California’s Bay Area Prepares for a Driverless Future

by Erin Baldassari : mercurynews – excerpt

Six cities in the region are getting $5 million to fund pilot programs aimed at integrating autonomous vehicles and solving general traffic congestion problems.

(TNS) —  SAN FRANCISCO — Within two to three years, bicyclists in Emeryville and Los Gatos will be able to download an app to get more green lights at intersections. Patients at the Veterans Administration Palo Alto Medical Center will be hopping on an autonomous shuttle for appointments. And, within a few more years, BART riders in Dublin will have a driverless vehicle picking them up and dropping them off at the station.

It’s all part of an effort to prepare the Bay Area for a future with self-driving cars, said Robert Rich, a planner at the Metropolitan Transportation Commission (MTC), the region’s transportation planning agency. When that future comes, cars will be expected to communicate not just with each other, but also with traffic signals and other infrastructure, he said… (more)

Companies Will Likely Have First Dibs on Fully Autonomous Vehicles

by JC Reind : govtech– excerpt

Top automakers say the first generation of the technology will be used for commercial purposes, not by the general public.

(TNS) — LAS VEGAS – Auto companies at this week’s CES tech convention affirmed plans to have their first true self-driving cars in production by 2021 — or in some cases earlier.

But don’t expect to see these vehicles on any dealership lots.

This first generation of autonomous vehicles will, in most cases, not be offered for sale or lease to the general public, but instead would be reserved for commercial use by ride-hailing fleets and delivery services… (more)

 

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Uber Finally Admits It’s Taking on Buses

By Paris Marx : medium – excerpt

It’s not the only company looking to control urban transportation

Uber’s transportation ambitions have steadily grown since its inception. It started by taking on black cars, then challenged taxis before getting into food delivery and launching uberPOOL, which increasingly came to resemble a fixed-route bus service. But Uber diehards have insisted that the company was just innovating on its taxi model, not going after transit…

At a recent conference, Dara Khosrowshahi, who replaced co-founder Travis Kalanick as CEO in August 2017, told attendees, I want to run the bus systems for a city. I want you to be able to take an Uber and get into the subway… get out and have an Uber waiting for you.” He also compared the role of cars in Uber’s business model to that of books in Amazon’s: the first step to expanding into multiple other markets. With that information, do you still not believe Uber is going after transit?…

Uber Can’t be Trusted to Operate Transit

Becoming a transit operator is not simply the ambition of a new Uber CEO, but has been part of the company’s strategy for at least a couple of years. It already has agreements with a number of smaller cities in the United States and Canada to subsidize ride-hailing trips, occasionally with conditions attached. But there’s good reason to be worried about Uber’s intentions and the service it would ultimately deliver…

Uber’s ride-hailing service made the auto experience worse for millions of people by increasing congestion and travel times; is there any reason to believe the same won’t happen if it makes a more concerted push into transit? (more)

To some people is appears as if the SFMTA has been bought out by the private sector and is letting it fail apart while the agency concentrates on one huge construction project after another. Is it possible to have a real transportation director who does nothing but manage the public transportation system? Will a Charter Amendment save the public Muni system from Uber?

Deal for second Petaluma SMART station falls apart

By Hannah Beausang : petaluma360 – excerpt

A deal to build an east side SMART station, 225 commuter parking spots, and more than 400 housing units to Petaluma appears to have collapsed after differences emerged between the rail agency and a developer… (more)

 

Uber ‘thumbing its nose at the law’: San Francisco city attorney

Lyft good, Uber bad.

So says San Francisco’s city attorney, who’s accusing Uber of getting up to its old tricks amid a probe into the San Francisco operations of the two ride-hailing firms headquartered in the city.

“For a company that is supposedly changing its culture, thumbing your nose at the law is a funny way of showing that you’re now a good corporate citizen,” city attorney Dennis Herrera said in a statement Wednesday.

Uber on Wednesday disputed Herrera’s characterization of its actions, saying it cooperates with regulators to comply with the law.

Herrera launched his public attack after purported stonewalling by Uber as the city attorney’s office seeks company data going back to 2013 for an investigation into whether Uber and Lyft have been obeying state and local laws.

While Lyft initially resisted allowing some of its records to be examined by experts from city government outside the attorney’s office, it has now agreed to permit that, Herrera said.

“This is a reasonable agreement that preserves Lyft’s trade secrets while advancing our investigation into whether these companies violated the rights of ordinary San Franciscans,” Herrera said…(more)

Defending Our Future

caltransit – excerpt

2018 Spring Legislative Conference Coming May 22-23

The California Transit Association’s 2018 Spring Legislative Conference takes place May 22-23 at the Tsakopoulos Library Galleria in Sacramento….

