In Defense of Richard Florida on HSR

Aug 13th, 2010 | Posted by

I had a nagging feeling that yesterday’s post on Richard Florida’s article in The New Republic, “The Roadmap to a High Speed Recovery”, was too short. And judging by the reactions in the comments, the role of HSR in 21st century economic prosperity needs to be more thoroughly explained – as do Florida’s own ideas.

One of the most important criticisms comes from Yonah Freemark, writing today at the Transport Politic about the limitations of Florida’s arguments, particularly his claim about the emergence of mega-regions and the need for HSR to serve them:

Setting aside the positives and negatives of fast trains for now, my biggest qualm with Florida’s argument is his sense that the megaregion will produce the “Concentration and clustering [that] are the underlying motor forces of real economic development.” He cites the Boston-Washington and Char-lanta regions as examples of these megaregions, which he says “Will do more than anything to wean us from our dependency on cars.”

While I don’t dispute the claim that has been made by organizations like Brookings in the past that the vast majority of growth in the U.S. economy will come from within ten or so of these megaregions, I do question how one can conclude that their further development will upside the existing reliance on automobiles and single-family homes. Indeed, the Boston-Washington megaregion already exists as such, and with the exception of a few vibrant city-center cores, the preponderance of growth within them over the past six decades has been in the form of suburban sprawl.

Freemark goes on to argue that current megaregions are actually characterized by higher rates of automobile use and ownership, and that we might not necessarily want to see the development of megaregions.

I don’t disagree with those points, nor with Freemark’s other point that we need to not focus on just HSR, but on other forms of urban passenger rail. I’m not sure Florida would disagree with it either – he seems to see intercity bullet trains as the classic example of post-Great Reset infrastructure the way freeways were to the mid-20th century recovery, or the way railroads were to the late 19th century recovery, but doesn’t appear to be arguing they’re the only example of needed or useful Great Reset infrastructure. I would assume Florida would agree that saving and improving Caltrain is just as important to the Great Reset as is building HSR.

Why would I assume that? Because of what he’s written elsewhere. In his new book, The Great Reset, he explains that a major part of the reset isn’t just high speed rail, but driving less, and that urban rail is a key element of it. In Chapter 20, “The Velocity of You,” he writes about the staggering cost to time and productivity of traffic-choked cities, and writes on page 158 about these costs:

With the constant pressure to innovate, it makes little sense to waste countless collective hours commuting. So the most efficient and productive regions are those in which people are thinking and working – not sitting in traffic.

The auto-dependent transportation system has reached its limit in most major cities and megaregions. Commuting by car is among the least efficient of all our activities – not to mention among the least enjoyable.

Today, in fact, Florida tweeted about a new Gallup study showing workers with long commutes had more averse physical and emotional conditions.

So if you’re looking for someone to advocate for saving Caltrain, call Richard Florida – he’s likely to be on our side on that one.

But what of his effort to root high speed rail in the concept of a megaregion?

First, even if Florida is wrong and we don’t see megaregions develop (or we decide we actively will resist them) we’re still going to need HSR to thrive in the 21st century. As I have argued countless times before, peak oil is going to make it uneconomical to drive or fly between the existing regions of California – yet many of those trips will still need to be made, whether for business or for pleasure. HSR enables those trips to be made comfortably and affordably. We’ve already seen HSR win over business travelers even in today’s travel environment.

But I don’t think Florida is wrong when he posits that “megaregions” will be part of our future. One reason is that, especially here in California, these megaregions are already here. Freemark agreed, but claimed that those megaregions have often come with automobile dependence and sprawl.

And here in California, we know that is definitely true. Look at the people who lived in Modesto and commuted to San José during the boom, or the folks who still commute from places like Victorville to jobs in LA or Orange counties. Lots of people take the Capitol Corridor to work in Sacramento, or the Metrolink from Ventura County to downtown Los Angeles.

Florida’s argument, which I buy, is that these regions will continue to grow – and that they will need some other means of travel that’s not based on the automobile.

Writing in March 2009 in The Atlantic, Florida first laid out this concept in the article How the Crash Will Reshape America (which formed the basis of his book The Great Reset). His point – which as I said yesterday, is not in dispute by historians or geographers – is that great resets, such as that during the Long Depression of 1873-96 or the Great Depression of 1929-45, have resulted in major changes to economic geography:

During that crisis, rising industries like railroads, petroleum, and steel were consolidated, old ones failed, and the way was paved for a period of remarkable innovation and industrial growth. In 1870, New England mill towns like Lowell, Lawrence, Manchester, and Springfield were among the country’s most productive industrial cities, and America’s population overwhelmingly lived in the countryside. By 1900, the economic geography had been transformed from a patchwork of farm plots and small mercantile towns to a landscape increasingly dominated by giant factory cities like Chicago, Cleveland, Pittsburgh, Detroit, and Buffalo.

In The Great Reset, Florida pushes this point further, arguing that in some cities and regions, the right mix of factors is present to not only sustain innovation – but that these few hubs will be the leaders of national economic activity. Instead of the late 20th century model of many different urban regions thriving, Florida argues that 21st century innovation and prosperity will be disproportionately concentrated in these megaregions, where the intellectual, human and financial capital exists to innovate – and other cities will thrive or struggle based on their connectedness to one of these megaregions:

Worldwide, people are crowding into a discrete number of mega-regions, systems of multiple cities and their surrounding suburban rings like the Boston–New York–Washington Corridor. In North America, these mega-regions include SunBelt centers like the Char-Lanta Corridor, Northern and Southern California, the Texas Triangle of Houston–San Antonio–Dallas, and Southern Florida’s Tampa-Orlando-Miami area; the Pacific Northwest’s Cascadia, stretching from Portland through Seattle to Vancouver; and both Greater Chicago and Tor-Buff-Chester in the old Rust Belt. Internationally, these mega-regions include Greater London, Greater Tokyo, Europe’s Am-Brus-Twerp, China’s Shanghai-Beijing Corridor, and India’s Bangalore-Mumbai area. Economic output is ever-more concentrated in these places as well. The world’s 40 largest mega-regions, which are home to some 18 percent of the world’s population, produce two-thirds of global economic output and nearly 9 in 10 new patented innovations.

Some (though not all) of these mega-regions have a clear hub, and these hubs are likely to be better buffered from the crash than most cities, because of their size, diversity, and regional role. Chicago has emerged as a center for industrial management and has rolled up many of the functions, such as finance and law, once performed in smaller midwestern centers. Los Angeles has a broad, diverse economy with global strength in media and entertainment. Miami, which is being hit hard by the collapse of the real-estate bubble, nonetheless remains the commercial center for the large South Florida mega-region, and a major financial center for Latin America. Each of these places is the financial and commercial core of a large mega-region with tens of millions of people and hundreds of billions of dollars in output. That’s not going to change as a result of the crisis.

