L-Taraval: SFMTA Seeks To Remove Parking, Add Boarding Islands

by Fiona Lee : hoodline – excerpt

With the recent release of the final results of a six-month boarding zone pilot, SFMTA hopes to add boarding islands and remove multiple stops to make the L-Taraval corridor safer for pedestrians and passengers.

The boarding zone pilot took place over a six month period at inbound stops at 26th, 30th, 32nd, 35th and 40th avenues and included improved signage, flashing lights and painted lane markings to alert drivers…(more)

As you can imagine the removal of these stops is not popular with Muni riders on the L-Taraval. They will show up and are asking for support from other Muni riders and people who oppose bus stop removal at the SFMAT Board Meeting on December 5th. Please see this letter from Paula of Save Our L Taraval Stops!

Most of you do not ride the L Taraval, but you have supported our efforts over the past two years to help us keep our stops.  Sadly, earlier this year we lost 8 of our L stops.  This coming Tuesday, December 5, the SFMTA (Muni) Board of Directors will decide whether to remove 4 more:  inbound and outbound at 44th Avenue, and inbound at 35th Avenue and for a variety of reasons, the staff recommends removing them.  We need your help one last time!
1.  Can you please attend the Board meeting on Tuesday December 5, City Hall Room 400, at 1 pm?  We need a very big presence, and so many L riders cannot get off from work.   We can provide you with written statements.  A few of us need to provide more information than we can say in 2 minutes, so we will have statements for a few others to finish.   And we are hoping to have folks read some of the many moving emails that L riders are sending discussing how losing their stops will be a hardship to them and their families, so that the Board members will hear the words that they might or might not have read.  And if I can put it together, I’ll try to get photos of some of those folks so the Board members can see their faces, tho I am not sure if that will happen.  And it’s fine if you prefer to make your own 2-minute statement on the hardships that seniors, people with disabilities, families with young children, and other riders will face if their stops are removed, and how in the world can they remove the inbound stop across from Safeway!  There will be a number of people saying that.  Please let me know if you can make the meeting.
2.  Can you please email public comments this week to MTABoard@sfmta.com and katy.tang@sfgov.org and norman.yee@sfgov.org  with a blind cc to saveourLtaravalstops@gmail.com   Tell them how it will be a hardship for seniors, people with disabilities, families with young children, and others if the L Taraval stops at 44th, and inbound at 35th and 17th are removed.  Pease email them even if you plan to attend the Board meeting on Tuesday.
So many of us across the City have struggled and fought the many changes that SFMTA has tried to impose on use.  We have tried to support you when we can.  We hope you will be able to support us this one last time.

If anyone wants to read the staff report, slide presentation, or agenda for Tuesday’s meeting, the links are below.  About a third of the discussion in the staff report is on stop removal.  Thank you so much for all your support these past two years.  We are in the stretch run.

Paula, Save Our L Taraval Stops!

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Private security company failed to fulfill SFMTA contract

By  Bay City News : sfexaminer – excerpt

The private security company hired to protect San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency employees failed to fulfill its contract in four key areas, according to a report released Thursday.

Cypress Security LLC was paid for 34 hours of security services over an eight-week period during the 2015-16 fiscal year that weren’t supported by time records, according to an audit report from the Office of the Controller’s City Services Auditor Division.

This calls into question whether or not payments related to the 24 guards’ activities – about $41,500 – should have been made during the 2015-16 fiscal year, according to the audit report.

Also, Cypress couldn’t demonstrate that its three subcontractors comply with liability insurance and minimum compensation requirements, nor could the company demonstrate its own or its subcontractors’ compliance with health benefit requirements, the audit report said.

The contract compliance audit was done by Sjoberg Evashenk Consulting, Inc., at the behest of the city auditor…(more)

Bad contracts are popping up all over the streets as we dodge the mess they are causing to our streets and the stress on our lives. Stop all new projects until the ones underway are complete. Celebrate finished jobs, not job starts and breaking more ground. We have enough broken ground already.

