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?

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Two-mile-long Van Ness bus lane project faces two-year delay

By : sfexaminer – excerpt

The two-mile-long Van Ness Bus Rapid Transit project is facing an almost six-month construction delay.

Piling onto other recent delays, the latest setback will stretch the service’s debut from January 2018 to mid-2020, according to city documents… (more)

The SFMTA doesn’t care about completion. They just want to get their hands on as many streets as possible to tear them all up at once. The more delays the longer they can gridlock the streets. Digging holes is the goal. The public is not amused. Complaints from constituents in all the districts are forcing changes at the SFMTA. The Supervisors may not be able to fix the homeless crisis but they can pressure the SFMTA to listen to us.

Whether you read the article or not, read the comments. They are really good.

Central Subway problems persist

Op-ed by Gerald Cauthen : sfexmainer – excerpt

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Have you ever wondered how the Central Subway project, a 1.7-mile rail extension of Muni’s Third Street line from Fourth and King to Chinatown, managed to get so bollixed up? Here’s a brief history of what happened:

At the end of 2017, it was announced the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency’s Central Subway manager, John Funghi, was leaving his post for the $1.6 billion project to work on Caltrain electrification. His departure came shortly after Tutor-Perini, the station contractor, released a report Nov. 1, 2017, showing that the project is more than two years behind schedule and burdened with more than 1,300 construction contractor claims outstanding — only 73 of which had at that time been addressed by the SFMTA — leaving the remaining 94 percent awaiting “processing.”

As things stand, the trains won’t be rolling into Chinatown before Spring 2021, at least 29 months behind schedule.

The true extent of the project’s construction cost and delay problems are now revealed: The Tutor-Perini report submitted to Supervisor Aaron Peskin lays out the problems in detail and asks Peskin, who is also chair of the San Francisco County Transportation Authority, to help resolve the hundreds if not thousands of outstanding issues between it and the SFMTA. In view of the many months of the Federal Transportation Administration’s Project Oversight Reports repeatedly warning of unfilled SFMTA positions and other staffing problems, and of accumulating contractor claims and accruing project delays, this came as no great surprise.

Yet, as recently as three months ago, the leadership of the SFMTA was still contending that, although the actions of the contractor had delayed things by nine months, the project was still within budget. That was before the 1,300 claims came to light; it is now clear the project is both way behind schedule and way over budget. From what has been revealed to date, it appears that because of a “head-in-the-sand” response to serious Central Subway design and construction problems, the ultimate cost of the project has increased substantially, thereby placing the SFMTA and San Francisco taxpayers in financial jeopardy… (more)

Gerald Cauthen represents SaveMuni, an all-volunteer, nonprofit organization created to help find ways of improving Muni and the other transit services leading into and serving San Francisco.

Lack of jobs is hardly a problem. A lack of talented workers is. This is exacerbated by an agency that can’t say no to every hair-brained scheme special interest groups come up with. If the SFMTA were only allowed to work on one large construction project at a time and finish it before starting another one, we might have a system and city that functioned.

We understand SFMTA is giving project managers multiple projects to manage. We were told that is what happened on Potrero. Their excuse is that if they don’t start a project they lose funding for it. The SFMTA and the director have bitten off too much to chew and they have buried their heads in the sand in hopes we won’t notice their incompetence. They will continue the blame game while biting the hands that feed them until they are put out to pasture. The voters have a say if the Supervisors give them a chance to restructure the department.

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.

Excellent Uber Ad Distills the Problem With Uber in Crowded Cities

: streetsblog – excerpt

In a brilliant new spot, Uber inadvertently lays out exactly why its for-hire vehicles won’t solve transportation headaches in crowded cities…

There’s certainly a place for these services in the transportation ecosystem, but they’re not a solution to moving large numbers of people in crowded cities. No app, no matter how user-friendly, can turn cars into a congestion fix… (more)

My favorite false narrative that joins the fake news category is the claim that a troll is running on social media that “Uber is a pubic transportation system”. The Mayor of SF must have bought that article as he made a deal to transfer public property to Uber in exchange for data. Is it time for the public to start boycotting these cars by returning to “free” rideshares called hitchhiking?

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!

Drive time

By Susan Dyer Reynolds : marinatimes – excerpt

With 45,000 Uber and Lyft drivers, it’s time for digital medallions

A year ago, San Francisco Examiner reporter Joe Fitzgerald Rodriguez sent shockwaves with one big number: 45,000. According to data he received from the San Francisco Treasurer’s Office, that was the estimated number of Uber and Lyft drivers operating in the city. That was up from around 37,000 drivers six months prior (for reference, there are around 1,800 taxicabs).

I experienced the effect of all those ride shares on the road last month while trying to get from Oak and Webster Streets to Third and Mission Streets. From the time I hit Mission, it took more than 45 minutes to reach my destination…(more)

 

America’s Buses Lose Riders, Imperiling Their Future

By David Harrison : WSJ – excerpt

A staple of American urban life—the city bus—is in a state of steady decline.

Ridership on city buses around the country was down 13% in the second quarter of 2017 compared with the same quarter in 2007, according to Transportation Department data, a drop that has left transit agencies scrambling to make up for lost revenue and contemplating additional service cuts on top of ones they have already made … (more)

If Muni spent more money on doing what riders ask for and less on high-level salaries for managers who ignore the public, PR schemes they claim are outreach, and high tech gadgets they might see an increase in ridership. When has the SFMTA responded to any public suggestions that did not fit their plans? How many people warned against the Design and Build Walsh contract?

I have a suggestion for them to ignore. Loose the attitude that you KNOW IT ALL and react to what the public is telling you by taking alternatives to the Muni.

The public is voting for smaller more comfortable vehicles when they switch to Chariot, Uber and Lyft. The SFMTA is still buying larger, longer, less comfortable buses and planning for standing room only crowded conditions for its riders. Hire more drivers and lay off the planners. Muni is a NOW thing not a 40 year plan.

Instead of punishing the ride hail services for getting it right, learn from them and add some jitney-size vehicles to the Muni fleet. Ask the Muni drivers who deal with the public for suggestions on how Muni can improve the ride and routes. Maybe return some of the bus stops.

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)