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Posts from the Transit Category


Subway Metadata Master Plan

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A "heat map" of where San Franciscans want to see subways. Image: ConnectSF

A “heat map” of where San Franciscans want to see subways. Image: ConnectSF

Yesterday afternoon the Land Use and Transportation Committee of the San Francisco Board of Supervisors heard a presentation from transportation officials on efforts to design a “Subway Master Plan,” a long-range blueprint for a subway network for San Francisco.

From a release on the meeting from Supervisor Scott Wiener’s office:

Today at the Land Use and Transportation Committee, City transportation agencies delivered a presentation on their work to create a Subway Master Plan. Supervisor Scott Wiener called for the development of the Subway Master Plan last year, and authored an ordinance requiring the policy be developed. At the hearing, the Municipal Transportation Agency (MTA) and the San Francisco County Transportation Authority (SFCTA) presented the initial findings – which they have called the Subway Vision — that they have been developing over the last year.

Streetsblog readers will recall that in August the SFMTA and other agencies launched a web page that invited people to draw subway lines and stations where they would most like to see them. The computers then combined the “over 2,600 unique submissions that ranged from a single line to a comprehensive system,” explained Sarah Jones, SFMTA’s Planning Director. “The most consistently drawn lines were in prior plans we reviewed, but also saw some other areas being opened up.”
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Public Gets a Look at BART’s Future

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Rain didn't stop hundreds of BART customers from coming to MacArthur Station to see the new train car. Photo: Streetsblog

Rain didn’t stop hundreds of BART customers from coming to MacArthur Station to see the new train car. Photo: Streetsblog

Yesterday afternoon, some 1,600 people braved the rain to check out BART’s new rolling stock at an open-house at MacArthur Station in Oakland. BART is doing a total of four open houses. The first one was Saturday, in Pleasant Hill/Contra Costa Centre Station. From the BART web page:

The Fleet of the Future is closer than ever to becoming a reality for BART riders. Your chance to get an up close look at a test train for the new fleet is coming. BART will hold a series of FREE open house events in October. The Open House events will occur on a station platform at these dates and locations:

  • Saturday, October 15th at Pleasant Hill/Contra Costa Centre Station 11 am- 4 pm
  • Sunday, October 16th at MacArthur Station 11 am – 4 pm
  • Saturday, October 29th at Dublin/Pleasanton Station 11 am – 4 pm
  • Sunday, October 30th at El Cerrito del Norte Station 11 am – 4 pm

The new train cars will expand the BART fleet and provide much-needed crowd relief.  The goal is to order a total of 1,081 cars, which would increase the number of seats in the BART fleet by 49 percent.

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Ballot Primer for an Election that Will Drive You to Drink

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A standing-room only crowd drank beer and listened to the experts at SPUR breakdown SF's ballot measures. Photo: Streetsblog

A standing-room only crowd drank beer and listened to SPUR’s experts break down SF’s ballot measures. Photo: Streetsblog

Yesterday evening, over 220 people squeezed into the San Francisco Bay Area Planning and Urban Research Association’s (SPUR) downtown S.F. location to hear the organization’s policy experts explain which ballot measures they are endorsing. With 25 measures on the San Francisco ballot this November 8, each of the six SPUR experts spent just a few minutes on each decision–and it still took nearly two hours to get through them all.

Thankfully, they also offered bottles of beer at the door.

Here’s a sampling of some of the most Streetsblog-relevant “yes” recommendations:
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Rail~Volution: All-Things-Rail Conference Comes to San Francisco

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Press-Release-Header-1200x565Some 1,200 planners, engineers, managers and transit journalists crowded into the San Francisco Hyatt Regency this week for the Rail~Volution conference. From the conference press release:

The…conference brings together thought leaders and innovators to discuss the relationship between public transit and land-use, examine best practices in transit-oriented development, and look at how to maintain diversity and inclusion in the face of a changing urban landscape. With 22 mobile workshops and over 75 thought-provoking presentation and discussion sessions, the conference goes beyond the traditional sit-and-listen experience. Workshops will focus on such topics as “Anti-Displacement: Tools for Preserving Affordability Near Transit,” “Hot Topics in Streetcar Systems” and “All Hail Car Sharing! Shared Use Mobility From an Environmental Perspective.” Other sessions include “Two Wheels Are Better Than Four: Expanding Your Network Through Bicycle Connectivity” and “Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) Smorgasbord: Three Cities Dish on Their BRT Experiences.”

