SFTEP: Bus upgrade to Union St. stirs struggilng businesses

August 27th, 2009

The SFTEP project plans to upgrade the 41-Union line to 60′ articulated buses during the 5am to 9am rush hour, saving the SFMTA $300,000 a year and boosting the number of riders a single driver can transport. The downside is that Union St. businesses will lose parking spots and fear that the loss of parking will impact their business during this deep recession.

Local businesses have collected 500 signatures to petition the bus upgrades. The SFMTA will vote on the issue September 1st. (story also via sfcitizen and sf.curbed)

Chronicle: Dead-man switch failed to stop train

August 24th, 2009

Muni’s onboard master train-control lever, known in the transit industry as the dead-man’s device, failed to activate during July 18th’s crash between a K and L train at West Portal station when one of the light rail transit operators passed out for medical reasons. The lever, which requires a half a pound of pressure to keep the train in operation, was switched down from 2.5 pounds in 1996 after operators complained about hand and wrist problems from the amount of pressure.  Muni chief Nathaniel Ford says that Muni may consider increasing the amount of pressure on the lever as part of their efforts to bump up safty in the system.

Investigators have not yet concluded that the dead-man lever contributed to the West Portal crash.

Fed’s funding boosts fare gate upgrade project

August 19th, 2009

translinkThe SFMTA’s project to upgrade Metro fare gates has received an $11 million boost from the Fed’s stimulus package. The $29 million project to replace fare gates with cashless Translink-only gates will be moved up 1 and a half years for completion in the fall of 2010.

Passengers will still be able to buy single rides by using fare machines similar to what BART uses and accept cash, debit, or credit to pay for a fare. Fast Passes will be accepted until they are phased out in favor of electronic monthly passes on Translink.

Balboa Park BART to get a renovation

August 17th, 2009

BARTNot sure if it’s the “jewel in BART’s crown” as described by the spokeswoman, but there’s no question that Balboa Park station is one of the most heavily used and most in need of improvement in the system. In particular, riders who transfer from BART to Muni Metro and vice versa today face a very confusing and sometimes dangerous street layout where there should be an easy-to-navigate transfer station.

It’s not clear from the proposal (click on “Balboa Park” links, all pdf) which improvements for Muni are included, but there’s no doubt that proposals for easier access J, K, and M platforms as well as pedestrian safety improvements are badly needed. We’ll keep an eye on this project after groundbreaking this Friday.

Don’t wait for the Culture Bus

August 17th, 2009

Don’t wait for the Culture Bus, because starting at 6PM today it will no longer be making its run between downtown and the museums. After 11 months and numerous service cuts, the Culture Bus line, known as the 74x, will finally go out of service, freeing valuable man power and bus resources to the cash-strapped SFMTA. Even cutting service to once and hour and raising fares to $10 for all day rides wasn’t enough to lure enough passengers.

Rescue Muni’s policy since this line’s inception was the immediate elimination of the 74x, and we’re glad to see it finally happen, but the loss of precious revenue to this program over these 11 months could have gone to stave off other Muni cuts.