Lyft and Amtrak now let passengers book rides to and from the train station

by Nick Statt : theverge – excerpt

Another business links up with Lyft, and not Uber

Lyft is partnering with Amtrak to help train passengers get to and from the train station. The new deal will let you book a car with the ride-hailing service from within Amtrak’s mobile app. If you’re a new Lyft rider, using the promo code “AMTRAKLYFT” grants you $5 discounts on the first four rides, regardless of whether they’re booked through the Amtrak app. Lyft says its service reaches 97 percent of all Amtrak riders in the US..
The business lingo Lyft is targeting here is known as first- and last-mile service, and it’s a big market opportunity for ride-hailing apps. Both Lyft and Uber allow people to get around without having to rely on their own vehicles or public transport, but neither can really solve the problem of having to get to and from larger transportation hubs like airports and train stations. The ride-hailing industry fought vigorously, and largely succeeded, at muscling airports into allowing drop-offs and pickups. Now, it appears like trains are presenting a new battlefront for Lyft and Uber to control how consumers travel…

Lyft and Uber want to control how you get to and from every transportation hub.

Most poll respondents don’t plan to ride SMART

By Stuff: ARGUS-COURIER – excerpt

Last Mile Issues require parking options

A majority of respondents to an online Argus-Courier poll said that they would not use the SMART train for their daily commute.

Here are some comments:

“Aside from the fact there is a serious lack of parking near the train station, the train goes nowhere near where I work in San Rafael. Walking or taking a bus to or from the train station will not work either. I will continue to drive.”

“I’d like to, but that may change depending on price, in particular, as well as timing with the Larkspur ferry. ”

“I am retired but want to ride the train and see the sights once all the bugs are worked out.”

“I do not and do not know anyone who will. This train has cost us millions in taxpayer dollars and has woken me up several times as it blows its horns.”

“I go into San Francisco. It is not time or cost effective, including the incomplete route to the ferry.”

If the transportation authorities quit fighting and added sufficient parking to their list of amenities for ALL public transit stations and hubs, they would not have the problem of a sinking ridership. There is no excuse for this lack of parking at the stations other than an out-dated notion that people can and should be controlled by a “wiser” government.

SFMTA approves dedicated bus lanes for Geary Boulevard

By Jerold Chinn : sfbay – excerpt

San Francisco transit officials on Tuesday gave a key approval to a $300 million bus rapid transit project that will change the way Muni runs the 38-Geary local, rapid and express routes through the Geary corridor.

The San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency Board of Directors approved the state environmental review report and adopted the recommended “Hybrid Alternative” design of the project.

Commissioners of the San Francisco County Transportation Authority approved the same report and recommended design in January.

The project will dedicate red transit-only lanes from Gough to Stanyan streets along the curb edge, then in the median from Stanyan Street to 28th Avenue, and then back to curbside from 28th to 34th avenues.

Transit-only lanes already exist on the downtown portion of the Geary corridor, but will have improved bus stops as part of the project…

The project has had opposition from merchants worried about construction hurting businesses and critics of the project who have said the project is costly.

San Franciscan’s For Sensible Transit filed a lawsuit earlier this year against the project citing that transportation planners did not study in full detail the no build option in the environmental review report. Other concerns included construction costs and construction impacts.

Bob Starzel, director of the San Franciscan’s For Sensible Transit, said the group does not like the way the project has been planned. He advised the SFMTA board to not “rubber stamp” the project:

“The only way we could talk you is by a lawsuit. We prefer to do it in a more enabled way.”…

After Tuesday’s approval, Brisson said staff will work on the detailed designs of the project, which includes the roadway and right-of-way changes. The SFMTA plans to seek public outreach on the detailed designs.

Transit officials also expect to the complete the federal environmental review process later this year.

Brisson expects to bring back a legislative package to the Board of Directors of the proposed roadway and right-of-way changes in early 2018… (more)

Why does such a big story have little press so far, and no comments. Citizens are looking into how the EIR is approved without a project description.

Why are we spending $300 million dollars on the consolidated center lane when the project manager admits that the rapid and local lines will share bus stops after the two lines are consolidated in the center lane and the only no time savings will come from eliminating a few stops.

