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Archive for the 'technology' Category

Odometer debate: saving earth or saving privacy?

Most of us want to protect our personal privacy and protect the earth from global warming. Can we do both?

An East Bay legislator said she is trying to avoid conflicts between the two goals in her bill that would require California motorists to report their odometer readings during their annual motor vehicle registration. But concerns over privacy are spurring some people to say: Prove it.

The friction emerged last week in a Metropolitan Transportation Commission committee’s 4-2 vote to endorse AB 1135 by Nancy Skinner, D-Berkeley.

Read the rest of this entry »

Posted on Tuesday, March 17th, 2009
Under: driving, Environment, Freeways, fuel, global warming, technology | 2 Comments »

Group seeks to derail BART to Warm Springs project

A lawsuit challenging funding for BART’s planned rail extension to the Warm Springs district in Fremont is the latest friction in a long-running dispute about how to expand public transit in the Bay Area.

 On one side, some transit rebels say expanding BART is the wrong way to go, and wrong thing to do with sales taxes and toll money.

“Too many people have drunk the BART Kool-Aid and become enamored with its technology,” said David Schonbrunn, president of the Transportation Solutions Defense and Education Fund, a non-profit group. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted on Tuesday, March 10th, 2009
Under: BART, connectivity, high-speed rail, rail, technology, tolls | 1 Comment »

meet the new bud, same as the old bud?

It being the day before California Handsfree Day, I was moved to run out of the office down to get a new ear bud to replace my busted three-year-old model. I drove to my friendly neighborhood T-Mobile store, only because that was the only place in the vicinity I could be sure would sell such things.

I don’t really like any cell phone stores. Walking in the front door runs the gamut from salespeople with their backs turned trying to get other people to sign away two years of their lives to a shark tank. They must work on commission, because even when I was looking at measly ear buds priced at $14.99, I was accosted by an extremely helpful sales associate.

“What kind of phone do you have?” she asked.

“Aren’t they pretty universal?” I asked, trying to sound Read the rest of this entry »

Posted on Monday, June 30th, 2008
Under: 511, driving, hands-free driving, Safety, technology | No Comments »

unalienable right to drink and drive?

lohan-ad.bmpI was struggling today to think of something to blog about, but thanks to the American Beverage Institute, I’m golden, like the translucent hue of a fine German lager.

I’m so used to receiving notices of the California Highway Patrol’s latest DUI crackdown, interspersed with the odd release on the governor’s highway safety conference or Mothers Against Drunk Driving effort to curb teen drinking that I found today’s e-mail from ABI quite, shall we say, refreshing.

Reading a header that made reference to something being “good for Lindsay Lohan,” I almost sent it to spam-heaven, but then I realized it was about ignition Read the rest of this entry »

Posted on Friday, May 2nd, 2008
Under: driving, Safety, technology | 4 Comments »

SUV owners: make ‘em pay

epa-fuel-economy-comparison.BMPAs I’ve noted, it’s difficult to pronounce the word “infra- structure” these days without putting “crum- bling” before it. Our recent story on the Dumbarton rail bridge is yet another example of that not-at-all retorical reality.

That in turn raises the question of how to pay for keeping up our highways, rail lines and ferry terminals, to say nothing of expanding those systems after we gulp down the $20-billion Prop 1b approved by voters in 2006.

Lucky for us, someone did a study about this.
prius-v-denali.bmp
Asha Agrawal, a research associate at the Mineta Trans- portation Institute at San Jose State University, and her colleagues had noticed that various members of the legislature had proposed various iterations of environmentally indexed fees for driving.

Silicon Valley Assemblyman Ira Ruskin, for example, authored AB 2791, which would basically penalize you if your 2011 GMC Sierra pickup upset the Read the rest of this entry »

Posted on Thursday, April 3rd, 2008
Under: driving, Environment, fuel, Funding, technology | 2 Comments »

clairvoyant traffic reports?

dr-who-gridlock.JPG

I get a fair number of calls from people with wacky stories or ideas, like the guy who called the other day and thought that BART’s computers were under the control of evil hackers. I wanted to tell him that evil hackers only subvert sophisticated, post-1990s software.

