TAOSF Examines San Francisco’s Basic Transportation Problems

ABOUT TAOSF 

The Transportation Alliance of San Francisco (TAOSF) was  founded on  April  8, 2017.  The group is committed to the idea that to bring about needed transportation improvements it will be necessary to make fundamental changes in the way traffic congestion is handled in San Francisco and in how public transit services are dispensed in San Francisco.  There have been some improvements in some areas but much more needs to be done and the taxpayers and transit riding public of San Francisco deserve better than they’re currently receiving.

The TAOSF program (below) is reflective of much deliberation as well as feedback from numerous groups, Muni riders and other interested San Franciscans.  It was put together during the Summer and early Fall of 2017 and since updated several times.  It is worthy of serious consideration.   

TAOSF STATEMENT

1.)  SAN FRANCISCO’S PATH TO LESS CONGESTION

San Francisco is growing, both in population and in employment.  Partly for this reason, Muni  and other public transit vehicles increasingly bog down in traffic and are now moving through the city more slowly than they were 40 years ago.   This both raises transit costs and reduces transit ridership.  How did a wealthy, progressive, environmentalist, and tech-savvy city get so overrun by cars, and what can be done about the problem?

Things need to get better and the pace of improvement needs to pick up. To date the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency (SFMTA) and San Francisco County Transportation Authority (SFCTA) have failed to control traffic congestion, failed to bring down greenhouse gas emissions, failed to dispense the City’s public transit services equitably and failed to conform to the City’s 44-year old Transit First  Policy.  Muni is still not reliable enough, comfortable enough and convenient enough to do the job it must do for San Francisco.   So long as the as the City’s transportation architecture remains chaotic and driven by outside forces, these problems will only get worse as San Francisco’s population edges toward 1,000,000.   San Francisco’s new Mayor and its elected politicians should act in the best interest of all San Franciscans by tackling this problem head-on in a thoughtful and determined manner.

2.)  TRANSIT OPERATIONS

  • Transit First: Adhere to and consistently enforce the City’s Transit First policy
  • Convenience and Comfort: Improve the convenience of transit travel and the interior comfort of transit vehicles.  Make non-automotive transportation more accessible for the elderly and disabled and more appealing for all riders.  Make the street changes needed to reduce public transit trip times and improve public transit reliability.  Insist that Muni and the other transit services operating in San Francisco fairly serve the needs of all elements of the population, regardless of political influence or income level.
  • Transit Network Companies (TNC’s): Regulate Uber, Lyft and other TNC’s through licensing, fees, user charges and other means as necessary to control congestion and ensure consistently reliable public transit service. Enforce these regulations.  (As things stand Uber, Lyft and other private services are permitted to operate virtually unregulated on San Francisco streets)
  • Employer-sponsored Van Pools and Bus Systems: Redouble efforts to encourage employers to sponsor vanpools.  Support employer-sponsored buses, but take steps to prevent them from impeding Muni operations and operating on neighborhood streets unsuitable for large vehicles.  Strictly enforce the rules governing the operations and practices of the hi-tech and other privately-operated buses.  (Sporadic and often lax SFMTA enforcement has often led to both interference with Muni service and disruptive incursions into neighborhoods).

 3.)  TRANSPORTATION CAPITAL PROJECTS

  • Muni Metro Subway:  Double the peak-period carrying capacity of the Muni Metro subway operation.  At the present time, Muni Metro level of the Market Street Subway is grossly underutilized.
  • Project Priorities:  Give priority to and fund capital improvement projects that reduce traffic congestion and improve the MUNI or other transit services operating in San Francisco.  (At present there are many ongoing SFMTA, SFCTA and Mayor’s office transportation projects with no potential to either reduce congestion or improve transit, whose only purpose seems to be to keep developers happy and planners busy).
  • Independent Overview:  At an early stage in the projects, use independent outside experts to help ensure that only projects that cost-effectively reduce congestion and/or improve transit move forward.  Publicize the results of these reviews. (In recent years, the SFMTA has squandered tax-payer dollars on ill-conceived, over-priced and/or badly-executed projects with exorbitant cost overruns and unnecessary delays).

