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.

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.

Bike Coalition Says ‘No Way’ as City Backs off Protected Bike Lanes on Turk

FT9

Fire Truck on Potrero

Painted Buffered Lanes Failed Miserably on Golden Gate, so SFMTA Proposes them for Turk

The San Francisco Bicycle Coalition (SFBC), for the first time ever, is opposing a bike lane.

Protected bike lanes are the proven standard for making streets safer for cyclists of all ages and abilities. However, once again, the city has backed off a protected bike lane project, this time on Turk through the Tenderloin. SFMTA made the announcement of the new paint-only proposal for a door-zone bike lane on Turk at Friday’s engineering hearing at City Hall.

No surprise, the SFBC is livid. And this time, they’ve drawn the line:

On Friday, your San Francisco Bicycle Coalition joined Sup. Jane Kim and local residents in unanimously opposing the SFMTA’s plans to build an unprotected, paint-only bike lane on Turk Street. The San Francisco Bicycle Coalition’s opposition to the SFMTA’s deficient proposal for Turk Street marks the first time we have opposed a bike lane in our 46-year history…(more)

San Francisco is already famous for traffic congestion. Does City Hall want to be known for flaunting Fire Department regulations as well? Fire officials know what they need to do the job we trust them to do.

 

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.

Ambitious plan for once-central S.F. crossroads

By John King : sfchronicle – excerpt (with graphics)

The 1500 Mission residential tower (top) would replace a thrift store and Goodwill headquarters at a confusing intersection.

The intersection of Market Street and Van Ness Avenue looms large on the map, with two of San Francisco’s best-known and broadest thoroughfares overlapping at a sharp angle.

The reality isn’t nearly so grand — a crossroads marked by a car dealership, a doughnut shop and two drab office blocks. Nearby, parking lots and ratty alleys rub against buildings that never aimed high and now are worn down. The street life is spotty at best, sketchy at worst.

All this would change under an evolving city plan that includes a cluster of towers on the skyline, a variety of public spaces below and as many as 7,280 housing units in between. And the first major project within the area could be approved next week — one that hints at a livelier future, but also shows how tough it is to fit ambitious visions into a complex setting.

If nothing else, the proposal for 1500 Mission St. — down the block from Market and South Van Ness Avenue — that goes to the Planning Commission on March 23 shows how this part of San Francisco could be transformed… (more)

If they want a traffic circle this might be the place to put one as there is plenty of real estate and the traffic is confusing at best. a traffic  circle might solve that confusion. Of course, the buses would have to take the circle as well unless they are rerouted. I have no idea how buses handle traffic circles. They may like them.

U.S. Transportation department executive approved grant days before taking job with rail contractor

By Ralph Vartabedian : latimes – excerpt

A top Obama administration executive at the U.S. Department of Transportation approved a $647-million grant for a California rail project in mid-January and less than two weeks later went to work for a Los Angeles-based contractor involved in the project, The Times has learned.

The grant provides a significant part of the money required to install a $2-billion electrical power system on the Bay Area’s Caltrain commuter rail system, allowing the rail to retire its diesel locomotives.

The power equipment will eventually be used by the state’s bullet train from Los Angeles to San Francisco, making it a critical part of the $64-billion program. The California High-Speed Rail Authority has pledged about $713 million to help install the system, according to state records.

The grant was handled by Carolyn Flowers, the acting chief of the Federal Transit Administration.  Flowers announced the grant approval in a letter, dated Jan. 18,  to congressional leaders. The Times obtained a copy of the letter…

Thirteen days later, Flowers went to work for Aecom, a Los Angeles-based engineering firm. The company news release announcing her hiring says she will head its North American transit practice. Aecom provides program management services to Caltrain for the electrification project, according to Caltrain documents. It was formerly a regional consultant to the high-speed rail project as well.

On Friday, the federal transit agency said it had “deferred” a decision on the grant and said it would look at the matter in the next federal budget cycle. The decision may be an early sign of the Trump administration’s view of the bullet train project. The line is already under construction and will need significant federal funding moving forward.

The delay follows a letter from every Republican member of the California House delegation to Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao, asking that the grant be put off until an audit of the high-speed rail project is completed.
This is exactly what America hates about Washington, D.C… (more)

Don’t they call this the revolving door?

RELATED:
Carolyn Flowers-letter to congress 
Caltrain and High Speed Rail and FTA funding – Revolving Door Shenanigans

The Central Subway project and a planned ferry hold the key to neighborhood traffic in Mission Bay

By : bizjournals – excerpt

Imagine boarding a ferry in Oakland and emerging minutes later in Mission Bay. You get dinner, catch a Warriors game and enjoy a nightcap, all before returning home on the water. Or riding from the University of California, San Francisco, research campus straight up Fourth Street to Union Square on the city’s newest subway, a largely underground train.

With Mission Bay miles from any BART station, and no ferry service, getting in and out of the growing neighborhood today without getting snarled in heavy traffic is nearly impossible, public transit advocates say. The imminent relocation of the Golden State Warriors to the Chase Center in 2019 only makes public transportation improvements more urgent.

