Muni memo reveals internal agency struggle to solve operator shortage

By Joe Fitzgerald Rodriguez : sfexaminer – excerpt

The backbone of San Francisco’s commute, Muni, is suffering a citywide slowdown.

But that transportation crisis might have been averted, some transit officials allege, if warnings of operator training shortages late last year had been heeded.

Internal strife within the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency over how to handle that shortage was revealed by an internal memo obtained by the San Francisco Examiner in a public records request…

Irwin Lum, a past president of the Muni operator union, TWU Local 250-A, said the email showed SFMTA “tried to put too many changes in at once.”

“The training department couldn’t handle it,” he said. But he also noted that Kirschbaum and the transit department should have anticipated the training department would not have been able to keep pace with all the historic service boosts they were trying to implement at Muni.

“I think her expectations were too high,” Lum said. “This place don’t function like that, you know what I mean?”… (more)

Cancel all new projects until the ones that are unfinished are complete.

We sound like a broken record repeating over and over again, “SLOW DOWN. Quit adding more layers of confusion on the over-burdened public that doesn’t want or need any more changes to deal with.”

All changes is not good. A reliable system should be SFMTA’s top priority.

San Francisco residents want and deserve a city that moves freely, not a state-of-the-art testing ground for tech. No one wants to get up in the morning to ask their phone how they are getting to work today. Your productivity falls immediately once you start in a stressful confused state.

RELATED:

Muni failed to warn mayor’s office of induced service meltdown, sources say

By Joe Eskenazi : missionlocal – excerpt (includes graphics)

A chart documenting Muni’s missed hours of service. The yellow arrow indicates June 25, the date of the Twin Peaks tunnel closure. Graphic by Steve Pepple.

On Monday, Mission Local published an article with documentation revealing that Muni has inflicted citywide transit mayhem by shunting buses and drivers off its most crowded lines to patch service during the long-planned Twin Peaks tunnel closure. Some of San Francisco’s busiest bus routes have been hamstrung with unannounced, de-facto cuts of up to 33 percent, resulting in thousands of hours of missed service, long waits, packed vehicles and legions of agitated riders…

As such, even high-level city officials — like the rest of us — didn’t realize the ensuing months of abysmal transit service wasn’t just Muni business-as-usual until they read about it in the newspaper: First, in late July, in the Examiner, and then on this site this week, with additional data and details…(more)

 

 

Advertisements

Supes, neighbors block Ford GoBike’s citywide expansion

By Joe Fitzgerald Rodriguez : sfexaminer – excerpt

Ford GoBike’s expansion has been halted and slowed across The City, and the reason given is often the same — there wasn’t enough notice given.

From Glen Park to the Haight, the Mission District and most recently, the Marina, residents are pushing back against the rental bike docks, which are usually placed in parking spaces meant for cars.

And as the bike rental service is on the cusp of its planned expansion to 7,000 bikes Bay Area-wide, the San Francisco Board of Supervisors is also increasingly pushing back against it and the Lyft-owned company that operates the program, Motivate, by saying that not enough notice has been offered to neighbors about new station installations…

But while each supervisor sees this problem through a neighborhood-focused lense, each individual battle adds up: The bikeshare-slowdown now stretches citywide… (more)

First we want to thank our supervisors for supporting the rights of residents and the public to determine how our streets are used. Stopping the spread of corporate controlled curb space is important. Some people may not be aware that the Board of Supervisors passed Ordinance 180089 to allow the public to make these decisions by giving the supervisors greater control and oversight of the SFMTA Board decisions. Look it up if you are not familiar with the ordinance: https://metermadness.wordpress.com/actions/sfmta-review/

We need some data on the number of stations to bikes Motivate and other private entities have installed in the city and the number of vehicles assigned to private parking spots. We have noted a number of GoBikes parked in public bike parking spots that are meant for private bikes and a lot of empty Motivate racks.

Perhaps we need to ask Randy Rentschler, director of legislation and public affairs with the Metropolitan Transportation Commission, which negotiated Ford GoBike’s exclusivity contract to provide docked bikeshares within the Bay Area, what the intent of that contract was or is. He claims he just wrote the contracts and it is up to us to deal with them. If the public objects to them being placed on our streets they should honor our objections. We don’t need an excuse.

