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Lavish opening of new SFO international terminal

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  • 11/29 San Jose Mercury News
    Published Wednesday, November 29, 2000, in the San Jose Mercury News S.F. Airport celebrating opening By Aaron Davis Mercury News The new international
    Message 1 of 18 , Nov 30, 2000
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      Published Wednesday, November 29, 2000, in the San Jose Mercury News

      S.F. Airport celebrating opening

      By Aaron Davis
      Mercury News

      The new international terminal at San Francisco International Airport is
      party central through the weekend as officials stage gala events to
      introduce the $1 billion centerpiece of a decadelong airport improvement
      project.

      At a lavish black-tie soiree Tuesday night, San Francisco Mayor Willie
      Brown headed a parade of elected officials and local bigwigs who packed
      the terminal's main hall to dine on filet mignon and to dance.

      Also in attendance were hundreds of corporate executives whose companies
      helped finance the week's festivities, which cost an estimated $1 million.
      Among the top contributors is United Airlines, which operates 55 percent
      of the airport's daily flights.

      Tuesday's gala was the first of three major parties ushering in full-scale
      use of the new terminal by Dec. 10.

      A party for airport employees is scheduled Thursday, and a huge street
      fair open to the public is scheduled Sunday. The airport has already sold
      48,000 of the 50,000 available tickets.

      While Brown has made it clear that he's proud of the new terminal -- the
      largest international terminal in North America -- he was adamant that San
      Francisco's airport will need to expand its runway system into the bay to
      maintain its status as a major player in the region's economy.

      In 1999, passengers at the airport lost 3.2 million hours because of fog
      and other airport delays, according to a report released earlier this
      month by the Bay Area Economic Forum, which is funded by the Association
      of Bay Area Governments and the Bay Area Council.

      If San Francisco and Oakland airports do not expand runway capacity by
      2010, approximately 5.2 million passengers may be blocked annually from
      entering the Bay Area at their desired times. Economically, that
      congestion could translate into 92,000 lost jobs, nearly $7.5 billion in
      lost business revenue and nearly $570 million in lost state and local
      taxes, the forum concluded.

      Before the party began Tuesday, Airport Director John Martin outlined the
      schedule for moving airlines into the new terminal. On Dec. 5, the first
      major batch of international flights will roll out of the new terminal.
      After that, new flights will be added each day through Dec. 10, when all
      international flights will depart from the new terminal.

      Officials had originally planned the transition from the old to the new
      terminal for mid-September, but telecommunication glitches that could have
      sent planes to the wrong gates and misdirect luggage forced a three-month
      delay.

      Throughout the fall, the airport used a handful of daily chartered flights
      to test the terminal's computer systems. Martin said he's confident the
      terminal has been properly tested and that all the major bugs have been
      found and fixed.

      Still, switching international terminals could prove chaotic for
      passengers during the transition week. The airport will have to switch
      road signs each night to direct passengers to the correct
      ``international'' terminal as flights will be split between the existing
      terminal and the new one.


      Contact Aaron Davis at acdavis@... or call (650) 688-7590.
    • 11/30 San Jose Mercury News
      Published Thursday, November 30, 2000, in the San Jose Mercury News Buy-in to join BART is asked Santa Clara County should pay some type of a financial buy-in
      Message 2 of 18 , Nov 30, 2000
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        Published Thursday, November 30, 2000, in the San Jose Mercury News

        Buy-in to join BART is asked

        Santa Clara County should pay some type of a financial buy-in because it
        will take advantage of the existing BART system, legislators say.

        By Matthai Chakko Kuruvila
        Mercury News

        Santa Clara County will pay a buy-in fee to join the BART system, but the
        question is how much and in what form, according to state Sen. Liz
        Figueroa.

        At a transportation-oriented town hall meeting Wednesday in Fremont,
        Figueroa, D-Fremont, said she had persuaded other state legislators to
        approve funding for the extension to San Jose in the spring on the
        condition that Santa Clara County pay some form of a buy-in fee.

        ``It's not a low amount,'' Figueroa said. ``It's going to be a high
        amount, but it's going to be realistic.''

        Officials in Santa Clara County, however, say the issue is far from
        resolved.

        The subject of a buy-in is the latest challenge in the continuing effort
        to bring the Bay Area Rapid Transit District's system to San Jose. Despite
        the $6.5 billion that Santa Clara County voters approved Nov. 7 as a
        30-year, half-cent transportation sales tax to pay for BART, some East Bay
        legislators have insisted that Santa Clara County pay a buy-in fee.

        In September, the Legislature defeated a bill by Assemblyman Tom
        Torlakson, D-Martinez, that would have required the fee and mandated BART
        extensions to Antioch and Livermore be built before the extension to San
        Jose. Opponents said Torlakson's bill was legislating the fee rather than
        allowing BART and local bodies to work it out.

        A spokesman for San Jose Mayor Ron Gonzales said that how a buy-in fee
        would be characterized and calculated has yet to be determined.

        David Vossbrink, the mayor's communications director, said the fee would
        factor in how the extension to San Jose would add to the value of the
        entire system.

        ``It should be considered an enhancement to the system,'' Vossbrink said.
        ``East Bay commuters would be able to take advantage of BART.''

        Vossbrink said that rather than a formalized fee, the county might assume
        infrastructure costs that BART might pay otherwise. The Valley
        Transportation Authority and the BART board will decide on specifics in
        the coming months.

        ``The mayor has said all along how everyone can find a benefit through
        this in broad, creative ways,'' Vossbrink said.

        He also said the $760 million the project received from the state would
        not have come to pass were it not for Gonzales, so those funds should be
        considered in fee negotiations. Torlakson argued that because residents of
        Contra Costa and Alameda counties have paid sales taxes for BART for many
        years, they should benefit first.

        Fremont City Councilwoman Judy Zlatnik, who also criticized Torlakson's
        bill, said Fremont residents have long paid BART taxes but haven't
        received a second BART station with an extension to Warm Springs.

        Figueroa also added that there might be transportation alternatives for
        Antioch and Livermore residents but there was no question that BART to San
        Jose would serve the most people.

        ``There's absolutely no way your needs can measure to ours,'' Figueroa
        said. ``We're willing to pay our part of it . . . but in terms of moving
        people, our needs come first.''

        Contact Matthai Chakko Kuruvila at mkuruvila@... or (510)
        790-7316.
      • 11/30 San Jose Mercury News
        Published Thursday, November 30, 2000, in the San Jose Mercury News FasTrak gets slow start on Bay Bridge Delays on opening day: morning commuters scrambled to
        Message 3 of 18 , Nov 30, 2000
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          Published Thursday, November 30, 2000, in the San Jose Mercury News

          FasTrak gets slow start on Bay Bridge

          Delays on opening day: morning commuters scrambled to get in and out of
          designated lane for the electronic toll system.

          By Putsata Reang
          Mercury News

          Despite its name, FasTrak didn't shave any time off the morning commute
          for hundreds of drivers who used the electronic toll system on its opening
          day Wednesday on the Bay Bridge.

          Instead, the new system created more delays as commuters scrambled to
          switch into the designated FasTrak lane.

          ``It was a tough merge for the 880 traffic and 580 traffic,'' said Colin
          Jones, Caltrans spokesman. ``But all in all, it went pretty smoothly.''

          About 700 commuters Wednesday morning tested out the system on the Bay
          Bridge, which became the fifth Bay Area bridge to offer the program. The
          one FasTrak lane in operation averaged about 300 cars per hour, compared
          with 400 cars per hour in the 18 stop-and-pay lanes, which Caltrans
          officials called a ``limited success.''

          FasTrak is an electronic toll collection system in which drivers place a
          transponder device, about the size of a keycard, on their windshields. The
          system automatically deducts a discounted toll of $1.85 per trip (15 cents
          off the regular $2 toll) from the driver's pre-paid account.

          But beyond the convenience of being able to get through the tolls without
          stopping to search for $2 in cash, FasTrak doesn't offer much else in
          incentives. FasTrak users must still stop at the metering lights once they
          pass through the toll plaza. Jones said that won't change because Caltrans
          wants to reserve that benefit for carpoolers, who can drive through either
          of two carpool lanes on each side of the plaza without paying the toll or
          stopping for the metering lights.

          ``It's a terrific convenience, and a little bit of time saving,'' said
          Elizabeth Deakin, director of the Transportation Institute at the
          University of California-Berkeley.

          Ann Lehman, who occasionally commutes over the Bay Bridge with her
          husband, Bob Zimmerman, recently applied for a FasTrak transponder.
          Although they mostly commute by BART, they hope FasTrak will save them
          time driving into San Francisco on the weekends when the carpools lanes
          are closed.

          ``I'm hoping it's a bigger deal on the weekends,'' Lehman said. ``The Bay
          Bridge is horrendous on Saturday nights.''

          Despite its questionable efficiency, the program is gaining popularity.
          About 400 people sign up each day, with some 37,000 FasTrak users around
          the region, Jones said.

          Caltrans officials expected the delays on the first day as some drivers
          tried to back out of lane No. 11, which becomes a FasTrak lane 500 feet in
          front the toll booth. Other motorists had a hard time accessing the
          awkward location of the FasTrak lane -- in the middle of the toll plaza.

          But Jones said there are no plans to move FasTrak to either the right or
          left lanes because cars coming off three highways -- interstates 880, 980
          and 580 -- would then have to jump several lanes to reach the FasTrak
          lane.

          Although Jones said FasTrak probably won't cut commute times for morning
          Bay Bridge users, it will save a few minutes in the afternoon and evening
          when the other toll lanes are backed up.

