APTA: Public transit ridership down in 2018

By Katie Pyzyk : smartcitiesdive – excerpt

Dive Brief:

  • Americans took 9.9 billion public transit trips in 2018, a 2% decrease from 2017, according to a report from the American Public Transportation Association (APTA).
  • Bus ridership fell 1.84%, light rail (streetcars, modern trolleys, heritage trolleys) fell 2.98% and heavy rail (subways and elevated trains) fell 2.6%. Commuter rail was the only mode with a ridership increase at 0.41%.
  • Of the 31 large and small city transit systems included in APTA’s data, 20 experienced year-over-year ridership losses, nine experienced gains and two did not have data available.

Dive Insight:

APTA’s data mirrors other associations’ and federal data that indicate overall decreases in transit ridership the past several years. Data released in the fall from the U.S. Census Bureau’s annual American Community Survey showed that citizens’ commutes became longer and in 2017, nearly 12,000 fewer commuters used public transportation.

A recent KPMG report suggests that transit agencies embrace industry disruptions and cater to customers’ changing tastes — namely, by moving away from fixed-route buses and toward new mobility options, or partnering with private companies who offer such services. It also suggested that transit agencies become more savvy with using rider data to determine where and when people need to travel to devise viable microtransit solutions… (more)

What are they thinking?

What is wrong with this picture?

Just because the seats have separations or simples to keep people from sliding sideways does not mean the rest of their bodies sill staying place. Instead of the bodies sliding sideways, the shoulders and heads will move sideways and some shoulder and head injuries may still occur.

Some people claim they are already not able to use the Muni because of the seats.

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
SFMTA CAC Meeting
– 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

BACKROUND:

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

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?

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.

Tom Rubin Thoughts on Congestion Pricing

By Tom Rubin

I’ve studied the current Metro 28 by 2028 Plan – and it is pie in the sky.

To give a bit of background, Metro has a very long and consistent history of promising everything to everyone and then, when the plan crashes, everyone is worse off – yes, a few (nowhere near what was promised) rail lines get built, but transit ridership goes down due to the cost overruns – and the fare increase and bus service cutbacks to try to pay for them.  Then, another sales tax to pay for what was promised last time is proposed, and passed.

Metro now has one quarter-cent and four half-cent sales taxes that will bring in about $3.8 billion this year – and the fourth sales tax, passed in 2016, includes some of the same rail lines that were in the first, passed in 1980.

The LA Mayor is running for President.  He wants to run on the great “success” of what he is doing in LA, specifically, all the rail lines he has built and the wonderful things that have occurred.  Now, when Measure M passed in 2016, the plan was to have the fastest rail construction program in history, 20 new projects to being service by 2028 (well, a couple of those were road projects).  Speaking as someone who has studied LA transit in great detail for decades, it is utterly unbelievable that this will occur.

So, of course, the plan is, let’s go for 28 projects by 2028, with the extra eight being among the most expensive on the entire 40-year plan list.  No chance in hell.

So, how to pretend that this is viable?  A new revenue source is needed, and not another sales tax.  So … congestion pricing.

There are three flavors discussed.  The smallest, which would be the “easiest” to implement (that is a relative scale, compared to the other two, not an absolute one) would be a congestion corridor around the Los Angeles Central Business District, now shown as brining in $1.2 billion per year, beginning July 1, 2020.

OK, to start with, the schedule in beyond impossible.  At a minimum, it would need new legislative authority from Sacto to even being essential to even begin.  Then, because it is, arguably, a tax, because the collections from the vehicles entering would be used for transit, not roads, it would, some say, need a two-thirds, not a 50%+1 majority, to be enacted (we’ll know a lot more when the current RM3 case, raising the tolls on the Bay Area bridges to fund transit, is decided).  There will also be huge public relations, work with interest groups, etc. – and setting up the charging system will not be something that can be done in a few weeks.

OK, $1,2 billion/year.  Let’s compare that to the London Zone, which is going on two decades in use, is significantly larger geographically, and has multiple times the population and, more important, jobs.  It netted $198 million last year – charging $14.53 per day.  Someone want to explain the math?

Then, we have the most desirable option, vehicle mile travelled (VMT), which would bring in $10.35 billion a year, again, show as starting on that same July 1, 2020.  OK, you might note that this would be about 270% from the sales tax revenue on the largest county in the U.S.  It is also about four times what the entire State of California paid into the Federal Highway Transit Fund – hell, it is 25% of what the entire nation paid into the HTF.

