New research finds that a neighborhood’s green space leads to better health outcomes.

Forty trains a day through Altamont at up to 125 mph? It could happen, weary drivers.

The Altamont Commuter Express train travels through the Altamont Pass off Altamont Pass Road, Calif., on Thursday, June 1, 2017.

Author  John Holland

Passenger rail service could increase 10-fold over Altamont Pass – enticing news for people who drive it daily from the Modesto area.

Rail planners are seeking funding for a 3.5-mile tunnel at the pass and other upgrades that would reduce travel times to Bay Area jobs. They envision 30 daily round trips at up to 125 miles per hour as soon as 2026, and 40 trips at some later date.

The improvements would benefit the Altamont Corridor Express, which runs four round trips each weekday between Stockton and San Jose and will launch Saturday service Sept. 7. ACE already has funding for branches to Stanislaus, Merced and Sacramento counties in the next few years.

The tunnel also would serve the proposed Valley Link rail system between the Dublin BART station and Stockton. It would share three stations with ACE and have other stations to itself in Livermore, Mountain House, Tracy and Lathrop.

Read More


Stealthy Startup Promises Cheaper Flying via Renewable Hydrogen


Author Peter Fairley

ZeroAvia’s 2-ton, 6-seat test platform is the largest zero-emissions aircraft flying.

The aviation industry’s global trade group says electric airplanes are unlikely to be flying commercial routes before 2040. That pessimism from the International Air Transport Association is off by nearly two decades according to ZeroAvia, a fast-moving electric flight startup popping out of stealth mode today. For six months already, the Hollister, Calif.–based firm has been flying the world’s largest zero-emissions aircraft—the fuel cell-equipped prop-plane pictured above—and ZeroAvia vows that its powertrain design will be cutting both carbon and costs for regional flights in just 3 to 4 years.

“Right now we have an aircraft that’s six seats and 2 tons as an R&D demonstrator. Next year we’ll have a 20-seat aircraft and we’ll submit the design for [Federal Aviation Administration (FAA)] certification,” says Val Miftakhov, ZeroAvia’s founder and CEO. “That’s what drives the 2022, 2023 timeline. At that point, we’re expecting to have certification and put the system into commercial service,” Miftakhov predicts.

Read More

What’s Next for Phoenix’s Light Rail?

Author Laura Bliss 

In August 2015, voters in Phoenix approved Transportation 2050, a $31.5 billion sales tax measure that would add 42 miles of new light rail, bus rapid transit, and a host of new stations to the greater metro area. It was the third time in 20 years that residents had opted to expand the Valley Metro Rail system.

The existing network, which opened in 2008, was considered a runaway success. Ridership and revenues on the 26 miles connecting Phoenix, Tempe, and Mesa far outstripped planners’ original projections. Today, roughly 50,000 riders use the system daily, which has been credited with helping spark an economic resurgence in downtown Phoenix.Read More



SMART eyes closing 90-minute service gaps with revised schedule, extension to Larkspur

slide image


Sonoma-Marin Area Rail Transit is planning to close several extended gaps in daily rail service with a new schedule that will increase the frequency of departures, debuting the revised routes in December with the planned opening of its new Larkspur station.

The addition of four new rail cars will allow SMART to increase the number of trains on its tracks and attempt to address complaints about long waits for service during key weekday commuter hours.

“To me, closing the gaps is significant, and the sooner the better. I think it’s common sense,” said San Rafael Mayor Gary Phillips, who serves as chairman of SMART’s board of directors. “Once you have the schedule, then you have to be able to perform. We want to make darn sure that there are not any hiccups along the way.”

SMART currently runs 17 southbound trains and 17 northbound trains on weekdays, with the first train departing at 4:19 a.m. from the station north of Santa Rosa near Charles M. Schulz-Sonoma County Airport and the last arriving at 9:42 p.m.