City Hall Undermines DTX, SF’s most Significant Transportation Improvement in 50 Years

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West_end_steel_erection

                       Transbay Transit Center, Destined to be San Francisco’s Big Empty?

Under the Lee Administration transportation in San Francisco is heading toward a cliff.  For starters, City Hall is neglecting, if not actively impeding, the downtown extension of Caltrain (DTX), a project that would connect Caltrain to 6 Muni rail lines, 4 BART lines and over 40 bus lines at the new Transbay Transit Center in the middle of San Francisco’s 340,000 person employment center.

In November 1999 the SF voters recognized the value of DTX by approving Prop H by 69.3%. Prop H specifically calls for Caltrain to be extended to the new Transbay Transit Center (TTC) at First and Mission Streets. In November 2003 the SF voters approved Prop K by 75%, which provided $270 million for the extension. In June 2010 the SF Voters approved Prop G, calling for high-speed trains to also terminate at the TTC. This measure was approved by an overwhelming 83.8%. Yet it appears that the public policy implicit in these three Propositions was lost on City Hall.

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Update on the ill-conceived M line plan

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mline

All that expensive tunneling (in green) to serve only the east edge of the Development?? A shuttle bus to a depressed Holloway Station would serve many more people and be much cheaper.

Some time back SaveMuni posted an article entitled: “A Roundup of Recent SFMTA Mistakes.” Mistake No. III describes the ill-conceived 19th Avenue/M-Line tear-up.

Despite the absurdity of this project, the SFCTA and SFMTA are ploughing ahead, pointing to a $70 million “contribution” from the developer of the Park Merced Project as justification for spending between $1.2 and $2.0 billion of the taxpayers’ money to put the Muni M-Line in a subway along the west side of 19th Avenue in order to facilitate a tunneled detour a short way into the Parkmerced Development.
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MTC isn’t giving transportation the attention it deserves

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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.
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San Francisco’s Out-of-Control Shuttle Buses

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Howard 2015-10-10 at 8.28.16 PM

The Problem:

(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.

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Pro-DTX Press Conference a Success!

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Radulovich1

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
Sierra Club
Livable City
San Francisco Tomorrow
RailPAC (Rail Passengers Association of California)
TRAC (Train Riders Association of California)
SaveMuni
Bay Rail Alliance
Mission Bay Alliance
Transdef
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.

Are Mission Bay plans in conflict with DTX?

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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.

San Francisco’s New Terminal Waits for Trains

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DTX_1

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.

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SaveMuni’s 2015 Program

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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.
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Roundup of SFMTA Mistakes

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trainwreck

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.