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Archive for September, 2006

undeserved act of kindness

Cell photo by CC 

Amtrak sunset reflections.jpg

Son, I was wrong.

It’s not easy for a father to say that to a teen-ager, ennervatingly wise beyond his years.

I was wrong back at the beginning of the summer, when you told me that the front tire on your mountain bike was leaking, and I took your concern with a grain of salt.

It was a slow leak, I reasoned, and it’ll just need an occasional Read the rest of this entry »

Posted on Friday, September 29th, 2006
Under: Bicycling, Capitol Corridor (Amtrak), connectivity, rail | 2 Comments »

rounding out the fare debate


Ok, I admit it. I should have never written about flat BART fares. There are more important issues we can pull out our hair over, like what to do with all of that Proposition 1B money. The State Senate hearing on the $19.9 billion bond measure on the November ballot starts at 9 a.m. Wednesday in the BART Board Room in Oakland’s Kaiser Center, 344 20th Street.

But to finally lay the flat fare idea to rest, I’ll put up yet another argument against it, this one by Roy Nakadegawa, director emeritus of BART. As you read this and Read the rest of this entry »

Posted on Tuesday, September 26th, 2006
Under: BART, Fare systems, Funding | 20 Comments »

cleaner buses – the ZEV and the reality

Photo of CNN’s Julie Vallese doing white hankerchief test on clean diesel exhaust from

clean diesel demo CNNs Julie Vallese.jpg

I was chided by a public relations person for failing to follow through on plans to incorporate diesel bus retrofitting into my story about AC Transit’s hydrogen fuel cell buses. The two are related, but there just wasn’t enough room in the story for the diesel program, however relevant it may be to the subject of cleaner air.The two are related, but there just wasn’t enough room in the story for the diesel program, however relevant it may

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Posted on Monday, September 25th, 2006
Under: AC Transit, Environment, Funding | No Comments »

today’s free lecture: fare idea falls flat

I really never thought that a story about one BART director’s idea to switch to a flat fare of perhaps $2.40 or $2.50 would generate so much interest, or end up at the top of the Trib’s Sunday front page. But what do I know?

Now the PhD’s are weighing in.

Aaron Golub, a researcher at the UC Berkeley California Transportation Center, sent me a copy of the open letter to the BART board he penned after hearing the flat-fare idea trumpeted on the radio Sunday.

I won’t reproduce the whole thing here, but he makes some interesting observations, such as how subsidizing longer-distance fares helped get more people to move to the suburbs a century ago in Boston and New York.

Ahh, let’s imagine a time Read the rest of this entry »

Posted on Tuesday, September 19th, 2006
Under: BART, Buses, Fare systems, Funding, transit equity, Transit vs. driving | 14 Comments »

fairer fare in bowels of NYC?

Photo by Richard Brome from

NY subway farecard entrance2-Richard Brome from nycsubwaydotorg.jpg

My story about the idea of flattening BART fares provoked a thoughtful response from transplanted New Yorker Meg, who e-mailed these observations regarding BART board member Joel Keller’s reference to New York City as an example of flat-fare mass transit:

As a Bay Area resident who has lived in New York, I can tell you that there are a few factors which make the flat fare workable there. BART administrators ought to consider some of these when making their decisions.

1. Very few people in New York have cars. So most of them don’t have the option to drive. In the Bay Area, by contrast, many if not most people have access to cars, and therefore have an alternative to BART. People grumble about a subway fare increase in New York, but ultimately they more or less have to pay it.

2. In New York, most people who use the subway regularly get a weekly or monthly pass, where you pay a fixed amount and then get unlimited rides during that time period. For example, right now a 30-day pass costs $76. So if you ride more than 38 times a month (17 round-trips), you save money. Commuters – and, in fact, most people who rely on public transit – easily make that many trips a month.

Read the rest of this entry »

Posted on Monday, September 18th, 2006
Under: AC Transit, BART, Buses, Fare systems, Transit vs. driving | 8 Comments »

now, let’s not regress…

BART San Jose extension funding chart from 

 BART to SJ piechart-smaller.gif

Last week, I wrote that transit advocates should be pleased with some of the introductory sound bites offered by the federal transportation secretary nominee, Mary Peters.

My armchair analysis was received with some consternation by Rebecca Long, the Metropolitan Transportation Commission’s legislative analyst, who knows more about how transportation is funded in this town than anyone should have to. 

I suggested that Peters’ support of user fees (tolls, basically) for highways could make the term “freeway” obsolete, and didn’t really Read the rest of this entry »

Posted on Tuesday, September 12th, 2006
Under: BART, Funding, tolls, transit equity | 7 Comments »

five years of living with terror

Staff photo by Greg Tarczynski

BART dog - GREG TARCZYNSKI - Staff 9-10-06.jpg

Like so many others, I was changed by September 11. Not only did I have a new reason to fear flying, but I had to confront it head-on.

Barely six weeks after the attacks, my wife was riding rickety Russian-made jetliners over the Iran in pursuit of Al Qaeda smugglers on the Afghan border.

By June 2002, I was with my 13-year-old son and our pet boxer flying into an airport in Israel a short bike-ride from the West Bank.

In deference to Palestinian suicide

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Posted on Monday, September 11th, 2006
Under: BART, Buses, Security | No Comments »

unhappy transbay livestock

Staff photo by Josh Birnbaum 

BART doors open - Josh Birnbaum - x26spar1.jpg

At least one person wasn’t playing “We are the Champions” as a result of this weekend’s Bay Bridge lower deck closure, which, by most accounts, went as well as any had hoped:

Karin of the lower East Bay said she had just noticed on that BART’s Labor Day weekend overnight service was “limited.’’

“This is actually the first time I’ve read or heard BART’s Labor Day weekend service described as “limited”. Had I been aware of the l Read the rest of this entry »

Posted on Thursday, September 7th, 2006
Under: AC Transit, BART, Bay Bridge, Buses, Caltrans, connectivity | 2 Comments »

steal this highway

Photo from


Transit advocates should be overjoyed with our new federal transportation secretary nominee, Mary Peters.

 She said she supports user fees for highways, which could someday make the term “freeway” an anachronism.

Transportation people in Read the rest of this entry »

Posted on Wednesday, September 6th, 2006
Under: BART, Freeways, Funding, Smart Lanes, tolls | 1 Comment »