Downtown Extension Is No Surprise

Jul 23rd, 2012 | Posted by

Today’s column from San Francisco Chronicle political writers Phil Matier and Andrew Ross makes it sound like the downtown extension is a surprise that the Bay Area suddenly has to pay all on its own. In reality, the project has been on the books for many years and has strong local support as a way to bring Caltrain commuters, along with high speed rail passengers, to downtown San Francisco.

The column focuses on the fact that locals will have to foot the bill for the downtown extension:

It’s up to the locals to make the tunnel happen. If they don’t, the $68 billion high-speed-rail line from Los Angeles will dead-end several blocks from downtown proper.

Building the tunnel will put San Francisco in competition with those hoping to finish BART to San Jose – both projects will be tussling for $1.8 billion that the federal government will direct to the Bay Area in the coming years.

Just for work to start on the 1.2-mile dig through the heart of the city, however, the Bay Area has to come up with its own $650 million. The current plan is to raise $300 million from higher bridge tolls and $350 million in San Francisco sales-tax dollars.

“That’s a reasonable estimation,” said spokesman Randy Rentschler of the Metropolitan Transportation Commission.

José Luis Moscovich, executive director of the San Francisco County Transportation Authority, said city voters could be asked for the $350 million as part of an overall transportation-tax extension within the next two years.

The date for when the Legislature and voters would be asked to approve another $1 toll hike to raise the $300 million in tunnel money is a bit more elusive. Although acknowledging that toll money would be needed for a San Francisco tunnel, Rentschler says there are no plans on the boards to seek an increase.

It would have been nice for the column to mention that the downtown extension project has already received significant federal funding in the form of $400 million in federal funds that the Transbay Terminal project received in 2010 to build the train box where a station will go at the tunnel’s terminus.

San Francisco voters have already indicated their support for the project, voting in 2010 to approve a ballot measure supporting the downtown extension station at Transbay Terminal. That vote was actually the third such vote in favor of the project, following on votes in 1999 and 2003. San Franciscans have been wanting this downtown extension since the 20th century.

It’s true that locals will have to fund the tunnel itself. But that merely adds urgency to the need for finding funding sources for local rail projects as a whole. That was one of the underlying themes of the recent SPUR report that showed how California could pay for high speed rail itself – that with so many other transit needs in the Bay Area, more revenue will be needed, and HSR infrastructure can be rolled into those new revenue sources.

Bay Area leaders ought to step up and ensure this money gets proposed and approved in order to fund these priorities. After all, they’re being shown up by Los Angeles’s aggressive and successful mass transit expansion plans. Southern California, not the Bay Area, is now seen as transit’s promised land. LA, not SF, is the place that New Yorkers are being told to emulate when it comes to transit expansion.

It’s time for the Bay Area to catch up. Building the downtown extension is an important part of that effort.

  1. Back in the Saddle
    Jul 23rd, 2012 at 21:35
    #1

    Robert, thanks for the post on the downtown extension. If you are still monitoring the blog this evening, could you elaborate on where the first contracts for the bond money and federal dollars will be awarded? I would imagine that some projects have been engineered, the land has been acquired and the environmental work as been completed.

    Elizabeth Reply:

    Land acquisition has not happened yet.

  2. Tom McNamara
    Jul 23rd, 2012 at 21:45
    #2

    Southern California, not the Bay Area, is now seen as transit’s promised land.

    Everyone is jealous of the ability of Metro to get additional funding at the ballot, but Los Angeles still has major hurdles to overcome to even be in the same echelon as the Bay Area or New York City.

    Southern California still doesn’t have grade separation and comprehensive planning on the scale needed to match its peers. But as far as cool construction signs and moving dirt, it’s the leader of the pack.

    Paul Druce Reply:

    Grade separations are the Anti-Transit.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    Sometimes.

    (It’s Response-to-Concerns-Raised-by-Commenters-Fortnight at Ped Observations; I’ve had a post about grade separations in the pipeline for months that I hope to finish. But first, apartment hunting! And my pedestrian observations from Vancouver!)

    Miles Bader Reply:

    Wait, what does that mean?

    Donk Reply:

    Somebody in the Bay Area papers should write an article about this. People would run around in the streets panicking if they heard that LA was better than them at something. It would be just what they need to get their act together up there. Unfortunately all of the money would go to worthless projects, like VTA extensions, freeway median BART extensions, and mega train terminal that only has bus connections.

    Nathanael Reply:

    I do suspect that the “Hey, we’re the second best in the US” attitude has led San Francisco to prefer developer-driven projects over actual core improvements. Its suburbs do try (sometimes competently, sometimes not), but San Francisco has had a “resting on its laurels” attitude…

    …In contrast, LA knows that it’s “car city” so it’s making an effort to not be that, with planned work being along key corridors.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    This attitude also led the Bay Area to be bypassed by less old cities. Vancouver and Calgary both surpassed San Francisco in the last 10 or so years. Washington either just surpassed San Francisco or will soon, depending on metro area definitions.

    Matt Reply:

    Washington has around 1M weekday boardings and is far ahead of the Bay Area by leaps and bounds in terms of mass transit.

    Nathanael Reply:

    Hot damn! I found the series on SF political culture!

    http://www.sfweekly.com/2009-12-16/news/the-worst-run-big-city-in-the-u-s/

    This is one of their conclusions:
    “A belief that good intentions matter more than results leads to inordinate amounts of government responsibility being shunted to nonprofits whose only documented achievement is to lobby the city for money.”

    Look at the followups with subtitles, too. Subtitles include “Muni”, “The Muni Death Spiral”, “Let It Bleed”, “Inefficient By Design”, and “How the Happy Meal Ban Explains San Francisco”. There’s also “How Premium Pay Nets City Workers Millions in Bonuses For Just Doing Their Jobs”.

    His conclusion in “Inefficient by Design:
    “Mass public input is costing millions of dollars — and, in many cases, actually resulting in an entrenchment of the bureaucratic status quo… Of course, that may be the point.”

    Nathanael Reply:

    There are more recent articles by Joe Eskanazi going into more recent exemplars of the same problems. It’s a good series.

    Trentbridge Reply:

    To answer your point about planning and grade separation projects inSoCal:

    SAN GABRIEL – Walsh Construction Co. was awarded a $172.6 million contract Monday to build a 1.4-mile trench that will route Union Pacific freight and Amtrak passenger trains below ground level.

    The contract, awarded by the Alameda Corridor-East (ACE) Construction Authority, is part of ACE’s program to create 22 grade separations and safety improvements at 39 crossings throughout the San Gabriel Valley.

    The improvements are designed to improve safety and reduce vehicle congestion and emissions that occur when cars and trucks are forced to wait while trains pass by.

    The trench project is ACE’s largest single undertaking, and it’s expected to create nearly 9,000 jobs over its nearly five years of construction.

    morris brown Reply:

    @ Trentbridge

    This is just another example of how transit agencies just outright lie in areas like job creation.

    Just look at the numbers. They say they will create 9000 jobs. Assuming they mean 9000 jobs that would last 1 year each and not 9000 jobs for the whole 5 years of the project, then do some math.

    Assuming that each job for 1 year will cost $50,000 (and this is low). Then 9000 of these jobs will cost $450,000,000. Amazing how they can spend $450 million for labor alone, on a project that is going to cost only $173 million.

    Tom McNamara Reply:

    Trent,

    You went there, so I’ll address your comment. The Alameda Corridor was the brainchild of Steven Soboroff who sought to find a way to shift port traffic back into downtown LA after Wal Mart had been employing “just-in-time” sourcing using truck drivers heading east through Riverside and San Bernardino County.

    In every aspect it has been a successful project: under-budget, paid using almost no government funds, good for safety, and improves air quality. However, Wal Mart, the biggest importer for Los Angeles/Long Beach didn’t buy in, leaving the amount of traffic on it relatively light.

    As a counter-measure, the Alameda Corridor “authority” approached the feds and others to “extend” the line from downtown to Colton, where BNSF’s and UP’s transcontinental routes converge. As a result, the authority is eager to demonstrate the utility of this project by pointing to Amtrak’s participation.

    Only problem? Metrolink isn’t going to use it, and Wal-Mart still won’t, unless the state starts capping truck volumes at the ports.

    Oh, and because of the land use around the Corridor, converting it to passenger use would be marginally helpful. In the end, the Corridor does not nothing to solve the grade separation problems for Metro’s light rail and Metrolink.

    blankslate Reply:

    Everyone is jealous of the ability of Metro to get additional funding at the ballot, but Los Angeles still has major hurdles to overcome to even be in the same echelon as the Bay Area or New York City.

    I can’t believe how often people say “Bay Area” and “New York City” in the same breath regarding the subject of mass transit.

    Let me put it this way: there is a single subway line in Manhattan – the Lexington Line – that has more passengers per day than every bus and rail transit system in the Bay Area combined!

  3. flowmotion
    Jul 23rd, 2012 at 23:02
    #3

    A toll hike proposal is certainly news to me, although I probably don’t go to the same cocktail parties as Robert does. Good story by M&R imo.

    My feeling is this project is far more important than people are giving it credit for, as it will make Caltrain a viable commute option for large portions of San Francisco where Fourth & King currently is not. If anything, San Mateo and Santa Clara counties should be taxed, rather than East Bay Commuters, as the Peninsula will be the primary beneficiary.

    Clem Reply:

    Someone should send the memo to Caltrain. While there are more jobs within a half mile of Transbay today than within a half mile of all the existing Caltrain stops from SF to Gilroy combined, they don’t plan to send all their trains there and are only too happy to let HSR crowd out the rush hour access to the central business district.

    Adina Reply:

    @clem say what? what evidence do you have that Caltrain does not plan to send trains to Transbay?

    Richard Mlynarik Reply:

    Adina,

    What evidence do you have that Carl Guardino isn’t lying every time he opens his mouth?

    Reality Check Reply:

    Regardless of whatever he has said or claimed over the last 20+ years, Guardino’s actions have always shown him to be a BART advocate first and a bike/transit advocate second. When it comes down to a choice, he will always, always, always put BART ahead of everything else (“BART über alles!”) , regardless of cost, or benefit or cost/benefit or implementation time whatever other criteria brand/technology agnostic transit advocates or reasonable taxpayers may use.

    Joey Reply:

    Operating plans show them terminating half or more of their trains at 4th and King, for “lack” of “capacity”

    Jon Reply:

    Check out pages 45-48 of this document:

    http://www.cahighspeedrail.ca.gov/assets/0/152/256/265/87445132-b018-45f6-8651-70433e682206.pdf

    This is Caltrain’s planned timetable for 2025 with Transbay. Only 40% of peak trains and no off-peak trains go all the way to Transbay.

    Peninsula Rail 2010 Reply:

    This tragic, incompetent plan is all the more absurd because a regional transit service will always carry vastly more passengers than a long-distance HSR service. Travel demand is far, far stronger for shorter trips and distances. For instance, how often a year do you need to go to Fresno or LA? How often this month??? How often do you go between the Peninsula and SF? See…. it’s a gross, incompetent misunderstanding of where the travel demand is.

