Rider wants Muni Service Restored

Herbert Weiner response to Conor Johnson oped in San Francisco Examiner:

Dear Mr. Johnston:

As someone who rides MUNI on a near daily basis, I feel compelled to respond to your recent opinion piece in the San Francisco Examiner. Please excuse this belated response.

MUNI, potentially the best transportation service in the country, falls dramatically short of its potential.

For too many times, there have been late, missing, switchbacks and breakdowns of buses. MUNI celebrates Halloween each day, because each day has a horror story.

This problem has not been sufficiently addressed, because the internal operations and communication, control and command structure of MUNI are ignored. Even with the grandiose visions of MUNI Forward, the system will not function well if internal problems of MUNI are not addressed. There has been little, if any transparency, about these elements of MUNI.

Instead, the problem has been externalized with consolidation of bus stops and the elimination and modification of bus runs that have served the neighborhoods. It will take as much as one quarter of a mile to walk to a bus stop, adversely impacting seniors and the disabled; the Municipal Transit Agency gives lower priority to bicyclists who are hail and hearty and, on the average, under 50 years of age. Can you imagine individuals with arthritis, emphysema or other disease, who are barely able to climb the steps of a transportation vehicle, walking such a long distance? Some MTA managers, with tongue in cheek, will say that walking is good for you. But the Turks must have said that to the Armenians before their death march. There has never been a medical opinion about such a hardship that has been sought by MTA administrators which might very well be a violation of the American Disability Act. MTA can counter that Paratransit is the answer. But that service is already overloaded with its own unreliability. Why substitute Paratransit for bus services that presently meet the needs of senior and disabled passengers?

Will elimination of bus stops result in faster MUNI speed? This is debatable because, with the internal problems of MUNI and the unreliability of buses as a primary problem, there is no guarantee. In addition, the proclaimed advantages of bus stop elimination and consolidation are offset by longer walking time which can result in the missing of a bus and the increased boarding times.

Bus services are being decreased and removed from the neighborhoods. The 2 Clement line, a perfectly good line, has been morphed into the 2 Sutter line which will cover only two blocks on Clement Street. This will affect merchants and shopping along that corridor with decreased access to businesses and services on that street. The 26 Valencia bus which ran directly to St. Luke’s Hospital, served the Merced Extended Neighborhood Triangle District bordering Daly City and traveled to San Francisco State University has also been axed. The 18 bus line which previously ran directly to the Cliff House, a San Francisco landmark, has been altered. The 33 line, a bus in District 5, will no longer run to San Francisco General Hospital which could be life threatening to severely ill patients. And the 47 line will no longer run to the Hall of Justice which will be detrimental to jurors and the legal process itself.

Citizens have been pointing out these problems to the deaf ears of MTA for some time with no redress. Instead, MTA formulates its plans and dumps them on the public which are forced to cope with these poor decisions and policies. The outreach of MTA is basically a ritual and joke, because that agency hears but does not listen. This is supposed to be a public service.

You have noted the density of the city in your article. According to MTA, San Francisco’s density is second to New York. In previous decades, the coverage of MUNI services embraced the whole city, reflecting its density and the needs of the neighborhoods. The problem then, as now, was making this comprehensive system work in order that buses arrive on time with good frequency. This core problem has never been addressed sufficiently by MUNI. The internal problem of MUNI is now being externalized with MUNI Forward which evades the above issue.

Transportation services are being stripped from the neighborhoods on the grounds of supply and demand. Market system economics are being applied to a public service which is supposed to address need. It is equivalent to the police saying that, because only one crime occurs in a part of town in contrast to other neighborhoods, services should be reduced to certain areas of the city. Every neighborhood needs services which are constantly being taken away to the detriment of the public.

One of the reasons for slow travel time is the city’s density. This underlines the need for more buses and drivers. I noted that when I was in London in 1991, the underground trains were backed up behind each other which meant that, if you missed one coach, another train would be available.

