Cars still hold No. 1 spot for getting around in SF — and it’s getting worse

By Phil Matier : sfchronicle – excerpt

Despite millions of dollars spent on new bike lanes and other transit improvements, people still favor cars when it comes to commuting in and around San Francisco, a new report by the city’s Municipal Transportation Agency concludes.

“We can change the roads, but human behavior hasn’t changed since William Shakespeare started writing about it,” quipped SFMTA board member Art Torres.

And people like cars, whether it’s their own or a hire…

Commuting by bike, which surged by 140 percent between 2005 and 2015, has dropped in recent years… (more)

It is very heard to force people to do things they don’t want to do. Is changing public behavior the proper role for public servants in Democratic society?

Mobility report shows bike trips on the decline in SF

By Joe Fitzgerald Rodriguez : sfexaminer – excerpt

San Franciscans may be spurning two-wheeled trips.

Nearly 20,000 fewer daily bicycle trips were taken in 2017 compared to 2016, data revealed Monday by The City’s newest “Mobility Trends” report shows.

The dwindling bike numbers look even worse when compared to The City’s record-setting year for bike trips, 2015, which reached a height of 126,000 average bicycle trips per day.

By 2016 those average daily trips dropped to 115,000, then down to 95,000 by 2017…

While solo bike trips in The City continue to fall, more people are hopping into cars and causing record-level traffic congestion, according to the mobility report. Muni ridership remains relatively stable…(more)

Valencia bike shop claims their business in on decline. We suggest a talk with the merchants on Valencia and other bike-friendly streets to see which industries are thriving and which are wilting under the combined weight of bike lanes and TNCs.

 

 

Self-Driving Vehicles Are Going to Make Traffic Even More Miserable, Says New Study

By Taylor Donovan Barnett : interestingengineering – excerpt

Whether you like it or not, self-driving cars will be hitting the road in full-force in the coming years. Thanks to new technology developed by companies like Tesla and even Uber, autonomous vehicles will become a staple of modern culture, with nearly 10 million self-driving cars expected to hit the road by 2020.

Yet, not all is well across the autonomous landscape. Like any new technology, there have literally been speed bumps in the world of self-driving cars. From accidents to malfunctioning AI, self-driving vehicles are still very much in their infancy.

However, new research in the world of autonomous vehicles has uncovered another potential issue down the line, parking. Anyone living in a metropolitan area will tell you that parking is always a long-winded adventure. According to a new study, autonomous vehicles could create a problematic parking issue…

The Autonomous Vehicle Parking Problem

Professor Millard breaks down his concerns further in his published paper, “The Autonomous Vehicle problem.” In his paper, he estimates that just the presence of the relatively small amount of 2,000 self-driving vehicles in the San Francisco area will slow traffic to less than 2 miles per hour(more)

Want to work on a job that is threatened by this new tech future plan? Do not want to live in the slow lane? Maybe take this up with your state public utility regulation agency, your state reps and your local government officials now. Insist on a pubic conversation about this new technology.

Los Angeles Is Now Offering Car Rides to Metro Stations

By Aarian Marshall : wired – excerpt

Public transit agencies are not known for their flashy, up-to-date technology. In many cities, you’re lucky if your diesel bus shows up on time. But this week, the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority is trying something new.

Starting today, riders who live near three Metro stations will be able to download an app, tap a few times, and have a car show up at their door—or at least within a few blocks—and take them to that station. The service, provided by ride-hail company Via, will cost riders with the system’s TAP cards $1.75, though it will be free for those who already use Metro’s low-income subsidy programs. Riders will share their car trips with between two and five others, but the agency says they shouldn’t have to wait longer than 10 minutes for a pick-up.

If LA has its way, the one-year experiment with on-demand service will solve the devious first-mile, last-mile problem, connecting those who live just a touch too far away from stations to get there. The idea is to make it easier for a whole new group of people to use mass transit. “We’ve created an additional layer of public transportation,” says Chris Snyder, Via’s head of global expansion. “It’s complementary.”… (more)

This sounds like a jitney service similar to the one San Francisco just nixed. This also looks like a last gasp effort to an “anything but” solution that is picking winners among the corporate choices, but, I suppose any service can offer a cheap alternative, including neighbors with their own cars. Hope it works for the public who needs it.

Los Angeles Congestion Pricing Study

By Howard Wong : savemuni – excerpt

For San Francisco, I’ve had qualms about a regressive congestion tax that disproportionately harms low-income drivers.  Los Angeles is studying a congestion pricing plan that could fund free public transit—which better competes against surging ride-sharing.  In the not-too-distant future, free public transit could move towards automated micro-buses that adopt on-demand ride-share technology.  Free, frequent, 24/7 public transit would be equitable and democratic…

RELATED: A Possible congestion pricing plan for Los Angeles takes a step forward

ARCHITECT’S NEWSPAPER:  Metro officials claim that congestion pricing could bring in enough new funding to lower base transit fares or even make the entire system free to ride. It’s possible that with the right congestion pricing plan, Metro could make transit more affordable and useful as it makes driving more expensive and difficult in tandem… (more)

 

Engineers Approve Repair Plan For Transbay Terminal Cracked Beams

Authorities with the Transbay Transit center in San Francisco have approval from an independent expert review panel on their plan of a repair of those cracked beams that forced the center’s closure last year, but the reopening date is still uncertain.

