Where the SFMTA’s Prop. A money has gone

By Will Reisman : sfexaminer – excerpt from April 14, 2013

Prop. A, five years later: The second part in a two-part series explores where funding from Proposition A has gone since voters passed the initiative in 2007. It was intended to give the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency more control over revenue from parking meters and off-street lots to put toward the Transit Effectiveness Project. It appears that money has been put toward other uses...

The San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency, which manages Muni, is projected to collect $31 million in revenue this fiscal year from Proposition A, a ballot measure passed in 2007. Prop. A gives the agency more control over revenue collected from parking lots and meters, and the money is supposed to go directly toward the Transit Effectiveness Project, a long-awaited plan to improve Muni service.

However, funds have been directed to areas that seemingly have ambiguous links to transit service, according to records obtained by The San Francisco Examiner…

Overall, the funds will pay for 217 transit agency employees at a cost of $23 million. Along with funding these positions, Prop. A revenue will go toward a new dump truck and 50 Go-4 Interceptors, the small vehicles used by parking control officers…

Paul Rose, a spokesman for the transit agency, defended the expenditure plan.

However, former Board of Supervisors President Aaron Peskin, who advocated for Prop. A in 2007, said the funds are being misspent.

“We gave the SFMTA and its commission unparalleled authority and took away oversight from the Board of Supervisors,” Peskin said. “But it has been a failure because the SFMTA has simply not used the money properly. I think it’s time to put oversight of the funds back into the elected officials who represent Muni riders.”

Quentin Kopp, a retired Superior Court judge and also a former board president, called the expenditures an expropriation of taxpayer funds…(more)

Wonder how Peskin feels about dealing with the SFMTA now. Of course he has his hands full with the Leaning Tilting Sinking Millennium Mess and the Transbay Terminal Terminal.

Hopefully someone on the Board of Supervisors will find the time to hasten the restructuring of the SFMTA Board that just killed the taxi industry, and is doing everything in their power to hand over control of the streets to their corporate buddies, Lyft, Uber and the rest of the disruptors.

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Muni closes two bus yards on weekends during operator shortage, union cries foul

By Joe Fitzgerald Rodriguez : sfexaminer – excerpt

Muni began closing the Kirkland Yard on weekends starting in June, a move that union members allege has exacerbated a shortage of drivers.

The City closed two bus yards this summer amidst a Muni operator shortage, potentially straining already worn-to-the-bone bus drivers.

That’s the allegation of the Transport Workers Union Local 250-A, which represents Muni operators.

And, TWU Local 250-A President Roger Marenco said, that decision likely exacerbated the citywide Muni slowdown… (more)

Complaints are the only way to deal with people who are too “smart” to listen to reason. These people do not know the meaning of customer service and they need to be taught how to deliver it or get out of the public transit business.

Complain to the Mayor and the Supervisors and to Ed Reiskin and John Haley. It is their job to run the buses if they want people to take them. And send your comments to the newspapers. They are all covering the traffic and Muni meltdowns.

RELATED:

Transit woes? Escalator at brand-new Transbay Center already out-of-service

By Michelle Robertson : sfgate – excerpt

If you’re in a public transit station and all the escalators are functioning, you’re probably not in the Bay Area… (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

Bay Area subway and rail costs: Why are they among the highest in the world?

By : curbedsf – excerpt

The process of designing, bidding, and building mega-projects is a costly one, but it doesn’t have to be this way

Shortly before the Bay Area appeared on lists of the worst traffic in the world, the region set an ambitious plan to move millions of daily car trips to public transportation by 2040. But local transit agencies pay some of the highest subway and train construction costs in the world, which will limit the impact of $21 billion the nine counties pledged to expand the transit network.

“If your costs are higher you will build less,” says Alon Levy, a mathematician turned transportation expert (and Curbed contributor). His simple cost-per-mile comparisons of subway projects expose the astronomical costs of building urban rail in the United States.

When the Salesforce Transit Center opens in San Francisco this summer, a new tunnel will be needed to connect it to the current Caltrain terminus in SoMa. The project, known as the Downtown Extension, is estimated to cost $3 billion for each mile of subway, six times more than the average outside the United States.

The Central Subway, a 1.7-mile tunnel that will connect Chinatown to Fourth and Brannan Streets, is a relative bargain at $923 million-per-mile. But elsewhere in the world, new subways cost half as much..

