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Published Friday, May 31, 2002, in the Redwood City Daily News
Trolley funding may get cut
By Edward Carpenter
Daily News Staff Writer
San Mateo is paying $7 to $11 per person per ride for two trolleys
that roam the downtown area, often empty, and may have to be cut
because it's so expensive, said Mayor Sue Lempert yesterday.
"I go downtown daily and never see anyone on it," Lempert told the
Lempert said she asked for "hard numbers" on riders and how much the
service costs, which will be presented at Monday's City Council
While ridership has increased from 1,233 in January to 2,293 in
April, the city paid about $7.60 for each rider in its best month.
"It's a lot of money," Lempert said. The city pays on average about
$17,420 per month for the service which serves an estimated 1,468
riders per month.
Lempert said she didn't want to do away with the service, but it may
not make economic sense to continue renewing it.
"It's unfortunate this isn't working," Lempert said. "It's a really
expensive thing for the city to be doing."
Lempert said the city has a commitment with downtown businesses to do
something special during the construction of the new parking
structure and cinema, but she said a new idea, such as taxi vouchers,
may be called for in this circumstance.
"If it's not going to be used, we've got to find another way,"
One trolley runs a circular route in downtown San Mateo and out to
the hotels on the Bayfront, and the other is available to pick up
groups of 10 or more and bring them into downtown, officials said.
The council will consider whether to continue with the trolley
programs and what hours it should run. The meeting begins 8 p.m.
Published Thursday, May 23, in San Jose Metro
I Am The Passenger: Eugene Bradley's little group of transit riders
gets dissed and dismissed but keeps on trying.
Super Transit Man
Rider extraordinaire Eugene Bradley presses the Valley Transit
Authority for radical things like better and cheaper bus and train
service. What's it take for a bus-riding activist to get a little
respect around here?
By Allie Gottlieb
IT'S EASY TO write off public transit fan Eugene Bradley as a nut. At
least, it sure seemed easy for the Valley Transit Authority on May 2,
when, with little public discussion, its members voted unanimously to
charge riders more for less service, despite Bradley's vigorous and
Bradley, 31, transferred two years ago from New Jersey to the
peninsula where he holds a systems administration job. The
mild-mannered Sunnyvale resident, who doesn't own a car or a driver's
license, founded a grassroots transit takers' advocacy and watchdog
group -- the Santa Clara VTA Riders Union -- in December 2000 during a
VTA strike by bus drivers and mechanics that disturbed service. Now he
regularly posts a transportation web chat list and mailer for about
100 members (http://www.vtaridersunion.org), hands out "action alert"
leaflets to keep county residents up on transit issues and tries to
get a riders union rep to each transit-related meeting.
If a town's got a cause -- and they all do -- a town's got to have a
guy like Bradley. He's the one who's awake at every boring City
Council or, in his case, transportation meeting. He reads the whole
report, even though it's written in language more soporific than a
horse tranquilizer. He spends his free time writing number-heavy
editorials and concocting detailed counterproposals to official
government plans. He emails all the council and transit board members
and the newspapers. He's surprised if he hears back. Is anyone
listening? "For the most part," he says, "no."
In the face of rejection, Bradley tries again.
"I care about getting from point A to point B," Bradley says,
simply. He takes the No. 22 bus and Caltrain on his daily 90-minute
trip to work. Then, on top of his 60-hour-a-week day job, he spends at
least three hours weekly and 75 bucks monthly speaking out on behalf
of the bus- and train-taking minority.
"There was no need to do this in New Jersey," Bradley says. He's never
led a grassroots organization before, though he's volunteered with
other nearby groups, including the Bay Rail Alliance. His hometown had
"quality" public transportation, he says, but things are worse in
Santa Clara County. Buses are too often late, if they show at all, he
gripes. When he moved here, he found that no one was looking out for
local transit riders. So he decided to do it.
At last Thursday's VTA board meeting, Bradley made a final two-minute
plea to save current fares and service. "You don't punish transit
riders by increasing fares," he told the board.
Before the board OKed the higher rates, board member Forrest Williams
called the increases "reasonable," while board member Tom Springer
complained that they weren't high enough.
The VTA says it's fishing for cash because of weakened sales tax
revenue wrought by the sinking economy. Sales tax revenue covers 80
percent of the VTA's operating costs. The rest trickles in from fares
(incidentally, ridership has fallen by 8.1 percent from last year),
grants and investment income.
Tax revenue plummeted by more than 20 percent in the first two fiscal
quarters of this year. According to the VTA literature, that's the
"most extreme" decline "in the history of the VTA. The VTA predicts
that sales tax revenue will drop to $152 million this fiscal year from
$167 million in 2000.
Less for More
What you can expect with VTA'S increase in fares in July
Cash Fares Day Passes Monthly Passes
Adult Old: $1.25 $3.00 $39.00
New: $1.40 $4.00 $45.00
Youth Old: $0.70 $1.75 $22.00
New: $0.85 $2.50 $27.00
Senior/Disabled: $0.40 $1.00 $9.00
New: $0.45 $1.25 $11.00
Express Old: $2.00 $5.00 $63.00
New: $2.25 $6.00 $72.00
The VTA's fare hikes and service cuts (see www.vta.org for more
information) start on July 8
Obviously, public transportation activists like Bradley oppose
proposals like this. So what? Does the transportation authority really
care about the nagging protests of a few bus and train freaks?
Sure, says John Pilger, the VTA's public information manager: "We view
them as being part of the general public. We welcome their input along
with all other public input."
Pilger sounds just like the VTA's promotional brochure. "Public
comment is a vital part of the process," it swears. "All comments are
provided to the VTA Board of Directors and considered as part of their
decision-making process. Staff has already made changes to the initial
proposal based on public input." Pilger backs up the brochure, adding
that public reaction resulted in fewer bus line cuts.
Decision and policy makers like the VTA are accountable to public
opinion and groups who affect and command public opinion, says Mike
Dolan, co-director of Oakland's branch of Public Citizen, the national
political watchdog group that Ralph Nader founded in 1971. While his
group is not involved in the VTA's planning process, he offers general
thoughts about watchdog organizing and advocacy.
"What we're up against is fairly opaque cabals of moneyed interests
... the influence that big money can enjoy" that local groups cannot,
Dolan says. He adds that sometimes it takes embarrassing a powerful
governing agency to get it to listen to the little guy.
"Re: fare increases ... this is getting too high for those of us on
fixed income," Dawn Wilcox wrote in the public comment she turned in
to the VTA at a March 13 meeting in Mountain View.
"I would like to suggest that the management of VTA take a cut in pay
instead of raises and increasing fares," commented Marga Goehner, who
attended a San Jose meeting.
These are the folks Bradley is avenging. Rather than taking the
transit deficit out of the riders' hide, Bradley's group recommended
hitting up developers who build away from transit lines and force more
cars onto the road. The VTA has considered and rejected this
impact-fee idea in the past. Other suggestions included doing away
with free parking in downtown San Jose and using the parking money for
public transportation -- and making trains and buses run on time to
keep people interested in taking them.
The riders union also criticizes the VTA for failing to effectively
promote public transportation and for failing to make its staff use
it. The group urged in its doomed counterplan that the transportation
authority "require VTA staff, management and board members to use the
bus and light rail system instead of VTA courtesy cars. This not only
saves revenue internally but also shows confidence in using the bus
and light rail system and an alternative to driving in Santa Clara
Of course, as a VTA employee pointed out in a rare contribution to the
riders union website, some transportation jobs require cars or
trucks -- anything construction- or maintenance-related, for example.
While four years younger and less influential than Rescue Muni, a
better-known transit-users group in San Francisco, Bradley says the
riders union has waged successful lobbying campaigns. He and his pals
were behind the VTA's decision to allow other public transportation
agencies' schedules on area buses and light rail trains.
But the riders union still has a lot of growing to do. The group has
failed to garner support from elected officials, on or off the VTA
board. Like resentful siblings, riders union members note that Rescue
Muni gets to sit on an advisory panel during Muni's transportation
planning. The riders union wants a comparable spot on the valley's
"We get the impression many times that the decisions were already
made" before riders get to object, Bradley says. At the same time, his
spirit seems notably uncrushed. "You learn very quickly not to give
up, because the instant you do give up, the VTA ends up winning,"
After losing this latest battle, Bradley geared up to head home in the
dark and post the bad news on his website.
Send a letter to the editor about this story to letters@...
Published Thursday, May 30, 2002, in the San Jose Metro
Letters to the Editor
Go, Go, Super Transit Man
Eugene Bradley has done a great job in organizing the users of our
transit service ("Super Transit Man", May 23.). [The Riders Union]
has shown VTA that the passenegrs do care and have the voices to try
to cause changes for the good of the users. Bradley is entirely
correct in that employees of VTA (including top management) need to
use the service they are working for. If you are in the area of River
Oaks when it is time to go home, don't get run over by the exodus of
cars coming out of the [employee] parking lot.
Also, as a correction, there was not a strike in 2000. The union was
in contract talks because VTA needed to change the two-tier pay system
that wasn't working. After the ratification by union members, the VTA
board granted at 16 percent raise, a bonus and a $750-a-month car
allowance to Pete Cipolla. I have never seen the justification for
A VTA employee who does use the system
[Name withheld at letter writer's request]
Published Wednesday, May 29, 2002, in the Contra Costa Times
Concord lowers speeds on Ygnacio Valley Road
Most motorists aren't traveling as fast as the posted limits allow
By Denis Cuff
Contra Costa Times
CONCORD - The city is dropping the speed limit from 55 mph to 45 on
part of Ygnacio Valley Road less than a year after starting to meter
traffic elsewhere along the major commute route.
