Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Comment on Caltrain fare changes...

An anonymous commenter writes...
Now the new fees have me pissed. My old dual 8-ride system is going away so I'll have to purchase a 4-zone monthly. This ups the monthly payment by $20 and yearly up significantly since there are 2 or more months when I travel much less than the value of a monthly - so I have to go back to managing the account which is a pain in the ass. Also pisses me off that Lawrence is costing me ~$50 a month to cross that zone boundary. Makes me almost want to say fuck them and only do a 3-zone. I don't think I've ever been checked between Lawrence and Sunnyvale.
And Caltrain thinks this fare increase will work out OK.

A few things to note.

While Caltrain has noted that 6% or so of their passengers use 8 rides (down from 16% before Clipper), they don't give any real clue as to the nuances of this number. A larger percentage of riders switch to 8 rides a couple of months per year, most notably December where many riders take a week or more off from work. So the total population impacted is much higher than 6% (plus the 10% that were already impacted). And as you can see, this population is not happy.

It also underscores the level of math that riders do regarding the amount of money they spend on Caltrain. The accounting can go down to the nickel. On the other hand, it's a very rare bird that understands "If I drive at 8 AM, I burn an extra half gallon of gas on 101 than if I drive at 11 AM, because of time I spend idling in traffic". The cost of driving is very abstract. We know quite clearly that very few amortize the life of their transmission when calculating the cost to drive 40 miles to Mountain View.

It's less clear, but I theorize it is absolutely true that drivers also have a pretty static view of how much it costs them in gasoline, the one marginal cost they actually consider when comparing driving to public transit. They think "I get X miles per gallon" and "pay Y dollars per gallon". Time spend idling in traffic is neglected, and the price of gas is frozen at an optimistic level. They decide "It costs me $7 roundtrip to drive" and that number rarely changes because they aren't getting feedback from the car that "because you missed the exit and had to circle an extra 5 miles, you burned an extra dollar in gas". But they sure as hell remember every time they forget to tag off Clipper!

With the internal biases in calculation stacked against the use of transit, fare increases like this can be deadly to ridership levels.

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Caltrain Fare Increase Hearing, Feb 2, 10 AM, San Carlos HQ

Here is the agenda item for the Caltrain Fare Increase (also known as "Change to the Codified Tariff").

Summary - no 8 ride tickets, 8 ride ticket users use their Clipper card to buy one way tickets and get a resulting 15% fare increase.

Paper tickets increase by 25 cents per zone, which is a 12.5% increase.

Send comments to changes@caltrain.com to provide feedback.

