WASHINGTON (AP) — Count commuters among the losers in the Republican tax bill that the House and Senate are expected to vote on next week.
By Daniel Potter : Capitol Public Radio – excerpt (includes audio)
Congress is advancing a proposal to preempt some California regulations on self-driving cars.
States like California have traditionally regulated how cars are operated, but the federal government regulates their design.
“The trick here is now the vehicles are becoming the operators, so there’s a little blurring of those lines,” says Law Professor Bryant Walker Smith.
He also says the bill would give the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration more authority over autonomous vehicle design. That could preempt current requirements in California for things like an emergency switch to shut off self-driving mode.
“But that preemption would not preclude states from enacting all manner of other laws related to automated driving,” says Smith.
Registration and insurance would still be left to the state. The Department of Motor Vehicles wouldn’t comment on the bill, which is up for a vote in the U.S. House Energy and Commerce committee this week… (more)
By Sally Stephens : sfweekly – excerpt
Merchants blame the experimental Red Lanes on Mission Street for 30% loss of business. Photo by zrants.
One Red Lane too many : SFMTA is using Red Lanes like these on Mission Street to remove “blight” like thrift shops, small unique craft businesses and repair shops all over town as loss of easy access and parking divers customers away.
Studies of displaced communities all over the world prove that gentrification is killing neighborhoods and the unique community character that created the charm the new residents think they are moving into. Views are a past memory as new towers scrape for the clouds and fog moves inland as the trees that blocked it are removed for the hilltops.
The small collection of cobblers, repair shops and bookstores left on West Portal, are slated for extinction because they are on a “transit rich” street. Red Lanes are the answer to curb these hangers on. They must go to make room for more high rise units of housing, coffee shops, gyms and bike shops. Everything else will be delivered by Amazon drones soon, unless they get permission to have the self-driving vehicles roam the sidewalks.
One size doesn’t always fit all. Most of us know that, but the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency has yet to learn that lesson.
The SFMTA recently received federal approval to expand red transit-only lanes to 50 streets throughout The City. While most are in the highly congested downtown and South of Market areas, others are not.
West Portal Avenue is one of the shortest streets included in the expansion. Two Muni light-rail trains and two bus lines travel at least one block on the street.
I go to West Portal nearly every day to shop, eat or meet friends. I see lots of trains and buses, but I rarely see one stuck behind a line of cars slowing it down. The trains move easily — sometimes, too fast — down the street. So, why does the SFMTA want to put red lanes there?
The Federal Highway Administration considers red transit-only lanes — like those painted on Mission Street — to be an “experiment” in speeding up mass transit. Indeed, the proposed expansion is also considered an experiment.
A few months ago, the SFMTA released a study of red lanes on three streets in The City’s northeast section and declared them a grand success. According to its blog, the SFMTA considers red transit-only lanes to be the “new standard” for city streets.
But this new standard may not be a good fit for West Portal…(more)
It is up to the residents and businesses to stand up and say San Francisco will not tolerate any more Red Lanes or experiments on our streets. People in the eastern neighborhoods tried to warn everyone and they were ignored. Now they are coming after everyone on the West side. It is time to act. Let you supervisor, Mayor and state and federal reps know if you are fed up and want to stop being the guinea pig for transportation experiments. Roll back the Red. Join the Sensible Transportation movement: http://www.sfsensibletransit.org/
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?
Matier and Ross : sfchronicle – excerpt
…“The elephant in the living room is solving the operating subsidy problem, which could be as large as $20 million a year — and without a source of revenue,” said Supervisor Aaron Peskin, who chairs San Francisco’s Transportation Authority…
By Nuala Sawyer : sfexaminer – excerpt
Bay Area residents are being invited to participate in an ongoing study on the future of interstate highways, which will provide recommendations on the country’s highway system plan for the next 50 years.
The study is being organized by the Metropolitan Transportation Commission and the Transportation Research Board, who at the request of Congress are holding a number of events across the country. The events offer the public the chance to participate in how best to plan, fund, operate and maintain the 60-year-old, nearly 47,000-mile freeway network in the decades ahead.
For those who are interested in providing their views, the study is coming close to home next weekend. On Feb. 23 and 24 the Transportation Research Board will be hosting a forum open to the public. The first meeting will be held Thursday, Feb. 23, from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., in the Yerba Buena conference room at the Bay Area Metro Center at 375 Beale Street in San Francisco. The second meeting will be held at the same location on Friday, Feb. 24, from 9 a.m. to 12 noon… (more)
If you are concerned about the state of the country’s highways and how the funds for roads are being spent, it is a good idea to write letters, send comments and show up if possible.
By Joe Fitzgerald Rodriguez : 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?
