Muni includes many heavily used bus lines. But the workhorse of the system is, or at least should be, the Muni Metro subway/surface system.
A fully grade-separated subway typically carries hundreds of thousands of riders a day. Tokyo’s 9 lines carry an average of over 1,000,000 riders per day per line. The Paris Metro’s 19 lines carry an average of 260,000 riders per line per day. New York’s 22 subway lines average over 250,000 riders per line per day. What makes this possible are long trains traveling frequently at regular intervals.
The Muni Metro is not fully grade-separated and station constraints limit the length of its trains. Therefore the five Muni Metro lines cannot generate the huge riderships that are achieved by many subways throughout the world. However, Muni Metro’s peak period carrying capacity is currently less than half of what it was designed to be and could again be. In fact the five Muni metro lines today average only a little over 30,000 thousand riders per line per day, roughly a third what they could and should be carrying. The Market Street subway is no longer doing the job it was designed and built to do.
This unacceptably low ridership is not because people don’t want to use the system. It is estimated that were it not for excessive peak period crowding, Muni Metro’s ridership would climb by at least 40,000 riders a day. In other words, tens of thousands of would-be Muni Metro riders are pushed off the Muni Metro system every day because of excessive peak period crowding. With traffic increasing and Muni surface vehicles slowing down, the lack of a fully functional Muni Metro system is becoming a bigger and bigger headache for anyone trying to get around in San Francisco.
The Mayor’s Railyard Alternatives and I-280 Boulevard Feasibility (RAB) Study has been kept under wraps for many months. In fact the study has been ongoing for over two years, proceeding in back rooms under the auspices of the SF Department of City Planning (DCP). The process has featured a series of closed door meetings participated in by a large collection of public agencies including the DCP, Mayor’s office, SF Municipal Transportation Agency, SF County Transportation Authority, Transbay Joint Powers Authority, Peninsula Joint Powers Authority, Metropolitan Transportation Commission, California High Speed Rail Authority, Federal Transportation Authority and others.
Recently the sponsors of the Study declared themselves ready for the Big Unveiling. The first public meeting of the RAB Study occurred on February 23, 2016…well over two years after the initiation of the project and 8 months behind schedule.
Advance Briefing of SaveMuni. At Save Muni’s request Ms. Susan Gygi, RAB’s Project Manager graciously agreed to update SaveMuni on the status of the Study on February 17th, emphasizing that she would not be free to talk about the information to be imparted on February 23rd. We agreed and on the 17th Ms. Gygi confined herself to explaining the background, timing and financing of the Study and to answering questions from SaveMuni members, mostly related to what Matier and Ross revealed about Study objectives in their Chronicle article on May 11, 2015. The February 17th presentation meeting was video-taped by Mr. Ken Bukowski, the former Mayor of Emeryville. The tape makes for some interesting viewing. See https://youtu.be/d8dab77JZug
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
On Tuesday, February 23, 2016, San Franciscans received their first look at City Hall’s heretofore secret RailYards Alternatives/I280 Boulevard Study (RAB). The Department of City Planning’s RAB announcement was eight months late in coming and yet contained no engineering analysis, no traffic congestion figures and no cost estimates. On the contrary it was limited to the same set of fanciful Mission Bay rearrangements that were floated by the Lee Administration early last year.
What was presented at the Potrero Hill Recreation Center last week was billed as concluding the first of a five-phase planning process that is expected to take at least 7 to 10 years.
“Completely unacceptable!” said Bob Feinbaum of the DTX Coalition (organized to get Caltrain into San Francisco’s Transbay Transit Center without further delay). “San Franciscans should not tolerate a development-driven “planning” process that blocks a badly needed rail connection into downtown San Francisco”
Amidst numerous horror stories and predictions of doom for the two-week Super Bowl celebration, SaveMuni engaged SFMTA spokespersons Kristin Smith and Ed Cobean to give us a little more insight on the planning for the event.
The first thing we learned was that the long-dreaded plan to take down Muni wires in the Financial District for the sake of putting up canopies had thankfully been discarded as infeasible. On the other hand, much of downtown will indeed be blocked off, with the F line completely shut down northeast of Beale, and replaced by buses to the southwest. This map shows the numerous Muni reroutes that will go into effect on January 23; the MTA site also has suggestions for how to get around. On the positive side, the number of trains in the tunnel will be increased, and many single-car trains will be replaced by two-car trains. Also, the nightly 9:30 and all weekend tunnel shutdowns will be discontinued during the event.
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.
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.
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.