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    …okay we’re getting deep into tin foil hat territory here.

    You do know that the Muni trains are high floor (~50 inches), right? You can use moving steps on high or low floor trains, but it’s not really a good idea in either case due to the likelyhood of mechanical failures.


    Andy Chow

    TJPA has nothing to lose. It is not TJPA’s problem to identify funding, or if dwell time increases, or if someone gets hurt by falling bikes.

    The only thing I’ve heard is increase in flexibility in case of system disruption, not everyday increase in train traffic.

    No. 25″ platform does not have the same visual impact as 50″ platforms. 25″ platforms allow true level boarding for cyclists. Conversion from 8″ to 25″ allows the use of the same door. In fact it is worse off for cyclists if stations like Mountain View or Palo Alto are to be raise to 50″. Two steps access from the outside is more safer and faster than level boarding to the mid level and go down 3 steps inside the train.



    Well, I was going to link you to a video of the chief engineer for the Transbay JPA making the case for compatible platforms, but unfortunately SFGOV TV seem to have removed the video. It occurred on Dec 8th, 2014, and the slides are here:

    There is nothing about choosing 50 inch train floors requires raising platforms in Burlingame or Palo Alto any more than if they chose 25 inch train floors. In both cases, it makes sense to raise the platforms if and when funding allows, in order to provide level boarding. In neither case is raising the platforms required to provide service.


    Andy Chow

    HSRA and TJPA are politically weak entities. The only entity strong enough is SF Mayor’s office, which is represented on the JPB and TJPA. Clem Tillier provided the gun powder for Ed Lee’s office to push the issue, but at the end is still Ed Lee’s office.

    It is Ed Lee’s office behind eliminating restrooms. In June, SFMTA rep on JPB Tom Nolan passionately advocated for the restrooms, but completely flip-flopped a month later after being “rein-in” by the mayor’s staff.

    If you have been at the meetings and heard the discussions, it is clear who is pushing the issue and can easily figure out for what reason.

    25″ platform can be addressed by a single moving step, a technology already exist with the old streetcars.



    He created the Historical Preservation Commission, with the power to veto any external changes to any construction that is over 50 years old. The reviews required by this commission add $5-10,000 to any and all homeowner construction that changes the exterior at all. It is also quite easy for neighbors to simply block your changes entirely, especially if you are in a historical district.

    He blocked the development of 55 Washington and its 248 units and he led the opposition to 8 Washington and its 134 units. He blocked reconstruction of the Pagoda Theater and its 20 units of housing. He opposed having the Central Subway run through North Beach. He tried to strengthen the Shadows Ordinance to make it even harder to build high rises.

    He has a reputation for being abusive and bullying and saying some pretty racist anti-Chinese things.

    I appreciate his support of bicycling, but the rest is a pretty big negative.


    Upright Biker

    One has to keep in mind that Julie is now a city official, and as such has to be more careful with what she promises to whom. My understanding of her stance is that Polk Street is at its core a sewer and paving project (hard construction stuff), and that she doesn’t want to hold it up with hypothetical arguments about the impacts of bicycle infra. Instead, she seems to prefer getting it done as a compromise, and then, since the bike improvements here consist only of paint, pilot more improvements later. It’s not total victory, but she does clearly indicate that she is interested in more bicycle facility improvements overall.

    Peskin, on the other hand, is promising anything to anybody in his pursuit of the office, knowing full well that he, too, will face pressure from merchants, donors, supporters, and other interest groups if elected, and that will force him to compromise on issues relating to bicycles and pretty much everything else.

    Look at all the other stuff Christensen is supporting/working on, and the picture of her as a transportation-forward-thinker really is clear: Clay & Kearney traffic calming; Stockton Tunnel; Broadway Tunnel; Van Ness BRT; Central Subway; Columbus Ave pedestrian and bicycle improvements; Cable car safety, etc.



    The same people that has been pushing to develop 4th & King is the same people that advocate common boarding height and elimination of restroom onboard

    This simply isn’t true.

    The primary drivers behind platform compatibility are the HSR authority and the Transbay JPA, both of whom realized that it was the only way Transbay was going to function as a terminal for both Caltrain and HSR.

