Central Subway problems persist

Op-ed by Gerald Cauthen : sfexmainer – excerpt

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Have you ever wondered how the Central Subway project, a 1.7-mile rail extension of Muni’s Third Street line from Fourth and King to Chinatown, managed to get so bollixed up? Here’s a brief history of what happened:

At the end of 2017, it was announced the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency’s Central Subway manager, John Funghi, was leaving his post for the $1.6 billion project to work on Caltrain electrification. His departure came shortly after Tutor-Perini, the station contractor, released a report Nov. 1, 2017, showing that the project is more than two years behind schedule and burdened with more than 1,300 construction contractor claims outstanding — only 73 of which had at that time been addressed by the SFMTA — leaving the remaining 94 percent awaiting “processing.”

As things stand, the trains won’t be rolling into Chinatown before Spring 2021, at least 29 months behind schedule.

The true extent of the project’s construction cost and delay problems are now revealed: The Tutor-Perini report submitted to Supervisor Aaron Peskin lays out the problems in detail and asks Peskin, who is also chair of the San Francisco County Transportation Authority, to help resolve the hundreds if not thousands of outstanding issues between it and the SFMTA. In view of the many months of the Federal Transportation Administration’s Project Oversight Reports repeatedly warning of unfilled SFMTA positions and other staffing problems, and of accumulating contractor claims and accruing project delays, this came as no great surprise.

Yet, as recently as three months ago, the leadership of the SFMTA was still contending that, although the actions of the contractor had delayed things by nine months, the project was still within budget. That was before the 1,300 claims came to light; it is now clear the project is both way behind schedule and way over budget. From what has been revealed to date, it appears that because of a “head-in-the-sand” response to serious Central Subway design and construction problems, the ultimate cost of the project has increased substantially, thereby placing the SFMTA and San Francisco taxpayers in financial jeopardy… (more)

Gerald Cauthen represents SaveMuni, an all-volunteer, nonprofit organization created to help find ways of improving Muni and the other transit services leading into and serving San Francisco.

Lack of jobs is hardly a problem. A lack of talented workers is. This is exacerbated by an agency that can’t say no to every hair-brained scheme special interest groups come up with. If the SFMTA were only allowed to work on one large construction project at a time and finish it before starting another one, we might have a system and city that functioned.

We understand SFMTA is giving project managers multiple projects to manage. We were told that is what happened on Potrero. Their excuse is that if they don’t start a project they lose funding for it. The SFMTA and the director have bitten off too much to chew and they have buried their heads in the sand in hopes we won’t notice their incompetence. They will continue the blame game while biting the hands that feed them until they are put out to pasture. The voters have a say if the Supervisors give them a chance to restructure the department.

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Can the British man who saved Toronto’s subway help New York City?

By Jamiles Lartey : theguardian – excerpt

Andy Byford, a veteran of Transport for London, Sydney’s RailCorp and Toronto Transit Commission, takes ‘the biggest challenge in the most wonderful city’

Sixteen years ago, former New York transport boss Bob Kiley was recruited from across the pond to rescue the London Underground “New York Tough Guy to Run Tube,” announced the Evening Standard.

Now the reverse is happening. Andy Byford – who grew up in Plymouth and is a veteran of Transport for London, Sydney’s RailCorp and the Toronto Transit Commission – arrives to take on New York’s rammed and creaking transport system, which this year suffered a “summer of hell”. Long-deferred repairs wrought havoc on the already overburdened system, leaving passengers stranded on sweltering platforms and captive in immobilized subway cars…

This is the future of world class cities? Crowded, crumbling, sweltering subway cars?

He has already floated potentially unpopular ideas, like an end to 24-hour service on some lines, and closing others for repairs. “It’s a harsh message but there will be no gain without a bit of pain,” Byford said…

“He basically was looking for, in the short term, quick wins,” said Steve Munro, a veteran Toronto transit activist and blogger. “That’s the basic thing any new manager does: they come in and want to be seen as doing something. So he went after the stuff that was relatively easy and cheap to implement.”…

How do we go from the SFMTA’s billion dollar scam projects to quick, cheap and easy solutions? Maybe we need a new chief that thinks that way?

“There’s a reason why that equipment is under strain. It’s old and it’s trying to carry more people than it was ever designed for,” Byford said…(more)

The trick is knowing where to set your limitations before you reach them.

Rail Gauge: A Transit Adventure on SMART

by Peter Lawrence Kane : sfweekly – excerpt

Having opened this fall with a 43-mile leg of its eventual 70-mile route, SMART connects Sonoma and Marin counties by rail — and it’s fun to ride.

