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.

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Shuttle zone changes are going to public hearing

Shuttle bus brigade takes how many cars off the street and moves how many people at a time? According to one neighbor, only 3 or 4 people are on some of these behemoths. How practical of a solution is this?

Friday June 16, 10 AM
Room 416 City Hall – Public Hearing on Shuttle zone changes

Letter regarding shuttle bus program with Hearing sent to Ed, who is working on the shuttle bus problem on 24th Street in Noe Valley:

Hi Ed,

Thanks for sending (list of complaints). I’ve passed along your notes from the last couple weeks to the appropriate shuttle operators. A few things I wanted to note:

  • We’ve recently communicated with a few companies that are missing a sticker or two on their vehicles as you have noted, and we have provided them with replacements for those stickers. We’re creating an official process in the new Salesforce portal that is being built for the program for shuttle operators to request replacement stickers and to indicate the reason why they need new stickers (i.e. new paint job, replaced bumper, etc)
  • We’re speaking with our engineers about policies around shuttles staging in the Valencia turn lane
  • Shuttle zone changes are going to public hearing next Friday 6/16 at 10am in City Hall Room 416. We look forward to seeing you there and I’d be happy to talk to you about the proposal before then as well.Thanks,Alex

Tech Shuttle Sign of Growing Inequality

Op-ed By Mari Elizapublished in The Potrero View

Lingering controversy over “tech buses” – shuttles conveying high technology workers here, there, and everywhere – is related to who gets to ride them and how far a would-be passenger has to walk to catch a public or private bus. The free ride and exclusive social element sets the tech buses apart, and causes animosity between tech shuttle riders and everyone else.

Muni riders are having their bus stops cut, and seats removed.  Shuttles appear to be free, clean and comfortable. They also seem to be closer to a door-to-door service, while Muni is forcing its riders to take longer walks by eliminating stops.

It could be an illusion, but it’s certainly a perception. A new privileged class system is rearing its ugly head.  The wealth and privilege associated with tech buses adds to feelings of social inequality.  Shuttles have become the catalyst for anger that needs an object to lash out against because they’re so visible and appear to be unregulated, ignoring laws and getting away with it. 

Neighborhoods want to kick the shuttles out.  Developers want to eject low rent tenants.  Both sides are lining up to protect their turf.

 

Commuter Bus program Report

Report by Edward Mason with comments

Summary of the February 21, 2017 MTA Board meeting
Making the Commuter Bus program Permanent

FOR
Three representatives from the Teamster’s Union declared the program a win-win for all: jobs, profits all around; “labor harmony;” and the streamlining of the shuttle operation, including coordination with residents.

One after the other, the commuter buses patrons presented their case: reduction of dependence on cars; ease of travel, with consequent savings to their personal time; the avoidance of 40 minutes on Muni and/or a full CalTrain. Some argued that they ride the commuter bus because there is no shuttle to work from the CalTrain Station. (According to a former Apple employee who helped design its commuter system, that company does pick up at the shuttles.) Almost to a man they parroted the bromide that the program removes 10,000 autos and benefits the environment. Each insisted that they only wanted to live in San Francisco and did not want to own a car. One woman, who rode the buses during the course of two pregnancies, cited the importance of frequent stops.

A representative from the Bay Area Council made his contribution. He cited three years working with the MTA and ABAG (the Association of Bay Area Government). He trumpeted the reduction of vehicle mileage, the easing of congestion and the removal of 2 million car trips annually. All this was good for the environment, with the result that the best option is a permanent program.

Others asked for increased commuter bus loading zones. During the presentation, Director Ramos asked speakers to indicate if they rode Muni. Some said they had a Clipper Card. (No one indicated they rode Uber/Lyft to the commuter stop, a fact which has been observed.). Surprisingly some commented they would purchase an auto and drive if the commuter bus was not available. (Surprising because many in this age group do not know how to drive and distain the burden of car ownership — one of several reasons for the success of Uber/Lyft).

In summary, the “for sustaining commuter bus program arguments were convenience, fewer auto miles, good for the environment, and time savings for personal or family time, i.e., personal benefits. (Not mentioned: the huge tax deduction that the company takes for the business expense of transporting its work force. This deduction reduces their contribution in the form of corporate taxes to the general welfare. (Individuals generally can not deduct their commute, so we all indirectly support this corporate write-off)).

AGAINST
One argument against the corporate bus operation is the low mileage-per-gallon in the city vs. the freeway, especially with the extensive use of deadheading. (This argument supports the use of HUBs.) The ignoring of ADA, the omission of an EIR, and the displacement of lower income populations are other frequently raised problems. (More ammunition for a BART HUB.) Also on the legal side, red zone stops violate state code 22500 and cause Muni to fall short of its 85% on-time goal prescribed in the City Charter; and enforced Muni street-boardings violate ADA rules. In view of all the busses’ many violations, the MTA issues too few citations. Noise and vibration impact on houses. Smaller buses could substitute for many if not all of the behemoths. One detractor even contented that if the buses disappeared the 10,000 additional autos represented by the population of riders would have a minor impact on the 300,000 auto commute time total on Highway 101.

