BART to slash costs, with possible service cuts, layoffs on horizon: ‘This is not sustainable’

By Mallory Moench : sfchronicle – excerpt

BART’s board approved a cost-cutting plan Thursday that includes an employee retirement incentive package as the pandemic robs the train system of its ridership and some directors fear for the agency’s long-term financial viability.

BART covered expenses for the first three quarters of the fiscal year that ends in June 2021 with federal funding, but it faces a $33 million deficit in the fourth quarter. General Manager Bob Powers told the board Thursday he is “very confident” the seven-step cost-cutting plan will make ends meet by the end of the year, with Board President Lateefah Simon pledging, “We will close the gap.”

But the agency faces a projected $177 million shortfall in the next fiscal year. Leadership said a potential change in the federal administration after the election would likely bring funding, but wouldn’t solve long-term problems…

The approved seven-step plan to save money includes making contracting more efficient, continuing a hiring freeze, offering a retirement incentive program and reassigning staff to capital projects…(more)

Here is an idea for BART and the public transit agencies to save money. Why don’t they drop their capital projects, drop expansion projects, get out of the real estate development business, and get back to the basics of running a transit agency. If they are in dire financial straights, it may be time to lay off their planning department.


‘I rely on BART’: Essential workers who depend on public transit fear service cuts in pandemic

Are taxpayers subsidizing Uber and Lyft campaign?

By Garrett Leahy : 48hills – excerpt

Are taxpayers subsidizing Uber and Lyft campaign?

The Yes on 22 campaign, funded by three giant corporations, has sent out millions of fliers to California voters in the past month – and the opponents of the measure say taxpayers are subsidizing the cost.

The latest Form 460 filings for the Yes on 22 campaign show that, as of September 19, the Yes on 22 campaign has paid $3.5 million in postage for mailing campaign fliers to California homes — about $1.5 million less than they would have paid if they paid regular postage… (more)

The future of public transportation in the US depends on who wins the election

By Matt McFarland : cnn – excerpt

Washington, DC (CNN)The fate of some US transit agencies may be on the line in the upcoming presidential election. Public transportation systems are in dire straits as the Covid-19 pandemic has cut into their ridership and revenue. They’re counting on increased federal aid to survive until ridership returns to normal. Most expect to cut staff or service unless they receive added funding, according to a recent survey from the American Public Transportation Association, which represents more than 1,500 public and private transportation organizations. And eight in 10 large agencies are considering delaying or canceling new projects to address budget shortages, the survey found…(more)

SF’s economic recovery plan: Trumpism on the local level

By Calvin Welch : 48hills – excerpt

It’s all about governmental deregulation and public subsidy of private profit — while ignoring the manifest needs of everyday people.

If anyone needs reminding that defeating Trump will not mean the end of Trumpism, turning to the Economic Recovery Task Force Report of the City and County of San Francisco, released on October 8th, should do the trick.

The essence of Trumpism is governmental deregulation and public subsidy of private profit while ignoring the manifest needs of everyday people.

That is also the essence of the Task Force Report…(more)

As Calvin suggests, the priorities of City Hall are astonishing, not only because of the choices he raises, but, because they do not seem rooted in the reality most of the citizens are living in right now. It is hard to fault people for wanting to protect small businesses, but picking favorites is problematic, as is foregoing public notice and review. In deciding how to vote on some of the well-meaning ballot initiatives before us, we were re-pulsed by the overly confusing and complicated methods chosen to “do good”.

How hard is it to just do one thing at a time when it comes to writing ballot initiatives. Creating a good law with distasteful elements makes the likelihood of passage of the initiative much less likely. The ads are mostly confusing and do not tell the true story even on the good bills. I understand the need to pose some double negative language in some cases, but, taking a tax benefit from one group and handing it to another is not a solution that one can easily embrace.

I respect Calvin’s attempt to describe the Economic Recovery Report with some detailed analysis. Whether I agree with him or not of each argument it is refreshing to see some critical thinking going into this method of compiling a laundry list of winners and losers at a time when the country and our city needs to put aside the divisive arguments over who has the right to live here.

SaveMUNI Meeting

Monday, September 21, 5:30 PM
Your chance to hear discussion of two of the most important ballot measures facing Bay Area voters in the November election.  Please invite your friends and neighbors to join us via Zoom.

1. Introduction
2. Announcements
3. Congestion Pricing: SFCTA Presentation on ways to Participate in the On-going study
4. Proposition 22 – Discussion with Proponents and Opponents of the State Ballot Measure to classify Uber and Lyft drivers as employees. (6:00 – 6:45)
5. Proposition RR – Discussion with Proponents and Opponents of the Regional Ballot Measure to raise the sales tax in San Francisco, San Mateo and Santa Clara Counties by 1/8 cent to fund Caltrain (6:45 – 7:30)
6. New Business


Via Computer:
Dial in: +1 720 707 2699 Meeting ID: 637 759 9629
One tap mobile: +17207072699,,6377599629#

BART gets $1.2 billion from feds to add more trains in Transbay Tube amid pandemic woes

By Mallory Moench : sfchronicle – excerpt (includes audio track with Rachel Swan)

BART is getting a $1.2 billion federal grant to help pay for more frequent trains in the Transbay Tube, even as the agency struggles with low ridership, plummeting revenue and an uncertain future because of the coronavirus pandemic.

