The Google bus program is in trouble

By Tim Redmond : 48hills – excerpt

New political reality on the board means the days of giving everything away to the tech industry may be over (for now)

The Google bus program is in a bit of trouble. And that reflects a significant new dynamic on the Board of Supervisors.

The supes were supposed to vote today on an appeal of the city’s decision that a permanent tech-shuttle program needs no environmental review. That’s a complex legal issue, but it involves a huge set of political questions: Did the city get the best deal possible from the tech and shuttle companies? Are the buses causing displacement, and should that be part of the mitigation? Are there too many buses, and is the city regulating them tightly enough?

Instead, Sups. David Campos and Norman Yee moved to continue the appeal for two weeks, so that all the stakeholders can have a chance to meet and see if they can work something out.

These sorts of continuances are pretty standard, and it’s unusual for anyone to oppose a request for extra time to negotiate an appeal.

There’s a lot of evidence that the tech shuttles do, indeed, drive up housing costs. Even so, Campos noted that “none of us here are saying the shuttles should go away.” The question, as a pilot program becomes permanent, is whether there are strong enough regulations, whether the shuttle operators are paying their fair share to use Muni stops, and whether the plan that the Municipal Transportation Agency has put forward is the right one.

Sup. Eric Mar said that he wants to see the city “mitigate the horrible impacts of too many shuttles.”.

In 2016, if the Google buses want to operate in the city, they’ll have to follow some real rules. I suspect this means Airbnb will be facing a similar dynamic. The days of tech-at-all costs are coming to an end. For now… (more)


Car Sharing Programs Need to Share Public Parking Spaces, Say Merchants

By Jessica Zimmer : potreroview – excerpt

As car sharing programs experience an increase in demand, Potrero Hill and Dogpatch merchants are concerned that the public parking spots set aside for the services are negatively impacting their customers and neighborhood traffic. 

In 2013 the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency (SFMTA) approved a pilot project that created reserved parking spots for three roundtrip car share programs.  The project extends to 2016, and includes nonprofits City CarShare and Getaround, as well as ZipCar, a for-profit company. Pilot participants pay a monthly $225 fee for each of the reserved spots, are responsible for maintaining the spaces, as well as 25 feet in front of and behind them in lieu of street cleaning crews doing the work, and collect and share data with SFTMA about who uses the reserved spots and how. Car share users are required to bring the vehicles back to the reserved spots…. (more)

In pilot scheme, San Francisco gives away public parking to carsharing companies

By : pando – excerpt

A few mornings ago I chanced on a 9”x11” slice bearing the emblem of the Municipal Transportation Agency, on a phone pole outside my apartment.

It concerned an MTA pilot project currently underway which will commercialize a public resource and grant special permission for its use for a select group of local disruptive companies, providing them competitive advantages

And it had nothing to do with Google buses. Sounds like a story, I thought, greedily, submitting to the subsequent chain of Pavlovian reactions.

Yet, it wasn’t quite the story I thought it was.

The notice announced a public hearing for two parking spots on my block that were proposed to be taken over by Zipcar, the preeminent carsharing company owned by Avis. Those spots are among 900 currently intended to be converted to car-sharing use over the next two years, divided equally among Zipcar, City Car Share and Getaround.

Another MTA Pilot, the Commuter Shuttles Policy and Pilot Project, emerged this spring to infamy and outrage. That program, which charges commuter shuttles $1 per use of city bus stops, has been operational since June 1st, so far without incident. The wave of bus blockades and protests that preceded it have also subsided.

The newest surge of tech-revulsion in San Francisco has centered on apps like MonkeyParking and ParkModo, which propose to pay some users to occupy parking spots until other users need them. The outrage these apps have induced has made it all the way to City Attorney’s office, and hinges on the unseemliness (and illegality) of private companies profiting off of public parking, an already scarce resource.

One would expect that news of the city giving away parking spots to a select group of companies would provide a healthy dose of grist to this rage-mill. Perhaps oddly, that hasn’t really been the case…

City Carshare is the elder statesman in the car-sharing market. And I don’t use the word ‘statesman’ lightly: the organization is a non-profit that, in addition to providing a service nearly identical to that of Zipcar, receives grants and donations to influence policy and legislation around “shared mobility”, and develops programs to the ensure the social equity and environmental sustainability of car sharing…

In 2011, City Carshare funded and implemented a similar but smaller pilot in partnership with the MTA. The current program derives from the lessons learned and data gathered during that first experiment. City Carshare and the MTA both point to the success of Zipcar and emergence of other competitors as proof of principle. By opening the playing field to other car sharing outfits and collecting the same data from each, the MTA hopes to better understand the effectiveness of different models.

