No traffic for the rich

Sf Examiner file photo

The more libertarian elements of the Bay Area have been complaining for years about carpool lanes on the freeways. If everyone's stuck in traffic, and those lanes are open, why can't everyone use them -- and cut back on congestion?

Now, heeding those complaints (and moving in the fast lane toward privatization of the highway system), the Metropolitan Transportation Commission is moving to allow single-occupant vehicles to use the carpool lanes -- for a price.

So the people who can afford to spent ten bucks extra a day can save time, too -- and everyone else has to sit in traffic. A couple of problems with this scenario.

For one thing, the idea that moving more cars to the carpool lane will ease congestion on the rest of the road has no basis in fact or reality. Freeways are like jails -- the more you build, the faster they fill up. Double the size of I-80 and soon it will still be as crowded. Build another Bay Bridge and it will be choked with cars in a year. That's been the entire experience of American highway construction since World War II.

An open freeway encourages people to drive. When the price of waiting in traffic gets high enough, people either use transit or ... carpool.

Which is the point of the carpool lanes. If a couple of people leave their cars at home, freeing up space for everyone else and in the process cutting down on fossil-fuel emissions, then they get to ride in a less-crowded lane. The carpool lanes are supposed to be more empty; that's the idea.

Then there's this notion of first-class and second-class highway travel.

In a perfect world, people whose time is worth more money would sacrifice cash to get where they're going, and by sitting in traffic for half an hour less would earn tha extra money back at work, and all would even out. But even the most academic-minded economists know that's not how the real world works. (Of course, in a perfect world we'd have such fast, cheap and effective transit systems that nobody would drive around the Bay Area at all.)

No: What will really happen is that wealthier people who want to go shopping or out to dinner or whatever and drive without sitting in traffic will get to do that, and poorer people will lose even more of their time to the commute, which they can't afford to do anyway, and the level of economic inequality in the Bay Area will get worse. So will the air quality.

Brilliant idea.


Otherwise - shut the fuck up and quit throwing around terms of which you have no comprehension. You don't sound smart - you sound like an idiot.

Lucretia must tame this pet.

Posted by Lucretia Snapples on Feb. 26, 2013 @ 12:06 pm

(not least because nobody knows who "Greg" really is anyway) . .

but also, a lawsuit for libel can only succeed if the cited facts are not true which, as even fellow leftie marcos says, they most definitely are true in this case.

Posted by Guest on Feb. 26, 2013 @ 12:45 pm

You don't know Greg, do you? Nor do you know if Marcos really said that or if he was being imped (and who knows, perhaps you are the one imping him). I doubt that Greg is the litigious type. Nonetheless, Lucretia's lies about him (and yes, we know she lies, because we've seen it time and again) are libelous in spirit. Now, Greg has challenged her to come up with a single quote where he has said "anything remotely anti-Asian," and she can't do it. So by any reasonable standard, she is the one who should STFU.

Posted by And the rich made out like bandits on Feb. 26, 2013 @ 1:24 pm

All we know is that someone who signed themselves as "Greg" here made racist comments about Asians, and then some other poster signing in as "Lucretia" or "Guest" or whatever accused Greg of being a racist which doesn't seem unreasonable given the content.

So is "Guest" going to sue "Anon" for something said on a chat site? Don't think so.

Posted by Guest on Mar. 01, 2013 @ 11:12 am

marcos is too right on too many subjects for me to readily jump to the conclusion that he is a dissembling rightist -- even though his input here is frequently highly insulting and destructive to progressive causes and leaders.

(There is yet a part of me that considers the words of Noam Chomsky and Edward S. Herman regarding the different levels of media coverage for the different levels of stratified power within society, so it's still an open question.)

No, rather this behavior -- of which I've been subject to as well -- tends to make me think of a friend of mine who once had a bout with mental illness due to a chemical imbalance. He got medical treatment and is 100% okay again.

Posted by lillipublicans on Mar. 01, 2013 @ 10:59 am

My mother had me tested.

Posted by marcos on Mar. 01, 2013 @ 11:11 am
Posted by Guest on Mar. 01, 2013 @ 11:13 am

Not only is it a mark of mental illness to disagree with someone on the left, it is a personal insult to them as well as an attack on whatever identity they claim.

Posted by marcos on Mar. 01, 2013 @ 11:18 am

The alternative explanation is that you aren't really a friend.

