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Archive for the '511' Category

ok, i’ll say it: stay home on Labor Day weekend


We journalists are fond of disseminating news, or information that is new or previously unknown.

But today I’m going to tell nearly every one of you something that we’ve known for some months now, on the theory that one or two of you will be backing out of your caves on Labor Day weekend with the intention of driving somewhere.

Just to get your attention, I’ll put it the way Caltrans does on its variable message signs on all routes leading into the Bay Area:

The Bay Bridge is closed.

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Posted on Friday, August 17th, 2007
Under: 511, AC Transit, BART, Bay Bridge, Bridges, Buses, Caltrans, connectivity, driving, ferries, Freeways, Funding, Retrofitting, Safety, Transit vs. driving | 7 Comments »

tag! you’re tolled!

I was giddy with excitement last night when I went through the Carquinez Bridge toll plaza and realized that Saturday there’d be one extra FasTrak-only lane and that that stupid no-lane approach would be changed to a 3,000-foot FasTrak-only lane.

For those of you unfamiliar with the way of ETC (electronic toll collection), using the FasTrak lanes at the Carquinez often involves crossing a white line, as if you weren’t supposed to use FasTrak.

I guessed that the reasoning behind it was something like, “if you have an electronic toll tag, you must know where you’re going,” and “if you’re a tourist and paying cash, you ought to be scared Read the rest of this entry »

Posted on Friday, August 10th, 2007
Under: 511, Bridges, driving, Freeways, Funding, tolls | 2 Comments »

Big Brother is my co-pilot


The news out of Washington today is that our very own Caltrans, Metropolitan Transportation Commission and University of California, Berkeley, researchers are joining forces to monitor the movements of all vehicles in the United States.

That’s one way of looking at it.

The government has Read the rest of this entry »

Posted on Thursday, May 31st, 2007
Under: 511, Caltrans, driving, Freeways, Funding, maps, Security, technology | 1 Comment »

10 things I learned in a year by the Bay

arriving-at-platform.jpgOn March 20, 2006, I arrived in Oakland to set myself up as an expert on Bay Area transportation. I’m still working on that, but I’ve learned a few things since then.

The first lesson, after living and working in the wilds of Central Maryland, remote Long Island and Southern California, was learning just what Bay Area commuters had to complain about.

I mean, this place has a mass transit system like no other west of the Mississippi, freeways that don’t back up at midnight and commuter trains that run after 7 p.m. Not to mention, its denizens make their homes in tight valleys that make perfect little transportation corridors, like, you know, the Livermore Valley.

Ok, so I had a lot to learn about Read the rest of this entry »

Posted on Tuesday, March 20th, 2007
Under: 511, AC Transit, BART, Bay Bridge, Buses, Caltrain, Capitol Corridor (Amtrak), Carpooling, connectivity, driving, Environment, Fare systems, ferries, Freeways, Funding, parking, rail, Retrofitting, Safety, tolls, transit equity, Transit vs. driving | 1 Comment »

the loneliness of the high-occupancy hawker

U.S. Office of Price Administration poster by Weimer Pursell, 1943, from 

Carpooling vs Hitler.jpgI went out for coffee the other day with Susan Gluss, who has a job you would have to pay me a lot of money to do: Promote the Metropolitan Transportation Commission’s 511 Rideshare program.

Lucky for her, she’s got money to hand out right now in the form of free gas or groceries from Safeway. In three months of the program, they’ve signed up 400 new carpoolers, each of whom is eligible to collect a maximum of $100 of these “Rideshare Rewards.’’

Susan is a lovely  Read the rest of this entry »

Posted on Thursday, August 3rd, 2006
Under: 511, Carpooling, Funding, Transit vs. driving | No Comments »

Point of origin

I’m told that today this blog will be linked to the outside world after a two-week trial, so welcome, inaugural readers.

The point: to provide an outlet for Bay Area transportation stuff that crosses my path, but isn’t necessarily “a story” in the traditional sense. I’ll also drop in comments from readers and ad-lib from time-to-time about my own commuting tribulations.

In an area with such diverse ways to move around as the Bay Area, this kind of stuff is ridiculously easy to come by. In my short time here, I’ve found there is no limit to my fellow commuters’ appetite for transportation news.

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Posted on Wednesday, May 3rd, 2006
Under: 511, BART, Bay Bridge, Buses, Carpooling, casual carpools, Fare systems, Freeways, Retrofitting | No Comments »

what? you don’t want to be rescued?

I was on my way to work on the I-80 yesterday, calling 511 to find out whether it was safe to cross the Carquinez Bridge.

As anyone who comes in from the direction of Fairfield can attest, it can take the better part of an hour to get to the Bay Bridge if all is not right with the interstate. And all is rarely right with I-80 at rush hour.

According to a recent study I read, the morning westbound commute along that accursed stretch of freeway resulted in more lost hours of commuters’ lives than any other area segment. But I digress.

This is really about BART. Or maybe mudslides. Or both.
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Posted on Tuesday, May 2nd, 2006
Under: 511, BART, Freeways | No Comments »