Vote NO on Prop K

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BAIT, SWITCH and GRAB

A regressive sales tax is counterproductive.  Prop K uses the widely felt desire to aid the  homeless to divert funds from cash-strapped city services to one city agency—which we have already given billions of dollars in sales taxes, bonds, fares, fees and fines.  For any one of the following reasons, Vote No on Prop K: 

  • City Economist’s economic impact report of Prop K: “The tax increase is expected to generate nearly as much tax revenue as it costs in consumption spending [lost retail sales] —approximately $154 million by 2017-18.” 
  • As shoppers flee San Francisco for lower sales taxes, particularly along the southern border and easily into nearby neighborhoods, small businesses will be disproportionately impacted. 
  • With ever-rising sales taxes and fees, low and middle-income residents and families will be disproportionately impacted. 
  • Double-Dipping:  San Francisco’s sales tax already has an existing fixed transportation allocation. 
  • Prop K is the economic-equivalent of rearranging deck chairs on the Titanic—instead of managing the City’s $9.6 billion budget, which exceeds that of many states and small countries. 
  • Despite billions of dollars in expenditures, with a $241 million annual budget, homelessness is worsening. 
  • Despite billions of dollars in expenditures, Muni’s per capita ridership has declined—indicating the need for sound decision-making, not just money. 
  • Despite billions of dollars of expenditures and one of the largest budgets in history, voters are taxed more and more for less and less. 

Transit First at Last

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sfmta_logo

SaveMuni has often been critical of the SFMTA. However this time it has earned our thanks and commendation. But first a little history.

On March 19, 1973, San Francisco’s Board of Supervisors adopted one of the country’s first “transit-first” policies. In those days idea of “transit-first” was virtually unheard of. However to harried Muni riders whose jammed buses continually crept along in congestion, it sounded like manna from heaven. Henceforth Muni’s bus loads of people were to be given a higher priority on crowded city streets, and the riders cheered.

But nothing happened. Decades went by with little change on the clogged roadways where it was most needed. Continue Reading

RAB Discussion at CSFN

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On Tuesday June 19th, at a meeting of the Coalition for San Francisco Neighborhoods (CSFN), San Francisco Planning Director John Rahaim and SaveMuni’s Gerald Cauthen presented the arguments for and against Mayor Edmund Lee’s “RAB Study” (which is geared to facilitating the full build-out of Mission Bay).   Mr. Rahaim believes that now is the time to look at Mission Bay in a comprehensive and long-term way.    He noted that he personally would not support any plan that delayed the downtown extension of Caltrain (DTX) for more than two years.

Mr. Cauthen stressed the importance of the DTX project and pointed out that 30 months of RAB planning have produced no definitive proposals, no cost estimates, no traffic counts and no hint of how many years or decades RAB would delay DTX.  Cauthen also questioned RAB’s desire to remove the north end of the I-280 freeway and asked that the streets destined to bear the brunt of 8 lanes of freeway traffic be identified.

A resolution currently before the CSFN would give RAB planners until September 15th to conform their plans to the DTX project as currently configured and aligned.

Driverless Cars Could Wreck Livable Cities

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Guest Editorial: Driverless Cars Could Wreck Livable Cities

By Jason Henderson

CarShareHigherRez-580x435

A tweet by Jon Orcutt illustrates why driverless cars offer little towards sustainable cities.

Over the past year driverless cars have been promoted as a panacea for livable cities. The storyline is that driverless cars will help reduce car ownership, free-up urban space for walking and biking, and help reduce death and injury. The USDOT has joined the parade with its “smart city challenge,” awarding Columbus, Ohio a $40 million prize to implement a demonstration project that includes incorporating driverless cars.

Continue Reading

SaveMuni joins Warriors arena lawsuit

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From Business Wire:

Opponents of Warriors Proposed S.F. Arena Win Another Court Victory
Judge Rules Transit Advocacy Group Can Join Litigation Opposing Mission Bay Arena

Major Hearing on Mission Bay Alliance Lawsuits this Friday in S.F. Superior Court Against Warriors, City of San Francisco

June 15, 2016 02:11 PM Eastern Daylight Time
SAN FRANCISCO–(BUSINESS WIRE)–One of the leading San Francisco transit advocacy groups can join opponents of proposed Golden State Warriors Arena as a Plaintiff in the litigation to keep the arena out of Mission Bay, according to a ruling by San Francisco Superior Court Judge Garrett Wong.

