CA4HSR, NARP, and Midwest HSR Association Issue Joint Letter

Jan 31st, 2012 | Posted by

Californians For  High Speed Rail (CA4HSR) issued a press release and joint letter today with the National Association of Railroad Passengers (NARP) and the Midwest High Speed Rail Association in support of Governor Brown’s efforts to push the California project forward this year in the Central Valley, while also urging him to work to accelerate HSR-related projects in the urban areas. Our partner organizations realize as we do, that California’s project must move forward if we are to have a national program of true HSR in the near future.

CA4HSR realizes the need for folks all around the state to participate in and benefit from the high-speed rail project in the near-term. We are encouraged about what we are hearing so far from the Governor’s office in terms of how to rethink the project to garner more support, save on costs, and accelerate benefits throughout the state. CA4HSR has recently been more aggressively in advocating for near-term investments in the “bookends” due to the longer time frame envisioned in bringing HSR to the major urban areas. Of course our recent efforts to promote such urban projects is not at the expense of the Central Valley. CA4HSR still strongly supports moving forward in the Central Valley without delay.

Our hope is that this joint letter will provide more impetus in getting stakeholders around the state to come together to improve the current project by moving forward with the Central Valley section while at the same time figuring out ways to get more money to the major urban areas earlier for projects in corridors where HSR trains will eventually travel.

  1. VBobier
    Jan 31st, 2012 at 20:25

    Well as long as it’s not at the expense of the CV, I’m Ok with this, As the CV must go on to be the 1st segment built.

  2. Donk
    Jan 31st, 2012 at 20:44

    Top 5 names for the ICS train in the Central Valley:

    1. Meth Express
    2. High Speed Speed
    3. San Smog-quins
    4. Meth-roliner
    5. Synonymouse Express

    Jack Reply:

    Yep were all just meth-heads here. . .

    Spokker Reply:

    synonymouse Reply:

    @ Spokker

    Good to see you back. I linked this article last week but no one seemed to notice. I guess I have ranted so much as to become marginal.

    Every effort to “influence peddle” the hsr project only serves to undermine it by reducing its viability and abetting distrust and rivalry between the regions. I was actually beginning to like LA for not falling into the Bechtel pit but this Tejon is radioactive crap makes me want to chew the carpet.

    Spokker Reply:

    I’m surprised Breaking Bad took place in New Mexico and not the Central Valley.

    Though I guess they wanted to be close to the border for obvious reasons.

    synonymouse Reply:

    New Mexico has been dealing with a serious heroin problem, as I recall, for some time now. And always booze.

    Speed has been around forever, but this “shake and bake” synthesis is something I never heard of before.

    Donk Reply:

    Sorry Jack, but unfortunately the only news coming out of the CV is about meth heads and smog.

    Drunk Engineer Reply:

    6. Fresno Area Rapid Transit

    swing hanger Reply:

    7. Raisin Rocket

    Tom McNamara Reply:

    8. The Ghost of Tom Joad

    9. Victor David Hanson Express

    10. Charlie’s Choo-Choo

    11. The Call of the Wild

    12. The Pueblo Jumper

    13. Upton, Downtown

    14. Mulholland Drive

    15. The Bee Line

    16. Chicken Run….

    (Okay, I’ll stop now…)

    VBobier Reply:

    15. The Bee Line

    I like that one, has a certain Ring to It…

  3. Roger Christensen
    Jan 31st, 2012 at 21:14

    KMJ Fresno right wing radio had some HSR insanity recently. Devin Nunes on the Ray Appleton talk show stated that “Obama wants to control the masses by forcing them on to trains as part of his socialist vision”.
    The next day, referencing a Jerry Brown proposal to cut funding for animal shelters, Appleton stated Brown’s priorities meant that HSR funding was killing puppies.

    joe Reply:

    George Will said the same thing about socialist rail and was later seen by Paul Krugman exiting a socialist train.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    Not only that but a proletarian train – a Regional.

    joe Reply:

    Segue to “Lara’s Theme”

    Alon Levy Reply:

    Yeah, but he was riding in the business class car.

    Nathanael Reply:

    Couldn’t afford Acela? He really should know better than to call trains “socialist”.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    Acela only stops at select stations. He may have been originating at a station that isn’t served by Acela. or at one that gets skipped at the time he was departing.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    Most likely the most convenient departure or arrival was a Regional. Or maybe he was at a Regional-only stop – maybe Newark Airport.

  4. Missiondweller
    Jan 31st, 2012 at 21:24

    Very cool. Read this:

    However, the San Francisco County Transportation Authority, a local transit planning agency, said construction in the Bay Area could coincide with the beginning of work in the Central Valley.

    For around $4.5 billion, the high-speed rail network could be built in the region, connecting passengers from the Transbay Transit Center to San Jose, said Jose Luis Moscovich, executive director of the SFCTA.

    This proposal, called the “Fast Start” network by the SFCTA, would involve a blended approach in the Peninsula, where high-speed rail trains would share an electrified trackway with Caltrain. It would also include a tunnel underneath the SoMa district to connect with the Transbay Transit Center.

    Read more at the San Francisco Examiner:

    Eric M Reply:

    That is good. Construction can be contagious. Once the valley starts, the ball will get rolling elsewhere and the NIMBY’s realize this. That is why there is a concerted effort from the group in Burlingame to spread lies and false info to get the train stopped before it starts.

    joe Reply:

    Construction can be contagious. Once the valley starts, the ball will get rolling elsewhere and the NIMBY’s realize this.

