2010: The Year Ahead In California HSR

Dec 31st, 2009 | Posted by

On Tuesday we looked at the year in review – what we learned about HSR in 2009. Now, on the last day of the year, it’s time to look ahead to what are likely to be the main issues, stories, and events regarding California high speed rail in 2010.

Return of the HSR supporters. If 2009 was the year the status quo struck back, 2010 will be the year high speed rail supporters take their activism to a new level. Californians For High Speed Rail will relaunch early in the new year, providing a statewide organizing hub for project supporters. On the Peninsula, labor unions and business groups came together late this year to form the Alliance for Sustainable Transit and Jobs, in order to help mobilize the considerable yet so far overlooked support for HSR in San Mateo County. At the state level, three groups that are usually at each other’s throats – the California Chamber of Commerce, the California Labor Federation, and the Sierra Club of California – have joined forces to support HSR.

This activism is just getting underway. Coming into 2009 a lot of those groups knew that there would be continued support necessary for HSR, but may have underestimated the need for persistent advocacy and organizing work to ensure that a very small minority of people can’t overturn the will of the voters as determined by the passage of Prop 1A.

2010 will see public events, private lobbying, and ongoing organizing work to give voice to those voters and project supporters. It’s not going to be uncritical support of everything the CHSRA does, but it’s time that Californians were reminded of why they voted for HSR, and why it is a project that is absolutely necessary to our state’s economic, environmental, and energy future.

There’s work to be done in cities along the route, shoring up support in the state legislature, and ensuring long-term federal support from Congress. In 2010 HSR supporters will make their voices heard in all three locations.

Federal funding brings HSR to life. Prop 1A’s passage made the state, the nation, and even the world take notice that true HSR was finally coming to the United States, and that California’s long-planned project really was going to happen. But when the FRA announces its HSR stimulus funding awards in January, it will bring California HSR to life, showing state and local officials that yes, HSR will be built in California and yes, the federal government is committed to making it happen.

My own prediction is that California will get around $3.4 billion, to construct segments from Merced to Bakersfield and LA to Anaheim. I would be pleased but surprised if SF-San José was included.

The news will produce a new round of pro-HSR sentiment across the state, which will put wind in the sails of the renewed HSR support activism.

Project design decisions are made, and the real battles begin. Despite the intensity of some of the battles over HSR fought in 2009, those were moderated by the fact that all possibilities were still technically on the table. The Peninsula could still dream of a long tunnel serving every city in San Mateo County. In 2010, however, decisions will start being made about how exactly HSR will be built, and that’s when the truly contentious battles will begin. No matter route or grade separation method is chosen, someone will be upset, and some of them will take that anger to the courts to try and slow or stop the project, others will try and undermine the project in public.

It’s important that these decisions be made as transparently and as fairly as possible, with an eye to building an effective system that doesn’t break the budget. I’m sure I’ll personally disagree with some of these decisions myself, but I’ll act on those disagreements in a way that doesn’t undermine the project as a whole. Let’s hope others do as well.

The role of private investors will be a major issue. It only came up towards the end of the year in the new business plan, but Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger’s constant push to maximize private involvement in infrastructure will become a prominent issue in 2010 as it relates to high speed rail. Although the media framed the higher fares as a done deal, that’s more a function of most journalists in this state not really knowing what they’re talking about when it comes to high speed rail. HSR supporters will take issue with Schwarzenegger’s push to use a lot of private investment in the system, advocating for such investment to be capped at 25% of the overall construction cost and ensuring that any risk is borne by the investors and not by taxpayers (in other words, if California HSR somehow fails to generate revenue even though every single other HSR system has been able to do it, the investors shouldn’t get bailed out by you and me).

HSR becomes an issue in the gubernatorial race. California will finally get to wave goodbye to the Worst Governor Ever, Arnold Schwarzenegger, and elect his replacement. The Democratic Party will nominate former governor Jerry Brown (exempt from term limits, as are all governors still living who served before 1990), who in 1982 passed the state’s first high speed rail law, a project that was short-lived but included Quentin Kopp and Mehdi Morshed as important figures. Brown has become more centrist and even conservative in some ways over the last 30 years, but he should be a reliable supporter of the project.

It’s less clear where the Republican candidates – Meg Whitman, Steve Poizner, and Tom Campbell stand, but given their shared hostility to government spending, it seems likely that all of them will be HSR skeptics. Poizner, who is closest ideologically to the right-wingers at the Reason Foundation, is the most likely to embrace outright HSR denialism, and Whitman could embrace some of it as well if she felt it served her needs.

Jerry Brown would do well to show himself as a longtime champion of high speed rail, proving to a new generation of voters – people like myself who were born during his first time as our governor – that he has the vision to lead this state into a new era. In any case, I fully expect HSR to become an issue in the gubernatorial race, even if it’s not in the top 5.

The state legislature becomes more active on HSR. Whether this is a good thing remains to be seen, given how few legislators understand or care about HSR, and given that term limits have destroyed long-term thinking in the Capitol. But my guess is that the combination of the defenders of the status quo as well as HSR advocates will be putting enough pressure on legislators to ensure that the legislature takes a much closer look at the project.

Some of that will reveal itself in deeply hypocritical scolding from legislators – any legislator who chides the CHSRA about its finances should be laughed out of the room – but it will also reveal itself in legislation. I fully expect the concept of creating a “Department of Rail” to absorb the CHSRA to be revisited, along with other governance reforms.

It would be nice if legislators realized that they have a stake in helping ensure jobs come back to California and that HSR is one of the only things out there offering a large number of jobs, but I’m not yet holding my breath. Showing the legislature the stimulative value of HSR will be one of the main priorities of supporters in the new year.

Feel free to add your thoughts in the comments. Before you do, though, I want to thank all of you who read this blog, who comment on this blog, and who have helped make it a success for the second year in a row. Have a happy new year, everyone!

  1. Alex2000
    Dec 31st, 2009 at 10:21
    #1

    Yes this will be a big year for HSR. Anyone know if the federal Transportation bill will be taken up this year? Last I heard the WH was trying to push it back past 2010. That could be key, since there was talk of even more HSR funds coming from that bill.

    Bit of a cheap shot at Schwarzenegger. I don’t think a lot of the problems can be laid at his door. It has become a bit of a cliché, but it is true: California’s constitution is broken. There needs to be a constitutional convention. Off topic but I’ll throw this out here: How about a parliamentary style system (A la the UK, Canada, Australia etc). Elections every 4 or 5 years, a figurehead governor, a Prime Minister, and a government that can actually, you know, govern.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    It was proposed a while ago – I forget by who and why it failed, but there was a serious plan to move California from a gubernatorial system to a parliamentary system.

    Joey Reply:

    “government that can actually, you know, govern”

    I was unaware that there was such at thing…

    Bungle Reply:

    sorry but open up the constitution, and the crazzyes from all over the country will descend on us like locust.. we would have every teabagger in the country sending there money nostop TV adds.. no thank you…

    Brandon from San Diego Reply:

    benevolent dictator… that is what we needed.

    wu ming Reply:

    everyone assumes they’re the dictator…

    Alex2000 Reply:

    no.. just a Cincinnatus rather than a Sulla.

  2. jimsf
    Dec 31st, 2009 at 11:02
    #2

    They need to fund sf-sj to get rid of this prob once and for all

    Joey Reply:

    Link fail. But true. If they’re looking at corridors which would be useful in the short term, before the entire HSR line is built, SF-SJ fits the bill much more than that stupid LA-Anaheim thing.

    Joey Reply:

    Link fail. But true. If they’re looking to fund corridors which will be useful in the short term, before the entire HSR line is complete, SF-SJ fits the bill much more than that HSR-exclusive LA-Anaheim thing.

  3. jimsf
    Dec 31st, 2009 at 11:11
    #3
  4. jimsf
    Dec 31st, 2009 at 11:18
    #4

    Once could suggest breaking up the caltrans monopoly on transportation and going back to something like separate depts, department of roads and bridges, department of rail, etc. I think its politically impossible to do that though.

    but I do think that chsra should fold into the existing division of rail.

    Brandon from San Diego Reply:

    Caltrans has no monopoly on transportation. State influence on transportation matters has substantially declined over the past 20 years. 1991 passage of ISTEA assisted in that change.

    Now, much greater influence is seen at the regional level… with agencies like the Metropolitan Transportation Commission in the SF Bay area… or the Los Angeles County Transportation Authority in LA area… or SANDAG in San Diego… or OCTA in Orange County. The regional influence is seen in the diverse approach to solving transportation and environmental problems. As we know…. SF and LA are trending to mass transit to address challenges while Orange and San Diego counties continue to support Detroit, the ‘asphalt lobby’, the Middle East, and faith based organizations pimping the ‘god will save us’ zombie chant.