The argument that MTA trots out is that there are limited funds. But this falls flat in light of the proliferation of six digit salaries of MTA management, ever expanding bike lanes and the boondoggled Central Subway. 1.5 million dollars has been paid to Barbary Coast, an advertising agency to promote MUNI Forward. This agency is not poor and constantly asks for more money which it will do perpetually after you and I are gone.

$2.25 per ride is a bargain on the face of it. But now trouble is no longer free. The service is actually worsening. I have waited too many times in the dead of night for the 1 California line, one of the showpiece lines of MUNI.

While the slogan of MTA is “Transit First” it should be “Bicycles First”. The Bicycle Coalition gets royal treatment to the neglect of passengers. You might say that they remove cars from the streets. But so do I when I take MUNI. What do we get? Less service and accessibility!

These are my impressions which you may or may not agree with.

And I hope that you have not worked for MTA or plan to. This would certainly affect your thinking and article that you have written.

Just remember one of the mottos of MTA: “We break it. You own and ride it!”

                                                                                                            Very truly yours,

Herbert J. Weiner


Few Alternatives For Commuters Ahead Of Possible BART Strike

By Tim Ryan : cbslocal.com – excpert

SAN FRANCISCO (KCBS) — Bay Area Rapid Transit’s unionized employees will meet on Tuesday to vote for a strike authorization that could lead to a walkout within a week. The result, transit officials said, would become a regional transportation emergency that will have commuters looking for alternatives of which there are few…
“It’s unused seats in people’s cars that can provide the capacity that make up for 400,000 lost BART trips,” he said… (more)

But where will those cars park?

This is the perfect storm that many of us have been dreading that will prove the point that the public transit system IS NOT READY to replace cars. People cannot walk and bike to work from all over the bay. BART, AC transit, and Caltrans are all at capacity.

SFMTA spends millions of dollars on PR to try to convince the world that SF has the answer to traffic management and everyone should buy their program.

This week may prove our point that removal of parking spaces is premature, at a time when the County Transportation Authority is weighing which transit projects to finance. We hope they will NOT finance Masonic and Second Street “improvements” at this time.

Question: Will Muni add back the lines they took out during the “slow months” while the students are on vacation?

Small Business Commission Hearing

Small Business Commission hears complaints from Small Business Owners and Advocates April 22, 2013 meeting. Commissioners are all sympathetic the need for more parking for businesses.  Video link to that hearing: http://sanfrancisco.granicus.com/MediaPlayer.php?view_id=45&clip_id=17346 (starts around item 7)

Notes on Commissioners’ comments at the hearing:

  • Lack of notice, outreach, and communication during the whole planning process is a major source of problems.
  • Would like to see a representative from the Small Business community on the MTA board.
  • They encourage the merchants associations to continue what they are doing in demanding consideration from the MTA.
  • Due Process important.
  • There appears to have been no real time studies or consideration for business operations in the areas that they are eliminating and limiting parking.
  • Effects of smaller projects on larger areas need to be taken into consideration during construction and after.
  • A pave it and paint it plan would solve many problems. It would allow for faster, cheaper and easier changes as the traffic patterns shift and needs change.  (i.e. the 17th street burp)
  • Most of the issues between traffic and cycles could be solved by paving the streets and fixing the dangerous potholes and other obstacles that cause erratic lane changes for all vehicles. Smoother streets and easily read signs would help the safe flow of traffic and the costs would be a lot lower.
  • Parking removal and lack of parking seems to be the major problem for everyone. We need to re-visit the policies that are driving these programs.
  • We must change the attitude that we are not building any more parking. We have got to change this attitude. We need parking as well as bike lanes. We are the tax payers.
  • We must realistically provide for the visitors and commuters who cannot take public transit into the city.
  • Mayor’s task force wants to do twice as much as it can afford. Why not do less at half the costs?
  • Blind loyalty to ideology, at the expense of the whole community is not the answer.
  • People are already avoiding certain neighborhoods due to parking difficulties.
  • Where did the anti parking attitude come from?

