State Senate to Hold Hearing on HSR in Mountain View on March 13

Feb 24th, 2012 | Posted by

The three State Senate Democrats who have been the most wobbly on high speed rail – potentially siding with Tea Party Republicans instead of with their governor and their president – are holding a hearing on the project in Mountain View on Tuesday, March 13. From an email sent by Senator Joe Simitian:

The proposal for a High-Speed Rail line between San Francisco and Los Angeles presents California with one of our most consequential decisions in years. As Chair of the Senate Budget Subcommittee #2, which oversees transportation spending, I hope to gather as much information as possible to help the Legislature make wise choices on whether or how to proceed. That is why I am holding a State Senate Information Hearing on March 13 at 7 p.m. in Mountain View.

I would like to encourage you to attend. In addition to testimony from state officials and others, the hearing will include a public comment period open to attendees. It is critical that legislators and High-Speed Rail officials hear from the public on this issue.

Joining me at this hearing will be:
• Senator Alan Lowenthal, (D-Long Beach) chair of the Senate Select Committee on High-Speed Rail
• Senator Mark DeSaulnier, (D-Concord) chair of the Senate Transportation and Housing Committee

WHAT: State Senate Informational Hearing on High-Speed Rail
WHEN: Tuesday, March 13, 2012 at 7:00 PM
WHERE: Mountain View Center for the Performing Arts, 500 Castro Street, Mountain View, CA 94041

Lowenthal is the Southern California Democrat who wants to go to Congress, where his future colleagues strongly support the HSR project. But Lowenthal has been one of the project’s most consistent opponents. His stance has begun to raise eyebrows among Southern California Democrats – this post about Lowenthal’s HSR stance, which originally appeared on this blog, has been getting shared widely among Southern California Democrats. Lowenthal will have a lot of explaining to do if he sides with the Tea Party to destroy California’s high speed rail project.

Simitian, who represents Mountain View until this December, has also been echoing Tea Party talking points, suggesting that California behave like right-wing governors Scott Walker and Rick Scott in rejecting federal HSR funds:

“Whether they are federal funds or not, they should be used wisely,” Simitian said. “Whenever someone tries to hustle you into a quick decision, that should give you pause. I feel like we’re getting jammed by the threat of losing the federal funds.”

As he points out, the state should not “make a $100 billion mistake to save $3 billion” from Washington.

For Simitian to call President Obama and Governor Brown hustlers is pretty strong language. It’s offensive and does not indicate any desire to solve problems constructively, which is the attitude that ought to be taken.

DeSaulnier is an interesting one. He is usually much more sensible than the anti-HSR Simitian and Lowenthal. I’ve speculated in the past that DeSaulnier is more interested in bringing some HSR money to urban areas, which the California High Speed Rail Authority intends to do. So we will see whether he follows Simitian and Lowenthal down the anti-HSR rabbit hole or maintains a more sensible posture.

Some HSR critics want to reject the notion that legislators have only two choices – follow the Tea Party and oppose HSR funding or follow Obama and Brown and support it. They claim they want HSR but want to modify the project in one way or another. If they actually believed that, then they would be siding with Obama and Brown. The California High Speed Rail Authority, working with the governor’s office and the Obama Administration, has been making a series of adjustments to the project to address concerns. They’ve been repairing relationships in the Central Valley. On the Peninsula, the CHSRA did adopt Simitian’s proposed “blended” proposal to run HSR trains over two tracks along the Caltrain corridor in the short-term while plans for more tracks are developed over time.

In fact, there really are only two choices here. Either you want HSR built or you don’t. If you want it built, then you will be willing to work together to solve problems. Obama, Brown and the CHSRA are clearly interested in doing so. If, however, you’d rather make up evidence-free attacks and continue claiming that somehow the project won’t pan out financially or that nobody will ride it, and persist in trying to deny it funding in 2012 rather than solving problems, then you’re clearly not interested in building HSR and would rather side with the Tea Party.

Of course, this all raises the question of whether Simitian is an honest actor here. The CHSRA gave him his blended proposal and yet he’s still lobbing grenades at the project. In fact, he’s bringing this hearing to the Peninsula, where NIMBYism is pretty strong. Simitian may be hoping to get a strong anti-HSR turnout to use as justification for voting to kill the HSR project by denying it funding.

That means HSR advocates need to make a strong showing at this hearing. Our voices need to be heard early and often. Don’t let the NIMBYs or the opponents dominate this. Don’t let Simitian and Lowenthal claim that the hearing found only opponents. Don’t let the media show up and file stories claiming supporters were outnumbered. This is an opportunity to show these wavering Senators that California still backs HSR. Don’t let it go to waste.

  1. StevieB
    Feb 24th, 2012 at 08:27

    Governor Brown is heading to Washington this weekend and speculation is high speed rail is on the agenda.

    California Gov. Jerry Brown is scheduled to swing by the White House this weekend to meet with President Obama as well as congressional leaders. No official word on what the topic of discussion will be, but high-speed rail talk seems likely. Brown has continued to hype his state’s $98 billion network in the face of Golden State GOP opposition — and the president made a renewed call for HSR investment in his recent budget proposal.

    Robert Cruickshank Reply:

    Which raises the question of why three Democrats in the State Senate – including one who is running for Congress (Lowenthal) and one who has shown a desire in the past to go to Congress (DeSaulnier) would be willing to sabotage the president and their governor and hand the Tea Party Republicans a big win during an election year.

    joe Reply:


    By trashing HSR these Dems are criticizing their senior congressional colleagues who proposed and lobbied for the project funding.

    So Nancy Pelosi and Mike Honda are wrong about HSR but junior league Senators and possible freshman rep Alan Lowenthal are right. “Sit down Nancy and we’ll explain politics to you. ”

    On what committee will Alan be assinged? She is the party minority leader. Maybe Alan will side with her 2012 leadership opponent and try to earmark a few goodies to his district.

    The peninsula crew are holding HSR hostage for goodies and control – they’ll probably get the project killed and blame the President, State Governor and House Minority Leader Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Reid – all ardent proponents of HSR.

    Tom McNamara Reply:

    Which raises the question of why three Democrats in the State Senate … would be willing to sabotage the president and their governor and hand the Tea Party Republicans a big win during an election year.


    “With friends like these who needs enemies”….

    Because each of them represents a a constituency that is going to be the recipient of a lot of federal dough to fix the “petroleum based economy”.

    I’ve said this before and I will say it again. MTC and Metro have a deal regarding the HSR local funds and anyone who has been left out is crying foul. It’s no coincidence that this is going to be in Google’s backyard and not Morris’.

    The “real” meeting is probably going to be earlier in the day at 1 Infinite Loop with Sergey and Larry about how much they really want HSR and what they are willing to pay for it.

    synonymouse Reply:

    Ring the Bay, Altamont irrevocably vetoed by San Jose as precedented by Palmdale, hsr bottled up at Diridon.

    Once again an utter BART coup. A radical prediction but with a decisive ring to it.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    That and they are after your precious bodily fluids.

    synonymouse Reply:

    The pods are taking over.

    Jonathan Reply:

    Body-Snatchers and Purity of Essence ((of bodily flluids) are as nothing to the BART-monster.

    Tengwar coming soon.

    missiondweller Reply:

    Perhaps the opponents are not “Tea Party Republicans” as you state over and over again but Bay Area Democrat NIMBY’s. If you are unwilling to recognize who the true opponent is, you will find it difficult to effectively take them on.

    Peter Reply:

    I think in this situation it really is an unholy alliance between Bay Area Democrat NIMBY’s and Teabagging Republicans. The two may disagree on many issues, but on this one they’re allied, for all the wrong reasons.

    swing hanger Reply:

    Politics makes strange bedfellows.

    synonymouse Reply:

    Perhaps the “opponents” constitute your famous new generation taking over from the Bechtelian Generation of Kopp & Diridon, the cheerleaders ideological generation.

    Joe Reply:

    Nancy Pelosi is a bay area democrat and ardent HSR supporter. This is more narrowly focused opposition.

    The bay area, specifically pennisula, chokes with cars and has no stable Caltrain funding. This is a good example of ehy term limits suck. The clowns will be termed out.

    Stopping the project and the pennisula will find an unsympathetic govenor and congressional delegation.

    Politics 101.

    synonymouse Reply:

    “The clowns will be termed out.” The crones and the drone too are past their expiration date. Change of generations.

    As with Egypt, a change of Farouks.

    VBobier Reply:

    Not at the Federal level Syno, Congress has No term limits.

    synonymouse Reply:

    “… but he thinks he is going to live forever…”

    Michael Corleone, Godfather II

    Peter Reply:

    Only I can live forever.

  2. Neil Shea
    Feb 24th, 2012 at 09:01

    Thanks Robert. I will be there and hopefully many of us can make it and be heard. It is very important at this juncture.

    It smells funny that Simitian lined up these other two for the hearing. There are constructive ways to work together to make a project stronger, and Dan Richard is working to do that along with Caltrain, MTC and the SF Fast Start ideas. The proposals now being floated include significant money ($1B+ plus matches) for both end points, and as Robert says, the CHSRA has agreed with Simitian “blended” proposal. It gets to a point where it seems that some old men are stuck in the autos-only past and are actively working to limit our future.

    YesonHSR Reply:

    Why are these meetings always down in PA/menlopark ect ect..?? And Lowenthal what is he up here in the BayArea for, or for that matter made “god” of HSR rail for the rest of the state..I wish I could go , and I dare say he was a Hillary backer and could care about the President plans

  3. Tony d.
    Feb 24th, 2012 at 09:28

    I think its pretty hard at this point for those three Democrats to be against the project, especially since it now appears to be headed in the right direction: blended endpoints AND the Central Valley ICS. This is what most of us had started calling for, and the CHSRA appears to be listening. Again, its about HSR done right, not killing it outright. That being said, I won’t be able to make this hearing (to far away and everyday life beckons), but I’m sure a bunch of retired, grumpy old men will be in attendance; whining and crying about how HSR will bring hell on Earth. Hopefully the media will be smart enough to realize a town hall-like gathering is not representative of the greater electorate.

  4. jimsf
    Feb 24th, 2012 at 10:12

    So do we need a lot of people to show up and basically ask them why they are acting more like tea party reps than democrats?

    joe Reply:


    The set of voters who would oppose HSR and vote for a Dem is small.

    I’d tell them they at odds with Gov Brown & Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid and my Rep Mike Honda.

  5. Clem
    Feb 24th, 2012 at 11:02

    Either you want HSR built or you don’t.

    That sort of absolutist stance reminds me of George W. Bush…. you’re either with us or against us. Your statement is basically “HSR done right” = “anti-HSR”. It makes HSR opponents out of a large portion of HSR supporters, self included. That’s not a particularly good way to build support for the project.

    David Reply:

    It either reminds me of GWB or it doesn’t.

    It’s (almost) time to be “the Decider”, time to fish or cut bait.

    Matthew B Reply:

    Perhaps one argument in the direction of making a parallel to the tea party is the use of a cherry picked town hall forum that is announced in a coded way to ensure that the people most opposed to the project are the most likely to show up. That sounds like using the illusion of a democratic process to achieve the result you want. Amplifying an angry and vocal minority sounds very tea-partyish to me.