  5. synonymouse
    Dec 31st, 2009 at 12:25
    #5

    “…if California HSR somehow fails to generate revenue…’

    What an admission. The value of the private investors lies not so much in their money but their savvy. The current hsr route has been gerrymandered and will require subsidy. It is possible that no hsr in California could be profitable, but the Grapevine has better prospects because it could be tweaked to be a half-hour faster LA to SF.

    The prospect of permanent government subsidy will trouble economists but not politicians, not even the right-wing. The conservatives are supported by the rich and the corporations, who stand to make money from the hsr, provided the project is paid for, as usual, by the ordinary people – the middle and lower classes.

    The real problem for the hsr and all mega-projects would be severe economic turmoil. The US probably is in another bubble economy and China definitely. Who can predict when it will break, but it will.

    Keynesian pump-priming may not be the panacea of yore. Societal values have changed profoundly since the thirties. We live in an era of “personal autonomy”, read personal licence. People think nothing of multiple, successive bankruptcies. When Keynes was alive that behavior would have been considered shameful. Gigantic government debt could cause a dreastic loss of confidence in currenceies. That’s probably why gold has been inflating.

    Eventually you will have to tax the rich and corporations to pay to maintain the hsr. That’s when the situation will get ugly politically.

    dejv Reply:

    synonymouse :
    “…if California HSR somehow fails to generate revenue…’
    What an admission. The value of the private investors lies not so much in their money but their savvy. The current hsr route has been gerrymandered and will require subsidy. It is possible that no hsr in California could be profitable, but the Grapevine has better prospects because it could be tweaked to be a half-hour faster LA to SF.

    Somebody can admit that he isn’t God to know the future for sure.

    “The current hsr route” will require subsidy if it is expected to pay its capital costs quickly (like Taiwan HSR) or system expansion (like former JNR or ongoing SNCF vs. RFF trouble).

    Regarding detours: keep in mind that they don’t inflate travel times nearly as much as slow zones. Making Grapevine alignment straigt enough to make it significantly faster than Palmdale route would result to big cost escalation. Another issue with your idea is that it gives up half million potential passengers in Palmdale and Bakersfield and another 800k in their metro areas without balancing that losses with increased demand from the rest of journey.

    synonymouse Reply:

    The passenger potential of the San Joaquin Valley is being way overstated. Low income people with large families are going to travel to LA by car because it will still be much cheaper. And as it is Bakersfield and Fresno to LA would apparently still be faster via a branch to the I-5-Grapevine main than thru the Tehachapis. Sacramento is the most valuable market in the Central Valley and it is being given afterthought status. Sac should be considered as part of the Greater Bay Area. From the northern part of the Bay Area it is as close to Sacramento as San Jose.

    The hsr as currently conceived is a welfare state project. Unfortunately California’s financial practices more resemble Imperial Rome than contemporary Sweden. In Rome the higher up on the caste ladder the less you contributed to the state. Slaves paid for most everything. In Sweden taxes are high, but everybody pays. In California thanks to Reaganism the lower classes carry the burden. You can just count on it that Bechtel,Balfour-Beatty will figure out a manoeuvre to pay next to nothing in taxes. In China, on the other hand, the government controls the money, not corporations. A totally different situation.

    The hsr is fated to become a big BART, with low passenger counts and all sorts of excess capacity on peripheral lines(read Tehachapis)

    jimsf Reply:

    synonymouse. you don’t know what you are talking about. you just don’t.

    Caelestor Reply:

    Considering how oil prices are trending, I highly doubt it will be cheaper to drive the car.
    HSR has also an extra benefit: time and convenience. A 3-hour trip on the train is half the time of the car, and the ability to move around is far more convenient than the crowdedness of the airplane.

    jimsf Reply:

    Low income families with large families are who I sell tickets too everyday.

    dejv Reply:

    > Low income people with large families are going to travel to LA by car because it will still be much cheaper.

    That doesn’t matter. Because all-family trips aren’t usually work-related in areas where public transport is usable means of travel while most of trips are work- or school-related. Look at your own life patterns, if your work ain’t at walking distance at home or within walking distance from your home or you aren’t retired or unemployed, most of your trips are commutes or other work-related travels.

    It does matter if the system is attractive enough for trips related to work in all scales. From day-to-day short-haul commuter (e.g. Palmdale-LA) to weekly commutes (university students and seasonal workers) to random bussiness travels. The system should pefrorm fine just because it follows path through population centers while keeping end-to-end times faster than air (if you add time that it takes to go to airport and from airport).

    Regarding Sacramento: an initial investment like this should go first for the line with most bang for buck. That means LA-SF line through population centers if there is way that won’t slow down expresses going through those towns. Packing this with southern extension seems to me as a political game of mayor and chairman in one person.

    An alignment over Grapevine would make sense in one very specific case: that the initial route through Soledad and Tehachapis would be that congested that it couldn’t carry additional traffic even with bi-level trainsets. Experience from Eurostar and its Lille detour (20 minutes, just like Palmdale-Bakersfield one with shorter overall travel times, making bigger relative time loss) suggests that this won’t be necessary for a quite long time.

    In China AFAIK, government pays nothing but infrastructure, police and army, forcing people to save money for everything including healthcare and retirements.

    CA HSR will be fated to become a big BART if it embraces your fear of turnouts and therefore running every train as everywhere-stopping one.

    Caelestor Reply:

    There has also been talk of perhaps connecting the system with LV in the future via Palmdale. The comparison to Lille is interesting.

  6. Bobierto
    Dec 31st, 2009 at 12:58
    #6

    Interesting, I have often wished for the impossible – that the US could move to a parliamentary model – but it have never occurred to me to implement it at the state level. That combined with abolishment of term limits and the 2/3 rule for tax increases, and making it much harder to pass referenda, and I would never ask for another Christmas present again …

    Alex2000 Reply:

    There is a movement for a constitutional convention for California. A lot of big names are supporting the campaign. As for would kind of government would emerge from the convention, who knows… But if it gets enough support, why not a parliamentary type system for California? Anything is possible at this point.

  7. Bobierto
    Dec 31st, 2009 at 12:59
    #7

    @Bobierto
    This was supposed to be a reply to Alex2000 above – still getting the hang of the new paradigm here …

  8. Bobierto
    Dec 31st, 2009 at 13:03
    #8

    @jimsf Seems to me the natural corporate partner is an airline – as air travel continues to become less safe and less reliable, and more inconvient, with ever more ridiculous security theatre … the airlines diversifying their risk and investing in the next big thing just seems to make sense. But I’m not a shareholder in an airline so my opinion doesn’t matter …

    Bobierto Reply:

    Why aren’t my replies showing as replies???

    Bobierto Reply:

    Aha.

  9. jimsf
    Dec 31st, 2009 at 13:15
    #9

    What are the milestones we are looking for this year? All this speculating and second guessing is pointless.

    I guess the first one is the 400 million in arra funds. that gets announced when? feb?
    Then what.oh yeah, our portion of the 8 billion. on what date do we find out that?
    Then what? does any construction start this year? on any thing?

    Jack Reply:

    I don’t think any dirt will be turned this year. ARRA funds should be announced early January.

    jim Reply:

    No. No construction this year. NEPA/CEQA stuff all year. There may be some NEPA/CEQA documents released on LA-Anaheim by the end of the year. There’s a bunch of segments are supposed to complete NEPA/CEQA next year: LA-Anaheim in March next year, a whole bunch in the fall. If there’s some federal money by then, dirt can be turned in 2011.

    The news on the $8B is later this month, as far as I can tell. But I wouldn’t put as much stress on it as Robert does. CA needs much more federal money than it can get from the $8B, whether the three and a half $B that Robert optimistically hopes for or something less. The important Washington action for CAHSR is the Surface Transportation Reauthorization that’s still hung up in Oberstar’s committee while they try to find a funding source.

    jimsf Reply:

    Well they should at least put up some billboards along the 99 or something. something. anything tangible besides these god awful studies and reports.

  10. Spokker
    Jan 1st, 2010 at 00:08
    #10

    TUNNEL OR NOTHING. HSR OVER MY DEAD BODY.

    Sorry, I just wanted the first NIMBY comment of 2010!

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    don’t worry the tunnels will be under your dead body if there ever are tunnels.

