Modernizing Caltrain

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.

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Shuttle Buses…a Call to Arms!

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

SFMTA Ignores Muni Metro Crowding

L Taraval Street Scenes

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.

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RAB Study a Complete Bust

railyard

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

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Press Release: DTX Coalition Blasts City Hall’s Rail Yards Study

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”

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SFMTA and the Super Bowl

sb50busAmidst 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.

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