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?

Red Lane Amendments and Efforts to Stop the Corporatization of our Streets

After months of letters, comments and neighborhood pushback against many elements of corporate takeover of our streets and public spaces, many people who shocked by the announcement that some of the Red Lanes in the city are open to use by private enterprise vehicles, such as tech buses, private shuttles, and any vehicle that carries more than 10 riders, based on the definition of a bus.

Supervisor Fewer, among others, scheduled hearings on the use of the Red Lanes that were re-scheduled a couple of times, and reset for early December. As many people were preparing for those meetings, we got the news that recent developments at the Land Use and Transportation Committee may have made those hearings unnecessary.  November 5, 2018, Aaron Peskin aide, Lee Hepner, introduced Amendment 18-862, that was passed unanimously to the Full Board by the Land Use and Transportation Committee:

Ordinance 180862 – Ordinance amending Division I of the Transportation Code to establish a procedure for Board of Supervisors review of Municipal Transportation Agency decisions related to Bus Rapid Transit projects that do not include transit-only areas or lanes for Municipal Railway vehicles, taxis, authorized emergency vehicles, and/or Golden Gate Transit vehicles; and affirming the Planning Department’s determination under the California Environmental Quality Act.

The tape of the meeting is below, go to Item 6: http://sanfrancisco.granicus.com/player/clip/31749?view_id=10&meta_id=642988

As a matter of introduction Mr. Hepler described the areas of concern that are under the purview of the Board of Supervisors, though they are not being added to this amendment at this time.

This is a paraphrased transcript of the meeting:

Within the text of Prop A, there is a provision that allows the Board of Supervisors to enact an ordinance that gives the Board the option to review SFMTA decisions regarding various curb space decisions, bicycle lanes, traffic mitigations and measures etc…

Background information:  Supervisors Peskin and Safai co-sponsored Ordinance 180089, to enact that review provision regarding curb use. That ordinance expressly exempted certain projects from review that were determined to be public interest projects, such as bike lanes, curb modifications for street sweeping, and bus rapid transit projects.

This new ordinance is taking on elements of the Bus Rapid Transit Projects that are not clearly defined in the code and providing guidance as to the scope of the board’s review authority of these projects. This proposal expresses this board’s desire to promote Bus Rapid Transport projects that are generally designed and implemented to further public transportation reliability.

The amendment clarifies the Board of Supervisor’s policy preference. The board would not review BRT projects that are designed for public transportation use, but would take review of BRT projects designed for use by private commercial shuttles, tour busses or other modes of private transportation that might actually impede the flow of public transportation.

The proposed amendment… replaces the words, “bus rapid transit project” with “bus rapid transit project that includes transit only areas or lanes for municipal railway vehicles, taxis, authorized emergency vehicles, and/or Golden Gate Transit Vehicles.”

SFMTA appears to have collaborated on this. The amendment passed to the full Board of Supervisors as is on the agenda for the November 13 Board of Supervisors meeting. We had no notice, but, this appears to be going through rather rapidly. In this case, that may be a good thing.

Protesters Block Google Bus Near San Jose State University

cbslocalexcerpt (includes video)

SAN JOSE (CBS SF) — A group of protesters blocked a bus carrying tech workers near the San Jose State University campus Thursday.

The demonstration happened on the 100 block of E. San Salvador St. near Fourth St. outside a parking garage.

KCBS Radio reported the protest was the first tech bus protest in San Jose and directed at Google, with protesters dressed in hazmats suits saying the company is “toxic.” The demonstrators say they are opposed to Google’s plans for a new campus near in San Jose…(more)

It has finally happened. SF residents have been protesting against the disruptive tech buses for months and now the protests are starting at the other end. We’ve been wondering how the residents near the campuses are dealing with them. Now we know. These exclusive carriers are only appreciated by the the riders who enjoy the perks. This in-your-face opulence is fanning the anti-gentrification flames around the Bay. The corporate takeover of the streets is not going to be smooth.

RELATED:

Monday, October 29, 1:30 PM
Room 250 City Hall – Supervisors Land Use and Transportation Meeting
Who will get to drive in the Red Lanes? SFMTA Director Ed Reiskin, is handing the decision on whether or not private tech buses will use the Red Lanes to the Supervisors. Don’t miss your chance to comment on who can use the Red Lanes.

New bus operator offers low-cost routes to LA, SF

By Ben van der Meer : bizjournals – excerpt

Sacramento has another competitor in the space for low-cost travel to other cities without flying or driving.

FlixBus, which started operations in Los Angeles in May, expanded bus service to Sacramento and other Northern California cities Thursday, including several in the Bay Area and Central Valley.

Its strategy is straightforward: Tickets as low as $4.99 to San Francisco and $14.99 to Los Angeles, using buses equipped with Wi-Fi and a full range of movies and other entertainment for every seat.

Three buses will leave from Sacramento daily at 5:50 a.m., 1:10 p.m. and 10:50 p.m., arriving at either University of California Los Angeles or the University of Southern California in about nine hours. Three other buses arrive daily in Sacramento from those starting points. The pickup and drop-off point is the California Automobile Museum at 220 Front St.