A couple of big transit projects in the works — a new subway line and a ferry landing — should offer some relief…

Most of the (Central Subway) work is happening below the street. The route will begin near the 4th street Caltrain station and stop at 4th and Brannan streets.. Future plans could extend it further north.

The Mission Bay Loop Project, which would allow trains to turn around during peak hours and special events, should be completed in July, weather permitting.

Meanwhile, the Port of San Francisco is moving forward on the design and environmental work for a ferry terminal and water taxi landing near the Chase Center, with the preferred location at the foot of 16th street. Ultimately, the goal is for passengers to travel directly to Mission Bay from the existing ferry terminals in Berkeley, Oakland, Alameda and elsewhere, said Port Executive Director Elaine Forbes (more)

New Cars in BART’s ‘Fleet of Future’ Found to be Overweight

By Jaxon Van Derbeken : NBCbayarea – excerpt

Cars in BART’S so-called “fleet of the future” are as much as a ton overweight, NBC Bay Area has learned, and the transit agency has hired outside engineers to inspect 30 key aerial structures to assure they can handle the load.

The weight problem comes as the first of BART’s new 775-car fleet are expected to go into service later this year, once ongoing testing is complete.

Last spring, officials beamed as they showed off the first car in a fleet billed as sleeker, quieter and with an extra set of doors to better handle crowds.

But the fleet is more than a year behind schedule, and problems have marred early tests. Now, just as BART prepares to put the new fleet into service, engineers face another glitch.

“They’re overweight,” admits Paul Oversier, BART’s operations manager.

He blames all the “bells and whistles” on the new cars, including bike racks, six video display screens and state-of-the-art crash safety gear… (more)
Follow: @NBCBayArea on Twitter | NBCBayArea on Facebook

The latest in a long string of reports on BART does not look good. Whoever decided to replace seats with bike racks and more humans forgot to tally the weight of the added humans to the load on the cars.

Note the lack of seats on these cars. Who is setting BART’s priorities? I bet most riders who rather sit for 2 hours on a BART than stand for one hour watching a monitor.

Scrap the monitors and racks and bring back the seats.

Look to Pier 70 to see Why San Francisco Voters do Not Trust City Hall

Op-ed by Zrants

You need to Look no further than the ‘Pier 70 Mixed-Use District Project’ to understand the anger and frustrations of neighborhood groups and ordinary citizens who spent hours and their time to work out deals with city planners to somewhat mitigate the negative effects of increased populations moving onto their tender turf, to be told that the plan has changed.

The project voters approved is being amended for a much less friendly design. Density levels are going up. Six stories are really nine stories. In fact forge the promises the voters counted on. Now that the project got through the election, they are scrapping it.

That is why, when voters get the chance, the only safe way to vote on a development project is to vote against it. Look the difference between 8 Washington and Pier 70. The voters voted against 8 Washington and nothing changed. The voters approved a plan for Pier 70 as it was presented by the developers but the design has changed since the vote.

An editorial by Don Clark that ran in the Potrero View outlines some of our primary concerns. To see the draft EIR and see for yourself, go here and scroll down the page:
http://sf-planning.org/environmental-impact-reports-negative-declarations

…The City and County of San Francisco intends to grant Forest City Enterprises rights to build a wall of nine-story buildings along the Central Waterfront, from 20th to 22nd streets, which would completely obscure scenic Bay vistas for many, if not most, Potrero Hill eastern slope residents.  As one travels down 20th Street from Missouri Street to Third, beautiful Bay views would disappear.  Imagine that the American Industrial Center, the red building with white columns at the corner of 22nd and Third streets, was doubled in height.  The replacement of four- and six-story structures with nine-story edifices would dramatically Manhattanize this historical waterfront… (more)

Building height limits are not the only promises being broken. One of the major concerns to neighbors and all who drive through the area was the increased traffic and congestion that SFMTA claimed they could handle. That no longer looks likely. Not only are the buildings going to be taller and contain more people, but, the DOT announced they are not funding the electrification of Caltrans and other transit projects until they conduct an audit to find out why there are such large cost overruns.

A couple of recent laws that were passed that citizens should know about are: mentioned by Den Clark: California Senate Bill 743 eliminated scenic protections from transit infill projects, which the City quickly applied. The November 26, 2013 Planning Department Summary, Attachment A, shows that the Planning Department has removed consideration of scenic vistas from most of San Francisco’s waterfront (http://sfmea.sfplanning.org/CEQA%20Update-SB%20743%20Summary.pdf)

Send comments to Lisa Gibson Lisa.Gibson@sfgov.org on Pier 70 Mixed-Use Project by Tuesday, 5 PM February 21, 2017. Sample letter from Peter Linenthal (eir-pdf-new)

The Developer, Forest City, is publishing a Design for Development document which will be presented to the Planning Commission in an informational hearing on March 23rd. There will be an opportunity then for public comment. The Final EIR will take months and will go to the Planning Commission as part of the final approvals. There’s a lot we don’t know yet. The Draft EIR has a Maximum Residential Scenario and a Maximum Commercial Scenario and Forest City is doing a phased development which makes it especially difficult to know what to expect.

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.