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    citrate reiterator

    You mean from around Glen Park to Colma? Yeah, I don’t really have any complaints there; I’ve always personally thought it was kind of interesting that elevated freeways seem to be so popular when elevated trains get so much pushback (even though they are cheaper than subways and have most of the same advantages). Adding more highway capacity has its own problems, e.g., increasing congestion in city centers, but that’s a separate discussion probably.

    The problem with letting a vocal minority of local residents have veto power over transit improvements is that essentially any improvement — even ones that don’t result in any net loss of parking or impact drivers at all — will have some voices who strongly oppose it. This is even true of subway construction, which of course, has potential to be much more disruptive during construction (street and sidewalk closures, etc). But interpreting those loud voices as basically representative of voters in a particular neighborhood, let alone the city, is also a fallacy.

    Also I specifically said the “rapid transit” network (i.e. the part that already provides headways below 10 minutes at peak hours), not the entire transit network. But even if you just concentrate on, say, putting a few of the highest ridership corridors underground (Geary, Mission St., Judah outside of the tunnels, Van Ness, and the above-ground segments of the L/K/M), what’s the earliest you could reasonably expect all those projects to be funded and completed? 2060, maybe, optimistically? The people who depend on those transit corridors need better options in the meantime.


    citrate reiterator

    What do you mean by “should”? You’re obviously not *obligated* to, but if you don’t, you may have trouble hiring or retaining employees: your employees will tend to go to either other employers or to places where their living expenses are lower. The net result is that labor tends to cost more in areas with higher costs of living. “Should” doesn’t seem to really enter into it.



    The problem – which you presumably know – is that the right of way that the Capitol Corridor runs on is owned by the freight line, (Union/Southern Pacific or whomever), and they aren’t invested in passenger rail.

    And speeding up that line isn’t trivial – what exactly do you do with a train line that runs down the middle of the street in Jack London Square? That goes through the marshes of Alviso? That has numerous sharp curves?

    Caltrain’s ridership grew in large part because of better service. Capitol Corridor’s has grown mostly because the alternative has become more miserable.


    Donovan Lacy

    This should be an interesting pivot…



    Muni has had a operator shortage for years. There has been some progress, but I have never read anywhere other than your streetsblog posts that muni has far more qualified applicants than they have open transit operator positions. What is your source? And it better be good because it sounds like your entire argument hinges on this.


    Donovan Lacy

    How can you argue for replacement cost and against Cost of Living adjustments when Cost of Living / CPI is a component of replacement cost?

    You are not interested in debating facts but rather your values.

    And what the heck does giving up parking have to do with people revolting? You cannot be serious.


    Donovan Lacy

    My statement regarding winning or the losing the argument was presented in the context of your previous statement.

    I provided you with a host of citations that directly refuted your argument and you responded by stating that “in reality debates are settled by values, and facts are typically cherry-picked to support ones’ own personal biases.”

    I took this to mean that you were no longer interested in discussing facts, but rather were more interested in discussing values.

    If this is not the case, please help me understand what you meant.



    Clover Lane!



    I never stated that taking out parking had zero impact. In fact I said it would probably have some. But the fact that you don’t personally think it is drastic does not mean that the residents and voters affected agree with you. In fact, judging by public commentary at meetings on that topic, there’s a lot of anger and opposition to the idea.

    Dedicated ROW is an ideal solution, and that already happens in some cases. The only real way to have that ideal solution is putting transit underground. But it’s not necessary to put the “entire transit network” underground as you suggest – only the busiest and most used sections. And we’ve actually done a lot between BART, the streetcars all the way out to West Portal, and the new Central Subway.

    Sadly in the case of Market we messed up the roadway anyway despite that, but hopefully that error won’t be repeated elsewhere.


    citrate reiterator

    OK, except taking out some parking to create transit only lanes is hardly drastic or controversial: it’s been shown to work to improve transit times and increase ridership where new subway construction is not yet feasible (as I previously mentioned, NYC’s B44 bus service, for instance). You’re actually right that effective transit needs to not run in mixed traffic. But space for dedicated rights of way has to come from somewhere. It’s also unlikely that the federal and state government would grant SF enough money to replace its entire rapid transit network with subways in the short term, and people who depend on transit need other solutions in the meantime, particularly since we can expect congestion to go up further with population growth.


    citrate reiterator

    Lol, you literally just tried to argue that facts were irrelevant and objective truth was a delusion in another thread here. Coincidentally, it was when you were challenged to find some sources to back up your own assertions.

