CFAH

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On the agenda for San Francisco’s Land Use and Economic Development Committee this afternoon, a hearing to discuss the City’s plan “to ensure transit service keeps pace with current and future development.”
“In light of significant planned development, population growth, and job growth, as well as Muni’s current lack of sufficient, reliable service capacity,” the Mayor’s Office, Planning Department, Municipal Transportation Agency (MTA), Transportation Authority, Office of Economic and Workforce Development, the Office of the Controller, and the Port of San Francisco will be asked to discuss “what increase in service levels are needed, how the increase will occur, and how it will be paid for on an ongoing basis to accommodate growth projections.”
We’ll let you know what the departments say.
The 43,580 New Units In San Francisco’s Current Housing Pipeline [SocketSite]
Bay Area Plan To Support 2 Million More People Up For Vote [SocketSite]
Closing In On Peak Employment In San Francisco [SocketSite]
The Plan To Make Muni More Convenient, Reliable, And Attractive [SocketSite]

Comments from Plugged-In Readers

  1. Posted by lol

    There should be at least 4 or 5 subway lines crisscrossing SF outside of the current Market Street backbone. They should go from one end of the City to the other, linking residential and business areas. 1 Diagonal from Mission Bay to the Presidio (extension of the central subway?), 2 N/S (one on Van Ness, one on Div/Castro), 2 E/W (Geary, panhandle/Lincoln?). And a circular subway like in London.
    One can always dream. Then again, I love cycling therefore I do not care a bit about the added traffic jams we’re gonna get.

  2. Posted by Can't think of cool name

    They’re only now starting to discuss this topic?

  3. Posted by sf

    They can talk the talk.

  4. Posted by RonMonster

    Maybe the MTA and Sups need another trip to Mexico City to see how it’s done right and in under 3 years.

  5. Posted by muninoise

    While we’re at it, spend some money to put dampers on the explosive air brake release valves

  6. Posted by badlydrawnbear

    Let’s be real, it isn’t the MTA that’s the problem here.
    It’s the SF Residents who fight transit expansion tooth and nail with the usual list of complaints of ‘boondoggle’, waste of resources, or that the simply don’t want ‘those people’ to have access to ‘their’ neighborhood.
    It’s the same group of people who fought the GG Bridge, who fought BART going from SF to SJ down the peninsula, and who are fighting the T line and it’s expansion north and west.

  7. Posted by rabbits

    I’ve always thought that a subway line branching off Market between Civic Center and Van Ness stations, then proceeding west by Alamo Sq then through GG park would be perfect. Stations every 10-12 blocks. Minimal disruption of businesses b/c there are none in the park, leaving 1.5 miles from Market to the Panhandle that would be most impacted during construction. Civic Center could even just be a transfer station so that the trains wouldn’t need to merge with the main line (causing delays). Alas, this should have been done 100 years ago. Too late now for this kind of thinking, for all of the reasons you already know of.

  8. Posted by badlydrawnbear

    Oh and I forget the all time great NIMBY complaint about the ‘manhattanization’ of SF

  9. Posted by General Fund Hits

    SF is just about the only (and maybe still is) city that funds its transit agency from the General Fund. I don’t believe the fare box makes about 24% of budget, but frankly I don’t believe the MTA budget staff’s smoke and mirrors.
    The real story, Salaries and Benefits eat up fully 62% of the budget, that my friends will mean things cannot change without meter maids 10X their production, upping the General Fund “contribution” and then…still problems.

  10. Posted by Invented

    U N D E R G R O U N D
    Let’s get going with real-city infrastructure.

  11. Posted by motomayhem

    take every single bit of transportation funding and funnel it to subways under Geary and Van Ness.
    The rest of the funding (bike lanes, bus lanes, etc)is just bandaids that will make commuting easier for some while increasing congestion for many.
    Many more people would use a subway than the bu system.

