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.

Open letter to Sustainable Streets

4-12-2017

Sustainable Streets,

Director Maguire and staff:

re: Request for a continuance on approval of the Vincente bike lanes and parking alterations on 44th Avenue due to lack of proper public disclosure of public meetings during the planning process and lack of notice on this engineering meeting. No reasonable person would consider posting paper signs on outdoor posts during a rainstorm proper notice.

As you are aware, there have been many complaints over lack of proper notice and outreach to the community where SFMTA projects are concerned. This one really takes the cake.

I will not bore you by repeating all the details on this particular case, ie: complaints from the neighbors and merchants that they were not invited to any planning meetings where the bike lanes were being discussed. They will tell you their stories. This neighborhood is already living with the Taraval experiment that is forcing unwanted changes on their traffic patterns. To add more pain and pressure to this area is outrageous.

SFMTA’s lack of respect for the public has gotten so bad that citizens are going to their Supervisors with demands of public hearings focusing on the SFMTA’s lack of public support for the projects they are forcing on our streets, while ignoring their requests for better service instead of cuts. There are lawsuits underway and more are being contemplated. Don’t add to the list of complaints by approving the bike lanes and parking alterations today. This matter needs to be continued.

Sincerely,

Mari Eliza, concerned citizen

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.

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.

Op-Ed SFMTA needs to fix more than just NextBus

By : sfexaminer – excerpt

We at San Francisco Transit Riders urge Board of Supervisors President London Breed to call for a hearing to hold the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency accountable for the failure of their NextBus prediction tool.

As we now know, the NextBus fiasco was a result of AT&T disabling the 2G network upon which NextBus depended. Back in 2012, AT&T announced that it would disable 2G as of Jan. 1, 2017. However, apparently no one at the SFMTA knew that or took it seriously.

Muni follows its schedule less than 60 percent of the time. So what makes Muni tolerable is having real-­time predictions; adding 20 minutes of uncertainty to a trip is not workable…

Lack of Internal Communications

In November, just more than a month before the NextBus failure, SFMTA’s chief technology officer, along with a NextBus representative, was promoting a new radio dispatch system coming possibly in March, according to a San Francisco Examiner article.

Seemingly, neither the chief technology officer nor the NextBus representative knew the existing system would crash well before their planned upgrades…

ack of Internal Commitment

At a meeting on Jan. 17, Director Ed Reiskin finally apologized. He acknowledged the episode was “a lesson for me in how important this service is to our riders. The reaction we got was amazing, and I don’t mean in a good way … it spoke … to how valuable having arrival predictions are for our riders.”

We wonder if Reiskin depends on Muni to get to work on time.

If we truly want to be a transit­-first city, we need transit that works well enough to attract ever more riders. We need the SFMTA to understand Muni’s key role in the daily lives of so many people who need to get to work, go to school and take their children to school.

We call for public hearings so there is public accountability. We are tired of the opacity and lack of management. We want a transparent plan forward, including a timeline addressing the City Controller’s report to ensure consistent staffing, consistent service and clearer internal management…(more)

When ENUF agrees with SF Transit Riders you know the SFMTA must be doing something wrong. it is time for some major changes. We have been complaining for years. Now we are  joined by the most pro Muni organization in town in calling for a  “Public Hearing” to discus the major problems the Muni riders are having with Muni. This should occur before any more budget items are approved since the power of the purse is the only thing the Board of Supervisors seem to be able to use to control this out of control agency.

This goes way beyond fixing NextBus and all those wonderful apps that do nothing to move people and good on the streets. We don’t need to be entertained or taught a new trick every day on our way to work. Transit should be consistent, not an adventure  game we play each day. Moving the buses and stops and traffic lanes around has gotten old and irritating, and we need a break from unwanted changes.

To Win the War on Cars, San Francisco Weaponizes Real Estate

by : wired – excerpt

I’ll start with the bad news, because I think you can take it: You can’t beat San Francisco traffic. As long as people want to live in this idyll by the bay, tech companies set up shop off Market Street, and bars offer expensive drinks made with fruit shrubs, cars and tech buses will choke its roads.

“Anecdotally, the only major cities unfettered by congestion are terribly declining Rust Belt ones,” says Marlon Boarnet, an economist and urban planning researcher with the University of Southern California. (Think Detroit, Buffalo, Youngstown.) “In our most thriving cities, we can’t make the congestion vanish because the cities are thriving.” San Francisco’s booming so hard, the only place in the US where you’ll find worse traffic is Los Angeles.

