The Future of Livable Cities: Shared, Coordinated, Multi-Modal Services

masstransitmag – excerpt

Transit operators throughout the world are rolling out autonomous shuttle services, and in the process are developing solutions that can serve as playbooks for other agencies. Use cases for autonomous shuttles include extending service areas and offering multi-modal “last-mile” services from transit hubs to homes and offices.

Transport Pubics Fribourgeois (TPF), the public transport operator for the region of Fribourg in Switzerland, launched an autonomous shuttle service connecting the city’s public transit system with the Marly Innovation Center, a near 100-acre campus for technology companies that is about two miles from the nearest public transit station… (more)

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How does California really spend your gas tax dollars? See for yourself.

By Ben Christopher : calmatters – excerpt (includes interactive graphics)

https://www.wikibudgets.org/p/gvbll0rq1

The political battle over Proposition 6 boils down to a simple question: Where do all those gasoline taxes and car fees you pay actually go?

We tried to answer that question here. Believe it or not, this is the simple version...(more)

Is the Republican story about repealing the gas tax hike too good to be true?

By Ben Christopher : calmatters – excerpt (includes graphics)

California Republicans say that drivers can have smoother roads, more reliable public transit—and lower taxes.

In November, voters will get the chance to repeal a recent increase in the state gas tax and assorted vehicle fees. That tax hike—an extra 12 cents per gallon of gasoline, 20 cents per gallon of diesel, and two new vehicle registration fees—was signed into state law last year, part of a Democratic-led transportation package that directs an extra $5 billion per year toward the state’s dilapidated roads and highways. Making voters pay more at the pump is a tough political sell, but Democrats and other defenders of the law argue that our infrastructure is long overdue for an upgrade. The gas tax hasn’t been increased in over 20 years while the cost of highway construction has tripled. And, they say, you can’t get something for nothing.

Not so, say supporters of the repeal, Proposition 6. Chief among them is John Cox, the Republican running to be California’s next governor… (more)

RELATED:
How California Really Spends Gas Tax Dollars

“Transit Latest Trends”

By Howard Wong

Salesforce Transit Center:  Grand Opening Block Party, Saturday, August 11, 2018, 12pm-4pm, Mission Street (Beale & Second Street)—FREE

Downtown Caltrain Extension (DTX) Needs Acceleration:   Now, the long-promised Downtown Caltrain Extension (DTX) needs fast-tracked design and construction.  Without DTX, the shiny new Transit Center will lose its luster without 33,000 daily rail riders, generating commercial, operating and maintenance dollars.  We need 100% commitment to DTX. 

Citywide Transit Transformation:   Traffic congestion, air pollution, neighborhood revitalization and neglected transit needs, particularly in western/ southern San Francisco, must be addressed with sound decision-making..

FUTURISM:  Attached “Transit Latest Trends”,  Regards, Howard Wong, AIA

Muni meltdown 2018: Our transit service failed to plan – and, thereby, planned to fail

By Joe Eskenazi : missionlocal – excerpt

Muni is finding creative new ways to blow up the system…Documents obtained by Mission Local reveal shunting buses off their runs to serve as shuttles during the Twin Peaks tunnel closure has resulted in service cuts of up to 33 percent on San Francisco’s most crowded lines.

In the age of social media, riding on public transit isn’t what brings us together anymore in San Francisco. Rather, it’s complaining about riding on public transit that unites us all…

The current de facto cutbacks dwarf the 10 percent reductions that former Muni boss Nat Ford imposed nearly a decade ago. That was a scandal and an admission of failure but — and this is the important thing — he told everyone he was doing it. These Muni cuts have come in stealth…

But that’s just Issue No. 1: Even within City Hall, the scheduled two-month closure of one of Muni’s major transit arteries came as an unpleasant surprise; for all too many riders (and government officials) the first, last, and only news they got was this June 23 Chronicle article two days before the fact

There is, after all these  years, something of a feeling of Stockholm Syndrome among longtime advocates of Muni — and not just because a ride across town feels lengthy enough that you could get to Stockholm. In San Francisco, unlike other locales, public transit isn’t supposed to just be a ride of last resort for people who’d be in cars if they could afford them. But that feels less and less true with each passing year, as venture capital-subsidized transit services aim to cannibalize a public transit agency increasingly defined by its shambolic conditions

Twenty years ago, Mayor Frank Jordan was accused of allowing Muni to deteriorate prior to an attempted privatization move. In 2018, however, there’s an app for that

The city has never needed Muni more, but the system has never made itself less palatable — or available. Our calls to Mayor London Breed and her office have not yet been returned. But our City Hall sources tell us she’s angry — as she should be. Her appointee, District 5 Supervisor Vallie Brown, has called for an investigation. It remains to be seen what that investigation will turn up and what our new mayor will do.

