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  1.  

    vcs

    Say what you want about Wiener in general. But in the twenty+ years I’ve lived in this city, he is the only politician who actually seems to understand and wants to address the real problems of the Muni system. Everyone else has talked-the-talk but in the end they only see Muni as a $$$$ conduit to their special-interest kickback group.

    Just to reinforce the Wiener quote in the article:

    “Money is an important part of the solution, but you can throw all the money in the world at Muni. Unless you change how this agency is managed and how it’s governed, and the lack of accountability that it has, things are not going to change dramatically.”

    That is very true but Streetsblog and “urbanists” seem to spend a lot of effort supporting the status-quo shitty transit because “bike lanes”. Wiener is rightfully calling out MTA management and unions because they have become the enemy of good transit. Their defenders are equally enemies of the people.

    When Wiener is elected mayor, some of you “streetsblog” people will be surprised, but you really shouldn’t be. The politician who actually manages to fix Muni deserves a statute in front of City Hall.

    (disclaimer: just some nobody with no involvement in politics who takes the metro.)

  2.  

    vcs

    OK, let’s talk only about the trains.

    There have been numerous articles about Muni’s shitty maintenance practices in SFWeekly and elsewhere. Bredas might be lousy trains, but it seems fairly certain that Muni wasn’t maintaining them properly as well. The Siemens trains won’t be perfect and if Muni can’t keep them running we will see the same problems..

    Also, years ago, when a Breda door wouldn’t close, the driver went out and stuck a thumbwrench into the bolt to disable the door. Apparently this violated Union Rules and now the train has to sit there with everyone held hostage while the Slowest People Alive lumber out to use their skilled thumbwrench labor.

    Streesblog and transit advocates generally don’t care about any this operational stuff because it might piss-off their allies. Clearly the solution to endemic Muni Metro Shittyness is low floors.

  3.  

    Dexter Wong

    You remind me of the guy who points out that you don’t have the latest mobile phone and likens you to your grandfather in the process! Long low-floor streetcars came out the 1990s with the Portland streetcar. It was then that the “modern streetcar” was differentiated with light rail. The streetcar was then touted as the perfect downtown circulator by the Wall Street Journal. It traveled slow, had many stops, but allowed people to move about easily through the neighborhood. What Muni has is going between the outer neighborhoods and downtown. I think you’re annoyed because you control nothing in San Francisco.

  4.  

    MrEricSir

    Supervisor Katy Tang and Norman Yee said they were “uncomfortable” with
    the measure, because it would siphon off general funds that could be
    used for other city services.

    That’s never stopped city agencies from siphoning money back from Muni before.

  5.  

    BBnet3000

    The signalling system is a mess, and was from day one, but they arent fixing that right now, theyre ordering new trains. Given that, we’re talking about the trains.

    If they make mistakes on that now, in 10 years they may fix the signalling system but we’ll still have crappy trains the way we always have. Before Breda there was Boeing-Vertol, theyve literally never gotten this right.

  6.  

    Gezellig

    That’s definitely true, though on the other hand SF has far far fewer days of rain than Amsterdam does.

    And SF does actually have large swaths of flat and relatively flat land which don’t require that much effort. There are even established routes (such as the most famous, The Wiggle: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Wiggle) that connect up flat areas to each other for hill-avoidance.

    The other powerful thing which helps in SF is bike+transit. This is already doable on BART and Muni buses in addition to some other agencies’ transit systems but not currently on Muni Metro (unless you have a folding bike).

    While I wouldn’t ever expect Amsterdam-like 50% modeshare in neighborhoods like Twin Peaks (unless ebikes become ubiquitous) SF’s current overall 3-4% bike modeshare level is probably more about subpar and lacking bike infrastructure rather than hills. A lot of flat densely populated (and growing) areas such as much of SoMa/Mission/Hayes Valley/Western Addition/Dogpatch/Mission Bay/etc. are ripe for far higher bike modeshare with better infra.

  7.  

    Not this again.

    This may come as a shock, but this is not a two-dimensional world we live in. Even in Amsterdam, there are inclines you have to pedal up, and bridges/tunnels to get up and over/under highways, not to mention multistory bike parking garages you bike into and out of. Google it. You can also use google to find SF’s most forgiving lumps.

