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    Clipper fares aren’t being reduced though. It’s more that cash fares are being increased. And it’s the poor who disproportionately use cash.


    Karen Lynn Allen

    Very happy about the return of the Muni Castro shuttle. Also happy that Clipper Cards fares (and also Muni mobile app fares) will soon cost less than cash fares. Other transit systems around the country have been doing this for a long time. Raising the top age of the youth discount to 18 makes sense because these days many seniors in high school are 18. Not sure what the benefit to Muni is of offering unlimited rides to Clipper Card holders between 8:30 and 5 am, but maybe it will encourage more people from the suburbs who party in the city to get Clipper Cards.



    Amen to that.



    Simply because he has stepped up as our transit supporter. Asking him to provide some actual plan isn’t too much to ask, especially if he wants policy changes in favor of transit development.



    Sell that logic to the 100,000 people who use transit in this area of town. Clearly, you don’t live in the area or use transit much.



    New York subway cars may not be the best example–the NY system has a tradition of heavy, rugged cars that are built for the ages. Chicago has cars that are considerably lighter because of the “L” structures they must travel on.



    A green light for a bus doesn’t do much good if there are vehicles jammed in both directions ahead of it. The reality is that the only way transit can attain useful speeds and capacity is either if:

    1) The rest of us stop driving, which isn’t going to happen, or

    2) The transit is put underground, which is what Wiener and almost every other informed observer and city has done.

    We are spending the best part of 2 billion on the Central Subway. Are you seriously suggesting that was un-necessary and instead we could just have changed a few lighst sequences on 4th and Stockton streets?

    Better to forget your personal vendetta on cars and instead plan for subways and the undergrounding of transit.



    You can prioritize intersections, so trains always get green. They do this in thousands of cities around the world. Maybe it’s ever so slightly more inconvenient for drivers than simply losing a lane, but it is still entirely reasonable to keep traffic moving in a city with an efficient above ground segregated transit system.



    Just because it’s one of the busiest lines east of the Mississippi still doesn’t justify the expense of building an underground line. You need to have the ridership to support it, and right now, there simply aren’t the numbers for that, which is why BRT is a much better option.

    Also, you don’t need “high rises” but you do need to have densities on the order of the Brooklyn or Queens or European cities which have numerous 4-5 story buildings along their commercial corridors. Right now, the neighborhoods in along the Geary corridor are ridiculously underpopulated compared to other places where you have underground rail systems.



    Aren’t plans just another form of talk? I think the metric should be what has been physically created — more on-time transit, more busses on the streets, more protected bike lanes, more widened sidewalks, more bike share stations, fewer people injured by drivers, etc., etc. Then, with the data in, ask yourself which elected public officials could and did have a hand in this or that bit of actual progress.
    Finally, I must object to your singling out Wiener. Why not Kim, or Avalos, or Farrell? Why not the heads of relevant departments? In an election year, we all need to conduct ourselves, including our public comments, with gravity and a keenness for truth. Otherwise, we risk disparaging public figures indiscriminately, even those who deserve our praise.



    Of course I blame our fair mayor first and foremost, but if Wiener was really on board with expanding transit I’d expect him to release a solid plan or two to get naysayers convinced. Talk is cheap.



    Remove the J from the Market St. Subway by extending the line underground under Fillmore to the Marina which will create a much faster, higher-capacity N-S route.

    The Sunset is pretty much built out and adding anything to Sunset Blvd is out of the question. 19th Ave. is as bad as it is today because it became a major thoroughfare after the freeway revolt and the street was widened. It’s still flanked mostly by single-family homes.

    However, there are pockets available for upzoning,in particular Stonestown. Turn a suburban mall into an urban commercial/residential center adjacent to mass transit.



    the things that strike me are (1) the need for additional housing/jobs density in the sunset and richmond, particularly at major nodes along Geary, 19th, Sunset, etc. to support rapid expansion of transit on the west side; (2) consideration to remove the N from the Market subway and have it run to Mission Bay via division or 16th with a major transfer point at a mega jobs/housing development at Market Street safeway; (3) creation of a “circle line” to connect existing and new jobs centers Downtown, Presidio, 19th Ave, Stonestown, Balboa, Candlestick; (4) criss-crossing the circle route with a north-south via Diviz or Van ness from Marina to Bayview and east-west (both on new N and potentially making an alt-L from West Portal to Dogpatch via 24th street BART.