  12. Posted by lol

    Yes there’s a massive need for subways.
    If we ever (still dreaming out loud) get a decent subway system, we will still need surface streets for cars, buses and bikes.
    Take a city like NYC. Even with a very dense and efficient subway system, they see the interest of keeping a balance of buses, cars and bikes.
    It’s all about balance. Right now bike usage is exploding, therefore there’s need to develop this, and it’s really cheap. Take away all the investment planned for bike routes and put it into a subway system, you’ll get enough to maybe dig a few yards of tunnel.

  13. Posted by conifer

    2 N/S (one on Van Ness, one on Div/Castro)
    I do not know whether Van Ness will ever have a subway, but it is certain that there will never be a subway under Divisadero north of California Street. The people who live in Pacific Heights and Cow Hollow do not need it and do not want it and will never allow it. They do not much like the Jackson bus, especially west of Divis where it is lightly used and a jitney for six passengers would suffice 90+ percent of the time. It was almost cancelled a few years ago.

  14. Posted by James

    The city missed its chance for a subway down Geary when it dug it up in the 60s for the “boulevard”. That will never happen again. Tunnels are prohibitively expensive, and cut & cover is too disruptive (for the SF approval process). Surface rail is what we’ve got. The best thing is to make it as efficient as possible with rights-of-way and separated lanes. Our city is not London, Paris, Mexico City. It’s small, more like Lyon or Budapest, which rely on trams and modest subway networks.

  15. Posted by Mark

    800,000 is not a small city especially when you factor it in the entire metro region. Stockholm is comparable in size and has a massive subway network used by hundreds of thousands of people every day. So does DC Metro.
    Unlike Manhattan, SF has a mix of density, based on when areas of the city were built. However, this does not mean SF doesn’t deserve a better mass transit system. Geary, 19th Ave and Van Ness are just a couple of corridors that could use subway lines to improve transit.

  16. Posted by Mike

    “A Plan For Muni To Keep Pace With San Francisco?”
    Shouldn’t that have been the plan all along?

  17. Posted by lyqwyd

    Subways are great, and I’d be all for it, but it’s not going to happen for 2 reasons:
    1) They are extremely expensive, about a billion dollars a mile. but more important is reason 2) NIMBYs run this town.
    Even BRT is taking at least a decade longer than it should on Van Ness, and is costing about 5 times what it should (The money we are spending should result in light rail, not bus lanes).
    BRT on Geary has effectively been killed.
    All we ever hear is talk, but nothing is ever implemented. Even the Central Subway and T are pretty pathetic. The CS is woefully inadequate to handle the amount of traffic it should, and the T gets about 10 minutes delay in just trying to get onto king St, not to mention all the other delays for red lights, what happened to the signal prioritization for the T? If the built it, they sure aren’t using it.
    Until the NIMBYs are put in check, SF will never have an effective transit system, much less subways. What few projects that do get built are always way below what their full potential could have been.

  18. Posted by Moto mayhem

    “Take away all the investment planned for bike routes and put it into a subway system, you’ll get enough to maybe dig a few yards of tunnel.”
    I became a multimillionaire by saving every penny for important things that are the most helpful as long term investments.

  19. Posted by lyqwyd

    You became a multi millionaire by saving pennies? Did one of those pennies turn out to be worth millions?

  20. Posted by lol

    ^ you can’t compare private investing with public management. If you did you’d send all the retirees, disabled, children, unemployed to the glue factory. Even better, Soylent Green, so that you’d make a buck along with ditching the “dead weight”.
    A public service’s benefits cannot always be quantified. You have to take into account social and moral contracts.
    And to finish with Moto mayhem’s post, I too did very decently on some investments a while ago. No need to brag about being “multi-millionaire”, this just shows crass. Yes I pinched pennies and if I hadn’t the outcome would have been very different. But the biggest return came from taking chances and right-timing.
    If you want to see what divesting from public investment, look no further than France’s secondary railroad system. They heard the calls from the Germans and the British for “necessary reforms” which led to underinvestment in safety. The result is a higher risk on French railroads, like the train crash from a few days ago. That’s literally a big Bang for a few pennies pinched.

