Roberta Boomer: A warm farewell to the ‘heart and soul’ of the SFMTA

By Jerold China : sfbayca – excerpt

Roberta Boomer had seen and been through it all in her more than 20 years as board secretary at the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency Board of Directors. Whether she was leading countless marathon meetings, fielding public complaints, drafting legislation or easing the transition for new directors, Boomer kept the wheels turning from the time the agency was formed in 1999…(more)

How Biden administration could upend Prop. 22 and make Uber, Lyft drivers employees

By Bob Egelko :sfchronicle – excerpt

Californians voted decisively this month, by more than 58%, to classify drivers for companies like Uber and Lyft as contractors rather than employees after the companies spent a record $200 million on Proposition 22. But the federal government may have the last word on the issue.

Labor officials in the incoming Biden administration could propose rules that would overturn key provisions of Prop. 22, entitling the drivers to minimum wages, worker benefits and union representation. And if Democrats, who already control the House, capture the Senate by winning two Georgia runoff elections in January, they may be able to enact legislation that would strike down the entire ballot measure, and any similar laws in other states…(more)

SFMTA Reveals Blunder In Twin Peaks Tunnel That Will Cost ‘Tens of Millions of Dollars’

by Jay Barmann : sfist – excerpt

The SFMTA brass got a talking-to from the Board of Supervisors this week about their inability to complete big projects on time and on budget — and the scolding came after the revelation that the Twin Peaks Tunnel improvement project that was completed last year actually involved a shortcut that now will need to be fixed at great expense.

The shortcut involved the reuse of old ballast rock — a type of large gravel typically used beneath train tracks both to stabilize them and provide drainage — when the project had originally called for the rock to be replaced. As the Examiner reports following a Tuesday meeting of the County Transportation Authority board on which all 11 of the San Francisco supervisors sit…

Kirschbaum said the old ballast rock was now causing potential problems for the tracks, and replacing it will now cost “tens of millions of dollars.”…

But, as the Examiner reports, multiple supervisors excoriated Tumlin and the other officials present given the parade of failures with big projects in recent years — not the least of which is the long-delayed and over-budget Central Subway, and the ridiculous Van Ness BRT boondoggle.

Just last week we learned of yet another delay in the Central Subway project that pushes its public opening into 2022.

“You’re out of excuses,” said Supervisor Aaron Peskin, adding, “the merry go-round has got to stop.”…(more)

The only way to “stop that merry-go-round” of failed projects is to admit that the current system has failed and needs to be replaced. The voters approved splitting up one large overgrown department. Now its is time to split this one.
This articles covers three of the largest ongoing boondoggles: Van Ness BRT, Central Subway and the Twin Tunnels projects. There are a lot more. Like everything else that goes on in San Francisco, it is up to the voters to demand change. That starts with letters and phone call and public comments.

Bay Area advocates push transit leaders to delay projects to save jobs during financial crisis

By Mallory Moench : sfchronicle – excerpt

More than four dozen advocacy groups are calling on the Bay Area’s head transportation agency to delay capital projects and use the money to instead save jobs and service during the pandemic’s economic crisis.

The Voices for Public Transportation Coalition sent a letter to the Metropolitan Transportation Commission’s Chairman Scott Haggerty Wednesday calling on the agency, which funnels funds to operators, to put at least $100 million in capital projects toward operating expenses. Coalition members planned to push their position during public comment at the MTC board’s meeting Friday…(more)

Given the recent upsets and disasters over the tunnel projects nothing could be more obvious than the SFMTA needs to stop throwing money into capital projects and switch their funding priorities to maintaining the surface buses and supporting their operators. That goes for all capital projects including the new housing projects. Until the Muni is functioning the MTA should be kept on a strict capital diet. If the city can’t figure out how to get around the state laws regulating capital spending, they should instruct their lobbyist to work on some changes in Sacramento. We know there is no law that cannot be changed or ignored. Perhaps the establishment of a public bank might help facilitate some new funding options.

Golden Gate Bridge Transit District approves mass layoffs in response to COVID-19 budget disaster

By Carly Graf : sfexminer – excerpt

Emotional meeting still leaves 150 employees out of work come January

Nearly 150 employees that help run ferries and buses between the North Bay and San Francisco will soon be out of work, despite desperate pleas from unions and their members to preserve their jobs.

The Golden Gate Bridge, Highway and Transit District Board of Directors voted Friday to eliminate a total of 205 positions — 146 of which are staffed by full-time employees and 59 of which are vacant — in order to keep the agency afloat as the coronavirus pandemic persists with no end in sight…

Perhaps most devastating to the District’s financial picture is that bridge traffic continues to hover at 70 percent of pre-pandemic levels. Tolls provide the largest single source of revenue to fund operation and maintenance of the Golden Gate Bridge as well as the transit services.… (more)