Posted by lillipublicans on Mar. 01, 2013 @ 11:48 am

A friend is someone who tells you when you are wrong.

Posted by Guest on Mar. 01, 2013 @ 11:59 am

It is a sign of collective mental illness for a group to take leadership of a movement, to run that movement off of a cliff, to cut deals with (former?) opponents and to call anyone who names that for what it is mentally ill.

Posted by marcos on Mar. 01, 2013 @ 12:01 pm

You help them beat up on "fellow" progressives and they give you the abuse you crave. Repeat pattern.

Posted by lillipublicans on Mar. 01, 2013 @ 1:04 pm

Yes, it is all one big conspiracy to get you.

Posted by marcos on Mar. 01, 2013 @ 1:28 pm

since I never personalized this or claimed it was a "conspiracy."

No. Rather, marcos faulted progressive leaders for cutting deals with the enemy and I pointed out that *he* appears to have done exactly that. I did not say it was to "get me".

I'm not sure what marcos is about -- whether it be mental illness, or, that despite some outward appearances he is actually a very slick right-winger* -- but I do want to point out how much forebearance I've excercised in the past.

It was not I -- despite marcos' false intimations upthread -- who started name-calling. I've suffered not only from repeatedly needless critical responses by marcos to my posts but have been called everything from "stupid" to "creep" by you.

In the past I've repeatedly made polite suggestions that I'm not the enemy and that marcos' behavior is not beneficial to the causes he ostensibly supports. I've always made the greatest effort to extend the benefit of the doubt to marcos and have defended him repeatedly from attacks by the more obvious right-wing trolls -- for which I've been subjected to further abuse.

*I'd like to think it is mental illness and that this message and the counsel of those closest to him is sufficient to make his realize his predicament, but I'm leading to explanation #2.

Posted by lillipublicans on Mar. 01, 2013 @ 3:03 pm

asserting that you disagree with them.

And looks to many that you are bereft of arguments to sustain your point.


Posted by Guest on Mar. 01, 2013 @ 3:20 pm

That's what intransigence will do to you every time.

Posted by Guest on Mar. 01, 2013 @ 1:28 pm

This IS an interesting development - although I see the friend quickly developed a mental illness prolly caused by prolonged exposure to lilz' endless babbling and inanity.

Posted by Lucretia Snapples on Mar. 01, 2013 @ 1:37 pm

Of course if we did not live our lives oppressing the most vulnerable with our privilege, that would be apparent to us all, but we are blind.

Posted by marcos on Mar. 01, 2013 @ 11:55 am

precisely what reactionaries are best at.

It is their specialty.

Posted by lillipublicans on Feb. 25, 2013 @ 5:18 pm

penchant of the left as, lacking direction or support, they lurch from one reaction to another.

Notice how Tim reacts to a car lane suggestion, a TIC conversion proposal, and so on. Always defending and reacting - never initiating a coherent policy direction.

Progressivesd have becomes the Regressives and Reactionaries, opposing everything but signifying nothing.

Posted by Guest on Feb. 25, 2013 @ 5:42 pm

Layer upon layer of garbage. Puerile semantic trickery. Bard reference redeemingly self-referential.

Posted by lillipublicans on Feb. 25, 2013 @ 6:15 pm

This is true. Conservatives are today's radicals while liberals are relegated to defending and "reforming" their crumbling legacy out of existence much to everyone's detriment.

Posted by marcos on Feb. 25, 2013 @ 6:32 pm

It wasn't that long ago that many San Franciscans (sort of smugly) complained about Los Ángeles being a "car-culture"....the same thing we've become with big, tank-sized SUVs with one person...the driver only.

I see the resident trolls have moved over here for attention-seeking and most are ignoring them. Very wise to do so. The resident trolls are even baiting the BG staff! I don't know why the BG staff put up with this shit because the site loses its integrity with this type of stuff.

Posted by Guest on Feb. 25, 2013 @ 4:35 pm

positions? Really? How enlightened of them.

