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transportation

BART workers strike

Jul 1, 2013

Bay Area Rapid Transit workers are now on strike after failing to reach a deal on contract negotiations.

The 400,000 commuters who rely on the San Francisco-area rail system are now having to find a different way to get to work. Reports from Oakland say the casual carpool lines are extra busy. Over at the El Cerrito de Norte BART station, a line of free shuttles offering round trips to Oakland and San Francisco is easing the crowds. The ferries are running extra boats, and the lines, while long, are not as bad as some commuters expected.

BART workers on strike

Jul 1, 2013

BART unions prepare for strike authorization vote

Jun 25, 2013

With no solution in sight to a wage impasse, labor unions representing the Bay Area's commuter rail system are voting Tuesday whether to authorize a strike.

BART and the labor unions have been deadlocked for months. The current contract is set to expire at midnight on Sunday.

Courtesy of EastBayExpress.com

AC Transit board member Joel Young may have used confidential legal information that he received from the transit district for his own personal gain and for that of his private employer, according to a hard-hitting report released last week. Young, an attorney and former state Assembly candidate, also violated AC Transit rules regarding the use of public agency resources for personal gain and may have run afoul of state law, the report stated.

Alta Bicycle Share, the organization that runs some of the most successful bike share programs in the US, might be underpaying its workers at its Washington, D.C. Capital Bikeshare. The Department of Labor opened an investigation into the company after Capital Bikeshare employees complained.

The $82,000 parking spot

Jun 20, 2013

In some parts of the country, $80,000 will buy you a house. In San Francisco, that same money gets you one parking spot.

That’s right – the San Francisco Chronicle reported last week that realtor Sean Sullivan sold a single parking space in the city’s South Beach neighborhood for $82,000.

Bike sharing is coming to San Francisco and Silicon Valley this August. It’s being launched on a small scale at first – just 750 bikes in the whole system. So the big question is: where should the bikes go?

Radical Idea: Greening The Wiggle

Jun 18, 2013
Under CC license from Flickr user Paul Krueger

The Wiggle is a San Francisco bike route that zig-zags through the Lower Haight, Alamo Square, and Duboce Park. Activists and community groups have been trying to improve the corridor for years. Their work has led to more "sharrows," green painted bike lanes, on the pavement and most recently an $80-million greening project proposal for The Wiggle Corridor. The plans being considered by the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission and the Municipal Transit Agency include rain gardens that capture storm water, permeable paving and improved bike lane safety measures. That's a good start to Wigg Party founder Morgan Fitzgibbons. In his ideal world, the city would go a lot further -- as we hear in this Radical Idea from the Crosscurrents archives.

Bay Area traffic rises with the economy

Jun 6, 2013

The Bay Area has two of the top ten most congested cities in the country. No other state, let alone region, can claim that title. While San Francisco has always been a top contender for the worst traffic, San Jose jumped up in the list this year.

In 2010, it didn’t even make the top ten. Now, San Jose commuters can expect to waste 33 hours per year sitting in traffic, while San Francisco drivers waste an extra 50 hours each year in their cars.

At a public meeting on May 23, the BART Board of Directors decided that two five-day pilots weren’t enough to make a permanent decision about whether to allow bikes on trains during peak hours. Instead, they decided to create another pilot -- this one five months long -- review the results, and make a permanent decision in November.

California High-Speed Rail challenge will move forward

May 24, 2013

The first stage of construction on California’s high-speed rail is set to begin this summer, but the legal challenges aren’t going away anytime soon. Last week, a judge ruled that a lawsuit filed by Central Valley residents of Kings County to block construction will move forward as planned.

The California High-Speed Rail Authority had been trying to get the Kings County lawsuit lumped together with a separate “validation” lawsuit, where anyone opposed to the project can sue the Authority in one giant case.

Most drivers who kill pedestrians in the Bay Area are never charged, even when they are found to be at fault, an analysis by the Center for Investigative Reporting reveals. And the drivers who are charged face light punishments at best.

After several pilot projects testing bike access on Bay Area BART trains, BART officials recommended that bikes be allowed on trains at all hours and in all stations. This would be a big change from the current rules, where riders can’t bring bikes on trains or into the cramped 12th and 19th Street stations during peak commute hours.

California officials say they have a plan to stabilize bolts that failed earlier this year on the eastern span of the Bay Bridge.

AC Transit cancels fare hike, considers a decrease

May 1, 2013

Typically transit agencies raise prices as time goes by, not lower them. But AC Transit, the bus system that services Alameda and Contra Costa County in the East Bay Area, has canceled its fare increase scheduled for July – and it might even get cheaper to ride the bus. 

The bids are in to build San Francisco’s Central Subway project – and the price tag will be over $100 million more than the city expected.

