What’s Behind HSR’s Recent Political Struggles?

Feb 7th, 2012 | Posted by

Today the Kern County Board of Supervisors voted 3-2 to oppose high speed rail, even though Kern County voters approved the project and Proposition 1A in 2008. I guess this means I can vote against the Bush Administration and the Black Death?

The three supervisors who voted against HSR did not bother to come up with an alternative solution to their 13.4% unemployment rate, to their county’s dependence on oil, and how it would threaten to make Bakersfield even more cut off from the Southern California metropolitan area. Presumably they don’t believe they need to think about those concerns – they must assume that the status quo is working out just fine and the bigger threat comes from taking action rather than standing still.

This vote won’t stop the project, of course, but it is another sign that high speed rail is facing some political struggles. It’s one thing for House Republican ideologues to defund it because they hate trains. It’s another for California elected officials to oppose a project this state desperately needs, and will benefit from just as other countries have around the world, because they don’t understand that the greater risk comes from doing nothing.

Some may point to the rising cost projections as an explanation of HSR’s struggles. The spate of official reports claiming the project is “risky” simply because House Republicans are attacking HSR – a principle which, if faithfully followed, makes virtually everything the State of California does a “risk” given Congress’ desire to slash funding for everything in sight – aren’t helping. Despite the mountains of evidence to the contrary, claims that HSR will struggle to get riders persist. NIMBYs have proven to be quite effective in scaring local politicians to flip-flop and oppose a project they once backed.

All of these factors matter. But the main problem is that we live in a country that is increasingly giving up on its future.

In the 20th century, both California and the United States were places where elected leaders generally preferred to solve problems rather than use them as excuses for doing nothing. California built dams, canals, bridges, freeways and universities that still power economic activity to this day.

It’s hard to imagine any of those things happening now. California as we know it today could never be built today. It would be too expensive, to risky, too unfamiliar, and piss off too many NIMBYs.

The difference is that for much of the 20th century, Californians understood that to have prosperity, you could not simply stand still. You had to build. You had to innovate. You had to do something new and sometimes do something a little bit risky.

Today, California is governed largely by people who are afraid of risks. Governor Jerry Brown is a notable exception, but that runs against the grain of a political and media class that got where they were by being cautious. Sure, that caution came at the expense of addressing problems, and one of the reasons we are in such a deep economic crisis today is because people found it easier to avoid taking action than to proactively solve problems. But caution and doing nothing was easier in the ’80s, ’90s and ’00s, and those who thrived during that period by doing nothing are now in positions of leadership and power. Brown, who attained political power in the ’70s, comes from a different era and is thus immune to the defeatism that is so pervasive in California politics.

This political defeatism is rooted in those segments of the state’s population that also thrived during the long, slow decline of the last 30 years. This group is best personified by the Palo Alto NIMBYs, folks who have more than enough money to handle any possible impact of high speed rail but who believe they don’t have any obligation to make such concessions. They are convinced that they got where they were by ignoring the needs of the society around them in order to live in their own narrowly conceived vision of an idealized 20th century community. Any effort to address the state’s economic, environmental, or transportation problems is immediately seen by them as a threat to their privileges, and rather than work together to solve those problems, they just prefer to ignore those challenges or somehow assume that their privileges will carry them through it just fine.

They’re the liberal side of a coin whose reverse is the right-wingers who believe that spending government money on anything other than services that benefit them exclusively is wrong. These Tea Party types see the cost of high speed rail, ignore the cost of doing nothing, and conclude that we shouldn’t spend money on trains or anything else that might help pull us out of the economic or environmental crisis because they too believe that it will come at their own expense.

On their own the Tea Partiers and the NIMBYs aren’t nearly powerful enough to influence policy. But when politics are controlled by defeatists who believe the way to solve problems is to ignore them, members of the public who have readymade arguments and justifications for doing nothing suddenly have a lot more power and influence than their numbers would justify. After all, the opponents of HSR lost the 2008 and 2010 elections badly, at least in California. But the political class enables them because they need someone they can point to in order to rationalize inaction.

As to the media, they are busy clinging to their vanishing audience. Rather than try and build a new audience among the Millennial generation, the largest generation currently alive, they are instead focusing on the Silents (folks about age 65 and over) and Boomers (about age 50-65), generations that have now grown deeply defensive of the fading 20th century values they were raised to believe were the Greatest Thing Ever. Most Tea Partiers and NIMBYs come from those age groups. The average age of a newspaper subscriber is 55. The media is skittish about challenging the values of that generation – and of course, most publishers and editors come from that cohort and share those values anyway. To them, high speed rail isn’t a noble idea but a classic example of the “omg government run amok!!!” story that they love to chase. The media, then, also act to justify political inactivity, giving it the veneer of respectability, even truth.

Four years into the economic crisis and at least seven years since California strongly embraced Al Gore’s Inconvenient Truth, the majority of the state’s population still believe that government ought to do something about unemployment and global warming. Californians heard all these same anti-HSR arguments in 2008 and rejected them, and rejected them again when Meg Whitman made them in 2010.

But with a political class unwilling to act to solve our problems, a media that refuses to see the need to change, and well-organized groups of people looking to prevent change, you have a powerful alignment of forces that can do something like slowly grind down the HSR project.

None of those forces will last much longer. Massive political change is coming. The newspapers will either adapt or die, and their moment of truth is not far away. The Tea Party and the NIMBYs will soon fade away as demographic replacement works its way through the generations. By the 2020s, perhaps sooner, public tolerance for inaction, defeatism, and giving up on our future will be at an end, replaced with a loud and proud demand for doing something to build a better future.

HSR is unfortunate to be just barely on the wrong side of that timeline. Even after 30 years of planning and four years after voter approval, the political forces that don’t want to change or take risks remain just strong enough to present a challenge. And the forces that want change and want to innovate are not yet able to reverse the situation.

This isn’t meant as an obituary for the HSR project. It’s not dead, and in fact its future remains bright, especially as long as both Governor Brown and President Obama support it. But it is important to recognize the nature of the challenge we face. Mobilizing public support means convincing people that the bigger risk is to stand still and do nothing.

Most other major projects in California faced a similar white knuckle moment. The Golden Gate Bridge project financing nearly fell apart after the successful public vote in November 1930 to authorize bonds. The California Aqueduct was nearly killed by the state legislature in 1959. It took decades for Shasta Dam to get approved. In each case, political leadership came together to solve problems and ensure that the infrastructure got built, and Californians have reaped the benefits ever since.

High speed rail will come through this rough patch. The case for it is too strong to be denied now, unless California really does want to go full Tea Party and abandon passenger rail in order to ignore the economic and environmental challenges the state faces. That won’t happen unless HSR advocates remain persistent and strong. The other side wants the advocates to give up. But they misunderstand us.

We won’t give up on HSR, because unlike them, we won’t give up on California’s future.

  1. Roger Christensen
    Feb 7th, 2012 at 21:52
    #1

    Ray LaHood speaking in Fresno tomorrow morning to business group.

    StevieB Reply:

    Secretary LaHood says, “This is very similar to building a freight rail system, which America has the best in the world and we have the best interstate in the world. If we take cues from those projects. We’ll get this right, and we’ll build it in sections.”

    “You can get on an interstate in America and go anywhere. That’s what they did for us. What are we going to do for our kids and grand-kids? We’re gonna leave them the next generation of transportation, passenger railways.”

    “This is about jobs. High-speed rail in America is about creating thousands of jobs. High-speed rail in California is about helping to get the California economy moving again, to get unemployment down, to put friends and neighbors to work. And implementing high-speed rail in California will do that,”

    “We will not turn a blind eye to any person who will listen to us, and will work with us to mitigate the loss of whatever they’re losing. Whether it’s agricultural land, or a building or whatever. We’re gonna try and find ways to mitigate this and fix it,”

    Secretary LaHood had several messages for the variety of supporters and detractors. Undeniably good news for everyone.

  2. Joe
    Feb 7th, 2012 at 21:58
    #2

    Austerity!

    The attack on HSR is rooted in austerity economics. We can not afford to borrow at historically low rates to build infrastructure. Instead we need to provide the “producers” with confidence so they will create jobs.

    Plus, hobbiest experts tells us country X can build a better system for half the price.

    Robert Cruickshank Reply:

    This too.

    Mac Reply:

    I am tired of hearing unfounded criticisms about CV residents. Tell me, Mr. Cruickshank…were you in attendance or did you view the Kern County Board of Supervisors meeting online or on television? I do not believe that you did. Your comments reflect your ideology, not what truly is happening. View it…see for yourself. It will be available online later today, I’m sure. Then evaluate. Why don’t you slice and dice how the HSR Authority bungled the planning of this project? They didn’t listen, didn’t collaborate and withheld information. This is no conservative conspiracy. What are you smoking? How can anyone come up with alternatives, when ideas, questions, suggestions seemingly just get lost in some sort of black hole just outside the HSR Authority headquarters? The CV is not against HSR. They are against THIS plan….and are tired of having it shoved down their throats as if they are too ignorant to notice.

    jimsf Reply:

    The problem with what you say is that, just because some local people want something or suggest something, it doesn’t automatically mean they are entitled to get their way. It doesn’t mean they know more about planning or railroads than other people. It usually just tends to be vocal minority whose interest is in moving the project into someone else’s backyard or its people with a political ideology to impose, or a combination of both.

    Amanda in the South Bay Reply:

    You know you can be entirely in support of HSR but strongly criticize how its being implemented (though you wouldn’t know that from this site).

    Mac Reply:

    Yes Amanda…..this blog can not hear that for whatever the reason.
    To them anyone criticiziing the current plan is in the “vocal minority” or “NIMBYS”. They treat it like a black and white issue. You either want this plan, or you are a fool. I am thinking that this blog is the “vocal minority”.

    Peter Reply:

    I’m not sure you can conflate “this blog” with “them” (its commenters). Commenters, either in favor of or against the project, do not represent the opinions of the blog’s author. Most commenters will sometimes agree with Robert, and sometimes they won’t.

    A few, of course, as is the case in any public access forum, are rabidly pro or rabidly opposed to the project. You can’t argue with them, either way.

