$3 toll hike plan has Bay Area politicos dueling for dollars

By Matier & Ross : sfchronicle – excerpt


Traffic streaming across the Bay Bridge into San Francisco on a weekend evening. photo by zrants.

East Bay officials are threatening to oppose a regional ballot measure calling for a toll increase of as much as $3 on area bridges unless they get a bigger cut of the pie — and that’s triggered some last-minute political wheeling and dealing to get everyone on board with the transportation initiative.

“We are talking about an extra $700 a year,” Orinda Vice Mayor Amy Worth said of her suburban constituents.“These are working people who use the bridges to get to their jobs.”

Worth, who as a member of the Metropolitan Transportation Commission has a say in how transit dollars are allocated, has some prominent company in questioning how the proposed ballot measure is being put together. State Sen. Steve Glazer, an Orinda Democrat, and GOP Assemblywoman Catharine Baker of San Ramon say BART in particular needs to be well policed if it’s going to be trusted with millions of additional toll dollars.

“The current proposal falls well short,” said Glazer, who has been on a one-man crusade against BART ever since a pair of 2013 strikes at the transit agency made life miserable for riders in Orinda and everywhere else in the East Bay…

Beall said lawmakers have about two weeks to reach a deal if the measure is to make the ballot next year. Whatever eventually lands there probably has a decent chance of passing, regardless of whether the East Bay officials endorse it… (more)

Sunset Tunnel’s crumbling interior may end $19 million renovation

The cost of building San Francisco’s Sunset Tunnel has just grown by $3 million more, after the discovery of a crumbling interior inside the tunnel has the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency doling out even more money to see if the project is salvageable.

The Sunset Tunnel tracks for the N-Line were built in 1928 and are now used for the city’s N-Judah light-rail vehicles.

A report from the SFMTA has found that the during the tunnel’s renovation last winter, the conduit began to crumble and exposed “live feeder cables,” adding that there is a “high probability of hidden damages” that might cause the Muni to stop operating in the location for good… (more)

Looks like SFMTA has more important things to do than they can keep track of. Why are they spending money on Red Lanes and BRTs when they need to shore up tunnels and bridges? It boggles the mind sometimes where the priorities lie. If they can’t take care of this problem a lot more people will start driving again.

Meet the SF man responsible for more than a quarter of all tech bus complaints

By Joe Fitzgerald Rodriguez :  SFExaminer – excerpt

Edward Mason is on the hunt, and his target is the elusive tech bus.

But Mason does not seek out his prey merely once. Instead, he catches the gleaming metal vehicles in the act of violating city rules on the “Commuter Shuttle Program,” repeatedly…

Employees of many tech companies hire commuter buses between San Francisco and Silicon Valley, which weave in and out of city neighborhoods to pick up employees.

Tech workers defend the shuttles, and often say Caltrain is too full to use in a Silicon Valley commute. Tech workers frequently say in meetings that the shuttles take many cars off the road…

A pilot program to monitor and regulate shuttle use began in August 2014, and that’s when Mason began his hunt. He’s been enormously effective…

Overall, Mason has provided information on commuter shuttles 282 times, according to the SFMTA.

Mason’s emails detail scores of infractions, including a shuttle idling in a narrow street it’s not allowed in, shuttles staging in Muni stops, shuttles blocking access to Muni buses, incorrect permit decals, incorrect license plates and more.

“The plan says buses are supposed to avoid deep and narrow streets,” he said, “but what else is there in San Francisco?”…(more)

Well-Paid SFMTA Employee, Andy Thornley), Proposes Limiting “Access” on JFK Drive – Westbound Travel Banned, 15 MPH Speed Limit

sfcitizen – excerpt

…(A pay package of about $130k a year (TCOE – Total Cost of Employee), well that’s pretty well-paid for a low-stress job, non? It’s not like being a coal miner or anything. Correct me if I’m way off on this, of course.)

This proposal certainly would reduce traffic, overall, by a very slight amount. It would also increase westbound traffic on Fulton, and Lincoln too I suppose, by a significant amount…


Fix JFK Drive

Posted by Andy Thornley 32.20sc on July 28, 2016

It’s time to civilize Golden Gate Park roads : Golden Gate Park is San Francisco’s crown jewel of public open space and everyone’s backyard. The eastern portion of JFK Drive in Golden Gate Park has enjoyed a marvelous state of car-free happiness and harmony on Sundays for the past 49 years, as well as Monday holidays for the past 29 years. Parking-buffered bike lanes help to tame JFK Drive between Stanyan Street and Transverse Drive on the other days of the week.

