Public Transportation Industry Generates Profit out of Public Debt.

Op-Ed

When analyzing public debt sources, don’t leave the Transportation Industrial Complex out of your list of bloodsucking debt boosters. Look at who supports the candidates running for office, but, don’t stop there. Look at the product developers and manufacturers that are selling parking systems, paint, concrete, and parking meters and traffic control systems and all the other fancy new toys our cities are buying on credit. All those fancy apps and up-to-date signs and electronic gizmos are boosting sales and draining pubic coffers. Sit in on a meeting of experimental devices and you can hear the electronic cash register zing.

San Francisco’s largest employer is the city of San Francisco and the largest department is the SFMTA. This year, all city departments and agencies were told to cut back on new hires, but, SFMTA is trying to add more. Their budget is 1.2 billion dollars and that is just their spending money. The long term debt is indecently high and has been for too long. Do we really need more than 6,000 people to run the SF Muni system? If there is a cheaper, has disruptive alternative, the SFMTA will never approve it. They need the Cadillac model of everything.

How many other cities are going into debt to service their public transportation industry? San Francisco can’t be alone in this predicament. How many public servants can society support and why is there so much pressure being put on the public to depend on the government for transportation when it costs so much less for people to transport themselves? Forcing non-users to support the public transit system makes it easier to hide the extremely high cost of this program and the debt that the public is taking on.

We need a leaner, meaner transportation department. Instead of being forced to provide an affordable, reliable basic transportation system for people who need it, the SFMTA is blowing billions of dollars on the most expensive, least reliable, high tech system they can dream up. And they have no limits or boundaries until the voters wise up and demand a change. A couple of our Supervisors are working on an Ordinance and possible Charter Amendment to address some of the complaints citizens are lodging against the SFMTA.

Ask your public officials how much the public transportation system they are trying to force down your throat is costing each citizen in your county, and vote NO on RM3 when it comes up, to cut the powers of the regional MTC and send a message to the transportation industry and the government that supports it to cut costs.

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Poll finds possible measures to fund SF transit lack two-thirds support

By Joe Fitzgerald Rodriguez : sfexaminer – excerpt

A new survey found a majority of San Francisco voters enthusiastic to approve new funding measures for transportation — but those measures may lack the two-thirds voter support needed to pass…

The results of the survey will be presented to the transportation authority Board of Directors, which is comprised of the Board of Supervisors, on Jan. 9… (more)

CITIZENS REVOLT. The lack of trust in the SFMTA is growing and probably accounts for the lack of public support for more transit funds. Maybe the City Hall should consider passing a SFMTA Charter amendment, changing SFMTA management, fixing the gridlock, reversing the traffic lane diet, giving the public back their streets and parking and returning the bus stops and seats to the Muni riders, before asking for more money. By then they might have opened the Central Subway, and finished some of the many projects that are hanging people up now and may be blamed for the debts the department is accruing. Hint: Stop all new street project starts until the current ones are done and paid for!

SF wants access to Uber and Lyft data to tackle traffic congestion

By Joe Fitgerald Rodriguez : sfexaminer – excerpt

Two San Francisco government groups are taking aim at traffic congestion allegedly caused by ride-hail companies Uber and Lyft.

Supervisor Aaron Peskin on Tuesday introduced resolutions at both the San Francisco County Transportation Authority, which he chairs, and also at the San Francisco Board of Supervisors calling on state legislators to grant cities the ability to peek at trip data from ride-hail companies.

Mayor Ed Lee quickly signaled his support for the resolution Tuesday.

I think asking for data is good, and that data should inform us in how to relieve that (traffic) congestion,” he told the San Francisco Examiner.

That data is sent to the California Public Utilities Commission, but for years they have shielded it from public view.

The CPUC granted confidentiality of trip data to Uber and Lyft after the companies argued the data could be used by one another to gain a competitive advantage.

Requests for data “continue to be denied by the CPUC,” Peskin told the transportation authority board on Tuesday.

Both the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency and the SFCTA have repeatedly asked the CPUC for Uber and Lyft trip data, and were denied...(more)

The over saturation of Ubers and Lyfts could be solved by stopping the unwinnable war on cars. If the money that has gone into lane removal, bus stop musical chairs, and traffic alterations was spent on purchasing more buses, adding bus lines, and replacing bus seats you would not have the loss of ridership that you have seen since the SFMTA initiated programs to alter bus routes, eliminate stops and remove bus seats. Do you want to walk further to a bus stop and then stand on the bus when you can be sitting in a car? Why do you think people are avoiding Muni and BART on the weekends. No matter how much paint you put on the pig it is still a pig. This pig wreaks of false assumptions that are turning into a big pile of public debt.

