San Francisco: “The Fuse Has Been Lit”

Updated Jan 16

The next round of San Francisco service cuts have been announced, or as commenter Ted King puts it, “the fuse has been lit.”  For local coverage see the SF Chronicle and Streetsblog SF.

Here are some of the most interesting points from the budget summary (via Streetsblog, not the Chronicle):

Although the budget hole to be closed is $16.9m, the service cuts are only $4.8m.  That’s impressive.  They achieve so much non-service savings by a whole pile of cuts to other things, designed to have wide but manageable impacts.  Labor takes a ping: not just 0.7m in “concessions,” but also charges for parking at the workplace.  (Since a huge share of the drivers report to work around 4:30 in the morning, many don’t have good transit options.) Continue Reading →

San Francisco: Those Service Cuts Were Fun! Let’s (not) Do It Again!

In posts here and here (with leftovers here), I praised the way San Francisco MTA crafted the budget-driven service cuts that went into effect last month. By deleting whole lines and line segments that had alternative services nearby, they managed to reduce service without reducing many people’s abundant access. So the implementation went fairly well.

Unfortunately, it looks like more cuts will be needed in 2010, made worse by Governor Schwarzenegger’s raids on state transit funding. So it’s understandable but distressing to hear the MTA Board’s conversation going along these lines: Continue Reading →

San Francisco: Loss of Empty Buses Mourned

26-36Streetsblog San Francisco reports on the first day of the most substantial bus network changes in 30 years, including the first Monday without the 26-Valencia bus line, which was finally abolished after a century of semi-redundant operations.

As I explained here, the 26 ran infrequently along Valencia Street, just one block west of very frequent services on Mission Street, so it’s long been the case that if you don’t see a 26 coming, it’s usually faster to walk to Mission than wait for the next 26. Continue Reading →

San Francisco: Sometimes Cuts Are an Improvement

Most North American transit agencies are cutting service this year, but there’s a huge difference in how they’re doing it.  My last post discussed the painful cuts happening at Tri-Met in Portland.  Here’s better news out of San Francisco, where service is being trimmed and shaped not just to save money, but to create a simpler, more frequent, and arguably fairer network.  The changes are informed by a long study and outreach effort called the Transit Effectiveness Project, which is finally bearing some fruit in this year’s harsh desert of funding. Continue Reading →

Portland: Counting by 17

Frequentservice portland As hard budget shortfalls sweep across North America, transit agencies are making all kinds of changes to balance the budget.  Portland’s Tri-Met tried at first to cut low-ridership services, but as the red ink keeps flowing they’ve finally had to cut something every urbanist should care about.  They’re cutting the core Frequent Network, the service that’s designed to meet the needs of people who want to get around the city easily all day, with spontaneity and a sense of personal freedom. Continue Reading →