"Akit is the man. He knows Clipper." (spenta)
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"Everyone's favorite volunteer public policy consultant..." (Eve Batey, SF Appeal)
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(Empowered Follower)
"If anyone at City Hall wants to make public transit better for all San Franciscans, it would be wise to follow Akit religiously...
or, better yet, give him a job."
(Brock Keeling, SFist)

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Fail Alert: Does the San Francisco Chronicle Cost Just 3/4 of a Cent? [Photo]

Chronicle Error Fail

Here's a peculiar photo I took a few weeks back. I was having a nice scoop of sherbet at Joe's Ice Cream and was looking at the newspaper machines just in front of the establishment. The Chronicle's yellow machine said the price of a Monday-Saturday newspaper is just ".75¢" which made me think about that price.

.75¢ means 3/4 of one penny (or $0.0075); if you remove the dot, 75¢ means $0.75 or 3/4 of one dollar.

If you seem confused, so was I. Here's an easier way to think of it: Let's say the sticker price on the machine said 1.75¢, then that would mean it would be one cent plus 3/4ths of a cent to buy a newspaper.

Hmmm, I wonder if I cut a quarter of a penny and drop it in the machine, would I get a newspaper? Okay, it's just a fun question and blog post, and we all know it costs $0.75 to buy a paper, and the machine doesn't accept pennies.

Even then, some crazed-up lawyer could think about suing the Chron for misleading customers by not selling the paper for the advertised price.

I have a good eye to seek out fails!

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Local Survival Guide to the PGA Charles Schwab Golf Tournament at Harding Park (October 31st to November 6th)

Parking Hog/Fail CA 5SYT671

It's that time again folks, the PGA tour is coming back to San Francisco's Harding Park golf course for another round of televised golf, and that means for us locals, time for us to prepare for war.

Event basics:
  • The PGA's Charles Schwab Championship Cup tournament will be going on from October 31st to November 6th.
  • While the event organizers mentions it is from November 3rd to 6th, Harding Park will be occupied by the PGA as early as the 31st for practice rounds. The public can access the golf course to watch the Pro-Am and professionals play starting November 2nd. See schedule by clicking here.

What Spectators Should Know

The PGA's event website has some information. Unfortunately, the SFMTA's website has ZERO information about planned road closures, traffic problems, or transit re-routes.

Public entrance:
The only public entrance to the golf tournament is via Sunset Circle (the huge parking lot) at the north end of Lake Merced where Lake Merced Blvd. and Sunset Blvd. meets. See golf course map by clicking here.

The only event sponsored parking is at Stonestown Galleria/Mall. They charge $15 a day and will provide free bus shuttles to and from the gate. Click here for parking/transit map (PDF document).

Unofficially, spectators can take a punch at street parking, but please be kind to the residents and SF State students who normally utilize street parking. If you dare to use the SF State parking lot, you are going to piss off a lot of SF State students and employees.

Public transit:
The PGA is encouraging the public to take either Muni Metro's L-Taraval line to the end of the line (SF Zoo) and walk to Sunset Circle, or take BART to Daly City station and catch a free shuttle bus. Click here for parking/transit map (PDF document).

The public can also take the following Muni lines: 29-Sunset stops a short distance from Sunset Circle. 23-Monterey stops at the Sunset Boulevard overpass and is a short walk south on Sunset.

Do not park your car at Daly City BART and catch the free shuttle to the golf tournament. Parking at the station is restricted to BART passengers because they register their parking stall number at the machines in the paid area of the station. Those abusing the parking system will get caught, fined, and/or towed.

Watch out for parking restrictions in the area. While the SFMTA's ISCOTT board hasn't approved any tow away zones at this time, look in the area for temporary tow away signage, one or two hour neighborhood parking zones, and don't block driveways and hydrants.

Don't dare to park within the SF State area. The area has very heavy parking time limits and are strictly enforced by parking cops.


What SF Citizens and Commuters Should Know
Unfortunately, the SFMTA's ISCOTT department has not published any information about road closures and parking restrictions, nor has Muni published any planned re-routes for the 18-46th Avenue bus line which drives along three sides of the event area: Skyline (including Herbst Road), John Muir, and Lake Merced Boulevard.

To view the ISCOTT agendas, click here, you'll find nothing in their next meeting coming up on October 27th.

