California Labor Federation Launches Statewide HSR Tour

Oct 11th, 2010 | Posted by

The California Labor Federation is launching a statewide tour on Tuesday in support of the high speed rail project – and the Democratic politicians that support it.

The Good Jobs Express (PDF link) will hit five locations along the route of the HSR project this week, with public events to show that Californians want the sustainable jobs that HSR will provide – and the sustainable mass transit that the jobs will build.

Here’s what the Labor Fed says on the flier:

High-speed rail would create hundreds of thousands of jobs statewide.

MEG WHITMAN wants to KILL construction of high-speed rail and all the jobs that come with it.

JERRY BROWN will bring high-speed rail to California and invest in our rebuilding our communities.


Come out to show your support for high-speed rail and Jerry Brown for Governor!

The intent of the tour is to highlight the fact that Meg Whitman has pledged to stop the HSR project, even though California voters have already approved funding and even though it will create hundreds of thousands of desperately-needed jobs. The California Labor Federation has, of course, endorsed Jerry Brown for governor, so their goal here is to hit Whitman as being in opposition to economic recovery and innovation.

The tour stops:


Anaheim: 10AM, Amtrak Station, 2150 E. Katella Avenue (behind Angels Stadium)

Bakersfield: 3PM, Liberty Bell, Kern County offices, 1415 Truxtun Avenue


Fresno: 10AM, Amtrak Station, 2650 Tulare Street

Modesto: 3PM, Graceada Park, 401 Needham Street


Sacramento: 11AM, Federal Building (5th and I, across from Sacramento Valley Station)

More info here.

  1. mgimbel
    Oct 11th, 2010 at 20:10

    The Authority will be meeting with Redwood City representatives in regards to the Mid-Peninsula station:

    peninsula Reply:

    what are baby trains? baby station?

  2. tony d.
    Oct 11th, 2010 at 20:19

    Meg Whitman = hypocrite! She talks “jobs, jobs, jobs” yet doesn’t support HSR in California?
    I guess in her world “jobs, jobs, jobs” equates to McDonalds, Merry Maids, and 7-Eleven.
    Go Jerry!

    Victor Reply:

    Pretty much, If she and what’s her name can’t employ an alien, They’d rather off shore as much as possible and cut every part of the safety net and to try and deny funding to HSR to try and kill It off.

  3. morris brown
    Oct 11th, 2010 at 22:55

    Just released is a highly critical financial review of the proposed California High-Speed Rail Project.

    Full report at:

    The review concludes that the financing plans advanced by the California High-Speed Rail Authority (CHSRA) are not fiscally sound.

    According to the experts, these plans are based on extremely questionable ridership, revenue and operating expense assumptions.

    In addition, California law prohibits any State subsidies of the High-Speed Rail Project beyond the original $9.95 billion dollars approved by the voters in November 2008.

    As the review shows, CHSRA’s financial plan is extremely dependent on operating revenue, and since only two high-speed rail lines in the world actually operate without subsidies, the current plans may not be able to meet this voter-approved requirement.

    Unless someone steps forward to provide CHSRA with more than $30 billion of unsecured financing, the review says that the State of California would be jeopardizing its fiscal well-being by promoting the High-Speed Rail Project as presently planned.

    Doing the proposed California High-Speed Rail Project “right” means doing it in a way that is financially sound and without an operating subsidy.

    Nathanael Reply:

    Another bogus, dishonest report by a suspicious organization with an ax to grind. Come back when you have something which isn’t written by a suspicious organization with an ax to grind.

    dfb Reply:

    Nathanael, you should read the report or at least identify the authors before you disregard the report. Otherwise, you come off as closed minded. The lead author is a professor emeritus at Stanford’s Graduate School of Business. He’s worked for a number of democratic administrations and is generally well regarded. That will get some traction in the press, just in time for the election.

    Considering how CHSRA requires private funding, it is helpful to have critiques from the business community. I did not count them, but the authors state that 70 folks from business and economics peer-reviewed it. This is just the kind of thing the CHSRA Board needs to consider and address as it moves forward with its project.

    From the introduction: “We believe the CHSRA Board, which successfully promoted the project to voters in 2008, has become captive to its own thinking. Consultants to the CHSRA seem to be repeating the same conclusions, despite credible challenges. This pattern has continued throughout 2009 and deep into 2010, despite serious questions from key State Senators, the Legislative Analyst’s Office (LAO), the State Auditor and independent experts’ publications. Once the flow of Federal time-dependent American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) funds seemed imminent, the Authority appeared reluctant to ask the hard questions that private and public sector due diligence demanded.”

    StevieB Reply:

    It is hard to take a report seriously when it resorts to an appeal to emotion on the first page describing lack of funding to California education.

    As an example, the impact of financing the high-speed rail system on funding for our state’s education system is sobering. Cutting back on both public school and university funding, forcing layoffs and increasing tuition is compromising the future of what was once the model for other state educational systems…If California can get someone to buy those approved $9.95 billion of bonds, servicing that debt alone will wipe out one medium-sized primary school each month…

    This misdirection sets the tone for what is a series of deceptive interpretations of possible California High Speed Rail financial scenarios.

    tomh Reply:

    StevieB – Agreed. Why in the world is a mention of “cutting back on both public school and university funding, forcing layoffs and increasing tuition” as a way to tug on people’s heartstrings in a financial report that’s supposed to be unbiased?

    morris brown Reply:

    First press report:

    Economists Say High-Speed Rail Won’t Make A Dime

    More than 70 experts used publicly available documents to review the risks of financing the California High-Speed Rail project

    Alan Reply:

    Press report? Blogs are not “the press”. If the Chron, Merc, or channel 7 were to give it
    that kind of play, that’s one thing. Some schmoe and his laptop? Yawn.

    mgimbel Reply:

    A tiny local paper doesn’t count as a press report, Morris. Sorry to burst your bubble.