    Please don’t assume Caltrain management makes the quality and improvement of Caltrain service a priority. Plenty of evidence supports the contrary view. In many official minds, Caltrain is only a placeholder until BART goes all the way down the Peninsula, an official, ambitious, and enormously expensive plan that’s been in the works for decades. An efficient, modern Caltrain makes BART look bad in comparison, and how can they build BART if there’s an obvious better alternative in place??

    synonymouse Reply:

    right on

    John Bacon Reply:

    In the proposed blended Service Plan after the DT

    After the DTX station and tunnel, new Caltrain rolling stock and electrification are all completed and in place completed for many billions of dollars no mater how you alocate the cost the following Caltrain performance can be achieved. One Caltrain run can leave the TBT, call 4th & King, and 22nd street taking 9 minutes. Today a parallel path BART train calls on 6 stations, Embarcadero, Montgomery, Powell, Civic Center, 16th and 24th Street Stations, amid far more potential riders at each stop than the the Caltrain Stations in 9 minutes. Why will the new electrified level boarding Caltrain take the same length of time to call on three stations as it takes current BART runs to call on 6 stations? Three sharp curves spread out over 2 miles starting at the TBT exit to be negotiated by proposed high center-of-gravity double-deck-cars, overweight because masive transformers must be carried on rolling stock energized by a 25,000 VAC electrification, under-powered because they were designed for zone-express rush-hour-service a common feature of many if not most commuter services including the Southern Pacific peninsula commuter service in 1957 but not the type of service appropriate for today or in the future on the SF Peninsula.

    jonathan Reply:

    John,
    “massive transformers” are so 1980s. These days there are much smaller transfomers, which feed n internal DC bus which is fed to IGBTs (or gate-turn off thyrystors, GTOs, in somewhat older
    techology) to feed asynchronous AC traction motors.

    Do note that the ICE-3 (and AGV) have no dedicated power cars. Transfomers are hidden under the floor. Same goes for modern EMUs.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    ICE-3 and AGV aren’t modern EMUs?
    Double decker commuter cars have commuters under where the floor would be in single level car. That’s kinda the point of double decker commuter cars.

    jonathan Reply:

    ICE and A are modern high-speed trainsets. TGVs are articulated and thus permanently coupled, not “multiple units”. ICEs are non-articulated but have pressure-tight doors between cars, and operationally are permanently couple.d I suppose you could call each trainset a “unit” but that rather defeats the point.

    With a time-separation waiver in hand, there is absolutely no reason for Caltrain to buy overweight FRA-compliant trainsets, and no reason for them to be overweight and underpowered.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    The multiple in multiple unit comes from there being um um ….multiple… engines, motors, propulsion units, in the train. Not from the coupling system between cars. Or whether or not the passageway between cars is sealed. Or whether or not the train gets it’s power from electricity supplied from an outside source or an on-board generator or even if there is a generator for propulsion.
    …though there is the conundrum of what to call a single car that is operating by itself. It’s still an MU because it almost always has more than one engine and can be coupled to similar cars to make a train.

    Miles Bader Reply:

    @jonathan
    Many people seem to use the term “EMU” even for cases where the “units” are more or less permanently coupled.

    Reality Check Reply:

    It seems EMU is convenient shorthand for distributed power (non-locomotive-hauled).

    John Bacon Reply:

    Most of substation costs are largely due to transformer cost which is closely proportional to weight. Any power conversion engineering text will show that transformer power capacity is the maximum current magnitude, proportional to the winding’s cross-section area, within that device able to enclose its internal magnetic field, whose magnitude is proportional to the magnetic field cross-section area. Therefore a transformer’s power capacity is proportional to the product of two cross-section areas; often referred to as its area product. This area-product is proportional to the fourth power a transformer’s linear dimension (such as a transformer’s diameter). On the other hand a transformer’s mass, as is the case for any three dimensional object, varies in proportion to the cube of any linear dimension.
    Representing these power and mass relationships with following equations:
    P = Kp*(L^4), and M = Km*(L^3)
    (P^¾)/M = {Kp*(L^3)}/{Km*(L^3)} = Kp/Km = a constant
    The power/weight relationship will yield a constant, assuming current and magnetic densities are constant, a practical and probable condition across a broad range of transformer sizes if they are liquid-cooled; as is likely to be true within the range of transformer sizes being considered here.
    Using a TVG locomotive’s 6,000 kilowatt 10 metric tonne transformer as a base-line let’s derive a power/weight relationship constant:
    (6,000^0.75)KW/10 tonnes = 68.17 KW/tonne
    If sixteen 375 KW transformers were substituted for one 6,000 KW transformer, as could be the case for 16 EMUs individually powered by a 25,000 VAC rail electrification system, their total weight would be 16*(375^.75)/68.17 = 20 tonnes or 1.25 tonnes of transformer weight per car
    Therefore the total system weight for transformers needed to drop supply current voltages to the 1.000 VDC range on board a train that a semi-conductor controlled traction system can use is likely to weigh and cost one-half or less for a few line-side substations feeding a LVDC distribution system than many more lower individual capacity transformers on board every EMU car required for a HVAC distribution system.
    Low voltage DC distribution systems make over-all good sense through major urban areas where remoteness from grid-connections to frequent line-side substations (10 miles or less between potential grid connections such as along the SF to SJ peninsula rail path) is not an issue, aluminum third rail low voltage power distribution line-side conductors are much lower in cost than standard HVAC copper conductors and keeping top speeds at or below 100 mph where resultant time lost is not a serious concern (4 minutes lost between SF to SJ).

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    aluminum third rail low voltage power distribution line-side conductors are much lower in cost than standard HVAC copper conductors

    Volts x amps = watts, it’s more complex than that but it suffices for back of the envelope.
    If you want a megawatt at 600 volts you need 1666.67 amps and a conductor that can carry that’
    If you want a megawatt at 25,000 volts you need 40 amps and a conductor that can carry that. ‘
    Thin copper wires are cheaper than aluminum rails with steel wear surfaces welded to them

    thatbruce Reply:

    @John Bacon:

    You’re throwing a lot of formulas around in attempting to uphold a position that was lost over a century ago. Edison’s rationale for low-voltage DC connections was that he could build and charge for a lot more power stations than high-voltage and AC would require.

    Sure, we can assume that Caltrain would chose 3rd-rail electrification because of a penny-wise, pound-foolish perceived cost saving such as you’re proposing. We can ignore that choosing 3rd-rail electrification carries with it a mandatory requirement to grade-separate all road crossings. We can ignore that the CHSR system is using overhead transmission, just like all other modern electrified HSR and regional commuter systems worldwide, and put up with duplicate electrification systems on the Peninsula.

    No, even better, we can copy the example of the initial Eurostar, and put 3rd-rail contact shoes on the CHSR trains so they can operate on the Peninsula, with the accompanying loss of power and multiple years getting it to work right. What’s one more additional system *cough*CBOSS*cough* for those trains to carry everywhere in order to be able to operate on such a small stretch of their operation?

    After a few years of this, Caltrain can save money in rollingstock costs and simply, simply I say, move one rail a few inches to the side and use the old BART carriages. No-one will ever notice the difference.

    Or Caltrain can use the same electrification method as the CHSR trains, and be in keeping with modern practices for regional electrified commuter railroads around the world.

    Clem Reply:

    They plan to send some trains, but certainly not all, because they’ve allowed the “Caltrain downtown extension” to morph into a high-speed rail project. The dogged insistence on separate and incompatible platform interface and station facilities has resulted in just two Caltrain platform tracks planned at Transbay, with zero flexibilty to match actual demand by allocating platforms between Caltrain and HSR. Instead, the allocation will be cast in concrete, with none of the agencies involved even remotely concerned about it.

    Peninsula Rail 2010 Reply:

    In certain decision-making minds, Caltrain is assumed not to exist if and when the TBT is finally hooked up to the Peninsula mainline, decades from now. Notice how Caltrain’s own Mark Simon, who publicly advocated for BART over Caltrain on the Peninsula when he was a SF Chronicle columnist, started to backpedal on the idea of Caltrain pursuing a dedicated funding source once the HSR funding package was put together in April. What agency doesn’t aggressively pursue a permanent source of funding?? Remember, however, Caltrain isn’t its own agency, certainly not like BART, and it has long been assumed as a temporary institution, thus the awkward JPB structure and Samtrans management. Caltrain is assumed to be temporary and eventually rubbed out, so why give them premium space in the TBT??? Decades from now, BART is assumed to be running from downtown SF around to Daly City and back to Millbrae and then down the Peninsula to San Jose…

    This doesn’t mean that Caltrain can’t find a new beginning with better management and a better future, but Caltrain has a long history of being dragged down by poor leadership and a very awkward political structure.

    BruceMcF Reply:

    Yes ~ of course, the local issue that authorized the TBT named it the HSR terminus, so one could take one step further back and say the problem was that they had to morph it into an HSR project because they neglected to design that into the TBT design from the outset.

    Nathanael Reply:

    Oh, but remember, the TBT was originally designed to have NO rail service, neither Caltrain nor HSR. Furthermore, it has been planned with a design which doesn’t even have good bus flow! So from the point of the TBT designers, they were forced to add HSR because of the voters, and they are deigning to give Caltrain a few platforms because of pressure, but really they’d rather have a lot more stinking diesel buses. And airport-style security. For the goddamn BUSES.

    Something is wrong with the political culture in SF.

    Michael Reply:

    ” the TBT was originally designed to have NO rail service”

    Really? Are you sure of that? Or did you mean to say that the TBT project was phased to build the bus portion and train box first?

    Richard Mlynarik Reply:

    For every practical purpose it is true.

    Back in the early part of last decade, ARUP produced a back-of-a-paper-napkin conceptual structure “design” for the Big Bus Station in the Sky, featuring a uniform forest of 5 and 6 foot (1.54/1.83m) diameter support columns on a 28.5 foot (8.69m) longitudinal by 52 foot (15.85m) crosswise rigid (rigid in the “not doing any thinking”, not the “structural” sense) grid.

    This rigid grid made and makes less than no allowance for any trains running into the basement of the Big Bus Station in the Sky.

    In fact, it is positively hostile to and directly conflicting with the construction and operation of a rail station, for several reasons.

    The most obvious is that the 28.5 foot crosswise spacing between the three sets of columns (one one each side of and one holding up the middle of the Big Bus Station in the Sky) have absolutely no relationship to the spacing of passenger-serving, train-serving platforms in the basement of the building.

