Anti-HSR Ballot Initiative Backers Call It Quits

Jul 26th, 2012 | Posted by

In news that should not come as any surprise, the backers of an initiative to stop the California high speed rail project announced today they are quitting the effort:

Sen. Doug LaMalfa, R-Richvale, and former Republican Rep. George Radanovich announced this week that they are suspending their campaign to qualify a measure on the matter for the 2014 ballot.

Initiative backers have decided to focus for now on derailing the project through litigation but have not ruled out the possibility of pursuing another initiative, according to a statement released by the campaign Wednesday.

“We’re still committed to it in the future, but I think it’s just easier to let the legal matters roll by first and get those resolved, and we can reassess the depth of support and the necessity for the repeal,” LaMalfa said Thursday in an interview.

Uh-huh. That’s a nice cover story. But later in the article we see the real reason they’ve abandoned the effort – they couldn’t raise any money:

The campaign has raised at least $135,000, according to campaign finance reports filed on the Secretary of State website. The cost of hiring paid petition circulators to collect signatures typically exceeds $1 million.

“It takes a lot more than that to be successful statewide, LaMalfa said of the money raised so far, “So I want to conserve the resources we have and conserve and respect the volunteers we have out there.”

Well, at least he’s honest. With only $135,000 in the bank there’s not nearly enough money to get anywhere close to qualifying for the ballot. The effort, already pointless since it wouldn’t go before voters until November 2014 when construction would be well under way, had not gathered the support of any of the major right-wing funders. Oil companies weren’t coming anywhere near this thing, nor the deep-pocketed rich conservatives who sometimes fund these sorts of initiatives. Nobody showed up to help.

This hasn’t been a good summer for HSR opponents. They lost the big vote in the State Senate earlier this month. Now their ballot initiative drive has petered out. Their only recourse is the courts, which have not been friendly to them these last four years. It’s not how they hoped 2012 would go, and though there’s still a lot of work left to be done by HSR advocates, the HSR project appears to be getting stronger every day.

  1. synonymouse
    Jul 26th, 2012 at 23:51
    #1

    Jerry’s tax increase will be the stand-in for the hsr re-vote.

    They have made qualifying an initiative very difficult. Even the stoners don’t have one on the ballot and there a lot of them.

    Time to adjust to an implacably corrupt system the way the Greeks and Italians have learned to over the years.

    Travis D Reply:

    I think debate over those huge water tunnels will now take center stage sorry to say. I know you are hoping to have some sort of Kangaroo Court to go after PB who are only evil and corrupt in your fevered imagination (well and Richard’s too).

    Tom McNamara Reply:

    Yes…and no.

    LaMalfa and Radanovich probably realized that any ballot measure for the peripheral canal is more valuable to them than opposing high speed rail. Thus, they would rather spend dollars for it, than a repeal of Prop 1A.

    Although this might seem to be far-fetched, my understanding is that the Feds have been very supportive of the plan this time around, and for the farm county legislators that’s probably enough to swing them.

    VBobier Reply:

    In favor of the water tunnels I’d hope, as it’s for their own good, not to mention some fish species.

    synonymouse Reply:

    Their graft and fixes makes Rizzo and Blago look like purse snatchers.

    The only Kangaroo Courts around here are the ones that have been packed by Nancy and Jerry.

    California is dominated by its own “PRI” now. Just taking care of friends.

    But PB worshippers know there is nothing that reinforced concrete, lots of it, cannot make better.

    Travis D Reply:

    Give some examples outside of your continued insistence that viaducts on BART killed neighborhoods.

    synonymouse Reply:

    Daly City BART is a grotesque blight. Ugly and noisy as sin.

    Peter Reply:

    Whether it’s ugly or not was not the challenge. You finding a neighborhood killed by BART viaducts was the challenge. Daly City BART is not such an example. Try again.

    synonymouse Reply:

    Killed is quite a challenge. Even in hell-holes like Syria, Iraq, or Afghanistan it is hard to kill a neighborhood, even for the Taliban, Al Qaeda, etc, etc.

    Shutting down the escalators because the locals are shitting on them does present a pretty accurate image of BART, tho.

    Richard Mlynarik Reply:

    That’s easy: Mid-Market (5th-Van Ness) San Francisco. Pretty much killed off 1965-2010.
    Oakland Broadway downtown didn’t go a lot better — being raped by the freeways didn’t help either.

    Richard Mlynarik Reply:

    Yes, I know. Not viaducts. But if you think they would have been better …

    Alon Levy Reply:

    Syn, there are tons of neighborhoods that were actually killed by freeways, or shrunken due to bisection. Tremont, sections of East Harlem, Bay Ridge, parts of Washington Heights, Red Hook…

    Miles Bader Reply:

    Hmm, surely viaducts often are better though …
    kinda depends on the particulars.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    …and that’s just in New York City.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    The Flushing Line viaduct over Queens Boulevard is nice, but that comes from the boulevard’s excessive width.

    synonymouse Reply:

    I couldn’t agree more with Alon’s point about neighborhoods being trashed by freeways. You can find an example of genuine damage in most every city.

    That’s why I oppose an iteration of hsr that is unnecessarily a freeway on rails. Why create another linear blight zone, another no man’s land like every damn freeway? So if at all possible locate the 220mph hsr lines in existing no man’s lands, ergo freeways. This is a primary reason I strongly favor I-5 – hsr will gentrify it.

    Most rr corridors are not as blighted as freeway ROW’s. Why make them worse?

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    no no no. the HSR overpasses along I-5 would create insta-slums. Just like the railroad did in Cos Cob. But then maybe the problem in Cos Cob was the enormous coal powered electricity plant.

    Miles Bader Reply:

    @syn
    Freeways are typically much wider, have far more “auxiliary/connecting” infrastructure that takes up space, and are far, far, noisier. Freeways encourage car-oriented development near exits, which of course results in even huger amounts of space being consumed by low-density use but unattractive uses. Rail, by contrast, encourages dense pedestrian development near stations.

    Of course you can avoid some of the issues by buildin a one-lane-each-way freeway on a tall viaduct with noise walls, but in the U.S. they rarely seem to do that.

    Two track HSR lines, by contrast, are the norm, and together with the other advantages of railways, mean there’s little comparison between an HSR line and a freeway.

    Tom McNamara Reply:

    It’s also important to note that in California, freeways were especially designed to racially segregate and isolate neighborhoods. BART, even though it used freeway right of ways, actually hasn’t too many neighborhoods where this is the case. Take a look at Lafayette for example, Rockridge, or sunny Fremont. The Brutalist architecture might be butt-ugly, but the beat goes on….

    VBobier Reply:

    Sounds like You think Nancy and Jerry should be in Prison on a corruption conviction… That will not happen, Yer delusional Syno…

    synonymouse Reply:

    Nancy and Jerry will have monumental gilded equestrian statues erected in their honor.

    Put Nancy on Mt. Rushmore.

    VBobier Reply:

    Yer disgusting Syno…

    John Nachtigall Reply:

    I think you are right…all the big money is going after Prop 30 and its unloved siblings

    VBobier Reply:

    I hope Prop 30 passes and Yes I’ll vote… Ya can find out after November 6th 2012, If I remember to that is.

    John Nachtigall Reply:

    I don’t understand you. You ranted and raved about how you only subsist on SSI. Prop 30 will raise your sales taxes, so you will be paying more tax. But you are going to vote yes….I don’t get it.

    Especially after they just proved the state lost track of more than 2 billion in special funds…amazing

    VBobier Reply:

    I may get subsist on SSI, but I don’t pay that much in sales tax, In August I twill be all of about $1.00, so I’m not worried as I usually pay even less…

    synonymouse Reply:

    But get ready to pay $5.00 for a coke or a beer at Kwik-EEE Mart. Somebody’s gonna have to pay the nanny tax to subvent those empty Bombardier trains rattling thru Mojave.

    VBobier Reply:

    Sorry to burst Yer bubble, knucklehead, but I don’t drink sodas or consume alcohol, nor do I smoke or take drugs, I never have. Most of what I buy does not have any tax on it, only things from the market like TP, paper towels, kitchen supplies and It still won’t be all that much. But at least I’m no coward, My real name is displayed, Yours isn’t.

    VBobier Reply:

    But then Yer cowardice shows when You stoop to race baiting filth, Synonymouse…

    synonymouse Reply:

    Really having a hard time getting the gist of that last one.

    As for me I consume lotsa beers and just had a very tasty shot of Four Roses. You are missing out on life.

    synonymouse Reply:

    In fact I think I’ll pour another shot.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    ..that explains a lot.

    VBobier Reply:

    Yeah, Syno’s drunk and maybe a whining wino to boot.

    synonymouse Reply:

    Every now and then I get a bottle of Foxbrook Shiraz for $1.98 that’s pretty good. Always get the newest year possible. The cheap stuff doesn’t age well.

    VBobier Reply:

    Like I care, ruin yer liver if Ya want, it’s not My problem if Ya die, I just don’t buy alcoholic bevages as I don’t need them and I like being sober thank you…

  2. VBobier
    Jul 26th, 2012 at 23:55
    #2

    Once the Courts are done with the anti-HSR clowns, a bunch of Jokers, then it should be clear sailing, of course they’ll still whine, at least until they die out…

    Travis D Reply:

    What I would like to see them do is reapply their energy to advocating for design changes.

    You know, instead of throwing the whole thing out, they push for changes.

    joe Reply:

    Such as HSR-Compatible Caltrain ?

    Try a search at CARRD. I got nothing.

    Adina Reply:

    They’ve been talking about Caltrain/HSR compatibility issues for at least 2 years that I know of. Their website isn’t that great and I wish they published and blogged more. The lack of info on their website is evidence that their website is sparse, not that they don’t care.

  3. Travis D
    Jul 27th, 2012 at 06:21
    #3

    Hypothetical…if they get the IOS Merced to LA operating what might be the chances of a private consortium building a Merced to Livermore segment?

    While we’re at it when will we know who gets the Design/Build contract for the 1A-1C segment? They should have their proposals in next month right? Will we get to see what they submit?

    Tony d. Reply:

    From TD to TD,
    You spelled “San Jose” wrong; its not L I V E R M O R E. (disclaimer: there is no Mered-Livermore segment proposed)

    egk Reply:

    It would be very interesting (and even responsible) for the CASHRA to request build-finanance-operate proposals for Merced-Bay Area connection (allowing the proposals full flexibility with regards to the alignment), taking this out of the political domain…

    joe Reply:

    Makes perfect sense to split the HSR system into segments designed and operated by different companies. I also propose giving them eminent domain. Take that out of the political domain and into the courts.

    Representatives for pipeline companies complained that the Texas Supreme Court decision to give landowners the power to challenge a company’s right to condemn property to make way for a pipeline has injected uncertainty into the industry. Before the court ruling, the company only had to check a box on a permit application to the Texas Railroad Commission to prove it should have the authority to force people to sell their land.

    egk Reply:

    Yes, ideally one would have taken proposals for the entire system, but…

    The Dutch got their 62 mile HSL-Zuid project built with significant private financing, using this kind of a Public-Private-Partnership. The Thalys trip from Amsterdam to Paris runs over HSL-Zuid as well as truck operated two other companies. It ain’t a problem.

    joe Reply:

    Ideally we’d duplicate the Keystone pipeline – foreign corporation using eminent domain to take land as profit dictates and they as please.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    If Keystone were done by the government as a public works project, with eminent domain done with state government consent, would you support it?

    joe Reply:

    I do not know. It’s currently supposed to bring oil to the global market so that purpose negates the public good and it’s not allowed. The project is not for public benefit.

    If you are telling me Keystone you propose will to bring oil to the US and not on the open market – a condition for taking land – and they are following the law as intended – I’d have to think about it.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    Building two pipelines wouldn’t be particularly useful.

    thatbruce Reply:

    @Tony d.:

    Private consortiums can propose anything they want, Merced to Livermore, Victorville to Las Vegas, pointy-nose trains running in the middle of I-5, another transbay tunnel etc. Doesn’t mean that its sensible, fundable or constructable.

    Richard Mlynarik Reply:

    We live in a perfect meritocracy, after all. May the best man win! Hooray! It’s just like the Olympic 100m sprint!

    We can see how well it works from the CHSRA’s award of its lead engineering contract to the best and most experienced HSR planning and design company with the finest track record in the entire universe.

    By golly, it’s great to live in a world where all it takes is a good idea and some good old gumption to succeed.

    Travis D Reply:

    Do you have a favorite out of the consortiums that have applied for the first contract?

    Richard Mlynarik Reply:

    I love rigged contracts.

    Fix the terms and you fix the winner.

    USA USA USA all the way! Hooray for capitalism and free markets!

    Travis D Reply:

    So the answer is…..no?

    Out of curiosity if you could pick the company who would it be?

