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Archive for June, 2006

kiss ‘n’ violate

Reader Frank F. has no love for Alameda County Sheriff’s deputies after getting a picture of his car in front of the Lake Merritt BART Station in Oakland and a hefty ticket for violating bus stop parking rules.

Here’s his story:

I recently received a parking ticket for being dropped off in front of the Lake Merritt BART station on 8th Avenue. There is a very long bus stop with the bus sign behind several trees at the far end of the zone not in front of the BART entrance.

Cuffed BART and AC Transit.bmp
I very much understand the need to keep the buses moving and the problem with cars and buses at the bus zones. The Lake Merritt Bart station is not that busy with limited number of buses running at 20-minute headways. However it is an easy place to write tickets … Read the rest of this entry »

Posted on Monday, June 12th, 2006
Under: AC Transit, BART, connectivity, Security, Transit vs. driving | 40 Comments »

park it on the bus

In hopes of starting a regular Capricious Commuter Guest Flame-Fest on issues of interest, here is an e-mail from former BART director Roy Nakadegawa, P.E., to Tim Hunt, associate publisher of the Pleasanton-based Tri-Valley Herald, talking about Hunt’s commentary on a lack of parking at subway stations, in the Bay Area and on a trip to the Washington, D.C., Area.:

mini parking sign.jpg

It’s the classic suburban vs. urban view of transit, in my humble opinion, but read for yourself.

I was reviewing my various email and found I never responded to your misguided view on parking.

Your note on what I expressed about Read the rest of this entry »

Posted on Friday, June 9th, 2006
Under: BART, Buses, Planning, transit equity, Transit vs. driving | 7 Comments »

pretty please, move the %#^* out of my way

“Moving over or yielding to faster traffic is an important, but often forgotten, concept,” says the National Motorists Association, which has consequently designated June to be Lane Courtesy Month.

I thought, how quaint. I’m one of those drivers who actually believes that people should stay right unless they’re passing. I try to observe this rule, too, but oftentimes that means getting stuck behind someone who lingers the fast lane for no apparent reason.
keep right except to pass.bmp
We could assume that these people are oblivious to the fact that other motorists have places to be and schedules to keep. I’m convinced that most fall into this category. I’ve also come to believe that Read the rest of this entry »

Posted on Thursday, June 8th, 2006
Under: driving, Freeways, Safety | 1 Comment »

stop hating Caltrans for a moment

It isn’t easy being Caltrans.

Like most state highway agencies, Caltrans has a reputation that lies somewhere between used-car salesmen and Darth Vader.

It’s to be expected, when your agency provides a service that most people take for granted (Do you ever think, “Wow, I’m so grateful that there’s a slab of asphalt, sand and gravel under my tires.” I didn’t think so.), worry about the damage it causes to the environment and are always mindful when it doesn’t perform up to unreasonable expectations (“Darn that Caltrans! Late for work again!”).

We journalists tend to have an even more jaundiced view of the agency, seeing as how we channel all of those negative vibes and stoke them to boiling whenever possible. The agency often exacerbates its unenviable position by doing what most of us would do when everyone hates us: Stonewalling. The sometime have the impression that anything they say can and will be used against them (And yes, oftentimes it’s in a court of law.).
smiley Caltrans West Approach.JPG
But along with the fish kills, the eminent domain property-seizing and the shoddy concrete contractor hiring, there is a Caltrans we couldn’t live without. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted on Wednesday, June 7th, 2006
Under: Bay Bridge, Caltrans, Freeways, Retrofitting, Safety | No Comments »

in defense of smart lanes

I never thought I’d see the day that an environmental group would advocate building more highway capacity to make life easier for rich people driving gas-guzzling SUVs and sports cars.

But it’s for a good cause. Environmental Defense announced today that it had “joined with highway and public transportation industry groups to encourage wider use of public-private partnerships to spur investment in transportation, reduce congestion, and protect the environment, noting that environmental performance and community benefit agreements could be helpful in expanding public support for mobility improvements.”

They’re talking about congestion pricing, which in California has been limited to “Lexus Lanes” upon which people willing to fork over as much as $8.50 for the privilege of passing the poor proles in their idling Scions. They do this in carpool lanes especially equipped with high-speed tolling equipment. It charges your FasTrak account. There are no booths.

Smart lanes.bmp

Read the rest of this entry »

Posted on Tuesday, June 6th, 2006
Under: Freeways, Funding, Smart Lanes, tolls | 4 Comments »

intertwined for 50 years

Happy birthday, U.S. Interstates!

This month, Caltrans will mark the 50th anniversary of President Eisenhower’s Interstate Highway System.

And because it’s the system’s birthday, I’ve decided to consult someone who, like the city he lives in, the City of Angels, has embraced the system.

Nimitz Freeway 1959.jpgI-880 in 1959

Read the rest of this entry »

Posted on Friday, June 2nd, 2006
Under: Bay Bridge, Freeways, Planning, Transit vs. driving | No Comments »

it’s not free most days, but do the math

Because it’s the first day of the Spare the Air program, as faithfully reported by yours truly, I’m going to have to set aside my journalistic objectivity and put in a plug for transit. Mind you, I’m a lover of the open road as much as the next red-blooded American, but this is about civic duty and, more to the point, our financial and psychological self-interest.

This is not, however, about the delicious grilled chicken and tuna, mashed potatoes and corn-on-the cob served up at the Spare the Air kickoff on Treasure Island yesterday. I joined my colleagues from the transportation media in swearing an oath before chowing down to never cut the sponsors, the Bay Area Air Quality Management District and the Metropolitan Transportation Commission, any breaks whatsoever.

This is not about favoritism, it’s about math, which I did with the help of my handy cell-phone calculator on the Capitol Corridor train this morning.
exhaust money.GIF
Read the rest of this entry »

Posted on Thursday, June 1st, 2006
Under: Environment, Transit vs. driving | 2 Comments »