S.F. voters framed the problems, now must work on solutions

By Corey D. Cook : sfgate – excerpt

…What is most striking about Tuesday’s San Francisco election is not what was resolved but what voters said and what remains to be done. I would suggest that we view this election more as prologue to further public discussion and decision-making rather than conclusion…

Surveys over the past year indicated that San Franciscans came into this election strikingly ambivalent — generally favorable about the state of the economy and positive about the performance of our elected officials but anxious about the future of the city. The top concerns: the high and rising cost of housing; inadequate public transportation; maintaining high quality public schools, and addressing homelessness. This ambivalence resulted in voters overwhelmingly re-electing incumbents (with few exceptions) and expressing clear priorities if not clear prescriptions on policy. What we learned…

S.F. voters framed the problems, now must work on solutions

Election night is a great spectacle. It starts with seemingly endless possibilities that narrow as the number of precincts reporting ticks upward. By the end, the returns sort winners from losers and anoint those to be celebrated. Then it is immediately on to the next election in our cycle of perpetual political campaigns. Reportedly, the ABC National Exit Poll included questions about Hillary Rodham Clinton’s prospects in the 2016 election. I’m just a political scientist, but I thought the idea was to ask people what they did, not what they think they will do two years from now. While the horse-race approach provides drama, it overemphasizes the contests — and vastly overstates the decisiveness of the outcomes.

So it is with the local elections. What is most striking about Tuesday’s San Francisco election is not what was resolved but what voters said and what remains to be done. I would suggest that we view this election more as prologue to further public discussion and decision-making rather than conclusion.

Surveys over the past year indicated that San Franciscans came into this election strikingly ambivalent — generally favorable about the state of the economy and positive about the performance of our elected officials but anxious about the future of the city. The top concerns: the high and rising cost of housing; inadequate public transportation; maintaining high quality public schools, and addressing homelessness. This ambivalence resulted in voters overwhelmingly re-electing incumbents (with few exceptions) and expressing clear priorities if not clear prescriptions on policy. What we learned:…

On inadequate public transportation:Voters considered Proposition A, a $500 million Transportation and Road Improvement Bond; Proposition B, an increase in the funding set-aside for the Municipal Railway indexed to population growth; and Proposition L, a reversal of the city’s “transit first” policy to advance driving-friendly approaches to parking, transportation funding and traffic. Take away: In overwhelmingly approving Props. A and B and in rejecting Prop. L (all by more than 20 points) voters reaffirmed their commitment to a “transit first” policy. Now the discussion will revolve around the necessary steps of public investment in transportation infrastructure… (more)

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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

 

SFMTA issues $75 million bond for infrastructure needs

by : sfexaminer – excerpt

Last month, Mayor Ed Lee’s 2030 Transportation Task Force recommended a $10.1 billion investment into The City’s transit system over the next 15 years. The San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency announced last week it had raised $75 million toward that goal through a bond issuance, a power voters granted in 2007… (more)

” Repayment of the bonds will come from the transit agency’s operating budget.”
They are borrowing money to pay the interests on the outstanding loans. Is this a good idea?

Why not pay for it with the developer’s fees instead of allowing the in kind deals. Do you really want to spend the bond money to finance the debt of the bulb-outs and bike lanes? Or would you rather spend the money to keep the Muni lines you depend on?
If you are fed up with this approach, consider signing our Petition to Stop SFMTA and join us in our fight to take back our streets.

Geary Boulevard’s underpass days could be over

by : sfexaminer – excerpt

The recessed section of Geary Boulevard near Fillmore Street has long separated the Western Addition and Japantown neighborhoods, but with future projects possibly bringing in funds to level the street, city officials are calling for plans to be drawn up about reunifying the areas.
Several long-awaited revamps for Geary Boulevard are finally making progress, including the Geary Corridor Bus Rapid Transit project. Part of that project could fund the infill of the underpass at Geary Boulevard and Fillmore Street.
Supervisors London Breed and Eric Mar, whose districts include the areas to the south and north, respectively, have called for a hearing involving numerous city agencies about how pieces of the project can begin to move forward…
Filling in the roadway could cost millions. The project has been estimated at $40 million…
“It’s really about closing the divide in these two communities,” Lauterborn said
A meeting for the entire Geary project is scheduled for Wednesday, July 31, at the Richmond District YMCA, located at 360 18th St… (more)

Stop spending money!