City officials say lowering the speed for the first time in two
decades is not a nudge to push East County commuters onto freeways and
off Ygnacio Valley Road.
"This is about safety and smoothing out traffic," Concord Mayor Bill
McManigal said. "You can get safety problems if you have cars
traveling 55 mph and they suddenly have to slow down fast when they
reach other road sections."
The City Council vote Tuesday was 4-0 to approve lower limits on the
road. Councilman Mark Peterson was absent.
The limit drops from 55 mph to 45 on Ygnacio Valley Road from Ayers
Road west to the city limits. The limit drops from 50 mph to 45 on the
same road from Ayers Road east toward Michigan Boulevard.
Excessive speed has contributed to accidents along the busy road, city
traffic engineers say.
The many new housing developments along Ygnacio Valley have warranted
the speed limit, says John Templeton, Concord's transportation
The road through Concord was rural two decades ago, but since then
many housing developments and the Cal State Hayward Contra Costa
campus line the route.
Radar surveys show most motorists aren't traveling as fast as the
posted speed limits, Templeton said.
Some 40,000 vehicles per weekday travel on Ygnacio Valley Road through
Concord, making it one of the county's busiest commute routes.
To improve traffic flow, city traffic engineers have proposed widening
Ygnacio Valley Road from two to three lanes each direction from Cowell
Road to Michigan Boulevard. Construction could begin next year with
the council's approval.
In August, Concord installed traffic lights to meter traffic along
Kirker Pass Road, which carries East County commuters onto Ygnacio
Contact Denis Cuff at 925-943-8267 or dcuff@...
Published Monday, May 27, 2002, in the San Jose Business Journal
Mass transit use up in Bay Area
San Francisco Bay Area residents who take public transit to work
increased steadily in the 1990s, with a large proportion of the new
transit commuters coming from the suburbs, according to the
Metropolitan Transportation Commission, citing recently released data.
The nine-county region gained 27,500 average daily mass transit
commuters between 1990 and 2000, increasing from 293,600 transit
commuters in 1990 to 321,100 transit commuters in 2000. This
represents a 9.4 percent increase in the total number of daily transit
The jump in transit ridership is particularly striking among
communities outside of the urban core, the MTC says. Transit commuting
from "other urban" and suburban areas increased by 18.4 percent in the
1990s, increasing from 115,800 average daily transit commuters in 1990
to 137,100 in 2000.
But the number of commuters using buses, trains and ferries and other
types of mass transit is still small when compared to the total ocean
of commuters. Between 1990 and 2000, the total number of daily
commuters in the region increased from 3,085,600 to 3,306,100. This
translates to a 7.1 percent increase in the total number of workers
using any means of transportation -- drive alone, carpool, transit,
walk, bicycle -- as well as workers who usually work at home.
These and other transportation statistics gleaned from the 2000
"journey-to-work" figures made available by the Census Bureau this
month are being analyzed and put into context by the Metropolitan
Transportation Commission and posted on the agency's Web site at
http://www.mtc.ca.gov/datamart/census.htm. The Bay Area counties
included are Alameda, Contra Costa, Marin, Napa, San Francisco, San
Mateo, Santa Clara, Solano and Sonoma.
Pubished Sunday, June 2, 2002, in the San Jose Mercury News
Important votes keep BART-to-S.J. on track
CANDID CONVERSATIONS ABOUT CONSTRUCTION DETAILS ARE ESSENTIAL, AND THE
PUBLIC MUST BE KEPT INFORMED
RUNNING BART service from Fremont through downtown San Jose and up to
Santa Clara will be no easy accomplishment, as events last week
The San Jose City Council and a policy board of BART and Silicon
Valley representatives both approved routing for the new service. But
public concerns surfaced anew regarding disruption to downtown
businesses during construction, and whether BART should go to Mineta
San Jose International Airport.
First things first: Decisions by the council and by the Silicon Valley
Rapid Transit Board were important. Though some station locations
still must be decided, the selection of a Santa Clara Street subway
route and the reaffirmation of plans not to extend BART to the airport
mean further planning and environmental assessments can proceed.
Public reaction was encouraging regarding the downtown route. San Jose
Mayor Ron Gonzales and council members were refreshingly candid in
acknowledging that during construction, a key artery in the heart of
the city will be a mess. Business leaders responded in kind with a
constructive list of suggestions. Open, frequent, and candid
conversations will be essential from now until the BART trains begin
to roll under downtown a decade from now.
Though the construction conversations must continue, the issue of how
to connect BART to the airport needs to be put to rest.
A BART stop at the airport would be easier on passengers than having
to schlep luggage up and down escalators to use a people mover system
connecting BART to the airport. But the costs of routing BART to the
airport are high; planners rejected that option from the beginning.
Some critics say voters were misled by the language of Measure A, the
2000 Santa Clara County ballot issue providing money to help pay for
the BART extension. The record of the debate shows otherwise; the
question of airport service was discussed frequently during public
meetings, in commentary on this page, and in such things as a
question-and-answer package published in The Mercury News just days
before the vote:
Q. Will BART connect to San Jose International Airport?
A. Not directly. BART would end in Santa Clara at the Caltrain depot
west of the long-term parking lot for the airport. A people-mover like
that being built at San Francisco International would take riders from
BART and light rail on First Street directly into the terminals within
The people mover also would connect to parking areas and rental car
services. Though people mover cars would be smaller than BART cars,
the frequency of service would increase during peak times to ensure
that passenger loads could be handled. It's an efficient and
The overall direction for new BART service has been set. The votes
last week were critical to keeping the project on track. Public
officials must continue to move ahead apace, while keeping the public
informed every step of the way.
Published Sunday, June 2, 2002, in the San Jose Mercury News
Odor lingers over bid to kill BART link to airport
By Peter Delevett
You hate to beat a dead horse once the cow's out the barn door, but
sometimes you smell a rat.
Though the San Jose City Council and some members of the Valley
Transportation Authority have voted to bring BART near -- but not
directly to -- Mineta San Jose International Airport, an odor still
And though it's all but certain that a June vote by the VTA and BART
boards will plant a wet smooch on the plan, some citizens who want to
see the rail service run to the airport are doing some last-ditch
Members of the Silicon Valley Rapid Transit Corridor Community Working
Group (whew), a band of citizens who've been helping advise government
bigwigs about extending BART, are grumbling that they haven't been
Now group members are looking into a ballot measure that would require
an airport BART station.
Fast and loose?
Backers of the plan to link BART to the airport via a people-mover are
full of reasons why an airport extension won't fly. The biggest is
"This effort would cost about $600 million," says San Jose Mayor Ron
Gonzales, who deserves credit for bringing BART to San Jose. "The
ridership numbers just do not justify this kind of expenditure."
The VTA estimates that 7,400 folks would take the people-mover each
day, compared with 4,700 who would ride if BART ran directly to the
airport, thanks to the people-mover's more frequent runs.
Those figures don't come from a poll of prospective riders, a VTA
spokeswoman says, but from a "modeling" process that includes
looking at other airports.
But you can crunch numbers to reach whatever conclusions you
want. Lisa Jensen, a member of the community working group, says she
has talked with other airports and concluded that a direct rail link
would bring at least 8,500 riders to the airport each day.
Who's right? Beats me. But I do know the VTA had no incentive to come
up with numbers that would favor the more expensive plan.
Hands off my stack
If that sounds unduly cynical, try on this conspiracy theory that's
making the rounds: The real reason government planners are dead-set
against bringing BART to the airport is that airport officials are
terrified it would cannibalize parking revenues.
San Jose's airport gets roughly half its yearly budget from
parking. Several folks who were in on the action when the county
light-rail system was installed years ago say airport leaders insisted
those tracks not extend to the airport, lest people have less
incentive to park there.
"I haven't heard that," says airport spokesman Steve Luckenbach,
adding that there's been no study on whether BART would hurt parking.
It's all well and good if the airport wants to protect its parking
revenue; I wouldn't want somebody threatening 50 percent of my
income. But if that's really what's going on, the bureaucrats should
Instead, people-mover backers have been trotting out increasingly
* "Not enough airport passengers will ride BART." But if we give
passengers an unwieldy system, aren't we creating a self-fulfilling
* "Most of the people taking BART to the airport would be airport
employees, not passengers." So? That still gets cars off the road.
* "A BART stop would take longer to build." This seems like a wildly
shortsighted argument for a system that's meant to last decades.
One city leader concedes there's a credibility gap. "The community is
saying, 'We don't believe you,'" says Councilwoman Cindy Chavez.
At the working group's urging, Chavez has requested a meeting with
Gonzales, BART and VTA leaders to be sure the case against the airport
extension stands up.
Such official fact-checking is needed. Otherwise, that nagging odor
Peter Delevett's column appears Sunday and Wednesday. If
you've got a scoop, e-mail pdelevett@... or call (408)
271-3638. To subscribe to his e-mail dispatch, see
Published Friday, May 31, 2002, in the Contra Costa Times
Hwy 4 signs to be installed next week
Caltrans will begin installing new traffic signs to increase safety
along a stretch of Highway 4 next week after a request from Sen. Tom
Torlakson, D-Antioch, will unveil the new "Daylight Headlight Section"
signs, which will remind drivers to turn their headlights on and off,
during his scheduled Town Hall meeting about transportation on
CalTrans will begin installing a total of 26 signs along the two-lane,
seven-mile section of rural Highway 4 that runs between Brentwood and
the town of Discovery Bay next week. The signs, which cost an
estimated $16,200, including labor to install them, will remain
covered until June 7.
