Sunday Open Thread

Dec 27th, 2009 | Posted by

by Rafael

Since the previous open thread attracted so many comments, here’s a fresh one to make it easier to follow the topics of discussion.

Fresh HSR news from around the world:

  • In China, the new Wuhan-Guangzhou HSR line has begun commercial service to great fanfare (photo gallery). The 1069km (668mi) line is exceptional in that it can support operation at 350km/h (217mph) along almost its entire length, making it the fastest rail line in the world right now. Trip times will be slashed from over 10 to just three hours, though not everyone will be able to afford the higher fares. Nevertheless, the new service is expected to compete very effectively against airlines, in spite of deeply discounted air fares.
  • In the UK, the HS2 commission is about to submit a very detailed proposal for the preferred route from London to Scotland via Birmingham and Manchester. The proposal includes a large new railway station in the heart of London, with optional links to Heathrow and HS1, the existing line from London to the Channel Tunnel. The plans are especially popular in the north of England and in Scotland, both Labour Party strongholds that the opposition Conservative Party would like to make inroads into. However, the proposal is also expected to call for new tracks to run along the edge of the scenic Lake District as well as through the tony Chilterns in Buckinghamshire, which will draw fire from environmentalists and upper-crust toffs alike.
  • Ironically, the announcement came just as stranded Eurostar passengers were being rescued by a steam locomotive.
  • In Texas, a new offshoot of the existing Texas High Speed Rail and Transportation Corporation (THSRTC) called the South Central High-Speed Rail and Transportation Authority , Inc. will further develop the T-bone HSR concept and future extensions.
  • In Japan, JR Central (known locally as JR Tokai) just submitted a final report detailing three alternate routes for the proposed Chuo shinkansen, intended to relieve the congested steel wheels line between Tokyo and Osaka. If the minister approves the least expensive route through the Southern Alps over objections from Nagano prefecture, maglev trains will one day shuttle passengers between these two cities in just one hour.

  • Meanwhile, Dug Begley at the Press Enterprise muses about how the eastern Inland Empire could one day become the crossroads of multiple HSR lines linking LA, San Diego, Las Vegas and Phoenix. Nothing of the sort is actually on the drawing board right now.

UPDATE by Robert: Just want to thank Rafael for posting two excellent open threads here on the blog. Watching the occasional news stories about the increasingly insane and ridiculous rules the TSA is imposing on air travel and thankful that I’m taking the Coast Starlight back to CA next weekend (we had a great trip up here, no problems at all, pulled into Olympia only 10 minutes late). We need to ensure that HSR is not saddled with a TSA-like set of requirements. Britain, France, and Spain have extensive experience with terrorism and train safety, including deadly attacks on some train systems in recent years (the 11-3 attacks on the Madrid commuter trains in 2004, the July 7 attacks on the London Underground in 2005). US and California authorities should learn from the security measures on European HSR trains, and ignore and avoid the TSA as much as possible.

  1. jimsf
    Dec 27th, 2009 at 12:10

    alon-Jim, it doesn’t matter that the Richmond District doesn’t have many job, not when it has the highest residential density in the US outside New York. The gold standard for suburban rail should be the RER, which runs through plenty of eastern suburbs with no jobs; people use the RER to get from the residential centers east of Paris to the job centers downtown and west of Paris. I think California should have French quality transit, and not American quality transit. Don’t you

    What I think that travel within san francisco is muni’s responsibility and as we know bart, especially underground, is very expensive. Also the san franciscans prefer their stops to be very close together which is easier and cheaper for muni to do. also, the richmond district has repeatedly rejected the idea of a subway.
    Like I said, geary is getting brt with possible future upgrade to lrv. bart would be redundant.

    everyone here seems to hate bart until it comes to pushing it on sf where its not wanted or needed then suddenly everyone is so gung ho.

    bart needs to focus on the east bay and increasing transbay capacity. period.
    Muni will take care of SF.

    and if single rides aren’t important for commuters like you said, then certainly its not a big deal for them to transfer from bart to muni to get out geary.

    Of all the places you could spend bilions of bart dollars, geary would not be the wisest choice.

    Like I said
    east coco co
    and increased transbay capacity
    those are barts goals for the next 30 years.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    Jim, the reason so many of us hate BART is precisely that in insists on low-demand extensions like Livermore and San Jose while neglecting urban routes like Geary and Judah.

    Stop spacing isn’t an issue with either BART or Muni. Either company can choose its stop spacing on Geary; for subways, the optimal spacing is much closer than BART’s, but still farther than Muni’s. There’s no reason a BART extension would have to stick to the excessive stop spacing of the East Bay. Again, let’s look at Paris here: when RATP built Métro Line 14, with Métro technology, it gave it much wider stop spacing than is common on the other Métro lines, on the model of the RER. Just because the service was branded Métro didn’t mean it needed to stick with a service pattern that didn’t satisfy the demand.

    What I said about transfers is that well-configured transfers, especially cross-platform ones, are no big deal. The Muni/BART transfer is not cross-platform or easy in any other way. A good rule of thumb is that if passengers have to pass through additional fare gates during the transfer, you’re doing it wrong.

    jimsf Reply:

    ok ok but are you not hearing men when Im telling you that some people are asking for bart and the other people dont want it, so bart is going to the places where the people are asking for it. hello????

    Alon Levy Reply:

    I don’t care if people in Livermore ask BART for ponies. The popular extensions are not always the most effective either socially or financially.

    Chris Reply:

    Jim – Livermore has 50,000 people. The Richmond District alone has more than that. Even if only 10% of SF wants BART on Geary, that’s more people than ALL of Livermore.

    jimsf Reply:

    The problem is that Im dealing with reality and you’re not. Let me ‘splain it one more time.

    Its doesn’t matter what you think is socially best.

    The only thing that matters here, is what is, and what isn’t. Bart IS going to Livermore. Bart is NOT going out Geary.

    YOu don’t have to agree with it. But those are the facts and the reason its like that is for the reasons I stated.

    and let me also tell you that whether you believe it or not or like it or not, things don’t happen in sf neighborhoods unless the people in those neighborhoods agree to it.

    I know that is a foreign concept to most people but I don’t know why everyone refuses to believe me when I say it.
    That IS how it works here. It just is.

    SO, if you want to debate bart, then be productive and debate which livermore route is most effective because thats where bart is going. to livermore, and to san jose.
    Im not trying to be contrary, im just telling the truth.

    Joey Reply:

    Actually I do seem to recall Geary being part of BART’s long range plans (along with a second transbay tube)…

    Chris Reply:

    It’s been a part of BART’s plans since the 50’s, when Livermore had fewer than 10,000 people.

    Jim – I have the right to be a part of the debate over whether Livermore gets BART before Geary (nothing is in stone – a year ago BART had completely given up on building the Oakland Airport Connector, and now it’s nailed down on being built) because I PAY BART TAXES.

    As far as the “this is the way things are, so be productive rather than trying to stop something,” isn’t that the same thing that Caltrans was saying back in the 50’s when they were trying to tear SF up with freeways? BART to Livermore and BART to San Jose and the BART OAC are endangering the long term viability of Bay Area transit. I’ll fight anything that does that, and fight for anything that is good for Bay Area transit (like HSR, Caltrain improvements, Capitol Corridor improvements, AC Transit BRT improvements, BART infill stations, ACE improvements, Caltrain Metro East, the list goes on), whether you think it’s futile or not.

  2. Evan
    Dec 27th, 2009 at 12:19

    Hey Jim,

    I’d love to see Muni take care of SF, and BRT on Geary would be great. However, it wouldn’t be nearby as powerful as BART down Geary. That would get people out of their cars, and be a huge boon to the western neighborhoods of San Francisco.

    Personally, I think BART should put money into building BART in areas that are the most likely to use it — like San Francisco, where so many residents already don’t rely on cars to get around or get to work — before slinging BART even farther to the outer reaches of the Bay Area.

    jimsf Reply:

    I know but bart is for the bay area and there are good reasons that bart is going further east.

    bart is going to san jose because san jose asked for bart and offered money to help pay for it
    the richmond district not only isnt asking for it, but doesn’t want a subway.
    see the difference?

    same goes for east coco and livermore. they have been waiting patiently for decades.

    further, the people in the richmond district do not want anything that might stimulate growth pressures there.

    bart isn’t going to go where its not wanted.
    makes sense.

    I think there is a lack of understanding of bay area politics here.
    after 40+ years of watching the world unfold here, the current choices and actions come as no surprie whatsoever to me and seem perfectly obvious.

    but others can’t see it.
    I know you don’t believe me but this is how it works here. Its not a mystery.
    just leave it alone. and focus on which livermore route would be best. you can find the choices here:
    plenty there to debate!

    Chris Reply:

    Excatly, BART is for the Bay Area, not just the suburban counties, yet of the original routes and planned extensions, the only one that hasn’t EVER been looked at seriously is a second route in San Francisco COUNTY – one of the three COUNTIES of the BART district.

