High Speed Rail Helps, Not Hurts, the State Budget

Apr 5th, 2012 | Posted by

One of the biggest problems California faces, well beyond the issue of high speed rail, is a belief that government spending is all cost and no benefit. One only needs to look at Europe, where austerity is causing profound and insane levels of suffering from Greece to Portugal to Britain to see that government spending is actually a crucial element of economic growth as well as budget health. In places like Greece, massive cuts to public spending haven’t produced balanced budgets – all they have done is cause deficits to persist while destroying the rest of the economy in the process.

So when looking at any kind of public spending, benefits have to be considered alongside costs. That’s apparently a hard thing for many California journalists and pundits to do, as they remain committed to a highly ideological perspective that says all state spending is a cost, a drain, and a potential problem.

George Skelton’s latest LA Times column provides a classic example of the genre:

And even if the state can find the bucks, should it spend them on building a high-speed rail line, a cool choo-choo? Especially when higher education in California is such a train wreck?

Education — kindergarten through college — should be our No. 1 priority, for both moral and economic reasons. Producing an educated, skilled workforce for the increasingly competitive global economy is even more important than creating temporary track-laying jobs.

University of California student tuitions have been soaring, largely because of state funding cutbacks. The California State University system has announced it will freeze most admissions for spring 2013, sidetracking freshmen to community colleges. But community colleges have shed more than 300,000 students since 2009.

Bullet train versus book learning doesn’t have to be an either/or question, nor should it be. But first Sacramento needs to pump a lot more revenue into its treasury.

I’ll be the first in line to support more revenue. It’s desperately needed, and the state’s economy will continue to struggle until taxes are increased. California needs to spend more money on higher education, on K-12 education, on job creation, and on all kinds of transit, from buses to bullet trains.

It’s not just that those priorities shouldn’t be an either/or question. It’s that addressing and spending money to invest in them helps make everything more affordable.

One of the main reasons California got hit hard by the economic crisis, which is still not over, is because of its dependence on oil. Over the last 10 years oil prices have steadily been rising. That sucks money out of the economy, causing job losses, foreclosures, and in turn causing tax revenues to decline.

Part of the state’s economic recovery strategy, therefore, has to be the construction of cheaper alternatives to lighting oil on fire. By building high speed rail the state will reap not only the tax revenues that come from all the construction jobs, but lasting benefits from the “green dividend” it will create as money that was once spent on oil gets saved and reinvested in other, more productive uses.

In fact, studies show that the green dividend for California from high speed rail could be as much as $7.6 billion a year for LA alone, and as much as $10 billion statewide. That savings would help generate new tax revenues that would help pay for schools and other important public priorities.

If Skelton understood the way public budgets actually work – that spending helps create revenue – then he wouldn’t have written the column the way he did. Oh well.

His column also includes a very interesting quote from Senator Alan Lowenthal:

“My sense is that Republicans in Washington have been salivating at the prospect of using this in the fall campaign, saying that the Obama administration and California want to build a train to nowhere,” says state Sen. Alan Lowenthal (D-Long Beach), chairman of the Senate Committee on High-Speed Rail.

Lowenthal has been critical of plans for the bullet train but says “it’s moving in the right direction. There’s a real acknowledgment that high-speed rail and conventional rail can be part of a seamless statewide rail network. That’s a major step forward.”

Lowenthal is beginning to talk more like the member of the California Democratic Congressional delegation that he wants to be, and less like the Tea Party ally he’d been sounding like for years now. After all, Nancy Pelosi made her support of the HSR project very clear in a statement earlier this week:

“Under the superb leadership of Chairman Dan Richard, it is clear that the Rail Authority has listened to the concerns of Californians and produced a high-speed rail plan for the future that is better, faster and cheaper.

“High-speed rail will transform journeys into commutes, uniting our state and ensuring our citizens can travel as fast as our innovative ideas. In additional to the 1 million jobs created across California, this project will offer a cheaper travel choice to consumers, improve the air we breathe, and reduce our dependence on foreign oil in a time of rising gas prices. As the report demonstrates, the price of inaction is far outweighed by the cost of building for the future.

“By reducing the cost to taxpayers, speeding construction and respecting local communities with the blended system, the track is clear for California to lead the nation in development of a world-class high-speed rail system that creates jobs, promotes commerce and improves quality of life.”

I don’t know if Pelosi has gotten to Lowenthal, but his tone seems much better than in the last 2-3 years. Let’s hope the improvement continues.

  1. D. P. Lubic
    Apr 5th, 2012 at 23:01
    #1

    Shouldn’t do this here because it’s so off-topic, but it’s the best place to put this collection of links for cab ride footage on the NEC; this is what I found while trying to look for the Metroliner promotional film mentioned by Adirondacker the other day. Obviously this isn’t it, but I’ll look some more, and see if I can’t find that film.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gf9Fsod9qfM

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=endscreen&NR=1&v=rc551iXFgr8

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?NR=1&feature=endscreen&v=msTIql3Eu1k

    D. P. Lubic Reply:

    Well, this is as much as I can find for now; will try to get more later.

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

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GYTNuWAog3k

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=B_p3cJojjpA

    Adirondacker, do you recall the title of that movie, or the search term you used to find it? That might help in tracking it down again.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    I wasn’t searching for it. It was a link embedded in something I was reading. Probably a thread on railroad.net about NEC speeds. But it could have been a thread about Metroliners. It wasn’t on YouTube, it was on a historical site if I remember correctly.

  2. joe
    Apr 6th, 2012 at 08:23
    #2

    Party discipline in Congress is established by the leadership’s control over committee assignments and legislative earmarks.

    Alan can probably win his open Seat for Congress but as a Freshman, low seniority member, he’ll need the Dem Leadership to help him. Today that’s Nancy “HSR” Pelosi.

    synonymouse Reply:

    The queen of hsr will have her hands full funneling food stamps to Octomom:

    http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2012/04/06/BAPQ1NVF20.DTL

    Hey if Octomom(poster girl of the “new generation”?)relocates her brood to a trailer in Palmdale that should really boost the LART patronage potential.

    BruceMcF Reply:

    Why do you worry about food stamps that are such a small share of our nation’s GDP, and not about the massive corporate welfare in the great suck up of tax dollars for corporate profits that is such a big share of our nation’s GDP?

    flowmotion Reply:

    BruceMcF- food stamps are corporate welfare.

    BruceMcF Reply:

    In part ~ but corporate welfare that provides modest benefits to corporations and substantial benefit to large numbers of people in need, and costs as little as food stamps do, doesn’t hold a candle to the Military Industrial or Prison Industrial complexes.

