Why split the SFMTA?

I believe the Supervisors did not appreciate the type of open-ended contract they discovered when they investigated the Van Ness BRT project. I’m not going to describe it here. You can watch the many hearings that have been conducted on the contracts and delays. I’m not going into the financial shenanigans.

Other investigations into major mistakes made on projects such as the ones on Potrero next to the General Hospital lead to questions about communication within the department and SFMTAs dealings with other city agencies. At a public neighborhood meeting we discovered that the Project Manager for Potrero Ave. is also Project Manager for at least one other large project. This leads us to believe that they have bitten off too much to do well and need to put all new project starts on hold while they finish the ones the ones they have going now.

Disputes with the Fire Department and other city agencies involved in emergency operations along with daily transit meltdowns concern people who are responsible for handling a major disaster. How will a gridlocked city handle the next earthquake or other disaster that cuts off power when so much of our lives are electronica now. There is no evacuation plan. The plan is to shelter in place. That doesn’t work under all circumstances.

While you are at it, pay attention to public comments, especially where the bus stop removals and other inconveniences are opposed. Spitting SFMTA (not Muni) has less to do with cars and more to do with providing the service the Muni riders want instead of ignoring them. A business that ignores its customers will not survive long. In this case, the sales tax increase failed because no amount of lies and excuses will convince people they should pay more for less, especially when the salaries are not keeping pace with the tax increases.

The voters much approve the split and restructuring of the SFMTA by ballot.

RELATED:
Supervisors want to split municipal transit agency in two — here’s why

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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.

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.

The unelected bureaucracies that keep us stuck in traffic

By Jackie Lavalleye : californiapolicycenter – excerpt

Inadequate roads are leaving Californians stuck in traffic. According to a 2016 study by Inrix, a data company that specializes in traffic-related analytics, Los Angeles, California has the worst traffic in the United States. San Francisco takes the number three spot, and San Diego comes in number 14. In all, 17 California cities rank among the 100 most congested cities in America.

Traffic congestion has many negative effects on cities and people, including reduced economic growth as well as adverse health effects for the people sitting in traffic. So who is responsible for our terrible traffic? A group of little-known public agencies have a federal mandate to plan and implement transportation-related projects – but they aren’t getting the job done for Golden State commuters.

In 1962, the federal government created Metropolitan Planning Organizations, usually called “Associations of Governments”, as part of the Federal-Aid Highway Act of 1962. The purpose of these agencies is to bring together elected officials from various cities and counties within a metropolitan region for the purposes of planning regional transportation efforts. Further, the intention of this Act was to increase collaboration and cooperation among local governments within a region.

The boards of these organizations are not directly elected. Instead, local elected officials from member cities are appointed to serve on their boards. Day to day decisions are made by unelected bureaucrats.

Legally, many of the Associations of Governments in California are enforced by a Joint Powers Agreement. Per Nolo’s plain-english law dictionary, a Joint Powers Agreement is a “contract between a city and a county and a special district in which the city or county agrees to perform services, cooperate with, or lend its powers to, the special district.”… (more)

More data on the process that was used by the people who took over control of our lives may be found in the fourty year plan that was written and published by some familiar names and organizations that have taken control of our lives. Read the plan and see who has been involved from the start and how they planned and executed the disaster we are living in now, and what may be done about it. http://livablecity.org/wp-content/uploads/2013/08/tlc_path.pdf

Salesforce buys naming rights to Transbay Transit Center

By John King : sfchronicle – excerpt

San Francisco’s new downtown transit center will have something in common with AT&T Park and Oracle Arena — a corporate name.

Salesforce, a software company with its headquarters and 6,600 employees in the Bay Area, has agreed to a 25-year, $110 million sponsorship of the 2½-blocklong facility set to open next spring at Fremont and Mission streets. The deal includes naming rights, which means that the complex would be known as the Salesforce Transit Center.

Similarly, the 5.4-acre rooftop open space will become Salesforce Park if the board of the Transbay Joint Powers Authority approves the contract Thursday at its monthly meeting.

The cloud-like Salesforce logo that adorns two towers near the transit center would not appear on the exterior of the new facility, however. Nor would Salesforce have veto authority on events held in the park, even those of rival corporations… (more)

What a coincidence. This naming announcement comes out right after the plaza re-design was heard in Planning. The Commissioners were not too supportive of the changes suggested this week. Let’s see if they feel more supportive next time.

RELATED:
Facebook to build a small city next to its headquarters

Transit Ridership Down 2.3% in 2016

by Randal OToole : NewGeography – excerpt

With little fanfare, the American Public Transportation Association (APTA) released its fourth quarter 2016 ridership report last week. When ridership goes up, the lobby group usually issues a big press release ballyhooing the importance of transit (and transit subsidies). But 2016 ridership fell, so there was no press release… (more)

We are running our own little investigation into the downward trend in ridership. It is our theory that the less public transportation designers talk to the riding public, the less the public uses their services. We think the a major reason for the drop-off on the weekends is the removal of seats bus stops and seats the BART and Muni cars, and major meltdowns of those systems several times a week.

We suggest people send letters to the SFMTA officials and the press and their supervisors to let them know why you no longer take the Muni as often as you once did, but, don’t tell SFMTA what your alternate method for getting around is or they will cut that off because they can’t allow competition.

If you want to get involved in stopping the anti-human trend on public transit, talk to your neighborhood group and check out the actions on the Action Page.