    Objections vary. Some are not NIMBY but hate Gov’t projects period.

    Some live near the tracks and don’t want their Backyard BBQs disturbed by construction.

    I think there’s a fraction of entitled folk who are used to getting something free for any development or construction – Stanford’s newspaper complained about the kickbacks – money given to local cities for “Mitigate Traffic” which amounts to EIR extortion. (see Menlo Park getting 3.5 M for traffic mitigation of Stanford’s Hospital expansion).

    So maybe the biggest NIMBY objection in the Peninsula is CA will improve Caltrain and let HSR go forward without paying these cities “mitigation” money. It’s a great racket and since HSR is important, it must be worth tens of millions to hold up and extort CA taxpayers.

    BTW Stanford’s paper wants a HSR station in PA.

    Missiondweller Reply:

    I still wonder if a lot of the opposition is purely aesthetics. They don’t want something that looks like a freeway. Maybe if an elevated line looked more like the gentle arches of Stanford (similar to some places in Europe where its an aquaduct look) they might have another view.

    Tom McNamara Reply:

    Yeah, “aesthetics”.

    The Brutalist, concrete style of post-war construction was really about penning in blacks that had infiltrated previously white and/or Japanese neighborhoods (at least in California). The 110 freeway, for example, was supposed to separate black neighborhoods “South on Central” with Crenshaw and then Hyde Park.

    So too, do you hear the complaints about the smell of “pee” and other um, urban realities, as a reason not to extend BART, etc. etc. I’ve seen plenty of homeless guys riding MUNI, but none on PB’s ode to glory.

    I don’t blame Peninsula people for not wanting ugly concrete…but you don’t throw out the baby with the bathwater, either.

    synonymouse Reply:

    I would nominate the SF TransAmerica shaft as brutalism on parade. The fact that Gold Rush-era buildings were demolished to pave the way for it enforces the modernizer message of flattening all that is decorative and on a human scale.

    Tom McNamara Reply:

    One of the things that convinced me to switch jobs recently is that cities with high concentrations of historic neighborhoods are probably in better shape in attracting wealthier people back downtown.

    Still, the lost of Jackson Square hurts.

    J. Wong Reply:

    There’s still a lot of historic buildings around the TransAmerica pyramid in what is known as the Jackson Square neighborhood.

    Michael Reply:

    You’ve never seen “urban realities” on BART? Wow. I’ve seen worse “leftovers” on BART than ever on MUNI. Also, BART gets it fair share of stinky bums.

    Tom McNamara Reply:

    I don’t live in the Bay Area, though. And BART doesn’t have an honor system for fares, and the fares aren’t exactly cheap….

    J. Wong Reply:

    It’s only a $1.75 for some stops. You can get on at Civic Center and ride all the way to the end in Pittsburgh (Calif.) and back to Powell Street for $1.75. Nice warm ride and nap for a couple of hours.

    Tom McNamara Reply:

    True, I hadn’t thought of that. I wonder what happens when do that but board and alight at the same station? Do you pay $99.99??

    Richard Mlynarik Reply:

    I bet it never ever ever ever ever occurred to you that anybody can jump or bypass the Magic Total Security gates at any time, either, did it?

    Tom McNamara Reply:

    I bet you hop the gate out of principal alone…

    joe Reply:

    Aesthetics maybe – certainly that’s a NIMBY concern but the City usually approves a project as does Menlo Park. The 5B Hospital Expansion for example.

    Standford has complained that every project requires they pay local cities, such as Palo Alto, some large mitigation fee. The newspaper also claims, correctly, this payment doesn’t mitigate the problem.

    Menlo Park settled for 3.5M for traffic mitigation. I assure you my friends who live there know damn well the mitigation money isn’t solving the problem – it’s a revenue stream.

    IMHO, CA HSR is being held up until there is some massive Palo Alto pay-off TBD. It’s against their DNA to approve anything without extorting money. Like doing business in Nigeria.

    Missiondweller Reply:

    Now that I can believe.

    Nathanael Reply:

    So which cities have this attitude? Just the Peninsula? Would the 2nd Transbay Tube scheme have avoided the bribe-demanding cities, or is the East Bay just as bad?

    synonymouse Reply:

    Aerials present a very real public safety and law enforcement problem. This is not NIMBY paranoia. Blight is a genuine problem with any structure that provides a cover for low lifes to hang out:

    Check out the video entitled “SF homeless encampments suspected of environmental damage”

    Aerials entail extra costs and headaches for the local governments and need to be kept to a minimum.

    Nathanael Reply:

    Aerials are only a problem if empty space is left under them.

    There are several ways to avoid this:
    (1) Run the lines over streets, Chicago El style. (Only with sound-insulating concrete rather than rattling metal).
    (2) Build business buildings into and under the elevated — Victorian style; brick archway elevateds often had long rows of shops, one under each arch.
    (3) Run the elevated *really* high over a park which is well-used.

    The key is to always have something active *under* the elevated line, not vacant space. If you can’t figure out how to do that effectively, a berm is better.

    Nathanael Reply:

    Really high over active agricultural land works too.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    Really high is expensive. Better would be to run it like the 7 in Sunnyside, on concrete arches. The 7 leaves the space under it empty, and mostly used for parking, but it could also be used for shops.

