The Bay Area’s Transit Dilemma: Too Many Agencies, Not Enough Riders

By Laura Bliss, Citylab : Bloomberg – excerpt

With budget gaps fraying a large and fragmented public transportation system, transit voices in San Francisco and Oakland push for a single regional operator.

As public transit agencies across the U.S. grapple with budget holes, safety concerns, and ongoing economic uncertainty, a number of policymakers, advocates and officials in the San Francisco Bay Area are calling for the region’s numerous and disjointed systems to join together for better interoperability. Bus and rail operators must coordinate pandemic response plans and reduce barriers to access, or riders will suffer, they say… (more)

 

Golden Gate Bridge District Receives $30.2M Grant from CARES Act

By Bay City News : nbcbayarea – excerpt

The funding will support the district’s transit and ferry services during the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic.

The Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act included a $30.2 million grant for the Golden Gate Bridge, Transportation District, the U.S. Department of Transportation said Friday.

The funding will support the district’s transit and ferry services during the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic. The grant is part of roughly $25 billion in CARES Act grants allocated to public transit agencies across the country.

“This historic $25 billion in grant funding will ensure our nation’s public transportation systems can continue to provide services to the millions of Americans who continue to depend on them,” Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao said…(more)

30 million dollars to support a few months work of ferry service that is running limited service? “Until further notice, Golden Gate Ferry will operate reduced weekday services and NO weekend services.” There is not much traffic on the bridge these days. How much does it cost to operate this service each month?

Supes send message to transit agency board by ousting director

By Jerrold Chinn : sfbayca – excerpt

Supervisors say they are sending a message to the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency’s Board of Directors by ousting Director Cristina Rubke.

The board voted 6-5 Tuesday against Rubke’s reappointment — Supervisors Hillary Ronen, Sandra Fewer, Matt Haney, Dean Preston, Shamann Walton and Aaron Peskin voted in dissent…

Peskin, who plans to introduce a charter amendment next week that would restrict the SFMTA board authority, said:

“The only check and balance that we have really comes through the nomination and confirmation process and I think that sending a message not only to the MTA commission… but to other commissions, that when the duly elected Board of Supervisors comes up with a policy urgence, that policy urgence really must be heeded.”…(more)

COVID-19 Developments & Response

By SFMTA online: https://www.sfmta.com/projects/covid-19-developments-response

COVID-19 Developments & Response
We are closely monitoring what is happening with the novel coronavirus (COVID-19). Please continue to check this page for the latest updates…

Muni Service: Please do not ride Muni if you are feeling ill, except as necessary to seek medical care after consulting with your medical provider. We’re also asking customers to only take Muni for essential trips that can’t be made by walking, biking or other modes of transportation.

Backdoor boarding is now required on all vehicles, except for passengers in wheelchairs or with other accessibility needs. If you need assistance, please request to board from the front door and an operator will help you access the ramp or the kneeler.

Muni bus service is currently running a reduced schedule:
Get details on which Muni routes are currently affected

Due to changing ridership, and in order to prioritize resources during the shelter-in-place order, the following additional service changes will be implemented:

Current Muni Service Modifications

Monday, April 6

  • Customers should prepare for delays across the Muni system both Monday and Tuesday. We expect to be below necessary staffing levels to provide adequate service. This gap will cause missed runs and delays that may not be accurately reflected in digital predictions. Please do not make trips unless they are essential. If you need to make an essential trip, plan to use other options or allow extra time when riding Muni.

Beginning Tuesday, April 7

  • Service will be temporarily discontinued on seven routes that are experiencing low ridership or have nearby lines that provide similar service and connections.
  • Routes to be discontinued include: 2 Clement, 3 Jackson, 5 Fulton, 7 Haight, 10 Townsend, 21 Hayes and 31 Balboa.