Posted by anon on Feb. 25, 2013 @ 4:50 pm

"rent-controlled public transit guy " ...that is funny. I am sorry but the generalizations about middle-class urban liberals are just insane. rent-control merely causes me to not have to needlessly move every two years like in NYC and Boston with no rent control. and public transit is not a dirty word in most cities. muni is terrible but it is still practical in a major city to take public transit. it doesn't mean you smell bad or don't work hard or on and on with typical conservative points. It is pretty simple to explain though I doubt it will sink in. MOST liberals work really hard. MOST don't want to have a socialistic mecca where no one does anything. MOST think that stuff happens and there should be some kind of social net for sick, poor, and old people that don't have any money. And in relation so cars, it is outrageous to pay for carpool lines. All the other arguments are pointless. The point is you need to keep carpool lanes faster because most people don't want to trouble themselves with sharing a ride. By giving the benefit to people who carpool it makes transit sense. Toll roads are entirely different. Toll roads are due to lack of proper budget management on the part of states, states that have bloated employee pensions due to hypocritical unions robbing the public blind. I think CA should reinstate the vehicle fee Arnold took away. That cost us like $5 billion. Vehicles should be luxury items. Sometimes I own a car and sometimes I don't. But I am aware either way that it is a luxury. Anon you must be really wealthy and work really hard, I wish I did, if only I didn't puff weed at school. Blah blah plot line to keep yourself sane I get it.

Posted by Hocus Pocus on Feb. 25, 2013 @ 8:20 pm

"Vehicles should be luxury items."


Only the rich should have them!

And we should have a ten buck a day charge for using a freeway (easily enforceable with current technology) - that way, the freeways can be cleared of the riffraff, so only their social betters will be able to use them quickly and efficiently.

Charge everyone ten bucks a day! No discrimination!

Tim would approve!

Posted by Demented, Yet Terribly, Terribly, Persistent on Feb. 25, 2013 @ 10:16 pm

The wealthy twits and parasites whose forebears capitalized on the American infrastructure, put into place by democratic majority now wish to enlarge their sphere of entitlement to the public roadways so that they may travel hither and thither while they make no useful contribution whatsoever aside from the procurement of anti-anxiety medications. Let them. They are so out of touch with the reality of the situation that while they are planning their next jaunt to their weekend home in Sonoma, others more connected to every day life grow more and more accustomed to the eventual and unavoidable toppling of a system which violates the right to human dignity. Their silly whims are only possible in the short term because a society that suppresses the needs of the majority always ends up with those at the bottom usurping the useless vapid idiots that feel superior and yet terrified of the other 99%...Tick tock.

Posted by Guest on Feb. 26, 2013 @ 5:16 am

For the life of me, I can't understand why anyone would make a routine of driving in San Francisco proper,,,and I don't even live there. Between BART and your MUNI system, I've never seen such splendid public transit anywhere despite the protestations of some. Face it, very few who commute to San Francisco alone in their own cars actually need to,,at least as compared to the numbers who carpool or use public transit. It's as much an ego thing as anything else.

Posted by Guest on Feb. 26, 2013 @ 5:55 am

i.e. area's like ChinaTown and North Beach, which siffered unduly from the taking down of the embarcadero freeway. But elsewhere in the city, I can get to most places by car in about 10 minutes.

Same with parking - only the NW is a problem.

Muni actually sucks - it's filthy, slow, unreliable and somewhere between skeevy and dangeroius. The only part of it that works is the Streetcars, and they are over-crowded and congested. BART does work well, however, because it is run at a Bay Area level, and not run by SF at all.

Since you admit that you do not live in SF, I thought you'd appreciate the input of someone who does. In the end, SF is a CA city, and you need a car unless you never really go anywhere.

Posted by Guest on Feb. 26, 2013 @ 8:52 am

I've been able to get pretty much any place in town via the MUNI every time I've been there. Also, the service is as timely, clean and safe as any other I've been on. I think you sell the MUNI short. No offense intended,,but I think most Californians are needlessly overdependent on their own vehicles. Nothing personal but I think it's a status thing.

Posted by Guest on Feb. 26, 2013 @ 12:00 pm

Transit cannot compete with the private auto for regional trips. If you don't work in San Francisco and you don't work for a company that has shuttle bus services, then we're talking about a paying a 300% premium to take transit. That's quite a gradient even when the cost of car ownership is factored in.

Transit is not reliable for intra city trips such as making timed appointments. The amount of lead time one must budget in order to make it somewhere on time can approach 100% of the trip. That's another premium paid for the privilege of taking transit that has to be measured against the costs of car ownership.

Reliability is pegged in the 60% range.

