Model for San Francisco?

 

Following are excerpts from a timely StreetsblogSF article describing how Toronto cleaned up its previously gridlocked main street.

It’s been just a few short months since most of the car traffic was cleared off King Street, giving the city’s busiest streetcar route an unimpeded path. The impact of the project has been transformative. Local transit officials report that faster and more reliable rail service has resulted in a dramatic boost in ridership. Before Toronto banned through traffic, the King Street streetcar carried 65,000 riders a day. According to the Toronto Transit Commission, peak hour ridership is now up by 25%.

The redesigned street allows drivers to access King Street but compels them to make right turns after a short distance. The Globe and Mail reports that car traffic has declined more than expected and the City of Toronto reports that without car traffic getting in the way, transit is moving much faster. Rush hour trips take about four minutes less from end to end, an improvement of about 16%. Reliability has also improved, with the number of delayed trips down by 33%.

Overall public opinion “seems to be firmly on the side of keeping the car restrictions in place. A recent poll showed strong public support for the pilot project.”

Famous SF Transit Hub Headed toward Gridlock

The intersection of Van Ness and Market is so well served by public transit that it is known as the “Hub”, short for “Transit Hub”.  What City Hall is now planning for the Hub would transform it into a congested mess.

The City Planning Department estimates that almost 1,700 additional parking spaces could be constructed in the immediate vicinity of Van Ness and Market.   If so, developers would derive profits both from their prime transit-oriented locations and the parking.

Add to this the so-far uncontrolled impact of Uber and Lyft.   At least 45,000 Uber and Lyft vehicles now operate in San Francisco, which account for over 200,000 auto trips a day.  It does not take much imagination to recognize what 1,700 additional off-street parking  spaces and hundreds of daily Uber and Lyft pickups and drop-offs would do Van Ness and Market.

If there’s to be no projection against excessive traffic at the Hub, then where?

SaveMuni Letter on Commuter Bus Violations

SaveMuni just sent the following letter to the MTA Board in advance of a hearing on commuter bus infractions on Tuesday:

July 17, 2017

To:    MTA Board members

SaveMuni urges the SFMTA to make enforcement of regulations regarding commuter shuttle buses a much higher priority than it has heretofore been.  We understand that citizen volunteers have been reporting numerous violations which continue on an on-going basis.  But it should not be up to citizens to do your job.

Therefore we ask the SFMTA to strictly enforce the program rules with respect to specific buses, conditions, locations and operations.
Enforcement should include but not be limited to citations, suspensions of licenses and revising operating permits for violations and other non-compliance.

We trust that companies that adhere to the rules will be regarded as better neighbors by the residents of San Francisco, and will provide better service to their riders.

Sincerely,

Bob Feinbaum
Chair, SaveMuni

Could we get serious about traffic, please?

SF-Traffic-4x3-468942570

According to the “TomTom Traffic Index of 2017,” released on February 21, San Francisco is the 3rd most congested city in the United States. To anyone who has witnessed recent traffic conditions in San Francisco this will come as no surprise. Let’s face it, City Government has dropped the ball on traffic congestion.  Here are a few of the more obvious problems in need of solutions:

            1.)  The daily inflow of vehicles from the Peninsula will soon hit 300,000 cars and trucks a day.  (More than from the two bridges combined). And yet no one seems to notice.   There are ways of moderating this daily inflow.

            2.)  San Francisco’s transportation capital program is mostly a disaster.  While there are some bright spots here and there (e.g. Red Lanes, DTX conceptual design, new buses), much of the City’s transportation resources seem to get spent on enterprises of small consequence.   Needed is  a better and more analytical way of establishing transportation capital priorities. 

            3.) Lyft and Uber are privately owned computer-dispatched vehicles that many have found to be convenient.  Failing to anticipate the problems that  such services would  cause  in San Francisco, City Hall initially sanctioned and even encouraged their development.  We are now seeing the results.  The estimated 45,000 Lyft and Uber vehicles currently operating in San Francisco are both further clogging city streets and cutting into Muni ridership. 

City Hall does not appear to understand is that if people in San Francisco start abandoning collective travel in favor of individual conveyances….especially Lyft and Uber….the traffic will get gradually increase until congestion itself becomes the limiting factor….and no one is going to like that very much.

A Supervisor has suggested that a $0.20 tax per trip be imposed on Lyft and Uber travel.  She’s shooting too low.  The tax should be at least $0.20 a mile.  In fact the tax or other disincentives should be sufficient to hold the number of computer-dispatched automobiles operating in San Francisco to a predetermined City-established limit, below 45,000 vehicles.  

As San Francisco develops and becomes more populated, it becomes increasingly necessary to get smarter about how we plan and develop the accompanying infrastructure.

Driverless Cars Could Wreck Livable Cities

Guest Editorial: Driverless Cars Could Wreck Livable Cities

By Jason Henderson

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A tweet by Jon Orcutt illustrates why driverless cars offer little towards sustainable cities.

Over the past year driverless cars have been promoted as a panacea for livable cities. The storyline is that driverless cars will help reduce car ownership, free-up urban space for walking and biking, and help reduce death and injury. The USDOT has joined the parade with its “smart city challenge,” awarding Columbus, Ohio a $40 million prize to implement a demonstration project that includes incorporating driverless cars.

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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

San Francisco’s Out-of-Control Shuttle Buses

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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