BAY AREA TRAFFIC AND SMOG: I think it’s high time that other cities/regions get due credit for their lousy traffic and smog.
I was in San Francisco area this past weekend and took the above photo on a decidedly un-breezy day when San Francisco’s smog output wasn’t being blown inland to other parts of the state. Yes, San Francisco produces smog (as well as smug) — but the media doesn’t write much about it, instead focusing on the places where the smog ends up. Places such as the Central Valley and Sequoia National Park.
And while I’m on my soapbox, the Bay Area’s traffic is pretty miserable, too. But we don’t read much about that in the national press because (I’m hypothesizing) national media visiting S.F. or Silicon Valley probably stay in hotels close to their stories, whereas reporters shipped into L.A. usually have to drive to get where they’re going here in Sprawlsville.
For all the transit in the Bay Area and, in particular, San Francisco, everywhere I look there are cars, cars and more cars — and traffic is often terrible on area freeways. You ever try driving from San Francisco to Livermore at rush hour via the Bay Bridge and I-580? It’s no different than going from downtown L.A. to the Antelope Valley — even with a BART train running up the middle of the freeway for part of the trip.
While the Bay Area boasts some excellent transit, there are still challenges. In San Francisco, the roads are narrow, hills are steep, blocks are short and frequent stop signs and traffic signals slow travel considerably. Rail only reaches into a few parts of the city and a four-mile trip in non-peak traffic (Pacific Heights to Pier 33, for example) can easily take 45 minutes via bus and streetcar.
Even with restrictive and expensive parking, traffic and lack of garage space, many San Franciscans still drive. The result: mean travel time to work in San Francisco: 29.1 minutes, according to the Census Bureau. Mean travel time to work in Los Angeles: 29.3 minutes. The only difference, as far as I’m concerned, is volume — we have more people and cars than the 415 Territories.
BONUS SAN FRANCISCO THOUGHT: The pie at Delfina’s is beyond terrific — so is the meatball dish as an appetizer or side. The location at California and Fillmore is easy to reach via the #1 Muni bus that runs on California and Sacramento from downtown or the #22 Fillmore bus.
L.A. STREETCAR FUNDING: I don’t think it’s a big deal at all that the city of L.A. didn’t receive federal funds in the most recent round of so-called Tiger grants.
The streetcar project is still very much in its early stages. I think the money will eventually come, but not until a route is chosen and the project gets through its environmental study phase.
BULLET TRAIN: WORTH IT OR NOT?: I think one of the better pieces I’ve read on California’s high-speed rail project is in this week’s “Tuesday Morning Quarterback” column on ESPN.com by Gregg Easterbrook.
Easterbrook’s weekly analysis of NFL games is always smart and he likes to focus on some of the amazing and dumb mistakes that NFL coaches make over and over again. But he likes to delve into other subjects and has lots to say about whether high-speed rail would work between San Francisco and L.A. — in his view the distance may be too great — and whether people in Iowa, etc., should pay for it.
Give the column a read — the bullet train item is about halfway down. Warning: if cheesy photos of NFL cheerleaders bothers you, close your eyes while reading Easterbrook’s column or have someone recite it to you.
TRANSIT LEADING TO HIGHER EVOLVED BEINGS?: I was on the Gold Line yesterday, three seats down from a dude whose earphones were leaking some kind of awful death-metal-type music. This was due to Universal Law 7.4, subsection 11, which states “those with the most awful taste in music will always play their music the loudest while in public.”
What surprised me is that while the dude had his earphones in, he carried out a regular conversation with the other dude next to him. He wasn’t just going through the motions — Dude #1 could somehow hear Dude #2.
I’m not sure what this says about humanity. Either the dude has highly evolved ears or maybe he’s just a highly evolved moron. Tough call.
HELLO 2012: We’ll be posting very lightly next week as I use the quiet holiday time to prepare some posts for next year.
It should be an interesting year at Metro with a lot going on — the release of the final environmental studies for both the Regional Connector and the Westside Subway Extension and the opening of three major projects: the Expo Line to Culver City, the Orange Line Extension to Chatsworth and the ExpressLanes congestion pricing project on the 10 and 110 freeways.
That’s in addition to all the usual goings-ons. Interesting year it will be, as Yoda might say.