If At First You Sue and Don’t Win, Try and Try Again

Aug 12th, 2011 | Posted by

Three years after filing a frivolous lawsuit against the California High Speed Rail Authority, two years after they largely lost that case, and one year after they failed to get it reopened, a group of Peninsula cities are once again in court to block the project. The same judge, Michael Kenny of Sacramento Superior Court, is hearing the case:

Lawyers for the group asked Sacramento County Superior Court Judge Michael Kenny to block the California High-Speed Rail Authority from proceeding with a route between San Francisco and the Central Valley. They say planners made flawed estimates of ridership and ignored traffic problems and other possible impacts.

I fully expect Kenny to reject these claims as he rejected the vast majority of their claims in 2009. In fact, if that was all that went on I probably wouldn’t even write about it. But this following quote from Stuart Flashman that appeared in the Mercury News article was too absurd to leave without comment:

“There will be congestion on highways south of San Jose that people won’t be aware of, and they should have been made aware,” said Stuart Flashman, attorney for the coalition.

Is he serious? I am guessing Stuart has never actually been on a highway south of San José. If he had, he would know that there is already a huge amount of congestion on those routes, particularly Highway 101 to and from Monterey.

Stuart and anyone else who thinks there isn’t already a major traffic problem down there should get up tomorrow morning around 9 AM and drive from the Bay Area to Monterey. From the 101/880 interchange in San José it should take you about 1 hour and 15 minutes to get to Cannery Row. On a Saturday heading south it will take between 2 and 2.5 hours. On a Sunday afternoon heading north it can take as many as 3.

HSR can help resolve those traffic problems. The Transportation Agency of Monterey County has plans to connect Monterey and Salinas to the Gilroy HSR station with rail, enabling visitors and residents alike to get to and from Monterey County without having to clog up Highway 101. HSR can help people get to their destinations around the state. Sure, some people will still drive, but they’ll find much less traffic.

Flashman might also be talking about traffic in south Santa Clara County. Here again he shows his ignorance – rush hour traffic on 101 between San José and Gilroy is already pretty bad. HSR could help reduce some of that traffic by giving people a commute option for Gilroy – and improved Caltrain service can help shoulder even more of the load. Robust transit service can support transit-oriented development, reducing traffic impacts even further.

If that’s what the HSR deniers are reduced to arguing in their attempts to derail the project, they’re even more desperate than I imagined.

  1. Paulus Magnus
    Aug 12th, 2011 at 22:47
    #1

    Am I reading that quote correct in that they are claiming that the Authority managed to simultaneously seriously overestimate ridership and severely underestimate people driving to the station to ride the train? That is some fairly impressive doublethink.

    VBobier Reply:

    Yeah, they must be really desperate, cause the judge would have to be really stupid to buy their load of manure.

    joe Reply:

    Worse: There’s been plans to increase traffic in south san jose for years: Mid 2000′s Cisco was supposed to lead the industrial development. Bailey Avenue exit on 101 was sized for this development and a Bailey Ave stop proposed for Caltrain.

    http://www.sanjoseca.gov/coyotevalley/

    The City of San Jose has been planning a massive development the size of a large peninsula city in the south county with the main obstacle being a require business park development for 5,000 jobs. They are barring a predominately residential development and seek a mix of work and residential.

    …and…
    http://www.mercurynews.com/bay-area-news/ci_18255200?source=rss

    So the lawsuit is hilarious – a contradiction nuclear evidence that San Jose is planning and residents aware of the proposed changes in south county – for years.

  2. Richard Mlynarik
    Aug 12th, 2011 at 23:50
    #2

    At the California HSR Authority, we found we needed a makeover, and a new PR agency, and a new focus.

    Our new slogan: “California EcoTrains. Ameliorating summer Sunday afternoon Monterey to Gilroy highway congestion. For you. Because we EcoCare. Now give us sixty billion.”

    joe Reply:

    The Richard Stallman of rail transportation pens a slogan.

  3. Elizabeth
    Aug 13th, 2011 at 07:21
    #3

    Robert,

    They WON the 2008 lawsuit. No, they did not win on all points but the judge not only awarded costs to the plaintiffs but the AUthority had to go back and try and fix the review. These types of lawsuits are difficult to win. The law gives “deference” to the agencies. They have a very low bar to pass to show that they made a good faith effort to consider things. Yesterday, the Authority asked the judge after a full day in court to sign off on the changes they made and he declined.

    It is very hard to know what the ultimate outcome will be. The issues are very technical and many relate to tiering, which is an uncommon type of environmental review. But you can say this, the 2008 suit wasn’t frivolous.

    Peter Reply:

    Recovery of legal fees doesn’t mean squat. As long as you succeed in any way shape or form in an environmental suit you get costs. I wouldn’t read too much into it.

    joe Reply:

    If they WON CARRD would have folded their tent and gone home. Instead the HSRA won 3.5+ B in ARRA funding. Pyrrhus would be proud..

    jim Reply:

    Winning here is not black and white. To delay is to win. The goal of such suits is to delay things. In the interim something might turn up.

    So far these suits have won at least twice. Think back to the ARRA award. One of the State’s proposals was to use ARRA money to build the Peninsula segment. Instead the CV segments were funded. There are good objective reasons to prefer the CV segments, but surely the fact that the program EIR had been decertified had some impact on the decision. Then, recently, the Authority began discussion of the Initial Operating Segment. It’s clear from the slides that the staff is pushing Merced to as close to LA as possible over Bakersfield to San Jose. Again, there’s good objective arguments to prefer going south from Bakersfield, but the uncertainty of the lawsuit must be playing some role. Around that time, there was staff talk of moving the wye from the Fresno-Merced EIR to the San Jose EIR. That hasn’t happened in the drafts, but could still happen in the final (which would result in a trumpeted cost reduction from the draft to the final). If it does happen then the Business Plan will likely talk of a phased implementation where the Peninsula construction is in a very late phase.

    If these decisions had gone differently, if, say, the ARRA money had gone to funding the Peninsula, the emails that went out last week about pending contracts could have been for construction on the Peninsula. Morris Brown would have been very unhappy.

    As it is, Morris can hope that the entire program will be cancelled this fall, but even if it isn’t, he can hope that the program will run out of money before it reaches the Peninsula, or even if it doesn’t that by the time it does pass his house, he’ll be dead.

    D. P. Lubic Reply:

    There is something curiously, strangely entertaining about that last paragraph. . .it really shouldn’t be, but for some reason I can’t put a finger on, it is. . .

    joe Reply:

    To delay is to win. The goal of such suits is to delay things. In the interim something might turn up.
    ….
    One of the State’s proposals was to use ARRA money to build the Peninsula segment.

    The Peninsula NIMBYs fought the project leaving them with what? Unimproved Caltrain ROW and massive new construction in PAMPA that needs Caltrain: Stanford Hospital expansion, Facebook and even Menlo Park’s redevelopment for downtown. They also won a veto of the Prop1A Caltrain funds.

    Wining with more traffic congestion.

    Winning NIMBYs got their Pols to walk out to the Menlo Park Caltrain and declare HSR will stop in San Jose. Nancy Pelosi made those Pols walk that claim back within a day. That’s wining by raising awareness of the threat to SF service.

    HSR wisely moved to the CV where PAMPA NIMBYs have little power and impact and far less leverage given the ARRA funding deadline.

    Will the project be canceled in the fall? I suppose if Statewide Democratic politicians want to send back 3.5 B in stimulus and live with a depressed economy and 15-20% unemployment. It’s easy to piss and moan about HSR but something has to be done about overloaded infrastructure and jobs.

    Will HSR “run out of money”? No. It’s a easy target for stimulus funding and has the Senate leader and House minority leader solidly behind it.

    Does this delay help Morris? I dunno. Relators say the delay causes uncertainty and that presently depresses values for property owners near the ROW.

    Again, there’s good objective arguments to prefer going south from Bakersfield, but the uncertainty of the lawsuit must be playing some role.

    IMHO the HSR project uses construction as a net benefit so HSR will go where it is wanted and cooperate for mutual benefit. Delaying work in PAMPA hurts the economy of the Peninsula and there are other Pro-HSR interests that will come to bear on PAMPA NIMBYs as they see development happening elsewhere.

    Lastly, delay means fewer options. When you refuse to cooperate, you sometimes run the clock out for having a say in the system when it is built. They’ll create an environment where fudging a trench is politically difficult.

    Gov Brown eliminated 48M of funds sent Orange County to cover bankruptcy costs. This was payback for their GOP reps insisting CA cut the budget.

    What expectation should NIMBY cities have for enhanced ROW design/mitigation if they caused so much trouble during the construction of HSR?

    In the end this lawsuit and fight reduces the likelihood PAMPA will raise money and trench the ROW.

    Nathanael Reply:

    So, jim, the net effect of the Peninsula NIMBYs has been… to make the project focus on the areas which have fewer NIMBYs, thereby improving it. Well, that does seem to be the case so far. It’ll hurt everyone in the Bay Area, but it will benefit everyone in the LA area.

