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  #41  
Old Posted Jan 10, 2010, 5:34 AM
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nice graphics on the central subway - too bad they dont reveal much design-wise.

does this count as bay area related? some might not think so but here is some info on some lesser known south bay area projects:

Quote:
Originally Posted by the salinas californian
Published Saturday, January 9, 2010, by The Salinas Californian

TAMC working to give Salinas commuter rail link to Silicon Valley

By Leslie Griffy

Sometime this decade, Salinas Valley residents who commute to Silicon Valley
could leave road rage behind.

A plan to extend commuter rail service from the Bay Area into Salinas is moving
along.

Transportation Agency for Monterey County planners are working on federal
environmental documents and engineering studies for the project. Approximately
5,400 Monterey County residents make the trek north for work every weekday,
according to an environmental study done on the plan. And those folks have to
drive.

"There is no real transit link between the Monterey County area and the Silicon
Valley jobs base," TAMC Project Manager Christina Watson said. "A lot of people
make the commute. We are looking at providing alternative forms of
transportation to reduce traffic and improve air quality in the basin."

The project has been in the works for nearly a decade. Once the engineering and
environmental studies are complete, design work and construction can begin.

Planners estimate that with stops in Salinas, Castroville and Pajaro, the
service could carry 720,000 passenger trips a year, Watson said. Santa Cruz
County is interested in chipping in for the cost of the Pajaro station because
many riders boarding will be county residents. The total cost of construction
for the line is estimated at $101 million.

It's unclear who would operate the line. The vision is for it to connect with or
be part of the Caltrain commuter rail system that runs from Gilroy to San
Francisco on weekdays. Monterey County transit leaders are in talks with
officials from Caltrain and the Capitol Corridor, a line that runs from San Jose
to Auburn.

With much of the right of way -- existing Union Pacific rail lines -- already
purchased, service could begin as soon as 2012.

About three years later, TAMC planner Kristen Hoschouer said, the agency hopes
to connect the Castroville station with a light rail service -- a local rapid
transit system with less hauling capacity than a heavy or commuter rail, to
Monterey.

The light rail would ease existing traffic on Highway 1 and limit the impact of
developments planned in Marina, officials said.

"We knew that we needed to look at alternative ways to get people to work
without having to drive, because we couldn't pave our way to ending traffic,"
Hoschouer said.

Here's a look at each project:

Commuter rail

* Estimated cost of building and studies: $101m, 62% federal, 27% state, 11%
local
* Operating costs: $1.2 million
* Times: Salinas-San Jose, 1 hour and 45 minutes; Salinas-San Francisco, 3 hours
* Schedule: 2 trains leaving Salinas in the morning, 2 returning in the evening.
* Path: Along Union Pacific rail lines from Salinas to Gilroy
* Service begins 2012.
* Stops: Salinas, Castroville, Pajaro.
* Passengers: 720,000 per year.

Light Rail

* Estimated cost of building and studies: $128.5m, 62% federal, 27% state, 11%
local.
* Operating costs: $4.3 million.
* 16 miles with stations between Monterey and Castroville.
* Service: begins in 2015
* Phase 1: Monterey to Marina
http://groups.yahoo.com/group/BATN/message/43713

an hour and 45 minutes from salinas to san jose?!?! u can drive in half that time
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  #42  
Old Posted Jan 10, 2010, 5:57 PM
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Lightbulb

Quote:
Originally Posted by northbay420 View Post
an hour and 45 minutes from salinas to san jose?!?! u can drive in half that time
Really? Yahoo Maps suggests San Jose to Salinas:
Distance: 59.78 miles, Time: 1 hour 4 minutes

Some simple math: 90 minutes / 64 minutes = 1.40.
Far less than twice as much time, even less than half as much time.
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  #43  
Old Posted Jan 10, 2010, 6:31 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by electricron View Post
Really? Yahoo Maps suggests San Jose to Salinas:
Distance: 59.78 miles, Time: 1 hour 4 minutes

Some simple math: 90 minutes / 64 minutes = 1.40.
Far less than twice as much time, even less than half as much time.
^where did u get 90 minutes from? an hour and 45 minutes is 105 minutes. and it doesnt take an hour 4 to get to salinas from sj - only if u drive like grandma. its 55/65 the whole way with most traffic goin 70 since there is little in between (no offense gilroy).
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  #44  
Old Posted Jan 10, 2010, 6:33 PM
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Yeah

They should establish a frequent intercity bus service and see how many people take it first.