          Currently, lane No. 11 will only take FasTrak users, and lane No. 12, a
          multi-use lane, will handle both stop-and-pay and FasTrak customers. By
          the end of December, Caltrans plans to offer a third lane with FasTrak
          capabilities, lane No. 20.

          By the end of 2001, FasTrak technology is expected to be installed in each
          lane of all Bay Area toll bridges, Jones said.


          Contact Putsata Reang at preang@... or (415) 434-1024.
        • 11/30 San Jose Mercury News
          Published Thursday, November 30, 2000, in the San Jose Mercury News No reason for cyclists to die on city streets By L.A. Chung Mercury News Staff Columnist If
          Message 4 of 18 , Nov 30, 2000
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            Published Thursday, November 30, 2000, in the San Jose Mercury News

            No reason for cyclists to die on city streets

            By L.A. Chung
            Mercury News Staff Columnist

            If there is any comfort that Lauren Robertson can take, it might be that
            her big brother Chris died doing what he loved, surrounded by friends.

            But I doubt she feels much comfort at all. Not for the world would anyone
            want her brother to go that way, that night, that occasion. It was too
            senseless. Too unnecessary.

            He was, after all, only 30. And he still had scripts he wanted to write.

            Chris Robertson died after being run over by a big rig Nov. 17 on Fourth
            Street, not far from the new ballpark and the Caltrain station. He was
            part of a large group of cyclists traveling in a bunch in the roadway as
            they returned from a funeral. Early on, published reports speculated it
            was a case of road rage. Cyclists physically restrained the driver of the
            truck from leaving the scene.

            Chris Robertson's considerable circle of friends -- bike messengers,
            recreational cyclists, bicycle commuters, customers of Rainbow Grocery
            where he worked -- have been trying to make sure that his death is not
            chalked up as just another unfortunate ``accident'' in the war between
            cars and anything smaller and slower -- like bikers and pedestrians.

            In this city, tensions between bicyclists and drivers in a hurry have been
            ever-present since the Critical Mass bicycle movement began taking up city
            streets a day each month during rush hour. Plenty of tempers flare when
            masses of cars are blocked at 5 p.m. on Market Street, but this particular
            ride was no muscle flex of pedal power, no act of protest. It was a
            funeral procession of cyclists at night, in a lightly traveled part of
            town that is an in-between land between Potrero Hill and the bustling part
            of the South of Market district.

            The police report remains, strangely, lost in the system, but the sketchy
            police version is that Reuben Espinoza, the driver of tractor-trailer,
            apparently became annoyed that the procession of some 40 cyclists had
            ``taken the lane,'' as it's called in public safety parlance, and threw a
            block of wood at them. Words were exchanged. And in the end, Chris
            Robertson had been run over.

            ``How stupid can you be to put your 150-pound body in front of a
            tractor-trailer?'' Lauren Robertson asked, the day after she and her
            parents had returned to New Orleans from her brother's funeral in San
            Francisco.

            She is sure that the answer is that he wasn't, and he didn't.

            ``We will never, ever know that driver's intent. But I know Chris was a
            very safe bicyclist, and he wasn't stupid.''

            This column isn't about intent right now. That's up to the district
            attorney's office and the police to determine, now that they're acting
            with some alacrity.

            It's about stopping this madness.

            District Attorney Terence Hallinan has a chance to step up and be a
            leader. He can do his job with the investigation, and he can do what DA
            Paula Kamena did in Marin after two cyclists were killed by cars last
            year: start a bike-car safety task force with law enforcement and cyclists
            and endorse its educational efforts.

            Kamena's been meeting with the group once a month since last winter. And
            you can see the difference.

            Marin's Share the Road campaign began last June and has turned into a
            full-blown campaign in its six short months. All the major police
            departments, the California Highway Patrol, the Marin County Sheriff's
            Department and the district attorney's office support the campaign. Signs
            saying ``Share the Road,'' indicating a bicycle and a car, have gone up in
            23 locations in the county.

            ``When you're out there bicycling on the road every day, there's a general
            mood out there,'' said Debbie Hubsmith, executive director of the Marin
            Bicycle Coalition. ``In general, people have been more respectful.''

            And what's that? Drivers need to understand -- really understand -- that
            bicyclers are legally on our streets whether it's convenient for cars or
            not. (Please see page 48 of this year's California Driver Handbook; it's
            the same laws for bikes and cars, and they've been on the books all these
            years.) And cyclists need to assert their rights in a fashion that's not
            confrontational.

            The bottom line is that I've never known the car driver to come out dead
            in a car-vs.-bike collision.

            We could be talking about this anywhere you find bikes and cars on the
            same roadway -- Santa Cruz, Fremont, Palo Alto, Berkeley -- but this
            happens to be San Francisco, thank God.

            Because it's an activist community. And that's what you need right now.

            Enforcing safety rules

            Hubsmith said the Marin County bicycle coalition had been working on a
            Share the Road effort, but it only took off because Malcolm Foster, a
            friend of Cecy Krone, one of the dead cyclists, turned it into a real
            campaign with bumper stickers, water bottles, and road signs under an
            ``adopt-a-sign'' program.

            The Marin program hinges on courtesy, cooperation and safety. But it also
            contains some teeth: enforcement.

            `Accidents' are avoidable

            ``One of the most important aspects of the `Share the Road' Program,' ''
            Hubsmith wrote in a letter faxed to Hallinan on Wednesday requesting a
            full investigation and prosecution in Chris Robertson's case, ``is the
            knowledge that law enforcement agencies in Marin will uphold bicyclists'
            and pedestrians' rights to our public roadways and they will prosecute
            when drivers are negligent or intentionally harass bicyclists and
            pedestrians.''

            Lauren Robertson just wants to see appropriate charges brought against the
            driver who ran over her brother. It won't change the fact that her brother
            is gone, but it may help change the tone in this city that these
            ``accidents'' are unavoidable and acceptable.

            ``Nothing that happens to this man is going to bring him back,'' she said.
            ``But my brother isn't the first and he won't be the last killed in this
            manner.''


            See www.sharetheroad.cc for details of its driver-cyclist awareness
            program.


            L.A. Chung appears Tuesdays and Thursdays and wants you to share your
            stories with her. Contact her at lchung@... or (415) 394-6881.
          • San Francisco Chronicle
            Published Thursday, November 30, 2000, in the San Francisco Chronicle Feared Traffic Nightmare Fails to Materialize Michael Cabanatuan, Suzanne Herel,
            Message 5 of 18 , Nov 30, 2000
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              Published Thursday, November 30, 2000, in the San Francisco Chronicle

              Feared Traffic Nightmare Fails to Materialize

              Michael Cabanatuan, Suzanne Herel, Chronicle Staff Writers

              Caltrans says its long-awaited electronic toll-collection system worked
              well on its debut day at the Bay Bridge, even though commuters who used
              FasTrak to roll through the toll plaza saved little or no time.

              "Things went very well for the first day," Colin Jones, spokesman for the
              state Department of Transportation, said yesterday. "Nobody was backing up
              or stopping or changing lanes to get in or out of the FasTrak lane."

              With rain combining with FasTrak's introduction on the region's busiest
              span, many commuters and transportation officials feared an ugly morning.
              Much to everyone's relief, the feared monumental traffic jam never
              materialized.

              "It looked like a pretty typical day out there," Jones said.

              Toll Sgt. Marian Lamier switched on the FasTrak system with a tap of her
              computer keyboard at 4:59 a.m. During the first two hours of operation,
              330 vehicles passed through Lane 11 -- the unstaffed, dedicated FasTrak
              lane.

              "That's pretty good considering that a normal toll lane can only handle
              about 400 commuters in an hour," Jones said.

              The number of FasTrak users dropped to about 250 between 7 and 8 a.m.,
              then to about 150 the following hour before rebounding to about 280
              between 9 and 10 a.m. Jones said the number of users was greater than
              Caltrans expected.

              FasTrak allows commuters with a battery-powered plastic transponder the
              size of an ink pad on their windshields to pay their tolls without
              stopping. In addition to the dedicated lane, Lane 12 has been set aside as
              a mixed-use lane for FasTrak cars and motorists paying cash or tickets.

              Electronic toll-payers still have to stop and wait for the metering lights
              to turn green, however. Only carpools and buses are allowed a free ride
              through the lights.

              "FasTrak hasn't been billed as a commuter panacea," Jones said. But in
              off- hours, when traffic across the bridge is lighter, he said, FasTrak
              users should sail through the toll plaza and onto the bridge.

              Bay Bridge commuters get a 15-cent discount on each toll for using
              FasTrak, a perk guaranteed for at least a year.

              FasTrak is already in use at the Golden Gate, Carquinez, Benicia-Martinez
              and Richmond-San Rafael bridges. The Dumbarton, San Mateo-Hayward and
              Antioch bridges are scheduled to get FasTrak by the end of the year.

              Also in that time, Caltrans plans to erect another mixed-use FasTrak lane
              in the far right of the Bay Bridge toll plaza to accommodate traffic from
              Interstate 880. It is virtually impossible for those commuters to get to
              the FasTrak lanes that opened yesterday.

              E-mail Michael Cabanatuan at mcabanatuan@..., and Suzanne
              Herel at sherel@....
            • 11/30 San Francisco Chronicle
              Published Thursday, November 30, 2000, in the San Francisco Chronicle County May Yet Have Runway Say Authority comes from section of state code Mark Simon
              Message 6 of 18 , Nov 30, 2000
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                Published Thursday, November 30, 2000, in the San Francisco Chronicle

                County May Yet Have Runway Say
                Authority comes from section of state code

                Mark Simon

                Those runways San Francisco International Airport is hungry to build on
                the bay might have to go through San Mateo County for approval.

