Ed Reiskin Refuses to Comply with the SFMTA Citizens Advisory Council, So Let’s Run a Trial on Masonic Ourselves

Here’s the Citizens Advisory Council’s recommendation that Ed Reiskin, operator of America’s slowest and least efficient big-city transit system, has refused:

“Motion 140122.01 – The SFMTA CAC recommends that the peak hour restrictions be repealed on Masonic Avenue between Geary and Fell Streets, with the objective to measure traffic impacts on the 43 Masonic prior to the implementation of the Masonic Avenue street design project.”

Why did he do that? Well, because a “success” for him is the SFMTA spending the money it’s been given to spend. So why should he do anything to interfere with that when he’s in the red zone already?

Anywho, you can read what he has to say about a test-run after the jump.

In view of this dysfunction, let’s run a Masonic “streetscape” trial of our own, shall we?

Let’s start here, northbound, on the 3000 foot stretch of Masonic that will soon be changed: 

7J7C0082 copy

See the bus? It’s stopped at a bus stop, let’s imagine. That means that Masonic will be down to one lane inbound, you know, temporarily, during the morning drive. How will this affect traffic, do you suppose? How many minutes will it add to your commute each way, each day? Mmmm…

Since we’re imagining, imagine a large median filled with trees on either side of the double yellow line. Now is that for safety or for aesthetics? The answer is that it’s for aesthetics. Compare that with the SFMTA’s disastrous, expensive, deadly 105-foot-wide Octavia “Boulevard” / I-80 on ramp. Yes, it’s has a vegetated median as well. So, is “safety” the SFMTA’s “number one goal?” No, not at all. Its real goal is expanding its payroll and spending ever more money. So of course if you pressure it to do things you want done, like planting trees in the middle of the street, which, of course, has nothing to do with safety, it will happily comply.

Will any commuters benefit from these soon-to-come “improvements?” No, not at all. These changes are going to slow the commute way down and that will impede people in cars and MUNI buses. Did the SFMTA do any “outreach” to / with commuters? Nope. It didn’t feel like it. The SFMTA prefers to host meetings packed with “urbanists” and San Francisco Bicycle Coalition employees and members. Do these people represent “the public?” No, not at all. Yet the SFMTA claims do have done public outreach.

How will these changes to Masonic, the Great Connector, affect the surrounding area? We’ll just have to wait and see. If, later on, you raise any issues with the SFMTA about the negative effects of all their changes, they’ll be all, well, expand our budget even more and we’ll redo the project again to fix this and that.

Of course, the way to run the trial run would be simply take away all the parking spaces for a day or so, right? So what you’d do is just simply shut down the slow lanes as a test. This alternative would satisfry (mmmm, Satisfries…. R.I.P) at least some of the objections that Ed Reiskin, operator of America’s slowest and least efficient big-city transit system, mentioned.

Would Ed Reiskin want to try this alternative trial? No, not at all. (See above.) Mr. R will be happy to ignore all the complaints only after the tens of millions of dollars have been spent.

Do I think that a bunch of people riding MUNI and driving cars every day, tens of thousands of people, are going say, wow, my commute has really slowed down after all these changes so I’m going to join the handful of souls on bicycles huffing and puffing up this big hill? Nope. Some might, of course, but it won’t be any kind of meaningful number.

And do I think it’s honest for SFMTA employees to tell higher authorities that’s there’s no public opposition to these changes? Nope. Oh well.

All right, that’s the thought experiment. It looks like this one’s going to go like a bunch of other SFMTA-created initiatives, you know, like the ideologically-driven traffic circles,  the absurdly-wide Octavia “Boulevard,” the crazy re-striping of the east end of JFK Drive – they’ll just look at them all and then pat themselves on the back and hand each other awards for these “accomplishments,” these “successes.”

