Archive for the ‘BART’ Category

Contra Costa’s CyberTran awarded U.S. patent for Transportation Internet

Monday, October 2nd, 2017

Rendering of a CyberTran transit station. Renderings courtesy of CyberTran International, Inc.

Ultra-Light Rail Transit system vehicles travel throughout connected rail networks at low, medium and high speeds, direct to destination and at much lower capital deployment and maintenance costs

CONTRA COSTA COUNTY, CA – CyberTran International, Inc. (CTI) offers the most innovative approach to solving the world’s traffic congestion problems. The recent patent approval for fixed guideway transportation systems, with lower cost of ownership and optimized benefits, validates what they’re calling the Transportation Internet technology. This system can be thought of as the computer-controlled technology solution to the problems of mass transit cost overruns and inefficiency.

Artist rendering of a CyberTran vehicle and station with overhead solar panels generating the power to operate the system.

CTI’s Ultra-Light Rail Transit (ULRT) is a mass transit system with the ability to build out Urban Circulator systems, Commuter Rail systems and High-Speed Rail systems and connect them to one network where small rail vehicles carrying up to thirty passengers can travel throughout the network Direct-to-Destination (nonstop). This allows ULRT to serve three separate markets, low, medium and high speeds! Until today all three markets have been served by three separate distinct technologies that can only be connected at transfer points where passengers have to disembark one system only to transfer to another to reach their destination.

Currently, CTI is closing in on funding for the purpose of demonstration and deployment. “Everybody wants to be second, nobody wants to be first,” said Dexter Vizinau, President of CTI.

Transit officials are hesitant to take a chance on a small and innovative company. The BART system started out as a demonstration project and the technology was the first of its kind. Today, CTI has approximately ten cities that are willing to be first, he explained.

In every major metropolitan region of the world, people are stuck in traffic. Today’s solutions aren’t working.

“Expanding today’s transit systems are too costly to build and maintain, yet transit officials continue to approach this as a solution, with little result,” said Neil Sinclair, CTI Board Chairman. “There’s a $78 billion backlog in transit systems maintenance in the U.S. and the only way to pay for it is to raise taxes. In the meantime, we’re all stuck in traffic with no end in sight.” That is, until today.

Overview rendering of the offline CyberTran stations.

“Our patent validates everything we’ve already proven,” Vizinau continued. “Two full-scale prototype vehicles have already been built and tested. The test vehicles have achieved speeds of up to 60 mph and have climbed a 10% grade, which means ULRT can go over the Sepulveda Pass in Los Angeles and also travel up the Grapevine Summit in Southern California. Bullet train systems and L.A. Metro-like systems cannot climb steep grades and therefore either have to tunnel or go around.”

By building out ULRT networks in cities at 35 mph, and then connecting them together throughout a region at 80 mph, ULRT becomes a commuter rail system like BART and Metro in Los Angeles. ULRT can handle the same throughput as BART during rush hour via the Transbay Tube. CTI can then connect regions with a high-speed line. The ULRT System design is flexible and can expand easily. Guideways and civil structures are manufactured offsite and assembled onsite allowing ULRT systems to be constructed more efficiently. CTI can construct long-distance systems in up to a quarter mile per day. The system was designed to reach speeds of up to 150 mph. (See related article)

CyberTran’s ULRT system also operates from solar power. Canopies of solar panels above the guideway can generate more than one megawatt per mile and eight times more energy than the system consumes, and supply renewable energy to surrounding communities resulting in a net gain to CTI.

Rendering of a possible CyberTran station on the second floor of an office building and campus.

Transit officials currently purchase transit systems from foreign companies. CTI plans to manufacture ULRT transit systems for a global market in Contra Costa County. “We’ve been to China five times in as many years. There are six hundred cities in China that can use this,” says Sinclair. Councilmember Rich Kinney of the City of San Pablo states, “West Contra Costa County in particular has to solve the I-80 corridor congestion issue to attract more businesses and jobs to our cities. This is our opportunity to effectively address that issue. May we not continue to kick the proverbial can down the road – it’s time to embrace the full deployment of CyberTran right here at home.”