    Neil Shea Reply:

    Hi Clem, I understand your motivations are good, but no human endeavor is ever perfect, and the stakes involved in our future are so great here. If we proceed it will be possible to make improvements as we go, but as you know there are many folks aligned with the Koch brothers who want us to have no rail options at all, and don’t care how high the sea levels rise or how much gas costs.

    You do outstanding work in analyzing options on the Peninsula, and I think slowly we in the Bay Area are learning how to do things better. If we get $1B plus local match (another $1B?) we will be able to make great improvements in the Peninsula corridor; of course not all that money may be spent perfectly but electrifying the line and adding positive train control are huge steps forward.

    Let’s continue to find ways to provide constructive input but let’s recognize that there really are luddites out there who think no one should have any choices other than automobiles, or that it is OK to wait another 10 years before starting anything. By their behavior one suspects they include senators Simitian and Lowenthal.

    Richard Mlynarik Reply:

    Given a billion dollars Caltrsin will be able to piss away — literally piss away, with less than nothing to show for it — a quarter of that entire sum on CBOSS, do perhaps a grand total of five grade separations, and throw a few million more at its World Class consultants to “study” electrification or modernisation.

    Abject, consistent, unrelenting failure is always to be handsomely rewarded.

    Why exactly do you aspire to the very lowest possible quality at outrageously, fraudulently high prices?
    Do you enjoy crap service and wasted money?

    Either you’re for CBOSS, or you’re with THE KOCH BROTHERS.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    I’m sure the Koch Brother’s minions love CBOSS. It’s another arrow in their quiver of “mass transit is too expensive” or “mass transit is mismanged” or “mass transit is incompetent” or…

    synonymouse Reply:

    The Koch Bros. ARE the Grand DeTour.

    VBobier Reply:

    Yep, the KOCH Brothers(boycott all KOCH Industries products) are a problem, Hey what do Ya know, We agree on something for once.


    Antron Carpet Fiber
    Stainmaster Carpet


    Quilted Northern
    Platinum Plywood

    International Brands:

    Demak Up
    Nouvelle Recycling

    Nathanael Reply:

    Cool. I’m already getting other brands of paper products, and I’m allergic to the fabrics…

    Matthew Reply:

    Wow, they own Coolmax? Figures.

    Years ago, I had to buy a Coolmax PSU one time as a quick replacement. It was one of the noisiest and hottest PSUs I have ever seen. My officemate joked that we didn’t need a space heater that winter. More heat than power, I think. I quickly replaced it with a quality Seasonic.

    Coolmax is a pretty good analogy for Koch priorities: waste energy, generate lots of hot air.

    D. P. Lubic Reply:

    Hmmm, most of those products are things I’ve never seen. Those I do know about (Brawny towels, Quilted Northern, some others) are overpriced for me, which is why I don’t get them.

    I guess it takes a lot of money to pay for all those ads. . .

    Alon Levy Reply:

    They use Georgia Pacific paper towel dispensers at my department.

    joe Reply:

    Either you’re for CBOSS, or you’re with THE KOCH BROTHERS.

    No, either we agree with Mlynarik or we’re stupid, 100% pro-graft, choo-choo fan boys.

    Neil Shea Reply:

    Your fury comes through Richard. Yes there has been waste in the past and no doubt there will be in the future. But surely you don’t assume that waste is limited to rail projects, and that once political leaders (and their petro-dollar backers) allocate all infrastructure dollars to airports and roads that everything will now be 100% waste-free and efficient. I can see the campaign “End Waste: Build Airports and Roads”. And if we then turn again to building an HSR in 15 years, think of how much lower in cost it will be to wait and start then.

    Meanwhile it’s disingenuous to suggest that statewide funds will be allocated for the CBOSS fiasco. It will have to be a system selected for statewide use, which then would actually achieve your goal of killing CBOSS. But that would end our enjoyment of harping endlessly about CBOSS.

    Richard Mlynarik Reply:

    Meanwhile it’s disingenuous to suggest that statewide funds will be allocated for the CBOSS fiasco.

    Dear Neil,

    You’re absolutely wrong, on this point as on all others.

    Do you even know what the word “disingenuous” means?

    Matthew B Reply:

    Richard, you’re right. He did misuse “disingenuous.” You actually believe that funds will be allocated to CBOSS. I think the point was that with statewide funds, there is more of a chance that state oversight will prevent CBOSS from being implemented. I think it’s disingenuous of you to not admit you knew that was the intent of the post.

    Richard Mlynarik Reply:

    You and Neil can wish and wish and hope all you like — or blatantly contradict facts and state outright that it isn’t happening — but Caltrain has already sought state funding for CBOSS, including from CHSRA, and seeks even more funding, and will get it.

    How about a little 1:1 bet? $1000? $10000? How much can you afford to lose?

    Alon Levy Reply:

    What you’re missing is that Richard is even more against road boondoggles than you are. Whenever Robert writes posts comparing HSR to the Interstates, those of us who think $65 billion is too expensive fume about how the Interstate network was an over-budget fiscal disaster that destroyed so many American cities and should never be repeated.

    The culture of spending more on transit no matter what is a lot less hostile to the Koch Brothers’ interest than you think. The interests of transit lobbyists and road lobbyists converge around more money and less oversight, and a status quo that divides money between roads and transit by formula. Any change from that they both zealously oppose: APTA actually opposed Kerry-Lieberman on the grounds that the carbon taxes generated from burning fuel would not be 100% plugged back into transportation construction. With transit lobbyists who repeat the user fee myth for roads, who needs the Cato Institute?

    Neil Shea Reply:

    America became car crazy and we de-invested and shut down alternative modes of transportation. The interstate system certainly ‘spurred’ that process along. I have greatly appreciated the transportation options in Asian and Europe, transit and intercity. I believe when Americans see workable alternatives to the car they will clamor for much more. We will make mistakes and learn as we go.

    But now I wonder if some of us are actually asking for less transportation options, less of everything because – other than mountain bicycles – all modes involve significant infrastructure projects with politics, profits, and yes, even some element of corruption (gasp!).

    Certainly mountain bikes are great, but there are a lot of economic and social benefits to longer distance transportation options. And as California’s population zooms past 50m toward 60m, shall we do anything to mitigate the 6m+ SF-LA annual air trips that are already happening today, not to mention a personal internal combustion engine for every driver?

    StevieB Reply:

    The Republican Party calls attempts to concentrate density that uses public transit encouraged by United Nations resolution Agenda 21 “destructive and insidious” in their own resolution passed this January.

    The Republican National Committee resolution, passed without fanfare on Jan. 13, declared, “The United Nations Agenda 21 plan of radical so-called ‘sustainable development’ views the American way of life of private property ownership, single family homes, private car ownership and individual travel choices, and privately owned farms; all as destructive to the environment.”

    The party is responding to Tea Party concerns about government restricting individual rights.

    They brand government action for things like expanding public transportation routes and preserving open space as part of a United Nations-led conspiracy to deny property rights and herd citizens toward cities.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    What’s actually happening is the opposite of what you describe. Today’s boondoggles aren’t leading to better projects tomorrow. For example, the extreme costs of Second Avenue Subway’s Phase 1 are not teaching the MTA how to build things for cheaper next time; on the contrary, the MTA has just re-estimated the cost of the entire line at $24 billion based on Phase 1 costs, up from previous estimates of $17 billion. Similarly, the various commuter rail stubways and railyards proposed are not leading to any improvement in service planning – some would lock in agency turf separation and make intermodal and interagency connections more difficult. For example, building Transbay Terminal wrong today means having to terminate many trains at 4th and King, inconveniently outside the CBD, for decades in the future.

    Far from making people want more transit, high costs just turn people off. The Teabaggers don’t care either way, but other people do. For the cost that the MTA is projecting for Second Avenue Subway, it could at rest-of-first-world cost build practically the entire Second System, adapted for today’s needs. California HSR’s budget is twice what it should be, and given amounts of funding that are likely to materialize next year, the cost overruns could literally make the difference between having an IOS and having no IOS.

    I have no idea why you’re bringing up mountain bicycles. Bike advocates of the Streetsblog kind are adamant on treating bikes as a normal mode of urban transportation, rather than as something special for adventurers.

    If all you want is to reduce driving, then stop treating the transit lobby as a friend. APTA has no interest in mode shift. Even more grassroots organizations don’t care – almost all of them are willing to support the Tappan Zee Bridge boondoggle if only Cuomo tacks 2 bus lanes in addition to the planned 8 car lanes. People who just want their name associated with infrastructure couldn’t care less whether this infrastructure is about clean transportation or pollution.

    Nathanael Reply:

    New York City appears to have especially unusual problems with cost control *and* contractor competence.

    In contrast, project problems in Minneapolis/St. Paul DO lead to improvements (better results for less) in future projects.

    What is different here? This is clearly cultural and *local*.

    Nathanael Reply:

    NYC and the Bay Area appear to be among the worst, incidentally, with Denver, the LA area, and the Twin Cities being “mostly OK”.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    Sure, but what’s happening is that existing construction in New York is not improving the cost control at all.

    It gets worse if you think of how some of these projects are bad for riders, rather than just expensive. New York has to deal with legacy commuter rail infrastructure, and it’s dealing with it in the most incompetent, rider-hostile way possible even leaving aside the costs of those multilevel caverns. And for the most part, whenever other American cities get the chance to do something similarly stupid, they do – LA and Chicago have no plans to modernize that do not involve heavy concrete pouring, San Francisco is doing every aspect of Transbay wrong, Boston is making New York and San Francisco look good, Washington thinks improving commuter rail means possibly maybe introducing weekend service on one line.

    swing hanger Reply:

    Re. mountainbikes- Always find it amusing that in N. America there is the belief that bicycle commuting requires the usage of these overpriced and overspecced vehicles. Here in Japan the only people who ride mountainbikes in urban/suburban settings are little boys and clueless Westerners. Everybody else uses one or three speed rigs with a nice big basket on the front handlebars, cost about equivalent $100~150 tops.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    thatbruce Reply:

    The underlying problem with the phrase ‘done right’ is that it has been misused by some HSR opponents in attempts to delay the project past funding deadlines and/or the public’s impatience, and muddle the waters between ‘We want it Done Right because we hope the concept will die’ and ‘We want it Done Right because you’ve got a collection of mismanaging buffoons making decisions that will adversely hamper future operations’ camps.

    Richard Mlynarik Reply:

    The underlying problem with the phrase ‘done right’ is that it has been misused by some HSR opponents ..

    (a) Show your examples.

    (b) So what?

    Oh no, we can’t “do something correctly” because, um, err, because, ahhhh, just a sec, ummm, well, ok, I’ve got it, because there are 89400 Google hits for “Koch Industries” and “done right”, and therefore “done right” really means “Big Oil”.

    thatbruce Reply:

    a) CARRD comes to mind. Lowenthal and some other politicians alsowave the ‘It must be Done Right or be killed’ banner when it suits them.

    b) Indeed, ‘so what’. Just pointing out my own POV.

    Richard Mlynarik Reply:

    Not much of a mind doing the coming, then.

    synonymouse Reply:

    Since when has CARRD laid down an embargo per se?

    Nathanael Reply:

    Hanford comes to mind. “Don’t build it through the city. OR through the farmland. Do it right!”

    Yeah, right. “Do it right” is code for “Don’t do it at all”. It has to go SOMEWHERE, guys.

    VBobier Reply:

    The People who say they want HSR done right, do they even know How that would be accomplished?

    I just want HSR done as close to what is done in France and/or Japan as humanly possible and as conditions and terrain warrant.