    Oh, and I’m from the Richmond District, and trust me, there are THOUSANDS of people out here who want growth pressures. There are just a couple loud and obnoxious businesses that don’t.

    Evan Reply:

    What makes you think people in the Richmond (which, mind you, is just one of the many neighborhoods this would or could serve) don’t want BART?

    I know a lot of people in Cow Hollow, the Richmond and the Fillmore that would love to see BART, and I know a whole lot more who would move to those areas if it did have BART. And having stood at Fillmore and Geary last night waiting for the long ride on the 22, I would as well :)

    jimsf Reply:

    Well, because everytime its been so much as suggested, the people on the geary corridor – raise a fuss and the city knows better to go against the wishes of the constituents cuz they get booted out.

    Chris Reply:

    Um, no. When has BART been seriously proposed for the Geary corridor? Never. Some of the Geary merchants actually wrote an op-ed a few years ago asking for BART as a way to KILL Muni BRT and LRT on Geary.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    If San Jose asked for free ponies for everyone should we give it to them? The people in Livermore what BART because they believe they have no other choices. In the rest of the world transportation planners, regular everyday commuters, occasional ten year olds who have used subways/U-bahns/Els, would look stare you right in the eye and tell you that 50 mile long subway lines aren’t a good idea. Then back away slowly while speaking in soft comforting tones until they are far enough away to run fast.

    Andrew Reply:

    The people in Livermore (as part of Alameda County) also feel like they’re getting nothing for the sales tax they pay into BART, which brings up other issues about how BART is funded and governed.

    Chris Reply:

    Yeah, that’s the argument, but it’s a ridiculous one. Alameda County has more miles of BART lines than any other county. Just because Livermore happens to be a separate city shouldn’t matter. It’s a county-wide tax. The entire western half of San Francisco County doesn’t have BART service either.

    Rafael Reply:

    Yeah, but what San Francisco got was an expensive transbay tube and an even more expensive subway tunnel under Market Street that also grade separated a key portion of the SF Muni light rail network. It’s not how many miles you get per inhabitant, its how much is spent on your territory and how much value you get out of that in terms of corporate property taxes and ancillary economic activity.

    Chris Reply:

    Sure. But much of that also has to do with what the individual cities decided to do near BART stations. Alameda County could have gained much more in terms of property taxes and economic activity if they had upzoned areas around BART stations.

    Chris Reply:

    Sure. But there was nothing to stop Alameda County from upzoning around BART stations and realizing more property tax income and ancillary economic activity. They simply chose not to.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    Is the expensive transbay tube and subway under Market Street there for San Francisco’s sake or is there for the East Bay’s sake? One of the reasons living in Livermore is attractive is because there is a city big enough to need a subway close by. The city wouldn’t be as attractive without the subway and neither would Livermore.

    jimsf Reply:

    doesnt matter. we are dealing with what is.

    Andrew Reply:

    If any BART extension were worthwhile, one down the Geary corridor would be it. Any BART extension is inordinately expensive, though. A Muni Metro subway could be done much cheaper and be nearly if not just as effective.

    As I said in yesterday’s post, BART should work on providing varying levels of service. Not all trains need to stop at Rockridge or Orinda, for example. Also, not all trains need to go all the way to Pittsburgh/Bay Point, some could turn around at Walnut Creek or Concord. BART tries to be both a metro and a suburban commuter rail system at the same time and doesn’t do very well at either. The success it does have is because it provides an important underwater transbay link.

    Joey Reply:

    “Also, not all trains need to go all the way to Pittsburgh/Bay Point, some could turn around at Walnut Creek or Concord.”

    Some trains already do terminate at Concord. BART is in the process of constructing crossovers to terminate trains at Pleasant Hill too, AFAIK.

    Chris Reply:

    Yeah, trains could turn around sooner, but that doesn’t help the choke points of the system – the Oakland Wye, the Transbay Tube, and the Embarcadero and Montgomery station pedestrian circulation.

  3. Joey
    Dec 27th, 2009 at 12:21

    What I’m wondering is whether or not a surface line (be it BRT or light rail) can provide enough capacity and speed for the congested Geary corridor…

    Alon Levy Reply:

    Surface LRT might; BRT almost certainly won’t. For reference: the only other bus line in the US I know of with the same ridership as Geary, 1st/2nd Avenue in Manhattan, is about 70 years overdue for a subway.

    jimsf Reply:

    Joey :
    What I’m wondering is whether or not a surface line (be it BRT or light rail) can provide enough capacity and speed for the congested Geary corridor…

    yes it can. there will still be local stop service as well and increased 38L limiteds. The every block stopping will continue as local service because we have a high number of elderly and disabled folks using muni and wiith our hills, buses stopping every block is a must. Many of the complaints you hear about muni these days actually come from the the influx of snot nosed youth who flooded in from around the country during the dotcom, they are in a rush and think that the old folks should just “get out of the way or stay home” ( which is typical of young people today)
    but the heavy coverage and frequent stops are what makes muni great as well. in a city where you have a whoe different neighborhood every four blocks, you need a lot of stops.

    don’t make me get a map a LA and NY and start telling you all what you need to fix about your transit….. ;-)

    Alon Levy Reply:

    You’re free to get a map and say what you think. Most New Yorkers won’t listen for the same reasons Americans won’t listen to French criticism, but you’ll be better than even odds to produce better ideas than the MTA, not to mention the city. In LA, you’ll be a 3 to 1 favorite.

    jimsf Reply:

    give me a day or two. ill fix it right up.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    Alon, I’d love to see what Jim would do to NY transit. Bway IRT to Tarrytown! Concourse IND to White Plains and the Lex to New Haven. Flushing line all the way to Port Washington! Get rid of all those express trains in Manhattan, after all everybody wants everything to stop everywhere… Newark Subway doesn’t have enough stops. Fill it in and bustitute so they can stop every block!

    Chris Reply:

    Interesting analysis Jim. Any data to back it up? Most of the folks that I know who are MOST in favor of eliminating stops are older (50, 60+). They don’t like the jerky ride caused by stopping every block.

    jimsf Reply:

    then why do they show up at the meetings and throw a fit?

    jimsf Reply:

    everybody wants to keep THEIR stop, and get rid of everyones ELSES stop.

    Evan Reply:

    I disagree. I’m fine walking another block or two if it means saving time on my bus ride.

    Chris Reply:

    Ditto. I don’t even use the stop closest to my house, as I’d normally be the only person there and I don’t want the bus to have to stop just for me.

    jimsf Reply:

    you disagree, but the people who complain the loudest in sf, are the ones who get what they want. so unless you can assemble a movement and force the change, then your team gets left behind. I dont think youve lived here very long or you’d know that already.

    I feel bad for people who move here thinking things function here the way they do in other cities. but things are done a little differently here. those of us who love it here, love it warts, quirks and all, and new people either assimilate and become on of us, or they wind up being miserable cuz they don’t understand why the city doesn’t operate the way they thought it would. I see it all the time.

    Chris Reply:

    True enough. But you said “most” in your first reply. I’ll agree that “loudest” usually gets what they want, but absolutely not “most.”

    Chris Reply:

    A few show up to meetings to throw a fit, not all. A few of the people that I know have showed up to meetings to throw a fit about the short stop spacing, only to be COMPLETELY ignored.

    Chris Reply:

    It’s certainly understandable to keep every block service in hilly areas, but on most of Geary? Please. We really need a stop at Fillmore AND at Webster? No hill there. We need a stop at Masonic and Presidio? No hill there.

    Andrew Reply:

    That’s what gets me riled about Geary BRT, and BRT in general. Oh yeah it’s so cheap to do, but what about when it starts running at capacity just a few years down the road? *coughMetroOrangeLinecough*

    Just build the damn thing as rail to begin with.

    jimsf Reply:

    no money for that.

    Joey Reply:

    I’m sure we could find the money if we were committed to it. Light rail isn’t that expensive compared to other things.

    jimsf Reply:

    thats why they will build it so it can be converted. The reasoning isnt just the money, but how quickly they can get it up and in serivce. they can get the brt in service and meet needs now and then plan on meeting future needs.

    I mean look folks, this thing has been studied to death, its had every kind of grass roots public input ad nauseam that you could imagine. all that has been done to death and all the input and ideas have been considered. The only think left now is whether they choose side running, center run center plat, or center run side plat. that decision is next. Ill be glad to let everyone know the outcome.

    Rafael Reply:

    Uhm, it is if you put it in a tunnel, cp. Central Subway. Basically, real estate tycoons looking to develop Mission Bay won out over residents in Richmond.

    Andrew Reply:

    Yep, and the Chinatown Chamber of Commerce. Political convenience gets things built quick, not transportation need.

