SF Bay Touchscreen Transportation Event Recap

Hey YPTers worldwide! Last week in San Francisco we had awesome presenters from the land of touchscreen technology transportation (is this like the new P3? is it T3?) – Jeff Miller from Wheelz, Michael Keating from Scoot and Logan Green from Lyft and Professor Karen Frick from Cal Berkeley. Our T3 specialists are innovating new ways to use our existing infrastructure and our (personal) capital to create the transportation systems of the future, and Professor Frick studies what these guys are up to and helps to give greater context and understanding to planners so we can plan for these new transportation networks.

But when you ask them about the new transportation network, as our facilitator and Board Member Andy Kosinski did, these businesses don’t think they’re changing the built environment… yet.  So far, they really don’t need new infrastructure. Most of these T3 pioneers are so hyper-focused on the getting a business off the ground, they haven’t started to take a 10,000 foot view of where they really fit into the transportation network of the future. Though Michael from Scoot commented, it isn’t about anyone of their product succeeding, it’s ALL of their products succeeding, and replacing a single-occupancy vehicle, sitting around in a parking space or on the street. As my professor Daniel Rodriguez would say, it’s a suite of policy solutions- except that it’s a suite of transportation solutions, now.

So what’s next? How do they intend to scale? For Lyft, scaling outside the urban environment isn’t impossible, but it’s harder- their model is based on a ride being available not far from where you are- and when you are in sprawl, the expectation for a willing driver to be around is way less. For Wheelz, the scalability is in getting people into the marketplace- so the impediment is awareness. Well, here’s one way to spread awareness… and here’s another.

Andy the moderator so gleefully asked these new business to strip down and share their data. I duly noted some reluctance- fair enough that these start-ups don’t have a dedicated person sitting around cleaning and releasing data – and without a system to share (like GTFS), there’s no easy way to do it. Moreover, they say nobody’s asked. I think that from a social engineering perspective, it would be nice to know where transportation is being requested, how users are shifting modes (are they just moving away from transit? or are some really giving up cars? or are others just sick of their fixie and now want a classy black car?) – but I get that maybe it’s too much, too fast for these guys. But keep it mind! The longer you’re around, the more opportunity we could have to collaborate, using data to better understand the T3 market and for planners to understand decision making choice models (that’s what we call people).

So what’s the government role in the T3 market? From a regulatory perspective, Lyft got a cease and desist from the CPUC- which Logan described as the CPUC’s way of “starting a conversation.” Lyft has since worked things out, but many note that there are methods that those who currently have a significant stake in the game will try to use regulation to keep new players out of the market. So it’s important to recognize when regulation is critical for public safety, and when government is being manipulated on some level by power brokers.

Questions from our audience included those who asked about ways to improve social equity and access to these new tools, and in the long term how these new businesses can be taxed to help pay for the use of public roads. I thought everyone had some awesome responses. Thanks to everyone for coming out, and get stoked if you are in the SF Bay area for next week, when our popular Beers With Peers series takes on Google Driverless Cars. As I’ve noted, I am hopeful that when the driverless car of the future cuts me off on my bike, it has pre-programmed ways to yell at me about getting off the street, hippie.

YPT SF Bay Transit Manager Bonanza Event Recap

Hey YPT! Anybody else have a few too many YPTinis last night? Oh yeah? Me too! What a great party YPT SF Bay threw last night. YPTinis aside, thanks to the SF YPT Board and our special guests Michael Scanlon (SamTrans/ Caltrain), Ed Reiskin (SFMTA), Grace Crunican (BART) and Michael Gougherty (WETA) for such a great kick-off to 2013!

Where to start? I can’t even recount how many awesome conversations people had at this event- I talked with friends and new friends about 2nd Street, Market Street transit and bike conflicts, pedestrian safety in the Tenderloin, CEQA and my newest bike acquisition. Special guest Grace Crunican even moseyed her way over to one of my conversations, and answered some seriously burning questions about BART – Dustin asked her about potential for 24 hour service, and Grace said that closed hours are needed for maintenance, and without a parallel track system (like NYC transit has everywhere!!), it just isn’t realistic. I asked about no bike blackouts on BART, and Grace talked about the next steps from the August pilot, working with the BART disability community and the changes they are making to the cars (both the current ones and future ones) and at the station level to better accommodate bikes.

Grace Crunican charms even the most stone-faced bloggers

On the panel, it was really great to see four such interesting transportation professionals talk with candor about topics relevant to so many of us in the room- there’s too much to report on, but I’ll share my favorite take-aways-

Michael Scanlon was honest about the bottom line needs for SamTrans to provide feeder service to BART over commuter express service, and I am glad that he’s spearheading the charge for CalTrain electrification. I agree that high speed rail is a non-negotiable, and it was inspiring to see passion from him (and Grace too)  on the topic. Michael starting working as a transit professional in 1967, and when my mom was still in high school, wearing flower prints and buying the latest Beatles record. Hey, Michael, if I bring your sort of spark to work more than 40 years from now when I’m in your position, I’ll feel like I am living up to your legacy.

I loved that Grace shared how difficult it was to get Portland to take on transit in a real way – I know how hard it for planning efforts to move forward in my career, and the snail pace feels like we’re doing it wrong- but nobody talks about how hard it was to get past successes, and it’s nice to know that things I take for granted took blood, sweat and tears from our current leaders. I also am stoked on Grace’s description of station area plans for BART- it’s important to remember that BART is so much more than just running trains, but also a major land user in the region that can influence the type of development that we will have in the future.

