California CPUC is to blame for the corporate takeover of our streets. We need new leadership at the CPUP.

Video by Spenser Michael, PBS NewsHours : KQED  – excerpt (video included)

This story ran in 2014.

Every weekday morning, dozens of sleek buses roll through the heart of San Francisco, picking up a cargo of workers commuting south to companies like Google, Facebook and Apple. But critics say the buses are clogging city bus stops and are symbolic of the disparity in wealth between the new tech workers and the long-time working class residents… (more)

Matters have gone from bad to worse. The SFMTA turned public parking spaces over to the buses and now we dealing with more buses and TNCs. As the street parking disappears a new parking need arises for delivery services.

Nothing the state, county, city agencies have done with the millions of dollars in federal, state, regional, county, or city taxes, fines and fees, has put a dent in the traffic problem.

California citizens all over the state are calling for a halt in the failed projects until major changes are enacted to stop the flawed plans that are not working.

RELATED: National coverage has been building on this subject for years.

Fast forward to 2018:

We now know a lot more about the “healthy economy” and it is unhealthy for most people.

California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) does not work for the public. At their last meeting they determined that because they are spending less money than anticipated on enforcement, the fees should be lowered on the Transportation Network Companies (TNCs) they are supposed to regulate.

Cities have no way to combat this agency. The only thing they regulate is the routes and the stops.

This is a perfect example of why we need to stop the state from usurping power from local governments. As the state legislature gives itself the right to regulate land use and traffic laws though such bills as Wiener’s SB-827 and 828, neighborhoods are being turned into futuristic holding cells for transients out to make a fast buck. They better grab fast, because they are killing the golden goose. Cities are crumbling under the weight of expectations and unrealistic priorities.

California has a number of regulatory agencies that make the rules and enforce them at their own discretion. There is no separation of powers here. San Francisco’s Municipal Transit Authority has a similar problem. Too much power and too much money has a bad influence on performance. The process does not work for the public. It works for the corporations and their lobbyists who control the agencies.

Because over 2% of the corporate bus trips cross into other local jurisdictions, they are regulated by the state. This encourages more regional traffic, not less, as TNCs scramble to grab those rides.

Uber’s new CEO admitted that his company is in competition with Muni and wants to run the city bus programs. We need  new cop in town and City Hall who can work some magic in Sacramento by taking back local control.

As it stands now the only thing the voters can do is stop the flow of money into the coffers of the agencies until City Halls get the message that the plan is flawed and the citizens are not going to take it anymore. The next tax on the ballot for transportation will be the regional RM3 bill that would increase bridge tolls to pay for more of same.

Fighting back means replacing people who are responsible for this untenable situation, and have not learned by their mistakes. It is one thing to posit an idea that doesn’t work. It is another to pretend like the world is your oyster when millions of people are suffering because of a flawed plan based on false assumptions.

We now know that algorithms can be manipulated thanks to Donald Trump and the Mueller investigation that uncovered massive manipulations by facebook algorithms. Next time someone tells you they based a zoning plan or a traffic pattern future project on an algorithm run for the nearest exit. Computer models are only as good as the input. When there are no recent studies based on current conditions, the computer models are flawed and the algorithms meaningless.

There is a new kid on the block intent on fighting back with renewed public outreach. is taking on the buses that are ravaging the Noe Valley neighborhood. See the recent action at the last stop at 29th and San Jose. Marvel at the chutzpah of the huge empty buses as they head for the 280 freeway.

State legislators need to take control the CPUC just as our Supervisors need to control the SFMTA. Let them know how you feel.




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.


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.

SFMTA Delays Traffic Diversion Plans For 8th Avenue ‘Neighborway’

by Lauren Alpert : hoodline – excerpt

On Wednesday evening, Supervisor Sandra Lee Fewer and SFMTA hosted a community meeting to discuss a traffic-calming plan that would divert traffic away from 8th Avenue.

While the plan originated with SFMTA initiatives and gathered feedback from neighbors, some residents have expressed concerns about traffic being shunted to adjoining streets.