  8.  

    davistrain

    I’ve never been to Amsterdam, but I understand that it has a mostly-flat topography (like Davis CA or New Orleans), making it even more attractiive for cycling than lumpy places like SF.

  9.  

    davistrain

    And I learned a new word–”Bougie” which in some circles is short for “Bourgeois”. I asked my wife (whose ancestors came from Quebec) and she said that in French is means “candle”.

  10.  

    the_greasybear

    Reno has level-boarding BRT platforms.

  11.  

    Andy Chow

    I am a bit partial when it comes to feeder shuttles rather than the long distance shuttles (Google buses). The primary purpose of those feeder shuttles is to connect with main line transit (BART, Caltrain, Market St, etc). They add passengers to main line transit and reduce the need for Muni to provide feeder service, which might not work as well due to its operational issues and possibly more stops along the route.

    The long distance shuttles are more about point to point, and serves a route that cannot currently be served by a single transit provider.

  12.  

    vcs

    Haha, I will gladly wear that label.

    But as another commenter asked, do you guys even ride Muni Metro? The subway is routinely congested and often goes into full “meltdown” mode. You can watch 3 of the same letter go by while you wait 20 minutes for your train. The trains crawl in certain sections because of bad tracks. The announcements claim trains turn around at Embarcadero in 3 minutes, but it reality it’s more like 10.

    The problems are significant and pretty damn obvious to anyone who depends on Metro. But OK, let’s carry on about the important stuff: low floors and bike racks.

  13.  

    Justin

    I agree with you that I do find the red colors more attractive and more modern looking, hopefully the interiors will be light and modern just like in the renderings

  14.  

    Gezellig

    Absolutely! Yeah, that’s what I found so intriguing about the situation in the Netherlands–even with practically free transit many/most people still choose to bike as the premium option, simply because it’s easiest and fastest (and also can be done at any hour). This is ultimately a big cost-saver for the Dutch government and municipalities because investing in even top-notch bike infra is ridiculously cheap compared to transit.

    Some other funny parallels to SF—Amsterdam’s Metro system also has some very egregious gaps and also a way-over-budget over-schedule subway project with at-best middling potential benefits under construction.

    Many people there have long preferred to just bike, but of course this is aided by the bike infrastructure to back it up. It’d be great if SF could realize how many people-moving gains it could get out of relatively low-cost investments in bike infrastructure. This way that money could be saved for transit projects that really needed it.

  15.  

    Lee Ross

    I hate to be so acerbic. But reading about this ballot measure propounded by these folks and their cars who think they have some unalienable right to push everyone else aside is…I won’t say what I really believe and leave it to a comment I AM BEYOND FRUSTRATION WITH THESE PEOPLE.

  16.  

    Karen Lynn Allen

    I think the speed issue is a problem for any surface transportation in dense cities. (Cross town buses in NYC only average 8mph.) It can be helped by more distance between stops and signal prioritization (which I think Amsterdam has?) but high pedestrian density and traffic congestion inevitably cut into average speed. (Which is why cities with extensive underground metros are so lucky.) Even a BRT with dedicated right of way down Geary or Van Ness will be lucky to average 12 mph.

    Totally agree that if people in San Francisco understood how much faster biking is than taking Muni (especially if a transfer is involved) and there were a reasonable amount of protected bike infrastructure, bikes and electric bikes would be everywhere. In Amsterdam, the middle-aged lady we rented our apartment from was a violinist with the orchestra. Even though the tram went pretty much directly from her place to the concert hall, she biked there instead, her violin on her back. It probably took her half the time of taking the tram. But if I’m attending the symphony in SF, it also takes me half the time to bike as it does to take Muni there. (And a little less time than driving, finding parking, and walking.)

  17.  

    Gezellig

    I bike and/or take Muni Metro on an everyday basis and welcome this development.

    I think people with bikes know it’s generally faster to bike than take Muni Metro. But when Muni Metro is faster (such as through West Portal-Castro tunnel as you mention) it really would be worth it.

    And since it’s in people’s self-interest don’t you think most people will figure that out and only take it when they need it? I don’t foresee hordes of lazy bicyclists hopping on Muni Metro just cuz.