Today I got a call from somebody whom I could believe, although I have no solid foundation to do so or not. Still, what he said makes sense and I’ll let that be the blog’s verification standard for today.

As so often happens with these calls, he’d gotten my number from a story, this one about a U.C. Berkeley test on I-880 of a real-time traffic reporting system that relies on cell phones with GPS. It’s a tidy little concept: No sensors except the satellites for the Read the rest of this entry »

Posted on Tuesday, February 12th, 2008
Under: 511, BART, Caltrans, driving, Freeways, technology | No Comments »

now that you mention it, there IS a law

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Many thanks to the AAA of Northern California for sending me a concise roundup of all the driving-related state laws kicking in in 2008.

First and foremost is the one that has probably led to more confusion than the last 100 California ballot measures. I confess that just prior to July 1 of this year, I thought we were supposed to go hands-free with the mobile phone or face the consequences (Those would be $20 for the first offense, $50 thereafter, which I suspect for many will considered the cost of doing business).

But, as AAA’s Sean Comey notes, that particular law, along with its no-cell-no-text-no-anything-while-driving-under-18 counterpart passed this year, don’t actually kick in until July 1, 2008. So Californians, gab away, but try to practice with the earpiece occasionally so it won’t be such a shock this summer.

If it helps, I recently got to know a Caltrans road crew that lost one of Read the rest of this entry »

Posted on Thursday, December 27th, 2007
Under: Bicycling, driving, Environment, ferries, Freeway collapse, Freeways, fuel, other, Safety, technology, traffic signals, trucks | 2 Comments »

some good things about transit

i-880-in-the-rain.jpgAfter getting the most vigorous response to date for my Nov. 30 post, I shouldn’t dwell too much on the positive aspects of taking public transit.

But I believe in fairness, and today was a good day for transit; at least it was for this and a few thousand other commuters.

I made it to the train station with five minutes to spare and had the wisdom to avoid taking my bicycle because of the wet forecast. That left me with the dilemma of how to get the last 1.7 miles from the Oakland Coliseum Amtrak station to work on Oakport Street.

No worries, the 98 bus was there, waiting for me. It left about five minutes later, leaving some leeway in case the Capitol Corridor had been late. I made it to work in good time, which is more than I can say of Read the rest of this entry »

Posted on Thursday, December 6th, 2007
Under: 511, AC Transit, Altamont Commuter Express, Amtrak, Bicycling, Buses, Capitol Corridor (Amtrak), connectivity, driving, Fare systems, Freeways, Misc. Transportation, rail, technology, Transit vs. driving | 16 Comments »

so you wanna fight global warming, eh?

polar-bear-lanes.bmpYou want to stop global warming?

Hmm. Maybe. Sounds good. How?

You can take BART to work.

Not me. Don’t live near a BART station and the BART lots are always full when I drive to one.

You can take the bus to BART.

No. The bus stop is too far from my house. I’d spend 20 minutes just walking there. Then I have to wait for the bus. By that time, I could be at work already.

You could ride your bike to BART.

It’s hilly where I live. I’d get all sweaty. And besides, BART doesn’t allow me to take my bike during rush hour. Any other ideas?

Yes. Keep driving and pay a carbon tax of 23 cents a gallon, pay a rush-hour toll to get into the city and a peak-hour parking surcharge when you get to work.

But I’d be paying, what, five times Read the rest of this entry »

Posted on Friday, October 26th, 2007
Under: BART, Bicycling, Buses, Carpooling, connectivity, driving, Environment, Freeways, fuel, Funding, parking, Planning, technology, tolls, Transit vs. driving | 14 Comments »

TransLink: it’s no FasTrak

TransLink, the universal transit fare system that just launched, after two decades worth of development, service on AC Transit and Golden Gate Transit buses, has clearly had its share of problems.

I mean, they’re trying to integrate 26 different transit systems, some of which have trouble keeping things together within a single agency.

Now they’ve got the thing up and running, and Eric Schatmeier of Alameda raises yet another point for the system to worry about: Statements.

Here’s part of his e-mail to me:

I, too, have been a Read the rest of this entry »

Posted on Friday, September 21st, 2007
Under: 511, AC Transit, Buses, Fare systems, technology | 15 Comments »