Officials from the transportation agency say the proposed 8th Avenue “neighborway” would create a “safe, pleasant north-south route” for pedestrians and cyclists, noting that the street “carries 2 to 3 times the amount of vehicle traffic when compared to parallel routes.”… (more)

Good news. This is strike two for neighbors since the Supervisors threatened with a Charter Amendment and Ordinance to reign them in. So far the only consistent problems are coming from SFPark’s Corporate dealings. In spite of massive efforts by environmental groups supporting neighborhoods, the corporate mobsters are gaining public ground (literally).

Charter Amendment – Jurisdiction Within City Government Over Parking and Traffic Matters

Here is the first draft of the language put forth to as a proposal to amend the charter that establishes the authority of the SFMTA, referred to as the SFMTA Charter Amendment ballot initiative. Please review this and let your supervisors know how you feel about this amendment. Contacts are here.

FILE NO. 171309 First Draft, 12/12/2017

BOARD OF SUPERVISORS  [Charter Amendment – Jurisdiction Within City Government Over Parking and Traffic Matters, sponsored by Safia and Peskin. Read and follow the updates here.

Describing and setting forth a proposal to the voters at an election to be held on June 5, 2018, to amend the Charter of the City and County of San Francisco to eliminate the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency’s jurisdiction over parking and traffic regulations; to grant the legislative authority over parking and traffic to the Board of Supervisors; to create a new Livable Streets Commission and Department to manage parking and traffic; and affirming the Planning Department’s determination under the California Environmental Quality Act.

Existing Law:

Currently the Charter grants the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency (SFMTA) exclusive jurisdiction over local public transportation, taxis, and a variety of parking and traffic related functions. The SFMTA Board has legislative authority to adopt regulations related to parking and traffic. The SFMTA Board also serves as the Parking Authority Board with responsibility over a number of garages.

Amendments to Current Law:

The proposed Charter Amendment would eliminate the SFMTA’s exclusive jurisdiction over parking and traffic issues, and taxis. It would create a new Livable Streets Commission and Department that would have authority over parking and traffic functions and taxis. The Livable Streets Commission would be comprised of the members of the Municipal Transportation Agency Board of Directors. The Board of Supervisors would have legislative authority over parking and traffic. Under the amendment parking and traffic functions under the responsibility of the Livable Streets Commission include:

  • Setting rates for off-street and on-street parking, and all other, rates, fees, fines, penalties and charges for services provided or functions performed by the Department;
  • Controlling the flow and direction of motor vehicle, bicycle and pedestrian traffic;
  • Designing, selecting, locating, installing, operating, maintaining and removing all official traffic control devices, signs, roadway features and pavement markings;
  • Limiting parking, stopping, standing or loading as provided by state law and establishing parking privileges and locations subject to such privileges for categories of people or vehicles as provided by state law;
  • Establishing parking meter zones, setting parking rates, and selecting, installing, locating and maintaining systems and equipment for payment of parking fees;
  • Establishing policies for the enforcement of regulations limiting parking, stopping, standing or loading and the collection of parking-related revenues and, along with the Police Department, have authority to enforce parking, stopping, standing or loading regulations;
  • Cooperating with and assisting the Police Department in the promotion of traffic safety, among other things;
  • Having authority over taxi-related functions and taxi-related fares, fees, charges, budgets, and personnel; and
  • Coordinating the City’s efforts to address emerging mobility services.
  • The proposed Charter Amendment also provides that the Livable Streets Commission would serve as the members of the the Parking Authority
    Commission. The Livable Streets
    Commission would have authority over City-owned off-street public parking facilities, except those specified as under the jurisdiction of other City departments.

The proposed Charter Amendment provides for an operative date for the transfer of jurisdiction and the creation of the Livable Streets Commission of July 1, 2019.

(First Draft, 12/12/2017)

SB-182 is on the Governor’s desk now to be signed. We need to stop it.

SB-182  would prohibit cities from regulating TNCs by handing regulation of the TNCS over to the state PUC. We just heard today at the SF Supervisors’ Land Use and Transportation Committee hearing that the TNCs are responsible for most of the traffic violations in the SOMA area and the downtown area. We also know that TNCs are responsible for a huge percentage of the vehicle miles traveled in SF and that they spend more time driving around without a passenger than most residents spend in our cars.


