How California Could Pay for HSR Itself

Jul 14th, 2012 | Posted by

With the State Senate vote last week to proceed with high speed rail construction, there’s been increasing attention paid to the financing of the high speed rail project – namely, the fact that there’s still a long way to go to fully fund the entire system. Keep in mind that most transportation projects in America are planned this way, with design and even some initial construction taking place before every dollar needed has been identified and secured. Still, for the HSR project to succeed, we have to figure out how to fully fund this system.

The 2012 Business Plan currently envisions nearly $40 billion in federal funding, spaced out over 20 to 30 years. That’s a little more than $1 billion per year, a reasonable assumption to make assuming Democrats retake the House and pass a transportation funding bill that creates a long-term HSR funding source.

But as we know, Congress could remain hostile to HSR. That hostility could last just a few more years, or it could go longer. Further, dependence on federal funding may not give California HSR planners the flexibility they need to build the project right (and no, I’m not talking about sending the trains along I-5 in the Central Valley, that would be a stupid idea). Whatever the reason, California should develop a plan to fund HSR itself.

And that’s exactly what the San Francisco Planning + Urban Research Association has developed. Known as SPUR for short, they released last week a new study titled Getting High Speed Rail On Track that lays out a plan for funding California HSR without relying on a federal contribution. It’s a sensible proposal that is quite doable not only from a funding perspective, but also from a political perspective:

We in California can still build high-speed rail by relying on a combination of road tolls, vehicle license fees, gas taxes, regional general obligation bonds, value capture mechanisms and revenues from the state’s cap-and-trade auctions. These local sources yield more than $2.7 billion annually. Over the 20-year construction of the high-speed rail system, these sources could replace the entirety of the expected $38.3 billion federal investment. In addition, they could also replace the current unspecified $5 billion from additional local, state and private sources….

Our assumptions are as follows:

• An increase in the gas tax of 6 cents per gallon for 20 years
• Road tolls of $4 per vehicle on six highways that parallel high-speed rail as it enters the Bay Area and Southern California
• An $8.50 increase in the annual vehicle license fee (VLF) for 20 years
• A regional general obligation bond for green power for Caltrain and BART that also includes $1 billion for electrification and grade separation
• $13 billion from the annual state cap-and-trade auction revenues until 2020
• Various value capture tools (impact fee, tax increment, Mello Roos district) at five high-speed rail stations

The report delves into more detail on these concepts and I encourage you to go there and parse the details for yourself. SPUR’s report includes this graphic representation of how their plan stacks up against the current Business Plan:

Each of these funding sources could be used solely to fund HSR – or they could be part of a larger effort to provide Californians with more affordable alternatives to burning oil in order to get around. A gas tax increase is badly needed to fund more transit around the state, including local bus systems. Including HSR funding as part of a larger, long-term, phased gas tax increase is sensible.

Road tolls are a good policy tool for California anyway, and one could charge a toll higher than $4 on those routes in order to fund commuter rail, commuter bus, and HSR services. The case for ending the freeway is strong and over the coming years I would fully expect to see serious proposals emerge to start tolling freeways like Interstate 5 in the Central Valley. Some might propose doing it in order to solve the state’s general fund problems, but it ought to be done to fund mass transit and HSR.

The Vehicle License Fee badly needs to be increased. Until 1998, California charged a 2% VLF and people got by just fine. Before leaving office, Governor Pete Wilson pushed through a huge tax cut in 1998 that included a VLF reduction to 0.65%. That cut was reversed by Governor Gray Davis in 2002 in order to help close the state’s budget deficit, and was a major issue in the 2003 recall. After Arnold Schwarzenegger was elected governor, he pushed through a cut back to the post-1998 level. The 2003 cut in the VLF is a major reason why California faces a structural revenue shortfall. That cut costs the state $6 billion a year, one of the most damaging of Arnold Schwarzenegger’s legacies for the Golden State. An $8.50 increase in the VLF is a very small amount, and one could propose a larger increase, perhaps in the $20 to $40 range, that would generate funds for other transit services alongside the $8.50 for HSR.

The value capture tools and the use of cap-and-trade fees are both no-brainers when it comes to funding HSR, and both are already being seriously discussed in Sacramento. Additionally, the SPUR proposal discusses a regional green energy general obligation bond that would help electrify more rail and bus service in the Bay Area as well as build high speed rail.

Together these amount to a very sensible set of proposals to fund HSR from within California alone. Each funding source also makes sense as a broader initiative to improve transportation funding in California, and not just solely as a means to fund HSR alone.

But can they actually be done? Are they politically viable? I believe they are. Local governments have used VLF increases in recent years to fund transportation infrastructure, and the fact that California’s VLF used to be more than double what it is now is a good argument for moving back to it. California voters have approved higher gas taxes in the past, particularly 1990′s Prop 111. As gas prices have soared in recent years, smaller increases become more palatable. In 2005 Washington State voters rejected an effort to repeal the state legislature’s enactment of a 9.5 cent gas tax increase. A statewide gas tax increase is clearly necessary in order to start developing post-oil transportation infrastructure. The value capture tools are likely to happen in any case, and cap-and-trade fees have been repeatedly floated by Governor Jerry Brown as a possible method of helping fund the HSR project. A general obligation bond for green infrastructure would not be so different from 2004′s Prop 71, which used the sale of general obligation bonds to set up the California Institute of Regenerative Medicine.

While those options are all viable, that’s not the same thing as them being easy wins. Legislators will need to see that voter hostility to new taxes is not as strong as it’s reputed to be. That requires the passage of Proposition 30, the tax increase measure backed by Governor Brown that includes the “millionaire’s tax” backed by the Courage Campaign (where I used to work). If Prop 30 passes, it would also boost high speed rail as it would prove a clear rejection of the argument that voters might reject the taxes because of HSR.

SPUR’s proposal deserves very serious consideration, and should become the basis of an alternative to federal funding should Congress continue to prove to be an obstacle.

  1. joe
    Jul 14th, 2012 at 18:53

    Sales, gas taxes and tolls are regressive. It’s easy to link a gas tax with improving alternative infrastructure but the burden will fall on those who cannot afford a Prius or Leaf. The average vehicle on the roads is over ten years old. Think about why.

    If we add tolls then think about tolling roads where there are alternative transportation options.

    StevieB Reply:

    The average age of vehicles on the road increased because fewer new cars were sold during the recession. Trends this year and last are increasing new car sales which while still lower than they were in 2007. As the economy continues to improve and older cars leave the road for new the average vehicle age will decline.

    flowmotion Reply:

    Stevie – Modern cars are built to much higher quality standards and simply last longer. (Some of this is due to clean air requirements which require better tolerances and engine management systems.) Increased new car sales will affect the average fleet age, but those older cars are staying on the road for a while.

    On the tolling point, federal law prohibits tolls on free Interstates (except for new road capacity). Pennsylvania tried to work around this in order to fund transit, and was rejected by the Obama admin.

    Andrew Reply:

    People need to be incentivized to work hard and save. Giving them a free ride (or a freeway) encourages them to consume, when they should be saving up for that Prius or Leaf. The state’s prodigality on providing free roads ultimately harms them and their children.

    joe Reply:

    “People need to be incentivized to work hard and save.”

    You think people have it too easy now?

