Tag Archives: BART

Big government at work: Bay Area transit card to get mobile phone update at cost of $194 million

The Metropolitan Transportation Commission (MTC) serves as the Bay Area’s transportation planning, coordinating, and financing agency, and oversees the Bay Area Toll Authority.

Riders use a “Clipper” card from MTC to avoid having to pay cash at each transit ride and when they change transit systems (over a dozen agencies accept Clipper cards). Clipper cards were introduced in 2006, just 12 years ago. Apparently the system wasn’t designed with advanced technology in mind even though the area is the hub for innovative technology.

Guess how long the MTC has been working on the Clipper card update (called C2)? FOUR YEARS. And the new card won’t be rolled out until 2021.

Guess how much the C2 update and maintenance will cost? Almost half a BILLION dollars.

No biggie, California government agencies always find more taxpayer monies to fund their ridiculously overpriced projects.

Here’s more details from SF Gate: Clipper, once the whiz-bang smart card that rescued commuters from having to buy a ticket or pay a separate cash fare every time they rode a different transit system — Muni, BART, Caltrain, AC Transit, the ferry and so on — has grown stiff, stodgy and nearly obsolete.

The existing system has been irritating to customers and transit operators alike. Riders often must wait three days or more to add value to their cards and several hours for bus and light-rail rides to be reflected in their balances. Adding new transit agencies to the Clipper system is difficult, and offering special fares or discounts is next to impossible.

So regional transit officials are preparing to overhaul the Bay Area’s universal transit card at a cost of $194 million, plus an additional $266 million to operate and maintain the system for the next 10 years.

The new Clipper system, they said Friday, will allow riders to use their mobile phones to pay fares or add value to their cards. Gone will be the multiple-day waiting period to put more cash on cards online. And the changes will make it easier for transit agencies to offer discounts or special fares.

“What we hope they will notice is that the system works better for them,” said Randy Rentschler, a spokesman for the Metropolitan Transportation Commission, which runs the Clipper program. “It’s faster, it’s more convenient, it’s more functional, they can more easily add value or get cards for their whole family.”

The MTC is set to review plans to award a contract for the new card system to Cubic, the lone bidder and current operator, at an Operations Committee meeting Friday. The full commission is expected to vote on the contract at its Sept. 26 meeting.

Cubic will start work on the next generation of Clipper in January if awarded the contract. The mobile app is scheduled to arrive in 2021, with all existing readers and other equipment replaced the same year.

Much like someone deciding to replace an old laptop or smartphone, the commission decided it was time to invest in a new system, Rentschler said.

“We’ve been thinking about upgrading for some time,” he said. “Eventually, you taxpayers have to bite the bullet. We could have kept what we have running. But that would be less effective than upgrading the whole thing. So we decided it was time to just do it.”

Read the whole SF Gate story here.


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Tourists shocked by what they see on San Francisco streets

san francisco

The streets of San Francisco…

Did nobody bother to Google the city they were about to visit? Before you make a trip to San Francisco, see the following:

From SF Gate: It’s something many San Franciscans see on a daily basis, outside their homes or offices and during their commutes. For better or for worse, locals are used to walking by crime scenes, have seen open injection drug use, and have witnessed mental health episodes firsthand.
But when a tourist lands at SFO, guidebook in hand, that reality can be shocking.
“Is this normal or am I in a ‘bad part of town?’ Just walked past numerous homeless off their faces, screaming and running all over the sidewalk near Twitter HQ and then a murder scene. Wife is scared to leave hotel now,” wrote an Australian Reddit user Wednesday.
That person isn’t alone. On Sunday, another tourist from Canada asked the San Francisco Reddit community, “Why is this city so terrifying?”
“I’d been there for probably less than a day, just wandering around the center, and already seen more than enough poverty and suffering to cause me wanting to leave desperately,” wrote another visitor from London in 2017. “I saw many people talking to themselves, or to things that weren’t there. Even in a Macy’s, and there weren’t any police officers to help them or do anything about it.”
Anyone who has hosted friends or family from out of town may have had to field similar questions.
Just those three Reddit posts garnered more than 650 comments, many of which were helpful suggestions (other neighborhoods to explore, safety tips, and more).
But the city’s own visitors’ bureau is struggling to come up with a good explanation for horrified tourists.
The streets are filthy. There’s trash everywhere. It’s disgusting,” Joe D’Alessandro, president of S.F. Travel told the Chronicle’s Heather Knight in April. “I’ve never seen any other city like this — the homelessness, dirty streets, drug use on the streets, smash-and-grabs.”
“You see things on the streets that are just not humane,” Kevin Carroll, executive director of the Hotel Council of San Francisco, also told Knight. “People come into hotels saying, ‘What is going on out there?’ They’re just shocked. … People say, ‘I love your city, I love your restaurants, but I’ll never come back.'”

