Q I am writing in response to your "Toll-lane revenues surpass projections" article in the March 20 paper. You state that 237-880 express lanes have generated $905,042 in revenue in the first year. That sounds somewhat impressive to the person on the street, but that's half of the story, as any student who has completed an Accounting 101 course knows. Revenue minus costs equals profit/net income.
What about the costs? Are there any extra funds from the toll lanes from Year No. 1 that can be earmarked for other uses?
A A fair point. Expenses ran around $500,000, so the toll lanes brought in about $405,000 in profit. Expenses are expected to decline, as some of the first-year costs went to setting up the tolling system. The $905,042 in revenue was about $200,000 more than projected.
Q We hear that the closure of toll booths on the Golden Gate Bridge will save nearly $2 million per year. Nice move. However, nothing is said about the costs incurred to have an administrative staff for looking up license plates, sending out $6 bills for those without transponders and credit card accounts, people setting up the credit card accounts, and an accounts receivable department to receive the payments and deal with people who are late with payments or don't pay period. All this and more and we are saving $2 million a year?
A Yep. Bridge officials say the new tolling program is far less costly to operate than manual toll collection. The cost of manual collections ran about 86 cents per transaction, while FasTrak is 25 cents per transaction.
Q This probably won't make the paper because not enough people would be interested. But I thought you might be able to find out the answer to this potential road issue.
I was driving on Highway 9 on my motorbike from Los Gatos to Saratoga. Just before you reach Saratoga around Horseshoe Drive, they decided to build an island in the middle of this wide-open highway. There are no reflective signs implanted in the island, nor reflectors or pylons of any kind. Just an island in the middle of the highway at least 4-6 inches high and probably about 10-12 feet by 3-4 feet in size.
Why in the world would they put that hazard there? I can just see someone driving at night in a car, motorbike or bicycle and hitting that and causing an accident or worse. Do you know?
A Sure do. The island will act as a pedestrian refuge for a new crosswalk that will be installed as part of a Highway 9 safety improvement project. There will be lights in the pavement as well as other improvements to highlight the island and the new crosswalk when work is completed. The contractor did place traffic cones in the interim to alert drivers, but they may have been knocked away.
Q When I left the BART Coliseum parking lot one night last week around 7 p.m., there were two men collecting $10 from cars entering the lot. I presume this is to get money from people going to the A's game. Never saw this before, and I park in the lot every day. Did BART sneak in this new fee without any publicity? Do people who really want to ride on BART have to pay $10 along with the baseball fans? Or is this a scam by dishonest entrepreneurs?
A No scam. The $10 fee has been in place since 2001. It's collected when attendance at Coliseum events at the ballpark and arena are expected to exceed 30,000 people combined. These fees cover the maintenance and security costs of the lot and ensure that an area of the BART Coliseum station lot is available for those actually riding BART. Otherwise the lot would be filled with the cars of those attending A's or Warrior games or other events.
BART officials say the charge isn't levied much during the week, but can occur on weekends when the Raiders are playing. And they say having additional staff on crowded Coliseum nights appears to deter crime, as there are fewer car break-ins when they charge the $10 fee.
Q Regarding the French tourist mistaking the Highway 101 sign for a speed limit sign -- thankgawd the CHP caught them before they got to 880.
A Thankgawd indeed!
Q I am a motorcyclist, and I take riding to be a very serious business which demands my utmost attention and skills at all times. To say I was totally shocked to see this is an understatement.
Recently I was driving down East Monte Vista Avenue in Vacaville when I saw a motorcyclist riding in the oncoming direction. He seemed to be swerving in his lane a bit. I noticed he had only his right hand on the handlebars and kept looking down to his gas tank. I thought maybe he was experiencing some kind of mechanical problem.
When he passed by I was astonished to see he had a cellphone in his left hand and he was texting, or at least reading a text. I see lots of drivers texting but this is a first I've seen a motorcyclist texting. Riders like that give all motorcyclists a bad name. A saying often used in the motorcycling community is "Stupid Hurts."
A And stupid can kill.