SF Transit boss catches heat for Muni Metro rush hour breakdown

By Rachel Swan : masstransitmag – excerpt

Feb. 06–A switch failure that caused major Muni Metro delays Tuesday morning drew a scalding rebuke from the chair of San Francisco’s transit board, who said it pointed to larger problems with the bus and rail system.

“I have to say this isn’t acceptable,” Chairman Malcolm Heinicke said during Tuesday’s board meeting. Heinicke said that malfunctioning switches have been an issue at Muni for years. He noted that the city’s transportation chief, Ed Reiskin, formed a rapid response team to handle them — which apparently didn’t work…

Reiskin blamed “staffing and communication issues” for preventing Muni from fixing the broken switch more quickly. Normally the San Francisco Transportation Agency keeps two staff members at the switch near Church Street and Duboce Avenue, and another two at the tunnel near Embarcadero Station. But on Tuesday morning only three workers showed up at Embarcadero, and no one was stationed at Church and Duboce… (more)

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Muni oversight board to nominate new leadership as group calls for ouster

By Joe Fitzgerald Rodriguez : sfexaminer – excerpt

ed-head

The transportation oversight board that oversees San Francisco’s Muni system — and hires and fires its executive director — is set to see a shakeup in its leadership.

The San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency Board of Directors is poised to vote among its members for a new chair and vice chair next week, the agency confirmed. The move comes during a time of great scrutiny for the agency…

The co-presidents of the Alice B. Toklas LGBT Democratic Club, an influential political group in the local LGBT community, called on Mayor London Breed to oust its longest standing directors in a letter

The letter cites the summer Muni meltdown, ongoing Muni train “switchbacks,” and an agency contractor laying 3 miles of the wrong type of steel track as mounting grievances that it lays on the shoulders of the current SFMTA board…

The letter noted those directors could fire SFMTA Director of Transportation Ed Reiskin, who Breed herself put on notice with her own scathing letter earlier this year…

Heinicke, who has served on the board since 2008, has often been the voice for the ailing taxi industry, but is also known as a pragmatist who weighs both drivers and transit options.

“Drivers are people too,” he argued last September when asking SFMTA staff to reach out to local drivers while planning a pedestrian safety project.

Gwyneth Borden, another SFMTA board director and head of the Golden Gate Restaurant Association, is expected to be voted in as vice-chair. She also is seen by some insiders as a vote to possibly oust Reiskin, the SFMTA director.… (more)

It is about time. Ten years of damage is enough for any city to put up with. Now is the time to hit City Hall with the personal letters you have been meaning to write. Now is the time to demand change at SFMTA.

Riders ding Muni over long waits, construction in latest survey

By Gordon Chin : sfbay – excerpt

Overall Muni rider satisfaction slipped this year after passengers this summer faced long waits at bus stops citywide due to infrequent service caused by the partial closure of the subway and an operator shortage.

The 2018 rider survey, complied by Corey, Canapary & Galanis Research through phone interviews in Chinese, English and Spanish, showed 63 percent of Muni riders surveyed rated Muni service as either “Excellent” or “Good.” Over the last two years, that number had been
at 70…(more)

RELATED:
Muni approval plunges in public survey

How many bus bridges does it take to tie up traffic in San Francisco? Why is Muni doing hundreds of projects at a time and starting more every week instead of finishing the ones underway? Why can’t the street paving jobs be public complaint driven like many others are? If no one is complaining about the condition of a street, leave it alone and fix the ones that are generating the most complaints. SFMTA needs a complete overhaul and that is the message that the public needs to send to the new supervisors as they take office next month.

Mission Street merchants hate the red lanes, regardless of any benefits to transit

By Liliana Michelena and Abraham Rodriguez : missionlocal – excerpt

A door-to-door survey of 73 Mission businesses reveals deep unrest

Nearly three years after the city installed red bus lanes on Mission Street, merchants still hate them. Fewer cars on the street, they said, has translated into fewer people visiting their shops, and a drop in sales that threatens many of the businesses.

A door-to-door survey of 73 businesses on the Mission Street corridor from 16th to 24th Streets revealed that the changes have been especially hard to stomach for older businesses, many of which are owned by Latinos and Asians. Moreover, few feel they have any organization or city official to turn to…

Although Uber and Lyft have been around longer, the impact on traffic in San Francisco — and likely on Mission Street as well — spiked in 2016, the year the red lanes went in(more)

 

Supervisor moves to kick private shuttles out of red transit lanes

By Joe Fitzgerald Rodriguez : sfxaminer – excerpt

It’s time for private transit to get out of Muni’s way.

