Meg Whitman Criticizes High Speed Rail

Jul 9th, 2010 | Posted by

I can’t say this is an unexpected development, given her right-wing politics and her residency in Atherton, but Meg Whitman criticized the HSR project yesterday in a short statement emailed to the Sacramento Bee:

“Meg believes the state cannot afford the costs associated with high-speed rail due to our current fiscal crisis,” said the Republican gubernatorial candidate’s spokeswoman Sarah Pompei in an e-mailed statement.

That’s the entire statement, so there’s not much else to analyze here, but I think it says all we need to know. Whitman is embracing a Hooverite approach to the state’s crisis, believing that we should spend less money now even though doing so would crush our hopes of economic recovery. Whitman apparently thinks we should not have built the bay bridges, Shasta Dam, or the Central Valley water project during the Depression.

Further, this statement indicates a lack of awareness on the part of the Whitman campaign about HSR and state finances. California voters already approved $10 billion in bonds for the project. We’re not going to sell all $10 billion tomorrow, and what we do sell will create economic activity and generate tax revenues that will help pay the borrowing costs (which are fairly low even with the state’s ongoing budget crisis). The rest of the construction cost will not be coming out of the state budget, and when we get the federal contribution – which we will get, this current fit of Hooverism by Congress notwithstanding – California will get a massive economic stimulus that adds revenue to our state budget without any additional cost.

Whitman also ignores the recent US Conference of Mayors report that indicated Los Angeles alone would receive an economist boost of nearly $10 billion from the construction and operation of high speed rail. Whitman, a billionaire, apparently believes that California doesn’t really need that kind of economic stimulus.

Whitman is a clever politician who is unlikely to come out and oppose HSR itself. She’s likely to stick to this kind of criticism, the same one made by her Republican primary opponent Steve Poizner, that somehow California cannot afford to build it right now. As we’ve been arguing on this blog for two years, the reverse is true: California cannot afford to not build high speed rail. Our economic recovery and future prosperity depend on it.

  1. Adam Clark
    Jul 9th, 2010 at 10:36
    #1

    well that’s it i’m voting for jerry brown

    synonymouse Reply:

    It won’t matter who is elected governor; the CHSRA scheme is troubled and it stems from an inherent problem with the contemporary political system. That problem can be summed in one word: advertising. The California electorate is so brain-dead it can be brainwashed into voting for anything so long as the propaganda campaign is adequately funded. Example: PG&E slightly underfunded its campaign to get what amounted to a statutory monopoly guarantee. They only missed by a couple of percentage points. Now the water bond issue can be sold with advertising while the marijuana legalization will go down to defeat because the heads don’t have the dough for tv ads.

    The catch with these rammed-thru infrastructure megaprojects is that they are chronically and intentionally underfunded. In short order the call is made to raise taxes, generally on the rich and corporations to keep them going. But as we all know in the real world the well-healed are expert in avoiding taxation. Meanwhile the spending spree continues and ultimately the middle class, not having highrises full of lawyers and accountants to help them, is stuck with the bill.

    Back to mega-Meg’s position on the hsr. I see it as a smart move and one that Jerry Brown may have to emulate in the end. By saying no she forces all the powers, movers, and shakers to come hat in hand to her to prove why the project should be spared the ax. This puts her in a very good position to begin the cost-paring process. hint: if Pacheco survives, the hsr is cut back to SJ and BART Ring the Bay makes its move. Consider that Pelosi, Feinstein, Boxer, Kopp and Diridon are in the twilight of their political careers while Whitman is at the beginning of hers.

    Finally influence-peddling and machination must always have to be answered for. Yeah I am talking about Palmdale. Stop wringing your hands about a tunnel thru the Garlock fault. Put the danger of a disaster in perspective. If you follow the media even a little you will notice that occasionally one of the big-time pundits(the guys who write for papers and networks and get paid for it)will slip in the assertion that it is just a matter of time before jihaders succeed in nuking the US. Now does that prospect make the Tejon tunnels seem a little less worrisome and daunting? You still want to worry about the possibility of repairing some indistinct seismic damage?

    rafael Reply:

    The Garlock fault is considered capable of lurching about 9 feet laterally at some point during the expected lifespan of the foundation of the HSR tracks (i.e. 100 years). Not exactly indistinct.

    synonymouse Reply:

    “is considered capable of” sounds pretty indistinct to me. The Tejon tunnels can both be constructed and maintained and would vastly improve the viability of the hsr.

    Jihaders would try to nuke neither Tejon, nor Tehachapi nor Palmdale. They would target an LA. Nothing indistinct here – such an atrocity is capable of bringing down a government, even changing a political system..

    rafael Reply:

    What exactly would you like? A precise forecast of exactly how much the Garlock fault will lurch in the Tejon Pass area the next time it slips? Perhaps a precise date as well? Get real, seismologists cannot give you answers that precise. Planners need to take into account realistic worst-case scenarios for the relevant time frame.

    Yes, tunnels through Tejon pass could be constructed and maintained. They could also be very badly damaged in a major earthquake, which could lead to very expensive repairs and many months of downtime for the north-south connection. Neither the airlines nor I-5 would be able to fully compensate for the lost capacity during this period.

    Shaving 10-12 minutes off the SF-LA line haul time would make it more competitive but not vastly so, especially because lots of people would likely avoid a mode of transportation that could leave them trapped many miles underground in middle of the Transverse Range when – not if – the Big One hits. Living in California entails seismic risk, but planners have to mitigate that risk.

    Given that LAWA has all but abandoned all hope of developing PMD into a viable relief airport for LAX on the back of the HSR connection, serving Palmdale is no longer a high priority. Sure, there are 150,000 people in that city, but long-distance commuters into LA would just buy homes in Bakersfield instead. LA county might not like that, but this project will be funded primarily by state, federal and private dollars.

    Ergo, I for one would have no problem with a switch to a Tejon Pass route IF AND ONLY IF both the San Andreas and the Garlock faults could be crossed at grade. That would require high speed trains capable of reliably climbing and descending inclines of 6% at useful speeds (~90mph) in any kind of weather while also sustaining 220mph in level terrain. Such trains do not exist at this time, nor are any on the drawing board.

    rafael Reply:

    The risk of terrorism is unfortunately a fact of modern life. Carlos the Jackal tried to blow up a TGV in 1983 by placing a bomb on board, killing 4 and injuring dozens more. There have been no similar attempts against high speed trains since, terrorists appear to have set their sights on subways and commuter trains as well as rail tracks instead. Of course, past experience means little or nothing to a determined terrorist, so the risk cannot be discounted.

    However, we all rely on numerous physical civilian infrastructure systems, most of which are extremely vulnerable and always will be. For obvious reasons, I won’t itemize them here. Now, you could “be afraid!” 100% of the time and give free rein to the Dick Cheneys of the world. Or, you could wonder why al-Qaeda and other terrorist organizations appear to have decided it is not in their interest to attack any such soft targets in the US since 2001. It’s not as if US border security is airtight, plus in a nation of 300 million there will always by a tiny handful that actually sympathize with the murderers.

    Nathanael Reply:

    Magical thinking. “The Tejon Pass tunnels CAN be built and maintained!” You assert this despite detailed evidence to the countrary

    thatbruce Reply:

    Perspective huh? You’ve just raised the spectre of a terrorist attack in the same context of excessively long HSR tunnels through an extensive fault zone. Both (terrorist attack, earthquake) could likely involve a train full of passengers trapped underground and the tunnel rendered unusable for extended periods, and both are arguments against digging excessively long tunnels through an extensive fault zone.

    elfling Reply:

    I know past performance is no guarantee of future results, but we’ve had a lot more significant earthquakes in California in the past 100 years than terrorist attacks.

  2. political_incorrectness
    Jul 9th, 2010 at 10:44
    #2

    So she believes that 3000 lane miles, 80 airport gates and 5 runways is cheaper than $45 billion? I really want to see what she proposes. Is it “something better” than what has been proposed? Typical Republicans sicken me when they propose they have something better and don’t give the details expecting voters to vote for them.

    Bianca Reply:

    It’s the same mindset that thinks that deferring maintenance on infrastructure for 30 years will somehow save money instead of coming back to haunt us when bridges and water mains start falling apart.

    Joel Reply:

    “So she believes that 3000 lane miles, 80 airport gates and 5 runways is cheaper than $45 billion? I really want to see what she proposes. Is it “something better” than what has been proposed?”

    Me too. This is probably why she’s in a statistical tie in recent polling with Jerry Brown: no one really knows the details of their proposals. Until there are some debates and it’s deeper into the campaign season, we’re dealing with concepts.

  3. Emma
    Jul 9th, 2010 at 11:37
    #3

    What a hypocrite. Just a few months ago, heck weeks ago she was firmly behind high-speed rail. But honestly, who cares about Whitman? She is not going to win this race.

    Ben Reply:

    I wish I had as much confidence as you in the success of Jerry Brown but the latest Field Poll had Brown and eMeg essentially tied and Whitman has unlimited money to spend.

    Richard Mlynarik Reply:

    -:¦:-•:*'”*:•.-:¦:-•* FABULOUS * -:¦:- * HIGHLY RECOMMEND -:¦:-•:*'”*:•.-:¦:-

    matt Reply:

    well played

    Reality Check Reply:

    Hey Emma, you said Meg was “firmly behind HSR” weeks ago … how did you come to know this?

    Richard Mlynarik Reply:

    USED ITEM NOT AS DESCRIBED AND WON’T REFUND SHIPPING! AVOID!!!

    elfling Reply:

    I hate it when my politicians won’t refund shipping.

    But, you should have guessed she was Used and Not As Described.

  4. elfling
    Jul 9th, 2010 at 11:59
    #4

    Anyone who thinks the highest and best use of $100 million dollars with no strings attached is TV advertisements extolling their personal greatness is not someone I want spending my tax money.

  5. Spokker
    Jul 9th, 2010 at 12:23
    #5

    EBay really sucks. How much did she have to do with that?

    Ben Reply:

    She was CEO of EBay. She was involved enough to shove an employee and pay a $200K financial settlement as a result: http://www.nytimes.com/2010/06/15/us/politics/15whitman.html . She was also involved enough to benefit from Goldman Sachs while she was CEO of EBay: http://www.salon.com/news/feature/2010/04/12/meg_whitman_goldman_sachs .

    mike Reply:

    Well, she did oversee Ebay’s $3 billion acquisition of Skype, which the promptly proceeded to lose around $1 billion on. Definitely not the kind of person you want in charge of balancing the budget.

  6. Tony D.
    Jul 9th, 2010 at 16:58
    #6

    So much for “Talk to Meg” being for jobs, jobs, jobs and stimulating the economy. But alas, let’s not fret to much over Meg’s supposed position on HSR; even if she does get elected, not even the governor is above the people of this state. And as Robert stated perfectly, we already had an election over this. Imagine the governor coming out against the people; can you say political suicide?

    But her supposed position is a head scratcher. Her former company is a member of the Silicon Valley Leadership Group, and they are wholeheartedly for this project. Perhaps this is Meg’s way of sucking up the NIMBY money from the Peninsula. Oh well; next topic!

    Robert Cruickshank Reply:

    Whitman is getting hit on this already by others across the state; I’ll have a post up here tomorrow from the California Labor Federation on the issue.

    rafael Reply:

    Legally, the next Governor can refuse to sign off on a budget that contains line items he or she does not like. Holding the entire budget hostage to prop 1A appropriations, which the state legislature can only approve if CHSRA’s application meets stringent criteria spelled out in AB3034, would be a tour de force but it could happen.

    Tony D. Reply:

    “Holding the entire budget hostage to prop 1A appropriations.”

    So in reality, I guess Meg could always commit “legal” political suicide ;o)

    Rafael Reply:

    State politicians have been holding the budget process hostage every year for decades now. There’s always a lot of pandering to the base, a lot of counterproductive drama. Voters always blame the other side for the impasse, politicians are very rarely held accountable for their collective failure. The only way to cut this Gordian Knot is to abandon the myth of bipartisan government and eliminate the 2/3 rule for all matters related to tax revenue and spending. If voters don’t like what the party in power is doing, they could and would give the other lot a crack at the whip. The real prospect of either losing or winning actual decision-making power would immediately strengthen the hand of moderates and weaken that of hard core ideologues on both sides.

