The Crazy Idea of Running Caltrain onto Muni’s Tracks

: streetsblog – excerpt

Maybe it’s not quite as crazy as it sounds

A little over a week ago, the San Francisco Examiner ran the Op-Ed: “Fast and cheap: Getting Caltrain to Transbay Terminal … this year.” Author Stanford Horn proposed extending Caltrain via Muni’s T/N tracks on King Street and building some more tracks on Howard Street to a platform at the new Transbay Terminal, as a stop-gap measure until the DTX tunnel is built

Horn’s assertion, that it would be such a simple project that it could be connected up in a few weeks or months, is as silly as it sounds. As Noel Braymer, editor of the Rail Passenger Association of California newsletter wrote: “Oh dear God, where do I begin! There is no way that the Federal Railroad Administration will allow Caltrain equipment to share tracks with much lighter rail transit trains. The reason is, in the case of a collision Muni cars would be crushed if hit by Caltrain!”

To point out another obvious problem: although the track gauge is the same, Caltrain’s rolling stock is wider than Muni’s. Since Muni uses high-level platforms, that means if you plopped a Caltrain onto Muni’s tracks, it would crash into the platform. Furthermore, Caltrain’s equipment would likely derail on Muni’s track switches. Horn’s piece was savaged in the comments section as totally unworkable… (more)

Muni Fare To Increase Again July 1, Caltrain Considering Fare Hike Too

If you’re a Caltrain rider who would like to voice your frustration with (or support of!) the proposed fare increase, the commuter rail line service will have staffed tables at 11 different stations tomorrow, Tuesday, May 23, to gather your feedback. Additionally, the Peninsula Corridor Joint Powers Board will have a public meeting on Thursday, July 6 at 10 a.m. at the Caltrain Administrative Office in San Carlos. You don’t even have to be present at the meeting to speak up, because Caltrain is taking comments online and via email at changes@caltrain.com.

But as for Muni riders, that 25-cent fare increase is a done deal and going into effect July 1, 2017 regardless of your feelings on whether the fare’s fair…

 

Transit crisis in San Francisco

Op-ed by By Gerald Cauthen : sfexaminer – excerpt

Joshua Sabatini provides a nice summary of what The City’s transportation planners want to do to reduce traffic congestion in San Francisco. The problem with their plans is that they won’t work. What is being proposed is akin to trying to fly an airliner using just the ailerons. What’s currently in vogue in San Francisco illustrates what’s wrong with City Hall’s response to its growing transportation crisis.

Most transportation planning are left to people who are well-intentioned but inexperienced. As a result, the proposed solutions tend to be half-baked and over-simplified:

“San Franciscans drive too much; we must walk more.”

“The restraints on parking will ease traffic.”

“More people should ride Muni.”

“We need more bicycle lanes.”

All of these warrant discussion and consideration, but none come even close to fully addressing the real problem. If people are to leave their cars at home, there will have to be non-automotive travel alternatives that work. Here are some considerations that tend to get shoved under the rug:

• Good decisions are not made by the seat-of-the-pants. One has to ask: What works; what doesn’t? What has been shown to work elsewhere? What is cost-effective? What are the alternatives? These essential elements of good planning tend to get lost in a seemingly endless series of politically inspired “bright ideas.”… (more)

On housing policy, is everything really “going to be OK?”

By Calvin Welch : 48hills – excerpt

NOVEMBER 24, 2015 — In a recent Chronicle Open Forum (November 20, “We Can Resolve Housing Crisis With Teamwork”) Gabriel Metcalf, Executive Director of SPUR, penned an oddly argued, personal, upbeat exhortation about how our affordable housing crisis is going to be solved if we just understand that “its going to be OK.” He says we can take his word for it: “I want to say to everyone already here, as compassionately as I can, is that its going to be OK.” He says that if we “take taller buildings,” “take more transit,” and “make room for more people” “it’s going to be OK.” That’s pretty much the sum total of his argument.

It seems clear that Metcalf’s reason for directing his remarks to “everyone already here” is that so many of us simply do not agree that under current development policy, strongly urged by Metcalf’s organization, SPUR, that “everything is going to be OK” for the obvious reason that everything, now and in the recent past, has not been “OK” and it’s clear for all to see which is why Metcalf’s musings are so odd. In the same edition of the Chronicle that his article ran — November 23 — three stories made this point.