Taxpayers should request an explanation for spending $300 million dollars on a complex center lane when removal of a few bus stops will cost nothing and get the same results.

As the number of tents on the sidewalk mounts and crime increases, keep in mine that the red paint applications trigger an annual maintenance expense that will become a part of the growing SFMTA budget each year, tell your supervisors what you prefer to do with your tax dollars.

This project will not proceed without federal dollars so be sure to weigh in with your federal representatives and watch the state reps as well. To better understand how these projects are coming to our streets, read the following document: http://livablecity.org/wp-content/uploads/2013/08/tlc_path.pdf

Which city does Transit Better – LA or SF?

I asked a transit expert to compare the two cities. Here is the response.

TAR:  LA and SF are two of the worst, overall, in the U.S.  If you look at
the rankings, LA is almost always the absolutely worst.

However, as a practical matter, it comes down to particular commutes in each
place.

Transit is different in LA.  To a large extent, the only place where transit
can really be competitive is peak-hour commutes to the central business
district — and LA has, by far, the smallest CBD relative to urbanized area
population in the U.S., if not the world.  Also, believe it or not, greater
LA is, by far, the densest urbanized area in the U.S. and is almost dead
last in freeway center-line miles and total road miles per capita (I win a
lot of bar bets on these two).  But, much of LA has a very good grid system
of arterial streets and LA-DOT is world-class, particularly on traffic
signal progressions and the like.

So, in a strange way, commuting is better in LA than in SF.  Because we
don’t have a single huge downtown that a whole lot of people are trying to
get to, there is a much better work/live balance, and people have shorter
commutes to the distributive downtowns and other disbursed work locations.

Also, Greater LA is one of the poorest regions in the nation; we’ve just
about kicked out the last of the middle class and the good middle class
jobs, so we have some very rich and a lot of very, very poor – even more so
than in SF, which is saying something.  So, the bus system is very highly
utilized, frequently with the highest average load factor in the industry
(fighting New York City and Honolulu for that “honor”).

But, while SF started with a very good – but very old – rail system, which
was then added to by BART, starting fifty years ago, LA lost the last of
what was the finest rail system in the nation in 1961 – and then tried for
years to get something going.  Finally, in 1980, the rail proponents passed
a one-half cent sales tax to begin building rail – which was supposed to
provide eleven rail lines all over the County.  Thirty-seven years later,
and three more half-cent sales taxes (Los Angeles County Metropolitan
Transportation Authority gets over $3.5 BILLION a year in sales tax revenues
that no one outside the County has any say over) – and we have about half
of that rail system built.

Unfortunately, this has come at the expense of the bus system, which has
suffered through multiple fare increases (when the median bus rider
HOUSEHOLD income is $15,000, trying to afford even one thirty-day pass at
$100 is a rather large segment of income) and reductions in service, so
total ridership has been going steadily down – even after $16 billion spent
on building new rail lines (and that’s just for the ones that have been
completed).

If you want more detail, here’s a link to something I prepared about fifteen
months ago:

http://demographia.com/db-rubin-la-transit.pdf

The only thing that has really changed since this was written is that two
more rail lines have been finished and went into service, another half-cent
sales tax was passed, even more rail lines have been started – and
ridership has continued to drop.

Sad, isn’t it?

Tom Rubin

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

To satisfy critics, bridge district shrinks size of controversial Sausalito ferry terminal proposal

By Joe Fitzgerald Rodriguez : sfexaminer – excerpt

Sausalito Harbor photo by Zrants

A project to revamp the ferry terminal in Sausalito and planned upgrades to San Francisco’s docks, above, along with Larkspur, are intended to smooth boarding for wheelchair users under the Americans with Disabilities Act. 

An embattled $11 million project to rebuild and revamp an aging Sausalito Ferry terminal will shrink to meet concerns of Sausalito neighbors, as the project faced further critique last week.

And the project may face other obstacles as well, as The City of Sausalito sent a letter essentially barring construction crews from a long-planned staging area.

