Editorial: Muni’s terrible summer may cost SFMTA head his job

It’s been a terrible summer for San Francisco Muni riders, and Mayor London Breed is losing patience.

In a letter to SFMTA director Ed Reiskin last week, Breed wrote, “I have communicated to the SFMTA Board of Directors that I want to see significant improvements in Muni service, and in fact, in all facets of the SFMTA.”…

The letter felt like a strong hint that Reiskin’s job may be in jeopardy. Replacing him isn’t likely to happen overnight — the SFMTA board is the body that would fire Reiskin. On Tuesday, the board voiced support for Reiskin after he apologized for Muni’s failures.

But Breed fills empty seats on the board, and vacancies could easily allow her to engineer Reiskin’s ouster if improvements don’t happen quickly…

The MTA has said the company failed to disclose those violations — but the MTA should have done its due diligence.
Asked about Muni’s string of woes, SFMTA spokesman Paul Rose said, “We did not correctly anticipate the level of impact on our system and riders at the time.”

Rose added that the agency is trying to find solutions that can be implemented quickly. To combat a long-standing driver shortage, it’s converting some part-time operators to full-time hours and working to certify more than 200 operators by the end of the year.

Those are fine ideas. Unfortunately, they should have been taken before the June tunnel closure. If they’re not implemented rapidly, they may not be enough to satisfy either City Hall or the hundreds of thousands of frustrated riders who rely on Muni every day.

This commentary is from The Chronicle’s editorial board. We invite you to express your views in a letter to the editor. Please submit your letter via our online form: SFChronicle.com/letters.

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‘Eroding the Confidence’: SF Mayor Breed Blasts Muni Officials For Flawed Service

By Sam Brock : nbcbayarea – excerpt (includes video)

Mayor Breed Balsts Muni Officials

One day after San Francisco Mayor London Breed blasted the Muni director in a letter, accusing him of “eroding the confidence” of riders in the system, the mayor took a ride on Muni and continued her criticism.

Breed said Tuesday you can’t push people to use public transportation and then have the transit not work. From widespread delays in service to the recent death of a construction worker, Breed said she’s fed up, and her concerns are echoing through City Hall… (more)

She not only complained about the Director, she blames the entire department and seems to be threatening the SFMTA Board as well for the lack of confidence in Muni. Hopefully she will appoint a strong new Board member to “shake things up”. Send her your suggestions.

 

Reiskin hangs on to his job, avoids firing —for now

By Joe Fitzgerald Rodriguez” : sfexaminer – excerpt

In the first public opportunity for The City’s transportation board to oust or chastise Muni’s embattled head honcho, the board opted instead to show their support.

On Monday Mayor London Breed issued a fiery letter condemning the leadership of Ed Reiskin, the head of the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency, laying a litany of issues at his feet, including a citywide Muni slowdown stranding thousands of riders, and a failure to properly vet the safety record of Shimmick Construction, a contractor repairing the Twin Peaks Tunnel.

Insiders told the San Francisco Examiner this looked like a precursor to ousting Reiskin. But, importantly, Breed can’t fire him.

Instead, that responsibility rests with the SFMTA Board of Directors, who in a closed-door session conducted Reiskin’s annual job performance evaluation Tuesday.

While the results of the evaluation are confidential, the board voiced its support for him at its public meeting Tuesday…(more)

Muni closes two bus yards on weekends during operator shortage, union cries foul

By Joe Fitzgerald Rodriguez : sfexaminer – excerpt

Muni began closing the Kirkland Yard on weekends starting in June, a move that union members allege has exacerbated a shortage of drivers.

The City closed two bus yards this summer amidst a Muni operator shortage, potentially straining already worn-to-the-bone bus drivers.

That’s the allegation of the Transport Workers Union Local 250-A, which represents Muni operators.

And, TWU Local 250-A President Roger Marenco said, that decision likely exacerbated the citywide Muni slowdown… (more)

Complaints are the only way to deal with people who are too “smart” to listen to reason. These people do not know the meaning of customer service and they need to be taught how to deliver it or get out of the public transit business.

Complain to the Mayor and the Supervisors and to Ed Reiskin and John Haley. It is their job to run the buses if they want people to take them. And send your comments to the newspapers. They are all covering the traffic and Muni meltdowns.

RELATED:

Transit woes? Escalator at brand-new Transbay Center already out-of-service

By Michelle Robertson : sfgate – excerpt

If you’re in a public transit station and all the escalators are functioning, you’re probably not in the Bay Area… (more)

 

The Future of Livable Cities: Shared, Coordinated, Multi-Modal Services

masstransitmag – excerpt

Transit operators throughout the world are rolling out autonomous shuttle services, and in the process are developing solutions that can serve as playbooks for other agencies. Use cases for autonomous shuttles include extending service areas and offering multi-modal “last-mile” services from transit hubs to homes and offices.

Transport Pubics Fribourgeois (TPF), the public transport operator for the region of Fribourg in Switzerland, launched an autonomous shuttle service connecting the city’s public transit system with the Marly Innovation Center, a near 100-acre campus for technology companies that is about two miles from the nearest public transit station… (more)

How does California really spend your gas tax dollars? See for yourself.

By Ben Christopher : calmatters – excerpt (includes interactive graphics)

https://www.wikibudgets.org/p/gvbll0rq1

The political battle over Proposition 6 boils down to a simple question: Where do all those gasoline taxes and car fees you pay actually go?

We tried to answer that question here. Believe it or not, this is the simple version...(more)

Is the Republican story about repealing the gas tax hike too good to be true?

By Ben Christopher : calmatters – excerpt (includes graphics)

California Republicans say that drivers can have smoother roads, more reliable public transit—and lower taxes.

