“Yield To Buses” Law Proposed

January 30th, 2008

Yield To BusesStuck in your bus waiting for a break in traffic? The SFMTA and various city officials have a proposed fix: a law requiring cars to yield to buses pulling out of a bus stop. This is the law in Ontario as well as Quebec, British Columbia, Oregon, Florida and New Jersey. According to SFTEP studies, 6 percent of running time is wasted by buses waiting to pull out into traffic.

Of course, for this to be effective, it would require far stricter enforcement of transit related moving violations than has ever been done in SF, as anyone who rides a bus in our transit only lanes knows. And it’s no substitute for expanding transit lanes and adding bus rapid transit citywide. But it certainly could help.

MTA budget funding Mayor’s Office? (UPDATED)

January 29th, 2008

The Chronicle and Examiner report today that up to seven positions in the Mayor’s Office are actually being funded by the Municipal Transportation Agency, which operates Muni, DPT, and soon the Taxi Commission. Some of these positions are focused on transportation, including former MTA deputy director Stuart Sunshine, but others seem very loosely related to transportation (e.g. the Mayor’s Office of Workforce Development, and a deputy press secretary). The total cost to the MTA is $655K, according to the Mayor’s Office.

It’s not unusual for the MTA to contract with other departments for service – in fact, this was envisioned in Proposition E which created the MTA in 1999. However, this does seem odd. When the MTA is facing a long-term structural deficit and just got an infusion of cash from Proposition A to improve service and prevent service cuts, is this the best use of the MTA’s money? It’s something for the current members of and nominees for the MTA board to consider, since the MTA’s budget is approved by the MTA board and then just subject to veto by the Supervisors. The budget for the next fiscal year is being discussed by the CAC finance committee and the MTA Board next week.

(The N Judah Chronicles has a take on this as well.)

Update: SF Usual Suspects links to all the latest on this one.

Study: Free Muni Service Not Realistic

January 28th, 2008

Adult Fast PassDon’t stop renewing your Fast Pass just yet. Tuesday’s Chronicle reports that Muni has done a study of the costs and benefits of eliminating the fare, and the results aren’t pretty: to save $8 million in fare collection costs, Muni would be giving up $112 million in fares and also increasing operating costs by $69 million.

Update: Here is the study. (long pdf)

Rerouted M Line in Parkmerced?

January 22nd, 2008

M Ocean ViewThe Parkmerced apartment complex is proposing a renovation that would add more housing and otherwise modify its layout, to make the complex more urban in style. Part of the proposal is a rerouting of the M line (see map) through the campus to serve the increased population.

This could be an interesting transit oriented development, but several concerns come immediately to mind, notably the increased running time and possible increased delays that the proposed route would take. (From the map, it appears that the current straight shot up 19th Ave. would be replaced by a detour through the center of the complex – and it’s not even clear that it would be on private right of way.) Unless such a project is planned very carefully to use only private right of way and give the streetcars priority at every intersection, this could cause serious problems for the M line’s existing riders, particularly those who commute from SF State to Balboa Park.

It’s not at all clear if Parkmerced has had any discussions with MTA, the CAC, or riders over this proposal. If it does look like it has some chance of happening, we will make sure to follow it closely and demand that the current line not be slowed down any further.

Newsom Ousts Three MTA Board Members, Including Transit/Bike Advocate Leah Shahum

January 9th, 2008

Yesterday, Mayor Newsom announced that he has accepted the resignation of three members of the MTA Board:

  • Leah Shahum, the Executive Director of the SF Bike Coalition and a long-time Rescue Muni member and advocate for alternative transportation in SF;
  • Peter Mezey, former Chair of SPUR (current board member) and member of the former Parking and Traffic Commission and long-time advocate for better Muni service; and
  • Wil Din, a rider advocate who formerly served on the SFCTA CAC, Expenditure Plan Advisory Committee, and the Metropolitan Transportation Commission’s Minority Citizens Advisory Committee.
  • The mayor has nominated to replace them:

  • Malcolm Heinicke, member of the Taxi Commission,
  • Bruce Oka , a long-serving member of the MTA CAC who is also currently serving on the Taxi Commission, and
  • Jerry Lee, member of the Metropolitan Transportation Commission CAC.
  • Part of this change was clearly to complete the merger of the Taxi Commission into the MTA, which is allowed by Proposition A (2007), and Proposition E (1999) before it. However, before the Board of Supervisors considers these nominees, we need some answers. Why were two key advocates for alternative transportation (Mezey and Shahum) ousted from the board? Is this an example of better mass transit and transit first policy taking a back seat to politics?

    The Supervisors should think carefully about these issues, and the positions of the new nominees on key transit issues like parking policy, bus rapid transit, congestion pricing, and more, before approving the new nominees.