Safety Expert Says Muni Dragging Incident is About More than Faulty Doors

: streetblog – excerpt

The operator’s main job in the Market Street tunnel is to make sure it is safe to proceed. Either the new trains have serious blind spots or the operator didn’t do that.

Earlier this month, a woman whose finger was caught in the door of a new Muni train was dragged and badly injured at the Embarcadero Station. Recriminations are focusing on the doors, which apparently don’t always properly reset when a small object obstructs them from fully closing.

The city has responded by delaying funds for additional car purchases. According to a statement from SFMTA, they will be locking the rear doors on the new Muni trains so that “…operators can focus on seeing passengers entering and exiting the single doors nearest to them which adds a level of safety vigilance.” The agency also wrote that they “…want to remind customers to avoid holding the doors open in any way.”

But focusing solely on the doors, according to a safety expert and others familiar with transit operations, misses a larger issue…

 “Muni has a broken safety and operational culture if it allows a train operator to drag a woman who has her hand stuck in the door.”…

“Riders deserve to understand what went wrong and what’s being done to prevent it from ever happening again,” said Hyden. “We need Muni to take responsibility and be clear about any changes needed in management, oversight, training, maintenance, procedures, or testing.” (more)

 

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.

Why Is U.S. Government Infrastructure So Costly?

By Chris Edwards : cato – excerpt

Tracy Gordon of the Urban-Brookings Tax Policy Center writes interesting columns on taxes, fiscal federalism, and other economic issues. Before Congress and the administration enact another costly infrastructure bill, they should consider what Gordon wrote in a 2015 article:

“… it is an opportune time to reexamine the so-called consensus on infrastructure funding—that we need more of it and now. Focusing on how much we spend leaves out a more important question: how much infrastructure we get for our money.

Put bluntly: the costs of US infrastructure are too damn high.”(more)

Los Angeles Rail: Ridership Decline Estimated at 42 Percent

By Wendell Cox : newgeography – excerpt

The Reason Foundation has just published an important review of transit in Los Angeles County, by transportation consultant Thomas A. Rubin and University of Southern California Professor James E. Moore II. A total of four reports have been released, under the title A Critical Review of Los Angeles Metro’s 28 by 2028 Plan. Links are provided at the end of this article. More reports are to follow.

Rubin, former Chief Financial Officer at the Southern California Rapid Transit District (SCRTD) and founder of the Deloitte transportation practice, and Professor Moore have published extensively on transportation issues, and in particular, on developments in Los Angeles.

Background on the Rail and Busway System

Four decades ago (1980), Los Angeles County embarked on a huge rail transit development program, when the Los Angeles County Transportation Commission (LACTC) adopted Proposition A, which was enacted by the voters and took effect after successfully defending a California state Supreme Court challenge (Note). As a board member of LACTC, I was pleased to have drafted and introduced the amendment that created the rail funding set aside in Proposition A, out of a belief that such a system would alleviate traffic congestion in Los Angeles. Experience has proven otherwise, as traffic delays per commuter have risen 60 percent since the early 1980s, according to the Texas A&M Transportation Institute Annual Mobility Report.

Financial Assessment

Rubin and Moore demonstrate that building the rail (and fixed busway) system has cost considerably more than anticipated while the revenue from the multiple sales taxes passed by voters has fallen short of projections. Nearly $20 billion (not inflation adjusted) was spent on construction through 2016…

Links to the four reports are below.

1. Introduction, Overview, and the Birth of Transit in Los Angeles
2. The Rise of the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority (Metro)
3. Metro’s Transit Ridership Is Declining
4. Metro’s Long Range Plans Overpromise and Underdeliver

Note: LACTC and SCRTD merged in 1993, creating Metro (the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority).…(more)

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.

Romance of the Rails

Featuring Randal O’Toole and Caleb O. Brown : cato – excerpt

Randal O’Toole claims streetcars were taken out by a city bus manufacturer, not GM as legend has it.

Listen to the podcast featuring Randal O’Toole and Caleb O. Brown In Romance of the Rails, author Randal O’Toole details the rise and fall of trains as a mode of transportation why it’s quite likely we can never go back to it. (Or download:mp3)

“The problem is politicians like to fund new transportation but they don’t like to fund maintenance.”

Los Angeles Is Now Offering Car Rides to Metro Stations

By Aarian Marshall : wired – excerpt

Public transit agencies are not known for their flashy, up-to-date technology. In many cities, you’re lucky if your diesel bus shows up on time. But this week, the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority is trying something new.

Starting today, riders who live near three Metro stations will be able to download an app, tap a few times, and have a car show up at their door—or at least within a few blocks—and take them to that station. The service, provided by ride-hail company Via, will cost riders with the system’s TAP cards $1.75, though it will be free for those who already use Metro’s low-income subsidy programs. Riders will share their car trips with between two and five others, but the agency says they shouldn’t have to wait longer than 10 minutes for a pick-up.

If LA has its way, the one-year experiment with on-demand service will solve the devious first-mile, last-mile problem, connecting those who live just a touch too far away from stations to get there. The idea is to make it easier for a whole new group of people to use mass transit. “We’ve created an additional layer of public transportation,” says Chris Snyder, Via’s head of global expansion. “It’s complementary.”… (more)

This sounds like a jitney service similar to the one San Francisco just nixed. This also looks like a last gasp effort to an “anything but” solution that is picking winners among the corporate choices, but, I suppose any service can offer a cheap alternative, including neighbors with their own cars. Hope it works for the public who needs it.