    Robert Cruickshank Reply:

    Let me guess: nowhere does this report discuss the financial risks of rising oil prices or the costs of building more freeway lanes and airport gates.

    If that’s correct, then the report is worthless. HSR costs and risks have to be placed in context.

    Robert Cruickshank Reply:

    To answer my own question, I instead see this on the very first page:

    While our findings focus only on the California High-Speed Rail (CHSR) project, they must be put into the context of a continued shortfall of State of California revenues to meet its financial obligations. State issued IOUs, employee furloughs and salary reductions, significant cutbacks to education, closed parks, a deferred proposition on water projects, unrepaired potholes, and deferred maintenance on railroad signaling systems, bridges and highways are symptoms of the State’s desperate financial situation.

    Yeah, this thing really is a biased report. Nathanael had the right first take above.

    Robert Cruickshank Reply:

    Wow…skimming it over, the whole thing is nothing more than a collection of every criticism raised by Morris Brown et. al. over the last 2 years and dressed up with seemingly academic language. The bias is shocking, the lack of information astounding. The report is VERY deeply rooted in the belief that Californians will never abandon their cars, despite plenty of evidence they will.

    HSR deniers only have flawed reports like this – and a gullible media that will see an academic name and suddenly shout “omg the HSR project is DOOOOOOMED.” They don’t have any actual evidence to support their claims.

    More on this bullshit report later today.

    synonymouse Reply:

    One would hope that the hsr would make it into the last Meg-Jerry debate tonite. This report could serve as the entree to the question of supporting the CHSRA.

    morris brown Reply:


    More press is appearing: I copy below the Daily Post article, since they are not on the internet and you must get a paper copy to see.


    Daily Post Tuesday, October 12, 2010

    The Stanford business school yesterday issued a scathing 100-page study on the proposed California high-speed rail system, warning that it has little chance of ever paying for itself, and that funding for the $43 billion project isn’t likely to materialize.
    “The 2008 Prop. 1 A promise that captured many voters was that the California High-Speed Rail would not cost the taxpayer a penny,” the report said. “After months of work on this report, we are forced to conclude that the authority’s promise seems an impossible goal.”
    The report was written by Professor Emeritus Marriner S. Eccles, Silicon Valley management veteran William H. Warren and William C. Grindley of Atherton, a former World Bank official and associate division director at SRI International. Grindley has also been an outspoken opponent of the California High-Speed Rail Authority.
    Their report found:

    • That five months before voters approved Prop. 1A, two major investment banking firms, IMG and Goldman Sachs, told the rail authority that the private sector felt the project was too risky to finance unless there was a revenue guarantee. Yet the proposition and the associated legislation prohibits such a guarantee.
    Dispute over finances
    Still, proponents of the rail system told the voters the system would pay for itself, the Stanford researchers said.
    • Only two segments of high-speed rail in Europe and Japan break even.
    • California’s project, estimated to cost $43 billion, will exceed $100 billion, based on the history of cost overruns of similar government megaprojects.
    • Renavirip the debt for HSR will force state budget cuts, the report pre- dicts. If the project is able to sell the $9.95 billion in bonds voters approved in 2008, servicing that debt will cost $60 million per month.
    “Servicing that debt alone will wipe out one medium-sized primary school every eve month, or over 100 schools, be- fore the proposed CHSR would carry its first riders in 2020,” the Stanford report said.
    • The rail authority’s “job creation forecasts are too vague and too large to be credible.” The rail authority isn’t saying when or where the jobs occur, and projections of 600,000 construc- tion jobs are at odds with forecasts by the .U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.
    “As we prepared this document, we realized we were ‘peeling an onion,— the report said. “The more we pursued a topic, the more we were frustrated by the lack of a data trail.
    “Still more frustrating were the contradictions between the (California High-Speed Rail Authority’s) conclusions and the history and evidence of planning and operating high-speed rail systems throughout the world,” the re report said.
    Rail authority officials could not be reached for comment last night.
    High-powered critics
    The 69 reviewers of the paper include Cornish & Carey Commercial chairman Scott Carey, Keller Williams Realty General Manager David Barca, venture investor Morton Grosser, Surfwax founder Tom Holt, Conway chairman W. Keith Kennedy Jr., retired Raychem CEO Robert Saldich; retired Intel vice president Stephen Nachtsheim, and Argus Financial president John C. Shenk. Downloadable copies of the report are at


    You are not dealing with a bunch of “light weights here”.

    Also at:

    is an article titled:

    Critics slam high-speed rail business plan

    Peter Reply:

    Palo Alto Daily Post and Palo Alto Weekly are not exactly heavyweights, Morris. Get some perspective.

    tomh Reply:

    Peter – Agreed. Aren’t the local Peninsula papers kowtowing to a NIMBY local audience?

    tomh Reply:

    ‘The 2008 Prop. 1 A promise that captured many voters was that the California High-Speed Rail would not cost the taxpayer a penny,’ the report said.”

    Um, no. It would cost the California taxpayer at least $10 billion plus interest for the bonds (plus our share of federal tax money that would go to the project). We all knew this up front. Was it really The Stanford Business School, or just someone from the school with a particular bias? Who writes “not cost…a penny” in a financial report?