The 25 year transportation plan currently moving through the approvals process posits a paltry $3.14b in unprogrammed transit capitial investment (in addition to the $2b or so currently programmed) and confesses that falls short of the $4b required to keep existing investment in good repair.

The SFCTA plan also confesses that San Francisco is a whopping $10b short of identified and programmed capital investment required to meet our climate goals.

It is one thing to saddle motorists with the full costs of driving. But it is quite another to have no intention of making public transit appealing and attractive relative to private autos. The politics of making driving terrible so that people mode shift onto terrible transit probably won't work as it will leave a bad taste in people's mouths, alienating them to a good cause.

Would that alternative transportation activists and advocates spent half as much of their energies pushing government for augmented investment in transit as they do in attacking motorists. As a fulltime cyclist, my safety is not dependent upon more cycling facilities. It is dependent upon moving people out of their cars and onto transit and police enforcement of traffic laws in ways that encourage and favor cycling.

To the contrary, the thinking is that if we pour enough concrete and paint, that Muni riders will shift to cycling and open up seats on a static system for new transit riders. This means that demand management is not only for autos anymore, they're demand managing the whole damn Municipal Railway!

Posted by marcos on Feb. 26, 2013 @ 12:50 pm

The London and Paris metro systems have a farebox recovery rate of 90%.

In SF, I'd guess it is barely 50%, and CalTrain even worse than that.

Only BART has viable numbers and, of course, a decent source of tax revenues.

There is a really good argument for privatizing muni, getting the operators on private sector pay and benefit levels, and capping the subsidy.

Posted by Guest on Feb. 26, 2013 @ 1:36 pm


Paris RATP farebox recovery = 40%
Transport for London farebox recovery = 50%

Cowtrain, the toy railroad, has a farebox recovery = 51%

Last I heard, Muni farebox recovery was between 1/4 and 1/3.

But since the MTA is a cash cow, the more money you throw into it that is constrained for transit expenditures, those funds only shift unconstrained funds out of the system with a net neutral or negative adjusted increase on core transit spending.

Posted by marcos on Feb. 27, 2013 @ 8:03 am

I'll have more time later today and will find a citation for you.

But even on your numbers, SF is way worse than those other cities for recovery rates, so the point stands.

Posted by Guest on Feb. 27, 2013 @ 8:18 am

on the major corridors into downtown during communing hours. For instance, my service is once every 20 minutes, going to every 40 minutes on evenings and week-ends. That is useless.

A car is far faster and more convenient, and even more so if the whole family is traveling, or if we have to carry stuff.

I'm not all on the moral bandwagon about cars or gas or global warming - i'm talking about speed, reliability and safety.

Posted by Guest on Feb. 26, 2013 @ 1:33 pm

I think you mean the Northeast corner is where it's more difficult to drive and find free parking-- Marina, North Beach, Russian Hill, Chinatown, Downtown, etc. The Northwest corner is the Richmond, Seacliff, Ocean Beach, etc.

Posted by voltairesmistress on Feb. 26, 2013 @ 12:35 pm

The other three quadrants - absolutely, and I'd say a car is essential in the far southern and western area's of the city and, of course, the rest of the bay area.

Posted by Guest on Feb. 26, 2013 @ 1:34 pm

The only way over the long term to reduce congestion on the highways is to charge to use them. I guarantee you free carpool lane use would substantially increase if we charged solo drivers to use the highway's other lanes at least during congested times. But so far, congestion pricing on any highway or city street has not found popular support. Charging solo drivers to use currently underutilized carpool lanes at least gets those drivers' cars out of the four or so other lanes clogged with other solo drivers.

The long term fix, however, will be to pair congestion road pricing with good transit alternatives. And so far, we Californians and Bay Area residents have not been willing to prioritize transit spending. Nor have we supported congestion pricing or insisted that that the funds generated from it go toward providing viable alternatives to driving.

The real inequity is not allowing wealthier solo drivers to pay to use the underused carpool lanes; rather, it is that working and middle class people cannot get to work cheaply and easily via alternatives to driving.

Posted by voltairesmistress on Feb. 26, 2013 @ 12:30 pm

"The real inequity is not allowing wealthier solo drivers to pay to use the underused carpool lanes; rather, it is that working and middle class people cannot get to work cheaply and easily via alternatives to driving."

And there is no inclination to do anything to change this.