                This is an astonishingly delightful piece of news for those of us who have
                long resented the way San Francisco is allowed to do what it wants in San
                Mateo County.

                A little-known section of the state Public Utilities Code governing
                airports requires San Mateo County's approval of any plan by SFO to
                acquire new land for expansion, according to a legal interpretation by San
                Mateo County's attorneys.

                In virtually every other instance, a city or a county can do what it wants
                with land it owns in another city or county.

                That's why San Francisco can rebuild its jail near San Bruno or add a new
                international terminal at SFO and never seek approval of San Mateo County
                or any other local government. It worked the same way when San Mateo
                County wanted to build a new jail in Redwood City -- the city complained
                and the county went ahead and did what it wanted.

                But the airport is different, and it provides the first opportunity San
                Mateo County has ever had to have some say in what happens at SFO.

                The section of the Public Utilities Code specifies that if an airport is
                located in another government's jurisdiction, and that airport acquires
                land for expansion, the expansion plans must be submitted to the local
                government for approval.

                "This is a watershed moment when we can claim the citizens of San Mateo
                County are going to have a voice in what happens at the airport," said a
                clearly intrigued Rich Gordon, president of the San Mateo County Board of
                Supervisors.

                "At one point, most of us assumed we weren't part of the road map of this
                project and now we think we are. We can assert that we have a planning
                right," he said.

                San Mateo County officials have been weaving their way through the
                legalities of the expansion approval -- ever since a meeting with SFO
                officials when a San Francisco deputy city attorney brought the matter up.

                "SFO is well aware of this issue," said Kandace Bender, spokeswoman for
                the San Francisco Airfield Development Bureau, the team of top-level
                staffers Mayor Willie Brown has put together to push through the runway
                project.

                "In fact, airport and San Mateo County officials have been involved in
                healthy and constructive dialogue for nearly a year about precisely what
                might be required and what is the proper process," she said. "Those
                discussions are ongoing, and because they're ongoing it's really not
                appropriate to elaborate in any detail about the discussions."

                The crucial issue is what is meant by acquisition of land, a condition
                that would trigger local approval of expansion plans.

                SFO doesn't own the land where it wants to put the runways.

                That property is owned by the state and is under the jurisdiction of the
                State Lands Commission, which oversees all lands beneath public waters,
                such as the bay.

                The Lands Commission can't sell the land, but it can lease it or make a
                gift of it.

                Lease or gift, San Mateo County officials would argue that either one is
                an acquisition of land by SFO and subject to the local approval
                requirements.

                San Mateo County Counsel Tom Casey, at the direction of the supervisors,
                is drafting a letter to the state attorney general's office seeking
                affirmation that the county is interpreting the law correctly.

                Early indications from officials at the Bay Conservation and Development
                Commission is that the county is right.

                For any other kind of development by one county within another, there is a
                requirement that project plans be submitted to the local government.

                But there's no requirement the local government's objections be heeded.

                "We get beat up a lot for not standing up to San Francisco. A lot of
                times, we don't have the ability to take them on," said Gordon.

                In fact, the pro forma submission of plans is something San Francisco has
                largely ignored, Gordon said.

                Earlier this year in a meeting with SFO officials, Gordon and Casey
                assumed they were paying a courtesy call that would have little bearing on
                the runway project, despite the fact that it would cut into the bay in the
                heart of San Mateo County.

                Instead, they were told the county may be a major stop along the way to
                approval.

                And, unexpectedly, the supervisors will have to formulate a position on
                the runways.

                "I'm aware that the airport has an incredible impact on the economy of
                this county and the region," Gordon said. "So, the economic pressures for
                new runways are going to be very, very strong.

                "At the same time, I have grave concerns about the health of the bay. So,
                I, for one, am going to need to see that the project that's proposed
                benefits the economy without destroying the environment," he said.

                Simon can be seen 7:30 p.m. Fridays on The Chronicle's "Peninsula This
                Week" on cable Channel 26, and at other times on local access channels.
                You can reach him at (650) 299-8071, by fax at (650) 299-9208, or by
                e-mail at msimon@....
              • 11/29 Alameda Newspaper Group
                Published Wedneday, November 29, 2000, by the Alameda Newspaper Group Caltrans chief supports BART development Focus expanding business at hubs From Staff
                Message 7 of 18 , Nov 30, 2000
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                  Published Wedneday, November 29, 2000, by the Alameda Newspaper Group

                  Caltrans chief supports BART development
                  Focus expanding business at hubs

                  From Staff Reports

                  OAKLAND -- BART on Tuesday reaffirmed its growing commitment to building
                  transit villages around its stations and got a boost from the state's top
                  transportation official.

                  At a BART forum entitled: "How Will Our Future Develop?" developers,
                  academics and regulators bandied around the usual buzzwords --
                  transit-oriented development and smart growth. They explained the hurdles
                  to concentrating apartments, shops and offices around train stations.
                  Topping the list: a labyrinth of regulation, economics and political
                  opposition from neighbors.

                  But BART has found a powerful ally in Caltrans Director Jeff Morales.

                  He indicated that the state agency is driving in the same direction as he
                  announced new initiatives to promote urban redevelopment around transit
                  hubs. Caltrans has:

                  Established an Office of Community Planning to help cities map out
                  developments that don't add freeway gridlock;

                  Launched a one-year study of successful transit developments around the
                  country; and

                  Offered state grants to California cities to plan them.

                  "When the average commute is 60 miles you have to wonder if transportation
                  is really the problem," Morales said, citing a sobering statistic about
                  commuters over the Altamont Pass. He said transportation problems are
                  symptoms of unwise development.

                  BART Spokesman Mike Healy could not remember the last time a Caltrans
                  director participated in a BART hearing, but agreed that it was
                  significant.

                  Caltrans has historically been labeled by its critics as a
                  highway-building agency.

                  "It's a recognition by a state agency like Caltrans of how important the
                  issue is," Healy said.
                • 12/1 San Jose Mercury News
                  Published Friday, December 1, 2000, in the San Jose Mercury News Commuting costs rank low Bay Area among cheapest metropolitan regions in U.S. based on
                  Message 8 of 18 , Dec 1, 2000
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                    Published Friday, December 1, 2000, in the San Jose Mercury News

                    Commuting costs rank low

                    Bay Area among cheapest metropolitan regions in U.S. based on households'
                    annual transportation expenses

                    In a study of 28 areas in the United States, 23 posted worse
                    transportation costs than the Bay Area, where households spend 15 cents
                    per dollar on getting around.

                    By Gary Richards
                    Mercury News

                    Bay Area motorists howl about paying the highest gas prices in the country
                    and commuting on some of the most congested roads nationwide.

                    But maybe we're not that bad off.

                    The Bay Area ranks among the cheapest regions when annual transportation
                    costs per household are calculated -- 24th-worst out of 28 metropolitan
                    areas, according to a study released Thursday.

                    The average Bay Area household devotes 15 cents of every dollar it spends
                    for getting around town and to work. By comparison, the most expensive
                    region is Houston, where transportation costs soaked up 22 cents of every
                    dollar spent. The nationwide average is 18 cents.

                    ``It could be worse -- that's for sure,'' said James Corless, California
                    director of the Surface Transportation Policy Project, which conducted the
                    study.

                    Nationwide, driving costs rank just behind housing in the family budget --
                    more than those of health, schools and utilities combined. That's true in
                    the Bay Area as well, where costs for housing (22 percent) are followed by
                    transportation (15 percent), food (13 percent) and insurance (11 percent).

                    The non-profit transportation group advocates more transit and
                    pedestrian-friendly streets. It contends that motorists aren't always
                    aware of the costs of driving.

                    ``It's there, and I sometimes think about it,'' said Dennis Norton, 52, a
                    Capitola-to-Santa Clara commuter. ``But I resign myself to putting 20,000
                    to 25,000 miles a year on my auto. I consider that a part of life right
                    now.''

                    Houston motorists pay nearly $8,900 a year for transportation, while Bay
                    Area motorists pay $7,150 a year for driving or taking the train. The
                    national average is around $6,400, according to the report. The study
                    factors in everyday costs of living, such as housing and health care, plus
                    income levels and transit options. High salaries in the Bay Area, combined
                    with transit options, helped lower the cost of getting around.

                    Transit now rings the Bay Area, with expansion planned for BART, Caltrain,
                    light rail and trains over the Altamont Pass. By comparison, Houston
                    residents have essentially one way to travel: the highway.

                    And though gas prices and insurance costs often enrage motorists in the
                    Bay Area, the study concludes that these had little effect on overall
                    transportation expenses. Three-quarters of all transportation bills stem
                    from the price of a car and the interest on a loan, regardless of how much
                    you drive the vehicle.

                    Other conclusions:

                    Los Angeles and Southern California ranked 15th on the list, with each
                    household spending $7,224 for transportation or slightly more than 17
                    percent of a year's bills.

                    Drivers in Houston average nearly 39 miles a day; those in Atlanta, the
                    second most expensive place to drive, 36. Motorists in the South Bay
                    average less than 25 miles a day.

                    About 98 cents of every dollar for personal transportation went toward
                    cars.

                    People who live in sprawling areas 30 or more miles from work spent $1,300
                    more a year on transportation.

                    Living downtown near transit and using it is a money-saver. Living near
                    Powell Street in San Francisco, a household could save more than $6,800 in
                    annual transportation costs by taking the train. Near a BART station in
                    Oakland, over $5,000 a year. Near First Street in San Jose, nearly $3,600
                    a year.

                    These costs and potential savings, said Corless, are items that many
                    motorists fail to take into consideration when choosing where to live.