Ask B. Sarah Jones at the November 20 SaveMuni Meeting

To all SaveMuni members, friends and associates:

At the next SaveMuni meeting (11/20/17, 5:30 p.m. Turk/Fillmore Police Station) we will have an excellent opportunity to learn more about the SFMTA, it’s objectives, its priorities, its structure and how it functions. Sara Jones, SFMTA’s new Planning Director will be at the meeting to explain the program, answer questions and exchange ideas with us.

This is your chance to find out how MTA plans to cope with San Francisco’s worsening transportation condition. Come and invite your friends!

Big Philanthropy Takes the Bus

By Benjamin Ross : dissentmagazine – excerpt

In 2002, Royal Dutch Shell’s grant-making arm set out to influence transportation policy in developing countries. Initial “market testing,” the Shell Foundation itself has said, revealed that a program directly funded by Shell would lack “credibility,” and so Shell decided to channel its money through an “intermediary.” Several bidders competed to play this role. Shell chose the World Resources Institute, a business-oriented environmental nonprofit.

The resulting program was dubbed EMBARQ. With Shell’s financial support—starting with a $7.5 million grant—and ongoing guidance, EMBARQ urged cities to rely on buses that run on Shell’s product instead of building electric-powered subways.

Buses, to be sure, are essential to any transit system, and they rarely get the respect they deserve. Improving them can serve social justice as well as transport. But ordinary buses are hardly a credible substitute for subways. So EMBARQ promotes what is called bus rapid transit, or BRT. This refers to bus routes with special features, such as travel lanes where cars are excluded, that are said to offer rubber-tired travel that’s as good as rail but costs less. It’s an elastically defined concept that comes in many flavors; the common element is less the transportation than the politics of it. BRT is the bus you get when you don’t get a train…

BRT was newly in vogue among transit planners when Shell and EMBARQ took it up. But it’s an idea with a history… (more)

 

Focus should be on making Muni service better

Response from Muni Officials to:  “As other cities lead electric charge, San Francisco expands diesel fleet,”  

Muni’s transit system is the cornerstone of The City’s environmentally sustainable transportation system and is one of the greenest in the world. Despite providing more than 700,000 trips a day, it is only responsible for 2 percent of the greenhouse gas emissions in The City. San Francisco’s transportation sector generates approximately 46 percent of The City’s total emissions, and more than 90 percent of that comes from personal and commercial vehicles like cars and trucks.

The focus shouldn’t be simply on how fast can we move to all-electric buses, it should be on making Muni service even better, so even more people ride it. This is why we are working so hard to put new and cleaner vehicles into service, because at the end of the day, attracting more people to transit will have the greatest impact on reducing greenhouse gas emissions in San Francisco…

John Haley
Director of SFMTA Transit Operations….. (more)

Setting the record straight on diesel in San Francisco
San Francisco Muni should be applauded, not reprimanded, for its choice of clean diesel technology in its transit buses...

Robyn Purchia’s commentary dismisses the judgment of seasoned transit fleet management professionals and is based on the false premise that somehow San Francisco is falling behind because of their transportation technology choice, all the while embracing electric bus manufacturer marketing. Of course, electric vehicles are cheaper, with millions of dollars in public subsidies. Are they cheaper after that? It shows just how superficial things have become.

The primary mission of public transportation agencies is to provide accessible, affordable and reliable transportation to the most citizens possible. That’s why still today that the majority of new transit bus investments around the country are the new generation of clean diesel technology. It delivers the greatest value, reliability and performance.

There is more than one shade of green, and public transportation has and continues to make important strides in these areas. They can be “clean and green” without going all electric…

Allen Schaeffer, Director of the Diesel Technology Forum (more)

As other cities lead electric charge, San Francisco expands diesel fleet

By Robyn Purchia : sfexaminer – excerpt

as-far-as-the-eye-can-see7

Accommodating these diesel monsters is not helping clean the air.