In November, voters will get the chance to repeal a recent increase in the state gas tax and assorted vehicle fees. That tax hike—an extra 12 cents per gallon of gasoline, 20 cents per gallon of diesel, and two new vehicle registration fees—was signed into state law last year, part of a Democratic-led transportation package that directs an extra $5 billion per year toward the state’s dilapidated roads and highways. Making voters pay more at the pump is a tough political sell, but Democrats and other defenders of the law argue that our infrastructure is long overdue for an upgrade. The gas tax hasn’t been increased in over 20 years while the cost of highway construction has tripled. And, they say, you can’t get something for nothing.

Not so, say supporters of the repeal, Proposition 6. Chief among them is John Cox, the Republican running to be California’s next governor… (more)

RELATED:
How California Really Spends Gas Tax Dollars

BART Is Planning a System-Wide Surveillance Network

By Darwin BondGraham : eastbayexpress – excerpt

The technology will use ‘video analytics’ to pinpoint crime and alert cops.

Following several high-profile crimes in recent weeks, including the horrific killing of Nia Wilson, the Bay Area Rapid Transit district is under intense pressure to ensure passenger safety.

In response, BART officials have revealed preexisting plans to build out a massive surveillance system that would closely monitor all of the district’s stations, trains, and other property…

BART records show that a test project of the PSIM is already “in process” at the Lake Merritt Station. Lake Merritt was chosen due to its proximity to BART’s existing data center and police station.

The test project at Lake Merritt doesn’t require approval by the BART board, but an expansion of the surveillance system throughout the rest of BART’s stations would require board hearings and a vote, according to BART records…

BART has long sought to use technologies to secure its trains and stations, but this hasn’t necessarily made the system safer, and many worry about the loss of privacy and civil liberties, or fear surveillance tools could be used in harmful ways…

In 2014, BART started urging passengers to download and use a security reporting app, but many passengers used the cell phone app to report Black people and homeless people.

Two years ago, BART quietly installed automated license plate reader cameras at its stations, and according to records obtained by the researcher Mike Katz-Lacabe, the cameras have been sending license plate data to the Northern California Regional Intelligence Center since January 2017. Federal immigration agents have access to NCRIC data… (more)

If you have a problem with any of this, let the BART Board know. Some of the Board members are up for re-election in November. You may also want to comment at the the source.

“Transit Latest Trends”

By Howard Wong

Salesforce Transit Center:  Grand Opening Block Party, Saturday, August 11, 2018, 12pm-4pm, Mission Street (Beale & Second Street)—FREE

Downtown Caltrain Extension (DTX) Needs Acceleration:   Now, the long-promised Downtown Caltrain Extension (DTX) needs fast-tracked design and construction.  Without DTX, the shiny new Transit Center will lose its luster without 33,000 daily rail riders, generating commercial, operating and maintenance dollars.  We need 100% commitment to DTX. 

Citywide Transit Transformation:   Traffic congestion, air pollution, neighborhood revitalization and neglected transit needs, particularly in western/ southern San Francisco, must be addressed with sound decision-making..

FUTURISM:  Attached “Transit Latest Trends”,  Regards, Howard Wong, AIA

Muni meltdown 2018: Our transit service failed to plan – and, thereby, planned to fail

By Joe Eskenazi : missionlocal – excerpt

Muni is finding creative new ways to blow up the system…Documents obtained by Mission Local reveal shunting buses off their runs to serve as shuttles during the Twin Peaks tunnel closure has resulted in service cuts of up to 33 percent on San Francisco’s most crowded lines.

In the age of social media, riding on public transit isn’t what brings us together anymore in San Francisco. Rather, it’s complaining about riding on public transit that unites us all…

The current de facto cutbacks dwarf the 10 percent reductions that former Muni boss Nat Ford imposed nearly a decade ago. That was a scandal and an admission of failure but — and this is the important thing — he told everyone he was doing it. These Muni cuts have come in stealth…

But that’s just Issue No. 1: Even within City Hall, the scheduled two-month closure of one of Muni’s major transit arteries came as an unpleasant surprise; for all too many riders (and government officials) the first, last, and only news they got was this June 23 Chronicle article two days before the fact

There is, after all these  years, something of a feeling of Stockholm Syndrome among longtime advocates of Muni — and not just because a ride across town feels lengthy enough that you could get to Stockholm. In San Francisco, unlike other locales, public transit isn’t supposed to just be a ride of last resort for people who’d be in cars if they could afford them. But that feels less and less true with each passing year, as venture capital-subsidized transit services aim to cannibalize a public transit agency increasingly defined by its shambolic conditions

Twenty years ago, Mayor Frank Jordan was accused of allowing Muni to deteriorate prior to an attempted privatization move. In 2018, however, there’s an app for that

The city has never needed Muni more, but the system has never made itself less palatable — or available. Our calls to Mayor London Breed and her office have not yet been returned. But our City Hall sources tell us she’s angry — as she should be. Her appointee, District 5 Supervisor Vallie Brown, has called for an investigation. It remains to be seen what that investigation will turn up and what our new mayor will do.

But hopefully, unlike Muni, we hope she moves quickly…(more)

Amen to that. Let’s hope Mayor Breed moves quickly to BLOW UP THE SFMTA!. She owes them nothing. She owes the public an efficient transportation system that works now. She needs to fire the planners and overhaul the SFMTA from the top down to fix the system and regain the pubic trust in the system.

Or just allow them to sell the pubic streets to the carpet bagging corporate entities who admit to be in a power play for control of our streets and our transportation system. It is high time to give the voters a chance to decide how we want to live. Let’s hope our mayors and local officials put something substantial on the ballot soon. We are tired and fed up and losing interest in funding the next boondoggle scheme.