Super Bowl 50 Impact Dominates Muni Citizens’ Advisory Council Meeting

Photograph by Will Carruthers for The Ingleside-Excelsior Light

The controversy surrounding Super Bowl 50 brought out a larger crowd than usual to the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency Citizens’ Advisory Council Jan. 7 meeting.

A dozen SFMTA staff and a few reporters filled half of a conference room in the agencies seventh floor headquarters as they waited to hear a briefing on the complex logistics of the world’s largest sports event.

Preparation for the week of events around Embarcadero Station leading up to the big game in Santa Clara at Levi’s Stadium on Feb. 7 has involved city employees working on enhanced transit schedules and safety measures for the downtown area.

The city first estimated costs to the SFMTA would be $1.7 million out of a total cost of around $4 million, according to a memo released by the Mayor’s Office on Jan. 7 .

City agencies developed disaster plans for everything from El Niño storms to attacks similar to the recent ones in San Bernardino and Paris.

“We have all of these what-ifs that we’re grappling with,” said Peter Albert, the SFMTA’s urban planning initiatives manager.

The officials would not discuss specific security plans except to say there would be an increased number of fare inspectors and parking control officers officers during the week of events.

“You are making the best of a bad idea,” said Daniel Murphy, vice chairperson of the SFMTA CAC. “I appreciate you doing this.”

The most heated conversation was related to accessibility during the event. Murphy criticized a plan to shut down escalators during the event to avoid heavy wear.

Murphy argued that as the crowds increased, so would the number of people in need of escalators and elevators to get out of the station.

The system’s escalators almost always break after a few hours of heavy use during major events, according to SFMTA staff.

The SFMTA CAC passed a motion suggesting that the SFMTA would make keeping escalators and elevators on throughout week of events a high priority.

Susan Vaughan, a council member, put forward a motion to require environmental review on events lasting longer than two days. She was frustrated that the Super Bowl and events like it do not always qualify for an environmental review. The SFMTA CAC put off the vote until the proper wording was decided on.

The majority of SFMTA employees filed out of the room after the Super Bowl briefing and the SFMTA CAC moved on to upcoming Muni improvements as part of the Muni Forward campaign.

The goal of Muni Forward is to improve reliability and travel time in the system by altering some routes and adding more service to other lines.

A new 28R route connecting Balboa Park Station and the Richmond will be added to 19th Avenue. Grant-funded additions to the OWL network to improve connections on the east side of the city.

The meeting ended with a review of transit legislation introduced in 2015 and what is coming in 2016.

In 2015, San Francisco received $41 million in funds from California’s cap and trade program for new light rail vehicles. As cap and trade revenues continue to grow, the SFMTA will attempt to get more funds in the future.

A California Assembly Bill passed in 2015 legalized the use of forward-facing cameras on buses and trains to issue citations for cars blocking transit-only lanes.

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