Transbay Terminal — yet another problem. Train space might be too small

By Phil Matier : sfchronicle – excerpt

The Transbay Transit Center may not have enough room in its underground rail station to handle Caltrain service.

San Francisco’s Transbay Transit Center may have a new problem on its hands — not enough room in its $700 million underground train station to handle the projected Caltrain rail service when, or if, it arrives.

“That’s what we are looking into now: what level of projected future service we will have and how much the station will accommodate,” said Caltrain spokesman Seamus Murphy.

At issue is the two-story-high, three-block-long train “box” that sits under the terminal. It was built as part of a plan to bring both Caltrain’s Peninsula rail service and California high-speed trains directly into the terminal via a 1.3-mile tunnel to the Caltrain station at Fourth and King streets…(more)

Don’t hold your breath, but, what more can go wrong with this that has not happened yet?

Reopening Of Stockton Street Marks Milestone In Central Subway Project

sanfrancisco.cbslocal – excerpt

SAN FRANCISCO (CBS SF) — After being closed for seven years, a portion of Stockton Street in downtown San Francisco reopened Thursday, San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency officials announced.

Stockton Street between Geary and Ellis streets had been closed for construction of the underground Central Subway, which is set to connect riders from the South of Market neighborhood to Chinatown…

“Stockton Street is a major commercial artery and bus route that brings life into the heart of District Three,” Supervisor Aaron Peskin said in a statement. “For many residents in Chinatown and North Beach, this throughway also represents equitable and undisrupted access to downtown jobs and services…

The SFMTA has committed itself to building this vital link between two of San Francisco’s most iconic communities… (more)

“The SFMTA has committed itself to building this vital link between two of San Francisco’s most iconic communities.” 

How about reopening Mission Street to rebuild the vital link between two of San Francisco’s other most iconic Latino communities? Isn’t the cultural historical character of the Mission as important as any other in the city or do we detect a hint of discrimination against the Mission? Tear down the wall on Mission Street. Remove the barriers to trade and commerce in the Mission.

Uber and the Ongoing Erasure of Public Life

By Nikil Saval : newyorker – excerpt

Uber has become a subsidized alternative to the public-transportation systems that it claims to support.

Last September, Uber rolled out a rebranding campaign. A new television commercial showed car doors being flung open and the young and the old crowding in, flying out, and ending up in a small open-air mercado or at a lake. Though there were a few drivers, the image presented was of ceaseless, liberating mobility for passengers, anywhere in the world. Uber changed its logo, too, to a demure sans-serif display—white against a black background, its only flourish a modest pair of mirrored stems attached to the “U” and the “b.” This was a significant change. Since 2016, the phone app and the stickers that identified Uber-enabled cars had enjoyed an image designed partly by the co-founder and then-C.E.O. Travis Kalanick: a circle bisected with a cord, placed against the background of a colorful tile. When tilted ninety degrees counterclockwise, some design and technology journalists noted, it looked unmistakably like a human bent over and seen from behind.

The era of what has been referred to as Uber’s “asshole” logo happened to coincide with the company’s longest stretch of bad press, including multiple reports of sexual abuse inside the company and by its drivers. In 2017, the company’s investors ousted Kalanick. His successor, Dara Khosrowshahi, has made considerable efforts to improve the company’s image in advance of a likely I.P.O. this year. Last October, Khosrowshahi, like many corporate leaders, pulled out of a summit held by Saudi Arabia’s crown prince, in Riyadh, following the murder of the journalist Jamal Khashoggi. (Uber still benefits from vast infusions of Saudi funding.)… (more)

Continue reading

California Autobahn? Long-shot bill proposes freeway lanes with no speed limit

By Alyssa Pereira : sfgate – excerpt

Motorists sick of idling in traffic on Interstate 5 in California would theoretically have another option, if a new bill introduced on Friday to the state legislature turns into a reality. But critics say that’s not likely.

State Senator John Moorlach (R-Orange County) introduced SB 319 as a way to ease congestion on I-5 and State Route 99. Moorlach pitched the idea as a way to ease greenhouse gasses from idling cars.

