‘Do We Care About the Public?’ Cities Weigh Free Public Transit Amid Rising Costs

nbcbayarea – excerpt

Some officials want to eliminate fares on city buses, light rail and trains

Michelle Wu, a City Council member in Boston, wants everyone to ride for free on subways and buses that crisscross the region, NBC News reports.

Wu says the city is experiencing a “transportation crisis” as ridership declines, rush-hour traffic rises and the infrastructure of the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority continues to crumble.

The transportation authority needs salvation and money for repairs, commuters and local transit advocates say, but instead of raising fares beyond the $2.90 it costs now if you pay for a subway ride in cash, Wu thinks a solution may lie in dropping fares altogether… (more)

A plan many have championed. Drop all the non-muni projects and use that money to “pay” for free rides.

Is it time for San Francisco to start licensing bicycles?

Editorial By Sally Struthers : sfexaminer – excerpt

For decades, car owners have funded large portions of the bill for road construction, maintenance, and repair

Last week, over two miles of Market Street, San Francisco’s iconic main thoroughfare, became car-free. It is now illegal to drive a private car in either direction on Market from, roughly, Van Ness Avenue to the Ferry Building…

For decades, car owners have funded large portions of the bill for road construction, maintenance, and repair through license plate fees and gas taxes. It makes sense ­­— the people who benefit the most from a good road should contribute a large percentage of the money needed to keep it maintained. But, with fewer cars and less gas being bought, there’s also less money from these sources available for roads…

As bicyclists demand more access on city streets — including more car-free streets — maybe it’s time to consider licensing bikes as well as cars…(more)

Preston urges Muni to roll back proposed fare hikes

By Joshua Sabatini : sfexaminer – excerpt

Supervisor Dean Preston introduced a resolution Tuesday to oppose Muni fare hikes in the transit agency’s proposed two-year budget, arguing they would decrease ridership and overly burden riders.

The resolution calls on the Municipal Transportation Agency to “refrain from any Muni increases for the fiscal year 2021-2022 budget cycle.”

“The data on this is absolutely clear across the country. There is a 2018 UC report that hammers the point home that increasing fares decreases ridership,” Preston told the San Francisco Examiner. “We should be doing the opposite. We are in a climate crisis. We need people to be riding public transportation and this is absolutely not the time that we should be imposing a fare increase.”…(more)

Quit worrying about moving the busses faster and make increasing ridership a priority instead. Raising fares and removing seats and stops is not what riders want.

New state bill aims to integrate Bay Area transit into one ‘seamless’ system

By Bay City News Service : mvvoice – excerpt

Assemblyman David Chiu proposes unified fares, transfers and maps for Bay Area’s tangle of mass transit systems…

A newly introduced piece of state legislation seeks to integrate the more than two dozen separate and independent Bay Area transit agencies into one “seamless” system.

Assembly Bill 2057 by Assemblyman David Chiu, D-San Francisco, seeks to eliminate the barriers to ridership created by things like the differences in fare structures between systems, the uncoordinated schedules that can make transferring from one system to another an unreliable exercise in frustration, and the confusing muddle of transit maps that don’t allow passengers to easily plan their trips when using multiple systems… (more)

Cleanup wizard in a messy scandal / DPW aide has faced string of complaints

Grassroots Actions

By Lance Williams, Mark Fainaru-Wada, Chronicle Staff Writers : sfgate – excerpt

He transformed a tiny San Francisco gardening co-op into a national model for urban job-training programs. Then he emerged as City Hall’s point man in a high-profile war on grime and graffiti.

But almost from the day in 2000 when he became an executive in the city Department of Public Works, there were complaints about how Mohammed Nuru, the dynamic protégé of then-Mayor Willie Brown, conducted the public’s business.

Nuru has emerged as a central figure in a City Hall scandal involving alleged voting improprieties in the December runoff election won by Mayor Gavin Newsom. But according to public records and interviews, Nuru has been the subject of repeated complaints about alleged mishandling of taxpayers’ funds.

Some staffers complained that Nuru, paid $150,867 a year, bent civil service rules to replace city workers with…

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SF County Transportation Authority and Parking Authority Commission

Tuesday, January 28, 9 AM – ppt presentation on Workshop.
1455 Market Street, 22nd Floor SFCTA Conference Room
Special SFMTA Board and Parking Authority Commission
Presentations and discussions on future priorities and goals.
“State of San Francisco” Discussion Panel discussion with Sean Elsbernd, John Rahaim, Ben Rosenfield & Jeff Tumlin

Palo Alto: Council adds underpasses to Caltrain track re-design list

By Aldo Toledo : mercurynews – excerpt

Council members urged city staff to narrow down list of alternatives, not expand it.

PALO ALTO — Council members are urging civilians working on proposals for separating Caltrain tracks from busy city streets to narrow down their options as the list of potential projects once again expanded.

City officials plan to spend hundreds of millions of dollars in the next several years to keep Caltrain service from forcing traffic to stop at four city roads: Charleston Road, Meadow Road, Churchill Avenue and Palo Alto Avenue.

On Tuesday council members voted unanimously to include two of the three proposed additions to the grade separation list, including an option to build underpasses at Charleston Road and Meadow Road and a bespoke intersection at Churchill Avenue, which hundreds of Palo Altans signed a petition to close instead…(more)

CA: Lateefah Simon leads BART board on track to social justice

By Rachel Swan : masstransitmag – excerpt

For years, Lateefah Simon was an ordinary transit rider — the unflinching single mom who dropped her daughter off at 7 a.m. each weekday, then scrambled to catch a BART train. Now, she helps set an agenda for the regional rail system.

Jan. 19–For years, Lateefah Simon was an ordinary transit rider — the unflinching single mom who dropped her daughter off at 7 a.m. each weekday, then scrambled to catch a BART train. Now, she helps set an agenda for the regional rail system.

“With all these decisions BART is making, the board needs a legally blind, black, single mother,” said Simon, whose acute nearsightedness prevents her from driving. She was elected president of BART’s Board of Directors in December, signaling a political shift for the transit agency.

Throughout its history, BART offered respite from the problems outside. This year it’s confronting them head on. A more progressive board is pressing for low-income fare discounts, civilian ambassadors to supplement the police force, housing on station parking lots and parking prices that dissuade people from taking their cars. They’re considering far-reaching ideas, like making transit free for everyone — something that 42-year-old Simon hopes to see in her lifetime… (more)