                    ``When you pay to take transit, you pay up front,'' he said. ``When you
                    get into the car, you may not remember how much the car loan, insurance
                    and maintenance is costing.''

                    It's not something that worries Norton, the Capitola resident who every
                    weekday climbs out of bed early to make his commute over the Santa Cruz
                    Mountains and into Silicon Valley. He's looked for jobs closer to home,
                    but the salaries aren't comparable. He figures the two-bedroom condo he
                    bought in Capitola for around $132,000 12 years ago would cost him
                    $300,000 or ``plenty more'' in Silicon Valley.

                    There's another factor.

                    ``I'm two blocks from the beach,'' said Norton, a buyer for Network
                    Associates' international program. ``That's tough to get in San Jose.''


                    Contact Gary Richards at mrroadshow@... or (408) 920-5335.




                    HOUSTON vs. BAY AREA

                    Transportation costs are highest in Houston, soaking up 22 percent of a
                    family's annual bills compared with 15 percent in the Bay Area. Here is a
                    look at costs of living in the two regions.

                    HOUSTON BAY AREA
                    Category Cost/year % Cost/year %
                    Transport $8,840 22.1% $7,150 15.1%
                    Shelter $6,536 16.3% $10,467 22.1%
                    Food $4,906 12.3% $6,377 13.4%
                    Insurance $4,190 10.5% $5,132 10.8%
                    Other household $2,894 7.2% $3,309 7.0%
                    Utilities $2,802 7.0% $2,276 4.8%
                    Entertain $1,804 4.5% $2,316 4.9%
                    Clothing $1,878 4.7% $1,995 4.2%
                    Education $ 642 1.6% $1,076 2.3%
                    Misc. $3,312 8.3% $4,974 10.5%

                    Source: Surface Transportation Policy Project
                  • 12/1 San Jose Mercury News
                    Published Friday, December 1, 2000, in the San Jose Mercury News Judges leave Vacaville to stew in its own foul air Court rejects claim that S.F. is to blame
                    Message 9 of 18 , Dec 1, 2000
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                      Published Friday, December 1, 2000, in the San Jose Mercury News

                      Judges leave Vacaville to stew in its own foul air
                      Court rejects claim that S.F. is to blame for polluting suburb

                      By Dan Reed
                      Mercury News

                      Oh sure, Vacaville, blame San Francisco.

                      The city by the bay may be a lot of things: a place where an Assembly
                      candidate can campaign in a butterfly outfit. A place where a discarded
                      refrigerator carton can rent as a smallish home for $1,500 a month -- OK,
                      that one may not be true; well, at least we don't think so.

                      But San Francisco as a polluter of the backwater northern 'burb of
                      Vacaville? Even top judges rejected that, at least in their own legalistic
                      way.

                      Town blames city

                      In a decision mailed to the town last week, the state Supreme Court said
                      it has refused to hear a lawsuit that claims Vacaville should not be
                      penalized for failing to meet stricter-than-usual vehicle emissions
                      standards, even if its foul air, as the city claims, supposedly drifted in
                      from San Francisco and its environs.

                      The rigid standards were imposed because Vacaville was among the
                      Sacramento basin towns that logged higher-than-allowed levels of air
                      pollution.

                      At a city council meeting Tuesday, Mayor David Fleming said he might ask
                      the Legislature to exempt Vacaville from the more stringent standards.

                      Once before, the city obtained a bill that would exempt it, said city
                      attorney Charles Lamoree, but then-Gov. Pete Wilson vetoed the measure,
                      arguing that an exception for Vacaville might jeopardize the city's
                      standing under federal clean air laws.

                      Asked why Vacaville is trying to pick on San Francisco, Lamoree said:
                      ``You're the one causing all the problems for us.''

                      He and others in this ``cow'' town -- vaca is Spanish for cow -- figure
                      the concentrated population of the Bay Area is producing dirty air that
                      floats up to their city, unfairly making them pollution outlaws. Once it
                      was lumped in with the other smelly little towns of the Sacramento basin,
                      Vacaville sued the state and the Bureau of Automotive Repair, which
                      carries out California's smog program.

                      It lost at Superior Court, lost at the appeals level, and now has been
                      rejected by the state Supreme Court.

                      ``We're done,'' Lamoree said Thursday.

                      A phone call to the state Attorney General's Office, which defended the
                      state in the Vacaville suit, was not returned Thursday.

                      While the state Supreme Court made no comment in turning down Vacaville's
                      appeal, the appeals court earlier noted, in effect, that the state can
                      designate blanket areas of non-attainment to minimal smog levels while not
                      breaking them down by city.

                      Can't sue as car owners

                      It also seemed to say the city could not sue the state because it's a
                      subdivision of the state, and rejected its claim of a right to sue as
                      owners of cars subject to smog laws.

                      Mayor Fleming said Thursday that the court has never heard the city's
                      argument on its merits but has only focused on such legal issues as
                      standing. ``We think that's wrong,'' he said.

                      Contact Dan Reed at dreed@... or (415) 434-0371.
                    • 12/1 San Francisco Chronicle
                      Published Friday, December 1, 2000, in the San Francisco Chronicle Big Wheels Will Rule S.F. Roads State Farm to decrease SUV insurance rates Rob Morse The
                      Message 10 of 18 , Dec 1, 2000
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                        Published Friday, December 1, 2000, in the San Francisco Chronicle

                        Big Wheels Will Rule S.F. Roads
                        State Farm to decrease SUV insurance rates

                        Rob Morse

                        The woman came barreling through the red light, almost leaving me flat in
                        the crosswalk beneath her behemoth sports utility vehicle. That's bad
                        enough, but par for the race course of San Francisco streets.

                        She flipped me off with her well-manicured finger. That's worse, but
                        expected. I had almost slowed her down on her way to Nordstrom. Besides,
                        flipping off those you fail to kill is required by the rules of Bay Area
                        driving.

                        The worst, though? The woman's insurance rates will be going down.

                        She's being rewarded because of how flat she can make me, while my crummy
                        old fuel-efficient Honda Civic will cost more to insure because it isn't
                        even a speed bump to her SUV.

                        Now this woman can afford to make even more trips to Nordstrom, while I'll
                        be making fewer trips to Target. Someday maybe she'll finally get that
                        little silhouette of a pedestrian painted on the side of her battlewagon,
                        and maybe it will be mine.

                        What do we expect from insurance companies, the people who gave America
                        the HMO and all of us a bad case of HMOphobia?

                        State Farm has decided to reward the overwhelmingly wealthy drivers of
                        SUVs for owning cars rated as safe for occupants. Forget those who get in
                        their way.

                        What kind of rate can I get on a Sherman tank?

                        America is ruled by big wheels, literally as well as figuratively. This is
                        especially true in the Bay Area, despite its goody-two-hiking-shoes
                        environmental pretensions.

                        We put "Save the Environment" on the rear bumpers of our Explorers and
                        Land Rovers. The front bumpers are reserved for pedestrians and small
                        foreign cars.

                        We pretend we like bicycles more than cars, then we put our mountain bikes
                        on top of our cars and drive to the nearest mountain -- where we complain
                        about all the smog we see below.

                        We all support mass transit and carpooling -- for other people.

                        Then what happens? We are rewarded for our hypocrisy with gifts of money
                        by the insurance companies and time by the bridge authorities.

                        With the new FasTrak electronic toll system, single occupant vehicles can
                        breeze through the tollbooths of the Golden Gate Bridge much faster than
                        carpools can get through for free.

                        It's not clear, however, that FasTrak will do anything for the Bay Bridge.
                        It's on permanent slow track.

                        But let's get real here. When insurance companies lower rates for SUVs and
                        other luxury cars, and bridge authorities start FasTrak systems, life
                        becomes more untenable on the streets of San Francisco. Drivers are being
                        rewarded to come to the city and run over people.

                        Then, as happens all too often, city authorities don't even prosecute
                        them. And then they want to sue gunmakers for hurting people? The
                        hypocrisy never ends.

                        San Francisco Mayor Willie Brown, who usually tools around in a limo
                        escorted by a half dozen motorcycles, is always pushing San Francisco's
                        "transit first" policy. Transit first is a great idea, but first there has
                        to be transit.

                        What's the best way to get good mass transit? Make it the mother of all
                        necessities, the only way to get around besides shoe leather and muscle
                        power.

                        Almost 15 years ago, then-Supervisor Bill Maher advocated closing off all
                        of downtown San Francisco to private automobiles, replacing them with
                        squadrons of vans. I thought it was just Maher waxing visionary. But the
                        idea has kept coming back in a variety of forms, including an abortive
                        plan by Mayor Brown a few years ago to exclude private traffic from Market
                        Street.

                        It's time San Francisco got serious, and instituted a transit-only policy,
                        at least within the core of the city. And the core is a constantly
                        expanding core, with parking lots replaced by highrises, and traffic jams
                        interrupted only for moments of accelerating terror.

                        I'm serious about this. Downtown San Francisco and most of its
                        neighborhoods are now paved with cars -- parked, double-parked and parked
                        on the sidewalk.

                        Drivers internally combust, so when they finally get moving, they move way
                        too fast. They see red, but not red lights. Then they flip us off as they
                        fly by.

                        This isn't America, or even Los Angeles, so why should we be crushed under
                        the wheels of, well, wheels.

                        Just think. When cars are evicted from downtown San Francisco, the
                        bicyclists, skaters and scooter idiots can all take to the streets.
                        Walkers can enjoy the mayhem from the sidewalk, which once again will be
                        theirs alone.