The above mentioned ordinance is a good start in taking back control of our streets, but the voters of San Francisco may want to consider a Charter Amendment as well if these matters and others are not resolved to our satisfaction soon. Let Mayor Breed and the Board of Supervisors and the candidates running for office know how you feel. They are in office to serve the public not the corporations.

SF supe calls for hearing to investigate citywide Muni delays

By : sfexaminer – excerpt

Muni service has slowed to a crawl citywide, and now one supervisor wants answers.

At the Tuesday meeting of the Board of Supervisors Supervisor Vallie Brown called for a hearing into Muni slowdowns that have affected more than 30 routes across The City.

“Not a day has gone by that I haven’t heard from my constituents about the issues we’re facing with Muni, that it’s not reliable, and that there are not enough buses,” Brown told the San Francisco Examiner in a statement… (more)

Good start for the new supervisor. Hope we can see some action from the rest of the Board to stop the new projects until they finish the ones they have going now. They should drop all unnecessary projects and put some on hold while they figure out how to move the riders who need to get to work every day. We don’t need high tech gadgets and data. We need low tech buses and trains that run on a regular schedule we can rely on.

RELATED:
Video Interview with BATWG Chair Jerry Cauthen
Some suggestions for solving the problem that may interest our resaders.

Breaking: Proposed Uber and Lyft per-ride surcharge could pump $30M a year into San Francisco’s coffers

By Joe Eskenazi : missionlocal – excerpt

Deal struck to drop proposed gross receipts tax on Uber, Lyft paves way for city to glean per-ride charges

Supervisor Aaron Peskin today confirmed that he’s dropped his plans to hit “Transportation Network Companies” — Uber, Lyft, etc. — with a gross receipts tax on their revenue. As such, the companies will acquiesce to a proposed per-ride surcharge, to be enabled by forthcoming state legislation from Assemblyman Phil Ting.

Peskin said the proposed 3.25-percent tax on every TNC ride in the city could result in users of Uber, Lyft,  et al. pumping $30 million a year into San Francisco’s municipal piggybank — and perhaps more in the future… (more)

We do need a bit of clarification on the meaning of this “deal”.  What is the goal of taxing the TNCs? To make money to control traffic and gridlock, or are there other issues the public would like to address and does this deal address those issues? SF is not the only city effected by this problem that has increased regional traffic as well. How will a fee solve the bad driving habits of ride-share drivers?\

Seattle did not settle on a small surcharge option.

RELATED:

Chinese bike share company to leave Seattle after city approves program, steep permit fees

By Matt Mokovich : komonews – excerpt

SEATTLE – Ofo is out. The Chinese-based and heavily funded bike share program said the City Council’s decision on Monday to impose an annual $250,000 permit fee for bike share companies wishing to operate in Seattle was too much…

“The exorbitant fees that accompany these new regulations -the highest in the country – make it impossible for Ofo to operate and effectively serve our riders,” Lina Feng, General Manager of Ofo Seattle said in a statement on Monday. “As a result, we will not be seeking a permit to continue operating in Seattle.”…(more)

Is this what it takes? $25000.00 fees. 

SFPD Traffic Department Woefully Understaffed

By Nuala Sawyer : sfweekly – excerpt

At any given point there are only eight traffic officers patrolling the entirety of San Francisco…

It’s easy to assume that a cop just wasn’t around to catch that car turning right from a middle lane or running a stop sign, but pay attention long enough, and it seems like there just aren’t any traffic officers… well, anywhere. With enforcement a key part of the Vision Zero plan to eliminate all traffic fatalities by 2024, checking in on if the San Francisco Police Department is doing their part seems like a no-brainer. And in a hearing called by Supervisor Sandra Lee Fewer on Wednesday, we learned the truth: The traffic department (formally called the Traffic Company) is incredibly understaffed… (more)

Read the full letter from Julie Kirschbaum, written October 6, 2017, that warned of training needs here

How is it possible that SF’s $11 billion budget does not buy more traffic enforcement? Who are they hiring and training why if not to run the Muni and patrol the streets?