Pedal Power: The Future of Cycling in the City

KQED – excerpt

Watch Complete Episode: February 8, 2013 »

Over the past six years, the number of San Franciscans using bikes for everyday trips has increased 71 percent. San Francisco Bicycle Coalition Executive Director Leah Shahum talks about the future of cycling following the recent release of SFMTA’s Bicycle Strategy, and San Francisco’s potential as a world class city for bicycling… (more)

About The Bay: San Francisco’s Parking Costs For 2013

sanfrancisco.cbslocal.com – excerpt

SAN FRANCISCO (KCBS) – The beginning of the new year will bring some changes to the streets of San Francisco – and you’ll need some change to deal with the changes.
After all, there will soon be no free ride on Sundays in San Francisco. Well, technically, it’s no free parking – at least in metered spots…
“I’m very troubled over this and there was no consideration given,” said The Rev. Amos Brown of the Third Baptist Church…
“All the time limits on Sunday will be four hour time limits,” said Rose
Metered parking will be in effect on Sundays until 6 p.m. The policy kicks in the first Sunday of 2013, and by the City’s estimates will bring in an additional $2 million in revenue… (more)

Keeping track of that? The time limits refer to how long you are allowed to park at a meter without having to move your car. This means on Sunday, you can park from noon to 4 PM in one spot. Then you must re-park, in another block, pay for another 2 hours at that meter.

If you don’t have any meters in your neighborhood yet, SFMTA is are working on putting them in soon.

And, we aren’t sure how long people who double-park on Dolores and Valencia will have before they are tagged.

Don’t you just love Transit First and the SFMTA!

Give to Streetsblog SF and You Could Win a New Bike

by Aaron Bialick : sf.streetsblog.org – excerpt

…Streetsblog SF is here to hold officials accountable for decisions that affect our streets and transit system, and to highlight how the city can get things right. When the Board of Supervisors caves on sensible reforms for funding Muni, or the District Attorney makes a blatantly false claim blaming victims of traffic violence, we’re there to spotlight it. And when the SFMTA rolls out infrastructure that makes it safer and easier to get around by biking or walking, we get the word out and show how better streets improve San Franciscans’ quality of life….
In the year ahead, increasing numbers of San Franciscans will discover the benefits of protected bike lanes, and they’ll want more. Some Muni lines will see improvements, but the pace of change has to be quicker to make a difference for most residents. The need for complete streets and effective transit will be as great as ever. We’ll be on a mission to ensure that people-first transportation policies keep moving forward, and we need your continued support to do it…
So far this fall Streetsblog has raised $35,000 from our annual benefit, and we’re counting on our readers to help us reach our fundraising goal of $60,000 for 2012… (more)

Do we need a car club to protect our rights as drivers?

SFMTA Continues to Examine Parking Management Strategies

By Keith Burbank : Potreroview.net – excerpt

November 2012

Roughly a year ago, in the face of a San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency (SFMTA) plan to erect high-tech parking meters throughout parts of Dogpatch, Potrero Hill, and the Mission, residents formed the Eastern Neighborhoods United Front (ENUF). Since then, SFMTA hasn’t progressed with outreach to the 17th and Folsom area – which is targeted for meters – as called for by ENUF, and originally scheduled to be launched in September. “We have not begun the outreach for this area,” SFMTA spokesperson Paul Rose said. “We just finalized a document that put all existing policies on paper, so when we do start outreach, we will be able to all start from the same place.”
According to Rose, while SFMTA hasn’t set a date to start its outreach, once the effort begins the agency will work with residents who’ve been gathering information about neighborhood parking needs. “That will be part of the outreach that will precede any work to be done regarding parking in this area,” Rose said.
Under SFMTA’s recently adopted “Policies for On-Street Parking Management,” “…blockfaces” – the side of a City block between two intersections –“that contain only single family homes are…considered inappropriate for metering…A mixed use block is defined as a block containing both commercial and residential uses…the policy for mixed use areas is to use parking meters…As a separate policy proposal, SFMTA will consider reform of the Residential Parking Permit program to better reflect the needs of residents with and without vehicles, as well as the needs of the transit system as a whole…” SFMTA may develop a proposal to revise the Residential Parking Permit (RPP) program after it obtains community feedback...
In a press release issued last summer, ENUF called for a moratorium on parking meter installation. “We believe a moratorium on installing parking meters and rearranging traffic flows should be put in place, while the SFMTA focuses on solving MUNI’s problems…” ENUF has gathered more than 529 signatures supporting the moratorium, according to spokeswoman Mari Eliza. ENUF is also collecting surveys from residents on their parking needs, with half of the completed surveys from Potrero Hill residents… (more)

