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Kalw The Bay Area

Transportation Nation

5000 Fewer Riders Using Bay Bridge as Congestion Pricing Takes Hold

Friday, August 13, 2010

Photo by http://www.flickr.com/photos/gohsuket/2550771432/

(Oakland, CA -- Casey Miner, KALW) CalTrans raised tolls on the Bay Bridge July 1 during peak hours, from $4.00 to $6.00 -- and for carpools, to $2.50, from nothing. What happened?

Five thousand fewer cars are using the Bay Bridge each day, and BART, the cross-bay commuter train, saw 4500 more riders. The full story here.

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Transportation Nation

San Francisco Breaks Ground on New Transbay Terminal

Friday, August 13, 2010

Only 25 percent of San Francisco Bay Area residents use mass transit -- but local planners are serious about trying to get that number up. As KALW reports, local political glitterati are getting behind a new bus terminal, which they one day hope will be a hub for rail, buses, and BRT.

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Transportation Nation

Congestion Pricing Reducing Rush Hour Delays to Half of Previous Level

Thursday, August 12, 2010

(San Francisco, Casey Miner, KALW) It wasn't so long ago that carpooling on the Bay Area's bridges was free. Alas, those days are no more. As of July 1, tolls rose on all Bay Area bridges. Carpooling now costs $2.50; the regular toll is $6 (up from $4). It's an experiment with congestion pricing: Local transit officials are betting they can reduce traffic by making it more expensive to drive during the most crowded times of day.

The data is still coming in, but so far the plan seems to be working. On the Bay Bridge, rush hour delays have fallen by nearly half. There have been some other interesting results as well—for example, 12,000 fewer cars drove through the carpool lanes last month.

So where did all those commuters go? More this evening, on KALW News' Crosscurrents.

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Transportation Nation

Over the river and through the towns: the fight over how to build California high-speed rail

Friday, August 06, 2010

(San Francisco—Casey Miner, KALW News) First things first: the California High-Speed Rail Authority didn't actually decide anything significant at its monthly meeting yesterday. The board voted unanimously to follow its staff's recommendations about two big sections of the project, Fresno-Merced and San Francisco-San Jose. But those recommendations were merely that staff continue to study the available options for building the rail tracks through those areas.

Those options, though, stirred up a whole lot of controversy. Mayors, councilpeople, assemblymen, activists and concerned citizens packed the auditorium to the point where it was standing-room only for most of the meeting, which began at 9am and lasted well into the afternoon.

At issue was the proposed structure of the train down the Peninsula from San Fransisco to San Jose.

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Transportation Nation

Surprise! San Francisco gets its buses back

Wednesday, August 04, 2010

(San Francisco - Casey Miner, KALW) Most public transportation news isn't good news these days—shrinking budgets have led to service cuts and fare increases all over the country, and the San Francisco Bay Area is no exception. We reported last week on how AC Transit, the East Bay's bus service, has been particularly hard-hit. But across the bay in San Francisco it's a totally different story. Last month, Muni officials said that they'd managed to cobble together enough money from city and regional transportation bodies to restore about half of the service cuts they'd made in May. Yesterday, they announced that they have a plan to roll back nearly two-thirds of the cuts.

Muni is in a somewhat unique position because a significant chunk of its budget comes from San Francisco County, and officials have a great deal of discretion to move money around. But Muni has also fought for cash—the agency approached the Metropolitan Transportation Commission for a special allocation to help cover operating costs, a request which ultimately was granted.

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Transportation Nation

This bus is not in service: The shrinking routes of East Bay buses

Thursday, July 29, 2010

(Casey Miner, KALW)  It's been a rough few months for public transit in the San Francisco Bay Area -- it seems like every few weeks there's news about fares going up or service going down. AC Transit, the bus service that is the East Bay counterpart to San Francisco's Muni, has been particularly hard-hit. Though the bus service only has about 236,000 weekday riders, compared to close to 700,000 on Muni, it serves an area that is much more geographically spread out. If you don't drive in the East Bay, AC Transit is a vital service.

The problems that arise when the bus service goes awry have been particularly visible this week. More than 200 drivers have called in sick every day, in protest of a new contract the bus agency imposed on their union. The result has been hour-plus waits for many buses, even on the busiest lines. Earlier this week, twelve transbay runs (from San Francisco to the East Bay) were canceled altogether, leaving evening commuters scrambling for a way to get home.

