The gas tax is a perfect method to charge for the impact of motor vehicles. Heavier, gas-guzzling vehicles pay more, while more fuel-efficient vehicles pay less. Electric cars pay nothing, serving as an incentive to switch away from fossil fuels. And there is no complex technology required to collect the gas tax.
So why all the push for VMT (vehicle-mile traveled) taxation? Perhaps because private vendors will make a fortune:
There is also growing concern about the cost of the program. OReGO vendors will collect up to 40 cents of every dollar drivers are charged, and green car drivers could be in for some serious sticker shock every month.
If the 40% figure is correct, then that is quite a scam. Almost half the money would go to private firms, instead of paying for road maintenance or other transportation programs.
Posted in highways | Tagged VMT | 4 Comments »
If you go to a train station to ride the train, then you should be able to purchase a ticket right there at the station. I would think that is a self-evident. And if you are eligible for a special fare discount, such as a senior or youth, then you should be able to purchase a discount pass at the station. I would think that is also self-evident. This is standard practice for almost any transit operator — except BART: This sticker is plastered to BART ticket fare machines — informing parents and seniors that they can’t buy discount train tickets at the station. Instead, one must either take time off from work to schlep down to a Clipper service center, or else fill out an “application“, mail it in along with a government ID — and then wait for 7 days for your train ticket to arrive by mail. Here we are in the technological center of the universe, where BART has spent tens of millions of dollars on ticket vending machines (not counting the hundreds of millions of dollars the MTC has spent on Clipper “smart” card technology). And yet something as simple as buying a discount kids or senior pass requires an application, identification check, and as much as 7 business days of processing. And for what — to make sure your kids aren’t on a terrorist watch list?
Even Muni (Muni!!) is able to sell discount tickets from ticket vending machines
Posted in transit | Tagged BART, Clipper | 7 Comments »
Helmet hysteria strikes again. This time, female lacrosse players in Florida are the victims:
Boys’ lacrosse teams nationwide have worn hard-shell helmets for many years. Girls, who play by vastly different rules that generally forbid contact, have historically spurned most protective gear. In Florida, where lacrosse is a new sport, state officials instead reasoned that all lacrosse players are at risk for head trauma and defied the sport’s traditionalists by mandating a soft form of headgear for everyone in a girls’ lacrosse game or practice.
Ann Carpenetti, vice president of lacrosse operations at US Lacrosse, the sport’s national governing body, called Florida’s decision “irresponsible” and said the headgear decision could make the game more hazardous because it might embolden players to be more aggressive.
Coaches across the state have panned the new rule. “It serves no purpose, other than being a costly distraction to parents and the players,” said Nikki Krakower, the coach of the girls’ team at Gainesville High School. “It’s ridiculous.”
Opponents of the mandate said the new rule was especially flawed because the Florida-approved headgear — the type used most commonly is a 10-millimeter-thick headband — is flimsy. “A headband is only going to prevent minor contusions and abrasions if they happen in the two inches the headband covers,” said Lynn Millinoff, the coach of the girls’ team at Buchholz High School in Gainesville. “But Florida officials seem to think they’re smarter than the entire rest of the lacrosse-playing world.”
As you can see from the picture, the thing isn’t even a helmet. Other than perhaps serving as a hair band, it doesn’t serve any purpose.
Posted in risk | Tagged helmets | 1 Comment »
Residents in Coronado are fed up with dangerous Caltrans highways:
Another traffic accident in Coronado, just a week after a man was killed in the same area, has neighbors on edge. On Tuesday afternoon, a woman suffered minor injuries when her car was t-boned pulling out onto Third Street from B Avenue.
“I heard a Godawful boom, crash, screeching of brakes,” said Thomas Slattery, who lives around the corner. The crash came as no surprise to him. “It’s depressingly frequent.”
Last week, a 70-year-old man was hit and killed trying to cross Fourth Street near A Avenue.
And the solution…
Third and Fourth Streets are state routes owned by Caltrans. The state recently conducted a speed survey to estimate traffic patterns. Based on the results, the speed limit may actually be increased from 25 miles per hour to 30 or 35. Until a decision is made, police are not able to enforce the speed limit using radar.
“Their goal, people need to understand, is to move traffic as efficiently and fast as they can, to get you from point A to point B,” Coronado Councilmember Carrie Downey told 10News. “Traffic calming is the antithesis.”
Caltrans logic: If too many drivers are speeding, then just keep raising the speed limit until there is no more speeding. Problem solved.
SWITRS map of fatalities and serious injuries in Coronado shows the Caltrans highways to be a major hazard (click to enlarge)
Posted in highways | Tagged Caltrans | 4 Comments »
The saga over incompatible platform height continues. Caltrain staff has given a preview of what the new bilevel commuter trains may look like. The design is as bad as feared:
Other blogs have already reported on problems this will cause for wheelchair and bike access, so I won’t go into that here. The really big issue that I have not seen mentioned is the dwell time.
Note how the high door would probably only be half-width. That is because having 4 wide doors reduces the structural integrity of the railcar. This will double the dwell time at the Transbay Terminal, and other busy stations. By comparison, BART’s next-generation railcars will have 3 double doors.
The constricted vestibule area also doesn’t help matters. Though if there is one silver lining, the crowded vestibule space precludes having on-board bathrooms — which is probably why staff wants to eliminate all the ADA bathrooms.
The thing is that “blending” commuter and high-speed rail isn’t exactly a new concept. It is done all over the world, and I struggle to find even one example where an agency took this approach for shared platform access. Well ok, there is one example: NJT and Acela — but that just goes to prove the point.
Posted in transit | Tagged Caltrain, CHSRA | 6 Comments »
Here is another one of those ridiculous subsidies for the auto industry:
Individuals in disadvantaged census tracts who make up to four times the federal poverty level will be able to trade in their pre-1994 models and receive as much as $12,000 toward the cost of a new or used fuel-efficient vehicle.
A $4.8 million pilot, expected to replace about 600 cars, is currently rolling out in the San Joaquin Valley and South Coast air districts. The Air Resources Board plans to expand the program, which is funded by cap-and-trade auction revenue, by about 10 times next year.
Whereas cap-and-trade started with the best of intentions, it really has turned into a joke of a program. It provides no dedicated funding for bike projects (and only minimal support for transit services), and instead is being used to subsidize private car purchases.
Even viewed as an anti-poverty measure, this is a bad idea. Car ownership is really costly, and it is a mistake to encourage low-income families to hang onto cars when there are much lower cost transportation alternatives.
Posted in highways | Tagged CARB | 15 Comments »
Conor Friedersdorf has been reporting on Amtrak passengers getting the DEA shakedown:
“I found my backpack moved and open, and my wallet, which was set down on the room table, had $60 missing,” he said. “I told one of the dining car attendants that I felt Amtrak and the DEA violated my rights. She told me that Amtrak is forced to give passenger info to Feds, that the DEA comes on every trip, usually arresting someone in the sleeping car or taking all their money.”
Last year, the Associated Press reported that the DEA “paid an Amtrak secretary $854,460 over nearly 20 years to obtain confidential information about train passengers, which the DEA could have lawfully obtained for free through a law enforcement network.” (This was reportedly done so that the DEA could avoid sharing seized assets with Amtrak police, which hints at how lucrative such seizures are.)
The ACLU has filed a Freedom of Information Act request, to determine the scope of the problem.
Posted in transit | Tagged Amtrak, DEA | Leave a Comment »