Monday, May 20, 2013

Tilly Chang, the SFCTA, and Congestion Pricing

Tilly Chang

People in the city are familiar with the Municipal Transportation Agency, otherwise known as "Muni." It's the burgeoning city bureaucracy of more than 5,000 employees that mismanages our bus system and preys on everyone who has to drive in San Francisco.

Not many are familiar with the San Francisco County Transportation Authority (SFCTA) that administers the sales tax money for transportation from Proposition K, but it's also an important player in City Hall's ongoing war on cars. (Finding out exactly how much money the SFCTA gets every year from Prop. K is not easy. Based on some obscure agency documents, I concluded that it raises $70-80 million a year. Earlier today I sent the SFCTA a request for that information, but have had no response yet.[Later: They provided it. See this post.)

The SFCTA pays for Bike to Work Day and a lot of "improvements" to city streets. On its homepage right now there's an announcement for Cycle Tracks: "CycleTracks uses a smartphone's GPS to record users' bicycle routes, times, and display maps of their rides. It was developed to help San Francisco transportation planners understand the trade-offs cyclists evaluate when choosing a route."

Like the folks at the MTA, the SFCTA sees dealing with our dysfunctional Muni system as secondary to making the streets of San Francisco more "comfortable" and convenient for cyclists. See the SFCTA's Bicycle Program Coordination page.

Tilly Chang has been pushing Congestion Pricing for the SFCTA for years, when she isn't trying to undermine the present sensible LOS method of measuring traffic jams in San Francisco. But it's all part of the same project: making it as difficult and expensive as possible to drive in San Francisco. Over the years, Chang's agenda has been written about mostly in the San Francisco Business Journal: here, here, here, and here.

Now comes the SF Examiner's Will Reisman, who has been embedded in the City Hall transportation bureaucracy for years. His story in today's examiner reads like a rewrite of a press release or, just as likely, an account of a phone conversation he had with Chang:

“It’s time to really plan proactively to avoid gridlock,” Chang said. “If the growth anticipated in the region happens, we’ll be facing massive delays and really unsafe conditions for pedestrians and bicyclists.” The San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency, which operates Muni, has been working with the authority on the circulation study. Spokesman Paul Rose said the agency is interested in exploring some of the ideas put forth in the authority’s report.

The problem Chang and the anti-car folks in the MTA and the SFCTA have: public opinion polls show that the people of San Francisco are overwhelmingly opposed to paying a fee to drive downtown in their own city. The latest Chamber of Commerce poll showed 69% against and only 26% in favor of Congestion Pricing.

And, according to Proposition 26, the city will have to get a 2/3 vote of approval from city voters before they can shove Congestion Pricing down our throats, which doesn't mean they won't keep trying.

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17 Comments:

At 1:46 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

When the SFCTA forecasts doom because of increased growth why don't they do what most large world cities do and invest in a computerized "smart" traffic signal network? Instead of punishing drivers and focusing on "smart" bike networks, most cities not only invest much more time and money in public transit, but also better streets and traffic flow. I am a San Francisco property owner now working in Chicago and I am amazed at how Chicago's city traffic signal network responds to conditions during rush hour and sporting events. Signals here are designed so that traffic MOVES. If Market Street signals were timed to a 32 mph uninterrupted flow the way they are on Michigan Avenue you could travel from the Ferry building to the Castro with maybe 3 stops. The only streets I can think of in San Francisco that might employ some traffic signal timing are Gough, Franklin and a portion of Lombard.

 
At 8:25 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Anonymous clearly doesn't know very much about San Francisco. Market Street has a dozen bus lines plus the F Market. There is no way traffic could go 32 MPH uninterrupted without removing the buses, which you know, have to "stop" occasionally.

 
At 8:26 AM, Blogger murphstahoe said...

Valencia has timed lights, 14th has timed lights, the Great Highway has timed lights, Fell Street and Oak Street have timed lights.

 
At 9:07 AM, Blogger Rob Anderson said...

More important than traffic lights is the city's reckless Planning decisions that allow 19,000 residents on Treasure Island, 10,000 new residents in the middle of the city with the Market/Octavia Plan, 1,000 new residents at the old UC Extension property on lower Haight Street, and 5,000 new housing units at Parkmerced, all of this under the Orwellian "Smart Growth" theory.

 
At 9:14 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

People want to live here, best not build more housing though because 1975 San Francisco was the best!! Rob's got his rent-controlled (probably for some obscene amount of $200/mo) so screw all the rest of you.

 
At 9:57 AM, Blogger Rkeezy said...

Oak USED to have sensibly timed lights, until the bike lane went in and the eastbound traffic gets stuck at Broderick and Divisadero every time because the light timing got changed for who knows why.

 
At 11:54 AM, Blogger Rob Anderson said...

The MTA told us why last year: the bike lanes were created just to make cyclists "comfortable" as they speed toward the Wiggle and the lower Haight neighborhood, scattering pedestrians in their wake. The MTA sees bicycle projects as more important than moving traffic on city streets, including slowing Muni lines.