    Peter Reply:

    Critics have been “slamming” the high speed rail program for years now. They have been getting more and more desperate as time goes on. The lawsuits filed against the new Program EIR are symptomatic of the desperation. I have yet to see anything that shows that the need for HSR is anything less than immediate, or that it won’t be financially successful. Economists can hem and haw about what they think the financials will be all they want, but even (especially?) economists have their own axes to grind and ideologies to implement, which affects their bias. The experience around the world has been that HSR is wildly successful in all countries where it is implemented. If you build it, they will ride.

    Mark Drury Reply:

    Robert C. declared, as he often does: “HSR deniers only have flawed reports like this – and a gullible media that will see an academic name and suddenly shout “omg the HSR project is DOOOOOOMED.” They don’t have any actual evidence to support their claims.”

    Interesting how every report critical of HSR is (and must be) fundamentally flawed, the result of obvious and incurable bias. But are there any objective, independent reports from credible sources that unambiguously support the current HSR business plan, and especially its ridership projections? I can’t seem to find one.

    I support HSR in principal and would like to see a system built in California when the economics of doing so are even remotely favorable, but those who don’t view the current Authority business plan with a great deal of skepticism are saddled, knowingly or otherwise, with far more bias and self-interest than the worst of the so-called NIMBYs and “deniers”.


    Alan Reply:

    Perhaps Morris and his friends could explain how state funding shortfalls are responsible
    for “deferred maintenance on railroad signal systems…”? While there certainly may be
    deferred maintenance issues on the state’s publicly-owned transit systems, I’d hardly
    call them something that has a significant effect on the stae budget woes. If the report
    is speaking of the unfunded mandate for PTC which includes Caltrain, Metrolink, etc…yes,
    that’s a substantial amount of money for the agencies involved, but still nothing that
    jeopardizes the states overall well-being.

    The most ludicrous thing about this report is at least one reference to Wikipedia as a
    source. Using Wiki as a source is enough to get a paper laughed out of any respectable
    community college. And these people are whining about “investment grade” business plans?

    I’ll wait for Robert to post his analysis before saying more…

    tomh Reply:

    morris brown – Yeah, why not provide a non-biased source like instead of an organization that is anti-HSR from the outset. is made of of the NIMBYs on the Penninsula who only care about themselves and who think an electric train will be noisier than the current diesel trains.

    What is so special about the Peninsula that HSR should be underground while it’ll above ground throughout the rest of the system? If these NIMBYs want an underground train, WHY DON’T THEY PAY TO BUILD THE TUNNEL THEMSELVES?

  4. wu ming
    Oct 12th, 2010 at 01:26

    nice to see people campaigning in the valley. too many dems write it off as hopeless, but there are votes out here, if the pols show up.

  5. Eric M
    Oct 12th, 2010 at 11:24

    Morris Brown is becoming a spammer. Why doesn’t he just open up his own forum?! I say start deleting the spam, it’s getting real old!!

    wu ming Reply:

    he’s still a useful foil.

  6. Al-Fakh Yugoudh
    Oct 12th, 2010 at 11:45

    Often I hear many people cite rising fuel prices as one of the reasons for building the HSR, since high gas prices will force people to abandon their cars and rush to the train.

    Actually there is no certainty whether gasoline prices will rise much faster than income. If you look at the real price of gasoline in the past 35 years ( one would not necessarily conclude that prices are necessarily headed upward, or at least not faster than income. As a matter of fact gas prices today are lower in real terms than in 1981 (23% lower, as a matter of fact).

    But assuming the predictions of rising oil prices became reality in the next decades, the assumption that people would not rely on their car any longer for transportation fails to factor in the advances in fuel efficiency that such increase in gasoling prices would bring to car technology. We already have hybrid cars today that average 50 mile/gal. Even with conventional non hybrid gas or diesel engines, many smaller European and Japanese models average well over 40 miles/gallon. If your prediction became reality, within a very short time you’d see a spur in innovation in car technology that would further increase fuel efficiency.

    In other words rising gas prices would not necessarily translate in additional train passengers, or at least not in the dimensions you predict, because car technology innovation would develop alternative fuels (electric cars, biomass etc.) that would make cars still the preferred mode of transportation even in an era of $1000/barrel oil. Cars would simply switch to a different type of fuel, but they wouldn’t disappear at all.

    Cars are simply a more convenient choice for trips under 2 hours, and, at the moment, in most part of America, a choice cheaper than high speed trains. When you make comparisons with EU and Japan, in fact, you often underestimate the fact that currently car fuel in Europe is 2.5 times higher than here, that freeway tolls are at least 6 Eurocents/Km for a car (that’s at least US$0.13/mile), and that EU cities are very densely compact (with centuries old streets) and therefore very congested and with a huge parking problem (only San Francisco and cities in the Northeast, such as NYC, come close to that).

    Many people also predict rail traffic large enough to guarantee 6 to 7 tph in each direction, when in fact even the Madrid-Barcelona line (similar in length to SF to LA) barely fills 2-3 trains per hour in each direction in spite of the advantages enjoyed in Spain (compact population density near the city center, higher fuel prices, awful congestion, freeway tolls, and low cost airlines using primarily the Gerona airport, quite a distance from Barcelona).

    Personally I think that HSR would make much more sense in the Northeast corridor than anywhere else in the the US. But if the Federal Government wants to waste money in an HSR project that won’t be nearly as successful as you predict, I’ll be happy if they waste that money here in California. What the heck! Why throw away pork. If Alaska can have a bridge to nowhere, we can have a rail to nowhere as well.

    Matthew Reply:

    You’ve contradicted yourself by claiming that higher fuel prices will just lead to new car technology, but then citing Europe’s higher prices as a major factor for their taking the train. Their car technology is essentially the same as ours, though they do tend to drive smaller, more fuel efficient cars. Large proportions of Europeans continue to drive, similar to North America, but this does not mean that trains don’t have their place.