"The signs are just a recommendation. No tickets will be issued, but
it's traffic-safety awareness," said Robert Oakes, spokesman for
The traffic signs are just the first step to Torlakson's plan to
increase traffic safety on that stretch of Highway 4. In February, the
senator introduced SB 1349 in the Legislature, a bill that would
create the state's 12th double-fine zone along that stretch of Highway
Torlakson's Town Hall meeting, which will take place at 7 p.m. June 6
in Brentwood at the Los Medanos Brentwood Center, 101 A Sand Creek
Road, will include an update on the Highway 4 widening and bypass
projects, planning for a passenger rail extension to far East County
and an update on SB 1349.
Published Thursday, May 30, 2002, in the San Jose Mercury News
Traffic ridges, islands will go
Split Menlo Park Council acts on Santa Cruz Ave.
By Shawn Neidorf
Opponents of the controversial efforts to calm traffic on Santa Cruz
Avenue scored a partial victory Tuesday night, when the Menlo Park
City Council voted 3-2 to eliminate many of the crosswalks, median
islands and concrete "bulb outs" at the curb that angered many
* Bulb outs, also known as curb extensions, will be eliminated at 13
of 18 locations. Bulb outs are islands of concrete near the curb meant
to keep drivers from straying too far to the right, but they also
narrow the lane for bicyclists and pedestrians.
* Center turn lanes will be restored by removing median islands at 10
* Crosswalks will be reduced from 22 to 12.
* All through-travel lanes will be widened to at least 10 feet.
Public works director Kent Steffens said he thought the changes would
begin within two weeks. He did not have an estimate of how much the
alterations would cost.
Mayor Steve Schmidt and council members Mary Jo Borak and Chuck Kinney
voted for the compromise approach; council members Paul Collacchi and
Nicholas Jellins voted against it. They preferred removal of all the
islands and bulb outs.
``The message is that they are unwanted,'' said Collacchi, who
suggested the city send out its ``spatula truck'' to remove the
unpopular concrete barriers that were meant to slow traffic and
The council also asked city staff members to study several related
issues, including the angled crosswalk near St. Raymond's Catholic
Church and parking rules on Santa Cruz Avenue. A striping plan will
come before the council in a few weeks.
The meeting drew a standing-room-only crowd of at least 170 people,
though many left before the vote, which came shortly after 11:30
p.m. The audience was boisterous -- booing, hissing, laughing and
clapping in response to council discussion and public testimony.
Area resident Libby Hagman presented the council with a petition
signed by 1,051 Menlo Park residents who wanted the curb extensions
removed. Almost all of them wanted the median islands removed as well,
There was a political edge to the issue. If the concrete barriers were
not scraped up now, they would be removed after the November election,
warned Santa Cruz Avenue resident Pat White. Borak, Jellins and
Schmidt would be on the fall ballot, should they decide to seek new
Tuesday's meeting was not the first airing of residents' frustration
and anger over the road changes. Santa Cruz Avenue residents and those
who live nearby have been complaining loudly about the roadwork since
shortly after it began in early May.
The city quickly scheduled three community meetings -- which together
drew more than 100 people -- and slated the issue for its May 21 city
At that meeting, neighbors denounced the changes on Santa Cruz between
Elder Avenue and University Drive for 2 1/2 hours. They said the
medians and bulb outs meant to enhance pedestrian and bicyclist safety
were having the opposite effect.
They also expressed concerns that the new layout forced cars to get
too close to pedestrians and that median islands could make it
difficult for emergency vehicles to make left turns.
But the city council was reluctant to undo the work, so it halted most
work last week and scheduled Tuesday's meeting to make a decision.
Public comment was much the same Tuesday night, though several people
did appreciate the new crosswalks and said drivers were slowing in
response to the traffic-calming measures.
Contact Shawn Neidorf at sneidorf@...
Published Friday, May 31, 2002, in the Contra Costa Times
Outlying towns get bus routes
By Heidi M. Ortmann
The far-flung communities of Bethel Island and Knightsen are finally
going to get bus service.
Tri-Delta Transit has announced that limited bus service will begin
July 1. According to Tri-Delta Transit Chief Executive Officer Jeanne
Krieg, Tri-Delta Transit will try out the bus service to see whether
people like it. If so, Krieg said, bus service will be expanded.
Krieg said Bethel Island and Knightsen will begin with bus service
three times a day at 6:14 a.m., 2:24 p.m. and 7:26 p.m. Rides are $1
each way, and passengers can obtain a transfer to connect to other
According to Krieg, bus route 381, to and from Bethel Island and
Knightsen, will begin at the Hillcrest Park and Ride and take East
18th Street/Main Street through Oakley to Bethel Island. The bus will
turn around at Wallia's Convenience Store/Gas station on Gateway
Boulevard and head back toward Brentwood, stopping off in Knightsen at
A and First streets.
She said the bus will proceed to the Brentwood Park and Ride lot with
various stops along the way.
"I am thrilled about the new service," Krieg said. "I hope residents
support it by riding so we can bring more service out there. We want
it to succeed. The demand is there. We need to use the bus and make it
For more information or bus schedules, call Tri-Delta Transit at
Reach Heidi M. Ortmann at 779-7189 or hortmann@....
Published Friday, May 31, 2002, in the San Jose Mercury News
I-880 on-ramp at Brokaw Road to shift northbound traffic
Northbound Ramp Will Re-open Next Week and Will Include an Extended
By Gary Richards
The widening of one of the Bay Area's worst bottlenecks -- Interstate
880 over Brokaw Road in San Jose -- will clear a key milestone next
week, as traffic is shifted onto new lanes and the on-ramp to
northbound I-880 reopens.
The change will allow engineers to demolish two old spans and complete
work on a new bridge over Coyote Creek. Environmental rules permit
work in the creek only between May and mid-October, barely enough time
for crews to install support beams for the new bridge needed to widen
the freeway to three lanes in each direction.
``A lot of work needs to be done in the creek in a very short period
of time,'' said Jeff Funk, deputy director of highways for the Valley
Transportation Authority, adding that opening the new lanes ``is
The freeway is to be widened from Highway 101 to Montague Expressway
by late next year, unplugging a daily headache where the road narrows
to two lanes in each direction and traffic jams up virtually every day
of the week.
The $69.5 million project will also lengthen the merging lane from
Brokaw Road onto northbound I-880, improve the southbound exit onto
Brokaw and add a new exit-lane on the southbound side from Old
Bayshore Highway to North First Street.
The new bridge will be wide enough to some day handle two more lanes
of traffic -- a total of eight -- although the current work will add
only one extra lane in each direction.
``I can't wait for this to be finished,'' said Sonita Kumar, a
Fremont-to-San Jose commuter. ``The workers have been like bees;
they're out there all the time. It's good to see the progress they are
making, and I'm really glad the ramp will be available again. That's
been a big pain.''
The on-ramp was closed two months ago, forcing drivers like Kumar to
take Oakland Road north to enter the freeway at Montague Expressway or
Tasman Drive. But it enabled workers to speed up construction of the
new bridge so traffic could be moved and work begun on the old bridge.
The ramp will reopen early Thursday morning, and traffic will then
move onto new northbound lanes. Traffic will be moved onto the new
southbound lanes next weekend.
The new lanes will be narrow, less than 11 feet wide compared to the
usual 12 feet, during construction.
``Slow down,'' advised Funk of the VTA. ``Any time you're in a
construction zone, slow for the cone zone.''
CLOSING I-880 Various lanes of Interstate 880 will be closed next week
as workers prepare to open new lane of traffic near Brokaw Road
NORTHBOUND: All lanes closed 11 p.m. Wednesday to 6 a.m. Thursday from
Brkaw Road to Montague Expressway.
SOUTHBOUND: All lanes closed 11 p.m. to 6 a.m. Friday and Saturday.
re-opening: Ramp from Brokaw Road to northbound I-880 to re-open
Thursday at 6 a.m.
Valley Transportation Authority Contact Gary Richards at
mrroadshow@... or (408) 920-5335.
Published Friday, May 31, 2002, in the Contra Costa Times
Dublin's I-680 on-ramp due to debut for motorists today
Completion marks the last chunk of the I-580/680 project, which is a
year ahead of schedule and $10 million under budget
By Bonita Brewer
Contra Costa Times
OAKLAND - The final leg of the massive Interstate 580/680 interchange
improvement project will open today, when, for the first time,
motorists will get direct access from downtown Dublin to southbound
A new freeway on-ramp from Amador Plaza Road, off of Dublin Boulevard,
will open to traffic, representing the final piece of the interchange
project, which is a year ahead of schedule and $10 million under
budget for construction.
The new ramp to southbound I-680 is one of three installed in and out
of downtown Dublin as part of the project. Four new direct connectors
will smooth out traffic moving through the interchange itself.
The final Dublin ramp represents one more boost for both downtown
revitalization and for city morale, Dublin Mayor Janet Lockhart said.
"It represents a lot to our downtown business community," Lockhart
said, adding that several large businesses moved downtown largely
because of the visibility from the freeway and the access the ramps
"It's meant a lot to us economically and emotionally," Lockhart
said. "Just having our downtown designated as an area where you can
directly enter and exit has meant a lot."
Two years ago, a new freeway on-ramp opened to northbound I-680 from
downtown Dublin at Village Parkway, and a new off-ramp opened to
Amador Plaza Road.