    StevieB Reply:

    The conservatives believe that being poor is because of life choices and if you choose to be poor the wealthy should not be made to redistribute their wealth to feed you just because you are hungry.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    That’s the semi-official story. Conservatives believe that if you are poor it’s evidence that God doesn’t love you. The reason God does not love you is that you are a bad person and need to be punished. . Or that you are doing something that God is punishing you for by making you poor. ( and that if you are rich it’s evidence that God loves you… )

    VBobier Reply:

    I was told GOD loved everyone & that He never picked one group over another without really good cause & then look out. Not like I go to a church of course.

    VBobier Reply:

    Oh and that sounds fairly delusional on their part, but I can believe they think that way, others beyond their own Children are not important to them and they resent having to pay taxes to support people who are unable to work, but then I guess to them I’m better off dead than alive.

    BruceMcF Reply:

    That’s the thing about disability and unemployment insurance ~ its easy to convince people with a certain mindset that its somebody else until it happens to them, and since it only ever happens to minority, the balance still think its “someone else” being covered by programs with universal coverage.

    VBobier Reply:

    Cause Syno might be a Repugnican & Repugs, don’t like Food Stamps, Supplemental Security Income, Social Security Retirement Income, Social Security Disability Insurance, Medicare, Medi-Cal(Medic-aid in the other 49 states), etc, It’s convert all of those programs to capped state funded block grants or repeal what they don’t want to pay for, If one can not work through no fault of their own, Repugs say go live off Yer relatives, If one has anywhere to go besides the street or go off & die ya thief & leach, just one step short of the NAZI’s, but then they rounded up whom they didn’t like & put people in guarded work camps that were surrounded by barbed wire to prevent escapes from HELL on earth or they gassed some & fed the dead to the ovens, some were still alive of course, burned to ashes while alive, ghastly, people like that have no compassion, just hate of those who are unfortunate or different…

  3. joe
    Apr 6th, 2012 at 08:26
    #3

    http://dc.streetsblog.org/2012/04/05/u-s-pirg-report-young-americans-dump-cars-for-bikes-buses/

    The trend toward non-automobile transportation options was even more pronounced among higher-income Americans, notable because this group is less likely to be motivated by economic concerns. “From 2001 to 2009, young people (16- to 34-year-olds) who lived in households with annual incomes of over $70,000 increased their use of public transit by 100 percent, biking by 122 percent, and walking by 37 percent.”

    A number of factors are thought to be contributing to the trend. Some states now require “graduated” driver’s licensing, making young people pass multiple driving tests and hold learner’s permits longer before they earn full privileges. Higher gas prices, obviously, help put owning a car out of reach for many younger Americans, especially as the age group struggles in a less-favorable job market. Finally, technology, specifically smartphones, and their incompatibility with (safe) driving, help make alternatives that much more inviting.
    ..
    “Policy-makers and the public need to be aware that America’s current transportation policy—dominated by road building—is fundamentally out-of-step with the transportation patterns and expressed preferences of growing numbers of Americans,” the authors write. ”Federal and local governments have historically made massive investments in new highway capacity on the assumption that driving will continue to increase at a rapid and steady pace. The changing transportation preferences of young people — and Americans overall — throw those assumptions into doubt.”

  4. CaroZ
    Apr 6th, 2012 at 08:39
    #4

    Unsolicited advice to Mr. Skelton: if you want anyone to take your criticism of HSR seriously, do not use the phrase “choo-choo.” That’s a red flag of desperation/derangement pretty much on par with calling the president “Obummer.”

  5. Eric M
    Apr 6th, 2012 at 08:45
    #5

    While it has changed over time and changes somewhat from year-to-year, about 52 to 55 percent of the State General Fund Budget is spent on K–12 and Higher Education.

    BruceMcF Reply:

    Educatin’, Medicatin’ and Incarceratin’ ~ that’s the bulk of most state budgets.

    Tom McNamara Reply:

    That statement from the Department of Finance website is for all intents and purposes a lie.

    Click on the link a few millimeters below it, and you will see an obvious pattern associated with education funding at the state level.

    ——–> http://www.dof.ca.gov/budgeting/budget_faqs/documents/CHART-E.pdf <—–

    What you will see is that the state contribution to education dropped in the 1970s because population growth has slowed while property had become more valuable in the state due in part to tightening environmental laws and higher assessments by the counties. As soon as Prop 13 passes of course, the state contribution zoomed up to around 55%.

    Once it became evident that there could be a shoot-the-moon scenario resulting in higher taxes because of the collapse of the California defense industry combined with amnesty in the late '80s, we got Prop 98, which effectively created California's chronic budget dysfunction wherein the only way you could balance the budget at current tax rates was to have several IPOs in Silicon Valley that bump people ordinarily at a lower tax rate into the highest paying one.

    The reason, meanwhile, that the UCs have suffered is because since the pie isn't getting any bigger, it's had to compete for funding against the prison guards and Medicaid. In fact, the only way that education funding for schools would ever compete against transportation in the budget is through general obligation bonds.

    That's also the reason that Skelton's "brains vs. trains" argument is such balderdash. General obligation bonds for education almost always go for school construction, not operating costs.

  6. Reality Check
    Apr 6th, 2012 at 20:35
    #6

    Latest change in bullet train plan a blow to Orange County
    Agency’s revised plan eliminates a link to Anaheim, making L.A. the southern terminus in the first phase.

    Electrifying and improving the Los Angeles to Orange County route would cost $6 billion and save only 10 minutes of travel time, said rail authority Chairman Dan Richard.

    “Why would we do that, pay $600 million per minute?” he said in an interview Friday.

    [...]

    Under the new plan, Metrolink would get significant investments along its lines from the San Fernando Valley to Anaheim. Meanwhile, the Caltrain system in the Bay Area would get a massive investment to electrify its system from San Jose to San Francisco.

    Some high-speed rail proponents have attacked the blended service plan as a way for local transportation agencies to siphon away money intended for bullet train construction.

    But other rail advocates praised the new approach.

    Paul Dyson, president of the Rail Passenger Assn. of California and Nevada, praised the lower priority given to running high-speed trains between Anaheim and Los Angeles.

    “The choice of Anaheim was politically driven,” he said. “It doesn’t make any sense as a terminus.”

    [...]

    John Fenton, the chief executive of Metrolink, said the current business plan offers the best solution.

    “I like the idea of the blended approach because they are going to make investments in Metrolink,” he said. “This way we are getting more bang for the buck.”

    But those investments are a violation of the voter-approved proposition, said Elizabeth Alexis, a co-founder of Californians Advocating for Responsible Rail Design, a Bay Area group.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    “The choice of Anaheim was politically driven,” he said. “It doesn’t make any sense as a terminus.”

    There are three million people in Orange County and Anaheim is a tourist destination. Nah, doesn’t make any sense at all.

    joe Reply:

    Orange County blew it all by themselves.