    YesonHSR Reply:

    Thank you..Eric..those pigs in Burlingame are behind alot of the lies and news horror stories ..where the Occupy Movement should be is PA /Menlo/ Burlingame…

    synonymouse Reply:

    Did “those pigs in Burlingame” slap an embargo on any rail line in their area?

    StevieB Reply:

    Jose Luis Moscovich, executive director of the TA, is overly optimistic about private funding for what is basically commuter rail.

    The TA is still trying to determine how much funding would be available for the project, but Moscovich said private groups would be interested in backing the endeavor.

    Where in the US has private money gone into commuter rail in this century?

    Mike Reply:

    “Overly optimistic” is a polite way to put it. “Smoking crack” is more like it. There is absolutely zero private funding coming to a stand-alone Caltrain/transbay extension project. Private financing is a different story, but financing (i.e, how to turn known future money into construction today) has never been the challenge.

    Nathanael Reply:

    The only way private *funding* (as opposed to *financing*, which is easy) will come to a passenger rail project is if a business decides they need it to bring employees to work.

    This has happened before and it could well happen again, if we get any businesses run by forward-thinking people. But that seems unlikely.

    synonymouse Reply:

    And the money for the TBT Tunnel is coming from where? Remember this is all too similar to the plan that was killed by BART-MTC in 1991? Willing to entertain proof they are still not opposed to it? Remember Kopp only a little while ago wanted to terminate at 4th and Townsend.

    Clem Reply:

    MTC recently performed a cost-benefit analysis that concluded that the DTX was a waste of money, worse than a lot of BART projects.

    synonymouse Reply:

    @ Clem

    Could we get MTC to perform a similar cost-benefit analysis on the Grand Detour?

    3.3% on a freight route(Eastern orientation at Mojave)and still incompatible with freight?

    Please teleport me to the parallel universe where eminent domain is exploited for its intended purpose.

    Peter Reply:

    Kopp’s gone now, as are most of the Board from his time.

    synonymouse Reply:

    But the Kopp mindset is still clearly and surely alive and well at MTC.

    Richard Mlynarik Reply:

    Kopp’s go-to boy and former staffer Steve “inexplicably not yet indicted” Heminger runs MTC as a persona fiefdom, and treats BATA (with its hundreds of millions of state toll bridge revenues) as a personal piggy bank slush fund for enriching specific contracts and contractors.

  5. D. P. Lubic
    Jan 31st, 2012 at 21:33

    Sounds like David Nunes reads George Will:

    Of course, some of the follow-up commentary is equally entertaining, or at least the titles are, such as “Dagney Taggart Wept:”

    The people who call themselves “conservatives” these days must make Bill Lind and the late Paul Weyrich (Free Congress Foundation) weep:

    D. P. Lubic Reply:

    More fun with feedback on that George Will column:

    Check out the “individualistic” American motor vehicle in this one:

    Just a couple of others:

    D. P. Lubic Reply:

    Of course, George Will was for trains before he was against them:

    I say, the crowd that calls itself “conservative” looks nuttier by the day. . .

    Alon Levy Reply:

    Big chunks of the GOP were for trains until Obama started supporting HSR. Even now you’ll see some conservatives support trains but oppose HSR, for example William Lind (who is to my knowledge the only person outside the rail geek set who’s said anything about FRA regulations). But up until 2009, it was much more widespread. I could totally envision Will and also Robert Samuelson write paeans to HSR starting in the Northeast. Hell, Newt Gingrich wanted the US to build maglev.

    Joe Reply:

    Right, the HSR opposition is reactionary. It is nihilism.

    Did you know the GOP is against regulating pythons which are decimating the everglades. Again, they do the opposite.

    synonymouse Reply:

    The nannies want to eliminate all pets, period. As it is animal importation from Africa is banned, AFAIK. So you cannot get a Shaw’s jird, which by all reports makes an excellent pet.

    Remember in all this controversy homo sapiens are the most notorious and rapacious non-native species of all.

    I suspect that a number of those alarmed at the disappearance of small mammals would regard these same animals as “vermin” and “pests” in their own backyard. Lot of hypocrisy on the part of limousine nannies.

    I dunno if the Burmese reticulated pythons can live farther north. Be interesting if they arrive in Tennessee, which supposedly has an incredibly dense snake population. Copperheads, I believe.

    Nathanael Reply:

    I’m quite fond of having a backyard full of small rodents and birds. Can’t speak for anyone else. I like snakes too — as long as they’re not disrupting the ecology.

    synonymouse Reply:

    My neighbor wants me to kill the gophers but I won’t do it. W have a very large raccoon that hand out – I think it ran off the possums and skunks.

    synonymouse Reply:

    should read hangs out.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    It’s not hypocrisy at all. Good ecosphere maintenance means not causing mass extinctions. Species can be critical to the biosphere while still being pests for humans. Some mosquitos keep other pest populations in check. Bacteria are more crucial to the ecosphere than the higher species, but they don’t belong in human bloodstreams.

    synonymouse Reply:

    survival of the fittest

    “Growth” introduces the greatest threat of “mass extinctions”.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    Yep, survival of the fittest – and besides, it’s fun.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    The Republicans who supported rail began to wander off to spend more time with their family years ago. There are almost none left.

    The other Republicans have been out to kill off passenger trains since Nixon signed the legislation creating Amtrak. They fully expected trains to disappear by 1975 or so.

