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San Francisco Roundup: Presidio GO Goes Electric, Amtrak Payment Pilot

4:21 PM PST on February 10, 2023

A look at of the new buses in front of some structure NIMBYs once opposed. 🙂

Here are a few Streetsblog news nuggets to start your weekend.

Presidio gets electric buses

The Presidio runs two routes on its Presidio GO bus system, which offers free connections to and from downtown and BART, as well as a lift around the park itself on its South Hills route. The Presidio Trust is now phasing in battery-electric buses to reduce emissions. From a Presidio statement:

The Presidio Trust is modernizing and improving its system by gradually converting to battery-electric buses. The new battery-electric bus has a low floor and a wheelchair ramp that will ease boarding for wheelchair users, families, and those with limited mobility.

The new bus will operate on the South Hills Route beginning in mid-February. The South Hills Route is free, available to all, and never requires a Presidio GO Shuttle pass. It operates from 6 am to 7 pm on weekdays and 11 am to 6 pm on weekends.

Calculations provided by the Presidio indicated that the buses, manufactured by BYD Motors, are expected to reduce the shuttle fleet’s carbon footprint by 12 percent or 50 metric tons of CO2 per year. The current fleet that these buses will replace is powered by natural gas.

Amtrak piloting a modern payment system on trains between San Jose and Sacramento

Clipper reader on Amtrak. Photo: Streetsblog/Rudick
Clipper-style reader on Amtrak. Photo: Streetsblog/Rudick
Clipper reader on Amtrak. Photo: Streetsblog/Rudick

Streetsblog happened upon this while taking a short hop on Amtrak from Hayward to Jack London Square while covering a story. As Bay Area advocates struggle to rationalize the region’s transit fare payment structure, one sore point has always been that Amtrak’s Capitol Corridor trains, which are managed by BART with stations between San Jose, Oakland, Emeryville, and Sacramento, somehow aren’t on the Clipper system, even for trips within the Bay Area. The trains could act as a real supplement to BART and regional buses, if not for Amtrak’s antiquated fare-collection system, which is often too arduous to even bother for a super short ride (the other problem is the lack of frequency, but that’s for another day).

To address this, the operator has quietly started a pilot to take bank cards, so someone can tap on and tap off, much as how one rides Caltrain with Clipper. From the project website:

Pay on the Go. Become a Tapper. Be the first to participate in Capitol Corridor’s Tap2Ride trial program. Simply tap your credit card or debit card to pay as you go. You’ll board faster and easier.

This is part of the Capitol Corridor’s Cal-ITP program, an ongoing project to simplify fare collection. This is actually a step beyond the Bay Area’s current Clipper system, which requires one to use a separate card or phone app linked to one’s credit or debit card. If you ride Amtrak locally, be sure to sign up for the pilot.

And last but not least, SFMTA does a nifty treatment at Church and Market

SFMTA's new treatment, Church and Market. Photo: Streetsblog/RudickSFMTA’s new treatment, Church and Market. Photo: Streetsblog/Rudick

Not too much to say except “keep going SFMTA!” about this new, quick-build treatment spotted at Church and Market designed to make things a bit safer for all users and to improve access to the Muni J Church. Many Streetsblog readers have probably already seen this either in the real world or on social media. Streetsblog hopes SFMTA will follow through with concrete and maybe planters or heavy public art to make sure motorists can never drive into this space. For now, it’s enough to say it looks nice and seems to reduce conflicts between cyclists and transit riders and, one hopes, it makes the whole Market and Church intersection, just behind the position where the photo was taken, a little less crazy.

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