Saturday Open Thread – Caltrain Edition

Jan 29th, 2011 | Posted by

An open thread for this last Saturday in January. I’m unable to attend the Friends of Caltrain summit in San Carlos today, but already I’ve heard via Eric of Transbay Blog that Congresswoman Jackie Speier has committed to being “front and center” in supporting a dedicated Caltrain tax.

As I’ve written before, that’s probably the best solution, but neither is it easy. If it’s a tax on San Mateo County alone, will that bring in enough revenue? Is it fair for SF and Santa Clara counties to not have to pay in too, given that they benefit from the service? On the other hand, if SF and Santa Clara had to be part of a tax, would voters there approve a Caltrain-only tax without something for Muni and VTA too, who could both use the money?

That’s not to suggest that Speier is wrong here. But there are details that have to be worked out, and I hope today’s summit gets us there. Use this as an open thread on the Caltrain meeting, on Caltrain more broadly, or on whatever HSR-related matters strike your interest today.

  1. Jacob Wang
    Jan 29th, 2011 at 11:03
    #1

    What about a charge on tickets? Or certain methods of purchasing them?

  2. njudah
    Jan 29th, 2011 at 11:50
    #2

    It’s amazing how in their zeal to destroy HSR, the Peninsula may end up killing Caltrain too. A dead Caltrain would increase traffic and pollution. Also: imagine the shitstorm at a Giants game when all the people who used to take the train drive. the laws of physics come into play – there is not, and never will be enough room for all those cars , and no , we are not building parking garages on land that’s being used to build UCSF and million dollar condos.

    Just another example of how the wealthy NIMBYs are intent on making us LA north. Oh wait, LA is actually finally building rail, etc and trying to reduce car trips.

    J. Wong Reply:

    They’re not trying to make us LA north although that would be consequence if they succeed in destroying HSR. (They’re trying to hew to a fantasy of a bucolic past, which is long gone.)

    It’s similar with the Republicans: They’re not trying to turn the U.S.A. into a 3rd world country, but that would be the consequence of their policies in the end.

    Brandon from San Diego Reply:

    Instead of LA, perhaps folks should begin referring to Orange County? That is a very car-dependant place. Friggin fugly too. They seem intent on building 20 lane freeways!

    joe Reply:

    Destroying pubic transit infrastructure is a strategy. It’s based on a narrow view that the towns along 101 are elite commuting neighborhoods with privileged access to local jobs. That drives up property values.

    If they ruin Caltrain and block HSR, local employers will struggle to attract young talent. They’ll need to pay more to attract talent competitively, and those workers will have to commute long hours by car.

    They’ll both eventually look and leave for better sites/jobs near infrastructure – maybe near San Jose or out of state. These elite towns will find their property values correcting downward for the lack of transportation infrastructure.

    Elizabeth Reply:

    What basis do you have for this statement?

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    Which of his statements? The one about inadequate transportation leading to decline has been playing out in many places over the centuries.

    Elizabeth Reply:

    The one that says our poor investment strategy in public transit is an evil plot by Palo Altans who want more people to move to town for their Facebook jobs so that property prices will go even more through the roof.

    jimsf Reply:

    Its one thing for for people in a town to interfere with what goes on locally. NImbys deciding architectural styles, hieght limits and land use and so forth but quite another for a small group do dictate things to the the state at the expense of everyone and the state’s future and economy. If it weren’t for this small bunch of selfish people who are concerned about nothing but their precious property values and ideology, both hsr and caltrain would be moving forward with some kind of plan and future, even if not a perfect plan, at least things could be worked out. Instead these people threaten the future of public transport in the region and state. They are spoiled and they have for too long gotten used to having everything they want living in a bubble that tells them the world revolves around them. They don’t give a rat’s ass about the consequences.

    Elizabeth Reply:

    It may make everyone feel good to have created this great big boogeyman called residents AKA nimbys that can be blamed for really bad planning and execution, but it is not helping anything and just serves to excuse serious deficiencies in our ability to make good decisions.

