Category Archives: California

The 3 Essential Ingredients for Cooking Up Transit That People Want to Ride

Streetsblog USA via California Rail News

Speed. Routes should be direct, instead of cutting labyrinthine paths across a city. Fare payment needs to be fast and easy, via off-board fare collection or tap-and-go entry at every door. Transit can’t get bogged down in traffic, either, so features like dedicated space on the street and priority at traffic lights are needed to keep things moving.
Frequency and Reliability. People won’t ride transit if they can’t depend on it…
Walkability and Accessibility. Transit works best when people can walk to it. That means both concentrating transit in compact, walkable places, and making it easier to walk to transit in places where pedestrian infrastructure is lacking…
On the Dublin buses you can pay your fare with a tap card. Passengers can walk past the farebox next to the driver to tap the card reader and not wait behind cash paying riders to dig out their money.


Trump’s ‘sanctuaries’ crackdown imperils transportation projects

A tunnel under New York’s Hudson River may be imperiled. In Los Angeles, millions of dollars could be at stake for port improvements. And other communities’ hopes for major transportation projects could be caught in the crossfire as President Donald Trump threatens to strip federal funding from “sanctuary cities” that defy his immigration policies.
Considering that Boston, New York, Chicago, San Francisco, Los Angeles and Washington, D.C., have all declared themselves sanctuaries for undocumented immigrants, Trump’s reprisals could end up canceling or delaying major infrastructure projects in some of the nation’s most congested areas — even as the administration touts a $1 trillion proposal to rebuild the United States’ roads, railroads, bridges and airports.

Read More

Congressional Republican threats to Caltrain funding could cripple Bay Area’s growth

Caltrain has a problem.

Passenger numbers are exploding thanks to the Bay Area’s tech boom, and service has not kept up with demand. Peak trains are full, and it is difficult to find the capacity to run more. Service frequency is the same as it was in the late 2000s, but daily ridership has grown from 36,000 in 2009 to 62,000 in 2016.

Riding outside rush hour is no better: off-peak trains don’t come frequently enough, and take more than an hour and a half to go between San Francisco and San Jose.

All of Caltrain’s problems have solutions. These involve smart investments in better service and one of the keys is the Caltrain electrification project. For $2 billion, it would wire the line between San Francisco and San Jose and buy new high-performance electric trains, reducing local travel time by twenty minutes.

And yet, the Republican Party is threatening to cancel the project.

New BART rail car crashes at testing facility

During a trial run at Bay Area Rapid Transit‘s (BART) testing facility last week, one of the agency’s new “Fleet of the Future” rail cars crashed into a sand box after a brake problem.

One of BART’s new ‘Fleet of the Future’ rail cars.
Photo: BART’s YouTube account

A wire running from testing equipment to the car shorted out when it was pinched in a cabinet door, causing the car’s auxiliary power supply to shut down, BART officials said Wednesday.

As a result, once the fluid in the accumulator had been expended it couldn’t be replenished, which meant that the friction brakes didn’t have enough fluid to completely stop the car.

That type of failure can only occur with a single car because other cars in a train would normally carry through the braking process, BART officials said.

The crash occurred as the car was moving under 5 mph.

There was no malfunction of the train or operator error during the April 22 incident, agency officials said. The crash won’t affect the rollout of BART’s new rail cars, some of which are slated to enter service in fall.

“The car functioned exactly as it was supposed to function given the conditions, and the operators did exactly what they were supposed to do,” said BART chief Maintenance and Engineering Officer Tamar Allen.

BART refurbishing scrapped train cars to boost service

As BART riders feel the crush, the beleaguered transit agency is trying everything it can to ease crowded commuter cars.

Now, BART is even looking to the trash heap.

In a statement released Wednesday, BART announced a small increase in train cars to serve riders. But these aren’t brand new cars off the assembly line. Instead, they’re “banged-up” train cars found in the “forlorn corners” of Hayward and Richmond train repair shops.

These cars are often salvaged for spare parts, according to BART, but a “handful of MacGyver-like mechanics and imaginative engineers” resurrected 14 broken-down train cars for service.

“We wanted to accept the challenge to repair these cars, because we know that we only have a limited number,” said John Allen, a transit vehicle mechanic at the Hayward maintenance shop, in the news release.

The cars have varying levels of damage. According to the BART, some were scorched by electricity, others had melted floors, and one may have run over a tree. This means they also have varying repair times.

According to BART, the project will increase the percentage of train cars in service from 86 percent of trains in service to 89 percent. Each car, they said, can hold up to 140 people in a crowd.

Jeff Hobson, deputy director of transportation advocacy group TransForm, lauded the efforts to run more trains during crowded commute periods.

Still, he said, riders should remember how BART got into the crowding mess in the first place.

“Yes, this is definitely a good thing,” he said, but “the big question is, what do they do to make sure they don’t get into this bind in the future?”

“The reason we’re here is 10-15 years ago (BART) expanded the system, and didn’t maintain the existing system,” Hobson said. Expanding the number of stations served without boosting numbers of cars, he said, strained BART.

Though BART is now doing a better job in maintaining the system it has, he said, “we need to make sure that focus remains.”

That’s the kind of effort BART Board of Directors member Nick Josefowitz told the Examiner BART is pushing, more and more.

“During rush hour, BART cars are stuffed like sardine cans. Our riders are demanding relief,” he said.

Josefowitz mentioned another of these efforts: a partnership with the San Francisco County Transportation Authority to craft an incentives to lure riders away from peak times, to ease crowding.

“While true relief won’t come until the new cars start arriving in 2017,” Josefowitz said, “we’re doing all we can to get every last one of our cars out of the shops and onto the tracks.”

In 2016 BART’s “Fleet of the Future” will arrive, and will continue to integrate into the main fleet through 2017. Those new cars are expected to ease crowding in a big way.

Until then, he said, every little bit helps.

Lines West: Railroads in Western US

We have a great WebSite

Lines West: Railroads in Western US

This site focuses on railroads in Western United States. It includes a feature on Winslow, Arizona where some friends stayed a few years ago. At top is the old station and Sante Fe Railroad hotel.

Winslow, Arizona Clear Creek bridge
Winslow, Arizona Clear Creek bridge

Our feature articles are

Pacific Railroad Act of 1864 that got things started in Arizona and led to what is now Santa Fe’s Transcon route.

BART and San Francisco.

La Posada Hotel, the “last great railroad hotel,” built in 1929 for the Santa Fe Railway.

Historic Route 66

Did auto, oil conspiracy put the brakes on trolleys?

Surfline California: Doubletracking or a tunnel?

See KC Jones BLOG about Railroad History

The Black Mesa and Lake Powell Railroad is currently the only privately owned electrified railroad used specifically for freight service.


Warner Bros VIP Studio Tour


Last week I had the chance to go to the Warner Bros VIP Tour. With a group of people from school I went to Burbank. It was sunny; I had ‘Vanilla Bane’ and ‘Superman Salted Caramel’ ice-cream. It was a great start, and things got even better.

First we were brought into a screening room, where they showed a short movie about Warner Bros and the many films that it has created. There was The Life of Emile Zola, Casablanca, and My Fair Lady from ages past. There was our beloved Harry PotterThe Lord of the Rings, and The Matrix. And of course, there is FriendsPretty Little Liars, The Ellen Degeneres Show, and too many other awesome works to get us excited.

We then went into a tour cart and drove around the lot. It was fairly empty, but the buildings were beautiful. Each street…

View original post 456 more words