4.)  REGIONAL TRANSIT

  • Extend Caltrain: In order to give north-south travelers a good non-automative way of accessing San Francisco, give top priority to the Downtown Extension of Caltrain (DTX).  This would conform to City policy as established by the San Francisco voters in November 2, 1999 when they overwhelmingly adopted SF Prop H.
  • Upgrade AC Transit’s Transbay Bus Service: In order to limit the number of cars entering San Francisco from the east, put a high priority on working with AC Transit and MTC to improve AC’s transbay bus operation.  (AC Transit’s transbay ridership is currently a dismally low 14,000 riders a day.  It should be at least five times that many)
  • Finding other ways of Accessing San Francisco: To reduce the need to drive into San Francisco, place the buses accessing San Francisco in transit-only lanes where and as necessary.  Configure regional routes, schedules and points of transfer to better serve regional and local riders.  To ease gridlock and improve transit service, charge motorists to use highways and arterials that remain excessively-congested.

5.)  GOVERNANCE AND ORGANIZATION

  • Conform to Voter-Approved Ballot Measures: (At present, ballot initiatives mandating particular transit improvements are often consigned to policy limbo or altered to facilitate the desires and objectives of developers, government officials and other connected individuals)
  • Streamline the Transportation Agencies: Review the functions and responsibilities of the SFMTA, SFCTA, City Planning Department and Mayor’s office to ensure that there is no duplication of effort.  Ensure that all transportation-related activities are coordinated and tightly managed.
  • SFMTA Structure: Change the management element of the SFMTA as necessary to give public transit and particularly Muni the high priority it deserves.  Clarify SFMTA management responsibilities and ensure accountability at all levels.  Provide management training where and as necessary.
  • Outside Management Audit: Subject the SFMTA to a comprehensive and completely independent management audit once every two years.  Publicize the results and make necessary changes.
  • SFMTA Board: Having the entire Board selected by the Mayor’s office has not worked well.  Elected officials should find a way of picking candidates for the SFMTA Board who possess the qualifications, experience, energy and commitment needed to understand and properly oversee a large and complex transportation organization.  This standard should be applied to each of the seven Board positions as they come up for renewal.  If this is not possible, then a new way of selecting Board members should be adopted.  Alternative ways of populating the SFMTA Board:     

               – Voters elect 4 members, Mayor appoints 1, Supervisors 2

               –  Voters elect 3 members, Mayor appoints 1, Supervisors 2, City Controller 1

               –  Voters elect 2 members, Mayor appoints 2, Supervisors 2, Controller 1

  • SF County Transportation Authority (SFCTA): Shift the SFCTA’s project planning, design and management functions to the SFMTA.  (Sales tax oversight and State-mandated functions would remain with the SFCTA)

 6.)  MUNI PERFORMANCE STANDARDS

  • On-Time Performance:  On November 2, 1999, 61% of the SF voters approved SF Prop E. Prop E specified that Muni vehicles be “on-time” at least 85% of the time.  The SFMTA  has never come close to meeting that standard.  By 2020, Muni vehicles should be consistently meeting the on-time performance standard established in Prop E.
  • Average 24-hour speed: Today the average 24-hour speed of a Muni vehicle is 8.1 mph, 13% slower than it was 40 years ago.  By 2025 Muni’s average 24-hour speed should consistently at or above 9.5 mph.
  • Muni Trips: By 2025 the number of daily Muni person trips should be at least equal to the total number of daily vehicle trips.
  • Once a quarter, the SFMTA should publicize a concise public report showing how well these standards are being met.

7.)  OUTREACH

  • Public Input: Obtain neighborhood, transit advocacy and civic group input early in the project planning phase.  (At the present time, ill-conceived projects grind relentlessly out of the SFMTA, SFCTA and Mayor’s office and then, under the guise of “outreach”, are presented as faits accompli.  Bonafide public reviews early in the process would almost certainly reduce conceptual errors and otherwise improve SFMTA performance).

TAOSF Contact Information:

EMAIL:  golden6991@gmail.com

Phone:  415  665 2907

Mail:      2626 Wawona Street

              San Francisco, CA 94116