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.

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For drivers without garages, charging a big barrier to electric cars

By Kate Galbraith : sfchronicle (includes chart)

…The San Francisco metro area, at the intersection of environmental concern and technological prowess, has more electric vehicles than most cities worldwide. But for many residents, buying one remains unrealistic. Even as prices for EVs fall and the cars’ ranges increase, the hassle of plugging them in remains daunting for those who have only street parking. It is a problem that San Francisco and other cities will have to solve as governments around the world look to cut greenhouse gas emissions (California wants to slash them about 40 percent over the next 13 years).

“Obviously, we want to have significantly more charging infrastructure, not just in San Francisco but all around California,” said Assemblyman Phil Ting, D-San Francisco, who plans to introduce a bill next year that would ban new gasoline and diesel cars cars after 2040. Ting has an electric Chevrolet Bolt that he can charge at both home and work.

Charging stations are proliferating in city and corporate garages, thanks to investment by electric utilities and private companies such as ChargePoint and Tesla. But getting to them can be a hassle, and a parking spot at work can be expensive… (more)

Here is a situation where the state could get out of the way of the market and allow it to solve the problem at no cost to the public.

Instead of removing parking from new development, developers should be encouraged to install EV parking spaces in the new buildings to encourage more EV sales. Not many people living with car break-ins will go out and purchase an expensive new vehicle they can’t protect.

Many California voters don’t like state gas tax increase, poll finds

By Dan Walters : sfchronicle – excpert

California’s top politicians and interest groups celebrated a few months ago when the Legislature passed a package of taxes and fees to pay for long-neglected improvements to the state’s transportation systems.

The heart of the $5-plus billion per year revenue package is a 12-cent-a-gallon hike in gasoline taxes that took effect this month, just as other factors, including a spike in global oil prices, hit pump prices that were already among the nation’s highest.

When they filled up their tanks this month, California motorists typically paid 40 to 50 cents per gallon more than they had been paying a month earlier.

As the tax increase went into effect, the Los Angeles Times and the University of Southern California’s Dornsife College of Letters, Arts and Sciences were conducting one their periodic public opinion polls.

The results were potentially devastating for the political, business and labor union groups that had pushed successfully for the transportation package after decades of delay. Most of California’s registered voters would opt to eliminate the gas taxes and fees, the polling found…

If repeal succeeds, the state’s highways, streets and transit systems will continue to deteriorate, and Gov. Jerry Brown’s successor and legislators will have to deal with it.

One option might be to divert more revenue from the sale of carbon emission credits under the state’s cap-and-trade program to transportation, and less, or perhaps none, to Brown’s pet bullet train project…(more)

What the author fails to mention is that there are now two gas tax repeal bills moving forward and that one of them includes a NO MORE TAXES without voter approval element. What is also missing is any mention of the 20 cents per gallon tax on diesel that will have a devastating effect on the price of goods transported by trucks, especially the price of food. The last thing California needs is another inflationary tax that increases the cost of food.

Larkspur parking spaces lost as SMART moves in

By Mark Prado : marinij – excerpt

Larkspur ferry riders will have 300 less spaces to choose from now that the Golden Gate Bridge district must give up a portion of parking to make way for SMART’s Larkspur extension…

As work continues to bring commuter rail south from San Rafael, a portion of a parking area for Larkspur ferry patrons will be permanently closed Wednesday.

That will result in the loss of about 300 spaces. While the area is usually lightly used during the work week, ferry riders going to Giants games or to special events in San Francisco served by the boats do use them as other lots swell.

In order to get trains through the Cal Park Hill Tunnel and to the Larkspur stop, the Sonoma-Marin Area Rail Transit agency needs the area to construct a station and other amenities as part of the $55.4 million project. The parking area is situated up a hill above 300 Larkspur Landing Circle. SMART plans to commence its Larkspur service in 2019… (more)

Here is a perfect example of how regional transportation systems under state directives, play musical chairs with the commuting public:

They remove service for existing riders under the guise of adding more future customers to their the “future perfect” system they are designing for. Meanwhile, drivers are faced back in their cars to cope with the loss of service. The winners in this game are the planners, consultants, developer sand the politicians they support. The losers are the commuters.

