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tv   [untitled]    March 24, 2011 4:30am-5:00am PDT

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we cannot afford to have cars from the peninsula coming up to the neighborhoods and not having a place to park. we have got to keep the train service. there is no alternative for these people other than driving, and that is going to be a disaster for the city. please, what ever you can do, keep those trains running. thank you. >> i'm here on behalf of the many san francisco residents who commute by caltrain and on behalf of the many san francisco members and friends of caltrain. i teach at stanford university and commit to stanford daily by
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caltrain. caltrain is what makes it possible to live in san francisco. teaching, like many professions in the modern world, is not a 9:00 to 5:00 job. we need caltrain to run in the evenings. otherwise, we will have to drive, which is more dangerous and bad for the environment. caltrain has done a fine job of wooing people out of their cars over the past few years. it is less than an hour for me, and a lot of us have realized that caltrain is competitive with driving with regard to time and better for the environment. if caltrain cut service in the short term, you will lose some of the riders you have worked so hard to get. a key question is -- how do we get from here to there with a strong ridership base intact? let's make short-term decisions that support long-term goals by
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keeping evening service. san francisco needs to take a leadership role. take the lead in ending this tit-for-tat budgeting calculus. it does not serve residents or the city's overall best interests. i hope san francisco will support caltrain to the fullest extent possible. supervisor mar: thank you. >> i live in san francisco, and i worked in the public health field, and i take caltrain when i go for meetings and i take it frequently when i meet up with friends. i do not have a car. i have numerous friends who bike to caltrain every day to go down to the peninsula including a
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friend who is an english as a second language teacher, and he also does not have a car. i wanted to mention a couple of reasons why i think caltrain is so important. i believe it encourages walking and bicycling to trains, and i think there are a number of common good reasons including lower carbon dioxide emissions, better air quality. it is also an affordable option for people who cannot afford to drive a. and it decreases traffic for people who must drive, and it lowers gas costs for drivers because the commute is shorter. as far as solutions, i would recommend deferring any cuts and keeping all trains running until may until an emergency two-year solution is worked out. i am committed to advocate for the long term funding for caltrain if short-term solutions are found now. thank you.
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supervisor mar: thank you. please come forward. >> hello. i live in the mission terrace neighborhood of san francisco, and i'm here because i am concerned about potential cuts to caltrain. i have a lot of concerns about many things about it, but i wanted to give you the point of view of someone who lives here, and my husband commutes by caltrain and what it means to us personally. three years ago, we got rid of our second car. we both were working on the peninsula at the time. my husband currently commutes to menlo park. like many jobs, his job is not regular hours. he has normal daytime hours, but sometimes he has to stay late. we are very concerned about cutbacks to later night service and him being stranded at the office. that would be pretty bad. we are also really worrying about having to buy a second car to be able to both be
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employed. we have even started thinking about moving out of the city because most of our work is on the peninsula. the timing is also particularly bad in the short run because of the recession. it has had an impact on our household finances. that is our short-term concern. longer term, we are interested in and concerned about the attractiveness and productivity of san francisco as a place to live. one of the key reasons we moved here from the peninsula was public transportation. we have seen our 26-bus canceled. we are not -- we're now hearing about train service being threatened, and we hope we will find both a short-term and long- term solution to the continuing running of caltrain. thank you. >> i am also a resident of san francisco.
