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.

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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

SF awards $3.2M in contracts to company connected to alleged bid-rigging, federal indictment

By : sfexaminer – excerpt

 

The City has awarded a new transportation contract to a company connected with a federal indictment and alleged bid-rigging scheme, the San Francisco Examiner has learned…

temporarily suspend contracts awarded to those under investigation, including federal indictment.

“If people have already been criminally charged with rigging the system,” Bush said, “they should not be let back in that system until they’re cleared.”

SEE RELATED: Defendants accused of bid rigging plead not guilty in SF federal court.

Butler’s indictment stems from the infamous Raymond “Shrimp Boy” Chow case, in which the FBI investigated politicians and contractors… (more)

Lots to talk about here but look at the contract. The contract is by the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency to the Butler Enterprise Group for public outreach. Isn’t the lack of public notice (or outreach), the one thing everyone complains about at SFMTA Board and Board of Supervisors meetings?

It appears we are being screwed by known political wonks with alleged criminal connections claiming to keep us informed, while failing miserably to do so. Take this information with you next time you go to the SFMTA Board Meeting to complain about the lack of notice regarding the latest abuse of power by the SFMTA.

And if you don’t like what they are doing with your money, vote to reverse, remove, or cut the powers of the SFMTA next time you get a chance. You might even want to vote against the next round of taxes proposed for the SFMTA

Bikes Sharing Companies Compete for Bay Area Market

Host Scott Shafer : kqed – excerpt (audio track included)
Dan Brekke, editor and reporter, KQED News
Emily Stapleton, general manager, Ford GoBike

Ford GoBikes popping up all over photos by zrants

This is a corporate takeover of our streets.
Can you call the public/private corporate exclusionary deal MTC, Ford and Motivate have cooked up “competition” or fair business practices? Now the cyclists are threatening to boycott merchants who object to Ford bikes.
Time to fire back with boycotts of our own. Sign the petition to stop the Bikes in the Mission.

People voiced opposition and demanded removal of the GoBikes at the SFMTA Board meeting.  Board member Art Torres said “I think this is unacceptable… I’m glad you folks told us about this. This isn’t just going away.” He’s got that right.

If it seems like the Bay Area suddenly has a plethora of bike sharing options, it’s because it does. Several companies such as Ford GoBike, LimeBike and Spin are each looking to make a mark in the region’s bike-friendly culture. Ford GoBike, which utilizes docking stations where bikes are parked between uses, plans to expand its existing 700-bike program to 7000 bikes. Other cities like South San Francisco and Mountain View have made deals with stationless bike sharing companies, which allow riders more flexibility but risk bikes being left in random spots.

Both types of companies have faced pushback: In San Francisco’s Mission District, the neighborhood council banned a GoBike station from 24th Street and bikes have been vandalized throughout the Bay Area. San Francisco, which like other cities has a controversial exclusivity contract with GoBike, has yet to approve permit requests for several stationless bike share companies. In this segment we’ll take a look at how the bike share turf wars are helping and hurting the Bay Area…(more)

Corporate Connections:Metropolitan Transportation Commission (MTC) is a 9-county regional organization of unelected officials that manages state and federal funds and grants, including taxes for large public transit projects.  Motivate is a NY based corporation that operates bike shares on a national scale. Ford GoBike is the Bay Area bike share division of Motivate. Motivate contracts with the city of San Francisco under a controversial deal put together by the SFMTA.

Ford GoBike Financial arrangements: According to the information here, MTC has a partnership agreement with Motivate. MTC subsidizes bike share and most other public transportation systems. YOUR TAX DOLLARS AT WORK! In this case, Ford is a patron of the GoBike program, to the tune of $49 million dollars over the next ten years. IF FORD DOES NOT SUPPORT YOU, YOU MAY NOT WANT TO SUPPORT FORD. This means that GoBike can expand whether or not people rent the bikes.

Ford GoBike Expansion Plans: GoBike plans to have 540 stations in San Francisco by the end of 2018. By their count, this would remove 1620 parking spots, many in residential neighborhoods. They expect to be the 2nd largest market in the country. Who is benefiting from this? How will this effect the Residential Parking Permit program?

Unfair Businesses Practices: How can a private/public partnership subsidized by public taxes and a corporate patron compete fairly with private bike owners and businesses associated with bike businesses and rentals that do not enjoy any subsidies? SFMTA is not approving any stationless bike rentals yet. Do they feel threatened by that model?

Regulatory Practices: How can the SFMTA fairly regulate their competition? How widespread is the competition?