  6. D. P. Lubic
    Jan 31st, 2012 at 23:11

    Off topic but of interest to political junkies–Fox News is destroying the Republican party, conservatives despondent, alarmed, and spooked:

    Flipping around on links, you find other things, including another commentary on why “conservatives” hate HSR:

  7. D. P. Lubic
    Jan 31st, 2012 at 23:21

    Off topic again, but perhaps of interest anyway–conservative objections and responses to them as provided by the APTA (American Public Transit Association). This is a new paper, with a publication date of January 2012:

    One item I noticed while skimming over was this one, on page 41:

    “On the aviation side, the Government Accountability Office notes that the amount of general funds added to the aviation trust fund on an annual basis has grown steadily over the past decade even as the fund’s uncommitted balance has declined.”

    This statement seems to be in contradiction to SR’s comments about air service paying its way. I do wonder where the material cited by the GAO is coming from–and I also wonder if the GAO, like the California LAO, may be in over its head in an area in which it may not have sufficient expertise.

    D. P. Lubic Reply:

    On this one, the subject is climate change, but the technique of defining “dogs” may be useful–and in a way, is touched upon in the APTA paper linked above:

    Sobering Reality Reply:

    Yeah, they shouldn’t have skimmed on their work. Especially when it’s here for all to see:

    General fund vs AATF contributions since 2004. Pretty flat save for the Obama job creation programs (Other). AATF amounts track right with the economic cycle:

    Year: General: Other: AATF (user fees):

    2004 $3.0 $- $10.80
    2005 $2.8 $- $11.20
    2006 $1.5 $- $11.80
    2007 $2.7 $- $11.10
    2008 $2.4 $- $12.40
    2009 $3.8 $- $11.98
    2010 $3.0 $1.0 $10.20
    2011 $2.3 $3.0 $10.80
    2012 $2.3 $3.0 $10.90

    The FRA is a little less forthcoming in their historical budget, but they get about $4 billion this year plus you have to figure in whatever Amtrak gets. What is that now, a billion a year?

    Sobering Reality Reply:

    2009 was actually $2.8 billion plus $1 billion in stimulus as was the case in the 2010 (1 B), 2011 (3 B) and 2012 (3 B) budgets. Now that the FAA actually has a “passed” budget for the first time in what 5 years?

    joe Reply:

    The FAA budget is not the total sum spent on the air transportation system – not by a long shot.
    You even need to factor in tax breaks given to the airlines. Oh and what is this bankruptcy thing they all keep on experiencing – what’s the bill for taxpayers when the airlines dump pensions? And they don’t seem to pay much corporate tax.

    July 09, 2011

    Atlanta’s corporate giants pay widely varying tax rates to Uncle Sam under a murky system that allows companies to reap tax benefits from mergers, overseas expansions and other moves.

    Some cut their taxes the hard way. Delta Air Lines expects to pay no federal income taxes for several years, it said in regulatory filings, because of tax credits stemming from huge losses in recent years.

    And the manufacturer Boeing didn’t pay a cent in tax.
    Exxon Mobile, supplier of fuel paid no tax.
    GE which makes jet engines paid no tax.

    It is a cost recovery industry from top to bottom. Thank god customers get saddled with the fees and taxes.

    Sobering Reality Reply:

    When was the last time Amtrak paid taxes – or contributed anything to the FAR budget? When has any public transit system paid taxes? What taxes will the CA HSR system pay?

    I’m pretty sure were were discussing incorrect comments about the FAA budget.

    Moving on.

    joe Reply:

    Yes, when was the last time the EPA or DOD paid taxes? How astute.

    Let’s repeat Delta Airlines expects to pay 0.00 in taxes. Boeing who builds the plane paid 10.00 in taxes, Exxon-Mobile who fueled the planes paid 0.00 in taxes.

    “On the aviation side, the Government Accountability Office notes that the amount of general funds added to the aviation trust fund on an annual basis has grown steadily over the past decade even as the fund’s uncommitted balance has declined.”

    This statement seems to be in contradiction to SR’s comments about air service paying its way.

    The airline industry is obviously heavily subsidized. Based on taxes, you’d think shutting down these oil, manufacturer and airline corporations would be doing shareholders a service. They are obviously profitable but don’t pay their way.

    Sobering Reality Reply:

    I have a better idea. Raise Amtrak fares by $32 on average. The rest of us won’t have to chip in $1 billion a year. In return, the FED can increase airline ticket taxes by $3 and eliminate the general fund contribution.

    Problem solved.

    Also, you’re obviously a broken record.

    egk Reply:

    Because of the nice Judicial record we know that until 1962 DC Transit was making profits (and paying taxes). [That was the year that rail transit was eliminated in Washington DC – by Congressional action, not free-market mechanism, incidentally.

    synonymouse Reply:

    And of course they had to cope with the extra complexity of the slot and plow current pickup requirements in the downtown area to avoid wires. Overdone IMHO.

    Johnstown Traction Co. managed to operate a small streetcar system and with PCC’s. Story goes it made enough money during gas-rationed WWII to purchase new cars in 1947.

    Really cool line with backyard ROW like the J in SF. Did not have a chance in the hyper anti-rail early sixties.

    StevieB Reply:

    Exhibit II-4 shows more general fund money for the FAA than you do.

    [General] $5,351,400,000 $5,350,028,000 $8,215,000,000
    [AATF] $10,239,815,000 $10,826,703,000 $10,442,000,000 The difference in 2012 appears to be a mandatory $3 billion Grants in Aid for Airports from the general fund. The FAA certainly has some hefty subsidies.

