Unspent Muni bond draws ire of SF supervisors

By Joshua Sabatini : sfexaminer – excerpt

Board of Supervisors President London Breed, with the support of Supervisor Aaron Peskin, requested a hearing Tuesday to determine why the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency, which operates Muni, isn’t spending the $500 million in bond money voters approved in November 2014 even when there is so much need.
“Almost two and half years later, do you know how much of the $500 million has actually been spent to improve our transportation infrastructure?” Breed asked. “Twelve — $12 million. Twenty-seven months later, the MTA has spent 2 percent of the bonds we all authorized—the bonds we all said were urgently needed.”
Breed noted that the unused bond money is incurring interest payments and the value is decreasing with time, but also emphasized the importance of spending the funding on pressing needs…(more)

We deserve a list of the projects this money is being held for and details on how that money was allocated. The process is flawed. Too much emphasis is being put on future projects while nothing is being done to increase capacity or maintain the fleet of buses we have today. Our SFMTA has no interest in running the system they are charged with running efficiently or economically. All they care about is their new planning department and the latest digital gizmo they can put in the bus shelters to entertain and placate us. Thanks to the Supervisors for demanding some answers.

Holding onto 500 million while crying for more money. This is why the public does not trust the SFMTA and why they voted against the last sales tax pitch. At some point the voters were promised road repair in one of those sales pitches and we didn’t get it.
Everyone complains about potholes. Muni riders complain about how bumpy the ride is. Guess why it is bumpy? The potholes are destroying their shocks along with everyone elses. Use that money to fix the potholes before painting the streets or changing any more lanes. There are streets all over town with no plans to do anything to them. Fix those first.

RELATED:
SFMTA thrown under the bus over disuse of bond funds

Sunset Tunnel’s crumbling interior may end $19 million renovation

The cost of building San Francisco’s Sunset Tunnel has just grown by $3 million more, after the discovery of a crumbling interior inside the tunnel has the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency doling out even more money to see if the project is salvageable.

The Sunset Tunnel tracks for the N-Line were built in 1928 and are now used for the city’s N-Judah light-rail vehicles.

A report from the SFMTA has found that the during the tunnel’s renovation last winter, the conduit began to crumble and exposed “live feeder cables,” adding that there is a “high probability of hidden damages” that might cause the Muni to stop operating in the location for good… (more)

Looks like SFMTA has more important things to do than they can keep track of. Why are they spending money on Red Lanes and BRTs when they need to shore up tunnels and bridges? It boggles the mind sometimes where the priorities lie. If they can’t take care of this problem a lot more people will start driving again.

Study shows bad roads, traffic jams are costing Bay Area drivers

by : abc7news – excerpt

Nonprofit transportation research group TRIP says 79 percent, or nearly 8 out of 10, major roads in San Jose can be classified as being in poor condition or worse. That’s costing drivers nearly $900 a year in added costs for things like fuel, repairs, depreciation and tire wear.

It all adds up – congestion delays, potholes and accidents. TRIP says Bay Area drivers are paying for it right out of their pockets. Statewide, it costs well over $53 billion yearly – nearly $2,500 per driver in San Jose…

And if commuters are hoping public transit is the best alternative, that’s not always the case.

“Our buses are traveling on the same infrastructure that everybody else is on. They’re in the same traffic as everyone else is in, and so it’s critical to try and fix some of the problems that we have with our transportation infrastructure,” VTA spokesperson Stacey Hendler Ross said…(more)

We heard there is an economic downturn. This waste of money is taking
a lot of discretionary income out of the consumers pockets so they are
spending less on everything else. The perfect storm of stagnant incomes
and higher housing costs and transportation costs is dragging down the
economy just as many predicted it would.

Is the solution to keep doing the same thing or change direction and
retreat? Hopefully the voters will make the right decision in November
and demand some changes at the local legal.

That would be YES on L in San Francisco. No more taxes until the transit agencies change their spending tactics. Why are transit agencies spending money on sidewalks and street treatments instead of fixing the streets and potholes?

SFMTA offers compromise over Mission Street red lanes

By Jerold Chinn : sfbay – excerpt

After anger erupted from merchants and residents from traffic changes made on Mission Street between March and April of this year, the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency now has a compromise it hopes will ease concerns from the community.

The project called the 14-Mission Rapid Project included changes on Mission Street between 14th and 30th streets that included a red-transit only lane for the 14-Mission and 49-Van Ness/Mission routes, a number of restricted left turns and forced right turns at some intersections.

Officials said the goal of the project was to improve the reliability of the two Mission Street Muni routes and to improve traffic safety in the corridor.

Since the implementation of the traffic changes, merchants have said that patrons are having a harder time accessing stores, which has led to a decrease in sales for some merchants. Drivers have also said that they have harder time accessing Mission Street merchants and finding parking, according to a survey conduced by the transit agency.

