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  #1361  
Old Posted Jan 27, 2015, 11:56 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by fieldsofdreams View Post
I'm really looking forward to seeing that train being operated here in Novato, in person. And by the way, I attended an Operations and Customer Service Committee meeting with SF Muni lately, in which a Clipper bigwig said that "once SMART train starts operation, it will only accept Clipper as form of payment. No tickets or cash will be accepted."

Source (PDF)
That's great to hear re Clipper. That should encourage transit use. I too am looking forward to seeing and riding the new trains. From pictures I think they look great!

Quote:
Originally Posted by electricron View Post
SMART did look at purchasing lighter, more attractive, off the shelf DMUs - but they were not cheaper as you suggest.
SMART received bids from:
FRA Compliant
CAF $136.7 million
US Railcar $131.5 million
Siemens $121.2 million
Sumitomo $82.7 million
Non FRA Compliant
Stadler $124 million
Siemens $104.6 million
The bids were for building 9 sets of 3 car DMU trains.
Eventually, they ordered just 7 sets of 2 car DMU trains (14 DMUs in total).
That's interesting. I knew SMART took the lowest bid, but I didn't know those included non FRA compliant DMUs.

Quote:
Originally Posted by fieldsofdreams View Post
^^ If that's the case, SMART would have been anticipating lower ridership at first, given the lower density of the line alignment. However, should the need arise, it could order for more train cars (dependent on the track progress along the line, especially that a good chunk of its service is single-tracked). And by the way, I think I will need to get even more information from the sources so that I can provide even more reliable information, especially that I have a solid interest in this project.
I seem to recall an option that allows SMART to order more cars at the cheaper rate should the need arise. I think it has an expiration though, and I'm not sure of any of the specifics.
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  #1362  
Old Posted Jan 28, 2015, 9:46 AM
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Originally Posted by CharlesCO View Post
This seems to be a growing trend recently. Some armchair transit planner realizes that transit in their city is lacking (surprise surprise), gets a copy of Illustrator, and then starts drawing pretty lines over a map. Someone also made a similarly-looking Squarespace site for an equally implausible idea for a streetcar network in Denver not too long ago, but they then dismissed this site as being too "wonky" for wanting to discuss cost projections and ridership numbers.

A lot of people who do these projects and think they're viable do them more for the zeal of graphic design while not taking into consideration so much how people actually use transit, and they often grossly underestimate the costs of infrastructure investments, if they even take that into consideration at all. Do you think anyone is actually trying to go from the zoo to Balboa Park, or are the majority of people on that side of town really trying to get downtown? Making a line like that would greatly reduce the number of one-seat rides that probably thousands of people already enjoy while creating a line that connects two places that don't really need to be connected. There are so many problems with that plan that it doesn't make any realistic sense.

To me, their biggest (and valid) criticism of there not being enough "true" subway service on the Market subway is something that could, and will, be easily solved with more Castro Shuttle service. It's also buried in the Siemens LRV order press release that the new rail fleet that Muni just ordered will be able to run in up to four car consists, which should result in a dramatic increase in capacity on Muni Metro. This is an example of a reasonable, medium-term investment that produces a cost effective solution without trying to graft the Paris metro onto San Francisco. Though these kinds of projects like Muni's fleet renewal aren't conducive to sexy Squarespace mockup sites or behance likes, I suppose.
Agreed.
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  #1363  
Old Posted Jan 29, 2015, 6:29 PM
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Presidio Parkway (US Highway 101) construction progress. Traffic will shift onto the new roadway later this year.