    Meanwhile, if the HSR project were to become unpopular enough, plenty of people would approve of shelving it indefinitely it by simply refusing to actually appropriate any more bonds. HSR supporters need to understand that the Nov 2008 vote on prop 1A doesn’t mean there aren’t legal ways for voters and the politicians they elect to change their minds. Getting this built will remain an ongoing political battle until the day the first trains actually run.

  7. HSRforCali
    Jul 9th, 2010 at 18:32
    #7

    Robert, you were quoted:
    http://www.mercurynews.com/news/ci_15480413?source=rss&nclick_check=1

    Robert Cruickshank Reply:

    Wow, Mike Rosenberg turned that one around fast. I’ll overlook the common spelling error of my last name, because he used my best quotes. Hot damn.

    For those who are lazy and don’t want to click the link:

    Robert Cruickshank, Californians for High-Speed Rail chairman, noted former Palo Alto Mayor Yoriko Kishimoto, the most vocal bullet train critic in the southern Peninsula’s 21st Assembly District race, lost to two candidates in the June Democratic primary who were more tempered on high-speed rail.

    “If I’m Jerry Brown, I would strongly embrace high-speed rail in the Peninsula and the Bay Area. There’s still reason to believe that most voters there strongly support it,” Cruickshank said. “I would go up to Meg Whitman’s turf in Silicon Valley and say, ‘This is how we’re going to get California back to work.'”

    There was more to it, but that’s certainly the core point.

    I don’t think that HSR will make or break either candidate. But it is a microcosm of their approaches to California’s future. Whitman believes that if we spend less money, layoff more people, and stop planning for the future, we’ll be fine. Jerry Brown doesn’t agree, and although he’s no big spender, he also knows why HSR matters in the bigger context of putting California back to work.

    I also added that most polls indicate Californians agree that government should spend money to produce jobs and economic recovery, and that HSR fits into that framework.

    morris brown Reply:

    Robert you are simply disingenuous in the extreme. To say that Yoriko was vocal anti HSR is simply not true. She was handily beaten by Gordon, who had more experience and Becker, a favorite of the money lobby. Badly out spent. She was probably the most pro-HSR person on the PA council, before they woke up, and she tried to hide her true nature by assuming the chair of the PCC. There she tried to steer things to a “get along position”, but as you well know, since she was so nice to you at the “teach in”, she was really very pro HSR.

    You always go off on those that don’t have the extreme position you take. Lowenthal you claim is anti-hsr. The same is true of Simitian. Hardly the case — I only wish it were indeed true.

    Bianca Reply:

    Morris, I think you’re actually proving Robert’s point. Yoriko Kishimoto was perceived by people who oppose HSR as being pro-HSR, and she was perceived by HSR supporters as someone who waffled and flip-flopped from a supporter to something much more wishy-washy, and thus she was trusted by no one on either side of the HSR issue.

    Eric M Reply:

    Pot calling the kettle black!! I love it.

  8. jimsf
    Jul 9th, 2010 at 19:02
    #8

    First of all Meg Whitman is no more going to be able to pull off her “agenda” any more than Arnold Boobengrabber was able to “go to sac and blow up boxes.” The governor doesn’t have the power to do it and while people complain about the legislature, they are in fact representatives of the people and when it gets down to the nitty gritty, the people of california want all their “stuff.” Each Californian thinks he or she should retain his stuff, and that that other Californian over there should be the one to give up his or her stuff. Knowing this, the politicians spend most of the time pretending as if they are going to give each guy his stuff and take some other guy’s stuff away in order to balance the budget. Then, every summer when reality hits the fan we wind up with no budget… for weeks, or months at which time imaginary money is always found and everybody gets to keep their stuff and life goes on happily ever after. This is what we call the california “dream” Just watch, its going to happen again. Now you may be thinking “sure, but the trick is that we must never wake up or “poof!” it will vanish.” Surprisingly not true. This dream thing works. I wish I had a dollar for every time the east coast media pronounced California dead on arrival, only to have to watch us bounce back with a vengeance. The fact is the only reason we are hurting now is because the whole world is. We will come back sooner, and we will come back better, than anyone else. We do every time. I’m not even worried. All this hand wringing is nothing more than fear mongering and vote pandering by the *ever-sleazy* usual republican suspects. They are such losers, and so out of touch with the majority of people that the only way they can ever win anything anymore is though fear and crisis. The fact is the republican party has absolutely nothing more to offer the average working person beyond a backseat romp with a broken condom and a promise to call you in the morning. They come on strong like grinning cheshire cats offering you candy with one hand while whispering sugar coated nothings in your ear though their toothy yet sinister smiles. “just come with us and we’ll set you free of the big bad government and prosperity shall reign down upon your houses”

    Next thing you know you wake up with mcjob at walmart, a fridge full of e coli tainted produce from mexico, a neighborhood full of crack from arms sales, oil coated seafood and a toybox full of lead for the kids.

    Republicans are the devil. As sure as the pacific sky is blue.

    AS for the dead heat in the polls. Lets keep in mind that Meg has spent millions for months to reach that dead heat and Jerry hasn’t even lifted a finger yet.

    morris brown Reply:

    Your statement ” The governor doesn’t have the power to do it…. makes no sense. The Governor can appoint 5 member of the HSR board. That’s a majority. He literally can exercise complete control.

    Most voters, who are old enough to have lived through Brown’s 2 terms, don’t want to go through that again.

    jimsf Reply:

    by power to “do it” I meant “implement her agenda per her website.” as in her so called “plan.” She can have all the plans she wants but she doesn’t have the power to make lawmakers do her bidding. As for hsr, californians voted for it and did so when we were well into the recession. All Whitman is doing is trying to play all sides of the board at once. just like her ads for white folks say one thing while her ads in spanish say something else. She’s nothing but another sleazy zillionaire who thinks she can buy her way in so that her ego can basque in the glory, while she winds up accomplishing nothing more than maybe getting lucky enough to ride out on the coattails of the recovery that is going to happen anyway no thanks to her. California doesn’t follow the leader when it comes to the tone of the country as touted by the media. California goes ever forth into the future and the rest of the county, tea baggers and all, get dragged along kicking and screaming. We aren’t in the mood for more republican trickery. We had it with George, we had it with Arnold, we don’t need it from Meg. And lets remember that the only reason Arnold (R) was elected is because he was a movie star and had people swooning for that reason alone. Meg’s no star, not by a long shot. That mousy brown hairdo, those frumpy outfits and that dull personality aren’t going get her very far. Brown is smart to lay back for a while and when He’s good and ready he’ll walk right over her. Brown is the right man for the job at this juncture. He understands how sacramento works. He’s not going to walk in the door and make enemies of everyone off the bat. They know they can work with him on an agenda to get things moving again. Meg will be lost in sac.

    Rafael Reply:

    Morris does have a point regarding the composition of the CHSRA board, though. State legislators can only approve or deny prop 1A appropriations requests. It’s up to the board to formulate them.

    Btw, basque -> bask.

    jim Reply:

    But can the Governor fire members of the board? Or do they serve fixed terms?

    This matters. Right now, California HSR is vulnerable. But, once construction starts, it will be a lot harder to kill it. The sunk cost fallacy applies, but visible sunk costs make cancellation hard. If Whitman actually does want to cancel the project, she will need to do that before construction starts, or she will be held responsible for creating ramps to nowhere. So she will have six months. Can she replace enough board members before next summer (when the Central Valley NEPA/CEQA process is supposed to complete)?

    rafael Reply:

    Board members are appointed for four-year staggered terms. Appointments to vacant seats are valid for the remainder of the term.

    http://codes.lp.findlaw.com/cacode/PUC/1/d19.5/2/s185020

    Board members are subject to the Political Reform Act of 1974 (latest update 2006). Basically, this deals with matters of conflicts of interest and financial probity.

    http://www.fppc.ca.gov/Act/2006Act.PDF
    http://www.ucop.edu/ucophome/policies/bfb/bus78/bus78.html

    The upshot is that CHSRA board members cannot be fired simply because the office or body that appointed them no longer likes what they’re doing. There has to be proof of a violation of the Political Reform Act.

    rafael Reply:

    Note, however, that the state legislature could elect to redefine these parameters by amending California public utilities code sections 185020-185024 at any time. How board members are appointed has nothing to do with AB3034(2008), so they could do so without a ballot initiative.

    wu ming Reply:

    just over half of california’s registered voters were under 18 when jerry brown left office in 1982. just because you’re old doesn’t mean the rest of the electorate is.

  9. jimsf
    Jul 9th, 2010 at 19:30
    #9

    Although I must say after today’s bart trip, I have to agree with some of the peninsula nimby posters that bart should in fact serve the peninsula. The correct solution is to finish bart from millbrae to santa clara, eliminated caltrain and implement hsr as planned.T here’s a mulitude of reasons why. I know its all bart haters here but its the right solution and I say that even knowing that replacing caltrain with bart would eliminated amtrak jobs.. still bart needs to be the one down there.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    Why other than riding in a BART train gives you warm fuzzy feelings?

    jimsf Reply:

    well for starters, bart ringing the bay is its manifest destiny and the bay area knows it. We all expect it to happen eventually. and I have no doubt that it will.
    just look at the system map and the gap begs to be closed.
    but beyond that, bart makes sense because
    it makes sense to have at least this single agency that serves the whole traditional bay area. BArt does it well. like it or not. They are the most frequent, most reliable service around and they cover more of the bay than any other agency.
    it makes sense when you think beyond terms of downtown sf to sj. Just like it makes sense to include the central valley in the hsr system it makes sense to have this single system/single ticket/single seat ride to whole traditional bay area. Thats why they called it “bay area” rapid transit.
    further, lets consider some commute patterns and travel times. Often I hear blog dwelling barthaters talk about the horrors of the circuitous route through daly city etc. Well, if you live here you know that the mission and bernal heights (glen park) are very popular residential neighborhoods for silicon valley workers and that getting to caltrain ( and hsr) requires a muni connection. Then consider that a trip from 24th and mission or glen park to PA on bart would take about 40 minutes. from right in your neighborhood to downtown PA. without having to schlep downtown to caltrain first. Meanwhile hsr can serve downtown-peninsuala – san jose. no need to dup with caltrain.

    The travel times are not as bad as you may think. Its 29 minutes from civic center, steps from my front door to SFO -steps from my flight. In fact, bart will be more convenient getting to the airport even with a 29 minute travel time, than hsr will be with a 15 minute travel time because hsr will be a 25 minute walk or 15 minute bus ride from civic center. Its only 27 minutes to san bruno where bart stops right AT Tanforan Center, just steps from target.
    With bart’s southern flyover from millbrae to sfo they will be able to take silicon valley dwellers and hotshots directly into sfo’s international terminal and whisk arriving foreign businessfolk from flight to boardroom in 20-25 minutes.
    and most importantly all the people of all the bay in all bart’s vast territory will have access to all the other people in all the bay in bart’s vast territory. And then we’ll all join hands and sing like the old days

    That’s why. and yes the warm fuzzy feelings too.
    Like it or not, for bay area people, being able to reach all these destinations via one agency is a plus no matter how you slice it.

    Rafael Reply:

    Locals-only BART-around-the-Bay would be no worse than Caltrain IFF the corridor upgrade project is so badly botched that operating regional express trains – or at least executing cross-platform transfers to HSR – is not possible. Clem has published a post on the Top 10 Reasons for Peninsula BART.

    Personally, I think there are cheaper ways to upgrade the corridor and retain valuable regional express service capability in the peninsula. That said, CHSRA would probably quite like to have the PCJPB right of way between Millbrae and 4th & King plus the SF TBT all to itself.

    From BART’s perspective, the more pressing issue may be the redefinition of lines to serve the extension to Santa Clara. San Jose’s commuter catchment area in the East Bay extends roughly north to Hayward and east to Livermore, so a new line between Santa Clara and Dublin/Pleasanton (eventually Livermore) would boost ridership and avoid additional traffic in the already-congested SF-Oak section of the network. However, the wye for the 238/580 line to the Amador Valley is currently incomplete, because to date, BART has focused on commutes into SF. Constructing a short tunnel for a new turnoff would cost some money, but I reckon it would be well spent.

