Save Muni Minutes – May 20, 2019


Taken by Robin Krop, edited by Bob Feinbaum

PRESENT: Bob Feinbaum (Chair), David Pilpel, Ed Mason, Angelo Figone, Herb Weiner. Robin Krop, Michael O’Rourke, Michael Barrett, Howard Wong, Serge Litvinenko Allen Kessler, Paul Bendix, Brian Larkin, Eileen Boken, Sara Greenwood, Chris Bowman, Jay Phone: Jean Barrish

1) Group business – Save Muni website being organized to make it sustainable. Jean Barish appointed to the working committee.

2) Discussion of MTA developments
The CTA backed off from advance funding for new LRVs due to safety problems

Save Muni sent a communication to the MTA raising issues with the new LRV4s, which was not responded to. Save Muni asked for specifications regarding the purchase order and never received any.

Save Muni recently sent out a members survey with two questions:
1) Should Muni become a separate department in the MTA?
2) Should governance of the MTA be via appointment or election?
(I didn’t catch what was said about reporting survey results)

There will be an MTA board meeting Tuesday May 21 at 1pm at City Hall, including discussion on LRV4 safety features

May 21 is the filing deadline for a charter amendment for the November election. If people want to wait until the March 2020 primary, the filing deadline will be November 2019. Supervisors may want to wait for the March election.

3) Paul Supanawich, invited speaker. He is the transportation policy director for the mayor’s policy team. Contact: 415-554-6973,

Paul has been has been the mayor’s transportation policy director for 3 and 1/2 months. He did 6 years consulting on national planning, from small to large places, He worked with software technology for 3 years, involving a couple 100 cities, also had international connections.

The mayor is interested in transportation – it’s a daily issue, one that involves various needs.

Muni is challenging to manage because it is a mixed-transportation fleet. He characterized its challenges as being:
1) fragile – if one rail car in the tunnel goes awry, the whole system is affected
2) full – people get passed up if buses are full
3) slow – people need to be able to rely on it Re the issue of whether to make the MTA a separate department, he said other places actually envy SF for being unified, instead of there having to be a fight between the DOT and the transportation agency, as can occur in other places. In Seattle, there’s a fight
between the regional Metro system and the city of Seattle. They have created a 2-year master plan (correct?). It’s important to have all system needs aligned, as they are in SF.

SF has a charter amendment requiring all MTA board members to ride the system; helps them to make recommendations.

The mayor is frustrated with MTA slowness. She was unhappy with MTA director Ed Rieskin, asked him to resign, there’s a search going on for a new director. The MTA board manages the search process. Julie
Kirschbaum is now the Muni director

SF has a lot of traffic congestion, not enough housing. Traffic congestion made more difficult with Uber and Lyft. Also having to manage autonomous vehicle companies who want to operate here.

His challenge is how to create transportation reliance, trust,and readiness to navigate challenges.

Q&A discussion:

1) Bob – Q: Why is the MTA board searching for a new director? Thinks it’s better if the mayor’s office handles it, since she appoints people to the position.
A – It’s in the charter, that a subcommittee of the MTA conducts the search, with some assistance.

2) David – 1st Q: How much time does Paul spend on daily issues vs larger issues like vision and funding?
A – he does both. Wants a goal for MTA of 100% service starting 6 months from now. Also working on clear recommendations for Vision Zero, like developing 20 miles of protected bike lanes. Larger issues include looking at CalTrain and high speed rail planning, transbay tube planning for BART, Chase Center.

2nd Q – Who authored the letter from the mayor asking for Dir Ed Reiskin’s resignation?
A – The mayor approved the letter written by the policy team under her guidance

3) Brian – 1st Q: re Geary St/Blvd improvement project.
A – still trying to determine what will be most needed in the future

2nd Q – re funding for Muni Metro extension.
A – recent Prop RM3 (regional measure 3 on the last ballot) authorized 10 million for the transbay project. Questions about where the tube will be placed.

4) Robin – 1st Q: How can we have 100% Muni service in 6 months if drivers are unhappy with work conditions? Told to her by an experienced Muni operator who’s saying drivers are not being given their breaks to use the restroom or eat but being sent out again without any break – isn’t that a violation of labor law? Also they’re being penalized for being too early or too late for a run, even if by a minute. Drivers do not want to be micromanaged like that.
A – that sounds like a labor contract violation, there are ongoing labor/management negotiations now.

2nd Q: What about forward-facing seats in rail cars and buses? Muni removed them in the 1st 68 new cars and she got injured sitting on a bench in one of them, also gets injured sitting sideways in rail
cars and buses, and buses have removed most forward seats. She surveyed 100 Muni rail riders last fall and 400 rail riders in March. Half liked the new rail and half did not. Of the half with problems, 50% in March said they preferred sitting sideways, with 50% preferring to sit forwards, indicating that around a quarter of riders prefers to sit in forwards seats. Additionally, many self-disclosed physical infirmities causing them to need forwards seats.
A – there will be some changes, Muni is putting in some forwards seats. Also a matter of leveraging coverage, ie transporting as many people as possible.

