Unspent Muni bond draws ire of SF supervisors

By Joshua Sabatini : sfexaminer – excerpt

Board of Supervisors President London Breed, with the support of Supervisor Aaron Peskin, requested a hearing Tuesday to determine why the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency, which operates Muni, isn’t spending the $500 million in bond money voters approved in November 2014 even when there is so much need.
“Almost two and half years later, do you know how much of the $500 million has actually been spent to improve our transportation infrastructure?” Breed asked. “Twelve — $12 million. Twenty-seven months later, the MTA has spent 2 percent of the bonds we all authorized—the bonds we all said were urgently needed.”
Breed noted that the unused bond money is incurring interest payments and the value is decreasing with time, but also emphasized the importance of spending the funding on pressing needs…(more)

We deserve a list of the projects this money is being held for and details on how that money was allocated. The process is flawed. Too much emphasis is being put on future projects while nothing is being done to increase capacity or maintain the fleet of buses we have today. Our SFMTA has no interest in running the system they are charged with running efficiently or economically. All they care about is their new planning department and the latest digital gizmo they can put in the bus shelters to entertain and placate us. Thanks to the Supervisors for demanding some answers.

Holding onto 500 million while crying for more money. This is why the public does not trust the SFMTA and why they voted against the last sales tax pitch. At some point the voters were promised road repair in one of those sales pitches and we didn’t get it.
Everyone complains about potholes. Muni riders complain about how bumpy the ride is. Guess why it is bumpy? The potholes are destroying their shocks along with everyone elses. Use that money to fix the potholes before painting the streets or changing any more lanes. There are streets all over town with no plans to do anything to them. Fix those first.

RELATED:
SFMTA thrown under the bus over disuse of bond funds

Compare SF (Most Expensive Parking Tickets in the Western Hemisphere) with Downtown San Mateo (50 Cent/Hr Parking Meters)

sfcitizen – excerpt

Compare A with B, as seen in the City of San Mateo:

But the SFMTA wants more more more, so it’s hatched a plan called Prop A, to raise your rent (literally) and/or take your property taxes to pay for, among other things, cost overruns on the entirely unnecessary pork-barrel project called the Central Subway.

Hey, speaking of which:

“During a pair of recent presentations at city political clubs, MTA commissioner Cheryl Brinkman, arguing on behalf of Prop. A, stated that a City Attorney’s opinion concluded that, when it comes to bond language, the terms “shall” and “may” are identical.
Huh.
Brinkman now says she’s not entirely sure what she said. Multiple witnesses are more certain: ‘She did say that!’ recalls Potrero Hill Democrats president Joni Eisen.”… (more)

The SFMTA Has a New, Friendly Blog, and Readers Seem Suspicious.

By : sfweekly – excerpt

Did you know that the SFMTA has a new blog, Moving SF? Seemingly timed with the recent 25-cent fare increase, the parent agency of Muni has decided its image problem has grown dire, and wants to give the everyday commuter (that’d be you!) insight into the workings of one of the most disliked government bodies.

“We want to start telling your our story,” says the Aug. 28 inaugural post.

As SF Citizen already so poignantly put it: That’s just bull shit. But as just as every powerful actor needs a good foil or two, Moving SF’s comments section has already become very lively. Looking beyond the acrimonious debates over the merits of the GBUS TO MTV and its fellow corporate shuttles, it appears that any official attempt at propagandizing the beleaguered strap-hanging populace with the SFMTA party line will at least be matched by well-informed opposition down below.

A subsequent post brought it all out. An introduction to a new Q&A feature about city streets, it solicited inquiries from readers and got a mouthful in reply:…

Could it be that SFMTA and Muni are attempting to curry favor with ordinary San Franciscans in order to get half a billion dollars at precisely the moment when tenants are feeling the squeeze more than ever? Time will tell. If Moving SF doesn’t want to volunteer its motives, its vivacious commenters just might wring it out of them… (more)

The least trusted city agency, that has the gall to blame the public for it’s failures, now wants to “play nice” to convince us to allow them to float another $850 million plus of public debt. (after you add in the interest on the bonds) And the Fed just downgraded Muni bonds this week.

They must think we are dumber than we do.

We say No on A and B (no more money without accountability) and Yes on L: Restore Transportation Balance (demand accountability)

REALATED:
The SFMTA’s New MUNI Blog Urges You to Raise Your Rent by Voting YES on the Half Billion Dollar Prop A, More or Less

 

SF Leaders Begin $1.5 Billion Push for Transit Funding

by Michael Cabanatuan : McClatchy News Servicegovtech – excerpt

The push is in response to a report issued last fall which called for a series of ballot measures to raise $3 billion to invest in the city’s transportation infrastructure.

It’s no secret that San Francisco leaders plan to ask voters in November to make a big investment in improving the city’s transportation system. On Tuesday, they’ll announce the specifics: a general obligation bond measure and an increase in the vehicle license fee designed to produce $1.5 billion over the next 15 years…

Deadlines loom

The bond measure, which requires eight votes from the Board of Supervisors to make the ballot, needs a two-thirds majority to pass. The vehicle license fee also needs eight supervisorial votes to make the ballot but requires only a majority to pass in November. The advisory measure, which is not binding, needs only six votes to qualify and a majority to pass.

To qualify for the November ballot, the $500 million general obligation bond must be introduced by the Board of Supervisors by next Tuesday, with the vehicle license fee increase and the advisory measure following in the weeks to come. All of the measures face a July 22 deadline to make the ballot.

Proceeds from the ballot measures – if they pass – will be split between projects to improve Muni ($635 million), repave and maintain city streets ($625 million), and make pedestrian and bike improvements to increase safety on city thoroughfares ($296 million).