Public criticism: Many residents claim they had no notice before the stations popped up and there has been a lot of pushback and vandalism. GoBike officials claim they are prepared to handle this and since city policies override voters and taxpayers wishes they do not appear to care. With our money backing them, they don’t need to. THINK ABOUT THIS NEXT TIME YOU ARE ASKED TO SUPPORT MORE TAXES FOR PUBLIC TRANSPORTATION. Let Ford pay instead.

RELATED:
Bicyclists Boycott Bernal Businesses Seeking Removal Of Bike-Sharing Stations
Last week, the Examiner reported that the MIssion-Bernal Merchants Association (MBMA) asked the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency to immediately remove a new Ford GoBike station installed in front of the UPS Store at 60 29th Street between Tiffany and Mission… (more)

 

Exclusive: Key pollution control program is disabled in SF Muni’s newest, costliest, ‘greenest’ hybrid buses

By Joe Eskenizi : missionlocal – excerpt

Broken down electric bus outside of bus barn on 16th at Folsom stopped traffic including other Munis for hours – photo by zrants

In 1987, the Board of Supervisors passed legislation urging Muni “to take certain steps to minimize air pollutant emissions,” and get workers trained “in the latest emissions reduction techniques.”

Fine words. But, in 1996, representatives from the San Francisco budget analyst’s office staked out bus yards in the wee hours, and observed Muni employees idling diesel coaches for up to four-and-a-half hours; “Pollution Menace at Muni, Audit Finds,” screamed the eventual front-page headline in the San Francisco Examiner.  That story revealed the city analysts’ grim tabulation of Muni’s dirty habit: Those idling buses needlessly discharged the equivalent amount of pollutants as 56,000 cars—every single day.

In 2013, your humble narrator staggered up to a Muni yard at 4 a.m. and documented that it was all still happening. The first rays of sunlight revealed an oily haze enveloping the yard—the byproduct of scores of buses idling for hours on end.

Idling a bus for more than five or 10 minutes, by the way, is not only wasteful and unnecessary, but is also a violation of state law

Idling buses for hours—damaging their engines, wasting money and fuel, and polluting the environment—has been a problem at Muni for decades. And, a few months ago, the phone calls started coming in: It’s still happening…

Muni has long idled its buses indefinitely, and, barring decisive action, will continue to do so indefinitely. It does so despite the explicit instructions of the manufacturer of its diesel engines, and against the recommendation of every vehicle manufacturer on God’s green earth. It does so in the face of economic, mechanical, and environmental rationales and in violation of common sense and common decency.

That may yet change. But, for now, it remains to be seen what, if anything, will inspire Muni to throw idling under the bus… (more)

Ambulance stuck in traffic at SF General Hospital

Who’s safety are we concerned about?

Shot at 12:30pm Saturday, June 16th, 2017, from my front steps, west side of Potrero, one house south of 21st, ambulance forced to use SFGH’s 21st Street driveway, same driveway that wheelchair-bound patients enter:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qLbkUgL8Sec

Please share this video of the Ambulance stuck in traffic at General Hospital and if you can, shoot some of your own and send them to me.
It has come to our attention that the SFMTA did not “share” details of their plans to slow traffic by building traffic barriers around General Hospital.
SFMTA Board intends to “fix” an error they admitted to making at their Tuesday meeting. We are calling for a Continuance to alert the public and any other pertinent groups to this plan. As you can see from the video, this is not the place to slow traffic or remove traffic lanes.

At night and in the rain the lane changes and curvy streets are difficult to see or navigate. This car missed the median and probably stopped traffic for a while on Mother’s Day. Judging from the shadows this occurred late in the day around sunset when the sun can blind drivers, creating the most dangerous driving conditions shown in more videos below.

Car that hit hit median. photo by a neighbor

What is the long-term plan for getting ambulances into SF General?

Shot at 12:30pm Saturday, June 16th, 2017, from my front steps, west side of Potrero, one house south of 21st, ambulance forced to use SFGH’s 21st Street driveway, same driveway that wheelchair-bound patients enter:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qLbkUgL8Sec

if you can write a letter or comment requesting a continuance at the Board Meeting! Sample letter with recipients:  https://discoveryink.wordpress.com/letters-and-comments/potrero-avenue-plans/

If you can, please send us any video or pictures along with your explanation of emergency vehicles stuck in traffic.

FewerPotholes repair effort kicks off in the Richmond District

Sarah B. : richmondsfblog – excerpt

Have more potholes to report? Be sure to use 311 to let the city know. You can call 311 or use their handy mobile app which lets you mark the location accurately and even upload a photo. Photo by zrants.

