LA, Orange County transit agencies seek their own ride-sharing services

By : dailybreeze – excerpt

Look out Uber and Lyft, more competition is on the way.

Public transit agencies in Los Angeles and Orange counties announced Monday that they’re seeking private-sector partners to operate new door-to-door ride-sharing programs.

The proposed “micro-transit” programs would begin operating in selected areas this summer, offering cheaper door-to-door rides than Uber and Lyft — as low as $5 per trip with free transfers to buses and rail lines.

The service would be designed to boost ridership and to keep up with private-sector technology innovations, said Joshua Schank, chief innovation officer at Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority, or LA Metro.

“The idea behind this service is that there are many people who need better public transit in Los Angeles that we cannot adequately serve with our existing bus and rail network,” Schank said. “You’ll be able to summon a vehicle. It’ll pick you up at a point near where you are and transport you to a point near where you’re going.”

Schank’s Office of Extraordinary Innovation was formed in 2015 to seek private-sector partnerships such as this that incorporate new technology to improve transportation.

LA Metro has been studying a ride-hailing, ride-sharing program for months, and Schank said it will send out a request for bids to private companies on Wednesday, but didn’t offer specific details about its program, such as cost and initial service areas.

“The private sector knows this better than we do,” Schank said. “We’ve developed the project internally, figured out what we wanted it to look like, and now we’re ready to ask private industry for their ideas.”

Similar to Lyft and Uber, the systems would be accessible through a cellphone app. But they won’t require that the user have a credit card, and they will accommodate disabled riders… (more)

Article sent by a reader with this comment:

And the lawsuits will be flying…they will use PUBLIC MONEY to subsidize ride-sharing services? To stay alive. Anyone else with thoughts on this? Uber is already burning investor money to grab market share. The only way these public agencies can do what is suggested here – to undercut private companies – is to use public funds to subsidize even further the cost of a ride share commute. Free passes to the buses? Who’s money is this? This is amazing.

Editor: FYI:

MTC and SFMTA are already subsidizing Motivate and Ford GoBikes in the Bay Area. They set up private/public partnerships and get the cities to hand over public street parking to gentrify the neighborhoods and soften them up for takeover for luxury condos. This does nothing to solve the state affordable housing problem, or the public transit system. It pushes the poor out to make room for wealthy investors.

Details on the Related deal, that was not shared with the public until the appearance of the GoBikes made it necessary to shine a light on the MTC deal to form a public/private partnership with Related-owned Motivate. Ford is not the operator, as it is with Chariot. That may be the worst PR move of false advertising Ford has done in some time, as the GoBikes spring up unannounced all over the city, Ford is being blamed, prompting a boycott Ford attitude as people decide to take back their streets, one bike station at a time. Other share companies may also object to the exclusive deal SFMTA has carved out for their preferred partners.

 

 

 

SFMTA to consider changes to ‘Google bus’ program

By : sfexaminer – excerpt

Protesters block two buses, transporting workers to Facebook and Yahoo in Silicon Valley, at the corner of Valencia and 24th streets on Tuesday.

The future of the “Google bus” program may no longer include the use of Muni stops — instead pointing the commuter shuttles toward hubs in the downtown area and elsewhere, according to legislation introduced Tuesday at the Board of Supervisors.

After two weeks of negotiations, seven supervisors supported a resolution calling on the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency Board of Directors to approve the commuter shuttle program for one year, with key provisions resulting from a tentative deal reached during talks this week between stakeholders.

The provisions would set the stage for modifying the program, possibly within six months.

Among the provisions is the analysis of disallowing commuter shuttles to use Muni bus stops citywide. Instead, the shuttles would use hubs, such as parking lots in the South of Market Area, and commuters could take public transit to those hubs. Another provision would require a review of the program within six months.

The transit agency is expected to take up the issue on Feb. 16, according to SFMTA spokesman Paul Rose. “We look forward to working with both boards, the community and other stakeholders to finalize an effective and responsible commuter shuttle plan,” Rose said.

If the brokered deal is ultimately agreed upon, the environmental appeal filed by SEIU 1021, a labor union with 6,000 members, would be dismissed by the Board of Supervisors on Feb. 23. The appeal has forced the negotiation.

A formal commitment from those involved in the negotiations — including technology companies Apple, Google, Facebook and Genentech, as well as the Bay Area Council — remains outstanding on some aspects and talks are expected to continue.

Those supporting the resolution included board President London Breed, along with supervisors David Campos, Jane Kim, Norman Yee, Aaron Peskin, John Avalos and Eric Mar… (more)

 

 

Are Google Buses Already Legal? Yes and No

By Joe Fitzgerald Rodriguez : sfweekly – excerpt

Disrupt the law, legalize later.

That’s the modus operandi of tech companies such as Airbnb and Uber, which innovate in ways old-fashioned laws often don’t address. It’s also seemingly the tactic used by the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency to justify its pilot program to legally allow corporate shuttles, like the infamous Google buses, to use Muni bus stops.