Allowing 74,000 vehicles (see page 4 of this document) to move on Fell and Oak Streets is not as important as allowing perhaps 1,000 cyclists to feel "comfortable" riding on the Panhandle, even though a safe, sensible alternative is nearby.

 
At 12:07 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

It took a while but I think the bike coalition's influence at the SFMTA and SFCTA is about to come to an end. Viewing of the May 2nd Board of Supervisors meeting will show you that the vast majority of citizens are fed up . The loudest applause was for the gentleman who said "stop listening ONLY to the bike people and start listening to the rest of us".

 
At 12:11 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

"stop listening ONLY to the bike people and start listening to the rest of us".

LOL. You can't be serious. Polk Street, shot down. Parking meters in NE Mission, shot down. The list goes on and on. They aren't listening to anyone but car drivers.

 
At 1:03 PM, Blogger Rob Anderson said...

"People want to live here, best not build more housing though because 1975 San Francisco was the best!"

You miss the point, which is the link between massive development projects and city traffic. City Hall and the Planning Dept. seem to think that it can allow unlimited housing development in the city by brandishing the fashionable, half-baked "smart growth," dense-development-along transit-corridors theory.

Not surprisingly, developers love that theory. Unfortunately, it leaves the traffic consequences to the next generation, since all those pushing this irresponsible planning will be retired on their generous city retirement programs by the time the consequences impact the streets of the city.

"Polk Street, shot down. Parking meters in NE Mission, shot down. The list goes on and on. They aren't listening to anyone but car drivers."

The list doesn't "go on and on," since neither the Polk Street project nor parking meters in the Mission are permanent retreats. People in the neighborhoods need to understand that you bike folks are like relgious fanatics: you and your enablers in the MTA will keep coming at them. They're scheming and planning in poorly attended committee meetings right now to figure out how to get around neighborhood opposition to those projects.

The Fell/Oak bike lane project went through recently. The massive Masonic Avenue bike lane project---eliminating 167 parking spaces---is still going through, as are the projects on Cesar Chavez and Second Street.

 
At 1:10 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Rob, you miss the point. People want to live here, if you don't build housing, the price will continue to shoot up. But you, and most people fighting development, already are locked in with rent-control or prop 13. California's motto: "I got mine, fuck you."

 
At 1:19 PM, Blogger Rob Anderson said...

No, I just didn't make myself clear. I'm not against "development." I'm against these massive housing developments---Parkmerced on 19th Avenue, which is already near gridlock; Treasure Island, which now has less than 3,000 residents, is okayed for 19,000; the Market/Octavia Plan, which is bringing 10,000 new residents into the middle of the city with no money for Muni; the UC housing development on the old Extension property is brining in another 1,000 new residents to that part of the city.

I support genuine infill projects and other smaller projects in other parts of the city. It's the nutty, large-scale projects like those that are way out of scale for a city that is already the second most densely-populated city in the country after only New York City.

And these massive housing projects are accompanied at the same time as City Hall wages war on motor vehicles, as if these thousands of new residents are going to ride an already crowded, underfunded Muni, or, even less plausibly, ride bicycles.

 
At 2:18 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Viewing of the May 2nd Board of Supervisors meeting will show you that the vast majority of citizens are fed up . The loudest applause was for the gentleman who said "stop listening ONLY to the bike people and start listening to the rest of us".

The Board of Supervisors meetings are at 2 PM on Tuesdays. "The rest of us" do not attend those meetings. "The rest of us" have jobs. 90% of the attendees of the BoS meetings are cab drivers, the rest are gadflies.

 
At 7:32 PM, Blogger murphstahoe said...

"the Market/Octavia Plan, which is bringing 10,000 new residents into the middle of the city"

"I support genuine infill projects"

If "the middle of the city" is not infill, please elucidate as to what exactly infill is?

 
At 4:28 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

@"the rest of us". Almost every speaker mentioned taking time off from work to attend Board of Supervisors meeting. The majority of speakers were homeowners, presidents of neighborhood groups, and small business owners. Metermadness has a link to the hearing and you can see for yourself. This was not some fringe group.

 
At 11:17 AM, Blogger Rob Anderson said...

"If 'the middle of the city' is not infill, please elucidate as to what exactly infill is?"

Infill is not, like the M/O Plan, eliminating backyards and setbacks for new buildings. Infill isn't, again as per the M/O Plan, 40-story highrises at Market and Van Ness. Infill is not allowing UC to rip off the old extension property to fatten its real estate portfolio with a housing development for 1,000 new residents on less than six acres.

And of course the M/O project and the UC project limit the amount of parking developers can provide for the new housing units, which is why the Bicycle Coalition supports City Hall's version of "smart growth."

 
At 11:42 PM, Blogger Abe Ahwal said...

masonic project ya it's a joke, i mean you must be kidding me, the lying SFMTA to the public and to the people who lives on masonic and it's neighbors that masonic project finally can be safe for pedestrians and by taking away 167 parking space on masonic will reduce the traffic congestion. well that's not true because they are hiding the fact that there will be a big target store on masonic and Geary street and with that coming soon you think it'll reduce the traffic and it'll be safer to walk or ride a bike on masonic good luck doing that, and 22 million dollar well spent.

 

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