    John Nachtigall Reply:

    Your complete contempt for individuality is shocking. I thought that kind of hard core communism died with the USSR

    Andrew Reply:

    Surely you meant to reply to someone else’s comment.

    John Nachtigall Reply:

    I don’t think so. Unless I read that comment wrong he was suggesting that providing free roads to people encourages consumption and that is bad for them and their children so the state should do what’s good for them and take away freeways. Does not get more communist then that

    Xerxes Reply:

    I don’t remember hearing the Soviets ever getting rid of their freeways because they were
    government subsidized. xD

    wu ming Reply:

    i thought communism was giving people free highways. hard to keep the john birch nonsense straight.

    VBobier Reply:

    Yeah it is a bunch of utter nonsense alright, their against free this, but not free that, seems stupid and fearful of new ideas.

    John Nachtigall Reply:

    John Birtch? Really?

    My point is simple. The premise of the argument is that the government knows better than the individual what is good for society. I disagree strongly. I used the USSR as an example because communist countries are invariably built on this premise that the state knows best.

    Here in America we tend to value liberty and freedom (which is messy but has other admirable traits) over this level of state control.

    And for the last time the roads are not subsidized….we pay taxes to maintain them and everyone uses them. A subsidy is when the whole group pays for something only a small group uses. Everyone uses the road system.

    VBobier Reply:

    John Birch? I never mentioned those loonies, are You really responding to Me? I benefit from Government as I’m unable to work as I’m severely disabled, as My check comes from SSI, I won’t go into the why as I just don’t feel like having to repeat Myself a lot. To some uninformed people SSI is Social Security Income, which is untrue, SSI is Supplemental Security Income and I sure don’t get much, this year $854.40 a month & it isn’t enough for My needs really, yet there are those foolish & bigoted people who’d say mean things about Me or who have allies in Congress who want to cut SSI out of spite and yes hate or as they say to balance the budget(on the backs of those who are like Me, all of a little over 8 million all across the USA), some say their are Illegals getting SSI, that hasn’t been true since the 1994 reforms. I’d rather not get SSI If I were able to work, since I’m not I’ll take SSI as at least I can keep a roof over My head as I can’t go live with My living relatives(all of 4 people), 2 have no room(a Niece & a Nephew), 1 Niece lives with Her Mom cause of the economy & the last only allows Me in Her house when Her kids are there(She’s My Sister in Law, I’m not sure if If their being Catholic has anything to do with it or not and It might, as I’m now the oldest male in the family and traditionally that meant head of household(She’s older than I am by a few years), the Sister in law always places Me at the end of the table @ both Thanksgiving and Xmas, supposedly to make room for others as I’m about 24″ wide, which is always where the head of household used to sit), She was My Brothers Wife(now She’s a widow, He converted on His death bed in Her living room, I used to live in His house that I’d found, He’d wanted to put Me on the mortgage once I had an income, but when He was dying and She got a hold of Him that vanished & I had to move or go live on the street in 2004), to Her I’m a stranger & only family to Her grown kids and I don’t like that at all, I’m either family or I’m not. So I live with My one & only true friend Grace, She’s My Maine Coon cat…

    Oh and how can a severely disabled person type all this without a lot of misspelling errors? I have a spell checker as a part of My browser as an aid…

    MrTemecula Reply:

    There has been a shortfall in the gas tax which has been covered by the general fund.

    “2. America’s transportation system is going broke. Revenue for the Highway Trust Fund is derived almost entirely from federal gas taxes.” To make up the shortfall and continue current project, “(f)rom 2008 to 2010, Congress transferred $34.5 billion from general fund revenues.”

    D. P. Lubic Reply:

    Highway Statistics, 2010 edition:

    Report HF10, “Funding For Highways And Disposition Of Highway-User Revenues, All Units Of Government, 2010″

    Basic numbers:

    Highway User Revenues: (Gas Taxes and Tolls): $93.8 Billion

    Highway Disbursements: $205.3 Billion

    Difference: $111.5 Billion

    Cost Recovery Ratio (Cash Flow Accounting): 45.7% (For comparison, the last time I checked, Amtrak was over 70% on passenger revenue alone, and well over 80% on total revenue.)

    Table MF-21, Motor Fuel Use:

    Basic Number: Total Highway Fuel Use, 169.7 Billion Gallons (Slightly Rounded Upward by .1 Billion Gallons)

    Difference in Highway User Revenues and Highway Disbursements, per Gallon: 65.7 cents.

    Subsidy Defined:

    What may be the relevant definition: “c : a grant by a government to a private person or company to assist an enterprise deemed advantageous to the public”

    That would certainly seem to include the cost of roads that are not paid by the motorist in his highway user fees.

    Note that these numbers are for the highway system as a whole, including state, federal, and local roads, but may not include roads or streets that are not in the numbered road system, such as city streets and certain county roads. These roads are also paid for by local property and sales taxes, and at the same time, they subsidize the numbered road system with the vehicles that run on them, fired by fuel that is taxed for the numbered road system.

    Observations: The cost recovery ratio has fallen markedly in recent years. It used to be something over 50%, but is now well below that number.

    D. P. Lubic Reply:

    Status of the Federal Highway Trust Fund, which was improving after several horrible years in 2009 (Chart FE-210C and Table FE-210):

    Other definitions of subsidy:

    BruceMcF Reply:

    “User pays for what they use” is not communism ~ neither Soviet communism nor the fantasy of communism that they used for propaganda. “From each according to their ability, to each according to their need” was the fantasy, “we are the one and only corporation who owns this economy, you work for us” was the reality.

    VBobier Reply:

    Either one is out of My reach, as is even a used car, so all I can do is maintain My ’99 Ford Escort zx2 sport hot coupe which gets Me 30mpg out of 33mpg… I’d love a leaf though.

    Derek Reply:

    Variable tolls are most certainly not regressive. Take a look at the SR-91 express lanes toll schedule. Most of the time, the toll is $2.15 or less, which the poor will pay. Wealthy people will pay up to $10.05, almost five times what the poor will pay.

    John Nachtigall Reply:

    Huh? It is based on times….how does that soak the rich?

    Derek Reply:

    It isn’t the poor who are paying the $10.05 tolls, except when they have to take a kid to the hospital or something.

    Joe Reply:

    “or something”

    Please expand on how variable tolls are not regressive.

    Derek Reply:

    I already explained it. Please tell me what part you didn’t understand, and I’ll see what I can do to help.

    John Nachtigall Reply:

    Explain the part were the wealthy only use the toll during the expensive times. That is the part I don’t understand. Why don’t the poor use it during those time?

    Derek Reply:

    For one thing, they’ll take the bus instead. For another, why would the poor pay $10.05 when they could pay $2.15 or less?

    joe Reply:

    Gas tax and tolls are regressive taxes. Take the bus – drive at night. Why? Because the tax is regressive.

    Low income workers have to be at work on time. They have to pick up their children, shop, sleep and do it on $8.00 an hour.

    Derek Reply:

    Low income workers have to be at work on time.

    So, before the invention of the automobile, nobody was able to get to work on time? You aren’t making any sense.

    John Nachtigall Reply:

    They pay because they have to get to work. And in modern society your house is too far from your work to walk for most people. It’s called the mobile work force….really good for the economy, you can Google it.

    joe Reply:

    No one had to worry about paying regressive gas tax before the automobile.