    Joey Reply:

    Anything is expensive if you put it in a tunnel.

    jimsf Reply:

    Real estate tycoons? The fact is the only place left for sf to absorb any more growth is the eastern waterfront under the eastern neighborhoods plan. ( not the only place, but the only substantial place) and the line is in place for that growth. Its not the tycoons. at least we don’t call them that here. Its the southeast residents, basically, the african american community, who have had a lower standard of neighborhood muni service than much of the city, who wanted some equity, and city hall, who wants to use the last developable frontier wisely.

    As for chinatown. yes thats how it works. you have to have political clout here. BUT in sf ANYONE can have political clout if they can get the community behind them.
    there was just an arcticle published deriding sf politics for being too uber democratic. – a place where everyone gets a say and anyone can be empowered.
    my impression of commenters on this blog is they are very “anti” big this and big that, but you want someone to push through the projects you want regardless of neighborhood concern.
    chinatown wanted it, they got it, bayview wanted it, they got it, the richmond put up a fuss, on multiple occassions, they didnt get it.

    Its pretty simple.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    The Geary buses already have more than twice the ridership of the Orange Line, about 50,000 a day versus 20,000.

    Chris Reply:

    And that’s not even including the parallel lines that would rush to BART if it were there. There’s another 50,000 a day on lines that are within four blocks of Geary running parallel.

    Andrew Reply:

    Awesome, so it’ll be running at capacity within a few months.

    Hey, I know what would be an even cheaper way to accomplish the same thing: plaster Geary Blvd with posters of Newsom and Ford smiling, with their middle fingers raised high into the air.

    Chris Reply:

    That’s just the Geary buses. There are another ~50,000 riders a day using lines parallel to Geary within four blocks. Something tells me that at least a healthy portion of people from California (two blocks away), Clement (one block away), and Balboa (two blocks away) would walk a block for a subway over a bus.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    Nah why would they behave like people in other cities? It’s San Francisco, where if we are to believe Jim everybody wants every bus and trolley to stop twice on every block, they would never walk two blocks to get downtown twice, three times as fast as the bus….

    jimsf Reply:

    adirondacker, if those folks out there were demanding a subway, they would have gotten one. but they didnt. chinatown wanted one and they got it. the southeast made a fuss about being left out and cut off from the rest of the city, and cited racism as well, and they got their light rail line. if richmond district folks wanted something they know exaclty how to get city hall to do their bidding. but they not only didnt storm city hall and raise a ruckus and demand a subway, they actually rallied to block it. so, what else can I say.

    jimsf Reply:

    this sums it up I dont agree with the anti improvement side. I support brt. but you see the argument and thats just one group. there are other groups opposed to any brt or subway. mainly homeowners and business owners. they are organized and they have won. Ill take brt cuz I know thats all im gonna get. and everything here takes 20 years. maybe someday my ashes will ride the subway to my niche on geary. hmm hey ill put that in the will. …”ashes to be delivered by newly opened geary subway” of course, Ill have to live to 110.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    So, basically, that’s 100,000 daily riders on Geary right away, plus about 20% for rail bias… it means that without any induced demand, you can expect a subway under Geary to get 120,000 daily passengers, for about $2.5 billion in construction cost. That’s barely $20,000 per passenger, which is lower than per-passenger light rail costs in most US cities and not much higher than per-passenger subway costs in major cities (cf. Paris at $7,000, Tokyo at $14,000).

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    Yes and as an added bonus it gets all those buses off Geary Street. Less noise, less pollution, less congestion.. But it doesn’t drag BART out to Manteca where everybody is just chomping at the bit to take three hour subway rides through lightly populated suburbia to get a minute long view of every station in Oakland before they eventually get to San Francisco….

    jimsf Reply:

    yes yes but its like you don’t hear me when I m telling you none of that matters if the residents nd merchants are against it. they don’t even want the brt there ive said over and over again that things in sf work on neighborhood based politics. each neighborhood is like its own little kingdom, or queendom, in some cases…

    its forgein to you because other big cities don’t operate like that. but this one does. it really really does. im not making it up. Id love to ride a subway out geary. but it isnt going to happen.

    Joey Reply:

    That website is ridiculous, mirroring the “PRESERVE OUR FREEWAY LANES!!!!” mentality found in many places. It talks about fewer lanes and parking spaces, but COMPLETELY neglects the fact that more people will use public transportation once it is improved and modernized. Seriously … you talk about SF being different in this respect, but now I see we’re just like anyone else.

    jimsf Reply:

    im not taking a side, im just pointing out what is.

    Joey Reply:

    Residents are against HSR. Does that mean we should just abandon it?

    jimsf Reply:

    did you read both articles? the arguments on both sides are the same ones we always here. I know you all love to gang up on me as if Im the anti tranist madman, but Im not saying I agree with some of the messed up decisions, or that things couldnt be different in some other dimension. I just know how things work here. Ive watched and ridden for decades. and end the end like it or not.

    there will be bart to san jose
    bart to livermore
    no bart under geary
    there will be a geary brt.
    the brt may conver to light rail around 2030 or at least be in the planning stages and that will include talk of a stretch of subway from union square to a Laguna portal ( Laguna is right before fillmore, this is where the light rail will surface)

    Ive told you what will happen and why its happening that way.
    don’t shoot the messenger.

    Joey Reply:

    Most of these projects seem to be, for better or worse, the work of politicians/transportation agencies more than residents themselves.

    Also I would be hesitant to say there will be no BART under Geary. We know what happens when BART puts its eye on something, and you can bet BART has its eye on Geary (albeit only in the long term).

    jimsf Reply:

    in the year 2525.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    I could put up a web site detailing how Amtrak eats babies. I particularly like the one warning of the dangers of DHMO. It is the substance most tightly regulated by the federal government, all of the states and most counties and cities. Elaborate systems everywhere for its’ safe disposal. Have a look….

    * Death due to accidental inhalation of DHMO, even in small quantities.
    * Prolonged exposure to solid DHMO causes severe tissue damage.
    * Excessive ingestion produces a number of unpleasant though not typically life-threatening side-effects.
    * DHMO is a major component of acid rain.
    * Gaseous DHMO can cause severe burns.
    * Contributes to soil erosion.
    * Leads to corrosion and oxidation of many metals.
    * Contamination of electrical systems often causes short-circuits.
    * Exposure decreases effectiveness of automobile brakes.
    * Found in biopsies of pre-cancerous tumors and lesions.
    * Given to vicious dogs involved in recent deadly attacks.
    * Often associated with killer cyclones in the U.S. Midwest and elsewhere, and in hurricanes including deadly storms in Florida, New Orleans and other areas of the southeastern U.S.
    * Thermal variations in DHMO are a suspected contributor to the El Nino weather effect.

    jimsf Reply:

    adir- please. listen carefully. the project was studied, there was gobs of public input. all the people had their say, all the facts were considered. city hall weighed what the peolple wanted, what the people didnt want, how much was in the budget, how long things would take, moved forward with a plan. a plan that makes improvents with a pricetag the city can afford, on a timeline that can get said improvments in place relatively quickly.

    to hold out for a bart subway or even a muni subway, would create even greater poltical fall out, and would delay improvments for a decade or more. in the meantime we’d be stuck with the status quo. the brt gives improveents quickly, and lays a foundation for future improvements when we find the money and all the protect the neighbhood folks are dead and living next to me in the geary columbarium. where our spirits will likely continue the heated debate.

    jimsf Reply:

    did you read this one pro con too. all this was thrashed and tossed into the cuisinart and out came the current project. and some people dont even want brt because it too disruptive.

    Chris Reply:

    Jim – the website you link to is about Muni messing up Geary, not BART. The merchants ALWAYS argue against Muni LRT and FOR Geary BART. Find me ONE thing that says that they’re against BART and I’ll believe you.

  4. jimsf
    Dec 27th, 2009 at 12:54

    I choose alternative 2A greatest positive impacts, minimum disruption.

  5. jimsf
    Dec 27th, 2009 at 12:54

    hmmm alternative 2a try that again….

    Joey Reply:

    3A could work too, if 2A proves too expensive…

    jimsf Reply:

    yes. I hate to stop it short of a station at 580 at the foot of the pass though… thats where a lot of over the hill commuters would exit the dedicated ramp to the station and bart the rest of the way in.

    Ill be glad when bart serves these new extensions. there are too many parts of the bay area I cant get to. you know our shopping options are limited in sf and I would love to be able to hit more of the burbs when there’s things I need. places like livermore, milpitas (great mall) san jo, etc, I just like the idea of having the WHOLE bay area at my fingertips from my front door, instead of just the tired old parts like richmond and oakland. who wants to shop there.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    Just because they call it “Great Mall” doesn’t mean it is. Is there really going to be much of a difference between the Starbucks there and the ones on Market Street? It would be a lot easier to get to if you could take Caltrain East Bay and express through most of the stops in Oakland….

    jimsf Reply:

    i want bay wide access for my tax dollar

    jimsf Reply:

    and ive lived in all the counties and paid the bart tax for decades and have been a rider since it first opened.

    again, Im sorry to tell the truth but Im just trying to get you to see what is so you don’t waste time getting your hopes up for political unrealities.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    And I want bay wide access for my tax dollars because anytime BART builds something it sucks up great big drafts of Federal aid. There’s cheaper ways to get Bay wide access. Ways that get more people more places faster.

    jimsf Reply:

    but in the bay area, we have bay area rapid transit doing that. and riders here don’t really complain about trip time. they complain about over crowding and they complain about cleanliness. The want fresher seat cushions and cleaner carpet… and they still want the on board bar.