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i have been writing caltrain -- riding caltrain since i first moved here. i have found it an enjoyable and efficient way to get to my job. it is wonderful. like other people here, it has allowed our family to have only one car in san francisco. i have definitely been impressed with the wavy -- the way the caltrain has improved over the years. i have seen great increases in ridership. i have seen lots of efficiency. i would hate to see any of that be lost in the short term. having cut out stations -- my station is one of the ones being proposed to be eliminated -- would increase if i continue to try to bike -- it would increase
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my commit time by at least 10 minutes. i would have to be out of the office by 6:00. if i got a flat on the way to the train station, i could not get home. i would have to call my wife to pick me up with our two kids to bring me back up. we probably would have to get a second car. caltrain is remarkably efficient, like a said. i hate to see any of that disappear. reliability is the cornerstone of any public infrastructure projects. i definitely agree with the electrification, and not reducing funding to electrification. but also, to hear people talk about taking away maintenance money -- often, when i am on the train, which is definitely more than i would like, there are trained failures, and you get stuck on the track for more than
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an hour because the train has broken down -- supervisor mar: thank you. >> sir, i have a question for you. you said that you had -- that your station would be close. can you tell me what station that is? >> it is lawrence station. there is a big gap. lawrence and santa clara would both be closed under the current proposal. >> [inaudible] >> i'd bite -- i bike to fourth and king. supervisor mar: it looks like the san francisco station that is under consideration for closure, of the seven stations is bay shore, that is a san francisco station. ok. >> it is technically in san
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mateo county, but it predominantly serves san francisco. >> i did not prepare any remarks. i'm just going to speak extemporaneously. there is an image that caltrain is for a lot of insufferable yet these to go down to the peninsula -- a lot of insufferable yuppies to go down to the job on the peninsula, but you also have a lot of disadvantaged people. you have people who are gardeners' or day laborers or nurses or what have you who do not have cars and cannot afford cars, and they are the people who cannot show up at a meeting like this because they are working in the middle of the day. i just want to say that for people like myself -- i do not have a car and do not want to get a car and the way i drive, you do not want me to get a car -- it would be devastating to not be able to take caltrain
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down to the peninsula. realistically, if i need to get down to mountain view or someplace like that for a job or for any purpose, santrans is not going to cut it. although the commuter. -- the 80% of the riders who are commuters are fairly important, other people depend crucially on the off hours. so thank you very much. >> good afternoon. i live in the mission. i go to mountain view because i am a part-time consultant there. i used to live and work in mountain view, and i do moved up here because this is way more fun -- i moved up here because this is way more fun than mountain view is. i did it because caltrain made
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it possible. the thought of being up at 5:00 p.m. or 6:00 p.m. is not realistic for me. it would make living here very difficult. my friends on the peninsula, on weekends. they come up because they are not driving. they drink and bars. they go to restaurants. they party. that is all money we would lose if they were driving. that is one person not drinking, and that is a big person. [laughter] i did not have any prepared remarks. i just want you to please do what you can, and a lot of people live in san francisco take caltrain all the time and rely on it. >> i have been living in san francisco for five years.
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all my family is in gilroy, so i ride the train down. just a touch on something that nobody else really touched on -- as far as facilitating bicycle movement, there is no other transportation aside from bart that really allows a lot of bicycles. there's only two bicycles per boss -- per bus. as far as cyclist that committed, that would really hamper that. thank you. >> thank you. i am the president of north mission neighbors, and i'm also a 30-year member and former officer of san francisco tomorrow. i do not own a car. i do travel around the bay area
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extensively for meetings. bay area rail alliance meats in downtown mountain view. i also go to menlo park once or twice a week. i do not own a car. this is a transit first city. the way i get down there is through caltrain, and i hope you do everything in your power to help caltrain continue financially and otherwise. thank you very much. >> good morning, commissioners. i do not ride caltrain because i do not need to, but i do use public transit exclusively. in fact, i got here by public transit. on the way over, i noticed a headline that said something about the clean air act was going to be gutted were reduced or something -- gutted or reduce or something, and that is a concern for everybody, i think.