The Golden Gate Bridge, Highway and Transportation District voted to mitigate the size of the revamped terminal last Friday, after working in cooperation with The City of Sausalito… (more)

 

 

SAN FRANCISCO CAN HAVE A SIMPLE, WORLD-CLASS TRANSIT SYSTEM

By Howard Wong, AIA SaveMuni


With a population of 4.6 million people and an area of 3,800 square miles, Melbourne’s transit mode share isn’t particularly high but the system activates the city.  Ubiquitous trams reinforce Melbourne’s historic character, including a free tram zone in the Central Business District and a free tram loop that links railroad stations, harbor, convention center, stadium, Parliament, museums, stores, arcades, alleyways….  For San Francisco’s short distances within its 49 square miles, the palpable lesson is that bus rapid networks, trams and ferries can activate streets and neighborhoods—quickly.  Free Shuttle Bus Loops could link downtown to the waterfront, to neighborhoods and to transit hubs—for a fraction of the cost of subways and big infrastructure projects.

CLEAN TECHNICA  How Much Would It Cost Nowadays To Build A Massive Tram System Like Melbourne’s? https://cleantechnica.com/2014/12/31/melbourne-tram-system-huge/  Melbourne, Australia, is home to what is by far the largest streetcar system currently in operation in the world — one that makes those found in the US cities where there is one at all seem like a fair ride in comparison. The urban streetcar system comprises roughly 249 kilometers of double-track and 487 trams in total.

You’re probably getting jealous now, and for good reason. So a good question to ask would be, why doesn’t the city I live in have such great public transportation infrastructure? And how much would it cost for it to develop a similar system?

The main takeaway from this all, though, is that maintaining and/or rebuilding or renovating legacy infrastructure is usually the most economical approach to public transportation infrastructure buildout… by far.  It’s just too bad that so many of these quite effective tram systems (which once covered the US) were done away with during the wild embrace of the personal automobile during the last century.

MAP:  Melbourne Tram Network
https://static.ptv.vic.gov.au/siteassets/PDFs/Maps/Network-maps/Tram-Network.pdf

TRAMS OF AUSTRALIA:  Melbourne’s Tram History
http://www.railpage.org.au/tram/melbhist.html After the Second World War, when all that was shiny and new (like the motor car) was embraced, and all that was established and old-fashioned (like the tram) was rejected, Melbourne alone stood against the tide. The Chairman of the MMTB, Sir Robert Risson, far from having a taste for tramway closures like his opposite numbers elsewhere, stoutly defended the trams against a hostile press. He upgraded track by setting it in mass concrete (when this was still politically possible) and even the Government could see that removing trams would be a waste of the investment. He argued that trams would always attract more patronage than an equivalent bus service, and proved it in 1956 when the Bourke St bus service (which had replaced a cable tram line) was upgraded to a tram in time for the Olympic games, despite the wailing of the newspapers.

No doubt the cause was aided by an intransigent union, who were so determined that any bus which replaced a tram must have two-man crewing, that the economics was not really weighted in favour of the bus anyway. The other factor in Melbourne’s favour that is often mentioned is the wide main streets, which meant that there was less obstruction of cars than in other cities.

By the mid 1970s, Melbourne could see how lucky she had been not to follow the fashions of the ’50s, and even the conservative government, normally given to starving public transport to death, agreed to the purchase of new trams. These were the Z-class, which are a mixed success, but were good enough to be followed by the A-class and B-class trams in the 1980s.

DAILY KOS:  Bernie Sanders cracks up as Trump praises Australian healthcare after his evil bill http://www.dailykos.com/story/2017/05/05/1659272/-Bernie-Sanders-cracks-up Donald Trump praises Australian Universal Healthcare After watching the clip, both Bernie Sanders and Chris Hayes laughed almost uncontrollably. “Wait a minute Chris,” Sanders said. “The president has just said it. That’s great. Let’s take a look at the Australian healthcare system. Maybe let’s take a look at the Canadian healthcare system or systems throughout Europe.