    Mac Reply:

    You are right, Peter. My comment was made out of frustration . It was too much of a generalization. However, Mr. Cruickshank did make presumptions in his original blog about what occurred at the Kern County Board of Supervisors Meeting yesterday that were mean spirited. That is why I asked whether he had actually viewed the event…and encouraged him to do so. I must also say that I haven’t seen many entries that are “rabidly con” on the topic of HSR on this blog. And I am glad.
    As you say…anyone who is stuck in either the “rabidly pro or con” mode cares little about reasonable discussion and sharing ideas. The issue isn’t black or white. Rude comments and mean spirited presumptions are not helpful in reaching any meaningful conclusions.

    William Reply:

    @ Mac
    The CASHRA rejected something that’s unworkable doesn’t mean it is not listening.

    If you can offer some concrete examples of how CASHRA was not listening, please post them here, then we can agree with you or disagree with you on CASHRA’s choices, or offer you more insight on why CAHSRA made these choices.

    Walter Reply:

    All of the opposition in the Valley has to do with where the tracks go. Unless Kern county expects the tracks to be in a tunnel for the entire length of their county, they have to go through what is now someone’s property. Unless these people who want it “done right” have better (feasible) suggestions, they are, in effect, against HSR.

  3. James Leno
    Feb 7th, 2012 at 22:12
    #3

    Putting on my conspiracy theorist hat, I wouldn’t be very surprised if some wealthy conservative’s money is making its way into the pockets and campaigns of certain central valley politicians. The CAHSR project is a serious threat to many powerful interests. It may be that those interests are funding the local votes in order to generate statewide headlines and talking points.

    Spokker Reply:

    The CAHSR project is a powerful interest in and of itself.

    synonymouse Reply:

    “The CAHSR project is a serious threat to many powerful interests.” That would of course include the Tejon Ranch Co. But they are not NIMBY’s. Only residents of PAMPA and the disaffected of the San Joaquin Valley.

  4. jimsf
    Feb 7th, 2012 at 22:18
    #4

    off topic but id like to see a fare plan like this fareplan

    Alon Levy Reply:

    The link doesn’t work.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    It does if he wanted his fareplan to be “Sorry, that page was not found.” :-)

    jimsf Reply:

    sorry I dont really know how to link a pic here from my computer so I tried to use a photo site. heres another try link

    jimsf Reply:

    the first response will be that the fares look too high, but im thinking in terms of 2030 full buildout. Personally these are fares id glady pay in todays dollars for the convenience and comfort of not having to deal with flying.
    I think the day will come when people see hsr as the premier way to travel within cali, and they will be willing to pay for a ticket. Flying will considered to be as desirable as riding muni. ( oh yeh it already is)

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    I’d rather ride Muni. Even with the little old lady who wants to discuss her recent gall bladder problems.

    Jon Reply:

    I strongly suspect the fare structure will use a BART style formula of x dollars per miles traveled, with a few surcharges for certain trips and various percentage discounts for buying advance non-refundable tickets. If we assume that SF to LA is $100 for 460 miles, that gives these approximate fares:

    SF to SFO $6.90
    SF to RWC $14.40
    SF to SJ $22.50
    SF to Gilroy $36.30

    So your fares are high, but not for the reason you think. It also makes SF to Sac $135.70, which is insane, but that’s due to Pacheco.

    Jon Reply:

    Crap. Ignore that, my math was totally wrong.

    Matthew B Reply:

    Metrolink, for example, uses a formula based on x dollars per mile you *would have* driven plus a base fare. It doesn’t matter how long the train tracks are, just how long the competition is. Of course, on the Metrolink network it doesn’t seem to create perverse effects like buying a ticket to a later stop being cheaper than to an earlier one. With less direct routes, that might not be the case.

    Jon Reply:

    Actual fares, using above logic:

    SF to SFO $3.30
    SF to RWC $6.40
    SF to SJ $10.80
    SF to Gilroy $17.30
    SF to Sac $64.90

    Probably there would be something like a $5 base fee added to the above just for using the system at all.

    jimsf Reply:

    Yes, the base numbers are negotiable. But you get the idea. YOu might say my prices were Year of expenditure fares lol. Kepp in mind that its 28 bucks now for the slow train to sac from sf, so paying 60 for the fast train is reasonable. this also help direct people to the correct service for the job. for instance hsr can be used to commute between sf and sj, but it would be a premium price, since caltrain, would be the agency that is designed to provide that service not hsr and so forth.

    I know from experience that the two things the public hates the most is a confusing shedule and a confusing fare structure. a simple fare structure and a clock face sked will make it a success in spite of any perceived faults.

    People like simplicity. BART is simple. If you make riding hsr around the state analogous to riding bart around the bay, you have a simple straighforward system that will succeed. I guarantee it.

    Jon Reply:

    Yep, that’s correct. My point was that the pricing will be a little more fine-grained than just $10 per station.

    Two of Caltrain’s biggest problems are the confusing timetable and confusing fare system. IMHO they should integrate with BART’s fare system, while still retaining the proof of purchase system, and also simplify their timetable to two stopping patterns, one all stops local plus one express. (The other big problem is off-peak frequency, which should be increased to one local train every 30 mins at minimum.)

    jimsf Reply:

    and make the fares round up to the next dollar. no spare change. ill make a new one with fares from fresno

    jimsf Reply:

    maybe fares like this are more realistic then

    blankslate Reply:

    I don’t get why you still have SF-Sac almost four times as much as SF-Gilroy. The respective driving mileages are 88 miles and 78 miles, so SF-Sac should be about 1/8 higher.

    All that assumes that anyone actually would take a train from SF to Sac via Pacheco, which would be utterly absurd.

    By the way, the fact that these fare predictions are only about 2/3 the fares for similar mileage runs on the clunky, legacy-rail Capitol Corridor suggests your speculations are rather optimistic.

    Derek Reply:

    A more efficient pricing scheme would be more like an auction, where each segment is individually priced just high enough stop the bidding, but no higher. Then everyone who wants a seat could have one, and nobody would be overcharged.

    Jon Reply:

    Nah, that’s how airlines work. Airlines have to try and fill every seat in order to make a profit. Regular metro rail and intercity rail does not try to fill every seat on every journey; their selling point is that it’s convenient and cheap to travel at any time without a reservation.

    HSR will likely be a mix of the two approaches. You will be able to buy a discounted, non-refundable ticket in advance for a specific train, but you will also be able to walk up to the station 5 minutes before your train and buy a full-price ticket. Flexibility of travel plans will be part of HSR’s attraction.

    This in turn means that some seats will be empty on each train due to the reserve capacity each train will need to carry. But that’s not a problem as adding capacity is much cheaper for a rail system than it is for an airline. Adding another car to a train is cheap compared to adding more flights to a schedule.

    Derek Reply:

    “Airlines have to try and fill every seat in order to make a profit. Regular metro rail and intercity rail does not try to fill every seat on every journey…”

    I disagree 100% that HSR should not try to make a profit.

    “Adding another car to a train is cheap compared to adding more flights to a schedule.”

    Adding more flights to a schedule is expensive but worth it if there’s demand and competition ready to take some of your customers.

    Even cheaper than adding a car to a train would be running all trains the same length, filling all trains 95-99% full of paying customers, and running fewer trains during unprofitable times.

    William Reply:

    Filling a train to that degree in non-holidays requires the dreaded airline-style yield management, which takes away the advantage of predictable ticket pricing.

    For me, I would pick predictable fare-table over yield-management everyday.

    Derek Reply:

    Predictable ticket pricing without yield management leads to overpriced tickets and/or seat shortages. The “one price fits all” model just doesn’t work very well in the real world.

    Richard Mlynarik Reply:

    Nice reading your undergraduate economics textbook, there.

    Now visit Germany some time. Or Japan.

    The “real world” isn’t just Rational Economic Actors bidding for Goods and Services in a Perfect Market.
    Rail systems don’t have to be as customer hostile as airlines: that’s sort of the point isn’t it? Because otherwise all you have is a slower airline operating at Flight Level 0.

    Miles Bader Reply:

    One doesn’t have to use either extreme.

    One can have ticket prices that roughly track expected demand, and use some of the flexibility of the system (extra trains, fewer/more cars) to handle expected changes and unexpected deviations. Ticket prices can change, as long as it’s easily predictable, but they shouldn’t swing crazily with every shift in the wind.

    Full-on airline-style pricing chaos is absolute misery for passengers, and should be avoided. The reason airlines do it is because their margins are so incredibly slim that they are utterly desperate.

    Yes, having some extra equipment around to handle higher loads is a cost, but it’s one that should be paid in order to make the system attractive for customers. The fact that rail is nicer than air travel is an important selling point.

    Tom McNamara Reply:

    The reason airlines do it is because their margins are so incredibly slim that they are utterly desperate.

    Er, more like they have a highly perishable good that has very minimal infrastructure cost. Planes can be re-positioned to suit demand pretty quickly, you can’t quite do that with trains.

    BART’s system is hardly virtuous. They recover a lot of revenue by people using $8 in cash for a $7.35 fare. (Notice after all, there are no monthly passes…) HSR can’t quite do the same for point-to-point tickets bought from somewhere other than a vending machine….

    Jon Reply:

    I disagree 100% that HSR should not try to make a profit.

    Where did I say that? I was talking about metro/commuter rail in the section you quoted. I then went on to say that HSR should not replicate either the metro/commuter rail fare model or the airline fare model, but be somewhere in between.

    As others have noted, a flexible fare structure will increase the attractiveness of HSR, which in turn will help it generate a profit. The trick is striking the balance between subsidized metro/commuter rail pricing and must-fill-every-seat-for-maximum-profit airline pricing hell.

    Sobering Reality Reply:

    Airlines have to try and fill every seat in order to make a profit.

    The target is actually about 37-43% of seats to break even depending on aircraft type and configuration; they aim to fill every seat to maximize revenue over and above the 37% without generating spill. With refined revenue management, that target load factor is about 78% where it used to be about 71%.

    You will be able to buy a discounted, non-refundable ticket in advance for a specific train, but you will also be able to walk up to the station 5 minutes before your train and buy a full-price ticket.

    You just described airline pricing.

    In other words, you don’t know what you’re talking about so you should probably stop talking.

