munipiece2.jpgUnion Launching Its Own Investigation Into Firing of Texting Driver
When a video emerged earlier this month of a Muni bus driver texting while she was supposed to be paying attention to the road, it caused quite the uproar. Everyone knows the only time a motorists are allowed to look at their phones is when they’re trying to make heads or tails of SFMTA’s reportedly terrible new parking app. The distracted driver was given a suspension but the eagle-eyed passenger who caught her in the first place later saw her driving that very same bus last week, shortly before she was fired.

In the wake of the driver’s being let go, the operators’ union is opening its own investigation into the incident and is considering filing a a grievance against SFMTA on her behalf.

While SFMTA’s high-powered, anti-union PR firm is doubtlessly going to make sure every news outlet in the the Bay Area knows the second this grievance is filed, the incident isn’t exactly the paragon of Muni’s managerial competence either. When the operator was initially reported as still driving despite her suspension, agency officials first flatly denied that she was behind the wheel and then seemed perplexed as to how it could have happened in the first place.

People Who Love Bikes Shockingly Hate the Bay Citizen’s Anti-Bike Story
Did the savior of all journalism, the Bay Citizen, think it was going to get off that easy? Did they really believe they could write a negative article about San Francisco’s new bike plan that effectively called the San Francisco Bike Coalition a bunch of sneaky, authoritarian parking thieves who hate poor people, the disabled, children and the elderly and not end up buried up to their transmissions in cranksets and ire?

I know the Bay Citizen is new to San Francisco, but they should probably have figured out by now that bicycling in the city is as sacred as cows get. They might have well just said that Starbucks makes better coffee than Blue Bottle or that Brian Wilson’s beard is ugly.

While the story got approval from the city’s foremost anti-bike crusader Rob Anderson, the bike-friendly transit nerds over at Streetsblog are full of pedal-powered rage. The original article focused on opposition to a new bike lane the city put in along 17th street, so naturally the best anti-anti-17th Street bike lane retort would come from someone who actually lives on the street. “Can I suggest…a different framing and headline for the…article,” writes Streetsblog Muni reporter Michael Rhodes, “Cyclists and pedestrians still left exposed because a few people oppose safe street plan.”

Fight! Fight! Fight!

SFMTA Market Street Railway Board Member Passes On
SFMTA Market Street Railway board member (thanks, Mario) and long-time volunteer Philip Hoffman died last week at the age of 80. Hoffman loved, and worked tirelessly to preserve, historic streetcars and served as the board’s unofficial historian. He worked closely with the board for years, but only became a member last January.

Hoffman shared his passion for historic streetcars, as well as an interest in transit history, with fellow board member friend Cam Beach who passed away last month.

Dear, St. Francis Hospital
Stop blocking the sidewalk all the time.

Sincerely,

Pedestrianist

It Doesn’t Matter What Time You Get To The Parking Garage
As part of its effort to reduce its massive budget deficit, San Francisco’s beleaguered transit agency is looking to increase the amount of money it raises from its 20 parking garages by eliminating early-bird discounts.

The Bay Citizen reports that, “the discounts can be found at nearly every parking garage –including 20 owned by Muni. But enshrined in the city’s planning code is a decades-long ban on such discounts. The provision was designed to discourage car use downtown.”

The agency had also recently looked into other sources of revenue such as increasing-

Sorry, I have to stop.

Bay Citizen, can we talk for a second? Listen, I know you’re new here and still figuring out San Francisco (hint: the Sunset is the one to the south of Golden Gate Park, the Richmond is the one to the north). But if you’re going to writing about transit, its kind of important to delineate between SFMTA and Muni.

SFMTA is the over-arching agency that runs all of the city’s transit–including cabs, parking meters and garages.

Muni, which is a department of SFMTA, is in charge of the trains and buses.

While it was correct to say that Muni is running a $21.3 million deficit (technically its been reduced to $18 million, but I’m going to let that one slide), it’s incorrect to say that Muni owns the garages–SFMTA does.

Additionally, when you say you’re quoting Muni board members, what you’re actually doing is quoting SFMTA board members. Savvy?

Okay, you may now resume saving journalism by pissing off bikers. Oh, tell Warren I say “hi”.

Speaking of that deficit
The San Francisco County Transportation Authority, which is governed by the Board of Supervisors, controls the portion of San Francisco’s sales tax that goes toward transportation improvements, and they’re thinking about dedicating $14.9 million of that toward Muni’s new central control and communications facility, and about $150,000 could be allocated for bike and pedestrian improvements in San Francisco.

