Year: 2012

New Google satellite imagery for Fresno (summer 2012)

Google has just pushed out updated satellite coverage of the Fresno area on Google Maps. This happened in the past 24 hours, because just yesterday I coincidentally booted up Google Earth to see if a secret update was available (one not shown on Maps). Nothing was there, and yet today when looking up something completely unrelated, I noticed a roundabout that wasn’t in the last update…meaning brand new recent pictures. The roundabout caught my eye because a couple of months ago someone emailed me to let me know it was being built. I’ll write about that in the near future.

The imagery updated today was taken on August 26, 2012. That’s pretty damn recent for Google. There’s a lengthy turnaround time from when the images are taken because of all the processing and such required to make sure all the pictures line up perfectly, and there are no clouds or shadows. Click to read more!

Impaired driver? Honda knows you

Honda has been running an ad campaign about the new Accord for over a month now. This past week, I’ve been watching some shows on Hulu (possibly too many) and it seems like every other ad is the same Honda piece which shows off their newest and greatest safety feature. That feature is the car beeps at you when you are so incapable of driving, that you’ve found yourself driving into the lane of oncoming traffic.

A version of the ad (Youtube)

I’ve two main problems with the ad. The first, is that you can only
see the same video so many times before wanting to torch the product
featured, regardless of what it is. Seriously, watch 4 shows on Hulu
over a week and you’ll see it at least 15 times. Click to read more!

SUV passenger shoots cyclist in back

Shocking story in today’s Fresno Bee. A man cycling in the outskirts of Fresno was shot in the back by a passenger in a vehicle, using a rifle.

Mike Montanez, a 22-year Sheriff’s Office veteran, was cycling when he heard a sound and felt something strike his back, a sheriff’s spokesman said. The deputy was knocked from his bike.

When he looked up, the deputy saw a passenger in the rear of an SUV pull a rifle back inside the vehicle.

The deputy said there were three people in the vehicle, which was driving north on Friant Road.

The vehicle was described as a dark blue Chevrolet or GMC Suburban-type SUV. It appeared to be a model from about 1990. Click to read more!

NJT gets message, offers some replacement bus service

A few days ago, I wondered why transit agencies generally don’t offer substitute bus service when their trains are down for extended periods due to severe weather problems.

Looks like New Jersey Transit finally got the memo, and began offering some form of bus service. One major concern is that commuters still need a car to get to the park-and-ride lots, as the buses won’t be stopping at the train stations. That is, if you walk to your local station, you’re out of luck.

The issue NJT looks to try and solve is having too many customers coverge on the few trains that are operating. Click to read more!

Amtrak California offering 20% college discount

Amtrak has been offering college students in California a discounted ticket option for travel from now until June 13, 2013. Sadly, there are blackout dates, like Thanksgiving weekend, but there are many opportunities to save money.

Not all college IDs are valid for the discount, but in the Central Valley students at Fresno State, Fresno City, Bakersfield State, and UC Merced are among those included in the promotion.

Tickets must be purchased online at least three days in advance at this website, which also has the full list of details and restrictions. ID is presented on board if requested.

If you’re making the trip anyway, why not save money. If you plan on driving for your trip, do the math and there’s a good chance taking the train will save you money. Click to read more!

Curious lack of replacement bus service

Hurricane Sandy has reminded me of something that bothered me in the past – the lack of substitute bus service when the weather shuts down rail lines for long periods of time.  For example, I lived in DC the summer of 2009, and a few months later I was reading about metro being closed for almost a week due to snow. My friend who still lived there reported the office was open, so commuters were expected to make their way in. Without a car, and without transit service, what is one expected to do? I had lived in Takoma, and without Metro, making my way to work would have been near impossible. Public officials provided no substitute bus service even though the roads had been (eventually) plowed. For a region so dependent on public transport, I’ve always found this to be very odd. My memory is hazy on all these snowmaggedon events, but VRE and MARC were closed for some time as well, with no provisions for alternate travel. Click to read more!

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!