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Amtrak wants to replace its ancient Amfleet cars:

Amtrak has released a Request for Proposals today, for a new fleet of single-level passenger rail vehicles to replace Amfleet I cars, providing new equipment with contemporary rail amenities to better serve Amtrak customers. Amfleet I cars are used primarily on the Northeast Corridor (NEC) and adjacent State Corridor routes. The new trainsets will replace Amtrak’s fleet of 470 Amfleet I and ex-Metroliner railcars. Amfleet I railcars are over 40 years of age, while Amtrak’s fleet of ex-Metroliner equipment entered service 50 years ago

The new railcars and trainsets will include all necessary equipment for Positive Train Control technology and meet recently updated federal Tier I safety standards for equipment operating at speeds of up to 125 MPH.

Now that the FRA has modernized regulations to permit the use of light-weight, off-the-shelf designs — will Amtrak take advantage of the new rules? Or will it turn into another procurement fiasco?

In all seriousness, this is a real problem with faregates. They can cause injury, especially to young kids who may not know when to proceed through gate. My son’s first visit to BART ended badly when a faregate smashed him in the head.

Traffic fatalities are going up in the US, while they keep going down in Japan:

The number of traffic deaths nationwide in 2018 fell by 162, or 4.4 percent, from the previous year to 3,532, hitting the lowest level since data became available in 1948, the National Police Agency said Friday.

The decrease reflected police efforts to step up traffic safety education programs and crack down on traffic offenses, the agency said.

On per-capita basis, Japan traffic deaths in 2018 was 2.79 per 100,000 population. By comparison, it is around 11.40 in the US (as of 2017). If the US were to achieve the same level of road safety as Japan, 28,000 lives would be saved per year.

 

The good news is that more infill development is going up near BART. The bad news: it is extremely auto-centric:

Fremont has approved a plan to build 275 market-rate apartments on a vacant plot at the corner of Walnut Avenue and Liberty Street, a move meant to boost the city’s longtime effort to develop the area into a bustling downtown.

The apartment complex at 3515 Walnut Ave. will feature 2,245 square feet of ground floor retail and a six-story parking garage, according to a city staff report.

The Los Gatos arm of national developer Fore Property Co. is behind the project, which will include 59 studios, 125 one-bedroom units and 91 two-bedroom units ranging in size from 556 to 1,429 square-feet, wrapped around the parking garage on a 2.84-acre lot.

A 6-story parking garage for just 275 housing units. If you are wondering what that looks like, it will be similar to this ‘aparkment’ next door:

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Garage parking spaces require 160-200 sq-ft. Those 556 sq-ft studios could have been designed as 700+ sq-ft one-bedrooms — if not for the mandated parking. Here is the surrounding neighborhood, which hardly lacks parking:

 

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This has been a grim year for pedestrians in San Jose, with 23 fatalities (thus far). But San Jose leaders have come up with a brilliant solution: widen roadways and speed up the traffic!

Officials in San Jose think a possible solution to the recent uptick in fatal pedestrian deaths plaguing the city could be to widen the roads at a couple of traffic trouble spots.

The plan involves a land swap that will allow officials to widen Branham Road and Snell Avenue, two of the most problematic streets in the city. San Jose plans to use the strips to widen Branham and Snell. Right now, the roadway narrows down and forces cars to merge within a short distance.

This project will widen a 2-lane road into 4-lane, with medians along with new signals. This will greatly speed up traffic, leading to more death and destruction. It is crazy they call it a pedestrian safety project.

In a 2017 memo, Councilmember Khamis called this a “Green” infrastructure project, and proposed taking $2 million out of the Essential Services Fund to help pay for it.

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Branham Ln current configuration

Now that Senator Wiener has re-introduced a watered-down housing bill, what are the chances the Nimbys get on-board? Not likely, to judge from these insane comments from Berkeley Mayor Arreguin:

In Berkeley the low-density residential neighborhood immediately around North Berkeley BART would automatically be up-zoned resulting in heights of up to 55 feet. This will create pressure on existing neighborhoods and will result in land speculation. There are historically low-income communities which do not meet the definition of “Sensitive Communities” who will face increased gentrification and displacement.

Ah yes, the millionaire slums of N. Berkeley…

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