                        Chronicle columnist Rob Morse appears on Mondays, Wednesdays, Fridays and
                        Sundays. His e-mail is rmorse@....
                      • 12/1 San Francisco Chronicle
                        Published Friday, December 1, 2000, in the San Francisco Chronicle Transportation No. 2 on List of Bay Area Costs Only housing ranks higher, study finds
                        Message 11 of 18 , Dec 1, 2000
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                          Published Friday, December 1, 2000, in the San Francisco Chronicle

                          Transportation No. 2 on List of Bay Area Costs
                          Only housing ranks higher, study finds

                          Michael Cabanatuan, Chronicle Staff Writer

                          The average Bay Area household spends $7,150 a year on transportation,
                          making getting around the region the biggest expense behind housing,
                          according to a study released yesterday by a pro-transit group.

                          Transportation costs -- most attributable to driving -- eat up more of the
                          typical family budget than health care, education and utilities combined,
                          the study by the Surface Transportation Policy Project concluded. The
                          report also found that where you live can make a big difference in what
                          you pay. Transportation costs for people living in Livermore, Brentwood,
                          west Marin or Los Altos Hills, for instance, can be $4,000 to $6,000 a
                          year more than for residents of San Francisco, Oakland, Emeryville,
                          Pleasant Hill or Daly City.

                          The difference is sprawl, said James Corless of the group's San Francisco
                          office.

                          More compactly developed cities have better mass transit access and easier
                          walks to stores and schools, resulting in the lower transportation cost.

                          "It's not just about distance," Corless said. "It's also about the style
                          of development, how spread out your community is."

                          The policy project, whose headquarters are in Washington, D.C., encourages
                          alternatives to driving. It arrived at transportation costs by analyzing
                          demographic data to determine how many cars a typical household in a given
                          community would own, and how far its residents would drive.

                          Costs included insurance, gas, fuel taxes, maintenance, vehicle cost and
                          the price of public transportation.

                          Nationally, the Bay Area's average household transportation cost ranked
                          10th of the 28 metropolitan areas the group surveyed. But as a percentage
                          of total household spending, it placed 24th, with transportation
                          accounting for 15.1 percent of the average family budget.

                          The Houston-Galveston-Brazoria region of Texas topped the list in both
                          categories, with annual transportation costs of $8,840 that consume 22.1
                          percent of the average household budget.

                          The survey also ranked transportation costs in Bay Area cities. Emeryville
                          was the cheapest, followed by San Francisco, Albany, Berkeley and El
                          Cerrito. The most expensive was Los Altos Hills, followed by Portola
                          Valley, San Martin,

                          Windsor and Ross.

                          Compared with a Los Altos Hills resident, an Emeryville citizen would save
                          $4,177 a year in transportation expenses, the study concluded.

                          Costs can also differ from neighborhood to neighborhood within cities, the
                          study said. In San Francisco, for instance, someone living near Powell
                          Street downtown -- the city's cheapest transportation neighborhood --
                          would spend $6, 531 less per year than those who live in former military
                          housing at the Presidio.

                          And even in cities with fairly high transportation costs -- Walnut Creek,
                          for example -- the downtown neighborhood is close to transit, shopping,
                          entertainment and schools, keeping down the cost of getting around. The
                          study ranked downtown Walnut Creek as the Contra Costa County area with
                          the lowest transportation cost.

                          The group's reports on the Bay Area and other metropolitan areas can be
                          viewed at http://www.transact.org


                          Surviving Without a Car

                          The 15 best and 15 worst cities in the Bay Area for getting around without
                          a car, according to the Center for Neighborhood Technology:


                          Best

                          Emeryville
                          San Francisco
                          Albany
                          Berkeley
                          El Cerrito
                          Daly City
                          San Pablo
                          Alameda
                          Campbell
                          Oakland
                          Piedmont
                          Mountain View
                          Foster City
                          San Leandro
                          Burlingame

                          Worst

                          Los Altos Hills
                          Portola Valley
                          San Martin
                          Windsor
                          Ross
                          Cloverdale
                          Clayton
                          Sebastopol
                          Dublin
                          Sonoma
                          Brentwood
                          American Canyon
                          Atherton
                          Danville
                          Moraga

                          Source: Center for Neighborhood Technology Chronicle Graphic

                          E-mail Michael Cabanatuan at mcabanatuan@....
                        • 12/1 San Francisco Chronicle
                          Published Friday, December 1, 2000, in the San Francisco Chronicle Mayoral Friends SFO Deal Questioned $32 million limo contract concerns budget analyst Chuck
                          Message 12 of 18 , Dec 1, 2000
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                            Published Friday, December 1, 2000, in the San Francisco Chronicle

                            Mayoral Friends' SFO Deal Questioned
                            $32 million limo contract concerns budget analyst

                            Chuck Finnie, Lance Williams, Chronicle Staff Writers

                            A company run by a longtime friend and political fund-raiser for Mayor
                            Willie Brown is in line for a highly unusual $32 million city contract to
                            manage limousine traffic at San Francisco International Airport.

                            But the Board of Supervisors' fiscal watchdog has urged the city not to
                            approve the deal until airport officials provide more information about
                            the services the company would provide to earn the money.

                            At issue is a proposed four-year airport agreement involving Daja Inc., a
                            consulting firm owned by Jacqueline Besser. She is a longtime mayoral
                            friend who helped run a fund-raising effort called "Women for Willie"
                            during Brown's 1999 re-election campaign.

                            With the assistance of her husband, lobbyist Stephen Besser, also a
                            confidant of the mayor, she and her company were partners in more than $70
                            million in city contracts since moving to San Francisco from Los Angeles
                            after Brown took office in 1996.

                            The proposed airport deal is sure to raise new questions about the way the
                            Brown administration does business with people who have close political
                            and business ties to the mayor. No other major U.S. airport has hired a
                            single firm to manage all airport curbside transportation services, city
                            officials say.

                            Last year, Besser's firm and a company called Shuttleport formed a
                            partnership to win a one-year, $5.9 million contract to supervise and
                            dispatch all limousine, van and taxi traffic at San Francisco
                            International, according to city records.

                            Now the city's Airports Commission, whose members are appointed by the
                            mayor, wants to extend Daja's contract and raise its fees by as much as 17
                            percent over last year. That would bring the total five-year package to
                            more than $32 million.

                            ANALYST RAISES OBJECTIONS

                            Because of the size of the contract, it must be approved by the Board of
                            Supervisors. But Harvey Rose, the board's budget analyst, has complained
                            that the agreement lacks performance measurements and does not explain
                            clearly what Daja does for its money, leading to two postponements of
                            hearings on the deal.

                            "We have requested that the airport provide us a detailed and
                            comprehensive itemization of the exact services the contractor is going to
                            provide," Rose said. "As of now, that information is not contained
                            anywhere in the proposed contract."

                            The contract will come before the supervisors' Finance Committee next
                            month,

                            where it will be reviewed by two of the mayor's most ardent detractors:
                            its chairman, Leland Yee, and Board of Supervisors President Tom Ammiano,
                            who lost to Brown in last year's mayoral runoff.

                            Besser is a former employee of the Los Angeles city attorney's office who
                            in the 1980s volunteered as a Southern California fund-raiser for then-
                            Assembly Speaker Brown, according to people who know her. In 1995, Brown
                            appointed her to the state Commission on Aging.

                            Her husband is a former lead lobbyist for the powerful Los Angeles law
                            firm of Christensen, White, Miller, Fink & Jacobs, where Brown moonlighted
                            during his legislative career.

                            After Brown's 1996 mayoral win, he sold his San Francisco law office to
                            the Christensen firm for four annual payments of $25,000, Brown's tax
                            returns show.

                            BIDDING BEGAN AFTER BROWN'S WIN

                            Also that year, the Bessers moved to San Francisco. Stephen Besser went to
                            work as a City Hall lobbyist. Jacqueline Besser headed one of Brown's
                            citywide meetings on women's policy issues and continued to raise campaign
                            funds for Brown.

                            She also set up Daja Inc. and began bidding on city parking and
                            transportation contracts in conjunction with other companies, even though
                            she had no experience in either area. Her husband served as lobbyist for
                            the ventures.

                            In 1997, the Parking and Traffic Commission awarded Daja and a partner
                            firm,

                            Parking Concepts Inc., a $3.68 million contract to manage two city garages
                            -- the St. Mary's Square Garage on Kearny Street and a second garage at
                            Hoff and 16th streets -- for five years.

                            Besser, who is African American, won the contract after the city's Human
                            Rights Commission program certified her firm as a disadvantaged
                            minority-owned business. At the same time, the rights commission
                            decertified a competing minority company that had underbid Daja for the
                            job. The competitor said he was told by a rights commission official that
                            he lost out because he was in "the wrong place at the wrong time."

                            The contract later attracted the attention of the FBI's continuing probe
                            of municipal corruption.

                            In January, another city commission awarded Daja and a ShuttlePort
                            affiliate, Intelitran, a $66.4 million, five-year Muni contract to provide
                            transit services to the disabled.

                            And in February, Daja obtained yet another contract to manage a city
                            garage at 5200 Geary Blvd. for $11,457 per month.

                            GRAND JURY SCRUTINIZING MEETINGS

                            In January, a federal criminal grand jury subpoenaed the mayor's office
                            for records of any meetings between Brown and Jacqueline or Stephen
                            Besser. The grand jury, empaneled by federal prosecutors to review
                            evidence in the FBI's corruption probe, also wanted records of any mayoral
                            meetings involving Daja or its partner in the parking contract.

                            Daja won its airport contract in September 1999 after forming a joint
                            venture with Shuttleport, a Chicago company represented by a former San
                            Francisco airport executive, Sheldon Fein.

