California reports show that robot cars love their drivers: Robot cars on average required a human takeover every 14 miles driven, says Consumer Watchdog

consumer watchdog : prnewswire – excerpt

LOS ANGELES, Feb. 14, 2019 /PRNewswire/ — Updated reports required by the California Department of Motor Vehicles from companies testing robot cars on California public roads reveal a fleetwide average of 1 human takeover for every 14 miles tested, according to calculations by Consumer Watchdog. The number of times a human driver had to take control of the robot car during testing varied widely between companies.  Overall 28 companies including Uber, Apple, Toyota, Waymo (Google) and GM Cruise logged 2.04 million miles in testing and reported over 145,402 disengagements.

“These reports show that robot cars aren’t close to being ready for public deployment,” said Adam Scow, Senior Advocate for Consumer Watchdog. “While some companies are improving, others are sputtering out in the parking lot.”… (more)


Siemens Light Rail Trains Seating

Wednesday, March 20, 3:30 PM – contact SFMTA CAC
Noe Valley Room 7th Floor 1 S Van Ness MTA Headquarters
– agenda
Siemens Light Rail Trains Seating
will be a discussion topic at the MTA Citizens’ Advisory Council Finance and Administration Committee meeting
Seating is a major issue for many:
* Seats too high for individuals with short legs.
* Seats are hard on hip bone contact
* Flat seats and sliding  – seats not contoured for stability
* Back and forth train movement with no back support is difficult on the spine.
* Incline travel (Dolores Park for example) is hard on the spine
* Middle person has to reach across to push the stop button, no pull cord available
* Seating is awkward / confining  for the “middle” person


Several years ago the  MTA internet survey resulted in about a 55%-45% approval of the current configuration. At some meetings this has been interpreted as overwhelming support. This current seating configuration allows more passenger capacity.  However, the fleet will grow from 151  to  about 220 or so.

As disclosed at the MTA office site Board meeting, Muni will conduct an “intercept” survey asking patrons their opinion of the seat configuration.

When the topic arises in personal conversation, no one has approved of the new seat configuration.

Bottom line,  you have to show up as numbers count if your are dissatisfied with the current seat configuration.  As with any major equipment procurement, change orders for a price are in line.  With only about 70 light rail vehicles delivered, now is the time to initiate a change order to the contract.   This decision will be with us for the next 30 years until the next generation of light rail vehicles is purchased. If you can’t get there in person, send letters and comments to your supervisor, Ed Reiskin and the SFMTA CAC expressing your feelings regarding these seats.
Contact: San Francisco City Mayor, and Supervisors, and SFMTA

Elon Musk’s Boring Company in talks for airport tunnel project in Silicon Valley

By Simon Alvarez : teslarati – excerpt

The Boring Company, Elon Musk’s tunneling startup, might have another tunnel project on its hands. In a statement earlier this week, San Jose Mayor Sam Liccardo stated that he has been in talks with The Boring Co. over the last 18 months to discuss the possibility of building a tunnel linking Diridon Station and the Mineta San Jose International Airport — a distance of about 4 miles.

Addressing reporters at City Hall, the San Jose, CA mayor noted that the tunnel project could give Diridon Station a chance to “grow with the city,” particularly as Google is expected to construct a campus near Diridon in the future, which would likely bring thousands of people to the area. Apart from this, Diridon Station, the city’s main transit hub, is expected to undergo an overhaul in the future, with the Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) line set to extend downtown to the station itself.

Around five years ago, cost estimates for the construction of a conventional rail link connecting the Mineta San Jose International Airport to Diridon were listed at a hefty $800 million. Liccardo noted that tunnels, particularly those constructed by The Boring Company, could cost just a fraction of the $800 million estimate. That said, the mayor clarified that the project, provided that it does happen, would not be locked with the Boring Co…(more)


Muni forced to cut funding for accelerated train purchase in favor of solar power, merchant bailout fund

By Joe Fitzgerald Rodriguez : sfexaminer – excerpt

While city leaders play tug-of-war over $181 million in windfall tax dollars, one city department slated to net some of that money is already feeling rope burn:


The San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency is set to receive $38 million in windfall dollars from the Educational Revenue Augmentation Fund, a legally protected “set-aside” that cannot be used for other city departments.

Though that money can not be taken away, exactly how it will be spent is another story. The SFMTA wanted to use all $38 million to speed up the purchase of 150 new trains to speed up Muni Metro service.

But now roughly $18 million of that funding for new trains will be used for other purchases, as part of larger negotiations between the Board of Supervisors and The Mayor’s Office.

The SFMTA Board of Directors were largely furious when they heard the news, during their regular board meeting on Tuesday… (more)

Solano supervisors reaffirm Spering appointment to MTC

By Todd R. Hansen : dailyrepublic – excerpt

FAIRFIELD — Supervisor Jim Spering will return as Solano County’s representative to the Metropolitan Transportation Commission on Feb. 10.

The board, on a 4-1 vote Tuesday with Supervisor Monica Brown dissenting, not only reaffirmed its earlier appointment, but spoke glowingly of Spering’s experience and expertise and how that has benefitted Solano County…

“We need to look broader than our county and improve the Bay Area,” Thomson said.

But it is the very nature of regional government that many opponents of Spering – and MTC in general – point at for the reason to change who represents the county….

