Ousted e-scooter company Bird purchases rival Scoot, acquiring SF permit

By Joe Fitzgerald Rodriguez : sfexaminer – excerpt

Bird has already been approved to continue operating Scoot in The City

Bird, one of three e-scooter rental companies ousted from San Francisco last year, has finally found a way back into The City.

The company is acquiring its rival, Scoot, one of only two e-scooter companies permitted to operate in San Francisco…

“Backdoor” permit purchases, as some insiders call it, are increasingly becoming a common practice. Ride-hail giant Lyft purchased bikeshare company Motivate in July last year, granting it a contract featuring exclusivity to operate in San Francisco. And Lyft’s rival, Uber, bought dockless e-bike company JUMP in April last year, granting it San Francisco operating permits, too.

Seeing a pattern, the SFMTA crafted its Powered Scooter Share Pilot Program with a provision exactly for this scenario. When a company purchases a permitted e-scooter company, SFMTA Director of Transportation Ed Reiskin is empowered to re-evaluate the permit.

Tuesday, he did exactly that…(more)

SF won’t find new Muni leader before current director leaves

By Joe Fitzgerald Rodriguez : sfexaminer – excerpt

Ed Reiskin, the city director in charge of Muni, bike lane planning, street design and parking enforcement officers, is on his way out.

…As a quasi-independent agency, the SFMTA Board of Directors ultimately hires the new SFMTA director, who oversees San Francisco’s streets.

Muni operations are perhaps the most demanding responsibilities on the plate of the SFMTA director, which is partly behind Reiskin’s announced August departure. After a string of tough turns for the agency, including last summer’s service meltdown, a reported culture of harassment, broken train doors on Muni’s new $1.1 billion future fleet, and more, Mayor London Breed ordered the SFMTA to search for a new SFMTA director by August.

While the SFMTA directors are staring down that deadline they’ve already noted that meeting it isn’t realistic… (more)

Uber, Lyft riders find longer waits, backups with new SFO pickup plan

By Carolyn Said : sfchronicle – excerpt

San Francisco International’s new location for ride-hail pickups has left some riders and drivers frustrated when it caused traffic backups leading to longer waits— the exact problems it was supposed to prevent.

The airport diverted ride-hailing pickups to the top floor of the domestic parking garage starting last week, saying the cars were choking its roadways. It redesigned the rooftop level with new striping and several waiting areas for passengers. Uber and Lyft protested the change, particularly since it eliminated a program in which drivers dropping off passengers could immediately get paired with people seeking a ride home…(more)

SFMTA counts this as a victory. They love chaos. That is the thing they are best at. Since when have any of their plans worked to speed buses, protect pedestrians, or improve the flow of traffic? When conditions worsen at the rate they have on SF streets, it is hard to miss the fact that we have the wrong people for the job.

Lyft sues SF over bike-share program

Megan Rose Dickey : tech crunch – excerpt

Lyft is suing the city of San Francisco, claiming that the city is violating its 10-year contract with Lyft that would give the company exclusive rights to operate bike-share programs. San Francisco, however, says the contract does not apply to dockless bike-share, but only station-based bike-share.

In its lawsuit, Lyft is seeking a preliminary injunction or temporary restraining order to prevent the city from issuing permits to operators for stationless bike-share rentals…(more)

People who oppose this claim may want to avoid using Lyft services by riding your own bike.

New SFO Passenger Pick-Up Policy Causing Confusion For Travelers, Uber And Lyft Drivers

By Anne Makovec : cbslocal – excerpt

SAN FRANCISCO (KPIX) – Passengers arriving at SFO’s domestic terminal are being picked up by Uber and Lyft drivers at a new location after a policy change went into effect at the airport earlier this week.

San Francisco International Airport officials announced the plan in late April. The policy that commenced on June 3rd has created some confusion for travelers.

The change has sent all of the ride-hailing app pickups — about 15,000 a day — to one of three locations in the domestic parking garage. There are letters serving as meeting spots for drivers and riders and signs showing the way, in addition to information provided on the apps… (more)

Board of Supervisors Unanimously Approves Steve Heminger to San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency Board of Directors

New Releasefrom Mayor London N. Breed – Tuesday, June 04, 2019

Heminger, who was nominated to the SFMTA Board by Mayor London Breed, is the former head of the Metropolitan Transportation Commission and brings decades of experience in local and regional transportation, which will help guide the search for a new SFMTA Director

San Francisco, CA — The Board of Supervisors today unanimously approved Steve Heminger to serve on the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency (SFMTA) Board of Directors. Heminger previously served as Metropolitan Transportation Commission (MTC) Executive and was nominated to the SFMTA Board of Directors by Mayor London Breed. Heminger will help lead the SFMTA Board in their search for a new Director of Transportation.

“Steve Heminger’s experience at the Metropolitan Transportation Commission and his expertise in transportation policy will support the SFMTA Board’s efforts to improve our public transportation system and make our streets safer for all users,” said Mayor Breed. “The Board has a lot of work ahead of it as they search for a new Director of Transportation, and I am confident that his leadership will help find the right person to lead the SFMTA for years to come.”