No wonder SF is in declining into below third world standards. SFMTA is not the only city department with questionable priorities and policies. Why is City Hall mindlessly signing a 11 million dollar budget before scrutinizing it? Only Supervisor Fewer opposed the SFMTA budget. It time to return the line item veto to regain control of these agencies.

Who decided we need more parking control officers than traffic control officers? Whoever prioritized parking enforcement over traffic control should be fired.

Muni suffering major citywide service gaps due to operator shortage

By : sfexaminer – excerpt

Muni is suffering a major citywide slowdown.

An operator shortage has left scheduled buses sitting still at Muni yards, engines cold. Those “not outs,” Muni operator-slang for a bus or train “not out in service,” have caused drastically long wait times for service across San Francisco for months, public data obtained and analyzed by the San Francisco Examiner shows.

On any particular weekday almost a hundred buses — ones meant to run — sit unused due to a lack of operators. The usual lines for downtown buses have grown into crowds. Lucky riders find themselves packed ever-closer to their fellow passengers while unlucky riders see full-to-the-brim buses pass them up outright.

Riders have seen wait times lag on the most crucial commuter lines: 48 minute waits on the 1BX, 24 minute waits on the 38-Geary, 27 minute waits on the 1-California. Major slowdowns have hit all of San Francisco’s neighborhoods, from rich to poor, cutting across all of the diverse populations that rely on Muni for work and school… (more)

For some time people have been suggesting SFMTA slow down street construction projects and emphasize improving Muni service and operations. Have we reached the point where this may be the best solution?

This is not a problem of cash flow or shortage of funds. This is a problem of SFMTA priorities and policies not meeting the goals and needs of the public. As the public loses confidence in Muni service and reliability they are turning to private vehicles, ride-hails and other transit options. Perhaps this is the goal of SFMTA. Perhaps they want to turn over the public transit system to the corporate giants who are clamoring to take it over.

Gas tax repeal campaign focuses on Bay Area commuters, families

The campaign to overturn California’s newly enacted gas tax will hit three Bay Area cities next week, as organizers search for volunteers to post lawn signs, write opinion pieces and spread the taxpayer revolt on social media.

With less than four months to go before the November election, the crusade won’t be easy. Proposition 6, the tax repeal measure, takes aim at a $5 billion-a-year funding stream to fix California’s crumbling roads and boost its mass transit systems.

Environmentalists, transportation officials, construction unions and Gov. Jerry Brown are all fighting to protect those funds, and they have raised $14 million — far more than the $5 million haul of the “Yes on 6” campaign.

But none of that has deterred Prop. 6’s core supporters or its campaign chairman, conservative talk radio host Carl DeMaio…

“This tax affects everybody, but it hits the working poor the hardest,” DeMaio said….(more)

Every price hike on everything effects the working poor and the middle class whose wages have not kept up with the spiraling inflation rates that are hitting California hardest. There are already plans to replace the tax should it be repealed. The idea that the money collected to fix the roads and bridges should not be re-directed into other projects. Some of those ideas are explored here: How-to-replace-the-gas-tax-law-if-its-repealed/   “…a new initiative to REPLACE SB1. That next bill will designate that all current State excise taxes on fuels at the pumps, State sales tax on fuels at the pumps, and new car sales taxes, MUST all go to infrastructure, with NONE going to the general fund…”

Privatization of our Streets

Multiple media stories over the last week prove that corporations plan to control our streets. They are fighting for them. What are we doing to keep them?

Lyft’s Big Bike-Share Buy Is About Ruling the Streets: https://metermadness.wordpress.com/2018/07/05/lyfts-big-bike-share-buy-is-about-ruling-the-streets/

The SFMTA has not done a great job of protecting our interest and may come under fire. Follow the action this week: https://cancalendar.wordpress.com/special-events/

Supervisors passed an Ordinance to help us. We need to ask for their help now.
Ordinance: https://metermadness.wordpress.com/actions/sfmta-review/  
Charter Amendment: https://metermadness.wordpress.com/actions/charter-amendment/

Stay in formed. Demand Respect. Support the candidates running for supervisor who will protect our city and our streets. Put SFMTA needs listen the voters, not their staff.