$40 million to fill an underpass to “close the divide” in these two communities?”, even thought they want to lower the 280 to create this divided effect). They are short $10 million plus for the Bay Bridge bolts, $300 million for the Transbay Terminal, and who know how much for the Chinatown tunnel. Finish something and pay for it before you start a new project.

Transbay project in $300 million hole

By Michael Cabanatuan : sfgate – excerpt

San Francisco’s Transbay Transit Center, the so-called Grand Central station of the West that’s now just a deep hole in the ground, will cost $300 million more than anticipated, Bay Area transportation officials were told Wednesday.
And that financial hole could grow deeper, cautioned Steve Heminger, executive director of the Metropolitan Transportation Commission, the Bay Area transportation planning and financing agency.
“We may not have seen the end of it,” he said. “This is a very costly project.”…

Funding elusive
To cover the hefty cost increase, Heminger said, the authority will use some of the money that had been dedicated to the second phase of the project – the downtown extension that would carry trains from Fourth and King streets to the Transbay center. That portion of the project had never been fully funded, and is a key Bay Area project competing for major federal funding. But the soaring cost of the first phase means it will be an even bigger challenge to find the funding to lay rails to the new transit center… (more)

San Francisco is the city that knows how to spend.
Now it needs to figure out how to pay.

Muni’s mismanagement of Prop. A may hurt future funding tries

Will Reisman : SFExaminer – excerpt

San Francisco voters in November of next year will likely be asked to approve about $590 million in tax increases and bond measures for transportation improvements in The City. If the initiatives have any chance of passing — no certainty with high thresholds for approval — advocates of the plans will have to convince a skeptical public that they’ve learned their lesson from the last time they asked voters for money.
In 2007, the Board of Supervisors, led by then-President Aaron Peskin, backed Proposition A, a ballot measure intended to give the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency more control over revenue collected from parking meters and off-street lots. The initiative was projected to generate $26 million a year and help the agency toward its long-sought goal of fiscal solvency.
On the 2007 voter pamphlet, supporters of Prop. A said, “San Francisco can have the clean, safe and reliable transit system our world-class city deserves. This Charter Amendment is the next step.”… (more)

SFMTA RFP / option for 10,000 new parking meters / citizen opportunity to comment

Dear concerned citizen of San Francisco:
I wanted you to be aware of an important upcoming opportunity for you and your community to have a voice in the direction that our City takes with respect to the proposed installation of thousands of new parking meters.
Attached is a Request for Proposal by SFMTA which, among other things, gives SFMTA the option to purchase up to an additional 10,000 single space meters and up to 200 paystation meters (which equates to an aggregate total of something like up to 12,000 possible additional metered spaces).
10-16-12Item10.4parkingmeterprocurementRFP.pdf
These spaces, if ordered per the future contract, would be completely new and in addition to existing spaces (the RFP calls for replacement of 25,000 existing meters and 300 existing paystations).

How can you provide input to the City?: Once a company is selected and a proposed contract negotiated, it must be approved by both the SFMTA Board of Directors and the Board of Supervisors.  The public should have an opportunity to comment at both of these hearings.

No matter which company is selected, you and members of your community may want SFMTA to ask where they plan to put these 12,000 future metered spaces that they are giving themselves the ability to call for.  In addition, before the existing meters are replaced, you may wish to ask the City to evaluate its current parking meter program and reform and fix problems first.
Also, since the private company Serco is the current city contractor on most or all of its parking meter contracts, it is reasonable to assume that there is good chance that Serco will be selected.  If Serco is selected, that will give a further opportunity for concerned citizens to voice concerns they may have regarding whether there are as yet uninvestigated conflicts of interest with respect to Serco employees who work at SFMTA and who help them implement parking management proposals that put new meters into the City.  Other citizens may have concerns about the actions that Serco has undertaken in other parts of the US and the world and may want those considered as well.
Below is the schedule that was in the RFP.  It contemplates that a company will be selected and a proposed contract negotiated in the very near future and that it would be brought before the SFMTA Board of Directors in May 2013 and before the Board of Supervisors in June 2013.
If you are interested in this, you and those in your community should keep track of this process and consider availing yourselves of this opportunity to have the City pause and consider its overall “parking management strategy”, including consideration of safeguards against meters in residential neighborhoods… (more)

Where is SFMTA planning to get the money for these meters? They are already looking at cutting money out of the Muni budget to pay for the Pagoda lease. Ever wonder why they never add to the Muni but only take from it?

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