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California's San Francisco Bay Area, a beacon for the world's most ambitious and entrepreneurial, is in some ways a victim of its own success. Decades of regional growth have created a highway and public transportation infrastructure incapable of meeting the demands of commuters.

As a Contra Costa Times editorial recently explained:

"The worsening traffic congestion in the Bay Area is having an increasingly negative impact on the quality of life in the region. The millions of people who commute to work daily lose valuable time, waste gasoline and add to air pollution. Businesses suffer and new enterprises are discouraged from locating in the area, harming the Bay Area economy."

The HOT and rapid over the flip...

The average Bay Area driver spends 39 hours each year stuck in traffic on a regional freeway. Average time spent idling in traffic will rise to 72 hours per year by 2035 if present trends continue. For a host of reasons - including the needless pollution, wasted fuel, and loss of time at work or with family - minimizing congestion should be a priority for regional leaders. And when possible, enticing commuters into a carpooling arrangement or public transportation should be encouraged.

Fortunately, the Metropolitan Transportation Commission, the regional transportation authority, with input from Bay Area leaders and activists, has crafted an ambitious regional transit plan: Transportation 2035.

One important component of the plan is the development of a network of high occupancy toll (HOT) lanes in the Bay Area, allowing carpool lanes to turn a profit by permitting single-and-double-occupancy commuters the ability to use the underutilized lanes for a variable fee dependent on traffic at the moment.

Presently, a hodgepodge of carpool lanes appear and disappear throughout the Bay Area's highway grid, forcing carpool drivers to merge into often heavily congested stretches, particularly near intersections. Under the Transportation 2035 plan, 500 miles of carpool lanes would be converted to HOT lanes, while 300 additional miles of HOT lanes would be constructed over the next 25 years. This would help create a smoother commute for carpoolers and newly minted HOT drivers, encouraging elevated carpool usage and reducing congestion in normal lanes. For example, HOT lanes in San Diego increased carpool usage by 53 percent, while HOT lanes in Minneapolis reduced the number of drivers reporting congestion delays by 20 percent.

By generating revenues from willing HOT drivers, the region will have a somewhat reliable source of revenue to work on other transit projects. Some local transportation officials have urged setting aside specific revenues for public transit, and that is a concept worth exploring, but regardless of the exact funding distribution, the region's transportation infrastructure will clearly be strengthened by granting regional control over these HOT revenues.

While some have raised concerns that HOT lanes give wealthy commuters special access - and this is a criticism I take very seriously - I would argue that broad access and equity in services are best achieved with a package of transportation solutions that includes the expansion of longer distance rapid transit bus service throughout key corridors in East Bay and South Bay counties. The most effective and profitable rapid transit routes reaching more inland regions of the Bay Area will have to be implemented along the proposed HOT lane network to provide a reliable enough commute to convince riders to leave their cars at home. There is nothing rapid about gridlock.

Rapid transit buses, which along city streets allow bus commuters to avoid most traffic lights, have been shown to be popular and effective in the Bay Area and should be considered a low-cost solution in areas where a more speedy public transit commute is desired but rail is impractical. A study of a busy seven-city 14-mile Bay Area route by the Federal Transit Administration determined that the rapid transit line reduced end-to-end travel time by an average of 12 minutes, leading to a 21 percent reduction in time previously spent on local service non-rapid bus lines. Ridership across all areas of the corridor increased by 8.5 percent as a result of the rapid transit line, and most significantly, around 19 percent of rapid transit riders previously used a car for their commute along the corridor, a reduction of around 1,100 auto trips per day.

No matter how strained our purse strings, a continued state and federal investment is crucial to shift our society toward a more public transit-friendly future. Perhaps ironically, the HOTtest way to encourage an increase in bus ridership may depend on making it easier to drive to work.

Lieutenant Governor John Garamendi chairs the Commission for Economic Development and is a former Deputy Interior Secretary.

Originally posted to JohnGaramendiCA on Mon May 04, 2009 at 04:33 PM PDT.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Welcome Lt Governor! (11+ / 0-)

    I'm in the North Bay and wonder when more focus will also be put on mass transit north of the Golden Gate. Sometimes it feels like we are held hostage to the GG Transportation District.

    Keep working on mass this case more is better.

