L-Taraval changes head to SFMTA board

By Jerold Chinn : sfbay – excerpt

Contentious changes along Muni’s L-Taraval route could get decided Tuesday.

The San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency’s Board of Directors on Tuesday are expected to vote on a final proposal on the L-Taraval Rapid Project.

Residents and merchants have been at odds with transit officials on proposed improvements including adding boarding islands at some stops, and removal of other stops altogether…

The original proposal had called for boarding islands at all L-Taraval transit stops that did not have them, but transit officials comprised with businesses to instead pilot a program for six months that does not remove any parking on Taraval at 26th, 30th, 32nd, 35th and 40th avenues.

Instead of transit boarding islands, a large sign will get placed to warn drivers that they must stop to allow for passengers to board and disembark trains, along with a painted white solid line in the traffic lane where vehicles must stop behind the train. Both treatments would be placed along Taraval to match the configuration of a two-car train.

Additionally, painted markings will also be present in the traffic lane to warn drivers ahead of time of transit stops ahead…

Documents from the transit agency said transit officials will work with merchants to develop an education campaign alongside working with the San Francisco Police Department on enforcement at these five transit stop locations during the evaluation of the pilot.

New flashing lights on trains when the doors open will also be part of the pilot, to bring more attention to drivers that they must stop.

The pilot changes will be installed in Fall 2016. If there is not at least a 90 percent compliance rate of drivers stopping where they are supposed to, or if there is a collision with a pedestrian and vehicle during the six-month evaluation, officials will pursue boarding islands at those five locations, SFMTA documents said…

Paula Katz, a resident in the Parkside neighborhood, started a petition to save all of the L-Taraval stops, which she has submitted to the transit agency. She said the removal of the transit stops would put a burden to riders especially for the elderly who shop at places like at Safeway on Taraval and 17th Avenue.

Early implementation

SFMTA documents show the transit agency wants to carry out specific positions of the project earlier than what was originally proposed.

Officials plant to start the transit-only lane early, with signage and painted symbols, but no red paint. Officials said they will monitor the effects of traffic flow and congestion for one year to due to concerns from the community that a loss of a travel lane would cause traffic congestion.

Painted clear zones will also be implemented early at locations where the transit agency are proposing boarding islands. Vehicles would shift to the right as if there were a boarding island present at 10 locations. Parking spots at those locations would no longer be available.

The public can still give public comment on the final proposal of the L-Taraval project at the SFMTA’s Board of Directors meeting Tuesday at 1 p.m. in room 400 of City Hall… (more)

Muni sets date to begin Van Ness BRT construction

By Jerold Chinn : sfbay – excerpt

Construction of San Francisco’s first bus rapid transit system will now start in November after transit officials said it would break ground on the project this summer.

A subcontractor dispute led to the delayed start of construction along Van Ness Avenue, said Paul Rose, spokesman for the Municipal Transportation Agency.

SFMTA documents show that The City’s Public Utilities Commission and a subcontractor chosen to do sewer and water line replacement work could not agree upon a price for the work. Instead, the Public Utilities Commission decided to bid the work out.

The SFMTA’s Board of Directors at its Aug. 16 meeting approved a contract amendment with Walsh Construction Company II, LLC, which is overseeing the construction of the project, to allow the company to begin work.

The Van Ness Improvement Corridor Project will include dedicated center-running transit lanes for Muni’s 47-Van Ness and 49-Van Ness/Mission routes that officials said will help improve reliability and reduce transit travel time for Muni riders by over 30 percent. Both routes currently serve about 45,000 riders a day.

Buses will change to low-floor buses and new station platforms will be able to accommodate riders waiting for the bus and for two buses to load and unload passengers at the same time.

Improvements such as pedestrian countdown timers, pedestrian bulb-outs and eliminating most left turns on the Van Ness Avenue corridor are also part of the project.