Progress on the Northbound high viaduct and ramps to CA 1


Low viaducts and the Palace of Fine Arts


Fans ready for installation


Main Post Tunnels


High Viaduct falsework


Main Post Tunnels and low viaducts


Painting of high viaduct steel fins

http://presidioparkway.org/project_d...ad_jan2015.pdf

High viaduct falsework coming down

http://presidioparkway.org/
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  #1364  
Old Posted Jan 29, 2015, 9:35 PM
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^^ That's what I usually don't get to see since I would actually be driving on top of the Parkway, especially that I use it when I come in from Marin County (and sometimes when I head out from San Francisco). I must say, that progress is interesting that I am looking ever more to its completion.
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  #1365  
Old Posted Feb 3, 2015, 5:01 AM
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Quote:
$20 million for SMART’s Larkspur extension in President Obama’s budget


FILE - A machine distributes the ballast on the SMART line between Fulton and San Miguel roads, in Santa Rosa on Thursday, July 3, 2014. (Christopher Chung/ The Press Democrat)

Funding for an extension of the North Bay’s commuter rail line to Larkspur was included Monday in President Obama’s proposed $4 trillion budget, giving the Sonoma Marin Area Rail Transit authority a long-awaited source of capital to complete the southern end of the line.

The $20 million in proposed funding through the Federal Transit Authority’s Small Starts program plus an additional $20 million regional grant that was approved last year would fully fund the 2.2-mile line from San Rafael to the Larkspur ferry terminal, SMART officials said. Obama’s budget plan now goes to the Republican-controlled Congress, where it will likely be altered before coming back to the president’s desk.

“We feel very good that it is in the president’s budget,” said Farhad Mansourian, SMART’s general manager.

The proposed funding to complete a critical piece of the $660 million rail project and link it to the regional transportation network comes four months after SMART lost its bid to secure $20 million through a different federal grant. It comes more than three years after the SMART board, amid a sluggish economy and sagging sales tax revenue, decided to scale back the 70-mile Cloverdale-Larkspur rail system to an initial 43-mile segment that will run from Santa Rosa to San Rafael starting in late 2016.

SMART officials did not know Monday whether the Larkspur extension could be included in the initial segment if Congress approves the funding.

Critics of SMART have derided the project as “a train to nowhere” since the scaled-down first phase did not connect with the commuter ferry to San Francisco as promised to voters in Sonoma and Marin counties who approved the project in 2008. The $40 million Larkspur extension will include some tricky engineering hurdles in building the rail line through downtown San Rafael and south across Anderson Drive.

According to an environmental assessment of the Larkspur extension posted to SMART’s website in December, an estimated 5,218 riders per day are expected to use the system. That number goes up to 5,449 when the extension is included.

SMART board members on Monday welcomed the news that the Larkspur extension was included in the president’s budget.

“I’m so excited about this,” said Sonoma County Supervisor Shirlee Zane, a SMART board member. “We’ve been trying to get this money for a long time. This is the silver bullet to get us to Larkspur.”

Obama’s budget proposal includes $478 billion for infrastructure projects such as roads, bridges and transit systems, to be financed by taxes on overseas earnings. Of that, $2.5 billion is in new budget allocations for the Federal Transit Authority’s New Starts and Small Starts programs.

SMART officials voiced confidence that proposed $20 million would be left untouched through budget negotiations over the coming months since it comes through an established government program. Also, Republicans in Congress have signaled a willingness to work with the White House to improve the nation’s crumbling infrastructure, one of the few issues with bipartisan support, officials said.

Congressman Jared Huffman, D-San Rafael, who has worked to secure federal funding for SMART, said he was happy the extension was included in the budget proposal.

“It’s fantastic to see it in the president’s budget,” said Huffman, a member of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee. “I will continue to be vigilant to make sure we hang onto this proposal.”

....

You can reach Staff Writer Matt Brown at 521-5206 or matt.brown@pressdemocrat.com. On Twitter @MattBrownPD.
http://www.pressdemocrat.com/news/34...arkspur?page=1
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  #1366  
Old Posted Feb 3, 2015, 7:05 PM
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Originally Posted by northbay View Post
That's interesting. I knew SMART took the lowest bid, but I didn't know those included non FRA compliant DMUs.
Interesting. I wonder if Sumitomo is taking a loss to get their product out there on a high-profile project in a major US metro area. I know they sold some for the Pearson Express in Toronto, and convinced Metra in Chicago to test their DMUs in the course of shipping them to Toronto.