    If my job requires I work when their are customers then I can’t take the toll road when the tolls are less. Will the invisible hand slap my boss to give me a raise, shall I quit and go without, or are there other choices? No not the bus, – how’s Spain doing?

    Derek Reply:

    And in modern society your house is too far from your work to walk for most people.

    For most people, yes. But we’re talking about the poor, remember? They tend to live in apartments in denser parts of town, not in McMansions way out in the middle of sprawl.

    If my job requires I work when their are customers then I can’t take the toll road when the tolls are less.

    Why can’t you walk? Bike? Take the bus? Carpool? I think you’re just making excuses to protect the wealthy from paying market rates.

    Matthew B Reply:

    Let’s take the 91 toll lanes, for example, between Riverside County and Orange County. People in OC don’t need to pay the tolls, and use less gas. Their housing costs are *much* higher, and on average are much more wealthy. While there are some poorer people living in apartment buildings in OC, many lower middle income Californians live in Riverside county where land prices are comparatively cheap and drive into OC for work. They’re the ones paying the tolls, whether they are the $10.00 peak tolls or the $2.00 off peak tolls. Some of the more wealthy residents in Riverside County who work in OC often take Metrolink and park a beater overnight at one of the stations in OC. Others pay the peak tolls. If you’re poorer, and can’t take Metrolink, you either cough up the tolls or you inch through congestion in the free lanes. Does that make it regressive or not?

    It’s a somewhat complex function where the most wealthy pay comparatively little as they can afford to live close to work. Comparatively well-off RC commuters have several options, including paying higher tolls, to throw some money at their commute and make it slightly less horrible. The poorest commuters will be hit one way or another, either in the form of higher fees, or longer commute times. Inflexibility in work hours is likely negatively correlated to income, so it may not be possible for the worst off to just commute at different times.

    Derek Reply:

    Let’s bring some documented proof into the conversation: “As a group low-income residents, on average, pay more out-of-pocket with sales taxes” for freeways than with tolls.

    joe Reply:

    …so let’s start tolling roadways…

    jonathan Reply:


    So, before the invention of the automobile, nobody was able to get to work on time? You aren’t making any sense.

    in words even an Austrian-school Nimrod should be able to understand:

    Before automobiles were widespread even amongst working-class pepole, and paved roads were available, working-class people lived
    where they could get to work without automobiles.
    This is what we call a tautology. If cars are not avaialbe to working-class people, working-class people do not drive them to work: you cannot drive a car you don’t have.
    Similarly for paved roads between where you live, and where you work. No road, no drive.
    (Indeed, no paved road at home is pretty much “no car”).

    Derek, your grasp of market theory may be good, but your grasp of day-to-day reality lacks opposable thumbs.

    adirondacker12800 Reply: Henry Ford wasn’t able to sell Model Ts until there were paved roads and getting paved road was very hard until there were Model Ts.

    jonathan Reply:

    From the Context Fairy:

    Low income workers have to be at work on time.

    So, before the invention of the automobile, nobody was able to get to work on time? You aren’t making any sense.


    D. P. Lubic Reply:

    Many elements of truth in these comments, but somehow a failure to see the picture in late 1907 (when the Model T came out):

    Automobiles in that time were slow, expensive, not terribly reliable, and cantankerous and sometimes dangerous to operate. They were playthings for rich people or for those who had some mechanical aptitude. They were for Sunday drives along boulevards or (maybe) for a summer picnic i the country.

    Henry Ford’s Model T changed much of that, but that wasn’t what it was originally designed for. It was designed as a “farmer’s car,” something to get him into town on Saturdays or to church on Sunday. The machine was very light weight (maybe 1,200 lbs.), largely of tough vanadium steel. Suspension was by transverse leaf springs (much like a buggy), and ground clearance was more like a modern off-road vehicle. The whole thing was designed to be as simple as possible to run and repair; keep in mind, Ford’s concept of his customers were men who might be used to a plow or a corn harvester, but not any sort of powered machinery at all.

    Although people think of the Model T as a very primitive car compared with today, it was actually a rather sophisticated design, and incorporated many modern design elements. These included a monoblock engine with a cast crankshaft (prior to this, most cars had cylinders cast in pairs and attached to a separate crankcase), and a planetary, semi-automatic transmission (Ford figured farmers would have trouble with clutches and unsynchronized gears–and indeed, smooth shifts with such gearboxes are still not easy).

    The Model T could negotiate roads that were mud holes in spring and dust-bowls in summer, but it still wasn’t easy. It did help drive the call for better roads because it did reveal the potential.

    One must say that roads and cars fed each other.

    It’s interesting that the automobile market had apparently reached a saturation point in America in about 1921. By this time, most rural people who could afford them had cars (and a lot of them were those Model Ts); Ford was supposedly looking at transit options, including building a modern trolley car (shades of the effort that would culminate in the PCC years later!) This wasn’t as crazy as it seems; Ford had a friendship with fellow inventor and tinkerer Thomas Edison, and a mind that was willing to look at electricity; both were looking at electric cars as well.

    Another fellow was looking at the same situation. Alfred Sloan at General Motors saw that the market the automobile did not penetrate was the metropolitan one. This was the city, where people rode trolley cars. Somehow he had to make customers of them. . .and we know a bit of how he did that, a part of which was a subsidiary called National City Lines. . .

    jonathan Reply:

    @ d.P Lubic:
    Individual cylinder castings, “primitive”? I have a couple of oil-cooled Porsche 911 engines to show you
    @Adirondacker: yeah, I got a Porsche 911SC for less than parting-out value, too
    For less than parting-out value for the engine+transmission.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    in words even an Austrian-school Nimrod should be able to understand:

    Every time you confuse Neo-Classical or Pigovian economics (themselves two different though ot contradictory things) with the Austrian School, a kitten dies.

    Robert Cruickshank Reply:

    They are however more progressive than the status quo, which is forcing people to pay through the nose to burn oil so they can get around. The point is to use these revenue sources to fund alternate options.

    joe Reply:

    I understand the intended purpose.
    What is done with the money – it’s a good cause – doesn’t make the taxes progressive.
    The taxes are not progressive taxes.

    Let’s recognize the proposed funding mechanism and fight to improve the fairness.

    CA *can* pay for the system but the State is deadlocked and has only regressive taxing powers.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    What you’re missing is that even if the government takes the money collected in those taxes and sets it on fire, the net result is still progressive, because the people suffering the most from the health problems caused by air pollution are poor.

    Neil Shea Reply:

    Yes, Life is regressive and user fees are regressive — it’s always harder on poor people than rich people. Even more so, climate change and rising petroleum prices will hit the poor harder than the rich.

    So we’re back to the question of providing transportation alternatives to our complete dependence on petroleum, funding with a mix of sources. Criticism is easy, what are some other ideas?

    joe Reply:

    Tax oil extraction at the same rate as Alaska. Currently CA is the only one of 22 states that produce oil, that has NO TAX.

    LATimes estimate roughly 8B – which is a high end estimate – annual revenue.

    I’d throw in 30M annually by cutting the loop hole that allows purchased yachts to be taken out of state for 90 days and avoid a tax.

    Anyone here wanna buy a yacht or own an oil rig?

  2. Useless
    Jul 14th, 2012 at 19:21

    Neither the 2012 business plan nor the SPUR plan is viable, the only realistic way to come up with the shortfall is to take the foreign government’s construction loan.

