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Archive for the 'AC Transit' Category

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 »

BART hopes to ride stimulus bill to the Oakland Airport

BART’s plan for a rail link to the Oakland International Airport may get back on track with money from the federal job stimulus bill.

Back in November last year, I reported that the plan for a 3.2-mile-long elevated tramway hit a dead end for lack of funding. BART needed private partners to share in project costs, but failed to attract any allies amid deteriorating economic conditions and sharp declines in airline passengers.

Now President Barack Obama’s economic stimulus bill may come to the rescue of the proposed rail link between BART’s Coliseum station and the airport. BART now pegs the project cost at $529 million, a higher cost than earlier estimates because of inflation. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted on Friday, February 13th, 2009
Under: AC Transit, BART, Buses, Caltrain, global warming, rail | 3 Comments »

Less service, higher fees bedevil public transit

Many public transit riders are getting a raw deal these days: less service and higher fares. The Bay Area isn’t immune from the trend, either.

Boards for both County Connection bus system in Contra Costa County and the Wheels bus system in the Livermore Amador Valley area have voted to boost their basic fare from $1.75 to $2, starting in late March. Both agencies also are reducing service. 

The AC Transit board also will consider adopting the two-buck bus fare when it meets 5 p.m. Feb. 25 at AC Transit headquarters, 1600 Franklin Ave., Oakland. Some critics are steamed, saying the fare hike is coming much too soon after AC Transit voters decided last November to boost their parcel tax from $48 to $96 a year to avoid fare increases and service cuts.  Read the rest of this entry »

Posted on Monday, February 9th, 2009
Under: AC Transit, BART, Buses, Fare systems, rail | 3 Comments »

Name that brand! How do you color AC Transit’s bus rapid transit?

AC Transit bus by Flickr user allaboutgeorge under Creative Commons licenseThe AC Transit Board this evening will consider taking another step forward with their plan for bus rapid transit in parts of Oakland, Berkeley, and San Leandro.

Although an environmental impact report on the project is not yet finished, AC Transit managers recommend the board put out a request for proposal for between $175,000 and $250,000 in contract work to develop a brand identity – including a name, logo, decals, and color scheme for buses – for the project and its vehicles, stations and bus stops.

AC needs a “brand” in order to quality for federal “small starts” grants for the bus rapid transit project, according to a report by AC managers.

The meeting begins at 5 p.m in the second floor meeting room of AC Transit headquarters, 1600 Franklin St., Oakland. AC Transit managers also will provide a briefing on the status of the bus rapid transit plan and schedule.

Read the rest of this entry »

Posted on Wednesday, November 19th, 2008
Under: AC Transit, Buses, parking | 2 Comments »

happy trails

One of the nice things about doing a blog is that it can travel with you wherever you might end up.

I have a pen-pal, if I may use an anachronism, who ran an airport security consulting business in the Midwest and previously worked as a manager at both SFO and OAK airports. He did an excellent blog on that and other airport management matters.

He still does, even though he’s now working in Afghanistan.

Alas, the Capricious Commuter doesn’t have that choice. Even if this wasn’t a newspaper-based blog, my next home (hint: My pen-pal and I will finally get to meet face-to-face) would be a silly place from which to stir up discussion about transportation in the Bay Area.

As many of you may have heard, the newspaper business is doing a little better than Afghanistan. Nobody’s getting blown up and I’m confident that most of my 29 colleagues who got layoff notices last week will get jobs in some facet of the modern information industry.

At my request, over the last several days, union and management reps worked out a deal for me to leave our newspaper group and one of the 29 could keep her job. No one on either side asked me to do this nor hinted that I should. I merely concluded that it was a good reason to head for the door sooner than I might have otherwise.

Perhaps someone here, or a group of people concerned about transportation and gas prices and the like, will keep the blog going. That would make me happy indeed, knowing that I’d started something that didn’t stop when I left the room.

Whatever happens, I’ve really enjoyed doing the blog and I’ve really enjoyed reading your comments and sparring with some of you on the great issues of transportation around here.

As I’ve said before, transportation is more than just wheels and heels. It’s what links us and makes our civilization possible (along with, say, food and water, which are also important).

Those issues cross a lot of boundaries, as my recent stories on a federal rule proposal that threatens to cut off public transit that takes kids to school in both Oakland and Minot, North Dakota.

The issues of poverty and race come up whenever I hear people talking about whether our society should invest billions in steel-wheeled mass transit systems such as BART or save our millions to bring better bus service to the poorer and largely black and Hispanic populations that don’t have cars.

And of course there’s business, economics and government, which play into discussions on how we ended up so car-and-SUV-dependent in the first place. Developers want to build sprawl because it sells, they exert huge pressures on local governments that control land use. And the state government, which might in some parallel universe be inclined to control sprawl, can’t tell the local governments what to do with the land they control.

And ever since coal-fired steam train passengers had to hold their breath while chuffing through tunnels, environmental and transportation issues have gone hand-in-hand.

