Category: Transit Page 1 of 2

“The Great Car Reset”

Richard Florida writes in The Atlantic about “The Great Car Reset,” based largely on some good data from Nate Silver (which needs an update) and an Advertising Age article. From the Atlantic post:

“Lasting prosperity requires investment in a new and more efficient economic system. We’ll never get there if we continue to spend every last penny on houses, cars, and energy.”

In dense urban areas like where I live, a car is a burden, not a convenience. Yes, there are a lot of places where it’d be very hard to live without one, but this is an interesting trend nevertheless… and the conclusions seem sound.

Certain things just cost more as a percentage of income than they did in previous generations, so (in the absence of some kind of income reform) people are slowly changing their behavior.

The Bay Bridge is closing Labor Day Weekend.

Just in case you didn’t know. Here’s a nice little widget about it. I’m mostly posting this just because I like this little flash thing:

[Edit 7/19/10: Oh, well, took it down.]

Take BART (which will be running 24 hours a day) over Labor Day weekend and avoid accidentally driving into the Bay.

[Edit 7/19/10: Hmm, I wrote this before someone actually DID drive off the bridge and die. Maybe I should rephrase it. Nah, I’ll stick by it.]

Missive from downtown Oakland

Well, I’m okay, after all the protests that turned into scattered rioting within a 10-block radius of my apartment.

Here are some pictures of what happened tonight; people protested and rioted in response to a BART police officer killing a 22-year-old BART rider in the early morning hours of January 1st, a week ago.

My recap based on the aerial footage and reporting that was all over local TV tonight: The protest was relatively peaceful when it moved from Fruitvale BART to Lake Merritt BART (the next stop down the line). Police closed then re-opened those stations as the crowds grew and shrunk. The protest got rowdier as it moved to 12th Street/Oakland City Center (the next stop, and the closest to Oakland City Hall [and incidentally my workplace at 350 Frank Ogawa Plaza]).

my Bay Area first after six years

I slept through my BART stop.

Coming back from SFO to 19th Street is nearly an hour ride. I slept through most of it, waking up briefly at 24th and Mission, Montgomery, and right when the doors closed at my stop. Oops.

(I’m writing this at MacArthur, waiting for the train home–a little too keyed up to fall asleep again.)

The Things He Carried

Jeffrey Goldberg writes about the “hopelessness” of airport security in The Atlantic:

During one secondary inspection, at O’Hare International Airport in Chicago, I was wearing under my shirt a spectacular, only-in-America device called a “Beerbelly,” a neoprene sling that holds a polyurethane bladder and drinking tube. The Beerbelly, designed originally to sneak alcohol—up to 80 ounces—into football games, can quite obviously be used to sneak up to 80 ounces of liquid through airport security. … My Beerbelly, which fit comfortably over my beer belly, contained two cans’ worth of Bud Light at the time of the inspection. It went undetected. The eight-ounce bottle of water in my carry-on bag, however, was seized by the federal government.

Cars won’t always rule the world and its cities

From “Cars won’t always rule the world and its cities” by architect Arrol Gellner in the SF Chronicle:

“history has a way of casually demolishing institutions that seem impregnable”

Driving alone at 2 am at the Mall of America — on Christmas

So I’m finally posting this raw footage, roughly cut together, from the very end of my trip to Minneapolis at Christmas 2006. Enjoy?

I was very tired.

The Carolinian approaches the Kannapolis, NC Amtrak Station, May 28, 2009


This kind of thing (previously) seems to tend to happen right around the time I’m about to take a long trip on Amtrak. Or maybe that’s when I most notice it.

I did ride 13 hours on Amtrak last Thursday, and it was pretty uneventful and relaxing. It was also supposed to be an 11-hour ride (which is a fairly typical delay, I think). And I’ve had a great time in North Carolina with my family. But how long, I wonder, will my scheduled 13-hour trip from Kannapolis to Manhattan take tomorrow?

Speaking of NYC, I enjoyed Yankee Stadium way more than I expected to.

The transit dilemma

Sacramento River Cats Logo

Say you wanted to go from Oakland, California to Sacramento, California, a distance of 80 miles, to catch a Friday night Sacramento Rivercats game. (They’re a minor-league baseball team.) And you wanted to take public transit and come back the same night. That seems possible.

116 hours round-trip

Descriptors for my and Amber’s recently completed trip to San Francisco: enjoyable. fun. exhausting. heartbreaking. inspiring.

It was all that and more. We enjoyed each other’s company. But let’s talk about Amtrak first. Two and a half days on the train (a total of 116 hours or so round-trip—but who’s counting?) was hard to take—though it was almost entirely due to the lack of good scenery in northeastern and north-central Montana, the miniscule number of food choices for vegetarians on the Empire Builder, our inability to really, um, go anywhere on the train [other than in the direction it pointed, without any effort on our part], the disturbing lack of facilities for washing oneself in “coach”, and not in any way due to the company. I take that back. It was great fun being with Amber, but some of the other people were not so companionable.

Example: the woman who felt it necessary to discuss her legal problems [including an interstate custody battle for which she did not want to go to California] with a (conceited) country lawyer, right behind us, very loudly, at 11 pm, two days after we first got on the train, when we [and several others around us] desperately needed sleep. That was unpleasant.

On the trip back, the Coast Starlight was 2 hours late getting to Emeryville (near Berkeley), CA, and we were scheduled only 1 1/2 hours of layover time in Portland to catch the Empire Builder on the final leg of our journey. This wasn’t the worst part. We were stopped somewhere in rural Oregon, nowhere near a station, when the conductor announced that there was “a minor medical emergency” and that we would wait for the paramedics. Rumors quickly spread of a man who was suffering heart attack symptoms. We never saw an ambulance, however. Instead we saw a woman arrested outdoors by three law enforcement officers, after her luggage was seized from our car and searched. I personally saw the cuffs being put onto her wrists. The medical emergency seemed to have been a weak cover story.

The results of the lateness of that train: we had to take a bus from Eugene, OR to Portland; we basically had to run from the bus to the train, which was departing mere minutes after our arrival; we were therefore unable to replenish our supply of trail mix, fruits, and vegetables in the (very palatial and pleasant) Portland train depot; we were therefore forced to eat more pre-packaged “vegetable patties,” complete with bun and egg-white binding agent, than we ever would have wanted to.

116 hours.

SF was great though—Haight-Ashbury, Guided by Voices (such super-skilled rock musicians!) free at Amoeba Records (a surprisingly great show for free!), a sunny day in Golden Gate Park, an incredible wealth of great art at SFMOMA (including a brilliant site-specific installation by Sarah Sze called “Things Fall Apart” made of a chopped-up Jeep Cherokee, strings, wires, and a sculptural collage of organic and inorganic elements that I can’t do justice to here). The food was great and cheap—Nick knows where to go. Don’t miss Intermezzo on Telegraph in Berkeley, among others.

We got to get out of Minneapolis as well—a good thing, except that the Bay Area has a way of making Minneapolis look brown, boring, and uptight, and feel very, very cold. Sigh.

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