Finally, buses should benefit all parties (citizens, not select workers). In the end, the support should be for a Public Regional Express Bus system. Presently the program represents an illegal give-away of bus stop space. Prop 26 fee structure should be reviewed, State Assembly Bill 61 to legalize red zone failed.

DIRECTORS’ comments / questions included:

  • Shift to smaller buses on more streets? Companies determine the size and mix of buses.
  • Increase penalty, emissions standards
  • Director Ramos commented one thousand emails received and New Development in SF funding Mass Transit changes (I assume new market rate development for South Bay workers. However, the Transportation Sustainability Fee derived from new development is deeply discounted to less than 25% of the Nexus Study true transportation expansion cost. Growth is not funding Growth). With a growing economy, MTA must“accommodate the need of Industry.” (Does this mean at all costs and with little or no regard for the collateral damage inflicted upon the neighborhoods?) He applauded the industry for being willing to work with this voluntary program. He conceded that the arrangement was far from perfect and would evolve, including MORE STOPS TO REDUCE DWELL TIME, such as additional loading zones that remove parking.
  • Form a web page for better violation/complaint reporting

TAKE AWAY
Underlying the argument for the corporate bus operation is a presumption of the inherent right of the individual to enjoy a simultaneous commute-and-work experience, a benefit that suits both the employee and the employer. Of the many individuals who said that, deprived of that right, they would purchase an auto and drive, not one displayed any trepidation about the environmental consequences of that action.

I will share the Public Records Request correspondence received supporting the Commuter Bus Program. Mostly repeated cookie cutter statements. Mostly like upstart businesses “mustering the troops” to lobby the legislators.

The geography (steep hills) and geometry (narrow /awkward streets) undermine the practical use in this city of motor coaches, i.e., 40’plus vehicles designed primarily for travel on freeways. None of the supporters mentioned any of the intractable and multiple problems associated with them, including staging (idling for a time point departure); the obstruction of intersections; noisy, late night operation; and the conflict with MUNI.

Assuming 20% of the future employee expansions of Facebook (6,000) and Apple Spaceship (8,000) will most likely result in additional buses in San Francisco. Plan Bay Area 2040 is up for review. Will the employment centers build work force housing? Work site congestion mitigation transfers congestion to the employees’ neighborhood. San Francisco is not alone, as Private Commuter Buses roam the South Bay Cities traveling from San Jose to Sunnyvale, or Mountain View.

Fail: ‘Google Bus’ lacks mandatory permit on main photo of major tech shuttle report

By sfweekly – excerpt

TECHBUS.jpg

The City released a hotly anticipated, deeply controversial (to transportation nerds, anyway) report on “tech shuttles” last week, but it may have included a major snafu.

The report, which lays outs the dangers and benefits of moving Silicon Valley commuter shuttles off of San Francisco streets and into hubs, follows The City touting its accomplishments in ticketing law-breaking shuttle drivers…(more)

RELATED:

PHOTOS TELL THE TRUTH ABOUT COMPLIANCE

Commuter  Shuttle Hub  Study November 15, 2016
Links to documents from the November 15, 2016 SFMTA Board Meeting:
https://www.sfmta.com/calendar/meetings/board-directors-meeting-november-15-2016

24th-St-shuttles.jpg

Many people noted the Out of Compliance Bus featured on the cover of the report and commented on it. It seems that SFMTA staff is less familiar with the regulations than the public is. For some reason all the photos chosen for the report show the tech buses in Muni stops.

As far as the eye can see7.jpeg*4 buses, Muni, truck2 copy.jpeg
Two photos by Ozzie Rohm of 24th Street in Noe Valley during morning rush hour illustrate why the neighbors want relief from the onslaught on tech shuttles.

The Nov 15, 2016 MTA Board agenda item 11 addressing the HUB analysis and the Six Month Update contained 77 pages.  Only two minutes of public comment was allowed!

Supervisor Wiener request a meeting at the The Board of Supervisors (BOS) Land Use Committee. There is not a date set yet.  We will watch the BOS meeting agendas for updates.

MTA CAC (Citizens Advisory Council) has scheduled a Commuter Bus HUB presentation for Thursday. Dec 1, 5:30pm at 1 South Van Ness, 7th Floor.

SFCTA CAC (SF County Transportation Authority Citizen Advisory Committee) has a presentation scheduled for Wednesday November 30,  6 PM at  1455 Market Street, 22nd Floor. Will follow-up to determine if this may change due to the holidays.

Many thanks for everyone who  wrote letters, emails and personally made public comment.

Shuttle Bus Report due November 15

Notes from the front lines:

Friday, Oct 21, 2016 at the MTA Board Policy and Governance Committee meeting, MTA Staff revealed the midyear review of the  Commuter Bus Program would be presented to the MTA Board on Tuesday, November 15, 2016 which usually begins at 1PM.

