City withholds Salesforce Transit Center funding as allegations of mismanagement mount

By Joe Fitzgerald Rodriguez : sfexaminer – excerpt

San Francisco city officials are withholding $9.6 million meant to fund expansion planning for the Salesforce Transit Center, in a bid to hold its leadership accountable for alleged mismanagement of the $2.2 billion project.

The move to delay the funding Tuesday came the same day as a lawsuit filed by a major contractor, and amid new revelations that the transit center may lose hundreds of thousands of dollars in advertising revenue due to its closure following the discovery of two cracked beams holding up its rooftop park in late September…

“We are taking a little ‘time out,’” Peskin told the Examiner Tuesday. … (more)

My mind is boggled. I can hardly think. Someone is finally questioning the rush to prop up failing projects with more tax dollars. TIME OUT is the right move. We need a chart to follow the action with these fast-paced legal maneuvers coming from all directions.

TJPA just got a strong wave of descent rippling through their regional quarters as the change order system is turned off. If a few hundred buses rattling though the center are going to crack beams, imagine what the vibrations of fast moving trains will do. And has anyone considered how much weight will rain add to the rooftop garden? We might find out next week.

At least we know who is NOT to blame. The motor vehicle drivers and the taxpaying public, unless you blame them for passing the legislation that funded this regional monster ie: passing regional tax and the bridge toll bills. How many new “world class” exhibits in bad designs can any city handle in a decade?

 

 

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Forum on the Future of Transportation in San Francisco

If the slow transportation grind is getting you down, you may want to check out this forum that will attempt to find some solutions to the failing systems that are plaguing our fair city as we tilt, sink, and fall into the future.

SAVE MUNI – Forum on the Future of Transportation in San Francisco
Saturday, September 29, 10 AM – Noon Doors open at 9:30 AM
Koret Auditorium, SF Main Library. – Grove Street entrance – downstairs

The Forum will address increasing congestion on San Francisco’s streets and the deterioration of public transit service. The Muni carries roughly the same number of passengers in 2018 as it did a decade ago despite increasing city population and the continuing economic boom. What can be done to make it easier to move around the city?

The Forum features four presentations by transportation experts who will share their ideas for reducing congestion and improving public transit service.

Jonathan Hopkins, Executive Director of Commute Seattle will describe how his city has been the only one in the nation to increase transit ridership since the recession.
Jerry Cauthen, Former Senior Engineering Manager and Transportation Vice President, ParsoVisit Sitens Brinckerhoff, will talk about ways to improve public transit service and ridership in San Francisco.
Mollie Cohen D’Agostino from the Institute for Transportation Studies at the University of California at Davis will share results of her group’s study of the transportation networking companies (Lyft and Uber) in San Francisco and other American cities.

Bob Feinbaum, Chair of Save Muni will describe the role for congestion pricing in San Francisco, aided by a video featuring Jonas Eliasson, head of transportation for Stockholm which adopted congestion pricing more than a decade ago.

These presentations will be followed by a moderated discussion of questions from the audience. Come and share your ideas to make San Francisco truly a city where public transit comes first.

Doors open at 9:30 AM. Please come to the Grove Street library entrance and tell Security that you are here for the transportation forum. Coffee and snacks will be available at the small cafe opposite the auditorium.

Sponsored by Save Muni and the Coalition for San Francisco Neighborhoods. Contact: Bob Feinbaum bobf@att.net

Muni delays make politicos late to Transit Week event

By Joe Fitzgerald Rodriguez : sfexaminer – excerpt

All told, three Muni routes experienced breakdowns Monday morning, causing elected officials, candidates and everyday transit riders to arrive at the Transit Week celebration at City Hall late or just barely on time… (more)

Salesforce Transit Center to remain closed after crack in second beam discovered

By Michael Barba : sfexaminer – excerpt

The $2.2 billion Salesforce Transit Center is expected to remain closed at least through the end of next week after inspectors found a second cracked steel beam beneath the center’s rooftop park, officials said Wednesday.

The Transbay Joint Powers Authority shuttered the brand new transit center shortly before rush hour Tuesday after workers installing ceiling panels on the bus deck above Fremont Street discovered the initial crack at around 10 a.m… (more)

A bad week for public transportation in San Francisco this week has lead to a bad week for everyone’s commute. Will the voters rebel against the failed agency or will City Hall finally say ENUF and abandon the failed agency?

