California’s Bay Area Prepares for a Driverless Future

by Erin Baldassari : mercurynews – excerpt

Six cities in the region are getting $5 million to fund pilot programs aimed at integrating autonomous vehicles and solving general traffic congestion problems.

(TNS) —  SAN FRANCISCO — Within two to three years, bicyclists in Emeryville and Los Gatos will be able to download an app to get more green lights at intersections. Patients at the Veterans Administration Palo Alto Medical Center will be hopping on an autonomous shuttle for appointments. And, within a few more years, BART riders in Dublin will have a driverless vehicle picking them up and dropping them off at the station.

It’s all part of an effort to prepare the Bay Area for a future with self-driving cars, said Robert Rich, a planner at the Metropolitan Transportation Commission (MTC), the region’s transportation planning agency. When that future comes, cars will be expected to communicate not just with each other, but also with traffic signals and other infrastructure, he said… (more)

Companies Will Likely Have First Dibs on Fully Autonomous Vehicles

by JC Reind : govtech– excerpt

Top automakers say the first generation of the technology will be used for commercial purposes, not by the general public.

(TNS) — LAS VEGAS – Auto companies at this week’s CES tech convention affirmed plans to have their first true self-driving cars in production by 2021 — or in some cases earlier.

But don’t expect to see these vehicles on any dealership lots.

This first generation of autonomous vehicles will, in most cases, not be offered for sale or lease to the general public, but instead would be reserved for commercial use by ride-hailing fleets and delivery services… (more)

 

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Uber ‘thumbing its nose at the law’: San Francisco city attorney

Lyft good, Uber bad.

So says San Francisco’s city attorney, who’s accusing Uber of getting up to its old tricks amid a probe into the San Francisco operations of the two ride-hailing firms headquartered in the city.

“For a company that is supposedly changing its culture, thumbing your nose at the law is a funny way of showing that you’re now a good corporate citizen,” city attorney Dennis Herrera said in a statement Wednesday.

Uber on Wednesday disputed Herrera’s characterization of its actions, saying it cooperates with regulators to comply with the law.

Herrera launched his public attack after purported stonewalling by Uber as the city attorney’s office seeks company data going back to 2013 for an investigation into whether Uber and Lyft have been obeying state and local laws.

While Lyft initially resisted allowing some of its records to be examined by experts from city government outside the attorney’s office, it has now agreed to permit that, Herrera said.

“This is a reasonable agreement that preserves Lyft’s trade secrets while advancing our investigation into whether these companies violated the rights of ordinary San Franciscans,” Herrera said…(more)

Los Angles Attempts to Fix Pavement Problems for Cyclists

by Bethany Klein : norcalnews – excerpt

More and more people in California are beginning to see the benefits of bicycling. The bicycle is one of the most efficient machines ever made. Using very little energy, people are able to propel themselves to work or play. Bicycling is also inexpensive and great for the body. Unfortunately, not all cities are prepared to handle the recent surge in cyclists on the streets and in parks. For example, Los Angeles recently admitted a need for greater attention to its bike paths, and the city has a plan to fix them…

This means a dozen more staff members are planned to be hired in the coming budget year. These staff members and the repairs they will accomplish will cost at least $2.5 million annually. However, the costs might be able to be reduced by hiring construction works meant to repair streets a few months early. These workers could then accomplish a “biking path blitz” before tackling their regular work of repairing highways and city streets… (more)

The city of LA appears to be run by the same 1% that finances our political campaigns in northern California. The Bike Blitz pushes gentrification and displacement as it first targets low income “blighted” areas and then tackles the single family homes of middle class citizens. At a Town Hall I believe I heard Senator Wiener say, “There is nothing for the middle class.” What does he mean by that?

For more details on these statement regarding the use of cyclists and particularly bike share rentals, see the following article and you can do your own investigations into how this is playing out around the country as the land grab of the 21st century commences. This will put the gold rush to shame.

SFMTA is using taxpayer dollars to kill the public transportation system the way GM is accused of killing rail transit. SFMTA is handing over pubic

Love Citi Bike? You Have A Real Estate Developer To Thank

https://metermadness.wordpress.com/2017/09/06/love-citi-bike-you-have-a-real-estate-developer-to-thank/

Two-mile-long Van Ness bus lane project faces two-year delay

By : sfexaminer – excerpt

The two-mile-long Van Ness Bus Rapid Transit project is facing an almost six-month construction delay.

