Friday, September 27, 2013

Please, please, please have the BART Long Term Metro Study (Bay Area Rapid Transit -- Hello!)  scope include studying the cost/benefit and huge capacity increase that would come if BART closes the 21 mile Peninsula gap between Millbrae and the future terminus at Santa Clara/University.  
Caltrain is at capacity and has proven 55,000 riders per day, with more Peninsula Corridor density in planning Only BART can address such high-density Smart Growth/Sustainable Communities Strategy vertical growth sprawl.
A key option to keep costs down, benefits up,  is to replace the dangerous, deadly (11 dead this year, 23 since last year's start, and 199 since 1/1/1995) Peninsula Caltrain at-grade "kill train." BART has all the features of proposed Caltrain improvements, with electrified, grade-separated, savings by having only one Bay Area heavy rail administration, reduced Caltrain SF SoMa footprint and TBT docks for BART, no longer Caltrain, and, by being around the Bay (as per Perata's suggestion, 09-26-13), gain more transit efficiency for taxpayers and riders.

Enabled two-way BART Around the Bay greatly improves BART capacity and alternative routing of BART cars for incident recovery/avoidance.   BART can share most Peninsula rail corridor ROW with HSR/Freight trains separate tracks (of course), with some, but limited need for more ROW acquisition/eminent domain, or, as part of the Peninsula Grand Blvd (El Camino Real) project corridor study, above or below ground level.

The Long Term BART Metro Study must consider the full loop of BART Around The Bay to save tax dollars in the long-term, increase TOD use, reduce congestion (Caltrain delays 100,000 cars each day--at least), reduce GHG and brake particulates, and increase pedestrian, cyclist and cross-traffic safety.  The SF Bay Area needs one-seat heavy rail 24-hr high capacity, modern, electrified, grade-separated, safe rail, like many major US and EU cities.  That means BART. After all, now even Santa Clara and San Mateo County residents are paying sales taxes for BART--but those in the 21 mile gap from Millbrae and Santa Clara are not getting their moneys worth!

Plan to Build BART Around The Bay, Now!

Friday, September 6, 2013

Stanford Dance and community Arts leader, Susan Cashion, whose death at Palo Alto, California's Charleston Rd crossing is the third death by Caltrain this year at theCharleston Rd crossing.  Whether by all-to-easy suicide for those, hopefully temporarily depressed, or by accident, is yet another sorrowful death in the too-long history of the surface level, 1863 trackage that is outmoded and outdated, but serves, sorry to say, as the 30 year placeholder for High Speed Rail up the Peninsula. Both Gov Jerry Brown and local politician, long-time HSR train leader, Rod Diridon Sr, admitted on the air, KCBS "Meet the Press" and KBAY Sunday 6:00am show that they have been working to bring High Speed Rail "for 30 years"  Despite my pleas over the past two years to Palo Alto, Menlo, and Mountain View city councils, Caltrain and Santa Clara County VTA and other politicians and groups to beg, plead, urge these govt orgs to at least start the 15 year or so process to bring the far safer BART (yes, still some suicides, but far fewer), electrified and grade-separated, non-congesting, non-polluting, high-capacity, efficient trains, down the last 28 miles from Millbrae, through Burlingame, San Mateo (Bay Meadows Devel), Hillsdale Shopping Ctr, Stanford+ Palo Alto etc to join with BART's planned station in SCU. This final Bay Area loop closure will save lives and tie all these Bay Area universities, shooping districts, sports venues and our communities together far safer.  Yet, not one of the Democrat-controlled bodies or Democrat members in the Democrat monopoly of elected officials has dared to look to bring BART down (despite the thousands of jobs and access it will bring) and virtually eliminate such sad events and losses to the community as Susan's and so many others, from a Pay Pal executive, to a County employee caught on the tracks between cars, to even Democrat-activist visitors from Indiana, unfamiliar with the deadly Caltrain tracks, who panicked during the 30 seconds it took for the train to hit and kill her from when the first gate movement and flashing lights started.  The truly sad reason for keeping this train, and blocking BART coming down is because every Democrat, backed by the labor unions and misguided Sierra Club (offshoot "Friends of Caltrain") with its now-big business/high Density developer and High Density Builder focus, want to use the same-width Caltrain tracks (BART's are different) irrespective of the financial, community, or killings (both human and astray animals on its tracks) horrible impacts.

