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Archive for the 'AC Transit' Category

on and off-track

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News item:

OAKLAND _ A Capitol Corridor commuter train struck a car near the Jack London Square Amtrak station Monday evening, prompting an AC Transit bus to illegally pass railroad crossing gates and become jackknifed on the tracks.

Several trains were delayed, the worst an hour and fifteen minutes on the train that hit the car, which made an illegal turn in front of the train, an Amtrak spokeswoman said.

Oakland police said the driver of the car was not seriously injured and refused medical attention. No other injuries were reported.

Trying my level best to maintain my journalistic objectivity, I tried to imagine how this incident could have been the railroad’s fault.

First, there’s the whole Embarcadero issue. Here’s a street that also serves as something like a half-mile of railroad. It’s like the mother of all railroad crossings. Each intersection is gated, but the gates could be open when you enter the street, but close while you’re still driving along it.

I was on an AC Transit bus that came up to that very same intersection where the car was thrown off the tracks. The lights started flashing, and the driver Read the rest of this entry »

Posted on Friday, March 14th, 2008
Under: AC Transit, Amtrak, Bicycling, Buses, Capitol Corridor (Amtrak), connectivity, driving, rail, Safety, traffic signals, Transit vs. driving | 2 Comments »

the horror: AC Transit’s jet lag

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When I called attention to another local news outlet’s story on AC Transit’s love affair with Belgian-made Van Hool buses a week ago, I said I would be waiting impatiently to read this week’s sequel.

Looks like the East Bay Express’ Bob Gammon saved the best for last. This week’s story gives AC Transit officials a lot more to explain, and it certainly left me wishing I had done all that digging through the bus agency’s records.

While I enjoyed reading last week’s story, it didn’t convince me that these buses had dragged down the entire agency nearly as much as the drop in Read the rest of this entry »

Posted on Thursday, January 31st, 2008
Under: 511, AC Transit, air travel, Buses, Funding, transit equity | 9 Comments »

Van Hooligans

uncool-van-hool.jpgIt was with some pride that I dissected this week’s East Bay Express cover story on the rise of Belgian-made Van Hool buses at AC Transit. I enjoyed seeing that regular Capricious Commuter commentator David Vartanoff was quoted in the story and that another regular voice on this blog, V Smoothe, had a scathing critique of the story on her own blog, www.abetteroakland.com.

I read Bob Gammon’s story, “The Buses from Hell,” with interest, wanting to know as much as possible about these buses that get some riders and bus drivers so angry they might be provoked to throw something at these vehicles with sleek European styling. He’s won more awards for his work than I’ve submitted entries for, so I knew this would be something good.

I mean, you can’t go wrong when you start a story with, “Pamela Daniels lost her left leg to a Read the rest of this entry »

Posted on Thursday, January 24th, 2008
Under: AC Transit, Buses, Funding, Safety | 14 Comments »

railing against the darkness in Sacramento

wet-capitol-light-rail.jpgOnce again, I feel compelled to share my mis- fortunes at the expense of revealing my stupidity. I have to believe that there are others who regularly miss buses and have to drive an extra 15 miles to retrieve a forgotten mobile phone.

Perhaps it was my punishment for doubting that high-speed rail would ever be built in my lifetime. Perhaps it was what I deserve for not believing that people will all switch to public transit if only it were more convenient.

Or perhaps it was ignoring the sign in front of the Sacramento parking garage that said it closed at 7 p.m.

So I was in a hurry to get to the High-Speed Rail Authority board meeting where the board decided not to decide, thus deciding on a South Bay route for high-speed rail, which will improve the lives of millions of Californians and will be coming Read the rest of this entry »

Posted on Thursday, December 20th, 2007
Under: AC Transit, Amtrak, BART, Bicycling, Buses, Capitol Corridor (Amtrak), connectivity, driving, Fare systems, high-speed rail, light rail, parking, rail, taxicabs, Transit vs. driving | No Comments »

some good things about transit

i-880-in-the-rain.jpgAfter getting the most vigorous response to date for my Nov. 30 post, I shouldn’t dwell too much on the positive aspects of taking public transit.