    There many very valid points in the smart growth movement, but at this point, it has been so thoroughly co-opted by the developers, that many environmentalists are inadvertently working to actually further sprawling growth, albeit with front porches.

    jimsf Reply:

    None of what you said has anything to do with the nibmys of pampa creating insurmountable delay. They are making the situtaion worse not better. And that was their goal. To make it worse. They aren’t concerned with statewide sprawl or good planning or anything other issue. They are concerned about keeping the train out of their sights. period.

    Robert Cruickshank Reply:

    Smart growth ≠ sprawl. But for that strategy to work, existing urban areas must grow denser, especially along areas where there is mass transit infrastructure to help that happen.

    There is very much a “don’t make any changes to our community at all” attitude among some on the Peninsula. It also exists in other cities in California, so it’s not *just* the Peninsula. But the situation seems worse there, as Caltrain’s existence fuels more demand for greater density. The Peninsula public wants that density, just as they want HSR, but have been systematically shouted down (often literally) by the small group of people who somehow believe that the normal process of change in built environments can and should be stopped in their communities, even though the communities they claim to be defending looked totally differently just 50 or 60 years ago.

    Drunk Engineer Reply:

    On the contrary. Palo Alto rejected CHSRA proposal for a high-speed station precisely because of the absurd automobile parking requirements, opting instead to use that land for long-planned infill development.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    people who are concerned about nothing but their precious property values

    But fast clean trains make property values higher. Even slow dirty trains, the ones that created the suburbs on the Peninsula, made property values higher.

    jimsf Reply:

    Thats what they don’t seem to get. They have a different kind of thinking that says “hsr trains will not only be huge loud ugly unfamiliar menaces, but they will open the door allowing access to our community and scary outsiders will move in and change stuff.” I know this thinking because many of us in sf think that way too. And I know that this is the real reason despite all the claims of being concerned about the state doing things right, because here in sf, all the same kinds of arguments are used when necessary to block something. In defense of san franciscans though I will say they are more likely to be honest about their motives “keep your grubby outsider paws off our town” is not something anyone here bothers trying to hide. Id respect the nimbys more if they’d just be honest. ” we think are better and we don’t want other people coming here and messing up our stuff” THATS what they are really concerned about after all. Just admit it.

    Robert Cruickshank Reply:

    That’s correct. But the NIMBYs are too deeply entrenched in a 20th century mentality that says trains = blight. Despite the fact that the Peninsula has thrived next to a loud, active railroad for 150 years.

    Arthur Dent Reply:

    Define ‘trains’. Are we talking train yards, tracks, or stations? One would expect a different answer for each. Anyone who gives the same answer for all three is an extremist.

    jimsf Reply:

    trains as in, yards tracks and stations and as well as in “public transportation” all of which represent to certain types of communities, an open invitation to unwanted elements ranging from noise and visual blight to homeless sleeping under viaducts to easy access for people from “bad neighborhoods” to come in to commit crime. It all gets lumped together. In the bay area, in places such as the inner east bay, the population of the 70s left, and moved further out to the far east bay and the north bay, as the neighbohood demographics changed. In certain areas such as the peninsula, where the location is simply too good to give up, instead of moving out they circled the wagons.

    Alan Reply:

    Train=”One or more engines, with or without cars, displaying signals.”

    Arthur Dent Reply:

    Let me spell it out. Robert talked about a mentality that says trains = blight. The term is too vague. If by ‘trains’ you mean train yards then, yeah, most train yards are not in the best part of town. If by ‘trains’ you mean stations, blight is not likely to follow; stations can be vibrant areas. If by ‘trains’ you mean the tracks between the stations, vibrancy is not a likely result. Between the two ends of the vibrancy-blight spectrum, tracks are usually on the blighted side, although defining the degree of blight is in the eye of the beholder.

    The point being that anyone who sees immanent blight – or vibrancy – resulting from all three is biased.

    There tends to be a knee-jerk reaction that if ‘trains = blight’ is wrong, then ‘trains != blight’ must be right. Just pointing out that there’s plenty of bias and faulty logic blame to go around.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    The faulty logic is that fast electric trains create blight. Especially when they are replacing diesels. Happens the world over.

