S.F. Muni Embarks on a Big Expansion in Bus and Light-Rail Service

By Ted Goldberg : KQED – excerpt

San Francisco’s Muni is launching a major expansion in bus and Metro light-rail service this weekend that officials say is a response to both the city’s increasing population and changes in how people work and play here.

San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency officials say more frequent service will start Saturday on Muni’s six light-rail lines as well as on 14 bus routes. The agency is expanding service hours on eight bus lines and creating connections to BART on two other routes. It’s also adding overnight “owl” service on two lines.

Saturday will mark the fourth and largest service increase that’s part of what the agency calls Muni Forward, a project that began in January 2015.

But the real expansion will be seen on Monday, the first weekday in the new schedule, said John Haley, Muni’s director of transit.

“We will have more service out on the streets than we’ve ever had in the history of the agency,” Haley said in an interview. “We’re responding to a need when people are living and working differently than they were 20 years ago.”

With an influx of new riders stemming from San Francisco’s recent boom, SFMTA is responding to new commute patterns.

“We’re no longer all going downtown,” Haley said. “The demographics, the job market in the city is changing.”… (more)

 

Battle of the blueprints: Should I-280 stay or should it go?

By : sfexaminer – excerpt

Some San Francisco residents are roaring over a study to explore tearing down a portion Interstate Highway 280 in Mission Bay, which could clear the way for a Caltrain extension downtown.

But two sets of blueprints obtained by the San Francisco Examiner paint contrasting futures of I-280, including an effort to put the brakes on the proposal decades ago.

One set of blueprints, drawn in 1969, planners say shows evidence that to build a new Caltrain extension, I-280 must come down — no questions asked.

The other set of plans, two decades old, purportedly shows a road not taken — how the Caltrain extension could be built without the need to tear down I-280.

Meanwhile, the latter idea is gaining support. After a packed public meeting last month when local residents of Potrero Hill and The City’s southeast booed and hissed over the proposal, political heavyweight John Burton, the state’s democratic party chair and a former congressman, joined a chorus of voices denouncing the plan.

“Well, I think it’s stupid,” he told the Examiner of the possibility of tearing down I-280. “It’ll clog up Potrero.”

He’s not alone. Former Mayor Art Agnos previously told the Examiner he would personally launch a campaign against the I-280 teardown if it were pursued.

Planners are now preparing for another meeting on March 30 to discuss the possibility of tearing down the freeway, which they argue will “open up” Mission Bay to the community.

Plan 1: Narrow Freeway Must Come Down

Blueprints of I-280 drawn in the 1960s by the Department of Public Works show one glaring issue, planners argue:

I-280 is too narrow to bore a tunnel underneath…

Plan 2: Tunnel a Walkway

When told I-280 must come down, a retired Bay Area engineer had essentially one reply: Nope.

Gerald Cauthen is a retired engineer from consultants Parsons Brinckerhoff Quade & Douglas, Inc., based in San Francisco. While most retirees keep knick knacks from the office, like a favorite paperweight, Cauthen kept blueprints.

Lots of blueprints.

BLUEPRINTPREVIEW.jpg

Among them are a set of drawings labeled with the Muni “worm” logo, titled “Phase 1 Design Conceptual Engineering Drawing,” which was last redrawn Nov. 5, 1993.

Cauthen says these plans show another solution to extending Caltrain downtown.

The plans show Caltrain tracks to the Downtown Extension depressed only five feet below the surface, instead of tunneling underground.

To join Mission Bay with the rest of The City, the blueprints feature a construction nowhere else in San Francisco — an underground roadway, and accompanying pedestrian passage.

It’s far better, Cauthen said, than tearing down I-280 and turning the freeway into a boulevard…

Blueprints #1: Shows the narrowness of I-280, which planners argue mean the freeway must come down to tunnel. (Click here to view).

Blueprints #2: Shows unused plans for underground roadway/walkway. (Click here to view).

Gerald280Drawings

Phase I Design Conceptual Engineering Drawings

Ed Reiskin, director of transportation at the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency, said that plan doesn’t pan out.

“Forcing us to create depressed canyons to connect Mission Bay to the rest of The City would be problematic from a land use and transportation standpoint,” Reiskin said on KALW radio, in mid-March…(more)

Muni’s brand new buses struggle with SF’s hills, test results show

By : sfweekly – excerpt

Buses the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency recently bought from New Flyer Industries Inc. are not meant to tackle hills with a grade higher than 10 percent.

San Francisco is on a bus-buying spree. In the name of shoring up service, Mayor Ed Lee has invested nearly $26 million in purchasing new Muni buses since last year.

There is, however, a bump in the road: Some of Muni’s newest buses appear to struggle up San Francisco’s hills.

While the buses aren’t exactly rolling back down The City’s slopes, underpowered buses slow down Muni’s system, operators tell the San Francisco Examiner.

The San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency tested its newest buses last November before letting rubber hit the cement, but the results of those tests — obtained by the Examiner — show Muni’s
new 60-foot electric buses don’t meet the agency’s own acceleration requirements for even moderately steep hills.

