Why split the SFMTA?

I believe the Supervisors did not appreciate the type of open-ended contract they discovered when they investigated the Van Ness BRT project. I’m not going to describe it here. You can watch the many hearings that have been conducted on the contracts and delays. I’m not going into the financial shenanigans.

Other investigations into major mistakes made on projects such as the ones on Potrero next to the General Hospital lead to questions about communication within the department and SFMTAs dealings with other city agencies. At a public neighborhood meeting we discovered that the Project Manager for Potrero Ave. is also Project Manager for at least one other large project. This leads us to believe that they have bitten off too much to do well and need to put all new project starts on hold while they finish the ones the ones they have going now.

Disputes with the Fire Department and other city agencies involved in emergency operations along with daily transit meltdowns concern people who are responsible for handling a major disaster. How will a gridlocked city handle the next earthquake or other disaster that cuts off power when so much of our lives are electronica now. There is no evacuation plan. The plan is to shelter in place. That doesn’t work under all circumstances.

While you are at it, pay attention to public comments, especially where the bus stop removals and other inconveniences are opposed. Spitting SFMTA (not Muni) has less to do with cars and more to do with providing the service the Muni riders want instead of ignoring them. A business that ignores its customers will not survive long. In this case, the sales tax increase failed because no amount of lies and excuses will convince people they should pay more for less, especially when the salaries are not keeping pace with the tax increases.

The voters much approve the split and restructuring of the SFMTA by ballot.

RELATED:
Supervisors want to split municipal transit agency in two — here’s why

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L-Taraval: SFMTA Seeks To Remove Parking, Add Boarding Islands

by Fiona Lee : hoodline – excerpt

With the recent release of the final results of a six-month boarding zone pilot, SFMTA hopes to add boarding islands and remove multiple stops to make the L-Taraval corridor safer for pedestrians and passengers.

The boarding zone pilot took place over a six month period at inbound stops at 26th, 30th, 32nd, 35th and 40th avenues and included improved signage, flashing lights and painted lane markings to alert drivers…(more)

As you can imagine the removal of these stops is not popular with Muni riders on the L-Taraval. They will show up and are asking for support from other Muni riders and people who oppose bus stop removal at the SFMAT Board Meeting on December 5th. Please see this letter from Paula of Save Our L Taraval Stops!

It all comes down to longer walks to the Muni or longer rides on the bus. Who gets to decide? The riding public or the SFMTA? Next time you get to vote on SFMTA’s continued control over Muni, remember they took away your Muni seats and stops and that is why you are walking longer and standing on the bus.

Get more details on how your can help:
https://savesfmuni.wordpress.com/2017/11/30/l-taraval-sfmta-seeks-to-remove-parking-add-boarding-islands/

Transit New regulations for jitneys leave ban on Muni competition in flux

By Joe Fitgerald Rodriguez : sfexaminer – excerpt

San Francisco transportation officials approved The City’s first-ever regulations for jitneys Tuesday.

The regulations will require private transit to provide wheelchair accessible vehicles and to submit operating data to the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency, among other new rules.

A controversial ban on allowing private transit routes to mirror Muni routes is still in flux, however, and SFMTA staff said the provision to curtail duplicate service needs more work behind the scenes.

The SFMTA Board of Directors approved the regulations Tuesday after a heated discussion, and asked staff to come back to the board with its final proposal to ban competition with Muni…(more)

What do routes have to do with competition when the whole point of the service is “on-demand” pick-up and drop off. There is no competition since Muni doesn’t offer that service. The routes a vehicle travels on between the pickup and drop off spots is irrelevant to the beginning and ending points, and probably has more to do with traffic flow than anything else.

Regulate Chariot, charge fair-market value for use of government property

Op-ed by Susan Vaughan : sfexaminer – excerpt

Photos by zrants

The San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency is an vital organization in The City’s efforts to combat climate change and income inequality. In its 2016 Annual Report, the SFMTA announced a 10 percent increase in service, daily ridership of 725,000 and one-year reductions of nearly 45 percent in carbon emissions…

In recent years, private, for-profit carriers that The City doesn’t regulate or regulates loosely, and that exclude many categories of riders, have proliferated on local streets: the technology shuttle buses, aka “Google” buses; transportation network companies (TNCs), such as Uber and Lyft, regulated by the California Public Utilities Commission; and now private transportation vehicles (PTVs)…

This is legal. In fact, in 2012 and 2013, local cab drivers sued the SFMTA over the cost of medallions (permits to operate taxis) arguing that the medallion fee — $250,000 — was an illegal tax. A legal brief, signed by City Attorney Dennis Herrera and Deputy City Attorney Wade Snodgrass, made the winning argument that the medallion “grants its holder the ‘special privilege’ of ‘us[ing] … public streets for private enterprise.” Elsewhere, they wrote: “California law … [authorizes] local government entities to allow the private use of public property, and to sell or lease public property, at market rates … in order to protect the public fisc.” In fact, in 2010 town hall meetings, the proposed medallion fee was identified as a source of revenue to support the SFMTA. But those medallion fees have dropped into negative numbers because of the competition from TNCs… (more)

The Board of Directors must include fair-market charges for every PTV — and shuttle bus — for “[t]he right to use streets as a place of business for private gain.”

