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Archive for November, 2007

you can’t get here from here

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As anyone who reads this blog should know, I love to complain about my long commute, about the 80-minute drive (in good traffic) and the 2 1/2-hour bike-train alternative.

If only I could have moved to Oakland or Berkeley, my life would be better, the lament goes.

But I recently learned that even people smack in the middle of the Bay Area can have an equally crappy commute, at least where public transit is concerned.

Lucinda, one of my colleagues here in Oakland, came up to me the other day and told me she could be asked to run another newspaper in our group while its editor was incapacitated. The San Mateo County Times is located in the city of that name, and by car, it’s less than a half-hour from her home in Alameda.

But she wasn’t too keen on Read the rest of this entry »

Posted on Friday, November 30th, 2007
Under: 511, AC Transit, BART, Bicycling, Buses, Caltrain, Capitol Corridor (Amtrak), driving, Environment, tolls, Transit vs. driving | 18 Comments »

Your commute ain’t like Elvis’

commuter-elvis-3.jpgI was delighted to see that our very own news organization did a story on construction workers commuting from places like Fresno (weekly) and Chico (daily) into San Francisco to help build One Rincon Hill and other monuments to the divide between Bay Area haves and have-much-less-than-it-costs-to-live-heres.

In the piece by Anrica Deb, one of our student correspondents from the U.C. Berkeley Graduate School of Journalism, I found my doppleganger of sorts in an ironworker named Elvis, a.k.a. John Saenz:

“There’s no one north of Santa Rosa,” said the new father, who keeps a picture of his 7-month-old daughter on the inside of his hard hat. Saenz owns a house outside Healdsburg, 70 miles Read the rest of this entry »

Posted on Monday, November 26th, 2007
Under: Capitol Corridor (Amtrak), connectivity, driving, ferries, Freeways, Planning, Transit vs. driving | No Comments »

park! the herald angels sing.

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As I drove around collecting pie, wine and flowers to bring to someone else’s Thanksgiving dinner, I happened to cross over Interstate 80 and witness the endless stream of humanity stuck in stop-and-go holiday traffic.

It reminded me that I’d chanced upon a news release from Metro Networks, a traffic reporting company, on the top 10 worst holiday traffic nightmares.

Believe it or not, it actually elicited warm fuzzies as it conjured up some ghosts-of-Christmases-past spent on more than one of the freeways on the list.

Like eggnog or jelly donuts, it seems that holiday traffic jams have become such traditions that the thought of them can actually elicit joy.

My special memory is bumping though the industrial wasteland of Read the rest of this entry »

Posted on Friday, November 23rd, 2007
Under: Amtrak, Buses, Capitol Corridor (Amtrak), connectivity, driving, Freeways, other, rail, Transit vs. driving | No Comments »

long commutes bad for your healthcare

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First, let me say that I didn’t choose to commute nearly 150 miles each day. It was a byproduct of my being a trailing spouse that over time became a monster I couldn’t control.

I make the best of it. I take the train when I can. I leave the necessary work vehicle in Oakland, pedal to the Coliseum Amtrak station and pay $11.75 to get home to the Central Valley.

Sure, I must be crazy. But so must Read the rest of this entry »

Posted on Wednesday, November 21st, 2007
Under: driving, other, Transit vs. driving | 6 Comments »

are we ready to stop driving? right now?

no-vehicles.bmpLast night I watched “The Amazing Mrs. Prichard,” a British television series about a grocery store manager who become prime minister of the UK  because of that longing many of us have for our leaders to use common-sense governance.

As one might expect, much of the drama comes from home-grown logic colliding headlong with the complexities of how things work in the developed world.

In this episode, Mrs. Prichard is frustrated that a G-8 Summit (eight leaders of the world’s economic powers) has come up with nothing concrete to deal with global warming. So after insulting the U.S. president, she proposes her own stab at the problem: On every Wednesday, no one in Britian drives.

I’ve actually seen this happen in a developed country. On Yom Kippur in Israel, 5.5 million citizens Read the rest of this entry »

Posted on Monday, November 12th, 2007
Under: BART, Buses, Carpooling, driving, Environment, ferries, Freeways, fuel, Funding, rail, Smart Lanes, telecommuting, Transit vs. driving | 15 Comments »

shot in the arm for bullet train thru Altamont

bullet-train.jpg Just when it seemed the establishment was solidly behind the Pacheco Pass through largely undeveloped parts of Santa Clara County, along comes our new member of Congress to once again buck the conventional wisdom.

Now it’s not a major departure for one who represents long-suffering Tracy commuters who must slog daily down I-580 or endure the twists, turns and delays of the ACE commuter choo-choo.

But then Jerry McNerney, D-Pleasanton, is not your average Congressman. He defied the Read the rest of this entry »

Posted on Thursday, November 8th, 2007
Under: Altamont Commuter Express, Amtrak, BART, Buses, driving, Freeways, high-speed rail, Planning, rail | 11 Comments »

ultralight rail, just like grandma used to ride

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What’s cooler than a bus, cheaper than most modern rail transit systems and a source of civic pride nearly everywhere it exists?

If you guessed light rail, you’d be just as wrong as I was. I always thought that light rail was a way to revive streetcars without the shame of having to say we were rebuilding systems we trashed in the middle of last century in favor of cars and buses.

But streetcars are making a comeback, and now even places as unlikely as Read the rest of this entry »

Posted on Thursday, November 1st, 2007
Under: AC Transit, BART, Buses, driving, Environment, light rail, rail | 7 Comments »