2017 Ideas

Save Muni’s Objectives for 2017 Final (but subject to revision if necessary)

  1. Rededicate itself to making extending Caltrain to the new Transbay Transit Center San Francisco’s Number One transportation improvement priority.
  2. Increase Muni’s speed, reliability and ridership.  Implement and enforce transit only lanes, at least during the morning peak commute period.  Raise Muni’s on-time performance to 85 % by 2020.  Restore comprehensive service to all neighborhoods and increase weekend and evening service by at least 15%.  Cap patron transfer wait times at one-half the headway of the least frequent line.
  3. Double the Market Street tunnel’s Muni Metro passenger-carrying capacity by taking the steps needed to operate 4 and 5 car trains in the subway, including modernizing the subway signaling system, developing a successful way of coupling and uncoupling rail cars at the portals and creating unimpeded LRV surface operations.
  4. Support well-planned, cost effective and vetted transportation projects of proven merit.   The planning and engineering such projects would necessarily include bonafide alternative analyses, accurate capital and operating cost estimates and long term benefit-to-cost ratios.
  5. Oppose wasteful, cost-ineffective single-purpose schemes and politically-inspired pet projects of little or no benefit, including such wasteful and counterproductive   projects such as the M-Line changes proposed by the SFMTA last year and the costly and ill-timed extension of the Central Subway.   The most important transportation projects should happen first.
  6. Insist that street changes be designed and implemented in a manner that avoids impeding Muni vehicles and first responders.
  7. Restructure the SFMTA to make running the Muni system its top priority.
  8. Work with MTC, the other  transit operators and the private sector to ease congestion and to resolve the other transportation difficulties afflicting San Francisco.  The AC Transit bus system should include East Bay transit-only lanes and be significantly streamlined and upgraded.  A branch of the Altamont Commute Express passenger rail service should be extended across a rebuilt or replaced Dumbarton rail bridge and then routed into San Francisco along the Caltrain right of way.  The long-needed regional bus system should be implemented.  The incentives to car pool and van pool should be significantly strengthened.
  9. Motorists, computer-summoned vehicles, automated vehicles, hi-tech buses and bicycles should all pay their fair share of the infrastructure costs associated with their mode of travel.
  10. Congestion pricing and/or roadway use fees should be established wherever and whenever needed to keep traffic moving at reasonable speeds.  Proceeds should go to improving the non-automotive forms of travel.  SaveMuni Proposals:  Gasoline taxes increased by $0.20 a gallon for each of the next twenty years.  State and federal highway use fees of at least $0.20 a mile.  Congestion pricing at designated boundaries of at least $6.  Significant increases in the excise taxes paid on behalf of both expensive vehicles and heavy vehicles.


FERRY SYSTEM IDEA:  SaveMuni Calls for Ferry Expansion Like New York City
Mass transit needs to have massive increases in ridership.  A high-tech ferry system can be built quicker and cheaper than subway, underwater tube or rail projects.  Moreover, ferries and floating piers would adapt to sea level rise, while taking advantage of vast waterways and shorelines.  Ferries have maximum resiliency for climate change and emergency response capabilities.

FERRIES:  Biggest & Quickest Transit Ridership Increase for Lowest Cost’
A second BART tube would take 20 years and $12 billion to complete—requiring billions more for station expansion, high perpetual maintenance/ operating costs and eventually another tube replacement project.  Facing sea level rise and storm surges, underground subways would have high engineering costs, problematic weathertightness and high flood risks.  But within a few short years at low costs, a new ferry system could leverage vast waterway capacity and miles of shoreline landings to increase transit ridership by hundreds of thousands.  Approaching the daily ridership levels of BART, Istanbul’s extensive ferry system carries 300,000 daily riders.  Modern ferry technology on the Bay would exceed 1936’s 250,000 daily passengers at the Ferry Building.  Along with an integrated regional transit system and the Downtown Caltrain Extension (DTX), a robust ferry system would be the biggest transit bang for the buck.

GOTHAMIST:  Greatly Expanded $2.75 Ferry System Will Launch in NYC Next Summer
Mayor de Blasio’s vision for a dramatically expanded ferry system in New York City is about to be realized: he announced today that the ferry service will launch as soon as summer 2017. That ferry will be operated by Hornblower, Inc., a California-based cruise, yacht, and ferry company that’s operated in the New York harbor for the past 10 years.
Ferry rides will cost the same as a MetroCard swipe—$2.75—down from the current cost of $4 on weekdays and $6 on weekends. For an extra dollar, you can bring a bike onboard. Ultimately, the city hopes to integrate the ferry system with the MTA, though initial studies indicate that will actually only benefit a small percentage of commuters, as 75 percent of potential riders would either walk or bike to the ferries and not transfer to or from the subway.

