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Old May 26th, 2012, 01:00 PM   #401
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Originally Posted by Anderson Reis View Post
Hi bayviews,

Thank you for your compliments. When I have new photos on Flickr will inform you and post here on the forum.

Thanks.
Wow you have amazing pics in Flick, please visit the Sao Paulo thread to find basically all Sao Paulo metro and CPTM pics possible, the link is in my signature.
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Old May 27th, 2012, 05:33 PM   #402
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Speaking of BART, here are some clips from the system that I shot two days ago on my trip to SF. Enjoy the amazing acceleration =) The riding videos should be up in a few days.






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Old May 29th, 2012, 05:10 AM   #403
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First of the long riding clips; Enjoy the AC propulsion sounds =)
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Old May 30th, 2012, 04:00 AM   #404
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To be honest, I prefer the PCC's to the Milan Cars. And I'm also iffy on the Breda's.

Couldn't agree more! I've always liked the speedy PCCs with their comfortable padded seats & timeless design. You'd hardly know they were designed in the late 1920s! The Milan Cars are very slow & noisy & their hard wooden seats are the pitts. Their OK though for the tourists.
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Old May 30th, 2012, 10:06 PM   #405
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Old June 2nd, 2012, 10:45 PM   #406
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Source: http://www.delongwine.com/metro-california-wine-map.php
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Old June 2nd, 2012, 11:36 PM   #407
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Wow you have amazing pics in Flick, please visit the Sao Paulo thread to find basically all Sao Paulo metro and CPTM pics possible, the link is in my signature.
Thank you for the invitation.
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Old June 5th, 2012, 07:04 AM   #408
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Freakish incident involving trolleybus wires - a rare incident for North America

San Francisco Chronicle
http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/articl...MN2O1OSOFL.DTL

Quote:
3 hurt as Muni trolley knocks down live wires

Jaxon Van Derbeken, Ellen Huet

Monday, June 4, 2012

(06-04) 18:13 PDT SAN FRANCISCO -- Three people were injured when a Muni trolley bus snapped live electrical lines at Market at Fifth streets during the Monday evening rush hour, authorities said.

The 4:07 p.m. incident forced the closure of Market between Third and Eighth streets and part of Fifth Street, snarling downtown traffic. Crews were unable to shut off live downed electrical lines until just before 5 p.m., and the street was expected to remain closed at least until 7 p.m., authorities said.

Witnesses described hearing a loud, explosive noise when the accident happened.

Initial reports were that the "hub" mounted on the 5-Fulton trolley's pole that includes a transformer became detached and snapped live wires as it fell from the bus, authorities said.

One pedestrian, a woman in her 20s, was hit by one of the wires, said Fire Department spokesman Mindy Talmadge. She and another person were taken to St. Francis Memorial Hospital. The nature of their injuries was unclear, but Talmadge said neither was badly hurt.

Paul Rose, a Muni spokesman, said a third person had also been taken to a hospital.

One of the victims, a pedestrian who was apparently a tourist, was helped by a San Francisco man after being hit by one of the wires.

"I heard a pop and saw one man under the wire," said Hilton Holcomb, 57, who was crossing Fifth at the time of the incident. "I saw sparks and the fire coming through. I pulled him to the side of the road."

Holcomb said the man was conscious but was shaking and complaining that he felt like his hands were on fire.

"I've seen these wires fall before," Holcomb said, "but I've never seen one with explosions and fire."

Jaxon Van Derbeken and Ellen Huet are San Francisco Chronicle staff writers. E-mail: [email protected], [email protected].
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Old June 8th, 2012, 05:47 AM   #409
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Freakish incident involving trolleybus wires - a rare incident for North America

San Francisco Chronicle
http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/articl...MN2O1OSOFL.DTL
No biggie.

The overhead wires were fixed by the line crews & service was restored to normal within a few hours.
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Old June 29th, 2012, 04:33 AM   #410
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Mayor Lee & Leader Pelosi Celebrate $10 Million Federal Transportation & Infrastructure Investment In Mission Bay
Targeted News Service. Washington, D.C.: Jun 22, 2012.
Copyright © Targeted News Service. All Rights Reserved.

The office of the San Francisco Mayor issued the following news release:

Today Mayor Edwin M. Lee joined Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi to announce a federal $10 million grant from the U.S. Department of Transportation to improve transportation infrastructure in the City's Mission Bay neighborhood.