I also asked SF State's Parking & Transportation department and they were not sure of any parking or traffic difficulties.

What we can assume will happen...
It's likely there will be heavy traffic around the following roads: Skyline Boulevard, Lake Merced Boulevard, Brotherhood Way, and Sunset Boulevard southbound towards Sunset Circle. If you need an alternate route, don't take Brotherhood Way/Lake Merced and stick with the 19th Avenue freeway entrance/exit. See map of an alternate route:

There may be delays on the 29-Sunset and 18-46th Avenue Muni lines.

Parking might be difficult if you live or work within a half mile of the Sunset Circle entrance.

Road closures may happen along Skyline Boulevard and Herbst Road adjecent to the golf course. The south end at John Muir may be restricted and has been in the past used as a sanctioned VIP parking lot.

I'll update this page when the SFMTA ever takes their time to update theirs.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Bad BART Manners - Foot on the Window

BART Passenger Manners Fail

I thought some passengers on BART have bad manners, from clipping nails to hogging seats with luggage, but this one reaches new lows.

The photo I just took yesterday afternoon shows the worst manners of all. I was riding from Daly City to Downtown Berkeley on the Pittsburg/Bay Point line and found this guy sleeping on the train by laying on both of the seats. He then proceeded to put one of his feet up against the window when the train was going through the transbay tube up until I had to transfer at 19th Street.

I thought the BART seats was infected with all kinds of nasty bacteria. Surely I don't want to lay my face on one of those funky seats.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Solar Panels Back at Powell Street Parklets & Less Dangerous

I've been keeping tabs on the Powell Street parklets ever since there was some serious safety flaws discovered when they first opened to the public in mid July. Read up: My initial report, follow-up on improvements and new damage, and more improvements.

Now that we are in October, there's much more improvement and care for the parklets. The barriers are not getting bent, new plants are flourishing, and the newest change, the return of the solar panels.

Supposedly, the solar panels are supposed to power up the free wifi for the parklets, but I haven't tried that out for myself.

The reason why they were originally removed is because they were dangerous trip hazards. They were placed in the middle of the width of the parklets and their base stuck out like scissor blades.

Powell Street Parklet Trip Hazard

They are now back and while they still have their trip hazards, they have now been relocated to be the closest to the barricades that separates the parklets from the vehicular and Cable Car traffic.

Solar Panel at Powell Parklet

One thing that still bugs me is there's still a lot of people smoking on the parklets and dumping their butts in the planters. On the brighter end, I appreciate the city reading my blog to fix the serious problems with the Powell parklets from the start. Next time, the city should think before they build; unlike the $567,000 on this cheap ass looking wheelchair ramp in the "Board of Stupidvisors" chambers.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Muni's 18-46th Avenue Major Reroute - Through Irving Street?

Remember when I mentioned about Muni's 18-46th Avenue line taking a 51 block detour because of Sunday Streets?

Just yesterday, the 18 line had to reroute because of the Nike Women's Marathon blocked off many roads, including the Great Highway from midnight to about 4PM. While that did cause big delays for the line by only being allowed to cut through 19th Avenue and Crossover drive, I didn't expect Muni to pull this particular stunt off:

Around 1:30PM, I was driving through extremely heavy traffic eastbound on Irving from 26th Avenue to 20th Avenue to grab some lunch, and noticed in my rear view mirror an 18 bus going through Irving. To give you an idea of how bad traffic is on eastbound Irving, there's double parking, cars moving to a crawl, and traffic at a standstill within two blocks of approaching 19th Avenue.

That made me scratch my head... why did the 18 bus go along the entire length of Irving? Normally during a reroute, the 18 bus would go on eastbound Lincoln, but since it can't make a direct left turn onto 19th/Crossover, it has to follow the 29-Sunset's route as shown below.

View Larger Map

For me, to get through the heavy traffic from 26th Avenue and Irving to 20th Avenue took nearly 15 minutes (and failed to find a parking space). Why would the 18 take the slowest street in the entire Outer Sunset district when the bus should have taken Lincoln which has faster speed limits, less traffic jams, and very few stop signs?

