The Density Fallacy

Nov 13th, 2010 | Posted by

A common argument leveled against high speed rail by HSR deniers is that it can’t work in the US outside the Northeast Corridor because we are a nation of suburban sprawl, and since the proposed routes lack density, they’re not good candidates for HSR.

Arguments like these are reasons why we use the label “HSR denier” – they are so contrary to all the available evidence that it is difficult to see how someone can hold such a position while espousing anything close to enlightenment principles of logic and intellectual honesty.

One example comes from Palo Alto today:

The concept is great, it works well in places where there is dense popualtion. Other than the US eastern corridor, it won’t “fly.”

Another comes this week from a student at Chapman University in Orange:

However, they use high-speed rail models from Europe and Asia to justify spending upwards of $10.5 billion on this infrastructure of the future. The problem with this is that the successful high-speed rail lines, the most successful of which are the Paris-Lyon and the Tokyo-Osaka lines, are located in densely populated urban areas. The United States became heavily suburban in the past half century and the percentage of the metropolitan population living in central cities dropped to 32% in 2000. As a result, jobs spread out to the suburbs and more Americans are even working from home. Rail service to big core cities will be even less useful as this trend continues.

One assumes the author, Kirsten Moore, is probably a student (literally or figuratively) of Joel Kotkin, the right-wing Chapman University scholar who argues that America’s future is a suburban future and that anyone who proposes anything else is wrong and hates America. Notice how Moore argues that the “trend” of suburbanization and telecommuting are just going to continue indefinitely, despite evidence that young Americans are driving less and continue to seek living in urban centers despite the costs.

As you can tell, the HSR deniers are peddling a fallacious argument. There are three basic reasons why this doesn’t hold water:

1. The US is actually much denser than people assume.

HSR deniers want people to believe that the US – and California in particular – are dominated by low-rise sprawl, with low population densities, whereas Europe’s population densities are much greater.

There’s no doubt that California has a lot of sprawl. But it ALSO has a lot of density. San Francisco, Oakland-Berkeley, Los Angeles (in particular from downtown west to Santa Monica) and plenty of nodes across the state, in places like downtown San Diego, have pretty high population densities. These places have seen a lot of population growth in recent years, and their housing values have held up well. There’s every reason to believe that younger Californians will want to stay here even as they get older – the “flight to the suburbs” model that was operative for a short time in the late 20th century is breaking down amidst a digital world and the desire to be closer to urban amenities.

There’s evidence to back this up. One of the most successful European HSR systems is Spain’s AVE. Spain’s population density is very similar to that of California:

Of course, currently Paris and Madrid are much more dense than either SF or LA. Which takes us to point #2:

2. HSR stations don’t necessarily need to be located amidst density any more than an airport – both just need to have enough population within a catchment area to sustain operations

Urban rail advocates have long argued for both heavy and light rail projects by pointing to dense corridors and arguing, correctly, that they are well suited to passenger rail because such projects work best when they follow density.

HSR opponents and deniers are taking that talking point and twisting it for their own ends. Intercity rail doesn’t have to follow density at all to be successful, but because the “rail needs density” argument has become familiar, the deniers believe they can use it to undermine HSR anyway.

Keep in mind that HSR systems connect cities and entire regions over distances of up to 450 miles. There’s no reason at all why the station must be located amidst density, or serve a densely populated metropolis, for the system to be successful. Obviously there are other reasons why you’d want a station to be located amidst density – offers easier connections to other rail and bus services; density is usually centrally located and you want the station centrally located too; and an HSR station would help support TOD, which is best done near existing density. But that’s a choice, not a requirement, to locate near density. Plenty of HSR systems, including France, have located stations on the edges of cities and still found they had a great deal of success.

HSR works not because it serves density but because it serves people. The goal in California, for example, isn’t to get just San Franciscans or residents of downtown LA to ride HSR, but to get Northern and Southern Californians as a whole to use the system. There’s every reason to believe people will want to use the trains regardless of whether they live in a 30-story apartment building in SoMa or in a ranch house in southern Orange County. What matters is that there’s a station close to where they live; that the train service is frequent, fast, and reliable; and that it is affordable.

That leads into the third point:

3. An HSR route itself doesn’t have to be tightly packed with density; it just has to connect cities with large enough populations, like pearls on a string.

Let’s go back to Moore’s argument for a moment:

The problem with this is that the successful high-speed rail lines, the most successful of which are the Paris-Lyon and the Tokyo-Osaka lines, are located in densely populated urban areas.

But there’s a problem here. Between Paris and Lyon, the LGV Sud-Est doesn’t actually serve much density at all between its two ends. Like the Spanish AVE, and like the California HSR proposal, it connects cities across wide distances. If you look outside a TGV or an AVE train, you’re more likely to see countryside than apartments. Those systems work because, as described above, they connect large population centers.

The Paris metropolitan area has a population of about 12 million. Los Angeles County alone has over 10 million people, and the surrounding SoCal counties bring the population to anywhere from 15 to 25 million, depending on how the region is defined. San Francisco may have just under 800,000 residents, but the Bay Area as a whole has over 7 million.

Because the California HSR system serves those existing population centers – including the Central Valley cities, let’s not forget – there’s every reason to believe it will have the same level of succes as the TGV, the AVE, and the other HSR systems around the world. Much of California’s population will live within 20 or 30 miles of an HSR station by 2035, and will by then be connected to those stations by other rail services. That might seem like a great distance, but that’s similar to the proximity of airports to the population (especially when you consider that there will be HSR stations near SFO, SJC, BUR, ONT, SAN, and the downtown LA station will be much more convenient for LA residents than LAX).

Given how easily the density fallacy is debunked, why do we keep seeing it? Ironically, it comes up because HSR deniers have an ideological opposition to density and anything that resembles it. They believe that the US should be forced to develop more sprawl, and that density should be undermined wherever possible, no matter how much the public demands it. Look at how Moore ends her post:

Some state governments are starting to wise up. Not wanting to waste money on unfruitful high-speed rail lines, they are simply rejecting federal money for these projects because they would not be able to spend the funds on things they really want, like better roads. Obviously, the federal government won’t be able to force high speed rail on Americans for long.

There is no doubt the Obama administration has good intentions for high-speed rail, but good intentions don’t always translate to success. Rather than try to wedge its idealistic vision of a new transportation infrastructure into the realities of recession-ridden America, it should evaluate what the country truly needs.

Look at her language. The public doesn’t actually want HSR or the density it would bring, she argues – they really want more sprawl, and more freeways to serve that sprawl. It’s unclear how she squares this with a majority of Californians voting for HSR in 2008 (not to mention 2/3 of LA County voters approving Measure R that same year), or the fact that real estate values have crashed in the suburbs but held up well in the dense urban centers. Yet again her arguments fail completely when held up to the evidence.

The utopians here are those who believe suburban life is the best life for everyone, and that Americans should be forced into it. With HSR, we get to give Americans a choice. They can live in a dense city center, or live in suburban sprawl – either way, they’ll have a fast, reliable, convenient, and affordable way to get around their state.

  1. Daniel Krause
    Nov 13th, 2010 at 15:44
    #1

    There is no doubt that density is in California’s future. I have just completed a reveiw of Fresno’s and Bakersfield urban planning policies for my master’s thesis, and Fresno in particular is planning for massive density around the HSR station area. They are also planning for a series of centers and corridors around the city that will be linked up via BRT and connected to the downtown area/HSR station. Bakersfield is also thinking more density. The whole trend is towad density around transit.

    People who claim we won’t be density are flat out wrong. With project population of 50M in the near future, there will be a process of continual densification, even if more sprawl is developed.

    Paul H. Reply:

    I would really enjoy seeing that thesis. I live in Fresno and have myself been studying Fresno’s downtown and regional transportation and redevelopment plans.

    you can email me at phfresno@gmail.com

    Eric Fredericks Reply:

    If I’m not mistaken, isn’t Fresno planning on 50,000 residents living downtown? The sky is the limit in Fresno. It’s an open canvas with good bones in place. They have some impressive redevelopment plans.

    jimsf Reply:

    All the plans are right here and they are ambitious. The thing about Fresno is, its a huge city, and unlike Sacramento, it doesnt have the bay area to lean on. Its on its own and the people there are starved for the amenities that places such as sf and la offer. So they have to make their own environment, and they will become the go to place for the sjq valley. The potential for FNO is limitless. The also have ample water, space, and high sierra within their region.

    jimsf Reply:

    they have integrated the hsr station into their downtown plans already as well as a light rail or streetcar system.

    Peter Reply:

    Weren’t they looking at implementing BRT? These do look like brand new plans, though. They look a lot more advanced than anything else I’ve seen from pretty much ANY city in CA.

    datacruncher Reply:

    The plans I’ve seen come out of Fresno in the last few months show both BRT and a streetcar system. BRT would have 2 routes from a HSR station, one BRT route east along Ventura/Kings Canyon to the eastern city limit and a second BRT route north along Blackstone to the SJ River. A streetcar system would operate downtown and north to the Tower District and Fresno City College.

    In spite of the recession and housing slowdown, some small housing projects have started in downtown Fresno in an area about 7 or 8 blocks from the future HSR station.
    This mixed-use project is currently under construction
    http://www.gvurban.com/?page_id=16
    as is this renovation into new lofts
    http://archop.org/2010/09/mayflower-hotel/
    while these are all open and leasing, some just finished last year.
    http://www.muraldistrict.com/ironbird.html
    http://www.muraldistrict.com/hstreet.html
    http://www.muraldistrict.com/hstreet.html
    http://www.muraldistrict.com/vagabond.html

  2. Brent
    Nov 13th, 2010 at 15:45
    #2

    Density arguments are all things to all people. Palo Alto has been arguing, in effect, that the city is too dense for HSR. Moore says California is not dense enough. An argument that can be used on both sides of an issue is probably suspect.

    Andre Peretti Reply:

    English HSR opponents argue that England is too dense for HSR. They say France’s and Spain’s urban centers are hundreds of miles apart, which make them suitable for HSR.
    If you follow their reasoning, then California should have it, but not Belgium, Holland, Germany and Italy. In short, CHSR: yes. Thalys, ICE, Direttissimo: No.
    It just shows how baseless the density argument is.

    G Ratener Reply:

    Did taiwan really need HSR?

    wu ming Reply:

    given the incredible congestion on the highways, rail lines, and airports, and the degree to which global warming and peal oil with thrash taiwan? yes.

  3. mike
    Nov 13th, 2010 at 16:31
    #3

    Density arguments are all things to all people. Palo Alto has been arguing, in effect, that the city is too dense for HSR.

    Or that it is so dense that it justifies tunneling. Either way, they are arguing that the endpoints of the HSR system (SF Bay Area and LA Metro area) are some of the very densest areas in the entire world.

    Victor Reply:

    And that to them means that only low density areas would be good for HSR, Which is crap, They can deny all they want, It’s coming no matter what and unless they pay for tunnels so as to not spoil their view, They’ll just have to suck It up and quit being a bunch of Namby Pamby babies, Kind of like the commercial Ermy(Everyones favorite retired Marine DI) is in where He says Do Ya want a tissue? And He throws the whole box at the Guy and He still misses.