    Arthur Dent Reply:

    The faulty logic I’m referring to is that if “fast electric trains create blight” is a false statement, then “fast electric trains do not create blight” must be true. Neither is entirely accurate, and anyone who clings to one statement or the other is either ill-informed or biased.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    Where have they created blight?

    Nathanael Reply:

    Fast electric trains do not create blight. Ever. Seriously, try to find an example — there aren’t any. They can occasionally sever neighboorhoods, and they can create industrial districts (very clean ones by industrial standards), but I can’t think of an example of them “creating blight”.

    synonymouse Reply:

    Fast electric trains are not the problem. Aerial structures are the problem, especially in
    California. It is warm, dry and crowded. People are outside all the time. Anecdotally it
    seems to me that sounds here are louder and travel farther than back East where the residents are hunkered down inside a good part of the year. We have a lot more bums and aerials attract them. PB wants to create more designated shitholes and only a moron would want more of that.

    Elizabeth Reply:

    The problem that Caltrain is currently facing is that Samtrans is out of money. One of the major factors for the deficit is the ill-fated Bart to SFO project. This long predates anything that has been going on in the Peninsula in the last couple of years. If you want to help, show up, get educated and help. Otherwise pointing fingers at people who don’t deserve it.

    Spokker Reply:

    Palo Alto residents should put up a sign. “Welcome to Palo Alto: Now Go Away”

    synonymouse Reply:

    That is not the case at all. PA is one of the most tourist oriented towns on the Peninsula and has always been that way. The locals just want it to remain in good order, especially against the backdrop of spreading urban decay and rising crime rates throughout the Bay Area. San Jose in particular, home to growth mongers and “aerialists”, has experience a dramatic jump in murders.

    Giuliani demonstrated that a “tight ship” approach, however illogical and unappetizing, does produce civic improvement. This same principle applies to the physical urban environment. The more pleasant the ambiance the greater the civility, grosso modo. Noise is well proven to be highly stressful, a fact lost to the wunderkinder at PB. Lose the aerials.

    Peter Reply:

    “San Jose in particular, home to growth mongers and “aerialists”, has experience a dramatic jump in murders.”

    Excuse me, but what does the fact that San Jose experienced a completely random spate of murders (3 of which were part of the same event) have anything to do with the decision to build aerials?

    In fact, with 20 murders 2010, the year when they decided to go with the aerial alignment, was San Jose’s lowest year since 1989, having hovered in the high-20s and low-30s for the past few years. 2011 will probably simply be the same as the last few years, with 2010 being seen as the anomaly.

    Random series of events are just that, random. But that won’t convince conspiracy theorists, who can conjure up links from anywhere.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    No doubt it was all a nefarious plot planned by the coven Nancy Pelosi convenes during the full moon.

    James Fujita Reply:

    maybe “aerialists” has some other connotation I’m not familiar with?

    “aerialists in da hizouse, yo”

  3. Peter
    Jan 29th, 2011 at 16:53
    #3

    OT: A passenger train, the Harz-Berlin-Express (operated by Veolia) just collided with a freight train in Germany near Oschersleben. Last count at least ten dead. No further details yet.

    Peter Reply:

    Link from yahoo news.

    Joey Reply:

    It’ll be interesting to see what the cause of it is, but to everyone – let’s not draw any conclusions until we have more information, okay?

    Brandon from San Diego Reply:

    No, I will draw a conclusion… one that I have always had… don’t allow HSR and non-compliant trains to run on the same tracks… NEVER! And you will not have an opportunity for something like this. Just don’t do it. It is not a matter of IF, but one of WHEN.

    Secondly, don’t allow multiple companies to operate on the same line; only one should be permitted. Temporal separation ok if the whole line is turned over to one or the other.

    Thirdly, one Operations Control Center governing all operations along a line and network. No one allowed to their own devices.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    The safest way to run train is “one engine under steam” They could build a multi-track system in California, then no train would have to share a track with any other train….

