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    A little self-promotion about Bike East Bay’s new theft prevention partnership with BART:



    Somewhat off-topic, but I’m not entirely familiar with Muni boarding procedures. Is there ever any reason for people to tap their clipper cards after boarding a rail car in an underground Muni Metro station? I’ve always paid at the gate while entering the station, but I still see some people tapping their clipper cards in the vehicle. It looks to me like those people might be paying twice!

    Help me figure out if I should speak up next time…


    Amanda Clark

    The VTA 181 takes forever to board in Fremont, because so many people pay by cash, and I have a feeling very few of them are familiar with the various transit systems and don’t have a clue as to what is going on. In that case, all door boarding wouldn’t work.



    What you say makes sense, but while I don’t necessarily agree point for point with Andy’s assertions there is a definite correlation between Clipper adoption and income.

    The 72X bus from Santa Rosa to SF carries mostly Financial District commuters. Clipper adoption is ~100%, it’s very annoying when a cash customer appears, so much so that I carry an extra clipper card and say “Give me $10″ and tag them on (saves them $1.75 and I make 60 cents, but mostly it gets the bus moving). Not only are we all saving 20% up front, almost everyone is getting another 20-30% in tax savings.

    When I occasionally take the 101 bus which is intra Sonoma/Marin as well as going to SF, Clipper adoption is ~15%. I look at the ridership and my reaction is that they could really use the 20% discount.

    There just is a huge part of the population that is just unplugged. Best way to get money is to have money.


    Andy Chow

    I am not saying that it cannot complete in phases. I am rather saying that it can only be completed in phases, but in a way different than what you and BART think.

    I think the SF portion, whatever that is, should be completed before the 2nd tube and tie in with the existing system in SF. That portion has the highest independent utility. If this and the Alameda portion is done, the tube will simply be connecting the dots. I expect that to be the most expensive portion.



    Yes, I know how phasing works, thanks. My point is that your claim that this line cannot be completed in phases is nonsense. You’ve thrown up several reasons why this is apparently the case, and none of them stand up to scrutiny.



    “SamTrans officials say dedicated bus lanes on most of El Camino Real aren’t feasible, because the street is too narrow for four lanes of auto traffic and bus lanes.”




    The system as built needs tight scheduling, as it’s two-way operation on one track. The 7.5 minute headways would be no less forgiving.


    Jeffrey Baker

    I do sympathize with the cost questions, but if that’s what you’re worried about then it makes even more sense to use Clipper than not. You save a dime or a nickel every time, depending. And, for AC Transit customers, it takes uncertainty out of the equation: if you’re not sure you will ride twice or three times in a day then you don’t have to buy the $5 day pass up front. I never understood the argument about bank accounts. I put value on my card using cash at BART stations. It’s easy and there’s no way I’m giving my bank account details to the bozo contractors who run Clipper. So you don’t need a bank account to use Clipper.


    Andy Chow

    A lot of other agencies are concerned about the revenue implications. In Muni’s situation, the about 50% of the riders use Clipper, while AC Transit and SamTrans are at about 30%+. Since all monthly passes are sold on Clipper only in these agencies one can conclude that more Muni riders buy passes than at AC Transit and SamTrans.

    While I don’t have the data, it is likely that the median income of Muni riders is higher than the AC Transit and SamTrans riders. What we know that the Clipper penetration for transit agencies that are more patronized by higher income folks are much higher than buses (Caltrain at 70%+, ferries at 90%+).

    I believe Clipper is more used by the higher income folks because of access to technology, having regular work schedule to justify pass purchase, having bank accounts, and having access to commuter tax benefit programs. Low income folks tend to use cash only, not having steady income, and work in businesses that don’t offer commuter benefits. More kids and elderly use local transit but most may have no access to bank accounts and commuter benefits. So for a lot of these riders they stay with cash rather than switching to Clipper.

    With Clipper there should be no need to pre-buy monthly passes like it was during the paper era. Such cards have the ability to place a monthly fare cap. People with low income can put cash on the card as they can afford yet still enjoy the savings of a pass if they ride regularly, and not having to come up with a lot of money upfront when they have other things (like rent) to pay for.