  4. Joey
    Nov 13th, 2010 at 16:34
    #4

    Be careful – comparing the population densities of large, geographically diverse regions may not tell you much about how concentrated people actually are. It’s definitely true that populations are more concentrated in Europe (for example) – that is, that there is a lot less sprawl. Now, that’s not to say that HSR won’t work in California, but we will have to accept certain realities about our population distribution, such as the fact that people will be more likely to drive to HSR stations (or at least to regional systems like BART and Metrolink) than to take public transportation.

    jimsf Reply:

    I think hsr in cali will be its own thing. its own version. Its not spain, its not france, its not japan. Its california, and these are californians. So, my guess is that it will be a lot like bart in that people will uuse it in whatever way suits them, but they will make it work. San Francisco and vicinity – milbrae richmond oakland, use bart as an urban subway, while people in concord, dublin and fremont use is as commuter rail where they park and ride. Hsr will be just like that.
    Ridership will be what it will be. It really doesn’t matter because what we are getting is limitless expandable option to use from now forward. Thats what bart was, thats what the 280 and the 405 were, ( well I don’t know about the 405 so much, but the 280 was deemed ridiculous and unnecessary as it was built long before silicon valley existed. – no one could have imagined what was coming)
    People in the valley will no longer have to drive 4 hours to the nearest airport. People downtown will no longer have to leave town to get to the nearest airport. and no one will have to drive 5 hours on the 5 to get down south.
    People who cant see these basic benefits either lack brains, or are most likely being disingenuous or are at least blinded by their knee jerk opposition. You just can’t look at something that makes this much sense on so many levels and not see the need.

    Risenmessiah Reply:

    CAHSR will be its own thing. But you have to consider the real issue is that the state is almost held hostage by local control when doing transportation planning. In other words, BART is “a string of pearls” to use Robert’s Metaphor. In SF, there’s MUNI for local trips. In the ‘burbs, there are parking lots and increasingly TOD. San Jose, Sacramento, and San Diego, meanwhile, all have light rail systems that will easily integrate to HSR like MUNI. The problem is that in Los Angeles, density and sprawl has not followed local transit corridors because of … racial and immigration patterns. The MTA of course, has the power to build subways in LA City, but it’s out of luck in North Orange County or the 909.

    The regional commuter solution in Southern California is of course, Metrolink. But unlike the loop style of BART, Metrolink is a spoke with hubs and is a real commuter rail service. So no matter how much HSR you build south of the Tehachapi pass, the tough part is going to be getting the five counties onto one page and building some sort of feeder system outside of LA County for HSR. That’s going to be interesting.

    Elizabeth Reply:

    Here is recent European study showing mode shares for local travel. http://www.emta.com/article.php3?id_article=750

    1) Compare this to LA, Fresno and the Bay Area 2) Almost everyone now has integrated ticketing 3) The operating costs for all the european systems studied is lower than the SUBSIDY per Bay area passenger of $3.58.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    Annoyingly, these mode shares are for all trips and not just work trips, which means a) they severely overstate walking and severely understate transit, and b) they’re completely incomparable to North American numbers.

    The reason the average operating cost for local transit in Europe is lower than the average operating subsidy for BART is that BART is commuter rail. BART is more expensive to run than the RER or S-Bahns or Cercanias, but the difference isn’t that large.

    Richard Mlynarik Reply:

    Annoyingly, these mode shares are for all trips and not just work trips …

    ???

    Home to work commuting is hardly a privileged class of travel. It’s a purely recreational activity that people choose to undertake for perceived quality of life and economic reasons (in an economic environment grossly distorted by urban-to-exurban subsidization), just like me going for bike ride in Marin on the weekend and just like somebody driving or walking to a school or a shopping mall or a concert hall or to a friend’s place for dinner.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    It kind of is privileged, because you can expect everyone who’s employed to take precisely two work trips per day. For all other trips, the mode influences people’s decision on whether to combine trips or take them separately. If I take 4 two-way shopping trips per day and my mother takes 1, it’s not because my living in a walkable area induces more shopping; it’s because my living in a walkable area means I can buy items individually whereas my mother needs to drive 10 minutes to the supermarket and buy everything at once.

    Paulus Magnus Reply:

    Context or sourcing on that subsidy remark? According to the National Transit Database, BART had fare revenues of of $317,485,269 on operating costs of $484,177,232 with 114,654,578 annual unlinked trips (in 2009). I’m not sure how that works out to a subsidy of $3.58 per passenger.

    http://www.ntdprogram.gov/ntdprogram/pubs/profiles/2009/agency_profiles/9003.pdf

    Elizabeth Reply:

    The source of the subsidy comment was the MTC 2009 report. C:\Users\Elizabeth\Documents\HSR\Bay Area Transit\MTC_Annual Report 2009.pdf page 10 this is for all transit trips, which I believe is apples to apples with the numbers in the Deloitte report.

    Elizabeth Reply:

    oops on the link http://www.mtc.ca.gov/library/AnnualReport-09/

    Elizabeth Reply:

    Stop fussing about the walkers.

    If you just look at trips done by transit or car, transit has a 50% mode share in Madrid for ALL trips. LA is nowhere in the vicinity. Even Portland, the “success story”, has a far worse share
    http://www.humantransit.org/2010/01/portland-another-challenging-chart.html when just looking at trips to work which are more likely to be with transit, despite massive investments http://www.humantransit.org/2010/01/portland-a-challenging-chart.html

    My own personal view is that the American failure with transit http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Light_rail_in_North_America#Usage_of_light_rail_in_North_America has just been that we are doing a really bad job planning, investing and shopping for transit.

    Any guess as to who the main planning and engineering firm is in Portland? http://www.opensecrets.org/politicians/contrib.php?cycle=Career&type=C&cid=n00007727&newMem=N&recs=20

    Alon Levy Reply:

    Madrid, or Greater Madrid? These aren’t the same thing.

    Portland’s terrible track record at building transit is neither here nor there (if you want decent North American examples, go to Calgary or Vancouver – or, at much higher cost, Washington DC). It doesn’t mean BART is more subsidized than the NTD says it is. The denominator used by the NTD is all transit trips. It uses unlinked trips, which isn’t the best, but the headline numbers given by BART are unlinked anyway, and BART is sufficiently Transbay Tube-centered that switching to linked trips wouldn’t cut ridership too much.

    Paulus Magnus Reply:

    I don’t feel like going through a dozen different pages on the National Transit Database where they got their numbers to add them up and see how they came up with that conclusion, but I highly suspect that, assuming it is an accurate number, it is heavily biased by busses and demand response in the surrounding counties, which are more expensive to operate than trains and have lower fare recovery ratios. I can’t replicate their numbers for LA, so I’m not sure of their methodology or the validity of that subsidy statement.

    wu ming Reply:

    it’s also worth keeping in mind that california in 2019 and after is unlikely to work the same way as california today – much less how california worked from the 50s through the 90s. a lot will change between now and then, in part because of the HSR, in part because of the impact of peak oil, in part because of the shift in urban planning towards density and transit. while for some californians it’ll still mean driving and parking to the HSR station, that proportion of the population might end up being a lot smaller in 2019 or 2030 than it would be were we to have HSR today by some magical means.

    just having the HSR trunk line connecting the backbone of california’s urban cores together will itself be a catalyst as huge as the first railroads or freeways were on the state in the 19th and 20th centuries, respectively. with that in place, everything that feeds into it will be more effective, and that will spur the construction or extension and improvement of everything that can plug into it. my daughter will probably remember our road trips as a strange childhood memory in the distant past, but my grandkids will marvel that we ever did something so slow, uncomfortable and environmentally injurious as fill a heavy metal box on wheels up with gas and drive down I-5 for the better part of a day. to them, it’ll be as archaic as the stories of black bart robbing stagecoaches along the silverado trail sounded to me, growing up.

    Richard Mlynarik Reply:

    it’s also worth keeping in mind that california in 2019 and after is unlikely to work the same way as california today …

    Sure. Right.

    Peak oil! TOD! Monterey light rail!

    The state will be 100% powered by unicorn farts within 9 years.

    Or do you mean California will work differently by becoming a constitutional monarchy, a member of the EU, or a special Chinese administrative zone by 2019? All of those scenarios are far more likely than PBQD’s HSR ridership or cost “projections”.

    D. P. Lubic Reply:

    Richard, what’s wrong with you? Why do you insult Wu so?

    I can easily understand your being upset with PB, I understand how a number of people can have doubts about TOD and the proposed Monterey light rail line (even if they happen to be in my generational pattern I’ve been speaking of), certainly there are things I would have done differently with BART (starting with that oddball track gauge), but what is your problem with the peak oil argument? Don’t the parallel exploration and production curves, the historic patterns, the heavy dependence on oil for transport (something like 99%), the ratio of transportation use in oil demand (65% of total consumption, with 48% of total consumption being motor fuel alone), and the recent oil market volatility mean anything to you?

    Peter Reply:

    Richard’s just an asshole.

    D. P. Lubic Reply:

    Peter, my mother said if you can’t say anything nice, you shouldn’t say anything–even if I have to agree that what you say is true.

    Peter Reply:

    My mom never taught me that one. I wouldn’t have followed that advice anyway. Richard sure as hell doesn’t, his posts are mostly full-blown temper tantrums. He deserves whatever he has coming.

    D. P. Lubic Reply:

    And I have to admit, it’s interesting that Richard (or Morris and others) never answer these questions, never really make their case. Gives me the impression they don’t have one. Heck, it would be revealing even if they said they were convinced of abiotic oil or something. Sadly, this sort of thing undermines the other arguments they make, i.e. the problems with the subcontractors, one big and apparently overpriced one in particular.

    In the end, they wind up sounding like the tea-party “patriots” Andre mentioned in another post here–a bunch of “patriotic” phonies.

    We already have too many such phonies. What amazes me is how the so-called “true conservatives,” i.e., the conservative side of the culture wars Jim SF has mentioned, fall for them. Then they get disappointed and start buying guns and getting on a “JEE-ZUZ” kick. I have relatives like that, as does my wife; they are not easy to be around.

    What’s funny is that they have no objections to the bad language in films that I dislike so, they seem to accept at least some naked people in films (I’m afraid I’m more than a bit old-fashioned about such things), they decried Clinton’s indiscretions (certainly embaressing), but pay no attention to multiple divorces and marriages in the Republican crowd, and generally act like know-it-alls. Barrack Obama got into all manner of trouble for saying that some people were bitter and clung to their guns and religion, and Jesse Ventura got into hot water when he said he thought religion was for people with weak minds, but I think both men spoke the truth for a portion of the religious community.

    Thankfully not all of those who would be considered faithful are like that, but that portion that is like that sure gets the attention, and gives the rest of us a collective black eye.

    jimsf Reply:

    Gasp!!!

    D. P. Lubic Reply:

    Blast, no edit function! That 48% is gasoline alone, and the diesel fuel used by trucks is another 6%. That means motor fuel accounts for 64% of total oil demand. The highway system is our Achilles heel. It’s proving to cost too much. The problem is, much of the cost is still “off the books,” in hidden subsidies, hidden costs, and even some things that are obvious but not talked about, like bodies coming into Dover. . .