    Sobering Reality Reply:

    You get that part Mandatory? Its from stimulus. No one asked for it.

    Nathanael Reply:

    You bet people asked for it. Get a clue.

    Grants in Aid for Airports comes when airports (always unprofitable) want more money….

    I’m OK with subsidizing airports, but it’s time for people like you to stop lying. Airports are subsidized. Time to admit it.

    Sobering Reality Reply:

    Sorry charlie. Annual reports say otherwise. Moving on.

    Sobering Reality Reply:

    Also, most consider it pay back for the $12 billion the FAA wasted from the AATF from about 1986 to 2002 on programs that never came to fruition. The grants are being used ot pay for NextGen upgrades.

    Of course, O’Hare is like a big funnel when it comes to stimulus:

    So I guess it’s more of a kickback to Chicago than it is stimulus.

    Sobering Reality Reply:

    Just for you Nate (this has just been updated so it doesn’t show 2007 being converted to 2015):—-000-.html

    48114. Funding for aviation programs

    (a) Authorization of Appropriations.—

    (1) Airport and airway trust fund guarantee.—

    (A) In general.— The total budget resources made available from the Airport and Airway Trust Fund each fiscal year through fiscal year 2007 pursuant to sections 48101, 48102, 48103, and 106 (k) of title 49, United States Code, shall be equal to the level of receipts plus interest credited to the Airport and Airway Trust Fund for that fiscal year. Such amounts may be used only for aviation investment programs listed in subsection (b).

    (B) Guarantee.— No funds may be appropriated or limited for aviation investment programs listed in subsection (b) unless the amount described in subparagraph (A) has been provided.

    (2) Additional authorizations of appropriations from the general fund.— In any fiscal year through fiscal year 2007 (now 2015), if the amount described in paragraph (1) is appropriated, there is further authorized to be appropriated from the general fund of the Treasury such sums as may be necessary for the Federal Aviation Administration Operations account. Not airports

    (b) Definitions.— In this section, the following definitions apply:

    (1) Total budget resources.— The term “total budget resources” means the total amount made available from the Airport and Airway Trust Fund for the sum of obligation limitations and budget authority made available for a fiscal year for the following budget accounts that are subject to the obligation limitation on contract authority provided in this title and for which appropriations are provided pursuant to authorizations contained in this title:

    (A) 69–8106–0–7–402 (Grants in Aid for Airports).
    (B) 69–8107–0–7–402 (Facilities and Equipment).
    (C) 69–8108–0–7–402 (Research and Development).
    (D) 69–8104–0–7–402 (Trust Fund Share of Operations).

    (2) Level of receipts plus interest.— The term “level of receipts plus interest” means the level of excise taxes and interest credited to the Airport and Airway Trust Fund under section 9502 of the Internal Revenue Code of 1986 for a fiscal year as set forth in the President’s budget baseline projection as defined in section 257 of the Balanced Budget and Emergency Deficit Control Act of 1985 (Public Law 99–177) (Treasury identification code 20–8103–0–7–402) for that fiscal year submitted pursuant to section 1105 of title 31, United States Code.

    (c) Enforcement of Guarantees.— (1) Total airport and airway trust fund funding.— It shall not be in order in the House of Representatives or the Senate to consider any bill, joint resolution, amendment, motion, or conference report that would cause total budget resources in a fiscal year for aviation investment programs described in subsection (b) to be less than the amount required by subsection (a)(1)(A) for such fiscal year.

    (2) Capital priority.— It shall not be in order in the House of Representatives or the Senate to consider any bill, joint resolution, amendment, motion, or conference report that provides an appropriation (or any amendment thereto) for any fiscal year through fiscal year 2007 for Research and Development or Operations if the sum of the obligation limitation for Grants-in-Aid for Airports and the appropriation for Facilities and Equipment for such fiscal year is below the sum of the authorized levels for Grants-in-Aid for Airports and for Facilities and Equipment for such fiscal year.

    Sobering Reality Reply:

    Of course when a bunch of rail supporters want to be able to point their finger at another system and say they get a subsidy the best way to make their argument is force a subsidy on them.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    I don’t know about other rail supporters, but I’ve pointed out hypocrisy on Amtrak’s part when it excludes any and all capital funding and other so-called special cases from its expenses in order to be able to claim higher cost recovery.

    Sobering Reality Reply:

    I think that’s the issue that drives people nuts the most.

    Its my primary beef with HSR. A $98 billion check for one system in one state without any plan to really repay that check and then try to claim “oh it’ll make a profit”.

    JFH Reply:

    I know of a voluntary subsidy that several passenger airlines happily take: EAS (~$183m in 2011).

    Gasp! Private industry receives a subsidy to move passengers from rural locations? How could this be allowed? Rail requiring an operating subsidy is bad, yet airlines requiring an operating subsidy is okay?

    Apparently Merced, CA is an EAS airport. Where are the subsidized flights from Merced to? LAX. Great Lakes Airlines gets almost $2m/year to move passengers between the cities.

    So, again I ask my question: It’s okay for an airline to get a subsidy to move passengers between the two cities (the majority of these passengers will be connecting to other flights), yet it’s not okay for rail to receive any form of subsidy to move passengers between Merced and the rest of California?

    Sobering Reality Reply:

    EAS money comes the AATF. The AATF receives its money from aviation fuel taxes, passenger fees and air freight bills. This generates between $10 and 11 billion a year in trust fund revenue:

    Helps to read the fine print.

