Month: October 2012

Will Megabus serve Fresno this time?

It’s been a badly kept secret, but Megabus is returning to California later this year. Megabus originally entered the California market in 2007, but left in mid 2008 due to poor ridership. Believe it or not, but Megabus served California before they began operations in the northeast corridor, which is now their strongest market.

Back in 2007, service was focused on LA, with routes to Vegas, San Francisco, Phoenix and San Diego. The Central Valley was not served, as the buses used I-5 to express between LA and the Bay Area. Megabus was unhappy with ridership, and took all their buses east. Click to read more!

Thoughts about DC (mostly biking)

This past weekend I was in DC for the first time since the summer of 2009, when I lived there for three months. While I’ve followed the transportation developments in the city, thanks to excellent blogs like Greatergreaterwashington and Washcycle, I hadn’t actually set foot in the city since. I got to appreciate the large difference in reading about changes vs experiencing them in person. In this post, I will talk about what I saw during my weekend there. Unlike my trip to Philly, there aren’t AS many pictures sadly.

Back in 2009, the city was a very different place when it came to bike infrastructure. Capital Bikeshare didn’t exist, it was still the tiny Smartbike system. Pennsylvania Avenue was without the center cycle-track, and the 15h St cycle-track was just a design in a notebook. Generally, bike lanes were rare, and indeed during my time there in 2009 I barely used a bike. While I had one, I used it only a couple of times for recreation near my home in Takoma, and never downtown. This weekend, I must have ridden a loaned cycle at least ten times over the course of two and a half days. Click to read more!

An analysis of Fresno/Clovis rail-trail (3): Old Town to Sierra

Sorry for the huge gaps of time between these posts, but they actually take a fair amount of time to put together.

Today we continue our look at the Fresno-Clovis Rail Trail.

We started south of Shaw, and made our way to Gettysburg.

Then we went from there onwards towards Old Town.

Now we keep going, through Old Town and then north of it to Sierra. Theoretically, the Old Town section of the trail would be the nicest and busiest, since it’s a very popular destination. Sadly, it’s one of the worst section of the trail. For one block, the trail completely disappears. There are multiple intersections that do nothing to accommodate trail users, and the trail has very little connection into the part of Old Town that people care about. Indeed, you can shop, dine and explore without even noticing the trail exists.
  Click to read more!

Amtrak sets annual rider record, raises prices nationwide

Today Amtrak issued a press release (PDF) proclaiming a new annual record, with 31.2 million tickets sold in the past year. Ridership grew 3.5% from 2011, with revenue growing 6.8%. Some other highlights are at the link, including news that the San Joaquin saw a 7.2% increase to 1.1 million rides. While the percentage wasn’t the highest (Piedmont increased 16.2%), it was actually the second largest total increase, with 77,175 new rides. The largest increase was the Keystone, which edged out the San Joaquin by less than new 800 rides.

To celebrate the occasion, Amtrak rolled out a new nationwide fare hike which seems to have affected every route, including California. The fare hike does not appear to be accompanied by any news release, and took effect immediately. Click to read more!

The ferry price paradox

I recently found myself near Manhattan in Jersey City and Hoboken. Besides enjoying the view of Manhattan, I noticed the great pieces of infrastructure known as the ferry terminals, which offered very quick (and wonderfully scenic) trips to Manhattan.

Everybody loves ferries. They’re fun. They’re not claustrophobic. They are quick and can be very direct (no trudging up and down stairs in large stations). The fresh air, the smell of the breeze….it’s the most refined way to cross a body of water.

Problem is, they’re not as popular as they should be, and the reason for that is price. Click to read more!

Wouldn’t a functional transit system be nice for times like this?

The big news this week in California is a “perfect storm” of events which led to gas prices skyrocketing in an unprecedented way.


The surge isn’t expected to last long, but it may take over a week for prices to return to the $4.10 level they were in Fresno at the beginning of this week.

Even a short term surge can wreck havoc on low income families that are forced to depend on cars due to a bad transit system. Fresno has the highest density of poverty in the country, one of the highest unemployment rates, and a city built around the car. That’s a recipe for disaster. Click to read more!

Lamp Post Bar closing

It was less than a year ago that I wrote a review about the Lamp Post Bar and Cozy Thai restaurant that had recently opened downtown. Cozy Thai closed a couple of months ago, and now the Lamp Post will close on the 8th (announced via their facebook).

It’s a shame to see two new business close their doors so soon, especially because they brightened up a rundown corner of downtown….which is also probably the reason they didn’t make it. Fortunately, Lum’s Chop Suey is still there and does brisk business at lunch.

The businesses were located a quick walk from the corner of Divisadero and Fulton, which always has people thanks to the Iron Bird businesses and Fulton 55. Unfortunately, while the Lamp Post was only .2 miles away (Google estimates a 3 minute walk) they felt like they were in a different city. Click to read more!

New old trains coming to Amtrak’s San Joaquin

Thanks in part to some of the stimulus money of 2010, Amtrak California will be receiving 42 new rail-cars to service the three in-state routes it runs. Sadly, that process is slow, and the builder of those trains has only just been announced, with deliveries not set to begin until 2015.

With rail ridership on a non-stop upwards trend now, what can the state rail agency do to increase capacity in the short term?

The answer lies in buying used.

Or in this case, VERY used.

California earlier this year made a subdued announcement about the work they’re doing to bring new train cars to the valley. I haven’t seen the media report on this, but there was a presentation a few weeks ago that shed light on the work. Click to read more!