Uber and Lyft get the last laugh – all the way to the bank

SF City Hall and SFMTA used Uber and Lyft to kill taxis and attempt to remove cars. Now the ride-shares outnumber Muni. They created the Monster. Let’s see how they tame it.

A collection of photos of SF streets by zrants

RIDE-SHARES TECH BUSES OR TAXIS AND PRIVATE VEHICLES: SFMTA welcomed ride-shares as their allies in their attempt to drive SF residents out of their cars. SFMTA removed and privatized on-street parking. Planning removed off-street parking from future developments giving developers a huge windfall in profits. Developers did their part by offering Uber and Lyft credits instead of on-site parking, jacking up the demand for car-shares. The demand for car-shares, created by the parties in their haste to eliminate private cars, is driving the number of car-shares and increasing regional traffic as the car-share drivers are coming in to drive us around the city. Don’t even get us started on the tech bus problems that are effecting everyone around the Bay Area not just SF.

PARKING OR TRAFFIC: The parking problem for some is eliminated, but, there are more cars driving around NOT PARKING than there were before the parking was eliminated. Given the choice between parking and traffic, which is worse? You are going to have one or the other. Decide City Hall and clean up your act.

RETAIL OR DELIVERY: Instead of private people running their own errands shopping in their own cars, and bringing their purchase home, we now have delivery services running those errands for us and double parking of delivery trucks all over town. You do want that pizza hot, don’t you? You can’t expect your new computer, TV, or stove to be delivered by bike. Those come by truck now. Instead of mail once a day, we have multiple deliveries a day from multiple sources, adding both traffic and double parking to our streets. We have replaced retail jobs with delivery jobs. Is that the kind of neighborhood and city we want to live in? Where we interact by digital media instead of human contact? How many jobs may be eliminated by robots?

LOCAL SERVICES OR REGIONAL: We find that we have more traffic than ever pouring into the city. Many of our service companies, such as repair and construction crews used to work out of local warehouses and parking lots have been forced out and must now drive into the city to serve us. This jacks up the price of those services, many emergency in nature, electricians and plumbers, PDR and other businesses reliant on vehicles. Now your plumber must commute in to stop that leak. This leads to more damage and more costly repairs. Don’t even think about getting that roof repaired or your sidewalk attended to with any haste. Fast, cheap or reasonable remodels are a distant past memory.

PLAYING THE GREEN CARD: For those of you who have not followed the history of this anti-car movement, we may direct you to the beginning, which started with a treatise and the uniting of a number of non-profits that run the city. Details are too many to address here now. There was an idea that by stuffing people into large dense cities you could somehow reduce greenhouse gases and save the planet. One the way to that perfect future plan, an amazing happened. The car manufacturers cleaned up their cars and the engines got more efficient, so we are using less fuel and polluting less in our cars. The cost of gas is also going down, as the demand diminished. Many alternate fuels are coming on the market. Thus the green card is no longer sufficient to fight cars.

PLAYING THE SAFETY CARD: This brings up the need for a new reason to remove cars. Cars are dangerous. To prove that, most of the state and federal requirements for safety such as lane width, road signs traffic laws, have been altered to the point where few people even know what they are any more. This is called chaos. This is how the SFMTA really makes its mark on our city. No one creates chaos and hatred among the people on the streets like the SFMTA. They are geniuses at playing the safety card against us. Everything they do is geared to confuse and annoy us. Starting by turning our perfectly normal streets into battlefields of zones based on some strange markings that no one understands. They blame each accident on the lack of safety on that corner and target it for change.

PLAYING THE CHAOS CARD: Now that we have animosity on the streets and mass confusion because of rules and regulations no one understands and confusion over the street markings, SFMTA decided it is time to really stir things up by “calming” our straight, easy to navigate and see lanes into movable targets. The days of warning when lanes are merging are over. If you don’t pay attention to the lanes curing in and out of bulbouts, parking, bike and red lanes, you are in trouble. All your attention must go to following the lanes and it is hard to pay attention to the lane changes and the pedestrians, bikers and others who think they have “the right of way” all the time. People who don’t live here can’t wait to leave. They are completely confused.

