Cars remain popular because they are vastly superior to transit alternatives

By Gary Galles : ocregister – excerpt

The Los Angeles Times has recently reported that public transit agencies “have watched their ridership numbers fall off a cliff over the last five years,” with multi-year decreases in mass transit use by up to 25 percent. And a new UCLA Institute of Transportation study has found that increasing car ownership is the prime factor for the dive in usage…

Many things are already in motion to solve transit agencies’ problems. For instance, in 2015, Los Angeles began a 20-year plan to remove auto lanes for bus and protected bike lanes, as well as pedestrian enhancements, diverting transportation funds raised from drivers and heightening congestion for the vast majority who planners already know will continue to drive.

Such less than effective attempts to cut driving by creating gridlock purgatory suggest we ask a largely ignored question. Why do planners’ attempts to force residents into walking, cycling and mass transit, supposedly improving their quality of life, attract so few away from driving?

The reason is simple — cars are vastly superior to alternatives for the vast majority of individuals and circumstances…

As Randal O’Toole noted: “Anyone who prefers not to drive can find neighborhoods … where they can walk to stores that offer a limited selection of high-priced goods, enjoy limited recreation and social opportunities, and take slow public transit vehicles to some but not all regional employment centers, the same as many Americans did in 1920. But the automobile provides people with far more benefits and opportunities than they could ever have without it.”… (more)

This article fails to mention the Uber Lyft factor. As some city dwellers have given up car ownership due to gridlock and parking challenges, private enterprises have replaced private owned cars with “shared” cars so there is no net reduction of traffic. Citizens are fed up.

Non-partisan grassroots organizations are uniting to replace politicians, repeal the recently imposed state gas tax increase, fight future taxes. Environmentalists, affordable housing proponents, and displaced residents know how they have been played and they will not be tricked again by state orchestrated land and power grabs.

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Luxor Cab sold to competitor, will merge into consolidated Yellow Cab company

By Joe Fitzgerald Rodriguez : sfexminer – excerpt

Another major taxi company has been sold in The City, and will soon become part of a taxi consolidation that hopes to boost the industry citywide.

Formed in 1928, Luxor Cab Co. was officially enshrined in San Francisco’s historical lexicon as a legacy business in 2016. Now, one of its competitors, Citywide Taxi, is in the process of purchasing the assets of the historic company in a bid to reclaim some of the business lost to tech rivals Uber and Lyft, leadership at both companies confirmed to the San Francisco Examiner…

The merger would solidify Yellow Cab’s position as the largest taxi company in San Francisco. The next largest competitor, Flywheel Taxi, has a fleet of 239 cabs, according to the SFMTA.

(more)

The history of taxis in San Francisco should make for interesting reading someday. We need to see a complete review and history of the disastrous medallion program, including, who suggested it, who promoted to it, and who approved it.

Proposal for $9 tolls on Bay Bridge, $8 on other bridges gets big boost

By Lizzie Johnson : sfgate – excerpt

Night-Bridge

Sunset cruise on the Bay Bridge photo by zrants

A measure to raise Bay Area bridge tolls to $9 on the Bay Bridge and $8 on others over several years took a major step forward Wednesday when a key transportation committee unanimously recommended putting it before voters in June…

But to get before voters, the recommendation will need approval from the full Bay Area Toll Authority, which usually follows the committee’s lead. A vote is expect Jan. 24.

If the authority gives the measure the go-ahead, the Board of Supervisors in each of the nine affected counties will make the final vote to place it on each county’s ballot for June 5 as Regional Measure 3. If it passes, the toll hikes will affect only drivers on the Bay Area’s seven state-owned bridges. The Golden Gate Bridge would be excluded. Commuters who cross two bridges to get to their destination would receive a 50 percent discount on their second crossing if they have a FasTrak pass…

The measure also includes a proposal to create an inspector general whose job would be to examine BART finances and operations…(more)

Good to know that they will use the increase in bridge funds to hire another high-paid consultant. That sounds like a winning strategy for workers who are paying an average of 40% of their shrinking incomes on housing. I’m sure they will jump at the prospect of paying higher bridge tolls.

 

2 Efforts to Repeal the New California State Gas Tax that our State Legislature passed last year are gathering signatures

They both repeal the Gas Tax but this one includes a requirement for voter approval of future gas and car taxes.

NEW GAS TAX NOW HERE:
Download Your Petition to End the New Gas & Car Tax

https://www.givevotersavoice.com/

Initiative Language

INITIATIVE MEASURE TO BE SUBMITTED DIRECTLY TO THE VOTERS

SECTION 1. STATEMENT OF FINDINGS AND PURPOSES (a) California’s taxes on gasoline and car ownership are among the highest in the nation. (b) These taxes have been raised without the consent of the people. (c) Therefore, the people hereby amend the Constitution to require voter approval of the recent increase in the gas and car tax enacted by Chapter 5 of the Statutes of 2017 and any future increases in the gas and car tax.

SECTION 2. VOTER APPROVAL FOR INCREASES IN GAS AND CAR TAX
Section 3 .5 of Article XIII A of the California Constitution is added to read:

Sec. 3.5(a) Notwithstanding any other provision of law, the Legislature shall not impose, increase or extend any tax, as defined in section 3, on the sale, storage, use or consumption of motor vehicle gasoline or diesel fuel, or on the privilege of a resident of California to operate on the public highways a vehicle, or trailer coach, unless and until that proposed tax is submitted to the electorate and approved by a majority vote. (b) This section does not apply to taxes on motor vehicle gasoline or diesel fuel, or on the privilege of operating a vehicle or trailer coach at the rates that were in effect on January 1, 201 7. Any increase in the rate of such taxes imposed after January 1, 2017 shall cease to be imposed unless and until approved by the electorate as required by this section.

SB 1 was passed by a slim margin in Sacramento. Almost immediately after passage the opponents was working to repeal it. If you want to see this on the ballot, you may download and follow instructions on how to send in your signature.

Technically I believe that local governments are in charge of determining how their share of the gas taxes are spent, so, one could lobby the local government to spend it on road repair if one chose to do so, but, there are no guarantees any potholes will be fixed with the tax money, or any bridges and roads will be repaired.

 

ADDITIONAL INFORMATION ON THIS INITIATIVE:
1830. (17-0033A1) Eliminates Recently Enacted Road Repair and Transportation Funding by Repealing Revenues Dedicated for those Purposes. Requires any Measure to Enact Certain Vehicle Fuel Taxes and Vehicle Fees be Submitted to and Approved by the Electorate. Initiative Constitutional Amendment.
Summary Date: 11/20/17 | Circulation Deadline: 05/21/18 | Signatures Required: 585,407 – (25% of Signatures Reached 12/15/2017 (PDF)

Qualified Statewide Ballot Measures

Initiatives referenda cleared for circulation

 

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.

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)