    People here talk about “starving the beast,” referring to what some consider an oppressive domestic government, but what about “starving the beasts” of the oil kingdoms, the dictators, and the terrorists? Funny I don’t hear so much of that. . .why is that so?

    jimsf Reply:

    Actually Id bet money that california in 2019 will be exaclty like californian today. As soon as the housing market recovers, the standard development practices will resume. Oh sure there will be some emphasis in some communities, where there will be meager attempts at TOD etc. But the pattern for suburban growth, tracts, stucco, and parkways, will continue. People will buy where they get the most square footage for the price.

    wu ming Reply:

    the california you’ve grow up with only functions that way because of cheap oil, cheap land, and plentiful water. as we hit real scarcities in all three, the housing market and all that attends it will simply not continue functioning in the same way. peripheral suburban growth hits distance limits after a couple of hours of one-way commute, and it ceases to be affordable once gas prices get up above a given level. a single price spike in 2008 pretty much nuked the real estate market. only way real estate returns to its postwar pattern is if a bunch of new oilfields materialize out of nowhere, and all the housing developments within driving distance to the job centers suddenly disappears so that a new crop of speculators can build new houses there again.

    what can’t go on, won’t. we’re hitting real limits on the old system, and they’ll get worse as we go forward. by 2019 there is no way the state looks like you’re used to it looking. it could go in any number of ways, but it won’t look like 1945-1990.

    jimsf Reply:

    thats only nine years from now. and for the next few years until the economy bounces back fully, nothing will happen. So while it will change, it will take 20-30 years for any kind of dramatic change.

    wu ming Reply:

    oil production is about to go off a cliff, unless you believe that currently unknown oilfields (the light blue field) will appear and go into production at exactly the rate of current oilfields’ production decline (the dark blue field). whether our economy recovers or goes through a japanese-style “lost decade,” oil is going to get scarce, and the price is going to go up. by 2019, we’ll be a fair amount down that blue slope. things will change, one way or another.

    John Burrows Reply:

    I”m not so optimistic:

    My wild guess would be that by 2019 HSR will be complete from Merced to Los Angeles with high speed trains running: That construction would be underway on the Pacheco segment: And that the lawsuits involving the Peninsula and Anaheim segments would be winding up their legal journeys.

    I would also guess that with only 4 of the 7 segments complete that high speed rail in California will be on its way to becoming a huge success as large numbers of commuters from the Simi Valley and from as far away as Bakersfield quickly switch to HSR to get to work in the Los Angeles area.

    As the temporary northern terminus, Merced will become a busy place with truncated San Joaquins connecting to Sacramento and to Emeryville: and with extended Altamonts connecting to San Jose. This hybrid system will allow travel times of just over 4 hours from Sacramento to Los Angeles— And under 5 hours from Oakland or from San Jose to Los Angeles. For some, travel from San Francisco to LA by way of BART—San Joaquin —HSR will be an option.

    By 2019, you are going to be using that metal box on wheels almost as much as you do now, but opportunities to not use it will be increasing.

    Will it happen like this? Predicting the future comes with a 100% guarantee of failure. But if the future of CAHSR were to develop in this way, I would be OK with it.

  5. jimsf
    Nov 13th, 2010 at 17:03
    #5

    Look at this map and notice the route build out phase and two, exactly follows the red.

    Matthew Reply:

    I was thinking of this map when reading this post. This map is a good argument for the Central Valley segment to follow the 99, and for the LA-San Diego route to go via the Inland Empire.

    Drunk Engineer Reply:

    It is also a good argument for the Altamont alignment.

    StevieB Reply:

    The San Jose population center is a better arguement against the Altamont alignment.

    jimsf Reply:

    Actually its a much better argument for the san jose-pacheco alignment. The population and the density of population in the bay area is bottom heavy, and concentrated in the southbay. Not only is the southbay the largest segment of population, but its also the most dynamic in terms of industry, jobs, and overall productivity. The lesser and less dense populations of eastern coco, alameda co, and tracy, consist of far less productive bedroom communities.

    Drunk Engineer Reply:

    East Bay population: 2.4 million
    South Bay population: 1.6 million

    As for the comment “density of the Bay Area is bottom heavy”, well…only if you hold your map upside down.

    jimsf Reply:

    As for your numbers, depends on what you are calling the eastbay and south bay.

    First of all Santa Clara county alone is 1.7 million + and while the southbay as it pertains to hsr, would include southern san mateo co and southern alameda county, altamont would not include, northernmost alameda county (berkeley) and most of west coco county (i-80 corridor)

    jimsf Reply:

    that evens out the population numbers, then look at the productivity and business aspects. It also has the highest median household income of any county in california. 11k higher than coco and a younger median age as well, both of which would tend towards high ridership. As the bay area goes, there is just no comparison between eastern coco and eastern alameda co, with southern alameda, santa clara and silicon valley.

    side notes:
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    With an economy of almost $300 billion, the Bay Area ranks 24th in the world when compared to national economies. On a per capita basis, it ranks ahead of all national economies, including the U.S. The region is at the cutting edge of global technology, and is a leader in many key indicators of regional, global and national competitiveness, including:
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    More Fortune 500 companies than any region except New York;
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    The nine-county Bay Area embraces San Francisco, Marin, Napa, Sonoma,Solano, Contra Costa, Alameda, Santa Clara and San Mateo Counties, and is the only region in the nation claiming three major cities&—San Francisco, Oakland and San Jose—as well as the high technology center of Silicon Valley, and the heart of Northern California’s wine country. With a market of more than six million residents, the Bay Area is California’s second largest and the nation’s fourth largest metropolitan region

    wu ming Reply:

    as a later addition after the sacramento extension is built out, yes.

    BruceMcF Reply:

    Indeed, if the Capital Corridor and Starlight are upgraded to Emerging HSR, you’d have the Express HSR hitting all lines of big red splotches, and the Regional HSR hitting most of the balance of lines of smaller red splotches.

    Drunk Engineer Reply:

    There is no such thing as “emerging HSR”. Capitol Corridor will always be a slow and unreliable service.

    jimsf Reply:

    Uh capitol corridor is very reliable and very successful with a customer satisfaction index Perhaps you should know what you’re talking about before you post. Unless your goal is just to be a smartass. I can understand that though. It can be fun.

    jimsf Reply:

    Here Ill even read it to you…
    October 13, 2010
    As the economy slowly recovers, the Capitol Corridor Joint Powers Authority (CCJPA) is experiencing a steady upward trend in ridership and revenue, as well as unprecedented on-time performance thresholds. In fact, in September Capitol Corridor achieved 98 percent on-time performance–the best intercity passenger rail performance in the nation.
    “Nearly 1.6 million people rode Capitol Corridor trains in Fiscal Year 2009-10, (FY 2009-10) which ended on September 30,” CCJPA Chair Jim Holmes announced. “Although ridership results struggled in the first five months of the fiscal year, we were thrilled to see ridership increasing four percent in the last seven months. We are grateful for this upward trend. Our revenue for the fiscal year also showed a four percent increase when compared to the previous fiscal year. What’s even more significant is the consistent, high level of on-time performance the Capitol Corridor achieved all year. We ended the month of September with a superior 98 percent on-time performance—the best performance in the history of our service. We are proud to have the most reliable intercity passenger rail service in the nation.”

    Drunk Engineer Reply:

    jimsf: I was a daily rider of the service for 3 years. I quite know what the service is like:

    1. Schedule kept getting padded until reaching the 98% ‘on-time’ threshold
    2. Trains are allowed to be 20 minutes late, and still be considered ‘on-time’ according to CC/UP metric

    For an Amtrak service, it isn’t bad (which isn’t saying much). But HSR surrogate? Get real.

    jimsf Reply:

    I didn’t say it was an hsr surrogate. But the customer satisfaction scores are in the high 90s. So the customers are happy, then your job is done as that is the whole point.

    Drunk Engineer Reply:

    The true measure of customer satisfaction is rail mode-share in the corridor, which is quite dreadful for CC service. Considering the I80 congestion, that is really saying something.

    Peter Reply:

    Bring up the frequency and lower trip times somewhat, and the rail mode-share would increase as quickly as you increased frequency.

    jimsf Reply:

    no, the true measure is when you ask people do you like the service and they say yes.

    jimsf Reply:

    more people would ride if they knew about the service. Right now you’d be surprised at how many people come in everyday and are surprised to find out that you can take a train to sacramento. its true.

    Joey Reply:

    The small niche of people who actually ride might be generally satisfied, but that doesn’t make it an effective service.

    If EVERYONE who has any need to travel from the Bay Area to Sacramento was satisfied with the CC service, then they would actually ride it.

    jimsf Reply:

    yes well you could say that about any transit service in california. by that measure there is zero satisfactory transit service in california. Dont be ridiculous.

    Joey Reply:

    No. See, this is where modal share is important. The more satisfied people are with a given public transportation service, the more they will take it rather than, say, driving. Obviously this can never reach 100%, but if you compare transit in CA with transit in Europe or Asia, or even some areas of the Northeast (mainly NYC), we’re lagging behind badly.

    BruceMcF Reply:

    Gross mode shares are made up of a wide variety of origins and destinations and arrival times and departure times … if 10% can be met by the existing service and 5% of those take the service, that wpi;d be a 0.5% gross mode share, but satisfying those who take the service will grow the second factor, and upgrading the transit speed will both increase the competitive position in the specific trips catered to and, via increased frequency with the same sets, increase the variety of origins and destinations and arrival and departure times that can be satisfied, increasing both factors.

    And of course while satisfying the existing ridership is not necessarily sufficient for growing the mode share, it is a good indicator of a necessary condition.

    jimsf Reply:

    yep. see.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    I’d be surprised if I could take the train from San Francisco to Sacramento … because you can’t. You have to get on a bus that gets stuck in traffic in San Francisco or Oakland and go to an Amshack in Emeryville if you want to travel between San Francisco and Sacramento…..

    jimsf Reply:

    and you’re never going to get that many people out of their cars in cali. no matter what you do. I suport transit and high speed rail, even at an operating loss, because I have had to depend on transit for decades. But we have to be realistic about what california or the us is going to accomplish. It will never be what idealists want it to be. People are going to drive no matter what. Developers are going to build sprawl and people are going to buy tract housing, no matter what, and the best we can hope for in californian, is that we have a lot of transportation options that do a reasonable job for a portion of the population that wants to use it. It will never be the majority. You just have to make the best argument you can and hope for the best politically. Thats reality. EVen hsr is going to take decades to reach the full ridership potential. I know that. But forget the utopian visions of the future at least for our lifetimes.

    Joey Reply:

    jim – none of that changes the fact that the Capital Corridor does a poor job of serving transportation demand between the Bay Area and Sacramento, even for the origin-destination pairs it tries to.

    jimsf Reply:

    actually adirondack, it may come as a shock to you that once they realize there is a service available, the next thing they say is ” oh so what do you do, take a shuttle over the bridge?” They neither have a hard time grasping the concept, nor are they put off by it. And barring strange occurrences such as last weeks bay bridge hostage situation, the buses don’t get stuck in traffic. They make it over in 15 minutes. I have ridden and timed it myself. ( those buses are a main part of my job, so there isn’t anything you are going to tell me about them ok?)