    Well, good for LA. It will be interesting to watch businesses migrate away from the Bay Area towards the LA Basin.

    Donk Reply:

    Supporters of HSR say that CAHSR won. Opponents of HSR say that CAHSR lost. Another sign that Elizabeth is a HSR opponent.

    Spokker Reply:

    I don’t care about HSR supporters or HSR opponents. How about train riders in general? Let’s think about the experience that these hypothetical people will have and make it the best possible.

    As much as you hate Mlynarkrik or whatever his name is, his rants ultimately come down to passenger experience. Something that seems as inconsequential as the path some idiot train rider is going to take through a station is very important. And then multiply that rider by hundreds and figure out how to make it easy and comfortable for them to buy tickets and board trains, get to their cars or rent a car, or find connecting transit.

    That’s what people in the Altamont camp are thinking about.

    Donk Reply:

    I actually like many of Mylnarink’s posts, they are entertaining. All I am saying is that Elizabeth tries to portray herself as a neutral party, where clearly she is not.

  4. morris brown
    Aug 13th, 2011 at 07:43
    #4

    Robert writes:

    Three years after filing a frivolous lawsuit against the California High Speed Rail Authority, two years after they largely lost that case

    Frivoulous: Hardly. The result was the forced de-certification of a faulty EIR. Hardly I would say lost and as Elizabeth writes above, recovery of legal fees to booth.

    Peninsula Rail 2010 Reply:

    Yep, the EIR was de-certified. That’s as strong a win for the plaintiffs as possible. A common misunderstanding is that the judge would decide on the routing of Altamont or Pacheco. No, the judge was never going to select the route. That’s not the judge’s role in EIR law. What goes in the EIR is always up to the Authority, or any EIR filer. The judge decides whether what’s put in the EIR is sufficient, and he kicked it back as insufficient. It’s up to the Authority to make it sufficient. This is how EIR law works.

    joe Reply:

    Gosh, let’s use some perspective.

    If I had a paper submitted for publication and it comes back with mandated fixes in the scope of the Judge’ EIR ruling, I’m celebrating.

    The findings:
    The Final Program EIR was inadequate and required corrective work in specific areas:

    (1) the description of the alignment of High Speed Train (HST) tracks between San Jose and Gilroy and impacts on residences, businesses, the Monterey Highway, and Union Pacific freight operations;

    (2) the potential need for additional right-of-way acquisition in light of Union Pacific’s unwillingness to allow use of its right-of-way for HST; and

    (3) land use impacts including noise and vibration along the San Francisco Peninsula. Pursuant to this ruling, in December 2009, the HSRA set aside its July 2008 certification.

    Considering the objectives of PAMPA, the lawsuit failed miserably and since it was filed, the CAHSRA has won 3.5+ billion in funding.

    Now PAMPA is suing over the possible miscommunication over possible traffic congestion around the Gilroy station and highway corridor? That’s how much winning the EIR lawsuit brought.

    Do they realize Gilroy has been trying to drawn people and traffic into the city?

    Nadia Reply:

    Joe,

    The quote the reporter chose to include by Stuart Flashman does not explain what the case is really about. You have been posting often, so I assume you are interested in what is going on.

    As per the Transdef website (http://www.transdef.org/HSR/round_2.html), one of the litigants, the principal contentions in the briefs are:

    *The project description was inadequate in failing to properly address the newly-discovered inaccuracy of previously-published modeling of the project and alternatives and failing to provide reliable information on ridership and revenue for the Project and alternatives;
    *The Revised EIR failed to acknowledge significant or significantly increased traffic, noise, vibrational, air quality, visual, and blight-inducing impacts caused by changes to the Project since certification of the prior FPEIR;
    *The Revised EIR failed to respond adequately to comments received on the Revised DEIR;
    *The Revised EIR failed to adequately evaluate a feasible new alternative that would have substantially reduced or avoided significant Project impacts, but which the Project sponsor refused to either seriously consider or adopt;
    *Respondent failed to recirculate the Revised EIR in response to the above new information;
    *Respondent adopted inadequate findings in re-approving the Project. The findings were not supported by substantial evidence in the record.

    I’m not sure why the AP reporter chose that quote, but if you read the actual briefs, you can get a much better picture of what they are actually arguing.

    Alan Reply:

    And after this suit, which really is frivolous, is tossed, PAMPA and Transdef will challenge the EIR yet again, on the basis that the EIR was typeset in 14-point Times New Roman, when the law requires 12-point Arial. Sheesh.

    Looking at a couple of the (weak) contentions:

    “*The project description was inadequate in failing to properly address the newly-discovered inaccuracy of previously-published modeling of the project and alternatives and failing to provide reliable information on ridership and revenue for the Project and alternatives;”

    Just because certain vested interests disagree with the accuracy of the modeling does not make them so.

    “*The Revised EIR failed to respond adequately to comments received on the Revised DEIR;”

    CEQA very clearly states that the agency need only respond to comments relating to the specific areas stated as deficient in the judge’s order. The project opponents started commenting on everything under the sun, and then threw a temper tantrum when CHSRA pointed out the law. Despite this, it appears that CHSRA made a good faith effort to respond to every comment, even when they were not required to do so. The fact that the answers aren’t what the commenters wanted to hear does not make the response inadequate.

    “*Respondent adopted inadequate findings in re-approving the Project. The findings were not supported by substantial evidence in the record.”

    If the reference here is Altamont vs Pacheco, I seem to recall that the judge ruled that the decision favoring Pacheco *was* supported by substantial evidence.

    What these never-ending laws prove is that CEQA needs to be amended. The court should be given the power to assess damages against a plaintiff, if the court finds that the challenge was brought merely to delay or frustrate the project, which is obviously the case here. The damages should include any increase in the project’s cost that can be attributed to the delay.

    Nathanael Reply:

    More importantly the court should be given the power to dismiss with prejudice and assess legal fees. Or maybe it already has that power.

    Richard Mlynarik Reply:

    Bodega Bay is an excellent location for a nuclear power plant, as determined by our experts. STFU NIMBYs! SLAPP!

    jim Reply:

    The court should be given the power to assess damages against a plaintiff, if the court finds that the challenge was brought merely to delay or frustrate the project, which is obviously the case here.

    I lived in New York City in the ’70s. The State wanted to replace the West Side Highway with a new urban freeway. We (for values of we which don’t actually include me, since I had no money to contribute) sued and sued again. The new freeway was delayed and delayed. Eventually fashion turned. Urban freeways became undesirable, even to NYSDOT. The challenges were brought merely to delay or frustrate the project. But they succeeded. The project was eventually abandoned.

    Understand that the Peninsula NIMBYs are in the same position. They happen to be wrong where we were right. But any change which renders them irrelevant would have rendered us irrelevant and there’d be a massive freeway along the Hudson today. Process matters. There’s a line from A Man for All Seasons: “Oh? And when the last law was down, and the Devil turned ’round on you, where would you hide, Roper, the laws all being flat?” Give the NIMBYs their day in court. And if they delay the Peninsula, build elsewhere.

    Alan Reply:

    The law as it stands now gives them that day, and in this case, they’ve used it. To repeatedly sue over issues that become more and more trivial each time is an abuse of the law.

    The NIMBY’s have had their day at the ballot box. And they lost. They’ve had their day in court, and they lost on all but a few points, which have been addressed. The plaintiffs here are simply trying to accomplish what they could not do in the lawful EIR process-get their choice of Altamont ordered by the court. That’s not going to happen.

    Unless someone has a better crystal ball than I, suing to try to delay until HSR ceases to be “fashionable” isn’t a valid reason. While no one can know with certainty, there’s nothing anywhere in the world that suggests that HSR will become “unfashionable”. Japan, which was in the game before anyone else, keeps building more, not abandoning what they have.

    Alan Reply:

    I meant, of course, “never ending *lawsuits*”. Sigh.

    joe Reply:

    Nadia, I posted the Judge’s previous ruling summary – there are three issues he found with the EIR. That is what you called “winning” the previous Lawsuit.

    Now you can sue over anything and I believe you verbosely repeated what the AP reporter summarized succinctly.

    Or maybe I’d put it this way: “OMG traffic in the south county and people there are poorly informed by HSR!!”

    Oh, and “they didn’t consider and respond to my comments adequately” – jeeze.

  5. Alon Levy
    Aug 13th, 2011 at 08:30
    #5

    Off-topic: BART is turning off cellphone access at the stations in order to disrupt planned demonstrations in protest of its police’s shooting of an unarmed civilian.

    Paulus Magnus Reply:

    Makes sense. Demonstrations on platforms strike me as being somewhat less than safe.

    joe Reply:

    Illegal to block radio signals. I’m sure this is okay too – safety first.

    Whimsical use of power, BART management made a spot decision without apparently a plan in place for such a problem, is stupid, anti-democratic and puts the pubic in danger.