The Best thing voters can do is take back our streets and kick the “future perfect’ planners out at the ballot box when they get the chance. Grill the candidates on thee topics before you pledge support for them.

Why Road Diets Suck

Because they kill businesses and anger customers, who stay home instead of going out after battling their way through impossible traffic due to impossible road diets and nonsensical traffic directives. Write your officials to let them know what they can do with their road diets. Local contacts and state and federal contacts.

Two Gas Tax Repeal Efforts Compete To Make California’s 2018 Ballot

By Chris Nichols : capradio – excerpt

Californians frustrated over the state’s recent gas tax hike could have two options to eliminate it next year.

Separate campaigns are working to qualify repeal initiatives for the November 2018 ballot.

One is backed by Orange County state Asm. Travis Allen, a Republican candidate for governor. It would simply get rid of the increase.

The other is supported by the Howard Jarvis Taxpayer’s Association and John Cox, also a Republican candidate for governor. It would eliminate this year’s gas tax increase and require voter approval on all future proposals to raise the gas tax.

This year’s increase went into effect on Nov. 1 following approvals by the Legislature and Gov. Jerry Brown in April.

It includes an initial 12-cent-per-gallon gas tax increase; a diesel tax hike; and a new “transportation improvement fee” ranging from $25 to $175 per year, depending on the value of one’s vehicle. It’s expected to raise billions for backlogged state highway and bridge repairs.

Sacramento State Associate Political Science Professor Wesley Hussey said having two competing plans could harm the overall repeal effort… (more)

California’s Gas Tax to Jump 12 Cents Wednesday; Efforts to Dismantle Hike Are in the Works

By Patrick McGreevy : latimes – excerpt

A state gas tax increase of 12 cents per gallon kicks in Wednesday, and while the immediate impact will mean less money in motorists’ wallets, the long-term political fallout could roll into next year, when the higher levies are expected to be an issue in elections across California.

But the vitriol between Democrats who supported the new taxes and Republicans who opposed them kicked up months ago, well before the first newly taxed gallon will be pumped tomorrow.

Just last week, two lawmakers who voted for the April transportation package that included the gas tax increases came under fire in radio ads financed by the Western Growers Assn., which represents farmers who say they will have to pay more to get their crops to market…

The bill signed by Gov. Jerry Brown will raise the state excise tax on gasoline by 12 cents, from 29.7 cents per gallon to 41.7 cents per gallon. The excise tax on diesel fuel will increase by 20 cents, from 16 cents per gallon to 36 cents per gallon, and the sales tax rate on diesel will increase from 9% to 13%…

Updates from Sacramento »

Most Republican lawmakers opposed the tax increases, saying the state should instead divert billions of dollars from wasteful spending and a bullet train project they believe is not cost-effective and direct it toward transportation.

Many Republicans have already latched onto the tax increases as a hot-button issue for the 2018 elections…(more)

Didn’t the Governor promise to not raise taxes without voter approval?

Many attitudes and issues divide California citizens, but costs of food is going to effect us all. The 20 cent per gallon increase in diesel fuel taxis one of the most gentrifying taxes at a time when everyone’s biggest complaint is becoming gentrification. Rent protection doesn’t protect you from higher food prices.

RELATED:

Initiative filed to repeal California gas tax increase

: sacbee – excerpt

California’s new gas tax hike to pay for road improvements pushed by Gov. Jerry Brown and Democrats could go before voters for repeal.

Travis Allen, a Republican assemblyman from Orange County, filed the proposed 2018 ballot measure to eliminate the $5.2 billion annual package to fund road improvements.