    Among other advantages, ACE upgrades could focus on Altamont Pass and the CV portion. ACE trains could then be stabled between Livermore and Pleasanton, where there’s room, rather than at SJ Diridon, where there’s so little that HSR planners have had to resort to an expensive bi-level station design. Freed-up slots on the Niles-Alviso-San Jose corridor could be used for expanding Amtrak CC or else Dumbarton rail.

    jimsf Reply:

    Yes there a lot of possibilities once you step out of the “all against bart all the time” way thinking. As someone who has been using bart since it opened and as a long, long time bay area person who over the decades has used bay public transit for about 80 percent of transportation needs over a 30 year period, 9 work, shopping, socializing,) I say bart is the best thing going. They do an outstanding job and the extension to san jose plus millbrae to santa clara would put the final jewel in the crown. ( plus the livermore deal) I’d really like to see this happen.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    I say bart is the best thing going.

    You have to get out more. There are other solutions, ones used all over the world, that would serve more people cheaper than BART.

    jimsf Reply:

    I realize that. But we already have bart here. Its a bay area fixture. It makes sense to have it expand to circle the bay as originally planned. And it works for us. We have long established commute patters, bart is used extensively all around for events all over. It serves all the well known regional shopping venues. Sure there are a lot of ways to do it but we should be streamlining things not creating every more balkanization. I vote for bart to circle.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    Why stop there Replace all of MUNI with BART. Lots of people would then be so far away from mass transit they would drive but the ones near a BART stop would have it great. Or the other extemen, why all this nonsense with HSR, just extend BART to San Diego..

    jimsf Reply:

    Do you live in the bay area?

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    What does living there have to do with being able to conceive of something other than BART? probably an advantage since places that aren’t all BART all the time work well. Places that have more than one all encompassing all stops all the time railroad systems.

    jimsf Reply:

    you make the misguided assumption/comment about the 6 people a day who ride from walnut creek to palo alto. Bay areans are very communal. The whole idea of that kind of continuity and connection is something we are very comfortable with. Its sounds a little abstract but its a real thing. People are very comfortable and familiar with bart and would be quick to use it for many needs to many destinations just because its there, and its kind of the thing to do but they are also just as quick to say, “we could take public transit to “x” but well we just take bart to “y” then transfer to “z” and… oh you know forget it lets just drive” “yeh youre right lets just drive” that’s how the conversations goes.

    Joey Reply:

    Transferring would be a helluvalot easier if BART and CalTrain did a minimal amount of coordination.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    Jim you could put StarTrek teletransporters in Walnut Creek and Palo Alto and it might go up toe 12 a day.

    Risenmessiah Reply:

    Hey wouldn’t manifest destiny be VTA moving across the untamed wilds of the South Bay to link up with BART, lol?

    I’ll agree with you though, Jim. One state agency that rules intercounty rail and HSR. BART in the Bay and something completely different in the South. Counties could still have their own unique rail service through MUNI, MTS, SACRT, VTA, MTA, OCTA.

    Bart closes the loop at Diridon in San Jose and that is that. Peninsula cities benefit hugely as they are usually compact and close to the existing rail right of way. Valley cities are also close to the dominant rail line for Cal Train.

    Sure BART is more expensive than light rail but seemingly short of London’s Underground. There are better systems out there….but how many of them could incorporate the Bay itself? San Francisco and environs are unique in that it is not the typical Anglo-American city built on the fall line of a river.

    thatbruce Reply:

    Have them both (BART and VTA) meet to enclose their portion of the bay at Dumbarton. South Bay avoids having to fund BART, and VTA can become a real transit system.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    how many of them could incorporate the Bay itself?

    There aren’t a lot of people commuting from the Bay itself unless Delta Smelt have good job prospects in Silicon Valley. BART is a railroad. If it was built to the same standards as the NYC BMT/IND you wouldn’t notice. Or if it was built to the same standards as the LIRR. Or Washington DC’s Metro or MARC or…. The Bay Area presents many engineering challenges. They aren’t solved by a unique track gauge.

    jimsf Reply:

    ^ There aren’t a lot of people commuting from the Bay itself unless Delta Smelt have good job prospects in Silicon Valley lol now that was pretty funny hehe. I envisioned the smelt with tiny briefcases…

    Joey Reply:

    I also rode BART today, and I couldn’t disagree with you more. Though if I had my way then I would replace most of BART’s suburban lines with some sort of logical rail system, but I’m crazy by any standards.

    jimsf Reply:

    my bart was so nice and pleasant and quick and efficient. what happened to your bart joey?

    synonymouse Reply:

    BART Ring the Bay will mean the ouster of hsr. The only way the Peninsula will accept losing the amenities of Caltrain, express service for instance, is if the pot is sweetened with the permanent resolution of the blight issue, viz., subway for the upscale burgs. A four track subway is prohibitively expensive.

    A four track utterly compatible hsr-Caltrain on the surface or in trench might be acceptable but I remain convinced that Bechtell is absolutely and inalterably opposed to any approach other than aerial or berm. I cannot believe that Bechtel would have launched jihad against PA, etc. unless they were fanatically committed to vertical blight. That’s why they call it brutalism.

    Imho, BART in the Southbay means hsr will be evicted from the Caltrain row. Go Altamont.

    Spokker Reply:

    If there is any anonymous poster on any blog who I want a picture of more, it’s you. To put a face with your posts may prove to be very entertaining.

    synonymouse Reply:

    Hope this works

    http://fc02.deviantart.net/fs12/f/2006/341/e/f/Jird_by_Wysseri.jpg

    jimsf Reply:

    BArt ringing the bay won’t have anything to do with hsr. Bart will ring the bay and not necessarily using the caltrain row. The caltrain row can then be free’d up entirely for a roomy hsr two track mostly at grade with street underpasses. no jihad no altamont.

    synonymouse Reply:

    Now that’s an arresting idea – that would have to be either 101 or 280, rejected by Bechtel as anathema. Bechtel trashed – I like it.

    Peter Reply:

    Why do you blame Bechtel for decisions that staffers/contractors at the CHSRA made?

    Rafael Reply:

    Uhm, no. BART-around-the-Bay would not automatically mean a four track tunnel nor a switch to Altamont.

    In narrow portions of the ROW, it could mean BART in tunnel bores and HSR on an aerial, with vehicular cross traffic at grade. Per Clem’s post on tunnel sizes, BART can make do with much smaller bores than the standard-gauge services.

    However, CHSRA would not pay for everything. Instead, PCJPB would have to unilaterally abandon the freight corridor and attach a suitable easement for BART construction south of Millbrae. It would then sell the whole shebang to CHSRA for a fixed sum, with a requirement that a certain number of strictly regional HSR trains be operated between SF and Gilroy/Merced. That sum could be high enough to cover some but not all of BART construction. Additional funding for gold-plated BART stations and the inevitable cost overruns on BARTification would be up to the Bay Area counties.

    jimsf Reply:

    Alo, in areas where the caltrain row is narrow- wide enough for two hsr tracks only, I can see bart using an el camino subway in those places. This would allow hsr to be built without having to use ANY eminent domain, and it would put bart underground through the downtowns of certain areas.

    From Millbrae I see stations at San Mateo- Redwood city-Palo Alto-Mt View-Sunnyvale.

    Maybe under el camino throught altherton mp into an underground station in dt pa.

    rafael Reply:

    Chances are most cities would prefer BART stations where Caltrain stops now, but that depends on how baroque BART’s designs would be. They do like their giant parking lots.

    Alma/Central Expressway would also be available for BART tunnels.

    jimsf Reply:

    And the big big advantage is that once bart covers the whole bay, what you get is a situation where everyone can access their particular local bart station and with a single ticket on a single system, have frequent reliable service / access to everywhere else. No more looking up different skeds on different webistes and figuring out transfers and blah blah blah. BArt is something that everyone is very familiar with. Its simple to use. And its just convenient.

    Peter Reply:

    “No more looking up different skeds on different webistes and figuring out transfers and blah blah blah”

    Google Maps works quite well for this.

    synonymouse Reply:

    No way the PCC wants aerials. With BART instead of Caltrain the Peninsula would gain higher frequency service over a much greater part of the day and week and seamless connection to the existing BART network. But it would lose express trains, higher operating speeds and much higher quality equipment than BART’s tinny, noisy, dreary-gray crap. The Rohr cyclops have got to be some of the ugliest railcars ever built.

    But the prospect of longterm gentrification is a real sugar-coater. BART in subway and UP single track on the surface for a few more years would induce a significant increase in property values along the SP ROW. I suggest this would go over very well in PA.

    Alternately you could excise either Caltrain or the hsr with the other remaining. I love Jim’s idea of BART on 101 or 280(El Camino subway?) but I prefer 101 for the hsr to SF along with Altamont to SFO. If just to contrary the Bechtel set-in-concrete mindset.

    rafael Reply:

    BART is about to place an order for a lot of new rolling stock.

    synonymouse Reply:

    And let us all pray to the transit gods that BART will finally puff up the resolve to ditch the brutalist aesthetic once and for all. Oh. please, BART, try some new technology and let some other wretched system become the new world’s noisiest subway. Overall shrink-warp advertising would constitute a beautification for BART cars.

    Peter Reply:

    I know that a large part of BART’s infrastructure is Brutalist-inspired, but where in HELL do you get the idea that their trains are?!?!?!

    synonymouse Reply:

    It is a vision thing. BART wears a gray flannel suit – you know “Mad Men”. If you like the WEls Fargo Bank building in SF(ca. 1964) or the Jettsons you’ll love the BART mentality. Grey, soulless, cold, vertical, abstracted, unadorned, robotic.

    Form follows function on steroids. Add proprietary for the idiosyncratic touch. Macho meets hubris – steel on steel is noisy so let’s ramp the decibels to the max. A celebration of the metallic, thus no paint.

    Outer space is downright homey by comparison to the BART aesthetic.

    rafael Reply:

    Stop whining about it here and give BART your input. They’ll be spending $3.4 billion on this over the course of 20 years, so they had better get it right.

    http://bart.gov/about/projects/cars/index.aspx
    http://www.sfexaminer.com/local/BART-plans-billion-dollar-upgrades-44427007.html

    Wrt noise emissions: blame it on poor damping in the design of the old rail cars, generous tolerances on rail-wheel geometry pairings and non-floating slab track on aerials. The underside of a concrete viaduct is a wonderful loudspeaker.

    jimsf Reply:

    The noise on bart is mainly that they can’t do the amount of track maintenance that they need to. They have to use that giant fire breathing thing that all railroads use and it makes the rails perfectly uh, well something you know.. about track geometry and that thin point where the rail and wheel touches. Anyway, they don’t do enough of that. That and the trains are just old. IT wasn’t always noisey. When it was new it was whisper quiet. Of course, when it was new the doors used to fly open in mid air on the aerials… but you can’t have everything.

    synonymouse Reply:

    The phenomenon is know as corrugation, the exact cause of which has been investigated by railways for years. Back in the seventies British Rail did some major research into it with inconclusive results. It seems to be worse on electric railways but cable car lines suffer from it as well. My best guess is metal fatigue aggravated by out of round wheels amongst other problems, all producing unwanted harmonics.

    Is BART willing to chuck its proprietary aluminum-steel wheel design, which I believe is unique. My understanding BART uses a flat wheel profile instead of the more common tapered.

    Joey Reply:

    I wonder if it has to do with the way that the rails are fastened to concrete. BART is louder than other rail systems, but not that much louder, on ballasted track. You can hear it miles away on slab, however, and the echoes in tunnels make it painful for anyone riding too. And while other systems I’ve ridden show a noticeable difference between ballast and slab, none are even close to as loud as BART.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    For the six people a month who want to take the train between Palo Alto and Walnut Creek…..

    Joey Reply:

    You’d be surprised…

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    I’d be surprised if it was 6

    jimsf Reply:

    you don’t know anything about how people move about the bay.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    In cars. buses, trains, ferry boats the occasional helicopter… Just like everywhere else in the world with palm trees.

    Peter Reply:

    There are even some freaks who walk or ride their bikes.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    and there’s the cable cars too. I’m sure there’s a skateboarder and rollerbladers around and except for the cable cars which have been abandoned every place else in the world, it’s just like everyplace else in the world…

    Peter Reply:

    Not so fast. They use cable cars at Toronto and Birmingham airports.