Yesterday morning’s plenary session featured SFMTA Director Ed Reiskin. He welcomed the attendees, who came from all over North America. The morning session focused almost entirely on housing cost and supply issues–and transit’s role in solving them. “We can really think about how and what we do can address those challenges,” said Reiskin. “Not to say transportation and planning are magic bullets, but I do think they can and should be part of the solution and we should use a lens of not just how can we make our cities more livable, but can we make our cities more livable for everyone?”

That tack continued with a chock-full-of-data presentation by Kim-Mai Cutler, journalist and columnists for TechCrunch. She explained that Eichler-built, single-family homes were once available to working-class families in the Bay Area. “In 1950, a home in Palo Alto was 1.5 times the median income, or about $9,400,” she said. “Today if you looked at an Eichler, it’s more than $2 million.” Read more…


Endorsement: Reinvest for a Safe and Reliable BART

Image: Wikipedia Commons.

Image: Wikipedia Commons.

Streetsblog San Francisco recommends a yes vote on Measure RR, the $3.5 billion bond measure to keep BART safe and reliable.

Measure RR will replace and repair the core infrastructure of BART by upgrading its 1960s train-control system, renewing existing stations, replacing over 90 miles of worn-down rails, improving electrical power systems, and enhancing BART’s ability to withstand earthquakes.

Not only will these investments deliver essential safety and reliability benefits, they will also allow BART to increase capacity. A modern train control system will enable BART to run trains faster and closer together, accommodating nearly 200,000 additional daily riders. With BART ridership set to grow 75 percent by 2040, we need to act now to meet the demands of the future. Additionally, moving more people by train relieves pressure on our congested roads, so whether you ride BART or not, Measure RR benefits you.

Measure RR also has environmental benefits. Electrical upgrades will allow more on-site solar power at BART stations and yards, and help BART deliver on its goal of being the first subway system in the country to power itself with 100 percent renewable energy. With fewer drivers on the road, Measure RR will help reduce greenhouse gas emissions and air pollution.

Realizing these positive policy efforts hinges on the passage of Measure RR.

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SPUR Talk: High-Speed Rail on its Way to Northern California

Bridging the Fresno River. This is just one of several locations where work is under way on the California High-Speed Rail project. Photo: CaHSR Authority

Bridging the Fresno River. This is just one of several locations where work is under way on the California High-Speed Rail project. Photo: CaHSR Authority

High-Speed Rail construction is well underway in the Central Valley, said Ben Tripousis, Northern California Regional Director for the California High Speed Rail Authority, during a forum at the San Francisco Bay Area Planning and Urban Research Association’s (SPUR) Mission Street center. “The High-Speed Rail question has shifted from ‘if’ to ‘when,'” he told the packed house at today’s lunchtime presentation.

He showed videos and photographs of the ongoing construction included in this video from the California High-Speed Rail Authority:

This fully funded phase contains “119 miles with…seven active sites with more to come in the Fall,” he explained. He also showed a video about a printing business and a boxing gym in Fresno that were successfully relocated to make way for the tracks. He said now that earth is being moved and concrete poured, some of the opposition is fading, but it will never go away altogether. “There’s no shortage of horror stories how projects like this ‘railroad’ people,” he said. “We continue to work very hard to include local communities.”

Streetsblog readers will recall that under the new HSR business plan, released earlier this year, the Authority is now doing environmental work and preparing for construction to link the Central Valley to San Francisco via Gilroy and the Caltrain corridor. Bridging the gap from Bakersfield to Los Angeles and Anaheim will come in a later phase. This decision was made after the Authority determined that an initial operating segment could get running faster, and serve more people, by focusing on the northern end of the alignment first.

That means “fully electrifying the Caltrain commuter service.” Electrifying Caltrain will permit HSR to share tracks to downtown San Francisco. He explained how Caltrain will eventually run at 110 mph, thanks to HSR-funded upgrades.

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Was the Turning Point on Taraval a Teachable Moment?

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The contentious "Safeway Stop" on the L-Taraval. Photo: Streetsblog

The contentious “Safeway stop” on the L-Taraval. Photo: Streetsblog

A week ago today, the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency decided unanimously to move forward with concrete boarding islands on the L-Taraval. And maybe, just maybe, it was also a concrete turning point towards finally putting safety first.

