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Posts from the Transit Category

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Guest Editorial: TDM is a Roadmap for Sustainable Transportation

Transportation Demand Management can help balance modes in a more equitable and sustainable way Photo: Streetsblog

Transportation Demand Management can help balance modes in a more sustainable way. Photo: Streetsblog

Monday at 1:30, the Land Use and Transportation Committee of the San Francisco Board of Supervisors will consider a Transportation Demand Management (TDM) ordinance that will require projects larger than 10 dwelling units or 10,000 square feet to adopt stronger measures to reduce auto trips.

The new TDM proposal represents a step forward. However, it will have greater impact on the livability of San Francisco if it includes four key changes: Read more…

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SPUR Talk: Update on Geary Corridor Bus Rapid Transit

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A look at a short segment of Geary that will get true "BRT" upgrades. Image: CTA

A look at a short segment of Geary that will get true “BRT” upgrades. Image: CTA

The San Francisco County Transportation Authority (CTA), along with SFMTA, is completing its final environmental review for “Bus Rapid Transit” and other street improvements on Geary. Last week, the San Francisco Bay Area Planning and Urban Research Association (SPUR) held an update/discussion about this busy corridor.

As many Streetsblog readers already know, the planned improvements are primarily in response to the overcrowding on the 38 bus, which runs the length of Geary to downtown San Francisco. “At 52,000 daily riders, it’s pretty crammed,” said Colin Dental-Post, Transportation Planner with CTA. “They’re stuck in traffic, so adding additional buses doesn’t necessarily work out…buses are so frequent they just bunch up…which results in further delays.”

CTA's Colin Dentel-Post, TransForm's Joel Ramos, Kevin Stull of the Geary CAC, and Nicole Ferrara of Walk SF. Photo: Streetsblog

CTA’s Colin Dentel-Post, TransForm’s Joel Ramos, Kevin Stull of the Geary CAC, and Nicole Ferrara of Walk SF. Photo: Streetsblog

True enough. And as readers are no doubt aware, Geary has long been eyed as a corridor badly in need of transit improvements, going back to old BART plans that had a line going under Geary before turning up to the Golden Gate Bridge for a trip to Marin County. But every rail and subway proposal has fallen by the wayside. Read more…

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Muni Driver Mistakes his Bus for a Train?

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Spotted Sunday morning. Photo: Daniel Pifko

Spotted Sunday morning. Photo: Daniel Pifko

This happened on Sunday morning near the intersection of Ocean and Junipero Serra. The bus has since been removed from the K-Ingleside tracks. Streetsblog got this photo via a tip. It’s unclear how the bus ended up on the tracks. Paul Rose, a spokesman for SFMTA, only said that, “The operator of the bus drove on the tracks at that location. We had to get a tow truck to remove it. Shuttles provided service through the area to West Portal.” Read more…

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SPUR Talk: Running Public Transportation Like a Swiss Watch

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Andrew Nash explains how railway technology has to be modernized to put the customer first. Photo: Streetsblog

Andrew Nash explains how railway technology has to be modernized to put the customer first. Photo: Streetsblog

Yesterday evening, Andrew Nash and Ulrich Leister, transit consultants from Europe, explained to an audience at SPUR’s Oakland location what California needs to do to make its transit and intercity rail as user-friendly as it is in Switzerland and Denmark. “The most important thing is the service,” said Leister a railroad consultant and CEO for the North American operations of SMA, who is also working to help California develop its statewide rail projects. “And that the product is something to be used by the public.”

That may seem obvious, but Leister explained that transportation agencies get too focused on vehicle types and moving trains and forget that the customer just wants to get where they want to go, easily, consistently, and quickly. “It’s hard to make public transportation as flexible and easy to use as the private car, but on reliability, time and money…public transportation can outperform,” he said.

He said that agencies need to design infrastructure according to customer needs. For example, it’s nearly impossible to give anyone a direct ride on one vehicle type from point A to B. That means transfers have to be fast and simple. So in Zurich, which he used as an example, the priority is facilitating seamless transfers throughout the system, through a “hub-pulse” approach.
Read more…

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Election Reflection: The Bay Area Needs More Bridges to the Rest of America

Let's focus on making this already great city even better. Photo: Wikimedia Commons

Let’s focus on making this already great city even better. Photo: Wikimedia Commons

Streetsblog editors from New York, Washington and Los Angeles have tried to make sense of what happened on Tuesday, and what it means to the livable-streets movement.

Much of my family is from Pittsburgh. Like San Francisco, it is a beautiful place, bounded by water, with hills, great, walkable neighborhoods, and bridges. Pennsylvania was a battleground state. One of my best friends from Pittsburgh, Jim, wanted nothing to do with either political party; he didn’t vote for Hillary Clinton.

For sure, Donald Trump’s hateful rhetoric brought out the worst in America. But Trump didn’t win on racism and misogyny alone.

It’s understandable why many in the rust belt want nothing to do with the political establishment. Pittsburgh was a steel town. Not too long ago, people had good, union jobs and lived in modest, comfortable houses. Over time, however, the steel industry went off to Asia in search of cheap labor.

There was a joke in rust-belt cities: “would the last one to leave please turn out the lights?”

In fairness to Pittsburgh, it has managed to diversify its economy to some extent. But it’s a shell of what it once was.

That said, a few years back, an airline advertised a special, direct flight from Pittsburgh to Paris. Jim and his wife had always dreamed of visiting. It was their first trip overseas.

Read more…

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SPUR talk on Local Measures: BART Bond Passes, Mixed Results on Others

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Alex Clemens and David Latterman hosted a packed house at SPUR's SF center. Photo: Streetsblog

Alex Clemens and David Latterman hosted a packed house at SPUR’s SF center. Photo: Streetsblog

This afternoon, the San Francisco Bay Area Planning and Urban Research Association (SPUR), hosted a post-election analysis of local races and measures with political consultants David Latterman of Fall Line Analytics and Alex Clemens of Lighthouse Public Affairs.