    Joey Reply:

    No one rides the SF cable cars except tourists…

    jimsf Reply:

    July 10th, 2010 at 8:02 pm

    No one rides the SF cable cars except tourists…

    Who told you that? That’s not even close to being true.

    rafael Reply:

    What does Walnut Creek have to do with anything? Ringing the Bay would be mostly about commuting between downtown SF and Silicon Valley (in both directions) without a transfer in Millbrae. It would also put peninsula rail service on a firmer financial footing, since BART enjoys funding primacy and Caltrain doesn’t.

    Note, however, that neither San Mateo nor Santa Clara county are currently full members of the BART consortium. VTA is coralling funds for the construction the “BART to Silicon Valley” project on its own and will merely outsource operations to BART. However, it will (supposedly) not be on the hook for BART operating subsidies elsewhere in the network.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    There are very nice trains that aren’t BART that could give one seat rides to downtown SF faster and cheaper than BART. All sorts of other goodness along with that one seat ride. Jim was the one getting all frothy and fomay about one seat rides.

    jimsf Reply:

    You could make a career out of missing my points ( you don’t actually miss them you just pretend to)
    We already have bart. Are you proposing we rip it out and replace it? Or create yet another separate system? If thats the case then keep bart and caltrain as is. I think what rafael’s point, and mine, is that one- in spite of the knee jerk anti bart bias on this blog, the people of the bay area are quite comfortable with bart, and two, just because one is anti bart doesn’t mean you can’t look at the pros of trading caltrain for bart and what that might mean for hsr.

    And, I live here and I actually use bart, you however do not, and I doubt anyone in the bay area is interested in what new yorkers think should happen here. Its not for you. Its for us. YOu have your own trains and things to play with over there. Isn’t there some big controversy about tunnels and things over there you should be blogging about? we’ll do our trains our way and you can do your trains your way… okay? I mean for gods sake sf and la people don’t even care how the other does it locally, let alone worry about input from three time zones away. I suppose next you’ll try to tell us how to make wine.

    Joey Reply:

    Well I actually do live here, and I do use BART. I have also ridden/read about many other comparable rail systems around the globe, and I can’t help but notice BART’s inherent flaws (completely proprietary, ridiculously expensive to extend, severely limited in terms of the service patterns it can offer (think expresses), and on top of that, earsplittingly loud (especially in tunnels). People here are satisfied with it because they have never seen anything better (or haven’t followed it closely enough to notice its flaws). In the context of the world, BART is a pathetic excuse for a regional rail system.

    jimsf Reply:

    ^ right, no one in the bay area has even been anywhere. and again the noise is just a matter of again rolling stock and cutting corners on maintenance. Ive ridden the el and the mbta. noise in tunnels is hardly unique to bart. and to say they don’t notice its flaws because they haven’t followed the issue is ridiculous. All that says is that there’s only and issue if you are hanging out following a blog full of anti bart people. I was on bart yesterday. The rail car was newly refurbished. The floors were clean, the cushions were new, the train was clean and comfortable. I got from a to b quickly, safely and conveniently and for a reasonable price. Then, i got home that way too. There were no delays, no meltdowns, no disruptions, no discomfort, it worked. plain and simple, just like it does for the other 300k people everyday.
    And why do we need express trains anyway? whats the big freakin rush that everyone is in? 20, 30 45 minute commutes – nothing by cali standards. I dont advocate bart go any further than its current plans plus fill the peninsula gap. I say to all that, to complete the extensions, then once thats all complete. start looking at the next tb tube. to add capacity and closer headways beyond 2050.

    Joey Reply:

    “Filling in the peninsula gap” is going to result in hour-and-a-half journey times between SF and SJ. The Silicon Valley extension from the East Bay is going to result in similarly long journey times which beg for express trains. And I doubt it will be a short trip from Antioch on eBART either…

    jimsf Reply:

    Thats why theres hsr from sf to sj. if you want to go from downtown sf to downtown sj. as I pointed out earlier for instance, lots of silicon valley (not downtown san jose) workers live in mission and bernal, very near bart. and 45 minutes from mission to pa on bart is faster than getting from mission to caltrain and caltrain to pa. not to mention the more frequent service.

    jimsf Reply:

    youre using the assumption that everyone rides from one end of the line to the other and that intermediate trips don’t matter, just like hsr opponents want to pretend like everyone is going from sf to la so they may as well fly.

    Maybe 50 years ago they could have done things differently but we have this huge bart system, and this one stretch of caltrain. Clearly we aren’t going to get rid of bart, so if somethings gotta give, it makes for it to be caltrain. The anti bart bias is just like the anti obama bias, just say no because you don’t like it regardless of merits.

    jimsf Reply:

    and by the way, caltrain already has hour and half journey time, or more, from sj to sf and with barts fewer stations, itll be less than that.

    Joey Reply:

    Of course, not all trips will be between the endpoints, but as the Baby Bullet shows us, there is significant demand for fast trains between major stops. Also the Baby Bullets take only 57 minutes for the whole journey, not and hour and a half (and that’s also without a detour around San Bruno Mountain). BART could never compete with that.

    jimsf Reply:

    joey like i said. hello hsr… remember the name of the blog? 30 minutes from sf to sj. meanwhile what you call a “detour around san bruno mountain” (for added dramatic effect) is a detour for all the people who live in “other than downtown” sf now is it? far more people in sf live near bart stations than live near the caltrain station. everything from where I live at civic – across town through the mission, bernal glen balboa outer mish excelsior crocker, etc, live within a stones throw of bart. Its not a detour for them is it? just like the fresno isn’t a detour for people who live in fresno. Or don’t those people matter? those “most of san francisco” people who might need to go to points south.

    jimsf Reply:

    is *not*a detour for all the people who live…

    Samsonian Reply:

    I just read your BART bender, and I must say you are the biggest BART apologist I’ve seen yet.

    I don’t hate BART for the hell of it. I hate it for all the dumb decisions they have made, and continue to make that result in sub-par, overpriced regional rail system. All the empirical evidence of BART deficiencies apparently mean nothing to you. Business as usual. Continue expanding the badly designed system, ever further into the suburbs, at ever higher costs.

    And I sure as hell don’t want legacy BART replacing CalTrain. At BART to SJ/Livermore costs, that could cost $20+ Billion. And result in a slower 1.5 hr trip, compared to the existing 1 hr trip from end to end. Lots of money, no value. That’s what BART is.

    We deserve better.

    Samsonian Reply:

    I’d like to point out it’s the legacy BART system, and its brain dead expansions, that irks me (although I’m not hot on the BART Board either).

    There’s almost 30 transit agencies in the Bay Area, and I think many would agree that’s too many. BART could be the regional rail operator for all of the Bay Area, and even most of Northern California. And I don’t really have a problem with that.

    But thinking the legacy BART system is the solution is foolish.

    There are better ways. I’ve told this story before, and since your a Francophile, you might like it.

    The Paris Metro is one of the oldest metro/subway systems in the world. However in the post WWII period, it got too big, expensive, and unwieldy to expand. So in the 1960s they changed strategies, and start designing and building the Paris RER.

    The RER is a regional express rail network built from mostly existing rail corridors, as well new bores under the urban core. It’s considered one of the gold standards in modern passenger rail; standard gauge rail width, large loading gauge, and 25 kV AC overhead electrification, train control. It runs EMUs with high frequencies, serves almost all of the Paris metro area, has intermodal stations with the legacy Paris Metro, and features multiple lines with through-routing from suburbs to city-center to suburbs.

    The sad thing is during the same time frame, we built the epic fail that is BART (broad gauge, small loading gauge, third rail with little juice, and sky high costs driven by rent seeking contractors, costs that have no relation to costs anywhere else). Essentially equivalent to, or worse than, the century old Paris Metro or NYC subway, instead of a metro-wide modern regional rail system that it claims to be.

    The thing is we can still create a Bay Area RER, or BART Regional, if you will. We have existing rail corridors (ACE, CalTrain, Capitol Corridor, future SMART) that serve communities and can be leveraged, combined/consolidated, and upgraded (e.g. widened, grade separated, electrified, passenger dedicated tracks) into a single, comprehensive regional rail system with multiple intermodal stations with the existing BART Metro system (e.g. Richmond, West Oakland, East Oakland/San Leandro, Fremont/Union City, Pleasanton/Livermore, SF CBD).

    I don’t like many things about the legacy BART system, but I have no desire to tear it out. I’d rather see sane transportation investments that actually deliver value.

    Risenmessiah Reply:

    Total mistake there. Paris is one city with a defined arrondisments of varying density and scope. The Bay Area wasn’t built to be a unified whole, and BART is essentially the way to make it happen, not because you are a socialist, but because with 8 million people…what choice do you have?

    Samsonian Reply:

    I’m not sure what you’re talking about.

    But if the RER isn’t a good enough example for you, pick any other regional rail system. U-Bahn, MTR, JR Main Lines, etc.

    My problem isn’t the idea of BART (I quite like it), it’s the horrible implementation.

    wu ming Reply:

    driving times between SF and SJ right now are about an hour, assuming no traffic. during rush hour, even a slow locals BART may be competitive time-wise.

    Samsonian Reply:

    Are you honestly defending the idea of spending billions of dollars to make service worse?

    synonymouse Reply:

    I agree that BART technology is grossly inferior to that of an electrified Caltrain but I am afraid it is too late. What the CHSRA and Bechtel are demanding from the Peninsula is unacceptable. At this point we have progressed from asking if BART will make its Ring-the-Bay move to when. Who will approach – the PCC or BART?

    jimsf Reply:

    Has light rail on el camino been considered for local travel. Suppose the row was hsr only with stops at
    SFC-SFO-RWC-MTV-SJC and then a light rail line on el camino that would connect from the M oceanview at sfsu and vta at mtv.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    Risenmessiah, the RER serves not just Paris but also its suburbs, including suburbs that at the time of construction were in a completely different administrative unit (Seine-et-Oise, instead of Seine).

    Ironically, BART is a lot like the RER, in terms of the service pattern. However, because of its incompatibility with legacy rail, it must be built on greenfield corridors even in the suburbs, raising the cost to that of a subway or el built from scratch. In addition, while the RER has stations in most areas of Paris, BART has few in San Francisco and Oakland outside downtown.

    Risenmessiah Reply:

    This thread is a great example of just how different California (and much of the US) is terms of urban planning than the rest of the world. (Not that it’s a good thing.)

    Both BART and its East Coast counterpart, Washington’s Metro basically began as commuter rail projects that did not anticipate (or did they) growing urbanization that would make the original design flawed. Most of the critiques I see here are valid, but the geographical distribution of Paris or European cities are all on rivers, and so the apt comparison would be to Washington D.C.’s Metro. They are having the exact same problem over there, proposing expansions which make little or no sense becuase the the original framework did not anticipate anywhere but the center of D.C. being the area’s economic heart. The rise of suburban Maryland and the Dulles Toll Road as drivers has caused major problems for the system.

    In the Bay, you don’t have that design problem however, since the Bay prevents populatoin growth from spilling across it. In other words, it’s not that there should be BART ringing the Bay, it’s that the dominant transit system (whatever it is) has to ring the bay in order to preserve balance between the major cores in San Jose, San Francisco, Oakland, Palo Alto, and dare I say it…Walnut Crack.

    The Peninsula’s problem is that it’s home to lots of people who bought there in the 60s and 70s, when it was quiet and leafy and a decent drive into the City. Now it’s not HSR that is going to displace them, but the eventual redistribution of land values and density around the Bay itself.

    BART isn’t the issue, it’s as Jim says, the acknowledgement that a regionwide transit system is the Bay Area’s manifest destiny…be it BART the whole way or ….light rail…..

    Samsonian Reply:

    the geographical distribution of Paris or European cities are all on rivers

    The San Francisco Bay Area is also next to a body of water, and also has development patterns influenced by that.

    In the Bay, you don’t have that design problem however, since the Bay prevents populatoin growth from spilling across it.

    There are significant populations on both sides of the Bay, particularly on the East side. Population growth is limited more by zoning than anything else here, as most of BART and CalTrain’s corridors are suburban, and could accommodate a lot more people.

    the apt comparison would be to Washington D.C.’s Metro. They are having the exact same problem over there, proposing expansions which make little or no sense becuase the the original framework did not anticipate anywhere but the center of D.C. being the area’s economic heart.