    People seem not to see that their opinion of the world is also a confession of their character. Ralph Waldo Emerson

    by SallyCat on Mon May 04, 2009 at 04:36:47 PM PDT

  •  There are just so many ways to (9+ / 0-)

    shift the economic incentives towards sustainable habits-to-be. This is another good one. Thank you.

    We have only just begun and none too soon.

    by global citizen on Mon May 04, 2009 at 04:42:20 PM PDT

  •  Better coordination between all the Bay Area (9+ / 0-)
    transit agencies is needed.  Nothing more frustrating to a user of public transportation than trying to make a connection from another major agency (Eg. Caltrain, BART, or other bus agency) where the connecting bus leaves moments before the first transport arrives.  This means the commuter has to take ever earlier transport to make sure they make all their connections.  You shouldn't be required to allow three hours for a 1.5-2 hour commute just because connecting service providers can't or won't work with each other.

    My Karma just ran over your Dogma

    by FoundingFatherDAR on Mon May 04, 2009 at 04:47:51 PM PDT

    •  Great point (7+ / 0-)

      There are dozens of transit agencies in the Bay Area who all jealously guard their fiefdoms.

      They should all be combined into one big regional transit agency, much like Portland did with METRO.

      The Bay Area is really one big urban center at this point. We should just admit that and move forward as a unit.

      "Be yourself; everyone else is already taken." - Oscar Wilde

      by greendem on Mon May 04, 2009 at 04:56:57 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Its' absurd how long it took BART to offer (5+ / 0-)

      service to SFO.

    •  I agree ... (0+ / 0-)

      ... that better coordination is needed, but this is a scheduling problem between two operating agenies.  It is not a political problem.  If you want to see a real mess, let city councils and regional commissions try to do bus and train scheduling.  I know because in 1974 I served on the transportation committee of a new town (Moraga, California).  The town incorporated for the sole purpose of solving our commute problems.

      Getting the town council to approve neighborhood bus service was a failure.  The newly electeds responded to the vocal minority of 50 (out of a population of 20,000) and voted to keep bus service OUT of the neighborhoods.  The next day, over 100 people from opne neighborhood alone petitioned for a bus route on their street, but the town council wouldn't budge.  This was after seven years of getting neighborhood support and planning the routes.

      From my experience, good transit agencies are normally their own entities, as opposed to being part of a city government.  In my city (Fairfield), the city government attempts to run the local bus operation with a private contractor.  It is pretty close to useless.  For example, the bus stop nearest my house is a 15 minute walk and the headway (time between vehicles) is 45 minutes.  To get to the AmTrak station by bus, I would have to transfer twice, but the other routes operate on a 30 minute headway, so the first connection can only work half the time (every other trip).

      I share your frustration.  Making each transit operator responsible to the people through a directly-elected board of directors is a big part of the solution to this problem.  

  •  Why not put inner-city rail on a lane (13+ / 0-)

    of the highway?

    We already own the right-of-way. This would decrease the cost of building rail. What once were interchanges could become large switching stations where one could pick up the train for the next leg of the journey.

    With Peak Oil, the era of the private automobile is coming to an end.

    What are our plans for after that?

    "Be yourself; everyone else is already taken." - Oscar Wilde

    by greendem on Mon May 04, 2009 at 04:52:11 PM PDT

  •  I am working on one of these... (6+ / 0-)

    It is exciting, but I don't see alot of potential for revenue generation much exceeding the cost of the system itself.  

    I do see potential for considerable congestion relief.

    Here is my idea for revenue generation:  auction off billboard space on the sides of overcrossings.  

  •  This is a good piece of the solution (12+ / 0-)

    But I think the emphasis on BRT is misplaced. The Overhead Wire has done some good work on explaining why, for example, Geary BRT is an inferior use of money to a streetcar or light rail. Buses attract fewer riders than light rail (partly because they hold fewer passengers, partly because the public sees buses as impermanent and less efficient), have higher long-term operating costs, and are less effective at changing transportation and development patterns.

    Light rail sometimes has higher up-front costs, but is a better investment over the long-term and does more to seed urban density and get people out of their cars.

    HOT lanes are a good first step, but what I'd like to see you embrace is a regional gas tax to help fund local operating expenses and seed development of new transit infrastructure. The Bay Area would likely approve such a tax, and wouldn't have to depend on Republican votes from places like Bakersfield and Orange County in the process.