    Saturday, July 14, 2012
    JR East president has high hopes for California project

    PHILADELPHIA — A consortium that includes East Japan Railway Co. will emphasize the excellent safety record and reliability of the shinkansen network as it seeks to take part in California’s planned high-speed rail system, JR East Chairman Satoshi Seino said.

    John Nachtigall Reply:

    What loan?

    I read the part where they were planning on selling us something…I did not read the part where they were offering us money?

    BruceMcF Reply:

    An offer of finance is an offer to sell you something ~ an offer to sell you the use of money now in return for contracting to hand the money back, and for some consideration to make it worth the while of the lender. In vender finance, the consideration is sometimes built into the purchase price of the product bought with the finance.

    John Nachtigall Reply:

    Where in that article does it say finance? Where does it say loan? They want to sell the cars, nowhere does it say they will finance them, that is an assumption.

    But lets say they do. So now we have to pay cost plus interest. And since the money is on bond, we have to pay the interest on that also.

    So if I understand this “opportunity”. We borrow 1 billion dollars at 3-5% interest (CA Bond rates) and then use it to pay installments on a loan that the Japanese will give us for lets say another 4-6%. Why would we do that? If you are going to borrow the money anyway (and we are) then you pay the Japanese in cash, no financing from them.

    Eric M Reply:

    Japan Offers Calif. Loan for $40B High-Speed Train

    This happened in 2010

    Eric M Reply:

    And here is a link to a post by Robert on the subject

    BruceMcF Reply:

    Did Useless say that the article he linked to referred to the offer of a loan? I read that part of his/her comment as referring to the loan offer that we were all already aware of.

    Xerxes Reply:

    “He said the Japanese consortium has not decided which train cars to offer California.”

    Huh, so they might not be offering the efSET eh? Cool, I like the look of the e5 more anyways. :P

    The Japanese ambassador mentioned offering California loans a few months ago.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    They won’t be making those trains in 15 years when California is ready to order trains.

    Andrew Reply:

    I’m not sure whether the Japanese way of building and operating bullet-trains would be compatible with the kind of system California needs, but at the very least they could provide some very healthy competition for European (and Heaven forbid hometown) bidders. Surely there must be a way to make use of their unrivaled expertise and professionalism for the benefit of this project.

    wu ming Reply:

    given their expertise in seismic construction and safety, i’d lean towards japan, all things being equal.

    Andrew Reply:

    Yes, that must count as a big point in their favor.

  3. morris brown
    Jul 14th, 2012 at 19:26

    Robert I am a bit confused.

    Is this proposal a “pay as you go plan”; that is, you are not going to borrow any funds, but wait until these sources of funds accumulate to the point you can build a segment and avoid any interest payments?

    BTW, the Prop 1A bonds which you are using, will by themselves need about $700 million on average each year for 30 years to repay with principal and interest. (6.25% interest as now projected)

    On occasion you really go off the “deep end”; you are really drowning with this one.

    Andrew Reply:

    Unless I missed something, the proposal is entirely based on taking in more revenue. Our starting point should be how to pay for this with revenue we already have. Taking in more revenue should be only half of the funding equation or less — not just for political reasons but because it’s the wise and reasonable thing to do.

  4. Paul Druce
    Jul 14th, 2012 at 19:27

    So their plan is predicated on tax increases which would greatly increase voter opposition to the project and dedicating a majority of all state collected cap and trade revenues in a manner which so greatly overstates the value of HSR in reducing CO2 that it does stand a very clear prospect of being struck down as in violation of Prop 13 requirements on revenue.

    Yeah, that’s just freaking brilliant.

    BruceMcF Reply:

    Seems more like a “could” than a “should”.

  5. Andrew
    Jul 14th, 2012 at 19:53

    How California could pay for HSR itself (apologies for any overlap with Robert’s suggestions):

    (1) TO INCREASE REVENUE: apply market-based tolls to all freeways and bridges; raise the gas tax to reflect the the true cost of all free public roads PLUS the full environmental and military/security cost of petroleum import & consumption; eliminate mandatory parking provision laws and tax all private parking spaces; raise the cost of water to reflect the true environmental and infrastructural cost of public water provision; tax all in-state flights to reflect the full environmental cost of high-altitude carbon emissions and to retroactively pay for a portion of the capital investment in airport-to-downtown transportation systems including airport parking lots; tax airport parking as well as all train, shuttle and taxi rides between airports and downtown areas that would be served by HSR stations; maintain public ownership of property adjacent to HSR stations and lease it out through private agents.

    (2) TO REDUCE EXPENDITURES: deny all transportation projects that project a lower return-on-investment than the highest-ROI unbuilt HSR segment (Derek’s idea); ban public-sector unions and renegotiate all public-sector post-employment benefits; replace all public schools with need-based vouchers to be used at private schools evaluated by publicly funded third-party evaluators; eliminate minimum sentencing laws and draw down the prison population; replace the failed and money-wasting war on drugs with an excise tax + educate/rehab scheme like the one that has decimated tobacco use.

    Applying to both of the above categories, make sure CAHSR is built and run to support consumers, investors and businesses according to free-market principles (including open international competitions for all contracts) and not to empower California bureaucrats and unions. It took Democrats’ progressivism and ability to envision a world beyond the status quo to get CAHSR approved, but it will take Republicans’ realistic wisdom about how good things actually get done to make CAHSR succeed.

    Derek Reply:

    You stole my thunder, and added some of your own. Well done.

    synonymouse Reply:

    “ban public-sector unions and renegotiate all public-sector post-employment benefits”

    Keep talking like that and Nancy Pelosi will drop this workfare project like a moldy croissant.

    The entire purpose of this project is to funnel money to the friends of the patronage machine, notably PB and favored unions. “Prevailing wages” go to pay union dues, a regular chunk of which goes back to Pelosi & Co. in the form of campaign contributions.

    Pandering to Palmdale and Fresno is just a peripheral part of doing political business. That is adjustable if they are willing to be bought off. But a PB-union closed shop is not negotiable.

    Welcome to the one-party world. Vote no; go to jail.

    Robert Cruickshank Reply:

    In short, use HSR as a means to achieve your radical ideological fantasies.

    No, I don’t think that’s what we’re going to do.

    Derek Reply:

    If making sure CAHSR “is built and run to support consumers, investors and businesses according to free-market principles” is now a radical ideological fantasy, then all is already lost.

    joe Reply:

    Yes, banning unions is totally free market.

    Paul Druce Reply:

    The irony of this is absolutely astounding.

    synonymouse Reply:

    Both the genesis and play-out of hsr in California are entirely political.

    The WSJ shanks the CHSRA and its political machinations:

    I guess they have not yet picked up on the SNCF scandal. Nor are the cheerleaders and foamers seeing the real upshot of the SNCF proposal on Tehachapi Stilt-A-SkyRail. Private financing-private operation automatically triggers Tejon, I-5, Altamont. The Grand DeTour inherently generates operating deficits as it is conceptually different; it is a regional commuter operation centered in some of the poorest and auto-oriented areas of the State. It cannot be profitable; it is not even a TEE but a sort of AmBART.