    Any child could see that with ~9m width platforms, ~4.5m track spacing and ~1.7m track to platform edge clearance, you’re going to have an ~17m span between the centres of the three island platforms. That’s more like 56 feet than 52 feet. The result is that the dense, human-hostile, circulation-hostile forest of thick structural columns ends up pushed up against one side of two of the platforms, narrowing an already marginal tight circulation path down far past unacceptability.

    http://mly.users.sonic.net/caltrain-hsr.blogspot.com/Classy-dropped-ceilings.jpg

    Why 52 foot column spacing? “Just because”. Nobody thought about it, nobody ever — EVER — did any design, nobody thought about anything for even a microsecond. I asked the chief ARUP engineer associated with the project about this several times over the course of nearly a decade. He never had any answer, but agreed that it wasn’t driven by structural necessity or anything other than “inertia.”

    Note that Hines and the so-called “architects” associated with the “winning” “design” of the laughable so-called Transbay “architectural competition” (in reality just a no-design cash shakedown), Pelli Clarke Pelli Architects, never changed this structural grid, never questioned it, never did anything but, quite literally, slap some lipstick on the pig, but whacking an unusable and massively heavy park up on top of the Big Bus Station in the Sky, and making the above-ground outside columns fan out in a dendritic shape. Woo hoo!

    The second issue, closely related to the first, is that the 5/6 foot diameter, rigidly 52 foot spaced columns marching along the (sides) of the platforms do not admit useable vertical circulation carrying human beings to and from the trains.

    If you look at any — at ANY, without exception — modern rail passenger transportation facility, you’ll always — ALWAYS — find paired banks of escalators to and from the station platforms, generally flanked by or flanking wide stairways.

    This ensures that any escalator bank can be used for both arriving and departing passengers, reducing crowding on the platform due to people making their way along the platform in order to find an escalator heading in the correct direction.

    Anywhere in the world — ANYWHERE ELSE, barring historical exceptions — you get off the train, walk to the closest escalator, and you get yourself up up and away.

    But at Transbay Terminal, the marvellous structural grid and the marvellous forest of columns do not allow two escalators, let alone escalators and stairs, to sit side by side. Firstly because the columns are not centred in the platforms; secondly because the columns are so wide that they uselessly consume 20% of the platform width alone; thirdly because, even granting such nonsense, the “designers” and “engineers” of the “train station” chose — chose — not to undertake the structural modification of “skipping” a number of columns to make room for escalators (entailing transferring load to adjacent ones; hardly infeasible.)

    So, again, this is what you get: http://mly.users.sonic.net/caltrain-hsr.blogspot.com/Classy-dropped-ceilings.jpg

    Here’s, in comparison, is what non-cretins designing real stations for real passengers come up with:
    http://mly.users.sonic.net/caltrain-hsr.blogspot.com/La-Sagrera-rodalies-andanes.jpg (this is Barcelona La Sagrera)
    Or this http://mly.users.sonic.net/caltrain-hsr.blogspot.com/HS2-proposed-Euston-concourse.jpg (proposed HS2 terminus London Euston.)
    Or this http://www.flickr.com/photos/28888420@N07/3277880381/sizes/l/ (Berlin Hauptbahnhof)
    Note the paired escalators.
    Note the structural columns (where present) do not conflict with the escalators.
    Note the structural columns do not conflict with and obstruct passenger circulation.
    Note also the lack of an oppressive, unnecessary, full-plate overlying subterranean “mezzanine level” completely blocking off all views to and from the train level and creating a dank, unpleasant, constricted subterranean warren (ala NY Penn) rather than a human-oriented passenger facility.

    But it gets better. Because escalators aren’t banked together, nearly double the number of escalators are provided along the platform length (presumably half going up and half going down, but don’t count on it!) That means that even more of the circulation space and passenger waiting space of the already-marginal platforms is chewed up by escalators (and elevators, and fire escapes, and fucking obscenely huge closely-spaced structural columns). http://mly.users.sonic.net/caltrain-hsr.blogspot.com/Classy-dropped-ceilings2.jpg

    So you end up, not with a passenger platform designed to serve passengers who seek to quickly and pleasantly get on and off trains, but instead a miserable subterranean warren, strictly an afterthought wedged into the basement of a bunch of supporting columns for a big bus station in the sky, 100 feet or so above.

    Death is far, far, FAR too kind a fate for anybody involved in this fiasco.

    You’ll note that in their PR material, the TJPA consistently misrepresented the horrific subterranean catastrophe their “engineers” and “architects” were “designing”:

    http://mly.users.sonic.net/caltrain-hsr.blogspot.com/20100225-TJPA-PR-video-platform-circulation-misrepresentation.jpg
    http://mly.users.sonic.net/caltrain-hsr.blogspot.com/20091210-TJPA-ED-report-platform-circulation-misrepresentation.jpg

    And note that I haven’t even touched on the absolutely crippling train circulation and throughput constraints of this sub-cretinous “design”. Add that to the miserable and slow passenger non-circulation and congestion, and we’re talking a six billion dollar fiasco with less than half the rail passenger-per-hour throughput that would easily have been possible with minor modifications, minor amounts of thought, and significantly lower cost (because of less excavation)
    http://mly.users.sonic.net/TTT-2008/200805.dxf.o.pdf

    So, no, it really is true that the TBT wasn’t and isn’t designed for rail service.

    It’s going to suck down about six billion of your dollars by the time they’re done leeching extra cash and extra taxes for this fiasco, and it’s never going to work. I mean, they’re planning (“planning”) to have an entirely separate second train terminal occupying three full, potentially developable, blocks of SF real estate (Fourth to Seventh, Townsend to King) just because they know that that can’t run trains into and out of the train-hostile basement of the Big Bus Station in the Sky. Death is far too kind a fate.

    joe Reply:

    ” Death is far, far, FAR too kind a fate for anybody involved in this fiasco”

    You are nuts.

    Nathanael Reply:

    Richard is overwrought, but it is genuinely true that the TBT was designed with no intention of train service.

    There was a actually a big fight about redesigning it so that it would be POSSIBLE to put a train box in the basement. They were originally planning to break ground and build the building in a way which would PRECLUDE all train service. You can look this up in newspaper archives.

    Nathanael Reply:

    …this is one reason I say that SF political culture is seriously broken. In a lot of cities, they would have specified train service as a first priority; there are cities which have built train stations, rerouted buses to them, cleared ROW, and rearranged their downtowns years before they managed to actually get train service. (When they get train service, then, it works very well.)

    In contrast, SF?

    VBobier Reply:

    Prop1a says the TBT in SF to Union Station in LA, so the TBT has to be connected to HSR and to Caltrain to serve downtown SF properly. The TBT is the modern version of the LA Union Station since SF doesn’t have one currently.

    jonathan Reply:

    No. The TBT, as designed and being built, is a modern version of … the Chicago Blue Line Division statoin.
    It’s a really really bad, ugly design, and no way comparable to, say, LA Union Station., or Dunedin railway station in Dunedin, New Zealand (both in the most beautiful railway stations in the world).

    Elizabeth Reply:

    The plans for Transbay give 4 tracks to high speed rail and 2 to Caltrain, even though Caltrain is planning to run more trains.

    Adina Reply:

    Aha. That data is from Caltrain’s “proof of concept” analysis that showed that the blended system was basically feasible. The schedule used in that analysis wasn’t intended to be *the* timetable used for the service.

    That said, these scenarios don’t make much sense and would benefit from changing.

    Elizabeth Reply:

    In virtually any scenario one can come up with the local train service is going to have more demand than the long distance one. The plans for transbay are starting to be cast in concrete. Until and unless a decision is made soon to commit to common platform heights Caltrain will not have the access it needs to Transbay.

    Elizabeth Reply:

    The proof of concept analysis by the way assumed that Transbay did not exist at all – that analysis is still coming.

    Nathanael Reply:

    Makes sense, given that the Transbay proof of concepts assumed that Transbay would have no provisions for rail service and would prevent rail service from ever going to it.

    Jim Reply:

    Platforms can be reconstructed to different heights. Since HSR hasn’t yet made a decision on platform height, the initial construction can be all low platforms. If and when HSR is ready to connect to the SJ end of the Caltrain tracks and has made a platform height decision the platforms allocated to HSR can be raised to whatever that height is.

    Clem Reply:

    And then what happens, you cut Caltrain transbay service by two thirds? Brilliant plan.

    This is the sort of situation that calls for advance planning and inter-agency coordination, something that our local transit industrial complex is demonstrably incapable of. Why do it right when, as you advocate, we can do it twice?

    Nathanael Reply:

    Caltrain needs to have vehicles which platform at the same height as the HSR vehicles. Nothing else makes sense. As you know. I’m not sure what the hell the Caltrain management is thinking, but then, as “Peninsula Rail 2010″ writes above:

    “Caltrain has a long history of being dragged down by poor leadership and a very awkward political structure.”

    “Remember, however, Caltrain isn’t its own agency,…thus the awkward JPB structure and Samtrans management.”

    flowmotion Reply:

    Clem — I understand your rational angst, but HSR is not going to arrive at the TBT until 2029, and that’s the best case scenario assuming funding and environmental clearances which don’t currently exist. The whole Caltrain issue is such a basket case that the politicians have a punted on it, Quentin Kopp will be dead, and it will be up to the next generation of pols to really figure it out. HSR will have its hands full building into Los Angeles anyway.

    Meanwhile, there will be real political pressure from businesses and riders to improve Caltrain service downtown. Will they figure out something? I thinking they’ll have to, because people won’t put up with 2/3s empty TBT waiting for a HSR train that may never arrive.

    And yeah, they probably will need to reconstruct some platforms.

    Elizabeth Reply:

    People put up with all sorts of things – don’t use this your planning methodology.

    joe Reply:

    http://www.calhsr.com/?s=Caltrain+

    I don’t see any any mention of platform height at CARRD

    A healthy Caltrain is important. Why not mention it and link to Clem’sblog posts?

    BruceMcF Reply:

    Their scenario when adding the HSR to the planning the TBT box was the locals going to the TBT and the Caltrain Express services stopping at 4th and King. So its not like this planned underutilization of the TBT for regional rail service is anything new.

    Richard Mlynarik Reply:

    Adina,

    How much do they pay you to unconditionally approve of anything, no matter how bat shit insane it is, or how often they have been proven to be outright, systematic liars?

    Please fund Caltrain! Please fund VTA! Because, uh, well, just because!

    Adina Reply:

    Richard, there are plenty of things in this world to be depressed and hostile about. There’s the global water supply. There’s middle east politics. Why pick Bay Area transit?

    Richard Mlynarik Reply:

    Adina,

    There are plenty of corporations in the world you could be carrying water for. There’s Philip Morris. There’s Exxon. There’s BP. There’s Blackwater. Why pick Parsons Brinkerhoff and the Silicon Valley Leadership Coalition?

    Neil Shea Reply:

    You are such an asshole Richard

    Miles Bader Reply:

    worse: he’s a fanboy…

    Clem Reply:

    Why get so worked up over a funny, acerbic retort? I’m sure even Adina got a chuckle out of it.

    Adina Reply:

    certainly don’t take it seriously. I guess it’s an honor to play a bit part in the grand intergalactic conspiracy theory.