In any case it would be much faster than a train rattling down old tracks.
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  #45  
Old Posted Jan 10, 2010, 7:55 PM
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^ or just spend alittle more and upgrade the tracks. i mean, what kind of rail line do u think u can get for 100 million? (a sh-tty one obviously)
if they upgraded to 79 mph, then it might actually be worthwhile.

and what about a stop in morgan hill?
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  #46  
Old Posted Jan 13, 2010, 5:07 PM
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Central Subway bests Barneys
Rachel Gordon
January 13 2010
sfgate.com
http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/blogs/...#ixzz0cVrzxxSO

The Board of Supervisors on Tuesday gave the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency the green light to reclaim a portion of a high-end retailer's basement sales area to make room for the $1.6 billion Central Subway project that will run from China Basin to Chinatown.

On a 10-0 vote, supervisors yanked permission for Barneys New York to use a portion of public space below a downtown sidewalk for a perfume and cosmetics counter.

The revocable permit was issued three years ago when the purveyor of luxury goods moved into the Union Square property at Stockton and O'Farrell streets.
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  #47  
Old Posted Jan 14, 2010, 1:20 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by northbay420 View Post
sonoma hasnt forgotton how marin shafted the north bay when it voted to be left out of the bart tax district. thats y we shoved smart down their throats.

i dream of a second golden gate crossing (an floating underwater tunnel maybe) to connect smart to the transbay terminal basically along the old proposed bart right of way along geary. smart could then use emus (or if doesnt want to electrify the entire line - hybrids - yes, they do exist and will probably be used for caltrain as the section to salinas wont be electrified), and hsr could continue to the north bay.

now unfortunately, THAT will never happen.
Hehe, always nice to look in the past...


orig here: http://www.flickr.com/photos/walking...n/photostream/
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  #48  
Old Posted Jan 14, 2010, 1:29 AM
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Commuters are leaving mass transit for their cars, and they have their reasons

Mercury News has a 5-parter on the dismal state of Bay Area transit. Here's part 1:

Quote:
Commuters are leaving mass transit for their cars, and they have their reasons

By Mike Rosenberg

Bay Area News Group
Posted: 01/09/2010 10:21:38 PM PST
Updated: 01/10/2010 12:41:41 PM PST

Special Section

* Running on Empty:
Bay Area Transportation in Trouble

The great debate for middle-class commuters — to drive or take transit — is now a no-brainer for many who are finding it cheaper and faster to take their cars.

The recession has changed the way commuters think. Gas prices are down and transit fares are up; freeway traffic is looser, while transit service is less frequent.

For three years, Veronique Selgado took BART from the East Bay to her job working for an airline at San Francisco International Airport. But she recently switched to driving because BART raised fares and upped its SFO round-trip surcharge from $3 to $8, boosting her daily trip cost to nearly $20.

"It's outrageous," Selgado said. "At what point do they stop raising the prices, when it's $50 a day to go round-trip to work? At what point does BART stand back and say, 'People can't pay that much to commute'?"

The math also stopped adding up for Castro Valley computer data analyst David Ross, 53. After BART and AC Transit raised fares, and BART started charging $1 to park at the Castro Valley station, he and his girlfriend began paying $14.25 each day on transportation. With gas at around $3 per gallon — the price in California has risen lately but is still down from the peak of $4.61 in 2008 — since October they have been paying $14.50 to drive and park in Oakland instead.

"The time savings is worth more than any costs," said Ross, who now leaves for work with his girlfriend each morning at 6:30 instead of 5:55.

Although transit riders often say they enjoy their commute more, ridership is dwindling by the day.