However, it’s been clear for a long time that the western extent of JFK Drive in Golden Gate Park needs serious intervention to make if safe and welcoming for bicycle traffic, for people of all ages and abilities. There’s no separated space for bicycles and the roadway is a hilly winding slalom course, and motor traffic often speeds along carelessly, bullying bike traffic, or worse…(more)

Andy is running for Supervisor in District One. So far Sandra Lee Fewer is winning that race. Maybe Andy’s lack of popularity stems from his radical anti-car approach. People in the Richmond like their life the way it is and don’t appreciate the disruption his department is thrusting on us.  The last thing we need is Andy on the board.

If you have any parking complaints, Andy is the person you need to reach out to after you file a 311 complaint.  Details here: https://metermadness.wordpress.com/sfpark-compaints/


Bay Area traffic ignites backlash against boom, new poll suggests

by George Avalos : eastbaytimes – excerpt

“Beat L.A.” is a familiar refrain in Bay Area sports, but it now appears Northern California is on its way to being a rival for Southern California in an unwelcome fashion: traffic jams

Residents in the Bay Area have become discouraged about the heavy traffic in the region, with a dramatically expanding number of them indicating that traffic is worse than a year ago amid a huge surge in the local economy, a new poll released Friday by the Bay Area Council suggests.

“Bay Area residents are frustrated about traffic,” said Ruth Bernstein, senior principal with EMC Research, a firm that conducts market and opinion research. “It’s harder for them to get around. We definitely are seeing a backlash against the economic boom.”

Yet the traffic itself is but a symptom of what is going on rather than a cause, said Christopher Thornberg, principal executive with Beacon Economics

“It’s harder to get around, and it is harder to find transportation access and also access to housing,” Bernstein said…

“We’re running out of adjectives to describe how bad Bay Area traffic is and the misery it’s causing,” said Jim Wunderman, president and CEO of the Bay Area Council. “We understand residents’ aggravation with traffic, but we’re not giving up on the problem.”

Contact George Avalos at 408-859-5167. Follow him at Twitter.com/georgeavalos... (more)

Public Works to crack down on illegal Chariot signs

By sfexaminer – excerpt

Sandwich boards stationed at sidewalks across San Francisco by shuttle company Chariot are illegal and must be removed.

That’s according to the San Francisco Department of Public Works, which after inquiries from the San Francisco Examiner said dozens of such boards across The City placed by Chariot are unpermitted.

“Chariot has no permits with us for A-Frames,” said Rachel Gordon, a spokesperson for Public Works. A-Frames are the technical term for sandwich boards.

After the Examiner’s inquiry, Gordon said the agency has sent out an inspector to investigate the boards. She added, “We’ll send a corrective order,” about one of the boards on Pine Street downtown.

But Chariot has many more boards erected every morning in neighborhoods all over San Francisco, and those may also be illegal, according to Public Works.

Gordon said the fine for erecting these boards unpermitted is $300, and Chariot could be fined individually for every board it has on city streets.

Beyond the sandwich boards, one city resident, Sue Vaughan, who also serves on the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency Citizens Advisory Committee, said Chariot repeatedly violates parking zones and public bus-only lanes… (more)

Masonic Streetscape Project To Break Ground In June

by R. A. Schuetz : sf.streetsblog – exccerpt

In June 2013, funding to redesign Masonic Avenue from Fell to Geary was approved, after years of outreach by the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency (SFMTA) and community organizing both for and against the project. Now, the construction, originally forecast to begin last May, is finally preparing break ground in June. It’s expected to last until late 2017…

The contract for the project was awarded to Shaw Pipelines for $18.3 million. Including soft costs and construction support, the project will cost a total of $26.1 million.

One of the major concerns for residents was the removal of 167 parking spaces on Masonic, to accommodate the raised bike lane, widened sidewalks, and enhanced bus stops. But before construction begins in June, 22 new back-in angled parking spaces will be added on Turk Street between Baker and Central.

According to the SFMTA, “Changes on some other streets under consideration are on hold, given operational and technical concerns expressed by members of the community and the San Francisco Fire Department.”…

The reason we are posting this story that ran in March is to emphasize the fact that there are technical as well as political issues involved in the pause in implementation  of the Masonic project. There may also be some litigation.

There are three important things to look at here, the number one being the “operational and technical concerns expressed by… the Fire Department. that effect emergency services. Quite a number of people from Planning Commissioners to Supervisors, to Federal representatives have voiced concern about the major traffic snarls in the city and some of them are addressing the issue of health and safety where the ability of emergency vehicles to transverse the city fast in emergency situations.

The SFMTA plans to slow traffic on Lombard, Van Ness, Masonic, 16th Street, Mission Street, Folsom, Potrero and Cesar Chavez. How is anyone supposed to get across town fast in an emergency situation? How can ambulances access hospitals?