    Rail is getting a subsidy, it’s $9 billion from California taxpayers alone, plus an additional $6 billion from the FED. The problem is they want a $98 billion subsidy for one route in one state. It’s the quantity of it that is the problem.

    JFH Reply:

    I understand where the money comes from for EAS, thank you.

    I responded to your comment suggesting that subsidies for aviation are foisted upon the industry, which is absolutely not true. I have given an example to show this. The government raises revenue to fund an otherwise not profitable set of flights. Several of the airlines that take these operating subsidies simply wouldn’t exist without the EAS. Somehow this is acceptable for airlines, but not for other forms of transportation, including rail?

    I never mentioned infrastructure subsidies because governments cover construction costs for all sorts of transportation. Highways receive a portion of their funding from the General Fund. Cities pay for sidewalks which allow us to travel around on foot. Airports are frequently built or expanded through the sale of bonds (that sounds familiar…), but have also received money from ARRA and TIGER. So why shouldn’t various ways be used to subsidize the construction of HSR?

    Finally, it seems incredibly disingenuous to claim that CAHSR is “one route” in the same sense that MCE-LAX is one route. If MCE-LAX and the return LAX-MCE is one route, then with the full buildout of CAHSR, it will have 276 routes (24 nCr 2). San Francisco-Merced is a different route than Stockton-Bakersfield, etc.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    Cities pay for sidewalks which allow us to travel around on foot.

    Most places, but not all places, the sidewalk is the responsibility of the property owner.

    Nathanael Reply:

    Damn, so the airline system receives more subsidy THROUGH THE FAA ALONE than Amtrak receives per year? Good to know!

    Sobering Reality Reply:

    Well not really, $2 billion barely covers regulatory oversight and the cost of supporting military aircraft operations in the NAS which consumes 7% of air traffic resources, or about $1 billion a year.

    That said, you want to compare apples to oranges, Amtrak got $1 billion for 30 million pax. Aviation got $2.8 billion for 965 million pax.

    Sobering Reality Reply:

    Well, that’s not really apples and oranges. A government agency got $2 billion to do its regulatory job Amtrak got a billion for doing nothing.

    Nathanael Reply:

    Mmm-hmm. The airline system receives more subsidy THROUGH THE FAA ALONE, for utterly useless military aircraft operations, than Amtrak receives per year.

    Amtrak got $1 billion to provide a national transportation need; the FAA got $1 billion to provide utterly useless cold-war-relic military garbage, and more to subsidize passenger airline traffic. And that’s before we get into the subsidies for small airports….

    Sobering Reality Reply:

    So the government doesn’t have any financial obligation to pay for regulatory oversight? Is that your assertion? Because with the cost of providing air traffic control to the military, that’s’ what the roughly $2.8 billion covers – that and bloated bureaucrat benefits

    Nice ass clown comments about the military. Loser.

  8. Peter
    Feb 1st, 2012 at 06:59

    OT: Does anyone know what cab signaling system is used by TriMet’s Westside Express Service?

    Nathanael Reply:

    A really unusual one (in that I’ve never heard the brand name before). Look in the FRA dockets for PTC — every railroad was required to submit a PTC compliance plan, and TriMet’s compliance plan for WES details the cab signalling system they use.

    Peter Reply:

    Thanks! I just wish the FRA’s website wasn’t so difficult to maneuver.

    Peter Reply:

    It appears to be a GE product, “GE Transportation Systems’ Ultra CAB II (UCII)”. They were already basically compliant with the PTC mandate since its inception, from what I can tell.

    Nathanael Reply:

    Yep. The submission basically said “This is what we use and it’s already a PTC system”.

  9. Sobering Reality
    Feb 1st, 2012 at 07:44

    Thank god customers get saddled with the fees and taxes.

    I agree. Which is why all rail users in the country should pay into a trust fund as airline passengers do, utilizing a visible tax structure, so that it is clearly understood that transportation has a cost. A 10% tax on fares should do it, or they can adopt a roughly 15% rate like air passengers. Of course you don’t want that, you just want the blank check for $100 billion.

    While we’re on the subject of taxation, anyone with an income should pay a minimum tax – even if its as little as 5% – so that they understand that government and the services it provides is not free. That message isn’t heard by 49% of the population.

    joe Reply:

    Exxon-mobile paid no taxes so obviously SB’s answer is to draw a parallel to the poor who pay taxes every day and fees and social Security deduction on the first 120K but alas they get a income tax credit.

    [Exxon-Mobile] Revenue was $121.6 billion, an increase from $105.19 billion a year ago. Net profit was $9.4 billion, or $1.97 a share, matching Wall Street expectations. That compared with $9.25 billion, or $1.85 per share, a year earlier. Revenue rose 15.6 percent to $121.6 billion.

    9.4 B Profit per Quarter, not annual. This is per quarter. E-M paid no annual Corporate Tax.


    The refundable portion of the child tax credit is a life-saver for the working poor. Families that would be cut off by this policy change make an average of $21,000 per year, according to the Treasury Department. They would lose an average of $1,800. About 80 percent of those families are Hispanic. The taxpayer identification numbers are used frequently, though not exclusively, by unauthorized immigrants to pay the taxes because they are not eligible for Social Security numbers. The I.R.S. accepts their tax payments and allows families to claim the child tax credit regardless of immigration status. This policy is an effective antipoverty tool that protects children, most of whom are American-born citizens.

