It appears that the streets of San Francisco will remain dumb, at least for a while longer. The Examiner reports that SFMTA officials were unsuccessful in their bid to obtain a $50 million "smart city" grant from the U.S. Department of Transportation that would have potentially transformed the way we move about the city. Instead, the money will go to Columbus, Ohio.
The SFMTA project lead, Tim Papandreou, proposed a grand vision for the future of SF Transit: Imagine self-driving shuttles, a networked car-share system, and a drastic reduction in single-occupancy vehicles. With private commitments totaling $150 million if we had won, there was a real possibility that this money would be a game changer.
"Our vision is really really bold," the Examiner reported Papandreou as telling U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx at the time. "We’re ‘moon shotting’ it."
Columbus officials, meanwhile, are clearly excited about the influx of transportation money. "This funding is a game changer for the City of Columbus and central Ohio," Sen. Sherrod Brown told The Columbus Dispatch. "I’m glad the Department of Transportation recognized what so many of us already know — Columbus is a smart city that deserves to win this challenge.”
As to why, specifically, SF's proposal fell short? Well, officials aren't sure. “We’re reassessing,” Papandreou told the Ex.
It looks like we'll just have to go back to arguing about whether or not it makes sense to have transit-only bus lanes in the Mission.