Muni closes two bus yards on weekends during operator shortage, union cries foul

By Joe Fitzgerald Rodriguez : sfexaminer – excerpt

Muni began closing the Kirkland Yard on weekends starting in June, a move that union members allege has exacerbated a shortage of drivers.

The City closed two bus yards this summer amidst a Muni operator shortage, potentially straining already worn-to-the-bone bus drivers.

That’s the allegation of the Transport Workers Union Local 250-A, which represents Muni operators.

And, TWU Local 250-A President Roger Marenco said, that decision likely exacerbated the citywide Muni slowdown… (more)

Complaints are the only way to deal with people who are too “smart” to listen to reason. These people do not know the meaning of customer service and they need to be taught how to deliver it or get out of the public transit business.

Complain to the Mayor and the Supervisors and to Ed Reiskin and John Haley. It is their job to run the buses if they want people to take them. And send your comments to the newspapers. They are all covering the traffic and Muni meltdowns.

RELATED:

Transit woes? Escalator at brand-new Transbay Center already out-of-service

By Michelle Robertson : sfgate – excerpt

If you’re in a public transit station and all the escalators are functioning, you’re probably not in the Bay Area… (more)

 

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The Future of Livable Cities: Shared, Coordinated, Multi-Modal Services

masstransitmag – excerpt

Transit operators throughout the world are rolling out autonomous shuttle services, and in the process are developing solutions that can serve as playbooks for other agencies. Use cases for autonomous shuttles include extending service areas and offering multi-modal “last-mile” services from transit hubs to homes and offices.

Transport Pubics Fribourgeois (TPF), the public transport operator for the region of Fribourg in Switzerland, launched an autonomous shuttle service connecting the city’s public transit system with the Marly Innovation Center, a near 100-acre campus for technology companies that is about two miles from the nearest public transit station… (more)

How does California really spend your gas tax dollars? See for yourself.

By Ben Christopher : calmatters – excerpt (includes interactive graphics)

https://www.wikibudgets.org/p/gvbll0rq1

The political battle over Proposition 6 boils down to a simple question: Where do all those gasoline taxes and car fees you pay actually go?

We tried to answer that question here. Believe it or not, this is the simple version...(more)

Is the Republican story about repealing the gas tax hike too good to be true?

By Ben Christopher : calmatters – excerpt (includes graphics)

California Republicans say that drivers can have smoother roads, more reliable public transit—and lower taxes.

In November, voters will get the chance to repeal a recent increase in the state gas tax and assorted vehicle fees. That tax hike—an extra 12 cents per gallon of gasoline, 20 cents per gallon of diesel, and two new vehicle registration fees—was signed into state law last year, part of a Democratic-led transportation package that directs an extra $5 billion per year toward the state’s dilapidated roads and highways. Making voters pay more at the pump is a tough political sell, but Democrats and other defenders of the law argue that our infrastructure is long overdue for an upgrade. The gas tax hasn’t been increased in over 20 years while the cost of highway construction has tripled. And, they say, you can’t get something for nothing.

Not so, say supporters of the repeal, Proposition 6. Chief among them is John Cox, the Republican running to be California’s next governor… (more)

RELATED:
How California Really Spends Gas Tax Dollars

BART Is Planning a System-Wide Surveillance Network

By Darwin BondGraham : eastbayexpress – excerpt

The technology will use ‘video analytics’ to pinpoint crime and alert cops.

Following several high-profile crimes in recent weeks, including the horrific killing of Nia Wilson, the Bay Area Rapid Transit district is under intense pressure to ensure passenger safety.

In response, BART officials have revealed preexisting plans to build out a massive surveillance system that would closely monitor all of the district’s stations, trains, and other property…

BART records show that a test project of the PSIM is already “in process” at the Lake Merritt Station. Lake Merritt was chosen due to its proximity to BART’s existing data center and police station.

The test project at Lake Merritt doesn’t require approval by the BART board, but an expansion of the surveillance system throughout the rest of BART’s stations would require board hearings and a vote, according to BART records…

BART has long sought to use technologies to secure its trains and stations, but this hasn’t necessarily made the system safer, and many worry about the loss of privacy and civil liberties, or fear surveillance tools could be used in harmful ways…

In 2014, BART started urging passengers to download and use a security reporting app, but many passengers used the cell phone app to report Black people and homeless people.

Two years ago, BART quietly installed automated license plate reader cameras at its stations, and according to records obtained by the researcher Mike Katz-Lacabe, the cameras have been sending license plate data to the Northern California Regional Intelligence Center since January 2017. Federal immigration agents have access to NCRIC data… (more)

If you have a problem with any of this, let the BART Board know. Some of the Board members are up for re-election in November. You may also want to comment at the the source.