    Additionally, the populations of LA and SF are much higher than Madrid and Barcelona, with a trend towards increasing density. Employment density is concentrated heavily in a few geographic areas, including San Francisco, Silicon Valley, and Downtown Oakland in the bay area, and Downtown LA, the Westside, and a few dense corridors in Orange County, all of which are readily served by frequent public transit, or will be around the time that CAHSR will open.

    LA-SF is an extremely busy route, and a train line will additionally serve areas in between with a population closer to that of the entirety of Spain rather than just that along the Madrid-Barcelona route.

    The plot of the “real price of gasoline” shows several trends: 1) there is very high volatility in price, indicating it is not a reliable commodity on which to base an economy, and 2) over the last decade there has been a clear upward trend in fuel prices, with a downward shock corresponding with the recent economic crisis. Prices were at their all-time peak right before the economy imploded, which is not conclusive support for a causal relationship, but is more than an uncomfortable coincidence in my estimation.

    Matthew Reply:

    And I forgot to mention that the “pork” of building high speed rail in California is much cheaper than the alternative: expanding airport runways and freeway lanes. It also uses much less space, and is much more pleasant to live next to than an airport or freeway.

    In short, it’s cheaper and has less impacts than the alternative. Sounds like a win-win to me.

    Al-Fakh Yugoudh Reply:

    Freeways might cost more, but airport runways are pretty cheap in comparison. With $45 billion you can build at least 100 runways. The new one at O’Hare cost 456 million, and it included a lot of ground preparation.

    Al-Fakh Yugoudh Reply:

    As a matter of fact a study I read (I don’t remember where, but it is a study from a few years back) concluded that HSR makes more sense when it replaces car use, rather than airplane use. The study concluded that the cost of HSR per passenger mile (once everything is considered, including time delays) is similar to car use, however it is substantially more than air travel.

    The problem with HSR in California is that the distance between SF and LA (nearly 450 miles in the latest HSR alignment) is more competitive for airplanes than for all other modes of transportation. At the same time the intermediate communities in between, don’t have the population density, at least thus far, to guarantee the success of this endeavor.

    thatbruce Reply:

    The problem with HSR in California is that the distance between SF and LA (nearly 450 miles in the latest HSR alignment) is more competitive for airplanes than for all other modes of transportation.

    Correct, if the comparison was made from the same departure point. However, once you factor in the time spent in getting between the airport/station and your destination, HSR starts beating the Airlines, especially when you consider that both the LA and SF endpoints are much, much closer to the downtowns of each city.

    Richard Mlynarik Reply:

    Correct. Except that successful rail systems aren’t airline surrogates. Without cabotage all you’re offering is a slower airline, and that’s not a winning game. (See Eurostar, and don’t neglect capital costs.)

    And it’s debatable, given the PB-profiting Los Banos routing into the SF Bay Area, that the station locations provide the knockout blow that they could be and ought to.

    Peter Reply:

    Have you tried to follow any airport expansion projects around the world? They get tied up in NIMBY knots just as much as HSR is.

    You just cited O’Hare as an example. The new runway may have cost ony $456 million (I didn’t check), but it also only marginally improved capacity at O’Hare, and it didn’t leave the airport’s existing footprint. One of the planned runways WILL be leaving the existing footprint, and that one has run into the same NIMBY concerns that we’re dealing with now.

    Berlin has been planning on having a world-class airport for the past 20 years. BBI is supposed to finally open in 2012. It’s been tied up in political struggles for two decades now.

    Of the major cities being linked by HSR, which ones could possibly be expanded at this point with new runways? San Francisco is limited by the Bay (good luck in convincing local environmentalists to agree to filling in more of the Bay), as is Oakland. LAX is limited by the Pacific, Anaheim by Orange County NIMBYs. The only airports with affordable growth potential are in the Central Valley.

    Peter Reply:

    Maybe I should make my point: Just because a runway is cheaper to construct does not mean it offers anything close to the same benefit as a railroad, especially not for shuttle flights such as between LA/SD and the Bay Area.

    thatbruce Reply:

    and Palmdale Regional of course.

    Peter Reply:

    Right. I was talking about airports that actually had airline service, and where there may be a point in expanding service and the size of the airport. An HSR station in Palmdale will wipe out any need for airline service in the future.

    Paul Dyson Reply:

    Populations: Madrid 2.9 million, urban area 5 million.
    San Francisco, 800,000 that’s eight hundred thousand. SF is just a village, certainly doesn’t justify a London/Paris/Berlin/Madrid size infrastructure. Unless HSR travel is to become compulsory then where will all these fare paying passengers come from?


    Peter Reply:

    Uhhh, from the BAY AREA? 2009 population estimated at 7.5 million?

    Matthew Reply:

    Who needs intellectual honesty when you can pretend San Francisco is a village :-) And Berlin’s rail infrastructure is similar to Frankfurt’s (pop 672,000), while Frankfurt also has the busiest airport in continental Europe.

    Robert Cruickshank Reply:

    SF is one of the major transit nodes in the country. Its daytime population is estimated at as much as 1.5 million. And yes, as others pointed out, it sits at the center of the Bay Area, with a much greater population.

    LA has about 3 million people, but that’s an accident of geography – if SF had annexed as much land as LA did, SF’s population would probably be about the same.

    In any case, California’s population density compares well to Spain’s, where HSR has been a success. And the urban areas of the Bay Area and SoCal are MUCH more populous than the urban areas around Madrid and Barcelona.

    tomh Reply:

    Gas prices will go up. Period. And likely higher than the rate of inflation (it will actually cause inflation). Yes, fuel efficient cars will slow that increase, but oil is a diminishing resource as demand for it continues to skyrocket, especially in China and India.