De Blasio’s $325 Million Ferry Push: Rides to 5 Boroughs, at Subway Price: New York Times

Istanbul shows ferries have a future: theguardian – The Istanbul rush hour commute is like no other. Passengers feast on toasted sandwiches, tea and freshly brewed coffee before taking one of a choice of seats. Some even get to light up a cigarette out the back. That’s because 300,000 people in Turkey’s biggest city take the ferry to work every day. In Istanbul, more than 100 ferries and sea buses carry up to 2,100 commuters per trip with many routes served by eight departures an hour. The Istanbul Deniz Otobusleri (IDO) or Istanbul Sea Bus company, the largest maritime transport corporation in the world, carried 47 million passengers around the city last year, with a similar number using other ferry companies in the city.

A Brief History of Ferries on the Bay : baycrossings – The great peak ferry transit years were 1935 and 1936, when 50 to 60 million people crossed the Bay annually on almost 50 ferries, and 250,000 passengers flowed through San Francisco’s Ferry Building each day. On the waterside, ferries made 340 arrivals and departures daily. On the landside, connecting streetcars left every 20 seconds. Ferries now routinely achieve speeds of more than 40 mph, substantially increasing their marketability. Since ferries need little in the way of right-of-way facilities, overall costs (per seat mile) are much lower for ferries than for rail systems, and about the same compared to bus service. In response to the Loma Prieta earthquake, the Legislature repealed the prohibitions against other competing transportation modes, removing the last of the “passive” constraints to increased ferry service

STAR FERRY, HONG KONG:  Often preferred over subway and road tunnels, the system moves volumes of people quickly and inexpensively since 1888—over 70,000 passengers a day, or 26 million a year.  It has been rated first in the “Top 10 Most Exciting Ferry Rides” poll by the Society of American Travel Writers (“SATW”).  One of the most beautiful rides in the world, day and night, the Star Ferry costs only $2.00HK (26 cents) for the lower deck, $2,50HK (32 cents) for the upper deck and is free for seniors.  During peak hours, frequency is as low as 6 minute intervals.

CURBED NY:  Staten Island Ferry ridership hit record highs this year
The Staten Island Ferry broke record ridership levels this past year, Metro New York has learned. Between July 2015 and June this year, more than 23 million rode the ferry between Staten Island and Manhattan, and what’s more, the ridership levels surpassed the record set in 2012 by over 800,000 people.

SF Bay ferries riding tidal wave of popularity : sfchronicle – Ferry service on the bay, which was revitalized by the 1989 Loma Prieta earthquake, is now riding the wave of an economic boom, and these days public transportation by water is thriving...(more)

SF Bay ferry rider surge fuels expansion dreams : mercurynews – Transportation officials hope to do something about that in coming years, restoring in part a system that at its peak in the mid-1930s had 50 ferries carrying 50 million to 60 million passengers annually… (more)

WETA System Expansion Policy :
sanfranciscobayferry –
There is no pre-determined level of evaluation that determines whether a project is feasible. There are many factors that contribute to whether a project is developed and becomes part of the WETA system. Instead, the System Expansion Policy provides policy makers with an agreed-upon framework, bringing objective measures and predictability to the project development process. The System Expansion Policy will be a supporting document to the WETA Strategic Plan as well as future Short Range Transit Plans.

WETA Strategic Plan : sanfranciscobayferry- WETA’s 20-year expansion and enhancement plan would increase ferry service capacity by more than 80 percent, providing the Bay Area with one of its best options to offer congestion relief in the Bay Bridge corridor. Estimated ridership would grow from approximately 10,000 daily boardings today to more than 40,000 in the future. While there are currently only five peak-hour landings at the Ferry Building, there will be 25 landings in the peak hour once the expansion and enhancement program is realized. Table 1.0 illustrates the significant expansion in ferry service represented by planned enhancement and expansion of the system.

AUTONOMOUS BOATS AND SHIPPING IDEA: SaveMuni Calls for Transit Innovation :

Self-driving boats to be unleashed in Amsterdam : cnn – The cutting-edge crafts will offer a range of urban solutions from public transport to pollution sensing and water-based venues. If trials are successful, a fleet of Roboats will soon be operating in the Dutch capital, and around the world. “In Amsterdam, the existing infrastructure of roads and bridges is extremely busy,” says Dr. Stephan van Dijk, research program manager at AMS. “We will try to shift the transport of goods and people to the waterways to get people out of their cars and reduce traffic in the city.”

