Capitol Corridor Business Plan

The Capitol Corridor trains (Capitol Corridor Joint Powers Authority) is seeking comment on its 2020-2022 Annual Business Plan, at https://www.capitolcorridor.org/business-plan/. The plan is 24 pages long, readable, but full of details that may take some while to process. There is a separate Vision Plan (2014-11) and Vision Implementation Plan (2016-11) [https://www.capitolcorridor.org/vision-plan/] which cover long-term plans, but the business plan does reference a number of longer term projects.

Capitol Corridor has lost on-time performance over the last two years. End-point on time performance, passenger on time performance, and operator delays have all declined, though not precipitously. Though my own frequent travel on the Capitol Corridor is often not time sensitive, the many people who commute for work and professional meetings are time sensitive, and I am concerned that a loss of performance will lead to reduced ridership. Though interruption by freight traffic has traditionally been the issue with delays, it seems as though break-down of equipment is becoming more and more common. The passenger cars, and many of the locomotives, are aging, and that contributes to the program. The state has failed to make a purchase of NEW passenger cars to replace old ones, and it is showing. But I also suspect that the rolling stock is simply not being maintained to the level of reliability that it should be. The business plan doesn’t really address these issues.

My own experience as regular rider over the last eight years (and a bit before that) is that the quality of the ride, the smoothness of the train on the tracks, has declined significantly over this time. I used to be able to write in my journal while on trips, and that is no longer possible. In fact, for many sections, it is no longer possible to type on a keyboard, as the jilt make proper finger placement unlikely. Again, many passengers are business customers who are using the travel time to catch up on or do work, but if the ride continues to deteriorate, they won’t be able to. Of course the quality of the tracks is not directly the responsibility of Capitol Corridor, as Union Pacific owns the rails and right of way. But it does point out that running passenger trains on a freight system is not viable in the long run. Capitol Corridor, and the California Division of Rail, must move towards ownership of track. A higher speed rail line, up from the 79 mph that can’t always be maintained due to poor track quality, up to 150 mph that is desired, simply cannot take place on tracks owned and maintained by Union Pacific. The Capitol Corridor should eventually be electrified, and it is unlikely that UP will ever allow that on its routes (though it is present in other countries).

There is also a lot to like in the business plan, upgrading signage, WiFi, bicycle accommodation, California Integrated Travel Program (better ticketing and transfer), Sacramento to Roseville double-tracking phase 1 with a small increase in trips, improvements to Davis station, and others. I am not being negative about Capitol Corridor service, I use it often and love it. I’ve tried the less expensive bus services (Megabus, FlixBus, etc.), but have gone back to the train for most trips because it is just better in all the ways I care about most.

weekend in SF

bluegrass band and furniture store couches
bluegrass band and furniture store couches, Sunday Streets SF

Another weekend in San Francisco. Sometimes I wonder which place I actually live.

Saturday I went to the Exploratorium with my friend Barbara. This is my first visit since it moved to Pier 15 on the Embarcadero from its old and smaller location in the Palace of Fine Arts. It would probably take one day a week over a year to see everything, so a day just gets a small sampling. We spent most of our time in the biology section and in the bay observatory section, looking at maps.

We had a picnic lunch with bread from Acme, cheese from Cowgirl Creamery, and ripe (very ripe) peaches from the Ferry Building farmers market. In the evening we saw Blackfish, a documentary on killer whales, Sea World and the people who work there. An eye opener, for sure, which should be seen by everyone who has ever been drawn to a cuddly Shamu stuffed animal.

Sunday I volunteered for and attended Sunday Streets. This day was in the Mission district, on Valencia Street and 24th Street. I helped set up barricades and signing which closes off most of the cross streets, and then patrolled these locations looking for any problems. The rest of the day I just enjoyed the crowds of people doing what they wanted to do on the streets, which is walk, bike, and enjoy life. Stopping for at least one song from each of the bands playing along the route takes almost two hours. The Mission location is my favorite, and this is my third time attending at this location. I especially like the connection between the event, the neighborhood, and the local businesses. I did my part by having tea at Philz Coffee in the morning and Javalencia Cafe in the afternoon, and dinner at Cafe Ethiopia. Lunch, a burrito from La Cumbre Taqueria, was provided for volunteers.

Down and back on BART and Amtrak, easy as pie.

photos on PicasaWeb

weekend in the bay

My blog has been silent for some while. When I have time to blog, that time goes into my transportation blog, Getting Around Sacramento. Perhaps appropriate, given how important transportation is to my life, my work, my passions. But nevertheless, this blog is feeling neglected.