We’re hopeful the bike part of that $150K leads to more Streetsblog/Bay Citizen skirmishes. Those Streetsblog folks are pretty fit, smart money’s on them and their massive bike-made quads.

Muni Operators’ Union Authorizes Strike Vote
After a week-long vote of its membership, the union representing the Muni operators have authorized its management to call a strike if contract negotiations with SFMTA fall apart. This doesn’t mean that a strike will necessarily occur, just that it’s now a possibility.

It’s illegal for essential city workers, like Muni drivers, to go on strike, so exactly what would happen in the event of a union orchestrated work stoppage is a bit of a gray area. City Attorney Dennis Herrera released a statement saying, “the current contract prohibits a strike while it is in effect, and said the city would take legal actions to prevent a work stoppage if the union instructed its members to walk off the job.”

This strike vote is largely a reaction to the passage of Proposition G by San Francisco voters last year. Prop G mandated that if negotiations between the union and SFMTA management fall though, both parties will enter into binding arbitration with an arbiter who is required to take into account how their decision will affect service. The union is in the process of suing the city to get the proposition overturned because they feel that, if service considerations are thrown into the mix, they’re guaranteed to get the shaft from the arbiter.

Transit blogger Akit responded news of the strike with this open letter:

Dear Muni’s union,

Bite me, yeah you heard me correctly, bite me. You want to strike? I dare you to.

I’m shaking in fear… (sarcasm!)

Why am I encouraging you to strike? Because us citizens will live without Muni for a long time. We can sustain ourselves by organizing our own casual carpools, and jitney buses will magically pop-up and offer cheaper fares to ride to and from major points of interest.

We have a bad economy, and you want to strike? Gees, so grumpy about your pay and benefits? Be happy you even have a job in this crappy economy. I’m lucky I survived a furlough program where I lost 10.7% of my pay.

Here’s a box of diapers, you’d better wear it because you’ll be shitting in your pants in no time.

Respectfully,
Akit (and most of the rest of the city)

Hope Your Family Isn’t Visiting From Out Of Town This Week
They won’t be able to ride the Powell Street Cable Car because it’s temporarily closed for repairs.

New Data Says Less Free Parking
Helping you find a parking space is only half of SFMTA’s new parking program, SF Park. Arguably more important is the program’s ability to gather parking data to determine how to adjust the hours and prices of parking meters to maximize efficiency.

Transbay Blog has looked at the data and come to the conclusion that parking meters should run later into the evening and on Sundays.

Since what the Bay Citizen would call “Muni” the SFMTA is looking for ways to raise revenue, this is something to which they’ll likely be quite receptive.

Appeal Reader Does What SF Park Can’t
Not only did the much heralded SF Park smartphone app fail to impress CBS’s Beth Spotswood, but it only works on iPhones–Android owners are out of luck.

Waiter, this soup is terrible and also the portions are too small!

To remedy that, enterprising SF Appeal reader, Ross, made a free Android app that takes the SF Park’s data feed and runs it through an original user interface.

This is reason number 2,341 why SF Appeal readers are the best.

Want more news, sent to your inbox every day? Then how about subscribing to our email newsletter? Here’s why we think you should. Come on, give it a try.

Please make sure your comment adheres to our comment policy. If it doesn't, it may be deleted. Repeat violations may cause us to revoke your commenting privileges. No one wants that!
  • Greg Dewar

    The texting driver incident is a big ol’ failwhale on both management AND the union.

    When an owner/rider caught the driver who was breaking the law, they filed a complaint. Muni management’s reponse was to do nothing until broadcast TV turned on this thing called youTube.com, and only then did they “do” anything.

    The union fails because they proving a central fact I point out often – they are in this case going to war for a driver WHO WAS BREAKING THE LAW TEXTING ON A PHONE WHILE DRIVING. I guess if a Muni driver killed someone, they’d back that too (oh wait…)

    btw LOL on the Sunset/Richmond divide. Ya beat me to the punch on that one!

  • Mario

    Philip Hoffman was not on SFMTA board of directors. He was on the board of directors of Market Street Railway.

  • Eve Batey

    Thanks, Mario. We got some bad info, fix has been made!

  • Ross

    android app for SFpark data can be found here in the market:
    https://market.android.com/details?id=com.neces.sfpark&feature=search_result
    or just search for SF Parking on you phone.