But hopefully, unlike Muni, we hope she moves quickly…(more)

Amen to that. Let’s hope Mayor Breed moves quickly to BLOW UP THE SFMTA!. She owes them nothing. She owes the public an efficient transportation system that works now. She needs to fire the planners and overhaul the SFMTA from the top down to fix the system and regain the pubic trust in the system.

Or just allow them to sell the pubic streets to the carpet bagging corporate entities who admit to be in a power play for control of our streets and our transportation system. It is high time to give the voters a chance to decide how we want to live. Let’s hope our mayors and local officials put something substantial on the ballot soon. We are tired and fed up and losing interest in funding the next boondoggle scheme.

Uber shuts down its controversy-steeped self-driving truck effort to focus on autonomous cars

usatoday – excerpt

SAN FRANCISCO — Uber’s self-driving vehicle efforts are now entirely focused on automobiles, a technological challenge that could mean a financial windfall to ride-hailing companies.

The company recently announced it was shuttering its self-driving truck division, which after its founding in 2016 almost immediately became mired in controversy and was the subject of a lawsuit by rival self-driving car company, Google-owned Waymo.

“We recently took the important step of returning to public roads in Pittsburgh,” Eric Meyhofer, head of Uber Advanced Technologies Group, said in a statement provided to USA TODAY. “As we look to continue that momentum, we believe having our entire team’s energy and expertise focused on this effort is the best path forward.”

Uber’s self-driving efforts took a big hit earlier this year when one of its Volvo SUVs equipped with autonomous sensors failed to detect a pedestrian crossing the street in a Phoenix suburb. The Volvo’s safety driver also did not react in time, leading to the death of Elaine Herzberg, 49… (more)

This is another case of selling products that don’t exist while they are in an experimental design phase to get ahead of the perceived competition. Good to hear they are at least letting go of self-driving trucks.

Good riddance to Bay Area’s transportation czar

By Mercury News & East Bay Times Editorial Boards : mercurynews – excerpt

Replacement for MTC’s Steve Heminger should bring vision for region’s transportation and housing

Steve Heminger, the executive director of the Metropolitan Transportation Commission, announced Wednesday that he will end an 18-year reign by retiring early next year…

The region’s freeways are gridlocked. Public transit systems are in disarray. Commute times continue to increase. Heminger touts his agency as “action-oriented and project-based,” but that has translated into piecemeal construction, pathetic planning and a lack of long-range vision. The agency merely hands out money for one politically popular project after another with little sense of where it will all lead.

Meanwhile, Heminger flew around the world on top-priced airline tickets at public expense; deceived the public and flouted the law to use bridge toll money to fund his badly overbudget quarter-billion dollar regional government building on prime downtown San Francisco real estate; and masterminded his agency’s hostile takeover of the staff of the Association of Bay Area Governments.

The Bay Area deserves better in what is arguably the most important job shaping the region’s transportation and housing. The time for a road project here, a rail extension there and tax increases wherever they can be found is over….

He’s leaving now. It’s time for the commissioners to step up, to show leadership — to make one of the Bay Area’s most critical government hires. For the sake of Bay Area residents and the region’s economy, they need to get it right… (more)

 

Streetsblog Q&A with BART Board Candidate Janice Li

: streetsblog – excerpt

Late last week, Janice Li, Advocacy Director for the San Francisco Bicycle Coalition, stopped by City Hall to pull papers and officially begin her campaign for the District 8 seat of the BART Board. District 8, located entirely in San Francisco, includes Balboa Park, Montgomery, and Embarcadero Stations. Li has gotten off to a strong start, with endorsements from Assemblyman Phil Ting, Supervisor Jane Kim, and BART Board Directors Bevan Dufty and Lateefah Simon, among others. If she wins, she’ll be taking over the seat vacated by Nick Josefowitz, who is currently running for the San Francisco Board of Supervisors…

Streetsblog: So what can a bike advocate bring to the table for BART?