    Besides, you might be surprised at other scenarios besides Dolores Park/Noe Valley and West Portal/Castro areas where doing bike + Muni Metro might make sense.

    In addition, there can be other strategies to combat crowding, much as BART has done historically (and even now) with its rules to address bikes aboard during crowded situations.

  18.  

    Gezellig

    Yup.

    Another one is from Balboa Park Station towards the City College area. I live on a huge hill not far from both 29 and M stops. Sometimes it’s the end of the day, I’m tired and don’t particularly relish riding up the hills from Balboa Park Station and of course I’ve just missed the inbound 29 (and NextMuni says the next one will be in *42 minutes or whatever) but the next inbound M is about to leave. Can’t take it though cuz bike.

  19.  

    Gezellig

    The Siemens cars in Amsterdam are indeed a smooth ride! However, one thing they share with SF’s lightrail is they’re not a very fast way of getting around:

    http://www.volkskrant.nl/vk/nl/2686/Binnenland/article/detail/3079940/2011/12/16/Tramroutes-Amsterdam-hopeloos-ouderwets.dhtml

    Headline translated: “Tram Routes Amsterdam Hopelessly Old-Fashioned”

    According to that report the average tram speed in Amsterdam is 12kmh/7mph. This is even slower than Muni Metro’s current 13-15kmh/8-9mph average.

    In my experience living there it’s far faster to bike in the city. For example, I lived near the zoo in central Amsterdam and to visit my friend on the western edge of the city only about 7km/4m away it required a 45-minute tram ride involving transfers (traMsfers?). Biking was 25 minutes. You can bet on which mode I normally chose.

    You’re right about the high ticket costs but via tax-free employer programs a lot of employees there (such as myself when I was living there) get a smartcard that allows free transit through any transit zones necessary for their specific commute and significant discounts (40% off) for all other transit travel through other zones in the country for any transit mode (at any time, not just for work hours/days). This effectively means everyday transit costs are nonexistent or low for many people but many still choose to bike, as I did, because it’s simply often much faster and they have the infrastructure to support and encourage fast and easy biking.

    I think that the speed problem is definitely something SF shares–as excited as I am for the new Muni Metro cars it’ll still often be faster to just bike and as bike-specific infra improves more people in more situations are increasingly realizing that. The more this happens this is of course a cost-effective way for clearing up space for those who do choose to ride Muni Metro.

  20.  

    voltairesmistress

    Thank you for the thoughtful reply, Jdx. The linked articles are very interesting too.

  21.  

    Bruce

    Polk really needs yellow soft-hit posts on the double-yellow line in front of City Hall to prevent drivers from “Behaving Badly.” The very first week those new lanes on Polk were installed I sent pictures to the SFBC as evidence that they needed to push for them with the SFMTA.

  22.  

    Kevin J

    Another story said the the train are highly modular making for a lot of options the public will get to weigh in on.

    I hope the red one’s an option. They used Muni’s current colors in way I find way more attractive.

  23.  

    shamelessly

    Love it!

  24.  

    roymeo

    Needs a decision point on bike stolen, if No, probably a switch on whether or not you are killed by a car, if No: “Arrive 10 minutes early, sweaty.”

  25.  

    Richard Mlynarik

    1999 Proposition H “Ordinance Providing for the Extension of Caltrain to a Downtown Station”

    A world-class tragedy that the implementation of the policy by America’s Finest Transportation Planning Professionals is to piss away $4 billion public dollars for a worse than useless edifice that can never function as a remotely efficient train station. But the policy was sound, and had a part in effecting a turn around in city policy.

    I’m not totally naïve. The real reason policy changes is that somebody delivers a larger bag of unmarked hundreds to Willie Brown than the people who’d been who’d been doing so earlier. But it didn’t hurt.

  26.  

    C Monroe

    He is the Napster scumbag that helped Mark and his four co-founders find financing. He was played by Justin Timberlake in the movie.

  27.  

    C Monroe

    I like that guy though, not Parker.

  28.  

    Michael Cabanatuan

    Actually, AnsaldoBreda was invited to bid on the new cars but did not. Without explanation.

  29.  

    murphstahoe

    22nd and Church to Dolores Park?

