San Francisco Accused of Giving ‘Tech Buses’ Free Ride

Nearly 400 commuter shuttles travel through San Francisco every day, but are they paying their fair share? That’s the question posed by critics who argue companies that operate these “Tech Buses” should pay more for their use of public bus stops and damaging city streets. Investigative reporter Bigad Shaban reports on a story that first aired May 3, 2018…(more)

Advertisements

Open letter to SFCTA and SaveMuni Executive Committee.

Although San Francisco has spent billions of dollars on public transit, the high number and locations of Transit Deserts explain public dissatisfaction—particularly for lower-income people in outlying and southern neighborhoods. Inefficient cost/ benefit infrastructure projects, like the short 1.7 mile/ $1.6 billion Central Subway, have taken local funds from the rest of the Muni system—cutting routes and service disproportionately in isolated communities. Not to mention collateral damage to neighborhood businesses and peoples’ livelihoods. Or annual high operating and maintenance costs that cut bus hours. Going forward, we need to give priority to and accelerate cost-effective projects that improve San Francisco’s public transit system as a whole.

Regards,

Howard Wong, AIA, SaveMuni 

Dozens of U.S. Cities Have ‘Transit Deserts’ Where People Get Stranded

By Junfeng Jiao and Chris Bischak : smithsonian – excerpt (includes map)

Living in these zones makes it hard to access good jobs, health care and other services. 

Transportation deserts were present to varying degrees in all 52 cities in our study. In transit desert block groups, on average, about 43 percent of residents were transit dependent. But surprisingly, even in block groups that have enough transit service to meet demand, 38 percent of the population was transit dependent. This tells us that there is broad need for alternatives to individual car ownership.

Shrinking transit deserts does not necessarily require wholesale construction of new transit infrastructure. Some solutions can be implemented relatively cheaply and easily.

[NOTE:  In the article’s chart of 27 cities, San Francisco ranks worst.]

MAP (choose San Francisco):   http://www.transitdeserts.org/?xid=PS_smithsonian

….(more)

Falling transit ridership poses an ‘emergency’ for cities, experts fear

washingtonpost – excerpt

Commuters tire of the \shuttle bus shuffle that crawls through San Francisco streets. Crowded Muni is painfully slow and standing room only is hardly a ride worth taking when other modes offer clean, comfortable seats.

Transit ridership fell in 31 of 35 major metropolitan areas in the U.S. last year, including each of the seven cities that serve the majority of riders, with losses largely stemming from buses, but punctuated by reliability issues on systems like Metro, according to an annual overview of public transit usage.

The analysis by the New York-based TransitCenter advocacy group, using data from the U.S. Department of Transportation’s National Transit Database, raises alarm about the state of “legacy” public transit systems in the Northeast and Midwest and rising vehicle ownership and car-based commuting in cities nationwide.

Researchers concluded that factors such as lower fuel costs, increased teleworking, higher car ownership and the rise of alternatives such as Uber and Lyft are pulling people off trains and buses at record levels…

“Transit systems should deliver quality service to low-income people. But low-income people do not owe us a transit system.”…

Metro is mulling a major redesign of the bus system. But first, officials need to figure out why people aren’t riding.]… (more)

New rules to ban jitneys from competing with Muni

By Joe Fitzgerald Rodriguez : sfexaminer – excerpt

The City is on the cusp of approving new regulations that will officially bar private transit service Chariot — and similar jitney services, should they arise — from directly competing with existing Muni routes.

Late last year, The City approved its first-ever comprehensive regulations of jitneys, which chiefly govern San Francisco’s only remaining private mass-transit service, Chariot… (more)

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?

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?

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!

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!