    The drivers behind removing 4th & King are the Mayor’s Office and the SF Planning Department. The HSR authority want to upgrade 4th & King to serve HSR trains, so they are unlikely to be behind this move. And the Transbay JPA have been actively opposed to the plan to remove 4th & King, as it would mean reopening the planning process for the DTX, which they have already environmentally cleared.

    The people pushing for elimination of bathrooms was Caltrain, who are trying to maximum seats on the new trains. They were not eliminated because of ADA issues caused by high-platforms. The only ADA issue that the high-platforms create is moving between the middle and lower level, which is a problem that needs to be solved regardless of whether there are bathrooms on the train or not.

    two boarding heights, standing room only, no restroom

    If you went with 25 inch platforms, as you have been advocating, you would also end up with two boarding heights until the platforms were rebuilt. That’s inevitable; you can’t wave a magic wand and raise everything to 25 inches and more than you can wave a magic wand and raise everything to 50 inches.

    Standing room only has been caused by the vast increase in jobs on the peninsula. How does using 50 inch platforms make the trains any more crowded than using 25 inch platforms?

    As noted, eliminating restrooms was driven by the Caltrain board for the purpose of increasing seats. It has nothing to do with platform height.


    Andy Chow

    Where’s the evidence that more trains can be operated in and out of Transbay on a regular basis if there’s common boarding height?

    All you have, all Clem Tillier has, and what Ed Lee has, is a belief that all trains can go in and out with common platforms. If there’s an analysis that validates your claim, why not bring it up?

    Trains can be “backed up” with conductor on the other end serving as a look out. So engineer does not have to switch position.


    Andy Chow

    Where’s the evidence that more trains can be operated in and out of Transbay on a regular basis if there’s common boarding height?

    Even if common boarding height at Transbay may be a good idea, what’s the reason to raise platforms in say Burlingame or Palo Alto?



    Those who would benefit the most from *compatibility* are Caltrain riders who would rather be getting off their train at Transbay than at 4th & King. That’s the big picture. Cyclists having to navigate three steps is a minor issue by comparison.


    Andy Chow

    One important aspect with taxi regulation is that the rate is set by the city with public input. TNC fares are unregulated and these companies do not want to be regulated.

    CPUC, which legalized and regulates TNCs, does not involve with setting fares, and has not done so for a long time. CPUC used to regulate privately run transit systems, but many of them converted to public operations, with their own fare setting process. CPUC does not regulate charter bus fares or limo rates since there’s competition and people have opportunities to shop around.

    With taxis still around, TNCs rate have to be competitive with taxis to attract riders. If taxis cease to exist, then TNCs can raise rates and people would have no other option.

    Since TNCs don’t own any vehicles or hire any drivers, they’re like health insurance companies. Taxis are kind of like health care providers taking in Medicare payments, with SFMTA acting as Medicare.



    If you’re planning on having all trains serve Transbay (which you should be) then 4th & King will be a very poor space to store trains, because there will be no direct connection between the 4th & King surface yard and Transbay. Each morning you would need to move stored trains south from 4th & King, stop them just south of the DTX connection (approximately Mission Bay Dr), have the engineer walk to the other end of the train, and move them north into Transbay. In the evening, you’d need to do the same thing in reverse for every train that you want to store at 4th & King.

    Much like reversing BART trains at SFO, this would be unnecessarily complicated and time consuming. HSR will need to build a new yard near SF in any case (there isn’t enough room for them at 4th & King) so it makes sense for them to coordinate with Caltrain and build a shared yard. Bayshore would be a good location.

    It’s crazy that you complain about ‘lost capacity’ from removing the 4th & King yard, but don’t believe that increasing the capacity of Transbay through Caltrain/HSR compatibility is important. If rail capacity is important at 4th & King, it’s even more important at Tramsbay, which is much closer to where most people are trying to get to.


    Andy Chow

    The problem is that those who would benefit most from level boarding would not have level boarding. Three steps up and down is not level boarding, even if it is so at the train door. Three steps is gallery cars, except that they would have to go and down while train is moving.


    Andy Chow

    Where would you store them, and would SF pays for the additional operating costs if the trains are stored further south?

