Part of the Bay Area News Group

Archive for the 'rail' Category

Advertising on BART cars: Easy money or tacky intrusion?

BART might steer its train cars into new money-making territory: turning the cars into moving billboards to help bail the transit system out of a budget jam.

We can hear the outcry. Don’t tarnish the sleek silver and blue cars, a well-known symbol of BART, with tacky advertising. Don’t let advertising invade one more place in our cluttered landscape. Those arguments will be one part of the debate whether BART should proceed with the advertising scheme.

But transit officials also said the economic downturn and the state’s raid on transportation funds has driven BART to scour and scrape for new ways to cut costs or raise money. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted on Tuesday, January 20th, 2009
Under: BART, Fare systems, rail | 8 Comments »

Riding rail to the airport

BART reminds holiday travelers to consider an increasingly popular option for getting to the airport: take the train and leave your car in long-term parking at a BART station lot.

BART is making 1,360 spaces available at its station parking lots for long-term parking during the Christmas and New Year’s holiday weeks. That’s double the usual number.

Riders can sign up at www.bart.gov/parking to buy long-term parking permits for multi-day trips.  Without a permit, BART riders are limited to parking 24 hours in a station. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted on Tuesday, December 23rd, 2008
Under: air travel, BART, Buses, parking, rail | 3 Comments »

Hey BART, can you float me to the airport?

BART may consider old and new technology — buses, cable cars, and a floating train held up by magnetic forces — as options for a long-waited service to carry train riders to the Oakland International Airport directly from BART’s Coliseum station.

BART is going back to the drawing board for an airport connector project because its $386 million elevated tramway plan has hit a dead end.

Read the rest of this entry »

Posted on Tuesday, December 9th, 2008
Under: air travel, BART, light rail, rail | 8 Comments »

happy trails

One of the nice things about doing a blog is that it can travel with you wherever you might end up.

I have a pen-pal, if I may use an anachronism, who ran an airport security consulting business in the Midwest and previously worked as a manager at both SFO and OAK airports. He did an excellent blog on that and other airport management matters.

He still does, even though he’s now working in Afghanistan.

Alas, the Capricious Commuter doesn’t have that choice. Even if this wasn’t a newspaper-based blog, my next home (hint: My pen-pal and I will finally get to meet face-to-face) would be a silly place from which to stir up discussion about transportation in the Bay Area.

As many of you may have heard, the newspaper business is doing a little better than Afghanistan. Nobody’s getting blown up and I’m confident that most of my 29 colleagues who got layoff notices last week will get jobs in some facet of the modern information industry.

At my request, over the last several days, union and management reps worked out a deal for me to leave our newspaper group and one of the 29 could keep her job. No one on either side asked me to do this nor hinted that I should. I merely concluded that it was a good reason to head for the door sooner than I might have otherwise.

Perhaps someone here, or a group of people concerned about transportation and gas prices and the like, will keep the blog going. That would make me happy indeed, knowing that I’d started something that didn’t stop when I left the room.

Whatever happens, I’ve really enjoyed doing the blog and I’ve really enjoyed reading your comments and sparring with some of you on the great issues of transportation around here.

As I’ve said before, transportation is more than just wheels and heels. It’s what links us and makes our civilization possible (along with, say, food and water, which are also important).

Those issues cross a lot of boundaries, as my recent stories on a federal rule proposal that threatens to cut off public transit that takes kids to school in both Oakland and Minot, North Dakota.

The issues of poverty and race come up whenever I hear people talking about whether our society should invest billions in steel-wheeled mass transit systems such as BART or save our millions to bring better bus service to the poorer and largely black and Hispanic populations that don’t have cars.

And of course there’s business, economics and government, which play into discussions on how we ended up so car-and-SUV-dependent in the first place. Developers want to build sprawl because it sells, they exert huge pressures on local governments that control land use. And the state government, which might in some parallel universe be inclined to control sprawl, can’t tell the local governments what to do with the land they control.

And ever since coal-fired steam train passengers had to hold their breath while chuffing through tunnels, environmental and transportation issues have gone hand-in-hand.

And of course some may conclude that all of these things are a function of people like me.