Along with the rise of mega-regions, a second phenomenon is also reshaping the economic geography of the United States and the world. The ability of different cities and regions to attract highly educated people—or human capital—has diverged, according to research by Edward Glaeser of Harvard and Christopher Berry of the University of Chicago* , among others. Thirty years ago, educational attainment was spread relatively uniformly throughout the country, but that’s no longer the case. Cities like Seattle, San Francisco, Austin, Raleigh, and Boston now have two or three times the concentration of college graduates of Akron or Buffalo. Among people with postgraduate degrees, the disparities are wider still. The geographic sorting of people by ability and educational attainment, on this scale, is unprecedented.

So where does high speed rail fit into this? Not only does it allow San Francisco to connect to San Jose more quickly, and not only does it boost Caltrain, allowing the Peninsula to connect to those hubs more easily – it also helps connect the rest of California to those hubs as well.

Again, we’ve already seen this emerge. San Joaquin and Stanislaus counties – home to cities like Stockton, Tracy, and Modesto – were de facto annexed to the Bay Area megaregion beginning in the 1990s and definitely in the 2000s. Currently those cities are suffering high unemployment because of their distance from the job centers of SF and San José, because the real estate industry collapsed, and because gas prices are still too high for residents there to prosper even with a long commute to a Bay Area job.

But because 21st century economic innovation is going to be concentrated in the hubs, people living in places like Stockton, Modesto, Fresno and Bakersfield will still want to access the jobs in the hubs. Already we see unemployment rate is much lower in the hub counties of SF, Santa Clara, and LA than in the Central Valley.

One might respond “so what? If people want jobs, they should move closer to work. Turn Stockton into Detroit, just abandon it.” That of course assumes people living in the Bay Area core would be willing to accept 500,000 to 1 million new residents in their midst and the high-rise, high-density housing developments that’ll be needed to house them – and the mass transit needed to move them around.

But there are other reasons to suspect that megaregions will continue to develop anyway. Because of the desire for walkable, compact communities, existing city centers will likely attract new residents. Don’t look now, but this is already starting to happen even in Fresno, in neighborhoods like the Tower District. With high speed rail, someone can affordably live in Fresno and work in San José or Los Angeles.

Perhaps more importantly, someone can live in SF or LA – amidst the intellectual, human, and financial capital of those areas – and work in Fresno. Fresno and Bakersfield, along with many other Central Valley cities where HSR stations are proposed, have affordable, even cheap industrial workspace available. Someone can brainstorm an innovative startup in Silicon Valley, but set up shop in Fresno – without having to live there. HSR provides affordable travel back and forth, allowing innovators to maximize their productive time without wasting it in a car, unable to check email or review the Google Doc or watch the online video.

Others claim that HSR and megaregions are a recipe for sprawl, on the argument that sprawl is somehow inevitable. Sprawl is NOT a force of nature. It is a product of three factors: cheap oil, cheap credit and favorable land use laws. Cheap oil is a thing of the past. Cheap credit will be as well – rates are low right now, but loans are hard to get, and virtually everyone expects rates to rise very soon. Even with a bailout, we have not seen a return to the lax lending practices, fueled by cheap credit, that enabled the most recent binge of Central Valley sprawl.

As to the last point, land use rules are going to have to change regardless of HSR. Stopping HSR isn’t going to eliminate sprawl, far from it. But to eliminate sprawl, you need to provide opportunities for urban density and transit-oriented development. Portland, Oregon provides the model. Portland has strict anti-sprawl rules, but these were only successful because Portland promoted urban density. Providing passenger rail has been the key to that. In short, if you want to stop sprawl, you need to give people another option.

HSR is that other option. Without HSR Central Valley cities will have less incentive to channel development to city centers and will lack the infrastructure to make it happen even if they chose to do so.

That’s not all. The state legislature is also planning to link land use, sprawl, and global warming via Sen. Darrell Steinberg’s SB 375, which prioritizes TOD and helps cut down on sprawl. Prop 1A contained a provision forbidding construction of a station at Los Banos, a key demand of anti-sprawl advocates.

Finally, as Freemark points out, Florida’s argument is also rooted in his belief that America is moving away from dependence on the automobile suburb:

Florida’s essay is framed around the idea that in the post-World War II era, “Home ownership provided a powerful form of geographic Keynsianism;” the association between the car and the single-family house, the author argues, was the fundamental economic principle that defined the way the U.S. advanced as a society and brought to it the tremendous material wealth it enjoys but also the “Over-investment in housing, autos, and energy” that plagues it.

My own view is that we definitely are seeing a shift away from that postwar “geographic Keynesianism” – the great shift away from driving is already under way, homeownership rates are in a long-term decline, and future generations are probably not as likely to want to spend their money on a mortgage or an auto loan as on something else entirely. But here again, even if those trends don’t hold up, the inexorable logic of rising fuel costs will still necessitate high speed rail – and other forms of passenger rail – in order to move people around our regions and our state.

In the end, you don’t have to believe Richard Florida’s argument about us living through a Great Reset that will rearrange the USA’s economic geography to focus on megaregions that are best served by bullet trains in order to support HSR. But I do think there is strong evidence in support of that argument. Either way, as long as you support HSR, no matter what your reasons, that’s good enough for me.

  1. rafael
    Aug 13th, 2010 at 16:04
    #1

    a) People bought houses in east CC, east Alameda and several CV counties because homeowners (= voters) near the employment centers in Silicon Valley and SF were able to artificially prop up the value of their own properties via local zoning laws. Good for them, but it’s the state and federal taxpayers that have ended up footing the bill for the lost productivity and now, the additional infrastructure needed to curb those losses.

    b) Silicon Valley and SF businesses have done little to take advantage of this new pool of skilled labor that has been forced to move to affordable housing well east of the SF Bay. It’s still standard practice to set up shop close to wherever top managers can afford to live, distributed offices are more complex and expensive to operate. The demand for long-distance commuting in NorCal would decline if new greentech industries were to diversify the Central Valley’s economy away from basic food production, especially from thirsty crops like rice, alfalalfa, cotton and pasture.

    Paul Dyson Reply:

    If you’re going to move away from the core then Bangalore is still cheaper than Stockton, although that could change given the decline in real incomes in CA.

    Robert Cruickshank Reply:

    True, but there’s no small amount of difference between moving from San José to Stockton and moving from San José to Bangalore.

    Robert Cruickshank Reply:

    I’m not sure that the demand for long-distance commuting in NorCal would decline under those circumstances. Instead you might see the knitting together of an economy that requires such long-distance commuting. Someone has a solar power company based in San José, near their home in (let’s say) Saratoga, but sets up their manufacturing shop in Fresno. Fresno residents are hired to work there, but some of them will travel to the home office in SJ for training, meetings, whatever.