The funding, called Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery (TIGER), will support the Mission Bay/UCSF Hospital Multimodal Transportation Project by completing the remaining backbone transportation infrastructure necessary to support the dynamic Mission Bay community, representing $9 billion in combined investment from the State, the City and the private sector. The San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency, the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF) and San Francisco Building Trades joined the announcement.

"San Francisco's dynamic Mission Bay neighborhood has become an international model for sustainable, transit-oriented development and a hub of innovation and job growth," said Mayor Lee. "The TIGER grant award for Mission Bay speaks to the power of public-private partnerships. I am grateful to President Obama, Leader Pelosi, Secretary LaHood, Lieutenant Governor Newsom and our partners for making this project a success."

Mission Bay is transforming from a blighted, abandoned rail-yard to a mixed-use, transit-oriented innovation center and thriving neighborhood. TIGER funds will complete the street grid, build pedestrian and bicycle facilities, improve the highway off-ramp and construct a short-run loop for the light rail that will enable SFMTA to double service to the area.

"San Francisco has always led the way in infrastructure investments that grow our economy and spur prosperity for local communities," said Leader Pelosi. "This $10 million commitment for transportation at Mission Bay builds on that record: to create jobs in our city and serve as a model for sustainable development nationwide. I was proud to advocate on behalf of this worthy project and applaud Secretary LaHood for his continued commitment to rebuilding America."

"President Obama's support for an America built to last is putting people back to work across the country building roads, bridges and other projects that will mean better, safer transportation for generations to come," said Transportation Secretary LaHood. "TIGER projects mean good transportation jobs today and a stronger economic future for the nation."

"Mission Bay is revitalizing an entire sector of San Francisco and creating jobs. The TIGER grant for this project will build on state and local investment to support this important infrastructure," said Lieutenant Governor Gavin Newsom. "Transit-oriented development surrounding the biotech, medical and educational uses which serve as the core of this growing community provides a model for creating a vibrant and sustainable future for California."

Mission Bay is an economic engine crucial to the region and state which, at full build-out, will be home to a projected 30,000 jobs in critical fields like healthcare, biotech and education. The Mission Bay/UCSF Hospital Multimodal Transportation Infrastructure project is shovel ready, with permits in hand and preparatory work underway, insuring that these funds will be leveraged immediately. Mission Bay includes a 43-acre UCSF research campus and state-of-the-art UCSF hospital serving children, women and cancer patients, now under construction. More than 40 private biotechnology companies - including Bayer, Fibrogen and Nektar - have moved to Mission Bay. The result is a booming economic cluster of statewide and nationwide significance, focused on innovative life science research and development.
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Old June 30th, 2012, 01:40 AM   #411
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Update: This massive blaze that disrupted public transport around the bay area has been ruled arson. But we MUST find out the cause & who set it. I just wonder if Oakland's Mayor Jean Quan is up to this job.

Copyright Bay Area News Jun 21, 2012

By Angela Woodall

Federal authorities on Wednesday morning launched their investigation into the West Oakland fire last week that shut down BART for much of the day and caused a nightmare for commuters.

Members of the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives national response team began sifting through four stories of rubble left behind after the three-alarm blaze tore through the Red Star retirement home.

The site was under construction when it went up in flames in the early morning on June 14. Oakland fire officials say the blaze was "suspicious" and may have been intentionally set. A security guard told his bosses that three men, one who appeared to brandish a weapon, forced him to flee from the building site about 2 a.m. last Thursday -- about 15 minutes before the first flames appeared.

Police are still searching for the three men who confronted the security guard.

ATF estimated the damage at $25 million not including the damage to the West Oakland BART station which has tracks that run very close to the senior center. The fire affected insulators, communication cables, electrical cables and other trackside equipment, according to the ATF, and shut down the commute between the East Bay and San Francisco.

ATF investigators Wednesday began canvassing the area around the fire, interviewing people as well as law enforcement and firefighters for possible leads, spokesman Christian Hoffman said.

Oakland, short of personnel and funding, asked the federal government for ATF assistance.

The agency responded with a 22-person crew including fire investigators, electrical engineers and a forensic chemist based in Walnut Creek. They will be working with Oakland fire and police departments.

The ATF started moving in mobile labs the size of big rigs and heavy equipment Wednesday morning to clear away the tangle of rebar, scaffolding and charred beams. They'll have to take out heaps of drywall. A car still remains inside the blackened hull of a building. Then a team will begin searching for the source of the blaze and try to determine whether it was accidental or intentional.

