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Monday, January 25, 2016

UPDATED Muni Has Facial Detection Technology for its "Traffic Cameras"

Posted By on Mon, Jan 25, 2016 at 11:44 AM

Muni's new toys. - SAMSUNG SECURITY
  • Samsung Security
  • Muni's new toys.

UPDATE: An earlier version of this post had a headline that said SFTMA wants facial "recognition" technology, when in fact the new "traffic cameras" have merely facial "detection" technology. As in: the cameras can see that you have a face, but not whose face it is. In traffic. The original post follows below.

The San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency has been busy adding to its stock of surveillance equipment.

The agency, which oversees Muni and the myriad street closures currently in effect to make way for the Super Bowl, has set up new "traffic cameras" in the areas along Market Street that will be closed to traffic for all the big deal surrounding the big game.

That set off alarms among privacy advocates — why do you need a traffic camera in an area closed to traffic? — who also pointed out that the SFTMA was, for some reason, also seeking "traffic" cameras with "face detection" technology. 

Bids are due today for prospective entrepreneurs to supply Muni with an additional 150 high-tech Samsung security cameras. In addition to the ability to pan, tilt, and zoom, the $1,700 cameras also have the face recognition ability, as the Chronicle noted today.

So why do you need a traffic camera with face recognition detection technology — if it's only for traffic, never to be shared with police, and does not have the ability to record, as Muni officials continue to insist?

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Thursday, November 19, 2015

Super Bowl Host Committee Agrees Not to Dismantle Real City Infrastructure to Build Fake City

Posted By on Thu, Nov 19, 2015 at 10:48 AM

  • Super Bowl 50 Host Committee
In a major victory for people who live and work in the real city of San Francisco, the Super Bowl 50 Host Committee has backed away from a plan to take down Muni wires in order to build a fake city on the Embarcadero, the San Francisco Examiner reports

The Examiner revealed last week that the committee was planning to take down the overhead Muni wires in order to make room for "Super Bowl City" — a "hub of fan energy and excitement" featuring "family-friendly activities for fans of all ages." (Except the homeless. No homeless of any age allowed, per the Mayor.) 

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Monday, November 16, 2015

San Francisco is 45 miles away from Santa Clara, where a football game will be played next year

Posted By on Mon, Nov 16, 2015 at 2:57 PM


At some point next year, a football game will be played in Santa Clara, Calif., a small town about 45 miles south of San Francisco. In point of fact, football games are played with some regularity in Santa Clara (population 116,468), but next year there will be a special football game played there. 

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Friday, July 31, 2015

Stay On Your Side of the Bay This Weekend

Posted By on Fri, Jul 31, 2015 at 11:05 AM

  • Joseph Sohm /

BART is shutting down its transbay service this weekend to make repairs to the transbay tube, so if at all possible, STAY ON YOUR SIDE OF THE BAY. 

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Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Uber and Lyft Keep Rideshare Data a Closely Guarded Secret

Posted By on Wed, Jul 1, 2015 at 1:44 PM

  • Σπύρος Βάθης/Flickr

If you’ve ever wondered how many Ubers and Lyfts are on San Francisco streets at a given time, you’re not alone but you are out of luck. Both rideshare companies keep such data under wraps, probably because they’re embroiled in a Battle Royale with each other, the city, and the taxi industry and need every bit of tactical legerdemain they can muster.

As Streetsblog reports, a panel discussion on Monday elicited a sometimes perplexing array of mission statements and PR marmalade. Curtis Rogers, Lyft’s national accounts manager, identified his company’s “end goal” as reducing car ownership but didn’t say whether that also means reducing car trips.

Rogers added that Lyft doesn’t want to compete with Muni. “We’re just one more piece to the puzzle,” he said.

Such statements gloss over the company’s history of aggressively targeting Muni. In 2013, for example, Lyft, still in startup mode, proposed to buy 68 Muni buses from the city and take over operating crowded routes such as 38 Geary, 30 Stockton, and 14 Mission. Ron Conway, America’s favorite venture capitalist, was essentially stage-whispering that he’d buy out Muni and turn it into a private fleet. (This being well before Google and Leap tainted the whole notion of private buses for a certain subset of San Franciscans.)

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Friday, June 12, 2015

Leap Bus Put up for Auction: Is the Startup Dead?

Posted By on Fri, Jun 12, 2015 at 1:38 PM

  • Screenshot/ First Capitol Auction

Is Leap Transit dead? The embattled luxury Muni-alternative that launched to great fanfare this spring before facing a backlash around handicap accessibility ceased operating on May 19 after the California Public Utilities Commission issued it a cease and desist order

At the time, Leap said on its Facebook page that it would be offline "at least through the end of this week." On Tuesday, SF Weekly contacted Leap to ask for an update on its status, but we have not yet received a reply. 