For all the grumbling about how the Bay Area is sclerotic when it comes to ambitious transportation projects, trains are enjoying something of a resurgence. High-speed rail seems inevitable, BART opened an extension to Warm Springs with further infill stations planned, Caltrain electrification seems likely, the much-delayed Central Subway chugs along, and Muni may yet extend the F-Market streetcar to Fort Mason. Down south, car-choked Los Angeles plans major subway expansions along its Purple Line ahead of the 2028 Olympics.

The rail-scape is impressive. While U.S. Sen. Dianne Feinstein and state Sen. Mark DeSaulnier talk about building another Bay crossing for vehicular traffic, perhaps the time is right to relieve overcrowding and delays with a second Transbay Tube instead. That idea sounds farfetched, but the county that famously declined to participate in the original BART system — Marin — now has a functioning train running from downtown San Rafael to Sonoma County Airport in one hour and seven minutes.

“They’re really learning how to transfer to buses to get to San Francisco or get to the Larkspur Ferry,” she adds. “People here are learning transit because they haven’t had transit. I’m watching them learn schedules and meet ferries and they’re so excited.”… (more)

 

Is Rapid Growth of Subway Systems in China Losing Steam?

By Sun Lichao and Pan Che : caixinglobal – excerpt

The cancellation of Baotou’s subway system has given a signal to city governments around the country that the ‘wind has changed’ on such projects, an unnamed provincial economic planning official told Caixin…

Construction of the subway system in Baotou, the Inner Mongolia autonomous region, had been taking place for only two months when the central government called off the project due to the drain it placed on city coffers…

Many third- and fourth-tier cities have scrambled to launch rail projects in the past two years. Cities such as Yinchuan, the Ningxia Hui autonomous region; Xining, Qinghai province; and Yangzhou, Jiangsu province, have filed plans for underground travel systems that are awaiting approval from the country’s top economic planner, the National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC). Several other cities, including the steel hub of Tangshan in Hebei province, are researching and drafting subway plans as well…

City-level governments see the spiking of Baotou’s subway project as a sign that “the wind has changed its direction” on such programs, said an official with a central province’s Development and Reform Commission…(more)

China’s tests out world’s first driverless train that runs on virtual rails

By

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Look Ma, No rails! or Medians!

The Hunan city of Zhuzhou is currently testing out an unmanned train that doesn’t run on rails. You know, like a bus.

The Autonomous Rail Rapid Transit (ART) is being dubbed by Chinese state media the “world’s first smart rapid rail bus,” whatever that means. The train/bus (trus?) was first shown off in June this year. It uses sensors to determine the dimensions of the road and make a virtual track for itself to ride along…(more)

This kind of technology may be the best argument for putting a halt on new projects while we finish the ones underway now. Eliminating the rails, medians and other “traditional” infrastructure elements costing billions of dollars now, could be the cheap public transportation answer in the very near future. Give the public a break while the technology catches up.

 

Technology CA: LA, Orange County Transit Agencies Seek their Own Ride-Sharing Services

By Sandy Mazza : masstransitmag – excerptri?ai=3698298f-25b6-4057-97a8-d487ae9f7aa7&ts=1fHU9MXxwaWQ9NTM3MDY1MTcxfHJpZD1iODEwZGFjOS1kOTkzLTQ0YWYtYjQxYy03YzUwZjlmNzY2NWV8cnQ9MTUwODg2OTUzNXxhdWlkPTQ5ODMwMnxhdW09RE1JRC5XRUJ8YXVwZj1kaXNwbGF5fHNpZD0xMDc5MjZ8cHViPTQzNzN8cGM9VVNEfHJhaWQ9Y2M3YjQyNjctNmVjNS00NTk0LWJiNTAtZmY5ZGRiMmJiZTQ4fHJzPTF8YWlkPTUzODQ3MjY4OHx0PTF8YXM9MzAweDI1MHxsaWQ9NTM3ODAyOTUwfG9pZD01MzczNDk4ODZ8cD0wfHByPTB8YXRiPTB8YWR2PTQ2NjF8YWM9VVNEfHBtPVBSSUNJTkcuQ1BEfGJtPUJVWUlORy5HVUFSQU5URUVEVk9MVU1FR09BTHxsaXQ9Vnx1cj1WVFphNDdTckt5

Public transit agencies in Los Angeles and Orange counties announced Monday that they’re seeking private-sector partners to operate new door-to-door ride-sharing programs.