    Nathanael Reply:

    VTA may have the worst performing light rail system in the country…. but it’s still an improvement over the all-bus system they had before. (Sigh.)

    Richard Mlynarik Reply:

    Ah, no. Tasman “light” rail is worse in every way than the bus line it replaced.

    Winston Reply:

    San Jose’s light rail system really is a clusterfuck. When I worked along Tasman I took a bus that paralleled it. The bus worked better.

    Nathanael Reply:

    By saying “Tasman” you seem to be criticizing one particular part of the system.

    Which one? Apparently not the First Street route or the Vasona Extension to Winchester.

    Clem Reply:

    The link above pre-dates the “blended” plan by several years. It is from Appendix K of the peninsula project EIR’s Analysis of Alternatives. It shows Caltrain’s maximum dream of 10 tph rush hour schedule, assumed as an input for conservatism in the environmental analysis. This is what had originally justified the requirement for four-tracks-everywhere, my-tracks, your-tracks, segregated-and-un-blended, crazy abortion of a plan. Search for “appendix K” on my blog for more on this sad story.

    Adina Reply:

    ok then I read the wrong attachment. either way, it’s not a real schedule now.

    Joey Reply:

    Segregated platforms with only two for CalTrain still impose a permanent, or at least long-term capacity limit.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    It makes it harder for the Caltrain cooties to jump onto the HSR trains. And makes the Caltrain cars less envious of the HSR cars.

    Richard Mlynarik Reply:

    It’s a real, massive capacity constraint, being cast into concrete by your very very very very very special friends at TJPA, MTC, and PCJPB.

    Fund Caltrain! Fund VTA! Because they double-pink-promise they won’t fuck up next time!

    Reality Check Reply:

    I’m guessing this means full TSA security theater is envisioned for HSR platforms, but not for the Caltrain platforms and that’s another reason (or *the* reason) why they’re planning non-shared platforms at TTT and elsewhere on the not-really-fully-blended Caltrain corridor.

    Reality Check Reply:

    Further, if HSR really justified security theater, then why doesn’t Caltrain? Or vice versa, if Caltrain doesn’t, they why does HSR? Hint: it’s not needed on either. See also: proof-of-payment, screening/barrier-free platform, track & signal-sharing between ICE and other trains in Germany.

    Clem Reply:

    Also note, Madrid Atocha bombs all went off on packed commuter trains, not AVE

    Reality Check Reply:

    Makes good sense if your looking to get the most “bang” for your bomb. By-reservation AVEs should never get as packed as peak-period SRO commuter trains.

    Reality Check Reply:

    Whoops, “your” should’a been “you’re”.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    London’s bombs went off on the Underground. London is a paranoid city with a plague of surveillance cameras, including one right in front of the building George Orwell used to live in, but it’s not doing any security theater on its trains.

    thatbruce Reply:

    @Alon Levy:

    but it’s (London) not doing any security theater on its trains.

    Except for Eurostar, but that’s driven by immigration/customs, not out of ‘protecting’ the trains or passengers.

    jonathan Reply:

    “No pointless security-theatre, please; we’re British”.

    William Reply:

    maybe not every luggage needed to be scanned, but I think HSR Police should be given power to scan suspicious people and luggage. Putting such scanner in the open area is much better then putting it in some back room…

    jonathan Reply:

    Surely it’s more important to scan “suspicious people and uggage” on Caltrain or Metrolink, or (perhaps even more so) BART? More people, more crowded, especially at peak commute times.

    And if we aren’t scanning luggage on BART or Caltrain or Muni, why do so for HSR?

    Alon Levy Reply:

    NYPD is actually scanning suspicious people on the subway. By complete coincidence, I’ve never been subjected to random search, while a friend who’s tall, thickly bearded, and ambiguously brown (he’s Italian, but could pass for Arab) has been multiple times.

  4. missiondweller
    Jul 23rd, 2012 at 23:03
    #4

    With all respect, I believe that LA is trying to catch up to the Bay Area. BART ihas high ridership and SF Muni is packed every day.

    Andy Chow Reply:

    The LA bus system has more boarding than San Francisco, so there’s nothing that LA needs to catch up.

    Roger Christensen Reply:

    And Metro’s 362,000 rail boardings isn’t chopped liver.

    Miles Bader Reply:

    Not exactly world-class either, tho…

    Winston Reply:

    L.A.’s rail system is currently pretty limited, but they’re investing very heavily in it. They are now the second largest light rail operator (by ridership) in the U.S. after Boston and should surpass Boston in about 5 years. Unfortunately, the extension of the red line is pretty far off unless they can figure out how to issue bonds to accelerate its construction. Based on everyone’s plans, it will be about 25 years till one can reasonably say that L.A. has a better rail system than the Bay Area in most ways that matter.

    Matt Reply:

    LA Rail system at 362k boardings is not far behind BART (maybe 30k boardings). Now Measure R projects are starting to get under way (Foothill Line which won’t have many boardings, Expo 2 to S. Monica which will have a lot of boardings, Crenshaw Line just started utility relocation and the Regional Connector which is just getting going. Purple Line should start in about a year or so.

    America Fast Forward, championed by Mayor Villaraigosa was adopted by Congress in the latest Trans. bill. It won’t be enough to accelerate all the Measure R projects, but it will for some including the Purple Line most likely. In 7-8 years with the above projects completed, LA rail could have quite a ridership and will likely exceed BART and even BART plus Muni light rail

    Winston Reply:

    Ridership: SF bay, L.A.
    Light Rail: 165K*, 167K
    Heavy Rail: 384K, 148K
    Com Rail: 42K*, 43K

    *Add 34K riders for VTA light rail and ACE to be really fair, since L.A. is so large.

    So L.A. is behind SF by about 233K riders not including Santa Clara and 267K behind if you include it. The Expo line should add about 60K riders, Crenshaw about 20K, and a similar nmber for the regional connector. You also get about 15K riders for the gold line extensions coming in the next 5 years. L.A. would close the gap in about 10 years at this rate assuming the Bay Area builds nothing, but it isn’t building nothing.
    By then the Bay Area will have 10K riders from ebart, 30K from BART to the San Jose Flea market (I’m guessing about 5k boardings at each new station + about 15K new boardings elsewhere for people to make their return trips), and 20K from the Central Subway. So the bay area will gain about 60K riders from its new projects in the same time, leaving a gap of like 200K daily riders (actually less, since it seems like the ridership on L.A. older rail lines is faster than that of the Bay Area).
    IF and it’s a big IF Metro manages to get the bond funding it wants then all bets are off. If that happens then L.A. really could have significantly more rail riders than the Bay Area. I also think that L.A.’s new rail projects seem better thought out than the Bay Area projects, so I don’t mean to diminish L.A.s efforts, just to emphasize how much work they have to do.

    synonymouse Reply:

    I will be truly surprised if the Central Suxway does that well. It is a mish-mash of the #30 and the #15 with all sorts of technical shortcomings.

    Gerry Cauthen’s idea of running trolleybuses in it as well made a lot of sense. It would hell on wheels to talk those people on Chestnut St. in the Marina to let the tracks back now for a reborn F line.

    Matt Reply:

    Winston,

    Your figures are a little old. BART had 367k riders in June and LA MetroRail had 362k in June (part of Expo Phase I was open in June so that has narrowed the gap). Yes, you can add SF Muni riders of which some are just tourists going for a cable car ride and San Jose VTA. That means a difference of just 200k riders even adding in VTA and ACE. The difference may be even less in July now that the full Expo Phase I will be counted for an entire month. I’m not going to count the Orange or Silver Lines as those are rapid bus lines, but there was an extension of the Orange Line to Chatsworth Metrolink done on June 30 as well.

    Yes, the Bay Area will be adding to their total during the rest of the decade, but you also forgot the two most important projects in LA. The Regional Connector expected to open in 2019 and the Westside Subway which will go to La Cienaga even without bond funding by 2019. That is roughly 50k riders right there. America Fast Forward passed by Congress last month already allows bond funding for some of the Measure R projects, but not all. It is likely that the subway can be completed to Westwood by 2022. That will be a game changer.

    Winston Reply:

    All my figures are APTA Q1 2012 figures. I chose those deliberately so that I could daily riderships averaged over a reasonable time and so that I could be sure I had the same time period for all systems for a fair comparison. Also, I didn’t forget the Regional connector – I assumed it would attract 20K additional boardings. As for the subway, I did omit that, however I don’t think the 2019 opening date is realistic. Again, I don’t think that there will be more rail users in L.A. than in the bay area in 2022, but it will be much closer than it is today.

    flowmotion Reply:

    Disagree, Muni Metro is a world-class clusterfuck.

    synonymouse Reply:

    TWU 250A is a big part of Muni’s problems plus recent distressing incompetence, much more than traditional. Undergrounding the N on Duboce and extending the Sunset Tunnel to the west side of UCSF would be a vastly better expenditure than Rose Pak’s iteration of the Suxway.

    I just prefer streetcars – don’t think I am the only one – if it were up to me I would lay in a new line into Market down 11th St. and out either on San Bruno or Potrero.

    Jon Reply:

    How’s running streetcars down San Bruno going to work when it’s dissected by 101 and SFGH?

    If we’re going to build the Central Subway, we may as well make better use of it by running two lines through it rather than one. Create a H-Potrero line which heads south from Chinatown, takes a right on Brannan after surfacing from the subway, then a left on Potrero to 25th st. You could continue south on Bayshore but it’s diminishing returns at that point.

    synonymouse Reply:

    Not bad.

    Mission Street may offer some possibilities as well. Relaying tracks or a subway from Van Ness inbound.

    3rd & Kearny is so much superior to 4th and Stockton – it would have been a easy turn into the Broadway Tunnel and then a deep bore to Fillmore and Lombard.

    Nathanael Reply:

    I wish I had not lost the link to the article on SF political culture, explaining that the people in power do not WANT to fix Muni — or anything else really. The culture appears to be a combination of complacency and”throw money at it”, combined with an unwillingness to offend *any* entrenched group.

    The scheme by which the SF police department loots money from Muni is tolerated by everyone in power, for instance.

    I don’t really get it, but the article writer appeared to get it. I wish I could remember the article name.

    He described SF political culture as one where you say good things about the homeless and mouth words of support for organizations which support them… but you also don’t make any serious effort to find them homes or jobs.

    Jon Reply:

    You mean, pretending to care while not actually giving a fuck?

    That goes on to a certain extent in all political cultures, but it is amazing how San Francisco will vote for anyone who appears to be “one of us” (i.e. socially liberal) without requiring them to actually get anything done.

    Jon Reply:

    Also, a long term project should be to sort out the cluster at Church & Market. There are three underground and three surface rail lines there, and all the surface rail lines use different stops!

    Underground the N along Duboce, with (optionally) a subway station at Duboce Park. Build a new turnout from the Market St subway just before Church St, heading south under Church and surfacing just south of 18th in Dolores Park. Build a new J stop here, which would be the first one after Van Ness- you could even rehabilitate the old stop under the bridge at 19th St. This would speed up service on the N and J while still leaving the Church & Market area with a fast ride to downtown on the K/L/M, and good local service on the F.

