The Important Detail the LA Times Left Out of Their HSR Story

Apr 24th, 2012 | Posted by

Our old friend Ralph Vartabedian is at it again. The notably biased anti-HSR reporter is out with a new article in the LA Times about a study on HSR operating costs:

The state rail authority has grossly underestimated future operating costs of California’s proposed bullet train, meaning taxpayers potentially will have to provide billions of dollars annually once the system is running, according to an analysis released Monday by a group of outside financial experts.

The California High Speed Rail Authority’s claim that its future system would generate hundreds of millions of dollars in surpluses is based on unrealistic assumptions about what it will cost to operate the network, according to the study group, which included former World Bank official William Grindley and Stanford University management professor Alain C. Enthoven.

Hmm, those names sound familiar, don’t they? They should. Grindley and Enthoven have been running their own cottage industry of anti-HSR reports for a few years now. Their reports are easily debunked, aren’t based in strong evidence, and tend to ignore other facts that challenge their conclusions.

More importantly, Enthoven is not an unbiased analyst. He owns property next to the Peninsula rail corridor in the wealthy enclave of Atherton, where high speed trains would travel on their way to and from San Francisco. In April 2010 Enthoven submitted a comment on the Revised Final Program EIR that made clear what his motivations were regarding the HSR project:

The proposed HSR route along the Caltrain right of way down the San Francisco Peninsula would cause serious damage to the quality of life in our neighborhood and the values of our properties. We live about one block northeast of the Caltrain right of way at [redacted] in Atherton.

…An elevated railway would be hideous and intolerably noisy. We like to eat outdoors in the summer, but with such noise we would not be able to hear each other talking. And it would wake people at night. It would transform our pleasant semi-rural environment into an ugly urban environment.

We have consulted with a local real estate broker who has 34 years of experience and knows our neighborhood well. In her judgement, even the hint of HSR becoming reality is causing a 10-15% drop in real estate values. When or if the train actually materializes, prices will drop 25-30%. That will reduce assessed values and local tax revenues. We are counting on our property value sometime in the next 10 years to pay for a retirement home and to help with the college education of our grandchildren.

Significantly, Enthoven’s own personal and financial interest in the high speed rail project, and his reasons for publishing a study critical of the project, aren’t mentioned at all in Vartabedian’s article. Here’s what is said:

The group, which also includes Silicon Valley executives William Warren and Alan Bushell, has written a series of financial assessments of the bullet train plan that sharply question its economics. The four experts are affiliated with the Community Coalition on High Speed Rail, located in the Bay Area.

Vartabedian doesn’t even mention that, in its own words, “CC-HSR is doing everything it can to derail the current high-speed train project”.

Surely LA Times readers ought to know that the study’s authors own property near the proposed HSR tracks and are affiliated with an organization that has declared its intention to “derail” the project.

But do their claims have any merit? Drunk Engineer takes a look and finds they don’t exactly have all their facts right this time either.

  1. synonymouse
    Apr 24th, 2012 at 22:58

    Enthoven is attacked but not the Chandlers. Cheerleader hypocrisy and favoritism.

  2. Prideaux
    Apr 24th, 2012 at 23:25

    Their operating cost claims are simple multiplication and division and aren’t disputable. the fact that one line somewhere else may be less than average in revenue per rider mile doesn’t change that. The Authority is nuts if they think they can run a profit and conduct maintenance at 10 cents a mile, or even at three times that, and pointing out that they are NIMBYs doesn’t make the argument invalid.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    It’s not one line. It’s the entire TGV network. And that network, including the one line that Drunk Engineer and others have looked at, is very profitable; the revenue is enough to cover not just operating costs but also depreciation plus a hefty 25% profit on the LGV Sud-Est.

    Or I can if you care give you a link to the European averages for operating costs, which are in line with what the CAHSR business plan says. Other networks just have to charge higher fares to cover higher construction costs (yes, even Spain – its construction costs are low per-km but high per rider).

