With BART, bridges and highways jammed, ferries’ popularity swells in Bay Area

By Rachel Swan : sfchronicle – excerpt

As recently as 10 years ago, ferries were still a novelty in the region — old-fashioned, diesel-belching beasts that drew tourists, but didn’t serve many weekday commuters. That’s all changed as BART chokes with standing-room crowds and more people seek alternatives to perpetually snarled freeways. The Bay Area is now the third biggest market for ferries in the country behind Seattle and New York City. It seems the future of mass transit includes more of the ambling boats of the past…

“For five years, we’ve had year-over-year growth, and now we’re maxed out,” said Priya Clemens, spokeswoman for the Golden Gate Bridge Highway and Transportation District, which oversees the Larkspur ferry…

The downside is crowding, which creates a quandary for Golden Gate Ferry, the boat-operating arm of the bridge district.

Next year, Golden Gate may increase the number of daily trips out of Larkspur, which now stands at 42. The proposed service boost may become more urgent next year because it coincides with a planned extension of the North Bay SMART train to a new stop in Larkspur. Once that stop opens, it will likely send more commuters flocking to the Larkspur ferry… (more)

 

Legal battle over new Bay Area bridge toll hikes could stall region’s transit projects

By Kevin Fixler : pressdemocrat – excerpt

Commuters will pay an extra $1 to cross the Bay Area’s seven state-owned bridges come Jan. 1, as part of a voter-approved measure to raise money for major transit upgrades. But the improvements could be delayed after state and transportation officials were hit with an unanticipated legal roadblock, preventing release of hundreds of millions of dollars for cash-strapped road projects, including a North Bay Highway 101 widening.

The Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association, a statewide taxpayers’ rights advocacy group, filed a lawsuit in July against the California Legislature and the Bay Area Toll Authority, arguing the ballot measure allowing $3 in bridge toll hikes over the next six years constitutes a tax rather than a fee. Therefore, the group contends, Regional Measure 3 should have met the state requirement of two-thirds majority for approval, instead of the 55 percent support it received from voters across the Bay Area’s nine counties.

The legal complaint, filed in San Francisco Superior Court, was amended in October, and a date has yet to be set for the case… (more)

SF transportation agency gives private buses illegal access to transit-only lanes

By Sue Vaughan : 48hills – excerpt

The Google buses shouldn’t be in the red lanes, for a long list of reasons. Why is SF letting that happen?

The San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency is getting the rules of the road all wrong and the agency needs to fix its mistakes.

In recent years that agency — the SFMTA — has been creating more and more transit-only lanes. Some of these lanes are painted red, but not all of them are. The agency has consistently, in email after email and presentation after presentation, marketed these lanes to the public as a means to speed up Muni.

However, it appears that on March 28, 2014, two months after the seven unelected members of the SFMTA Board of Directors passed legislation to create the controversial Commuter Shuttle Pilot Program and Policy, permitting private tech shuttles (“Google” buses) to use public bus stops, the directors started passing legislation permitting “buses” access to transit-only lanes

State law defines “bus” and “transit bus” differently. A “bus” is a vehicle that carries more than 10 people, including the driver. A “transit bus” is a vehicle that is owned or operated by or on behalf of a publicly owned transit system to provide general public transit.

So while a transit bus fits the definition of a bus, not all buses fit the definition of a transit bus…

At the local level, the 11 elected members of the San Francisco Board of Supervisors have codified the distinction between transit vehicles and everything else – emphasizing that lack of ambiguity. In 2008, the supervisors passed Section 7.2.72 of the San Francisco Transportation Code making it an infraction for non-transit vehicles to operate in transit-only lanes. In that section of the code, the Board of Supervisors were explicit: transit-only lanes are for public transit-only vehicles. The seven unelected members of the San Francisco Board of Directors have no legal power to preempt the 11 elected members of the San Francisco Board of Supervisors…

at a December 3 hearing sponsored by Supervisor Sandra Fewer, staff from the SFMTA admitted that they were essentially clueless about the potential impact of allowing unlimited numbers of private buses to compete with Muni’s 800-plus vehicles in transit-only lanes… (more)

 

 

 

’Tis the Season to Share the Ride

mtc – excerpt

MTC and its Bay Area partners have launched several new Bay Area promotions to encourage Bay Area travelers to share the ride. “It’s the season for sharing, so share a ride and be rewarded in more ways than one,” said Barbara Laurenson, manager of MTC’s carpool program.

