Today’s Headlines

  • Mayor Lee’s Transportation Advisor at High-Speed Rail Forum: Let’s Take Down Highway 280
  • Neglected Traffic Monitoring Infrastructure in the Bay Area is Out of Order (SF Examiner)
  • An Increasingly Common Scene: Corporate Shuttle Crowds Out Muni Bus From Own Stop (SF Weekly)
  • How SPUR Finally Got Some Artistic Bike Racks on Its Street Front
  • The Bold Italic as Matchmaker: Streetsblog <3 the Bike Coalition, Stanley Roberts <3 Rob Anderson
  • Stanley Roberts Makes Sure Drivers at Stop Lights Aren’t Illegally Using Their Phones
  • Photo: New Bike Corral at Dear Mom at 16th and Harrison Streets (Mission Mission)
  • Driver Crashes, Flips Car On South Van Ness Near 16th Street (Mission Local)
  • Look Before You Open: New Taxis Come With Mirrors to See Passing Cyclists (Mission Mission)
  • A Look at Transit Use in CA Districts of New Members of the House Transpo Committee (Cyclelicious)
  • SF Weekly Columnist: Both Camera Enforcement and Better Intersection Design Improve Cyclist Safety

More headlines at Streetsblog Capitol Hill

  • mikesonn

    Scaling back 280 would do wonders for the culsterf*&k that is 4/King.

  • The link to the South Van Ness crash story is wrong. The link should be http://missionlocal.org/2013/01/car-crashes-flips-over-on-south-van-ness-avenue/

  • Woops, sorry about that, fixed it.

  • Iskandr

    Absolutely.  I am, however unsure how much yard trackage to give away.     The likely smarter plan is to have Caltrain/ HSR go  below grade so as to pass under 16th st and build a new underground station@ 4th.   Wasting street level land on RR stations is not efficient.  

  • Anonymous

    I look forward to the day when MUNI provides such a fast, comfortable, and convenient experience that large companies have no motivation to provide shuttles for their employees. Until then, we need to recognize, as the linked article grudgingly does, that these shuttles take thousands of cars off the streets and probably slightly reduce MUNI crowding, at no cost to taxpayers. Yes, they are effectively private mass transit that only small groups of people get to use. But expecting them to operate just like any other private vehicle on the streets of SF is naive and shortsighted. I think working together to share bus stops makes way more sense than writing tickets; after all, an unoccupied bus stop makes way more sense as a stopping point than anyplace else on the street. 

  • why does there need to be a station at 4th? The Giants?

    Gillian makes a super strong point – way to go. There is a LOT of land that could be developed for major $$$ for SF in and around that freeway.

    The big hurdle will be getting the Marina/Chinatown/NB/Wharf commuters who jam the Embarcadero headed to 280 to let it happen.

  • The number one thing the shuttle buses do right now is allow Caltrain to continue functioning. If the shuttles went away Caltrain would need to carry 4-5 thousand more commuters per day and right now I don’t think they have the room.

  • Grandpa_abe

    So how about we take 2 or 3 existing car parking spots at each pick-up location and turn them into corporate shuttle stops (at least during the rush hour pick-up periods)?  Yes the corporate shuttles are a great addition to the transportation network, for what they are, but why are we taking away from public transportation resources to provide for them?  

  • Anonymous

    The city’s plan is in fact to remove the 4th & King rail yards completely. An underground Caltrain station would be built under Townsend between 4th & 5th, Caltrain would store their trains in sidings alongside the tracks somewhere else in SF, and the whole three block area bounded by 4th, 7th, Townsend and King would be redeveloped. The city still needs Caltrain and Caltrans to co-operate to make it happen but it’s a much better approach than the existing plan and I hope they succeed.

  • Iskandr

    “why a station @ 4th? ”  you ask.   Because is is an area of increasing density–a trip generator.  And yes a ball park counts–MN in NYC (the exNYC commutter line) built a new station to service Yankee Stadium.     Especially if Caltrain/HSR becomes subway below 16th, the “air rights” buildings potential where the current yards are could generate many new riders.   Additionally, having a stop a short distance from the Mission Bay area is certainly worthwhile.  