Heminger led the MTC for 18 years before retiring earlier this year. He is well-regarded as a transportation expert and brings decades of experience working with the SFMTA and regional transportation partners. During his time at the MTC, he was responsible for administering over $2 billion per year in funding for the operation, maintenance and expansion of the Bay Area’s surface transportation network. Under an interagency agreement with the Association of Bay Area Governments, Heminger and his executive team provided staffing services to that organization as well.

“San Francisco has no shortage of transportation challenges, but I am confident we can improve,” said Heminger. “I thank Mayor Breed for the opportunity to bring my regional experience to bear on making it easier for my fellow residents to move around town.”

Heminger was appointed by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi to serve on the National Surface Transportation Policy and Revenue Study Commission, which helped chart the future course for the federal transportation program. As Chairman of the Toll Bridge Program Oversight Committee, Heminger also oversaw construction of the new East Span of the San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge – at the time, the largest transportation project in California history. He has served as a member of numerous boards of directors over the course of his 35-year career, including for the Transportation Research Board, Mineta Transportation Institute, Association of Metropolitan Planning Organizations, Californians for Better Transportation, and the International Bridge, Tunnel and Turnpike Association.

Heminger received his Master of Arts degree from the University of Chicago and a Bachelor of Arts degree from Georgetown University. His first meeting on the Board of Directors will be on June 18th.

City speeds up approval process for new bike lanes, road safety improvements

By Rachel Swan : sfchronicle – excerpt

With traffic fatalities soaring in San Francisco, transportation officials are ready to scrap the old political process that held up construction of bike lanes and other safety measures.

On Tuesday the city’s main transit board approved a new “quick build” policy, which allows planners at San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency to submit a list of urgent projects, and get them all signed off at once…

The goal: cut through a bureaucratic morass that slowed projects for months — sometimes years. Historically, planners and engineers had to seek legislative approval every time they wanted to change one detail of a project, be it a red zone, or a right turn, or the removal of a parking space. Then came the challenge of securing a construction contract… (more)

SF pays $58,000 for Uber and Lyft rides

By Tim Redmond : 48hills – excerpt

City employees reimbursed for 1,664 rides in the past year with companies that have labor trouble and are trying to destroy public transit — and that violates city policy.

San Francisco spent almost $58,000 in the past year reimbursing city employees for rides on Uber and Lyft, public records show.

Records obtained from the Controller’s Office and the Mayor’s Office under the Sunshine Ordinance show public employees took 1,664 rides with the two “transportation network companies.”

Supervisor Aaron Peskin, who heads the county Transporation Authority, said that paying for Uber and Lyft rides is “counter to the policy that has been set by the Board of Supervisors and the TA.”

The TA, he told me, has consistently refused to spend public money on Uber and Lyft.

In the context of a $12 billion city budget, $57,958 isn’t a big number – but it’s a big deal to the beleaguered taxi industry, which was devastated by illegal Uber and Lyft competition while the city looked the other way.…(more)

Chiu’s bill bans towing vehicles — and it’s not just for people living in them

By Phil Matier : sfchronicle – excerpt

The days of having your car towed for an unpaid ticket or a lapsed registration would be over under a bill just passed by the California State Assembly.

Assemblyman David Chiu wrote Assembly Bill 516, which would bar cities and counties from towing or booting vehicles that have five or more tickets or towing a vehicle whose registration is six months out of date — those are the current standards for towing. Cities would have to pass a specific ordinance to overwrite those rules.

The bill would also bar cities from towing cars and RVs parked for more than 72 hours unless the city passes a local ordinance. City officials say that could damper their efforts to stem the tide of RVs setting up house on streets…

Whatever the case, last week the Assembly agreed with Chiu and approved the bill 49-11, with 20 Assembly members abstaining.

Next stop is the state Senate.

(more)

SF bikeshare fleet set to nearly quadruple — but Lyft is trying to stop it

By Joe Fitzgerald Rodriguez : sfexaminer – excerpt

Bikeshare — everywhere.

That’s the vision for San Francisco’s burgeoning bike rental industry.

The San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency on Tuesday released permit applications for more companies to provide “dockless” or “stationless” bikeshare in The City, citing soaring demand for the service.

The announcement means the number of bikeshare bikes on the street could soon nearly quadruple to 11,000, according to the SFMTA. The agency plans to announce who will be awarded permits by July…

In that April 28 letter, Lyft President and co-founder John Zimmer argued that the company “invested millions of dollars to install bike station infrastructure” that resulted in “losses that were incurred in reliance upon the Grant of Exclusive Rights.”

Zimmer invited SFMTA to a “dispute resolution process” through the Metropolitan Transportation Commission, and asked that “San Francisco refrain from taking actions that would prejudice” those proceedings, including “soliciting or accepting new permit applications from other operators.”… (more)

Why don’t the bike share companies rent some of the empty storefronts that are popping up all over town instead of casually parking them on sidewalks and streets. Just rent some storefronts and act like regular bike rentals. What is the point in having them clutter up the sidewalk when they could rent storefronts and let people drop them there. They will be a lot safer than on the streets.