SFMTA officials told the Examiner they knew the buses couldn’t handle grades above 10 percent, so the agency would run them only on The City’s flatter routes.

Among the steepest routes in the Muni system are the 1-California and the 22-Fillmore. One portion of Fillmore is graded at over 18 percent, according to topographical maps.

Hills that steep will be off limits to the new buses.

The tests show, however, that the buses struggled even on the more modest hills — those measured in grades of 5 to 10 percent… (more)

We are a little too flabbergasted by the report. One wonders who is benefiting from this contract deal that has delivered slower buses on the hills, while the SFMTA is spending millions of tax-payer dollars destroying our streets to supposedly speed the buses up and save them seconds or minutes on each trip. WHO IS BENEFITING?

Suggest you read the entire document yourself, (see all the charts and graphs) and either write to the editor or author at the SFExaminer. Since there are no comments on the source site, comments are welcome here!

Continue reading

On the rail:

By Matier and Ross : sfchronicle – excerpt

Forces are massing on both sides of Mayor Ed Lee’s study into tearing down the stub end of Interstate 280 and rerouting Caltrain through Mission Bay, with a coalition of civic and transportation activists gearing up to fight the effort.

The mayor’s office is looking into several underground routes through which high-speed trains would eventually travel downtown, including some that would mean tearing down I-280 at Mariposa Street and replacing it with a street-level boulevard.

One route calls for underground tracks and a rail station between the Warriors’ planned Mission Bay arena and AT&T Park.

But the newly formed Coalition to Complete the Downtown Caltrain Extension says any alternative to the current plan for a rail tunnel from Fourth and King streets to the new downtown Transbay Transit Center would be “ill-conceived.”

“This is the most important regional transit project in the Bay Area that has been environmentally cleared and locally, regionally and federally approved,” said coalition spokesman Bob Feinbaum. The group’s members include Save Muni, the Sierra Club, San Francisco Tomorrow and the Mission Bay Alliance, the group opposing the Warriors’ planned arena.

“This project is ready to go, and we are calling for no more delays,” Feinbaum said.

Changing the planned route would probably cost billions of dollars, but Lee figures the payoff of a new neighborhood on land now taken up by the freeway and the rail yard near Fourth and King would be just as big.

The bell rings on round one Tuesday at 6 p.m., when city representatives are scheduled to update the public on their plans at the Potrero Hill Recreation Center… (more)

RELATED:
Rail Capacity Strategy.

Rail%20Capacity%20map-3_0

Long-term rail proposals will require more complex funding plans. These investments would not be cheap. They’re projected to total $17 billion over 30 years. (The near-term investments are being considered for funding as part of the next five-year Capital Improvement Program for fiscal 2017 through fiscal 2021.)

This idea that 95% of the city needs to be connected by rail is absurd and would be prohibitively expensive. Where does this come from?

 

Muni fare hikes, service increases touted in 2017 budget

By sfexaminer – excerpt

SFMTA staff also proposed charging more for use of “express” lines, like the 38BX or 30X, which ferry workers downtown with fewer bus stops. Charging $1 more for express lines could garner $5 million annually for the agency…

This is the best so far. This one really makes me laugh. After forcing “faster” express lines on Muni riders by cutting out bus stops, in opposition to many, and spending a fortune to do it, SFMTA is now floating the idea of CHARGING YOU FOR USING THE SERVICE THEY FORCED ON YOU.! Say it isn’t so. Please don’t let them get away with this!

The San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency is now floating ideas for its $1 billion budget.

The agency must decide the fate of Muni lines, street engineering, bike lanes and more for 2017–18, all hinging on the budget priorities from the SFMTA Board of Directors.

On Tuesday afternoon, the board heard the first presentation from SFMTA staff on the budget. Proposals ranged from boosting bus and train service, to increasing fares and fees.

“We have very modest shortfalls on a billion-dollar budget,” SFMTA Director of Transportation Ed Reiskin said to the board.

Reiskin cited rising pension costs and a higher-than-usual contribution to Caltrain’s budget as reasons for an anticipated $13.6 million budget shortfall in 2017.

Much was on the table to correct that shortfall…

No action was taken on the budget, and the SFMTA is seeking public comment on its proposals. The board is expected to vote on budget priorities in April…(more)

Arriving soon: Higher Muni fares

By Jerold Chinn : sfbay – excerpt

Muni fares may soon be on the rise under a preliminary budget from San Francisco’s transportation agency.

The Municipal Transportation Agency’s Board of Directors continued budget talks at their Tuesday board meeting, which included increasing Muni fares for everyone as well as higher parking and permit fees over the next two years.

Under the transit agency’s automatic fare indexing, an adult single-ride cash fare would rise from $2.25 to $2.50 and discount cash fares for youth, seniors and disabled riders would increase from $1 to $1.25.

Monthly adult Muni Fast Passes with BART access would jump from $83 to $86 in 2017, and increase again to $89 in 2018. An adult Muni-only Fast Pass would cost $75 by 2018.