Except maybe Google bus illegality is more clear cut than initially thought. California’s state vehicle code right now specifically outlaws any bus from using public bus stops, save for school buses, according to a state lawmaker.

State Vehicle Code 22500(i) was explicitly called out by Assemblyman Travis Allen (R-Huntington Beach), who is seeking to change the law in favor of corporate shuttles. Allen introduced AB 61, which would change state vehicle code to allow local transit agencies (such as the SFMTA, which runs Muni) to grant permission for private entities to use municipal bus stops. The change would allow for even more Google bus-style shuttles to proliferate on city streets across the state.

But the bill’s existence raises an interesting question: Why seek to legalize something unless it is illegal? And if it’s illegal, then how are those corporate shuttles getting away with pulling over at Muni stops across San Francisco?… (more)

AB 61 – Assembly Member Travis Allen: is sponsoring a bill that many in San Francisco oppose. Read and decide for yourself: https://legiscan.com/CA/text/AB61/id/1055426

Send comments and letters to the committee members:

State reps on the Senate Transportation and Housing Committees: http://stran.senate.ca.gov/

State Assembly Committee on Transportation:
http://atrn.assembly.ca.gov/

More links are here.

 

SF tech bus program could be stalled for months by appeals

by : sfexaminer – excerpt

San Francisco’s pilot program for commuter shuttles could be stalled for months or even derailed by The City’s largest labor union and community advocates who are fighting the proposal by using a state environmental law.

The San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency approved the pilot program for commuter shuttles, which are commonly referred to as tech buses, after years of rising tensions. Any delay would leave many unanswered questions for the workers and students who use the shuttles, along with police and parking control officers. The pilot was born in response to complaints about the impacts of the shuttles and lack of traffic-violation enforcement.

The opponents of the SFMTA proposal are appealing for the shuttle program to undergo a rigorous environmental study…

The appeal will put the Board of Supervisors in the hot seat April 1, (April Fool’s Day) when the 11 elected officials are expected to vote on whether to uphold the appeal, which would require the program to undergo an environmental review. The vote hearing is expected to draw a large turnout.

The appeal for a larger study on the shuttles argues that the buses have led to displacement and other elements of gentrification in The City. The tensions between residents and the burgeoning tech industry — which some blame for the rise in rents, cost of living and evictions — garnered nationwide attention when activists blocked commuter buses in December… (more)

SF plans to charge tech buses for using Muni stops in pilot program

by : sfexaminer – excerpt

Weeks after anti-displacement organizers on two instances blockaded commuter buses with tech workers from leaving The City, transit and city officials on Monday formally announced an 18- month pilot program allowing shuttle providers to use select Muni stops for a fee.
The proposal, which will be taken to the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency on Jan. 21, would allow the shuttles to use 200 of the more than 2,500 stops in Muni’s system for $1 per stop per day.
“The basic idea here is, [shuttle] providers want to access the Muni stops and currently only Muni buses are legally allowed to use bus stops,” said transit agency director Ed Reiskin… (more)

Protesters block Silicon Valley shuttles, smash Google bus window

By Sean Hollister : theverge – excerpt

The Google bus is a symbol of inequality

One of the perks of working at a major Silicon Valley company is a shuttle ride to work. But as housing prices rise in the San Francisco Bay Area, angry activists are targeting those shuttles to protest the region’s gentrification. In Oakland, protesters attacked a Google bus today, smashing a window and distributing fliers reading “Get the fuck out of Oakland” to Google employees on board…
One of the perks of working at a major Silicon Valley company is a shuttle ride to work. But as housing prices rise in the San Francisco Bay Area, angry activists are targeting those shuttles to protest the region’s gentrification. In Oakland, protesters attacked a Google bus today, smashing a window and distributing fliers reading “Get the fuck out of Oakland” to Google employees on board.

My Gbus got hit by protesters in Oakland and they broke a window. pic.twitter.com/VGCyhBLgyd

— Craig Frost (@craigsfrost) December 20, 2013

And in San Francisco, demonstrators blocked an Apple bus, holding signs and even carrying a wooden coffin bearing the message “Affordable housing.”
“We want the ruling class, which is becoming the tech class, to listen to our voices and listen to the voices of folks that are being displaced,” said one SF protester…
These aren’t isolated incidents. Just last week, some of the same San Francisco activists protested another tech industry bus at the same street corner, though an alleged Google employee at that rally turned out to be a fake. A small group of protesters also smashed a Google bus pinata back in May

Catherine Bracy gave a speech at the Personal Democracy Forum that does a good job of explaining the current economic inequality in Silicon Valley, and some reasons why the Google bus might inspire a certain degree of hatred. You can watch it here. (more)

If you think people are upset now, wait until the Federal unemployment checks stop coming. The pitchforks are out and will not be going away soon.
The best explanation we have seen so far for why the anti-eviction folks are attacking the buses came from someone on the local news who said, “We want the folks on the bus to join us in protesting the problems.”
Media can easily ignore the poor folks in the Mission who are losing their homes, but they can’t ignore anything that threatens the tech industry. Next trip to the Bay Area Obama might want to talk to the leaders of the protestors and listen to their concerns as well as the CEOs of Silicon Valley.

