Celebrating the role of transit in the Bay Area with events, rides, and prizes.
In our sixth annual event, we partnered with our friends at Seamless Bay Area and East Bay Transit Riders Union and expanded out around the Bay. We engaged San Francisco’s mayor and entire board of supervisors. Our partners produced the first-ever Oakland transit kick-off rally, and engaged politicians and transit leaders there for the first time. We produced our first monthlong event, expanding from just a week.
We reached hundreds of riders at tabling Transit Hubs across the city. We held in-depth panel discussions around safety on transit and the role of public transit in addressing climate change. Riders logged almost 3,000 transit trips in our Ride Contest, covering every transit agency in the Bay Area. With our Rider First Awards, we were able to highlight the work of key community advocates and transit planners working to make a real difference!
Transit Ride Contest
Over 140 people logged almost 3,000 rides in one month for our Ride Contest! We had people on BART, AC Transit, SamTrans, VTA, ferries, and of course Muni. One enterprising rider took a ride on each of the Bay Area’s 27 different transit service operators! We gave prizes for the top 10 overall riders; for folks with the most rides on a given agency; for great pictures, and for great stories.
Thanks to our sponsors at Bay Area Air Quality Management District, we awarded pre-loaded Clipper Cards, solar chargers, and double-walled fancy water bottles as prizes. We also awarded donated Muni art from our friend Chris Arvin, autographed Warriors gear, and tickets to see Dear San Francisco.
Transit Hubs Around the City
Tabling at Transit Hubs around the city, we reached hundreds of riders, gave out gifts (like Muni squishies!), and got folks to sign our Rebuild Muni petition. Transit connects people of all types in neighborhoods across the city – and the overwhelming message was “we want our Muni back, and more!”
Ride-Along & Rally
Mayor London Breed and all eleven San Francisco District Supervisors took part in our Ride-Along & Rally to show their support for public transit and transit riders! City leaders met with our members and transit riders at locations across the city to ride Muni together to City Hall, where they spoke out on the importance of transit and the most pressing issue facing Muni today: the funding needed to restore the service we’ve lost as a result of the pandemic.
Let’s Talk Transit: Service Plans, Safety, & Climate Change
Transit Month is a great time to have some of the larger and more in-depth discussions about the strengths and challenges of public transit, its potential and its impact in our city, region, and world.
2022 Muni Service Plan
Check out our in-depth discussion with Director of Transportation Jeff Tumlin and senior planning staff about the challenges SFMTA faces in restoring Muni service, and their different options for the ways forward.
Transit Safety For All
We had a great conversation with Haleema Bharoocha, Advocacy Director for Alliance for Girls; District 7 Supervisor Myrna Melgar; SFMTA Chief Security Officer Kimberly Burrus; and Spin Senior Manager of Streets & Equity Lakeshia Wright about what safety means to different riders, how traditional policing may not meet the needs or make us safer, and how they’re each involved in changing the conversation and policy around safety and public transit.
Reducing Emissions, Improving Transit
What is the role of public transit in meeting our climate goals? How do we reduce emissions, what systemic changes are needed to make it possible? Hear from Director of the Department of the Environment Debbie Raphael, SFMTA Planning Director Sarah Bernstein Jones, and Fehr & Peers Transportation Engineer and Planner Teresa Whinery as they explore the issues around climate and public transit in San Francisco and beyond.
Bay Area Rider First Awards Party
Our annual celebration of transit and transit heroes couldn’t have happened on a more beautiful evening by the Bay. We received nominees throughout the month, and a committee of staff and board members from co-sponsors Seamless Bay Area, East Bay Transit Riders Union, and San Francisco Transit Riders sifted through the entries to select our final winners. We featured excellent transit projects and transit advocates from all walks of life around the Bay.