    Neil Shea Reply:

    Someone very early in Richard’s life disappointed him very badly, and since then everything in the world disappoints him, nothing measures up. Engagement in life in a positive way is so threatening that he can no longer do it, he must live hidden behind thick high castle walls of emotional security — where he can pore over technical specifications in safety — and feel justified by a perfectionism that if only others wouldn’t keep fucking up he would be safe again. If only projects cost less, if only different tradeoffs were made, we could find that forever lacking emotional security. But it’s a mirage, it will never be possible to open the castle gates. It’s an allegorical archetype, also expressed in Ruiz’s Four Agreements and Roger Water’s The Wall, but often in heroic terms such as V for Vendetta.

    So, unfortunately, it will not be possible for you to get a positive answer about which choice you would make among imperfect options, each with risk. It will not be possible to name another engineering firm or an approach upon which we could place a bet and take chances. Would that it were different, but the story has been the same for too long now.

    synonymouse Reply:

    You’re missing the point. It doesn’t matter who will get the construction contract – except to note the obvious that it won’t be a back-talker like SNCF and Tutor et al is always on the inside.

    What counts is what kind of operation it will be ultimately and undoubtedly. And that is a metastasized BART on the dole. It will be run by a board of highly politicized directors cum BART and be dominated by a an expensive, militant union like the TWU. Below market fares for the politically connected, aka Palmdale.

    It will be the noisiest hsr, because it is PB Brutalist spawn and aggravated by deferred maintenance, occasioned by chronic operating deficits.

    Meanwhile the SF Chron complains in today’s editorial: “Why is the governor going out of his way to pick a fight?”

    Easy. The Moonbeam franchise has been bought out by the Chandlers. Everything Jerry does is to the objective of a bigger LA.

    joe Reply:

    GAO, GAO, GAO. Send copies of your conspiracy files (burger king wrappers with scribbled).
    Here: http://www.gao.gov/fraudnet/fraudnet.htm/

    (Oh Why oh why can’t we have a better trolls?)

    VBobier Reply:

    Cause We’ve got the 2nd rate trolls, the 1st rate ones are elsewhere…

    Travis D Reply:

    I’m aware that CAHSR has not proposed a Merced to Livermore segment but a privately financed line might be.

    BruceMcF Reply:

    Not very good ~ from Merced to the Altamont Corridor overlay Wye, wherever it might end up being, is not bad, but from the Altamont Corridor overlay Wye to Livermore would involve a tunnel, so a capital subsidy is required.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    Private consortia can still bid for lowest subsidy.

    BruceMcF Reply:

    So, Tony D., you were talking about a private consortium bidding to do it for the lowest subsidy?

    BruceMcF Reply:

    Sorry, that’s Travis D. {blame it on thabruce, not this one}

    {Sheesh, Cruickshank, how about an edit link that lives for five freaking minutes? Would that be too much?}

    Travis D Reply:

    Something like that. And maybe they can come up with the $5-7 billion it might take to build it and in exchange they can operate over the entire system.

  4. joe
    Jul 27th, 2012 at 07:17
    #4

    http://www.nytimes.com/2012/07/27/opinion/money-for-nothing.html?_r=1
    Obligatory caveat: yes, we have a long-run budget problem, and we should be taking steps to address that problem, mainly by reining in health care costs. But it’s simply crazy to be laying off schoolteachers and canceling infrastructure projects at a time when investors are offering zero- or negative-interest financing.

    You don’t even have to make a Keynesian argument about jobs to see that. All you have to do is note that when money is cheap, that’s a good time to invest. And both education and infrastructure are investments in America’s future; we’ll eventually pay a large and completely gratuitous price for the way they’re being savaged.

    John Nachtigall Reply:

    Obama has run the highest deceits ever and we have had the worst recovery ever. Simply Krugman is wrong

    John Nachtigall Reply:

    That should have read deficits

    Trentbridge Reply:

    I believe Obama has suggested – endless times – that tax rates for the wealthiest Americans be raised – to reduce the deficit. I believe, also, that the Republican house would prefer to make all the debt reduction by cutting Government spending that affects the weakest members of our society. The argument has nothing to do with economics and everything to do with partisan politics. The House would rather stick to partisan lines than risk the wrath of the Tea Party because they care more about being re-elected than the economy of the US.

    VBobier Reply:

    Very much agreed…

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    The argument has nothing to do with economics and everything to do with partisan politics.

    It has to do with Prosperity Gospel dogma…. God love rich people, otherwise he wouldn’t have made them rich….

    John Nachtigall Reply:

    Missing the point. If deficit spending helped the economy the recovery would be much better. It doesn’t help

    Paul Dyson Reply:

    Or it could have been far worse without it, considered that?

    Neil Shea Reply:

    John’s pretty sharp, so I think he knows the difference between an argument that he himself believes, and one he makes to be a good member of the tribe. This is clearly the latter.

    Travis D Reply:

    We didn’t spend nearly enough. Everyone with any real knowledge of the subject knows that. Obama was only allowed to spend enough to forestall complete disaster and maybe get a slow recovery going.

    Remember that Republicans are perfectly willing to flush American down the toilet so long as it hurts Obama.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    Obama is a side show, they are willing to flush the US down the toilet as long as it cuts taxes on rich people.

    VBobier Reply:

    And if Repugs could they’d slit the throats of Seniors and the Disabled, just for more immoral tax cuts…

    John Nachtigall Reply:

    As I recall in the first 2years of his administration he had a filibuster proof majority in both houses. He choose the size of the stimulus and stated it was more then enough to keep unemployment below 8%. They got kicked around in the midterms because they were wrong

    VBobier Reply:

    Two types of Democrats, those willing to vote with Republicans on Conservative causes and those that are Progressive, there weren’t always enough Democrats & independents to break a filibuster…

    Alon Levy Reply:

    Yeah, he chose a wrong stimulus size. Krugman said that, in real time. So did some of the administration’s own economists, such as Christy Romer and to some extent Larry Summers. The decision was based on bad politics (which is also something Krugman criticized in real time): they figured they could spend a middling amount and if they needed more then they could come back in a year and ask Congress for more; it’s Krugman who said that an insufficient stimulus would fail and make it politically impossible to do more, and so a larger stimulus was needed from the start.

    BruceMcF Reply:

    There is no filibuster in the House and the Senate is not a parliamentary majoritarian
    government. A filibuster-proof majority in the Senate is a 60% majority of senators on any given issue, its not determined by the number of D’s and R’s attached to the Senator’s names. Indeed, the fantasy that they had a filibuster-proof majority for the health care bill was responsible for losing several months on the issue as they pursued a 60-vote filibuster proof majority instead of putting the bill through under reconciliation.

    Matthew Reply:

    No, you’re missing the point. It doesn’t matter how we got here. It doesn’t matter who’s in the White House, or who’s in Congress.

    Real interest rates are negative. That’s a fact. That means people are willing to give money away to the government. We should take advantage of that good fortune and invest in infrastructure.

    Tony d. Reply:

    So you’re saying if I approach a huge pile of feces, shovel a couple of loads more on top of said pile that I would be responsible for the ENTIRE pile?! In closing, Krugman rocks and you’re dead wrong Teahadist!

    John Nachtigall Reply:

    What is a Teahadist?

    And apparently you a missing the point. If Krugman is right and deficit spending rocks the house then why is the recovery so bad since the deficit spending is so high. I am not blaming Obama for the debt just a policy that is not working to help the economy recover

    Reality Check Reply:

    You obviously haven’t been paying attention to what Krugman has been saying for a long time now, over and over again … the stimulus (and therefore deficit spending) should have been and continues to need to be much bigger and better.

    BruceMcF Reply:

    Just because you have a vague idea that “deficit spending is so high” doesn’t mean that the actual numbers back you up. Look at total federal, state and local spending in the GDP accounts … back when Federal spending increases where barely offsetting state and local spending declines, unemployment was dropping. Now that total federal, state and local government spending is declining, unemployment rates have stopped dropping.

    Federal deficits are a great distraction from the movements in total government spending, since so much of the deficits come from tax cuts for the wealthy, which have little or no stimulus effect but primarily go into accumulating financial wealth, and so much comes from overseas wars and our overseas base network, which also have limited stimulus impact but which provide profits to a wide range of contractors.

    John Nachtigall Reply:

    The 3 largest fed deficits ever have will be Obama’s 3 years in office, that is not a vague idea. He had free run the first 2 years and spent as much as he wanted and it did not work. That is just a fact.

    Government spending just does not cause recoveries, I am sorry the facts do not back your theory. Countries have to live within their means

    Neville Snark Reply:

    ‘The 3 largest fed deficits ever have will be Obama’s 3 years in office, that is not a vague idea.’

    — You’re mistaking the cause for the effect. Recession makes for declining revenue.

    He had free run the first 2 years and spent as much as he wanted and it did not work.

    — False, as pointed out by V Bobier.

    ‘Government spending just does not cause recoveries, I am sorry the facts do not back your theory.’

    — If you ask economists, except those few who work for the Reason Foundation etc., they will tell you that the facts do back the ‘theory’. I find it extraordinary that you read someone like Krugman and think you know better.

    ‘ Countries have to live within their means.’

    — Who is denying this platitude? Grow up.

    John Nachtigall Reply:

    Just because Obama can’t herd his own cats don’t imply he did not have a supermajority. He passed the exact size stimulus he asked for. He can’t bitch and moan now that he wants more until he admits it was too small which he refuses to do. You can’t have it both ways. He can’t have had the right size stimulus in the first place and need more now

    Plenty of economists believe that tax cuts not spending drive recoveries. It is called supply side economics. Yes Krugman won a Nobel prize in economics, but that was back when he was a deficit hawk not promoting more spending

    And anyone who is promoting more debt as a solution to debt is denying that countries must live within their means.

    Obama did not cause the recession, he inherited it. It was no surprise to him, however, and heran on a patform that his way was better. It is his job to solve it and he is doing a poor job at that this is the weakest post WWII recovery ever including the double dip in 1980

    BruceMcF Reply:

    Anybody pretending that government debt has something to do with a country living within its means is promoting a confusion of money that is created by government and resources that are not. A nation’s means is its labor, productive equipment, and natural resources.

    synonymouse Reply:

    Krugman and the other Keynesians have no effective mechanism in place to determine when to terminate stimulus spending. These are compulsive big spenders, even in the face of an inflating bubble. An inability to budget has sadly become part of the definition of a latter-day liberal.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    Yes that staunch conservative Bill Clinton was the one to give us a surplus that was expected to pay off the Federal debt in 2011 and that wild eyed Librrrruuuul GW Bush cuts taxes, increased spending and started two wars.

    synonymouse Reply:

    Clinton was a very popular president and the rich never did so well. Go figure.

    But he would be to the right of Moonbeam as governor of LaLa, new name for the Golden State.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    Krugman and the other Keynesians have no effective mechanism in place to determine when to terminate stimulus spending.

    Except they actually do: when unemployment drops to levels close to full employment, and inflation is starting to pick up to the point that the Fed needs to raise rates above the zero lower bound to keep core inflation on target, it is no longer necessary to engage in deficit spending.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    Except they actually do…

    Like Clinton did? All of that takes thought. It’s much easier to make the solution “cut taxes on rich people” for everything. Economy doing well? Cut taxes on rich people. Economy in the shitter? Cut taxes on rich people. Martian invasion incinerates Iowa? Cut taxes on rich people.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    We need to cut taxes on the people who will do reconstruction and also manufacture the weapons necessary to deal with alien invasions.

    But yeah, Clinton did cut the deficit, after Greenspan forced his hand. Of course when Bush was in charge Greenspan was happy to keep rates lower than he should have – if he’d done the responsible thing and started raising rates in ’03, Bush might have lost reelection.

    BruceMcF Reply:

    Syntho-mouse ~ the closer we are to full employment output, the less deficit spending is required. Indeed, if we had more robust automatic stabilizers, we could run a structurally balanced budget in all except severe recessions and the swings of the cyclical deficit would put the deficit at about the right level.

    Of course, as Paul Davidson explained back in the 1980’s, a stronger investment in infrastructure as a part of that provides long-term protection from demand-pull inflation without requiring the surge in unemployment required to suppress demand-pull inflation by playing interest rate.

    Neville Snark Reply:

    For JN, who said ‘Plenty of economists believe that tax cuts not spending drive recoveries. It is called supply side economics.’

    From the New Republic (!):

    Among those aghast at the position Republicans have taken are economists Betsey Stevenson and Justin Wolfers. As they explained in a column for Bloomberg View on Tuesday, the political debate over economic policy right now is between, on the one hand, those who believe that the Recovery Act reduced unemployment, that the bank bailouts stabilized the financial system, that tax cuts don’t pay for themselves — and, on the other hand, those who dispute those claims.