This midyear review was negotiated with the Board of Supervisors when the current one year program began on April 1, 2016.  Staff indicated the presentation would include general statistics,  (constant) complaints,  and overall program summary.   Staff indicated this is a living document (which I interpret as subject to constant change.)

No mention was made of the HUB System which as part of the BOS agreement.  Also, no mention  of the current resident housing displacement study caused by the Tech workers.

So, mark your calendar for Tuesday, November 15, 2016 at 1PM and weigh in with public comment.   The staff report/presentation should be available Friday, November 11, 2016 at 1PM (72 hours before the meeting).

Lastly, contact me if you are able to attend.
Thanks, Ed

The SFMTA can just pay the anti-displacement mapping project for their report on the displacement. They have already done the work and their work product is a living document.

 

 

Commuter Bus Stuck on Castro causes accident and 24th stops traffic for hours

Hi Alex:

24thCastro.jpg

Notified by an alert neighborhood network member just before 6PM on Thursday, September 15, 2016  of the accident at 24th and Castro.  I do not know the accident time but most likely about 5:30PMish.

SFO 475, placard 06-5092, a double deck bus,  was in the middle of the intersection with the vehicle to the right.  The large Commuter Bus was negotiating a right turn from westbound 24th to uphill northbound Castro.

The following northbound  Muni buses were delayed before 24th Street:
coach 5621 run 133
coach 5614 run 134
coach 5516 run 65

The following Commuter Buses were lined up westbound 24th Street:
Corinthian 247     12-0053
Loop 36               07-5106
WeDriveU 2357   05-5013
WeDriveU  10      05-5017
WeDriveU 262     05-5015
Storer  905            10-5007

WeDriveU 2613, 05-5055 was parked on northbound Castro immediately south of  24th Street in the middle of the street.  I can only assume this bus attempted to circumvent the 24th Street backup and operated on residential streets to get into this position.

When I arrived just after 6PM there was no traffic control at the intersection.  Traffic eastbound 24th was flowing but autos stuck between the Corporate Buses were attempting to drive around them.   Only observed  one Police Sargent about 6:15PM when the flat bed tow truck arrived.  He then departed.

The wide turning buses at this intersection cause “intersection stalemate”.  Bus turning in either direction cause autos to pull to the right, back up, or freeze in place unexpectedly facing an oncoming  bus in their lane.  The new crosswalks installed last year are severely  damaged by the buses turning up the steep Castro Street Hill.

With over 30 buses an hour, the traffic flow is negatively impacted on both streets.

Muni line  24 was delayed by three buses or  at least half an hour.  About 6:45PM I called 311 and the outbound (return southbound)  line 24 bus was five minutes 25 minutes and 29 minutes.  So I opted for a 48 bus for a short grocery shopping trip.

I assume this incident has been documented, as I did not observe the police making a report.   This may be considered a minor incident, but the vehicle was towed and created considerable disruption to Muni, with the neighborhood sharing in the daily pain of the very large Commuter Buses.

Two photos show the subject bus and the other photo shows the 24th Street backup.

Thank you,
Ed

Tech buses proliferating throughout Bay Area

By Erin Baldassari : eastbaytimes – excerpt – (includes graph)

If operated by a single agency, the private tech shuttles would be the seventh-largest transportation provider in the Bay Area. Source: Metropolitan Transportation Commission. 

On any given day, more than 800 “tech buses” negotiate narrow city streets and congested freeways to cart employees to offices throughout the Bay Area, according to a first-of-its-kind survey released Wednesday by a regional transportation planning agency.

There are so many of the large, privately owned shuttles operating in the Bay Area that if they all fell under a single agency, they would be the seventh-largest transportation provider in the region in terms of ridership, according to the Metropolitan Transportation Commission, which released the study in conjunction with the Bay Area Council, a business-sponsored advocacy organization. All told, the 35 shuttle services included in the survey collectively carried some 34,000 passengers a day, or more than 9.6 million people in 2014, the last year for which data was available.

It’s the first study to look comprehensively at the growing practice which ignited protests in San Francisco and in the East Bay over the past few years. Demonstrators have argued the buses are a symbol of gentrification and the employees who ride them to high-paid jobs in the South Bay are responsible for hastening the widening inequities in housing and pay in cities such as San Francisco and Oakland.

But there’s never been any good data on just how many buses are operating in the area because there’s no single government agency tasked with collecting that data, said John Goodwin, a spokesman for the transportation commission…

While organizations like the Anti-Eviction Mapping Project have detailed the increase in evictions in areas adjacent to tech bus stops in San Francisco, Adrian Covert, the Bay Area Council’s policy director, said the rise in private shuttles is a response to the housing shortage, not its cause. At the heart of the issue, Covert said, is the both the region’s booming economic success and its failure to build enough housing in areas where new jobs are being added.

“The private sector is responding by providing shuttles that go further distances to pick up employees,” Covert said. “The bad news is that we have to do this in the first place … because the housing stock is not keeping pace with demand.”… (more)