Politics and Democrat campaign support payoffs are more important than the safety of those who cross the tracks to local politicians, San Jose and Peninsula city councils, and state (Gordon, Hill--worst of the worst!), Beall, Yee, Simitian, etc) and federal legislators (Speier, Eshoo, Honda, Lofgren). Susan's death is the 9th this year 2013, the 21st since 1/1/2012, 197th since 1995, yet no one cares enough to overcome this stupidity with the better, safer BART alternative to plug into for whoe intra-regional transit benefit. Please help stop these tragedies by writing your local legislators, newspaper letters and Online Comments and Patch. I with others plan to be at the next regular Palo Alto City Council Public Comment on Monday, 9/9/13, 7:00pm to ask, plead, again (probably to no avail without lots of help from local residents) to stop this tragic, politically-inspired, payoff that keeps Caltrain for future HSR on its deadly tracks. .

My sympathies for her loved ones and those that knew and benefited from Susan's wonderful life.  Perhaps this tragedy will be a catalyst for change from this deadly 75mph Caltrain that races through our streets and neighborhoods at ground level. In the 15 years or so of aggressive planning and fund search, another 160 persons, at least, can be anticipated to die on the Caltrain Killtrain tracks, at the current years' death rates by accidents (60%) and suicides (40%).  So much suffering, only for political cause, Democrats HSR desire. Tragic, just tragic insensitivity.  How many more must die?

I will post this on my BARTAroundThe Bay blogspot. Omar

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

More on why BART must replace Caltrain...August 29, 2013 Sixth Palo Alto death in 1 year. Ms Cashion, Charleston

The Caltrain (Killtrain) / HSR monies that were approved this week by Governor Jerry Brown in Senate Bill 557 authored by the S.F. Peninsula's Supreme Hypocrite State Senator Jerry Hill's, should instead have gone to extend BART through Burlingame and into north San Mateo, as another step to the new Bay Meadows housing and other Corridor TODs, the expanding Bohanan Hillsdale Shopping Center, and Stanford University/Palo Alto enroute to its complete S.F. Bay Area loop closure at the future Santa Clara University (SCU) station.
The Headline-a-week, Grandstander-Par Excellance Jerry Hill (and to a lesser degree, other Caltrain/HSR union labor supported Democrats) are quick to submit legislation to prevent future limousine (5 dead) deaths and San Bruno (8 dead) deaths, and, even expresses concern for the suicides of 18 San Quentin Death Row murderer's. Yet, Hill has been not only served on, but also presided over, as Chair, the Caltrain killer train board of directors for years.  Hill, Congresswoman Speier (a Congresswoman who has built her whole public career on sympathies that she leverages at election time from the deaths around her: her former Congressman boss, Leo Ryan in Jonestown, her first husband, a surgeon killed on El Camino by an uninsured motorist, gun deaths legislation, and, with incredible chutzpah, in the latest election year, 2012, Speier announced that she had her fetus, a baby-to-be, killed in her womb by abortion that she, a busy Congresswoman, had to have performed "for her health."
Caltrain locomotive #925 is emblazoned with her name for her years-long support--and callous disregard for the human lives Caltrain has taken over the years. 
Tragic all the way around. 

Indeed, the Democrat/union monopolistic lock on SF Bay Area politics, Hill, Speier, Mullin, Gordon, Eshoo, Beall,  Tisser, etc. fight for the killer Caltrain, now a formal placeholder for HSR and Corridor high-density and higher property taxes, while over 200 people have been killed by this train over most of these politicians' political career's that started in the early 1990's. The Democrats consistent callous disregard for human life in this Caltrain+HSR corridor, defines political hypocrisy at its worst, creating the HSR Altar of Death on its standard gauge tracks.  BART tracks have a different width than Caltrain/HSR, thus, BART is safer because of the unique BART Bay Area closed circuit high-capacity, grade-separated, electrified, intra-regional trackage.  
The Senate Bill 557 $600M are only for Caltrain EU-like electrification, not grade separations, thus 100,000 motorists and even more people (passengers, bicyclists, and pedestrians) continue to be delayed each day as each of the many Caltrains pass at-grade intersections, adding thousands of hours delay and adding tons of Caltrain congestion-generated pollutants into the atmosphere that we breath.  