The Central Subway will be a 1.7-mile tunnel under the heart of the city for Muni’s T-Third light rail line. The subway will finally provide a connection from the up-and-coming South of Market neighborhood to densely populated Chinatown.

California's high-speed rail gets first contractor

Apr 19, 2013

The first construction phase for California’s high-speed rail plan to link San Francisco and Los Angeles in under three hours has a builder. And the bid came in $200 million under expectations. 

The California High Speed Rail Authority has chosen the Tutor Perini/Zachry/Parsons joint venture as the winning bid for initial construction on the first 28-mile segment of the the line in California’s Central Valley between Madera and Fresno.

"Today is a significant milestone," Authority CEO Jeff Morales said in a statement. 

BART and unions begin contract negotiations

Apr 7, 2013

BART contracts for its union workers – who make up almost 90 percent of BART’s over 3,000 employees – are set to expire on June 30th. That’s sent BART and union leaders to the negotiating table. Both sides are hoping to avoid the bitter and contentious fight that happened during the last contract negotiations in the summer of 2009.

Last week, the Golden Gate Bridge switched to its new all-electronic tolling system. The change has been smooth, with just a few reports of confused drivers stopping at the toll plaza. For most people, it won’t be a big deal. Over three-quarters of commuters use Fastrak.

Anti-Islam ads return to Muni

Mar 13, 2013

Many San Franciscans were shocked by anti-Islam advertisements that appeared on ten Muni buses Monday. The ads show inflammatory quotes by Islamic fundamentalists accompanied by a picture of the speaker, an anonymous terrorist, and in one case, a victim. One shows a picture of Osama Bin Laden next to the quote: “The first thing that we are calling you is to Islam,” alongside an image of the burning World Trade Center.

Julie Caine

California has the worst track record in improving its highways, while spending twice the national average per mile.

BART fares and parking fees set to rise

Mar 7, 2013

Public transportation costs are set to rise in the Bay Area, a region with some of the most congested freeways and longest commute distances in the country. Last week, BART directors came together and voted to pass increases for ride fares and parking fees. These increases are designed to be small and incremental and to rise with inflation. The first fare hike will happen on January 1, 2014 and will raise prices by 5.2 percent. That means the average ride will go from $3.59 to $3.78. Further fare increases will be implemented every two years until 2020.

The average travel time to work in the United States is 25.4 minutes, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. Move around the map or enter your town or zip code to find commute times for your area. 

Starting this month, some kids in San Francisco can ride the bus for free. The new program, called Free Muni for Youth, aims to make life a little easier for the city’s low- and moderate-income families. The city estimates that 40,000 young people qualify for the program.

Parking a car-share vehicle in San Francisco is about to get easier. At least, the San Francisco Board of Supervisors hopes so. Last week, the Board passed an ordinance to allow residential developers to add more parking spots to their new apartment buildings – if those spots are dedicated for car-share programs.

The ordinance, which was proposed by Supervisor Scott Wiener, passed through the Board of Supervisors unanimously. But not everyone thinks it’s a good idea– and the main opponent is a little surprising.

When he came into office last year, San Francisco mayor Ed Lee said fixing Muni wasn’t a priority for him. But in his 2013 State of the City address, Mayor Lee devoted almost ten minutes of his speech to the often-reviled public transit system.

The best commute ever

Feb 7, 2013
Dan Suyeyasu of Oakland

If you met Stephen Linaweaver after 7am, you probably wouldn’t think he’s much different from any other Bay Area professional. He’s 38 years old. He works for a company that does sustainability consulting for corporations. He’s kind of outdoorsy. Whatever.

But if you met him before 7am, you’d definitely think he was unusual. For starters, you’d have to do what I did, which is drive down to the Port of Oakland before dawn and talk with him while he’s getting ready to launch his kayak into the Bay.

Back in December, we ran a story about Uber, the app that matches users to the closest town car or taxicab. Uber gets its money by charging its own rates, which can cost much more than a typical meter.

Listener Mark Gruberg called in to let us know that we missed something: that regular cabs are using apps, without the extra cost.

MUNI offers free passes to low-income SF youth

Dec 11, 2012

Last week, young people in San Francisco got some good news: starting in March, they’ll be able to ride MUNI free of charge. After a two-year campaign, the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency approved a 16-month pilot program that will allow low-income young people between five and seventeen to apply for free youth passes, which they can use to ride public transit in the city. KALW’s Julie Caine explains.

Click the audio player above to listen to the interview.

Brett Amory

Time spent riding BART or Muni can be one of the least inspiring parts of a parson's day. It’s a time spent mostly waiting to be somewhere else. Commuters with headphones snaked from ear to ear, eyes focused on smartphones and iPads, or on the pages of books and newspapers. On the train, it’s sometimes too loud to talk to anyone, even when you want to.

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