    And don’t forget about commercial jetliners. I don’t forsee their fuel efficiency improving much at all.

    Johnathan Reply:

    The debate on gas prices can actually be ignored completely, because the cost of building 2,970 lane miles of highways, 91 airport gates, and five airport runways would cost $100 billion. This is just to maintain today’s traffic conditions due to population growth by 2030, expected to be around 46 million people.

    According to the authority’s ridership estimates, HSR would be enough to offset just the population increases by 2030.

    The state of California chose to risk $10 billion that will reduce CO2 emissions by 12 billion pounds, $1.65 billion oil costs at $75/barrel, and 100,000 construction jobs, and improved economic competitiveness. You are advocating for $100 billion in new construction, annual maintenance in the billions, and potential gas tax/toll increases that will bankrupt California and businesses. Not only that, HSR would accomodate future growth for 50 years, highways/airport expansions will not.

    The costs are too great to consider if we don’t build a system that is the foundation of future transportation.

    thatbruce Reply:

    Cars are simply a more convenient choice for trips under 2 hours and, at the moment, in most part of America, a choice cheaper than high speed trains.

    If you look at a pure monetary cost (don’t forget cost of ownership), yes, cars in America are cheaper than the single high speed train that is in America. If you look at the opportunity cost, trains are cheaper, unless you are of the mindset that sitting in a car is a productive use of your time.

    When you make comparisons with EU and Japan, in fact, you often underestimate the fact that currently car fuel in Europe is 2.5 times higher than here,

    At the pump, yes (depending on where you are in the EU of course). Of course, funding for highways in EU countries comes more from gas sales tax than the US.

    that freeway tolls are at least 6 Eurocents/Km for a car (that’s at least US$0.13/mile),

    For the freeways that are tolled of course. You could also generalise and say that most tolled freeways in the US do so at a rate of $1.00/mile, based on the peak hour toll on the 91 express lanes.

    and that EU cities are very densely compact (with centuries old streets) and therefore very congested and with a huge parking problem

    Now this is where you get derailed (so to speak). Yes, EU cities are compact compared to US cities of the same population size. This does not automatically lead to an issue with traffic congestion as you’ve failed to take into account the lower percentage of the city-dwelling population who own cars. With fewer cars, there is also less of a parking problem.

    That’s not to say that there is no parking problem at all, as my own experiences belie that. But, compared to parking problems I’ve seen in some US cities, those in EU cities are a magnitude less.

    Al-Fakh Yugoudh Reply:

    I don’t know what you were drinking or sniffing when you went to Europe, but I can certainly find parking much more easily here in San Francisco (by far the worst parking situation in California), than I’m ever able to find in Europe, where I lived most of my life and return regularly.

    First of all Europeans may not drive as many miles annually as we do, but car ownership in Europe is not lower than the US ( What is lower though is “garage ownership”, because I’ve never met too many Europeans living in cities with two car garages (which is the norm here), therefore all those owned cars must be parked somewhere and that somewhere is often the street. In that respect, San Francisco is very European, since lots of car owners in SF don’t own or rent a garage.

    In addition there are the following issues to consider:
    EU city streets, being ancient, don’t have a lot of parking room, and they are very hard to manoeuver due to width and parked cars.
    EU city centers are often closed to non residential traffic, therefore car use is not only inconvenient, but impossible.
    EU public parking structures are not as ubiquitous as they are in the US and therefore they come at a very high premium, when you can even find any, unlike anywhere in California, even San Francisco.

    I’ve written this before. If I’m driving from Rome to Downtown Florence (300 km), my birth city, or viceversa, I need (one way) Euro 35 in gas, Euro 25 in tolls, plus Euro 1.50-2.00/hr in parking (Euro 18 for the whole day) even though parking is not even close to where I want to go, simply because the city centers are close to traffic to non residents. The whole trip will take me 3 1/2 hour on a super good day (over 1 hour of which just to negotiate the city streets from/to the freeway, which, never gets close to any downtown (compare with the freeways in California which run into downtown). I haven’t even considered wear and tear on the car, and yet I’m spending much more than the 44 Euro full fare from Rome to Florence on a Eurostar, which takes 94 minutes central station to central station.

    See the difference in cost, time and convenience compared to a similar car trip in California?

    tomh Reply:

    You forgot to consider the cost of roads in California. Or do you think they are built, expanded, or maintained for free?

    Alon Levy Reply:

    Your link shows incorrect numbers. If you include all vehicles, rather than excluding light trucks and SUVs as is common in the US, then the US turns out to have the highest per-capita car ownership in the world.

    StevieB Reply:

    Of course, funding for highways in EU countries comes more from gas sales tax than the US.
    Using a 2004 DOT report the Financial Risks of California’s Proposed High-Speed Rail opines.

    Highway transport actually more than pays its own way due to gasoline taxes.

    Peter Reply:

    Hahaha, that’s funny.

    That must be why our roads are shit. I guess when you don’t put any money into the roads, they pay for themselves?

    Alan Reply:

    And the report goes on to say that the federal Transportation Trust Fund–gas tax revenues–
    is unable to fund necessary highway projects. Bit of a contradiction there.

    D. P. Lubic Reply:

    Several things stand out about this report.

    One is that all the writers are old guys; this is my generational pattern emerging again, and in this case I’m very sad to see it.

