Could Department of Livable Streets fix SF parking and traffic?

By Matier & Ross  : sfchronicle – excerpt

With the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency’s parking and traffic management becoming a bigger political issue, plans are being revved up for a City Charter amendment that would hand those jobs to a new Department of Livable Streets.

The MTA board would still hear all parking and traffic matters, but the Board of Supervisors would have the final say over parking rules, stop signs and the like.

“The buck stops with the Board of Supervisors,” said Supervisor Ahsha Safaí, one of the initiative’s sponsors. “I don’t want to be held accountable for something I have absolutely no control over.”..

Safaí cited his frustration over the MTA’s decision to reject a two-year effort by his Excelsior constituents to get a four-way stop sign at the corner of Avalon Avenue and Edinburgh Street — where a pedestrian was later killed.

Supervisor Aaron Peskin, who is co-sponsoring the ballot move, said the final straw for him was hearing that Mayor Ed Lee, with support from the MTA, was negotiating with ride-hailing giants to turn parking spaces into designated pickup stops for Uber and Lyft.

Safaí and Peskin need four more supervisors to sign onto the Charter amendment to get it on the June 5 ballot. They’re confident they’ll get there…(more)

Now we know more details about the proposed SFMTA Charter Amendment and what pushed the supervisors over the edge – lack of response from SFMTA to a citizens’ request, and the privatization of public streets. We have all experienced these problems and been helpless to solve them. The elected Board of Supervisors should be able to get a bit more done to clean up this mess.
If you agree with the plan to put the Charter Amendment on the ballot, let the supervisors and everyone else know. Contacts

RELATED:
Advocates Align to Fight Proposal to Split Muni/SFMTA
The San Francisco Bay Area Planning and Urban Research Association (SPUR), the San Francisco Bicycle Coalition, Walk San Francisco, and the San Francisco Transit Riders have come out hard against a proposal to split Muni, operator of San Francisco’s buses and trains, from the rest of the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency, which also oversees street design, stoplights, signs, and taxi and parking regulations.
The Board of Supervisors will decide whether to put the amendment on the June, 2018, ballot tomorrow/Tuesday, 2 p.m., at its regularly scheduled meeting.

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Why split the SFMTA?

I believe the Supervisors did not appreciate the type of open-ended contract they discovered when they investigated the Van Ness BRT project. I’m not going to describe it here. You can watch the many hearings that have been conducted on the contracts and delays. I’m not going into the financial shenanigans.

Other investigations into major mistakes made on projects such as the ones on Potrero next to the General Hospital lead to questions about communication within the department and SFMTAs dealings with other city agencies. At a public neighborhood meeting we discovered that the Project Manager for Potrero Ave. is also Project Manager for at least one other large project. This leads us to believe that they have bitten off too much to do well and need to put all new project starts on hold while they finish the ones the ones they have going now.

Disputes with the Fire Department and other city agencies involved in emergency operations along with daily transit meltdowns concern people who are responsible for handling a major disaster. How will a gridlocked city handle the next earthquake or other disaster that cuts off power when so much of our lives are electronica now. There is no evacuation plan. The plan is to shelter in place. That doesn’t work under all circumstances.

While you are at it, pay attention to public comments, especially where the bus stop removals and other inconveniences are opposed. Spitting SFMTA (not Muni) has less to do with cars and more to do with providing the service the Muni riders want instead of ignoring them. A business that ignores its customers will not survive long. In this case, the sales tax increase failed because no amount of lies and excuses will convince people they should pay more for less, especially when the salaries are not keeping pace with the tax increases.

The voters much approve the split and restructuring of the SFMTA by ballot.

RELATED:
Supervisors want to split municipal transit agency in two — here’s why

MUNI to split into transit and traffic, again!

By Joe Fitzgerald Rodriguez : sfexaminer – excerpt

Two San Francisco supervisors want to divide Muni’s parent agency into two departments. Concerned with The City’s allegedly mismanaged transit policies, supervisors Aaron Peskin and Ahsha Safai have told stakeholders.

Under the proposal, one agency would handle just Muni, and the other would handle San Francisco’s parking and streets, sources with knowledge of the measure told the San Francisco Examiner…

The proposal would also allow supervisors to make appointments to the SFMTA’s seven-member Board of Directors. Right now, directors are only appointed by the mayor.

Peskin and Safai have approached stakeholders with the ballot measure over the last week, and discussed introducing it as an amendment to The City’s charter at next Tuesday’s Board of Supervisors meeting, according to sources with knowledge of the measure…

I think [Peskin is] having buyer’s remorse about his role in Prop. A,” said Tom Radulovich, executive director of the nonprofit Livable City.