“The ill-considered RAB proposals would dump tens of thousands of additional cars a day into vulnerable parts of San Francisco and add billions of tax-payer dollars to the cost of getting Caltrain into downtown San Francisco”

Judge Wong ruled Thursday that SaveMuni, a dedicated association of transit activists, environmentalists and neighborhood leaders, will be allowed to legally join the fight against the Golden State Warriors.

Continue Reading

Paratransit Roundup

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paratransitbus

At SaveMuni’s May 16th meeting, SFMTA Paratransit Coordinator Jonathan Cheng briefed the group on San Francisco’s paratransit program and the services it provides.  The program operates for 365 days a year and is designed for people who do not have the ability to ride ordinary Muni buses.  It has 13,500 registered riders.  The SFMTA’s Paratransit program is comprised of “SF Access”, a “Shop Around” program and a taxi service.

1.)  “SF Access” takes ADA eligible riders to any destination within the Muni service area, but sometimes requires one or more transfers between vehicles. Riders must schedule their “SF Access” trips at least 24 hours in advance but can if they desire schedule their trip up to seven days in advance.  Approximately 87% of all “SF Access” trips are on-time. A trip is considered on time when the rider is picked up within the 20 minute window, which extends from 5 minute before and 15 minutes after the scheduled pick up time.

2.)  Group Shuttles:  There are also regularly scheduled group shuttles to certain designated facilities, which saves riders time and is often paid for by the facilities themselves. For instance a “Shop-A-Round” service takes elderly and disabled people to stores and helps them do their shopping.  The Shop-a-Round program is not federally mandated but is available to all (65+) seniors as well as to ADA eligible individuals with RTC cards

3.)  Taxi Service.  ADA eligible paratransit users are also provided with a limited amount of door-to-door taxi service every month.  Cab companies are not required to have handicapped-accessible vehicles, but do receive a $10 bonus per trip, and other incentives, for providing the service.  As with the other services, taxi drivers must be able to assist users in getting back and forth between the doors of their origins and destinations and the taxi.

Continue Reading

Mayor Lee’s “Study” seeks to derail Caltrain Extension

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RAB-Phase-1-Caltrain-Alignment

Southern Pacific completed its new headquarters building at Market and Spear Streets in 1916.  The new structure included provision for a future passenger rail terminal that was never built.  However people continued to talk about the need to extend the Peninsula trains  (now known as Caltrain).   By 1970, with the north-south freeway traffic between San Mateo and San Francisco counties steadily increasing, it was obvious that something needed to be done.  A series of studies of the proposed extension ensued, with the intent of identifying the best extension route and the financing needed to add the last 1.3 mile link to the 78-mile existing Caltrain system.

By 1999, San Francisco voters had reached a consensus. Proposition H, which passed by a vote of 69.3% required that San Francisco’s elected politicians and transportation officials make the Downtown Caltrain Extension (DTX) their highest transportation priority. Detailed planning, environmental assessments, and scores of community meetings resulted in the Metropolitan Transportation Commission’s designation of DTX in 2013 as one of the Bay Area’s two transit priorities in line for federal New Starts funding.

Unfortunately, for the past 15 years San Francisco city officials, while paying lip service to the Caltrain extension, have done virtually nothing to advance the project.  In fact, in 2014, the Planning Department began a multi-year study which is actually undermining the prospects of bringing Caltrain downtown. The Department’s Railyards/I-280 (RAB) study conducted its first public meeting on February 23, 2016, eight months behind schedule, at a raucous session on Potrero Hill. Furious neighbors chastised the secretive planners, particularly for failing to provide any cost or other details of their plans and for their proposal to tear down the north end of I-280.  Also controversial were proposals to relocate the existing railyards to some as yet undefined remote location, and to spend billions of dollars relocating the Caltrain tracks to accommodate Mission Bay developers, particular the developers of a proposed basketball arena.

