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Archive for July, 2007

no exit

I commute, therefore I am.

My apologies for disappearing for yet another hiatus. Last week I moved from a rental to the house we bought. It was supposed to have been Berkeley, from which I would have had what many would consider a normal commute to our large white office building near Oakland Coliseum.

Alas, my son signed up for biochemistry. That was my undoing.

Turns out it’s much more competitive than Read the rest of this entry »

Posted on Tuesday, July 31st, 2007
Under: Capitol Corridor (Amtrak), connectivity, driving, Freeways, Transit vs. driving | 5 Comments »

don’t let new BART card master you

take-a-card.jpgWhen it comes to consumer credit, I’m not unique among Americans. I see, I want, I buy, I pay interest.

I understand that credit is expensive, that saving is good and borrowing can get you into trouble. That’s why credit cards are reserved for those impulse purchases that you can’t pay for NOW, but just need to stretch those dollars until the end of your billing cycle.

Along comes the end of the billing cycle, and whaddaya know? There’s rent, there’s that wireless bill or car payment (By the way, car notes simply aren’t Read the rest of this entry »

Posted on Thursday, July 19th, 2007
Under: BART, Fare systems, Funding, rail, transit equity | 2 Comments »

what’s that got to do with the price of beer?

beer-vs-ethanol.jpg

I may have been too eager to believe the dairy clerk that the steep increase of a price of milk at my local grocery store had something to do with the ethanol industry gobbling up our bovine friends’ feed corn.

That price is fixed according to international demand for dairy products, which (I don’t think this is a wild stab here) doesn’t fluctuate with our demand for energy.

But stories are coming in from around the globe indicating that borrowing from the food chain to fill up our tanks may not be Read the rest of this entry »

Posted on Monday, July 16th, 2007
Under: Environment, fuel, technology | 4 Comments »

my 15 minutes


As if all my histrionics over the MacArthur Maze collapse weren’t enough, someone is making a movie about the April 29 gasoline tanker truck mishap.

I know this because they interviewed me today for the movie, and it was so cool.

The short movie, with the working title of “Amazing,” is being done by the same people who brought us the Emmy Award-winning “The Bridge So Far,” which featured my predecessor, Sean Holstege, as one of two journalist talking heads for the comedic documentary.

Sean, alas, has Read the rest of this entry »

Posted on Wednesday, July 11th, 2007
Under: art, Bay Bridge, Caltrans, driving, Freeway collapse, Freeways, Funding, Safety | No Comments »

cookin’ up HOT lanes

tollcard-feb2006.gif

I just received a news release from Newark Democratic Sen. Alberto Torrico, announcing success for legislation to speed up construction of HOT lanes through the Sunol Grade along I-680.

What are HOT lanes, you might ask?

They’re basically carpool lanes that allow carpools to drive free and toll-payers to drive solo. The idea is to make Read the rest of this entry »

Posted on Tuesday, July 10th, 2007
Under: Carpooling, driving, Freeways, Funding, Smart Lanes, tolls | 1 Comment »

got ethanol?

It’s such a joy when a journalist’s personal reality collides with his or her professional existence.

For a day, at least, I had that feeling after visiting my local Safeway store yesterday.

I came to discover that the gallons of milk I used to buy for three bucks and change now cost four bucks and change. Please forgive the inexactitude, but that’s usually how I shop for groceries.

Curious about the sudden change, I sought out the young man charged with stocking the dairy case. Before he even responded to the page over the store’s PA system, the bakery person next door volunteered Read the rest of this entry »

Posted on Monday, July 9th, 2007
Under: driving, Environment, technology | No Comments »

FasTrak rat race

smh-bridge-new-toll-lanes.bmp

It almost seems anticlimactic, but on Monday another grand experiment in behavioral science will commence on the San Mateo-Hayward Bridge.

The subjects of this experiment, we commuters, will be forced to wait in long lines to pay $4 cash tolls because the toll plaza will have two fewer cash lanes.

At the same time, the other rats in this maze — those with FasTrak electronic toll tags — will get to blow Read the rest of this entry »

Posted on Friday, July 6th, 2007
Under: Caltrans, driving, Freeways, Funding, tolls | 7 Comments »

end of the line for budget fight

tracksend2.jpgThrough the good offices of conscientious colleagues, I received four copies of a news release reminding people that the fight over public transit, er, “transportation,” funding is still raging in Sacramento:

OAKLAND, CA, July 5, 2007: A group of 43 Alameda and Contra Costa county elected officials today sent a letter to Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger urging him to restore $1.3 billion in transit funds in this year’s state budget. The letter includes strong objections to proposed public transit funding cuts that would adversely impact East Bay residents, regional air quality, and the local economy.

That’s all very touching, but according to the governor’s Finance Department, a bunch of Read the rest of this entry »

Posted on Thursday, July 5th, 2007
Under: Buses, Funding, rail, transit equity | 4 Comments »