    Joey Reply:

    Sorry, that was in response to your last comment. In response to this one – sure, transit will never be in CA what it is in Europe or Asia, but we can do a hell of a lot better than we are doing. As for sprawl and tract housing – yes, it exists, yes, it’s expanding (though slowly), but it’s becoming less and less attractive, both practically and culturally. Sprawl can also be curbed by adequate regulation (zoning and otherwise), and will tend to decrease as transportation options in the dense areas open up (i.e. we need more transit).

    jimsf Reply:

    Well joey, one can hope. I’m more of a realist as I have been watching and hearing about “hopw things could or should be” since the 1960s and lo and behold, things are pretty much the same as always and probably always will be. Not to pop anyones youthful bubble, I remember thinking that way too, but I’m just tossing in a dose of reality. Don’t get your hopes up and you won’t be disappointed.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    A good rule of thumb is that if your “It’ll never work here” rebuttal would apply to Calgary in the 1970s but not today, then it might actually work here.

    J. Wong Reply:

    The sad reality is that no matter how congested I80 is a lot of people won’t take the train no matter how convenient. Americans are addicted to their automobiles. You’re going to have to pry them out of their cold, dead fingers.

    BruceMcF Reply:

    Odd thing about the “all Americans are equally addicted to their cars argument” is explaining why rail ridership goes up when reliability is improved, frequency is improved, and transit times are reduced. Its almost as if not all Americans were not equally addicted to their cars.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    What Bruce said. Or why ridership on NJTransit trains has quadrupled in the past 25 years. Or why, when they opened Midtown Direct ( service from the suburbs that had been served by the Delaware Lackawanna and Western ) they reached their ten year ridership numbers in monhts or ….. must be that people in places like metro New York aren’t Real Americans(tm). Or people in Metro DC on Metro, MARC and VRE. Or people in Chicago on the CTA and Metra or in Boston…..

    and Bruce, a lot of that mode shift in places like NY comes because road congestion is getting so bad the trains that go slower than they did in the 50s are faster than driving. Much more relaxed too…

    D. P. Lubic Reply:

    And let us remember, there’s that generational shift going on, too. I still remember how I felt like an old geezer compared with all my fellow passengers on the Metro in Washington–and that was five years ago, when I was 50!

    wu ming Reply:

    no need to do the prying, $5 and $6 a gallon gas will do that just fine all by itself.

    BruceMcF Reply:

    $6/gallon gas? wu ming, you are such an optimist! The price will go as high as it needs to go to destroy sufficient demand to fit within available supply. For a commodity with a price elasticity as low as gasoline, we’ll be looking back fondly at $5~$6/gallon gas.

    jimsf Reply:

    you’re probably one of those people for whom nothing is ever good enough. like richard. You just want to badmouth amtrak, and hsr, on philosophical grounds. Youd never be happy.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    Yep. He keeps complaining that Amtrak and CAHSR aren’t as good as existing European HSR lines. Clearly, he just hates all HSR.

    Anthony Reply:

    American’s are not addicted to their cars. I am an automotive enthusiasts more likely the biggest one among the people that write post here. However I like the idea of rail and I like how you can get where you need to go in Europe without driving unless you have too. Right now taking public transportation here is both undesirable socially and inconvenient mostly. Girls will not date you in LA if you don’t have a car and please don’t say change the type of women your meeting but that’s the simple truth. If we had real transportation options this wouldn’t be used against you socially. As for inconvenience, hell yes. It takes over an hour by bus to get from Northridge to N. Hollywood Station, a trip that takes about 20-25 mins by car. One at the RedLine station, it takes about 15 mins to get to Hollywood and Vine, that’s more like it. It takes another 15 mins for 30 mins total to reach Downtown LA and Union Station, try that driving a car.. From there I can take a Mexican Bus service from Downtown to San Diego or TJ and that takes about 90 mins with two stops. HSR from Union Station to San Diego should take no longer than 45 mins at worst. Between Frankfurt and Mainz we hit 320km per hour and hit from Frankfurt Main Station to Mainz in about 20 mins, a trip that takes about an hour or more by car…. REAL OPTIONS.

    Joey Reply:

    Starlight? Emerging HSR? Good luck with that…

    Nothing short of major investment along the coast (base tunnels, cutoffs, curve realignments, double tracking) will make that route time competitive, even with driving.

    BruceMcF Reply:

    I don’t think the whole of the route from San Jose to Los Angeles needs to be made time competitive with driving, since there seems to be a bit of a project that aims to connect San Jose with Los Angeles via the Central Valley at something a bit over 110mph or 125mph top speed.

    How much freight traffic uses the UP Santa Barbara and Coast subdivisions, to require dedicated passenger track all the way to allow 110mph tilt trains?

    thatbruce Reply:

    Not much; its used as a relief line for the main part, freight originating on the line not withstanding. Due to this, its in worse shape than the CV lines.

    BruceMcF Reply:

    In the Midwest Regional Rail System design pattern, for 110mph corridors, lightly used freight rails are upgraded to Class VII, with 10 miles of passing track per 50 miles of track, while dedicated passenger track is laid to run alongside heavily used freight rail.

    Of course, a passing track or dedicated track could also include a cutout ~ skimming through the Google Map, there are a few places where it looks like a cutout would worth investigating for cost:benefit.

    However, if the focus of the upgrade is on a two hour transit radius of San Jose and a two hour transit radius of LAUS, some of those places might be in the section between.

    wu ming Reply:

    only red dots left off the route will be redding/chico and the 680/580 commuter burbs.

    jimsf Reply:

    580-680 = hsr commuter overlay remember?

    James Reply:

    Re: Map of California population density: 5000 per sq mi. is 1931 per sq km.
    For comparison.

    Population Area km2 Density /km2
    Greater London 7,512,400 1,572 4,779
    Los Angeles Urban 14,775,000 4,320 3,420
    City of Los Angeles 3,833,995 1,215 3,156
    San Jose Metro 1,839,700 717 2,566
    San Francisco 815,358 601 1,357
    New York Metro 19,006,798 17,405 1,092
    Bay Area Urban 7,427,757 6,979 1,064

  6. Ben
    Nov 13th, 2010 at 17:11
    #6

    Why not just address this argument directly. LA County, because of its natural boundaries, is the densest region in the US.

    http://articles.latimes.com/2005/oct/23/opinion/oe-bruegmann23

    Alon Levy Reply:

    Kind of, sort of. This sort of density doesn’t tell you much, and is irrelevant for transit issues. It tells you how dense the average piece of dirt is, not how dense the average person’s area is. On nearly all urban and land use factors, you get stronger correlations by weighting density for population and not area. By that measure, New York is by far the densest urban area in the US. SF is a distant second, and LA a close third. See details here.

    Not that it’ll stop pro-sprawl contrarians like Bruegmann from tossing zingers about LA’s being denser than New York, of course.

    Matthew Reply:

    See also this post: http://www.humantransit.org/2010/09/the-perils-of-average-density.html

  7. Ben
    Nov 13th, 2010 at 17:16
    #7

    As this Wash Post article notes, the urbanized area around LA is 25% more dense than NY, twice as dense as the DC region, and four times as dense as the Atlanta-metro region.

    http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2005/08/10/AR2005081002110.html

    jimsf Reply:

    even standard tract housing in california is built on much smaller lots, much tighter, than the same tract housing in the south and midwest. People notice it when they come here, “why are the houses so close together” is what they say when they see these

    wu ming Reply:

    the real question is “why do those people build those ugly-assed too-big houses on those lots, when a slightly smaller one would be a lot nicer?” give me a 1940s-era bungalow on the same sized lot over one of those grey barns, thankyouverymuch.

    D. P. Lubic Reply:

    Wu,

    I normally like older houses myself; the one I live in is modern by my standards, having been built in what I consider the fairly recently year of 1925! That is recent, at least when compared with the houses I used to live in before I got married, which were built in the 1840s and 1899! One of my brothers still lives in that 1899 house, which is in a trolley suburb in Wheeling, W.Va.

    A link or two you might appreciate:

    http://retrorenovation.com/mid-century-modest-manifesto/

    http://www.americanbungalow.com/

    http://www.atomic-ranch.com/

    Enjoy.

    jimsf Reply:

    they live in them because they want the rooms and features. I love th bungalows with all the built in shelves, the arches, the sliding doors between main rooms, and big front porches but most people nowdo not want to sit on the front porch and see their neighbors, they want everything inside, more bathrooms especially, and a great room and a two car garage and an open kitchen and dining for entertaining, which is a bit odd considering our outdoorsy climate here.

    What is being built today in the way of tract housing is based on the simple version of 60s and 70s tract housing that was this basic model which in the 80s got fancified a little more becoming one of these and then with the boom in the 90s and everone wanting to climb climb climb socially, resulted in the mcmansion style we know so well today

    jimsf Reply:

    As for why they keep building them same way… well I custom built a home once and I can tell you why. I had looked into several aternative building methods and I got the same general response from everyone involved, pro and con, the contractors, the building department, suppliers, etc, whether they were for it against it all basically said, “we do things they way we do them because that’s what everyone knows how to do, once you start trying to go outside the box, you are going to run into trouble with contractors who aren’t familiar and building departments that are reluctant and you increase your risk of problems and cost”
    The goal is to keep costs down for everyone, and keep profits up. The developers have to compete on price, the homeowner does not want, nor in most cases, afford, to pay extra for things they dont see value in. I had looked into a particular type of insulated panel construction that was truly amazing. But no one wanted to touch it and the building department didn’t know what to make of it. Same goes for solar. The reason we don’t have large tracts of pre installed solar communities is that it adds to the cost of the home and people wont pay it. Sure it may save them in the long run but thats not how people shop. A developer is not going to be able to complete selling the same model for 25k more with solar panels. Idealism is fine on the university campus but doesn’t fly in real life. Or at least it lags behind for 30 or 40 years.

    The great thing about those sips by the way is that in addition the superior insulated properties, they are made from recycled wood.

    BruceMcF Reply:

    Provide Connie Mae finance based on the utility savings from the solar panels, and the “higher cost to buy, lower total cost to own” elements suddenly become interesting, because they do not require mortgage finance.

    Fannie Mae is determined to sabotage that at the moment, but if Connie Mae was an arm of Fannie Mae, they’d reverse themselves 180 degrees and go out of their way to encourage it.

    jimsf Reply:

    you have to make the house with the solar panels the same price as the house without solar panels or the people aren’t going to buy it. they are gonna say, “lets get into the cheaper house and worry about the pg&e bill later. Thats how people think.

    wu ming Reply:

    depends on how bad the PG&E bill gets, and how good the rebates are.

    D. P. Lubic Reply:

    Man, I took a look at your basic model, and talk about ugly! Too much garage, not enough windows, no porch, the later version with the garage out front, worse yet! Why do I want a garage where my living room should be?

    Overall construction quality doesn’t look so hot, either. In that respect, including the tile roof, the McMansion example you have is the best of the lot.

    Personally, judging from what I see around here in West Virginia, the last really nice houses were built around 1964. Many from that time period had, among other things, hardwood floors and a decent amount of windows. Loss of windows and wall-to-wall carpet came into favor after that.

    I took the carpet out of my own 1925 house, revealing the hardwood floors again. And if I have any choice at all, I’ll never live in anything with wall-to-wall carpet again. You take up that carpet, and you find out just what your rug shampoo machine and vacuum sweeper don’t do. I’ve noticed a considerable lessening of alergy problems as well since I went old-time style with wooden floors, and they look better, too. Only disadvantage is they are a bit noisy, but in honesty, that’s what a house sounded like then, too!

    jimsf Reply:

    D. P. Lubic Reply:
    November 14th, 2010 at 3:57 pm
    Man, I took a look at your basic model, and talk about ugly! Too much garage, not enough windows, no porch, the later version with the garage out front, worse yet! Why do I want a garage where my living room should be?

