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Oakland Airport Connector Goes Down For the 3rd Time Since Opening

Posted on January 24, 2016 at 11:55 PM Comments comments (0)

Just minutes ago, the Oakland Airport Connector achieved something quite rare: Being delayed. In fact, the Connector completely shut down for about five minutes tonight, January 24th.


At the same time of the shutdown, an equipment problem near West Oakland was underway, which we attribute to the temporary shutdown of the Connector.


This is the third time the Airport Connector has gone down since its grand opening on November 22nd, 2014. The service between Coliseum BART and Oakland International Airport has an on-line performance of over 99%, much higher than the rest of the BART system.

Super Bowl 50: Everything You Need to Make it Out Alive in San Francisco

Posted on January 24, 2016 at 12:35 AM Comments comments (0)

Unless you've been living under a rock, you've probably heard the 50th Super Bowl is coming to the Bay Area. The Super Bowl, for MUNI at least, will be a dreaded nightmare, with hundreds of thousands of people in Soma and the Financial District of San Francisco days before the Super Bowl.


There are a few things you can do to survive San Francisco (in terms of public transit) while Super Bowl festivities are held Downtown. First, you can download this helpful guide from the SFMTA: https://www.sfmta.com/sites/default/files/pdfs/2016/SB50-General-Ltr_1.21.16.pdf


You can also look at this slightly confusing map showcasing Super Bowl territory and bus detours while the celebrations take place. There are helpful descriptions of each route detour below the map as well (note the 23 & 38R reroutes have been updated below):


All MUNI lines, albeit the E Embarcadero, will be in service when the Super Bowl hits the City between January 23rd and February 12th. Here is a list of bus & streetcar reroutes:


  •  F Market & Wharves: F shuttle buses will run from the Castro to Ferry Plaza, and F Historic Streetcars will run from Fisherman's Wharf to the Ferry Plaza; you can transfer directly between the shuttles and the streetcars. F shuttles will reroute onto Mission, off Market, between Beale Street and the Ferry Plaza.
  • 1BX California Express (PM Only): The 1BX's terminal at Pine & Davis will be moved to Pine & Front streets.
  • 2 Clement: The 2's regular terminal, at Mission & Main streets, will be moved to Sansome & Sutter streets. You can transfer to the F shuttles at Market & 1st.
  • 3 Jackson: The 3's normal terminal, at Bush & Montgomery streets, to Sutter & Kearny streets.
  • 6 Haight/Parnassus: The 6 normally terminates at the Ferry Plaza, but will be moved to Market & Front Streets during the Super Bowl.
  • 7X Noriega Express: Like the 6, the 7X usually terminates at Ferry Plaza, but will be changed to Market & Front streets.
  • 9 San Bruno/9R Rapid: Again, the 9 normally terminates at Ferry Plaza, but will also be rerouted to Market & Front streets.
  • 14X Mission Express: In the morning, the inbound terminal will be relocated from Mission & Steuart streets to Mission & Main streets. In the evening, the outbound terminal will be relocated from Howard & Spear streets to Pine & Front streets.
  • 21 Hayes: Perhaps the line you see the most at the Ferry Plaza, waiting to leave, the 21's terminal at the Ferry Plaza will be moved to Mission & Beale streets.
  • 30X Marina Express: In the morning, the inbound terminal will change from Howard Street at The Embarcadero to Sutter and Sansome (near Market). In the evening, the outbound terminal will change from Howard & Spear streets to Pine & Front streets.
  • 31 Balboa: The 31's inbound terminal at Ferry Plaza will be moved to Mason and Turk streets (near Market Street).
  • 31AX/BX Balboa Express (PM Only): The inbound terminal at Davis & Pine streets will be moved to Pine & Front streets.
  • 38 Geary/38R Rapid: "

    Inbound 38 and 38R buses will re-route off of eastbound Market Street to eastbound Mission Street via 2nd Street, then turn right on to southbound Beale Street to reach the Transbay Terminal. Temporary 38 inbound stops will be in place at 2nd and Stevenson Streets (on the west side of 2nd) and on Mission and Fremont streets (on the south side of Mission).

     

    Outbound 38 and 38R buses will route to Market Street via Beale Street instead of Fremont Street. Outbound 38 stops will not be served at Mission and Beale streets and Fremont and Market streets." - Courtesy sfmta.com

  • 38BX Geary Express: The regular terminal at Davis & Pine streets will be moved to Pine & Front streets.

  • 41 Union: The 41 will relocate from the Transbay Terminal to Clay & Drumm streets.