  30.  

    murphstahoe

    I read some article about Tom Steyer and discovered he was the founder of Farallon. The first thing that came to mind was “Farallon? Isn’t that basically a place that writes investment bonds for Coal plants?”

    So I checked out Steyer’s wikipedia. Yep.

  31.  

    murphstahoe

    It’s just as wrong to stereotype “the rich” as if they all think and act as one as it would be to stereotype “the cyclists”

  32.  

    murphstahoe

    “people no longer trust science, evidence, and statistics. It’s a weird phenomenon, but it is reality”

    This is an easily explained phenomenon. Science in 1900 gives you a device that will cheaply and quickly get you from point A to point B without much physical effort or the pain of caring for a horse. Science is good! Science in 2000 tells you that this device you rely on has some devastating side-effects and you probably should not use it. Science is bad!

  33.  

    Richard Mlynarik

    Have any of the people advocating for bikes on Muni “light” rail vehicles ever visited San Francisco or ridden Muni?

    It’s asking for the the worst of all worlds. Apart from West Portal to Castro, it’s slower to take Muni than to just ride the damned bike pretty much anywhere. Getting bikes on and off high-floor “light” rail is a total disaster. And the trains are pretty much packed at all times, if only because of Muni “schedule adherence”. All that could be accomplished is to get in the way of the poor sardined downtrodden sods on the train who haven’t worked out the bike-is-faster thing.

    There really are about ten thousand better ways to make transportation in SF work better than to seek to hoist bikes up and into Muni trains.

  34.  

    shamelessly

    The Bold Italic chart suffers from windshield perspective. If you’re running late, you skip driving or transit, get on your bike, and you get there early (after almost getting killed by drivers). How hard would that have been to integrate? Instead over half the illustration is taken over by different motor vehicle modes (private car, taxi, and 2 ride-sharing services). And you can’t walk anywhere in SF? Really?

  35.  

    Richard Mlynarik

    The oddest thing about US “transit activist” (often really just “railfans” in disguise, with a big hankering for steam-era everything) is just how much the enjoy wallowing in filth.

    “Yes, mistakes may have been made, but get with the program! We’re making more mistakes, and we’re doing it Our Way, so quit with the Yurpeen this and the Japan that and cost-effective whatever and always remember to vote for more money for Muni.”

    High floor trams were and remain a massive mistake, and one that was almost trivial to fix in the 1990s (exactly the same quality of America’s Finest Transportation Planning Professional were staffing Muni and leeching at Booz-Allen as are running the joint today FYI) and one that remains a mistake which could be rectified in a straightforward enough way today.

    The costs are minor. The transition period could be simple, especially being concurrent with progressive total fleet replacement. The long-term benefits are immense, measured in the hundreds of millions.

    But let’s just keep shooting ourselves in the head, forever, because NEW AND SHINY. Don’t question! Obey!

    After all, changing “light” rail vendors will surely turn everything around at Muni. Next stop: Central Subway!

    Also WTF with the stupid little stumpy two-part cars? Nobody operating a real urban system wastes so much cash and so much platform space and so much interior space and so much maintenance cost on so many control cabs and couplers. It’s like Muni thinks it is San Jose in 1985 or Berlin in 1885 or something. Sure, order a mixed fleet with some shorties in the mix for the J, but there’s no way that itsy dumb little wasteful 23m long toonerville trolleys should be the mainstay of any real city’s urban rail fleet.

    Long, articulated, low-floor. Everybody’s doing it. Everybody with a clue.

    Muni. Putting yesterday in the future, today.

  36.  

    JJ94117

    from the MIssion Bay article: “It’s simply naïve to expect that these very same companies that have been fragrantly violating our law for years will not continue to demonstrate the same rogue behavior once this project begins,” Shortt said.

    “Fragrantly”?

  37.  

    Karen Lynn Allen

    Siemens produces the tram light rail cars used in Amsterdam. When I rode on one there two years ago, it was so silent and smooth I was actually indignant that we still ride on such noisy, clunky, badly-engineered $#@! when such technology was available. (It was also incredibly clean and spotlessly maintained.) I’m not surprised that the reliability and maintenance costs of the Siemens products are also much better than Breda. However the quality of our tracks will also partially determine noise, smoothness, reliability and maintenance costs over time.