    Yeh well there are zillions of acres of those homes all over california. Thats just what it was back then. Since then they have refined and standardized the building requirements. There is a strict code in cali now which adds to the costs of homes, but also creates the uniformity, which is a good thing from a safety and quality standpoint. But it results in the same materials and construction styles to persist in order to keep costs down. We also don’t have basements. Well, in the bay area in certain areas, in the 1950s homes were built with basements but they are above ground basements All my grandparents lived in these. The garage area was called the basement. Other than that style though, no basements to speak of.

  8. Ben
    Nov 13th, 2010 at 17:20
    #8

    Anyone who claims Southern California isn’t dense should look at these photos. It is clear that LA Co. is very dense, especially from Santa Monica to DT LA, along the Wilshire corridor.

    http://forum.skyscraperpage.com/showthread.php?t=186354

    D. P. Lubic Reply:

    Wow! I hope you can get enough water for all those people.

    And did you take note that this young fellow, and some of his commentors, see the need for local rail transit in “low-density,” “autos are best for US” Califonia?

    jimsf Reply:

    I know where the water is. Since the poles are melting anyway, and all that fresh water is just doing nothing but raising the sea level, we should be running a big pipe up to alaska and sucking up all that wasted water. That way we do are part to quench our thirst and slow the sea level rise at the same time. We will store it in our swimming pools and make of our desert bloom! Its a win win.

    wu ming Reply:

    denser housing lowers the water needs per capita, even as it increases the total demand. if we can retire the selenium soils of the westlands water district, and ban unused lawns as a senseless waste of a crucial common resource, we’ll do OK.

    wu ming Reply:

    also, some work on greywater recycling on a community-wide scale would seriously cut down on water needs.

    thatbruce Reply:

    It is clear that LA Co. is very dense, especially from Santa Monica to DT LA, along the Wilshire corridor.

    Those corridors became dense due to people establishing houses along the ‘light rail’ lines between LA and its coastal resort beaches. TOD a century ago ;)

  9. Andrew
    Nov 13th, 2010 at 17:36
    #9

    There’s an obvious chicken and egg problem here. High density will not be built in the absence of high speed rail and mass transit lines to connect to (car-oriented development is typically low-density), and also high-speed rail and mass transit are complimentary (building high-speed rail will encourage mass transit expansion). That said, California is clearly the second-best place in the US (after the Northeast Corridor) to build high speed rail. The populations of the urban areas along the line are huge (Greater Los Angeles: 17786419, Bay Area 7427757, Greater San Diego 2813833, Greater Sacramento 2436109, plus Fresno, Bakersfield and various smaller cities), so high speed rail will certainly be well used. Of course it won’t be used as much as the Tokaido Shinkansen which is in a class by itself, but the population served by California HSR is comparable to many other currently operating high-speed links in the world. Both the Los Angeles and San Francisco terminals will connect to mass transit (Red/Purple/Gold and Metrolink in Los Angeles; BART and Caltrain in San Francisco/San Jose), and undoubtedly high speed rail will encourage expansion of these systems. In any case, low density, inadequate mass transit and long travel times to the airport clearly don’t deter people from flying between the two cities, so there will be a large market for high speed rail from day one.

    Matthew Reply:

    You’re also missing VTA around San Jose, MUNI in San Francisco, the San Diego Trolley, Sacramento light rail, Metrolink at various Southern California stations, and various high-ridership Amtrak routes (not to mention dozens of bus systems). There will be at least some feeder service at many different HSR stations from day one. I think we’re beyond the chicken and egg scenario, and to the point where existing transit systems will simply reinforce each other. In all of these cities, increased ridership can result in transit expansion rather than having to build a network from scratch. In many ways, much of the hard work has been done. All HSR has to do is join these independent systems together. Joint ticketing policies would be very helpful, though. An ideal situation would be that you enter the starting and ending addresses on a website, and the system returns you a complete route from door to door, a detailed itinerary complete with maps for the pedestrian portions of the trip, and a link to purchase a ticket that covers all transit connections. Ticketing machines in the stations should have similar capabilities, but perhaps just giving the option to choose station names rather than street addresses. Does Google want to help out?

  10. D. P. Lubic
    Nov 13th, 2010 at 18:05
    #10

    This density agrument is another one of the things making the anti-rail crowd look crooked, incompetent, or insane.

    As noted, actual population density on a square-mile basis is not necessarily the same as travel density. If that were the case, we wouldn’t need multi-lane Interstate highways across the Great Plains of the Dakotas, the Alleghenies of Pennsylvania, or the deserts of Utah, Nevada, Arizona, and New Mexico. Those places don’t have much population density, parts of them essentially have no population at all, part of one route was a tressle (later a causeway) 12 miles long across part of Utah’s Great Salt Lake (not much population there!) yet they are still travel corridors for people and goods crossing them. And if we don’t have population density now, what was it like when railroads were built in the same areas over 100 years ago?

    On top of that, parts of America have the same or greater population densities. I understand Ohio and Florida both have population densities greater than that of France. I also understand that if you were to transplant the entire orginal Paris-Lyons TGV line to America, in terms of mileage and population per mile of line served, it would actually run not from New York to Washington, but from Boston to Charlottesville, Va. Now, the population distribution would be different, with the largest city served being located at about one-third of the distance from its northern terminus, but Boston isn’t exactly something to sneeze at for passenger potential, while Lyons is relatively small, and Charlottesville isn’t exactly Petticoat Junction. On top of that, depending on routing, you might as well go somewhere a little further, like Richmond, Va., and Richmond isn’t small, either.

    How do these jerks get the attention they do? They are liars, idiots, or nuts. Why does anybody listen to them at all?

    I’ll add that parts of my West Virginia are like that, too, yet we had passenger trains on some really wild routes, and still do on one or two. One of these is the routing of Amtrak’s Cardinal, which runs through the New River Gorge. This river, despite its name, is believed to be the second oldest river in the world, being only less senior to the Nile. It originates in North Carolina, and is unusual for flowing north on part of its route. It turns west in West Virginia, and joins the Gauley River at Gauley Bridge to form the Kanawha, which continues west to join the Ohio at Point Pleasant, W.Va.

    This was the route of the Chesapeake & Ohio, which was primarily a coal conveyor, but it also had a first class, if conservative, passenger service. This video clip below shows some of the features of this route. This is a very shortened version of a longer PR film made in the 1930s; the reference to George Washington (which is much expanded in the full version) is in regard to his surveys along the route for a canal, which in some ways was a predecessor of the C&O; in fact, part of the route follows the towpath of the James River canal in the Richmond area.

    In any event, take note of the country along the New River; to my eye, it looks like the Feather River in California, but with more trees. Not a whole lot of population density there, even allowing for the logging camps and coal mines on that route! Other items of note are the interior shots of Imperial Salon cars (two and one seating, swivel seats, no extra fare), the dining car service, and the sleepers, including a cute shot of a little girl going to sleep with a kitten, representing the C&O’s mascot, Chessie the Cat. Power is steam, which on the C&O in this period was noted for a ferocious appearance with front-mounted air compressors and low-mounted headlights; the unusual air compressor mounting allowed fat-boilered locomotives to squeeze through tight tunnels, while the low headlights reduced glare running at night in the heavy fogs of the Kanawha and Ohio Rivers and the Teas Valley.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wTW88f8jc5w

    Alon Levy Reply:

    Paris-Lyon is a little more than 400 kilometers. It takes you from Washington to southwestern Connecticut, not from Boston to Charlottesville.

    The rural infrastructure in the US is for the most part completely pointless, precisely because of the lack of density. There’s no rational basis for having four-lane grade-separated Interstates in North Dakota, West Virginia, and northern Pennsylvania. They were built to provide pork for rural areas and to be able to draw nice road lines on a map.

    For railroads, this is a little bit different. The reason is that some of the transcontinental lines provided freight links that would not have been possible otherwise. There was still overbuilding and overcompetition, but at the very least, the Southern and Northern Transcons and the Sunset and Overland Routes are all useful. The same can’t be said for I-90 and I-80, which are more akin to building high-speed rail from Chicago to the West Coast.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    I-10, I-40, I-80 and I-90 …. means you can have nice crisp lettuce in the dead of winter in New York and Boston. Maybe not the most rational way to provide it, but they do provide useful transportation services across the unpopulated West.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    What fresh produce can be trucked that couldn’t be hauled in refrigerated cars on the Southern Transcon and the Water Level Route?

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    There isn’t but a series of bad decisions were made and most of it gets hauled by truck. Means you have nice cheap um um stuff at Target and Walmart too. Most of it could be shipped by rail. Whichi s what large transportation companies like J.B. Hunt or UPS or the USPS or … do. That fresh squeezed Florida orange juice gets from Florida to Jersey City by rail. Gets from Florida to Illinois by rail and Florida to California by rail ( Yes, California imports orange juice from Florida )
    The concept had to be gussied up in a shroud of National Defense against the Red Menace to get funding….. even back then rational people realized that shipping stuff from California to New Hampshire all the way by truck wasn’t a great concept. Gussied up with 90% funding from the Federal Government too.

    wu ming Reply:

    california grows naval oranges, florida grows juice oranges. i’ll bet we ship citrus to florida, too.

    D. P. Lubic Reply:

    It still isn’t, and it sometimes doesn’t work, even now. Those routes across the northern plains get some of the most ferocious winters you ever saw, with plenty of snow combined with wind to blow it into drifts that can pack into something that comes close to ice. Those roads can be closed in some of those blizzards, and airports too.

    It’s not impossible to close a railroad in such conditions, but normally they do stay open when nothing else does. There have been occasions when BNSF’s freight trains and the Empire Builder that runs with them were the only things that could still move during such storms and for a while during the cleanup, too. This is part of the reason mayors from places like Bismark, N.D. are supportive of Amtrak.

    Rotary snow plow operation on the Union Pacific in Kansas–brrrrr. . .

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=frBh5vO_2g0

    We can get snow in the east, too.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cn7Yvy4Vibk&feature=related

    It’s been a while since they’ve had to open their line for spring operations like this, but the narrow-gauge, steam-powered Cumbres & Toltec heritage railroad in Colorado and New Mexico shows how it used to be. . .

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ha59KFvCQUY&NR=1

    wu ming Reply:

    they were built to move nukes, and to make sure that military troop movements and key economic shipping would not be at risk of a rail worker’s strike, during the cold war. the pork only came afterwards. the dimensions for all of those bridges and overpasses is a nuclear missile on a big rig.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    The military bits were just an excuse. The ever-escalating standards for federally funded road construction go back to the 1910s, and the Interstate map goes back to the early 1940s. It even has a bit of FDR-era politics in it: Vermont was supposed to get two more Interstates, but those were canceled in retaliation for the state’s voting against FDR every election. (And even the two Interstates it did get forced it to divert state spending to roads just to come up with a 10% match.)