Of the three chosen, Getaround may raise the most question marks. As a peer-to-peer car sharing network, Getaround users rent cars by the hour, as they do with Zipcar and City Carshare. But Getaround’s fleet of vehicles are private cars owned by other users. While car owners will have to pay to use the spots provided by the MTA (as do Zipcar and City Carshare), they also get paid to do so. Getaround estimates that owners make an average of $500 per month, with top earners clearing a grand…

The MTA will be hosting public hearings for spaces requested by the three organizations throughout the summer, after which the proposed spaces will be sent to the MTA’s (mayor-appointed) Board of Directors. By which I mean to say, speak now or forever hold your peace. A map of the spots requested can be found here.

The absence of backlash until now suggests either that the combatants in the so-called “culture war” in San Francisco are maturing or that the program is successfully flying under the radar. Either way, the atmosphere seems hospitable for public engagement.

Any cogent argument about the MTA’s current public-private programs has to rise above the level of “It’s capitalism and if you don’t like it, you can leave” or “Corporations are evil”, to address the complexities of the City’s efforts to reduce the number of cars in its streets and the validity of its mandate to do so.

For any still-unconvinced, self-proclaimed anarchists, I suggest consulting the American anarchist canon before taking up thy bullhorn. In particular, have a look at Paul Goodman’s 1961 essay “Banning Cars in Manhattan,” in which he proposed substituting private cars with increased mass transit and electric taxicabs. Ask yourself, anarchist, whether shared car services deserve parking spaces in your utopia… (more)

Thanks for the detailed information on the program.

Most of the effort so far has been to get an initiative on the ballot in November. Now that is secured, there is time for a broader discussion about the “shared economy”.  The public space giveaway to corporations program just feeds more anger and bitterness toward the SFMTA.

SFMTA Pilot Offers Slight Change in Tech Shuttle Map

By misisonlocal – excerpt

When the SFMTA’s new pilot program to regulate tech shuttles starts in August, neighbors may not notice huge changes. Despite coming in the wake of significant neighborhood complaints about the shuttles’ omnipresence, the pilot program will shift the location of stops but not decrease the actual number of stops operating in the Mission… (more)

Muni pilot programs floated to improve transit along the waterfront

by : sfexaminer – excerpt

The Warriors’ arena, the Giants’ Mission Rock redevelopment and Pier 70 mixed-use development are far from concrete proposals, but The City is not waiting to get transportation accommodations along the waterfront on the ground.

And with the public’s nod, several pilot programs aimed at transit solutions for the area from Crissy Field to Hunters Point Shipyard could launch as early as this spring.

The potential pilots arise from discussions around a Waterfront Transportation Assessment that began in October 2012 and wrapped up last December. Phase two of the assessment, which analyzes transportation conditions along the waterfront over the next quarter century, involves several community meetings through June. At a 6:30 p.m. meeting Wednesday at Pier 1, the Piers 30-32 Citizens Advisory Subcommittee could give the stamp of approval to some pilots… (more)

Muni aims to relieve crowding on 5-Fulton line with pilot project

by : sfexaminer – excerpt

Riders of the crowded 5-Fulton Muni line could see relief as the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency implements a yearlong pilot.

If the SFMTA board approves a pilot project during its meeting today, a 5-Fulton Limited and 5-Fulton Short would result in more frequent service between the temporary Transbay Terminal and Sixth Avenue, the route’s most crowded portion. Modifications to the existing service along the 5-mile corridor would remove 16 of 114 parking spaces, according to the SFMTA staff report. Travel lanes on Fulton Street between Stanyan Street and Central Avenue would be reduced from four to three to improve bus and pedestrian safety. In addition, 9 percent of customers would need to walk an extra block due to bus stop consolidation.

“While individually these proposals have relatively small impacts on transit running time, reliability and crowding, a holistic application of these types of improvements along an entire line has not been implemented in San Francisco,” a report on the project states.

Data on the pilot, ready for implementation this fall, would be collected and analyzed at the six-month and one-year marks. The proposed service changes, vetted broadly in the agency’s Transit Effectiveness Project, are reversible… (more)

Is anyone adding up the number of parking spaces they SFMTA is removing from city streets? Or the number of traffic lanes they are removing?

