Private security company failed to fulfill SFMTA contract

By  Bay City News : sfexaminer – excerpt

The private security company hired to protect San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency employees failed to fulfill its contract in four key areas, according to a report released Thursday.

Cypress Security LLC was paid for 34 hours of security services over an eight-week period during the 2015-16 fiscal year that weren’t supported by time records, according to an audit report from the Office of the Controller’s City Services Auditor Division.

This calls into question whether or not payments related to the 24 guards’ activities – about $41,500 – should have been made during the 2015-16 fiscal year, according to the audit report.

Also, Cypress couldn’t demonstrate that its three subcontractors comply with liability insurance and minimum compensation requirements, nor could the company demonstrate its own or its subcontractors’ compliance with health benefit requirements, the audit report said.

The contract compliance audit was done by Sjoberg Evashenk Consulting, Inc., at the behest of the city auditor…(more)

Bad contracts are popping up all over the streets as we dodge the mess they are causing to our streets and the stress on our lives. Stop all new projects until the ones underway are complete. Celebrate finished jobs, not job starts and breaking more ground. We have enough broken ground already.

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Is Rapid Growth of Subway Systems in China Losing Steam?

By Sun Lichao and Pan Che : caixinglobal – excerpt

The cancellation of Baotou’s subway system has given a signal to city governments around the country that the ‘wind has changed’ on such projects, an unnamed provincial economic planning official told Caixin…

Construction of the subway system in Baotou, the Inner Mongolia autonomous region, had been taking place for only two months when the central government called off the project due to the drain it placed on city coffers…

Many third- and fourth-tier cities have scrambled to launch rail projects in the past two years. Cities such as Yinchuan, the Ningxia Hui autonomous region; Xining, Qinghai province; and Yangzhou, Jiangsu province, have filed plans for underground travel systems that are awaiting approval from the country’s top economic planner, the National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC). Several other cities, including the steel hub of Tangshan in Hebei province, are researching and drafting subway plans as well…

City-level governments see the spiking of Baotou’s subway project as a sign that “the wind has changed its direction” on such programs, said an official with a central province’s Development and Reform Commission…(more)

Excellent Uber Ad Distills the Problem With Uber in Crowded Cities

: streetsblog – excerpt

In a brilliant new spot, Uber inadvertently lays out exactly why its for-hire vehicles won’t solve transportation headaches in crowded cities…

There’s certainly a place for these services in the transportation ecosystem, but they’re not a solution to moving large numbers of people in crowded cities. No app, no matter how user-friendly, can turn cars into a congestion fix… (more)

My favorite false narrative that joins the fake news category is the claim that a troll is running on social media that “Uber is a pubic transportation system”. The Mayor of SF must have bought that article as he made a deal to transfer public property to Uber in exchange for data. Is it time for the public to start boycotting these cars by returning to “free” rideshares called hitchhiking?

Ask B. Sarah Jones at the November 20 SaveMuni Meeting

To all SaveMuni members, friends and associates:

At the next SaveMuni meeting (11/20/17, 5:30 p.m. Turk/Fillmore Police Station) we will have an excellent opportunity to learn more about the SFMTA, it’s objectives, its priorities, its structure and how it functions. Sara Jones, SFMTA’s new Planning Director will be at the meeting to explain the program, answer questions and exchange ideas with us.

This is your chance to find out how MTA plans to cope with San Francisco’s worsening transportation condition. Come and invite your friends!

Drive time

By Susan Dyer Reynolds : marinatimes – excerpt

With 45,000 Uber and Lyft drivers, it’s time for digital medallions

A year ago, San Francisco Examiner reporter Joe Fitzgerald Rodriguez sent shockwaves with one big number: 45,000. According to data he received from the San Francisco Treasurer’s Office, that was the estimated number of Uber and Lyft drivers operating in the city. That was up from around 37,000 drivers six months prior (for reference, there are around 1,800 taxicabs).

I experienced the effect of all those ride shares on the road last month while trying to get from Oak and Webster Streets to Third and Mission Streets. From the time I hit Mission, it took more than 45 minutes to reach my destination…(more)

 

America’s Buses Lose Riders, Imperiling Their Future

By David Harrison : WSJ – excerpt

A staple of American urban life—the city bus—is in a state of steady decline.

Ridership on city buses around the country was down 13% in the second quarter of 2017 compared with the same quarter in 2007, according to Transportation Department data, a drop that has left transit agencies scrambling to make up for lost revenue and contemplating additional service cuts on top of ones they have already made … (more)

If Muni spent more money on doing what riders ask for and less on high-level salaries for managers who ignore the public, PR schemes they claim are outreach, and high tech gadgets they might see an increase in ridership. When has the SFMTA responded to any public suggestions that did not fit their plans? How many people warned against the Design and Build Walsh contract?

I have a suggestion for them to ignore. Loose the attitude that you KNOW IT ALL and react to what the public is telling you by taking alternatives to the Muni.

The public is voting for smaller more comfortable vehicles when they switch to Chariot, Uber and Lyft. The SFMTA is still buying larger, longer, less comfortable buses and planning for standing room only crowded conditions for its riders. Hire more drivers and lay off the planners. Muni is a NOW thing not a 40 year plan.