    Yes, people use cell phones for more than bothering BART, they are an essential service.

    Paulus Magnus Reply:

    It is illegal to use jammers, but the reports I’ve read are thy BART simply cut off power to repeaters located within the stations, an entirely legal and ethical move.

    Spokker Reply:

    I read that they actually have some kind of “kill switch,” but the reporting on this story is terrible.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    Every cell phone “tower” has a kill switch. There has to be a way to shut off the power so it can be maintained. It has fuses or circuit breakers to shut off the power automatically when it has an electrical problem, that can be manually operated.

    Spokker Reply:

    Thank you.

    The articles aren’t really explaining anything. It’s just “BART jam cell phones. BART bad. We sue.”

    Spokker Reply:

    By the way, I want to see some headlines talking about protesters whose goal was to shut down train service. To intentionally delay a working man or woman from getting home and spending time with their family, to me, should be criminal.

    http://sfist.com/attachments/SFist_Jay/hill-bart-protest.jpg

    Peter Reply:

    WTF is up with these people, anyway? I haven’t seen or read anything that indicated that the police officers weren’t justified in using deadly force in the shooting that triggered this whole mess.

    Spokker Reply:

    Are you talking about the guy with the knife? Then I agree.

    The Oscar Grant shooting was completely on the officer, but he’s gone now so what more do these assholes want?

    They should go protest at BART headquarters instead.

    Peter Reply:

    Yeah, the guy with the knife.

    I’m convinced that the people protesting are protesting just for the sake of protesting. In Germany people travel to Berlin just to attend the 1st of May riots. They don’t care about any issues involved, and just want to throw rocks at police officers. Or the looters in London who don’t know why the hell they stole stuff out of storefront windows.

    I can remember one 1st of May riot in Berlin where an off-duty police officer was arrested for rioting.

    Spokker Reply:

    There was another incident in SF where a guy was shot by police and people were screaming police brutality and the headlines were, “Man shot over bus fare.” Eventually it turns out that the guy shot at police. But they couldn’t find a weapon. Turns out that someone took the gun from the crime scene and it was caught on video! That’s how they found the weapon, from YouTube cell phone videos.

    But when it was happening it was police brutality and “fuck the police” and “fuck you pigs.” The guy who was killed was wanted in connection with the murder of a pregnant woman in Oakland. But fucking SFist and all these shitty blogs/newspapers only lead with “Man killed over bus fare.” If they update the story it’s a minor footnote. Fuckers.

    Come down to Fullerton where the homeless guy was brutally murdered by police. We don’t disrupt the day-to-day activities of working people or burn down our own town. We are smarter than that, and we aren’t that smart.

    joe Reply:

    Cutting power intentional to deny FCC regulated phone service is Illegal.

    The boastful BART spokesperson is now backtracking on his claim they did disrupt service.

    Now we have a BART run police state where it’s legal to deny our right to freely assemble because some manger thinks it will disrupt train service.

    Paulus Magnus Reply:

    Cite the law to which BART is subject and in violation of. And guess what, every railroad has and has had the right to deny free assembly if it will pose a safety hazard.

    Peter Reply:

    And people doing THIS is definitely a safety hazard. Thank you for posting that gem of a picture, Spokker.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    You rights to do a lot of things on the paid side of the turnstiles is severely restricted. You rights don’t include cell phone service.

    Drunk Engineer Reply:

    Constitutional Rights don’t extend beyond the fare gates?

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    Cell phone service isn’t a constitutional right.

    Drunk Engineer Reply:

    Cell phone service isn’t a constitutional right.

    Wow.

    Peter Reply:

    “Wow.”

    Surprised? No, seriously, it’s not. Get a grip. Not every government action is evil and must be opposed.

    Spokker Reply:

    Drunk Engineer, stop paying your phone bill. When they cut you off, sue them for infringing on your rights.

    joe Reply:

    Cell phones use public airwaves with special privileges granted to them for the purpose of servicing the public so it’s sadly pathetic folks think phone companies can do what they want when they want for 1) and essential service and 2) a service that uses public bandwidth and is given for the sole purpose of providing the public with a useful utility – phone service.

    Apparently phones are corporate and BART’s our Daddy.

    Peter Reply:

    “Public airwaves”

    There’s no such thing. “Publicly regulated airwaves” would be the more appropriate term.

    I guess you’re uncomfortable with the fact that the federal government has the authority to basically shut down the entire telecommunications network if the need arises?

    Same with the GPS satellites, etc, etc…

    Peter Reply:

    That’s a strawman argument.

    Not all of your rights extend equally to all locations.

    The same way you can’t protest inside jails, on airport property or on military bases, you can’t protest in other non-public forums if the agency in charge of the forum says no. Here, for safety reasons, BART says you can’t protest on BART property.

    joe Reply:

    Military bases are not public places.
    Jails are not public places.
    Airports grant the right for individuals to solicit and advocate for causes in controlled spaces – they acknowledge the right to free speech.

    BART is a train system and their Po-Clice are so incompetent they need to disrupt cell phones to save us from coordinated t-shirts and signs.

    What menace is thwarted by a disabled cell tower ?

    Spokker Reply:

    joe, the protests include blocking trains from leaving the station by holding open doors and jumping on the roof of trains.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    How did the lack of cell service ( or it’s existance ) impinge on anyone’s Constitutional rights?

    Peter Reply:

    “Airports grant the right for individuals to solicit and advocate for causes in controlled spaces – they acknowledge the right to free speech.”

    Yes, it’s called a designated forum. There is no requirement for the airports to have a designated forum. Not all of them do.

    Same way there’s no requirement for train stations or trains to have designated forums. Some of them do, others don’t. You’re less likely to have a designated forum in an access-controlled or high-traffic area than other areas, for both safety and efficiency purposes.

    For example, San Jose Diridon has a designated forum area. Note, it’s not in a high-traffic or access-controlled area.

    The BART stations in question are both high-traffic and access-controlled. The agency is perfectly justified in not having a designated forum in such a situation.

    If it’s not a public forum or a designated forum, that makes it a non-public forum, subject to the rules I discussed below.

    Drunk Engineer Reply:

    You can’t be serious. A government agency censored private communication because it didn’t want a protest.

    Spokker Reply:

    Yet no sympathy for the commuters who are trying to get home!

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HDLAhUb6Vvc

    THE MOTHER FUCKING TRAIN CANNOT MOVE

    Peter Reply:

    “A government agency censored private communication because it didn’t want a protest.”

    That is correct. Just add the word “illegal” before the word “protest” and you’ll have it right.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    A government agency censored private communication

    No they didn’t. They made it difficult to make a cell phone call in the station.
    You can’t set up a printing press in the station or whip out a projector and run a film or paint slogans on the walls. Cell phone service is not a Constitutional right.

    Joey Reply:

    Nothing wrong with protesting. Even peaceful protesting on the platform might not have caused that much of an issue. The problem is that they intended to disrupt service, a hazardous proposition.

    Alternately, if their objective was to send BART’s failing rolling stock into immediate retirement, they should have just said so.

    Peter Reply:

    “Now we have a BART run police state where it’s legal to deny our right to freely assemble because some manger thinks it will disrupt train service.”

    That’s a misstatement of the law. There is no such thing a right to freely assemble. What we have is a right to peaceably assemble. United States v. Cruikshank, 92 U.S. 542 (1875). Causing a disturbance at a common carrier’s facilities and disrupting its operation is not exactly what I would categorize as “peaceable”.

    Here, the train station will most likely be held to be a non-public forum. In a non-public forum, the government can restrict speech on a content-neutral basis. Given that any protesting is already prohibited at BART stations, prohibiting or preventing this protesting is not in violation of the Constitution.

    joe Reply:

    What disturbance?
    Who didn’t peaceably assemble.

    Did the Minority Report forecast a crime?

    Spokker Reply:

    They laid out their intent to commit conspiracy in order to break the law, that is, protesting on train station platforms and creating a safety hazard.

    Unless I’m mistaken and disrupting the rush hour commute is not breaking the law.

    Peter Reply:

    Technically, they completed the crime of conspiracy and attempt to violate whatever the relevant BART ordinance is.

    joe Reply:

    Arrest them for conspiring or retesting or some actual law violation. Do something rather than harass BART riders in the name of safety.

    Peter Reply:

    What BART riders were being harrassed? Their cell phones didn’t have coverage underground for a short time? Seriously?

    joe Reply:

    Turing off cell coverage arbitrarily, unpredictably for users is harassment.

    Seriously, I have my cell on during the commute and work so I know my 6 year old doesn’t need to be rushed and hospitalized for the 6th F’N time in 2 years. Wife and I can take public transportation and be reasonable assured that all is well.

    BART Police need to do their job and police the system.

    Spokker Reply:

    joe, what did you do before they started putting cell phone repeaters underground? What do you do when calls are dropped over and over again?