    Joey Reply:

    Maybe you don’t hear complaints, but imagine how many more cars BART would take off the road if travel times were lower.

    jimsf Reply:

    its really not about the time. the vast majority of travel times are under an hour.
    the number one complaint is actually lack of parking.

    the way to get more cars off the road is build more parking. but thats a big money issue.
    riders are already throwing a fit about having to pay for parking now.
    parking is number 1
    dirty trains
    and bad behavior are 2 and 3.

    the media covers bart complainers a lot
    and those are the 3 you hear. never “its too slow” because in most cases its still faster than driving. but, if the garage is full by 6am then they say screw it and head for the freeway.

    Joey Reply:

    Well then I would say connecting transit needs to be improved because BART’s park’n’ride model isn’t really the greatest thing to begin with. And TBH, I’m still not convinced that faster travel times wouldn’t draw more ridership.

    jimsf Reply:

    well, ridership is maxed out. theres no where to put more riders. the complaint is that bart is too packed already! they are trying to figure out how to squeeze more people onto trains by eliminating seats. everyone is against it.
    they want to charge for parking
    everyone is complaining about that too.
    they want to build more parking
    the urban people don’t want to pay for suburbanites parking.
    bart doesnt have a problem with attracting passengers.
    and once it goes to san jose ridership is going to jump way up.
    the biggest issue is tube capacity and a new tube is not till 2050.
    so, you know, theyll work on stuff in the meantime. I mean the ride from walnut creek to downtown sf is 30 minutes from my place at civic to the sfo.
    its under an hour from baypoint to downtown.
    its only 35 minutes from walnut bleak to downtown.
    17 minutes dt to daly city,
    39 mintues from richmond to downtown
    44 mintues from fremont to downtown.

    most trips are under 30 mintutes total.
    it just seems longer because the carpet is so dirty.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    well, ridership is maxed out. theres no where to put more riders. the complaint is that bart is too packed already!

    How much sense does it make to expand the system and add riders?
    If the system is already packed can they wait until 2050 to add tunnels to add capacity?
    On the west side of the bay they are talking about spending 4 billion dollars to upgrade the line to get you to San Jose in 30 minutes. On the west side of the bay they are talking about extending the over capacity line from Fremont, it takes 44 minutes to get to Fremont from Embarcadero now, to San Jose, how long is that going to take. Is it worth 6 billion dollars? Couldn’t they spend the 6 billion dollars upgrading Capitol Corridor and building a tunnel instead?
    …. of course once they build a tunnel to Oakland people are going to want to bring the trains all the way into San Francisco and there’s no place to put them on the 6 tracks wedged under the bus station….

    Chris Reply:

    bart doesnt have a problem with attracting passengers.

    Then why is its ridership literally less than half of the DC Metro with similar trackage length? BART has trouble attracting passengers because it builds billion dollar extensions into low density suburbia and surrounds them with parking lots or garages.

    jimsf Reply:

    bart is not comparable to dc metro and the bay area is not washington dc. dc metro is design in a more urban metro design with many more lines. Its serves a different geography as well. the bay area geography and commute patterns are along narrow corridors and follow freeways from valley to valley – cluster to cluster.

    if you look here you see the pop clusters and the commute corridors and bart basically follows those – the missing parts being the peninsula, the the southbay since the opted out.

    then san mateo county bought in. and got service for san mateo county
    then santa clara co. bought in, and is getting service to santa clara county.
    the unfinished parts for coco co and alameda co are livermore and antioch. and those are in the works.
    this is what we also knew would happen and its taking its sweet time to play out but the system is almost complete.
    the northwest SF (geary corridor) if it ever happens will be tied into a 2 transbay tube project.

    that will happen but inthe meantime, san francisco is going to do what it can to make improvements quickly in the form of brt.
    the brt can be upgraded to light rail, but also, by the time that happens, sf can see what bart is planning to do before making a move. perhaps they can work together like they did on market.
    but that is a long way away, politically, and financially.
    thats just the reality of it.
    so we work with what weve got in the meantime.
    you have to understand the compromise.
    or are you just arguing with me cuz you dont like me. I mean I can see the logic for the progress I dont know why you can’t see it.

    jimsf Reply:

    i forgot the map

    jimsf Reply:

    this is a couple years old, but, you see the neighborhood has its own sort of unofficial planning dept! lol but you can see they want a conservative approach its them not me.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    bart is not comparable to dc metro and the bay area is not washington dc.

    Ah the “but but but California is SPECIAL” theory of transportation planning. San Francisco is just like cities all over the world. 100 years ago the railroads started commuter service, on trolleys and conventonal trains. People moved to the suburbs. The railroads built railroad where it was easy to build railroad and where they could sell land for suburban bungalows. When they looked around where to build freeways, building freeways was usually easiest where they built railroads. And it’s where the people are. Palm trees and fog don’t need radically different transportation planning than oak trees and snow.

    commute patterns are along narrow corridors and follow freeways from valley to valley

    Which is different from other places all over the world where commute patterns are along narrow corridors, how?

    commute patterns are along narrow corridors and follow freeways from valley to valley – cluster to cluster.

    Absolutely amazing that the railroads and then the freeways were built where it’s easy to build them and even more amazing that’s where the people are….. just like every place else in the world.

    …Palm trees, fog and an orange bridge make San Francisco different. The palm trees, fog and an orange bridge don’t mean that what everybody else in the world does won’t work in San Francisco.

    In other words nobody else is planning a subway system as wide as BART. There’s a reason(s) for that.

    Chris Reply:

    Jim, the only difference between BART and Metro is land use around stations. DC encouraged TODs around metro stations EVEN IN SUBURBS, while we built ridiculously expensive lines and stations to places like Orinda and didn’t even require/allowany upzoning at all. It’s like paying for an SFO-sized airport in Merced, but not allowing any development to allow more people to use it. It’s a ridiculously wasteful use of public funds.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    Chris, it’s not just a land use issue. BART has only one line in San Francisco, and does not serve any dense urban areas outside the CBD except Mission and small chunks of Oakland. It has twice the interstation distance of the DC Metro, which already has one of the higher interstations in the world. And it’s shown a preference for extending lines out to the suburbs over urban corridors. DC Metro has made many of the same mistakes, but to a smaller extent: its hub and spoke system creates a decent layout in the DC core, the lines extend less far out into the suburbs and run on freeway corridors less often, there are three independent lines rather than just one trunk line.

    jimsf Reply:

    adirondack- whats your problem. You dont even freakin live here. Guess what. Noboby form sf gives a rats ass about how new york devises its transit. why do you care how ours is done. I told you, im just explaining to you WHY things are the way they are. EVerything thats done here has been done mainly on ballot voting for or against projects and taxes to to fund those projects. The bay area chose bart ok? get over it.

    jimsf Reply:

    I never ever said it counldn’t be better, what Im telling you is how it is, and how it will be and why its that why. ok? its how things are done here. perhaps the people of northern california are just really bad at making transit choices. I don’t know. but that doesn’t change the fact that bart is going to livermore and san jose and not geary. got it?

    jimsf Reply:

    hsr is going to be the same way. not perfect but itll get the job done. the first phase will get built. the second phase will be started, based on the first phase, people will suggest changes and addtions to the 2nd phase, people will say, it should have went here or there, then after the 2nd phase, theyll add extensions and people will argue about the merits of the extensions and some one will always be unhappy.

    There is no point whatsoever of being critical of bart. bart is what it is and we make the best of it. santa clara county wanted it, they got it. what part of that don’t you get? same goes for livermore. and guess what. bart is in the process of procuring an entire new fleet – about 700 cars and removing the old fleet from service and I can promise you this. you arent going to like the new car design. regardless of which one they choose but you know what, it doesn’t matter.

    Joey Reply:

    But it’s difficult to deny that BART is pushing fringe extensions while the core system is already strained to capacity.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    why do you care how ours is done.

    Because none of it would get built with out Federal aid. Extraordinary amounts of federal ais when you start looking at cost per rider. Once you start taking my money to build it, I get to say it’s a really really stupid idea.

    jimsf Reply:

    ph pleeese. lets not get into which states take who’s federal dollars .. you dont even want to go there. This county would collapse of cali pulled out.

    jimsf Reply:


    Alon Levy Reply:

    No, the country wouldn’t collapse if California pulled out. It would lose out about $50 billion a year in revenue minus spending. (The Bay Area and Greater LA contribute $40 billion each more than they get back, but San Diego, Sacramento, and the Central Valley are net tax recipients).