    The DC Metro is similar to BART, but largely because they were built around the same time, with similar flawed technology decisions, have very high costs, no express trains, and have about the same amount of trackage.

    In spite of this, the DC Metro is far more successful. It has more than 2.5x the total ridership and ridership per mile as BART does. And has a large, positive impact on redevelopment and created TODs along the lines.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_United_States_rapid_transit_systems_by_ridership

    a regionwide transit system is the Bay Area’s manifest destiny

    I don’t know about manifest destiny, not to mention it’s a loaded term. But I do want a real regional rail system for the Bay Area and Northern California. I could care less if it has a BART logo on it or not, just that we have one that works, and at reasonable cost.

    Risenmessiah Reply:

    You just made my point. A similar system as BART has the same problem it does for reasons that have nothing to do with where it’s located. How do I know? Because the majority of DC Metro riders are federal employees who get a subsidized transit pass and all go towards the center of the city. That is the way it was in 1970 and its still true for the most part today.

    Of course the Metro is far more successful: it has a captive market.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    In spite of this, the DC Metro is far more successful.

    No one is talking about closing down MARC or VRE and replacing it with Metro. Or taking a map drawn in 1959 and claiming that it’s the manifest destiny of Metro to serve Baltimore. Or even worse closing the NEC south ( railroad west ) of Baltimore and having everyone use Metro. they do talk about things like using light rail where it’s appropriate and upgrading existing commuter lines and how the buses can be improved. They realize that Metro isn’t the solution for everything

    Metro is far more successful: it has a captive market.

    No one forces Federal employees to take Metro. And it doesn’t explain the non government employees that use it. Or the people who aren’t commuting to work that use it.

    Risenmessiah Reply:

    Seriously?

    How do you explain then the decision to serve Dulles Airport with an extension of WMATA instead of VRE when (deep breath) VRE’s actually has a dedicated source of funding?

    Oh and if Federal employees aren’t forced to take Metro just where would they all park exactly?

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    How do you explain then the decision to serve Dulles Airport with an extension of WMATA instead of VRE

    Oh I’d hazard a guess that extending a line, Metro, that serves the Northwestern suburbs, where Dulles Airport is, is a lot cheaper than extending the VRE lines that serve the Southwestern suburbs. Just like they didn’t think to extend MARC to Dulles or SEPTA or BART.

    Oh and if Federal employees aren’t forced to take Metro just where would they all park exactly?

    The same place they always park. I know this may be difficult to conceive of but there are people who choose not to drive. Usually because not driving – bus, train, ferry boat, funicular etc – is faster than driving. Many people who use mass transit can live quite comfortably in a one car household. Some of them, I have a feeling this concept may be very difficult to imagine, don’t have cars at all.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    Risenmessiah, do you have any reference for this statement?

    Because the majority of DC Metro riders are federal employees who get a subsidized transit pass and all go towards the center of the city. That is the way it was in 1970 and its still true for the most part today.

    I find it hard to believe without a reference that there are 400,000 federal employees working in DC getting subsidized transit passes.

    jim Reply:

    How do you explain then the decision to serve Dulles Airport with an extension of WMATA instead of VRE when (deep breath) VRE’s actually has a dedicated source of funding?

    This was a highly overdetermined decision.

    1. The closest existing conventional rail line to Dulles is Norfolk Southern’s B-Line: single track, unsignaled. There are plans to extend VRE service along the B-Line, but alternatives are still being studied. If a new line were to be built between Dulles and the B-Line, it would connect near the US29 at-grade crossing which is close to the I-66 exit to US29. There were, at the time, plans to reconstruct the US29/I-66 interchange (and get rid of the at-grade crossing, but that construction had to wait for the project to widen I-66 (from four lanes to eight) to reach the interchange. So building a connection from Dulles to the B-Line requires coordinating three other major projects which were then (and still are) more or less independent.

    2. The route would still be circuitous: 10 miles south from Dulles, then 30 miles east, then 10 miles north.

    3. There would need to be right of way acquired. While much of the country around there is still rural, sprawl is occurring, particularly along US50. RoW acquisition would be costly and there would have been NIMBY lawsuits (you guys know about them, right). By contrast, there is already Metrorail at the eastern end of the Dulles access road and there’s plenty of room in the median to run Metrorail along it.

    4. The Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority owns the Dulles access road and charges tolls to non-airport users. It could (and has) raised those tolls to help pay for building the Silver Line. VRE has no such source of funding.

    5. The Silver Line will not just service the airport. In particular there will be four stations in the Tysons Corner area. Real estate interests in Tysons therefore pushed for building the Silver Line and a special tax district was set up so that they would pay part of the costs of building it. A VRE connection would just service the airport and had no such political or financial support.

    6. Metro provides short headways. At peak, Silver Line headways will be at most six minutes, more likely five, possible four. Off-peak, headways will likely be 12 minutes. VRE would be hard-pressed to manage 20 minute headways at peak, half-hour off-peak.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    Honestly, I can’t say there’s a difference between Metro to Dulles and BART to Livermore. Both are insanely overbuilt and expensive: the per-km cost of the mostly above-ground Silver Line is the same as the cost of comparable fully underground subways in most of Europe, and three times the cost of MetroSur. Meanwhile, worthwhile inner-urban extensions, for example moving the Blue Line to a different alignment through DC, are ignored or relegated to a lower priority.

    A better Silver Line plan would terminate at Tysons Corner, which is where most people would go anyway. Airport-only extensions serve surprisingly little traffic: just look at how little ridership Howard Beach is seeing. The rest of the money should be spent on better inner-urban lines and maybe on a good circumferential.

    jim Reply:

    Alon,

    The Silver Line had to go beyond Tysons in order that MWAA could use their tolls to pay for it. But it could have been terminated at Reston (the Phase 1 now being built) and probably should have been.

    The problem with moving the Blue Line within DC is the other jurisdictions don’t see anything in it for them and DC can’t come up with a source of funds to build it itself. Virginia did come up with the money to build the Silver Line.

    These things always come back to money.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    Well, for one, moving the Blue Line would allow higher frequency on the Silver and Orange Lines. Even the insular residents of the favored quarter should appreciate that.

    Besides which, if the Silver Line’s costs had been on a par with those of Europe and Asia, it would not have been necessary to fund it out of tolls. On the other hand, then it would be reasonable to go as far out as Reston in phase 2… It all boils down to the fact that outbound, mostly overground extensions in the suburbs shouldn’t cost $150 million per km.

    Elizabeth Reply:

    In a well planned transit SYSTEM, you can move between operators with a single ticket and coordinated consistent schedules.

    It’s possible. Our standards have been way too low.

    jimsf Reply:

    That will never happen here.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    The solution to that isn’t making everything BART.

    jimsf Reply:

    I never said make everything bart. No one said that. Im just advocating for filling in the last remaining gap in the system for a list of obvious and valid reasons. That’s all.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    The gaps you are imagining can be better served much more cheaper with commuter rail.
    What is the list of obvious and valid reasons, other than BART is way kewl and it stops near your house?

    jimsf Reply:

    Im only on talking about one gap. One 30 mile gap from santa clara to millbrae to complete the system around the bay.
    Barts route diagonal route through sf that cuts almost thru the center of town puts way more people near a bart station than caltrains routes puts to caltrain.
    In the amount of time it takes to get from here to caltrain, I could already be in daly city on bart.

    Suppose I lived in the sunset. easier to get to bart and head south than use muni to get downtown ( we al know how long that takes) to get to caltrain.
    what cal-stanford games bart to bart

    getting the southbay people to sfo. no transfer at millbrae because bart had the foresight to build that flyover from the south – most likely in anticipation of trains coming up from down there.
    People along the new sj ext would have access to all the westbay communities.

    I’m only saying fill in one, last gap. thats all. just that one last one.

    It also opens up employment access to more people. Not the high falutin’ jobs. I’m mean the jobs that people do, that don’t pay enough for people to own a car. People will go to great lengths to get to a job so 90 minute ride from an apt in concord to a hotel housekeeping job in San jose isn’t exactly uncommon. I used to walk for half an hour at 330a from my place in concord to bart, then ride 40 minutes to west oakland then walk another 20 minutes to the railyards at 445 in the morning work from 5am to 11pm then do it all in reverse at the end of the day…. in order to keep a job. And there a lot… a whole lot, of people like that for whom life would be made easier it they had bart access to the bay, especially since trains run until 1am and by 4am

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    Fine slap BART logos on the side of the conventional trains if that keep you willy up.

    They have to fill the gap between Fremont and San Jose before they can fill the gap between San Jose and Santa Clara. Filling those gaps is a really really stupid idea. For what they are going to spend on the extension to San Jose they could upgrade the whole Capitol Corridor line and give everybody between Sacramento and San Jose fast frequent service. Voila a train that rings the Bay. Add a fiddly little bit between Larkspur and Richmond and voila train service to Santa Rosa. Instead of rebuilding ACE service from Fremont to San Jose it’s already rebuilt making Stockton to San Jose much cheaper to do. Once thats in place, voila, the trains could run from Oakland to Stockton. Or San Jose to Sacramento via Stockton meaning people in Livermore beside getting to San Jose could get to Sacramento. All much faster than BART could ever hope to do and much cheaper to build, operate and maintain.

    The people who are commuting between Concord and San Jose will appreciate the faster cheaper service.

    Joey Reply:

    jimsf: with HSR stopping there it makes sense to just extend the AirTrain to Millbrae rather than worry about that stupid BART wye.

    jimsf Reply:

    but joey – we all know that the wye isn’t as stupid as you may think. It was clearly built in anticipation of the eventual completion of the san jose- sfo line.

    Roderick Llewellyn Reply:

    Jim, your proposal to use the Caltrain ROW for HSR and build BART for local/regional travel on the Penisula will never work, and here’s why: BART would require a huge additional ROW anyway. So you wouldn’t be saving any land. The Peninsula wouldn’t want an elevated BART anymore than they’d want an elevated conventional track. Caltrain well serves many of the older downtowns. It would be very difficult to build BART stations in those towns. If BART followed its typical suburban model, it would require huge parking lots which are not attractive to walk-ins. Also as currently configured, BART stations must be at least 1000′ long to accommodate all trains.
    One thing we should avoid is the tendency to make plans by looking at maps and mentally “filling in the gaps”. That’s how Caltrans works… any gap bugs them to death and they don’t care what gets destroyed in the process of filling them. This is a kind of human cognitive limitation, the desire to create patterns out of chaos. Generally a good thing, created science and all that, but it is not always the correct approach.
    As far as the two-agency problem you mention, that can be solved with institutional reform, and God knows the Bay Area needs a LOT of that. We don’t need to replace one rail system with another for that purpose. Instead if you want we could just rename Caltrain to BART lol, and show it on the BART maps with the same thickness as the other BART lines. That would satisfy your craving for one system ringing the Bay, right? And after all, BART is planning some extensions with different and thus incompatible technologies to BART’s. So even BART will not necessarily be of one unified technology going forward. Or we could rename BART to Caltrain, what the heck! (I include this so I don’t get yelled at by the humorless people out there that somehow would conclude that I have it in for Caltrain!)
    Another fact is that Caltrain delivers the highest average speed of any Bay Area transit operator. Its speeds can easily be improved with electrification and other improvements. Whereas BART is pretty much limited to the kind of speed you see now due to inherent technological decisions that would cost unbelievable amounts of money to unwind and redo.
    The one place I would build BART (at again some risk of getting yelled at) is under Geary Blvd in San Francisco, at least if I were building it anywheres. No other place would come close to this corridor’s ridership. But that’s for another day and another blog.

    Roderick Llewellyn Reply:

    I (and others) proposed extending AirTrain to Millbrae before the SFO BART extension was built. It would allow Caltrain passengers to reach SFO w/o using BART. And it would be as convenient for all BART passengers except those flying from the international terminal. And it would be a lot cheaper. The answer I got (from MTC of course) was that the Airport was only allowed to spend money on infrastructure within the Airport. Well ok… but the part of AirTrain outside SFO could have been built with non-SFO money just as the BART extension was. The real reason it was built this way, aside from Kopp’s fanaticism, was that there was wishful thinking that all the Caltrain passengers going to SF (not SFO) would transfer to BART, making the Caltrain dowtown extension unnecessary and maybe even allowing Caltrain north of SFO to be eliminated. Guess what. Nobody on Caltrain wanted to transfer to BART to go to SF downtown (although obviously some do transfer to access other BART stations), despite the necessary transfer to the ridiculously slow and poorly planned Muni extension.