    What I suspect will be more of a factor is people living in the Central Valley and working at jobs located in the hub counties.

  2. jimsf
    Aug 13th, 2010 at 18:25
    #2

    YOu don’t have to always get the people to get closer to their jobs, you can also work to get the jobs closer to the people. Let Stockton, Fresno, and other areas do what they can to woo all kinds of businesses to their cities. The answer isn’t to cram everyone into sf and sj, the answer is balance. the answer is always balance in life. That means creating a balance of jobs and employees in all cities and towns.

  3. Risenmessiah
    Aug 13th, 2010 at 19:36
    #3

    Robert embracing Richard Florida makes for seriously odd bedfellows. Florida is an apologist for (best as I can tell) for the Greenspan free market libretarianism. I’ve yet to see Florida argue for more public investment, but rather fewer restrictions on the belief that the market will take care of itself.

    As a prime example, Florida suggested that gays were an important driver in successful urban areas. He asserted this is because ideas need close proximity to foment innovation. However, Florida doesn’t call for building more libraries or coffeehouses. And why should he….gays are the perfect compliment to the tax rebellion of the 1970s and 80s. They don’t have kids, so the shift from funding local services from property tax to sales tax is a net benefit to the cities in which they live. (Schools need less money, and they have more discretionary income.)

    Florida’s ideas that mega-regions and uber-cities will come to dominate is nothing more than a belief that if left to itself the market will correct itself and that property values will align with true cost. It’s a great theory n’ all, but Karl Marx is also still waiting for the workers of the world to unite under one banner and cast aside their national affiliations too.

  4. HSRforCali
    Aug 13th, 2010 at 19:47
    #4

    Alhambra’s just plain ridiculous:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VdzDDrUfJuY

    political_incorrectness Reply:

    Thse guys are beyond clueless with noise. Pollution. Umm, Don’t you already have that with the San Bernadino and Ponoma Freeways? I thought the Peninsula was bad, thse guys just do not have an idea of what high-speed rail is.

    YesonHSR Reply:

    Silly slurb America…

    jimsf Reply:

    See you have to watch that and realize that this is the country we live in today. Its why plans for solving so many of the big problems will never materialize. Then, these same people will blame the government for its inability to solve problems. They will also, in the same breath, both advocate for the virtues of the free market while lambasting big business. What it all comes down to is that america has managed to breed an entire society of of people who lack both the ability to think critically and the desire to take any responsibility for the situation before them. The wretched state of our nation’s ability to function. The modern day response to challenges ( for instance the tea party etc) is reactionary not revolutionary. This dooms us as a nation by sentencing us to a slow irreversible decline. That’s where we are now. Obama’s election, for many, was a desperate cry for hope, that was swiftly smacked down and quelled before it could get off the ground. So here we are. Look back at the massive upheaval it took in the 60s and 70s just to barely bump the country a schoche towards a new direction. That kind of energy and motivation doesn’t exist today. That means we have lost. The game is over. EVerything from here forward is just a pretend america.

  5. Drunk Engineer
    Aug 13th, 2010 at 21:47
    #5

    San Joaquin and Stanislaus counties – home to cities like Stockton, Tracy, and Modesto – were de facto annexed to the Bay Area megaregion beginning in the 1990s and definitely in the 2000s.

    .

    Except that the proposed high-speed line won’t actually serve any of these places. Instead, what Robert proposes is using high-speed rail to develop entirely new agricultural, greenbelt, and wilderness, while doing nothing for the ex-urban sprawly mess we already have along the 580/80/680 corridors.

    jimsf Reply:

    There are high speed rail stops planned for Sacramento, Stockton, Modesto, Merced, and Fresno, on the north south route, as well as high speed upgrades to the Stockton, Tracy, Livermore Valley, Silicon Valley route. As well as Bart connections at Livermore, plus Capitol Corridor service on the 80 corridor and San Joaquin service in between the ccjpa and ace corridors. There will hardly be a place you can’t get to.

    Drunk Engineer Reply:

    Amtrak-type service != high-speed rail

    jimsf Reply:

    I think this will be plenty…

    not all it needs to be hsr. at least not right now.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    So tell us all about the double decker BART trains people will be using to get to San Francisco. BART is already at capacity during peak. Very difficult to add more passengers unless they get very very friendly and begin to put two passengers in each seat.

    jimsf Reply:

    Did you miss the part that has been mentioned a zillion times about an eventual 2nd tube slated for 2050?

    Caelestor Reply:

    You do realize there is demand for the 2nd tube now, right? So why not shave at least 20 years off that projected date?

    Joey Reply:

    There are things they could do now to alleviate the need for a second tube. Such as finish that $80 million signaling upgrade project which fell through a while back. Or maybe, just maybe, try and get new railcars NOW, rather than putting funds into extensions to San José, Livermore, etc, which will only put more strain in the core system.

    political_incorrectness Reply:

    If they are able to, decrease the frequency to every 2.5 minutes or less. Skytrain in Vancouver can do every 90 seconds but BART probably needs time for extra dwell time until new rolling stock are accquired. Reduction to every 2.5 minutes can increase all lines rush hour capacity by 50%.

    Joey Reply:

    Timetables indicate that BART is running as little as 2 minute headways during peak hours. They might be able to cut that down a little, but the other thing is that, as far as I know, they are running as many of their existing trains during rush hour as they can, so they probably won’t be able to run any more trains until they start replacing their fleet.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    In the peak half hour, BART runs 24 tph. It’s common for urban rail to do 30 tph even without automation, but BART has a problem with dwells at Embarcadero. If instead BART had another route sharing the Transbay Tube but not the stations, the combined system would be capable of 32 tph, on the model of the RER B + D.

    jimsf Reply:

    I’ve never noticed any dwell at embarcadero…??

    Joey Reply:

    If a train stops at a station, then it “dwells” there for a nonzero amount of time. BART dwell times are usually around 15-20 seconds, although it’s up to the train’s operator when to close the doors.

    jimsf Reply:

    right, but I mean I never noticed the train being at emb any longer than the others. In any case, the new fleet will have more room for standees during rush hour and three doors versus two per car per side. And they still aren’t even running all ten car trains anyway. So that will all help to some extent. I do like the idea of carving out outside platforms on the downtown sf stops and having people exit that way.

    Joey Reply:

    They currently have as many trains in service during peak hours as the realities of train maintenance will allow (given their current fleet size). I don’t think they can run any more 10 car trains until they have a few more railcars to work with.

    jimsf Reply:

    well you have probably seen this but here’s some variations they are considering to increase capacity with thenew cars

    jimsf Reply:

    They are in the process of finalizing the car design right now and are suppose to choose a supplier before the end of this year.

    jimsf Reply:

    Well for one thing it will take at least that long to go through the design and eir process.