    Assemblywoman Diane Harkey [R], whose new bill won unanimous approval from the City Council, says the state’s $91 billion rail proposal ‘has spun out of control’ and that the Legislature should repeal $9 billion in funding from a bond approved by voters in 2008.

    Boards of supervisors in Orange, San Diego and four other counties support AB1455, Harkey’s office said, along with about a dozen cities including Orange, Mission Viejo, Laguna Niguel, Rancho Santa Margarita and San Juan Capistrano. Oceanside – San Clemente’s nearest neighbor to the south – also supports the bill.

    While I doubt the State is being petty, CAHSRA should avoid expending resources and create any dependency with any part of OC at this time.

    Paulus Magnus Reply:

    Looks like the article might be badly written or misinformed, Anaheim is still part of the plans. Off-hand I’d guess they’re confused about IOS and full Phase 1.

    Donk Reply:

    Elizabeth, your comments have grown tired and you have become irrelevant, especially now with the cloak removed and your true NIMBYism revealed.

    BTW, are you guys ever going to take the “Days since…The Authority asked to update its 2009 project cost estimate: 420 days ago” counter off your website?

    Rick Rong Reply:

    Donk, it sounds like you keep checking CARRD’s website regularly. It sort of undermines your claim that CARRD has become irrelevant.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    I suspect he goes and checks it when someone from CARRD spread yet more FUD.

    Donk Reply:

    I actually did check it yesterday, but that was the first time in several months and probably only the 4th time total. I also noticed yesterday that their last post was from November 2011.

    synonymouse Reply:

    $6 billion to Orange County and $20bil for the Roundabout? What a joke to worry about saving money when you have already sold out.

    The dilemma that the CHSRA will discover when they finally start up operations is that there is no way out of low or missing ridership. If you run more trains, you lose more money; if you cut service, you lose patronage. If you cut fares you will attract more riders – nothing brings out people like free – but again more losses.

    The Detour will have loads of extra capacity – so they will plenty of room for my San Francisco Chief. If I live long enough I’ll save up my farthings to book a roomette to points east.

  7. Reality Check
    Apr 6th, 2012 at 20:42
    #7

    Caltrain electrification plan leaves Gilroy out

    Caltrain is adamant that they absolutely not canceling service to Gilroy, Woodward said.

    “It’s a common worry, and it’s a worry I’ve expressed, but I’ve been told by everyone in the case that the VTA is committed to keeping service to Gilroy,” he said.

    Riders from Gilroy to San Francisco would instead have to stop in San Jose, get out, and get on the election[sic] train for the rest of the trip.

    “Electrification will bring a faster, cleaner, quieter, more efficient rail system to the corridor, with more frequent service to more stations and significantly increased ridership. A modernized Caltrain system will accommodate future job and population growth in the region,” wrote Caltrain spokeswoman Christine Dunn.

    Recent reports say that average weekly riders from the Gilroy station have increased to 366, which is 18 more than last year.

    Joe Reply:

    In the AM commute, a local train out of gilroy with transfer at SanJose/Tamien to express service is a faster ride to Palo Alto than staying on the local train.

    One can hope this transfer to electric caltrain offers similar opportunites to get on express service promptly.

    Plus there are three trains. Down from four which happened after the state doubled the 101 highway to 8 lanes.

    Finally, VTA pays into caltrain. If the region fixes caltrain funding and creates a dedicated pot of money, i think VTA loses leverage and caltrain will try to end service south of tamien.

    BrianR Reply:

    After Caltrain is electrified from SF to San Jose I assume Caltrain could hold on to a handful of it Bombardier or Gallery cars for operation on the San Jose to Gilroy part of the line. They could purchase some of those hybrid diesel electric switcher locomotives custom ordered with HEP (if an option) and run some mini push-pull consists with 2 cars (1 cab /bicycle /coach car + 1 regular coach w/ luggage rack car). Maybe even just the 1 cab car and the locomotive. I don’t care whether or not it’s a stupid idea I just think it would make for an “incredibly cute little choo-choo train!”

    Seriously I don’t think it’s all that bad in concept. If buying new hybrid diesel electric switchers it would probably be just as cost effective to buy new hybrid diesel electric DMU’s or rail busses. Even if electric service terminates in Tamien I assume the Gilroy to San Jose service should still terminate in Diridon since it’s a more logical endpoint. I think an indirect benefit of having the Gilroy service “divorced” from the rest of the operations by lack of electrification is that service on that part of the line can be optimized or adjusted (increased or decreased) to best serve the traffic patterns on that part of the line and operate more efficiently. Having more flexible schedule options may even increase ridership along that part of the line. It could operate like the diesel-ized equivalent of a light rail line.

    Donk Reply:

    Brian, the problem here is that you are giving Bay Area transportation experts too much credit. What you propose would be efficient. Bay Area transportation experts don’t understand how to connect two rail lines together, let alone to coordinate the transfer.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    What would be cheap and efficient would be to run buses until its electrified

    joe Reply:

    Really cheap and shitty too. VTA they already run buses from the Caltrain Gilroy North in the AM and back in the PM: VTA 121 and VTA 168 which stops at the Caltrain stops in South County and expresses to San Jose’s station – but the express buses ride on the roads and highway.

    BruceMcF Reply:

    Buses don’t have to be a cheap and shitty option, but all too often when public transport agencies implement them that’s the way they end up.

    BruceMcF Reply:

    With two diesel train corridors coming in from the East Bay, running one of them through to Gilroy and return would seem the simpler way to include Gilroy.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    Or do like the Metrolink does with Amtrak, pay HSR to carry passengers instead of running a separate train. All those people getting on and off for Monterey means there will be empty seat between Gilroy and San Jose. I’m sure they can come to an arrangement. Or like SLE does with Amtrak or VRE does with Amtrak….

    BruceMcF Reply:

    That’s workable under Pacheco ~ given the frequency, it would be just a small section per HSR train. It’d be harder to make it work under Altamont.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    Under Altamont you don’t need service to Salinas because getting to Los Angeles from Salinas involves a car trip to the parking garage at the Fresno HSR station.

    BruceMcF Reply:

    Its hard to see how that catching the HSR at Fresno is a solution that addresses commuter rail to San Francisco for either retaining what Gilroy already has or Monterey County getting what the TAMC has been angling for.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    I realize that if Altamont is built the heavens will open and peace will reign across the globe, poverty will be eliminated, disease conquered and everybody will have an iPad but I doubt people in Salinas who want to get to San Francisco will go via Altamont.

    BruceMcF Reply:

    I doubt people in Salinas who want to get to San Francisco will go via Altamont.

    Yes, 100% precisely as I suggested:

    It’d be harder to make it work under Altamont.

