Cars, trains and uncertainty: How coronavirus will change Bay Area transit

By Rachel Swan : masstransitmag – excerpt

In a region where the whole economy depended on pumping everyone downtown, crowding was a sign of success. Then the coronavirus swept in, forcing workers to stay home and upending the norms of highways and transit in ways that no one had ever expected.

Apr. 27–For years, Bay Area commuters shared a daily ritual. They packed cheek-by-elbow into a stuffy BART train, or pushed their way onto Muni Metro, or crammed together in buses that seemed to lurch with all the weight.

In a region where the whole economy depended on pumping everyone downtown, crowding was a sign of success. Then the coronavirus swept in, forcing workers to stay home and upending the norms of highways and transit in ways that no one had ever expected.

Muni officials shut down the light rail at the end of March, wrapping the entrances in caution tape. BART, facing losses of $37 million a month, cut service in half. Freeways and bridges emptied out. Commuting may look strikingly different when these systems hobble back, retooled for an era of remote work and social distancing.

Riders who loved the bustle and conviviality of transit are now grappling with a rush hour that resembles the 1970s, when people tended to isolate themselves in cars…(more)

Not sure that people ever enjoyed the hustle and bustle part, especially since their eyes were glued to their phones and little communication was going on between riders last time I was on a BART. The author is forgetting the negatives that were moving people off the public transit system prior to the shutdown, i.e. almost daily breakdowns, route shifts, Muni stop and seat removals, constant disruptions, rowdy passengers, and worse.

Rachel is right about the future of transit. It cannot continue as it has been. Trust in Muni will not bounce back for people with a choice. Drivers who can stagger their drive times will and riders will travel less. That trip to Noe Valley for the special cheese may turn into a walk to the closet option near home or a drive to a shop with easier parking.

The question now is how will our government respond? Will it be business as usual, or will our representatives agree that Mom should drive the kids to school rather than put them on a bus.

Will the city authorities who supported transit agency investments in non-Muni enterprises like affordable housing projects, continue to support those efforts while demand for both transit and housing is put on hold during a probable economic downturn? How will the bond markets reacts to the “new normal” when it comes to financing large public projects?

 Raising taxes fines and fees is not going to work in the “new normal”. What will work best for the public when we come out of this?

Coronavirus concern: Total shutdown of Muni service might be best way to curb COVID-19 spread, Union President says

abc7news – excerpt

SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) — The Union President representing Muni bus drivers in San Francisco says a total shutdown of the system might be the safest way to go.

Roger Marenco is the president of San Francisco’s Transit Workers Union of America. He represents 2,300 drivers and is concerned about the safety of passengers and those drivers.

“I always tell everybody that the Muni buses, we are the bloodline that gives life to this city, but at this moment we have turned into the syringe that could potentially be infecting the city and county of San Francisco by transporting this virus,” Marenco said. “We need to stop the spread of this virus and maybe shutting the system down for a couple of weeks would be the way to go.”… (more)

SF County Transportation Authority and Parking Authority Commission Meeting and presentation

Tuesday, January 28, 9 AM – ppt presentation on Workshop.

1455 Market Street, 22nd Floor SFCTA Conference Room
Special SFMTA Board and Parking Authority Commission
Presentations and discussions on future priorities and goals.
“State of San Francisco” Discussion Panel discussion with Sean Elsbernd, John Rahaim, Ben Rosenfield & Jeff Tumlin

RELATED:

Highlight’s of Today’s Big SFMTA “2020 Board Workshop” All-Day Meeting – LOOK HOW MUCH WE SUCK, BUT JUST GIVE US MORE MONEY ANYWAY – A Whirling Dervish of Self-Contradictory Transit Spin, 169 Pages

Here’s the PowerPoint they’re going to go through today at the
SFMTA 2020 Board Workshop:

With author’s comments on the presentation...(more)

Debate on SF Measure D

This debate was filmed by Regional Video and posted for public viewing on youtube.

Dedicated tax needs 2/3rds to pass. Guess what they will do with the money.

UPDATE: State launches investigation into Muni doors that trapped and dragged a woman

By Joe Fitzgerald Rodriguez : sfexaminer – excerpt (includes video)

State regulators have launched an investigation into Muni’s allegedly malfunctioning doors and broken couplers.

The California Public Utilities Commission, which oversees rail safety in California, has confirmed to the San Francisco Examiner its staff launched a probe into both issues.

The California Public Utilities Commission, which oversees rail safety in California, has confirmed to the San Francisco Examiner its staff launched a probe into both issues.

“Yes, we are aware and we’re investigating what occurred and why,” said Constance Gordon, a spokesperson for the CPUC. “We’re looking at both the door concerns and the coupler pin issue on the new SFMTA cars.”

Both stories hit this week in two investigative reports: Muni’s door problems were exposed by the Examiner, and its coupler pin issues were exposed by NBC Bay Area. NBC Bay Area first reported the state investigation(more)

How many mistakes does the SFMTA have to make before someone shows the director the door? Can we start applying expectations of honesty to our local officials? When does a false or misleading statement rise to the level of a lie?

We anticipate some lively discussion at the Board of Supervisors meetings this week. We will be shocked if they approve the purchase of these vehicles at this time, but, not holding out breath either.

 

New Muni trains delivered with defective doors

By Joe Fitzgerald Rodriguez : sfexaminer – excerpt

Rider caught in door, dragged onto tracks and hospitalized due to lack of vital safety mechanism

At least some of Muni’s newest light rail vehicles — part of its more than $1.1 billion future train fleet — appear to have been delivered with doors that clamp down and lock on objects and people, documents obtained by the San Francisco Examiner reveal.

That door defect may have seriously injured a Muni rider last week… (more)

Thankfully we still have a free press. Do we need more proof that the system is broken? This is not good news for the those who approved the fast-tracked purchase of the unpopular Siemens cars. Will use the one tool they have to curtail the SFMTA? Will the Board of Supervisors refuse to sign the SFMTA budget?

A public department that ignores the public it serves is not a well-run department. It appears the SFMTA wants speed and they riders want safety and comfort instead. The public demands better. Speed is not the answer.

Who at City hall stop this insanity? Who will admit to a coverup? Will someone finally fall on their sword and take the blame? How will SFMTA’s director and PR czar spin this one?

Will City Hall finally let the public speak for themselves and consider their wisdom? Thanks to everyone who tried to bring reason to the department that has no ears and uses its power and public funds to silence those who do speak out.

RELATED:
Muni Official: ‘Deep Concern’ About Operator Not Spotting Woman Caught in Train Door

 

Ask Ed Reiskin

What’s next at SFMTA? Tomorrow is your chance to call into KQED Forum and ask Ed Reiskin some of those questions you have been wanting to ask regarding the state of the SFMTA and his roll in making it what it is today. Ed is scheduled to be on KQED Forum Friday, March 8 at 10 AM and you may call in with questions at: 866 733-6786  or email the Forum program: forum@kqed.org

 

 

 

 

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)

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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.