A new market-rate development at Van Ness and Market will have only 20% of its units affordable to current San Francisco residents; the city is scrambling to find a short term $200 million “bridge loan” to continue the construction of the Transbay Terminal while having no idea how to finance the additional $2.5 billion to move CalTrain and other commuter transit service to the facility; and a front page report measures how the “Awful Commute is Getting Worse” in the Bay Area as the working class is priced out of Oakland, San Francisco and San Jose ( “all three are dynamic and growing” says the rather breathless Metcalf) and must commute, by car, from Tracy, Stockton and Ripon…

San Franciscans correctly understand that the housing crisis we face is one of affordability, that housing affordability is dependent on household income and that household income, for San Franciscans, is often dependent on the ability of local businesses to continue to be located in San Francisco. The three go hand in hand and are, all three, dependent on a system of informed local land use policy that integrates the three (see Section 101 of the San Francisco Planning Code, drafted by the people and made law by the passage of Prop M in 1986 ).

That’s what the six ballot measures on this November’s ballot were mainly about: housing affordability and jobs for San Franciscans. What Metcalf calls for is the disaggregation of local land use policy (“we need to make some different planning decisions”), centered not on the needs of San Franciscans but for “waves of new arrivals” even as the “new arrivals” of yesterday are being displaced and evicted today!…

We need a comprehensive development policy that places housing in its true social context, that protects and enhances our neighborhoods, communities and businesses, that preserves space for the arts, the very young and the very old. To do that will produce real social change that will preserve and enhance a city not only for us but all in the world who, like us, yearn for such a place to live.

Calvin Welch teaches classes in the development history of San Francisco at USF and SFSU. He was a founder of the Coalition for San Francisco Neighborhoods and the Council of Community Housing Organizations... (more)

 

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)

Muni Forward Open Houses

by Rachel Hyden

This year we resolve to make your commute easier. From pedestrian safety improvements that make it safer to walk to transit priority projects that improve Muni reliability, Muni Forward is all about making it easier and safer to get around town.
To kick off 2015, we’re hosting two open houses to share our proposed improvements for the 22 Fillmore and 30 Stockton. Join us to learn more, engage with SFMTA staff, ask questions and share your thoughts!
Your feedback is important as we work together to improve Muni.
Muni Forward January Open Houses
6 – 7:30 p.m., Wednesday, Jan. 14
Marshall Elementary School
1575 15th Street, San Francisco
Can’t make it? Take our project survey!
6 – 7:30 p.m., Wednesday, Jan. 28
North Beach Library
850 Columbus Avenue, San Francisco
Can’t make it? Take our project survey!
These open houses may be the first of 2015, but we’ve got plenty more in store this year. Stay in-the-know about all things Muni Forward by signing up to receive email updates, or follow us on Twitter @MuniForward.
Comment often.

The Case Against Prop A

Prepared by Save Muni – savemuni.com

Proposition A, a $500 million General Obligation transportation bond issue, will be on
the November 4th San Francisco ballot. The cost of Prop A including interest
payments would exceed $1 billion. This huge bond measure should be rejected.
Here’s why:

It Imposes a Large Tax Burden on San Francisco
taxpayers: Prop. A could result in significant hikes of property taxes and rents.

It Provides No Effective Oversight: There is no indication
in the Prop A Ordinance of who would be running the program or who would be
assuring effective oversight. Neither management nor oversight is defined.

Weasel Words: Unlike most bond issues, Proposition A does not allocate
dollar amounts to identified projects. Instead, the measure lists every transportation
category imaginable and then tells us that the projects “may include but are not
limited to the following….”. This language gives the SFMTA a virtual blank check.

Has the SFMTA Earned such Trust?

crowdedMuni
Throwing billions of dollars at this agency hasn’t worked in the past. Why should
things be any better this time?
In 1999 Prop E called for the SFMTA to keep its buses and trains on schedule at least
85% of the time. Today’s compliance rate is 60.6%. Despite the SFMTA’s sky high
annual budget ($978 million in 2013), Muni service has deteriorated. Since 2006, the
SFMTA has eliminated or reduced cross-town runs, slashed neighborhood and night
time service, eliminated 7 bus lines, shortened 22 lines and deferred vehicle
maintenance. If Prop A passes, its “Transit Effectiveness Program” (TEP) would make
additional cuts to pay for new service in selected “high-use” corridors.