The repair plan, presented last month to the governing board of the authority, involves bolting new steel plates to the top and bottom of the cracked beams.

Christine Falvey, spokeswoman for the Transbay authority, said steel is now on order to complete the repair of the cracks, which NBC Bay Area’s investigative unit reported were caused when crews cut holes into the four inch thick steel in the steel base of the beams… (more)

Steel plates to reinforce cracked beams under Transit Center repair plan

By Laura Waxmann : sfexaminer – excerpt

Plans have been approved to repair fractured beams at the temporarily shuttered Salesforce Transit Center by reinforcing them with steel plates, Transbay Joint Powers Authority officials said Friday.

The repair plans were reviewed and approved last month by a peer review panel of the Metropolitan Transportation Commission, which is also developing recommendations guiding additional inspections at the center prior. No date has been set for the center to reopen… (more)

 

After transbay fare hike, it can be cheaper to drive than ride AC Transit

By Rachel Swan : sfchronicle – excerpt

The cost to take an AC Transit bus across the Bay Bridge jumped to $5.50 Tuesday, which means that at some times of day, bus passengers will pay more than people who drive.

It’s the first of three increases over five years, intended to pay for service improvements and capital costs at the Transbay Transit Center, which has been closed since September. Fares shot up by a dollar Tuesday and will rise by 50 cents next year, and another 50 cents in 2022, bringing the price then to $6.50… (more)

It is one step forward and another back for commuters on AC Transit.

With BART, bridges and highways jammed, ferries’ popularity swells in Bay Area

By Rachel Swan : sfchronicle – excerpt

As recently as 10 years ago, ferries were still a novelty in the region — old-fashioned, diesel-belching beasts that drew tourists, but didn’t serve many weekday commuters. That’s all changed as BART chokes with standing-room crowds and more people seek alternatives to perpetually snarled freeways. The Bay Area is now the third biggest market for ferries in the country behind Seattle and New York City. It seems the future of mass transit includes more of the ambling boats of the past…

“For five years, we’ve had year-over-year growth, and now we’re maxed out,” said Priya Clemens, spokeswoman for the Golden Gate Bridge Highway and Transportation District, which oversees the Larkspur ferry…

The downside is crowding, which creates a quandary for Golden Gate Ferry, the boat-operating arm of the bridge district.

Next year, Golden Gate may increase the number of daily trips out of Larkspur, which now stands at 42. The proposed service boost may become more urgent next year because it coincides with a planned extension of the North Bay SMART train to a new stop in Larkspur. Once that stop opens, it will likely send more commuters flocking to the Larkspur ferry… (more)

 

Legal battle over new Bay Area bridge toll hikes could stall region’s transit projects

By Kevin Fixler : pressdemocrat – excerpt

Commuters will pay an extra $1 to cross the Bay Area’s seven state-owned bridges come Jan. 1, as part of a voter-approved measure to raise money for major transit upgrades. But the improvements could be delayed after state and transportation officials were hit with an unanticipated legal roadblock, preventing release of hundreds of millions of dollars for cash-strapped road projects, including a North Bay Highway 101 widening.

The Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association, a statewide taxpayers’ rights advocacy group, filed a lawsuit in July against the California Legislature and the Bay Area Toll Authority, arguing the ballot measure allowing $3 in bridge toll hikes over the next six years constitutes a tax rather than a fee. Therefore, the group contends, Regional Measure 3 should have met the state requirement of two-thirds majority for approval, instead of the 55 percent support it received from voters across the Bay Area’s nine counties.

The legal complaint, filed in San Francisco Superior Court, was amended in October, and a date has yet to be set for the case… (more)

’Tis the Season to Share the Ride

mtc – excerpt

MTC and its Bay Area partners have launched several new Bay Area promotions to encourage Bay Area travelers to share the ride. “It’s the season for sharing, so share a ride and be rewarded in more ways than one,” said Barbara Laurenson, manager of MTC’s carpool program.

MTC’s recently established Bay Area Vanpool Program is offering direct subsidies to new and existing vanpools, thanks to an infusion of over $9.5 million approved by MTC  in July of 2018 for the next five years. “Vanpooling is a good option for commuters traveling 40 miles or more each way and who have pretty regular schedules,” said Lloyd Nadal, program manager for Solano County, where many of the region’s vanpools originate. Qualifying vanpools that rent their vehicles through Enterprise (the preferred vendor for the Vanpool Program) can now reduce the cost of their monthly van rates by $350, courtesy of MTC. Vanpool groups can apply for subsidies at Commute With Enterprise. Vanpoolers can pay for their remaining vanpool costs with pretax dollars, further reducing the cost of their shared commute… (more)

Why are carpools and car shares so unpopular? For years government has been trying to entice people into carpool lanes and car shares, but, for some reason, not many people bite, even when it means driving in crowded slower lanes, and paying higher tolls to drive solo.

Financial incentives haven’t made much difference either. One of the local TV news teams set up competition to see who got some faster using various means of transportation, and the slowest commute was the attempt to pick up a ride at a casual car share station. Nobody stopped to pick anyone up.

There has to be a reason that is eluding the transit professionals. Could it be a general distrust of strangers? Could it be that fear is the motivating factor that keeps people in their cars? Is the need to feel in control of one’s own destiny is more important than saving time and money? Is putting oneself in the hands of an unreliable system that breaks down daily too much to ask?