Skip to content

Recent Comments



    Yes. What’s next, banning two passengers having a conversation in person?



    After Eric Garner’s death, Professor Stephen Carter of Yale Law wrote an article that’s stuck with me: “On the opening day of law school, I always counsel my first-year
    students never to support a law they are not willing to kill to enforce”

    It’s a provocative statement and reality is usually a bit more complicated than that, but there’s a lot of logic in the fundamental basis behind it. If what you have is actually a law, then what you are saying is that you support the government’s use of force to enforce it. Suppose someone refuses to get off their cell phone when asked, assuming they really are politely asked. What are you going to do? If you aren’t willing to use force, then you don’t really have a cell phone ban so much as a courtesy policy that can be ignored by the sufficiently emboldened. If you are, then you’re arresting people for making phone calls and trusting that “discretion” is never abused or misplaced.

    Are cell phones a significant problem on, say, Caltrain? Does the natural noise of the train already serve to muffle voices and discourage long calls? Do an increasingly large percentage of conversations happen by text now anyway? Would a courtesy campaign or a “hey maybe all the long phone call people should go to one end of the train” campaign achieve similar results? These are all the kinds of questions that should be answered before something like this is even considered.



    I can’t imagine so. The government is generally free to tell people to shut up, just as long as it tells everyone to shut up and doesn’t pick and choose between favorable and unfavorable speech. It’s perfectly legal to ban talking on cell phones in the middle of a publicly owned concert hall, for example. If they specifically banned, say, discussing the reasons why one might be concerned the SMART board is mismanaging the agency, that would be a bigger problem.



    If SMART plans to enforce the ban, e.g. with fines, then it would constitute prior restraint and therefore be an unconstitutional violation of the First Amendment.



    This is ridiculous. Giving the Conductors a bunch of power to oversee petty etiquette issues is just a sure fire way to make the conductors and passengers hate each other.

    SMART is also saying there will be exceptions for emergencies, The Chief of Security for SMART said explicitly that the rule would be subject to discretion. That generally means that the conductors will use it to harass marginalized persons.

    This is basically starting from Director Shirlee Zane’s pet peeve about cellphones. She’s generally a bleeding heart progressive, it’s sad that she’s blind to the effect this rule will have.



    while it can be annoying when folks are talking loudly, be it into a phone or to another person, banning phones on a commuter train is a bad idea. Calling into meetings, talking to a landlord, being productive while commuting sometimes requires talking on the phone. Sure, some folks have loud voices and it is annoying but I’d think that any commuter who wants a zen like experience should either bring ear plugs or head phones.


    Dexter Wong

    Peskin seems like the second coming of Quntin Kopp, who always opposed the extension, but this is not a good thing in this case. No one seems to care whether the new Transbay Terminal is the Grand Central of the west or the Port Authority Terminal of the west.



    Plenty of spin from Ben, and lots of pre-suasion going on. There are many legal and financial issues remaining before this HSR project becomes a given.



    A decent start – it will take a generation to undo 1/2 of the destruction of mass motoring. Changing a culture takes time.



    you sound like trump


    citrate reiterator

    Identities aside, walking in an urban core should not require special equipment.


    citrate reiterator

    “Are not refuted” doesn’t mean “cannot be refuted,” as you yourself have argued elsewhere on the site.


    citrate reiterator

    It is not controversial that open public forum attendees rarely constitute a representative sample of the community. Even getting a random sample of *poll* respondents that is representative of local residents is actually difficult because of non-response bias, requiring things like oversampling and other adjustments for demographics. In light of this, the onus is actually on you to show why you believe that the people who attended these meetings were in fact a representative random sample of local residents.