Note that the non-compliant DMUs were generally cheaper than the compliant ones, with Sumitomo as an outlier. Hell, just compare the two Siemens bids.
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  #1367  
Old Posted Feb 3, 2015, 11:48 PM
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Prospects for 2nd BART tube gain momentum, but wait could be long

Quote:
Public officials and riders have talked for years about building a second Transbay Tube — someday. Now, with BART’s ridership soaring, trains more crowded than ever and the economy booming, the idea is getting serious attention.

Last month, San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee said he will begin a “regional conversation” with transit officials and other mayors about building a second tube to land at rapidly developing Mission Bay. Supervisor Scott Wiener, who is also a member of the regional Metropolitan Transportation Commission, recently said a second tube is needed to provide 24-hour service. And at a BART Board of Directors workshop Thursday, Alameda’s public works director said his city is eager to work with the transit agency on a new tube to bring service to his island city.

But despite the surge of interest, a new tube won’t arrive as quickly as anyone would like. It would take many years — perhaps 30 or more — to build political support, satisfy environmental concerns, decide where it should go, come up with many billions of dollars, and finally, build the new line.

“If anyone wants to know how long it it will take and how complicated it will be, think about the eastern span of the Bay Bridge or high-speed rail or plans to extend runways at SFO,” said Martin Wachs, a retired UC Berkeley planning professor who specialized in transportation and is a senior researcher for Rand Corp. in Santa Monica.
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  #1368  
Old Posted Feb 12, 2015, 5:02 PM
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Quote:
SMART expects delivery of first commuter train in March




Employees from Shimmick Construction, contracted by the SMART agency, work to replace the Haystack Bridge over the Petaluma River on Wednesday, February 11, 2015 in Petaluma, California . (BETH SCHLANKER/ The Press Democrat)

BY MATT BROWN

THE PRESS DEMOCRAT
February 11, 2015, 5:41PM

The Sonoma Marin Area Rail Transit authority is expected to receive its first commuter train March 31, the agency announced Wednesday, as it outlined the final stage of major construction on the initial 43-mile line and highlighted plans for passenger service set to begin by the end of 2016.

A key remaining project is the replacement of a rail bridge over the Petaluma River. The work is ongoing and is expected to be finished this fall, SMART officials said.

Safety along the tracks also will be a challenge for SMART. Officials want to make people aware of the danger of fast-moving trains, especially after an accident last week involving a New York commuter train and an SUV that killed six. SMART received its own safety scare last week when a slow-moving rail car used in track construction got loose and rolled across three road crossings before coming to a stop a mile away.

No one was injured in the incident, but it raised safety concerns as the tracks that now handle a few freight trains per week are readied to facilitate 30 passenger trains a day.

“The loose rail car was our first trial on safety,” said Supervisor Shirlee Zane, a SMART board member.

The SMART contractor is investigating the incident, but it appears that the car’s brake was tampered with, said Jennifer Welch, SMART’s security manger. If vandalism is found to be the cause, law enforcement would get involved, she said. Federal transportation regulators only would get involved in the case of an accident, she said.

The first of SMART’s seven green-and-silver trains on Tuesday left the Transportation Technology Center in Pueblo, Colo., where it underwent months of testing on everything from its diesel engines and brakes to its air conditioner and seats. From there, the train is heading back to the manufacturing plant in Illinois for some fine tuning before being shipped by rail to SMART, Lisa Cobb, the rail systems manager, said Wednesday at a SMART board workshop at the Hyatt Vineyard Creek hotel in Santa Rosa.

“It’s getting some last-minute tweaks,” she said.

The trains initially will be stored on a side track at Fulton Road and River Road north of Santa Rosa during construction of the SMART maintenance and operations center at Airport Boulevard, which is expected to open in July. Once they are delivered, the trains will be put through more tests along the initial operating segment from downtown San Rafael to north of Santa Rosa, Cobb said.