  11. Clem
    Jan 1st, 2010 at 09:10
    #11

    @jimsf
    The 400 million for Transbay comes from the same pot of 8 billion for high-speed rail. It isn’t a separate funding source, which is why you’ve got the two pigs fighting at the trough.

    jimsf Reply:

    oooooohhh, I thought the 400 mil was ARRA and the 8 bil was some other source. hmm. I can’t keep track with all the acronyms floating around.
    Im still confused. Isn’t there a list.

  12. Cynthia Ward
    Jan 1st, 2010 at 09:28
    #12

    Ah Spokker, you stole my line.

    Building on some earlier posts. I would like to share some background that puts Anaheim’s project into perspective.

    Elizabeth was correct in that Curt Pringle is termed out as Mayor of Anaheim in 2010, after 2 terms of doing a magnificent job for us. It pains me to be opposed to something he is doing, while we do not always agree on all points, overall he has been a good Mayor, and I believe he tries to do the right thing. Despite leaving office, Curt will still get his own way around here, as he is running his best friend, Tom Tait, for Mayor. Just to be sure that incumbent Councilmember Lucille Kring does not fulfill her lifelong wish to be Mayor, Curt kicked off Tom’s campaign with a luncheon at the White House Restaurant, where they raised $190,000. Yep, that is for ONE lunch. http://www.redcounty.com/anaheim-mayor-candidate-tom-tait-holds-monster-kick-fundraiser-0 That is OK with me, Lucille has proven a terrible leader. Yes, I said that in public.

    Keep in mind I hear $33k of that was Tom’s to begin with, and goodness knows he can afford more. Pringle also has his own PAC, run by friends, whose intent is to elect candidates who will continue the “Freedom Friendly” government he set up in Anaheim. http://www.redcounty.com/orange-county/2008/08/if-there-was-ever-any/ So whether Curt is in the seat or not is irrelevant, he will be running Anaheim by remote control. (Go ahead, make the joke about RC trains, we do)

    It is clear that Curt is going to get whatever Curt wants, he has become one of the most powerful men in California, and he is rumored to have raised more money for himself and others than any other politician in Orange County history. My only comfort is knowing that he has tried to do right by Anaheim in the past, and I have to trust that he will use that influence to do the right thing now. But I also understand there is a conflict in what he can do as Mayor and what he can do as Chair, and it does bug me a bit. If the best thing for HSR is At Grade, and the best thing for Anaheim ends up being a tunnel, which is he committed to? Which can he talk Tom Tait into? Legally he cannot even make that decision yet. So while I am no match for him, I am committed to making sure that he (and you) can base decisions on accurate information about what is proposed, and right now, none of you have accurate information. The consultants clearly did a botched job of the Alternative Analysis, and public input has been dismal. Does it make me a NIMBY to demand complete information before a decision is made?

    Certainly Pringle is new to the Chairmanship, and I understand he is trying to get a handle on what has, and has not, been done by consultants under the previous leadership. But in the meantime, the project continues to march along with a ticking time clock, despite the fact that the public, and the property owners affected, are still in the dark on this. Elizabeth is correct that there have not been meetings with the people of Anaheim since the Scoping meetings were conducted in 2007, and those were badly attended due to a misunderstanding from most residents about the nature of HSR. Everyone thought it was the MagLev to Las Vegas, which clearly was not going to be built, and they thought the meetings were a waste of time. Of the few who did attend, they were told the plan was to remain in the existing ROW, with no takes or impacts. So to see how much is intended for the bulldozer, when we are just now getting a public meeting to disclose this information, makes some of us leery of trusting the Authority.

    The Alternatives Analysis describes the area that currently holds the Brookfield project, as it appeared at the time of the study, when it was the old Kwikset Locks factory. The Analysis states that the At Grade would make the site a take. I have to question how much contact the consultants initiated, since the site has long been slated for development, and it was already owned by the CIty of Anaheim’s Redevelopment Agency! How much homework did they really do to not know about a plan that was on the books for many years?

    The first portion of that development is complete and fully occupied, http://www.livecolonypark.com/index.html and the next phase is under construction, having been approved AFTER the release of the Alternatives Analysis. So there certainly appears to be a breakdown in communication between the consultants for HSR and the City they are playing with on paper.
    For those who say that you take a chance in buying something close to the tracks, wouldn’t it be reasonable to assume that if you are buying a newly constructed home, financed by the City, that they would tell you if something was going to affect your immediate use of the property they just built for you? By the same token, the SFR homes on Pauline were also recently built by RDA, and it appears at least one if not two are total takes, the remaining homes lose what little yard they do have, and a tot lot used by all in an area devoid of green space will be lost. These people do not know they are even on the map for this.

    It is clear that the HSRA consultants who created the entirely inadequate review of properties in the Alternatives Analysis did little to no contact or interface with the City of Anaheim itself, and that is just basic research. I can also promise you they did not communicate with the Anaheim Historical Society for information regarding the impacts to historic properties, and they mislabeled the boundaries of our historic districts, as well as omitting the historic character of the YMCA Train Station.

    I can drive a truck through their report, and that does not make me a NIMBY, it just makes me a concerned citizen who wants to be sure that decisions are based on accurate information, while ensuring that the HSRA follows the law under CEQA.

    I spent yesterday documenting the properties listed in the Alternatives Analysis, and photographing them, which I will turn into a blog post at home soon. The Alternatives Analysis does not even list the properties by address, which is shortsighted and makes public notification of affected property owners problematic, but I got the information, and it is interesting to see how badly the consultants misrepresent the properties they list as takes. If an At Grade decision is made for Anaheim based on this report, there will be Hell to pay, and lawsuits to file. While we may very well get stuck with that Alternative, I need to know it is based on real information, not the assumptions of elitists up north who have never seen anything of Anaheim beyond Disneyland. I would very much like to see Mayor Pringle tell HSRA Chair Pringle to stop the clock on this project until the documentation is corrected. While I do not currently speak for The Anaheim Historical Society in this post, I can tell you that the Society is working on a letter to that effect, and other community groups are sure to follow. I am sorry, but your timelines are not more important than the impact to any one community, no matter how small, inconsequential, or blighted you might think we are.

    Happy New Year to all.

    Brandon from San Diego Reply:

    Quantity is no substitute for substance.

    I think you give the AA phase too much weight or emphasis. If the AA does not have each and every “i” dotted, or “t” crossed in it, in your opinion, it is not make that report or step in the environmental review phase fataly flawed. Updates, revisions, clarifications, if necessary, can be implemented in the next phase…. in the draft EIR/EIS. Your assertion that you could drive a truck through the AA report is ridiculous.

    Additionally, if what you write is correct, or even close to being correct… the City of Anahiem certainly had acccess to a draft of the AA report… and should have observed and made comment on the items that you spoke too. If those items were not revised for the final… it would stand to reason that there really was no issue. Or, your real issue should be with the City of Anahiem. Placing blame on any agency for a flawed report… which is your opinion… is incorrectly placed.

    lyqwyd Reply:

    Your comment was too long and rambling for me to read. I read the first 4 paragraphs and didn’t see anything relevant to make me want to read more. Are you for or against HSR? Are you for or against a tunnel in Anaheim?

  13. Spokker
    Jan 1st, 2010 at 11:02
    #13

    Cynthia, do you ever go to Disneyland? If so, I would like to inform you that you are indirectly contributing to the low property values and the blight that homeowners who live near the Resort area face. Especially problematic is the fireworks fallout that falls on homes adjacent to the park nearly every night.

    As a public health issue, many homeowners close to the park suffer from insomnia due to the incredible noise that fireworks produce. Asthma has also been a concern, but the jury is out on that one. One Anaheim man I read about is a Vietnam vet who suffers from PTSD and living near the park and dealing with the explosions is a nightly struggle. Aside from fireworks, living too close to the resort area is undesirable due to the perceived crime and traffic in the area. Expansion of the resort has resulted in land takings and the underhanded tactics that went with it when landowners didn’t want to sell.

    Just letting you know.

    “So while I am no match for him, I am committed to making sure that he (and you) can base decisions on accurate information about what is proposed, and right now, none of you have accurate information.”

    I grew up in Anaheim. I have no problem with the Alternatives Analysis Report. I do not think that community is so important that they should be allowed to hold up upgrades to passenger rail service in that corridor.

    All either of us can do is write to our elected officials or attend meetings and have our say.

    “How much homework did they really do to not know about a plan that was on the books for many years?”

    Whether it was built 100 years ago or 1 year ago is irrelevant. It’s listed as a take because that is what is required to make a 4-track at-grade option a reality. What did you expect them to do, state, “This property was just built. Never mind guys. Project canceled!”

