Open letter to SFCTA and SaveMuni Executive Committee.

Although San Francisco has spent billions of dollars on public transit, the high number and locations of Transit Deserts explain public dissatisfaction—particularly for lower-income people in outlying and southern neighborhoods. Inefficient cost/ benefit infrastructure projects, like the short 1.7 mile/ $1.6 billion Central Subway, have taken local funds from the rest of the Muni system—cutting routes and service disproportionately in isolated communities. Not to mention collateral damage to neighborhood businesses and peoples’ livelihoods. Or annual high operating and maintenance costs that cut bus hours. Going forward, we need to give priority to and accelerate cost-effective projects that improve San Francisco’s public transit system as a whole.

Regards,

Howard Wong, AIA, SaveMuni 

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How Seattle Bucked a National Trend and Got More People to Ride the Bus

: usa.streetsblog – excerpt

That trend has cooled slightly since then, but Seattle continues to see increased overall transit ridership, bucking the national trend of decline. In 2016, Seattle saw transit ridership increase by 4.1 percent—only Houston and Milwaukee saw even half that increase in the same year.

The bus driver: When buses get priority, riders prioritize the bus.  Third Avenue is one of a few transit malls in the United States that restrict private automobile use.

As great as it would be to maximize the bus’s reign on the roads everywhere, that’s not always possible. Scott Kubly, the director of Seattle’s Department of Transportation, says making the system better mostly means spotting small fixes. “We don’t just focus on the big corridor projects,” Kubly says. “We are focused on making the small, surgical improvements that add up to something big.”(more)

San Francisco needs leadership that begins and ends by focusing on customer service. Forcing all modes to share the road is not helping anyone. Giving private corporate interests priorities is not serving the public.

Dozens of U.S. Cities Have ‘Transit Deserts’ Where People Get Stranded

By Junfeng Jiao and Chris Bischak : smithsonian – excerpt (includes map)

Living in these zones makes it hard to access good jobs, health care and other services. 

Transportation deserts were present to varying degrees in all 52 cities in our study. In transit desert block groups, on average, about 43 percent of residents were transit dependent. But surprisingly, even in block groups that have enough transit service to meet demand, 38 percent of the population was transit dependent. This tells us that there is broad need for alternatives to individual car ownership.

Shrinking transit deserts does not necessarily require wholesale construction of new transit infrastructure. Some solutions can be implemented relatively cheaply and easily.

[NOTE:  In the article’s chart of 27 cities, San Francisco ranks worst.]

MAP (choose San Francisco):   http://www.transitdeserts.org/?xid=PS_smithsonian

….(more)

Power players map strategy to get Bay Area bridge toll hike passed in June

By Matier and Ross : sfchronicle – excerpt

THERE IS AN OPPOSITION TO RM3!
The media is just ignoring it. Not all community leaders support RM3. Find out why: RM3 Handout

Big names and big money are banding together to sell voters in June on a $3 toll increase on state-run Bay Area bridges to pay for a laundry list of road, rail and ferry projects throughout the region — some sexy and some not so much.

While there has been no organized opposition, one vocal opponent is Rep. Mark DeSaulnier, D-Concord.

“The projects they are talking about are all over the place and are based more on political relationships than on transportation engineering,” DeSaulnier said.

State Assemblywoman Catharine Baker, R-San Ramon, is also opposed, largely because the measure allows for automatic toll increases in the future based on inflation.

“And they can do it without any vote of the people or the Legislature,” Baker said…

OPPOSITION TO RM3 is growing as more people find out about this draconian tax, that is not a tax. How well has the gas tax worked so far? How many streets and bridges have been repaired?

Passage of this bill is an open-ended invitation to (WHO EXACTLY?) to raise the rates based on inflation. Inflation is built into these rates, which, along with the gas tax, unless it is repealed, will assure inflation. Every truckload of products crossing state bridges in the Bay Area will add to the cost of living, including the cost of food. Food and gas costs have already gone up.

WE MUST STOP RM3! JOIN THE OPPOSITION!

Regional tax elections rules do not match other ballot initiatives. There are no paid ballot arguments allowed. Only one argument per county is allowed.

These special rules only apply to regional ballot issues. This is a good reason to oppose them. More reasons are here: RM3 Handout

Electric scooters for grown-ups are taking over San Francisco, and tech workers are annoyed

Credit union files taxi medallion suit against SFMTA

By Julia Cheever : sfbay – excerpt

A credit union that helped The City of San Francisco sell taxi medallions has sued a city agency over financial losses caused by the collapse in value of the medallions amid the rise of ride-booking services such as Uber and Lyft.