FEBRUARY 2, 2012
TO: Joint Powers Board
THROUGH: Michael J. Scanlon
Executive Director
FROM: Rita P. Haskin
Executive Officer, Customer Service and Marketing
On December 1, 2011 the Board approved a public hearing to be held February 2, 2012 for the
consideration of changes to the Codified Tariff.
Holding the public hearing will allow Caltrain to receive input on proposed Codified Tariff
changes that may impact customers.
Changes under consideration are:
A. Additional Regional Clipper® Implementation Measures
- Increasing the cost of paper One-way and Zone Upgrade tickets by up to 25 cents per
zone and Day passes by up to 50 cents per zone. Note: The cost of a One-way ride will
remain the same for those using a Clipper card. Day passes are not available on
Clipper. Monthly Pass prices will remain the same. See Attachment A for proposed
fare chart.
- Elimination of the 8-ride Ticket.
B. Go Pass
- Increasing the cost of the Go Pass by $10 to $165, and setting the minimum level for
employer participation at $13,750 per calendar year.
C. Sales Period
- Lengthening the sales period for monthly transportation passes and parking permits
from the 9th of the month to the 15th of the month.
There is no impact to the budget for holding the public hearing.
Page 2 of 2
Staff developed the proposed changes to meet the responsibilities placed on Caltrain by
Metropolitan Transportation Commission Resolution 3866 and upon analysis of customers' fare
media usage, especially in light of Caltrain's transition to Clipper. The proposed changes to paper
ticket prices are intended to incentivize use of the Clipper fare payment system, which has been the
focus of significant regional investment over the past several years. The 8-ride Ticket is no longer
a sustainable fare product for various reasons, including that it cannot be altered for improved
performance within the Clipper system. The proposed changes to the Go Pass cost and annual
minimum would move that program towards revenue neutrality. Finally, the extended sales period
for monthly transportation passes and parking permits would benefit the agency in terms of the
quantity of passes and permits sold, and customers, who would gain flexibility in timing their
The public outreach program regarding the proposed changes and this hearing included four
community meetings (Gilroy, Mountain View, San Carlos and San Francisco), bilingual
newspaper notices, a news release, station flyers, bilingual onboard messages to train riders,
Facebook postings, Tweets and a presentation to the Caltrain Citizens Advisory Committee.
Information also was posted to the Caltrain website, which allows readers to translate it into
dozens of languages.
Staff established a number of ways for customers and the public to provide their input: at the
community meetings, via a unique e-mail address, through the postal service, and with a call to the
Customer Service Center’s general number or one for those with hearing impairments.
Staff will consider public testimony and input from members of the Board of Directors before
developing final recommendations for board consideration at its March 1, 2012 meeting. The
changes would go into effect July 1, 2012.
Prepared by: Rita P. Haskin, Executive Officer, Customer Service and Marketing 650.508.6248

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

How is Caltrain like a teenage boy.

In 2011, Caltrain was in a bind. They cooked up a plan that involved service cuts and a fare increase. Their press release is no longer on their website but it is here for posterity
Caltrain Sets Public Hearings: Proposed Service Reductions, Station Closures, Fare increases and Declaration of Fiscal Emergency
Caltrain followed this with many public hearings, and community meetings that included a sitting US Congresswoman to circle the wagons and get everyone to pitch in to cry for more money for Caltrain. These hearings were very well attended, as people responded to clearly defined things that they do not want - paying more and getting less service. Got that - people don't want to pay more, and they'll complain about it, no matter what it is. Fast forward to 2012. Caltrain is trying to raise fares again. This isn't really a sky is falling moment. If you look at the Agenda from the January 2012 JPB Meeting you will see that
Deputy CEO Gigi Harrington said revenues are about $3 million over budget in October, of which $2.8 million is farebox revenue. Expenses are within budget.
Caltrain is already getting $3 Million in fares over projection yet they are proposing a fare increase. Hmm. That's going to be an uncomfortable set of public hearings where people show up to complain about the FARE INCREASE. Then again - will anyone even know that there is a fare increase?
Caltrain Holds Meetings About Proposed Changes to Codified Tariff January 17, 2012 Caltrain will hold four public meetings and a public hearing where staff will present proposed changes to some Caltrain fares that would become effective July 1, 2012.
Interesting. When they want to fire up the troops, it's a fare increase. When they want to slide it in before lunchtime, it's "changes to some Caltrain Fares". I used that same trick - when I was fourteen years old ;)

