Congressman denounces Bay Area toll hike for transit

By Matier & Ross : sfchronicle – excerpt

Night-Bridge

Twilight on the Bay Bridge photo by zrants

East Bay Rep. Mark DeSaulnier has been back home and getting an earful about the situation in Washington — but it was the proposed ballot measure to raise tolls on the state’s Bay Area bridges to help fund transit projects that got his blood boiling…

The measure — which would raise tolls by $2 to $3 — is being put together by a collection of Bay Area legislators. It’s expected to generate about $125 million for a slew of road and mass transit improvements throughout the nine-county region…

DeSaulnier is not alone. State Sen. Steve Glazer, D-Orinda, is raising questions about how the money would be spent, as is Assemblywoman Catharine Baker, R-San Ramon.

Other East Bay officials, whose constituents would pay the bulk of the toll increase, have said they’ll support the measure only if more projects are added to the goody list in Alameda and Contra Costa counties…(more)

Why not move the jobs to the housing? Would that not be a cheaper less painful solution for the folks living in the suburbs? With so many creative ideas coming out of Sacramento you would think they could figure that one out. Why not just spread the wealth and political power? Cut their commutes and commute traffic around the coast cities at the same time. After the floods in the Gulf coast you might want to think twice about building huge cities at sea level.

Uber’s latest feature shows how badly it wants to replace owning a car

By  : techinsider – excerpt

Uber is experimenting with a ride option through its app that gives morning commuters a cheaper fare for longer trips into San Francisco.

For people in the areas of Palo Alto, Mountain View, and San Jose, Uber is offering rates of $20-$26 for rides into San Francisco between the times of 6 and 10 a.m. during weekdays. The fare is set ahead of time, which means it won’t be susceptible to surge pricing like normal Uber rides.

The cheaper fare is made possible through Uber Pool, the latest ride option in the app that splits the cost of a trip between multiple passengers traveling along a similar route. Uber Pool launched in New York City this past summer, and the company says the feature “guarantees you a cheaper fare” and “only adds a few minutes to your trip.”

For the new Pool to SF option, Uber charges an additional $10 per passenger, the cost of which can be split between friends through the app…

“If we can make Uber cheaper than owning a car, look at all the great things that happen: you no longer have parking problems in San Francisco,” he said. “You no longer have congestion because half of the riders in San Francisco are in an Uber Pool, which is kind of amazing.”… (more)

      Kind of amazing when you can convince a lot of people to buy your service and make you rich so you can buy more influence and power. No thank you!

Bay Bridge builder in black despite penalties

Report: Report: California’s drivers are the nation’s most stressed

By Gary Richards : contracostatimes – excerpt

California’s improved economy has brought commutes to an unprecedented slowdown from one end of the state to the other, making drivers here the most stressed out in the nation.

A nationwide report released late Tuesday found that motorists in California’s congested population centers spend nearly two work weeks a year stuck in creep-and-crawl traffic — nearly double the national average.

According to the Texas A&M Transportation Institute and a West Coast traffic organization called Inrix, which surveyed traffic on 471 urban streets and highways across the country, an estimated $160 billion is lost annually in wasted fuel, lost income and lost time across the country while motorists cling to a steering wheel instead of a computer mouse.

The worst area is Washington, D.C., at 82 hours of lost time, but the top 10 is a roadmap from Northern California to Southern California: Los Angeles comes in No. 2 with 80 hours of delays, followed by San Francisco-Oakland with 78, New York at 74 and the San Jose area at 67. Riverside rounds out the top 10 at 59. Compare that to the national average of a measly 42 hours.

The California numbers have jumped five hours since 2010 and are expected to steadily creep higher over the next several years.

A number of solutions are in the works to ease some of the gridlock and encourage solo commuters to carpool or take public transit to work: Later this year BART will open a new line to the Santa Clara County border, a “Smart Highway” project on Interstate 80 from Richmond to the Bay Bridge will offer route alternatives, and the Interstate 880 carpool lane will be extended south of Oakland. Double carpool lanes are planned for Highways 85 and 101, and Interstate 580 in the Tri-Valley will get those plus express lanes… (more)

The three pronged approach sounds like what got us where we are. The only new idea is to stagger the work hours. At the rate we are robotizing jobs there won’t be many left soon anyway. All we will do is sit at home and wait for delivery. Stop removing traffic lanes and eliminating parking and you can clean up the traffic much faster. In fact, just replace all the lanes you removed and all the parking you took out and we would be much better off.

