Train Travel Inches Northward

The trains will soon be rolling again in San Rafael and elsewhere in Marin. Read about it HERE.  “We haven’t had passenger trains operate in the North Bay in any meaningful way since 1958,” said SMART spokesman  Matt Stevens.  “There will be certain areas where we will be running 50 mph, 60 mph and our top speed will be 79 mph.” he said of the testing. “Don’t stop on the tracks and obey all warnings.”

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Aviation- The View From Fresno; the AAC Meets Today.

This item was forwarded to us by a Friend of the Blog and , while we don’t know what exactly to make of it, it’s definitely good reading.  After you’ve sampled it, you’ll find yourself wondering if it’s really from Fresno or from here, except that we don’t have a shuttle.  Incidentally, the County’s Aviation Advisory Committee has its monthly meeting today, Tuesday, at 6pm at the Prosperity Center, 520 E Street, Eureka.

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Planes flying to and from Fresno these days are bigger – but that means fewer flights. Special to The Bee

BY DONALD MUNRO

dmunro@fresnobee.com

SAN FRANCISCO

When it rains at the airport here, it’s hard to find a passenger more pathetic than someone trying to get to Fresno.

I trudged up to the designated baggage carousel at San Francisco International Airport last Sunday night, less than eager to join the bedraggled looking group of travelers gathered for a promised shuttle bus to Fresno. The 30 or so people looked tired and defeated, as if they were about to join a chain gang. Once again, a flight to Fresno wasn’t going anywhere.

 

The reason: the dreaded “Canceled due to air traffic control conditions impacting our flight operations.”

 

The cynical among us interpret that as: When the weather gets a little unsettled at SFO – notorious for delays even when the rain isn’t heavy (as it was this night) or the fog barely there – the smaller regional flights get canceled first so that larger (and more lucrative) national and international planes can fly.

 

The even more cynical whisper: This flight probably didn’t have a large enough percentage of seats filled, so it was more economical to cancel it.

And when a flight such as this one, which was supposed to depart at 6:52 p.m., is canceled because of weather, the customer service agent merely sighs and says: No hotel, no meal vouchers, no nothing. Oh, and the next Fresno flight isn’t until 2:15 p.m. the next day.

SFO doesn’t just pick on Fresno, of course. (On this night, the Sacramento flight was canceled as well.) And other cities manage to get their licks in, too. Cancellations and delays can plague Fresno-bound travelers in Los Angeles, Denver, Dallas and Phoenix, all of which are Fresno connections for United and American flights. I’ve been stranded in all these cities at one time or another. (I don’t fly Delta, so I can’t speak personally for Salt Lake City, but I’ve talked to others who’ve been stuck there.)

But for whatever reason, SFO seems the best opportunity for a stopover in Traveler Hell. According to flightaware.com, the afternoon San Francisco-Fresno flight was canceled four times between Dec. 8 and Jan. 19. During that same period, it was more than an hour and a half late 15 times.

 

Here’s the frustrating thing: The potential for disruption has only gotten worse with the recent retirement of the smaller turboprop planes used by SkyWest, which serves Fresno under contracts with United Airlines, American Airlines, Delta Air Lines and Alaska Airlines and provides the lion’s share of flights to and from Fresno. Now it’s an all-jet fleet. As my colleague Tim Sheehan reported in December, that has meant a tradeoff for passengers: fewer options on the schedule but faster, more comfortable aircraft.

 

Before I go on, let me say that I am a fierce proponent for Fresno Yosemite International Airport. When flight schedules work, it is much easier to fly in and out of Fresno than drive to Los Angeles or the Bay Area. Yes, sometimes it costs more to do so, especially on some domestic flights, but I’ve also discovered that a Fresno fare is often in the same ballpark as flights out of the Bay Area or L.A. And not having to drive three hours each way and pay more for parking can be priceless.

IT USED TO BE THAT IF A FLIGHT WAS CANCELED OR SIGNIFICANTLY DELAYED AT LAX OR SFO, SAY, YOU HAD A CHANCE OF BEING ABLE TO GET ONTO A LATER FLIGHT. NOW THAT CHANCE IS GREATLY REDUCED.

I also think it’s important to support our airport. Good air service is a quality of life issue. If I had the ear of the aviation gods, I’d ask for even more flights – and the entrance of Southwest Airlines to the market.