    Joey Reply:

    They could probably have the planning work done in a few years if they were actively working on it.

    jimsf Reply:

    and joey they probably are working on it. It just not something they are gonna go spouting off to the public about right now cuz the minute you do that, for one thing, the opposition starts up as does the naysaying, the funding worries and everything else. YOu can bet they are talking about the long range plan in closed circles..

    jimsf Reply:

    According to BART the tube will reach capacity in 2018, and the plan for the new vehicle design is to increase car capacity to extend the tube’s capacity for an additional 30 years. No doubt during that time the proposal for a 2nd tube will then arise. At that point they can say, “we have done everything we can to maximize capacity in the original tube, with car mods and signaling. any further capacity must come from a second tube.” In addition to that, by waiting until other agencies, including HSR are also reaching capacity and ready for another phase of expansion, the proposal will consist of a joint effort towards a 4 bore tube. I know it, and they know it. Any talk of funding another tube right now would go absolutely nowhere. Politics require that it wait.

    jimsf Reply:

    and increasing capacity between now and then will be done by increasing standing room and adding additional doors for faster loading on the new 1000 car fleet currently being designed. Also Increase transbay ferry service via the WETA plan will provide an alternative for a portion of bart riders.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    MMMM yeah. take the train to Oakland walk a few blocks to the ferry for a nice slow ride across the Bay to the Ferry terminal in San Francisco, should attract dozens or riders a month.

    jimsf Reply:

    not for people to get off bart and walk to the ferry. but for people who can, to use the ferry instead of bart. There are places such as alameda where the choice is the 51 to fruitvale bart, or direct ferry to sf. the plan is to add ferry service to more places where people might have a choice of ferry rather than bart which is in bayside community with water access where people currently go to the nearest bart station instead. And just so you know, unlike new yorkers, bay area people are not forever in a mad rush race to nowhere. Ferry commuters don’t complain about the speed, they relish the enjoyable trip and pay more do so… on purpose and everything!

    Joey Reply:

    Ferry commuters don’t complain about the speed, they relish the enjoyable trip and pay more do so… on purpose and everything!

    There are also very few of them. I wonder why…

    jimsf Reply:

    Probably because there is currently fairly limited ferry service. WETA will be expanding that. And FYI most of the ferry trips are under 30 minutes.

    jimsf Reply:

    -If you come from vallejo you can sit on i-80 for an hour or more in traffic and pay for two bridges, or you can relax on the boat for an hour.

    -From Marin, the city is a 30 minute trip from Larkspur – faster than driving 101/ggbridge
    and its 25 minutes from Sausalito – again faster than 101/ggbrige

    the sf-oak=alameda ferry is PACKED to capacity everyday. I work right next door to gate E and see the people lined up waiting to go home everyday for the 20 minute trip to oak/ala

  6. ks
    Aug 13th, 2010 at 21:51
    #6

    Sprawl is, to some extent, caused by Americans’ craving for mansions. According to the Mar 2009 issue of National Geographic, “the average new house is 45 percent bigger than it was 30 years ago.”

    HSR probably will have little effect – positive or otherwise – on sprawl. But it will make our life easier.

    Matthew Reply:

    I think HSR by itself doesn’t necessarily reduce sprawl, but having an integrated rail network including urban metro systems and suburban commuter rail does. A complete system ensures that wherever you need to go, you just check the train schedule on your smart phone and walk to the station. That kind of connectivity is compelling enough to convince people to live in dense housing in cities around the world. Imagine the transportation lifestyle that would be made possible by augmenting this map with high speed rail: http://seattletransitblog.com/2010/08/14/frequency-mapping-the-west-coast-rail-corridor/

    Robert Cruickshank Reply:

    Sprawl is not caused by market demand. It is the product of the factors I described above – cheap credit, cheap oil, and favorable land use policy. Within that context, over several decades, the McMansion eventually did evolve. But with the absence of cheap credit and cheap oil, and with land use policies changing, this “craving for mansions” – such as it exists – will evaporate.

  7. Alon Levy
    Aug 13th, 2010 at 21:54
    #7

    Robert, I see two major flaws in your defense. First, while you cite Florida as saying that automobile commutes are a problem, there’s no citation for him talking about the economic value of local transit; he only ever talks about shiny things like HSR. And second, your only citation about megaregions is Florida himself, leading to getting the world wrong.

    It’s hard to express just how ignorant Florida’s world megaregion classification is. His method is based on patches of continuous density; this works in the US, but only because it’s a country with low rural density, relatively flat terrain, and sprawling metro areas. When rural density is high, Florida imagines megaregions that are in reality predominantly rural (for example in India) or connect separate megaregions as defined by local geographers (for example in China). When there are geographic barriers or not enough sprawl, Florida’s method fails to identify megaregions that local geographers know about, such as the Taiheiyo Belt and the Blue Banana.

    This is important for HSR, because it shows how the interaction between intercity rail and megaregions is different in different parts of the world. The Tokaido-Sanyo Shinkansen runs within a megaregion, but the Chinese HSR lines connect metro areas in separate megaregions or outside megaregions entirely, and the TGV just connects the provincial cities to Paris.

    (In case it’s not clear, this goes to my contention that Florida doesn’t know what he’s talking about.)

  8. political_incorrectness
    Aug 14th, 2010 at 00:55
    #8

    OT: But Transdef, Menlo Park, and Atherton are suing yet again.

    They will then claim that the cost will be underprojected without realizing they’re delaying the project. http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2010/08/11/BU7T1ESF57.DTL

  9. Spokker
    Aug 14th, 2010 at 06:05
    #9

    Off-topic, but did we ever bring this up back in April?

    http://www.mercurynews.com/breaking-news/ci_15772908?nclick_check=1

    “Speaking of high-speed rail, the Times recently obtained a poll conducted by public opinion research firm Fairbank, Maslin, Maullin, Metz & Associates on the 21st Assembly District race.

    The survey, which was conducted in April and targeted Democratic voters in advance of the June primary, asked two questions of 21st District voters regarding the bullet-train project, and the answers, though old, are a bit surprising.

    First, respondents were asked generally whether they supported or opposed the plan to build a high-speed rail line linking the major cities in California. Fifty-four percent said they strongly supported the plan, 23 percent somewhat supported the plan, 9 percent somewhat opposed it, 9 percent strongly opposed it and 5 percent didn’t have an opinion.

    Then respondents were asked, “Does knowing that a portion of the high-speed train system will be built through the Peninsula make you more or less inclined to support building the high-speed rail system?”

