S.F. tries to vote its way out of chronic traffic jam

By Michael Cabanatuan : sfgate – excerpt

The question about transportation being posed to San Francisco voters this fall might be summed up this way: Do you want to get on the bus and be on your way, or do you want to stand there and keep waiting?

Transportation, always a topic of complaint or debate in San Francisco, stands front and center on the November ballot. Voters are being asked to decide on three propositions that test the city’s commitment to transit, how it should be funded and the direction of its transportation planning.

The trio of propositions consists of a $500 million bond measure, a plan to increase the Muni budget to keep pace with population growth, and an advisory measure that would ask decision-makers to freeze parking rates and make cars and driving a higher priority…

David Looman, who led the drive to put Prop. L on the ballot, says it’s “simply a way for people to have their voices heard that city policies on parking and traffic are out of control.”

Officials at the MTA and City Hall may wish for a world in which everyone bikes, walks or rides Muni, he said, but 79 percent of residents still own cars and should be accommodated…

“This is a very transportation-heavy election cycle,” Jawa said. “The sense that we need to start doing things differently in transportation is alive and well in San Francisco.”… (morei)


Mayor Vows to Punish Supes Who Backed Wiener’s Transit Funding Measure

By Aaron Bialick : sfstreets – excerpt

Mayor Ed Lee, who has cut into transportation funding by nixing Sunday parking meters and abandoning a proposed vehicle license fee increase, now says that he will punish the six supervisors who voted to approve a ballot measure to increase transportation’s share of the general fund. Supervisor Scott Wiener proposed the charter amendment as a stop-gap measure to fund the city’s transportation needs, while SF waits two years for the mayor to support a vehicle license fee measure…

The SF Chronicle reported on Sunday that ”the mayor’s office seems to be hinting that it will target programs important to the six supervisors who voted to place Wiener’s proposal on the ballot — Wiener, David Chiu, Jane Kim, London Breed, Malia Cohen and David Campos.”…. (more)

Municipal Transportation Agency rolls out budget

By Michael Cabanatuan : sfgate – excerpt

Everything from free Muni rides for senior and disabled riders to shutting off parking meters on Sundays will be on the table when the Municipal Transportation Agency considers its budget for the next two fiscal years. (Mayors Transportation Task Force Proposals)

The agency, which oversees all things related to transportation in San Francisco – transit, traffic, parking, taxis – has proposed a basic spending plan of $915.4 million for the budget year that starts July 1 and $943 million for the following year. The budget covers the anticipated costs of operating existing transportation services.

A separate capital budget proposes spending $646.6 million and $749.1 million on physical improvements, including Central Subway construction, replacing Muni Metro rail cars and some buses, building more bike lanes and pedestrian safety projects, and installing new traffic signals.

The budget also calls for an automatic scheduled fare increase to $2.25 for single-ride fares paid in cash.

What’s not included are the proposals to raise, reduce or eliminate some fares and fees, increase service, build pedestrian and bicycle improvements, and improve technology.

A major new expense, however, is also a big unknown: increases in contracts with Muni’s labor unions, which are being negotiated this year. A potential big cost reduction is a proposal to reduce or eliminate work orders: that is, money paid to other city departments for services.

Setting those priorities will be the job of the MTA Board of Directors, which officially receives the proposed budget and hold its first public hearing at 1 p.m. on Tuesday. A second hearing will be held on March 4, with a series of less formal town-hall meetings also planned(more)

What happened to the claims that Muni is broke? They found some money? Where? If you care about Muni money you should to send some written comments and consider showing up to the hearings. Also check out the comments on KQED Newsroom below for an explanation on why bond deals could be in trouble. Who tracks the money?

KQED Newsroom: (5:40- 5:55)) “there was an 11 billion dollar water bond passed in 2009 that was loaded up with all kinds of pork projects, bike lanes, and everything else, and, they know that isn’t going to fly with the voters.”

