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Archive for the 'Planning' Category

they saw this in 1957, luckily for us


Behind every successful public service, there was an idea. That idea led to a proposal and that proposal led to a big bureaucracy that, whatever its faults, got the job accomplished.

Such is the case with the Bay Area Rapid Transit District, which was born by an act of the California legislature and governor on June 4, 1957.

BART, the entity, is now 50.

With the help of our librarian, I was able to find Read the rest of this entry »

Posted on Monday, June 4th, 2007
Under: BART, Freeway collapse, Freeways, Planning, rail, Transit vs. driving | 14 Comments »

Transportation Funding 101


So you want to know what your transportation tax dollars are paying for?

For starters, lunch.

NOTE: While it’s not uncommon for public agencies to foot the bill for lunch at informational briefing for officials and the press, the host of this particular one, Alameda County Supervisor Scott Haggerty, informed me on April 13 that he had paid for this lunch himself, and this item had made him look stupid. You can read my apology here (link pending).

I had a lovely grilled salmon with asparagus at Stacie’s at Waterford in Dublin, which was just close enough from the Dublin/Pleasanton BART station that I was able to bike there without breaking a sweat.

Now, before you start objecting, you should know that the asparagus was perfectly ripe and cooked just to the point where you needed a knife to cut it, but you didn’t need to chew it for 20 minutes. No cheese sandwiches on this blog.

You should also know that it was for a good cause, and I have no doubt that when my editor reads this, he will insist that I either Read the rest of this entry »

Posted on Thursday, April 5th, 2007
Under: BART, driving, Freeways, Funding, Planning, Smart Lanes, tolls, Transit vs. driving | No Comments »

touching a nerve along the I-580 slow lane


Responding to my rather light-hearted story was an angry commuter named David, who I assume commutes on Interstate 580 through the Livermore Valley. He seemed to find Alameda County Supervisor Scott Haggerty‘s angst over 2 p.m. traffic on 580 to show the Metropolitan Transportation Commission member (and this reporter, by extension) to be out of touch:

Did I read your article correctly where you stated that Sup. Haggerty left Oakland at 1:45 expecting to be in Livermore for a 2 PM event, “after leaving Oakland at 1:45″?  Is this guy Read the rest of this entry »

Posted on Monday, March 12th, 2007
Under: driving, Freeways, Funding, Planning, Smart Lanes, tolls | No Comments »

freewheeling with bond’s highway billions


The town of Willits, about halfway from San Francisco to Eureka, has waited decades for a U.S. 101 bypass. In recent years, it’s scrounged enough money to do environmental impact studies and pretty much all it needs now is another $170 million — half of the project’s cost — to make it happen.

That money may come from the $20 billion transportation bond voters approved Nov. 7 in California’s Proposition 1B. Caltrans has recommended the project over the objections of Read the rest of this entry »

Posted on Monday, February 12th, 2007
Under: Freeways, Funding, Planning | 2 Comments »

bonding with our country cousins

willits-rush-hour.jpgFor those of you who followed the tease at the end of my story on how Proposition 1B funds should be doled out (or not) to rural projects like the Willits bypass in Mendocino County, here’s a bonus.

There was a lot left unsaid in the story, probably because I like to wax poetic when discussing the Corridor Mobility Improvement Account and because there’s a lot of history behind the sorry state of California highways.

To quote Randy Rentschler (and you know I will), spokesman for the Metropolitan Transportation Commission, “no one has ever shortchanged Read the rest of this entry »

Posted on Tuesday, January 30th, 2007
Under: Freeways, Funding, Planning | No Comments »

it takes a transit village

256_transitvillage.jpgIn spite of my Capitol Corridor train stopping, it seemed, between every station to let other trains pass, I managed to attend most of a background discussion this morning on transit villages at the Metropolitan Transportation Commission’s well-furnished offices at Lake Merritt.

Of course, the regional trasnsportation planners have an abbreviation: TODs, for transit-oriented development.

These marvels of social engineering are the best weapon America seems to have against sprawl, with the anticipated side benefit of reducing congestion and smog.

The idea is simple: Build a densely packed mix of homes, shops and buisinesses around a  Read the rest of this entry »

Posted on Friday, November 17th, 2006
Under: BART, ferries, Planning | 2 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 »

propositioning commuters

First, let me say that I’m just a dispassionate bearer of information. I would not think to endorse anything or anyone on the Nov. 7 ballot (you don’t have to wait if you’re an Alameda County voter).

But I am moved to bring up, perhaps even start a discussion, on some ballot measures that could be very important to people who ply the roads and rails of the Bay Area.

Prop 1A and 1B arewhich side are you on.jpg

big, and everyone should know about them.1A seeks to sew up some of the loopholes that allow the state government to raid transportation funding that comes from sales tax on fuel.

1B will borrow $20 billion for Read the rest of this entry »

Posted on Thursday, October 19th, 2006
Under: Environment, Funding, Planning | No Comments »

keeping up with the Jeanses

 Artwork by John Mattos from

train_stylized-John Mattos from mtc site.jpgThis week the American Public Transportation Association is having its annual confab in San Jose, chosen, I suppose, because it is a city on the cusp of being viably connected to the rest of the Bay Area.

What I got out of it was some instant national relevance for BART’s latest ridership record.

To avoid spending an extra Read the rest of this entry »

Posted on Tuesday, October 10th, 2006
Under: BART, Capitol Corridor (Amtrak), Freeways, Funding, high-speed rail, Planning, rail | 6 Comments »

park it on the bus

In hopes of starting a regular Capricious Commuter Guest Flame-Fest on issues of interest, here is an e-mail from former BART director Roy Nakadegawa, P.E., to Tim Hunt, associate publisher of the Pleasanton-based Tri-Valley Herald, talking about Hunt’s commentary on a lack of parking at subway stations, in the Bay Area and on a trip to the Washington, D.C., Area.:

mini parking sign.jpg

It’s the classic suburban vs. urban view of transit, in my humble opinion, but read for yourself.

I was reviewing my various email and found I never responded to your misguided view on parking.

Your note on what I expressed about Read the rest of this entry »

Posted on Friday, June 9th, 2006
Under: BART, Buses, Planning, transit equity, Transit vs. driving | 7 Comments »