  • 81X CalTrain Express: The 81X will not serve any stops on Kearny and Bush streets, and will instead turn straight on to Market.

  • 82X Levi Plaza Express: The 82X will reroute after the Transbay Terminal and will continue along Main & Howard, Mission, Beale and then turn on Market. It will then turn on Sutter/Sansome and resume regular routing.

So that, in a nutshell, is what Super Bowl will do to MUNI. Prepare wisely, and remember any reroutes could change at a moment's notice. We will try to keep up to date with the most current MUNI reroutes in the next several days.

Increase of BART Parking Fees at Three Stations Feb. 1st

Posted on January 24, 2016 at 12:25 AM Comments comments (0)

There will be a BART parking fare increase at three of BART's 45 stations beginning February 1st at Hayward, Richmond and West Oakland (surprise, surprise) stations.


Hayward will now cost $2.00, Richmond will cost $2.50, and West Oakland will cost a whopping $8.00, far too much if you ask us.


BART has a system of raising or lowering parking fees - If the lot is more than 95% full over the course of six months, the parking fare will increase by 50 cents, and if the lot is less that 95% full, the fee will drop by 50 cents.


Keep in mind that Single Day, Monthly and Airport/Long-Term reserved parking permit prices will also increase with a parking fare rise.


Clipper, like with everything else, is the easiest way to pay for your parking fare. To order a Clipper card, click on https://www.clippercard.com/ClipperWeb/getTranslink.do.


For more details about BART's parking raise, go to www.bart.gov.

BART to Actually Replace Fake "Decoy" Cameras After West Oakland Shooting

Posted on January 24, 2016 at 12:15 AM Comments comments (0)

After the fatal West Oakland shooting on an SF-bound BART train on January 9th, there was no video surveillance onboard the train. Why? 


If you every look up from your phone on BART, you'll be staring into a constant-flashing red light next to a supposedly legit security camera. No one in their right mind would suspect these were decoy cameras; we didn't suspect anything either.


But the West Oakland shooting invoked BART to confess the real truth: almost all of these security cameras are decoys, and don't capture any video whatsoever.


So BART has decided to do the obvious: replace all the fake cameras with real ones. All of BART's Fleet of the Future cars, coming in 2016, will have real security cameras, while BART's old fleet will be retrofitted with cameras until they are taken out of service completely.


For more details, visit www.bart.gov.

More New Buses are Coming to County Connection

Posted on January 10, 2016 at 12:30 PM Comments comments (0)

County Connection's good 'ol 500 fleet has been used for over a decade on CC's express routes (mainly used on the 96X and 97X, but you can see one substituting for other express lines). And nothing lasts forever.


33 brand-new 40-ft. Gillig Hybrid-Electric buses are coming to County Connection's fleet over the next few weeks, and will slowly replace the old 500 series and the 200 series, which operates on some local routes. Similar to the 500's, this new fleet still keeps the unique "Bishop Ranch" livery.




For the soon-to-be retired 500 fleet, each bus has traveled over 400,000 miles in stop-and-go traffic. Sometimes it's sad to say goodbye, but high-floor buses are a thing of the past nowadays. For more information, visit countyconnection.com.

VTA Rolls Out Brand-New Buses for 2016

Posted on January 3, 2016 at 2:35 PM Comments comments (0)

What's more exciting than rolling out new buses for the new year? January 4th brings brand-new 60-foot, clean energy articulated buses to VTA's 522 Rapid line. And if you've ridden on one of MUNI's new buses, you know exactly what these are like, because they're the same!


Built by New Flyer of America, these modern, low-floor (step-free access) buses meet every requirement by the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). There is room for bikes on both the interior and exterior of the bus.


Larger doors, increased standing room and free Wi-Fi are just some features of New Flyer's impressive buses. They're run with hybrid diesel-electric power, and lower nitrogen oxide emissions by 95%. 


Similar to VTA's diesel-electric buses rolled out in 2010, VTA expects a 25% progression in fuel economy from the new buses.


The new year was brought new buses! For more details, visit www.vta.org.

Bay Area Transit in 2016: What Can We Expect to Happen?

Posted on January 1, 2016 at 5:05 PM Comments comments (0)

Overall, 2015 was a decently quiet year for the Bay Area's transportation. Both BART and MUNI badly need new fleets, and VTA and BART are in the process of building BART's Silicon Valley Extension. 


BART's Warm Springs Station, in south Fremont, never opened, although projections earlier said it would by the end of 2015. Warm Springs is expected to open this year instead. 


MUNI is still working on the Central Subway, which will extend the T Third Street to Chinatown and dissolve the merge between the T and the K Ingleside.


