How BART strike ban could be key to big transportation package

By Matier & Ross : sfchronicle – excerpt

The big and bold blitz by Gov. Jerry Brown and state lawmakers to raise the gas tax and vehicle license fee to pay for a $52 billion fix-up of the state’s crumbling roads, rails and bridges has hit a speed bump right here in the Bay Area — thanks to a trio of suburban lawmakers saying, “Not so fast.”

The lead doubter is state Sen. Steve Glazer, a moderate Democrat whose district stretches from Livermore up to Orinda and over to Brentwood. Not only is he tax-averse, but his single biggest concern is outlawing BART strikes like the two that made life miserable for his constituents in 2013 — and word is, he won’t vote for the transportation package unless it contains such a ban…

The two other Bay Area question marks on the mega-transportation and tax plan are Democratic Assemblyman Timothy Grayson of Concord and GOP Assemblywoman Catharine Baker of San Ramon — both from the same neck of the woods as Glazer…

Last week, a KPIX-5/Survey USA statewide poll found that only 23 percent of Californians surveyed think taxes and fees need to be raised for roads, compared with 61 percent who think Caltrans should spend its money more efficiently… (more)

At this point the riders are going on their own strike as fewer riders are showing up for the service on weekends, BART is losing more support from the public that is conducting its own vote by choosing more comfortable and reliable modes when possible.

BART ridership slumps; board mulls service cuts, fare increases

By Erin Baldassari : eastbaytimes – excerpt

OAKLAND — Despite crush-loads of passengers during peak commute times, the number of people riding BART is actually falling, forcing the transit agency to begin tough conversations about how to make up for lost revenue.

After six years of growth, staff anticipated a similar increase in the number of riders during the 2016-2017 fiscal year, which began July 1. Instead, the agency is reporting that ridership through December was 5.2 percent below what it projected. Weekend trips took the hardest hit, coming in at 9 percent lower than projected, compared with 4.2 percent for weekday trips.

In January this year, for example, weekday trips were down a little more than 4 percent, and weekend trips were down slightly more than 2 percent, compared with the same month last year. Ridership figures vary month by month, but BART staff said they are seeing a decline in the total number of riders opting to take the trains… (more)

Put the seats back on the BART cars if you want to compete with trains, taxis and Ubers! No one wants to stand on a moving vehicle. Why is BART considering service cuts, seat removal and fare increases if they are losing riders? Why would people want to stand on BART?.

It is one thing to convince yourself that you are perfect, but another to convince the public that they can trust you. BART needs to ask the public what they want instead of forcing changes they don’t want. The trains still have seats last I heard and they are comfortable seats or were the last I remember. Given the choice I would take the train.

RELATED:
Legislature should reverse BART’s deceit of voters 
BART says it needs more money because weekend ridership is down

 

BART gets real on social media; now it’s Muni’s turn

By : sfexaminer -excerpt

BART’s brutal honesty about its budget shortfalls went viral across the country last week, and now it’s Muni’s turn to step into the social media spotlight.

BART suffered electrical troubles last Wednesday in the East Bay, which sent 50 malfunctioning trains out of service and spawned the usual social media anger.

This time, though, BART tweeted something unexpected to its critics: honesty.

“BART was built to transport far fewer people, and much of our system has reached the end of its useful life. This is our reality,” the agency tweeted to its detractors and 135,000 followers.

The direct tone from a public agency spawned coverage from The New York Times, which called it “extreme candor.” A headline from national blog Gawker proclaimed, “Wow – Finally Some Honesty From Government.”

Now, the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency may have a lofty new bar to live up to, in terms of government frankness…

Among the new budget proposals are offering a 25-cent discount to those who use Clipper Cards instead of cash, redefining youth for certain Muni discounts from 17 to 18, raising fares on seniors and those with disabilities who receive discounts, and increasing the cost of monthly passes that include BART access by five dollars.

One set of costs is not changeable — the “automatic indexed” fare increases.

In 2017 and 2018, Muni will increase most fares, which, by law, rise with inflation. Adult fast passes with BART access will jump from $83 this year to $89 by 2018, according to the SFMTA…(more)

Almost any transit project is eligible to apply for Federal funds.

(Quick clarification – the Bay Area gets a lot of “formula” funds for transit.  How they are used are up to MTC and the transit agencies, but, in general, these are all spoken for – if they were transferred for other purposes, such as a major capital project, then that means a whole lot of over-the-hill buses would not be replaced at the ends of their useful life, a lot of rail lines will not be given required maintenance, etc.  In addition to the transit programs – of which 49 USC 5307 is by far the largest – there are also three highway “flexible” funds, with CMAQ and STP being the vast majority.  These can be used for transit, again, pretty much at the option of MTC, but, given the extreme underfunding of Bay Area road maintenance, unlikely to occur.  What we are probably talking about is the Federal discretionary capital grant program for transit, which is mainly 49 USC 5309 “new starts.”)