    Tony d. Reply:

    Clem nailed it!

    jimsf Reply:

    So how many more years shall we screw around trying to decide how to do it “right,” including getting everyone, the public, the landowners, the politicians, all on the same page, before we finally get everyone to agree that the best plan has been created? How many years do you suppose it will take to accomplish that and then, at that point start building. And when can we expect that version to be up and running.
    Im not looking for a smart remark. Im asking for real answer.
    How long will it take to get all the steakholders on the “correct” page and shoudl I assume that the “correct” or “right” way to do it means, Richards way or clems way or does it involve things that some of the rest of want to see as voters and taxpayers.

    In what year do you all expect this consensus to be reached please. So I can plan my first trip.

    Serious answer please.

    Derek Reply:

    Because the freeways are always, always done right, we just have to do this the same way.

    Tony d. Reply:

    I’d say the decision has already been made on how to do it right; bookend/endpoints and ICS. Who, with the exception of ardent opponents, can argue with this approach. Yes, perfect world the entire system would be built at the same time and be up and running by 2020. Since the world is far from perfect, I’ll gladly take the new approach which I would definitely call “HSR done right! “

  6. Zach D.
    Feb 24th, 2012 at 12:09

    I would echo the tone of this post, and most of the above comments, let’s not let perfect be the enemy of good. We can and should be vocal supporters of a California high speed rail system while still holding the Authority’s feet to the fire and pushing for the best alignment and design. But, let’s not end up kill the entire project because some of the details are not to our liking. We need to avoid falling into the classic, self-destructive Liberal scenario where we end up becoming our own worst enemies because we get hung up on minor details.

    Richard Mlynarik Reply:

    The classic “self-destructive Liberal scenario” is being a willing pawn in the service of you oppressor.

    Alex M. Reply:

    Oh the irony…

    joe Reply:

    I would echo the tone of this post, and most of the above comments, let’s not let perfect be the enemy of good. We can and should be vocal supporters of a California high speed rail system while still holding the Authority’s feet to the fire and pushing for the best alignment and design

    Which probably explains why Mr Mlynarik resorted to bullying the idea.

    Richard Mlynarik Reply:

    while still holding the Authority’s feet to the fire and pushing for the best alignment and design

    (a) Name one example of change for the better in PBQD=CHSRA’s plans. One.
    (b) Explain how signing over blank checks aids the whole feet to the fire program.

    Zach D. Reply:

    What blank checks have been signed over to CHSRA? Last I checked they are in the process of updating their business plan again, trying to reach out to landowners, working to build consensus among lawmakers and re-examining how to implement phase I. A lot of progress has been made in addressing previous design short-comings and moving the project in the right direction. If you want a good example of how to be a strong supporter of high speed rail while still pushing hard for the best project, look no further then Gov. Brown.

    synonymouse Reply:

    Brown “a strong supporter of high speed rail while still pushing hard for the best project”? Surely ye jest. Who else is undercutting Van Ark on studying the Bear Trap Canyon alignment?

    The CHSRA and Moonbeam are both on walkers and oxygen tanks.

    joe Reply:

    Neither (a) or (b) are questions – they are assertions. (b) isn’t even serious unless you have a PDF to post.

    If someone asked me, “Has the HSR project improved from outside commentary and review?” I would say “Yes” and point to the current business plan. I’d also point to the peer review of the ridership model.

    Possibly (a) can be rephrased, “Name one time PBQD followed a Richard Mlynaik suggestion.”

    Richard Mlynarik Reply:

    So nothing has changed, except costs tripled.

    PBQD (DBA CHSRA) is truly a responsive engineering organization, with their feet “try to the fire” on this “pushing for the best alignment and design” business of yours, what with not having budged an inch on any of their astute decisions in any location at any time in the last decade. For which the public has paid $700+ million, and rising, to have PB study PB and reconfirm PB and recommend more PB.

    joe Reply:

    So nothing has changed, except costs tripled.

    Not true. Even opponents like CARRD have documented design/alignment changes. Other decisions are pending such as the alignment into or around Gilroy. The City has a advisory effort to influence the alignment decision. We know it’s advisory but we’re going to hold the CAHSRA accountable.

    PBQD (DBA CHSRA) is truly a responsive engineering organization, with their feet “try to the fire” on this “pushing for the best alignment and design” business of yours, what with not having budged an inch on any of their astute decisions in any location at any time in the last decade.

    Wow – it’s on like donkey kong.

    Too bad HSR isn’t an GNU project where you can submit your design and priorites for review and acceptance and then ridicule the prime and government for being stupid.

    You are disingenuous. You’re angry over 10+ years of trying to make PBQD “budge”.

    Jonathan Reply:

    Comparison to open-source GNU products is unfair , and irrelevant. I can only surmise that you don’t knw much about them. if projects are open-source from the beginning, then usually no-one stands to make any money from it at all.

    The conjunction, that people contributing to GNU products can ridicule the government and prime contractors on government projects, isn’t merely unsupported, but downright bizarre. Parsons Brinkerohff has nothing to do with it. For that matter, the largely-failed project XEmacs, which Richard worked on, also has little to point.,

    Nathanael Reply:

    (a) Fresno redesign substantially reducing elevated track length.

    Done. Willing to admit you’re wrong, Richard?

    Jonathan Reply:

    Be careful, he may say that someone should reach up through your screen and cut your hands off.
    He’s done that before. Yes, *really*.

  7. synonymouse
    Feb 24th, 2012 at 13:08

    The TWU trying to take SF to the cleaners again:

    Expect similar trouble in the future for the public service model hsr.

    jimsf Reply:

    Interesting you focus on that article and miss this one on the same page.

    Why is the union taking the city to cleaners, by soimply investigating whether teh law wasn’t followed. Or don’t workers have the right to stand up for themselves.

    Can I assume you are equally outraged by the story of the 1 percent walking away from their mortgages just because they feel like it? Or is it okay for them to take us all to the cleaners cuz, you know, they are the good people have clean fingernails?

    Derek Reply:

    This is why we can’t give people jobs anymore.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    You wish. In New York, the TWU is the good union; the mainline railroads are represented by way more intransigent unions. The subway runs each train with a driver who makes $63k and a conductor who makes $54k; the commuter railroads run with a driver who makes well over $100k and multiple conductors, each making about $100k.

    Nathanael Reply:

    In NYU, the TWU is not very good, routinely shooting itself in the foot (“protect our workers by… causing the system to have less money and lay people off!”). The Metro-North unions are worse.

    But the LIRR unions are *unbelievable*. They’re openly proud of retaining obsolete steam-era work rules. I’m generally pro-union, and I think the TWU in NY is in some sense its own worst enemy — but if any union deserves to be broken, the LIRR conductors’ union is the one.

  8. Reality Check
    Feb 24th, 2012 at 13:37

    Bullet train: No semantic antics, please

    […] the money must go toward construction of a high-speed rail system using trains “capable of sustained … operating speeds of at least 200 miles per hour where conditions permit those speeds.”

    Depressingly but predictably, there have already been whispered conversations in Sacramento about how this could be gamed with semantics. If you build a train that’s capable of 200 mph but doesn’t go that fast in many areas because “conditions” don’t “permit those speeds,” well, you’re following the law.

    But Proposition 1A’s language, oddly enough, seemed to anticipate this semantic gaming by setting a “maximum express service travel times” for each bullet train route, with the baseline of two hour and 42 minutes to go from San Francisco to Los Angeles Union Station.

    Is that possible without new rail lines in the Bay Area and the L.A. area? Perhaps. Yet some insiders predict that this too will be the target of semantic antics.

    jimsf Reply:

    There are no tricky semantics here. I know that when I voted for prop1 the plan was to build a 220 mph hsr project. I unsderstood that it had to be capable of 2:40 on an express run. I knew that not every train would do this because I understand the dif between express, limited, and local. I also understood that the entire system would not be built at once but in pieces and that those pieces had to be usable until the full build out was complete.
    no tricks there. I don’t know why so many people pretend to be so confused.

    synonymouse Reply:

    There is no way they can meet the two hour and forty-two minute proviso without Tejon. So they will simply change Prop 1A to read an extra hour or so and dare anybody to challenge. They know how to fix a judge the way John Gotti knew how to fix a jury.

    Hugo-world, baby.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    Yes. Hugo Chavez’s actions in office include cracking down on independent unions, stacking all government positions with loyalists, amending the constitution to allow indefinite reelection, shutting down opposition media, and changing HSR specs from 2:40 trip time to 3:40.

    synonymouse Reply:

    Hugo-Word is a locally-owned franchise operation finely attuned to the particular needs and desires of each indigenous population.

    synonymouse Reply:

    Add an “l” to “word” tho it could be a semi-Freudian Slip.

    jim Reply:

    Is that possible without new rail lines in the Bay Area and the L.A. area? No. But until those are built, trains can run into San Francisco on the existing, upgraded Caltrain tracks and passengers can transfer at Sylmar to conventional trains into LAUS, Anaheim and even San Diego.

    It is a perverse reading of the Proposition to claim that it bars instituting reasonably fast service between the major cities before the entire system is built out.

  9. Reality Check
    Feb 24th, 2012 at 13:43

    BART Directors Approve Moving Livermore Project Ahead

    At the meeting, Marchand also corrected an error made by one director who said that Livermore and Pleasanton have rejected the high-speed train advocated by Gov. Jerry Brown. If it goes through the Central Valley near Tracy, the train could link to Livermore BART via the Altamont, and provide another funding source for the Livermore project.

    Marchand said that there has been no formal vote on either the Livermore or Pleasanton city councils concerning high-speed rail. Only Pleasanton indicated that they would not support high-speed rail.


    Many talked about paying taxes on BART for decades, without getting any service. Bob Baltzer said he has lived in Livermore since 1962, and waits for it.

    “There is some agitation to amend the motion to include all kinds of bus stuff out of the Dublin/Pleasanton station. Commuters coming from the Central Valley won’t stop at a transfer station to a bus, then go five miles to BART,” said Baltzer.

    Valerie Raymond said, “BART was sold as a regional system, and after 49 years, it’s not unreasonable to say now is that time to keep that commitment.” Livermore has paid the one-half cent sales tax on BART, but received very little benefit from it, she said.

    Later in the meeting, director Radulovich said, “No one has paid a dollar to BART to Livermore. It has all gone to the system we have now. Any new money on extensions have to come from new sources.”

    Tom McNamara Reply:

    This is tin-foil hat territory:

    Sure, okay BART is up to something. Sen. DeSaulnier fears losing funding for eBART and races to the HSR forum to decry the fact Pacheco is going to cost more than Altamont. BART issues non-denial denial about extending ACE to Merced with transfer platform in Livermore that gets them more riders.

    The small problem with this “theory” is:

    a) UP’s alignment through Altamont is choked with freight traffic already. It’s not like they want ACE to expand service.

    b) You still need SJCOG to pony up the cash to connect the Merced bound BNSF track to the San Jose bound UP track ACE current uses.

    c) There’s already a straight connection that in terms of distance and time for HSR passengers connecting to San Francisco exists by routing ACE towards Antioch and building a station on highway 160 over the track

    Isn’t this just BART trying to keep it’s options open by asking to build the largest facility possible and not something … nefarious?

    joe Reply:


    wrt (a) There is legislation proposed, not that it will be taken up anytime soon, to study adding track for ACE for improved commuter service to San Jose.

