No fanfare, no web site announcement, no whatever, SamTrans quietly accepts Clipper card for payment by uncovering the Clipper readers, which has been installed on buses for several months.
Tuesday, December 28, 2010
No fanfare, no web site announcement, no whatever, SamTrans quietly accepts Clipper card for payment by uncovering the Clipper readers, which has been installed on buses for several months.
Thursday, December 02, 2010
Tuesday, November 23, 2010
Wednesday, November 10, 2010
Thursday, October 28, 2010
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Monday, October 04, 2010
Wednesday, September 22, 2010
Wednesday, September 15, 2010
Saturday, August 21, 2010
Thursday, August 12, 2010
Thursday, July 22, 2010
Wednesday, July 21, 2010
Last night I was coming back from Fremont to Sunnyvale, taking the 180 to Downtown San Jose to connect to the 22. It was all going quite nicely, the 180 was just a couple minutes late, there was a good amount of time to connect to the 22, it left on time at 11 pm... and then one of the passengers, who had probably had imbibed considerably earlier in the night, decided to puke up some of what he had earlier drunk. Now, this in itself was an annoyance, but I helped the other passengers open some windows and everything seemed to be fine. Until the bus driver realized what had happened. At that point he stopped the bus, probably conferred with supervisors by radio, and then told everyone "this bus ride is over, everyone off" and promised that a replacement bus would arrive eventually, but it would take at least half an hour to do so.
As this was still near downtown, I opted to walk to the train station and take a taxi back, so I did not see the end of this story. But I also didn't know about this VTA policy. It's certainly a major annoyance to passengers, who are now at least half an hour late (and potentially miss their connections with other buses, like the SamTrans at Palo Alto). On the other hand, yeah, there's something of a health and safety hazard with vomit on the floor. Anyway, I thought you might be interested in hearing this little VTA anecdote.
Thursday, July 15, 2010
Wednesday, July 07, 2010
Wednesday, June 23, 2010
Schedule changes: 10, 12, 13, 16, 22, 23, 25, 26, 35, 39, 42, 47, 51, 54, 55, 57, 58, 60, 64, 66, 70, 71, 72, 73, 81, 88, 102, 103, 104, 140, 330
Major route changes as discussed in previous posts: 11, 34
VTA will also change the routing for line 64 at San Jose Diridon Station. Currently, southbound buses to Almaden turn right from San Fernando to Autumn Street, turn left from Autumn to Santa Clara, and turn left from Santa Clara to Cahill. Buses that terminate at the train station (along with parallel lines like 63, 64, and DASH) go straight on San Fernando to Cahill.
The extra routing along Autumn and Santa Clara adds travel time because of the two left turns in the area. Also, drivers on that route sometimes forgot to make the proper turn. With that minor change to route 64, the bus will stop at a different location at the train station.
Thursday, June 10, 2010
Monday, June 07, 2010
Thursday, June 03, 2010
Thursday, May 20, 2010
At the April 1, 2010 VTA Board of Directors Meeting, Ms. Joyce Weissman presented a petition, signed by 136 people, requesting implementation of a new weekday southbound trip on Line 63 leaving downtown San Jose around 10 p.m. Ms. Weissman previously made a similar request supported by a petition with 300 signatures to the VTA Board in November 2009.
In January 2010, as part of the 8 percent service reduction, four Line 63 night trips were eliminated due to low ridership. This resulted in the last trip leaving downtown San Jose at 7:39 p.m. Previously, the last trip left downtown at 9:29 p.m. and carried about nine to ten passengers.
Staff is planning to add a later-night southbound Line 63 trip starting on July 12, 2010, based on the information presented by Ms. Weissman. This new trip would start at 7th and Santa Clara Streets at 9:34 p.m. and end at Almaden and Camden at 10: 15 p.m. This time was chosen to maximize connections with other bus routes along the line and the availability of a bus to run the route efficiently.
VTA will add this trip on a trial basis for 6 months. If the trip does not meet the minimum ridership standard of 15 riders per hour, VTA will remove it again. It is important that those who signed the petition for a later service need to use it to justify the existance, especially in this tight budgetary times.
Monday, May 10, 2010
Under the shallow tunnel option, rail tunnels leading to and from the station would be built using tunnel boring machines. At the station area and the station approaches where the tracks join, the underground structures would be build by cut and cover. The shallow underground alternative has a similar alignment as the deep tunnel alternative, where the station would be located diagonally in front of the current train station.
