Diane Harkey Tries Again to Kill HSR

Mar 17th, 2012 | Posted by

Right-wing Republican Assemblymember Diane Harkey, from southern Orange County, is once again trying to kill high speed rail with a bill in the legislature:

AB 1455, the High-Speed Rail Lemon Law, was introduced by Harkey in January and several counties and cities across the state have already voted to support it.

When initially introduced, Peninsula officials also offered support for the legislation including Burlingame Mayor Jerry Deal and Belmont Mayor Dave Warden.

Harkey’s “Lemon Law” would repeal more than $9 billion in available state debt funding for the project. A vote on the legislation is expected in mid-April.

This bill, like Harkey’s previous anti-HSR efforts, has no chance of going anywhere. It’s a stupid idea that shows how strangely opposed to the 21st century the California Republican Party really is.

And yet I am actually pleased she has proposed this bill. By doing so, she reminds Californians and legislators that opposition to high speed rail is the position of the far right. Would Democratic State Senators like Joe Simitian and Alan Lowenthal really side with Harkey over their fellow Democrats, their governor, their Congressional Democratic allies, and their president?

  1. VBobier
    Mar 17th, 2012 at 18:43

    Dead bill walking, Diane has as much chance of this becoming law as the Moon being made of Cheddar Cheese. Governor Brown will veto this AB1455, She & the sore losers from 2008 can take that to the Bank.

  2. fake irishman
    Mar 17th, 2012 at 19:21

    Maybe some Central Valley GOPer could attach an amendment that would make it mandatory for all members of the public to have a transvaginal ultrasound before they testify in favor of the CHSR at a public hearing. Perhaps another rider could make it state policy that no HSR funds go to fund ACORN.

    Does anyone else have amendments that could improve this bill? Please, be creative and have fun! I think Robert should donate a case of Anchor Stream to the best entry.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    Um, no illegal immigrants allowed on trains, with IDs checked at the stations?

    Richard Mlynarik Reply:

    PBQD=CHSRA are already planning that.

    Don’t let the terrorists win!

    Alon Levy Reply:

    Don’t worry – like the terrorists, the TSA never stops thinking of ways of harming our country and our people.

    VBobier Reply:

    Yeah, the US needs to deport all the Leprechauns & keep their pots of GOLD… ;)

    VBobier Reply:

    All members? Umm, Men don’t have Vaginas, so just how would a transvaginal ultrasound be performed & where for that matter?

    Paulus Magnus Reply:


    Although what never got mentioned in concert with that bill was that abortions would’ve had one anyhow for the exact same reason. Much ado about nothing.

  3. jimsf
    Mar 17th, 2012 at 19:22

    monkey see monkey do. since all the news stories have been negative and sensationalized and we’ve become a country of negativism, and because the right is mouthier when it comes to showing up at local meetings… now fresno county ( not city) is pondering a symbolic pulling of support from hsr. Seems the farmers have gotten to them. But, they are afraid the HMF would go to Merced if they do that. Merced is still hsr friendly. ( and thus derserving of the jobs) Fresno is still kicking itself for losing the new UC to merced.

    Oddly, as coment sections go, there are a surprising number of pro hsr comments. the only paper where I ever see pro hsr comments is the chron.

  4. Jerry
    Mar 17th, 2012 at 19:29

    Burlingame City Council will decide at meeting on Mon., Mar. 19 whether to support the bill as several cities and counties across the state have already done so. It’s part of negative campaign against HSR.

    VBobier Reply:

    Supporting a bill that has no future outside of the shredder is sheer lunacy.

  5. J. Wong
    Mar 17th, 2012 at 19:30

    Harkey’s bill doesn’t have a snowball’s chance in hell. What I’m more worried about is LaMalfa’s petition drive. All it would take is some right-wing billionaire to donate $2mil to it to get it on the November ballot.

    Daniel Krause Reply:

    The LAT article got it partially wrong. The deadline for qualifying for Nov. 2012 ballot is end of June and the signatures need to be all completed sometime in late April. The Aug 13 deadline is qualify for the next election that will have intiatives on it, which will be Nov. 2014. They get six months to gather the over 1/2 million signatures, but have no chance to get on this ballot short of a miracle. If they don’t get the 1/2 million signatures, then the intiative is dead and they would have to resubmit.

    J. Wong Reply:

    Hallelujah! Once the initial disbursement is made for the ICS, they’ll have a hard time passing it since it would guarantee that the ICS is sunk versus the (very unlikely) possibility of it being sunk because of lack of further funds.

    morris brown Reply:

    @Daniel Krause

    LaMalfa has 150 days to gather the signatrues from the date the S.O.S. issued the summary, with I believe was last Thursday or Friday. They would need more than 1/2 million signatures, since there are always a considerable number of “invalids” to contend with.

    In order to qualify for the Nov 6th, 2012 election, the signatures would have to be submitted 131 days before Nov 6th, with would be around June 28th. So LaMalfa would have to really collect and submit the signature by June 28th to qualify for the Nov 6 2012 election.