Susan Vaughan is a local transportation advocate... (more)

How is Chariot different from Tech buses and hospital shuttles? Why are we dealing with so many different attitudes toward the same thing? Should not all these “private” transportation systems that transport the public be “regulated” is equals? The SFMTA should not be in the business of regulating private vehicles. They should stick to doing the one thing they can barely do. They should fill the holes in the road they dug up and they should manage the Muni. If the Muni were properly managed it would BE the choice of most people.

What does the director of the agency do with this time? He sits on many boards and does a lot of back slapping and self-congratulatory speeches, claiming he runs the best transit system in the world, while San Francisco traffic and businesses are being run into the ground by a construction nightmare of his own making.

City Hall is anticipating offering small sums of cash grants and low-interest loans to prop up the failing businesses long enough to get through the various hopelessly behind schedule construction projects, many neighborhoods opposed to begin with. Maybe we need to let the director go and work on his private projects and hire a new focused one who can get the jobs done effectively, ONE AT A TIME instead of 29 at a time.

If all the street construction projects went away tomorrow no one would care about the Chariots, tech buses, Muni, delivery trucks or taxis. The street constructions are creating the headaches for everyone and sucking up the Muni money. Kill the projects and you can have a free Muni.

 

Two-mile-long Van Ness bus lane project faces two-year delay

By : sfexaminer – excerpt

The two-mile-long Van Ness Bus Rapid Transit project is facing an almost six-month construction delay.

“The project has been delayed due to an increase of wet weather since the project started,” said Paul Rose, a San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency spokesperson, “as well as contractual challenges in getting a utility contractor on board.”

Left turns along Van Ness Avenue between Mission and Lombard streets were eliminated when construction began in 2016 to create bus lanes which are intended to speed up buses for thousands of Muni riders… (more)

As some of us have noted, there is a shortage of competent experienced contractors and construction workers due to the unreasonable number of government projects. There are no more construction workers to do any more work.

It doens’t take a brain surgeon to figure out that the “new economy” education system is producing too many hackers and computer geniuses and not enough talented plumbers and electricians to meet the demand for the fast-paced development City Hall expects.

Unlike software contractors, who can fake results an blame the hardware, it is hard to fake an electrical or plumbing system. If the city wants to be in the construction business they need to train more construction workers to work in the real world instead of the virtual ones.

Hopefully City Hall will figure out soon that there is no point in digging any more holes until they fill the big ones causing all the damage to our city. Do us all a favor. and “FINISH WHAT YOU STARTED BEFORE DIGGING UP ANY MORE STREETS.”

National Association of City Transportation Officials

NATO – excerpt

Mission: NACTO’s mission is to build cities as places for people, with safe, sustainable, accessible and equitable transportation choices that support a strong economy and vibrant quality of life… (more)

NACTO’s core principles and priorities for city transportation in state and federal legislation and regulation are:

  1. Promote safe transportation systems
  2. Support sustainable funding and financing for transportation projects
  3. Bring project decisions closer to the taxpayer, at the local level
  4. Reduce the impact of transportation on climate change
  5. Increase equitable transportation access for all people and all modes
  6. Prepare for automated vehicle technology… (more)

One of the many Organizations that SFMTA and our city officials are involved with, where policies are made on a national/international stage.

SF awards $3.2M in contracts to company connected to alleged bid-rigging, federal indictment

By : sfexaminer – excerpt

 

The City has awarded a new transportation contract to a company connected with a federal indictment and alleged bid-rigging scheme, the San Francisco Examiner has learned…

temporarily suspend contracts awarded to those under investigation, including federal indictment.

“If people have already been criminally charged with rigging the system,” Bush said, “they should not be let back in that system until they’re cleared.”

SEE RELATED: Defendants accused of bid rigging plead not guilty in SF federal court.

Butler’s indictment stems from the infamous Raymond “Shrimp Boy” Chow case, in which the FBI investigated politicians and contractors… (more)

Lots to talk about here but look at the contract. The contract is by the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency to the Butler Enterprise Group for public outreach. Isn’t the lack of public notice (or outreach), the one thing everyone complains about at SFMTA Board and Board of Supervisors meetings?

It appears we are being screwed by known political wonks with alleged criminal connections claiming to keep us informed, while failing miserably to do so. Take this information with you next time you go to the SFMTA Board Meeting to complain about the lack of notice regarding the latest abuse of power by the SFMTA.

And if you don’t like what they are doing with your money, vote to reverse, remove, or cut the powers of the SFMTA next time you get a chance. You might even want to vote against the next round of taxes proposed for the SFMTA

Exclusive: Key pollution control program is disabled in SF Muni’s newest, costliest, ‘greenest’ hybrid buses

By Joe Eskenizi : missionlocal – excerpt

Broken down electric bus outside of bus barn on 16th at Folsom stopped traffic including other Munis for hours – photo by zrants

In 1987, the Board of Supervisors passed legislation urging Muni “to take certain steps to minimize air pollutant emissions,” and get workers trained “in the latest emissions reduction techniques.”