    Matthew B Reply:

    Sobering Reality, that’s a bit disingenuous to say that “being able to walk up to the station 5 minutes before your train and buy a full-price ticket” is airline pricing. In fact, most people are not able to do that because airline pricing is too expensive to buy a last minute ticket. It was pretty clear from the context that Jon was talking about standard practices in pricing high speed rail around the world and does in fact know what he’s talking about. High speed rail in Europe, for example, tends to be priced quite reasonably even if one buys a ticket last minute. With advanced booking, one can get even cheaper tickets, but you won’t find price variations of several hundred percent like you do on airlines.

    Sobering Reality Reply:

    I wasn’t talking about a purchase time frame. I was talking about the pricing strategy.

    Man you people are dense. And you wonder why people oppose this…

    Peter Reply:

    How does your statement about 37-43% break even loads mesh with this figure and this document from the Bureau of Transport Statistics? According to this, the lowest breakeven load factor for a profitable airline in the study period was around 60%.

    If 37-43% was true, airlines would be making money hand over fist…

    Sobering Reality Reply:

    BTS… LOL.

    That only measures fare data, no anciliary fees, and no cargo revenue.

    Moving on.

    Peter Reply:

    I’m not saying you’re wrong, just that you’ve made a claim without support. I’ve made a counterclaim, with support, and you counter by saying I’m wrong, but with no support? And you wonder why no one takes your posts seriously.

    Sobering Reality Reply:

    I’m continually entertained, almost daily, by the response of government employees when it comes to market studies that don’t pan out because they were completed using incomplete government provided data like that which is found in the Form 41 database0. But hey, you’re entitled to hang your hat on whatever data you want. Just dont’ come at me later with that shocked look on your face.

    Sobering Reality Reply:

    @Richard:

    Go buy some real data and shut your pie hole.

    Jon Reply:

    You just described airline pricing.

    Okay. I’ll show up at SFO and ask to buy a ticket for the plane that leaves in 5 minutes time. Wonder if they’ll let me?

    Most HSR systems will sell you tickets which allow you to get on any train that goes to your destination within a certain period. That period may be one month, or one day, and may or may not restrict you to off-peak travel times. But it means that if I miss the train I was planning to get on and have to take the next one, or if I decide to leave a day earlier than I anticipated, I don’t have to pay through the nose for it.

    You know what that sounds like to me? Freedom. What’s more American than that?

    Airlines cannot and never will be able to provide that sort of flexibility. Yes, I know you can buy flexible fares with most airlines, but they are horrendously expensive and you still need to have the airline change the ticket before you check in at the airport and get on the plane. The desire to fill every seat on the plane and the impossibility of carrying more passengers than there are seats means that airlines will never allow you to just walk onto any flight within a certain time period.

    In other words, you don’t know what you’re talking about so you should probably stop talking.

    Civility check in aisle 5, please.

    Derek Reply:

    Most HSR systems will sell you tickets which allow you to get on any train that goes to your destination within a certain period.

    For example?

    The Eurostar web site wants to know when I’m leaving and when I’m returning.

    J. Wong Reply:

    Ditto Japan! I think @Jon meant “most conventional passenger service”. I’ve been on HSR in Japan and Italy, and both required reserved seats.

    Richard Mlynarik Reply:

    Eurostar is the very definition of a “Flight Level Zero Airline”. (And of course it’s the only HST of which monolingual Americans are aware.) If you wanted a guide of how to do pretty much everything badly, look no further than Eurostar. Run away!

    PS A seat reservation on a particular train can be a quite different thing from a ticket two stations. An optional thing, even.

    Jon Reply:

    Perhaps I should not have said “most”. I was thinking of the UK East Coast and West Coast Mainlines, which are medium speed lines (125mph max/100mph average)

    http://www.nationalrail.co.uk/times_fares/ticket_types/

    Other national rail carriers in Europe operate in a similar manner. Eurostar, as a specialized service, does indeed look more like airline pricing.

    Miles Bader Reply:

    Shinkansen generally have both “reserved seating” cars and “free seating” cars. If you had a reservation, but you miss your train, you can still get on another one and sit in a free-seating car (… and run the risk of standing of course).

    Anyway, there’s a lot of flexibility for passengers, and in general it’s very passenger oriented. Ticket prices are extremely stable, with no real discounting that I’m aware of. They run more trains during peak times.

    thatbruce Reply:

    @Derek:

    The UK tries to enforce border controls on traffic entering its domain, which includes the Eurostar, and as a result the Eurostar has its own security zone at stations. Other HSTs around the world do not have this government-imposed mandate for segregating passengers, and as a result do not do this. HSTs leave from any capable platform, not the special secure ones.

    Unfortunately, as Richard points out, the segregated security zones of the Eurostar have been used as models for CHSR stations, even though the CHSRA doesn’t have the same government-imposed security-theater mandate as does the Eurostar.

    Matthew Reply:

    In Japan I had a rail pass. I still needed to obtain a seat reservation before traveling anywhere. One time our train was delayed 30 minutes* and I missed a connection to the Shinkansen. I had to go to the service desk and exchange my seat reservation for one on the next train.

    * There’s only one reason why trains are delayed in Japan, and it probably happens more often than one would like to think about.

    swing hanger Reply:

    Shinkansen trains have unreserved seating, less on the faster services, more on the slower ones.

    As for only “one reason” trains are delayed in Japan, that’s rubbish- they are delayed for the same various reasons as anywhere else in the world, except perhaps for “leaves on the rails” or “the wrong kind of snow”.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    Okay. I’ll show up at SFO and ask to buy a ticket for the plane that leaves in 5 minutes time. Wonder if they’ll let me?

    No because if it’s 5 minutes before flight time and you are at the ticket counter, even if you are a world class sprinter, you don’t have enough time to make the plane. Or make it through security.

    thatbruce Reply:

    “5 minutes before the flight is closed” then.

    And the places that put any aspect of security theater before you get to the check-in counter are a nightmare. Flight gets closed before you make it there and you’ve already waited in line 2 hours.

    Sobering Reality Reply:

    Most HSR systems will sell you tickets which allow you to get on any train that goes to your destination within a certain period. That period may be one month, or one day, and may or may not restrict you to off-peak travel times. But it means that if I miss the train I was planning to get on and have to take the next one, or if I decide to leave a day earlier than I anticipated, I don’t have to pay through the nose for it.

    You know what that sounds like to me? Freedom. What’s more American than that?

    Airlines cannot and never will be able to provide that sort of flexibility. Yes, I know you can buy flexible fares with most airlines, but they are horrendously expensive and you still need to have the airline change the ticket before you check in at the airport and get on the plane. The desire to fill every seat on the plane and the impossibility of carrying more passengers than there are seats means that airlines will never allow you to just walk onto any flight within a certain time period.

    HSR won’t deliver that either. Of course, it will probably be late so you’ll have more than 5 minutes.

    Richard Mlynarik Reply:

    <HSR won’t deliver that either

    Employ American or German airline executives to run the thing, sure.
    Employ Japanese or Swiss rail executives and it’s a different story.

    It all depends on whether you aspire to failure or not.

    Oddly enough, Robert Cruickshank and Sobering Reality are aligned in their aspiration to failure, if for superficially different reasons.

    Sobering Reality Reply:

    @Richard.

    You’re calling Denver airport a failure?

    Man are you warped.

    Tom McNamara Reply:

    Well if you consider that Denver was supposed to create a line of impenetrable “fortress hubs” for United across each time zone– San Francisco, Denver, Chicago & Dulles then yes it is a failure as Southwest starts to eat its shriveled carcass. For the amount of land, concrete, etc. poured into it is it going to make it’s money back… say in the next millennium?

    Southwest only arrives when it strikes Wal-Mart esque deal on landing fees. That in turn, puts serious pressure on the airport because landing fees are its biggest source of revenue that comes from flying.

    ComradeFrana Reply:

    “HSR won’t deliver that either.”

    You arrive at the station, buy a ticket from the ticket counter or from a TVM, find the train on departures, go to the correct platform and board the train. Bit tight, but if the stations are sensibly planned (yeah, that’s quite naive and optimistic on my part) it’s certainly doable.

    “Of course, it will probably be late so you’ll have more than 5 minutes.”

    Yeah, with all the mixed-traffic segments the HSR route will have, maybe half the time you’ll probably have more like 6 or 7 minutes, won’t have to rush too much at least.

    Peter Reply:

    Hell, I’m guessing you can probably buy a ticket via your smartphone, and simply let the conductor scan the barcode on your phone.

    ComradeFrana Reply:

    @Peter:

    *facepalm* Yeah, or that. Would be much easier, especially if you’d have a nice and simple app.

    Sobering Reality Reply:

    @Tom: Denver wasn’t supposed to create a line of impenetrable fortress hubs for United, it was built to create a facility free of the technical constraints associated with a poorly laid out and unexpandable Stapleton airport. It was designed to support three major carriers: United Continental, and UPS. Its cost (on a per passenger basis) only soared when Continental collapsed. Frontier later filled that gap and now Southwest balances the service.

    Next time don’t rely on Wikipedia to make you look dumb.

    Sobering Reality Reply:

    @Tom:

    Denver will pay off it’s initial debt long before HSR is operating. Just like Dallas/Ft. Worth paid off their initial bonds roughly 10 years ago.

  5. Derek
    Feb 7th, 2012 at 22:35
    #5

    This will continue to happen with multiple year projects as long as the cost estimates continue to be expressed in future, inflated dollars.

    J. Wong Reply:

    Yeah, I don’t get it. People freak out over a $100b estimate but if you stated it in current dollars as $68b they get there panties in a twist over it not being YOE. The reality is that conservatives understand economics at a micro-level but not a macro-level, and the two are different. They want money to be fixed and constant in value when it isn’t. Money is a measure of the economic activity in society; if economic activity increases because more people are working and buying, then the money supply must increase to reflect that. Conservatives would like the economy to be a zero-sum game where they get to win and everyone else loses instead of a positive-sum game (which it is) where everyone can win.

    Sobering Reality Reply:

    So how much will it cost to add Sacramento and San Diego?

    Derek Reply:

    In future, inflated dollars? Squillions!

    Alon Levy Reply:

    Probably several billions of Gippers.

    Peter Reply:

    Initial connections to Sacramento and San Diego will likely be done via existing tracks. Sacramento is already looking at how best to link up to Merced.