SFMTA documents show that primary bus rapid transit portion of the project will cost $189.5 million, which includes the cost of procuring new buses…

The total cost of all the improvements along the Van Ness Avenue corridor is $316.4 million, according to SFMTA documents. Funds for the project will come from federal grants, state funds, revenue bonds, local Proposition K funds and local funds from the Public Utilities Commission.

Officials began the bus consolidation portion of the project in June so that riders and Muni operators can get used to the changes before the opening of the bus rapid transit system in late 2019.


SFMTA approves changes to Mission Street transit improvements in response to merchant complaints

Data versus merchants: Do shoppers drive or take Muni?

By : sfexaminer – excerpt

From Mission Street to Geary Boulevard — and even sleepy Taraval Street — parking spaces are disappearing, new turn restrictions for vehicles are coming to fruition and transit-only lanes are popping up on the concrete.

As pushback from local businesses and homeowners heats up on key transit corridors, a pattern is emerging within every project: Merchants are decrying available transit data as false.

As Gabriel Medina, policy manager at the Mission Economic Development Agency, put it: “If [Republican presidential candidate] Donald Trump did a survey himself about himself, would you trust the results?”

Merchants say their customers are mostly drivers. But transit planners contend their data shows most San Franciscans actually take public transit to these neighborhoods, and a new SFMTA survey of Mission Street-goers found most take the bus or train to shop… (more)

What difference does it make what percentage of shoppers arrive by car to access your shop if your business fails after the SFMTA creates a traffic and parking nightmare to discourages ANY of your customers from returning?

What percentage of your income would you like to give up? Would you like a 10, 20, or 30% cut in pay while your rent and taxes go up?

This kind of survey proves that the SFMTA “experts” know nothing about running a business and that explains why they are millions of dollars in debt even though they have one of the highest budgets in the country.

I have an idea. Why don’t we limit them to three projects at a time that they have the money in the budget for instead of allowing them to start dozens of projects that they are financing through “leveraging” programs?

Maybe then they will feel the pain they are inflicting on the merchants who don’t have unlimited funds to cover their losses.

If you want to reign in the SFMTA support the Charter Amendment: stopsfmta.com


SFMTA Plans to Tweak Mission Street Transit Changes

By : missionlocal – excerpt

San Francisco’s transit agency is proposing to roll back some of the traffic changes made along Mission Street when the city installed red bus-only lanes from 14th Street to Cortland Avenue.

The Municipal Transit Agency announced on Monday that its board would consider removal of two forced right turns at 22nd and 26th streets in order to give drivers four blocks of through traffic to make businesses along the corridor more accessible.

The agency will also allow taxis to turn left on 21st Street to give cab drivers a more direct route to their destinations, according to the announcement.

Finally, the agency will move a bus stop on Cortland Avenue to the northern end of its intersection with Mission Street to make it easier for passengers to board the bus.

One of the most controversial changes that came with the transit improvement projects, requiring a right turn at Cesar Chavez Street, is not being considered for removal. Concerns from the public that the forced turn needlessly separated the Mission from Bernal Heights, the agency said in its announcement, should be addressed by allowing right turns on 22nd and 26th streets.

But opponents of the project are not satisfied with the suggested changes and say they will continue to put pressure on the agency to make broader changes at an upcoming agency board meeting. One called the right turn at Cesar Chavez “disruptive,” and another told the Examiner that the turn was like a “wall” separating the two areas…

“SFMTA’s objective was to reduce cars on Mission Street, but does not actually reduce cars or traffic overall. The largest population of Mission transit riders (36%) use Mission buses like a jitney within the Mission,” Medina wrote. “But the red lanes have been tailored to rocket ‘choice riders’ over the Mission straight into downtown and reduce bus stops 50 percent.”

The SFMTA board hearing takes place on August 16…(more)

Mission Warriors will be out in force with concerned citizens intent on stopping the redlining into other neighborhoods. This project was the one that broke the camel’s back. The Supervisors, overwhelmed with complaints, placed a Charter Amendment on the ballot to allow voters an opportunity to vote to cut repeal the overreach of the SFMTA. Come to the meeting on Tuesday the 16th and let the Board hear your complaints.



