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Archive for March, 2009

Politicos talk of gas tax, but will public support it?

Talk of a gas tax is getting more attention as our roads and public transit systems struggle  from money shortages, but it remains a risky proposition for politicians to consider a tax hike for a basic commodity in a recession.

California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger said on Meet the Press Sunday he thinks we should consider raising the 18.4 cents a gallon federal gas tax to pay for projects to help revive the economy. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted on Wednesday, March 25th, 2009
Under: driving, Freeways | No Comments »

Can a dinosaur evolve before it’s too late?

You wouldn’t nominate the boss of a major American auto manufacturer as the likeliest person to suggest the nation consider a huge increase in the federal gas tax.

But General Motors CEO Rich Wagoner told reporters earlier this week that a big gas hike might be good for America as an incentive for consumers to save energy by buying hybrids, electrics and other fuel efficient vehicles. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted on Friday, March 20th, 2009
Under: driving, Environment, fuel, global warming, Misc. Transportation | 1 Comment »

Americans Rock & Roll – But, Increasingly, We Don’t Drive

Travel on all U.S. roads and streets dropped 3.1 percent, or 7 billion vehicle miles for January 2009 as compared with January 2008. Woo Hoo! Traffic dropped the most in the north central region of the country, the area from Ohio to the Dakotas, going down 6 percent. Bad news for the West: We were the only one of the Department of Transportation’s designated areas in the country where driving increased. Drivers in the bloc of states including Hawaii and Alaska posted an increase of .2 percent.

 (Photo: ryanrocketship on flickr.)

Posted on Thursday, March 19th, 2009
Under: driving, Environment, fuel | 2 Comments »

Odometer debate: saving earth or saving privacy?

Most of us want to protect our personal privacy and protect the earth from global warming. Can we do both?

An East Bay legislator said she is trying to avoid conflicts between the two goals in her bill that would require California motorists to report their odometer readings during their annual motor vehicle registration. But concerns over privacy are spurring some people to say: Prove it.

The friction emerged last week in a Metropolitan Transportation Commission committee’s 4-2 vote to endorse AB 1135 by Nancy Skinner, D-Berkeley.

Read the rest of this entry »

Posted on Tuesday, March 17th, 2009
Under: driving, Environment, Freeways, fuel, global warming, technology | 2 Comments »

AC Transit is latest expected to boost fares

The AC Transit board tonight is expected to raise fares in the latest of a series of public transit fare increases sweeping across the Bay Area and California.

For anyone who wants to attend, the meeting is scheduled to start at 5 p.m. at AC’s headquarters at 1600 Franklin St, Oakland. The basic fare is proposed to rise from $1.75 to $2 on July 1. 

It’s too bad, many transit advocates say, that fares are going up after a year in which ridership made strong gains as many people, frustrated by higher gas prices, left their cars at home and rode the bus or train.

AC Transit board members have said a fare increase is a bitter but necessary medicine to combat the sharp decline in sale tax revenues that provide much of bus operating funds. AC leaders also grumbled that their district  took a $25 million hit in the state’s raid on transit funds to balance the state’s budget. Based on those repeated statements, a good guess is the board will adopt the fare hike.

You also can expect some public grousing though. Some district critics are incensed that AC Transit is going after a fare hike even though the district won voter approval in November to double a parcel district from $48 to $96 annually in most of the district.  Other transit systems in the East Bay don’t collect parcel taxes to hep them cover operating costs, critics note.


Posted on Wednesday, March 11th, 2009
Under: AC Transit, Buses, Fare systems | 2 Comments »

Group seeks to derail BART to Warm Springs project

A lawsuit challenging funding for BART’s planned rail extension to the Warm Springs district in Fremont is the latest friction in a long-running dispute about how to expand public transit in the Bay Area.

 On one side, some transit rebels say expanding BART is the wrong way to go, and wrong thing to do with sales taxes and toll money.

“Too many people have drunk the BART Kool-Aid and become enamored with its technology,” said David Schonbrunn, president of the Transportation Solutions Defense and Education Fund, a non-profit group. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted on Tuesday, March 10th, 2009
Under: BART, connectivity, high-speed rail, rail, technology, tolls | 1 Comment »

Choosing ‘pleasing names’ for CoCo County streets in 1890

“In Contra Costa there is quite a foreign population, and foreign names are used in some cases,” the San Francisco Pacific Rural Press informed its readers in 1890 as it reported on “the more progressive citizens of Contra Costa County” and their work selecting “pleasing names” for the county’s country roads. The article kindly explains Read the rest of this entry »

Posted on Wednesday, March 4th, 2009
Under: Misc. Transportation | 2 Comments »

Possum not playing; it leaves BART line dead in its track

Service on one of BART’s busiest train lines was disrupted for an hour in Contra Costa County this morning by a possum.

The marsupial paid with its life when it wandered into a track switching mechanism near Concord, burning out the switching motor and halting train service between Concord and Pleasant Hill until repairs were made.

“I’ve been here four and a half years and this is the first time I’ve heard of this happening,” said BART spokesman Jim Allison.

BART created a bus bridge to shuttle passengers past the temporary service blockage.  



Posted on Tuesday, March 3rd, 2009
Under: BART, Buses, rail | No Comments »

Texting on train headed toward disaster

Anyone who rides a train to work likely will feel a chill down their spine upon reading today’s news stories about the locomotive engineer in control of a commuter train that crashed into a freight train in a Los Angeles suburb last September, killing 25 people and injuring another 135.

The engineer regularly sent cellphone text messages to train buffs while he ran Metrolink trains, and he sometimes allowed teenage train buffs to ride in the cab, and on one occasion, take control of the train, according to new stories based on the text message transcripts.

Talk about taking risks with riders who trust a public transit carrier to get them to their destination safely. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted on Tuesday, March 3rd, 2009
Under: BART, rail, Safety | No Comments »