The $116 million I-580/680 project, funded largely by Alameda County
taxpayers through the Measure B half-cent sales tax, began in July
1998. At that time, completion was forecast in 2003, or perhaps even
Final cost for construction and construction management is $75.2
million -- $10 million lower than estimated in 1998, according to
Alameda County Transportation Authority spokesman Jack Lyness. The
total interchange project cost, including for design, environmental
studies and mitigation, and acquiring right of way, is running at $116
When county voters approved Measure B sales taxes in 1986 to pay for
various transportation projects, I-580/680 interchange improvements
were estimated to cost $54 million, with $44 million coming from
Measure B. But inflation, along with higher-than-expected costs for
right-of-way and environmental studies, have driven up the bill,
Lyness said. On the other hand, Measure B brought in $95 million for
the interchange project -- far more than expected, also thanks in part
Upgrades to the interchange, the crown jewel being the new "flyover"
structure from southbound I-680 to eastbound I-580, were designed to
ease backups for commuters coming through the interchange from all
The on-ramp to southbound I-680 will be opened to traffic following a
ceremonial ribbon cutting at 1:30 p.m. today. Speakers will include
Lockhart and San Leandro Mayor Sheila Young, chairwoman of the
county's Transportation Authority.
Reach Bonita Brewer at 925-847-2120 or bbrewer@....
Published Sunday, June 2, 2002, in the San Francisco Chronicle
$100 million slated for restoration may come with hook
Phillip Matier, Andrew Ross
Environmentalists and politicians are still high-fiving over a $100
million deal to buy 16,500 acres of industrial salt ponds along San
Francisco Bay and turn them back into wetlands -- but don't expect the
party to last.
A look at the fine print shows that the deal could come with some
costly strings attached.
And it's not just the $250 million or more that may be needed to
actually convert the murky Cargill Inc. ponds into a wildlife
There's also the possibility that closing the deal will have to be
part of a "wink-wink" arrangement to go ahead with San Francisco
International Airport's controversial plans for building a pair of
runways in the bay.
As one airport insider bluntly put it: "Who else do you know around
here that has the hundreds of millions they're talking about for
restoration of the ponds?"
Save the Bay Executive Director (and ardent anti-runway advocate) Dave
Lewis told us the money for restoring the ponds could come from state
park bonds, and as far as he's concerned, there's nothing in writing
connecting this project to the runways.
"Sen. Dianne Feinstein (who helped craft the deal) says it's not
linked. Mary Nichols (the governor's resources secretary) says it's
not linked," Lewis said. "And the most important thing is the state
legislation that passed (committing $25 million to the ponds) doesn't
say anything about the airport runways."
But Assemblywoman Carole Migden, who actually carried the bill signed
by Gov. Gray Davis, says as far as she's concerned, the two projects
absolutely are linked.
"It's a trade-off," said Migden, D-San Francisco. "Anyone who is
straight will tell you the pond restoration and new runways are
linked. . . . There is no question it has to be reckoned -- there was
a wink-wink implication (of ponds for runways).
"Why would the United States of America take an old salt flat, which
happens coincidentally to be just five miles from the airport, and
choose to rehabilitate it -- if not to pave the way for the runway
expansion?" Migden asked.
"The answer is, you never would," she said. It's just that "no one but
the straight-talking Carole Migden will say it," she added.
Why do we get the feeling that a rumble is about to start?
QUESTION OF THE WEEK: "I am a BART patron and have been for some
time. I am extremely concerned about the movement to charge $2 parking
per day. What effect did the new union contracts have on BART's $28
--Tya Valli, Castro Valley
A: Good question. According to BART spokesman Mike Healy, the latest
round of labor contracts will cost BART $22.5 million this year. BART
plans to use some "one-time savings" to cut the bill to $8.5 million
-- but next year, it pops back up to $22.5 million, or more.
By the way, all those politicians who pressed BART to go with those
contracts and avoid a possible strike -- the same ones who promised to
help BART out if problems popped up down the line -- well, they're
helping out, all right.
They're urging BART directors to bite the bullet and start charging
riders for parking.
Chronicle columnists Phillip Matier and Andrew Ross appear Sundays,
Mondays and Wednesdays. They can also be heard on KGO Radio on
Mondays, Wednesdays and Thursdays. Phil Matier can be seen regularly
on KRON-TV. Got a tip? Call them at (415) 777-8815.
Published Wednesday, May 29, 2002, in the San Francisco Chronicle
Letters to the Editor
Cut BART Fares
Editor -- Regarding BART's financial woes and sharp drop in ridership,
why not try something that any business would consider plain common
sense: Lower fares. Cutting the fares on BART can only have a positive
effect on ridership and bring back many passengers, including
myself. If BART were to cut its fares, say 40 percent, or even
discount them during certain days and hours, it may provide the
incentive people are waiting for to return en masse to the system,
thus increasing revenue.
But BART managers, typical bureaucrats that they are, propose just the
opposite: raising fares and parking fees, curtailing service,
shortening trains and laying off workers -- all moves that are certain
to further reduce ridership.
The most elementary economic principle says that if you lower the
price of a product or service, you increase consumer incentive to
spend. Am I missing something or has BART management simply missed the
Published Monday, May 27, 2002, in the San Francisco Chronicle
Letters to the Editor
No Fee for Bridge Users on Foot, Bike
Editor -- A pox on the Golden Gate Bridge District staff's idea of a
possible fee for pedestrians and bicyclists using the bridge!
While a city resident in the 1970s and '80s, I used to do a 20-mile
weekly marathon training run to Sausalito and back over the
bridge. Sometimes I'd join the septuagenarian, former hod carrier Walt
Stack, a colorful personality of that era, on his 17-mile round-trip
run from the Dolphin Club. For cross- training, I'd take bicycle trips
across the bridge to various Marin County points.
It would be a shame to penalize people for their routine health
maintenance activities with such a fee. A sounder environmental policy
would be to enact the $5 fee for motorists only, to encourage
commuters to leave their gas guzzlers at home and switch to bicycles,
buses and ferries.
Published Thursday, May 30, 2002, in the Santa Rosa Press Democrat
Traffic info just 3 digits away
Bay Area will inaugurate voice-activated 511 system in state
By Cecilia M. Vega
The Press Democrat
It's Friday evening at 5:30 and Highway 101 looks more like a parking
lot than a freeway.
You dial 511 on your cellphone to find out what the holdup is.
"Traffic," you tell the voice-activated system.
A friendly voice on the other line gives the exact problem and then
lists alternate routes to avoid it.
It's traffic control in the new millennium: A $37 million travel hot
line that merges the Bay Area's traffic, weather, car pool and public
transit conditions into a three-digit, toll-free phone number.
"People dial into AM radio to get the traffic info. Every TV station
in the morning carries it. This idea of timely traffic information is
important," Metropolitan Transportation Commission spokesman Randy
For people who don't want to wait for the radio traffic report,
Rentschler said, "you can get it in a device that you can understand,
in a telephone. It's another medium."
When it is launched in the fall, 511 is expected to be a Northern
California commuter's saving grace. At the push of three buttons, road
information will be available from anywhere in the nine-county Bay
Area, 24 hours a day.
After the Federal Communications Commission designated 511 a national
traffic information number two years ago, Arizona, Kentucky, Nebraska,
Utah and Virginia created hot lines. California is the latest state to
join the list, with the Bay Area acting as the guinea-pig region. The
Sacramento area probably will follow.
The MTC, the agency that oversees transportation planning and
financing in the Bay Area, will pay $37 million over six years to
build and operate the local 511 system.
"Instead of investing those dollars into more concrete, we're forced
to invest them in making the system better," Rentschler said.
The project is coordinated by the CHP, Caltrans and the MTC. The
agencies will collect data and constantly feed it into a traffic
center in Oakland, where dispatchers will record updated traffic
information into the 511 system.
Bay Area motorists already can call 817-1717 for road conditions,
traffic and weather news. That number attracts about 40,000 calls a
month, Rentschler said.
But traffic experts predict 511 will prove more convenient to use
because it is hands-free and will have the ability to decipher various
accents and filter out background noise.
"If you are stuck in traffic for miles and you look ahead and you
can't tell what's going on, it's another tool for motorists," CHP
spokesman Wayne Ziese said. "If you're stuck in traffic and you're
headed east, you'll know by punching in the I-80 corridor how long it
will take you."
Utah traffic officials rushed to get their 511 system running in time
for the Olympics. The system was a success and provided bus schedules
and routes, directions and game information for thousands of event
In the Bay Area, where 511 has been in the planning stage for about
two years, traffic gurus say the possibilities are endless. In the
months and years to come, 511 could evolve from a phone number into a
high-tech traffic-fighting machine.
Not long after the fall debut, planners say, 511 will be available on
the Internet at <http://www.511.org>. Traffic junkies could log on, click
on an area of interest and get up-to-the-second congestion information.
Eventually, 511 will have the capacity to send e-mail and pager
alerts, warning commuters that their regular route is jammed or
letting public transportation users know that their bus will arrive at
its usual stop in 10 minutes.
Suzanne Wilford, executive director of the Sonoma County
Transportation Authority, said 511 sounds like a good idea, but she
wonders how much it will help North Bay drivers who are stuck with one
"We really don't have options, other than surface streets," she
said. "It's good information to have, I guess. But maybe you decide
not to take your trip as opposed to doing it and sitting in traffic."
You can reach Staff Writer Cecilia M. Vega at 707-521-5213 or
Published Thursday, May 30, 2002, in the San Jose Mercury News
S.J. airport to raise hourly parking rate
Security Restrictions at Gate Shorten Visits
By John Woolfolk
San Jose airport officials are raising short-term parking fees from $2
to $3 an hour to deal with new security measures that have both raised
costs and cut a key source of revenue: family and friends now barred
from greeting travelers at the gate.