Links to the governor: Calling the office may be the best way to get the message to him. Email form is on this page:

Mailing address:
Governor Jerry Brown
c/o State Capitol, Suite 1173
Sacramento, CA 95814

Phone: (916) 445-2841 
Fax: (916) 558-3160

Details on the bill:

SB-182, Transportation network company: participating drivers: single business license.

The Passenger Charter-party Carriers’ Act authorizes the Public Utilities Commission to regulate charter-party carriers in California, including transportation network companies that provide prearranged transportation services for compensation using an online-enabled application or platform to connect passengers with drivers.

Existing law authorizes the legislative body of an incorporated city and a county board of supervisors to license businesses carried on within their respective jurisdictions and to set licensing fees for those businesses.

This bill would prohibit any local jurisdiction, as defined, that requires a driver, as defined, to obtain a business license, as defined, to operate as a driver for a transportation network company, from requiring that driver to obtain more than a single business license, as specified, regardless of the number of local jurisdictions in which the driver operates.

Transit agency ‘mistake’ reveals extra parking removed from Potrero Avenue

By : sfexaminer – excerpt

Overhead google shot of Potrero before the medians were installed.

Sometimes, San Francisco makes mistakes.

In this case, a mistake led to the revelation of more parking removed for a safety and transportation project on Potrero Avenue than the community was initially was told — 60 spaces total, instead of 41.

But neighbors are also concerned that the Potrero Avenue Streetscape Improvement Project was designed before Zuckerberg San Francisco General Hospital built its new trauma wing — and that those 2014 transportation plans reportedly block emergency vehicle access…

That allegation from neighbors was later expressed by Supervisor Hillary Ronen’s office to the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency, which heads the project.

These concerns prompted the SFMTA Board of Directors to approve the project in a limited capacity Tuesday and carve out a hole in their plans directly in front of the hospital so that portion can be studied…

Potrero Avenue resident David Jayne recorded video showing one of the newly installed traffic medians preventing an emergency vehicle from accessing the hospital. It showed an ambulance flashing its lights while sitting behind traffic at a red light by the entrance to the hospital.

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Photos of fire trucks and engines pulling into General Hospital before the median was installed. The large vehicles used both sides of the street to make their turns. Photos by zrants

Traditionally, Jayne said, the ambulance would have driven around the pile-up, into oncoming traffic, and entered the hospital. Instead, it was blocked by the new median…(more)

Anybody else wonder where all these high injury networks are coming from? If Vision Zero and Moving Forward worked we should be safe by now. How many millions of dollars are spent on high injury networks and why do they keep multiplying? There must be some non-high injury networks. Let’s see a map of those.


Uber and Lyft get the last laugh – all the way to the bank

SF City Hall and SFMTA used Uber and Lyft to kill taxis and attempt to remove cars. Now the ride-shares outnumber Muni. They created the Monster. Let’s see how they tame it.

A collection of photos of SF streets by zrants

RIDE-SHARES TECH BUSES OR TAXIS AND PRIVATE VEHICLES: SFMTA welcomed ride-shares as their allies in their attempt to drive SF residents out of their cars. SFMTA removed and privatized on-street parking. Planning removed off-street parking from future developments giving developers a huge windfall in profits. Developers did their part by offering Uber and Lyft credits instead of on-site parking, jacking up the demand for car-shares. The demand for car-shares, created by the parties in their haste to eliminate private cars, is driving the number of car-shares and increasing regional traffic as the car-share drivers are coming in to drive us around the city. Don’t even get us started on the tech bus problems that are effecting everyone around the Bay Area not just SF.

PARKING OR TRAFFIC: The parking problem for some is eliminated, but, there are more cars driving around NOT PARKING than there were before the parking was eliminated. Given the choice between parking and traffic, which is worse? You are going to have one or the other. Decide City Hall and clean up your act.