    I'm not part of a redneck agenda - Green Day

    by eugene on Mon May 04, 2009 at 04:56:19 PM PDT

    •  and as a side note, a buck fifty (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Nellcote, sberel

      will buy you no more entertainment anywhere in the world than on the N-Judah

    •  I'm not convinced on BRT vs light rail (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      tmo, greendem, kurt

      We're talking 250 million for BRT vs 5 billion for light rail.  

      To go through your points:

      1. fewer passengers...that one doesn't make sense.  Geary buses are filled to capacity much of the time.  The demand is there for either improvement.
      1. higher long-term operating costs: please provide a citation.  The train cars are more expensive up front and also require maintenance just like buses.  The tracks require maintenance.
      1. up front costs: light rail is ALWAYS more expensive than buses up front.  Can you provide an example to justify your use of "sometimes"?

      No on Prop 8::Sometimes I get to hitch a ride on the Democratic Bus--they let me stand on the back bumper.

      by steve04 on Mon May 04, 2009 at 07:09:56 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Rode BRT in Bogota (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        It worked great in a system much like our freeways.
        Boarding platforms are the big expense. And low floor vehicles and ticket machines in the stations. That's about it. Cheap. And efficient.

        "Be yourself; everyone else is already taken." - Oscar Wilde

        by greendem on Mon May 04, 2009 at 08:20:42 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  Rail is always more efficient (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        Rail is always more economical and efficient to operate over time than buses. Overall, it's clear that buses wear out more quickly than rail vehicles, and steel wheels on steel rails outlast rubber tires.

        As a general rule, rail draws about 10% more passengers than a bus route from Day One. That is well established, though the reason for it is not. Could be that some people will never ride a bus, ever. Some riders take comfort to see the rail line stretching ahead of them, but fear that a bus is always just one turn from taking them off their desired route. Some people think rail cars are classy and elegant and Eurostyle, and buses aren't.

        I don't know anything about the relative construction costs of the line you refer to, but here's a linkto some sources on the operating cost comparisons elsewhere.

        In general Bus Rapid Transit seems to work well as an intermediate step, helping to develop the kind of transit ridership that justifies investing in rail. But note that Bus Rapid Transit was invented in Curitiba, Brazil, and then enthusiastically adopted in Bogota, Columbia. Now Curitiba is working on a rail system -- and so is Bogota. To carry really large numbers of passengers, nothing beats rail.

        •  Thanks for the response (0+ / 0-)

          In this specific case, the Geary line dead ends at the ocean, so it's the end of the line, and the entire length of the route is fully developed and doesn't include neighborhoods that need redevelopment, so the long-term benefits of rail (it can be extended, it encourages denser growth and redevelopment) are limited.

          As for relative operating costs, San Francisco muni runs almost all streetcar trains at one or two cars, so there is no operator savings.  The only maintenance difference for buses vs. traincars are the wheels--we'd be talking about electrified buses with regenerative breaking, already used throughout San Francisco.

          Last, trains have a very specific drawback: if there is damage to the tracks or an accident blocking the tracks, the route is completely disabled.  Our electric buses have batteries that allow them to drive short distances around damaged wires, accidents, or construction with only a minimal schedule delay.

          No on Prop 8::Sometimes I get to hitch a ride on the Democratic Bus--they let me stand on the back bumper.

          by steve04 on Tue May 05, 2009 at 02:52:16 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

      •  You have to look at more than just cost... (0+ / 0-)

        The problem I always see, especially from the Bush Administration's standpoint is that cost seems to be the main factor in making these decisions.  It's important but shouldn't be the main factor. If it were the main factor when the NYC Subway were built or when BART or WMATA in DC were built you would never have the 4 million riders a day each of those systems take.  

        We need to stop looking at this as a cost but as an investment.  The speed and benefits from reliable transit network manifests itself in time savings, household savings and the creation of neighborhoods that allow people to live without cars reducing costs to families by as much as 16%.  That is a LOT of a family budget, especially if you're only making 35,000 a year.

        As to your other comments about BRT vs LRT.  

        1. Geary is a special case. It's one of the highest passenger density bus routes on the West Coast and perhaps in the country at around 65,000 riders a day.  Yes the demand is there for improvement, but do you want to just run a bunch of 60 foot buses with a max capacity of 100 people or a three car train or even a BART train that will transport 450 LRV/1000 Metro people at crush?  That means that you're going to have to run four buses for every three car train.  That means paying four operators.  That costs money.
        1. Long term, for every LRV that costs around $3 million, you will need to buy three-four 60 foot buses which can cost $600,000 to href=" Million for some BRT vehicles with double sided doors or which use alternative fuels.  That is because the service life for rail cars is 25 years (actually longer if kept well) versus bus at 12.  So over the life of the vehicles, for the capacity you're spending more on buses than you would for an LRV or Subway car.

