City Hall undermines the most important transportation project in half a century

By Gerald Cauthen : sfexaminer – excerpt

Under the Ed Lee Administration, transportation in San Francisco is heading toward a cliff.

For starters, City Hall is neglecting, if not actively impeding, the downtown extension of Caltrain (DTX), a project that would connect Caltrain to six Muni rail lines, four BART lines and more than 40 bus lines at one spacious location in the middle of San Francisco’s 340,000 person employment center.

In November 1999, voters recognized the value of DTX by approving Proposition H by 69.3 percent. Prop H specifically calls for Caltrain to be extended to the new Transbay Transit Center at First and Mission streets. In November 2003, voters approved Proposition K by 75 percent, which provided $270 million for the extension. In June 2010, the voters approved Proposition G, calling for high-speed trains to also terminate at the TTC. This measure was approved by an overwhelming 83.8 percent. Yet it appears the public policy implicit in these three propositions was lost on City Hall.

At a recent meeting, Supervisor Jane Kim was asked why City Hall was so “ambivalent” toward the long-awaited DTX project. Kim replied, “We all support DTX, but it’s very expensive, and we don’t know where we can find the money.”

Kim’s answer is reflective of City Hall’s apparent lack of understanding of the importance of DTX to San Francisco and the region. It doesn’t explain why, in the 16 years after Prop. H passed, The City has contributed only 2.8 percent of the project’s cost, compared to the 34.8 percent allocation it has already made to the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency’s low ridership Third Street/Central Subway project. Nor does it explain why even today, city officials talk of finding the additional funds needed to extend the Central Subway, build Bus Rapid Transit on Van Ness and Geary, bring the Warriors to town, “beautify our streets” and send a special subway into the privately owned Park Merced development, all the while seldom, if ever, mentioning DTX…

San Francisco has the savvy, the financial muscle and the political clout to pull the DTX program together. But it will take effort and it will take leadership. If San Francisco gets going on this, DTX construction could begin in the next 18 to 24 months, and the Caltrain trains could be up and running in the Transbay Transit Center by 2023.

Gerald Cauthen, is co-founder of the Bay Area Transportation Working Group and SaveMuni. He has managed the design and construction of Muni, San Francisco Water Department and Hetch Hetchy infrastructure projects.(more)

State College System Funds Need to Create More Public Transit Jobs

By Brandi Childress : vta -excerpt

These training programs for transit workers are needed because the public school system is failing to prepare students to do the jobs that are needed.

A program to train much needed transit operations and maintenance workers is taking shape thanks to a one-million dollar grant from the California Community College Chancellor’s Office.

The Santa Clara Valley Transportation Authority (VTA), Mission College of Santa Clara, and the Amalgamated Transit Workers Union (ATU) Local 265 are launching the Transit Apprenticeships for Professional Career Advancement initiative to build a unique system of apprenticeship programs to recruit and train 100 apprentices during the two-year grant period.

VTA’s workforce development strategy, “Grow Your Own”, offers current VTA workers the opportunity to learn new skills and move into new careers using this apprenticeship approach. These opportunities begin with the entry-level position of a professional coach operator and lead to the highest paid ATU, and hardest to fill, position of Overhead Line Worker… (more)

Avalos’ argument is the same one used by then Assemblymember Jerry Hill a few years back.

from Bob Planthold

Hill introduced a bill to REDUCE the fines for those making an illegal right turn on red , without stopping. Hill said his constituents asked him for help – because they couldn’t afford the high levels of fines for the tickets they were getting.  The Calif. Police Chiefs’ Association, California Walks, and some other safety advocates joined together to defeat that anti-safety bill. Ever since then, Hill has not done anything adverse to traffic / roadway safety. Let’s hope that Avalos and the other 5 Supes. eventually learn something from Jerry Hill’s experience.

“Board approves rolling bike stops; Lee likely to veto…”

Supervisor Avalos says the $200 fine for bike riders who roll through stop signs is “the difference between making their monthly rent or not.” It’s that kind of logic that leaves me shaking my head.

Here’s a suggestion: Don’t run through the damn stop sign and you can make your rent.

And besides, being able to make your rent, you just might not injure someone, or yourself, or a cause an accident.

Joe Mac… (more)

Ready for 1.2 Million Shuttle Stops Clogging Streets?

By Patrick Monette-Shaw : westsideobserver – excerpt


After publishing my November article describing problems with the trial of “tech” shuttle buses all over the City, including on the West Side, and noting that problems may rapidly worsen if the program is made permanent, that’s just what SFMTA’s Board of Directors did when it approved a permanent program on November 17 ignoring a detailed Secondary Analysis highlighting deep flaws in the October 5 Evaluation Report of the 18-month trial period.