Last month, we asked you all to submit reports of your peskiest potholes in the neighborhood as part of the #FewerPotholes campaign. The project was created by District 1 Supervisor Sandra Fewer who convinced DPW to commit a dedicated crew to the Richmond District to repair potholes reported by residents…

The #FewerPotholes repair effort kicked off last Friday with Mayor Ed Lee, Supervisor Fewer and Public Works Deputy Director Larry Stringer donning hard hats and picking up shovels to fill in the first pothole on 27th Avenue between Geary and Clement…

“I’ve heard for months that the state of our roads and the number of potholes were of concern to residents in my neighborhood,” said Supervisor Fewer…(more)

RELATED:
Motorcyclie Mama : Even if you don’t live in the Richmond District, you can still ask the DPW to take action: According to their website, people who report potholes via 311 can expect them to “repair any pothole that is our responsibility within 48 hours during week days.” So go ahead, report those potholes, and let us know how it goes!

Report but don’t hold your breath. I filed a report with photos of the ones on Carolina at least 3 months ago, and that street is still a mess.

 

 

Twin Peaks Tunnel repair back off track

By : sfexaminer – excerpt

Muni’s confused staff is confusing everyone with their signs. They need to get out of the construction business and get back to running Muni services for the people who need it or hand it over to someone who knows how to run it. photo by zrants.

For riders taking the 80,000 daily trips on three of Muni’s light-rail vehicle lines, slow-moving trains and delays are a way of life.

Now, work planned to repair the Twin Peaks Tunnel — which would lessen those Muni slowdowns — is itself delayed, the San Francisco Examiner has learned.

The delay will also cause other Muni construction projects to start later than planned, as these projects are often timed in sequence…

The San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency has terminated its $32 million contract with NTK Construction, Inc., for that repair work, after the agency met “logistical issues” planning tunnel shutdowns that would have necessitated 40,000 riders to take replacement shuttle buses…

Those repairs are needed, staff wrote, to “lift the speed restriction currently in place for trains moving through the tunnel and cut down on unexpected service disruptions.”

For eight years, that restriction was 35 mph, and a year ago became 40 mph, but may jump to 50 mph after repairs, said John Haley, SFMTA’s director of transit…

The SFMTA confirmed another construction project has been rescheduled due to the Twin Peaks Tunnel Replacement Project delay, as work at Junipero Serra Boulevard and 19th Avenue was “supposed to align with the Twin Peaks shutdown for pedestrian improvements, but will have to be rescheduled to perhaps beyond July,” said SFMTA spokesperson Erica Kato.

Multiple projects may ultimately be rescheduled, Kato confirmed(more)

There are no more construction crews left to do maintenance because they are all working on street diets and bus lanes and adding more assets that have no maintenance plans of their own. Some of us saw this coming and tried to steer the SFMTA toward maintenance and away from expanded capital improvements.

Many requests are made for cheap safety improvements like paint on cross walks and added traffic signals. Nobody can suggest anything to the SFMTA. They have an excuse for why they can’t do anything the public requests.

In a recent article in the Ingleside-Excelsior Light, Safai is quoted as saying that he gets requests for adding more crosswalks to the most dangerous streets. Many people have asked for more traffic signals, but, according to the SFMTA these simple relatively inexpensive solutions are held up due to their lack of staff and the fact that they can only add 10 traffic signals a year in the entire city.

These excuses are coming from an agency that has over 50,000 employees and over a billion dollar a year budget. They can’t figure out how to do the small cheap projects that public wants because they spend all their time working on solving perceived problems that may crop up in the future.

Until the voters and taxpayers stop these large projects, or convince the supervisors to quit funding them, we will never get our simple requests for traffic signals and crosswalk markings. SFMTA needs to move some of their high paid planning staff into the traffic signal and sign painting department and quit ignoring the public.

Muni changes course on millions in bond funds

By Jerrold Chin : sfbay – excerpt

Muni is shifting millions in bond funds away from delayed transit improvement projects and toward improvements of bus yards and other agency facilities… Bus barn in the Mission, photo by Zrants

Delays in spending a voter-approved 2014 bond measure on transportation infrastructure in San Francisco has prompted transit officials to reprogram some of the bond money into other projects that are ready to go and in need of funds.

The San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency Board of Directors approved redirecting $26.2 million from the first bond issuance of the 2014 Transportation and Road Improvement General Obligation Bond from Muni transit improvements to Muni facility upgrades.

Along with the reprogramming of the bond money, directors also are requesting to a second issuance of $92.8 million from the Board of Supervisors…

The SFMTA will spend $21.1 million in upgrading its Burke Warehouse facility that will eventually house overhead wires and provide extra capacity storage for the transit agency.

Another $11 million will go towards the second phase of Islais Creek project. The project includes the construction of a 65,000 square foot motor coach maintenance and operations facility, according to the SFMTA.

Other projects the second bond issuance will fund toward the electrification of Caltrain ($20 million), the BART canopy project ($3 million), and a number of bike and pedestrian safety projects…(more)