Now, Muni Diaries is reporting (via Twitter user Sarah Fine) that at least one of Leap's buses is up for auction through First Capitol Auction, Inc. The listing includes a picture of the company's vaunted reclaimed wood interior and coffee bar. Bidding is set to begin on Saturday, June 27. 

Is this a sign of the end for the venture capital-backed startup? Or is this particular 2001 bus just not up to snuff for Leap's Marina clientele? Let us know if you hear anything. 

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Monday, June 1, 2015

Supes Take Muni, Selfies for #OnBoardSF 22 Day Muni Challenge

Posted By on Mon, Jun 1, 2015 at 10:22 AM


Today marks Day 1 of the 22 Day Muni Challenge, a challenge issued by the San Francisco Transit Riders Union to city officials to take public transit every day for 22 days. The 22 day length symbolizes the 22 years since San Francisco voters passed Proposition AA, which called on public employees and elected officials to use public transit at least twice a week. According to the SFTRU:
22 years later, this policy agreement has never been acted on, and now is a chance to make up for lost time! When they regularly ride public transit, city officials better understand the rider's daily experience and prioritize funding and planning a more reliable, robust, and visionary transit system to support it. This is an opportunity for our city officials to promote their own commitment to public transportation, showcasing that they care about the future of Muni.
SFTRU is maintaining a leader board here tracking the number of rides taken by each Supervisor and the Mayor. Here's where things stand so far:

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Tuesday, December 9, 2014

More Transit Options Coming to Late-Night Commuters (AKA Bar-Hoppers)

Posted By on Tue, Dec 9, 2014 at 2:58 PM

Last call never really comes to an end - FLICKR/SKRONK!
Starting this weekend, you can stay at the bars until last call and not have to drive home, or wait hours for a bus, or take an expensive Uber across the Bay Bridge. 

BART and AC Transit have announced a new bus line that will shuttle commuters on weekends between 1 a.m. and 2:30 a.m. — another peak commute time in which BART trains don't run. 

The transit agencies today approved a 1-year pilot program for the new bus line 822 which will run every 30 minutes, from 24th Street in San Francisco all the way to Pittsburg/Bay Point in the East Bay. It's complimenting AC Transit's current late-night service that is existent, but sometimes leaves commuters waiting over an hour to catch a bus from San Francisco to the East Bay. 

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Tuesday, November 11, 2014

This Is Why NextMuni Predictions Are Always Screwing You Over

Posted By on Tue, Nov 11, 2014 at 12:06 PM

A frustrated Muni rider communicates their displeasure with NextMuni's predictions. - PHOTO COURTESY MUNI DIARIES
  • Photo courtesy Muni Diaries
  • A frustrated Muni rider communicates their displeasure with NextMuni's predictions.

It's a problem that plagues Muni riders at bus stops every day: The digital NextMuni readout predicts your bus will come in five minutes — a prediction that you quickly realize is frozen in time.

You're in a hurry, and can't decide whether or not to treat yourself to an Uber (or a taxi). The bus stays five minutes away every five minutes for an hour, taunting you. 

Is the bus lost in a time warp? Are hackers gleefully messing with NextMuni? Are we in some sort of transit purgatory?

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Friday, October 3, 2014

Here's Your Traffic Guide to Getting Around The Traffic Jams This Weekend

Posted By on Fri, Oct 3, 2014 at 11:53 AM

click image Look at all of the not-cars on Castro Street. - CARY BASS-DESCHENES / FLICKR
  • Cary Bass-Deschenes / Flickr
  • Look at all of the not-cars on Castro Street.

Even if you decide you don't want to brave the crowds and venture over to Golden Gate Park for the Hardly Strictly Bluegrass Festival or battle the hordes of people at the Castro Street Fair, chances are you’ll feel the residual effects of the events while on the road or on a Muni bus.

And we feel for ya. So we decided to throw together an easy roadmap to help you navigate the traffic jams and commuting chaos during the event-filled weekend.

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  • clipping at Brava Theater Sept. 11
    Sub Pop recording artists 'clipping.' brought their brand of noise-driven experimental hip hop to the closing night of 2016's San Francisco Electronic Music Fest this past Sunday. The packed Brava Theater hosted an initially seated crowd that ended the night jumping and dancing against the front of the stage. The trio performed a set focused on their recently released Sci-Fi Horror concept album, 'Splendor & Misery', then delved into their dancier and more aggressive back catalogue, and recent single 'Wriggle'. Opening performances included local experimental electronic duo 'Tujurikkuja' and computer music artist 'Madalyn Merkey.'"