RivendellRevels_DanAllison

Saturday I went over to Richmond on Amtrak, Millbrae on BART, and on to San Mateo on Caltrain. I spent the afternoon hanging at a nice tea/coffee place named Rendez Vous Cafe, catching up on some work. My friend Barbara joined me, we drank more tea, and then went to dinner at Curry Up Now. Good conversation. The primary reason for being in San Mateo was…

The PEERS Rivendell Revels dance. I went as a hobbit. My costume was limited, less than I had intended, but I ran out of time, money, and talent. Bilbo was there, dressed nearly authentic, along with a large number of elves, some men, a few dwarves, and one dragon. The dance was quite fun, enough different from the Victorian dances, and Kenni Lynn who I’ve not seen in more than a year was quite sparkling. PEERS has a dance once a month, with different themes and time periods. I have conflicts with the next several, but I’ll be back. A great group of people to dance and laugh with.

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Many travels

I’ve been busy since my last post. I finished up work in Carson City, and started summer break from my job in Sacramento. I completed instructing a Traffic Skills 101 bike skills course in Reno. Went to Sacramento and the bay area for friends and dancing (Felton contra and Gaskell Ball). Met Larry and Roger Mowbray for a bike ride along the Truckee River. Took a short backpack in the Carson Range, including the night of heavy rain. Attended the play “Or,” in Sacramento and spent time with the Steampunk group inventing a cog dance. Went to the five day sacred circle dance camp at Valley of the Moon camp in Sonoma County. Spent a day in San Francisco with my high school friend Alaina. Visited my mom and sister in Las Vegas. Went for another short backpack in the Carson Range. And just to bring things back around, had a wonderful picnic hike with Danita in Ash Canyon. Whew! All that in five weeks.

I am using Facebook a bit more than before. I don’t really keep up with either, but some is better than none.


sacred circle dance camp

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Spring Equinox

I’ve fallen a month behind on posts, so I’ll catch up here today.

Peony Peak
Peony Peak

Spring Equinox

Yesterday, March 20, was the spring equinox. It is hard to believe, as it was a grey cold day, and today is snowy and colder. Despite that, I walked up Peony Peak, my favorite local walk, and often though not always destination on the equinoxes and solstices. Being Sunday, there was much less noise from the freeway, so it was a quiet day of watching. The clouds were down over the Carson Range, and around the valley’s edge, making the valley seem even more of an enclosed bowl than it already does. I’ve been in California several times over this last month, and there it has been spring for a while, though a rainy spring, and it is sometimes hard to come back to winter in Nevada.

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San Francisco weekend

Another great weekend in California. Sometimes I forget that I live in Nevada, and that I have a job here, but I’m having so much fun on these weekends in California, that I sort of want to forget.

I went to the Friday Night Waltz in Palo Alto for the first time, and quite enjoyed it. It is about 1/3 waltz and the rest a variety of other social dances, a few of which I know how to do or can fake, and several I just watched. The dancers are a group of young high school / college age who know each other, and middle aged dancers, a few of whom are also contra dancers. I wouldn’t go to the bay area for just this dance, but I’d certainly go again if I happened to be in the bay area on a Friday night.

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Nevada City weekend

Hoyt Pool on the South Yuba River
Hoyt Pool on the South Yuba River

February 5th & 6th I had a wonderful weekend in Nevada City and Grass Valley. Friday night I went to Georgia Wright’s dance party in Reno, which was poorly attended but had the benefit that I got a lot of practice with Georgia, who is the instructor with Veto of the ballroom dance class I’m taking in Carson City. Then I headed over to California and slept out in the forest above Nevada City. I had breakfast at the South Pine Cafe in Nevada City, good food and a nice way to start the day. I’d never been there before, since I most often eat breakfast at Lisa and Eric’s.

Saturday I did some shopping (mostly window shopping) and went to Gold Mountain tea shop to get some tea and a tea thermos for Danita. Then I went hiking on the South Yuba River north of town. The day was beautiful, surprisingly warm as I hiked up the south facing slope above the river. I cleaned up after the hike and went to…

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Busy Fall

It’s been a crazy busy fall, very enjoyable. Though each of these activities could have its own post, and its own photos, I’m just going to list them with a few words:

  • ProWalk/ProBike Conference in Chattanooga TN: the national conference on biking and walking, and serves as the national Safe Routes to School conference in even years; Chattanooga was enjoyable, but getting there was quite long and unpleasant with horrible transportation connections; the conference’s real value for me was the connections made
  • Pickin in the Pines Festival in Flagstaff: this weekend music festival is full of great bluegrass music, and this year for this first time, also full of contra dancing; I had a great time dancing, loved the music, visited with friends dancing and not (Kate, Deb & Mike, Fran, Karina), ran into several friends I’ve not seen in many years and didn’t even know were in Flagstaff (Ann).
  • Gathering of the Tribe sacred circle dance

