Archive for the ‘Transportation’ Category

Ride the Rails for FREE Today May 6

ACE Train Celebrates Customer Appreciation Day – Today Ride for FREE!

This from ACE Train:
SAN JOSÉ, Calif. ~ Altamont Commuter Express (ACE) is proud to celebrate Customer Appreciation Day in conjunction with National Train Day on May 6th. Whether you are a veteran rider or a new comer, ACE train will be providing free transportation, refreshments and an easy commute.

ACE works to provide a quality commute for all passengers. Many of its riders spend a significant amount of time in the trains traveling to and from work so this day is meant to celebrate the ACE rider and thank them for their loyalty.

“Our riders have been incredibly supportive of the ACE service, some since the very beginning 12 years ago,” said Thomas Reeves, Manager of Public Affairs and Community Relations. “Offering this free day of travel is one way the San Joaquin Regional Rail Commission can show its appreciation for its passengers and also show off the train to those who may be considering an alternative mode of transportation to work.”

To commemorate this day, current ACE monthly passholders will receive 10% off their June pass.

National Train Day, which takes place on May 7th, is a day that commemorates the 142nd anniversary of the first transcontinental railroad. By celebrating this day in conjunction with Passenger Appreciation Day, ACE brings to life the rich narrative of how trains have transformed America while appreciating those customers who continue to use ACE rail.

About Altamont Commuter Express:

The Altamont Commuter Express (ACE) provides passenger rail service from the Central Valley to the Bay Area. The train operates weekdays with stations in San Joaquin County, Alameda County and Santa Clara County. The San Joaquin Regional Rail Commission (SJRRC) owns and operates the Altamont Commuter Express. Visit for schedules, fares and more information.

D’Andre Berry
Public Information Officer
Mobile: (209) 649-5079

New Year’s Eve 2010 Free Transportation

Bay Area transit systems (excluding AC Transit) provide free New Year’s Eve bus, train and light rail service to help get you home safe.

VTA offers free bus and light rail service from 7:00 pm on Friday until 3:59 am Saturday.

VTA will operate on a regular weekday schedule on Friday and a Sunday/Holiday schedule Saturday with extended New Year’s Eve Light Rail service.

Last Light Rail trip leaves…

Mountain View at 10:51 pm
Winchester at 1:07 am
Alum Rock at 1:36 am
Santa Teresa at 1:55 am

These VTA commute bus lines will not operate Friday, December 31: 101, 102, 103, 104, 120, 121, 122, 140, 168, 182, 304, 321, 328, 330, DASH and Light Rail Commuter Express trips.

More information including Express Line 180/181 here.

Caltrain offers free rides after 11:00 pm New Year’s Eve with four extra post-midnight southbound trains.

These extra trains will depart the San Francisco station at 12:45 am, 1:15 am, 1:45 am and 2:15 am, making all local stops to the San Jose Diridon station.

Caltrain will operate a Sunday schedule on New Year’s Day.

Note that Caltrain does not allow open alcohol containers on trains after 9:00 pm.

More information here or call 1-800-660-4287

SamTrans offers free rides on New Year’s Eve from 11:00 pm to 2:00 am.

San Mateo County Transit District’s paratransit service providers, RediWheels and RediCoast, also provide free rides between 11:00 pm and 2:00 am.

More information here or call 1-800-660-4287

SF Muni travel, including cable cars, is free from 8:00 pm New Year’s Eve until 6:00 am New Year’s Day.

Additional Metro service from 8:00 pm to 2:15 am from West Portal to Caltrain and until 4:00 am from Embarcadero to West Portal Station.

Extra service on Muni Owl Lines (1:00 am to 5:00 am): 5 Fulton, 14 Mission, 22 Fillmore, 24 Divisadero, 38 Geary, 90 Owl, 91 Owl, and L and N Owl motor coach service. Frequency shortened from 30 to 15 minutes. Note: Extra Owl service is subject to change, based on operating conditions.

More information here.

BART has no special fares for New Years Eve; however, operates extended service until 3:00 am.

New Year’s Eve BART details here.

Vote for your favorite BRT station design

Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) is a system where specially designed buses in dedicated lanes enable highly efficient public transit comparable to light rail with much lower construction and vehicle costs. VTA has completed an environmental impact report and begun preliminary engineering to build a BRT system for the Alum Rock-Santa Clara corridor (replacing the current Rapid 522 service). A future project would add BRT service between Eastridge Mall and De Anza College via Stevens Creek Blvd, supplementing the current route 23 local bus.
Now they’re asking for your input on two options for the design of bus stations along this route. The designs and survey are here.