    These are very successful businessmen, and in any other situation they would have to be considered wise, yet they fail to see

    the real cost of roads,

    the real cost of gasoline,

    the changing demographic of younger people,

    the threat of peak oil,

    the problems of highway finance with cars using less or no fuel, leading to

    the need for an alternative highway finance model,

    the operational limits of cars and airplanes,

    the increasing levels of ridership on public transit in general and on rail in particular, including what should be the worst performer of all, intercity rail (Amtrak)

    All of these things have been discussed here considerable length, with good material to make the case. I am disappointed that these people could have missed all this, if for no other reason than the necessity of refuting it to truly make their case.

    Hell, they even stumble themselves with the contradiction that roads pay for themselves, while the Highway Trust Fund is going broke, as Alan has commented above.

    In the meantime, I guess they are still comfortable with subsidizing terrorists, too. . .

    Our leaders are really letting us down, and not just in the political arena. . .

    Robert, you, Clem, and myself need to take over the CHSRA. . .bet we would get some more reasonable numbers on the system, but after looking at this thing, I doubt it would silence the critics. Seems you can be as truthful as can be, and it still does no good, and you get to be called a Communist again. . .

    I wish I could afford to move to New Zealand.

    tomh Reply:

    thatbruce – Agreed. And don’t forget that many people erroneously think that driving on highways is free. But indeed it is not, as they pay for road creation and maintenance (or lack thereof) via taxes. If all highways were toll roads (via open road tolls), people would immediately realize that the true cost of driving (car maintenance, depreciation, insurance, payments (including interest), fuel, road creation/expansion/maintenance) looks less and less attractive when compared to public transit and HSR.

    Robert Cruickshank Reply:

    There are numerous problems here. The first is the fallacy that “hybrid cars will save us” – by which people actually mean “hybrid cars will save my silly belief that anything other than driving is un-American.”

    Unless population stops growing, you will very quickly run into gridlock – there won’t be enough freeway lanes to handle all the cars. Much of the Bay Area and SoCal hit that point decades ago. It is far more economical for the state of California, as well as its residents, to build passenger rail service to get people around. Uses less space, is cheaper for the government to build and operate, and is cheaper for the public to use.

    Further, this does nothing to change the fact that driving is massively uneconomical for getting between SF and LA. HSR combines affordability, speed, and comfortable travel – something neither a car nor a plane can offer.

    Second, you’re ignoring the impact of the digital device revolution. I’ve shown before stats that prove younger Americans are driving less, and one cause is the preference for being on the iPhone to being behind the wheel. Driving is increasingly incompatible with a 21st century lifestyle and culture. Which is one reason why some people fight against passenger rail – they’re unwilling to accept this cultural shift, convinced that the late 20th century was THE BEST EVER and that any change is horrible, awful, and must be strongly opposed.

    There are other reasons why your “the 20th century can last forever” approach is wrong, but those are the two that seem to top the list.

    Richard Mlynarik Reply:

    convinced that the late 20th century was THE BEST EVER

    For affluent first world humans, without a doubt the best century, probably in the history of the planet.

    Antibiotics. Anaesthesia. Double-blind evidence based medical treatment. Modern dentistry. Low (in historical terms, zero) cost travel to any point on the planet at any time. Zero cost communications. Zero cost energy. The ability to witness the rich Holocene biota. The most clement global climate in history.

    But don’t worry: future generations will have totally bitching HyperiPods. Living the 21st century cyber (oooh!) lifestyle free of congestion will be the best possible revenge upon those DENIALISTS.

    Al-Fakh Yugoudh Reply:

    All you’re writing can be easily debunked as “Liberal” blabber. To defend HSR you need a better argument than the digital revolution. As far as congestion is concerned that is a more compelling argument, but for as much as I like high speed trains I see serious issues that HSR critics are certain to use.

    First of all is price of one mode of travel versus another. The market reacts to price signals in transportation as in everything else. If we look at the price of a two way ticket for a plane trip from here to LA purchased today for travel tomorrow, that price is $240 (r/t), but it can be as low as $129 if purchased in advance (sometime even less). If the price of the train is less, people will switch to the train, otherwise they won’t. To keep that in prospective these prices are for similar trips in distance:

    MILAN-ROME (575 km) on Nov. 11, 2010:
    Duration: 2h 59 min. one way
    Base price r/t: Euro 178.
    30% Max Discounted fare (limited availability with one Res. change allowed) Euro 124.
    With Same day return/No refunds or Reservation changes: Euro 99.

    Duration: 1hr 10 min. (but about 4 hrs city center to city center with security and airport transfer)
    Cheapest fare available for 11/11/2010: Alitalia $292.

    Guess what. Most Italians take the train nowadays.

    AIRPLANE: 1hr 10 min. (but about 4 hrs city center to city center with security and airport transfer)
    Cheapest fare available for 11.11.2010: Multiple airlines: $129

    TRAIN: 2h 40 min (est.) downtown to downtown, however LA is very spreadout and your final destination may not be downtown and may actually be closer to the airport in LAX or BUR.
    Cheapest fare: ?????

    If you can guarantee that the train price is as competitive with the airplane as the train is in Italy, you’ll have that market. Otherwise you won’t.

    I’ve already illustrated in previous posts how difficult it would be for the train to be price competitive with cars in California for shorter trips (such as Fresno to LA), unlike it happens in Europe.

    Peter Reply:

    What about the countries where HSR is more expensive than the airlines, where HSR still essentially OWNS the market between the relevant city pairs?

    The last illustration I remember you making was Fresno to Pasadena, and HSR plus light rail was easily shown to be cost-competitive with driving, especially if you consider that you can actually be productive on the train, versus simply sitting and driving (or sitting in traffic) when going by car.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    What about the US where Amtrak has 60 percent of the air/rail market ( NY-DC ) with creaky old trains that are as fast as they were 50 years ago?