    Twenty-six percent said it made them much more inclined, 25 percent said somewhat more inclined, 24 percent said it made no difference, 11 percent were somewhat less inclined, 10 percent were much less inclined and 5 percent had no opinion.”

    This shows support for high speed rail among Peninsula democrats even when asked what they think of using the Peninsula corridor.

    A caveat. They only questioned democrats. I don’t know what the political makeup of the Peninsula is. However, they did question a lot of older folks. 79 percent of the respondents were 45 or older.

    Another caveat is that this was before the state audit report.

    But I do think it demonstrates that not everybody on the Peninsula is against the project going through the Peninsula.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    That’s the problem Spokker they didn’t ask Real ‘Murcans. Democrats dont’ count.

    Robert Cruickshank Reply:

    I’ll have more on the poll in a post later today. But from what I have been told, the poll also included independent voters.

    Spokker Reply:

    It is possible that respondents assumed that by “Peninsula,” surveyors meant the 101. It’s also possible that answers would be slightly different if questioned about the Caltrain corridor. I doubt the difference would be very high.

    Bianca Reply:

    It is possible that respondents assumed that by “Peninsula,” surveyors meant the 101.

    No, I’m sorry. Not in April 2010, that doesn’t fly. By that time, darn near everyone understood that the plans call for using the existing rail corridor. Spokker, I know you aren’t local to this area, but trust me, if you live around here and you have heard about HSR, you understand that plans call for using the Caltrain corridor. The people who don’t know that aren’t paying attention to the issue at all and haven’t picked up a local paper or talked to their neighbors in the last two years. The “I didn’t realize they meant the Caltrain corridor!” thing that we’ve heard here and elsewhere might fly if you are talking about the 2008 election, but not in the Spring of 2010.

    Spokker Reply:

    I’m only saying it’s possible that [i]some[/i] people thought that, but I doubt the response would change very much if the question was worded to include “Caltrain Corridor.”

    I stand by what I said.

    Spokker Reply:

    Haha, forgot to use HTML and not bulletin board code.

    Robert Cruickshank Reply:

    Only slightly different, I’m guessing. Bianca’s point is a very good one; this portion of the Peninsula that was surveyed (including Palo Alto and Menlo Park) was very, very familiar with the HSR project by April 2010, and significant majorities still backed it. If the Morris Brown or even the PCC position were representative of public opinion, the number of people who oppose HSR would have been much higher.

    The real question here is how the PCC can credibly claim to represent its constituents when so many of them support HSR, whereas the PCC itself says it has to be “done right – or not at all.” Looking at this poll, I’m not seeing any justification for the “or not at all” position.

  10. mike
    Aug 14th, 2010 at 09:25
    #10

    San Mateo Co. is heavily Democratic, with 2.4 Democrats for every 1 Republican. Santa Clara Co. isn’t far behind (1.9 to 1). In order to get 50% of Peninsula voters opposed to HSR, there would have to be 90% opposition among Republicans and 70% opposition among independents (most of whom vote Democratic). The latter is particularly unlikely.

    Bootom line: Robert’s actually right on this one. If there are any Peninsula folks who are opposed to HSR in significant numbers, they must be Republicans (who are by definition a minority here). Certainly they aren’t Democrats.

    YesonHSR Reply:

    Its just that ..the far right/teabagger/reason types..and the people along the tracks..I just talked to someone from paloalto the other day and he says its the people along the tracks making all the noise .Many in Paloalto want HSR and a station.of course that decreases as you near the caltrain line ..but then these are the same ones that voted no and fill the news with tales of horror

    Robert Cruickshank Reply:

    Yep. There is every reason to believe a clear majority on the Peninsula still supports HSR.

    Paul Dyson Reply:

    The only useful poll would be the one that asked if the respondent would be prepared to write a check for their share of the cost.

    Robert Cruickshank Reply:

    We had that poll. It was in November 2008, called “Proposition 1A” and 52% of voters across California approved it.

  11. John Burrows
    Aug 14th, 2010 at 10:23
    #11

    How effectively HSR connects the regions of California is going to depend in part on how cheap ticket prices are.

    CAHSR is currently looking at two scenarios for potential ticket pricing. In the first model, they assume fares to be 50% of airfare over a comparable distance. This model generates “significant revenue surplus” and is used for environmental review because it assumes the highest ridership, the most trains, and therefore the broadest environmental impact.

    The second model, which assumes fares to be 83% of airfare, generates maximum revenue; the assumption being that operations and maintenance costs will drop faster than passenger revenue will, and that at the 83% level, CAHSR will make the most money. This is the model currently favored for ticket pricing.

    If high speed rail is going to do its job of connecting the cities of California then fares need to be as low as possible. The purpose of high speed rail in California should be to serve the people of California to the max, not to make the most profit.

    We don”t know how much it will cost to ride the train ten years from now, but keep the fares as low as possible.

    Joey Reply:

    It’s a little more complicated than just making money. CHSRA will have private loans to pay back (hopefully as little as possible), and they intend to use surplus revenue to help fund phase 2. I would like to see low fares as well (though not so low that they require an operating subsidy), but the funding realities of both phases might make that impossible.

    Elizabeth Reply:

    That is actually not the latest plan.

    The latest plan (the 2009 Biz Plan) has the private contribution as a mix between equity and debt financing. The equity financing bit means that private investors would get any revenues left after operating costs and and debt financing cost. In the current plan, none of the money would be available for extensions to San Diego and Sacramento.

    jimsf Reply:

    The idea of pricing tickets at 50 or 83 percent of airfare doesn’t mean anything unless they specify which airfare right? There isn’t “an” airfare. Different airlines have different fare bucket prices, and there are several fare buckets, so, are they are going to use a set single fare at 50 or 83 percent of the full “Y” airfare of one particular airline? Are they doing to set the fares at given hour based on 50 or 83 percent of the available fare on a particular airline at that same hour? 50 or 83 percent of the airfare available on a particular airline’s website or the one available over the phone or at the ticket counter?

    50 or 83 percent of “the” airfare is meaningless. And consider that a fare between sf and la can be as low as 49 dollars but an airfare from sf to bakersfield can be as high 1100 dollars (rt) they clearly aren’t going to be able to base rail fare on airfare.

    BruceMcF Reply:

    In this context, it means 50% or 83% of the average airfare used as a parameter in their statistical analysis of existing patronage of existing modes.

