New Muni trains delivered with defective doors

By Joe Fitzgerald Rodriguez : sfexaminer – excerpt

Rider caught in door, dragged onto tracks and hospitalized due to lack of vital safety mechanism

At least some of Muni’s newest light rail vehicles — part of its more than $1.1 billion future train fleet — appear to have been delivered with doors that clamp down and lock on objects and people, documents obtained by the San Francisco Examiner reveal.

That door defect may have seriously injured a Muni rider last week… (more)

Thankfully we still have a free press. Do we need more proof that the system is broken? This is not good news for the those who approved the fast-tracked purchase of the unpopular Siemens cars. Will use the one tool they have to curtail the SFMTA? Will the Board of Supervisors refuse to sign the SFMTA budget?

A public department that ignores the public it serves is not a well-run department. It appears the SFMTA wants speed and they riders want safety and comfort instead. The public demands better. Speed is not the answer.

Who at City hall stop this insanity? Who will admit to a coverup? Will someone finally fall on their sword and take the blame? How will SFMTA’s director and PR czar spin this one?

Will City Hall finally let the public speak for themselves and consider their wisdom? Thanks to everyone who tried to bring reason to the department that has no ears and uses its power and public funds to silence those who do speak out.

RELATED:
Muni Official: ‘Deep Concern’ About Operator Not Spotting Woman Caught in Train Door

 

Meet the man who says he can fix Muni. For real.

By Joe Eskenazi : mssionlocal – excerpt

‘Retired civil servant’ Mike Cheney’s plan is so not-crazy, it just might work

“Dude, do you know how much those things cost me? Apiece?” This is a de facto rhetorical question from Mike Cheney. Most are. He immediately answers it. “Eleven bucks! Eleven!”

That’s a fair amount of money to spend for a retired Muni diesel mechanic with multiple grandchildren — but if it leads to one of this city’s most intractable problems being solved, it’ll be worth it.

So, that’s why Cheney prepared a comprehensive “2018 Proposal To Re-align Muni Goals & Operations,” printed up a handful of $11-a-pop copies, and hand-delivered a few of the svelte, 21-page booklets to the office of Mayor London Breed. That’s her quote right on the cover: “Muni has to work well for the people of San Francisco, so that it is their first option.”….

What if it turned out Muni could speed up buses and trains — and wouldn’t even need to buy new equipment, tear up the streets, or even eliminate stops?

Well, it can. It could install skip-stop route schedules.

This is a system in which Bus A picks up passengers at Stops 1, 3, 5, 7 and so on and Bus B picks up passengers at Stops 2, 4, 6, and 8. This has worked all around the world; it increases capacity and speeds up service… (more)

Please read the article and comment on the source. The Fix Muni First folks will appreciate the low cost method suggested here to solve the crowded bus and speed problems and the money watchers will appreciate the savings, that could lower riders fees and/or finance more routes.

This plan seems to cover everyone’s needs except the corporate entities planning to take over and control our streets. Residents and merchants appreciate the lack of Red Lane constraints, and Muni drivers should be less stressed as well.

Mike’s ideas sound too good and lack the sexy street diets favored at the SFMTA Board. Who are our elected officials going to serve, the public, or the corporations? Will our Mayor appoint a true visionary with a lifetime of Muni experience like Mike Cheney to the MTA Board our will she select a corporate shill intent on retaining the failed policies that are driving people off the public buses into their vehicles?

Some other suggestions that are drawing a lot of public support for safer conditions on our streets:

  • Return consistency to the streets of San Francisco. Nobody can watch for pedestrians, scooters, bikes, cars, trucks and buses weaving in and out of lanes while reading street signs and directions.
  • Lanes need to be straight and flow smoothly from one block to the next. Following lane changes is creates additional distractions.
  • Bring back the safer one-way streets with predictable curbside bus stops.
  • Extend the timing of yellow lights and hold the red light for a couple of seconds before turning it to green to give stragglers a little more time to clear the intersection.

 

There are reasons why there’s a shortage of Muni operators

By Roger Marenco : sfexaminer – excerpt

It’s true, there is a shortage of Muni operators, but this is not the fault of the operators.

If we look at some of the reasons why there are so many “not out” lines within the system, we can begin to understand the basic reasons why there is a shortage of operators…it used to take a newly hired operator 18 months to reach top pay, but now it takes a newly hired operator 48 months to reach the maximum rate of pay…. many of the newly hired operators are only hired part-time, even though, in my opinión, full-time runs should be filled first….

Some of the other issues that cause a shortage of are:
1. The notion that the operator is always wrong.
2. The lack of safety and security for the operators.
3. The tremendous decline in the morale of the operators…

For the moment, the important thing to try and grasp is that we are working on trying to bring forth many small changes to the many different problems that we are facing and keep in mind that OVERSET FOLLOWS:the shortage is NOT the fault of the Operators… (more)

Roger Marenco is president of Transport Workers Union Local 250A.