"ATF's activation of its National Response Team speaks to the seriousness of the fire that occurred in West Oakland," Oakland Fire Chief Teresa Deloach Reed said in a statement, "and the impact it had on thousands of Bay Area residents who were affected by the BART station closure."
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Old July 1st, 2012, 04:53 AM   #412
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Excellent update on a growing movement:

Central Subway Critics: Costly Boondoggle Can Still Be Stopped
By Joe Eskenazi
Published Wed., May 2 2012

Saw it coming...

For some reason we'll never know, ardent foes of the Central Subway chose, today, to hold a press conference in a children's playground. Attendees sat on slides and sidestepped miniature tricycles.

But there was no playing around. And the Central Subway is not a project that will be paid for in play money. The price tag currently stands at some $1.58 billion. Yesterday, the Municipal Transportation Agency Board bandied about the idea of taking out scores of millions of dollars in revenue bonds -- astoundingly, the total hasn't been determined -- to toss onto that pile.

When you're discussing projects funded by overlapping federal, state, and local agencies and the logistics of rail travel, things get complicated. Fast. But the subway critics' message was uncomplicated: The train has not yet left the station. The Central Subway, they say, is not a done deal.

"This is not inevitable," says former Supervisor Aaron Peskin. "It's predicated on receipt of $942 million from Congress. And Congress has yet to appropriate those funds."

In fact, added Judge Quentin Kopp, also a former supervisor and state senator, "The Federal Transportation Authority was supposedly scheduled to approve [the Central Subway funding] last February. They still haven't and won't even consider doing it for another month."

In order for Muni to receive its pile of federal money, a number of conditions must be met beforehand, the presenters noted. Among them:

•The local and state matching funds must be in place;

•Muni must commit to maintaining its pre-2010 service levels in order to receive hefty federal funding to greatly expand the system;

Yesterday's move to take out revenue bonds makes condition No. 1 shaky. While Muni sold the idea as a "reassurance" to the feds because of uncertainty when $61 million in state High-Speed Rail (HSR) funds would be coming San Francisco's way, it's more a question of if the money is available. Quite likely it isn't: Gov. Jerry Brown specifically vetoed allocations of Proposition 1A funding to the Central Subway because he said the project wasn't related to High-Speed Rail. The money to service these bonds -- millions every year -- would come right out of Muni's operating budget. "In order to have revenue bonds, you have to have a source of revenue," notes Peskin. "And that source is the fares we all pay."

The money put into handling these bonds is money Muni isn't putting into maintaining its existing service -- which becomes pertinent to condition No. 2. To his credit, new Muni chief Ed Reiskin has been up front about Muni's service reductions and budget cuts -- though his term "right-sizing" is a bit euphemistic. Muni is already missing dozens of runs every day -- and will have to maintain a much larger system in the event the Central Subway becomes a reality. Muni's current estimates are that the Central Subway will add some $15 million yearly to its operating and maintenance budget -- and that doesn't include servicing the potential bonds.

Finally, notes transit expert and former Muni engineer Jerry Cauthen, Muni and the FTA have entered into paradoxical territory. The FTA is supposedly "reassured" the necessary matching funds necessary for Condition No. 1 are in place via Muni taking out revenue bonds. But by putting millions into those bonds and siphoning money away from the existing system, Muni is violating Condition No. 2 by degrading service.

Incidentally, Cauthen pointed out, ridership projections for the subway have dropped from around 100,000 a day to 35,100, per Muni's latest numbers. And that 35,100 total assumes future CalTrain riders will transfer onto the Central Subway from Fourth and King -- which, per the current plan, they won't need to do in order to get downtown.

"I am a former supporter of the Central Subway," notes Peskin. "I voted in favor of that project when it was a mere $647 million project before becoming a $1.58 billion project. I voted for the project when it had a much higher estimate of ridership, there would be connectivity with the underground on Market Street, and with High-Speed Rail. None of these things has come to pass.

"Let's be clear," he continued. "The Federal Transportation Authority knows this project is a boondoggle. ... Many city leaders and experts know that. Now is the time for us to stand up and say this is wrong and it's not too late."
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Old July 1st, 2012, 05:36 AM   #413
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The Central Subway will indeed be a boondoggle if it merely ends in Chinatown. It will be a lot more useful and will generate a shitload more support if they dig on to Sausalito.
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Old July 1st, 2012, 07:16 AM   #414
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The Central Subway will indeed be a boondoggle if it merely ends in Chinatown. It will be a lot more useful and will generate a shitload more support if they dig on to Sausalito.
You & many other transit supporters will no doubt be pleased to know that the US House of Reps in DC has just defeated Fed Funding for the Central Subway Boondoogle.

