Want to simplify regional transit? It’s complicated

By Carly Graf : sfexaminer – excerpt

Advocates call for ‘seamless’ integrated system with synchronized schedules, fares

Bay Area transit officials, advocates and riders agree: the region’s public transportation system is confusing, often unreliable, expensive and unable to attract wide swaths of residents who could otherwise benefit from it.

What they don’t necessarily agree on, though, is how to solve those problems.

On Monday, the Metropolitan Transportation Commission’s Fare Integration Task Force will meet to discuss the next steps in an ongoing study to explore how to better coordinate regional transit…(more)

Please comment on the source.

SFMTA board scrutinizes Van Ness BRT spending

By Carly Graf : sfexaminer – excerpt

Proposed contract modification would allocate $2.6 million for pedestrian monitors \

By this time next year, “we will be watching the paint dry” on the long awaited Van Ness Avenue Bus Rapid Transit build, Peter Gabancho, project manager, told the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency Board of Directors this week.

But not without at least a small fight over $2.6 million dollars first.

SFMTA asked the board to approve a contract modification to allot roughly $2.6 million to pay for additional pedestrian monitors, employees who man crosswalks and intersections to ensure people don’t wander into the construction site…(more)

Let’s spend money on everything but the Muni and let’s lay off everyone so we can pay people to babysit pedestrians. Really? The people who need to go are the ones who signed the contracts and the project managers who cannot control their staff or there contractors. In fact lay off the managers with the top heavy salaries first.

They have no trouble putting up barriers for cars, yet, barriers for pedestrians seems like a major challenge. What pedestrian doesn’t know better than t avoid falling into a hole or being hit by a construction truck? How many bus runs can you pay for with 2.6 million dollars? Shall we get to the real math and figure out how much each Muni ride is costing and who is paying paying for those rides?

Can Parking Proceeds Close Muni Budget Hole?

By Roger Rudick : streetsblog – excerpt

Suggestions from advocates for closing a $68 million SFMTA deficit

With fare revenue down some ninety percent, SFMTA is facing a $68 million budget deficit thanks to the COVID-19 pandemic recession. “It’s personally painful to deliver this budget report,” Director Jeffrey Tumlin put it at Tuesday’s SFMTA Board Meeting. “I’m outraged that in this country, in a wealthy city, in a wealthy state, that we’re backed into a corner to consider laying off the very workers who have shown up every day on the front line.” The San Francisco Examiner reports that the agency “… could lay off as many as 1,226 full-time employees next fiscal year, representing 22 percent of the transit agency’s entire workforce, in order to close a budget deficit that seems increasingly insurmountable without dramatic action.”… (more)

Parking assets, fines, fees, and otherwise, depend on having cars in San Francisco and that depends on having easy means of driving around the city and parking, all of which SFMTA and their supporters have worked to eliminate from the city. If you want private cars to feed your Muni budget, the way it is currently set up to do, you need to remove the barriers to driving and parking. In short, don’t continue to bit the hand that feeds you.

Many people predicted the SFMTA is on a downward spiral for decades due to the bad priorities they have set for themselves and the policies that they have pushed. Unfortunately, our predictions came true at a difficult time for all of us. Too bad we did not devise a solution for this meltdown, not that it is our job to do so and not that the SFMTA or San Francisco politicians would listen to our suggestions, but, we do lament not having a solution for this problem we anticipated.

Editoral: VTA, BART ignore the voters who approve their tax increases

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

Two Bay Area transportation agencies seem to think they can take the money but renege on promises that come with it

Two Bay Area transportation agencies seem to think they can take taxpayer money but ignore the promises to voters that come with it.

The nose thumbings by the Santa Clara Valley Transportation Authority and the Bay Area Rapid Transit District display an unacceptable, but sadly not surprising, arrogance.

Promises to voters matter. Bay Area residents should remember the agencies’ behavior — and question whether they can be trusted — next time they seek ballot approval for taxes…(more)

The old bait and switch is back. Don’t trust a government official to spend like you think they will regardless of what they promise.

Roberta Boomer: A warm farewell to the ‘heart and soul’ of the SFMTA

By Jerold China : sfbayca – excerpt

Roberta Boomer had seen and been through it all in her more than 20 years as board secretary at the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency Board of Directors. Whether she was leading countless marathon meetings, fielding public complaints, drafting legislation or easing the transition for new directors, Boomer kept the wheels turning from the time the agency was formed in 1999…(more)

How Biden administration could upend Prop. 22 and make Uber, Lyft drivers employees

By Bob Egelko :sfchronicle – excerpt

Californians voted decisively this month, by more than 58%, to classify drivers for companies like Uber and Lyft as contractors rather than employees after the companies spent a record $200 million on Proposition 22. But the federal government may have the last word on the issue.