Audit Finds Problems In Muni Hiring, Training

Phil Matier : sbclocal – excerpt

SAN FRANCISCO (KCBS) – A recent audit by the San Francisco City Controller has come down hard on the hiring practices of Muni and the training program of its drivers.
According to auditors, Muni had no accurate count of how many drivers the agency needs, leading to not enough drivers being hired.
The audit found that the lack of hiring drivers is not related to money, as the agency has the positions budgeted. Rather, Muni has not been able to come up with a staffing analysis to show the true number of drivers it needs. That driver shortage led to thousands of missed runs last year (more)

Thank you Phil, for filling us in on the details. Many of us know how glutenous and obtuse the SFMTA has become, but you can’t repeat the details and facts too often, for those who haven’t figured it out yet. The nerve of these folks who want more money when they don’t spend what they have wisely. Garbage in, as they say.
SFMTA IS TOO BIG AND OUT OF CONTROL. This sounds like a familiar song. This Muni problem is NOT RELATED TO MONEY.  SFMTA has the money to hire and train, they just can’t figure out how to do the one job they have money for. Could it be that they are farming the job out to incompetent contractors, and SFMTA is too busy hiring and training overpaid managers, lobbyists (to convince state representatives to change state laws that punish car owners), and PR firms (to convince the voters to pony up $3 billion in 2014)? Five management positions paying over $!00K were listed last week.
TIME TO TRIM THE SAILS. CUT OUR LOSES. CHANGE THE PLAN. Everyone should send letters to the Supervisors and MTA Board letting them know how you feel about the bang up job the SFMTA is doing and how likely you are/are not to vote to give them more money.

Chain Reaction Of Injures After Muni Bus Falls Apart

by – excerpt

An accident involving the overhead equipment above a San Francisco Municipal Railway bus injured four people downtown this morning, fire and Muni officials said.
The 31-Balboa bus was near Market and Main streets around 10:30 a.m. when the accident occurred, authorities said.
A rope connecting to the overhead poles on the bus came loose and struck a nearby bus stop sign, Muni spokesman Paul Rose said.
The sign hit an adult leading a group of schoolchildren on a field trip and also hit one of the children, fire spokeswoman Mindy Talmadge said.
Those two both fell onto another adult and child. All four suffered minor injuries and were taken to a hospital as a precaution, Talmadge said… (more)

The sad state of Muni vehicles and equipment is well documented. Most of the city’s lawsuits involve the SFMTA. When will the city officials quite approving transfer of Muni funds from Muni operations to non-Muni projects?
Let your supervisors know you want the SFMTA to
FIX THE MUNI FIRST! contact city officials

Muni’s contribution to San Francisco’s mental health

By: Melissa Griffin : sfexaminer.com – excerpt

Each year, the American College of Sports Medicine ranks the nation’s 50 largest metropolitan areas in its American Fitness Index. San Francisco ranked fourth this year, behind Minneapolis-St. Paul, Washington, D.C., and Portland, Ore. The Greater Bay Area gets good marks for the fact that almost 15 percent of people take public transportation to work, but low marks for “percent of days when mental health was not good.”
These things may be related.
Supervisor Scott Wiener has made it his mission to find a way to improve our public-transportation system, holding hearing after hearing on the status of Muni and its budget. Those meetings can be very depressing…
Reiskin will be coming to the Board of Supervisors this year to ask for $120 million in revenue bonds to make a small dent in the $2.2 billion needed in transportation infrastructure improvements. Additionally, the voters will be considering a vehicle license fee (likely in November 2014) expected to bring in $70 million per year to the general fund, where it will promptly be spent on things San Franciscans do not use every day…
Wiener is considering putting a measure on the same ballot with the fee to force the use of the new income for updating the physical transit system. Wiener also is considering a surcharge on tickets to events for the same purpose. Either proposal would need the approval of voters.
At the recent hearing, Reiskin acknowledged that, to get additional money, “We need to earn the credibility to get that support.”
No kidding… (more)

San Francisco’s Transit Planning Process Threatens Market Street’s Revival

krfarr.com – excerpt

When Kieran Farr recently resigned from the Geary Street BRT Advisory Committee, he stated, “what I’ve seen in the past 6 years has been a severe disappointment during which I have lost trust in America’s regulatory framework to enact effective transit improvements.” Farr acted after planners announced that Bus Rapid Transit on Geary— a decade old idea set to be implemented in 2012—has been pushed back to 2020. But as Farr also noted, delay in implementing transit projects is less a national problem than a San Francisco one. The Geary BRT experience shows how the city’s seemingly endless transit and community planning processes discourage rather than foster public participation. Now the challenge is for the city to avoid similar diversions and delays in transit plans for Central Market, especially as “new ideas” have emerged that threaten the community consensus for the area…
That’s why talk of shifting buses from Mission to Market and sending bicyclists in the reverse direction is so troubling. While I understand that “all options must be explored,” and believe in “keeping an open mind,” that Market Street is seriously being considered as a transportation hub for above-ground buses rather than bicycles is entirely inconsistent with the vision for the street that emerged from the community planning process… (more)