…the problem with blocked Muni zones is about to worsen come February 2016, since the MTA Board also approved … smaller shuttle bus operators who provide free intra-city rides to also use Muni red zones…”

Concerned citizens may want to make a point of reading the full Secondary Analysison-line.

After MTA’s Board received impassioned testimony from members of the public opposing making the Commuter Shuttle Program permanent, it did so anyway, including allowing the permanent program to expand from 124 shuttle zones to up to 200 shuttle zones.


Not one of MTA’s Board of Directors bothered questioning in depth SFMTA’s Shuttle Project Manager, Hank Willson, about data in the October 5 MTA Evaluation Report concerning problems with commuter shuttles interfering with red Muni bus zones.  Worse, none of MTA’s Board of Directors even thought to ask questions about the Planning Department’s second EIR Exemption letter.

Of note, the 41% increase in shuttles the Planning Department anticipates may worsen incidents in Muni red zones, which MTA’s Board didn’t even discuss, let alone discuss in depth.  Extrapolating data from MTA’s October 5 Evaluation Report, things may rapidly worsen:…

And not one of the SFMTA’s Board of Directors bothered asking whether the Evaluation Report may have low-balled data in the Evaluation Report… 

Compelling Public Testimony During Hearing

One member of the public who testified on November 17 indicated he is a lawyer who uses the shuttle buses.  He noted not only that his tech company employer is able to, but would be more than happy to, pay higher fees to help fund public transportation infrastructure…

Ignoring the Elephant in the Room:  Transbay Terminal as “Hub”

Ignoring the elephant in the room, SFMTA has all but turned a blind eye towards considering making the commuter shuttle bus program use a “hub” approach, as most transportation planners have used since the mid-1800’s.

Did SFMTA simply forget that the San Francisco County Transportation Authority and the Transbay Joint Powers Authority (TJPA) are building the $4.5 billionTransbay Transit Center a transportation hub?

San Francisco’s Transbay Terminal is a transportation complex in San Francisco that opened in 1939 but was relocated on August 7, 2010 to build the Transbay Transit Center.  Its function during the past 75 years was being a transportation hub.

During public testimony on November 17, at least five members of the public advocated that SFMTA use a central hub location for shuttle bus operators…

In other words, rather than creating one, or a few, central hubs, SFMTA simply turned the major and minor arterial streets of San Francisco all over the City into “spokes” — that poke into the flow of Muni buses and cause greater traffic congestion — and converted up to 200 restricted Muni red bus zones into commuter shuttle “hubs” scattered across the City…

Muni Drivers Locked Out of Process

TWU Local 250-A president Eric Williams testified during the MTA Board’s November 17 hearing, that the shuttle program was a “done deal no matter what we say in here, bought and paid for [by the tech companies].”…

SFMTA Director Ed Reiskin:  “Open Mouth, Insert Foot”

Comically, two days after the SFMTA Board approved making the shuttle program permanent, the San Francisco Chronicle carried an article on January 19 reporting on the MTA’s Central Subway project, in which MTA’s director, Ed Reiskin, noted:

As the second-most-densely populated city in the country (New York City is first), I think our roadways are nearly at capacity, and our streets are not going to get any wider.”…

It is widely expected that the Coalition for Fair, Legal, and Environmental Transit will appeal the absence of a second EIR for making the commuter shuttle program permanent to the full Board of Supervisors, since the potential for unlimited expansion is the heart of the issue going forward.

And for all anyone knows, Superior Court Judge Garrett Wong may — hopefully — rule that a full EIR was required for the pilot program and should have been performed, and a permanent expansion definitely requires a full EIR.

An increase to 1.19 million commercial commuter shuttle buses stopping in Muni red zones, plus an additional as yet unknown number of smaller “free” shuttles” the SFMTA Board approved using Muni red zones, must surely have quality of life, housing displacement, roadway wear-and-tear, and other environmental impacts that must be mitigated through an EIR.

Contact members of the Board of Supervisors and urge them to require a full EIR!



Independent review calls Caltrans ‘out of date’ and cites ‘culture of fear’

By Charles Piller : sacbee – excerpt

An independent review of the California Department of Transportation, released Thursday, called for sweeping reforms of the department to improve mobility in the face of environmental challenges and a decline in the number of miles driven by Californians.

An independent review of the California Department of Transportation, released Thursday, called for sweeping reforms of the department to improve mobility in the face of environmental challenges and a decline in the number of miles driven by Californians.

Gov. Jerry Brown had ordered the $270,000 review – conducted by the State Smart Transportation Initiative at the University of Wisconsin, Madison – last May.

Joel Rogers, an author of the report, said in a news conference that his group found long-standing problems in Caltrans operations, including “a mission, vision and set of goals that are not well aligned” with current needs, such as legislation that mandates improved mobility while reducing traffic demand and greenhouse-gas emissions…

Brian Kelly, secretary of the California State Transportation Agency, which includes Caltrans, agreed that culture change would be key to getting better results from Caltrans, including a new emphasis on keeping highways in good repair.