    Elizabeth Reply:

    Did you read the part about our standards being too low?

    People need to stop accepting the status quo as acceptable and stop giving free passes to really terrible planning and projects because “that is the way it is in the Bay Area”.

    jimsf Reply:

    Our standards aren’t too low. They are just realistic. You are deluding yourself if you think things will be anything but what they have been. This is how things work here and that isn’t going to change. Not in this lifetime anyway. Agencies are not going to share revenue. local and regional planning processes are what they are. Nimby’s will become more nimby-ish not less. Politics will always determine the outcome of projects. I accept it because I’d rather deal with reality not dream “if only” because Ive been here long enough to know how its gonna turn out. You’ll see. Meet me back here in 2030 and take a look at how things have changed. (hint, they will look like they do today.)

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    You are deluding yourself if you think things will be anything but what they have been.

    Which is why on those hot September days you go out to the Sutro Baths for a swim? Or maybe take a Key System car out to the Oakland hills? At the end of the day take the Castro Street cable car out the end of the line and stroll back down to Market?

    jimsf Reply:

    “in this lifetime” not since my great grandparent’s lifetime.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    Those changes happened in somebody’s lifetime. It’s really too bad that things like BART reaching it’s maximum extent and HSR are going to happen in your lifetime.

    wu ming Reply:

    yup. in taipei a single smart card works on the MRT subway, electric commuter rail lines, multiple bus companies, some taxis, a gondola up to a popular mountainside teahouse district, and just to buy stuff at 7-11. hong kong has a similar deal. if all the programmers and IT engineers in the bay area can’t come up with a similarly functional system, they can eat their pride and import it from a country with a first world transit system.

    it’s not hard to do.

    rafael Reply:

    It’s not about the software. It’s about county-level politicians guarding their turf and transit dollars.

    Risenmessiah Reply:

    [ding], [ding], [ding] we have a winner.

    YesonHSR Reply:

    she is not going to win..

    Risenmessiah Reply:

    What? I was corroborating rafael’s assertion to wu ming, not endorsing her,

    Robert Cruickshank Reply:

    There is a single card in the works, or maybe it’s already been rolled out (I don’t use Bay Area transit often enough to know).

    Seattle launched its single smart card, the ORCA, about a year ago. I use it all the time when I’m up there, and even carry it in my wallet today even though I’m nowhere near the Emerald City. It is awesome.

    Joey Reply:

    It’s called the Clipper (used to be TransLink), and I think it’s already here. I haven’t had a chance to test it out though.

    Brian Stanke Reply:

    It actually has been working for over a year now on most big transit systems. Some, such as BART and Muni were “testing” it for months and months, but if you had the card for use with AC Transit or GG Transit it would just work even on the systems that were under “testing.”

    The big problem that Clipper didn’t solve is that the fare system is not integrated. Rather that pay once and transfer you pay, and pay, and pay with every transfer btw. operators. And there are more than 30+ in the Bay Area! BART was totally intransigent about wanting a special sub-wallet in the card for money that could ONLY be used on BART, delayed the whole system for a couple years.

    What is needed is a regional agreement for revenue sharing among providers so if a a trip takes 2 or 3 providers they charge a fare and a 1/4 or a fare and a 1/2 and split it 2 or 3 ways instead of the current full fare for each with MAYBE $0.25 off the 2nd and 3rd fare if you are lucky.

    jimsf Reply:

    ^Brian you and I know that THAT won’t happen till the sun burns out.

    Peter Reply:

    @ jimsf

    But we can dream, can’t we?

    jimsf Reply:

    sure. I’m starting to think we are dreaming that hsr will ever get built too. Please keep us posted as to the exact time and place of this “beginning construction in 2012″ so I can take my vacation days and be there to see it.

    Roderick Llewellyn Reply:

    I am using Clipper and it seems to work well. Now I proposed to MTC that it should be integerated with FasTrack (the version of Clipper for car drivers and bridge tolls), and that every subscriber to FasTrack should automatically get a Clipper card that draws on the same account, as a way of making transit easier to try. I got the usual MTC blowoff, they didn’t even bother replying.
    Also Brian Stanke makes an extremely good point. Passes only help if you are already a frequent enough transit user to buy them. Clipper gives you no discounts, only fare-paying convenience, but again only frequent users buy them. A problem with Bay Area transit is that regional trips are just too expensive. If my partner and I ride Muni to BART to AC Transit roundtrip, a not unreasonable trip, we pay over $20. Frankly a car is cheaper, once its fixed costs are paid, so most car drivers will never use transit given current outrageous fare levels. A round trip for my partner and I within just San Francisco cost $8 and no car trip in the city cost that much. Transfers are an inconvenience, so it’s irrational to charge for them… the riders all want a no-transfer trip of course, but that’s impossible. Macy’s often builds their stores on multiple floors. What if they charged for using the escalator, just because it cost Macy’s less than building a store on one floor?
    We cannot integrate all the Bay Area transit operators, and we shouldn’t (because the suburbs would just loot Muni and overall riders would thusly be lost). But we should have total regional fare coordination, handled by back-end computer systems operating transparently to the user. It should cost no more to use 3 systems than 1. The big cost avoided is the social cost of driving, the transit incremental cost is miniscule by comparison.

    Reality Check Reply:

    MTC’s Clipper (formerly Translink) is a really half (or less) assed “solution”. It’s more or less an enhanced stored value card. The enhancement is that you can “store” agency passes on it too. What it doesn’t do — and this is HUGE — is it doesn’t set up a Verkehrsverbund with a unified tariff across the entire region … such as you will find all over Germany for pretty much every urban region.

    As Brian Stanke correctly pointed out, with MTC’s costly and years late lame-ass Clipper … you still pay and pay and pay (separately) for every cross-agency transfer. Germany (and many other countries where transit works well) has been using the Verkehrsverbund concept for many decades. It works great. You pay for your trips or passes and the various operators/modes that are under the umbrella of the Verkehrsverbund figure out how to allocate the revenue … but there is one consistent tariff and it cuts across the entire Verkerhsverbund region and its operators and modes (heavy rail, light rail, bus and in some cases (like Lisbon) elevators (or Stuttgart) cogwheel train or funicular. You, the passenger, just pay the fare to get from point A to point B and then are free to choose the modes you’d like to use and where to transfer.

    jimsf Reply:

    If my partner and I ride Muni to BART to AC Transit roundtrip, a not unreasonable trip, we pay over $20. Frankly a car is cheaper, once its fixed costs are paid, so most car drivers will never use transit given current outrageous fare levels. A round trip for my partner and I within just San Francisco cost $8 and no car trip in the city cost that much.
    Parking in sf is 10-20 dollars a day and up. did you figure that in? I live in the city. To own a car here would cost a minimum of 1000 a month, 200 minimum for a monthly parking space in my neighborhood, 200 month or more for a payment, 200 a month for gas and insurance, plus another 100 a month or more for parking ( meters/garages) every time I took the car out of its 200 dollar space to go to another location. There is also zero parking where I work downtown and daily parking at work would be an additional 10-20 per day x20. Thats 1000-1200 a month to own and operate a car in SF.
    I pay 20 per month for my muni sticker for all my transit needs. Once in a while I take a cab, 2-3 times a month at 10 bucks a pop. So for about 50 bucks a month I’m set. The other $1150 a month goes into vacations or investments. I think my way is the smart way.

    jimsf Reply:

    ^ that should not have all been in italics. Only the quote fromRoderick. (hello, is this thing on?)

    jimsf Reply:

    Its eye opening to look at the acid tripping multicolored MTC Regional Transit Diagram 39 agencies and counting…..

    Roderick Llewellyn Reply:

    I did not figure in the charges you mention because most of them (such as the cost of parking at home) are ownership costs. A car owner is already paying those costs… they’re “sunk”. Remember I said that once you own a car… i.e., I was talking about incremental trips. The problem we face is not that of convincing people who don’t own a car to take transit. The problem is convincing car owners to at least give transit a try. Right now they have no financial incentive to do so, because they are already paying the significant fixed costs of car ownership, and the incremental costs are lower than the incremental costs of each transit trip.
    As far as parking at your destination in SF is concerned, this is usually only a concern for going downtown. And for those trips, car owners will often ride Muni. But here’s the rub: that’s just about the ONLY place in the Bay Area to which that car owners will ride transit. Precisely because parking is expensive and transit is not bad (although I do know some San Franciscans that drive downtown and pay the price because Muni service has become so poor).
    My conclusion is that aside from strategies that make cars much more expensive – right now politically unachievable – the best way to get car owners to try transit is to reduce transit’s incremental cost. When I propose taking transit somewheres to my car-owning friends, as soon as they hear about how many fares you have to pay (and the fact that transit is slower and less convenient), they say forget it. I think this is a huge barrier to transit acceptance.
    And for Clipper to really work, like FasTrack it should be state-wide.

    jimsf Reply:

    Roderick- well I do agree that a statewide app would be good. toll roads, bridges and all transit agencies on card. But then again, with no discount, I guess there’s no difference between using clipper and using your visa debit card to purchase tickets. now one advantage that many of use is “wage works” You get a wage works credit card from your employer. You tell them “I spend “x” amount ( in my case it would be say $250) per year on transit. They give you that amount up front on an account. Then your employer makes a pre tax deduction from your paycheck ( for me its about 250/52= 5 bucks per week) The advantage is you reduce your annual taxable income – there’s your discount – and they front you the money at beginning of the year. ( the health spending account works the same way and its fantastic)

    Someone who spends say 300 a month on transit/bridge toll/ parking etc for commuting purposes can get all that tax free. That lowers your taxable income by $3600 annually saving you – whatever amount on your taxes. Again, theres your discount. Then you can use your wage works visa to purchase your clipper card etc.

    Caelestor Reply:

    I’ve been to Taipei before, so I can corroborate his claims. And even with a 20% discount per ride, the system is profitable!

    Look, we all agree that BART definitely is expanding places it shouldn’t. However, that doesn’t necessarily mean start up a new transit agency to add to the mess. Intersystem transfers are annoying, unless you have a regional card (which due to local politics is almost impossible in this place). If BART had good planning, it would 1) build subway in Oakland-SF where there is definite demand, and 2) build commuter rail out from its current terminals.

    Caelestor Reply:

    Also, they should not run all trains to the terminal, especially on weekends. I know they do it on the Bay Point Line during peak hours, they could easily do it on trains to Fremont if they had proper infrastructure and timetable planning.

    jimsf Reply:

    I believe they have put in extra crossovers at pleasant hill so the can start trains at walnut creek as well.

    Joey Reply:

    The Pleasant Hill Crossovers would allow them to terminate trains at Pleasant Hill. Seems kind of strange considering that Concord is so close…

    Amanda in the South Bay Reply:

    I wouldn’t mind BART down the Peninsula to SJ, but you’d have to skip a lot of the smaller Caltrain local stops for the trip to be time effective. Quite honestly, given the prevalence of car ownership in the Peninsula/South Bay, it’d make more sense for people to drive to a smaller number of BART stations rather than have BART stop at Cal Ave, Lawrence, San Antonio, etc.

    I mean, especially San Antonio-the condos/apartments/whatever they are called that are right across the street look like they cost $$$$$ to live in, and I’m sure most of those people living there have cars they could just as easily drive to PA or MV to get on our hypothetical future BART.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    But the thing is with 4 tracks and any train anytime anywhere you could serve all of the existing stations with faster service than BART could ever hope for and do it cheaper. So the 15 people a day who want to go farther than SF but closer than Santa Rosa or Sacramento have to change trains in SF. do it well and they will barely notice

    rafael Reply:

    I’ve learned the hard way that advocating closure of any Caltrain station to improve line haul times and reduce operating costs will get you tarred and feathered on this blog.