    If you have a six year old who is prone to being rushed to the hospital, I don’t know what the fuck you are doing on public transit. Sounds like the kid needs to be taken away. Go sit in traffic so you can tend to your broken, genetically inferior offspring.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    If you are on a BART train and someone calls to tell you about an emergency how does getting the call make the train move faster?

    Spokker Reply:

    You are better off on BART. You can’t even use your cell phone while driving. At least you could use your cell phone once BART emerges from the Transbay Tube.

    Peter Reply:

    http://sfist.com/2011/07/12/bart_protesters_chant_vandalize_and.php#photo-1

    So, BART acting preemptively to prevent a repeat of an illegal, dangerous and disruptive protest is bad?

    Spokker Reply:

    Thank you for that, Peter. This is what the current headlines do not stress. These are not peaceful protests. And even then, peaceful protests should not happen on the platform.

    joe Reply:

    preemptive – fascinating.

    How about arresting those who brake the law when they break the law – old fashion law enforcement.

    Peter Reply:

    How about preventing a dangerous situation from occurring in the first place?

    Basic crowd control strategy: Prevent the crowd from organizing to begin with. If that doesn’t work, maintain order. If things get out of hand, restore order.

    joe Reply:

    Like BART cutting service over the threat of a protest over BART’s ineffective police force – which is what happened.

    Hey I believe in safety plans and contingencies where BART thinks, asks and considers safety vs public good. Didn’t happen here – some manager dude got a brain fart and let it out.

    Would shutting down a cell phone tower stop individuals intending to commit disruptive acts of violence? No.

    Spokker Reply:

    They could just remove all the infrastructure. They probably shouldn’t have installed it in the first place.

    Paulus Magnus Reply:

    A good case could be made that anyone sending or receiving such text messages would be guilty of incitement to riot under state and federal law.

    joe Reply:

    Possibly, Or speaking or mailing a letter.

    Shall we shut down speech and mail too?

    Alan Reply:

    An excellent case, actually:

    ” TITLE 18 – CRIMES AND CRIMINAL PROCEDURE
    PART I – CRIMES
    CHAPTER 102 – RIOTS
    § 2101. Riots
    (a) Whoever travels in interstate or foreign commerce or uses any
    facility of interstate or foreign commerce, including, but not
    limited to, the mail, telegraph, telephone, radio, or television,
    with intent –
    (1) to incite a riot; or
    (2) to organize, promote, encourage, participate in, or carry
    on a riot; or
    (3) to commit any act of violence in furtherance of a riot; or
    (4) to aid or abet any person in inciting or participating in
    or carrying on a riot or committing any act of violence in
    furtherance of a riot;
    and who either during the course of any such travel or use or
    thereafter performs or attempts to perform any other overt act for
    any purpose specified in subparagraph (A), (B), (C), or (D) of this
    paragraph – (!1)
    Shall be fined under this title, or imprisoned not more than five
    years, or both.”

    So sayeth the United States Code.

    Last I heard, the cellular telephone network was a “facility of interstate…commerce”.

    Richard Mlynarik Reply:

    Shall we shut down speech and mail too?

    Joe, that does seems the only safe and prudent course.

    Spokker Reply:

    Richard, how do leftist anarchists factor into your proposals for HSR station designs?

    Richard Mlynarik Reply:

    Dear Spokker,

    Due to the extraordinary and sensitive nature of the clear and present threat that California-based leftist anarchists present to domestic and international safety and security, I’m sure that you will understand that I am not at liberty to disclose the measures involved, beyond saying that they are appropriate and in full accordance with the law.

    Nathanael Reply:

    I’d further point out that I’m sure a group of people all, say, wearing the same protest T-shirts and sandwich boards would be allowed to ride the trains and assemble on the platform. These people, however, were trying to do something which is actively dangerous to others.

    joe Reply:

    They are about as heavily armed as a 6 year old’s soccer team – matching t-shirts and signs.

    But if they protest on a platform, it’s easy: Arrest them for breaking the law when they break the law. Shutting down cell service isn’t enforcement.

    Joey Reply:

    Perhaps you haven’t been on a BART platform during rush hour. It’s crowded normally, and when service gets disrupted, say, just one train being taken out of service, things get crazy. Now, correct me if I’m wrong, but last I heard, they were intending to disrupt service. People could easily get hurt, even if that wasn’t the intention.

    joe Reply:

    Last I heard ……

    Amazing that this horrible event was thwarted by cell service shut down. Or maybe it was over blown and BART panicked instead of using their Po-Lice to enforce laws the conventional way.

    The BART morons need to pay their police a professional wage and expect better policing tactics.

    Spokker Reply:

    I don’t know how effective it was. The protest is being moved to Monday, and no doubt the cell phone reception issue will be a part of it. Maybe they’ll be even more aggressive. Maybe more protesters will climb the roof of trains. Maybe they’ll push other riders onto the third rail. Let’s really demand justice for knife-wielding maniacs.

    joe Reply:

    Pont being the BART morons used a one-trick-gimmic that didn’t stop shit – they instead started a tit-for-tat game.

    Had they policed, professionally, the stations, they could have arrested those violating the law.

    Ff BART had planned for cutting service and investigated the effects and asked professional advice, it might have been suggested that BART cutting service would only provoke and incite worse behavior.

    This was a manager acting on an ad hoc plan without review.

    Spokker Reply:

    I think arresting them would be a better idea. And if they get even worse, opening fire wouldn’t be too bad of an idea either. They want war, they got it.

    VBobier Reply:

    Turning off the cell repeaters could result in someones death if they have a heart attack or something similar, protests be damned, If and when someone dies cause of this type of childish act, maybe heads will roll.

    Paulus Magnus Reply:

    If people up north are too stupid to use the white courtesy phones, pay phones, step outside to use a cell phone, etc. then the entire Bay Area deserves to slide off into the sea.

    Spokker Reply:

    They did not block radio signals. They turned off their repeaters that were installed as a courtesy to riders underground.

    You do not normally get service on a subway. My phone has no service on the Red Line subway in Los Angeles. If there is an emergency, you go to the intercoms. If it’s good enough for the Red Line, this is good enough for BART.

    The demonstrators weren’t planning to protest peacefully. They were planning to disrupt train service so the train could not move.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    Why do you need a cell phone to do that? If they were going to SMS everyone the itty bitty repeaters in the station would have been overwhelmed.

    Alan Reply:

    This isn’t like BART was cutting power to cell sites located off BART property. They chose to suspend a service on the agency’s own property. It’s no different than a decision to lock all of the restrooms because of vandalism. It might be an inconvenience to some people. Maybe they should remember to go before they leave the office.

    Just because a service is offered today doesn’t mean it must be offered in perpetuity, nor does it become some kind of inalienable right.

    Drunk Engineer Reply:

    Most telecommunication networks rely on equipment situated on or along public property. Using BART’s logic, then almost any government agency could suppress telecommunication.

    Peter Reply:

    Again, that’s not a conclusion that can be drawn here. You’re doing a lot of that.

    Here, from what I can tell, BART owned the equipment it shut off.

    How many government agencies actually own the telecommunications equipment located on their property? Not many. There will be contractual agreements in place that regulate exactly what each party can do with the equipment.

    Drunk Engineer Reply:

    No. The carriers own the equipment, but were required to provide BART with a “kill switch”.

    Peter Reply:

    Not much of a difference, if BART has the authority to use the “kill switch” when it needs to.

    joe Reply:

    BART’s management doesn’t have the authority to unilaterally shut down cell service when people threaten to use critical speech against BART’s heavy handed management do they?

    Peter Reply:

    Right, because the best way to protest about BART’s management is to disrupt train service?That’s what protesting at BART’s headquarters is for. It’s not like they didn’t have alternative routes of to communicate their grievances other than disrupting train service. But I guess that wouldn’t get them headlines as “victims”.

    Drunk Engineer Reply:

    Rosa Parks made the same mistake. She should have taken her protest to Montgomery bus headquarters.

    Spokker Reply:

    Segregation is unconstitutional. Killing knife-wielding men is what we hire police officers to do.

    Peter Reply:

    Right, because protesting systematic desegregation is clearly on par with protesting what appears to have been a justified police shooting of a drunk man who pulled a knife on police officers.

    Peter Reply:

    That should have been “segregation”, not “desegregation”. It’s late here.

    JBaloun Reply:

    Rosa Parks did nothing to prevent the bus from moving.

    joe Reply:

    Peter ;

    We don’t hire police to (or expect them to) kill knife welding citizens – we hire and train police to arrest them without harm to themselves or the people the arrest.

    After arrest, we hold a trial and if found guilty administer punmishment or therapy – we certainly do not put citizens to death for welding a knife.

    Yes, schizophrenic people ride trains and can on rare occasion weld knifes and they do so because they are medically sick, not mad killers.

    Peter Reply:

    “We don’t hire police to (or expect them to) kill knife welding citizens – we hire and train police to arrest them without harm to themselves or the people the arrest.”