Muni meltdown 2018: Our transit service failed to plan – and, thereby, planned to fail

By Joe Eskenazi : missionlocal – excerpt

Muni is finding creative new ways to blow up the system…Documents obtained by Mission Local reveal shunting buses off their runs to serve as shuttles during the Twin Peaks tunnel closure has resulted in service cuts of up to 33 percent on San Francisco’s most crowded lines.

In the age of social media, riding on public transit isn’t what brings us together anymore in San Francisco. Rather, it’s complaining about riding on public transit that unites us all…

The current de facto cutbacks dwarf the 10 percent reductions that former Muni boss Nat Ford imposed nearly a decade ago. That was a scandal and an admission of failure but — and this is the important thing — he told everyone he was doing it. These Muni cuts have come in stealth…

But that’s just Issue No. 1: Even within City Hall, the scheduled two-month closure of one of Muni’s major transit arteries came as an unpleasant surprise; for all too many riders (and government officials) the first, last, and only news they got was this June 23 Chronicle article two days before the fact

There is, after all these  years, something of a feeling of Stockholm Syndrome among longtime advocates of Muni — and not just because a ride across town feels lengthy enough that you could get to Stockholm. In San Francisco, unlike other locales, public transit isn’t supposed to just be a ride of last resort for people who’d be in cars if they could afford them. But that feels less and less true with each passing year, as venture capital-subsidized transit services aim to cannibalize a public transit agency increasingly defined by its shambolic conditions

Twenty years ago, Mayor Frank Jordan was accused of allowing Muni to deteriorate prior to an attempted privatization move. In 2018, however, there’s an app for that

The city has never needed Muni more, but the system has never made itself less palatable — or available. Our calls to Mayor London Breed and her office have not yet been returned. But our City Hall sources tell us she’s angry — as she should be. Her appointee, District 5 Supervisor Vallie Brown, has called for an investigation. It remains to be seen what that investigation will turn up and what our new mayor will do.

But hopefully, unlike Muni, we hope she moves quickly…(more)

Amen to that. Let’s hope Mayor Breed moves quickly to BLOW UP THE SFMTA!. She owes them nothing. She owes the public an efficient transportation system that works now. She needs to fire the planners and overhaul the SFMTA from the top down to fix the system and regain the pubic trust in the system.

Or just allow them to sell the pubic streets to the carpet bagging corporate entities who admit to be in a power play for control of our streets and our transportation system. It is high time to give the voters a chance to decide how we want to live. Let’s hope our mayors and local officials put something substantial on the ballot soon. We are tired and fed up and losing interest in funding the next boondoggle scheme.

Interview with BATWG Chair Jerry Cauthen

batwgblog – excerpt (includes video)

Chris Pareja interviews Jerry Cauthen, Chair of Bay Area Transportation Working Group.(BATWG) BATWG works to improve alternatives to cars to entice people out of cars vs. forcing them out of cars….https://batwgblog.com

Uber shuts down its controversy-steeped self-driving truck effort to focus on autonomous cars

usatoday – excerpt

SAN FRANCISCO — Uber’s self-driving vehicle efforts are now entirely focused on automobiles, a technological challenge that could mean a financial windfall to ride-hailing companies.

The company recently announced it was shuttering its self-driving truck division, which after its founding in 2016 almost immediately became mired in controversy and was the subject of a lawsuit by rival self-driving car company, Google-owned Waymo.

“We recently took the important step of returning to public roads in Pittsburgh,” Eric Meyhofer, head of Uber Advanced Technologies Group, said in a statement provided to USA TODAY. “As we look to continue that momentum, we believe having our entire team’s energy and expertise focused on this effort is the best path forward.”

Uber’s self-driving efforts took a big hit earlier this year when one of its Volvo SUVs equipped with autonomous sensors failed to detect a pedestrian crossing the street in a Phoenix suburb. The Volvo’s safety driver also did not react in time, leading to the death of Elaine Herzberg, 49… (more)

This is another case of selling products that don’t exist while they are in an experimental design phase to get ahead of the perceived competition. Good to hear they are at least letting go of self-driving trucks.