"I hate driving, I'll be honest," said 26-year-old Vicky Liaw. But after giving public transit a try, she drives anyway, from the Berryessa neighborhood of San Jose to her job in the purchasing department at Virgin America in Burlingame. She forks over $180 to $220 per month in gas because it simply takes her too long, about an hour and a half, to take transit to work.

The recession is not only changing the way people get around but also where they are going. Some commuters said they now try to work from home once or twice a week, or have begun looking for jobs closer to home.

Hercules resident Craig Watson, laid off from his electrical foreman position in San Francisco a year ago, decided to find a job closer to home largely to cut down on his public transportation bill. He now drives to his new job in nearby Richmond, and no longer has to spend $400 a month on BART tickets.

"Giving up public transportation has meant a significant boost to my income. I can literally make my car payment with the savings," said Watson, a single parent who is also using the extra money to feed his
family.

The shift in transportation cost and convenience is also putting some commuters in tricky ethical dilemmas: Should they continue to take transit for its societal benefits, or save personal time and money by driving? Some said they felt a sense of remorse for leaving transit, but the alternative was just too enticing to pass up.

Watson, a lifelong Bay Area resident, said he took pride in taking transit to reduce pollution and congestion. "But I must say, I'm actually feeling relieved financially and emotionally to abandon public transportation," he said.

Trip time also plays a major role in commuters' decision-making process.

Millbrae resident Robert Smith, 63, had taken BART and Golden Gate Transit to his job in Sausalito because his employer provided transit vouchers, but eventually he threw up his hands, bought a Honda Civic and started driving.

It took him 21/2 hours each way by train and bus, turning his nine-hour workday into a 14-hour endeavor. Now he drives, and it takes him 45 minutes each way, which he said is well worth the extra gas and toll bridge costs.

"It just got to the point where it was too much of a hassle time-wise," Smith said. "It's just not worth it."

Many commuters agree that, if convenience and cost were equal between transit and driving, they would ditch their cars in an instant. But all too often that's not the case, now more than ever.

Rick Mann loves public transit but hates the two hours and 15 minutes it takes him to walk from his Milpitas home to a transit station, catch a train, transfer to another train and then walk to his job as a software engineer in Sunnyvale.

So he drives instead. It takes him 10 to 15 minutes.

"I'm all for taking longer on public transit," said Mann, 40. "But that was too much — eight, nine times longer than what it would take driving. It really doesn't make any sense for me to take public transit to get to work."
source: http://www.mercurynews.com/bay-area-...on/ci_14142274
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  #49  
Old Posted Jan 14, 2010, 1:31 AM
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Public transit cuts will make Bay Area economic recovery difficult

Part 2:

Quote:
Public transit cuts will make Bay Area economic recovery difficult

By Mike Rosenberg

mrosenberg@bayareanewsgroup.com
Posted: 01/11/2010 12:00:00 AM PST
Updated: 01/11/2010 06:20:14 AM PST

Special Section

* Running on Empty:
Bay Area Transportation in Trouble

The Bay Area may be headed down a longer, bumpier road in its journey from recession to recovery if public transit continues to carry fewer commuters.

As the region attempts to push toward economic recovery in 2010, transit agencies expect to be moving in the opposite direction, stuck offering service levels and fares established during the downturn - or worse.

Experts question whether transit operators will be ready when residents start getting back to work, and whether service funding problems will in turn slow the region's economic recovery.

"I think it's going to be a tough ride because what we're starting to see at some of the agencies are cuts that are getting so severe that they're going to make transit not truly functional
for many workers," said Stuart Cohen, executive director for Oakland-based TransForm, a transportation and land-use nonprofit.

When that happens, the "wine bottle" effect will kick in, predicts transportation expert Rod Diridon, whose name adorns the San Jose Caltrain station. Like a wine bottle narrowing at its neck, traffic flows smoothly until it reaches a point where additional cars can no longer fit.

"Then we're going to be running into terminal gridlock like a brick wall," Diridon said. Cohen predicted traffic at "unprecedented levels after the economy rebounds."

Traffic jams are not only frustrating but also damaging to the economy. Last year they cost Bay Area companies $3.6 billion in lost productivity, according to the Texas Transportation Institute, which studies metropolitan regions.