You can start spending the money on maintaining the fleet of municipal vehicles you have and quit hiring managers to clog things up. Fire the entire complete streets crew that is moving mature trees from the side of the street on Van Ness to the middle of the street, and putting in a BRT in the middle of the street. That little project is designed to make a lot of wealthy contractors more wealthy and cost the taxpayer billions of dollars while clogging the major North South state highway that connect s the Federal Freeways through San Francisco for years. Nothing they are planning will relieve the traffic.

SFCTA to Test Variable Road Pricing on Treasure Island

by  : sf.streetsblog – excerpt

Treasure Island will serve as San Francisco’s proving grounds for road pricing that adjusts in response to traffic conditions, as the city looks to minimize Bay Bridge car congestion generated by residents expected to move to the development site.

When the first housing units on the man-made mid-bay island, formerly owned by the Navy, are occupied in 2019, the SF County Transportation Authority plans to implement a fee to use the Bay Bridge ramps to drive on and off the island. The fee would rise and fall in response to car congestion as well as transit service, which would be dramatically increased with new Muni and AC Transit lines, as well as a new ferry line to SF that would launch in 2021.

As the “car-light” development adds 8,000 residents by 2030, SFCTA planner Rachel Hiatt said the agency’s goal is for at least 50 percent of trips on and off the city-owned island to be taken by surface transit or ferry.

The proposed tolls would apply from 6 a.m. to 10 p.m., seven days a week. From 2019 until 2021 (pre-ferry service), the toll would be $1 during off-peak hours, and $3 during peak hours (which have yet to be determined). Those rates would increase to $3 and $5 after 2021, when ferry service will be introduced.

Livable City Director Tom Radulovich said that the tolls will need to be high enough to keep traffic moving on the Bay Bridge, which doesn’t have bus-only lanes on its main stretch. The SFCTA is also banking on the toll revenue to fund much of the new transit service and incentive programs to encourage island residents to get around without driving.

“It’s imperative that we protect the transbay transit service,” said Radulovich, “because we’re going to need to rely more and more on it as San Francisco’s developing and not investing in more BART capacity.”

In a presentation [PDF] last week, Hiatt told an SFCTA committee comprised of city supervisors that the agency recommends providing free transit passes for many residents, a free shuttle, and abundant car-share that’s provided at a discount for low-income households. The agency also plans to limit and charge for all parking spaces, and envisions Bay Area Bike Share on the island… (more)

Hope all you who voted against Prop L are happy now that the SFMTA is taking over the city streets. They have no restraint until someone restrains them.

Plan Moves Ahead to Ease Congestion and Allow Bikes on Richmond-San Rafael Bridge

By 2017, if all goes according to plan, people will be able to bike and walk across the upper deck of the 5.5-mile Richmond-San Rafael Bridge, an idea that bike advocates have been pushing for nearly 40 years.

“It’s exciting to finally see this project moving forward,” says Renee Rivera, executive director of Bike East Bay. “There will be so many new opportunities that open up by having bicycle and pedestrian access to the bridge.”

A Bay Area Toll Authority committee Wednesday approved $4.6 million for a contractor, HNTB Corp., to draw up a final design, which includes converting a shoulder into a third vehicle lane on the lower deck to ease congestion and delays for eastbound drivers.

The new path will fill a major gap in the Bay Trail, a 330-mile network of bicycle and pedestrian paths that will some day grow to 500 miles, and wrap around the entire bay, across all eight bridges.

Five bridges are currently accessible by bike and foot, although the Bay Bridge path currently stops before Yerba Buena Island. Officials at the Metropolitan Transportation Commission are studying building a path across the western span to San Francisco, but say it’s still many years away… (more)

Where is the plan to pay for any of this when everyone gets ride of their cars and starts riding bikes? When the state starts licensing bikes and developing revenue from them they should use that revenue to develop bike lanes on bridges.

Bridge panel votes to keep rods, bolts in place on eastern span

By Jaxon Van Derbeken : sfgate – excerpt

A Bay Bridge oversight panel voted Friday to leave more than 2,000 potentially problematic rods and bolts in place on the new eastern span, rejecting a metallurgist’s attack on the $20 million testing program that vouched for their safety as unmerited.

The unanimous decision by the three-member Toll Bridge Program Oversight Committee appears to lay to rest one of the biggest uncertainties hanging over the $6.4 billion project — whether hundreds of the steel fasteners will have to be replaced at toll-payers’ expense.

After 32 high-strength, galvanized rods broke in March 2013, Caltrans created a testing program to determine whether the remaining zinc-coated fasteners on the bridge were similarly at risk.

