First-ever woman named SF Muni chief

By Joe Fritgerald Rodriguez : sfexaminer – excerpt

The first-ever woman to lead Muni at the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency was appointed last week, following the retirement of a man dogged by sexual harassment allegations.

Julie Kirschbaum is the new acting SFMTA director of transit, which she announced to the agency’s transit division on October 29…

As acting deputy director, Kirschbaum managed day-to-day Muni operations, led a system-wide redesign and managed the transit planning and scheduling group, according to SFMTA…

Before Reiskin was hired, Debra Johnson was acting director of transportation, overseeing multiple departments. Carmen Clark also was interim executive director of SFMTA for a time, which oversaw Muni responsibilities. However, Kirschbaum is the first woman to take the reigns as Director of Transit at SFMTA, directly and principally responsible for Muni.

In the Bay Area, however, women-led transportation agencies are the norm. Grace Crunican is general manager of BART, and Tilly Chang oversees the San Francisco County Transportation Authority, which primarily serves as a congestion management and transportation planning body… (more)

We can only hope that a new era of respect for the workers and Muni riders will open the door to some much needed changes in the top-down management style of the department. We hope the new director will concentrate on running a cleaner, safer, more reliable transit system today and get out of the planning department. We hope the new director will direct the staff to do the public’s bidding instead of forcing the pubic to follow the staff’s schemes. Just give it a try for 6 months and see if the ridership levels to not go up and the public does not approve.

Citing management failures, city withholds funds for Salesforce Transit Center expansion

By Joe Fitzgerald Rodriguez : sfexaminer – excerpt

A city transportation body voted Tuesday to suspend “all further financial assistance” for work on the Salesforce Transit Center, citing a lack of faith in the project’s leadership.

It is the latest delay to transit center funding, after $200 million was held up by a Board of Supervisors committee last Thursday for clarification purposes. That funding will return for a vote this week at the board.

The San Francisco County Transportation Authority Board, which is comprised of the Board of Supervisors, voted unanimously to delay $9.6 million in funds to the Transbay Joint Power Authority until The City can evaluate what led to the discovery last month of cracks in two steel beams, shutting down the newly constructed $2.2 billion transit center…

Supervisor Aaron Peskin said it is vital that The City plans the multi-billion dollar project effectively, making it essential to re-evaluate the transit center’s leadership before the next phase of transit center design begins.

“The right time to get it right is in the beginning,” Peskin said…(more)

The solution to dealing with the accountability problem is to pass a Charter Amendment to restructure the departments that are responsible for the transportation mess that seems to be pushing us toward a private corporate takeover of our streets. The shadowy regional TJPA has been a thorn in our sides for a while. Now we see the results of their efforts. What will it take for citizens to act? Ask the candidates for supervisor what they will do when they are in charge.

The transportation equity conundrum: 6 ways cities can improve mobility without displacement

By James Aloisi and Jarred Johnson : greenbiz – excerpt

What do we think about when we think about transportation equity?

There is regional equity — the question whether every region in a state, or every neighborhood in a city, is equitably treated from a funding perspective. There is modal funding equity, which goes to whether public sector decision makers treat each mode fairly when it comes to the allocation of limited public funding resources. Then there is ridership equity — are users of the transportation system being provided reasonably equal, meaningful modal choices, enabling access to jobs, healthcare, education and opportunity? Social equity, which builds the bonds that knit together the durable fabric of a healthy moral society, has a broader meaning. Fundamentally, social equity relates not simply to treating all people fairly, but also recognizing, acknowledging and acting on righting historical wrongs. Often that means stepping up investment in neighborhoods and communities that historically have been shortchanged when it comes to transportation funding…

While many planners and policymakers genuinely want to be responsive to rider needs, the reality is that inequities remain ingrained in large part because of habitual neglect… If a person or family cannot afford to remain in a gentrifying neighborhood the egalitarian and social cohesion benefits of a sustainable mobility system are being lost…

The author proposes a six-point approach to guide planners and advocates as they face the challenges of introducing transit improvements in underserved neighborhoods that are skeptical of change or fearful of displacement (or both):

  1. Ensure that the transit rider is heard
  2. Remember the unbanked
  3. Clean the power sources
  4. Educate, train and fund transit riders
  5. Attract and keep transit ‘riders of choice’
  6. Deal with the displacement issue head-on

 

Geary Rapid Project gets underway

By Michael Toren : sfchronicle – excerpt

Construction began this week on the first phase of the Geary Rapid Project, intended to bring safety improvements and more reliable bus service along Geary Boulevard and O’Farrell Street, officials with the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency said Tuesday.