    Phase 2 would be to underground the N from the west portal of the Sunset tunnel to Judah & 9th.

    flowmotion Reply:

    Besides the union and incompetent operation, the whole idea of funneling streetcar traffic into the Market St subway is the biggest reason Metro will never work right. The trains can’t be timed, and therefore clogs are unavoidable.

    The only real fix is to build a completely closed subway system. Extend out the N and the M subways, and leave the rest of the trollies on the street. They should even consider turning the whole subway system over to BART, after all the stations are built for 10 car trains.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    Vancouver has 400,000 rail boardings. And I have to tell you, Hollywood North isn’t exactly the same size class as Hollywood Classic.

    bixnix Reply:

    Metro will be passing that within a year ….

    Alon Levy Reply:

    Vancouver’s going up as well. The plan is to build a suburban subway extension in the next 4 years, and another one replacing North America’s busiest bus line afterward.

    But the fact that you’re even comparing LA to Vancouver shows how much catching up LA has ahead of it. LA shouldn’t be saying “We’ll pass Vancouver next year.” It shouldn’t even be thinking about Vancouver. Dangle 400,000 daily boardings in front of a New Yorker and he’ll tell you how it’s about one half the Lexington Line.

    bixnix Reply:

    I’d like to take the credit for the comparison, but someone else brought up Vancouver. My own point of view is that L.A. County had zero train riders in the car capital of the U.S. just twenty-two years ago, and is growing very well for such a young system in the U.S, and there is still plenty of room to grow ridership. 400,000 boardings is just the beginning for L.A.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    Vancouver isn’t an old-rail city like San Francisco. Skytrain opened in 1985, and was a one-line operation until 2002.

    Nathanael Reply:

    LA had the political fight from hell on its hands when it started. But it has the right *attitude*. Which SF doesn’t.

    This gets back to a rant I read by someone from Cleveland. (Another one I didn’t keep a link to.) He said, paraphrasing, “What’s wrong with Cleveland? What’s wrong is that we think we’re good enough. I go to Columbus and they know they have problems, so they are working hard to improve things. I go to New York and they think they’re great but they know others are hot on their tail, so they’re going to keep working to become even better. I go to Cleveland and we’re “good enough”. As a result we stay the same while everyone else gets better, and so people leave and we sink further behind.”

    synonymouse Reply:

    Cleveland is down the toilet. I understand gamblers are being discouraged from going to teh new HIgbees downtown casino at nite by gangs roaming the streets.

    Columbus sucks too. Like a vampire it lives off the rest of the state and is run by a handful of ritchie riches.

    Miles Bader Reply:

    Wait, isn’t gangs roaming the streets pretty much normal for a U.S. city/town?

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    …yes you should see the gangs of Yuppies and DINKs in Saratoga Springs this time of year.

    Nathanael Reply:

    Look at the trends, though. SF is flatlining and going down. LA is going up. This is probably because LA is building the lines which need to be built.

    If Muni were building a Geary line in SF, I would be more optimistic about SF.

    Richard Mlynarik Reply:

    Muni (on behalf of PBQD) is funding only those scams that have maximum capital price (ka-ching!) while increasing operating costs and having negligible or negative effect on ridership.

    Significantly increasing transit mode share within San Francisco (and, much less significantly in absolute terms, to/from the Peninsula and to/from North Bay) is a trivial matter. Our local overlords choose not to do so.

    It’s really that simple.

    Winston Reply:

    The Bay Area in general has been doing a poor job of designing transit improvements. Especially in San Francisco where they can’t even manage to build a bus lane with less than a decade of farting around.

    Nathanael Reply:

    It is NOT on behalf of PBQD. You have to look deeper into SF political culture. Why is the police department allowed to leech funds from Muni? What is going ON in SF political culture?

    Nathanael Reply:

    “Our local overlords choose not to do so.”

    This is true, but I believe you are fundamentally wrong as to *why* they choose not to do so. They choose not to do so because in SF the political culture does not reward them for actually improving things. Why is that?

    synonymouse Reply:

    To make the case that LA is overall doing better all you have to do is cite the Central Suxway. The only example that I know of in LA that approaches that level of incompetence is constructing a low–income highrise housing block at the mouth of the PE Hollywood Hills tunnel. The Tehachapi Grande DeTour is a regional scandal extending all the way to Sin City.

    PE’s Long Beach line did survive until 1961 and the narrow-gauge LARy streetcars until 1963 so LA traction did last longer than in many places. And don’t forget the only thing that saved SF’s last few streetcar lines was the too-narrow-for-buses Twin Peaks Tunnel and Charlie Miller’s coup in purchasing St. Louis pcc’s getting around the city charter.

    My understanding is that General Motors’ lobbyists were hopelessly incompetent and stupidly underspent in their anti-BART election campaign at the inception.

  5. voting4rail
    Jul 23rd, 2012 at 23:16
    #5

    So is the underground 4th & king station still gonna be built? And competing with finishing bart to san jose? As I recall it VTA is funding this with a sales tax and the DTX could be finished before bart to santa clara. I’m still hoping money comes for geary in my opinion screw the BRT idea as it won’t meet future demand.

    Joey Reply:

    The Geary buses currently serve 56 000 people each day (number might be a little out of date but meh). The buses as they are are slow (even the 38L) and crowded. I have no doubt that the corridor could easily support a full subway which would yield high ridership (accounting for existing ridership, diverted car trips, induced demand, and a little ridership leeching off of other nearby bus lines).

    synonymouse Reply:

    Subway-surface has been mooted since the thirties, when unfortunately the bond issue failed, due mostly by opposition from the private Market St. Rwy.

    I’d at least convert to trolleybus immediately on Geary.

    But you know what’s probably stopping it. I suspect Moronics of the purest pedigree – they secretly want and plan to somehow sell off the Geary Carhouse-Presidio property. Sounds ridiculous? You can’t conceive of how stupid these kingpin wheeler-dealer types are. Selling off the carhouse real estate was one of the sidelights of the ripping up of the Sf rail lines from 1946 to 1950.

    Petrinis Grocery took the site of the carhouse serving the #5 – the line crossed the property at an angle from one street to the other.

    Joey Reply:

    It’s more than just the grocery store, or did you miss the housing complex built on top of it (don’t feel bad though, I used to go to school near there). Shame too … the buses are now forced to negotiate sharp street corners, and this somewhat precludes its conversion back to rail … not that every bus line should be converted to rail, but the 5 has enough ridership that it might be justified eventually … after a lot of other priorities are done…

    Miles Bader Reply:

    What is considered sufficient ridership to make a subway worthwhile…?

    Richard Mlynarik Reply:

    Depends on the construction and operating costs and on the viability of alternatives.

    In California, that means pretty much “never”, except in a few very limited strategic sections.

    The ridership is dismal by any global standard, the construction costs are out of this world, the operating costs only ever increase over “inefficient” buses, and the surface alternatives are, almost uniformly, plentiful and feasible.

    We’re not talking congested medieval cities here. We’re talking hugely sprawling conurbations built around massively wide thoroughfares, with nearly half of some “cities” given over to streets and parking.

    Keep the buses and trams on the streets with the humans. Move just a tiny fraction of the private automobiles out of the way and onto close-by alternate (and still over-wide) routes . That’s pretty much the story everywhere west of New York City.

    Nathanael Reply:

    One proposal, which seems reasonable is center-running light rail west of (roughly) Gough, where there’s gobs of space for a fast center-running ROW, and subway east of (roughly) Gough. This has been proposed since, when, the 1930s maybe? I’m not sure exactly where to go once you get as far east as Market Street; but the Central Stubway makes the problem a lot harder.

    synonymouse Reply:

    The Stubway? Very inventive, sir. And why turn onto Columbus – it just has to be a stream bed.

    I’d estimate there are about five grosso modo alternatives, apart from the existing curbside loading articulated diesel bus service.

    1. BRT down the median of the Blvd. section.
    2. Low floor 3 section articulateds running curbside throughout.
    4. Subway-surface ramping up around Gough and proceeding down the median. You will need some kind of pedestrian safety improvements on the Blvd.
    5. Trolley coaches.

    I believe you could cross at the mezzanine level at Market, 3rd & Kearny and on top of the “Stubway” on Stockton.

    Meanwhile here is a link to an article calling for “ungilding” streetcars:

    http://www.railwayage.com/index.php/blogs/lyndon-henry/rapid-streetcar-concept-gaining-ground.html?channel=#.UBF5RqAtMYI

    Curious he does not mention the hollow-core addiction, as exemplified by Honolulu neo-BART. Wait until kama’ainaland gets a load of that aerial screech, squeal, hiss and rumble that defines the BART experience.

  6. Andrew
    Jul 24th, 2012 at 00:05
    #6

    They should cancel the so-called “Transbay Terminal” forthwith, put the HSR Station at the current Caltrain terminal at 4th and King, build SF & Central Bay Area mass transit around that hub (including a new transbay tube for BART and SF-Sacramento HSR), and simply sit back and watch SF’s center of gravity shift toward it:

    https://maps.google.com/maps/ms?msid=205242278980764848338.0004ab223e52369e94c0d&msa=0&ll=37.783696,-122.423468&spn=0.066749,0.11055

    The 4th and King location is far more sensible than the “Transbay Terminal,” which in fact rules out a new transbay tube (building foundations are in the way!), and indeed would be more poorly connected with the City itself. The 4th and King location offers far better connection possibilities, as shown in the map above. Moreover, because of its proximity to the I-280 terminus, this location is easily accessible by car or taxi from the south or southwest. By contrast, the “Transbay” Terminal has no direct interchange with I-280, water transit, the Central Subway, or even Muni Metro or BART (?!) Amazingly, extending HSR up to the “Transbay Terminal” would cost billions extra while actually making for a SLOWER trip for most riders! Let’s save those billions and put them towards a new transbay tube to 4th and King, an area with far more room for future growth. The location of SF’s HSR Station should be chosen for the future — not for the past.

    Two new BART lines could extend west from the new transbay tube, connecting all 4 transbay BART lines with HSR (no need for the long transfer hike!) and with Central/ Western SF. The lines would separate beyond Showplace Square into the Park Line (westbound) and the Marina Line (northbound), accommodating the full capacity of the four lines crossing over from the East Bay and giving Park, Marina, and Presidio access to residents of the Peninsula, South Bay, East Bay, and HSR cities further afield. They would not only reduce travel time b/t Central/Western SF and HSR, the East Bay, and the Peninsula (via Caltrain), but also connect Central/Western SF with AT&T Park and the new arena planned for Piers 30-32.

    The new lines would intersect with the original BART line near the Central Freeway, giving northbound BART passengers easy access to HSR, Golden Gate Park, and SF’s northern shore.