So this last week has been bad, but things have been getting worse for AC Transit passengers for months. In March, the agency cut about eight percent of its service – shortening hours, switching and combining some lines, and cutting some routes altogether. They’re doing it to save money, but the budget situation hasn’t gotten any better, so they’re making another round of cuts next month.

So just what happens when a bus line disappears? (more)

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Transportation Nation

TN Moving Stories: vanishing car poolers, show me the T&I pork, and pilots to need more experience

Thursday, July 29, 2010

If you toll it, they won't car pool: Bay Bridge traffic decreases after car pool toll goes into effect (San Francisco Examiner).

Bumpy ride in store for Pennsylvanians? As stimulus funds dwindle for the state's transportation projects, future spending on roads and bridges to be cut by 32% (Pittsburgh Post-Gazette)

New aviation safety legislation would require six times as much flight experience from pilots (Bloomberg)

Where's the pork? The House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee releases searchable earmark database; download the spreadsheet here.

New York's Transit Workers Union suing city to keep commuter vans from taking over slashed bus routes (NY1)

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Transportation Nation

California’s Planning Problem: Errors, Bias and Lying (Pt. 2)

Friday, July 23, 2010

(San Francisco, Califorina - Nathanael Johnson, KALW News)  California's high-speed rail plan is filled with projections: The growth that the train system will bring will create 450,000 jobs.  The route, from Sacramento to San Diego, will carry as many as 117 million passengers.  But the public is weary of projects, like San Francisco's Bay Bridge, which has gone five years past due and more than $5 billion over budget.  So are these planning discrepancies the result of trying to predict the unpredictable, or "strategic misrepresentation?"  An expert opinion, and how this plays into the planning process and its problems.

Part 1 here.  Part 2:

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Transportation Nation

Bay Area Airport Connector Approved, Despite Concerns

Thursday, July 22, 2010

(Oakland, California - Casey Miner, KALW News)  After a marathon hearing today at which more than 20 people spoke, the BART board gave its final approval to the Oakland Airport Connector project, pending a guarantee of funds from the Port of Oakland. The project stalled earlier this year when it ran afoul of federal civil rights statues and lost $70 million in stimulus money, but roared back to life a month ago when BART found a way to fund the project without stimulus dollars.

Advocates say the 3.2-mile elevated connector will make reaching the Oakland Airport faster, easier, and more convenient than the current AirBART bus which shuttles passengers back and forth between the airport and the Coliseum BART station. In the best-case scenario, they promise thousands of new jobs for Oakland residents and as much as a 40% increase in ridership on the BART system.

But today's hearing offered little solace to those with persistent concerns about the project

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Transportation Nation

California's Planning Problem: Bad Math (Pt. 1)

Thursday, July 22, 2010

(San Francisco, Califorina - Nathanael Johnson, KALW News)  For years, it seemed clear that freeways designed for automobiles were the cheapest way to move people from here to there.  But, in recent years, politicians and planners have started to say that cars don’t seem so cheap when you count the cost of things like the BP oil spill.  And so, California is taking the first step in the country toward real, long-distance high-speed rail.  I traveled the planned route of that rail, stopping in on supporters, detractors and those taking a hard look at the math behind a project that will cost at least $40 billion dollars by the time its done.

Part 1:

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Transportation Nation

TN Moving Stories: Good transit will cost at least $78 billion, and why don't we learn from our infrastructure mistakes?

Thursday, July 22, 2010

A new Federal Transit Administration study says that it would cost $77.7 billion to bring rail and transit systems into "a state of good repair." And then they would still need $14.4 billion for maintenance. Meanwhile, 80% of the nation's transit agencies are raising fares and cutting services. (Washington Post)

High speed rail in California: one reporter drives the proposed route from SF to LA in an attempt to figure out why big infrastructure projects keep turning into money-sucking boondoggles. (KALW)

PA Gov. Rendell may "flex" highway funds to bail out mass transit. (Pittsburgh Tribune-Review)

A new shuttle bus service in Kalaeloa, Hawaii, will service the homeless. (KGMB/KHNL)

Back to black: US Airways reports $279 million second quarter profit--breaking string of losses that dates back to 2007. (Arizona Republic)

Stick it or ticket: suburban Illinois towns are using new software to ferret out drivers who haven't purchased village vehicle stickers. (Chicago Tribune)

Chinese are gaga over G.M:  sales rise almost fifty percent over last year.  (New York Times)

Budget cuts in one Idaho school district mean school buses will have to travel 315,000 fewer miles. Bottom line: more kids will be walking. Five miles uphill, each way, in a blizzard. (Idaho Statesman)

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Transportation Nation

California High Speed Rail Authority opts to ignore ridership problems

Friday, July 09, 2010

(Nathanael Johnson, KALW,  San Francisco) The California High Speed Rail Authority met Thursday  to review the findings of an analysis on ridership projections for the $40 billion Los Angeles-San Francisco high speed rail.  But despite serious questions about whether ridership and revenues will meet goals, the members of the authority essentially dismissed these findings as academic quibbling.