“It’s not OK to have highways ranked 48th nationally in terms of pavement condition” yet still prioritize new construction, he said. “ ‘Fix it first’ makes sense,” given current resources, he said… (more)

Witnesses tell lawmakers Caltrans compromised quality in Bay Bridge construction
Senate report: Caltrans ignored shoddy work on Bay Bridge in China and U.S.
Independent Transportation Review

Potrero Avenue Roadway Improvement Project

Just when you thought they couldn’t make your life any worse, SFMTA and the city of San Francisco, outdo themselves once again. They spend a fortune of your money to make you miserable.


I wanted to touch base with you regarding the Potrero Avenue Roadway Improvement Project. The project is a multi-agency (Public Works, SFMTA, and PUC) effort to improve safety and upgrade infrastructure along Potrero Ave. and neighboring blocks. The scope of work will include sewer main replacement, water main installation, curb ramps, bulb-outs, bus-ramps, some sidewalk widening, center-islands, bus pads, street lighting upgrades, tree planting, Muni OCS work, street base repairs, etc. Work is scheduled to begin this month with overall completion expected in Spring 2018.

This project is led by Public Works and I’ll be your point of contact during construction. Please pass along this notice to members and anyone else you think might be interested in the project. Additional information on the project can be found by visiting our webpage at

Thank you.

Alex M.

Public Affairs Officer

Murillo, Alex (DPW)” <Alex.M.Murillo>

Project Update

Public Works has contracted A. Ruiz Construction, Inc. to complete work on the Potrero Avenue Roadway Improvement Project. Our contractor is expected to begin water main installation work on Potrero Avenue the week of December 7, 2015. However, in advance of the water main work, you may see crews “potholing” on Potrero and other neighboring streets. Potholing is the practice of digging an exploratory hole to expose underground utilities to ascertain the horizontal and vertical location of the facility.

Project Background

The project is a collaboration between neighbors and several city agencies (Public Works, SFMTA, and PUC) to improve safety for people walking and biking, maximize infrastructure upgrades in the area, and to help beautify Potrero Avenue.

All of the upgrades are being constructed to coincide with the completion of the SF General Hospital Rebuild. The Potrero Avenue Roadway Improvement Project is scheduled to begin construction in December 2015 with completion planned in Spring 2018.

The final design for roadway improvements is the result of five community workshops, valuable public input, and the neighborhood voting for their preferred option for transforming Potrero Avenue. Option 1 emerged as the preferred design alternative for Potrero Avenue.

The Potrero Avenue Roadway Improvement Project will also bring a revitalizing facelift to the public space adjacent to the SF General Hospital with pedestrian safety improvements, wider sidewalks, new landscaping and new street lights.

Preferred Option Community Letter, Dec. 20, 2013

Final Potrero Streetscape Improvements Concept images

Scope of Work

Potrero Avenue, repaving Alameda Street to the 101 On-ramp (map) / The streetscape improvement work will happen on Potrero Ave. between 21st and 25th streets.
22nd Street, Hampshire Street to Vermont Street
23rd Street, Potrero Avenue to Vermont Street
Vermont Street: 22nd Street to 23rd Street
Hampshire Street: 24th Street to 25th Street / The work at this location will be limited to the Muni overhead wires and poles.


SFMTA Traffic Engineering Public Hearing held February 14, 2014
SFMTA Board approved the project on March 28, 2014
Construction will begin in December 2015.
Completion in Spring 2018.


Construction Cost: $19.8 million. This project is funded through the 2011 Road Repaving and Street Safety Bond Program, Prop K Sales Tax Dollars, Federal Transit Authority, and the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission.


Alex M. Murillo Cristina C. Olea
Public Affairs Officer Project Manager
Alex.M.Murillo Cristina.C.Olea
(415) 558-5296

Community Meetings

Community Open House #4: Thursday, November 7, 2013

SaveMuni is looking for new Members, is San Francisco’s only Independent Transportation Think Tank – and we are actively looking for new members. Membership ……(yearly membership is only $20) – and we meet once a month! You can get information on our activities from our website…..SAVEMUNI.ORG…… all information concerning our activities are ‘reported’, on this website.(as well as procedures/contacts for membership.)
We have successfully worked with ALL PUBLIC TRANSPORTATION – in San Francisco/Bay Area, including THE NEW TRANSBAY TERMINAL – referred to as the GRAND CENTRAL TERMINAL – WEST.
As a member you would fulfill your desires to help keep our ‘infrastructures’ operating well, and get a feeling of accomplishment – for helping with, the big efforts of transportation in San Francisco and The Bay Area. THANK YOU.

Thank you,
Michael Barrett
(415) 956 – 3267