Hoodline Highlights: Transit Riders Union Launches Ambitious ’30X30′ Muni Campaign

hoodline – excerpt

…30X30’s primary argument is that any part of San Francisco should be accessible via Muni in 30 minutes or less by the year 2030. According to the project’s preliminary website, “Muni is the slowest major urban transit system in the nation,” running at an average of 8.1 miles per hour… (more)

Before SFMTA started their efficiency programs, you used to be able to get anywhere in the city in 30 minutes or less. Before the SFMTA cut service on Valencia and other formerly well-served streets, you could get to Kaiser Hospital in less than 30 minutes from the Mission. Before SFMTA decided to slow traffic and remove parking spaces, you could get to any appointment in the city in 30 minutes or less. Before we had the invasion of the private monster shuttle buses, and out-of-town Uber and Lyft drivers, you could get anywhere in 30 minutes of less. Now, no mater how you try to get somewhere, unless you are taking BART or driving at night, you have no idea how long it may take.  Way to go SFMTA. You turned a beautiful town with a great traffic system into a nightmare for everyone. Do us all a favor, fire yourselves and let us go back to our former system that worked.

Push to Organize SF Transit Riders Proving Difficult

By Alex Wolens : sfweekly – excerpt

Last month’s well-publicized service rollbacks at Muni were long anticipated by unhappy bus riders, motorists and regular transit activists, but at least one man has tried to capitalize on the transit agency’s woes.
Longtime transit activist Dave Snyder has used Muni’s most recent meltdown as an opportunity to organize its riders into the San Francisco Transit Riders Union. We spoke to Dave Snyder–the project coordinator of SFTRU–about the progress of his recent unionizing efforts. They have been slow… (more)

 

Does Your City Need a Transit Riders Union?

By EMILY BADGER : theatlanticcities.com – excerpt

They tell a favorite story within the Los Angeles Bus Riders Union about the moment when the barely two-year-old organization first began to wield real power in the city. It was 1994, and the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority was preparing to raise fares and eliminate the monthly bus pass on which many low-income riders depended. The Bus Riders Union filed for a temporary restraining order against the changes. And a judge actually gave it to them.
“For us, that was the single biggest breakthrough, and we knew the entire county was not going to be seeing us in the same way again,” says Francisca Porchas, an organizer with the union today. “We were the people who had actually stopped the fare increase from going into effect.”…
With the help of the NAACP, the Bus Riders’ Union went on to sue the MTA for violating the Civil Rights Act in creating separate and unequal transit: one aging and overcrowded bus system for the city’s predominantly low-income, minority population, with newer rail investments for the region’s upper-income suburbs. The MTA ultimately signed a 10-year consent decree – doggedly monitored over the years by the Bus Riders Union – requiring substantial reinvestment in the bus system, with added hours of service, new vehicles and a new weekly bus pass…
“Even in liberal San Francisco, we have elected officials and transit officials that are really nervous to push back against the conventional wisdom of the car being really the king of the road,” Kaufman says. “Even if they are saying it rhetorically, they’re still kowtowing to their constituents who are saying ‘don’t give away my parking space for this, it isn’t worth it.’ It’s hard to think of the collective good when there’s one guy who keeps on nagging and poking you saying ‘don’t do this, don’t do this, don’t do this.'”
The city’s bike community is remarkably well organized, with a 13,000-member coalition and a multi-million dollar budget. Dave Snyder, who started that group, is also one of the organizers behind the transit union, and Kaufman says they hope that that group will similarly grow in influence. Today, it has about 200 members each giving $25 a year (or 10 hours in volunteering). Their biggest success to date sounds small, but it’s something: In July, the union pushed the Municipal Transportation Authority to institute all-door boarding.
The whole idea for most of these organizations isn’t just to fight for current service and fare levels (some of which are clearly financially unsustainable), but rather to build better transit systems for the long run. Elected politicians and transit officials won’t necessarily get there on their own. History is full of examples, Porchas says, of unempowered people who’ve had to organize for what they need.
“We’re in a crisis,” Kaufman says. He wasn’t referring to peak oil, but the more mundane crisis of congestion, of transportation paralysis, of a system in San Francisco where buses and trains run at 8 miles per hour, often transporting with the least efficiency the people who can least afford to sit there. “This is really the only solution. The Google self-driving car, cars that are going to run on water – those are really cool technologies. They’re exciting. But they’re not going to solve our congestion problem.”… (more)

How can cars be blamed for buses that running at 8 miles an hour that take two hours to get across town when the cars, running on the same streets, get across town in 20 to 30 minutes? The cars can’t be slowing the buses down.
What do the private shuttle buses have going for them that works better for their riders than the public system? Could it be that they serve their riders instead of the system?