The DPT of old was ideologically committed to moving cars through The City, and transit, walking and cycling always got short changed,” Radulovich said.

But while the SFMTA has tried to focus more on transit and the creation of bike lanes over vehicle traffic, Radulovich feels those efforts are lackluster. He said another major reason the SFMTA was created was to free it from political influence; supervisors would sometimes stop transportation changes that would benefit thousands for the sake of one angry constituent.

But the politicians still throw monkey wrenches into modern-day SFMTA operations, Radulovich said.

The reforms just allow that to happen “behind the scenes,” Radulovich said...(more)

The City is reeling from the disruptions on our streets. We need to shed light into the dark corners of the SFMTA and dissect the billion dollar budget that they have controlled while creating a traffic nightmare. Radulovich is right about the backroom dealings. The fact that the SFMTA Board members have no private emails to communicate directly with the public they are supposed to serve should alarm voters. Who are the gatekeepers who determine what the Board sees and when they see it? Who benefits from the removal of bus seats and stops when the Muni riders overwhelmingly oppose them?

Perfect timing! A change in priorities and policies is needed now. Peskin and Safai are coming through with a brilliant move at the right time. An initiative aimed at changing the power structure of SFMTA would force the candidates for supervisor to take a position showing their true colors, making it easier for voters to determine who to support in those important races.

Top Down Government is losing public support. If the voters approve the move to alter the power structure of SFMTA, making it more accountable to the public, they will send a warning to other government entities that there is a popular revolt against government overreach.

L-Taraval: SFMTA Seeks To Remove Parking, Add Boarding Islands

by Fiona Lee : hoodline – excerpt

With the recent release of the final results of a six-month boarding zone pilot, SFMTA hopes to add boarding islands and remove multiple stops to make the L-Taraval corridor safer for pedestrians and passengers.

The boarding zone pilot took place over a six month period at inbound stops at 26th, 30th, 32nd, 35th and 40th avenues and included improved signage, flashing lights and painted lane markings to alert drivers…(more)

As you can imagine the removal of these stops is not popular with Muni riders on the L-Taraval. They will show up and are asking for support from other Muni riders and people who oppose bus stop removal at the SFMAT Board Meeting on December 5th. Please see this letter from Paula of Save Our L Taraval Stops!

It all comes down to longer walks to the Muni or longer rides on the bus. Who gets to decide? The riding public or the SFMTA? Next time you get to vote on SFMTA’s continued control over Muni, remember they took away your Muni seats and stops and that is why you are walking longer and standing on the bus.

Get more details on how your can help:
https://savesfmuni.wordpress.com/2017/11/30/l-taraval-sfmta-seeks-to-remove-parking-add-boarding-islands/

SF politicians, bicyclists and others gear up for bike lane changes

By Joe Eskenazi : missionlocal – excerpt

Supervisor Hillary Ronen is living in fear.

Her husband takes their young daughter to school nearly every day on the back of his bicycle and, nearly every day, she’s haunted by mental imagery of the two of them being doored or sideswiped or otherwise coming to grief on Valencia Street. San Francisco’s major cycling artery is also ground zero for Uber and Lyft drop-offs and pick-ups, a mixture about as combustible and ominous as locating a match factory next to the lighter fluid depot.

These are the sorts of things that wander into Ronen’s mind during endless public comment sessions in Board of Supervisors meetings.

Valencia Street forms the border between Ronen’s District 9 and Supervisor Jeff Sheehy’s District 8. Sheehy — who worked as a bike messenger when he arrived in this city in 1988 to underwrite food, beer and $300-a-month rent — recently donned an aggressively yellow shirt and served as a human protected bike lane

Installing  protected bike lanes of the sort everyone professes to want on Valencia is going to require overcoming two sorts of obstacles: logistical and political. It’s not clear which will be more difficult… (more)

Valencia is a disaster for everyone. The street is not safe after dark. Expensive restaurants are car magnets and they need regular delivery services. Not a good recipe for a bikers’ paradise. I avoid it but if there are limited turns on the street, how will the drivers get to the side streets?

If cyclists don’t feel safe with cars, maybe City Hall needs to rethink the bike path program and separate bikes from the cars by taking them off the major arterial streets and putting them on the slower side streets. Allow the traffic to flow, free up public parking and give the bikes their own routes. At least try it on some streets and see if the friction goes away.

