Supervisors, advocates make ‘demands’ of transit officials in heated debate over Muni service future

By Jerrold Chinn : sfbayca – excerpt

San Francisco Muni passengers and city supervisors voiced concerns Friday that transit officials have yet to provide a date when service will be fully restored, leaving some to speculate that many routes could be on the chopping block…

Supervisors expressed concern about the hiring of the transportation consultant and the role Walker will play in helping the agency craft a restoration plan. Preston pointed to past posts on Walker’s website that were focused on service eliminations, as well as a recent guest blog (“What’s the Best Way to Restore Muni Service?”) published on the SFMTA website

Supervisors were also worried about “draft” documents and excel spreadsheets obtained by transit advocates and sent to the supervisors and posted on social media. The documents were obtained through public records requests…

Muni passengers displeased with how transit officials responded to some of the supervisors’ questions…

“If SFMTA wants to build back our trust, they need to meet those demands.” – rider said…(more)

CA: Will S.F. Muni ever be able to reach 100% of pre-pandemic service?

By Ricardo Cano : mastransit – excerpt

In response to community activism, the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency will bring back a reduced 31 line in mid-August as part of its final service restorations of the year.

Jul. 21—Julia Bauer waited for daylight on a recent Friday morning before leaving her apartment in San Francisco’s Tenderloin neighborhood, stealthily clutching pepper spray in her pocket as she walked the three blocks past a maze of drug dealers to the closest Muni bus stop…

In response to community activism, the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency will bring back a reduced 31 line in mid-August as part of its final service restorations of the year. The August restorations will include the return of M-Ocean View rail service and extended night service on 16 routes.

But nearly a year and a half after Muni’s historic service reductions, the agency’s leaders have not said when the SFMTA will reverse the cuts or whether it even plans to bring back the same routes and services that were in place before the pandemic…

SFMTA Director Jeffrey Tumlin said that the pandemic exacerbated longstanding financial and personnel challenges for the agency, making service restorations more difficult to sustain without a new permanent source of revenue… (more)

Archaic rules about financing are hitting transit systems as well as others when it come to funding operations and services. Depending on growth and higher taxes fines and fees will not work much longer in a stalled economy and that is what we will have if government authorities don’t figure it out soon.

SaveMUNI meets on Monday July 19 at 5:30 on Zoom

Greetings – SaveMUNI meets on Monday July 19 at 5:30 on Zoom (see below)

This month our guest is SFMTA Director Jeffrey Tumlin. He will only be with us for half an hour so, with such a short time available, we will not be able to take questions from the floor.

However SaveMUNI will discuss Director Tumlin’s responses and may take action pertaining to any of the items raised in the Q&A session afterwards.

Please pass this invitation along to your social networks and on your Next Door.
See you on Monday.
Bob Ferinbaum
President, SaveMUNI

Meeting Links:
Via Computer: https://us02web.zoom.us/j/6377599629?pwd=WTlWS1RjcWpoc3VERVhWNkozZkNtUT09

One tap mobile +12133388477,,6377599629#,,,,,,0#,,1234#

By Phone: +1 213 338 8477
Meeting ID: 637 7599629
Passcode: 1234

Will bullet train survive budget wrangle?

By Dan Walters : calmatters – excerpt

In summary: California’s budgetary package is slowly dribbling out of the Capitol but one big issue, the fate of the state’s bullet train project, is still up in the air…

Using a singular noun “budget” no longer describes the tortuous process by which the governor and state legislators decide how to spend the state’s money.

We now have “budgets” almost too numerous to list – a budget proposed by the governor in January, a “May revise” that’s virtually an entirely new proposal, and a bare bones budget that the Legislature passes by June 15 to meet a constitutional deadline, followed by numerous “budget bill juniors” and “trailer bills.”

Even after all of those overlapping and confusing actions are taken, it’s not uncommon for further revisions to be enacted for many months thereafter, some even retroactively changing budgets from previous years.

On Monday, Gov. Gavin Newsom signed what he described as “legislation that reflects the majority of the 2021-22 state budget agreement.”…

Any significant diversion of the bond funds could be a death sentence for the bullet train, which is years behind schedule and billions of dollars over cost projections with no end in sight. It would be a merciful death…(more)

Nothing to see here other than competition for funds for two over budget behind schedule projects that primarily benefit the Bay Area being challenged by the rest of the state. At a time when existing transit systems are struggling to survive, some Sacramento politicians are in favor of keeping local systems afloat rather than pouring cash into the struggling future mega projects. We may see a hands off approach by the governor on this one as he balances his future on the need for broader state-wide support to win the recall fight.

It’s County vs. County in Caltrain ‘Power Struggle’

By Benjamin Schneider : sfweekly – excerpt

As the rail agency rethinks its governance structure, San Mateo County insists on being repaid for its long-held debts.

Government meetings are supposed to be orderly, predictable, and, for normal people, boring.

A recent meeting of the Caltrain Joint Powers Authority Board was anything but.

