Thursday, April 19, 2007

What a mess...

I have the Valley Transit Authority's system map open on my computer. What a mess. What a freaking mess. No wonder the VTA is bleeding cash like a Republican administration handing out no-bid contracts to administration cronies. They have routes running in parallel all over the place, they aren't using their light rail and the Caltrain heavy rail in a hub-and-spoke arrangement as would be required to make the most of the limited passenger-miles available for the bus fleet, they have long-haul bus routes that take an hour to get across town running in parallel with Caltrain that takes 20 minutes to run that same distance, they have "express" buses that take longer to get from one side of town to the other than Caltrain does and that should probably leave from the Caltrain station in downtown San Jose or from the Great Mall transit center rather than from Sunnyvale or Mountain View, yada yada yada.

What we have here is a bus map that was created decades ago that does not in any way reflect either a) the new improvements made in Caltrain rail service (which runs every 15-20 minutes during rush hours and implements a rolling limited service station schedule to make trips much faster on common commutes), or b) the creation of the light rail network. They kept these bus routes the way they were 25 years ago because, well, that's the way it's always been. But that ain't the way it needs to be, and VTA is bleeding cash as a result.

I'm wondering: Is there, like, some law, that says that bureaucrats have to hide their head in the sand and mutter "I see nothing! I hear nothing!" when things start going downhill? Because VTA's current route map and schedules are simply unworkable. They don't properly feed Caltrain and light rail, they have too many long haul routes that should instead be more of a hub-and-spoke setup feeding rail and limited-stop express buses so it doesn't take so bloody long to get from point A to point B, and let's face it Los Altos probably doesn't need bus service very much (just once in the morning to bring the servants to work, and once in the evening to take the servants home) and East San Jose's bus service is dying for more buses. But you say all this to VTA bureaucrats and they run screaming and hide under their desks...

-- Badtux the Transit Penguin


  1. So I've been screwing around with little camp stoves also being as you brought it up. Not that I need one. Interesting that an ounce of alcohol will heat a 12 ounce cup of hot water, but not very, interesting.

    Can't say that I've tried anything that impressed me, yet. Maybe I will dink with them some more.

    But a five dollar propane torch screwed on a bottle will heat a hell of a lot of cups of water and do a lot of cooking cheaper than alcohol ever will.

    Just saying.

  2. Now haul that 5 dollar propane torch and its 5 pound bottle on your back for 20 miles while backpacking to a remote ranch, and get back to me.

  3. Since when do rotund penguins hike for 20 miles? You run around in a frigging jeep, I'll bet you that I can hike your ass off and I'm 63 years old. And when in the hell did a bottle of propane become five pounds?

    Have you weighed one? I think not.

  4. Huh. You're right. I just pulled a cylinder out of the car camping bin and plopped it onto the postal scale and it weighs a tad under 2 pounds, not 5 pounds. I think I used this bottle for a car-camping trip or two so it probably was a tad over 2 pounds to start with.

    My bottle of alcohol, enough for a week's worth of backpacking, weighs a total of 8 ounces.

    Here's some real backpacking stoves, heh!

    As for penguins walking (okay, waddling) long distances, didn't you watch "March of the Penguins"? Penguins are capable of quite long distances overland! On the other hand, some of the trailheads I go to are at the end of fairly rugged forest service roads, so the Jeep is nice for getting there. I could have done it in my pickup too, but last time I did it in my pickup, I managed to shred my rear tires spinning them to get over the rocks, and I had to replace them within 10,000 miles as they wore quickly. Having all four wheels working for you works a lot better, I took my Jeep up there and all four tires still look fine.

  5. Well, the only times I ever deal directly with propane are when the clamp truck or fork truck I'm driving at work runs empty. Those sons o' bitches weigh quite a bit more than five pounds when they're full.

    And since I don't have my own personal motorized transportation, I do most of my travelling on foot. I'll hike both your asses off, dammit.

    My 2 cents.

  6. VTA is the worst public transportation agency in the country hands down. Everything you say is true. I grew up riding those buses and it is undeniably the most inconvenient thing. It could take 40 minutes to get from Valco Mall to De Anza College. When I realized that, I bought a bike.


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