Muni Board Approves $21 Billion Capital Improvement Plan

by Nathan Falstreau : hoodline – excerpt

Earlier today, Muni’s Board of Directors voted unanimously to approve a 20-year capital plan to help the agency meet its anticipated needs over the next two decades, including improved facilities and an overhaul of the city’s light rail trains…

The plan does not, however, account for projected SFMTA revenues.

Although the Board has approved desired funding areas, whether or not the the city comes up with the money and ultimately approves projects is not guaranteed. According to the agency, public approval is also necessary to “secure federal, state, regional, and local funding” in the future….(more)

Public Ridesharing, Shuttle Program: $4 Million In Grants

patch – excerpt

“Shuttle bus, ridesharing services link commuters with mass transit and play a key role in helping the region attain its clean air goals.”

SAN FRANCISCO, CA — The Bay Area Air Quality Management District announced in San Francisco that it is offering up to $4 million in grants to public agencies for shuttle bus and ridesharing services.

The money for the grants comes from the Transportation Fund for Clean Air. The fund amounts to $22 million per year and comes from a $4 surcharge collected by the state Department of Motor Vehicles on cars and trucks registered in the Bay Area… (more)

 

Lyft and Amtrak now let passengers book rides to and from the train station

by Nick Statt : theverge – excerpt

Another business links up with Lyft, and not Uber

Lyft is partnering with Amtrak to help train passengers get to and from the train station. The new deal will let you book a car with the ride-hailing service from within Amtrak’s mobile app. If you’re a new Lyft rider, using the promo code “AMTRAKLYFT” grants you $5 discounts on the first four rides, regardless of whether they’re booked through the Amtrak app. Lyft says its service reaches 97 percent of all Amtrak riders in the US..
The business lingo Lyft is targeting here is known as first- and last-mile service, and it’s a big market opportunity for ride-hailing apps. Both Lyft and Uber allow people to get around without having to rely on their own vehicles or public transport, but neither can really solve the problem of having to get to and from larger transportation hubs like airports and train stations. The ride-hailing industry fought vigorously, and largely succeeded, at muscling airports into allowing drop-offs and pickups. Now, it appears like trains are presenting a new battlefront for Lyft and Uber to control how consumers travel…

Lyft and Uber want to control how you get to and from every transportation hub.

California’s bullet train is likely to face more environmental hurdles after a high court ruling

By Maura Dolan and Ralph Vartabedian : latimes – excerpt

California’s high-speed train project is likely to continue to be buffeted by environmental challenges as a result of a decision by the state’s top court.

In a 6-1 ruling last week written by Chief Justice Tani Cantil-Sakauye, the California Supreme Court decided that federal rail law does not usurp California’s tough environmental regulation for state-owned rail projects.

It clears the way for opponents of the $64-billion bullet train to file more lawsuits as construction proceeds and also allows Californians to challenge other rail uses, such as the movement of crude oil from fracking… (more)

High-speed rail gets us stuck in traffic

By David Schwartzman : californiapolicycenter – excerpt

It will soon be nine years since high-speed rail was passed in California. But Californians haven’t gotten the high-speed r.ail system they were promised. Instead, high-speed rail has taken a new form: it is more expensive and smaller in scope, and it will substantially increase traffic congestion in urban areas.

High-speed rail will cost Californians billions of dollars. In urban areas, increased traffic may cost Californians billions more. Its business plan relies on unrealistic ridership projections. The project is devoid of private funding because businesses see high-speed rail as likely to run at a loss. While high-speed rail wastes more taxpayer dollars, the private sector makes it obsolete with technological innovation, which will reduce future income from the high-speed rail system. High-speed rail authorities have violated federal law by making significant changes to the proposition approved by voters. High-speed rail has not been the success voters imagined when the bill passed.

When voters approved Proposition 1A with 52.7%, the estimated cost for high-speed rail going from Sacramento and San Francisco to San Diego was $45 billion. However, a 2011 business plan by the California High-Speed Rail Authority projected costs to be $98.5 billion, and potentially as high as $118 billion, while also ending at Anaheim rather than San Diego. Despite the enormous difference in cost, Californians were not consulted about whether they were still interested in high-speed rail. Instead, the project was scaled down, with slower speeds and fewer new tracks, estimated to cost $68.4 billion, and later $64 billion... (more)

Most poll respondents don’t plan to ride SMART

By Stuff: ARGUS-COURIER – excerpt

Last Mile Issues require parking options

A majority of respondents to an online Argus-Courier poll said that they would not use the SMART train for their daily commute.

Here are some comments:

“Aside from the fact there is a serious lack of parking near the train station, the train goes nowhere near where I work in San Rafael. Walking or taking a bus to or from the train station will not work either. I will continue to drive.”

“I’d like to, but that may change depending on price, in particular, as well as timing with the Larkspur ferry. ”

“I am retired but want to ride the train and see the sights once all the bugs are worked out.”

“I do not and do not know anyone who will. This train has cost us millions in taxpayer dollars and has woken me up several times as it blows its horns.”

“I go into San Francisco. It is not time or cost effective, including the incomplete route to the ferry.”

If the transportation authorities quit fighting and added sufficient parking to their list of amenities for ALL public transit stations and hubs, they would not have the problem of a sinking ridership. There is no excuse for this lack of parking at the stations other than an out-dated notion that people can and should be controlled by a “wiser” government.

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

While homelessness surges in Disneyland’s shadow, Anaheim removes bus benches

By Anh Do : latimes – excerpt

Sweat rolled down Ron Jackson’s face as he pondered, as he does every day just steps from “the Happiest Place on Earth,” where he would sleep.

The homeless man’s hangout in Anaheim had until recently been a grimy bus bench across the street from Disneyland.

Then, one day, the benches around the amusement park — including his regular spot outside of a 7-Eleven at Harbor Boulevard and Katella Avenue — disappeared.

Soon, people were competing for pavement.

No more sleeping spot. Just concrete,” Jackson, 47, said on a sweltering day. “There were already people claiming the space.”

The vanishing benches were Anaheim’s response to complaints about the homeless population around Disneyland. Public work crews removed 20 benches from bus shelters after callers alerted City Hall to reports of vagrants drinking, defecating or smoking pot in the neighborhood near the amusement park’s entrance, officials said.

The situation is part of a larger struggle by Orange County to deal with a rising homeless population. A survey last year placed the number of those without shelter at 15,300 people, compared with 12,700 two years earlier… (more)

Between Disney and homeless there is no contest, even though it’s not likely Disney’s tourists are going to notice the bus stop benches as they will not be taking the bus with their families to attend the “happiest place on earth.” They will be pulling into the parking lot in air-conditioned chartered buses, cars, taxis or limos.

San Francisco combats homeless sleepers by moving bus stops around, removing bus seats and putting spikes on benches and seating areas to prevent a comfortable spot for sleepers.

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!

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)

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