  6. jimsf
    Feb 7th, 2012 at 22:49
    #6

    “they must assume that the status quo is working out just fine and the bigger threat comes from taking action rather than standing still.”

    The status quo is working just fine. That’s the thing in these inland counties. They all consist of a master/landowner rural political system.

    The status quo is working fine for the people who run things and the people who are in their circles. They consider it to their advantage to keep the rest of the population in their place.

    These counties do not have enough of the people who would be activist enough to change the power structure because those people either move away, or would never go there to begin with so the politics will never change.

    The local politicians in these counties run them like their own personal fiefdoms.

    Ive seen that my whole life. It happens on a town by town basis and it happens on a county basis.

    There isn’t anyone to stop them.

  7. elportonative77
    Feb 8th, 2012 at 00:14
    #7

    This is off topic, but can someone tell me what’s going on with Desert Express? Is it still alive? If it is who will own and operate it? And will it be constructed in tandem with the Palmdale to LA phase of high speed rail construction? I’m a complete novice at all things rail related but this project has piqued my interest and I would like to know more about it than what their website and wikipedia gives me.

    Peter Reply:

    DesertXpress is waiting to find out whether the FRA is going to give it a $5 billion loan. If yes, it will probably break ground towards the end of the year. If not, it’s likely toast, if it can’t find private investors.

    Brandon from San Diego Reply:

    Wishful pipe dream.

    elportonative77 Reply:

    Thank you.

    Peter Reply:

    All in all, I agree with Brandon’s assessment. After Solyndra’s implosion (with only a $535 million federal loan guarantee), I have doubts that the Obama Administration is going to be willing to make a $5 billion loan to DesertXpress.

    I really liked DesertXpress before I read their methodology for their ridership study. Any “flaws” in CHSRA’s ridership studies are nothing in comparison to that masterful job of muckup.

    Tom McNamara Reply:

    It’s in abeyance for a little while. I anticipate it will return once we get closer to 2016 when Reid’s seat is up in Nevada. The Democrats need a lightning rod to keep the seat and DX could be it. Obama strategy is to avoid controversy in states he really needs in 2012 like Nevada…and it’s not as if it makes much sense until Palmdale to LAUS is electrified….

    Matthew B Reply:

    What I like about DesertXpress is that it’s probably the most cost efficient stretch of high speed rail that can be done, and “between” two important metro areas. If it were extended to LA Union Station at a later stage, either through CAHSR tracks, or some other way, it would probably have very good long term ridership and make a healthy profit. I really don’t know if their business model is viable for the Victorville phase, but I do think that people who write it off typically underestimate the population of the Inland Empire. It’s not that useful to people on the west side of LA, but there are many millions of people who live further east, some of whom still have money to gamble. I imagine there will be some reasonable connecting bus service, too.

    Peter Reply:

    “I imagine there will be some reasonable connecting bus service, too.”

    Which even DesertXpress could run. With bags checked through to your hotel room in Las Vegas.

  8. Paulus Magnus
    Feb 8th, 2012 at 05:19
    #8

    It’s called incompetence, piss poor planning and management, no clue about PR, and lack of control over the project. If anything, you are more ideologically driven in some of your nonsense (don’t care about waste, corruption, costs, actual benefits, and *want* fares subsidized) than are the opponents.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    You know, cheerleading as Robert’s posts are, they don’t hold a candle to “How to make roads more acceptable” or the outright lies that come out of the opponents. Robert is overexcited. Cox, O’Toole, and Poole say things that are factually wrong, over and over. Not even the squint-your-eyes sort of wrong; outright lies, or things that could only come from utter ignorance and laziness (for example, computing the cost of FLHSR using a rubric of 11 items, of which about 9 are trivial).

  9. Mac
    Feb 8th, 2012 at 07:27
    #9

    I am tired of hearing unfounded criticisms about CV residents. Tell me, Mr. Cruickshank…were you in attendance or did you view the Kern County Board of Supervisors meeting online or on television? I do not believe that you did. Your comments reflect your ideology, not what truly is happening. View it…see for yourself. It will be available online later today, I’m sure. Then evaluate. Why don’t you slice and dice how the HSR Authority bungled the planning of this project? They didn’t listen, didn’t collaborate and withheld information. This is no conservative conspiracy. What are you smoking? How can anyone come up with alternatives, when ideas, questions, suggestions seemingly just get lost in some sort of black hole just outside the HSR Authority headquarters? The CV is not against HSR. They are against THIS plan….and are tired of having it shoved down their throats as if they are too ignorant to notice.

    jimsf Reply:

    what plan did they want the? can you elaborate?

    Peter Reply:

    99 or I-5, of course. That way, it will either mean that other farmers get to deal with HSR, or Fresno and Bakersfield don’t get service. That will be their “solution”.

    jimsf Reply:

    MAc, please elaborate on the specific changes kern county offered or asked for.

    Mac Reply:

    A general idea of what is being talked about in the region>
    I do believe once the scope of the project changed and the level of destruction and division that placing the HSR through the city of Bakersfield finally was revealed……they were told that it was too late to alter the train station outside of the downtown area and heavily impacted residential areas. Details were only revealed in the draft EIR…no truly transparent discussion occurred leading up to the Draft. In the draft, mitigations were minimal and vague. It became apparent that noise, air pollution and vibration impacts to those homes, businesses close to the track (and there are hundreds, once the EIR identified them) would significantly decrease the quality of life of residents and couldn’t TRULY be well-mitigated. Elevations of track 40-80′ in a long area straight through town was a shock to much of the population . Now, if the station is moved, it disrupts the whole plan (or it won’t adhere to the Prop 1A guidelines, which sadly states the train HAS to go LA to SF within a specified time period.) Adding bends and curves to avoid the area slows the train time. Alterations proposed to move the station by HSRA are only minor (move it feet, not miles..)….still have it remain smack in the middle of a small downtown that will create a traffic and visual nightmare. That minimal movement won’t do anything to reduce the impact of residential areas. This might be a necessary evil in a huge impacted metropolitan area, but there should be a better option to move the station to an less developed area with fewer impacts to residents. HSRA say no to HWY 99 alignment and HWY 5 alignment….those were the “corridors” intended by Prop 1A …so what now?

    2. The cost is too high when other infrastructure needs seem just as important and will be neglected. With no funding source…counties and cities have to be concerned that monies will be taken locally to fund the state’s General Fund.

    3. What is the cost to align Amtrak ..Bakersfield to Palmdale so that there truly is a FUNCTIONAL rail route LA to the Bay Area? Why isn’t that being explored, while a better HSR plan is devised that is devoid of the (now we realize) unrealistic travel time criteria restrictions of Prop 1A or the “the first segment has to be in the CV” restriction that the current fraction of funds the Feds are offering requires? And those criteria only fund a small fraction of the full cost of the HSR line, yet the whole plan revolves around it!

    4. The rail needs to connect either to Palmdale or Bay Area. This is a rail system with no train and no electrification with a “promise” to actually make it operational in the future (but no funding)
    4. The full picture of just how much this would impact farming and dairy operation was not fully identified until the draft EIR came out….and it does not seem that the Authority is sensitive to the impacts (or truly comprehends them)…or is willing/able to change the plan now that they have been identified. There seems to be a huge time crunch to build it even before these things are worked out.
    5. This was an expensive learning experience, but we shouldn’t have to commit to the proposed plan , now that we realize it is flawed and far more different and costly than the taxpayers signed up for.

    Mac Reply:

    I did want to say also that I heard in the meeting about a significant number of things, including recent redevelopment projects would be displaced….and this was not known prior to receiving the EIR. The public felt misled as most of this was not revealed in the PR “public presentations” that periodically occured. IF it was communicated in the political arena….it was withheld from the public.

    Mac Reply:

    Do you insiders know if the HSRA could route this system outside of the downtown area of Bakersfield to a lesser populated area, now that it is obvious that the initial decision to route it directly through down town was a grave error? Is it truly too late? Did the Bakersfield/Kern leadership of the past act in such a way as to keep that option completely off the table? This is a serious question.

    J. Wong Reply:

    If Bakersfield wants to revitalize its downtown, then HSR should be routed through it. Other cities including Fresno and Gilroy recognize this and sited their stations downtown. Why would it be a grave error?

    Mac Reply:

    Because the downtown is a very compact area….the parking lot for the rail station et al. takes out newly completed revitalization projects/homes/churches/historical buildings/ that are irreplaceable. It takes a chunk of what little arena parking there currently is. The road systems are narrow and it would be very difficult to maneuver through town to do anything else. The city/county officials were initially told it would be about 1/5 the size of what it is actually going to have to be. I don’t know what they were thinking then……..but the latest generation finds it hard to believe the downtown site was ever considered. I believe even the HSRA originally encouraged them to locate it more on the outskirts, for just this reason. (However, as we now know…HSRA knew because they were aware of the probable details, but did not necessarily share all of them with locals) There are lots of open areas outside of the downtown (which SHOULD be a plus), in terms of finding other alternative locations….

    Mac Reply:

    Plus..by routing it this way, the rail is elevated 40-80 ft. to reach the downtown and takes out neighborhoods that otherwise would not need to be devastated.

    J. Wong Reply:

    Long-time readers of this blog know that CAHSR included hugely inflated numbers in their EIR (i.e., worst case) including way too much parking for the stations. Maybe you should argue for a smaller station and much less parking rather than a new site somewhere else. The reality is that development will follow the station, which is why other cities want it downtown.

    Mac Reply:

    I respect your opinion, J. Truly. But the question I asked, was whether or not the station location can still be moved outside of downtown to a lesser populated area, but close enough to downtown populations centers to make sense? Or is it simply considered too late?

    Mac Reply:

    I have no idea if you are familiar with the Bakersfield area or have actually been here or I would talk in more specific terms

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    Why don’t you give us some specifics, with citations, of which neighborhoods and in what way or ways they will be “devastated”

    datacruncher Reply:

    Mac, I don’t know if you have seen the Kern COG studies selecting station sites. This is from 2003 when the area was down to 3 potential sites: downtown, the airport, and a third site.
    http://www.kerncog.org/docs/hsr/HSR_Terminal_200307.pdf

    The analysis of a downtown station does talk about elevated tracks being needed if the BNSF were used.