    The US isn’t France or Britain, dominated by just one region. It has several economic hubs – the Northeast, California, Chicago, Texas – none of which is indispensable.

    jimsf Reply:

    Im reading here that cali is 13 percent of the gross and the list
    ( which shows ny beat out by (gasp) texas, (for shame) goes like this “According to the Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA), California is responsible for 13% of the United States’ gross domestic product (GDP). The BEA estimated the state’s gross state product for 2008 to be $1.85 trillion” slice it how you want thats a nice chunk.

    and we get back something like 75 percent on every dollar we sent east. we are a donor state, although I suspect new york is too. as for the number of bart cars. I didnt choose the number, im just telling you what the plan is ok?im sure bart knows how many cars its wants.

    Joey Reply:

    I beg to differ. I think SF could stand to learn a lot from other cities’ successes/failures. Of course, like anywhere, everything has to be adapted to local conditions, but there are many valuable lessons to be learned.

    jimsf Reply:

    My point again to mr new york, is that what it is, is. and it so happens that not every city is the same, due to geography. of course he missed that. look at chicago, they have more of a hub and spoke pattern, the dfw metropex has two hubs, and is a huge sprawling area, ny york has corridors, manhattan is long and narrow and so is long island, boston like chicago is more hub and spoke,
    I think shoveling snow maked people cranky.

    jimsf Reply:

    now i burned my toast.

    jimsf Reply:

    Joey Reply:
    December 31st, 2009 at 1:06 pm

    But it’s difficult to deny that BART is pushing fringe extensions while the core system is already strained to capacity.

    yes they are. that is what they are doing. and they plan to increase capacity by cramming more people into train cars, and using more exit doors to reduce dwell times.
    thats the plan. but bart wants to go to san jose and the the san jose people want bart to come to them so thats where they are going. I don’t know how else to explain it.

    Joey Reply:

    But this begs the question: why are they pushing additional riders onto the overcrowded system before acquiring new rolling stock to deal with the ridership increase?

    jimsf Reply:

    Joey Reply:
    December 31st, 2009 at 1:36 pm
    But this begs the question: why are they pushing additional riders onto the overcrowded system before acquiring new rolling stock to deal with the ridership increase?

    remember it will take years of construction before any of these new lines opens. They will have the new fleet first. Car production 2016 the details are here

    I dont know the opening date of the sjc and liv exts, off the top of my head but I doubt its prior to that.

    and its looks like they want a 1000 car fleet. itll be nice to have the new cars and 2016 isnt far off in bay transit terms. I can wait to see the new cars.

    Joey Reply:

    And how long do you think it will take to finish the new fleet procurement?

    jimsf Reply:

    I dont know it doesnt say, but itll be done looooon before those extesnions are done thats for sure. The cars they buy are not going to be compatible with the existing cars and theexisting cars are on their last legs, so fairly quickly. Test cars arrive in 2014, and new cars into service 2016. when are the extensions due to open? I cant find it.

    jimsf Reply:

    ah well, heres part of it. the first segment, the warm springs extension which only ads one station, is due to open in 2014, same time the test cars arrive. The will likely put the test cars into service on the richmond fremont line to a limited degree.. I dont figure the santa clara line would be done anytime before 2020-2025

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    The spokes radiating out of Chicago or New York or London or Sydney or Tokyo or Paris or…. are long narrow corridors. San Franciscans like to think they are extra super duper special. There’s palm trees because it’s warm in the winter. That’s major difference between Chicago or New York or London or Sydney or Tokyo or Paris or… Though San Francisco is more like Philadelphia or Boston or Liverpool or Melbourne or…

    Chris Reply:

    Not all of us think we’re superduper special like Jim, but we are unfortunately the minority (or at least not as loud). I just want good service, I don’t expect “different” service that’s crappier, just because we’re “special.”

    jimsf Reply:

    Chris Reply:
    December 31st, 2009 at 5:48 pm
    Not all of us think we’re superduper special like Jim, but we are unfortunately the minority (or at least not as loud). I just want good service, I don’t expect “different” service that’s crappier, just because we’re “special.

    and you both continue to miss the point.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    The only point you seem to be making is that The Bay Area is extra extra special and shouldn’t even consider solutions other places find work quite well. Places that are very very similar to the Bay Area.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    Jim: okay, Chicago has a hub and spoke system. That’s why nobody uses rail there except to get to and from the Loop. The good systems are those that aren’t hub and spoke, except in the suburbs; the urban parts get networks.

    As for a 1,000-car fleet: New York City manages to do with 6,400 cars, even though its subway ridership is about 15 times higher than BART’s. The Tokyo subway manages to do with 3,700 cars, with 30 times the ridership of BART.

    jimsf Reply:

    okay let me start over. the only point im trying to make is that I know how its gonna work out and i that im not surprised, or confused over the decisions being made, that you seem to think are so controversial. Its been a long long chain of events/decisions that have developed over 4 decades, and im trying to tell you why or what, the thinking is/was behind those decisions. Im not saying they are the best decisions, only that they have been THE decisions. I’m not at all surprised by barts choices. they are doing what they said they would do, and we all know, in the bay area, in fact, have been waiting, for bart to do just what they are doing and that is to finish what they started.
    and the “specialness” of the bay area and norther cali in gerneral, is well how can I explain it, its ingrained in our culture, its a thing, I dont know what to call it. you know, texans have it, although its different, new yorkers have their own version. for lack of a better work, ill call it attitude, but not with a negative connotation. Also, most older school cities chicago and new york, etc, have a different approach to large projects. Do huge groups of people show up at the new york city hall to have public debate on the amount of shade Mrs Johnson’s new deck is going to cast on Mr. Changs rose garden?

    we start with that and move up from their. every community, every town, every neighborhood, every little interest group along the way feels entitled to have input, where I doubt new york or chi, would put up with it. So when east coco co demands their bart, and east alameda demands the bart, bart has to listen.
    I see nothing going on that is anything but what I have expected to go on all along.
    There’s no “listening to other cities” involved even if there should be. Everything here is done that way. would new york still be working to fix a bridge 25 year after it was damaged?

    if 9 11 happened here, it would take 15 years just to come to an agreement on what to do, and then the design process would start.

    jimsf Reply:

    Ah here it is this is chock full of all the stuff ive been hearing over the decades, theres soemthing for everyone. I dont know what masochistic soul had the patience to put all this on paper, but here it is, and there’s your geary subway. Note the purplish express line from richmond to sf, bart has talked about that line recently although this map shows caltrain will do it. but that will be one of the capacity increasers. This map says 2030, but it will actually be 2050. and that tube, thats the multi mode tube bart wants to build. so there you go. happy now? Its going to happen. but first, bart is going to finish what it promised- the eastbay and to ring the bay ( or die trying)

    Chris Reply:

    Having something on the map doesn’t mean it’s “going to happen” Jim. BART maps from the 50’s and 60’s and 70’s and 80’s show a line on Geary, yet don’t show lines to Milbrae, Pleasanton, Livermore, or Bay Point. Yet, guess what?

    Joey Reply:

    TBH, I think the most important thing is serving downtown Livermore.

    jimsf Reply:

    I agree. options for good tod there.

    Rafael Reply:

    If BART wants to extend the line to downtown Livermore via the UPRR ROW, it may have a problem. That railroad already turned down such a deal once before, in east CoCo county. That’s why eBART will use the recently widened I-4 median to reach Antioch.

    Rafael Reply:

    Also, the UPRR ROW (including the old SP ROW) through Livermore may well be needed for a future ACE upgrade if – as seems likely – funding for dedicated express HSR tracks through Altamont Pass does not materialize in the foreseeable future.

    jimsf Reply:

    I would think the ideal thing to do would be to have an intermodal ACE/HSR/BART station located in downtown livermore.

    Joey Reply:

    Depending on its implementation, Altamont HSR may replace ACE entirely.

  6. morris brown
    Dec 27th, 2009 at 13:22

    Well the SJ Mercury, which has been a huge support of this boondoggle, has just published an article titled:

    Internal Affairs: The wonderful, wacky year that was

    Note the last section — December: last sentence.

    It looks the Mercury has finally awakened to reality. BTW, Prop !A, demanded that HSR be fully self supportable without subsidies. Of course, as we have seen, Prop 1A doesn’t seem to mean much in the way of what is supposed to happen and what will happen.

    1. No business plan — where today is even a perr review?
    2. Certified EIR — well it was certified, but no longer.
    3. Will it meet 2 hr. 40 minutes from SF to LA…. looks really doubtful.
    4. Will there be only 24 stations? Seems like a push for many more
    5. Terminate in SF at the TBT — not if Kopp has anything to say about that.

