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Minutes of February 18, 2010

Members Present

Les Clark, Elizabeth Dawson (Vice-Chair), Edward Evans, Melvin Galloway, Barbara George (JLMB), Marc Grossman, Jean Kempf, Miro Kielbus, David Longa, Jeanne Lynch, Bruce Morgan, Roland Wong, F. Ross Woodall, Byron Yan

Accessible Services Staff Present

Jamie Osborne, Virginia Rathke


Christine Blue, Lulu Feliciano (SFMTA Communications), Oliver Gajda (SFMTA Pedestrian Program), Vera Haile, Griff Humphrey, Julie Kirschbaum (SFMTA Service Planning), Cristina Olea (SFMTA Pedestrian Program), Neil Poling, Judy Tam (SFMTA Service Planning), Lynn M. Wilfong

Call to Order

Meeting was called to order at 1:05 p.m.


Introductions were made in lieu of a roll call.

Reading and approval of agenda.

The agenda was approved.

Reading and approval of the January 2010 minutes

January minutes were approved.

Comments from the Chair

Vice Chair, Elizabeth Dawson recognized the difficulty that some members experience in attending the meeting and thanked all for their attendance and participation.

Wheelchair Securement Policy Approval

Jamie Osborne, read the draft SFMTA wheelchair securement policy to members and requested their comments and feedback.

Members suggested that the agency search out transit agencies who covered similarly hilly terrain to San Francisco’s (such as Pittsburgh, Boston, Seattle) to compare wheelchair securement policies. They also felt that language should be included to protect the safety of other customers if a wheelchair user who refuses to be secured is not in control of their chair while the vehicle is in motion. MAAC members noted that the wheelchair securement straps and seatbelts were often in disrepair and that operators were often reluctant to assist customers in securing their chairs. JLMB representation requested that the wheelchair securement policy include boarding issues specific to sawtooth / hazard triangle stop bar markings.

The wheelchair securement policy will be updated with the members’ suggestions and brought back to the committee for their review and potential approval.

TransLink® / Clipper Card Update

Neil Poling, a consultant with Booz Allen Hamilton, is assisting the agency with the implementation of the TransLink ® program and the new faregates and ticket vending machines in the Metro system. He spoke to the group about the planning and implementation for SFMTA’s Disabled, Senior and Youth passes.

Mr. Poling noted that site preparation work has begun at the Civic Center station to put power and communications wiring for the new faregates. The preparation work will be completed at all Metro stations through the summer and it is planned that the first new faregates and vending machines will be installed August 16 through 18th at the Forest Hill station. The remaining stations should be updated by November.

The TransLink card is being rebranded as the Clipper card. The card stock will be improved and the technology will be updated so that the card can be read faster by faregates and will be less easily damaged. The Metropolitan Transportation Commission (MTC), the transportation planning, coordinating and financing agency for the nine-county San Francisco Bay Area, has made the decision to rebrand the card. Starting April 15, there will be a soft launch of the new Clipper card and a full launch will take place in June.

Mr. Poling reported that all of SFMTA’s paper passes and stickers will be phased out and that monthly passes will be available for purchase only using the Clipper card. SFMTA will focus on Regional Transportation Connection (RTC) ID users as the first group to transition to the Clipper card only pass. RTC users already have the technology included in their cards to do this.

SFMTA estimates that using the Clipper card technology will be much easier for users than the monthly sticker. Eliminating all paper passes and stickers will save the agency a great deal of money. Users will be able to load the monthly pass using ticket vending machines, or would be able to automatically add value to the card online using a credit card or bank account. Outreach to RTC customers about the change will take place over the next seven months. SFMTA plans to eliminate the disabled monthly sticker by September 30.

MAAC members expressed concern with the "autoload" feature of the RTC enabled Clipper card. It was observed that the card was automatically blocked if the credit card or bank account is changed. It was suggested that users should be able to load cash on their cards even if the autoload feature is not working. Members requested that the P-Pass be included in the Clipper card.