On Thursday, Allen launched a website asking for contributions of $5 to help him gather the 365,880 signatures from registered voters to place the repeal before voters. Allen can begin to gather signatures once the state attorney general issues a title and summary for his repeal…

Allen is proposing an initiative, which means the earliest the tax could be repealed is after the November 2018 election. Referendums, which allow the law in question to be halted until voters pass judgment on the repeal, cannot be used to repeal tax levies or measures that lawmakers passed with an urgency clause, such as the gas tax increase(more)

 

 

SF mulls Uber and Lyft fees, gas tax for transportation funding

By Joe Fitzgerald Rodriguez : sfexaminer – excerpt

The Transportation Task Force 2045 is weighing possible measures for future ballots to fund Muni service, streetscape projects and bicycle infrastructure in The City…

2045? They can’t get 2017 right so they are skipping ahead a few years to fix those problems. Who are they kidding?

San Francisco is mulling a 20-cent-to-$1 fee for Uber and Lyft rides in San Francisco to fund local transportation, like Muni, among a suite of more than 20 potential tax measures.

From a tax on companies in the “gig economy” like TaskRabbit, to a gas tax, those measures are aimed at raising millions of dollars for Muni service, streetscape projects and bicycle infrastructure throughout The City.

The new ballot measures in the form of taxes, fees and bonds may be introduced in the near and far flung future, with some measures introduced as early as 2018 and others — including the potential Uber fee — in years to come, because they require changes in state law, according to city documents…(more)

City Hall is living beyond its means. That is the message the voters sent when they opposed the sales tax. Gentrification is not just based on rent rates. Each tax adds to the cost of living. Property taxes raise rents. Gas taxes and fuel tax raises the cost of goods that need to be transported, such as food. Now that we are using less water they want to tax the tap water.

LA, Orange County transit agencies seek their own ride-sharing services

By : dailybreeze – excerpt

Look out Uber and Lyft, more competition is on the way.

Public transit agencies in Los Angeles and Orange counties announced Monday that they’re seeking private-sector partners to operate new door-to-door ride-sharing programs.

The proposed “micro-transit” programs would begin operating in selected areas this summer, offering cheaper door-to-door rides than Uber and Lyft — as low as $5 per trip with free transfers to buses and rail lines.

The service would be designed to boost ridership and to keep up with private-sector technology innovations, said Joshua Schank, chief innovation officer at Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority, or LA Metro.

“The idea behind this service is that there are many people who need better public transit in Los Angeles that we cannot adequately serve with our existing bus and rail network,” Schank said. “You’ll be able to summon a vehicle. It’ll pick you up at a point near where you are and transport you to a point near where you’re going.”

Schank’s Office of Extraordinary Innovation was formed in 2015 to seek private-sector partnerships such as this that incorporate new technology to improve transportation.

LA Metro has been studying a ride-hailing, ride-sharing program for months, and Schank said it will send out a request for bids to private companies on Wednesday, but didn’t offer specific details about its program, such as cost and initial service areas.

“The private sector knows this better than we do,” Schank said. “We’ve developed the project internally, figured out what we wanted it to look like, and now we’re ready to ask private industry for their ideas.”

Similar to Lyft and Uber, the systems would be accessible through a cellphone app. But they won’t require that the user have a credit card, and they will accommodate disabled riders… (more)

Article sent by a reader with this comment:

And the lawsuits will be flying…they will use PUBLIC MONEY to subsidize ride-sharing services? To stay alive. Anyone else with thoughts on this? Uber is already burning investor money to grab market share. The only way these public agencies can do what is suggested here – to undercut private companies – is to use public funds to subsidize even further the cost of a ride share commute. Free passes to the buses? Who’s money is this? This is amazing.