These academic quibbles, however, could have big consequences. The consultants who performed the ridership analysis have defended themselves by pointing out that they conformed to industry standards. On this point, the peer reviewers agreed. The problem is that the industry standard is fairly terrible —

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Transportation Nation

Breaking News

Thursday, July 08, 2010

Former BART police officer faces five to 14 years in prison in the shooting death of unarmed man on New Year's Day 2009: KALW News, Southern California Public Radio.

Looting in LA, Oakland, but outcry mostly peaceful: KALW News, Oakland Local.

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Transportation Nation

Bay Area Bridge Toll Congestion Pricing Arrives: Chaos Does Not Ensue

Friday, July 02, 2010

Tolbooth at the Bay Bridge. Photo by Casey Miner

(Casey Miner, KALW) After months of preparation and public service announcements, on Thursday morning Caltrans and the Bay Area Toll Authority officially debuted congestion pricing on the Bay Area’s bridges. The system, used in several cities around the world but relatively new to the US, sets prices at different levels based on the volume of traffic, rather than a flat rate across the board.

Tolls on all but one of the region’s seven bridges rose to $5; on the Bay Bridge, the toll during peak commute hours – 5am-10am and 3pm-7pm – went to $6. The extra revenue will be used to pay for seismic retrofits on the Antioch and Dumbarton bridges.

It’s a major change, and one that’s required a good deal of planning.

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Transportation Nation

Peer-review finding: California high speed rail projections unreliable

Thursday, July 01, 2010

(Nathanael Johnson, KALW)

For months, watchdog groups and critics of the California high speed rail project have claimed that a study of projected ridership on the proposed super-train was wildly incorrect. The High Speed Rail Authority has acknowledged that one of its numbers was off by an order of magnitude, but has maintained that the model still produces valuable information. These statistical models are incredibly complex, and it’s impossible to assess these competing claims without considerable expertise and a lot of time. So California's Senate Transportation and Housing Committee commissioned a peer review from engineers at UC Berkeley and UC Irvine, to put an end to the debate once and for all. The California High Speed Rail Authority paid for the review.

Now this group has released it’s findings. In their report, the professors wrote: “we have found some significant problems that render the key demand forecasting models unreliable for policy analysis.” They go on to tear the study apart, shred by carefully-worded shred.

courtesy of the California High Speed Rail Authority

Why does this matter?

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Transportation Nation

BART Oakland Airport connector roars back to life

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

This proposed walkway to new train has been cut from plans, which now call for riders to walk across these lanes of traffic.

(Nathanael Johnson, KALW) Streetsblog and the Bay Citizen are reporting that in California's Bay Area, BART has a tentative plan to take money from local agencies to realize its plans to build a train to the Oakland Airport. BART would use this money to replace the funding revoked by the federal government when Washington learned that the project was not in compliance with the Civil Rights Act.
But if the project doesn’t comply with a federal law, further federal funding is in doubt.  And it's unusual for local goverments to invest funds with no hope of federal money.  And funding plan drinks the milkshake of other transportation projects, while putting taxpayers on the hook for millions more in taxes and debt.

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Transportation Nation

TN Moving Stories

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Cast your mind back to when Oakland's Madison Square Park was a thriving neighborhood. And then BART came. (KALW)

Yes, you too can solve transportation problems: Slate asks its readers to help create Nimble Cities. (Slate)

Rats! Lower Manhattan subway lines are infested! (WNYC)

Hartford considers repealing skateboard ban -- and maybe even establishing an official skate park. (Hartford Courant)

President Obama, in his first use of the Oval Office to speak to the nation, calls for a new energy policy (New York Times). Meanwhile, new government estimates say BP's blown well in the Gulf of Mexico may be spitting out 60,000 barrels of oil every day. (NPR)

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Transportation Nation

Oyster cards come to SF

Tuesday, May 04, 2010

(Nathaneal Johnson, KALW) Check it out, one card that works on all systems. Transit experts say the more people forget about paying for transit, the more they'll ride (kinda like how it feels free to drive, because you don't pay for each trip.) Nathaneal Johnson of KALW reports.

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