Archive for the ‘Transit’ 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.

The cost of living in the Bay Area

urban_land_institute_logoA liberal think tank, the Urban Land Institute, has issued a report on the cost to working people of living in the Bay Area. The report, Bay Area Burden, examines the impact on working people of high costs of housing and transportation, looks at how proximity to mass transit helps relieve the burden, and asks policymakers to take working people’s needs into account when making land use decisions.

Their website,, has a Housing + Transportation Calculator that’s fun to play with.

Westbound Bay Bridge closed by big rig rollover


Update: All westbound lanes reopened a little after 8 pm tonight.

A Safeway truck flipped around 2:30 this afternoon after encountering the new S-curve on the Bay Bridge, leading to these pictures: a parking lot on the westbound incline, and a completely empty stretch of roadway after the site of the crash, just before the Yerba Buena Island tunnel.

Click the pix for more webcam images, of get the story and video on the KPIX website. More on the KGO TV website, including the obvious:

The driver, who suffered a bruised leg, was driving 55 mph in the 40 mph zone and did not know the speed limit had been changed. He said he had not driven over the bridge since before Labor Day and was taken by surprise by the S-curve.

Hardly Strictly Bike Parking

It was great to see the SFBC‘s valet service packed to capacity sat and sun at HSB. Even greater to see so many people riding in to the event. Check out the ad hoc parking at the entrance off JFK. It’ll be a great day when this many people ride their bikes to work!

Full Bay Area rail map makes Marin exclusion painfully obvious


Back when BART was being planned in the 1960s, each Bay Area county decided whether or not to support it, and the original system (map) — as it existed from the 1970s to the 1990s — reflected the fact that both Marin and San Mateo Counties were left out of BART. (The stations built in San Mateo County south of Daly City station, connecting BART to San Francisco International Airport and to Caltrain in Millbrae, are the result of several whoops-I-guess-it’s-actually-a-good-idea votes in the late 90s.) This new map of all Bay Area rail (large .gif file) by SF Cityscape highlights Marin County’s isolation. (Courtesy CurbedSF)

It’s a local urban myth that snobbish Marin voters rejected BART because they feared it would bring the hoi polloi to its gentle shores. But the truth is more complicated. As told in the book “Paying the Toll: Local Power, Regional Politics, and the Golden Gate Bridge,” by Louise Nelson Dyble, the 1962 decision to eliminate Marin from the BART district was the result of Golden Gate Bridge District intransigence and indecision by the Marin County Board of Supervisors. Read a page of the book from the Google Books scan.

Big crack may cause bridge setback

bridge_crackA crack was discovered Saturday in one of the members holding up the cantilever section of the Bay Bridge — a section of the bridge not supposed to be worked on at all in this weekend’s massive bridge section switchout. Discovered during the detailed inspection that was carried out as part of the bridge shutdown, the flaw was serious enough to have closed the bridge on its own, CalTrans engineers said.

The unforeseen problem may delay the scheduled 5 a.m. reopening of the bridge to commuter traffic on Tuesday morning.

CalTrans said this morning it has no estimate for when the bridge may reopen.

You can follow the project’s Twitter account, baybridgeinfo, for updates.

Bay Bridge Closure: stop the panic

Yesterday afternoon, you’d think all roads were going to be closed the way people were sheer panicking at the thought of the”clusterf**k”. I don’t know these folks, all I know is they live in SF and work in the East Bay, and the thought of public transit for one day, before a major vacation, has them freaking out. I think our reliance on the car, in the Bay Area, for commuting, is too great.

High speed rail contract put off

train_wreckCalifornia’s High Speed Rail Authority delayed a vote to award a $9 million public relations contract when some commission members let it be known that the contract was about to be awarded to some cronies of Gov. Arnold Schwartzenegger, and that two of the three commission members who recommended the PR firm used to work with one of its principals.

Wasn’t Schwartzenegger elected by promising not to do business as usual?

San Joaquin trains now on Google Transit

san_joaquin_routeCourtesy Jackson West, this post on the Trillium Solutions blog: Amtrak’s San Joaquin trains, which run between San Jose, Martinez, and Bakersfield, are now in the Google Transit system.

That means you can see them listed among mass transit options when planning your trip to the Buck Owens Crystal Palace or to see the awesome classic neon signs that Thomas Hawk recently blogged about.

I said when planning your trip. It’s Amtrak, you know, so don’t time things too closely. That said, the Capitol Corridor and San Joaquin trains are said to be among the best in on-time performance.

Trains near LA, Chicago and New York City have also been added.

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.

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