                            Called ShuttlePort/Daja, the joint venture won the contract even though
                            its $11.9 million bid was nearly double that of two other bidders, the
                            records show.

                            Airport Director John Martin said he selected ShuttlePort/Daja on merit.
                            He defended the contract as a smart way to "take control of the curb" and
                            stave off gridlock on the airport roadways. He points out that the money
                            to pay for it comes from fees charged to the transit operators themselves.

                            "They are not perfect," Martin said of ShuttlePort/Daja. "I think there
                            have been improvements, and we are getting fewer complaints."

                            Martin said he agreed with budget analyst Rose's recommendations and was
                            in the process of having a tighter contract written.

                            But Yee, the supervisors' Finance Committee chairman, is digging in his
                            heels.

                            "Given the concerns that have been raised by the budget analyst, I can't
                            see this item moving out of the committee with a positive recommendation,"
                            he said.

                            "There is no way to measure the value of this particular contract," he
                            said.

                            "So we are basically being asked to give $32 million to somebody to do
                            nothing. I can't believe we are going to do that. . . . I could use the
                            $32 million to help with seniors, children and the health care system in
                            San Francisco."

                            Email Chuck Finnie at cfinnie@... and Lance Williams at
                            lwilliams@....
                          • 11/30 San Francisco Chronicle
                            Published Thursday, November 30, 2000, in the San Francisco Chronicle VIPs Take In New Terminal s Soaring Spaces S.F. International Airport scene of black-tie
                            Message 13 of 18 , Dec 1, 2000
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                              Published Thursday, November 30, 2000, in the San Francisco Chronicle

                              VIPs Take In New Terminal's Soaring Spaces
                              S.F. International Airport scene of black-tie celebration

                              Carolyne Zinko, Chronicle Staff Writer

                              Nine hundred people spent five hours in the new International Terminal at
                              San Francisco International Airport on Tuesday night, where none of the
                              ticket machines were working and nobody went anywhere.

                              Not that anyone wanted to. The International Terminal was the scene of a
                              big gala to celebrate its opening after three years of construction -- the
                              largest public works project in the nation, according to airport
                              officials.

                              As the first of three SFO parties to occur this week, the black-tie event
                              drew the VIP set. A crowd of 50,000 is expected for the public open house
                              on Sunday.

                              While violinists played at a cocktail reception in the airport museum, a
                              re- creation of the 1937 terminal, Mayor Willie Brown -- accompanied by
                              his Transbay Terminal project director, Maria Ayerdi -- began mixing it up
                              with David Malcolm, a San Diego airport commissioner invited up for the
                              event.

                              Each contended he had the better airport, but Brown insisted that flying
                              into San Diego "is like going to Mineola," his Texas hometown.

                              "He said he'd like my terminal. I said I'd exchange it for a runway,"
                              Brown quipped.

                              United Airlines CEO Jim Goodwin, who flew in from Chicago for a quick
                              visit to the airline's largest hub and international gateway, also briefly
                              mentioned the need for more runway capacity.

                              But neither he nor the mayor went any further on the topic, which has been
                              a hot issue for environmentalists who oppose filling in the bay.

                              "We can work on those issues bright and early tomorrow morning," Goodwin
                              said. "Tonight, we're here to celebrate."

                              John Marks, president of the San Francisco Convention & Visitors Bureau,
                              was there with his wife, Marty. He called the new terminal "spectacular."

                              "Visitors will arrive in a style that is commensurate with the most
                              popular city in the U.S.," he pronounced. Marks was at that moment handed
                              a very large vodka martini by a senior vice president of United Airlines.

                              "That's customer service," he said, winking.

                              Charlotte Shultz, the city's chief of protocol, and her husband, George,
                              the former secretary of state, were there as well. She and the mayor mixed
                              business with pleasure. Before the party, they and Gov. Gray Davis met
                              with the president of Chile, Ricardo Lagos, who jetted in to talk business
                              with government and Silicon Valley leaders this week.

                              Out on the main floor, restaurateur George Chen of Betelnut and Shanghai
                              1930 fame was busy with his wife, Cindy, showing friends around his posh
                              new airport restaurant, Qi. It has a wine-tasting bar, places to stow
                              luggage beneath wall-mounted fountains, and laptops for patrons to use. In
                              case that's not enough to lure people in, there are terra-cotta lion
                              statues -- 2,000 years old, he says -- behind glass.

                              During the evening's dinner of crab salad and filet mignon, Michael
                              Willis, one of the International Terminal's architects, waxed poetic about
                              the three- dimensional trusses and cantilevers supporting the ceiling.

                              "What you see is the design," he said. "Structurally, it's breathtaking."

                              But partygoer Kusun Kini, whose husband, consultant P.A. Kini, worked on
                              the project, thought the effect was too industrial.

                              "It's nice, but they could have made it a little more colorful -- it's too
                              gray," she said.

                              Guests were treated to a song by Ryan Houston, 14, a Bay Area singing
                              sensation, and a performance by Project Bandaloop, aerialists who "danced"
                              while suspended from ropes on the ceiling trusses.

                              And then, like a final boarding call, it was time to go.

                              The Federal Aviation Administration's Walter Smith said to be sure to tell
                              everyone it was "an extraordinary evening."

                              Assemblyman Ted Lempert of San Carlos agreed.

                              "Not too crowded, people dressed well, good food," he said. "This is the
                              best terminal I've ever seen."


                              OPEN HOUSE

                              INTERNATIONAL TERMINAL: The public is invited to view the San Francisco
                              International Airport's new terminal from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. Sunday Dec. 3.
                              The event, co-sponsored by The Chronicle, is free, but tickets are
                              required. Go to www.flysfo.com cq or call (650) 821-6401.

                              E-mail Carolyne Zinko at czinko@....
                            • 12/1 Marin Independent-Journa
                              Published Friday, December 1, 2000, in the Marin Independent-Journal Airport s Great Hall nears opening 2.5 million-square-foot facility to debut Dec. 10 By
                              Message 14 of 18 , Dec 1, 2000
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                                Published Friday, December 1, 2000, in the Marin Independent-Journal

                                Airport's 'Great Hall' nears opening
                                2.5 million-square-foot facility to debut Dec. 10

                                By Mark Prado
                                Marin Independent-Journal

                                When airport architects named the main foyer of San Francisco
                                International Airport's new international terminal the 'Great Hall,' you
                                know they had something grand in mind.

                                And as much as air travel is the focal point of the new
                                2.5-million-square-foot building, art, shops,
                                food and a museum will vie for equal billing as the facility readies for
                                full operations starting Dec. 10.

                                "The existing international terminal opened in 1954 before there were
                                jets. This building will serve us
                                into the middle of this century," said Jane Sullivan, airport spokeswoman,
                                standing outside the Great Hall near what she
                                called the "Rolls Royce" of revolving doors.

                                Indeed, no expense was spared during construction of the nearly $3 billion
                                project that included the terminal, two new
                                parking structures and other support features. The project was financed
                                entirely by airport revenue via bonds.

                                Visitors and travelers will spend much of their time in the Great Hall, an
                                expanse of space flooded with natural light, and
                                some soft magentas and purples cast on the floor and walls as the sun
                                penetrates colored slats near the ceiling.

                                The apex of the hall's roof, which reaches about 80 feet, is lined with
                                sails, a nautical touch offered by the architect. The vast
                                design brings back memories of a bygone era.

                                "It is like the old train station when traveling was something special
                                instead of some sort of an ordeal," Sullivan said.

                                The hall's floor has aisles of ticket counters. A key element: counters
                                are not assigned to specific airlines, allowing for
                                additional ticket-taking space to be open if there is a need.Hoping for
                                shorter lines

                                Officials hope that will result in shorter lines.

                                Customs areas are larger as well, and officials hope the process will take
                                45 minutes. It usually takes much longer.

                                Bay Area gourmets will recognize such favorite eateries on the main floor
                                and concourses as Palo Alto's Andale Mexican
                                Restaurant and Bar.

                                "We're very excited to be here," restaurant general manager Victor Alvarez
                                said, describing the new venture as a move into
                                the big leagues. "It's nice to be mentioned in the same breath as that
                                select crowd."

                                He thinks the constant exposure to millions of people, even if they don't
                                pop in for a $5.25 chicken mesquite burrito, can
                                only help the restaurant. Ultimately, Alvarez hopes, other airports may
                                take interest in Andale's nosh.

                                Those who eat at the airport will not have to pay jacked-up airport prices
                                for food.

                                "There will be street pricing, so what you pay normally at these
                                restaurants you will be charged here, too," said Liv Faris,
                                who is helping coordinate the opening of the terminal for the airport.

                                Aside from food and high-end shops, the new facility is dripping in art.

                                Art on walls, art behind glass, art in terminals, even art on the floors.
                                An aviation museum will also open.

                                "There is a lot to do here, and we hope people will come and check it
                                out," Sullivan said.

                                Restaurants within the terminal will begin offering validated parking for
                                two hours to allow people to come and eat and shop.

                                "This is really like a mall in a way," said Faris, as she glanced around
                                at the myriad of options for shopping and eating.

                                Intense growth in international flights out of the airport was the impetus
                                for building a new terminal.

                                "That's where most of our growth will come. We can't bring in any new
                                airlines because we are flat out of space," Sullivan
                                said.

                                The number of Pacific Rim travelers using the airport is projected to
                                increase by 70 percent in the next 10 years. Airport
                                traffic is expected to be 51 million by 2006 compared with 40 million in
                                1998. International travel at the airport has doubled
                                since 1985.

                                Instead of 10 international gates, there will be 24 gates at the new
                                terminal.