5) Ed – Q: combine MTA with CTA? CTA was not informed re what was going on with the MTA. VTA combines both.
A – people often ask what is the difference between the MTA and the CTA. SF is both a city and county and that’s why SF has both.

6) Paul – Q: Re the downtown extension construction of the high speed rail, regional connections
A The mayor wants it, for growth, connection from the downtown to San Jose. Therese McMillen is the new MTC director for regional transportation planning

7) David – Q: What gets priority, the 2nd BART tube or downtown Caltrain extension planning?
A – downtown extension is priority

8) Sara – Q: re regional priorities.
A – It will help riders to have one integrated system of fares, structure and schedules, also managing Clipper card usage. He mentioned that Brisbane, Australia created one map for all their various forms of transportation, which helped to provide a seamless transportation experience.

9) Michael – He’s with the Bay Area Transportation Working Group. Says rails were deleted from Geary and Clement St in 1958. His Q: Why was Steve Hemminger nominated for MTA
A – the MTA board looks for various skill sets. Wants both transportation and technical understanding. Dir Heinicke shows caring. Dir Amanda Eakin is interested in climate issues and pedestrian and bike safety.

10) Michael – Q: re Uber and Lyft politics. 100,000 vehicles/day, all illegal. Taxi drivers are disappearing. Mayor Lee’s daughter is president of Lyft.
A – Agrees. Uber and Lyft are regulated by the state as TNCs – transportation network companies, so the city doesn’t get to regulate them. The city is lobbying the state legislature and CA PUC to be able to do more. One idea is to tax the companies in order to fund transportation needs and Vision Zero. The SF
airport is private, so SF can manage it. SF can also manage curb regulations. Michael, cont;d: the PUC is fighting the city, re no taxes, no registration for the TNCs, no safety requirements.

11) Alan – Q: How does the mayor communicate with the MTA board?
A – The mayor’s liaison person communicates with the SF MTA secretary. The mayor’s liaison person gets in touch with Paul as needed.

12) Chris’ statement re Uber and Lyft – they don’t go to the curb, usually double-park.
Q – How much do fares contribute to operating budgets?
A – the state requires a minimum 20% of MTA fares to support it. BART might be 50%, not sure. If fares get raised, people may leave. If fares are lowered, taxpayers have to support more. Re parking tickets, not sure how much they support the city budget.

13) Jay – 1st Q: Any study of which kinds of transit people are involved with?
A – there is data collection, surveys. 2nd

Q – What about the Muni drivers union?
A – there is a struggle now. How to keep drivers, how to recruit. There’s labor negotiations going on now.
The Office of Workforce Development trains drivers, they need to get a Class B license. There were 50+ drivers in a recent class.

14) Howard – Q: What small things are being done to make transportation better? For example, Portland has done small efficiencies like identify good street curb locations. Seattle has made many small improvements. Zurich is reliable. Brazil and Columbia have a good rapid transit system. It’s about managing
resources to create a good system. Reliability, frequency, hospitality/respect for the public
A – Julie Kirschbaum is operating with a 90-day plan, for key metrics like service, gap buses, improve areas. For example, for West Portal, the entrance to the tunnel, Muni put PCOs – parking control offices – there, will measure their impact over 90 days time.
Q – What about making public transportation look beautiful well-designed, branded? Muni is missing overall design.

15) Eileen – Q: the new LRV4s have lots of problems, including door sensors, cameras, braking, wheel flattening, doesn’t think it’s enough for Julie Kirschbaum to say she personally thinks the LRV4s will work out – Eileen wants safety specifics. Thinks Siemens is not the only company that can provide transit. Says there’s design flaws, parts are failing, like they used plastic clips and that was involved with a failure of the wires
A – Breda trains are costly, concerned about the time frame for getting the new trains. Thinks it might take too much time to start over with another company.

!6) Angelo – several Qs. 1st Q: cost/benefit analysis
A – question whether to rehab the Bredas or rush replacement with Siemens cars. He prefers to focus on the future fleet.
Q – Will Breda cars be there for the opening of the Central subway?

Q – how often do MTA board members switch?
A – terms are for 4 years, they’re staggered, with 2 directors replaced each year.

17) Jean – Q: re new housing developments and MTA transportation coordination.
A – through the Planning Dept, with funding for transit

18) Bob – Q: downtown extension of Caltrain lacks a champion. Would the mayor like to champion it?
A – the mayor is waiting for a study. Not just the mayor is involved – it’s regional. Who are the right partners, what is the importance to the region.

4) Group discussion

a) re Uber and Lyft, many places do not allow them to operate. Like Vancouver, which called them a limousine service and barred them that way. Europe has kept them out of operating in several countries. Idea – register cars here, adopt the London system – drivers must pass a test showing they know where all the streets are.

b) Taxi drivers took out loans, which got called in by the credit unions. Now the credit unions are suing the city for requiring them to offer loans.

c) The TWU – transportation workers union – has a tentative MOU agreement. Includes giving 11%raise over 3 years, starting with $1.50/hr raise July 1. Not sure about the rest of the details.

d) suggestions for future guest speakers:
1) Dir Heininki
2) Jonathan Ruehers ) – head of capital projects
3) Leo Levinson
4) Julie Kirschbaum – was a previous speaker


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