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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New 300-passenger ferry to join SF Bay fleet

By Michael Toren : sfexaminer – excerpt

San Francisco Bay will soon see a new commuter ferry grace its waters, as officials aim to ease congestion on the roads and crowded BART trains.

The construction of a new high-speed ferry was commissioned Thursday to join the growing fleet of public transit vessels crisscrossing local waters.

The Board of Directors of the San Francisco Bay Area Water Emergency Transportation Authority, the public transit agency that runs the San Francisco Bay Ferry service, voted to approve the construction of the $13 million ferry which is expected to be delivered by 2020… (more)

No mention on where the ferry will be docking. Maybe that decision will come later.

 

Op-ed: Before Breed Axes Transit Chief, Crucial Changes Needed at City Hall

: streetsblog – excerpt

Sacking Ed Reiskin won’t accomplish anything without a paradigm shift in governance

Last month, Mayor London Breed expressed frustration with Muni’s poor performance in a sternly-worded letter to Ed Reiskin, the city’s transportation director. The move signaled that Reiskin’s tenure might soon end. But if the mayor is going to throw him under the bus, she certainly knows not to count on it arriving on time. Only about half of the city’s buses show up according to schedule, a benchmark that no mayor in recent memory has been able to budge.

The time may have come for a new transit boss, but anyone who heads the San Francisco Municipal Transit Agency (SFMTA) will fail unless firm, decisive changes occur at City Hall.

The first priority: Create a bold vision for Muni. And it must come directly from our new mayor… (more)

 Everyone seems to anticipate that Ed will go and are glad to see the back of him. He appears to have little support from the pubic that is made up of cyclists, drivers, Muni riders and government officials. It will be hard for the Mayor to keep him much longer.

Forum on the Future of Transportation in San Francisco

SAVE THE DATE !
Saturday, September 29, 10 AM- Noon
Koret Auditorium, SF Main Library

Please ensure you attend this important event to start a city wide dialogue on improvements necessary to increase ridership on our MUNI system and reduce traffic congestion.

PROGRAM:

  1. One of Seattle’s transportation leaders will present on their unique increase in transit ridership.
  2. Analysis of a major study on the role of transportation networking companies
  3. Role of congestion pricing in San Francisco
  4. Next steps to create a better transportation policy for our city
    We have invited Mayor London Breed to extend a welcome and to share the results of her recent letter to the city’s Municipal Transportation Agency.
  5. A moderator will take questions from the audience after the conclusion of the presentations and pose them to the panelists.

Sponsored by Save Muni and co-sponsored by the Coalition for San Francisco Neighborhoods. Contact and RSVP: Bob Feinbaum bo…@att.net

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

Uber shuts down its controversy-steeped self-driving truck effort to focus on autonomous cars

usatoday – excerpt

SAN FRANCISCO — Uber’s self-driving vehicle efforts are now entirely focused on automobiles, a technological challenge that could mean a financial windfall to ride-hailing companies.

The company recently announced it was shuttering its self-driving truck division, which after its founding in 2016 almost immediately became mired in controversy and was the subject of a lawsuit by rival self-driving car company, Google-owned Waymo.

“We recently took the important step of returning to public roads in Pittsburgh,” Eric Meyhofer, head of Uber Advanced Technologies Group, said in a statement provided to USA TODAY. “As we look to continue that momentum, we believe having our entire team’s energy and expertise focused on this effort is the best path forward.”

Uber’s self-driving efforts took a big hit earlier this year when one of its Volvo SUVs equipped with autonomous sensors failed to detect a pedestrian crossing the street in a Phoenix suburb. The Volvo’s safety driver also did not react in time, leading to the death of Elaine Herzberg, 49… (more)

This is another case of selling products that don’t exist while they are in an experimental design phase to get ahead of the perceived competition. Good to hear they are at least letting go of self-driving trucks.

Zero-emissions ferry coming to Bay waters

KQED – excerpt

The Bay Area will soon welcome the nation’s first energy efficient ferry, powered by hydrogen fuel cells, a green technology that its inventor hopes will revolutionize the global maritime industry. Alameda startup Golden Gate Zero Emission Marine announced on Monday that it had won a $3 million grant from the California Air Resources Board to help develop the “Water-Go-Round” passenger ferry. Do you currently commute by ferry? How do you feel about an energy efficient ferry? Story: http://bit.ly/nd2KoubNb

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)

Transportation Authority, C/CAG Sign Off on Shuttles

patch – excerpt

The TA has been funding shuttles through Measure A funds since 2002, when it started routes serving Caltrain Stations.

From San Mateo County Transpo Authority: The San Mateo County Transportation Authority (TA) Board of Directors approved $9 million in funding for its shuttle program at its May meeting. Last night, the City and County Association of Governments (C/CAG) voted to contribute $1 million to the program, which will run 35 shuttles throughout San Mateo County… (more)