    Al-Fakh Yugoudh Reply:

    That’s why HSR makes the most sense in the NE corridor. No doubt that should be the nation’s priority. They have the EU style population density (and more), the right distance and above all the awful congestion that would certainly make the HSR very successful there.

    California? I’m not sure. Maybe.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    Amtrak in addition to competing with air travel and car travel is competing with bus companies that actually sell tickets for a one dollar between NY and DC. Very few of them but if you are the lucky person to reserve one of those dollar seats you get to take the bus between NY and DC for a dollar. Then there’s a whole ecosystem of bus companies that do it everyday for anyone at 30-40 roundtrip.

    ….awful congestion.. I don’t know how true it is but rumor has it the Boston-NY or intermediate pionts-NY buses go to New Jersey to get to the Port Authority Bus Terminal. It’s faster than sitting in NYC traffic. …. the trains, even the regular ole’ regionals are faster than driving, assuming you stay within the speed limit.

    StevieB Reply:

    Numbers released this week indicate Amtrak has increased to 65 percent of the air/rail market ( NY-DC ).

    Alon Levy Reply:

    Meanwhile, the KTX has 63% of the total market on Seoul-Busan. Not the air/rail market: the total market. In contrast, Amtrak projects that in mid-century its NY-DC mode share will increase to 26% with just the Master Plan (featuring the benefits of medium-speed rail for the cost of full-fat HSR) and 39% with Next-Gen HSR (featuring the benefits of conventional HSR for the cost of maglev).

    It’s perfectly possible for HSR to wipe the airlines and still underperform: see Eurostar. Good HSR needs to beat the highways and induce demand. California HSR has a chance to, unless all LA freeways are widened by a factor of 3. The present-day Acela doesn’t.

    D. P. Lubic Reply:

    I guess I’m really weird then to find that a local commuter rail service has real advantages for me to use it if I am ever going into Washington, despite a huge number of stops and a schedule that averages less than 35 mph to cover 75 miles or so. I thought you might want to look at it, and make comparisons with what you have in California. (Repeated from earlier post in the open Sunday thread).

    What are the advantages? Simply less tiring, less stressful, more enjoyable, faster, and also has a handy subway system (described by one here as a BART clone, except for track gauge) that connects with it to get around Washington itself, and a considerable surounding area, too. Fare: 20 bucks, round trip, less on a weekly or monthly ticket.

    And, in case you missed it, an average speed under 35 mph–and it’s still at least as fast as driving and is often faster. I know, I’ve ridden it, and driven the route, too.

    I think really high speed rail, if the costs can be kept down just a little, will really have one huge effect, perhaps almost comparable to that of railroads in the 1840s–now that’s something to think about!

    D. P. Lubic Reply:

    Reposting a couple of photos:

    This one is at Harpers Ferry, W.Va. famous in history as the site of abolitionist John Brown’s raid on a federal armory in 1859. The river is the Potomac, and the rocky hill in the background is Maryland. Those cars should look familiar to you in California; I believe they were purchased from Caltrain some years ago. Photo taken from the recently restored interlocking tower on the east end of the station at Harpers Ferry:

    The State of Maryland still had one of these running around in 2006:

    New Motive Power diesels and modern electric power with double deck coaches at New Carrolton, Md., on the Northeast Corridor; Washington Metro tracks in forground:

    Camden Station in Baltimore, parts of which date to the 1850s; now a museum devoted to Babe Ruth. Note light rail line, huge former B&O freight house (now rented space of various sorts), and the Camden Yards baseball field, all to the right. MARC trains use truncated tracks behind small parking lot, connecting service with light rail; barely visible beyond the MARC platforms is another line, going under the light rail route. This is the former Royal Blue line, which went to Philadelphia and New York (Jersey City). From this point the line is in a tunnel running under Howard Street for about three miles, coming out at the northern Baltimore station of Mount Royal, still around as an art museum, with the wonderful attraction of an arching canopy that’s still over the track there. This tunnel was the first application of heavy electric traction to steam road practice in the 1890s, as a sort of helper district.

    Station at Point of Rocks, Maryland. C&O Canal and Potomac River out of sight to the right. Train is westbound, about to leave the Metropolitan Division and join the Main Line, on which passenger services run from here to Brunswick, Harpers Ferry, Duffields, and Martinsburg. Amtrak’s Capitol Limited also runs through here between Washington and Chicago, along with a pile of freight trains, including 200-car coal trains. Track curving off to left is the Old Main Line, the original route to Baltimore from here via Mout Airy, Md. Not visible behind station is a still standing Civil War era brick water tank for steam engines, and another connecting track to the Old Main Line, which forms a wye junction here. MARC trains use this track to also serve Frederick, Md., which is on a stub branch from the Old Main Line that takes off from Frederick Junction, which may well be the original branch junction in the United States.

    Nice ride, beats driving even at 35 mph average speed (and top speed of 79 mph east of here); I have to say I do wish we had a weekend service, preferably with steam power for the tourist trade, but that seems a long way off, if ever.

    ks Reply:

    For those who tout hybrid vehicles, please be aware that China produces 90% of world’s rare earth – a collection of elements essential for making electric motor. In the recent standoff between Beijing and Tokyo over the disputed Senkaku/Diayutai, China blocked shipment of rare earth to Japan.

    D. P. Lubic Reply:

    This is another cool website; here is some interesting material on electric cars.

    Constellations were beautiful planes, too:

    General link:

  7. Alonzo
    Oct 12th, 2010 at 11:59

    Cancer produces jobs too.

