Proposal for $9 tolls on Bay Bridge, $8 on other bridges gets big boost

By Lizzie Johnson : sfgate – excerpt

Night-Bridge

Sunset cruise on the Bay Bridge photo by zrants

A measure to raise Bay Area bridge tolls to $9 on the Bay Bridge and $8 on others over several years took a major step forward Wednesday when a key transportation committee unanimously recommended putting it before voters in June…

But to get before voters, the recommendation will need approval from the full Bay Area Toll Authority, which usually follows the committee’s lead. A vote is expect Jan. 24.

If the authority gives the measure the go-ahead, the Board of Supervisors in each of the nine affected counties will make the final vote to place it on each county’s ballot for June 5 as Regional Measure 3. If it passes, the toll hikes will affect only drivers on the Bay Area’s seven state-owned bridges. The Golden Gate Bridge would be excluded. Commuters who cross two bridges to get to their destination would receive a 50 percent discount on their second crossing if they have a FasTrak pass…

The measure also includes a proposal to create an inspector general whose job would be to examine BART finances and operations…(more)

Good to know that they will use the increase in bridge funds to hire another high-paid consultant. That sounds like a winning strategy for workers who are paying an average of 40% of their shrinking incomes on housing. I’m sure they will jump at the prospect of paying higher bridge tolls.

 

Advertisements

Report dings SFMTA over chronic absenteeism

By Jerold Chinn : sfbay – excerpt

Persistent problems with employees not showing up for work at the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency is laid out in a report by the City Controller’s Office that the transit agency requested the office to conduct.

According to the report, the SFMTA had the second highest employee absenteeism rate out of the 10 departments in The City with the largest budgets and spent approximately $42 million in leave pay during the 2013-2014 fiscal year.

Tonia Lediju, director of city audits, wrote in a letter to the SFMTA’s Board of Directors and Director of Transportation Ed Reiskin, on what the transit agency’s management was lacking in curbing chronic employee absenteeism:…

The report states that absence management program is key to minimize the negative effects of absences such as an increased in costs of unscheduled absences, increased pressure of other employees covering for absent employees and services not being delivered.

In this case, un-delivered services means canceled Muni runs, which cause longer wait times for passengers, the report said…

The public can read the full report on the controller’s office website(more)

Will the SFMTA follow the City’s Controller’s suggestions and deal  with the personnel problems that are at the root of the slow and missing service riders have been complaining about for years before sinking  more taxpayers dollars into more expensive, disruptive street projects  like the $350 million Geary BRT plan? Will the Supervisors consider delaying the decision to approve the most expensive solution until trying the cheaper sensible one first? Details on the citizens cheaper approach:
http://www.sfsensibletransit.org/

Solving personnel problems should be the first step they take.  Can they follow the Controller’s advice and do the right thing for once? Can the SFMTA serve the needs of the public and save the city from
further debt and traffic disruptions? Stay tuned…

Transit officials offer tweaks to Geary BRT project

By : sfexaminer – excerpt

A major overhaul of how buses and other traffic negotiate Geary Boulevard is set to reach a significant milestone early next year.

The Geary Bus Rapid Transit project, which aims to make buses behave like trains by repurposing a lane of car traffic exclusively for buses, released its final environmental impact report Dec. 9, which may be approved in early January.

Along the way, the project’s planners received thousands of public comments, from fiery verbal lambasting at meetings — where a box filled with paper public comments was stolen, then returned — to online surveys, to meetings with multitudes of community groups…

On Jan. 5, the EIR will go to the SFCTA board for approval. After that, the SFMTA will bring individual elements of the project to neighbors for further public input, which will require individual approvals by the SFMTA Board of Directors to move forward.

Some Geary Boulevard neighbors have asked the SFCTA commission to delay approval of the environmental report so they have more time to read and analyze it.

The San Francisco Chamber of Commerce also sent a letter to the transportation authority asking for the board to delay action on the final EIR until February or early March, and wrote that meeting during the holidays “does not serve the public interest.”