    I am curious if the Bakersfield area is directing some of the anger at local leaders who pushed for the downtown location and not just CAHSRA. For example, I recognize in that study above the name of Bakersfield’s current city manager who is now a big HSR critic (look at the stakeholder interviews in the back of the study). Yet it appears he knew of impacts like elevated tracks but at the time pushed hard for downtown. Has he ever felt any fall out for that or is it now like that push for a downtown station never happened, even though he is not past but is still current local leadership.

    Mac Reply:

    Good question. Looks like the average Joe been left in the dark it would seem. Decisions made nearly 10 years ago (before prop 1A)when no one was paying attention and the “stakeholders” were business groups or smart growth groups etc. , some of which apparently voiced their opinion on location based on filling out a questionaire…or giving a phone interview..who knows how well this “hypothetical” HSR station was examined as far as impacts to homeowners and others that were potentially in the path, given the chosen location. Looks like the leaders has some answers to give….
    In the meantime, if the citizenry were to be able to talk to those leaders and come to the conclusion, that given all of the growth, infrastructure building and information gathered about HSR in the past decade …that the station location needs to be elsewhere….is there a snowball’s chance in Hell that it could be moved? That appears to be the question I need asked.

    Peter Reply:

    Unlikely, as the ARRA construction has to be completed by 2017. If the feds waive that requirement, the Authority could potentially circulate a supplemental/revised EIR analyzing alignments routed around Bakersfield. Of course, that would open a whole new can of worms regarding takings of agricultural lands.

    And if UPRR could be convinced to drop its opposition to the 99 alignment, that may assist in reducing the impacts to Bakersfield.

    Those are the two major constraints that the Authority is working with.

    jimsf Reply:

    If no one was paying attention whose fault is that? I knew the following when I voted for prop 1a

    I knew the route map and the plan to serve downtowns whenever possible.
    ( I agreed to this and voted yes)
    I knew, because I have a brain, that large infrastructure projects will change neighborhoods (including my own) and require some land.
    (I agreed to this and voated yes)
    I knew from experience, that large projects are subject to delay and cost increases. I knew this again, because I haven’t been living under a rock for 47 years.
    I agreed to this and voted yes.

    Now im just a random guy with google and I was able to know all of that without making any effort whatsoever so for people to be crying now, is a joke.

    whats the saying, you snooze you lose.

    flowmotion Reply:

    Actually, the official maps from the authority pre-1A were very misleading about the amount of elevated track required, showing most central valley areas to be “at grade”. Even most of the HSR “experts” who post on blogs such as these grossly underestimated the size and length of aerials needed. At the time the foamers were all handwaving about existing RR grades and how HSR would be so inexpensive to build.

    So even if you were paying attention (as I was), the information out there was completely incorrect.

    Also it is completely disingenuous to expect that because someone voted for 1A that they must agree to every harebrained routing decision made by the authority.

    Mac Reply:

    Once the draft EIR came out and the more specific details of the impacts (loss of excessive property, huge lengths of elevated track…) were noted if the alignment went downtown, a response to the HSRA draft EIR was made, asking why the alternative sites were not mentioned in the EIR, since the decision of having a downtown station was made almost a decade ago, before many details were known. I do believe that they requested evaluation of alternative site(s), such as the airport site, which is very near the HWY 99 corridor, has good access and is not too far from the downtown area. I don’t think they have heard a response back as to whether that will happen in the next EIR… What do you think?

    Mac Reply:

    That is near 7th Standard and Hwy 99

    J. Wong Reply:

    Only items 1. and 4b(? you mis-numbered them, the second item 4.) are issues that concern Kern County and should be brought up with the Authority. The other items are not within the scope of what the Authority can address.

    Mac Reply:

    It is fine to address then, items 1 and 4. The others are important concerns that the HSR Authority in and of itself has no control over, agreed.
    If people want to view the meeting themselves…
    It can be viewed by going to this link clicking 2pm afternoon video for Feb 7 and then once video play, hit the “jump to” bar and highlight item # 7…that skips right to the discussion. http://kern.granicus.com/ViewPublisher.php?view_id=

    Peter Reply:

    I can remember discussions two years ago or so on this blog about the exact issues you raise in part one of your comment. Specifically, I recall a HIGHLY contentious discussion about Bakersfield High School, where we had a LOT of people from Bakersfield who were going to be affected by the alignment commenting (I believe that post had the most comments ever for this blog, over 500). This discussion was right around the time that the Bakersfield City Council decided to not endorse either alignment alternative through Bakersfield.

    My point is that NONE of these issues are new. For example, in June, 2010, the Authority held workshops in Bakersfield to discuss the issues with the alignment through Bakersfield. All of the issues you just raised in part one of your comment were discussed there. You may not have realized the full extent and impact of those issues, but no one was hiding anything.

    One of the things that I think you’re missing is the fact that the Authority has no obligation to do anything prior to release of the Draft EIR. They did not have to prepare a Programmatic EIR, but they did. They did not have to go through YEARS worth of Alternatives Analysis, but they did. This is not a “rushed” project.

    The fact that not all of the issues were discussed IN DETAIL is because of the respective stage that the project was at that time. Not everything is or can be discussed until a certain level of engineering is reached.

    D. P. Lubic Reply:

    For reference, some of that Bakersfield discussion:

    http://www.cahsrblog.com/2010/06/bakersfield-high-was-never-at-risk-but-that-didnt-stop-hsr-critics/

    flowmotion Reply:

    > noise, air pollution and vibration impacts to those homes, businesses close to the track
    > Elevations of track 40-80′ in a long area straight through town
    > smack in the middle of a small downtown that will create a traffic and visual nightmare

    These issues show the real genius behind the HSR braintrust. They sold everyone on the romantic ideas of downtown transit hubs, redevelopment, and smart growth.

    Except they are also fully aware this would be the most expensive way to build things, and would create the greatest possible amount of local political opposition. The only way to smooth things over will be even more expensive construction, tunnels, community payoffs, and mitigations.

    Of course, it could sink the whole project as well in cost overruns and political backlash. C’est la vie!

    Derek Reply:

    If the CAHSRA were smart, they would build those smart growth developments themselves.

    Richard Mlynarik Reply:

    If the CAHSRA were smart, they would build those smart growth developments themselves.

    “Order-of-magnitude check in aisle three, please,” as they say.

    If the CAHSRA, as a hypothetical public agency, were smart — as opposed to CHSRA=PBQD being smart in smart corporate tactic of maximizing project cost and hence private profit — it would simply not route high speed main lines through cities unless if were physically or economically impossible to do otherwise.

    Derek Reply:

    No, if they were smart, they would always choose the route that brings the highest benefit for the cost.

    Clem Reply:

    Bako should be a greenfield station west of downtown (à la française), with a straight shot south to the Grapevine. None of this world-unprecedented 220 mph downtown elevated nonsense.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    You keep saying this, and I’m almost ready to endorse this for Fresno, but where the hell do you put the station west of Bakersfield? The city sprawls a good 20 or 30 kilometers west of the proposed downtown station site.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    Eyeballing Google satelite images and streetview they could put it someplace we would consider exurban, their downtown.

    Richard Mlynarik Reply:

    The main line could conceivably be as far west as Hwy 43. It’s not as if anybody’s going to walk to the station anyway. Or take a groovy urban circulator streetcar. (TOD! TOD! TOD!)

    15 miles or driving or 23? It’s all pinheaded angels. The city is a lost cause.

    If at some far future time it was deemed desirable and affordable to serve a non-peripheral station in Bako, a big station loop track could diverge from the mainline and run into and out of “downtown”. Perhaps along Hwy 99, perhaps further east. Perhaps what’s left of the city will pay to have a railway bulldoze all then-empty “estates” and make new rights of way wherever they like.

    They’ve made their bed.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    Forget TOD fantasies. (It would be nice to have downtown upzoning. It would also be nice to offer a Pegasus to every person to replace expensive ground transportation.) There’s a pretty large distinction between driving 5 kilometers to the station and driving 20 kilometers to the station. This is especially important for people traveling to Bakersfield rather than from it. For all the sprawl, there’s still a distinct job density cluster vaguely downtown, and the edge city formation along 58 and in Kern City/Stockdale/Valley Plaza is also much closer to downtown than to the edge of the urban area.

    jimsf Reply:

    just a note: people in bakersfield don’t drive kilometers, they drive miles.

    jim Reply:

    Actually, they drive kilometers. They just don’t pay attention to that ring on their speedometer.

    Richard Mlynarik Reply:

    There’s a pretty large distinction between driving 5 kilometers to the station and driving 20 kilometers to the station.

    So throw money at building a shuttle train, or a monorail, monorail, MONORAIL!, along Hwy 58 and the BNSF from 20km or whatever west to some arbitrary location labelled “downtown”. Nobody will ride it, but we’ll still come out a few billion ahead.

    AndyDuncan Reply:

    You keep saying it should go west of downtown, but you have yet to point out where exactly it would go. Bakersfield is a giant circle of sprawl 16 miles across. Unless you’re 8 miles outside of downtown, any “green field” station is going to go past more homes than the one that cuts through downtown (along one of two heavily trafficked freight lines), or by “green field” did you mean one of the several golf courses and country clubs in south west Bako?

    Of course, it is quite low density out there.

    You could run it right past that guy’s equestrian center.

    http://maps.google.com/maps?q=bakersfield,+ca&ll=35.360376,-119.187045&spn=0.003053,0.002704&hnear=Bakersfield,+Kern,+California&gl=us&t=h&z=19

    Alon Levy Reply:

    The issue with a downtown alignment isn’t NIMBYs. It’s the cost of grade separations and viaducts.

    Richard Mlynarik Reply:

    The higher the speed, the greater the (legitimate!) NIMBY impacts, and the more constrained the engineering choices.

    It’s easier — not simple, but simpler — and not-insignificantly cheaper to thread a 120kmh alignment anywhere than it is one designed for 350kmh.

    wu ming Reply:

    the kern county board of supervisors < kern county < central valley.

    criticizing a couple of elected officials who are neither representing their constituents nor the long term interests of their county, because they're being swayed by a well-funded minority of powerful NIMBYs and landowners (as well as oil corps, one would expect, this being bakerspatch) is utterly different from criticizing or dismissing the entire CV.

    when the CV had the chance to vote on HSR, a majority of us supported it. just because a county supervisor or three decide to try and undercut it doesn't mean that it has suddenly become unpopular, nor does it overrule that initial voter mandate to build the damn thing.