    Apparently you don’t know anything about policing or when police are justified (or when you would be justified) in using, or even expected to use deadly force.

    Uhh, no, police don’t “put citizens to death for welding a knife”. Police will, correctly, shoot to kill when their lives or the lives of the public are put in danger by knife wielding citizens.

    Medically sick schizophrenics wielding a knife are indistinguishable from mad killers wielding a knife when they pull a knife on police officers. Both are equally dangerous.

    Do you seriously expect police officers to be like “hmmm, this guy rushing towards me with a knife might be mentally ill, I think I’ll put my gun back in my holster (or not pull it out), let him get close and grapple with him, so as to arrest him without harm to himself.” Sure…

    Spokker Reply:

    “Yes, schizophrenic people ride trains and can on rare occasion weld knifes and they do so because they are medically sick, not mad killers.”

    Ironically, the ACLU types tell you that you cannot force those people into hospitals where they would get the treatment they need. Instead they are let loose on the general public to wreak havoc. And then when they get shot by police as expected the ACLU is all over it.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    The ACLU types do not object to additional funding for mental hospitals; they object to forced institutionalization without due process and proper oversight.

    VBobier Reply:

    BART should not have a kill switch as It endangers public safety…

    Spokker Reply:

    BART should shut off their fax machines, haha.

    http://www.gmanews.tv/story/229380/technology/anonymous-hits-bart-for-blocking-cell-service

    I have sent BART a compliment thanking them for thwarting the protests and told them that the riding public is on their side.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    Tying up BART’s fax machines would be a really really stupid thing to do. First they probably don’t have actual fax machines, it’s a virtual fax system that doesn’t use any paper. Second, the Federal government frowns on using the public telephone network for things like that, caller id makes it very easy to figure out who sent what.

    synonymouse Reply:

    One lady on the very politicized BART Board of Directors got all pushed out of shape over turning off the cellphone feed on Market Street. No doubt they will round up the usual suspects.

    There was a funny clip on the tube with a reporter interviewing BART’s head pr guy, who professed ignorance of the whole episode. Then tv reporter says the cops claim it was BART communications what did it. The pr dude’s final quote was “Well, we did suggest it.” Gotta love BART.

    We have a movement native to the Bay Area, to go along with ebonics. I call it “moronics” – always go for the stupidest and/or the most expensive whatever.

    Spokker Reply:

    BART’s PR is not honest, I agree. They can’t be honest about this. BART executives cannot come out and say, “We aren’t going to tolerate any bullshit from ‘protesters’ on our goddamn platforms. We don’t give a shit about your courtesy cell phone service.”

    Why they installed that shit in the first place I won’t understand. It’s not even entirely underground and I would like to imagine that your average commuter can go 15 minutes without checking his text messages.

    Joey Reply:

    It’s a sticky issue, to be sure, but like Paulus said, demonstrating on the platforms does seem like a safety risk. Particularly downtown. Particularly during rush hour.

    Drunk Engineer Reply:

    “Preserving public safety” is always the reason given. Cahrir Square got overcrowded too you know.

    Joey Reply:

    Perhaps, but unless the claim that they intended to disrupt service was a lie, I think there may have been a legitimate issue here.

    joe Reply:

    If there was an actual problem developing wouldn’t their police force step in and professionally diffuse the situation?

    Spokker Reply:

    And when some anarchist asshole hurts himself, it’ll spawn another protest. And if they preempt the protest, it’ll spawn another protest. There’s no winning here. These mobs have society in their grips in the UK, Philadelphia and now San Francisco.

    Peter Reply:

    I love people who compare violent crackdowns by a totalitarian regime to situations where the police goes out of its way to prevent violence.

    joe Reply:

    I get a kick out of people who think BART acted out of public safety when they have the full law and authority to enforce it balanced by judicial oversight and public accountability

    We agree here: BART went out of their way to protect us from speech critical of BART’s inept management and police force. That isn’t at all a thing an authoritarian regime would do. Nope, not at all.

    And the tower shutdown proved BART management has little faith in the inept, unpaid, unprofessional police force.

    Spokker Reply:

    They can take speech critical of BART’s inept management and police force to BART headquarters and not bother daily, working, productive and tax-paying commuters about it.

    Or have your platform protest in Oakland at 11PM when the savages outnumber the humans.

    Richard Mlynarik Reply:

    Or have your platform protest in Oakland at 11PM when the savages outnumber the humans.

    Oh the hispanic folks hate the black folks. And everybody hates the Jews.

    Spokker Reply:

    Black folks hate Hispanics and Koreans.

    I love the Jews, myself, except the leaders of Kiryas Joel, NY.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    On the other hand Kiryas Joel is filled with poor people yet has almost no crime.

    Spokker Reply:

    It’s a theocracy.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    It’s a hot bed of TOD complete with safe buses. There’s some tradeoffs being made.

    Spokker Reply:

    Fair enough.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    A 22 for every Jew! There’s no such thing as a Palestinian people, they’re all Arabs! The Land of Israel to the Nation of Israel! Two banks to the Jordan, one ours and the other as well! (The last one rhymes in Hebrew).

    Spokker Reply:

    BART protesters are free to try to overthrow the government just like the Egyptian protesters. The problem with BART protesters is that public sentiment is not with them.

    joe Reply:

    No BART protestors were critical of BART Management and that is exactly what any incompetent authoritarian would do; Abuse power to protect his or her public image and job.

    Spokker Reply:

    So go overthrow them! Go to BART headquarters and demand justice by any means necessary. What are you doing on the platform blocking trains?

    joe Reply:

    Then wait *until* I break the law and arrest me on the BRAT platform.

    Instead we have BART management playing Minority report only without the cool tech and kids in the tank foreseeing crime.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    They probably have the same grasp on reality as Tom Cruise.

    Spokker Reply:

    The protestors announced their intentions in advance.

    William Reply:

    BART “doesn’t” have to install repeaters in its tunnels so cell-phone signals can reach cell-phone towers. BART provides this as a courtesy service, without it, underground stations and tunnels are cell-phone “dead-zones”, i.e. no reception.

    I don’t think BART included in its ticket contract to its riders that it has to provide good cell phone reception in its property.

    William Reply:

    BART didn’t block any cell phone signal, it just didn’t “improve” it.

    joe Reply:

    I give up nothing when I ride BART – I am not under their sovereign law.

    BART is a F’N local public transit system, not the Vatican.

    Peter Reply:

    I think you’d be surprised how many of your rights you give up throughout the day without being aware of it.

    Just because you don’t think you give up rights doesn’t mean that, by operation of law, you’ve forfeited them for a short period of time.

    Some, of course, you never give up other than by express waiver, by Miranda warning, for example. Those rights are seen as absolutes.

    Most other rights are NOT absolutes. Many, if not most, states don’t allow you to carry concealed weapons without a permit, for example. This despite the fact that the Second Amendment states that “the right of the People to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed”.

    synonymouse Reply:

    In MTC’s mind BART and by extension PB-Bechtel-dba’s are indeed the Vatican. It considers critiquing BART dogma(imperial expansion schemes, rapacious funding expropriation, eccentritech such as Indian broad gauge, yada yada) as heresy.

    Spokker Reply:

    BART is expensive, proprietary and its recent and proposed extensions poorly thought out, but I’ll be goddamned if I’m going to stand by and let unproductive and chaotic people disrupt train service without saying something about it. Get off the platform.

    synonymouse Reply:

    People who are not familiar with the Civic Center area in the City may not appreciate the “ambiance” wherein occured the incident that sparked the protests. This is bum ghq. There have mobs of derelicts hanging out there for decades. My son-in-law took graphics classes for a couple years at a school right next door. One time he had to punch some crazed bum lady who had attacked him after demanding some money. He didn’t realize it was a woman until she went down.

    This area of SF is like an insane asylum. The tourists are always appalled. Welcome to the world of whatever you can get away with.

    Spokker Reply:

    San Francisco, the home of 50 million rules and laws that nobody follows.

    KRON4 has a great segment called People Behaving Badly. It really encapsulates everything that SF is. It is a wasteland. If I were caught up in a BART protest, I would leave the city that evening. I would just up and move, far, far away. I would move to the most conservative, tough-on-crime city I could afford.

    Spokker Reply:

    “This area of SF is like an insane asylum.”

    And the ACLU will sue you if you dare propose that the insane asylum be moved to, you know, an actual hospital where these maniacs can get medical care.

    synonymouse Reply:

    The situation is pathetic. When I first got to SF in 1966 jobs and apartments were easy to find and the only bums I was were stone winos. It was a wonderful place. And when you would mention that to an old-timer they would invariably you should have seen it before the war. You could walk thru Golden Gate Park at 3 am and be perfectly safe. Wish I could visit it about 1940 and ridde on the 11 line. Or see the 100′s on the Haight Street hills.

    But I digress. I don’t think anybody, right or left, has much of a plan to progress from here. My only suggestion is to repudiate “moronics” – never choose the stupidest alternative when you know better.