"The economy follows transportation," Diridon said.

There is a potential bright side for transit agencies: Frustrated drivers may decide enough is enough, and trade their car keys for transit passes. This could give transit agencies the boost they need to rebound financially.

"In the future, our congestion and gas prices are both going to soar," said Erin Steva, a California Public Interest Research Group transportation advocate. "(Transit) is soon going to be the better option."

The precedent occurred in summer 2008 when train and bus ridership boomed amid record gas prices, although transit service and fares were better then.

The economic impacts of the current fare increases and service cuts will not be known for some time, but past troubles have provided some lessons.

AC Transit cut its service by 12 percent and raised fares by 15 cents in 1996, saving the agency $4.8 million annually. But it cost riders $48.1 million in added transportation costs, lost income and extra travel time, according to an independent 1998 study.

Already, for every dollar Bay Area public agencies spend on transportation, commuters pay $7.40, a $4.6 billion to $34 billion annual ratio, says a TransForm report released in November. The average Bay Area household would save $5,540 annually if their public transportation access was equivalent to what the best 20 percent of the region has, such as dense areas in San Francisco, TransForm said.

To reach those savings, those communities would need to invest billions in major transit expansions, such as BART's $1.5 billion extension to San Francisco International Airport and its planned $6.1 billion project to reach San Jose.

"A better transportation system will cost public money, meaning new taxes and fees," said Steve Heminger, executive director of the Bay Area Metropolitan Transportation Commission. In the MTC's 25-year plan, $4 of every $5 will be devoted toward maintaining "what we already have," he said.

Transportation woes could also hurt business growth. New companies vying to become the next Google, Oracle or Yahoo are less likely to launch in the Bay Area if they think workers won't be able to get to work quickly and inexpensively, said Jim Wunderman, CEO of the Bay Area Council, a leading business group.

"We need to be ready for the recovery," Wunderman said.

Manufacturers also will move out, leaving behind jobs and tax bases, if trucking costs skyrocket because of added congestion, said California Trucking Association Chairman Robert Ramorino, a Belmont resident who owns Roadstar Trucking in Hayward.

Longer trucking trips hurt fuel economy and reduce the total number of trips drivers can make, which boosts shipping costs and consumer prices, Ramorino said.

It's also true that money commuters spend on transit is much more likely to stay in the local economy than the cash they fork over to drive.

Cities and local governments only keep a small fraction of gas tax revenues, and because of advances in car technology that have made gas tanks more efficient, motorists are filling up less often, said interim Caltrans CFO Norma Ortega.

Transit fares, meanwhile, are deposited directly into local public transportation budgets. This reduces outside financial assistance from local taxpayers, typically through either transit-specific taxes or county subsidies.
source: http://www.mercurynews.com/bay-area-...on/ci_14142149
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  #50  
Old Posted Jan 14, 2010, 1:34 AM
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Biggest loser in Bay Area transit debacle may be the environment

Day 3

Quote:
Biggest loser in Bay Area transit debacle may be the environment

By Mike Rosenberg

mrosenberg@bayareanewsgroup.com
Posted: 01/11/2010 01:51:00 PM PST
Updated: 01/11/2010 09:47:25 PM PST

Special Section

* Running on Empty:
Bay Area Transportation in Trouble

In the war over the future of public transit in the eco-obsessed Bay Area, the biggest casualty could prove to be the environment.

Without a doubt, air quality inventories show that the best way to cut greenhouse gases in the region is by removing cars from the road.

However, with the cost to drive plummeting and fare increases and service cuts making transit less practical, transit agencies are having problems retaining their old passengers, let alone attracting new ones. If that continues, the effects could be dramatic — more cars on the road could endanger human health, produce hazier air and contribute to rising sea levels.

California is the 12th-largest source of global warming emissions worldwide, according to the Union of Concerned Scientists.

A nasty chunk of those pollutants originate in the Bay Area, where cars and trucks are the largest source of ozone precursor emissions, according to Bay Area Air Quality Management District inventories. Vehicles account for 35 percent of all reactive organic gases and 45 percent of nitrogen oxides in the region, according to the air district.