    A new “Midtown Market” BART at Market & Duboce could link with six Muni Metro lines, providing easy HSR, East Bay and Caltrain access to residents of central and western SF. An extension from Midtown Market toward GG Park would create a hill-less bike path connecting Central and SE SF with the Park and Western neighborhoods, following the route of a Park Panhandle extension originally proposed in 1928 (see Wikipedia: The Wiggle).

    Jon Reply:

    Yeah, we’ve heard this argument before. It basically amounts to saying, ‘if we built a new BART tube and several new BART lines that pass through 4th & King, it would be better connected than Transbay!’ And indeed it would, but back in reality, Transbay is where the financial district is and a mere block from the four BART lines that exist today. Your proposal is nothing more than lines on a map.

    Andrew Reply:

    …and back in your world, you need to raise $650m in local money to build a dead-end tunnel to travel at an absurdly slow pace to a location with no BART, no Muni, no Central Subway, no water transit, no parking, terrible car/taxi access, and no room to build anything. And the 4 BART lines that run 250 meters to the north would fall ever further behind their actual peak-hour capacity because they all must wait their turn to pass through a single tunnel.

    Jon Reply:

    $650m is a lot less than the $50b+ of new infrastructure that would be required for your proposal.

    Seems like the crime of Transbay in your eyes is that it goes where the jobs and businesses are located, which is the same reason why most people support the idea.

    VBobier Reply:

    He doesn’t like it for 1 reason among other unknown ones, jobs in the financial sector, as in Banks, mortgage brokers, etc…

    flowmotion Reply:

    Where to start with this? It’s not just trying to replace $1B of Caltrain improvements with $50B of BART, nor attempting to move San Francisco’s 150 year-old business district to a new location, it’s your proposal of a 12 story building at Market & Duboce which will send NIMBYs over to break your knee-caps.

    Andrew Reply:

    if they can have six muni metro lines and the city’s biggest thoroughfare passing through their neighborhood, I think they can handle a 12-story building.

    flowmotion Reply:

    It won’t happen, trust me.

    Miles Bader Reply:

    Wait, why would anybody care about a 12-story building there?

    … from what I can see on google street view, it’s not exactly a beautiful / classic / pleasant / residential neighborhood of the sort you’d expect nimbyism in. In fact it looks kind of trashy, the sort of place you’d expect to find used-car lots in…

    Moreover, it already seems to have some tallish buildings…

    flowmotion Reply:

    Building height is a major NIMBY issue in this backyard; see the Market-Octavia plan & and even that would be optimistic when it comes to actual project approval. And yes, it is a very nice neighborhood 200 yards away from the Safeway, so fuck you :)

    More likely, the Safeway property would be redeveloped into a more ped-oriented street facing property with some 5-6 story condos.

    PS: It’s neat how your BART line almost exactly follows one of the Panhandle Freeway proposals.

    Andy M. Reply:

    Furthermore, how many big cities can you name that have their main rail station bang in the middle of the main business and financial district. It’s still a brisk walk from London’s Waterloo to the financial and banking district. In Paris, all the main stations (leaving RER and Orsay aside for now) are about equally far from the main centers. If you go to Berlin Hauptbahnhof you’ll find there’s nothing there that looks vaguely like Berlin, the distant skyline apart. Barcelona HS trains stop at Sants and will also stop at Sagrera. Unless you’re interested in fascistoid 1960s architecture there’s not much to be seen at either location. Meanwhile Catalunya and Paseo de Gracia, serving the real epicenter of Barcelona, get only commuter trains. Is this bad design, or is it actually good design? People arriving by HS train will want to continue to different destinations across the city and indeed in its broader environs. Hence such a station should be a node of metro and suburban services, with the businesses of the surrounding streets being primarily businesses that cater to rail travellers (why do archtects insist on putting such shops inside the station and so eating valuable operational space when they could be across the street?) rather than having to compete with the businesses they should actually be serving?

    Rather than putting major terminals bang in the middle of cities, the goal should be to make those cities more inherently walkable, thus shrinking the distances.

    Andy M. Reply:

    Let me add to that, and advise you if you ever visist Paris Gare de L’Est, to take a moment and stand in front of the monumental grand facade. And the turn round and look towards Paris. In front of you you will see a massive broad boulevard. It could easily have taken a multi-track railroad. And the amazing thing is, the Boulevard de Strasbourg was built at the same time as the station. So on the one side of the station they were clearing a massive swathe of land (oh yes, all that was densely built on at least as far as La Villette) to take the railroad tracks into the station, and on the other side, they were clearing a similarly wide swathe of land onwards into the center of Paris. I often used to wonder, seeing they were clearing all that land anyway and throwing all those people out of their homes, why didn’t they run the trains further into the city and build Gare de L’Est right bang in the heart of Paris (it’s not called gare de L’Est because it’s in the east, it’s called Est because that was the name of the railroad that built it BTW, a piece of trvia many overlook). But the reason is, even in those days, they were aware that a railroad station would attract traffic in its own right and so add to congestion. And so it was deemed wiser to allow train passeners heading for the center to continue the final leg of their journey on foot or by charabanc along the glorious Boulevard de Strasbourg.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    Or maybe they built the boulevard because they wanted inner Paris to be a city of grand boulevards. Much of the congestion you talk about comes precisely because of passengers who have to continue onward from the train station. In London they had this problem early, and had to build the Underground to connect passengers from the biggest train stations to the City, though it’s worth noting that some of the train stations are in or right next to the City, just not the biggest ones (Waterloo, Euston, etc.). In Paris the purpose of the RER was to do the same with suburban rail. The reason for the lack of intercity service to the center is that intercity service requires more platforms, and that’s hard to fit into a new-build subway. Cities that did it right early, like Tokyo, do have their intercity stations right at the center.

    Andrew Reply:

    Tokyo Station is today the primary intercity hub for Tokyo, but before it was built the area around it was lonely indeed. If Tokyo had followed the logic of the Transbay Terminal, they would have made all the Tokaido shinkansen run into an impassable wall of buildings in Shinbashi so that everybody would have to walk to the Ginza or catch a bus to Ueno.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    Um, what? Nihonbashi was the center of Tokyo before it built its rail network. Marunouchi was the seat of the city government 20 years before Tokyo Station was built. Meanwhile, Shinbashi was the Paris-style station built at first, before JNR connected it with Iidabashi (and later Ueno).

    Andrew Reply:

    Lesson learned: Step on Alon’s turf and await the caustic prepubescent sarcasm.

    Even Tokyo illustrates Andy M’s principle, because when Tokyo Station was planned, the area around it was not the main center of business activity. Nihonbashi was a vital center nearby, but for years the Station did not even have a door facing in that direction. Tokyo built its city offices in Marunouchi in 1894, five years AFTER it planned the train line that would serve Tokyo Station. The plans for Tokyo Station were approved in 1896, prior to the main post-feudal development of this area.

    Miles Bader Reply:

    Lesson learned: Step on Alon’s turf and await the caustic prepubescent sarcasm.

    The Pot makes his opinion known … :/

    Alon Levy Reply:

    Do you know what the word “Sarcasm” means?

    Now, you can look at before-and-after photos of recent Japanese TOD, or read descriptions of development in New York on the Upper West Side before and after the first subway opened, and in both cases the amount of development based around a project that’s not even under construction is minimal. So we’re back to Marunouchi getting commercial and governmental development 20 years before it was more than a neighborhood between the Imperial Palace and Nihonbashi. Besides, if cities moved their entire CBDs to account for even a current intercity station, much less a future one, wouldn’t you expect to see the London CBD migrate to where King’s Cross, St. Pancras, and Euston are, instead of stubbornly stick to the City?

    CBDs do move – Tokyo’s did, and New York’s did even more – but the focus is on local rapid transit. Midtown is where the intercity train stations were built, but it’s also where the subway lines from Uptown and the Bronx met those from Queens. Tellingly, the biggest concentration of skyscrapers misses Penn Station entirely, and only hits Grand Central at the margins. However, it’s located precisely where the upscale shopping was early on and where the subway lines converge. The reason is that the vast majority of New York workers get to Midtown by subway rather than commuter rail, and even most high-income workers ride the subway from the Upper East Side and Upper West Side.

    And the same is true of San Francisco. BART and Muni Metro have between them more than an order of magnitude more riders than Caltrain. Caltrain can narrow the gap with electrification, but it won’t be able to move the CBD on its own accord; to further increase its ridership it’ll have to get within walking distance of Market Street.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    However, it’s located precisely where the upscale shopping was early on and where the subway lines converge.

    The early upscale shopping was much farther south on Broadway.

    Andy M Reply:

    I don’t believe it is endemic to intercity services that they need more platforms than suburban services.

    What is endemic is that terminal or terminating stations require more platforms than stations where all trains just run through. This is what stations like Waterloo the behemoths that they are.

    Andy M Reply:

    Sorry, I hit submit too early. What I was trying to say was that Waterloo’s traffic largely suburban. There are some intercity routes into the station but they only make up a fraction of all trains. Yet Waterloo has something like 23 platforms and is the largest station in London and one of the largest in the world. This would go against the theory that its inter-city stations that are large and unwieldly and susburban stations that are sleek and beautiful.

    Richard Mlynarik Reply:

    Operationally, Waterloo functions more or less as four parallel terminal stations, serving four pairs of approach lines: Eurostar (formerly); the Windsor lines (fast and slow pairs choked down between Clapham and Waterloo for Nine Elms flyover for former Eurostar); the Main Fast lines; and the Main Suburban lines. These serve 19 (not 23; you’re including Waterloo International’s Eurostar platforms) terminal tracks.

    Given that the Windsor lines are about 15tph at peak (note my information is not up to date, but these numbers are good enough), the Suburban lines ~20tph and the Fast Main lines ~22tph, the 19 platforms averaged about 3tph, which is fairly intense but hardly world-beating. More impressive is pathing 20+tph though flat crossovers in the throat (outgoing trains conflict with incoming trains at some point in order to get on the correct (left-hand running) track).

    [Note that a compact and quickly traversed and flexible throat is the single biggest thing that TJPA/Caltrain/CHSRA’s World’s Finest Transportation Planning Professionals fucked up at Transbay: they absolutely murdered train throughput, simply by being as stupid as it is possible for a human to be while still knowing how to breathe and draw a salary. Death is far too kind a fate.]

    Four “commuter type” (suburban, RER, S-Bahn) trains per hour per terminal track is getting towards the limit of what can be sustained without timetable fragility. Five or six tph is getting towards “impressive” (and/or “risky”) territory. Metros, of course, can do much better than this.

    London’s Fenchurch Street Station, with ~20tph served by four terminal tracks (and again, flat approach crossovers with no flyover) is more impressive than Waterloo on a trains per platform basis.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    The problem is what happens when you have a two-track line with intermediate stations. If you want to run TGVs on the RER A, then you’re faced with any of the following problems:

    1. Longer dwell times at stations – intercity trains get by with fewer, narrower, or less centrally located doors, and also have passengers settled into their seats for their long trips, often carrying luggage.