    However there is a residual political problem with the blend accepted by Brown-Richard and perhaps it is a tacit reason why Kopp is miffed. Interaction with the class ones via Amtrak, Caltrain, Metrolink not means FRA-heavy but also mainline railroad unions. Pelosi & Co. would vastly prefer Amalgamated or TWU to BLE-UTU.

    synonymouse Reply:

    Substitute Amtrak, etc. not only means

    Alon Levy Reply:

    So, the rumors at my place are that SNCF wanted west-of-99 rather than I-5, but PB stoked NIMBY fears, the same ones that Robert posted about a few months ago against the value engineering that the HSRA was doing (i.e. swerve around unserved towns rather than grade-separate).

    synonymouse Reply:

    That could work, but the I-5 ROW is not that far displaced to the west and we own it.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    Actually, I-5 is 80 km southwest of Fresno, whereas west-of-99 can get within 10 km since the city sprawls to the east more than to the west.

    There’s less difference with Bakersfield, granted.

    Andrew Reply:

    Robert, identify the ideologue:

    * Supports CAHSR but not Desert Express
    * Supports the publicly funded construction of HSR but also its subjection to market constraints
    * Supports mass transit but also recognizes the fundamental importance of private enterprise and personal initiative
    * Supports private-sector unions but not public-sector unions
    * Proposes paying for HSR through a combination of new revenue and spending cuts
    * Sees the logic and flaws in both Democratic and Republican ideologies

    * Supports any HSR project indiscriminately, including Desert Express
    * Reflexively supports almost all CAHSRA actions and policies
    * Proposes paying for HSR completely through increasing revenue
    * Sees nearly all Republican or anti-HSR opinions as unfounded and ideologically motivated
    * Supports unions in both the private and the public sector, ignoring the fundamental differences between these
    * Sees Democratic questioning of CAHSR as disloyal to the cause and motivated by Tea Party ideologies

    joe Reply:

    It’s hard. If you added “serious” and “chiseled” to PERSON A’s characteristics then I’d say Andrew.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    Neither of them are Real Americans(tm) and therefore don’t count.

    Andrew Reply:

    Joe, you prove the point: The ideologue is the one who in encountering a divergent opinion can see only ideology.

    joe Reply:

    Do you know an ideology is? It’s like a nose – it’s there but hard to see.

    “a set of ideas that constitute one’s goals, expectations, and actions. An ideology can be thought of as a comprehensive vision, as a way of looking at things (compare worldview), as in several philosophical tendencies (see political ideologies), or a set of ideas proposed by the dominant class of a society to all members of this society (a “received consciousness” or product of socialization). “

    Jon Reply:

    If you strip out all the words with negative associations like ‘indiscriminately’ and ‘reflexively’ from the description of Person R- words which, by the way, betray the poster’s own ideological convictions- you have two points of view which could be classed as ‘moderately conservative’ and ‘progressive’. Both of which are ideological viewpoints.

    Don’t try to pretend that you don’t have an ideology and Robert does. You both have an ideology, and both are different to each others. And it’s not a bad thing to have an ideology- some might say ‘set of beliefs’ or ‘principles’- so long as you’re aware of it. Pretending you don’t have an ideology just makes you more likely to follow it blindly.

  6. BruceMcF
    Jul 14th, 2012 at 20:03

    California could go it alone, but I’d advise against it. As existing Rapid Rail projects come into service, California will get more political leverage working with Washington, Oregon, Illinois, Michigan, North Carolina, Virgina, Maine, Vermont, New Hampshire and the NEC States (Maryland, Delaware, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, New York, Connecticut, Rhode Island, Massachusetts) in getting HSR funding at an 80:20 state match and an Infratructure Bank into a 2015 or 2017 Transportation Bill.

    John Nachtigall Reply:

    You really think given the underwhelming success of the last fiscal stimulus (and its shovel ready projects) that congress, even under Democratic control, would green light an infrastructure bank?

    Almost every loan the current administration has given to green projects has failed. You can’t believe they are anxious to give more.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    can we see the list of Communists in the State Department too? .. when you give a list of some of the failed projects. Plural.

    John Nachtigall Reply:

    Ok this will be easy, her is a link to 14 of them

    Solyndra was just the worst example, there have been plenty

    I have a small problem with the government giving loans to private businesses but I could get past that. My big problem is how bad they are at picking winners. When Rommney was at Bain at least they won way more then they lost.

    egk Reply:

    My quick google gives 40 as the numer of projects funded under the the program which funded Solyndra. 14 of 40 doesn’t isn’t “almost every.” Be critical of the program – there are reasons to be – but don’t lie about it.

    John Nachtigall Reply:

    You are assuming the others are going well. Those 14 have gone bankrupt, it is not like the others are tearing it up. Many are on life support.

    So prove me wrong, give me the list of the companies that have taken off which got those loans

    VBobier Reply:

    Their on life support or they’ve gone bankrupt cause of the great recession which began in 2007
    under George W. Bush, notably since Obama became President in 2008, 1st Repugs filibustered in the US Senate(one needs 60+ votes to overcome a filibuster, Democrats had less than 60 votes), then in Nov 2010 they gained the House and started more Warfare on the President by refusing to pass bill after bill, wanting to defund this or block grant that, they really don’t care who they hurt…

    The President had a Jobs bill, stopped cold in the House, before that the Stimulus was supposed to be 2 to 3 times bigger than it ended up being, Repugs wanted it to be mainly tax breaks for the top 1%(KOCH Brothers, etc) who don’t need them…

    missiondweller Reply:

    I guess when you can’t disprove the fact youre forced to go is some strange directions.

    Are you really blaming Obama’s failed stimulus on Bush? The Koch brothers stopped his stimulus? Is that the same fillibuster proof super majority I remember Dems having?

    What are you smokin dude?

    Tony d. Reply:

    Stop with the GOP nonsense! The stimulus kept our country from going into a full blown depression. You want to classify that as “failed”? Watching to much Faux News are we?

    VBobier Reply:

    @ missiondweller Repugs in Congress cut the Stimulus from 1.8 trillion to less than 900 Billion, that’s who to blame, Bush had nothing to do with the Stimulus, as to the KOCH’s they just bought Repugs in Congress. The filibuster means one needs 60+ votes to overcome it, it’s called a cloture vote, can’t get the 60+ votes? The filibuster goes on and on in the US Senate, the Dems didn’t have a super majority, at most 58 votes, now it’s 51 votes, to get the Stimulus Past which passed with 81 votes Repugs wanted deep tax cuts for the upper 1%, plus they wanted almost no spending in the economy or they’d vote No as a group…

    The (United States Senate elections, 2008)wiki says this:

    Going into the 2008 election, the Senate consisted of 49 Democrats, 49 Republicans, and two independents (Bernie Sanders of Vermont and Joe Lieberman of Connecticut) who caucused with the Democrats.[1] Of the seats up for election in 2008, 23 were held by Republicans and 12 by Democrats. At the start of the 111th Congress, the Democrats held 56 seats in the Senate, with the two independents continuing to caucus with the Democrats for a total of 58.

    58 is not a filibuster proof majority or even a so called super majority…
    Today 58 is now only 51 with 2 independents to spare who caucus with Democrats, Repugs now have 47 votes and only 47.