SFMTA’s Cost-Control System is in shambles:
This is nothing new. In 2011 the SF Supervisors’ CRG Report concluded that the
SFMTA has been historically unable to meet its capital budgets. The cost of the
Central Subway has already soared from $647 million in November, 2003, to $1.6
billion today. According to a courageous whistle-blower and the Fed’s Oversight
Consultant, the SFMTA’s cost control system remains in disarray and its Central
Subway is headed for a major, as yet undisclosed additional overrun.

Slapped Together by Amateurs: Prop A’s “plan” is not a plan
at all. Instead of putting the most important things first, Prop A’s promoters promise to
spread funds around in response to the clamor of assorted special interest and
benefiting groups. Virtually no attention has been paid to:

  • bringing Muni service and vehicle maintenance up to standard
  • dealing with SF’s anticipated growth and the resulting strains on Muni
  • easing the peak period crush in the Market Street subway
  • putting SFMTA’s financial house in order
  • proceeding based upon an integrated citywide transportation program

A Better Way: San Francisco should tackle its serious transportation
problems seriously. $500 million in new transportation capital, if allocated prudently
and spent effectively, could result in many significant improvements. Before
launching a huge new spending program, let’s get it right. Vote No on Prop A. Tell
City Government to get its priorities straight and come back with a plan that works.
For more information, see: http://noontransportationbond2014.com

Prepared  SaveMuni

Download flyer: http://sfenuf.net/Media/NoOnA.pdf

TWO BITES: MUNI SERVICE CUTS AND GENTRIFICATION

PROTECT CHINATOWN & NORTH BEACH & MUNI!
PLEASE FORWARD THIS TO YOUR GROUP

Wong

Muni cuts, subways, land values and gentrification.
Chinatown, North Beach, Telegraph Hill, Russian Hill and the Waterfront are Mediterranean-like villages. But their affordability, beauty, character and diversity are vulnerable to economic forces. In the Wall Street Journal: “Housing costs near rail stops increased after light rail service started.” (SEE BELOW)

As Muni cuts surface transit, developers push for costly subways. The Central Subway takes $595 million of state/ local matching funds from the Muni system—cutting service. With cost overruns, more service will be cut. (SEE BELOW)

“If they build the Subway, it will ensure major, major new development at the stops in Chinatown and North Beach; and in terms of scale, these neighborhoods will never be the same again.”—Allen B. Jacobs, Past SF Planning Director & Dean of UC Berkeley’s College of Environmental Design

WALL STREET JOURNAL: “Rail Lines Bring Housing Clashes”\
FOR SUBSCRIBERS: http://online.wsj.com/news/articles/SB10001424127887324031404578483241630147144

Professors at Northeastern University in Boston examined 42 neighborhoods in 12 U.S. cities in 2010 and found that housing costs near rail stops increased after light rail service started in many markets. “A new transit station can set in motion a cycle of unintended consequences in which core transit users are priced out in favor of higher-income, car-owning residents.”

Others think the affordable-housing funds compound what they say is an inefficient form of transportation. “The way that you get affordable housing is by stopping the government policies that make it unaffordable in the first place,” said Wendell Cox, a demographer and urban-policy consultant in Illinois.

NEWS AT NORTHEASTERN UNIVERSITY: “Public transit policies may lower ridership”  https://www.northeastern.edu/news/stories/2010/10/transitreport.html

Extending public transportation to a metropolitan neighborhood for the first time can, in some cases, raise rents, bringing in a population of wealthier residents who would rather drive than take public transportation.

That’s the conclusion of a report by the Kitty and Michael Dukakis Center for Urban and Regional Policy, which found that new public transit investments can sometimes lead to gentrification that prices out renters and low-income households—people considered core public-transportation users—working against the public goal of boosting transit ridership.