  21. Posted by anon

    Everybody agrees we need subways. I think we also need to agree on one more thing:
    We want a fast, efficient, high-capacity, separate right-of-way system like Bart.
    NOT a slow, heavy, crowded, limited-to-two-cars, mixed right-of-way system like the current Muni trolley lines.
    Try riding that slower-than-walking T line and then tell me it would be good to replace the Geary bus with something like that. I didn’t think so.
    I think the best subway addition would be Bart tunneling off from Civic Center, then up Van Ness, turning left to go down Geary, then left again to go down 19th, and then connecting back again at Daly City. That little loop could easily have over 200,000 riders on day one.

  22. Posted by motomayhem

    I wasnt try to be crass. People keep making the stupid point that bike lanes are cheap and this money would only make a small dent in a subway.
    Well, buying a doghouse is also cheap. That doesn’t mean I should I should buy a doghouse instead of saving that money to buy a nice house for my family.
    I could also buy a skateboard instead of taking the $100, saving and investing to buy my Ducati.
    Visionaries think big. The planning commission needs to think long term. All the decisions are made depending on which way the wind blows, and thats how money is diverted from big projects Cyclists will never make up more than a small fraction. If we are going to be a “world class” city, it would be nice to have decent transportation.
    And yes, I did work my way from nothing to having a very comfortable life by saving pennies. Literally pennies, nickels, dimes, quarter and dollars. I dont believe in diverting money to bubble gum and potato chips.

  23. Posted by The Milkshake of Despair

    If you create an environment where some people can ditch their cars and manage by walking, biking, and using our existing substandard transit then you’re also increasing the same demographic that would be riders of an expanded transit system. So in addition to being a cheap way to improve transportation, bike lanes also help people to be car free, increase density, and be ready to adopt improved transit which increases ridership and provides better funding for transit.
    In contrast if you do nothing to improve cycling then you increase the number of people who are car dependent who in turn demand more parking (which decreases density while increasing the driving subsidy, further widening the gap) and less support for transit. That makes it even harder to get good transit.
    This is not an “all or none” proposition. Every person who ditches their car for a bike increases the chance that improved transit will succeed. Heck, just increasing the number of days that a bimodal drive/bike commuter switches to cycling will have an effect.
    Also keep in mind that cycling and transit are complementary, especially considering bikeshare. So the percentage of transit+bike riders who are “enabled” by improved bike infrastructure (i.e. they would use some other method like driving if they didn’t feel comfortable on the bike segment of their commute) is an incremental addition to transit ridership. Bike lanes increase transit ridership.
    These are just a couple of other reasons why raiding bike funds for transit is counterproductive. The most obvious reason is that bike funds are peanuts compared to what is required to build a subway.
    It is foolish to cast bike projects as the scapegoat for inadequate transit. Like I’ve mentioned before if you really want to find the vampire sucking away the life of transit, look towards the covert and overt car subsidies: minimum parking requirements, Level of Service standards that “automatically” trigger expensive roadway buildouts, regional development regulations that encourage sprawl, etc.

  24. Posted by lyqwyd

    @moto
    Cars are subsidized far more than bikes or buses, so taking your suggestion means we should be spending money on bikes and buses instead of cars, as it will save the city money. I fully agree with your position. Think big!
    “Literally pennies, nickels, dimes, quarter and dollars.”
    So not pennies. Thanks for clarifying that your statement was extreme hyperbole. I think we can safely assume the rest of your statements are the same.

