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Archive for the 'Smart Lanes' Category

are we ready to stop driving? right now?

no-vehicles.bmpLast night I watched “The Amazing Mrs. Prichard,” a British television series about a grocery store manager who become prime minister of the UK  because of that longing many of us have for our leaders to use common-sense governance.

As one might expect, much of the drama comes from home-grown logic colliding headlong with the complexities of how things work in the developed world.

In this episode, Mrs. Prichard is frustrated that a G-8 Summit (eight leaders of the world’s economic powers) has come up with nothing concrete to deal with global warming. So after insulting the U.S. president, she proposes her own stab at the problem: On every Wednesday, no one in Britian drives.

I’ve actually seen this happen in a developed country. On Yom Kippur in Israel, 5.5 million citizens Read the rest of this entry »

Posted on Monday, November 12th, 2007
Under: BART, Buses, Carpooling, driving, Environment, ferries, Freeways, fuel, Funding, rail, Smart Lanes, telecommuting, Transit vs. driving | 15 Comments »

giving in to gephyrophobia


I must confess that I’m one of those people who is both fascinated and frightened by bridges.

Maybe it’s my acrophobia, although in my defense I must say it’s not exactly against human nature to fear falling from a high place, prehistoric cliff dwellers notwithstanding.

Then again, there’s the fact that I’m a relative newbie to the Bay Area, so I don’t think about all those years of living here without a major earthquake. When I cross the Bay Bridge, I think about the 1989 Loma Prieta Earthquake, the 50-foot bridge deck that came loose and the upper deck of the Cypress Structure that crushed Read the rest of this entry »

Posted on Friday, August 3rd, 2007
Under: Bay Bridge, Bridges, Safety, Smart Lanes, tolls | No Comments »

cookin’ up HOT lanes


I just received a news release from Newark Democratic Sen. Alberto Torrico, announcing success for legislation to speed up construction of HOT lanes through the Sunol Grade along I-680.

What are HOT lanes, you might ask?

They’re basically carpool lanes that allow carpools to drive free and toll-payers to drive solo. The idea is to make Read the rest of this entry »

Posted on Tuesday, July 10th, 2007
Under: Carpooling, driving, Freeways, Funding, Smart Lanes, tolls | 1 Comment »

what will they say about us in 2057?


On the occasion of the recent 50th anniversary of the creation of the BART bureaucracy, I noted the prescience of members of the commission that decided the Bay Area really needed a rapid transit system. They said that new freeways, which Los Angeles had pinned its hopes on, could not solve traffic congestion by themselves.

Now BART is contemplating its next 50 years with the knowledge that those guys in 1957 were Read the rest of this entry »

Posted on Friday, June 22nd, 2007
Under: AC Transit, BART, Bay Bridge, Buses, Caltrans, Carpooling, driving, Freeways, Smart Lanes, tolls, Transit vs. driving | 3 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 »

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 »

BART ticket: $1.40. Roads: Priceless.

streetsmart_1081.jpgJust the other day, I had a chance to pick the brains of Gabriel Roth, author of “Street Smart: Competition, entrepreneurship, and the future of roads.”

This guy is just what public transportation advocates need. They’re always saying that transit subsidies aren’t so bad when you consider the hidden cost of roads and freeways.

Well, Roth wants to lift the veil on those costs, and what’s more, he wants other people to make a profit on them.

“The fact that pricing of roads is poor, and that one has to have better pricing, has been realized for years,” he told me. The idea that roads and highways should be built and maintained using more of a business model of management is also an old idea.

So why Read the rest of this entry »

Posted on Friday, March 23rd, 2007
Under: driving, Freeways, Funding, Smart Lanes, tolls, Transit vs. driving | 3 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 »

pay as you go


Perhaps it’s just part of a larger trend of paying less for everything outside of Anbar Province, but the Bush Administration seems to have embraced the idea of congestion charges for freeways and dense urban areas. If the feds are totally behind this idea, it could be the best friend public transportation ever had, even if the money collected only pays for highway maintenance.

That’s because of the refrain I keep hearing from transit advocates: Freeways aren’t free. They cost billions of dollars to build and maintain, which to most motorists is an invisible cost until they cross a toll bridge or start working at Caltrans.

Exhibit A is the $20 billion California transportation bond voters passed Nov. 7. The first part of that hurry-up-and- Read the rest of this entry »

Posted on Saturday, February 10th, 2007
Under: AC Transit, Buses, driving, rail, Smart Lanes, tolls, Transit vs. driving | No Comments »

steal this highway

Photo from


Transit advocates should be overjoyed with our new federal transportation secretary nominee, Mary Peters.

 She said she supports user fees for highways, which could someday make the term “freeway” an anachronism.

Transportation people in Read the rest of this entry »

Posted on Wednesday, September 6th, 2006
Under: BART, Freeways, Funding, Smart Lanes, tolls | 1 Comment »