SAVE MUNI MINUTES – September 16, 2019

SF TAXIS VS. UBER/LYFT: DEBATE ON MEASURE D

A public debate on San Francisco’s proposal to tax rideshare companies such as Uber and Lyft will take place on Monday, September 16. The 6 p.m. forum sponsored by Save Muni, a transportation think tank, will focus on November’s ballot Measure D. The debate will be held in conjunction with Save Muni’s monthly meeting at the Northern Police Station (Turk and Fillmore).

Measure D’s proposed tax on Transportation Network Companies (TNCs) has unanimous support of San Francisco’s Board of Supervisors, Mayor Breed and Uber and Lyft. A coalition of community activists and taxi workers has recently challenged the measure.

Tim Hester of Safer Streets & Better Transit Coalition will argue in support of Measure D. Sue Vaughan, transit advocate and member of the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency’s CAC, will speak in opposition.

Open to the public, the debate may offer the only in-depth look at the measure before the November 5 election.

Save Muni will also elect officers for 2019-2020 and discuss other transportation issues.

A Brief History of the Muni Metro Subway

MUNI METRO OPERATIONS HISTORY – CAPACITY AND DEMAND

Angelo Figone, Transportation Consultant; Former Chief Transportation Officer, Rail

Planning History:
The concept of a Market Street subway dates to Muni’s formative decades with a “ Report on Rapid Transit for the City of San Francisco With Special Consideration to a Subway Under Market Street” issued in 1931 by City Chief Engineer M.M. O’Shaughnessy. Subsequent studies throughout the 1940s and 1950s culminated with the establishment of the BARTD system and the collaborative effort to build a two-level subway with BART and MUNI rail operations. Begun in 1967, the subway construction was completed in 1977; however, initial Muni Metro (MM) revenue operations did not begin until February, 1980. Thereafter in phases, the existing surface streetcar lines N, K,L,M and J would transition from surface operation to surface-subway operation utilizing then-new Boeing-Vertol light rail vehicles (LRV).

Initial Capacity Design:
In 1967 – the commencement of subway construction – the five surface streetcar lines were scheduled for peak-period headways of 2-8 minutes with a peak-hour trip count of 72 producing a maximum capacity of 7920 volume (200 % load factor of 55 average seats/car). 100 cars were scheduled for the peak period. Initial planning prior to SLRV design and purchase called for 78 cars with an option for 14, but the final purchase totaled 100. It was assumed that replicating the 7920 peak-hour capacity would be accomplished with a 50% reduction in running time in the Market Street segment, a 25% increase in car capacity and a projected spare ratio of 20% yielding 80 maximum scheduled cars. (more…)

Save Muni Challenges Recently Appointed Muni Working Group to Come Up With Real Solutions to Muni’s Problems

Gwyneth Borden and Ed Harrington, Co-Chairs
Muni Reliability Working Group (via email to maura.lane@sfgov.org)

Dear Co-Chairs Borden and Harrington and Members,

Save Muni is the only truly independent transit advocacy group in San Francisco. We meet monthly, take informed positions on key transit and transportation issues, and communicate regularly with City leaders to influence operations, policy, and governance of the city’s transportation systems.

Three Save Muni members attended the first gathering of the Working Group on July 26, 2019. While we were surprised and disappointed not to have been included as a member of the Working Group we do intend to continue attending and participating in ways that will inform the discussion.

Based upon our observation of the July 26th meeting, Save Muni offers the following suggestions for the Working Group’s future direction. (more…)

Restructuring the SFMTA: Results of a Save Muni Survey

Article by: Bob Feinbaum, President of Save Muni

Save Muni recently surveyed 32 San Francisco transit experts and activists with regard to re-structuring the SFMTA. Responses were received from over 40 % of the panel. Although the results should not be interpreted as statistically significant, they do provide a lens with which to view changes to the MTA.

Question # 1 – Should Muni be split off from the SFMTA as a separate city department ?

Three times as many respondents thought that Muni should not become a separate city department. Their reasoning is instructive.

One respondent argued that San Francisco needs an even more comprehensive agency than the current MTA. “If anything move the DPW (Department of Public Works) over to the SFMTA.” Another pointed out that “cities with the best transportation have integrating functions” such as a unified department dealing with all aspects of transportation. Several other respondents echoed a comment from one that said that “SFMTA must keep control of streets in order to keep Muni moving”.

But that is not to say that respondents were satisfied with the SFMTA’s current way of operating. Several pointed to the need for a “stronger and more accountable management structure.” One called for “better internal coordination”, while another recommended that “the top person should be a generalist with strong managers below him”.

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Getting DTX Back on Track

Connecting the 78-mile long Caltrain line via a 1.3 mile extension to the nine Muni and BART subway lines, the Market streetcars and dozens of bus lines in downtown San Francisco has been a San Francisco transportation objective for over 40 years. In 1999 the voters of San Francisco approved the idea by an overwhelming 69.3%. Since then tens of thousands of new transit-oriented housing units and 19 major highrise buildings either already exist or are under development in the immediate vicinity of the new Salesforce Transit Center.
 

Yet the Center’s vast underground train levels sit bleak and empty awaiting the arrival of passenger trains to link Silicon Valley, the San Mateo Peninsula and downtown San Francisco. Recently, thanks in large part to conflicts among various elements of San Francisco’s government, the Caltrain extension project (DTX) appears to have once again ground to a halt.

