County Connection has been one of the most interesting transit agencies I've noticed since I moved to the San Francisco Bay Area over a decade ago. While it provides vital public transportation services in central Contra Costa County, stretching from Martinez to Dublin, Orinda to Concord, I believe it has a lot of room for improvement. Luckily, I have a few suggestions that can boost ridership, especially if we consider the number of schools Concord has at the moment. However, it involves addressing the highly dispersed nature of its commercial centers, schools, and other activity centers.
Geneva Avenue is a major arterial road linking neighborhoods as the Excelsior, Crocker-Amazon, and Sunnydale in southeastern San Francisco. However, its role in the eyes of San Francisco Municipal Transportation Authority is as a major transit corridor, which takes advantage of the medium-density commercial and high-density residential structures lining the thoroughfare. SFMTA's short-term goal for Geneva Avenue is to convert it into a bus rapid transit corridor, similar to what is being done along Van Ness Avenue and Geary Boulevard, with a long-term vision of converting it into a light rail corridor. The question I have in mind for Geneva Avenue is, how much time and money are needed to upgrade one of the city's busiest thoroughfares into a transit-friendly corridor?
Since today is Election Day (and I actually voted last May for the Philippine Elections that brought Rodrigo Duterte to power), I've thought about creating a special post today to see which bus, you think, gave you the best impression as it debuted this year.
Last Saturday (5 November 2016), County Connection executives and officials from Federal, state, and local governments have convened outside the Lesher Center for the Arts in Walnut Creek to debut the transit agency's first set of electric buses. Made locally by Gillig in Hayward, the four 29-foot, all-electric trolleybuses are the company's first attempt in developing such buses for transit agencies like County Connection, in collaboration with BAE and Wave that provide the electric battery propulsion and charging systems for the electric buses.
Last Sunday, I brought along a friend of mine visiting from Vermont to MacArthur BART to view the upcoming Fleet of the Future train by BART. Developed and built by Bombardier near Montreal, this new train will feature more passenger-friendly amenities, from 3 doors on each side instead of the current two, to more bike spaces and hanging straps. Perhaps the coolest feature would be brand new, digital route maps and station annunciator systems, features that have been long overdue and badly wanted by passengers. A train test engineer from Bombardier told me that it will start operating the new train (as a 10-car consist) from 2017 as more cars are being brought in from the East Coast.
Bagging a local scholarship for this year's Rail-Volution Conference in San Francisco was by far one of the most intriguing things I've ever received. With a grant of $550 to attend the conference, I've committed myself to attending each and every single day of it, which consisted of dozens of workshops (at the hotel and on the field) to choose from, many social events, and a bountiful of opportunities to meet transportation professionals from around the United States and beyond. I've even made quite a lot of new friends too, for which I am grateful that a wonderful group of transportation planners and staff members from Salt Lake City adopted me as "Utah".
In this series of reflections, I will break it down into multiple parts, in which I will do it on a chronological (day-by-day) basis, full of images I've taken throughout the conference. Heck, I might throw in transit photography as well for good measure!
I attended this year's Muni Heritage Weekend, in which I got to see some of the agency's older vehicles, all of which have been retired from passenger service many years ago. This year's attendance would be my second time attending this event, the first time I went there was last year.
With new station construction and train testing underway, the Sonoma-Marin Area Rail Transit is on track for opening revenue service come Christmas 2016. While it will save me up to 20 minutes' worth of travel time between San Rafael and Novato, there is a major caveat that I need to address.
Attending a board meeting that discusses issues from how the Geary BRT will be implemented to hearing residents' pleas to reopen bus stops is essential in assessing the next steps in reshaping one of San Francisco's most critical issues: transportation. However, going even deeper into meeting people and understanding how a large city's bureaucracy works truly motivates me to go into even more meetings like the one I attended today so that I can figure out how I can finally start my long career as a transportation planner and discover how much work I need to do to convince city, state, and federal leaders to act and do the right things for our infrastructure and mobility.