My turn: Public-private partnerships are an industry gimmick that don’t serve public well

By Cathrina Barros : calmatters – exccerpt

The start of a new legislative session inevitably brings calls from industry for lawmakers to authorize privatizing state highway projects through so-called “public-private partnerships.”

That would be a mistake.

Proponents claim multiple benefits such as cost savings and efficiency. But they fail to mention that previous highway projects in our state built with the same scheme they seek have not delivered as promised.

In fact, they are marked by taxpayer bailouts, cost overruns and bankruptcies.

Let’s take a look at the record…

People who want to hand public highway projects over to private interests claim that cost overruns are the responsibility of the developer, not taxpayers.

Tell that to the California Transportation Commission, which in 2017 spent $91 million to cover unexpected cost overruns to the Presidio Parkway developer… (more)

On a local level, SFMTA and their enterprise partners have taken over large swaths of public space in various public/private enterprises that are hard to pin down. It is extremely difficult for the public to access information on the financial details of these agreements, though many attempts have been made. Ask the taxi drivers how their medallion investments have turned out or the firm that financed them. What we end up with is privatization of public property. Rarely does the enterprise benefit the public. If anything, the public/private enterprises become an easy way to hide disbursement of funds from the public.

It appears that Governor Newsom is giving up on the largest boondoggle in recent memory that was supposed to be a public/private enterprise but never caught the imagination of any big money investors. He is suspending High Speed Rail, limiting it to the area that has already been built. Putting the rest of the project on ice. It seems that no one really expects that train to bring in the billions it will take to break even.

Updated: Mapping Bay Area Transportation Mega Projects

by Michael Conrad : sf.curbed.com – excerpt

Just last month we wrote about Bay Area Transportation Mega Projects, which featured a map of massive transportation projects under or awaiting construction. Readers chimed in about projects we skipped, so we thought it best to update the map. It now includes 15 of the largest projects that will, for better or worse, change the way we travel around our beloved bay region… (more)

Good work!

The great car slowdown

EDITORIAL : Guardian Editorial – excerpt

Could lowering the speed limit help us reach our biking goal by 2020?
It’s going to be hard to reach San Francisco’s official bike transportation goal, which calls for 20 percent of all vehicle trips to be taken by bicycle by 2020. Everyone in town knows that; everyone at City Hall and in the biking community agrees that some profound and radical steps would need to be taken to increase bike trips by more than 500 percent in just eight years…

But the city, it turns out, doesn’t have the power to unilaterally lower speed limits: State law requires speed limits to be set based on formulas determined by median vehicle speeds. That seems awfully old-fashioned and out of touch with modern urban transportation policy, which increasingly emphasizes bikes, pedestrians, and transit, and city officials ought to be asking the state Legislature to review those rules and give more latitude to cities that want to control traffic speed…

In the meantime, Reskin argues that a lot can be done by redesigning streets, using bulb-outs and barriers to discourage speeding..

So now we know the real reason for all the annoying changes on our streets. They want to slow down the speed of the cars. So do these new speed limits apply to bicycles? What kind of ticket do they give a speeding bicycle, or better yet, a bicycle running a red light?

(more)

This reminds me of the chant “Bikes against Cars”,  from “Ride Hard, Die Fast”, an avant garde theatre production by Snake Theater.

Transit First was created in 1973 to fund Muni and help balance the transit needs of the city, not coerce drivers onto bicycles. How does this kind of attitude balance anything?

No wonder the drivers are ready to revolt.

Now wait for the real shoe to drop when the Bicycle Coalition and the Port Authority support the Mayor’s Central Subway tunnel. What have those three got in common other than a desire for public money?