The first set of improvements includes almost two new miles of transit-only lanes in each direction on most blocks between Stanyan and Gough streets, and new bicycle markings to help bicyclists cross Geary Boulevard at Webster, Steiner, and Masonic streets… (more)

SF’s damaged transit center closed for weeks — park could reopen sooner

: sfchronicle – excerpt

Buses won’t return to the damaged Transbay Transit Center until its broken girders are repaired — a process that could take at least several weeks. The rooftop park, however, could reopen sooner, officials said Tuesday.

At a special meeting of the Transbay Joint Powers Authority, Executive Director Mark Zabaneh said the agency should know by Nov. 1 what caused two large support beams to crack

But resuming bus service will have to wait until the permanent fix is completed, Zabaneh said. While the temporary bracing could support the weight of people on the park plus buses on the deck, he said, Transbay officials prefer to be cautious.

Construction crews will also be on the bus deck working, which would make it difficult, and possibly dangerous, for drivers… (more)

SFMTA already specializes in creating gridlock in the “East Cut”. What we really needs is an expensive park with no view to draw in the tourists. I think I’ll pass on the offer. Maybe they should turn it into a fake earthquake experience ride to prepare us for the real one. Sell t-shirts that say, “I survived the Transbay Terminal.” or “I Rode the Trasnbay Wave”.  Make it a teaching moment.

RELATED:

Responsibility for Salesforce Transit Center fix remains an open question

By Joe Fitzgerald Rodriguez : sfexaminer – excerpt

Just who will pay to fix cracked steel beams at the Salesforce Transit Center is still an open question, but the cost won’t be covered by a contingency fund set aside for construction errors and fixes, officials said at a City Hall meeting Tuesday.

Dennis Turchon, senior construction manager at the Transbay Joint Powers Authority, said at an authority meeting Tuesday that determining who is financially responsible for the needed fixes will have to wait until a cause is determined.

“The focus,” Tuchon is first and foremost on fixing the transit center, he told reporters… (more)

Forum on the Future of Transportation in San Francisco

If the slow transportation grind is getting you down, you may want to check out this forum that will attempt to find some solutions to the failing systems that are plaguing our fair city as we tilt, sink, and fall into the future.

SAVE MUNI – Forum on the Future of Transportation in San Francisco
Saturday, September 29, 10 AM – Noon Doors open at 9:30 AM
Koret Auditorium, SF Main Library. – Grove Street entrance – downstairs

The Forum will address increasing congestion on San Francisco’s streets and the deterioration of public transit service. The Muni carries roughly the same number of passengers in 2018 as it did a decade ago despite increasing city population and the continuing economic boom. What can be done to make it easier to move around the city?

The Forum features four presentations by transportation experts who will share their ideas for reducing congestion and improving public transit service.

Jonathan Hopkins, Executive Director of Commute Seattle will describe how his city has been the only one in the nation to increase transit ridership since the recession.
Jerry Cauthen, Former Senior Engineering Manager and Transportation Vice President, ParsoVisit Sitens Brinckerhoff, will talk about ways to improve public transit service and ridership in San Francisco.
Mollie Cohen D’Agostino from the Institute for Transportation Studies at the University of California at Davis will share results of her group’s study of the transportation networking companies (Lyft and Uber) in San Francisco and other American cities.

Bob Feinbaum, Chair of Save Muni will describe the role for congestion pricing in San Francisco, aided by a video featuring Jonas Eliasson, head of transportation for Stockholm which adopted congestion pricing more than a decade ago.

These presentations will be followed by a moderated discussion of questions from the audience. Come and share your ideas to make San Francisco truly a city where public transit comes first.

Doors open at 9:30 AM. Please come to the Grove Street library entrance and tell Security that you are here for the transportation forum. Coffee and snacks will be available at the small cafe opposite the auditorium.

Sponsored by Save Muni and the Coalition for San Francisco Neighborhoods. Contact: Bob Feinbaum bobf@att.net

Muni delays make politicos late to Transit Week event

By Joe Fitzgerald Rodriguez : sfexaminer – excerpt

All told, three Muni routes experienced breakdowns Monday morning, causing elected officials, candidates and everyday transit riders to arrive at the Transit Week celebration at City Hall late or just barely on time… (more)

Salesforce Transit Center to remain closed after crack in second beam discovered

By Michael Barba : sfexaminer – excerpt

The $2.2 billion Salesforce Transit Center is expected to remain closed at least through the end of next week after inspectors found a second cracked steel beam beneath the center’s rooftop park, officials said Wednesday.

