Posts Tagged ‘Commuting’

Don’t count on Monday morning bridge reopening

Safety engineers were still testing the most recent repairs to the Bay Bridge over the weekend, and the word mid-Sunday afternoon is: don’t count on the bridge being available for the Monday morning commute. Better plan alternatives. Update @ 5:20 pm: That’s confirmed, no Monday morning on the bridge.

Pictures show an eerily empty toll plaza, an eerily empty bridge, and stuffed BART trains. Meanwhile, a car thief blew through barricades in San Francisco and led police on a chase over the closed bridge, and most people in San Francisco today completely forgot there was any problem at all, since it’s a gorgeous, sunny, warm 1st of November.

Bridge still closed through Friday evening commute

bridge_closedEngineers were continuing to test the completed fix-to-the-repair on the suddenly dubious Bay Bridge today, and CalTrans announced at 10:00 a.m. today that the bridge would remain closed throughout the Friday evening commute. It could possibly open as early as late Friday evening. You can click the map at left for a current traffic map or go to

You can text the word ALERT to 45227 (which is KCBS radio) and get a text message when the Bay Bridge reopens.

Update, 3:20 pm: The site now says the bridge will be closed “through Friday,” but “if” the bridge remains closed, BART will run hourly all-night service to the East Bay tonight and Saturday night. Here’s the all-night BART details. Note that only 14 stations will be in operation overnight.

Public pleads with CalTrans: Don’t rush repairs again

The Bay Bridge could be open as early as Thursday evening “if everything goes perfectly” with repairs to the troublesome spot on the cantilever span, CalTrans told KRON Channel 4 today. “If something happens during the testing” and they have to adjust the repairs, it could take days longer.

Meanwhile, a UC Berkeley engineering expert was being quoted in news reports saying the design of the first fix — which was done while crews were cleaning up from the mammoth Labor Day re-route — was “not correct” and left the span vulnerable to complete collapse in the event of an earthquake. It was nothing more than a Band-Aid, he said.

An Associated Press article quoted a driver as saying the accident yesterday had caused her to lose “so much confidence in the experts, the millions of dollars that are being spent to reconstruct and build a new bridge,” referring to the decade-long project that will eventually replace the entire cantilever section with a suspension bridge.

The failure was probably caused by continuous heavy winds this week, CalTrans said. Wind continued gusty today while a new repair was being worked on. Asked to describe what the new design was like, a CalTrans spokesman said, “Think of a big belt around a piece of wood.”

Somehow that image doesn’t comfort me.

What do you do on public transit? Nothing… or something?

Macarthur BART, photo by Robert Schwandl

Local photographer Thomas Hawk made a very interesting post on his website today, reporting his “unscientific survey” of what commuters were doing on his 9 a.m. BART train from MacArthur to Embarcadero this morning. He didn’t ask anyone what they were doing, relying on his own observations. Most people were “doing nothing,” he found; others he broke down into “other” and into several categories of reading. See his post for the stats.

I love the idea of noticing what others are doing, and recording it unobtrusively and reporting it. It sounds a bit creepy when put that way, but there’s nothing wrong with doing so in a public space. I’d love to see people do this exact thing from time to time: walk the length of a bus or train and compile the same stats, or different ones. It’s just as valuable and interesting to report on skirt lengths, how many people smell, or the number of people wearing glasses.

That said, it’s interesting that Hawk happened to sort his survey by media consumption, and that he expresses surprise that “so many of the people on BART were simply doing nothing (this included sleeping as well).” Of course, BART, and public transit in general, is a great place to read. I’ve sometimes gotten on a BART train and ridden all the way to the end of the line and back just to have a comfortable reading experience uninterrupted by phones, people I know, my cats, or trips to the refrigerator. But those who were sitting quietly “doing nothing” may have relished the chance to do so as much as the people who were devouring media. As someone who sits in front of a computer all day and, often, much of the evening, I find it nice to have a time where I can’t do so — this includes driving, going to the ballgame or the symphony, and yes, “doing nothing.”

By the way, I just noticed that BART has a page on its website where it collects blog and Twitter posts about BART.

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.

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Ferry terminal for South City’s Oyster Point

Oyster Point [map] in South San Francisco on a hazy Sunday morning. The San Francisco Bay Conservation and Development Commission has approved ferry service from Oakland to Oyster Point; service could begin as early as late 2010.

The new route is only one of several planned, using new, greener vessels, in an expansion of commute options in the next few years. (Did you know there was something called the Water Emergency Transportation Authority [WETA]?) See all the proposed routes.

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