Responding to the request for delay, Supervisor and Transportation Authority Commissioner Eric Mar said, “The significant community outreach done and many community meetings with those in the audience, and staff work, has been years in the making.”.

“There have been endless delays,” he said…(more)

THERE IS NO RUSH! There have been endless delays for good reasons. Each time there is a delay, the public has more time to suggest a better plan. Already many of their suggestions have been incorporated into this project and more alterations are needed on the Geary BRT. There is a sensible much cheaper plan supported by the public.

Who is rushing to approve the SFMTA $350 million dollar plus Geary BRT Hybrid Plan when there is a much cheaper version that will save the taxpayers up to $300 million? Who is rushing to approve more money for the SFMTA?

This is the department has bungled the design at Glen Park twice and still hasn’t gotten it right yet. The buses are getting hung up on the curbs.

This is the department that is planning to cut service and raise rates for cash-paying riders, and remove seats from the new faster-moving buses, so that Muni riders will be forced to walk further and stand instead of sit as they speed along city streets on public transit vehicles.

This is the department that lost the sales tax increase that included $100 million dollars for the Geary BRT.

This is the department that needs to be put on a cash diet before it eats the rest of the businesses on Mission, Van Ness, Polk, and Geary.This is the department that can’t figure out how to balance Ubers with taxis and the rest of the traffic mess and will eventually be out teched out by self-driving cars.

This is the department that wants to tell our fire department to buy smaller vehicles to run on narrow streets that do not meet state standard widths.

The emergency responders are getting caught up in the traffic mess.

This is the department that just “discovered” the large number of Ubers on our streets that the rest of us have known about for months. They probably needed to conduct an expensive study to “find” them and prove they exist. We just looked around and figured it out for ourselves.I could go on, but you get the idea.

Stop the SFMTA: Write letters to request a delay and show up if you can to protest in person. Sample letter is here: https://discoveryink.wordpress.com/letters-and-comments/geary-brt/

Meeting details:

Scheduled for Wednesday, January 4, 6:00 PM, SFCTA, 1455 Market St., 22nd Floor: The Geary BRT Citizens Advisory Committee will vote to support certification of the Geary BRT Environmental Impact Report (EIR). More info: http://www.sfcta.org/geary-bus-rapid-transit-citizens-advisory-committee-january-4-2017

Scheduled for Thursday, January 5, 2:00 PM, Room 250, City Hall: SF Supervisors, as board members of the SF Transportation Authority, will vote to certify the Geary BRT EIR  (2nd item)  More Info: http://www.sfcta.org/special-board-january-5-2017

 

 

San Francisco Considers Tearing Down Interstate 280 Extension for High Speed Rail, Caltrain

By Jean Elle : nbcbayarea – excerpt – video

The planning department said removing the freeway extension would free up space for housing and offices.

San Francisco is considering tearing down the Interstate 280 extension to get Caltrain and high speed rail into downtown. City officials said that portion of the freeway would turn into a boulevard, while tracks are built underground.

Residents opposing the plan jam packed a meeting late Tuesday in Potrero Hill to share their concerns. Some residents call the I-280 extension north of Mariposa Street a “vital line” that should not be torn down… (more)

 

San Francisco Awards its first Bus Rapid Transit Construction Contract

SFMTA – (excerpt) dated Tuesday, July 7, 2015

…“This milestone is the latest example of how the City of San Francisco is coming together to get big projects done and improve our transportation network for everyone,” said Chairman of the SFMTA Board of Directors, Tom Nolan. “Opening in 2019, this project is an essential bus rapid transit option that will provide a quicker ride through a major corridor.”

The SFMTA has authorized a new integrated project delivery method that can be used across the agency as a way to deliver projects more efficiently. Under this new project delivery method, the awarded construction manager/general contractor, Walsh Construction Company for Van Ness BRT, will assist and advise the project team in completing the project’s design and planning its construction, including recommendations for schedule improvements and cost savings opportunities. Once the design is finalized, a guaranteed maximum price for the project will be negotiated. Walsh Construction Company has extensive experience building public infrastructure and transit projects nationally.