  12. political_incorrectness
    Aug 14th, 2010 at 11:43
    #12

    John, I do not believe 50% of airfare can cover operating costs. TGV Reassu’s operate at .103 euros per km. This translates to $0.209 per mile. For the 432 miles, it would cost $90.49 just to cover maintenance and operations. However, what I am unsure of if the fixed costs that are used are for a per year basis.

    http://mpra.ub.uni-muenchen.de/12397/1/MPRA_paper_12397.pdf My statistics are found on page 19 of this report.

    political_incorrectness Reply:

    Looks like I was inaccurate on my calculations. Per mile cost comes to around $0.214 per mile with a final cost of $92.55

    Peter Reply:

    You’re assuming that airfare will be less than $200 in 2020 and later. I don’t think that to be likely, especially as Southwest’s fuel hedge runs out…

    political_incorrectness Reply:

    Got me there, since once economic recovery is in full swing, oil prices will head up. Since HSR will not be vunerable to oil shocks and benefit from them; air fares are likely to go skyrocketing.

    Richard Mlynarik Reply:

    Since HSR will not be vunerable to oil shocks

    HSR will run on batteries harvested from the organic battery trees in Hidden Valley! And electricity generated by unicorns on treadmills chasing after rainbows! In fact the more hydrocarbons cost, the less it costs to run HS trains, which will be powered by a combination of solar cells mounted on the roof of the train and the ambient smug harvested from the air by scoops on the train’s radiator grille. A little advertised fact is that the more oil costs, the more power that the HSR system will generate. (Don’t let on yet: this is our secret weapon and the NIMBY Denialists in Palo Alto must not know about it until it is too late!) Trains will run at 500kmh at headways of 3 minutes in order to generate the power that will split the H20 that will liberate the H2 that will fill the Hydrogen Superhighway that will power the fuel cells that will innovate our way through and past the Coming Weird Times.

    Matthew Reply:

    yawn

    wu ming Reply:

    for someone with such pretensions to engineering wonkery, it’s startling to see you say something so dumb. HSR will not run on oil, directly or indirectly, since california does not burn hardly any oil to produce electricity. peak oil is a liquid fuel crisis, global warming carbon stuff is a different problem. oil shocks will only impact HSR by making it more expensive for people to drive their cars to the nearest station. the operation of the train will be completely insulated from gas prices or spot shortages.

    Richard Mlynarik Reply:

    Today’s word for you is “fungibility”.

    wu ming Reply:

    i assume you mean oil not burned in one part of the economy will necessarily be burned elsewhere, and so conservation is pointless? or are you claiming that since electricity and oil are both forms of energy, it’s the same either way?

    what is your point, richard, besides acting smug?

    Spokker Reply:

    His smug is so powerful that we could operate one train from Los Angeles all the way to San Francisco on just one of his posts.

    Peter Reply:

    And with Rafael’s take on thermodynamics we can regain all the energy invested on getting the train up into the high desert when it descends back into the Central Valley.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    Peter, do you have a link for this? I remember a bunch of people saying Rafael made some stupid claims about regenerative braking in descent, but I don’t remember reading Rafael make the claim.

    D. P. Lubic Reply:

    Here are some reference items:

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

    http://www.railway-technical.com/

    http://www.twoof.freeserve.co.uk/TRACTION3.htm

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

    http://www.oldmilwaukeeroad.com/content/proud/complete_text.htm

    A comment about the last entry above is in order. . .

    This railroad wasn’t built to the west coast until the 20th century. In coming into Seattle and other such cities as late as it did, it was largely locked out of a lot of traffic sources, such as the docks area, because other roads, notably the Great Northern, Northern Pacific, and Oregon Railway & Navigation Company (Union Pacific subsidiary) were already there. In fact, the Milwaukee never did have its own station or terminal in Seattle, relying instead on leased facilities from OR&N (which was also the only road in the area that didn’t go directly to Chicago as all the others including the Milwaukee did, and hence did not see the Milwaukee as a competitive challenge). As such, it was always “revenue challenged,” having to scrape what traffic it could get due to either a preferential routing by a shipper or by serving places like lumber camps that weren’t connected to any other road.

    The electrification, despite the shortcomings of a system that was never completed, and its advancing age in later years (some of the original 1915 electrics were still working in 1973, and the newest ones dated to 1947), still helped the road survive on its meager loadings.

    The management, though, confronted with the decision to either upgrade the electric operation or save some capital by abandoning it, chose abandonment in the spring of 1973.

    It was an example of horrible timing.

    The first Arab oil embargo followed that October. The road went into bankruptcy, and its beautifully engineered western extension is now a 900 or so mile bike path.

    http://www.oldmilwaukeeroad.com/content/proud/images.htm

    So much for the wisdom of the market and capitalism.

    BruceMcF Reply:

    Today’s words for you are elasticity of supply and elasticity of demand.

    Paulus Magnus Reply:

    http://energyalmanac.ca.gov/overview/energy_sources.html

    California doesn’t burn oil for it’s electricity. Natural gas is an unfortunately high percentage, however, I’m not aware of any expected major shocks or rises for it in the near future.

    BruceMcF Reply:

    If past performance is a guide to future performance, natural gas prices will rise as crude oil prices rise (though not by the same amount).

    Alon Levy Reply:

    PI, the TGV is highly profitable; the LGV Sud-Est runs at a farebox recovery ratio of 1.25. So the operating costs are somewhat lower. In addition, due to legacy union work rules at SNCF, the TGV is severely overstaffed, which the greenfield CAHSR will probably be able to avoid.

    Andre Peretti Reply:

    That’s one of the TGV’s accomplishments. The thousands of employees on the payroll have managed to make themselves totally invisible to the layman. They’re nowhere to be seen whenever you need them.

  13. morris brown
    Aug 14th, 2010 at 12:15
    #13

    Posting on this blog for anyone against the project is always a dilemma. If you oppose the project, You get labeled, in my case as a “denier”, or some other supposedly derogatory noun. Whatever.

    However, there has been quite some sympathy for pointing out the incompetence of the Authority. I copy below an artice from the local newspaper “Dally Post”, which is not available on the internet, so this full copy is the only way to view it, short of having a paper copy, from which this is OCR’d

    The point is is just what should be obvious to anyone, the poor choice of using the CalTrain ROW on the peninsula.

    ————–

    Daily Post 8-14-2010 Page 1 –
    Train Track déjà vu for city.
    BY RYAN THOMAS RIDDLE
    Daily Post Staff Writer

    Rail agency’s current track choices ruled out years ago in San Mateo

    Some of the options the California High-Speed Rail Authority is considering for putting the trains through San Mateo were ruled out more than 15 years ago in a report on the rail corridor.
    Elevated train tracks or a partially dug trench just don’t work as options for bringing a train through the city of San Mateo, according to a 1994 study on the subject.

    The state’s High-Speed Rail Authority dumped plans last week for tunnels through the Peninsula. As the trains rocket through San Mateo, they could through at either ground level or in a fully dug trench .But the trench was never dug.