    I’m sure thee are others.. Happy New Year Everybody.


    (SJ Mercury)

    The state Assembly gave an early present to freshman John Perez, a Los Angeles Democrat, who’s been tapped to become the chamber’s first openly gay speaker. There was coal for the Santa Clara Valley Water District (aka the Golden Spigot) after a judge ruled it had illegally collected a fee that makes up about a fifth of its budget. And the agency designing California’s high-speed rail program admitted that fares will be much higher and ridership lower than earlier projections, while the cost of the project has risen by nearly $10 billion. But officials still insist the line will be profitable. They also probably believe in Santa Claus.

    jimsf Reply:

    LOL newspapers are the last people on earth who should be criticizing others about profitability. Most news articles now are written by journalism school newbies who can’t form a proper paragraph or spell a word without using spellcheck. They just hack up whatever they think will get a headline. Newspapers, with the exception of maybe the NYT ( which I rarely read but when I have Im amazed at how it is actually full of real news and information – so weird!) are so poorly written and researched now they ake my high school paper look like pulizter prize winner.

    morris brown Reply:

    What a ridiculous comment — … newspapers are the last people on earth who should be criticizing others about profitability.

    Newspapers are private institutions not pubic ones spending public taxpayers dollars.

    Rafael Reply:

    Hooray for pubic institutions!

    Robert Cruickshank Reply:

    Two things:

    1. “BTW, Prop 1A, demanded that HSR be fully self supportable without subsidies.”

    Just read through AB 3034, which became Prop 1A, and I don’t see that anywhere in the bill. I do see a provision saying that the Prop 1A bond money cannot be used for operating or maintenance costs, but that does not prohibit further government funds from being used to subsidize those things, and I would fight any proposal to create such a prohibition.

    2. The Mercury News article failed to understand the business plan – fares could be higher and ridership could be lower, but the system would indeed still be profitable, according to their own studies, which are plausible given the fact that Spain has “high” fares and has had no problems generating operating surpluses. Neither has Taiwan, actually. The problem in Taiwan was that there was so much private debt used to build the system that it became impossible to generate enough ridership quickly enough to pay back the investors. The Mercury News’s problem is that it has no global knowledge of HSR whatsoever, and so they easily fall into the “trains = boondoggle” mentality that we have so often discredited.

  7. jimsf
    Dec 27th, 2009 at 13:39

    time for work. gotta work with no voice . ugh. guess Ill just point and gesture all day. happy railroading all.

  8. nick
    Dec 27th, 2009 at 18:31

    I live in the UK and we are starting to have the high speed debate here now. The article in the Sunday Times re the Chilterns (not too far from me) you referred to is very misleading. It seems that opponents of high speed rail can make up any figure they want to justify their opposition in this case £60 billion gbp ! Give me a break ! I think 70 miles of CTRL2 cost about £6 billion so I guess it is now twice as far to Scotland as it used to be.

    We also have a ridiculous situation similar to yours whereby the UK treasury add about 1/3 more to the cost of any public projects just in case they overrun but it becomes a self fuilfilling prophecy because after all who doesnt spend their budget ? If you did you would get less next time !

    I think that the idea that you add costs based on waht the inflation rate might be or what possible cost overuns could be you swiftly run into fantasy land where you done know what anything is going to cost. If the government says inflation will be 5% before it is then it will be because everyone will ask for at least 5% more if they think they are going to fall behind.

    I dont understand why anyone would thing that either the UK or California projects will overrun or that indeed they will overrun any more than road and airport projects. And even with the fictitious £10 billion added on to hsr in california it is still expected to be profitable. Also I read that £40 billion has been allocated to repairing the US highway network yet no-one suggests that anyone other than the taxpayer should fund it ! the double standard remains. here in the UK the airlines are criticising hsr but yet they dont pay any tax at all on fuel.

    My suggestion for the usa would be to charge the road users the $40 billion in fuel tax because the lack of repairs stems from not enough money being raised from road users, the opposite of here in the UK ! You could then INVEST the $40 billion into hsr instead of SUBSIDIZING the road network ! As an aside I dont understand why some Americans start metephorically throwing tea into Boston harbor every time someone mentions raising taxes ! Things have to be paid for somehow ! To be fair, Brits, canadian and Australians are quite similar we are all very negative these days. We have a different viewpoint to the Europeans and Chinese too when it comes to doing things in the long term interest of the country which may no necessarily raise a profit !

    Who says transport has to make money anyway ? Most people dont travel for the heck of it they goes places on business and holiday and generate economic activity and people who use public transport bring less environmental costs and allow others to drive on roads less congested than they would have been without public transport. London wouldnt function at all without it

    Rafael Reply:

    Unfortunately, the oil lobby is a lot stronger in the US than it is in the UK, even though both countries produce a lot of the stuff. The main reason for this appears to be the way political campaigns are funded in the US.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    Europe has been a lot more sensible about road taxes than the US going back to the 1910s, when it passed higher gas tax laws. In the 1920s, Churchill blasted the idea, common in the US then as now, that gas taxes and other user fees should only go toward road construction; he said it would be an infringement on both common sense and the authority of Parliament.

  9. jimsf
    Dec 27th, 2009 at 18:58

    ok i come home to get my cold med on my break and my building is on fire. all is well though… then I find out that this shooting occurred not 50 ft from my ticket window – on my night off, and my co worker is so traumatized! all the pax had to hit the floor and then he had to barricade everyone in the back storeroom!

    Rafael Reply:

    Excite plus that I’m sure you could have done without. Glad to hear no-one died, but Jeez Louise!

    jimsf Reply:

    im taking tomorrow off. still sick and and really sick over the fact that management hasn’t bothered to check with the staff at our office or shown any concern whatsoever.

    its all about safety and security, until they have to spend a nickel. we have been asking for safety glass or bullet proof glass for 10 years in our office, which sits on a dock in a dark parking lot. we have new clerks that are already afraid to work there. I have to say, i talked to my co worker and he is so freaked out and they havent even called to check on him. Im so livid Im not calling anyone because as you may have noticed, I have a mouth on me and I dont’ want to get myself fired. but Ill tell you what Im sure going to send a letter to washington. and ill bet you 100 bucks I can write a letter so good it’ll get not only into joe boardmans hands, but joe bidens hands too.

    I have to not think about it cuz it makes me flip out. sorry just venting.
    but can you imagine the terror — youve got a lobby full of passengers and next door a fight breaks out and 20— 20 rounds, and 2 people shot including a 12 yo. it happens 50 feet from us. my coworker is so nice and he’s new, I feel like I wanna kick someones ass for not even showing any concern about it.

    id better stop.

    we put up this all the time.

    its all lip service. I wonder if there is a pre determined distance the that bullets have to miss us by, before they worry about our safety.

    Rafael Reply:

    Sorry to hear you’re still sick. Btw, bullet-resistant glass is actually a thick sandwich of glass and polymer layers. Special white glass is more transparent than the usual greenish stuff, but it’s much more expensive. I hope that between your letter and your union local, you can persuade Amtrak to spend some of its ARRA dollars on keeping you, your co-workers and your customers alive in the mean streets of SF.

    Also check out this fascinating super-slow-motion video of bullets impacting various surfaces, made for a supplier of armored cars. Nice soundtrack, too.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    There’s the other technological solution, ticket kiosks. Be careful of what you wish for, if it’s too expensive to keep the bus stop open they’ll find other ways to do it.

    jimsf Reply:

    my station had to close after a flood one year, it took them 6 months to get it open and they had to reopen it because the customers where throwing a fit. we do an amazing amount of sales there with only the three of us and one machine. that station is way to profitable.

    I think they decided not to put any money into it sense were moving to tbt in 5 years.

    they are cheap that way. they’ll play the odds with our lives, that one of us wont get shot in the next five years.

    it took a shooting in the oakland station, before they got their glass.
    then a while later, there was a shooting in the emeryville lobby.
    and that when they got their glass.

    but this shooting was on port property and 50 or 60 feet away, not right in the lobby. so you know, it doesnt count.
    imstil most angry about the fact that as of tonight, not one manager bothered to call my co worker. to check on him. I mean come on. god…. Serenity NOW lol.
    stupid effers. Theyre just glad it didnt happen on my shift. the other guy is new and still on probation so he’s afraid to say anything even though he’s a wreck. ( very sweet and not the type whos built for random gunfire) anyway. back to bed.

    keep the nimbys at bay while im gone.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    that station is way to profitable.

