The following is a summary of the sixteenth meeting of the SFTEP Citizen Advisory Committee (CAC) for the Transit Effectiveness Project (TEP). The meeting included a project update, a check-in with the CAC members about their priorities for the TEP, and a presentation on the updated draft service development framework. The meeting concluded with time for public comment and the confirmation of the next meeting.

 

PARTICIPANTS

CAC Members/Alternates

Public/Other

Project Team

·         Joan Downey, SFMTA Citizen Advisory Committee

·         Bert Hill, Bicycle Advisory Committee

·         Daniel Murphy, SFMTA CAC

·         Gary Noguera, CSFN

·         David Pilpel, Sierra Club

·         Tom Radulovich, Livable City

·         Norman Rolfe, SF Tomorrow

·         Dave Snyder, SPUR

·         Heather World, Parents for Public Schools

·         Marc Salomon, Coalition for Transit Justice

·         Howard Strassner, Pedestrian Safety Advisory Committee

 Eric P. Scott

SFMTA

Julie Kirschbaum

Peter Straus

 

Controllers Office

Sally Allen

 

Consultant Team

Laura McVittie Gray

 

I. PROJECT UPDATE

Bus and rail data is now available on the TEP and SFMTA web pages at www.sfmta.com/tepdata.  By the end of the fiscal year the agency hopes to collect new baseline data.  Ridership counts were down during May and June last year. 

 

Through the TEP, the SFMTA is testing a double deck bus to determine how well it performs on busy San Francisco bus routes and how it is perceived by riders.  More information at http://www.sfmta.com/cms/malerts/SFMTAandTEPtestingdouble-deckerbuses.htm.

 

 The TEP is planning to pilot all-door boarding in late winter/early spring.  We are hiring additional fare inspectors, and currently working to procure consultant assistance to help with data collection and public outreach. More details at a future meeting.

 

The TEP draft recommendations will be available in February. At this point, the team anticipates sharing preliminary ideas in January; sharing the full set of draft recommendations in February; hosting public workshops in late February; and wrapping up the CAC in March. Following March, there will be a continued information campaign about the recommendations, and the environmental review process will begin.

 

C: It would be good if we could get the recommendations in advance of the February meeting.

 

C: Separate out those recommendations that are for the entire network and those that are route specific.

 

C: Will the SFMTA Board vote on a tentative project to send off to environmental review?  R: We will ask the Board to give their informal blessing to the framework first.  They cannot vote to approve the full set of recommendations until the environmental review is completed.

 

 

II. CAC MEMBER CHECK-IN

Julie invited CAC members to reflect and share comments about the direction of the project and keys for success. Below are the responses, paraphrased and grouped by common themes.

 

Positive reflections

  • The work is awesome and I am hopeful.
  • I am impressed by how much we learned about the system so far.

 

Funding

  • Interested in capital side and implementation over time.
  • You need both a capital budget and a planning budget. The TEP needs to compete for funding.

 

Building support

  • Build a constituency for change with a commitment from elected officials to deal with challenges.
  • Convince downtown people and the media that transit is more important than private cars.
  • Advertise existing improvements such as NextMuni on cell phones/ PDAs.
  • Add something that speeds up the system and quantify it for riders.
  • Pitch the whole system improvement as a package to get the message across.

 

Concerns

  • We don’t need more policies.
  • Doubts about SFMTA’s capacity to implement the TEP at same time as Geary BRT and Central Subway.

 

Recommendations

  • Provide concrete examples of route and stop changes.
  • Create benchmarks as things are rolled out and set expectations.
  • Include more about bikes.
  • Address customer wayfinding and accessibility.
  • Use what we now know about the system to implement continuous changes.

 

 

III. UPDATED DRAFT SERVICE DEVELOPMENT FRAMEWORK

Julie gave a presentation to address policy questions and the updated draft service development framework. In February, the Muni Revenue Panel will be making recommendations in three broad areas: (1) operational efficiencies; (2) user fee-based options; and (3) other City revenue sources. We will share more details as the panel makes progress.

