Archive for the ‘Caltrain’ Category

We don’t need CalTrain for bullet trains, says HSR

California’s High Speed Rail Commission, the agency tasked with getting bullet trains running up and down the state sometime this century, says CalTrain’s “staggering deficit” and possible collapse will not keep it from proceeding with its plans.

Just because the local transit agency, which runs trains from San Francisco to San Jose (and Gilroy, at commute times), is facing drastic cuts to its schedule, even a possible shutdown, doesn’t mean the bullet train project can’t go forward. High speed rail would share the CalTrain right-of-way from Gilroy north (click for a Google map overlay of the bullet train route), and if CalTrain can’t hold it together in the decade or two before the bullet trains arrive, the High Speed Rail Commission might just take over CalTrain. At least that was the idea “floated” by HSR board member Rod Diridon, long-time transit mandarin. After all, they’re both essentially state agencies.

The map shows some details of the HSR plan on the Peninsula, where some sections would be in a trench, some on an elevated way, some at grade level.

Meanwhile, the threat of a lawsuit forced the CalTrain board to put on hold the long-planned electrification of the line. Inexplicably, the lawsuit is from an environmental group, even though electrification would make the line less polluting. Right now it seems CalTrain can’t do anything right.

San Jose Bike Party

Attended San Jose Bike Party last Friday:
San Jose Bike Party
Great attendance. I wrote a post on it, as did Wirehead, and others I’m sure. Organized by San Jose cyclists, it’s a “this is how we ride,” more tame version of group bike rides. Started, I was told, by a few guys who like to get together and ride, this event grew to 4K (at the second stop). I turned off at the first stop.
Yesterday at Zeitgeist I ran into a dozen or so chopper riders who were also at the ride. “We spun off for some beers,” one told me. Also ran into some other SF Metblogs emeritus writers, in San Jose. Seems like the thing to do, for cyclists. Comment below if you attended!

I circled the Bay basically on bike + public transit. Amtrak to San Jose ($15 from Emeryville), Caltrain ($7) to MUNI ($2) and then cycled back home to North Beach.


Translink now works on BART

translinkAdding a crucial link to its roster of participating transit systems, the TransLink card now works on BART. The multi-county BART system joins San Francisco’s Muni, the East Bay’s AC Transit, and Marin County’s Golden Gate Transit buses and ferries. Almost all the Bay Area’s transit agencies will eventually participate; only CalTrain is not on TransLink’s list, for some reason, though CalTrain does particiapte in some transfer programs.

You can order a sturdy TransLink card online, then continue to add value to it online. The card with its smart chip should last for months, especially if you don’t punch a hole in it.

Public transportation 2.1

I was inspired by Tara’s post, Public Transportation 2.0, to add more than a comment.

When I was in Bangalore in 2007, I was struck by the utility of the ubiquitous motorized rickshaws, known locally as autocabs or just autos:

Any visitor to Asia has seen these things, since they’re in every Asian city. And they are cheap and they are everywhere. When I mentioned them to one of the panjandrums of the Bay Area public transportation scene, the executive director of one of the NGOs that lobbies for transportation policy, he was dismissive. “Oh, the tuk-tuks,” he said. “They clog up the streets, and they pollute. That’s not what we need. We need commuter rail that goes everywhere.”

Oh, fine, Mr. Bay Area Transit Boss! So I’m on my way to work in the morning. Never mind how I get to the BART station; I take a train across the bay to, say, Ashby. Now that I have alighted at your gigantor 1970s-era concrete monster BART station, I need to get to work, 2.3 miles away. It’s too far to walk. I could wait 20 minutes for a bus, and then that bus would take 20 minutes to poke along for the two miles, making my trip to work take over an hour… And that’s why I drive every day instead.

Read more

Public Transportation 2.0

The Bay Area is is known as the hub for bleeding edge technology, and now public transportation is taking advantage of it. Bart, Muni and Caltrain have easy to use online services to find your way around the city and keep up-to-date on the latest travel alerts.

Bart is now on Twitter – providing the latest train delays and other interesting Bart news from and for commuters. You can get the updates directly to your phone through text messages. In addition, the account also responds to your questions. Recently I was having some problems with my Bart cards de-magnetizing and complained about the process to get a refund. The SFBart Twitter account promptly responded with some advice.

Here’s an example of a useful and timely update from SFBart: “There is a 15-20 minute delay at Embarcadero in the Daly City / SFO /Millbrae direction due to an equipment problem on a train.”

SF Bart is also getting into the community spirit and has a funny and somewhat unofficial blog where you can see what commuters are up to.

Caltrain is taking an even more progressive community approach by allowing its passengers to provide updates to the Caltrain Twitter accounts:
and the bicycle car More information on how you can participate and provide Caltrain updates to the Twitter account is here:

If you don’t have a Twitter account, maybe now is the time to sign up or you can subscribe to the RSS feed off those pages.

Muni takes advantage of NextBus, a site that tells you when your bus will arrive via the website, Mobile Internet or SMS alerts.