    Alon Levy Reply:

    The Japanese live perfectly happily with companies having trackage rights on each other’s lines, and with none of the compliance crap foisted by the FRA. The main method of preventing accidents is a well-trained staff, but on the busier lines and all Shinkansen lines there’s an ATC system, which prevents the operator from driving unsafely fast.

    swing hanger Reply:

    Just to add, those trackage rights also enabled by having compatible equipment that is capable on running on different lines (including signaling systems i.e. ATS/ATC switchability), as well as crew changes- though the train may be coming off a different railway, the driver will be an employee of the railway the train is running on. Of course all this encourages railways to have similar (or identical) rolling stock designs.

    Alai Reply:

    For whatever it’s worth, this train wasn’t a high speed train.

    Spokker Reply:

    It was aliens.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    I’m going to be an asshole and suggest we compute Veolia’s death rate per billion passenger-km. With this and Chatsworth, it has to be the world leader. It’s plausible but unlikely that it might even be less safe than the safest road network.

    Nathanael Reply:

    The moral here is Don’t Hire Veolia. Chatsworth is not even the first, they had a bad accident record *before* that.

    swing hanger Reply:

    Apparently the freight train was also operated by a private company. Seeing Veolia’s name, I must say I’m not too surprised…For those interested, the passenger train was an Alstom Coradia LINT diesel railcar (called the class 648 in Germany).

    Andre Peretti Reply:

    LINT stands for “Leichter Innovativer Nahverkehrstriebwagen” (light innovative rail vehicle). These trains were designed by Linke-Hofmann-Busch (LHB) and are built in Salzgitter, Germany. LHB has been bought up by Alstom but has remained 100% German as far as design and construction are concerned. This is the unwritten condition for selling trains in Germany.
    The LINT are more like diesel trams than trains and I’m surprised they can share single tracks with freight with no time separation. You don’t expect that in Western Europe.
    As for Veolia and German freight companies, SNCF unions have tried (and failed) to keep them out of the French rail network. They say those companies hire underpaid undertrained staff and skimp on maintenance and medical checkups for their drivers. They have made a list of near-collisions involving those companies. Now, unfortunately, they can add a real deadly collision to their list.

    wu ming Reply:

    10 dead and 40 wounded for a major accident? that sucks for the people involved, but auto accidents far exceed that many times over and noone seems to get exercised about it.

    StevieB Reply:

    The leading cause of death in the United States for people under 39 is automobile collisions. They are such a common occurance that the public is desensitized to the deaths. The infrequent train wreck however makes international news.

    Andre Peretti Reply:

    It’s the leading cause of death in all “civilised” countries.
    People who are apprehensive about flying don’t realise the most dangerous part of their trip is driving to the airport. They should instead feel relieved once they’ve made it to their plane.
    As regards trains, even “infrequent” is unacceptable. Existing technology makes it possible to avoid accidents. When one happens, it means someone somewhere did something wrong. The someone in question is not necessarily a driver. It may be a manager who just brought cost cutting a bit too far.

    Peter Reply:

    Hell, I think the death toll would have been a lot higher if the accident hadn’t happened late in the evening on a Saturday. The fact that it happened at all is a big warning sign. This might be for Germany what Chatsworth was for us: PTC should be required for all tracks used by passenger rail.

    YesonHSR Reply:

    over 30,000 in the US a year!! AND where is the outrage??

    Mad Park Reply:

    http://www.spiegel.de/international/germany/0,1518,742869,00.html#ref=nlint

    Joey Reply:

    So no PTC…

  4. Alon Levy
    Jan 29th, 2011 at 18:04
    #4

    Robert, pretty much every thread nowadays is Caltrain edition.

    YesonHSR Reply:

    Robert is mentioned in a Boston.com article about HSR!!

    Robert Cruickshank Reply:

    Link?

    Donk Reply:

    Yep, there is more stuff about Caltrain than Metrolink, ACE, Coaster, Surfliner, San Juaquins, and Capitol combined. Come to think of it, I don’t ever recall seeing a post about Metrolink, ACE, or Coaster. Either the Caltrain route is supposedly more important to our state or there is just no relevant news about those routes.

