Today I accosted several of my colleagues and asked them if they’d miss 2007.
The answer was pretty much “no” all around, with the most convincing story coming from a person who’d bought a house with a sub-prime mortgage.
In the area of transportation, especially in the Bay Area, I’d have to say 2007 was a very good year, the Cosco Busan oil spill notwithstanding.
On the local level, we learned in early May just how responsive Bay Area commuters can be when it comes to finding their way around a major traffic disruption. On April 29, when the ramp connecting eastbound I-80 to eastbound I-580 in the MacArthur Maze collapsed, I was sure that congestion Armageddon was upon us. I even said so on the radio.
Luckily, I was dead wrong. People shifted their commutes to BART in such great numbers that the vehicle traffic that was left could easily negotiate the detours without major backups. BART had the best week in its 35-year history, up to that point.
Then came Labor Day weekend. This time, I kept most of my predictions to myself, muttering secretly, “Now they’ll see: The hot ash will rain from the skies, the evil will be cast into the fiery pit …”
That was the weekend Caltrans had decided to close the Bay Bridge, demolish a 350-foot-section of upper deck viaduct on Yerba Buena Island and move a pre-built replacement on rollers into its place.
“So many things could happen,” I said to the pigeons in the park. “Someone will screw up and they will fail. Three days will come and go, and they’ll be giving excuses as to why there’s no bridge to cross to get to work.”
In the test of faith in Caltrans, I got an “F.” For two hours in the middle of the night, I watched as the massive slab of concrete moved a few inches at a time into place. I expected it to be like watching grass grow, but I was transfixed, agog. It all went pretty much according to schedule, and no one was killed or maimed in the process.
If that weren’t enough, my cynicism didn’t stand a chance against the third blow that weekend: Again, Bay Area travelers used BART, ferries and buses to get around that weekend. BART scored its biggest day ever the Friday that the closure started, and its biggest week ever ended with the Sunday of the closure.
It’s getting to the point where a guy can’t cast a dark shadow over everything anymore. Maybe I oughta switch to PR.
Now it’s the end of the year, and an even greater miracle has come to pass.
And lo, the economists fortold, there beith one sector of the economy that noeth not the law of demand-and-supply, which beith in its pure form elastic and supple, bending to the whims of consumers.
That sector neither riseth nor falleth based on high or low prices is fuel. So greatly do the multitudes desireth the essence of automobile that they will pay anything the oil companies are wont to charge.
Just today, I got this press release from the state Board of Equalization:
I’ve been getting similar releases all year, but this one further cemented my repeated contention that high gas prices have brought us to what at least one expert calls the “elasticity conversion point,” i.e., the point at which even gasoline consumption becomes subject to the laws of supply and demand.
That minor miracle, combined with the would-be disasters on April 29 and Labor Day weekend, helped push Bay Area Commuters into a place some thought they’d never get to.
That is, people have been flocking to BART, and presumably other modes of transit, in numbers even higher than seen while the MacArthur Maze was crippled. Christmas week saw BART’s SF Airport numbers also setting records.
Now that my foul perspective has been repeatedly chastened, I’ll have to make this prediction: A decade from now, we’ll look back upon 2007 as a turning point. This was the year we, as a society, finally realized that we had a choice.