Posted by marcos on Feb. 26, 2013 @ 12:52 pm

Muni only charges $2 to go as far as you can, and yet muni is still massively subsidized. Would reducing it to $1 really justify the massive extra subsidy that would require? It's not like ridership would double if we did that, and muni does not have the capacity to double riders anyway.

You might get closer if you renegotiate the contracts with the operators though. Muni drivers get paid about twice the going rate.

Posted by Guest on Feb. 27, 2013 @ 7:38 am

Automobiles are the spawn of Satan,
and the attachment some people have to
their cars is neurotic, if not psychotic.
"Road rage?" Or a "psychotic episode?"
Cars are a luxury, in no way necessary to Life On Earth.
Indeed, the reverse is true. We are killing people and
destroying the environment all over the world so we can
drive our pet to the vet.

Posted by Troll Killer on Feb. 27, 2013 @ 10:25 am

about transit policies, then cars have to be in the mix.

And of course as soon as you leave congested urban centers, there really is no alternative. But at least we have cheap gas (relative to other nations anyway).

Posted by Guest on Feb. 27, 2013 @ 10:36 am

We did City CarShare just last week to take our cats to the vet, what are you suggesting, we take the cats on the 33 bus for five blocks, walk carrying the cats for five blocks, buy special products so that we can carry the cats on the back of a bicycle? I'm sure they'll fucking love that shit.

Posted by marcos on Feb. 27, 2013 @ 10:40 am

The last two comments would be funny, if they weren't so sad.
Sad, selfish, and wrong......

Posted by Troll Killer on Feb. 28, 2013 @ 6:04 am

that one.

After all, cats outside of their natural state of being -- i.e. sleeping, cleaning, or disemboweling small animals -- are a notoriously flighty species and it is understandable that a pet owner would take exception to any suggestion that they believe might exacerbate their propensity for mental distress.

On the other hand, marcos, I've found that cats freak out pretty much the same from car noise and motion than anything else. Five blocks walking with a cat carrier -- one covered by a light towel -- doesn't seem particularly onerous in this case.

Posted by lillipublicans on Feb. 28, 2013 @ 6:43 am

act out freakily in a car if you were in it. Our cat usually falls asleep in our car.

Anyway, there are many times and situations when only a car will do. What about disabled people for instance? Old people? People with babies? Moving heavy items? Etc. Etc.

Posted by Guest on Feb. 28, 2013 @ 7:38 am

Yes, they do freak out from being taken out of their range no matter what you do to them. The point was to minimize the stress, they're getting up in the years. We even found *parking* right in front of the vet and were in and out of there in 30 min before we had to feed the meter again.

The best approach to diminishing the use of autos is to give regular motorists viable and attractive alternatives to their daily auto use as in investing in rapid, regional and reliable transit from job clusters to housing clusters. There is no intention of making that kind of investment, not one penny of the $10b has been identified for SF, and it would cost closer to $100b to get the mainlines up and running in the region. That still does not even come close to addressing the first and last mile problems.

Whining that people do a car share once a year to bring the cats to the vet is complaining that rounding error on chump change and $.50 will buy you a cup of Four Barrel.

Posted by marcos on Feb. 28, 2013 @ 8:18 am

Until Ugly Autos go the way of the horse and buggy, which they will, I use Zip Car a couple of times a year.

My point remains: automobiles are in no way a necessity, and most "old people" shouldn't be driving anyway. Automobiles and their infrastructure are responsible for most of the environmental damage to the planet. Wars for oil have bankrupted this country.

Maybe you'll get it when you have to eat your cat.....

Posted by Troll Killer on Feb. 28, 2013 @ 8:46 am

then yes, at the margin and most of the time, you might be able to scrabble together a subsistence without a car. It's not that you cannot so much as most people would not want to, as it would take away so many lifestyle options.

I am not going to have a miserable life just so I can say that I don't own a car.

And people have been predicting the "end of the car" for 50 years now and there are far more cars than ever. We will always have cars although the fuel they use may change over time.

The last thing Americans need is a lecture from a "no life".

Posted by Guest on Feb. 28, 2013 @ 9:22 am

Again, would be funny if not so sad.
Sad, uninformed, and selfish.
And in typical troll fashion, does not address the issue of environmental degradation or the slaughter of innocents for their "convenience."
Future generations will look upon your apathy and acquiescence to the status quo as collaboration.

Posted by Troll Killer on Feb. 28, 2013 @ 9:35 am