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Vision Zero for Caltrain

written by andy on

A number of fatalities occurred on Caltrain tracks in the last two plus months is approaching to that of the entire 2014. The latest incident on Monday is the 8th of the year while there were only 10 fatalities last year. The trend is alarming.

As this incident is being investigated, preliminary report suggests it is a suicide of a high school student. Suicide is a particularly difficult issue for Caltrain since it cannot reliably be eliminated with standard safety measures such as fencing and grade crossing upgrades, which Caltrain has invested in over the last 15 years and has successfully reduced unintended deaths and injuries.

While some blame the existence of Caltrain as the cause of the suicides, and suggesting solutions such as eliminating the trains, the slow the trains down significantly. I disagree. The train tracks have existed for more than a century and Caltrain has essentially run on the same schedule and same speed for almost 10 years. According to a study done in 2010 on the issue, there is no definite pattern in terms of where and when these incidents occur over a long period of time. Suggesting shutting down Caltrain is as useful as suggesting banning automobiles to eliminate traffic collisions, or banning alcohol to eliminate DUIs. Our highways are congested, people still need to commute, and communities like Palo Alto continue to benefit from the trains. Read the rest of this page »

Offering more frequent midday Caltrain service

written by andy on

Caltrain ridership has reached an all time high and trains are more crowded than ever. With economic recovery ongoing, 101 continues to get congested beyond the traditional peak hours. On Caltrain, not only the peak hour trains are crowded, the ridership is also growing on the shoulder peak trains.

One of the things that irks some Caltrain riders is the fact that Caltrain runs hourly midday service. It wasn’t used to be that way. In year 2000, Caltrain first added hourly service to the midday schedule. It was reverted to hourly service in 2009 in response to the agency’s budget crisis.

1999 Schedule2000 Schedule2005 Schedule2009 Schedule

I do think that it is an appropriate time to restore more service during the midday hours. However, Caltrain is currently rebuilding rail bridges in San Mateo and requires single tracking through the area during the midday hours. This construction is supposed to last until next year.

Below is a schedule I proposed that would do a few things: provide 2 trains per hour midday, allow single tracking through San Mateo, provide faster service to most stops. Read the rest of this page »

Bus stop maps are now offered for more agencies

written by andy on

For a while, the wiki has offered bus stop maps (and real time predictions) for agencies that uses the NextBus API (including Muni, AC Transit, LA Metro, etc) and the OneBusAway API (maps only for agencies in the Seattle Region).

Now we provide our own GTFS parsing API to offer the same bus stop map for more than 20 agencies, including UTA in Salt Lake City, RTD in Denver, Valley Metro in Phoenix, ABQ Ride, Sacramento RT, San Diego MTS, etc. Real time arrival information is available through the bus stop maps for SamTrans and VTA in the SF Bay Area.

Example: Map:MTS 30 (route that serves the beautiful La Jolla and Pacific beaches in San Diego)

Some of the systems includeing UTA and SD MTS have their own real time data. Offering that data on the site is one of the things yet to do.

No on “filibuster” over Caltrain electrification

written by andy on

Earlier this month, the Caltrain board certified the final environmental impact report for the electrification project. With this action, Caltrain is one step closer to begin construction and concludes the environmental clearance process that began in 2001.

I believe that Caltrain should’ve been electrified when it was first proposed about 30 years ago. At that time, the project faced funding challenge, as well as question about Caltrain’s future in light of the plan to extend BART to SFO/Millbrae. Today, with record Caltrain ridership, increasing traffic congestion, and growing demand for mixed-use developments along the rail corridor, it is more urgent than ever for Caltrain to electrify. Read the rest of this page »

Caltrain mobile ticketing

written by andy on

Last month, Caltrain presented a proposal on mobile ticketing to its Citizens Advisory Committee. Here’s a brief summary of the presentation from the meeting minutes: Read the rest of this page »

New Muni Map Online

written by andy on

New for this year is an interactive Muni map that I spent a couple of weeks to produce. I want some kind of mobile friendly interactive map for the web site but with limited choices it is better for me to create one. It is displayed on Google’s API so you can switch to other standard Google layers and even have street views. It is also designed to be printed as well. It includes some of the most recent changes like the 5L, two way Haight St and left turn for 29.

2nd Transbay Tube?

written by andy on

The talk in town after the construction of the Bay Bridge East Span is another transbay tube. The concept, along with another bridge, has been studied about 14 years ago. Some of the ideas that are being thrown around is to have a second BART tube reach South of Market, head up toward Union Square, extend to the west on Geary, and perhaps turn south on 19th Ave. Others have suggested that the 2nd tube should be standard gauge as an extension of Caltrain from Transbay terminal. Read the rest of this page »

Comments submitted for the VTA’s El Camino BRT EIR

written by andy on

I wish to submit a few comments for the EIR:

Having dedicated lanes for buses is a significant investment, not only in dollar terms, but so is the amount of space on the roadway. On the other hand, the proposal for dedicated lanes would maintain local bus service operating in mixed traffic.

Under the dedicated lanes scenarios, an option that should be evaluated is to add additional stops and eliminate local curbside 22 route. A single tier service scenario would result in service similar to the corridors served by light rail along 1st Street and Capitol Avenue. Stations should be about 1/2 mile apart. For this project, it may mean double the number of the stops as currently proposed.
Read the rest of this page »

Private commuter buses vs. Muni in San Francisco

written by andy on

In recent years, there is a debate between the role of private commuter buses (which includes shuttles, Google buses, and now a start up called Leap Transit). Many people support such concepts because it bring new options to commuters and reduce dependence on automobiles. Others are against it because it would somehow compete with Muni and result in a two tier transit system. Many are also concerned about it has impacted Muni because many of the private buses use Muni stops and at times delay Muni buses.

Private transit services, which I also happens to operate, is an important transportation element for large metropolitan areas. Also having served on SamTrans Citizens Advisory Committee for 9 years, I can see the differences between the public and private sectors and why many employers and riders are turning to the private sector as a way to get more transit. Read the rest of this page »

Ridesharing or running an illegal taxi/limo operation

written by andy on

The so-call ride-sharing companies like Lyft and Sidecar have been operating a service in the SF Bay Area where the customer uses an mobile app to request a ride, and where the company would then dispatch a vehicle for the customer. Those companies differentiate from the traditional taxicab and limo service because of the mobile app, and more importantly, the car is a personal vehicle of the driver, which contracts with the mobile app company.

Aside from the mobile app use, the major problem with these companies is that they’re unfairly competing with taxi and limo providers by not complying with state and local regulations, along with mandatory insurance requirements. As someone who runs a commercial transportation myself, I can tell you the regulations that I have to comply. The cost of compliance (especially the insurance requirement) also raise the cost of operation far beyond the cost of owning a regular, private car. Read the rest of this page »