But I’m very frustrated about the recent all-jet changes. It used to be that if a flight was canceled or significantly delayed at LAX or SFO, say, you had a chance of being able to get onto a later flight.

Now that chance is greatly reduced. With smaller planes, for example, there were usually three to four San Francisco-Fresno flights a day, for example. Now there are only two, at least this time of year.

And consider what it’s like now to try to book a flight out of Fresno through Los Angeles on United. There’s only one flight a day in this season at the not-so-convenient time of 1:15 p.m. So much for going through LAX to New York and arriving at a reasonable hour, or trying to get an international flight without a lengthy layover.

There are two United flights a day going from Los Angeles back to Fresno, but they’re both in the evening. If one gets canceled, guess what: You might have to wait another day to get home, unless you want to rent a car. (On a more optimistic note, United seems to be offering good options to Denver, with three daily flights from Fresno in winter and four on the timetable for summer.)

For my canceled flight last Sunday, I admit I was already a little cranky. I’d started in Athens, Greece, about 20 hours before, and after one of those slowly-dribbled-out four-hour flight delays dues to mechanical problems on my Frankfurt-San Francisco leg, thelast thing I wanted to see was my Fresno flight canceled.

Because I was connecting from an international flight, I didn’t hear about the shuttle at the gate, and the first customer rep I talked to didn’t inform me. It wasn’t until I’d asked to speak to her supervisor that I learned a Fresno ride was possible. (The lesson: Always ask about options.)

My fellow travelers were cranky, too. When the United employee showed up with a beleaguered-looking sign that said “Fresno,” asking us to follow her to one of the shuttle buses, she wasn’t exactly going to win a popularity contest.

The 12 other passengers who squeezed with me into the shuttle, one of two, weren’t in a mood to bond. The three-hour ride was sullenly quiet, except for the guy who complained about the crying baby.

All this said, I don’t want to be a total whiner. With airlines today cutting flights to boost passenger loads, air travel can be rough no matter what airport you fly from. On the plus side, I got home safely, which was the important thing. And I was thankful, actually, that the airline provided a shuttle bus for a canceled flight – something I’d never experienced before.

I don’t know if there’s an easy solution to any of this, either, unless all the people who drive from Fresno to bigger airports changed their ways, thus filling up those bigger jets and requiring more flights each day. Oh, and perhaps throwing in a new runway at SFO, too?

Still, I’m going public with my frustrations. If nothing else, it makes me feel a little better to vent. By the way, if you’re so inclined, share with me your own Fresno air travel woes by email or at www.fresnobeehive.com. I can collect them in one place – and maybe even pass them on to someone who might make a difference. And, at the very least, I’ll commiserate. Sometimes all you want to do is just get home.

Donald Munro: 559-441-6373, @donaldbeearts

Read more here: http://www.fresnobee.com/entertainment/performing-arts/donald-munro/article55899150.html#storylink=cpy

http://www.fresnobee.com/entertainment/performing-arts/donald-munro/article55899150.html

http://lostcoastoutpost.com/2014/nov/17/breaking-about-airport-rumor/

“When you have bigger airplanes, it’s so much easier to get rebooked.”

 

United Flight 5555

Operated by Skywest Airlines dba United Express

Status: Canceled due to air traffic control conditions impacting our flight operations

DEPARTS

 

ARRIVES

City: San Francisco, CA, US (SFO)
Gate: 73A
Check-in Terminal: Terminal 3, Concourse F
Scheduled Time: 4:11 p.m.
Scheduled Date: Fri., Jan. 22, 2016
Estimated Time: Canceled
Estimated Date:

City: Eureka, CA, US (ACV)
Gate: 2
Terminal:
Scheduled Time: 5:21 p.m.
Scheduled Date: Fri., Jan. 22, 2016
Estimated Time: Canceled
Estimated Date:

Aircraft and weather

Aircraft: Canadair Regional Jet 700 aircraft #N773SK

Weather conditions: SFO, ACV

 

United Flight 2519

Operated by Skywest Airlines dba United Express

Status: Delayed due to severe weather conditions in our route network (Arrived Gate 51 Minutes Late – Diverted to Medford, OR, US (MFR))

DEPARTS

 

ARRIVES

City: Medford, OR, US (MFR)
Gate:
Check-in Terminal:
Scheduled Time: 2:49 p.m.
Scheduled Date: Fri., Jan. 22, 2016
Actual Time: 2:51 p.m.
Actual Date: Fri., Jan. 22, 2016