SFMTA directors have argued that electric vehicle technology is not ready, instead authorizing the purchase of hundreds of new trolleys and planning to expand The City’s diesel hybrid fleet.

With our Bay breezes and environmental ethos, San Francisco typically boasts better air quality than other cities, but that doesn’t mean San Franciscans are breathing easy. In a letter to the state last year, the San Francisco Municipal Transporation Agency stated 70 percent of San Franciscans are exposed to significant diesel exhaust levels, a primary cause of lung disease and asthma.

While city officials struggle to control congestion from Uber and Lyft rides, they’ve fallen asleep at the wheel in tackling a source of these fumes: Muni buses…. (more)

Don’t ignore the construction dust.

SFMTA approves dedicated bus lanes for Geary Boulevard

By Jerold Chinn : sfbay – excerpt

San Francisco transit officials on Tuesday gave a key approval to a $300 million bus rapid transit project that will change the way Muni runs the 38-Geary local, rapid and express routes through the Geary corridor.

The San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency Board of Directors approved the state environmental review report and adopted the recommended “Hybrid Alternative” design of the project.

Commissioners of the San Francisco County Transportation Authority approved the same report and recommended design in January.

The project will dedicate red transit-only lanes from Gough to Stanyan streets along the curb edge, then in the median from Stanyan Street to 28th Avenue, and then back to curbside from 28th to 34th avenues.

Transit-only lanes already exist on the downtown portion of the Geary corridor, but will have improved bus stops as part of the project…

The project has had opposition from merchants worried about construction hurting businesses and critics of the project who have said the project is costly.

San Franciscan’s For Sensible Transit filed a lawsuit earlier this year against the project citing that transportation planners did not study in full detail the no build option in the environmental review report. Other concerns included construction costs and construction impacts.

Bob Starzel, director of the San Franciscan’s For Sensible Transit, said the group does not like the way the project has been planned. He advised the SFMTA board to not “rubber stamp” the project:

“The only way we could talk you is by a lawsuit. We prefer to do it in a more enabled way.”…

After Tuesday’s approval, Brisson said staff will work on the detailed designs of the project, which includes the roadway and right-of-way changes. The SFMTA plans to seek public outreach on the detailed designs.

Transit officials also expect to the complete the federal environmental review process later this year.

Brisson expects to bring back a legislative package to the Board of Directors of the proposed roadway and right-of-way changes in early 2018… (more)

Why does such a big story have little press so far, and no comments. Citizens are looking into how the EIR is approved without a project description.

Why are we spending $300 million dollars on the consolidated center lane when the project manager admits that the rapid and local lines will share bus stops after the two lines are consolidated in the center lane and the only no time savings will come from eliminating a few stops.

Taxpayers should request an explanation for spending $300 million dollars on a complex center lane when removal of a few bus stops will cost nothing and get the same results.

As the number of tents on the sidewalk mounts and crime increases, keep in mine that the red paint applications trigger an annual maintenance expense that will become a part of the growing SFMTA budget each year, tell your supervisors what you prefer to do with your tax dollars.

This project will not proceed without federal dollars so be sure to weigh in with your federal representatives and watch the state reps as well. To better understand how these projects are coming to our streets, read the following document: http://livablecity.org/wp-content/uploads/2013/08/tlc_path.pdf

Which city does Transit Better – LA or SF?

I asked a transit expert to compare the two cities. Here is the response.

TAR:  LA and SF are two of the worst, overall, in the U.S.  If you look at
the rankings, LA is almost always the absolutely worst.

However, as a practical matter, it comes down to particular commutes in each
place.

Transit is different in LA.  To a large extent, the only place where transit
can really be competitive is peak-hour commutes to the central business
district — and LA has, by far, the smallest CBD relative to urbanized area
population in the U.S., if not the world.  Also, believe it or not, greater
LA is, by far, the densest urbanized area in the U.S. and is almost dead
last in freeway center-line miles and total road miles per capita (I win a
lot of bar bets on these two).  But, much of LA has a very good grid system
of arterial streets and LA-DOT is world-class, particularly on traffic
signal progressions and the like.