After a community meeting held in June with the SFMTA’s Director of Transportation Ed Reiskin and District 9 Supervisor David Campos, the transit agency has come up with a slightly different plan… (more)

SFMTA has a trust problem. The voting taxpaying public does not trust them to make wise decisions that will benefit the public. After 5 solid years of street diets and parking games, no one anticipates the SFMTA personnel on staff now to solve the traffic problems. We just want them to go away and leave us alone, starting with the boss. We are still waiting for the public apology.

 

Rose Pak Vows City Hall Blockade To Stop Stockton Street Pedestrian Mall

: sfist – excerpt

Chinatown organizer and activist Rose Pak is much to thank for the Central Subway project, a $1.5 billion, 1.7-mile undertaking to connect Chinatown to Market Street that was pitched in part as compensation for the removal of the 1989 earthquake-damaged Embarcadero Freeway, which was a conduit to her sometimes isolated neighborhood. But to build the Central Subway, Stockton Street has been closed to cars, damaging Union Square surrounding businesses. To make up for that fact, for the last two years the city has paused construction annually and created a pedestrian space between Market and Union square covered in astroturf called the Stockton Street Winter Walk..

Just one problem: Rose Pak is a major obstacle to the plan, having written to SFMTA Director of Transportation Ed Reiskin to criticize the idea in a letter obtained by Examiner at the end of last month. On behalf of the SF Chinese Chamber of Commerce, she claimed that a permanent pedestrian mall would “make permanent all the problems we’ve experienced,” which would be “unacceptable to our community.” As she told the Examiner with finality, “I consider the issue closed.”

“We have about 300 family associations, district associations, temples, churches,” Pak told CBS 5 with regard to the pedestrian mall. “Everybody is here. 100 percent of our businesses rely on delivery trucks. Look at Chinatown any hour. You can’t move.” Speaking of which, Pak will negotiate with a similar force. “Wait until I have my blockade of the MTA for a week and see how they like it,” she said. “We’ll have thousands of trucks and cars blockading the whole City Hall and MTA area for one week and see how they like it when no one can get in and out.” To clarify, “that’s a promise, not a threat,” Pak added…

However, “A lot of the merchants, a lot of the pedestrian activists and bike advocates are all saying this is something that would work,” the MTA’s Paul rose countered to CBS 5. Streetsblog appears to agree, pushing an effort to mobilize with a petition to move the pedestrian mall project along.

And, to touch on bicyclists, one prominent pro-bike voice, the parody account Bob Gunderson, has been “critical” of the Winter Walk, which is to say he’s clevelry promoted it. Gunderson’s blog, Dearest District 5, lampoons the likes of Rob Anderson, an actual opponent of bikes, by insisting that the Winter Walk has been a “carless nightmare.” In fact, “The Pedestrian Plaza was supposed to be all fun and games and a “relief from cars”, but it’s done nothing but tear apart families, ruin children’s dreams, and tank the Disney, Apple and Ferrari stores,” writes Gunderson. How long, surely he wonders, can this be permitted to endure?..(more)

 

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.

 

 

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.

RELATED:

SFMTA may amend Mission ‘red carpet’ bus lane project

By

Muni’s impact on small business

from hoodline – excerpt

May 9 Small Business Commission meeting: From transit-only lanes to the loss of parking spaces, neighborhood activists have been using the Commission as a venue to criticize San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency for projects that they say put small business in jeopardy. This meeting was no different.

Staffers from various departments within the SFMTA gave presentations on a variety of topics, including the agency’s public outreach, the residential parking permit program, capital projects and improvement projects on Lombard and Mission streets.

Neighborhood activists attended the meeting to speak during the public comment period on all items. They represented commercial corridors on which SFMTA has ongoing or recently-completed projects, including Mission Street, Geary Boulevard, Lombard Street and Taraval Street.

Safety was consistently cited by SFMTA staff as the reason behind all their improvement projects to heavily-used corridors.

The criticisms of those who commented on each item centered largely on the agency’s re-engineering of streets to accommodate transit, bicycles and pedestrians over private automobiles, leading to reduced auto traffic along commercial corridors and an attendant loss of parking spaces.

Bob Starzel, a representative with the Greater Geary Merchants and Property Owners Association, laid out the small business perspective of transit changes as a counterpoint to the City’s Transit First policy approach.

“If we took [SFMTA’s] numbers, and they were right, and only 30 percent of people drive, think to yourself what it means to your business if now some good proportion of that 30 percent is not gonna come to do business with you,” Starzel said. “What that means is your profit margin is hurt.”

SFMTA staff will continue appearing before the Commission to address how their projects and programs affect small businesses for the next few months… (more) Scroll the the page for this part of the article.

SFMTA is using our taxes to against us

Business owners all over town are doing a lot more than just going to meetings and City Hall. They are organizing to fight for their businesses. Fighting the taxes that feed the SFMTA are a big part of the fight.

Plans to remove traffic from our major commercial corridors are not the only thing SFMTA is doing to close businesses in the city. We know of at least three new taxes they have planned for us that are guaranteed to raise the cost of living and doing business in the Bay Area.

