Isabel Angell appears in the following:
Thursday, July 04, 2013
The BART strike left hundreds of thousands of Bay Area commuters scrambling for a way to work, but some companies found an upside: ride-sharing apps like Avego and Sidecar all experienced huge bumps in ridership during the strike.
Tuesday, July 02, 2013
Tuesday’s commute seems to be shaping up to be worse than yesterday's. Freeways backed up sooner, ferry lines were longer, and the free shuttles that BART provided from five East Bay stations filled up quicker.
Monday, July 01, 2013
With BART transit workers on strike for the first time since 1997, San Francisco residents are getting creative with their commutes.
Monday, July 01, 2013
Bay Area Rapid Transit workers are now on strike after failing to reach a deal on contract negotiations.
Tuesday, June 25, 2013
With no solution in sight to a wage impasse, labor unions representing the Bay Area's commuter rail system are voting Tuesday whether to authorize a strike.
Tuesday, June 18, 2013
After Capital Bikeshare employees complained about unfair wage practices, the Department of Labor opened an investigation into Alta Bicycle Share -- the company operating bike share systems in New York, D.C., and Boston.
Tuesday, June 18, 2013
Bike sharing is coming to San Francisco and Silicon Valley this August. It’s being launched on a small scale at first -- just 750 bikes in the whole system. But the city is turning to the public to help them plan the system's expansion.
Friday, May 31, 2013
At a public meeting last week, the BART Board of Directors decided that two five-day pilots weren’t enough to make a permanent decision about whether to allow bikes on trains during peak hours. Instead, they decided to create another pilot -- this one five months long -- review the results, and make a permanent decision in November.
Tuesday, May 28, 2013
In 2008, California voters approved a $10 billion bond for a high-speed rail system that would get travelers from San Francisco to Los Angeles in under three hours. The rail will have to travel through California’s agricultural hub -- the Central Valley -- but some local residents are trying to stop the project.
Thursday, May 23, 2013
Most drivers who kill pedestrians in the Bay Area are never charged -- even when they are found to be at fault, according to analysis by the Center for Investigative Reporting. And the drivers who are charged face light punishments at best.
Tuesday, May 14, 2013
After several pilot projects testing bike access on Bay Area Rapid Transit trains, BART officials recommended that bicycles be allowed on trains at all hours and in all stations. This would be a big change from the current rules under which riders can’t bring bikes on trains during peak commute hours or into the cramped 12th and 19th Street stations.
Thursday, May 09, 2013
California officials say they have a plan to stabilize bolts that failed earlier this year on the eastern span of the Bay Bridge.
Monday, April 29, 2013
Typically transit agencies raise prices as time goes by, not lower them. But AC Transit, the bus system that services Alameda and Contra Costa County in the East Bay Area, has canceled its fare increase scheduled for July. And it might even get cheaper to ride the bus.
Thursday, April 25, 2013
The bids are in to build San Francisco’s Central Subway project – and the price tag will be over $100 million more than the city expected.
Monday, April 22, 2013
If someone steals your bike, it can feel pretty hopeless, and enraging. That’s because it is. But, angry cyclists are finding a community online that is willing to go to great lengths to help a fellow cyclist. Social media is creating the digital equivalent of the back of the milk carton but for bikes, with a few elaborate success stories.
Thursday, April 18, 2013
The first construction phase for California’s high-speed rail plan to link San Francisco and Los Angeles in under three hours has a builder. And the bid came in $200 million under expectations.
Wednesday, April 10, 2013
Tuesday, April 09, 2013
Last week, the Golden Gate Bridge switched to its new all-electronic tolling system. The change has been smooth, with just a few reports of confused drivers stopping at the toll plaza. For most people, it won’t be a big deal, because over three-quarters of commuters use the electronic payment system Fastrak.
Mary Currie, the spokesperson for the Golden Gate Bridge Transit District, estimates the switch to all-electronic tolling will save the district – which is facing a big deficit– $16 million over the next eight years. “Every government agency is faced with having to downsize, and as service providers in the transit world labor is our biggest expense,” said Currie. “So that is directly relates to the all-electronic tolling project. It’s labor.”
In other words, it’s the toll collectors. Officially called “bridge officers,” they’ve been taking drivers’ money since the bridge opened in 1937. On March 26, 2013, all 28 of them clocked in for the last time. All but eight officers had arranged to retire or switch to another job in the district.
Jacquie Dean was one of those eight bridge officers, and she said goodbye to a career that spanned 18 years on the Golden Gate Bridge. As the country moves to all-electronic tolling, Dean represents a group of people who soon won't be there to have stories to tell. From ostriches to babies to "the best sunsets in the world," Jacquie Dean shared some of her favorite memories of the bridge and her feelings as she moves forward.