    VBobier Reply:

    @ missiondweller (United States Senate elections, 2010)wiki Record of the Stimulus vote
    (HR 5140) from 2008 and who cast votes…

    BruceMcF Reply:

    The failure of the stimulus is it fell far short of the GDP gap. We know that because those countries who had a larger stimulus relative to their GDP, such as Australia, got more impact from their stimulus. $500b in spending mostly spread out over three years is obviously not going to fill a major part of a $1,000b+ GDP gap per year, but even so the stimulus resulted in substantial reductions in the unemployment rate at its peak of spending.

    Obviously the republican obstructionism that prevented the follow-up jobs bill ensured that the recovery would weaken, since winning a Presidential race is more important than the well-being of their constituents.

    John Nachtigall Reply:

    That is flat out false. Obama’s administrations specifically stated the stimulus would keep unemployment below 8%. This nonsense that they needed a follow up bill is revisionist. The current administration specifically stated that the 900 billion stimulus would”save” the economy and was enough.

    Tony d. Reply:

    It did save the economy! Hence the Great recession and not the 2nd Great Depression. Things such as the European debt crisis, housing collapse, Japanese tragedy and congressional GOP obstruction have been completely out of Obama’s control.

    John Nachtigall Reply:

    Obama’s first 2 years he had a clear playing field. Remember health care reform. And you only need 50+1 to pass spending in the Senate. But that isn’t the point

    If govnment spending actually stimulated the economy then Greece would be awesome and Germany would be in recession….but here in the real world it is taxes and wages that have the big effect

    VBobier Reply:

    Actually that is not true, You need 60 votes, not 50+1, lame answer on Yer part John, you can do better than that. 60 votes gets to overcome a filibuster, less than 60 votes and yep the Senator can filibuster to prevent a vote for as a long as they want and without having to read or do anything under the current rules that Reid wants to change in 2013, If He can that is.

    A filibuster in the United States Senate usually refers to any dilatory or obstructive tactics used to prevent a measure from being brought to a vote. The most common form of filibuster occurs when a senator attempts to delay or entirely prevent a vote on a bill by extending the debate on the measure, but other dilatory tactics exist. The rules permit a senator, or a series of senators, to speak for as long as they wish and on any topic they choose, unless “three-fifths of the Senators duly chosen and sworn”[1] (usually 60 out of 100 senators) brings debate to a close by invoking cloture under Senate Rule XXII.

    BruceMcF Reply:

    You need 50+1 at the beginning of the session to pass a change of rules under which you only need 50+1 to pass spending in the Senate ~ with the change of rules a substantial reduction in power of individual Senators.

    You only need 50+1 to pass a measure under reconciliation procedures, but reconciliation procedures cannot be used for the majority of bills pass by the House that died in the Senate in 2009-2010.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    and if giving tax breaks to rich people and deregulating markets was the way to go we should be worrying about wage driven inflation because the unemployment rate is so low.

    John Nachtigall Reply:

    Here is a link to the vote

    Quite simply there were 60 votes, no republicans. They had the votes in the first 2 years to do whatever they wanted

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    There are companies on that list that are going bankrupt. Others that are doing okay. One that got a small government loan to build a flywheel electricity plant that is paying off the loan even though the parent company is going bankrupt for reasons unrelated to the loan.

    nick Reply:

    thats what they all say – so what happened in 2008 then – private sector failure big time

    BruceMcF Reply:

    You really think given the underwhelming success of the last fiscal stimulus (and its shovel ready projects) that congress, even under Democratic control, would green light an infrastructure bank?

    Yes, since (1) the infrastructure spending was among the most successful stimulus projects and (2) whether the economy remains depressed or the economy is in an economic boom, we still need to reverse the policy of underspending on infrastructure of the past thirty years and return to the policies that built the economy of our nation.

    On the question of whether a Democratically controlled House of Representatives will be confused by the right wing noise machine into thinking that an infrastructure bank is the same thing as the George W. Bush green loans program … no, I don’t think they will get the two confused at all.

  7. John Nachtigall
    Jul 14th, 2012 at 20:07

    I had a debate teacher once who told me that sometimes the best strategy is to shut up and let you opponent do all the work for you. With supporters such as this, it is no wonder that HSR has gone nowhere in the US for so long.

    - So you want to raise new fees and taxes in the amount of about 30 billion even though California taxpayers have rejected tax increases in the last, what is it now, 3 or 4 general elections? But you think it is “overstated” how much they dislike taxes

    - You want to raise the VLF even though the last guy who did that was recalled. But you are sure that voters will support that now.

    - You use a funding mechanism that is 100% regressive so you can alienate the most voters possible.

    - This proposal will raise gas prices and institute tolls on what are now non-toll roads. Further alienating voters

    - you will collect this money now, and tell the people paying you will give them a HSR system in about 18 years if all goes well.

    - You will tax and fee the whole state, but only those living in the HSR corridor will benefit

    And all in the name of the environment even though the HSR Authorities own analysis only predicts a reduction of 1.2% traffic by 2040.

    I can only hope that Jerry Brown and other supporters latch onto this plan and propose it. It will have the advantage of killing HSR and Prop 30 all at once. Brilliant. Are you sure you are not a GOP spy?

    P.S. The plan was sold to the voters of CA as seed money to match federal and private dollars, not as a way to tax them to death.

    peninsula Reply:

    And, meanwhile you’ll raise these taxes while thousands of homes, businesses, farms, schools, parks, churches, downtowns, local throughfares, (etc) are being raped by CHSRA eminent domain over hundreds of miles of the state.

    Jay Taylor Reply:

    Exaggerate much?

    VBobier Reply:

    @ Jay Taylor, peninsula does that as He’s anti-HSR, My spellchecker thinks that He’s the Antichrist.

    @ peninsula, eminent domain pays money at fair market value, it doesn’t take land without payment as yer implying, why don’t Ya just come out and say it’s theft, what’s next bring out the Guns?

    Tony D. Reply:

    Oh just shut the hell up and move to Alabama already!…

    John Nachtigall Reply:

    Curious….Why Alabama?

    And that was a brilliant retort by the way, I am properly chastised.

    Drunk Engineer Reply:

    California taxpayers have rejected tax increases in the last, what is it now, 3 or 4 general elections?

    Could be 5 come this Fall — thanks to HSR.

    VBobier Reply:

    Or it could still be 3 or 4…

    John Nachtigall Reply:

    It must really bother you that the majority just don’t believe in higher taxes

    Peter Reply:

    Last time I checked 54% in favor of the tax increase is a majority. Most-crippling-ever-Proposition 13 is why a simple majority is insufficient to pass a tax measure. There’s literally no rational reason for why a 2/3 majority should be required for something as basic as taxation.

    joe Reply:

    super-majorites are undemocratic and lead to failure for any organization/government.

    Spokker Reply:

    “Last time I checked 54% in favor of the tax increase is a majority.”

    Wasn’t it over 60% back in March?

    John Nachtigall Reply:

    It only counts if you get 50+% at the vote. You only have 54% and they have not even started running opposition ads.

    Jerry Reply:

    So does that mean we can get into a trillion dollar war in Iraq and cut taxes at the same time? By the way, please remind me, just what did we get for that trillion dollars? (Which we still owe!)

    John Nachtigall Reply:

    Sadam is dead. Iraq is free. Terrorist forces are attacking Americans in Iraq not in America

    synonymouse Reply:

    Hopefully – it is the only way to slap Jerry out of his coma and realize what he has been party to.