    These days, the former view is the one you typically hear from Democrats and their supporters, the latter from Republicans and their allies. But in surveys of credentialed economists, the Republican view gets virtually no support:

    The consensus isn’t the result of a faux poll of left-wing ideologues. Rather, the findings come from the Economic Experts Panel run by Booth’s Initiative on Global Markets. It’s a recurring survey of about 40 economists from around the U.S. It includes Democrats, Republicans and independent academics from the top economics departments in the country. The only things that unite them are their first-rate credentials and their interest in public policy…

    Angry Republicans have pushed their representatives to adopt positions that are at odds with the best of modern economic thinking… The disjunction between the state of economic knowledge and our current political debate has important consequences. Right now, millions of people are suffering due to high unemployment. Our textbooks are filled with possible solutions. Instead of debating them seriously, congressional Republicans are blocking even those policy proposals that strike most economists as uncontroversial.

    This inaction has no basis in economics. Instead, it’s raw politics — a cynical attempt to score points in a phony rhetorical war or a way of preventing their opponents from scoring a policy win.

    BruceMcF Reply:

    Total BS, the three largest deficits as a percentage of GDP were in 1943, 1944 and 1945. Anyone using nominal value of deficit as opposed to share of GDP has either been misled or is doing the misleading.

    John Nachtigall Reply:

    Fine. Post WWII the 3 biggest. I thought it went without saying but obviously I was wrong

    BruceMcF Reply:

    The 3 largest fed deficits ever

    If someone said, “2007-2009 was the biggest recession ever”, was called on it, and then said, “Fine. Post WWII the biggest. I though it went without saying but obviously I was wrong.” would that be persuasive? Of course not, which is why people say “the biggest recession since the Great Depression” or “the biggest recession in the post-WWII era” instead of “the biggest recession ever”.

    Can’t even claim, “the three biggest peacetime deficits”, since we have been at war continuously since the invasion of Afghanistan.

    John Nachtigall Reply:

    Since you are being so technical I was technically correct. The 3 biggest ever in total dollars were the last 3. I was trying to be reasonable and acknowledge that you were right about as a percentage of GDP. You can’t compare the country in a total world war vs what we have right now which is not even a war (it is an occupation).

    You understood the basic point, the deficits are high and the economy is not improving. But if you want to play word games I suppose we could go that way, but it is boring

    BruceMcF Reply:

    As I said:

    Anyone using nominal value of deficit as opposed to share of GDP has either been misled or is doing the misleading.

    The reason we know that since 1960 Republican Administrations have been more likely than Democratic administrations to expand the national debt is by looking at debt as a percentage of GDP. Doing the same comparison in nominal terms would reveal the person doing the comparison as either ignorant or a dishonest charlatan.

    Total government spending on goods and services have been declining in real terms over the past two years ($2005, [Fed:State&Locak]):

    GDP-Government, 2007: $2,434.2b [$906.1b:$1,528.1b]
    GDP-Government, 2008: $2,497.1b [$971.1b:$1,528.1b]
    GDP-Government, 2009: $2,589.4b [$1,030.6:$1,561.8b]
    GDP-Government, 2010: $2,605.4b [$1,076.8b:$1,534.1b]
    GDP-Government, 2011: $2,523.9b [$1,047.0b:$1,482.0b]
    GDP-Government, 2012Q1: $2,483.7b [$1,023.1b:$1,465.3b]
    GDP-Government, 2012Q2: $2,474.8b [$1,022.2b:$1,457.4b]

    That decline in total government spending in real terms is what the shrieking about the deficit is trying to distract people from. (1) Put policies in place to cut direct purchases of goods and services by government (2) spread the lie around about “runaway” government spending”, laying the foundation for (3) pretending that if General Theory reasoning was correct, there “ought to be” a strong economic recovery, when the reality is that Republican austerity policies at the federal and state level over the past two years is predicted by the General Theory model to result in more sluggish economic growth.

    VBobier Reply:

    Yeah, Hoarding wealth…

    Alan Reply:

    Blaming Obama for the deficits is like an arsonist setting his house on fire, and then blaming the fire department for water damage.

    VBobier Reply:

    It’s also being a racist liar, as the recession started in 2007, Obama was a Junior Senator then, Not President of the US, so it’s the fault of George W. Bush’s policies, as the previous administration policies last 1.5 years after the previous administration has left office and that has been that way since President George Washington & is to give a New Administration time to formulate their own policies…

    Romney already insulted the UK by saying that London was not ready with His last Gaffe, good way to lose friends and make enemies.

    BruceMcF Reply:

    The Invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq, the Bush tax cuts, the unfunded Medicare Part D and the cyclical effects of the 2007-2009 recession were responsible for the majority of the deficit.

    So that would be a majority of responsibility with the Bush administration, with the Clinton and Bush administrations sharing equal “honors” for the depth of the recession in 2007-2009, since both vigorously pursued policies promoting the bubble economy.

    John Nachtigall Reply:

    So when does the responsibility to fix it come in. Or does he just get to flounder about forever

    BruceMcF Reply:

    Indeed, in the terms of those of you pushing the phoney debt crisis to distract from the real needs of the economy for substantial deficit spending at this point, the fact that the deficit declined in each year since his first term would count as “fixing” that fake problem.

    In reality, the decline in the deficit is an indictment of Washington DC, of Republican obstructionism and Obama’s failure in defeating it, since when the domestic private sector insists on a sectoral surplus of saving over investment, in an economy with a trade deficit, then macroeconomic balance requires the government to run a deficit.

    We are out of one of those two wars, the health care reform will save money on health care services, and while the Stimulus II bill in early 2009 was far too weak, leaving the cyclical effects on the budget in place for far too long, he did propose a follow-up Stimulus III, the “Jobs Bill”, which would have repaired some of the damage except for Republican obstructionism.

    However, I agree with you that the so-called deal that saw the Bush tax cuts on incomes in excess of $250,000 extended was a failing of Obama economic policy. I hope that he won’t fail the second time around.

    I also agree with you that we needed a far more aggressive Wall Street reform bill, but since the one he sent to Congress was watered down in the face of united Republican opposition in alliance with substantial Hedge Fund Democrat opposition, its not as if a more aggressive Wall Street reform bill could have been passed into law.

    synonymouse Reply:

    You have to ask the question what level of stimulus spending would sate Krugman?

    Make those stilts 200 ft. high.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    He proposed $1.2 or $1.8 trillion, I forget which, back at the end of ’08 and very beginning of ’09.

    synonymouse Reply:

    And if that produced the same results….? Of course PB would be even richer.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    Actually, the countries that did more stimulus recovered faster, and the countries that did more austerity later contracted more.

    And although today infrastructure is the sexiest kind of spending, 3.5 years ago the left-wing thinktanks were pushing unemployment benefits and aid to states as the maximum bang for the buck, and treated infrastructure as a secondary form of spending. That’s why Obama only budgeted $8 billion for HSR – he cared more about other stuff.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    Give the pensioners and unemployed an extra 25 bucks a month and they go out and spend it. It’s not 1934 anymore, ya can’t just start digging holes because someone thinks that it would be a good idea to build [insert your favorite infrastructure project here]

    Tom McNamara Reply:

    Yes, it’s true…Krugman and company argued for the most bizarre form of economic stimulus imaginable and then didn’t call them tax cuts initially, leaving Obama holding the political bag. The stimulus didn’t need to be any bigger, just actually spent on things that would generate a return even if that was going directly to states….

    joe Reply:

    Tom – I can’t reconcile your comment about Krugman with his own column which contradicts what you wrote.

    http://krugman.blogs.nytimes.com/2009/01/06/stimulus-arithmetic-wonkish-but-important/

    Alon – I’d love you to use google and show me an example of this about face. Summers doesn’t count.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    What about face? The support for unemployment benefits and aid to states over infrastructure?

    BruceMcF Reply:

    The 1/3 of the stimulus in tax cuts didn’t help, since they have a weaker stimulus effect than food stamps, unemployment benefits, direct grants to states to avoid layoffs and infrastructure spending, but we had a $1T+ shortfall from full employment output, of course a stimulus that was $250b in its peak year was too little. Treasury, OMB and the CBO was too packed with Wall Street quant types with the same flawed models that didn’t see the financial crisis of 2008 coming, and they grossly underestimated the size of the deficit, with modeled small business start-ups included in employment figures helping to inform the original estimates of GDP, when those small business start-ups were simply not taking place.

    $1T in spending, $100b / $500b / $250b / $150b, would have been a bit conservative but reasonable.

    joe Reply:

    I don’t get it. Keep people employed by helping states and build infrastructure. They are not reversing that stance or priorities. He’s still pushing education and infrastructure and has not reveresed himself on the importance of food stamps or unemployment benefits.

    What might be confusing is when the aid to states is used to cut taxes and not stimulus for the economy. That apparent reversal is a rational reaction to bad state government practices.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    Krugman himself did not say too much about what spending is the best, but the various liberal organizations did. Back in ’09, you had urban organizations like DMI (there are others) quoting Mark Zandi as saying direct cash benefits to the unemployed and aid to states had the highest multiplier. A few people, like Lindsay Beyerstein, were warning of an infrastructure and construction lobby, specifically the feminist implications of spending too much money on men’s jobs (i.e. construction) and not enough on women (i.e. teachers and social workers). Nowadays you’re not going to hear infrastructure lobby complaints from that direction.

    Essentially, what happened in late ’09 and ’10 with HSR was a politicization of infrastructure, with the exception of roads and oil, so that now people on the left align for it and people on the right align against. In ’09 Gingrich was calling for maglev trains; he said nothing about it in the primary.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    Gringrich spews whatever is in his addled brain at the moment. I think his best was when asked how to stop spiraling healthcare costs he went on and on about how in the future we would sit in an intelligent lounge chair and it would diagnose all of our problems and design a care plan that involved macrobiotic tax cuts and supply side prescriptions.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    I’m well-aware that Gingrich can be idiosyncratic. It’s just that in 2009 this included a national maglev network, whereas by 2011 any and all transit was put in the “only for communists” basket.

    Peter Baldo Reply:

    Paul Krugman’s proposed stimulus was half the GDP shortfall. The half number was because a well-spent stimulus dollar increased GDP by almost $2-. That amounted to a stimulus of $600 Billion per year at the outset, and declining as the economy picked up.

  5. John Burrows
    Jul 27th, 2012 at 10:11
    #5

    One reason why California is on the verge of starting construction of the first high speed rail system in the USA—Three governors in a row who (more or less) supported the project. CAHSRA was created under Governor Wilson in 1996, Prop 1-A passed under Schwarzenegger in 2008, and funding was approved under Brown in 2012. Two of the three were Republicans. From a high speed rail standpoint we have been fortunate in our choice of governors over the past 16 years.

    So now opponents have only the legal option left and I would guess that the judges who
    will be making the decisions will be making them with this 16 year evolution of the project in the back of their minds.

  6. John Burrows
    Jul 27th, 2012 at 11:04
    #6

    Actually 4 governors in a row—2 Republican and 2 Democrat. I forgot Gray Davis who extended the tenure of the authority in 2000.

  7. Reality Check
    Jul 27th, 2012 at 12:36
    #7

    State’s High Speed Rail Authority publishes revised plans Critics contend the plan will harm agriculture

    According to Krause, there are two groups of people that are critiquing the report. The first are people that are genuinely concerned about their land and livelihood because the train is expected to be built on or near their farms and homes. CA4HSR is very understanding of their concerns and desires that their issues be taken seriously by the authority.

    Krause said the second group of people are those who are ideologically opposed to the entire project and who will be unhappy regardless of how many changes are made to the plans. This group is considerably more difficult to work with, he added.

    Hanford officials would claim to be in the first group.

    [...]

    In response to the revisions, Assemblywoman Connie Conway (R-Tulare) reiterated her displeasure with the authority.

    “This new, but definitely not improved, environmental impact report is just another example of state bureaucrats’ fast-tracking a train to nowhere,” Conway said in a statement. “I urge Valley residents to use this public comment period to voice their concerns to derail this costly, unwanted and unnecessary project. Sadly, the Valley’s strong opposition so far has fallen upon deaf ears by the majority party.”

    Assemblyman David Valadao (R-Hanford) would also favor greater deliberation concerning the route that serves Hanford.

    “The most recent Environmental Impact Report for the Fresno to Bakersfield segment of the High Speed Rail project does very little to address the concerns of many of my constituents,” Valadao said. “Instead of cutting through one side of Hanford, it considers cutting through a different side; hardly a change in direction. I would prefer a broader discussion about the timing, cost and feasibility of the project.”

    [...]

    “This draft still has some issues, but ultimately I have more unemployed in my district than I have people that are in opposition to the project,” [Senator Michael Rubio (D-Shafter)] said.