Like Dean's memories of the driver who always hands out goodies to the toll takers. "Joyce...makes the best brownies in the world....she is just the nicest lady." And the relationships that develop even in the brief period of time it takes to make the toll transaction. "The kids grow up," she says. " You watch them from the first day of kindergarten -- they bring you little pictures that they've drawn -- graduations from fifth and sixth grade...going into high school."
And then there was the day the ostriches got loose. "I don't know if you know ostriches are quite fast and quite strong," she says. "And our toll man had to go out there and try to wrangle ostriches on the Golden Gate Bridge and it did stop traffic for about 30 minutes."
But Dean didn't get to deliver a baby -- that job fell to one of her colleagues. "And actually on (the baby's) birth certificate it says he was born on the Golden Gate Bridge. There are only two people in the world that were actually born on the Golden Gate Bridge."
Listen to the conversation below.
Friday, April 05, 2013
Rising ridership and sales tax revenues on San Francisco's BART system mean the agency is no longer operating at a deficit, which has triggered labor negotiations that could give union workers their first raise in four years.
BART contracts for its union workers – who make up almost 90 percent of BART’s over 3,000 employees– are set to expire on June 30th. And that has sent BART and union leaders to the negotiating table. Both sides are hoping to avoid the bitter and contentious fight that happened during the last contract negotiations in the summer of 2009.
But things were different in 2009. Ridership was declining, and the system was facing a $250 million deficit over the next four years. BART went into negotiations with the goal of cutting $100 million in labor costs through reductions in health care and pensions, and changing what they considered “wasteful” work rules, like unnecessary overtime. A last-minute deal that kept wages static, prevented a strike by the Amalgamated Transit Union Local 1555, or ATU – the union that represents the system’s approximately 900 station agents and train operators.
That deal did save BART the $100 million it wanted and laid out plans for four of the five unions and non-union employees to get a one percent raise if strict guidelines were met, including increased ridership and sales tax revenues. This week, BART announced the guidelines have been met, so most of their employees will be receiving their first raise in since 2009.
“With record ridership and an aging system, our employees are working hard to provide on-time, reliable service for our riders,” BART General Manager Grace Crunican said in a press release. “The bar was set high for our employees to receive this increase and the predefined standards were met.”
Since 2009, BART has increased its ridership – from 340,000 to over 390,000 in the latest monthly report. And it’s no longer operating on a deficit, but the system does have a $10 billion unfunded capital need for renovation and expansion projects.
“This year’s labor negotiations will be focused on bargaining a fair contract for our hard working employees as well as ensuring the long term financial health and sustainability of our system,” Crunican said.
BART says they’re looking at the same issues as last negotiation: employee health care, pensions, and work rules.
“We must pave the way for BART to continue to be the backbone of Bay Area transportation for decades to come,” Crunican said. “BART is looking to protect its future fiscal stability with measures to more effectively share the risks and costs associated with its employee benefits program.”
Antonette Bryant is the president of ATU Local 1555. She said calling last negotiation contentious was “a gross understatement.” But this time, she said, she wants to have the contract settled June 30th.
“We want them to pay a fair wage for our employees and increase safety and service for the BART patrons,” Bryant said. Meaning, they want a pay raise.
Bryant also said the one percent raise announced this week should not be considered as the transit workers’ only salary increase.
“I want to make it clear that this is not benevolent,” she said. “This is something they have to do. They owe us the money from the previous contract negotiations.”
As negotiations go on, both parties hope to have a deal by June 30th and to prevent the fighting that happened four years ago.
Thursday, March 28, 2013
Back in 2008, California voters approved a $10 billion bond to plan and build a high-speed rail system across the state. Four years later, support for the high-speed rail has waned. Now that the estimated cost is $68 billion, a recent survey by the Public Policy Institute of California shows that only 43 percent of likely voters support the project.
That number hasn’t changed since the last time the survey was conducted, about a year ago. When asked if they would support a high-speed rail if the cost was lower, support jumps to 55 percent. But the cost has gone down since the last survey, from $100 billion to $68 billion. It’s unclear what number would tip the public back in favor of the system, but they haven’t reached it yet.
At the same time, a majority of Californians (59 percent) think a high-speed rail system is important to the state “quality of life and economic vitality.”
Meanwhile, the California High-Speed Rail Authority has continued to win or settle its legal battles with cities across California. The Authority plans to move forward with construction this summer. The state must spend its $2.35 billion of federal funding on the project before 2017.