    “The truth is in the middle” is itself a logical fallacy, not that it matters. Someone who alternates between support for giving space to cars and giving it to other modalities isn’t more objective than someone who consistently supports, e.g., the measures identified in SFMTA’s TEP, they simply have a different preferred balance between cars and transit (and bikes, pedestrians, etc.). That balance also obviously doesn’t have to be zero cars for you to be consistently in favor of reallocating space from cars to other modes *right now.* There’s no referendum coming up that’s going to ask people to ban car ownership in SF; speculating that everyone who disagrees with you secretly wants to ban all cars is up there with NRA propaganda about any gun control being part of a sneaky government conspiracy to take away every gun in the USA.



    What you’ve explained there is not so much the fundamental reason why Muni pay should be higher but rather the rigid bureaucratic process that is used to set pay.

    So yes, they look at other cities, the CPI and what have you, and come up with a number. Most businesses do not set pay in that way but rather look at the economic value that an individual adds and their replacement cost.

    That of course leads to the broader problem – that the public sector tends to operate with collective bargaining and union negotiations, instead of line managers being able to make variable individualized comp decisions on a case-by-case basis.

    And it was perceptions like that which, since Reagan, have driven a wave of privatizations globally which, sadly, have not yet reached into municipal governance.

    It may take a crisis to really fix this, probably the unfunded pension deficits. But asking people to give up their parking and pay higher taxes so that city workers can continue to get a sweet deal may reach the point where the people revolt.



    I’d agree that the debate has meandered and that causes confusion all over. So perhaps it is useful to go back to the original comment by sfnative74 that sparked off this sub-thread which is now longer than the original thread. He said:

    “What if creating public transit that works relies heavily on removing on-street parking to free up space?”

    SfNative asked a question and I answered it, essentially by disputing the “heavily” part of that.

    To summarize, while removing parking (or for that matter any other vehicular traffic) would have an effect in making Muni more efficient, I disagreed that it was the major factor in improving Muni. I also don’t think it is feasible either, which is why many major cities try and put transit underground.

    I merely appealed to look at some of the structural internal problems with Muni before taking such drastic and controversial steps.

    And yes, we both appear to agree that resources are important. The difference is more that you probably see that as raising taxes whereas I believe Muni’s finances can be improved by looking at what strike me and others as a rather bloated cost structure.

    Concluding, Muni is negatively impacted by both internal and external constraints. The “just take out the parking” mob have not made their case.


    citrate reiterator



    citrate reiterator

    It’s not that you’re making multiple points that’s the problem, it’s that whenever someone brings up some evidence that doesn’t support your argument, instead of bringing up your own evidence you just start arguing something else. This final statement is also full of vague hedging (“widely regarded” by whom?) of the kind you routinely criticize others for. It just comes off as insincere.

    At this point you’re just repeating yourself instead of actually responding to criticism, and I mean whatever, I’m not about to relitigate the whole thread, I think I’m satisfied with what I’ve already said. I’m glad we at least agree that figuring out how much to spend on transportation involves a value judgement about balancing access (which would maximize the number of people who can use some transit) vs. ridership (which would maximize revenue).



    An argument can only be “final” if no further argument follows and if it stands unrefuted.

    In fact I presented a series of arguments, some factual, some values-driven, some observational and some grounded in logic. None of them are yet “final” and I dispute that you have “won” any of them.

    But if you like we could instead debate whether you “won” or not. Although personally I’d rather stick to the topic then engage in rhetorical games and claims.


    Donovan Lacy

    It is not a question of my exact expenses it is the fact that pay in different markets is pegged to the Cost of Living in those locations, and employers look at these indices are used every day to determine what employers pay their employees, but you knew that already and have chosen to ignore it.


    Donovan Lacy

    I made a type-o in my previous post and have corrected.

    So in the end your final argument is that I won the factual argument but it doesn’t matter because you still don’t agree?



    That’s not my final argument at all. In fact it wasn’t even an argument I made at all, although no doubt it is the argument that you wish I had made.



    Whenever I make multiple points I notice that you always accuse me of contradicting myself when in fact each point stands alone. Would you be more comfortable if I only ever made one point?

    A significant part of Muni’s failure is its unsustainable cost base and the derisory level of revenues relative to costs. And a big part of those cost are the labour costs which are widely regarded as too generous for the skill set involved.

    But yes, values matter too, of course.