    The Kings County Farm Bureau, as well as the Tulare County Farm Bureau has taken issue with the plans, saying that the revisions made to the latest report do nothing to address any of the concerns Valley residents had about the first draft.

    “We don’t believe the westbound route is any better than the eastbound route,” Executive Director of Kings County Farm Bureau Michele Costa said, “It’s still flawed, it’s still not researched. They have not done their homework.”

    Tricia Stever Blattler, executive director of the Tulare County Farm Bureau offered similar sentiments.

    “We support and concur with the Kings’ Farm Bureau’s comments about the EIR…it is not the right proposal, not the right route and not right for California taxpayers at this time,” Blattler said.

    Travis D Reply:

    So they complained about a route through town. They then complained about a route to the east of town. Now they say going west around the town is also out.

    Do they want the train to just quantum tunnel through Kings County?

    I mean they say the new EIR does not address their issues. Well what in the hell were their issues with the first one if a new route doesn’t work for them?

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    The train could go through Tulare County…

    VBobier Reply:

    Their farm bureau also does not want HSR, like either will stop the project, I mean this isn’t 1860 where some took up arms against legitimate Government… Sometimes there is no pleasing anyone and these two agencies fit that to a T

    Peter Baldo Reply:

    If the route passes through Tulare County along 99, one must weigh the costs to farmers, with the benefits to Visalia, a relatively large, but relatively poor city. I think Visalia would benefit tremendously from a convenient station, and I am surprised Visalia has not fought harder for a hwy 99 alignment. As for Hanford, a smaller town, the costs of hsr to farmers may well outweigh benefits to Hanford.

    VBobier Reply:

    Agreed, Visalia needs a station, Hanford doesn’t.

    Travis D Reply:

    A RT99 alignment would be much more expensive wouldn’t it?

    BruceMcF Reply:

    They don’t want to support any alignment because then the alignment won’t be their “fault”. Its is ducking responsibility to avoid political pain, nothing more.

    VBobier Reply:

    Yeah sounds like it too, No guts, No glory…

    J. Wong Reply:

    Actually, it appears that their “issues” are ideological. They don’t think the train should be built at all, and are doing all they can to derail it, not because they have specific addressable problems with it.

    Yes, they do want it quantum tunneled!

    Reality Check Reply:

    Bingo! Clearly, like probably most of HSR critics on the Peninsula … they’re ideologically opposed to HSR. The only HSR EIR they’d like is one that concludes “no build” is the best option.

    VBobier Reply:

    Agreed…

    joe Reply:

    No true at all guys!!! Reasonable people would want to study the topic and keep an open mind and continue to study the topic and keep an open mind until our Sun starts fusing helium into carbon.

    VBobier Reply:

    Problem is We’re not dealing with rational minds in the anti-HSR types, their more like Delusional minds, ones that used to get locked away inside insane asylums…

    Jon Reply:

    “This draft still has some issues, but ultimately I have more unemployed in my district than I have people that are in opposition to the project,” Rubio said.

    Yes, indeed!

  8. Eric M
    Jul 27th, 2012 at 13:45
    #8

    Get a load of this guys opinion/article:

    Hidden costs behind high-speed rail

    Some of you might want to enlighten him about HSR. LOL

    Travis D Reply:

    Ugh Calaveras County is right next door to me. They are probably just as filled with weirdo redneck conservatives who think only dirty hippies take trains as my county is. I honestly ran into someone who complained that the HST would allow poor people to travel more and that would lead to an explosion in crime!

    VBobier Reply:

    Crime has been dropping in the Cities for years, but then some country hicks aren’t too friendly I’d bet.

    Miles Bader Reply:

    Plus the country hicks have more guns…

    VBobier Reply:

    And the Governor has the California National Guard who are better trained and equipped…

    Travis D Reply:

    Crime in many rural areas like mine have been going up with the new wave of Meth manufacturing that is just exploding right now as we continue to endure a 20% unemployment rate.

    VBobier Reply:

    I live in a rural area too, but We have the County Sheriff Deputies here in San Bernardino County, their pretty good, of course it would help if people emptied their cars of whatever stuff that can’t be hidden and that didn’t come with the car, people that don’t leave anything in their car crooks bypass as an empty car isn’t worth the hassle, My car is just an econo car with a factory intrusion alarm, so I’m not worried.

    D. P. Lubic Reply:

    I don’t know what to say about this fellow; I happen to know who his is, by reputation. He is the former curator of the Museum of American History in the Smithsonian, following the well-known John White, Jr. He is one of the engineers, and one of the patent holders, for the ACE-3000 new-design steam locomotive that was proposed in the 1980s.

    http://www.trainweb.org/tusp/ult.html

    http://www.freepatentsonline.com/4425763.pdf

    One of his contributions is what has been called the “Withuhn drive”–this is visible in Figure No. 35 in the patent. The primary feature of this is the pair of intermediate cranked axles and inside rods; these enable a four-cylindered compound locomotive to synchronize its high and low pressure cylinders while still having the cylinders outside the frame, for ease of maintenance.

    Other things by or about Withuhn:

    A bit about his retirement from the Smithsonian:

    http://www.rypn.org/forums/viewtopic.php?f=1&t=28697

    A collection of his columns, one of which is the one above:

    http://www.calaverasenterprise.com/opinion/columns/withuhn/

    Other items:

    http://teamstermagazine.com/smithsonian%2526%2523039%3Bs-rail-chief

    http://www.smithsonianmag.com/travel/mall_dec98.html

    I’ve seen some of his writing; I think it’s good. I would look forward to his book, “The American Steam Locomotive: An Engineering History, 1880-1960,” which would be the sequel to John White’s “The American Steam Locomotive: An Engineering History, 1830-1880.” He is currently a consultant on a proposal to build new steam locomotives with “bio-coal” for certain jobs where electrification isn’t justified:

    http://www.csrail.org/

    http://www.csrail.org/index.php/who-we-are/advisors/42-william-l-withuhn

    How to explain this? A generational bias, one who would wish trains would come back, but can’t imagine them doing so, having seen the big driving generation and even being a later part of it? A worry about the money–justifiable to an extent, but ignoring the cost of the status quo? A combination of those two items, or something else?

    D. P. Lubic Reply:

    Darn it, put in too many links again, and now the background information I had on Bill Withuhn is awaiting moderation!! Brief version, until the other material comes up for your perusal, is that he is a former head of the railroad division of the Smithsonian, that he was a modern steam locomotive designer for the proposed ACE-3000 steam locomotive that was meant to go up against diesels in the 1980s (this was just after the second oil embargo), and he is currently a consultant for the proposal to bring back steam again, using “bio-coal.” (Links for all these items and others are in the post waiting to be cleared by a moderator.)

    Repeat from the waiting post: “How to explain this [opposition]? A generational bias, one who would wish trains would come back, but can’t imagine them doing so, having seen the big driving generation and even being a later part of it? A worry about the money–justifiable to an extent, but ignoring the cost of the status quo? A combination of those two items, or something else?”

  9. D. P. Lubic
    Jul 27th, 2012 at 17:52
    #9

    A bit off-topic, but of interest in the generational theme–an article on people going without cars in Portland, Maine, originally linked through Walk Around Portland:

    http://walkaroundportland.blogspot.com/

    The article in question from the Portland [Me.] Press Herald:

    http://www.pressherald.com/news/portland-at-forefront-of-decline-in-car-ownership.html

    What’s most fascinating is the steep decline in autos registered in Portland, from 43,872 vehicles in 2004 to 38,179 in 2011–a 23% drop in only 8 years! The story and the comments suggest this is a combination of both the economic situation and the generational shift that’s been discussed here, with the former reinforcing the latter.

    Other commentary on this same piece:

    http://rightsofway.blogspot.com/2012/07/press-herald-portland-car-registrations.html

    http://www.city-data.com/forum/maine/1649075-portland-leading-decline-car-ownership.html

    This brings up a question, and one that John Natchigall would approve of. At some point, if this is the generational shift we think is taking place, and if things aren’t sandbagged with car subsidies as they have been for generations, there will be a time when it will be possible to run a rail passenger services at all levels–local streetcar, interurban, regional rail, and HSR–at a true profit. The question becomes, when will this be so? Will it be caused by several more spikes in gas prices and other things, making driving unaffordable for all but the most well-to-do? Will it require the passage of more time, and waiting for enough of the big-driving generation to pass away so they (a) no longer oppose rail because they’re retired or dead, or (b) by virtue of being retired or dead, are no longer supporting the road system because they’re not driving for one reason or another, and the road system really falls apart? Will it be a combination of these two factors? What will the actual numbers look like when this happens–say, the price of gasoline, or the percentage of the pro-driving crowd in the general population?

    John Nachtigall Reply:

    You are right I would be fine with a system that could support itself. And any of those things mentioned will drive public transportation.

    For the last time, however, the road system is no subsidized, it is just a tax on all that helps all because everyone uses the roads either directly or indirectly. It is simply a government service, like police or fire.

    I do think, however, you are just misreading this “generational shift”. There is some light evidence that younger people are driving less or at least delaying driving, that I will grant you. But that is not to say it is a permanent shift and if they all end up driving anyway then this shift comes to nothing. When they grow up, get families and job, and still don’t have cars I will be convinced, until then it is little more then a fad.

    For example, if I extrapolated the youth of the 60s we would all be living on communes tripping on acid and enjoying free love. 70s would be disco that lives forever. My generation (the 80s) swore off being greedy bankers like our parents…so we became more greedy then our parents ever imagined. It is the by nature of youth to rebel against the current generation, for this generation that is the green movement, we will see if it sticks

    joe Reply:

    Another fad – people cannot afford to start families.
    http://www.latimes.com/business/money/la-fi-mo-fertility-economy-20120726,0,6274353.story
    The tough economy and high unemployment have young people hesitant to reproduce, with the U.S. fertility rate expected to fall to a quarter-century low this year even though the number of women in prime childbearing age is swelling.

    Yet another fad – student debt holding back the economy.
    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/07/25/student-loans-economic-recovery-cfpb_n_1701641.html
    “Student loan borrowers are sending big payments every month to their loan servicers, rather than becoming first-time homebuyers,” Chopra said in March. “Too much debt means too much risk for a generation of young people, many of whom are struggling in today’s economy.”

    Fads: It’s just a matter of time before this new generation will spend $33,169 to run a toyota corolla for 5 years.

    John Nachtigall Reply:

    Yep. Just a matter of time. Mbecsuse people will start families and they will pay off the debt they owe

    joe Reply:

    Hmm, you are childless, right?

    BruceMcF Reply:

    It is the automobile transpot system that is subsidized. The automobile transport system requires substantially more than just roads, so the argument that begins by pretending that the auto transport subsidy is only about roads is fata,ly flawed at the outset.

    John Nachtigall Reply:

    Give me an example of what you are talking about.

    Neil Shea Reply:

    Externalities (costs not borne by users) of the automobile transportation system include:
    – Highway Patrol, Local policing of roads
    – Driver’s Licensing & testing
    – Traffic Court System, including supervision of punishments
    – Auto accidents injuries & deaths of others
    – Auto accidents property damage – unreimbursed
    – Uninsured motorist insurance and payouts
    – Paramedics and ambulances for traffic injuries
    – Costs of Drunk Driving
    – Disposal of vehicles, including recovery or lack of recovery of heavy metals, chemicals
    – Costs of environmental degradation and climate change due to carbon release
    – Opportunity cost of inability to use petroleum for other uses (e.g. fertilizer, plastics)
    – Street lighting and traffic control systems
    – Traffic reporting, 511 systems
    – Non-walkable neighborhoods
    – Costs of taxis and taxi supervision

    Other costs which may be borne by the users, who may welcome alternatives, include:
    – Automobile Insurance system overheads and costs
    – Costs of deductibles, unreimbursed damage, vehicle vandalism & theft
    – Loss of work productivity/relaxation while driving
    – Lost productivity when roads congested due to accidents, stalls, unexpected blockages
    – Need to shuttle non-drivers (including children, elderly, disabled) to required activities

    Neil Shea Reply:

    Oh, I did kinda leave out the $Trillions to secure petroleum supply lines; tax subsidies to petroleum suppliers; safety & environmental supervision of petroleum and gasoline distribution system (including refineries, tankers and gas stations, and including costs to remove leaking gas tanks from the ground, Reverse 911 systems to call residents near refineries when toxic gasses are inadvertently vented, etc.)

    D. P. Lubic Reply:

    I have a question for John:

    How can you say the road system isn’t subsidized? The country, as a whole, spent $205,313 billion on roads in 2010, but as a whole, collected only $93,830 billion in motorist fees (gas taxes and tolls). That left a deficit to be covered by property taxes, general fund appropriations, some interest revenue, and bond issues of $220,977 billion. That works out to a cash flow cost recovery of only 45.7% from the motorist, or a subsidy to the motorist of 54.3% for his road system. This is just for the road system itself, and is only cash flow; it doesn’t cover deferred maintenance, and it doesn’t cover associated costs, such as an apportionment to law enforcement and hazmat teams who have to deal with road incidents. And I haven’t even begun to talk about externalities that some would charge, such as air pollution and oil wars. Some estimates–from several years ago at that–put the true cost of a gallon of gasoline at $15 or more.

