U.S. Transportation department executive approved grant days before taking job with rail contractor

By Ralph Vartabedian : latimes – excerpt

A top Obama administration executive at the U.S. Department of Transportation approved a $647-million grant for a California rail project in mid-January and less than two weeks later went to work for a Los Angeles-based contractor involved in the project, The Times has learned.

The grant provides a significant part of the money required to install a $2-billion electrical power system on the Bay Area’s Caltrain commuter rail system, allowing the rail to retire its diesel locomotives.

The power equipment will eventually be used by the state’s bullet train from Los Angeles to San Francisco, making it a critical part of the $64-billion program. The California High-Speed Rail Authority has pledged about $713 million to help install the system, according to state records.

The grant was handled by Carolyn Flowers, the acting chief of the Federal Transit Administration.  Flowers announced the grant approval in a letter, dated Jan. 18,  to congressional leaders. The Times obtained a copy of the letter…

Thirteen days later, Flowers went to work for Aecom, a Los Angeles-based engineering firm. The company news release announcing her hiring says she will head its North American transit practice. Aecom provides program management services to Caltrain for the electrification project, according to Caltrain documents. It was formerly a regional consultant to the high-speed rail project as well.

On Friday, the federal transit agency said it had “deferred” a decision on the grant and said it would look at the matter in the next federal budget cycle. The decision may be an early sign of the Trump administration’s view of the bullet train project. The line is already under construction and will need significant federal funding moving forward.

The delay follows a letter from every Republican member of the California House delegation to Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao, asking that the grant be put off until an audit of the high-speed rail project is completed.
This is exactly what America hates about Washington, D.C… (more)

Don’t they call this the revolving door?

Carolyn Flowers-letter to congress 
Caltrain and High Speed Rail and FTA funding – Revolving Door Shenanigans

Transit director: ‘Unknown’ if Trump threat to federal funding will hurt Muni, SF streets

By : sfexaminer – excerpt

The recent win of President-elect Donald Trump has sent sanctuary cities into a scramble, with San Francisco agencies asking: Will Trump cut major funds for San Francisco?

The question gained real gravity after Trump pledged to cut funding from sanctuary cities across the U.S., who aim to shield undocumented immigrants from federal agents. Mayor Ed Lee declared last week that San Francisco would remain a sanctuary city.

San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency Director of Transportation Ed Reiskin told his employees in a mass email Wednesday that threats to Muni’s funding are “unknown.”

In the email, which Reiskin sent Wednesday morning as a post-election message to his staff, he outlined potential peril. “We do receive a considerable amount of federal funds as part of our capital budget,” he wrote.

That funding comes in the form of grants disbursed by the Metropolitan Transportation Commission, in part, and is the basis for most all of the SFMTA’s capital projects, such as the Central Subway in Chinatown or the proposed Bus Rapid Transit routes on Geneva, Geary and Van Ness avenues… (more)

Good time to write the federal representatives and let them know how you feel about these projects. DOT contacts: TBD

U.S. DOT Adopts Vision Zero

by Elana Eden : planetizen – excerpt

“With this campaign, we’re making clear that zero is the only acceptable number of deaths on our roads.”

The U.S. Department of Transportation announced October 5 that it has committed $1 million a year for the next three years to a national Vision Zero program.

The campaign relies on a large coalition of safety advocates, data and behavioral scientists, community planners, policy analysts, and officials at all levels government.

Though a target date to reach zero traffic deaths nationwide is not specified, the plan identifies short-term actions in the service of long-term goals… (more)

Federal Review of MTC

Federal Review of MTC’s Role in the Bay Area Transportation Planning Process

The Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) and the Federal Transit Administration (FTA) are reviewing  MTC’s performance as the transportation planning agency for the nine-county San Francisco Bay Area. They are largely responsible for allocating your tax dollars to the various local transportation authorities. Are your transportation priorities being met?

If you have any opinions on how the MTC prioritizes projects, you may share them in a letter or via email by March 3, 2016 to:

Stew Sonnenberg, stew.sonnenberg@dot.gov
FHWA California Division
650 Capitol Mall, Suite 4-100
Sacramento, CA 95814

Ted Matley, ted.matley@dot.gov
Federal Transit Administration, TRO-9
90 Seventh Street, Suite 15-300
San Francisco, CA 94103-6701

If anyone wants to start a sample letter we can post one.

Grants Awarded for Parking Pricing Projects

BY HENRY WALLMEYER : blog.parking.org – excerpt

The U.S. Department of Transportation recently announced more than $363 million in grants from the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) to fund a wide variety of highway improvements that include the Value Pricing Pilot (VPP) Program. The VPP Program supports a variety of strategies to manage congestion on highways, including tolling highway facilities through congestion pricing, as well as other methods that do not involve tolls, such as mileage-based car insurance and parking pricing. Awardees and grant amount included:…

San Francisco Metropolitan Transportation Commission Regional Parking Pricing Analysis Tool – This proposal creates a regional parking database that will allow localities to analyze the effects of various parking pricing scenarios designed to encourage transit and other alternative travel in the Bay Area. $560,000…
Parking Pricing Enhancement Study in San Francisco
This two-part project will study and assess options for implementing a residential parking pricing pilot and develop transferable technical specifications for SFpark, which would help other cities implement similar programs. $420,000.

For the complete list of awardees, visit http://www.fhwa.dot.gov/discretionary/2012vppp.cfm, and be sure to download for free the FHWA’s Contemporary Approaches to Parking Pricing.
We encourage all parking organizations to explore the opportunity to improve their operations with the assistance of federal or private grants. For more information on the FHWA grants, please contact:

Allen Greenberg
U.S. Department of Transportation
Federal Highway Administration

Henry Wallmeyer is deputy director of the International Parking Institute.