    This may well be impossible.

    However,however, note that Governor Brown says he will be able to submitt a new Tax Initiative and get it qualified for the Nov 2012 election and he doesn’t yet have the clearance form the AG, LAO or the S.O.S.

    What he does have apparently is money to gather the signatures, but it is gonig to be a very short window since he can’t start to gather until he gets the clearance. Normally that would be 45 days or more, but I strongly suspect he will get that in a much sorter time frame.

    In this case I think they will need over 1 million signatures to make sure it qualifies. They are going to have to pay a really big premium to the signature gatheres.



    Alon Levy Reply:

    Which initiative do you think needs a million signatures – yours, or Gov. Brown’s?

    morris brown Reply:

    @Alon Levy

    What makes you think I have anything to do with LaMalfa’s initiative? I have not had anything to do with it.


    you read:

    A ballot proposition enacted by the initiative process may alter the state constitution, or amend the ordinary laws of the state, or do both. An initiative is brought about by writing a proposed law as a petition, and submitting the petition to the California Attorney General along with a submission fee (in 2004 this was $200), and obtaining signatures on petitions from registered voters amounting to 8% (for a constitutional amendment) or 5% (for a statute) of the number of people who voted in the most recent election for governor. The signed petitions are then sent to the Secretary of State of California for validation of signatures.

    Due to duplicate signing or invalid signatures, usually at least 50% more than the legal minimum number of signatures are collected to compensate for possible invalidated signatures. If the number of validated signatures is more than the minimum number required, the proposed initiative measure is submitted to the voters, similar to a referendum as noted above. If the proposition is approved by more than 50% of all voters who vote, it becomes a part of the state constitution (if it is a proposed amendment) or the state’s statutes (if it is a proposed statute) in the same manner and having the same legal effect as if it had been passed by the state legislature and signed by the governor.

    MY understainding the is Governor’s Tax initiative falls under the 8% requirement whereas LaMalfa’s initiative is under the 5% requirement.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    Sorry. I assumed that as an opponent of the system, you were involved in LaMalfa’s initiative, in addition to lawsuits trying to stop the project on EIS grounds.

    Also, thanks for the 5% vs. 8% bit. For some reason I’d remembered that there was one uniform limit for all initiatives, one for all referendums, and one for recalls.

  6. Jerry
    Mar 17th, 2012 at 19:36

    Surprisingly, Assemblyman Jerry Hill has said that Harkey’s legislation is unnecessary since economic conditions could improve making the HSR project easier to fund in the future.
    Hill also urged the CAHSR Authority to fund construction of the two bookends while concurrently starting construction in the Central Valley.

    VBobier Reply:

    Good for the Assemblyman.

    morris brown Reply:


    Assemblynam Jerry Hill is running to replace Senator’s Simitian’s seat this fall. He is doing everything to promote himself and right now he sees electrification as a popular cause.

    On the other hand he has on numerous occassions reflected that the High Speed Rail project made no econommic sense.

  7. jimsf
    Mar 17th, 2012 at 20:39

    We can’t kill hsr. we need it to connect with DX. which as i just found, has a very nice new site and wow are they planning a nice on board experience. I hope our is that nice.

    I don’t know if republicans are just stupid, or really just that bitter, or if they really truly believe the crap they come up with or just what. It seems that the right has simply lost its collective mind. How paranoid can one be about trains.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    I hope your HSR isn’t vaporware.

    Paulus Magnus Reply:

    They’ve cut their fares. $89 in 2017$ round-trip is a lot lower than the $110 they were planning before. Still don’t think it’s workable with loans.

    VBobier Reply:

    That would be barely passable fiction, unless You can back it up & I don’t mean with worthless talking points…

    Paulus Magnus Reply:

    Paying back the loan would take more than 75% of their own projected revenue each year. Not income, but gross revenue. That’s not financially feasible.

    jimsf Reply:

    you know I finally had to look up “vaporware” cuz I keep hearing the term. anyway lt looks real to me – they are waiting to hear soon on the loan rrif loan approval. looks like they have a lot done

  8. jimsf
    Mar 17th, 2012 at 21:49

    What will you do if gasoline prices reach $5 a gallon?
    Ride the train or public transit more often
    Drive less or join a carpool
    Get a more fuel-efficient vehicle
    Just pay the price and drive as usual
    Created on Mar 12, 2012
    Total Votes: 232

    I wonder who they asked though.

    VBobier Reply:

    Or even drive down the Freeway at 55mph on cruise control like I do…

  9. missiondweller
    Mar 17th, 2012 at 21:51

    “Right-wing Republican Assemblymember Diane Harkey, from southern Orange County, is once again trying to kill high speed rail with a bill in the legislature”

    “Peninsula officials also offered support for the legislation including Burlingame Mayor Jerry Deal and Belmont Mayor Dave Warden.” *******Would those be left wing Democrats?************

    “she reminds Californians and legislators that opposition to high speed rail is the position of the far right. ”

    Can you say cognitive dissonance?