    I agree with everything you wrote, except the part about Scott Wiener. He has been a consistent advocate for transit. As one of 11 supervisors, however, there are limits to what he can effect. Blame the mayor before anyone else.



    There you go again with pesky facts.



    Are you kidding me? The 38 is one of the busiest bus lines east of the Mississippi River. The demand exists today and you cannot discount the need for mass transit in this area simply because it’s not filled with high rise buildings. If that’s the case, SOMA should have dozens of underground stations with all the high rises that have gone up over the past decade. But, it doesn’t.



    The viability of a subway on Geary depends to a large extent on the density of development on that corridor. Without changes to zoning, the ridership numbers will be too low to support to justify spending 25 years and 10’s of billions of dollars to build one. The city should also be pushing businesses and residents to realize that if they want underground transit infrastructure, then they need to accept higher levels of housing and business development that what the area is currently zoned for.



    The fact that we need to plan these projects 25 years out shows how much of a failure the SFMTA and other public agencies have become when it comes to getting these types of projects done. If you consider that 25 years is close to an entire career for some people, then this looks more like a jobs program for city employees than a transportation project.



    VTA isn’t even worth discussion.


    Jeffrey Baker

    Didn’t you just describe VTA light rail?


    Jeffrey Baker

    BART cars are the lightest railcars on the planet. A 70-foot BART car weighs 55000 lbs. A 60-foot R160-class car from the NYC MTA weighs 85000 lbs.



    Transit hasn’t kept up with demand or development in the Bay Area. However, you can give up a lane to rail all you want, but if that train is crawling from stop light/sign to stop light/sign and stopping every two blocks for passengers then you’re dealing with a very ineffective system.



    RE: improving surface rail routes

    Come on, really? There is so much opposition to change it’s ridiculous. We are dealing with so much opposition to removing surface stops on the L-Taraval to improve service and reduce travel time. Heck, we can’t get a safe place to board trains without a struggle.

    MUNI has been teasing us with signal priority for too long now. Hang out at St. Francis Circle, for example. It takes 5 minutes to get through that intersection. Try 4th/King. Trains just sit there waiting to make the turn. Suffice it to say, there is no such thing as signal priority and it will not be implemented any time soon.

    We need politicians who are willing to fight for better transit in SF and the Bay Area. Not just talk (like Wiener), but people who are truly vested in our transit future and who are willing to fight for the Federal and state dollars to get some substantive projects built, projects that should have been built decades ago.



    Have you been to Japan, China or other countries in earthquake zones that have subways systems? Gee, I guess we shouldn’t build skyscrapers either, because the Big One can hit at any time.

    Read up on engineering and tunneling in seismic zones while you’re sitting in traffic on the bus.



    I agree, but has Wiener ever released a formal plan for building more subways? Anyone can express the idea for more subways, but he needs to deliver. Otherwise, he can forget about my vote.



    Why limit your definition of BART to a commuter rail type system? It can be a hybrid system, you know. It should build more stations where density and demand require it, like in SF. Just because SF is 7×7 doesn’t mean we shouldn’t have a robust transit system within its boundaries as well as sufficient regional connections. There are parts of the city, like the Richmond and Sunset, that are more suburban in design and function, that would greatly benefit from a BART line to connect the area with downtown and points south.

    MUNI is a glorified streetcar system, not a true light-rail system. Check out what Denver, Charlotte, Twin Cities, Dallas, etc. have in place for light rail. All the Market St. subway did was put the trains underground downtown and connect with the existing Twin Peaks Tunnel. In fact, BART was supposed to run out to St. Francis Circle on the tracks that MUNI currently uses, but BART ditched those plans and MUNI took over the top level of the Market St. Subway, having 5 lines converge in one twin track level.



    Farmland is dependent on water, and not housing needs. Infrastructure is largely already present, and not overburdened as it is in urban areas. Go ahead and revitalize your center city, but please quit proposing that this is a zero sum game. There will indeed be growth in urban, exurban and suburban areas. And transit needs will follow all these paths.