Earlier this year the city councils of Oakley, Brentwood and Antioch each voted unanimously to join the cities of Richmond and San Pablo to support efforts by CTI to obtain the needed funding for systems in both Western and Eastern Contra Costa County. (See related article) In addition, CTI has the support of U.C. Berkeley in their efforts to bring the technology to market. (See related article)

The next steps for CTI are to obtain funding to build two showrooms and a factory. This calls for one low-speed demonstration track up to 35 mph, and one rapid speed demonstration track up to 150 mph – in curves and with left and right banking. Both demo tracks and factory construction are to be done concurrently. There were no funding programs to support transit innovation, such as ULRT, at the federal level until CTI lobbied Congress to create one. Program legislation was created and approved in 2014 under a Republican-controlled Congress and Senate. CTI was hopeful that President Obama would release the program funding but it did not happen. CTI is hopeful about the President Trump’s infrastructure package and is encouraged by their reception in Washington, D.C.

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Sen. Glazer’s legislation to create inspector general for BART approved by Senate

Thursday, September 14th, 2017

SACRAMENTO – The state Senate on Thursday passed legislation that will give Bay Area voters a chance to create an independent inspector general for BART to hold the sprawling transit district accountable for its spending, service to riders, and timely delivery of capital projects.

The inspector general was proposed by state Sen. Steve Glazer (D-Orinda) as part of a bill by Sen. Jim Beall (D-San Jose) that will ask voters to raise bridge tolls to fund transportation projects designed to relieve traffic congestion in the bridge corridors.

The bill was approved by the Senate on a 27-13 vote.

Glazer, a longtime critic of BART, insisted that voters be given the option of creating the accountability czar as a condition of his support for placing the measure on the ballot. Other major transit agencies, including those in Washington D.C., New York, Chicago and Los Angeles, have long had inspector generals to serve as an independent check on the bureaucracy.

“BART stands to gain about a billion dollars from the toll revenues this measure would generate,” Glazer said. “It’s only fair that riders and residents get an extra set of eyes and ears inside the agency to hold the administration accountable.”

If approved by voters, the inspector general would be appointed by the governor from a list of three finalists nominated by the BART board. The person could be fired only with a two-thirds vote of the board and the governor’s agreement.

The BART inspector general would be tasked with investigating fraud, waste and inefficiencies, conducting audits and recommending changes in the agency’s practices that will improve services to riders.

And in a twist, Glazer, who has been at odds with BART’s unions in the past, insisted on adding a line to the inspector general’s mission requiring the office to assess whether management was using best practices to promote “positive and productive” relations with employees and their representatives.

“The vast majority of BART employees are hard-working, dedicated public servants who share their customers’ desire to have trains that run on time, stations that are safe and clean, and escalators and elevators that work when they are supposed to,” Glazer said. “I hope the employees and their unions will find an inspector general to be an effective ally in making those things a reality.”

Glazer also pushed for amendments to the bill that ensured Contra Costa and Alameda county commuters would see a fair share of congestion relief projects if the toll increases become a reality.

Projects to improve traffic flow on Interstate 680 and rebuild interchanges where 680 connects to state routes 4 and 84 were included in the final version of the proposed spending plan.

Glazer praised Sen. Beall, and Assemblymen David Chiu and Phil Ting of San Francisco and other members of the Bay Area legislative delegation for a collaborative process that allowed for input from throughout the region and a final proposal that included the crucial provision to oversee BART’s administration and spending.

“No one got everything they wanted, but this is a fair compromise that will give the voters an opportunity to fund projects designed to relieve congestion throughout the entire region while providing independent oversight of the district’s practices,” Glazer said.

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BART system expands with opening of Warm Springs/South Fremont Station, March 25

Friday, March 10th, 2017

BART Warm Springs/South Fremont Station. Photo from Wikipedia

BART’s Warm Springs Extension will open for service on Saturday, March 25, 2017. The 5.4-mile extension connects the existing Fremont Station to the new Warm Springs/South Fremont Station.

The new station includes 2,082 parking spots, including 42 electronic car charging stations as well as intermodal connections to A/C Transit and VTA buses.

“This will be history in the making,” said BART Director Tom Blalock, who serves Fremont and has been a leader in making the extension a reality. “This will bring BART service to the residents of fast growing south Fremont. They’ll have a reliable, environmentally-responsible alternative to driving on the sometime nightmarish Nimitz Freeway.”

The Warm Springs Extension also paves the way for BART to Silicon Valley, a Santa Clara Valley Transportation Authority project that’s underway and is expected to open for service later this year.