WORST CASE SCENARIOS: It is one thing to design streets for everyday experience and assume that the power to the Third Street rail lights that “manage” the merging traffic on and off of rail lanes will always works, but, it is another to deal with the reality of unexpected emergencies and power outages. We understand that decisions have been made to ignore the warnings of our emergency respondors in favor SFMTA “specialists” and “experts” on how the emergency vehicles will deal with the realities of emergencies as they arise and become stuck in traffic, or, worse yet, cannot reach fires in high rise properties due to the fact that they have been downsized. According to then Supervisor Wiener, the Fire Department should purchase smaller vehicles capable of handling the narrow streets. Someone must be held accountable when there are repercussions to these short-sided decisions.

THE AFTERMATH: In the haste to remove cars from SF streets, SF invited in the newest tech and anti-car planning teams they could find. They failed on all counts. By any metric or measurement you care to name, the entire program is a failure. We have a much worse regional traffic problem than before. We have a lot more vehicles on our streets.

We have many infuriated drivers and Muni riders, removed off-street parking and building owners are offering Uber and Lyft credits to lure in tenants of those parkless housing developments. Why should anyone be surprised that Ubers and Lyfts are replacing the traffic the city used them to eliminate.

WHO DETERMINES THE FUTURE OF OUR CITY: The public needs to speak up and let City Hall know how they feel about these issues. The plan is flawed and it is up to us to demand an examination of the flawed plan. Hearings are being called. We will be alerting you to those hearings. Please write letters and come to speak out at the hearings if you can. What is your solution to solving this problem?

FewerPotholes repair effort kicks off in the Richmond District

Sarah B. : richmondsfblog – excerpt

Have more potholes to report? Be sure to use 311 to let the city know. You can call 311 or use their handy mobile app which lets you mark the location accurately and even upload a photo. Photo by zrants.

Last month, we asked you all to submit reports of your peskiest potholes in the neighborhood as part of the #FewerPotholes campaign. The project was created by District 1 Supervisor Sandra Fewer who convinced DPW to commit a dedicated crew to the Richmond District to repair potholes reported by residents…

The #FewerPotholes repair effort kicked off last Friday with Mayor Ed Lee, Supervisor Fewer and Public Works Deputy Director Larry Stringer donning hard hats and picking up shovels to fill in the first pothole on 27th Avenue between Geary and Clement…

“I’ve heard for months that the state of our roads and the number of potholes were of concern to residents in my neighborhood,” said Supervisor Fewer…(more)

RELATED:
Motorcyclie Mama : Even if you don’t live in the Richmond District, you can still ask the DPW to take action: According to their website, people who report potholes via 311 can expect them to “repair any pothole that is our responsibility within 48 hours during week days.” So go ahead, report those potholes, and let us know how it goes!

Report but don’t hold your breath. I filed a report with photos of the ones on Carolina at least 3 months ago, and that street is still a mess.

 

 

Twin Peaks Tunnel repair back off track

By : sfexaminer – excerpt

Muni’s confused staff is confusing everyone with their signs. They need to get out of the construction business and get back to running Muni services for the people who need it or hand it over to someone who knows how to run it. photo by zrants.

For riders taking the 80,000 daily trips on three of Muni’s light-rail vehicle lines, slow-moving trains and delays are a way of life.

Now, work planned to repair the Twin Peaks Tunnel — which would lessen those Muni slowdowns — is itself delayed, the San Francisco Examiner has learned.

The delay will also cause other Muni construction projects to start later than planned, as these projects are often timed in sequence…

The San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency has terminated its $32 million contract with NTK Construction, Inc., for that repair work, after the agency met “logistical issues” planning tunnel shutdowns that would have necessitated 40,000 riders to take replacement shuttle buses…

Those repairs are needed, staff wrote, to “lift the speed restriction currently in place for trains moving through the tunnel and cut down on unexpected service disruptions.”