    The Republicans who have flatly rejected tax increases on the rich have settled instead on limiting this refund, which kept about 1.3 million children from falling into poverty in 2009.

    I think I have this figured out.

    Sobering Reality Reply:


    Sobering Reality Reply:

    By the way, next time you want to imply that I’m racist because I believe people should pay taxes you better be ready to back it up you ignorant parasite.

    Tony d. Reply:

    I’ll gladly pay tax rates of 30%+ if I could make millions of dollars a year (ie I’m recession proof!). Getting tax “refunds” when life all around you is expensive and I’m living paycheck to paycheck? You can have it SR!

    Sobering Reality Reply:

    So because life is a challenge you shouldn’t have to pay taxes?

    Do you hear yourself?

    Joe Reply:

    He pays taxes. And I too would love to pay 30 or 40 % on millions of dollars of income.

    Sadly I still pay more than Delta Airlines which expects to pay 0.0 in corporate tax in 2012. And more than GE, Boeing and Exon-Mobile combined.

    Sobering Reality Reply:

    Sadly, you’re self-absorbed parasite that implies people are racist because they believe people should be taxed equally.

    By the way, Delta employs 80,000 people. How many jobs do you provide?

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    Unless he works for Delta, what does Delta’s employee roster have to do with how much income tax Delta pays?

    Sobering Reality Reply:

    Its called perspective.

    Nathanael Reply:

    Every single person in the US pays taxes. Everyone who works pays payroll tax and everyone who buys stuff pays sales tax.

    The superrich, of course, pay lower tax rates than everyone else. Mitt Romney pays a lower total tax rate on his income than a low-wage worker.

    This is because unearned income (yes, that’s the technical term) is not subject to payroll tax, and most unearned income has sweetheart rates thanks to George W. Bush, who believed that working should be taxed heavily, but collecting dividends should be tax-free.

    Nathanael Reply:

    OK, I correct myself: some people do not work or buy anything. These are underage children and people in institutions, which doesn’t change my point.

    Sobering Reality Reply:

    Romney pays a lower “tax rate” because he has no income, he only has capital gains on investments. When he actually worked, he paid income tax just like the rest of us. It was then that the money he now uses for investments was taxed. What you are proposing is double taxation which is bullshot.

    I swear they don’t teach anyone jack shit in the school system on finance anymore.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    Capital gains are income.

    Tom McNamara Reply:

    Earth to Sobering:

    You realize that the whole reason transportation infrastructure is in the fix we are in is BECAUSE these programs USE a trust fund, right?

    Unless I am mistaken, any rail operator must pay a tax on fuel…diesel, kerosene…etc. And that truckers, car owners, and airlines have the same levy. In addition, air passengers pay taxes for the FAA and road users pay into the Highway Fund. The railroads don’t get a subsidy per se, but most of the land they acquired was done through eminent domain.

    As fuel has become more expensive, that in turn increases prices, which depresses demand (if you assume elasticity) and then the only way to recoup revenue is to increase the tax, which again increases prices and does nothing to stop fuel becoming more expensive.

    In other words Consumption taxes on non-renewable resources don’t work .

    Of course, nearly everyone in the US doesn’t get this because until the Iraq War, there was no relationship between the price of gasoline and scarcity. The US used a multitude of diplomatic and economic tools to hide the truth.

    But now, there’s nowhere to hide: The US has to import its oil no matter how much you drill stateside. The US doesn’t have a functioning trade balance between itself and the exporters because they either can’t or won’t buy what we sell.

    So the only option to protect our superpower status is to…convert as much as we can to electricity: trains, cars, trucks, etc. That way, even if we despoil the country with fracking or coal mining, at least our cars, trucks, and trains, CAN USE IT.

    As an airline guy, you should be welcoming electric conversion of other modes of transport with open arms… That’s one more gallon of oil that can be refined into high-grade kerosene as opposed to Unleaded 87….

    Alon Levy Reply:

    You are mistaken; railroads don’t pay fuel taxes.

    Tom McNamara Reply:

    Amtrak doesn’t…or all railroads don’t?

    Nathanael Reply:

    Railroad diesel was exempted from federal and state gas taxes some time back. I believe it’s still subject to sales tax in states which have it.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    Railroads, farm machinery, planes, and other things that do not drive on the road network do not pay fuel taxes into the fund that pays for roads. Planes pay fuel taxes for a separate fund that pays for aviation infrastructure; other things just don’t pay fuel taxes. They use dyed fuel, so that if someone uses it in a car, it’ll be easy to tell and fine the fuck out of the offender.

    Sobering Reality Reply:

    I used to run 100 LL in my car every once in a while. Good way to clean the injectors, only takes about a quart.

    Nathanael Reply:

    Not good to do that to an unleaded-only vehicle, though.

    Sobering Reality Reply:

    Tetraethyllead only improves the combustion rate and used in small quantities as mentioned won’t do jack to an engine. MTBE probably does more damage.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    It will “poison” the catalyst in your catalytic converter. Those are rather pricey to replace.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    There is a tax on train use. It’s called a fare. It goes to a government-owned company that operates the trains.

    Sobering Reality Reply:

    That’s a fare, not a tax.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    It doesn’t matter how you call it, really. The gas tax is not so much a tax as a toll that for easier collection and convenience (no toll plazas) is levied on all motor vehicle fuel sales; it’s dedicated to road funding except for small, well-defined portions that are dedicated to other things. At the end of the day, both it and train fares are deeded to special government branches that administer the respective mode of transportation, with aid from general-fund subsidies.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    That message isn’t heard by 49% of the population.