                                "Everything was built with the idea that there is room to grow, so we are
                                not obsolete the moment we open," Sullivan said.

                                The biggest challenge for travelers -- at least initially -- will be
                                finding the new terminal. While the new building dwarfs
                                existing structures and is easy to see, there are a set of new roads and
                                off-ramps that lead to it that will be unfamiliar to even
                                the seasoned airport user.New airport

                                "The big difference is they won't go into the old airport," Sullivan said.
                                "They will never see the airport as they knew it, unless
                                they are flying domestically. Our biggest concern is people will gravitate
                                toward going to the old terminal."

                                The old international terminal will be shut down, revamped and re-opened
                                for domestic flights.

                                Shuttle bus operators in the East Bay and on the Peninsula don't expect
                                big changes.

                                "The new terminal should translate to more customers," said Jay Ver
                                vice-president of Brisbane-based Bayporter Express.
                                He said his fares would not change.

                                While there is excitement with the opening, there is some trepidation.

                                "Through the end of this year and in the new year, people will need to
                                give themselves more time," Sullivan said. "Everything
                                is not going to work perfectly."

                                STAFF WRITER Sean Holstege contributed to this report.

                                There will be a community open house at the new terminal on Sunday from 9
                                a.m. to 7 p.m. The event is free, but advance
                                passes are required. Passes are available at http://www.ticketweb.com or
                                by calling 650-821-6401.
                              • 12/1 San Mateo County Times
                                Published Friday, December 1, 2000, in the San Mateo County Times One-seventh of family incomes go to transport By Sean Holstege Staff Writer Bay Area
                                Message 15 of 18 , Dec 1, 2000
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                                  Published Friday, December 1, 2000, in the San Mateo County Times

                                  One-seventh of family incomes go to transport

                                  By Sean Holstege
                                  Staff Writer

                                  Bay Area residents spend an average of $7,150 a year getting around --
                                  more than they spend on education, food or health care, according to a
                                  report released Thursday by mass transit advocates.

                                  On average, transportation gobbles up $1 in $7, or 15 percent, of
                                  household spending money in the Bay Area. People in 23 U.S. metropolitan
                                  areas spend a higher proportion of their money getting around, topped by
                                  Houston at 22 percent.

                                  The Bay Area ranks 10th most expensive for annual transportation costs.
                                  The most expensive is Houston at $8,840 per person, followed by Dallas and
                                  Anchorage at just more than $8,700.

                                  In the Bay Area, where eight commuters in 10 go by car, suburbanites pay
                                  more to drive than inner city dwellers, according to the Surface
                                  Transportation Policy Project report. A typical Emeryville motorist, for
                                  example, pays $4,688 a year, while in Hayward a car can cost $6,734
                                  annually.

                                  "Part of our congestion strategy in the Bay Area has to be a housing
                                  strategy. We ought to think more about building housing closer to mass
                                  transit. It would be cheaper for homeowners and better for the rest of
                                  us," said the group's California director, James Corless.

                                  A pilot federal lending program attaches a value to living near mass
                                  transit. That premium, which can be applied to a home loan, climbs as high
                                  as $3,656 for an Emeryville home.

                                  According to the Metropolitan Transportation Commission, only a quarter of
                                  Bay Area trips is a commute. Shopping and mid-day errands each account for
                                  slightly more trips.

                                  Thursday's report calls for more spending on mass transit, building homes
                                  in cities rather than suburbs and pay-as-you-drive car insurance.

                                  Highway advocates and growth-control opponents at the California Alliance
                                  for Jobs dismissed the report as a biased attempt to influence public
                                  policy.

                                  "Anyone sitting out in Tracy looking at gas bills already knows that
                                  transportation is expensive," said Alliance for Jobs Communications
                                  Director Dennis Oliver. "If they are assuming people don't know this
                                  already, that's an elitist position."

                                  "Having a car and well-maintained roads is important because it's freedom.
                                  It gives you the opportunity to go where you want when you want without
                                  waiting for BART to open," Oliver added.

                                  Thursday's report does not factor in that comparable homes and auto
                                  insurance are more expensive in cities, offsetting the extra money
                                  suburbanites pay for transportation.

                                  "The problem in the Bay Area is that high housing costs have forced people
                                  to live on the outskirts," said California State Automobile Insurance
                                  Spokeswoman Bronwyn Hogan, pointing out that driving costs are probably
                                  higher than reported because of high gas prices.

                                  Oliver says people are willing to pay the extra cost -- and make the
                                  longer commutes -- for the chance to own a house. He says growth control
                                  has driven the cost of homes up, forcing people to look farther afield for
                                  housing.

                                  Corless disagrees. He says homebuyers want, but cannot find, a choice
                                  between Manhattan-style apartments and picket fences in Tracy. He points
                                  out that there are relatively affordable detached homes in places like El
                                  Cerrito, which are close to mass transit.

                                  "Transit-oriented development won't make every house in Emeryville or
                                  Richmond affordable, but it will take a few people off the freeway and
                                  lower the costs for taxpayers in the rest of the region," Corless said.
                                • 12/1 San Mateo County Times
                                  Published Friday, December 1, 2000, in the San Mateo County Times State car insurance program gets little use SACRAMENTO -- Five months after California
                                  Message 16 of 18 , Dec 1, 2000
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                                    Published Friday, December 1, 2000, in the San Mateo County Times

                                    State car insurance program gets little use

                                    SACRAMENTO -- Five months after California launched its landmark program
                                    to provide auto insurance to low-income drivers, hardly anyone is taking
                                    advantage of it -- and state officials want to know why.

                                    The experimental low-cost policy, the first of its type in the nation,
                                    first was offered July 1 in Los Angeles and San Francisco counties. The
                                    three-year pilot project was approved by the Legislature and Gov. Gray
                                    Davis to reduce the number of uninsured drivers.

                                    Uninsured motorists total about a fifth of California's 21 million
                                    licensed drivers. Most of them are in Los Angeles County, which has a
                                    third of the state's vehicles.

                                    Estimates varied dramatically as to how many drivers would take advantage
                                    of the new program. Supporters of the low-cost plan, while acknowledging
                                    they were in uncharted terrain, estimated that as many as 50,000 motorists
                                    would sign up in the first year.

                                    State Insurance Department regulators were more cautious, issuing no
                                    public estimates but expecting perhaps 10,000 to 20,000 signups.

                                    But as of Oct. 31, the most recent period for which figures are available,
                                    434 people have obtained the low-cost policies, almost all of them in Los
                                    Angeles, according to figures compiled by the state Insurance Department.

                                    In San Francisco, 12 people signed up.

                                    The figures are expected to be publicly released to the Legislature after
                                    Jan. 1, a reporting requirement that was included in the original law that
                                    set up the issue.

                                    Insurance Commissioner Harry Low has made the program a major priority in
                                    his new administration, Low's spokesman said.

                                    "He has put an emphasis on making every attempt to make this program
                                    work," spokesman Scott Edelen said.

                                    The low numbers are proving puzzling to insurers, consumer groups and
                                    state officials.

                                    One reason may be that auto insurers are offering similar or better
                                    coverage at lower costs. Another is that people with conventional policies
                                    are not "buying down" to the low-cost policies, as expected.

                                    And still another is that some people will not purchase car insurance
                                    under any circumstances -- even though state law requires it and carries
                                    stiff penalties for violators -- because they have few assets to protect.

                                    A fourth possible reason is that few people are aware the program exists.

                                    "Some people are not going to buy it, they are spending 40 percent to 50
                                    percent of their income on rent and food. It just stands to reason that a
                                    family that is struggling to provide food for their children every day may
                                    have no assets to protect," State Farm spokesman Bill Sirola said.

                                    State officials and insurers estimate that perhaps 4 million motorists
                                    statewide, or roughly 20 percent of the total, drive without coverage.

                                    Many of the drivers are concentrated in high-risk inner-city areas, where
                                    the uninsured rate exceeds 80 percent.

                                    These drivers, often the poorest motorists who live in areas where
                                    insurance premiums are highest, are the target of the new program. But
                                    they aren't lining up to buy the policies.

                                    Doug Heller of the Santa Monica-based Foundation for Taxpayer and Consumer
                                    Rights, a sponsor of the original legislation, said the state has failed
                                    to adequately advertise the program.

                                    "The chief problem is that you've got probably 500,000 drivers in Los
                                    Angeles and San Francisco counties who would qualify for this low-cost
                                    program, but very few of them even know that it exists. There's been no
                                    outreach," he said.

                                    "They have these billboards in low-income areas that say, 'Need low-cost
                                    auto insurance? Call this number,' but they never say the program is
                                    backed by the state of California. People think it's some private agent,"
                                    he added.

                                    The low-cost program is administered by the California Automobile Assigned
                                    Risk Plan, a pool set up by insurers to provide auto insurance to
                                    high-risk drivers who can't get coverage from conventional companies.

                                    An advisory board, which includes a number of insurers, gives broad
                                    direction to CAARP and is controlled largely by the Department of
                                    Insurance.

                                    For good drivers over 25 years of age, the no-frills policies cost $450 a
                                    year in Los Angeles and $410 in San Francisco, with a 25 percent surcharge
                                    for single male drivers under 25 years of age. The policies provide $5,000
                                    for personal liability, $10,000 for multiple liability and $3,000 for
                                    collision damage.

                                    In conventional policies, the minimum coverage is $15,000, $30,000 and
                                    $5,000 respectively.

                                    The new policies are intended to go to low-income families who make 150
                                    percent or less of the federal poverty level, or about $21,000 a year for
                                    a family of three.

                                    But insurers note customers can get better coverage for the same amount
                                    spent on the low-income plans.