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    The military bits were just an excuse.
    You don’t need Interstate grade highway to haul nukes around. Or move troops.
    It was a fig leaf covering getting the Northeast and Midwest to pay for free roads in Wyoming and equally unpopulated places. They saw the turnpikes and parkways there and the freeways in California and figured out a way to get other people to pay for them across places like Montana.

    BruceMcF Reply:

    Not just that. You don’t need to run through cities with complete outer belts and tightly spaced exist to move nukes or troops in trucks either … a single bypass and a couple of exits on both sides to connect to the main boulevards through the city work just fine for that.

    All those urban exits and all those inner urban interstates are to support land speculation, not military needs.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    I did forget how we were all going to jump in the car when the air raid sirens went off and evacuate to the places the nukes weren’t raining down. Odd they never built a bridge to Antarctica because that would be about the only place they weren’t raining down. Evacuating needs urban entrances…

    BruceMcF Reply:

    But it needs controllable urban entrances ~ which the simple bypass expressway with entrances to extending to a small number of main boulevards provide.

    wu ming Reply:

    the inception of the project had different needs and reasons than the later aspects.

    PeakVT Reply:

    You can see a map of the LGVs and HSR1 overlaid on the United States here.

  11. Jian
    Nov 13th, 2010 at 19:32
    #11

    I keep seeing these comparisons of California and Spain, especially on this blog.

    One thing I have no personally seen, is a comparison on the cost of operating an automobile in California vs Spain.

    From what I understand about Europe in general, is that it costs much more to operate a car in Europe. Gas is heavily taxed. Registration/road taxes are very expensive. Cars themselves are more expensive.

    Even as gas prices are currently is $3 and some change for a gallon, yes, we complain that’s expensive, but when you come think about it, it’s still a bargain when you compare the cost to Europe, Japan, Hong Kong, or even Canada.

    I’d love to see an improvement to public transportation in the Bay Area and in California in general, but you’d need to see a lot more people willing to use their car less and you would need a good revenue source to help subsidize it: increase in fuel taxes, increase in car registration, and even possibly an extra tax for the purchase of new cars.

    Paulus Magnus Reply:

    According to the Department of Energy, France is 7.19 USD per gallon. 6.22 for diesel.

    http://www.eia.doe.gov/emeu/international/prices.html#Motor

    If this site can be trusted, Spain pays 6.11 USD per gallon, 3.21 for diesel.

    http://www.energy.eu/#prices

    Alon Levy Reply:

    The average fuel economy in France is 40+ mpg, twice as much as in the US.

    YesonHSR Reply:

    That why dumb ass AAAmerticass have 2 ton pick up trucks..

    Andre Peretti Reply:

    50+ mpg (with AC turned off) for cars like the Ford Fiesta or Renault Clio which are very popular in Europe. Cars emitting less than 120gr/km CO2 have an insurance bonus and up to €2000 off their listed price (government sponsored).
    If you don’t mind the 90km/h speed limit of free public roads, you can by-pass the private portions of the highway and do Lyon-Paris for €25 in less than 6 hours. With a car is shared by four persons, it’s really cheap and some people opt for that solution.
    Still, most prefer to spend more and have a 2-hour smooth ride on the TGV.
    This proves that arguments based on personal economics are not the right ones. Speed, punctuality, safety and lack of sress are certainly things Americans, too, are willing to pay for.

    Andre Peretti Reply:

    Sorry for mis-typing:
    with a car shared by four persons (no “is”)
    stress, not sress.

    Isaac Reply:

    Here in Spain the VAT was raised on July 1st from 16% to 18%, and that affected the fuel prices too.

    Now in the suburbs of Madrid is about 1.25 eur per litre of gasoline (6.6 $/gallon) and 1.20 eur per litre of diesel (6.3 $/gallon).

    BruceMcF Reply:

    Note the longer term time series, 1990-2009. France spends much of the 90′s between $3.40 and $4, Spain between $2.80 and $3.50 92 to ’03, the UK around $3 for the first half of the 90′s.

    Indeed, in countries with high gasoline excises, the percentage swing in price is smaller than in the US, where gas taxes don’t even cover the cost of road construction, let alone auto-related local policing and “free” parking by zoning mandate. So the US with its ultra-low gas taxes is more exposed to oil price shocks than European countries with their higher average gas taxes.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    Those numbers are not adjusted for inflation. When you adjust for inflation, the French gas price of the early 1990s becomes equivalent to about $5.50 per gallon today.

    What you say about exposure to oil shocks is correct, but what you’re missing is how exactly it operates. In countries with perennially high oil prices like France, people have learned to adjust their behavior and buy smaller, more fuel-efficient cars. They also drive them much less, though that’s not relevant for mode choice comparison.

    BruceMcF Reply:

    I was addressing the point that people who simply say that “they buy smaller, more fuel efficient cars because of high gas taxes” miss: the percentage increase in gas prices is smaller in the countries with a large excise component of their gas tax, so assuming that everyone has adjusted to the gas prices that they have been accustomed to, the family budget in the “cheap gas” countries take a much bigger hit from the same underlying increase in the price of crude oil than the family budget in the “expensive gas” countries.

    An oil price shock causes a bigger disruption to household budgets in low gas tax countries than in countries with high excise taxes.

    Robert Cruickshank Reply:

    I don’t know how often we’re going to have to shoot this false claim down, but I suspect it will be very often.

    Look, it’s not about the price of gas. It’s not the only factor in transportation choice. Gas in California is cheap compared to Europe, but our roads are overcrowded, so even if mass transit is sometimes more expensive and less flexible in terms of schedules and destinations, it often provides faster and more pleasant service because one can bypass the traffic jams. Otherwise Metrolink or BART wouldn’t have any riders.

    Further, when we’re talking about HSR, the price of gas becomes much less important because the choice isn’t so much between driving and the train as it is between driving and flying. The time savings between a train and a car to travel from SF to LA is enormous. In Spain, where the Madrid-Barcelona route was one of the busiest air routes in the world, the AVE train has grabbed over half the market share in just over 2 years.

    Sure, some might choose to drive instead of take a train, but the point is that people need the choice. Right now, they don’t have it. WAY too many people believe Californians are wedded to their cars, when in fact the better metaphor is that Californians had a shotgun wedding to those cars and have been denied the possibility of divorce.

    Paulus Magnus Reply:

    Simply some better advertisement might also increase ridership on already extant trains. Metrolink down in SoCal has free connections to a lot of local busses (which I took advantage of during jury duty, and was greatly amused to get there with time to spare while someone else was an hour late driving from the same place as my initial station). If they put that information alongside a list of appropriate bus connections from station to courthouse on every jury summons, to use that as an example, I suspect you’d get a decent sized increase in ridership, without any real cost increases.

    BruceMcF Reply:

    But remember that French HSR was a success in generating hefty operating surpluses under the dirty cheap crude oil prices of the mid-80′s through the 90′s. Our cost of driving now is less than their cost of driving now, and our cost of driving then was less than their cost of driving the, but our cost of driving now is at or above their cost of driving then.

    And thanks to Oil E. Coyote, we aren’t getting back to those prices unless we slash petroleum consumption dramatically.

    Andre Peretti Reply:

    That’s what I said in my reply to Alon. Cost of driving is not what puts French people on the TGV. People ride it because it’s just the best way to travel.

    wu ming Reply:

    gas is seriously subsidized in taiwan, but the HSR still blew air, driving, slow trains and long range buses out of the water within a few years of being built. it’s just a whole lot faster and more convenient.

    Johnathan Reply:

    I want to add that the vast majority of Taiwanese ride 50 c.c. lightweight bikes on freeways with dedicated motorcycle lanes, carrying up to 4 people, which makes driving dirt cheap.

    For the 360 km (225 mi.) distance, the $50 one-way high speed rail ticket price proves to be about 3 times more expensive when taking into account of the purchasing power parity difference. Yet, it made a profit in the driving dominated island and regional flight routes completely eliminated.

    1.5 hours travel time is simply unbeatable.

    wu ming Reply:

    on the highways, it’s a mix between passenger cars, long distance buses, giant gravel trucks and those little blue pick-up trucks hauling all manner of stuff. motorcycles aren’t allowed on the highways, they’re just in cities or on country roads, and noone in their right mind would ride a 125cc scooter solo, much less a 50cc one with family in tow, for a long distance trip.

    Johnathan Reply:

    My bad on the freeway part. They are only allowed on the local routes.

    noone in their right mind would ride a 125cc scooter solo, much less a 50cc one with family in tow, for a long distance trip.

    We took the commuter train for long distance trips, but I certainly remembered being on those for hours long rides. Even though it was the norm, I wouldn’t recommend it to anyone reading this blog today.

    Drunk Engineer Reply:

    I keep seeing these comparisons of California and Spain, especially on this blog. One thing I have no personally seen, is a comparison on the cost of operating an automobile in California vs Spain.

    The gigantic difference between California and Spain isn’t the density, or price of gasoline, but the cost of laying tracks. Spain has perhaps the lowest rail construction cost anywhere in Europe. If CHSRA were run with Spanish efficiency, we would be discussing a $10 billion project — a price at which even radical right conservatives would be in support.

    jimsf Reply:

    no they wouldn’t.

    Andre Peretti Reply:

    In sunshinestatenews.com:
    Saying they “can think of no better symbol of wasteful and unnecessary spending than passenger rail in all its forms,” 29 tea party and patriot groups are asking incoming Gov. Rick Scott to scrap rail projects in Florida.
    If you have that kind of patriots in California, you’re right. They wouldn’t even want it for free.

    Isaac Reply:

    Alone, the Madrid-Barcelona line has had a price tag of more than 7 billion € (about those 10 billion $) for 621 kilometres (388 miles).

    California’s proyect is double the lenght, with inflation added (i.e. Madrid-Seville price tag was less than half the Madrid-Barcelona one), and the average wage is bigger than in Spain.

    Isaac Reply:

    I meant “length”

    Alon Levy Reply:

    California’s project is marginally longer. We’re talking about just the starter line, at about 750 kilometers.

    The difference between Spain and California isn’t length. It’s mountain crossing severity.

    Richard Mlynarik Reply:

    The difference between Spain and California isn’t length. It’s mountain crossing severity.

    No the differences are the quality, intelligence and professionalism of agency staff (all pegged at zero, locally), and the degree to which the projects are vendor captured (100% locally) and designed to rewarded the promoting contractors rather than to serve the public interest. GIF designs in house, and parcels out construction to contractors who either build what the professional agency specifies to cost and budget, with the understanding there will be more where that came from if so, or who don’t work again.

    And if you look at the CHSRA(=PBQD) segment cost “projections”, mighty mountain range crossings hardly come into it, and certainly don’t stand out like sore thumbs compared to the rest of the outrageousness. (They’re pissing away tens of billions of your tax dollars on the most insane possible suburban designs in the SF and LA basins ahead of all else.)

    And as for Spain and tunnels, and the bizarre imputation that CHSR is any sort of civil engineering chellenge on that front: I simply have no idea what you’re smoking. WTF? Read it and weep. Then use teh googles to read the costs and get ready to slit your wrists. We are being robbed blind by outright criminal gangs doing business as engineering consultancies.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    Okay, so there are the Barcelona and Sabadell tunnels, plus a few shorter tunnels. These aren’t necessarily more complex than the Tehachapi Pass, with its seismic activity and much higher mountains.

