The cost for a one-way trip on the new Pearson airport express train service (UPX) is a whopping $27.50. At that price, few are interested in riding, so the trains are practically empty. You would think with all that available space, Metrolinx might at least allow bicyclists to ride, but noooo:

It’s got Wi-Fi, luggage storage and plush seating. One thing Toronto’s new airport train doesn’t have is bike racks. Gary Dienesch found that out at the end of a 10-hour flight following a 1,000-km bike tour of England and Scotland. At the UPX terminal at Pearson, however, they were told that they couldn’t board unless the bikes were boxed in the same way airlines require.

“I know you can take your bike on the GO and the subway. You just hold your bike. It’s not a long trip (from the airport) to downtown so we would just hold our bikes like we would on the subway,” said Dienesch. He doesn’t think bike racks on the UPX are necessary, particularly when the trains aren’t crowded. “I’ve seen it done everywhere else. It’s not a big thing to do. I pay taxes, I’m paying for this. There should be a very good reason for me not to be able to use it and there isn’t a good reason because they’re doing it everywhere else.”

“Unlike GO trains, there is no dedicated or appropriate space to store and secure an unpacked bicycle,” said Alex Burke of Metrolinx, the provincial agency that operates the UPX.

Metrolinx ordered the same crappy DMU rolling stock for UPX that SMART plans to use. So that gives you an idea of the level of dimwittedness.


The dreaded 85% rule strikes again:

Princeton residents spoke sharply against a Caltrans proposal to raise the speed limit on Highway 45 through the town at a meeting on Thursday.Representatives from Caltrans and the California Highway Patrol, along with Colusa County authorities, staged the meeting at Princeton High School’s cafeteria to explain the proposal to raise the speed limit from 35 to 40 mph.

Many residents at the meeting were not persuaded. They said the increase would only encourage travelers to speed even more through their community. Residents said the stretch of road in question has blind left turns, unprotected pedestrian crossing and no sidewalks, and and they said they’ve seen people driving up to 80 mph through the area.

One reason for the speeding is that CHP rarely patrols the highway. The result is a downward spiral: lack of enforcement leads to speeding, whereupon the CHP just raises the speed limit:

Caltrans representative Don Rushton said, a speed limit set too low causes frustration, road rage and other unreasonable driving conditions. “Arbitrarily low limits become speed traps,” he said. That comment drew a laugh from many in the crowd, who said the CHP rarely enforces the speed limit in the area. CHP Lt. Etic Walker, Williams area commander, said that since the economic downturn, the CHP’s office has been sorely understaffed.

Caltrans will also be raising the speed limit through Willits:

Caltrans is planning to raise the speed limits on Highway 20 by 5 miles per hour in the stretch immediately approaching the city of Willits from Fort Bragg, as a result of regularly mandated engineering and traffic surveys. The speeds will be raised from 30 to 35 mph, from 40 to 45 mph, and from 50 to 55 mph between post markers 32.5 and 33.0, a zone which includes three local road intersections and one route to Blosser Lane Elementary School.

Caltrans officials also met with Willits city officials including Chief of Police Gerardo Gonzalez, who expressed their concerns about maintaining adequate safety measures on the 20, particularly to protect pedestrians and bicyclists who may be crossing at the Blosser Lane intersection.

“I think locals tend to avoid that route,” said Gonzalez, “you’re not seeing kids walk there the way they used to.

Pedestrian accommodation is needed. But in order to secure Caltrans approval there needs to be sufficient pedestrian traffic. Again, it is a downward spiral — higher speeds means fewer pedestrians:

Hill said the survey did not demonstrate enough pedestrian volume to consider greater pedestrian safety measures such as a “pedestrian refuge,”

Schoolkids running across Hwy 20

Schoolkids run for their lives across Hwy 20

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.


Parking garages are wasteful and environmentally damaging. So of course the industry has invented a greenwashing campaign, called the Green Parking Council:

LAS VEGAS – July 1, 2015) — The Green Parking Council (GPC) today announced the first seven parking facilities in the U.S. to achieve Green Garage Certification, a comprehensive sustainability standard for existing and new parking facilities evaluating 48 elements of garage operation, programs, structure, and technology. The Green Garage Certification program will be delivered and promoted globally by the Green Business Certification, Inc., the certification body for the U.S. Green Building Council’s global LEED® green building rating system.

“Cars are getting smarter, people are getting smarter, and parking garages are getting smarter,” explains Paul Wessel, executive director of the GPC, an affiliate of the International Parking Institute. “The greening of parking facilities transforms them into enablers of sustainable mobility. Certified Green Garages offer significant benefits for drivers, tenants, building owners, property managers, and society overall.”

When parking garages are built with green elements, it is often to mitigate stupid planning decisions. That is certainly the case with the 7 “winners”. In a way, we can thank the GPC for finding the country’s most ridiculous parking garages — a list which includes the following:

  • Silver Spring Metro Plaza – parking garage built at a Washington Metro “intermodal” station.
  • Bank of America Plaza – situated in downtown Los Angeles, near several Metro stops, and dozens of bus lines.
  • Westpark Corporate Center – another facility near the Washington Metro, and located in a Tysons neighborhood that certainly doesn’t lack for parking.

Also on the list is the Corrnell University Forest Home Garage. It deserves special recognition for most ironic location of a “green” parking garage. The 3-level facility was built (at considerable expense) under the new Human Ecology building, in a prime lakefront location:

Constructed in 2009, Forest Home is a 254-space garage located under the LEED Platinum-certified Human Ecology Building. Electric vehicle charging stations, building systems commissioning, nearby public green space and a highly efficient LED lighting system contributed to the certification. “Cornell’s pioneering efforts toward greening parking facilities is a tremendous source of pride for us” Bartt Smith, Transportation Services’ project specialist for GGC. “Progress continues toward the certification of the Hoy Field Garage.”

Congratulations to this year’s winners! And looking forward to learning about other sustainable, green parking garage from the GPC in the years to come…


The Essential Air Service subsidy, a relic of airline deregulation in the 1970’s, will apparently go on. Congressman McClintock tried to cut $155 million from the program with an amendment to H.R. 2577 (Transportation, Housing & Urban Development Appropriations Act). His amendment was defeated by a vote of 166 to 255, with 173 Democrats and 82 Republicans voting against.

Flew JetBlue out of JFK back to SFO on Friday. Here was the departure sign from a nearby gate:


The waiting area was mostly empty, which is not surprising as the service just started.

The VMT Grift

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.


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