If commuters keep ditching transit for their cars, the problem will get worse. Each transit rider who switches to a 20-mile round-trip drive produces an additional 4,800 pounds of carbon dioxide emissions each year, a 10 percent increase in a two-car household's total carbon footprint, according to the American Public Transportation Association.

It is possible to curb driver emissions through other means, such as carpooling or greener vehicles, but the most powerful option may be transit.

Chris Peeples, vice president of AC Transit's board of directors, said the service cuts and fare increases that every major local transit agency has implemented recently are a blow to the Bay Area's crusade against greenhouse gases because they make it harder for commuters to get around without a car.

"The number of areas where you can get around completely on public transit are pretty limited," said Peeples, a 12-year board member who travels primarily by transit. "Every time you cut public transit, it becomes more limited."

Moreover, the environmental benefits of buses, diesel locomotives and electric rail cars are not realized unless enough commuters are riding, says Mikhail Chester, a postdoctoral researcher who studied green transportation at UC-Berkeley for six years. That's an issue in the Bay Area, where agencies have lost 66,000 daily passengers in just the past year.

Chester's study, published in June, looks "beyond the tailpipe" at 120 factors — from concrete and asphalt production to train and car manufacturing — to determine each mode of travel's real carbon footprint in the Bay Area. Chester and UC-Berkeley professor Arpad Horvath found that transit commuters have smaller carbon footprints than drivers only if the trains and buses are fairly full.

For instance, they discovered that a commuter driving an SUV with one passenger would have the same carbon footprint, per mile traveled, as a commuter on a bus carrying eight passengers. Similarly, a commuter on a light-rail train that is 34 percent full has the same environmental effect, per mile traveled, as a solo driver in a sedan.

Transit companies have an opportunity, however, to change that equation by investing money to make their fleets greener, much in the way automakers are rolling out more hybrids and cleaner cars.

Their funding problems, though, have erased many opportunities to do just that.

Most Bay Area operators have tested expensive zero-emission buses that use hydrogen fuel cell technology, but they have not had enough money for any mass rollouts. In some cases, the technology is not fiscally sustainable: The Valley Transportation Authority, for instance, says it costs about 32 times as much to operate a fuel cell bus as a traditional, dirtier diesel vehicle.

Caltrain has plans to electrify its diesel locomotive system, but it recently ran out of money in the environmental planning process.

The environmental problems are ironic because, before their funding problems, transit agencies said they had experienced a growing number of commuters citing the environmental benefits as a reason for riding. One-fourth of Caltrain riders, for instance, now say they ride in part because it is a greener commute, up from 10 percent in 2003.
source: http://www.mercurynews.com/bay-area-...on/ci_14166899
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  #51  
Old Posted Jan 14, 2010, 1:38 AM
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Running on empty: Bay Area transit in crisis

I think this might have been the Day 1 lead-in. I'm a little confused by the order on the Mercury News Site. Anyways, the entire series is here, I'll post the next couple days if I remember. Here's the entire Special Section page on it: http://www.mercurynews.com/bay-area-transportation

Quote:
Running on empty: Bay Area transit in crisis

By Mike Rosenberg

Bay Area News Group
Posted: 01/09/2010 10:19:56 PM PST
Updated: 01/10/2010 12:41:19 PM PST

Special Section

* Running on Empty:
Bay Area Transportation in Trouble

* Jan 9:
* Commuters are leaving mass transit for their cars, and they have their reasons

After enduring the most brutal year in the history of Bay Area public transit, train and bus operators are barreling down a track toward bankruptcy.

The near-inevitable result will be costlier and longer commutes for all, whether they ride or drive.

From BART to Caltrain to the Valley Transportation Authority, every Bay Area transit agency has increased fares and reduced train and bus service to plug deep budget holes. But the changes have produced fewer riders and even less revenue — leading some to worry that the transit system has entered a death spiral.

Already, more than a million riders are spending extra money and time each day just to get around. And a staggering 66,000 daily riders have abandoned Bay Area transit in the past year — twice the number of drivers that go through the Dumbarton Bridge toll plaza every day.

