Embattled SFMTA director to join city of Oakland’s staff

By Hannah Norman : bizjournals – excerpt

After nearly eight years leading the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency, Director of Transportation Ed Reiskin has found a new job across the bay as Oakland’s assistant city administrator.

“I look forward to joining the city administrator’s team and helping to advance the work of equitably, professionally, and compassionately serving the needs of the people of Oakland,” said Reiskin, who will start his new role Aug. 26, in a statement.

Reiskin’s last day heading up the SFMTA will be Aug. 14, and Tom Maguire — who currently serves as the SFMTA’s director of the sustainable streets division — will be the agency’s interim director as its board of directors conducts a national search for a full-time replacement.

The move comes following a particularly delay-riddled April day, when San Francisco Mayor London Breed pressured Reiskin to step down after underground rail service was suspended for hours due to a mechanical failure… (more)

Muni Video Shows ‘Whiteout’ That Drivers Say Temporarily Impairs Their Vision

By Jaxon Van Derbeken : nbcbyarea – excerpt (includes video)

An internal Muni video reflects driver concerns that the new fleet’s rear-view camera system can render them blind to hazards, potentially putting public safety at risk. Investigative reporter Jaxon Van Derbeken reports. (Published Monday, July 15, 2019)

An internal Muni video reflects driver concerns that the new fleet’s rear-view camera system can render them blind to hazards, potentially putting public safety at risk.

The surveillance video of an incident in October — obtained by NBC Bay Area’s Investigative Unit – shows the first documented incident of a passenger getting caught in the rear door of a new train.

While Muni has since installed more sensors to prevent more door incidents, drivers point to the October incident as proof of another risk, one they call “whiteout.”… (more)

We have been hearing about this problem for weeks so it is good to “see” a video that clearly shows the problem. Hopefully the SFMTA will acknowledge the problem and fix it, or, do something as radical was bring back actual rear view mirror that used to work. Whatever it takes.

Response to SF Examiner article on Muni Metro subway operation

Hi Joe…

Since you’ve been delving into the Muni Metro subway operation recently, here’s a bit of history:

BART had the Muni Metro tracks planned out…..with Muni’s full knowledge and involvement…and depicted on engineering drawings by the beginning of the 1970’s, so I don’t think BART was “flying blind”. Muni did have rail operating experts on staff at that time.

LT Klauder &Co. (now LTK) was approved as the City’s system designer in 1969, and completed the Muni Metro design by the mid-1970’s. Yet it’s taken 45 years for the alleged need for pocket tracks to surface. Other possible causes of the Muni operating problems: defective LRV’s, Muni’s uniquely inefficient short-train operation, weaknesses in Muni’s operating and maintenance programs.

As I recall there is already a pocket track just west of the Van Ness Station. And there is also train turnaround and storage capacity just east of the Embarcadero Station. In view of this, why would there be a need for extra turnback capacity at Byrant and Harrison? In fact, since Byrant and Harrison are close to the Embarcadero Station and since the tracks passing these two streets are at-grade, why do anything?  And why on earth would adding an at-grade turnaround on one  or both of these streets take seven years to implement?

Comparing the single-subway Muni Metro and its 140,000 riders a day with the Paris Metro or the vast NYC subway system that carries over 5.5 million riders a day, is a bit of a stretch.

“When those subways are built, they should incorporate the design lessons of the past”, Kirschbaum said.

Yes, like running actual trains in the subway like every other subway in the world does, rather than settling for low-capacity, one and two-car LRV consists.

The procurement specifications for the Muni Metro LRV’s were completed  early in the 1970;s The decision to opt for high platform LRV’s was made before that time. BART and Muni fought over a number of points, but I don’t recall platform height as being one of them.

“The design flaw stems from hemming and hawing on Muni’s behalf”, he said.

Hemming and hawing over what? It would be nice to see a little specificity.