    Spokker Reply:

    “never choose the stupidest alternative when you know better.”

    The outraged authors of the articles about this incident are not printing what the protesters were planing to do and how they were planning to do it.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    Unfortunately, every wonderful place attracts people who want to live in it and can pay higher rent than you can.

    Risenmessiah Reply:

    Your comment is ridiculous, synonymouse.

    Of course San Francisco seemed like a wonderland in the days when there were strict immigration quotas and race-based housing covenants to keep poverty at bay. This type of “behavior” has more to do with stagnating horizons for today’s youth than anything else. These types of protests don’t happen when you have real economic growth, and real social equality.

    This protest is far cry from the City’s “Barbary Coast” origins anyway. The old pirates, thieves, and prostitutes would hardly recognize the Embarcadero with its tony condos and it’s manicured parks.

    Jon Reply:

    The root cause of the epic homelessness problem around Civic Center is the Reagan era funding cuts for mental health programs enacted by your Republican friends. Don’t even think about blaming this on the ACLU.

    Spokker Reply:

    Myth.

    The poster you want to read is GI Joe.

    http://msgboard.snopes.com/cgi-bin/ultimatebb.cgi?ubb=get_topic;f=37;t=001063;p=0

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    Spokker I don’t know what they did in California but back east the Right, after having the vapors over letting “those” people out of the institutions, jumped on board with providing them warm caring community based treatment. Because it was going to much much cheaper when the magic of the free market was unleashed on the community based treatment infrastructure. There wasn’t any infrastructure. Then refused to fund any attempt at providing it.

    Jon Reply:

    Spokker, just linking to a debate on the subject hardly makes for a convincing rebuttal. Reading that debate confirms that it’s a complex issue. In short, the (well-intentioned) ACLU fought for the rights of patients to live in community care rather than mental institutions, and the Reagan government slashed spending on social services to the extent that said patients did not receive the care they needed to function in the community and ended up on the streets.

    I’m not an ACLU supporter- I’m firmly of the opinion that civil liberties are not the only yardstick by which society should be measured and that exclusive focus on them can result in political stances that simply don’t make sense. But it seems pretty clear to me that Reagan deserves to bear the brunt of the blame for the homeless situation. The worst you can say about the ACLU is that they were to naive to think that care in the community was something the federal government had any interest in providing.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    Last time I was in SF, I wandered off of Market close to Civic Center. I immediately turned back. If I’m not mistaken, it even features prominently in The Death and Life as an example of an urban renewal project that’s only attractive to bums.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    BART’s decision to turn off the signal was based on what speech it would be used to carry, and that’s unconstitutional. By analogy, consider bus ads. A transit agency is not obliged to sell bus ad space, but if it does then it can’t discriminate against political ads it doesn’t like. There have been lawsuits about this, for example from atheist groups, and it was held that bus companies should either let all political and religious ads through or have a neutral policy banning all political ads regardless of message.

    Peter Reply:

    Actually, the decision was neither content-based or viewpoint-based.

    A content-based restriction on free speech occurs when the government entity limits all speech on a certain subject.

    Viewpoint-based restrictions, in contrast, are when the government entity restricts only the expression of a certain viewpoint on a subject.

    Here, they shut down all cell phones, not just those of the people planning to cause a disturbance. Therefore, it’s not content-based, and it’s not viewpoint based.

    Peter Reply:

    Let me rephrase: The restriction was neither content-based or viewpoint-based.

    The decision was obviously content- and viewpoint-based. But that’s not what raises the constitutional issues.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    The decision to shut down cell service was due to the content of what it would be used for. To argue out of the constitutional issues, BART would need to demonstrate rational basis for disrupting a protest. It would be very hard for BART to argue that it does not want its cell service to be used for protests regardless of content, unless it could demonstrate similar behavior in the past toward protests not directed against BART, for example anti-war demonstrations in 2003, some of which were borderline riots.

    joe Reply:

    The censored content was NOT planning to hurt people or rob a bank; it was content critical of BART and specifically critical of its management and police.

    If individuals did use cells to assemble and protest on a platform BART could easily arrest any and all under existing laws and powers granted to them.

    Now BART has exaserbated the situation by authoratively shutting down wireless service.

    joe Reply:

    BTW, as one who participated in large anti-iraq wars protests in SF, the description these were border line riots comment is NUTS.

    When walking in SF, my family came upon and walked a 90 year old Japanese American who was in interned in CO and his children, grandchildren and great grand children.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    They were not violent, but they were decidedly on the side of civil disobedience, and disrupted the city with road blockages. Maybe I shouldn’t have used the word riot, then.

    Spokker Reply:

    This is why we have “free speech zones,” because these idiots cannot keep from disrupting the daily activities of the people.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1RlPndpSSmc

    You give three warnings that if they do not get out of the street, they will be fired upon with rubber bullets and tear gas. And then you do it. And then you arrest them whether they get out of the street immediately or not.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    I thought the reason for free speech zones was that Bush didn’t want to have to see people who didn’t like him.

    joe Reply:

    No, it’s just sociopaths who get a kick out of bullying and hurting people.

    Spokker Reply:

    joe, I’m glad you finally see the protesters for what they are. We might yet see a brighter tomorrow.

    joe Reply:

    Alon;

    My experience: Old men and children walking along Market Street.
    My 70 mom, lady in black, had pennies thrown at her while standing silently in front of her church – holding a sign.

    I assume when a society starts an elective war, there might be some disruption. Both have cost us 3 trillion dollars. That’s a lot of rail.

    William Reply:

    Also, when a passenger buys BART ticket and enters BART fare-gates, the passenger enters into a contract with BART: BART agrees to transport the passenger to the desired destination, but the passenger also agreed to follow certain rules.

    This is also why I would feel insecure in European style open-access system on railroads, including HSR. I would much prefer controlled-access systems that passengers agree to enter into some binding transportation contract and follow some rules, or they would be denied transportation.

    Richard Mlynarik Reply:

    Your ignorance — in this case of all of Californian, US and foreign law — remains at its customary breathtaking level.

    http://www.bahnhof.de/site/bahnhoefe/zubehoer__assets/de/bahnhofsplaene/hausordnung.pdf

    William Reply:

    Good day, Richard.

    William Reply:

    My view is, any agency can post as many “house rules” as it wants, but to enforce them, it create confrontation between Police officers and passengers and visitors that can lead to unpredictable results. Case of the point is the Oscar Grant shooting, where a small mistake of mistaken a real gun for taser gun, led to a much bigger problem.

    So, if a hardware solution, such as separating paid/free areas with fare-gates and glass walls, that keeps “other people” i.e. people who are in station not to ride the train or send off family and friends, away, so to lessen the likeliness of officer-rider confrontation.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    Faregates keep out people who are there to send off family or friends. They don’t keep out hardened criminals.

    Spokker Reply:

    The rules that only ticketed passengers may be on the platform would keep family and friends out. They risk a citation if a proof of payment check happens while they enter or leave.

    William Reply:

    I actually been on a Capitol Corridor train that while sending off his girlfriend, the boyfriend forgot to get off the train, and pull the emergency brake. The whole train just stuck there for 15 mintues for the emergency brake to release. The culprit, I think he got off the train before conductors or police arrived, since the train is still close to the platform…

    Spokker Reply:

    Amtrak doesn’t have that rule.

    William Reply:

    My point is, if you allow family members to send off all the way to platforms, then “this” might happen at a greater frequency…

    Alon Levy Reply:

    Morons pull the emergency brakes when they’re not supposed to are a more general problem than this.

    Jon Reply:

    I was recently on a Muni train at Montgomery Station which was was waiting behind another train that appeared to be stuck at the platform in front of it. Regular Muni Metro riders will know this is not an uncommon occurrence. After a few minutes some old guy decided he’d had enough and pulled the emergency brake, so opening the doors and letting passengers who wanted to alight off the train. This of course greatly annoyed the driver and inconvenienced people who needed a later station.

    Point is, it’s a bit of a stretch to associate people spuriously pulling the emergency brake with lack of faregates at stations.

    William Reply:

    It would keep petty thugs away as it presents an extra barrier for crimes of opportunities.

    I don’t see why family members need to send off all the way to the platforms. Or they can sell cheap “platform access” tickets…

    Airports and Bus terminals can do this or used to do this because they only have one exit/entry per vehicle, and ticket checking can happen there. A train has multiple entries and need fare-gates to check high volume of passengers, yes, more than Caltrain.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    I only know of two circumstances in which they sell platform access-only tickets. One is in Israel, where they sell tickets just to cross one of the most convenient bridges crossing the Ayalon Freeway from Tel Aviv to Ramat Gan, which is inside fare control. The other is on the Shinkansen platforms in Japan, where they sell tickets to tourists who want to take photos but not ride.

    Spokker Reply:

    You don’t need fare gates for that.