    I’m not going to make that extreme a case, but it certainly doesn’t look like the road system supports itself, even by the relatively conservative (not throwing a lot of extra stuff in ) standard I’m using.

    http://www.fhwa.dot.gov/policyinformation/statistics/2010/hf10.cfm

    D. P. Lubic Reply:

    A second question for John:

    Some of us think we’re seeing a trend, or at least some sort of generational break; you say it’s just a fad. The question becomes, what’s the difference between a trend and a fad?

    You brought up examples of people in communes and the like. As I recall, those didn’t last too long, but I have to admit, I haven’t studied that subject; perhaps someone knows something about the life expectancy of the hippie movement, communes, LSD, and free love.

    Time certainly would spell the difference between a trend and a fad. If this is a fad, it’s been around a while. (This is my old trolley story, the rest of you can go somewhere else.)

    A bit over 20 years ago, I tried to promote a light rail line where I live as an alternative to a 4-lane highway. My location is outside Washington, DC, and my argument was that they had a 12 lane highway that became a parking lot for a fair amount of the day. Why repeat those mistakes? I suggested instead a modern interuban for this area; even ran up a cost study that suggested it would cost about $60 million less than the highway to build. For my trouble, I was told I was trying to take everyone’s car and bring back the horse and buggy, and got called a Communist besides.

    What was most interesting in this was that the people I spoke to who liked the idea were, at that time, either under 40 or over 70. The people who hated it were almost entirely between 40 and 70.

    I was a member of a civic organization at the time; an Amtrak marketing man was also a member. I brought this up to him, and he said his marketing department had measured the same thing in regard to Amtrak for the country as a whole.

    It took a while for the road to get built. Everyone got older. The lower age break moved up, to 50, to 55, to what I now think is about 62. I assume the high end break has moved to a bit over 90.

    My guess as to why this is so is when people came of age. If you talk to a psychologist, he’ll tell you that around the ages of 20 to 25 or so that you brain and attitudes crystallize; you figure out who you are, what the world is like, and what it should be, including your view of the future.

    Based on this, the older crowd, now over 90, remembers a pre-Interstate America, and perhaps wishes some of that were back.

    The younger crowd–under 60 or so–grew up with the automobile being as common as water, and also grew up with two oil embargoes, two “oil wars,” constant tension in the Middle East, much of which stems from oil and the importance it gives that part of the world, and several oil price shocks and the resulting recessions. They’ve also grown up in a period of lots of traffic, tighter licensing standards, and a period when driving is no longer the fun leisure activity it used to be. I also suspect they don’t think much of driving because “Grandma drives, and she drives like a grandma.” Finally, there’s that bit about I-pods and I-phones and that other online stuff which you can’t use and drive at the same time.

    The group in the middle would have come of age between about 1950 and the first oil embargo in 1973. For them, the ideal world, the ideal of the future would look something like “The Jetsons,” or the New York World’s Fair of 1964. That vision of the future didn’t even include freight trains, much less passenger trains or the revived trolley systems we call light rail. To them, this talk of reviving rail service is like wanting to roll back history and undo progress. Combine this revision of the future with social trends they don’t like or have somehow become unlikeable (Hippies! Pornography! Abortion! Liberalism! Socialism! Environmentalism! Communism! Feminism!), and you have much the current “culture war.”

    Ironically, I have some sympathy for their outlooks. I’m probably the most old-fashioned person here, Catholic and in the pro-life camp, and may be one of the few people here who wishes others would dress a little more modestly, would wish others would go easy on the profanity. But I still think we need revived rail service–in all forms–as an important part of getting us off oil, and helping to neutralize the outlandish power held by people who hold oil in the world, but who do not like us.

    Anyway, that’s how I see things. Like I said, if this is just a fad, it seems to have been around a while, like for 20 years or more. I know it’s been measured by the auto and auto insurance industry for something like 15 years now, and apparently has them a bit worried.

    What would be your definition of trend vs. fad? What would be your timeline?

    John Nachtigall Reply:

    It’s a fair question, the short answer it goes from fad to trend when the underlying statistics show the change.

    You admitted earlier that a lot of your evidence is antidotes but you have some statistical evidence. But the overall statistics, the numb of drivers, the road miles, the number of total cars on the road are still on the same upward trend. When that curve starts to go down, you have yourself a new trend.

    An example, the “broken windows” theory of crime fighting was just a fad. When NYC implemented it at the beginning of the 1990s the crime rate was just going up. They stuck with it and showed the theory and the fad actually worked and now along with Comstat and “stop and frisk” it is the cornerstone of local law enforcement theory and the overall crime rate has been in decline nationwide for 30 years . That is when a fad becomes a trend.

    For the record, I am not against public transport and the rail system. I am against the implementation that demonizes cars and does not take into account the actual habits and behaviors of the people you are trying to “help”. In short, if rail and public transport supporters want to “win” this argument they need to take a far more practical approach then they are now. This is a democracy, you can’t just strong arm people into believing,

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    No one is going to be stopping you from a tedious drive along I-5 from LA to SF or vice versa.

    D. P. Lubic Reply:

    “This is a democracy, you can’t just strong arm people into believing.”

    Wouldn’t expect to, but it still bothers me that I essentially got “strong armed” into the cars, cars, cars mode, particularly during that road debate. I would have at least hoped to be answered intelligently, but instead I got insulted, and angrily at that. If that’s democracy as we have it, it doesn’t speak as well of it as it should.

    It also worries me while you can’t strong-arm people into believing, my experience strongly suggests logic, statistics, and courtesy don’t work too well, either. This almost comes down to a religious belief; if that’s the case, the only hope is to “wait for enough dinosaurs to die.” The question is, do we have enough time for that?

    You’re right about time and statistics. Even I’m not positive enough to say this is a sure thing. At the same time, we do have some information, as noted. That includes a decline in the total vehicle population over several years (the first time that had happened since, like WW II), and have had a decline, at least temporarily, of vehicle miles traveled. The strongest statistic is that falling licensing rate for younger drivers. That’s been going on for quite a few years, since 1978 based on the Advertising Age article. VMT by younger drivers has been falling as well since at least 1995, again based on that same article (relinked below).

    http://adage.com/article/digital/digital-revolution-driving-decline-u-s-car-culture/144155/

    Below is a more recent abstract on some of this, from a new car sales perspective. It’s optimistic, but I have to wonder about the reason for it. Cars sales could rebound considerably in the next few years if the economy improves–there certainly is a pent-up demand for replacements, and the vehicle fleet is as old as it’s ever been–but if I were in the car business, I would be worried about that second graph on Page 13, Licensed Drivers (% of total driving age population).

    http://www2.briefing.com/Marketing/includes/state-of-the-us-motor-vehicle-industry-2012.pdf

    D. P. Lubic Reply:

    Another interesting point on car population, particularly the age of vehicles:

    http://www.thedetroitbureau.com/2012/01/u-s-auto-fleet-older-than-ever/

    Key points of interest: The overall size of the auto fleet has largely recovered to near pre-recession levels; fleet size is only 1/2% off from the beginning of the recession, it was down a good deal lower at one point, and I think this is due to a slightly improving economy and pent-up demand. However, the same article notes that younger people are delaying getting licenses, that this has been going on for some time, and the real test will be if the level of cars on the road increases past the record of 242 million cars on the road in 2008.

    D. P. Lubic Reply:

    Other commentary on auto sales, this time looking at factors that could be important in auto stock investments:

    http://seekingalpha.com/article/605651-why-u-s-auto-sales-are-still-too-low

    BruceMcF Reply:

    The changes in the national aggregates will lag the changes in share of population driving, average car per person and vehicle miles driven per capita, since its a growing population.

    That lag of aggregate versus per person is why annual Vehicle Miles Traveled peaked in 2007, annual vehicle miles per capita peaked in 2004/2005. figure

    Motor vehicle travel demand continues long-term downward trend in 2011

    So, yeah, its not a “fad”, its a clear and well-known trend, one that has been driving policy debate over the funding of the road system for years now.

    John Nachtigall Reply:

    All those figures can be explained by the recession. If we ever get a recovery and the trend continues I will be a beliver

    BruceMcF Reply:

    The decline in annual motor vehicle miles traveled per capita began in 2005 or 2006. How many people in 2005 or 2006 were responding to a recession that started in December, 2007?

    That’s part of the flaw in waiting for changes in national aggregates, since in a country with a growing population, the per-person trend turns before the aggregate trend does.

    Alan Reply:

    That’s nothing more than hypocrisy. If a road user does not pay the full cost of his/her road usage–and none do–that user is subsidized. Period. The so-called value to the public in general can and should be considered, but if you do that, then you must apply the same standard to public transportation. Otherwise, you’re just being a hypocrite.

    Your argument is really: The roads benefit me, so they’re a government service. I don’t think that HSR will benefit me, so it’s a subsidy and someone else should pay it. Total hypocrisy.

    John Nachtigall Reply:

    It is simple. Everyone is a “road user”. The food you eat, the clothes you wear, the support of the utilities you use, even the material used to make your housing all used the roads. It is not a subsidy simply because everyone pays and everyone uses it. A subsidy is when everyone pays and only a few use it.

    And for the record I am fine with public transport, if the benefits outweighs the cost. Your problem is that roads are a sunk cost we have already paid for so the cost benefit ratio is just the cost of maintenance against the benefits of being able to go anywhere at anytime. That is a hard ratio to compete against.

    StevieB Reply:

    The roads are built wider than needed for necessary delivery of materials to allow for parking of private vehicles. Every parking space in a store that supplies the food I eat and the clothes I wear adds to the cost of those goods. As a public transport user I am paying a higher cost to subsidize others private vehicles.

    John Nachtigall Reply:

    If you use public transport you already pay less then car drivers because housing pay the gas tax and your ride is subsidized by the government because fairs are less then it costs to maintain the system on almost all transit systems (busses and trains).

    You are paying less,but you benefit so you have to pay some

    StevieB Reply:

    Studies have shown that public transit users subsidize roads more than private vehicle users subsidize public transit.

    joe Reply:

    Compare the gas tax in CA to fares for public transit.

    One increases with regularity – the other has not.

    You’d think the wealthy rode buses.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    Not that I think you’re wrong, but every time you say “studies say” or “studies have shown” without including references to the actual studies in question, Baby Jesus cries.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    adolescent Krisha too.

    StevieB Reply:

    Transit’s Not Bleeding the Taxpayer Dry — Roads Are.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    Thanks.

    Jon Reply:

    I think most public transit advocates are totally fine with the idea of *maintaining* the current road system- hence prob B in San Francisco (street repaving bond) which was supported by transit and cycling activists and only really opposed by fiscal conservatives. It’s *expansions* (new roads and new road lanes) which are much harder to justify. Far too much money is spent on expansion and not enough on maintaining the current road system.

    BruceMcF Reply:

    A subsidy is when everyone pays and only a few use it.

    You can’t just make up new meanings for existing words in use and insist that everyone else change the meaning that they have been using since before you were born.

    define:subsidy:

    sub·si·dy

    noun /ˈsəbsidē/ 
    subsidies, plural

    A sum of money granted by the government or a public body to assist an industry or business so that the price of a commodity or service may remain low or competitive
    – a farm subsidy
    – they disdain government subsidy

    A sum of money granted to support an arts organization or other undertaking held to be in the public interest

    A sum of money paid by one government to another for the preservation of neutrality, the promotion of war, or to repay military aid

    A grant or contribution of money

    A parliamentary grant to the sovereign for state needs

    A tax levied on a particular occasion

    John Nachtigall Reply:

    Ok Bruce, lets say I agree

    So the government is granting HSR a sum of money to build the system but prop 1a says there shall be no subsidy. So they are in violation of 1a?

    Peter Reply:

    No.

    (J) The planned passenger service by the authority in the corridor
    or usable segment thereof will not require a local, state, or
    federal operating subsidy.

    Only operating subsidies are prohibited, not capital subsidies.

    BruceMcF Reply:

    No, the point of Prop1a is to provide part of the capital subsidy required. The constraint is on providing operating subsidies.

    Alan Reply:

    You’re still twisting definitions to suit your opinion. It’s still hypocrisy. Also, when you try to compare the general public good of the entire road system against one specific transit project, you’re comparing apples to oranges. An accurate comparison would be the public benefit of the entire road network vs a large-scale, national HSR network; *or* compare one specific highway against one specific transit project (in this case, LA-SF HSR).