    There is going to be an improvement to Altamont commuter service and if I ran BART, I’d try to connect to that service in Livermore. What the implications are for connecting to the 580 BART alignment is TBD.

    Jon Reply:

    It looks like the new plan is to extend BART in the freeway median to an Isabel/I-580 station. Then the extension would continue east, break out of the freeway median at Greenville Road, and terminate at a station just east of Greenville Road next to the Union Pacific/ACE tracks. The primary motivation behind this is so that the requisite amount of TOD can be built around the Greenville Rd station while still keeping the majority of the alignment in the median; however, it does also allow for an intermodal BART/ACE station to be built at this location.

    The original plan to serve downtown Livermore and Lawrence Lab was far superior, but was scuppered by NIMBYs who believe that downtown metro stations = drug dealers and prostitutes. All very depressing. Still, at least it will save me from the hell which is cycling on Stanley Blvd, which is currently the only non-freeway route between Pleasanton and Livermore.

    joe Reply:

    … however, it does also allow for an intermodal BART/ACE station to be built at this location.

    The original plan to serve downtown Livermore and Lawrence Lab was far superior, but was scuppered by NIMBYs who believe that downtown metro stations = drug dealers and prostitutes.

    Good to connect ACE and BART. I’m not sure what the ridership would be for such a connection but it doesn’t make sense to NOT make a connection.

    The fear public transportation will bring in dark criminals goes back to my youth in 60’s Chicago. It doesn’t happen but the suburban cities refused to connect to Chicago’s system. I think the fact this system connects to Oakland scares folks.

    Jon Reply:

    The original plan would also have connected ACE and BART at both the planned stations.

    Peter Baldo Reply:

    So they want to drive to a Park and Ride 2 miles out of town, rather than the Pleasanton Park and Ride 6 miles down the freeway. Go figure! They’ll still need to own and maintain a car for the commute.

    I live in a suburb with a downtown station. The station is an attractive anchor to the small downtown, and makes the surrounding neighborhood a good place to buy or build a home. I haven’t seen any downside.

    Jon Reply:

    Exactly. It’s hard to see this extension as anything other than Livermore exerting their ‘right’ to a BART station. I do not see any justification in spending a billions dollars just to shorten the amount of time drivers spend on the freeway before they Park & Ride.

    The original plan was more expensive but would have made downtown Livermore a destination in itself without destroying the character of the place. Instead, Livermore wants to have access to downtown SF without allowing the scary car-free drug dealers of Oakland to access downtown Livermore. Pure racism.

    Peter Baldo Reply:

    I can appreciate concerns about crime, but crime doesn’t arrive by train. It usually shows up in an SUV. By making downtown attractive and bustling, and by making homes near downtown desirable places to buy and live, a downtown train station actually deters crime.

    David Reply:

    Don’t worry Jon, I see the current plan to extend to Isabel/I580 positively. Because no one right now wants to think about spending $3.8 Billion for the old plan wich I thought was excellent (But very expensive) and that kind of funding would not come anytime soon anyway. It’s probably best to build in phases if we can start faster and then once these incremental extensions are built maybe we can sneak the downtown plan back in? I don’t know, but at least Greenville Extension (Waste of Money) will not be set in stone, at least for a long while. In the meantime people will reconsider the downtown extension with a smaller price tag.

  10. jimsf
    Feb 24th, 2012 at 18:03

    I was researching a trip to the redwoods for this summer and came across this funny pic on some environmental website… spose to be an artist rendition of the future 101 in Humbolt Co. But the truth is, for LA, this is very realistic. Ive seen the way socal pours unlimted amounts of concrete indiscriminately without restraint or objection and clearly no limits on how much is spent.
    No doubt a future without high speed rail and other rail improvements really would look like this

    The scary thing is that our crazy southern california cousins don’t have a problem with it looking that !

    VBobier Reply:

    Holy cow Jim, 19 lanes, 10 going N and 9 going S, If I have the direction right that is, here where I live some parts are still 2 each way, other parts are 3 each way, in any case that’s a lot of concrete.

    nslander Reply:

    Yeah, you’re working with a perception of SoCal that’s reminiscent of a time when it was still referred to as “the Coast”. What has been the trend of concreting over So Cal the last 30 years? Where is that additional real estate for radically widened freeways going to come from and who would actually advocate that expansion? What is the current popular and political demand for additional rail vs freeway widening in Los Angeles? As a practical matter, its simply not going to happen.

    jimsf Reply:

    except that I was just in orange county driving around on what looked like brand new, gorgeous freeways, including empty carpool lanes which, unlike up north where the car pool lane is a normal lane with a diamond slapped on it, these socal car pool lanes are physically separated, and in some cases, completely independant ( and mostly empty) they tower up and over the other parts of the freeway. And it all looks fairly new. The amount of dedication to pouring lanes of concrete would make the Romans cry.
    Don’t get me wrong, Im fascinated by it all and I love driving down there just for the sake of driving around on such an amazing piece of art. I just get a litted miffed that when it comes to our budget and our water, nor cal is scrimping and saving and pinching pennies and counting drops while socalians, live their lives with total utter abondoned! I admire them and hate them at the same time.

    I think I drove from santa ana to la on my own private lane at one point.

    Donk Reply:

    Right, we are so blessed down in SoCal to have empty freeways. And of course you would assume that the carpool lane system is better in NorCal than in SoCal, since that is what you are used to. I bet you also are one of those people with an iphone who assumes it is the best thing in the world because it is the only thing you know and you are brainwashed by their marketing campaign.

    Whenever you go into your rants about LA, it is clear that you have no idea what you are talking about. At least try to make your blanket statements more specific to either LA or OC, since each has completely different funding priorities.

    jimsf Reply:

    Actually no, my point was that the car pool lane system in socal is far more luxurious. First of all you only need 2 people to use it, up north we have to have 3 people. why is that? Second, our car pool lanes are done on the cheap, as I said, a regular lane with a diamond painted on it. total investment… a can of paint. Down south, there are miles of physically separated structures, vast amounts of concrete, including huge elevated structures that carry only one lane. I wish we had so much our freeways up north are old and lame

    VBobier Reply:

    I think It may have something to do with population density, there’s more in the South than in the North.

    jimsf Reply:

    AGain, the Romans would drop their shields and kneel before caltrans and here and here and the very pretty one here and well you all know the rest.
    The only time in my 47 years I recall ever hearing about anyone opposing a freeway successfully in socal is that deal in pasadena. Whats up with pasadenians? Not team players I guess.

    Paulus Magnus Reply:

    The 241 extension south from Rancho Santa Margarita to San Clemente and the I-5 was successfully opposed as well.

    bixnix Reply:

    The *South* Pasadenians (it is a incorporated city separate from Pasadena) are the only ones you hear about because all of the other freeways have been dropped, such as the the one through Hollywood and Beverly Hills, the extension of the 2 through Silverlake, and the one through Whittier, just for starters. There was just no motivation for bulldozing tens of thousands of homes for more freeways. So South Pasadena supported the Gold Line, and got a stop.

    Also, Donk’s right … really, LA and OC are polar opposites when it comes to transit priorities. OC barely has a bus system in existence at the moment. Driving is easy, but there ain’t no other way to get around. Let’s not confuse the two.

    Donk Reply:

    The 105 freeway was a decades long legal battle that finally ended with a compromise to include the Green Line as mitigation. It was completed in the mid 1990s. This experience pretty much put a nail in the coffin with new freeway construction in LA. The only other new freeway was the 210 in far east LA county, but that was built in an area that was relatively sparse at the time and that supported the freeway.

    The reason why LA has all these fancy carpool lanes now is because new freeway construction in LA is done (except maybe the 710), so the funds are now going to improve existing freeways instead. All of the flyovers are a bit excessive at times, but greater LA has 13M people and tons of traffic, so if there is anywhere to justify it, it is in LA. Another reason lots of funding goes to carpool lanes is because people naively believe that it will encourage carpooling. Instead it is a useful tool for moms with babies in the backseat. (Personally I would define a carpool as two persons with drivers licenses, since including children does not take cars of the road).

    There are actually some carpool lanes in LA that require 3 people, such as the 10 east of downtown during rush hour. The 3+ lanes are reserved for the busiest freeways, and you will see more of these in the future based on supply and demand (ie, if the carpool lanes are overcrowded, they will increase the requirement to 3).

    OC has a different justification for their carpool lanes. In OC it is simply that they get stiffies over building freeways, and all of your blanket statements I accused you of making above can more or less apply to OC.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    And yet, LA just sank a billion dollars into adding one lane to the 405 in one direction.

    Nathanael Reply:

    For part of its length.

    Tom McNamara Reply:

    Remember that most carpool lanes in Southern California are actually busways shared by cars. It’s good for express bus transit, road trippers, and other people not trying to use the highway during rush hour.

    Moreover, a generation ago there were different reasons why everyone drove from the Valley to West LA or Downtown for work. Now it’s simply because even with the traffic, it’s the fast way to get there. (Seriously.)

    Tony d. Reply:

    I’m with you on this Jim. San Jose and Silicon Valley’s main highway connection to the CV is a two-lane farm road known as highway 152 (Pacheco Pass Highway). Yet LA and San Diego have complete systems with 10+ lanes and the aforementioned carpool lanes..simply amazing (and disgusting)!

    jimsf Reply:

    I drove from someplace I think it was costa rica on the 55 to the 5 to la and they have this amazing car pool structure that goes on and on for miles and miles. again, my own private lane. it was a kick.

    Donk Reply:

    It was probably in OC. That carpool lane is luxurious. Once you hit the 5 in LA it is a complete dump. They are currently working on expanding the freeway from the OC border to the 605.

    VBobier Reply:

    And expanding the 5 from OC to the 605 won’t be cheap & I think It’s going to be a few years before Caltrans gets started, let alone gets done with it.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    I don’t want to rehash old debates, but there’s a much stronger commute tie to Silicon Valley from Stanislaus and San Joaquin Counties than from Merced Counties.

    Tony d. Reply:

    Totally agreed. However, SJ/SV should still have quality freeway access to the southern CV and I-5, SoCal. If you witnessed the hundreds of big rigs and autos on Pacheco Pass highway in Gilroy, you’d understand.

    joe Reply:


    The route to I-5/LA needs a fix – 152 used to back up for hours until the 152/156 overpass. My hope is that future expansion of 101 to Route 25 to 152 is 4 and not 6 lanes because there is a rail line to LA.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    My hope is that HSR is going to obviate the need for any expansion. Air breathers first, emitters second.

    joe Reply:

    My hope too.

    Hwever, this stretch of 152 is an unsafe, narrow 2 lane country road. A modest safety oriented expansion to provide 4 lanes to/from 101 to I-5 would allow for passing and eliminate head-ons. Maybe re-routing trucks further on 101 to past Gilroy to HW 25 and then over to 156/152.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    If 2 lane roads are unsafe, how come traffic fatalities skyrocketed when the US built 6-lane freeways to replace them?

    I’m not just being snarky. Yes, for an individual stretch, narrow county roads are not safe. They’re even less safe at 30 mph than freeways are at 60 mph. But road safety is psychological; make one stretch of road safer, and drivers will drive more recklessly in general, preventing any gains in network-wide safety. Replace the 2-lane US Highways with the 6-lane Interstates and people will just flood the roads with cars, causing more accidents rather than fewer. It took decades of subsequent social learning – including not just better driving but also a withdrawal of pedestrians from the streets – to go back to the per capita traffic death rate of the 1940s.

    joe Reply:

    Clip and save.
    That suggestion reminds me of the guy who moved after reading most accidents occur five mile radius from your home.