 

Brown Assails Gas Tax Repeal As Republican ‘Loser’ Stunt

By California News Wire Services : patch – excerpt

Gov. Jerry Brown frames the gas tax as a “test of American strength,” but repealers say, “we’re taking back our money.”

LOS ANGELES, CA — Gov. Jerry Brown delivered a sharp defense of his new gas tax Friday at Union Station in downtown Los Angeles, saying efforts to repeal the legislation by a group of Republican leaders was nothing short of a test of America’s ability to maintain a central place on the world stage.

“The test of American strength is whether we defeat this stupid repeal measure which is nothing more than a Republican stunt to get a few of their losers returned to Congress. And we’re not going to let that happen,” Brown said during a Mobility 21 conference attended by several hundred state and local transportation officials.

SB1 raised gas taxes by 12 cents per gallon for gasoline and 20 cents per gallon for diesel fuel, along with hiking vehicle registration fees. The new taxes are expected to raise $5.2 billion annually for road and bridge repairs and mass transit projects in the state…

“The cost of living is already on the increase in California and families are struggling to survive. This is unacceptable,” said repeal organizer and former San Diego City Councilman Carl DeMaio in April. “Gov. Jerry Brown and his special interests … need to prepare themselves. We’re coming and we’re taking back our money.”… (more)

The losers collected over a million signatures, so expect this repeal on the November ballot. Stay tuned for more reversals on the governor’s favorite projects.

Why I oppose the Bay Area $3 bridge toll hike

Op-Ed by DeSaulnier : eastbaytimes – excerpt

Night-Bridge

Weekend traffic on the Western span of the Bay Bridge at Sunset photo by zrants

The region urgently needs new investment in transportation. But Regional Measure 3 is not the answer.

Regional Measure 3, the $3 bridge toll hike on the June ballot that would raise money for transportation improvements, is a highly flawed initiative born out of dysfunctional policy-making. Voters should reject it.

There is no question that the San Francisco Bay Area urgently needs new investment in transportation. The fact that many voters are willing to pay substantially higher tolls reflects their frustration with traffic congestion. Workers are facing too many hours stuck in traffic, stressful commutes in crammed BART cars, lost family time and reduced productivity.

As I and others have argued, if the Bay Area fails to address the challenges of traffic and affordable housing, we will lose our competitive edge. However, Regional Measure 3 is not the answer…

The Bay Bridge, the Metropolitan Transportation Commission headquarters acquisition and renovation, and the Transbay Terminal are projects that have involved billions in cost-overruns and undermined confidence in governments’ ability to plan and prioritize.

Now is the time to stop this cycle of waste and frustration and to engage in serious and coordinated planning, because the Bay Area needs and deserves better. Without greater transparency and accountability, Regional Measure 3 would result in, at best, moderate improvements in the short run, but no meaningful solution in the long term…

Regional Measure 3 would result in, at best, moderate improvements in the short run, but no meaningful solution in the long term…

Rep. Mark DeSaulnier, D-Concord, serves on the U.S. House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure and previously served as chair of the California Senate and Assembly transportation committees... (more)

VOTE NO ON RM3. This controversial bill has been cobbled together by a regional group of transportation politicians with no successful track record that has lost the public trust due to cost overruns on wasteful projects like the Transbay Terminal and MTC headquarters.

VOTE NO ON RM3.  The laundry list of projects was created to offer something to everyone, but no guaranteed deliverables, and the bill contains a poison pill that will allow unchecked inflationary rate hikes in the future without voter approvals.

VOTE NO ON RM3.  If passed this bill will add considerably to the cost of living in the Bay Area and will guarantee inflationary rate hikes on all goods that are delivered by trucks that cross the bridges.

VOTE NO ON RM3. This bill, in conjunction with gas tax hikes, will make commuting into the city impossible for many employees, who will choose jobs in the suburbs closer to their new homes.

VOTE NO ON RM3. As DeSaulnier points out, Regional Measure 3 is a flawed bill that provides:

  • No framework for performance measures or oversight to gauge progress
  • No vision for how residents and commuters will benefit.
  • No analysis to show how congestion on major corridors would be reduced, or when the improvements may kick in.