COMMONWEALTH FUND:  Health Care System and Health Policy in Australia
http://www.commonwealthfund.org/grants-and-fellowships/fellowships/australian-american-health-policy-fellowship/health-care-system-and-health-policy-in-australia
The Australian health care system provides universal access to a comprehensive range of services, largely publicly funded through general taxation. Medicare was introduced in 1984 and covers universal access to free treatment in public hospitals and subsidies for medical services; Medicare is now sometimes used to describe the Australian health care system though precisely it refers to access to hospitals (hospital Medicare) and medical care (medical Medicare).  Health indicators are strong, for example Australian life expectancy is the third longest in the OECD.

SAN FRANCISCO CAN BE ONE OF THE MOST LIVABLE CITIES IN THE WORLD

By Howard Wong, AIA SaveMuni

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Australia’s Melbourne has similarities with San Francisco’s urban genetics—art, culture, diversity, innovation, quirkiness, scale, character, history…. But Melbourne has been ranked #1 as the world’s most livable city for six years in a row—while San Francisco’s ranking has dropped.  No American city ranks in the top tier of livable cities.  But San Francisco has a spectacular beauty and geographic uniqueness that should surpass any waterfront city in the world.  Learning from Melbourne, I was struck by the around-the-clock vitality—networks of pedestrian alleyways, bars, cafés, coffee houses, small businesses, historic arcades, public art, parks and tram transit.  Melbourne seems to have a democratic distribution of benefits to all its citizens—a fine-grained urban grittiness that charms and entices.  Such democratic quality of life issues should be discussed—like at the D3DC forum below.

ECONOMIST:  The World’s Most Livable Cities  http://www.economist.com/blogs/graphicdetail/2016/08/daily-chart-14
Liveability is declining in a fifth of cities surveyed. The index, measured out of 100, considers 30 factors related to safety, health care, educational resources, infrastructure and the environment to calculate scores for 140 cities. Those that score best tend to be mid-sized cities in wealthier countries. Melbourne tops the list for the sixth year in a row (see chart, right), and six of the top ten cities are in Australia or Canada. Some American cities, including Atlanta, San Francisco and Chicago have also dropped down the rankings after spikes in civil unrest.

THE ABC:  Melbourne ranked world’s most liveable city for sixth consecutive year by EIU http://www.abc.net.au/news/2016-08-18/melbourne-ranked-worlds-most-liveable-city-for-sixth-year/7761642  The EIU [Economist Intelligence Unit] index scores 140 of the world’s major cities in healthcare, education, stability, culture, environment and infrastructure.  Melbourne scored 97.5 out of 100, one basis point more than Austria’s Vienna.  Canada’s Vancouver and Toronto ranked third and fourth respectively. Adelaide was rated equal fifth most livable city, tied with Calgary, Canada.

Muni to pull $26 million from pedestrian safety projects for bus yard improvements

By : sfexaminer – excerpt

The San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency isn’t spending its voter-approved bond money fast enough, so it’s redirecting funding to Muni projects that are ready to go — right now.

Nearly $26 million in bond money that will not be immediately spent on some portions of the “Muni Forward” program to boost bus and train service, the Better Market Street project and other pedestrian safety projects will instead flow to Muni facility improvements.

That’s the upshot of a tussle between the agency that runs Muni and the Board of Supervisors, which criticized the agency previously for not spending its 2014 voter-approved $500 million in bond funding fast enough…

Fast forward to Tuesday’s SFMTA Board of Directors meeting, and directors approved pulling $26 million in bond money from projects that are taking longer than expected to come to fruition, and instead spending that funding on projects that are shovel-ready…

Many of those Muni projects were delayed as communities — and some members of the Board of Supervisors — called for more public input to reshape them. Some of those delayed projects include Better Market Street, a plan to make Market street a robust public space with urban plazas, and pedestrian and bicycle safety upgrades…(more)

Could this be a good thing? A careful analysis of the improvements so far reveal an alarming trend of unfinished projects, including no signage to direct riders to the new placement of stops. We heard there is no marked bus stop at General Hospital for the last week. The public is alarmed over the lack of respect City Hall is showing to our Fire Department and emergency responders.

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.

 

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