    Quick answer: Yes, more sprawl would be very bad.
    Besides the problem of consuming important farm land, it takes too much infrastructure to serve a sprawl community. The tax base can’t cover the normal costs of maintenance and repair for the sewers, roads and water pipes.
    On the other hand, the poor people in the denser inner cities do generate enough tax revenue to more than pay for the infrastructure, which is smaller per taxpayer because of the closer distances. So the poor people are subsidizing the wealthy estates.
    Revitalizing the center city makes the area more attractive to upper income people looking for easy access to restaurants and cultural assets, attracting a wealthier population to the city, where lower taxes will be enough to fully cover the cost of the resources that they use.



    Dedicated bus lanes are so much cheaper than subways and we could do much more with less. Additionally, we live in a land of earthquakes, that makes construction of subway lines even more expensive than east coast cities.



    You start off saying “I think this post displays a problem with the attitude of bikers, not with drivers”, then go on to say “rather, it displays what are almost ridiculously unclear and confusing road markings” … sounds like the issue is the motorists inability to read signs, or the cities inability to properly word signs; neither of which is an issue with the “attitude of bikers”.



    They built the Twin Peaks tunnel in just over three years using steam shovels and horse drawn carts to haul away the dirt. It started Dec 14th 1914 and opened Feb 3rd 1918. SFMTA couldn’t figure out how to keep the tunnel boring machines in the ground to finish the obvious rest of the Central Subway. Who builds a subway half way to the destination and pulls the infrastructure out without even figuring out a way to (at least) put a station at the end of the tunnel that you DID bore? Meanwhile Ed Lee is nowhere to be seen and clearly doesn’t give a fig. There’s a very, very, very expensive bus station being built downtown with nothing being done to extend Caltrain. And Scott Weiner is leaving for the state Senate, so there’s essentially nobody around to take up this cause. Name the station for Rose Pak – she got it done as much as she could! Where’s the next Rose Pak to make Geary happen? This is all an exercise in…



    BART cars are custom-made, heavy, and expensive, and use wide gauge rails. New subways should use off-the-shelf, standard gauge cars like those used in most metro systems around the world.



    Why do 600k people have to give up driving just to give over a handful of lanes to transit. We’re not talking about getting rid of roads or anything like that. The main reason for building expensive subways over cheaper surface routes at least in areas where density doesn’t quite support subway trains is to get transit out of the way of cars, it’s another enormous automobile subsidy. But when it comes to driving, giving over just a few lanes to trains would be feasible. Not politically of course….but in terms of actual transportation planning, totally reasonable.


    Richard Mlynarik

    Excuse me if I categorize this as lazy criticism. I know it’s popular to
    crap on BART, but from my experience this typically comes via a lack of
    understanding about technical design criteria, limitations, or
    compromises made intentionally due to factors unavailable to the critic.

    Bloggy McBloggerson has SECRET ACCESS to INSIDER KNOWLEDGE! “I KNOW it isn’t as simple as you people think! Nuance! Ridership is increasing, so they must be doing everything right! Give them more money, always, unquestioningly! It’s the only grown-up, prudent, reasonable, mature, nuanced approach.”

    Meanwhile, in the entire rest of the world, BART’s “expertise” is unwanted, it’s employees and consultants unemployable, and its technical design risible antiques, or worse.


    So why did BART choose the closed design if there are no benefits?

    Indeed, Because they are morons” is the answer. Olde Tyme American Railroading involves “cars”. BART’s scandalously low-productivity, low-availability, high-cost maintenance division couldn’t imagine life without “cars”. “Cars” are what they do. (Or what they park out of service for large fractions of their lives.) “Cars” are what the “fleet of the future” will have.

    Same story at Caltrain, BTW. America’s Finest Transportation Planners, bringing you yesterday, tomorrow.



    But, but, but, there were doubts about the pedestrian’s actions!



    Based on the reference to trains currently all having to use the same tunnel, I think their comment is strictly regarding rolling stock.

    They might be right, especially because if lines were totally underground they could run full-length trains of Muni Metro cars rather than the 2 car trains we have today.