Janice Li: I don’t necessarily see myself as a bike advocate first and foremost. When I started at the San Francisco Bicycle Coalition, I had no professional planning experience. But I was brought on as someone who has done really deep community-based work, who has done membership development, and someone who has established leadership capacity at a nonprofit organization. My roots are community-based work, in marginalized communities in the West End of Buffalo. One of my first tasks was making inroads into Chinatown and other Chinese Communities in SF. There are so many things that are really important to me before I even get on a bike…

JL: A broader issue is we now have different modes of transportation: ferry, Caltrain, and a lot of private and privatized transportation. You can pay for the privilege not to see that. It’s problematic because then you get different tiers of transportation… you don’t want to deal with the smell of piss, [then you] go catch a Lyft, or get on your Chariot. That’s problematic because they’re pulling money away from public transit. I strongly believe that public transit is a public resource. Now you have BART competing with the Google shuttle–guess who’s going to win?

SB: The shuttle.

JL: Right. BART’s not going to win.

SB: But it doesn’t have to be that way…

SB: So is this primarily about resource allocation?

JL: I feel like it’s hard for me to just be like ‘I know all the ills.’ But past directors weren’t always on the ground seeing what was happening at the stations. So the state of stations not feeling safe or getting cleaned became an okay status quo. I think when Nick Josefowitz and Beven Dufty joined the BART board they pushed a lot of buttons, saying this may be your status quo, but this is an untenable status quo. I want to keep pushing ‘this is NOT okay.’…

JL: I’m unfamiliar with the technology or train operations. But I generally have a lot of concerns around autonomous technology. I would say what I would encourage BART to do is have a work plan for a more autonomous future.

SB: Fare and service integration?…

If I am elected to the BART board, I will find my way onto the MTC commission. But I think individual agencies need to take leadership and force integration if MTC won’t…

I have problems with public agencies, be it BART, or SFMTA, or Public Works, who think that delay is status quo so it’s fine. We have to say ‘we will hold you accountable,’ and if they miss their timelines, ‘why did you set that timeline in the first place,’ and ‘why are you okay with being wrong!’…

I think Lateefah Simon pushes BART staff to do full investigations. Again, that’s the way that BART directors can use their role and power of office to hold agencies accountable and they are great models… (more)

If you need more people on BART, for security reasons, dropping the driver makes no sense. With the presence of a driver, you have at least one human on each train. One set of eyes watching the passengers that should be able to put out an alert when there is a problem. One expert who knows how to deal with emergencies.

If you need more people on BART, for security reasons, dropping the driver makes no sense. With the presence of a driver, you have at least one human on each train. One set of eyes watching the passengers that should be able to put out an alert when there is a problem. One expert who knows how to deal with emergencies.

We will have to see who else is running, but Ms. Li seems to have some good ideas on how to improve the BART system.

 

 

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.

Lawsuit targets toll authority over $3 bridge toll increase

By Erin Baldassari : mercurynews – excerpt

SAN FRANCISCO — A taxpayers association, on behalf of three plaintiffs from Vallejo, Vacaville and Lodi, is challenging a recently approved $3 bridge toll increase in state court — a move that could potentially delay or eliminate the measure.

The Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association filed the suit Thursday in San Francisco Superior Court against the Bay Area Toll Authority (BATA). It challenges the notion that Regional Measure 3, which voters approved last month, is a “fee” requiring only a simple majority to pass, rather than a “tax,” which requires two-thirds voter approval.

The suit asks that the toll be invalidated…

That’s not a fair increase for the drivers who will be footing the bill for public transit or bicycle and pedestrian projects, which together account for roughly two-thirds of the planned projects, said Timothy Bittle, a lawyer for the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association. …

Prop 26, which voters approved in 2010, broadened the definition of a tax to include many payments previously considered to be fees, according to the Legislative Analyst’s Office. Fees that benefit the public broadly — rather than providing services directly to the fee payer, such as garbage fees or state park entrance fees — would be considered a tax under Prop 26, the analyst’s office said…(more)