As Streetsblog readers know all too well, every time SFMTA develops transit improvements as part of its Muni Forward program, the agency encounters enormous pushback. It comes from competing agencies, local politicians, and from a loud minority of angry stakeholders. And whether it’s the Mission, Masonic, or Van Ness, it’s this pushback that gets covered in the mainstream press.

The resulting political pressure causes delays, watered-down projects, and—more often than not—a failure to adhere to the voter approved “transit first” policies dating back to the 1970s. In other words, a minority of self-interested and ill-informed people are given more political sway than the voters. Read more…


Guest Editorial: Safety Must Come First on Taraval


Concrete boarding islands (right) make streets safer than letting people board in the middle of the street (left). Photo: SFMTA

Every day 29,000 Muni riders and countless walkers travel on Taraval Street, one of the city’s 12 percent of streets responsible for over 70 percent of traffic deaths and life-changing injuries. On average, every five and-a-half weeks someone is hit while walking on Taraval.

This afternoon, walkers and MUNI riders will have a once-in-a-generation chance as the SFMTA Board of Directors considers a proposal to reshape this deadly street into a safe place for everyone.

But whether the SFMTA will deliver a life-saving project, or a watered-down conciliation that will continue to put our fellow community members’ lives at risk, is yet to be seen.

Read more…

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Vision Zero Committee Hears Radio Spot and Other Efforts to Curtail Speeding

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Supervisors Yee and Campos at the Vision Zero Committee of the Transportation Authority. Photo: Streetsblog

Supervisors Yee and Campos at the Vision Zero Committee of the Transportation Authority. Photo: Streetsblog

Note the ‘call to action’ at the end of this post.

Thursday afternoon, Supervisors Norman Yee and David Campos, commissioners on the County Transportation Authority Vision Zero Committee, heard updates from SFMTA officials on plans to install safety infrastructure and increase educational awareness on the dangers of speeding. They also discussed Mayor Ed Lee’s Executive Directive to, among other things, install speed humps in Golden Gate Park and protected bike lanes South of Market. Safety advocates also spoke, keeping up the pressure on city agencies to follow through on promised improvements.

John Knox White, Transportation Planner at SFMTA, gave a detailed update on the status of the Vision Zero Communications Outreach Program. “We’re trying to change San Francisco’s culture,” White told the committee. “We’re trying to change to a culture that embraces public safety.” Read more…


SPUR Talk: Developing the Oakland Waterfront

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SPUR looked at the Brooklyn Basin and the transformative effect it will have on the Oakland waterfront. Image: Signature Properties.

SPUR looked at the Brooklyn Basin and the transformative effect it will have on the Oakland waterfront. Image: Signature Properties.

SPUR hosted a lunchtime forum today at its Oakland location to discuss the $1.5 billion Brooklyn Basin development. The panel, which was moderated by SPUR’s Oakland director Robert Ogilvie, included Mike Ghielmetti of Signature Development Group, Matt Franklin of MidPen Housing, and Patricia Kernighan, who represented District 2 of Oakland during the authorization phase of the “Oak to Ninth” (now called Brooklyn Basin) waterfront housing development.

“I was 12 when we started,” joked Ghielmetti about how long it takes to get such a large scale project going, to a chuckle from the audience. “The project is fifteen years in the making. It was originally port land, about 65 acres, largely divided from the city of Oakland.”

Indeed, that’s part of what makes the project so challenging. The Oakland waterfront, as the panelists bemoaned, is effectively chopped off from the rest of the city by the 880 freeway, the Union Pacific tracks, and BART’s tracks and yards. “It’s almost a half-mile from Oakland and the rest of civilization,” said Ghielmetti. “We wanted to reunite this area by creating a neighborhood and linkages.”

To do that, his development firm, the City of Oakland, and a variety of advocates set out to build some 3,000 new residences, with supporting services such as dry cleaners, coffee shops and, it is hoped, a grocery store. But first there was the challenge of cleaning up the soil, which, Ghielmetti said, was contaminated with pretty much everything short of plutonium. “What we inherited looked like this,” he said, pointing to a picture of concrete and debris that still dots much of this landscape. “It was highly contaminated…heavy metals, hydrocarbons…we’re still looking for Jimmy Hoffa out there.”
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