Members were concerned about how customers with disabilities will replace their card if it is lost. Mr. Poling explained that when a Clipper card is lost, the user must pay a charge of $5 to have the card replaced and the balance of the lost card transferred on to the new card.

Members wondered if the Clipper card will have a minimum balance.  The card will have an “E-purse” that will accommodate any amount. The card must have at least the minimum transit fare on the E-purse to be used (for example the SFMTA senior/disabled discount fare of $0.75).

Audible Pedestrian Signal Program

Cristina Olea and Oliver Gajda spoke to the committee about the history of the Audible Pedestrian Signal Program. An Accessible Pedestrian Signal (APS) is a pedestrian push button that communicates when to cross the street in a non-visual manner, such as audible tones, speech messages, and vibrating surfaces.

There are currently 116 intersections with APS throughout the city and 20 additional locations that have been requested by the public. The APS program is also securing funding from the Federal American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) of 2009 for approximately 45 additional installations. There is funding available for APS at the St. Francis Circle area through an upcoming SFMTA rail replacement project and the potential for APS along the Van Ness Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) corridor from Lombard to Mission.

Mr. Gajda noted that in the next few months, the agency’s APS policy will be brought to the SFMTA board for a vote of approval. Additional information about the program is available online at:

MAAC members posed questions about activation of the APS equipment and the ability of the devices to control the pedestrian cross signal. Ms. Olea noted that most APS devices DO NOT provide control over the pedestrian signal timing as most traffic lights are on fixed cycles. There are some instances where hitting the button is necessary to trigger a pedestrian crossing signal – At these pedestrian actuated intersections, there will be an indication to “Push to cross.”

Members were concerned about the consistency of different APS installations, specifically between One South Van Ness and the Rose Resnick Lighthouse for the Blind and Visually Impaired where there are three different types of auditory messages. Members requested that older generation units be updated with messages formatted to match more recent installations. There is a learning curve to understand how the devices work, but consistency across the different installations is essential to facilitate this process.

APS are treated similarly to traffic signals whereas equipment is maintained based on user feedback. There are upwards of 1000 units in the field. It is possible that some installations may not meet technical standards. Inconsistencies in APS performance must be brought to SFMTA’s attention by the public so that they can be addressed. Members were requested to please report these inconsistencies to the agency via 3-1-1 | 415.701.2311.

SFMTA Budget Deficit / Service Change Update

Jamie Osborne spoke to the committee about upcoming public meetings and noted that if members were interested in potential fare increases or service reductions, they should be sure to attend and voice their support or concerns.

Julie Kirschbaum, of SFMTA Service Planning, addressed the committee and gave specific details about the proposed changes. She thanked the members who attended February’s town hall meetings and noted that the agency was listening to all of the feedback that they received. SFMTA is trying to close a $17 Million gap and has had very difficult decisions to make about the ways to do so.

Ms. Kirschbaum reviewed the various sources for the agency’s current deficit: reductions in The City’s general fund, a lower than anticipated parking tax revenue, and advertising revenues that have also been lower than expected. She noted that the biggest hit to the budget was the drastic reduction of State operating resources (This loss was has been been projected since April 2009).

Ms. Kirschbaum and her staff were tasked with analyzing customer feedback and ridership data to develop service proposals that would effectively reduce Muni service hours by 10% (The agency delivers 3.1 Million service hours yearly, a 10% reduction means 300,000 less hours of service per year). She added that to address the deficit for the 2009 - 2010 fiscal year, it must be possible to enact the proposed service reductions by May 1, 2010.

Changes will not include route eliminations or restructuring, but will affect the frequency and hours of service. On a crowded route, it will be more difficult to get a seat and there may potentially be increased pass-ups of wheelchair users. On less crowded routes, the biggest impact will be on wait times. She indicated that service reductions will result in both operator and staff layoffs.