        For that reason of capacity and less expensive operations, you can see that per passenger mile costs are much cheaper for rail than buses making long term operating costs per rider much cheaper. Nationally, you get the best operating costs from Metros like BART.  40 cents throughout the country versus 60 cents for light rail and 80 cents for bus.  

        Also, once the tunnel is there, it's there forever and gains much more economic development and tax base than a bus would.  This development pays back the investment over time.  For an example of this, check out Arlington County in Washington.  It was certainly more expensive than a bus would have been but a bus wouldn't have been able to generate 32% of the tax base for the county on just 7% of the land.  Now 73% of the passengers get to the stations by walking.  How much is that worth in cleaner air?  It's priceless.

        1.  Also, I believe Eugene uses 'sometimes' because there are BRT projects out there that cost more than light rail.  Real BRT that actually would come closest to light rail in terms of performance (but not really) costs a lot of money to build.  Estimates for the Hartford Busway put it at $55 million per mile.  Much higher than many recent light rail lines on existing ROW.  

        In any event, if you want greater long term benefits, lower operating costs and tax returns on land use changes, you should go with rail.

        It's Electric -

        by The Overhead Wire on Mon May 04, 2009 at 11:08:59 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Some San Francisco-specific figures... (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          The Overhead Wire

          I agree with you philosophically that buried tunnel transportation is the holy grail, because it really delivers time savings, high ridership, and good long-term development.

          My issue is that that feeling bleeds over into all analysis.  The fact is that Geary boulevard has limited length, and ends at the ocean so there is no possibility for later expansion.  The length of the route is fully developed, with close to 100% occupancy, so there isn't much opportunity to redevelop on a grand scale.  Further, bus rapid transit could be operational in the 2013 +/- 1 year time frame, with portions of the route coming on line as they are constructed rather than all at once.

          As to the specific figures you cite, I think you have a systematic bias in favor of rail.

          I'll do an analysis of 151 light rail vehicles and 151 60' trolley coaches (electric buses) over 25 years with numbers from the San Francisco Municipal Transit Authority:

          I'm using the number of 151 LRVs because that's how many San Francisco currently has, so we can use existing costs from the fleet report to estimate future costs.  A 60 foot electric bus (trolley) carries more passengers than a single LRV, so I'm being generous in this comparison.  San Francisco's electric buses have longer life spans than 12 years, but we'll still assume a 2x replacement factor for 25 years.

          Initial costs are taken from the 5 year capital improvement plan, which lists 136 LRVs at a cost of 515 million, or 572 million adjusted to 151 LRVs.  For trolley buses, I used the fleet replacement plan numbers of 60 60' trolleys for $84 mil, or 211.4 for 151.  I can't find specific information on trolley maintenance costs, but the fleet replacement plan lists 95 million for motor coach and neoplan life-cycle and mid-life costs, which covers 511 motor coaches and 313 electric trolley buses, but I'll still apply 95 million twice (two midlife costs for the two generations of buses equivalent to one generation of LRV.  Since I can't find numbers on routine trolley maintenance and accident repairs, again I'll be generous and use the LRV numbers despite the higher cost of all LRV components.

          LRV analysis:
          1x Up front, $572
          1x Mid life overhaul, $275 mil
          25x Annual Maintenance, $175 mil
          5x special accident repairs, $90 mil
          Total, $1112 million

          BRT analysis:
          2x Up front, $211.4
          2x Mid life overhaul, $190 mil
          25x Annual Maintenance, $175 mil
          5x special accident repairs, $90 mil
          Total, $666.4 million

          LRV also requires up-front track costs that are many times higher than the up-front BRT costs.  LRV would save on operator costs if San Francisco ever ran longer trains, but it doesn't, so that equalizes out.  Additionally, in favor of smaller transit units, service is more frequent so riders spend less time waiting.

          What am I missing in this analysis?  I guess long-term, the T-third rail line could make sense if it really does foster smarter redevelopment of the southeast part of the city, but the upfront cost of ~1.3 billion for tracks and train cars is awfully expensive for the current ridership.