  10. Paul Dyson
    Feb 8th, 2012 at 08:28
    #10

    You can take the attitude, as NARP does towards Amtrak, that we must support them however incompetent or stupid, because they represent passenger rail. So Robert C supports CHSRA no matter how totally inept their management, how much has been wasted on engineering, how much they have alienated communities on route, and how ridiculous is the notion of the ICS. CHSRA has destroyed the political support for this, not those of us who try to constructively criticize and try to bring some common sense to how the money is spent. Even Brown (“we need to redesign”) gets this now.

    jimsf Reply:

    YOu are very naive to think that anything the authority would have done differently in addressing the these people would have made any difference. this kind of local reacation to everything is de rigeur now. YOu just have to ignore it or nothing will ever get done.

    Mac Reply:

    And who made you God?

    jimsf Reply:

    What are you talking about?

    Mac Reply:

    That comment came from a place of : “Why would you think that the answer is simply to ignore public and regional outcry/concerns and simply move on and do it anyway?”

    jimsf Reply:

    Perhaps its because the suggestions being offered are not realistic.

    Sobering Reality Reply:

    On this forum, we are not allowed to question the CAHSRA, it’s motives, or its credibility. Didn’t you see the disclaimer?

    ComradeFrana Reply:

    Really? The enforcement is clearly lacking then.

    jimsf Reply:

    What plan do they prefer? What alternatives did they offer? which part of the plan don’t they like. Did they offer specific items they’d like to see changed or did they just take a blanket position so they could look like they are doing something important?

    Mac Reply:

    I hesitated whether to even reply because I do not think that you will listen. Officials in the CV have been making suggestions, asking questions, generating ideas for years now…with the HSRA continually promising that they will take all of it into consideration. Guess what…they don’t. It is as though it is just tossed in the trash. Then the HSRA promised that those things would be addressed in the Draft EIR. Guess what? They weren’t. They continue to move ahead with a plan that is BAD in order to reap the benefits of the Federal Funding that has specific ill conceived strings attached that cannot be changed. Having this “use it or lose it” mentality while as you say….ignoring all of the blatant problems this BAD Plan will cause is the problem. This supposedly “free money” is the root of this HSRA evil. Reworking the plan to make it better?
    Well we can’t do that! We might lose that “free money”.

    Tom McNamara Reply:

    Why do you think the estimates for costs rose so much? van Ark himself acknowledged that property takings had been lowballed and needed to be increased.

    However, if you are talking about moving the alignment to the 99… good luck with that as BuffetNSF can’t get enough of the President’s ideas while UP is owned by an activist Republican mogul. Other than that your reply isn’t specific enough to address. The 20 people who work for HSRA can’t answer the 20 million California talking about the project everyday in 30 minutes or less…this isn’t Domino’s…

    Mac Reply:

    Agreed. The 20 people at HSRA can’t….but some of the hundreds of consultants they employ could answer specific questions at the “public meetings”, it would seem. They don’t. They say “that is a good question”..I will have to get back to you on that (they don’t) or ultimately, “answers will all be in the draft EIR”. They weren’t.
    At the Board of Supervisors meeting, the HSRA Director of Communications had the opportunity to give us new information or answer questions asked, but not yet answered. The city and county have sent pages and pages of concerns and questions. He chose not to. Again….we have to hope they might be addressed in yet another written re-draft. The process is agony.

    Tom McNamara Reply:

    That’s all a product of Governor Schwarzenegger. He essentially privatized a public works project and as such all the transparency and oversight went with it. It takes much longer to build than to destroy, I’m afraid.

    Mac Reply:

    Sad, but true.

    Mac Reply:

    Perhaps you don’t understand. At a Board of Supervisor’s meeting of this type, each public speaker has 2 minutes to make a speech as to why Pro/con, the supervisors need to vote to oppose the current plan “as currently proposed”. This was not an open discussion with the sharing of ideas and a common goal of resolving issues. HOWEVER, the HSR Authority representatives were present and given additional time to address the group at the conclusion (just prior to supervisor final discussion amongst themselves). Mr. Simmons, HSR Dir. of COMMUNICATIONS did not address the public’s questions that were asked in their presentations….he just talked the same old talk…he missed a perfect opportunity to show some interest in the public’s concerns. Ultimately that was the last straw.

    Mac Reply:

    This may seem a bit off topic….but perhaps it would be prudent to ask the group and just deal with mean spirited comments that may come. But what do you say to those who are concerned that putting all of our eggs ($$) in one basket (HSR) at this juncture, in our current fiscal environment is a mistake? There are infrastructure projects that would seem to be more (or at least equally) pressing…including dealing with water projects on hold, and fixing the levees in our Delta System so that we can be assured of water supply in the event of an earthquake or other disaster. Do you realize that if an earthquake of much magnitude hits the delta region damaging those outdated levees..that sea water will taint our fresh water resource for YEARS before levees could be fixed? Have we learned nothing from Katrina?
    Our current highways need maintenance and have for years. The HSR will not be OPERATIONAL in the capacity that Prop1A voters voted for (LA-SF) until est. 2033 at the earliest. There is no further funding beyond the first segment..and even the HSR Authority states that no private funding is expected until it connects to either the LA basin or Bay Area. Can we at least align Amtrak from Bakersfield to the Palmdale/LA Basin to have a more contiguous route North to South? Monies for grade separations and scheduling trains that have fewer stops would make it more attractive. How is the state negotiating with the BSNF regarding shared track with Amtrak? They are currently planning for second set of tracks next to the current ones.
    Cities and counties are concerned that putting all of this money (and to be fair, it is a huge sum) in a ill-planned HSR route is a poor business plan that attempts to cure some of the infrastructure ills of CA, but has more risk v. benefit. The way the current alignment runs, valuable farmland will be lost. The engineer consultants dealing with the farmers are still not up to speed on understanding just how disruptive it is and why…yet they push on anyway.
    HSR will take some of the travelers off airplanes if there are one or NO stops..and we will ultimately have it in the future I am sure. However, it will not significantly take the place of or reduce car travel in this state any time soon. There is poor local connectivity and no funds to improve that either. When the HSR AUTHORITY cost projections are as high as they are..and that is just reality…one MUST question if this is best value for the dollar. In a state with our debt, when the chips are down, the state begins to pull money from counties and cities. They have already…redevelopment funds, pushing prisoners back to local authorities… So…why shouldn’t citizens/counties fear that the interest that they will have to pay on bonds to complete a HSR, or funds that will be taken from the General Fund, might simply cripple us more? It is time to stop and look again….find the best plan ….not try to morph a bad plan to meet outside potential partial funding. Whew…well, you asked LOL Please be constructive with your comments. The average Joe wants to hear the answers….not be told they are ignorant….

    Matthew B Reply:

    Mac, I won’t address everything, just a couple questions that can be cleared up fairly easily. With regards to sharing track with BSNF, that’s not a possibility for high speed rail as the FRA prohibits high speed trainsets sharing track with heavy, slow-moving freight trains. Anything else about Amtrak has nothing to do with the CAHSR authority. With regards to scheduling trains with fewer stops, it has always been the intent to schedule both express and local trains on the high speed network. This has been documented in many places. If you would like to read about it yourself, you can go to http://www.cahighspeedrail.ca.gov/ and type “express” into the search box. It’s important to note that no official schedule exists yet, but having local and express service has been consistently discussed.

    Mac Reply:

    Thank you for your note, Matthew. When I was talking about shared track….I was talking about Amtrak sharing with BSNF (as they do now) which is part of the problem…) Amtrak trains have to often sit and wait while the BSNF has the right of way to proceed. I was wondering if the state was negotiating with BSNF to share any cost or get more defined benefit once BSNF adds the second track line that is already planned? This question refers to the question posed by citizens of “why not just beef up Amtrak, increase the number of grade separations, connect the CV to Palmdale to get a better functioning and contiguous passenger route for now”?

    Mac Reply:

    To better clarify: The BSNF through Bakersfield has one track that is shared with Amtrak. The current plan (and all designs of recent grade separations) include room for anticipated planned second track). The HSR will be a THIRD dedicated track (obviously for HSR only). This allows 3 tracks(HSR included..which is elevated through a huge area) all going through established neighborhoods and downtown. A concern also when looking at evaluating cummulative adverse impacts….and appropriate mitigations

    J. Wong Reply:

    That’s all fine, but it really is a separate issue from HSR so of course, the Authority didn’t address it. It’s outside its scope.

    Mac Reply:

    That’s part of the problem. Most of the issues of our (CA) overall insufficient infrastructure dilemma are outside the scope of the Authority. Therefore the answer to our infrastructure problems and transportation problems will not be and cannot be solved by the Authority. Because the only thing the Authority can do is build a high speed rail line with restrictions dictated by Prop 1A guidelines. Perhaps the answer to which alignment to choose is the one we don’t like:
    Option : NO BUILD Look to other solutions, and incorporate the HSR into the infrastructure plan after the Amtrak route connects LA to the Valley and a reasonable plan can be created that isn’t hampered by guidelines that can’t be achieved without settling for a poor plan. Putting it back to the voters to decide . We don’t need 220 mph train or a 2 hr 40 minute travel guarantee. A compromise to those rigid requirements is needed before this thing will work…..And a better business plan outlining how to get the funding…without inflating ridership numbers etc…to make it seem like a good plan.

    D. P. Lubic Reply:

    Mac, I’ve been following what you’ve had to say, and you’re not bad, not like some other naysayers here and elsewhere who think this is a socialist plot to steal our cars and force us into apartments or something–but can we risk another restart? I don’t know if you are aware of this, but there was a proposal that got ahead for a bit back in the 1980s–just about 30 years ago. I don’t know the cause of it, but it died; only now is a high-speed rail line coming back. Do you want to wait another 30 years? Do we have another 30 years, before the economy is ruined for good by our oil dependency?