Thanks to Carrie on the NNASJ mail list for pointing out this survey.

Tour of Proposed Ballpark Site Sparks High Hopes

Okay, I can only speak for myself but as I stood on the corner of San Fernando and Autumn and looked at the proposed site of the San Jose Athletics ballpark I couldn’t help picturing myself walking through the main entrance of the ballpark on game day and I got pretty excited.

Corner of San Fernando and Autumn

Last night Dennis Korabiak of the San Jose Redevelopment committee took a small group of fans(?) on a tour of the area between Diridon Train Station (Rod Diridon just happened to show up)
and the corner (and hallowed ground if hallowed ground can be secular?) that I hope will one day be the home of a major league ball club. The planners envision extended mass transit such as high speed rail, public art, trails, retail shops, restaurants and clubs. The beautiful artist’s renderings of the proposed ballpark made it easy to imagine this vision coming true. You can go to Pro Baseball San Jose for more details and links to the ballpark plans.

San Jose: Free Ride Home after St. Patrick’s Day Binge

You and Your Tipsy Friend

If you can’t find a cab when you need one tonight, AAA is to the rescue.

AAA is offering a free five-mile tow home (make sure your bar of choice is within 5-miles from home) for you, or your tipsy friend.

Obviously a tow truck will not hold all your friends, so keep it to two.

Call the AAA operator @ 800-222-4357 (AAA-HELP) and say, “I need a Tipsy Tow”.

Note: You or your tipsy friend need not be a AAA member!

Where: The San Jose Bay Area

When: St.Patrick’s Day – March 17th

6 PM to 6 AM on the morning of the 18th.

High Speed Rail Open House

Proposed routes for the High Speed Train through San Jose.

Proposed routes for the High Speed Train through San Jose.

I just got back from the California High Speed Rail Authority San Jose – Merced Section open house at Roosevelt Community Center (I read about it here).

I was expecting a stage presentation, but what they did was much better. They presented posters around the room and had dozens of representatives on hand to answer questions. The representatives weren’t just from the PR department, but also included engineers, project managers, etc. The ratio of visitors to hosts was probably only 4:1, which gave a great opportunity to ask any question.

And there were plenty of questions. High speed rail looks like all positives for the city and for the state of California, but there are people who will lose out. Residents from neighborhoods where the train is planned to pass through were there, asking tough questions:

  • How much noise is it going to make?
  • Is it going to disrupt traffic?
  • Is it going to block the view of the mountains, or block the sun from my backyard?

And mostly the Rail Reps had answers, although maybe some homeowners weren’t satisfied. For example, whatever noise the trains make, the rail builders will “mitigate” them to certain levels defined by federal law. But that might mean a giant view-blocking soundwall.

One concern I’ve seen around the net is that these sound walls could be as high as 80 or 90 feet. The rep I talked to said that’s unlikely. On most of the route, the track would be no more than 20 feet above the ground, putting the top of the train about 30 feet up when it goes by. Only in one scenario where the track passes over the 280-101 interchange – which already creates a noisy and unsightly obstruction – would the train be much higher off the ground.

But if those concerns can be satisfied, there’s plenty to gain from a high speed train to LA:

  • High-speed trains use 1/3 the energy of air travel and 1/5 the energy of auto travel.
  • The high-speed train system is expected to cost two to three times less than expanding freeways and airports to meet equal passenger demand.
  • Travel time from San Francisco to Los Angeles is expected to be 2 h 38 m.
  • The rail project is expected to create 150,000 construction jobs, and spur economic development to the tune of 450,000 permanent jobs in California.

(source: California High Speed Rail Authority website)

I am sure hoping this plan can turn into reality in the near future.

New Year’s Eve in San Jose

Enjoy New Year’s Eve in San Jose, but please remember to stay safe if you drink.

A DUI could bring:

3 to 5 years probation or a fine, including court fees – $1400 to $1800.
6 month loss of California driver license
12 to 45 hours of DUI school
Mandatory jail time 48hours – scary!

Cabs will be very busy tonight and into the morning.
One of the safest places to find a taxi is at The Fairmont Hotel @ 170 South Market

This from VTA:
Santa Clara Valley Transportation Authority (VTA) will be providing free service on New Year’s Eve and early New Year’s Day.
VTA recommends passengers check to see what time service ends that evening for the routes they will be riding. On New Year’s Eve, extended hours of operation for will be offered for light rail service and Express Bus Route 180, with all other bus service operating a normal weekday schedule.