REPORT: “Maintaining Diversity in America’s Transit-Rich Neighborhoods”
http://nuweb9.neu.edu/dukakiscenter/wp-content/uploads/TRN_Equity_final.pdf

BROOKLYN BUREAU: “How the M-Train is Gentrifying Bushwick”
http://www.bkbureau.org/2013/05/24/how-the-m-train-is-gentrifying-bushwick/

Gentrification that has spilled over from industrial East Williamsburg to residential northeast Bushwick is spreading inexorably southward—thanks to a little help from the Metropolitan Transportation Authority.

“It’s all based on the transit system,” said Andrew Clemens, director of retail leasing for Massey Knakal, a real estate brokerage firm. “The proximity to Union Square on the L train made Williamsburg attractive. Now proximity to midtown on the M train is driving the south Bushwick market.”

CURBED LOS ANGELES: “Black-Owned Businesses Already Being Pushed Out of Leimert Park Ahead of the Crenshaw Line” Link
But it looks like the gentrification train is already headed into the station in the predominantly-black neighborhood–a few weeks ago, Our Weekly reported that, recently, “A number of Black businesses in the Village have been notified that their leases won’t be renewed.” New property owners have been coming in, presumably to get in ahead of the subway, and they’re cleaning house already–several commercial properties have changed hands and tenants say they’re being forced out.

GRIDSKIPPER: “The Most Important Chinatown in the World”
http://gridskipper.com/archives/entries/065/65050.php

“Once spread out over nine city blocks, Washington DC’s Chinatown now comprises a minuscule area that laugh-it-up hipsters refer to as ‘Chinablock’. Even though the community dates back to the 1850s, the most recent census only counted 700 Chinese residents in the neighborhood, making DC the smallest Chinatown in all America. Gentrification happens, right? In 2006, the city of Washington DC spent $200 million to make Chinatown safe and nice for tourists and Virginians. Subsequent side effects included Chinatown becoming much more expensive, really cheesy, and a lot less Chinese. Now it’s that place by the metro to grab lunch before the game at the Verizon Center or a way to break up a day of shopping. It’s also the place to buy a condo if you happen to be a millionaire who wants a room without a view. It’s all quite tragic really, but even more worrisome is the thought that DC Chinatown is the proverbial sparrow in the mineshaft. Will our want of safety and shopping erase the ethnic hoods we love? Let’s discuss!”

“The extension of the Subway tunnels to Washington Square to make a ‘removal pit’ will transform North Beach into something it mustn’t be — and permanently mar its traditional village feeling. With the extension of the Chinatown Subway into the very heart of historicNorth Beach, the special ambience of this fragile quarter will be greatly diminished.”Lawrence Ferlinghetti & City Lights Books, SF Poet Laureate Emeritus

Improving the entire Muni transit system is quicker and less costly—rather than a commuter-oriented subway and gentrification.

MINETA TRANSPORTATION INSTITUTE: Implementation of Zurich’s Transit Priority Program – pdf   “Zurich is famous for the quality of its public transportation system and it has one of the highest levels of per capita transit ridership in the world. This is because its transit service is fast, frequent, reliable and inexpensive due in large part to its transit priority program.” [NOTE: 63% of modal work trips are by public transit].

“The transit priority program enabled all of Zurich’s surface transit lines to improve more quickly and for less money than constructing a new underground line. Consequently, the entire transit network could be improved rather than just building a single line. This was the choice that Zurich faced in a 1973 election that asked voters to spend 1.2 billion Swiss Francs (SFr) for construction of a new underground transit system. Voters rejected that measure and voted instead to provide 200 million SFr over 10 years to implement transit priority measures to make the existing surface transit system more effective.”

MUNI SERVICE CUTS Since 2007, Muni cut service, eliminated 6 bus lines, shortened 22 routes, deferred maintenance, increased missed runs/ switchbacks, increased fares/ fees/ fines/ meters…. In northeastern neighborhoods, the Central Subway’s Phase 1 eliminated the 15-Kearny Bus/ 20-Columbus buses and cut hours for the 41-Union Bus. Later, SFMTA shortened routes for the 10-Townsend/ 12-Folsom buses, decreasing waterfront connectivity. The Central Subway’s Phase 2 will cut 34,000-76,000 bus hours/ year from the 8X, 30 and 45 bus lines. Phase 2 also eliminates the T-Line’s Embarcadero Loop, decreasing trains to Market Street’s BART/ Metro Stations. More buses/ cable cars/ streetcars and new circulator routes would have increased Muni service years ago—quickly and inexpensively.
Redevelopment eradicated the Western Addition and Fillmore neighborhoods. Victorian neighborhoods and its middle-class were demolished Before and after 1906,Chinatown fought off total relocation by developers. Nihonmachi failed in fighting redevelopment and displacement. The Lower Fillmore Jazz District and Afro-American institutions were splintered.