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

October 2011 Clipper Card Updates from the MTC's Operations Committee

Three Generations of Transit Cards (TransLink Pilot, TransLink, and Clipper) Widescreen

The MTC's Operations Committee will be meeting this Friday, October 14th, and as usual, Clipper will be a well discussed topic for this de facto Clipper Board of Directors.

Here's the highlights from their agenda documents:

Last month's meeting minutes:
  • The committee has chosen the ferries to be next with the Clipper 'phase three' implementation.
  • The Clipper program's Title VI report was mentioned. While I won't get into all the dirty details on this blog entry (you can read about it here), the one thing I will mention is they will have public comment sometime during the Fall.

Updating the Transit Coordination Implementation Plan
A lot of the material is scratching out the old the name "TransLink" to its current name "Clipper."

The most useful information is the pass/ticket transition dates:
  • All AC Transit, Caltrain, and Golden Gate passes/tickets completed.
  • BART must complete transition of blue high value, red, and green tickets by December 31, 2011. BART's student orange ticket is up for debate as there is no current date of transition.
  • Muni has delayed transition of all Muni visitor passports until a usable substitute (e.g. Limited Use Ticket) can be used.
  • Samtrans will complete transition of all passes to Clipper on December 31, 2011.
  • VTA's monthly passes scheduled to transition on June 30, 2012 as long as VTA has a 'day pass accumulator' active by January 15, 2012.
Transfer changes:
  • Daly City BART's free Muni transfer scheduled to transition March 1, 2012.
  • Muni transfers scheduled to be Clipper only on June 30, 2013.

BART's Ticket Transition (More gritty info)
  • BART has closed many of their ticket retailers to prepare people for the Clipper transition at the end of the year. There are far fewer locations where the magnetic stripe tickets are sold and will be closed at the end of the year.
  • MTC and BART has done outreach and are giving away Clipper cards with $2 preloaded to encourage usage.
  • 1 out of 3 BART passengers currently pay for their rides with Clipper, and 40 percent of card users are enrolled in autoload.
  • Blue high value tickets will only be available through autoload with no intention to offer it for sale at vending machines and vendors. This causes a hardship for transit passengers that pays for tickets with commuter benefit paper vouchers; MTC claims offering it at vendors and vending machines is "cost-prohibitive and would result in slower Clipper transaction speeds at BART's fare gates." MTC is encouraging all employers to offer employees a debit card, or consider Clipper Direct which will offer HVDs starting Spring 2012.
  • $150,000 is proposed to be spent on an educational and advertisement campaign for BART's transition to Clipper.

Akit's Opinion
BART's transition is the most concerning to me.

For the Daly City station free Muni transfer going Clipper only, there's a big issue for SF State students who utilizes the free shuttle provided by SF State. If the paper transfer is eliminated, those who pays for BART with Clipper and takes the shuttle gets their free return ride on Muni's 28 line to BART voided because of the 1 hour policy to ride Muni to be eligible for the return ride back. Read more about this odd quirk.

I totally disagree with MTC's policy that all adult blue high value tickets (HVDs) on Clipper must be on autoload only. This does not meet the demands of the general public who are not comfortable with linking a credit card to their Clipper card (read why autoload is not recommended). People pay cash for their paper HVDs at retailers, so it's hard to believe that the MTC says it's "cost-prohibitive" and would slow down the BART gates if alternate methods are not going to be available. If youth and senior Clipper cardholders automatically gets the discount without the need to buy red and green tickets (with a high value), why can't us adults also get the automatic 6.25% discount we are entitled to? Or, why doesn't the station ticket machines offer adult HVDs to purchase?

Lastly, I hardly believe Muni will ever eliminate paper transfers. With no decent proof of payment enforcement, it's going to be free rides for everyone.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Dear Candidates for Mayor of San Francisco: Stop Calling Me!

San Francisco Proposition B Fail

Dear Candidates for Mayor of San Francisco:

You suck. That's right, you suck.

Why do you suck? You call my house to bother me to ask for their votes or do some touch tone phone survey to ask who I would vote for mayor.

Getting calls from your volunteer scumbags telling me who to vote for is just annoying, and I know that you are robocalling me because if I answer my phone and say "hello" and hear silence for about two or three seconds means I'm about to be bothered by another jackass.