    “For those who say that you take a chance in buying something close to the tracks, wouldn’t it be reasonable to assume that if you are buying a newly constructed home, financed by the City, that they would tell you if something was going to affect your immediate use of the property they just built for you?”

    No, it’s not reasonable to assume that. It’s up to people to do the research themselves. The city isn’t your Realtor, your lawyer or a close friend who is looking out for you and you alone.

    “Does it make me a NIMBY to demand complete information before a decision is made? ”

    No, but this wasn’t how you presented yourself. You basically said, “At-grade over my dead body!” as your opening salvo against the project. That doesn’t lead me to believe you are demanding complete information before a decision is made.

    “Everyone thought it was the MagLev to Las Vegas, which clearly was not going to be built, and they thought the meetings were a waste of time.”

    That’s their fault. Was the CHSRA supposed to say, “No, really, attend this meeting! It’s not a waste of time!” Maglev is a waste of time, but the meeting wasn’t about maglev, haha.

    “Of the few who did attend, they were told the plan was to remain in the existing ROW, with no takes or impacts.”

    I did not attend that meeting, but I always wonder if people remember things incorrectly or only as they want to remember them. Did they say that *the* plan was to remain within existing ROW, or was that only one of the possible outcomes that they presented? The possible plans always consisted of tunnel, at-grade shared, at-grade dedicated and an aerial alignment.

    “I can also promise you they did not communicate with the Anaheim Historical Society for information regarding the impacts to historic properties”

    I didn’t know they were obligated to contact your prestigious club.

    “as well as omitting the historic character of the YMCA Train Station. ”

    It’s not a train station anymore. It’s a school. It wasn’t very important to preserve for the function it was intended, so it can’t be that historic, can it? It’s original owner abandoned it. You won’t see me crying over the Old Spaghetti Factory in Fullerton if it ever goes away, either.

    “If an At Grade decision is made for Anaheim based on this report, there will be Hell to pay, and lawsuits to file.”

    There always will be. It makes building anything in this country ridiculously difficult. However, if the Santa Ana freeway widening was allowed to happen complete with all of its wonderful impacts, so will this.

    “While I do not currently speak for The Anaheim Historical Society in this post, I can tell you that the Society is working on a letter to that effect, and other community groups are sure to follow.”

    And, as someone who grew up in Anaheim and a resident of North Orange County, I will be sure to voice my support for upgraded passenger rail service in that corridor, including faster trains, a greater number of trains and grade separation.

  14. Cynthia Ward
    Jan 1st, 2010 at 11:42
    #14

    The Resort district has nothing to do with the area under study, and growing up in Anaheim you know the difference. But if Fitzgerald or Anaheim HOME wants to kick that dead elephant, they are welcome to settle the issue in court, all they have is one gadfly showing up at Council meetings to rant with no scientific study to back his assertions. I owned a home directly under the fireworks for years, having them break overhead is actually part of the magic of living in the city, and my children do not have two heads, nor did my asthmatic children develop problems after we moved in. In fact, Disney has improved their technology to produce even cleaner fireworks than ever before. You also know full well that is a red herring, and beyond the scope of this discussion.

    I’m glad you have no problem with the Alternatives Analysis, however you do not speak for the City any more than I do, and there are plenty of people who do have problems with it, as it comes to light. It also would be nice for people to SEE the report, and have the opportunity to discuss or dispute it, before it is accepted as gospel.

    Look at the Scoping Study from 2007, documenting the meeting, it shows the train running within the ROW, nobody recalled this incorrectly, the project changed dramatically from that meeting, and nobody at HSRA bothered to tell us it changed. Posting the Alternatives to the internet and not telling anyone it is there does not count.

    Yes, Spokker, under CEQA they would be required to make reasonable efforts to communicate with local historic groups, regarding impacts to historic structures, and indeed they claim to have done that very thing. It did not happen.

    The Train Station was not abandoned, it was taken by the City of Anaheim for a previous transporation project, and relocated a block to its current site. The new alternative does not discuss relocating it again, it simply calls it a take and then moves the park onto the empty site. Why should the City pay to relocate it again because an outside agency wants the land?

    You may not shed tears over the loss of historic buildings, but plenty of the rest of us do, and under CEQA we have the right to have those views considered in this decision.

    Sorry if I mis-spoke initially, I thought you understood that the reports were ridiculously out of line with what State law requires, and therefore based on that Analysis I can say, “At Grade over my dead body. ” I am putting my own kid on a train today, I love them, but until we can build one with public input on the impacts, I’ll go put the NIMBY bumper sticker on my gas sucking SUV.

    Come to the meeting at City Hall on the 20th and introduce yourself, perhaps we can sit over a cup of coffee and discuss this as (former) neighbors. I hate disputing faceless people over the internet, it is so uncivilized. I truly do wish you a Happy New Year. I just want that Happy New Year to be offered to all, including those whose homes and businesses are about to be taken.

  15. Spokker
    Jan 1st, 2010 at 12:48
    #15

    “The Resort district has nothing to do with the area under study”

    I know it doesn’t.

    “I owned a home directly under the fireworks for years, having them break overhead is actually part of the magic of living in the city, and my children do not have two heads, nor did my asthmatic children develop problems after we moved in.”

    I lived near train tracks once and trains are a wonderful part of the cityscape and part of the magic of living in a city.

    “In fact, Disney has improved their technology to produce even cleaner fireworks than ever before.”

    The cleaner technology only applies to the air cannons that now shoot the fireworks into the air. The shells themselves are just as polluting. But the shows have also become more elaborate. When these homeowners purchased their homes Disneyland performed Fantasy in the Sky, a small show that was performed only in the Summer. Since then the fireworks shows have grown to as long as 17 minutes in length and are performed year-round. Why didn’t someone tell these homeowners, especially the ones who purchased homes while Remember… Dreams Come True was being developed, that fireworks shows would balloon to 17 minutes in length and include hundreds more shells than Fantasy in the Sky and even Believe?

    “and my children do not have two heads, nor did my asthmatic children develop problems after we moved in.”

    Oh, I agree with you. I think they’re full of shit too because I love Disneyland and who cares what they think and Disneyland was there first. Of course, I’m not complaining about transportation infrastructure being planned in my backyard.

    “You also know full well that is a red herring, and beyond the scope of this discussion. ”

    Or it could be that Disneyland generates bucket loads of tax revenue for the city and that homeowners who complain about the resort area are to be overruled for the greater good. It could be that the freeway that serves Disneyland is also a public good and those impacted by it just have to deal with it, even if they were displaced. When it comes to things you like to use, detractors be damned. But when it’s time for you or people you care about to be impacted by a public good, the project will move forward only over your dead body.

    “I’m glad you have no problem with the Alternatives Analysis, however you do not speak for the City any more than I do”

    I didn’t say I did. I said that the only thing either of us can do is have our say.

    “It also would be nice for people to SEE the report, and have the opportunity to discuss or dispute it, before it is accepted as gospel.”

    The report is on the CHSRA web site. Those without Internet access at home can use computers for free at the library. No, they do not call you up personally and inform people of the meetings or scoping periods. You have to already be interested in government to know when these things are happening.

    “but until we can build one with public input on the impacts, I’ll go put the NIMBY bumper sticker on my gas sucking SUV. ”

    There was an entire scoping period where public input was sought after. In October 2008 when high speed rail was a hot topic any Anaheim resident could have simply went into the Internet and searched “California high speed rail” to get to the CHSRA’s web site where there are a myriad of documents that they could read for themselves. Here’s something from the draft scoping report on the LA-Anaheim section from Anaheim’s transit manager:

    “-Please ensure that the following streets in the City of Anaheim all have full highway grade separations: State College, Cerritos, Ball, La Palma, and Orangethorpe.
    -Need to ensure that the EIR at a minimum examines pedestrian separations or closures at Vermont, South, Santa Ana, Broadway, Sycamore and North Street, with possible bike path separations at Santa Ana, Sycamore and La Palma, which are designated on the City’s master plan of bikeways as bike trails/paths.”

    Eric Garcia submitted the questions:

    “The issue of gentrification should be addressed.
    How will this affect public housing?”

    Achilles Young said:

    “Areas dedicated to parks, museums, or other cultural centers need to be considered so that they can be relocated, if necessary.”

    Richard McCarthy has serious concerns as well:

    “Concerned that construction activity will result in mice infestations as the rodents flee the pile-driving activity to reside elsewhere.”

    As you can see, there has been public input on some of the very issues being discussed here. In fact, go here (http://www.cahighspeedrail.ca.gov/images/chsr/20091104113558_Draft_Scoping_Report_sm.pdf) and turn to page 50 for a summary of the verbal comments spoken at the previous Anaheim meeting.