Other cities with FlixBus service starting Thursday include Bakersfield, Fresno, Oakland, Reno and San Jose… (more)

One more reason SF needs a robust parking transit hub system to connect people with all the mobile options easily without taking up curb space. This is the only win win possibility we have if we want to clean up the mess and build flexibility into the system for those constant transit meltdowns. Don’t bother to fight it. Just fix it.

NOW is the time to DEMAND A PUBLIC HEARING on the privatization of our public streets.

“Lyft’s Big Bike-Share Buy Is About Ruling the Streets”.

This is the headline running on Wired after the recent announcement that Lyft acquired Motivate, and the Gobikes. According to the article, Lyft would not discuss the terms of Motivate’s exclusive contract with the SFMTA, but they have talk to San Francisco City authorities and voters if we demand they do.

The contract was brought to our attention at and reviewed a few months ago at a SFMTA Board of Directors hearing on alterations on Bayshore. The contract was reviewed by a number of people at that time and alarms were set off but few people paid attention, although the media has done a decent job of covering these issues. This program will turn into the Airbnb disaster on the streets and it could be stopped now before any more damage is done.

Has SFMTA sold us out to Lyft, Uber, Ford and GM and their plans to control our streets? We know they will replace human jobs with robots. How does this fit into MTC’s expansion plans for more public transit and the environmental argument for dense cities along transit corridors in the Bay Area that SPUR is pushing?

How SMART is it to sell our streets to private corporate giants that plan to robotize our streets killing thousands of human jobs­­? Isn’t this what everyone complained about the last time GM bought the rails and dismantled them? How much support are the on-demand entities getting from our public transit agencies in their efforts to take over our streets again?

The public needs to decide how we want to use our streets while they are still ours!  Now is the time to put a stop to the removal of public parking while we figure out how well the SFMTA programs are serving us and our needs.

We insist on an investigation into the relationships between our public transportation department and these private entities. These contracts between private and public enterprises look suspicious when we see that the public is paying to supplement these private enterprises that claim they are taking over our streets as described here: Chariot adds commute routes for UCSF employees, with public funding

Who made this deal to use public funds to supplement the Chariot rides for UCSF employees living in the East Bay. Where are the public funds coming from? Does Chariot get Bay Bridge toll exceptions too while the rest of us pay more to cross? Who gets exceptions to those tolls?

We have been complaining about the separation of powers within the SFMTA and now we see there is a problem of separation of powers and interests between our public and private transportation entities. 

ENUF already! Demand they stop removing pubic parking now. This is Airbnb on the streets. Merchants and residents are already having problems with delivery services with the curb parking that we have left now. We cannot afford to loses more curb parking.

Who is on our side? Ask your supervisor and those running for the office in November what they plan to do about the privatization of our streets by the SFMTA. Some supervisors have already taken a stand on our side. Public parking has been restored and saved. Thank the supervisors who have acted in our behalf and ask them how you can resolve parking problems using Ordinance #180089.

Chariot lobbyist may be in trouble for campaign donations

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24th Street is one of the most impacted streets by the Tech buses. Merchants have always had trouble on the street and now they are leaving in droves. Residents have been protesting for months and getting very little relief as the SFMTA moves the tech stops around like the Police move the tents, trying to pretend like they are improving the situation.

New information on investigations into possible campaign improprieties surfaces two days before the Mayoral election in this letter.

Hello Friends and Allies,

The tech shuttle bus protest this morning using electric scooters may have caught your eye: http://www.sfexaminer.com/acti vists-block-tech-bus-commute- say-e-scooters-treated-better- homeless/

But there is more in the news regarding corporate efforts to privatize mass transit and co-opt public space. A lobbyist for Chariot may be in trouble for donating personally and bundling close to $1000 to the campaign of London Breed for Mayor. This may violate Proposition T, passed in 2016, and is now being investigated by the SF Ethics Commission., Bigad Shaban and colleagues of NBC Bay Area Investigative Team did a report on the charges to the tech shuttle buses to participate in the Commuter Shuttle Program. Per that program the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency permits the tech shuttles to — illegally — make use of public Muni bus stops for a cost-recovery fee now set at $7.31. (It’s a violation of California Vehicle Code 22500.5 for any but public buses and taxis to use public bus stops. There is an exception for school buses when there is an agreement between the public transit agency and the school district in question.) Why, the team wondered, is the SFMTA only charging the tech shuttle buses a per stop administrative fee tied to the cost of running the program but had been selling taxicab medallions for $250,000 a piece until the advent of Uber and Lyft?

Don’t forget to vote!

Sue Vaughan

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)

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)

As other cities lead electric charge, San Francisco expands diesel fleet

By Robyn Purchia : sfexaminer – excerpt

as-far-as-the-eye-can-see7

Accommodating these diesel monsters is not helping clean the air.

SFMTA directors have argued that electric vehicle technology is not ready, instead authorizing the purchase of hundreds of new trolleys and planning to expand The City’s diesel hybrid fleet.

With our Bay breezes and environmental ethos, San Francisco typically boasts better air quality than other cities, but that doesn’t mean San Franciscans are breathing easy. In a letter to the state last year, the San Francisco Municipal Transporation Agency stated 70 percent of San Franciscans are exposed to significant diesel exhaust levels, a primary cause of lung disease and asthma.

While city officials struggle to control congestion from Uber and Lyft rides, they’ve fallen asleep at the wheel in tackling a source of these fumes: Muni buses…. (more)

Don’t ignore the construction dust.