City: Eureka, CA, US (ACV)
Gate:
Terminal:
Scheduled Time: 2:40 p.m.
Scheduled Date: Fri., Jan. 22, 2016
Actual Time: 3:31 p.m.
Actual Date: Fri., Jan. 22, 2016

Aircraft and weather

Aircraft: Canadair Regional Jet 700 aircraft #N773SK

Weather conditions: MFR, ACV

 

Aviation News

A lot of hoopla was generated to welcome the “new” service at ACV yesterday (jet vs prop, bigger planes) but the Country’s Aviation Advisory Committee couldn’t come up with a quorum for its November 24th meeting. A number of important items were listed on the agenda for that day, including “Nominations and elections of HCAAC Board Members” and the annual presentation /status report to the Supervisors.  An additional meeting of the HCAAC has been scheduled for Dec 15, apparently to deal with that. It was mentioned during the non-meeting that the airport will be issuing a press release around Christmas to address drone registration and assistance  available from ACV and from the FAA.

Meanwhile the folks in Redding have added a new daily flight to SFO, the story HERE.  
Redding now has three flights daily to SFO, just like we do.   It is clear that community support is very, very important in luring air service to Humboldt.

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Train Nuts, Morons, and Our Wack Harbor Election

Well, our sleepy little Harbor District is stealing all the attention in the upcoming November election.  As a First District resident,  I didn’t even get a ballot since the two doofuses who were supposed to run and were too incompetent to turn in their signatures left the field to Larry Doss who gets the job unopposed. Disgraceful!

So the action is all in the Second and Fifth Districts, and might be summarized as Higgins and Dale vs. Rotwein and Angeloff. There have been many strange issues and red herrings brought up in these races and very little clarity. Greg Dale either DOES or DOES NOT have a conflict of interest.  The Harbor District DOES or DOES NOT owe millions of dollars to the EPA. It IS binary!

Leo/Hank: One of the mini-issues has been Leo Sears’ shyness about being named a rail supporter  by Hank Sims of LOCO. Hank, of course, is famous for having labelled rail supporters “morons” in a discussion about restoring the North/South, or Eel River route.  I remain  proudly one of those “morons”  and I believe that restoring rail traffic to Marin would be a reasonable investment in our infrastructure, considering  it could be done for half a billion and would result in a world-class tourist attraction if done right and properly integrated with trails. On the other hand,  the East-West rail line being promoted by Angeloff  is lunacy.  It would cost at least a billion, have no tourist potential and have nothing to haul that doesn’t already have more efficient ways to get to market.

I cannot stress too strongly the difference between the two rail routes. East-West is a joke; North-South a noble endeavor.    No one who has ever personally ridden the train through the Eel River Valley is opposed to opening it up again.  No one. Yes, it will be expensive and will require more environmental safeguards than before but we would end up with a world -class tourist attraction which would attract folks who don’t necessarily enjoy backpacking.

 I was for several years a member of an amorphous group called the  Committee for Port/Rail Development.  At least I think that’s what they were called.  I have no written records of them although I must have attended several dozen of their monthly lunches at the Cookhouse.  Kaye Strickland was the wonderful lady who ran those lunches. I’m almost positive that’s where I met Leo. The group was not only amorphous-it was pretty much chaotic.  I don’t think they kept any attendance figures nor was any money collected.  Every once in a while Charles Ollivier would stand up and give an impassioned oration. There was a lot of discussion but nothing ever HAPPENED. Out of frustration, Mark Matteoli and some other guys started a committee called RAPIT but it was pretty short-lived. If you stroll into one of the monthly lunches being held by the “Humboldt Bay Harbor Working  Group” that evolved out of the 2012 Prosperity campaign,  you might think you’re in a time warp.  About 80% of the HBHWG were also involved in the CPD. More disclosure: I bailed from the Prosperity effort when we got to the point of recommending a full study of the East-West rail option. I didn’t think East/West would fly and I thought that would be the end of it.  Silly me! The CPR-backed Rotwein and Angeloff campaigns are pushing East/West as a route for moving their chesnuts or cherries or something.   If I’m a moron, these guys are lunatics.