So to put 2015 in terms, progress was made, but nothing major happened. No extensions were opened, and no new fleet began operation. But, since 2016 has begun, what can we expect from this New Year? What can we predict will happen within 365 days from now? Well, let's try to find out:


Let's start with Bay Area Rapid Transit. BART is expanding rapidly. Extensions to Warm Springs, San Jose and eBART to Antioch are well underway, with plenty of other opportunities to expand further (Livermore, Brentwood, etc.) 


But when are these extensions going to be finished? BART's extension to Warm Springs was supposed to open by the end of 2015, but we know now that didn't happen. In fact, the new station has yet to even begin the test phase.


Now, Warm Springs/South Fremont Station is not projected to open until late 2016, and the whole project is behind schedule. 


The rest of BART's extension, past Warm Springs to Milpitas and Berryessa, is not due to open until 2018, since construction south of Warm Springs is part of a second phase of construction, with Warm Springs being the first phase.


A furthur extension south to Downtown San Jose and Santa Clara is planned, but has failed to gain necessary funding. So, we have no idea when this extension will be built.


But what about eBART to Antioch? eBART has barely begun construction, and the only work being carried out at this point is a third platform at Pittsburg/Bay Point for eBART trains to stop at. Thus, eBART is not set to open until 2018.


Let's move on to MUNI. A few key things occurred last year, including MUNI Forward, the new E Embarcadero, and MUNI Mobile, but 2015 was relatively quiet for San Francisco's Municipal Railway


This year, several very important changes are supposed to be carried out. The most important has to be the delivery of MUNI's brand-new Metro cars, which will take over the disastrous current Breda light rail vehicles. 


MUNI's new cars will begin service this year, and eventually, the total number of cars is set to be 175, MUNI will more than double its current fleet. What's more exciting is that these new cars are being built locally - in Sacramento, by Siemens. 


Other smaller changes include the addition of weekday service to the E Embarcadero and a few more additions to MUNI Forward, slowly revolutionizing the MUNI system.


The Central Subway will also continue construction, but is not projected to open until 2019. When opened, the T Third Street may become the busiest MUNI Metro line.


VTA, as well as MUNI, is going to have to deal with some of the biggest crowds in America on February 7th, when Super Bowl 50 comes to the Bay Area. 


If you're wishing for slightly more recent news, how about new buses in three days? On January 4th, VTA's new buses will be rolled out across the system. And if you've ever ridden in one of MUNI's new buses, you'll know exactly what VTA's new buses look and feel like without looking at one, because they're exactly the same.


Built by New Flyer, 29 new 60-foot articulated buses are going into service on VTA's Rapid 522 line, as well as the future Alum Rock-Santa Clara bus rapid transit corridor.


And for even more recent news, VTA's Day Pass has been eliminated as of today, January 1st. So for anyone who constantly used the Day Pass, too bad! Use Clipper!


VTA, as well as BART, is currently building the Silicon Valley Extension. Milpitas Station is on the rise, but is not expected to open for business until 2018, as well as Berryessa Station, in East San Jose.


AC Transit also had a relatively inactive 2015 year. One of the most exciting things to happen was the testing of brand-new double decker buses on select routes, which we actually got the chance to ride on


If purchased, these eye-catching buses from England and Scotland (they're used in London!) will be used primarily on AC Transit's transbay lines, such as the F and O. Why? Well, ridership is growing, and these double decker bulky buses can seat up to 80 people, compared to the normal 36.


As exciting as these new English-accent-built buses are, they wouldn't enter service until 2017. In fact, these buses haven't even been purchased yet. But if they are, AC Transit will become the sixth carrier to run double deckers, behind Seattle, Davis, San Luis Obispo (one bus), Las Vegas, and Snohomish County, Washington.


For now, 2016 remains fairly uneventful for AC Transit. There will always be the occasional service change, including a current proposed one on changes to Transbay Lines F and J, but for now, nothing crazy is going on.


And what about CalTrain? Last year brought about... not much. New MetroLink cars from Los Angeles were brought up to the Bay Area for extra use on CalTrain, and the modernization of bridges and overpasses continued, but 2015 was mostly inactive.


2016 promises to fulfill a little more excitement and action, as CalTrain inches closer to the complete electrification of the system by 2020. 


This year, CalTrain will implement a new signal system called the Communications Based Overlay Signal System, or CBOSS. CBOSS will eliminate the chance of train-to-train collisions by monitoring a train's every move and ensuring that trains are safe distances from other trains around them.