    Nathanael Reply:

    The main thing which is actually unsafe is roads which *appear* safe.

    If a road *looks* horrendously unsafe, it’s very very safe, because only the drunk will try speeding on it; everyone else will be very careful.

    If it *looks* safe, people will ignore the hidden dangers.

    Lots of studies are now corroborating this. You want to make roads safe? Make them *look* unsafe. What *looks* safe is quite different from what *is* safe. In particular, the appearance of narrow lanes and lack of shoulder is very effective; this suggests that shoulders which look dangerous but are actually relatively safe (flat but planted in tall grasses, perhaps?) would be ideal. Though lack of visibility *looks* safe to most people but *is* unsafe, so that’s another thing to think about.

    Increasing lane width and increasing the number of lanes of a road both makes it look safer *and* makes it a lot less safe. This means it should never be done.

    D. P. Lubic Reply:

    I’ve long been of the opinion that there are very few really “unsafe” or “dangerous” roads. “Dangerous” to me is something like going into a burning building as a firefighter, or being in combat. In one, there is the active destructive force of the fire which can either kill you outright, or cause the building you are in to collapse; in combat, other people are trying to kill you. That road? Is it going to jump up at you and bite you? No, it just lies on the ground like a rug!

    Now, the difference is that some roads are less forgiving of error than others. The same road even can become unforgiving, if there is ice on it. Big deal–just drive differently.

    The most dangerous aspect of driving is the upredictable part–other creatures. Some, in my area, have four legs and are called deer. They can tear up a car pretty bad. Out west or up north, you’ll have large creatures to deal with, such as moose and bear. Those would be harder on the car.

    The far greater danger is the two-legged creature called other drivers. Not only are some of them incompetent, distracted, or drunk, they are encased in a hard, metal shell that weighs a couple of tons. It would be better if we could keep them away, but we seem to be too wimpy as a society to demand that people really know how to drive, so that’ that.

    Paulus Magnus Reply:

    LA doesn’t have a carpool lane on the 5. Measure M is why OC highways are so nice, especially in comparison to LA’s. Every time I drive home from LA (since I sometimes work later than Amtrak and Metrolink run), I cheer when I hit the OC border.

    We are also spending a good chunk of change on increasing Metrolink and Amtrak capacity, service, and speed, but unfortunately some of the stuff requires LA to coordinate and spend and they aren’t always willing to do so.

  11. jimsf
    Feb 24th, 2012 at 18:05

    It might be a kick to drive on actually. just keep it down there though.

  12. jimsf
    Feb 24th, 2012 at 19:40

    City of Glendale wants in on the action

    grab grab grab. sheesh.

  13. jimsf
    Feb 24th, 2012 at 23:00

    Ironic. Id love to go to this meeting and it would be so easy to get to from merced on high speed rail, quickly, there and back for the evening. instead I have to drive 3 hours each way. 12 gallons of gas at 4+ bucks, a 50 dollar trip and a 10 hour commitment.

    joe Reply:

    Don’t forget the gas lines, 64 oz Big Gulp and bathroom breaks.

  14. D. P. Lubic
    Feb 24th, 2012 at 23:11

    Off topic, but good for an hour and fifteen minutes of light fun: the 1941 film, “Broadway Limited,” with some good Pennsylvania Railroad footage, and a few laughs:

    Internet Archive link:

    YouTube link:

    Things have been a little heavy with a flame war and some other things, so it’s time to take a breather. . .

  15. synonymouse
    Feb 24th, 2012 at 23:18

    Can you do that in a doodlebug? Perfect fit for SMART and the price is right.

    D. P. Lubic Reply:

    Syn, we should be friends, and I kind of hope we are, being both steam enthusiasts and all, but this is a little lame. I mean, such high-powered cars, even in the days of muscle cars, weren’t all that practical.

    I have a coworker (who’s about to retire–lucky dog!) who owned a Corvette, which is a bargain in the high-performance car field, capable of holding its own, and even capable of beating “supercars” such as Ferraris costing three or four times as much. He loved it, but he gave it up because he couldn’t use its full potential.

    All that oomph (and the money it cost) doesn’t do you much good on a road like that 19-lane monster Jim SF had the doctored photo of.

    VBobier Reply:

    Lies & deluded propaganda, Rupert Murdoch Himself said the Truth doesn’t sell commercials on FOX News, So why buy their Garbage? When FOX ought to be hauled off as Garbage…

  16. D. P. Lubic
    Feb 25th, 2012 at 08:57

    In other news, the House attack on Amtrak seems to have been tempered a bit, the Senate has its own problems, and it looks like the station at Princeton, N.J. is going to stay put:

  17. synonymouse
    Feb 25th, 2012 at 10:34

    I suspect the unions will send a bunch of thugs to pack the meeting and “lean on” the little people. That’s why we have the secret ballot.

    joe Reply:

    You forgot Acorn and the Black Panthers!

    synonymouse Reply:

    I think the Panthers might be a little sympathetic to the neighborhood, as infrastructure goons have trashed the ghetto lotsa times.

    Peter Reply:

    I doubt the Panthers would care (a) about white NIMBY neighborhoods that (b) are already bisected by a rail line and that (c) aren’t going to be razed.

  18. jimsf
    Feb 25th, 2012 at 11:41

    La / Oc etc. up north la looks like this….

    Donk Reply:

    People in San Diego would not be very happy to see your map.

  19. Spokker
    Feb 25th, 2012 at 13:35

    Gasoline is around $4.15 here and we want to build an orphan rail segment in the Central Valley.

    Spokker Reply:

    Keep in mind that it’s FEBRUARY.

    synonymouse Reply:

    Maybe higher fuel costs might affect bids on the orphan project, but I don’t think the high command gives a damn anymore. It looks to me like it’s day to day grab the most or whatever you can get, like volatile stock market traders.

    Van Ark probably quipped under his breath: “Apres moi, le deluge.” Or “kaput”.

    Peter Reply:

    For the last time, he’s South African, not French. And I guess you don’t know how to spell “kaputt,” either.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    South Africans are free to mutter things in French. If he was then muttering in English it’s spelled with one “t”.

    synonymouse Reply:

    I should have used “kaputt” because I was thinking of Curzio Malaparte. A literary heavyweight – not just any writer has a work placed on the Index. If I ever do learn Italian I’ll put him on the try to read list along with Dante Alighieri.

    wu ming Reply:

    refinery fire at the cherry point refinery in washington a week or so ago took out 20% of washington’s gasoline, and BP made good on its contracts to deliver gas buy buying it from CA refiners. extra demand on the same supply = price spike.

    VBobier Reply:

    $4.15? Here gas starts at $4.099 for unleaded, for the moment at least.

  20. jimsf
    Feb 25th, 2012 at 17:16

    Anyway can we please start building this thing now. enough talk. this is getting boring waiting around for something to happen.

    Oh and It just occured to me, not to bring up the dreaded altamont pacheco debate… but being out here in the valley.. from a merced/madera/fresno/visalia regional viewpoint…. cutting over at 152 with easy access to the monterey bay and south bay and up to the city, really does make a lot more sense.

    Andrew Reply:

    Second paragraph: Yes, that’s what I keep saying. Totally agree.

    Peter Baldo Reply:

    I do worry that folks north of the bay and east of the bay will be so cut off from this thing, that they’ll continue to drive. That’s mostly the fault of geography, of course, and not conspiracy or incompetence.

    joe Reply:

    For Marin riders, a ferry ride would get you pretty close to the TB Terminal terminus — right?

    Michael Reply:

    Not where the ferry docks or where the closest entrance to the Transbay Terminal would be. Fieldwork is not over-rated.

    I suspect that Marin and Sonoma riders would utilize private “airporter” buses that would find a market bringing them from their established stops in the North Bay to the TTT, as they do now to SFO and OAK.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    Or they could just use the Golden Gate Transit bus that runs to the big bus terminal hovering over the train station. Or use the airport shuttle to go to the HSR station at the airport.

    jimsf Reply:

    The walk from the ferry buiding to the transbay is short and sfbay folks walk that far everday upon arrival by multiple modes. Its not modesto. People in sf walk everywhere, even up big famous hills, with no problem. Even iwth bags, and computers and handtrucks laden with file boxes, and groceries and shopping bags!

    Or yes there is the bus that takes them to the giant bus thingy on top of the train place.

  21. jimsf
    Feb 25th, 2012 at 17:28

    Meanwhile in Hanford, looks like the folks are lawering up now….not so much to stop the project, but to maximize their eminent domain pricing.

    I for one, would be shocked to find out that all the blather about “family farms” and childhood memories, went up in smoke as soon as the check was big enough.

    Roger Christensen Reply:

    All lawyered up and ready for love. They have already held workshops on How to Respond to an EIR.
    I personally know two families who live on 1-2 acre plots on the east of Hanford row but they don’t speak to me as I am considered Satan. It’s very Santorumesque.
    I guess we find out at Thurs Board meeting the schedule for the decision on the route??
    Dan Richard’s comments in Fresno seemed to signal a preference for the west alignment.
    Uh-oh. There goes the check.

    Peter Reply:

    No, no decision on the Fresno-Bakersfield alignment this week. That won’t occur until the staff is ready to make its recommendation after they have gone through public comment on the Revised Project EIR.

    jimsf Reply:

    I know others in king co who have the same prob with neighbors having opposite political views. they are bunch of kooks down there. Off their trollies. Angry, bitter delusional and paranoid.

    I hope the train criss crosses the county diagonally twice.

    Nathanael Reply:

    That would be a bit slow. Unless you mean the “Spanish solution” with both an express and a local route. :-)

    Reality Check Reply:

    Landowners on HSR line pack eminent domain workshop

    “I’m really glad I went,” said Gaspar. “I felt I got information I wasn’t going to get from the Authority. Obviously the appraiser that’s going to come out is going to be working for the Authority and not the property owner, and today I got to hear from somebody independent on how they see the process. I felt like I left more informed than I ever could have if I tried to research all this myself online.”

    Gaspar said the proposed rail line east of Hanford would take about 8-10 acres of their dairy, slice through her mother-in-law’s house, take out a well and several monitoring wells, go through corrals and a lagoon, reduce water access and run right alongside a dairy barn, requiring it to be moved or replaced. In addition, they will lose street access, and part of the dairy will be on the other side of the rail line.

    Gaspar is hopeful that legal efforts such as a lawsuit filed by Kings County, Fukuda and farmer John Tos that will be heard June 15 will ultimately stop the project. But she also knows she can’t count on those efforts succeeding.


    CCHSRA co-chairman Aaron Fukuda said an estimated 350 parcels in the county are impacted on just the proposed route east of Hanford. That numbers rises to almost 600 when the impact of overpasses envisioned as part of the project are taking into consideration, said Fukuda.

    CCHSRA also took signatures at the workshop for a petition for the No Train Please Act, a ballot initiative designed to end the high-speed rail project. It would eliminate the California High Speed Rail Authority and prohibit the use of state funds for high-speed rail unless approved by a state referendum.

    Nathanael Reply:

    Ah, so CCHSRA is spreading FUD again.

