Monday, February 20, 2017

MTA's new Transportation Fact Sheet

The MTA has finally released another Transportation Fact Sheet (2015 SFMTA Factsheet).

Since there was such a gap between the last edition, released in 2013 and revised in August, 2014, I assumed that the city had discontinued the informative document. When I asked the MTA about it, I was given the runaround by Paul Rose. Funny, but he never got back to me.

I only found out about the new Fact Sheet by searching the MTA's website, since there was no press release or other notification.

This edition has an October, 2016 date, and it was compiled by the Sustainable Streets Division of the MTA. (The bloated agency has seven divisions.)

Apparently Sustainable Streets does the reports now (including the last Bicycle Count Report, which I analyzed here.) Go to this site and click on "reports" to see a list that also includes a new Collisions Report (More on that tomorrow [later: no, my take on this new report will take longer]).

The  new Transportation Fact Sheet covers the same ground as the old but also includes some written material ("Key trends and statistics")---more on that below---and some unhelpful graphics in the first two pages. 

It's not encouraging that there's a couple of simple mistakes on page 2: Adding up the four numbers in the "Vehicles and Drivers" column, my calculator gets a total of 494,103. Sustainable Streets comes up with an unsustainable 496,118. Then in the "Data Year" column on the right, the wrong year is cited: those numbers are from the DMV's tally for 2015, not 2014. The source on page 12 cites the right year: "Retrieved summer 2016." (The DMV provides the numbers for the previous year in the spring of the present year.)

But on page 3 we have ACS data from 2014. If they can get the DMV's numbers for 2015, why can't they get the "Means of Transportation to Work" numbers for 2015? And why include "trailers" in the total just because the DMV requires licenses for trailers? After all it's the number of vehicles towing those trailers that are of traffic significance.

In any event, when you add up all those city residents who get to work via those wicked motor vehicles, you get a total of 208,984, compared to 21,068 who supposedly rode bicycles to work. The city now claims 4% of city workers supposedly commute by bicycle, which is a 100% gain from 2000 when only 2% did so. But the reality: after all the anti-car, pro-bike propaganda from City Hall and the Bicycle Coalition between 2000 and 2014, there has been only a 2% increase in bicycle commuters in fifteen years! 

On page 5 we learn that there are 3,556 "Total Active Transit Stops." (What would an "inactive" transit stop be?) The last Transportation Fact Sheet doesn't have this number, but it would be nice to know how many bus stops the MTA has eliminated in recent years. The MTA does that because Muni buses run faster when they don't have to stop so often for those pesky passengers.

The money the MTA gets from parking meters has actually declined a bit from the previous total: now it's $53,738,314 compared to the previous $53,856,001. But the big payoff on parking meters is the money from parking tickets: $88,261,220.

The city's parking lots and garages bring in $94.6 million (up from $85 million in the last fact sheet), and $11,550,409 in residential parking permits (up from $10,248,044).

The city issued 11,851 Red Light Camera Violations in 2015, but we aren't told how much money it made from those tickets

Add up the city's take on parking meters, parking tickets, parking lots, and parking permits, and you get a total of $248,149,943 the city makes every year off those wicked motor vehicles!

From the introductory material:

The city of San Francisco contains 277,283 on-street and an estimated 166,000 off-street public motor vehicle parking spaces. At a typical 17-20 feet in length, the on-street parking spaces alone are enough to line the entire 840-mile coast of California.

Okay, but is this included to provide the public some kind of reassurance for all the parking spaces the city has eliminated---or is in the process of eliminating---to make bike lanes and for other "improvements" to city streets? It would be nice to know exactly how many parking spaces the city has eliminated in recent years as it officially discourages everyone from driving motor vehicles, a major source of revenue for the city.

And this:

As of 2014, 58.7% of San Francisco residents commute to work via non-private auto modes, while 41.3% commute by driving alone or carpooling in private vehicles. This is a reversal since 2000, when 48.6% of residents commuted by non-private auto modes and 51.3% commuted in private vehicles. In that time, the percentage of San Francisco residents commuting by bicycle has more than doubled, from 2.1% to 4.4%.

What the hell is a "non-private auto mode"? It apparently includes bicycles and public transit. And, as I pointed out above, it took 15 years for commuting by bicycle to get from 2.1% to 4%.

But it's good to know that the MTA is at least trying to provide the public with information with its annual Transportation Fact Sheet. It needs to try harder to get it right. Surely among its 6,263 employees it can find someone to proofread this document before it's released.

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