    2. More stations than people would need for intercity service.

    3. Regardless of anything else, fewer precious slots for commuter trains.

    Put another way: suppose BART were standard-gauge and could run mainline trains, but nothing else about the layout of the system were changed. Would you want to run HSR to Embarcadero as is?

    Andy M Reply:

    I don’t think I quite follow what you’re trying to say. A suburban station is a totally different beast to an intercity station. It’s not just the doors and dwell times or capacity of the tracks, but intercity passengers have totally different needs. At suburban stations, passengers mostly wait on the platform and board the first available train. So the station is basically a queue with very simple and straightforward flows and minimal facilities. An intercity station has more complex waiting patterns and passenger flows. There will be waiting areas, retail and food facilities, taxi stands and lost of other things a suburban station doesn’t have, doesn’t want and doesn’t have space for. The footprint is much bigger, not just in terms of land directly occupied but also in terms of its knock-on effect on its surroundings, with much of the adjacent real estate also being occupied by companies that cater in part or in whole to the users of the station, including station hotels, catering, rental car companies and a lot of the other stuff you also find at airports. So rather than serving some feature of the city’s geography as a suburban station does, an intercity station is a feature of the city’s geography and care should thus be taken when superimposing it with other features.

    Richard Mlynarik Reply:

    It’s people who drive “adjacent real estate” development. There are many, many, many more people who use commuter trains than long distance trains.

    It’s only in nowhere places that don’t have a real CBD and don’t have a real S-Bahn (San José, Bakersfield, etc) that inter-city rail traffic might have effect upon much of anything, and even then only in a marginal way compared to urban core CBD development. Yeah, you might get a hotel and an extra restaurant or two catering to the (comparative) trickle of inter-city passengers, but that’s nothing compared to what a large commuter station sited near a CBD drives.

    Nathanael Reply:

    In London the busiest train station is Waterloo….

    …but the busiest Tube stations are Victoria, Oxford Circus, Kings Cross St Pancras, and Bank (in that order).

    If you combine the ridership of Kings Cross mainline, St Pancras mainline, and Kings Cross St Pancras Tube, you exceed the ridership of Waterloo.

    Fenchurch Street is the only long-distance rail terminal actually in the City of London, but that was due to regulation. The City of London and the City of Westminster didn’t permit most railways to come into their territory for a long time, back in the 19th century; the result is a bunch of stations clustered right around their outside borders.

    One of the further results is that the first railway to make it into the City (now the
    Northern Line) made a killing. *To this day* the Underground carries a huge number of transfer passengers who are coming from inconveniently located “mainline” stations, and it’s causing so much trouble that they rebuilt Thameslink and are building Crossrail at great expense.

    It’s not really a model to copy, it’s a set of mistakes to avoid.

    Andrew Reply:

    This is exactly the right way to think about this problem: put the HSR station at the place that best allows for onward transit, rather than pushing through to the (present) center of business activity at all costs; ie, the way most people approach this problem other than our California/Bay Area politicians and transportation bureaucrats, who somehow perceive themselves as being imaginative and innovative when they are hopelessly blinkered and insular. You can add the vast majority of major Japanese cities to your European examples to illustrate the same principle.

    Miles Bader Reply:

    Yeah, but is the current caltrain station that place?

    I’ve only used it a few times, but it seemed to be in the middle of nowhere, with no obvious transit connections…

    [I suppose being in the middle of nowhere makes it a good choice for allowing future development though … :/ ]

    Andrew Reply:

    Assuming the HSR/BART transbay tube referenced above, that location would be connected with 4 BART lines; the Central Subway; Embarcadero Muni Metro; Bay ferries and water taxis; I-280; T/3rd Street Muni Metro; Caltrain; J, K, L, M and N Muni Metro lines (via transfer to BART extension); and the original Daly City BART line (via transfer to BART extension).

    San Francisco has one chance to break out of its highly constraining infrastructural shell, and rebuilding around a Mission Bay HSR hub is it.

    More here:
    https://maps.google.com/maps/ms?msid=205242278980764848338.0004ab223e52369e94c0d&msa=0&ie=UTF8&ll=37.782751,-122.394737&spn=0.016688,0.026865&t=u&z=15&vpsrc=6&iwloc=0004ab74362c158db2259

    Jon Reply:

    Assuming the HSR/BART transbay tube referenced above…

    As an experiment, an engineer, a physicist and a mathematician are placed in separate rooms and left with a can of food but no can-opener. A day later, the rooms are opened one by one.

    In the first room, the engineer is snoring, with a battered, opened and emptied can. When asked, he explains that when he got hungry, he beat the can to its failure point.

    In the second room, the physicist is seen mouthing equations, with a can popped open beside him. When asked, he explains that when he got hungry, he examined the stress points of the can, applied pressure, and ‘pop’!

    In the third room, the mathematician is found sweating, and mumbling to himself, ‘Assume the can is open, assume the can is open…’

    Jon Reply:

    By the way, I like how you note at Van Ness station ‘the south end would connect with the old BART line via a 220-meter (2-minute) pedestrian tunnel’. This is roughly the same distance as from the mezzanine of the Transbay Terminal to the mezzanine of Embarcadero BART, both at level -1.

    https://maps.google.com/maps?saddr=Beale+St&daddr=Beale+St&hl=en&ll=37.791739,-122.395768&spn=0.003769,0.006968&sll=37.791332,-122.395575&sspn=0.003769,0.006968&geocode=FeqqQAIdUF20-A%3BFQWkQAIdb2W0-A&t=v&dirflg=w&doflg=ptk&mra=dme&mrsp=1&sz=18&z=18

    So how come one pedestrian tunnel is okay but the other one is not? Throw in some airport style moving walkways and you have a reasonable transfer at a tiny fraction of the cost.

    John Nachtigall Reply:

    I missed the part of your argument where you explained how you plan on getting around the statement in Prop 1a that specifically calls out the Transbay terminal?

    Peter Reply:

    Easy enough if it’s not built. Laws are not meant to be a suicide pact, after all.

    John Nachtigall Reply:

    And here all this time I thought laws were meant to be followed. Can you post a link to the “memo” that says we can ignore the parts we don’t like please?

    Thanks

  7. michaelinsf
    Jul 24th, 2012 at 00:06
    #7

    The solution is simple. Just run trains at grade through SOMA for a year or two from 4th and Townsend to 1st and Mission, with the crossing gates coming down about half daylight hours. Then, when all the drivers, pedestrain and bus passengers complain about the lack of crossing ability, push the grade separation to CalTrans. Why do the trains always foot the bill to make car travel more convenient?

    BrianR Reply:

    I like it!!! Very funny! At-grade and in the middle of the streets I suppose (except where they need to punch through a few buildings to fit those curves in). It will lend SF a certain “old timey charm”. Just like back to the time before SP built the Bayshore Cutoff and steam trains chugged down Market St. making a mess of everything.

    Peninsula Rail 2010 Reply:

    Well, the old State Belt Railroad along the waterfront was a simple and obvious option for direct rail access from the Peninsula to downtown SF, until MUNI used it for the Third Street light rail in the 1990s. Believe it or not, a few diesel trains made it to the Ferry Building in the early 1980s as a demonstration project to prove that it could be done and to promote the idea of direct Caltrain and Amtrak service to downtown SF.

    It was a vastly cheaper and more quickly implemented option than building a tunnel, but it’s one of those missed opportunities. Bay Area transportation officials never miss an opportunity to miss an opportunity, but one has to understand who benefits from these massive construction megaprojects…

    Nathanael Reply:

    I actually think this idea sounds like a lot of fun. Peninsula Rail 2010’s point is solid: the Waterfront route was an excellent way for direct long-distance rail access to downtown, and with the industrial nature of the Third Street area, it probably made more sense than the now-underutilized Third Street Muni line.

    VBobier Reply:

    I think parts of the SF water front is on reclaimed land or landfill subject to liquefaction during an earthquake…

    Nathanael Reply:

    And it’s going to be hit by sea level rise, too. But similar problems beset the Bayshore Cutoff from 4th and King to San Bruno..

    Really, the BART route, aka the original Southern Pacific route before the Bayshore Cutoff, is the better route into town in the long term, but what can you do? The nonstandard gauge of BART is the gift which keeps on hurting. Personally I favored the Second Transbay Tube, and an HSR route through Concord and Antioch, but BART took that route already…

    flowmotion Reply:

    I don’t know if you’ve driven anywhere lately, but Caltrans can’t even keep the letters from falling off their fifty-year-old green signs.

    Yeah, I’m sure they’d be happy to build whatever, if you pass a transportation tax and a bridge toll increase to fund it. If we only had a smoke-filled room commission to figure this out … we could call it the MTC.

    RobBob Reply:

    I like this idea.

  8. Reality Check
    Jul 24th, 2012 at 14:24
    #8

    Bakersfield officials, Kern Co. Supes now oppose downtown HSR

    Despite early agreements to send the train through downtown Bakersfield, state Sen. Michael Rubio said Monday that the Bakersfield City Council, the Kern County Board of Supervisors and those who have participated in the project no longer support that route.

    Instead, Rubio is asking the rail authority to “delay the project during the environmental impact review stage so that further consideration can be made for an alternate route that doesn’t go through downtown,” he said.

    […]

    Rubio said the high-speed rail should be routed south of Bakersfield where it would have the least impact on businesses, agriculture and residents.

    “It would also provide a better location for a station and links to Highway 99 versus downtown Bakersfield, which would cause a great deal of congestion,” Rubio said.

    Nathanael Reply:

    The rail authority should most certainly not delay the project for a bunch of jackasses who changed their minds.

    That said, Bakersfield is living up to its reputation as a backward city full of idiots; so perhaps it SHOULD be bypassed entirely. It would save money to leave the station out.

    Clem Reply:

    Reims? Backward, full of idiots.
    Avignon? Backward, full of idiots.
    Aix-en-Provence? Backward, full of idiots.

    A west-of-Bako bypass is the only sane route, even without considering the straight shot south into the Grapevine.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    Okay, I’ll bite: without the straight shot south into the Grapevine, what alignment can get trains from the Tehachapis to a west-of-Bako bypass?

    Clem Reply:

    A south-of-Bako bypass?

    Richard Mlynarik Reply:

    Do a big wide swing around of (the worst) of the hideous Bako sprawl.

    Circa Hwy 43 to the west.

    And circa Hwy 119 to the south — though as you are very well aware, not swinging east on Synonymouse’s Big Detour and instead blowing straight south over the Grapevine is many billions cheaper, far faster, has far fewer impacts, is easier to build, and would take a decade less to put into service.

    Winston Reply:

    Regardless of the route chosen, bypassing Bakersfield just makes sense. Besides it’s a pretty auto-oriented city and a big park and ride lot would probably get you the most ridership quickly. I do hope that the HSRA sees the light and chooses a Grapevine alignment.

    Reality Check Reply:

    I also hope HSRA sees the light and chooses an Altamont alignment.