Motor vehicles get the major streets, bikes get the minor ones, and pedestrians get the sidewalks. It doesn’t hurt to try a separation in some areas to see if the war between the modes does not calm down before things get really ugly. Use the money to fix the potholes and improve Muni service instead of painting the streets.

SF pivots: Costly, time-consuming Muni fix is now being done free

By Joe Eskenazi : missionlocal – excerpt

Shift astounds city supervisor: “They don’t know what the fuck is going on with their buses.”


In August, Mission Local broke the story that Muni’s New Flyer diesel-electric hybrid buses, which come with a nearly $750,000-a-pop price tag justified by their environmental bona fides, did not have a rudimentary pollution control device installed on them. These buses, Muni yard workers were dismayed to discover, were not programmed to automatically shut down after five minutes of idling, the length of time allowed by state law. Instead, they could idle indefinitely, until they ran out of fuel.

On Monday, we reported that media exposure and scrutiny by city government appears to have changed Muni’s tune. Warning stickers noting that idling a bus for more than five minutes is illegal are going up in every diesel or hybrid coach. And, in an October closed-door meeting with Supervisor Aaron Peskin and his staff, Muni transit director John Haley pledged that all of Muni’s problematic buses would be upgraded. He said this would take time, however — perhaps well into next year — and cost an estimated $1,200 a vehicle. That would put the bill for bringing the buses into compliance at several hundred thousand dollars…

This week, we learned that Muni has already begun to update the problematic buses, via WiFi technology, and is doing so for free

Reached for comment, Peskin was displeased that “bullshit numbers” had been fed to his office by Muni management, which he decried as “incompetent.”

“Sounds like they don’t know what the fuck is going on with their buses,” he continued. “It does not instill confidence that they don’t know the capabilities of their shiny new product.”… (more)

Chariot commuter van service temporarily halted in San Francisco

By : bizjournal – excerpt

UPDATE FRIDAY: Chariot said it’s commuter service in the Bay Area wasn’t operating on Friday morning as it awaits approval from a California Highway Patrol review board to resume operations. The transportation startup said it would notify customers via its app and through text emails when rides start, which it indicated may be soon...

Chariot said a California Highway Patrol inspection had found some compliance problems but that it would be resolved soon.

“We are committed to always providing our riders with safe and reliable service, and we comply with regulatory orders even when we disagree with them,” Chariot said in its text…

Chariot is the only private transit vehicle operator company in San Francisco and will have to bear the majority of costs for the permit program. The agency said it was not the cause of any temporary shutdown of Chariot on Thursday.

Over the last two years, SFMTA received 62 complaints about Chariot, including that its vehicles stop in Muni bus stops, double park, block driveways and idle in streets….(more)

 

Transit New regulations for jitneys leave ban on Muni competition in flux

By Joe Fitgerald Rodriguez : sfexaminer – excerpt

San Francisco transportation officials approved The City’s first-ever regulations for jitneys Tuesday.

The regulations will require private transit to provide wheelchair accessible vehicles and to submit operating data to the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency, among other new rules.

A controversial ban on allowing private transit routes to mirror Muni routes is still in flux, however, and SFMTA staff said the provision to curtail duplicate service needs more work behind the scenes.

The SFMTA Board of Directors approved the regulations Tuesday after a heated discussion, and asked staff to come back to the board with its final proposal to ban competition with Muni…(more)

What do routes have to do with competition when the whole point of the service is “on-demand” pick-up and drop off. There is no competition since Muni doesn’t offer that service. The routes a vehicle travels on between the pickup and drop off spots is irrelevant to the beginning and ending points, and probably has more to do with traffic flow than anything else.

Regulate Chariot, charge fair-market value for use of government property

Op-ed by Susan Vaughan : sfexaminer – excerpt

Photos by zrants

The San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency is an vital organization in The City’s efforts to combat climate change and income inequality. In its 2016 Annual Report, the SFMTA announced a 10 percent increase in service, daily ridership of 725,000 and one-year reductions of nearly 45 percent in carbon emissions…

In recent years, private, for-profit carriers that The City doesn’t regulate or regulates loosely, and that exclude many categories of riders, have proliferated on local streets: the technology shuttle buses, aka “Google” buses; transportation network companies (TNCs), such as Uber and Lyft, regulated by the California Public Utilities Commission; and now private transportation vehicles (PTVs)…