The plan calls for the Department of Transportation to build two additional traffic lanes on the north and southbound directions of both highways. Those lanes would not have speed limits, although drivers in the other pre-existing lanes would still need to abide by the official 65 miles per hour limit… (more)

Replacing High Speed Rail with a High Speed Highway, another bay crossing, and train electrification sounds like a cheaper, easier, faster solution to reducing traffic and congestion, if that is the goal. Without taking a position on any these options, we applaud the thinking outside the box on how to do more with less taxpayer transit dollars. Recent over-budget large public transit projects have not gone well. It is time to shift priorities and do more with less.

SFMTA Proposes Parking Changes to Prepare for Chase Event Center Opening

Public letter from SFMTA:

Dear Dogpatch and Potrero Neighbors and Visitors,

The Chase Event Center, located at 16th and 3rd Streets, is expected to open its doors in August 2019.

The 18,000-seat Event Center could host over 200 sports and entertainment events annually, including up to 50 to 60 Warriors home games, which will start at 7:30 pm on weekdays and 5:30 pm on weekends.

In anticipation of the opening, the SFMTA has worked with the nearby neighborhoods to develop a plan to discourage people from driving to Chase Center events and to maintain parking availability for nearby residents and businesses during events.  The SFMTA presented these plans to neighborhood associations for their feedback, including the Dogpatch Neighborhood Association (DNA), the Potrero Boosters and the Potrero Dogpatch Merchants Association (PDMA). Based on feedback received at these meetings, the SFMTA prepared a proposal for changes to the hours of parking enforcement and meter rates.

Special event meter pricing and extended Residential Permit Parking (RPP) enforcement hours on streets surrounding Oracle Park (formerly AT&T Park), home of the San Francisco Giants, have proven effective at maintaining parking availability for residents and local business customers.  As you may have experienced during games and other events at Oracle Park, meter rates are $7 per hour during events, while RPP Area Y parking is enforced from 8 am to 10 pm every day.

The SFMTA proposes to implement similar measures on blocks potentially impacted by the new Chase Event Center. The proposed parking changes, which are illustrated in the attached map, include:

  •  Metered parking
    • The metered blocks listed below and shown on the attached map will have:
    • Enforcement until 10 p.m. Mon-Sat
    • Enforcement 4-8pm on Sundays with events
    • $7/hour special event rates starting an hour before events
  • Metered blocks affected:
    • 7th Street between Daggett Street and Hooper Street will be enforced until 10 p.m.
    • Metered blocks in the Dogpatch north of 22nd Street between Indiana and Illinois Streets
    • 16th Street between 7th and Vermont (meters already legislated, to be installed after 22-Fillmore transit improvements are completed)
    • New signs will be posted on special event metered blocks to inform drivers to check the meter for current rates
  • Residential permit parking
    • All Area EE blocks will be enforced Monday through Saturday until 10 p.m.
    • Some Area X blocks (see attached map) east of Wisconsin Street and north of 18th Street enforced Monday through Saturday until 10 p.m.
    • Existing time limits (1-hour or 2-hour, depending on the block) will remain the same
  • General time-limited parking                       
    • The 4-hour general time-limited parking will not change
    • 4-hour general time limits will continue to be enforced between 8 am and 6 pm, Monday through Friday

We want to know what you think. Comments on the proposal received prior to February 25th will be considered as we prepare the final proposal.  Please send your comments to pamela.johnson@sfmta.com

In order for the modified hours of enforcement to be in place by the time the Chase Event Center holds its first events, the final proposal would need to be presented at the SFMTA Engineering Public Hearing in March, tentatively scheduled for March 8th at City Hall. (Check the SFMTA website for actual public hearing date).

Depending on the outcome of the public hearing, the SFMTA Board of Directors could consider these changes at an April board meeting.  This will allow new signs to be ordered and installed in August or September.

We will send updates when the Public Hearing and SFMTA Board of Directors meeting dates have been finalized.

For more information visit: Special event meter pricing.

Map of Proposed Parking Enforcement Changes.jpg

SFMTA extends special event parking for sports fans into more neighborhoods.  SFMTA intends to turn most of Mission Bay, part of Dogpatch, and most of the SE part of Southbeach into event parking for the sports fans.

Let Mat Haney and Shamann Walton know how you feel about this plan. How much should the citizens of SF give up to the wealthy fans of wealthy ball teams and owners? How many ticket holders are going walk a quarter mile to a game, especially through the kind of streets we have in SOMA? Most will park and take an Uber or Lyft to the event. If you can think of an alternate plan, suggest it.