    49% of the population doesn’t pay income taxes. Mostly because they are too old, too young, too sick or too busy caring for the too old, young or sick to have an income. Unless you are suggesting that 3 year olds and 95 year olds should go out and get jobs when unemployment is over 8%.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    I think it comes from a myth that most working people don’t pay taxes, coming from the fact that rich people and their shills think federal income taxes are the only taxes that exist. You can’t blame them. They’re above the FICA tax cap so they don’t realize that little people pay more in payroll taxes than in income taxes. They usually also don’t think of sales taxes as taxes since Super PAC contributions and whatever other power grabs they do with millions of dollars in annual income are exempt from those.

    Spokker Reply:

    I’d like to opt out of social security if you don’t mind.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    I’d like to opt out of the law protecting rich people’s property rights. Do you know what we could accomplish if the police were not allowed to remove us if we blocked roads leading to asshole NIMBYs’ cul-de-sacs?

    Spokker Reply:

    Property rights are pretty important.

    Nathanael Reply:

    But they are far from the most important thing, and they are far from absolute. In fact, property rights will be thrown by the wayside if they are abused. Property “rights” are a social contract, and if the property-holders don’t hold up their side of the contract, eventually the “rights” are deleted.

    I’ve been studying revolutions. _The Theory of Social Revolutions_ by Brooks Adams, 1913, encapsulates some of the more important lessons one learns from studying history.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    So is not having people need to go through trash cans to find food.

    Spokker Reply:

    Oh, you bleeding heart. Didn’t you hear? Caltrans is renting now.

    It’s a great place to store your stolen copper wire and needles. I’m looking into renting a unit soon.

    synonymouse Reply:

    If the “asshole NIMBY’s” referred to happened to be the Chandlers I am sure that Antonio’s finest would no only remove you, but take you to “Mulholland Falls”.

    joe Reply:

    If they work a salary job at any income level they are deducted the regressive payroll tax which stops after ~120K. They pay sales taxes and I believe medicare. No tax exempt fuel costs. No corporate car.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    Do airports pay property taxes? I know roads don’t, and railroads do – in fact, railroads are taxed on capacity (and thus have an incentive to keep track in bad condition and rip up extra tracks), and get taxed in outsized proportion to the amount of land they own (it’s not as if they can reroute their lines to the next county over).

    Peter Reply:

    On the topic of the poor not having “skin in the game”, here’s A Christmas Message From America’s Rich.

  10. synonymouse
    Feb 1st, 2012 at 12:52

    sorta OT but this is way cool:

    sad – same dumb then, same dumb now.

    synonymouse Reply:

    Looking at this again I can easily visualize PE ca. 1961 as SMART ca. 2012.

    There even open fields on the way to Long Beach. Shades of Sonoma.

    Joey Reply:

    No need to change locations. NWP (or something) operated (electrified) interurbans from the Sausalito ferries to Mill Valley, San Anselmo, and San Rafael back in the day. Though most of the former electrified routes are not going to be used by SMART.

    Michael Reply:

    The NWP’s Petaluma & Santa Rosa subsidiary also operated electric service from Petaluma to Two Rock and Sebastapol and from there on to Forestville and Santa Rosa. Santa Rosa to Sebastapol and on towards Forestville is now a nice bike/ped trail.

    synonymouse Reply:

    I believe the Marin NWP interurbans indeed went to LA around 1942 a few years after service was killed.

    Had an interesting NWP experience a few hours ago down by grocery store. The crossing lights came on, the ringer, and the gates came down. But when the leased RJ Corman Railpower locomotive backed into the crossing the gates came up. Don’t think it is supposed to work that way. Calling tech support.

  11. D. P. Lubic
    Feb 1st, 2012 at 20:05

    Off topic again (!), but still interesting for the parallels in what we see in the rail world:

    Most interesting paragraph from this piece:

    “I think it’s pretty easy to connect the dots here and draw the conclusion that Big Oil—which spends millions of dollars on lobbying and campaign contributions every year, but reaps billions of dollars in record profits—is afraid. Very afraid. It’s kind of funny when you think about it—the oil industry, which is enjoying the largest profits in human history, is afraid of a child on a bike. So afraid, that Representatives in Washington who are beholden to Big Oil will do whatever they can to make it less safe for children to get to school. Cycling has been steadily increasing in popularity among all age groups, and particularly so with young adults. We are a massive wave representing a fundamental shift in attitudes, and that is what frightens Big Oil. That child finding a safe route to school today might be the college student riding to class in a few years, and the young adult choosing to keep riding after graduation. Like the Terminator traveling back in time to stop John Connor, Big Oil is nipping that future in the bud by cutting Safe Routes to Schools today.”

    Could this explain some of the things we see in regard to rail service of any kind?

    I can certainly say that seems to be the case with the NIMBY crowd, who act quite mean, and it may well be out of fear of undoing progress or something. . .

    Nathanael Reply:

    It does. Big Oil’s influence is definitely a major distorting factor in much of our politics. It’s not the only distorting factor. (Big Finance, for instance, has gone utterly bonkers and is wrecking things like the Hulk.) But it’s an important distorting factor.

    synonymouse Reply:

    Big Oil is the enemy all right in many cases; but Big Stupidity is just as bad.

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