          No on Prop 8::Sometimes I get to hitch a ride on the Democratic Bus--they let me stand on the back bumper.

          by steve04 on Tue May 05, 2009 at 03:56:54 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          • correction. (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            The Overhead Wire

            I didn't double the up-front bus purchase price.

            LRV analysis:
            1x Up front, $572
            1x Mid life overhaul, $275 mil
            25x Annual Maintenance, $175 mil
            5x special accident repairs, $90 mil
            Total, $1112 million

            BRT analysis:
            2x Up front, $422.8
            2x Mid life overhaul, $190 mil
            25x Annual Maintenance, $175 mil
            5x special accident repairs, $90 mil
            Total, $877.8 million

            Even after using maintenance numbers and overhaul numbers that are for the total diesel & electric bus fleet (511 diesel, 313 electric) rather than just for 151 buses, the BRT is cheaper over a 25 year time span.

            No on Prop 8::Sometimes I get to hitch a ride on the Democratic Bus--they let me stand on the back bumper.

            by steve04 on Tue May 05, 2009 at 04:00:23 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  Very thoughtful analysis... (0+ / 0-)

              Thanks Steve.  And yes, I'll be the first to admit i have a rail bias.  You can probably tell that through my blog.  One thing I think you might be missing is the capacity thing.  A 60 foot BRT vehicle can only carry 100 people while an LRV will be able to carry 150 both at crush. In order to get the capacity you're going to need more buses.  

              Sure its a higher up front cost, but that is something you gain back through increased property taxes on increased development over time.  Yes the corridor is built out to a certain degree, but there are tons of parcels that would redevelop to higher densities, probably 4-5 stories instead of two stories on Geary.  I don't think you're correct that it won't change in that respect.  It's the natural order to get denser.  You see this in LA where the city is getting denser because there is nowhere else to go but up.  The same holds true for SF.  But as is the case, unless you provide rapid transit service, you're going to cause more traffic.  In Arlington, the traffic counts are about the same as they were 20 years ago.  I was really shocked at the densification but they were able to contain it by creating a walkable corridor.

              Then there is the whole issue of operating costs. Per passenger mile, the light rail operation with three cars and one driver is going to do so much better than the single bus single driver.  Again this corridor needs a subway but the politics are maddening.  It's sick we can't prioritize these things.  For San Francisco currently, it's LRVs cost more than its buses in operations per passenger mile, mostly because there are too many one car trains and the buses are over capacity.  The stockton and geary lines are sardine tins.  There is no room for ridership growth.

              In any event, thanks for the analysis. I'm still biased but i know where the BRT contingent is coming from, but I just don't like getting sick on my ride to work bouncing all over the place.  If we want more people to take transit, we need to stop being cheap on our core routes.  As Bruce McF always says, buses and trains are friends.   But we need to stop being friends with our cars.  

              It's Electric -

              by The Overhead Wire on Wed May 06, 2009 at 12:23:26 AM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  I didn't go into it... (0+ / 0-)

                but you also have to consider the greenhouse gas issues that come from densifying neighborhoods and getting people to take transit.  The rail ridership will be higher and the land use patterns that result will reduce GHG emissions even more.  Lets not forget that everyone we get out of their car is much less GHGs, especially SF in which both trolleybus and LRV power comes from Hydro.

                It's Electric -

                by The Overhead Wire on Wed May 06, 2009 at 12:26:30 AM PDT

                [ Parent ]

              •  Citation for capacity numbers? (1+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                The Overhead Wire

                "A 60 foot BRT vehicle can only carry 100 people while an LRV will be able to carry 150 both at crush."


                Capacity: Standard: 41 passenger seats and 42 standees on 40' standard vehicles; 54 passenger seats and 70 standees on 60' articulated vehicles.

                I can't find information about LRV capacity, but you underestimate BRT capacity by 24.

                No on Prop 8::Sometimes I get to hitch a ride on the Democratic Bus--they let me stand on the back bumper.

                by steve04 on Wed May 06, 2009 at 12:00:47 PM PDT

                [ Parent ]

              •  Operating costs...are about the same. (0+ / 0-)


                Page 20, for FY2009 the estimated cost per revenue vehicle hour is $210 for light rail and $130-132 for motor coaches & trolley coaches.  If we're comparing 60' buses to LRVs, the passenger capacity ratio is something like 132/170=0.78, and the total operating cost ratio is 131/210=0.62, so buses are cheaper to operate.

