SF’s Van Ness project nearly 2 years behind schedule, millions over budget

By Phil Matier : sfchronicle – excerpt

The $316 million makeover of San Francisco’s Van Ness Avenue is running a year and nine months behind schedule, according to the main contractor, with the completion date now pushed to late 2021.

At the same time, contractors have submitted claims for cost overruns totaling $21.6 million, with more claims likely to come.

“It’s ridiculous. We need better project management both from the contractors and from the MTA,” said San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency board member Art Torres (more)

Career Briefs: Sonali Bose, San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency’

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• Sonali Bose, San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency’s director of finance and information technology, has retired. During her tenure, she raised the SFMTA’s credit rating to be the highest of any transit agency in the country. She oversaw a new parking program that adjusts rates at meters and garages to match demand. She helped fund the biggest increase in Muni bus and rail service that San Francisco has ever seen and increased the revenue from the agency’s advertising contracts from $400,000 to $30 million. Bose helped beef up Muni service by 10 percent, replaced the buses and light-rail vehicles, boosted the workforce from 4,000 to 6,000 employees and doubled the budget… (more)

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.

Muni cuts training hours to boost number of train operators, combat driver shortage

By Joe Fitzgerald Rodriguez : sfexaminer – excerpt

In its scramble to roll out qualified train operators quickly amid a citywide Muni slowdown caused by an operator shortage, The City’s transportation agency has cut its standards and reduced the training hours for train operators, the San Francisco Examiner has learned.

Additionally, the number of hours certified trainers teach operators has been cut. Instead, operators are partially trained by other, already-trained operators that may not be certified trainers themselves — a practice that has the Muni operators union crying foul.

“If operators themselves don’t feel safe with their own training, how safe is the service being provided?” said Roger Marenco, president of the Transport Workers Union Local 250-A, in an August interview with the Examiner…(more)

Muni can’t seem to win. Maye they should listen to the workers instead of the voices in their head? We understand the biggest problem for the drivers is that they do not feel safe or respected. Why talk to the PUC? Aren’t they the group that is in charge of all the Uber, Lyfts and non-public disruptors? What do the drivers say about their training? Are they satisfied? Or may we ask?

Peskin seeks to block dockless electric rental scooters in SF

By Joshua Sabatini : sfexaminer – excerpt

Aaron Peskin introduced legislation Tuesday that would prohibit and assess fines for dockless motorized rental scooters if they show up on San Francisco’s streets.

Last year, The City took steps to block the emergence of dockless rental bikes from being dumped on San Francisco streets without permits. Peskin on Tuesday said the most recent emerging technology is dockless motorized scooters, which are rented through smartphone apps. The devices are motorized push scooters resembling large Razor scooters…

Currently is no permit required for leaving unattended motorized scooters that are part of a rental program. The legislation would require motorized scooter rental companies to obtain a permit from the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency. Without a permit, the scooters could be deemed a nuisance, and Public Works could confiscate them.

The legislation, which requires approval by the full Board of Supervisors to become law, would also allow the SFMTA to assess fines and the City Attorney to seek civil penalties against companies operating without a permit… (more)

Uber Finally Admits It’s Taking on Buses

By Paris Marx : medium – excerpt

It’s not the only company looking to control urban transportation

Uber’s transportation ambitions have steadily grown since its inception. It started by taking on black cars, then challenged taxis before getting into food delivery and launching uberPOOL, which increasingly came to resemble a fixed-route bus service. But Uber diehards have insisted that the company was just innovating on its taxi model, not going after transit…

At a recent conference, Dara Khosrowshahi, who replaced co-founder Travis Kalanick as CEO in August 2017, told attendees, I want to run the bus systems for a city. I want you to be able to take an Uber and get into the subway… get out and have an Uber waiting for you.” He also compared the role of cars in Uber’s business model to that of books in Amazon’s: the first step to expanding into multiple other markets. With that information, do you still not believe Uber is going after transit?…

Uber Can’t be Trusted to Operate Transit

Becoming a transit operator is not simply the ambition of a new Uber CEO, but has been part of the company’s strategy for at least a couple of years. It already has agreements with a number of smaller cities in the United States and Canada to subsidize ride-hailing trips, occasionally with conditions attached. But there’s good reason to be worried about Uber’s intentions and the service it would ultimately deliver…

Uber’s ride-hailing service made the auto experience worse for millions of people by increasing congestion and travel times; is there any reason to believe the same won’t happen if it makes a more concerted push into transit? (more)

To some people is appears as if the SFMTA has been bought out by the private sector and is letting it fail apart while the agency concentrates on one huge construction project after another. Is it possible to have a real transportation director who does nothing but manage the public transportation system? Will a Charter Amendment save the public Muni system from Uber?

Central Subway problems persist

Op-ed by Gerald Cauthen : sfexmainer – excerpt

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Have you ever wondered how the Central Subway project, a 1.7-mile rail extension of Muni’s Third Street line from Fourth and King to Chinatown, managed to get so bollixed up? Here’s a brief history of what happened:

At the end of 2017, it was announced the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency’s Central Subway manager, John Funghi, was leaving his post for the $1.6 billion project to work on Caltrain electrification. His departure came shortly after Tutor-Perini, the station contractor, released a report Nov. 1, 2017, showing that the project is more than two years behind schedule and burdened with more than 1,300 construction contractor claims outstanding — only 73 of which had at that time been addressed by the SFMTA — leaving the remaining 94 percent awaiting “processing.”