    If the plans have changed, so what? They are having another community meeting where anybody can come and comment on the “new” plans. I don’t understand what your problem is with this.

    Spokker Reply:

    Cynthia, if the only plan the CHSRA presented was the shared track alternative, then how did Marcia Garten submit this comment to the authority during the draft scoping comment period in 2007? Check page 51. This comment was submitted verbally at the April 2007 Anaheim meeting at City Hall.

    “-I was encouraged by the proposed idea of expanding the rail width and dedicating separate lines for passengers and freight. That would be an excellent utilization of the preexisting rail tracks.
    - It is important to move forward for the long-term benefits of Anaheim/neighboring communities.
    -Safety is a huge concern for City of Anaheim since there was a passenger accident two years ago in East Anaheim.
    - I am pleased to see the separate rail lines (for safety concerns).
    I am pleased to see the dedication and high level of visual elements presented.
    - I am impressed with staff’s eloquence and ability to present information in an understandable format.
    - Keeping the community informed is a critical component in project success.”

    Spokker Reply:

    Cynthia, if the only plan the CHSRA presented was the shared track alternative, then how did Marcia Garten submit this comment to the authority during the draft scoping comment period in 2007? Check page 51. This comment was submitted verbally at the April 2007 Anaheim meeting at City Hall.

    “-I was encouraged by the proposed idea of expanding the rail width and dedicating separate lines for passengers and freight. That would be an excellent utilization of the preexisting rail tracks.
    - It is important to move forward for the long-term benefits of Anaheim/neighboring communities.
    -Safety is a huge concern for City of Anaheim since there was a passenger accident two years ago in East Anaheim.
    - I am pleased to see the separate rail lines (for safety concerns).
    I am pleased to see the dedication and high level of visual elements presented.
    - I am impressed with staff’s eloquence and ability to present information in an understandable format.
    - Keeping the community informed is a critical component in project success.”

    Cynthia Ward Reply:

    She was in favor because at the time, no takings were being discussed. I know Marcia, no way would she approve this if she thought homes, businesses, and a historic structure were being taken. The presentation was showing they could do all of that within the existing right of way. That clearly has since changed.

    Cynthia Ward Reply:

    My problem is that you appear to think this is a done deal and anyone objecting to it is a NIMBY, when in fact most Anaheim residents are just now being informed of these plans. The OC Register had little to no coverage, the average citizen had no idea this information was available. As far as this information being available to those interested in government, I am involved with multiple organizations, which are all filled with those who are well connected, and I had to tell these people (Planning Commisioners, former City Councilmembers, etc.) that this is happening, none of them had a clue. During the period in question I was a regular visitor to a well connected political blog, where I have now been asked to contribute regularly, and if anyone was going to mention the issue, it would have been that blog. (that is how Robert sucked me into YOUR discussion here). Go search those poltical blogs based in Orange County, there is no mention of high speed rail or scoping meetings for Anaheim, and there is certainly no mention there, or in the local papers, that the Alternatives Analysis is finished and ready for citizen input and review. So while communities further down the line are already involved in Context Sensitive Solutions, Anaheim, as the first leg of the project, is just now learning of this project, and there was NO meeting scheduled until I screamed bloody murder. So you in the north may know all about this, but in Anaheim it is the best kept secret in town. We need to allow time for the shock to register, for people to understand they may lose their homes and businesses, and for those people to give input and look at all of the options, but instead you have already decided that Anaheim is just a bunch of NIMBYs when in fact we are simply in shock that this is catching us unaware.

    jimsf Reply:

    That’s just crazy talk. This has been a state wide issue, in the news, and hello. on the ballot. All the info has been published because all of us have seen it and followed it. It’s up to citizens to stay informed if they care. If they can’t be bothered to stay informed, or to even vote for that matter then tough tortillas. That’s on them.

    Spokker Reply:

    Like I said, no one is going to, should have, or has any obligation to make you or anyone else personally aware of the project. If you missed previous meetings or comment periods, that’s your fault. There are further meetings and public outreach coming up. When those meetings are over, is a new group going to rise up and claim, “We never knew! We call do-over!”

    “The OC Register had little to no coverage, the average citizen had no idea this information was available.”

    This is simply not true. Search “high speed rail” on ocregister.com

    1.California Focus: High-speed rail measure on wrong track | rail …
    So the Rail Authority claims it will hit average speeds that are not being achieved by any other high-speed rail system in the world. …
    COMMENTARY September 18, 2008

    2.Governor touts benefits of high-speed rail | rail, high, speed …
    of the bonds would help pay for a high-speed rail line between Los … San Francisco, San Diego, Sacramento and Fresno with trains running at top speeds of more …
    COMMUNITY May 13, 2007

    4.Japanese delegation speaks on benefits of high-speed trains …
    ANAHEIM In a country about the size of California, a high-speed rail system has for decades whisked millions of passengers to and from destinations. …
    UNDEF January 31, 2008

    5.High-speed-train study coming | speed, high, orange – News – The …
    High-speed-train study coming. By ELLYN PAK. THE ORANGE … Express, is widely used overseas. PHOTO COURTESY OF CALIFORNIA HIGH-SPEED RAIL AUTHORITY. …
    COMMENTARY September 26, 2006

    Organize by oldest articles:

    5.Anaheim mayor seeks seat on a statewide rail board | rail, billion …
    After years of little progress, it was a significant break for the California High-Speed Rail Authority, which hasn’t had much money to work with. …
    COMMENTARY August 15, 2006

    4.Taking taxpayers for a ride california focus | cost, california …
    There has been considerable discussion about the proposed California High Speed Rail project. California taxpayers are being subjected …
    COMMENTARY June 14, 2006

    6.Transportation group OKs study of high-speed rail project | orange …
    Transportation group OKs study of high-speed rail project. By ELLYN PAK. The Orange County Register. Story Highlights. The board agrees …
    HOMEPAGE September 25, 2006

    8.Pringle named to high-speed rail board – Total Buzz : The Orange …
    Arnold Schwarzenegger has named Anaheim Mayor Curt Pringle to the state’s High Speed Rail Authority and Huntington Beach’s William Gailey to the California …
    BLOGS February 14, 2007

    This has been in the newspapers. We voted on a statewide initiative about it. If people didn’t know about this project, they were simply not paying attention and/or don’t care.

    But all of that doesn’t really matter. You still have time and opportunity to make public comment on the project coming up.

    Robert Cruickshank Reply:

    Red County only cares about HSR when they’re trying to bash government spending.

    I’ve been writing about HSR at Calitics, the state’s leading left-of-center political blog, for nearly three years now.

    As Spokker pointed out, Anaheim residents have been informed about these plans. Most residents seem to have ignored it until now.

    Cynthia Ward Reply:

    We knew about it as a statewide project, we are not total morons. We did NOT know that Anaheim was the first leg of the project, nor did we know that properties would be taken. To my knowledge the HSR has not even notified the property owners listed as takings that they are in the way of a project, and I cannot find any reason to beleive that those individuals who attended the scoping meetings were ever informed that the Alternatives Analysis was completed and ready for review. The HSR appears to behind schedule on their own stated schedule for public information. There are standards to be met for environmental work, including legal notice to those properties affected. CHSRA has dropped the ball big on this.

    jimsf Reply:

    No decisions are firm yet, isn’t that why they are taking input?

    jimsf Reply:

    Generally in cases like this, the masses either don’t care one way or the other, or they agree with the project but don’t want to know anything except when is opening day. Every community has that group of gadlfys who go around, gadfly-ing. (In sf is the whole town). These are the self appointed protectors of whatever interests they deem worth protecting. Nothing wrong with that. But, in certain instances, like a major, necessary, and approved state wide project, they tend to just hold things up and cost the taxpayers more money. Go to chsra and tell them what you would like to have mitigated and if you have enough community support, they will listen, give you some options, and you’ll reach some kind of compromise. Thats the process. But when its over you accept the compromise.

    Cynthia Ward Reply:

    Jim, you and I are in agreement. Most people do not pay attention and do not care. Now that I am aware of what is going on, and more people are becoming aware, we will take our concerns to HSR and see how this plays out. That is what I posted to Red County, that I was trying to keep an open mind, but we are just now getting public notification and input, and your Robert came over there, linked to me, and ripped on me for not being 100% on board for something that has not been run past the people who are affected.