Fine words. But, in 1996, representatives from the San Francisco budget analyst’s office staked out bus yards in the wee hours, and observed Muni employees idling diesel coaches for up to four-and-a-half hours; “Pollution Menace at Muni, Audit Finds,” screamed the eventual front-page headline in the San Francisco Examiner.  That story revealed the city analysts’ grim tabulation of Muni’s dirty habit: Those idling buses needlessly discharged the equivalent amount of pollutants as 56,000 cars—every single day.

In 2013, your humble narrator staggered up to a Muni yard at 4 a.m. and documented that it was all still happening. The first rays of sunlight revealed an oily haze enveloping the yard—the byproduct of scores of buses idling for hours on end.

Idling a bus for more than five or 10 minutes, by the way, is not only wasteful and unnecessary, but is also a violation of state law

Idling buses for hours—damaging their engines, wasting money and fuel, and polluting the environment—has been a problem at Muni for decades. And, a few months ago, the phone calls started coming in: It’s still happening…

Muni has long idled its buses indefinitely, and, barring decisive action, will continue to do so indefinitely. It does so despite the explicit instructions of the manufacturer of its diesel engines, and against the recommendation of every vehicle manufacturer on God’s green earth. It does so in the face of economic, mechanical, and environmental rationales and in violation of common sense and common decency.

That may yet change. But, for now, it remains to be seen what, if anything, will inspire Muni to throw idling under the bus… (more)

Support the Public Commons and free use of public spaces.

Fordbikes

Photo by zrants

The corporate bikes on the public streets go against our community and are offensive to our sense of public morale. The pubic commons is sacred ground that should not be sold or tampered with. The public commons is owned by the people for use of all the people and should not be sold or limited to the use of paid users.

There is a petition being circulated to allow the bikes. This is the petition is pushback against that petition.
I am concerned with how the city is allowing the privatization of our city spaces, including parking on the streets.  I see this as part of a much more disturbing trend to allow money to buy anything within the public commons for a price.
The corporate bikes on the public streets go against our community and are offensive to our sense of public morale as we feel the pubic commons is sacred ground that should not be sold or tampered with. The public commons is owned by the people for use of all the people.

I just signed the petition “Hillary Ronen: No Corporate Bike rentals in the Calle 24 Latino Cultural District” and wanted to see if you could help by adding your name.

Our goal is to reach 100 signatures and we need more support. You can read more and sign the petition here:
Thanks!

Supervisors vent frustrations over reportedly slow, unnecessary roadwork

By Joshua Sabastiani : sfexaminer – excerpt

upside-down

This sign on Bryant and 16th Street illustrates the lack of direction and focus we feel as we navigate the “complete streets” projects springing up in patches all over the city. The anger and frustration is boiling over and being directed at the supervisors. Photo by zrants.

City agencies responsible for roadwork were in for a bumpy ride Wednesday as supervisors aired their frustrations over such issues as sluggish pothole repairs and allegations of wasting $40,000 on an unnecessary bulb-out project at one intersection.

The frustrations built up during a hearing Wednesday before the Board of Supervisors Government Audit and Oversight Committee over a road condition report. But the hearing quickly turned into litany of complaints from members of the board. (See meeting transcript Item 1. Update on Street Resurfacing Program and Analysis of the 2016 TRIP Report.)

The tension comes as The City is increasingly investing in repaving roads and changing streetscapes to make them safer for pedestrians and bicycles and more efficient for Muni, in addition to greater investments in sewer and water infrastructure. Complications arising from a private sector development boom have also added to such frustrations…(more)

The Supervisors appear to have divided up the job of investigating various coplaints.

Supervisor Breed complained about an popular $40 K bulbout, but, she missed the extremely expensive sidewalk extensions along the bus stops cost upwards of $250 K. The bulbout campaign to slow the cars is capturing the Muni buses and fire trucks, slowing down instead.

Supervisor Peskins took on the potholes and discovered that the 311 coplaints are marked completed when they are passed to other city departments to be fixed, not when they are completed. He also complained about multiple digs in one area.

Supervisor Fewer voiced her concern that the SFMTA plans to put off pothole repairs on Geary until they start the BRT project. The heavy filled buses do as must damage to the streets as the trucks, so the more buses you have the more larger potholes and Geary is full of heavy full buses.

The hearing comes as Mayor Ed Lee’s budget, which was approved on Tuesday by the Board of Supervisors, includes $90 million in roadwork investment during the next two years. That investment will fund the resurfacing of at least 600 blocks annually…

“Given this huge investment in our streets, we need to get things right, and that includes investing in and prioritizing coordination,” Peskin said…

Thomas said the coordination is occurring with weekly design meetings among the agencies, bi-weekly meetings with PG&E and a project database charting out work five years ahead.

“Coordination is the key to everything that we do,” Thomas said.

But Fewer said they need to look for ways to augment it.

“We are seeing this added need for greater coordination,” she said…(more)

Residents would say this coordination needs to come with public scrutiny, input and prioritization. the five year plan needs to be a two0-year plan that matches the budget allotment.

RELATED:
Analysis: Traffic-slowing construction projects have doubled in SF in past decade