Also, not only would this require State legislation, but it would also require Federal legislation – and, why would Metro think that it would get all the money from this?  Good luck on that.  By the way, again speaking as someone who has been watching this for a long time, trying to come up with a way for LA County to collect this without the rest of the U.S. putting it in is pretty much impossible.

So, while I think that Congestion pricing is the way to go in the long-term, and there really isn’t much of an alternative, it will take a LONG time to get there and, I have very great confidence in the ability of the elected officials at all levels to delay and screw this up beyond belief.

Good luck with that.

 

Los Angeles Congestion Pricing Study

By Howard Wong : savemuni – excerpt

For San Francisco, I’ve had qualms about a regressive congestion tax that disproportionately harms low-income drivers.  Los Angeles is studying a congestion pricing plan that could fund free public transit—which better competes against surging ride-sharing.  In the not-too-distant future, free public transit could move towards automated micro-buses that adopt on-demand ride-share technology.  Free, frequent, 24/7 public transit would be equitable and democratic…

RELATED: A Possible congestion pricing plan for Los Angeles takes a step forward

ARCHITECT’S NEWSPAPER:  Metro officials claim that congestion pricing could bring in enough new funding to lower base transit fares or even make the entire system free to ride. It’s possible that with the right congestion pricing plan, Metro could make transit more affordable and useful as it makes driving more expensive and difficult in tandem… (more)

 

SF’s Van Ness project nearly 2 years behind schedule, millions over budget

By Phil Matier : sfchronicle – excerpt

The $316 million makeover of San Francisco’s Van Ness Avenue is running a year and nine months behind schedule, according to the main contractor, with the completion date now pushed to late 2021.

At the same time, contractors have submitted claims for cost overruns totaling $21.6 million, with more claims likely to come.

“It’s ridiculous. We need better project management both from the contractors and from the MTA,” said San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency board member Art Torres (more)

Plague of Muni train switchbacks in Bayview may finally be ‘eliminated’

By Joe Fitzgerald Rodriguez : sfexaminer – excerpt

Imagine riding a train home only to have it stop suddenly. The operator activates the loudspeaker and asks everyone to disembark, just so the train can swing around and pick up more passengers at the beginning of the line in a wealthier neighborhood.

Welcome to the dreaded “switchback.”

Ask any Bayview Muni rider, and they’ll tell you: switchbacks are more than a nuisance, they’re a plague, and the bane of any T-Third rider just trying to get home at night.

Now switchbacks will finally be “eliminated,” said incoming Supervisor Shamann Walton.

“It’s been overdue,” Walton told the San Francisco Examiner, Thursday. “We’re hard at work on this, it’s coming.”… (more)

Best news we have heard from Muni in a long time. Best possible improvement they could make. Hope the new supervisor can work on this with the new Muni Director to make it happen fast.

SF transportation agency gives private buses illegal access to transit-only lanes

By Sue Vaughan : 48hills – excerpt

The Google buses shouldn’t be in the red lanes, for a long list of reasons. Why is SF letting that happen?

The San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency is getting the rules of the road all wrong and the agency needs to fix its mistakes.

In recent years that agency — the SFMTA — has been creating more and more transit-only lanes. Some of these lanes are painted red, but not all of them are. The agency has consistently, in email after email and presentation after presentation, marketed these lanes to the public as a means to speed up Muni.

However, it appears that on March 28, 2014, two months after the seven unelected members of the SFMTA Board of Directors passed legislation to create the controversial Commuter Shuttle Pilot Program and Policy, permitting private tech shuttles (“Google” buses) to use public bus stops, the directors started passing legislation permitting “buses” access to transit-only lanes

State law defines “bus” and “transit bus” differently. A “bus” is a vehicle that carries more than 10 people, including the driver. A “transit bus” is a vehicle that is owned or operated by or on behalf of a publicly owned transit system to provide general public transit.

So while a transit bus fits the definition of a bus, not all buses fit the definition of a transit bus…

At the local level, the 11 elected members of the San Francisco Board of Supervisors have codified the distinction between transit vehicles and everything else – emphasizing that lack of ambiguity. In 2008, the supervisors passed Section 7.2.72 of the San Francisco Transportation Code making it an infraction for non-transit vehicles to operate in transit-only lanes. In that section of the code, the Board of Supervisors were explicit: transit-only lanes are for public transit-only vehicles. The seven unelected members of the San Francisco Board of Directors have no legal power to preempt the 11 elected members of the San Francisco Board of Supervisors…

at a December 3 hearing sponsored by Supervisor Sandra Fewer, staff from the SFMTA admitted that they were essentially clueless about the potential impact of allowing unlimited numbers of private buses to compete with Muni’s 800-plus vehicles in transit-only lanes… (more)