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10 things I learned in a year by the Bay

By enelson
Tuesday, March 20th, 2007 at 6:26 pm in 511, AC Transit, BART, Bay Bridge, Buses, Caltrain, Capitol Corridor (Amtrak), Carpooling, connectivity, driving, Environment, Fare systems, ferries, Freeways, Funding, parking, rail, Retrofitting, Safety, tolls, transit equity, Transit vs. driving.

arriving-at-platform.jpgOn March 20, 2006, I arrived in Oakland to set myself up as an expert on Bay Area transportation. I’m still working on that, but I’ve learned a few things since then.

The first lesson, after living and working in the wilds of Central Maryland, remote Long Island and Southern California, was learning just what Bay Area commuters had to complain about.

I mean, this place has a mass transit system like no other west of the Mississippi, freeways that don’t back up at midnight and commuter trains that run after 7 p.m. Not to mention, its denizens make their homes in tight valleys that make perfect little transportation corridors, like, you know, the Livermore Valley.

Ok, so I had a lot to learn about the I-580 corridor, about Amtrak getting stuck in freight traffic and about how trouble in the Transbay Tube took the term “transit bottleneck” to a whole new level.

Here are a few of the other things I discovered over the past 52 weeks:

1. It’s better to have an architectural marvel of a new Bay Bridge than one that actually crosses the Bay within a quarter-century.

2. Never send to know for what the FasTrak tolls. It tolls for $1.43 billion.

3. Carpooling is a cure for loneliness, but promoting carpooling is just the opposite.

4. According to Sigmund Freud, if you’re dreaming while standing on the Caltrain tracks, it signifies death.

5. When the suicide barrier goes up on the Golden Gate Bridge, more people will turn to public transit.

6. More single-occupant vehicle commuters in the Bay Area support public transit than in any other American city.

7. If you support extending BART or any other railway, you hate the poor and downtrodden. If you support expanding bus service at the expense of rail service, you hate the environment and Thomas the Tank Engine. If you support expanding ferry service, you like salt air, bathrooms and mixed drinks and don’t worry too much about the poor and the environment.

8. If only we had hovercraft, more ferries and floating docks, we’d be ready for the Big One. If only we had built that darn bridge 15 years ago, we’d be ready for the Big One. If only we could keep bottled water, Clif Bars, soap and toilet paper in our cars without somebody smashing our windows for them, we’d be ready for the Big One.

9. If everyone cashed in their unused 15-cent BART cards, the Bay Area Rapid Transit system would go bankrupt.

10. If you lead a good life and you do good deeds, you will ride to Heaven on the Capitol Corridor (although you might spend a few hours in Purgatory waiting for freight traffic). If you run up bad karma all your life and don’t atone, you’ll spend eternity driving home on Friday afternoon I-580. But that could happen even if you’re good …

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One Response to “10 things I learned in a year by the Bay”

  1. Frequent Amtrak Rider Says:

    “7. If you support extending BART or any other railway, you hate the poor and downtrodden. If you support expanding bus service at the expense of rail service, you hate the environment and Thomas the Tank Engine. If you support expanding ferry service, you like salt air, bathrooms and mixed drinks and don’t worry too much about the poor and the environment.”

    As Vanya on Seinfeld would say, “This is gold, Jerry, gold!” Thanks for the laugh.

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