  • Dougwimbish

    @twitter-14678929:disqus  I am not sure I buy that the shuttles are relieving Caltrain loads. Without the free, convenient and comfortable shuttles, some percentage (maybe a large percentage) of these Valley-bound commuters would simply not live in San Francisco. Many of them live in the city only because they need not deal with public transit.

  • Anonymous

     Quick question: Do the shuttle buses use the stops like MUNI buses do, as in pull up and let passengers on/off quickly? Or do they wait at the bus stops for 10-15 minutes while passengers arrive and load?

    If it’s the latter, then the corporate shuttles definitely don’t belong in MUNI stops. They need their own place to wait. I think Grandpa_abe is on the right track, and the no-parking zone can be set for just the commute hours where the buses are active.

  • @ladyfleur:disqus I think 10-15 minutes is pushing it, but they definitely idle. Muni buses tend not to linger at these stops. 

    @c17b7e3d3ccbdad460c68baa610b2d15:disqus ‘s suggestion is in place at some stops. I know at 8th and Market 3 spots were converted to a “shuttle loading zone”. That alleviates most of the congestion and during non-peak hours the spots revert to parking.

    Use of these spots should not come at the expense of public transit users. If the corporate shuttles can’t play nice then they deserve to be hit with big fines until they learn how to.

  • Anonymous

    You can see in the presentation linked to in the article that if the regional shuttles did not exist, 49.5% of people taking them would drive alone instead, and 31% would not be able to make the trip (i.e. would probably move out of SF). The shuttles are a good thing; they should be accommodated by defining no parking zones next to the Muni stops during peak hours, so that Muni and the shuttles can pickup at the same stop simultaneously. A side benefit is reducing Muni on Muni conflicts where there is more than one line using the same stop.
    http://www.sfcta.org/images/stories/Executive/Meetings/pnp/2012/10/TDM%20Partnership%20INFO%20Preso.pdf

  • Currently we have a station at 22nd and 4th. Why not move the 22nd Street station into Mission Bay – not a short distance from Mission Bay, but actually in the development, and have a station at Transbay, and be done with it.

    There are plenty of areas of increasing density on the line. Why not double the number of stations?

    Back in the day I lived next to 22nd Street Caltrain and walked to ATT park. Not everyone can walk? The current station is still 2 blocks away from the park, I don’t see a flotilla of wheelchairs.

    If we’re tearing things up, think outside the box and pretend you are starting from scratch, because we actually are starting from scratch once we talk about tearing down 280.

  • Doug – there was a substantial contingent of employees from Apple on the train before they started their shuttle, ditto for Google. You don’t need to add a lot of people to a crush load train to make it untenable. Caltrain is already trying to figure out how to handle their current record ridership.

    Word on the street (from Google/Facebook) is that the shuttles have become somewhat painful experiences because 101 is such a traffic mess (not so much from the 280 based Apple buses). My personal hypothesis is that this traffic bottleneck is what is driving Caltrain ridership – remember that Caltrain set records in 1999/2000 that were not broken until well after the bullet service began, and they set those records with miserable full local service with lower frequency. This was because of the traffic mess that was US-101 in the height of the dot com boom. 101 is nearly as messed up today despite Caltrain ferrying 2x what they were running in 2000, and with the shuttles in place. Some of that is clearly induced demand due to the existence of shuttles, of course.

    It’s not entirely simple to just pick up and move to the Peninsula, the more attractive areas down south are on par with or more expensive than SF.

  • Anonymous

    I love the creative brainstorming that can happen in Streetsblog comments! I think no-parking zones adjacent to MUNI stops during peak hours is a great idea so the shuttles don’t slow down MUNI lines. Win-win-win!

  • Anonymous

    I used to agree with @6e9d5626ee183e2201304d0309993595:disqus , but now I fall somewhere between  @twitter-14678929:disqus’s viewpoint and Doug’s. In fact, I would still say I lean closer to Doug’s perspective, which is that the majority of the ridership on the corporate shuttles is induced demand. In other words, if the shuttles didn’t exist, these people wouldn’t be living in the city (or wouldn’t be working down the Peninsula). Having been in Noe Vally, one of the neighborhoods hardest hit by the effects of the corporate shuttles, for almost a decade, I’ve watched the changes happen, and there is no doubt that the shuttles are enabling a lot of people to live in the city who wouldn’t otherwise (conventional wisdom is pretty unanimous that the recent spike in rent/housing prices is due to the massive influx of Peninsula tech workers and this in turn is not coincidentally linked to the massive influx of corporate shuttle buses in the city).