At the heated meeting on the Mission Red Lanes, Ed Reiskin holds the red folder we handed him, containing comments from over 4500 signatories of the StopSFMTA petition. How many do you think he bothered to read? Regardless, these comments are in the public record. Keep them coming. (Ignore the spam on moveon.)
What does it take to stop SFMTA’s destruction of our streets and businesses?
The voters resoundingly opposed the sales tax increase and federal funds could dry up soon, but that hasn’t stopped the SFMTA and their counterparts from digging up more streets. They gridlocked Van Ness and Polk and are aiming for Lombard and the Golden Gate Bridge next. Does it take a lawsuit to stop them?
The redcarpetmess.org website and the petition page have been updated and include a new video introducing San Franciscans for sensible transit. Please share this link with anyone who supports a more sensible approach to transportation in San Francisco: https://youtu.be/1aezGHnmsD8.
SFMTA Picks the Wrong time to Demand Fast Tracking $360 million dollar Bus Lanes when residents want to time to deliberate on cheaper plan.
Just as Cogress prepares to remove public health care programs and slash social security allowances that sustain millions of people, SFMTA demands fast tracking approval for their $350 million dollar controversial Geary BRT Hybrid design. The plan’s opponents want to save money and protect our local economy. Tell the Board of Supervisors what you want to do with $300 million dollars. Read about the alternative plan here: www.sfsensibletransit.org
Attend the Special Transportation Authority Board Meeting at City Hall on the Geary BRT Thursday, January 5, 2 PM
Letter from San Franciscans for Sensible Transit:
Thursday January 5 at 2pm the County Transportation Authority Board of Commissioners (the Supervisors)will meet in Room 250 of City Hall to consider approving the Final EIR and selection of the recommended $300 million construction project from Palm-Arguello through 27th Avenue of Geary Boulevard.
Many people have written to oppose the hearing. The documents are over 1000 pages and were only available during the holidays. And the January 5 date prevents the newly elected Supervisor of District One, Sandra Fewer, from participating because she will not be sworn in until next Monday Jan 9. She opposed the construction project and wanted questions asked. Voters of District One agreed.
Whether one is firmly opposed or not to the project, the January 5 meeting should be protested. To ignore the vote of 80% of District One for the top two contenders who questioned the project is contrary to our democratic principles.
Please write the Supervisors (who sit as the Board of the TA) asking for them to defer the decision to give time for the four new Supervisors to hear the issues. Many of you have written excellent letters and for those still could, Supervisors’ email addresses are below. If you can, please attend the January 5 meeting to have your voice heard.
San Franciscans for Sensible Transit www.sfsensibletransit.org
Write your own message or see a sample letter here: https://discoveryink.wordpress.com/letters-and-comments/geary-brt/
Email the following:
Subject Line: Vote to Postpone Vote on Geary BRT Final EIR Scheduled for January 5
Dear Supervisors/Board Members of the SF County Transportation Authority,
I strongly urge you as members of the Transportation Authority to vote to postpone your consideration of the Geary BRT Final EIR for at least 30 days after the currently scheduled SFCTA meeting on January 5, 2017.
To: Board.of.Supervisors@sfgov.org, firstname.lastname@example.org, London.Breed@sfgov.org, Aaron.Peskin@sfgov.org, Malia.Cohen@sfgov.org, Mark.Farrell@sfgov.org, Jane.Kim@sfgov.org, Eric.L.Mar@sfgov.org, Katy.Tang@sfgov.org, David.Campos@sfgov.org, Norman.Yee@sfgov.org, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, John.Avalos@sfgov.org, firstname.lastname@example.org, Dyan.Ruiz@sfgov.org, email@example.com,
Attend the meeting: Thursday, January 5, 2 PM – Details
Room 250 City Hall, Special Transportation Authority Board Meeting
Write your own message or see a longer sample letter here: https://discoveryink.wordpress.com/letters-and-comments/geary-brt/
See the OpEd in Sunday’s Examiner at http://www.sfexaminer.com/geary-brt-expensive-pledge-past/
By John Zipperer: marinatimes – excerpt
The construction on Van Ness Avenue intended to improve mass transit and safety has irked neighborhood businesses and residents.
Beginning on Dec. 19, the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency (SFMTA) began removing the overhead electric system for buses on Van Ness between Market and McAllister Streets. Through the end of the month, SFMTA closed off a lane in each direction between Jackson and Greenwich streets, began moving median trees, and working on different sections of the street.
Union Street merchants were upset at the closure of left-turn lanes from Van Ness onto Union, occurring just a couple weeks before Christmas and right in the middle of holiday shopping. The Union Street Association complained that “Business traffic is down, and this is one of the main reasons why,” and it urged merchants to contact city officials for help. Meanwhile, local residents expressed concern about the loss of the meridian trees on Van Ness… (more)