    The suburban design in the LA Basin is insane on one side. LA-Anaheim needs to go, yes, or at least be restricted to shared track. I keep getting conflicting information on whether the plan is to share tracks south of LA (which would be okay) or build a suburban tunnel (which would make Diridon look like an angel). LA-Palmdale is okay; the main problem is LA County’s belief that Burbank doesn’t need any connecting transit.

    This leaves SJ-SF as the real problem section. There I have nothing to say – it could really be a Bay Area problem with cost. Or it could be ROW width issues or something else forcing costs up in a built-up area.

    Joey Reply:

    something else forcing costs up in a built-up area

    Like a new tunnel station under Millbrae? New deep tunnels under SF? Massively overbuilt suburban stations? Diridon Intergalactic? Designing for heavy freight compatibility?

    Alon Levy Reply:

    Maybe. The SF tunnels are necessary – they’re overbuilding them, but by a much smaller factor than the usual cost escalations in the area. The Millbrae tunnel was not originally part of the project, so the cost estimates exclude it, only including mildly useful tunneling.

    DIG might be it, though I doubt it accounts for more than a fraction of the full Bay Area cost blowout.

    Joey Reply:

    Necessary? They’re going to run 19 tph by their standards, 12 tph more realistically through that section with one intermediate stop, and you’re telling me they need 4 tracks to do so???

    Alon Levy Reply:

    Oh, you were talking about the southern SF tunnels. No, these are pointless. I was talking about the DTX tunnel, which is necessary (with 2 tracks only – 3 is stupid) if the intention is to get trains to serve the SF CBD.

    jimsf Reply:

    if you don’t build the tunnels where will trains go instead? I don’t see why they don’t follow the 280x on elevated.

    jimsf Reply:

    actually there should already be 4 tunnels here, only 2 in use, but there must be four total and two are probably sealed off. why not just re open them?

    Alon Levy Reply:

    South of the approaches to 4th and King, the existing infrastructure should be good enough.

    jimsf Reply:

    ah yes here it is, yes the entire original row from the county line north, is a four track row with 3 sets of twin two track tunnels, in two of the three tunnel sections you can see the row but the tunnels are sealed and long since covered over but here you can see both bores.

    Joey Reply:

    See this

    The entire line was constructed with two main tracks, although it should be noted that it was designed to accommodate up to four tracks throughout the entire line, with the exception of four of the five tunnels.

    Tunnel #2 (near the Food Bank) actually was built with two bores, though only one is in service today. You can still see the other one though.

    Joey Reply:

    if you don’t build the tunnels where will trains go instead? I don’t see why they don’t follow the 280x on elevated.

    There are two perfectly good existing tracks which will have to be electrified anyway and which can support any realistic service level of HSR+CalTrain given that there is only one (or two depending on how Mission Bay is designed) intermediate stops.

    jimsf Reply:

    well if you can get all the trains, hsr and caltrain, through the two track configuration, then don’t build the extras.

    jimsf Reply:

    at what speed will caltrain and hsr travel from the county line to 4th? 125 for both? oh but what about freight?

    jimsf Reply:

    oh yes here is where the freight line joins the caltrain row and goes into the first tunnel. Ill bet what will happen is the caltrain and freight will have to use the old tunnel and the hsr will get a tunnel of its own.

    Joey Reply:

    well if you can get all the trains, hsr and caltrain, through the two track configuration, then don’t build the extras.

    Exactly.

    at what speed will caltrain and hsr travel from the county line to 4th? 125 for both? oh but what about freight?

    I believe that time simulations showed the speed increasing steadily as you travel from downtown to Bayshore, reaching 125 somewhere before the county line.

    Freight isn’t an issue. It’s only run at night and will probably be time-separated anyway. The way they have designed it, all of the trains traveling to the TBT will use the new tunnels and all of the trains terminating at Mission Bay will use the old ones.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    well if you can get all the trains, hsr and caltrain, through the two track configuration, then don’t build the extras.

    NJTransit and Amtrak manage 23 an hour into and out of Penn Station during peak… Amtrak….. I’ve never had the patience to check all the schedules, rumor on the foamer boards is that during holiday peak periods there are 60 minute time frames where they manage 26 in those 60 minutes. Operators all over the world manage 20+ an hour. Unless automobiles are outlawed or San Mateo county becomes Queens there’s never going to be 20 trains an hour into San Francisco.

    J. Wong Reply:

    The proposed HSR plan is a completely separate tunnel from at least 16th street to Bayshore. The intention is to get 2 dedicated tracks for HSR. The problems with the existing ROW is that only one of the four existing tunnels has a 2nd bore (from 22nd St to Mississippi near Cesar Chavez). To add a 2nd bore on the Mariposa to 22nd Street tunnel would involve some property takings. Further south it’s easier to get a 4-track ROW.

    It seems reasonable to share with Caltrain and freight (south of Cesar Chavez; I don’t know how much operation is north).

    That said, it is only a proposed plan at this point. Maybe they’ll decide to start with a shared ROW especially if funding is difficult to come by.

    Isaac Reply:

    I think Drunk Engineer was refering to the costs of the whole system not the 1st leg, hence my analogy.

    And regarding the mountain crossing severity, I don’t know what is worse, the severity located in 2 points (Tehachapi and Pacheco/Altamont), or the continuous mountain terrain of Spain in the east (that afects going from Madrid to Barcelona or Valencia).

    Topography of California.
    Topography of Spain.

    Still, the closest place with HSR and similar terrain to California is Spain, we have even our own central valley in form of 2 separate central plateaus.

    Best.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    By the way, the average wage issue is irrelevant. Higher wages are in nearly perfect correlation with higher labor productivity. In lower-wage countries like China, HSR costs are if anything higher than in Europe: the workers get paid less, but you need more of them.

  12. SL
    Nov 14th, 2010 at 10:08
    #12

    OT: Quick question, do we know where the 100 Acre site for the Maintenance Facility is being proposed at SFO? I can’t seem to find any indication in any material. The Supplemental AA stated that SFO was out of favor because leases had just been renewed, so it’s not the open patch of land west of 101 which is stub-ended, as described. Furthermore, other than ONT, this will be the only major international airport connected to the line. Given the land constraints at SFO, will a maintenance facility help grow train/air light cargo shipping or hurt it?

  13. EXCEAR
    Nov 14th, 2010 at 10:49
    #13

    great post! high speed rail and urban transit systems are two very different things.

    Drunk Engineer Reply:

    No, they aren’t!

    (Unless you are a politically-connected contractor that wants to build duplicate infrastructure.)

    Alon Levy Reply:

    Sometimes, they are. You don’t want to build urban transit tunnels to HSR standards and vice versa.

  14. Emma
    Nov 14th, 2010 at 12:57
    #14

    “The Paris metropolitan area has a population of about 12 million. Los Angeles County alone has over 10 million people, and the surrounding SoCal counties bring the population to anywhere from 15 to 25 million, depending on how the region is defined.”

    While this is true, we cannot ignore that HSR ridership depends on the accessibility of public transit. Compared to Paris, or NYC, Los Angeles has a horrible public transit system. In Europe, there are several forms of public transit that “feed” the high speed rail system.
    E.g. in Germany you have (from short to long-distance)
    1. Taxis
    2. Light rail
    2. Buses
    3. Subway/Trolley
    4. S-Bahn (suburban metro railways)
    5. Regionalbahn (commuter rail)
    6. Regional-Express (commuter rail that stops only at major cities in the region)
    7. Intercity (long distance train)

    You will find this pattern in almost any city and I’m convinced that they are the main reason why HSR is such a success in Europe and Japan. We will have to expand those by 2020 or are otherwise in need of massive parking lots, next to high speed rail stations.

    jimsf Reply:

    Just curious, what type of parking does LAUS have right now anyway? I know there won’t be any parking at Transbay Terminal on this end. I think Millbrae already has a garage. I don’t know what San Jose plans, ( with bart and caltrain and hsr, Ill bet they will build a garage since there is room) The valley stations will have large parking lots most likely, Bakersfield will probably have a garage considering the proximity to their convention center. In socal, they may not need garages, but ARTIC would probably have one no?
    San Jose could probably get by without one though ( there is all that parking next door at sharks arena) knowing san jose though Ill bet they go and build one anyway.

    Paulus Magnus Reply:

    Wiki says 3,000 park and ride spaces costing $6 a day.

    Brandon from San Diego Reply:

    Correct… level at-grade and 3 levels below grade.

    jimsf Reply:

    6 bucks for a day! thats hella cheap wtf do you know it costs 20-30 bucks a day to park in a garage in downtown san francisco!

    Brandon from San Diego Reply:

    And, it is only 1-3 stops to the downtown offices. And, once the regional connector opens in the next 10 years, an addition 2-3 stops, including Bunker Hill… the place where the tallest skyscrapper is west of the Mississippi. …fwiw

    jimsf Reply:

    oh yeh I love that building. I think its the one where Gloria Estefan filmed a video on the roof.

    wu ming Reply:

    many of the cities with stations have some of those options right now, and in 2019, with the HSR project having been under construction for a decade, cities with stations will have a clear focal point to extend or build connecting transit around. it will vary by stop – some cities will be harder to retrofit than others, given existing development patterns – but i think a decade into the future we’ll be a lot closer to the european pattern than we are at the moment, if just because of the high and rising price of gas.

    Emma Reply:

    I really hope you are right.

    BruceMcF Reply:

    Yes, “While this is true, we cannot ignore that HSR ridership depends on the accessibility of public transit.“, in precisely the same way that air travel depends on the accessibility of public transit, since, after all, once cannot take one’s car with you on the plane.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    Yes, but:

    1. Airports are located away from city centers, where there’s less congestion, so they can get away with worse transit connections,

    2. Trains compete primarily with cars, not planes.

    jimsf Reply:

    I think hsr is going to need and would be wise to include, ample parking at stations if they want the highest ridership. Thats just how it is.

    BruceMcF Reply:

    But there is no need for a one-size-fits-all design: some stations are better suited to access by car than others. And, of course, if the mode split of local transport shifts, land devoted to parking at suburban stations is not likely to need to grow in proportion with the growth in ridership on the line.

    jimsf Reply:

    yes the right station and parking mix for the location. I tend to think though that other than TBT, all the stations are going to wind up with ample parking. Well, Im not that familiar with the lax-ana corridor and I don’t know what they have decided to do with burbank. but millbrae-bfd will have ample parking. Thats ok though. If it means people taking hsr, then who cares if they drive to the station. In a lot of places too, people are going to have friends drop them off so they’ll need a white zone. ( which, if you saw the original “airplane” movie, you know is “for the loading and unloading of passengers only”)

    jimsf Reply:

    if you haven’t seen it you must for white zone and red zone clarity.

    BruceMcF Reply:

    Trains aren’t planes, and don’t have the massive penalty for a stop that planes do, so the optimal rail corridor can incorporate both inner urban and suburban stations where planes are forced to design non-stop and few-stop routes because of the massive time cost of a stop.

    Andre Peretti Reply:

    The condition is that all transit agencies accept to work together even if they have different statutes and different unions, or are headed by politicians of opposing parties. If they could make it in Paris, there is no reason they couldn’t make it in LA.