    Prideaux Reply:

    I’d love to see it, thanks.

    ericmarseille Reply:

    Poof! voilà…
    Activity report SNCF for 2011
    Most important page : 16
    It states that, because of the soaring fees that SNCF has to pay now to RFF, owner of the TGV lines, gross margin on ALL THE TGV TRAFFIC ALTOGETHER is now down to a meager 14% instead of 22% in the nearest past.
    Just imagine the gross margin of the line Sud-Est…

    Alon Levy Reply:

    For example, the fixed maintenance costs (i.e. the only ones that are independent of traffic levels) are given as €30,000 per single track-km per year. This is about $120,000 per route-mile. The CAHSR business plan assumes $200,000; the difference comes from a lot of padding, a small bit of inflation, and maybe using a higher €:$ exchange rate.

    Note that in section 2.2 the paper does a calculation for a sample line, with lower construction costs than CAHSR, and concludes that one-way end-to-end fares would have to be €200 to cover all costs. This is not relevant to CAHSR for three reasons: first, half the costs are fixed, predominantly depreciation and interest on capital; second, the assumed ridership is a fraction of even the lowest estimates for CAHSR, just 5 million a year, so the fixed costs are split among fewer passengers; and third, the example trains have only 330 seats, on a par with single-level single-length TGVs but much lower than the international export trains that CAHSR could choose from.

  3. lex luther
    Apr 24th, 2012 at 23:56

    so dont listen to Bushell, Warren, Enthoven or Vartabedian…

    Instead lwe isten to a blogger named drunk engineer….LMAO

    Rick Rong Reply:

    Lex, are you judging the quality of his work on the basis of his handle, “drunk engineer”? You should be more careful with labels. Your reference to “the direction the ultra liberal euro socialist progressives have taken our country” seems particularly at odds with reality, even the reality our main stream media allows us to see.

    D. P. Lubic Reply:

    Thank you, Rick, for backing up DE.

    Lex, I personally don’t think Drunk Engineer picked the best of labels, but that’s not what I judge somebody by. Have you checked out his site? Have you checked out what he had to say, and have you looked for weak spots or errors? If you haven’t done so, you do yourself a disfavor.

    Here is his site, and some others, all maintained by people here:

    Drunk Engineer:

    Alon Levy:

    Paulus Magnus:

    D. P. Lubic Reply:

    Bruce McF:


    And even Richard Mlynarik:

    BruceMcF Reply:

    Indeed, if you search RM’s site with the correct link, one can even see a 3 Caltrain local, 3 Caltrain express, 6 HSR in, 3 HSR out Morning Peak schedule that runs as double track from Palo Alto Station through to Redwood Station.

    D. P. Lubic Reply:

    And there is Clem, too:

    I don’t consider myself quite a dummy, but I sometimes think I look like one compared to these fellows, although I wish Richard would take his liver pills or something.

    You might take note that I was the first one to see where your user name came from, but that’s not my source of judgement. Rather, what you say here is. That talk about “socialism,” and “liberalism,” and other ill-sounding “isms” are what label you, not your name. I should know, I’ve been falsely accused of some of these things just for promoting a light rail line, people who used exactly the same language you do, and worse.

    Out of curiosity, would you tell us just a little about yourself? Would you be willing to tell us what you do for a living (or used to do if you are retired), and would you also be willing to tell us how old you are? There are reasons for asking this, in that they may help explain where you are coming from. I would be glad to explain the age reason myself, but that will have to wait for now (and I hope it doesn’t bore long term readers to see it again).

    Nathanael Reply:

    Clem is smart. :-) I disagree with him on a couple of things, but they’re things he hasn’t analyzed in excruciating detail (like tunnelling under Dumbarton — Clem’s never worked out the curves, the geology, the launch point on the Peninsula, etc. If he actually did this for a conceptual alignment, I’d have to defer to him.)