The case for bicycle infrastructure - Cesar Chavez Hairball

This is the Cesar Chavez "Hairball" intersection with Highway 101 in San Francisco.
View Larger Map I pass through here a few times per week on my bicycle to get to Caltrain. I am not alone - on this morning's ride there were three other cyclists passing through this same spot - to get to the Caltrain station (or any other destination in that area), you either have to brave the hairball, take a "more direct route" over Potrero Hill (a hill with a 20%+ gradient) or detour a couple of miles to 17th Street. On the right side of the photo you can see a sidewalk along the freeway onramp. This leads to the "Underpass of Broken Bottles and Dreams", a sidewalk cum bike path that requires you to first access it by crossing the onramp, then follow a narrow chute under the 101, strewn with well, broken bottles and dreams (a.k.a. homeless people). There is a signalized crossing of Bayshore Blvd and then you rejoin Cesar Chavez in the offramp from 101-N. Two of my companions chose this option this morning. Another woman chose against the path. She rode "as right as practicable" so to speak, in the far right of the roadway, then crossing the freeway onramp and then hugging the white line on the right of the underpass. This required her to pass the exit onramp to Bayshore Blvd South, then go under the freeway. I chose a third option. Having turned onto Chavez via a left turn off of Bryant South, I took the middle of the far left lane. A maneuver that requires nerves of steel and hopefully cooperation from drivers as you navigate under the underpass. The majority of traffic is headed to the freeway or Bayshore so I find this to be the spot that gives me the most breathing room. After getting past the Bayshore onramp, I switch into the right hand lane to finish the underpass. This led to quite a scene - there were cars headed to the freeway, cars headed to Bayshore, and a car headed through, with a bike in the left lane and a bike hugging the curb in the right lane. Fortunately we all sort of looked out for each other and made it through, but I won't call it comfortable nor efficient. When my female companion and I finished our crossing, we then had to merge across the 101-N offramp that enters Chavez, which was a bit messed up because there were 2 cyclists merging from left to right, and 2 cyclists on the right hand side who had just crossed the onramp having come off the "UBBD". How it this optimal? Safe? Useful? Answer - it's not. You can't really say that any of us broke the rules, but we all took a different choice from three unpalatable options. Designing useful and clearly defined infrastructure that works for bikes and cars is good for everyone. And of course, when we reached Pennsylvania Avenue, where I turn left to go to Caltrain, one of the bike path cyclists took the same left turn as me, onto a three lane section, the rightmost lane being the onramp onto 280-N. I took the middle lane (rightmost non-freeway lane), he took the left lane (avoiding the 280 traffic and traffic from Chavez WB that has a free right turn into the freeway onramp and often merges into the middle lane). Needless to say that didn't work out too nicely either. The other two intrepid cyclists bypassed Pennsylvania and took a left onto Iowa Street instead, which has its own issues. This is what happens when your designs do not take into account the mix of traffic that will use a street.

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Letter to John Avalos regarding Fell/Oak bike lanes.

For those of you not in the loop, the separated bike ways on Fell and Oak - an important link in the Bay to the Beach route for the connecting the city set of bikeways, has been Monkey Wrenched and it if it looks like a duck and quacks like a duck it's probably Mayor Ed Lee.

Supervisor Avalos -

My name is John Murphy, you may recall me from a bike ride we took down Cesar Chavez street during your Mayoral Campaign. That day I made a point that this street was supposed to have already been striped with a new bike lane, but that the office of Interim Mayor Edwin Lee delayed this very important project on a important bike route which is nonetheless not very comfortable for cyclists to utilize. Today, the Interim has been dropped from Ed Lee's title, but his disregard for the safety of cyclists has not.

The major missing link of the Bay to the Ocean bike way, the notorious blocks of Fell and Oak street from the Wiggle to the panhandle, was scheduled for an improvement including a separated bikeway by early 2012. That section is currently used by thousands of cyclists on a daily basis despite the requirement for nerves of steel. Thousands more refrain from riding between the East and West halves of the City solely because of this short 3 block section.

That improvement was suddenly delayed to 2013, with the notice from the SFMTA that this is at the behest of people who are concerned about the loss of parking. This project has been in the works for years, yet just as final planning is going into place, the parking issue is suddenly a showstopper. No matter that the SFMTA made the statement, we all know that the buck stops in room 200.

As one of the best ambassadors of cycling on the SF Board of Supervisors, I would like to ask you to utilize your slot in the next question time with Mayor Ed Lee to ask him to dovetail his pronouncements at the 2011 Bike to Work day that he wanted to see a route from the Bay to the Beach by the end of the year with the delays eminating from his office. Clearly he will give an evasive answer but I think it is important for him to put his waffling on the public record.

