Emails show ‘handshake agreement’ for tech buses using SF transit stops

by : sfexaminer – excerpt

Emails from The City’s transit agency over the past three years indicate that a “handshake agreement” exists for commuter shuttles to use Muni stops without being cited.

The correspondence also shows that there was internal discussion at the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency about whether to ticket for the illegal use of the public-bus facilities, while companies and their lobbyists called for leniency and requested citation dismissals.

The inquiries include emails sent to the SFMTA by shuttle providers and the companies that use shuttles…

Bauer’s Intelligent Transportation, a large provider of corporate shuttles, sent a Jan. 24 email to Ed Reiskin, SFMTA transportation director, after $3,000 in fines were received since April 2013.

“As you probably know, Bauer’s IT was an early provider of corporate commuter shuttle transportation dating back nearly ten years. At that time, we entered into a handshake agreement with SFMTA to use Muni stops,” wrote Michael Watson, Bauer’s vice president of marketing.

In an earlier email, Watson also referenced an “agreement.”

“As I assume you know, we have had a ‘handshake’ agreement with SFMTA for many years that allowed us to use the stops under a ‘Muni First’ condition,” the email said…

Paul Rose, an SFMTA spokesman, said his agency was “not aware of any handshake agreement.”

The identified representative of Google was lobbyist Ross Guehring of the well-known local firm Barbary Coast Consulting, who wrote in an April 10, 2012, email, “I think it would go a long way if these tickets could somehow be reined in during this policy development process.”…

On Jan. 21, the agency’s board of directors approved an 18-month pilot program that will allow shuttles to use 200 Muni stops for $1 per stop per day. A determination that the program didn’t need to undergo an extensive environmental review is being appealed to the Board of Supervisors, with a vote scheduled for April 1… (more)

RELATED:
SF Transit Agency must cease questionable-practices/
Corporate Shuttle Road Kill

SF transit agency must cease questionable practices

by : sfexaminer – excerpt

There are now two incidents in which officials at the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency have used handshake agreements with companies to either expedite a process or to avoid it altogether — as was the case with recently revealed news about commuter shuttles. The egregious backroom dealing by the SFMTA and its proxies needs to cease immediately.
In an SF Weekly article in early January, the newspaper documented a handshake deal for new Muni buses that would have the coaches in San Francisco in a more timely manner. The issue is that the buses were delivered to an East Bay facility before the Board of Supervisors approved the contract for the new buses. Officials argued that the deal would have allowed the agency to send the buses back if the contract was not approved.
Then in a Wednesday front-page article, The San Francisco Examiner outlined a handshake agreement between the SFMTA and commuter shuttle companies for the buses to use Muni stops without being penalized. The deal — outlined in a series of emails between the charter companies, the companies that contract with those firms and SFMTA officials — was apparently solid enough that the companies felt they could ask for fines for blocking Muni stops to be waived.
In both cases of the handshake deals with SFMTA officials, it is clear that the agreements sped up what could be a laborious process. And in both cases, it is also clear that the deals may not have exactly broken the letter of the law, but they surely toed that line and broke the spirit of the public process…
If the agency is unable to admit its shortfalls in these situations, it perhaps needs to be left up to the Board of Supervisors or another city office to step in and put additional safeguards into place… (more)

Boundaries, we don’t need no stinkin boundaries!

Then they don’t need no more of our stinkin money. Will someone please put these people out of their misery or must they completely destroy our streets first?

RELATED:
Emails show ‘handshake agreement’ for tech buses using SF transit stops: Emails from The City’s transit agency over the past three years indicate that a “handshake agreement” exists for commuter shuttles to use Muni stops without being cited.
The correspondence also shows that there was internal discussion at the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency about whether to ticket for the illegal use of the public-bus facilities, while companies and their lobbyists called for leniency and requested citation dismissals.
The inquiries include emails sent to the SFMTA by shuttle providers and the companies that use shuttles…
The identified representative of Google was lobbyist Ross Guehring of the well-known local firm Barbary Coast Consulting, who wrote in an April 10, 2012, email, “I think it would go a long way if these tickets could somehow be reined in during this policy development process.”… (more)

Shock and Awe: The Little Hybrid Engine That Couldn’t

By Joe Eskenazi : sfweekly – excerpt

…By the time the board unanimously greenlit their mere existence on Oct. 29, scores of these buses were already squirreled away at a warehouse in Alameda. A majority of the city’s supervisors tell SF Weekly they had no clue this was the case. “Well, that’s fascinating,” says irked Board President David Chiu. “This is information that should have been disclosed to us. Boy, I’d kind of like to see this in writing.”

But that would require a conjurer’s touch. Muni boss Ed Reiskin and transit director John Haley confirm the acquisition of these 50 buses was predicated on a mere handshake. Bus manufacturer New Flyer, they claim, offered to crank out a platoon of hybrids to Muni’s specs, while assuming all the risks if the board saw fit to spurn the pending contract.

Asked to produce the paperwork verifying this, Reiskin and Haley claim none exists.

But that’s just the beginning of a particularly strange and harrowing journey. Further deconstructing the inner workings of these buses and the deal that landed them, peculiarities emerge one after the other, like rabbits out of a rabbit hutch…

SF Weekly contacted every supervisor; only Scott Wiener and London Breed recalled being notified of this arrangement beforehand. Neither thought to ask for any paperwork regarding the matter — Muni officials claim there’s none to be had — and both stand by their votes. Breed, however, admits “this definitely doesn’t look good.”

Her colleagues, having been left in the dark, are decidedly less sanguine. “Muni is kind of a rogue agency,” says Supervisor Malia Cohen. “They just do what they want to do.” Supervisor John Avalos calls the not-a-deal “very funky. For them to have a situation where the actual vehicles are parked across the bay waiting for us to vote on them makes me feel the wool was pulled over my eyes. What’s the point of even having a legislative branch of government?”

None of the supervisors — not one — knew about the internal BAE vs. Allison competition that Muni short-circuited, even though they’d unanimously greenlit that “split” bus purchase, too. That detail was within the legislative packet. But the supervisors are deluged with legislative packets.

Certainly, no one appears to have read this one…

Muni, it turns out, has no magic to speak of.

Just tricks… (more)

Comments on the source are appreciated, add some here, or better still, ask the supervisors what they plan to do about this:  http://discoveryink.wordpress.com/letters-and-comments/san-francisco-officials/

RELATED:
Board of Supervisors Approves Purchase of 50 Hybrid Muni Buses (October 9, 2013)
San Francisco to add 50 New Flyer hybrid buses
The San Francisco board of supervisors approved the purchase of 50 new hybrid 40-foot buses from New Flyer Industries to be used as part of Muni’s bus fleet… (more)