Rider wants Muni Service Restored

Herbert Weiner response to Conor Johnson oped in San Francisco Examiner:

Dear Mr. Johnston:

As someone who rides MUNI on a near daily basis, I feel compelled to respond to your recent opinion piece in the San Francisco Examiner. Please excuse this belated response.

MUNI, potentially the best transportation service in the country, falls dramatically short of its potential.

For too many times, there have been late, missing, switchbacks and breakdowns of buses. MUNI celebrates Halloween each day, because each day has a horror story.

This problem has not been sufficiently addressed, because the internal operations and communication, control and command structure of MUNI are ignored. Even with the grandiose visions of MUNI Forward, the system will not function well if internal problems of MUNI are not addressed. There has been little, if any transparency, about these elements of MUNI.

Instead, the problem has been externalized with consolidation of bus stops and the elimination and modification of bus runs that have served the neighborhoods. It will take as much as one quarter of a mile to walk to a bus stop, adversely impacting seniors and the disabled; the Municipal Transit Agency gives lower priority to bicyclists who are hail and hearty and, on the average, under 50 years of age. Can you imagine individuals with arthritis, emphysema or other disease, who are barely able to climb the steps of a transportation vehicle, walking such a long distance? Some MTA managers, with tongue in cheek, will say that walking is good for you. But the Turks must have said that to the Armenians before their death march. There has never been a medical opinion about such a hardship that has been sought by MTA administrators which might very well be a violation of the American Disability Act. MTA can counter that Paratransit is the answer. But that service is already overloaded with its own unreliability. Why substitute Paratransit for bus services that presently meet the needs of senior and disabled passengers?

Will elimination of bus stops result in faster MUNI speed? This is debatable because, with the internal problems of MUNI and the unreliability of buses as a primary problem, there is no guarantee. In addition, the proclaimed advantages of bus stop elimination and consolidation are offset by longer walking time which can result in the missing of a bus and the increased boarding times.

Bus services are being decreased and removed from the neighborhoods. The 2 Clement line, a perfectly good line, has been morphed into the 2 Sutter line which will cover only two blocks on Clement Street. This will affect merchants and shopping along that corridor with decreased access to businesses and services on that street. The 26 Valencia bus which ran directly to St. Luke’s Hospital, served the Merced Extended Neighborhood Triangle District bordering Daly City and traveled to San Francisco State University has also been axed. The 18 bus line which previously ran directly to the Cliff House, a San Francisco landmark, has been altered. The 33 line, a bus in District 5, will no longer run to San Francisco General Hospital which could be life threatening to severely ill patients. And the 47 line will no longer run to the Hall of Justice which will be detrimental to jurors and the legal process itself.

Citizens have been pointing out these problems to the deaf ears of MTA for some time with no redress. Instead, MTA formulates its plans and dumps them on the public which are forced to cope with these poor decisions and policies. The outreach of MTA is basically a ritual and joke, because that agency hears but does not listen. This is supposed to be a public service.

You have noted the density of the city in your article. According to MTA, San Francisco’s density is second to New York. In previous decades, the coverage of MUNI services embraced the whole city, reflecting its density and the needs of the neighborhoods. The problem then, as now, was making this comprehensive system work in order that buses arrive on time with good frequency. This core problem has never been addressed sufficiently by MUNI. The internal problem of MUNI is now being externalized with MUNI Forward which evades the above issue.

Transportation services are being stripped from the neighborhoods on the grounds of supply and demand. Market system economics are being applied to a public service which is supposed to address need. It is equivalent to the police saying that, because only one crime occurs in a part of town in contrast to other neighborhoods, services should be reduced to certain areas of the city. Every neighborhood needs services which are constantly being taken away to the detriment of the public.