Those ``meeters and greeters'' who once parked for an hour or two
while waiting for travelers or seeing them off are now leaving within
a half-hour because new security measures allow only ticketed
passengers at the gate.
San Jose airport officials have proposed raising short-term parking
rates from $1 every 30 minutes to $1 every 20 minutes, effectively
increasing the hourly parking cost by 50 percent. The daily rates of
$30 in short-term and $15 in long-term parking would remain unchanged.
The San Jose City Council is expected to approve the new rates
Tuesday. The fees would take effect in July and raise an additional
$600,000 a year.
``If they've got to raise it to keep it going, whatever they need for
security,'' said Charles Merris, 54, of Tracy, as he picked up his
father, Dick, on Wednesday.
Airport officials said the new security rules have unexpectedly
changed people's parking habits, denying them revenue they once
``The meeters and greeters are not staying at the airport,'' said
Steve Luckenbach, spokesman for Norman Y. Mineta San Jose
As a result, parking revenue at San Jose, which accounts for 46
percent of the airport's budget, has fallen 26 percent in the past
year, from $38.7 million to $28.7 million. Meanwhile, new security
requirements such as 24-hour guards at the parking lots have increased
costs more than $500,000.
The parking fee increase is the second in as many years for the San
Jose airport, but is driven by markedly different circumstances.
When airport officials last raised fees in July 2000, they hoped to
discourage business travelers who could bill parking expenses to their
companies from using the convenient short-term spaces for long-term
parking -- leaving no room for people picking up friends and
Short-term fees that summer rose from 75 cents to $1 every half
hour. But the strategy still didn't discourage business fliers,
The last parking increase before that was in 1997.
Some rates drop
San Francisco and Oakland airports also have seen parking revenues
fall, but they aren't raising rates.
Revenue has fallen 5 percent at Oakland and 10 percent at San
Francisco, but parking still costs $1 every 20 minutes in Oakland and
$1 every 15 minutes in San Francisco. San Francisco has even dropped
rates and offered additional holiday discounts, making up for the loss
through cuts in other programs.
``We're trying to get the rates where people will still use the
garage,'' said Mike McCarron, assistant deputy director at San
Francisco Airport. ``We don't want to price ourselves out of
Airports around the country are still being pinched by a slump in air
travel since the Sept. 11 terrorist hijackings that has contributed to
a decline in revenues at the same time security costs are soaring,
said Eryn Travis, spokeswoman for the American Association of Airport
Executives, which represents the nation's 429 major airports. Air
travel at San Jose was down 23 percent in April from a year ago.
In addition, security measures have forced many airports to give up
hundreds of parking spaces within 300 feet of terminals, Travis said.
But Travis and federal Transportation Security Administration
officials said the rule allowing only ticketed passengers at the gate
has not come up as a significant concern among airports nationally.
Federal officials have no plans to change the rule.
In any case, most travelers at San Jose weren't concerned about higher
``They have to pay for it some way,'' said Elsa Ferris of San Jose as
she and her husband, Lynn, walked to their car in the Terminal A
garage on Wednesday.
Grace period may end
San Jose airport officials also are proposing eliminating the
10-minute grace period at the long-term lot to discourage airport
employees from using it as a shortcut from Coleman Avenue to Airport
Boulevard. The grace period was intended to allow people who entered
the lot by mistake to leave without charge.
But airport officials say the number of free passes has risen to 600 a
day, mostly from couriers and employees of airport businesses who have
been seen speeding through the lots.
``It's a safety precaution because high speeds are being used,''
Luckenbach said. ``It's to eliminate any sort of collisions.''
Contact John Woolfolk at jwoolfolk@... or (408) 278-3410.
Published Wednesday, May 29, 2002, in the Contra Costa Times
Parking is easy if you get a spot
WHEN IT COMES TO PARKING in downtown Walnut Creek, perception splits
As you circle toward the top floor of a garage, or roam endlessly in
search of a street space, it only seems like there is never a place to
And with Andronico's luring hordes of gourmet shoppers, and the nearby
multiplex springing up with alarming speed, locals worry that the
city's parking network will crumble like aged feta.
In fact, a new study concludes there are spaces to spare, with the
Creek's one stall per 300 square feet of retail space "above average."
Still, 46 percent of parkers surveyed classify downtown parking as
"difficult," even "very difficult."
Brimming with graphs, charts and maps, the report by TJKM
Transportation Consultants details every nuance about Walnut Creek's
parking scenario. Among the fun facts:
* The city has an impressive 20,632 parking stalls.
* The Broadway Garage is woefully under-utilized.
* Occupancy peaks at 2 p.m.
That's the reality part of the picture.
For perceptions, let's head into the belly of the beast -- the parking
garage next to Andronico's at up-and-coming Plaza Escuela, lunchtime
Pulling into the structure, shoppers are greeted by two women in
orange vests, controlling traffic with the finesse of seasoned cops.
"There just isn't any parking in Walnut Creek whatsoever," says
one. "We have no choice."
The store is so parking-challenged it even has a shopping-cart valet
service. Grab a number when you enter, and when you leave, an
attendant stationed in the garage guards your groceries while you
retrieve your car, then loads 'em up for you.
No, they will not do your nails. But this cushiness reflects the
entitlement suburban parkers feel. People refuse to accept that in
growing Walnut Creek, they may no longer be able to find a space right
in front of their destinations.
Berkeley, Oakland and San Francisco kissed that notion good-bye years
"This is no longer the suburban downtown ... it's a vibrant, alive
downtown," says Councilman Gary Skrel, part of a committee studying
the parking issue.
"It's recognizing, accepting the growing pains, (that) things are a
little bit different. We need to promote that positively."
Back at Andronico's, Bill Knaus of Discovery Bay is enjoying a salad
at an outdoor table. A downtown employee, he knows the parking
"Pretty horrendous," he says. Fridays and weekends, forget about it.
Like countless others (myself included), he's been slammed with a
pretend ticket issued by Regional Parking Inc., a private company
hired by businesses to patrol their lots. This is where parking in the
Creek gets ugly.
People are so desperate, they duck into these lots, many posted with
small warning signs. Tickets instantly appear, even when the
businesses are closed.
Few of us are willing to fork over 20 bucks ($50 after 21 days) to
some bozo without so much as a badge. Especially for using empty
Complaints have swamped the city, and the council will consider
revoking those ticketing rights at its June 18 meeting.
Meanwhile Knaus has another suggestion. Something that would make
Walnut Creek's big-city transformation complete.
Brace yourself: Public restrooms.
Reach Karen Hershenson at 925-943-8252 or khershen@....
Published Monday, June 3, 2002, in the San Jose Mercury News
Upgrades promise relief for motorists
Several projects near completion
By Gary Richards
Solo drivers, carpoolers and train riders -- there's hope for
everyone just around the bend.
Nearly $2.5 billion in traffic improvements will be completed in the
next 18 months, offering relief to commuters from Santa Rosa to
Silicon Valley. Horrible highway bottlenecks will soon be unplugged,
outdated ramps replaced, new bridges opened and transit greatly
improved on the Peninsula.
The upgrades will mark the biggest expansion in nearly a decade.
Hardly a freeway will be untouched -- highways 85, 101 and 237 are
getting extra lanes or high-speed ramps. Widening of choke points on
interstates 680 and 880 is proceeding at a furious pace. New spans on
the San Mateo and Carquinez bridges are near completion.
And, for those who hate to drive down Highway 101 along the
Peninsula, BART to San Francisco International Airport is in the
"You're seeing billions of dollars and a lot of years of very hard
work coming to fruition," said Randy Iwasaki, acting head of Caltrans
operations in the Bay Area.
Not since the early 1990s, when highways 85 and 87 opened, traffic
lights were removed from Highway 237, and carpool lanes were added to
Highway 101 and I-880, have motorists witnessed so many improvements
occurring in such a short period of time.
Voters in various Bay Area counties get much of the credit, having
passed local sales taxes to raise hundreds of millions of dollars for
new roads and expanded transit. Gov. Gray Davis earmarked more than
$5 billion for traffic relief two years ago. And money funneled
through the state budget has been targeted at the most gridlocked
"Go down the list of the Top 10 most congested spots, and about
everyone has a project to address the problems," said Caltrans
spokesman Colin Jones.
Alas, there is still reason to be frustrated. Some projects were
delayed for years. Santa Clara County voters passed a sales tax in
1992 that would have widened Highway 101 north of Morgan Hill and
upgraded a half-dozen interchanges in the South Bay.
But that tax was challenged and later ruled invalid. Another measure
was passed in 1996 -- the one to uncork the bottlenecks on Highway
101 and I-880 -- but held up for nearly two years by a lawsuit later
"Some of these projects would have been delivered years ago if
the '92 tax worked out," said Eileen Goodwin, who oversaw work on
Relief on 101, 237, 580
The first of many ribbon-cutting ceremonies takes place Friday, when
the final segment of the 580-680 interchange opens -- the on-ramp
from Dublin's Amador Plaza Drive to I-680.
Then on June 17, Peninsula drivers on Highway 101 get a new
northbound merge lane in San Mateo between the Ralston and Hillsdale
But the most welcomed improvement comes in late July, when the tight,
curvy ramp from eastbound Highway 237 to northbound I-880 in Milpitas
is replaced with a high-speed direct connector.
The new interchange "surely looks like it will be nice," said Russell
Wilson of Union City, who found the old ramps so frustrating that he
opts for Tasman Drive. "Taking 237 was a nightmare."
More help is coming. This fall, the Valley Transportation Authority
takes over from Caltrans, building special carpool-only ramps that
will take commuters with at least two people in their cars from I-880
to Highway 237 without merging through lanes of solo drivers.