Editor: FYI:

MTC and SFMTA are already subsidizing Motivate and Ford GoBikes in the Bay Area. They set up private/public partnerships and get the cities to hand over public street parking to gentrify the neighborhoods and soften them up for takeover for luxury condos. This does nothing to solve the state affordable housing problem, or the public transit system. It pushes the poor out to make room for wealthy investors.

Details on the Related deal, that was not shared with the public until the appearance of the GoBikes made it necessary to shine a light on the MTC deal to form a public/private partnership with Related-owned Motivate. Ford is not the operator, as it is with Chariot. That may be the worst PR move of false advertising Ford has done in some time, as the GoBikes spring up unannounced all over the city, Ford is being blamed, prompting a boycott Ford attitude as people decide to take back their streets, one bike station at a time. Other share companies may also object to the exclusive deal SFMTA has carved out for their preferred partners.

 

 

 

The Lexus Lanes — and why they won’t work

By Zelda Bronstein : 48hills – excerpt

Night-Bridge

Bay Bridge photo by zrants

Instead of rewarding carpools and getting people out of private cars, we are rewarding wealth and encouraging more people to drive. How does this make sense?

One of the hallmarks of neoliberalism is the application of market solutions to market-generated problems. It’s an approach that’s bound to fail, because market-generated problems can only be solved by non-market solutions; but to the neoliberal mind, no-market solutions are anathema. Unfortunately, this approach is guiding city and regional planning in the Bay Area.

A case in point is the October 5 hearing on “Job and Office Trends” at the SF Planning Commission. As Tim Redmond reported, the planners focused on the severe imbalance between jobs and housing in the city, and how that imbalance is making it impossible for many people who work in San Francisco—especially those of modest means—to live near their jobs. What the planners missed was the source of that problem: their own unending pursuit of new commercial space, especially new office space. In Redmond’s words:

“The entire presentation by the department staff worships at the altar of growth. When you look at the slides, it’s as if we are competing with the rest of the nation for who can grow faster, and have the most “healthy” economy, which means the fastest growing.”

It also means the economy with the highest prices. Never mind that the tech influx is the major source of the astronomical housing prices and the accompanying displacement of economically vulnerable San Franciscans. During public comment, longtime affordable housing advocate John Elberling noted that he hadn’t heard “the word gentrification” or anything.

“about the human consequences of accommodating growth, which is clearly the current mission of the San Francisco Planning Department, even when the growth, the commercial growth, is clearly more than we can accommodate.”

The same “marketizing” growth mania is driving another misguided planning scheme: the installation of HOT (High Occupancy Toll) or express lanes on Bay Area highways. On October 9, new HOT lanes went into operation on I-680 between Walnut Creek and Dublin. Former HOV (High Occupancy Vehicle) lanes, twelve miles southbound and eleven northbound, have been converted into express lanes that will operate between 5 am and 8 pm. (In the Bay Area, the term “rush hour” long ago became an anachronism.)…

Until I attended the briefing, I thought that express lanes were intended to decrease congestion. Not so. Their purpose, said Caltrans Deputy District Director Sean Nozzari, is to “help us manage traffic congestion better” by opening “available capacity to solo drivers.”…(more)

Management by Confusion: Once again we are being charged top dollar for confusion on our streets and highways. These programs are NOT user friendly and they contradict their stated purpose and goals.

The “experimental” traffic and parking management programs are so confusing the SFMTA Board and Board of Supervisors has trouble understanding them. If the “experts with detailed printed charts, maps, graphs, surveys, reports and personal Q and A after presentations can’t understand the program, how will the public figure it out?

It is hard enough keeping track of your online bank accounts and nesting email messages. Now drivers are expected to deal with driving along curving streets while watching out for children, pets, and stupid humans texting as they cross the street and cyclists who ride everywhere but in the “protected” bike lanes they demanded be installed for their safety on city streets.

On highways we are supposed to purchase yet another payment tool if we are to avoid paying huge fees for doing something we didn’t know to avoid in the first place. How is this legal, ethical, or good for society?

 

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