Muni Metro stop at Warriors’ new SF arena is one pricey platform

By Matier and Ross : sfchronicle – excerpt

IMG_3178.JPG

Arena with passing T-Line car going up at 16th and Third Street shot by zrants

The cost of building a bigger Muni Metro platform to handle fans at the Mission Bay arena is growing faster than the Warriors’ injury list.

The plan is to tear out the 130-foot-long Metro platform, just down Third Street from the under-construction Chase Center, and build a 320-foot replacement right in front of the arena.

Building the new platform, however, is just part of the job…

Muni will spend an additional $11 million for new Metro cars, bringing the total cost of setting up light-rail service to the arena to $62 million.

This is a massive undertaking, and my chief concern is how much money the arena will really generate for the city to pay this back,” said Art Torres, a member of the Municipal Transportation Agency board.

Torres’ concern is prompted in part by news that Muni already is coming up short on the project and will need borrow $10 million from the city to complete the job.

Muni will spend an additional $11 million for new Metro cars, bringing the total cost of setting up light-rail service to the arena to $62 million.

“This is a massive undertaking, and my chief concern is how much money the arena will really generate for the city to pay this back,” said Art Torres, a member of the Municipal Transportation Agency board… (more)

Government needs to remember that the real world does not exist on a piece of paper and a handshake with the biggest money man in the room. Government officials need to serve the people not themselves.

Even if money did grow on trees, willing contractors do not. Labor is lacking and not easy to import with the current climate in Washington. Materials and financing costs are going through the roof, and the mood among likely voters favors big changes at City Hall.

“Leno’s first-place finish was “a real boost” for him and “a vote for change at City Hall,” said former Supervisor David Campos, the committee’s chair.”

The likelihood of passing another regional tax and spend scheme among the nine county voters is getting slimmer with the increase in weather temperatures followed by the increase in anger and frustration with the current policies and practices that got us where we are now.

Trust in government is at an all time low. If San Francisco is to survive as we know it, a change must come. Spending $62 million dollars to shift priorities to a sports arena that will serve only the wealthy few who can afford expensive tickets, is a bad idea in this climate. A recent D-10 Superviosor race found NOT SUPPORT among hte candidates at who spoke.

A number of departments heads may soon find themselves without their exorbitant salaries if these schemes continue to roll through. The residents will have the chance to vote against a litany of controversial  projects and waste by opposing Regional Measure 3, the bridge toll $3 increase.

California voters may also have the chance to repeal SB 1 that could roll back the gas tax that is raising the costs of products being brought in on trucks that are hardest hit by this tax. $25 dollar burgers and $8 avocado toast is not joke to the people who are already struggling to stay in their homes.

These two bills alone will determine how the city and region continues to deal with the traffic problems and the transportation schemes they are developing. Our state representatives who are pushing unpopular legislation in Sacramento may also find themselves out of work as the voters will have the chance to replace them soon. Senator Josh Newman is facing a recall election, after being blamed for casting the deciding vote that passed SB1.

More changes in Sacramento may come as a result of Scott Wiener’s unpopular SB 827 bill that would up-zone the entire state around a transit-based up-zoning scheme by “allowing  the state to seize control of your neighborhood” planning and zoning decisions.

With the recent power grabs in Washington, citizens may not be prepared to relinquish any more powers to any government bodies they feel are chipping away at their personal freedoms by centralizing control.

SFMTA Staffing Analysis Requested by Supervisor Tang

excerpt from Katy Tang’s Neewsletter:

Throughout the years, our office has fielded many complaints regarding SFMTA service. Although governed by a separate Board of Directors, the SFMTA plays an important role in the daily lives of residents and visitors. As Supervisor Tang and several colleagues have been interested in reforms to SFMTA to ensure that it is providing the best services possible, Supervisor Tang recently submitted a request to the Controller’s Office to provide a staffing analysis of the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency (SFMTA) over the last 15 years. The request directs the Controller’s Office to report on the growth of full-time employees and major shifts in staffing within each division of the SFMTA. Supervisor Tang hopes that this analysis will help guide conversations about how the department can better respond to the needs of our community. Our office will keep residents informed once the report results are available and what we intend to do with the information.

Thanks to Supervisor Tang for this request.

All your complaints are starting to move the Supervisors. Each are responding in their own way. Maybe they saw the article that ran in the LA Times, about the traffic diet reversal in LA after a major negative response from constituents who have organized to fight the street eating monsters.