    Clem’s analyzed a lot of things related to HSR in excruciating detail, and when he really does that, he is really really good at what he does.

    Tom McNamara Reply:

    I’ve suggested to Robert more than once that he clean up his blog roll and link to his long time posters. It’s important because as the web becomes more fragmented, establishing these syndications will keep everyone around longer and away from being taxed out of business by ISPs and the likes of Apple.

    Drunk Engineer Reply:

    Instead lwe isten to a blogger named drunk engineer….LMAO

    No worse than … “World Bank Official” or “University Management Professor”

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    and if being a Rhodes Scholar is qualification for commenting on HSR we should also be listening to what Bill Clinton thinks about it. Or Kris Kristofferson.

    synonymouse Reply:

    Or an ex-PG&E/BART operative. With San Bruno and BART to SFO expertise overflowing.

    BruceMcF Reply:

    There’s always historian of the Rail Robber Barons in the days of steam. Sober historian of rail a century and a half ago versus a Drunk Engineer with some knowledge of technology from the current century, you’d have to give the edge to the Drunk Engineer.

    YesonHSR Reply:

    Lex..smells like the internet anti-HSR troll called “florez” “train to nowhere” and many more..

  4. JJJ
    Apr 25th, 2012 at 00:55

    The “going around in circles” game is a classic one.

    Look at how the Koch bros and their foundations all operate.

    IE: Reason Foundation says HSR is bad. On its own, easy to ignore. Just one report.
    But then the Heritage Foundation comes out and says, hey, HSR is bad, and we have this great source (Reason) that agrees.
    And then you get someone ready to jump on that and gets to release their report, and they get to cite both Reason AND Heritage.
    Finally, Reason releases an update saying “we were right, look at how everyone else agrees”

    Of course, at that point a seemingly unbiased media source gets to report on “the growing evidence that HSR is bad”.

    But they’re just running in circles because they’re all quoting one another.

    So yeah, the names always will sound familiar. It’s all the same cottage industry of naysaying.

    Alon Levy Reply:


    Nathanael Reply:

    A very particular type of corrupt propaganda operation: “manufacturing false consensus”, it’s called.

    The oil companies did it when they were denying the reality of global warming. It’s a well-understood tactic. Scummy.

    slackfarmer Reply:

    Also played by the tobacco companies.

    I guess it’s understandable that the general public might fall for this crap, but it’s sad that the mainstream media can be so easily duped. I’m sure some promote it willingly as it helps them push their own agenda, but a great many are just “cut and paste” reporters that don’t put in enough time, effort or care to know if what they are spewing is true, false or even utter bullshit.

  5. Joe
    Apr 25th, 2012 at 05:47

    Fun fact

    Menlo Park is planning a major expansion of their downtown that will increase density and traffic.

    The city is Not required, nor did it try to consider or document the impact of their expansion on Menlo Park property values.

    Why is the HSR project held to a different standard?

    BruceMcF Reply:

    Another fun fact: the drop in absolute property values is just a supposition. For example, if one supposes that access to public transport that is independent of petroleum supply and price will be a substantial benefit in property values in ten year’s time ~ as being in an entirely car-dependent suburb a long drive from primary job centers is already a drag on property values ~ the net impact of Caltrain electrification combined with HSR operating through the corridor could easily be positive.`

    joe Reply:

    Electric trains are less noisy, visually they may see some of the track seperation infrastructure, so whst.

    synonymouse Reply:

    Aerials in California are godawful ugly and noisy. Check out BART in Daly City, just a stone’s throw from PAMPA. That’s how PB does aerials in California. PB subscribes to Brutalism, wherein noise is seen as an inherent characteristic of rail systems and thus to be embraced and not mitigated.

    BART needs to get its sorry ass sued over unhealthy decibel ratings. That’s something useless Amalgamated should initiate.