Rail construction costs compared

  • $3 billion per mile: SF Downtown Extension (DTX)
  • $923 million per mile: SF Central Subway
  • $780 million per mile: BART to San Jose
  • $451 million per mille: Tokyo Metro Fukutoshin line
  • $450 million per mile: Paris Line 14 extension
  • $64 million per mile: Barcelona Sants tunnel…

In the Bay Area, an unusually large number of transit agencies, 28 in total, often fail to coordinate routes and schedules. This leads to a slow and clumsy experience that many would-be riders avoid.

Costly turf war in Millbrae

Caltrain has provided service to San Francisco from Millbrae Station for years. But BART added service there as a part of its $1.6 billion expansion to San Francisco International Airport.

“Caltrain and BART are fighting for turf,” says Levy.

In Paris, a single planning organization, the RATP, dictates routes and spending for new infrastructure. Individual transit agencies operate trains and buses, they do not plan or construct their own expansions…. (more)

This sounds like the Charter Amendment concept the SFMTA was working on to split the SFMTA into two distinct agencies. They just failed to finish the job. No reason to mix future plans with a present system that is needed to operate the present system.

A new report from the Regional Plan Association of New York offers a sweeping suggestion: “The entire process of designing, bidding, and building mega-projects needs to be rethought and reformed top-down and bottom-up.”

But if reform is considered, it may have to come through an unusual degree of political leadership. As the Bay Area weathers another round of newspaper layoffs, a new study found that in places where the watchdog role of newspapers diminished, government costs go up.

A new report from the Regional Plan Association of New York offers a sweeping suggestion: “The entire process of designing, bidding, and building mega-projects needs to be rethought and reformed top-down and bottom-up.”

But if reform is considered, it may have to come through an unusual degree of political leadership. As the Bay Area weathers another round of newspaper layoffs, a new study found that in places where the watchdog role of newspapers diminished, government costs go up... (more)

Bay Area transit agencies among several to receive billions in state funds

By: Daniel Montes :ktvu – excerpt

SAN FRANCISCO (BCN) – The California State Transportation Agency on Thursday announced it would give out more than $2.6 billion to 28 transit agencies statewide, including the San Francisco Municipal Transit Agency, Caltrain and BART, as well as several other Bay Area agencies.

The grant funding is part of the Transit and Intercity Rail Capacity Program and will go toward expanding rail capacity and reducing congestion, according to CalSTA officials.

In addition to the $2.6 billion, which will be used for the 2018/2019 fiscal year to the 2022/2023 fiscal year, CalSTA will also provide additional funds for some critical projects between the 2023/2024 fiscal year and the 2027/2028 fiscal year, totaling more than $4.3 billion, CalSTA officials said…

“When the legislature stepped up and passed Senate Bill 1 and extended Cap and Trade last year, these are exactly the kinds of public transportation projects I wanted to see fund,” Wiener said, referring to the Road and Repair Accountability Act of 2017… (more)

Can California sustain the inflationary spiral our state legislature is setting us up for? This is not free money. This appears to be the road repair money we were promised would come out of SB1. How much road repair have we seen? All the shiny new buses need better roads too.

Now the MTC wants us to cough up more money into their coffers by passing one of the most inflationary bills every imagined, Regional Measure Three.

Not only would RM3, as it is known, add at least $3 to the bridge tolls on all the state bridges in the 9-county region, if it passes it will trigger immediate costs of living increases as the cost of shipping everything, including food, goes up. In addition to guaranteed inflation, the voters will see the following impacts:

  • Automatic increases based on inflation that the bill is certain to trigger.
  • The bridge tolls will be used to pay down the considerable bond debt the tax payers have already agreed to.
  • Voters will give up their right to control future bridge toll increases.

FOR THESE AND MANY OTHER REASONS, WE SUGGEST YOU OPPOSE RM3.
And Consider voting to Repeal SB 1. This state imposed bill has already had a negative impact on many lives and businesses in the state as diesel gas prices are already soaring. A bill to repeal the gas tax and return the right to decide future increase will probably be on the November 2018 ballot.

Power players map strategy to get Bay Area bridge toll hike passed in June

By Matier and Ross : sfchronicle – excerpt

THERE IS AN OPPOSITION TO RM3!
The media is just ignoring it. Not all community leaders support RM3. Find out why: RM3 Handout

Big names and big money are banding together to sell voters in June on a $3 toll increase on state-run Bay Area bridges to pay for a laundry list of road, rail and ferry projects throughout the region — some sexy and some not so much.

While there has been no organized opposition, one vocal opponent is Rep. Mark DeSaulnier, D-Concord.