RETAIL OR DELIVERY: Instead of private people running their own errands shopping in their own cars, and bringing their purchase home, we now have delivery services running those errands for us and double parking of delivery trucks all over town. You do want that pizza hot, don’t you? You can’t expect your new computer, TV, or stove to be delivered by bike. Those come by truck now. Instead of mail once a day, we have multiple deliveries a day from multiple sources, adding both traffic and double parking to our streets. We have replaced retail jobs with delivery jobs. Is that the kind of neighborhood and city we want to live in? Where we interact by digital media instead of human contact? How many jobs may be eliminated by robots?

LOCAL SERVICES OR REGIONAL: We find that we have more traffic than ever pouring into the city. Many of our service companies, such as repair and construction crews used to work out of local warehouses and parking lots have been forced out and must now drive into the city to serve us. This jacks up the price of those services, many emergency in nature, electricians and plumbers, PDR and other businesses reliant on vehicles. Now your plumber must commute in to stop that leak. This leads to more damage and more costly repairs. Don’t even think about getting that roof repaired or your sidewalk attended to with any haste. Fast, cheap or reasonable remodels are a distant past memory.

PLAYING THE GREEN CARD: For those of you who have not followed the history of this anti-car movement, we may direct you to the beginning, which started with a treatise and the uniting of a number of non-profits that run the city. Details are too many to address here now. There was an idea that by stuffing people into large dense cities you could somehow reduce greenhouse gases and save the planet. One the way to that perfect future plan, an amazing happened. The car manufacturers cleaned up their cars and the engines got more efficient, so we are using less fuel and polluting less in our cars. The cost of gas is also going down, as the demand diminished. Many alternate fuels are coming on the market. Thus the green card is no longer sufficient to fight cars.

PLAYING THE SAFETY CARD: This brings up the need for a new reason to remove cars. Cars are dangerous. To prove that, most of the state and federal requirements for safety such as lane width, road signs traffic laws, have been altered to the point where few people even know what they are any more. This is called chaos. This is how the SFMTA really makes its mark on our city. No one creates chaos and hatred among the people on the streets like the SFMTA. They are geniuses at playing the safety card against us. Everything they do is geared to confuse and annoy us. Starting by turning our perfectly normal streets into battlefields of zones based on some strange markings that no one understands. They blame each accident on the lack of safety on that corner and target it for change.

PLAYING THE CHAOS CARD: Now that we have animosity on the streets and mass confusion because of rules and regulations no one understands and confusion over the street markings, SFMTA decided it is time to really stir things up by “calming” our straight, easy to navigate and see lanes into movable targets. The days of warning when lanes are merging are over. If you don’t pay attention to the lanes curing in and out of bulbouts, parking, bike and red lanes, you are in trouble. All your attention must go to following the lanes and it is hard to pay attention to the lane changes and the pedestrians, bikers and others who think they have “the right of way” all the time. People who don’t live here can’t wait to leave. They are completely confused.

WORST CASE SCENARIOS: It is one thing to design streets for everyday experience and assume that the power to the Third Street rail lights that “manage” the merging traffic on and off of rail lanes will always works, but, it is another to deal with the reality of unexpected emergencies and power outages. We understand that decisions have been made to ignore the warnings of our emergency respondors in favor SFMTA “specialists” and “experts” on how the emergency vehicles will deal with the realities of emergencies as they arise and become stuck in traffic, or, worse yet, cannot reach fires in high rise properties due to the fact that they have been downsized. According to then Supervisor Wiener, the Fire Department should purchase smaller vehicles capable of handling the narrow streets. Someone must be held accountable when there are repercussions to these short-sided decisions.

THE AFTERMATH: In the haste to remove cars from SF streets, SF invited in the newest tech and anti-car planning teams they could find. They failed on all counts. By any metric or measurement you care to name, the entire program is a failure. We have a much worse regional traffic problem than before. We have a lot more vehicles on our streets.

We have many infuriated drivers and Muni riders, removed off-street parking and building owners are offering Uber and Lyft credits to lure in tenants of those parkless housing developments. Why should anyone be surprised that Ubers and Lyfts are replacing the traffic the city used them to eliminate.