But I believe in fairness, and today was a good day for transit; at least it was for this and a few thousand other commuters.

I made it to the train station with five minutes to spare and had the wisdom to avoid taking my bicycle because of the wet forecast. That left me with the dilemma of how to get the last 1.7 miles from the Oakland Coliseum Amtrak station to work on Oakport Street.

No worries, the 98 bus was there, waiting for me. It left about five minutes later, leaving some leeway in case the Capitol Corridor had been late. I made it to work in good time, which is more than I can say of Read the rest of this entry »

Posted on Thursday, December 6th, 2007
Under: 511, AC Transit, Altamont Commuter Express, Amtrak, Bicycling, Buses, Capitol Corridor (Amtrak), connectivity, driving, Fare systems, Freeways, Misc. Transportation, rail, technology, Transit vs. driving | 16 Comments »

you can’t get here from here

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As anyone who reads this blog should know, I love to complain about my long commute, about the 80-minute drive (in good traffic) and the 2 1/2-hour bike-train alternative.

If only I could have moved to Oakland or Berkeley, my life would be better, the lament goes.

But I recently learned that even people smack in the middle of the Bay Area can have an equally crappy commute, at least where public transit is concerned.

Lucinda, one of my colleagues here in Oakland, came up to me the other day and told me she could be asked to run another newspaper in our group while its editor was incapacitated. The San Mateo County Times is located in the city of that name, and by car, it’s less than a half-hour from her home in Alameda.

But she wasn’t too keen on Read the rest of this entry »

Posted on Friday, November 30th, 2007
Under: 511, AC Transit, BART, Bicycling, Buses, Caltrain, Capitol Corridor (Amtrak), driving, Environment, tolls, Transit vs. driving | 18 Comments »

ultralight rail, just like grandma used to ride

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What’s cooler than a bus, cheaper than most modern rail transit systems and a source of civic pride nearly everywhere it exists?

If you guessed light rail, you’d be just as wrong as I was. I always thought that light rail was a way to revive streetcars without the shame of having to say we were rebuilding systems we trashed in the middle of last century in favor of cars and buses.

But streetcars are making a comeback, and now even places as unlikely as Read the rest of this entry »

Posted on Thursday, November 1st, 2007
Under: AC Transit, BART, Buses, driving, Environment, light rail, rail | 7 Comments »

TransLink: it’s no FasTrak

TransLink, the universal transit fare system that just launched, after two decades worth of development, service on AC Transit and Golden Gate Transit buses, has clearly had its share of problems.

I mean, they’re trying to integrate 26 different transit systems, some of which have trouble keeping things together within a single agency.

Now they’ve got the thing up and running, and Eric Schatmeier of Alameda raises yet another point for the system to worry about: Statements.

Here’s part of his e-mail to me:

I, too, have been a Read the rest of this entry »

Posted on Friday, September 21st, 2007
Under: 511, AC Transit, Buses, Fare systems, technology | 15 Comments »

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

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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.

Read the rest of this entry »

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 »

transit crazy: the $60 bus transfer from LA

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Some people like BART. Some people like AC Transit buses. Some people like buses to the exclusion of rail. Still others hate rail and believe that urban bus transit the only way to know one’s true humanity.

Then there’s the guy that AC Transit director Chris Peeples turned me onto, a Cal Poly prof by the name of Ralph E. Shaffer who writes op-ed pieces for papers down south.

I couldn’t find the one that Peeples sent me via e-mail, but I’m guessing it’s going to run soon in the Daily News of LA, because he makes a reference to a paper of that name.

Anyway, he talks about a renaissance of bus companies in California:

Encouraged by government subsidizes  at the fare box, regional transportation districts have  sprouted up in recent years. Dozens of cities,  counties and special districts run buses. A careful  examination of their schedules reveals that an intrepid bus  rider could travel from the Mexican border to the Bay Area without Read the rest of this entry »

Posted on Tuesday, August 14th, 2007
Under: AC Transit, Buses, connectivity | 1 Comment »