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).
I think it was last weekend that I got a warning that my balance had reached the low threshold that I’d set for just such a warning. So I checked my account and discovered something else: About five transactions earlier, I’d gotten my federal stimulus check of $600.
It was a sad realization. I had planned all sorts of celebrations for the stimulus. I might have run out to the all-you-can-eat sushi place, sent my son to Marine World or maybe hired someone to keep track of my garden.
But the darn thing just evaporated in my sleep, perhaps serving the purpose of preventing an overdraft. Perhaps the overdraft would have been better. After all, the banking industry needs some Read the rest of this entry »
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 »
It seems fitting that tomorrow, what will probably be the area’s last Spare the Air free transit day, is planned to be a public relations, or, if you prefer, consciousness-raising event.
Like so many others in the Bay Area, I was excited about the expanded 2006 free summer transit program aimed at reducing vehicle emissions that cause smog. In fact, “Spare the Air” became synonymous with free transit that summer to the point where I had to constantly remind people that they weren’t the same thing.
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 »
It’s not unusual to get press releases from the governor’s office trumpeting the accomplishments of government, but one I received yesterday was especially worrisome.
It said Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger was announcing $136 million for transit projects statewide, the biggest of which was $36 million for BART’s Station Modernization Program.
Already working on another story, I didn’t relish the idea of picking up another to turn around in one day. But I called around and ascertained that this “story” was just what I initially thought it was: Read the rest of this entry »
While I’ve spent much of this week on the blog bickering over high-speed rail funding, I’ve noticed a thread emerge that speaks to all forms of transportation, especially the ubiquitous solo vehicle commute.
Time and time again, public transportation advocates, who are fighting for nickles and dimes in Sacramento in these days of $15 billion budget holes, tell me that driving isn’t free. Roads and highways aren’t free.
Yes, even freeways aren’t free.
Every year, state and local governments pay billions of dollars for the upkeep of our roads and highways. You know that guy in the Read the rest of this entry »
On Tuesday, May 20, the Oakland-based Transportation and Land Use Coalition will join transit and environmental advocates in Sacramento for a day of lobbying.
The central message is that if ever there were a time to not suck the life out of gasoline sales tax receipts that state law earmarks for public transit, this is it.
This view is shared by a lot of people who don’t collect a per diem for hanging out in the Capitol Building, such as Bay Area transportation officials, people who worry about global warming and people who don’t own cars.
But this year, things appear to be different from last year, when that stash of transit money, swelled from rising gas prices, was too tempting a 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.
The states of Washington, Oregon and Idaho have reduced their gasoline usage to about a gallon lower than the national average, according to a study I found in my inbox this morning:
Measured per capita, gasoline consumption in
the Pacifi c Northwest states has fallen to its lowest level since 1966. Per-person gas consumption in the region has declined in seven of the last eight years; and climate-warming CO2 emissions from gasoline have fallen by six-tenths of a ton per capita in the region since 1999. That decline in per capita gasoline consumption—11 percent, overall—is the equivalent of every driver in the Northwest taking a Read the rest of this entry »