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Archive for the 'Transit vs. driving' Category

railing against the darkness in Sacramento

wet-capitol-light-rail.jpgOnce again, I feel compelled to share my mis- fortunes at the expense of revealing my stupidity. I have to believe that there are others who regularly miss buses and have to drive an extra 15 miles to retrieve a forgotten mobile phone.

Perhaps it was my punishment for doubting that high-speed rail would ever be built in my lifetime. Perhaps it was what I deserve for not believing that people will all switch to public transit if only it were more convenient.

Or perhaps it was ignoring the sign in front of the Sacramento parking garage that said it closed at 7 p.m.

So I was in a hurry to get to the High-Speed Rail Authority board meeting where the board decided not to decide, thus deciding on a South Bay route for high-speed rail, which will improve the lives of millions of Californians and will be coming Read the rest of this entry »

Posted on Thursday, December 20th, 2007
Under: AC Transit, Amtrak, BART, Bicycling, Buses, Capitol Corridor (Amtrak), connectivity, driving, Fare systems, high-speed rail, light rail, parking, rail, taxicabs, Transit vs. driving | No Comments »

Marin County, the toll rings for thee

doyle-drive.jpgIt’s really funny how things that make perfect sense to a roomful of bureaucrats make no sense whatsoever to most other people. I’m supposed to to bridge that gap, so to speak, because my job involves studying the logic of the bureaucrats and translating it into the vulgar language of Noah Webster.

Today I noticed that our free-spirited sister paper, the Marin Independent Journal, had a column that cuts to the very core of that disconnect.

Here’s the bureaucrat’s logic:

1. We don’t have enough money to pay for our existing infrastructure, to say nothing of building new infrastructure.

2. We need to get more people to ride public transit, to take the pressure off clogged freeways and cut back on air pollution (CO2, particulates and that old-timey favorites, NOx and SOx).

3. The easier and cheaper it is for people to Read the rest of this entry »

Posted on Monday, December 17th, 2007
Under: Golden Gate Bridge, tolls, Transit vs. driving | 9 Comments »

transit rage


I have to start by saying that our own personal vehicles bring out the worst in us. We’re in control. We’re anonymous. Those other faceless operators are trying to get ahead of us and we hate them for it.

But public transportation is different. We must face our fellow commuters, sans glass or metal dividers. We are known. On my train, the conductor sees my name when he checks my ticket. Amtrak knows more about me than Facebook.

But our vulnerability to schedules, reliability and our dependence on the system can take its toll on our psyches and behavior.

Or maybe it’s just me.

Two incidents of late have forced me to look deeply into the mirror and wonder if I need to get in touch with my Read the rest of this entry »

Posted on Friday, December 7th, 2007
Under: Amtrak, BART, Bicycling, Buses, Capitol Corridor (Amtrak), connectivity, driving, Safety, Transit vs. driving | 8 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 »

you can’t get here from here

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As anyone who reads this blog should know, I love to complain about my long commute, about the 80-minute drive (in good traffic) and the 2 1/2-hour bike-train alternative.

If only I could have moved to Oakland or Berkeley, my life would be better, the lament goes.

But I recently learned that even people smack in the middle of the Bay Area can have an equally crappy commute, at least where public transit is concerned.

Lucinda, one of my colleagues here in Oakland, came up to me the other day and told me she could be asked to run another newspaper in our group while its editor was incapacitated. The San Mateo County Times is located in the city of that name, and by car, it’s less than a half-hour from her home in Alameda.

But she wasn’t too keen on Read the rest of this entry »

Posted on Friday, November 30th, 2007
Under: 511, AC Transit, BART, Bicycling, Buses, Caltrain, Capitol Corridor (Amtrak), driving, Environment, tolls, Transit vs. driving | 18 Comments »

Your commute ain’t like Elvis’

commuter-elvis-3.jpgI was delighted to see that our very own news organization did a story on construction workers commuting from places like Fresno (weekly) and Chico (daily) into San Francisco to help build One Rincon Hill and other monuments to the divide between Bay Area haves and have-much-less-than-it-costs-to-live-heres.

In the piece by Anrica Deb, one of our student correspondents from the U.C. Berkeley Graduate School of Journalism, I found my doppleganger of sorts in an ironworker named Elvis, a.k.a. John Saenz:

“There’s no one north of Santa Rosa,” said the new father, who keeps a picture of his 7-month-old daughter on the inside of his hard hat. Saenz owns a house outside Healdsburg, 70 miles Read the rest of this entry »

Posted on Monday, November 26th, 2007
Under: Capitol Corridor (Amtrak), connectivity, driving, ferries, Freeways, Planning, Transit vs. driving | No Comments »

park! the herald angels sing.

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As I drove around collecting pie, wine and flowers to bring to someone else’s Thanksgiving dinner, I happened to cross over Interstate 80 and witness the endless stream of humanity stuck in stop-and-go holiday traffic.

It reminded me that I’d chanced upon a news release from Metro Networks, a traffic reporting company, on the top 10 worst holiday traffic nightmares.

Believe it or not, it actually elicited warm fuzzies as it conjured up some ghosts-of-Christmases-past spent on more than one of the freeways on the list.

Like eggnog or jelly donuts, it seems that holiday traffic jams have become such traditions that the thought of them can actually elicit joy.

My special memory is bumping though the industrial wasteland of Read the rest of this entry »

Posted on Friday, November 23rd, 2007
Under: Amtrak, Buses, Capitol Corridor (Amtrak), connectivity, driving, Freeways, other, rail, Transit vs. driving | No Comments »

long commutes bad for your healthcare

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First, let me say that I didn’t choose to commute nearly 150 miles each day. It was a byproduct of my being a trailing spouse that over time became a monster I couldn’t control.

I make the best of it. I take the train when I can. I leave the necessary work vehicle in Oakland, pedal to the Coliseum Amtrak station and pay $11.75 to get home to the Central Valley.

Sure, I must be crazy. But so must Read the rest of this entry »

Posted on Wednesday, November 21st, 2007
Under: driving, other, Transit vs. driving | 6 Comments »

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 »

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 »