    Using your reasoning, one must also say that in the same way, everyone is an “HSR user”, because the system will provide benefits to the greater public good, beyond just the benefit to the passengers. For example: The transit-oriented development expected to grow around most HSR stations will generate substantial tax revenue for the municipalities, which can be invested in any proper use of that government. Improved air quality and reduced traffic congestion are other intangibles which benefit society at large, and not just HSR passengers. Alleviating demand for airport expansion by diverting intrastate passengers to HSR is both an economic and environmental benefit to the general public.

    So again, using your logic, if the highway system is a benefit to all society and therefore a public service, we must also look at HSR and other non-highway transport in the same light and consider them to be a public service as well.

    Finally, as to your comment about roads being a “sunk cost”: Again, your logic is flawed. There are no “sunk costs” in freeways which have yet to be built, nor is there any “sunk cost” in an existing freeway which must be entirely reconstructed to meet modern standards and demand. Using your logic, we should never have built anything more than a wagon trail, because the railroads were already a “sunk cost”.

    jonathan Reply:

    For the last time, however, the road system is no subsidized, it is just a tax on all that helps all because everyone uses the roads either directly or indirectly. It is simply a government service, like police or fire.

    Simply not true. Not for trucks using highways. They ARE subsidized, as heavy axle-load vehicles are paying nowhere near their true share of maintenance costs. Wear and tear on roads goes as the fourth power of axle-load. Do truckers pay a 4th-power-of-axle load? No, they bloody well do not, and that is a subsidy. (Not only that, they get to belch diesel particulates willy-nilly).

    Please get a clue. And please stop repeating falsehoods – unless you believe in proof-by-repeated-assertion?

    John Nachtigall Reply:

    Sigh…I don’t know why I try, but here we go again.

    The trucks carry goods on the roads.
    Those goods are consumed by everyone
    Everyone pays taxes and fees
    A portion of those fees (along with gas taxes) pay for road maintenance and expansion
    Those roads ae used by trucks to carry goods

    Those trucks don’t run for the hell of it, they run to carry good you consume

    It is not a subsidy, it is just a tax that everyone pays so that everyone benefits

    Alon Levy Reply:

    That’s exactly a subsidy – there’s no connection between who pays and who benefits. If the government decides that GM is a nationally important industry and keeps paying it a stipend every year, that’s a subsidy, even if GM’s economic effects provide jobs in most of the US. If the government pays aid to farmers, that’s a subsidy, even though everyone consumes food. And so on.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    Sigh…I don’t know why I try, but here we go again.

    Trains carry people. Those people are going places and doing things that have some effect on the economy, things that affect everyone. In certain markets the cheapest way to carry those people around is on a train.

    jonathan Reply:

    sigh. I don’t know why I try, but here we go again.

    If the US Govt (federal, state, local) picked up 53% of the total cost of building new railroads, and of maintaining existing railroads, that would be a subsidy to the railroad industry. We might all benefit. Whether or not we all benefti (individually or nett-over-all-people) has no bearing, repeat no bearing on whether or not that is a subsidy.

    In port of fact, the US Government (federal, state, local) picks up almost exactly that share of building new roads and of maintaining existing roads. The beneficiaries of that subsidy are not “everyone”: in point of fact, the largest beneficiaries are the trucking industry, because high-axle load trucksause the lion’s share of road wear, And <b.that is a subsidy which benefits the trucking industry. Again, whether or not you, I, the average-across-the-population or every single indidual also benefits (from unsustainably low trucking costs) has no bearing, repeat no bearing on whether or not that’s a subsidy.

    John, do try reading the Wikipedia page on “subsidy”. You might learn something.

    John Nachtigall Reply:

    Is this just a semantic argument? By your definition anything the government supports is a subsidy. So police, fire, military, is all a subsidy because the direct beneficiaries are not everyone and the secondary beneficiaries don’t count.

    So by your logic, when the government pays for police it is subsidizing the policemen (direct beneficiary of wages) and the fact we have police protection has, to quote you, ” no bearing, repeat no bearing on weather that is a subsidy”

    That is not how I look at it at all. The government pays for a service (police protection) that everyone benefits from. They don’t subsidize the police, they pay for a government service. Same with transportation. They fund the infastructure and everyone benefits (to greater or lesser extents).

    But I think we are just arguing semantics. Those trucks are carrying goods that we all use. The trucks exist to carry good, not just to exist. And you need the trucks even if you ship by rail.

    Neil Shea Reply:

    John, you’re a thoughtful person. But note that it is possible to organize the delivery of good without this subsidy. That would be if trucks paid through fuel taxes and other fees their full share of the cost to build and maintain the roads they use. Then those costs could be passed along into the goods that they transport, and borne by the buyers of those specific goods. Thus goods which are especially large, heavy and/or transported long distances would cost more. And people who didn’t buy those goods would not be subsidizing them.

    Sales taxes and income taxes could be lower. And/or we might find that it costs less to move people (and goods in many cases) by rail, and that there might be many other benefits such as the emergence of some more compact walkable neighborhoods that promote health and convenience; the ability to power transportation with electricity (that may be generated in renewable ways) rather than petroleum; and the reduction of many other externality costs I listed above. Businesses may also find it makes more sense to have more plants around the country, and stores may shift to sell more locally grown produce.

    Subsidies are not necessarily bad if done consciously, in full awareness of the economic distortions they create. But in this case the distortions are in many cases quite large, and awareness is low. Entrenched interests are benefiting and fighting to protect them, in many ways contrary to the larger public good.

    As a thoughtful person perhaps you would agree that the economy would be more efficient if the buyers of goods requiring large inputs of transportation services bore those costs.

    John Nachtigall Reply:

    I agree with most of what you are saying, however a few points

    The costs are passed on, just not attached to the goods sold. As you note we pay taxes. If you moved the collection from income taxes to fees then theoretically I (and you) would net pay the same but Ina different way.

    Freight rail is competitive now in the US. The major issue is you will always need the trucks to get from the depot to the final destination.

    I understand your argument and I see the merits but I think the benefits of this transportation “subsidy” outweigh the disadvantages. We can agree to disagree

    Peter Reply:

    Historically, freight trams were used quite efficiently in many cities for “the last mile” delivery of goods. The fact that we decided in the mid-19th century to dump the vast majority of our tram systems worldwide was a matter of policy, not destiny. Government subsidies of the road system over the rail transit systems directly led to the decline of the transit systems.

    BruceMcF Reply:

    But when costs are attached to the use of one mode, and not attached to another, as when freight rail runs on a transport corridor subject to property tax and truck freight runs on a property tax exempt corridor subsidized by property taxes, that changes the difference in the private cost of using the systems and at the margin certainly results in situations where the cheapest full cost option is not the cheapest option in terms of costs directly charged to the users. Given the massive total subsidy to road freight, in many markets the bulk of road freight’s market share is due to the differential subsidy it enjoys versus alternative ways to move freight.

    Indeed, it would not even take a level playing field to shift half or more of long haul freight to rail, just a shallower slope ~ an interest subsidy with the original capital cost paid for out of user and access fees would suffice to finance a national electric freight rail network that would take over half the long haul truck freight off the road.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    …..property taxes… that nice private siding next to the building is taxed. Every building has driveways and parking on the other hand and is taxes like all other buildings…

    Neil Shea Reply:

    The issue is not about whether something is paid for, it’s about the economic signals sent by the relative value of alternative options. If consumers will buy one apple for the price of 5 pears, I may want to allocate more of my fields to apple trees. If truck transportation costs more without others absorbing the costs, I may want to build more factories around the country and reduce my reliance on shipping.

    Similarly if it does not appear artificially cheaper to transport by roads than it really is, it would level the playing field for the decisions both whether to invest in non-road transportation infrastructure and which mode for travelers to use.

    BruceMcF Reply:

    Yes, most police, fire, military services are subsidized. Subsidies are justified when the net benefits to third parties are equal to or greater than the subsidy. When third party benefits are a large enough share of total benefit, subsidies may be the most effective way to fund a service. A subsidized, publicly provided and publicly controlled police force is a superior solution to the Mogadishu, Somalia system of private police and military services provided for hire.

    John Nachtigall Reply:

    If you consider all those examples a subsidy then under that definition so are roads. But in general use, most people would not consider that a subsidy, it is just a government service. I don’t want to get into a semantic argument.

    We both agree the transport system costs are not directly paid for by the direct users
    We both agree as a result there is not a perfect distribution of those costs
    I think we both agree that everyone benefits to some extent.

    We will agree to disagree on wether the benefits outweigh the disadvantages of tis system.

    BruceMcF Reply:

    If you don’t want to get into a semantic argument, don’t start trying to redefining words from what they normally mean.

    Another point we do not agree on is whether all of the public support for the automobile transport other than roads should be ignored every time the public support for the automobile transport system is raised. Omitting parking provision ~ much of it a legally mandated taking from private property owners ~ pollution, and ignoring that much of the state gas tax payments are not a transfer from the general fund in the form of sales tax exemptions for gasoline will always result in substantial undercounting of the public support provided to the automobile transport system.

    John Nachtigall Reply:

    I am not redefining the word, i am using it as it is used in reality, not in a dictonary, If you asked 100 people on the street if police were a subsidy I wager most would say no. For example, if I call someone ignorant they would take offense because it has a negative connotation, but in reality if I look it up in a dictionary it simply means you are unaware of the information or facts. Technically correct,but in use meant to imply a negative. Subsidy is used the same way.

    As for your other point, well it is a democracy. If the majority agree with you then you are free to get funding for whatever you want. I suspect, however, what bothers you and Alon and others on this boards that the majority does not agree with you. Perhaps because they are ignorant (in the negative or non-negative way). Perhaps it is because they see how the subsidy is spent now with Amtrack and have decided the road transport system is the lesser of the evils. Or maybe it is because a lot of people don’t live in urban situations where biking and walking are feasible and rail is not cost effective under any situation. Hard to say, but get your majority and you can do as you wish

    BruceMcF Reply:

    I am not redefining the word, i am using it as it is used in reality, not in a dictonary, If you asked 100 people on the street if police were a subsidy I wager most would say no.

    And if you told 100 people on the street, without saying that you were talking about roads, that a facility used by people was partly funded out of a tax paid by users of that facility, and partly funded out of local property, sales and/or income taxes was a subsidy, and asked whether the part paid for out of local general funds was a subsidy, a majority would say yes.

    A lot of people share the misconception that gas taxes pay for the public costs of automobiles. The fact that they have that misconception does not make it true, even if it is a misconception shared by the majority.

    As for your other point, well it is a democracy. If the majority …

    If you have no defense for the status quo except that it is the status quo, with a majority of people having the view that the way things have been done for as long as they can remember must be right, that sounds like a concession that the policy you are arguing can not stand on its merits, and can only stand on the basis of being an entrenched policy supported by vested interests.

    D. P. Lubic Reply:

    You’re correct about ignorance in both negative and non-negative connotations; I have to confess to a lot of that about air service, not really having time to study it properly. I’ve also run into people who have said this or any other rail project is a part of a plot to take away their cars and their freedom, and to make them live in an anthill. The same people are often the ones who say there’s plenty of oil in the ground, when oil flow charts from wells, and the extreme measures now being undertaken to get oil out of places like sea beds would strongly indicate otherwise, at least in terms of getting $2.00 per gallon gasoline again.

    It is important to recognize that the road subsidy we have been talking about DOES tip the playing field. This is not a new problem. Check out this film from the 1950s, in particular a segment starting at 12:37, and especially at 13:54:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=e08v0KqImes

    This is the very definition of a subsidy, and a definition of a rigged game. If you don’t want to subsidize rail, unrig the game, with at least honest accounting, something that seems to be in short supply in regard to the cost of the road system.

    You are thoughtful, as mentioned above–but oh, how I wish you wouldn’t buy that “roads aren’t subsidized” argument; that’s just not true in the numbers I see.

    John Nachtigall Reply:

    Bruce

    I am not defending the status quo. Change the system if you wish. There used to be a horse lobby, they lost out. A steam engine lobby, they died. Technology is always marching on, in part because of people such as yourself that continue to agitate against the status quo. You are an important part of the system in presenting the possible ideas that the majority eventually vote on, but stop being a sore loser when they don’t accept your ideas

    D.P.

    I recognize gas taxes don’t come close to paying for roads. I just wish others would recognize they help everyone, not just drivers, but that argument has been beat to death. In reality all forms of transit are subsidized including cars, rails, busses, even bikes and walking (bike lanes and sidewalks). I just view it as a basic government function. You think they are rigging the game towards cars, but I think they are just giving the people what they want. Change what the people want and they will find the alternative

    Alon Levy Reply:

    Do you actually know that there were strong horse and steam engine lobbies, or are you guessing? Because, in reality, the biggest players in steam were the people making the engines (who also made diesel and electric engines, and so didn’t care about which was accepted), and the coal interests (who produced coal mainly for industrial and commercial power generation, and so didn’t care what was used in trains). Nobody important had a real reason to lobby for regulations against dieselization or electrification.