 

RELATED:
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SF and Oakland, activists block tech buses to protest displacement
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Bus stop: Muni could collect millions in fines against private shuttles — but it won’t

by Rebecca Bowe : sfbg – excerpt

… Using bus zones for private passenger pickup is not legal — but so far, that hasn’t resulted in any kind of systematic enforcement. It did boil over as an issue when it became the focal point of the Dec. 9 Google bus blockade, a Monday morning rush hour episode staged by anti-gentrification activists that went viral thanks to Bay Guardian video coverage, spurring commentary by Wall Street Journal, Fox News, and dozens of other media outlets.

SYMBOLIC ISSUE

The significance of the private buses as a symbol for an economically divided San Francisco, private service that spares a high-salaried class of workers from the delays, crowds, and service breakdowns that can plague Muni, has never been more resonant. The shuttles are frequently mentioned in conjunction with eviction and displacement, since apartment units in proximity to shuttle routes have become more desirable and expensive…
At least 27 institutions and employers provide private shuttles in SF, according to data compiled by SFMTA…
The pilot program for sharing bus zone space with private shuttles is expected to be reviewed by the SFMTA board early next year, and it could be implemented by July of 2014. It does not require approval by the Board of Supervisors… (more)

 

SFMTA Slow to Unfold Parking Strategies

By Keith Burbank : potrero view – excerpt

Last month the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency (SFMTA) announced plans to reopen the conversation with the Dogpatch and Potrero Hill communities about strategies to better manage parking, within the context of future transportation development along the Central Waterfront. At a meeting held at Genetech Hall at the University of California, San Francisco-Mission Bay, SFMTA presented parking data it had collected in the area.  At the gathering Hill resident Ed Lortz expressed concerns that SFMTA will install meters along the 18th and 20th street commercial corridors that extend around corners to the fronts of residents’ homes. “That’s one of my big worries,” Lortz said.

According to Paul Rose, an SFMTA spokesperson, any parking changes in the area are likely to be “small in scope and iterative, with the goal of addressing parking on the busiest of commercial blocks, where customers are currently having a challenging time finding parking spaces. A comprehensive approach is not likely.”

But changing parking policies space by space isn’t the approach preferred by some community groups.  The Eastern Neighborhoods United Front (ENUF), an anti-parking meter advocacy organization, is working with the San Francisco Board of Supervisors “to develop better, more comprehensive solutions than the spot zoning SFMTA is trying to use,” said Mari Eliza, an ENUF member.

According to Potrero Boosters president J.R. Eppler, the neighborhood is likely to get a suboptimal plan unless SFMTA looks at the whole system simultaneously. Eppler argued that SFMTA needs to try some new ideas, such as commercial permits, that allow for parking by employees. “It may be time to develop some new tools to address the issues we have,” he said.

Pennsylvania Avenue resident Jim Wilkins agreed. Wilkins said the agency has yet to address the parking needs of the neighborhood’s production, distribution and repair businesses. “Do they intend to blanket 16th and 17th streets with meters?” Wilkins asked. “Or will they work with the businesses and community to come up with a more creative solution?”

At last month’s meeting, Tony Kelly, past Potrero Boosters president, suggested that SFMTA install meters in Dogpatch and Potrero Hill, but give residents a parking card so they don’t have to feed the meters. Commuters would have to pay, and the City would still receive most of the revenue it would collect if residents weren’t provided with a parking card, given commuter demand to park in the area.  Mission District residents have expressed support for Kelly’s idea… (more)

Since this article ran, the Supervisors stopped the expansion of parking meters into the neighborhoods and the Small Business Commissioners announced they plan a more active role in working with the SFMTA at the earliest stages of the planning process to protect local businesses.

We need parking transit hubs near freeway and bridge exits. Members of a number of influential city agencies – Small Business Commissioners, MTA Board members, and some Planning Commissioners – are starting to suggest that the best solution to traffic problems in San Francisco are to build parking near freeway exits, so that people can easily get out of their cars and take public transit to their final destinations. SMTA needs to get us where we need to go not tell us how to get there.

 

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New loading zone proposed on Van Ness Avenue to ease issues with private shuttles and Muni

By: Will Reisman : San Francisco Examiner – excerpt

A new loading zone set to be carved out for private shuttles on Van Ness Avenue could be a sign of things to come, as The City prepares to deal with the ever-growing number of unregulated buses.
Van Ness Avenue has become the center of conflicts between Muni vehicles and private shuttles, which scoop up workers in San Francisco and carry them to jobs on the Peninsula and in Silicon Valley. The shuttles often pick up workers at stops designated for Muni vehicles, leading to public transit delays.
To address those concerns, the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency, which manages Muni, has proposed adding an 80-foot boarding zone specifically for private shuttle vehicles on Van Ness Avenue. The proposed site, located in front of an old gas station near Union Street, will be voted on today… (more)