SMART contractors have reconstructed 40 miles of track in Sonoma and Marin counties, said Bill Gamlen, the chief engineer. The remaining track work includes replacing the 102-year-old Haystack Bridge over the Petaluma River with a 30-year-old span that the agency bought from Galveston, Texas, for $4.2 million in 2012.
http://www.pressdemocrat.com/news/35...f-first?page=0
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  #1369  
Old Posted Feb 14, 2015, 12:29 PM
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A close up of SMART's pilot set being tested at the Transportation Test Center in Pueblo, CO
https://www.facebook.com/sonomamarin...type=1&theater
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  #1370  
Old Posted Feb 20, 2015, 2:23 AM
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Quote:
SMART settles on more classic station design


A photograph from Duluth, Minnesota presenting an example of the type of platform structure favored by the Sonoma County Transportation Authority. (Sonoma County Transportation Authority)


A drawing of the preliminary SMART platform designs done by AECOM. (Sonoma-Marin Area Rail Transit)


BY MATT BROWN

THE PRESS DEMOCRAT
February 18, 2015, 7:25PM

After taking heat for proposing commuter rail platforms that many said were sparse and out of place in the North Bay, SMART has selected an alternative design that more evokes a classic rail station.

The Sonoma Marin Area Rail Transit board Wednesday voted to approve the updated platform design, and it also set the way that the transit agency eventually will collect fares from riders when service begins in late 2016.

The new stations, painted in glossy black, will include a traditional shelter with a peaked roof and a wide bench. They also will have Victorian-style light poles, signs and garbage cans.

Board members Wednesday overwhelmingly said the new design was much better than the original proposal SMART staff put forward in August. That minimalistic design included a Y-shaped shelter roof, which would funnel rainwater into the center of the structure, and modern-looking lamps.

“This much better reflects the cultural ethos of our counties,” said Stephanie Moulton-Peters, a Mill Valley councilwoman. “I think this is a much better fit.”

City councils along the line from Santa Rosa to San Rafael objected to the original design last fall, and SMART staff took the feedback to its contractor. Officials on the Sonoma County Transportation Authority pushed for the updated shelter design, known as a standing seam hip roof.

Cities that have a train stop now have the option to adopt the new design or stick with the original proposal. Cities also can weigh in with a preferred color scheme.

The upgraded shelters will cost about $10,000 more per stop, which SMART will pay, said Bill Gamlen, the chief engineer.

“It’s a little bit more of an incremental cost,” he said.

SMART also is adding additional shelters in Santa Rosa, Rohnert Park, Petaluma and San Rafael — the cities expected to have the heaviest ridership.

All platforms will be built with foundations that can accommodate an additional shelter if needed in the future, Gamlen said. The total cost to SMART, including the four additional shelters, is $560,000 he said.

The board Wednesday also approved using a zone fare structure, which officials said was more in line with other regional transit agencies. The initial rail line will be divided into five zones, and the cost of a ticket will depend on the number of zones a rider traverses. The other option would be a flat fare, similar to that charged by Santa Rosa City Bus, where riders pay the same price no matter how far they travel.

“If we adopted a flat fare, it would be perceived that the shorter-distance riders would be subsidizing the longer-distance riders,” said Joanne Parker, SMART’s funding manager.

When the line eventually is extended to Cloverdale, a segment that remains unfunded, the agency will have seven fare zones, she said. The agency will set the actual fares closer to the start of service.

Fares will be collected using the Clipper Card system, which is widely used in most transit agencies throughout the Bay Area including BART, Caltrain and Golden Gate Transit. Riders purchase a card for $3 and add credit, which can be applied to any participating transit route.

You can reach Staff Writer Matt Brown at 521-5206 or matt.brown@pressdemocrat.com. On Twitter @MattBrownPD.
http://www.pressdemocrat.com/news/35...classic?page=0

It will be interesting to see if any cities choose to go with the original design. I kinda like it better actually. The "classic" one looks too much like a bus shelter.
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  #1371  
Old Posted Feb 20, 2015, 7:43 PM
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^I'm surprised at the backlash to those designs, but I guess it's good for cities to have a choice of style. I also read the trains will start arriving on March 31 and will be used to test the new tracks and other systems. I can't wait to see that.
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  #1372  
Old Posted Feb 20, 2015, 9:55 PM
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^ughh


In other news...





