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park! the herald angels sing.

holiday-travel.gif

As I drove around collecting pie, wine and flowers to bring to someone else’s Thanksgiving dinner, I happened to cross over Interstate 80 and witness the endless stream of humanity stuck in stop-and-go holiday traffic.

It reminded me that I’d chanced upon a news release from Metro Networks, a traffic reporting company, on the top 10 worst holiday traffic nightmares.

Believe it or not, it actually elicited warm fuzzies as it conjured up some ghosts-of-Christmases-past spent on more than one of the freeways on the list.

Like eggnog or jelly donuts, it seems that holiday traffic jams have become such traditions that the thought of them can actually elicit joy.

My special memory is bumping though the industrial wasteland of Read the rest of this entry »

Posted on Friday, November 23rd, 2007
Under: Amtrak, Buses, Capitol Corridor (Amtrak), connectivity, driving, Freeways, other, rail, Transit vs. driving | No Comments »

hopeless? try the Middle East

palestine-high-speed-rail-plan.jpgGetting up early this morning to attend a Metropolitan Transportation Commission meeting and opposing press conference about California’s high-speed rail enterprise (like the space ship), my brain nearly dripped out of my ears by the time it was over.

I had lost all context. I was starting to believe that someday, high-speed rail would actually get built and I should care if it did or it didn’t.

Struggling to fire a synapse long enough to put something on this blog, I found myself Googling aimlessly and suddenly, a light bulb ignited.

My previous brush with the concept of high-speed rail was in a concrete tunnel of sorts.

I was leaving the Gaza Strip, oddly enough, when I chanced to meet Read the rest of this entry »

Posted on Wednesday, October 24th, 2007
Under: Altamont Commuter Express, Amtrak, BART, Capitol Corridor (Amtrak), connectivity, driving, fuel, high-speed rail, rail, Transit vs. driving | No 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 »

critical of the masses

bike-lane-in-china-from-norisons2005.jpg

When I got invited to share my wisdom about Bay Area transportation this morning on KQED radio’s “Forumprogram, I though maybe I’d hear from listeners about my aligning San Francisco with the Bush Administration.

The outrage, I imagined, at the thought that the epicenter of all things progressive could be the running dog for U.S. Transportation Secretary Mary Peters’ crusade to make drivers pay through the nose for causing congestion. I mean, really.

But no, no one wanted to pillory me for such a suggestion, not even Steve Heminger, executive director of the Metropolitan Transportation Commission, who told me Tuesday that not everything happens because of politics.

He was, by the way, the only Bay Area transportation official I’ve ever seen hug a member Read the rest of this entry »

Posted on Wednesday, October 17th, 2007
Under: Bicycling, Capitol Corridor (Amtrak), connectivity, driving, fuel, Funding, parking, tolls | 2 Comments »

just a minor derailment on the way home

move-toward-the-light.jpgI had to post this when I got home; Sprint’s Internet air cards have gone down to $59 a month, but I’m not ready to bite:

7:15 p.m.: I may be crazy, but 15 minutes ago I got on a Capitol Corridor train that promises to take me home, but I’m not so sure.

When I arrived at the station, one of my fellow commuters was walking away from the station in a huff, saying there was a derailment.

“Where?” I asked.

“There’s a derailment. They’re not going anywhere,” he responded, looking at Read the rest of this entry »

Posted on Tuesday, October 2nd, 2007
Under: Amtrak, Capitol Corridor (Amtrak), rail, Safety | 7 Comments »

hello, Nancy? about my Commuter Check …

capitol-subway.jpgFrom the time I first had the option of  using public trans- portation to get to work, I’ve eagerly taken advantage of Commuter Check.

That was, until my company decided to stop subsidizing the program with about $33 of the maximum $110 per month that the federal tax code allows commuters to spend, tax-free, on transit fares.

I’m sure they had their reasons, and I won’t quibble with them. One of the side-effects of that change was to make everybody re-apply for Commuter Check if they wanted to get the pre-tax advantage even if there wouldn’t be any subsidy.

I’m not very good at applying for anything, so my Commuter Checks stopped coming as our office moved to 1.7 miles from the nearest BART station and Amtrak station and I started doing a lot more driving. I’m not blaming the lost benefit on my change in commuting habits, but I looked around recently and decided I’d better get back on the wagon, as it were. When the papers go through our HR department, I’ll be getting my $105 worth of Commuter Checks in exchange for my $55 pre-tax contribution. Not a bad deal.

But it could be a lot better, at no expense Read the rest of this entry »

Posted on Tuesday, September 25th, 2007
Under: Capitol Corridor (Amtrak), driving, Funding, parking, Transit vs. driving | 1 Comment »

no exit

I commute, therefore I am.

My apologies for disappearing for yet another hiatus. Last week I moved from a rental to the house we bought. It was supposed to have been Berkeley, from which I would have had what many would consider a normal commute to our large white office building near Oakland Coliseum.

Alas, my son signed up for biochemistry. That was my undoing.

Turns out it’s much more competitive than Read the rest of this entry »

Posted on Tuesday, July 31st, 2007
Under: Capitol Corridor (Amtrak), connectivity, driving, Freeways, Transit vs. driving | 5 Comments »

AC Transit: wi-fi king

ac-transit-wi-fi-door.JPGWhile I was busy oohing and aahing over BART’s little Embarcadero-to-City Center wi-fi test, I neglected a new wi-fi service that

A. Was actually a service, and not just Read the rest of this entry »

Posted on Tuesday, May 29th, 2007
Under: AC Transit, BART, Caltrain, Capitol Corridor (Amtrak), ferries, rail, technology | 15 Comments »

and on the 7th day, there was wi-fi

yearning-for-wi-fi-on-the-rails.jpgThere is a fever that burns in the heart of every laptop-toting
transit commuter.

We look toward the heavens, hoping for a signal, one that will make
our commutes productive and happy, one that involves Web access and
all the bounty that comes with it.

Because of this, I must praise BART for giving us a foretaste of the
feast to come.

For a few fleeting minutes Read the rest of this entry »

Posted on Friday, May 18th, 2007
Under: BART, Capitol Corridor (Amtrak), technology | 4 Comments »

a grim prediction

Everybody’s been saying that Monday drivers were scared onto BART and other public transit, and that later in the week we’d see people getting back into their cars and creating gridlock on all those alternate routes through the streets of Oakland, Berkeley and Emeryville.

Even so, Tuesday turned out OK. Enough people were still doing the smart thing and riding transit.

Today I don’t see things going so well. Not because it’s later in the week, and people are thinking: “I can take my car this time and it won’t create a huge problem, because all those other drivers are being Read the rest of this entry »

Posted on Wednesday, May 2nd, 2007
Under: BART, Buses, Capitol Corridor (Amtrak), Freeway collapse, Freeways, parking, rail, Safety, Transit vs. driving | 2 Comments »