The Transbay Joint Powers Authority shuttered the brand new transit center shortly before rush hour Tuesday after workers installing ceiling panels on the bus deck above Fremont Street discovered the initial crack at around 10 a.m… (more)

A bad week for public transportation in San Francisco this week has lead to a bad week for everyone’s commute. Will the voters rebel against the failed agency or will City Hall finally say ENUF and abandon the failed agency?

 

Show us the Contract

Show us the Ford/GoBike/Motivate/Lyft Contract

17thArkansas

Corporate takeover of 17th Street at Arkansas by zrants

Show us the contract and explain why it immune to amendments. We have witnessed a lot of amendments to a lot of contracts that were signed by the SFMTA on our behalf. What is sacred about this Ford/GoBike/Motivate/Lyft contact? Where is that contract? Who signed that contract? When and where and under what circumstances?

A number of surveys and recent public polls have shown a preference for station-less bike rentals such as Jump and Scoot. If that is the preference of the renters and that is the preference of the general public, why are we expanding Ford/GoBike/Motivate/Lyft stations in San Francisco? Is this another failed business model being propped up by investors at the public’s expense?

If the state CPUC is involved, it is time to talk to our governor wannabe’s about how they plan to fix that problem when they are elected. This is one of the largest thorns in our sides and it appears to be one of the governors’ responsibilities to release that entity from controlling our “shared” rental corporate entities tight control over our streets. http://www.cpuc.ca.gov/

We are happy to report that our Board of Supervisors has taken some steps in the right direction to engage the public by creating a process that the public can use to review and appeal the planed sites. See details here: https://metermadness.wordpress.com/actions/process/

RELATED:

Uh oh! They’re using the ‘share’ word again: Ford GoBike Expansion

Op-Ed By Patrick Maley : sfexainer – excerpt

San Francisco has a resource curse. We are walking, biking, and riding (and also sitting or lying) on the most valuable public right-of-way in the world. Just as oil rich countries suffer waves of invasion and corrupt leadership as others seek control of their wealth, San Francisco has seen waves of extractivist companies bundling cash to elected officials for control of the road, leaving the traffic, the pollution, and the noise for the unlucky residents to deal with. If the companies can take the public commons and reserve it for the use of the wealthy (while paying nothing to the city but “cost recovery” for rubber-stamping this plunder) they’re as good as gold. This is the story of most of what the SFMTA calls “emerging mobility services and technologies.” A good rule of thumb is that if a company is using the word “share,” it probably means they’re robbing you… (more)

 

Meet the man who says he can fix Muni. For real.

By Joe Eskenazi : mssionlocal – excerpt

‘Retired civil servant’ Mike Cheney’s plan is so not-crazy, it just might work

“Dude, do you know how much those things cost me? Apiece?” This is a de facto rhetorical question from Mike Cheney. Most are. He immediately answers it. “Eleven bucks! Eleven!”

That’s a fair amount of money to spend for a retired Muni diesel mechanic with multiple grandchildren — but if it leads to one of this city’s most intractable problems being solved, it’ll be worth it.

So, that’s why Cheney prepared a comprehensive “2018 Proposal To Re-align Muni Goals & Operations,” printed up a handful of $11-a-pop copies, and hand-delivered a few of the svelte, 21-page booklets to the office of Mayor London Breed. That’s her quote right on the cover: “Muni has to work well for the people of San Francisco, so that it is their first option.”….

What if it turned out Muni could speed up buses and trains — and wouldn’t even need to buy new equipment, tear up the streets, or even eliminate stops?

Well, it can. It could install skip-stop route schedules.

This is a system in which Bus A picks up passengers at Stops 1, 3, 5, 7 and so on and Bus B picks up passengers at Stops 2, 4, 6, and 8. This has worked all around the world; it increases capacity and speeds up service… (more)

Please read the article and comment on the source. The Fix Muni First folks will appreciate the low cost method suggested here to solve the crowded bus and speed problems and the money watchers will appreciate the savings, that could lower riders fees and/or finance more routes.

This plan seems to cover everyone’s needs except the corporate entities planning to take over and control our streets. Residents and merchants appreciate the lack of Red Lane constraints, and Muni drivers should be less stressed as well.