    On the contrary – the political lobbying was for banning steam power, because it was so polluting. New York and Brooklyn both spent much of the 19th century trying to get rid of steam trains and instead make railroads pull trains with horses within the urban core, and once mainline electrification proved feasible around 1900, New York forced the New York Central to electrify.

    Likewise, with horses, cities thought they were a logistical and environmental nightmare in the early 20th century – too much manure and such. They liked cars partially because they were a replacement for horses, though the biggest reasons were that cars would be useful in suburbanization, which the urban elite favored as a way of getting rid of the ethnic enclaves.

    D. P. Lubic Reply:

    Ironically, the birthplace of railroading in America, Baltimore, Md., also required trains be pulled by horses due to smoke concerns (and others, too); when steam locomotives took over from horses, they were special-purpose tank engines, and were oil-fired, too.

    Edited film clips, featuring the railroad action, from the film, “The Tall Target,” about the attempted assassination of Abraham Lincoln on the way to his inauguration in 1861. A reenactment of the train being broken up to be hauled across Baltimore by horses starts at 8:18. This is a good movie, by the way, and I highly recommend it, despite certain inaccuracies. These include such things as a station in “New York” that looks a lot like the 1869 version of Grand Central in the opening credits, an apparent operation by train directly from New York into New Jersey (I believe the first direct link to the south from New York was the Penn Station tunnels, opened in 1910; a boat ride would have been necessary before then), air brakes (not around in even the most primitive form until 1869 or so, and then only as an experiment), the engine crew and apparently the train crew (and the locomotive) running though Baltimore to Washington (a Baltimore & Ohio locomotive and crew would have handled the train south of Baltimore), and poorly synchronized locomotive sounds (very common movie error). Good things include authentic whistle signals from prior to 1947, uniforms, and car interiors.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gJZeKFCe6Hg

    Another clip:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UTBgxfe9OUY

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Tall_Target

    BruceMcF Reply:

    John,

    Arguing that the money paid out of local sales, property and income taxes to fix streets is not a subsidy, and that the gas taxes paid by motorists driving on those streets that go to qualifying highway projects is not a cross-subsidy, and that zoning mandates to provide parking minimums is not a subsidy in kind, treating the cost of pollution caused by driving as a factor to be ignored …

    … that is arguing in service to the status quo.

    Receiving a critique of an argument that you present as not being well founded upon substantial evidence, and replying that the majority believe something and therefore it must be accepted a true, and it would seem that critics should silence themselves until the majority somehow spontaneously changes its mind, that is arguing that the status quo is correct because its the status quo and the conventional wisdom takes it for granted.

    jonathan Reply:

    @ John N.

    “sigh. I don’t know why I try, but here we go again.”

    The New Zelaand government instituted a “User Pays” model for most government services in the 1990s. For road use, petrol-fueled (“gasoline”) vehicles paid taxes on petrol (gas). Diesel and heavy vehicles paid road user charges based on kilometres (miles) driven, as measured by hub odometers, and as a step-funciton of vehcile weight.

    One could argue that the heavy road vehicles were still paying less than their fair share, but otherwise that is an example of “user pays”.

    You, in contrast, seem to have personally redefined the word “subsidy” to mean something rather different from what the word meas to other English speakers. You *do* understand that, don’t you?

    BruceMcF Reply:

    And frequently at a higher total cost than the alternative, and the reason we choose a higher total cost alternative is that the people who make the choice do not have to pay the cost difference.

    Max Wyss Reply:

    For curiosity’s sake, how much (taxes and user fees) per tonmile does a truck pay in the US?

    Paul Druce Reply:

    Truckers say that they pay $35 billion in taxes and fees, not including tolls presumably, with 1.3 trillion ton-miles in 2007. So about 2.6 cents per ton-mile.

    Richard Mlynarik Reply:

    Small note: under-reporting of truck weights is chronic and nearly universal in the US. I’d take the “tons” with a large (and extremely heavy) grain of salt.

    joe Reply:

    Teamsters regularly tamper with the Higgs field.

    Richard Mlynarik Reply:

    Pop science fail.

    PS It’s the Independent Contractors (“independent” as in no union, no employment contracts, no job security, no benefits, no worker’s compensation, no health insurance, no nothing: US capitalist slave labour at its very finest) who have the most incentive to mess with log books, but that’s just relative. It’s widely acknowledge to be endemic through out the entire essentially regulation-scorning industry.

    joe Reply:

    No, independent contractors don’t have the technology to adjust the mass of their cargo.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    Also for curiosity’s sake, how much does a truck pay in Switzerland?

    John Nachtigall Reply:

    Apparently not as much as the Swiss want to charge

    http://www.swissinfo.ch/eng/politics/internal_affairs/Veto_on_truck_tax_throws_spanner_into_EU_deal.html?cid=7652278

  10. D. P. Lubic
    Jul 28th, 2012 at 07:35
    #10

    And now for something on the lighter side–why we need grade separation:

    http://www.rypn.org/forums/viewtopic.php?f=1&t=33643

    Peter Reply:

    I like the stories of the guys rappelling off of the bridges … with their ropes tied to the rails.

    D. P. Lubic Reply:

    My favorites were the ones with the weed spraying train, and the aftermath.

    Peter Reply:

    HAHAHA, missed that one…

    D. P. Lubic Reply:

    Continuing on the lighter side, this time with some French flair–a vintage documentary about late steam operations on SNCF, with a very interesting modern introduction:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fumcpLu2lnc

    Also from France, an edited collection of railway sequences from “La Bette Humaine,” 1937:

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

  11. Alan
    Jul 28th, 2012 at 07:57
    #11

    Off the subject but of interest: It’s been pointed out that the new transportation authorization recently passed by Congress and signed into law relaxes a few of the restrictions on projects like HSR. Specifically, it could allow CHSRA (under certain conditions) to begin the process of ROW acquisition (but not with eminent domain) and award a contract for “pre-construction” activities before approval under NEPA. How this would comport with CEQA is another matter, however.

    http://tinyurl.com/HSR-NEPA

    Richard Mlynarik Reply:

    URL abbreviators = tool of satan. (More technically, “url shortening was a fucking awful idea”.)

    Here you go: http://www.metro-magazine.com/Blog/Transit-Dispatches/Story/2012/07/OCTA-CEO-New-federal-bill-a-win-for-America.aspx

    Alon Levy Reply:

    I used to not shorten URLs in sufficiently short tweets, but now Twitter shortens them automatically.

    Miles Bader Reply:

    damn that satan!
    (oh wait, I guess he is already…)

  12. D. P. Lubic
    Jul 28th, 2012 at 09:40
    #12

    For the political junkies around here–Marx weighing in on the current GOP:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DtMV44yoXZ0&feature=player_embedded

  13. jimsf
    Jul 28th, 2012 at 12:16
    #13

    I gues I missed something somewhere, but when, by the way, did the hanford station become a sure thing? I thought there were a limited number of stations allowed and that kings/tulare was a “possible future option.” Suddenly it’s a given. I mean if they really don’t want a stop there, wouldn’t it be cheaper to just skip it and give the station to someone else later?

    Jon Reply:

    The San Fernando valley is probably going to end up with one station rather than the two originally planned. That’s probably why they’re not stressing about the limit any more

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    Have Caltrain and HSR use the same platform height etc and San Jose doesn’t need a dedicated HSR station, neither does the mid Peninsula Station, SFO or Transbay. Poof 4 “extra” stations for the initial system.

  14. D. P. Lubic
    Jul 28th, 2012 at 17:57
    #14

    NARP Hotline News for Friday, July 27; of particular note in this edition is the critique by the Regional Plan Association that finds flaws with the Anderson Forecast (UCLA) study on HSR:

    http://www.narprail.org/news/hotline/2054-hotline768

    The RPA piece:

    http://www.america2050.org/upload/2012/07/RPA%20Critique%20of%20Anderson%20Forecast%20072512.pdf

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    …just like the NEC doesn’t have anything at all to do with the Northeast being one of the richest places in the world and the richest in the US….

    Paul Druce Reply:

    Pretty doubtful that it’s made a significant impact compared to the value of the various harbors.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    The growth of those ports had nothing at all to do with the high speed connections between them on the railroads. On and off since the 1830s New York-Philadephia has held title to the world’s fastest corridor. Overnight mail and small package delivery started before the Revolution.

  15. joe
    Jul 28th, 2012 at 20:42
    #15

    It’s Garlic Festival time.

    http://www.mercurynews.com/food-wine/ci_21182998/gilroy-garlic-festival-is-fun-serious-foodies

    Expected draw is 100,000 visitors. Many from long distances come to town – HSR would be a great way to get there.

    Richard Mlynarik Reply:

    Equal Opportunity for all: HSR to Half Moon Bay for the Pumpkin Festival. No no-ridership down left behind!

    The Garlic Festival is such a huge big fat profitable deal that even cost-be-damned Caltrain no longer sustains the loss to run special trains to Gilroy for the weekend.

    So, uh, no.

    Zeppelin or gyrocopter or hovercraft or monorail PRT are more practical than HSR for serving the Gilroy Garlic Festival.

    jimsf Reply:

    Hsr might not be great for the Garlic Festival as people don’t really come from that far around the state. However if BART served Gilroy, BART would carry a lot of those people from around the greater bay area only because one, bart is very popular among bay areans, a lot more popular than caltrain, and two, it covers more of the bay area than caltrain. Bay Areans are just so used to taking bart to events its second nature.

    Not that Im advocating a bart to gilroy extension, but if bart were there, festival goers would use it in droves. not so with any other mode.

    joe Reply:

    Jimsf, Sure BART would help but the festival draws from outside the bay area.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    First Gilroy then the world…

    Joey Reply:

    And for the other 364.256 days per year it would be nearly empty.

    Andy Chow Reply:

    People care less about BART vs Caltrain other than availability of such service nearby and the service level (a function of funding). It is completely meaningless to say “BART is more popular than Caltrain” or whatever. Caltrain will do just fine if it has the funding to provide a higher level of service, and BART wouldn’t as well off if it gets the same level of funding that Caltrain is getting.

    The Gilroy Festival service was provided as a charter service by sponsors.

    joe Reply:

    Come on pouty pants – get out of your shell and have some fun with regular people.

    It draws 100,000+ visitors over 3 days – consistently.

    The 34th annual Gilroy Garlic Festival is expected to bring more than 100,000 people to the area this weekend. Here’s what you need to know.
    When: From 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Sunday
    Where: Christmas Hill Park, Gilroy, just off Highway 101.
    Tickets: General admission is $17 at the event for adults and $8 for individuals ages 6 to 12 or 60 and older. Children 6 and younger are free. For discounted prices, purchase tickets at http://gilroygarlicfestival.com or at all Raley’s, Bel Air and Nob Hill Foods locations
    Traffic: Expect traffic throughout the day, so it’s better to arrive early.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    I want HSR to Tuxedo, New York.

  16. Reality Check
    Jul 29th, 2012 at 12:27
    #16

    Caltrain gets money to go electric in 2019

    Caltrain may finally have the money it needs to transform the 148-year-old diesel-powered commuter railroad into one running speedier lightweight electric trains up and down the Peninsula – but commuters will have to wait for them for the better part of a decade.

    The recently passed high-speed rail funding bill includes $700 million for the $1.5 billion electrification project that would bring faster trains to the system in 2019, but a lot of work needs to be done even before construction can begin.

    Caltrain officials say they don’t know when their money will arrive, even though Gov. Jerry Brown and the Legislature authorized the sale of $4.7 billion in high-speed rail bonds. The bonds still need to be sold and the money allocated to Caltrain by the High-Speed Rail Authority and the state controller.

    While they’re waiting, Caltrain officials will dust off the environmental impact report for the modernization project, certified in 2010, and update and recirculate the document, giving the public another chance to critique the plan. It will also need to be recertified, a process expected to take about a year.

    VBobier Reply:

    Watch the Losers/Nutjobs come out to object to electrification of Caltrain…

    synonymouse Reply:

    Loser/Nutjobs were/are BART/MTC/Heminger

    Miles Bader Reply:

    If only BART had used a compatible gauge (and catenary) …

    synonymouse Reply:

    That is what all the railfans were saying in 1966 – lotta good it did.

    Bechtel=PB and all its dba’s. Transit “experts” are not to be trusted nor believed.

  17. Reality Check
    Jul 29th, 2012 at 13:04
    #17

    Headline story in Saturday’s not-available-online Palo Alto Daily Post:

    ‘Transit village’ under fire
    San Carlos residents say project would block views potentially clash with HSR

    A group of San Carlos residents is urging city officials to scale back a plan to develop 10.5 acres surrounding the Caltrain station into eight buildings mostly four-stories high — especially given that the land might be needed to lay down extra tracks when high-speed trains come whizzing through the area.