Thank You

John Murphy - San Francisco

Thursday, January 19, 2012

SFO bike lanes update

I had a screed about the new bike lanes at SFO a while back. This resulted in contact from SFO officials, who were unusually interested in the feedback. They ended up holding a meeting (I was hit on the way to the meeting) which seemed pretty productive. Here's the resultant info from SFO - and a pdf of the improvement plans. Sfo Dear Respective Individuals/Organizations, Last year the San Francisco Airport implemented roadway striping modifications along McDonnell Road that incorporated dedicated bike lanes in each direction. We appreciate the comments/feedback we have received from the local and neighboring cycling communities through email and an open discussion session held last month. In line with our mission to provide an exceptional airport in service to our communities, the Airport traffic engineering section are preparing to implement improvements to the Airport bike lane system. Attached you will find drawings that outline the proposed changes. We hope to improve bicycle awareness and visibility to local and commercial vehicle drivers, as well as, provide an exceptional bike lane system for not only experienced riders, but for unfamiliar/recreational riders. The proposed changes include the following: - Removal of delineators and realignment of the bike lane along the merging areas of the roadway. - Installation of sharrow markers near the San Bruno Ave intersection coming into the Airport on McDonnell Rd. - Installation of sharrow markers near the Millbrae Ave intersection for throughput movement of riders onto Bayshore Blvd. - Increased Bike Lane and Bicycle Warning signage along McDonnell Rd for awareness. - Installation more of Bike Lane Markers along the McDonnell roadway for awareness. We hope to implement this work in a timely manner (weather pending) in the coming months of February and March. Let me know if you have any questions or comments to either myself or Edwin Leung Senior Traffic Engineer.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Brisbane, California Civil Engineer "Conforms to the Standard"

2 years ago I wrote about the dangerous bike lane in Brisbane California that is "separated from traffic" by a nasty rumble strip. The rumble strip makes getting around any obstacles in the bike lane a very dangerous proposition.

Yesterday I rode those bike lanes again, and noticed something even more devious than the trucks that park in there - a "crash barrier" or something that projects from the right side of the road into the bike lane, producing a very narrow lane with a crash barrier on the right and a rumble strip on the left. Ugly.

Turns out I'm not the only one who noticed. I got an email thread from Edward Hasbrouck discussing those lanes with the City of Brisbane. Edward doesn't pull any punches...

I'm not opposed to all rumble strips, but I can say that as a lifelong bicyclist who has never owned a motor vehicle, what has been done on Bayshore Blvd. is the single most inappropriate and worst-implemented installation of rumble strips I have encountered in 40 years of riding.
If you agree - and you should...
I plan to attend the next Brisbane City Council meeting, which I was told today by the city clerk is scheduled for Tuesday, Jan. 17, 7:30 p.m., to follow up on this request for removal (or mitigation through replacement with *intermittent* rumble strips) of the botched rumble strips on Bayshore Blvd. through Brisbane. I would welcome support, either by others who might attend the meeting or through letters to the City Council letters to the City Council.


Edward Hasbrouck

He has a pretty long complaint letter to Brisbane, very eloquent and descriptive. And he's correct, backed up by research shown in among other things this one from the Federal Highway Administration and this from the League of American Bicyclists

Some highlights.

According to your (Karen Kinser, Senior Civil Engineer, Brisbane) message to Ms. Radetsky:

"The incorporation of the traffic control device known as a "shoulder rumble strip" into bike lane design and in general as a tool to provide audible and physical (shaking) feedback to keep motorists in their lanes and off of shoulders, medians and the like is widespread, and is considered a nationally accepted engineering practice."

This is not correct. The use of rumble strips to separate bike lanes from same-direction all-vehicles traffic lanes, as a general practice, is contrary to Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) standards.

