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

Drivers spend an average of 17 hours a year searching for parking spots

Kevin McCoy : usatoday – exceprt (includes video)

Searching for parking is more painful than ever for U.S. drivers.

Motorists spend an average of 17 hours a year searching for spots on streets, in lots, or in garages, according to a report issued Wednesday.

The hunt adds up to an estimated $345 per driver in wasted time, fuel, and emissions, according to the analysis by INRIX, a leading specialist in connected car services and transportation analytics…

Hunting for parking “imposes significant costs on our pocketbooks that we often don’t think about,” and also adds to (traffic) congestion,” said Bob Pishue, an INRIX transportation analyst and co-author of the report. “This is a problem not only drivers face, but local shops and businesses, too.” … (more)

Thank you Supervisor Yee for requesting a Controller’s analysis of the effect of large street projects on our local businesses, but, do we need more evidence that local businesses are at risk when parking is removed, lanes are reduced and getting round the city is a pain instead of a pleasure?

San Francisco residents need to be put on notice that the anti-parking and cars movement is purposefully being used to kill our local economy in favor of the Amazon jungle SFMTA planners envision for us. According to them we have too many retail businesses. Everybody should shop online and take deliveries. Not that there is a plan for delivery parking either. They were probably planning on sidewalk robots, but, that plan was put on hold to protect the walkers.

Who needs safe streets to walk down when you can put on your army boots and pack your weapon of choice as you stroll down the crowded sidewalk ankle-deep in waste to the street corner. If you are lucky we will picked up by a self-propelled vehicle or make your way up to the roof for the Drone delivery of your lunch. The not so fortunate must make their way to a crowded bus or walk if walking is still free.

This is where we are headed if we continue along the path they have chosen for us. Look at the designs of all the buildings and you can see the plan in action now. What does it take to change this picture? Stay tuned.

The anti-car traffic congestion and parking problems and street obstructions did not happen by accident. This condition was planned and implemented by the people you see and hear from every week at the SFMTA. They are the power brokers who are running the show. You can read their treatise and see exactly how rose to their positions of authority.

Central Subway Is Almost A Year Behind Schedule

: sfist – excerpt

All of San Francisco has been anxiously awaiting the completion of the $1.6 billion Central Subway, and the agonizing construction required to build it. But we’re going to have to wait just a little bit longer. Somewhere in heaven, Rose Pak is rolling her eyes.

The San Francisco Examiner brings us the disappointing news that the Central Subway project is projecting a 10-month delay and no one is willing to fess up to exactly why. Again, if Chinatown power broker, Central Subway enthusiast, and low-key world leader Rose Pak were still among the living, it’d already be open.

Catch up on the Central Subway drama with all of our previous coverage(more)

While a bunch of hard hats argue over who screwed up some pieces of paper, businesses are suffering because a bunch of jack-hammers are blocking their entrances, and everyone else is suffering because construction results in road closures and traffic delays and loud noise and dust. Construction on the Central Subway began in 1783 2012 and was expected to be completed on December 26, 2018. As of the most recent Project Management Oversight Committee monthly report on San Francisco’s albatross, the Central Subway will open on or around November 14, 2019…

If and when it is ever completed, the Central Subway will connect Chinatown with BART and a network of Muni subways. It will also solve world hunger and cure cancer… (more)

The Central Subway is a prime example of San Francisco’s new disruptive architectural form I call “restructionism”. The possibilities are endless. There is no beginning, only an endless effort to keep the project afloat for as long as possible. The artist is in a constant state of frenzied confusion, while everyone tries to guess the next move so they can get out of the way. As some have observed that is a billion-dollars-a-mile tunnel and counting.

RELATED:
San Francisco’s Central Subway Gets Delayed In Chinatown (includes video)

Backpacks On Public Transit: Agencies, Commuters Weigh In

by Saul Sugarman : hoodline – excerpt

We’ve all been there: you’re having a pleasant ride on a Bay Area train or bus, only to get rudely smacked by someone’s bag.

SFMTA and BART officials have received complaints about the problem, but “of course” there is no direct policy to address it, said BART spokeswoman Alicia Trost.

However, her agency has put posters in many BART cars asking riders to please remove their bags and put them between their legs, she noted.

“It is an absolute fact: if everyone took their backpacks off and put their bags between their legs, we could fit more people on our train cars,” Trost said.