Help for carpoolers
Is Chris Maskiell eager for the 24-mile southbound carpool lane on I-
680 to open between highways 84 and 237, perhaps in October?
"Absolutely," said the Pleasanton commuter. The diamond lane could
shave 20 minutes off his hour-plus commute.
Commuters on Highway 101 in Santa Rosa will receive similar solace at
about the same time. Carpool lanes are being added on a five-mile
stretch between Rohnert Park and Santa Rosa, as a four-lane
bottleneck is widened to six lanes at a cost of $20 million.
On the Peninsula
A new San Mateo Bridge, and BART into San Francisco Airport by
Christmas. It doesn't get much better for Peninsula commuters.
The new east span will widen the bridge from two to three lanes in
each direction. But the shoulders being added to the road will be as
important as the extra lanes. Currently, there is no place for a car
involved in a fender bender to pull over.
"You can't overstate the safety aspects of having a shoulder," said
Caltrans' Jones. The potential traffic improvement is also huge: For
every minute a car is blocking traffic, it causes three minutes of
Workers are adding 270 feet a week to the new bridge, which will
handle westbound traffic. The old span will carry traffic eastbound.
The BART extension from Colma to Millbrae will dip into the airport,
then veer south to link with Caltrain. The $1.5 billion project is
expected to carry 70,000 passengers a day within a decade, with about
one in four heading to the airport.
"The idea of getting to SFO is a nice option," said Amanda Ruiz of
Redwood City, who occasionally rides Caltrain to San Francisco. "But
I really look forward to taking BART to downtown San Francisco and
not having to take Caltrain and then a bus to Union Square."
South Bay relief
Next year, bottlenecks on highways 87 and 101 and I-880 in Silicon
Valley will be unplugged. Up first: the widening of 101 between
Morgan Hill and South San Jose. The freeway will be widened from two
to four lanes in each direction from Cochrane Road to Highway 85, new
carpool-lane-to-carpool-lane ramps will be added at the interchange
and a ramp will be added from southbound 101 to north 85.
Traffic delays jumped nearly 300 percent between 1995 and 2000,
before easing during the recent recession. However, traffic can back
up virtually anytime.
By the fall of 2003, the I-880 bottleneck at Brokaw Road will also be
uncorked. The freeway will be widened from four to six lanes, with a
new on-ramp merging lane from Brokaw Road to northbound I-880. Under
the design, drivers will stay in their merging lane until clearing
the Brokaw Road bridge.
"That ramp has been scary," said Sam Mansfield. "You twist around the
curve, can't see freeway traffic and have no room or time to merge."
By December of 2003, traffic officials hope to partially open the new
freeway lanes on Highway 87 adjacent to the San Jose airport. The
$225 million project is the second most expensive on this list, and
will eventually feature six lanes.
More cone zones ahead
The flurry of construction won't end in the next 18 months.
• Light-rail extensions into East San Jose and Campbell will open in
2004 and 2005.
• The widening of I-880 between Mission Boulevard and Dixon Landing
Road gets started in 2004.
• Carpool lanes will be added to the entire length of Highway 87, and
the monster of all interchange projects -- rebuilding the 85-101
connection in Mountain View, a $142 million undertaking -- will be
And, of course, BART to San Jose: Construction for the biggest public
works project ever in Silicon Valley could begin in Fremont within
Contact Gary Richards at mrroadshow@... or (408) 920-5335.
Published Sunday, June 2, 2002, in the Oakland Tribune
AC Transit bus to emulate old Key System line
CITY OFFICIALS, INCLUDING MAYOR JERRY BROWN, are expected to be on
hand Thursday in Frank H. Ogawa Plaza when AC Transit rolls out a
state-of-the-art model low-emission bus, specifically dedicated to the
people of Oakland. The bus will feature the new city emblem
highlighting the sesquicentennial logo.
The new bus, designed to allow for easier passenger boarding and to
operate "cleaner," will run along the busy San Pablo Avenue corridor.
"Some 15,000 passengers use AC Transit daily along San Pablo," says
agency spokesperson Mike Mills. "This vehicle anticipates our new Bus
Rapid Transit concept -- an express-type service that replicates in
some ways the old streetcar systems."
The concept calls for attractive stations similar to rail stations of
old -- a comfortable place for passengers waiting to board, high-tech
traffic signal upgrades -- enabling the buses to travel with a minimum
number of red lights, and transit-only lanes that keep buses moving
past traffic choke points.
"There will also be improved accessibility for seniors and people with
disabilities, and proof of payment ticket validation systems that will
speed passenger boardings," says Mills.
Currently, lines 72 and 73 operate along San Pablo's 16-mile length
(one of the longest and oldest boulevards in Northern California). "We
expect the improved bus service will be a real boon to the shoppers,
students, commuters and tourists who use public transit."
Historically, AC Transit traces its roots to 1960, a year after voters
approved a $16.5 million bond measure to buy out the old Key System
transit service. The state Legislature had provided for the creation
of the publicly owned transit system (the first in the state) five
years earlier, in 1955. A seven-member board, elected by voters for
four-year terms, was established to govern the new bus system.
Longtime Oaklanders may recall the old Key System lines -- streetcars
that operated along major streets throughout the region, linking
residential neighborhoods to downtown Oakland, as well as to San
Francisco (via transbay ferries). Famed real estate tycoon Francis
Marion "Borax" Smith was the mastermind behind the creation of the Key
System in the early 1900s. Evidently the "key system" was an
affectionate nickname preferred by users to the more formal (and
official) "San Francisco, Oakland and San Jose Railway."
The formal title was never popular, and a misnomer besides, because
the railway never did extend to San Jose.
The nickname came about, say Library History Room files, because the
trestle that extended into the Bay looked like an old-fashioned key
with its three major parts: the section that fits into the lock (the
bit), the ornamental back end (called the bow) and the stem, which
connects them. The three-loop box represented the cities of Oakland,
Berkeley and Piedmont. During this era, the Key System's orange
streetcars competed with Southern Pacific's so-called red trains for
Thursday's event starts at 11:30 a.m. and is wheelchair
accessible. Refreshments will be served. For more information, contact
AC Transit, 510-891-7163.
To learn more about the historic Key System and the early days of
public transportation, take a free walking tour with the Oakland Tours
Program. The next tour of Frank H. Ogawa Plaza and City Hall starts at
10 a.m. Tuesday. Call 510-238-3234 to make a reservation.
Published Saturday, June 1, 2002, in the Oakland Tribune
Activist lawyer picked for AC board
By Donna Horowitz
Rebecca Kaplan, an Oakland activist and unsuccessful Oakland City
Council candidate, is the newest AC Transit board member.
Kaplan, 31, was chosen unanimously by the board Thursday to replace
board President Matt Williams who resigned unexpectedly last month.
She will be one of two directors at large, and will fill out the
remainder of Williams' term, which expires in November. If she wants
to remain on the board, she'll have to run for election then.
Kaplan has worked as a public interest lawyer on civil rights,
tenants, labor and environmental toxin cases. But she switched from
practicing law in the last two years to writing legislation and
lobbying for the Bay Area Transportation and Land Use Coalition, a
group that favors public transit over highway construction projects.
She left that job in December to become press secretary for Wilson
Riles Jr., who lost his bid to unseat Mayor Jerry Brown in March.
In 2000, she ran unsuccessfully for the Oakland City Council. She
previously was a volunteer campaign strategist for the state Green
She has a master's degree in urban and environmental policy from Tufts
University in Medford, Mass., and a law degree from Stanford
Not only was Kaplan chosen Thursday for the board position, she also
was sworn in and said she was excited to cast her first vote in favor
of free bus passes for low-income youth -- a program run through the
schools that will start in September.
Kaplan, a resident of the Fruitvale area who describes herself as a
regular bus rider, said she wants to have "a bus system that is
effective, that runs on time, and is a system that is sufficiently
She also likes the way she can meld her passion for furthering social
justice and environmental issues.
"In working to improve our local bus system, you simultaneously clean
the air and provide the economic opportunities to low-income people
who can't drive," Kaplan said.
And she saw the irony of accepting an appointed position when she had
previously urged the Oakland City Council to fix a hole in its charter
to require an election in case Mayor Brown left before his term
expired. But the transit district's charter required the position to
be filled by an appointment.
Kaplan, who was among four finalists, said she plans to run for the
seat in November. Other finalists were Bruce DeBenedictis of Oakland,
Clarence Fischer of Hayward and Katherine Yoshii of Albany.
Kaplan has joined a fractious seven-member board that oversees the
third largest bus system in the state with a fleet of 750 buses, 2,500
employees and 236,000 passengers a day.
The AC Transit district serves west Contra Costa County and much of
Alameda County, including Albany, Berkeley, Oakland, Alameda,
Piedmont, Everyville, San Leandro, Hayward, Fremont and Newark.
The board has been beset by bickering. The board redrew boundaries
that would have forced veteran member Alice Creason to move to run in
her current Piedmont-East Oakland-Alameda ward. She has decided not to
seek re-election in November.
Creason, a 14-year member of the board, and her supporters previously
said that the redrawing of her ward was an attempt by the board to
unseat her because of her outspoken calls for reform.
The board majority also backs the ouster of newcomer Nancy Jewell
Cross, who represents Fremont, Newark and south Hayward. Her 1998
opponent, Joe Bishofberger, has been drumming up support to run again.
Williams, who usually voted with three other members, said he was
quitting after eight years because he didn't have enough time to give
the job his full attention.
Besides joining a divided board, Kaplan also is coming at a time when
the district faces money problems. With a $245 million budget, the
district previously was facing a $30 million gap for the new fiscal
But that deficit has since been pared down to $10 million, said AC
Transit spokesman Mike Mills. No service cuts are planned because
reserves would be used.