One day before beginning service, BART will host an Opening Celebration. At 10 until noon on Friday March 24, 2017, BART will welcome neighbors, elected leaders and anyone interested in the new station. on the day of the celebration, free shuttles will run from Fremont Station to the  new station every 15-20 minutes from 8:45 am to 1 pm. 

The station is located at 45193 Warm Springs Blvd.

Click here for a video of BART’s newest extension. In addition, view the video of the tour of the tunnel beneath Lake Elizabeth as part of the extension.

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BART to pay $1.275 million settlement in environmental prosecution case by DA’s of three counties

Wednesday, February 1st, 2017

Transit agency failed to implement plans notifying first responders of the presence of large quantities of hazardous materials at its facilities throughout the Bay Area

Martinez, , CA – The Contra Costa County Office of the District Attorney, along with District Attorneys from Alameda County and San Mateo County, announced today that Alameda County Superior Court Judge Morris Jacobson has ordered San Francisco Bay Area Rapid Transit District (BART) to pay $1.275 million as part of a settlement of a civil environmental prosecution alleging that the transit agency failed to implement hazardous materials business plans at facilities throughout the three counties as well as violating aboveground storage tank, underground storage tank, and hazardous waste laws.

The judgment agreed to by BART, resolves allegations made in a civil enforcement lawsuit filed January 31, 2017 in Alameda County and covers environmental violations dating back to January 2010.  The lawsuit claimed that at over 30 of BART’s 190 facilities throughout Alameda, Contra Costa, and San Mateo Counties, BART unlawfully failed to establish and implement a hazardous materials business plan for emergency response to a release or threatened release of hazardous materials.  These hazardous materials included large quantities of diesel fuel, petroleum, sulfuric acid contained in industrial batteries, and fire extinguishing chemicals.  The lawsuit further alleged that at these and other facilities, BART violated its environmental obligations related to its aboveground storage and underground storage of petroleum, and its hazardous waste.

“The protection of the public and the environment from dangerous hazardous materials through the enforcement of environmental protection laws is and always will be a high priority,” say District Attorney, Mark A. Peterson. “I am committed to ensuring both private and public entities comply with environmental laws enacted to protect our community and environment.”

In January of 2014, during routine compliance inspections, hazardous materials inspectors from the Alameda County Department of Environmental Health observed large aboveground storage tanks containing diesel at BART facilities in East Dublin/Pleasanton, West Dublin, and Castro Valley. These tanks, which contained 500 to over 1,700 gallons of diesel, fueled backup generators and were located in close proximity to areas accessed by thousands of BART commuters each day.  Despite the presence of large quantities of hazardous materials, BART had never implemented a hazardous materials business plan for any of these facilities as required by law.  These plans contain critical emergency response information for first responders, such as firefighters, and BART employees, should there be a release or threatened release of hazardous materials into the environment.  These hazardous materials business plans are designed to ensure the protection of the public and the environment in the event of a hazardous materials spill.

The violations were brought to the attention of the Alameda County District Attorney’s Office Environmental Protection Division who then conducted a follow up investigation with the District Attorney’s Offices’ Environmental Protection Units of Contra Costa County and San Mateo County.  The Contra Costa Health Services Hazardous Materials Program and San Mateo County Environmental Health Division also conducted inspections of all BART facilities in their respective Counties.  The follow up investigations revealed that BART’s failure to implement hazardous materials business plans was more widespread and covered over 30 BART facilities in the three counties.  The investigation also revealed that, at numerous other BART facilities, BART was committing violations of California’s aboveground storage tank, underground storage tank, and hazardous waste laws.

BART was cooperative throughout the investigation and worked hard to bring their agency into substantial environmental compliance.  During the investigation, BART hired an third party to conduct an audit of its environmental management programs and the audit identified areas of improvement related to hazardous materials, aboveground storage tanks, and hazardous waste. As part of the settlement, BART agreed to implement the recommendations from this audit.

As part of the settlement, BART agreed to implement the recommendations from this audit.

Under the settlement, BART must pay $675,000 in civil penalties paid out, according to statute, to other government agencies, and $300,000 to reimburse the costs of the investigation.  As part of the settlement, BART must also commit $300,000 to an additional environmental compliance position, for a total of two such positions for the next two years.  BART will also be bound under the terms of a permanent injunction prohibiting similar future violations of law.

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Complaint filed against BART claims Warriors’ Draymond Green ad supports Measure RR

Wednesday, November 2nd, 2016

Screenshot of an ad featuring the Warriors’ Draymond Green supporting BART on the agency’s website, provided as evidence to support the complaint.