In your message to Ms. Radetsky, you say that, "the southern portion of this project (Valley Drive to the southern city limit) has been in place for several years without a single complaint similar to your concern."

Had I known where to complain, I would certainly have done so sooner. I was appalled by what had been done to the southern portion of Bayshore Blvd., but it appeared as a fait accompli. Even then, nobody ever asked those who use the road what we thought, or told us how to give feedback, before proceeding to repeat the same mistakes (and more) to the north.

Unlike in San Francisco where I live, where notices of proposals such as for revised traffic patterns or bike lanes are required to be posted on- site *before* plans are finalized, and road users and others who might be impacted (perhaps in ways that planners hadn't anticipated) have a chance to review plans and have input before they are implemented, I never saw any notices along Bayshore Blvd. before the construction started.

Here is the (ridiculous? tone deaf? arrogant?) response from the Karen Kinser, Senior Civil Engineer, Brisbane, Ca

The City has received your email correspondence of 12/16/11.

As noted therein, the "best practices" for the design and installation of bikeways continues to evolve, with the oldest provided reference being a 2001 technical advisory (TA), and the newest being a May 2011 TA. We disagree with your conclusion that the city's installation of rumble strips on Bayshore Boulevard creates a hazardous condition; we believe that the new condition is a vast improvement over the previous Class I Bikeway on this 45 MPH arterial road. This project, which was initiated in 2004, has been reviewed by all appropriate regulatory authorities, designed by a licensed civil engineer, and approved by the City Council.

We will maintain the information you provided, and when the roadway is re-paved, we may incorporate those features which are deemed necessary by a civil engineer, and which are then current practice.

Thank you for sharing your concerns. Best wishes for a happy holiday season.

Karen Kinser Senior Civil Engineer City of Brisbane

Reminds me of this...

Monday, January 9, 2012

Menlo Park - Facebook EIR

From Andrew Boone - SVBC.

Please forward this email to anyone you know who supports completing the San Francisco Bay Trail and constructing safe and continuous bike lanes!


Cyclists Needed for Important Menlo Park Meeting about Facebook!

What: Menlo Park Planning Commission Facebook EIR Review

When: Monday, January 9 at 7:00 pm

Where: Menlo Park City Council Chambers, 701 Laurel St (near Caltrain Station)

Meeting Agenda

It's very important to attend and give a public comment in support of bicycle commuting. This is the only meeting at which verbal public comment will be accepted on the Facebook Draft EIR before the comment period ends on Jan 23, 2012.

We need maximum possible turnout to send a strong message that improving bicycle infrastructure in the vicinity of the Facebook Campus is important to:

help commuters get to Facebook and other Silicon Valley companies without driving, in order to reduce traffic congestion, noise, and air pollution impacts

Talking points for cyclists:

Thank Facebook for being a strong supporter of bicycling and other alternative modes of transportation

Facebook should help fund the completion of the one-mile Bay Trail gap through Menlo Park and East Palo Alto

Facebook should provide continuous bike lanes on Willow Rd, University Ave, and Bay Rd (there are many gaps in the bike lanes on these streets)

Menlo Park should include these bicycle improvements as Transportation Mitigation Measures in the Facebook EIR, because bike commuting reduces auto traffic

Talking points for alternative transportation experts (such as TDM coordinators):

Thank Facebook for being a leader of alternative transportation programs and having already achieved a 41% non-drive alone mode share (as documented in the EIR)

Share any relevant data or personal stories about bike commuting on the Bay Trail, or how other bicycle infrastructure improvements have increased bike commuting

Encourage Facebook to help fund the completion of the one-mile Bay Trail gap, and to fund continuous bike lanes on Willow Rd, University Ave, and Bay Rd

Menlo Park should include these bicycle improvements as Transportation Mitigation Measures in the Facebook EIR, because bike commuting reduces auto traffic

What to Expect

Silicon Valley Bicycle Coalition (SVBC) volunteers will be available outside the City Council Chambers to help coordinate bicycle parking, hand out flyers containing more detailed information on the Facebook EIR, and hand out public speaker cards, which you need to fill out in order to make a public comment, and to answer any questions you may have.