As things stand, the trains won’t be rolling into Chinatown before Spring 2021, at least 29 months behind schedule.

The true extent of the project’s construction cost and delay problems are now revealed: The Tutor-Perini report submitted to Supervisor Aaron Peskin lays out the problems in detail and asks Peskin, who is also chair of the San Francisco County Transportation Authority, to help resolve the hundreds if not thousands of outstanding issues between it and the SFMTA. In view of the many months of the Federal Transportation Administration’s Project Oversight Reports repeatedly warning of unfilled SFMTA positions and other staffing problems, and of accumulating contractor claims and accruing project delays, this came as no great surprise.

Yet, as recently as three months ago, the leadership of the SFMTA was still contending that, although the actions of the contractor had delayed things by nine months, the project was still within budget. That was before the 1,300 claims came to light; it is now clear the project is both way behind schedule and way over budget. From what has been revealed to date, it appears that because of a “head-in-the-sand” response to serious Central Subway design and construction problems, the ultimate cost of the project has increased substantially, thereby placing the SFMTA and San Francisco taxpayers in financial jeopardy… (more)

Gerald Cauthen represents SaveMuni, an all-volunteer, nonprofit organization created to help find ways of improving Muni and the other transit services leading into and serving San Francisco.

Lack of jobs is hardly a problem. A lack of talented workers is. This is exacerbated by an agency that can’t say no to every hair-brained scheme special interest groups come up with. If the SFMTA were only allowed to work on one large construction project at a time and finish it before starting another one, we might have a system and city that functioned.

We understand SFMTA is giving project managers multiple projects to manage. We were told that is what happened on Potrero. Their excuse is that if they don’t start a project they lose funding for it. The SFMTA and the director have bitten off too much to chew and they have buried their heads in the sand in hopes we won’t notice their incompetence. They will continue the blame game while biting the hands that feed them until they are put out to pasture. The voters have a say if the Supervisors give them a chance to restructure the department.

Private security company failed to fulfill SFMTA contract

By  Bay City News : sfexaminer – excerpt

The private security company hired to protect San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency employees failed to fulfill its contract in four key areas, according to a report released Thursday.

Cypress Security LLC was paid for 34 hours of security services over an eight-week period during the 2015-16 fiscal year that weren’t supported by time records, according to an audit report from the Office of the Controller’s City Services Auditor Division.

This calls into question whether or not payments related to the 24 guards’ activities – about $41,500 – should have been made during the 2015-16 fiscal year, according to the audit report.

Also, Cypress couldn’t demonstrate that its three subcontractors comply with liability insurance and minimum compensation requirements, nor could the company demonstrate its own or its subcontractors’ compliance with health benefit requirements, the audit report said.

The contract compliance audit was done by Sjoberg Evashenk Consulting, Inc., at the behest of the city auditor…(more)

Bad contracts are popping up all over the streets as we dodge the mess they are causing to our streets and the stress on our lives. Stop all new projects until the ones underway are complete. Celebrate finished jobs, not job starts and breaking more ground. We have enough broken ground already.

Shuttle Bus Report due November 15

Notes from the front lines:

Friday, Oct 21, 2016 at the MTA Board Policy and Governance Committee meeting, MTA Staff revealed the midyear review of the  Commuter Bus Program would be presented to the MTA Board on Tuesday, November 15, 2016 which usually begins at 1PM.

This midyear review was negotiated with the Board of Supervisors when the current one year program began on April 1, 2016.  Staff indicated the presentation would include general statistics,  (constant) complaints,  and overall program summary.   Staff indicated this is a living document (which I interpret as subject to constant change.)

No mention was made of the HUB System which as part of the BOS agreement.  Also, no mention  of the current resident housing displacement study caused by the Tech workers.

So, mark your calendar for Tuesday, November 15, 2016 at 1PM and weigh in with public comment.   The staff report/presentation should be available Friday, November 11, 2016 at 1PM (72 hours before the meeting).

Lastly, contact me if you are able to attend.
Thanks, Ed

The SFMTA can just pay the anti-displacement mapping project for their report on the displacement. They have already done the work and their work product is a living document.

 

 

Proposed Condos At Pagoda Theater Site Could Stymie Central Subway Extension Plan

BY CALEB PERSHAN : sfist – excerpt

With the goal of expanding the Central Subway project from Chinatown to Fisherman’s Wharf, an oft-cited item on the SFMTA’s future project “wish list,” Supervisor Julie Christensen is pushing the City of San Francisco to purchase land at the intersection of Columbus and Powell in her district. The former home of the now-razed Pagoda Theater, the site was used as an exit point for the Subway project’s tunnel boring machines, but as Hoodline first reported, plans are in motion to break ground on the site for luxury condos as soon as November. Now things are heating up, the Examiner reports, with Christensen redoubling her efforts to claim the property for the City, a move she cites as important to the subway’s expansion. She’s now asked city government’s Real Estate Division to re-assess the property.

“We are lighting bonfires under their fannies,” Christensen said. “I’ve finally gotten a lot of people to share my sense of urgency.” Christensen is joined by vocal “let’s always be building a Subway” advocate Supervisor Scott Wiener, who writes to Facebook “I’m proud to join my colleague Supervisor Julie Christensen to co-sponsor her initiation of the process to purchase a critical site in North Beach to preserve it for a future North Beach subway station for the extension of the Central Subway…We can’t afford to lose this site to condo development.”… (more)

RELATED:
Supervisor takes steps to purchase key site for Central Subway expansion