Private estimates of the RAB proposals put the resulting extra public cost at over $6 billion.  And while San Francisco dithers, the anticipated federal New Starts funding of $650 million needed to help complete the Caltrain extension hangs in the balance.

A new administration in Washington next year will bring new priorities for transportation so the hard won place on the list for federal funds for the Caltrain extension may well be lost. By waiting passively in the wings, the city’s elected politicians threaten to derail a vital regional project that has been over a century in the making. Or they could step up and be counted as genuine backers of the vital DTX project.

Modernizing Caltrain

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caltrainmod1

In March, SaveMuni invited Caltrain’s Casey Fronson to tell us about the Caltrain Modernization Program. We were excited about what we heard.

Caltrain operates the 51 miles of track between San Francisco and San Jose once known as the San Francisco and San Jose Railroad, which has been in use for the last 150 years. The line has experienced big growth since 2004, when the “Baby Bullet” trains were introduced, speeding up service. Currently the cars are getting very full around rush hour, especially on the morning northbound trains. It will be hard to get much more growth out of the current diesel locomotives, which start and stop slowly and need a lot of space between them, and 2/3 of which are already due for retirement.

Continue Reading

Shuttle Buses…a Call to Arms!

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On Friday, February 1, 2016, the SFMTA’s Major/Minor Arterial Plan governing the actions of  the private operators of the over-sized corporate commute buses (sometimes called hi-tech buses or Google buses) finally went into effect.   This new program sets forth a set of specific operating rules and the challenge is now one of enforcing those rules.  Please join me in watching for and reporting violations.    

If you spot a violation, record the date, time, location, travel direction, Placard Number, Bus operator/bus number and the nature of the violation and send me the information in an e-mail. <zabredala3@yahoo.com>.  Or if you prefer you can send your complaint directly to the SFMTA.  Because of the SFMTA’s lax and sporadic enforcement of previos operating rules the private operators have a long history of thumbing their noses at city rules and regulation.  For this reason it is likely to take a concerted effort to bring down the violations.  Thanks, Ed

Here are the new requirements:

Street Operations:

Commuter  buses 40 to 45 feet in length will be restricted to the following streets in the Noe Valley Area:

MAJOR Arterials:
+ Market Street
+ 16th Street
+ Guerrero  (Market to 18th)
+ Mission
+ San Jose (South of Guerrero – Cesar Chavez)

MINOR Arterials:
+ Divisadero
+ Castro to 26th
+ 24th  (Castro to Potrero)
+ Valencia
+ Folsom
+ Dolores

Only commuter buses 35 feet or less will be permitted to use residential streets.

Buses will not be permitted to operate on weight-restricted streets.

or stop in taxi zones

Bus-mounted placards:

Each registered vehicle has a unique bus identification number:

o  Placards showing this number will be placed on all four sides of the vehicle.

o  Placards are blue with black identification numbers (xx-xxxx)
The first xx designate the bus company
The last four  xxxx designate the assigned number.
*if the first number is 0 the bus is less than 35 feet  and therefore is allowed to operate on residential streets.
*if the first number is 5 the bus is more than 35 feet  and is therefore  allowed to operate only on the Major and Minor Arterials listed above
o  Placards are to be painted with reflecting paint so that they are more visible at night.

o  Placards are to be tamper proof and designed to tear if removed from a vehicle

Approved Stop Locations

Designated Muni stops and White Zones with a posted sign indicating that commuter buses are authorized as permitted users during the hours of 6 a.m. to 10 a.m. or 4 p.m. to 8 p.m.  There may  be a few locations that allow stops at both time periods.  If so, the signage will so indicate.

Call to Arms:

Because of lax and sporadic SFMTA enforcement the private operators have a long history of thumbing their noses at city rules and regulation; so it will take a concerted effort to bring down the violations.  If you spot a violation record the date, time, location, travel direction, Placard Number, Bus operator/bus number and the nature of the violation.   Please send me an email and we will figure it out.

Thanks, Ed