  8. Al-Fakh Yugoudh
    Oct 12th, 2010 at 12:40

    Gas prices in the Western EU this week range from Euro 1.18/liter in Spain to 1.52/liter in Greece. That is equivalent to US$6.40 to US$8.25 per gallon.
    Rising fuel prices might have an effect on car use in America, but unless the gas tax policy changes in the US, the probability that real gasoline prices in the US will reach the EU levels today is ZERO, even in the event of a conflict with Iran.

    Richard Mlynarik Reply:

    Don’t confuse us with facts.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    Europeans drive smaller, more fuel-efficient cars. For example, the average car in France gets twice the gas mileage of the average car in the US. And France has higher penetration of diesel cars; diesel has lower per-liter prices in Europe than gas, as it’s taxed at a lower rate.

  9. Katie Burnside
    Oct 12th, 2010 at 12:53

    For those who live near the I-10 Freeway and are interested in hearing more information about the high-speed rail in your community. Below are a list of upcoming community meetings being held this month.

    The meetings will provide the communities along the I-10 Freeway an opportunity to learn more about the High-Speed Train program, and specifically, the potential alternative planned along the I-10 Freeway corridor as part of the Los Angeles to San Diego via the Inland Empire section.
    Meeting details are as follows:

    Tuesday, October 19
    City of San Gabriel City Council Meeting
    Time: 7:30 p.m.
    City of San Gabriel Council Chambers
    425 South Mission Drive
    San Gabriel, CA 91776

    Wednesday, October 27
    City of Rosemead Community Open House
    Attend the open house any time between 6 p.m. and 9 p.m. Presentation at 7 p.m.
    Rosemead Community Recreation Center
    3936 North Muscatel Avenue
    Rosemead, CA 91770

    Thursday, October 28
    City of Alhambra Community Open House
    Attend the open house any time between 4 p.m. and 8 p.m. Presentation at 5:30 p.m.
    Alhambra City Hall – Lobby
    111 South First Street
    Alhambra, CA 91801

    dfb Reply:

    Also, the Rail Authority will be back with a follow-up presentation to the Alhambra City Council during its regular meeting on Nov. 7. Council meeting starts at 7pm and the presentation is expected to be the first agenda item.

    political_incorrectness Reply:

    Can anyone make it to Alhambra after that fired up community meeting? I wonder if people are going to be civil or not.

    dfb Reply:

    They were mostly civil during the past meetings. They’ll be civil again, albeit a bit feisty. :-)

  10. jimsf
    Oct 12th, 2010 at 17:52

    Any of you southern californians familiar with metrolink? I can’t seem to find a metrolink website that works. Trying to figure out how to get form laus to riverside. I know there’s a line that goes there. Why ins’t metro link on the lametro website? and why when I type in metrolink, i get links that don’t go anywhere?

    Peter Reply:

    Try google maps’ transit option? I just checked and Metrolink participates.

    jimsf Reply:

    Thanks that works. ( though I don’t get why there ins’t a website for metrolink) Looks like itll be the bus from bfd for me. ugh. Hurry and build hsr! this is so inconvenient!

    Peter Reply:

    Works for me.

    jimsf Reply:

    Oh, there it is. Hmmmm, an hour ago it wouldn’t load and I wasn’t sure If I had found the right link. Working now though. thanks.

    Spokker Reply:

    When you Google Metrolink it’s the very first result.

    Spokker Reply:

    In any case, you take either the 91 Line or the Riverside Line. Neither of these lines have very much service.

    You can also take the OC Line to the Inland Empire Orange County Line, which will require a transfer in Orange. I don’t believe there is much service here either.

    On weekends, the San Bernardino Line has a couple trains that terminate in Riverside. You really have to plan ahead to do LAUS-Riverside.

    Spokker Reply:

    Oh, and you can also take the Southwest Chief to Riverside in the evening. I think it’s $11.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    He works for Amtrak, he can deadhead.

    jimsf Reply:

    Thanks, yes the site is working now. It must have been down when I tried before. It wouldn’t load. ( oh and southwest chief is actually free for me, but, the sked doesn’t work, Im going to a concert at the fox!) just trying to figure out if I want to do that damn 4 hour bus from bfd to riv. but, its free and its the most direct route from sf-riv. via bfd. and you can’t fly into riv. only ona (ont) then how do you get from ona(ont) to riv. Sese, even when we want to do car free travel, things either don’t connect, aren’t available, or take too long, or all three. So you wind up doing rental cars and extra nights hotel, blah blah blah. Those $59 airfares get pretty expensive.

    See, now if hsr were built out, I could go direct from tbt to riv via laus in about 3 hours. walk to tbt from my apt, and walk to the venue in riv from the station then take an 11pm return.

    hurry. must build now!

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    …but the people creating the fantastic proposed schedules, the ones with 8 departures betwween 5AM and 6AM don’t think anyone will want to get on a train after 9PM. Not in LA or SF anyway.

    jimsf Reply:

    who said that? is there a sked ? they need to run 24h

    Spokker Reply:

    Hahahahaha yeah right.

    Matthew Reply:

    Here’s a website that describes how to get to Riverside from Ontario Airport by public transit:
    I advocate taking more fuel efficient transportation, however.

    jimsf Reply:


  11. jimsf
    Oct 12th, 2010 at 18:57

    BTW TIME for the Brown/MEG debate 7pm everyone. GO Jerry!

    D. P. Lubic Reply:

    How did this turn out?

    synonymouse Reply:

    IMHO Meg came out on top. Obvioulsy she has worked overtime on improving her public speaking.

    I doubt she can win but she will be the new voice of the Repubs. An easy victor in a recall.

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