    Richard Mlynarik Reply:

    Objectively measured, the most dangerous thing you’ll encounter on BART are members of the BART Police Department.

    The BART police never go through the fare gates.

    Peter Reply:

    “Objectively measured, the most dangerous thing you’ll encounter on BART are members of the BART Police Department.”

    So, a guy wielding and threatening people with a knife is less dangerous than a trained police officer?

    joe Reply:

    Objectively, Yes. The BART police officer.

    They get excited and easily mixup which is their taser and handgun.

    Spokker Reply:

    Who is “they?” The guy who did that was convicted by a jury of his peers and is no longer with the force.

    Spokker Reply:

    Richard, I knew you liked cum shots to the face.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DGXacJHA8Wo

    joe Reply:

    Out of line, way out of line.

    Spokker Reply:

    Out of line? Toward Richard? *checks wunderground.com* Yup. Hell did freeze over.

  6. Paulus Magnus
    Aug 13th, 2011 at 22:35
    #6

    So, non-BART topic:
    As I understand it, CAHSRA’s planning on only 125mph maximum between LA and Irvine. The trip planner speeds average to 113.6mph on an express between LA and Irvine, 102.6 if you assume an HSR local by manually doing the times from LA-Fullerton/Norwalk-Anaheim-Irvine, a three minute added time to travel. Is that realistic? Not a criticism, simply honest question. Although I would like to know how it is that the distance between Anaheim and Irvine apparently lengthened by 10 miles compared to reality.

    Peter Reply:

    I don’t think Irvine is even in the planning anymore…

    Paulus Magnus Reply:

    Still part of Phase II to my knowledge.

  7. Jerry
    Aug 14th, 2011 at 00:35
    #7

    Most certainly OT, but you gotta see this:
    ‘Transfer Accelerator’ In Utrecht Helps Dutch Passengers Slide To Their Train.
    See it at:
    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/08/13/transfer-accelerator-slide_n_925391.html#s328172

    Only thing better would be a catapult.

    D. P. Lubic Reply:

    Oh, the problems with that here; it wouldn’t be handicapped accessible, somebody who’s too fat would get stuck in the tunnel, the lawyers would complain that the thing had no brakes–and most of all, auto enthusiasts would complain we were making transit too much fun at public expense, with no fares collected, hence requiring more subsidy!

    Ho, ho, ho, ho!

    Andre Peretti Reply:

    I wish the SNCF could install a device to effortlessly propel passengers to TGV front cars.
    When you book late, the only remaining seats will likely be in car N°1, which means a 1/4-mile walk (400m). When you have suitcases + children in tow, it’s interminable.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    Out of curiosity, why is the front car the least busy? Is it because the front car is far away from the main station building?

    Andre Peretti Reply:

    I have no statistics but I suppose that’s the reason. If your seat is in the last car, you can arrive at the station at the last minute. That is only valid for end-of-line stations where the last car is nearest to the station’s entrance (Marseille, for instance). For other stations, the best choice is the middle of the train. Regular users book their seats accordingly, just like Paris metro users choose the car that will will stop in front of the exit leading to the street number they’re going to.
    Occasional users (like myself) and tourists don’t care, provided they get a seat on the upper level of the duplex for the view.
    People travelling for business don’t care for the view and choose the lower floor because they don’t want to be disturbed by passengers walking up and down the aisle. Due to the floor being lower than the bogies, the communication between cars is at the upper level.

    Eric M Reply:

    I have noticed that every time I have taken the TGV from Paris to Switzerland, The first class car is always the farthest away (always on the south side of the train). Could just be a coincidence. But man, what a hoof if you are cutting it close with a lot of luggage!

    D. P. Lubic Reply:

    These comments remind me of an article in Trains magazine; going from memory, it’s the July 1944 issue (which is down in the basement at the moment; I do remember that the cover art features a war bond, not a train). The article was by Al Kalmbach, the founder, publisher, and at that time editor of Trains, and the subject was rail travel in wartime America, i.e., were the trains as overcrowded as the media of the day were suggesting? Kalmbach’s observations were that some trains and routes were crowded, and others were not.

    (One that wasn’t was early in his itinerary, a trip on the Chesapeake & Ohio of Indiana between Hammond and Indianapolis on a little two-car local pulled by a small, old, but fast (and lovingly maintained) Atlantic type locomotive. Although this was C&O’s primary freight route to the Chicago area, most of its through passenger traffic to Chicago actually went via a New York Central line that ran north out of Cincinnati. The little local was the only passenger train on the C&O’s own line, and was apparently a rather informal operation. The train crew and the relatively few passengers stopped in a town for lunch at a local restaurant. The restaurant apparently hadn’t heard about wartime rationing, and presented Kalmach with an enormous amount of food that he couldn’t finish in time. The conductor, watching him and eating his own lunch, told Kalmbach not to worry, the train wouldn’t leave until he, the conductor, said it would leave. Despite a late departure because of this, the speedy little 4-4-2 and its crew got Kalmbach to Indianapolis on schedule.)

    One of the curious things Kalmbach observed was that some people apparently didn’t have the sense to go forward in a train to find a seat. This was at Washington, DC, at the big union station there (it’s still around and in use). This was a trip on what is now the Northeast Corridor on the Pennsylvania Railroad, and the long train (I seem to recall 16 cars) was to depart from one of the stub tracks behind a GG-1 (heavy Pennsy electric). Kalmbach took note of the crowd, saw standees in some of the coaches, and just kept walking until he came to the first car in the train (he may have had to walk part of the way through the train itself, which likely was longer than at least some of the platforms). That first car had hardly anybody in it, and had working air conditioning to boot! The car never did completely fill on the trip to New York. Kalmbach said he never did understand the people he later learned who continued standing when all they had to do was walk forward through the train to find a place to sit.

    I guess some of us Americans have been dumb for a longer time than we care to admit.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    That first car had hardly anybody in it, and had working air conditioning to boot! The car never did completely fill on the trip to New York. Kalmbach said he never did understand the people he later learned who continued standing when all they had to do was walk forward through the train to find a place to sit.

    Wonder what train. I drug out my Official Guide and the through service schedules tout that all trains have Pullman Parlor and Dining Cars. Well except for the one that was all sleeping car. Wasn’t the first car traditionally the parlor car? Can’t sit in the parlor car if you have a coach ticket. … but then I was looking at PRR schedules and he could have been on a B&O train…..if I remember correctly by the 50s the crack express trains of both companies were fully air conditioned and had telephone service.

    D. P. Lubic Reply:

    I’ll have to look up the issue (it’s downstairs), but it was PRR, and the actual date of the trip was perhaps a year earlier than the magazine date, which would have made the journey in 1943.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    Thinking about it, air conditioned=parlor car. Parlor car seats don’t help much if you have a coach ticket.

    D. P. Lubic Reply:

    Adirondacker, you’re terrible! You made me go look in what my wife calls the “musty magazines” file.

    The issue is actually January, 1943, and the cover illustration is a night photo of a steam locomotive numbered 3709, but there is no credit line for the photo, and I can’t quite identify the railroad. . .

    Here is Kalmbach’s itinerary as best I can follow it; it may not be one trip, but a compilation of several trips at different times (forgive me for errors in recollection, I probably haven’t seen this thing in a year):

    Chicago to Hammond, Chicago, South Shore & South Bend (interurban, train number not mentioned, but departure and arrival on time)

    Cab ride across Hammond (and loads of grade crossings) to the Monon station, where he caught C&O No. 18, Hammond to $Richmond, Ind. (this is a correction, not Indianapolis); the lunch was at Peru, Ind.

    Cab ride across Richmond to the Pennsy station, to get on the Pennsylvania Limited; station crowded, train swarming with soldiers, but he got a Pullman berth; train “left” on time, but was delayed 20 minutes just outside the station to cut in a bunch of head-end cars. Heavy freight traffic east of Pittsburgh.

    Next thing he mentions is a 5:00PM “Clocker” at North Philadelphia; train has standees in the middle (fifth and sixth coaches), but walking forward is a modern coach with the air conditioning, no one in it at all, and he rides on “watching the rear end of the GG-1 bob around in front of the door and reflecting on that curious inertia of human nature which causes people to stay in a crowded car rather than walk through the train to find a seat.”

    Next train mentioned is B&O’s National Limited out of Washington, DC; has a Pullman berth reserved two weeks in advance (which was apparently long enough to guarantee it), train is running in two sections, both well filled but not crowded, only “problem” (and Kalmbach didn’t consider it so) was a wait of 15 minutes to get a seat in the diner.

    After a story about an elderly friend who could get nothing from the dining car on an unnamed western train on an unnamed road (the gets to eat when he shares his whiskey with a friendly colonel in the opposite section of his Pullman), there are some general remarks about passenger train operations in the west. According to Kalmbach, the flagships such as the Denver Zephyr run on time, but standard trains such as the Exposition Flyer carry the bulk of the express and furlough traffic, and it is not unusual for them to be four to six hours off schedule.

