The Metropolitan Transportation Commission is a troubled organization. Dan Borenstein’s excellent column (Mercury News: Opinion, Nov. 1) exposed some of the issues, but there’s more:
As Borenstein indicated, the Metropolitan Transportation Commission (MTC) carves out a piece of the assets that pass through its hands to fund its own extensive administrative operation. But how do 200 MTC staff members occupy their time? Certainly it’s not to plan regionally. If it were, the Bay Area wouldn’t have the unenviable distinction of being the third-most congested metropolitan area in the country. Nor would its per-capita public transit ridership be declining as its per-capita automotive travel rises.
(This article revises a previous article dated October 10, 2015)
Whether commuters get back and forth to work in public transit buses or privately-operated shuttle buses, it beats solo driving. For this reason SaveMuni is not against shuttle buses per se. However, in San Francisco there’s a problem. In this city the streets are often narrow and steep and therefore not conducive to overly large commuter buses. Moreover Muni provides frequent service during peak commute periods and for that reason is easily impeded and interfered with when shuttle buses are permitted to use its routes and bus stops. Because of these factors, City Hall’s careless decision to allow hundreds of overly-large hi-tech and other privately-owned and institutionally-owned shuttle buses to pick up and drop passengers on the crowded streets of San Francisco is causing serious problems, including:
a.) Continued blocking of traffic
b.) Continued conflicts involving shuttle buses on neighborhood streets
c.) Continued violations of existing vehicle codes, traffic laws and posted weight limits
d.) Continued failure to display required SFMTA operating tags
e.) In some cases, continued failure to display valid California license plates,
f.) Continued interference with regular Muni service, especially at heavily-used Muni stops.
SaveMuni has made a new 12 minute video that condenses most of the important points made by the speakers at the DTX rally. It’s called Voices for DTX, and you can watch it here.
To focus on the Downtown Caltrain Extension project (DTX) and the overriding need to complete it as soon as possible, the following 12 organizations held a press conference on the steps of SF’s City Hall on Wednesday June 24, 2015:
Coalition for San Francisco Neighborhoods
San Francisco Tomorrow
RailPAC (Rail Passengers Association of California)
TRAC (Train Riders Association of California)
Bay Rail Alliance
Mission Bay Alliance
Friends of Caltrain
Bay Area Transportation Working Group
For a synopsis of why this issue is so important click here.
To watch the press conference, or individual speakers, click here.
No….not at all….if properly phased and coordinated. However, instead of getting behind the early extension of Caltrain into downtown San Francisco, a small continent in the San Francisco Mayor’s office seem determined to sow doubt about the future of the Downtown Caltrain Extension project (DTX). Their position seems to be that in order to proceed with ambitious plans to fully build out and beautify Mission Bay, it would be necessary to add billions of dollars to the cost of extending Caltrain and to delay the extension by 15 years or more. This is not simply true. There is no inherent conflict between extending Caltrain now and developing Mission Bay. On November 2, 1999, the voters of San Francisco overwhelmingly approved Prop H. Prop H called for a high municipal priority to be placed on getting Caltrain up and running in San Francisco’s new Transbay Transit Center as soon as possible. That was sixteen years ago. Instead of allowing individual staff members to throw up unnecessary roadblocks, the Lee Administration should get behind this vital project and provide it with the strong political support needed to get the job done without further delay.
According to MTC, 281,000 cars travel northward into San Francisco every day from San Mateo County. This northbound influx is 40% higher than the cars entering SF from the two bridges combined. Excessive auto-commuting loads up city streets, slows down Muni, uses up parking space and generates greenhouse gas emissions. MTC projects that if nothing is done the number of cars from the South will rise to 310,000 vehicles a day by 2035. The need for a better and faster way of getting to San Francisco from the South is obvious.
SaveMuni has been working on its 2015 program for some time. Our objective is to highlight certain key improvements that for various reasons have not received the priority and attention they deserve. The 11-point set of objectives below is not fixed in concrete and may change from time to time. Our intent is to help put the spotlight on the most important dozen or so actions needed to raise Muni and the other public transit systems operating in San Francisco to their full potential. Here’s the program:
(1) Double transit ridership in San Francisco from today’s 25% of all trips to 50% of all trips by 2025.
(2) Immediately make the Caltrain extension to the new Transbay Transit Center San Francisco’s Number One capital funding priority.
Not everything the SFMTA does is wrong. In fact, among the staff there are some good people trying to do good things. However this agency regularly takes actions that make no sense. What happens when weak projects are permitted to advance, even in the face of new information and changed circumstances? Here are four recent examples. Read more here.
It’s been well known for at least 25 years that BART’s transbay section was a choke point, destined to run out of people carrying-capacity sooner rather than later. In fact conditions in the existing tube are already jammed during many hours of the day. It is currently estimated that because of the improving economy, regional population growth and assorted BART extensions, the vital transbay section will reach its carrying-capacity limit by 2025. That’s less than 10 years away. And yet, under the best of circumstances it would take at least 40 years to put a new subaqueous passenger rail system on line. So what does the Region do during the intervening decades? No one knows.
And then there’s the matter of cost. It would reportedly cost between $20 and $25 billion to build a second rail tube under the Bay, complete with connecting subways both east and west.
Keeping the economies of the Central Bay Area viable will require that this matter be addressed with courage, wisdom and determination before any more time is lost. Transportation officials at last seem to be taking the problem seriously. Let them know what you think.
BART’s ridership is projected to rise from its current level of over 400,000 riders a day to 700,000 riders a day or more by 2040. This increase is reportedly far beyond BART’s transbay carrying capacity.
To delay the inevitable, BART plans to remove a substantial number of seats in order to make room for more standees and bicycles. Despite these measures, which are certain to render the service less satisfactory for many riders, recent estimates are that BART will run out of transbay-carrying capacity by about 2025, at which time the lack of adequate passenger rail service between Oakland and San Francisco will begin to constrain the economies of the Central Bay area. So far Alameda County, San Francisco County and the Metropolitan Transportation Commission have chosen to put off dealing with this oncoming crunch.
Read more here.