For eight years, that restriction was 35 mph, and a year ago became 40 mph, but may jump to 50 mph after repairs, said John Haley, SFMTA’s director of transit…

The SFMTA confirmed another construction project has been rescheduled due to the Twin Peaks Tunnel Replacement Project delay, as work at Junipero Serra Boulevard and 19th Avenue was “supposed to align with the Twin Peaks shutdown for pedestrian improvements, but will have to be rescheduled to perhaps beyond July,” said SFMTA spokesperson Erica Kato.

Multiple projects may ultimately be rescheduled, Kato confirmed(more)

There are no more construction crews left to do maintenance because they are all working on street diets and bus lanes and adding more assets that have no maintenance plans of their own. Some of us saw this coming and tried to steer the SFMTA toward maintenance and away from expanded capital improvements.

Many requests are made for cheap safety improvements like paint on cross walks and added traffic signals. Nobody can suggest anything to the SFMTA. They have an excuse for why they can’t do anything the public requests.

In a recent article in the Ingleside-Excelsior Light, Safai is quoted as saying that he gets requests for adding more crosswalks to the most dangerous streets. Many people have asked for more traffic signals, but, according to the SFMTA these simple relatively inexpensive solutions are held up due to their lack of staff and the fact that they can only add 10 traffic signals a year in the entire city.

These excuses are coming from an agency that has over 50,000 employees and over a billion dollar a year budget. They can’t figure out how to do the small cheap projects that public wants because they spend all their time working on solving perceived problems that may crop up in the future.

Until the voters and taxpayers stop these large projects, or convince the supervisors to quit funding them, we will never get our simple requests for traffic signals and crosswalk markings. SFMTA needs to move some of their high paid planning staff into the traffic signal and sign painting department and quit ignoring the public.

Muni changes course on millions in bond funds

By Jerrold Chin : sfbay – excerpt

Muni is shifting millions in bond funds away from delayed transit improvement projects and toward improvements of bus yards and other agency facilities… Bus barn in the Mission, photo by Zrants

Delays in spending a voter-approved 2014 bond measure on transportation infrastructure in San Francisco has prompted transit officials to reprogram some of the bond money into other projects that are ready to go and in need of funds.

The San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency Board of Directors approved redirecting $26.2 million from the first bond issuance of the 2014 Transportation and Road Improvement General Obligation Bond from Muni transit improvements to Muni facility upgrades.

Along with the reprogramming of the bond money, directors also are requesting to a second issuance of $92.8 million from the Board of Supervisors…

The SFMTA will spend $21.1 million in upgrading its Burke Warehouse facility that will eventually house overhead wires and provide extra capacity storage for the transit agency.

Another $11 million will go towards the second phase of Islais Creek project. The project includes the construction of a 65,000 square foot motor coach maintenance and operations facility, according to the SFMTA.

Other projects the second bond issuance will fund toward the electrification of Caltrain ($20 million), the BART canopy project ($3 million), and a number of bike and pedestrian safety projects…(more)

 

Tired of that pothole? Report it today and DPW will fix it in June as part of Fewer Potholes Month

By Sarah B : Richmondsblog – excerpt

IMG_1289

I adopted Carolina (between 16th and 17th Streets) because the street is one large pothole that and wins the prize as the largest continuous pothole in town. photo by Zrants.

We’ve all been there. You’re driving down a street in the Richmond District when, BAM, your wheel hits a pothole, rattling your vehicle and making you grit your teeth in frustration. Inevitably you ask, “Why can’t this city keep our roads in good shape?”.

Our new District 1 Supervisor Sandra Fewer wants to do something about it. She has declared June to be “Fewer Potholes Month” in the Richmond District and has convinced the Department of Public Works to commit a repair crew EXCLUSIVELY to the neighborhood for the month to repair all potholes reported by residents.

That’s where you come in – we need your pothole reports!…(more details and the application form attached.)

Our state government passed a gas tax to fix the roads so let’s fix the potholes. Thanks to Supervisor Fewer for taking this on. Other supervisors need to join the “Fewer Potholes” movement. Invite your constituents to adopt their favorites.