    Meanwhile, there are people in Monterey County who have explicitly suggested getting to Altamont via the current Amtrak corridor to the Caltrain corridor at Gilroy and then up the Caltrain corridor. So there are at least some people in Monterey County who can imagine getting to San Francisco via Gilroy.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    So someone in Stockton who wants to go to San Francisco is going to take a train to San Jose that then travels all the way to Gilroy to turn around, goes back through San Jose and then continue on to San Francisco. Interesting.

    Tom McNamara Reply:

    Nope, he’s going to take BART.

    BruceMcF Reply:

    No, they’ll take the Super-Ace or Super-SJ to a BART station ~ whichever gets to the earlier BART through the tunnel ~ then ride to the closest BART station to their downtown SF destination.

    And the first of the improvements on those connections will be completed before construction of the CV to Bay corridor begins.

    Peter Reply:

    BrianR, that’s actually precisely what Caltrain’s plan is. They plan to maintain their newer Bombardier cars and their newest MP36 locomotives for Baby Bullets, as well as Gilroy and Dumbarton runs.

    joe Reply:

    I think an indirect benefit of having the Gilroy service “divorced” from the rest of the operations by lack of electrification is that service on that part of the line can be optimized or adjusted (increased or decreased) to best serve the traffic patterns on that part of the line and operate more efficiently.

    The benefit (selfishly for riders) would be to time Gilroy’s trains to meet an express train (5 minutes) and a local train leaving just afterwards (5+N minutes). Today that is possible – one of the gilroy local trains syncs with an express and the transfer/wait gets one to Palo Alto faster than a single seat local without 5 minute wait/transfer.

    “How low can you go?” There are only three AM and 3 PM trains. The track is single and shared with UP – Clem’s blog has details. It’s hard to use the limited service and meet work/family commitments.

    What is needed for Gilroy and ACE is a pony or more fantastical, a double track with service both ways. There’s a congressional proposal for double tracking ACE – it’s not going anywhere.

    There are lower/mid paying but ample retail jobs in my town – folks commute in from San Jose and Los Banos (oh my god). Gilroy used to have Indian Motorcycle and other industries. Morgan Hill more white collar but it has jobs. A counter commute so driving isn’t hard but it is still mileage on a car.

    Realistically the VTA is expanding express BUS service. Maybe it will help attract riders it they tried a counter commute service in the AM.

    BruceMcF Reply:

    Indeed, if Monterey County wanted to get in on the act, the Gilroy diesel could continue south to Salinas and north to Great America, with connections to the downtown SF Electric Express at San Jose.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    Or they could extend three Capitol Corridor trains a day and then people in Salinas have service to Oakland, Berkeley, Sacramento….

    Peter Reply:

    That is indeed what Monterey County is hoping for. I’m guessing Caltrain would then dump its Tamien-Gilroy service

    BruceMcF Reply:

    And there could also be one of the ACE trains if the schedule worked out better, or the San Joaquin if it was extended to San Jose … if only someone had thought of integrating the intercity trains together, it would make that kind of planning easier if the Northern California regional intercity rail services were not each placed into these artificial silos in response to whatever way they cobbled together the financing.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    “through sleeper service”
    codesharing
    Even though the silos exist that doesn’t mean someone couldn’t come up with an arrangement.
    ….like Amtrak crossing honoring SLE, VRE and Metrolink tickets…

    BruceMcF Reply:

    I’m assuming you didn’t click through.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    I did, Salinas isn’t on that map.

    BruceMcF Reply:

    It isn’t on the Caltrain, Capitol Corridor, ACE or San Joaquin maps either ~ your response to a comment regarding which approach makes it easier to organize extension of service to a new area was to point to arrangements for codesharing between existing services, which is a bit of a non sequitur, and under current plans to organize the three regional intercity corridors into one organization, not needed.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    Before Rhode Island decided to start paying the MBTA to run services to Providence the MBTA stopped at the state line. Before Delaware decided to start paying SEPTA for service, SEPTA service stopped at the state line. Rhode Island didn’t consider asking Metra or even Metro North to run them, they selected someone who had services that served the destinations they were interested in. So did Deleware. So yes, when Monterey goes shopping for an operator they are likely to use one that serves San Jose. They could do something rash like have some of the service provided by Capitol Corridor trains and some provided by Caltrain trains.
    I know this must be terribly frightening but the “Train to the Game” at the Meadowlans involves three silos. Even more mind bending, if you have a monthly ticket that has Grand Central as a destination you can go to a Metro North TVM and buy a ticket for Penn Station to Meadowlands! Your monthly between the suburbs and Grand Central is good for the leg of the trip between the suburbs and Penn Station. It’s a Trenton train that starts it trip in New Haven instead of in Sunnyside. The people standing on the platform, waiting for a Metro North train to come in, don’t flee in horror when a NJTransit train pulls in.

    You don’t need one organization to run trains. People have been coming to these sorts of arrangements since the first two railroads to meet, met.

    BruceMcF Reply:

    You don’t need one organization to run trains.

    No, of course not ~ I don’t see why nobody would say anything suggesting that you need one organization to run trains. People can and have come to a wide variety of arrangements, some clever, some simple, some effective, some shambolic, to provide rail services.

    However, given that people in Monterey County would have been looking at the prospect of perhaps joining the Peninsula Corridor Joint Powers Board to get a through diesel service to San Francisco, the possibility of instead working with the NCUS to get a service through San Jose, connecting to an upgraded Caltrain service and also providing a useful through connection into the East Bay, that’s got the potential of being a positive development.

    BruceMcF Reply:

    I don’t see why nobody

    Edit After Preview: … I don’t see why anybody …

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    the guy who said this

    “planning easier if the Northern California regional intercity rail services were not each placed into these artificial silos in response to whatever way they cobbled together the financing.”

    said it on April 7th, 2012 at 12:15 pm

    If it’s not a problem he wouldn’t be whining about it.

    They don’t need to join any Joint Powers Board, just like San Mateo didn’t have to join the BART consp.. San Francisco Bay Area Rapid Transit District. They can contract with any one who is interested. Since there’s going to be great big thundering herds of them they could even put it out to bid and see how many private contractors are willing to do it.

    BruceMcF Reply:

    They don’t need to join any Joint Powers Board, just like San Mateo didn’t have to join the BART consp.. San Francisco Bay Area Rapid Transit District.

    But San Mateo did join a JPA.

    But yes, you’re right, I concede, data is the plural of anecdate, there are no differences in institutions between California and the various states of the East Coast, and the fact that existing rail operators on the East Coast that are already operating trains have put together a variety of special services proves beyond a shadow of a doubt that the most financially attractive way with the least institutional hurdles for a county in California to establish a commuter service to and through another county is by contracting on an ad hoc basis without joining a JPA or agreeing to a CSA.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    Passengers getting on a train in Stamford to go to a Giants game in East Rutherford in not anecdotal. They travel in three states and seven counties to do it.