Piling onto other recent delays, the latest setback will stretch the service’s debut from January 2018 to mid-2020, according to city documents… (more)

The SFMTA doesn’t care about completion. They just want to get their hands on as many streets as possible to tear them all up at once. The more delays the longer they can gridlock the streets. Digging holes is the goal. The public is not amused. Complaints from constituents in all the districts are forcing changes at the SFMTA. The Supervisors may not be able to fix the homeless crisis but they can pressure the SFMTA to listen to us.

Whether you read the article or not, read the comments. They are really good.

BART Increases Fares, Cracks Down on Evaders in New Year

By Sam Brock and Bay City News : sfbaynews – excerpt

Fares are going up for BART riders in the new year, with everyone paying 2.7 percent more than in 2017, and those trying to pay nothing to ride the train are in for some steep penalties, according to the transit agency.

The minimum fare will rise to $2 for adults, $1 for youth between ages 5 and 18, and 75 cents for senior or disabled Clipper card users.

The agency also unveiled its new fare evasion policy Monday, as it tries to prevent millions in unpaid fares from walking out the door.

BART said fare inspectors will go car-by-car, passenger-by-passenger, checking tickets and doling out $75 fines to adults and $55 fines to minors…(more)

Your very friendly BART has growing plans. They are growing more employees who need to justify their positions by handing out tickets. Better hope the scanners work better than the Muni ones do.

Can the British man who saved Toronto’s subway help New York City?

By Jamiles Lartey : theguardian – excerpt

Andy Byford, a veteran of Transport for London, Sydney’s RailCorp and Toronto Transit Commission, takes ‘the biggest challenge in the most wonderful city’

Sixteen years ago, former New York transport boss Bob Kiley was recruited from across the pond to rescue the London Underground “New York Tough Guy to Run Tube,” announced the Evening Standard.

Now the reverse is happening. Andy Byford – who grew up in Plymouth and is a veteran of Transport for London, Sydney’s RailCorp and the Toronto Transit Commission – arrives to take on New York’s rammed and creaking transport system, which this year suffered a “summer of hell”. Long-deferred repairs wrought havoc on the already overburdened system, leaving passengers stranded on sweltering platforms and captive in immobilized subway cars…

This is the future of world class cities? Crowded, crumbling, sweltering subway cars?

He has already floated potentially unpopular ideas, like an end to 24-hour service on some lines, and closing others for repairs. “It’s a harsh message but there will be no gain without a bit of pain,” Byford said…

“He basically was looking for, in the short term, quick wins,” said Steve Munro, a veteran Toronto transit activist and blogger. “That’s the basic thing any new manager does: they come in and want to be seen as doing something. So he went after the stuff that was relatively easy and cheap to implement.”…

How do we go from the SFMTA’s billion dollar scam projects to quick, cheap and easy solutions? Maybe we need a new chief that thinks that way?

“There’s a reason why that equipment is under strain. It’s old and it’s trying to carry more people than it was ever designed for,” Byford said…(more)

The trick is knowing where to set your limitations before you reach them.

Rail Gauge: A Transit Adventure on SMART

by Peter Lawrence Kane : sfweekly – excerpt

Having opened this fall with a 43-mile leg of its eventual 70-mile route, SMART connects Sonoma and Marin counties by rail — and it’s fun to ride.

For all the grumbling about how the Bay Area is sclerotic when it comes to ambitious transportation projects, trains are enjoying something of a resurgence. High-speed rail seems inevitable, BART opened an extension to Warm Springs with further infill stations planned, Caltrain electrification seems likely, the much-delayed Central Subway chugs along, and Muni may yet extend the F-Market streetcar to Fort Mason. Down south, car-choked Los Angeles plans major subway expansions along its Purple Line ahead of the 2028 Olympics.

The rail-scape is impressive. While U.S. Sen. Dianne Feinstein and state Sen. Mark DeSaulnier talk about building another Bay crossing for vehicular traffic, perhaps the time is right to relieve overcrowding and delays with a second Transbay Tube instead. That idea sounds farfetched, but the county that famously declined to participate in the original BART system — Marin — now has a functioning train running from downtown San Rafael to Sonoma County Airport in one hour and seven minutes.

“They’re really learning how to transfer to buses to get to San Francisco or get to the Larkspur Ferry,” she adds. “People here are learning transit because they haven’t had transit. I’m watching them learn schedules and meet ferries and they’re so excited.”… (more)

 

Citing ‘Uncertain Future,’ California Transportation Commission Calls for Special Committee to Hash Out What to Do With the North Coast Railroad Authority

By hank sims : lostcoastoutpost – excerpt

In its annual report to the California State Legislature, which was release today, the California Transportation Commission calls for the formation of a special committee to study and make recommendations for the future of the North Coast Railroad Authority.