    J. Wong Reply:

    Yes, it is cognitive dissonance because Harkey is a conservative legislator while the Peninsula is pretty reliably liberal, but not as much as you might think (after all, the Hoover Institute is based at Stanford). But the dissonance is that otherwise liberal Peninsula politicians want to kill HSR not so much because of agreeing with Harkey politically, but because they want to protect their perceived quality of life, i.e., NIMBY’s.

  10. jimsf
    Mar 17th, 2012 at 22:57

    High-speed rail planners focus on running trains to L.A. before Bay Area
    BY JOHN COX Californian staff writer
    jcox@bakersfield.com | Saturday, Mar 17 2012 10:00 PM

    Tim Reply:

    They better be… If you “fill-the-gap” then you get the rest of the technicals on board with the project and we can once and for all kill the term “train-to-nowhere”. Last time I checked LA isn’t “nowhere”.

    VBobier Reply:

    Amen to that, Los Angeles CA is indeed somewhere, as that’s where Hollywood CA is at, the real Hollywood, as none have the sign on a Mountain…

    Peter Baldo Reply:

    In a perfect world, they’d just borrow the money for SF-LA, and build SF-LA. If they could borrow the money from the federal government at whatever interest rate the federal government pays, this would be as good a business plan as whatever they’re currently working on. None of the cobbled-together starter systems being proposed are particularly attractive.

  11. Gianny
    Mar 18th, 2012 at 03:28

    ^^^ Agreed.
    Antonio Villaraigosa would see it be that way. He is trying to expand LA County’s transportation infrastruture and just this week got a big approval on his 10/30 plan despite the state of politics.

    I say bring it, Anaheim to Bakersfield :) or to wherever the ICS ends!

    jimsf Reply:

    la ana to bfd doesn’t really help anyone though. Non on in la is going to bfd. It would just be a medium speed regional train serving the la region ana ful lax bur syl pmd – just a fast metrolink basically. it would at least have to be la mcd or something to serve two regions and tie them together.

    Paulus Magnus Reply:

    la ana to bfd doesn’t really help anyone though. Non on in la is going to bfd

    Then why, pray tell, are those LA-BFD Thruway buses so very full? Not to mention that once in BFD, they can connect to the rest of the state via train.

    jimsf Reply:

    depends on what the plan is. it still isn’t clear what they are meaning to do. Is this a push for full electric 220 hsr between lax and bfd, connecting to the bfd-mcd full electric 220 ics then sure thats great.

    or are the talking about blended, where a non electric 110 mcd-bfd ICS just runs thru from bfd to lax-ana on non electric shared track?

    The bottom line is that nothing has been made that clear yet.

    jim Reply:

    The SCAG memo is fairly clear. What people are working to (which may not end up being what’s implemented) is CHSRA will run actual 220 mph high speed trains between Sylmar and Merced with stops at Palmdale, Bakersfield and Fresno (plus some trains will stop at Visalia/Hanford); Metrolink will run conventional diesel trains between Anaheim and Sylmar, through LAUS; Amtrak-California will run conventional Surfliners between San Diego and Sylmar, through LAUS; Amtrak-California will run conventional San Joaquins between Merced and Oakland and between Merced and Sacramento. The conventional diesel trains will probably run at a 79 mph MAS through the LA Basin and north of Merced. The Surfliners may reach 110 mph on a few stretches between LA and SD.

    LA-Oakland in 6 hours, LA-Sacramento in 5, San Diego-Fresno in 5.

    synonymouse Reply:

    220mph on 3.3% gradients.

    Matthew B Reply:

    I love how Lowenthal is clamoring to get HSR built to LA before the Bay Area.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    What’s wrong with that?

    joe Reply:

    Nothing wrong with bringing home the bacon. That’s part of his job.

    I think he’ll attract more support with cooperation than with threats against the project.
    Also, this political genius’s prolonged skepticism and HSR-FUD have made pushing the project forward (for his district) more difficult. He’s generated a backlash for any HSR cash grab. A flip-flopping sell-out.

    I suspect that is why Matt B “loves to see Lowenthal clamor.

    Jonathan Reply:

    Lowenthal has been angling to kill HSR. But, if money is going to be spent, it’s going to be spent in HIS district FIRST, dammit!

    Totally self-consistent and principled :)

    Alon Levy Reply:

    One of the advantages of starting with LA-Bako then is that it partially defuses Lowenthal’s opposition. It’s important for us to realize that not everyone in California is as supportive of the project as Robert, or even as supportive as Clem. There are tons of do-it-right types, tons of people who just want their pound of flesh, and tons of people who would like it in principle but can’t trust the government to do it right.

    Richard Mlynarik Reply:

    Metrolink will run conventional diesel trains between Anaheim and Sylmar, through LAUS;

    That’s bat shit insane.

    As bat shit insane as Caltrain’s plans for total non-integration with the PBQD=CHSRA FL0 airline.