LT Klauder & Co. (LTK), was and is an experienced passenger rail design firm. Klauder was retained to design the system after the City and County of San Francisco had already made two fateful decisions: First it rejected the original proposal to run ten-car trains to State College with transfers to a J/N line at Church and to K/N and M/N lines at West Portal. Later City Hall decided that the riders of all five lines would have one seat-trips  to downtown SF.  Klauder therefore inherited the sticky proposition of merging five separate Muni lines into a single two-track Muni subway. The result was a coupled system featuring 4 and 5 car trains.

Two subsequent CCSF decisions, as ill-conceived as the first two, made things even more difficult. Because of objections from West Portal merchants (aided and abetted by downtown interests intent on using the $24.7 million in West Portal subway money to help build the Embarcadero Station), it was decided to eliminate the subways previously planned between the West Portal and the median of 19th Avenue for the M and the median of Junipero Serra for the K. This deletion eliminated any chance of holding to the careful timing needed to keep things on an even keel in the subway. And then, in the mid-1990’s, because of timing problems and allegedly insurmountable LRV coupling difficulties, it was decided to abandon the coupling operation all together, thereby cutting the length of the trains operating in the subway from Klauder’s four and five-car trains to one and two- car consists. This uniquely short-sighted decision left the Muni with two monumental operating problems. First and foremost it cut the peak-period carrying capacity of the subway by over 60%. Second it eliminated the flexibility that had been built into the original design, meaning that if anything went wrong anywhere, it would immediately tie up the entire subway operation. There’s more to this, but those are the highlights.

It’s easy to blame one’s predecessors when they’re not here to rebut you.


Gerald Cauthen P.E.

Bay Area Transportation Working Group (BATWG)
510 208 5441

SF’s transit agency announces interim director

By Joshua Sabatini : sfexaminer – excerpt

Tom Maguire to lead SFMTA while officials search for Ed Reiskin’s replacement

San Francisco’s troubled transit agency announced Wednesday that its director of sustainable streets will serve as the interim director.

Tom Maguire, director of the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency’s Sustainable Streets Division, will take over as interim Director of Transportation on Aug. 15… (more)

Regional transit is moving into San Francisco. How do the residents like that?

On cusp of San Jose service, will BART let new auditor it didn’t want do her job?

Opinion by Daniel Borenstein : mercurynews – excerpt

Fares, violent crime rising, ridership declining at political, dysfunctional agency

BART’s new inspector general will have a tough challenge unraveling the transit system’s financial and operational dysfunction that includes declining ridership, increasing violent crime and long-term budget shortfalls.

The question is whether the district’s board will let her do her job.

Harriet Richardson, former Palo Alto city auditor, will be the first inspector general of the transit agency, which began service nearly 47 years ago and is scheduled to start running trains to north San Jose late this year. She starts work Aug. 5 and will have a $1 million annual budget…(more)

Call to Action: Sign Petition to Put the Rider First

By Roger Rudnick : streetsblog – excerpt (maps included)

Seamless Bay Area launches drive to start Bay Area towards rational, integrated fares

n response to continued parochialism from transit directors, the group “Seamless Bay Area” has launched a petition to create a single, rational, integrated fare structure for the Bay Area’s 27 different transit systems.

From the advocacy group’s petition page:

Public transit must work as one seamless, connected, and convenient network across the San Francisco Bay Area and beyond. Getting around on transit must be as fast and easy as driving a car. Coordinated bus, rail, and ferry routes and schedules should encourage effortless transfers. Consistent and clear customer information, branding, and maps should make using transit simple and dignified…

Just last month at the nine-member Clipper Executive Board of the Metropolitan Transportation Commission, managers of Caltrain, BART, AC Transit, VTA, and other agencies voted not to even study fare integration, despite the pleas of transit advocates from Seamless, SPUR, and Friends of Caltrain. This makes statewide efforts to integrate transit fare systems look like a mere academic exercise

The transit advocates hope that, with this petition, those new managers will be encouraged to take a more regional perspective.