And the winners are:
Jaime Viloria, TNDC
Organizing Housing Advocates to Save Transit
Jaime doesn’t consider himself a transit advocate. Jaime is a Community Organizer for the Tenderloin Neighborhood Development Corp, normally focused on housing and community issues other than transit. But as the pandemic forced cuts in Muni service, Jaime got a very quick lesson in the importance of transit – he understood that transit means access not just to jobs and services, but to open spaces and to each other. Community is not possible without public transit. And the community where Jaime works was suddenly left without two of the key transit routes they depend on: the 27 Bryant and the 31 Balboa.
Jaime got to work, organizing his community to fight for their routes. He’ll say he’s not worthy of the award – because he understands that change only happens when the community comes together to fight for it. But we understand that the community can only be that effective and successful when they have someone like Jaime bringing them together.
Thank you Jaime, for stepping up and making sure your communities have the transit service they need.
Michael White, SFMTA
Outstanding Agency Communication
Michael White played a vital role in getting out the word about Muni service – volunteering to work late to make sure signage was there in the morning to let riders know about route and service changes. Mr. White walked miles across the city to make sure signs were current. Mr. White was integral to the launch of the 15 Bayview Express, training ambassadors and handing out fliers in the neighborhood where he grew up.
Mr. White also brought his knowledge of the city and its transit riders back to the SFMTA transit outreach team, and made sure they heard from riders on the streets. He informed the team about vulnerable areas, how Muni service connects neighborhoods with each other, and conducted on-camera interviews with Muni riders.
We present Mr. White with this Rider First Award because of his exemplary attention to detail and care he puts in to making sure riders understand Muni service, and making sure Muni understands its riders. While we can’t be here tonight, we hope to present this award to him in person soon.
Community Organizing Around the ‘Not One More Girl’ Initiative
We are proud to give our next Rider First Award to a lifelong community leader whose advocacy over the past two years has made a huge difference for trans and female-identifying transit riders across the Bay Area.
Santana Tapia has been engaged in community activism for many years. She is co-founder of the Fluid Cooperative Cafe, a vibrant cafe and community space in San Francisco founded by and designed for the trans community. Santana got involved in the ‘Not One More Girl’ initiative as a volunteer and community advocate in 2019, working with organizers to ensure trans voices were an integral part of the campaign. She spoke to the BART board, was a spokesperson for the campaign in the media, and also served as a model in the ad campaign. In short, she was the face of the campaign in every sense. To quote her award nomination, Santana is “bold, courageous, and compassionate and has truly shown up to address sexual harassment on public transit over the last two years.”
While Santana could not be here tonight, we are proud to honor her tonight for her work on ‘Not One More Girl,’ and we look forward to continuing to work with her in the years ahead.
TETL Project Team, SFMTA
Fastest Expansion of Transit Priority Ever in San Francisco
As you all know, we are firm believers in the power of transit priority. Transit priority makes public transit faster and more reliable. It makes the ride smoother and more comfortable. It makes service more efficient, with buses able to complete more runs in a shift. Transit priority is proven to lead to increased ridership. These benefits are all at the core of our 30×30 campaign to get fast frequent service that crosses the city in 30 minutes to connect all neighborhoods.
This team delivered 12.5 miles of transit-only lanes across X # routes, in just over a year. While we all want that number to be a lot higher, this represents an enormous leap forward compared to the pace of getting transit-only lanes done at any other time.
This may look like a lot of people, but SFMTA’s planning and communications teams continue to be short-staffed. Managing entirely new ways to do outreach, balancing the competing pressures of so many people, and getting these projects done in months rather than years (or decades) was an impressive feat in an incredibly difficult year.
As one staffer put it quite delicately, “In our roles at the agency we are often on the receiving end of the anxiety and frustration of the public, particularly in a pandemic year when nerves are frayed and restrictions on daily life are wearing on people.”
We thank you so much for your dedication, hard work, and for delivering real improvements for the all riders, especially while putting up with a lot of grief from a variety of sources, including us.
Thank you to Erin McMillan, Michael Rhodes, Steve Boland, Kansai Uchida, Liz Brisson, JP Streeter, Amy Fowler, Shalon Rogers, Bonnie Jean von Krogh, Kate McCarthy, plus a whole team of engineers and teams from the paint and sign shops!