    It’s a ticket office for a bus stop. It sells a lot of tickets but it doesn’t make a profit.

    not one manager bothered to call my co worker. to check on him

    Not in the manager’s job description to call. wouldn’t want to start a jurisdictional fight would you?

    jimsf Reply:

    according to management “safety is the number one concern”. I guess that’s not the same as “being concerned about safety.”

    jimsf Reply:

    and its not a ticket office for a bus stop. We do everything Penn station does except express shipments. and we do more in the way travel services than any other station in the district when it comes to booking rail passes and big itineraries.
    I’m happy to remind everyone, especially new yorkers. That the fine people and readers of conde Naste rated san fran , once again, number one tourist destination, thats 17 years…. in a row… thank you. and our ticket office reflects those demographics. it not a ticket office for a bus stop.

    hmm guess im feeling a little better today.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    safety is the number one concern

    I’m sure there was a shooting somewhere in Portland Maine or Portland Oregon recently. Does that mean Amtrak should bulletproof the ticket counter in San Diego? Someone managed to set his underwear on fire while he was flying to Detroit. Does that mean Detroit should ban fire? How many minutes after the shooting should Amtrak management been installing bulletproofing? How do you know they aren’t putting it out to bid tomorrow?

    We do everything Penn station does

    The only reason it exists is to have a pleasant place for people to pick up their tickets and wait for the bus. Penn Station is where people go to have a pleasant place to pick up their tickets and wait for the train. Places people wait for buses are bus stations. Places people wait for trains are train stations.

    It does do Thruway bus service. Penn Station NY, Penn Station Newark and Penn Station Baltimore managed to get good connections to the local mass transit and don’t need Thruway buses. Very clever of the PRR to put stations where people can get to them. Try waiting for a bus inside Penn Station in NY you will be waiting for a very very long time. There are places in Penn Station Newark to wait for buses, it’s the other reason why Penn Station in Newark is noted for it’s good design, integration with PATH, the buses, local and long distance, subway, taxis, private cars, pedestrians, there’s lots of pedestrians…..

    jimsf Reply:

    I have no idea what your point is with that last part.

    we are a ticket office. just like an american airlines ticket office in union square etc. a customer service location. if a san francisco resident need to do do an exchange or refund, why should they have to travel to oakland to do it?

    If tourists from around the world ( a large if not largest part of our base) are staying at hotels and hostel here in downtown sf, where are they going to go to get their rail passes, and do their trip planning?
    Where are they going to get the knowledge that I have on getting them around the state to the various points of interest.
    I can tell you that I am the best at it. Its my specialty. and that is why they need a pleasant place to do business in san francisco.
    its not just a place to pick up tickets an wait. I know you people on the east coast are hard and hurried. but out here people actually appreciate pleasant things and the reason our customers love amtrak is because we offer them personal service that they aren’t going to get at the airlines or grey hound.
    Who finds the late night arrival, new in town, a reasonable hotel at midnight?
    I do.
    Who keeps the lobby open late for a little old lady who’s ride is late after dark? me.
    who recently stayed until 4 am for a late train to make sure the blind guy had someone wiating for him and who found him a hotel at 4am after his hotel cancelled him? I did.
    who gets the cabs for people? me
    who disseminates all the muni info? the bart info? the restaurant advice, the hotel advice,

    who makes sure they know that theres a storm coming and yosemite will be muddy so dress appropriately

    how many people everyday try to use the kiosk and give up. enough that I can tell you we may as well un plug it.

    who puts the ticket stock in the kiosk? the magic ticket stock fairy?

    ph and by the way, who is going to make sure the buses are properly dispatched and who is going to be here to deal with the problems traffic delays, bridge closures, bus stop changes, makeing sure a wheelchair equipped bus is coming for the 4pm for the disable passenger.

    whom, when the buses are late due to traffic has to round everyone up and escort them to another location to meet the bus so it can make up time.

    whos there at night when the new driver bypasses and leaves passngers behind. who calls santa barbara to get the bus to come back. ( three companies operate thru sfc)

    who checks the bags and escorts the blind guy to the bus
    should I go on?

    a pleasant place to wait my ass. I just make it look easy.

  10. morris brown
    Dec 27th, 2009 at 19:33

    One of the constant themes from Robert has been, we must build HSR now, because the future population estimates will create far greater demands on transportation infrastructure, requiring more airport runways, highways etc. This is been a central theme of the Authority argument for the project, that building HSR will be far cheaper than building more highways and runways.

    The future population estimates has been central to ridership projections and route selection for the HSR project.

    However, are these estimates going to prove at all valid?

    Wendell Cox (a nationally known and expert in demographics — Oh yes he was co-author of the Reason HSR report, but demographics are his true field)

    So I suggest your read his article at:

    Titled: The Decade of the South: The New State Population Estimates

    From this article as it pertains to California is the following:

    Moving Around the West (and Away from California): Most states in the West have also gained domestic migrants in the 2000s, with the exceptions of Alaska, Hawaii and California. California is the real story in the West, having lost nearly 1.5 million domestic migrants, a population greater than that of the city of San Diego. In 2000, California lost nearly 100,000 domestic migrants and for the fourth year in a row led the nation in net domestic out-migration. This includes 2006, when not even Louisiana’s catastrophic hurricanes could drive as many people away as California. During the first year of the decade, California lost only 45,000 net domestic migrants. By 2007, as the center of the worldwide housing bubble, California’s losses were 7 times that amount. In 2009, even with depressed migration rates associated with the recession, out migration more than doubled between 2001 and 2009.
    California is simply not the draw that it used to be. There was a time, in the late 1930s, that the state tried to bar “Okies” from moving to the state, legislation wisely declared unconstitutional by the Supreme Court. Things have certainly changed. The latest Internal Revenue Service data indicates that every year during the 2000s, Oklahoma gained net domestic migrants from California.
    Outside California, there has been healthy domestic in-migration in the West. However, California’s losses cancelled out more than 80% of the West’s gains during the decade. Much of the movement within the region was internal, with Californians shifting to markets where housing was less expensive (but still expensive), such as Arizona, Nevada, Washington and Oregon. More recently the movement to the housing bubble ground zero states of Arizona and Nevada, have all but disappeared, with far smaller gains in Arizona and a small net loss in Nevada in 2009.

    In one year (2007), California lost more domestic migrants than all of the other states of the West gained. Domestic migration in the West remains largely about households moving around within the region: from California to other states, with a far smaller number arriving from elsewhere in the nation.


    Now for sure, domestic migration away from California is only part of future population projections, but it must cast a large shadow on all those millions and millions more California residents currently being stated as gospel California isn’t the poster child it once was, drawing everyone to our State.

    Raising taxes is only going to make California even less attractive, and spending billions on HSR isn’t going to solve any large problems either.

    Chris Reply:

    We gained almost 400,000 people this year (net), in spite of more than 100,000 person loss from domestic outmigration. That means that births and immigration outpaced domestic outmigration and deaths by 5 to 1, in arguably the worst year that modern day California has ever seen. We’ve added more than 5 million this decade. Unless we’re preparing for a complete meltdown or dramatic decreases in the state’s birth rate (keep in mind that even Michigan and Ohio gained population this decade), just based on our size alone we’re going to see millions more residents over the next twenty years.

    And, yes, Cox is nationally “known,” but he’s certainly not nationally respected by any legitimate demographics expert or data-gathering institution. He is (in)famous indeed, as a corporate shill to the last drop.

    khengsiong Reply:

    From the article you cited…
    In coastal California, house prices remained above historic norms, even at the largest “bubble burst” losses,” and there are recent indications that unhealthy price escalation has resumed. Much of the West and most of the country is far more affordable. This would suggest that coastal California’s domestic migration losses will continue and rise in the future.

    By contrast, in much of the rest of California and the other “ground zero” states of Florida, Arizona and Nevada house prices have returned to historic norms, which suggests that after the recession, strong domestic in-migration could resume.

    I take this to mean that Central Valley would record a domestic in-migration in future. Perhaps the people in this region deserve better infrastructure, including HSR.

  11. adirondacker12800
    Dec 27th, 2009 at 20:02

    Britain, France, and Spain have extensive experience with terrorism and train safety, including deadly attacks on some train systems in recent years

    I’m sure Rep. Carolyn McCarthy (D-NY-4) would be able to give some insights to the TSA if asked. Her experience dates to 1993.

    Other incidents in the US aren’t very recent. The Black Tom explosions, which damaged the Statue of Liberty, shattered windows in Philadelphia and was heard in Maryland, was in 1916. Though that wasn’t terrorism, it was more sabotage. Japan has a bit of experience too.

    Andre Peretti Reply:

    The French anti-terrorist services rely more than their US counterparts on infiltrating islamist networks with arabic-speaking agents. This often enables them to arrest terrorists and seize bombs before they are used.
    Since Scotland Yard now collaborates with French police, the islamists can no longer rely on their London sanctuary. Fleeing to “Londonistan”, as the French called it, is no longer as easy as it used to be.
    Unknown to most Americans: even in the deep of the freedom fries period, the US and French anti-terrorist services kept on working together.

  12. synonymouse
    Dec 27th, 2009 at 21:09

    Proposition 13 is helping to stabilize middle-class population in California. Without it welfare state spending and property taxation would have ballooned out of control. Proposition 13 was, for the little guy, a lucky by-product of typical business machinations to pay no taxes.

