Meet the SF man responsible for more than a quarter of all tech bus complaints

By Joe Fitzgerald Rodriguez :  SFExaminer – excerpt

Edward Mason is on the hunt, and his target is the elusive tech bus.

But Mason does not seek out his prey merely once. Instead, he catches the gleaming metal vehicles in the act of violating city rules on the “Commuter Shuttle Program,” repeatedly.

White haired, bespectacled and wiley, Mason stood at the corner of Castro and 24th streets on Wednesday awaiting a double-decker commuter shuttle bound with commuters to movie streaming company Netflix at its headquarters in Los Gatos.

Employees of many tech companies hire commuter buses between San Francisco and Silicon Valley, which weave in and out of city neighborhoods to pick up employees.

Tech workers defend the shuttles, and often say Caltrain is too full to use in a Silicon Valley commute. Tech workers frequently say in meetings that the shuttles take many cars off the road…

Due to the buses’ height, exhaust fumes are often level with bedroom windows — especially troubling when the buses are idle, neighbors have said in public meetings.

Yet none of these neighbors are as vigilant as Mason, records show…

In fact, Mason is personally responsible for more than a quarter — 28 percent — of all enforcement against scofflaw commuter shuttles, according to the SFMTA.

A pilot program to monitor and regulate shuttle use began in August 2014, and that’s when Mason began his hunt. He’s been enormously effective…

Overall, Mason has provided information on commuter shuttles 282 times, according to the SFMTA.

Mason’s emails detail scores of infractions, including a shuttle idling in a narrow street it’s not allowed in, shuttles staging in Muni stops, shuttles blocking access to Muni buses, incorrect permit decals, incorrect license plates and more.

“The plan says buses are supposed to avoid deep and narrow streets,” he said, “but what else is there in San Francisco?”…

Mason himself wasn’t entirely sure why he goes after scofflaw shuttle buses.

“Either it’s government not doing their job,” he said, or “I just feel it’s an inequity and the neighborhood is screwed.”

Later Wednesday morning, Mason walked near Edison Elementary, which is now a charter school. As shuttles pull up to pick up tech workers, they navigate a tricky milieu of running children and hurried double parking parents.

“You have to keep going. You have to complain, complain, complain until it gets fixed,” he said. Mason pulled out his pocket watch. When the clock struck 7:12 a.m., it was clear his renegade Texas bus isn’t coming.

Instead, a single-level black Corinthians bus pulled up. Mason strongly suspected it replaced the scofflaw Texas bus to shuttle Netflix employees, which he confirmed a day later. That makes the Corinthians bus his new prey.

Against the rules, it idles for 10 minutes in a Muni stop meant for the 24-Divisadero bus. To Mason’s practiced eye, it’s akin to a gazelle turning over on its side for a lion.

“I can get him for staging. He’s supposed to pick up, actively load and depart,” Mason said.

A 24-Divisadero passed by, blocked from its bus stop by the stealthy black shuttle.

Mason pulled out his camera…(more)

The New Muni Cars Have Arrived—See What They Look Like Inside

By Kelly Bonner : upout – excerpt

After the April announcement that we’d be getting new BART cars, SFMTA announced that Siemens, the developers of San Francisco Muni cars, are ready with a fleet of 260 new vehicles that are set to be delivered by end of 2016 to replace the current fleet of 151. This means that by 2017, you could be looking at these new designs that were previewed in the Embarcadero recently. They feature a new seating configuration, new color schemes (including green instead of red!), new exterior design and a host of other features. Shiny…

But one big change is that the majority of seats will most likely be laid out longitudinally, instead of transverse like they are now:…(more)

BART seats.JPG

New BART seat arrangement, photo by Zrants

The Siemens vehicles are rail cars but seats are also being eliminated on BART and probably the new buses as well.

Do you really want people standing on buses going up and down steep hills and stopping and starting constantly? If public vehicles have standing passengers they should move slower and start and stop slower, not faster. I practically fell into a wheelchair when BART started suddenly the other day. How many people can reach the hangers? What is the plan for children and short people who can’t grab onto a seat or pole? Hang onto strangers?

Removing seats is not the way to convince more people to take Muni to run errands that involve moving stuff. We have seen anti-backpack comments from bus riders who feel backpacks take up extra space. Packages, wheelchairs, baby carriages, luggage, pets, and bikes, among others, take up space and displace humans. How long before Muni starts charging extra for the stuff?

We insist on all private vehicle passengers wearing seat belts. Where is the protection for public vehicle riders?

Port Of San Francisco Signs Deal To Process Car Shipments

cbslocal 740AM 106.9FM News – excerpt

SAN FRANCISCO (KCBS) — After losing most of its cargo shipping business to Oakland in recent decades, the Port of San Francisco has signed a 15-year deal to process car shipments at Pier 80.

