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Archive for May, 2007

Big Brother is my co-pilot


The news out of Washington today is that our very own Caltrans, Metropolitan Transportation Commission and University of California, Berkeley, researchers are joining forces to monitor the movements of all vehicles in the United States.

That’s one way of looking at it.

The government has Read the rest of this entry »

Posted on Thursday, May 31st, 2007
Under: 511, Caltrans, driving, Freeways, Funding, maps, Security, technology | 1 Comment »

Googling down the highway

google-street-view.bmpLet me begin by saying that I continually strive to be as objective as possible about everything. Ken Lay had his reasons and so did Pinochet, thus there are two sides to almost every issue.

I will even give Google some credit where credit’s due, even though they suck the very essence of those who subsist on creating intellectual property, robotically repackage it and sell it to advertisers who once helped pay for my child’s health insurance.

Today I found more evidence of why the search engine I can’t live with or without is becoming the new Microsoft.

I was looking up something on Google Maps, as I do obsessively, and noticed a new button, “Street View,” which I dutifully clicked on.

Blue outlines ran along MacArthur Boulevard in East Oakland and a little orange board-game pawn appeared on the map with a little balloon saying, “Drag me Read the rest of this entry »

Posted on Tuesday, May 29th, 2007
Under: driving, maps, parking, Safety, Security, technology | No Comments »

AC Transit: wi-fi king

ac-transit-wi-fi-door.JPGWhile I was busy oohing and aahing over BART’s little Embarcadero-to-City Center wi-fi test, I neglected a new wi-fi service that

A. Was actually a service, and not just Read the rest of this entry »

Posted on Tuesday, May 29th, 2007
Under: AC Transit, BART, Caltrain, Capitol Corridor (Amtrak), ferries, rail, technology | 15 Comments »

end of the maze craze

maze-ironworkers-photo-3-by-thinh-vo.jpgIt was 5:50 p.m. when I got the call from my source, whom I’ll identify only as General “I shall return” MacArthur.

“Unofficially — not for publication — I recommend that you be at the Bay Bridge Toll Plaza no later than 7:45.”

With a new sense of urgency, something not engendered by mere deadlines and editors hoping beyond hope to spend time with their families,  I finished my story about how, after a gasoline tanker conflagration April 29 claimed

Photo of Christie Constructors ironworkers by Thinh Vo.

Read the rest of this entry »

Posted on Thursday, May 24th, 2007
Under: Bay Bridge, Caltrans, driving, Freeway collapse, Freeways, high-speed rail, Safety, tolls | 1 Comment »

falling for Caltrans

smoke-jumper.jpgPerhaps demonstrating how fast the melted MacArthur Maze — opening tomorrow— got rebuilt, Caltrans director Will Kempton will reach speeds of 125 mph when he jumps out of an Read the rest of this entry »

Posted on Thursday, May 24th, 2007
Under: Caltrans, Freeway collapse, Safety | No Comments »

state transit cuts update

I’ve not been to Sacramento recently to check in on the fate of public transit funding, threatened now with $1.3 billion in cuts, so I’ll pass along this release from CalPIRG’s Emily Rusch, whose job description includes agitating for more and better public transportation:

The Senate Budget Subcommittee that handles transportation (Senator Machado, Senator Kehoe, and Senator Dutton) voted this morning to flat out reject the Governor’s $1.3 billion in proposed cuts to public transit agencies on a 2-1 vote.

The vote is a huge victory for public transit and we applaud Senator Machado and Senator Kehoe for recognizing the important role of public transit to ease traffic congestion and meet our commitments to reduce global warming pollution.

Tomorrow at 1:30pm the Assembly Budget Subcommittee will hold their hearing on the Public Transportation Account, led by Assembly member Mike Feuer.

Stay tuned . . .

Posted on Tuesday, May 22nd, 2007
Under: Buses, Funding, rail, Transit vs. driving | No Comments »

a maze again, but no longer amazing


When the MacArthur Maze opens up again on Friday, as Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger promised, it will be one of those grin-and-grab ribbon-cutting events that political strategists live for.

But as a news story, the Great Maze Disaster has turned into the Medium Traffic Concern.

That says a lot about the response to the gasoline tanker fire that make such great video footage as it worked steel girders holding up the I-580 ramp like a glassblowing demonstration gone wrong.

Traffic mayhem Read the rest of this entry »

Posted on Monday, May 21st, 2007
Under: Caltrans, driving, Freeway collapse, Freeways, Funding, Misc. Transportation, Safety | No Comments »

and on the 7th day, there was wi-fi

yearning-for-wi-fi-on-the-rails.jpgThere is a fever that burns in the heart of every laptop-toting
transit commuter.

We look toward the heavens, hoping for a signal, one that will make
our commutes productive and happy, one that involves Web access and
all the bounty that comes with it.

Because of this, I must praise BART for giving us a foretaste of the
feast to come.

For a few fleeting minutes Read the rest of this entry »

Posted on Friday, May 18th, 2007
Under: BART, Capitol Corridor (Amtrak), technology | 4 Comments »

transit people: this is war

It seemed sad to see that of all of Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger’s budget crisis solutions, the biggest was siphoning money from public transit to other programs that involved wheels and moving people around. I mean, that’s the only raidable fund we have left?

I wasn’t that excited about it, however, because it was more of the same story that broke with the first incarnation of the budget in January. There’s a big pot of gasoline sales tax money that, thanks to then-governor Ronald Reagan, is perpetually Read the rest of this entry »

Posted on Tuesday, May 15th, 2007
Under: Buses, driving, Environment, Freeway collapse, Freeways, Funding, Misc. Transportation, Safety, Transit vs. driving | No Comments »

trash talk

caltrans-litter-blitz-8-may-07.jpgThis week I ran into two bothersome aspects of journalism that I’m not sure people outside of the business can truly appreciate.

One is the staged press event calling attention to something everyone already knows about and could very rarely meet the commonly accepted definition of “news.”

Such was Tuesday morning’s “launch,” a word that evokes a space shot or maybe a missile exchange, of Caltrans‘ “aggressive statewide effort against litter.”

In spite of my chauvinistic Read the rest of this entry »

Posted on Saturday, May 12th, 2007
Under: Caltrans, driving, Environment, Freeway collapse, Freeways, Safety | 1 Comment »