    Richard Mlynarik Reply:

    Guadalajara? Backward, full of idiots.
    Tarragona? Backward, full of idiots.
    Zaragoza? Backward, full of idiots.
    LLeida? Backward, full of idiots.

    Joey Reply:

    To be fair, both Zaragoza and Lleida both have station loops to downtown stations which are probably more desirable from a station access/TOD/etc perspective when the extra cost is justified and there is a reasonable route to put them on (probably the case for Fresno but not for Bakersfield).

    Richard Mlynarik Reply:

    Indeed.

    Nathanael Reply:

    There is most definitely a reasonable route to put the tracks on through Bakersfield.

    And there’s certainly enough population to justify a downtown station for Bakersfield… *if* Bakersfield *wants* to survive into the second half of the 21st century and reverse its sprawl. If it doesn’t, what can you do? Cities are allowed to decide to commit suicide.

    I will note that Guadalajara, Tarragona, Zaragoza, Lleida, Reims, Avignon, and Aix-en-Provence appear to have *wanted* HSR stations. Y’know.

    Nathanael Reply:

    Basically, I was ready to defend the rights of the citizens of Bakersfield to ask for a well-located station. It’s certainly got enough population.

    But if they don’t want one, well, to hell with them.

    Joey Reply:

    Of course there’s a route through Bakersfield, there’s just not a route which lends itself well to connecting with a mainline which bypasses the city center. A station loop at Fresno would require 25 km of additional track, most of which would be medium or low speed. A station loop for Bakersfield would require closer to 55 km of additional track. This is assuming the Tehachapi route and a bypass of Bakersfield to the south.

    Ultimately though, I think the best solution for Bakersfield does depend on which mountain crossing you choose. If you go with Tehachapi, it’s probably fine to just slow express trains down to 250 km/h through Bakersfield anyway, especially given it’s proximity to the mountain crossing. With the Grapevine however (which I’m beginning to believe might be better), there’s no decent north-south route through Bakersfield anyway, so a greenfield station to the West is probably the best option.

    DanM Reply:

    I am actually happy about this. Sure, he’s being leaned on by some sort of special-interest or Palo-Alto Nimby group … but the cost savings for a non-downtown Bakersfield station are worth consdiering. I’m a big fan of downtown terminals where it makes sense (e.g. San Fran, San Diego, Sacramento), but Bakersfield is a lot of cost for minimal benefit.

    Peter Reply:

    Agreed. It should at least be seriously studied. Anything to avoid 80 foot aerials over a non-existent freeway.

    flowmotion Reply:

    Yep, this looks like two agencies drew lines on the map without checking with each other, or a better solution could have been worked out. Maybe avoidable if Caltrans was running the whole show.

    egk Reply:

    But what if we assumes that basically every train is going to stop in Bakersfield (WHAT?! – well, according the the 1995 ATS, LA-Bakersfield travel was more than half LA-SF travel – and Bakersfield has nearly doubled in population since then, so it is not unreasonable to think that by the time this is built there will be more LA-Bakersfield travel than LA-SF travel). Given a no 220 mph-thru-Bakersfield operational assumption what would you do? At-grade in city center running alignment? [If CA were, say, Germany, my sense is that it would go like this: first an upgrade a set of tracks along the freight ROW, providing initial service for a low cost and then, perhaps, a bypass. (See: Mannheim)]

    [this is another thread, but the CAHSRA models constantly underestimates market share for relatively short trips: LA-CV is estimated at 8% in their model at full build out. In Korea – as Alon has noted – similar trips have 40-60% market share. While tripling the 45% market share CAHSRA assumes for LA-SF is mathematically impossible, tripling the 8% LA-CV market share is not only possible, but likely under some scenarios. (See also: Sacramento-SF)]

    Nathanael Reply:

    I would make the same assumptions; Bakersfield-LA traffic will be larger than SF-LA and Sacramento-LA traffic combined, most likely. Basically every train will stop in Bakersfield.

    Nathanael Reply:

    …unless, of course, you bypass Bakersfield.

    Bakersfield citizens: PAY ATTENTION. The rest of the state is happy to bypass you completely and leave you with no station, or an inconvenient station in the middle of nowhere. Do you want to assist them with that? Or would you like to have a downtown station with a fast train to LA?

    Think about it, then talk to your city and county representatives!

    Alon Levy Reply:

    I would guess the opposite. Bako-LA is too close for a large HSR mode share vs. driving, and the time cost of stopping is large as this is full-speed territory.

    synonymouse Reply:

    Brown and PG&E Richard will have to squash this westering post haste.

    I am unfamiliar with Bako – other than knowing it is home to Buck Owens, Merle Haggard, and one of my late aunts – but I assume to assuage Villa and Antonovich they will have to force an eastern route. I assume this is not so easy to lay out?

  9. jimsf
    Jul 24th, 2012 at 22:44
    #9

    I see everyone stills seems to know everything. Its boring reading the same arguments over and over. ho hum.

    This blog sounds like those blogs populated by conservatives where everyone jumps on the naysaying band wagon because everyone else is on the naysaying bandwagon.

    altamont, bakersfield generaizations, , transbay bad, central subway bad t third bad, SF bad, Bay area bad, and lots of rambling about japan.

    Whatever. None of any of this matters.

    I am going to be the only person here, who, supports the current plan as planned, and will be happy when it its up and running along route as shown on the map, and whol will galddy use the train to visit all the people and places I know in all the many cities that will be served. Even palmdale and bakersfield,

    all the rest of you are just going to be all bitter and twisted up cuz you know so much more than the people who are actually going to get the thing built.

    Im amazed you aren’t all on the payroll, what with the vast collective expertise.

    Its a boring bitch session.

    Miles Bader Reply:

    Hm, sure there’s lots of silly whining, fanboyism, downright cluelessness, irrelevant blathering, and pointless armchair kvetching about stuff that really is “good enough.”

    But (1) there really are some smart people that post here, with good knowledge, and good research skills, and (2) I think it really is different from typical conservative (or liberal) blogs where anybody deviating from the locally dominant religion immediately gets jumped by everybody else chanting standard dogma; here there are perhaps a few “factions,” but no single viewpoint is really dominant, and people that may agree on one thing seem to disagree vehemently on another.

    Granted it takes some effort to put up with the crap, but I still manage to actually learn stuff here, and that’s more you can say for most blogs.

    Does it “matter”? I dunno; maybe nothing discussed here (and yes, there really is sometimes “discussion,” not just flames) will ever percolate out to where it can make any difference or influence the actual system. But who knows.

    [and call it a personal quirk, but I sorta like learning new stuff…]

    Nathanael Reply:

    I want to make it clear that my personal anger with Bakersfield is because I was ready to defend their desire for a downtown station against the typical “Bakersfield sux, just dump their station in the middle of nowhere” attitude which you see from so many of the regular commenters up above.

    But if Bakersfield government won’t fight for the best solution for their own city, it’s hard to fight for it for them.

    Nathanael Reply:

    Let me put it bluntly:

    If the train went to downtown Bakersfield, I would probably actually end up using it occasionally, due to knowing people in Bakersfield. If it’s miles outside of town in the middle of the fields… well, we don’t like those people THAT much!

    BrianR Reply:

    I have to say I agree somewhat, but you forgot to mention san jose. Not just san jose bad but san jose ‘worst of the worst of the worst’. Fresno bad too in case you forgot to mention. HSR “built for the bad people at the expense of the good people in SF and LA”. The only cities to escape judgement will be Sacramento and San Diego since whatever happens there will be of no consequence to the majority of the route.

    Andrew Reply:

    Agreed. Miles Bader is also right that there’s mountains of good information to be gained from the comments on this blog. But it never adds up to anything because of the site’s structure and the lack of any real organization among the “community” toward any concrete cause (the pre-Senate vote phone & email campaign being a notable exception). Also, too many commenters are motivated mainly by the childish concerns of one-upping each other with bitter sarcasm (“the use of irony to mock or express contempt”), or conveying an impression of authoritative expertise on every subject under the sun (or both). jimsf, you are a shining exception on both counts. If only more commenters could adopt your tone!

  10. Paul Druce
    Jul 25th, 2012 at 00:50
    #10

    Just to prove Amtrak can do everything we can, but worse: $7 billion for unnecessary Washington Union Station overhaul

    Alon Levy Reply:

    It cheers me up. Helps show that it doesn’t inherently cost $117 billion to build HSR.

    jimsf Reply:

    If the station is over crowded and lacking in capacity, then expanding the station and increasing capacity is necessary. How do you figure its not.

    Paul Druce Reply:

    It has 14 trains per hour at peak. It has 18 platforms and 20 tracks, so there’s no need for an additional six underground tracks reserved for high speed trains. Furthermore, it’s absurdly more expensive than comparable projects such as the Transbay Terminal and Stuttgart 21.

    jimsf Reply:

    Depends on what all they are going to do in the future.

    Paul Druce Reply:

    Let me put it another way: As currently built, it has a capacity of 40 trains per hour (using a British engineering standard of two trains per hour per platform). Amtrak wants to add more platforms and, according to the master document, double the train capacity.

    Richard Mlynarik Reply:

    Depends on what all they are going to do in the future.

    “Parking trains out of service” is always a big part of how America’s Finest Transportation Planning Professionals do things now and want to do a lot more of in the future. You need lots of mind-meltingly expensive platforms in the most expensive CBD CBD location for that. Ka-ching!

    Nathanael Reply:

    The presence of two largely incompatible sets of platforms worsens the situation, mind you.

    I wonder if the “exclusive HSR tracks” are actually a “nose in the door” for getting Amtrak’s own route under the Potomac, independent of CSX’s Long Bridge and the bottleneck at L’Enfant Plaza. This actually might be wise.

    thatbruce Reply:

    @Nathanael:

    With US east-coast ‘HSR’ trains already using the same platforms as non-HSR trains, how are the proposed underground HSR-only platforms at Washington Union Station going to be ‘largely incompatible’ with the above-ground platforms?

    Alon Levy Reply:

    The largely incompatible platforms are current practice, not Amtrak’s proposal. The upper track level of the station is terminal with some high and some low platforms, the lower level is through-tracks with low platforms. The problem: the lower level is located due east of the upper level, with at-grade crossings, and so southbound through-trains conflict with northbound terminating trains.

    Miles Bader Reply:

    Wait, surely with $7billion, they’re doing some tunneling…

    Nathanael Reply:

    There seems to be a division of Amtrak devoted to producing especially grandiose plans for the Northeast Corridor.

    Perhaps this is a deliberate form of distraction, as Amtrak’s plans for the rest of the country are very down-to-earth.

    Richard Mlynarik Reply:

    Amtrak’s plans for the rest of the country are very down-to-earth.

    Damn straight.
    Dig holes in earth.
    Fill with cash.
    Bury.
    Repeat.

    joe Reply:

    “Joseph Weizenbaum, Famed Programmer, Is Dead at 85″, The New York Times.

    He is best know for his ELIZA. His final days were spent trying to repair his flawed transportation-bot MLYNARIK.

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