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if you reduce the ridership on caltrans, you have to consider the cost to our health, to our infrastructure, to our environment. these are all costs we never consider when we talk about cars and what they do to our infrastructure and our environment and our health. those are all costly, so those costs are going to go up. if we have to use cars in lieu of public transit. so i am urging you to please keep in mind these ideas and to support caltrain. thank you. supervisor mar: thank you. is there anyone else who would like to speak? seeing none, public comment is closed. we have a couple questions from commissioner cohen. supervisor cohen: i would like
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to address my question is to staff. i just want to talk a little bit more about the specific bayshore closure of that station. i understand it is in san mateo county. i'm curious to know what kind of out -- have done if any at all to engage with the community -- what kind of outreach you have done if any at all to engage with the community. >> all of the outreach would have been done by the caltrain jpd itself, so why don't i let the staff that is your answer that? >> as we mentioned, there have been a series of public meetings held. we have also had the information posted on our website. we have been receiving e-mail comments. we have collected the information and will present that to the board.
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one of our criteria was to look at ridership. the ridership in the bay shore station is about 137 people a day, so that was in the lower end. our government stations are in the range of 3000 boardings a day. supervisor cohen: i understand the criteria you use is current ridership. i wondered if you took any consideration into the planning that is going on, the work brisbane is doing in terms of developing an executive part as well as housing, which actually neighbors the southern border of san francisco. you know the area i am talking about? >> sure.
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i should clarify what we are recommending is suspension of service. we are not recommending eliminating forever service at these stations. what we see as the package is when a railroad is electrified, we will be able to have a higher level of service, move faster between stations, and stop at every station. that is the goal with an electrified rail road. so there is -- when the railroad is electrified, we would be able to stop at bayshore. supervisor cohen: maybe i missed this in the early presentation. suspension of service -- can you tell me what the timeline is? >> it would be until the electrification of the structure is completed. supervisor cohen: 5 years? >> that project, the five-year project -- >> the electrification is not going to happen for years. we got our act together and
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passed some sort of regional gas tax within the next year or two years, that would allow us to -- >> to have a different service model in place. >> commissioner cohen has a question of two. >> the first thing i need to do is agree with the chair of the board, but i also want to point out that the temporary fix that is going to be in place is a two-year fixed. that is an opportunity to study what else to do. i do not think we can assume that bayshore or any other station will stay close or that this fix we are doing for two years will be replicated into the future until electrification happens. i do want to point out, to your point about the advantages of
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electrification, that there is a little bit of an internal contradiction. taking money from electrification. we want to make sure that money is there to be leveraged with state and federal money later. i do not want to criticize the solution because we think it is a lifesaver and we are supportive of it, but we want to make sure it is understood that cannibalizing capital private money in order to do operations -- it is a problem. we need to recommit ourselves to finding concrete ways of paying for the electrification process, which should be a high priority regionally. it certainly is a high priority for san francisco. >> at our last meeting, we had a big file of letters that have come in from various folks, and we did receive a couple of letters from leadership talking about the exact points you are
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raising, so they are absolutely aware and have communicated that concern to us. supervisor farrell: i think this question goes to you. it strikes me that a lot of this conversation in the budget shortfall is centered around santrans and what is happening there. do we have a future -- an idea of what is happening there? >> yes, i have a perspective. i am also the chief financial officer. it has a structural deficit. what happened is it was a sales tax that was put in place in 1976 to consolidate us companies on the peninsula. then, samtrans got into other business units. they invested in trains, invested in by and supported the bart extension into san mateo county. when we look at the sum of all
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that, we are spending more than the revenues were originally intended to support. samtrans is holding a board workshop on thursday to discuss its financial situations and how that has led to the staff recommendation to reduce the contribution to caltrain. the board is not going to take action on thursday, but is going to take comment. will not actually take action on reducing the contribution until the may or june board meeting. >> so a decline in the sales tax revenue has led to -- >> it was more the additional business units. samtrans was paying to support caltrain. samtrans has $22 million a year in debt service, of which, half of that is for the bart extension into san retail
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county. about $140 million worth of debt that went to support the expansion. when you add it all together and try to support the bus service, staff is making the recommendation to reduce the contribution to caltrain. supervisor mar: thank you. any other questions? supervisor elsbernd supervisor elsbernd: thank you -- supervisor elsbernd. supervisor elsbernd: thank you. i wanted to thank everyone for their work on this presentation and we appreciate having the opportunity to raise this issue in this building. this is something, as i spend time further down the peninsula, that has really risen to the forefront on a lot of people's minds, and i did not feel like we have done a good enough job to ensure that this is a very important issue, not just for san franciscans, but for the
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region. i think this is just the first step and a lot of work for the next couple of years. supervisor mirkarimi: thank you. relative to commissioner elsbernd's comments, over the last seven or eight weeks, we have seen a mushrooming of concerning phone calls coming to us. this is one of the reasons why i wanted to sit in on this particular hearing. i believe san franciscans who rely on caltrain on how -- are now becoming much more aware and cognizant of what is potentially on the chopping block, and i think it regionalizes that concern that much more. i have to tell you i am at the time, we are seeing quite a frequency an increase in the level of concern being articulated, so i'm glad that we are beginning to figure out a way at least what we might be able to do.