    “They didn’t have the money to depress the tracks which I think, in hindsight, is too bad,” said Gerald Cauthen, a transportation engineer and consultant, who led the study.
    Cauthen said the study was proof that people on the Peninsula weren’t just NIMBYs and had a vested interest in how trains traverse the region.
    In 1992, the city of San Mateo hired planning and engineering firm Parsons Brinckerhoff to examine alternatives for Caltrain to pass through the downtown area. The city wanted to eliminate the traffic caused by cars waiting to get across the train tracks, said Cauthen.
    Early in the project, the consultants and the city quickly eliminated fully or partially elevated tracks and a partial trench where the train is dropped slightly but still pokes out of the ground, judging that they would never pass muster with residents.

    “We didn’t study them and put a lot a time on them because they were very unpopular in the city of San Mateo,” said Cauthen The problem with the partial trench is that cars would have to cross over on arched bridges. The city wanted this option explored because it would save on having to fully dig into the ground, said Cauthen.The problem was the reverse for partially-elevated tracks. Cars would have to go under the tracks to get across. However, Cauthen said, “If I had to choose between fully elevated or partly up, I’d go with fully elevated

    .”He said that either option would’ve resulted in huge retaining walls in front of many of the downtown businesses and streets.
    “You (would’ve) got these ugly, blighted structures,” said Cauthen.
    At the time the study was done, only two tracks in either direction were being examined, not four tracks for two bullet trains and two commuter trains.
    “I don’t think anybody contemplated 200 mile-per-hour trains through the Peninsula,” said Cauthen.
    He said the high-speed rail trains would have to slow down as they pass through dense urban areas like San Mateo. That’s because of the noise the trains create when they go at full tilt.
    “I have some misgivings about the high-speed rail program,” said Cauthen. “I’d like to see California get high-speed rail but they’ve got a ways to go.”

    YesonHSR Reply:

    Nothing ever comes out of your mouth but SOME negative thought,link ect ect..

    Peter Reply:

    “The point is is just what should be obvious to anyone, the poor choice of using the CalTrain ROW on the peninsula.”

    The fact that it happens to go past your house has NOTHING to do with your opinion, of course…

    Alon Levy Reply:

    Nobody is contemplating 200 miles per hour through the Peninsula now, either. They’re contemplating 200 km/h, which is not the same thing.

    Richard Mlynarik Reply:

    200kmh is still insane and will never be operated except in fantasy support of PB ridership “projections”, just as 360kmh will never be operated through the middle of the Central Valley cities.

    It’s unrealistic, infeasible and … geometrically impossible anyway in San Mateo.

    You just need to observe that the economic geniuses at the Peninsula Rail Program (the people who are brining you CBOSS) are refusing to even contemplate curve easing beyond the existing ROW.

    They’ll do anything to put in 4 tracks in order to maximize the civil engineering cost of the line, but they never even consider anything that would improve operation of the line — in fact, the highly ethical and professional agency and consultants always choose the very worst possible (in fact, worse than anybody even believed was possible) train operations environment. Maximizing construction cost and maximizing operating cost: it’s the gift that keeps on giving.

    Anyway, if they insist — as they do — on unsupportably and irrationally retaining the useless and too closely spaced station at Hayward Park (one of 3 in the huge City of San Mateo), and if they insist — as they do — on not substantially easing the curves to the north of San Mateo station and between Hillsdale and San Mateo, then there’s no way that trains are going to operate at 200kmh anywhere north of Redwood City anyway … even if that were an acceptable way to operate trains from a capacity, energy consumption or noise generation perspective, which it isn’t.

    PBQD, HNTB and the Peninsula Rail Program: where bald faced lying about elementary and readily apparent geometrical facts is a profitable and consequence free way of life!

    200kmh on the peninsula? Only in Powerpoint presentations and “planning” documents.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    It’s geometrically impossible for much of the line, but not for all of it. The existing runtimes and simulations assume very little curve easing on the Peninsula to begin with; if I remember the discussion in Clem’s post correctly, only two of the ten worst curves are to be eased.

    But the point is that Cauthen is spreading FUD about what HSR will do on the Peninsula. If we are to believe the HSRA, trains will do 200. If we are to believe you, they’ll do about 160. Both are a world apart from 200 mph.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    even if that were an acceptable way to operate trains from a capacity, energy consumption or noise generation perspective, which it isn’t.

    Richard, trains run through green leafy suburbs just as rich are those on the Peninsula at speeds in excess of 125MPH, all over the world. A few of them do it in suburbs as rich as the ones on the Peninsula at speeds in excess of 125MPH right here in the United States and have been doing it for decades. The cows don’t go dry, the hens still lay, the barista at Starbucks are still snooty.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    You must have used the sentence “The cows don’t go dry” ten times by now. Don’t you get tired writing the same comments over and over?

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    I’ll get tired of it when Richard gets tired of claiming that trains don’t run through suburbs at 125, they do.

    D. P. Lubic Reply:

    Well, maybe Richard needs to see video footage of Amtrak trains at 150 right in town–Kingston, R.I.:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=be2d6pT4lOg&feature=related

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9rkHL7JTIwM&feature=related

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DXs3T3Eia_A&feature=related

    From the train at 150; hard to see the houses through the trees, but they are there:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NXfM8q60Gcc&feature=related

    Cab footage at a relatively slow 125 mph:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=D7mbFiIH6-Q

    Mansfield, Mass., passing people on a station platform waiting for a following train. Note that it doesn’t suck anybody away, runs just a few feet from all those people, looks safe enough to me (although a bit chilly on this day):

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vwAJCuOafXs&feature=related

    What more proof do you need that high-speed operation in town is practical, provided the curvature and track conditions allow it?

    Peter Reply:

    True horror for the Peninsula, with trains running by every few minutes at 125 mph

    The reverse view

    I’m not quite sure how fast the trains go through Prospect Park, PA, but it seems they’re going at least 125 mph. AND NO ONE THERE EVEN NOTICES!!! They only ever notice the freight trains.

    Richard Mlynarik Reply:

    Richard lived in Boston for many years and has been much closer to Kingston and Mansfield (inside futuristic Acela wonder-trains and outside) than Google Maps and Youtube. Thanks for foaming.

    1. Just because something can be done doesn’t mean it should be done.
    2. Trains serve people, not the other way around.
    3. 125mph HSR on the peninsula as “designed” by CHSRA and the subgeniuses of the Peninsula Rail Program provides only cost and no benefit. NIMBYs are, just for once, right. I am a huge proponent of high quality modern rail infrastructure and high quality modern rail service. This is the exact opposite. All concrete, no trains. All pain, no gain. Die.

    Joey Reply:

    Okay, so assuming that curves are straightened and that CalTrain DOES benefit from upgrades and CalTrain/HSR are well integrated (FSSF, cross platform transfer, etc etc), what would be a reasonable speed for trains to operate at on the peninsula?

    Spokker Reply:

    “Thanks for foaming.”