Haleema Bharoocha, Alliance for Girls
Leading the First-of-its-Kind ‘Not One More Girl’ Initiative
We are proud to give our next Rider First Award to another community leader who was integral to the development and execution of the first-of-its kind ‘Not One More Girl’ initiative.
Women and girls have always had to contend with gender-based harassment in public spaces – including while riding public transit. Haleema Bharoocha wanted to change that. As the Senior Advocacy Manager at the Alliance for Girls, Haleema worked hand in hand with BART and other local organizations to develop, launch, and lead the “Not One More Girl” initiative and PR campaign.
This initiative – aimed at stopping gender-based violence and sexual harassment on public transportation – broke new ground in several ways. It was BART’s first-ever sexual harassment prevention campaign. And it was developed and led primarily by girls and gender-expansive youth of color. In addition to raising awareness about these issues through colorful, attention-grabbing posters, the initiative also spurred a number of important changes at BART, including the addition of ‘sexual harassment’ as a new reporting category on the BART Watch App. BART also now asks about instances of sexual harassment in their Passenger Environment Survey, which will enable them to track complaints over time. These functions did not exist before this campaign.
“Not One More Girl” has rightfully received both local and national attention and accolades for its innovative and community-driven approach to raising awareness and accelerating urgent action around the issue of sexual harassment. We couldn’t be more grateful to Haleema and the Alliance for Girls for their leadership and vision, which will make a difference for riders for many years to come.
SFTR Youth Cohort
Launching The Next Generation Of Transit Advocates
This year, San Francisco Transit Riders started organizing students to advocate for the transit they need. Our first Youth Cohort has blown us away with their intelligence, awareness of transit issues, eagerness to learn more, and growth as community organizers.
Despite the pandemic and zoom fatigue, they consistently showed up for online training sessions, and then jumped into on-street organizing. Watching them learn to approach people at farmer’s markets and transit stops to talk about an issue they care deeply about, to see their passion reflected in a stranger who they inspire to join the transit movement, we couldn’t be more impressed and excited to be part of developing the next generation of community organizers and leaders this city and planet needs.
Thank you to Emily, Tashi, Davis, Yi, Jack, Olivia, Adrian, Adam, Kingsley, Alex Key, and Alex Yang!
Advocacy and Organizing to Save VTA
Monica Mallon comes from an unincorporated area of Santa Clara County with acres of free parking, sporadic sidewalks, and limited transit options. When the area was threatened with further transit service cuts, including the route that got her to college, Monica got to work.
She started attending VTA Board Meetings and brought together people from environmental and other overlapping causes to fight for more funding to transit. Dozens of advocates, including high school and college students, started testifying at once sparsely-attended board meetings. Monica lead the way to build transit advocacy in Santa Clara County, and continues to host a monthly zoom call.
While Monica has often disagreed with VTA staff and elected officials, she has worked hard to build relationships and convince leaders of the merits of her ideas. She has earned the respect from labor and elected leaders across the spectrum.
Monica recently published a piece showing that a modest amount of funding has the potential to bring about a total transformation of VTA service frequency and coverage throughout the county.
Monica’s persistence is changing minds. VTA recently acknowledged to the MTC, “that level of service was far short of what is necessary for a useful transit system that encourages people with options to leave their cars at home.” In February 2022, VTA will be the first large Bay Area transit system to restore 100% of pre-pandemic service levels. Santa Clara County transit riders can thank Monica Mallon for putting them first.
What the press said:
- Transit Advocates Celebrate Muni, Flaws and All (Public Press)
- SF Leaders Mark Transit Month by Riding Muni (SF Chronicle)
- Transit Month Begins (Streetsblog)
- East Bay’s Transit Month (Streetsblog)
- Rider First Awards (Streetsblog)
- Transit Month celebration doubles as call for better service, funding (SF Bay)
- Transit Month Set for September (Streetsblog)
Thanks to our 2021 Bay Area partners
Thanks to our 2021 sponsors
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San Francisco Transit Riders
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