BART says ad was paid for by the Warriors

By Allen Payton

Another campaign trick was played on Halloween, when Lafayette attorney Jason Bezis filed a complaint against BART for using public funds, on Monday, October 31st. He claims the government agency is using public funds to promote the bond Measure RR on the November ballot.

In an email about his complaint, Bezis wrote, “I just filed a complaint with the FPPC about BART’s video using Draymond Green of the Golden State Warriors to promote Measure RR ($3.5 billion BART bond measure).  I argue that BART is illegally using public resources to influence voters to vote yes on Measure RR.”

Bezis’ complaint states, “complaint concerns BART public resources used illegally to plan, produce and publicize a video featuring basketball player Draymond Green of the Golden State Warriors to promote Measure RR. On Friday, October 28, 2016, BART released a 31-second video titled ‘Draymond Says’ and an accompanying ‘news article,’ YouTube post, Facebook post, and Twitter post to promote the video. The BART video, BART World Web (sic) [Wide] Web homepage, BART ‘news article,’ BART YouTube post, BART Facebook post and BART Twitter post all contain the message ‘BART needs to stay safe and reliable.’

These communications paid for with public moneys by BART, a local governmental agency, unambiguously urge a particular result in the November 2016 election: they urge ‘yes’ votes for Measure RR, referred to on the ballot as ‘BART Safety, Reliability and Traffic Relief.’ These BART communications constitute ‘contributions’ or ‘independent expenditures’ benefiting the Yes on RR campaign (FPPC ID#1381218), officially named the ‘Committee to Keep BART Safe and Reliable,’ which uses the phrase ‘Keep BART Safe and Reliable’ in its campaign logo.”

Bezis then offers what he wants BART to basically admit they’re using public money to campaign for the ballot measure and to file the necessary finance reports for the expenditures.

His complaint concludes with the following:

“As BART has engaged in campaign activity, pursuant to Regulation 18420.1(f), the FPPC should require BART to file the necessary campaign finance reports for the direct and indirect costs of its campaign activities relating to promotion of Measure RR on the November 2016 ballot in Alameda, Contra Costa and San Francisco counties. BART needs to publicly disclose the value of public resources that it expended for campaign activities supporting passage of Measure RR as either a contribution to Yes on RR campaign or as an independent expenditure supporting Measure RR. For the “Draymond Says” video, BART needs to report as campaign activity the costs of planning the video, production of the video, and promotion of the video via YouTube, Twitter, its internet homepage, its BART “news article,” and by other means of publicity. If Draymond Green is a “paid spokesperson” for BART, then a Form 511 report must be filed.”

Bezis also provided evidence to support his complaint, which can be seen, below.

When reached for comment BART Board Member Joel Keller responded “The complainant believes the District used public funds to promote a ballot measure and has filed a complaint with the Fair Political Practices Commission (FPPC). There is a fine line between education and advocacy and it is appropriate to wait for the FPPC’s response before discussing the merits of the complaint.  However, as a supporter of the Dub Nation and admirer of the heart and intensity of Draymond Green’s play, it’s too bad that the motivation for the video about the Warriors and BART has become controversial because it is a slam dunk.”

Kerry Hamill, BART’s Assistant General Manager for External Affairs said

“We have had an ongoing relationship with the Golden State Warriors for years at BART.

We provide extra service to their games.

They promote BART in a variety of ways, like this video, which they showed at one of their last pre-season games.

We did not pay for it. The District absolutely did not pay for it. It’s the Warriors’ video and they used it for their pre-season game to show during the game.

They let us use it for BARTable, which is a website and a newsletter that promotes off-peak ridership to various games, activities, shows and festivals.

Bezis “has a pattern of filing complaints,” she said. “He did this several times against the Measure BB campaign in 2014. Everything was dismissed by the FPPC in that case.”

“I really want the Warriors to be applauded for encouraging people to take BART to the game and get cars off the road,” Hamill. “It’s a lot safer and smarter to take public transit to a game, when you’re going to drink and party.

“The Warriors and BART shouldn’t be attacked for promoting taking transit. People should take BART to the game.”

The FPPC has 14 days to decide if they intend to investigate the complaint, refer the complaint to another agency, take no action either because the Commission doesn’t have the authority or the allegations do not warrant any further action.

The election is Tuesday, November 8th.


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