East Bay | 511 Contra Costa

How to ‘Casual Carpool’

Did you know you can catch a ride across the San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge without an app for an average cost of $1? You can! And it’s not a new service, it’s Casual Carpool – helping commuters reduce their travel time between San Francisco & the East Bay for almost 40 years.
Offering a dollar to the driver (to contribute to the $2.50 toll and gas) is just one of the ‘unspoken’ rules of Casual Carpool. Watch this short video featuring interviews with regular riders!
If you’re interested in giving it a try, click through to find a Casual Carpool pickup location convenient for you. There are locations as close to the Bridge as Oakland, Berkeley & El Cerrito, and as far out as Lafayette and Hercules.

Removing The Conflict Between Buses and Bikes

Catching the Bus to Horseshoe Bay

A bicyclist peacefully overtakes a bus loading and unloading passengers. Photo credit: Canadian Veggie

If you commute by bike or bus, the conflict is familiar: a bus will overtake a person bicycling then arrive at a stop to pick up passengers, and while the bus is momentarily stopped the person bicycling will catch up and overtake the bus.

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Buses continuously cross the path bicyclists to pick up and drop off passengers, causing a game of “leap frog” as the two modes alternate overtaking each other. Photo credit: pembina.institute

This effectively creates an unwanted game of “leap frog” in which bicycles and buses are constantly overtaking one another, sometimes causing near collisions since it can be difficult to see a bicycle approaching on the left as the bus driver attempts to re-enter the flow of traffic. As if contending with traffic weren’t stressful enough, this repeated negotiation can be exhausting and tense for both parties.
Thankfully, there is a solution– routing bicycles to the left of bus stops in a separated lane, known as “bike channel” or “bus bypass.”  Here in the Bay Area, San Francisco has pioneered this practice on streets with streetcar stops where it seems to be working just as it should, removing the bus-bike conflict seen on heavily traveled routes throughout the region.
So it comes as good news that the practice will soon expand into the East Bay along AC Transit’s 51 route this summer as part of the “Line 51 Corridor Delay Reduction and Sustainability Project.” Not only is this anticipated to remove the common “leap frogging” conflict between buses and bikes, but this is also expected to help speed up bus times too– a win-win!
While the proposed orientation (which will look similar to the configuration in the lead photo) is unfamiliar in the East Bay, it certainly is not new. In The Netherlands, transportation planners have separated buses and bicycles at bus stops since as early as the 1950’s. To learn more about how this clever design improves conditions for everyone watch the video.

Video credit: markenlei

Uber Offering Free Rides In The East Bay Friday, Jan. 17 – Monday Jan. 20, 2014

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Uber is offering free rides in the East Bay this weekend.  The offer includes two free rides up to $30 in value for travel in and between Oakland, Berkeley, Albany, Piedmont, El Cerrito, Lamorinda, Alameda, San Leandro, San Ramon, Danville, Walnut Creek and Pleasant Hill.  Uber is advising users taking advantage of the promotion this weekend to expect delays due to high demand. 
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Uber rates are fixed and rides are arranged by smartphone. After summoning a car on the Uber app, customers can watch their ride approach on the app’s map. The Uber website notes there’s “no need to tip.”
The East Bay giveaway follows a price cut in 16 cities announced last week after the spate of bad publicity. Uber told drivers it was sacrificing almost all of its revenue with an eye on capturing new users, according to the San Francisco Chronicle.
The current rate is an initial fee of $3 plus $1.50 a mile. On Wednesday morning, a ride from MacArthur BART to Oakland International Airport was $25. The wait time was six minutes.
The free rides in the East Bay begin at noon on Friday, Jan. 17 and end at 11:59 p.m. on Monday, Jan. 20.
Use the promotion code: EBLOVESuberX.
Read the full Uber blog post.

Well That Was Fast: AC Transit's 72 Rapid Turned 10! (2013)

72R at San Pablo Ave & 40th St
“The 72R made us look at our service in a whole new way and played an important part in the modernization of bus travel.”
– AC Transit Board Director Chris Peeples. 
Photo credit: AC Transit

Can you believe it? Back in June, AC Transit’s San Pablo Rapid Line – the 72R – turned 10 years old! Naturally, the milestone was celebrated (see photos here) and the line has many more years ahead of it.
So while we missed the 72R’s birthday it’s not too late to honor this work-horse of a bus line, it has been invaluable to many East Bay commuters. Just what makes the 72R so great, you ask? AC Transit the answer of course, with our emphasis added:

Line 72R made its debut on June 30, 2003, the result of an ambitious partnership among the seven cities through which it runs, Caltrans, and what was then the Alameda County Congestion Management Agency. The line is recognized not only by its bold red striping and logo, but also for its distinction as the first “enhanced bus” line in the Bay Area.
[…]
The 72R replaced what was then called the 72 Limited, or 72L, and cut travel time along its 14-mile San Pablo Avenue route by 17% compared to the 72Land 30% compared to the underlying local service. This was achieved by placing stops farther apart; eliminating set time points at individual stops and running buses every 12 minutes; and using state-of-the-art technology to coordinate traffic signals and hold green lights longer for buses. The line also featured, for the first time, 40-foot buses with three doors to facilitate exiting and bus shelters with electronic, real-time arrival displays.
Today, the San Pablo Rapid carries about 7,000 passengers each weekday to destinations between Jack London Square in Oakland and Contra Costa College in San Pablo. The service also complements the many residential developments and commercial enterprises that have sprung up along the corridor.