SFMTA to Widen Bike Lane, Remove Traffic Lane on Folsom in SoMa

by Aaron Bialick : sf.streetsblog – excerpt

The SFMTA will re-purpose a general traffic lane to widen and buffer the existing bike lane on Folsom Street between Fourth and 11th Streets by the end of the year, the agency announced today.

The pilot project, which comes about six weeks after 24-year-old Amelie Le Moullac was killed on her bike by a truck driver at Folsom and Sixth Streets, will upgrade the current narrow bike lane to a buffered bike lane, apparently similar to a project implemented on Eighth Street last July,  when that street was repaved…
In addition to providing a less stressful and more visible lane for bicycle commuters on Folsom, the redesign should help tame motor traffic and shorten the distances pedestrians must cross in front of moving motor vehicles on one of SoMa’s notoriously dangerous one-way, high-speed motorways.
“The buffered bicycle lane in this pilot will create a safer, less intimidating street,” said Mayor Ed Lee in a statement, “while giving us an opportunity to study how measures like these can be implemented in dense and rapidly growing areas of San Francisco to make our city streets safer for everyone.”…
a two-way protected bike lane on Folsom is called for in the Eastern Neighborhoods Transportation Implementation Planning Study (EN TRIPS) and the Central Corridor Plan, but it’s undergoing environmental review, which is expected to be completed in June 2015. The protected bikeway wouldn’t be implemented until some time after that…  (more)

SFMTA Announces Folsom Street Pilot Project
Dedicated Bike Lane Plan For Folsom Street Expected To Cost $253,000

The SFMTA needs to spend some of their PR funds informing the public what the rules of the road are.
The fastest way to solve the cyclists problems on Folsom Street is to install signs that say “Bicycle and right turn lane only.” They have those signs for the bus lanes downtown. How hard is it to put them in the bike lanes.

SFMTA plans another pilot project. This time they want to rearrange Fulton

SFMTA – excerpt

5-Fulton Pilot Project Wednesday, August 7, 2013, 6:30 pm
Richmond Police Station, 461 6th Avenue
The SFMTA proposes a pilot project along the 5 Fulton corridor that will introduce limited-stop service to provide quicker trips and will increase frequency to reduce crowding between 6th Avenue and Downtown. The target implementation date is fall 2013… (more)

5 Fulton from Market Street to La Playa
Muni’s 5 Fulton bus route carries about 19,000 daily customers on an average weekday. The route’s study corridor is 5.6 miles long and includes Fulton Street between La Playa and Central Avenue, Central Avenue between Fulton and McAllister streets, and McAllister Street between Central Avenue and Market Street. Within the study corridor, the 5 Fulton serves over 13,000 customers on an average weekday.
Within the study area, the 5 Fulton operates at an average speed of 9.7 miles per hour during peak periods. Sources of delay include closely spaced bus stops, traffic congestion and frequent STOP signs along the route in the Western Addition… (more)

If you get to the meeting, if there is a meeting, be sure to ask them where the money is coming from and why they don’t just put it into Muni operations instead of rearranging more of our streets. If there is one street where traffic flows and there is no traffic congestion it is Fulton. If the buses are slow, it has nothing to do with the traffic flow.

techsportation – excerpt

SFMTA to allow designated on-street parking for peer-to-peer carsharing vehicles

SFMTA released a draft of its Car Sharing Policy and Pilot Project. They are announcing a pilot project to allocate some on-street parking spaced to carsharing and peer-to-peer carsharing vehicles in San Francisco. Peer-to-peer carsharing vehicles are cars owned by individuals that are available for the general public to use via services like GetAround and Relay Rides.
The pilot will allocate up to 150 spaces (0.05% of the total on-street spaces in San Francisco) to carsharing. Only two spaces per block at most will be allocated.
In order for peer-to-peer cars to be included, they must be available for use by the general public 75% of the time. How this is enforced or monitored is not indicated… (more)

Check out the On-street carsharing Zones.
Comments are welcome.

Green Operations: Wireless Parking in San Francisco

By John Watts : – excerpt

Motorists in downtown San Francisco are participating in a pilot project that allows them to use their wireless devices to locate empty parking spaces on city streets. This novel program is designed to reduce carbon emissions, traffic congestion and save valuable time… (more)

I posted a comment on the site to set the record straight, but don’t see it. I pointed out the obvious. The first driver that sees the space gets it. Generally it is the first driver who watches the exiting car, not someone around the corner or blocks away who sees it on a screen. Wonder how much time and money the SFMTA officials spent setting up this program.