    Meantime some bad news for the growth-mongers:

    Hey, but let’s blow $20bil on paralleling the UP freight route and making it incompatible with freight. At least we’ll get back the San Francisco Chief. Probably moe passengers than Bako to Palmdale.

    Nathanael Reply:

    Aerials in California are far less noisy than old-style metal Els.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    The drop in property values isn’t a supposition, it’s FUD. All over the world being able to put the phrase “walk to train” in your real estate ad makes your property more expensive. It even works that way in the Bay Area where you can find real estate ads with the phrase “walk to BART” or “walk to Caltrain”

    synonymouse Reply:

    Therefore the Embardacero Freeway increased property values.

    How about a viaduct down Geary such that DiFi can enjoy the sights and sounds from her Presidio Heights manse?

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    When were they running trains on the Embarcadero Freeway?

    synonymouse Reply:

    a viaduct is a viaduct is a viaduct.

    Of course add corrugated rail rigidly mounted to hollow core concrete and you have quite a din. And I wonder how slabtrack sounds, especially when whatever resiliency features, rubber pads, etc., wear out.

    Nathanael Reply:

    Viaducts with rail are far quieter than viaducts with many loud, loud cars and trucks running on them.

    If you’ve ever been somewhere which has both, you’ll be able to tell the difference. Trains are fairly quiet compared to cars. You might not think so, but empirically it is the case. I don’t know why rubber tires on concrete makes so much noise, but it’s freaking loud compared to steel on steel. (Except in curves. Trains make most of their noise on curves.)

    ComradeFrana Reply:

    I live 100m from a 4-lane expressway and an electrified double-track railway, so I thought I’d add my two (euro)cents: In my opinion the trains are actually louder than cars, but the sound is deeper and short-lived as opposed to constant squealing of tires on asphalt . So yeah, in my opinion the train noise is more bearable, but then again I’m probably biased.

    flowmotion Reply:

    > Therefore the Embardacero Freeway increased property values.

    Which it did. It took Chinatown and Broadway 10 years to recover after they lost their highway exits.

    Negative impact was mostly along the waterfront of course. Some people noticed that the ramps were hogging a lot of potential skyscraper lots South of Market as well.

    BruceMcF Reply:

    Yes, but “walk to train” means walk to train station, not walk to train tracks. “Drive to train, trains running behind the fence”, is less of an increase in property value.

    Obviously, under the conditions coming in the current decade (which we have already started to experience), it will a smaller share of the advantage of an even greater gross property value gain from access to the train station, so if you (1) ignore the general property value gain in the area that is convenient to the train station and (2) assume that the infrastructure is the worst it could possibly be, in order to (3) determine the change in value relative to properties in the area further away from the rail corridor, sure, you can find a “drop in value” to confirm your pre-existing fears.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    The context of the Peninsula is currently “walk to train tracks where there are noisy diesel trains gently wafting fumes and particulates over the neighborhood” changing that to “walk to train tracks? there’s train track around here?” with quiet electric trains improves property values.

    VBobier Reply:

    I think the Nimbys think(wrongly so), that a train is a train & that Diesel or Electric sound the same and so they oppose it, then there’s the idea(also wrong) that HSR has high maintenance costs as in oh HSR will shake the rails and roadbed to pieces(hogwash). If I’m wrong ok, but that’s My 2 cents.

    BruceMcF Reply:

    That sounds right to me ~ ask an experience real estate agent or property developer, “what will it do to property values of 12 or more of those (diesel train goes by) are running through here, most of them at 100 miles an hour or more, on top of a 30 foot structure with a wall backing against the property” …

    … frame it that way, a double digit percentage drop in property value is easy to receive as an “expoert opinion”.

    slackfarmer Reply:

    After they put in the Goldline from LA to Pasadena, many nearby property owners bitched about noise. I almost bought a condo next to the tracks and the trains were quieter than car traffic on the adjacent two lane street. (I didn’t end up buying the condo because it cost too much — so much for diminution of property values.) Nonetheless the City of South Pasadena spearheaded an effort to have sound walls built in their city to shield people from train noise. Result: people bitched that the walls blocked their views.

