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Archive for April, 2007

one down, 47 to go?

There, now. That didn’t hurt a bit, did it?

Now all everybody has to do is rinse and repeat until Caltrans says we can start our engines again.

In the meantime, the Metropolitan Transportation Commission is wrangling local transit agencies and the Federal Highway Administration to figure out what kind of extra services will be needed to get us through this mess for the next month or so.

“We need to make sure that the service that we’re putting out on the street is Read the rest of this entry »

Posted on Monday, April 30th, 2007
Under: BART, Buses, Caltrans, driving, Fare systems, ferries, Freeway collapse, Freeways, Funding, rail, Safety, Transit vs. driving | No Comments »

so much for the carrot …

Turns out this was a one-shot deal. I just heard from the Metropolitan Transportation Commission that there won’t be any more free transit after today.

I know this will be an outrage to many transit supporters, but I wonder if the transportation hierarchy doesn’t have a point about putting the money to better uses.

This is not Spare the Air. We’re not trying to convince people to take transit when they have no other reason to. They have a very good reason to Read the rest of this entry »

Posted on Monday, April 30th, 2007
Under: BART, Buses, driving, Environment, ferries, Freeway collapse, Freeways, Funding, rail, Safety | 1 Comment »

spare the hair day

sunday-demolition-by-dean-coppola-contra-costa-times.jpgWhile free public transportation offered on Spare the Air days was an experiment in social engineering with mixed results (10 percent jump in ridership, but disappointing smog prevention for the high cost), this afternoon we are about to see a much more compelling combination of carrot and stick getting cars off the roads.

It’s the sort of scenario that transit advocates dream of: Make it more painful to drive and less painful to ride BART, buses and ferries. No free parking downtown for commuters, variable Read the rest of this entry »

Posted on Monday, April 30th, 2007
Under: BART, Buses, driving, Environment, ferries, Freeway collapse, Freeways, Funding, parking, rail, Safety, Smart Lanes, tolls, Transit vs. driving | 2 Comments »

seismic safety: a laugh riot

bridge-so-far-artwork-by-charlie-canfield.jpg 

It should come as no surprise that in an era where “The Daily Show” is the main source of news for a plurality of Americans, that I should get my best lesson yet on the history of the new Bay Bridge from a comedic documentary commissioned by engineers.

 Shot in 2005 but first broadcast last September on public TV station KQED, “The bridge so far: A suspense story,” milks the ongoing earthquake retrofit-reconstruction saga for every possible laugh it can squeeze into 55 minutes.

I’d heard of several documentaries about the bridge and its troubles, but this one came to my attention this week when I found out it had been nominated for Northern California Emmy awards in both Read the rest of this entry »

Posted on Friday, April 27th, 2007
Under: Bay Bridge, Caltrans, Freeways, Funding, Retrofitting, Safety | 1 Comment »

Commuter Check checked?

commuter-checks-checked.jpgI discovered this week that in addition to adding six miles to my commute by moving our office to another part of Oakland, the company that was kind enough to hire me and continues to show that kindness by paying me every two weeks (Thanks, guys!) is seriously considering deleting its Commuter Check subsidy.

To be fair, I should point out that when I took this job, I knew I would have a long commute, some 67 miles each way, 90 minutes by car and 2 hours by train and bike on a good day. I was Read the rest of this entry »

Posted on Friday, April 27th, 2007
Under: Bicycling, Capitol Corridor (Amtrak), Environment, Fare systems, Funding, Transit vs. driving | 3 Comments »

elasticity conversion point

gas-prices-up-to-april-2007.gif

It’s finally happened!

We’ve reached the elasticity conversion point!

According to a leftover press release I found floating in the piles of pulp on my desk (I was on jury duty; let me do the judging here.), gasoline consumption in California dropped for the first time since 1992.

In econo-speak, we are such slaves to our Read the rest of this entry »

Posted on Monday, April 23rd, 2007
Under: driving, Environment, Transit vs. driving | 11 Comments »

save Planet Earth; read a book

vehicle-exhaust.jpgIn belated honor of Earth Day, I urge all of you to stay at home next weekend and read a book.

If enough people do that, it might make up for the environmental degradation wreaked by the actual Earth Day.

Looking at Earth Day events yesterday, I could not find a single one dedicated to the most helpful thing we can do for our environment: Don’t drive, unless you’re one of the tiny sub-percentage of people who don’t rely on internal combustion engines.

No, it was full of Read the rest of this entry »

Posted on Monday, April 23rd, 2007
Under: driving, Environment, Transit vs. driving | 6 Comments »

The great train mugging

looking-out-front-of-cap-corridor2.jpgSorry the blog has been idle, at least as far as my efforts are concerned. I had jury duty last week and will again starting April 30, so please be patient.

You may have heard about the Capitol Corridor incident in which an engineer was severely beaten by thugs on the train tracks just outside of Sacramento, but I receieved an e-mail with a full account of the incident from Gene Skoropowski, who runs the Corridor:

[Monday] evening we had perhaps the most Read the rest of this entry »

Posted on Sunday, April 22nd, 2007
Under: Capitol Corridor (Amtrak), rail, Safety, Security | 4 Comments »

An apology to Scott Haggerty

Dear Supervisor Haggerty,

Please accept my apology for saying that local transportation tax dollars paid for the salmon lunch I participated in April 5. I did not know, and should have carefully ascertained, that you personally paid $1,200 for the lunch.

And no, I don’t need to see the receipt.

While I certainly made light of my enjoyment of the lunch, how mouth-wateringly good it was and whether it was ethically permissible for me to eat the lunch without paying for it, I honestly didn’t intend to raise objections to spending money on the lunch by a public agency.

As I said, it was for a good cause. There are Read the rest of this entry »

Posted on Friday, April 13th, 2007
Under: Funding | 1 Comment »

so dees is vat dey do on pahblic trraansit?

arnold-on-the-bus.jpgI’m sure there are people who could resist the chance to take a cheap shot at Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger for jumping out of his SUV to take public transit, SUV roaring ahead to pick him up at the end of the line.

Don’t worry. I’m not one of them.

Here is the newly polished “Green Governor,” heralded in the media over the past week as if he were the Read the rest of this entry »

Posted on Thursday, April 12th, 2007
Under: Buses, driving, Environment, Funding, rail | 2 Comments »