    Aaron Priven

    Talking on trains never bothers me as much as people playing music.


    citrate reiterator

    Setting aside the question of whether a majority of Sunset residents oppose the proposed upgrades along the L (I’d be surprised), the problem with this is that you have arbitrarily defined majority as “majority within a certain neighborhood,” not as “majority of San Franciscans.” But focusing on one of these is not necessarily more democratic than another. In fact, giving a small number of local residents veto power can be anti-democratic if the proposed changes would be popular with the majority of San Franciscans. And of course, what counts as the “neighborhood” is arbitrary: is it everyone who uses the L? How often do they have to use it? Or is it only people who live in the southern Sunset? Or is it only people who live on Taraval itself? Etc.

    In reality, of course, those scales have to be balanced and that’s the job of elected officials.



    Not letting you yak on the phone for half an hour, annoying all the people that are trapped in your vicinity, is draconian?



    Donovan asks: “Where in my argument did you get the idea that I was proposing a ban on parking.”

    Where you said this:

    “The idea that a road is where you store your vehicle directly contradicts its stated purpose.”

    I get that you support loading and unloading zones. But not all journeys involve brief stays for loading and unloading. Some involve longer stays – hours or days – and we have to provide for that too.

    And of course when a driver returns home he needs a place to rest his vehicle as well as himself.

    To the other, it’s important to realize that many journeys are not within SF but rather are inter-city and inter-county. Looking at transport from the perspective of just 1% of the land area will yield distorted results.

    Finally, you know that Valencia is short of parking because you see all this double parking and drivers circling. The idea that the solution to insufficient parking is to further reduce the amount of parking is glaringly illogical.



    Ah yes. Creating draconian rules to address a problem that cannot possibly exist yet is a great way to attract riders to a brand new system that is desperate to build ridership to demonstrate its success.

    Of all the issues the SMART board should be paying attention to, this ranks pretty much at the bottom.



    The Sacramento connection is for a future project period. The specific corridor is TBD. Currently, Amtrak offers the Capitol Corridor train between Sacramento and Oakland, with easy connected platforms at Richmond BART.


    Donovan Lacy


    Where in my argument did you get the idea that I was proposing a ban on parking.

    I suggested mid-block loading and unloading zones on alternating blocks and you responded with how the local residents would be unhappy with losing some parking and then escalated by suggesting that I was proposing to ban all parking. That is disingenuous.

    This thread is about training for Uber and Lyft drivers to help make the road a safer place. One of the activities that was a focus of the videos was being aware of cyclists and bike lanes. Why are loading and unloading zones on a busy thoroughfare a threat to you?

    You specifically stated that we were discussing San Francisco in a post above when you said “my understanding was that we were talking about SF”, which is roughly 49 square miles. You are now suggesting that we increase our focus by 200 times. (100M x 100M or 10,000 square miles vs. 49 sq miles). That is disingenuous.

    You stated that drivers park in the bike lane because “there is often no reasonable alternative,” and when I provided you with reasonable alternatives you simply ignored the alternatives. That is disingenuous.



    SMART is a small 2 car train, one of which has the only bathroom. Not really feasible.



    The old trail is basically inside the stadium perimeter. The 49ers figured out that if they could move the entrances across the trail, they could rent out space on the trail to vendors to sell beer. They make money, trail users get the shaft.

    Everything the 49ers do is about them making money for themselves, whether it is sticking it to season ticket holders on resale of tickets, trying to take over community assets like soccer fields and trails, or withholding rent payments.

    They should pay to fix this, along the original alignment. Unless Santa Clara plays hardball, they won’t.



    And I just figured that a person who worries about technical infringements of FCC regulations would apply the same scruples to the requirement for cyclists to come to a complete stop at every stop sign.


    Brian Keith

    I’ll obviously try it once, but until they get a line up the Eastbay, it’s not that practical. A bus or cab to BART and then on to a HSR station, not going to happen. That’s why I don’t fly out of SFO unless it’s the only option.



    Even with the circuitous route to Sacto, the route to SF should have been from SJ to OAK and then to SF in a new tube..this tube will be needed regardless.