                No on Prop 8::Sometimes I get to hitch a ride on the Democratic Bus--they let me stand on the back bumper.

                by steve04 on Fri May 08, 2009 at 10:41:50 AM PDT

                [ Parent ]

          •  I don't see pathway maintenance in there ... (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            The Overhead Wire

            ... heavy vehicles cause more wear and tear in asphalt than light vehicles do.

            •  light rail isn't "light" compared to buses (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              The Overhead Wire

              just compare to freight rail or full amtrack

              No on Prop 8::Sometimes I get to hitch a ride on the Democratic Bus--they let me stand on the back bumper.

              by steve04 on Wed May 06, 2009 at 12:18:40 AM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  Right but... (1+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:

                the buses cause more damage to concrete than rail causes to its rails on concrete ties.  The survival time is much less.

                It's Electric -

                by The Overhead Wire on Wed May 06, 2009 at 12:24:35 AM PDT

                [ Parent ]

              •  I mean light vehicles like cars and bikes. (0+ / 0-)

                Taking buses and trucks off the road saves a disproportionate amount of road maintenance costs go up in proportion to the square of the weight.

                And of course, steel rail is far more durable than asphalt.

                So including the cost of path construction but leaving out the cost of path maintenance is putting a heavy thumb on one side of the scales.

                That's why the primary target for quality trolley buses is for corridors that will not be able to provide the patronage to bring them into the light rail frame ... the total cost per service, including periodic maintenance, is higher for BRT than for LRT, so as the frequency of service goes up, the the fixed cost / operating cost comparison will always swing from BRT to LRT.

                Its also another reason why local circulator buses that include a rail station are effective, since they "pay for" more frequent buses on a portion of the trip by taking a large share of the longer trips off the roads entirely.

                Add in the fact that federal matching funds are biased toward up front capital costs and against operating and periodic maintenance costs, and a community that opts for a BRT on a corridor that is capable of supporting LRT is building up it roadworks expenses for the future.

                •  citations? (0+ / 0-)

                  I asked the question because every time I find real numbers and apply them, I find light rail is more expensive.  You just parroted more of the same without a single number or single citation.

                  No on Prop 8::Sometimes I get to hitch a ride on the Democratic Bus--they let me stand on the back bumper.

                  by steve04 on Wed May 06, 2009 at 11:16:35 AM PDT

                  [ Parent ]

                  •  Martin 2002 (0+ / 0-)

                    Estimating Heavy Vehicle Road Wear Costs for Bituminous-Surfaced Arterial Roads

                    Journal of Transportation Engineering, Vol. 128, No. 2, March/April 2002, pp. 103-110.

                    However, no citation is required to note that if that is the way you "compare" transport costs, you are always going to get results that are biased against a more durable pathway with lower vehicle wear costs per ton-mile and a less durable pathway with higher vehicle wear costs per ton-mile.

  •  It DOES benefit the wealthy... (6+ / 0-)

    there's no two ways around it. I'm not sure that bribing us with possible increases in public transit really addresses the concern, either. This is likely to make the car pool lanes overused, until they are no faster than the regular lanes. What happens to promoting car pooling then? Or shall we then sacrifice another lane to the carpools and paying customers?

    Are these public roads, or are they not?

    ...we reject as false the choice between our safety and our ideals.
    -- Pres. Barack H. Obama, Jan. 20, 2009

    by davewill on Mon May 04, 2009 at 04:58:20 PM PDT

  •  Buses (8+ / 0-)

    My neighbor commutes from Davis to downtown San Francisco (yes, a long commute). He used to take a bus which worked great, but when gas prices went up they canceled the service.  Now he carpools with some of the other folks from the bus, which is good but they would all be on that bus and not clogging up the road with another car if the bus were still running.

    Keep the longer distance locations in mind as well when planning those routes.  Thanks.

  •  How many Bay Area commuters are drivers? (3+ / 0-)

    A significant proportion of commuters experience NO road congestion, right?

    As God is my witness, I thought turkeys could fly.

    by ticket punch on Mon May 04, 2009 at 05:13:52 PM PDT

    •  I'm one (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      tmo, kurt

      My one-way drive is seven miles, so maybe I'm just barely a "commuter." I need to leave home by 7:30 to avoid congestion. Coming home, the Maze is too unpredictable, so I have a net of surface streets and just plan on taking twice as long.

