Translink passes BART test, to be activated in May

April 28th, 2009

TranslinkGood news on the Oyster, Octopus, SmarTrip, Suica style smartcard front: Testing of Translink on BART has been successful, and the cards will be supported “within a month.” Not coincidentally, the Translink working group recently fired the contractor responsible for many of the recent delays.

If you don’t have a Translink card, sign up now!

(Thanks to Muni Diaries for the tip.)

T-line too slow (as everyone knows)

April 22nd, 2009

LRV 3 MPHAs all T-Third riders know, despite the City spending over $600 million on the T-Third line, it runs far slower than it could and is no faster than the buses it replaced, according to an editorial in today’s Examiner. The Examiner calls for MTA to apply common-sense changes to the service to allow it to run faster.

One obvious change would be to reverse the design decision to put the section around Oakdale into mixed traffic, and instead mark a dedicated mass transit lane on the whole length of Third Street. Also, several areas with very low speed limits (e.g. the Islais Creek bridge) need to be looked at again. And if/when the Central Subway is ever built (it’s delayed AGAIN) the Fourth and King intersection absolutely must be redesigned to reduce the massive delays that every T and N rider experiences today.

Sup. Chiu: “I don’t want Muni used as an ATM”

April 22nd, 2009

SFMTASupervisor David Chiu is preparing legislation to reject the MTA’s budget due to the very high amount assigned to work orders to other city departments, notably the SFPD ($18 million for how many cops on buses?) and 311 ($1.96 per call). This follows weeks of hearings in which riders opposed service cuts and urged the MTA to reject the work orders, and Sup. Dufty’s initial push to get them reduced.

As long as the rejection doesn’t lead to more deferred maintenance and unplanned, random service cuts, this could be a good way to force other City departments to stop raiding mass transit to cover their own deficits.

MTA board meeting on budget Tuesday, 4/21, 2 pm; Rescue Muni recommendations

April 20th, 2009

SFMTAThe SFMTA will be holding another meeting and public hearing on the budget deficit and proposed fare increases/service cuts on Tuesday, April 21, at 2 pm, at City Hall, room 400. We urge everyone who can attend (of course it is scheduled during the work day) to comment on the proposals.

In addition to opposing the inflated “work orders” from the various city departments that are now being contested (thank you Sup. Dufty!), Rescue Muni has some specific recommendations:

  • As with every time budget deficits come up, we support increasing meter and garage rates to market level, to make sure that SF maintains its transit-first policy and to encourage transit use.
  • We reiterate our longstanding opposition to cutting maintenance as a way to close the deficit. In other words, Muni must not allow service to deteriorate into unplanned service cuts.
  • Service changes should include stop consolidations systemwide in order to minimize the impact of the cuts. While this won’t prevent service cuts altogether, when vehicles make a run in less time, Muni can make more runs with the same vehicle. The fiscal emergency should present an opportunity to avoid an EIS/EIR for this sort of rational service change.
  • Similarly, the MTA should convert more Locals to Limiteds as proposed in the TEP, which will serve more riders with the same service hours and also provide faster service.
  • We oppose charging for transfers as this will slow boarding and inconvenience cash fare paying riders who happen to need to take multiple vehicles. Similarly, we oppose charging for expresses – this was unsuccessful previously.
  • No cuts to Owl service – though ridership is low, this is a lifeline service that discourages drunk driving, particularly on weekends.
  • But the Culture Bus should be discontinued immediately due to low ridership and very high operating cost.
  • Concerning the Work Orders, we have several objections:

  • SFGH Charges to Muni must stop. In addition to being unrelated to MTA operations, these charges are also possible City admissions of liability.
  • If MTA is really paying $2 per 311 call, the MTA should encourage riders to use 511. Particularly if/when Muni puts signage up ID’ing stop numbers such signage should encourage 511 calls as appropriate.
  • SFPD: Police MUST submit complete work orders for the charges, not budget estimates. Also, the city should put the traffic cops under direct MTA control (a proposal that looks like it might happen).
  • We also suggest that MTA consider the following proposals for long term improvements:

  • Cash fare should be payable by Translink, perhaps at a slight discount from full cash price, to encourage purchase and faster boarding. At long last Translink appears to be working well, and the MTA should promote it.
  • Lifeline Pass: Riders who are eligible for Medi-Cal or Food Stamps should be eligible for the Lifeline Pass at South Van Ness. There is no need for MTA to hire the Human Services department to separately check eligibility for a $20 monthly discount.
  • If you attend, comment here or let us know on Twitter!

    Examiner: Muni has gone over its overtime budget

    April 15th, 2009

    “Through Feb. 20, the transit agency paid out $29.6 million in overtime, or about 96 percent of what it had budgeted for payments this fiscal year, according to the latest data.”

    Ken McDonald ominously stated that reducing service and cutting lines will solve the overtime budget overrun.