AC Transit Launching Double-Decker Bus Pilot Program

February 19, 2015 5:27 PM


OAKLAND (CBS SF) – AC Transit on Monday will begin a three-week pilot program in which it will use a 42-foot-long, double-decker bus on selected longer routes in its service area in 13 cities and surrounding areas in Alameda and Contra Costa counties.
Bus agency officials said the 80-seat coach will offer riders comfortable excursions with spectacular views, especially on transbay routes that go to and from San Francisco.
On Monday, the bus will make its first trip on the Line U, which goes from Fremont to Stanford University. It will then be deployed on other daily routes, particularly on transbay routes.
AC Transit spokesman Clarence Johnson said today that the double-decker bus has a much larger capacity than the current articulated, accordion-style buses used by the agency, which only seat about 50 people.

Rest of story
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  #1373  
Old Posted Feb 21, 2015, 12:38 AM
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^That's cool. Double deckers are a better use of road space, and they have kick-ass views.
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  #1374  
Old Posted Feb 21, 2015, 6:33 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ardecila View Post
Interesting. I wonder if Sumitomo is taking a loss to get their product out there on a high-profile project in a major US metro area. I know they sold some for the Pearson Express in Toronto, and convinced Metra in Chicago to test their DMUs in the course of shipping them to Toronto.

Note that the non-compliant DMUs were generally cheaper than the compliant ones, with Sumitomo as an outlier. Hell, just compare the two Siemens bids.
It is interesting they (Sumitomo or Nippon Sharyo) were so much cheaper than the others. I call that competition, although I'll admit I have no idea how much profit they will make at that price.
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  #1375  
Old Posted Feb 21, 2015, 8:11 PM
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Hello all,

After lurking for some time now I decided to finally register an account. I'm a bike advocate and really want to promote the growth of our nascent bike culture. As the saying goes, as California goes so goes the nation. Well, there a new bike law being proposed by CA senator Carol Liu, SB192, that threatens to mandate helmets and bright reflective vests for all bike riders regardless of age. Currently only riders under the age of 18 are required to use helmets, and no-one is required to wear vests at night. I'm worried firstly about this law's effect on the momentum of cycling's growth in CA, but secondly that it sets precedent for other states to take up similar bills.

As a member of the California Bike Coalition, I want to encourage everyone who cares chance to send Senator Liu a petition letting her know how wrongheaded this is. Mandatory helmet laws have been shown to substantially reduce bicycling where enforced. And bicycling is already among the safest means of transportation available, without helmets. Studies show bicycling safety increases as the numbers of cyclists increase. Portland and Davis already have fatality rates far below the national average compared with other transportation modes. This law threatens to reverse the progress we've made. Efforts should instead be spent on providing improved grade-separated bike infrastructure and instead of putting all the burden of responsibility on cyclists alone.

Here's a link if you're interested. Please spread the word

https://calbike.org/stopsb192/?page=...ion/sign&sid=3

P.S. I am not an employee of the bike coalition. Just a passionate cyclist who doesn't want to see California's leadership in bicycling turn to dust!
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  #1376  
Old Posted Feb 21, 2015, 10:45 PM
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Yes, because butterfly roofs look way too contemporary. Personally, the original SMART canopy design reminded me of this:


src

Or, closer to home, this design in Oakland (canopies lifted from the historic 16th St Station):


src
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  #1377  
Old Posted Feb 21, 2015, 10:46 PM
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Originally Posted by electricron View Post
It is interesting they (Sumitomo or Nippon Sharyo) were so much cheaper than the others. I call that competition, although I'll admit I have no idea how much profit they will make at that price.
Yes, but FRA compliance requires a more expensive construction with additional steel reinforcement, additional welding, and other specific design elements. It also requires the time of engineers and designers to devise an entirely new design, whereas the non-compliant designs can be quickly adapted to American needs based on overseas models.
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  #1378  
Old Posted Feb 25, 2015, 7:56 PM
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Aerial view of the Haystack Bridge, along with US 101 Petaluma River Bridge replacement construction:

https://www.facebook.com/sonomamarin...type=1&theater
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  #1379  
Old Posted Yesterday, 3:17 AM
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Originally Posted by Busy Bee View Post
^ughh


In other news...


Wow! A new double decker bus? We didn't even know that. They already have double decker bus in Las Vegas, New York City, London, Hong Kong and Megabus, as well.
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