[UPDATE: Oh yeah, a couple people asked me if I approve of this project. And like, I live a block away, but it won’t really affect me, myself, I don’t think. Seems selfish to think now-hey-what-about-me, anyway. What ended up happening  with Octavia is that they really biased the lights in favor of Octavia, so people have to wait to a long time to get across the whole 105 foot width. So maybe it’ll be a 90-second wait to get across Masonic when all is said and done? IDK, it’s hard to predict how much the SFMTA is going to mess things up with this arbor project, this tree planting diversion. So, what will the effects be? Will commuters abandon Masonic? How will they get around instead? IDK]

On It Goes…

Now, as promised, a note from Ed Reiskin, after the jump

From: Howard Chabner
Sent: Monday, February 17, 2014 9:41 PM
To: Reiskin, Ed
Subject: Masonic project – lane reduction test

Dear Ed:

The MTA Citizens’ Advisory Council voted 7 to 1 at its February 6, 2014, meeting to recommend to the MTA that the peak hour parking restrictions be repealed on Masonic, with the objective of measuring traffic impacts on the 43 Masonic bus prior to the implementation of the Masonic project. For technical procedural reasons, despite the 7 to 1 vote, this motion was not passed. 

I support removing the peak hour parking restrictions for a reasonable time period. Permitting cars to park at the curb lane during rush hour would reduce the number of travel lanes, which the Masonic project would do during rush hour if implemented. Doing this would enable MTA to measure the impact of lane reduction not only on the 43 Masonic bus but also on the more than 32,000 motor vehicles that use Masonic daily.

Do you support removing the peak hour parking restrictions for a reasonable time period in order to conduct such a test?

Howard Chabner

And here’s the lengthy reply:

From: Reiskin, Ed
Sent: Sunday, March 02, 2014 3:44 PM
To: Howard Chabner
Subject: Masonic project, lane reduction test

Hi Howard:

Thank you for passing on the suggestion for a trial. The Masonic Avenue Streetscape Plan has been developed with years of community and stakeholder engagement. While interim or pilot measures are sometimes utilized to test ideas, our staff, do not recommend repealing peak hour parking restrictions on Masonic Avenue at this time.

The project is an integrated package that should be viewed as a whole rather than as parts that can be simply swapped in and out; testing one element will not yield insights that accurately reflect what the overall project would deliver.

While it may seem that repealing peak hour parking restrictions would predict transit impacts, the number of lanes on Masonic Avenue is not the only determinate of transit performance. If parking was allowed without building the transit bulbs or the bikeway, the benefits to transit performance those measures provide would not be captured.

One of the advantages of the bus bulbs, besides shorter dwell times due to more efficient boarding and alighting, is that the 43 stays in the travel lane and does not have to wait for gaps in traffic to continue its route. A trial would not reflect this and transit would be slowed as it tries to pull back into the traffic stream.

Further, by adding parking for a trial, parking maneuvers into and out of the parking spaces during peak hours would slow transit, as would the absence of a bikeway as cyclists would be in the travel lane rather than in a bikeway. A trial would therefore result in greater transit delay than the complete project. Additionally, the availability of parking during the trial may act as a trip generator, drawing more vehicle trips to Masonic during the trial. The same situation would not occur as a result of the complete project.

While we are grateful for the CAC and other feedback, we do not plan on pursuing a test for the reasons mentioned above. We will continue to work with the community to address outstanding issues.


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4 Responses to “Ed Reiskin Refuses to Comply with the SFMTA Citizens Advisory Council, So Let’s Run a Trial on Masonic Ourselves”

  1. It’s prudent to test changes to traffic flow.

    I’m sure the fire and police departments should have a major say in any change.

  2. marcos says:

    Transit run times should be the first concern of the MTA and private auto commute times should be the last concern of the MTA.

    The problem, though, is that snarled traffic means snarled Muni. So long as the bulk of transit lines run on the surface along with private autos or on uninforced bus lanes, then traffic congestion is equivalent to Muni congestion.

    The ideal solution would be to implement grade separated transit, BRT-lite on Masonic in the center lane, with or without removing parking lanes.

  3. Jamey Frank says:

    This is fascist “eat your medicine” government at its worst! Clearly, there is NO representation of the majority, only politically correct preconceived “solutions”.

    SF, you get what you vote for.

  4. sfcitizen says:

    All right, well, they’re putting trees in the middle of the street, so that appears to be the focus of the SFMTA. I think they say that safety is their first concern, but I don’t believe it.

    Lots of buses use Masonic, of course. Masonic, N Judahs, and a host of others going and coming to the barn at Masonic & Geary

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