  22. jimsf
    Feb 25th, 2012 at 17:41

    and why does the caltrain website state that this cboss thing is being implemented as
    CBOSS PTC Project will be designed to work with Caltrain’s existing diesel-based service and will also be compatible with future plans to electrify the Caltrain system. The Caltrain CBOSS PTC Project allows Caltrain to fully utilize the high-performance capabilities of its future electric-powered fleet. Caltrain is also working in coordination with the California High Speed Rail Authority to ensure that the project is compatible with future high-speed rail service.

    One of the few things I would agree with richard m on is wasting time with a separate incompatble system, but it says here that it has chsra’s blessing.


    Clem Reply:

    It does only in the sense that there are tens, if not hundreds of millions to be made by the consultant mafia by undertaking the integration of several systems. The amount of testing and analysis required to qualify these safety-critical technologies is staggering. But don’t you worry yourself about the cost; this is safety we’re talking about, and would you want women and children to die?

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    In the mean time the foamers over on are all a twitter because Metro North has budgeted 200 million to install ACSES and SEPTA has budgeted 100 million to install ACSES….. or less than CBOSS is expected to cost.

    Nathanael Reply:

    CBOSS is an atrocity.

    Actually, I can’t imagine why Metro-North is budgeting more for ACSES than SEPTA is. Metro-North has a section which already *has* ACSES and has fewer, less complicated lines than SEPTA. What gives? Is it the drawbridges? Are there serious problems with existing Metro-North signalling which need to be fixed?

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    SEPTA is ACSES-ified to Wilimington, Trenton and Harrisburg on Amtrak’s dime. Grand Central is going to be a bit of high wire act and Amtrak doesn’t care about Grand Central. SEPTA uses overhead electrification so they have tidy places to hang new communications systems already in place. Or SEPTA is lowballing the estimate and Metro North isn’t. Or Metro North is allocating the onboard equipment to the plan and SEPTA isn’t. Or the foamers are pulling their numbers out thin air.

    synonymouse Reply:

    Central Suxway as undead as cboss:

    Gerry Cauthen, whom I haven’t seen in decades, unfortunately, and who is a very thoughtful guy, describes Rose Pak’s magnum opus as “a permanent embarrassment to those who sponsored and supported it.”

    You could apply the same observation to the CHSRA scheme and so many others emanating from “Central Planning”.

  23. D. P. Lubic
    Feb 25th, 2012 at 20:48

    I haven’t been following all the technical details as well as I should have, but what was interesting recently was the rational for CBOSS. Supposedly this additional overlay to a regular PTC system was to allow crossing gates to close normally for moving trains, or to stay up if a train were stopped at a station, letting the gates come back down when the train restarted.

    The funny thing is, there are motion detector circuits available for grade crossings that essentially do just that; they use the usual track signal circuit. See a reference on page 127:

    Other material:

    Have trouble sleeping? This will probably cure it–unless you get all upset at the people who keep wanting to build CBOSS. . .

  24. Responsible_Thought
    Feb 25th, 2012 at 23:49

    Given that the Governor and Rail Authority are at this moment working away on a revised plan and budget that includes the blended option, what could possibly be the benefits of this hearing? We can only hope the Governor can show up himself with enough information about pending plans to ask them to wait until he presents the plan and budget.

  25. jimsf
    Feb 26th, 2012 at 09:12

    Clem Reply: February 26th, 2012 at 8:26 am
    It does only in the sense that there are tens, if not hundreds of millions to be made by the consultant mafia by undertaking the integration of several systems

    That’s just not acceptable. for all the aruging over issues we do on this blog, altamont, palmdale etc etc, those things are a matter of opinion and preference ( I prefer more one seat access to more places for instance- others disagree)

    but something like this… the blatantl redundancy of it.. some one has to call them on it. Is there no one in sacramento or the media who is smart enough to understand ptc who can make an issue of it? ( there definately aren’t any real journalists any more who will do it)
    there only needs to be one statewide universal train control system and all the railroads should be using it. someone better put a stop to this.

    Also on another note… since caltrain will be blended with hsr… does that mean that hsr can use the new platforms and stations that caltrain just built or remodeled or are we still planning to tear down brand new construction and built again.
    i agree with Ricahrd that the corrupt and inept people who run caltrain should be gotten rid of.

  26. jimsf
    Feb 26th, 2012 at 11:39

    Ma href=””>high speed rail opens at least its a start.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    I hope they realize that by calling that HSR, they’re diluting the brand. The top speed targeted is 110 mph; and it’s not even 110 mph all the way, because trains are still delayed for half an hour heading into and out of Chicago because of the freight bottlenecks there. Passenger rail could get an immense amount of goodwill from the Class Is, to say nothing of meaningfully improving Amtrak’s Midwestern network, if it paid for an Alameda Corridor-style improvement in the Chicago area.

    Paulus Magnus Reply:

    Why hasn’t Illinois done something like that actually?

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    Chicago doesn’t need an Alameda corridor. They are slowly but surely chipping away at the chokepoints. I forget the name of the crossing, they are grade separating the nasty one on the South Side. Won’t speed things up much but it will increase reliability.

    fake irishman Reply:

    Englewood. I’m looking forward to not waiting in line there during “Metra Madness” as my favorite conductor likes to put it.

    Nathanael Reply:

    This is the first in the east-from-Chicago upgrades. The next is the “Indiana Gateway” improvements, then Grand Crossing (unfunded) to help the southbound Amtrak trains, then “South of the Lake” exclusive tracks to avoid the worst of the industrial congestion in Indiana, and finally exclusive tracks running at higher speeds through Chicago itself.

    Peter Baldo Reply:

    There’s also the Indiana Gateway Project, a $70 Million upgrade of the Norfolk Southern between Chicago and Porter, IN. These tracks are used by the Amtrak trains to Michigan and the east coast. Construction is supposed to start soon.

    Beta Magellan Reply:

    A lot of Chicago’s already separated from road traffic—there’s already the CREATE, which aims at resolving some of the worst conflicts (Adirondacker’s thinking of the Englewood flyover). If any more concrete needs to be laid, it’s the sort of work that Adirondacker suggests. Otherwise, a number of Metra’s lines don’t see much freight (Metra Electric’s almost completely separate from the rest of the us rail network—if Metra had any sense they’d have tried to get a waiver instead of buying heavy new gallery EMUs) and, with a couple of exceptions, those that do can be accommodated by better signaling and the odd passing track.

    The big shared freight-passenger corridor—the BNSF line heading to Aurora (if you’re on Metra) and points west (if you’re Amtrak) is already three- or four-tracked and runs 12 Metra tph during peak periods. There have been speculative proposals to four-track the entire route—this would probably allow for more sensible reverse, limited-local and off-peak (BNSF tries to schedule its freight for midday to avoid interfering with rush hours), but they’ve never gotten anywhere. There are long non-grade-separated segments through the suburbs, but with a couple of exceptions the local communities seem to have adapted to a constant stream of passengers and freight (of course, if this were any other country Metra would also be looking into rolling stock that can start and stop quickly to get out of freight’s way…).

    Nathanael Reply:

    I think Metra’s problem is that (1) they cross freight tracks at grade, (2) they share track with the South Shore Line, and (3) the South Shore Line runs freight. Hard to get a waiver unless the FRA will admit that it’s safe to have lightweight passenger equipment share tracks with heavyweight passenger equipment, which it hasn’t done yet.

    Nathanael Reply:

    I mean regarding getting a waiver for Metra Electric.

    Beta Magellan Reply:

    IIRC, there won’t be any freight running parallel to ME after the Englewood flyover’s finished—perhaps there will still be some crossings south of Chicago that need to be taken care of (although, as a fairly regular former rider both peak and off-peak, the Metra Electric line’s very, very reliable, so I doubt freight interference is an issue in the way it is on other Metra lines).

    Caltrain’s waiver allows for mixing of FRA-compliant and noncompliant commuter trains, although they’re not treating it as a precedent so I’d assume Metra would have to fill out all the same paperwork again, which is a disincentive (but it probably doesn’t outweight the benefits of switching).

    Alon Levy Reply:

    Metra is a far larger agency than Caltrain, with a long history of running trains. If it asks for a waiver, it’ll probably get one.

    Nathanael Reply:

    Chicago’s problem is harder than an Alameda corridor, because there are *six* class Is who have lines criss-crossing each other (for historical reasons) and it has been very hard to get any of them to swap, which is what is needed to straighten out the tangle.

    The plan to straighten out the tangle is known as CREATE.

    Anyway, for this plan, and for doing its best to fund it, Chicago and Illinois appear to have gotten precisely no good will from UP, and even less from CN, which just dropped out of CREATE because it was taking too long for their tastes. NS, BNSF, and CP seem to be fairly friendly to passengers in the Chicago area already! (UP isn’t, despite running passenger trains for Metra.) I don’t know what to say about CSX in the Chicago area, since I haven’t noticed any particular comment or behavior from them on either CREATE or passenger trains in the area.

    I have to say that the attitude towards passenger trains is just a corporate leadership attitude; some are nice, others aren’t. They don’t seem to respond to incentives or gifts, though occasionally they respond to punishments.

  27. jimsf
    Feb 26th, 2012 at 11:39
  28. D. P. Lubic
    Feb 26th, 2012 at 12:16

    In other news, George Will, of all people, thinks the Republicans are nuts for trying to get into office on the discontent with high gas prices:

    And a Republican candidate thinks oil is a “renewable resource;” where do they get these guys?

    I have called the Republicans the Repugnant Ones, and this one fits the bill, if it is true (as suggested by a commentor on the site above) that this was on his website several days after Congresswoman Gabby Giffords nearly died in that shooting incident in Arizona:

    Question–Is it true? Supposedly that photo of Sarah Palin in patriotic bikini and with a rifle was a fake shot, so who knows these days.

    D. P. Lubic Reply:

    The Republicans used to be considered a rather boring party, pro-business of course, but also at least knowledgeable on money and some technical matters; I just can’t understand how they have gone so insane, and empty:

    Obama is much more sensible, much more truthful (at least on this subject), but will anybody really listen?

    Nathanael Reply:

    Oh, I can tell you the history of Republicans going insane. Do you want the long version or the short version? The long version involves the Federalists and the Whigs.

    The short version starts with FDR. After the Great Crash, and after FDR seized the “help poor people” political position, the only Republicans who could win office on their “more money for the rich” trickle-down policies (which they’d been doing since the 1890s) were those who screamed about insane cultural issues. This started off with the Red Scare and McCarthy.

    Eisenhower was able to win by basically being a Democrat-Lite. However, this policy was not retained, as Republicans realized that when they did this, they kept losing to real Democrats, unless they were famous generals.

    Then came the Civil Rights Act of 1964. The Democratic Party finally booted the racist Dixiecrats. The plutocratic Republicans, desperate for a source of votes, decided to go with the racist Dixiecrats. This was followed by the second wave of the women’s rights movement. With Democrats backing that, Republicans decided to oppose it (again, to claim the votes of the reactionaries). This happened repeatedly, and they invited more and more obsessive extremist bring-back-the-past fanatics into the party.

    By the time Goldwater ran and lost, this was beginning to seem like a bad idea. However, the situation gets worse: the “sensible” Republicans, being intent on getting votes by appealing to the crazies, decided to lie nonstop in order to appeal to the crazies, who were now the “base”. So every election, they attacked “government spending” — but then proceeded to spend lots, of course. Every election they called for restrictions on abortion — but then most of them didn’t really bother to do anything about it.