    Nathanael Reply:

    Well, ACE and Capitol Corridor will only share right-of-way with Phase I HSR from Santa Clara to San Jose, Surfliner only at LA Union Station and on the northern Metrolink segment, and Coaster won’t share at all.

    The San Joaquins have been discussed; they deserve more discussion, as San Joaquins-HSR integration is going to be pretty important in the early years.

    Metrolink is going to have major shared ROW (though plans currently indicate no shared track) — as many changes as Caltrain will. A total rebuild of most of the Antelope Valley line from Union Station until it starts crossing the mountains to the east, as well as the difficult route to Anaheim. And both *will* involve significant property takings to widen and straighten the line, unlike Caltrain.

    But apparently the northern LA area simply doesn’t have the NIMBYs. (Anaheim sure does, and we’ve read about it.) Perhaps we should get out ahead and discuss context-sensitive design in the San Fernando Valley and by the LA River, though?

    I think the fact of Caltrain going bust is generating more news about it than about the stably-funded Metrolink, actually.

    Peter Reply:

    What do you mean, no shared tracks for Metrolink. Isn’t that what the Consolidate Shared Track Alternative for LA-Anaheim is all about?

    Joey Reply:

    I think he was talking about Sylmar-LA.

    Nathanael Reply:

    Um, yes. And where did I say no shared tracks for Metrolink? I can’t find that anywhere in my message. I said no shared tracks for *Coaster*.

    Peter Reply:

    Bleh, sorry my reading comprehension is lagging today, my apologies.

    Spokker Reply:

    I’m surprised how stable Metrolink is right now, unless there is something they aren’t telling us.

    The latest cuts were surprisingly restrained and Orange County is actually in the process of adding capacity for more service. I don’t know when that is going to start.

    Metrolink recently experimented with holiday trains that did very well.

    Matthew Reply:

    I was complaining about this a few months ago. Robert’s from the (Monterey) Bay Area and seems to have some geographic blinders on. Maybe it’s time to have some guest writers from other parts of the state? I appreciate all the work that Robert’s done, but this does seem a bit like the Caltrain/PAMPA blog at times. It could be that articles about other parts of the state don’t get as many comments, but that’s probably because (i) there aren’t very many of those articles so there aren’t as many people looking for them and (ii) every Caltrain/PAMPA article gets the same cast of characters making the same tired comments over and over again.

    Michael Reply:

    Write one and see if he’ll run it. Robert makes the effort to run this blog and write stories for it. It’s tougher than just making comments about what’s been written. Having been involved in advocacy groups for a long while, one burns out when one’s colleagues make suggestions but don’t offer to take on the burden of carrying out any part of the suggestion.

    If Southern California is under represented, someone with knowledge of the issues there needs to step up and offer to guest write about them. The folks at the Transit Coalition have a great weekly newsletter and discussion boards AND they’re Southern California based. See if their site offers more of the stories and commentary you’re looking for.

    http://www.thetransitcoalition.us/nationaltc/index.html

    jimsf Reply:

    As bay area resident I wouldn’t mind knowing more about the socal issues. So far we’ve heard a lot on the anaheim leg and a touch of san gabriel valley. And union station is being covered. ( hmm maybe there has actually been quite a bit on socal posted here).
    The real news will be when construction begins in the central valley, then there will be tangible stuff to follow. Id love some posts on the stations and plans of the central valley cities in detail.
    Maybe a guest writer from fresno development agency or something like that?

    datacruncher Reply:

    The LATimes mentioned a week ago that Fresno has hired 2 of the leaders of the “New Urbanism” movement, Stefanos Polyzoides and his wife Elizabeth Moule, to work on new downtown plans covering its Fulton Mall and the 7,000 acres around the HSR station in Fresno.
    http://www.latimes.com/business/la-fi-himi-polyzoides-20110123,0,29943.story

    It might be interesting to hear from them or Fresno’s so-called downtown “czar” Craig Scharton about some of the plans.

    Robert Cruickshank Reply:

    Guest writers are ALWAYS welcome. Send a post to my last name at gmail and I’ll run it.

    As to the focus of the blog, in the last 2-3 months I’ve actually not written about the Peninsula as often as before. For a while there it was almost all Central Valley all the time.