That’s the message from Supervisor Sandra Fewer, who on Monday announced her intention to legally bar private transit vehicles, like tech-industry commuter shuttles, from red transit-only lanes meant to speed public buses.

Fewer’s announcement that she would ask the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency to help her craft legislation limiting private access to the transit lanes came at the tail-end of a City Hall hearing where San Franciscans from all corners of The City said they were seeing red over the city policy allowing it.

“The goal should be that public transit is the main mode of the people in San Francisco,” Fewer told the public Tuesday…

However controversy arose in August when SFMTA Citizen Advisory Council member Sue Vaughan discovered the agency planned to allow private transit vehicles use of the soon-to-come Geary Rapid Project red carpet lanes. The discovery has drawn protests from activists and organizations across The City.

The South of Market Community Action Network, United to Save the Mission, Chinatown Community Development Center, Chinatown TRIP, Inner Sunset Action Community, Senior Disability Action, San Francisco Transit Riders and other advocacy groups spoke out Monday against private use of public Muni-only lanes… (more)

Very robust public comments and discussions following the presentation by SFMTA. We look forward to moving ahead to fix some of the many failures of the Red Lanes through a series of legislative improvements.

 

Lyft becomes nation’s biggest bike share provider with latest acquisition

By : bizjournals – excerpt

MissionReds

Who should get to drive in the public transit Red Lanes?

Lyft is now the largest bike share provider in the country.

Doubling down on transportation efforts outside of cars, Lyft said Thursday it completed its acquisition of Motivate, the company behind Ford GoBikes.

As part of the announcement, Lyft said it would also invest $100 million to expand the size of its fleet of Motivate Citi Bikes in New York City to over 40,000 bikes. But as Lyft goes full speed ahead with a massive expansion in New York City, a Lyft spokeswoman did not respond to questions about plans for a similar increase in the Bay Area.

Even if Lyft did elect to increase the number of bikes in San Francisco, it would probably face community resistance…

In addition to the Ford GoBikes already in the Bay Area, Lyft also plans to launch a branded set of bikes, complete with wheels that are Lyft’s signature bright pink. Lyft declined to give a specific date, but said those bikes will be coming to select cities in 2019. Would-be riders will be able to find Lyft Bikes directly inside the Lyft app. As the company readies for an IPO in 2019, the company is striving to become a one-stop-shop for multiple forms of transportation, including bikes, scooters and cars… (more)

If this corporate takeover of our streets concerns you, please join us in our effort to let the San Francisco City authorities know how you feel, December 3, 1:30 PM at City Hall to protest and demand a copy of the documents that obligate our city to hand over public street space to this corporate entity for their private use and profits.

Details here: https://metermadness.wordpress.com/actions/red-lanes/

Ford Acquires Spin: An Electric Scooter Sharing Company

By Keith Griffin : fordauthority – excerpt

Ford Smart Mobility has acquired Spin, an electric scooter-sharing company that provides customers an alternative for first- and last-mile transportation. No financial details were released regarding the purchase.

Spin is a dockless electric scooter sharing company based in San Francisco. Ford acquires Spin while it has a reputation as a leading micro-mobility service provider, with operations in 13 cities and campuses across the US… (more)

Looks like the GoBikes, Chariots, and other street and curb hogs aren’t enough for the giant Ford Corporation that is competing with GM, Uber, Lyft and probably Alphabet, Apple and other non-traditional vehicle manufacturers to take over control of management of our city Streets. And they plan to take their time according to the following quote from the above article.

“Can Ford Motor Company make money off this new acquisition? That doesn’t appear to be an immediate goal, at least according to Alan Mulally, the retired CEO of Ford Motor Company in remarks he made before the National Auto Auction Association’s annual convention. “You see everybody working the last-mile issue right now. These bicycles are all over the place. I don’t know if we’re going to make money on that.”

Remember that MTC signed a partnership agreement with Motivate/Ford/GoBike./Lyft, that basically gives them cart blanche to take over curb space without any compensation to the public until they make a profit. When do you think the public will enjoy any financial benefits or compensation for this handover of our right to public use of our curb space to the corporate entities?

The excuse MTC and government authorities use to promote the theft of public curb space is that they are getting us out of our cars by handing public parking spaces over to the corporations. What they fail to mention is that those corporations want to control our access to our streets. The Red Lanes are the first step.