    Land for the yard may not be the best use from the get go, but the yard has been there for decades. If the land is lost to redevelopment there’s no way to get back that kind of lost capacity anywhere in SF.

    Yard use and redevelopment is not mutually exclusive. There are many examples where development occurs above the yard.


    Andy Chow

    Caltrain, HSR, and TJPA never said in any occasion that if the two systems share platforms then the station can fit all the projected train traffic, or even increase in train traffic with dedicated platforms.

    The benefits of platform sharing, according to the staff, is to allow traffic to move more efficiently during system disruption.

    The same people that has been pushing to develop 4th & King is the same people that advocate common boarding height and elimination of restroom onboard (because of ADA issue created by two platform heights). I don’t think they really care about safety and passenger experience as much as building up a case for Caltrain to vacate the yard and free up space for redevelopment. If they can settle with Muni Metro as flawed as it is, shouldn’t the rest of the Peninsula settle with a Caltrain that’s like Muni Metro (two boarding heights, standing room only, no restroom)?



    I agree about 4th & King – my point is that even if you don’t agree, it’s not a reason to oppose making Transbay work better for Caltrain and HSR.

    I don’t think the bikes changing levels is a huge issue; it’s only three steps, and there will be bike ramps. And I agree about the bathrooms.



    It seems to me that the 4th and King railyard contains a lot of wasted, as it is essentially used for train storage when they aren’t running. Also not that many terminals are needed for the number of trains arriving/departing. It seems like Caltrain could store their trains farther away and drive them in, freeing up expensive San Francisco land for better use.

    I do agree with the assessment that having bikes stored on a different level than the boarding platform just means longer dwell times though.

    Hopefully Caltrain chooses to keep restrooms on the trains, from the opposition to restrooms by the Caltrain board it is clear that many of them are not regular Caltrain riders.



    The choice here is between creating a functioning rail station at Transbay, or creating a mess that is only capable of handling one-third of Caltrain’s traffic. If you do create a mess at Transbay, then yes, you ensure the continued existence of 4th & King in order to handle the other two-thirds of Caltrain’s traffic that can’t continue onto Transbay. You also ensure that two-thirds of Caltrain passengers have to continue to cram onto Muni, or take their bikes on the train with them, in order to get from 4th & King to downtown SF.

    Why on earth would you want to do that? It seems rather like cutting off your nose to spite your face. Much better to achieve the best possible result at Transbay *and* fight to preserve 4th & King from being sold off for development.

    Clearly Caltrain’s lawyers have a different opinion to you on what is and what is not ADA compliant. Feel free to sue if you think you have a case.


    Mario Tanev

    Glad to see the city finally acting one one of the three most brain-dead obvious projects in San Francisco:
    1. Car-free Powell (with legal ability for pedestrians to cross at any point as long as there is no cable car).
    2. Fully pedestrian Grant St in Chinatown (or potentially to Market St).
    3. Bus-only Stockton

    With all three San Francisco has a chance at pretending to be a world class city. Market St is more complicated because there are plenty of dead spots and too many bus lines. A pedestrian Stockton (as in Winter promenade) would be wonderful, but it’s a major transit corridor. Jefferson St makes sense as well, but nobody cares, it’s a trap. But there are really no good arguments against the three above.


    Andy Chow

    The next Muni Metro brought by Ed Lee and SF interests that want to eliminate the 4th & King yard. Caltrain knows that TBT doesn’t have enough space but Ed Lee thinks that if Caltrain can use the same platforms somehow they could squeeze in (which Caltrain doesn’t think it can) so it would free up 4th & King for real estate.

    I don’t think interior wheelchair lift is ADA compliant either. ADA is about experience. level boarding to an area where ADA passenger will not be seated is not really level boarding.

    Level boarding to an area where bikes are not stored means longer dwell time and creating falling hazard with cyclists moving their bikes while train is moving.



    “For one thing, our average street tree mortality rate is 50%.”

