Q During BART labor issues we always take advantage of the casual carpool options when trying to get to the City from the East Bay in the mornings. In general, it's not a problem and a relatively short wait to be picked up.
The problem is getting back from the City. There is an incentive to pick up riders in the morning, but no incentive to pick up riders coming back. Even during the four-day BART "inconvenience" earlier this summer, the wait for a ride back to the East Bay from Beale Street or Howard Street bordered on an hour. There is only one carpool lane getting on the lower level of the Bay Bridge from that area and it narrows down to one lane as you approach the span.
I cannot fault any driver inching up First or Fifth streets trying to get to the bridge and NOT opting to pull out of traffic and try to get over to a pickup location on Beale in order to take a few unknown bodies back to an East Bay location that will only increase his time on the road by about 45 minutes.
A You make an excellent point, and one that transit officials are well aware of. I'd like to hear from casual carpoolers on how they handle the ride back to the East Bay in the afternoon. San Francisco expanded the afternoon pickup zone by opening up new areas on either side of Spear Street between Howard and Folsom. There is a map of the afternoon pickup locations on the alert.511.org page.
Q Dear Mr. RailAndRoadshow: Do you know who decides how many cars are on a BART train? Last Wednesday night's rush hour southbound on the Richmond-Fremont line was dangerously overloaded with only five cars. There were so many people stuffed into the cars that maybe 5 percent became human projectiles every time the cars lurched because all handholds were taken. Tempers were flaring.
A Not good, and this could happen again. Trains on the Richmond to Fremont line are typically six cars with two eight-car trains running during peak commute hours. But BART says it has been experiencing a car shortage for maintenance reasons, causing some trains to be shortened by a car each. It hopes to run normal length trains this week, but it may take a few years before this problem eases completely when new trains are added to the system.
Q With all the new construction on Highway 4, some freeway signs can be confusing. There is one exit sign that points to the lane below at Somersville Road as an "Exit Only" but the faint white line delineating the shoulder crosses the lane and continues on to the actual exit. Does Caltrans or the CHP or anyone have any directions on this confusing situation?
I got a ticket by the CHP for not following the white shoulder line regardless of what the freeway sign said. While he was writing the ticket, I observed four cars passing around us to drive in the "shoulder lane." Please give me a hand in this matter.
A A helping hand you will get this week, and I would appeal your ticket and bring the photos you took if you go to court. Crews plan to change two overhead signs this week to clear up the confusion. The down arrow and the words "EXIT ONLY" will be covered on the sign between Contra Loma Boulevard/L Street and Somersville Road/Auto Center Drive. The word "ONLY" will be covered on the sign approaching the Somerville Road/Auto Center offramp.
In the final configuration, an auxiliary lane will run from the westbound onramp from Contra Loma Boulevard/L Street and the westbound offramp to Somersville/Auto Center. At that time, the lane will be an "EXIT ONLY" lane and will be striped accordingly.
Q We have a lady who lives with our adult disabled daughter who has some delinquent traffic tickets from Fresno. She has not been able to pay them for years because of unemployment, but now she would like to pay off the tickets and get her driver's license again. The tickets are now in the $1,000 range because of penalties.
Who should we contact about getting the penalties reduced and getting a fair amount for her to pay and settle the tickets?
A Matt-the-Roadshow-Attorney says this is a tough one. "Each county handles unpaid tickets differently," he says. "In San Francisco, the court will turn the fine over to the county civil collection agency. Once there, nothing can be done to lower the fine or appeal the citation.
"Call the traffic court in Fresno County to determine the procedure to pay the fine. One can always ask for a reduction of the fine. The good news is if the tickets are more than 37 months old, then they will no longer be on her driving record. The court, however, has likely put a hold on issuance of her driver's license until the fines are paid in full."
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