    That being said, Murph is right in that if only a small percentage of the ridership (say 10-20%) is not induced (I think that’s true) and therefore would truly take Caltrain or drive instead, then those numbers transferred to Caltrain or driving would saturate Caltrain (and make it unbearable for cyclists during peak hours) and make 101 even more of a mess. Caltrain is stretched so close to its limit that it won’t take much to push it well over capacity.

    So (like always), I believe the solution is a compromise. The shuttles should be recognized as a positive force for taking cars off the road and passengers off a nearly-saturated Caltrain system. But it should also be recognized that it is often redundant to and bypassing (and hence indirectly degrading) public transit. Further, it is *directly* degrading public transit by interfering with MUNI stops. And finally, I think the presence of a lot more large buses on streets on which they shouldn’t be on is a problem for cyclists and pedestrians.

    I think the corporate shuttles should be encouraged but regulated. They should only be allowed to stop at designated spots approved by the city (and I think @c17b7e3d3ccbdad460c68baa610b2d15:disqus ‘s idea of taking away private car spots is the best … note that these spots should also be used by cabs) and their routes should be approved by the city to make sure they are appropriate for such large (and loud) vehicles.

    However, something else to keep in mind is that, if the buses disappeared tomorrow, it would dump a large number of people on the roads and Caltrain (accounting for the induced demand which would diminish in the matter of 1-2 years as people readjusted their job or home location) and this would cause problems. But problems are the *best* way to get things done! If suddenly 50% more people wanted to ride Caltrain and the freeways were even more clogged, it would put heavy pressure on Caltrain (and the governments that support it) to effing do something instead of sitting there with their hands in their pocket waiting a decade for electrification/HSR. For example, Caltrain could add an extra car to trains to supply more capacity. And they could definitely operate more non-peak hour trains.

  • @jd_x – known that Caltrain can’t add more cars, platforms aren’t long enough. They *might* be able to run a 6 car train 4th/PA/SJC only (guaranteed that would be a very very popular train.

    There are a few things about the shuttles that only become apparent when you take the long view. The influx of new residences and the resulting increase in housing prices is not “all bad” given the limitations California has due to Prop 13. A bubble like this results in a lot of housing turnover in the purchase market and gets SF a bunch of newly reassessed houses, which will produce more property tax in perpetuity.@jd_x:disqus 

    Even if the bubble collapses and houses drop in value, a house that was assessed at 50k, sells for 1.2 million, and gets relief back to 900k is a lot more property tax for SF. And hopefully we can use that money to push for a method of increasing the overall housing stock.

    One other key factor. A very large percentage of the shuttle folks work for companies that have had a huge amount of recent growth – Google/Apple/Facebook. Apple stayed and GOOG/FACE in large part because the South Bay was where the scene was/workers lived. Now they have created a huge base of high tech workers who live in SF, want to live in SF (as shown by their tolerance of the commute) who are working at companies that are now maturing and becomeing less attractive. As those people move into the “moving on” phase, it is a tremendous opportunity for new companies to locate in SF because of the large employee pool, that never existed before.

    As the big money FB options all vest, and if AAPL and GOOG start to move sideways, look for some talent to get antsy, and they will prefer a company in SF to one in PA. And right now commercial space in SF is cheaper than PA.

  • Anonymous

    @twitter-14678929:disqus Yes, Caltrain would need to expand many of their platforms to add a 6th car, but in the big scheme of thing, it seems trivial. I mean, you can’t run an entire train system and not expect to spend some money and effort on expansion and adapting to changing needs. Caltrain has absolutely *zero* plans on how to accommodate more riders until electrification/HSR … which we all know is a decade away. So for the next 10 years, this is it? This is all Caltrain is capable of? Spending money on some extra cars and expanding the platforms (as well as rejiggering the schedule since 6-car trains will be a little slower) seems trivial to me in the big scheme of running a train system. They should be all over it and I bet they could have 6 car trains operational in 1-2 years (and, as you pointed out, they might be able to run one way with very limited stops).