    Mac Reply:

    No, that is not what I am saying. I am saying that currently there seems no great solution, given the constraints that were put on the planning of this. Is it unreasonable to evaluate whether or not a high speed rail system can be built in such a way as to can avoid the unnecessary taking of farmland, dividing cities ( a route that has fewer impacts.)….by simply dispensing of some of Prop 1A guidelines/Fed funding strings? If neither of those were dangling in front of us……could there be a better design (even if it were a few minutes slower) that would still give us the connectivity, north to south? Surely there are other alternatives and advanced technology that what has been presented to the public.

    Drunk Engineer Reply:

    Even Brown (“we need to redesign”) gets this now.

    Does he? What exactly has been redesigned?

    He didn’t fixing the I5 alignment. And we got yes-man Dan Richard as Chair.

    Drunk Engineer Reply:

    By I5-alignment, was referring to the whole Tehachapi/Palmdale study nonsense.

    Tom McNamara Reply:

    In short, Brown told the MTC, Metro, and the assorted brethren of the transit Mafia that if they wanted input, it would cost them dollars.

    So Brown accepted the joint MTC-Metro plan of “Merced to Palmdale” in exchange for then ponying up cash/eminent domain to finish construction in urban areas. This included all the savings that will come from getting the Palmdale to LA track for nothing.

    Jon Reply:

    I strongly suspect Jerry Brown is not about to start agreeing with NARP.

    synonymouse Reply:

    It would appear that Jerry Brown really isn’t much of a railfan. His grasp of the hsr concept seems to be limited to sloganeering and spinning. He seems to be taking the approach that all the alternatives are roughly of equal value and the smart way is to go with the politically best connected. This is approximately the imperfect over the impossible approach.

    Unfortunately for the poorly informed Brown the imperfect is more like the crippled. I feel confident if you polled all of the railroad-hip people in California you would have a majority favoring the Tejon and Altamont alternatives. And yet Jerry continues to favor the weak sisters.

    So it is more of an ignorance hangup than political. Both Palmdale and the Tejon Co. are paper tigers. Maybe someone can intervene who will pick up where Van Ark left off but will prove to be more communicative and persuasive with Brown.

    Paul H. Reply:

    Maybe Altamont, but not Tejon. Tejon is a terrible alignment for high-speed rail. If your asking for this project to go billions of dollars over-budget, you want Tejon to happen.

    Clem Reply:

    You’re making stuff up. The CHSRA’s most recent reports, from the January 2012 board meeting, show that Tejon would be cheaper than the alternatives.

    Tejon is a terrible alignment because it passes through a planned mountain resort and golf course, I’ll grant you that much.

    synonymouse Reply:

    Clem, can’t they play thru? Seriously how much of an impingement does the CHSRA row entail? We know there are two tunnels on the order of 6 miles apiece and probably some viaducts.

    They have to know this is a natural transport corridor and that the Grapevine freeway is right next. There will be expansion of highways here. How many parking lots and access roads are they going to put in.

    In Switzerland there are all sorts of mountain electric railways that blend right in. You know it is possible to engineer a perfectly aesthetically decent mountain crossing thru the Tejon Ranch property. Just compare it to what the Grapevine looks like! Sea of concrete, cars, trucks, and fumes.

    Clem Reply:

    You’re preaching to the choir. The Grapevine alignment that they studied did not need:

    (a) a large jug-handle detour east of Bakersfield, clinging to the downtown program alignment
    (b) a sharp S-curve through the pass, to avoid passing through Tejon Mountain Village
    (c) a sharp curve in Santa Clarita to avoid another planned development

    Shoot. Straight. Through.

    synonymouse Reply:

    That’s terrible. The very antithesis of the hsr concept. I guess we should be thankful I-5 is already there in the Valley and reasonably straight.

    So to do something on the order of 300mph maglev that abhorred curves you would have to have a Baron Haussmann to smash his way thru private property. Advantage- air

    Peter Reply:

    What are you talking about? Maglev can take curves faster than steel-on-steel rail. And grades.

    D. P. Lubic Reply:

    Grades I understand, but what’s this about curves? Seems to me that bodies are going to feel centrifugal forces in a curve at a given speed the same way; the suspension system–conventional rail, monorail, or maglev–doesn’t change that.

    About the only thing I can imagine that would change that would be some alternate way of handling cant deficiency in maglev.

    D. P. Lubic Reply:

    I should emphasize, I’m talking about passengers’ bodies here. The speed level for comfort for even a conventional train going around a curve is well below its overturning speed.

    Peter Reply:

    Maglev can handle much greater angles of cant. Think airplane. As long as you don’t mind a slight increase in g-forces, maglev can go WAY faster around curves.

    synonymouse Reply:

    But if the “guideway” fails and there is, shall we say, “liftoff” on a sharp maglev curve?

    Are the Japanese incorporating curves into their maglev?

    Peter Reply:

    Yes, they have curves

    Uhhh, as far as I can tell, the Japanese design does not require power for stabilization of the train while in motion, while the Transrapid is essentially a monorail that, in case of a power failure, would be held onto the track mechanically (the vehicle is partially wrapped around the track).

    Peter Reply:

    Also, I think you’re assuming that maglev would be on a structure. In fact, it can be at- or below-grade the same as any other train.

    synonymouse Reply:

    I suggest we can use PB as the typical real world engineering mindset – stilts on maglev would presumably be as de rigueur as with hsr. Remember Brutalism remains an effective tactic for peddling the tasteless, the brain-dead, the cut-rate, the penal as trendy and contemporary.

    See BART’s new cars. They still cannot afford paint, not even a powder finish which seems to be pretty durable. The public should boycott BMW until BART gets its design contract money refunded.

    Peter Reply:

    Your “Stilt-a-Rail” shtick is getting more and more out of date each time the design gets refined.

    So, BART’s new cars are “bad” because they’re not painted. I see.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    …even though its a bad idea to paint cars made out of modern materials like stainless steel….

    Peter Reply:

    Modern examples of unpainted subway cars:

    LA Metro

    PATH

    NY subway

    Tren Urban, Puerto Rico

    What do they know that you don’t, I wonder?

    synonymouse Reply:

    AFAIK BART’s new cars will still be aluminum but it appears that WMATA will go stainless stee.

    I certainly would not advocate painting stainless but ugly ass aluminum, yessirree.

    By that line of reasoning buses should be unpainted.

    Shrink wrap BART cars with advertising. A big aesthetic upgrade.

    synonymouse Reply:

    The same “refined” schtick Honolulu is buying into? Skybus on rails. A little taste(and lotta sound) of Oakland in Kama’aina Land.

    Peter Reply:

    I guess you don’t like American Airline’s paint job, then, am I right?

    What does Honolulu have to do with HSR? They’re not even on the same continent. Not that Honolulu is on a continent to begin with, of course.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    Not a good idea to paint aluminum either unless you are going to have someone make sure the paint is in good shape.

    Mac Reply:

    Other than the obvious fact that Tejon would object to the I-5 alignment….what was the reason it was pushed to the side so quickly? The public really didn’t even get a chance to look at it? I don’t think that the fact that it might encourage “sprawl” much of a reason. And how could I see a picture of that route.. The video of the Jan meeting where it was discussed stops and doesn’t play all the way through. I tried to view it. The preliminary summary of the meeting made it sound like it was quite similar risk v benefit to the Palmdale alignment.

    Rick Rong Reply:

    The reason is the City of Palmdale, the airport they intended to build, and heavy support from LA . LA interests, demonstrated more than 10 years ago when the Palmdale alignment was chosen.

    Tom McNamara Reply:

    It’s a bogus comparison.

    Tejon works much more optimally if you

    a) don’t need Harry Reid to help you politically

    b) plan to use a lot of elevated viaducts to cut down on the angle needed to cross the San Andreas at grade

    c) think that high speed rail is the “stuff dreams of made out of” to quote Sam Spade.

    Mac Reply:

    Nevermind….I was able to access the report (not the video) and the related blog.

    synonymouse Reply:

    There’s clearly a rush to judgment being repeated here. Such a mistake to close off options, especially when Tehachapi can also be best described as “a terrible alignment”.

    In years to come they will regret the short-sightedness of not engineering out the best and then seeing if the objections can’t be met. If not you can still go back to your Tehachapi default but eith a good conscience.

    synonymouse Reply:

    How are we going to establish if “b” is a requisite without a full engineering of the verboten Bear Trap Canyon alignment. I assume there is a special reason Tejon Co. is so protective of this particular route?

    One way to compare is to take the new value-engineered cost of Tehachapi and ask the engineers what can you get at Tejon for this amount and how does that rate in terms of route mileage ane schedule times.

    Tehachapi is punk, plain and simple, and value engineering is just making it worse. You are approaching “Kopp’s Razor” – at some point of curving to avoid some ****ing future development it ain’t real hsr no ‘mo.

    Richard Mlynarik Reply:

    Other than the obvious fact that Tejon would object to the I-5 alignment….what was the reason it was pushed to the side so quickly?

    I don’t know.

    Obvious possibilities include:

    * CHSRA=PBQD operates exclusively in Decide Announce Defend (DAD) mode.

    No regrets, no reconsiderations, no weakness, no capitulation, no changes, no improvements, no cost savings, no foreigners allowed, never give up, never surrender.

    This is what you’re getting: take it or leave it … except we only offer the “take it” choice anyway.

    So screw you.

    * Jerry Brown appears to be operating in “kick it to the curb” mode.

    “Something must be done. This is something. Therefore this must be done.”

    Considered analysis is for weaklings.

    * The mighty City of Palmdale (meaning Palmdale development interests, “we the people”) spent man-decades of time lobbying for HSR to jog through their burg, and lining up, by one means or another, political resolutions from all over that privileged their interests.

    (This is very much like, in fact identical to, PBQD strong-arming nominal bystanders in the Bay Area, such as the SF City Government, to pass resolutions in support of HSR via Los Banos.)

    They worked hard at it, there are hundreds of millions of private profits at stake, and they’re not about to roll over and watch the state save billions of public dollars building HSR cheaper and faster.

    “This is modern America and we’re going to keep it that way.”

    * Perhaps Tejon Ranch put their oar in. That does seem likely also, doesn’t it?

    Motion passes unanimously. Next item, change order to increase the budget of …

    jimsf Reply:

    Im in favor of the current route.