The potential fare increases loom as the transit agency faces a $13.5 million shortfall in 2017, and $14.3 million shortfall in 2018…

The SFMTA is considering charging an extra 25 cents to riders who choose to pay cash instead of Clipper. It would generate close to $4 million in revenue each year.

A 2014 SFMTA survey showed that 25 percent of riders making $15,000 or less paid their fares with cash. SFMTA Board Director Cheryl Brinkman had concerns over the data presented:…(more)

Hope everyone appreciates the efforts SFMTA is making to cut your service, pour more concrete and enhance your streets with paint, because they plan to charge you more for the privilege of using Muni to pay for all that “beautification” and “faster service” they re promising.

We think charging for paying with cash instead of the card is really going a bit far, but, it is up to the Muni riders to dispute that one.

SFMTA to consider changes to ‘Google bus’ program

By : sfexaminer – excerpt

Protesters block two buses, transporting workers to Facebook and Yahoo in Silicon Valley, at the corner of Valencia and 24th streets on Tuesday.

The future of the “Google bus” program may no longer include the use of Muni stops — instead pointing the commuter shuttles toward hubs in the downtown area and elsewhere, according to legislation introduced Tuesday at the Board of Supervisors.

After two weeks of negotiations, seven supervisors supported a resolution calling on the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency Board of Directors to approve the commuter shuttle program for one year, with key provisions resulting from a tentative deal reached during talks this week between stakeholders.

The provisions would set the stage for modifying the program, possibly within six months.

Among the provisions is the analysis of disallowing commuter shuttles to use Muni bus stops citywide. Instead, the shuttles would use hubs, such as parking lots in the South of Market Area, and commuters could take public transit to those hubs. Another provision would require a review of the program within six months.

The transit agency is expected to take up the issue on Feb. 16, according to SFMTA spokesman Paul Rose. “We look forward to working with both boards, the community and other stakeholders to finalize an effective and responsible commuter shuttle plan,” Rose said.

If the brokered deal is ultimately agreed upon, the environmental appeal filed by SEIU 1021, a labor union with 6,000 members, would be dismissed by the Board of Supervisors on Feb. 23. The appeal has forced the negotiation.

A formal commitment from those involved in the negotiations — including technology companies Apple, Google, Facebook and Genentech, as well as the Bay Area Council — remains outstanding on some aspects and talks are expected to continue.

Those supporting the resolution included board President London Breed, along with supervisors David Campos, Jane Kim, Norman Yee, Aaron Peskin, John Avalos and Eric Mar… (more)

 

 

New plan for M-Ocean View subway line unveiled

By : sfexaminer – excerpt

By moving the M-Ocean View subway line underground, Muni hopes to avoid delays and decrease travel times.

Nearly 45 years ago, Muni trains boldly went where no San Francisco train had gone before: underground.

That underground network travels underneath Market Street and Twin Peaks. But there it stops.

Trains west of those hills unearth at West Portal Station, mixing with cars, pedestrians and more. Planners say that slows the subway systemwide.

“I think we built half a rapid transit system,” Liz Brisson, told the San Francisco Examiner, “now we need to build the other half.”…

The train would remain underground through the rest of its route to Parkmerced.

The previous plan ran the train underground mainly underneath 19th Avenue, but not at West Portal or at the line’s end by Parkmerced.

“This is a dramatic increase in the scope of the project,” Brisson said.

It’s also a dramatic increase in cost. The project is estimated to run $2.5 billion to $3 billion. The last time San Francisco ventured to build a new train tunnel of this magnitude was the Central Subway, the hotly contested linkage between Union Square and Chinatown…

That future may be far off. Right now, the project is in the “pre-environmental study” phase, according to the SFMTA…(more)

New poll shows strong support for raising ‘Google Bus’ city fees

By : sfexaminer – excerpt

The second legal challenge to the program regulating “Google Buses” – formally known as commuter shuttles – is heading to the Board of Supervisors next week.

Anticipating this public debate, the Bay Area Council released a glowing public poll Wednesday morning, showing strong public support for these private shuttles.

“The Bay Area Council has seen shuttles as a very positive development on the transportation scene,” said Adrian Covert, policy director at the council, whose members include many local businesses.

In an interview, the council noted the benefits of taking as many as 60 cars off the road per shuttle bus.

“You can bet getting two million car trips off the road every year is going to have an important environmental benefit,” said Rufus Jeffris, a spokesman for the council.

But the poll of likely voters also shows the public strongly backs raising fees on the commuter shuttles – a point of contention from critics of the Commuter Shuttle Program, the formal name of the regulations of private corporate shuttles in San Francisco…

Critics filed a legal environmental challenge of the permanent shuttle program, which the Board of Supervisors will weigh in on next week. The Coalition for Fair, Legal and Environmental Transit, SEIU Local 1021, and citizens Sue Vaughan and Bob Planthold filed the challenge through their attorney, Rebecca Davis…  (more)