Beginning Wednesday, April 8

  • Service will be further reduced; remaining service will focus on our 17 most-used lines. This core network will provide service within one mile of all San Franciscans. This approach allows Muni to continue to serve San Francisco’s medical facilities and focuses on equity to ensure service for our customers most reliant on transit. The frequency of buses will vary by line so that lines experiencing some crowding will have more frequent service than others.
  • The 17 core routes that will remain in service, with some modifications include: N Judah Bus, L Taraval Bus, T Third Bus, 1 California, 8 Bayshore, 9 San Bruno, 14 Mission, 14R Mission Rapid, 19 Polk, 22 Fillmore, 24 Divisadero, 25 Treasure Island, 29 Sunset, 38 Geary, 38R Geary Rapid, 44 O’Shaughnessy, 49 Van Ness/Mission
  • More information on these service changes is on our blog

Map of service starting Wednesday, April 8

Paratransit

Paratransit service continues to operate as normal so that customers can travel for essential needs as defined by the Public Health Order. We ask riders to cancel any non-essential trips. If you are a paratransit customer and you need to cancel a previously scheduled SF Access trip, please call 415.285.6945 as soon as possible.

Effective Wednesday, March 18, the SF Paratransit Office will operate with limited capacity during regular business hours (Monday – Friday, 9:00 a.m. – 4:45 p.m.). Teller window hours are subject to change.

During this time, reduced staffing will be available to accept cash payments for monthly taxi debit card allotments only.

Parking Enforcement

Effective on Tuesday, March 17 for the duration of the shelter-in-place order, the SFMTA will not ticket for mechanical street cleaning. Street cleaning tickets issued on March 17 will be waived. However, it is crucial that we still clean our streets to prevent trash buildup and local flooding. Please still move your car for street cleaning if you can.

Enforcement will also be temporarily suspended for the following:

  • 72-hour parking limit and towing
  • All time limit parking (e.g., 1-hour, 2-hour, etc.)
  • Residential Permit Parking (RPP) permits
  • Commuter shuttles
  • Peak-hour towaway zones
  • Street cleaning

The SFMTA will prioritize enforcing parking rules that impact health and safety:

  • Fire hydrant zones
  • Red and yellow zones; and “No Stopping” or “No Parking” zones
  • White passenger loading zones, except in front of schools while they are out of session
  • Blocked driveways, double parking and parking on sidewalks
  • Parking in bike or transit lanes

Parking Meters: Given the significant shifts in parking demand, the city is implementing a temporary rate change for all parking meters citywide beginning on March 18 through the period of the Public Health Order. Time limits are also being waived on meters citywide, and is expected to be fully implemented by March 29.

By Tuesday, March 24, all meters will be reduced to their base rates through April 7:

  • $0.50/hour for vehicle parking
  • $0.10/hour for motorcycle parking

We are maintaining a minimal fee to ensure there continues to be turnover around essential services, such as grocery stores, medical facilities and banks.

Parking Garages

To minimize risk to the public and our garage staff, the SFMTA has closed some city-owned parking garages and limited others to monthly pass-holders only. We are prioritizing maintaining access to garages that are near essential services like medical facilities or markets.

The following garages will be closed to the public until further notice:

  • Golden Gateway Garage (call 415-956-8003 for assistance)
  • Ellis-O’Farrell Garage (call 415-765-9069 for assistance)
  • Moscone Center Garage (call 415-765-9069 for assistance)

These garages will be open only to monthly pass holders:

  • Japan Center Annex Garage (call 415-956-8003 for assistance)
  • Performing Arts Garage (call 415-956-8003 for assistance)
  • Kezar Lot (call 415-956-8003 for assistance)
  • 16th and Hoff Garage (call 415-956-8003 for assistance)
  • Lombard Garage (call 415-956-8003 for assistance)
  • 7th and Harrison Lot (call 415-956-8003 for assistance)
  • Polk-Bush Garage – monthy pass holders with 24/7 access only (call 415-956-8003 for assistance)

The following garages are currently open to the public:

  • Zuckerberg General Hospital Garage
  • St. Mary’s Square Garage
  • 5th and Mission Garage
  • Sutter and Stockton Garage
  • Union Square Garage
  • Civic Center Garage
  • North Beach Garage
  • Vallejo Street Garage
  • Pierce Garage
  • Portsmouth Square Garage
  • Japan Center Garage
  • Mission-Bartlett Garage

Taxis and Ramp Taxis

Taxi services continue to operate as an essential service. ​Individual taxi companies are following best practices to minimize the risks of transmission. To request a taxi you can continue to hail them in the street or at the nearest taxi stand. You can also search the taxi directory or the wheelchair accessible ramp taxi directory for links to apps and contact information. During this time, the Emergency Ride Home program provided by official taxis will continue for individuals who work in San Francisco and are fulfilling essential job functions.