    Peter Reply:

    I’d tar and feather Jim and Amanda right now, but I’m too tired to do so right now. ;)

    Amanda in the South Bay Reply:

    As a poor person who doesn’t own a car, I think of stations like Lawrence and San Antonio as a subsidy for well to do folks who live in condos next to them and already own cars. People don’t take public trans to get to either station, and I doubt that *every* single person who lives in fancy townhouses/condos etc next to them walks everyday to Caltrain. But by all means those tech execs and lawyers who make six figures and who live next to San Antonio deserve their walk up train!

    *ends class rant*

    Peter Reply:

    Aren’t we trying to support TOD, though? Removing those stations would seem to be counter-productive.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    Why shouldn’t rich people get the same mass transit services poor people get? It keeps their Mercedes off El Camino and 101. Freeing up space so the poor schlub driving the UPS truck can keep up his schedule. Means their paralegal has a train from the less rich town up the line. Means the paralegal’s family can get by with one car instead of two because there’s a carless commute in the house. Means their neighbor who drives everywhere has a bit of empathy when the bond issue comes up and votes for it instead of against because their fine upstanding neighbor uses mass transit and not just dirty smelly hippies, illegal immigrants and their squalling brats…

    jimsf Reply:

    They won’t use it no matter how good it is. They are “above” it. The whole point of success in America means that you get the luxury of no longer having to be exposed to us commoners.

    Bianca Reply:

    People don’t take public trans to get to either station

    You certain of that? San Antonio station is pretty close to that giant shopping center on… San Antonio! I would not be surprised if some of the people who work there use Caltrain to get to work.

    And I don’t get the idea that if you are able to afford a car you are less deserving of public transit. The more people have convenient access to transit, the better it works for all of us.

    Amanda in the South Bay Reply:

    San Antonio is also next to El Camino, and I bet dollars to doughnuts most of the people who work at TJs, Walmart, Target, etc. who do take public trans end up taking the 522/22. VTA is significatnly cheaper than Caltrain.

    In the case of San Antonio and Lawrence, they seem to exist *solely* for the benefit of people who I’m sure aren’t hurting for money-simply based off the looks of the dwellings near both stations.
    I dunno, its been a couple of years since I owned a car, but I’m sure it wouldn’t kill people to drive five minutes to downtown Mountain View.

    Having spent the last couple of years on foot and relying (often poorly) on the VTA, I don’t have much sympathy for the tiring chore of driving five minutes from San Antonio to Castro Street.

    Clem Reply:

    I’m sure Mountain View would be delighted to host a 3,000 car BART-style parking structure. Vibrant and all that.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    they already have parking structures all over “downtown” what’s one more?

    jimsf Reply:

    so does sunnyvale.

    Bianca Reply:

    Wait, so you are saying that the San Antonio station for Caltrain is a subsidy to people who can afford to own a car, and you are saying that Caltrain is too expensive for some people to take to work? Why not just say that Caltrain is just for the well-to-do while you’re at it?

    I know Caltrain is more expensive than the VTA but it also runs mostly on schedule, so I can see some people deciding the extra expense is worth the reliability.

    And I still don’t understand the idea that if you can afford a car you are less deserving of public transit. And I especially don’t get the idea that Castro, which is already jammed with traffic as it is, should take the hit and absorb people driving from San Antonio to get on Caltrain. That’s just completely backwards. How is that solution good for Mountain View? It sucks for San Antonio, and it sucks for Castro.

    Amanda in the South Bay Reply:

    That is indeed what I’m saying. I’ve been on enough baby bullets to see that the majority of commuters during the work week aren’t…WalMart cashiers, for starters.

    I’d like to see more affordable housing located near public transportation stations, and what I see at places like San Antonio doesn’t fit it. Again, this is coming from the perspective of someone who has to walk a lot and take public transportation, but complaining about driving from SA to Castro seems….weak sauce. I’d give body parts to be able to live in those fancy condos next to SA and have the “burden” of driving to Castro Street. Beats taking the 35 bus.

    Besides, just how many people use San Antonio?

    Robert Cruickshank Reply:

    I think this is a flawed approach to deal with the issue of TOD, transit, and subsidies. I don’t agree, at all, with the notion that stations that serve a more upscale clientele should be considered expendable or unsuitable for subsidy.

    I would absolutely agree that there should be a higher priority on funding mass transit solutions that serve a large number of riders, and that we should direct most subsidies to those who are in the greatest economic need of such subsidies. However, I don’t think that means we should cut off others who also have subsidies in the form of a local station. There is broader economic, social, and environmental benefit derived from those stations.

    Some might say “well, we have a finite set of resources, and we have to make choices.” I would disagree with that too. The solution should never be to close stations, but to find more revenues to support the expansion of services.

    As most of you should know, I’m about as left-wing as it gets here in the USA, am also a regular user of transit, and usually walk wherever I need to go here in Monterey. But I will still defend these stations. I see closing a station – any station – as a bright line that should not be crossed. We need more transit, not less.

    I do totally agree with the need for more affordable housing and TOD. But I do not believe that is incompatible with having those stations that currently exist.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    Robert, what you say about closing stations may be true for Caltrain, but is often false. If the stations are too closely spaced, to the point that local service is too slow and each station gets little ridership, then station closures are a net benefit for transit. I can give you several examples of this in New York. And in the opposite direction, there are a lot of destinations the RER doesn’t stop at, but it’s understood that if the RER A had made the same stops as Métro Line 1, it would have been useless.

    Now, on the Caltrain corridor, stations are spaced quite far apart, so the issue is not as salient. However, in some cases it might be justifiable to move stations to better locations.

    Amanda in the South Bay Reply:

    Robert-
    I’d gladly close the Almaden LRT line if it meant that the Winchester-MV line could run later at night or have more frequent service during the day and evening.

    That’s another line that seems to exist to support some nice expensive apartments/condos. Apparently its too difficult to drive a couple of minutes to the park and ride at Ohlone.

    Amanda in the South Bay Reply:

    Eh, we’re probably not going to agree on any of this.

    The worst thing about applying for semi-white collar professional jobs as someone who is
    a transsexual and a little openly genderqueer (look it up yourself) is that I’m continually
    discriminated against by people who probably have Obama bumper stickers on their Priuses and pat themselves on their back cause they take Caltrain to work while browsing the net
    on their 3G iPads.

    Bitter against my betters?

    Yeah.

    Robert Cruickshank Reply:

    There is such a thing as too many stations. However, I do not believe Caltrain is at that point. Given California’s desperate need to develop alternatives to driving, I do not believe we should be in the business of closing stations. That doesn’t mean we add lots of stations to future routes, but if a station is already open, it should stay open. We can and should be flexible with how we serve these stations, but if a station’s already there, it just seems like a bad idea to close it down.

    Robert Cruickshank Reply:

    I won’t begrudge those criticisms of your “betters,” Amanda, not at all. I just don’t think we should be going around closing down existing stations or LRT routes. We should instead find new funding to sustain and expand services, and should definitely expand affordable housing.

    Spokker Reply:

    How would an potential employer know you are genderqueer?

    Bianca Reply:

    Commuting expenses take up a larger percentage of income for people who make less money. That isn’t designed intentionally, it’s just arithmetic. There are policy things we can do to ease the sting, and we should do them, but pushing people back into their cars doesn’t help anyone (and frankly is only going to make the buses going down El Camino run even more slowly.) BART is expensive too, especially if you have to go into the city from further out in the East Bay where housing is relatively more affordable.

    Making transit better and more affordable isn’t accomplished by forcing people who own cars to use their cars instead of taking transit.

    jimsf Reply:

    We should take the last 8 zillion hundred billion dollars BP has left, since they are gonna be bankrupt in a minute anyway, and use that money for transit. Why in hell are we always scrimping and digging under the sofa cushions for spare change for transit when oil, insurance, and financial companies are roasting marshmallows over thousand dollar bills?

    By the way have you all heard the latest.. the republicans are so worried about the debt that not only do they want to cut off the unemployed, but they want to….uh…. renew the bush tax cuts……. uh wait … didnt they say they were worried about the debt? Well I guess there is an (R) in hypocrisy after all.

    Roderick Llewellyn Reply:

    The collapse of American mass transit post World War II happened precisely because the middle- and upper-classes stopped riding it. The great urban transit systems like New York’s were never built for poor people. Nothing ever was (except slave pens maybe lol). Once the non-poor abandoned transit, transit’s political support vanished and so did most transit. So if your concept of mass transit is that it’s for the poor and carless only, you will never see significant improvements in transit. The key is to structure transit and cities so that transit works for all.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    You’re reversing cause and effect, Roderick. What actually happened was that a variety of government regulations and subsidies killed the streetcar systems in the 1920s and 30s. Together with war-era growth in areas that were never served by streetcars, it’s this collapse that made the middle class switch to the car. In the 1950s the streetcars were already just undermaintained shells of their former selves.

    synonymouse Reply:

    You are leaving out that operators’ compensation went way up such even moving from two-man operation to one-man didn’t help. But the massive increase in car ownership was the primary reason that private operators disappeared from transit – subsidies are a fact of life for public transit today.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    The massive increase in car ownership didn’t cause the streetcars’ demise, but had a similar cause: government subsidies. For example, in Denver the streetcar had to pay 25% of road maintenance costs on one-way streets and 50% on two-way streets. This percentage was fixed at a time of little car traffic, when the streetcar probably paid roughly in proportion to the amount of road wear it caused. But as car ownership went up, those percentages remained; cars were being subsidized by the streetcar. This and similar schemes both raised car ownership rates and cut transit profitability.

    Caelestor Reply:

    Remember back then, the railroads essentially had huge monopolies and were indicative of Big Business. I could see why people would want a car: not just novel, but they also provide freedom from those railroads!

    Of course, a proper society has a balance between roads and mass transit. The US has neglected infrastructure (both roads and rail) for far too long, and it’s going to haunt us in the future unless we do something.

    jimsf Reply:

    Exactly correct.

    jimsf Reply:

    exactly correct -to the smaller number of stops /bart comment from amanda.

  10. dave
    Jul 9th, 2010 at 19:46
    #10

    She’s either a hypocrite, or very smart. If she wants Jobs, Jobs, Jobs where does she plan on getting them? A top hat and wand? Jobs need to come from the top, wich right now is infrastructure spending with money only the Govm’t State or Federal can provide. Small and medium business’ will not be able to do that from borrowing from banks, Not even large business’.

    The other could be that she opposes to HSR just to show she is extra conservative, non-spending Meg. Then if she is elected she quietly sneaks her way to support HSR without anyone noticing. I say this because so far she has not come on strong in opposing it. I’m surprised she took so long to let us know her position.

    Tony D. Reply:

    You have a point Dave. Just like presidential candidates, most tend to campaign and appeal to the extremes of their parties, i.e. far-right or far-left. After getting elected, they almost always gravitate towards the center, i.e. center-right or center-left. Meg’s probably doing the same with her “opposition” to HSR. No way in hell could she ever govern California as a far-right conservative, unless she wanted to get recalled.

    wu ming Reply:

    she’s a republican. she’ll propose tax cuts, services cuts, milton friedman’s magic fairy dust, and a dash of OMG MEXICANS. and then, voila! jobs, at least for the right people.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    Clipping coupons, bond interest coupons not the kind you use in the supermarket, is hard work…. not that anyone has bonds with coupons anymore….

  11. Brandon from San Diego
    Jul 10th, 2010 at 00:05
    #11

    HSR is bi-partisan. Correct? Yet, Meg probably only has support from the Republican right. When she diss’s HSR she’ll potentially loose those Republican HSR supportes.

    Ehh… doesn’t matter, Meg is not electable. She’s a hypocrit. Just mention George Bush in the same breath as Meg… and there you have it… her chances drop 20 points.

  12. Thomas N
    Jul 10th, 2010 at 01:50
    #12

    If only mass transit planning is removed from politics and people who have knowlege are only responsible for it, not the politicians.

    Drunk Engineer Reply:

    Great idea. And best place to begin would be to fire the entire CHSRA Board of Directors.

    Caelestor Reply:

    Who would be their replacements? Honest question.

    Peter Reply:

    Right, because we all know that engineers make the best planning decisions. Mass transit planning is inherently political, you can’t remove the politics from it. There is a reason why we have a political body in charge of projects such as this: oversight, and a decisionmaking body is required in order to make political decisions.

