Tuesday, September 11, 2007


Inauguration of the T-Third light rail line caused a meltdown of the San Francisco’s entire light rail system.

At the time, this blog advocated a return to the status quo anti—essentially reinstating the 15-Third Street diesel bus line, which the light rail T-Third was supposed to replace.

The construction of the T-Third line is another example of capital expenditure boondoggles touted as helping poor folk.

This morning Sophie Maxwell, the supervisor representing southeast SF, requested a hearing before the Transit Authority board on T-Third ridership versus the 15-Third Street diesel bus statistics.

Maxwell said she’s been hearing requests from her constituents to bring back the 15-Third Street busses.

In other words, the new rail line doesn’t work, and can’t be made to work in any reasonable amount of time.

Why did they build the T-Third light rail line?

The only explanation I can think of is the personal benefit of the Mayor and his cronies.

Capital expenditures are a great opportunity for kickbacks. The awarding of contracts is a great way to pay off political debts.

Nowhere in the planning was there a believable statement of benefits to the residents of Maxwell’s district.

San Francisco’s idea of light rail is one set of tracks in each direction.

The googlemap below shows six lanes of traffic on Third Street.

You can easily see the asphalt lanes, two northbound and two southbound. In the middle are two sets of light rail tracks, one heading south, one heading north.

When a diesel bus on Third Street breaks down, or has a medical emergency or is delayed for some reason, the bus coming behind it can get by and continue its route. Even if Third Street is completely blocked, diesel busses can detour on side streets.

With SF’s one track per direction policy, when a streetcar (light rail vehicle) breaks down, or something blocks the tracks, streetcars coming from behind are also blocked.

It’s not unusual to see a broken down streetcar with six or eight streetcars backed up behind it.

This is bad enough on an individual line like the T-Third, but there is a section of the underground where five lines all use one track in each direction. One set of stuck brakes and thousands of people are late.

The T-Third infrastructure—tracks, platforms, control systems have provided no public benefit.

The least City Powers can do for Sophie Maxwell’s folks is give them back their funky but reliable diesel busses.

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