The advantage of the shallow tunnel is that it costs $1.3 billion rather than $3 billion, but that's where the advantage ends. Under that alternative, the HSR station would have be dug out under the current light rail tunnel in front of the station and would have to occupy the land under the proposed baseball stadium, which is to be located south of the train station.
Deep tunnel option (upper) and shallow tunnel option (lower)
The shallow tunnel alternative would require changes to the BART project. Under that scenario, the BART tunnel would run under the proposed HSR tunnels rather than over it.
Because VTA has no funds to build BART beyond Berryessa, switching positions between the two rail lines is a feasible option. What VTA should also consider is to drop the redundent portion between San Jose Diridon and Santa Clara stations entirely. However, even if VTA is willing to address that issue, the conflict between cut and cover construction and the proposed stadium would likely kill this alternative.
Another option the city requested to study is to route HSR over the freeways rather than following the existing Caltrain corridor. Although this option has constructability concerns because of the need to maintain traffic flows on the freeway, it also presents an opportunity to build an iconic bridge for San Jose. As long as that iconic bridge does not end up to be another Bay Bridge fiasco, it might be the most reasonable option. With this option, the city would make HSR a part of the city's identity rather than to hide it.
Some of the cities further north on the peninsula are fighting HSR by pursuing another lawsuit against HSRA (HSRA already lost the first one). If San Jose is truly interested in HSR, it needs to decide how to accommodate HSR without adding more costs to the project.
Thursday, April 29, 2010
Because AC Transit essentially redrew its bus network in March to reduce service impact on transit dependent population, this series of cuts will be more painful since the agency already made much of the painless cuts.
Two major bus cuts in the same year is truly disappointing. What is more disappointing is that we as taxpayers and transit riders haven't get the same value for our transit dollars. Last week, MTC issued its annual report showing that since 1997 (after adjusting for inflation), transit costs have gone up by 52%, while revenue hours and ridership have increased by 16% and 7% respectively. Transit services in the Bay Area are also more heavily subsidized than their counterparts in Los Angeles and New York.
MTC is taking the lead trying to control that trend through the transit sustainability project. So far it has identified some strategies like work rule changes and reduction in administrative costs. On the other hand, labor agreements limited cost-savings options at most large agencies.
Friday, April 23, 2010
Rising that surcharge for employees was a terrible idea in the first place. The airport has many blue-collar jobs and most of the current round trip fares on BART exceed their hourly wages.
However, eliminating the shuttle will increase expenses for employees. Even before BART raised the surcharge, the fares at SFO have always been higher than the fare at Millbrae. For the employees who take SamTrans buses on El Camino or Caltrain, that means no more free rides.
Of course those who got impacted the most are travelers taking Caltrain to SFO. Without that shuttle, they would have to pay the $4.00 fare with a confusing transfer in San Bruno. A decade ago, BART promised a free transfer for Caltrain riders because the extension would replace a free shuttle.
Even without the employee shuttle, Caltrain riders can still boycott the ridiculous $4.00 fare just to get between Millbrae and SFO. Here's how:
- From any station between Palo Alto and Hillsdale, just skip Caltrain entirely and take the SamTrans KX. SamTrans only charges $2.00 and KX stops by (on El Camino) many of the Caltrain stations between Palo Alto and Hillsdale. The northbound bus stop at Hillsdale is located a block south on El Camino and 37th Avenue.
- From Hayward Park, San Mateo, Burlingame, and Broadway station, skip Caltrain and take the SamTrans 292. Again it charges $2.00 and the bus picks up by many of the above stations.
- From further south, you can take Caltrain to Burlingame station and transfer to SamTrans 292. The northbound bus stop is located on California Drive and Howard Avenue, a block from the Caltrain station. From the station, just walk south to Howard Avenue and turn west to California Drive.
The timings between Caltrain and 292 work out some of the time. Before Caltrain and SamTrans slashed their services last year, it was possible to take Caltrain and transfer to the KX.
A better solution (and the best boycott against BART and SFO) is to use San Jose Airport. VTA and San Jose Airport still offer a direct, frequent, and free service to connect Caltrain and the light rail to the airport. The only downside is that San Jose Airport doesn't offer as much international flights or direct flights to big cities.