No doubt, you should hear more details in the local papers over the next few days.

That will free up lots of funding for far better, cost-effective transit projects in SF, including Chinatown, & around the Bay Area, including possible connections up to Marin.

Then your biggest challenge is dealing with those Marin Nimbys!
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Old July 1st, 2012, 11:24 PM   #415
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Sure the feds have cut it, but somehow, someway, the Bay Area will fund it anyways. Just look at the BART OAC.
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Old July 2nd, 2012, 03:34 AM   #416
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Sure the feds have cut it, but somehow, someway, the Bay Area will fund it anyways. Just look at the BART OAC.
Very wishful thinking.

The House vote says volumes about the poor quality of this boondoogle.

Just look around, this isn't 1999. Neither the state nor the region are in any position to replace what they wrongly bet would be coming from the Feds.
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Old July 4th, 2012, 03:20 AM   #417
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The San Francisco Chronicle (California)

July 2, 2012 Monday

North Beach alliance battles subway tunnel;
CITY INSIDER

BYLINE: John Wildermuth

The long-awaited Central Subway is slated to go to North Beach, and plenty of local restaurateurs and businesspeople are mighty unhappy about it.

It's not that they wouldn't love to see the subway funnel even more tourists and transit riders into the neighborhood's already crowded shops and dining places. But while the subway tunnel will extend past the proposed Chinatown station at Clay and Stockton streets to Washington Square in North Beach, the only thing North Beach will get is a hole in the ground where the tunnel boring machines can exit.

No station. No tourists. No new flow of cash. But plenty of noise, dust and disruption.

The Municipal Transportation Agency, which is building the $1.6 billion subway, has said all along that the ultimate goal is to extend the system from the Caltrain station at Fourth and King streets under Moscone Center, Union Square and Chinatown and eventually to North Beach and Fisherman's Wharf.

For the merchants around Washington Square, "ultimate" and "eventually" are the key words.

"The only promise we're getting is chaos and destruction for two years, with nothing to show for it in the end," said Marc Bruno, a community organizer who is putting together an effort to block - or at least revise - the construction plan.

At a meeting Friday at SS Peter and Paul's Church, a coalition of businesspeople and local residents talked about filing suit against the city to stop the construction effort, which could begin this month.

"I've been here 42 years, and I've never seen anything like this," said Lorenzo Petroni, owner of the North Beach Restaurant on Stockton Street. "They will screw business up in the neighborhood."

The bulk of the local construction work will take place on Columbus Avenue alongside Washington Square, the unofficial center of North Beach. While city officials say the only digging will take place in the short block between Union and Filbert streets, merchants argue that the work will create a ripple effect of problems for many of the neighborhood stores and restaurants.

"Everyone in a four-block radius of Columbus will have their business adversely affected," said Daniel Macchiarini, a local gallery owner and board member of the North Beach Business Association.

Traffic along busy Columbus Avenue will be cut from four to two lanes for at least part of the construction period, although transportation agency officials say they will work to limit any disruption.

The complaints are having an effect. In a letter Tuesday to Ed Reiskin, head of the agency, Board of Supervisors President David Chiu complained about the "nonexistent" level of community outreach and asked if the huge tunnel boring machines could be left underground rather than driven out onto Columbus Avenue.

Mayor Ed Lee said Wednesday that while there's no money for a North Beach subway station now, he'd be happy to sit down and work with the merchants.

Just last week, Municipal Transportation Agency workers were handing out "Dear Neighbor" flyers in North Beach, warning that construction would begin July 11 and that people should "expect an increase in noise, dust and traffic."

But on Thursday, Reiskin met with the North Beach merchants at Original Joe's restaurant and told them that he had "hit the pause button" on the construction plan to allow time for more discussions.

The delay was welcome, but there still isn't a lot of trust over the city's plans for North Beach.

"The only reason they're listening to us is because we're going to be suing them," one merchant grumbled.
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Old July 4th, 2012, 05:53 AM   #418
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To be honest, I prefer the PCC's to the Milan Cars. And I'm also iffy on the Breda's.
I kinda feel sorry that the Bredas ended up in transit agency as poorly managed as Muni. As opposed to an agency where the "project managers" actually have engineering degrees & the equipment is well maintained, etc.

This was a known problem as reported over a decade ago:


SF Weekly (California)

December 9, 1998, Wednesday

Rewarding Failure;

Streetcars that are too wide, long, and heavy (136 @ $3.5 million per). Bus engines that don't fit and are scrapped (20 @ $116,000 a pop). Manhole covers that take 10 engineers and three months to design (cost: $243,000). Muni's management has produced such a distinguished series of suspicious boondoggles that the question has to be asked: Is it incompetence, or something worse?

