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Archive for the 'parking' Category

Tracy to Livermore in five minutes


What if high-speed rail went through the Altamont Pass a teeny bit, and then stopped?

Sounds silly at first blush, but you have to bear with me here.

I heard about this at Wednesday’s Metropolitan Transportation Commission meeting, when a speaker critical of the area’s first comprehensive regional rail plan noted that Scott Haggerty, an Alameda County Supervisor who represents the county on the commission, had his own high-speed rail plan.

One could say, and one would be very sensible to do so, that the time for proposing new bullet train routes has passed. The California High-Speed Rail Authority is in the throes of an environmental impact process pitting the 100-percent Altamont Pass option against the Pacheco Pass options. The routes have been debated for years, the authority is getting a fifth of what it asked for in the state budget and a lack of resolve at this point might be akin to being the lame wildebeest as the lions are closing in.

But sometimes a wildebeest has to Read the rest of this entry »

Posted on Thursday, September 27th, 2007
Under: Altamont Commuter Express, BART, connectivity, driving, high-speed rail, parking, rail, Transit vs. driving | 24 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 »

Googling down the highway

google-street-view.bmpLet me begin by saying that I continually strive to be as objective as possible about everything. Ken Lay had his reasons and so did Pinochet, thus there are two sides to almost every issue.

I will even give Google some credit where credit’s due, even though they suck the very essence of those who subsist on creating intellectual property, robotically repackage it and sell it to advertisers who once helped pay for my child’s health insurance.

Today I found more evidence of why the search engine I can’t live with or without is becoming the new Microsoft.

I was looking up something on Google Maps, as I do obsessively, and noticed a new button, “Street View,” which I dutifully clicked on.

Blue outlines ran along MacArthur Boulevard in East Oakland and a little orange board-game pawn appeared on the map with a little balloon saying, “Drag me Read the rest of this entry »

Posted on Tuesday, May 29th, 2007
Under: driving, maps, parking, Safety, Security, technology | No 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 »

spare the hair day

sunday-demolition-by-dean-coppola-contra-costa-times.jpgWhile free public transportation offered on Spare the Air days was an experiment in social engineering with mixed results (10 percent jump in ridership, but disappointing smog prevention for the high cost), this afternoon we are about to see a much more compelling combination of carrot and stick getting cars off the roads.

It’s the sort of scenario that transit advocates dream of: Make it more painful to drive and less painful to ride BART, buses and ferries. No free parking downtown for commuters, variable Read the rest of this entry »

Posted on Monday, April 30th, 2007
Under: BART, Buses, driving, Environment, ferries, Freeway collapse, Freeways, Funding, parking, rail, Safety, Smart Lanes, tolls, Transit vs. driving | 2 Comments »

10 things I learned in a year by the Bay

arriving-at-platform.jpgOn March 20, 2006, I arrived in Oakland to set myself up as an expert on Bay Area transportation. I’m still working on that, but I’ve learned a few things since then.

The first lesson, after living and working in the wilds of Central Maryland, remote Long Island and Southern California, was learning just what Bay Area commuters had to complain about.

I mean, this place has a mass transit system like no other west of the Mississippi, freeways that don’t back up at midnight and commuter trains that run after 7 p.m. Not to mention, its denizens make their homes in tight valleys that make perfect little transportation corridors, like, you know, the Livermore Valley.

Ok, so I had a lot to learn about Read the rest of this entry »

Posted on Tuesday, March 20th, 2007
Under: 511, AC Transit, BART, Bay Bridge, Buses, Caltrain, Capitol Corridor (Amtrak), Carpooling, connectivity, driving, Environment, Fare systems, ferries, Freeways, Funding, parking, rail, Retrofitting, Safety, tolls, transit equity, Transit vs. driving | 1 Comment »

1.47 gallons for public transit

pumping-gas.jpg Public transportation records, at least for the last half-century, continue to be broken on a regular basis these days. BART had its best Saturday ever this month with the celebration of the Year of the Pig and it seems more and more difficult to find two seats to myself on the train these days (not that I’d ever block the #2 seat — I hate it when people do that on a train that’s getting crowded).

Today I was not surprised to learn that national ridership is up to levels not seen since Read the rest of this entry »

Posted on Tuesday, March 13th, 2007
Under: BART, Bay Bridge, Buses, Capitol Corridor (Amtrak), Carpooling, connectivity, driving, Environment, parking, rail, Transit vs. driving | 3 Comments »

great day to drive


I was gratified to see that the Metropolitan Transportation Commission had launched a new service called Predict-a-trip. If you’re planning to drive from Fairfield to San Jose, this collection of algorithms at will use the collective experience of FasTrak electronic toll tag users to estimate how long your trip will take using several different routes. You can also ask it for current driving times, just like you can when you dial 511 on your mobile phone.

Just what we need, another tool to make driving easier.

I say that because today I gave up Read the rest of this entry »

Posted on Tuesday, February 13th, 2007
Under: AC Transit, Altamont Commuter Express, BART, Bicycling, Caltrain, Capitol Corridor (Amtrak), Carpooling, casual carpools, connectivity, driving, parking, rail, Safety, Transit vs. driving | 4 Comments »

free parking in BART’s monopoly?

My lament about the shortage of parking at outlying BART stations caught the eye of reader Bob, who lays out a scheme for satisfying that demand:

Photo from

BART parking from www-berkeley-edu.jpgFor those purists who believe that only those who use All MASS TRANSIT ALL THE TIME … I say to you phooey! We must accommodate those who are not as pure of heart as you true believers, which means attention must be paid for those who commute to BART. The problem presents itself as to where those people can park when all the lots are Read the rest of this entry »

Posted on Tuesday, October 31st, 2006
Under: BART, parking, Transit vs. driving | 3 Comments »

progress on BART begins at home

Dublin Pleasanton Transit Center map from

DP Transit Center.gif

Progress is measured in so many ways: Technological, political, ethical, financial and so on.

For the Bay Area Rapid Transit system, I’m thinking riders have progress narrowed down to two categories: The progress of the particular train they’re on, which is generally pretty reliable, and the progress toward serving new territory. There are other areas, such as fares, which seem to progress upward and the many aspects that are quite minor compared to, “Are we on time?” and “Is this thing going to arrive in Livermore in my lifetime?”

Chief among those secondary concerns, I’ll wager, is parking. There are a lot of people out in the ‘burbs who badly want more cheap, convenient parking so they can jump Read the rest of this entry »

Posted on Friday, October 27th, 2006
Under: BART, parking, Planning, rail | 2 Comments »