New York City and Public Transit, Hillary’s Electability …

by on August 30, 2007

Hello Randy,

I had the chance to read your article today and I am pleased that there are folks who are bringing attention to our City’s transit needs. As a former New Yorker, there is no doubt that it is the greatest city in the world, especially when is comes to public transportation. Unfortunately, San Francisco has a long way to matching its success.

However, on a bright note, Carsharing is growing at a much more rapid pace than you would imagine. In fact, there are more than 23,000 people in SF that are carsharing today. Zipcar leads the way with City Carshare and Flexcar not far behind. Combined we have a fleet of more than 1,000 vehicles that serve every neighborhood. These companies are helping people get around our city each day and weekend and until a new policy is developed that can meet the needs of a mobile population, should be highlighted and applauded for providing such a critical service.

Thanks again,

Daniel Shifrin
VP New Market Operations
Zipcar. — Wheels When You Want Them

I liked your article about SF’s failure to learn NYC’s lesson of effective public transit, but I think you make a mistake to assume that Muni operates effectively at all, be it during weekday commute hours or whenever. The subways in NYC stop every 6-10 blocks, and folks have to walk the rest of the way to their destination. Some locations are blessed with close proximity to subway stops; some aren’t. Here in town, buses like the the 5 Fulton and 21 Hayes stop at every block, sometimes twice on the same block. As long as Muni keeps trying to provide door to door service, it’ll always take 40 minutes to get anywhere on Muni, no matter how many buses are running at a given time.

Stephen DeRosa

Good stuff. We have so many things to learn from NYC before we can get San Francisco to anything close to what I call a World Class City. Every time I visit NYC I am so jealous of their safe streets, ample cabs, no need to own or drive a car. We just don’t have the right priorities here. It’s so sad.

James Ash


Thanks for the article. First of all, I am proud to say that the BART Board included funding to increase train frequency on evenings and weekends from the current headways of 20 minutes or more to every 15 minutes. It is part of a larger effort to reinvent BART as an urban metro service worthy of one of the world’s great cities.

I am constantly puzzled about the difference in attitude between business groups in New York and elsewhere and those in San Francisco. New York’s business community seems to understand that New York City thrives when transit works. The Regional Plan Association, which is a regional planning advocacy group funded in large part by big firms, is solidly pro-transit, and is increasingly critical of excess parking in transit-rich parts of the city. The congestion charge proposal for Manhattan is promoted by the Partnership for New York City, a business group, on the grounds that getting commuter traffic out of the way of transit and delivery vehicles is essential to Manhattan’s businesses.

New York is one of many cities where business groups are trying to keep city centers healthy and vital by promoting walking, cycling, and transit. The Central London Partnership, a business group in London, sponsored a plan to make central London as walkable as the finest European walking cities like Copenhagen, Lyon, and Barcelona. Portland, Oregon’s downtown business community was pivotal in getting the city’s recently-opened streetcar line built, and taxed themselves to fund it.

Meanwhile in San Francisco, with perhaps the most environmentally-minded citizenry in the country, Downtown business groups like the Committee on Jobs and Chamber of Commerce are doing nothing to make transit work better and to make downtown more walkable and bike-friendly, but are instead pursuing Don Fisher’s radically pro-traffic, anti-environmental agenda. In business terms, they seem not to understand that San Francisco’s “competitive advantage” lies in its urban character.

We will never beat the suburbs at their own game. Efforts to suburbanize San Francisco, like Proposition H, will destroy everything appealing about the city, and the traffic congestion that it would generate will ultimately make this city unattractive to business. San Francisco’s business community would do well to look at what the smart cities are doing, and build a strong local economy that fits San Francisco’s unique character, strengths, and values.

Tom Radulovich
Executive Director, Livable City
BART Board Director


I agree that winning the White House would just be the beginning of our work, but the reasons you give for not nominating Hillary Clinton are the wrong ones. Your column on the matter reads like typical corporate “horse race” political coverage: long on superficialities like strategies and short on substance, i.e., real issues.

The reason Clinton should not be nominated is because she’s almost as bad as the Republicans in her ideologies and politics, not because she might have a harder time winning than other nominees or because she’ll drag down the party later. Hell, I support Dennis Kucinich and the only reason I might not vote for him in the primary is if I’m convinced that Edwards will push a progressive agenda.

If we only support those who have the best chance of winning or carrying others in with their coattails, we’re supporting the status quo and we’ll never get any meaningful change. Progressive candidates have no chance of winning if progressive voters won’t vote for them. It’s a self fulfilling prophecy.

Jeff Hoffman
San Francisco

You can submit letters to the editor by clicking on this link: rshaw@beyondchron.orgor by writing to:

Beyond Chron
126 Hyde Street
San Francisco, CA 94102
415-771-9850 (phone)

Filed under: Archive