    He reminds me of the British officer played by Alec Guinness in “The Bridge on the River Kwai”.

    Paul Druce Reply:

    Last tax increase was 2004, Prop 63, which imposes an additional 1% income tax on incomes over $1 million for mental health purposes.

    John Nachtigall Reply:

    Thanks Paul, I had not realized how far back it was

    Henry Porter Reply:

    Best post on the page. Good job!

    You guys are living in Fantasy Land.

  8. Tony D.
    Jul 14th, 2012 at 20:10

    Now this is what I’m talking about Robert! @#$%^! the Feds! (at least the Tea Party Congress). Time to put this entire project in our hands and proceed with California’s future. If any (or all) of Spurs idea’s make it to the ballot box (if that’s necessary at all), consider my vote a resounding YES! I’m sure others would vote yes as well.

    Re: an earlier post; I believe one of the articles I read stated JR East was urging the Japanese government to assist with financing our proposed system. Again Robert, if you get a chance perhaps you could do a thread on the new Japanese, California consortium and what it could mean for our system.

  9. Tony d.
    Jul 14th, 2012 at 21:23

    C’mon anti-tax foamers! Read carefully what Spur is proposing before comparing it with socialism and the USSR. An increase in the gas tax: you wouldn’t pay an extra $1.50-$2.00 a fill up for better transit? You often pay that much to line the pockets of Big Oil. An extra $8.50 for the VLF? Is that really gonna break the bank for HSR? Cap N Trade? Not out of your pocket. Mello Roos districts near train stations? Don’t live near one and you won’t have to pay extra in property taxes. Road tolls? Wow, now that’s communist! (See current toll systems that are very common back East and with our bridges). All in all, a sound proposal by Spur that won’t be as bad as some are portraying here.

    joe Reply:

    It is the oppose – the taxes are not based on income but hit everyone equally – it is very regressive.
    This is closer to libertarian / GOP tax policy. It is hard to find and keep a job and not operate a vehicle.

    California Minimum Wage is 8.00 per Hour (January 1, 2012).
    Unemployment rate, California is 10.8% of the labor force – Seasonally Adjusted – May 2012

    Latest COLA is 3.6 percent for Social Security benefits and SSI payments. Social Security benefits will increase by 3.6 percent beginning with the December 2011 benefits, which are payable in January 2012.

    Derek Reply:

    So, subsidize motor vehicles for everyone just because a few need assistance? Food is more important, shouldn’t we instead start giving food stamps to the rich?

    Joe Reply:

    We do not tax food in CA because it is more important.

    The taxes will go to HSR, not your utopian idea of regressive use fees.

    Stop making stupid comments and blaming me for them.

    VBobier Reply:

    Actually your food comment is incomplete as I find it lacking a bit, foods in CA can be taxed if their heated or prepared by a store, is that idiotic? Yes I think it is.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    The vast majority of people don’t need their food to be prepared for them. You don’t want to pay sales tax on that sandwich, have the deli sell you a quarter of a pound of cold cuts, a roll and a packet of mustard then assemble it yourself.

    VBobier Reply:

    I usually only buy store cooked sandwiches or heated items occasionally, 99% of the time I don’t, but then I try & keep My food bill as near to $120 as I can per month, usually under $120.

    joe Reply:

    I knew of the limitation. Prepared food includes labor and cost for the convenience. It’s taxed for those reasons. It’s trying to level the playing field for restaurants and fast food providros who get taxed.

    WIC even limits what one can buy – certain foods are do not qualify.

    If CA taxed oil extraction like Alaska does (25%) we could have up to 8 B in new revenue. It’s not regressive either. That oil is sold on the open market.

    VBobier Reply:

    A tax on oil profits would be great, problem is it’s not on the ballot for this November.

    joe Reply:

    Apparently oil extraction taxes are not in SPUR either.

    There are was to raise revenue that are fair and used by the reddest of red states.

    Maybe these are hard fights but they are worth fighting and demonstrate how CA can fund HSR or schools.

    VBobier Reply:

    Or both HSR and schools, plus local roads and rail transportation.

    VBobier Reply:

    Dedicate an oil tax profits for HSR construction and electrified local rail transportation, of course since not all areas of the state need any sort of rail, It would need something for areas that don’t take part, so since they have roads, road cleanup, maintenance & improvement to also be paid by an oil profits tax, so that everyone gets a share and so that everyone wins. The area where I live could use some of that as the roads are patched and cracks are sealed, but rarely do the roads get repaved.

    Henry Porter Reply:

    Balancing HSR funding on taxpayers who will never have any use for it is just like giving food stamps to the rich.

    joe Reply:

    Everyone one eats – the rich need food. They even collect social security.

    You make great points in favor of HSR.

    Henry Porter Reply:

    And you are so blind to the idiocy of HSR that you even see criticism as “points in favor”.

    Joe Reply:

    I see the idiocy quite clearly.

    We all eat. We all pay into and collect SS. We all pay into and can use HSR.

    Henry Porter Reply:

    Using that kind of, um, logic (?), one could argue that Disneyland, golf courses, cruises to Alaska and brothels should be funded by “all” because “all” “CAN” use them.

    Face it Dude, HSR is a transfer of wealth UP the wealth scale. It takes money from the working class and gives it to the privileged class.

    Andy M. Reply:

    how come the GOP isn’t in support then?

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    The GOP doesn’t support it because Real Americans(tm) don’t ride trains and as an added benefit pisses off hippies.

    D. P. Lubic Reply:

    It also doesn’t support the GO(B)P, a/k/a the GOPP, or Grand Old Petroleum Party.

    VBobier Reply:

    The 3.6% COLA only effected the Federal benefits of Social Security & Supplemental Security Income benefits, not CA State benefits as their frozen in place.

    Joe Reply:

    Good point -

    VBobier Reply:

    Thank You, I got the 3.6% this last January 2012, I’ll be amazed if I get another cola, What I really need is not the joke cola, but a $400 a month raise in My Federal part of My SSI check, as I barely make it now on My own & I have nowhere to retreat to, at least as long as My Sister in law is alive, after that She said She’d leave it up to Her kids If I could live in Her house if I needed to, If I needed to right now, She said No, it’s not like She doesn’t have an extra room, but She uses it for a PC room and its a small room too, besides My OA in My shoulders says No to sub 74F temps, She likes 68F right now, I’m 52, She’s 63. So My goal is to get $901.00 together for moving and get a USDA RD Direct mortgage on a small house in Adelanto CA($62,000.00 max, 800sqft to 1300sqft max) near My relatives starting on 05/01/2015 as that’s the soonest I can start on that.

    VBobier Reply:

    The $901.00 in moving costs also includes $291.00 in utility deposits.

    John Nachtigall Reply:

    You got me all wrong…I could not be more supportive. Roll this proposal out now. I think your comment will make a great campaign commercial.

    I have your tag line…

    Higher taxes…come on it is not that bad

    Tony d. Reply:

    I guess for some it will always be no taxes for nothing …oh well, what can you do.

    Henry Porter Reply:

    Spend it wisely?

    A dollar spent on highways benefits $38 million Californians every hour of every day. A dollar spent on HSR would benefit a handful of well-to-do business travelers a couple of times a year.

