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Archive for the ‘transit’ Category

The BART-Oakland airport connector has been in operation for 6 months. And now that we are entering the peak summer flying season, it is a good opportunity to look at actual ridership numbers.

For the month of June, the average weekday daily ridership was 3,231 entries and exits. The month of May had similar ridership (3,203 entries and exits).

In its final ridership study (to obtain grant funding) BART had predicted OAC ridership to be in the range of 3,260-3,940 in the year 2015. That number was later revised downward to 2,685.

The OAC replaced the AirBART bus service. The baseline bus ridership was 2100, although ten years ago it was much higher (around 3500 average weekday trips). This gives (at best) a net gain in transit ridership of 1,000 daily trips — a dismal result for a capital project costing $500 million.

OAC

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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: discount_pass_1 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?

muni_tvm

Even Muni (Muni!!) is able to sell discount tickets from ticket vending machines

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Caltrain Frankentrain

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:

bilevel2

 

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.

 

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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.

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Kontroll (Hungary, 2003). Director: Nimród Antal

Filmed entirely in the Budapest Metro, this fictional(?) story follows the surreal exploits of a group of fare inspectors. Their leader is Bulcsú (Sándor Csányi), for whom the underground Metro is a kind of purgatory. He lives, sleeps, and works in the underground 24 hours a day. He is starting to go crazy, perhaps because everyone else around him is nuts too.

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Limousine Liberals

I hate limousine liberals:

If I were Ed Lee, I’d be keeping an eye out for former Mayor Dianne Feinstein, because she’s been keeping an eye on the city and is not happy about what she sees. I had dinner with the senator at North Beach Restaurant, and for all of her involvement in national and international issues, you would have thought the world ended at the bridges. She was laser-focused on San Francisco.

At the top of her concerns is the gridlocked traffic, which she experienced most recently when it took her and husband Dick Blum an inordinate amount of time to get across town after attending the funeral for Gov. Jerry Brown’s sister Cynthia Kelly at St. Cecilia Church in the Sunset.

I explained that Mayor Ed was trying to make the city more bicycle-friendly, which means fewer lanes for cars. Add in all the construction, and getting across town takes some effort.

Oh, for fuck’s sake! St. Cecilia Church is 2 blocks from a Muni “L” light rail stop.

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Boycott

Cummins, along with other large employers in Indiana, sent a letter to GOP leaders:

Nine of Indiana’s largest employers sent a letter to state GOP leaders Monday asking for immediate action on the controversial religious freedom law. The letter says the companies are “deeply concerned” about the impact the law is having on their employees and the reputation of the state.

Here in California (and probably elsewhere), transit agencies do a sizable business with Cummins. AC Transit, for example, uses Cummins engines in almost every one of its buses. It is not hard to imagine that transit districts will look at a Boycott Indiana policy in its purchasing contracts. Large transit agencies do bus fleet purchases every few years — and Cummins does have competitors that aren’t located in states with Sharia law.

In case there was any doubt about the intent of the Religious Freedom Law.

In case there was any doubt about the intent of the Religious Freedom Law.

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