Esteemed panel of self-proclaimed Aging Professionals in Transportation

Michael Gougherty taught me all about WETA- apparently, they just can’t fix my plumbing- but they took on the unique task of consolidating disparate ferry providers under a single authority, and are providing the blue prints for how that might go forward. Additionally, WETA is thinking about their role in emergency management and ferry oriented development (FOD!). It’s pretty awesome to think about the mulitmodalism in the Bay Area, and how ferries are a key component of transit here.

Lastly, Ed Reiskin shared some of his trans-curious background- did you know he’s a map geek? Me too Ed! He also talked about potential reforms to CEQA to keep transportation projects moving forward but retaining the intent of the law.

Thanks to all of our guests for their humor and time!

Frankly, it was great to hear news from BART, SamTrans and WETA since all I do is think and talk about Muni. Maybe that’s my favorite take-away- San Francisco, despite all effort to the contrary, can’t exist in a bubble, and beyond our local transit service we need regional rail, multiple modal connections to neighbor counties, and high speed connections within the megalopolis to make SF the city that it is and will become.

Well, this has become an epic piece of literature. I’d like to give a huge shout out to YPT SF Bay’s first annual sponsor, TaxiMagic! Thanks TaxiMagic- whenever my bicycles break down and my heels are too high for Muni, I’m definitely going to grab a cab with your magic app! And golf claps and thank yous to the evening sponsors: Infusion Lounge and Scoot Networks! Most importantly, we can’t do it without all the amazing SF Bay YPTers-  including 20 new members from last night! There are so many more events coming up but we’ll save that for later. Also, holler at your blogger if you have questions, comments, want me to chat with you at the next event or have bribes of free tours of your transportation facility or use of your awesome transportation system. Until next time, yours in trans-curiousity,


Your 2013 SF Bay YPT Board!

Transit Manager Bonanza Event – YPT SF Bay 2013 Kickoff Event

Happy 2013, YPT! Before we all get to party at TRB, the SF Bay Chapter is super excited to present our first major event of the year. We have a full deck of esteemed guests from some of the largest transit providers in the region who will share thoughts, funny stories, and whatever else we can get them to spill this coming Wednesday at Infusion Lounge, 124 Ellis Street at Powell Muni/BART, 6:00pm-9:00pm. These transportation celebrities are:

  • Ed Reiskin, SFMTA Director
  • Michael Scanlon, General Manager and CEO of San Mateo Country Transit District
  • Grace Crunican, General Manager of BART, and 
  • Michael Gougherty, Planner/Analyst at Water Emergency Transportation Authority

Our guests are excited to discuss your questions. Feel free to submit your questions for our featured guests on our facebook page or tweet to us!

Here are some of my questions, just to get you started:

  • What does it mean to manage siloed agencies when Bay Area travel patterns are regional? What are 3 easy things we could do to improve regional transit connectivity?
  • What’s your favorite transportation project underway that’s not in your jurisdiction?
  • How trans-curious were you before you got your job? Please answer on a Kinsey scale.
  • Don’t you think it would be awesome if we had a funicular from Twin Peaks to the Bay View? Why don’t we have one of those? I would totally ride it.

Space is limited and as spots get filled, current YPT members will get priority. RSVP at our EventBrite: http://yptsfbayanniversary.eventbrite.com/

YPT SF Bay GrubWithUs Recap

Hey YPTers! Long time no chat. Actually this is my first official post as YPT SF’s unofficial blogger for 2013. I’m stoked to report on the news of the day, the news of the Bay, and all things young, trans-curious and interesting that gets sent my way.

Since the YPT SF Board election last fall, the new Board has been hard at work coming up with a full slate of events that will keep calendars booked from here until 2014. The first event was a sold-out dinner at Poc Chuc in the Mission on December 19. SF Board Chair, and transportation superstar Paul Supawanich, reports that the group of diverse professionals from government, start-ups, non-profits and engineering conversed on topics ranging from “shared interest in transportation, the culinary scene in SF, whether the world would end with the end of the Mayan calendar (it didn’t), and whether the new Megabus service from Potrero can beat air, rail, or driving to LA.”

This dinner was coordinated through the web platform GrubWithUs, and supports one of YPT’s goals for 2013: to expand programming and also find new ways to hold smaller group events to really enable members to connect on more of a one-to-one basis. YPT SF looks forward to hosting more dinners this year using GrubWithUs, which takes all of the hassles out of hosting, figuring out a menu and splitting the bill. Since you’re reading this, please consider signing up for the next YPT GrubWIthUs!

The YPT dinner was preceded by a visit to San Francisco’s Harvey Milk Photography Center, which is hosting two transportation related exhibits through Jan 5, 2013: “In Transit”, photo accounts and stories from San Francisco’s 100 year old Muni system, and “The F-line Inside Out,”, which showcased photos over the years of San Francisco’s historic streetcars. Paul reports that it was “transit-nerdy to the max, but a great prelude to an evening discussion about transportation!”

Of course, YPT SF is hosting its 2013 kick-off event next week, so we hope to see you there! Until then, keep it transcurious!