Thursday, February 25, 2010

SFMTA Doomsday

Well, tomorrow's the big day. The SFMTA Board of Directors is scheduled to vote on the package of service cuts and fare hikes that the MTA staff recommended in late January. According to the agenda, the directors will vote on whether to:
  • Require the Premium Fast Pass to ride express buses and cable cars
  • Reduce service by 10% across the board by by reducing the frequency of buses along some lines as well as shortening operating hours
  • Raise the fares for seniors, disabled and youth passes to $30/month, triple what it was just 6 months
Streetsblog is reporting that the third item above, the price increase for Senior/Disabled/Youth Fast Passes is off the table, but it will still be formally considered by the Board tomorrow.

And even without this latest fare increase, the cost of those Fast Passes will still go up by $5.00 in May as part of the last round of fare hikes (remember those? The ones that brought the Adult pass to $55.00 last July followed by the $60-M/$70-A pass split just under two months ago?) And all of this is to bridge a $16.9 million budget gap predicted between now and June 30th. On July 1st the new fiscal year will begin with an estimated $100 million hole. Make no mistake about it, what happens tomorrow is the tip of a very large iceberg.

For anyone who enjoys the mobility that Muni provides, or who cares about public transit or the state of government, this is really freaking depressing. And the insistence of the MTA Board to make up the budget deficit almost entirely on the backs of Muni riders is absolutely infuriating. The Board is obligated under the City Charter (SF's Constitution and the very same piece of paper that gives the mayor his executive power - in other words a seriously binding document) to diligently seek out new revenue sources for Muni. They have refused to do that because the Board members are appointed by the mayor and so feel they ought to carry his water.

Friday, February 19, 2010

More! Free! Parking!

Downtown Houston in the late 1980s, via The Overhead Wire

Many cities in America did it for office buildings in the '70s and '80s. If San Francisco does it, it will certainly be for condo parking.

Recent moves by the BOS to curb (to cut? to cut curb cuts?) the incessant expansion of parking in this city are certainly to be commended, but are we moving quickly and decisively enough?

OAC 2010, Port-mortem

Radio station KALW has an excellent summary of what went down between the FTA and BART in the last few months of the Oakland Airport Connectors all-too-long life.

Got questions about the project? Then read and listen to the piece above, as well as Transbay Blog's thorough writeup on this 'blingfrastructure' project.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Preview of Castro Plaza 1.0

Curbed has a sneak preview of the permanent design for the plaza at Market, Castro and 17th Streets, "subject, of course, to further modification and budgetary limitations."

My first reaction: maybe it's the drawing but it seems a little too fortressy. Dialing back some of those planters would give pedestrians more freedom to mill about in any direction. And with the entire space dedicated to pedestrians, it seems odd to me that we would still be funneled diagonally along the old crosswalk.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Only Economical, Practical Solution of Traffic Problem in San Francisco

Just in from Eric Fischer's photostream, This is the best picture I've seen of the 1937 rapid transit plan for San francisco.

Gotta love that H-line :-)

Friday, February 12, 2010

$70 Million of Federal Money Redirected from OAC to Struggling Transit Agencies

Word just in from Transform that the FTA has rejected BART's plan to bring its Oakland Airport Connector project into compliance with Title VI of the Civil Rights Act. From the FTA's letter to BART and the MTC:
Since my letter of January 15th, FTA staff and BART have worked diligently but unsuccessfully on the development of a corrective action plan that might be acceptable. I am required to now inform you that your plan is rejected.
This means that the $70 million of Federal stimulus funds will instead be distributed to regional transit agencies. Muni's chunk: $17.5 million rebuild the trucks on its light rail vehicles and add ADA-compliant voice announcements to those LRVs.

In unrelated(?) news, Rachel Gordon reports in today's Chronicle Comical that the SFMTA Board of Directors has postponed their upcoming meeting to discuss the doomsday fare hikes/service cuts. The meeting, which was to be held this coming Tuesday, will now take place two weeks from today at 9am, Friday, February 26th in Room 400 of City Hall.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Pedestrian Spaces to Become Permanent

Two pedestrian plazas on opposite sides of the country - both of which opened last year as temporary spaces - have taken steps toward permanency recently.

Yesterday Curbed reported via the Castro Courier that the plaza at 17th, Castro, and Market Streets will likely become permanent after a vote by the SFMTA and BOS in May or June. This plaza has been wildly successful since day one, despite being cobbled together from some of the cheapest salvaged and donated materials. The plaza tames what was once a dangerous intersection for pedestrians, but its temporary materials are looking less and less civic after this season's rains.

And from New York we have word that the seven sections of Broadway at Times Square that were closed to provide pedestrian refuges and calm traffic on a trial basis have now officially been deemed a success. "The new Broadway is here to stay," said NYC DOT Commissioner Janette Sadik-Khan. And apparently work will soon begin on designing a more beautiful plaza to replace the temporary materials used at the crossroads of the world.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

A Good Day For Alleys

There's a couple pieces of good news in between all the bitchy comments over at Curbed!

The first concerns a parking lot at 17th and Folsom, behind the old Joseph Schmidt chocolate factory (thanks, HersheyCo!). This expanse of asphalt has, according to Curbed, apparently been planned for a park for some time.

Speak Out Against SFMTA Doomsday Cuts

Tonight at pm the SFMTA will be holding the second of two town hall meetings to discuss its proposed service cuts and fare hikes. The meeting will be held in the second floor atrium at One South Van Ness and will run from 6-8pm.

Please attend if you can to show support for your fellow Muni riders and let the MTA know we're watching to see if they will execute their Charter-mandated task of diligently seeking new revenue sources for Muni.

Also, if you haven't already, please use this nifty form the SF Bicycle Coalition put together to let the mayor and MTA Directors know how you feel.