Clemens started off his presentation and summed up the mood in the room with a single word: “sh*t!”

That was all they had to say about the national election, at least at the start of the presentation. They quickly moved on to a breakdown of San Francisco’s complex ballot, with its 25 measures and several local races, some of them not yet definitively decided at the time of the presentation.

“Turnout was 53 percent so far, but will get to around 76 percent as the last ballots are counted,” explained Latterman. He said that’s the largest turnout since 2008. Read more…

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Final Push on BART Bond

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Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf takes her turn at the mic this morning at a last rally for the BART bond. Photo: Streetsblog

Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf takes her turn at the mic this morning at a last rally for the BART bond. Photo: Streetsblog

Press, advocates and politician gathered at 8:30 this morning in front of Oakland City Hall for a final push for the $3.5 billion BART bond, Measure RR. As Streetsblog readers will recall, the bond is intended to rebuild and upgrade BART’s aged infrastructure, focusing on the exiting tracks, trains, tunnels, signals and electrical systems.

From the Yes on RR campaign’s release, Measure RR will enable BART to:

  • replace 90 miles of rails that have been severely worn down over 44 years of use
  • repair tunnel walls damaged by water
  • modernize BART’s 1960s-era electrical infrastructure
  • enhance BART’s ability to withstand an earthquake
  • prevent breakdowns and delays by replacing antiquated train-control systems; and
  • increase BART’s capacity, which will relieve Bay Area traffic and reduce air pollution caused by cars.

With the two-thirds threshold required for the bond’s passage, the consensus is it’s going to be a squeaker. Recent news reports about a BART janitor who worked absurd amounts of overtime, plus an active campaign against the bond by Senator Steve Glazer, has BART-bond supporters concerned–which was the reason for the last-minute rally. Read more…

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Alameda Advocates Continue Push for Alternative to Posey Hell Tunnel

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Brian McGuire and Marisa Wood took the afternoon shift counting peds and cyclists on the Alameda end of the Posey tube. Photo: Streetsblog.

Brian McGuire and Marisa Wood took the afternoon shift counting pedestrians and cyclists at the Alameda end of the Posey tube. Photo: Streetsblog.

Advocate-volunteers with BikeWalk Alameda took shifts today counting cyclists and pedestrians passing through the Posey Tube on their way between western Alameda and Oakland. The count will be used to help push for a pedestrian and bicycle drawbridge between Alameda and Jack London Square, across the Alameda estuary.

“That’s the big, long term goal,” said Brian McGuire, vice-president of BikeWalk Alameda, who was out counting  during an afternoon shift. “That’s the number-one priority.”

Read more…

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A Note of Caution on Tech and Privatizing Transit

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Is our new ride-hale tech tempting us to repeat past mistakes? Driveless cars has been a dream of road planners since the Interstate Highway System was first envisioned. Image source unknown.

Driverless cars have been anticipated by road planners since the Interstate Highway System was first envisioned. But is the near-realization of this dream tempting us to repeat past mistakes? Image source unknown.

At a recent SPUR meeting, an audience member asked why cities continue to invest billions in long-term projects, such as the Central Subway, when ride-hail services such as Juno, Lyft, and Uber Pool have rendered urban rail more or less obsolete. This sentiment is reflected in a recent piece in the Atlantic by former Los Angeles Times writer Alana Semuels, entitled: “The End of Public Transit?” She wrote about her experience riding Chariot instead of Muni:

Why should anyone use public services if the private sector can provide the same service more efficiently? On an individual level, after all, the private bus was much more pleasant and not much more expensive. On the government level, privatization could save money. Privatizing public bus services could save $5.7 billion a year, according to a paper published by the National Bureau of Economic Research in March.

The piece brings up some interesting thoughts, which have been discussed in Streetsblog as well. It’s worth a read–certainly, transit agencies such as BART and SFMTA should be, and are, discussing collaboration with private transportation providers.

Read more…

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Fixing the Mess at Geneva-San Jose/Balboa Park

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An aerial view of the study area. Photo: CTA

An aerial view of the study area. Photo: CTA

Last night, SFMTA held an open house at Lick Wilmerding High School to get community suggestions on what to do about the mess of tracks, ramps, road and pedestrian crossings on and around the intersection of Geneva and San Jose, adjacent to the Balboa Park BART and Muni stations.

From SFMTA’s project page:

The SFMTA is studying the area around the Geneva Avenue/San Jose Avenue intersection with the goal of developing short, medium and long-term improvements to transit access and safety for all users. Both Geneva and San Jose avenues are located on the City’s Vision Zero High Injury Network. This study will complement numerous projects underway in the immediate vicinity, including BART’s Station Modernization, the City’s Upper Yard Development and the City’s rehabilitation of the Geneva Car Barn. The study scope was developed in coordination with the Balboa Park Station Citizens Advisory Committee (BPSCAC) and District 11 Supervisor Avalos’ office.

This study will develop conceptual design improvements to address safety issues near the intersection. The analysis will include a focus on passenger access to Muni’s M Ocean View Line, which terminates within the Cameron Beach Yard on San Jose Avenue between Geneva and Niagara Avenues. This study will build upon past analyses and develop recommendations for improvements consistent with known plans.

Streetsblog readers will recall from an earlier post that BART is working concurrently to improve its part of the station (follow that link for more photos of the station and streets). For those not familiar with the area, the Geneva-San Jose intersection is part of a triangle of streets that also includes Ocean Ave. and is a crazy confluence of I-280’s on and off ramps, the K, the M, the J-Church, BART, and a gaggle of bus lines.
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