This is where our Federal tax dollars are going, how they are financing the parking meters, and who to write.

Supervisor requests hearing on parking meter plan

By Rachel Gordon : SFGate – exceprt

Plans to plant hundreds of new meters in Mission Bay and the South of Market near the Giants ballpark were met Tuesday with a stern response from Supervisor Jane Kim: Not so fast.

Kim, who represents the area, is concerned about her constituents who would have to pay for metered curbside parking until 10 p.m., seven days a week, to park near their homes. The cost? As high as $7 an hour when the Giants are playing at AT&T Park. The night-time rate could drop to as low as 25 cents an hour on non-game days.

Kim requested a hearing on the Municipal Transportation Agency’s plan for parking around the ballpark.  “People should have to pay for parking. I’m just wondering if there is a less punitive way of doing it for residents,” she said. “I was hoping for more thoughtful alternatives.”…


Some residents are filing complaints with the Office of Inspector General alleging fraud, waste, abuse, or mismanagement in U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) programs or operations. SFMTA officials have admitted their tests are incomplete.

Residents are particularly concerned over the designation of traffic of congestion where none exists.

No Way Subway

Perspectives : KQED Radio – No Way Subway – SaveMuni.com’s Bob Feinbaum describes why the Central Subway would be a loser for San Francisco.
discussion with Quentin Kopp and SFMTA on Central Subway.
The Subway to Nowhere


On June 29, 2012, the House passed their version of the Department of Transportation funding bill by a vote of 261-163 – House Approves the Fiscal Year 2013 Transportation, Housing and Urban Development Funding Bill
Legislation holds the line on spending while targeting investments for transportation systems and housing programs Americans need the most.
MCCLINTOCK (R-CA)  AMENDMENT NO. 13 prohibits funds for phase two of the “Third Street Light Rail Central Subway” project in San Francisco. The amendment was adopted on a vote of 235- 136. http://clerk.house.gov/evs/2012/roll446.xml

Next Steps in Legislative Process – The legislative process continues in the U.S. Senate and ultimately the Senate/ House Conference Committee—where the fate of the Central Subway will be debated for several months.  SaveMuni.com and San Franciscans will better inform the process in Washington.

Growing Non-Partisan Opposition to the Central Subway – Increasingly, opposition to the Central Subway Project has become non-partisan—with growing awareness of its meager transit benefits, higher costs, poor design, and the financial drain on citywide Muni. The Central Subway is draining $500 million of state/ local funds from Muni—triggering service cuts, crumbling infrastructure, higher fares/ fees/ rates/ tickets and more parking meters.  Democrats, Republicans and Independents are opposing the Central Subway Boondoggle.  In the Senate/ House Conference Committee, more Democrats will oppose the Central Subway, as details of data falsification, funding ineligibility and violations of funding legislation are revealed.

Quicker Jobs Now – Instead of a tiny 1.6 mile, $1.6 billion subway, $500 million of existing state/ local funds can be poured into the citywide Muni system and the broad bottom base of the economy—with massive local jobs.  San Francisco’s economy can be jump-started with hundreds of miles of beautiful transit-priority streets—energizing cafés, restaurants, retail, services, business corridors, neighborhoods…

The California Transportation Commission approved $61 million of High Speed Rail (HSR) Connectivity Funds for the Central Subway despite its elimination of the T-Line’s loop to the Market Street Corridor and Transbay Terminal. The Central Subway has compromised HSR’s credibility. (according to savemuni.org.)

MTA has been accused of falsifying data to justify the Central Subway and conducting an expensive misinformation campaign.

Related links:
House passes 51B Transportation-HUD spending bill for 2013
Documented true facts on the Central Subway – Quentin L. Kopp
North Beach residents angry about Central Subway construction plans
The Central Subway – Tony Gantner’s site
Project Funding Project
Save North Beach from central subway

Muni uses feds’ funds for cameras it doesn’t use

Phillip Matier, Andrew Ross : Chronicle Columnists

Muni has been awarded more than $37 million in federal homeland security and other grants over the past five years for cameras to safeguard its buses, rail stations and maintenance yards – but it turns out the transit agency has installed fewer than 50 of them.

An additional 514 are still sitting in warehouses – 300 of those were not installed because cash-strapped Muni diverted the $5 million needed to pay for that work to track repairs.

“The funds were diverted to high-priority areas,” said Municipal Railway spokesman Paul Rose. Like it or not, he added, “we did have to make the call to do it.”

Like many public agencies, Muni rushed for federal dollars to bolster security after 9/11. Soon the money was rolling in from Washington…

Federal Role in UPA Projects


Schedule for the San Francisco UPA Projects. The projects will go into operation in 2011. SFMTA will be implementing variable pricing in SFpark zones in early 2011. At that time, real-time parking information will become available via SFMTA‘s website and text messaging. Parking information on MTC‘s 511 phone and website will be available in the spring. As the SFMTA and MTC projects are deployed, SFCTA will conduct its expanded outreach and alternate commute program to promote the UPA projects.

Project Evaluation

A national evaluation team led by Battelle is assessing the effects of congestion-reduction strategies in San Francisco. The evaluation will generate information and produce technology transfer materials to support deployment of strategies in other metropolitan areas. The evaluation also will generate findings that will provide input to future federal policy program development related to mobility, congestion, and facility pricing.