicts many points in the SFMTA PR spin presented at the same meeting. You can find some links to those reports here:

SFMTA Board Special Meeting Tuesday, February 7, 9 AM – agenda
Green Room War Memorial Building, 401 Van Ness Ave.
Labor negotiations and closed session followed by presentations of current projects.
Financial Overview – presentation
Items 7-9 SFMTA Board Workshop – presentation

How the media buy claims that the Bay Area has the worst traffic in the country and the best public transit is beyond me. The two would seem to cancel each other out, but, we live in a world of fake news and alternate facts. People believe what they choose to believe until they experience something different. Right now many of us are experiencing a lot of large vehicles with darkened windows roaming through our streets like a foreign invasion.

Many business reports are showing a decline in the tech and construction industries. (look it up for yourselves) At the same time, there is also an expected loss of revenues coming from the federal coffers over the next four years that could seriously impact many projects the city was planning to fund, including those proposed by the SFMTA. These issues are largely based on international financial chaos and political uncertainties.

The tech buses may not be needed much longer. If these uncertainties continue and there is a decline in ridership they should downsize the buses and fleets to reflect that change.

The corporations that run the shuttles on our city streets should be responsible for generating reports on the number of buses and passengers that use these shuttles, much as the short term rental services are being required to do now. As far as I know the reports are being generated by public volunteers.

Requiring reports would be a good first step in solving this problem.

RELATED:

Not Even Donald Trump Can Save Twitter:
huffingtonpost – excerpt
…In a press release, C.E.O. Jack Dorsey called 2016 a “transformative” period for Twitter—a positive spin on a year filled with negative headlines. In the past several months, Twitter cut 9 percent of its staff; shed businesses like Vine, which didn’t make money; explored the idea of a sale but couldn’t find a buyer; struggled with its very public abuse and harassment problems as trolls chased high-profile users such as actress Leslie Jones off the platform; sold its Fabric developer business to Google; and lost several executives, including C.O.O. Adam Bain. (Twitter’s talent exodus continues to this day: just this week, two more execs left the company.)… (more)

Can Uber Outrun Its Own Future?
huffingtonpost – excerpt
Burning through cash in a race to escape the economic realities of the ride-hailing market, Uber is looking to a future without drivers—and now without cars, either...(more)

Yahoo Says Sale to Verizon Delayed Until Second Quarter
bloomberg – excerpt
Yahoo! Inc. said the sale of its main web operations to Verizon Communications Inc. has been delayed until next quarter to meet closing conditions while the company recovers from the disclosure of massive hacks to its user accounts… (more)

San Francisco Needs a Break from Stressful Disruptions on our Streets

Op-ed by Zrants

There is a capacity problem no matter how you try to move because the development policies are not in sync. The theory that housing fees will cover the expense of producing capacity has not panned out. The plans are flawed. The developer fees do not cover the costs and they come too late.

There are too many forces driving the increase in traffic on all the modes.
People moving here are pushing people who live and work here out to the suburbs forcing more people to commute in to work, while many new residents are commuting out.

Add all the contractors and others who have to drive in to work whose businesses were pushed out, by those moving in, and you have a lot more regional traffic than we had a few years ago. All it took was a shuffle or two of the housing deck to rack up the rents and property values to create this mess.

The public wants relief now SFMTA has its head in the future, planning ways to disrupt and rearrange traffic and buses instead of buying buses and hiring drivers to add capacity now. They are racking up tax dollars in studies and experiments while blaming everyone but themselves for the traffic they created. Have you tried to suggest anything to them?

SFMTA coud care less about shuttles, Ubers, Lyfts, Charriots, taxis, carshares, bikeshares, and other distractions unless they can figure out a way to profit off them. That is why the public is taking the shuttles on.

Shuttle Bus Petition

We the undersigned request that the City and County of San Francisco institute measures to relieve traffic congestion and mitigate environmental impacts resulting from the Commuter Shuttle Program. We urge the exploration and adoption of alternative transport modes, such as the use of smaller, more efficient vehicles and ride-share platforms, the consolidation of bus routes, and the wider dispersal of the traffic presently concentrated on a narrow selection of over-burdened streets… (sign here)

Please support this petition if you don’t want this coming to your streets. It is out of control in Noe Valley and many other neighborhoods. The plan comes up for review around the end of March. Get to your supervisor about it before then.

Shuttle bus facts:

  • There is no Environmental Review and that is the problem.  The reference is to the “HUB” Study written by MTA and the SFCTA utilizing the SFChamp Transportation model.   The HUB Study was published in November 2016.
  • The SF CHAMP model was based on assumptions (surveys, studies) 10 to 15 years old.  The HUB study was unable to collect current salary information, travel distance, (only zones on the Peninsula).  The Millbrae BART option was discounted because it was not in SF although it has ten bus bays available.
  • The Bottom line, Retaining the One Seat Commute (in a half empty commuter bus) is the objective of the Bay Area Council justifying the reduction of drive alone autos.  The assumption of drive alone is questionable since many young people do not own autos and rely on Uber/Lyft.

Dangerous plan afoot to narrow and slow 16th Street traffic access to Mission Bay

The other day as I walked down 16th Street to the BART station I witnessed a traffic jam on 16th Street and shot some photos as the drama unfolded.  There was a repair truck stopped in back of the bus and three people directing traffic around it. There is a single East facing lane on 16th Street now and two West facing lanes so traffic may pass the broken bus without too much trouble now.

As you can see by looking at the photos, the traffic builds up rather fast when a lane is stopped. An ambulance came up 16th Street while I was there and it was directed around the stopped traffic, but stopping the other lane, but, I realized how difficult it would be to maneuver traffic around a broken bus if there was a BRT or separated lanes as the SFMTA plans for 16th Street.

Separated roadways, swerving traffic in narrow lanes do not slow traffic down it makes drivers mad and creates obstacles for the buses and larger vehicles. This is not a safe way to manage traffic.

Please stop this insane constant construction and destruction of our streets! Vote Yes on L and tell the SFMTA to back off. Leave the bus stops and return the service they cut. Stopsfmta.comStopsfmta.com

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Grand Plans to Unclog Highway 101 in Silicon Valley

nbcbayarea – excerpt – (includes video)

How many hours do you plan to spend in traffic in a week?

There are plans to reduce your commute time and it includes changing some lanes on U.S. Highway 101 in Silicon Valley.

Caltrans, the San Mateo County Transportation Authority and other agencies are set to discuss a plan Thursday to link “managed lanes” on U.S. Highway 101 in Santa Clara County to new ones in San Mateo County…

A number of major Silicon Valley employers, including Facebook, Genentech and Stanford University are pushing for more carpools, public transit and other mechanisms to get more cars off Highway 101 and I-280, the Silicon Valley Business Journal reported.

The purpose of the meeting, according to a Facebook page dedicated to the managed lane project, will be to discuss the scope of issues to be addressed in the draft environmental document, range of alternatives under consideration and the potential environmental effects of potential modifications within the corridor. The community is invited to submit questions, concerns and advice to: Yolanda Rivas, Caltrans Office of Environmental Analysis, P.O. Box 23660, Oakland, CA, 94623-0660; e-mail: sm101scoping@dot.ca.gov.

The deadline is Nov. 18. Thursday’s meeting is being held from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. at San Mateo City Hall, 330 W. 20th Ave(more)