A delicious complication appears to be on the horizon: Leo has taken out a Fictitious Business Name Statement in the Mad River Union announcing the establishment of something called “Economic Growth and Stability” located at TWO addresses in Eureka, which seems like a typo. The nicer house is located in the heart of Henderson Center and sports a huge Rex Bohn poster in the hedge. All roads led to Rex, apparently. So what’s Leo up to?  We could call and ask but what would be the fun in that? Stay tuned.

When I get around to having my “MORON AND PROUD” t-shirts printed up, I’ll let you know.  Meanwhile, the Times-Standard ran my letter the other day in which I advocate voting for Greg Dale and Pat Higgins. Wish I could vote!I

Letter to the Times-Standard, “Vote for Greg Dale and Pat Higgins”

The current Harbor Commission has, by and large, done a fine job in getting the District’s finances under control and setting a new course in the post-pulp mill era. The incumbents who are running for re-election, Greg Dale and Pat Higgins, deserve your vote. They bring experience and dedication. Their challengers bring flimflam and half-truths. The choice is clear. Vote for Pat Higgins and Greg Dale on November 3!

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Tidbits & Gossip

A FOB (Friend of the Blog) advised us that Grocery Outlet is opening at Strong’s Plaza in Fortuna. GO confirms this and says they’re already pouring concrete in Fortuna. Different owners for Fortuna, however.

We learn from the Coos Bay World that service to Denver , yes, Denver, will continue through the summer. I find this somewhat amazing.

Finally, the SBDC will offer their excellent training for artisans and craftspeople with their programs “Making Your Business Ready for Online Sales”.    Click there for enrollment forms and good luck!

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Airport News- Medford Is BUSY, Eugene’s Adding Service

While our ACV struggles to maintain a four-flights-a-day schedule, the Medford airport is jammed. A Friend of the Blog turned us onto this story from the Medford Mail Tribune . Medford is handling 19 departures a day to ACV’s four and passenger traffic is at an all-time high.

Eugene too! The excellent article also points out that “Eugene’s Mahlon Sweet Airport has announced expanded service, with a daily flight to San Jose by Alaska Air Group’s Horizon unit, a Southwest Airlines flight to Dallas and five flights per week to Beijing by Hainan Airlines.”  (One-stop in San Jose). Yes, Beijing.  Whee!

I mentioned the Eugene flights to a Chinese friend who commented that due to the economic expansion in China there are direct or one-stop flights to China now from American locations that would have been unthinkable until recently.  Like Eugene. 

Our Friend also points out that the departure of Avis R/A/C from our ACV has been accomplished and Avis didn’t mind paying $9K to get out of its contract.  A windfall!  Not exactly, but it will cover the cost of trimming a few trees.

The invaluable Mad River Union has a story today about the Grand Jury recommendations re: ACV.  The piece is not online but contains the following startling statistic: “Between 2007 and 2013, McKinleyville enplanements plunged to 56,682 from 105,969, costing vital federal dollars, which are apportioned by a formula linked to the number of annual enplanements.”

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We’re Gonna Have a BOAT PARADE!!!

The Greater Eureka Chamber announces in its newsletter that on Saturday, July 11 a Lighted Boat Parade will be held in conjunction with the American Cancer Society Relay for Life.  “The Lighted Boat Parade will showcase beautifully decorated boats of all sizes adorned with a dazzling array of lights and sounds, circling the Bay from the Eureka Public Marina to Halvorsen Park beginning at 8:30 PM.”

The City of Eureka,  Eureka Main Street,  the Humboldt Bay Maritime Museum,  the M/V Madaket, and the Humboldt Bay Aquatic Center have joined forces with the Chamber to coordinate this event.

We haven’t had a parade like this in years, or if we did, I missed it.  The last time we  were supposed to have a boat parade I and several other cars full of folks drove around the Adorni Parking lot looking in vain for a parade. This time it’s for real!

“To participate in the boat parade, please contact Amanda at Eureka Main Street at 442-9054.” 

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Have Kids? Take Them to ACV June 9th.

In a local version of the Harmonic Convergence, our still NOT renamed airport will host BOTH the Wings of Freedom air meeting AND the Goodyear blimp on Tuesday June 9.  The Wings of Freedom event offers a chance to tour vintage Word War II aircraft,  and the blimp!! Well, what can you say about the blimp other than that it is the most recognizable American icon, apart from the Statue of Liberty. 

The festivities actually start on the 8th and the exact date of the blimps’ arrival is unclear (it takes several days to get here from Long Beach) .  Check the papers or  the Fly Humboldt Facebook page for updates.

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