Muni Meltdown 2018 – Planning for Failure

With excerpts from Joe Eskenazi’s August 7, 2018 Article in Mission Local

“Muni (i.e. the SFMTA) is finding creative new ways to blow up the system.  Documents obtained by Mission Local reveal that shunting buses off their runs to serve as shuttles during the Twin Peaks tunnel closure has resulted in service cuts of up to 33 percent on San Francisco’s most crowded lines.  In the age of social media, riding on public transit isn’t what brings us together anymore in San Francisco.  Rather, it’s complaining about riding on public transit that unites us.”

“The current defacto cutbacks dwarf the 10 percent reductions that former Muni boss Nat Ford imposed nearly a decade ago. That was a scandal and an admission of failure but at least he told us what he was doing.  The recent Muni cuts have come in stealth!”

“And that’s just Issue No. 1: even within City Hall, the scheduled two-month closure of the Twin Peaks Tunnel, one of Muni’s major transit arteries, came as an unpleasant surprise.” For many Muni riders this major disruption, coming on top of many other transportation problems throughout the city, came as a unexpected, undeserved and unmitigated shock.

Muni didn’t used to attract only transit-dependent people with no other ways of getting around.  However the time when Muni was universally regarded as a service for everyone has passed. Thanks to overcrowding, frequent lapses in service, lax enforcement of bad on-car behavior, and slower and more obstructed transit travel, many erstwhile and would-be Muni riders are abandoning the system.  Instead they are resorting to driving their own cars or calling for commuter-dispatched Lyfts or Ubers (i.e., TNC’s).  Needless to add, the aggressive takeover of San Francisco streets by the venture capital-subsidized TNC’s (Transportation Network Companies) has further clogged the streets and further impeded Muni.

“Twenty years ago, Mayor Frank Jordan was accused of allowing Muni to deteriorate prior to an attempted privatization move but nothing happened and the Muni remained intact.  In 2018, all it takes to summon Lyft or Uber is a quick call on a smart phone”

“The city has never needed Muni more, but the system has never made itself less available and less palatable. Our calls to Mayor London Breed and her office have not yet been returned. But our City Hall sources tell us she’s angry — as she should be. Her appointee, District 5 Supervisor Vallie Brown, has called for an investigation. It remains to be seen what that investigation will turn up and what our new mayor will do.  But let’s hope she moves quickly to restructure the SFMTA as necessary to regain municipal control over one of San Francisco’s most vital public functions. She owes the SFMTA nothing but does owe the public an efficient transportation system that works. She needs to fire the planners and overhaul the SFMTA from the top down as required to fix the system and rebuild pubic trust in the system.”

“It is high time to give voters a chance to decide on how we want to live. Let’s hope our mayor and the Board of Supervisors put something corrective on the ballot soon.”  We are fed up with watching San Francisco’s transportation system decline while repeatedly being asked to cough up more tax funds to underwrite expensive and often ill-conceived and poorly managed pet projects of small consequence.

Bay Area Rail – Status Report

 

Background:

OldRailBy the late 1960’s the Bay Area’s interurban passenger rail systems were mostly gone. Since then travelers, encouraged by the State State of California’s long standing practice of widening and expanding its freeways to temporarily ward off gridlock, have turned increasingly to automobiles to get around: to the point where things got completely out of hand. Caltrans’ myopic struggle to build its way out of traffic congestion failed.

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Central Subway Problems Persist

A SF Examiner Op-Ed, January 19, 2018 by Gerald Cauthen. 

Have you ever wondered how the Central Subway project, a 1.7-mile rail extension of Muni’s Third Street line from Fourth and King to Chinatown, managed to get so bollixed up? Here’s a brief history of what happened:

china

At the end of 2017, it was announced the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency’s Central Subway manager, John Funghi, was leaving his post for the $1.6 billion project to work on Caltrain electrification. His departure came shortly after Tutor-Perini, the station contractor, released a report Nov. 1, 2017, showing that the project is more than two years behind schedule and burdened with more than 1,300 construction contractor claims outstanding — only 73 of which had at that time been addressed by the SFMTA — leaving the remaining 94 percent awaiting “processing.”

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Another BART Success Story

BATWG, an independent group of volunteers, is often critical of Bay Area transportation policies and practices. However once in a while a project comes along that engenders respect. BART’s new Diesel Multiple Unit (DMU) line running between the Pittsburgh Bay Point BART terminal and Antioch is such a project. The new line began carrying paying customers on May 26, 2018. By all accounts it is proving to be an outstanding success.

DMU1Most impressively, the 10-mile extension including vehicles was completed at a per mile cost of less than one sixth the estimated cost of building the much ballyhooed all-BART extension to Livermore.

The DMU project is notable for several reasons:  Continue reading