    VBobier Reply:

    Some people will complain no matter what.

  6. joe
    Apr 25th, 2012 at 08:55

    NIMBYs characterize their community as semi-rual. See their description of their City.

    Living near calltrain and El Camino Real in the Silicin Valley is not Semi-rual.

    Their property is valued because it is urban with large lots,zoned heavily zoned and near Corporate HQ and RD centers.

    It maybe that homes immediately next to HSR tracks will be impacted visually. So what!

    Any Realator could have told these NIMBYs the affordable homesnear the tracks were affordable because they are located near the tracks.

    How could such educated economistists think the risk they accepted living near tracks

  7. John Nachtigall
    Apr 25th, 2012 at 09:28

    I guess I don’t see how drunk engineers analysis disproves the report

    First, the average of the 7 fares shown is 98 euro which is $130. The projected ticket price is $81. So they charge 60% more for tickets than the CAHSR anticiplated costs. This is not “about the same” as indicated.

    Second, I don’t see how this “proves” that the costs are not underestimated. If most systems cost 30-40 cents per mile to run and the current assumption is 10 cents saying other lines run ok does not disprove that it is underestimated.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    The reason it disproves the report is that the HSR line in question is in fact massively profitable, paying not just for operating costs but also construction costs and cross-subsidizing other lines. Subtract a 25% profit and you get down to $104, not much more than $81. Then subtract the fixed costs that the business plan excludes from operating costs and that Prop 1A does not consider in its ban on subsidies.

    John Nachtigall Reply:

    None of that is presented….But assuming it is all true, that they are making a profit and paying off the capital costs…they why are private buisnesses not building the line.

    I thought the whole idea was that government had to build the infastructure because they could only break even if you excluded the capital costs.

    PS. $104 is 20% more than $81 and 20% more is still substantial. You need to get to the 5% range before you can start saying cost is not different. Don’t belive me? raise gas prices 20% and meausre the bithcing and moaning in the news….20% is still substantial.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    Nobody is saying HSR will pay off construction costs from fares. Both the language of Prop 1A and the arguments of pro-HSR activists make it clear that HSR will pay for operating costs from fares, but not depreciation or interest on initial construction.

    The 20% difference between $104 and $81 is exactly this difference between total costs and operating costs, minus some extra margin. For example, go to Paulus’s posts on the subject; here is the breakdown of Madrid-Barcelona costs. 35% of the costs are infrastructure; there’s no further breakdown of maintenance vs. depreciation and interest, but there are sources elsewhere that make it clear that infrastructure maintenance costs are minimal.

    Tom McNamara Reply:

    It’s true that DE didn’t walk through it as throughly as you might have hoped.. but Alon is correct.

    If SCNF needs 30 cents a mile to run and a profit margin as large as CAHSR and has a line that is as long with almost the same sort of demand profile… it’s able to do that at less than others would make you think.

    John Nachtigall Reply:

    that still does not explain why it is 1/3rd less expensive to run the california system. I get the argument which skips to the end esentially and says no matter what the cost, it will be profitable.

    But that is a hand wave. The question is why is it 1/3 the cost to run a CA system than the Europe systems?

    Drunk Engineer Reply:

    Let’s take your $130 average cost on a 425-mile trip. To a rough approx., that is 30 cents per mile of revenue. According to CC-HSR, the TGV Duplex has 28 cents per mile for operating cost. This is all back-of-the-envelope calculations of course, but the CC-HSR is suggesting that SNCF earns just 7% on Europe’s busiest HSL with Summer fares? And even worse, SNCF loses money on the 6.18 departure, with 88-Euro ticket prices? The CC-HSR numbers don’t make sense.

    For even more fun, try pricing out a trip on the ICE with the Bahn-card discount. Major, major “loses”

    Adamski Reply:

    SNCF Ticket prices include a 7% VAT government sales tax.