Market Street overhaul rethinks Mission too
Remaking one of the city’s busiest streets could involve banishing buses from downtown Mission Street and redesigning the thoroughfare to make travel safer and easier for the city’s growing number of cyclists.
The plan being studied by city officials is the newest of three alternatives for a $350 million Better Market Street project, which would remake the city’s main boulevard into a designated transit corridor and transform the adjoining downtown sidewalks and plazas into inviting places for the hordes of workers, tourists and other visitors who jam into the area every day…
“The curbs (on Market Street) were built of granite and meant to stay,” she added. “We don’t take moving them lightly.”… (more)

Comments and letters to the editor:

Slow down all of San Francisco’s wheels – In reference to city planner Neil Hrushowy‘s comment in “Broader view also rethinks Mission” (Feb. 5) that cars undermine San Francisco’s city center because the “key to the city center is people” and “you don’t go downtown to watch cars go by,” I’d add that I don’t go there to dodge bicycles, either.
High time for a transportation plan that discusses how best to manage wheels, not just those of cars, in our downtown, which Hrushowy describes as “the most democratic space in the city, with something for everyone,” as well as on all city streets.
– Bonnie Elliott, San Francisco

Give Muni money The city wants to spend well over $1 million redoing Mission Street so the area is bike and pedestrian friendly (“Broader view also rethinks Mission,” Feb. 5).
Why don’t they put the money into fixing Muni so that it’s a reliable source of transportation for everyone?
– Joanne Bloomfield, San Francisco

San Francisco Transit Growth: Will The City’s Building Boom Cause A Muni Meltdown?

: huffingtonpost.com – excerpt – 1/24/2013

San Francisco Transit Growth: Will The City’s Building Boom Cause A Muni Meltdown?

San Francisco Transit Growth

SAN FRANCISCO — After decades of scant development, a barrage of new housing units are slated to be built in San Francisco at a furious pace, according to a report released earlier this month.
But the question of how to keep the city’s new residents from causing widespread gridlock looms large.
According to San Francisco’s most recent quarterly Pipeline Report, some 710 development projects are being considered, potentially offering up a staggering 43,600 new units of housing. Though it’s unlikely a large portion of those units will ever break ground, Gabriel Metcalf, the executive director of the San Francisco Planning and Urban Research Association, told The Huffington Post that “we are in the middle of a building boom.”…
Wiener recently requested that Muni begin issuing monthly reports to the Board of Supervisors detailing the state of its system. By crystallizing this data on a month-to-month basis, he hopes to see renewed political support for increasing Muni’s funding….
One such suggestion the lawmaker recently proposed? Increasing the city’s vehicle license fee for car-owners, creating funds which would ideally go directly into Muni’s coffers. Wiener hopes to place a ballot measure approving the hike before voters in 2014… (more)

SF Giants go for port approval of project

Ignoring the Central Subway elephant

District 5 Diary – excerpt

The SF Examiner’s coverage of Muni continues to ignore the elephant in the room: The costly Central Subway project, which is sucking up $124 million of the city’s limited transportation money:
The agency’s fleet of buses is the oldest in North America, making them prone to frequent breakdowns. There is a mass shortage of available operators to drive the buses, giving Muni little wiggle room to schedule its 13,000 daily runs.
The Grand Jury report last year on the Central Subway warned about this problem:
Regarding ongoing, preventive maintenance, the SFMTA official we spoke with stated that when SFMTA allocated money to Muni, not enough importance was placed on budgeting for maintenance. This official stated there are periods when not enough money is budgeted for maintaining vehicle parts. To quote that official, “that part of the budget has been starved.”… (more)

What’s in a Parking Brand?

By BRETT WOOD, P.E. : blog.parking.org – excerpt

Can you name many parking programs off the top of your head? Maybe the one you work for?
If you pay close attention to the industry, you know SFpark. They have been at the forefront of the parking technology revolution for a few years now. But it’s more than their robust approach to parking management that makes them famous; it’s their brand and the way they present themselves to both the San Francisco community and the parking industry. They developed an iconography and brand that announces to the parker that it’s safe and easy to park when you see the SFpark logo. And even beyond that, they expanded their brand into a marketing and education campaign that compliments the programs mission and goals. See the print version here, and the video they developed here

We will let you draw your own conclusions about this kind of activity that our Mayor and District Supervisors are supporting when the approve the SFMTA budget. Of course they are passing the bill onto us for these grandiose schemes that have nothing to do with fixing the Muni or balancing Muni’s budget.