We know there are slowdowns and there may have already been lawsuits over these delays. A lot of cases are settled against the SFMTA and the city all the time that are not covered in the press. We also know that the SFMTA and DPW have been required to fix some of the technical mistakes they have made in curb designs and bulbouts that effect the ability of their MUNI buses and other large vehicles to turn. Removing and narrowing the lanes is a major problem.There are state laws that specify lanes widths that are being ignored or excused on state streets.

Our city government is hard at work trying to change some of those laws. Using our city streets and SF citizens as guinea pigs under the guise of pilot programs is one way the SFMTA attempts to skirt state laws and regulations. We will be looking into this later.

Money is a big issue this year. SFMTA claims they can do more with less, even though they are broke. We have seen no record on how much these mistakes are costing or how these errors are being paid for. Where on the budget do we find these fixes?

Stay turned for an OpEd that will attempt to take these matter into account as we go into the budget period in which the Mayor has asked all departments to cut back, due to a shortage of revenue this year.


225 California transportation projects in trouble

By Gary Richards : contracostatimes – excerpt

Californians are paying less in gas taxes, and much less at the pump, as oil prices have plummeted. While that may pad drivers’ wallets, the result could be what officials are calling a “catastrophic” impact on the Golden State’s highways and city streets.

The combined loss in state transportation revenue — more than $1.1 billion — has put high-profile improvement projects at risk of being canceled or facing delays that could stretch for years.

About 225 shovel-ready transportation projects across the state are threatened this year, including the Interstate 680-Highway 4 widening near Antioch, the Willow Road-Highway 101 upgrade in Menlo Park and the planned Highway 1 widening in Santa Cruz…

Caltrain electrification hits funding snag: Sale of high-speed rail bonds delayed, could affect local improvements

…Caltrain CEO Jim Hartnett said the state and High-Speed Rail Authority are not on track on selling part of the nearly $10 billion in bonds this spring, which could have put $600 million in the hands of locals as early as July…

Big projects will be pushed back, but everybody is going to feel this, especially when the big potholes in front your house don’t get filled.”

Why is the state in this predicament?

Unlike past funding cuts, local agencies are being warned that some work will be canceled and not just delayed.

Soon there will be a pilot program to charge volunteer drivers by the number of miles they travel instead of taxing their gas purchases. But it could be years before it begins to raise significant dollars... (more)

How are they going to do this?



Uber and Lyft: Friend or Foe in the Battle for Livable Streets?

by : sf.streetsblog – excerpt

UberPOOL, which gives Uber customers discounts to share rides, launched about a year and a half ago in San Francisco. Uber is now rolling the service out to the East Bay.

UberPOOL is more affordable because the cost of the trip is shared. The fare per trip is set at up to 50 percent cheaper than UberX during commuting hours (7-10 a.m. and 5-8 p.m.) and up to 25 percent cheaper every other time–whether Uber pairs you up with another passenger or not.

Lyft Line, of course, is the equivalent service from Uber’s competitor. By combining trips, both should reduce congestion–that is, if one goes with the theory that car sharing services pull people away from single occupancy, privately owned cars. But what if they’re pulling people away from transit, walking and cycling?

There are certainly some conveniences, and even some benefits of ride-hail. So far, however, the data demonstrates that overall, ride-hail is adding vehicles to our streets,” said Nicole Ferrara, Executive Director of Walk San Francisco. “For those companies that are telling us otherwise, I say, show me the data!”.

A study from the University of California, Berkeley, seems to support Ferrara’s conclusions. According to a survey that was part of the study, over 40 percent of ride-hail customers said they would have walked, biked or taken transit. Survey questions were asked of ride-hail customers right as they got out of an Uber or Lyft. A previous Streetsblog post, looking at Uber’s impact in Manhattan, seems to support the claim that Uber generates more vehicle miles, more congestion and, one can extrapolate, more pollution…(more)

Not to mention the fact that many Uber and Lyft drivers do not live in SF but commute here from long distances to drive around all day waiting for a call. That adds to the number of single user cars and long distance commuters on the road. Of course this problem and many others, such as the Shuttle buses, could be solved by establishing multi-use transit parking garage hubs near freeways and bridges on the outskirts of SF. We are advocating for that solution.

San Francisco Considers Tearing Down Interstate 280 Extension for High Speed Rail, Caltrain

By Jean Elle : nbcbayarea – excerpt – video

The planning department said removing the freeway extension would free up space for housing and offices.

San Francisco is considering tearing down the Interstate 280 extension to get Caltrain and high speed rail into downtown. City officials said that portion of the freeway would turn into a boulevard, while tracks are built underground.

Residents opposing the plan jam packed a meeting late Tuesday in Potrero Hill to share their concerns. Some residents call the I-280 extension north of Mariposa Street a “vital line” that should not be torn down… (more)