    Andy Chow

    Yes. It only got funded when VTA decided to phase the project, which was reluctant to even consider before Chuck Reed became mayor in 2007. Once VTA approved to phase the project, the cost effectiveness number improves (the project was submitted for New Starts funding during the Bush era when cost effectiveness was more important and less emphasis was placed on TOD potential. Priorities have changed somewhat since.) and Obama Admin was eager to spend money on any infrastructure project.

    To see how big mega subway projects proceed, just look at Los Angeles Purple Line extension. Extension to UCLA/Westwood require two phases (the 2nd phase is not funded) and that even the first phase with 4 stations will take 8 years to construct. In the meantime, the LA Metro is building 4 other light rail extensions in various parts of the county with one of them tunneling downtown.

    In the Bay Area, there will be a number of projects on the pipeline if you include Muni, Caltrain, SMART, and VTA, as well as BART in other parts of the region. So our table is just as full as Los Angeles. The whole 2nd tube thing will have to get in line. The best way to get it done is the phase the project so each segment is bite size (like $1-2 billion at most) and demonstrate independent utility. In every funding cycle or so there’s rail project in all parts of the region, rather just putting all the money in one part of the region, which is politically unacceptable.


    Jeffrey Baker

    Are any other agencies planning to do this? AC Transit spends lots of time with people queued up behind cash-paying customers. Using all-door boarding, requiring Clipper, or making the fare a round number of dollars would all reduce dwell.



    For anyone who’s *really* interested, this link will take you straight to a video of the presentation:


    Ted King

    This doubled frequency from every 30 minutes to every 15 minutes,

    There was already quarter-hour service for those who could ride either the 390 or the 391 (e.g. Millbrae/Burlingame to Daly City). All the ECR does is make it a consistent fifteen-minute (15 min.) interval over a longer route.



    Not quite, unfortunately. The map on slide 9 is showing the long list of 30+ “Vision” projects that were initially considered, as well as the State of Good Repair and Capacity projects, which went through a separate analysis process. The “limited list” on slide 10 shows the 14 “Vision” projects they decided to move forward from that list. This list of 14 projects will be whittled down to a “short list” of 3-5 that will move forward to implementation.

    The news here is that a new Transbay tube and Geary line will be included in that list of 3-5 projects. I will be very interested to see what else makes the final cut.



    According to this article they plan to construct an underground walkway between the new Transbay Transit Center and BART in “Phase 2″ of its construction. Not sure if that’s still the plan however.



    Whoops–good to know, thanks! Just unparenthesized it in my post, too.



    The parenthesis breaks that link, btw. (I guess Disqus’ auto-linker isn’t smart enough to fix that.) Here’s the fixed link just in case:


    Veronica Vanterpool

    Noah is an effective, ardent advocate for equitable transportation in general. It is always a pleasure being in the same battle with him. Congrats, Noah.



    Btw, not sure how many people checked out the PDF Aaron linked (, but there are some pretty cool things they’re at least studying. In addition to the 30th St Infill they’re also studying an infill at Van Ness/Market (along with a potential corridor along the Presidio/Van Ness/SoMa) and some other cool stuff:


    Jamison Wieser

    Considering that most of the two-car trains run on the N, West Portal isn’t too short. The M and the K run mostly one car ‘trains’.

    The K operates with one-car trains, but the M and the L are mostly if not exclusively two-car trains during peak hours when this is needed. In order to work at all, this has to work at the busiest times.

    Until Muni starts double-birthing it won’t know what does and doesn’t work about it. Starting with only Embarcadero and Montgomery let’s them work out the kinks before expanding to all stations.

    There will be problems in practice that need to be worked out. Double-birthing potentially creates new delays. Not problems that can’t be solved, but problems easier to solve starting with just two stations in only one direction.

    Passengers may hold doors open for riders who now have to walk down the platform for the second train, or those riders all try to squeeze through the first door of the second train. Maybe N/T trains should only board in the first spot so there are never confused Giants fans running up and down the platform trying to figure out which train to get on (Spot 1: Embarcadero, Ballpark/Caltrain, Sunnydale. Spot 2: Embarcadero only)

    I’m really curious to see what Muni does with the announcements, messages, and signs.