George Guynn, a frequent critic of the board and regional government, argued again that Solano County needs a representative on MTC who reflects the opinions of the residents….

“It’s not a selection process, it’s a backroom deal,” Guynn said.

The board had already appointed Spering to the post, but took the second action because the mayor committee had failed to submit three nominee names. Fairfield Mayor Harry Price and Vallejo Mayor Bob Sampayan were added to the list, but that action was widely viewed as administrative.

Neither Price or Sampayan attended the board meeting… (more)

Cars still hold No. 1 spot for getting around in SF — and it’s getting worse

By Phil Matier : sfchronicle – excerpt

Despite millions of dollars spent on new bike lanes and other transit improvements, people still favor cars when it comes to commuting in and around San Francisco, a new report by the city’s Municipal Transportation Agency concludes.

“We can change the roads, but human behavior hasn’t changed since William Shakespeare started writing about it,” quipped SFMTA board member Art Torres.

And people like cars, whether it’s their own or a hire…

Commuting by bike, which surged by 140 percent between 2005 and 2015, has dropped in recent years… (more)

It is very heard to force people to do things they don’t want to do. Is changing public behavior the proper role for public servants in Democratic society?

Mobility report shows bike trips on the decline in SF

By Joe Fitzgerald Rodriguez : sfexaminer – excerpt

San Franciscans may be spurning two-wheeled trips.

Nearly 20,000 fewer daily bicycle trips were taken in 2017 compared to 2016, data revealed Monday by The City’s newest “Mobility Trends” report shows.

The dwindling bike numbers look even worse when compared to The City’s record-setting year for bike trips, 2015, which reached a height of 126,000 average bicycle trips per day.

By 2016 those average daily trips dropped to 115,000, then down to 95,000 by 2017…

While solo bike trips in The City continue to fall, more people are hopping into cars and causing record-level traffic congestion, according to the mobility report. Muni ridership remains relatively stable…(more)

Valencia bike shop claims their business in on decline. We suggest a talk with the merchants on Valencia and other bike-friendly streets to see which industries are thriving and which are wilting under the combined weight of bike lanes and TNCs.



Self-Driving Vehicles Are Going to Make Traffic Even More Miserable, Says New Study

By Taylor Donovan Barnett : interestingengineering – excerpt

Whether you like it or not, self-driving cars will be hitting the road in full-force in the coming years. Thanks to new technology developed by companies like Tesla and even Uber, autonomous vehicles will become a staple of modern culture, with nearly 10 million self-driving cars expected to hit the road by 2020.

Yet, not all is well across the autonomous landscape. Like any new technology, there have literally been speed bumps in the world of self-driving cars. From accidents to malfunctioning AI, self-driving vehicles are still very much in their infancy.

However, new research in the world of autonomous vehicles has uncovered another potential issue down the line, parking. Anyone living in a metropolitan area will tell you that parking is always a long-winded adventure. According to a new study, autonomous vehicles could create a problematic parking issue…

The Autonomous Vehicle Parking Problem

Professor Millard breaks down his concerns further in his published paper, “The Autonomous Vehicle problem.” In his paper, he estimates that just the presence of the relatively small amount of 2,000 self-driving vehicles in the San Francisco area will slow traffic to less than 2 miles per hour(more)

Want to work on a job that is threatened by this new tech future plan? Do not want to live in the slow lane? Maybe take this up with your state public utility regulation agency, your state reps and your local government officials now. Insist on a pubic conversation about this new technology.

Romance of the Rails

Featuring Randal O’Toole and Caleb O. Brown : cato – excerpt

Randal O’Toole claims streetcars were taken out by a city bus manufacturer, not GM as legend has it.

Listen to the podcast featuring Randal O’Toole and Caleb O. Brown In Romance of the Rails, author Randal O’Toole details the rise and fall of trains as a mode of transportation why it’s quite likely we can never go back to it. (Or download:mp3)

“The problem is politicians like to fund new transportation but they don’t like to fund maintenance.”

Los Angeles Is Now Offering Car Rides to Metro Stations

By Aarian Marshall : wired – excerpt

Public transit agencies are not known for their flashy, up-to-date technology. In many cities, you’re lucky if your diesel bus shows up on time. But this week, the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority is trying something new.

Starting today, riders who live near three Metro stations will be able to download an app, tap a few times, and have a car show up at their door—or at least within a few blocks—and take them to that station. The service, provided by ride-hail company Via, will cost riders with the system’s TAP cards $1.75, though it will be free for those who already use Metro’s low-income subsidy programs. Riders will share their car trips with between two and five others, but the agency says they shouldn’t have to wait longer than 10 minutes for a pick-up.

If LA has its way, the one-year experiment with on-demand service will solve the devious first-mile, last-mile problem, connecting those who live just a touch too far away from stations to get there. The idea is to make it easier for a whole new group of people to use mass transit. “We’ve created an additional layer of public transportation,” says Chris Snyder, Via’s head of global expansion. “It’s complementary.”… (more)

This sounds like a jitney service similar to the one San Francisco just nixed. This also looks like a last gasp effort to an “anything but” solution that is picking winners among the corporate choices, but, I suppose any service can offer a cheap alternative, including neighbors with their own cars. Hope it works for the public who needs it.