You can thank Quentin Kopp (former state senator and now HSR boardmember) for the mess at SFO. Back in the 90s, he lobbied for the current BART alignment at SFO knowing that it will drive up operating costs and make transfers (BART to Caltrain, and Caltrain to SFO) inconvenient. Last year, he was at it again by trying to prevent HSR from getting to Downtown San Francisco by throwing roadblocks at the Transbay Terminal project. Two weeks ago, when HSRA staff told him that his trojan horse alternative was considered infeasible, he casted the only no vote on the HSR alternative analysis for the Peninsula corridor. He was and still is an enemy to Caltrain riders. The sooner he becomes irrelevant, the better off we are.
Wednesday, April 14, 2010
Monday, April 12, 2010
Friday, April 09, 2010
Tuesday, April 06, 2010
Monday, April 05, 2010
The logo above is what you'll see as Translink transitions into Clipper in the next few months. This new logo will appear on Translink equipment as soon as later this month. On June 15, cards with the Clipper logo will be available to the public and all Translink and Clipper card users will go to clippercard.com to manage add add values to their cards.
Basically this is a rebranding effort. MTC wants to rebrand the card because it thinks the Translink name is too generic (Translink is the name of the transit system in Vancouver BC, for instance). The selection of the name Clipper is supposed to evoke historic Clipper ships (which explains the design of the new logo). The backend infrastructure will still be the same. If you have a Translink card, the card will work the same way after the transition. If you don't have one, you may be eligible to get a Clipper card for free (usually $5 for a card).
Tuesday, March 30, 2010
This is the kind of cuts that we don't like to see and that we work hard to fight against. As much as we rather want no cuts at all we all must face the ugly reality of the economy. We prefer cuts that are strategic, surgical, and would maintain a reasonable transit network.
Tuesday, March 23, 2010
The partial restoration of state funding will help reduce the need for more fare hikes and service cuts throughout the state. In additions to the cuts approved by Bay Area agencies, the funding crisis also hit hard on the transit system in Sacramento. Last Friday, Sacramento RT proposed to cut 37 of 91 bus routes and ending all bus and light rail operations after 9pm. Sacramento already has one of the most expensive local transit fares in the state. The proposal to eliminate service after 9pm would have a huge impact on swing shift workers and college students taking night courses.
Perhaps the governor isn't as bad as we first thought. (another movie clip)
Wednesday, March 17, 2010
But what else could you expect from a Republican politician? The party's stubbornness over its twisted ideology is inconsistent with the will of California's voters on transportation issues. That's why California Transit Association and League of California Cities are looking at a state ballot measure to prevent future budget raids.
His repeated budget raids on transit truly evoke a scene from his first Terminator movie:
Monday, March 15, 2010
Monday, March 01, 2010
Thursday, February 25, 2010
Wednesday, February 17, 2010
- There are some people that we should not start a conversation with, even though it would appear impolite if we ignore them.
- There is no point in escalating the argument. Since no one will win or lose anything by winning or losing any argument, why don't we just shut up and get to where we need to go as quick as possible.
- We should never encourage others to fight. (some riders on this video tried to calm the riders down, whereas the riders on the Muni video encouraged the Chinese woman to fight).
Update: This is the video after both got off the bus.
It appears that both men involved in this fight have issues. If you look carefully, the writing on the back of the blue T-shirt the white man was wearing says "I am a motherfucker." What a conversation starter!
Friday, February 12, 2010
The main differences between the proposals are that the Democrats would hold on to the diesel tax. They also propose giving regional agencies like MTC the ability to put a regional gas tax on the ballot to help get money for transit. MTC has been asking for this authority for years and the legislature has always said no.
Giving MTC this authority might be a help. But it’s a risky funding strategy for transit because there is no guarantee that voters would approve a regional gas tax. It has rarely polled over 50% in the past, polling well only once when voters were told the money would fund initiatives to stop climate change. That was soon after Gore’s movie came out, and climate change is no longer a top concern of voters due to the recession and successful disinformation campaign by climate change deniers. Also, anti-tax groups are likely to sue.