New Year’s Eve, Thursday, December 31, 2009:

Light Rail Service

Extended Weekday

Regular Weekday
Most Express, Limited Stop & Rapid 522 Buses

Regular Weekday
Express Bus 180

Extended Weekday
Highway 17 Express

Regular Weekday
Monterey-San Jose Express

Regular Weekday
LR Shuttles-DASH and River Oaks

Regular Weekday
LR Shuttles-IBM/Hitachi

No Service

Extended Weekday
Dumbarton Express

Regular Weekday
ACE Train / Shuttle

Reduced Weekday
New Year’s Day, Friday, January 1, 2010:

VTA Bus and Light Rail Service

Most Express, Limited Stop and Rapid 522 Buses

No Service
Express Bus 180

Light Rail Shuttles (IBM/Hitachi, DASH, River Oaks)

No Service
Dumbarton Express

No Service
ACE Train/Shuttles

No Service
Highway 17 Express

Monterey-San Jose Express


WHEN: Beginning at 7 p.m., Thursday, December 31, through 3:59 a.m. Friday, January 1, 2010.

HOW: VTA’s Customer Service Call Center and Downtown Customer Service Center will be closed on New Year’s Day. Customers may contact VTA’s 24-hour Customer Service Line at (408) 321-2300 to access VTA schedule information via touch-tone telephone in English and Spanish.

For additional information please contact VTA’s Customer Service Center at (408) 321-2300, TTY for the hearing-impaired only, (408) 321-2330. Or log onto and click on the blue envelope icon to sign-up for VTA bus/light rail email.

New Bike Lanes for Downtown San Jose

I just saw this article on Stretsblog San Francisco, thanks to Jonathan at NNASJ. Basically, if a new bicycle plan passes in City Council on November 17, look forward to some dramatic improvements to bicycle access downtown in the coming years. The city is looking in to some experimental lane configurations (according to CalTrans, although they’re all things that have been done successfully elsewhere) that should make it safer and more convenient to ride major east-west and north-south corridors.

Future bike trail threatened


Willow Glen Extra reported the other day on a threat to the “Three Creeks” bike trail proposed to link trails along Coyote Creek, the Guadalupe River, and Los Gatos Creek. The trail is planned by the city of San Jose to be built along abandoned railroad rights of way, but money hasn’t yet been found to purchase the land.

In the meantime, the railroad has sold portions of the land off to other parties, and now one purchaser is planning to build a structure over the proposed trail site. Stucco Supply Co. is requesting planning approval to build a storage area on the land they acquired from the railroad.

Because planning approval is needed there’s still time for input from the public. With enough support, the planning department can require the property owner to grant an easement for bicycle access through the site, allowing the bike path to pass through the area without having to be diverted onto busy streets.

See the WGx article for more detail, including the names and addresses of appropriate government people to contact if you support development of San Jose’s cycling infrastructure.

Report unsafe rail crossings

Rail crossing at 7th and Jackson in Japantown.

Rail crossing at 7th and Jackson in Japantown.

If you’re a bike commuter, one of the most dangerous parts of your ride is probably that rail crossing. The one with broken pavement and giant potholes all around it and a Himalaya range of mounded up pavement running along each rail. To cross this track without landing on your face, you’ve got to pick your path carefully, and that might mean swerving out into the traffic lane to cross at a relatively flat spot.

In my case, that rail crossing is at the corner of 7th and Jackson Streets, just on the east edge of Japantown. Getting to my old job, it was on 10th Street, just north of Hedding. There’s probably a few crossings just as bad scattered around other parts of town too.

For years, whenever I mention these problem crossings to city staffers, they’ve told me they rely on Union Pacific railroad to maintain railroad crossings, and there’s little they can do to get them fixed. But just this week, I had a chance to mention that crossing again to a group of city transportation engineering managers, and I learned something new.

Jay Thorstensen from the Transportation department emailed me a day later and let me know its possible to contact UP directly to let them know about dangerous track crossings. Contact details are found on the UP website. Basically, for non-emergency track or crossing maintenance issues in California, the number is (916) 789-6114. That gets through to a real person, though its not clear how quickly he can actually respond to problems. I’m hoping at least that enough calls about a particularly problematic crossing can move it to the top of the list for repairs.

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