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San Francisco transit officials withhold video of teen crimes to avoid racial stereotyping

From Fox News: Transit authorities in the San Francisco area are withholding video of crimes by black teens, claiming that it would promote unfair racial stereotypes.
The videos show the youths stealing purses, wallets, and phones. Between 40 and 60 teens boarded a train on April 22 and robbed seven passengers.
“The individuals they saw on video were repeat offenders. They knew who these people were,” said witness Rusty Stapp, who is suing to get the video released.
“When it is involving juveniles as these last two incidents have occurred, the police department make the determination that there is not a public interest in sending all that information out,” said a Bay Area Rapid Transit spokesperson.
However, BART Director Debora Allen discovered an internal memo cautioning against releasing the footage for fear of racial stereotyping. “People need to be aware of what’s happening on the trains,” said Allen, one of at least two BART officials who are calling out the transit system.
Releasing the footage would “unfairly affect and characterize riders of color, leading to sweeping generalizations in media reports and a high level of racially insensitive commentary,” the memo read.
Assault, robbery, and rape have risen 41 percent on BART, William La Jeunesse reported on “Happening Now.”

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When’s the last time you had a 7.73% pay raise?

Fighting for a big raise...

Fighting for a big raise…

BART workers vote to authorize a strike

SFGate: Members of BART’s two largest unions voted overwhelmingly to give their leaders the power to call a strike as early as Monday, officials announced Wednesday morning.

The unions – Amalgamated Transit Union Local 1555 and Service Employees International Union Local 1021 – held separate strike authorization votes throughout the day and into the night on Tuesday.

SEIU members, who include mechanics, maintenance workers and a variety of BART professionals, voted overwhelmingly to authorize a strike, with 98.5 percent of its voting members approving the move, while 99.9 percent of ATU workers – train operators and station agents – approved a strike vote.

Granting strike authorization does not mean a work stoppage will happen but it gives union leaders approval to order a walkout. The last BART strike took place in 1997, when the system’s weekday ridership was 275,000, and lasted six days.

With BART now hauling about 400,000 a day, a strike would almost certainly deliver gridlock to the Bay Area. However, it would have less of an impact during the Fourth of July holiday week when fewer people are commuting to work or school.

Union leaders have not announced when a strike would take place. Typically, BART’s unions have given the public 72-hour notice when they’ve threatened to strike, though a warning is not required.

Bay Area transportation officials are making plans to boost alternative transit and to encourage carpooling if a strike occurs. Bay Area carpool lanes would operate continuously from 5 a.m.-7 p.m. AC Transit would operate shuttles between downtown Oakland and San Francisco and San Francisco Bay Ferries would run extra boats on the Oakland, Alameda, Alameda Harbor Bay and Vallejo ferries to and from San Francisco.

Negotiations between BART and the two large unions are expected to resume on Wednesday. The unions are asking for raises that add up to about 23.2 percent over three years. They’re also demanding the transit agency take steps to improve safety on the job. BART has offered 1 percent raises, contingent on the agency meeting economic goals, in each year of the four-year contract it’s proposed. The agency has said it needs employees to pick up a share of their pension contributions, to increase their health insurance costs and to approve rule changes that would reduce overtime.

BART has 2,841 of its employees in five labor unions that bargain some issues separately but economic issues, including wages and benefits, jointly. SEIU represents 1,430 workers, and 945 are represented by ATU. The American Federation of State and Municipal Employees represents 210 employees, mainly supervisors and midlevel managers. Two police unions, one for rank-and-file officers and one for sergeants and lieutenants, cover 256 people, but are prohibited from striking. BART has 411 nonunion employees.

AFSCME workers are bargaining in a more collaborative process but have said they will honor picket lines if the two larger unions walk off the job.