The state agency, now nearly 30 years old, holds title to the railroad tracks that run between Humboldt County and the Bay Area. Though some freight has lately been moving on the very southern end of the line, no trains have reached Humboldt County in two decades.

Back in July, the state commission — whose mandate is, in part, to advise the legislature on transportation matters — held a hearing on the railroad authority’s dire finances, and asked it to produce two documents: a business plan and a “shutdown” plan. The authority’s response, if any, has apparently been unpersuasive.

”To date, the NCRA has been unable to produce a plan that makes the business case for its existence,” writes the commission in its report to legislators today… (more)

Feinstein proposes new bridge across the Bay Feinstein proposes new bridge across the Bay

By Emiy Mibach : dailypost – excerpt (includes map)

southern-crossing

Illustration by MTC

 

Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., is pushing to have a new bridge constructed across the Bay, midway between the Bay Bridge and the San Mateo Bridge, in the hopes of alleviating congestion on those two bridges.

Feinstein, along with Congressman Mark DeSaulnier, D-Concord, sent a letter Wednesday (Dec. 6) to Metropolitan Transportation Commission (MTC) Executive Director Steve Heminger in support of the new bridge, which has been discussed for decades. Over the years, it’s become known as the “Southern Crossing.”

Their letter also says that MTC’s plan to put a $3 toll increase on the state-owned Bay Bridges won’t “come anywhere close” to reducing congestion on the Bay or San Mateo bridges.

Feinstein and DeSaulnier also want to put BART on the new southern crossing bridge…(more)

L-Taraval: SFMTA Seeks To Remove Parking, Add Boarding Islands

by Fiona Lee : hoodline – excerpt

With the recent release of the final results of a six-month boarding zone pilot, SFMTA hopes to add boarding islands and remove multiple stops to make the L-Taraval corridor safer for pedestrians and passengers.

The boarding zone pilot took place over a six month period at inbound stops at 26th, 30th, 32nd, 35th and 40th avenues and included improved signage, flashing lights and painted lane markings to alert drivers…(more)

As you can imagine the removal of these stops is not popular with Muni riders on the L-Taraval. They will show up and are asking for support from other Muni riders and people who oppose bus stop removal at the SFMAT Board Meeting on December 5th. Please see this letter from Paula of Save Our L Taraval Stops!

Most of you do not ride the L Taraval, but you have supported our efforts over the past two years to help us keep our stops.  Sadly, earlier this year we lost 8 of our L stops.  This coming Tuesday, December 5, the SFMTA (Muni) Board of Directors will decide whether to remove 4 more:  inbound and outbound at 44th Avenue, and inbound at 35th Avenue and for a variety of reasons, the staff recommends removing them.  We need your help one last time!
1.  Can you please attend the Board meeting on Tuesday December 5, City Hall Room 400, at 1 pm?  We need a very big presence, and so many L riders cannot get off from work.   We can provide you with written statements.  A few of us need to provide more information than we can say in 2 minutes, so we will have statements for a few others to finish.   And we are hoping to have folks read some of the many moving emails that L riders are sending discussing how losing their stops will be a hardship to them and their families, so that the Board members will hear the words that they might or might not have read.  And if I can put it together, I’ll try to get photos of some of those folks so the Board members can see their faces, tho I am not sure if that will happen.  And it’s fine if you prefer to make your own 2-minute statement on the hardships that seniors, people with disabilities, families with young children, and other riders will face if their stops are removed, and how in the world can they remove the inbound stop across from Safeway!  There will be a number of people saying that.  Please let me know if you can make the meeting.
2.  Can you please email public comments this week to MTABoard@sfmta.com and katy.tang@sfgov.org and norman.yee@sfgov.org  with a blind cc to saveourLtaravalstops@gmail.com   Tell them how it will be a hardship for seniors, people with disabilities, families with young children, and others if the L Taraval stops at 44th, and inbound at 35th and 17th are removed.  Pease email them even if you plan to attend the Board meeting on Tuesday.
So many of us across the City have struggled and fought the many changes that SFMTA has tried to impose on use.  We have tried to support you when we can.  We hope you will be able to support us this one last time.

If anyone wants to read the staff report, slide presentation, or agenda for Tuesday’s meeting, the links are below.  About a third of the discussion in the staff report is on stop removal.  Thank you so much for all your support these past two years.  We are in the stretch run.

Paula, Save Our L Taraval Stops!