Some forthcoming BART cars offer remedies to the bag issue, she added. The agency’s “Fleet Of The Future” cars, a $2.6 billion project set to debut later this year, will have added room underneath seats for passengers to store their bags. And a new extension to Antioch will have cars that have luggage racks… (more)

I heard that schools no longer have lockers so student must carry everything in backpacks. When you force people into contraptions without seats and with no real consideration into what people need to carry with them, you should anticipate a lot of extra stuff on the bus.

When you expect everyone to use public transit for all their errands your virtual reality designs should anticipate a lot of stuff will accompany the passengers.

You must expect a lot of backpacks, baby carriage, grocery bags and luggage, along with the every present bikes and skateboards and every other imaginable personal items that people would normally put in a car or other personal vehicle if they had one to carry their stuff in.

I’ve got an idea for you, instead of having special compartments and special sections for putting the stuff, why don’t you just return the seats to the buses and make sure that everyone can sit comfortably with their stuff in their laps like they used to.

Leave it up to the SFMTA to take a system that works and screw it up!

They are at it again

Letter from a friend about the latest plan to replace a major traffic lane with a bike lane. This time the victims are Oak and Fell streets.

Dear Friends and Neighbors:

SFMTA is considering implementing bike lanes on Fell and Oak along the Panhandle, from Baker through Stanyan.  Attached is a feasibility study contained in a final memorandum dated August 22, 2016 from MTA.

The proposal includes:

·       Moving the parking lanes on the South side of Fell and the North side of Oak away from the Panhandle, and installing one-way bike lanes.  The parking lanes would “float” away from the curb, like those on JFK Drive in Golden Gate Park; people parking wouldn’t have a curb to guide them.

·       Reducing the number of vehicular travel lanes on Fell and Oak from four to three.

·       Bicyclists in the bike lanes wouldn’t be required to stop for red lights at the intersections of Lyon, Central, Ashbury, Clayton, Cole and Shrader – pedestrians crossing Fell and Oak couldn’t rely on the red lights but would have to make sure no cyclist is coming.  Indeed, the ability of cyclists to go fast and not have to stop at traffic signals would be a major attraction of the bike lanes.  (See page 12.)

·       Around 75 of 280 parking spaces on the South side of Fell and North side of Oak along the Panhandle would be removed.  (This would be in addition to the parking spaces being lost on Masonic due to the Masonic project, and those lost in the neighborhood for corporate shuttle buses and car sharing rentals.)

·       Cyclists could continue to use the existing pedestrian/bicycle path in the Panhandle, besides using the new bike lanes.

Another version of the proposal envisions a two-way bike lane along the South side of Fell, and no bike lane along Oak.  This would require removing all parking spaces on the South side of Fell.

These bike lanes are being promoted by North of Panhandle Neighborhood Association (according to its bylaws, its Western boundary is Masonic) and the San Francisco Bicycle Coalition.

I oppose this proposal because I believe it would endanger pedestrians (especially seniors, people with mobility and vision disabilities, small children and those in strollers), increase congestion and pollution, make the shortage of on street parking even worse, and increase conflicts between motorists and cyclists.  I don’t know how far along the proposal is.  I live on Fell and haven’t received any communication from MTA about it.

Instead of this proposal, the existing pedestrian/bicycle path in the Panhandle should be repaved, smoothened, better lit, and, perhaps, widened and otherwise improved.

Tricia Stauber, PRO|SF (Panhandle Residents Organization) Community Coordinator, has put together an online survey.  https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/PndleSurvey
The survey is open until January 12 at 11:30 PM.

To express your opinion to the MTA Board, email:  MTABoard@sfmta.com and Roberta Boomer, Secretary to the Board, Roberta.Boomer@sfmta.com

To express your opinion to Ed Reiskin, SFMTA Director of Transportation, email:  ed.reiskin@sfmta.com

Thank you for considering this email.

Cordially,

 

panhandleprotectedlanes_preliminaryanalysis_final_08222016copy

 

 

 

 

Geary BRT is an expensive pledge to the past

By David Hirtz : sfexaminer – excerpt

Transit planners have been at work for many years to come up with a plan to improve bus service for all of Geary Boulevard, but let’s just talk about the 2.2-mile western portion from Masonic Avenue to 27th Avenue. Planners envision the median there with more than 100 trees replaced by two, red-painted central bus-only lanes for 24 hours a day. Riders would board from narrow platforms in the middle of the roadway, between the bus lanes and other traffic.