    And yet, Murph, you seem to always know what I wrote and have no difficulty in responding to me. Strange considering you claim not to see my posts



    On the contrary, Donovan, it is you who fails to understand basic economic principles. If I hire you then I assess the economic value you will add to my enterprise when determining your pay.

    If instead it was your needs that were paramount then I’d look instead at your monthly outgoings. No employer does that.



    You have a clearer understanding of the purpose and value of debates than Murph. He gets too angry when someone disagrees with him to debate coherently. He prefers attempts at censorship which fail, of course.



    The notion of intent is crucial in criminal law. I’m not familiar with the driver who you cite, but even you appear to concede that he didn’t intend to kill anyone. So it was an accidental death. A similar example I feel sure you’d be more comfortable with is Chris Bucchere, who served no time either.

    Hespelt’s assault, on the other hand, was totally intentional and his victim been killed then he would have rightfully faced murder charges.



    unfortunately the streetsblog highlights the recent comments on the right hand side of the front page. blocking doesn’t fix that. streetsblog needs to fix it.


    Donovan Lacy


    Thank you. I owe you a beer at the next SFBC party.

    In the meantime thanks to biking I have an enormous amount of energy which I will continue to use to dispute Rich’s”arguments”.


    Donovan Lacy

    So in the end your final argument is that I lost the factual argument but it doesn’t matter because I still don’t agree?

    I am the scythe and you are the wheat.


    Donovan Lacy

    Your response suggests a total lack of understanding of the basic economic principles that govern the US economy. Whether you agree or disagree with the merits of the US economic systems, without this basic understanding you are incapable of engaing in a discussion on the topic


    Donovan Lacy

    I am the scythe and he is the wheat.



    Is Hespelt the guy with the silly mustache? Saw him at Nordstrom Rack today :)



    While I’m sure it would be interesting to read the mental gymnastics he used to get you to respond, it’s so much more pleasant to look at 50 posts saying “This user has been blocked”

    I recommend you try it.



    The guy is a douche and it is unfortunate that the streetblogs editors don’t ban him.


    citrate reiterator

    Epistemology aside, that’s some impressive goalpost moving: from “Muni sucks because Muni operators are paid the most out of any major city” to “Muni operators are overpaid relative to the private sector” to “Muni operators are overpaid relative to bus drivers in a less expensive city” to “You only want me to provide evidence about Muni operators being overpaid because of your ideological bias” to “Not every fact is readily available on the internet” and finally all the way back to “Facts aren’t relevant to this discussion / What is a fact anyway?”


    Chris W

    They’ve moved to Revere just north of Selby.



    I suspect that Hespelt, who was sentenced for assault and vandalism for breaking the car window, would have happily traded his felony punishment for the misdemeanor of the motorist who, y’know, killed a guy in a hit and run, after going out drinking, and then laid low until he was tracked down by police.

    Oh and Hespelt did in fact get sentenced to six days in jail.

    But do go on about the injustice suffered by motorists who never intend to kill anyone, but just happen to do it so, so often.



    I’m not familiar with the Smith case but I question the utility of throwing drivers in prison simply for being involved in an accident.

    Being thrown in prison is a deterrent against committing an affirmative act like going out and robbing a bank. But no driver goes out with the intent of killing a cyclist so a prison sentence is not a viable deterrent.

    Neither of the cyclists who killed pedestrians in the last few years served any time. Nor even did Hespelt, whose did intend harm and whose actions can in no way be considered accidental.



    If anyone is under-regulated and under-taxed, it’s the auto driver, who causes a disproportionate amount of damage and requires a disproportionate amount of space–which, again, everyone pays for in the form of general taxes. Adding taxes to bicycles would be a step in precisely the wrong direction.



    The cyclist who killed the pedestrian was charged and convicted of a felony. Justice was served to the extent that it could be.

    We are outraged when cyclists are killed because their killers so often get off with slaps on the wrist, such as Spencer Smith who got a misdemeanor last year for a fatal hit and run of a cyclist.



    We can all agree that vehicles impose more cost, risk, wear and tear than cyclists. What is why vehicles pay a lot more than cyclists under the current system.

    But also note that even if you own no car, cannot drive and even never get into a car, you still derive a considerable benefit from the existence of roads and vehicles.

    So the question here is surely whether cyclists, who engage in at least SOME use of the roads, should pay a little more than, say, someone who is only a pedestrian?

    And I’d argue that is reasonable even aside from the utility of cyclists and bikes being able to be tracked via licenses and registration. Absent that the driving majority will always see cyclists as freeloading in the manner described by p_chazz.

