Saturday, October 31, 2009
Saturday, October 24, 2009
Sunday, October 11, 2009
Senate Bill 1561, authored by Senator Steinberg, was enacted to allow RT to exclude passengers who repeatedly violate transit laws from using the system. The purpose of the exclusion policy is to reduce the number of passenger disruptions and improve overall RT service.
Effective October 1, 2009, anyone arrested for a crime or cited on three separate occasions within a period of 60 consecutive days for infractions committed in or on an RT vehicle, bus stop or light rail station will now face a ban of 30 days. Offenders can be banned for up to a year if convicted of more serious offenses.
Interfering with an operator of a transit vehicle, willfully disturbing others on or in a system facility or vehicle, and defacing District property could all result in exclusion.
“The exclusion policy puts Sacramento at the forefront of a continued effort to improve passenger safety on California’s transit systems,” Senator Steinberg said. “Over the next few years, we will prove the exclusion policy can be a valuable asset not only in our region but to transit operators across the state.”
The exclusion policy provides an appeals process for individuals who opt to contest a prohibition order. Transit personnel have also been trained to recognize and facilitate passengers’ special needs.
Friday, October 09, 2009
Saturday, October 03, 2009
In a resounding victory for those who provide and those who depend on public transit in California, the State Supreme Court late yesterday rejected the Schwarzenegger Administration’s appeal of a lower court ruling that annual raids on transit funding are illegal.
By declining to accept the Petition for Review filed by state officials, the high court upheld the ruling of the Third District Court of Appeal that recent funding diversions violated a series of statutory and constitutional amendments enacted by voters via four statewide initiatives dating back to 1990.
“By denying the state’s appeal, the Supreme Court has affirmed once and for all what we always maintained was true: that it’s illegal to shift dedicated state transit funds away from transit agencies and their riders,” said Joshua Shaw, Executive Director of the California Transit Association and lead plaintiff in the case. “This decision validates our position that this practice has been illegal since even before 2007, and that the definition of mass transportation adopted by lawmakers since then to mask these diversions is illegal.”
Public transit officials now hope to work with the Administration and Legislature to restore those funds taken since the Association filed the initial lawsuit in October, 2007, on the heels of the 2007-08 state budget package that raided $1.19 billion from the Public Transportation Account (PTA). Since that agreement, more than $3 billion in transit funding has been re-routed to fill holes in the General Fund.
Although the courts agreed that transit funding raid is illegal, it is not clear whether that will translate into any actual funding restoration by the state. However, any state funding restoration will help transit riders.
The loss the State Transit Assistance fund not only puts pressure on Bay Area agencies, but also throughout the state. In Calaveras County (Sierra foothills east of Stockton), the transit agency there cut service by 40% and eliminated its regional connection to the Central Valley in Lodi. Over there, the service cut impact is not just forcing riders to spend extra minutes waiting for a bus, but actually make it virtually impossible to access essential shopping and medical services. The only regional connection in Calaveras County now is through the adjacent Amador County, which still operates a bus line into Sacramento. Amtrak and Greyhound are not available in those counties.
In Orange County, the transit agency there made drastic cuts earlier this year and an additional 30% cut is proposed for March next year. Although Orange County is urbanized and has huge transit needs, it is also very politically conservative. The politicians there have no problem with more freeway widening (which are quite wide already), but have a false perception that residents there do not need mass transit. Fortunately, Steven Chan, a Silicon Valley transplant, has started a transit blog there to advocate for better transit in Orange County.
Thursday, October 01, 2009
The price for the regular monthly pass has gone up to $70. The new price for the express monthly pass is now $140.
However, that's not the end here, the VTA board will consider tonight on cutting bus and light rail service by 8%, which would go in effect in January.
Highway 17 Express
Interestingly, even though the fares for various operators have gone up over the years, the fares for the Highway 17 Express have remained the same. When the Highway 17 Express began weekend service in 2004 (as it merged with Amtrak Thruway bus to Santa Cruz), the fare was adjusted to $4 one way, which is still in effect today. In 1994, the Amtrak Thruway fare was $5 one way and the Highway 17 Express was $2.25. Overall, bus riders have been getting more value for the fare dollar especially considering the increasing cost of gas.
How can Highway 17 Express keeps its fares the same for so long? Highway 17 Express is operated by Santa Cruz Metro with funding from the Metro, VTA, and Amtrak. It has an independent operating budget. After the implementation of weekend service, ridership has increased steadily over the years. It enjoys a high farebox recovery of 58% in July 2009, despite a 9% drop in ridership from the same month last year. Stable weekend ridership (which many riders pay one way fares) helps bring in revenue for the line.
HSR open house for San Jose-Gilroy segment
Despite losing the lawsuit (specifically on the lack of agreement with UP for using the rail corridor between San Jose and Gilroy), HSRA nonetheless will hold meetings on that segment next week. Two of them will be held in Santa Clara County.
Tuesday, October 6, 2009
6:00 p.m. - 8:00 p.m.
Gardner Community Center
520 W. Virginia Street
Monday, October 12, 2009
6:00 p.m. - 8:00 p.m.
Hilton Garden Inn
6070 Monterey Road
While the HSRA planning process so far has captured the attention of Palo Alto and Menlo Park residents, who fear that high speed rail would either take their property or somehow cause a decline in their property value, San Jose residents who might be impacted by high speed rail does not have the same political clout as those in Palo Alto or Menlo Park. However that might change...
The HSRA is studying various alternatives for getting trains through Downtown San Jose. Although the current Caltrain alignment is the base line, the existing line south of the San Jose Diridon Station is slow and narrow. Immediately south of the station, the Caltrain line has to cross under the San Carlos Street overpass and above Los Gatos Creek.
One alternative under consideration is a diagonal station for high speed rail (last page in this PDF) right in front of the existing Caltrain station. HSRA engineers said that this alternative (under the SF-SJ segment) is driven by the planning process for the segment between San Jose and Gilroy. Alternative alignments like those could get the high speed rail trains through San Jose faster, but might not be something that San Jose Delusionals have expected.