The proposed “micro-transit” programs would begin operating in selected areas this summer, offering cheaper door-to-door rides than Uber and Lyft — as low as $5 per trip with free transfers to buses and rail lines.

The service would be designed to boost ridership and to keep up with private-sector technology innovations, said Joshua Schank, chief innovation officer at Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority, or LA Metro…(more)

REALATED:

Holding Company behind Motivate is Bikeshare Holdings LLC. By most counts this is not a neighborhood friendly organization(more)

How Driverless Cars Could Be a Big Problem for Cities

by Mike Maciag : Governing – excerpt

The technology could signal the beginning of the end of parking tickets and other revenue sources. Some cities’ budgets could take a big hit.

Like a growing number of cities, Austin, Texas, is getting ready for the arrival of autonomous vehicles. On any given afternoon, self-driving test models can be seen darting along a Formula One race track. More than 500 electric vehicle charging stations are already spread throughout the city. (Autonomous cars are expected to utilize electric drivetrains.) In March, the city council adopted a resolution prioritizing plans for self-driving vehicles.

Austin’s transportation director, Robert Spillar, is working to prepare the city. But earlier this year, a realization hit him about what driverless cars might mean for his budget. “It struck me,” he says. “Half my revenue for transportation capacity and operations improvements is based on a parking model that may be obsolete in a dozen years.”

In the not-too-distant future, fleets of fully autonomous vehicles could be transporting riders all across Austin’s urban landscape, largely eliminating not only the need for private vehicles but also the revenue they currently bring in. Parking fees are a critical funding source for the Austin Transportation Department, accounting for nearly a quarter of its total budget. Driverless vehicles would also cut into parking tickets and traffic citations, two other significant revenue streams for Austin and many other cities. “Municipalities generate a whole lot of revenue as a byproduct of parking management and traffic enforcement,” Spillar says. “If all that suddenly disappears, we’ve got a huge financial issue to deal with.”… (more)

Central Subway project faces up to 10-month delay

By Joe Fitzgerald Rodriguez : sfexaminer – excerpt

Muni’s Central Subway project may be delayed by almost a year.

If the construction contractor, Tutor Perini, and the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency do not catch up with ongoing construction delays, the project is forecasted to open 10 months late, according to the project’s required monthly monitoring report released in late May, the most recent report available.

That report, known as a Project Management Oversight Committee report, wrote that the SFMTA and Tutor Perini need to reach an agreement over scheduling conflicts, or those forecasted delays may increase.

“If we don’t change anything of what we’ve done so far, we will be 10 months late in revenue service,” Central Subway Program Director John Funghi confirmed to the San Francisco Examiner… (more)

Please comment at the source. This appears to be more evidence that SFMTA has too many projects going at one time. What does it take to convince City Hall to STOP approving more street projects until the SFMTA has completed the ones they have now. Fill the holes you have now!

Open Thread: Is it Time to Pilot a Sidewalk Bike Lane on Market Street?

A better approach to bike lane placement?

Meter Madness

By Roger Rudlick :streetsblog – excerpt

Call Them “Sidewalk-Height Raised and Curb-Protected Bike Lanes” Maybe?

Yesterday, I took a ride on a Jump electric bike on Market Street. Ryan Rzepecki, the CEO of Jump, was riding alongside. When we stopped, we talked about how nerve racking it is to ride on Market. We also discussed how comfortable it is to ride in Berlin, where, in many places, rather than stripe a bike lane on the street (American-style, in the gutter, as on Market Street) they stripe it on the outer edge of the sidewalk.

A short time later, I noticed the brick treatment on Market near Duboce, seen in the lead image, and thought to myself: that looks just like a Berlin bike lane.

I fear some readers are already foaming at the mouth. In San Francisco, the mere intimation of putting a bike lane on a sidewalk causes heads to…

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Closures, overcrowding, rats: New York City commuters face ‘summer of hell’

Meter Madness

By Tom McCarthy :theguardian – excerpt

Being trapped is a common thread in fictional future forecasts. Our urban planners’  future perfect plans for tiny crowded units with public transport ride-shares feel a lot like the futuristic city depicted in the 1985 Terry Gilliam movie, “Brazil”. where there is no easy way out.

The city’s aging subway has been declared ‘a state of emergency’. Combined with closures on other rail lines, riders are bracing for the worst

There was a time – somewhere between the 1990s exorcism of violent crime from much of New York City and Thursday, when a “state of emergency” was declared for the city’s transit system – when a nightmare scenario on the subway meant a rat crawling up your leg, over your chest and nearly into your hoody.

That remains a vividly awful prospect. But in the summer of 2017, rats are competing…

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