    The libertarian in me always understands why any class of people wants to be under-regulated and under-taxed. But I think the cyclist lobby would accrue more credibility if it formally adopted a position of wanting to more clearly seen to be contributing and being held accountable.



    That may be a factor. But somehow when a car hits a cyclist, people here get a lot more angry then when, say a train kills 2 people or when cyclists kill 2 people.

    All lives matter.



    As interesting as all these anecdotes and speculations are, there is one fact that is not in dispute here. When the CC train had this incident its passengers were evacuated and there were just 30 of them.

    This is just after 9 am in the morning when the rush hour is still happening. Your original statement was that investment in things like grade separation cannot be justified. The number cited above corroborates that view.



    Since I get on at Emeryville or Richmond, I don’t see the passengers who ride between GAC and Oakland. The Capitol Corridor has grown from 8 to 30 trains a day, and ridership shows consistent gains. I only wish the money has been poured down the rathole that is high speed rail had been invested in the existing trackage and rolling stock.


    Donovan Lacy


    Your argument as you framed it was first “that Muni operators earn more than they do in almost every other US city (even NYC, so I heard.”

    I provide you citations that your statement is false.

    Your second point was that you saw “no reason why the local benchmark cannot instead be the private sector.” I provided you data that this in fact is the case in this market.

    Now you have changed your argument to:

    1) Muni pay and benefits should be set based on replacement value.

    2) Any worker should be paid by value and not be need.

    Staying with your original argument would you not agree that replacement value would be what the private sector is paying? If so, I have already established that this is the case.

    So now it is my turn – “You’ve never admitted to ever changing your mind, even when you’ve been proven 100% wrong.”


    Donovan Lacy



    Jeffrey Baker

    The first time I got on the train at GAC, headed to Oakland, at 4:34pm, I got there a bit early since it was my first time. I was the only person on the platform. But by the time the train arrived there were hundreds of people and easily 40 bicyclists. I though for sure I’d get bumped, but it seemed like many of the cyclists stayed behind for the ACE train, which was lucky.

    I’m not too interested in wasting lots of time at work so I’ve been taking the 8:53am and the 3:24 back. Neither is very crowded.

    It takes about 2h and 15m to get up 880 from SJ to Oakland on a bus these days. That road is a disaster.



    Apart for wear and tear of roads itself, driving imposes a
    much larger strain on essential infrastructure like emergency services and law enforcement. It requires more and more elaborate traffic control mechanisms (stop lights, stop signs, complex interchanges, multiple lanes). The footprint of cycling is smaller in many ways – and that is not even considering environmental issues.

    The primary argument is that scaled by the infrastructure footprint required for cycling, cyclists are already paying more than their share by way of general taxes. Put another way, if there were only cyclists, pedestrians and public transit, every ones general taxes would be lower. Obviously this would have negative effects on quality of life and economic activity in general, so its not what any one wants, except may be a few crazy hippies!

    Which brings us to the second argument – if it can be shown that the cost of collecting fees from cyclists (proportional to their footprint), exceeds the net collection – would the other side cede that this is but political posturing with no practical consequences. Or would it then be necessary to raise the fees artificially to at least pay for its collection?

    And finally, what if I have both a car and a bicycle – so I have already paid registration fees and taxes that go with it. Do I then have to drive that car to be worthy and deserving of using the road?



    Not sure where you are riding it, but the train is generally full from Great America to Oakland when I ride it, the GAC station is in the center of the Golden Triangle and there is a lot of housing in Fremont, Hayward, and Oakland. The ridership seems to be bifurcated, it sort of empties out at Jack London and starts to fill up again with the commuters to Sacramento.

    The train would be totally packed except that the ACE train sucks up some of the very large GAC to Fremont contingent. My co-workers report that Fremont to Santa Clara in a car is taking well over an hour these days, from 6-10 AM.



    Okay, then explain to me why we aren’t asking pedestrians to pay a “token amount” for sidewalk maintenance? Why are we making homeowners pay to replace broken paving?



    I would like to hear Quentin Kopp explain his reasoning about “Who pays for roads.”



    You appear to labor under the delusion that political debates get settled by “evidence” or “facts”, even assuming that we all agree on what constitutes such things.

    In reality debates are settled by values, and facts are typically cherry-picked to support ones’ own personal biases.

    The idea that we make decisions based on “facts” is a delusion, albeit a charming one.