    Congrats to both Noah and San Francisco!


    Clarence Eckerson Jr.

    NOAH! Way to go!



    Okay, how about the BART extension to Berryessa? San Jose Flea Market is hardly an area of thriving density, and that extension was funded by New Starts.



    I’ve had the honor and pleasure of working with Noah ever since he came to TA so many years ago. Paul nailed it: “combination of zeal and judiciousness.” It’s hard to imagine the NYC livable streets community without the benefit of Noah’s quiet wisdom and tactical shrewdness. I consider him merely on extended loan to you lucky folks by the Bay!


    Andy Chow

    This project is not a “new starts” project so that these requirements didn’t apply. Usually a region submits certain competitive and more expensive projects for new starts and use other funds for those less competitive and expensive projects. This was funded partly by raiding the Dumbarton Rail funds.



    Congratulations to Noah – loss for us in NYC but great thing for San Francisco. Thanks for all you’ve done.



    Though I’ve been a cyclist all my life, the only reason I’m a cycling advocate is a fateful meeting I had with Noah Budnick in the summer of 2006. TA was a much smaller organization then, and Noah and Paul were tabling for TA at a Solar Energy Festival at Stuy Cove (both of them together!), with petitions denouncing the NYPD’s attempts to outlaw small groups rides (10 cyclists) as “parades” requiring permits.

    I got involved with TA, started up a lawsuit against the NYPD, and the rest is history! Noah and TA totally changed the way I viewed cycling, living in the city, and the NYPD. I join many others in offering a big thank you to Noah for all he’s done. The only thing more awesome would be to take the SF liveable streets movement beyond what we’ve achieved here.

    Our loss is SF’s gain!

    PS Paul’s gotta step up his sartorial game with Noah out of the pic!


    Eric McClure

    Big win for San Francisco. Thanks for all you’ve done to advocate for safe streets in New York City, Noah, and don’t be a stranger.



    Not true. You made this up. There was huge support in Marin but BART asked the county to drop out for the reason Eric mentioned.



    Since I am “that way” – I keenly look forward to the Rob Anderson blog post on this one. His tears of sadness are so delicious.



    He will be missed here in NYC. Thank your lucky stars, SF!



    “You have to find common ground and figure out what other people care about. That’s core to building partnerships and coalitions.” Consensus building – Yes!



    and NYC <3 Welcome, Noah and family!


    Andy Thornley

    Noah is a fantastic pick to take on the SFBC ED role, congratulations to all of us — get ready for a massive dose of NYC-style energy and smarts (and positive results) on San Francisco’s streets!



    It seems a little crazy that they continue to raise muni fares while adding more and more “free” categories. Muni should be cheap and accessible to anyone. We should either consider a tax and make muni free for everyone, or reduce fares down to $0.25 per ride to make muni affordable but encourage people to walk if possible.



    8 stations and 1 minute dwell times. This treatment has the potential to cut run time by 8 minutes, powerful stuff. But will tourists and the masses be capable of discerning where to queue? Will ADA access requirements be maintained? Will bunching be intensified.



    that’s why VTA expects a lot of people transferring from BART to LRT, but I think they’re too optimistic

    I’m shocked anyone who is not a complete transit junkie transfers from Caltrain to VTA LRT at Mountain View – including Niners fans. That thing sucks.



    they would most likely need to knock down my historcal house to do this – along with a number of other historical structures in alameda, not to mention that there would be bart tracks going right over an elementary school.



    also to zippy_monster: That’s what I meant to say. Platforms at Forest Hill and West Portal are ~300′ long, and since each Breda car is 75′ long, you could fit a combination of 1 and 2-car trains, or even 3 1-car trains. You *could* double-berth two 2-car trains at these stations, but it would be a tight squeeze, especially at Forest Hill. This is because at Forest Hill the platform drops to sidewalk level roughly 7′ between the tunnel portals. This would mean the front door of the 1st 2-car trainset and the last door of the 2nd 2-car trainset would have to be disabled. Same goes if trains have to be spaced at a certain distance, in which the end doors wouldn’t touch the platform at all while boarding passengers.