    What I object to is people like Spokker saying it is the burden of the property owners to remain vigilant about public works projects (CEQA demands notification) or that historic is in the eye of the beholder and Anaheim somehow cheats our way into historic (we meet the State standards). Gimme a break, we all just want a good project. I am taking my sick exhausted self to bed. Good night all.
    CW

    Alon Levy Reply:

    Cynthia, this is weird:

    We did NOT know that Anaheim was the first leg of the project

    I get not knowing what the precise alignment is, but on the CAHSR website, in the text of AB 3034, andin pretty much any newspaper article you could read that the first leg was Anaheim to SFTT.

    Robert Cruickshank Reply:

    LA-Irvine, including Anaheim, has been discussed as part of Phase I since at least early 2008.

    Kevin Reply:

    Spokker: The shared-track alternative wasn’t the only alternative presented at the 2007 Anaheim scoping meeting, but staff members I spoke with made it clear that it was by far the preferred alternative, and they were adamant (I asked explicitly) that operation could take place in the current-width ROW.

    I wasn’t the only person who walked away with that impression, as Rafael posted in this very blog back in March ’09 that shared-track was the plan for the segment in question:


    The SCRRA ROW in Orange County is quite narrow, really only wide enough for two tracks in most places. Widening it via eminent domain for the sake of laying down dedicated HSR tracks would be massively unpopular and ruinously expensive. The plan is therefore to seek FRA approval to operate mixed traffic, i.e. to add a limited number of non-compliant bullet trains to the mix via time separations guaranteed by signaling upgrades that prevent engineers from running red lights by accident.

    So spin it how you want, but even those of us who thought that we were staying informed on HSR plans for the neighborhood were pretty surprised when the Alternatives Analysis came out and CHSRA dismissed an FRA waiver and shared operation out-of-hand.

    Spokker Reply:

    Even if plans changed, there are more meetings coming up so you have an opportunity to comment on the new plans. There’s no bait and switch here.

    Kevin Reply:

    Stick up for CHSRA all you want, but I’d call it bait-and-switch, or at least incompetence on the part of CHSRA staff. If someone tells you that they’re doing X, and then goes for two years without saying otherwise, it seems a reasonable assumption that X is still on the table.

    Two years between the 2007 scoping meeting and the release of the Alternatives Analysis. Almost a year between the release of the AA and the next Anaheim scoping meeting. If the CHSRA wants to work on those timescales, maybe they should be better at providing incremental updates between meetings/document dumps.

    Spokker Reply:

    Why would they say anything between the 2007 Anaheim meeting and the release of the alternatives analysis report? The AA report is the announcement of what alternatives are being carried forward and which have been eliminated. There was always a possibility that shared traffic would be eliminated.

    The next community meeting would be 8 months after, not a year after.

    AndyDuncan Reply:

    You said yourself the authority described the shared track alternative as the “preferred” alternative. That means they must have shown you some of the other alternatives. So they didn’t “tell you that they’re doing X”, they told you that they wanted to do “X”, but that “W, Y and Z” might be necessary and then they told you what “W, Y and Z” were. All the way back in 2007.

    Just because you liked “X”, and the authority liked “X” too (not surprising since “X” was cheaper and had less community impact to piss off people like you), doesn’t make it a bait and switch when they choose to eliminate “W” and “X” because “X” and “W” wouldn’t work.

  16. Joey
    Jan 1st, 2010 at 14:21
    #16

    Well I have just boarded the Coast Starlight from Portland to Emeryville (SF). Should be an interesting experience, even if it takes 17 hours. And Amtrak’s olde tyme railroad practices are already seeming quite inefficient. Your ticket is checked by like three different people, they don’t even tell you which car you’re in until you get on the platform, and the train sits in the station for 35 minutes.

    jimsf Reply:

    yay! I hope to god to upgraded to a room. If you didn’t. Please ask the conductor if there are any avail. You can buy em cheaper on board when there’s empties. Please don’t sit in coach for 17 hours, its making my back hurt thinking about it! Upgrade. You’re worth it.

    Joey Reply:

    Well I just overheard that there are none availible. Oh well, probably wouldn’t have upgraded anyway.

    jimsf Reply:

    ;-(

    Spokker Reply:

    Slack is built into the schedule to account for delays.

    The average delay for the Coast Starlight heading Southbound for the past 4 weeks is 45 minutes. Luckily your train is currently showing up on-time at http://72.148.42.113:8080/Amtrak/status/StatusMaps/AmtrakStatusMapWest.htm

    It was actually running 25 minutes late before it got to Portland. Here’s the actual page for your train http://72.148.42.113:8080/scripts/archivefinder.pl?seltrain=11&selyear=2010&selmonth=01&selday=01

    Joey Reply:

    Yeah I figured I’m pretty lucky for that given that it’s peak traveling time and there’s been some snow lately.

    jimsf Reply:

    The worst is when its below freezing and you get broken rail. ugh. They can send a man to the moon but can’t keep steel from snapping in the cold? wtf

    Joey Reply:

    I get the general idea that UPRR is not overly concerned about maintainence.

    dejv Reply:

    Breaking of steel in winter is preferable to buckling of CWR track in summer.

    Cynthia Ward Reply:

    You guys make a great case for the reliabilty of rail….

    jimsf Reply:

    ( we are talking about freight railroads, and as far reliability, its 54 billion dollar industry- Us homegrown, and 100 percent american jobs, is that enough of a case? All industries have to maintain themselves.

    Spokker Reply:

    We’re talking about Amtrak here, not high speed rail.

    dejv Reply:

    Well, no. CWR if designed and done properly does neither buckle nor crack. But if a failure should occur, a crack is preferable because resulting gap is too narrow to cause a derailment and it is easily detected via track circuits.

    Similarly well designed and built structural beams don’t fail but if should a failure occur, it’s better if critical bending moments are excessed before shear force because excessive bending moment results in large deflections while excessive shear force gives no warning.

    Robert Cruickshank Reply:

    I’ll be boarding the Coast Starlight tomorrow in Seattle for the trip down to Salinas. Hoping for the same quick, enjoyable, problem-free trip south that we had coming up here last week.

  17. jimsf
    Jan 1st, 2010 at 16:37
    #17

    The upside of the recession is that freight traffic has evaporated. Freight causes the majority of delays so things have sailing along all year overall.

    ( I can’t help but boost amtrak whenever I get the chance, although their lack of concern about the recent shooting at my station is still irritating me to no end, but thats a local management issue and hopefully does not reflect the company as a whole)

    I hope you upgraded and got a good price. ;-)

  18. Ken
    Jan 2nd, 2010 at 01:09
    #18

    I think what supporters should be doing is to create a lobby group to start getting the word our that this project exists and is on its way.

    The problem right now is that no one knows that there is a HSR project on going, and that more important issues like healthcare reform, public school funding, status of illegal immigrants, jobs in California, and cap-and-trade are showcased as bigger issues. HSR in this tough economic times are rather looked as projects that is too expensive to be funded and as a tax waste when California can least afford it at this current debt ridden state.

    We don’t see witty billboards along the I-5 that read “Don’t you wish next time, you can take the express train to San Francisco?” We don’t see bumper stickers like “support California High Speed Rail.” Or witty ads inside LAX and SFO like “Rough day at the airport? Wish there was a third alternative?” We don’t see ads long the Pacific Surfliner saying “This trip LA to San Diego could only take 1 hour and 18 minutes” We don’t see focus groups lobbying Sacramento and Washington against the nay-sayers and we don’t see local news providing updates to HSR project.

    If there was some centralized lobby group, I would gladly donate $100 annually to get our support going, and getting ads around to spur more public interest.

    Paul H. Reply:

    I think Californians for High-Speed Rail has the best chance of being that group you envision. I also would gladly give $100 or more annually to such a group. I do like your idea of billboard advertise along the route to give people a reminder of the high-speed rail system and buzz talk about the ads.

    Ken Reply:

    Exactly, if you want to spur interest, you want to advertise the stuff where it counts. Interstate billboards along the route, bumper stickers, direct airport advertising…we have nothing right now. If you want to go up against the Reason Foundation and the big name oil companies/automakers, we need to go on our own offensive.

    How many Californians every day drive or fly through San Francisco/Sacramento to LA to San Diego? How many Californians are stuck on the freeways between LA and Orange County? And how many Californians are directly experiencing these frustrations daily?

    You’d want to use those frustrations to our advantage. When you start to advertise them where people can associate the experienced frustration of our current system and provide them that a third alternative exists to flying and driving, you’ll have people talking about this. And it can’t be something boring. It has to be witty, smart, and even sarcastic to our current system…things that hits deep to spur interest and talk.

