Traffic Jammin’ with Janis Mara – Every Monday at 2pm on Claycord.com.
TRAFFIC JAMMER: Greetings, all! This Claycord.com column is for everyone who negotiates the highways and public transit of the Bay Area. It runs every Monday at 2pm and answers your commuting and transportation questions.
Email your questions to email@example.com.
COMMUTER: About two weeks ago, I saw on Treat Boulevard a portable smog check. The shoulder was coned off, and cars were stopped to have a smog check. My question is, do I have to stop, or can I refuse to have it done?
–Slogging Past Smog
TRAFFIC JAMMER: SPS, we are in luck. A Claycordian police officer was kind enough to help the Jammer out with the answer to your question. Here’s what he found out:
The portable smog check is totally voluntary. A California Highway Patrol officer is usually on scene to facilitate the process and help not freak motorists out. The officer explains that it is voluntary and only lasts 10-15 minutes.
Although there is a “smog check” reference, the program is run by one of the state agencies concerned with air quality, rather than the Department of Motor Vehicles or CHP.
TRAFFIC JAMMER: While we’re on the subject of this helpful local police officer: The officer also had a bit of fine-tuning for the Jammer’s answer to the following question that ran last week:
COMMUTER: I was in a hurry and drove over the speed limit on Highway 4, something I’ve seen people do hundreds of times without getting caught. But I was pulled over and the officer wrote me up. I have never had a ticket. How do I get set up with traffic school so it doesn’t go on my record?
–Too Old for a Ticket
TRAFFIC JAMMER: The Jammer explained that the ticket will probably run around $350 (ouch!) or more, but that TOFAT can take traffic school to mask the ticket. She also said TOFAT could expect to get a letter in the mail telling him how to proceed. Here’s the officer’s friendly amendment:
Although it is customary in Contra Costa County for the Court to send a “Courtesy Notice” with the information you indicate, it is not required and not universal. It is exactly that: a courtesy.
Now, the same information may be obtained at the Court via the Court Clerk and/ or during arraignment, but the violator is obligated to appear in court at the date indicated on the ticket (unless the aforementioned notice changes that date and only if the violator receives such a notice).
COMMUTER: When on BART, a wifi network called wifi_rail comes up. My device connects to the network but the Internet never works. Does BART have free wifi or not?
TRAFFIC JAMMER: That’s a really excellent question, WW. The Jammer ran it by Alicia Trost, BART’s communications manager, and she answered swiftly and in detail. Her Jammerness knows how much her beloved Claycordians like detail, so I am presenting her thorough answer in its entirety:
Yes, BART has free wifi but you get what you pay for and you can’t get it everywhere. Here’s why:..
BART contracts out wifi service through a company called WiFi Rail. The vendor has had trouble coming up with the capital to fulfill the contract, resulting in spotty service.
Not all trains and stations are equipped. The current system is operational in 12 stations from Balboa Park to 19th Street and Lake Merritt, plus along trackway. Signals are up along this route but not every train car has hot spots. 59 control cars, situated at the front, end and middle of 10 car trains have hot spots (out of a fleet of 669).
There is currently no charge to customers to use the service but the vendor has always intended to either add advertisements or charge subscription fees customers. As Wi-Fi rail identifies funds they will install more signals throughout the entire system.
However there will soon be some improvement. In January, the Board approved a separate contract that would purchase 100 on-board communication devices paid for by federal security grants which will enhance security on the system as well as make the train car a wireless hotspot.
It will deliver stable wifi service. Total hot spots when the project is complete will be 309 cars (out of 669). Adding these units will extend Wi-Fi service to Concord and North Berkeley, and potentially the Coliseum station.
TRAFFIC JAMMER: That’s it for this week – see you next Monday. Be sure to cruise by Claycord.com at 2pm for more traffic intelligence. Remember, whether you drive, walk, bike or hop Amtrak, BART or AC Transit, Traffic Jammer Janis Mara is here to answer your questions.
Send your questions to firstname.lastname@example.org.