MTC’s recently established Bay Area Vanpool Program is offering direct subsidies to new and existing vanpools, thanks to an infusion of over $9.5 million approved by MTC  in July of 2018 for the next five years. “Vanpooling is a good option for commuters traveling 40 miles or more each way and who have pretty regular schedules,” said Lloyd Nadal, program manager for Solano County, where many of the region’s vanpools originate. Qualifying vanpools that rent their vehicles through Enterprise (the preferred vendor for the Vanpool Program) can now reduce the cost of their monthly van rates by $350, courtesy of MTC. Vanpool groups can apply for subsidies at Commute With Enterprise. Vanpoolers can pay for their remaining vanpool costs with pretax dollars, further reducing the cost of their shared commute… (more)

Why are carpools and car shares so unpopular? For years government has been trying to entice people into carpool lanes and car shares, but, for some reason, not many people bite, even when it means driving in crowded slower lanes, and paying higher tolls to drive solo.

Financial incentives haven’t made much difference either. One of the local TV news teams set up competition to see who got some faster using various means of transportation, and the slowest commute was the attempt to pick up a ride at a casual car share station. Nobody stopped to pick anyone up.

There has to be a reason that is eluding the transit professionals. Could it be a general distrust of strangers? Could it be that fear is the motivating factor that keeps people in their cars? Is the need to feel in control of one’s own destiny is more important than saving time and money? Is putting oneself in the hands of an unreliable system that breaks down daily too much to ask?

BART Warns Commuters About 3-Year Cuts To Early Morning Service

By Holly Quan : kcbsradio – excerpt (in cludes audio)

OAKLAND — Early morning commuters are getting an early warning from BART that starting in February the first trains won’t start rolling until 5 a.m., an hour later than now.

The schedule change will affect commuters for the next three and a half years as the transit agency conducts seismic retrofitting of the Transbay Tube.

Roughly 3,000 riders regularly use BART during the hour of service that’s poised to be eliminated… (more)

One of the best reasons to not vote for any more transit bonds is to avoid these cutbacks. The more money they get the worse the service is.

Career Briefs: Sonali Bose, San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency’

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• Sonali Bose, San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency’s director of finance and information technology, has retired. During her tenure, she raised the SFMTA’s credit rating to be the highest of any transit agency in the country. She oversaw a new parking program that adjusts rates at meters and garages to match demand. She helped fund the biggest increase in Muni bus and rail service that San Francisco has ever seen and increased the revenue from the agency’s advertising contracts from $400,000 to $30 million. Bose helped beef up Muni service by 10 percent, replaced the buses and light-rail vehicles, boosted the workforce from 4,000 to 6,000 employees and doubled the budget… (more)

Transit Mixed reviews for Muni’s plan to get on track

By : sfexaminer – excerpt

The summer’s Muni meltdown has cooled off, but bus service still hasn’t met The City’s on-time targets, data released Friday shows.

The City’s transportation agency is still struggling to hire enough drivers to operate Muni bus service, but has managed to resolve its self-described “pipeline problem” bringing existing train operators up to speed on its new light rail vehicles, transportation officials said Friday.

As first revealed by a San Francisco Examiner investigation in July, a confluence of circumstances resulted in a shortage of bus drivers, leading to a city-wide service slowdown. Just as more drivers were needed to operate additional buses to compensate for the Twin Peaks tunnel closure, Muni’s training division was tasked with bringing existing train operators up to speed on newly-purchased and badly-needed light rail vehicles… (more)