    You have not make any kind of case for the premise that it is unconstitutional for a State, County or City to issue licenses or registration for different classes of road user. And the Madison example is clearly a challenge to your presumption.

    I think “SF Guest” above has nailed it.



    And how do we magically to the position where buses are “no longer in traffic”? Are you going to tell 600,000 people not to drive?


    Greg Costikyan

    I’m not sure the expense of BART/commuter rail-style services is necessary in SF. It’s only 7 miles by 7 miles, after all; current Muni vehicles, moving faster because no longer in traffic, and no longer subject to delays by the fact that all lines must move through the same tunnel, would work quite well. Muni cars have a top speed of 35mph, which is about the same as the IRT and BMT in New York (the IND can go a bit faster).


    Summer Glau

    Any thoughts from the audience about Santa Clara County Measure B? I’m tempted to vote no because of the wasteful road projects and BART extension, although I think Caltrain improvements are too important to give up.


    SF Guest

    I think any kind of licensing for a road user would have to be introduced at a state level. Bike registration can be implemented from a city level.


    Rogue Cyclist

    The doorways between cars seem wider and the doors themselves are easier to open. The doors were open for the open house, but one of the engineers showed me how they worked. Hopefully this will enable people to move between cars with less hassle.



    Millbrae has an extra track for viewing for people in SF and the peninsula.



    Clearly? Like mud.



    “BART is not a multi-route system”

    Depends how you define “multi-route”. I’d say CalTrain is a better example of a single-route system. There is only one line and no interchanges except to a different system.

    Compared with that BART has 4 branches in the East Bay, with interchanges at MacArthur, the central Oakland stations and BayFair.

    On the SF side you’re more correct, with only the trivial split between SFO and Millbrae.

    “Between any two points on BART there exists exactly one route”

    Again, I think you’re using “route” in a strange way there. Obviously there is only one route between any two stations. BART doesn’t have redundant track with the possible exception of SFO to Milbrae. That’s why a train stalling anywhere on BART is a disaster.

    But BART is still a true network (a better word to use). So is the Muni streetcar system, although rather one-dimensional until the Central Subway is working.

    The biggest and most meaingful distinction is between a transit network like BART and a single route operation like CalTrain.



    I would assume the production design for the exterior train displays would show the “end of line” route name on the display, to match the info on the station platforms.

    The route color does matter in the East Bay with regard to the Richmond and Pittsburg lines, and the Dublin and Fremont lines. Even when that info isn’t needed it still doesn’t hurt anything to include it.

    Here is an image of what the interior LED displays look like, at the end of each car.



    Articulated trains with open gangways makes for one long continuous passenger space. It’s the way to go. Check out São Paulo’s new yellow line #4 … which is also driverless with platform screens and runs off overhead busbar. I’ve ridden it for weeks while there for work … very, very, very nice compared to BART. And that single line carries about twice as many riders per day as all of BART.



    Excuse me if I categorize this as lazy criticism. I know it’s popular to crap on BART, but from my experience this typically comes via a lack of understanding about technical design criteria, limitations, or compromises made intentionally due to factors unavailable to the critic. Armchair criticism can be accurate, but I at least try to give the benefit of the doubt until I can do my research, after which I almost always learn relevant information I wasn’t aware of at the outset.

    “They’re morons and the solution is obvious” is the lazy way to explain away things we don’t agree with, and avoid doing the hard work of actually taking responsibility and engaging oneself by digging in, understanding why decisions were made, and working to untangle the complexities which led to those decisions.



    That image is of the panel outside of the train, as noted above. The interior LED sign is not shown here.


    Jeffrey Baker

    Yes, I saw the cars at MacArthur.

    That mock up is symptomatic of BART’s problems with information design and wayfinding. First off, obviously, there is a space between the two words in San Francisco. Second, San Francisco is not a destination. There are 9 stations in that city. Some trains turn back at Montgomery, others at Daly City. Finally, the color of the line is totally irrelevant because BART is not a multi-route system. Between any two points on BART there exists exactly one route. Indeed the color codes change meanings on weekends and in the evenings, rendering them pointless. Only the terminal station is relevant.