To give you a good example, here's the last phone call I got at 8:45PM (yeah, 8:45PM) last night:
I'm quietly reading a book in bed and I get a phone call from some volunteer for David Chiu for Mayor. I quickly interrupt the jackass who disrupted my peaceful time by saying: "Now that you called, I just changed my mind, I won't vote for him." I hung up my phone without letting the guy get one word after that.
Here's a fact, it's NOT FUN to call me. Anyone who dares to ask me to vote for someone or something will get a rude reaction. Another time when someone called me, I said, "is that you Jesus?" then hung up. It's worse if you call me after 8PM because I'm busy enjoying watching a good TV show, writing my blog, or just reading a good book.

I've been also getting robocalls asking me to use my touch tone phone to pick who I would vote for mayor. They gave me nine options (press 1 through 9), instead, I picked option zero: "Get the fuck off my phone."

Here's other annoyances I hate about election time:
  • You folks like mailing junk to my house on who I should vote for? Here's what I do: It goes straight into the recycling bin. Oh, Alioto wants to be mayor? Cram it; into the blue bin you go. Stop wasting trees.
  • Mayoral candidate cronies (possibly paid ones) who abuse twitter by retweeting every single tweet from the candidate's account. The worst offender: Phil Ting's and his ResetSF (Reset San Francisco) account. Here's one of their "political consultants" and another one. Makes using Hootsuite and other third party programs to keep tabs on hashtags like #muni a nightmare.
  • And while I'm on the topic of Reset San Francisco, how many of you actually knows that Reset San Francisco is actually a website for Phil Ting to be Mayor? It's not as obvious as other candidate's websites; ResetSF's website mentions it in very little print on the bottom of the site. If it wasn't a political candidate's website, it would win awards for being a pretty good blog, but because it's a candidate's website, it's just using his cronies to write twisted articles, like this one full of incorrect facts about Clipper. Even I put out a tweet asking people if they knew if that website is for a candidate and some of the reaction I got back was: "agreed," and "I don't think most know he's even running."
So to all you political candidates who wants to be Mayor of this city: Stop calling me, mailing me, and cramming Twitter. I've got better things to do.


UPDATE: [Retracted due to error]

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

BART Spends Money Like Water - $2 Million for a Ramp?

BART Agent FAIL - Setting bad example

I'm curious to why it costs $2 million to build an ADA accessible ramp at Lafayette BART station. In today's Chronicle, there's an article mentioning about some accessibility issues after the ramp was built, but I'm just shocked at the outrageous cost to plan and build a zigzag ramp.

Does it really cost two million taxpayer dollars to build a ramp? Why should these government projects be such huge money wasters? If BART spent their money wisely on the ramp project, the decent remainder of the two million budget could have been used for smaller improvement projects. There's lots of way to spend two million bucks, from removing a row of seats to better accommodate bikes, renting a bunch of Rug Doctors from Safeway to deep clean the nasty blue carpeting, or even just keeping the money on reserve for a rainy day.

Here's other government projects that is just a laughing expensive joke:
  1. Two new Muni sales booths: $829,000.
  2. Board of Supervisors chambers ramp: $500,000 to $700,000.
  3. Central Subway: $1,600,000,000 (1.6 billion).
  4. Each portable Clipper card reader for Caltrain: $10,000.
  5. Yearly cost to advertise to people to stay away from the Castro for Halloween: $40,000.
  6. A one night alternative Halloween event at AT&T Park to steer people away from the Castro (and epically failed): $500,000.
  7. James Fang's BART failed cell phone failed RFID project (competing against Clipper): $350,000.

While I'm on the topic of BART, there's been word the agency will be spending on replacing the seats to new vinyl ones that will be easier to clean and won't absorb the infamous bacterias and other odd growth in the original fabric seats.

When you think about that, will BART be doing a half-ass job by only replacing the seats on about half the fleet?

Why do I believe they'll only do a partial job? Remember the nasty blue carpeting BART put in when they refurbished their train cars? The light blue carpeting made dirt, grime, food stains, and spills show up versus the original brown carpeting. BART decided to replace the carpeting with rubber flooring, either in the form of rubber tiles or a spray on flooring. After all these years, BART only did a half-ass job by only replacing floors on about half of the fleet, and to make matters worse, the flooring is not always the same; some have the tiles, others have the spray on with flicks of blue and tan paint to help make it non slip.