Published Wednesday, May 29, 2002, in the Oakland Tribune
UC Berkeley to credit car poolers
Campus officials introduce incentives to curb traffic
By William Brand
BERKELEY -- University of California, Berkeley car poolers are about
to join Nobel Laureates as a privileged class. Like Berkeley's eight
living Nobel Prize winners, car pool drivers are going to receive free
parking on campus.
Well, almost free. And there are a couple of strings attached, the
First, only car pools with three or more will be eligible for free
parking. Then, there is a $36 annual fee per person. Two-person car
poolers will pay $27 monthly per person.
And unlike the Nobel Prize winners' permanent spaces, free car pool
parking only lasts until 10 a.m. Then, anyone can park in the reserved
spots, university officials said.
But the plan -- which takes effect July 1 -- is still a great deal,
and one that UC Berkeley's transportation gurus hope will reduce even
slightly the number of cars coming to campus.
The parking plan is part of a series of changes being contemplated by
the university. UC Berkeley, Alta Bates Summit Medical Center and
other large Berkeley employers are studying an "eco-pass" plan that
would give non-driving commuters steep transit discounts.
The city of Berkeley has already begun a plan for city workers on an
A coalition of university unions, backed by Assemblymember Dion
Aroner, will meet with employer representatives next month to discuss
an eco-pass, said union representative Norah Foster.
Single-driver vehicles definitely clog the university, officials say.
Senior UC Berkeley Planner Jennifer Lawrence said barely 9 percent of
the university's nearly 50,000 students, faculty and staff members
share rides to campus; 51 percent commute alone in their cars.
A permit to park on the central campus costs $1,296 a year and there's
no guarantee a parking space will be available. During an average
weekday, campus streets are often filled with frustrated drivers
looking for a place to park.
"We have 6,100 parking places and with attendants at parking lots, we
squeeze in about 1,000 more cars," says Nadesan Permaul, UC Berkeley's
director of transportation.
Berkeley's lack of parking is
unique at universities in California, Permaul said. UCLA, which has
about the same number of faculty, staff and students, has 22,000
parking places. Stanford, which is somewhat smaller than Berkeley, has
20,000 parking places. Even Harvard, in urban Cambridge, Mass., has
more parking than Berkeley, he said.
"Harvard owns a lot of residential housing around campus and a much
higher number of faculty and staff members walk to work," Permaul
Permaul blames changing demographics for Berkeley's dilemma. When the
university was built, most people either walked or rode public transit
to campus, he said.
The number of public-transit riders is still among the highest in the
nation -- 18 percent of faculty and staff members take transit, 9
percent bike to work and 8 percent walk.
But as the population spread into southern Alameda and Contra Costa
counties, more and more people relied on the automobile. "You can
still take a bus and there's BART," Permaul said.
"It's often been suggested that we build a remote parking lot and
shuttle people to campus. But you look at every report on transit in
the Bay Area and you find the two most important factors are
convenience and time.
'Moving parking lot'
"Everyone knows how long it takes to come down College Avenue (from
Rockridge BART) by bus during commute hours ... University Avenue is a
moving parking lot," he said.
Permaul said transportation planners have discovered even though
27,000 out of 30,000 UC Berkeley students received free AC Transit
fast passes this year, there has been virtually no decrease in demand
for on-campus student parking.
Permaul said he's not too worried about car-pool applicants cheating
and actually driving alone. "Parking here is so tight that if anyone
cheats in any way, we hear about it. We even get reports when the
children of faculty members, for instance, use their parent's pass,"
"Parking here is fierce."
More information on the program can be found at:
Published Saturday, May 25, 2002, in the Oakland Tribune
Fremont, Newark criticize AC Transit
By Sean R. Cabibi
Violations of AC Transit's original bus service agreement and a dismal
service record have prompted Fremont and Newark officials to seek
legal advice that could result in removing AC Transit from those
Although the cities maintain that their top priority is working with
AC Transit, the issue of deannexation from the transit district --
requiring a majority vote by residents -- will be considered if
numerous issues are not resolved, officials said.
"If AC Transit is not interested in owning up to the original
annexation agreement, I think we need to look elsewhere," Newark Mayor
Dave Smith said.
Fremont and Newark held a joint City Council meeting Wednesday night
to examine AC Transit's financial information and decide how to deal
with suspected financial violations and the lack of service in the
cities compared to the amount of money residents pay in taxes.
"We didn't just 'join' AC Transit. There were specific agreements
made," Newark City Attorney Gary Galliano said.
Part of the bus service agreement voters passed in 1974 stipulates
that revenue generated locally will be spent only on local services,
and all accounting from Fremont and Newark would be kept separate from
the rest of the transit district.
AC Transit has violated both service agreements for numerous years,
city officials said.
AC Transit officials declined to comment on the violations but did say
they want to work with the cities on a solution.
Fremont and Newark residents have paid at least $17 million more than
they have received in AC Transit services during the past 10 years,
according to a preliminary financial analysis conducted by the two
Fremont City Manager Jan Perkins said she expects that figure to
Obtaining financial information
The money, which city officials believe was used to subsidize other
areas, is the tip of an iceberg that also includes difficulty in
obtaining financial information from AC Transit.
"(AC Transit) has their books audited each year. Why can't we see
them?" Fremont Councilmember Bill Pease asked.
Concerted efforts to obtain desired financial information have been
ongoing since the mid-1990s, but have been difficult, Perkins said.
Fremont's best accountants had difficulty finding financial figures
because of the complex accounting system AC transit uses, prompting
the city to hire a former AC Transit chief financial officer to dig
out the information, Fremont Mayor Gus Morrison said.
Progress is being made in obtaining and deciphering the information,
AC Transit officials say they are not hiding anything and that
compiling the most recent numbers Fremont and Newark wants has been
complicated by a time-consuming annual budget process that AC Transit
recently completed.Routes overhauled
The transit district, however, admitted it ignored the area's needs
for a long time, which was part of the reason for overhauling routes
in December 2000, AC Transit Deputy General Manger Kathleen Kelly
The overhaul increased service by 50 percent and AC Transit is now
focusing on how better to serve suburban areas, she said.
Fremont and Newark officials also criticized AC Transit's recent
adjustments to the new routes -- determined after AC Transit conducted
a ridership survey last year. They they say the adjustments were made
without consulting city officials or riders in the area.
The two cities also decided to develop a system that would better
document residents' complaints and suggestions, and to identify a
person at AC Transit who would be the contact person for Fremont and
Published Thursday, May 30, 2002, in the Oakland Tribune
I-680 on-ramp opens one year early
Dublin to get freeway access on June 7
By Brooke Bryant
DUBLIN -- The final piece of the Interstate 580-680 interchange
project will fall into place next week, a year ahead of schedule.
The on-ramp from Dublin's Amador Plaza Drive to southbound Interstate
680 will be open to traffic June 7, said Tess Lengyel, spokeswoman for
the Alameda County Transportation Authority.
The ramp will provide the city with its first and only access to the
freeway in that direction.
The new ramp is one of three that have been installed in Dublin during
the four-year project, which was undertaken to smooth out the traffic
snarls that resulted when commuters attempted to merge from one
freeway to another.
The centerpiece of the project, a flyover that connected southbound
I-680 to eastbound I-580, opened Feb. 2.
The intersection handles about 300,000 cars a day, funneling commuters
from the Altamont Pass, San Jose, the East Bay and the peninsula to
The project was completed a year earlier than forecast, and
construction costs were $10 million below the original estimate.
The improvements cost about $116 million, funded largely by the
half-cent sales tax provided by Measure B, which voters reauthorized
At the official opening June 7, there will be a ribbon-cutting
ceremony at 1:30 p.m. and speakers featuring Janet Lockhart, mayor of
Dublin, and Shelia Young, mayor of San Leandro and chairwoman of the
Published Tuesday, June 4, 2002, in an Alameda Co. TA Press Release
Last new ramp in I-580-60 interchange opens Friday
OAKLAND, Calif. – The last traffic leg of the huge project to rebuild
and add safety and access improvements to the Interstate 580-680
interchange in Dublin and Pleasanton will open Friday.
The onramp allowing traffic to climb from Amador Plaza Drive in
Dublin onto southbound I-680 –- the city's first access to the
freeway in that direction –- will be opened to traffic after a
ceremonial ribbon cutting at 1:30 p.m. Friday (June 7.) That ramp is
one of three new ramps installed in Dublin during this project, along
with four new direct connectors for traffic moving between I-580 and
I-680, and additional freeway improvements in all directions.
The $114-million I-580-680 project, paid for largely by Alameda
County taxpayers through the Measure B half-cent sales tax, began in
July 1998. At that time, the completion date was forecast in 2003, or
perhaps even 2004. The wrap-up of the work this month means the
project was completed more than a year ahead of schedule. The
construction portion of the contract was also delivered about $10
million below the engineer's original estimates. (For more details
and a map of the project, visit
Speakers at the opening ceremony will include Dublin Mayor Janet
Lockhart and San Leandro Mayor Shelia Young, chair of the Alameda
County Transportation Authority, and Supervisor Scott Haggerty. The
ribbon will be cut at the foot of the southbound onramp on Amador
Plaza, a block south of Dublin Boulevard.
For more information about ACTA and ACTIA, please visit
Contact: Jack Lyness, e-agency Public Relations, (510) 304-2411
[Note: The opening is *this* coming Friday, June 7, 2002 -- not as
the Contra Costa Times incorrectly reported last week. -BATN]
Published Friday, May 31, 2002, in the San Francisco Business Times
Bay Area's plummeting call box use cries out for response
By Steve Heminger
Here's one for all you B-school veterans: What do you do when faced
with falling demand for a vital service?