                                    "Sure you can. In certain parts of L.A. or San Francisco, you can spend an
                                    equal premium for more coverage, or even less in premium for more
                                    coverage. That's what shopping around is all about," said Jerry Davies, a
                                    spokesman for the Personal Insurance Federation of California, a
                                    trade-lobby group that includes State Farm and Farmers.
                                  • 11/29 San Mateo County Times
                                    Published Wednesday, November 29, 2000, in the San Mateo County Times State Farm offers auto discounts Leading U.S. insurer s new policy favors vehicles deemed
                                    Message 17 of 18 , Dec 1, 2000
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                                      Published Wednesday, November 29, 2000, in the San Mateo County Times

                                      State Farm offers auto discounts
                                      Leading U.S. insurer's new policy favors vehicles deemed 'safest'

                                      Associated Press

                                      CHICAGO -- The nation's leading automobile insurer is revising its pricing
                                      policies and giving the biggest rate breaks to drivers of what it finds
                                      are the safest cars -- primarily luxury cars, vans or SUVs.

                                      State Farm said Tuesday the new system, which will replace its
                                      across-the-board discount for all vehicles with air bags, will result in
                                      no more than a $50-a-year difference in insurance costs. Owners of sport
                                      utility vehicles and
                                      other big cars will still pay more for their insurance than small-car
                                      owners do.

                                      But announcement of the change still provoked immediate criticism from
                                      consumer safety experts, who said it's unfair to
                                      drivers of smaller vehicles who may not be able to afford large ones and
                                      are more likely to be hurt in a crash.

                                      Imani Khayyuh, a Chicago motorist who drives a sedan that wouldn't qualify
                                      for the biggest discount, also was displeased
                                      when informed of the plan.

                                      "I shouldn't be penalized for driving a sensible car," she said.

                                      Bloomington, Ill.-based State Farm said its pricing program, which
                                      discounts the medical portion of coverage by up to 40
                                      percent, accurately reflects its safety data. It will cut rates for
                                      vehicles that generate the fewest injury claims for occupants.

                                      Along with some larger models, including SUVs and pickup trucks, big autos
                                      such as some Acuras, BMWs,
                                      Mercedes-Benzes and Jaguars also fall under that category.

                                      "This is not about big cars and little cars, it's about safer cars,"
                                      company spokesman Dick Luedke said. "Cars that produce
                                      the fewest injuries are the type of car you shouldn't pay as much to
                                      insure."

                                      Experts said other insurance companies are likely to follow State Farm's
                                      lead. Mike Trevino, a spokesman for Allstate, the
                                      second-biggest U.S. insurer, said it instituted a similar rate structure
                                      about a year ago.

                                      But because the medical portion of coverage typically accounts for only 10
                                      percent to 20 percent of the total premium, the
                                      change isn't likely to have a huge impact on policyholders.

                                      "We're talking about a discreet and limited aspect of the overall
                                      coverage," said Christopher Guidette of Insurance Services
                                      Office, a private New York company that provides actuarial and statistical
                                      information to insurers.

                                      Insurers already consider the likelihood of a crash or theft when setting
                                      comprehensive and collision premiums.

                                      Now a related but different consideration is being applied to medical
                                      payments coverage, Luedke said. "We're not
                                      measuring 'crashability,' we're not measuring 'theftability,' we're
                                      measuring safety."

                                      State Farm has for years given discounts of up to 30 percent for vehicles
                                      with both driver and passenger air bags. The
                                      discount is offered to owners on the portion of their premium covering
                                      personal injuries to occupants.

                                      Since all new cars now have air bags, State Farm decided to base the rate
                                      discount on which makes and models generated
                                      the fewest injury claims from accidents. Those vehicles will receive the
                                      biggest discount, 40 percent. Vehicles with air bags
                                      that offer the least protection to occupants will receive 20 percent
                                      discounts. These vehicles tend to be smaller, like the Ford
                                      Contour, Chevrolet Cavalier and many popular Japanese models.

                                      Those in between will receive a 30 percent discount.

                                      J. Robert Hunter, director of insurance for the Consumer Federation of
                                      America, called the new pricing plan unfair to most
                                      drivers.

                                      "If I have a tank, I'll get the biggest discount," he told The New York
                                      Times. "But I'll be smashing into people, killing and
                                      maiming them at a much higher rate than if I were in a smaller car."

                                      Research has shown that light trucks, including SUVs and pickups, are more
                                      likely than cars to kill the other driver in a
                                      crash. Trucks tend to weigh more, sit higher and have stiffer frames than
                                      cars.

                                      State Farm sees no reason to increase its insurance fees for the liability
                                      portion of coverage, however, because its database
                                      shows that large vehicles are involved in fewer crashes.

                                      The discounts go into effect Jan. 1. California, Pennsylvania and New
                                      Jersey must approve these changes.
                                    • 12/2 San Francisco Chronicle
                                      Published Saturday, December 2, 2000, in the San Francisco Chronicle Drawing Up Mass Transit Wish List What would get you out of your vehicle? Mark Simon How
                                      Message 18 of 18 , Dec 4, 2000
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                                        Published Saturday, December 2, 2000, in the San Francisco Chronicle

                                        Drawing Up Mass Transit Wish List
                                        What would get you out of your vehicle?

                                        Mark Simon

                                        How good should our mass transit be? Real good, or just good enough?

                                        Mass transit debates are always about systems and technology, whether it's
                                        buses or Caltrain or BART, and never about what kind of mass transit we
                                        would find acceptable or even preferable to the automobile.

                                        So, let's not wait until someone has shoved a system down our throat.

                                        Send me your wish list. And don't be modest. Make it as pie-in-the-sky as
                                        you want, limited only by available technology.

                                        The only guide should be what it would take to get you out of your car.

                                        For example, my mass transit system is going to have a seat for everyone
                                        and a way to listen to music or the radio without having someone else
                                        complain and without having to listen to someone else's choices.

                                        That's just the beginning, and I'll give you the rest of my wish list
                                        shortly.

                                        But first, let me explain why we have to do this now.

                                        If we don't, someone else will.

                                        BART is coming to San Jose, thanks to the overwhelming approval by Santa
                                        Clara County voters of a sales tax extension.

                                        So, that takes care of San Jose's mass transit needs. San Francisco, of
                                        course, can be counted on to take care of itself.

                                        That leaves the Peninsula as the missing link -- the only gap in a
                                        ring-the- bay transit system that is interconnected.

                                        BART is coming to San Francisco International Airport and adjoining
                                        Millbrae.

                                        The pressure to build BART down the rest of the Peninsula will be immense
                                        and will only grow.

                                        There are only two reasons the Peninsula doesn't have BART, one ancient
                                        history and one more recent.

                                        The ancient history is that the San Mateo County supervisors in 1962 voted
                                        not to put a measure on the ballot asking the public whether the county
                                        should join the BART district.

                                        At the time, the cost seemed high. There were no assurances when the
                                        Peninsula might get BART, and there was widespread public resistance to
                                        the idea.

                                        In the past two decades, the county, in partnership with Santa Clara
                                        County and San Francisco, has acquired Caltrain and nearly all the
                                        property along the train route, keeping the commuter rail line alive.

                                        Because of this considerable asset, there has been a continuing debate
                                        whether the future mass transit of the Peninsula should be an upgraded
                                        Caltrain or a BART system running on the Caltrain right-of-way.

                                        There are two camps, deeply divided over this very issue, and it appears
                                        they'll never agree.

                                        But the plain reality is that the train is coming down the tracks, and at
                                        some point, someone is going to decide which technology it will be.

                                        All of which makes it imperative that we express in a loud, clear voice
                                        what we want.

                                        So, send me your thoughts. Send me your wish list. Be specific. Include a
                                        drawing, if you'd like. Send it to any of the phone numbers and addresses
                                        at the bottom of this column.

                                        Speak up now, before it is too late.

                                        One rule: No transit chipmunks.

                                        That would be the people who have been locked in a death struggle over
                                        BART versus Caltrain for decades and who chew over every comment, every
                                        comma and every dust mote related to transit. We have no trouble hearing
                                        from those people. The problem is getting them to stop.

                                        No, this is about the rest of us -- people who would like to take mass
                                        transit but can't or won't because it doesn't work for us.

                                        What would it take for it to work for you?

                                        For me, it would have to be as convenient and as comfortable as my car.

                                        If I need to go somewhere, I want to be able to walk a short distance and
                                        get on a bus or a train or some kind of transit. And I don't want to wait
                                        longer than 10 minutes until the next bus or train comes along.

                                        That's the way it works in the big cities, and, as I've been saying with
                                        annoying frequency, we're not the 'burbs anymore.

                                        Once I'm on the transit, I want to get where I'm going as fast as I can on
                                        a good day driving. If I'm going to Pac Bell Park, I want to get there in
                                        30 minutes and get home just as quickly.

                                        Then, while I'm riding transit, I want creature comforts. I want what I
                                        have in my car -- my own seat, my own music, a chance to talk to the
                                        people traveling with me.

                                        And I want it to run all the time everywhere.

                                        Is that too much to ask?

                                        Now, I understand it's mass transit, and I'm sharing it with other people,
                                        so I might be willing to compromise on some of these things, in the spirit
                                        of communal cooperation.

                                        On the other hand, this is my wish list, so to heck with compromise.

                                        If we start off compromising, we'll end up where we already are.

                                        What we need is to think big. We can always scale back from there.

                                        Mark Simon can be reached at (650) 299-8071, by fax at (650) 299-9208 or
                                        by e-mail at msimon@.... Write him c/o The Chronicle, Press
                                        Room, 400 County Center, Redwood City, CA 94063.
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