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supervisor mar: thank you. colleagues, this was an informational item. and before the presentations. please call item four. >> state and federal legislative update. this is an informational items. >> i have our state legislative advocate to discuss the legislative matrix for it state with you in a moment, but i wanted to give you a very quick update on the legislative trip we just took last week. there, i joined share -- chair mirkarimi, commissioner cohen, and commissioner campos. obviously, the commissioners will have their own impressions
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about those meetings. there was something i brought back from their, the sense that it is a very challenging time, as far as expect a new federal revenues in the next few years. there is an effort under way to try to reauthorize the service transportation act, a six-year bill that provides the majority of transportation money in the country. one of the big stumbling blocks with the bill is the inability so far by congress to identify a new funding source that could help grow the pie, which is the way these six-year bills are usually approved. so that new programs and programs that have been neglected in the previous bill can be addressed. there appears to be very little willingness in congress or at the administration level to propose a new funding source.
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there has been discussion about how the federal gas tax is not going to be raised. so there is now a distinct possibility that if a surface transportation act is marked up for consideration by congress, it may be a smaller amount of money than the current six-year bill. i think that the order of the date is, looking at priorities, and then looking at them again, and really thinking about what can be saved, what can be made more efficient, and what can be cut out in order to get to a consensus bill in congress. i am not terribly optimistic about the possibility of agreement or consensus, given that kind of scenario, but that is what we are looking at now.
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remarkably, i heard a quotation from senator imhoff, ranking committee member on the senate's committee that is looking at this bill. of course, the committee is chaired by senator boxer, which is a huge benefit for us, but still a huge challenge. this quotation, as a republican senator, is that transportation has been essentially all of the non-road building aspects of the programs. the federal programs currently in place are hitchhikers, to the original intent of the highway trust fund, which is essentially the place where all of the gas tax is kept and distributed to projects. you can get a sense of how much of an uphill battle is going to be to have a consensus six-year act, and even if we do get that,
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how much more difficult it is going to be to find the source of priorities that are truly important. we spent an hour earlier this morning with the planning and programs committee talking about pedestrian safety. those have not even been on the radar screen. we had our work cut out for us. but this is not going to be easy as far as money. and relating it to the discussion you just had on caltrain, operating funds are going to be very difficult. although the administration has a very good focus on the state of repair for all transit properties, i think the name of the game is going to be local and regional leadership. to be more efficient and generate new resources or
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advocate at the federal level for new resources, whether they are tolls or new forms of revenue generation or user fees that people in places like the bay area might be able to support where other parts of the country do not, so we can give the federal government the support it needs. that is going to be a challenge as well. i explained earlier that the region has not been able to move forward on the regional gas tax increase because polls have never shown enough support in the region to do that. we may get to the point where those are the only solutions that are viable, but i believe in order to get there, we have to show that when we get new money, we are very efficient with it. efficiency oversight, regulating every gram of capacity out of every dollar is going to be the name of the game. in


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