SAVEMUNI CHALLENGES MAYOR’S TRANSPORTATION TASK FORCE REPORT

For Immediate Release

SAVEMUNI CHALLENGES MAYOR’S TRANSPORTATION TASK FORCE REPORT

PRESS CONFERENCE
Wednesday, December 18, 2013 at 1:30 PM
Main Library, 100 Larkin Street (Civic Center)
In Latino/Hispanic Room (Lower Level)

The Mayor’s Transportation Task Force (TTF) recently released its report, but fails to address MUNI’s holistic needs and to materially ease traffic congestion.

Political Allocation of Proposed New Revenue:  This $3 billion proposal to sell bonds, raise sales taxes and increase the vehicle license fee fails to meet the known needs for a better public transit system.
Only about 40% of the recommended revenues go to MUNI.  And those MUNI improvements are described in vague terms, giving politicians substantial discretion to later divert funds to unproductive uses.

New Revenues Must Go Primarily to MUNI: We agree with the Mayor that it is necessary to make a major effort to improve transportation in the city.  But we call upon the TTF to provide at least 75 % of all funds, raised by bond financing and tax and fee increases, to go to specific MUNI projects—to improve the service and reliability of the citywide MUNI transit system and its 700,000 daily riders.

Transportation Task Force Had Pre-determined Conclusion: The results of the Task Force’s work were pre-determined and predicted by SaveMuni.com.  The TTF was mainly made up of administration officials and the business community.  There were no representatives from the community at large and no independent transit experts.  The result was little more than an elaborate ruse to convince voters to approve financing measures slated for the November 2014 ballot.

Dramatically Improve the Declining MUNI System and Social Equity: SaveMuni.com supports street maintenance, traffic signal upgrades, bicycling and walking enhancements.  But other sources of funds should be found for many of those projects given the critical need to improve service for the vast majority of San Franciscans—who depend on MUNI for work, school and daily life.

Contacts:
Bob Feinbaum       510 534-7008     bobf@att.net
Howard Wong        415 982-5055     WongAIA@aol.com
www.SaveMuni.com

The Canary is Dead: With the Central Subway Project, the Only Way Out is Through

By Joe Eskenazi : sfweekly – excerpt

News that the Transbay Terminal is something like $300 million over budget should not come as a shock to anyone. We always knew the initial estimate was way under the real cost. Just like we never had a real cost for the Central Subway or the Bay Bridge or any other massive construction project. So get off it. In the world of civic projects, the first budget is really just a down payment. If people knew the real cost from the start, nothing would ever be approved. The idea is to get going. Start digging a hole and make it so big, there’s no alternative to coming up with the money to fill it in.
Willie Brown, San Francisco Chronicle, July 28

Losing by less is the new winning. Keeping your job is the new raise. And being honest about your dishonesty is the new truthfulness. We laugh so as not to cry.

There’s plenty in the Chronicle these days to make you laugh or cry. But nothing induces the urge to house-train a puppy quite like the ongoing platform provided to former Mayor Brown, who ridicules the public for believing him while he admits lowballing projects covered with his fingerprints — by billions…

At times, it’s difficult to remember that voters approved the Central Subway. That’s because the project, a 1.7-mile extension of the T-line running from SoMa to Chinatown, as described in Proposition K of 2003, hardly resembles its current iteration. A $647 million budget has swelled to some $1.6 billion. An estimated daily ridership exceeding 100,000 is now pegged at 35,100.

But if misery loves company, we’ve got both. A recent U.S. Department of Transportation study of 10 major rail projects revealed an average cost-per-passenger 500 percent higher than the initial figures used to sell the idea. “It is certainly possible,” the study concludes, “that decision-makers acting on more accurate forecasts of costs and future ridership … would have selected projects other than those reviewed here.”…