Will Campaign Silly Season Endanger BART Bond This Fall?

Trigger Warning: This is a Semi-Political Post, which may feature opinions that may be upsetting to some readers. If you do not wish to read such a post, please go elsewhere, and come back later!

In an election year it is expected that people running for office will do silly things to get noticed. Some might make grindhouse-style movie trailers for their campaigns, others might put out a funny press release, or send endless e-begging emails, and so on. Such incidents are worth a minor bump on the Twitter/Facebook/Imgur hyper-fast news cycle, but in the end don’t mean much. That is, unless they can be used to crash a billion-dollar bond for a regional transit system needed to keep things movie.

Earlier today one of the (many) people I follow on Twitter posted some silly nonsense about a “proposal” to build a new BART station at Mission/30th. This is an old idea, one studied over and over again, and the subject of late night twitter transit nerd marathons of What Might Have Been Or Be. That’s fine, and if someone running for office wants to have a late night “beer and transit plans” rap session about it, have at it.

No one would care, since there is not one dime allocated to this so-called “plan” and the idea that half a billion dollars would fall out of the sky for another subway station in San Francisco is insane. After billions in federal funds went to the (questionably managed) Central Subway project, this is about as likely to happen as an army of unicorn ponies pooping vegan gluten free treats to solve world hunger.

A few angry NIMBYs are caterwauling about mere bus transit lanes that had the nerve to speed up transit on Mission Street. Imagine the sound of NIMBY screams over messy subway station construction.

The problem is that such chatter has the effect of possibly damaging chances for the BART bond on the ballot this fall, which is needed to repair and maintain the system we already have. This bond requires a 66% majority YES vote to pass, not just in San Francisco, but all counties in BART’s jurisdiction.

It is unfortunate coverage has already suggested that the bond money could pay for this San Francisco fantasy. That’s impossible – any cursory reading of the bond clearly indicates that there’s not one dime for this press-release silliness, here in SF, or anywhere.

This is a time of Peak Nonsense nationally, and with a long list of ballot measures, local state and national elections for people to sift through, adding confusion that could endanger a regional transportation resource goes beyond campaign silliness and into “word salad with damaging consequences” territory. It should make people wonder why any elected officials who claim to be “friends of transit” would participate in it.

Candidates for local office would be wise to keep a lid on extreme silliness and instead address real needs local offices have Actual Jurisdiction over. That’s not as fun as making up plans for fantasy BART stations – but it’s also a lot less harmful.

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When Muni Works It Works Great!

Last night I went to see the new Star Trek movie at the Sundance Kabuki. The movie was ok as remakes/reboots/we are afraid of new ideas out of Hollywood go. It was nice to sit in the 21-over balcony at the theater, though.

Took the 1 California to the 44 stop and the timing was perfect. Late night transfers aren’t always smooth no matter how much you try to time them, so it was nice to be on my way home quickly vs. waiting out late at night like the calm before the Purge…

#muni was kind enough to have a bus waiting for me when I got off the 1 California tonight

A photo posted by G. Dewar (@njudah) on

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Today In Domino Theory, Muni Edition….

A funny thing happened on my way to Amazing Fantasy to pick up some comics…I walked up the street and noticed the N was sitting silently at 8th and Irving:


Normally if the N hits a car or something, I’d hear a solid “thunk” or something but neither I, nor anyone at surrounding businesses heard anything, it just sorta happened. As it turned out a car making a turn misjudged the approaching N train and as always, in a battle between multi-ton LRV and small car, guess who won:


Again, as is the case with these, no one was injured and while the car took some damage, it’s nothing that can’t be repaired. Say what you will about “auto safety regulations” but I’ve seen enough of these accidents to know that you can get in one and your likelihood of dying has been considerably reduced, due to auto design. The N didn’t take any damage beyond cosmetic damage.

As the accident was resolved by police, fire and SFMTA staff, a delay began to back up all outbound trains. It is fortunate that this happened mid afternoon, not at rush hour as you see the trains pile up:


Once again, one small situation caused by some questionable driving tactics by an auto had the effect of knocking out all service on the line for about an hour or so. Shuttle buses were deployed, but the residual delays and confusion went on for hours. Even now, as I write this at 6:45 pm, shuttle buses are still operating on the line to get service back up to speed. Adam on Twitter (whom I must have walked right by while investigating this close to home) put it best:

There’s really not a lot Muni or the SFMTA can do to “prevent” this – the accident wasn’t their fault, and there’s really no way to prevent someone from making a move in front of an LRV that’s Not Smart, regardless of signs, common sense, lights and so on. Regardless, it had a ripple effect that lasted for several hours.

Compounding this was the fact that there was really no way to tell people downtown, or along the line in either direction what was happening or for how long the delay would last. The SFMTA did tweet the incident and updates, but not everyone has Twitter or uses it all day, and none of that matters if you’re out doing your thing and then suddenly you have to switch to a bus at Duboce/Church without any warning, etc. Even under the best of circumstances, a lot of people in these situations are going to be left wondering WTF is happening, and I’m not sure that “apps” would be the solution here.

Anyway, another day on the N. I did get some good comics today, making up for the fact I’m not going to the San Diego Comic Convention this year.

I’ll be posting some thoughts on the cornucopia of political silliness affecting transit riders coming from the Board of “Supervisors” later on. Until then, be safe out there!

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A History Blast From Eric Fischer: The Irving vs Judah Debate of 1926

Eric Fischer is one of those local people who is always posting something of interest, be it all the plans for Bay Area that never got made to findings in the many historical archives about the Bay Area.

Today he posted this one about zoning for Judah and Irving Streets as the Sunset Tunnel neared copmletion. If only those people knew then that in 90 years it would be renamed the “Westside Treat District,” where foreign chains could populate the area, unencumbered by the rules everyone else has to follow.

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