Taxi Drivers: Please note the Taxi Services Window is closed until further notice. Please see our website for more information or call 415.701.4400

Bikeshare and Scooter Share

We are deferring to operator discretion as to whether they continue to operate, and ​sharing best practices with them to minimize the risk of transmission of the virus. Please visit the websites and apps of the individual companies for more information on availability during the COVID-19 shelter-in-place.

Fines and Fees

Until further notice the SFMTA will take the following the actions:

  • Suspend new late penalties on citations
  • Extend deadlines for submitting citation protests
  • Extend citation/boot/tow hearings deadlines – you may request 48-hour tow hearing at hearingsgeneral@sfmta.com or call 415.503.8453
  • Extend deadlines for active community service programs
  • Extend deadlines for completing active payment plans
  • No longer forward additional delinquent citations to the Department of Motor Vehicles or Special Collections

Fares

No Lifeline passes will be sold for the months of April and May. Lifeline IDs, regardless of the monthly sticker displayed, are valid as proof of payment.

Customer Service Center

Effective Thursday, March 19, 2020, the Customer Service Center at 11 South Van Ness Avenue will be temporarily closed.

Get info on how to access SFMTA services(more)

FASTER Announcement Re: 2020

via email

Greetings BATWG friends,

I hope you are all healthy and safe.

I wanted you to know about a change in the timeline for FASTER Bay Area. As you know June 24 was already an incredibly tight deadline for state legislation, especially as FASTER is proposing a wide variety of transformative policy changes. With COVID-19 that timeline is no longer feasible. FASTER will continue to work towards passing legislation to authorize a Bay Area ballot initiative but we will no longer be proposing that it be eligible for the November 2020 ballot.  Please see the attached FASTER statement for more details.

FASTER has developed a framework and a proposal for a regional transit network plan that we believe can be truly transformative and will form the foundation for our work moving forward. . We are releasing these in the attached documents   Feel free to let me know if you have any questions.

Best wishes to you, your families and your communities as this crisis unfolds.

Stay safe and know that we need to continue to watch this program.

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)

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?

Mobility report shows bike trips on the decline in SF

By Joe Fitzgerald Rodriguez : sfexaminer – excerpt

San Franciscans may be spurning two-wheeled trips.

Nearly 20,000 fewer daily bicycle trips were taken in 2017 compared to 2016, data revealed Monday by The City’s newest “Mobility Trends” report shows.

The dwindling bike numbers look even worse when compared to The City’s record-setting year for bike trips, 2015, which reached a height of 126,000 average bicycle trips per day.

By 2016 those average daily trips dropped to 115,000, then down to 95,000 by 2017…

While solo bike trips in The City continue to fall, more people are hopping into cars and causing record-level traffic congestion, according to the mobility report. Muni ridership remains relatively stable…(more)

Valencia bike shop claims their business in on decline. We suggest a talk with the merchants on Valencia and other bike-friendly streets to see which industries are thriving and which are wilting under the combined weight of bike lanes and TNCs.

 

 

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.

Will new East Bay transit option save you money?

abc7news – excerpt

SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) – On Thursday, Jan. 10, 2019 ferry service debuts between Richmond and San Francisco.

It’s the newest route on the San Francisco Bay Ferry, which has seen ridership increase 94 percent since 2012. Ferries are scheduled to go to and from Richmond only during commute hours.

TIMELINE: Bay Area bridge toll increases

A one way trip for riders paying cash costs $9.00. Clipper card riders pay less – $6.75. Here’s how that cost compares to other options. Each is calculated for a single adult, using a Clipper card, traveling one-way during commute hours.

RELATED: Commuters happy to have new ferry service from Richmond to San Francisco

  • BART: from Richmond station to San Francisco’s Embarcadero station costs $5.30
  • AC Transit: from Richmond to San Francisco means taking at least two buses, maybe three depending on your starting point. One local bus and one transfer to a transbay bus costs $5.40. Two local buses and a transbay transfer costs $7.65.
  • Driving: from Richmond to San Francisco across the Bay Bridge means paying a $7.00 bridge toll during commute hours.

The costs don’t reflect the convenience factor – whether stations are close to your starting or ending points, the timing of departures and arrivals, and other practical considerations that Bay Area commuters balance when deciding how to get to and from work… (more)

I don’t know how many people will be concerned about the cost. Convenience is worth a lot these days, and scheduling is probably the more important. Parking in the lot may also play a role in deciding whether or not to take the ferry.