Instead of punishing the ride hail services for getting it right, learn from them and add some jitney-size vehicles to the Muni fleet. Ask the Muni drivers who deal with the public for suggestions on how Muni can improve the ride and routes. Maybe return some of the bus stops.

Big Philanthropy Takes the Bus

By Benjamin Ross : dissentmagazine – excerpt

In 2002, Royal Dutch Shell’s grant-making arm set out to influence transportation policy in developing countries. Initial “market testing,” the Shell Foundation itself has said, revealed that a program directly funded by Shell would lack “credibility,” and so Shell decided to channel its money through an “intermediary.” Several bidders competed to play this role. Shell chose the World Resources Institute, a business-oriented environmental nonprofit.

The resulting program was dubbed EMBARQ. With Shell’s financial support—starting with a $7.5 million grant—and ongoing guidance, EMBARQ urged cities to rely on buses that run on Shell’s product instead of building electric-powered subways.

Buses, to be sure, are essential to any transit system, and they rarely get the respect they deserve. Improving them can serve social justice as well as transport. But ordinary buses are hardly a credible substitute for subways. So EMBARQ promotes what is called bus rapid transit, or BRT. This refers to bus routes with special features, such as travel lanes where cars are excluded, that are said to offer rubber-tired travel that’s as good as rail but costs less. It’s an elastically defined concept that comes in many flavors; the common element is less the transportation than the politics of it. BRT is the bus you get when you don’t get a train…

BRT was newly in vogue among transit planners when Shell and EMBARQ took it up. But it’s an idea with a history… (more)

 

China’s tests out world’s first driverless train that runs on virtual rails

By

bus_train11

Look Ma, No rails! or Medians!

The Hunan city of Zhuzhou is currently testing out an unmanned train that doesn’t run on rails. You know, like a bus.

The Autonomous Rail Rapid Transit (ART) is being dubbed by Chinese state media the “world’s first smart rapid rail bus,” whatever that means. The train/bus (trus?) was first shown off in June this year. It uses sensors to determine the dimensions of the road and make a virtual track for itself to ride along…(more)

This kind of technology may be the best argument for putting a halt on new projects while we finish the ones underway now. Eliminating the rails, medians and other “traditional” infrastructure elements costing billions of dollars now, could be the cheap public transportation answer in the very near future. Give the public a break while the technology catches up.

 

CA bullet train authority postpones critical $30M contract award

Kim Slowey : constructiondive – excerpt

Dive Brief:

  • The California High Speed Rail Authority has postponed awarding a key, $30 million operations and management contract for the first leg of its new rail line through the state’s Central Valley region, according to Courthouse News Service. CHSRA was scheduled to award the contract at its monthly meeting Thursday.
  • The CHSRA had planned to tap DB Engineering & Consulting USA, a subsidiary of German rail company Deutsche Bahn, for the project, but Spain-based bidder Renfe protested the decision at the last minute. Renfe objected based on its scoring process, during which the company said it received high marks in two out of three categories.
  • The CHSRA’s reluctance to move forward with an operations contract led some meeting attendees to suggest that the authority was dragging its feet at a “critical time” in the bullet train’s schedule. The agency, which is already late in delivering the first segment of the high-speed rail by eight years, will address the contract award issue at its next meeting in November…

Dive Insight:

Earlier this month, the Los Angeles Times published a June CHSRA report that said the 119-mile line through the Central Valley cost $1.7 billion more than originally forecast, which raised the total price tag to $8 billion. The CHSRA chalked up the increases to the rising cost of land, the cost of utility relocation and negotiations with freight companies over the logistics of running high-speed trains near their tracks. It is unknown whether this add-on will raise the entire projected cost of the rail past its current budget of $64 billion… (more)

Technology CA: LA, Orange County Transit Agencies Seek their Own Ride-Sharing Services

By Sandy Mazza : masstransitmag – excerptri?ai=3698298f-25b6-4057-97a8-d487ae9f7aa7&ts=1fHU9MXxwaWQ9NTM3MDY1MTcxfHJpZD1iODEwZGFjOS1kOTkzLTQ0YWYtYjQxYy03YzUwZjlmNzY2NWV8cnQ9MTUwODg2OTUzNXxhdWlkPTQ5ODMwMnxhdW09RE1JRC5XRUJ8YXVwZj1kaXNwbGF5fHNpZD0xMDc5MjZ8cHViPTQzNzN8cGM9VVNEfHJhaWQ9Y2M3YjQyNjctNmVjNS00NTk0LWJiNTAtZmY5ZGRiMmJiZTQ4fHJzPTF8YWlkPTUzODQ3MjY4OHx0PTF8YXM9MzAweDI1MHxsaWQ9NTM3ODAyOTUwfG9pZD01MzczNDk4ODZ8cD0wfHByPTB8YXRiPTB8YWR2PTQ2NjF8YWM9VVNEfHBtPVBSSUNJTkcuQ1BEfGJtPUJVWUlORy5HVUFSQU5URUVEVk9MVU1FR09BTHxsaXQ9Vnx1cj1WVFphNDdTckt5

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…(more)

REALATED:

Holding Company behind Motivate is Bikeshare Holdings LLC. By most counts this is not a neighborhood friendly organization(more)