Exclusive: Key pollution control program is disabled in SF Muni’s newest, costliest, ‘greenest’ hybrid buses

By Joe Eskenizi : missionlocal – excerpt

Broken down electric bus outside of bus barn on 16th at Folsom stopped traffic including other Munis for hours – photo by zrants

In 1987, the Board of Supervisors passed legislation urging Muni “to take certain steps to minimize air pollutant emissions,” and get workers trained “in the latest emissions reduction techniques.”

Fine words. But, in 1996, representatives from the San Francisco budget analyst’s office staked out bus yards in the wee hours, and observed Muni employees idling diesel coaches for up to four-and-a-half hours; “Pollution Menace at Muni, Audit Finds,” screamed the eventual front-page headline in the San Francisco Examiner.  That story revealed the city analysts’ grim tabulation of Muni’s dirty habit: Those idling buses needlessly discharged the equivalent amount of pollutants as 56,000 cars—every single day.

In 2013, your humble narrator staggered up to a Muni yard at 4 a.m. and documented that it was all still happening. The first rays of sunlight revealed an oily haze enveloping the yard—the byproduct of scores of buses idling for hours on end.

Idling a bus for more than five or 10 minutes, by the way, is not only wasteful and unnecessary, but is also a violation of state law

Idling buses for hours—damaging their engines, wasting money and fuel, and polluting the environment—has been a problem at Muni for decades. And, a few months ago, the phone calls started coming in: It’s still happening…

Muni has long idled its buses indefinitely, and, barring decisive action, will continue to do so indefinitely. It does so despite the explicit instructions of the manufacturer of its diesel engines, and against the recommendation of every vehicle manufacturer on God’s green earth. It does so in the face of economic, mechanical, and environmental rationales and in violation of common sense and common decency.

That may yet change. But, for now, it remains to be seen what, if anything, will inspire Muni to throw idling under the bus… (more)

Employers warned to offer commuter benefit to workers in Bay Area

By Denis Cuff : eastbaytimes – excerpt

80 Shuttle buses staging on 24th street twice a day idling, spewing out toxic air and running loud engines for air-conditioners are not tenable for residents on the narrow residential neighborhood. This is not a green commuter solution.

An air pollution rule requires large Bay Area employers to offer incentives or pre-tax benefits to workers to take van pools, car pools, public transit, or bicycles to work.

Air pollution regulators are warning thousands of Bay Area employers they could be fined for failing to comply with a rule requiring them to offer a commuter benefit to employees who get to work via van pool, bus, train or bike.

Under the 2014 rule made permanent last year, employers with 50 or more full-time workers must offer them a benefit encouraging commute methods that reduce gridlock and air pollution.

The Bay Area Air Quality Management District has estimated that about 8,000 employers are covered by the rule, but only about 4,200 have registered with the air district and demonstrated they offered a benefit, officials said Tuesday…

The benefit can save employees several hundred dollars a year, as well as lower payroll taxes for employers, according to the air district and the Metropolitan Transportation Commission.

Continued noncompliance could result in companies being cited and fined, said Tom Flannigan, an air district spokesman.

“Our first option will be working with companies to get them to comply,” he said, “but companies at some point could be cited for violations just like businesses that pollute.”

Companies can register at 511.org, and find more out more information about it at http://511.org/employers/commuter/news... (more)

REPEAL THIS LAW – “Employers also can offer workers a free or subsidized bus or shuttle service such as buses offered to Google workers.”

 

Does this look like the source of the problem we are having with commuter shuttles to anyone else?

It is time to fix the shuttle bus problem by repealing this law or re-writing the rules to allow for more local control over the shuttle option. If the point of this program is to clean the air, and the idling shuttle buses are adding to the problem, this is not the solution to the clean air problem.

Muni Exempted from Requirements to Create Plan to Cease Idling Buses for Hours

By Joe Eskenazi : sfweekly.com – excerpt

Update: Read Muni internal directive regarding idling of hundreds of buses for hours.
Last week, SF Weekly revealed that, in gross violation of state law, Muni idles its diesel buses for hours in the morning before sending them out to pick up riders.
This was, indeed, a violation of the law. But it didn’t violate Muni policy. How’s that work? The Bay Area Air Quality Management District today informed us that while Muni is bound to follow the law regarding idling buses for no longer than 10 minutes, it has been exempted from having to develop policy indicating how it intends to follow that law… (more)