Monday, February 08, 2010
Wednesday, February 03, 2010
Last year, VTA predicted it could keep the same level of transit service for the next 10 years. However, a month after approving that SRTP, VTA publicly admitted that it needs to raise fares and cut services. This time, the SRTP assumes new financial realities. Today, VTA uses more conservative scenarios in projecting future sales tax revenue growth (negative growth in sales taxes after adjusted for inflation). Nonetheless, VTA also assumes that somehow State Transit Assistance (which was removed for 5 years by the state legislature to balance the state budget) would come back next year, and that all federal eligible federal capital funds would be diverted fo operations (under the preventive maintenance category).
The current draft SRTP assumes that the reduced transit service will continue for the next 8 years. To handle the projected ridership on some bus routes, VTA would use more articulated buses. In 2013, VTA expects to operated enhanced 522 BRT service. the 523 BRT service on Stevens Creek would start in 2017.
Also included in the SRTP is the first year of BART operation to Berryessa. In 2008, VTA cheated the VTA Board and voters by presenting a financial scenario showing that the Measure B tax would fully fund the operating cost for BART extension. This SRTP however, shows the exact opposite. Starting in 2019, the first full year of operation, VTA is expected to pay $46.32 million to BART for operating subsidy and $10.09 million for capital reserve. On the other hand, VTA is expected to receive $37.34 million from the 1/8% sales tax. Although not shown in the SRTP spreadsheet, the capital reserve is expected to raise every year for the next 15 years.
Even though VTA plans to collect the 1/8 cent tax years before BART opening (thus not having to spend it), VTA would likely exhaust that surplus in less than 10 years after. If this scenario holds, VTA would eventually have to cut bus service or raise taxes to further subsidize the useless BART line. So much for "Measure A pays operating costs for BART, rail, and buses for decades without additional taxes." (Carl Guardino in the 2000 Measure A rebuttal)
In future years, financial projection will change depending on the economy, political leadership, and tax structure. Despite optimistic scenarios used in some years, transit riders were more affected during economic downturns than during economic booms. During good economic times, transit unions generally demand much of the new revenue to go toward their salaries and benefits instead of new services. When good times come to an end, agencies cut costs mostly by cutting service. While agencies including VTA try to cut labor costs, factors like pensions and healthcare seriously limit their options.
Friday, January 29, 2010
Wednesday, January 27, 2010
In response, MTC staff has recommended its board to continue supporting the OAC project, but would give BART a few weeks to complete the equity analysis. If BART fails to convince FTA, then that stimulus funding would be distributed to local transit agencies. Under that alternative, Muni and BART each would receive $17 million, VTA would receive $12 million, and AC Transit would receive $7 million.
OAC supporters argued that OAC stimulates the economy by providing needed construction jobs. At the same time, distributing the same funds to local agencies also help the economy by curbing job losses by transit agencies as they cut service. Even after a series of service cuts implemented by Muni last month, Muni is still projecting a $16.9 million budget gap, which means further service cuts and fare hikes. For VTA, that $12 million could go a long way as VTA is dipping into reserve this year and next year, on top of service cuts implemented earlier this month.
Although the Obama administration has expressed willingness to increase federal transit funding and loosen up the eligibility requirements to receive such funds, it is also clear that maintaining transit service is a priority. Yesterday, President Obama was speaking at an event in Lorain County Ohio and commented on the impact of transit cuts in that county: "You can't get to work or go buy groceries like you used to because of cuts in the county transit system." Lorain County eliminated 2/3 of its bus routes after voters rejected a sales tax increase to address the funding shortfall. The service cuts are hitting hard especially on senior and disabled riders, and making economic recovery difficult as more and more unemployed have difficult access to jobs and schools for training.
Back in the Bay Area, one of the main issues for the OAC is the proposed $6 one way fare. The current AirBART shuttle service costs $3 one way and requires no tax subsidy. Compared to the bus service, the proposed project would not be significantly faster or frequent, and would drop off riders at the airport further away from the terminals than the existing buses. While many airport travelers may be willing to pay the high fares, $12 round trip is obviously too high for airport employees. To address FTA's concerns, BART could argue that it can give fare discounts to airport employees and other low income groups. But then can BART promises ever be trusted? 12 years ago, BART promised free fare for Caltrain riders between Millbrae and the SF Airport. Now, it is $4 one way for a one station ride. Also, BART does not waive the $4 airport surcharge for SFO employees, which prompted the airport to provide its own employee shuttle to Millbrae.