WHO DETERMINES THE FUTURE OF OUR CITY: The public needs to speak up and let City Hall know how they feel about these issues. The plan is flawed and it is up to us to demand an examination of the flawed plan. Hearings are being called. We will be alerting you to those hearings. Please write letters and come to speak out at the hearings if you can. What is your solution to solving this problem?

SF eliminates renewal fees for taxi medallion holders

By Jerold Chinn : sfbay -excerpt

Taxis in North Beach photo by Zrants

Transferable taxi medallion holders will no longer have to pay an annual renewal fee starting July 1 as a way to help medallion holders during the current hard economic times of the taxi industry.

Congratulations to all the taxi drivers who have put in a lot of energy to get his done. A well-deserved break.

Why Is Transit Ridership Falling?

Transit ridership took a turn for the worse in 2016. In all but a handful of cities, fewer people rode trains and buses, even in some places, like Los Angeles, that have invested significantly in expanding capacity.

It’s not just a one-year blip, either. In many American cities, the drop in transit ridership is an established trend. The big question is why.

Transit consultant Jarrett Walker at Human Transit wants more than vague speculation about the effect of low gas prices and ride-hailing services. He’s looking for more specific research about causes and effects — and soon:

Bottom line: We need research! Not the sort of formally peer reviewed research that will take a year to publish, but faster work by real transportation scholars that can report preliminary results in time to guide action. I am not a transportation researcher, but there are plenty of them out there, and this is our moment of need.

Here are my research questions:

  • Which global causes seem to matter?  Straight regression analysis, once you get data you believe.  Probably the study will need to start with a small dataset of transit agencies, so that there’s time to talk with each agency and understand their unique data issues.
  • What’s happening to the quantity of transit?  If ridership is falling because service is falling, this isn’t a surprise.  If ridership is falling because service is getting slower — which means lower frequency and speed at the same cost — well, that wouldn’t be surprising either.
  • How does the decline correlate to types of service?  Is this fall happening in dense areas or just in car-based suburbs? Is it happening on routes that are designed for high ridership, or only on those that are designed for coverage purposes (services retained because three sympathetic people need them rather than because the bus will be full).   Is it correlated to frequency or span changes? Heads up, local geeks! A lot could be done looking at data for your own transit agency — route by route and even (where available) stop by stop, to analyze where in your metro the fall is really occurring… (more)

I appreciate the thought that went into this article.  In my experience, people decide how to live their lives based on their personal needs, not based on datasets and studies. My questions would be of a more personal nature and I would put them to the public.

  • Why do you take public transit when you take it?
  • Why do you chose to take another transit option when you don’t?
  • Do your priorities align with SFMTA and City Hall priorities?
  • What Muni changes do you support?
  • What Muni changes do you oppose?
  • Do you prefer speed or comfort?
  • Would you rather stand on public transit if you get there faster?
  • Would you rather sit if it takes longer to get there?

Uber’s terrible week gets worse; Google sues for alleged theft of self-driving technology

By Colin Deppen : pennlive – excerpt

Uber’s week started with a former employee alleging she encountered systemic sexual discrimination during her time with the company.

The week ended with Google filing a lawsuit against the ride-sharing service alleging the technology now fueling Uber’s self-driving fleet in cities like Pittsburgh was stolen. This as both companies remain locked in a costly and frenzied modern-day space race to perfect the nascent technology.

In the lawsuit filed Thursday, the Google self-driving-car group, now known as Waymo, , accuses Uber of using stolen technology to advance its own self-driving car development…

According to CBS News, the 28-page complaint accuses a former top manager for Google’s self-driving car project, Anthony Levandowski, of stealing pivotal technology that Google says is now being used to fuel Uber’s own fleet of autonomous vehicles for its ride-hailing service.

CBS adds that the alleged theft occurred in late 2015, before Levandowski left Google to found a startup called Otto that is “building big-rig trucks that navigate highways without a human behind the wheel.” Uber bought Otto for $680 million last year, and Levandowski is now overseeing Uber’s effort to develop and dispatch cars driven by robots… (more)

Does Uber have a sexual assault problem? Charge against Pa. driver highlights concerns