    What does this mean? All trees eventually die, so tree mortality is 100%. Do you mean how many die each year? In that case, your number is way off: it’s actually 4% (see Urban Forest Plan, pg 47, Strategy 2.1:

    I agree that there will be hit to the canopy in the short-term, but I think it’s a small price to pay. And if you read through the Urban Forest Plan (linked above) which became officially policy last year, you’ll see that the goal is to add 50,000 street trees which will compensate for way more than lost here. Thus, in the bigger picture of SF’s urban forest (which indeed is one of the worst among big cities), the short-term loss of large trees is well worth the benefit of getting massively-improved public transit on Van Ness.



    It’s pretty terrible if you are on the supply side, too. No one trusts cabs. No one trusted them before. You can’t make a plan around taking a cab. Decide to drive/muni/walk and if a cab happens to come by while you are walking or waiting for transit, hail the cab… and hey look, it’s ignoring you completely!

    Rideshare needs a lot of regulation, but I’m not sure I’ll be sorry if the taxis disappear.

    … And they make even the wildest anti bike rant seem to be describing a law abiding boy scout in comparison!


    Kyle Huey

    This is why transit and bikes should have their own lanes, actually protected infrastructure, etc.


    Jym Dyer

    @mx – You know what else is terrible? Trying to get anywhere in surface public transit when 20,000 – 30,000 additional cars are flooding the street, or to use active transportation when they lurch suddenly into your “protected” bike lane to grab or drop off a fare.


    Jym Dyer

    @Dark Soul – Yes, that’s exactly what it would be: good luck for pedestrians. Because it is a directive to focus on the behavior that’s actually dangerous to pedestrians.



    Off-topic: Caltrain has decided on a 50 inch height for future level-boarding platforms, and will order new trains that are compatible with both those platforms and the existing 8 inch platforms. This is great news as it means that any new platforms built for HSR (e.g. at Transbay) can also be used by Caltrain.


    Dale Danley

    I would be interested in an analysis of what Aaron Peskin did (or didn’t) do during his previous 8 years representing D3, both for his district, and also from a citywide perspective (i.e., I believe he is an attorney with CEQA expertise and was President of the BOS when the city passed a bike plan that was then stalled for years by a CEQA lawsuit).


    Bike Pretty

    That’s how the law should work in theory, but motorists are not typically found at fault for hitting a pedestrian who jaywalked, or one who dared to cross the street at an intersection when they had the light, at a stop sign, etc.



    From the SF Weekly article: “Gillespie framed the matter even more starkly: There should be 3,000
    cabs on the streets of San Francisco, but there are only about 1,900, he
    said. Meanwhile, an estimated 20,000 – 30,000 TNC drivers flood city
    streets, driving in from the Peninsula, the East Bay, and points beyond.
    (There is no reliable data about the number of ride-hail drivers on the
    streets at any given time.) “

    So what you’re saying is that, even before Uber and Lyft showed up, using numbers utterly made up by the taxi industry, there was 5-10x the amount of demand for a service than supply? While that’s a great thing if you happen to own the supply, it’s pretty terrible if you want a ride somewhere.






    Tell that to my friend who died by being hit by a bicycle and another friend who was in a coma for three weeks after being hit by a cyclist riding/speeding on the sidewalk.



    Might it be that older people rightly perceive bicyclists who don’t slow and don’t look and don’t stop at stop signs a real threat?

    No, it’s not a real threat. Look at actual traffic injury and deaths. Bicycles are rarely a threat to third parties.



    Yes, it is very well true that the loss of trees will have an effect on the canopy and on the traffic calming for decades. However, why this wasn’t suggested during the Environmental Review process is beyond me.


    Ziggy Tomcich

    Peskin is a strong leader who doesn’t appease to get things done. As a cyclist, I’m sick of our safety constantly being jeopardized to appease drivers. Julie Christensen and Ed Lee have made their opinions quite clear; cyclists can get all the “improvements” they want so long as it doesn’t actually inconvenience any drivers. If Copenhagen had this sort of leadership, they’d still be the car-centric city they were in the 70’s.



    There are new streets being built in SF, in some of the larger new developments like Hunter’s Point, Brotherhood Way, and even some smaller developments. Acacia Ave, Ironwood Way and Catalina St., for example.

    And I do think they’re a bit too wide.



