Thursday, June 18, 2009


Sigh. Once upon a time, not that long ago, the East Bay had a light rail system that worked, in the form of the Key Route. By 1948 the streetcars were gone, replaced by buses.

Its intra-city capability was augmented by BART beginning in the 70s. BART is good for getting from city to city, but not so good for getting around within a city unless both your start and destination are near a station. Synchronizing with other systems seems non-existent, which makes getting anywhere take forever. Then there's the whole Oakland Airport Connector debacle, when there are cheaper alternatives available that will get the job done for a small fraction of the price, with more flexibility to boot.

Cars, even hybrids (we've got a 2002 Prius) aren't a good long-term solution in their current form, but one potential good bit of news for the East Bay economy is that the NUMMI plant in Fremont might be used to produce Priuses. Particularly good news since one of the vehicles it current produces is a Pontiac, and the Pontiac line is going away as part of GM's bankruptcy.

Meanwhile, the new light rail system in Phoenix, AZ has 60% higher ridership than projected in its first year. (I doubt the BART OAC will have that good fortune, since air travel from Oakland is down, and the OAC goes one place.) Would light rail be the complete solution to the East Bay's transit problems? Hardly, but it'd be a good place to start. I wish the Key Route was still around. Regardless, the key for any transit system is good route planning.

My next form of transit (besides walking when I can) will probably be an electric bike from Pacific E-Bike. I test rode one the other week, and they're pretty amazing.

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