    Hey, let’s have the public pay tens of billions for this shiny new infrastructure, and then let’s play 1:1- scale steam train re-enactment on (or next to and separate from) it.

    Morons. Sub-morons.

    Paulus Magnus Reply:

    Like I’ve said, I suspect SCRRA will come up with the funding for the twenty or so miles of electrification necessary to bring it into LAUS rather than do the diesel connectors when all is said and done.

    Richard Mlynarik Reply:

    The issue isn’t the wiring for running the shiny shiny pointy nosed HS trains into LAUS.

    It’s Metrolink (and Caltrain) running stupid slow antique obsolete incompatible trains under those wires and gumming up everything and doing everything twice (or more) over, badly.

    Anything, anything, but don’t drag us into the mid-20th century!

    jim Reply:

    Under what wires? Paulus Magnus may believe that SCRRA will come up with electrification money, but the likelihood is, if they planned to do so they’d have tried to get the funding out of Prop 1a. And it isn’t in that memo.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    New Haven Railroad used 11kV 25Hz electrification in 1907. ….So Edwardian Technology….

    Paulus Magnus Reply:

    It would cost several billion dollars for Metrolink to make the necessary changes (thanks largely to the need for a pair of long tunnels on the OC Line, but also the expense of electrifying nearly five hundred route miles in general). Until that funding appears, which is not likely at present, they don’t have much choice on their choice of trains.

    Richard Mlynarik Reply:

    the expense of electrifying nearly five hundred route miles in general

    Paulus, I have you filed away in the “non-idiot” category, so I don’t know what to make of this.

    One train operator can operate more than one kind of train.
    For that matter, one transit coordination agency can have more than one train operator.

    Some trains can’t share some tracks with some other trains, but not all other trains.
    Some trains can operate on some tracks, but not other tracks.

    Electrifying Caltrain (over which UP has, but shouldn’t have, and needn’t have, screw-up-the-entire-world operating rights) doesn’t imply electrifying the entire UPRR network, after all.

    Paulus Magnus Reply:

    The problem is that Anaheim to Sylmar involves at least three lines and you’ll have diesels no matter what unless you electrify whole hog down to Oceanside, which involves at least two lengthy tunnels (as part of general track improvements granted, but rather necessary).

    Alternatively, of course, since Metrolink needs new locomotives anyhow, you could use dual-power locomotives but that is likely to be to FRA standards anyhow.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    Part of the issue is that the cost of electrifying the first mile is much higher than the cost of electrifying the 50th mile. The cost of electrifying the last mile is actually negative. There’s an advantage in having fewer classes of trains, especially for a small operator. It means easier maintenance, trains that can swap for one another, etc. It’s for this exact reason that today’s DMUs are meant to be as bus-compatible as possible, so that they can be maintained in the same shops; the assumption is that only small operations will use them, and large ones will have already electrified. There are also two separate advantages in doing electrification all at once – one is that it can be done more automatically, as with the machine they’re planning to use in Britain, and the other is that it can substitute for ventilation improvements in constrained spaces and reduce costs.

    thatbruce Reply:

    @Paulus Magnus:

    The problem is that Anaheim to Sylmar involves at least three lines

    6 actually, 5 that share non-LAUS stations, but how is that a problem?

    Assuming no change to Metrolink’s current service patterns, any electrified Metrolink trains would initially be deployed solely on their Antelope Valley route, followed by some of the Orange County services after Metrolink funds an extension of the CHSR electrification to Laguna Niguel, the terminus of some peak-hour OC services.

    You could also lower Metrolink’s spend on their FRA fleet for the years/decades it would take to electrify all Metrolink routes by assuming that the former Caltrain FRA fleet goes to Metrolink after Caltrain upgrades to a mostly-electric fleet.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    Using the platforms under the HSR platforms if I remember correctly. Ah the exhaust wafting up to the HSR platforms will be so bracing!!

    swing hanger Reply:

    I love the smell of diesel particulate in the morning…

    jim Reply:

    It’s a fair assumption that at Sylmar the HSR platforms will be elevated above the conventional platforms. Not that there’s a plan detailed to that level.

    jim Reply:


    You were the one who brought the memo to our attention. Read it again. There is no mention in that memo of isolating freight tracks, or for that matter, of electrifying. The plan is to double track between LA and Sylmar and fix at-grade crossings. The big item north of Anaheim is the LAUS run-through tracks. Reading between the lines, there’s no plan to electrify Metrolink, let alone run non-compliant rolling stock.

    Yes, they’re bat-shit insane. But that’s their plan.

    Jonathan Reply:

    It’s as if Dan Richard, a former BART Director (and chair of the BART Board of Directors) doesn’t realize that HSR cannot be run on the same rails, at the same time, as FRA-compliant trains.