The rods and bolts anchor the bridge’s main cable to the road deck, secure it to the top of the tower and hold down structures designed to keep the bridge from swaying excessively in an earthquake… (more)

32 cracked so far. We know the design is not approved and now we get the message that the rest of the rods that are sitting in water corroding don’t need to be replaced? Who can you trust to build and maintain our bridges these days?

Can we get the names of the the three-members on the  Toll Bridge Program Oversight Committee?

Which is more important? Keeping the decorative lights on the bridge or making the bridge safe?

RELATED:
Latest defect: Bay Bridge tower rods sitting in water

The SFMTA Wants to Remove Ever More Parking from Folsom Street: Presenting the Folsom-Essex Bikeway “Improvement” Project

Here it is, via the Rincon Hill Blog, it’s  the “Folsom-Essex Bikeway Improvement Project.”

Speaking as somebody with more hours, years, decades and miles on bikes in San Francisco County than any SFMTA Livable Streets person or SFMTA Project Manager or, really, anybody at the sainted SFMTA (with the possible exception of one or two $25 an hour interns that they might have recently hired on), many times what the SFMTA calls an IMPROVEMENT actually doesn’t turn out to be an improvement.

But at that point, the SFMTA becomes seemingly powerless to fix its mistakes, oh well.

Anyway, the project manager behind this effort doesn’t care – all s/he cares about is pushing this thing through. If the project gets approved, that’s success and if it doesn’t, that’s failure. It’s as simple as that…

A public hearing on this project will be held on Friday, June 20th at  10:00 AM in City Hall, Room 416.

Please contact Ellen Robinson of the SFMTA at (415) 701-4322 or Ellen.Robinson@sfmta.com with any questions or comments.”… (more)

I think removal of parking lanes is the least of their worries with this hair-brained scheme. Right turns are the most dangerous for cyclists so let’s force right turns in front of thousands of cars trying to get on the Bay Bridge during rush hour. Somebody needs a new job.

Peak-hour tolls have little effect on Bay Bridge congestion

Phillip Matier And Andrew Ross : sfgate – excerpt

Four years after its implementation, the $6 toll to curb rush-hour traffic on the Bay Bridge appears to be having little, if any, effect on easing the peak-hour backup on the morning commute.

In fact, if a recent weeklong snapshot of the morning rush hour taken by the Metropolitan Transportation Commission is any indication, the number of peak-hour commuters has grown to 9,000 cars per hour, which is just about the limit of what the bridge can handle.

Between April 28 and May 2, 117,059 cars and trucks passed through the Bay Bridge toll gates during the morning peak hours – an 8,949 increase over the average weekly commute before “congestive pricing” was implemented in 2010.

Under the new pricing strategy, commuters are charged $2 more between the hours of 5 a.m. and 10 a.m.

The off-hour price has stayed at $4 – a $2 savings.

The idea was to encourage drivers to cross at nonpeak hours.

The snapshot, however, shows that the increased traffic, brought on by the better economy, has remained at its old pattern – hitting 8,500 cars per hour by 6 a.m. and peaking between 6 and 8 a.m. at about 9,000 cars per hour.

Just as it did before congestive pricing.

Whatever the case, the rush-hour backups aren’t likely to go away anytime soon.

Nor is the congestive pricing – which was intended to provide relief.

“We still want to incentivize people to use the bridge on the off peak,” said MTC spokesman Randy Rentschler.

Only, in this case, the real incentive might be to just beat the inevitable backup… (more)

Even Bay Bridge Bike Path Was Overbudget, Flawed

By Chris Roberts : nbcbayarea – excerpt

Not even the bikes get a break.
The cost overruns, design flaws and faulty materials that have plagued the new Bay Bridge’s $6.4 billion eastern span also extend to the two-mile long bike path, according to the San Francisco Chronicle.
Problems with the railings on either side of the bike path — which today stops short of its future terminus on Yerba Buena Island; it is not slated to be completed until 2016 — were found in 2007 and 2008, the newspaper reported…
An extra $3.8 million was spent on fixing the problem — but one expert said that the headaches with the bike path are more proof that the bridge has not been built properly…
Caltrans inspector Greg Roth documented all the problems with the bridge, the newspaper reported, including emergency access gates which didn’t open properly, and flawed parts anchoring the fences….
These were determined “design flaws,” which meant the contractors did not need to fix them, the newspaper reported. This, Roth said, “displayed a total disregard” in fixing the problems.
Caltrans assures the public that the problems have been fixed and that the bike path is safe… (more)