Rolls-Royce Publishes vision of the future of remote and autonomous shipping – rolls-royce – Speaking at the Symposium Oskar Levander, Rolls-Royce, Vice President of Innovation – Marine, said: “This is happening. It’s not if, it’s when. The technologies needed to make remote and autonomous ships a reality exist.


  • Calls for Acceleration of DTX – Now is the time to accelerate the region’s highest transportation priority, which will connect rail to the new Transbay Center.  DTX is environmentally-cleared and near shovel-ready.  DTX was promised as the justification for downtown upzoning and dense development. The viable DTX financial plan should be implemented.  Otherwise, when the new $6 billion Transbay Center opens in 2017, it could remain a waning bus station for decades.Urgency: San Franciscans have already mandated this priority, overwhelmingly approving Propositions H in 1999, K in 2003 and G in 2010 to connect Caltrain to the new Transbay Center.

    Political Diversions: DTX must not be delayed again by diverting funds to weaker projects or by restudying environmentally-cleared rail alignments.  New projects have unknown timelines and long entitlement/ environmental processes.  New projects, like the Caltrain Yard Development concept and the I-280 Removal concept, can be phased as independent projects—if they ever proceed at all.  By example, Hudson Yards (New York), Barclays Center (Brooklyn) and Millennium Park (Chicago) are developments constructed above operating rail yards.

    Need: DTX will connect Caltrain to six Muni rail lines, four BART lines and more than 40 bus lines at a regional transportation hub—in the middle of San Francisco’s 340,000 person employment center.  By 2035, 525,000 cars a day will be entering San Francisco from the South—more than the combined number of cars on the Golden Gate and Bay Bridges.  The Transbay Transit Center is the top investment for region-wide benefits.


    SaveMuni Calls for Accelerated Transit Ridership

    Although San Francisco’s voters prioritized Bus Rapid Networks (BRT) and Transit-Priority Streets in Prop K 2003, SFMTA did not start implementing citywide improvements until recent years.  BRT is the quickest and least expensive transit improvement that markedly increases ridership.

    Comparisons:  San Francisco and Zurich are both small cities.  But Zurich has a 60% transit modal share compared to San Francisco’s 24%.  In 1973, Zurich’s voters rejected an expensive subway project and voted instead to implement a less costly transit-priority program—-leading to one of the world’s highest per capita ridership rates because its transit service is fast, frequent, reliable and inexpensive.  Meanwhile, San Francisco diverted billions of dollars to the Central Subway—cutting service to pay for local matching funds.

    Comprehensive Bus Rapid Transit:  San Francisco has partly implemented red dedicated bus lanes, all-door boarding and other BRT elements.  But wherever possible and in partnership with neighborhoods, a full BRT system should be accelerated, including:

  • Red dedicated bus lanes—particularly on all major arterials
  • Synchronized traffic signals
  • GPS NextBus schedules at all transit stops—with state-of-the-art digital screens
  • Hi-tech management of route schedules and frequency
  • Pre-boarding payment machines
  • On-board payment machines
  • No-gate Muni Metro Stations
  • Low-floor buses and trains
  • Integrated transportation system of buses, trains, planes, ferries, boats, local/ regional carriers…
  • Integrated transfer points between all modes of transportation
  • Neighborhood parking management plans

To Save Money on Building Rail, Spend Money on Marketing Buses”
nytimes – “Bus-based public transit in the United States suffers from an image problem.”
That fact, laid out in a 2009 report from the Federal Transit Administration, isn’t rprising, but it has led to a perverse outcome: Transit agencies are spending millions of dollars on new rail infrastructure that is no faster than existing bus service, simply because riders perceive a train as better than a bus.”
“What if transit agencies spent just a fraction of what it costs to lay new rails to spruce up the buses and tell riders they’re faster than they realize?”
“In New York, the city and the state could make a similar effort to sell the Q70 and M60 services to people who normally wouldn’t be caught dead on a bus to the airport. Dedicated boarding areas and improved buses could be bought for a fraction of the price of a new train system.”