Read the article and see why you think there is a shortage of Muni drivers.

California bicyclists would be allowed to roll past stop signs under proposed law

By sfexaminer – excerpt

Cyclists in California would be allowed to pedal past stop signs — without stopping — under legislation proposed by two lawmakers who say it would make the roads safer.

The two-tiered approach to the rules of the road — one for cyclists and one for cars — is unlikely to ease growing tensions over sharing California’s roadways.

Bike advocates have won such victories in the Statehouse as requiring drivers to yield a three-foot radius of manoeuvring room to cyclists or face fines. Motorists meanwhile have expressed frustration that they see certain cyclists pick and choose which laws to follow.

Assemblymen Jay Obernolte (R-Hesperia) and Phil Ting (D-San Francisco) introduced their measure on Friday that would allow bicyclists to treat stop signs as merely yield signs — proceeding with caution if conditions are safe.

In effect, it would legalize the so-called California roll, although just for bicyclists…(more)

This law AB-1103 Bicycles: yielding has been through the legislature a number of times and has not passed yet. It will create more problems than it will solve and is not supported by all cyclists:

  1. Will this apply to 2-way stop signs or just 4-way stop signs? How will cyclists know the difference?
  2. Does anyone think cyclists will slow down more than they do now to look before “rolling” through?
  3. Legislators should include a clause that requires cyclists to purchase licenses and insurance to cover damages resulting from passage of this new law.
  4. This will be particularly difficult for drivers of large vehicles like buses and trucks, who can’t easily see bikes or stop on a dime when they do.
  5. How can SFMTA speed buses though intersections when they must worry about hitting cyclists rolling through stop signs?
  6. This will negatively impact the safety of other cyclists, pedestrians, tourists and young people who will find it even more confusing to walk safely on the streets than they do now.
  7. Wait for the lawsuits to come in.

Details on the AB-1103 – An act to amend Section 21200 of the Vehicle Code, relating to bicycles – Introduced by Assembly Members Obernolte and Ting (Coauthors: Assembly Members Bloom, Chávez, and Kiley)

Principal coauthor: Senator Wiener

Let’s get on the bus

By : sfexaminer –  excerpt

The last week of 2015 has kicked up some noxious fumes over the low wages paid to our city’s newest transit drivers.

Muni is assuredly no one’s model metropolitan transit agency, with regular service delays and breakdowns, perpetual grime and random crime, and now we can add employee revolt to the mix. But for good and for ill, it is how we roll in The City. Despite the well-publicized problems, it remains the best — and, for many, only — way to travel through San Francisco.

For those who doubt there is social strife resting uncomfortably just under the surface in this city, spend some time aboard Muni. The transit lines pulse with the character and tensions of The City. Physical fights and harsh words between passengers are not uncommon, but neither are music, new insights and unexpected conversations. The transit lines certainly aren’t San Francisco in a microcosm but rather are The City in a pressure cooker — each ride seems potentially explosive and revelatory.

But if not all is serene in the passenger area, increasingly discontent is also growing for those behind the wheel…

In a series of interviews, operators and union reps told the Examiner that unrest is growing within the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency over the inequity of the latest contract. Experienced Muni operators typically make $60,000 to $70,000 a year, but the 800 Muni operators hired since July 2014 make 63 percent of that under the new contract — as low as $37,000 a year, before union dues and benefits. One full-time Muni operator told us he makes about $2,100 a month, after taxes… (more)

RELATED:
SF TWU 250A Union Official blasts SFMTA over Muni operator wages That Union Leadership Supported

Union blasts SFMTA over Muni operator wages

By 

Muni operators’ union leader says the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency needs to be “on blast” for its treatment of drivers.

Eric D. Williams, president of the Transport Workers Union Local 250-A, spoke with the San Francisco Examiner in response to a story in Monday’s paper, which detailed how Muni workers hired in the last year had their pay cut nearly in half under a 2014 contract. But now, a year later, those drivers are sounding a cry, saying they can’t make ends meet on that pay.

“We’ve got to put the agency on blast for what we’re doing to our members,” Williams said.

The SFMTA previously told the Examiner that Muni operators are among the highest paid in the nation and that they enjoy generous benefits.

While most Muni operators make anywhere from $60,000 to $70,000 a year, according to public records, 818 Muni operators who were hired after July 1, 2014, make 63 percent of that pay under a relatively new contract quirk.

Those operators are paid as low as $37,000 a year, before union dues and benefits.

An operator’s salary is then increased in “steps” over five years. After five years, operators earn full pay. That step payment system is the source of contention for Muni drivers, some of whom say they can’t afford basic goods for themselves or their families.