And of course some may conclude that all of these things are a function of people like me.

I, after all, wanted a house with a yard but not in unaffordable Orinda or crime-plagued Oakland. Plus, in a two-income family, I ended up living closer to my wife’s work in Sacramento. Thus I ended up with a 74-mile commute from my quiet enclave in the Central Valley. I try to take the train as much as possible, but it’s quicker to drive.

But my wife no longer works in Sacramento, chasing after Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger with a skinny notebook and a pen. She’s instead scrambling over the rocks and dust of Afghanistan with a long furry microphone interviewing those who live with war and those who are sworn to prosecute it.

As a result of these recent newspaper troubles, and the fact that our son is now old enough to fend for himself, I’ve decided to join my wife overseas. I may freelance or get a full-time job; it’s unclear at this point.

Who knows? Maybe I’ll start a blog.

Posted on Wednesday, July 9th, 2008
Under: AC Transit, air travel, Amtrak, BART, driving, Environment, fuel, Planning, rail, Security, transit equity, Transit vs. driving, walking | 23 Comments »

there’s no such thing as free parking

There is very little that is free in this world, and that is especially true of parking. Somebody had to build the structure, somebody had to pay off the loan and somebody has to pay to clean and police the place as long as it’s in use.

A new 1,547-space parking garage opened in Pleasant Hill June 30, next to the existing garage and ostensibly a substitute for surface parking that will be developed into a “transit village.”

Parking is free there, but that may soon be remedied.

I’ve always straddled the fence on the issue of parking at BART stations. On the one hand, hardcore transit advocates don’t Read the rest of this entry »

Posted on Thursday, July 3rd, 2008
Under: AC Transit, BART, driving, Environment, fuel, Funding, parking, rail, transit equity, Transit vs. driving | 18 Comments »

traffic congestion is sooo 2007

After three weeks of on-again-off-again vacation and quality time with my intercontinental marriage, I am back and promise to keep the blog from getting stale. I am also somewhat ashamed that when my colleague next door is writing haikus and quoting Lao-tzu for his blog, I’m doing the sound of one hand clapping.

And as luck would have it, my overflowing e-mail box contained a pitch for me to talk to a company that provides traffic data for navigation services.

It said that San Francisco/Oakland area has the nation’s ?-worst traffic congestion and seemed to imply that this should make me stand up and take notice. (I can’t tell you Read the rest of this entry »

Posted on Monday, June 16th, 2008
Under: 511, AC Transit, Altamont Commuter Express, Amtrak, Buses, driving, Environment, Fare systems, Freeways, fuel, global warming, Transit vs. driving | 3 Comments »

‘transportation’ vs. transit

One of the ways that Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger’s financial folks justify diverting fuel tax receipts that would otherwise be spent on public transit is using it for “transportation,” rather than “transit.”

That means that at a time when $4-a-gallon-gas is driving commuters toward buses, trains and ferries along with driving up the so-called “spillover” fund close to $900 million, this money is being budgeted for school buses and buses and vans that serve regional social service centers.

Make no mistake, these are things that would normally be funded out of the general fund, which is something like $15 billion short without such diversions and other schemes like borrowing against the state lottery or (now here’s a crazy, Read the rest of this entry »

Posted on Tuesday, May 20th, 2008
Under: AC Transit, BART, Buses, Funding, global warming, transit equity | No Comments »

they threw away the Key


NOTE: “Goodbye to the Key Route System” Video provided by Bob Franklin, BART director and music video director. Vocals by Mel Leroy, lyrics by Judith Offer with Joyce Whitelaw on piano and Lynn Parker on drums.

A week ago, I prompted people to wax nostalgic about the Key System on the occasion of the 50th anniversary of its death. I still find it curious in this day of controversial transit subsidies that a private urban transit system could survive for the first half the last century. Maybe it’s because it was built and operated by a developer and, as transit and smart-growth devotees now preach, housing, business and transit need to be compatible.

Some of you wanted to talk about just that: The kind of housing density that helps transit work, starting with apartments and condominiums. Looking back at development pre-World War II, when the Key System was thriving, it tended to be much denser. Then the GIs came home with spending money, bought cars and the era of the white- Read the rest of this entry »

Posted on Friday, April 25th, 2008
Under: AC Transit, Buses, Planning, transit equity, Transit vs. driving | 18 Comments »

the Key Route remembered

key-system-streetcar-1954.jpg

Today I received an advisory announcing that on Friday, AC Transit would be celebrating the demise of its predecessor, the Key System.

Ok, they’re not cheering the end of “one of the most efficient transportation systems in the world, which also marked the beginning of AC Transit (insert superlative here), but they are drawing a rather odd comparison:

More than commemorate the passing of the Key Route era, they will assert the need to go “Back-to-the-Future” with the kind of Read the rest of this entry »

Posted on Wednesday, April 16th, 2008
Under: AC Transit, Buses, rail, Transit vs. driving | 12 Comments »