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 »
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).
This week was a disharmonious convergence of most things I love about transportation in the Bay Area.
There was Spare the Air, which refused to be discredited as it died with a “yee-ha!” yesterday, racking up nearly 400,000 BART rides in one day, which happened to be the day after I blogged about what a futile gesture the final day of “Spare the Air” free transit was going to be.
As I watch the glare of the lights over the Coliseum, I can safely assume that more A’s fans will take BART home than in any previous year. No matter how much they complain about fares, they know that gas is more expensive. There may even be one or two fans who have already seen their personal scales tip in favor of selling their only 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 »
Today’s yawner e-mail comes from the Capitol Corridor:
OAKLAND, CALIF., March 17, 2008 — The Capitol Corridor Joint Powers Authority (CCJPA) has announced the highest annual ridership in the history of the Capitol Corridor service. “The February statistics from Amtrak show that our 12-month ridership total hit 1,523,630 passengers last month,” said CCJPA Managing Director Eugene Skoropowski. “This ridership beat our previous threshold that we broke in January when 1,503,210 riders boarded our trains.”
My point is not to belittle the fine work of Luna Salaver, the Corridor’s new spokesperson. It’s just that setting records on public transit systems these days seems Read the rest of this entry »
News flash from the California Transit Association:
SACRAMENTO — Less than two weeks after a Superior Court judge ruled that a $409 million diversion of public transit funding in the current state budget was illegal, the Senate Budget Committee last night re-instated the cuts by re-configuring the law on which the judge’s decision was based. Public transit advocates blasted the move as a deliberate end-run around the court’s decision.
“We argued that the cuts were illegal, and, on that portion, the judge agreed with us,” said Joshua Shaw, Executive Director of the California Transit Association and primary plaintiff in the suit. “So, rather than work with us to implement the judge’s decision, it looks like the Governor and the Legislature have instead decided to thumb their noses at the court.”
The Senate Budget Committee action was echoed today by the Assembly Budget Committee as part of the Extraordinary Session process of addressing mid-year reductions in the state spending plan. The matter is expected to be taken up by both houses of the legislature during special floor sessions on Friday.
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 »
I recently discovered that we progressive Californians are on a race into the future of high-speed rail travel.
Versus North Africa.
Yes, the tech-savvy nation of Morocco is planning to build its own high-speed rail line connecting Casablanca with Tangier:
“The project cost is estimated at 20 billion dirhams and will cut the journey between the two cities to two hours and 10 minutes instead of five hours and 45 minutes currently,” (Transport Minister) Karim Ghellab told reporters.
The high-speed train line would carry 8 million passengers a year after it starts in 2013, he added.
That time difference almost sounds like the Bay Area to L.A., car vs. our own HSR (which does not, I’m told, stand for “highly suspect ridership”).
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.