    Witty ads at the airport security lines like “Stuck in security? Waiting for a connecting flight to San Diego? You could be half way to you destination right now.” Or I-5 billboards signs that say “San Francisco: [car icon] 6 hours, [HSR icon] 2 hours” or “Los Angeles: [car icon] 2 hours [train icon] 1.5 hours” Billboards like “Take a day trip to San Francisco…without the hassle of driving or the airport.” A frowny person stuck in the middle aisle of a plane versus a person relaxingly enjoying WiFi on a spacious HSR train. If the billboard is one of those new digital ones, stream the HSR video from the CAHSRA on them.

    Then you’ll have people talking, “Yeah the other day I was driving to San Francisco, I saw this billboard ad about an express train….” or “the other day I was flying from John Wayne to San Jose, I saw this ad about an express train…” And when people start talking, you get grab people’s interest. Grab interest, you build a foundation and an interest group which can compete against the lies that the Reason Foundation puts out.

    Create a lobby and focus group, gain more support money, you get more involvement. As supporters grow, you might even see some private enterprises and big name corporations’ head turning. Perhaps Coca-Cola might want to become the exclusive drink provider for the trains, or maybe VISA would want to become the exclusive form of payment for this. Maybe AT&T would want to become the exclusive provider for WiFi service. If enough people become interested, these can also become new untapped customers that these companies would like to grab a share of.

    Maybe even begin talking with some airlines that may have an interest in an exclusive code-sharing opportunity with the trains, similar to Air France & TGV, Lufthansa & DB. HSR lobbyists can change their tone that HSR isn’t competing with the airlines for intra-California travel; that it can actually become a symbiotic relationship to help cut down costs of flying all these commuter jets. Instead of blindly attacking the airlines, start providing them with something that interests them. How much does it cost them to fly those commuter jets? How efficient are these 50-60 seater planes, really? Do they really provide any profit as opposed to longer flights? Can any of your problems be solved with some kind of synergetic relationship with HSR?

    Andre Peretti Reply:

    The TGV also codeshares with Air Austral, Air Tahiti Nui, American Airlines, Cathay Pacific, Continental Airlines, Delta airlines, Middle East Airlines, Emirates Airline, Qatar Airways, Northwest Airlines and United Airlines.
    TGV miles are counted as frequent flyer miles, rather generously since airlines multiply the actual milage by 4 or 5. The yearly ridership of Paris CDG HSR terminal is about 4.5 million.
    The big winners are foreign airlines which save a lot of money by having only one hub at Paris CDG, leaving connecting “flights” to the SNCF. This increased their transatlantic ridership at the expense of Air France whose extensive coverage of the French territory is no longer a decisive advantage, except for direct flights.
    I don’t see why airlines wouldn’t find it profitable to do in California what they do in France.
    Of course, this would cause problems. In France, Air Inter and other local airlines went out of business and provincial airports have had to court Ryanair and Easyjet in order to survive.
    Anyway, short-haul flights are ecologically and economically insane and we shouldn’t mourn their disappearance.

    Ken Reply:

    Great point, Andre.

    That is probably the approach that interest groups should take if they wish to see some support from our carriers. Low cost carriers might see a problem (I think Southwest weas one of the largest opponents of HSR in Texas I believe), but airlines such as American and Delta might see a benefit to codesharing with CAHSR – less need to fly and maintain those small commuter jets can mean more focused attention to their hard-line product which for longer distances like trans-Pacific or tran-continental flights. In fact, I probably assume that the commuter flights they fly are mainly feeders that carry passengers onward to a longer flight elsewhere.

    Of course, this could only work at SFO and ONT which has a plan to build a direct air-to-rail HSR station, while totally missing out SoCal’s main gateway, LAX. But then again, two is better than none.

    Andre Peretti Reply:

    With international airlines increasingly using the polar route, SFO is in a better position than LAX as it offers a better paying-load/fuel weight ratio and lower carbon emissions.
    Thus, if SFO had an efficient HSR link, it could become California’s main international hub.
    This would require all concerned parties (CHSRA, airport authorities, airlines) to work together and agree on a project.

    Andre Peretti Reply:

    payload, not paying load.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    SFO is too far away from Los Angeles, which is the primary destination for travelers. Air France can get away with flying people to CDG to connect with the TGV to Lyon because the travel market to Lyon is small enough that the extra 2 hours of travel time are not that big a deal. SFO-LA, which a nonstop train would do in 2:27, is not in the same category, since there is a significant market from Europe or Asia to LA.

    To connect air passengers to Los Angeles, it would be much better to work on rapid regional rail from downtown LA to LAX, with some high-speed trains through-routed on the line at lower speed. In Phase 2 of HSR, Ontario could function as a relief airport for both LA and SD; however, it would still have poor connectivity to Orange County.

    jimsf Reply:

    any code sharing would most benefit the valley. Actually what do central valley people do now, when they need to fly? do they actually have to drive to oakland and san jose? surely flights out of fresno must be exorbitant. I suppose if I lived in fresno and I was 80 minutes by hsr to southern and northing california major airports, Id be able to choose which airport to use based and where I could get the best flights and fares. I like virgin america so Id go to sfo. for say the $119 flight to fort lauderdale. If I were flying to say, Sydney or some other international dest. I might get better fares out of socal. hse will give the central valley even more options than the rest of us.

    Ken Reply:

    Ideally, a direct air-to-rail transfer station would be best for LAX. Unfortunately, there is no public support as I said because no one knows that HSR project is going on, the billions being spent on upgrading LAX has no intentions for it, and thirdly…the area surrounding LAX is already built up that hinders such plans.

    But as I said, these are all talk and no walk. LAX can have a high speed rail if there were enough interest in it and if everybody got their act together to work for it. Alas, I do not see any billboards from HSR interest groups making that pitch at LAX or on the 405.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    Ken, bear in mind that both the support and opposition for HSR seem to be concentrated in the Bay Area and possibly Orange County. LA itself doesn’t seem to care much.

    Spokker Reply:

    Alon, the LA River nuts are in full opposition to HSR if it has any alignment next to the “river.”

    jimsf Reply:

    I agree with the billboards. The “caltrans your tax dollars at work” billboards or similar- along the 99, the 101 near gilroy, and the 5 between slymar and anaheim. all youd need is about say, 10 or 15 total in key locations.

    jimsf Reply:

    Here’s a billboard to post on the 99 at Fresno

    Ken Reply:

    Great billboard jimsf!

    Can you make something more witty though? How about a “fake highway information sign” (you know, the green background & white letter signs showing how many miles it is to Los Angeles, etc. etc.?)

    [icon of car] Los Angeles 6 hours
    [icon of HSR] Los Angeles 84 minutes

    When you want people to start thinking, you don’t want to use vague examples that makes it look like some kind of out-of-reach futuristic thing. You want to associate it with things that hits their right tone.

    Think about it, if the airports in the Mid-West and Northeastern US had HSR advocated billboards and ads during the past winter storm, wouldn’t that have caught air traveller’s attention while they were stuck for three, four days at the airport? Maybe it could’ve sparked some discussion among strangers while they were stuck there: “yeah, next time I’m gonna do the Acela. This is ridiculous.”

    Or maybe when the next time a family is stuck in traffic between LA and Orange County on their weekend vacation to San Diego Zoo, they can see billboards on the I-5 of the HSR project movement. It’ll come to attention when they see they’re going 4 or 5 miles on the freeway and see witty ads like “[car icon] San Diego 2-4 hours depending on traffic [HSR icon] San Diego 78 minutes”

    A bad analogy would be, oh… playing with matches as a kid. Your parents always tell you not to play with matches, but many children do anyways in secret. But children stop when they experience first hand how dangerous it can be…almost burning the house down, getting a burn themselves, etc. etc.

    jimsf Reply:

    and heres another to put up on the 5 at sylmar

    synonymouse Reply:

    Yeah, put up billboards along I-5 telling motorists to detour 50 miles to the east thru every valley jerkwater and then further east thru the remote Tehachapis, only to turn back west to get to LA. With the hsr along I-5 it is its own damn billboard.

    The hsr is losing ground amongst the public. The SF Chronicle today ran a nasty jab at the high speed rail project as “foolishly expensive”. Also a cut of Muni’s $3,000.00 raises amidst fare hikes and an astounding critique by Willie Brown of civil service compensation. The masses are not happy.

    The hsr concept needs to get back to a straight shot I-5-Grapevine route that might be able to compete well enough with the airlines to break even. Tehachapis-Palmdale is certain to require subsidies. I have yet to see a repudiation of the argument that a branch from Baskersfield-Fresno to the I-5 alignment would still be faster to LA than the Tehachapis detour. Palmdale does not merit losing that critical half hour.

