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Archive for the 'Transit vs. driving' Category

traffic congestion is sooo 2007

After three weeks of on-again-off-again vacation and quality time with my intercontinental marriage, I am back and promise to keep the blog from getting stale. I am also somewhat ashamed that when my colleague next door is writing haikus and quoting Lao-tzu for his blog, I’m doing the sound of one hand clapping.

And as luck would have it, my overflowing e-mail box contained a pitch for me to talk to a company that provides traffic data for navigation services.

It said that San Francisco/Oakland area has the nation’s ?-worst traffic congestion and seemed to imply that this should make me stand up and take notice. (I can’t tell you Read the rest of this entry »

Posted on Monday, June 16th, 2008
Under: 511, AC Transit, Altamont Commuter Express, Amtrak, Buses, driving, Environment, Fare systems, Freeways, fuel, global warming, Transit vs. driving | 3 Comments »

good news is no news

20080610_1b.asf
It’s not unusual to get press releases from the governor’s office trumpeting the accomplishments of government, but one I received yesterday was especially worrisome.

It said Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger was announcing $136 million for transit projects statewide, the biggest of which was $36 million for BART’s Station Modernization Program.

Already working on another story, I didn’t relish the idea of picking up another to turn around in one day. But I called around and ascertained that this “story” was just what I initially thought it was: Read the rest of this entry »

Posted on Wednesday, June 11th, 2008
Under: fuel, Funding, Transit vs. driving | 2 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 »

enjoy your free ride while it lasts

While I’ve spent much of this week on the blog bickering over high-speed rail funding, I’ve noticed a thread emerge that speaks to all forms of transportation, especially the ubiquitous solo vehicle commute.

Time and time again, public transportation advocates, who are fighting for nickles and dimes in Sacramento in these days of $15 billion budget holes, tell me that driving isn’t free. Roads and highways aren’t free.

Yes, even freeways aren’t free.

Every year, state and local governments pay billions of dollars for the upkeep of our roads and highways. You know that guy in the Read the rest of this entry »

Posted on Thursday, May 22nd, 2008
Under: Carpooling, casual carpools, driving, Freeways, fuel, Funding, global warming, parking, tolls, Transit vs. driving | 4 Comments »

the warm, fuzzy politics of bike-to-work

john-fricke-and-the-twins.bmp

My Bike-to-Work Day started out really well this year, at least on a personal level.

Last year, I was a total fraud, driving the Honda Civic with the bike shoved in the back so I could use it as a prop to blend in. It’s not easy to get from Point A to B to C in the space of two hours and still report on this thing when you have to pedal a good distance.

But this morning I got off the train at Emeryville at 7:15 a.m., did some reporting at the Civic Center, and managed to get to Oakland City Hall quick enough to spend some quality time with the city’s most notable cyclists.

And a funny thing happened on my way to shrink my carbon footprint.

The traditional bike-to-work story is somewhat fluffy, but Read the rest of this entry »

Posted on Thursday, May 15th, 2008
Under: Bay Bridge, Bicycling, Bridges, Caltrans, Capitol Corridor (Amtrak), driving, global warming, Retrofitting, Transit vs. driving | 5 Comments »

and this time, we mean it (about transit money)

On Tuesday, May 20, the Oakland-based Transportation and Land Use Coalition will join transit and environmental advocates in Sacramento for a day of lobbying.

The central message is that if ever there were a time to not suck the life out of gasoline sales tax receipts that state law earmarks for public transit, this is it.

This view is shared by a lot of people who don’t collect a per diem for hanging out in the Capitol Building, such as Bay Area transportation officials, people who worry about global warming and people who don’t own cars.

But this year, things appear to be different from last year, when that stash of transit money, swelled from rising gas prices, was too tempting a Read the rest of this entry »

Posted on Friday, May 9th, 2008
Under: Capitol Corridor (Amtrak), driving, Environment, fuel, Funding, Transit vs. driving | 2 Comments »

they threw away the Key


NOTE: “Goodbye to the Key Route System” Video provided by Bob Franklin, BART director and music video director. Vocals by Mel Leroy, lyrics by Judith Offer with Joyce Whitelaw on piano and Lynn Parker on drums.

A week ago, I prompted people to wax nostalgic about the Key System on the occasion of the 50th anniversary of its death. I still find it curious in this day of controversial transit subsidies that a private urban transit system could survive for the first half the last century. Maybe it’s because it was built and operated by a developer and, as transit and smart-growth devotees now preach, housing, business and transit need to be compatible.

Some of you wanted to talk about just that: The kind of housing density that helps transit work, starting with apartments and condominiums. Looking back at development pre-World War II, when the Key System was thriving, it tended to be much denser. Then the GIs came home with spending money, bought cars and the era of the white- Read the rest of this entry »

Posted on Friday, April 25th, 2008
Under: AC Transit, Buses, Planning, transit equity, Transit vs. driving | 18 Comments »

i’d rather be riding the bullet train


Ok, if a black man can be nominated for president, maybe California can build high-speed rail.

It’s starting to look like the wind is behind this thing, what with college students campaigning for it all over the state from now until November, when voters will have to decide whether they like the $10 billion bullet train bond measure or not.

I’m still waiting to see what sort of borrowing plan Sacramento will cook up to get us through the current budget crunch. I get the sense, however, that even that won’t stop the bullet train measure from going before voters.

Tomorrow between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m., students on UC Berkeley’s famous Sproul Plaza will be riding tricycles, jumping on pogo sticks and walking on stilts while wearing “I’d rather be riding high-speed rail” t-shirts.

These students, sold on the idea that the bullet train is public transportation’s answer to the Prius and a major way of fighting global warming, have been pulling off stunts like this up and down the state. While the students’ enthusiasm at first blush might evoke comparisons to Barack Obama’s youthful appeal, I see it a bit differently.

The presidential parallel I see in the bullet train’s renaissance resides in Read the rest of this entry »

Posted on Wednesday, April 23rd, 2008
Under: Altamont Commuter Express, Amtrak, BART, Bicycling, Capitol Corridor (Amtrak), connectivity, driving, Environment, fuel, Funding, global warming, high-speed rail, rail, Transit vs. driving | 11 Comments »

gas misers in NW, but what of California?

The states of Washington, Oregon and Idaho have reduced their gasoline usage to about a gallon lower than the national average, according to a study I found in my inbox this morning:

Measured per capita, gasoline consumption in
the Pacifi c Northwest states has fallen to its lowest level since 1966. Per-person gas consumption in the region has declined in seven of the last eight years; and climate-warming CO2 emissions from gasoline have fallen by six-tenths of a ton per capita in the region since 1999. That decline in per capita gasoline consumption—11 percent, overall—is the equivalent of every driver in the Northwest taking a Read the rest of this entry »

Posted on Thursday, April 17th, 2008
Under: driving, Environment, fuel, global warming, Misc. Transportation, Transit vs. driving | 13 Comments »

the Key Route remembered

key-system-streetcar-1954.jpg

Today I received an advisory announcing that on Friday, AC Transit would be celebrating the demise of its predecessor, the Key System.

Ok, they’re not cheering the end of “one of the most efficient transportation systems in the world, which also marked the beginning of AC Transit (insert superlative here), but they are drawing a rather odd comparison:

More than commemorate the passing of the Key Route era, they will assert the need to go “Back-to-the-Future” with the kind of Read the rest of this entry »

Posted on Wednesday, April 16th, 2008
Under: AC Transit, Buses, rail, Transit vs. driving | 12 Comments »