    Roughly a quarter of the 80,000 or so people who showed up for a U2 concert in East Rutherford using a train to get there isn’t anecdotal. That they many of them were too stupid to buy round trip tickets is anecdotal. Maybe the thousands who crowded the TVMs in Secaucus were just unfortunate enough to lose their ticket and had to buy a return portion. Pity that enough equipment isn’t available to run trains between Trenton and New Haven when an event like that occurs.

    I didn’t assert that it’s cheaper, more effective, whipped cream and sprinkles with a cherry on top, that the Train to the Game was anything other than a way for people in Fairfield and Westchester county to get to Giants games. Three different organizations and their militant unions got together and made it happen without an organization coordinating them. If the people in Salinas are motivated enough something can happen without one. Or they can join an existing one. Or they can contract with someone. Or they can create one.

    BruceMcF Reply:

    I didn’t assert that it’s cheaper, more effective …

    If you are using the examples to dispute whether it makes things easier, but not
    saying that a collection of ad hoc arrangements are better than a longer term formal agreement … then what’s the point of the examples? They can’t be to prove that its possible, since that’s not disputed.

    Paulus Magnus Reply:

    Wouldn’t that just be replicating the Coast Daylight service CA’s been planning?

    BruceMcF Reply:

    Not, it would be supplementing it.

  8. BrianR
    Apr 7th, 2012 at 00:43
    #8

    Yesterday I got a notice in the mail from the CAHSRA about the ‘Bay Area to Central Valley HST Partially Revised FINAL Program EIR (April 2012)’. This evening I was reading parts of it and (sorry to be bring up a thoroughly exhausted subject subject again) but reading through the comparison of environmental impacts between the Pacheco vs. Altamont / Dumbarton alignments I got to say it seemed a bit disingenuous when they cite environmental concerns about adding a new Dumbarton crossing without ever mentioning that Caltrain is already proposing a new Dumbarton crossing.

    So the fact that HSR will avoid this crossing in the near future for “environmental” reasons becomes irrelevant when Caltrain will (hopefully) cross it in the distant future.

    If avoiding a Dumbarton crossing is accepted by the government agencies responsible for approving the EIR as a serious reason for approving Pacheco over Altamont does that mean Caltrain could never build it’s Dumbarton extension?

    I think the whole irony in this is that the Dumbarton crossing should be considered an existing ROW because it actually is an existing ROW with an existing (although unusable) bridge. If that existing bridge was still in service and didn’t catch fire many years ago I would think we would now be talking about incorporating it into another variant of the “blended solution”. It would probably be the one part of the ROW with zero opposition to modernization since no NIMBY’s live on that immediate portion (unless someone docks their houseboat to it’s piers).

    Anyways, maybe that’s addressed somewhere else in the EIR and I just didn’t get to that point.

    BruceMcF Reply:

    A substantial question on an above ground Dumbarton Crossing is frequency each way and the speed that the crossing is designed for ~ an HSR crossing would be a Rapid Rail, two track crossing, while its conceivable that a lower speed, single track crossing could be argued to be lower impact.

    However, serious attention should be given to a below grade crossing, along the underground water tunnel alignment, since the construction risk is substantially lower where you have already built a tunnel and have substantial confidence what the geology is like. The Dumbarton water tunnel alignment could be the shortest standard gauge rail route between the southeast bay and downtown San Francisco, and between the northeast bay and the heart of Silicon Valley, so

    BruceMcF Reply:

    … merits serious consideration in any event.

    Peter Reply:

    If avoiding a Dumbarton crossing is accepted by the government agencies responsible for approving the EIR as a serious reason for approving Pacheco over Altamont does that mean Caltrain could never build it’s Dumbarton extension?

    No, there is nothing preventing both EIRs. For one, they’re each being prepared by different government agencies. Second, as BruceMcF states, impacts caused by an above-ground crossing for Caltrain would be very different from one for HSR.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    Well without HSR, when they apply for the Federal money for the project for commuter rail only, after the Feds stop giggling, they’ll tell them it’s not cost effective.

    Peter Reply:

    I wasn’t aware that the Feds cared about cost-effectiveness. Just look at BART to San Jose, errrm, Berryessa.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    BART is going to have a gazillion riders an hour 24/7

    jimsf Reply:

    I think its actually bazillion with a b.

    Peter Reply:

    I thought it was gajillion.

    Clem Reply:

    I don’t think you get the EIR game. Nobody ever got sued for exaggerating the environmental impacts of a design alternative that was disfavored for reasons of profit and politics. You can only get sued for under-estimating impacts. The CHSRA has bent over backwards to paint Altamont as an environmental nightmare. The fact remains that not a single transportation or environmental group (not associated with the transportation-industrial complex) supported Pacheco over Altamont. Those who have trouble believing this ought to try naming even just one.

    Construction across Dumbarton is environmentally feasible. There is a 750-foot long tunnel boring machine down there right now, making excellent progress through easy soils. They’re worried the exit shaft won’t be finished before the TBM arrives.

    flowmotion Reply:

    > existing (although unusable) bridge

    A lot of hopes and dreams have been pinned on that cruddy old one track bridge. The bigger issue with Altamont would have been tunneling through Niles Canyon. There be NIMBYs.

    Tom McNamara Reply:

    NIMBYs? Try the Endangered Species Act.

    flowmotion Reply:

    Exactly my point. There’s nothing easy about the Altamont route.

    Neil Shea Reply:

    But, but, you don’t understand, it _solves everything_. It let’s us get undeserving old San Jose off the mainline, we can protect our homies in PAMPA, our wine-making friend in Livermore can meet us in SF, and someday we might want to go from SF to Sac (but not on a train that would continue through to Tahoe).

  9. Roger Christensen
    Apr 7th, 2012 at 06:09
    #9

    In a Fresno radio interview Dan Richard said he would keep “an open mind about Altamont”. I didn’t feel an earthquake nor hear any comment about this remark and perhaps it means little. Admittedly my life revolves around Kingsburg and Los Angeles so I’m more excited about the IOS.

    joe Reply:

    That’s the right answer – it gives the CAHSRA leverage and options plus it allows HSR to move forward given the lawsuit.

    The EIR Lawsuit by PAMPA over the Pacheco alignment I believe disallows the CAHSRA from “certifying” Pacheco until the case is settled. All progress dependent on Pacheco’s alignment should be held up.

    The April 2012 Business Plan explicitly decouples itself from the alignment – it shows Pacheco but does not bind or certify that is the selected route.

    Once the case is settled the CAHSRA can select the alignment. If they select Altamont, they’ll have a new EIR to write and new set of lawsuits.

    Peter Reply:

    The EIR Lawsuit by PAMPA over the Pacheco alignment I believe disallows the CAHSRA from “certifying” Pacheco until the case is settled. All progress dependent on Pacheco’s alignment should be held up.