 
 
 

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URGENT PRIORITY: DTX (DOWNTOWN CALTRAIN EXTENSION)

DTX is the highest regional transportation priority—legally mandated by San Francisco voters. The Transbay District’s new upzoning and development were predicated on DTX. Without DTX, tens of thousands of new commuters/ car trips/ residents/ workers will overload streets, highways and the Municipal Railway, usurping resources and service from the rest of the city and neighborhoods. To make matters worse, real Estate interests are lobbying for projects not set as priorities in the Mayor’s Transportation Task Force Report, such as the low-benefit Central Subway extension.

1999 PROP H: DOWNTOWN CALTRAIN STATION (Downtown Caltrain Extension / Transbay Terminal)

Bay Rail Alliance: http://www.bayrailalliance.org/san_francisco_prop_h_text/

This measure is an ordinance that would make it City law to extend the Caltrain line to a new or rebuilt regional transit station in San Francisco to be located on the site of the Transbay Terminal at First and Mission Streets. The City would be directed to use an underground tunnel whenever feasible for the extension of the Caltrain line from the current station to the Transbay Terminal. The City would be prohibited from taking any actions that would conflict with extending Caltrain to downtown San Francisco, including allowing conflicting use or development of the Transbay Terminal or the proposed extension right-of-way.
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Open Forum: Save Muni from itself

People stand at a bus stop at Market and Church streets waiting for shuttle buses headed to downtown San Francisco. After a power line failure disabled Muni Metro subway trains, commuters had to take alternative routes to get to their destinations. Photo: Jana Asenbrennerova / Special to The Chronicle

Save Muni has long called for a management audit of the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency. To that request we now must add: Review the agency’s structure. Well-reported problems with new train cars, operator shortages and maintenance problems last month have only highlighted the agency’s shortcomings.

The SFMTA was created over a decade ago to bring all the city’s transportation under one agency. As envisioned, professionals would work together to develop integrated policies and programs that served the public better than separate taxi, streets and transit departments. It simply was assumed that keeping politics out of transportation, by insulating the SFMTA from the San Francisco Board of Supervisors, would assure better decisions.
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Save Muni Calls Out Defects in the new LRVs

Date: March 26, 2019

Ed Reiskin,
Director of Transportation
San Francisco MTA

Save Muni recognizes that Muni needs new Light Rail Vehicles (LRV’s) to replace the aging fleet of Breda cars. However, the first cohort of the new Siemens cars, which are now in service, are a huge disappointment and clearly need design changes to better serve San Francisco transit riders.

The SFMTA seems to have focused on cramming as many riders as possible into the cars with uncomfortable seating and poorly designed multipurpose areas. More importantly it appears that no attention was paid to the ability to quickly safely, and smoothly couple cars to achieve the 3-and-4 car trains that the Market Street Subway was designed for.

Save Muni members have identified some other problems with the new cars. 1) jerky acceleration which leads to the danger of rider injuries:.2) inability to provide a level step onto subway platforms 3) flawed interior design that leads to sliding on the bench seats: 4) inadequate numbe kr of stanchions and straps 5) poor door configuration which hinders boarding, especially for disabled riders: 6) narrower pantograph width which will lead to both vehicle and overhead wire damage.

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Extend Caltrain to downtown San Francisco

Chronicle op-ed by Bob Feinbaum

San Francisco has been waiting for more than 100 years for trains from the Peninsula to arrive downtown. Left up to compliant planners and complacent politicians, decades more will pass before Caltrain comes to the newly built Salesforce Transit Center.

San Francisco politicians fall all over themselves giving verbal support to the downtown extension. But when it comes to leadership necessary to build the project, they are nowhere to be found.

Instead the city’s supervisors have been strangely quiet about the efforts to undermine the current, environmentally cleared route from Caltrain’s Fourth and King streets terminus to downtown.

In 2015, Mayor Ed Lee directed the San Francisco Planning Department to conduct a study to bolster his intention to move the Caltrain downtown right-of-way to Third Street to serve the Warriors’ new arena and allow his developer backers access to the lucrative 20-acre rail yards site.

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Getting DTX underway

The Bay Area Transportation Working Group (BATWG) and many San Francisco transit advocacy groups have long supported the Caltrain Downtown Extension project (DTX). DTX will create a high quality north-south alternative to driving into San Francisco. It was defined in November 1999 by 69.9 percent of the voters of San Francisco as the No. 1 transportation capital improvement priority.

Yet for the last 40 months the multi-agency Rail Alignment and Benefits study has unnecessarily delayed and obstructed DTX. And the disruption is continuing. The May 29 RAB release continues to place extra costs and other obstacles in front of DTX. Here are some ways of accelerating the process:

1) Instead of adding costs, the focus should be on cutting costs.

o The ill-considered move to add $300 million to $400 million to the cost to “protect” Second Street from cut-and-cover construction should be relegated to the Transportation Stupidities Hall of Fame. The subway connection between Fourth and King streets and the new Transbay Transit Center (TTC) should be tunneled where appropriate and excavated from the surface where appropriate. With good engineering, this can be done without undue interference to either Second or Howard streets.

o The $100 million “tunnel plug” added to facilitate possible future construction of a Pennsylvania Street tunnel was not part of the original DTX plan and therefore should be cut from the DTX budget. If and when additional funding becomes available, additional portions of the rail system can be depressed. Spending $100 million now to facilitate a future connection that might or might not ever be needed makes no sense.

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