KCBS’ Anna Duckworth reports on the agreement celebrated today that city leaders say brings back maritime jobs to the waterfront.

Pier 80 is the city’s primary cargo terminal, but ship traffic had nearly disappeared since the recession hit.

Interim Port Director Elaine Forbes said the new lease deal with San Rafael-based Pasha Automotive Services will be a boon for the city.

“The Pasha Group will build an import and export business that will include preparation of these automobiles. Think of a mini auto plant. The vehicles will be trucked from Pier 80 to Northern California to dealerships,” Forbes said.

At an inaugural celebration Monday, Mayor Ed Lee said the agreement will help revitalize the city’s waterfront, and that at least 50 percent of the jobs will go to residents in the Bayview neighborhood.

“These are jobs for our present, our future. They’ve been working-class jobs that we always said we’re going to bring back to San Francisco. It’s not just tech jobs, hotel jobs, and hospital jobs,” Lee said.

Pasha has similar operations at several other U.S. ports, and plans to process up to 200,000 vehicles here per year…(more)

Don’t know how City Hall plans to move the new cars being unloaded at Pier 80 through the streets of San Francisco to one of the bridges to get them to San Rafael. I can’t think of a wide street that will accommodate large trucks capable of handling the trucks that SFMTA is not planning to “slow and calm” this year. It is not easy for large trucks to take tight turns or narrow streets.

Muni sets date to begin Van Ness BRT construction

By Jerold Chinn : sfbay – excerpt

Construction of San Francisco’s first bus rapid transit system will now start in November after transit officials said it would break ground on the project this summer.

A subcontractor dispute led to the delayed start of construction along Van Ness Avenue, said Paul Rose, spokesman for the Municipal Transportation Agency.

SFMTA documents show that The City’s Public Utilities Commission and a subcontractor chosen to do sewer and water line replacement work could not agree upon a price for the work. Instead, the Public Utilities Commission decided to bid the work out.

The SFMTA’s Board of Directors at its Aug. 16 meeting approved a contract amendment with Walsh Construction Company II, LLC, which is overseeing the construction of the project, to allow the company to begin work.

The Van Ness Improvement Corridor Project will include dedicated center-running transit lanes for Muni’s 47-Van Ness and 49-Van Ness/Mission routes that officials said will help improve reliability and reduce transit travel time for Muni riders by over 30 percent. Both routes currently serve about 45,000 riders a day.

Buses will change to low-floor buses and new station platforms will be able to accommodate riders waiting for the bus and for two buses to load and unload passengers at the same time.

Improvements such as pedestrian countdown timers, pedestrian bulb-outs and eliminating most left turns on the Van Ness Avenue corridor are also part of the project.

SFMTA documents show that primary bus rapid transit portion of the project will cost $189.5 million, which includes the cost of procuring new buses…

The total cost of all the improvements along the Van Ness Avenue corridor is $316.4 million, according to SFMTA documents. Funds for the project will come from federal grants, state funds, revenue bonds, local Proposition K funds and local funds from the Public Utilities Commission.

Officials began the bus consolidation portion of the project in June so that riders and Muni operators can get used to the changes before the opening of the bus rapid transit system in late 2019.

(more)

Bay Area Public Transit Agency To Subsidize Uber, Lyft Rides

By Ian Wenik : thestreet – excerpt

NEW YORK (TheStreet) — The Livermore Amador Valley Transit Authority (LAVTA), a public transit agency that operates in the California Bay Area suburbs, is testing out a new initiative: subsidized ridesharing trips.

LAVTA, which operates buses in cities such as Dublin, Livermore and Pleasanton, is set to roll out the service on a one-year trial in mid-September. The plan will offer riders in certain areas of Dublin subsidized Uber and Lyft fares to local destinations at prices ranging from $3 to $5, according to the San Jose Mercury News.

LAVTA Executive Director Michael Tree explained the reasoning behind the program in an appearance on CNBC’s “Squawk Alley.”… (more)

If you didn’t need more proof that the plan is to privatize transportation systems after the government takes away your right to own your own transportation, this is it. It is the classic”Bait and Switch” scheme.

  • First they convince you that “parking isn’t free so they can charge you to park on the public streets.
  • Then they claim they can provide the transportation system you need while “calming traffic”.
  • Next they claim they need more money to “improve service” and raise the taxes fines and fees.
  • Next they “improve service by removing bus stops and seats, forcing more people to stand so they can fit in more people.
  • Then, when they have millions of people depending on them for service, they tell you to take the new “smart” corporate car service that they will subsidize so you can afford it.

The joke, if it was a joke, is that we had the private car service when we started on this journey, but now instead of owning our own homes and cars, we rent them from the corporation that can control our every move, and the worst traffic nightmare imaginable.