This is the one thing everyone agrees on. Potholes effect ALL MODES of travelers, creating dangerous conditions for everyone who must deal with them. This often involves by swerving in and out of lanes to avoid them or slowing down as you approach them, and creates unnecessary friction between cars and bikes. Bus riders complain of “bumpy rides” and lose precious moments as the drivers are forced to slowing down or swerve to avoid them on the narrow streets. We spend millions of dollars a year on repair bills. Fix the Potholes now! Report details:

File a complaint with DPW. Take a picture. Make note of the address. File a report on it with DPW using the Mayor’s 311 complaint system. You may call 311 and speak to an operator but this can be time-consuming. It may be easier to file a complaint online http://sf311.org to get it entered into the record. They claim that all feedback is linked to the 311 system and offer you a referral number, which you can use to check on the status of your pothole. If you use that system report back on how long it takes to get it fixed.

New App Helps Dogpatch Residents Report Neighborhood Problems

by potreroview – excerpt
In March, a new website, Dogpatch Solutions Tracker, launched at https://dogpatch.dillilabs.com. A community service aiming to improve neighborhood safety and cleanliness, the site features a digital map application where registered users can pinpoint such concerns as potholes, graffiti, trash, and vandalism in Dogpatch and Potrero Hill…(more)

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.

Today’s SB-1 as Amended

http://leginfo.legislature.ca.gov/faces/billCompareClient.xhtml?bill_id=201720180SB1

If this is the Governor’s Pothole bill, it is badly labeled as most the money will not be going to potholes. Potholes look like an afterthought. Here is the law as amended today according to the official site. I dare you to find how much of this tax will go to fixing the potholes.

If you object to these new taxes being marketed as a pothole tax, without a clear description of how the money will be applied to fixing potholes, call the state reps and request a no vote on SB-1. Insist they give us the option of a “pothole only” tax: https://discoveryink.wordpress.com/state-legislators/

RELATED:
Editorial: Gov. Brown’s roads taxes veer way off course  

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.

Why Is Transit Ridership Falling?

Transit ridership took a turn for the worse in 2016. In all but a handful of cities, fewer people rode trains and buses, even in some places, like Los Angeles, that have invested significantly in expanding capacity.

It’s not just a one-year blip, either. In many American cities, the drop in transit ridership is an established trend. The big question is why.

Transit consultant Jarrett Walker at Human Transit wants more than vague speculation about the effect of low gas prices and ride-hailing services. He’s looking for more specific research about causes and effects — and soon:

Bottom line: We need research! Not the sort of formally peer reviewed research that will take a year to publish, but faster work by real transportation scholars that can report preliminary results in time to guide action. I am not a transportation researcher, but there are plenty of them out there, and this is our moment of need.

Here are my research questions:

  • Which global causes seem to matter?  Straight regression analysis, once you get data you believe.  Probably the study will need to start with a small dataset of transit agencies, so that there’s time to talk with each agency and understand their unique data issues.
  • What’s happening to the quantity of transit?  If ridership is falling because service is falling, this isn’t a surprise.  If ridership is falling because service is getting slower — which means lower frequency and speed at the same cost — well, that wouldn’t be surprising either.
  • How does the decline correlate to types of service?  Is this fall happening in dense areas or just in car-based suburbs? Is it happening on routes that are designed for high ridership, or only on those that are designed for coverage purposes (services retained because three sympathetic people need them rather than because the bus will be full).   Is it correlated to frequency or span changes? Heads up, local geeks! A lot could be done looking at data for your own transit agency — route by route and even (where available) stop by stop, to analyze where in your metro the fall is really occurring… (more)

I appreciate the thought that went into this article.  In my experience, people decide how to live their lives based on their personal needs, not based on datasets and studies. My questions would be of a more personal nature and I would put them to the public.

  • Why do you take public transit when you take it?
  • Why do you chose to take another transit option when you don’t?
  • Do your priorities align with SFMTA and City Hall priorities?
  • What Muni changes do you support?
  • What Muni changes do you oppose?
  • Do you prefer speed or comfort?
  • Would you rather stand on public transit if you get there faster?
  • Would you rather sit if it takes longer to get there?