Mike’s ideas sound too good and lack the sexy street diets favored at the SFMTA Board. Who are our elected officials going to serve, the public, or the corporations? Will our Mayor appoint a true visionary with a lifetime of Muni experience like Mike Cheney to the MTA Board our will she select a corporate shill intent on retaining the failed policies that are driving people off the public buses into their vehicles?

Some other suggestions that are drawing a lot of public support for safer conditions on our streets:

  • Return consistency to the streets of San Francisco. Nobody can watch for pedestrians, scooters, bikes, cars, trucks and buses weaving in and out of lanes while reading street signs and directions.
  • Lanes need to be straight and flow smoothly from one block to the next. Following lane changes is creates additional distractions.
  • Bring back the safer one-way streets with predictable curbside bus stops.
  • Extend the timing of yellow lights and hold the red light for a couple of seconds before turning it to green to give stragglers a little more time to clear the intersection.

 

‘Eroding the Confidence’: SF Mayor Breed Blasts Muni Officials For Flawed Service

By Sam Brock : nbcbayareanews – excerpt (includes video)

One day after San Francisco Mayor London Breed blasted the Muni director in a letter, accusing him of “eroding the confidence” of riders in the system, the mayor took a ride on Muni and continued her criticism.

Breed said Tuesday you can’t push people to use public transportation and then have the transit not work. From widespread delays in service to the recent death of a construction worker, Breed said she’s fed up, and her concerns are echoing through City Hall… (more)

SFMTA Board reacted to the Mayor’s threats and the public’s outrage by ignoring it.

First, they ignored public request to limit the Geary BRT Red Lanes to Muni and taxis only, and retain some popular bus stops.

The Board approved recently unveiled plans to allow non-public transportation corporations access to Transit only Red Lanes.  Liz Brisson, SFMTA’s Project Manager for the Geary Project, claimed the definition of a bus is a vehicle transporting 9 or more people. This is news to many people who opposed the non-Muni vehicles at the meetings. When was this definition written and why was this intent not explained in previous presentations of the Geary BRT plan?

Were the Supervisors aware of this when they approved Phase I of the Geary BRT?

Will this new information be factored into the case against Phase II of the Geary BRT currently under litigation, or will City Hall settle the case rather than continue to fund the legal battles of this devious department?

Not only did we learn that Transit only does not mean public transit only, but, we also learned that the claims of time savings in the red lanes is not supported by factual analysis of existing red lanes. Perhaps we now can see the reasons why that may be the case. It seems that all red lanes are not created equal. It seems that the only time pubic transit only applies is when the lanes are “protected” inside a physical barrier. Otherwise you must read the signs to determine who is allowed on the red lanes. This begs the question, why paint the lanes red when the color is meaningless? Who is making a profit off this paint job?

After the startling bait and switch revelations and the Geary BRT approval, the Board went into private session for Ed Reiskin’s job review. As expected, the Board ignored the Mayor’s comments on the Director’s poor leadership and mismanagement of contracts.

The SFMTA Board commended Ed Reiskin on his work with the department, failed to scold or reprimand him for any of his mistakes or misdeeds, included those he admitted to, and announced their continued support for his leadership of the disgraced department.

What will our Mayor do about this rogue board and department that insults our intelligence by repeated attempts to deceive us? Will she appoint a strong new Director to the Board to replace the recently departed one hired by the department to handle the public through public outreach? Will the Board of Supervisors hand the decision over to the public in the form of a Charter Amendment? Will our Mayor support this option? You may want to weigh in if you have an opinion. Contacts with City Hall are here:  https://discoveryink.wordpress.com/san-francisco-officials/

REALATED:

Private buses have driven in city ‘transit-only’ lanes for years — with the city’s blessing, and in spite of the law

By Joe Eskenazi : missionlocal – excerpt

… Does it make sense to allow private buses or other such vehicles in red carpet lanes — or not — on a Byzantine, lane-by-lane, project-by-project basis? If you’re a transit layman, you’d probably say “no.” And, it turns out, if you’re a transit expert you’d say “no,” too…

The city’s administration of its “transit-only” lanes has only grown more haphazard and opaque in the past dozen years — not that the citizens who came out Tuesday to yell about the Geary Rapid Project (or, quite possibly, the commissioners they were yelling at) ever realized this was happening…

But is it legal? That’s confusing, too… (more)