Muni plans to invest its share of the proceeds in implementing its Transit Effectiveness Project, a plan to overhaul the transit system, including improvements to make service more reliable on the 8X-Bayshore Express, 38/38L-Geary and 14/14L-Mission lines. The agency would also expand its fleet to try to increase service and reduce crowding. Money would also be spent on more transit-only lanes, better stops and updated Muni maintenance centers.

Street paving and curb ramps would be big beneficiaries of the transit tax proceeds. A 2011 bond measure that expires this year provided funds to repave thousands of city blocks. A total of 854 blocks were redone in 2013, and more than 900 are scheduled this year and next. Proceeds from the ballot measures would cover the cost of resurfacing 500 blocks a year.

“This would allow us to maintain the progress we’ve made with streets,” Reiskin said.

Street improvements intended to increase pedestrian safety as well as provide up to 65 miles of safer bike lanes would also be funded. The bike and pedestrian improvements, which include more pedestrian signals, better lighting, wider crosswalks and efforts to slow traffic, would also be funded as part of the city’s commitment to the Vision Zero project that seeks to eliminate traffic fatalities by 2024.

Counting on passage

While the proposals aren’t on the ballot yet, city officials are banking on passage. The MTA budget, recently approved by the agency’s Board of Directors, tentatively includes funds from ballot measures. Mohammed Nuru, public works director, and Reiskin said the city has projects from street modifications and paving jobs to new bus purchases and transit improvements lined up and ready to build if voters give the go-ahead.

“As soon as the dollars are available,” Reiskin said, “we can start putting the projects on the ground.”… (more)

Everybody is asking where the bond money will go. Here is the answer of the day. The Muni will spend $635 million rearranging bus routes, eliminating bus stops and traffic lanes by creating BRTs on some of the major arterial streets. There is no mention of buying more buses or training more bus drivers.

$625 million to maintain and pave city streets. We know what happened the last time we voted for that one.

$296 million for bike and pedestrian safety. We know what that means.

If this is not your cup of tea, you might want to support the Restore Transportation Balance initiative instead.

Good riddance, Sunday parking meters

By Sean Havey : sfgate – excerpt

Some anticar ideas are too much, even for San Francisco, where policies limiting driving are a near-religion. After an unhappy tryout, the city will stop enforcing parking meters on Sunday. It’s the right end to an unpopular and unfair plan.

Drivers need a break from worrying about the time ticking down on curb slots. There needs to be a day of rest from swarms of meter-minders dispensing tickets that cost $60 or more. Turning Sunday into another cash-producing day irritates everyone, resident and visitor alike.

By canceling meter collections and ticket revenues, the city is giving up $11 million. (Not  according to this article)  But there are bigger targets to aim for. In signaling his opposition, Lee worried that the public’s annoyance with Sunday meters could doom plans in November for a $500 million transit bond and a vehicle license fee boost, designed to provide money for Muni, street improvements and other transit fixes.

These ballot measures may net a reliable and supportable stream of money for public transit, right now starved of dependable support. Even in financially flush times, the city’s mix of fares, fees, fines and general taxes is a patchwork system that’s partly to blame for Muni’s ills that make driving a go-to option.

But the answer shouldn’t be more hazing of vehicle owners in a crowded, expensive city. Drivers already pay into this city’s transit-first programs. Nailing them again undercuts the support the city needs to modernize its streets and transportation system… (more)

SFMTA claims they will not lose any money on the Sunday meters, because they will find other ways to ticket drivers. They treat drivers like their personal ATM machines and then beg for more money for vehicle license fees? Do they think we are fools?

Drivers pay. Muni riders pay. Guess who doesn’t pay.

RELATED:
SF drivers not off the hook on Sundays

Contra-Flow Bike Lane May Finally Come to Polk Street Next Summer

by Aaron Bialick : sfstreetsblog.org – excerpt

An SFMTA Bike Plan project would install a contra-flow bike lane on Polk Street, separated from motor traffic by a concrete median, where a car parking lane now exists..

A long-awaited bicycle connection linking Market Street to northbound Polk Street is on the horizon. The two southernmost blocks of Polk, which currently only allow southbound traffic, could get a protected contra-flow bike lane by this time next year.

The project, which would add a northbound bike lane separated by a concrete median [PDF], was part of the 2009 SF Bike Plan but left unapproved by the SF Municipal Transportation Agency Board of Directors — one of 15 such projects. The space for the contra-flow lane would come from a car parking lane and some existing buffer space, and it would extend as a painted bike lane past City Hall to connect to the existing bike lane which begins at McAllister Street…

Construction on the contra-flow lane is roughly scheduled for the first fiscal quarter of 2013, which runs from July to September, according to the 2011 Prop B Street Improvement Bond funding plan [PDF] approved last week by the multi-agency SF Capital Planning Committee. Of the estimated $959,369 needed for the project, $240,000 would come from the Prop B bond. The majority, $584,000, would come from a Safe Routes to Transit grant also approved last week by the SFMTA Board. “The remaining $375,369 will be secured from SFCTA Prop. K funds ($88,039), San Francisco Red Light Photo Enforcement Program ($10,000) and from Metropolitan Transportation Commission Regional Bike and Pedestrian Program funds ($37,630),” according to an SFMTA grant document [PDF]…

Although advocates had hoped a protected bike lane might come to Polk in time for America’s Cup, construction on the Complete Street project is scheduled to take place from July 2014 to July 2015, according to the list of Prop B bond streetscape projects. $5,356,000 of the bond money has been set aside for the project

(more)

Are there any SF streets the SFMTA deems worthy of free flowing cars without restrictions? If so where and when should cars be given preference to other vehicles?

Where are the millions of dollars for these bike lanes coming from?

What is the Complete Street Project?

Voters beware of approving any more Muni bonds if you want to keep any lanes for cars.