“One of our top priorities is to deliver key projects that make our transportation more reliable,” said Ed Reiskin, SFMTA Director of Transportation. “The new integrated project delivery method allows for much-needed collaboration between our agency and the construction manager before the project begins. Pre-construction coordination is a win-win for the people doing the work, for the people impacted by it, and for the people who depend on these projects to keep San Francisco moving.”… (more)

How will this cut costs? How can you negotiate a deal on an unfinished design? This sounds like what happened to the Super Bowl negotiations. How did that turn out? Comments appreciated. They just spent 1.4 million dollars in 2010. Now they are going to re-construct what they just did?

RELATED: Does this mean Van Ness Avenue will be under construction for three years?
Diagram showing general timeline for project through service implementation

This seems to contradict the press release: The Van Ness Corridor Transit Improvement Project team is currently in the process of finalizing the design, determining the construction sequence and schedule, and finalizing the traffic management plan. When the design is completed, the Construction Manager/General Contractor (CM/GC) and SFMTA will mutually agree on a Guaranteed Maximum Price, or the project may then be bid out… (more)

 

UCSF nurses union comes out against S.F. Warriors arena

By J.K. Dineen : sfgate – excerpt – (video)

The Golden State Warriors could face some unexpected opposition in their drive to build an arena in Mission Bay: nurses.

On Monday, the California Nurses Association, a union that represents 900 UCSF nurses, came out against the plan for an 18,500-seat arena across the street from the new UCSF Medical Center on the southern edge of Mission Bay.

In a statement, the nurses union cited “impacts on access to care, patient health and the ability of patients, family members and health professionals to access Mission Bay’s hospitals and clinics in gridlock traffic.”

At a news conference Monday, three nurses expressed reservations about the Warriors’ plan, although they all admitted that they were unfamiliar with the details of the team’s recently released 800-page environmental impact report, which analyzes the arena’s potential effects on traffic and parking.

Backed by Mayor Ed Lee and San Francisco’s political establishment, the Warriors’ Mission Bay arena plan faced minimal public opposition until April, when a mostly anonymous group of UCSF donors and wealthy biotech executives announced it would fight the proposal. The group, the Mission Bay Alliance, has hired no fewer than four law firms and has vowed to spend millions of dollars on legal challenges.

While the Mission Bay Alliance’s legal threats have not eroded support for the development at City Hall, concerns voiced by rank-and-file nurses could help bolster the case against the basketball arena in the court of public opinion.

“Delay of care is a big concern for our nurses,” CNA member Lili Cooper said at Monday’s news conference… 

“The city is planning to tackle potential traffic jams through beefed-up public transit and a “traffic separation” plan aimed at funneling arena-bound cars onto certain streets while hospital and neighborhood vehicles are routed onto others.”… (more)

And which of our neighborhood streets would the SFMTA be re-routing traffic that is not already overwhelmed? Do they plan to bulldoze a new thoroughfare through a residential neighborhood? There are no streets around Mission Bay that are not already impacted by the traffic jams. And the trains and buses are already jammed with long lines of commuters and sports fans jostling for seats.

Dave Cortese Elected Chair of Metropolitan Transportation Commission

MTC : prnewswire – excerpt

OAKLAND, Calif., Feb. 25, 2015 /PRNewswire/ — Santa Clara County Board of Supervisors President Dave Cortese took over the reins of the Metropolitan Transportation Commission (MTC) today after the 18 voting members of the 21-member regional Commission unanimously elected him as chair for the two-year term running through February 2017.

The Commission is charged with planning, financing and coordinating transportation for the nine counties comprising the San Francisco Bay Area, a mission that also extends to integrating transportation facilities and services with development while promoting sustainability. MTC oversees several travel resources in the Bay Area, including the free 511 traveler information system (on the phone at 511 and on the Web at 511.org), the Clipper® transit fare card and the FasTrak® electronic toll collection system.

