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)

 

When Will the S.F. Transit Center Reopen? It Will Be Weeks Before We Have a Date

: kqed – excerpt

Transbay Transit Center officials said Tuesday it will be weeks before they can offer an estimate about when the facility — shut down for a month after workers discovered fractures in steel beams — will reopen.

Mark Zabaneh, chief of the agency that oversaw the $2.2 billion center’s construction, told a meeting of the San Francisco County Transportation Authority board that resumption of service hinges on the results of tests trying to determine why two beams in the structure cracked…

Zabaneh offered no new details about the cracked beams, but acknowledged that the project’s multi-tiered inspection process had failed…

Peskin said in an interview Wednesday the review is necessary because of a long string of problems involving the transit center. He noted that the transit center is about $800 million over budget, was finished more than a year behind schedule and that the joint powers agency is now the target of a $150 million lawsuit filed by the project’s principal contractor.

Those problems and others, including the Sept. 25 discovery of cracked beams in the sprawling structure, raise doubts about the TJPA’s competence and its ability to handle the downtown rail extension.

“The organization that developed the Transbay Terminal is out of its depth, out of its league and needs a new governance structure,” Peskin said. “I think it’s time to rethink this to make sure we have an organization that can actually deliver a remarkably complex project.”… (more)

This has to be one of the most concise descriptions of the problems leading up to the decision to cut the chord of the money train for JTPA.

Lyft drops $100k against SF tax to fund housing for homeless

By Joe Fitzgerald Rodriguez : sfexaminer – excerpt

Ride-hail giant Lyft just dropped $100,000 to fight Proposition C, the ballot measure that would tax rich corporations to house 4,000 homeless San Franciscans.

Yes, you heard that right: Lyft, not Uber, is pushing back against “Our City, Our Home” in a big way, On Guard has confirmed.

It’s perhaps strange for a company whose CEO bragged to TIME Magazine in 2017 that his company is “woke,” and especially odd since the often-vilified Uber, which has weathered myriad recent scandals, confirmed to On Guard they’re not planning on donating for or against Proposition C. The Company That Travis Built is sitting this one out.

Uber and Lyft both fall into the crosshairs of Prop. C, which would impose a tax on San Francisco companies with gross receipts topping $50 million…

A recent report by the San Francisco County Transportation Authority found Uber and Lyft contributed to half of all The City’s new traffic congestion, making potential legislation to curtail ride-hails locally a distinct possibility, Ross said… (more)

Social equity groups have joined affordable housing and anti-gentrification movements into a new push toward localism as many communities are finding themselves at odds with powerful state interests. The ride hails, as TNCS are sometimes referred to, are under the protection of the California Public Utilities Commission, (CPUC).

Ford/GoBikes/Motivate/Lyft stationed bike shares, Chariot, and tech buses are overplaying their hand and unless the public is completely asleep at the wheel already, the voters should pass Proposition C to retaliate against the corporate takeover of our streets, our homes and our jobs.

City withholds Salesforce Transit Center funding as allegations of mismanagement mount

By Joe Fitzgerald Rodriguez : sfexaminer – excerpt

San Francisco city officials are withholding $9.6 million meant to fund expansion planning for the Salesforce Transit Center, in a bid to hold its leadership accountable for alleged mismanagement of the $2.2 billion project.

The move to delay the funding Tuesday came the same day as a lawsuit filed by a major contractor, and amid new revelations that the transit center may lose hundreds of thousands of dollars in advertising revenue due to its closure following the discovery of two cracked beams holding up its rooftop park in late September…

“We are taking a little ‘time out,’” Peskin told the Examiner Tuesday. … (more)

My mind is boggled. I can hardly think. Someone is finally questioning the rush to prop up failing projects with more tax dollars. TIME OUT is the right move. We need a chart to follow the action with these fast-paced legal maneuvers coming from all directions.

TJPA just got a strong wave of descent rippling through their regional quarters as the change order system is turned off. If a few hundred buses rattling though the center are going to crack beams, imagine what the vibrations of fast moving trains will do. And has anyone considered how much weight will rain add to the rooftop garden? We might find out next week.

At least we know who is NOT to blame. The motor vehicle drivers and the taxpaying public, unless you blame them for passing the legislation that funded this regional monster ie: passing regional tax and the bridge toll bills. How many new “world class” exhibits in bad designs can any city handle in a decade?

 

 

Who will be allowed to drive in the Red Lanes?

Director Ed Reiskin is leaving it up to the Board of Supervisors to decide.

Don’t miss your chance to comment on the Red Lanes.
BEFORE THE HEARING THAT HAS BEEN RESCHEDULED TWICE.
STAY TUNED FOR UPDATES AND SEND YOUR LETTER.

Supervisor Sandra Fewer called for this hearing to investigate the matter of access to transit-only lanes (red lanes) after SFMTA announced in August 2018 that they have been legislating transit-only lanes to be accessible to private buses. Some articles on that:

http://www.sfexaminer.com/private-transit-access-red-bus-lanes-angers-advocates/

http://www.sfexaminer.com/private-transit-not-belong-dedicated-bus-lanes/

The SFMTA Board of Directors has NO LEGAL POWER to permit private buses to access transit-only lanes (just like it also doesn’t have the power to preempt state law and permit private commuter shuttles to operate in public bus stops). Permitting private buses to operate in transit-only lanes is bad policy on so many levels. And the department is under pressure to listen to the public now. Here is your chance to let the Supervisors know how you feel about Red Lanes:

CC: Board.of.Supervisors@sfgov.org, Sandra.Fewer@sfgov.org, Catherine.Stefani@sfgov.org, Aaron.Peskin@sfgov.org, Katy.Tang@sfgov.org, Vallie.Brown@sfgov.org, Jane.Kim@sfgov.org, Norman.Yee@sfgov.org, Rafael.Mandelman@sfgov.org, Hillary.Ronen@sfgov.org, Malia.Cohen@sfgov.org, Ahsha.Safai@sfgov.org, MTABoard@sfmta.com

 

 

Breed, Schaaf call for regional agency to review Salesforce Transit Center investigation

By Joe Fitzgerald Rodriguez : sfchronical – excerpt (includes open letter to the MTC)

Two Bay Area mayors want a second opinion on the cracked steel beams at the Salesforce Transit Center.

Mayor London Breed and Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf on Thursday jointly called on the Metropolitan Transportation Commission Thursday to “assist in evaluating” the cause of those two cracked beams.

The Transbay Joint Powers Authority, known as the TJPA, is conducting its own analysis, the mayors noted in their joint letter, but the pair said “we believe the only way to ensure” public confidence “is by engaging an outside firm to review and verify any findings,” and for that peer review to be managed by the MTC. The MTC’s role is to help the myriad transportation agencies in the nine-county Bay Area coordinate financial planning and financing… (more)

 

 

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)

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