Six major agencies — BART, VTA, Caltrain, SamTrans on the Peninsula, County Connection in the East Bay and Golden Gate Transit — have lost at least 7 percent of their riders in the last year. Some officials fear they'll never get them back.

While the Bay Area may be facing an especially alarming situation, transit agencies nationwide have lost 6 percent of their riders in the past year as they struggle through the recession.

One former rider is East Oakland resident Niara Nandi, who had taken Bay Area buses and trains all her life. By November, she'd gotten so fed up with paying higher prices for less service that she forked over $500 for a 1987 Honda Accord "clunker."

The personal caregiver now drives to her clients in Contra Costa County, slicing her daily commute time from three hours via AC Transit and BART to just one.

"I didn't want to spend money on gas, because gas was so high. But now it's the opposite," said Nandi, 46. Gas in California has dropped by $1.57 a gallon from its peak in 2008, adding to transit's challenge of keeping riders.

And transit agencies are warning that the worst may be yet to come.

Consider the plight of BART. The agency's financial hole has only deepened since it recently phased out 100 jobs, hiked fares more than 6 percent, upped parking rates, and started running three trains an hour instead of four on weeknights and weekends. BART has lost $32 million in sales tax revenue in the past 12 months, and it has seen $129 million in state subsidies disappear in the last three years.

The problems of rising costs, vanishing state subsidies and declining tax revenues are shared by all 28 of the area's transit agencies. Without fundamental changes, these Bay Area transit agencies project a cumulative budget shortfall in 25 years of $8.5 billion, and
a capital projects deficit of $17.2 billion.

In other words, as a recent report by the regional Metropolitan Transportation Commission concluded, their current track leads to bankruptcy.

Transit agency officials began fighting back in late 2009 by joining forces with regional transportation officials and outside experts to form the Transit Sustainability Project, which may lead to transit mergers, more efficient service and new taxes by 2012.

The effects of the transit crisis reach far beyond those who ride buses and trains.

Dozens of transit executives, transportation experts, commuters, business leaders and politicians interviewed for this series agree: The trouble facing Bay Area transit is certain to pack more congestion on roads, cripple the region's ability to rebound from the current recession, increase the region's contribution to global warming and disrupt the lives of those who rely on public transportation.

Paying more for less

One of transit's main problems these days is simple, brutal arithmetic.

The average Bay Area commute is 24 miles round-trip. Someone who drives a car that gets 24 miles a gallon is saving $1.57 on gas each day compared with the peak in 2008. Most daily transit tickets, in contrast, are 50 cents to $1 costlier than last year, even with discount bulk passes. That's a swing of about $2 to $2.50 each weekday — or an annual hit of $520 to $650 for the transit alternative.

El Cerrito resident Katie Murphy, 50, has her own version of that equation. She began vanpooling to work at the University of California-San Francisco in October, having grown tired of the BART and Muni fare increases and the time-consuming commute. Three days a week on the van is saving her $60 a month, and it's adding up for her family.

"My salary was cut at the same time they were raising fares," said Murphy, an event and alumni coordinator. The money she has saved "is pretty much absorbed into just making ends meet. I think it has actually helped our budget to have that extra little bit of money."

Beyond cost, commuters are also finding it less convenient to take trains and buses.

Because of recent funding problems, BART weeknight and weekend riders now have to wait up to 20 minutes for a train to arrive. Non-commute time Caltrain riders can find themselves stuck on platforms for an hour. Thousands of bus riders in the East Bay, South Bay, Peninsula and San Francisco, including many elderly and low-income residents, have seen their routes vanish.

Even commuters who take the area's most transit-friendly trips may now find driving a more efficient option.

Eight Bay Area News Group reporters recently took four commutes into downtown San Francisco, San Jose, Oakland and Walnut Creek, with one reporter driving and the other taking transit. In each case, the driver arrived at least a half-hour earlier. Other than the trip to downtown San Francisco, which was much costlier for the driver because of the price of parking, the trip price varied by only a few dollars.