There will be a "pre-party" outside the City Council Chambers from 6:30 - 7:00 pm. There we'll help each other prepare for the meeting, practice our public comments, and discuss the next (exciting!) steps.

What to Do

Wear bike-specific clothing (tight-fitting, bright colors, gloves, helmets) to the meeting that make it obvious to everyone that you're a cyclist. Bike Pride!

Getting there on Caltrain

If you take a northbound Caltrain, you can arrive at Menlo Park at 6:46 pm, 6:57 pm, 7:13 pm, 7:24 pm, or 8:04 pm and will arrive on time to make a public comment.

If you take a southbound Caltrain, you can arrive at Menlo Park at 6:28 pm, 6:34 pm, 7:28 pm, and probably even 8:23 pm and will arrive on time to make a public comment.

Attached is a map showing how to walk from the Caltrain Station to the City Council Chambers. The walk takes about 3 minutes. It's confusing - but don't be discouraged! The party will be waiting for you.

If you can't attend

Please send an email to the Menlo Park Planning Commission at planning.commission@menlopark.org. Please use the above talking points in your email.


Saturday, January 7, 2012

Caltrain fare increase - public meetings

Caltrain has announced public meetings to discuss an upcoming fate increase. CORRECTION - I got an email from a little bird with this list.

From the comments it sounds like Caltrain plans to simply eliminate the 8 ride ticket WITHOUT giving Clipper users a discount. Well, technically they do get a discount because Caltrain is raising fares for paper tickets 15% while leaving the Clipper fare the same for one way tickets.

Horrible business strategy. 8 ride users and paper ticket users are the most discretionary of Caltrain's passengers and this fare increase will be the most likely strategy to decrease ridership. 15% higher of zero is zero.

Of course recent experience with Caltrain could lead one to believe that fewer riders is THE GOAL ;)

Gilroy-Jan 24- 6:00pm, Gilroy Senior Center, 7371 hanna St

SF-Jan 24-6:00pm SF Tennis Club, 645 5th St...near Station.

MV-Jan 25- 6:00pm, City Council Chambers, 500 Castro

SC- Jan25-6:00pm Samtrans Bldg,  1250 San Carlos Ave.

proposed fare chart will be avail by Jan. 16 @ www.caltrain.com

Thursday, January 5, 2012

The bitter irony of Eric Cantor

I watched 60 minutes the other night, teased by a story about a story about a guy climbing the face of Half Dome with no safety ropes. Watching that guy climb scared me half to death, but the enduring emotion after the whole show was bitter anger.

In addition to the free climbing story, was a piece on House Majority Leader Eric Cantor.

Cantor has been one of many Republicans fighting against funding for popular programs like bike share and safe routes to school funding, and transportation enhancements in general.

Transportation enhancements include many things, among them bike paths and sidewalks for cycling and pedestrian. They are often characterized by the GOP as "recreational trails" but in large part when they are in the transportation budget thses are projects that enable people to get from point A to point B safely without using a car.

But who would want to do that?

Apparently - Eric Cantor himself

Click through this link to the 60 minutes video - saving yourself the pain of watching the whole video and go to 10:18 in the video and check Mr. Cantor going out for a ride on one of those transportation enhancements he wants to cut.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Support good food, good wine, and SF Public Schools

Firefly Restaurant in Noe Valley is supporting SF public schools this January. Come in for dinner on a Monday, Tuesday or Wednesday in January, mention your favorite SF public school to your server, and Firefly will donate 20% of your food and beverage total to that school. Please spread the word and help Firefly support your school. For reservations, visit Firefly's website or call 415-821-7652 after 2 pm daily. Happy New Year! Firefly Restaurant 4288 24th Street, SF 94114