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Archive for January, 2007

Van who?


I must admit, I have not darkened the door of the AC Transit Board of Directors like a good transportation writer should. It’s hard enough to get worked up over BART‘s august body of decision-makers, and they represent three of the Bay Area’s most crowded counties.

But I got an e-mail saying that perhaps 100 people were going to show up today to head off what ended up to be a unanimous decision to authorize a plan to purchase a fleet of new Van Hool buses.

Yes, Van Hool. They’re built in Belgium, and AC Transit staff make regular Read the rest of this entry »

Posted on Wednesday, January 31st, 2007
Under: AC Transit, Buses, Funding, Safety, transit equity | 37 Comments »

bonding with our country cousins

willits-rush-hour.jpgFor those of you who followed the tease at the end of my story on how Proposition 1B funds should be doled out (or not) to rural projects like the Willits bypass in Mendocino County, here’s a bonus.

There was a lot left unsaid in the story, probably because I like to wax poetic when discussing the Corridor Mobility Improvement Account and because there’s a lot of history behind the sorry state of California highways.

To quote Randy Rentschler (and you know I will), spokesman for the Metropolitan Transportation Commission, “no one has ever shortchanged Read the rest of this entry »

Posted on Tuesday, January 30th, 2007
Under: Freeways, Funding, Planning | No Comments »

your sales tax dollars at work


Among the many things I’ve neglected while obsessing over a long-term project has been the work of Alameda County’s guardians of the half-cent sales tax for transportation.

In 1986, a majority of voters approved Measure B, which started the tax that year and created the Alameda County Transportation Authority to spend it. That taxing authority ended in 2002, but in 2000, voters passed another Measure B to continue from there under the auspices of the same agency with a different name, the Alameda County Transportation Improvement Authority. I’m guessing the snazzy new name was what Read the rest of this entry »

Posted on Friday, January 26th, 2007
Under: BART, Bicycling, Funding | 19 Comments »

the path to transit equity rolls both ways


Pick your transit: Rubber or steel wheels. In the Bay Area and elsewhere, it seems necessary to declare your allegiance to either bus transit or rail transit, although train people will often pay lip service to their rubber-bound inferiors.

Now, thanks to some imaginative Japanese transit planners, we have Read the rest of this entry »

Posted on Monday, January 22nd, 2007
Under: Buses, rail, transit equity | 8 Comments »

our relationship, with the car

Rocky road in the Lake District

It came as no surprise to me that a study due out next week concludes that men have a 77-percent greater chance of dying in a fatal auto accident than women.

The Associated Press received an advance look at the study, and immediately jumped into the well-worn stereotype of the “woman driver,” who makes her man crazy with hare-brained maneuvers and an inability to parallel park:

And the author of the research says he takes it to heart when he travels – his wife takes the wheel.

“I put a mitt in my Read the rest of this entry »

Posted on Friday, January 19th, 2007
Under: driving | 5 Comments »

timing is everything. tick … tick … tick …

 AP photo

Kentucky chemical tanker train fire

Normally a post-peak commuter, I had to rush out and get on the train at dawn this morning so I could be seated with my laptop and phone in time to participate in a Federal Railroad Administration call-in press conference at 7:30 a.m., Pacific time.

I was sure I was the only participant actually riding the rails for this, the announcement of a partnership to develop a more crash-worthy Read the rest of this entry »

Posted on Tuesday, January 16th, 2007
Under: Safety, Security | 7 Comments »

excuse me while I contaminate your airspace


 Some of you may have wondered what has become of the Capricious Commuter this week (or last, for that matter). For that, I must apologize for my neglect, and beg your forgiveness as I proffer a set of excuses: I was on vacation for the last part of December, and thus not commuting. While on vacation, I was beset with a virus which slowed my output considerably last week and left me bed-ridden and fighting with my new health insurance provider most of this week.

And much to my delight as I try to avoid grossing out my colleagues with cathartic fits of public nose-blowing, I found a way to link my staph-laden lament with the blog’s raison d’etre. Yes, I found another blog, somehow linked to mine, that tells of a New Yorker who Read the rest of this entry »

Posted on Friday, January 12th, 2007
Under: AC Transit, Transit vs. driving | No Comments »

another year without TransLink

translink-reader.jpgSince I arrived here in March, I have come to appreciate the delicate tapestry, make that irregularly stitched quilt, that is the Bay Area. The diversity of locales, attitudes and interest make the region fascinating, but at the same time, not entirely cohesive.

I recently learned that while LA may be a transportation nightmare, at least the place is unified, for the most part, into one municipality of 3 million souls inside one mega-county of 10 million. Standardizing something like a fare system is a snap. Want to build mass transit? The machine will get it done, no matter how egregious the cost overruns, waste, fraud and abuse.

Here in the Cities by the Bay, however, we have a rapid transit system that works on one fare system connecting three dozen other transit agencies, each with its own peculiar way of Read the rest of this entry »

Posted on Wednesday, January 3rd, 2007
Under: AC Transit, BART, Buses, Fare systems, technology | 21 Comments »