The problem is that as the region's economy strengthens over the next few years, its highways are certain to jam up again. But it is an open question how many of the transit options that commuters abandoned will still be around, awaiting their return.

Transit goes broke

The pace of the developing transit crisis accelerated recently and continues to gain steam. Bay Area transit operators began losing local revenues because of the recession and have been stripped of $532 million in state aid during the past three years, including $77 million at the VTA and $60 million at AC Transit. California is now one of 15 states that provides no state subsidy for transit.

Transit operators responded by taking routes away from riders and charging them more, resulting in fewer riders and even less revenue.

"You tend to get into this vicious cycle," said UC Transportation Center Director Robert Cervero.

The VTA, which saw its budget gap quadruple to $98 million in just four months last year, is cutting bus service by 8 percent and light rail operations by nearly 7 percent starting on Monday.

Caltrain recently faced such dire money woes that its board declared a fiscal emergency. It could have tripled fares and still faced a shortfall. SamTrans eliminated all but one express route and increased fares by 25 cents, but it reduced its $28.4 million deficit by just $7.3 million.

AC Transit, trying to overcome a $57 million deficit, will slash 8.4 percent of its bus service in March to save $9.6 million. County Connection has lost one-fifth of its revenue and eliminated one-fourth of its service. Muni changed nearly half its bus routes in December and raised round-trip fares by a dollar.

For all, a long-term deficit remains.

Historic troubles

Authorities agree that the current fiscal crisis, and the way transit agencies have had to react, is unprecedented.

"I think this is by far the most difficult time we've seen in public transit," said AC Transit Board Vice President Chris Peeples, a 12-year board member and 30-year transit rider. "We've had ups and downs with changes in the economy, but this is the worst. With a serious recession and the state taking away local transit money, the chickens are coming home to roost."

Early last decade, in the wake of the dot-com crash and the post-Sept. 11 recession, Caltrain ridership plunged. Still, the agency had enough money to invest in more service to raise revenues. The operator began construction on an expansion in 2002. It introduced the baby bullet train in June 2004, then quickly began running 22 of the zippy trains per day. That service is now Caltrain's most popular and economically efficient.

Officials say that strategy was not an option this time around. With nothing in reserve and a bigger deficit, Caltrain has cut eight of its 98 weekday trains to stay afloat.

The circumstance is hardly unique.

"This is certainly the biggest deficit that BART has ever encountered in its over 37 years of operations," said BART spokeswoman Luna Salaver, referring to the agency's four-year, $310 million budget gap, spurred in part by its largest-ever sales tax revenue drop.

Even the most optimistic transit officials say they won't return to better financial footing until ridership rises and taxpayer subsidies return — and that will take years.

And it might not be possible without new taxes and investments, plus more efficient service. So far, none of the major transit agencies has been able to figure out how to get there.

"I'm not sure that the Answer, with a capital A, exists," said Metropolitan Transportation Commission spokesman John Goodwin.

In the meantime, there seems to be little to do but cut.

"It's hard; we don't want to reduce service, and yet we have to balance the books every year," said Gigi Harrington, deputy CEO of Caltrain and SamTrans. She warned: "As we tighten and we tighten and we tighten, there's fewer places to go to."

Nandi, the East Oakland caregiver, has seen the effects of the Bay Area transit problems every day, just by looking out the window at an AC Transit stop.

"I see people walking rather than catching buses," she said, "and I know it's because they can't afford it."

Bay Area News Group staff writers Denis Cuff and Gary Richards contributed to this report. Contact Mike Rosenberg at 650-348-4324.

The impact

66,000: Daily riders who have abandoned Bay Area transit in the past year

$8.5 billion: Bay Area transit agencies" projected cumulative budget shortfall in 25 years

$520: Increased annual cost of commuting by transit rather than driving, compared with June 2008
source: http://www.mercurynews.com/bay-area-...nclick_check=1
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  #52  
Old Posted Jan 14, 2010, 1:43 AM
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I used to get a FastPass every month and ride Muni whenever I could. I stopped doing that when they raised the price to $55. That's too much simply for the convenience of the pass and only makes sense if I'm going to use Muni enough to actually save--which is unlikely.