Since the Obama administration has pretty much changed the rules so that factors like ridership, etc., aren’t really part of the evaluation process any more, so, if the Bay Area made this a high priority, it would likely have a chance.  However, there is only so much money to go around nationally, and there is a limit to how much money any region is going to get, and there is an unlimited amount of other requests for this funding, so the real question is, how far up to the top of the list this will be.

The other interesting factor is that it is getting real questionable how much money for transit programs there is going to be.  With the Republicans controlling both houses, and the D’s not really into the program, there hasn’t been a new transportation authorization bill for quite a while, just short-term extensions and, right now, it is difficult to see how there will be a long-term extension any time soon.  Without that, not a whole lot of money for any new projects.  Not saying impossible, am saying makes it more difficult.

OK, let’s step back and take a wild turn.  Let’s say that the objective is to create a transit system that will carry the most people, get it done the quickest, and do it at the lowest cost to taxpayers.  Not really the way things are done, of course, particularly in the Bay Area, but, just as a thing to think about.  OK, going down that road, the way to go is to run long-haul commuter buses on an I-580 HOT lane from the Central Valley to the existing BART end station.  Such lines can be started within two years (the biggest time-taker is getting the buses delivered, now that the roadway is getting close to completion), there are just about no costs for the right-of-way, and this is the type of transit service that has the highest farebox recovery ratio – over 90% is not at all uncommon, although I’m not going to make that kind of prediction without a lot of study.

This would have also been the right way to go before BART went over the hill to the Tri-Valley.  Of course, it was never even considered as an option.

– TR, Transit specialist

This pretty much back up what many of us have been saying for some time. The SFMTA and other municipal transit authorities are not in the transportation business, they are in the construction business. They are also in the empire building business. The more the construct the bigger the public debt to the industry grows since the maintenance and operations costs escalate accordingly. This is why many people are saying NO MORE MONEY for the bottomless pit that claim, “if we build it they will come.”

To the desert valley where there is no water?

SFMTA to increase Muni fares and fines starting next month

SAN FRANCISCO (KTVU and wires) — The San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency announced a fare and fine increase on Monday, which will start next month.

On July 1, select cash and Clipper fares, as well as some major fees and fines will increase, SFMTA officials said.
ktvu – excerpt

The discount cash fare for persons with disabilities, youth and seniors will increase from 75 cents to $1.

Adult “A” monthly fast passes for Muni and BART within San Francisco will increase from $80 to $83. Adult “M” monthly fast passes for Muni only will increase from $68 to $70.

Monthly Muni passes for persons with disabilities, youth and seniors will increase from $24 to $25.

The Lifeline monthly pass for low-income residents will increase from $34 to $35.

A single cable car ride ticket will increase from $6 to $7.

Lastly, a school coupon booklet worth 15 Muni tickets will increase from $11.25 to $15, according to agency officials.

In addition, fees, fines and rates that will also see an increase include parking, transit and taxi fines and late penalties, neighborhood parking permits, contractor parking permits. Fines for parking in color curb zones and during temporary street closures, special traffic permits, boot removal, auto towing and storage, special collections, service vehicle rental, parklet installation, parking meter use, sign posting and various taxi permits will also increase, SFMTA officials said… (more)

Seamless Bay Area Transit System Proposed to Attract New Riders

By Michael Cabanatuan : techwire – excerpt

The Bay Area’s tangle of public transportation operators is proving to be an obstacle to getting more people to take or try transit, concludes a study to be released Tuesday.

While BART, Caltrain and Muni are bursting at the seams as the region and the economy grow, just 3 percent of Bay Area commuters take transit, and the fragmented nature of the transit system is partially to blame, the report says.

The report, from the regional urban think tank SPUR, calls for creation of an integrated transit system that makes it easier for existing and potential riders to navigate the Bay Area’s labyrinth of transit systems as if they were one.

Titled “Seamless Transit,” it is scheduled to be released in conjunction with a Commonwealth Club transportation summit attended by experts from major metropolitan areas Tuesday… (more)

Central Subway tunnel boring machines will live on

By sfexaminer – excerpt

Tunnel-boring machines Big Alma and Mom Chung might be finished with Muni’s Central Subway project, but they have thousands of feet left in their arsenals. Upon refurbishment, they would be suitable for more local projects, such as extending the subway farther or building tunnels for BART’s extension to San Jose.

BART is currently building more track south from Fremont and into northern San Jose, with the goal of one day going into the downtown area. For a future project, 5 miles of the BART extension in San Jose would require underground tunneling, although designs are still being refined. If the refurbished Central Subway tunnel-boring machines meet the criteria for BART, they “certainly would be worth considering,” said Bernice Alaniz, a spokeswoman for the Santa Clara Valley Transportation Authority, which is building the extension because it is out of BART’s district.

An extension of the Central Subway to Fisherman’s Wharf is being studied. But even if that moves forward, Big Alma and Mom Chung are not designed to make a turn that would be necessary for the project… (more)