One of the reasons for slow travel time is the city’s density. This underlines the need for more buses and drivers. I noted that when I was in London in 1991, the underground trains were backed up behind each other which meant that, if you missed one coach, another train would be available.

The argument that MTA trots out is that there are limited funds. But this falls flat in light of the proliferation of six digit salaries of MTA management, ever expanding bike lanes and the boondoggled Central Subway. 1.5 million dollars has been paid to Barbary Coast, an advertising agency to promote MUNI Forward. This agency is not poor and constantly asks for more money which it will do perpetually after you and I are gone.

$2.25 per ride is a bargain on the face of it. But now trouble is no longer free. The service is actually worsening. I have waited too many times in the dead of night for the 1 California line, one of the showpiece lines of MUNI.

While the slogan of MTA is “Transit First” it should be “Bicycles First”. The Bicycle Coalition gets royal treatment to the neglect of passengers. You might say that they remove cars from the streets. But so do I when I take MUNI. What do we get? Less service and accessibility!

These are my impressions which you may or may not agree with.

And I hope that you have not worked for MTA or plan to. This would certainly affect your thinking and article that you have written.

Just remember one of the mottos of MTA: “We break it. You own and ride it!”

                                                                                                            Very truly yours,

Herbert J. Weiner


Charter amendment targets mayoral seats on SFMTA board

By Jerold Chinn : sfbay – excerpt

Acharter amendment introduced by San Francisco Supervisor Norman Yee could threaten the mayor’s appointment power over the Municipal Transportation Agency’s Board of Directors.

The charter amendment proposed by Yee would allow the mayor to appoint four SFMTA board members and the Board of Supervisors would to get appoint three. It would also lower the number of supervisors it takes to reject the transit agency’s budget from seven to six.

Currently, the City Charter allows the mayor to nominate all seven of transit agency’s directors, but nominees still need approval from the Board of Supervisors.

Supervisors Eric Mar and Malia Cohen voted in favor of the charter amendment at the board’s Rules Committee on Wednesday. Supervisor Katy Tang voted against it. If approved by the full Board of Supervisors, it would appear on the Nov. 8 ballot.

Last I checked only six supervisors are needed to put a charter amendment on the ballot.

Yee said at the board’s Rules Committee on June 30 that his constituents from District 7 are calling his office over concerns about some of the decisions that the transit agency makes on The City’s streets: (more comments below.)

“…this is why I am introducing this legislation to see if there is a way to actually change the dynamics so that maybe we could reduce the types of complaints that we get.”…

“There’s an expectation from the public that the Board of Supervisors share the burden of SFMTA’s decisions when we have very little do with who sits on the Board of Directors.”…

“I think a split appoint process allows for a broader, more diverse level of engagement from the public as we have seen at this very committee.”…

“I’m always searching for answers. For me, this is one way to change it. It’s certainly not the only way and I’m willing to sit down with the director, Mr. Reiskin or any of the other Board of Directors to continue that discussion.”… (more)

This is a welcome development in a situation that is rapidly turning into a disaster for many residents and merchants who are lashing out at the Mayor and Supervisors. Complaints are coming from everyone, including drivers, Muni riders, people with families, the elderly and physically challenged. Removal of bus stops and seats from buses is only the last straw.
Plausible deniability is not protecting them from the public anger. This is the year of discord and San Francisco officials are reacting by giving the voters a lot of options to shift the balance of power. The voters should take this opportunity to do just that.

Showplace Square Parking Gets Metered

By Jacob Bourne : Potrero View – excerpt

The blocks surrounding Showplace Square and the California College of the Arts (CCA) have been a longstanding parking haven for commuters, oversized vehicles, and residents. Over time regulations have tightened parking availability throughout Potrero Hill, increasing parking pressures from Division to 16th streets and east to Seventh Street.  Now, the San Francisco Mu-nicipal Transportation Agency (SFMTA) is adding four hour time limited parking and metered parking to all streets in that area.