“The projects they are talking about are all over the place and are based more on political relationships than on transportation engineering,” DeSaulnier said.

State Assemblywoman Catharine Baker, R-San Ramon, is also opposed, largely because the measure allows for automatic toll increases in the future based on inflation.

“And they can do it without any vote of the people or the Legislature,” Baker said…

OPPOSITION TO RM3 is growing as more people find out about this draconian tax, that is not a tax. How well has the gas tax worked so far? How many streets and bridges have been repaired?

Passage of this bill is an open-ended invitation to (WHO EXACTLY?) to raise the rates based on inflation. Inflation is built into these rates, which, along with the gas tax, unless it is repealed, will assure inflation. Every truckload of products crossing state bridges in the Bay Area will add to the cost of living, including the cost of food. Food and gas costs have already gone up.

WE MUST STOP RM3! JOIN THE OPPOSITION!

Regional tax elections rules do not match other ballot initiatives. There are no paid ballot arguments allowed. Only one argument per county is allowed.

These special rules only apply to regional ballot issues. This is a good reason to oppose them. More reasons are here: RM3 Handout

Falling transit ridership poses an ‘emergency’ for cities, experts fear

washingtonpost – excerpt

Commuters tire of the \shuttle bus shuffle that crawls through San Francisco streets. Crowded Muni is painfully slow and standing room only is hardly a ride worth taking when other modes offer clean, comfortable seats.

Transit ridership fell in 31 of 35 major metropolitan areas in the U.S. last year, including each of the seven cities that serve the majority of riders, with losses largely stemming from buses, but punctuated by reliability issues on systems like Metro, according to an annual overview of public transit usage.

The analysis by the New York-based TransitCenter advocacy group, using data from the U.S. Department of Transportation’s National Transit Database, raises alarm about the state of “legacy” public transit systems in the Northeast and Midwest and rising vehicle ownership and car-based commuting in cities nationwide.

Researchers concluded that factors such as lower fuel costs, increased teleworking, higher car ownership and the rise of alternatives such as Uber and Lyft are pulling people off trains and buses at record levels…

“Transit systems should deliver quality service to low-income people. But low-income people do not owe us a transit system.”…

Metro is mulling a major redesign of the bus system. But first, officials need to figure out why people aren’t riding.]… (more)

Costs to upgrade Muni’s Sunset Tunnel soar — partly thanks to neighbors

By Michael Cabanatuan : sfchronicle – excerpt

Work to strengthen and modernize Muni’s Sunset Tunnel will end up costing $4 million more than planned — due in part to neighbors’ complaints about noise and late-night work.

The Municipal Transportation Agency board voted Tuesday to approve the additional payment to contractor ProVen Management, for a total of $23.3 million, because of delays, mostly associated with neighbors’ appeal of a night work permit, and additional work requested by the agency…

Money to pay for the increased cost will be siphoned from a project to rebuild the turntable in the Cable Car Barn, part of an effort to rehabilitate the cable car system. Muni will delay that work until 2019 while it looks for new funding… (more)

Leave it to SFMTA to blame the neighbors. The will blame anyone rather than assume the blame themselves. How much longer will people put up with them?

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.

CA bullet train authority postpones critical $30M contract award

Kim Slowey : constructiondive – excerpt

Dive Brief:

  • The California High Speed Rail Authority has postponed awarding a key, $30 million operations and management contract for the first leg of its new rail line through the state’s Central Valley region, according to Courthouse News Service. CHSRA was scheduled to award the contract at its monthly meeting Thursday.
  • The CHSRA had planned to tap DB Engineering & Consulting USA, a subsidiary of German rail company Deutsche Bahn, for the project, but Spain-based bidder Renfe protested the decision at the last minute. Renfe objected based on its scoring process, during which the company said it received high marks in two out of three categories.
  • The CHSRA’s reluctance to move forward with an operations contract led some meeting attendees to suggest that the authority was dragging its feet at a “critical time” in the bullet train’s schedule. The agency, which is already late in delivering the first segment of the high-speed rail by eight years, will address the contract award issue at its next meeting in November…

Dive Insight:

Earlier this month, the Los Angeles Times published a June CHSRA report that said the 119-mile line through the Central Valley cost $1.7 billion more than originally forecast, which raised the total price tag to $8 billion. The CHSRA chalked up the increases to the rising cost of land, the cost of utility relocation and negotiations with freight companies over the logistics of running high-speed trains near their tracks. It is unknown whether this add-on will raise the entire projected cost of the rail past its current budget of $64 billion… (more)