    The project would eliminate sunlight to houses across the street, towering over the neighborhood, said Ben Fuller, president of the Greater East San Carlos Neighborhood Association. He is urging other neighbors to come out and voice their displeasure — while wearing red — at the meeting of the city’s Planning Commission at 7 p.m. Monday, where the final environmental review on the project will be discussed.

    The proposed project would redevelop several currently vacant parcels bordering the Caltrain station, located east of El Camino Real and west of the railroad tracks. Developer Legacy Partners Residential Inc. wants to create what it calls a transit village on the San Mateo County Transit District-owned site — an idea that was originally conceptualized by SamTrans CEO Mike Scanlon in 1998. The proposal includes the construction of eight buildings housing 280 rental apartment units, 14,326 square feet of retail space and 23,797 square feet of office space. The project would also include 667 parking spaces. Of their eight buildings, six would be four stories tall. A new SamTrans Transit Center would create a dedicated area for shuttles, a bus stop, bus and shuttle layovers. The proposed project would alter the Caltrain Station plaza and parking areas, but not the historic depot building within the Caltrain station.

    “The idea is you could go to work or go to San Francisco and not necessarily get on Highway 101, not necessarily get in a car,” Assistant City Manager Brian Moura said, explaining that residents of the development would opt to use Caltrain instead.

    But the Greater East San Carlos Neighborhood Association, whose residents live in close proximity to the proposed transit village, think that the project is in the wrong place at the wrong time, given that California’s high-speed rail project was approved by state lawmakers earlier this month.

    Montgomery Street resident Dimitri Vandellos said it was foolish for the development plan to be considered at a time when the fate of a possibly four-track high-speed rail line from Los Angeles to San Francisco is up in the air.

    “This is a public agency taking railroad right-of-way property to develop before we have clarity over what high-speed rail will look like and how the Caltrain electrification will impact the area,” Vandellos said. “And there’s something particularly disturbing about that.”

    No significant environmental impacts are raised in the final report, but Fuller said there were several detrimental consequences to East San Carlos residents.

    “The entire document is whitewashed of any impacts to our neighborhood,” he said. Fuller also said that the development is likely to slash property values in the area, benefiting only the developing agency and SamTrans officials.

    “This is a classic example of the 99% versus the 1%,” Fuller said. “There is nothing in this for the city of San Carlos.”

    Fuller added there has been little discussion with the residents about the project and that leaders have been resistant to consider building alternatives.

    “They want to build exactly what they want to build,” Fuller said. “And that’s it.”

    Vandellos said that, while he likes the idea of increased Caltrain riders, the project just wasn’t right for the neighboring community.

    “I bought my house because I’m a big supporter of mass transit,” Vandellos said. “As a commuter, I’ve used Caltrain for decades because I can walk to it.”

    “We’re the transit village,” he said. “And we’re the ones being impacted by some corporate development company that wants to come in and make a fast buck.”

    Reality Check Reply:

    Forgot to mention, for additional background, Clem’s blog has a good post (“Development Oriented Transit“) on this long-proposed San Carlos Caltrain Transit Village.

    joe Reply:

    This development proposedas is an example of transit oriented development. The servuce attracts infill.

    The development should accomidate a full HSR build. The second objection is the station will cause infill and change the community. Anyone living hear a Caltrain station should expect change. The area is growing and development near the stations is inevitable.

    Joey Reply:

    It’s not possible to build something that will accommodate HSR on the peninsula when we don’t know exactly what HSR on the peninsula will look like? How many tracks will be necessary through San Carlos? Where will they be built in relation to the existing tracks? What will stations look like? Will the configuration of stations require reconfiguring the tracks?

    Richard Mlynarik Reply:

    Four tracks through San Carlos, under every reasonable (ie none that Caltrain is planning) Caltrain service scenario, regardless of HSR.

    Two new tracks to the western side. The existing northbound platform is demolished. The existing southbound platform is widened to become an island for the central (stopping, slow, non-express) tracks. The historical stone station building is relocated.

    None of this — none of it — is possible under the “TOD” insanity.

    jonathan Reply:

    Yes, Joe. Exactly in the same way that Gilroy should “expect” an non-trenched, modifled at-grade HSR line through the city.

    But more relevant to this blog: As diagrams in Clem’s blog show, the TOD has buildings which would intersect the catenary for a quad-tracked San Carlos station. That’s insanity, and that’s why the Legacy Partners/Samtrans plan should not be allowed.

    Neil Shea Reply:

    Great post by Clem in 1/2010. It may be just self-serving by neighbors opposed to a project, but how great is it to have folks raising objections about about HSR ROW encroachment

    Miles Bader Reply:

    Utter idiots…

    Richard Mlynarik Reply:

    Why?

    Anybody who gives a damn about transportation service on the SF Peninsula — which doesn’t include anybody who works for Caltrain, SamTrans the the SMCTA — would oppose this insane scheme.

    So yeah, whatever: everybody’s a “NIMBY” and every “NIMBY” is always wrong.

    Reality Check Reply:

    If I’m not mistaken, the Greater East San Carlos Neighborhood Association are the ones who fought the Caltrain berm through San Carlos every step of the way, and ultimately forced it onto the ballot … where they lost. Their arguments about stuff towering over them (Ben Fuller lives over 400 feet away from the TOD property) and such were the same then as they are now. I’m cynical as to their motives in bringing up the possibility of 4 tracks … it’s a great and fair point to make, but I suspect it’s one they’re using out of happy convenience because they’re against the TOD (or anything) along there that would be visible above the new-elevated tracks they fought so hard against before. I predict that if the city and/or developer figure out a way to accommodate 4 tracks with a center platform, as Richard suggests, that the neighborhood group’s opposition will not fade in the least. And, in my view, that makes the basis of their opposition purely NIMBY.

    jonathan Reply:

    I suggest you take a closer look at Clem’s blog, at http://caltrain-hsr.blogspot.com/2010/01/development-oriented-transit.html

    Reality Check Reply:

    OK, did that again … and your point is?

    Miles Bader Reply:

    The station/development may or may not be a good idea.

    But these people’s reasons — “it might block my view” (of what, incidentally?), and “oh noes, four-story buildings!!1!” — are classic NIMBY fare, nothing else: “I’ve got mine, now all further development must stop immediately!

    Their ranting has nothing to do with whether it’s a good plan.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    an evil developer ready to rape the pristine wilderness is the one who wants to build a cabin in the woods. The stalwart upstanding conservationist out to protect the pristine wilderness is the one who already has a cabin in the woods.

    Reality Check Reply:

    In today’s not-available online Daily Post:

    Transit Village draws protests

    [...]

    More than 30 people who oppose Caltrain’s proposed “transit village” — a development of apartments, stores and offices near Holly Street and El Camino Real — all wore red shirts last night to the [San Carlos Planning Commission's] meeting.

    Opponents said they were concerned that the proposed 65-foot buildings would block views of the hills for people east of the tracks. They also said they were concerned the 10.5-acre project would create traffic problems.

    Caltrain, which is seeking San Carlos’ approval, will turn the project over to a private developer — an idea that also drew questions last night.

    “Why is this public property being given away to private developers?” asked San Carlos resident Dimitri Vandellos, who was wearing a red shirt.

    Vandellos also questioned whether the project might one day be seized by the California High Speed Rail Authority, which plans to run its trains along the Caltrain tracks and might eventually add more tracks.

    Ben Fuller, president of the Greater East San Carlos Neighborhood Association, said the 65-foot buildings would cast shadows on homes, reducing property values.

    [...]

    The planning commission is scheduled to make a recommendation on the transit village to the City Council on Oct. 1.

    See more of the opposition leaders thought in his own words in the reader comments section of:
    Transit Village EIR Sought to Answer Concerns

    Alon Levy Reply:

    “This is a classic example of the 99% versus the 1%,” Fuller said. “There is nothing in this for the city of San Carlos.”

    …and this is why people have to stop with the 99%-vs.-1% slogan. It lets high-income communities pretend they’re Ordinary People Being Screwed By The System.

    Reality Check Reply:

    Another story on the San Carlos Caltrain TOD NIMBYs:
    San Carlos Transit Village plan draws flak from city’s east-side residents

  18. jimsf
    Jul 29th, 2012 at 16:37
    #18

    ho hum everyone’s way off topic on this post now. How about a new one looking at the details of the first two hsr stations to be built. Fresno and Hanford. ( and or Bakersfield)

    I’m sure there will be plenty to argue about!!!

    I like that round shaped hanford proposal!

    Joey Reply:

    Just no one say the phrase ‘pedestrian access’ and jimsf will stay happy.

    jimsf Reply:

    I don’t have any problem with pedestrian access….. in fact if I had my way every station would be in the official downtown central business district in each town.
    I just advocate for plenty of parking spaces at every station except transbay terminal because except for san francisco,
    and most especially in the central valley, the majority of people are going to drive and if there is not parking they will not opt to take the train. they have a fit when there is no parking space. belive me I know.

    jimsf Reply:

    and in every valley town, and including most of the SFV and socal cities as well, where stops are proposed, there is ample space for onsite parking garages.

    I don’t care who builds them, chsra or cities, or the man in the moon, but they must be built if you want people to ride.

    joe Reply:

    About 1500-1700 of the 6,600 spaces Gilroy expects to build will be downtown. The other 5000 will be just down the road South of the station which is at the south end of town.

    Joey Reply:

    Clearly you haven’t looked at the station plans in detail. The issue here is that there are very distinct barriers which prevent actual people from getting to the platforms. In Fresno, this means a wall between the west mezzanine and the west platform, forcing people to go up to the mezzanine and then back down again even though they are not crossing over anything. Even with faregates this is idiotic. In Bakersfield, the fact that the BNSF and HSR tracks are planned to be at different levels means that anyone trying to access HSR from downtown is forced to make three (large) level changes: up over the BNSF tracks, back down to the ground then up again to the HSR platform. If you’re going to put a station downtown, at least act like it’s going to see actual pedestrians.

    jimsf Reply:

    well not I haven’t looked in detail… that is why I suggested a blog post about those detail and with those drawing and renderings. As for changing levels….. one, doubt anything is set in concrete yet, and two, as long as there are moving sidewalks and escalators I guess it doesn’t matter. Doesn’t there have to be either an overhead walkway or and underground walkway to access the platforms… whether or not its 2 platforms with 4 tracks, or center platfrom with two tracks or two tracks with side platforms.

    it should be simple in any case these stations need not be any more complex than a basic bart station such as el cerrito del norte….or macarthur. I can’t recall ever being burdened by taking an escalator.. or since they [bart escalators]are ALWAYS broken, stairs, up to access platforms.

    but again, this is why we need a blog post on the subject so we have new stuff to argue about.

    Joey Reply:

    Of course there has to be an overpass/underpass (incidentally, underpasses require about half as many stairs), but unnecessary level changes are still unnecessary. Of course you will have to cross over or under the tracks to access Fresno’s western platform from the eastern side, but there’s no reason why people should be forced to go up to the mezzanine from the west side when the platform is literally right there. There’s simply no reason to add unnecessary travel time. As for Bakersfield, the problem requires marginally more thought, and what should probably be done is that BNSF should be grade-separated in conjunction with HSR. Again though, an underpass rather than an overpass would really cut down on the added travel time.

    As for BART, my personal experience is that their stations have varying levels of pedestrian friendliness ranging from reasonable (downtown SF) to dismal cases where they force everyone through a single inconvenient entry point, regardless of what direction they are coming from. MacAurthur is actually a prime example as it seems they gave no thought to people coming from anywhere other than the parking lot. At least Balboa Park is functional now, though as I recall it took two major construction projects to fix it…

    Marc Reply:

    MacAurthur is actually a prime example as it seems they gave no thought to people coming from anywhere other than the parking lot

    MacArthur station is constrained by the fact that the tracks are running down the middle of the freeway overpass halfway between MLK and Telegraph. The entrance is adjacent to 40th St, and is quite convenient by foot, bike, or bus. There’s also an access road (with sidewalk) from MacArthur. If anything, the least convenient way to get there is by car, and, of course, the bulk of the parking lot is in the process of being replaced by TOD.

    Not the prettiest of stations, but compared to some of the other BART station monstrosities, MacArthur is a piece of cake to deal with…

    thatbruce Reply:

    @jimsf:

    The Bakersfield alternatives have stairs and a single elevator to get people up to the level of the BNSF overpass, and another set of stairs and elevator to go back down to the concourse/ground level. Unlike the platforms, no provision is made for a future second elevator or escalators. And that’s the side towards the Bakersfield office towers, city hall etc.

Comments are closed.