    Peter Reply:

    A reason for going with the Antelope Valley that no one seems to talk about: you can phase construction of Tehachapi/Antelope Valley, but you can’t phase Tejon. It’s about 6 or so billion from Bakersfield to Palmdale (where you can link up with Metrolink), but 15 billion to Sylmar (or is it to Santa Clarita?) via Tejon.

    synonymouse Reply:

    Of course you can phase in Tejon – bus bridge between the tunnel faces at the north and ends of the mountain crossing. Bako to the base of the Grapevine are should be faster than any part of Tehachapi.

    synonymouse Reply:

    If you are going to build the “current route”, punk as it is, you might as well full value-engineer, slow it down until you get to 2% gradients so it can be used for freight too. And standard Amtrak diesels.

    The “jobs” crowd want a dysfunctional hsr so as to not be used as an argument against their plans to spend on freeways and air facillities. They just want to spend money, any money, your money.

    So, class, once again,

    to paraphrase Paul Claudel:

    “HSR is the transport revolution of the future! …………….. And always will be.”

    Peter Reply:

    Right, because we want to build a transfer station in the middle of nowhere. Of course, how could I ever be so stupid.

    synonymouse Reply:

    Strictly a temporary facility until the tunnels are operational. You are just putting passengers on and off a bus.

    I dunno how the tunnelers like Herrenknecht tackle these jobs but you could certainly run work trains from the north face to Bako over the new trackage. Do they do rail support these days?

    Peter Reply:

    So, you want to lay tracks to the base of the mountains and build a train-bus transfer station for until the tunnels and remaining passage are completed ten years from now? Probably would be more effective to simply continue running the existing Amtrak Thruway buses and delay the impacts on ag land.

    synonymouse Reply:

    As per my recollection of the base of the Grapevine from years past, ain’t no ag. But lots of rolling, rolling tumbleweed.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    Peter, it’s impossible to phase anything through Palmdale, either, once you remember that the Antelope Valley Line is and will always be a crawl. I-5 is a bit easier to phase, actually, because south of Santa Clarita the legacy line is far straighter.

    $15 billion is the cost of Bakersfield-Sylmar with the magical risk adjustment factor. Without it, it’s $13.5 billion, and without crap like the swerving around Tejon Ranch, it should be even lower.

    Peter Reply:

    Ok, so the unelectrified ICS will cut Amtrak San Joaquins times by about 30 minutes. Assuming Bakersfield-Palmdale is electrified, a passenger trainset (pulled by two ALP45s) could run Bakersfield-Palmdale in about an hour, assuming an average speed of 70 mph. Add 1.5 hours on existing tracks from Palmdale to LAUS, and you’ve now cut travel time significantly (about 30 minutes) on Oakland or Sacramento to LAUS, and you’re now offering one-seat rides. And ridership would not explode?

    jim Reply:

    Peter,

    No, you haven’t cut travel time at all. The Metrolink-Palmdale-Bakersfield run takes 30 minutes longer than the bus. So the half-hour gain on the ICS is neutralized. You’ve spent north of $12B to go from a two-seat ride to a one-seat ride. The Amtrak rule of thumb is that will increase ridership by about 60-70%, which isn’t explosive. There is an elapsed time gain from electrifying the ICS so that a dual-mode locomotive led train could run at 125 mph MAS between Chowchilla and Palmdale.

    But now you’re spending north of $13B and you still don’t have actual HSR, or that many trains per day for that matter. North of the ICS, you’re limited to what can be fitted between UP and BNSF freights. On Metrolink, you’re limited to what can be fitted between Metrolink commuters. There are currently four sidings between Santa Clarita and Palmdale, the longest being a bit less than a mile and a half. Try to run trains in both directions on this stretch and you’ll have to schedule them to hunker down in sidings while waiting for their meet to pass, which probably eats up much of the time you gained by 125mph running on the ICS.

    Peter Reply:

    Amtrak Thruway bus from Bakersfield to LAUS takes 2:20 hours.

    If Bakersfield-Palmdale is 1 hour, and Palmdale-LAUS is 1:30 hours. That’s 2:30, ten minutes slower than the bus. If you have 30 minutes savings north of Bakersfield, that gives you 20 minutes savings. My bad.

    But now you’re spending north of $13B and you still don’t have actual HSR, or that many trains per day for that matter.

    Hell, you can’t get “actual HSR” or many trains for that amount anywhere, anyway. “Actual HSR” isn’t going to happen until you get IOS-South running.

  11. Alan Kandel
    Feb 8th, 2012 at 09:53
    #11

    Off topic but there is a high-speed rail workshop to be held at the Council of Fresno County Governments’ Sequoia Conference Room on Monday, Feb. 13th at 10 a.m., according to Fresno COG Rail Committee Chairman Tom Bailey http://www.fresnobee.com/2012/02/08/2713450/rail-meeting-monday.html.

    Bailey indicates that, “The workshop consists of reports on the project’s latest developments, followed by a Q & A session.”

    But that’s not all Bailey wrote.

    He further states, “Following negative reviews of the project by the federal GAO, the state LAO and HSRA’s own peer review group, Gov. Jerry Brown has staunchly defended the project. Yet resignations of key HSRA staff, from Executive Director Roelof van Ark and associate directors, and the cancellation of HSRA’s outreach consulting contract, coupled with a change over of seats on the board, paint a cloudy horizon.”

    Question: Is this last piece of information even relevant, particularly, within the content of a letter whose main purpose it would seem is to notify the public of an upcoming HSR workshop? In reading this, I also have to wonder on whose behalf is Mr. Bailey speaking: his own, Fresno COG’s or both?

    Richard Mlynarik Reply:

    Off topic but there is a high-speed rail workshop to be held at the Council of Fresno …

    Off-topic? Hah! Amateur! Dilettante! Must try harder.

    D. P. Lubic Reply:

    Ho, ho, ho, ho!! I guess I have to admit to being guilty as charged!

    But we have fun anyway. . .(I hope). . .

    Alon Levy Reply:

    Sorry, but nobody defeats Adirondacker and me when it comes to going off-topic. The trick is to start on-topic and only then drift.

  12. StevieB
    Feb 8th, 2012 at 15:32
    #12

    The the California Alliance for Jobs has a radio spot running in California supporting the state’s proposed high-speed rail system.

    There will always be skeptics. Heck, some people would vote against sunshine and hugs.

    The spot uses hyperbole about skeptics which studies show is more memorable.

    Are we going to let this great project be sunk by the naysayers or elevated by the visionaries? It’s time to do the right thing – put people to work now and build something momentous for our future.

    The emphasis is on vision. Vision for a positive future the skeptics lack in their dystopia.

    Roger Christensen Reply:

    I heard a radio ad for a local conservatoid candidate vowing to kill “job killing high speed rail”.

    Miles Bader Reply:

    Also Jesus hated trains. Hated. Baby Jesus.

  13. AC
    Feb 8th, 2012 at 16:52
    #13

    Robert, I appreciate your zeal about HSR. However I think you are way too bullish on the odds. I think HSR will happen at some point, but in the very distant future. As it is now, even the funding for the new transbay terminal is suddenly in doubt.

    Even if the terminal does get built, according to the SF Examiner on 1/31/12:

    “Train service would not be available in San Francisco until 2034. Even then, the trains are set to stop at Fourth and King streets, not the Transbay Transit Center, the $1.5 billion train depot that is supposed to act as the network’s northern terminus at Mission and First streets.”

    So let’s face reality here. Things are not looking good and it doesn’t benefit anyone to assume otherwise.

    StevieB Reply:

    Transbay Transit Center will be built as it has already received hundreds of millions in federal funding for the train depot. The tunnel from Mission and First to there is vastly expensive and will very probably be one of the last parts of stage 1 constructed.

    Rick Rong Reply:

    Some people think “TBT” means “Trans-Bay Terminal.” Actually, it will probably end up meaning “Transbay Bus Terminal.”

    Alon Levy Reply:

    I think HSR is more likely than not to be built, coming entirely from my belief about what’s going to happen in November (an Obama reelection, with a decent chance of a large enough margin to keep the Senate and retake the House the way the GOP primary seems to be going).

    Rick Rong Reply:

    War in the Middle East might become a distraction.

  14. morris brown
    Feb 8th, 2012 at 16:52
    #14

    Even Liberal Reporters Sour on Stimulus-Funded California Rail Boondoggle

    Not Robert, however.

    http://www.openmarket.org/2012/02/08/even-liberal-reporters-sour-on-stimulus-funded-california-rail-boondoggle/

    J. Wong Reply:

    This a report from an obviously conservative organization. Note the statements that the Obama stimulus will “crowd out” private investment. Except it hasn’t.

    D. P. Lubic Reply:

    Morris, is this the best you can do? Is this the best you can find?

    Brian Reply:

    that article is a joke. It’s so jam-packed with right wing bias and ‘talking point’ statements it’s practically unintelligible. It’s like there was a game of Mad-Libs and one of the players had an obsession with saying the word ‘boondoggle’. I knew the article was bullshit the moment it began with “famously liberal…”. No need to expect any sort of objectivity with an intro like that!

  15. nslander
    Feb 8th, 2012 at 17:06
    #15

    Wow. Six “boondoggles” crammed into such a brief, yet plainly objective piece. A perfect hexadogle. I feel diminished just have having clicked on that, but I will never make that mistake again. Thanks a pantload.

    Clem Reply:

    I only saw a pentadoggle.

    swing hanger Reply:

    Say “boondoggle” enough times, even I may be mesmerized into believing it.

    nslander Reply:

    I included the headline, which does lower the degree of difficulty.

  16. D. P. Lubic
    Feb 8th, 2012 at 20:28
    #16

    Oh, no, oh, no, this is terrible, terrible. . .I have a post available on the generational change, about how the average car buyer is over 55, and it may be of interest here, but if I post it, it will have to be something that’s off topic. If I do that, I’ll upset Richard, and he’ll make a nasty remark. . .of course, he makes them anyway, and Morris wouldn’t like it either, and my mother might not have liked it either, she said if I couldn’t say something nice, I shouldn’t say anything, so maybe I shouldn’t do it–so, like Red Skelton, I dood it:

    http://nineshift.typepad.com/weblog/2012/02/finally-evidence-only-old-people-buy-cars.html#comments

    http://money.usnews.com/money/blogs/the-best-life/2011/02/18/older-buyers-a-growing-market-for-automakers

Comments are closed.