New CHSRA San Gabriel Tunnel Animations

Sep 20th, 2016 | Posted by

The California High Speed Rail Authority has published new animations of the three possible routes from Palmdale to Burbank. All three involve significant tunneling under the San Gabriel Mountains. The main difference is in whether the tunnel goes under Pacoima, or goes further to the east through Sunland-Tujunga (with an aerial structure in the middle).

From west to east, we start with the SR 14 alignment:

The E1 alignment:

And the E2 alignment:

The Authority continues to examine these options for getting the bullet trains from the Antelope Valley to LA.

Nearly Half of Expo Line Riders Came From Cars

Sep 14th, 2016 | Posted by

Expo Line at La Cienega

Metro released survey findings of riders on the new Expo Line phase serving Santa Monica – and found that nearly half ditched their cars for the train:

More than two-thirds of riders on the recently opened Expo Line Phase II to Santa Monica are new to the train line and more than 40 percent of them switched to transit from driving alone, according to a survey released this week by the Metropolitan Transportation Authority….

Metro surveyed about 1,000 riders at the Expo Line’s seven new stations and found 70 percent of them were new to the Expo Line. Of the new riders, nearly half used to drive alone while 23 percent had switched from bus service.

This shouldn’t surprise anyone, unless it’s news to you that people despise traffic on the 10 with an undying passion. But this is also similar to what happened in Spain when the AVE high speed rail line first opened. Many of its passengers switched from driving as well.

Opponents of rail projects underestimate how much people hate sitting in traffic. When they’re given a better option – one that is fast and convenient – they’ll take it. The Expo Line is now so popular that there aren’t enough trainsets to meet demand.

As someone who has driven on Interstate 5 between SF and LA more times than I can count, including sitting in traffic in the middle of the Central Valley that was so bad that it took nearly 9 hours to complete the trip, I can say with certainty that there will be huge demand for a train that can make that trip in half the usual travel time.

If you build it, they will ride.

Saturday Open Thread

Sep 10th, 2016 | Posted by

Apologies for the long delay in September posts! More topical posts to come next week.

In the meantime, enjoy this video of Shinkansen trains. My 2-year old son loves watching train videos on YouTube and this is one of his favorites (I swear I’m not brainwashing him, he genuinely loves trains and especially HSR!):

Legislature and Governor Reach Cap-and-Trade Funding Deal

Aug 31st, 2016 | Posted by

This isn’t the deal to extend cap-and-trade, but it may help achieve it: Governor Jerry Brown and legislative leaders reached a deal on how to spend $900 million in cap-and-trade revenues. From the governor’s office comes this list:

-$368 million to the Air Resources Board, including:
-$133 million to the Clean Vehicle Rebate Program.
-$80 million to the Enhanced Fleet Modernization Program, Plus-Up Pilot Project and up to $20 million of this amount may be used for other light-duty equity pilot projects.
-$150 million for heavy-duty vehicles and off-road equipment investments.
-$5 million for black carbon wood smoke programs.

–$140 million to the Office of Planning and Research for the Strategic Growth Council to provide transformative climate communities grants.

–$135 million to the Transportation Agency for the Transit and Intercity Rail Program.

–$80 million to the Natural Resources Agency for the Urban Greening program.

–$65 million to the Department of Food and Agriculture, including:
-$50 million for the early and extra methane emissions reductions from dairy and livestock operations.
-$7.5 million for the Healthy Soils Program.
-$7.5 for the State Water Efficiency and Enhancement Program (SWEEP).

–$40 million to the Department of Forestry and Fire Protection, including:
-$25 million for the Healthy Forest Program.
-$15 million for urban forestry programs.

–$40 million to the Department of Resources Recycling and Recovery for waste diversion and greenhouse gas reduction financial assistance.

–$20 million to the Department of Community Services and Development for weatherization and renewable energy projects.

–$10 million to the Department of Transportation for the Active Transportation Program.

–$2 million to the Office of Planning and Research for the Strategic Growth Council to provide technical assistance to disadvantaged communities.

And that’s on top of existing funds, including the HSR funds. While this doesn’t extend cap-and-trade, one of the obstacles to a legislative extension was a debate about how to spend it. Hopefully this helps keep the program alive.