Much as I hate it, I've actually contemplated joining the large numbers who do it and simply boarding through the rear door without paying until Muni comes to its senses and stops raising fares for the diminishing number who pay while tolerating so many who don't.
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Old Posted Jan 14, 2010, 7:27 AM
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FastPasses are now $60 for Muni only, or $70 for Muni plus in-town BART.
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Old Posted Jan 14, 2010, 5:45 PM
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I don't know if this is apples to apples but Portland's TriMet charges around $100 for a monthly pass.
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Old Posted Jan 14, 2010, 5:53 PM
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Wow those articles are depressing.
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Old Posted Jan 14, 2010, 6:11 PM
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I don't know if this is apples to apples but Portland's TriMet charges around $100 for a monthly pass.
I have no experience of that system so I can't compare them directly either, but SF has an official "transit first policy" and does everything it can to discourage car use, mainly by narrowing streets to create bicycle lanes and forcing a lot of new construction not to have parking.

This effectively means that if transit itself isn't convenient, ubiquitous and CHEAP, the quality of life is degraded. As I said, at under $50 a month, I bought a monthly pass just for the convenience (no fishing for exact fare, the ability to hop on a bus even for fairly short trips, being able to use cable cars which have ridiculous single-trip fares) and many months probably didn't ride enough to make it a bargain since I live downtown in a 100% walk-score neighborhood.

I can't and won't buy a pass at over $50 and wouldn't even consider it at $100. Hence, Muni is losing money on me (because I don't actually ride $50 worth--figuring a trip downtown and back 4 days a week at $2 a ride, it's more like $30 or $40 worth). And I don't think I'm that unique.

Right now, the cheapest way for me to go would be tokens which give you a small discount and allow you to pay only for the rides you take.
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Old Posted Jan 14, 2010, 6:25 PM
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Via Pedestrianist, a map using BART ridership data showing where BART's riders go.

BART ridership is clearly huge into and out of downtown SF, unsurprisingly:

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Old Posted Jan 14, 2010, 6:43 PM
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I don't know if this is apples to apples but Portland's TriMet charges around $100 for a monthly pass.
Not really. TriMet covers a MUCH larger area than Muni does, in population, geography, and percentage of the metro. Even the $70 Muni/BART pass only covers travel within SF. If there was some type of pass that covered Muni, AC Transit, Golden Gate Transit, SamTrans, and at least some BART trips outside of SF, then we might be talking apples-to-apples. I certainly long for a day when transit in the Bay Area is even half as coordinated as it is in the Portland metro, but I'm not holding my breath.
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Old Posted Jan 14, 2010, 9:16 PM
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^Agreed. Portland has only one transit agency, which covers the entire metropolitan area with rail and bus. That one unified transit system is itself a result of Portland's elected regional government, neither of which exists in the Bay Area.

TriMet's transit pass gets you anywhere in the Portland metro that has transit service, so it is worth a hell of a lot more than any one agency's pass within the greater Bay Area. Whether it is worth $100 I cannot say.
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Old Posted Jan 14, 2010, 9:48 PM
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Right now, the cheapest way for me to go would be tokens which give you a small discount and allow you to pay only for the rides you take.
I thought they discontinued tokens forever ago?

I use TransLink for 100% of my transit rides. Right now it's functional on Muni, BART, AC Transit, Golden Gate Transit, Golden Gate Ferry (at HUGE discounts I might add - like $4 on TransLink vs. $8 normal fare), and Caltrain. Other than a few broken readers and some grumpy Muni drivers, as well as a website and customer service call center that are clearly works in progress, I haven't had any huge problems. And no fishing for exact change, which is GREAT on AC Transit and Muni, since their buses are so credit card unfriendly.

Plus, Muni's doing away with their faregates and installing TransLink only gates this coming year (no cash accepted, no magstripe Fast Passes accepted), so it helps to get used to the system and become a typical impatient SF snob before every BTinSF has to spend 5 minutes in front of the gate figuring out how to hop on the Metro
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