Self-Driving Vehicles Are Going to Make Traffic Even More Miserable, Says New Study

By Taylor Donovan Barnett : interestingengineering – excerpt

Whether you like it or not, self-driving cars will be hitting the road in full-force in the coming years. Thanks to new technology developed by companies like Tesla and even Uber, autonomous vehicles will become a staple of modern culture, with nearly 10 million self-driving cars expected to hit the road by 2020.

Yet, not all is well across the autonomous landscape. Like any new technology, there have literally been speed bumps in the world of self-driving cars. From accidents to malfunctioning AI, self-driving vehicles are still very much in their infancy.

However, new research in the world of autonomous vehicles has uncovered another potential issue down the line, parking. Anyone living in a metropolitan area will tell you that parking is always a long-winded adventure. According to a new study, autonomous vehicles could create a problematic parking issue…

The Autonomous Vehicle Parking Problem

Professor Millard breaks down his concerns further in his published paper, “The Autonomous Vehicle problem.” In his paper, he estimates that just the presence of the relatively small amount of 2,000 self-driving vehicles in the San Francisco area will slow traffic to less than 2 miles per hour(more)

Want to work on a job that is threatened by this new tech future plan? Do not want to live in the slow lane? Maybe take this up with your state public utility regulation agency, your state reps and your local government officials now. Insist on a pubic conversation about this new technology.

Los Angeles Is Now Offering Car Rides to Metro Stations

By Aarian Marshall : wired – excerpt

Public transit agencies are not known for their flashy, up-to-date technology. In many cities, you’re lucky if your diesel bus shows up on time. But this week, the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority is trying something new.

Starting today, riders who live near three Metro stations will be able to download an app, tap a few times, and have a car show up at their door—or at least within a few blocks—and take them to that station. The service, provided by ride-hail company Via, will cost riders with the system’s TAP cards $1.75, though it will be free for those who already use Metro’s low-income subsidy programs. Riders will share their car trips with between two and five others, but the agency says they shouldn’t have to wait longer than 10 minutes for a pick-up.

If LA has its way, the one-year experiment with on-demand service will solve the devious first-mile, last-mile problem, connecting those who live just a touch too far away from stations to get there. The idea is to make it easier for a whole new group of people to use mass transit. “We’ve created an additional layer of public transportation,” says Chris Snyder, Via’s head of global expansion. “It’s complementary.”… (more)

This sounds like a jitney service similar to the one San Francisco just nixed. This also looks like a last gasp effort to an “anything but” solution that is picking winners among the corporate choices, but, I suppose any service can offer a cheap alternative, including neighbors with their own cars. Hope it works for the public who needs it.

Legal battle over new Bay Area bridge toll hikes could stall region’s transit projects

By Kevin Fixler : pressdemocrat – excerpt

Commuters will pay an extra $1 to cross the Bay Area’s seven state-owned bridges come Jan. 1, as part of a voter-approved measure to raise money for major transit upgrades. But the improvements could be delayed after state and transportation officials were hit with an unanticipated legal roadblock, preventing release of hundreds of millions of dollars for cash-strapped road projects, including a North Bay Highway 101 widening.

The Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association, a statewide taxpayers’ rights advocacy group, filed a lawsuit in July against the California Legislature and the Bay Area Toll Authority, arguing the ballot measure allowing $3 in bridge toll hikes over the next six years constitutes a tax rather than a fee. Therefore, the group contends, Regional Measure 3 should have met the state requirement of two-thirds majority for approval, instead of the 55 percent support it received from voters across the Bay Area’s nine counties.

The legal complaint, filed in San Francisco Superior Court, was amended in October, and a date has yet to be set for the case… (more)

’Tis the Season to Share the Ride

mtc – excerpt

MTC and its Bay Area partners have launched several new Bay Area promotions to encourage Bay Area travelers to share the ride. “It’s the season for sharing, so share a ride and be rewarded in more ways than one,” said Barbara Laurenson, manager of MTC’s carpool program.

MTC’s recently established Bay Area Vanpool Program is offering direct subsidies to new and existing vanpools, thanks to an infusion of over $9.5 million approved by MTC  in July of 2018 for the next five years. “Vanpooling is a good option for commuters traveling 40 miles or more each way and who have pretty regular schedules,” said Lloyd Nadal, program manager for Solano County, where many of the region’s vanpools originate. Qualifying vanpools that rent their vehicles through Enterprise (the preferred vendor for the Vanpool Program) can now reduce the cost of their monthly van rates by $350, courtesy of MTC. Vanpool groups can apply for subsidies at Commute With Enterprise. Vanpoolers can pay for their remaining vanpool costs with pretax dollars, further reducing the cost of their shared commute… (more)

Why are carpools and car shares so unpopular? For years government has been trying to entice people into carpool lanes and car shares, but, for some reason, not many people bite, even when it means driving in crowded slower lanes, and paying higher tolls to drive solo.

Financial incentives haven’t made much difference either. One of the local TV news teams set up competition to see who got some faster using various means of transportation, and the slowest commute was the attempt to pick up a ride at a casual car share station. Nobody stopped to pick anyone up.

There has to be a reason that is eluding the transit professionals. Could it be a general distrust of strangers? Could it be that fear is the motivating factor that keeps people in their cars? Is the need to feel in control of one’s own destiny is more important than saving time and money? Is putting oneself in the hands of an unreliable system that breaks down daily too much to ask?

Patience Wearing Thin

Politico – excerpt

The chairman of the Assembly Transportation Committee called Thursday for the resignation of Dan Richard, chairman of the California High Speed Rail Authority’s board of directors, and for stronger legislative oversight on development of the bullet train after a scathing audit was released this month, reports POLITICO’s Angela Hart…

Richard responded Thursday evening: “Today, Vice Chair Tom Richards and COO Joe Hedges had a productive dialogue with members of the Legislature. Our primary focus remains continuing to improve this transformative project – the biggest job creator in the Central Valley in decades – we are proud of our accomplishments, always open to constructive advice, but have no need to respond to errant and uninformed attacks.”