What San Francisco believes it can do, however, is improve life in the city by making it easier to get around without a car. This week, its Board of Supervisors approved an ordinance requiring developers to stock new residential or commercial projects with more alternative-transport perks than ever before. This is no all-out war on vehicles, but rather an attempt to cut down on the number and length of car trips the natives take each day.

And if it works, San Francisco’s data-driven approach could become a template for other American cities hoping to turn big talk about transportation innovation into big action, and big results…

You’ll have to be patient: This program won’t bear serious fruit for 10 to 20 years, given the pace of development. The first projects built under the new rubric won’t get off the ground for another 18 to 24 months. But San Francisco planners say they’re already getting calls about the ordinance from other cities interested in taking this approach for a spin. And for the family that gets access to an in-apartment storage spot for their car-share friendly car seats (two points!), the lifestyle changes will happen a lot sooner. Too bad they’ll still have to find ways to entertain toddlers while stuck in traffic… (more)

The SFMTA and City Hall have been spinning this wait for results for over 10 years and so far the traffic and congestion both on the streets and on the buses has gotten worse. Taking care of the citizens is an afterthought in the rush to turn San Francisco into a innovative world class city built by and for robots.

The public transit systems are already at capacity. The SFMTA and BART solution is to cram more bodies in to the buses and trains by removing the seats, making it harder for many who rely on public transit to take it.

They really want those old and infirm people to leave and make room for the young and wealthy they think are on the way. This is creating a class war in what used to be the most liberal city in America. San Francisco housing is for sale to the highest bidder.

Today they announced approval of the Traffic Demand Management (TDM), and the sheriff evicted a 100 year old woman from her home. She is being thrown out like trash onto the street. Older people generally don’t survive such a move for long so many see this as a death sentence. Expect a protest at City Hall.

Last time the SFMTA came begging for tax dollars the voters refused to cough it up. Some indication of disgust with that department and an awakening of the populace that no longer blindly trust SFMTA and City Hall.

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)

Merchants, community organizations sue to block Geary BRT project

By : sfexaminer – excerpt

The Geary Bus Rapid Transit Project has been in the works for more than a decade, but a newly filed lawsuit wants local courts to “slow down” the project.

An environmental lawsuit against the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency and San Francisco County Transportation Authority project was filed Friday in San Francisco Superior Court, taking aim at the controversial project that is intended to improve public transit from the northwest side of The City to downtown.

The SFCTA declined to comment, and the SFMTA could not be reached for comment…

The suit was brought by San Franciscans for Sensible Transit, a nonprofit touted by Geary Boulevard merchant David Heller, a staunch opponent of Geary BRT.

“This action is brought to stop a grave error in judgment from taking form as a bus thruway [sic],” the claim states, “which destroys the quality of life and economic health of the Richmond District of San Francisco.”… (more)

There are a lot of people who oppose the Hybrid Alternative Geary BRT, the mess on Van Ness, and the Red Lanes on Mission. We need a break from constant changes on the streets and musical chairs with bus stops. We need a return to civility, but it is hard to be civil when you are stressed by having to deal with constant change. We need a moratorium on disruptions. This suit is a strike against maximum change and disruption, in favor of a cheaper, less damaging alternative. Who wants to spend an extra $300 million dollars and endure years of turmoil when you don’t have to?

Who is San Francisco’s next transit-centric supervisor?

By sfexaminer – excerpt

With the departure of Supervisor Scott Wiener to the state Senate, transportation experts in the Bay Area are seeing a vacuum in San Francisco.

During his time as supervisor, Wiener, a staunch transit advocate, formed a Late Night Transit Working Group aimed at low-wage workers, ushered in Proposition B in 2014 to tie local transportation funding to population growth, tried to get a vehicle license fee that Mayor Ed Lee opposed on the ballot, brought back the Castro shuttle, authored the Subway Master Plan urging San Francisco to continuously build subways and helped (along with other politicians) usher in the Gator Pass, a transit pass for San Francisco State University students.

Suffice to say, transportation makes Wiener’s wheels turn.

After four new supervisors were elected in November, the San Francisco Examiner asked each of them a host of controversial transportation issues to see if any would try their hand at filling Wienezr’s shoes. .. (more)

Read the entire article and comment at the source. It is good to see this new group of supervisors are not feeling as dependent on the Bike Coalition to set the agenda as their predessers did. The new supervisors seem to be listening to their constituents more. We understand that one of the biggest losers is now on the SF Bicycle Coalition Board, and his supervisor most certainly owes that organization nada.

We anticipate major changes in budget allocations, as health, housing, justice, and other issues take precedent this year. San Francisco needs to do more with a lot less money and that means dropping the most expensive solutions in favor of the least expensive one for a change.