The funding supports a program that will include a new train control system, 252 new railcars, six new power substations and a 250-railcar storage facility. The improvements will increase trains in the Transbay Tube from 22 to 28 per hour.

“This is a huge day for BART and anyone who needs to get across the Bay during commute hours,” BART General Manager Bob Powers said in a statement Monday…(more)

So, Muni, SFMTA’s idea on how to deal with the public it will not be serving by punishing drivers with Slow Street projects, making it hard to get anywhere by public or private transportation modes. The smoke and fires have made people less likely to not drive when they have to. Not only is it the safest way to avoid contact with people, but, it is the safest by far way to get around in the smoke. How many kids playing in the streets in the smoke?

Dear Peter Hartlaub: A reader conversation about who gets left out of a car-free SF

By Peter Hartlaub : sfchronicle – excerpt

When I remember The Chronicle’s Throughline section, I’m going to think of Howard Chabner.

The nine-week special section exploring San Francisco’s post-pandemic potential always felt like a dialogue with readers. While writing about everything from a bike utopia to a cultural crisis at a burrito shop, I’ve received stronger email feedback than I have from any project in recent memory. Most correspondence was constructive. And all — including the letters from angry golfers — was appreciated.

But no one put in more effort than Chabner.

After reading my July 10 Throughline project, “Back to the drawing board: A map to make SF a bike and pedestrian utopia,” the disability rights advocate who uses a power wheelchair sent an 11-page letter (single spaced!) that challenged several of my points in detail, made a case against a car-free San Francisco and included block-specific grievances — while still conveying an inextinguishable love for the city. (The letter is included in its entirety below.)…(more)

Stay tuned for more on this subject…

Save Harvey’s Gardens & Grove at Castro MUNI Harvey Milk Plaza


Please consider signing this initiative to support the creation of the nation’s first LGBTQ Veterans Grove (2499 Market St) and Harvey’s Garden – A Watershed Garden (2401 Market St). The 2 street parks are an important part of existing open space areas with mature landscaping at a historically and culturally significant LGBTQ site that is also an important transit hub.

Why is this important?

We say, Renovate – Don’t Desecrate!
Please sign the petition! Stop the Demolition! Restore/Expand Harvey Milk Plaza!
Protect the ONLY muni station that has open space & mature landscaping! Save Harvey’s Gardens & Grove!

This petition was created by concerned neighbors and community members in the late winter of ’17-’18 as an aspect of the Twin Parklets initiative. Now we are ready for the web. We submitted 2 parklet applications to government stakeholders (Public Works) in early March 2018. As of mid-April we have collected over 750 ‘wet’ signatures that included actual conversations with neighbors, visitors and merchants. *The above is the exact verbiage on the petition.
Whereas, a group calling itself the “Friends of Harvey Milk Plaza” are asking for the demolition of a site, including the mature landscaping, that many believe and understand ALREADY is a significant cultural and historical site. This group has been resistant to hearing our pleas and concerns.

We want a green, sustainable and beautiful solution to an important and efficient transit hub that has suffered from urban strains but is structurally sound. This site already educates and inspires visitors from far and wide. The neighborhood character will be impacted by the of the demolishing of this built environment…(more)

High speed rail became a boondoggle when politicians changed it to low speed rail

By Quinton Kopp : calmatters – excerpt

High speed rail requires a dedicated track and electrification, and almost a decade ago legislators prohibited a dedicated track in the Bay Area and non-electrified track in other areas.

My 1994 state Senate legislation established the California High-Speed Rail Project. It’s not inherently a “boondoggle”; it’s been made a boondoggle by politicians transforming it from high-speed to low-speed.

Functionally, high-speed rail requires a dedicated track and electrification. Almost a decade ago, legislative predecessors of state Sens. Jim Beall and Scott Wiener prohibited dedicated track to prevent the High-Speed Rail Authority from acquiring its own right-of-way from San Francisco to Gilroy. Thus, high-speed rail must use the Caltrain tracks, which limits no more than four trains hourly in primetime, because Caltrain, the right-of-way owner, will run six trains per hour…(more)

Or change the destination to San Jose or change the name of San Jose to San Francisco and stop the train there and you can save the issue of where to put the track along the peninsula. Electrification will be a more complicated problem to solve. Probably disbursing the funds to the various state transit systems is the most reasonable now.

California Focus: COVID’s biggest victim may be mass transit

By Thomas D. Elias : sonomasnews – excerpt

For most of the last 30 years, California saw a mass transit boom stretching from San Diego to Los Angeles to the San Francisco Bay. Both light and heavy rail joined existing bus systems, providing new options for commuters and local residents to get around.

Mass transit also took off as a planning concept. Cities that approve construction of new apartment and office buildings near rail stops often forego requirements for developers to provide parking. Even when they do demand parking spaces, it’s usually fewer than what was previously ordered.

The presumption is that new residents and workers using those structures will use mass transit and their feet, that very few will drive cars…

The reason is clear: fear of contagion. No one who can avoid it wants to ride a crowded bus or train in the day of the virus, even if all aboard are masked(more)