    I will point out that the Dutch charge far more for rides on their trams and metro system than we do. A basic hour pass is the equivalent of $3.60, and the monthly passes are $116 regular and $77 for children and seniors. The farebox recovery ratio for the Amsterdam system is 41% whereas for SF Muni it is 22-25%. This may partially explain why the quality of Amsterdam public transit is higher than ours, (and also why biking is more popular than taking transit in Amsterdam.)

  38.  

    Alex

  39.  

    Alex

    Major improvement for Muni. These trains look modern and I enjoy the use of LED for the headlights giving them the flexibility to come up with some cool designs. I hope they add floor to ceiling poles by the entrances and digital screens(If you don’t know what i’m talking about go to pg 58 http://s3.documentcloud.org/documents/786015/s200-design-book.pdf). I think it will be interesting seeing Breda and Siemens cars coupled up together and I can’t wait to see four car trains in the subway. Even though I know they won’t I hope the choose both the designs illustrated in this post, those are my favorite, but I really like the red one. I can’t wait to see the Bay Area in a decade with Caltrain, Bart, and Muni having changed their fleet with more modern European like trains.

  40.  

    Justin

    Does that include that “restore transportation balance” ballot measure as well??

  41.  

    Mario Tanev

    I often see the argument that SFMTA should enforce time limits, instead of enforcing meters. If that’s what SFMTA did, however, a larger percentage of its revenues would come from fines than from up-front revenue. This is contrary to what the entire city agrees should happen – make a legible system where most revenue comes from up-front fees. If revenue is shown to be 90% from fines, imagine the outrage then. Plus, consider that the Sunday church protesters were also protesting enforcement of double parking. To them, ANY enforcement, for any reason would be a reason to protest. Put this fallacy to bed.

  42.  

    Chris

    In the UK both the Manchester and Birmingham designs by Ansaldo Breda are being retired earlier than anticipated, the latter in particular have a terrible reputation for reliability. You get what you pay for at the end of the day.

  43.  

    BBnet3000

    Right, nobody should consider convenience and comfort for the passengers or speed of boarding and alighting, as well as handicapped accessibility.

    They’re just something “transit nerds” care about, as opposed to control software and operating procedures, which are things regular people think about. /s

  44.  

    vcs

    I’m tired of this transit nerd obsession with low floors.

    Muni Metro is fundamentally screwy in both design and operation. We could spend billions on real service improvements — and by that I mean new ROWs and subway extensions and more trains and turnarounds — before low floors would even make a noticeable difference.

    The trains are crap, the rails are crap, the control software is crap, the operations are crap. But apparently a lot of people think “low floors” is what will solve our ills.

  45.  

    vcs

    The bus routes will continue on their current lines once they leave the BRT corridor. So, no expensive incompatible busses required (thankfully).

  46.  

    coolbabybookworm

    I saw signature gatherers at Safeway in the Richmond, which is hilarious because it was asking people to “restore balance” in a sea of free Safeway parking, surrounded by streets that aren’t even RPP for several blocks. I guess they still need more parking by building a parking garage in the avenues? The one under the museums isn’t enough I guess…

  47.  

    Yaro

    Wow. What an asshat.
    I guess he thinks this is his way of “giving back to the community”. It’s for the people, right?

  48.  

    anonymouse

    LA got Breda LRVs that ended up overweight and underperforming, though I don’t know that they have a terrible MDBF. They decided to cancel the contract after the initial 50 (they had options for 100 more) and go with a different manufacturer, even though that ended up resulting in a temporary shortage of cars for the new lines they’re opening next year. LA also has Breda subway trains, and while they’re not terrible, I definitely have seen them break down more than once.

    Boston has Breda LRVs that ended up having brake problems and also derailing on switches and curve. It took nearly a decade from first delivery until they were all working properly, and even then, the MBTA ended up not taking delivery of the full order. I don’t know how they’re doing now reliability-wise, but I think they’re also headed for an early replacement in a few years.

  49.  

    Yaro

    No kidding. Also, since free parking is being paid for from the tax money he will be paying the most for it.

  50.  

    Aron

    The Stadler DMU is designed as a heavy rail(european terminology) train. The Siemens train are specifically light rail. So standard features and options differ.