    It would be delicious irony if it wasn’t so sad…. or if even there could be cross-platform transfers from HSR to FRA-compliant dinosaurs. But oh no, can’t have that; separate security domains, tracks at separated grades, usw.

    jim Reply:

    I think there’s some hope that FRA would grant a waiver to permit running non-compliant rolling stock separated from compliant passenger trains by PTC. In the next couple of decades, there’s no chance they’ll permit non-compliant trains sharing tracks with freight.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    The people in Bakersfield might get the urge to go to Los Angeles.

  12. Peter
    Mar 18th, 2012 at 07:28

    OT: High-speed rail planners focus on running trains to L.A. before Bay Area

    Peter Reply:

    Ugh, just saw that jimsf already posted this one.

  13. jimsf
    Mar 18th, 2012 at 10:36

    Is anyone clear on exaclty what they mean to do with the so called blended approach.

    Is it conventional 110mph trains running along a non electric, caltrain and metro link row with quad gates or are they going electric on the metro link and caltrain rows, and the valley ics before starting service.

    Do they even know what they plan to do? are they being vague on purpose?

    What is the exact plan!!!! please?

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    Vague. That delays making any decisions for a year or two. Then everybody and their brother can sue because the blended plan has a different EIS/EIR. Settling that takes a year or two. When somebody else can then sue because it doesn’t mitigate the problems the full blown plan does. By that time all the plans are so old they need to be redone. Rinse. Repeat.

    Peter Reply:

    It’s at least electrified Caltrain running at 79 mph, plus some additional quad-tracking. Metrolink has no plans for electrification. For Metrolink, the single biggest improvement would be LAUS run-through tracks, which is one of the proposed projects that would be required for a “blended system”, I believe.

    jimsf Reply:

    so what no is this a one seat ride or not. if metro link isn’t electrifying anything then the 220mph trainset can’t get through to laus.

    jim Reply:

    No this isn’t a one seat ride.

    synonymouse Reply:

    And this is better than Tejon?

    (in fine print at the bottom of the screen) “Any resemblance between this production and Prop 1A is purely coincidental.”

    Paulus Magnus Reply:

    Hook up a diesel, tow it in, still a one seat ride. Although I suspect Metrolink will put forward the cash to electrify to LAUS, it isn’t terribly far or expensive as part of a system deal.

    Clem Reply:

    The cost of electrifying, about $3 million per track mile at today’s inflated rates, is a rounding error compared to the other stuff they’re planning to build. Eventually someone in LA will figure out that offering HSR service (even bare-bones startup 2 tph HSR service) without a one-seat ride to LAUS is dumb.

    Tom McNamara Reply:

    No, that’s the whole point.

    Metrolink is happy to do upgrades that it can actually recover costs from higher ridership. The issue with electrification is that you would need some sort of diesel electric hybrid to do a one seat ride.

    That’s why what I see happening is that initially you get some sort of titlting diesel running from SF to LA which then gets held up in court and requires electrification on Merced to Palmdale with “connecting service” via Metrolink and ACE until enough cash is dropped in the “bookends”. Then because of the clamor for a one seat ride…the state and Authority have no choice but to build out the whole project….

    Clem Reply:

    I foresee a one seat ride which clearly will solve everything.

    Clem Reply:

    Just for Jim, here is THE EXACT PLAN. Well, a whole bunch of plans out of which the exact plan is yet to be selected. It gives you the flavor though.

    jimsf Reply:

    thanks ill read through it hopefully be less confused at what they are actually planning to do as far as just what will the first revenue trip consist of.

    Tim Reply:

    Anyone know which plan they are leaning towards? The 110/110 with overtaking tracks seems to be the best option/bang for the buck for schedule padding and future demand (6 caltrain tph + 4 HSR tph baseline). If we are spending the tax dollars we might as well upgrade the ROW to 110 mph (as we should the rest of the state supported corridors, but that is another discussion) or are the passing tracks just as evil to PAMPA NIMBY’s?

    On another point… anyone got an info on Caltrain’s procurement for EMU’s? With the blended system how are they going to have differing platform heights or are we still going down the road of more concrete pouring…

    Richard Mlynarik Reply:

    Anyone know which plan they are leaning towards?

    The worse, least flexible, most costly, least passenger friendly, and least useful.

    Of course.

    These are America’s Finest Transportation Planning Professionals you’re dealing with.

    Why even ask?

    synonymouse Reply:

    Richard, damn, why are you always right in the final analysis?

    Tony D. Reply:

    Who said he was right?…YOU?! Now that’s @#$% hilarious!! (LOL!)

    Richard Mlynarik Reply:

    Hey, Tony D. Do let me know what I’m wrong about; I can always use enlightenment, especially from those with rich troves of data and experience and those with impeccable prognostication records.

    After all, all I’ve ever said is to simple copy what successful people elsewhere do; if there are smarter local people (America’s Finest Transportation Planning Professionals!) who should be copied instead, well, I’ll switch horses right away.

    So do name names and call spades spades and get down with those brass tacks. I can’t wait.

    joe Reply:

    After all, all I’ve ever said is to simple copy what successful people elsewhere do;

    If true then it would be difficult to distinguish between your and Alon’s comments.