    Elizabeth Reply:

    When you average prices, you need to include 1st class ticket sales. Does anyone know what % of riders or cars (roughly) on TGV are 1st / Business class?

    Paulus Magnus Reply:

    Depends on the model, but here’s a source 20-30% with the Duplex hitting 36%. For comparison, between SFO and LAX, United runs 6-13% first class but about 40% if you include economy plus.

    This is, of course, seat-based solely rather than riders necessarily.

    ericmarseille Reply:

    Yeah I was thinking 25%, and generally the load factor is the same, because the price drops when the filling ratio drifts between the two classes.
    Once when I was booking on internet for a trip to Paris, 1st class was one euro cheaper!

  8. jimsf
    Apr 25th, 2012 at 17:43

    Interesting TSA interview TSA Broken

  9. jimsf
    Apr 25th, 2012 at 17:52


    Garamendi urge Bay Area Rapid Transit to buy American

    Joey Reply:

    Bombardier has already been selected as the preferred bidder. Their offer was only 66% domestic content, compared to 70% Hyundai Rotem and 95% Alstom.

  10. jimsf
    Apr 25th, 2012 at 18:27

    o/t Of interest, though there are many bart haters on this blog — at leat bart is being careful to do it right and listen carefully to give bay areans exactly what they want in new rail car design…heres the latest update

    Drunk Engineer Reply:

    Twice as expensive compared to normal prices of suburban rolling stock. And quite primitive too — everyone else in the world is upgrading to articulated trains.

    As for the “listening tour”, that was just a PR campaign. The specs for the trains were already in place before the public was asked what they wanted.

    swing hanger Reply:

    DE, I wouldn’t characterize non-articulated transit cars as “primitive”, and “everyone else” is somewhat of an exaggeration, wouldn’t you say? Agree re. the PR spin on the specs/features, they are already standard on modern rolling stock on other systems. The biggest (low-tech) improvements would be to get rid of the carpets (apparently already done) and have clean seats.

    jimsf Reply:

    no matter what bart does, there is a surprising contingent of bart haters out there and they always find fault. Meanwhile, the regular bay area folks, love bart, and think of it as “their’ transit system. And are looking forward to the new trains. And thats what matters.

    Richard Mlynarik Reply:

    For over five million of your earth dollars a piece (about double what anybody else would consider rational), they’d better not only be non-primitive, but they should give every rider a blow job.

    jimsf Reply:

    the “listening tour’ was not a PR campaign.
    This report provides an update on the design of BART’s Fleet of the Future, reflecting feedback from nearly 10,000 customers so far. Over the next two decades, BART plans to replace and expand its oldest-in-the-nation fleet of 669 cars. A typical BART car is 40 years old and many components are becoming obsolete. Each aging car runs more than 100,000 miles per year, and growing ridership increasingly strains the fleet. BART cars need to be replaced to avoid future breakdowns and delays, so that BART can continue to get customers where they need to go on time.
    BART’s new trains will be sleek, attractive, and efficient to operate. Planned features include:
    • Energy efficiency through state-of-the-art propulsion and regenerative braking
    • Energy efficient LED lighting
    • Exterior digital displays showing route color and the train’s destination
    • Interior digital displays showing the next stop and other passenger information
    • Areas to display community art on the sides of the train
    • 50% more doors on the train to make getting on and off faster and easier
    • More priority seating for seniors and people with disabilities
    • An improved public address (PA) system, including automated announcements
    • Improved on-board security cameras
    • An induction loop system that transmits BART information to hearing aids and cochlear implants
    • A capability to split trains at transfer stations, and send each part to a different destination. This could provide more customers with no-transfer, direct service to their destination on evenings and Sundays when some BART routes do not operate.
    After getting initial public input at “seat labs” in May and June 2011, BART worked with BMW Group Designworks USA to develop conceptual designs for the new train cars. The public was then invited to provide feedback on these conceptual designs in August 2011 in the following locations:
    • On BART’s website (
    • At nine community “open house” meetings in the BART service area
    • At 14 BART stations
    • At other events and locations, such as neighborhood festivals and BART employee work locations
    We conducted surveys at each of these locations, and also received thousands of emails. In this report you will see how the feedback guided our design choices. Unless otherwise noted, the survey results we cite in this report are from a web survey of randomly selected BART customers. For complete results from all the surveys, see Appendix B.