If you want an easy way to plan your trips using public transportation, try out Type in your start and ending address and the time you want to depart or arrive, and it will give you options using Bart, Muni and Caltrain. has a list of other useful services such as Dadnab which is text messaging service that plans your trips on city transit.

With all of these new fangled ways to plan out your trip using public transportation that make getting around the Bay Area that much easier, who needs a car?

Breaking: BART to San Jose may pass after all

Update to the story below as of 1720h PST: The San Jose Mercury News is reporting that with 9800 ballots remaining, Measure B has passed the 66.67 percent mark.

The ballot initiative to fund a BART extension to San Jose may have squeaked by, KNTV was reporting this afternoon. Though initial balloting showed the measure falling short of the required two-thirds majority, mail-in ballots are turning the tide.

With 17,000 of 42,000 mail-in ballots still to be counted, the vote to fund the 22-mile BART extension with a 1/8-cent Santa Clara County sales tax was 66.61 percent yes; the measure, like any tax increase in California since the 1978 passage of Proposition 13, requires at least a 66.67 percent yes vote.

If the Bart-to-San Jose tax passes, it would complete a surprising trifecta of voter support for mass transit projects at a time when local and state budgets are tight. Earlier this month, voters in Marin and Sonoma Counties passed a rail initiative, and statewide Proposition 1A also passed, kicking off the state’s bullet train project.

Bullet Train hits Snag in LA/SF/SD Route

Pacific Union has withheld their “Right of Way” over key segments of the LA/SF corridor that the Bullet Train would traverse. They claim safety issues as the reason.


From the LA Times last week:

Officials at Union Pacific railroad recently told the California High Speed Rail Authority that they have safety and operational concerns about running a bullet train close to lumbering freight trains.

“Just look at what happened in L.A. a few years ago,” said Scott Moore, a Union Pacific vice president, citing the 2005 crash of a Metrolink passenger train that killed 11 and hampered rail operations.

“Those accidents happen.”

This is kind of a big roadblock from what I’ve gathered. And if you’re motivated, for or against, drop them a line here.

Here is a sample trip:

  • SF to LA
  • Distance: 432 Miles
  • CO2/Saved per trip: 324 lbs
  • Travel Time: 2hrs, 38 mins.
  • Estimated Cost: Train $55, Car $86, Air $120

Poll and linkage

Fire on Mt. San Bruno

A helicopter dumps water on a brush fire on Mount San Bruno, just south of Brisbane, Calif., as traffic continues passing on Hwy. U.S. 101 today, 20 May 2008

A brush file driven by gusty winds burned several acres on the eastern shoulder of Mt. San Bruno, between Brisbane and South San Francisco. When I came down the freeway from San Francisco about 11:30 a.m. I could see thick brown smoke boiling from the mountainside, which is covered in dry grass and brush with small oak trees. The flames were about a hundred yards away from the southern-most house in Brisbane, a two-story house that overlooks US 101.

3:15 pm — From what I can see of the southern part of the burned area, the fire has been contained. About 30 firefighters are on the mountainside mopping up. The afternoon fog is coming in over the ridge and the winds are blowing harder than ever. Good thing they finished those water drops before the fog came in.

1:30 pm — Firefighters have extinguished the flames on the southern edge of the fire and the crew that did the job got into a helicopter and flew off. Meanwhile firefighters have dragged hose up the side of the mountain from Old Bayshore Rd. and are working on the edge of the fire closest to the road.

More, and a map, after the jump

SF Bike Coalition – Survey

Sorry to be so late in getting this out, but the SF Bike Coalition is conducting a survey to inform their 2nd annual report card on Bicycling in SF. If you have a moment go take the survey, I just did and it only took five minutes.

We will be publishing a second Report Card on Bicycling in San Francisco and we’re eager to learn about your experiences and opinions on bicycling in San Francisco.

We appreciate your time in answering these questions and thank you for your participation. All of your responses are confidential. Please check our website on Bike to Work Day (May 15) to see the results.

Unfortunately, they are wrapping it up very soon, e.g. possibly hours from now, so if you have an opinion, go express it NOW: SURVEY

Shuttle Disaster ?

While Bart was circulating a warning flyer this week saying that 11% of robberies on the rail system were iPod thefts, and perpetually late Muni looks to fine transfer-less miscreants, Saturday’s NY Times profiles one of the Bay Area’s most beloved transit programs, that being Google’s shuttle service. The fleet of wifi equipped bio-diesel busses run by Bauer limosines traverse 6 counties, a range larger than any regional transit service, and daily whisk over 1,200 Google employees to and fro.

One well coddled software engineering Cow Hollow resident tells the paper of record of the corporate perk

“If they cut the shuttle, it would be a disaster.”

Meanwhile, rumor has it that someone is still waiting for a cab, a bus, a horse and carriage, anything at 17th & DeHaro… since last Wednesday.

Terms of use | Privacy Policy | Content: Creative Commons | Site and Design © 2009 | Metroblogging ® and Metblogs ® are registered trademarks of Bode Media, Inc.