BYLINE: Second in a two-part series by Peter Byrne

In August, Muni's subway had the transit equivalent of a brain hemorrhage. Muni's computerized controls went haywire, and its trains lurched about the Market Street tunnel like stroke victims. Muni shuddered to infuriating halts for weeks.

Just two months after the subway meltdown, though, Muni General Manager Emilio Cruz coolly shared a wooden dais with the five mayoral appointees who serve as the Public Transportation Commission. Exuding the confidence seen usually on the faces of babies, astronauts, and highly paid publicists, Cruz bragged that 33 trains an hour were cruising through the Muni underground. The commissioners smiled and nodded. More trains were moving through the tunnel; the crisis was over.

Suddenly, an outrageous act of rebellion was perpetrated. Ray Antonio, president of the Muni drivers union, stood to deliver a fierce correction. "But those are only one-car trains," Antonio almost shouted. "They used to be four-car trains, but now they are only one-car trains." The implication was clear: More people were not moving through the Market Street tunnel, and even Muni's drivers could only bear so much commuter hell.

Cruz and his commissioners stared at Antonio as if he had spent the last week under a wet rock. "Most riders would rather have a shorter trip standing, than a longer trip sitting," Cruz explained in soothing tones. Antonio deflated and sat. Newspaper reporters yawned. The commissioners watched Cruz for cues.

Ready to move on, Commission President H. Welton Flynn asked, "Do you feel good about Breda?" Cruz nodded sagely. Flynn sighed, apparently in relief, and the commission voted to sign over another $167 million to Breda Costruzioni Ferroviarie S.p.A. of Pistoia, Italy. Without a whisper of dissent, the San Francisco Municipal Railway had spent another huge sum of money to buy 59 more Breda streetcars -- even though the Bredas long ago proved themselves to be a very bad fit for the Muni system.

Muni's subway suffered a stroke this summer because two of its main elements -- the Alcatel computer software meant to control trains in the tunnel, and the new Breda cars supposedly designed to work with that control system -- did not work very well, singly or together. In fact, in the wake of the Muni Metro disaster, Mayor Willie Brown threatened to sue Alcatel, and since then he has publicly savaged Muni's purchase of Breda streetcars.

The mayor's criticisms were understated by many orders of magnitude.

Breda's "light" rail vehicles are, public records show, too heavy, too long, too wide, and too noisy to work acceptably on Muni tracks. Also, they are far more expensive than comparable streetcars.

Alcatel's train control system -- according to contract amendments on file with Muni -- was unproven in service when it was acquired by the transit agency and outdated before it was unpacked. It has already cost at least $17 million more than its original budget had forecast.

Both Alcatel and Breda were shepherded into San Francisco by a McLean, Va., consulting firm, Booz Allen Hamilton. Both contracts were awarded and extended under unusual circumstances. What's more, under its contract with Muni, Booz Allen is paid for supervising Breda and Alcatel in a way that might have fit well in the novel Catch-22: The longer the Breda and Alcatel projects take, the more costly they become, the more money the consultant who recommended the Breda and Alcatel deals will make.

The Breda and Alcatel projects are not anomalies, and Booz Allen Hamilton is not necessarily a lone bad guy. Public documents show that Muni's long-range management decisions have produced incredibly questionable results for some time, whether Booz Allen was or was not involved. For every Booz Allen-recommended, glitch-happy train control system it acquires, Muni creates several other boondoggles entirely on its own.

Muni's top managers and the Public Transportation Commission hire consultants and make final decisions for the transit agency; they, therefore, bear responsibility for Muni's track record in long-term management. That record is full of overpriced, unworkable purchases and expensive, complicated plans that never seem to work, and are subsequently replaced by other complicated plans that do not work. Muni's long-term management record is so bad, in fact, that any reasonable analysis winds up asking the question: Is this incompetence or something worse?

As the 1990s dawned, Muni planners were eager to get rid of the streetcars then in use, built by Boeing-Vertol, the helicopter division of the Seattle-based Boeing Co. The Boeing streetcars had a history of frequent breakdowns and were themselves widely recognized as a Muni boondoggle. Excited planners envisioned acquiring a fleet of smart streetcars guided by the invisible hand of a computer. The new cars would be a special boon to the Market Street subway, where all of Muni's streetcar lines merge: Under central computer control, a train a minute would glide through the Muni underground, transforming the 100,000-passenger crush of morning and evening rush hours into a pleasant commuting experience.