    Jeff Carter Reply:

    Hmmm, what can we copy here?

    Translink ® (sm) © err… Clipper!!!!!! ® (sm) © (etc) (xxx) (yippee!!!!!) ?

    BART to SFO/Millbrae?

    The wind swept, no shelter from the rain, stairs and more stairs, worlds slowest elevators, far removed from bus stops, monstrosity at Millbrae?

    Two dozen + transit agencies, each with its’ own (uncoordinated) fares and schedules?

    Central subway?

    BART to San Jose?

    Shitty off-peak Caltrain?

    Bay Bridge eastern span, still not finished 12.5 years after the 1989 earthquake and billions over budget?

    Consistently late Amtrak service?

    America’s finest transportation professionals at their best!!!!

    Jeff Carter Reply:

    Sorry typo alert….

    Should be: Bay Bridge eastern span, still not finished 22.5 years after the 1989 earthquake and billions over budget?

    joe Reply:

    Thanks Jeff;

    That god this is an engineering problem. I was under the mistaken impression we had a political problem.

    You say this is simply engineering: “Two dozen + transit agencies, each with its’ own (uncoordinated) fares and schedules?”

    I say it’s political problem.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    It’s political, but it’s not partisan-political. Electing progressive Democrats to office will not change that, because on the local level, there’s no such thing as a progressive Democrat. Anthony Weiner led the fight for Medicare For All in Congress, but in local New York politics, he was just another machine politico running on Outer Borough angst against bike lanes.

    joe Reply:


    HSR in CA is now partisan political – opposition was selected by the GOP as a tribal identification marker.

    HSR opposition statewide is not as simple but the primary variable is a ongoing war over public vs private. Weaken the government and allow private power to dominate the state and citizens. To that end, HSR must be stopped.

    Secondly, people are not policies. Politicians are imperfect – in fact – they are deeply flawed people.
    Weiner is irrelevant. Brown is relevant because of his power as Gov.

    Finally, I don’t trust the contractors and want more government expertise – at least play them off each other. Any superbly performing foreign HSR-philic company would cheat us just as much as a local bred crook. It’s what they do.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    The little details that are making the plan so expensive are not partisan-political. The reason costs went 2.5 times over budget in the Bay Area is not Morris Brown. It’s not even the NIMBYs*. It’s relatively obscure regulations and backroom discussions among power brokers about which projects are more important than others.

    The reason Weiner is relevant is that he was a major player in both local and national politics, and thus we can see the difference. The only other comparable person I can think of is Rahm Emanuel, and his neo-liberal reformist worldview is the one that does get represented in local government, since it’s associated with the local power base of big business. You don’t see this as much in California, since Brown was last a national politician twenty years ago.

    *As I’ve said multiple times, I’m convinced that Morris isn’t a NIMBY – he’s against HSR because he thinks it’ll be a costly failure, independently of whether it’s in his backyard or not. That’s perfectly fine, by the way. Robert, too, opposed the tunneled replacement of the Alaskan Way Viaduct, not because there would be more traffic in his neighborhood, but because he thinks it’d waste money and just add to the environmental problems coming from driving.

    Tom McNamara Reply:


    The irony in your comments is that it’s pretty easy in many countries that are unitary in political structure and homogeneous in demographics to realize what is good for the goose is good for the gander.

    America, by contrast, is the government contractors gold mine because you have all the incentives in the wrong place. But again, in time, even we won’t have the sort of luxury we did because we disconnected our economic and military power from reality. California is becoming a one-party state not because of some sort of brainwashing, but because it’s becoming less segregated politically, economically, and demographically.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    I don’t know exactly which countries you’re thinking when you talk about unitary governments with homogeneous populations. It applies to Japan and France, but Richard’s constantly plugging Switzerland, which has a linguistically and religiously diverse population and very strong cantonal and local governments.

    The distinction you should be looking at is English political culture (including former British colonies) versus the rest.

    swing hanger Reply:

    I agree with Richard M. that if you are looking to hire rail transport experts, the first thing you should look for is that their first language is not English.

    joe Reply:

    Yes, somehow the superior foreigner would not have to work any political issues.

    The NIMBYS along Caltrain’s ROW would be totally happy with having more, and less affluent foot traffic and racial minorities using this fanatically efficient public transit that runs on 2 tracks without any taking any property.

    Plus, they’d build rail at a profit and fix Prop 13.

    It’s an engineering problem.

    Jonathan Reply:

    @swing hanger:

    That’s nonsense. What you should *really* look for is that their native language is not *American* English. The point being that if you want expertise in modern, efficient passenger rail .. .the US hasn’t had any expertise in 40 years. Ahem. (flame-suit on).

    Richard Mlynarik Reply:

    Non-brain-damaged foreigners might have offered something and something of value to all, at justified costs and with justifications, not just “9tph is the answer, screw you you, now give us everything.”