By contrast, AC Transit has a step in its salary for operators between three and four years. Before July 2014, SFMTA operators’ step salary period was 18 months.

Williams said the reduced pay may lead to drivers quitting Muni. And less drivers, he said, mean late buses… (more)

 

SFMTA workers struggle to meet basic needs

By  : sfexaminer – excerpt

ome of Muni’s newest drivers are struggling to make ends meet, under a contract which cuts their pay to about half what new drivers previously made.

These drivers are increasingly leaning on other means to live — including second jobs driving for Uber, or other transit companies — and moving farther away from San Francisco, which operators say may impact the safety of Muni riders.

In interviews with more than 10 bus and train operators, a former union head, and information gleaned from union meetings, the San Francisco Examiner has learned San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency drivers are struggling, and unrest within their union is growing.

Most spoke anonymously due to fear of retribution. Many described an inability to pay for basic living expenses as new Muni operators.

One full-time Muni operator said he makes about $2,100 a month, after taxes.

Despite also combining his income with his wife’s, he said, he still struggles to support his daughter. Like many parents, he makes tradeoffs… (more)

Chris Daly Breaks Up With Union, Pro-Car Measure Apparently Not To Blame [Updated]

sfist – excerpt

We don’t have Chris Daly to kick around anymore (again). The bombastic former city supervisor whom everybody loved to hate has severed his ties with San Francisco’s most-visible union, the purple-shirted army of Service Employees International Union Local 1021, for whom he had been working for the past three years…

The longtime friend-of-Daly SF Bay Guardian noted yesterday that Daly parted ways with the union at the same time as it endorsed Proposition L, which has backing from Republicans as well as tech maven Sean Parker. The measure would steer city transit funding towards motorists and make it tougher for the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency to stick parking meters wherever it damn pleases…

SFist: If you didn’t leave SEIU over Prop L issues (as you told Steve Jones) what was the reason behind your departure?

Daly: Even though I disagree with the decision 1021 made on Proposition L, it had no bearing on my departure. In fact, internal discussions about me leaving my post as Political Director started about 6 months ago — long before Prop L was even a glimmer in Sean Parker’s eye… (more)

SEIU Local 1021 backs motorist measure and a Republican. WTF?!?!

By : sfbg – excerpt

seiu endorses l-1

Service Employees International Union Local 1021 — which has long played an important role in San Francisco’s progressive movement, providing the money and member turnout to achieve some important victories for the left — finds itself at odds with many progressive activists in this election, particularly on the issue of transportation….

So we asked Local 1021 Political Chair Alysabeth Alexander about the endorsement, and she told us: “One of our member leaders is a proponent and the argument that driving is hell in San Francisco resonated with a portion of our membership that drives and for whom public transportation is not an option either because of service cuts and route changes, because their job requires car use, or because they work shifts that don’t work for public transportation or biking. Because of rising housing prices many working people have been pushed out of SF over the years, and many of our workers shifts end or start when BART or Muni isn’t working or isn’t practical. Our union is 100 percent supportive of public transportation and addressing the climate crisis head-on.  We are fighting for the expansion of public transportation and for adequate funding, and sufficient staffing so that it can be maintained.”… (more)

Newsflash. The Restore Transportation Balance intiative is a non-partisan effort to fix the public transit, parking and traffic nightmare that SFMTA has brought to the city. The fact that 80% (according to recent reports) of Muni employees commute to the city and the Muni drivers filed a class action against their boses, explains their support for Prop L.

 

No Free Rides: Finally, Inevitably: Muni Is Suing Muni

By sfweekly – excerpt

Wednesday, May 28 2014: You can add Muni management to the burgeoning list of people blindsided by Muni drivers.

Earlier this month, a U.S. District Court judge certified some 2,500 drivers — every man and woman who has slipped behind the wheel of a bus, train, trolley, or cable car since July 2009 — as a class in a federal suit against Muni. And, like Muni, that suit is moving forward with extreme slowness — and may cost the city an arm and a leg…

There’s a lot of money riding on this determination. Multiply the $50 daily penalty for violating the Minimum Wage Ordinance by five years worth of days and 2,500 workers. The total: $228 million. That’s a lot of cash. And a lot of leverage, if a settlement is in the offing… (more)

Ever wonder why your Muni bus is late? Who do you blame? The drivers blame management and are suing them. We are re-visiting this story to remind voters where Muni money goes. A large chunk goes to pay for management’s legal losses. In this case they are charged with failure to adhere to labor laws, but in many others they are charged with collecting on false tickets. More than 30% of all settlements San Francisco pays are attributed to SFMTA complaints.

RELATED:
Muni drivers in class action lawsuit against agency