    Gathering of the Tribe in El Cerrito: I attended Saturday of the sacred circle dance weekend called Gathering of the Tribe; it has been a long while since I’ve done circle dancing, and I really enjoyed being back in it, particularly the dances outside with Holly; seeing and dancing with Sienna was an immense pleasure; the night before I went to the special Felton contra dance with Julie after dinner with the whole Widera crowd

  • Hardly Strictly Bluegrass in San Francisco: and the next day I spent at the festival in Golden Gate Park; friends have been recommending that I go for years, and I finally made it; I spent all my time at the “old timers” stage, listening to people whose music and history I’ve long admired by mostly never seen; though there were hundreds of thousands of people there, it didn’t feel overwhelming; just before the festival I had tea with Barbara who I’ve not seen in years
  • Bioneers in San Rafael: I’ve not been to the Bioneers conference in years, and noticed that it was both completely different and yet unchanged; I attended a number of workshops that were valuable, but as always, it was the personal connections that were most valuable; I spent a lot of time talking to Stephen about transportation, and attending the council circle which was for me the deepest experience of the weekend
  • Into the Woods in Reno: I attended Into the Woods with Darla and Danita; this is my favorite play, and the first time I saw it was the best play of my life, so I was a little leery of a TMCC production, but it was well done and I was happy to see it again; I don’t seem much theatre because there isn’t much in Carson City
  • Fall Has Sprung in Grass Valley: this 12-hour dance is often my favorite of the year, and this year was not exception; my dance community is in Nevada City/Grass Valley as much as locally, so it is great to see and dance with those people, and the others who travel to the special dance from distant places; Danita accompanied me, her first real contra dance out of town, and loved it; Lisa and Eric hosted us and fed us waffles, and life can’t be better than that

The Brompton

Dan's beautiful new Brompton

After thinking about it for more than a year, I finally bought a folding bike. It is a Brompton, probably the best made folding bike in existence, though Bike Fridays seemed pretty good too. I love it, love it, love it.

I’ve only taken one trip with it so far, from Reno to Sacramento and back on Amtrak, and it was a real pleasure. It tucked into the baggage shelf just fine. It folds down to the size of a medium suitcase, so works well for train, bus or plane (at least on Southwest, which is all I fly anyway). I’m going to fly with it for the first time in January, part of a trip to San Luis Obispo for Contra Carnivale. The rest of the trip is on train.

It was great to have a bike while in Sacramento. I rode the American River Parkway one afternoon, got to the conference I was attending (Safe Routes) on light rail and riding, and rode to dinner twice and the grocery store once. I’ve taken my road bike to Sacramento and even San Francisco before, but always had to use the bus to Sacramento because the only way to take full bikes on the Amtrak California Zephyr is to box them.

I’ve ridden a lot around Carson City, and everywhere I go I get compliments or at least comments, which was rarely true on my road bike. Kids especially think the bike is cool, and many ask me if they can ride it.

Though I test drove the bike for a couple of hours last summer, I was unsure about how different it would feel and handle from my road bike. My road bike is a 1971 Motobecane Grand Touring (made in France, 10 speeds, classic steel frame). The weight is not much different, and it doesn’t really handle much different. I lose a little power due to the small 16 inch wheels, and a little to a more upright riding position, but not much. Handling is a bit looser. not a bike to ride hands-free, but it tracks well. And it has fenders and wider tires, so it was no problem to ride it in a few inches of snow this morning.

I bought the bike from Channell Wasson in Palo Alto, who used to be the only US dealer, and the bike is made by Brompton in London, England. Channell spent about four hours with me talking about Bromptons and bikes in general, and I’d recommend him to anyone.

Wild and Scenic Environmental Film Festival

Last weekend I attended the Wild & Scenic Environmental Film Festival. I went for some inspiration. I didn’t find a new path, but I did come back with hopefulness and knowledge that there are a lot of good people transforming the world, doing the work that needs to be done. If you have a chance to see ‘The Yes Men Fix the World,’ see it. It was the funniest movie of the festival. The winner of the festival was a movie about a family in Pasadena that raises nearly all of its own food on a 1/5 acre suburban lot, called ‘Homegrown.’

I spent Saturday at the native American venue, which was hosted by the local Tsi Akim Maidu tribe, and that it was interesting to be in that energy for the whole day. The movies were not of as high a quality as the rest of the festival, but the energy was incredible.

Sponsored by and a fundraiser for South Yuba River Citizens League (SYRCL), the festival is the largest environment themed in the world. More info at http://www.wildandscenicfilmfestival.org/.

Over the weekend I stayed at my friends’ (Lisa and Eric) house in Grass Valley. It’s a great place to stay, though strange because they were at Contra Carnivale, a contra dance weekend in San Luis Obispo, so the house was quiet. I hitched to Nevada City on both Saturday and Sunday, which I’ve not done in a while, had an easy time three out of four, and met some cool people.