    No. That lawsuit is final because no one has appealed the ruling. Pacheco is assumably being recertified on the 19th of April, IIRC. The most recent lawsuit mandated that the Authority decertify the prior EIR, which is happening on April 12, I believe. It does NOT prevent them from recertify a revised EIR.

    Clem Reply:

    They are certifying the “Bay Area to Central Valley High-Speed Train Partially Revised FINAL Program Environmental Impact Report” (emphasis not mine) on April 19th. This re-selects Pacheco and provides a new opportunity to sue, although the legal grounds for doing so are getting infeasibly narrow.

  10. jimsf
    Apr 7th, 2012 at 10:19
    #10

    o/t but I just returned from a week in fabulous Palm Springs. I didn’t watch any tv, so I have no idea what going on with HSR, or national news ( Treyvon, the supreme court, or anything) so Ill ahve to spend all weekend getting caught up.

    some thoughts on the drive from MCD to PSP…
    On the way down, cut over tehachapi to take good look ( returned via tejon) …..Tehachapi is a no brainer, the geography compared to tejon is a piece of cake. and I drove through MOJ-LCS-PMD ( cut over just shy of VRV down to the 15)… The palmdale area is huge. ITs well worth having an HSR station up there. ( Its also really a stunning drive through those passes and that entire region is like “trains galore-ville!)

    While in PSP, had to drive into DTLA and back on tues. They are still building freeway all over the place down there. yikes! And what beautiful freeway you all have. Im jealous. the 210 is a work of art.
    The IE is absolutely in need of HSR. That place is HUGE. Id rather see hsr go to riverside and san bernadino instead of san diego.

    I used car pool lanes everywhere. Again, jealous. what a breeze driving the 10 and 210 twice, psp to la in just over 90-100 minutes.

    Note, the IE and LA were grogeous with the mountians, coming back into the Central valley is it was a smog filled pit. Got lost in glendale. What a nice town! who knew!

    There is a serious need for a freeway from palmdale to victorville. I didn’t know it would take so long and that its only a two lane road.

    I do think people will drive to VRV and ride desert express. there are millions of people at living in the region at the bottom of that hill. (riv snb rialto claremont covina rancho, etcetcetc.)

    If you havent been to palm springs… go!

    and again, that mountain crossing from bakersfiled to palmdale is like a mole hill compared to tejon. There isn’t just one set of mountains through tejon, and there are no level stretches through anywhere. It would require a massive amount of tunneling and viaducts to get a straight level line through there. Unless you want to run at lower speeds and follow the freeway row, in which case youd lose all the time savings no doubt.

    Palmdale is prettier and nicer, than most people think. With hsr coming, it might be THE place to invest in real estate.

    jimsf Reply:

    I saw a lot of nutty political signs in the IE though just like in Kings and Kern co. lots of stop the fed/ron paul/ repent/ etc nutiness.

    the nice thing about palmsprings, rancho mirage and palm desert, though totally republican, they don’t bother you. They are just really good and keeping everything spotlessly clean. You could eat off the sidewalks. Not one person asked me for anything, money, cigs nothin. THe repubs down there are too busy being fabulous and spending money and partying to worry about politics. And all week we only saw one possibly homeless person. It was just a guy with a beard on a bench so I don’t know if he was homeless but he was the only person with a beard so Im assuming hes the one homeless guy.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    totally Republican except for the gay Democrats elected to office. There’s some straight Democrats too…

    BruceMcF Reply:

    There’s the College of the Desert over in Palm Desert ~ so he could have been a prof.

    jimsf Reply:

    ah that must have been it.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    …and nobody asked you for anything because you drove everywhere. Hard to be panhandled when you are zooming by at 40. If theres nobody to panhandle the panhandlers will go someplace else.

    Neil Shea Reply:

    Don’t let Synomouse hear you saying that the Tehachapis are a far easier crossing than Tejon, his head will explode (I’m picturing the Johnny Cab from Total Recall).

    VBobier Reply:

    I’d have thought His head would first twirl around uncontrollably, but whatever. Think the Exorcist…

    synonymouse Reply:

    My head remains intact – cheerleader jedi mind tricks – “the Tehachapis are a far easier crossing than Tejon” don’t work on me. I have been reading Pelosi Pravda – aka the SF Chron – for far too many decades and have acquired immunity to machine bs.

    Apparently Van Ark was also unaffected by the puppeteering and recognized Tejon’s manifest advantages. The controversy is easily settled by engineering out both alternatives and performing a step by step comparison and cost benefit analysis. The refusal to study Tejon says everything.

    In the world of byzantine machine politics – wherein apparatchiks like Feinstein are elevated to seats of power for life like the Pope – really dumb schemes are regularly implemented. That’s just how power works. So you end up with the Central Suxway – a truly third rate project – of less importance than other projects and limited by design flaws. The only relatively easy and straighforward extension of the Suxway is straight ahead down Stockton in deep tunnel to the Wharf. The ridership return on this line in relation to cost is mediocre to poor.

    Ditto for the Roundabout, which will have scads of unused capacity. An enormous reduplication of a freight route that is incompatible with freight. And has the decision been made to make the Detour to FRA-AAR standards such that standard existing Amtrak equipment operate over it? Thru running or will you have change trains twice? Will it be Amtrak-BLE-UTU or CHSRA-TWU-Amalgamated? Only Nancy and Jerry know.

    Meantime in LA the future looms quite financially and politically “smoggy”:

    http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/n/a/2012/04/07/state/n111632D17.DTL

    Bankruptcy for Hercules and LA?

    In the next few years there is no question but what we are going to see very large tax increases imposed. In the middle of a stubborn recession, which is desperately seeking another bubble. Interesting times.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    Does having the tin foil wrapped that tight, hurt?

    Clem Reply:

    Probably no worse than the Kool-Aid that everybody’s had around here…

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    But Kool-Aid is on the inside. You need something on the outside to protect you from the Pelosi Coven mind rays, the union brewed miasma. and cooties that land on you when they jump off the HSR train in an attempt to feast on BART. That’s why the BART trains are aluminum, anti-cootie sheathing. The mind ray shielding is a side effect. On the other hand it prevents the miasma from dissipating. If they had just let Dagny Taggart design them she would have known to provide better ventilation. If Dagny isn’t available Meg Ryan..no no no, Meg Whitman.
    Or is it that the cooties jump off BART in an attempt to feast on HSR and Caltrain.
    All of this is hard to keep straight.
    If I had my secret decoder ring I’d be able to write it all down without Them being able to read uit.

    synonymouse Reply:

    I suggest you have to live in the Bay Area to appreciate how politicized and generally wacko this place is. terminal political correctness combined with the tackiest of tabloid. mixed with a bit of Clockwork Orange.