The streetcars Muni eventually bought, at $3.5 million apiece, were made by the Italian manufacturing firm of Breda Costruzioni Ferroviarie S.p.A., but neither the cars nor the decisions to buy them were particularly smart.

Breda's streetcars are too big to comfortably fit Muni's tunnels. Yes, it's true: The streetcars, supposedly custom designed for San Francisco's system, are too wide (some platforms had to be shaved); too heavy (the extra weight, and a lopsided distribution of that heft, is destroying Muni's 70-year-old rails); and too long.

The length problem carries its own special irony: The Breda rail cars were bought, purportedly, to mesh with a computer control system that would move more trains and more passengers through the subway at peak hours. Because the rail cars are two feet too long, four-car Breda trains will not fit in front of several Muni station platforms. Therefore, even if a central control system could move more trains through the Market Street tunnel, the trains would each be one car shorter -- and fewer passengers would move.

The Breda streetcars have other problems. Government records say the vehicles' sliding doors break down constantly. Also, because the doors are on the outside of the car, there is a dangerous 5-inch gap between the door step and Muni platforms. The emergency brakes are so suspect that safety inspectors have reduced the allowable train speed from 50 miles per hour to 30 miles per hour. Excessive weight and faulty engineering cause high- and low-frequency noises that irritate, even enrage, entire districts of the city.

Why would Muni buy these pigs in the poke, and keep on buying them, long after the agency knew they were wrong for its system?

When it comes to managing billions of dollars of capital projects, Muni bureaucrats report directly to Booz Allen Hamilton Inc. A globally connected consulting firm, Booz Allen is a major player in public works management from Washington, D.C., to Kuala Lumpur; the firm is charging Muni about $30 million for consulting on the Breda streetcars and the Alcatel guidance system.

Under its contract with Muni, Booz Allen handles capital procurements from start to finish. The firm writes specifications and bid proposals, and influences the selection of contractors. It manages the nitty-gritty work on a daily basis; in large part, Muni officials sit back and sign off on Booz Allen invoices. And the more time a project takes, the more Booz Allen bills -- at $200 an hour.

There are a dozen major streetcar manufacturing companies in the world. In 1991, Muni advertised for a company to manufacture 35 customized streetcars. Booz Allen Hamilton created the streetcar design specifications, and guided Muni through the bidding process.

It was a very strange process.

A German, a Japanese, and an Italian firm all sought the contract. The Japanese company, C. Itoh & Co. Inc., put in the lowest bid -- about $150,000 per car less than Breda, the next lowest bidder. Price, of course, is not the only factor evaluated in deciding whether to purchase technology as complicated as that used in rail cars. Muni's bid specifications deemed a proven track record in making streetcars and the ability to meet certain technical specifications to be as important as price.

Public records show that Breda's bid was higher than C. Itoh's, and that Breda had less streetcar manufacturing experience than the Duewag Corp., the German firm in the running for the contract.

C. Itoh's low bid was disqualified on a minor technicality. (To this day, city officials are at a loss to explain exactly why the low bidder lost.) With C. Itoh out of the way, city bureaucrats wrote that the remaining two bids, by Breda and the German Duewag Corp., were so close in terms of price and technical promises that either could be chosen. Only after a series of meetings between the two remaining bidders and Booz Allen Hamilton did a victor emerge. In December 1991, Muni awarded the streetcar contract to Breda -- paying $2.5 million for each of the 35 custom-designed streetcars.

This was the beginning of a very good deal for Breda. Muni soon ordered another 42 cars at premium prices -- up to an additional $355,000 for each car. Eventually, Muni ordered 101 additional streetcars (for a total of 136) at an average of $3.47 million for each car -- or 30 percent more per car than was originally bid. At this price, the Muni Bredas may well be the most expensive streetcars on the planet.

After the first contract was let, the subsequent streetcar purchases were never put out to competitive bidding. In government-speak, the 101 additional streetcars were "sole-sourced," or simply added onto Breda's original contract. The lack of competition showed: Each batch of Bredas cost more, per car, than the last.

While San Francisco ended up paying nearly $3.5 million apiece for its streetcars, San Diego was buying light rail cars from Siemens-Duewag for a bit over $1.5 million each. (The federal government's National Transit Database shows that the average cost of a new light rail car in America is currently $2.381 million, or $1 million less than San Francisco pays.)