    Elizabeth Reply:

    Robert seems amenable to guest posts from anyone in the know about a specific relevant subject. I am quite confident that if anyone came forward with some geographic specific posts, he would welcome the content.

    Robert Cruickshank Reply:

    Yep. Hell, I’d consider a guest post from you, if you had something in mind.

    Elizabeth Reply:

    Okay people, see how low the standard is. Get off your butt and write something if you want your neck of the woods to get some attention.

  5. Brandon from San Diego
    Jan 29th, 2011 at 18:15
    #5

    btw, that train may be more like a DMU operation. Not an HSR. ???

    Peter Reply:

    If you’re referring to the accident in Germany, I can’t tell right now whether it was a DMU. One news report states that a “Personentriebwagen” was involved, so I presume yes.

    Mike from Salt Lake City Reply:

    The accident in Germany was a colision between a freight trail and a DMU. It was an Alstom LINT, which is a light DMU similar to the Siemens Desiro or the Bombardier Talent. The DMU was part of the Harz Elbe Express and was operated by Veolia.

  6. PeakVT
    Jan 29th, 2011 at 18:59
    #6

    Oregon railroad map. IIRC, thatbruce asked me to do one. I’m not sure if he saw the link last time I posted it. I also did a similar map for California a while back. And I’ve made a California HSR map of course.

    Robert – it would be great if you could add code buttons and a 5 minute edit window to the blog at some point. You can see both in action at Balloon Juice.

    PeakVT Reply:

    And there’s a fresh example of why the edit feature would be great to have. Originally, there was a sentence before the first link. But it’s gone for some reason and I can’t add it in now.

    thatbruce Reply:

    I did see the link originally, and I thank you for getting that information in a more usable form (the request for Oregon was intended to illustrate the thread at the time). Not sure whether I asked before, but are those maps the results of tracing atop features in Google Earth or built up from TIGER inputs?

    Nathanael Reply:

    Maps are not working for me.

    PeakVT Reply:

    GMaps can be buggy. Hit CTRL+SHFT+R until the content appears.

    Nathanael Reply:

    Just not getting your annotations, period. Doesn’t matter how many times I reload. Have you checked your links under a recent version of Firefox? Just not working.

    Matthew Reply:

    I had to zoom in before they would show up.

    Nathanael Reply:

    Ooh, I’ll try that.

    PeakVT Reply:

    I use Firefox and clicking on the links brings them up for me. Clicking on items that I’ve added pops up a balloon with the accompanying text. Clicking in the list on the left side brings up the balloons as well. The HSR map is crowded, so on that one you will have to zoom in before some items can be clicked on.

    Beyond entering the data, I don’t control anything to do with the service.

    Jon Reply:

    Neat map- thanks!

    Nathanael Reply:

    Tried again, I’m not even getting the list of annotations on the left side of the page.

    Brandon from San Diego Reply:

    that is pretty cool, but what is the source of the data? I see that a line is in Chico California and along The Esplanade. There once was a line there, but it was removed in the mid 1980’s.

    PeakVT Reply:

    Red is for abandoned lines.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    Speaking of, has anyone made any attempt at completing the Shasta Route proposal, from Ashland to Eugene?

  7. StevieB
    Jan 30th, 2011 at 02:42
    #7

    The Republican Study Committee, a caucus of 175 House Republican conservatives, wants to completely de-fund Amtrak and high-speed rail. Caucus chairman Jim Jordan of Ohio asked in 2009, “Why should we subsidize an industry that will directly compete with the automobile industry, which is so critical to our area?’’

    This from the Boston Globe article Blocking high-speed rail. Too many are entrenched in the post war car culture to easily give any of it up.

    Donk Reply:

    I like John Kerry’s idea:

    “Undeterred by such sentiments and the new Republican majority in the House, Massachusetts Senator John Kerry plans to file legislation in the next few weeks that would boost high-speed rail even more. His general plan calls for the development of a national high-speed railway system with spokes radiating up and down both coasts and across to the Midwest, Southeast, and Southwest. The legislation would provide for up to $20 billion in competitive grant funding for projects that deliver train speeds of at least 110 miles per hour and incentives and preferences for projects that can deliver speeds above that.”

    tony d. Reply:

    Maybe we could sell national HSR as a troop/logistic transportation system in the event our country is invaded or the Third World War breaks out.
    Republicans are bound to support HSR under this scenario.

