Being a political junkie, I watched the Democratic primaries for any sign that transportation might become an issue. It never did and thus my career as a political blogger never got off the ground.
But today I see that the confluence of the general election, $4.50-a-gallon gasoline and John McCain’s legislative record have given me another chance to give the Daily Kos a run for its money (OK, so I’ll start with Political Blotter and work my way up).
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 »
For those of you patient enough to wonder what’s become of me, I was on vacation last week, digging up my yard and rearranging my house to meet my wife’s exacting domestic standards. As for this week, I blame the elections and their abject lack of transportation issues, unless you count Props 98 and 99 and the importance of eminent domain land takings in the construction of new infrastracture projects.
There isn’t, however, much call for taking land for infrastructure projects. In spite of the $20 billion transportation bond measure (Prop 1B) passed in 2006, this state and nation continue to suffer from a lack of enough freeway lanes, airport runways and other things that could help us get around.
I spotted an interesting AP story today talking about one of the most neglected forms of transportation infrastructure, even though we seem to want it more than ever as we anticipate $7-a-gallon gas:
While the nation’s attention is focused on air travel congestion and the high cost of fuel for highway driving, a crisis is developing under the radar for another form of transportation — Read the rest of this entry »
Ok, if a black man can be nominated for president, maybe California can build high-speed rail.
It’s starting to look like the wind is behind this thing, what with college students campaigning for it all over the state from now until November, when voters will have to decide whether they like the $10 billion bullet train bond measure or not.
I’m still waiting to see what sort of borrowing plan Sacramento will cook up to get us through the current budget crunch. I get the sense, however, that even that won’t stop the bullet train measure from going before voters.
Tomorrow between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m., students on UC Berkeley’s famous Sproul Plaza will be riding tricycles, jumping on pogo sticks and walking on stilts while wearing “I’d rather be riding high-speed rail” t-shirts.
These students, sold on the idea that the bullet train is public transportation’s answer to the Prius and a major way of fighting global warming, have been pulling off stunts like this up and down the state. While the students’ enthusiasm at first blush might evoke comparisons to Barack Obama’s youthful appeal, I see it a bit differently.
So, while I was blithely blathering Friday about CalPIRG and their campaign to promote California’s high-speed rail plan, the Sacramento Bee
was getting the real scoop on the future of our improbable love affair with 200+ mph bullet trains:
Democratic lawmakers have agreed to Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger’s request to include public-private partnerships for a high-speed train that could travel from either San Francisco or Sacramento to Los Angeles in 2 1/2 hours.
This morning I arrived to find a phone message from the Federal Railroad Administration. Seems someone in Washington had seen my story about California’s intercity rail services lobbying state government for more money.
What I might find helpful, the message said, was that the FRA had announced on Tuesday that it had started a new program to do just what the operators of the Auburn-to-San Jose Capitol Corridor and two other state-subsidized operators were looking for.
In the end, while every other major population center in the state is to be served by the mythical beast known as high-speed rail, Oakland is stuck with actual rail.
And it’s all Jerry Brown’s fault.
Yes, it was our newly minted attorney general who gave the California High-Speed Rail Authority the legal opinion that they didn’t need to actually vote to deep-six the idea of running their 200 mph (recently downgraded by 20 mph) trains past Tracy, Livermore, Dublin, Pleasanton and those other communities that suffer from a gross lack of transportation alternatives.
It’s not really Jerry Brown, or even the attorney on his staff who actually figured out the legal niceties that dictated the HSRA board’s lack of action. This decade-in-the-making battle was over three years ago, when the board made its initial decision to go with the Pacheco Pass.
It was the East Bay against San Francisco and San Jose, and that’s a tough battle to win. But since then, it’s become clear that Read the rest of this entry »
After 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 »
Just when it seemed the establishment was solidly behind the Pacheco Pass through largely undeveloped parts of Santa Clara County, along comes our new member of Congress to once again buck the conventional wisdom.
Now it’s not a major departure for one who represents long-suffering Tracy commuters who must slog daily down I-580 or endure the twists, turns and delays of the ACE commuter choo-choo.