      Public transit would take at least three and probably four times as long as my AM drive.

      We're on a blind date with Destiny, and it looks like she's ordered the lobster!

      by Prof Haley on Mon May 04, 2009 at 05:43:58 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  20 minute bike ride to work (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      tmo, Woody

      sold the car, cancelled the insurance, never worry about parking, quit the gym, pay no attention to gas prices, better sex, the list goes on.

      and...$5-8,000 going into savings every year.

      My life improved after I sold my car.

      Then the wife sold hers too.

      Carfree and carefree.

      I recognize cars will always be necessary.
      For handicapped people.

      "Be yourself; everyone else is already taken." - Oscar Wilde

      by greendem on Mon May 04, 2009 at 08:25:52 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  I drive, counter commute, to contract position (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      one day a week. I work from home or locally the other 4. So congestion except for the two schools, elementary (one public and one private) across from each other on my way to the freeway. I just time my departure to miss the school times.

      People seem not to see that their opinion of the world is also a confession of their character. Ralph Waldo Emerson

      by SallyCat on Mon May 04, 2009 at 10:10:00 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Run in CA-3 (4+ / 0-)

    Rather than CA-10, please.

    Pragmatic progressivism is the future.

    by Pragmaticus on Mon May 04, 2009 at 05:14:52 PM PDT

  •  What about SoCal? (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    greendem, sberel

    Metro's long-range plan is pretty amazing. But I will likely die before it is fully realized. We need to accelerate the timetable. Including Light Rail on the 405 Freeway.

  •  So ... (5+ / 0-)

    Some local transportation officials have urged setting aside specific revenues for public transit, and that is a concept worth exploring, but regardless of the exact funding distribution, the region's transportation infrastructure will clearly be strengthened by granting regional control over these HOT revenues.

    Why not? Why not a specific funding stream?

    Using HOT revenues, some portion of them at least, dedicated for BRT development & operation would seem to make a lot of sense.

  •  A better idea ... (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    greendem, SallyCat, kurt

    ... is to dedicate the HOT lanes to carpools and buses only.    As a matter of basic right and wrong, people should not be able to buy their way out of problems, whether it be HOT lanes or gated "communities" where those able to pay the going rate can partially secede from local government and local problems.  HOT lanes are another example of the partial privatization of a public good.

    Also, as a matter of common sense, public transit should not be dependent upon auto tolls for revenue when the goal is to get people out of their cars and onto public transit.  

    One of the problems in the Bay Area is the Metropolitan Transportation Commission (MTC).  It acts as a gatekeeper of money but does not operate any transit systems.  A look at the 19 commissioners of the MTC and what each represents is revealing, particularly for those of us in Solano County.  Of the 19, only one is from Solano.  He is James P. Spering, a pro-development Republican county supervisor.  He represents District 3, a predominately Democratic region made up of large chunks of Democratic Fairfield and Suisun City.  (Another example of why non-partisan elections are bad.)  Bus service is Fairfield and Suisun City -- a contract operation -- is atrocious, the details of which belong in a diary of their own, but one example should suffice:  the first Fairfield city bus gets to the local AmTrak station about 90 minutes after the first train leaves.  The rest of Solano County has zero representation on the MTC.  Furthermore, most of the commissioners represent cities, counties, and other governmental agencies.  No one directly represents the people as far as I can tell.

    Part of the problem is that many local transit systems are run by city governments.  The better ones, such as AC Transit, are their own public entities with boards of directors elected by the people.  (Yes, I know AC Transit has money problems but HOT lanes have nothing to do with their operating expenses.)

    As one who remembers life in the Bay Area before the MTC was created, I assure you the MTC hasn't been much help.  The Bay Area Rapid Transit District (BART) and AmTrack already provide a regional rail network around which all local public transit operators -- independent of city and county politics -- can build a route structure as the good ones do.  We need more and better public transit but the MTC is not capable of offering that.  Only dedicated organizations -- such as AC Transit -- that own and operate their own rolling stock, employ their operators and mechanics, and set their levels of service can.  That is the direction we need to go, not HOT lanes.  

  •  BRT is a joke (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Woody, NoMoreLies, The Overhead Wire

    It's mainly the right wing's solution to public transit that doesn't involve subways, light rail, or commuter rail. Buses don't attract the ridership that planners want to use the services.

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