I haven’t had a raise since 2008. And in the private sector, your raise is based on your performance, not some negotiated union figure. But that’s how it works in government now – raises for simply negotiating, no matter how you perform.


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What would you do if you saw this naked S.F. guy in a train station?

You know the joke about California being like a bowl of granola? When you remove the fruits and the flakes, all you have left are the nuts?

BART is the Bay Area Rapid Transit that many San Francisco Bay Area residents use, especially to get from S.F. across the bay to the East Bay and vice versa.

On May 10, 2013, at the 16th Street and Mission Station in S.F., commuters were assaulted, both visually and physically, by a skinny naked guy with bushy hair who works as an acrobat for the Berkeley circus troupe ClownsNotBombs.

I took the following screenshots from a video taken by a BART station agent’s cellphone.

First, the naked guy attacked and traumatized a young woman (in pink top). An unarmed male BART station attendant (in blue shirt) tried to help and succeeded in freeing her from naked guy’s clutches.

Perez1Naked guy then went on top of the turnstiles and performed a series of gymnastic maneuvers — flips, handstands, and splits.

Next, naked guy grabbed hold of an elderly woman, injuring her back, followed by more gymnastic maneuvers.

Perez2Perez3Then he threw himself on the floor and belly-flopped like a fish out of water, after which he just lied on the floor face down.

As all this was happening, commuters walked past him as if nothing is out of the ordinary, except for a bicyclist who stopped and gave naked guy a good kick. LOL

Perez4Then naked guy got up, stood in front of commuters exiting the up escalator, and harassed two young women.

Perez5Finally, 3½ agonizing minutes after the video had begun, two police officers arrived, wrestled and handcuffed naked guy.

The San Francisco Chronicle reports that naked guy was identified by BART police as 24-year-old Yeiner Garizabalo, who goes by the name Yeiner Perez. Here’s his mugshot, courtesy of BART Police:

Yeiner PerezYeiner Perez

Perez was taken to California Pacific Medical Center for a psychiatric evaluation and then was kept at the facility on an emergency psychiatric hold. When he was released from the hospital, he was booked on suspicion of misdemeanor battery. He was then released from jail after 48 hours because the district attorney’s office has not yet decided whether to file charges.

KPIX CBS5 says that Perez was handed over to Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials and “is likely now facing deportation.” But law enforcement officials would not confirm Perez’s country of origin, or set a timeline for deportation proceedings.

In the meanwhile, Perez has been fired by ClownsNotBombs, is being monitored by ankle bracelet, and could still face charges from the S.F. District Attorney’s office.

Here’s the video:

So what would you have done if you were at that BART station?


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Agenda 21 – A Good Place for Budget Cuts

Federal officials recommend full funding for BART extension to San Jose  

By Gary Richards
Posted: 01/09/2012 05:52:06 PM PST
Updated: 01/10/2012 10:15:42 AM PST

The deal to extend BART to the South Bay is finally clearing its last major hurdle after a six-decade struggle.
On Tuesday the U.S. Department of Transportation will recommend to Congress that more than $900 million in federal aid be set aside for BART over the next decadethe entire amount sought by local transportation officials for the $2.3 billion extension from Fremont to San Jose.
“This is it,” said Jack d’Annibale, communications director for Rep. Mike Honda, D-San Jose. “We’re on the goal line going in.”
Congress has 60 days to review the recommendation, but officials say that is a mere formality. Federal money would be parceled out over several years, with $130 million earmarked in the budget President Barack Obama sent to Congress for the next fiscal year.    Full Story
Former preschool teacher and senior Washington State Senator, Patty Murray, chaired the Senate Budget Reduction Committee that failed it’s assignment last November.   She is on the following Agenda 21-related Senate Committees:

Appropriations Committee

Within the Appropriations Committee, Senator Murray is Chairman of the Subcommittee on Transportation, Housing and Urban Development and Related Agencies.   Murray also serves on the following subcommittees

  • Military Construction and Veterans Affairs Subcommittee
  • Energy and Water Development Subcommittee
  • Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education Subcommittee
  • Defense Subcommittee
  • Financial Services and General Government Subcommittee
  • Homeland Security Subcommittee

If she wants to redeem herself for the budget bungling of 2011, this would be a good place to start, IMO.

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