    (The long version explains why they were prone to this type of hypocritical dishonesty. The Federalists ran on an openly elitist platform *and lost resoundingly*; so the Whigs ran on a purportedly populist platform but *governed* as elitists, with some success; and this procedure has been used by elitist authoritarians in the US ever since.)

    Unfortunately, while this strategy worked marvellously with Reagan, who because of his dementia could lie through his teeth about anything without even *knowing* he was lying, and who therefore sounded very convincing to people watching non-verbal cues, it had a dangerous flaw.

    By repeatedly spreading lies, the elite hoped to convince the masses to vote for them; while the elite knew what policy they *really* intended to implement. Unfortunately, the *next generation* of the Republican elite had *grown up* on the lies and believed them 100%.

    And once your entire organization believes your own bullshit, it’s only a matter of time before it spirals catastrophically out of control. Which it is doing as we speak. Bush the elder was one of the last prominent Republican politicians who grew up before the lies were endemic in the party.

    Now it has no chance of coming back from the abyss. Like the French ancien regime leaders who believed in their own “divine right to rule”, like the German leaders before World War I who actually thought they could fight Russia, France, and England simultaneously and win, they’ve gone too far into the rabbit hole to regain sanity collectively. Individuals may break out (though I think few at the higher levels will) but the organization is a goner.

    D. P. Lubic Reply:

    Nathaniel, that’s a heck of a reply, and sounds like a hell of a story. Have you considered writing a book on the subject? Calling the Republicans on what they were, and have become–whooee!! I can hear (and enjoy) the indignation now!!

    I wonder how it would sell?

    And the sequel–what has made the Democrats the Disappointing Cats? The party that fought the Depression, WW II (and had some notable veterans–real heroes–from that conflict among its high-level politicians), fought for civil rights and feminism (which I have to admit I have not always been in agreement with, but I’m old-fashioned), has become rather wimpy in the last 30 years. It started out with talk by the Republicans that the Dems were “soft on defense,” but now it seems they are unable to even to fight the distortions and outright lies of the “Repugnant Ones.” How did that come to be–and what kind of book could you write on that?

    D. P. Lubic Reply:

    Speak of the devil! Check out what Kathleen Parker has to say about the Republicans vs. Obama:

    The comments section is huge compared with almost anything here, so I’ll include a few highlights:

    “Obama has this group of ‘graying white males’ absolutely head-over-heels apoplectic. So dazed by their rage are they that he was able to toss a blatently obvious piece of meat out there in the form of the contraception requirement and watch from afar as the ensuing shark-frenzy saw the Republicans eat themselves.

    “There isn’t a single politician in the Republican party today that can match wits with Obama politically.

    “This election will be a slam-dunk!”–MichSeag

    “Ms. Parker, while I agree with you on your conclusion that Sen. Santorum should not under any circumstances be the Republican candidate for President, I wholeheartedly disagree with your assessment: “Bottom line: Santorum is a good man. He’s just a good man in the wrong century.”

    “Does a good man charge the taxapayers of PA the cost of homeschooling his children while he is living in another state? I don’t think so.

    “Does a good man assert that mainline Protestants state are in the “grip of Satan”? As a mainline Protestant, I find that belief abhorrent beyond the pale.

    “Does a good man assert that someone, in this case the President of the United States is a “snob” because they want children to have a college education? Last time I checked advocating for ignorance wasn’t a good thing.

    “Does a good man believe that separation of church and state in this country makes him want to “throw up”?

    “This man is not good at all. In my opinion he is an intolerant bigot and shame on the Republican Party for not minimally pre-qualifying its candidates. Further, I know many, many Catholics. They ARE genuinely good people and are nothing like this man. He does them all a big disservice by his outrageous statements.

    “Finally, stop placing the blame for Sen. Santorum’s extremist views on our President. What our President says and does has absolutely nothing whatever to do with the awful things Sen. Santorum says. Republicans are always whining about others who they feel are not taking responsibility for themselves. They are always whining about an entitlement society. Yet apparently this same Party has no qualms about unfairly blaming a sitting President for the faults and shortcomings of its own candidates. Time to look in the mirror.”–bls2011

    Most interesting are comments by Republican readers:

    “Kathleen, you are so correct. I’m a life long Republican who is now looking for an out. The party I was once proud of has been taken over by self rightious morons who want more government intrution in people’s lives than even Nacy Pelosi ever dreamed of. Unfortunately, there is nowhere to turn for a moderate Republican. Obama is a terrible president but the current Republican party is almost guaranteeing his relelection. What a sorry state of affairs.”–pscott2

    “I am amazed at how many life-long conservative Republicans who are leaving the party. Of course, they have no where to go, but no longer wish to be associated with neanderthals (my apologies to that extinct race for the comparison). Not all of them are without intelligence, and wince at the enthusiastic embrace of ignorance by the right wing. They started out thinking the conservatives had the intellectual edge, and now have to admit that is no longer the case, and the right-wing now has no intellect at all.”–frtydonfields

    “I could not agree with you more. Although I am a lifelong fiscally prudent liberal, I actually believe that the best government is adversarial, where there is a damn good argument weighing a status quo against a wish for change. We don’t even have debate anymore. All I see is a rancorous exchange – filled with half truths and incredible ignorance.

    “People like Norquist got far too much access to elected representatives – under false pretenses. The man poses as an economist, but his real goal was to gut any type of entitlement system – regardless of the fact that most of it was paid into – in good faith by the prospective recipients.

    “Issues like this, and where we send our military should be presented to the American people, with truth and candor.”–nick212

    “nick212, I think most liberals are fiscally conservative. The whole idea of liberalism is to examine ideas for their practical value, not for their ideological content. It is important to liberals that the financial affairs of our country are in such condition to pass scrutiny from the most cautious bankers. That is how we run a prosperous country. We have allowed the conservatives to claim competence in an area where they are truly at odds with the country and with reality itself. Their formula for government is antiquated and ill-informed, and the idea that they represent conservative ideals in government finance should have been laid to rest by the performance of the Bush administration”–frtydonfields

    “Actually if you are moderate center right Eisenhower style republican you are essentially a 21st century Democrat. there are a few old school New Deal Dems left, but not many. Most are like Obama, center right, market capitalist moderates.”–John1263

    “I agree with pscott2 and frtydonfields. I am surprised more low level Republicans, many of whom are quite sensible and govern well, have not gotten the backbone to speak out against the hijacking of the party by the radical absolutists. I write this as a progressive who knows, respects, and has voted for Republicans at the local level.”-

    “I was a Republican, but a few years ago I decided the party had left me. Everyone I supported was labeled a RINO, so why stay a Republican if they don’t even consider my views legitimate? I left, was an independent for a while, but found, as the previous poster said, that I am a former moderate center right Eisenhower Republican who is now a 21st century Democrat.”–LeslieM1

    Looking forward to that book. . .

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    Supposedly that photo of Sarah Palin in patriotic bikini and with a rifle was a fake shot, so who knows these days.

    I dunno about the bikini but the ones where she is desecrating a flag by using it as a shawl are real.

    D. P. Lubic Reply:

    The shot and commentary on it:

    Alon Levy Reply:

    I love how George Will makes fun of George Allen for driving a Hummer. Let’s not forget that Will lied that Toyota is losing money on the Prius and needs SUV sales to subsidize it. At least now he’s into kinder, gentler pollution than that of the Hummer.

    Beta Magellan Reply:

    This was true for a short while after the Prius’s debut in the 1990s—I remember reading in 2000 that it was selling at a loss in Japan. As of 2001 it’s been making a profit on each car—I’d be surprised if Toyota hadn’t recouped its R&D costs by now.

    And if any automobile’s sales is subsidizing the Prius, it’s the Corolla.

  29. jimsf
    Feb 26th, 2012 at 13:39

    I love this line from the oil is a renewable resource guy — It’s no secret we could be 100 percent energy independent. We have all the supplies we need in this country if we just get the tofu eaters out of government at this point in time and put in some actual real Americans who believe in oil and coal and natural gas and nuclear and all these other things.

    I believe in nuclear power and I hate tofu. Yay I’m a real american(tm)!!!

    Miles Bader Reply:

    Remember: the solution to the energy crisis is more meat. Also guns.

    D. P. Lubic Reply:

    Comments from the clip:

    Obama is a hippie:

    “Only steak & tater eaters have good energy policies. Everybody knows that. And here we have Obama who wants steak, potatoes, AND a green salad — what a hippie.”–Adam Stallings

    Now I know I wouldn’t like tofu:

    “What? Kelly has a problem with people who eat tofu? Does he realize that tofu comes from soybeans, which is one of America’s three biggest commodity crops? Why does he want demand for soybeans to go down? Is he un-American?”–Victoria Lamb Hatch

    Good description of what the Republicans have sunk to:

    “Teatard candidates. Tripple filtered and cold brewed for double the flavor, and 99% intelligence free! 50% off with voter Ids and proof white Christian male heritage!”–Alexander Crowder

    This one speaks for itself:

    “It [oil] sure is a renewable resource! Just take a honking bjg meteor, have it destroy all human life in a cataclysm, wait 56 million years and–presto! More oil!”–Peter Benno Gillis

    Oil, and snake oil:

    “Peak oil denial is the new climate change denial. The same hacks will be selling us this same nonsense more and more. They’ll also be pushing the faith-based politics that go with it, because if you don’t believe in fossils then you don’t have to believe fuels ARE fossils.”–Matt Osborne

    You know what’s funny about that last one? You do find fossils, such as plant imprints, in coal and the shale that surrounds it. I should know, I’m from coal country!

    Alon Levy Reply:

    I love the comment about oil being a renewable resource. It’s better snark than the others, except maybe the first one, about Obama’s un-American eating of both steaks and salads.

    Do you have any cool photos of fossilized plants by any chance?

    D. P. Lubic Reply:

    Well, this is what I could easily find:

    Some kind of “replica” from a souvenir shop in my West Virginia:,2352.aspx

    D. P. Lubic Reply:

    An actual fossil for sale on E-Bay:$(KGrHqIOKjgE23CK(tVPBN4uW8jJO!~~_3.JPG

    Fossilized plants can be found in coal beds around the world, their delicate structures turned into coal:

    D. P. Lubic Reply:

    Classic coal mine song, performed by a classic Blue Grass group, the Country Gentlemen; note the line in which the “miner” speaks of his body becoming fossilized into coal at 2:12:

    Uneducated miners in the old days knew about the ancient forests that became their prize; what is with the Republican party that it is so willfully ignorant?

    I wonder if the Republicans have made too many visits to this fellow’s facility in Bluefield, W.Va.:

    D. P. Lubic Reply:

    And also in that clip, in regard to the generational aspect, 15 of the 30 visible or partially visible people had grey or white hair, or were balding; in short, fully half of the audience looked to be retirees. I think that’s a much higher ratio than is represented in the population as a whole, and on top of that, it was all white, as in 100%.

    D. P. Lubic Reply:

    And that bit about “tofu eaters,” what’s that about? What is tofu, anyway? I’ve heard about it, but never seen it, much less eaten it. Can’t say it sounds appetizing, anyway.

    In the meantime, I’ll have more of that roast beef, thank you, and my wife’s mashed spuds are better than anything in any restaurant.