There were other odd fiscal facets of the Breda contract, including Muni's subsidization of a Breda factory at Pier 80 in San Francisco (see sidebar). But the real question is not why Muni is paying so much to Breda, but why it keeps buying Breda streetcars at all.

According to public records, the "custom" design of the Breda streetcars contained large and small errors that did not become apparent until the cars were test run on the rails in San Francisco. Some flaws were fixed, after expensive modifications. To address the weight problem that generates neighborhood-disturbing rumbles and eats Muni's track, for example, Breda is retrofitting its 38-ton cars with "softer-riding" suspensions.

Breda officials declined to be interviewed for this article. In an interview last week, Cruz said he was unaware that the Breda cars are too long, but that the Bredas' weight problems were being addressed. Attempts to obtain more detailed comment this week from him were unsuccessful.

But if Muni keeps using the Italian rail cars, San Francisco will have to learn to live with some Breda problems. Muni can do little to further reduce the soul-jarring whine that emanates from the heart of the Breda motor.

And there is no way to amputate two feet of length from a Breda streetcar. And so there is no way that $472 million of streetcars will ever fix the subway problem they were supposedly designed to solve.

Ten years ago, Muni planners dreamed of transit utopia. Sleek carbon-steel street-cars would speed through the underground in multicar trains that would come and go automatically, guided by omniscient central control.

Today, however, lone or paired streetcars straggle, very occasionally, into packed subway stations, and waiting thousands crush one another in the rush to load the steel cans.

What went wrong?

Simply put, Muni tried to swallow more than it could digest. Along with building an entirely new fleet of streetcars, Muni set about revolutionizing its signal system by acquiring Alcatel's automatic train control software. If it worked, the control system would be a wonder. In practice, it has been a disaster.

In the Alcatel system, a cable is laid down the middle of Muni's underground tracks. Each streetcar is equipped with a transponder (basically a radio that sends and receives signals from the cable). Using these signals, software running on a simple personal computer keeps track of and -- in theory -- drives trains in the subway from afar. The driver becomes peripheral, even as computer peripherals become the driver.

This supermodern technology was meant to replace the 20-year-old electromechanical relay signaling system -- a system that controlled tunnel traffic lights, which were obeyed by train operators. The relay system had worked just fine in the Muni Metro, and could have been upgraded relatively cheaply. Instead, Muni chose to graft Alcatel's expensive wares onto Muni's humancentric signal system -- which turned out to be a very bad idea, indeed.

There are a number of technical reasons why the Alcatel signal system has never worked properly. Public records show that the system contained design flaws, and that there were manufacturing flaws in some of the equipment used. But it is also now clear that the Alcatel system installed in San Francisco had never been proven in practice, anywhere in the world. To this day, the system remains an experimental product.

So why did Muni buy an experimental guidance system -- especially when the agency's own proposal explicitly states that the system had to have been operated successfully elsewhere?

Booz Allen Hamilton is responsible for "selling" Muni on Alcatel. After designing Muni's bid requirements for a train control system, Booz Allen insisted that only Alcatel Canada Inc. could do the job. This insistence, at times, bore at least the appearance of bias.

Alcatel's competitors were pre-emptorily disqualified because they would not promise there would be no disruption when the new signal system came online. AEG Westinghouse's bid, for example, was thrown out because the company would not swear that its software could simultaneously control the Boeing and Breda cars during the changeover from old to new signals.

Alcatel, on the other hand, solemnly vowed that the transition would be painless. But Alcatel would not guarantee that its software could keep track of 40 trains at one time, another bid requirement. At this point Alcatel could have been disqualified, too. But rather than toss Alcatel, Booz Allen wrote a report -- after bids were opened -- that recommended an easing of the 40-trains-at-once standard.

Another requirement for getting the job involved past performance: The software had to have been successfully proved in service for two years. Booz Allen Hamilton insisted that a train control system Alcatel was installing in London, England, for the Docklands Development Corp.'s new light railway met this requirement.

Muni and Booz Allen failed to mention to federal officials one unusual fact: The Docklands Railway was almost a toy railroad, when compared to the Muni Metro. At the time, the Docklands system used a driverless train moving a maximum of only 5,000 passengers an hour. At rush hour, Muni has to move 20 times that many riders.

On the basis of Booz Allen's lobbying for Alcatel, the Federal Transit Administration allowed Muni to disqualify AEG Westinghouse's bid and to give the contract to Alcatel on a "sole-source" basis -- that is, on the contention that no other responsible company could provide the system.