“The petition has been in the works since before the Clipper vote but the timing has worked out well such that we can now use the petition to channel people’s anger about that event into action, and hopefully get that study back on track,” wrote Griffiths.

Read more about the group’s Seamless Transit Principles. And be sure to sign the petition(more)

Muni Debates Overhauls To Poorly Designed Subway Rail System

By Joe Kukura : sfist – excerpt

The terrible logistics of the Muni Metro subway system — which Muni did not even design themselves — are in line for an overhaul as the SFMTA tries to get its rail service back on track.

A fun (but facepalm-inducing) fact about Muni’s almost daily rush hour meltdowns is that the underground tunnels are inefficiently designed in part because Muni did not even design them. BART designed much of the Muni Metro system, apparently with little success getting feedback or input from Muni, which was under-funded and indecisive at the time the tunnels were getting designed. In the late 70s and early 80s when the current underground tunnel system was being planned and constructed, Muni failed to inform BART of very fundamental decisions like what kind of trains they planned to use in the tunnels ,or the types of platforms they needed. “Muni had not decided how they would operate the tunnels,” transit activist and historian Rick Laubscher said at a June SFMTA Board of Directors meeting. “BART was flying blind.”…(more)

San Francisco Transportation Fares Increase With New Month

By Grace Wilcox : thesfnews – excerpt

SAN FRANCISCO—Major Bay Area transit agencies just raised their fares as On Monday, July 1, transportation fares increased for Muni, AC Transit, San Francisco Bay Ferry, and Golden Gate Transit. BART and Caltrain prices have not increased, but with the increase in other transportation fares, it is more expensive to cross the Golden Gate Bridge.

California drivers are being hit with a new gas tax taking effect July 1. Gas prices will increase by 5.6 cents per gallon, according to SFGate.

Here is a detailed list of increased fares for each transportation system:…(more)

While Salesforce Transit Center reopens, SF looks at replacing its leadership

By Joe Fitzgerald Rodriguez : sfexaminer – excerpt

Cracked steel beams supporting the Salesforce Transit Center’s third-floor bus deck led to the building’s temporary closure in September last year.

But even as officials prepare to reopen the $2.2 billion center on July 1 after months of repairs, cracks are widening elsewhere this time, in the center’s leadership.

Political and transit officials are awaiting the results of a peer review report examining potential changes in the management of the transit center needed to successfully bring long-promised rail service from the Peninsula to San Francisco’s downtown and beyond. While no specific proposals are on the table yet, officials in the past have publicly discussed replacing the Transbay Joint Powers Authority, which managed the transit center project, wholesale.

The analysis, which will be presented to the board in late July, was called for by Supervisor Aaron Peskin, chair of the San Francisco County Transportation Authority board…(more)

Can’t say as how I blame them for wanting a new management system for this disaster, but, how will they go about fixing this mistake by exchanging personnel?

A Critical Review of Los Angeles Metro’s 28 by 2028 Plan

Commentary By Thomas A. Rubin and James E. Moore II

The Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority has a history of over-promising, failing to deliver, and ultimately making things worse for transit users.

The Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority (Metro) is the surface transportation planning and funding agency for the largest county (by population) in the United States, and is the operator of the nation’s third-largest public transit system.

Metro is considering the adoption of 28 by 2028 a plan to complete 28 major transportation construction projects prior to the beginning of the 2028 Los Angeles Summer Olympics. This proposal would accelerate eight projects for completion by 2028 in addition to the 20 specified in Measure M, the 2016 County transportation half-cent sales tax ballot measure.

Metro has a history of over-promising and then failing to deliver on such projects, ultimately making conditions worse for Los Angeles transit users. The 28 by 2028 proposal appears to repeat the pattern.

This is the first brief in a series of summaries that examines Metro’s record, and those of its predecessor organizations, over the past several decades… (more)