Prop AA – the SF Bay Authority (SFBA) is a new regional taxing entity that wants a $12 parcel tax from all property owners within a 9 county region. The claim they need it is to clean the Bay. There are plenty of other entities working on that already. If Prop AA passes the SFBA will request an additional 10 cents per gallon gas tax next. Do yourself a favor and vote against Prop AA. Look what happened when the voters voted down Prop L. They decided they could get away with tearing up our streets and removing street parking that is what they are doing. (more 0n Prop AA)

Another Sales Tax – The SFMTA assumes the voters will approve another half cent sales tax in November. In fact, they informed the Board of Supervisors that they have budgeted in that tax increase for the next two years. What will that and the parcel tax and the 10 cents per gallon do to the businesses in San Francisco? Let your supervisors know how you feel about these regressive taxes.

If you haven’t yet signed the StopSFMTA petition, please do and share it with your friends. Join the many who are fighting to keep San Francisco for the residents who live here. Leave a comment below if you want to be put in touch with your local business organization.

Well, just about any transit project is eligible to apply for Federal funds.

(Quick clarification – the Bay Area gets a lot of “formula” funds for transit.  How they are used are up to MTC and the transit agencies, but, in general, these are all spoken for – if they were transferred for other purposes, such as a major capital project, then that means a whole lot of over-the-hill buses would not be replaced at the ends of their useful life, a lot of rail lines will not be given required maintenance, etc.  In addition to the transit programs – of which 49 USC 5307 is by far the largest – there are also three highway “flexible” funds, with CMAQ and STP being the vast majority.  These can be used for transit, again, pretty much at the option of MTC, but, given the extreme underfunding of Bay Area road maintenance, unlikely to occur.  What we are probably talking about is the Federal discretionary capital grant program for transit, which is mainly 49 USC 5309 “new starts.”)

Since the Obama administration has pretty much changed the rules so that factors like ridership, etc., aren’t really part of the evaluation process any more, so, if the Bay Area made this a high priority, it would likely have a chance.  However, there is only so much money to go around nationally, and there is a limit to how much money any region is going to get, and there is an unlimited amount of other requests for this funding, so the real question is, how far up to the top of the list this will be.

The other interesting factor is that it is getting real questionable how much money for transit programs there is going to be.  With the Republicans controlling both houses, and the D’s not really into the program, there hasn’t been a new transportation authorization bill for quite a while, just short-term extensions and, right now, it is difficult to see how there will be a long-term extension any time soon.  Without that, not a whole lot of money for any new projects.  Not saying impossible, am saying makes it more difficult.

OK, let’s step back and take a wild turn.  Let’s say that the objective is to create a transit system that will carry the most people, get it done the quickest, and do it at the lowest cost to taxpayers.  Not really the way things are done, of course, particularly in the Bay Area, but, just as a thing to think about.  OK, going down that road, the way to go is to run long-haul commuter buses on an I-580 HOT lane from the Central Valley to the existing BART end station.  Such lines can be started within two years (the biggest time-taker is getting the buses delivered, now that the roadway is getting close to completion), there are just about no costs for the right-of-way, and this is the type of transit service that has the highest farebox recovery ratio – over 90% is not at all uncommon, although I’m not going to make that kind of prediction without a lot of study.

This would have also been the right way to go before BART went over the hill to the Tri-Valley.  Of course, it was never even considered as an option.

– TR, Transit specialist

This pretty much back up what many of us have been saying for some time. The SFMTA and other municipal transit authorities are not in the transportation business, they are in the construction business. They are also in the empire building business. The more the construct the bigger the public debt to the industry grows since the maintenance and operations costs escalate accordingly. This is why many people are saying NO MORE MONEY for the bottomless pit that claim, “if we build it they will come.”

To the desert valley where there is no water?

SFMTA says it needs $21 billion for next 20 years

By Joe Fitzgerald Rodriguez : sfexaminer – excerpt

Money makes transit go ’round. And in San Francisco, a new number has been identified to do just that: $21 billion.

That’s the amount it will take to keep Muni, bike lanes and roadside features in San Francisco in a state of good repair for 20 years and to expand service, according to the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency’s newly released Capital Improvement Plan.

The identified needs arise in a dry spell of transportation funding. California’s state legislature is considering new transportation funding measures in a special session, according to The Associated Press, and Congress has a deadline of Oct. 29 to come to an agreement on a deadlocked transportation funding bill.

At the SFMTA Board of Directors meeting Tuesday, SFMTA head Ed Reiskin laid out the importance of the plan.

“We probably won’t get the full $21 billion,” he said to the board. But,“it’s important that we start to lay out the needs. It’s really the only starting point to be able to participate in future conversations with the state and federal government.”… (more)

They could start by cutting out all the funds they are spending on non-Muni operating costs. If the new “moderate democrats” have anything to say about that, they will have no choice.