  15. Nancy Thompson
    Nov 14th, 2010 at 14:59
    #15

    This is an interesting and far-ranging thread. But I agree most with the post that said California wil develop its own adaptation of HSR. Clearly the overall density to support such a system is present, and the form of the “public transit” that people take to the HSR will vary from place to place. Even if your significant other has to drive you 11 miles to the station, being able to hop on a train and arrive faster sure beats the exhaustion from driving in traffic and allows other work or leisure reading while traveling. Multi-tasking on HSR sure is safer than multi-tasking while driving!

  16. Brandon from San Diego
    Nov 14th, 2010 at 16:19
    #16

    California’s population is expected to be approximatley 60 million by 2050.

    California adds 400k to 700k a year… varying largely due to the economy and cost of living at the time. Approximately, 4-5 million are added each decade.

    The 2010 US Census will show approximately 38 million when figures become available in the next 1-2 years.

    The Valley, from Bakersfield to Sacramento is expected to have higher than average growth, whihc has been the case for several years already. So, those Red blobs on the link previously provided, will grow larger.

    I remember when I first became interested in California’s popuation. In 1980, the State was around 24 million. In 1990, about 28 or 29 million. In 2000, 33 million. In 2010, it will be 38 million (approximately). Whatever the number is, California’s population has grown more than 50% over the past 30 years!

    jimsf Reply:

    UGH!

    D. P. Lubic Reply:

    I’ve commented on this before, I would still be worried about it now–where are you going to get the water? Wu Ming commented on assorted conservation measures that will help quite a bit, but even they will have limits. There is also the question of just finding level (enough) ground, and I would start being worried about losing too much farmland to houses as well. We have that problem right here, in my section of West Virginia, where at least one apple processing plant (which once supplied up to 500 seasonal jobs) closed because the orchards it served got covered with ugly, poorly-built McMansions that are already showing signs of premature aging.

    Where are your water and food going to come from? They are kind of important, you know.

    jimsf Reply:

    Unfortunately there is no legal way to keep people out that I know of. All we can do is county on the nimbys to try to stop the growth. that is something they are good for. When you fly the length of the state, you see just how vast it is, with millions of acres of untouched land along the coast ranges, high desert, eastern sierra, and throughout the north. so there is room, but people don’t want to live there they want to squish in on top of everyone else and get in the way. I don’t mind using the growth arguments to support hsr, but really once its built, I want it to be for us, not the new people. We have to close the gate after that. I still think we should be charging an impact fee for people who want to relocated here. LIke 1000 per person for residency. That way is 100,000 people move to cali this year the state will raise 100 million to spend on mitigating their impact.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    Unfortunately there is no legal way to keep people out that I know of.

    A few more decades of Prop 13 and 2/3rds to pass budgets or new taxes should make California just like Alabama. That should discourage migration.

    jimsf Reply:

    whatever it takes.

    Peter Reply:

    What’s the point in trying to keep people out if the state is unlivable?

    jimsf Reply:

    Its just too crowded and more people are going to make it like the nec. and the nec is a dump. we can’t let that happen here because unlike the nec, california is a naturally beautiful place and must be protected. We honestly can’t take another 10-30 million. Unless you want to take them all down in San Bernadino and Kern counties where no one will have to see them.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    50 million people who live within 25 miles of the NEC can’t all be wrong. Get few blocks away from I-95 and in most places it’s green leafy suburb just like the Peninsula or East Bay but with maples and oaks instead of palms and eucalyptus. With decent bagels, good pizza and coffee that actually has some flavor.

    jimsf Reply:

    well yes, the food back there is amazing. Especially the good old fashioned bad for kind that you can’[t get out here. ( they have to california-ize everything around here) I see those places on food network, the pizza and the cheesesteaks and schnitzel and so forth. Ill give you that. But really outside of New England all Ive ever seen is the i-95 from orlando to boston and the whole thing…. all of it… was terrifying. Of course I saw it in 1979, so perhaps they have spruced it up.

    jimsf Reply:

    don’t you mean… kwoffee that has some flavah?

    Peter Reply:

    At least the maples and oaks don’t explode like fire bombs…

    Alon Levy Reply:

    Yeah, I-95 is boring. The interesting parts of the Northeast are the Hudson Highlands and the Palisades. (The Palisades should be viewed from the other side of the river, as they’re in Jersey.) The best views you can get while traveling on the Hudson Line, but I presume you can get good views driving on local waterfront highways as well.

    You even get a glimpse of that in Manhattan, where the Cloisters have a nice view of the water. It’s just that the rest of the island got paved over before anyone started to worry about conservation.

    Anthony Reply:

    Too crowded for what? If you build real rail options for the LA then you’ll get people out of their cars and into a subway car. Metro’s Purple Extension to the Sea (Santa Monica) will get untold millions out of their cars as many people work along Santa Monica Blvd, in Century City, Beverly Hills and Hollywood. Expanding services to downtown and if there’s ever any chance to get a subway into the San Fernando Valley that would allow people to leave their cars at home as well. We have overbuilt homes now, there plenty on the market. More apartment complexes and such will spring up as well, see Playa Del Rey…

    jimsf Reply:

    too crowded as in too many people everywhere you turn. to much burden on the parks and beaches, too many people in they at the grocery store. too much hills and valleys being paved over. too many people making quiet places no longer quiet, too many people on blocking the sidewalk.

    Paulus Magnus Reply:

    We’ve got a nice big ocean that we could hook up some reactors to for water if we can ever get the greens to accept that glowing green is at least as good as solar or wind. That’d be the cheapest and simplest way.

    Peter Reply:

    Because steam turbines run well on salt water.

    Paulus Magnus Reply:

    There’s no need or reason to use salt water as the coolant and it hasn’t been so used in any of the plants that have done it.

    Peter Reply:

    True.

    There are a number of new reactor designs that physically can’t explode. The main problem in CA is that there is a statute on the books prohibiting the construction of new nuclear reactors until a permanent repository is found for the waste.

    jimsf Reply:

    thus forcing us to have burned untold amounts of fossil fuels whos waste has been dumped directly into our environment. It was really a misguided decision.

    thatbruce Reply:

    The existing San Onofre Nucular Plant uses seawater for cooling. Lovely place, warm water, nearest (inactive) fault less than a mile away.

    Peter Reply:

    And the warm water discharged has actually affected the local ecosystem. Dilution is not the solution to pollution.

    jimsf Reply:

    I believe this one can actually be expanded to add reactors.

    Peter Reply:

    Many much safer nuclear reactor alternatives than building new boiling water reactors are available.

    jimsf Reply:

    well whichever type is preferred, its the only real way we are gonna get off oil and other fossil fuels. Wind and solar are good supplements but can never meet california’s needs.

    Even wind and solar have environmental drawbacks. Try putting a wind farm near a community. Hello nimbymania! Solar arrays are too expensive for the individual, and the farms take up a lot of space without much bang for the buck.

    We need to have
    80 percent nuclear
    20 precent wind and solar divided in such a way that there is a combination of wind farms where appropriate, solar supplemented homes and business where appropriate, solar farms ( mainly in the high desert and perhaps west valley.

    plus a big push towards electric vehicles and electric transit.

    Sort of the statewide 21st century version of the much ballyhooed 1950s all electric kitchen.

    If we go to a solid state ( do they even use that term anymore) all electric format and get that electricity from mainly nuclear. It would certainly have to put us way ahead of the curve in economics.
    We’d have a huge advantage AND, the best part .. 40 million californians giving a group middle finger to the Texas on you tube. ( itll be like hands across america only way more satisfying.) makes me all warm and tingly just thinking about it. speaking of, for those of you who don’t know what that was This is how america used to be compared to our attitude towards one another today. Sad isn’t it.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    Jim, you have read about the plan to blanket West Texas with windmills that would supply a good portion of Texas’ electricity…..

    jimsf Reply:

    I don’t care what they do in texas as long as their oil companies and all their other sleazy companies stay the hell out of california. You may not be familiar with they did to us a few years ago. The choice words I have for texas and texans can’t be repeated here. They can build windmills till the cows come home but the place will always be a sh%$#ole. Texas can suck it.

    Anthony Reply:

    We already get a ton of power from 3-4 Nuclear Power Stations. Expanding Home Solar Use , Bloom Boxes and other alternatives to fossil energy will also allow the population go grow. I wouldn’t worry so much because California’s Green Industry is more than ready to answer the call and if we’re smart will call on them early and often. The jobs created by going to more alternative choices for energy combined with smart grid, electric cars, plug-in hybrids, increasing fuel economy among IC powered car, rail, bus services and high speed rail, will push growth into high gear.

    jimsf Reply:

    We should have gone the french way a long time ago. As it is if it weren’t for diablo canyon we’d be in black outs every other day every summer.

    Anthony Reply:

    Water you said? More conservation tactics, maybe banning watering lawns with rebates to replace it with fake grass? Outside of that, desalination of Saltan Sea and Pacific Ocean are likely targets by the middle of this century. Which makes it more important than ever to install a state of the art public transportation system, including HSR, expanded subway, light rail and bus services in both the Bay and LA. Not to mention connecting HSR to San Diego, Orange County and Central Valley including the High Desert.

    Peter Reply:

    Maybe just rebates to replace it with native plants and grasses. As in ones that don’t require thousands of gallons of water wasted every year per lawn.

  17. susansanjuan
    Nov 14th, 2010 at 23:23
    #17

    Why does the author at Chapman assume that only “daily” air travelers would use HSR? She doesn’t justify that at all. I assume it’s so that she can say that the energy saving would only be 2.5%.

  18. jimsf
    Nov 14th, 2010 at 23:46
    #18

    San Francisco, officially the City and County of San Francisco, is the fourth most populous city in California and the 12th most populous city in the United States, with a 2009 estimated population of 815,358.[9] The only consolidated city-county in California,[11] it encompasses a land area of 46.7 square miles (121 km2)[12] on the northern end of the San Francisco Peninsula, giving it a density of 17,323 people/mi² (6,688.4 people/km²). It is the most densely settled large city (population greater than 200,000) in the state of California and the second-most densely populated large city in the United States.[13] San Francisco is the financial, cultural, and transportation center of the San Francisco Bay Area, a region of more than 7.4 million people.[14]

    jimsf Reply:

    nyc 26k psm sf 17kpsm (quite enough thank you) Cali’s top ten cities should be required to match our density before we accept any further densification and deterioration here. Once they do their part we can discuss terms.

    brandon from San Diego Reply:

    Agreed, but also wishful thinking.

    jimsf Reply:

    Wow San Diego is only 4000psm You guys better get work! ;-)

  19. Anthony
    Nov 17th, 2010 at 13:58
    #19

    I don’t care either as long as we keep these voices of so-called common sense and decent in check. Chapman College’s Professor has come out against many social programs in the past as well, this rhetoric should stop at the University PR dept and no further.

    The current route of HSR makes plenty of sense. I also agree other bus/rail projects such as 30 in 10 will connect to HSR Terminals in the LA basin (Downtown LA and Burbank).

    Speaking of the Central Valley, it would be possible to live in the Central Valley and still have fast, reliable transportation back into either Los Angeles or the Bay Area to work. In fact this is what I have started to target myself. I love LA however home prices are not reasonable at all and having HSR and 21st Century Rail would allow more options.

    The people that don’t like it and didn’t vote for it can not use it, which they will be the minority anyway.

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