The lawsuit was filed against the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency in San Francisco Superior Court on Tuesday by the nonprofit, member-owned San Francisco Federal Credit Union.

It seeks $28 million in compensation plus an order requiring The City to buy back unsellable medallions for the $250,000 purchase price.

The lawsuit charges the SFMTA violated alleged promises to keep the taxi business vibrant, shore up the value of the medallions and buy back any medallions that it couldn’t resell.

Instead, the law suit claims:

“…[SFMTA] has elected to stick its head in the sand while the credit union and hardworking taxi driver medallion owners are saddled with all the burdens.”… (more)

Falling transit ridership poses an ‘emergency’ for cities, experts fear

washingtonpost – excerpt

Commuters tire of the \shuttle bus shuffle that crawls through San Francisco streets. Crowded Muni is painfully slow and standing room only is hardly a ride worth taking when other modes offer clean, comfortable seats.

Transit ridership fell in 31 of 35 major metropolitan areas in the U.S. last year, including each of the seven cities that serve the majority of riders, with losses largely stemming from buses, but punctuated by reliability issues on systems like Metro, according to an annual overview of public transit usage.

The analysis by the New York-based TransitCenter advocacy group, using data from the U.S. Department of Transportation’s National Transit Database, raises alarm about the state of “legacy” public transit systems in the Northeast and Midwest and rising vehicle ownership and car-based commuting in cities nationwide.

Researchers concluded that factors such as lower fuel costs, increased teleworking, higher car ownership and the rise of alternatives such as Uber and Lyft are pulling people off trains and buses at record levels…

“Transit systems should deliver quality service to low-income people. But low-income people do not owe us a transit system.”…

Metro is mulling a major redesign of the bus system. But first, officials need to figure out why people aren’t riding.]… (more)

BART closures cause congestion

Getting home should be considered mundane and common but for some BART riders, it will soon become dangerous and difficult.

In a few months, the Civic Center BART station will permanently close entrances at Grove, Hyde and Market Streets and the entrance outside Hotel Whitcomb will be permanently closed.

This decision is to make way for a new power substation that is needed to ensure there’s enough electricity when the plan for 2025 runs 25 percent more trains beneath downtown and the Transbay Tube.

“Things will become much more noticeable during peak time such as the 9 a.m. and 5 p.m. transit times,” said Thomas Edwards, utility worker for BART… (more)

It isn’t April Fools yet. What is gong on here? Is this true? Will BART stop at Civic Center? Which exits will remain open? How will this effect the Muni underground?

RELATED:

BART Plans To Close Some Civic Center Station Entrances

cbslocal – excerpt (includes video)

…it’s a necessity to grow the BART system using measure RR funds to put in a new power substation at Civic Center…(more)

This is what our regional tax funds get us. Less service so they are GROW BART. Good reason to oppose any more regional bills such as this year’s RM3 that will increase $3 bridge tolls at the same time they are cutting back on BART service.

PLAN-IT LOS ANGELES

A collection of important articles and original commentaries on planning issues in the greater Los Angeles area

Updated analysis of Senator Scott Wiener’s SB 827 Real Estate Deregulation Bill

Platkin on Planning: Los Angeles is heading toward a perfect storm of gentrification, well camouflaged behind spurious claims of boosting transit ridership and addressing LA’s housing crisis through planning, zoning, and environmental deregulation.

This perfect storm is propelled by huge tail winds from the State Legislature in Sacramento, with big city Democrats fronting for the real estate interests that fund and mentor them. San Francisco State Senator Scott Wiener and Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti are their current favorites, but many more are lining up at the trough.

To begin, there is a treasure trove of successful programs that they could turn to if they truly wanted to increase transit ridership and address the climate and housing crises, but they are totally mute on these options. As for their cheerleaders, their silence is also deafening since the following public programs are at odds with their mantra to magically solve LA’s many urban ills: “build more market housing.”

Increasing transit ridership through the following is not on their to-do list:..

My conclusion about SB 827, by itself, and in combination with the supplemental land use ordinances I reviewed above, is that it is one of the most destructive pieces of planning legislation I have encountered in over three decades of professional work in the city planning profession.  Like all miracle cures, it won’t work.  It might make some landowners and landlords rich, but its fatal flaws will destroy many neighborhoods, without increasing transit ridership or reducing the cost of housing…

Dick Platkin is a former Los Angeles city planner who reports on local city planning controversies for CityWatchLA…(more)

Please read and comment at the source if you can.