I, after all, wanted a house with a yard but not in unaffordable Orinda or crime-plagued Oakland. Plus, in a two-income family, I ended up living closer to my wife’s work in Sacramento. Thus I ended up with a 74-mile commute from my quiet enclave in the Central Valley. I try to take the train as much as possible, but it’s quicker to drive.

But my wife no longer works in Sacramento, chasing after Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger with a skinny notebook and a pen. She’s instead scrambling over the rocks and dust of Afghanistan with a long furry microphone interviewing those who live with war and those who are sworn to prosecute it.

As a result of these recent newspaper troubles, and the fact that our son is now old enough to fend for himself, I’ve decided to join my wife overseas. I may freelance or get a full-time job; it’s unclear at this point.

Who knows? Maybe I’ll start a blog.

Posted on Wednesday, July 9th, 2008
Under: AC Transit, air travel, Amtrak, BART, driving, Environment, fuel, Planning, rail, Security, transit equity, Transit vs. driving, walking | 23 Comments »

the battle for Proposition 1 begins

Tomorrow I’m planning to cover what is likely to be the last public hearing on the environmental impact documents for the California High-Speed Rail enterprise, or at least the part that connects the San Joaquin Valley “spine” to its Peninsula extremity.

It should be, but I’ll be careful about saying this because of past history, the last word on the whole Alamont Pass-Pacheco Pass debate, which was largely settled in December in favor of a Pacheco Pass route and a stop in Gilroy.

I’m not even sure why anyone needs to go to this thing, so certain is the outcome. On the other hand, the history of journalism is littered with cautionary tales of assumptions that turned out to be wrong.

Today I had a conversation somewhat more illuminating with Adam Mendelsohn, who recently joined the ungainly monikered “Californians for Read the rest of this entry »

Posted on Monday, July 7th, 2008
Under: driving, Environment, fuel, Funding, global warming, high-speed rail, rail, Transit vs. driving | 10 Comments »

there’s no such thing as free parking

There is very little that is free in this world, and that is especially true of parking. Somebody had to build the structure, somebody had to pay off the loan and somebody has to pay to clean and police the place as long as it’s in use.

A new 1,547-space parking garage opened in Pleasant Hill June 30, next to the existing garage and ostensibly a substitute for surface parking that will be developed into a “transit village.”

Parking is free there, but that may soon be remedied.

I’ve always straddled the fence on the issue of parking at BART stations. On the one hand, hardcore transit advocates don’t Read the rest of this entry »

Posted on Thursday, July 3rd, 2008
Under: AC Transit, BART, driving, Environment, fuel, Funding, parking, rail, transit equity, Transit vs. driving | 18 Comments »

high-speed government (this is not about the budget)

I knew as I was leaving the Senate Transportation and Housing Committee hearing yesterday, there was a good chance that I’d missed something important about AB 3034 or that I’d not fully understood the implications of the things I did catch for the story I was about to write.

I like to think that’s not because I’m clueless about the California high-speed rail saga. It’s just that the way legislation often moves in Sacramento, one can be forgiven for  Read the rest of this entry »

Posted on Wednesday, July 2nd, 2008
Under: Funding, high-speed rail, rail | 17 Comments »

McCain on the tracks

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).

An op-ed piece by Boston Globe columnist Derrick Z. Jackson calls attention to the fact that America’s suburban commuters are giving a significant boost to commuter rail, and that should make McCain very Read the rest of this entry »

Posted on Tuesday, July 1st, 2008
Under: Altamont Commuter Express, Amtrak, Caltrain, Capitol Corridor (Amtrak), driving, Environment, fuel, Funding, global warming, light rail, rail, Transit vs. driving | 5 Comments »

riding the wave

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 »

Posted on Friday, June 20th, 2008
Under: BART, Bridges, Buses, Caltrain, driving, Environment, Fare systems, fuel, Funding, global warming, rail, tolls, Transit vs. driving | 7 Comments »

transportation at the crossing gate

neglected rails

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 »

Posted on Wednesday, June 4th, 2008
Under: Altamont Commuter Express, Amtrak, BART, Caltrain, Capitol Corridor (Amtrak), high-speed rail, Planning, rail, Transit vs. driving | 8 Comments »