Comparing Cities

On June 24, 2018, the SF Chronicle published San Francisco-based journalist Steven Hill’s thoughtful comparison of certain European cities with San Francisco.

 Transportation: Here’s what Mr. Hill had to say about transportation:

“Public transportation in Berlin: It was such a relief to get away from the crowded Uber congestion of San Francisco streets. Berlin’s public transportation system works so well that I never needed a car. A transit stop is a short walk away, and I could get most places within 30 minutes (often far less). A $70 monthly pass (less than SF’s Clipper card) gave me unlimited use of a combination of underground subways, above ground trains, buses and trams. Decent taxi service and car-sharing services like Car2Go are available for those rare times when you need a car. Consequently, congestion and gridlock are far less of a problem.”

Cities.png“Unfortunately San Francisco’s public transportation is underfunded, inefficient and unpopular, but it doesn’t have to be that way. By letting Uber ridesharing flood the streets instead of investing heavily in public transportation, San Francisco is failing environmentally and reducing overall living standards.”

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The Future of Passenger Rail in the Bay Area

Background: By the late 1960’s the Bay Area’s interurban passenger rail systems were mostly gone. Since then travelers, encouraged by the State of California’s long standing practice of widening and expanding its freeways to temporarily ward off gridlock, have turned increasingly to their private automobiles to get around in the Bay Area: to the point where things are now out of hand. California’s myopic confidence that it could build its way out of traffic congestion failed.

It didn’t take long for urbanites to recognize the damage being done to the Bay Area by an ever growing highway system. In the early 1960’s San Franciscans mounted a mighty campaign that successfully prevented their city from being chopped up by freeways. By the early 1970’s people in the Bay Area were talking about how to bring the Region back into transportation balance. Unfortunately there was no local or regional governmental follow-up. The freeways continued to dominate and, except for BART (more about BART below), the non-automotive alternatives remained in a state of stagnation. Continue reading

Getting DTX underway

Gerald Cauthen. Published in the SF Examiner (6/28/2018)

The Bay Area Transportation Working Group (BATWG) and many San Francisco transit advocacy groups have long supported the Caltrain Downtown Extension project (DTX). DTX will create a high quality north-south alternative to driving into San Francisco. It was defined in November 1999 by 69.9 percent of the voters of San Francisco as the No. 1 transportation capital improvement priority.

DTXTrains Yet for the last 40 months the multi-agency Rail Alignment and Benefits study has unnecessarily delayed and obstructed DTX. And the disruption is continuing. The May 29 RAB release continues to place extra costs and other obstacles in front of DTX. Here are some ways of accelerating the process:
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Why are Bay Area subway and rail costs among the highest in the world?

Article by Andy Bosselman published at Curbed San Francisco

Shortly before the Bay Area appeared on lists of the worst traffic in the world, the region set an ambitious plan to move millions of daily car trips to public transportation by 2040. But local transit agencies pay some of the highest subway and train construction costs in the world, which will limit the impact of $21 billion the nine counties pledged to expand the transit network.

“If your costs are higher you will build less,” says Alon Levy, a mathematician turned transportation expert (and Curbed contributor). His simple cost-per-mile comparisons of subway projects expose the astronomical costs of building urban rail in the United States.

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Central Subway Problems Persist

By Gerald CauthenFriday January 19, 2018, SF Examiner Op-Ed

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:

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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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