CBOSS can detect areas where workers are present, or where there is an approaching curve or workers along the tracks. CBOSS gives the operator critical information, like the current speed limit, the train's current speed, and the acknowledgment of a signal change.


If a train operator fails to acknowledge a signal change, CBOSS will automatically apply the brakes to bring the train to a safe stop. CBOSS also all but eliminates the risk of a train overshooting a station platform.


CBOSS can also detect when there's a system failure, such as a crossing that fails to go down, and will slow the train to an adaquate speed through the failure "zone." 


CBOSS plays a critical role in the complete electrification of the system by 2020, and ensures safety for the future. When the California High-Speed Rail Authority is built, CBOSS will prevent collisions between high-speed trains, freight trains, and CalTrain, which will all share the same track.


The other two heavy rail systems in the Bay Area, Capitol Corridor and ACE, should stay relatively similar from now to the end of 2016, apart from heavily increasing ridership on both systems.


Past Oakland, farther east, public transit is often looked down upon. The further-out East Bay was always designed for the car, with wide streets and highways leading to the larger Bay Area cities.


But the further-out East Bay is one of the fastest-growing regions in the Bay Area, especially the Tri-Valley. The only heavily used transit system in the East Bay past Oakland is BART, really. 


But with the East Bay growing rapidly, we'll have to see how much public transit (County Connection, WHEELS, Tri Delta Transit, etc.) in the East Bay plays a factor in shaping the way people get around. 


Ridership on these systems is growing, but the total number of passengers is miniscule compared to other systems closer to the large cities. So, these less-ridden transit systems must further encourage people to leave their cars at home in 2016. It's a necessity for the growth of the East Bay.


Same goes for the North Bay, especially The VINE and Marin Transit. The VINE experienced a sharp decrease in total number of passengers in 2012, at just half a million. In 2014, that number rebounded back up to almost 1,000,000. 


Marin Transit, Golden Gate Transit and The VINE all took a beating in the recession, but are slowly catching up to their previous ridership once again.


Ridership is expected to keep rising through 2016, but it's still necessary to (try to) convince people to use public transport instead. Routes that would most benefit the common rider must be carefully examined and carried out, if these smaller, lesser-known transit systems seek to gain more passengers.


So that, in a nutshell, is what 2016 may look like for Bay Area transit systems. For now, we can only predict what will happen, but 2016 has much potential to be an exciting year, with many more exciting projects expected to come out in the distant future.

REMINDER: BART Fares Rise Today

Posted on January 1, 2016 at 3:55 AM Comments comments (1)

2016 has just begun - bringing the annual-ish rising of BART fares, followed by the usual complaints/acceptance of various interviewed BART riders.


But yes, BART fares have risen 3.4% (about 15 cents) since the start of 2016 to help fund major capital projects, which include the Hayward Maintenance Complex, the Fleet of the Future, and the modernization of BART's automatic train control system.


To read more information about BART's fare increase, skim our previous posts here and here. Happy commuting in 2016!

AC Transit's Annual Holiday Bus Steps into Action

Posted on December 18, 2015 at 12:00 AM Comments comments (0)

If you happen to spot a bus with bright green font reading "HAPPY HOLIDAYS" in giant letters, than that bus is free! Once again, AC Transit has rolled out their annual holiday bus, with free rides to anyone who boards, if you're lucky enough to nab it.


AC Transit is also collecting food for the Alameda County Food Bank at 1600 Franklin Street in Oakland. The most wanted items are canned meats and fish, pasta and sauces, low-salt soups, stews and chili, beans and rice, peanut butter, low-sugar cereal and oatmeal. Food encased in glass is not accepted.


You can find more information at www.actransit.org.

VTA Installs New Information Monitors at Light Rail Stops

Posted on December 17, 2015 at 11:50 PM Comments comments (0)

Some of VTA's busiest stations have new passenger information monitors, which provide real-time departures to riders. Out of VTA's 62 light rail stations, 20 have these new signs. Ironic both BART and VTA are replacing signs at the same time!


The 47 inch, LCD flat screen monitors are installed at busy stations and stops that will be used for Super Bowl 50, coming up next year. 


These are the current stations with new signs:

 

  •  Alum Rock
  • Baypointe
  • Capitol
  • Chynoweth
  • Convention Center
  • Diridon
  • Gish
  • Great America
  • Great Mall
  • Lick Mill
  • Mountain View
  • Old Ironside
  • River Oaks
  • San Antonio
  • Santa Clara
  • Santa Teresa
  • Tamien
  • Tasman
  • Winchester


For more info, go to www.vta.org.


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