Continued, second of two web pages.
The MTA is beginning the EIR process for potential light rail or "busway" along Exposition and to the Eastside. This is our opportunity for fast, clean, comfortable alternatives to the auto gridlock that is choking Los Angeles. For more info contact the Friends 4 Expo Transi, formerly the East-West Transit Coalition. They have monthly meetings and printed brochures:
Friends 4 Expo Transit
P.O. Box 64943, Los Angeles, CA 90064
Phone: 310-395-3025 Fax 310-393-9810
email: friends4expo@Xaol.com [first delete the X, an anti-spam technique]
The VTA's downtown/east valley study draft recommendation is: Light Rail transit on Santa Clara Street and Capitol Ave./Expressway, and "bus rapid transit" on Monterey Highway. The result of a previous study of the Vasona line [Campbell to downtown San Jose] was to connect to the Guadalupe [the original] LRT on San Carlos St. instead of using San Fernando St.
A study by VTA for extending BART to San Jose is currently on-going and will determine costs and alternatives.
In a further attempt to prevent restoration of rail service on the San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge, MTC staff is claiming that restoring rail would take 3 lanes of cars. False! The fact is, wide "red cars" used the Bridge There were 2 tracks + 3 lanes on the lower deck, and the lower deck was designated for trucks and buses, while the top deck had 6 narrower lanes. Now there are 5 lanes per deck. Here is the diagram of the wide "red car" of the Interurban Electric Railway that used the bridge. For pictures, see moderntransit.org/sfobb
The train from Belgium to Italy went through the Alps, which were beautiful but the tops were in clouds. In the evening we reached Milan where we had our first Italian dinner of the trip. It's different than in the US, and much better!. Then we got on the night train to south Italy. We got a whole compartment to ourselves. The seats, total of 6 per compartment, pull out and turn into very comfortable twin beds. I'm 6' 1" and it was long enough even for me. We slept very well. Gone are the days where one is lulled to sleep by the "click click ... click click" of the rails. It's all welded steel rails now, without sound. I even remember when taking a night train the red hot cinders streaming past the window. Now it's all electric for the main lines.
The hotel in Solerno where we stayed was on the busiest street in town, where all the major stores and banks are. The street also has small stores, pizzerias, gelaterias, etc. Our hotel room overlooked the street, but we didn't get any traffic noise. It's PEDESTRIANS ONLY!
We stayed in Solerno for a week. The town was central to seeing really interesting things: Pompeii, Paestum, best preserved Greek temples in the world, dating from 500 B.C., Herculanium, another buried alive city, Napoli, and the Amalfi coast. All are accessible by train except for the Amalfi coast, where we took a bus on the road which was so narrow and winding the bus had to back up several times and often close its mirrors when passing other buses. Some people got bus sick. The road hugs the coastal cliffs, and we would have seen even more dramatic scenery, according to the guidebook, except we bailed out at Amalfi, a medieval town built on the steep slopes. Most streets are stairs!
An interesting place to eat is the "hosteria." You get to pick from a whole bunch of foods by pointing at them. Most are vegetables. It was so good we over-ate. Then the food expanded in the tummy and we were really bad off. Yet we went back two more times, just ordered less.
We ran out of clean clothes, and the only laundromat in Italy, to our knowledge and that of the Lonely Planet guidebook, is in Rome. So, that's where we went. We had to do that on our last trip, too! The express train takes 3 hours, but only costs $17. Not bad! We'll saw sites in Rome we missed in our last trip, too.
A high speed rail network is being built in Italy and western Europe. Parts have been completed years ago (especially in France), but it is being greatly expanded. Here in Firenze (Florence), a new high speed rail station will be constructed a few kilometers from the old main station. The two stations will be connected by a people mover, including a few intermediate stops.