    I wonder if chsra has listened to 10,000 people.

    Paulus Magnus Reply:

    And what feedback was incorporated into specification?

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    faux oak instead of faux walnut for the wood accents and sunrise taupe instead of Navaho white for the ceilings

    jimsf Reply:

    seat styles, pole styles, public art displays, color schemes, floor and seat materials, layout of seats, bike accoms, to name a few. how many transit agencies actually ask their riders what type of poles they like and whether they prefer sky/bay or bay area earth tones for instance.

    bart does listen. they have been doing impeccably timed transfers for years too.

    The only bone of contention that is ongoing, is the fact that bart doesn’t run till the bars close. That has always been an unpopular stance with bay areans.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    how many transit agencies actually ask their riders what type of poles they like and whether they prefer sky/bay or bay area earth tones for instance.

    All of them. The same usual suspects who conducted the sessions in the Bay Area have consultants all over the country, fully qualified and ready to bill, to ask people which shade of beige they prefer.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    ..and they listen

    jimsf Reply:

    are you sure this isn’t just some vast east coast conspiracy to undermine california exceptionalism?

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    People on the East Coast are too busy drinking in the bar cars to worry about delusional Californians

    jimsf Reply:

    oh we always wanted bar cars on bart too. thats the other thing besides staying open till the bars close, that bart never did when the people asked.

    Delusian is in the eye of the beholder.

    Joey Reply:

    Having concessions on a metro/regional system for which most trips are below 30 minutes is not only noneconomical but also undesirable. I will ignore the rather important fact that food and drink are already (justifiably) banned on BART, and just say that the trains’ high acceleration and high rush hour passenger loads would create a mess when combined with beverages of any sort. Better to have concessions in and around the stations anyway, it’s barely any less convenient and you don’t have to pay for the O&M of dragging all that stuff around on rails.

    Richard Mlynarik Reply:

    just say that the trains’ high acceleration and high rush hour passenger loads would create a mess when combined with beverages of any sort.

    BART acceleration is so Xtreme that Red Bull is the only approved for consumption on and Official Endorsed Beverage of BART. Sick, dude!

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    Many many commuters, by the time they get to Grand Central or Penn Station are already 20 minutes into their commute. Takes ’em an hour, hour and half to get home. They don’t spill their drinks, not at 7 bucks for a beer they don’t. And at 7 bucks for a beer, the railroad makes money on the service.

    jimsf Reply:

    all the feedback is detailed here

    jimsf Reply:

    and for more fun and groovy pics

    Reality Check Reply:

    @jimsf, your “groovy pics” link doesn’t work.

    @Richard, good idea! “Glory hole”-equipped seat-backs, or what?

    jimsf Reply:


    per richards comment – the trains are gross enough as it is, we’re trying to make things cleaner not stickier. There’s plenty of opportunity for fun at your destination thank you.

    D. P. Lubic Reply:

    Groovy pics? Tree-like standee poles? Community art on the sides of cars? Sounds and looks like Hippie City to me!

    Ho, ho, ho, ho!

  11. egk
    Apr 26th, 2012 at 14:50

    Anybody can check that German rail, for example, spends about 3,500 euros a year to run its intercity trains. They make a small profit transporting almost 35,000 passengers-km. They run trains at just about 50 percent occupancy. Do the math and you will see that that comes out to just about 10 cents a seat mile.

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