    In his opinion, Kalmbach thought the most crowded station was the North Shore’s terminal in Milwaukee, which was flooded with Navy recruits returning to the Great Lakes Naval Training Station (was that in Kenosha?) Normal midwestern trains–what we would now call regional corridors, such as between Chicago and Milwaukee–were only occasionally crowded to the point of having standees, but through trains were a different story. He mentions leaving Chicago on the Olympian and having to stand all the way to Milwaukee, where he got off the train and saw a crowd estimated to be another 75 or 100 people waiting to get on. A complication for such trains was that adding an extra car actually required up to six cars to cover all trains running on a route that took three days to cover.

    That’s about it for any details in the article, the rest being more in the way of general comments and anecdotes, such as the soldier and his wife, and another soldier, all of Italian descent, who made a trip on the NYC between Cincinnati and Cleveland shorter with their singing with what he described as “sweet voices.”

    Hope you enjoyed this; wish you had the article itself, bet you would like it.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    Clockers were the New York-Philadelphia trains that left on the hour. Made more stops than the named trains going between NY and DC or Boston and DC. Or the ones going between NY and Chicago or NY and Miami or NY and St Louis or….

    Emma Reply:

    What about friction? What if it rains? I guess you could put up a sign saying “At your own risk.”
    The only folks benefiting from this are going to be all the skateboarders breaking their necks on the accelerator. Maybe that’s the goal?

    I personally have been think about rollercoasters as possible forms of public transportation. But then I thought some people couldn’t handle the stress.

    D. P. Lubic Reply:

    “I personally have been think about rollercoasters as possible forms of public transportation. But then I thought some people couldn’t handle the stress.”–Emma

    Something like that has already been done, and early on, too! This was the once-famous “Gravity Railroad” of the Delaware & Hudson Canal Company, a predecessor to today’s Delaware & Hudson Railway. The Gravity Railroad has been cited by at least one roller-coaster historian as a roller-coaster type ride. At least two passenger cars survive today–an amazing fact considering that the operation ended in January of 1899!

    http://www.trainweb.org/dhvm/

    http://www.trainweb.org/dhvm/dhcc_gravity.htm

    http://www.trainweb.org/dhvm/photographs/gravity/photographs_passenger.htm

    D. P. Lubic Reply:

    A bit more on the “Gravity Railroad.”

    Click on the photo for an enlarged view, and check out how primitive the equipment was:

    http://www.neagle.com/highlight/x1799247394/Hawley-s-roller-coaster-rail-days

    The D&H wasn’t alone:

    http://explorepahistory.com/hmarker.php?markerId=1-A-C2

    http://www.switchbackgravityrr.org/sbhist.htm

    D. P. Lubic Reply:

    “Why let coal have all the fun?”

    http://www.catskillarchive.com/rrextra/swback.Html

    http://www.pabook.libraries.psu.edu/palitmap/Switchback.html

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    DH the D&H more less ceased to exist in 1968. It’s passed through a lot of hands since and now is CP’s

  8. morris brown
    Aug 14th, 2011 at 12:08
    #8

    Assemblyman Jerry Hill (Democrat — San Mateo) was on KPIX-tv (CBS) this AM.

    This 5 minute segment with Phil Matier can be viewed at:

    http://sanfrancisco.cbslocal.com/video/6150960-is-high-speed-rail-stopped-dead-in-its-tracks/

    Arthur Dent Reply:

    Whoa. The winds are shifting in Sacramento. @2:15

    Admiral Brown: The wind’s coming up and the glass is falling. Don’t like the look of it.
    Foamer Banks: Good. Good, good.
    Admiral Brown: Shouldn’t wonder if you weren’t steering into a nasty piece of weather. Banks! Do you hear me?

  9. th3gtryt
    Aug 14th, 2011 at 12:41
    #9

    Anybody read the huge section about HSR in the SF Chronicle today? As usual, there were those who said that we cannot afford this project. Those people have not looked at the cost and greater impact of building 3,000 lane-miles of highway, longer runways, and expanded airport gates to handle the greater transportation demands of the coming decades. High-speed rail can provide the capacity of all those things, at a fraction of the cost.
    I’m getting a little worried about those NIMBYs on the penninsula getting their way. Imagine HSR trains having to share tracks with Caltrains. That would definitely reduce service frequency from SF to SJ.
    Remember, what separated the Shinkansen from other fast trains in 1964 was that it was an entirely new system dedicated to high-speed trains. The route was completely grade separated and employed tunnels, viaducts, and bridges to maintain a relatively straight and level right-of-way. No other local or freight trains, cars, or people would get in the way of the high-speed trains. Hideo Shima, former chief engineer of Japan National Railway and the technical father of the Shinkansen, said upon the 30th anniversary of the Tokaido Shinkansen,

    “There seems to be a kind of competition around the world today to achieve ever higher railway speed. Personally, I think they are making a mistake targeting their sights always on faster and faster speed alone. Instead of speed, other countries should try instead to emulate the Shinkansen’s remarkable frequency of train headway.
    Frequency, I believe, is far more vital than higher speed. For unless you boost operation frequency, you can’t reduce passenger fares and attract more customers.
    From now on, the first priorities of train transport must be low energy, safety and comfort.”

    A shared right-of-way with Caltrains and HSR is going to impede high frequency service. It could end up like the Acela Express, what people call America’s high-speed rail, but not true high-speed rail.

  10. Emma
    Aug 14th, 2011 at 12:43
    #10

    Look. Things would be a lot easier if the McCain-Feingold Act would have passed. Fewer politicians would be bribed by the oil and car industry = less trouble with NIMBYs.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    McCain-Feingold did pass. It didn’t do anything to reform lobbying; it limited campaign finance contributions, leading to the formation of 527s to get through the loopholes.

    Andre Peretti Reply:

    The French haven’t been long to imitate 527s. We now have a lot of non-profit associations mostly masquerading as cultural organizations or associations for the defense of this or that. They can legally receive donations from anybody. Their political color is easy to determine but proving organic connections with any existing party is next to impossible.

  11. morris brown
    Aug 14th, 2011 at 18:51
    #11

    On Clem’s Blog:

    http://caltrain-hsr.blogspot.com/

    Clem has just posted a thoughtful new article

    Corridor Capacity Study, Free Edition

    analyzing the capacity of the CalTrain corridor, if dedicated tracks for HSR are not built (ie the blended/phased approach).

  12. peninsula
    Aug 14th, 2011 at 20:40
    #12

    http://www.fresnobee.com/2011/08/13/2498828/high-speed-rail-plan-impacts-valley.html

    ‘scootching’ 6 lane hwy 99 over by 100 feet permanent road closures, industry impacts… very interesting reading here. Were these mitigation costs assumed in this proposed segment cost total? Or do they assume Caltrans or local governments are going pay to entirely remodel their communities to make way for HSR?

    Paulus Magnus Reply:

    Or do they assume Caltrans or local governments are going pay to entirely remodel their communities to make way for HSR?

    Completely remodel? Did you even take a gander at it on Google Maps? It’s a pretty minimalistic move without much impact on folks.

    thatbruce Reply:

    The rail authority estimates it would cost about $142 million to rebuild the two-mile portion of freeway.

    $42mil per rail mile, vs $71mil per road mile. Interesting.

    Richard Mlynarik Reply:

    Not very interesting, at least not in the direction I believe you may be implying. (If you’re not suggesting “HSR is CHEEEEEEAP by comparison with the evil peak oil Koch Industries freeway”, then my apologies.)

    Rebuilding (Hwy 99) is always far more expensive than greenfield/brownfield (HSR) construction: detours, traffic management, shift work, more and higher safety requirements. CHSR/PBQD is grossly overpriced by this standard.

    The civil work (shoving earth around, constructing bridges, etc) scales pretty much directly with area. A six lane freeway with median and side clearances is several times wider than a two track rail line with side clearances. CHSR/PBQD is extraordinarily overpriced by this standard.

    This freeway reconstruction involves interchanges, not just “plain track”. Again, CHSRA/PBQD comes off badly by comparison. (They both involve underpasses and overpasses, shorter and cheaper ones in the rail case.)

    Yes, rail construction does involve stringing overhead wire (not that much different in civil engineering terms from freeway overhead lighting) and track laying (not a huge percentage cost given the ridiculous CHSRA/PBQD total per-mile system costs), signalling/SCADA (a couple million a mile by normal standards) and proportional allocations of system-wide traction, control, etc systems.

    All in all, and by any non-UK, non-exceptional-engineering rail standard, and even in comparison with Caltrans freeway civils costs, CHSRA/PBQD is coming in at about twice what anybody could possibly defend with a clear conscience.

    HSR is valuable, but not infinitely so.

    political_incorrectness Reply:

    That is where I find issue with the cost estimates, based off the rest of the world, CHSRA/PBQD estimates are world class high. Is it due to the exclusivity of PBQD in the project? How does RFF do a HS train project when it comes to such?

Comments are closed.