Lyft’s Big Bike-Share Buy Is About Ruling the Streets

By Aarian Marshal : wired – excerpt

Today, Lyft announced it has acquired North America’s largest bike-share operator, Motivate, for a reported $250 million. The move comes just three months after archrival Uber took over Jump Bicycles, a smaller and flashier dockless electric bike-share company, for $200 million. And thus, the urban transportation wars click into a higher gear, as the fight moves to the bike lane…

In a blog post, Lyft said it would take over Motivate’s technology and corporate functions, including, critically, its city contracts...

On its face, the acquisition of Motivate—which will be rebranded Lyft Bikes—makes a ton of sense. Ride-hailing companies are nervous that vehicles like cycles and scooters will cut into their business by giving people cheaper, traffic-free options for making short trips through dense areas. So instead of fighting these new modalities, the ride-hailing giants bought them out…

That could be the sort of advantage Lyft needs to dominate transportation across the city landscape, no matter your mode of choice. If, that is, it can answer a few pesky questions.

Relationships

Motivate has decade-long agreements with some of America’s biggest cities, including Boston, Chicago, New York, the District of Columbia, and the San Francisco Bay Area. Some of those (including New York, the Bay Area, and Boston) are exclusive, meaning no one else is allowed to operate a bike-share in the area…

Lyft says its acquisition won’t affect Motivate’s existing contracts.

But is that true? Uber also took a close look at Motivate before Lyft cut the check, and a source familiar with those negotiations says Uber worried those contracts left room for cities to renegotiate or even cancel exclusivity if control of the company changed hands…

 A spokesperson for the Bay Area’s transportation authority did not respond to specific questions about its contract with Motivate. …

it’s not crazy to think Lyft could use this new real estate to build what urban transportation nerds have dreamed about for years: “mobility hubs,” where riders switch between a bike and a car and the public bus and the subway. Could a station be a place to charge electric bikes and scooters and maybe even cars?…

Keep your eyes on the corners—and, of course, the limits of Motivate’s contacts, which probably limit what Lyft can do with these spaces... (more)

NOW is the time to DEMAND A PUBLIC HEARING.

ENUF already! Demand they stop removing pubic parking now. This is Airbnb on the streets. Merchants and residents are already having problems with delivery services with the curb parking that we have left now. We cannot afford to loss more curb parking.

Who is on the public’s side? Ask your supervisor and those running for the office in November what they plan to do about the privatization of our streets and the private contracts being signed by the SFMTA. Some supervisors have already taken a stand on our side. Thank them and ask them how you can resolve parking problems using Ordinance #180089.

RELATED:
GoBike expansion fuels neighborhood conflict as Lyft plans bikeshare growth
GM Preps for Robo-Taxis in San Francisco
City report says Uber and Lyft are hoarding vital transit data

 

 

 

 

SFMTA launches new ‘community response team,’ hires board member to lead it

By Joe Fitzgerald Rodriguez : sfexaminer – excerpt

San Francisco’s transit arm is hiring a director from its politically appointed board to lead a new community outreach team.

Joel Ramos, a seven-year member of the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency Board of Directors, was hired near the end of May to lead the agency’s new Community Response Team, which is aimed at reaching out to neighbors about new stop signs and other small-scale street changes…

The SFMTA estimates there were around 575 such decisions in 2017, all subject to potential appeal with the Board of Supervisors.

Ramos’ departure from the SFMTA Board of Directors leaves a vacancy on the seven-member body, all of whom are appointed by the mayor. The body approves projects both great and small, from the $1.6 billion Central Subway project to the recent red painted transit-only lanes throughout The City. He recalled the approval for the Central Subway as a particularly heated moment in his board career…

Farrell, who will be replaced by a newly elected mayor by mid-July, said he will decline to appoint a new member to the SFMTA Board of Directors in his remaining few weeks in office.

“As mayor, I am focusing on appointments to boards and commissions that lack quorum, require key appointments or have ongoing searches for a director,” Farrell said in a statement.

That leaves the task of appointing a new SFMTA board member to the next mayor — whoever that may be… (more)