Labor officials in the incoming Biden administration could propose rules that would overturn key provisions of Prop. 22, entitling the drivers to minimum wages, worker benefits and union representation. And if Democrats, who already control the House, capture the Senate by winning two Georgia runoff elections in January, they may be able to enact legislation that would strike down the entire ballot measure, and any similar laws in other states…(more)

SFMTA Reveals Blunder In Twin Peaks Tunnel That Will Cost ‘Tens of Millions of Dollars’

by Jay Barmann : sfist – excerpt

The SFMTA brass got a talking-to from the Board of Supervisors this week about their inability to complete big projects on time and on budget — and the scolding came after the revelation that the Twin Peaks Tunnel improvement project that was completed last year actually involved a shortcut that now will need to be fixed at great expense.

The shortcut involved the reuse of old ballast rock — a type of large gravel typically used beneath train tracks both to stabilize them and provide drainage — when the project had originally called for the rock to be replaced. As the Examiner reports following a Tuesday meeting of the County Transportation Authority board on which all 11 of the San Francisco supervisors sit…

Kirschbaum said the old ballast rock was now causing potential problems for the tracks, and replacing it will now cost “tens of millions of dollars.”…

But, as the Examiner reports, multiple supervisors excoriated Tumlin and the other officials present given the parade of failures with big projects in recent years — not the least of which is the long-delayed and over-budget Central Subway, and the ridiculous Van Ness BRT boondoggle.

Just last week we learned of yet another delay in the Central Subway project that pushes its public opening into 2022.

“You’re out of excuses,” said Supervisor Aaron Peskin, adding, “the merry go-round has got to stop.”…(more)

The only way to “stop that merry-go-round” of failed projects is to admit that the current system has failed and needs to be replaced. The voters approved splitting up one large overgrown department. Now its is time to split this one.
This articles covers three of the largest ongoing boondoggles: Van Ness BRT, Central Subway and the Twin Tunnels projects. There are a lot more. Like everything else that goes on in San Francisco, it is up to the voters to demand change. That starts with letters and phone call and public comments.

Bay Area advocates push transit leaders to delay projects to save jobs during financial crisis

By Mallory Moench : sfchronicle – excerpt

More than four dozen advocacy groups are calling on the Bay Area’s head transportation agency to delay capital projects and use the money to instead save jobs and service during the pandemic’s economic crisis.

The Voices for Public Transportation Coalition sent a letter to the Metropolitan Transportation Commission’s Chairman Scott Haggerty Wednesday calling on the agency, which funnels funds to operators, to put at least $100 million in capital projects toward operating expenses. Coalition members planned to push their position during public comment at the MTC board’s meeting Friday…(more)

Given the recent upsets and disasters over the tunnel projects nothing could be more obvious than the SFMTA needs to stop throwing money into capital projects and switch their funding priorities to maintaining the surface buses and supporting their operators. That goes for all capital projects including the new housing projects. Until the Muni is functioning the MTA should be kept on a strict capital diet. If the city can’t figure out how to get around the state laws regulating capital spending, they should instruct their lobbyist to work on some changes in Sacramento. We know there is no law that cannot be changed or ignored. Perhaps the establishment of a public bank might help facilitate some new funding options.

Golden Gate Bridge Transit District approves mass layoffs in response to COVID-19 budget disaster

By Carly Graf : sfexminer – excerpt

Emotional meeting still leaves 150 employees out of work come January

Nearly 150 employees that help run ferries and buses between the North Bay and San Francisco will soon be out of work, despite desperate pleas from unions and their members to preserve their jobs.

The Golden Gate Bridge, Highway and Transit District Board of Directors voted Friday to eliminate a total of 205 positions — 146 of which are staffed by full-time employees and 59 of which are vacant — in order to keep the agency afloat as the coronavirus pandemic persists with no end in sight…

Perhaps most devastating to the District’s financial picture is that bridge traffic continues to hover at 70 percent of pre-pandemic levels. Tolls provide the largest single source of revenue to fund operation and maintenance of the Golden Gate Bridge as well as the transit services.… (more)

BART to slash costs, with possible service cuts, layoffs on horizon: ‘This is not sustainable’

By Mallory Moench : sfchronicle – excerpt

BART’s board approved a cost-cutting plan Thursday that includes an employee retirement incentive package as the pandemic robs the train system of its ridership and some directors fear for the agency’s long-term financial viability.

BART covered expenses for the first three quarters of the fiscal year that ends in June 2021 with federal funding, but it faces a $33 million deficit in the fourth quarter. General Manager Bob Powers told the board Thursday he is “very confident” the seven-step cost-cutting plan will make ends meet by the end of the year, with Board President Lateefah Simon pledging, “We will close the gap.”

But the agency faces a projected $177 million shortfall in the next fiscal year. Leadership said a potential change in the federal administration after the election would likely bring funding, but wouldn’t solve long-term problems…

The approved seven-step plan to save money includes making contracting more efficient, continuing a hiring freeze, offering a retirement incentive program and reassigning staff to capital projects…(more)

Here is an idea for BART and the public transit agencies to save money. Why don’t they drop their capital projects, drop expansion projects, get out of the real estate development business, and get back to the basics of running a transit agency. If they are in dire financial straights, it may be time to lay off their planning department.

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