We can be sure that Caltrain cost overruns will occur as with most train capital projects. In the future, the planned San Jose Downtown "Grand Central" Station is already planned for BART, like the SF TBT, thus saving more millions by removing the need for separate station platform and amenities for the outdated surface-level Caltrain commuter train killer. The $600M and more, should be spent to extend BART south into and past Burlingame into north San Mateo, and, from the south into downtown San Jose enroute to the joint terminus SCU station.  

After all, both San Mateo and Santa Clara County have sales taxes, the latter more than one tax, to fund BART now!
Unlike Pittsburgh or Philadelphia or New Jersey or most of Southern California, Caltrain commuter-type surface trains don't belong here any longer. Because BART around the Bay is a very realistic, safer, grade-separated, congestion-free, single-seat (fewer transfers) and more feature-rich alternative that serves many SF Bay Area residents already, completing it as the Bay Area backbone, heavy rail, high capacity closed loop railway passenger system requires only a relatively short distance remaining to be built.

With the known planning of millions of more square footage and higher density development near and adjacent to the Peninsula (now-Caltrain) Corridor each year, only BART's two-way Bay Area loop operation can meet the upcoming demand. The Peninsula's US 101 is simply too congested. US101 has reached width capacity in most communities. Major right-of way (ROW) expansion to handle this urban (Smart Growth/Sustainable Living Strategy/Agenda 21/OBAP) densification into local communities by eminent domain will  likely result in significant disruption and protest.   
History clearly demonstrates that more human (and animal) deaths will occur proportionally over time on Caltrain tracks rather than BART, if human deaths are a matter of concern at all to Caltrain+HSR bigot-advocates, such as the human-subordinating, high density development organizations like the Sierra Club, TransForm, SPUR, etc. (despite their misguided, well-intentioned efforts).

In discussing the Peninsula Corridor with a retired Caltrain engineer, many domestic and wildlife animals are slaughtered on these tracks by Caltrains as well. He estimates that the Caltrains that he has operated over the years have run over an estimated 60 dogs, other animals, and carillon-eating wildlife during his career when they, too, could not get out of the way of his fast moving surface-level Caltrain. Where are the animal activists?

Too, note that BART Around The Bay (BAB) eliminates the need to rebuild the Dumbarton Rail bridge and, better yet, enable the removal of the old, decaying former rail bridge piers that have stood since 1910 in the midst of the South Bay's Don Edwards Wildlife Refuge. Then, the Refuge can be fully restored back to its pre-1910 natural purity since BAB will serve the same communities this additional surface-level Dumbarton Caltrain Rail system would have served, but with no human or animal deaths nor new congestion along the planned route from the East Bay to Redwood City. 
So, how much are human lives worth, particularly those by accident or those suffering a temporary depression that would not have resulted in suicide had the Killtrain been more difficult to access where Caltrain crosses at grade level at 50-75 mph, such as Charleston, Menlo Park, Sunnyvale, Burlingame, San Mateo streets?

Note that many deaths, suicide and accidents don't occur at intersections, but easy-to-access, street-level, walk-on, at-grade Caltrain tracks.  
Recall, that despite "the way we've already done it", i.e. Caltrain, in this supposedly Innovative Bay Area, BART would be one-seat around the Bay as Transit Mobility must accomplish to compete with the two automobile one-seat freeway loops that exist around the Bay.
I believe that the investment in BART while seemingly more expensive short-term, has huge savings and benefits long-term (all the above, plus one set of administration, equipment, and maintenance requirements), single-design capital costs, especially if the Caltrans ROW can be used. The ROW is already govt-owned. human life takings, reduced cars on the roads, reduced pollution, fewer GHG, better air quality, and better SF Bay Area Transit Mobility to handle growth with BART facilities' already huge SF Bay Area reach and proven ridership that serves so many Bay Area constituencies noted above.