    Yeah, these guys should stop foaming. Right on.

    Richard Mlynarik Reply:

    what would be a reasonable speed for trains to operate at on the peninsula

    1. Unlikely not much north of than 160 (100mph), because that maximizes capacity of the combined Caltrain/HSR local/express system.
    2. HSR only Redwood Junction to Transbay and Santa Clara to San Jose; anything else maximizes cost and minimizes capacity.

    As I’ve said, I don’t think we’re going to see much 200kmh anyway, for elementary geometrical reasons. The problem with that is that the unethical cost-maximizing transportation professionals will use the “requirement” for higher speeds to goose the capital budget (by itself, and based on fraudulent ridership models based on fraudulent speed and frequency inputs.)

    Given the number of designed-in — either unavoidable or stupidly unmitigated — speed restrictionss on the line — sub 90mph at San Jose, Lawrence, San Antonio, all through San Mateo, Millbrae, San Bruno and South San Francisco at a minimum (Clem’s nice overview is extremely charitable) — and the requirements of realistically operating real world trains in real traffic — which doesn’t mean constant full-out acceleration and full-out braking — and the requirements of energy consumption — ditto — there’s going to be very very little running at 100mph or above feasible on the corridor anyway.

    Just look at a map, measure the distances, and think about it!

    So they’re promising something that (a) can’t be delivered (b) shouldn’t be delivered (c) can’t be used in practice and (d) pisses off everybody except train fans excited about pointy nosed zoomy trains.

    In return they get (a) maximal capital cost and (b) maximal capital cost (c) maximal capital cost (d) maximal capital cost … (y) legitimate NIMBY opposition (z) compromised operations environment that increases operating cost and decreases reliability forever.

    Richard Mlynarik Reply:

    Hey Spokker, one guess what was I doing and what shameful emotions I was experiencing standing on the platforms at Mansfield or Ruggles (with a camera!) or riding a train for extortionate cost on trips slower and costlier than driving, flying or a riding a bus?

    Joey Reply:

    Fair enough. Assuming that track geometry was a non-issue (which of course it isn’t), what maximum speed would you propose through Fremont, Pleasanton, and Livermore?

    Joey Reply:

    I would add that (whether reasonable or not), the Authority plans to run trains at 150 MPH (~240 km/h) on dedicated tracks through the LA Basin, and upwards of 200 MPH (probably close to 350 km/h) in the Central Valley, though that probably won’t last.

    Peter Reply:

    “upwards of 200 MPH (probably close to 350 km/h) in the Central Valley, though that probably won’t last.”

    Depends on how much they can mitigate.

    Richard Mlynarik Reply:

    Joey,

    Re the LA Basin, I don’t have enough information to have an opinion. (And God I wish that were the way people behaved in general.)

    My only speculations (eg followup) about that part of the world are based on purely rail technical points (where I feel I can have an opinion) and existing and proposed service plans (where I can do some web homework) and are completely independent on local demographics, development and politics, of which I am nearly completely ignorant.

    I’ll hazard a guess that 150mph is ambitious, though some of the alignments they’ve shown LAUS-Burbank-Sylmar is about as advantageous (speaking of alignment and stations, ignorant of the urban environment) as one might wish.

    Re the Central Valley. I’ve stated often that I think 350kmh commercial speed is environmentally and economically undesirable and unsustainable over the medium to long term. It’s a a technical stunt: we can do it, certainly, but that doesn’t mean we should. (And yes, I am completely aware of high existing and proposed HSL design speeds around the world.) Pushing air out of the way is an expensive and noisy and wasteful business at 1 atmosphere pressure, and the returns on energetic investment fall off extraordinarily quickly.

    There is no way that 350kmh will or should be tolerated through the Central Valley cities. And yes, I’m quite familiar with how dilapidated and industrial and non-residential some parts of some of those cities near the CHSRA selected alignment is. This isn’t mitigable.

    Re Fremont, Livermore, Pleasanton: back of the envelope suggests below ~160kmh 100mph Caltrain Redwood City to Sunol (slower through Fremont curves, and uphill to the Tri-Valley anyway), picking up to perhaps ~275kmh by the Altamont Pass high point (limited by climbing one way and braking for Livermore traversal the other way, not by alignment) and then zoooooom. The route is perfect in every way.

    synonymouse Reply:

    I think the only chance for Altamont at this juncture would be a Whitman victory leading to an “agonizing reappraisal”.

    Joey Reply:

    I think we both know that Whitman is going to oppose HSR, regardless of the routing.

    Peter Reply:

    “I think we both know that Whitman is going to oppose HSR, regardless of the routing.”

    Obvious statement of the month.

    But who knows, she might turn out to be a Schwarzenegger-like RINO.

    synonymouse Reply:

    Not necessarily true if her opposition is energized by shared dissatisfaction with other Peninsula residents over PB’s aerial juggernaut. Since she supports the water bond her unhappiness with the CHSRA may very well have to do with its details.

    My guess is that need for perennial operating subsidies, public as opposed to private operation, scabbed-together route, and general mission dumb-down would be real points of opposition for her.

    The whole focus of the project has moved from extremely high speed, express inter-megalopolis rail to regional rapid transit. SF-San Jose, LA-Palmdale, Lossan – it’s all stone mass transit, the kind that invariably loses money and needs generous infusion of public funds, ala BART. The Valley with so many stops, inner city aerials etc. won’t be that fast and is really now an afterthought. Forget the private, for profit, operator. It will be a state rr highly unionized with the usual bloated compensation packages. How could a bonafide Republican, which Whitman seems to be, go for that?

    I wonder if she even knows it doesn’t go via the Grapevine. Or even Jerry for that matter.

  14. BruceMcF
    Aug 15th, 2010 at 17:13
    #14

    Sunday Train: Richard Florida and the End of the Automobile Age

    D. P. Lubic Reply:

    Just thought you might want to know, it’s 1:21AM on Monday, Aug. 16 in the east, and your newest Sunday Train still isn’t on Midnight Oil. I know it’ll get there eventually, but it does seem slower that it should be if the thing shows up on Daily Kos so long before it shows up on your own.

    BruceMcF Reply:

    Sunday Train is, first and foremost, a regular series for eKos, with a 7pm~8pm Sunday EDT target. What drives whether it shows up on Midnight Oil first or last is whether its drafted at Midnight Oil or Daily Kos. If it seems like I will finish it substantially earlier than that, I draft it at Midnight Oil, then crosspost it to Docudharma, ProgressiveBlue and Hillbilly Report, before putting it up at Daily Kos.

    If it seems like it will not be much earlier, I draft it at Daily Kos, and crosspost it to the other community blogs either waiting for 7pm or waiting for comments to start up, and may not post it to Midnight Oil until the next day.

Comments are closed.