Cortese brings to his assignment two years as MTC’s vice chair, and eight years overall as an MTC commissioner. He was first appointed to MTC in 2007 as the Association of Bay Area Governments’ (ABAG) representative, later transitioning to Santa Clara County’s seat on the Commission. In February 2015 he started his third four-year term as an MTC commissioner… (more)

How cost-effective are new rail transit projects?

 By ALAN DAVIES: blogs.crikey.com.au – excerpt
Many newer rail-based transit projects aren’t cost-effective. Too often it’s assumed one transit project is as good as any other. More effort needs to go into building the right projects in the right places….
Transit projects with low capital costs look attractive but some also have low ridership. Some that cost a lot have correspondingly high patronage…
The first section of the Red Line in Los Angeles cost more to build per route-mile than any other investment but had below average costs per passenger-mile. Because of its low ridership, San Jose light rail had among the highest costs per passenger-mile despite low investment costs per route-mile...
However they find the density of neighbourhoods around the transit stations they studied is very low…
here’re the key things I take away from this paper. Density really does matter for rail-based transit, most especially employment density
It’s quite possible to provide an acceptable level of rail transit without any high density stations, but it might not be cost-effective. But density isn’t the whole story – there’re other important dimensions to providing and operating cost-effective public transport too e.g. connectivity, frequency, parking.
The size and nature of the “market” being served should determine the type and scale of the public transport “solution” that’s suitable. Guerra and Cervero’s findings on per passenger kilometre costs suggest that’s not always – or perhaps even often – the case.
Cost-effectiveness matters. I don’t know what’s a reasonable level of subsidy per passenger kilometre for the benefits of public transport. But the available financial and political capital is frustratingly finite and great care and attention should accordingly be given to maximising the cost-effectiveness of projects.
I think the key message (the authors are strong transit advocates) is precious financial and political capital shouldn’t be squandered on rail-based projects that don’t deliver, no matter how glamorous they might be. If a project doesn’t stack up, other options need to be considered …(more)

Some of our Central Subway Costs are here: Enclosure 2
What those dollars at work digging below sea level. 60 Feet down.

Commuters’ privacy is being clipped

sfgate.com – excerpt

Bay Area officials are encouraging public transit commuters to adopt the Clipper card, which is accepted by every major Bay Area transit system. The cards are convenient and easy to use, so it’s not surprising that people are adopting them enthusiastically – there are more than 1 million active cards in circulation.
But those commuters may be surprised at how much their Clipper cards know about them. If you use a Clipper card, your every move on public transit can be stored for up to seven years – even after an account is closed
This is an ongoing privacy battle with technologies ranging from Google to FasTrak. Unfortunately, the technological devices that rely on privacy invasions seem to be proliferating faster than the legal challenges against them… (more)

Related:
Privacy Advocates Raise Concerns Over Clipper Card Data

How Spin Doctors Roll Out MUNI Contracts

By: Ben Shore : resetsanfrancisco.org – excerpt

Maybe it was because I read about the SF MTA’s decision to pay nearly $100,000 for outside PR help on a morning when the Clipper Card didn’t work and we would have been happy to see any N-Judah, even one with all the doors stuck wide open, but it just seemed wrong on so many levels to pay spin doctors to make us feel better about riding on a broken Municipal Railway.
Since then I’ve seen just how good these spin-doctors are at their jobs. They actually managed to help the MUNI generate headlines about a new labor contract that made it seem like tens millions of dollars would be saved when in actuality nobody really knows for sure how much the contract will save and the best expert guess is that it will save just a fraction of the agency’s budget shortfall… (more)

Do we repeat ourselves? This story bears repeating since recent reports appear to indicate the smart system and the sensors don’t work. As some have pointed out, you can get human eyes to gather data.