Five Cities with Bus Rapid Transit Systems : thisbigcity 

SaveMuni Wants to Make it Easy to Use Transit with Free Shuttle Bus Loops: Free useful shuttle loops are the hottest transit trend in the United States, with big new ridership—like in Baltimore, Dallas, Raleigh, Denver, Minneapolis, Bethesda, Aspen, Houston, Long Beach, Orlando, West Palm Beach, Scottsdale, Charlotte, South San Francisco, Oakland, Emeryville, San Jose, Walnut Creek, Palo Alto, East Palo Alto, Mountain View, PresidioGo, UCSF, SF State, Golden Gate Park, Mission Bay… Funding mechanisms vary—public, private, public/ private, hi-tech, business, parking taxes, transit grants, advertising… In San Francisco, neighborhood bus loops could connect markets, commercial cores, schools, libraries, major transit corridors/ hubs, transfer nodes….  In North Beach, a free bus loop could connect Market Street to Fisherman’s Wharf (Chinatown, North Beach, Russian Hill).
Low-cost circulator buses are another trend, like in San Antonio, St. Petersburg, Milwaukee, Washington DC’s extensive system….  Another trend is private commuter shuttle services, like Chariot and Potrero Hill’s recent shuttle study.

MOUNTAIN VIEW:  “Free shuttle to connect tech companies and downtown”
The The service will be a consolidation of five separate employer shuttle systems. “Through this consolidation, approximately 12,000 shuttle vehicle miles are saved per year,” said Denise Pinkston, chair of the board operating the system.  The biggest employers and office developers in the city are paying for the service, including Google and LinkedIn, thanks to a requirement placed on new office development by the Mountain View City Council.

MUNI AS A HOSPITALITY INDUSTRY IDEA:  SaveMuni Calls for New Civility in Transit  – Hospitality industries, like hotels, high-end retail and services, are driven by sound management, training and a culture of civility, courtesy and cleanliness.  Such a hospitality-orientation would be relatively low-cost—while increasing rider experiences as well as ridership numbers.

MASS TRANSIT:  Implementing Customer Service Training – masstransitmag


City OKs study on innovative transit line: mv-voice.com – The study is officially investigating what is known as automated-guideway transit (AGT), a broad term that covers various driverless systems that usually move along guideways above the roadways. By their nature, these systems avoid much of the difficult property acquisition that hinders many transportation projects.

CNN:  Sky taxis are about to become a reality: money.cnn – Sick of dealing with the daily traffic congestion on the road? Soon you may not have to.  SkyTran’s sky taxis are making their debut.  The aerial mass transit system features “cars” that magnetically glide 20 to 30 feet above the ground along elevated tracks.  Skytran, based in Mountain View, California, has been developing the system for five years. The pilot project will debut in Tel Aviv at the end of October.

skyTran can replace many other systems. skytran (with video) –  skyTran’s computer-controlled, 2-person vehicles can accommodate much of the world’s commuting population within a smaller footprint and for less than other mass transit systems. Because skyTran is built as an expandable grid, it will never be filled to capacity. As the demand grows, more track can be installed and additional vehicles can be added to the network. The robust state-of the-art skyTran system can easily grow as the needs of the area grow, exponentially and immediately.
Ultra-Light Rail transit is Disruptive Technology: postnewsgroup – In 2008, BART conducted an ultra-light rail study, which determined that the system cost one quarter of the expense of the BART system and half the cost to operate and maintain.
Ultra-light rail operates on solar and generates eight times more energy than it consumes.  Like buses, ultra-light rail can go down wide major boulevards but have a smaller footprint because the trains are elevated.
There are no drivers on these trains – therefore driver unions like BART’s union have issues with the technology.
Ultra-light rail is less intrusive than BART or Bus Rapid Transit (BRT). Though it has a smaller footprint and is less costly to build it, can go more places and more of it can be built. It is not always in some’s best interest to save money.

Bus Project Finds a Way Around China’s Traffic Jams: Gliding Above Them : nytimes – Six years later, Song Youzhou, the designer of the bus, says that prototypes are being constructed.  In an interview this week, he said that five Chinese cities—Nanyang, Qinhuangdao, Shenyang, Tianjin and Zhoukou—have signed contracts with his TEB Technology Development Company for pilot projects that will involve the construction of hundreds of miles of tracks starting this year.  The cost of each bus will run about 30 million renminbi, or about $4.5 million, which Mr. Song put at one-sixteenth the price of a subway train.  Buses were already under construction in Changzhou, Jiangsu Province, he said.

A giant, ‘car-eating’ transformer could ease China’s infamous traffic jams : cnn

China Straddling Bus :
  youtube (with video)