    Considering that most of the two-car trains run on the N, West Portal isn’t too short. The M and the K run mostly one car “trains”. Until a morbidly obese driver (who had no business being at the helm of a 100 ton vehicle in that condition) had passed out it was regular practice to drop out of ATCS and double berth. The platform is /not/ too short for double berthing, but it sounds like again San Francisco is on the hook paying for inflexible, poorly designed software bandages.

    The inability to double berth outbound at West Portal adds between 6-12 minutes to an outbound trip. Think about the rather drastic measures the MTA takes in order to save a fraction of that time.

    There are, what? 9 possible combinations (1,1; 1,2, 1,3; 2,1; 2,2; 2,3; 3,1; 3,2; 3,3)? Hell you could even be flexible and just do a little addition. Spend the time, test the different combinations, and for fucks sake do it right and speed up one of the worst bottlenecks in the subway. If the project has been dragged on for this long already, what’s another few months or years for a solution that will reap dramatic benefits?

    And the most absurd part? They double berth going inbound at West Portal all the freaking time. It’s utter lunacy to not allow double berthing at West Portal (manual or otherwise).

    Granted it’s utter lunacy to not have some sort of medical exam as a prerequisite for being a driver…



    Muni has never been famous for getting things done quickly. I remember the Metro East facility off the “T” line, seems like it was at least two years after the first sign went up that serious construction began. I thought there should have been a sign reading:
    a bunch of workmen will dither around for a few days and then leave.

    An it looks like the “E” line may finally start running next year…but don’t hold your breath or bet the ranch on it.


    Andy Chow

    They’re expecting ridership at these stations to approach those in SF. While I don’t mind seeing that many people converting from driving to transit, I don’t think this projection is realistic. Suburb to suburb commute (which is what most East Bay-Silicon Valley commutes are, as well as intra Silicon Valley commutes) is the most difficult type of trips to convert to transit because of the demand for feeder transportation on both ends of the trips. And now you also got the big companies running long distance shuttles that is more convenient than a train ride that requires feeder transportation on both ends.

    VTA’s Light Rail is a pretty fast system on the southern end, but the freeway traffic is terrible as well. While the Light Rail is quick getting to Downtown San Jose, that’s not where most people want to go, and Light Rail is not that good at serving major employment sites further north (but better than BART would, that’s why VTA expects a lot of people transferring from BART to LRT, but I think they’re too optimistic.)


    Joe Brant

    So much for dense, walkable neighborhood; a lot of that land is just surface parking


    Joe Brant

    How long would it take if you rode BART to Diridon and transfered to Caltrain?


    Andrew J Faulkner

    Or, you know you could run BART across the Golden Gate and to SMART. After all, that was the original plan (and the reason for BART’s rail incompatible wide gauge)



    Understandable points and I know it may sound a bit silly but tunnel links between nearby–though separate–stations can definitely provide a psychological incentive to taking a mode in the first place if you see on a map that the transfer you need to make between stations is connected:

    The above example from Paris shows how pedestrian tunnels connect Châtelet (mode: RER commuter rail) station with Les Halles (mode: Métro) station encouraging multimodal transfers and ridership between the two stations.

    These types of connections do provide some real–and almost more importantly–perceived conveniences that further boost ridership. Anyway, it’d probably be about a 900 ft. tunnel between Embarcadero and Transbay Terminal. Some more details and rationales here:

    Compare to some other tunnels:

    It also can also save some sidewalk bandwidth by removing the hordes of people transferring to/from HSR/Caltrain and BART/Muni. These transferrers will often have luggage/backpacks/suitcases/laptop bags/etc., too.

    These types of tunnels aren’t just found in places with extreme weather, either. When I lived in Buenos Aires–whose climate is pretty moderate overall–I definitely found its connected stations handy, quick and preferable even when the weather above-ground was fine (which was usually):

    I know those connections encouraged me to explore new places and make transfers via rail I might not have done otherwise. It’s a subtle push that makes you say “oh, those are basically the same station. Easy. Ok, I’ll just go that way and transfer.”



    Could do a two-car with a one-car. Or a one-car with a one-car. It juust fits.



    The Southern Crossing?



    Correct. Both West Portal and Forest Hill Station are too small.