  25. Posted by lol

    ^ what MoD said. What many US cities (not SF, thankfully) have today is 100% of one thing (cars) because some geniuses thought “let’s go for the best” and favor individual motorized transport in a pure 1950s mindset. They didn’t know better at the time. We do.
    I recall a dude in my time in Africa who heckled me while on one of my bike rides “You are white and you can’t afford a bike?” There’s no response to such logic.
    motomayhem’s arguments are more bizarre than entertaining. Thinking that bikes to cars are like doghouses to houses? Sure. I rode my bike back to my 2nd pied-a-terre today 😉 Not a doghouse by any measure. Maybe I should have driven instead to maintain the sacrosanct order of the universe, lol.
    I know where he’s coming from. A guy who has succeeded in something and wants to share it, and if sharing how he made his money is bad taste, at least he can give us his wisdom on how society should work, because his success proved things can be soooo simple. One day a guy who will make his fortune in rollmops will lecture us how life should be structured like a rollmops processing plant. A cousin of my wife made a few mils 5 years ago and now he’s into the Bohemian Grove conspiracy 24/7. He made those millions, he must be right…
    Getting rich does not make one wiser in general. But idle brain will make it all mushy. I should know. I emerged from my early retirement at age 39 and decided to go back to work. I was on my way to become a silly old dude like a few of my peers.

  26. Posted by motomayhem

    theres at least 3 people here who are not readers of literature and have no idea how metaphors work. i never compared a doghouse to a bicycle and I never said anything to support cars. My simple point is that ALL monies should be spent on the item that brings the greatest good to all. I did well by focusing my attention on the future (10yrs+ horizon) and not wasting money on little things on the way. Car subsidies are just as bad as bike lanes and other boondoggles taking away from the ability to creatively plan and execute a viable long term vision.
    None of this has to do with getting rich. It has to do with focusing on the big picture, amking hard long term decisions and being persistent

  27. Posted by motomayhem

    “Getting rich does not make one wiser in general.”
    No shit. Look at all those tech workers who did nothing, but became rich on IPOs. Most of them never worked hard and did nothing to earn that money

  28. Posted by lol

    Yes we need subway lines. Sign me up. But wanna quickly absorb 5% or more of ridership increases at almost no expense? Bike lanes. It’s as if you had a penny in your hand and someone gave you an apple for that penny. Plus these darn cyclists are probably millionaires in the making with all the pennies they are saving 😉

  29. Posted by lyqwyd

    “My simple point is that ALL monies should be spent on the item that brings the greatest good to all.”
    So the city should only spend money on one thing and nothing else. OK, thanks for your input. Even if you were right it ain’t gonna happen.

  30. Posted by lol

    “Tech workers who did nothing”.
    Except work 100 hour weeks, sacrificing vacation, holidays, family time, sometimes their health. There are a few lucky loafers but many many more workalcoholics.
    1999 it is not.

  31. Posted by Noblesse Oblige

    Why don’t all you millionaires on this site, who care so much about public transit, use your monies to help the greater good rather than enriching your pieds-a-terre? Otherwise it’s just more hot air, just another comment on a blog. So you have the means and the vision, but sadly, not the inclination.

  32. Posted by lol

    My simple point is that ALL monies should be spent on the item that brings the greatest good to all.
    I didn’t pick up on that. Who’s to define greater good?
    For myself, my own greater good is cycling. Cycling at any age, if you can do it, brings all kinds of benefits. Plus it brings you from Point A to point B for free. I am not going to ask for the city to dedicate 100% of the funds to develop cycling. That would be just silly. I wouldn’t ride a subway very often, but I am all for going full speed ahead.

  33. Posted by James

    “My own greater good” is a nonsense phrase. The GREATER good is greater than the individual. That’s what it means.

  34. Posted by PRE

    Geary obviously needs, and I believe will get, a subway sooner rather than later. The under 30 crowd (that’s not me) that reads this site, that has taken up bikes instead of cars, that has pushed BART and Caltrain ridership into record territory is going to demand it. I’ve been amazed at all the building going on in SF without all of the ususal NIMBY handwringing. That’s not to say that I don’t understand the impetus for some of that NIMBY sentiment – anyone looking at what happened in the Western Addition could see a backlash to modernist cheap faux-Corbusien crap was in order, but times they have a changed. Demand a subway on Geary and it will happen – even at a billion a mile.