Shortly after Muni hired Alcatel, Alcatel's Docklands system crashed. Docklands hired Booz Allen to help fix the system, but to this day, the Docklands train control software is rife with bugs.

And so, of course, is Muni's.

Booz Allen was able to direct the contract toward Alcatel because -- as with the Breda streetcars -- Booz Allen designed the specifications and micromanaged the selection process for the contract.

With the Breda bids, one of the two major contenders was disqualified on a minor technicality. With the Alcatel bid, the winner was allowed to promise more than it was capable of delivering.

Years later, the Alcatel system failed its most crucial test -- guiding a mixed fleet of Boeing and Breda streetcars through the Market Street tunnel while the transition between signal systems was made. When Emilio Cruz was interviewed by Rescue Muni, a nonprofit watchdog group, about why Muni hired Alcatel, he said, "We were sold a bill of goods."

Alcatel representatives did not respond to phone calls seeking comment for this article.

A spokesperson for Booz Allen Hamilton confirmed that the Breda streetcars are too long for the Muni Metro and are overweight. The spokesperson confirmed that Booz Allen drew up the specifications for the Breda cars according to Muni's parameters and oversaw the specifications for the Alcatel system, which still does not work properly. When asked why there were problems with measurements for the streetcars, the spokesperson replied, "Those reasons are lost in the dawn of time." The spokesperson also said, however, that the streetcar contract could have been put out to bid after problems cropped up with the Breda vehicles, but "Muni asked us not to."
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Old July 7th, 2012, 01:39 AM   #419
bayviews
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The San Francisco Chronicle (California)

May 21, 2012 Monday
FINAL Edition

Muni slow to use cameras funded by feds after 9/11

BYLINE: Phillip Matier and Andrew Ross, Chronicle Columnists

Muni has been awarded more than $37 million in federal homeland security and other grants over the past five years for cameras to safeguard its buses, rail stations and maintenance yards - but it turns out the transit agency has installed fewer than 50 of them.

An additional 514 are still sitting in warehouses - 300 of those were not installed because cash-strapped Muni diverted the $5 million needed to pay for that work to track repairs.

"The funds were diverted to high-priority areas," said Municipal Railway spokesman Paul Rose. Like it or not, he added, "we did have to make the call to do it."

Like many public agencies, Muni rushed for federal dollars to bolster security after 9/11. Soon the money was rolling in from Washington.

To date, however, Muni has spent only about $9 million of the $37.5 million it collected. Most of it paid for 557 digital video recorders, plus an assortment of lenses, fiber-optic cable line and other equipment.

By our math, that works out to more than $16,000 per camera.

Muni was to have installed 257 of the cameras at bus yards and garages as older equipment wore out.

So far, however, only 43 have been hooked up -largely because the old ones are still working, Muni says.

So why buy the new cameras at all? Muni officials say the federal grant that paid for the bulk purchase wouldn't have been available forever - and passing it up would have meant time-consuming individual purchases each and every time an old camera broke.

In the case of the 300 still-unopened station cameras - which were purchased in February and were supposed to be up and running by now - the installation money went into track and signal upgrades at busy St. Francis Circle and the Church and Duboce intersection.

Muni says the feds signed off on the money transfer.

At the same time, there's a lot more camera work to come. Muni plans to install 10,000 cameras on trains and buses over the next two years, which officials say will cost an additional $10 million - on top of the remaining $28.5 million that Muni has collected from the feds.

According to Rose, Muni has identified funding sources for all the camera installations and is getting ready to hire an outside firm for the job. Once again, however, it will need federal approval to dip into different pots of grant money.

Muni General Manager Ed Reiskin, the former city public works chief who took over at the transit agency last summer, says he's focused on "looking forward" and hopes to get the cameras up and running as they were intended.

"I see lots of areas where projects start and money gets pulled for priorities, and the projects stall," Reiskin said. "Some of it is probably legitimate, but sometimes you need to make your project plan, get your funding and get it implemented."

As for how effective all these cameras are?

Just last month, a 62-year-old man in a wheelchair at the Civic Center Station was struck and killed by a train. Investigators trying to find out how it happened checked the station's surveillance camera for answers - only to discover it hadn't worked for about four days.
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Old July 11th, 2012, 09:14 PM   #420
Anderson Reis
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I found curious and interesting photos of BART:

image hosted on flickr


image hosted on flickr


image hosted on flickr


image hosted on flickr


image hosted on flickr


image hosted on flickr


image hosted on flickr



In this last one in particular, the mask is not written BART has a logo, trademark or design. Does anyone know what it is?
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