    Elizabeth Reply:

    The decision to provide mass transit at a given level of service is inherently political. The actual planning does not need to be political. In fact, the more removed the planning to achieve whatever goals are identified by the political process the more successful it seems to be. Many places in the world, which are highly democratic, do not have politicans micro-managing the planning.

    Peter Reply:

    So, are you SERIOUSLY trying to say that deciding whether to route HSR over Pacheco or Altamont could be removed from politics?

    Elizabeth Reply:

    Absolutely.

    There could be political input into certain issues like what areas is development welcome and which areas is development unwelcome. There could also be some political input what should be the weighting (environmental impact, cost, ridership, impact on development) but the rest of the work need not be particularly political.

    Another way to depoliticize would be to put the whole project out to bid.

    Drunk Engineer Reply:

    Another way to depoliticize would be to put the whole project out to bid.

    That is the approach taken in large number of projects, both rail and highway. The government invites bidders to submit plans that promise certain quality of service, and specify required level of subsidy.

    It eliminates the nonsense over ridership modeling, because the bidder has skin in the game.

    Peninsula Rail 2010 Reply:

    This point of having “skin in the game” is extremely important. All these private firms involved in the CHSRA project to date have no liability and are assuming no risk whatsoever. It’s all gravy and no bitter medicine, and this produces the worst sort of planning. They produce plans that please self-aggrandizing political figures and position themselves for further enrichment. PB and HNTB are putting up no money for the project. They will reap the rewards yet bear no risk whatsover. The public bears all the risk. If Cambridge Systematics was forced to invest in the project or faced a serious penalty if their forecasts were wildly off, CS would produce better forecasts. Cambridge Systematics has embarrassed themselves professionally, but these firms never seem to face any penaltes whatsoever for their bad work.

    Keep in mind that most of the CHSRA Board don’t actually hold any elected office. Diridon has been out of office since 1994; Kopp since 1998. That’s the worst combination: political motivations with no electoral accountability, and no technical expertise either.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    It works for small-scale things, not for $40-billion projects. Of the world’s high-speed rail lines, the two that were build with private money, the Channel Tunnel and THSR, are also the two that ended up having the poorest financial performance. When we’re talking about large sums of money, it’s much more reliable for the company to lie about expected subsidies and engage in shady deals than to gamble on everything working out as planned.

    Peter Reply:

    Ok, so you’re suggesting we solve the problem by changing the way regional planning is done, by changing zoning laws, etc. I think Robert had a post a few months back about how Oregon (?) uses a completely different process than California does for regional planning.

    Samsonian Reply:

    While process matter, I’m not so sure it has as much to do with process, as much as it is about attitude.

    I’ve lived in the Bay Area my entire life, and I can honestly say that this must be one of the most anti-development/anti-growth places around. How else can housing be so expensive, yet zoning not adapt/change to meet demand?

    I recall a real estate developer responding to comments that Portland is anti-development, saying that Portland is actually one of the most pro-development cities he’s worked in. (Admittedly Portland wants development in certain areas, and not in others, as well as in certain forms. But they still want development.)

    Hell will freeze over before you hear a developer say that about the Bay Area.

    rafael Reply:

    So are you suggesting whoever wins the tender, e.g. a foreign railway with extensive HSR experience, be given limited powers of eminent domain to ensure its CEQA process cannot be pecked to death by NIMBYs? Pass the popcorn.

    There’s more to this “politics” issue than Rod Diridon and PB scratching each others’ back or, Curt Pringle remaining mayor of Anaheim while presiding over the project-level planning for running HSR tracks to and through that city.

    Drunk Engineer Reply:

    It is not all that unusual for eminent domain to be used for benefit of private entities. A lot of downtown San Jose was re-developed that way. This model is unlikely to go away, even with the the uproar over the recent Supreme Court case. As well, we can point to any number of Natural monopolies (public utilities, etc).

    Moreover, the main nimby flashpoints are precisely in locations where CHSRA is exercising poor cost/benefit analysis. A more profit-motivated entity would never propose blasting trains through downtown Fresno, Bakersfield, etc., or quad-tracking the entire Peninsula.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    A private entity would have semi competent staff who would look at their projections for traffic and decide that the most flexible solution for the Peninsula would be four tracks. Two tracks they are never going to be able to run enough trains to make money. They’d also want to run passenger trains through downtown which gets them closest to the greatest number of passengers pesky passengers on a passenger railroad…

    jimsf Reply:

    exactly. why would they propose a railroad that passed up all the people?

    Drunk Engineer Reply:

    Not the _entire_ Peninsula requires quad-tracking. In fact, very little quad tracking is required south of Redwood city under an Altamont scenario.

    They’d also want to run passenger trains through downtown which gets them closest to the greatest number of passengers

    Central Valley cities follow post-war development patterns. Almost everyone is going to use automobile as connecting transit. So putting the HSR station in “downtown” is of little benefit. Even in France, TGV planners built new TGV stations way on the outskirts for intermediate stops.

    Peter Reply:

    In fact, very little quad tracking is required south of Redwood city under an Altamont scenario.

    Yeah, but we’re not building Altamont. We’re building Pacheco.

    TGV planners built new TGV stations way on the outskirts for intermediate stops.

    Because doing so was easier than fighting NIMBYs. But that lower capital cost meant lower ridership. We’re aiming at trading higher revenue (more passengers) for higher capital costs.

    Joey Reply:

    Drunk Engineer: you have to put two additional tracks somewhere. Regardless of whether they’re in Fremont or Palo Alto, they’re still two additional tracks.

    Drunk Engineer Reply:

    Because doing so was easier than fighting NIMBYs. But that lower capital cost meant lower ridership. We’re aiming at trading higher revenue (more passengers) for higher capital costs.

    The reason TGV planners skirted smaller cities wasn’t just to avoid costs and nimby issues, but because they didn’t want to severely impair the overall running time for the main endpoints. There is no way CHSRA is going to get away with 217mph speeds through downtown Fresno or downtown Bakersfield. This means speed restrictions, reducing overall time-competitiveness for the bulk of your market. CHSRA will gain negligible ridership with “downtown” location in sprawlville, while costing precious minutes for the most lucrative market. I see no potential here for either new ridership or revenue, and billions in extra grade-separation costs.

    Robert Cruickshank Reply:

    Drunk Engineer is wrongly assuming that the status quo will last forever, and that there aren’t any forces whatsoever, such as water limits, credit limits, or peak oil, that will force new development into the city centers in the Central Valley, especially if there’s a high speed rail station to draw people inward.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    JR East is planning to run trains at 320 km/h through several city centers in the Tohoku region, and JR West is already running trains at 300 km/h through city centers.

    Caelestor Reply:

    I don’t agree with beetfield stations (example is THSR). However, I don’t mind building on the borders of downtown, as long as you have a good shuttle feeder system.

    I also do agree that the CV will experience growth over the next decades (simply because that’s where the cheap housing is!), and that there is untapped demand. So, yes, you can’t ignore the CV with synonymouse’s flawed I-5 proposal.

    mike Reply:

    Another way to depoliticize would be to put the whole project out to bid.

    That would be fine with me. Most of the Peninsula cities would fight such a depoliticization effort tooth and nail, however, because no private company would entertain their 4-track mega-tunnel we-get-the-moon-for-free fantasies for even two seconds. Palo Alto and Atherton might like it, though, since a private company would likely pick Altamont over Pacheco.

    Peter Reply:

    Yeah, “depoliticizing” a project by simply putting it out for bid simply shifts the burden of fighting political battles from a political planning body (the CHSRA) to a corporate entity, which would still have to fight all the same political battles.

    Changing CEQA would be the only way to go about this.

  13. Peninsula Rail 2010
    Jul 10th, 2010 at 18:25
    #13

    The best practice rule for project investment is: “Whoever bears the risk should have the equivalent level of design control.” Obviously, the public sector has to be involved in large-scale infrastructure projects, and the involvement of private firms can be welcome in theory. The crucial factor is how risk is allocated. If the public carries all the risk, the public should have full control over the design (ie, in-house CHSRA project designers, not PB). Small, specified increments of the publicly-designed project can be put out to be bid from private firms, but the private firms don’t get to call the shots. Other private consultants can be hired for specific expert advice, but the public institution is doing all the design specification, knowing that they are responsible for the overall project working.

    If the private sector wants to have a hand in actual project design, they need to front the investment capital and assume some of the risk.

    Spokker Reply:

    How does the public come to a consensus when opinions about the project are all over the place? It would seem to me that to placate everyone’s interests would be the most expensive and inefficient option of all. The Peninsula wants it in a tunnel. The LA River advocates want it underground. The Los Angeles State Park advocates want it underground. Owners of “historic” homes in Anaheim want it underground.

    Unless the line of logic is that with everybody having a hand in the design, the project will become so expensive that it becomes infeasible and doesn’t happen at all. That would be the least expensive option, then.

    Even the in-house CHSRA designers would feel push-back from different groups no matter what they do.

    synonymouse Reply:

    Right on.

    rafael Reply:

    In theory at least, PB does what the CHSRA board instructs it to do. I agree that bulking up CHSRA’s own engineering staff makes sense, if only to turn that theory into practice. Indeed, Roelof van Ark has insisted on being allowed to do just that, in spite of David Crane’s myopic fretting about keeping the core team down to a skeleton crew to save money.

    Robert Cruickshank Reply:

    David Crane’s role is to promote privatization at every possible turn. That’s why he and Arnold Schwarzenegger have insisted on contracting this work out to the private sector. People shouldn’t blame “the Authority” but should instead look at the governor’s office.

    Peninsula Rail 2010 Reply:

    A good public-private model to follow is actually the Interstate Highway program. Almost the entire 40,000-mile-plus interstate network was designed by public agencies with standardized designs. Much of the actual construction was put out to bid by private construction companies, but the public sector was doing all the design specifications. Caltrans actually needs a new mission, and their large staff should be repurposed and retooled to design California’s new rail network.

    One recent and notorious exception to this model was Boston’s Big Dig, which involved intentionally unique and complex design requirements. The design was not standardized in the slightest, and the final costs were astronomical. Guess who was central in the design of this project that was needlessly complex yet enormously enriching to private contractors??? PB. Parsons Brinckerhoff had no incentive to keep costs manageable and every incentive to increase the complexity and the costs/billing. It’s Richard’s Brer Rabbitt scenario.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    The Interstate network went four times over budget and took three times longer than expected. It’s not exactly the best model to follow.

    Spokker Reply:

    But thanks can use it!!!! It’s the MILITARY DEFENSE AND WHATEVER HIGHWAY

    Spokker Reply:

    I mean tanks!

    Peter Reply:

    Right. Because we have to have the interstates so we can quickly deploy tanks to any part of the country that may be invaded, right?

  14. cynthia curran
    Jul 10th, 2010 at 19:58
    #14

    Well, two of th biggest supporters of high speed rail are republicians Carl Pringle-Mayor of Anaheim and Tom U also another Repub from Orange County. So, there are some Repubs behnd it as well.

    Bianca Reply:

    Absolutely. John Boyle, the lone supporter of HSR on the Menlo Park City Council, is a Republican. It’s not really a partisan thing. A lot of Republicans support it- which makes sense, really, as building HSR is cheaper than the combined cost of all the freeways and runways and so forth that we would have to build without it.

    Roderick Llewellyn Reply:

    As I recall Schwarzenegger was also against HSR until he saw political advantage in supporting it. I doubt for someone like Whitman it’s really a “gut issue” that defines their base (like, say, opposition to gay marriage or marijuana legalization). Also there are numerous business and political entities that stand to benefit from HSR who will support it. She probably knows nothing about it and just assumes it’s another liberal transit program for poor people. If she gets elected, the various entities in favor of it will correct her knee-jerk reaction quite quickly.

    Robert Cruickshank Reply:

    Tom Umberg is a Democrat.

  15. wenchance
    Jul 11th, 2010 at 21:41
    #15

    The attack adds on Brown have started. I just saw one….I’m starting to get concerned. What would the worst case scenario be if Meg was elected (hopefully she doesn’t)? What would happen to CaHSRA?

    Nathanael Reply:

    Worst case scenario? Meg starts a war?

    HSRforCali Reply:

    Worst case scenario; the Authority’s funding is cut and the project is delayed indefinitely.

    Emma Reply:

    California will sink into the ocean before we elect Whitman. If she really wins, we are all screwed.

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