Today’s SB-1 as Amended

http://leginfo.legislature.ca.gov/faces/billCompareClient.xhtml?bill_id=201720180SB1

If this is the Governor’s Pothole bill, it is badly labeled as most the money will not be going to potholes. Potholes look like an afterthought. Here is the law as amended today according to the official site. I dare you to find how much of this tax will go to fixing the potholes.

If you object to these new taxes being marketed as a pothole tax, without a clear description of how the money will be applied to fixing potholes, call the state reps and request a no vote on SB-1. Insist they give us the option of a “pothole only” tax: https://discoveryink.wordpress.com/state-legislators/

RELATED:
Editorial: Gov. Brown’s roads taxes veer way off course  

An environmental and transit-first agenda requires many hats

by Aaron Peskin : marintimes – excerpt

Photo of Mission Street Red Lanes by Zrants

There’s a lot on my plate, not just as a supervisor, but with many of the other hats I get to wear through public service.

Last month, I was honored when Senate Pro Tem Kevin de León appointed me to the the California Coastal Commission to represent the North Central Coast, which includes the counties of San Francisco, Sonoma, and Marin. This month I am slated to be appointed by the Board of Supervisors to be San Francisco’s representative on the Bay Conservation and Development Commission (BCDC), where I’ve been serving as an alternate to Supervisor Jane Kim. Earlier this year I was appointed to serve on the San Francisco Bay Restoration Authority Board by the Association of Bay Area Governments. Last, but certainly not least, I was unanimously elected chair of the San Francisco Transportation Authority (SFCTA) by my colleagues earlier this year.

I’m proud to serve in many capacities at a time when we must respond quickly and act decisively to combat the draconian cuts of a madman — especially if we’re going to address the real impacts of climate change. It’s hard to know where to begin with the federal administration’s latest assault on the people of the United States of America and California. But as a lifelong environmental advocate and longtime public transit nerd, you can be sure that I will be prioritizing the fight to protect both of these public assets… (more)

The first step to solving the transportation problem is to admit the mistakes that have been made and what is not working so you can fix those problems. The second step is to figure out why public transit is so expensive. SFMTA admits their system is unsustainable. They can’t afford more riders, which explains why they keep cutting service, while pretending like they are improving it. Adding riders increases their costs.

Any business that operates at a loss is doomed to failure. City Hall must take its head out of the sand and solve this problem. If it can’t, just let the private sector take over and get out of the way. Stop spending millions on PR and back slapping projects. Quit moving bus stops and re-designing the streets. Do nothing for a awhile but run the Muni.

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?

After yet another epic jam, it’s clear Seattle’s decisions about traffic must include cars

by Seattle Times editorial board : seattletimes – excerpt

In the photo above – San Francisco Fire Truck stopped all lanes of traffic on Potrero to get into the parking lot at General Hospital in a parking exercise. What will happen when the street is full of traffic during an emergency? More fire department exercises here.

Last Monday’s traffic debacle is another opportunity to discuss whether Seattle’s making the right decisions about traffic.

As the city of Seattle explains away its response to last Monday’s traffic debacle, area residents are shaking their heads and wondering when it will happen again.

They felt the same way after a 2015 fish-truck crash crippled the city. Mayor Ed Murray promised that Seattle would respond better in the future, based in part on an accident-response manual it was developing.

“The steps we are taking will help improve our response time and get traffic flowing after incidents as quickly as possible,” he said then…

Yes, Monday’s crash of a propane truck that closed Interstate 5 was an extraordinary event. Emergency responders are to be commended for preventing further injury.

Even so, the incident and paralyzing traffic that affected tens of thousands of people was a painful reminder of essential needs that Seattle, the regional hub, must fulfill.

It’s also another opportunity to discuss whether Seattle should place a higher priority on reducing congestion. No question it should. That would improve traffic overall and better position the city for accidents.

Because Seattle straddles state freeways at their busiest points, it should be ready to absorb the traffic when they’re disrupted…

Monday’s gridlock highlighted the folly of Seattle’s utopian, anti-car transportation planning.

Despite extensive street re-configurations, the share of trips taken by bicycle hasn’t grown. Yet the number of vehicles owned, drivers and miles driven continue to grow — as does congestion.

Seattle will always be a busy city with lots of traffic within and through its borders. So infrastructure planning should be based on overall need, not ideology and special-interest lobbying.

Policy should be guided by total capacity and demand, not cherry-picked statistics and wishful assumptions(more)

How big of a disaster will it take to wake up City Halls to the dangerous failures street diets are?

 

You can read the link below if you want to see streetsblog’s reply to the Seattle Times assertions. They have a cute graphic with less cars and a single bus in the bus lane to “prove” that more bike lanes reduce cars. I am only going to point out one thing.

Just because City Hall pays millions, (I’m sorry, billions) of dollars to put in “safe” bike lanes does not mean that a lot of bikes are going to fill them. As you drive down the most streets you may passing one of two bikes at the most on each block while hundreds of cars stream past. By making it difficult for cars and buses to share the road, you further create gridlock in the bus lanes as the buses pile up on each other in the red zones.

We cannot afford to continue to support this failed system as we gear up for budget cuts and important battles like providing health care to those who are losing it.

What will it take to end the car wars?

Truck Crash on Freeway Paralyzes Traffic. Seattle Times: Ditch the Bike Lanes!

– These articles were sent by a reader. Keep them coming.