FIND OUT MORE ABOUT THE CORPORATE TAKEOVER OF OUR STREETS AT THE DECEMBER 3RD ACTION AT CITY HALL.

Monday, December 3, 1:30 PM
Room 263 or 250 SF City Hall
Supervisors Land Use and Transportation Committee

If you haven’t had a chance to submit a letter opposing allowing private buses (tour buses, casino buses, Chariots, Academy of Art University buses, and tech shuttle buses among others), a template letter with email addresses is here. The file # is 180876.

RELATED:

Copy of the Contract: BAY AREA BIKE SHARE PROGRAM AGREEMENT between METROPOLITAN TRANSPORTATION COMMISSION and BAY AREA MOTIVATE, LLC

Program_Agreement download here

Red Lane Amendments and Efforts to Stop the Corporatization of our Streets

MissionReds

After months of letters, comments and neighborhood pushback against many elements of corporate takeover of our streets and public spaces, many people who shocked by the announcement that some of the Red Lanes in the city are open to use by private enterprise vehicles, such as tech buses, private shuttles, and any vehicle that carries more than 10 riders, based on the definition of a bus.

Supervisor Fewer, among others, scheduled hearings on the use of the Red Lanes that were re-scheduled a couple of times, and reset for early December. As many people were preparing for those meetings, we got the news that recent developments at the Land Use and Transportation Committee may have made those hearings unnecessary.  November 5, 2018, Aaron Peskin aide, Lee Hepner, introduced Amendment 18-862, that was passed unanimously to the Full Board by the Land Use and Transportation Committee:

Ordinance 180862 – Ordinance amending Division I of the Transportation Code to establish a procedure for Board of Supervisors review of Municipal Transportation Agency decisions related to Bus Rapid Transit projects that do not include transit-only areas or lanes for Municipal Railway vehicles, taxis, authorized emergency vehicles, and/or Golden Gate Transit vehicles; and affirming the Planning Department’s determination under the California Environmental Quality Act.

The tape of the meeting is below, go to Item 6: http://sanfrancisco.granicus.com/player/clip/31749?view_id=10&meta_id=642988

As a matter of introduction Mr. Hepler described the areas of concern that are under the purview of the Board of Supervisors, though they are not being added to this amendment at this time.

This is a paraphrased transcript of the meeting:

Within the text of Prop A, there is a provision that allows the Board of Supervisors to enact an ordinance that gives the Board the option to review SFMTA decisions regarding various curb space decisions, bicycle lanes, traffic mitigations and measures etc…

Background information:  Supervisors Peskin and Safai co-sponsored Ordinance 180089, to enact that review provision regarding curb use. That ordinance expressly exempted certain projects from review that were determined to be public interest projects, such as bike lanes, curb modifications for street sweeping, and bus rapid transit projects.

This new ordinance is taking on elements of the Bus Rapid Transit Projects that are not clearly defined in the code and providing guidance as to the scope of the board’s review authority of these projects. This proposal expresses this board’s desire to promote Bus Rapid Transport projects that are generally designed and implemented to further public transportation reliability.

The amendment clarifies the Board of Supervisor’s policy preference. The board would not review BRT projects that are designed for public transportation use, but would take review of BRT projects designed for use by private commercial shuttles, tour busses or other modes of private transportation that might actually impede the flow of public transportation.

The proposed amendment… replaces the words, “bus rapid transit project” with “bus rapid transit project that includes transit only areas or lanes for municipal railway vehicles, taxis, authorized emergency vehicles, and/or Golden Gate Transit Vehicles.”

SFMTA appears to have collaborated on this. The amendment passed to the full Board of Supervisors as is on the agenda for the November 13 Board of Supervisors meeting. We had no notice, but, this appears to be going through rather rapidly. In this case, that may be a good thing.

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.

Muni chief steps down amid growing pressure over harassment allegations

By Joe Fitzgerald Rodriguez : sfexaminer – excerpt

John Haley, San Francisco’s top Muni official, has announced his retirement just one month after his assistant sued the agency, accusing Haley of groping and harassing her.

The head of the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency, Ed Reiskin, commended Haley’s time at the agency in a press statement…

More than 60 women from across every division of the 6,000 employee agency banded together to deliver anonymously written testimony to SFMTA leadership on October 22, urging them to quickly and thoroughly address harassment allegations.

“We represent women from various divisions and job classifications throughout the agency” reads the introduction letter to the women’s testimonies. “Many of us are scared to speak up. We all want you to engage us. We all want change.”… (more)