Riders are now are accustomed to two levels of service: the infrequently stopping Rapid, and the Local that makes stops every two blocks or so. With only one lane for buses, there will be just one quality of service: Local, as all buses will back up behind the slowest moving one. But Local service will have fewer stops, as statistically that will reduce rider times — even if you have to walk farther to find one.

That certainly won’t save you any rider time if you like the Rapid…

A public-spirited citizens group offered comment to Muni and officials with the San Francisco County Transportation Authority on this project and were summarily dismissed. They then founded San Franciscans for Sensible Transit to advocate for transit issues all over San Francisco. After much study, they support a number of improvements — more buses, better schedules, holding green lights for buses, street paving and others — at a cost of $50 million as a more sensible idea. See what you can get for these proven steps, they say. Their cost-benefit comparisons are on the website of both the Muni-favored version, called the Hybrid, and the Sensible Transit concept…

Our Transit First Policy first requires that all transportation projects ensure the quality of life and economic health of the community. No studies of economic health were done for the planners, who dismiss concerns about quality of life as well. The potential loss of many small businesses and their jobs is also ignored.
A representative of Mayor Ed Lee told Sensible Transit that we already have too much retail at street level…

The SFCTA meets to vote on the project on Jan. 5 at 2 p.m. at room 250 at City Hall. This is the time to find your feet and your voice or prepare to live with a very unfortunate outcome.

David Hirtz is president of San Franciscans for Sensible Transit and a resident of the Richmond neighborhood for 35 years… (more)

Do read the entire article and comment if you can. Letters and your presence at the SFCTA Meeting are appreciated. Sample letter is here: sfsensibletransit.org

Ask the supervisors what they would prefer to spend the $300 million dollars on. Each of them probably has better ideas than destroying more trees and businesses on Geary. Only the SFMTA and their contractors stand to benefit from this nightmare, that already has the makings of a number of lawsuits, starting with the insistence on fast-tricking it, ignoring the 30 days minimum for public review and response to the EIR. Sample letter here:  https://discoveryink.wordpress.com/letters-and-comments/geary-brt/

 

SF red transit lane beloved by riders, but merchants unhappy

By Michael Cabanatuan : sfchronicle – excerpt

San Francisco’s controversial red-painted transit lanes are beloved by many Muni riders, and the city’s transportation planners. But they’re not necessarily here to stay. The crimson lanes are, as the saying goes, only a test.

Results of the test are still being gathered, but federal transportation authorities are expected to rule within months whether the bright-red pavement can stay or whether the city will have to remove it and live with drab but conformist white lane markings and signs.

Officials with the city’s Municipal Transportation Agency gained permission from state and federal authorities in 2012 to color some street pavement red to make transit-only lanes more visible and to try to persuade car and truck drivers to stay out of them. New York and other U.S. cities are also experimenting with red lanes. San Francisco’s are not actually covered in paint, but rather an acrylic pavement treatment applied in sheets.

The New York experiment ended years ago when they failed to gather sufficient data. They also had a problem with double parking. Some of the streets in SF, I believe Church is one of them, are covered with paint and some with the thermoplastic, depending on whether they are concrete or asphalt.

Beginning in 2013, the MTA tested the idea on a short stretch of Church Street before rolling out what it calls “red carpet lanes” on stretches of other thoroughfares where heavy traffic causes delays for transit: Market, Geary, Third, O’Farrell, Haight, Judah and, perhaps most controversially, Mission between 14th and Randall streets.

Geary to Gough is on the list. Mission Street from Embarcadero to 11th Street was on the list.  In 2012, according to meeting minutes, the SFMTA representative specifically stated they would only be applying the test to streets that were currently transit-only lanes and were on the list. This proves, once again, you can’t trust the SFMTA.

In total, 17 San Francisco streets with existing transit-only lanes were approved for the red pavement test, as well as three that didn’t have reserved bus lanes. Not all of the stretches have yet been covered with red.

Anyone want to guess who is next in line?

“We shared our citywide plan with (state and federal officials) and they gave us the green light,” said MTA spokesman Paul Rose…

When and how was the application of the experiment to Mission Street past 11th approved?