  35. Posted by BobN

    One wonders why subways cost so much today than they did a few decades ago.

  36. Posted by Guest666

    @BobN,
    One of the many reasons they are more expensive are the prevailing wage requirements.

  37. Posted by rickrocket

    NYC M.T.A. Ponders Transit for a New Generation
    “They travel at odd hours. They disdain cars. They are “really adept” with technology.”
    http://www.nytimes.com/2013/07/23/nyregion/mta-ponders-transit-for-a-new-generation.html

  38. Posted by lol

    James,
    Everyone has his own definition of what the “greater good” is. For some it’s individual freedom pushed to the extreme for transportation: One person, one car. For others it’s ubiquitous public transit.
    If there was a common definition of the “greater good” we wouldn’t need elections or debates or compromise.
    For instance, Universal Health Care is in my opinion the Greater Good for health care. But so far other people have decided the greater good was a profit-first, access-second medicine. Another example, among the Greater Good is high speed rail everywhere like in all other developed countries (even Morocco is going for it!).
    In short, it’s not a given. There’s not ONE truth. Just what people want, and what they are allowed to ask for.

  39. Posted by egg_cream_of_OCD

    With sea levels **R i S i N g** the flats of SF and so too the trike lanes will all be under feet water in just a few short years according to this same blunder-headed, pious, didactic P.O.S. pronouncement from your local neighborhood planitburo.
    I’m puttin’ MY money on Gondolas, people. You heard it here 1st.

  40. Posted by The Milkshake of Despair

    Gondolas? What kind of third world commie thinking is that? Gondolas are slow, require muscle power, and sometimes you have to share your personal space with other people.
    We need personal yachts. And lots of parking berths for those yachts. And fueling stations. We’ll need to fiddle with the environmental regs too since a little water pollution is inevitable.
    Progress.

  41. Posted by j_blu

    We need subways, and BART is not going to expand in San Francisco. It is a suburban railway; we have to put our money on muni expansion.

  42. Posted by redseca2

    I agree with al of the dreamy route expansion posts, but SFMUNI and MTA are incompetent in managing the sub-optimal system we have now.
    I believe we need to create an entirely separate mass transit system to compete directly with SFMUNI.
    1. No current or former SFMUNI employee will be hired.
    2. Purchasing tickets or monthly passes will be handled by Amazon.com and can be accessed through simple phone App’s.
    3. No current or former SFMUNI employee will be hired.
    4. Routes will be determined through an interactive website.
    5. No current or former SFMUNI employee will be hired.
    6. Buses will be double decker; tender offers for coffee service on board will be reviewed.
    7. No current or former SFMUNI employee will be hired.
    8. Each bus route will sequentially include one free bus for every 4 buses that charge $5.00. If you are willing to be patient, you will ride free; if you are not, we will have bouncers as required. Bur bear in mind the services on the free bus may be restricted and the interior finishes will be idealized for efficient vomit removal.
    9. No current or former SFMUNI employee will be hired.

  43. Posted by anon

    ^I agree with number 7, but have issues with number 3.

  44. Posted by The Milkshake of Despair

    Actually some good ideas in there redseca2. Here’s a tweak to #8:
    When buses become full they become express. Skipped stops are announced so those who plan to go to those skipped stops must get off and wait for the next bus. But they’re compensated for their trouble by a full or partial fare refund.
    … but I don’t think that competition is the answer. We already have enough transit competition/duplication/lack of coordination in bay area transit. Most metro areas with properly working transit systems have unified “one ticket” transit: London, Paris, Chicago, Berlin, Munich, Prague, Ruhrgebiet, Amsterdam, Toronto, etc. Tokyo and NYC are exceptions but I think that their density compensates.

  45. Posted by Mark F.

    How does San Francisco come up with the probable 2 billion dollars a mile for subways?

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