With Defending Our Future as the theme, this year’s program will feature an in-depth discussion of Senate Bill 1 – both the opportunities presented by this monumental new transportation funding package, and threats posed by current efforts to repeal the funding measure through a statewide ballot initiative. In addition to discussion on other timely topics, such as the potential Innovative Clean Transit regulation, attendees will get an update on the Association’s legislative priorities for the current year… (more)

Sounds as if the California Transit Association is in doubt of their future if they are concerned with defending it. Wonder what the legislative priorities are going to be other than protecting SB 1.

Los Angles Attempts to Fix Pavement Problems for Cyclists

by Bethany Klein : norcalnews – excerpt

More and more people in California are beginning to see the benefits of bicycling. The bicycle is one of the most efficient machines ever made. Using very little energy, people are able to propel themselves to work or play. Bicycling is also inexpensive and great for the body. Unfortunately, not all cities are prepared to handle the recent surge in cyclists on the streets and in parks. For example, Los Angeles recently admitted a need for greater attention to its bike paths, and the city has a plan to fix them…

This means a dozen more staff members are planned to be hired in the coming budget year. These staff members and the repairs they will accomplish will cost at least $2.5 million annually. However, the costs might be able to be reduced by hiring construction works meant to repair streets a few months early. These workers could then accomplish a “biking path blitz” before tackling their regular work of repairing highways and city streets… (more)

The city of LA appears to be run by the same 1% that finances our political campaigns in northern California. The Bike Blitz pushes gentrification and displacement as it first targets low income “blighted” areas and then tackles the single family homes of middle class citizens. At a Town Hall I believe I heard Senator Wiener say, “There is nothing for the middle class.” What does he mean by that?

For more details on these statement regarding the use of cyclists and particularly bike share rentals, see the following article and you can do your own investigations into how this is playing out around the country as the land grab of the 21st century commences. This will put the gold rush to shame.

SFMTA is using taxpayer dollars to kill the public transportation system the way GM is accused of killing rail transit. SFMTA is handing over pubic

Love Citi Bike? You Have A Real Estate Developer To Thank

https://metermadness.wordpress.com/2017/09/06/love-citi-bike-you-have-a-real-estate-developer-to-thank/

Two-mile-long Van Ness bus lane project faces two-year delay

By : sfexaminer – excerpt

The two-mile-long Van Ness Bus Rapid Transit project is facing an almost six-month construction delay.

Piling onto other recent delays, the latest setback will stretch the service’s debut from January 2018 to mid-2020, according to city documents… (more)

The SFMTA doesn’t care about completion. They just want to get their hands on as many streets as possible to tear them all up at once. The more delays the longer they can gridlock the streets. Digging holes is the goal. The public is not amused. Complaints from constituents in all the districts are forcing changes at the SFMTA. The Supervisors may not be able to fix the homeless crisis but they can pressure the SFMTA to listen to us.

Whether you read the article or not, read the comments. They are really good.

Massive cost overruns threaten to derail the bullet train. Here’s what has to change

by Ralph Vartabedian : latimes – excerpt

Only two years ago, the California rail authority unveiled an ambitious plan to begin operating a segment of bullet train service between San Jose and the Central Valley by 2025. It would take nearly every penny in its checkbook, but the rail authority assured the public it would work.

But that plan has been crushed by the acknowledgment Tuesday that the cost of building just 119 miles of rail between the farm towns of Madera and Wasco has soared from about $6 billion to $10.6 billion, siphoning off money that the authority had planned to allocate to the ultimate goal of connecting Los Angeles and San Francisco.

It has left the broader high-speed rail project, a lofty objective that Gov. Jerry Brown has pursued since the 1980s, in an existential crisis.

Over the next year, Brown, the Legislature and the next governor will have to decide whether to create new revenue sources, dramatically delay its construction or scale it far back from a complete 550-mile system, among other possibilities… (more)

 

 

Central Subway problems persist

Op-ed by Gerald Cauthen : sfexmainer – excerpt

ed-head1

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.

Costs to upgrade Muni’s Sunset Tunnel soar — partly thanks to neighbors

By Michael Cabanatuan : sfchronicle – excerpt

Work to strengthen and modernize Muni’s Sunset Tunnel will end up costing $4 million more than planned — due in part to neighbors’ complaints about noise and late-night work.

The Municipal Transportation Agency board voted Tuesday to approve the additional payment to contractor ProVen Management, for a total of $23.3 million, because of delays, mostly associated with neighbors’ appeal of a night work permit, and additional work requested by the agency…

Money to pay for the increased cost will be siphoned from a project to rebuild the turntable in the Cable Car Barn, part of an effort to rehabilitate the cable car system. Muni will delay that work until 2019 while it looks for new funding… (more)

Leave it to SFMTA to blame the neighbors. The will blame anyone rather than assume the blame themselves. How much longer will people put up with them?