This is typical of the SFMTA. Years after they start a process they inform the public. At no time, during any of their many public street design dog-and-pony shows  did they inform the public that they were planning to conduct a Red Lane test on our streets. When some of us discovered the truth of the matter and started to investigate and complain to the state and federal authorities they must have felt compelled to admit it.

We finally have an admission that THIS IS A TEST! THE RED LANES MAY GO AWAY! Where is the explanation for the test? What are they testing? How is the public involved in the test? If you want to know, keep reading and contact the links below.

Some of us went to Sacramento in December and saw first hand how the SFMTA operates. They started by trying to silence the public, claiming the public had no right to go to the state commission. More time went into that debate, (SFMAT lost that arguement.) than the actual presentation and discussion about the test that followed. Guess what? the SFMTA cherry picked a short blocks of two streets in the entire experiment to prove that the tests were being done as required. The analysis presented was more or less inconclusive.

If any one has anything to say about the Red Lane Experiment, NOW IS THE TIME TO DO IT.  If you need help figuring out how to file a complaint, or want to join the fight against the Red Lanes, let us know. Here are two sites that are dealing with the problem and trying to stop the spread of red lanes in San Francisco:   http://www.redcarpetmess.org and http://www.sfsensibletransit.org/

Continue reading

Transit officials offer tweaks to Geary BRT project

By : sfexaminer – excerpt

A major overhaul of how buses and other traffic negotiate Geary Boulevard is set to reach a significant milestone early next year.

The Geary Bus Rapid Transit project, which aims to make buses behave like trains by repurposing a lane of car traffic exclusively for buses, released its final environmental impact report Dec. 9, which may be approved in early January.

Along the way, the project’s planners received thousands of public comments, from fiery verbal lambasting at meetings — where a box filled with paper public comments was stolen, then returned — to online surveys, to meetings with multitudes of community groups…

On Jan. 5, the EIR will go to the SFCTA board for approval. After that, the SFMTA will bring individual elements of the project to neighbors for further public input, which will require individual approvals by the SFMTA Board of Directors to move forward.

Some Geary Boulevard neighbors have asked the SFCTA commission to delay approval of the environmental report so they have more time to read and analyze it.

The San Francisco Chamber of Commerce also sent a letter to the transportation authority asking for the board to delay action on the final EIR until February or early March, and wrote that meeting during the holidays “does not serve the public interest.”

Responding to the request for delay, Supervisor and Transportation Authority Commissioner Eric Mar said, “The significant community outreach done and many community meetings with those in the audience, and staff work, has been years in the making.”.

“There have been endless delays,” he said…(more)

THERE IS NO RUSH! There have been endless delays for good reasons. Each time there is a delay, the public has more time to suggest a better plan. Already many of their suggestions have been incorporated into this project and more alterations are needed on the Geary BRT. There is a sensible much cheaper plan supported by the public.

Who is rushing to approve the SFMTA $350 million dollar plus Geary BRT Hybrid Plan when there is a much cheaper version that will save the taxpayers up to $300 million? Who is rushing to approve more money for the SFMTA?

This is the department has bungled the design at Glen Park twice and still hasn’t gotten it right yet. The buses are getting hung up on the curbs.

This is the department that is planning to cut service and raise rates for cash-paying riders, and remove seats from the new faster-moving buses, so that Muni riders will be forced to walk further and stand instead of sit as they speed along city streets on public transit vehicles.

This is the department that lost the sales tax increase that included $100 million dollars for the Geary BRT.

This is the department that needs to be put on a cash diet before it eats the rest of the businesses on Mission, Van Ness, Polk, and Geary.This is the department that can’t figure out how to balance Ubers with taxis and the rest of the traffic mess and will eventually be out teched out by self-driving cars.

This is the department that wants to tell our fire department to buy smaller vehicles to run on narrow streets that do not meet state standard widths.

The emergency responders are getting caught up in the traffic mess.

This is the department that just “discovered” the large number of Ubers on our streets that the rest of us have known about for months. They probably needed to conduct an expensive study to “find” them and prove they exist. We just looked around and figured it out for ourselves.I could go on, but you get the idea.