 

C: Think about including bicycles and taxis as a compliment to help achieve the goal that to serve within ¼ mile.

 

Prioritizing Transit

C: Feds, State, MTC are encouraging the city to reducing driving.

 

C: Convince the business community that transit is good for them. In London, congestion pricing helped business.

 

SFMTA Charter

C: The charter states the SFMTA will prioritize bikes, pedestrian, and transit. Is SFMTA fully committed?

 

C: SFMTA staff should submit proposals for pedestrian safety standards, and the plan for the great Muni system. The charter gives the SFMTA a lot of direction of what they should plan. Then the advocates can be more effective.

 

C: With Prop 218 there is no penalty for not doing the charter. We need enforcement through politicians or new laws. In SFMTA, executives get raises without improved service.

 

C: With Prop A and H, the voters have made this commitment. Make it clear when you pitch to voters that this is what they get.  We need to be bold.

 

Increasing Costs with Increasing Ridership

C: Unlike rail, with Muni the costs are greater for more riders. There are tradeoffs. As more people ride you have more political power.

 

C: New York gets an economic multiplier by transit. What is it in SF?

Drivers and Lines

The group discussed the changes in bus assignments that occur when drivers are sick or missing. Extra board was defined as drivers who fill in for missing drivers and assignments are often based on seniority. CAC members agreed that the system must increase the number of drivers such that a sick driver on a local network doesn’t pull a driver needed in a rapid corridor.

 

C: Can you run a limited on a side street?

 

C: When a driver is sick, who fill in?  R: Calling in sick is predictable. We have to fill the operator position to do that. Our front line positions are not impacted by the hiring freeze.

 

Network types

Rapid networks will be 15-20% faster than local routes and will get more attention with improved stations, higher capacity vehicles, and bike parking.

 

C: Connections between local and rapid networks are vital.

 

C: Rapid and frequent mean different things.

 

C: Having the local faster may be the tipping point for drivers.

 

C: Have you considered pedestrian signaling?  R: It works were distances are short and that mode is infrequent. The signal controllers would need to control that. The new controllers might.

 

Stop Spacing

Julie explained that the current standard for stop spacing is 800 to 1,000 ft and depends on gradient, however the average stop spacing is below that range. The committee discussed if it makes sense to go up to ¼ mile and to have different standards for local and rapid service. The members were split in their opinions. This discussion will be continued once the TEP’s bus stop analysis is complete.

 

C: The costs of stops are greater when the bus is going faster.

 

C: Stop at even numbered streets in the Mission. That would be 1120 feet.

 

C: Spacing is OK. We shouldn’t be afraid of longer walking. It’s healthier.

 

C: Without a serious look at stop spacing you won’t have rapid service. Tell everyone that this is what you need to get rapid service.

 

C: Expand the window of 800-1200. You can create a new standard for the rapid network.

 

C: Long walks are difficult for those with health issues. In spacing farther apart you need to factor in people stampeding the buses. 

 

C: Have flexibility.  Some people don’t want to walk any farther.

 

C: Currently service rail is run like bus. We need to have a standard and meet it. If not, the stops will increase, slowing down tens of thousands of people a day.

 

C: Fix the area around the Forest Hill Station, Teresita and Portola.

 

C: Build affordable housing near transit. R: This is addressed by the Better Streets Plan.

 

C: What about a corridor with only one service type.

 

C: This can be opportunistic. Passenger education, post car cards about spacing.

 

C: Change stops so they are in front of hospitals. Think of other criteria. Criteria could be no neighborhood is more than 20 feet from downtown.  R: We will provide a map that will show where you can get in 10, 20, 30 minutes.

 

 

IV. PUBLIC COMMENT

 

There was only one comment from the public.

 

C: I see 800 feet is 1/6 of a mile. If you have stops every 2 blocks in Mission you never have to go more than one block.

 

 

V. UPCOMING MEETINGS

 

The next CAC meeting will be January 10, 2008 from 5-7pm at One South Van Ness, 3rd floor.