    Back to the corporate shuttles … you bring up some good points. But looking at the bigger picture, what you are talking about is just the boom-bust cycle that our economy and culture seems to think is necessary. Sure, if you average thing out over decades, maybe it sort of works out. But why do we have to be so extreme? Why make housing/rent prices go through the roof (Noe Valley rents, for example, for a 1-bdrm have gone up 40-50% in one year! See http://www.noevalleyvoice.com/2012/December-January/Cost.htm) only to make them bottom out? Why not just smooth the curve out a bit and take the edges off? I think the whole tech-worker-living-in-SF-working-in-the-Peninsula thing at this extreme level is not going to last long, and I don’t see why we can’t recognize that and come in for a soft-landing rather than smashing into a wall. SF shouldn’t let itself get so dependent on workers that are contributing to this effectively unsustainable situation. Or, in this case, not having sufficient transit options and relying on corporations to do a huge chunk of the work (without any regulation). I’m not saying that it’s wrong to live in SF and work in the Peninsula, but I am saying that such situations have too much weight in decisions being made and the dynamics in the city currently. We need to smooth things out, diversify, and do more pro-active work rather than always re-acting. If we want public transit better and less people driving, let’s not just sit back and let Google/Facebook/etc figure it out using their own set of externalities, but let’s take ownership over it and bypass the boom-bust cycle.

  • Anonymous

    The fact that so many silicon valley workers want to live in SF is a good thing. Each person who chooses to live in SF and take transit to work rather than live in suburbia and drive everywhere is a win for environmentalism and urban livability.

    The problem of the silicon valley shuttles is just a byproduct of a bigger problem, which is the fact that those companies are located in silicon valley at all. The more tech workers who want live in SF, the more likely new tech companies will set up in San Francisco, and closer we move to a society where hour long commutes in single occupancy vehicles are the exception rather than the rule.

    So accommodate the shuttles, but do it at the expense of drivers, not at the expense of Muni.

  • Mario Tanev

    I understand that shuttles crowding out Muni is a problem, but where is all the outcry against drivers who regularly slow down Muni? It’s easier to target the small group of “shuttle riders” rather than the very large constituency of “car drivers”. But car drivers cause far more problems. I am very suspicious of those who complain about shuttles, but not about our entitled class of drivers.

  • But the proximity to the stadium does contribute to high ridership. Compare the AT&T ridership with Candlestick ridership. Yes there are many people who take Caltrain to Bayshore and walk a mile to Candlestick, but the ridership is a fraction of AT&T’s. The same probably goes for the T line as well.

    You may live next to 22nd and walk to AT&T. I would too. But for those who boarded Caltrain further from the south, they are expected to be dropped off at 4th & King and not at 22nd and then walk. If they knew that, they might drive or seek other ways to get there (like Muni), and will be reflected by a drop in ridership.

    To me, all this is a very expensive proposition (in a range of $1 billion and more) to make things look nice and keep 16th Street at-grade. While the cost of removing the freeway by itself isn’t very expensive, you can’t replace the freeway unless the trains are moved underground, with the capability to handle baseball ridership. So you got a $1 billion plus tunnel extension without providing new or greatly expanded transit service. All it does is to make 4th & King redevelopment slightly more attractive and to permit slow and lousy 22-Fillmore bus to run all the way along 16th Street. So how does this compare to the Central Subway? A lot of us have been saying that Central Subway is wasteful and whatnot. But now we are thinking that any price for a train tunnel is OK because it would get rid of less than a mile of 280?

  • Anonymous

    The numbers SF is using in their financial analysis are different.

    At the Thursday forum, Gillian Gillett quoted a very rough estimate of $350 Million dollars (much lower than a billion).  
    She suggested that straightening out the alignment of the Downtown Extension could be cheaper than the current $2.5 Billion plan, could be funded in part by SF real estate, and therefore possibly done sooner.In terms of making the 4th and King redevelopment more attractive, the study that San Francisco just completed indicated that the value of the land without the freeway would be much greater ($228 vs. $148 million).  http://sf-planning.org/ftp/files/plans-and-programs/in-your-neighborhood/railyards/121224_Railyards_Summary_Memo_reduced.pdfAlso, Gillett talked about improving the slow 22 with 16th street BRT.  

    Certainly all of these ideas need more vetting, but the analysis she referred to sounded more favorable.

  • drain fuel away

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  • fuel drainer

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