Studies are increasingly clear: Uber, Lyft congest cities

: kcra – excerpt (includes video)

One promise of ride-hailing companies like Uber and Lyft was fewer cars clogging city streets. But studies suggest the opposite: that ride-hailing companies are pulling riders off buses, subways, bicycles and their own feet and putting them in cars instead.

And in what could be a new wrinkle, a service by Uber called Express Pool now is seen as directly competing with mass transit…

“The emerging consensus is that ride-sharing (is) increasing congestion,” Wilson said…

In San Francisco, a study released in June found that on a typical weekday, ride-hailing drivers make more than 170,000 vehicle trips, about 12 times the number of taxi trips, and that the trips are concentrated in the densest and most congested parts of the city…

“I would prefer to have the Uber take me there directly rather than having to transfer several times and wait at a bus stop,” said Wu, who doesn’t own a car…(more)

SMART technology is not so smart when it comes to understanding humans.

Cars remain popular because they are vastly superior to transit alternatives

By Gary Galles : ocregister – excerpt

The Los Angeles Times has recently reported that public transit agencies “have watched their ridership numbers fall off a cliff over the last five years,” with multi-year decreases in mass transit use by up to 25 percent. And a new UCLA Institute of Transportation study has found that increasing car ownership is the prime factor for the dive in usage…

Many things are already in motion to solve transit agencies’ problems. For instance, in 2015, Los Angeles began a 20-year plan to remove auto lanes for bus and protected bike lanes, as well as pedestrian enhancements, diverting transportation funds raised from drivers and heightening congestion for the vast majority who planners already know will continue to drive.

Such less than effective attempts to cut driving by creating gridlock purgatory suggest we ask a largely ignored question. Why do planners’ attempts to force residents into walking, cycling and mass transit, supposedly improving their quality of life, attract so few away from driving?

The reason is simple — cars are vastly superior to alternatives for the vast majority of individuals and circumstances…

As Randal O’Toole noted: “Anyone who prefers not to drive can find neighborhoods … where they can walk to stores that offer a limited selection of high-priced goods, enjoy limited recreation and social opportunities, and take slow public transit vehicles to some but not all regional employment centers, the same as many Americans did in 1920. But the automobile provides people with far more benefits and opportunities than they could ever have without it.”… (more)

This article fails to mention the Uber Lyft factor. As some city dwellers have given up car ownership due to gridlock and parking challenges, private enterprises have replaced private owned cars with “shared” cars so there is no net reduction of traffic. Citizens are fed up.

Non-partisan grassroots organizations are uniting to replace politicians, repeal the recently imposed state gas tax increase, fight future taxes. Environmentalists, affordable housing proponents, and displaced residents know how they have been played and they will not be tricked again by state orchestrated land and power grabs.

Firefighters union asks mayoral candidates for veto power over bike lanes, pedestrian safety projects

By Joe Fitzgerald Rodriguez : sfexaminer – excerpt

Firefighters want their department to wield veto power over Vision Zero street safety projects — which often include bike lanes and pedestrian safety improvements — and they’re asking mayoral candidates to help them achieve it.

That’s according to a questionnaire sent to mayoral candidates by San Francisco Firefighters Local 798, which was obtained by the San Francisco Examiner Wednesday.

The questionnaire states that though firefighters support Vision Zero, such street changes can create “serious problems” for fire engines navigating narrow streets and firefighters deploying ladders.

It continues, “Do you support giving the SFFD Fire Marshall more discretion and the ability to reject any Vision Zero proposals that will compromise public safety and the ability of SFFD Firefighters to respond to local emergencies?”…

Leno’s answer to the firefighters emphasized all stakeholders, including merchants and transit advocates. “Any challenges in implementing Vision Zero must be discussed with all stakeholders at the table, working together in good faith,” Leno wrote.

Local 798 is hosting a mayoral candidate forum Feb. 8 to inform their members before they conduct an endorsement vote… (more)

Firefighters want their department to wield veto power over Vision Zero street safety projects — which often include bike lanes and pedestrian safety improvements — and they’re asking mayoral candidates to help them achieve it.

If the Supervisors agree to support the SFMTA Ordinance that would give them oversight over SFMTA Board decisions and the Fire Department would be able to address their issues through the supervisors. We will soon see which mayoral candidates are more supportive of the SFMTA and the Bike Coalition than the Fire Department and the rights of citizens.