San Francisco’s Street-Cleaning Trucks Overloaded, Unsecured

By Bigad Shaban, Robert Campos, and Tony Rutanashoodech – nbcbayarea – excerpt (includes video)

Following an NBC Bay Area investigation, the state agency responsible for investigating workplace hazards, Cal/OSHA, has launched its own probe into potential safety violations inside the San Francisco Public Works Department..

San Francisco’s process for routinely hauling away garbage is inefficient and dangerous, according to whistleblowers, who spoke to the NBC Bay Area Investigative Unit. Their concerns come amid a months-long NBC Bay Area investigation, which revealed serious safety violations inside the city’s embattled street cleaning program, including a failure to properly secure loads when transporting garbage across town to the dump. While it’s unclear how long San Francisco Public Works has potentially been breaking state safety laws, violations may date back at least several years.. (more)

 

Bay Area’s New Transit Station Reopens Parking Debate

By Rachel Dovey : nextcity – excerpt

It’s a classic indicator of success in California, a sign that when you built it they did indeed come (in cars). It’s the giant parking lot — whether football field-sized or rising in a multi-storied garage — and while it’s so often bestowed on retail centers, sports arenas and even churches, the question of whether it should accompany popular transit hubs is still a sticking point among many city planners.

In the East Bay city of Antioch, however, soaring ridership numbers may force consensus…

The transit agency now plans to add 700 parking spaces on another lot it owns close to the station. But if the lots continue to be packed, and commuters’ parked cars continue to line neighborhood streets, BART may reopen what the Chronicle calls a “long-standing debate … over whether building more parking is the best way to promote the use of public transit.”

“Wouldn’t it be better to divert people off the roads and onto transit rather than have them continue driving to the urban core?” Keller said, according to the paper… (more)

Build parking and people will park and ride.

Can Walnut Creek be a model for reducing gridlock? It hopes so

By Hannah Norman : bizjournals – excerpt

As Bay Area traffic congestion hovers at an all-time high, the East Bay suburb is taking matters into its own hands to limit single occupancy vehicles on the roads and becoming a model of smart transit among smaller cities… (more)

My turn: Public-private partnerships are an industry gimmick that don’t serve public well

By Cathrina Barros : calmatters – exccerpt

The start of a new legislative session inevitably brings calls from industry for lawmakers to authorize privatizing state highway projects through so-called “public-private partnerships.”

That would be a mistake.

Proponents claim multiple benefits such as cost savings and efficiency. But they fail to mention that previous highway projects in our state built with the same scheme they seek have not delivered as promised.

In fact, they are marked by taxpayer bailouts, cost overruns and bankruptcies.

Let’s take a look at the record…

People who want to hand public highway projects over to private interests claim that cost overruns are the responsibility of the developer, not taxpayers.

Tell that to the California Transportation Commission, which in 2017 spent $91 million to cover unexpected cost overruns to the Presidio Parkway developer… (more)

On a local level, SFMTA and their enterprise partners have taken over large swaths of public space in various public/private enterprises that are hard to pin down. It is extremely difficult for the public to access information on the financial details of these agreements, though many attempts have been made. Ask the taxi drivers how their medallion investments have turned out or the firm that financed them. What we end up with is privatization of public property. Rarely does the enterprise benefit the public. If anything, the public/private enterprises become an easy way to hide disbursement of funds from the public.

It appears that Governor Newsom is giving up on the largest boondoggle in recent memory that was supposed to be a public/private enterprise but never caught the imagination of any big money investors. He is suspending High Speed Rail, limiting it to the area that has already been built. Putting the rest of the project on ice. It seems that no one really expects that train to bring in the billions it will take to break even.

Bullying, verbal abuse, a ‘culture of silence’: independent investigator makes first report on sexual harassment inside SFMTA

By Joe Fitzgerald Rodriguez : sfexaminer – excerpt

San Francisco’s transportation agency is a haven for bullying and verbal abuse — but there is hope for change.

Those are the conclusions of the first report from Mayor London Breed’s independent “ombudsperson” Dolores Blanding, who in October last year was assigned to investigate an alleged culture of harassment, including sexual harassment, at the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency, which runs Muni.

Blanding’s appointment by Breed on October 5, 2018 followed a series of stories by the San Francisco Examiner that exposed unresolved complaints from women who were groped by colleagues and, in at least one case, allegedly bullied into sex by a superior… (more)