    California’s dumb nanny laws are an incentive to leave. You can’t use the fireplace on the coldest night of the year – PG&E should be required to lower rates on these occasions since the public is being legally coerced to use their monopoly. But Bay Area politicians have been in PG&E’s pocket for a century.

    You can get high as a kite on medical marijuana but you can’t own a gerbil. Legal everywhere else. California merits its reputaion as dippy land.

    @ Jim I agree completly that BART should butt out of Geary Street but it won’t. BART’s hubris knows no bounds: its manifest destiny is to dominate the entire Bay Area, or so goes the legend in its own mind. Muni is no match for the BART machine. Muni wasn’t even powerful enough to demand a decent Central Subway.

    Chris Reply:

    How has BART not “butted out” of Geary Street? The original 50’s plans, the plans passed with the BART vote, and every plan since then has had Geary as a future extension, and still today it’s listed as a future extension, but not something realistically being pursued in any way for at least the next 20-30 years. Butting out means what? Finally taking the print off of the official plans?

    jimsf Reply:

    barts hubris is no match for the people of san francisco though. Id like to see bart go up against the no dig geary merchants and no growth richmond dist. homeowners.
    Youd see fear in barts eyes….

    Chris Reply:

    Again, the merchants that are anti-BRT and LRT wrote an op-ed a couple years ago asking for a BART subway. Part of their current opposition is because they feel that the street deserves a “subway or nothing”.

  13. jimsf
    Dec 28th, 2009 at 00:36

    ok so ive been over on the pro hanford stop pages, and the guys over there are totally psyched about getting a stop so Ive been cheering them on, but I told them that theres a station limit, so if they want one they’ll have to steal someone elses right, and we were comparing nimbyisms, and I says, hey you should steal Palo altos’ cuz they are being total pains in the ass….

    I said go hanford! then came up with their new battle cry 8 you knwo the “we wanna pitcher…not a belly itcher…chant)
    well theres will be
    “We want Hanford, better stop than Stanford!” woo hoo. Gooooo Hanford!

    gosh I love their enthusiasm. makes we want to go down there for lunch.

  14. jimsf
    Dec 28th, 2009 at 00:38

    see its all about strategy, once PA realizes that HNF is trying to move in then its ON!

  15. jimsf
    Dec 28th, 2009 at 01:08

    ok well im too wound up. nyquil time. just remember everyone. the theme of the day is,
    we don’t get what we want, we only get what we get.

    Rafael Reply:

    “God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.” – Irish proverb

    jimsf Reply:

    oh yes that’s a good one. did you see that Seinfeld episode “serenity now!!! hehe. for real.

    Turns out i have touch of pneumonia and fever, so I ‘m not up for the great HSR debate ( or the geary bart debate) for the next couple days. whne you feel like crap you don’t really care about curve radii and tehachapis lol.

    ill check in tomorrow for any big new news.

    to summarize:
    hsr yes
    nimbys no
    bart to livermore yes
    bart on geary no
    french trains yes
    hanford station yes
    what did forget…
    oh yes tbt yes.
    management sucks,
    I think thats everything.

  16. Ken
    Dec 28th, 2009 at 20:47

    One thing that bugs me about HSR projects is that while a great idea, a lot of the portion of the money would end up going to foreign consortiums who have had the experience in high speed rail for decades.

    Instead, I think we should be looking into some great ideas that our own countrymen have innovated in their visions of high speed rail. Instead of relying on Japanese, French, and Germans, we should be helping American innovators’ ideas for a new and more efficient approach to high speed rail.

    Take for example, the Tubular Rail idea. I saw this on the Discovery Channel a little while ago, and it’s a brilliant idea. The high cost of high speed rail isn’t the trains, it’s building the rails. But this ingenious American guy, figured out that if the rail was on the trains itself and it passes through O rings, you wouldn’t need to spend billions on laying down tracks.

    Check this youtube video of that Discovery Channel segment. It’s darn awesome!

    If NIMBYs and cost overruns are going to be an issue, maybe we can look into this alternative? Said guy just needs a bunch of testing land to prove that his idea would work. We have a bunch dead space out in Mojave. Let him test it here, and if it works why not spend the $8 billion stimulus in funding this guy’s project…it’ll be an American innovation and an American approach to high speed rail without relying on Japanese, French, or German technology.

    Chris Reply:

    I’m perfectly fine with buying a cheaper, established, known HSR technology from the French or Japanese or whoever. God knows they buy enough California software and entertainment goods. Reinventing the wheel is a good way to spend FAR more money and guarantee failure (see BART for an example of American expertise at homegrown rail tech).

    Ken Reply:

    Are they cheap? If you factor in all the time and money needed to lay down tracks in environmental reviews and NIMBY factors, I think we’ll run out of money before even a single track is put to ground. Considering that, I think the Tubular Rail is a great approach to get around cost over-runs and NIMBY-isms that is plaguing this country left and right.

    Besides, it does no harm to have a little faith in American innovation. Despite what you think, there are many brilliant people here and there are brilliant people here in the States who want high speed rail as much as you and I do.

    Joey Reply:

    Sure, if you’re willing to put another decade and another $50 billion into it…

    Chris Reply:

    We have plenty of brilliant people – in other industries that we excel at. No need to spend billions more just to be number one in everything.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    Is tubular rail cheap. It is if you ignore how much it costs to build. He wants to have three rings around every trains. Trains are 400 feet long which means you have to have a ring every 100 feet. That’s 50 a mile. Or 5000 in 100 miles. or 20,000 in the 400 miles or so between SF and LA. You would have to build each of those very sturdy stanchions, and put motors in each of them along with all the associated controls for 2 million a stanchion to come in at the price conventional HSR is going to cost. Throw in right of way costs you’re probably down to 1.5 million a stanchion.

    Conventional rail holds up the train over inches of rail, he’s not talking about putting the rail under the train and the wheels on the ground he’s talking about welding some enormous girders to the bottom of the cars and then slinging them 100 feet and getting it to precisely line up… Doesn’t sound cheap or easy to me.

    AndyDuncan Reply:

    Ugh, ok, tubular rail. This crap makes maglev look downright easy. First: you have ridonculously large turning radii, on the order of miles. The tubular rail’s “designer” gets around this with using mostly straight lines plus, and I’m not kidding, turntables. Frigging turntables. That is not a transportation solution.

    Second, the torsional rigidity required for a train to remain level as it travels through the supports is pretty astonishing. In fact, even with an incredibly rigid train, you’re still going to have some bobbing between the supports. Especially in the front and rear cars. Can you say vomit comet?

    Third, instead of putting a half-dozen motors in the power cars, or two dozen motors distributed between the cars in an EMU setup, you now need a power motor on every concrete support in the system. If you had an upright support ever 100ft, that’s over forty thousand motors in an 800 mile system. 40k motors distributed throughout the state. You can’t pull the train into the shop to fix the motors, you have to send a crew out to BFE to swap it out, and you might need to put a section of track out of service.

    Which wouldn’t be so bad except that (fourth), you basically can’t have switches. Sure you can use a turntable (see above), but you can’t have switches in any kind of normal sense where the train can run through the switch. Not unless your switch is a superstructure several square miles in area (due to the turning radius). No express tracks, no more than one platform track at each station.

    The tubular rail idea is one of those things that gives transit planning a bad name (see also: PRT)

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    … he’s showing two tracks so they could have two side platforms at each station…..

    AndyDuncan Reply:

    er, yes, one platform track per direction.

    To call tubular rail a pipe dream would be too generous, this is pure idiocy.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    Couldn’t they install one of those elevator thingys at stations where they need to have more platforms? Sound cheap and easy to maintain, an elevator for trains. Along with slinging 100 foot long railroad bridges around at 150 miles an hour should be a piece of cake….. The cars are going to have to as strong as 100 foot long railroad bridges. There also appears to be a slot in the top. Don’t know if that’s for alignment or for power supply to the trains. Power on the train would be nice to have for the control systems, lighting, air conditioning …should be a piece of cake to get this to all come together at 150 MPH.

    antimony biscuit Reply:

    How is it avoiding the cost of the rails anyway? There’s got to be as much embodied energy in those huge concrete towers with rebar and steel wheels as in a pair of metal beams resting on concrete blocks on gravel. Isn’t most of the cost in earthworks and right of way acquisition anyway, which will be the same here?

  17. Spokker
    Dec 28th, 2009 at 20:48


  18. synonymouse
    Dec 28th, 2009 at 21:54

    BART-grade stupidity lives on in the Palmdale-Tehachchapis detour. It is the 21st century salute to Indian broad gauge.

    Joey Reply:

    Try to make some sense.

  19. freepubtrans
    Dec 30th, 2009 at 06:18

    HSR will fail if urban transit continues to suck.

Comments are closed.