    HSR will do nothing to ease congestion along 80 from the city and EB to Sacto. Riders in SF will still need to take the bus bridge from the city to Amtrak to catch the Capitol Corridor, unless, of course, you want to take MUNI to BART to Richmond and pick it up there.



    “A road is made for traveling by vehicle between two or more points. The idea that a road is where you store your vehicle directly contradicts its stated purpose.”

    It’s not about “storage” which is a deliberately pejorative term used by those who oppose car travel. The reality is that there is no point in providing a road to “travel between two or more points” if, once I arrive at one of those “points”, I cannot park my vehicle and get to my destination.

    It is disingenuous to argue that you’re perfectly happy to have roads to enable travel but that you want to prevent people parking. If all parking was banned then how would anyone drive anywhere? Or is that your real agenda?

    If we were talking about a medieval city in Europe I could understand your opposition to most households having cars. I’ve been to Zermatt, Switzerland which is car-free and it works great. I just don’t think you can apply that to the SF Bay Area – a vast, sprawling city measuring maybe 100 miles by 100, with 7-8 million people, great roads and mostly miserable public transit.

    And in the context of those distances, cycling is only a marginal factor, mostly enjoyed by privileged professionals in the more affluent and gentrified urban cores.



    I just figured that a person who spends so much of his life worrying about whether every cyclist stops completely at every single stop sign would apply the same scruples to federal communications law as well.


    Brian Keith

    So, no direct access between Sacramento and San Francisco without having to go all the way around the Bay, down to Gilroy and Pacheco? No one will do that. And the entire Eastbay is being skipped over? Adding a 30 minute BART ride + additional time to allow for connections and delays – this looks less and less desirable. Simply flying out of OAK will be faster, less expensive and easier. What a mistake with the route that was selected.



    I suspect HSR will be super fast between, say, Stockton and Bakersfield. But then limited to 110 mph at either end. Moreover it will probably have too many stops.

    If you travel regularly between Fresno and Modesto, I suspect it will be wonderful.



    Not to my mind. The word “express” connotes speed, indicating that it is a train that goes quickly. Obviously stopping less means a higher average speed, other things being equal, but a train that doesn’t stop much and moves at 10 mph would not be called an express.

    While there are limited-stop trains that really aren’t fast at all, like the mis-named “CalTrain Baby Bullet” trains which do not have a higher top speed than the regular trains – they just stop less, so I’d argue they are mis-named if called an “express”.



    The supes/mayor don’t want to annoy what they perceive as the big, Asian, west-side voting bloc. That’s why it took ten years and three ballot initiatives to get rid of the Central Freeway.



    Well, I don’t think HSR will be nearly as fast as advertised. Speeds will be reduced for political/cost/union reasons.


    Donovan Lacy


    A road is made for traveling by vehicle between two or more points. The idea that a road is where you store your vehicle directly contradicts its stated purpose.

    Of course I have visitors; sometimes they walk, sometimes they take the train, sometimes they take the bus, sometimes they ride their bike and sometimes they even drive. If they do drive, I do not assume that they will be able to park directly in front of my house, which is why I am strong proponent of all types of transportation and funding the infrastructure to providea variety transportation options.

    You argue that automobiles cannot be inconvenienced by double parking in their own travel lane, so it is reasonable to block the bike lane.

    You argue that having drivers pull around the corner to a quieter street would inconvenience automobiles and buses.

    You argue removing some parking mid block to create pickup / dropoff zones would inconvenience the residents.

    It seems that one of the only road user constituencies that you feel can be inconvenienced and endangered are cyclists.

    San Francisco is one of the most densely populated cities in the United States with some of the highest real estate values, assuming that everyone is going to be able to afford to store one or more cars in the city, whether onstreet or off, is not a reasonable expectation.


    Joe Brant

    >I think you’re using the word “express” to mean “limited stops”

    Is that not what an express train is?



    Caltrain only runs local trains in non-peak hours where there’s low demand and more track capacity.