(signatures added on a daily basis)
Get ready to give feedback at the next SFMTA meeting which is tentatively scheduled for November 28 or 29.

Motion 120911.01 – update

Motion 120911.01 – The SFMTA CAC recommends that sidewalk parking laws be enforced not just against cars that leave less than four feet of direct-line travel room for pedestrians, but additionally against any car being more than one foot into the sidewalk…  (more)

We think is what we think this rule may mean…

Separated bikeways on Oak and Fell finally up for approval

By Joe Fitzgerald : sfbg – excerpt

…the fate of a dangerous but vital bike route in San Francisco will be decided on Oct. 16. Oak and Fell streets, one of the few major east-west byways in the city, carries tens of thousands of cars each day, according to the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency. Right now, there is no bike lane on Oak, and the stripes on Fell are only two feet wide …

There are two bike lanes through the Panhandle inside the park. The bikes must stop at the same lights as the cars now. Muni buses are already complaining about the traffic. Taking out lanes will slow the buses down even more.

But all that could change. If the transit agency gives it the green light, the perilous Oak-Fell corridor between Scott and Baker will gain needed concrete barriers and wider bike lanes, according to SFMTA spokesperson Paul Rose and bike advocates…
The project has met repeated delays, despite Mayor Ed Lee’s promise that it would be done by the end of 2011.
A section of the major bike route “The Wiggle,” its the only game in town if you’re a cyclist who wants to cross the city from east to west. But not everyone favors the fix.
Blogger and anti-bike activist Rob Anderson, who sued San Francisco for not performing proper studies on bike lane projects in 2005, calls it a slap in the face to people who must drive to work.
“It shows no sympathy or understanding for working people in the neighborhood,” Anderson said. He bemoaned the loss of parking as particularly harmful to residents in the area, which would lose 35 parking spaces, according to SFMTA data..
If the bike lanes were more safe, more cyclists would ride them, Shahum said. This would pave the way towards San Francisco’s goal of increasing bike ridership to 20 percent of trips made in San Francisco by the year 2020, which is enshrined in legislation passed by the Board of Supervisors two years ago. Currently, about 3.5 percent of bike commutes in the city are by bicycle, a 71 percent increase from 2005, according to the city’s “2012 State of Cycling Report.” …
Shahum said the SFBC plans to turn out its members on Oct. 16 to ensure passage of a project it has sought for years… (more)

SFMTA drives boost to cab-permit cost

By: Will Reisman : SFExaminer – excerpt

Proposal: The SFMTA is considering increasing the cost of taxi medallions.
The permits needed to operate taxis will cost more to purchase and will generate extra income for The City under a new plan by San Francisco’s transportation agency.
Holders of taxi medallions can operate cabs or lease out their vehicles to other drivers while still collecting a slice of the profits. Until 2010, the only way to obtain a medallion was to keep your name on a waiting list, but the permit could take decades to arrive.
For the past two years, cabdrivers have been able to skip ahead of a waiting list and purchase a taxi medallion for $250,000 as part of a pilot program. The San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency, which regulates cabs, also took a 15 percent transfer fee for medallion sales.
Now, the SFMTA wants to increase the cost of medallion sales to $300,000 and collect a 50 percent transfer fee. The minimum age for selling medallions would also be reduced, from 65 to 60. The proposal is projected to generate
$14 million for the agency over the next two years…
“The medallions are a public asset,” said Rose. “They should be managed in a way that benefits the public.”…