That's precisely the situation faced by California's roadside call box
network. In the Bay Area, call box usage has fallen by over 50 percent
in the past five years, from an average of more than 17,000 calls per
month in 1997 to fewer than 8,000 calls in 2001 -- and the decline is
accelerating every year.
The main reason is cell phones. With so many Bay Area drivers now
sporting a wireless phone, fewer people need the call boxes to summon
help in case of a breakdown, accident or other emergency. But not
everyone has a cell phone. So the challenge is to simultaneously
address travelers' changing needs while making the best possible use
of the $1 fee for the call box program that motorists pay when
registering their cars.
Answering the call
To meet this challenge, the Metropolitan Transportation Commission's
Service Authority for Freeways and Expressways (SAFE) has drafted a
Five-Year Strategic and Financial Plan for the call box program. The
draft plan recommends removing one-third of the Bay Area's 3,500 call
boxes over the next three to five years, and reinvesting money that
would have been spent on maintenance into upgrading the remaining
phones from analog to digital, and improving access for disabled and
Currently, about 25 percent of the region's call boxes are set at
quarter-mile intervals. To help finance planned upgrades, the draft
plan recommends a first phase of removals that would increase this
spacing to an average of one-half mile. In some cases -- such as
inside tunnels -- closer spacing would be retained.
As call box upgrades are completed, the remaining funds would be
available for expanding other services such as the Freeway Service
Patrol fleet and the network of closed-circuit TV cameras that
provides real-time congestion information.
Given the freefall in call box usage, it would be irresponsible not to
Steve Heminger is executive director of the Metropolitan
Pubilshed Sunday, May 25, 2002, in the San Mateo County Times
Mineta warns of new attacks on County visit
Threat eclipses $75 million BART extension grant
By Justin Jouvenal
MILLBRAE -- Transportation Secretary Norman Mineta presented BART
officials with a $75 million grant Friday, but talk of a new terror
attack warning overshadowed the event.
Mineta said FBI and CIA sources alerted him to a "general, not
specific" threat to subways. He rated the danger of attack a "6 or 7"
out of 10.
"I don't think these (warnings) are to panic people, but it is just to
say be alert, take a look at what's going on around you," Mineta said.
Mineta's warnings were punctuated by heavy security at the new
Millbrae BART station. Police stood guard on top of a nearby parking
garage, on the tracks and in the station.
The Department of Transportation also warned subways, commuter rail
systems, passenger railroads and freight companies to be on heightened
alert after receiving the unconfirmed threat.
Earlier, Mineta announced a $75 million grant for the BART-San
Francisco International Airport extension. The federal government has
contributed $371 million of a promised $750 million to the project.
Tom Margro, BART's general manager, said the project was on schedule
to open at the end of the year. The $1.5 billion line will extend BART
8.7 miles south from Colma and add four stops in South San Francisco,
San Bruno, SFO and Millbrae.
The Millbrae intermodal station is the centerpiece of the
extension. Beneath a vaulted canopy, riders will be able to transfer
from BART to Caltrain. Nearby SamTrans buses will whisk riders across
Mineta said that by 2010, the extension would carry 18,000 riders a
day to the airport.
"I'm sure that people in the area are glad all those people won't be
driving," Mineta joked.
After the event, Mineta was scheduled for a closed-door meeting with
County business leaders to discuss traffic congestion and other
Wire articles contributed to this report.
Published Saturday, May 25, 2002, in the San Mateo County Times
Caltrain to get rid of smelly cars
By Justin Jouvenal
Many engineers and riders are complaining that Caltrain service stinks
A stench wafting through some loaner rail cars is so bad it's
sickening the stomachs and burning the eyes of some conductors and
engineers, one engineer said. And Caltrain riders lodged more
complaints about the smelly cars in April than any other aspect of
Caltrain officials and the engineer, Jim Barry, disagree over the
source of the stink.
Barry had a difficult time finding the right words to describe the
smell on the six cars derisively called "cows" or "hospital cars" by
"In some ways it's like a sour, old leady paint smell. Something from
an old building," Barry said. "It did something to your system."
Barry said he would get a "tingly, anxious or hyper" feeling after
breathing the air on the cars. The feeling would pass as soon as he
breathed fresh air.
He said conductors and engineers disliked the smell so much they
lodged a complaint with Amtrak officials. Barry believes the smell
might be mold or bacteria growing in the wood frame or ventilation
system of the old cars, known as Metras.
But Caltrain officials peg the smell on something else.
"We weren't alarmed because the smell is burning brakes -- it doesn't
pose a health hazard," said Chris Payne, safety officer of the rail
for Caltrain. "We thought about testing the air in cars, but the smell
would disappear after 15 to 20 seconds."
Now Caltrain had decided to pull the cars out of service by the end of
the month, pushing up the date because the smell inconvenienced
passengers, Payne said.
The Metras were replacing some of Caltrain's regular cars, which were
being overhauled. The cars have been in service for nearly 18 months
and can be distinguished by their white paint job.
"They were nobody's favorite, but we needed them," said Jayme Maltbie,
a Caltrain spokeswoman.
Maltbie said she had received 21 complaints about the Metras in April,
out of 102 complaints total. She said riders complained about the
smell as well as the noise on the cars, but no one complained of a
Barry believes Amtrak should have pressed Caltrain to do more about
"If I was Amtrak, I would have made a bigger stink about the issue,"
Published Saturday, June 1, 2002, in the San Mateo County Times
Cash-strapped SamTrans may cut back on Coast route
Bus line is major link for those without cars
By Laura Linden
HALF MOON BAY -- Budget-troubled SamTrans said Thursday it wants to
terminate weekend service on a bus route that shuttles many children,
nursery workers and elderly citizens to destinations from south of
Half Moon Bay up to Moss Beach.
SamTrans started Route 17 -- using small shuttle buses -- three years
ago after Coastside activists waged a campaign on behalf of low-income
people and others who don't have cars to navigate the semi-rural
area. Now, the SamTrans administra-
tion proposes ceasing the shuttle on weekends in light of an
anticipated $19 million budget shortfall for next fiscal year.
Weekend service on Route 17 is one of six lines around the County
proposed for elimination; another 22 routes face partial reductions in
service. The cutbacks should save the agency $2.5 million, said
SamTrans spokeswoman Jayme Maltbie.
The agency said its monetary problems are the result of declining
ridership and dropping sales tax revenues, both linked to the lagging
economy. All changes to the bus lines must be approved by SamTrans'
10-member board, which is scheduled to hold a public hearing on the
matter at 3 p.m. on June 12.
Whatever changes are approved would go into effect on Aug. 25, Maltbie
Last summer, SamTrans proposed cutting Route 15 between Pescadero and
Half Moon Bay due to low ridership, but that plan was shelved after a
SamTrans held a meeting Thursday night at Cunha Intermediate to
solicit comments from the public about its proposal. But the only
people in attendance were a marketing manager for SamTrans, a Times
reporter and Graydon Simser, who runs SamTrans busing on the coast as
a contractor for the Coastside Opportunity Center.
SamTrans has announced that Coastsiders can still make comments by
calling (800) 660-4287 or e-mailing changes03@... . Also, the
SamTrans Citizens Advisory Committee meets on Wednesday at 6:30
p.m. at SamTrans headquarters, 1250 San Carlos Ave., San Carlos.
Between roughly 8:30 a.m. and 6 p.m. on the weekends, the 17 bus makes
nine trips between the Moon Ridge housing complex on Miramontes Road
south of Half Moon Bay and Seton Medical Center Coastside in Moss
Beach. The route contains nine stops, including the Half Moon Bay
airport, the two Nurserymen's Exchange locations and the Caada Cove
mobile home park.
Simser urges SamTrans not to cut the service, contending that weekend
ridership has risen since January. In January, weekend service
averaged 48 riders a day, while in April the average was 76 people a
day. On May 18, Simser said, there was a high of 118 riders.
"We are dismayed that they're cutting it back," Simser said.
On weekends, Simser said the shuttles are relied upon by a lot of
young people and farmworkers.
"Sunday is a big day to use the bus to come into town and do
laundry. They go to church and then go to the Laundromat," said
Lt. John Quinlan of the Sheriff's Coastside Patrol.
Susan Alvaro, director of the Coastside Collaborative, whose social
services nonprofit group advocated for the establishment of Route 17
three years ago, is concerned more people will take to walking along
Highway 1 and get hurt. Alvaro said the message to SamTrans is the
same as three years ago.
"The bottom line is you have an obligation to provide us with
transportation" no matter if the service yields a profit, Alvaro
said. "It's not just people in Burlingame who live in this county."
Published Wednesday, May 29, 2002, in the Tri-Valley Herald
Letters to the Editor
BART chasing riders away
It appears the board of directors of the Bay Area Rapid Transit
District and all the other politicians wanting to cover their past
errors are headed for paid parking at all BART stations. This is the
wrong way to go.
The politicos seem to have forgotten BART's purpose is to get people
out of their cars and onto BART. By charging for parking, they will
have persuaded many people not to take BART in the first place. It's
called "unintended consequences." Thus ridership will be further
reduced and increased income estimates will be grossly in error.
And, BART will need to hire staff to patrol the lots to be sure the
money comes in. And those who don't pay will have their cars towed, a
bonanza for the towing companies and more aggravation to shoo riders
BART has been guilty of building inadequate parking lots from the
beginning. This fact has only aggravated the situation.
John F. Kelly Jr.
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