Category Archive 'Transportation'

10 Feb 2020

Life In California’s Left-Wing Paradise

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The Nomenklatura live conveniently in Atherton, Portola, or Pacific Heights, but the proletariat get to catch 2:30 AM buses to work from the 110° every day Central Valley. Protocol:

It’s 2:30 a.m. in the Central California farm town of Salida, and the only sound is the tech bus pulling into an unmarked lot surrounded by barbed wire. Men and women in work boots board in the moonlight. Next stop is 11 miles away in Manteca, and then it’s another 55 miles to Fremont on the San Francisco Bay, where — an hour and a half hour later — the 4 a.m. shift at the Tesla factory starts.

Welcome to life on Silicon Valley’s new frontier. When tech companies first introduced private shuttles for their employees more than a decade ago, they served the affluent neighborhoods in San Francisco and the Peninsula. Now the buses reach as far as the almond orchards of Salida and the garlic fields of Gilroy.

Tech companies have grown tight-lipped about the specifics of their shuttle programs in the wake of high-profile protests in San Francisco. But Protocol was able to locate enough stops for company shuttles to confirm that some tech shuttles now drive all the way out to the Central Valley, an agricultural hub once a world away from the tech boom on the coast.

“That just tells you the story of the Bay Area,” said Russell Hancock, president and CEO of regional think tank Joint Venture Silicon Valley. “We’re going to be in these farther-flung places, and that’s our reality because we’re not going to be able to create affordable housing.”

Tech shuttle sprawl speaks to the unique pressures that the industry has put on the region. High tech salaries have driven up housing prices in Silicon Valley, San Francisco and the East Bay, forcing white- and blue-collar workers alike to move farther away from their jobs. The crisis is compounded by anti-development politics that make it hard to build new housing and patchwork public transit systems that make it difficult for commuters to get to work without driving.

The mismatch between jobs and housing has become so extreme that Google and Facebook have proposed building thousands of apartments or condos on their own campuses.

In the meantime, those companies — plus Tesla, Apple, Netflix, LinkedIn, Genentech and others — are trying to solve the problem with long-distance buses. They all now offer shuttle service to at least the extended suburbs of the East Bay, according to interviews and reports Protocol consulted. Their longest routes now stretch north across the Golden Gate Bridge, south to the surf town of Santa Cruz, and east to the Central Valley — a total service area approaching 3,000 square miles.

04 Aug 2009

Commuter Roads Too Crowded?

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Martin Jetpack

If someone had come up with a working version of the kind of transportation device described in this Fox News story back in an earlier time, when Americans were much more frequently gifted mechanics and free of government regulations on everything and the threat of litigation, it would not have been very long before wealthy enthusiasts would be playing with these and arrival in the mass marketplace not far off.

Today? Well, when the Segway personal transportation device came out in 2001, San Francisco hastily banned it, before it had ever even been used on that city’s streets.

New Zealand-based Martin Aircraft unveiled a strap-on mini helicopter designed to travel at a speed of 62 mph for about 31 miles.

“To be able to fly solo in a fixed-wing aircraft can take 15 hours of flight training, but most people wanted to be able to learn to fly the jetpack in a few minutes,” inventor Glenn Martin said.

So, for now, adrenaline junkies will be able to get the thrill of flying solo through the air with a smaller version that goes about 6 miles an hour and is in a controlled outdoor area.

“It will still be flying as it’s never been done before, just in the confines of a rugby field-type space,” Martin Aircraft Company Chief Executive Richard Lauder told the Australian Associated Press. “Just because you have to stay under [6 miles an hour] doesn’t mean it won’t be an exciting experience.”

The cost will be about the same as other outdoor adventures like bungee jumping or skydiving, the company said.

The catch — it will only be available in New Zealand. …

Each Martin Jetpack costs about $150,000.


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