    YesonHSR Reply:

    He had a similar bill proposed right after the 2008 election

    Donk Reply:

    BTW, how do you create those light blue quote boxes?

    Joey Reply:

    blockquote tags

    Donk Reply:

    I don’t know what that means.

    Paulus Magnus Reply:

    ]blockquote[
    Text goes here
    ]/blockquote[

    Just make sure to turn those brackets around when you do it.

    Joey Reply:

    They’re actually tags, not []

    Joey Reply:

    Aw shit that was supposed to be > pointy < things

    YesonHSR Reply:

    Like anyone will be forced to give up there car because we have HSR…those poor Germans with no cars! what a stupid statment..if anything we subsidize them with the cheap gas tax.this is the exact misinformation spread by these people that needs rebuted loud and clear

  8. djconnel
    Jan 30th, 2011 at 06:10
    #8

    Two words: gas tax.

    jimsf Reply:

    The defense budget defensebudget is 738 billion for one year, of that, 317 billion is operatons and maintenance ( the current wars and infrastructure) There’s another 134 billion – for one freakin years worth – of procurement. Surely, somewhere in there, there is room to cut a measly few billion to spend here at home on infrastructure.

    Meanwhile, we have got to move the interstate system, if not the whole state highway system, towards being at least as self sustaining as the air and rail systems ( in terms of “farebox recovery” )

    The east and midwest, even texas, have been using tollroads / turnpikes etc for decades and now with that implementaion of fastrak statewide, on bridges and hot lanes, it would be easy enough to do.

    Personally i think that each highway should be done separately. Money collected on the golden state would be reinvested in that freeway. Money collected on the 405 would go directly back into that freeway. No mixing of monies. That way each road and its regular users(payers) is sure they get their money’s worth in reinvestment in road quality. If the 405 were to take in more than it needed to keep itself in good repair, the tolls would be lowered for the duration until such monies were used up. Meanwhile if another road wasn’t able to stay in good repair with the tolls collected, that roads users would need to cough up more in tolls until the situation was remedies. This would be a free market approach in essence. People may choose the 710 instead of the 110 because its better kept for instance. It would almost create a competition between highways based on quality and speed improvements.

    BruceMcF Reply:

    Making the interstates closer to self-supporting ~ granted that its far under 50% in terms of gas taxes on gasoline consumed on the interstate ~ would seem to require getting a much greater share of long haul freight from trucks onto rail, since truck ton-miles do so much damage relative to the revenue that they generate. Electrified rail tollways with 60mph heavy container freight and 100mph rapid container freight paths with the railways paying access and user fees would, even with government interest subsidy on the capital costs until the original capital cost has been recouped, would be a much smaller subsidy …

    … and of course would offer the Department of Defense both material and personnel logistical support capacity in the face of a breakdown of access to petroleum supplies.

    YesonHSR Reply:

    That’s a great chart by the New York Times .. excellent example of where we spend our money almost all of it on defense and Social Security and Medicare.. every teabag or right-wing Republicans should be made to look at this and tell us how much we are going to cut from those sections for a balanced budget. Did notice in one of the defense budget items that 20 billion will be spent next year on military construction?? What the hell is that … and its 19 billion more in what were going to spend on high speed rail.

    jimsf Reply:

    I go back to that chart again and again because its so easy to see where the money is/goes. Now to my knowledge that was to represent the proposed 2011 budget. I don’t where we actually stand at this moment. Has the budget for 2011 been passed? When do they do that? ( I know that in california the tend to do the, say, 2011 budget, sometime in or around, 2013 ish, but thats just us think)

  9. Alex M.
    Jan 30th, 2011 at 22:03
    #9

    “Why should we subsidize an industry that will directly compete with the automobile industry, which is so critical to our area?’’

    I almost spit my soda all over my screen when I read that.

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