If this picture bothers you support the Prop L, the SFMTA Charter Amendment: stopsfmta.com

 

Well-Paid SFMTA Employee, Andy Thornley), Proposes Limiting “Access” on JFK Drive – Westbound Travel Banned, 15 MPH Speed Limit

sfcitizen – excerpt

…(A pay package of about $130k a year (TCOE – Total Cost of Employee), well that’s pretty well-paid for a low-stress job, non? It’s not like being a coal miner or anything. Correct me if I’m way off on this, of course.)

This proposal certainly would reduce traffic, overall, by a very slight amount. It would also increase westbound traffic on Fulton, and Lincoln too I suppose, by a significant amount…
(more)

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Fix JFK Drive

Posted by Andy Thornley 32.20sc on July 28, 2016

It’s time to civilize Golden Gate Park roads : Golden Gate Park is San Francisco’s crown jewel of public open space and everyone’s backyard. The eastern portion of JFK Drive in Golden Gate Park has enjoyed a marvelous state of car-free happiness and harmony on Sundays for the past 49 years, as well as Monday holidays for the past 29 years. Parking-buffered bike lanes help to tame JFK Drive between Stanyan Street and Transverse Drive on the other days of the week.

However, it’s been clear for a long time that the western extent of JFK Drive in Golden Gate Park needs serious intervention to make if safe and welcoming for bicycle traffic, for people of all ages and abilities. There’s no separated space for bicycles and the roadway is a hilly winding slalom course, and motor traffic often speeds along carelessly, bullying bike traffic, or worse…(more)

Andy is running for Supervisor in District One. So far Sandra Lee Fewer is winning that race. Maybe Andy’s lack of popularity stems from his radical anti-car approach. People in the Richmond like their life the way it is and don’t appreciate the disruption his department is thrusting on us.  The last thing we need is Andy on the board.

If you have any parking complaints, Andy is the person you need to reach out to after you file a 311 complaint.  Details here: https://metermadness.wordpress.com/sfpark-compaints/

 

Patent for “Parking Meter with Contactless Payment” Awarded to MacKay Meters

By Marketwired : sys-con – excerpt

GLASGOW, NOVA SCOTIA — (Marketwired) — 08/15/16 — J.J. MacKay Canada Limited (MacKay Meters), a recognized world leader in the manufacturing and development of parking control products, continues to strengthen its Intellectual Property portfolio with the issuance of U.S. Patent Number 9,406,056 titled “Parking Meter with Contactless Payment”, on August 2, 2016.

This new US patent relates to parking meters and in particular, to parking meters having contactless payment options and follows closely behind two Canadian patents (CA 2,773,250 and CA 2,870,544) issued on June 28, 2016 that also relate to parking meters with contactless payment. The above noted patents represent just a small portion of MacKay’s extensive Patent/IP portfolio which includes utility patents, patent applications, design patents, and industrial design registrations, and trademarks filed in the USA, Canada and internationally… (more)

Bay Area transit system to subsidize Uber, Lyft rides

By Denis Cuff : mercurynews – excerpt

DUBLIN — In a first for California, a public transit agency next month plans to begin subsidizing fares of people who take private Uber and Lyft cars to local destinations rather than riding the bus.

Passengers ordering Uber or Lyft car trips within two test areas of Dublin will be eligible to get door-to-destination service at a big discount under a partnership between the ride-hailing companies and the Wheels public bus system in Dublin, Alameda and Pleasanton.

The Livermore Amador Valley Transit Authority, which operates Wheels, said the one-year pilot project could help pave the way for changes in how public transit agencies in the United States serve suburban areas hampered by far-flung bus routes, few riders and little money from fares… (more)

 

SFMTA approves changes to Mission Street transit improvements in response to merchant complaints

Mission Street ‘red lane’ turn restrictions relaxed

By Jerold Chinn : sfbay– excerpt

San Francisco is relaxing some of its forced right turns on Mission Street as a compromise between merchants and residents…

This doesn’t sound right. There is no disagreement between merchants and residents. The compromise was between the Mission merchants and residents and the SFMTA Board. The Mission community, with minor exceptions, hates the red lanes. Support Yes on L to bring back some balance to the MTA Board. stopsfmta.com

The SFMTA is also working with The City’s Office of Economic and Workforce Development to support marketing to highlight the neighborhood and transit options to get to the Mission District, Brill said.

He also addressed the reason why it was best to keep the forced right turn on Mission and Cesar Chavez streets:

“We did evaluate the potential for removing that restriction at that intersection. However, given that northbound Mission is now a single lane, if we were to remove that [forced right turn], the congestion along Mission Street would be far worse than it was before, which means both drivers and Muni riders will have a less good experience as they did prior to implementing the project.”…(more)

Drivers can deal with traffic congestion without being corralled. People who need to go on Mission will go and everyone else will find a different path. Cars are not on a track. They know how to avoid traffic. Nobody is having a good experience on Misison now. Support Yes on L to bring back some balance to the MTA Board. stopsfmta.com