    I guess I’m a Real American(tm), too.

    swing hangers Reply:

    I think U.S. tofu-eating has origins with the hippies and vegetarians, who were the first Westerners (in the 1970’s?) to include it in their diets as a meat substitute. Since then tofu-eating has been associated with the above groups, liberals and other “un-American” segments of the population. Btw, in Asia tofu is just a side-dish or condiment, not a meat replacement (except among hard-core Buddhists).

    Alon Levy Reply:

    It’s a kind of prepared soybeans. Don’t just buy it by itself – it wouldn’t be appetizing. But check out miso soup next time you go to a Japanese restaurant. Personally I like that, or the tofu-beef combos they have at some Chinese and Korean restaurants.

    synonymouse Reply:

    @ D.P.

    Tofu is quite tasty, either in Chinese or Japanese cuisine. The skin of the tofu is really the best part as it has a nice, chewy quality. It is one of the many reasons, like dim sum, to go to a real Chinatown. In the City you will pretty much always find good Chinese food.

    Making me hungry for a steamed char-siu-bao or gai-bow. Not too sure about the spelling.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    It’s the curds from soy milk like cottage cheese is the curds from cow milk. The stuff you’d find in a chain supermarket comes in soft bland, firm bland and extra firm bland. Vaguely like the difference between cottage cheese, pot cheese and farmers cheese.

    D. P. Lubic Reply:

    Bah, so the Repugnant Ones don’t like anybody who goes to a Chinese restaurant? Phooey, we even have them here. I go in for chicken and broccoli, or beef and broccoli, my wife likes chicken with some sort of noodles (I’m afraid I can’t remember what the dish is called).

    But then, as I recall, George H. W. Bush didn’t like broccoli. . .

    What a bunch of maroons. . .

    Alon Levy Reply:

    Going out to eat Chinese once in a while is normal. There’s just something about tofu that sounds weird to Real Americans – a lot of Western veg(etari)ans use it as meat substitute, and that makes it automatically suspect. It’s a lot like trains, actually.

    swing hanger Reply:

    Tofu is hippie food. So it’s also served on high speed trains. Un-American.

    D. P. Lubic Reply:

    Now I remember–my wife likes chicken lo mien.

    If those bozos don’t like the idea of Chinese cooking on a train, there is an easy answer to that–just set up a menu and practice like Fred Harvey. That was some good eating.

    I have a book on dining cars, and it includes a slew of recipies from railroads, including some used by Fred Harvey/Santa Fe. The French toast is interesting in that it uses cream or Half-and-Half instead of milk, and is topped with cinnamon and the usual syrup. It’s blooming awesome! The French toast comes out fluffy, like a delicate pastry. Of course, with all that cream in it, I hate to imagine what it does for your arteries. . .and that same bunch would complain about the dining car cost, too. . .

    Jonathan Reply:

    The “tofu eaters” reference sounds awfully like an update on quiche-eaters, as in “real men don’t eat quiche.”

    Richard Mlynarik Reply:

    Attention all mighty internet dudes!

    I just thought of an side splittingly funny, incredibly new, world class line.

    “California is full of fruits and nuts.”

    Ha hah hah! Get it? “Fruits” and “nuts”. (You can use “Google” if you’ve not heard of funny words “fruits” or “nuts” or “tofu”.) You know, like “fruits” and “nuts”. In California!

    God, I just kill myself.

    Peter Reply:

    That did actually make me laugh.

    bixnix Reply:

    Just be careful when ordering “stinky tofu”

  30. D. P. Lubic
    Feb 26th, 2012 at 13:45

    For the history fans–a new book out on the Pacific Electric:

  31. Jeff Carter
    Feb 26th, 2012 at 20:02

    There are numerous problems with the CHSRA and its consultant PB. Neither of which has any concept of cost containment. It’s: inefficient, over engineer, overbuild, pacify San Jose politicians, create the most disruption, and on and on… It is not about building a useful and efficient HSR system, its all about making engineers, consultants, and contractors’ filthy rich. The anti-HSR folks take full advantage of the CHSRA’s ineptitude with their own unscrupulous practices in their quest to kill the HSR project entirely. Groups such as Boondoggle and CC-HSR are not interested in facts or real world HSR operations. They instead choose to spread lies and fear mongering misinformation in order to kill HSR at all costs.

    Then we have state agencies such as the Legislative analyst and the State Auditor highly criticizing the project, not to mention the UC Berkley Institute of Transportation Studies condemning the ridership estimates.

    The cost estimates climbed significantly since the passage of Prop 1A, as has the date of completion of the HSR project.

    Why Pacheco over Altamont?

    Why the need for long bridges and a *signature* station at Diradon Intergalactic?

    Why the need for monolithic *stilt-a-rail* all along the peninsula?

    Why do grade separations in Palo Alto need to be more than twice as long (951 feet) as opposed to the grade separation at Hillcrest in Millbrae which is only 431 feet?

    Why do properties that will have a change in driveway elevation in Palo Alto require/assume the taking of the property?

    Why are homeowners and businesses along California Drive and Carolan Ave. in Burlingame convinced that their properties will be taken?

    Why do people believe that every tree within a few hundred feet of the Caltrain tracks will be cut down?

    Why did someone (or persons) claiming to represent Union Pacific and the Port of San Francisco approach business GMs/CEOs insisting that HSR and Caltrain electrification will end all freight service into San Francisco?

    Why are people (Boondoggle?) out in the Central Valley, claiming that HSR will *destroy* acres upon acres of pristine farmland?

    It goes on and on… Facts get grossly distorted and there is very little (organized) accurate information out there to counter the misinformation put out by the well-organized anti-HSR crowd.

    synonymouse Reply:

    @ Jeff Carter

    Fear not – this hsr “program” has as much inertia as any of our post WWII various and sundry foreign wars and will play out over 10+ years and cost a fortune. Future historians will judge it somewhere between abject failure and relative failure. But it cannot be stopped, altered, redirected, rationalized. Surge, Episode 1A.

    Nathanael Reply:

    Future historians will judge it a wise investment which had a lot of grifters attached to it.

    Not like wars. They are almost never wise investments.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    Or maybe they’ll judge it a disaster like the Railway Mania or the Gilded Age-era transcontinental railroad building – in other words, a lot of grift that also provided some ancillary infrastructure benefit.

  32. synonymouse
    Feb 26th, 2012 at 22:53

    Finally, finally we take baby steps toward the harsh but eye-opening truth:,0,3822925.column?track=rss

    It is now admitted that the “Angeles” have fallen so far into the pit that LA now ranks as the 2nd most corrupt city in the US. But after the Tejon scandal Lalaland is clearly the mother lode of scumsucking at the trough. By comparison to Palmdale Bell doesn’t even lift the Sleaze-O-Meter needle off the Big Zero bumper.

    They should relocate Guantanamo to Palmdale.

    If Villaraigosa has larger ambitions and wants to polish his image he should get the CHSRA back on track over Tejon post haste.

    Reality Check Reply:

    Completely O/T … but possibly of peripheral interest to Tejon fans and followers:
    Tejon Ranch to pay fine for killing mountain lions

    synonymouse Reply:

    I had seen that news item when seeking more info about them. Says a lot about their environmental awareness, doesn’t it.

    It looks like the whole controversy comes down to the trite, mundane issue of Antonio Villaraigosa’s desire to move on up the hierarchy. He evidently needs the Chandlers’ money and juice to pump up his political career. t.s. for the citizenry and the State.

  33. Tom McNamara
    Feb 27th, 2012 at 07:50
  34. Roger Christensen
    Feb 27th, 2012 at 10:01

    I am confused about the Draft SoCal MOU.
    Why are there upgrades listed for Phase 2 counties (San Berdoo, IE, San Diego)?
    There doesn’t appear to be upgrades between Sylmar and Palmdale. Because the assumption is that the IOS is Sylmar and not Palmdale?
    Union Station run through? Wow.
    Exciting upgrades but at the cost of draining down bond money and botch the connection between SoCal and the rest of the states?

    jim Reply:

    Because the assumption is that the IOS is Sylmar and not Palmdale? Probably. There really isn’t that much that can be done with the Soledad Canyon Line north of Santa Clarita.

    The way I read that memo is CHSRA is planning to run actual HSR between Sylmar and San Jose, some of which will run through at lower speed to San Francisco on Caltrain tracks. Amtrak-California is planning to run Surfliners between San Diego and Sylmar and Metro to run Metrolink between Anaheim and Sylmar, both diesel services connecting to HSR at Sylmar. Where the money for the mountain crossings comes from, I don’t know.

    synonymouse Reply:

    Another question is where the money is going to come from to run those half empty trains over the mountain crossing and pay the TWU guys $100-200k/yr and 8 weeks of annual leave.

    Nathanael Reply:

    The trains will be full.

    jimsf Reply:

    are you making things up or listening to fox news or what? no one is making 100-200k a year. not even close not even with the overtime. and no one gets 8 weeks of leave.
    After 11 years with the railroad I make …. including overtime… 54k and get 3 weeks vacation. After 25 years then you get 5 weeks.. for the last few years before you retire. On board staff starts at 16 an hour. as do muni drivers by the way.
    Conductors start at 25 an hour.
    Out of that 54k that I make I actually take home to live on…. 35k per year.. thats with overtime. Thats not 200k a year.
    We pay for medical, about 200 bucks a month, we pay our own 401ks with no matching funds ( unlike the private sector with generally offers matching funds) we for our pension as well which includes paying the equivelant of soc sec. tax AND tier two tax. med disablitly tax, and union dues.

    and there are no thugs, synonymous. I have had union jobs for the last 16 years and not once have a met a “union thug” NO one has ever told me what to do, or how to vote or what to say or think. Do you really think Id tolerate that? The people I work with are family people. ordinary americans, paying a mortgage and raising their kids, just like everyone else. The go camping and have bbqs, They get cancer and have heart attacks. They get married. etc etc. They aren’t thugs are they sure as hell arent rich… and they arent making 100k a year either.

    Tom McNamara Reply:


    This is an attempt by the MTA to use Prop 1a as a sort of mini-version of 30/10 where applicable. Measure R gives Metro a lot to work with in future years, but because of Congressional redistricting and other structural issues in Washington, they are acting very cash strapped.

    Brown realizes that the ability of a local jurisdiction to contribute up to $40 billion dollars over the next thirty years is nothing to sneeze at and is willing to listen.

  35. Roger Christensen
    Feb 27th, 2012 at 10:03


  36. Robbie
    Feb 27th, 2012 at 16:20

    Nice post, Robert. However, I think you missed the fact that Simitian did a lot of work to SAVE the HSR project. When he announced the blended approach with Eshoo and Gordon, he found a smart way to mitigate the concerns from the NIMBYist Peninsula, while still pushing ahead with the CHSR project. If it wasn’t for the proposal he put on the table (which, as you know, Caltrain and the CHSRA really liked and adopted), I think we’d face MUCH stiffer opposition from the Peninsula today. Simitian is clearly a supporter of HSR, but I think he has a right to be careful with his options. He may not be justified in doing so, but he has the right to do so.

  37. synonymouse
    Feb 27th, 2012 at 17:28

    Moonbeam to build Peripheral Canal without voter approval.

    And this “liberal” is better than Mega-Meg? At least the Canadians will get paid for the oil shipped south via the Keystone Pipeline. LA just steals our water. And it has only rained a little this year. Hetch-Hetchy is just a matter of time at this rate.

    Split the State.

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