    During commute hours, baby bullets which make stops every 10 miles or so, so they can reach 110mph (or a speed higher than current 79mph.

    Time savings might be only 2 mins, but consider that caltrain currently runs trains 5 trains an hour…. or one every 12 mins. If each each train saves 2 mins, that gives you an extra 10 mins and enough time for a 6th train. That 6th train could be another baby bullet or HSR. This is a simplistic example since it depends on stopping patterns and location of passing tracks, but it’s the fact that you accrue savings over many trains to get more capacity without laying more tracks.



    Rarely. Tell me more.



    Central Subway extension or DTX?

    Either or, it’s not like he uses either system, but it’s so incredibly refreshing to see that he’s such a strong opponent to making the lives of many folks in the city and greater Bay Area better with improved transit.



    “Either way, I’d love to believe that some drivers will tire of seeing the lights outpace them, and try ditching their cars.”

    I’d love to see this happen too, but have you been on MUNI?



    Wow, according to plan, it will take me the same amount of time to get from the Sunset to downtown SF as it will on HSR from the Central Valley to downtown SF.

    DTX and Caltrain to downtown in my generation, please?



    But decades past due



    Good point


    Jeffrey Baker

    BART blows past traffic jams on CA-24 every single day, and the sight of this does not seem to have caused mass ditching of cars.



    On the lights project: There are two ways to go with this, philosophically. The way described is very cool because it connects the worlds above and below the street instantaneously, allowing street level observers to see the pulse of transit moving through the city.

    Another way to go, which would provide more functional value to the public, would be to have the light display projected forward along Market, offset by the average amount of time it takes to get from the street to the platform. For transit users, then, the rule of thumb would be: if you start down the stairs before the lights pass, you’ll catch the coming train. Unfortunately, in this setup you’d lose the cool coupling between layers of the city, so it would certainly be an artistic sacrifice in the name of utility.

    I wonder how helpful would this actually be? Maybe headways are close enough that catching a specific train doesn’t matter.

    Either way, I’d love to believe that some drivers will tire of seeing the lights outpace them, and try ditching their cars.



    Government man. SMART has installed new crossing gates all through Healdsburg, which won’t see service for a decade if ever. Because they got a grant for railroad crossing safety and had to spend it all or send it back.



    Interesting. Agree CalTrain would perform better. Seems to me that we’ll have three types of train sharing the track between SJ and SF:

    1) HSR with 1/2 stops
    2) 110 mph CalTrains’s with a handful of stops
    3) Stopping trains making up to 20 stops and getting nowhere near 110 mph

    I’d guess they’ll need more passing places.



    Depends what you mean by “illegal”. It’s not in the criminal statutes AFAIK so a beat cop isn’t going to arrest you. The FCC consider it to be transmitting without a license but I’d be surprised if a Federal agency committed investigative resources to occasional use by an individual.

    It would also be hard to triangulate a source, while people affected would probably just think they have a dropped call or have entered a dead zone.

    As for emergencies, most trains I’ve been of have a emergency button or radio to contact the guard or driver.

    Of course if cell phones really bothered me I’d move here:


    Jamison Wieser

    It’s peculiar how Aaron Peskin and the other Supervisors opposed the subway extension are taking it all out on Caltrain riders.

    If the extensively studied terminal that was planned over the course of two decades is really so dangerous, what about all those other towers going up around the Transbay Terminal?

    If this truly is the fault of the Transbay Terminal, nothing to do with the cost-cutting decision on the part of the Millennium Tower to build on sand rather than bedrock, shouldn’t the Supervisors also being doing the prudent thing and put a halt on all those other towers going up around the new Terminal, not just the subway extension?



    Millbrae is key to connecting to SFO, Palo Alto probably not happening. Redwood City would be better, but Mr. Tripousis said there would likely be no other Peninsula stops.



    RichLL: “…the convenience of all road users matters. Just like my response to “black lives matter” is “all lives matter”.”