    Peter Reply:

    Assuming the Bay Area has a monopoly on cronyist politics and wackoness is yet another symptom of the delusion of California Exceptionalism.

    synonymouse Reply:

    Jerry (and of course BART) are the quintessence of California Exceptionalism. We don’t need no stinking base tunnels; we don’t need no stinking standard gauge.

    jimsf Reply:

    don’t be critical of california exceptionalism… the california dream is at the core of what keeps everything moving. like that something deep inside a nebula, where stars are born. let it be.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    Thinking that the California Dream is what keeps things moving…another example of California Exceptionalism
    There’s a whole country beyond the Sierra Nevada and beyond that a whole world. Most of the people out there beyond the Sierra Nevada don’t even know what the California Dream is. Many of them would find it vaguely unpleasant.

    Peter Reply:

    He’s probably feeling like Wendell Cox: couldn’t even prevent a light rail line from being built in his backyard…

    synonymouse Reply:

    If you are referring to me, I favor light rail mostly. For instance instead of SMART’s heavy subsidized freight and spendy doodlebugs.

    Peter Reply:

    While I could have phrased it more to your liking (not that I see the need to), my assessment is still accurate. You don’t have to run electric trains to for them to qualify as light rail. And you didn’t want it built.

    synonymouse Reply:

    By plan SMART’s doodlebugs operate on the same line as freight and are not streetcar light rail.

    Of course in an encounter with a semi at 79mph at a crossing they will seem very light indeed.

    Peter Reply:

    For someone as much of a rail foamer as you are I’m surprised you don’t know the difference between “light” and “heavy” rail. Hint: It has nothing to do with the weight of the vehicles

    Peter Reply:

    By the way, BART is considered “heavy” rail, and they operate some of the lightest vehicles in the business.

    Donk Reply:

    jimsf – I think your perception of the beauty of the IE and Palmdale are a bit skewed by the season. Yes they are beautiful from Jan-April. The rest of the year they are both hell holes.

    jimsf Reply:

    yeh I know. With just a little more rain and a little less smog though….. still, I see why people live in socal, there’s no winter.

    DavidM Reply:

    It’s worth a trip for the wildflowers.

    http://www.desertusa.com/wildflo/ca.html

  11. Roger Christensen
    Apr 7th, 2012 at 10:59
    #11

    Hopefully Metrolink will ultimately connect LA to Palm Springs. Last time I was there was twenty years to a attend a birthday party for an aging Ginger Rogers. It was a sunny mix of gays, Repugs, and aging film stars.

    jimsf Reply:

    I have mixed feelings about bringing rail service to coachella valley… on the surface it seems like a good idea, and would be very convenient. On the other hand, I don’t want to make it any easier for more people to get out there. As with the bay area and la, the more people who have access, the more they ruin the once prime lifestyle. Palm springs is extremely peaceful and Id like to keep it that way.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    Palm Springs already has train service, on the Sunset Limited….. But Greyhound is faster and has many more departures.

    Tom McNamara Reply:

    What should happen is:

    a) HSR uses the LOSSAN route and does not run inland.

    b) Metrolink should slowly be phased out with the Surfliner into a service that runs from Santa Barbara to Palm Springs along the ROW from Ventura to Santa Clarita, down to LAUS, and then east to the desert.

    c) The Sunset Limited should return to be a SF to New Orleans route using the Coast. and have the Starlight be phased out.

    d) LA Metro should take a page from Seattle’s Sound Transit and BART and become the regional operator and build expand fixed guideways.

    e) Smash all the southern counties into much smaller entities, so that no county in CA is larger than 4 million people: http://g.co/maps/8vy54

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    New England states get along quite well with vestigial counties. Making them smaller might not be the best idea.

    Tom McNamara Reply:

    It’s not about geographical size: it’s about population. Even New York City is broken into five separate counties.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    New York’s counties are almost as vestigial as the vestigial counties in New England. Even more vestigial since the Supreme Court declared the Board oF Estimate unconstitutional. Connecticut gets along quite well without counties except for things like determining which state courthouse a case gets sent to. New Jersey is slowly but surely moving to the New England model of vestigial counties.
    though there might be something to said for New Jersey eliminating municipalities and consolidating everything at the county level.
    …Tell us, how much wrangling goes on between San Francisco municipal government and San Francisco county government.

    Tom McNamara Reply:

    Tell us, how much wrangling goes on between San Francisco municipal government and San Francisco county government.

    Uh, none. San Francisco is the only consolidated city-county in California. As a general rule, counties are provinces of the state with the goal of local administration of sovereign duties… cities are municipal corporations which have duties that are discretionary.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    In Rhode Island, counties are also used to determine where to place train stations. The one station per county model means there’s a station in Providence, a station near the airport, and a station in this TOD-tastic location.

    Tom McNamara Reply:

    I don’t see a station at that location. However, that is a strategic crossing between the main road to Newport, which obviously isn’t going to get rail service directly. Plus, the Kingston station appears to be greenfield but is actually at the doorstep of the University of Rhode Island.

    Neil Shea Reply:

    That’s almost as good as the grand central BART-HSR multimodal station targeted for the fields east of Livermore by some of America’s Finest Transit Advocates on this very blog.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    ….some of them aging gay Republican film stars…
    Think big, if HSR goes to Phoenix you can take HSR to Palm Springs

    Neil Shea Reply:

    HSR will make it to Phoenix eventually, after it gets proven in CA. Metro Phoenix has grown to almost 4.5m now, far bigger than the metro areas of San Diego, Vegas or Sac. It’s closely tied into the SoCal economy.

    Tom McNamara Reply:

    Actually, Phoenix and Tucson are more closely tied to Orange County and San Diego than Los Angeles. That’s why I wouldn’t attempt to run HSR along I-10. Instead, build along LOSSAN and have the line go east from there through Yuma, Phoenix and then Tucson.

    Neil Shea Reply:

    Yes Arizonans (‘Zonis’) like to summer on the coast of SD and OC, but business ties are to the entire Southland. Meanwhile consider city sizes, if you add OC’s 3m people to SD’s 2m you get less than 1/3 of the 17m+ population of LA+IE, aligned along I-10.

    Meanwhile, Yuma is too tiny to worry about but serving the ~400k residents and 2.5m annual visitors of Palm Springs/Coachella Valley will benefit many more folks than just jimsf.

    Later, Vegas and Phoenix can begin passenger rail service and slowly upgrade it to HSR.

    Tom McNamara Reply:

    There is no major business tie between Los Angeles and Phoenix, other than perhaps the new stadium the Dodgers play in. Arizona is still too white to connect with Los Angeles County economically. But it’s a near perfect fit with the car-centirc, real estate driven, property rights loving, military infused part of the state found just south of Disneyland.

