As we hover on the cusp of the New Year, here’s a story that might inspire us to consider alternative fuels: Air New Zealand today tested a passenger jet powered partially with oil from a plum-sized fruit known as jatropha, Scientific American reported.
It was the the world’s second commercial flight of a jet on biofuel. Other examples of biofuel include the much-maligned ethanol, made from corn (but you already knew that). Jatropha-based fuel doesn’t have the drawbacks of ethanol, such as driving up the cost of corn, because jatropha is a weed.
So, if Air New Zealand can do it, so can we. Don’t forget, Berkeley actually has a gas station that dispenses biodiesel, fuel made from oil such as that used to crisp fries; the city also has Green Motors, a dealership that sells only electric cars and scooters. Food (and fuel) for thought in 2009.
Ferries are merry, trains can be a pain, the bus is a plus … and Bay Area residents now have a totally unique transit alternative: the Airship Ventures Zeppelin Eureka.
Airship Ventures has been offering rides in the zeppelin since November, with trips along the coast to San Francisco, Carmel and Big Sur, Kamika Dunlap reported in this paper.
Ticket prices vary based on flight duration and destination – starting at $495 an hour. Don’t let us hear you complaining about BART being expensive ever again! and p.s.: What is the difference between a blimp, a zeppelin and a dirigible?
Car pooling has worked so well on Bay Area bridges that bridge operators are considering ending the free rides for car pool users during weekday rush hours.
I can hear the rumble of protest brewing among car pool users: “Hey government, we took car pools like you asked, so why penalize us by ending the free ride?” Isn’t that like water districts raising water rates in a drought to offset the loss of revenue from customers using less water? some people might ask.
The issue is likely to reverberate through the halls of the Bay Area Toll Authority - a regional toll collection agency – in the next year as the authority’s board and managers discuss how to pay for $950 million in proposed seismic retrofits for the Antioch and Dumbarton bridges. Read the rest of this entry »
BERKELEY — Despite stiff fingers from the Tuesday morning cold, Brielle Plump of Oakland managed to tear open the free square of Ghirardelli Chocolate handed to her at the downtown Berkeley BART station.
“Chocolate is good any time of the day,” said the Oakland resident, sliding the peanut butter-milk chocolate combination into her mouth as she waited for a San Francisco train. “It’s very nice of (BART) to recognize that these aren’t easy times in the economy and reach out to their customers.”
Plump and some 50,000 other riders got $1 million worth of free squares and discount coupons, bankrolled by Ghirardelli, as part of BART’s customer appreciation day on Tuesday morning. All seemed appreciative of the gift, though they still had some caveats about the system. Read the rest of this entry »
2008 was a Public Transit Party for the Bay Area. Real estate plummeted, banks crashed and unemployment soared, but BART, Amtrak and AC Transit not only survived but prevailed. Commuters flocked to public transit in record-breaking numbers, and as a final coup, California voters passed passed Prop. 1A for the statewide high-speed rail in November, putting the icing on the cake.
Of course, it wasn’t all roses. Tri Delta Transit cut back on service, as did the County Connection. But hey! In 2008, we learned that BART’s seismic upgrade of the Transbay Tube is going to cost $100 million less than expected. And the parcel tax for AC Transit passed (whether this is a milestone or a millstone is perhaps less than clear). Regardless, we can only hope that 2009 will rock as hard for public transit.
(Video of California High-Speed Trains: NC3D.com.)
This should sweeten your commute Tuesday, Dec. 16. BART and Ghirardelli Chocolate will give away chocolate squares and coupon cards as a thank-you to 50,000 riders, starting at 6 a.m. It’s healthy – the squares are filled with peanut butter! Well, uhm, relatively healthy. The giveaway, estimated at $1 million, takes place from 6 a.m. to 9 a.m. at the Downtown Berkeley, Oakland City Center/12th Street, Embarcadero, Montgomery Street, Powell Street and Civic Center stations. Ghirardelli is donating the goodies. Be there and be square!
Keep your mind on your driving
Keep your hands on the wheel
Keep your sneaky eyes on the road ahead….
We’re having fun
sitting in the back seat
Kissin’ and a-huggin’ with Fred.
Well, minus the last three lines, Bay Area drivers need to remember that at the beginning of 2009, California drivers must comply with a new state law making it illegal to text message or respond to an email while driving. (I’m sure we all already know that drivers are required by law to use hands-free devices when talking on their cell phones.)
This is good to keep in mind, as the very last thing you want to have happen to you is getting a ticket for texting as you weave through traffic at 3 a.m. Jan. 1 coming home from a night of riotous depravity.
I felt a shiver when I saw Doug Oakley’s front page story and photo today about “ghost bike” memorials to cyclists killed in collisions with cars or trucks.
A recreational cyclist and occasional bike commuter, I like to think of cycling as healthy and refreshing. But reading Oakley’s story reminded me how vulnerable humans on a 25- to 30-pound bicycle are when sharing the roads with a ton or 2-ton vehicle that can squash a rider like a bug.
I’ve seen cyclists do unsafe things like riding on the wrong side of the road.