Looks like this blame thing is going around. All kinds of mistakes are surfacing as the politicos attempt to shift the problem to a person and not their concept or system that is not performing as they would like. Could anyone have made this turkey fly?

This is being hailed as the “biggest job creator in the Central Valley”. And here we thought it was supposed to replace the need for air traffic between SF and LA. If the intention is to create jobs, the High Speed Rail must be a big success.

Maybe the better use of taxpayer funds would be to move the businesses to the Central Valley where the workers need jobs and housing is not a problem. Moving jobs where they are needed solves three problems: Jobs, housing and transportation and the corporations can pay for construction of the new offices and building, saving the taxpayer billions in expenses.

Is the Republican story about repealing the gas tax hike too good to be true?

By Ben Christopher : calmatters – excerpt (includes graphics)

California Republicans say that drivers can have smoother roads, more reliable public transit—and lower taxes.

In November, voters will get the chance to repeal a recent increase in the state gas tax and assorted vehicle fees. That tax hike—an extra 12 cents per gallon of gasoline, 20 cents per gallon of diesel, and two new vehicle registration fees—was signed into state law last year, part of a Democratic-led transportation package that directs an extra $5 billion per year toward the state’s dilapidated roads and highways. Making voters pay more at the pump is a tough political sell, but Democrats and other defenders of the law argue that our infrastructure is long overdue for an upgrade. The gas tax hasn’t been increased in over 20 years while the cost of highway construction has tripled. And, they say, you can’t get something for nothing.

Not so, say supporters of the repeal, Proposition 6. Chief among them is John Cox, the Republican running to be California’s next governor… (more)

RELATED:
How California Really Spends Gas Tax Dollars

Bay Area transit agencies among several to receive billions in state funds

By: Daniel Montes :ktvu – excerpt

SAN FRANCISCO (BCN) – The California State Transportation Agency on Thursday announced it would give out more than $2.6 billion to 28 transit agencies statewide, including the San Francisco Municipal Transit Agency, Caltrain and BART, as well as several other Bay Area agencies.

The grant funding is part of the Transit and Intercity Rail Capacity Program and will go toward expanding rail capacity and reducing congestion, according to CalSTA officials.

In addition to the $2.6 billion, which will be used for the 2018/2019 fiscal year to the 2022/2023 fiscal year, CalSTA will also provide additional funds for some critical projects between the 2023/2024 fiscal year and the 2027/2028 fiscal year, totaling more than $4.3 billion, CalSTA officials said…

“When the legislature stepped up and passed Senate Bill 1 and extended Cap and Trade last year, these are exactly the kinds of public transportation projects I wanted to see fund,” Wiener said, referring to the Road and Repair Accountability Act of 2017… (more)

Can California sustain the inflationary spiral our state legislature is setting us up for? This is not free money. This appears to be the road repair money we were promised would come out of SB1. How much road repair have we seen? All the shiny new buses need better roads too.

Now the MTC wants us to cough up more money into their coffers by passing one of the most inflationary bills every imagined, Regional Measure Three.

Not only would RM3, as it is known, add at least $3 to the bridge tolls on all the state bridges in the 9-county region, if it passes it will trigger immediate costs of living increases as the cost of shipping everything, including food, goes up. In addition to guaranteed inflation, the voters will see the following impacts:

  • Automatic increases based on inflation that the bill is certain to trigger.
  • The bridge tolls will be used to pay down the considerable bond debt the tax payers have already agreed to.
  • Voters will give up their right to control future bridge toll increases.

FOR THESE AND MANY OTHER REASONS, WE SUGGEST YOU OPPOSE RM3.
And Consider voting to Repeal SB 1. This state imposed bill has already had a negative impact on many lives and businesses in the state as diesel gas prices are already soaring. A bill to repeal the gas tax and return the right to decide future increase will probably be on the November 2018 ballot.

Power players map strategy to get Bay Area bridge toll hike passed in June

By Matier and Ross : sfchronicle – excerpt

THERE IS AN OPPOSITION TO RM3!
The media is just ignoring it. Not all community leaders support RM3. Find out why: RM3 Handout

Big names and big money are banding together to sell voters in June on a $3 toll increase on state-run Bay Area bridges to pay for a laundry list of road, rail and ferry projects throughout the region — some sexy and some not so much.

While there has been no organized opposition, one vocal opponent is Rep. Mark DeSaulnier, D-Concord.

“The projects they are talking about are all over the place and are based more on political relationships than on transportation engineering,” DeSaulnier said.

State Assemblywoman Catharine Baker, R-San Ramon, is also opposed, largely because the measure allows for automatic toll increases in the future based on inflation.

“And they can do it without any vote of the people or the Legislature,” Baker said…

OPPOSITION TO RM3 is growing as more people find out about this draconian tax, that is not a tax. How well has the gas tax worked so far? How many streets and bridges have been repaired?

Passage of this bill is an open-ended invitation to (WHO EXACTLY?) to raise the rates based on inflation. Inflation is built into these rates, which, along with the gas tax, unless it is repealed, will assure inflation. Every truckload of products crossing state bridges in the Bay Area will add to the cost of living, including the cost of food. Food and gas costs have already gone up.

WE MUST STOP RM3! JOIN THE OPPOSITION!

Regional tax elections rules do not match other ballot initiatives. There are no paid ballot arguments allowed. Only one argument per county is allowed.

These special rules only apply to regional ballot issues. This is a good reason to oppose them. More reasons are here: RM3 Handout