Though the measure has strong backing from nearby businesses, with support from District 10 Supervisor Malia Cohen, some San Franciscans are concerned about the displacement of individuals living in oversized vehicles, who have used the curbs of Showplace to store their homes…

Meters are being added on 16th and Seventh streets near CCA, and on Henry Adams, Kansas, and Division streets, as well as on the block surrounding Showplace East. The rest of the area will have four hour time limits without residential parking permit restrictions. Due to sensitivity for homeless individuals, the SFMTA board of directors decided not to impose an overnight-oversized vehicle ban, though the enforced daytime turnover will impact these vehicles. Although more than 400 meters are being installed, according to Andy Thornley, SFMTA senior project analyst, over the past few years 750 meters have been taken off the streets, Citywide.  There are fewer meters in San Francisco now than in 2013. … (more)

There are fewer parking spaces now because the goal of SFMTA is to eliminate as many as they can. They have gone after many parking metered spaces, such as the ones they took off of Mission Street recently and the ones they are getting ready to remove from Van Ness and Lombard soon.

It is this mania to remove parking and traffic lanes that has the public ready for their heads, or at least elimination of their jobs, that is responsible for the growing support for a Charter Amendment that would unwind parts of Prop E and K. More details on that: stopsfmta.com

  Continue reading

Merchant concerns only half of Muni battle

By Joe Fitzgerald Rodriguez : sfexaminer – excerpt

On the surface, a meeting in the Mission District on Monday night was meant for the community to weigh in on new “red carpet” bus-only lanes on Mission Street. The lanes rolled out in February and stretch from 14th to 30th streets.

But the meeting exploded.

“A woman got hit by a car on Cesar Chavez!” shouted Roberto Hernandez, a community advocate often called the “Mayor of the Mission.”

Hernandez decried transit officials for allowing the new red lanes to cause traffic mayhem, not reaching out enough to residents and for hurting small businesses in his life-long home.

Half of the meeting’s 200 attendees cheered in support. The other half howled for Hernandez to stop.

In the crowd, two men stood within a few inches of each other’s faces, pointing and shouting.

This same scene has played out at recent Geary Boulevard and Taraval Street transportation meetings and may soon play out at West Portal, too.

Merchants from those neighborhoods were present for the Mission meeting as well.

A tide of merchant and neighborhood resentment is rising against the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency — and they’re now banding together for support.

“I think it’s real clear a citywide coalition is in the formation and building to really address how we need to put a stop to the way [the SFMTA] is planning,” Hernandez told the San Francisco Examiner on Wednesday.

And in small ways, those merchants are winning… (more)

Continue reading

Frustrated Residents Pack Meeting on Mission Street Changes

By Laura Wenus : missionlocal – excerpt  (videos included)

Sylvia Alvarez-Lynch talks as SFMTA Director Ed Reiskin listens.

With more than 100 people packed into a sweltering room, tempers ran hot at a three-hour meeting held by the San Francisco Municipal Transit Agency to get feedback on the agency’s new transit lanes and turn restrictions along Mission Street.

The changes, which were rolled out in March, include the creation of transit-only lanes, the prohibition of left turns for the entire corridor of 13th to Cesar Chavez streets, forced right turns at certain intersections, and the removal of a few bus stops within two blocks of one another.

Despite outreach efforts from the transit agency, which director Ed Reiskin said were among the agency’s most extensive, many people at Monday’s meeting said they felt unwarned about the changes, disrespected once they offered opinions, or generally unheard at all.

While many commentators – pedestrians, transit users, and a few drivers – voiced approval, many business owners and drivers were livid…(more)

Waiting for months to correct a mistake that is killing businesses is not an option. The Mission is working on a plan. No more top down designs. Look for a strong showing against the SFMTA in November if they don’t fix the problems now and drop the red lane plans for other neighborhoods. Looks like the SFMTA needs to be trained to serve the public. They want to SHIFT our attitude. They are the ones who need to SHIFT their priorities and policies.


SFMTA may amend Mission ‘red carpet’ bus lane project