MAAC members expressed concern for the safety of customers who were waiting for less frequent service after dark. They also wanted to know how the longer time waits would affect customers’ ability to use their 90 minute transfers. Ms. Kirschbaum responded that the most significant of the service reductions would take place in the evening when customers are given extended transfers and when vehicles are less likely to experience the crowded conditions that would result in pass-ups.

Members noted their fears that increased fares and reduced services would force people into private cars and taxis. Members were concerned about the dialogue with transport operator’s union and how these negotiations could affect the budget deficit. They also noted potential problems with the FY 2011 – 2012 budget that will still need to be addressed.

Members expressed frustration that the low cost of driving makes it more difficult to fund and encourage the use of public transit. Members recognized that the economic times were unprecedented and that the root causes of the existing problems were above SFMTA’s control, but they requested that the agency do its best to ensure that the increases to the cost of transit are low and that the reductions in service are minimal. Members also suggested that a daily pass be created that is priced for fixed-route customers (SF citizens) instead of cable car customers (tourists).

NOTE: Following the February Meeting, SFMTA CFO, Sonali Bose was able to respond to unanswered member questions:

> What happens if the 2010 budget is not balanced?

[Bose, Sonali]  By law it must be balanced

> When does the Board of Supervisors (BOS) have to vote on the fare changes?

[Bose, Sonali]  The BOS has 30 days to take action after the fare changes are submitted to them (after the MTA Board takes action)

> Can the day pass be adjusted? Why not sell day passes for the elderly?

[Bose, Sonali]  We cannot add more paper passes into the system as we already have too many, once a smart card (e.g. Translink/Clipper is fully implemented various pricing options cannot be considered

> Should we expect more increases for 2011-2012?

[Bose, Sonali]  The MTA Board will be taking action on both 2011 and 2012 Budgets by May 1st per city charter

> Suggestions to raise revenue:

Transportation tax for downtown businesses?

[Bose, Sonali]  There is a Transit Impact Development Fee for new commercial development. However, this fee is contingent on new commercial developments which are not occurring in this economic climate. An ongoing tax on downtown business will require a ballot measure and possibly a nexus study

Increase passport rates for tourists?

[Bose, Sonali]  Passport rates have been increased already. The only fare that has not increased in the last three years is the $5 single ride cable car fare.

BART & SFMTA Senior / Disabled Pilot Pass

Jamie Osborne noted that there were no major developments or changes in the P-Pass program, but that he was looking for feedback from users. If MAAC members or meeting guests have any questions about this program, they should contact him: | 415.701.4439

SFMTA Metro Between Car Barrier Update

MAAC members were invited to a demonstration of a new between car barrier (BCB) that has been installed at the Muni Metro platform at the Embarcadero and Howard. BCB’s are designed to protect customers with disabilities from walking off of the rail boarding platforms into the opening that is created by the coupling are of a two car train. The BCB demonstration was scheduled to take place on Wednesday February 24th at 2:00 p.m. and all members are welcome.

Member’s Questions and Comments

Dave Longa commented that he enjoyed the January new operator training, but he felt that an additional 30 minutes was necessary.

Barbara George requested clarification on the requirements for the sawtooth marking?

Items for the Next Agenda:

Jeanne Lynch suggested that the MAAC bylaws be reviewed by the committee at the next agenda.

Ross Woodall requested that an SFPD representative talk to the committee about existing lack of enforcement of laws prohibiting bicyclists from riding their bikes on the sidewalk.

Marc Grossman requested that someone talk to the committee about fare inspectors. He was also concerned about safety issues with customers exiting LRV’s directly to the roadway.

Jamie Osborne suggested that the Van Ness BRT Corridor planning staff bring the committee up to date on progress and accessibility features.


At 3:05 p.m. the meeting was adjourned and the next scheduled meeting was set for March 18, 2010 at 1:00 p.m.



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