    That’s is, after all, what they have to do and do do to negotiate with their own local NIMBYs, own local transit agencies, own local governments, own regional governments, own national governments, own governing parties, own opposition parties, own local funding bodies, own state funding bodies, own federal funding bodies, own state and national environmental protection bodies, etc.

    “You pay this, we give you these non-imaginary benefits in return, starting with this much on this date, and this extra three years later, [etc.]”

    It’s called “having a plan”. And “having a fucking clue about what you’re doing”.

    joe Reply:

    Yes! All we need is a sincere and well constructed plan to justify our costs.

    “You pay this, we give you these non-imaginary benefits in return, starting with this much on this date, and this extra three years later, [etc.]”

    “Get the government out of my Medicare”
    They can be reasoned with. And the NIMBYs too – they’d melt away if we just designed HSR right!!

    Taxes, you name it. It’s all solvable. Know the right scape goat: It’s fault of the transportation professionals.

    Richard Mlynarik Reply:

    So … the fact that PBQD chooses to butt-rape the public instead of using normal planning and engineering practices is the fault of the “Get the government out of my Medicare” people?

    Thanks, Joe! That certainly clears up that mystery.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    Yes they are. They are the ones that vote for and elect people based on how incensed the dirty farking hippies will get. Not on how well they run government. Most of them think government is a bad idea sn elect people who prove that government can be run badly.

    Tom McNamara Reply:

    No Richard, look:

    If California had and employed 100 top flight project managers to handle the state’s infrastructure needs, it could ride herd on any contractor trying to sell worthless crap.

    PB’s latent advantage with the project had to do with Schwarzenegger’s unwillingness to hire the staff needed to get the train into the station (pun intended). And what Joe’s saying is basically correct. Americans love to fear government and act suspicious of it, thus it makes it much easier for private parties to exploit the common good, because no one wants to make government strong enough to really know what it’s doing.

    Jonathan Reply:

    Tom: no, no, no no no. Project managers aren’t the answer. To detect whether you’re being sold a bill of goods for (your words) “worthless crap” — like CBOSS – requires actual domain expertise.

    joe Reply:

    Richard Mlynarik Reply:
    March 18th, 2012 at 7:30 pm
    So … the fact that PBQD chooses to butt-rape the public instead of using normal planning and engineering practices is the fault of the “Get the government out of my Medicare” people?

    Thanks, Joe! That certainly clears up that mystery.

    Butt-rape. Wow. And to think, so few take your views seriously. You lack proportion.

    Normal Planning & Project Management – if you really thought this was true I’d say you were naive. I know you don’t think this is the issue – you have a vendetta. It’s personal between you and the prime contractor. “It’s on like Donkey Kong”

    Our decreasing investment in infrastructure is not due to failings in organization i.e. “normal planning & project management”. It’s an ongoing, private lead war against public lead investment and public good – political.

    Jonathan Reply:

    to expand on that: project management, or even program management, keeps you on top of whether the bill-of-goods you’ve bought is being delivered effectively and on time.

    Setting the goals is outside the scope of project management. One of Richard M’s valid observations is that large companies from the transport-industrial complex can control the outcome (counter in the public interest) by defining the “requirements” to suit themselves.

    The way you fix that isn’t by having project (or program) managers; it’s by having in-house actual domain-relevant engineering expertise.

    Richard Mlynarik Reply:

    Jonathan re CBOSS and “domain expertise”. No, it doesn’t require that.

    Any competent manager at anylevel of any of the funding or implementing agencies could ask this one simple question: “What are the chances that a 50 mile, low-traffic, low-ridership rail line in California has XXX needs XXX justifies XXX could possibly cost XXX?”

    It doesn’t remotely pass the smell test.

    Any competent manager would have terminated the project at inception, and terminated the employment of anybody who suggested something so insane.

    That’s what managerial competence is about: not detailed technical knowledge, but knowing when you’re being lied to and acting appropriately in response. (I’ve worked for such people; it’s a pleasure.)

    Jonathan Reply:


    Is anyone clear on exaclty what they mean to do with the so called blended approach.

    What “they” appear to be doing is appeasing powerful politicians where the big populations are: LA and SF. They’re throwing money at local rail systems so that the true HSR can “join up” to existing rail.
    (And also placating NIMBYs along the route, noticeably SF peninsula — though that part doesn’t seem to be working so well). This is the so-called “book-end” strategy: spending money at the “book-ends” of the system at the same time as starting true HSR construction in the Central Valley.

    And all this without any apparent concern as to whether the book-end spending meets the requirements of Prop 1A. I’m neither Richard M. nor Morris, but I just cannot see how giving Caltrain money to fritter away on CBOSS is justifiable under Prop 1A. Caltrain electrification, yes, absolutely; but that’s a whole different kettle of fish.

  14. Keith Saggers
    Mar 18th, 2012 at 11:31


    jimsf Reply:

    thats great. but, the sad part is where it points out that californians have waited 129 years for this project. a simple overpass.

    that speaks volumes about how we are a people focused on why we can’t do something instead of why we can.