As the transit agency continues to study potential reforms to its governance structure, board members from San Mateo County are putting their foot down and demanding San Francisco and Santa Clara counties pay back decades-old debts. The issue came to a head at a special meeting June 25, where the board was meant to discuss governance. Instead, representatives from Santa Clara County informed the board they could not participate for fear of potential litigation by San Mateo County, and San Francisco’s representatives abruptly logged off, preventing the planned business of the meeting from going forward. For transit activists, it was déjà vu all over again, recalling the nail-biter effort to get Caltrain’s permanent funding measure, RR, on the ballot last year…(more)

Finding Common Ground

By Supervisor Mar : sfrichmondreview – excerpt

As we emerge from the pandemic, we’re stepping into a neighborhood, City and world that look different. The pandemic has revealed and exacerbated long-standing inequities, forced us all to adapt to survive, and perhaps forever shifted our understanding of what’s essential, what’s possible, and how deeply our health and wellness are connected to our neighbors.

And some changes, like the temporary transformation of the Upper Great Highway, have been deeply divisive. As the end of the pandemic grows nearer, we as a City must shift our work from these temporary, reactive measures to proactive ones. Over the next few months, the SFMTA and Recreation and Parks Department will be preparing a proposal or proposals for the next phase of the Great Highway. I believe there’s room for compromise and we can all find common ground on a debate that has deeply divided our neighborhood. Alongside Supervisors Connie Chan and Myrna Melgar, I am pushing City departments for a transparent, inclusive, and equitable public process in designing and deciding the next phase of this street.

The vision of a waterfront promenade and a managed retreat from the coastline is the future, but we live in the present. While I believe it’s possible to make the changes necessary to our street network to properly manage traffic flow with the Great Highway fully closed, this work would take years, and it’s unreasonable to continue a full closure beyond the emergency period without taking the long-term steps – including real investments in westside transit service, adding signal lights along Lincoln Way west of Sunset Boulevard, and redesigning the intersection at Sloat and Skyline boulevards – needed to make it successful.…(more)

SFMTA received $1 billion in federal stimulus: Why are some buses and trains not running?

By Carly Graf : sfexainer – excerpt

…So, where is all the money? And what’s it being spent on, if not restoring service in its entirety?…

The San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency’s short answer: it’s being spread out slowly to maintain much of, but not all, of Muni service until the SFMTA can ask voters to pass a ballot measure in 2022 that would give it more stable funding. It says doing so will help the agency avoid otherwise severe financial and workforce cuts in the future.

Critics counter that this approach could only exacerbate Muni’s decline and threatens to undermine The City’s public transportation system for the long haul…

Additionally, years of hiring and retention issues coupled with a pandemic freeze on all but mission critical jobs have created a stubborn shortage in all types of agency roles, according to SFMTA officials. They have repeatedly said they’re accelerating their recruitment and training efforts, but until they have positions filled, they cannot return to full service levels.

“We’re not buying that,” says Roger Marenco, who leads Local Transport Workers Union 250A, the union that represents many Muni operators. “Our operators are ready, willing and able to go back to work at pre-pandemic service levels and to re-establish Muni for what it once was — a good public transportation service for the city and county of San Francisco.”

He wants the agency to test full service for 90 days to see if the public responds with increased ridership.…(more)

What can we say? SFMTA needs to respond to wha the the public wants if it wants public support. Cutting back to coerce ridership is a dumb move, but, the one they generally choose.

Uber and Lyft surge pricing drives angry SF customers back to taxis

By Ida Mojadad : sfexaminer – excerpt

‘We just can’t stop talking about how high the prices are getting. It’s ridiculous.

After San Francisco reopened last month, Raquel Santizo headed to a bar in the Mission with a group of friends. But when it was time to get back to her place in the Inner Richmond, rideshare prices had jumped as high as $100…

It’s become a hot topic of conversation among her network of twenty-something professionals. “We just can’t stop talking about how high the (rideshare) prices are getting. It’s ridiculous.”

If it continues, Santizo is considering switching to taxis or bikes to save money. And she’s not the only one. The extreme markup during peak hours by companies like Uber and Lyft — commonly referred to as “surge pricing” — is driving rideshare customers back to good old-fashioned taxicabs. That’s quite a turnaround from the past decade’s transportation trends, during which the big ridesharing companies disrupted the market and dethroned the once-dominant taxi industry(more)

Portland streetcar power cables melt in extreme heat

Meter Madness

By Amy Graff :sfgate – excerpt

It has been so hot in Portland, Ore., in recent days that streetcar power cables are melting, bringing transit service to a halt for days…

Amid the heat, street cars have also been hindered by sagging overhead wires and power issues, according to a statement from Portland Streetcar. TriMet’s regional MAX light rail system also suspended service due to similar issues with overhead wires and extreme heat…

Heat-related expansion caused road pavement to buckle or pop loose in many areas, including on Interstate 5 in Seattle. Workers in tanker trucks in Seattle were hosing down drawbridges with water at least twice a day to prevent the steel from expanding in the heat and interfering with their opening and closing mechanisms…(more)

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