    Seriously SFMTA should already have implemented this easy to do improvement, but like anything else they lack the courage to do so in a timely manner. It seems like the main concern from that draggy cumbersome business district is that they want delivery vehicles to be allowed 24/7, to me the plan SFMTA had to restrict ALL vehicles from 5AM to midnight on Powell St is a very RATIONAL PLAN. This agency should just say it and do it how it is. In an area that is often packed with people especially with tourist, especially on Powell St it’s dumb to be doing deliveries at the busiest times of the day. Businesses should be doing deliveries between the hours of midnight and 5AM, by doing so, there is little to no traffic and it would be less chaotic and more efficient. This business district should just give it a try. I know for sure that these vehicle restrictions on the first three blocks of Powell St will NOT be detrimental to businesses, either it will be no impact or it will be better and it will reduce congestion for the Powell St Cable Cars and improve pedestrian safety, this is a win-win. SFMTA is right to move quickly on this because this is a problem that needs an URGENT fix. Time for this agency to STEP UP to the plate and MOVE forward and NOT delay any further!!!!!!!!



    It’s ridiculous for the city to try to delay this much needed project that has been stalled and delayed for too long!!!!! Especially when after completion of this project that there will be more trees and not less. Look I understand stripping out existing trees for construction isn’t pleasant, but like what was said is that there will be more trees after construction, ok maybe not as mature and tall once planted, but like any other living life, things will mature, in this case with trees when planted, they might be small but they’ll grow tall and mature being able to sequester more CO2 long term, yes it will take time. In addition, when BRT opens, if ever, it has the potential to reduce traffic congestion therefore further reducing carbon emissions even more. To me this is a win-win, it’s time for the city to move forward with this project and get it to the construction phase, IT CAN NO LONGER WAIT ANY MORE!!!!!!!!!



    What? Where, among some of the most expensive real estate in the country, are “these new streets for cars” coming from?


    Mesozoic Polk

    I figured for sure that Peskin would be the best candidate based on his delightfully obstructionist approach to city governance. Christensen mostly seems to want to get things done, while I generally prefer to *stop* things from getting done.

    At the same time, reading Christensen’s measured and balanced approach to this issue gives me pause. She recognizes that a driver’s convenience in finding a parking spot is as important as saving lives, and that gives me hope for the future of San Francisco.


    Mesozoic Polk

    I figured for sure that Peskin would be the best candidate based on his delightfully obstructionist approach to city governance. Christensen mostly seems to want to get things done, while I generally prefer to *stop* things from getting done.

    At the same time, reading Christensen’s measured and balanced approach to this issue gives me pause. She recognizes that a driver’s convenience in finding a parking spot may be comparable to saving lives, and that gives me hope for the future of San Francisco.



    your colleague is wrong.

    the backup used to take several light cycles to get through if going straight. Several more if going to dolores. Much faster now. My gps doesn’t try to take me off SJ and onto mission



    Just recently noticed the 280 merge. Its fantastic. no longer waiting through 5 cycles of lights to get past randall.


    Dark Soul

    No but SFMTA is introduce new streets for cars.
    Instead of increasing safety without causing new problems



    At least as far as most equitable/safest/best-practice/sustainable use of our public ways goes, ’nuff said:



    Yup! Thankfully for SF, LOS–while not dead–is no longer a project-killer under CEQA. Which is really a big deal for advancing many complete streets projects going forward.

    It also means if/when there are delays, people won’t be able to hide behind LOS as an excuse.



    I am deeply disappointed by Christensen’s stance here. She has effectively said that my life is less important than a few seconds of a drivers time. She has quite a few things right but this issue is important to me.

    I am not a big fan of Peskin either, for a number of reasons, but mostly because he is King NIMBY and has contributed more than any other person to our current housing shortage.

    I think I will focus on other issues this election.



    Clipper (and Cubic, the utterly evil contractor responsible for the system) do not give a darn about customer service or making the system easy to use.



    Can we decrease danger by delivering more cars to Powell, then?



    people who want transportation reform are also against this. it is a bandaid project that will deliver very little relief in 5 years, vs. investing in a bigger better project that will provide much better relief in 15 yrs. people are too impatient and the city likes to throw away money. its not about car culture. once we spend the money on this half as$ed project, its gone and we cant do it over.



    completely agree. good post