  15. jimsf
    Mar 18th, 2012 at 17:29

    well I read through 80 pages and lots of charts with meaningless squigly lines, in the caltrain/hsr blended approach draft. the only thing I got from it, when combined with other comments here, is that, the only part of the so called blended system where electification is planned is the caltrain end. not the la end and that they plan to use 8 car emus for caltrain and velaro or similar high speed emus for the hsr. Now how is a velaro emu going to use a non electifed palmdale to laus-anahiem?

    This is just more baffling than ever.

    side note: right now tsa/washington dc ( not amtrak) is already making us check every single passenger for “valid government issued photo id”

    Even if they build hsr with open access, isn’t it likely that waqshington dc will insist on that basic security – valid govt issued photo id. which brings me to the question. will ids be checked prior to boarding? at time of purchase from live person? or on board by on board staff?

    Please no snarky responses needed (richard and others you know who you are) but seriously, just what is the deal gonna be?

    Personally I could go for the eurostar model all the way. i just like how it seems nicer and classier, with all its services and amenties, so that would be ok. but really. whats the plan????

    jim Reply:

    No-one insists on a valid gov’t issued ID on the NEC and feeders. We’re always warned we need one, but when it comes time to get on the train, no-one checks. It is normal to buy a ticket online, get it out of the QuikTrak machine and get on the train without anyone checking that you have an ID. The ticket collector on the train takes your ticket without checking ID.

    jimsf Reply:

    and where will this velaro/other EMU go once it gets south of tamien in the blended system? they won’t be running anything until the pacheco and central valley are electified apparently, so then what happens south of bfd if metrolink doesn’t have plans anywhere to electrify?

    The politicians should stop opening their mouths if they don’t have any idea what they are actually doing.

    When I voted for prop 1a, I voted for a full on, get the bulldozers and the concrete and plow through the state with a 4 track pure, 4 track, fully independant and complete high speed system built from scratch. thats what I voted for.

    now I don’t know what they are trying to do.

    Quit appeasing everyone and start pouring the damn concrete.

    Jonathan Reply:

    Who knows? ICS construction plan to date does not include electrification.
    Seriously, as best as I understand it. (I’d love to be wrong, though.)

    jimsf Reply:

    but does the IOS include electrification.. thats the question…

    Paulus Magnus Reply:


  16. jimsf
    Mar 18th, 2012 at 17:50

    jim Reply:March 18th, 2012 at 5:44 pm
    No-one insists on a valid gov’t issued ID on the NEC and feeders. We’re always warned we need one, but when it comes time to get on the train, no-one checks. It is normal to buy a ticket online, get it out of the QuikTrak machine and get on the train without anyone checking that you have an ID. The ticket collector on the train takes your ticket without checking ID

    interesting. they are in violation of policy and can get canned for that. ( clerks and conductors not checking id) Out west we’ve always been told that the NEC is even stricter and more by the book than our laid back western ways. I hate checking id, but if I don’t I can lose my job.
    so those back east who aren’t checking, are in violation. Its their job not mine, on the line. so…

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    600,000 people pass through Penn Station every weekday. How many of them get their ID checked?
    And for what it’s worth, everybody who was on a plane on September 11, 2001 had a valid government issued ID.

    jimsf Reply:

    I agree that its ridiculous. what Im saying is, this is the policy per washington. so don’t you think its likely that this will be policy per washington on HSR as well?

    i have to turn away perfectly ordinary americans everyday and refuse ticket sales because they don’t have valid (non expired) govt issued, photo id. (if I wanted a tsa job i would have applied for a tsa job)

    but this is what is required so Im wondering how hsr will deal with it.

    swing hanger Reply:

    By the mere act of requiring passengers to show ID and/or go through security checks for HSR, the terrorists have won.

    jimsf Reply:

    yes I agree. but thats not the question Im hoping to get answered.
    the question is
    If tsa is already making us check id, then a: dont you think they’ll require it on HSR and b: who will check, station staff or on board staff?

  17. Responsible_Thought
    Mar 18th, 2012 at 21:27

    The engineering discussion here is all interesting, but really no different from the media and project opponents who are taking stands before the revised plan is even out.

    I strongly disagree that Prop 1A, AB 3034, and other laws box the project into to a separated grade or tracks for the entire route, or that the money cannot be used for electrification of existing facilities or that the train will have to take passengers LA – SF within a certain amount of time.

    That said, I want to see:

    1) a description confirming the routes (i.e., how different from the neighborhood-scale maps we’ve seen);

    2) a more specific estimate of the costs based on use of electrified lines;

    3) lower costs;

    4) whatever supplemental CEQA explanation is required to explain how the existing environmental documents cover the impacts of blended rail facilities.

    Paulus Magnus Reply:

    Except that the law specifically requires that LA-SF take no more than two hours forty minutes on an express run. Might as well claim that the sun is a giant orangatun’s ass.

Comments are closed.