This is legal. In fact, in 2012 and 2013, local cab drivers sued the SFMTA over the cost of medallions (permits to operate taxis) arguing that the medallion fee — $250,000 — was an illegal tax. A legal brief, signed by City Attorney Dennis Herrera and Deputy City Attorney Wade Snodgrass, made the winning argument that the medallion “grants its holder the ‘special privilege’ of ‘us[ing] … public streets for private enterprise.” Elsewhere, they wrote: “California law … [authorizes] local government entities to allow the private use of public property, and to sell or lease public property, at market rates … in order to protect the public fisc.” In fact, in 2010 town hall meetings, the proposed medallion fee was identified as a source of revenue to support the SFMTA. But those medallion fees have dropped into negative numbers because of the competition from TNCs… (more)

The Board of Directors must include fair-market charges for every PTV — and shuttle bus — for “[t]he right to use streets as a place of business for private gain.”

Susan Vaughan is a local transportation advocate... (more)

How is Chariot different from Tech buses and hospital shuttles? Why are we dealing with so many different attitudes toward the same thing? Should not all these “private” transportation systems that transport the public be “regulated” is equals? The SFMTA should not be in the business of regulating private vehicles. They should stick to doing the one thing they can barely do. They should fill the holes in the road they dug up and they should manage the Muni. If the Muni were properly managed it would BE the choice of most people.

What does the director of the agency do with this time? He sits on many boards and does a lot of back slapping and self-congratulatory speeches, claiming he runs the best transit system in the world, while San Francisco traffic and businesses are being run into the ground by a construction nightmare of his own making.

City Hall is anticipating offering small sums of cash grants and low-interest loans to prop up the failing businesses long enough to get through the various hopelessly behind schedule construction projects, many neighborhoods opposed to begin with. Maybe we need to let the director go and work on his private projects and hire a new focused one who can get the jobs done effectively, ONE AT A TIME instead of 29 at a time.

If all the street construction projects went away tomorrow no one would care about the Chariots, tech buses, Muni, delivery trucks or taxis. The street constructions are creating the headaches for everyone and sucking up the Muni money. Kill the projects and you can have a free Muni.

 

Political muscle and dealmaking got Prop. E passed

By Paul Kozakiewicz : richmondreview and sunsetbeacon – excerpt

Political muscle and deal-making got Proposition E passed, which created the SF Municipal Transportation Agency (SFMTA). The proposition was on the November, 1999 ballot.

According to an article in the SF Examiner, SF Mayor Willie Brown worked hard during a re-election year to muster support for Proposition E. The work paid off. The SF Board of Supervisors voted 10-1 to put the measure on the ballot. Supporting the plan was a combination of progressive and moderate supervisors: Tom Amman, Alica Becerril, Amos Brown, Leslie Katz, Barbara Kaufman, Mark Leno, Gavin Newsom, Mabel Teng, Michael Yaki and Leland Yee. Only supervisor Sue Bierman voted against the plan.

In the ballot pamphlet supporting their position, the 10 supervisors said, “Proposition E will make Muni much more accountable for service delivered. It will take strong steps to reduce traffic by finally making transit a real alternative to the automobile, and it will ensure Muni is fully funded to meet the City’s transit needs for years to come.” None of those goals have come to pass…

If political muscle can create it political muscle can kill it. Make sure you grill all the supervisor candidates on how they plan to take back public control of the agency and then hold them to their promise.

Proposition E is a SF Charter revision, which means it is a part of the City’s guiding document and can’t be changed without a vote of the people. It had the support of many of the city’s political leaders, including SF Mayor Willie Brown, state Sen. John Burton, Congresswoman Nancy Pelosi, Assemblyman Kevin Shelley and the Democratic and Republican parties. They all called for improving bus service in the City, but they gave up control over the agency responsible for performing the task, changed the city’s Transit First Policy to be hostile to private vehicles, and created a super-organization responsible for thousands of employees – without supervision from any elected officials. No one is held accountable at the SFMTA…

Prop. E also gave the SFMTA the power to tax, which it tried to do in the November 2016 election by requesting a half-cent sales tax increase for transit projects that the agency refused to spell out. Trust us. Just give us the money, the SFMTA said. The voters, in their wisdom, said “no!”  Prop. E was passed by San Francisco voters on Nov. 2, 1999, by a 61- 39 percent vote… (more).

I you want an excuse for owning a car, you need to look not further than the fires in the north to see why a car is you best refuge in a disaster. All these thousands of people in shelters got there by private vehicle. The public transportation system is the first to close down during a crisis event that requires mass evacuations, and who wants to carry you life in a backpack? In the event of an emergency, your vehicle is your emergency vehicles and possibly your home for a while.

RELATED:
Transportation Madness

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