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Minutes of April 15, 2010

Members Present:

Les Clark, Elizabeth Dawson (Vice-Chair), Edward Evans, Melvin Galloway, Randal Glock (Chair), Marc Grossman (via phone), Jean Kempf, Miro Kielbus, Jeanne Lynch, Bruce Morgan, Felton Peterson (JLMB), Vernon Smith (via phone), Roland Wong, F. Ross Woodall (Mayor’s Disability Commission)

Members Absent:

Jan Copriviza (excused), David Longa (excused), Paul Fichera, Roger Rose

Accessible Services Staff Present

Jeffrey Banks, Jamie Osborne, Virginia Rathke, Annette Williams


Lulu Feliciano (SFMTA Marketing), Griff Humphrey, Julie Kirschbaum (SFMTA Planning), Bruce Oka (SFMTA Board), Tom Rickert (AEI)

Call to Order

Meeting was called to order at 1:00 p.m.


Introductions were made in lieu of a roll call.

Reading and approval of agenda.

The agenda was approved.

Approval of the March 2010 Minutes

March minutes were accepted.

May 8 Muni Service Change Update

Julie Kirschbaum, Service Planning Manager, and Lulu Feliciano, Marketing Manager for Transit Outreach, spoke to the group about the service changes that will be implemented on Saturday May 8. Initially approved by the SFMTA Board on February 28, the May 8th changes will mean a 10% service reduction comprised of frequency reductions and shorter hours of service.

To communicate the changes with customers there will be car cards on vehicles, banners in transit facilities, brochures and frequency guides available in three languages and essential information posted on and shared with the 3-1-1 customer service center. There will also be specific announcements programmed to the Digital Voice Announcement System (DVAS) - also in three languages – and system messages and auditory announcements in all of the Metro stations.

Ms. Kirschbaum noted that in many ways the changes will be easier for customers to understand than the previous changes that went into effect in December as no transit lines will be eliminated and no service routes will be changed. She also noted that the levels of service provided will be within the agency’s current budget. SFMTA’s budget problems force the agency to cut basic repairs and maintenance, and as needed substitute service with inappropriately sized vehicles. The May 8th service reductions will shrink the service footprint and hopefully allow SFMTA to provide a leaner more consistent and reliable service with less breakdowns and fewer gaps.

Ms. Kirschbaum emphasized that the service changes are not meant to be permanent and that the agency will grow back at least 5% of the service by the FY 2012 budget. As more resources become available customers will see a reinvestment – These changes are not part of the long-term service plan by any means.

Ms. Kirschbaum also noted that starting on May 8th, SFMTA will be commencing the St. Francis Circle Rail Replacement Project, a massive construction project that will take approximately 90 days to complete. During this time, M - Oceanview and K – Ingleside rail service will be discontinued between the West Portal and Balboa Park Metro Stations. Both lines will be temporarily replaced by shuttle bus service that will run every 8 minutes. She noted that MAAC members will be provided specific access information and that it will be included on the project website:

MAAC members were concerned about the funding that was partially restored from the State of California and if that funding would be factored into service changes. Members were also concerned that the service changes and fare increases would cause people to use Muni less and travel more by car and that the increase in automobile traffic would negatively impact pedestrian safety. Members requested specific verbal announcements be made in the subway stations describing the extent of the service changes and construction project.

MAAC Officer Elections

Members nominated and elected the following officers:

Elizabeth Dawson – Chair

Les Clark – Vice Chair

Jeanne Lynch – Secretary

Per the bylaws, officers are elected annually.

MAAC Housekeeping | Review of Bylaws

Members discussed modifying the bylaws to change the name of the committee from “San Francisco Municipal Railway Accessibility Advisory Committee” to better reflect the increased the scope of their advisory capacity to include issues beyond public transit.

The committee voted to change the name of the committee to:

“San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency – Muni Accessibility Advisory Committee (SFMTA – MAAC)”

Members suggested making additional changes to the the descriptions and requirements of membership. The committee agreed to enforce the section of the bylaws that specifies:

“Members who do not attend at least two of five consecutive meetings, including special meetings, may be replaced by the chair with ratification by the committee. Exceptions may be made for excused absences.”

In light of this bylaw, members requested a roll call be implemented at all meetings and that attendance be recorded in the minutes. It was noted that every two years, members are elected by the committee and that this process should be utilized to ensure that members attend and contribute to meetings.

Transit Literacy: Best Practices Worldwide in Bus Rapid Transit Accessibility

Tom Rickert, a former Muni Accessible Services Program Manager, and the Director of Access Exchange International (AEI) talked to the committee. AEI is a non-governmental organization that promotes the accessible design of pedestrian infrastructure and transport systems, and the operation of these systems in a user-friendly and safe manner.

For the past 20 years, Mr. Rickert has worked as a consultant on international transit accessibility projects. Most recently he has focused his expertise on the designs of Bus Rapid Transit systems in Latin America, South Africa and Asia. He talked about the challenges and problems experienced in implementing accessible BRT systems in developing countries. He explained that in theory bus rapid transit lends itself to accessibility, but that inattention to details can cause big problems for seniors and people with disabilities.

He has observed that most systems in Latin America utilize high-floor, articulated buses that dock with full level-boarding platforms and allow a steady flow of customers to enter simultaneously via three doors. Pre-paid boarding areas and smart-card fare payment simplify the process of entering BRT facilities and vehicles. However, it is very important how BRT vehicles align to boarding areas. In his work, he has observed gaps of up to 12 inches that were created where vehicles do not stop appropriately or where platforms are poorly designed.

Mr. Rickert shared BRT platform and curb designs that he felt were beneficial for disabled customers. He noted that “Kassel-style” curbs were preferred for their ability to guide buses close to the platform without causing too much tire wear. He also noted that most BRT boarding areas in Latin America include tactile guideways to assist users who are blind or visually impaired. He also identified a challenging trend in Asia, where pedestrians were required to utilize overpassess, or underpasses to reach the BRT stations. He also noted that even when BRT systems are appropriately designed, people with disabilities experience difficulty reaching the systems due to inconsistent pedestrian infrastructure.

He noted that while countries in Latin America and Asia have invested in huge systems and move millions of customers daily, the US has only started to experiment with this new transit model. All BRT systems planned for the US utilize low-floor vehicles (Eugene, Cleveland, Los Angeles, San Francisco). He cautioned that there are distinct challenges created by the layout of low-vehicle interior. Wheelwells greatly reduce the amount of floorspace available. Low floor door designs can often push the vehicle away from boarding platforms and increase the width of the gap.

The remaining agenda items were tabled until May.


At 3:00 p.m. the meeting was adjourned. The next scheduled meeting will be May 20 at 1:00 p.m.

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