Stop the SFMTA: Write letters to request a delay and show up if you can to protest in person. Sample letter is here: https://discoveryink.wordpress.com/letters-and-comments/geary-brt/

Meeting details:

Scheduled for Wednesday, January 4, 6:00 PM, SFCTA, 1455 Market St., 22nd Floor: The Geary BRT Citizens Advisory Committee will vote to support certification of the Geary BRT Environmental Impact Report (EIR). More info: http://www.sfcta.org/geary-bus-rapid-transit-citizens-advisory-committee-january-4-2017

Scheduled for Thursday, January 5, 2:00 PM, Room 250, City Hall: SF Supervisors, as board members of the SF Transportation Authority, will vote to certify the Geary BRT EIR  (2nd item)  More Info: http://www.sfcta.org/special-board-january-5-2017

 

 

Retired San Francisco Public Works Chief’s Opposition to Geary BRT (Red Carpet)

Why I Oppose the Geary Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) System (The “Red Carpet”)

The Municipal Transportation Agency (MTA or “Muni”) proposes to spend $300M to tear up the median along Geary Boulevard and construct two “buses only” lanes painted red (the “red carpet”) down the middle of the street. The 120 trees planted in the median would be removed. Angle parking would be replaced by parallel parking. Why?

The City’s “Fact Sheet” says the Bus Rapid Transit Project will:

  • “Improve bus travel times and on-time performance”
  • “Improve safety and access for all users”
  • “Enhance neighborhood livability and community vitality”

Really?

Travel time. Muni wants to speed buses through downtown. That works. Then they want to slow them down between Van Ness and Masonic. Why? And then City staff admitted that west of 25th Avenue, the project will cost $18M and MAY save ONE MINUTE. Does MTA have too much money?

On-time performance. In the Richmond District, the buses will run in a slot down Geary Boulevard, one behind another. If one bus is delayed, there is no room for other buses to pass. Express buses will be eliminated – all buses will make all stops. If your idea of on-time performance is no buses for twenty minutes, followed by six buses in a row, then welcome to today’s Muni.

Safety. Muni’s “Vision Zero” presentation shows 6 accidents per year in the 48 block Richmond District. When I worked for the city I managed a study of high accident intersections. Geary Boulevard in the Richmond NEVER made the “Top 100” most dangerous intersections. This argument is bogus.

Access for all users. Eliminating some bus stops would make the elderly and handicapped travel farther to reach a bus stop. Bicycles are banned from the buses only lanes, even when the lanes are at the edge of the street. How does this improve access for all users?

Neighborhood livability. Start by tearing out 120 trees. Put narrow concrete medians in the middle where an occasional stick tree can be planted (“one-for-one replacement”). Remove most angle parking forcing shoppers to double park or circle the block and park in front of residences, “temporarily” blocking driveways, but it’s ok, City dwellers shouldn’t own cars anyway.

Community vitality. Provide a red painted concrete slot through a vibrant community commercial district. Then change the zoning so that Geary can look like Van Ness. Then remove parking spaces causing small businesses to fail. (Merchants along Mission Street report a drop in sales of as much as 1/3 since their “red carpet’ went in.) But that’s ok, because a City staff person said “everyone knows there’s too much retail in San Francisco anyway”. After all, you can always shop on Amazon.

Still feel like spending $300M of your tax dollars? I don’t.

Vitaly B. Troyan, PE
Chief, Public Works Bureau of Engineering (ret)

from redcarpetmess.org

Sign the petition and support our efforts to Stop the Spread of Red.

Effort ramps up to save historic Van Ness Avenue street lamps from Muni

By : sfexaminer -examiner

Former Mayor Willie Brown has joined in the fray over the controversial removal of historic street lamps along Van Ness Avenue to make way for a bus rapid transit project.

Those 224 street lamps were first constructed in 1915 for the Panama Pacific International Exposition. Now they may be cleared out sometime this fall for the construction of the Van Ness Bus Rapid Transit project, which aims to speed up Muni service in that corridor.

“As the mayor who took charge of much of the restoration of our glorious, iconic City Hall, where San Francisco’s history and character are honored and remembered daily by those who work and visit here, I cannot imagine Van Ness Avenue without its historic street lamps,” Brown said in a statement.

That issue may come to a head today at a community meeting hosted by the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency on the Van Ness BRT project, as well as Polk Street improvements.

No decisions will be made, but those opposing the lamps’ removal —including Supervisor Aaron Peskin — promised to make their voices heard.

“I think we can improve our city transportation system without sacrificing our historical resources. These things are not mutually exclusive,” said Peskin…(more)