Good riddance to Bay Area’s transportation czar

By Mercury News & East Bay Times Editorial Boards : mercurynews – excerpt

Replacement for MTC’s Steve Heminger should bring vision for region’s transportation and housing

Steve Heminger, the executive director of the Metropolitan Transportation Commission, announced Wednesday that he will end an 18-year reign by retiring early next year…

The region’s freeways are gridlocked. Public transit systems are in disarray. Commute times continue to increase. Heminger touts his agency as “action-oriented and project-based,” but that has translated into piecemeal construction, pathetic planning and a lack of long-range vision. The agency merely hands out money for one politically popular project after another with little sense of where it will all lead.

Meanwhile, Heminger flew around the world on top-priced airline tickets at public expense; deceived the public and flouted the law to use bridge toll money to fund his badly overbudget quarter-billion dollar regional government building on prime downtown San Francisco real estate; and masterminded his agency’s hostile takeover of the staff of the Association of Bay Area Governments.

The Bay Area deserves better in what is arguably the most important job shaping the region’s transportation and housing. The time for a road project here, a rail extension there and tax increases wherever they can be found is over….

He’s leaving now. It’s time for the commissioners to step up, to show leadership — to make one of the Bay Area’s most critical government hires. For the sake of Bay Area residents and the region’s economy, they need to get it right… (more)

 

Streetsblog Q&A with BART Board Candidate Janice Li

: streetsblog – excerpt

Late last week, Janice Li, Advocacy Director for the San Francisco Bicycle Coalition, stopped by City Hall to pull papers and officially begin her campaign for the District 8 seat of the BART Board. District 8, located entirely in San Francisco, includes Balboa Park, Montgomery, and Embarcadero Stations. Li has gotten off to a strong start, with endorsements from Assemblyman Phil Ting, Supervisor Jane Kim, and BART Board Directors Bevan Dufty and Lateefah Simon, among others. If she wins, she’ll be taking over the seat vacated by Nick Josefowitz, who is currently running for the San Francisco Board of Supervisors…

Streetsblog: So what can a bike advocate bring to the table for BART?

Janice Li: I don’t necessarily see myself as a bike advocate first and foremost. When I started at the San Francisco Bicycle Coalition, I had no professional planning experience. But I was brought on as someone who has done really deep community-based work, who has done membership development, and someone who has established leadership capacity at a nonprofit organization. My roots are community-based work, in marginalized communities in the West End of Buffalo. One of my first tasks was making inroads into Chinatown and other Chinese Communities in SF. There are so many things that are really important to me before I even get on a bike…

JL: A broader issue is we now have different modes of transportation: ferry, Caltrain, and a lot of private and privatized transportation. You can pay for the privilege not to see that. It’s problematic because then you get different tiers of transportation… you don’t want to deal with the smell of piss, [then you] go catch a Lyft, or get on your Chariot. That’s problematic because they’re pulling money away from public transit. I strongly believe that public transit is a public resource. Now you have BART competing with the Google shuttle–guess who’s going to win?

SB: The shuttle.

JL: Right. BART’s not going to win.

SB: But it doesn’t have to be that way…

SB: So is this primarily about resource allocation?

JL: I feel like it’s hard for me to just be like ‘I know all the ills.’ But past directors weren’t always on the ground seeing what was happening at the stations. So the state of stations not feeling safe or getting cleaned became an okay status quo. I think when Nick Josefowitz and Beven Dufty joined the BART board they pushed a lot of buttons, saying this may be your status quo, but this is an untenable status quo. I want to keep pushing ‘this is NOT okay.’…

JL: I’m unfamiliar with the technology or train operations. But I generally have a lot of concerns around autonomous technology. I would say what I would encourage BART to do is have a work plan for a more autonomous future.

SB: Fare and service integration?…

If I am elected to the BART board, I will find my way onto the MTC commission. But I think individual agencies need to take leadership and force integration if MTC won’t…

I have problems with public agencies, be it BART, or SFMTA, or Public Works, who think that delay is status quo so it’s fine. We have to say ‘we will hold you accountable,’ and if they miss their timelines, ‘why did you set that timeline in the first place,’ and ‘why are you okay with being wrong!’…

I think Lateefah Simon pushes BART staff to do full investigations. Again, that’s the way that BART directors can use their role and power of office to hold agencies accountable and they are great models… (more)

If you need more people on BART, for security reasons, dropping the driver makes no sense. With the presence of a driver, you have at least one human on each train. One set of eyes watching the passengers that should be able to put out an alert when there is a problem. One expert who knows how to deal with emergencies.

If you need more people on BART, for security reasons, dropping the driver makes no sense. With the presence of a driver, you have at least one human on each train. One set of eyes watching the passengers that should be able to put out an alert when there is a problem. One expert who knows how to deal with emergencies.

We will have to see who else is running, but Ms. Li seems to have some good ideas on how to improve the BART system.