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Archive for the 'Buses' Category

are we ready to stop driving? right now?

no-vehicles.bmpLast night I watched “The Amazing Mrs. Prichard,” a British television series about a grocery store manager who become prime minister of the UK  because of that longing many of us have for our leaders to use common-sense governance.

As one might expect, much of the drama comes from home-grown logic colliding headlong with the complexities of how things work in the developed world.

In this episode, Mrs. Prichard is frustrated that a G-8 Summit (eight leaders of the world’s economic powers) has come up with nothing concrete to deal with global warming. So after insulting the U.S. president, she proposes her own stab at the problem: On every Wednesday, no one in Britian drives.

I’ve actually seen this happen in a developed country. On Yom Kippur in Israel, 5.5 million citizens Read the rest of this entry »

Posted on Monday, November 12th, 2007
Under: BART, Buses, Carpooling, driving, Environment, ferries, Freeways, fuel, Funding, rail, Smart Lanes, telecommuting, Transit vs. driving | 15 Comments »

shot in the arm for bullet train thru Altamont

bullet-train.jpg 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.

But then Jerry McNerney, D-Pleasanton, is not your average Congressman. He defied the Read the rest of this entry »

Posted on Thursday, November 8th, 2007
Under: Altamont Commuter Express, Amtrak, BART, Buses, driving, Freeways, high-speed rail, Planning, rail | 11 Comments »

ultralight rail, just like grandma used to ride


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 »

so you wanna fight global warming, eh?

polar-bear-lanes.bmpYou want to stop global warming?

Hmm. Maybe. Sounds good. How?

You can take BART to work.

Not me. Don’t live near a BART station and the BART lots are always full when I drive to one.

You can take the bus to BART.

No. The bus stop is too far from my house. I’d spend 20 minutes just walking there. Then I have to wait for the bus. By that time, I could be at work already.

You could ride your bike to BART.

It’s hilly where I live. I’d get all sweaty. And besides, BART doesn’t allow me to take my bike during rush hour. Any other ideas?

Yes. Keep driving and pay a carbon tax of 23 cents a gallon, pay a rush-hour toll to get into the city and a peak-hour parking surcharge when you get to work.

But I’d be paying, what, five times Read the rest of this entry »

Posted on Friday, October 26th, 2007
Under: BART, Bicycling, Buses, Carpooling, connectivity, driving, Environment, Freeways, fuel, Funding, parking, Planning, technology, tolls, Transit vs. driving | 14 Comments »

comfort the lazy and get thee to work

After being called a traitor to bicycling earlier this week, I got to thinking: What we commuters need is a little comfort.

That’s partly why 70 percent of Bay Area commuters drive solo. It’s more comfortable to be enclosed in your own vehicle, to be able to choose the radio station, to chomp noisily on that breakfast burrito and to engage in ghastly personal grooming habits that even members of your nuclear family wouldn’t tolerate.

Not to belabor a single e-mail, but this bicyclist named John who heard me on KQED’s Forum program had a point:

Sure it’s `scary.’ The point, obviously, is to make it not scary. That’s why the other cities have things like colored bike lanes, protected Read the rest of this entry »

Posted on Friday, October 19th, 2007
Under: BART, Bicycling, Buses, Capitol Corridor (Amtrak), connectivity, driving, rail, Safety, trucks | 12 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


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


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 »

end of the line for budget fight

tracksend2.jpgThrough the good offices of conscientious colleagues, I received four copies of a news release reminding people that the fight over public transit, er, “transportation,” funding is still raging in Sacramento:

OAKLAND, CA, July 5, 2007: A group of 43 Alameda and Contra Costa county elected officials today sent a letter to Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger urging him to restore $1.3 billion in transit funds in this year’s state budget. The letter includes strong objections to proposed public transit funding cuts that would adversely impact East Bay residents, regional air quality, and the local economy.

That’s all very touching, but according to the governor’s Finance Department, a bunch of Read the rest of this entry »

Posted on Thursday, July 5th, 2007
Under: Buses, Funding, rail, transit equity | 4 Comments »

poverty and the suburbs: a short commute

Oh, the arrogance of deprivation.

Or at least of those who advocate for the poor and the downtrodden and those who claim to know something about people who live in one neighborhood or another.east-coco.jpg

I can get away with saying this because I belong to the latter group. It was only Tuesday night that I put a snarky little “but” in one of my stories when referring to eBART as a project that would serve the Bay Area’s “urban core.”

eBART, you see, will Read the rest of this entry »

Posted on Friday, June 29th, 2007
Under: BART, Buses, Funding, rail, transit equity | 13 Comments »