And as if that weren’t enough reason to love the 72R, there’s more!

In the San Pablo Rapid’s lifespan, the line has covered some serious ground, making 134 trips every weekday for a total of 4,735,556 miles. Taking this cumulative distance into consideration, the 72R could have travelled to the moon and back 10 times!
The line has worked a total of 2,530 weekdays, with only 80 holidays “off.” In that time, it has provided nearly 18 million individual passenger trips and has saved those riders a total of 57,718,099 minutes over its predecessor. Now that’s a timesaver!

Other fun facts?

  • A year after its introduction,  AC Transit ridership increased along the San Pablo corridor by 15% and 19% of new 72R passengers indicating that they previously drove.
  • Many regular BART riders also switched to the bus or used the Rapid as a way to get to BART instead of taking their car.
  • Ridership on the line has been steady.

It was because of the 72R’s success that AC Transit introduced the 1R and that an enhanced Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) line is scheduled to be available in 2017, connecting San Leandro and downtown Oakland with light rail quality but at a much cheaper price– a real win-win for the agency and riders.
Read more about the future of East Bay BRT over at AC Transit.

Have You Tried the Bay Bridge's Bike/Pedestrian Path?

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(Two people enjoying the toll-free, bicycle-pedestrian path along the new Bay Bridge span.  Photo credit: Sharon Hahn Darlin)
The bicycle and pedestrian path along the new East Bay span of the Bay Bridge has proved incredibly popular, even though one still can’t completely reach San Francisco by bicycle or foot. People just really like recreating outdoors, enjoying breath-taking views in one of the most beautiful parts of California– who knew?
Have yet to go for a walk or ride? Enjoy a virtual tour of ascending and descending the bicycle-pedestrian path by bike, courtesy of KQED SCIENCE:

(Ascending. Video credit: KQED SCIENCE)

(Descending. Video credit: KQED SCIENCE)
Once completed all the way to San Francisco, popularity of the bicycle-pedestrian path will surely soar, for both commuting and recreational purposes. However, until then, the completed East Bay span still provides some unique and fantastic views worth seeing. If you’d like to check out the new path, be sure to get details about how to access the path (helpful map included) and its winter hours from the bridge’s website.

A Better Ride With AC Transit (2013)

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A look at the interior of AC Transit’s new Gillg buses. Click the image for additional photos of the new buses Photo credit: AC Transit
Some good news for AC Transit riders– the transit agency recently acquired 65 new buses from Hayward based Gillig! The buses started being phased in March and will be replacing some of the agency’s older buses.
What makes these buses so great? Well, a number of things, including:

  • Low-floor accessibility
  • Stroller and wheel-chair areas
  • Catalytic reduction and gas recirculation system that makes the engines of these new buses 90-percent cleaner than the buses being replaced
  • Low-maintenance seating
  • Digital display of next stops

See the below video for other improvements are on the way for AC Transit and to see some views of what these new buses look like

Video credit: AC Transit

AC Transit to Make More Cuts

This past Sunday AC Transit reduced its service by 7.2 percent as part of the second phase in a plan to balance its budget. A reduction of 7.8 percent was made in March, which has saved the organization about $10 million.
The most recent cuts are aimed to evenly reduce service rather than completely eliminate certain routes altogether.
Unfortunately, a further reduction has been approved for December. Half of AC Transit’s weekend service and four out of six all-night bus lines will be cut.
Are you worried that you’ll be stranded singing, “Someday my bus will come” (to the tune of this)? Be sure to check out our rideshare alternatives!

1913 Transit Time Isochron Map for the Peninsula and East Bay

Ever wonder what commutes were like from the Peninsula and East Bay to San Francisco in years gone by? The folks at Burrito Justice pointed our attention to this neat 1913 transit time isochron map for the Peninsula and East Bay to 3rd and Mission for ferries and trains (steam and electric). To see additional transit-related documents from earlier years, take a glance at Eric Fischer’s Flickr page.
Here is the text included at the side of the map:
While practically half of San Francisco lies within the 30-minute time zone, none of the trans-bay commuters now reach land within that time. All of the trans-bay districts are reached within an hour, the same as San Francisco. But for the former, from one-fourth to one-half of the time is consumed in the water trip. Shaded contour areas and time points within circles indicate how far commuters may ride within 10-minute intervals from the center of the business district-Third and Market Streets (allowing seven minutes to the Ferry terminal, and 10 minutes to the railroad terminal at Third and Townsend Streets). The inner shaded zones correspond to the running time by electric and cable lines. Double circles and the Peninsular zone particularly refer to steam lines. Running speed is indicated directly by the relative distance between these time points. For steam trains, the time shown is on limited local trains passing by only the less important stations. Some limited expresses make 26% better time, and way locals 15% slower time than here indicated. With the same character of rapid transit equipment, it appears that from 20 to 30 minutes more running time will always be necessary, by reason of the water trip, for trans-bay commuters to reach their homes than for San Franciscans, but that no such handicap exists as a limitation for Peninsular development.

This Week's Headlines in Transportation & Transit: Mar. 27-Apr. 2, 2010

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