    Neil Shea Reply:

    Sounds like you’re including LA County among ‘us’ and points south as ‘them’. I’m not following your color reference or lack of reference to anything supporting your assertions.

    Meanwhile http://traffic-counts.dot.ca.gov/ lists average daily vehicle volumes in the corridors including I-10 (25k), I-8 (16.3k) and I-40 (12.4k) totaling almost 20m trips per year centered on I-10.

  12. John
    Apr 7th, 2012 at 14:12
    #12

    For the most part I read this blog to keep up on the union movement surrounding HSR. Afterall Cruickshank is paid by the unions to write this horseshit. It also provides me a window into the minds of individuals who believe they understand politics and think it is an easy 1+1= 2 equation. So, while I have tried this before, let me try to put this in very simple english. I have concluded that I am either writing at too high a grade level, or most of you dittoheads are to f-ing stupid to comprehend. I think it is more of the latter, but hell, I am an optimist, so I will give it another shot, in words even you folks can understand.

    Lowenthal is home free. NO one can touch him now. The Unions are FORCED to lend their support regardless of his position on HSR. The Democrats are FORCED to rally around him and will do EVERYTHING in their power to make sure he is elected to the 47th CD. Why? Because without the 47th District, the Democrats have ZERO chance of re-taking the house. Pelosi doesn’t give a shit about HSR, she cares about power. Lowenthal can choose between her and Hoyer, so she will do NOTHING to try to pressure him. You fools need to grow up. Lowenthal is FREE to do what he wants and there is not a G-D thing any of you can do about it.

    BruceMcF Reply:

    So, you are saying that Lowenthal is supporting HSR because that’s what he wants to do ~ now that he is free to do as he pleases. Interesting.

    John Reply:

    what has Lowenthal said recently that is any different than what he has always said? Give me ONE single example. he is still saying the exact same thing! he has always supported HSR, he has criticized the process, not the project. YOU are the ones that have tried to define him as a opponent of HSR. You should not always believe what you think.

    BruceMcF Reply:

    YOU are the ones

    I’m not a collective. There’s just the one of me. You’ll need the individual singular you, not the pigeon hole plural you.

    Peter Reply:

    Given that “John” apparently thinks that anyone who agrees with Robert is an astroturfer, “YOU are the ones” makes perfect sense from his perspective.

    joe Reply:

    http://www.reuters.com/article/2012/03/30/us-usa-congress-earmarks-idUSBRE82T10F20120330

    The huge federal transportation bill was in tatters in early March when Representative Mike Rogers of Alabama posed a heretical idea for breaking through gridlock in the House.

    In a closed-door meeting with fellow Republicans, Rogers recommended reviving a proven legislative sweetener that became politically toxic a year ago.

    Political analysts have long referred to earmarks, or “member-directed funding” as it is sometimes known, as the grease enabling legislation to move through Congress.

    Republican Representative Steven LaTourette, an 18-year House veteran, said the earmark ban “has affected discipline” within the party. “You can’t get 218 votes (out of 242 Republican House members) and part of that has to be if you can’t give people anything (earmarks), you can’t take anything away from them.”

    If a member of Congress agrees with 90 percent of a pending bill but is “uncomfortable” with the other 10 percent, “Sometimes taking care of your district (with earmarks) made up for that 10 percent,” he said.

    Discipline is maintained by earmarks. Lowenthal can pound sand or cooperate.

    Lowenthal can choose between her and Hoyer, so she will do NOTHING to try to pressure him.

    She will do everything to pressure him. How do you think she became speaker of the house? Winning an essay contest?

    Tom McNamara Reply:

    I have concluded that I am either writing at too high a grade level, or most of you dittoheads are to f-ing stupid to comprehend. I think it is more of the latter, but hell, I am an optimist, so I will give it another shot, in words even you folks can understand.

    I think you ought to wait on hiring that agent for your book deal. The vast majority of the highly educated, politically connected readers on this blog will have no idea what you are talking about.

    What you are trying to say is that Lowenthal is reaching out to Steny Hoyer about defecting his vote for Majority Leader. You are alleging that because of the change in the California delegation that Pelosi would somehow be desperate to have Alan’s vote. This would only happen though, if the Democrats DON’T retake the House.

    If they do, the liberal delegation will be large enough to ensure that Pelosi (or her heir apparent) gets the gavel….

    However, the reason why you are finding evidence that Lowenthal is doing this is precisely because the D’s have little or no chance of retaking the House. Defense is going to be the name of the game until after November.

    But after that, John Boehner won’t hesitate to use the Democrats to pass what he wants over the wishes of the Tea Party. Hoyer, for his part, is trying to make it easier for Boehner by fashioning a more moderate image for the Party. Demographically though, all the trends are pointing in the other direction: the liberal urban base is going to become the political majority nationwide within the decade.

    Besides, Lowenthal, unlike Joe Simi(t)an, only was fighting the project because he knows federal transportation funding mechanisms are broken and he’s worried about HSR becoming so bloated it affects air quality mitigation in the South Bay. (The original South Bay, that is, not San Jose.)

    Alon Levy Reply:

    A bridge dweller is well-fed.

  13. Useless
    Apr 7th, 2012 at 14:17
    #13

    Well, California will have to move quickly since it got a Texas competition for same source of foreign government funding.

    “Officials in Japan and South Korea are telling Houston-area Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee that they are interested in helping Texas build a high-speed rail line between Houston and Dallas. ” http://blog.chron.com/txpotomac/2012/04/congresswoman-sheila-jackson-lee-pressing-for-bullet-train-between-houston-and-dallas/

    Alon Levy Reply:

    Speaking of foreign government funding, do you know if Japan and Korea have said anything about California in the last year or two?

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    Probably the same impolite things they have been saying for decades. Things like
    “so the property tax assessment is frozen until you die. Corporations never die. Did the people who voted for this use lube?”
    “Odd, General McArthur taught us that a majority is 50 percent plus one vote. Not 66.6666666 %”
    …..

    BruceMcF Reply:

    Its not automatically a single pot of money ~ if they think its a potential money maker, then its possible to generate new finance for new opportunities to make money.

    Especially if enough foolish Americans have been conned into thinking that its a sure money loser, because its easier to talk someone into signing the upside potential over to you when they don’t really believe that the upside potential is actually there.

  14. Alessandro Sasso
    Apr 8th, 2012 at 02:26
    #14

    I live in Europe (Italy) and I can see that HSLs are real and strong aid to Railway Undertakers budget: our Trenitalia company was an inefficient state-owned monster, but High Speed circulation now produces revenues. And all our economy see benefits.

    So, your HSL plan is a real good idea and I hope to see soon Caltrain (electrified) traks shared with californians bullet trains.

Comments are closed.