So, in a strange way, commuting is better in LA than in SF.  Because we
don’t have a single huge downtown that a whole lot of people are trying to
get to, there is a much better work/live balance, and people have shorter
commutes to the distributive downtowns and other disbursed work locations.

Also, Greater LA is one of the poorest regions in the nation; we’ve just
about kicked out the last of the middle class and the good middle class
jobs, so we have some very rich and a lot of very, very poor – even more so
than in SF, which is saying something.  So, the bus system is very highly
utilized, frequently with the highest average load factor in the industry
(fighting New York City and Honolulu for that “honor”).

But, while SF started with a very good – but very old – rail system, which
was then added to by BART, starting fifty years ago, LA lost the last of
what was the finest rail system in the nation in 1961 – and then tried for
years to get something going.  Finally, in 1980, the rail proponents passed
a one-half cent sales tax to begin building rail – which was supposed to
provide eleven rail lines all over the County.  Thirty-seven years later,
and three more half-cent sales taxes (Los Angeles County Metropolitan
Transportation Authority gets over $3.5 BILLION a year in sales tax revenues
that no one outside the County has any say over) – and we have about half
of that rail system built.

Unfortunately, this has come at the expense of the bus system, which has
suffered through multiple fare increases (when the median bus rider
HOUSEHOLD income is $15,000, trying to afford even one thirty-day pass at
$100 is a rather large segment of income) and reductions in service, so
total ridership has been going steadily down – even after $16 billion spent
on building new rail lines (and that’s just for the ones that have been
completed).

If you want more detail, here’s a link to something I prepared about fifteen
months ago:

http://demographia.com/db-rubin-la-transit.pdf

The only thing that has really changed since this was written is that two
more rail lines have been finished and went into service, another half-cent
sales tax was passed, even more rail lines have been started – and
ridership has continued to drop.

Sad, isn’t it?

Tom Rubin

The Crazy Idea of Running Caltrain onto Muni’s Tracks

: streetsblog – excerpt

Maybe it’s not quite as crazy as it sounds

A little over a week ago, the San Francisco Examiner ran the Op-Ed: “Fast and cheap: Getting Caltrain to Transbay Terminal … this year.” Author Stanford Horn proposed extending Caltrain via Muni’s T/N tracks on King Street and building some more tracks on Howard Street to a platform at the new Transbay Terminal, as a stop-gap measure until the DTX tunnel is built

Horn’s assertion, that it would be such a simple project that it could be connected up in a few weeks or months, is as silly as it sounds. As Noel Braymer, editor of the Rail Passenger Association of California newsletter wrote: “Oh dear God, where do I begin! There is no way that the Federal Railroad Administration will allow Caltrain equipment to share tracks with much lighter rail transit trains. The reason is, in the case of a collision Muni cars would be crushed if hit by Caltrain!”

To point out another obvious problem: although the track gauge is the same, Caltrain’s rolling stock is wider than Muni’s. Since Muni uses high-level platforms, that means if you plopped a Caltrain onto Muni’s tracks, it would crash into the platform. Furthermore, Caltrain’s equipment would likely derail on Muni’s track switches. Horn’s piece was savaged in the comments section as totally unworkable… (more)

Muni Fare To Increase Again July 1, Caltrain Considering Fare Hike Too

If you’re a Caltrain rider who would like to voice your frustration with (or support of!) the proposed fare increase, the commuter rail line service will have staffed tables at 11 different stations tomorrow, Tuesday, May 23, to gather your feedback. Additionally, the Peninsula Corridor Joint Powers Board will have a public meeting on Thursday, July 6 at 10 a.m. at the Caltrain Administrative Office in San Carlos. You don’t even have to be present at the meeting to speak up, because Caltrain is taking comments online and via email at changes@caltrain.com.

But as for Muni riders, that 25-cent fare increase is a done deal and going into effect July 1, 2017 regardless of your feelings on whether the fare’s fair…