    Joey Reply:

    Livermore to LA via I-5 and the grapevine… I bet all of four people will ride that.

    synonymouse Reply:

    On the contrary it will be very successful. The urban links will come. The environmental problems associated with the hsr – primarily noise, vibration, and ugly infrastructure – will be qualified and quantified and the proper routes can be selected. In the end I believe it will be mostly freeway alignments to minimize blighting.

    Joey Reply:

    There would be no money to pay for urban links because so few people would ride it in the first place.

    synonymouse Reply:

    BART has proven time and time again that money is available for even dubious urban projects if one has the political juice.

    jimsf Reply:

    Synon- if you read the post, I-5 at sylmar, is south of tehachapi where the train actually does follow the 5 from the sfvalley to ana. I suggested the northern billboards on the 99. re read and get a map.

    dejv Reply:

    > The hsr concept needs to get back to a straight shot I-5-Grapevine route that might be able to compete well enough with the airlines to break even. Tehachapis-Palmdale is certain to require subsidies. (…) Palmdale does not merit losing that critical half hour.

    [citation needed]
    Alternatively comparison to some operating HSR system.

    Caelestor Reply:

    Does adding 10-15 extra minutes really make HSR not competitive with airlines?

    Anyways, HSR needs well-located train stations (i.e. where the people live) in urban centers, not along freeways.

    jimsf Reply:

    I got a million of em. but its time to get chores done. ill make a few later just for fun. and witty is my specialty. or how ’bout ‘smartass…. lol

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    Something simple. Picture of a train and “You’d be there by now” would work

    jimsf Reply:

    like the “if you lived here you’d be home now” billboards!

    jimsf Reply:

    Organizations such as the rail authority tend to lack creative talent. It just doesn’t occur to them.

    Ken Reply:

    Well state funded organizations has a limit to what they can do; just like the Surgeon General, they’re limited to putting warning advisories against smoking on cigarettes. It takes interest groups and lobbies to put up witty ads like “this is a healthy lung vs. this is a smoker’s lung.” And these interest groups are the main weapons against big companies and the “think tanks” that they fund. But if you get the populaces attention and start getting them to think, that’s when real change happens.

    As the old saying goes, “you can talk the talk, but can you walk the walk?” Right now sadly, we’re just all talk. We need to walk.

    jimsf Reply:

    True. And the website, front page should have something that looks like a clear,solid timeline, so that people don’t just see it as “oh sure someday it might happen.” They need to see clearly what stages have been completed, ( studies, funding sources etc) and what is next without having to dig for information. Big, bold, simple. And ads like this where you can substitute driving for PC and Hsr for MAc.

    jimsf Reply:

    or a page like this with a clear, tangible timeline.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    The timeline would work especially well for Amtrak, if it ever decided to seriously improve the Acela (note to Adirondacker: increasing the cant deficiency in Connecticut from 3″ to 5″ isn’t serious, not when the trainset is capable of 7″ and the future trainsets Amtrak promises could do 9″). For example, posting a timetable NY-DC and NY-Boston times, or times from the local area to NY, DC, and Boston. The timetable should be padded so that schedule overruns are unlikely, while beating expectations is common.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    And I’m sure somebody at Amtrak has suggested it. It may have even had a semi-official study. Which got put in the dusty file cabinet along with all the other things they can’t afford. They’ve spent 25 years replacing the baling wire and bubble gum left behind by Penn Central on a shoestring budget.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    It’s not that they can’t afford it – it’s that they spend the money on trivialities. For example, take the latest study, proposing $11 billion improvements to take Acela travel times down to 2:15/3:00. The highlights of the study: $1.3 billion for Moynihan Station, $2 billion for quad-tracking 60 miles of curvy track in Maryland without any mention of curve elimination or bypass tracks, an increase in Connecticut cant deficiency from 3″ to 5″, next-generation trains subject to new FRA standards rather than off-the-shelf, capacity issues that assume tracks are limited to 20-24 tph even as new signaling allows 30 tph.

  19. YesonHSR
    Jan 2nd, 2010 at 11:35
    #19

    A pro-HSR group is much needed as a state agency really is limited in what they can do..and agaist them are well funded oil/auto/air “think tanks” pouring out misinformation in the news media on a semiweekley basis..futher pushed by rich nimbys/ideology types that will not stop.

    Ken Reply:

    Exactly. If there was a strong centralized pro-HSR organization or lobby group, I’d be happy to donate $100 annually and even join a volunteer effort to get the word out. Start out with bumper stickers or coffee mugs. Bench ads, bus ads, flyers, full page ad in support of CAHSR in the SF Chronica, Sacramento Bee, LA Times, San Diego Union Tribune…anything is better than nothing.

    Right now, we’re just talking amongst ourselves that high speed rail so great and that people who are against it are stupid. Like that’s really going to get the word out? And then all we do is play defensively against the Reason Foundation’s lies without ever taking our own initiative. It’s just like any sport: you can’t play defensively and expect the crowd to cheer for you. You want to play offensively to try to drive you and your team to get more points.

  20. jimsf
    Jan 3rd, 2010 at 01:17
    #20
  21. wu ming
    Jan 3rd, 2010 at 09:33
    #21

    new year’s eve was freaking insane in taipei, the subway moved a ton of people (me, i just walked back home because everyone else in town was taking the freaking subway). 2 million passengers out of a metro area of 6 million is *huge*. and that’s not even counting the busses they had lined up to shuttle people downtown after the fireworks.

  22. Jessica
    Jan 3rd, 2010 at 13:46
    #22

    They are taking my parents and aunt’s house; both on the opposite sides of the tracks.
    They took my grandma’s house on Glenn street about 17 years ago while widening Calloway Drive and didn’t get what it was worth.
    AND My Sister passed away at my parents home from a diabetes’ complication while my nephew was at camp, what if she is a spirit waiting for Jesus at my parents home.
    Now her Son can’t live in/someday own the home they lived together in, and probably has all his best memories with her and him in that house. I know I do she took care of me while my mom had to work all the time.
    My Parents were going to leave my nephew, my brother, and me their house.
    Since my Mom had to stop paying into the life insurance … for the house bills probably, she lost it all of the plan. You are taking what my parents were going to leave us when they leave us behind here on Earth too. And my brother has condition where I’m going to have to take care of him forever.
    And I would pay billions of dollars to have my childhood home not be gone; and buy the HSR if i could, I seen a show where a van or camper went across the USA not using any gasoline and different types of alternative clean fuel can be hand made and poured right in your tank with used cooking oil/grease,and hemp oil mixed with something else (don’t just go and pour this in your car people). A fuel cell could easily be in all our cars.
    They’re probably just tearing these houses down so everyone can buy the land when it “fails”. My parents house value fell 75% of what they paid (you can see on Zillow.com the house values for everyone) rapidly over the years just like everyone else around them unfortunately.
    Is this where all the cash for gold is going?
    The Antichrist probably is going to make us get inside of these HSR machines and transport us to where we don’t want to be.
    I wish it could be canceled!!
    I was thinking I could chain myself to the back fence; but I would probably be bulldozed and no one would know I’m under the HSR. :(
    How is this going to make more jobs?
    Are we suppose to transport everyday on this HSR to different Cities in CA, I’m pretty sure no city has any work. Are we gonna have an HSR caboose/window washer? Someone to pick up the dead birds from the rail? A few people selling bottled water and over priced food on them?? Then Someone to separate and recycle the bottles that get thrown away..?
    If we built it under-ground no one who have their homes for much less than it is really worth against their will, but we can’t see what the motives really are, it’s like we are in Monarchy Government again.
    How many will lose their homes? Why couldn’t you make it not go through the people’s houses already here, that have been here more than 22 years? Nobody (I bet) would have moved in a long time ago if they knew you were going to take it all away in 2015 unless they have a movable house.
    Is everyone’s house getting taken an Native American relative? Would the Forefather’s take our houses when we first came here and say this is for the people…

    Spokker Reply:

    “The Antichrist probably is going to make us get inside of these HSR machines and transport us to where we don’t want to be.”

    The Antichrist as part of phase 1 has been discussed since early 2007 and you’ve had plenty of time to comment publicly on the matter.

    Let’s be honest here, a deal with the devil is the only thing that is going to get California out of this rut!

    Spokker Reply:

    And based on this post, high speed rail should be really successful in Bakersfield.

  23. lyqwyd
    Jan 5th, 2010 at 16:39
    #23

    Sorry, couldn’t read that whole post, too long and rambling. Are you for or against HSR? Are you for or against a tunnel through Anaheim?

    lyqwyd Reply:

    that comment above was supposed to be a reply to another comment, not to the post in general, is there a way to delete comments?

    Joey Reply:

    Sadly, no.

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