  10. slackfarmer
    Jul 14th, 2012 at 22:42

    The SPUR plan is a useful hypothetical to show that California could do HSR alone if need be. Great. Now that that’s done, let’s end all talk down this path. It can only help undermine efforts to lobby the feds.

    What I and every sane California taxpayer should want is the most federal dollars as possible for HSR. To the extent any of the mentioned revenues are politically feasible, plow them into the general fund to help right our state’s fiscal mess and lower borrowing costs.

    Joe Reply:

    I think cost sharing is going to win us more Fed help than going for straight up grants. It even provides political cover for CA getting the bulk of the funding offered.

    BruceMcF Reply:

    Transportation grants normally involve cost sharing, normally described as the state match. Local rail projects that win Federal funding often have a state match over 50%. Intercity transport projects have normally been in the range of a 20% state match, which is about what the California delegation should be aiming for when they push to get HSR funds included in a 2015 or 2017 Transportation Bill.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    Amtrak estimates that the states have paid for 2/3rds of the capital costs along the NEC….

  11. jimsf
    Jul 15th, 2012 at 09:34

    Bottom line is this.

    You’re never going to pass a gas tax. So forget it.
    Raising VLF is out of the question, people will scream bloody murder.

    You could possibly create a district like bart where the counties served by hsr pay a local tax into the system. The problem is that with so much negative press, there is too much opposition spread around the counties involved so its not politically possible right now.

    You can’t use any money from the general fund that would impact any of the other sacred programs in california.

    Perhaps a bond issue to cover the cost and facility fee, tax, on each ticket sold to pay off the construction bonds. A tax on each ticket sold, and, let multiple operators run over the tracks and charge them rent.

    This seems to be the only way, combined with whatever the feds will cough up.

    YESONHSR Reply:

    You could raise the gas tax if it included roads and transit..and it would pass in all the big counties..At this point the project has alot of media/nimby bad news damage so NO tax of any kind would pass..maby in 5-10 years ..and If DC get a real decent HSR funding act we wont need as much from local sources

    rant Reply:

    I have said this before and will say it again…. It is absolutely essential that we plan and secure right-of-way for the CAHSR. That said, I ask myself… Why should the feds have to pay for the construction of CAHSR? CAHSR benefits only CA not the nation. What am I missing?

    BruceMcF Reply:

    Nobody actually proposes that the Federal government appropriate funds dedicated to the construction of the CAHSR system. The proposal is that the Federal Government appropriate funds for the construction of intercity HSR, and that the California project apply for a share of the funds.

    joe Reply:

    Many federal projects reside in one state. Congress has a responsibility within states as well as between states. 1/9 of all Americans are Californians.

    jimsf Reply:

    without california’s economy, the US would be in big trouble. They damn sure better invest here.

    J. Wong Reply:

    California also pays taxes to the Federal gov’t. It’s only fair that we get some of it back.

    Henry Porter Reply:

    You’re missing nothing. HSR is to CA as corn subsidies are to a handful of farming conglomerations in Nebraska.

    joe Reply:

    Q: What do CA ranchers feed their cattle?
    A: Nebraska corn.

    Henry Porter Reply:

    Right. And the Nebraska cows will ride on your trains.

    You don’t get it, do you? The Gov pays them to NOT grow the corn.

    Joe Reply:

    No you do not understand.

    The grain is sold below cost. That is why it is less expensive for cattlemen to buy grain than grow thier own feed.

  12. jimsf
    Jul 15th, 2012 at 09:40

    I like the idea of toll roads, not to pay for hsr, but to take the burden of highway construction, improvement and maintenance costs, off the general fund and put it more directly on users. But I wouldn’t create a slush fund with it. My plan would be that each state highway or section of interstate, that opted for tolling, would get that money for that road only. Money collected along i-5 can only be used for i-5 improvements. Money collected on the 405 or 280, could only be spent for 405 or 280 improvements and so forth. That way the local, regualr users of each road would be assured that the money they are shelling out would be applied directly back to improve their commute and not siphoned off for someone elses pet projects.

    And if users of say, the 210 freeway decided they want “x” improvements, they can decide collectively to adjust the toll on the 210 to pay for said improvement.

    BruceMcF Reply:

    So, they get the money collected in tolls, and continue to collect the same a share of taxes collected from drivers, continuing to leave drivers on the roads heavily subsidized? Or they get the money collected in tolls and surrender some of the dedicated gas tax road funding to help pay for some of the other costs of the road transport system?

    jimsf Reply:

    Id say that those highways that swtich to toll, forfeit other money and instead keep 100 percent of money collected.

    Money collected by traditional sources now would go to non toll roads and to local roads.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    So when you are burning taxed gasoline on the tolled road that’s not a subsidy to the non-toll road users? Just like when you burn taxed gasoline on local streets that don’t get much, if any gas tax money spent on them.

    BruceMcF Reply:

    That don’t get any Federal gas tax money spent on them, unless they are a qualifying highway running through the municipality. Whether they get local gas tax money spent on them varies from state to state, but even in states where its allowed, its rarely as much as the local tax revenues lost by exempting gas from local sales taxes.

    datacruncher Reply:

    VTA and Merced County are already talking about imposing tolls on Highway 152 to pay for improvements between Gilroy and Los Banos.

  13. Reedman
    Jul 15th, 2012 at 09:51

    The highway system finances are an example of perfect equilibrium. If you look at the combined sales tax on gasoline with the excise tax on gasoline, it is the same as the total cost of the road system, both new construction and maintenance. There is no ‘subsidy’ for roads coming from the taxpayer/General Fund. People driving cars are ‘paying their way’. [and, the cars are paying for transit. The tolls on the Golden Gate Bridge heavily subsidize the bus system there, and as has been recently described by the SF Chron and on this blog, the $14 round-trip ferry ride from Oakland to SF actually costs $100 to provide, with the difference being paid by drivers.].

    The solution for CAHSR is to set the fares at the price of providing the service (including paying off the construction bonds) — no federal money needed, no subsidy needed.

    BruceMcF Reply:

    Note that this ‘perfect equilibrium’ is in the world where the cost of the road system is the only external cost of the car transport system. That isn’t the real world: in the real world, ignoring the existence of costs does not make them go away. If drivers only pay the cost of road maintenance, that directly implies that they fall far short of paying their own way.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    Could we work on getting them to pay the cost of maintenance first?

    BruceMcF Reply:

    Defined as the cost needed to maintain the system in a state of good repair?

    Certainly not, because if you judge based on the damage that the drivers actually do to the road versus the money they pay in, the whole “gas taxes pay the cost of maintenance” argument falls apart.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    Good repair and things like snow plowing that get paid for by property taxes.

    BruceMcF Reply:

    Part of good repair is funded out of gas taxes, but a substantial portion of that is a cross subsidy from driving on roads not funded by the Highway Fund paying gas taxes that go to roads funded by the Highway Fund.

    Indeed, property taxes means in part paid for by freight railroads, since the roadways are property tax exempt and the privately owned railroads are not, and the gas tax revenues are entirely exhausted by only a portion of the explicit cost of roadworks.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    If you look at the combined sales tax on gasoline with the excise tax on gasoline, it is the same as the total cost of the road system, both new construction and maintenance.

    Citation needed

  14. trentbridge
    Jul 15th, 2012 at 10:16

    I have no problem with increasing the gas tax per se. It would be much more politically savy to raise the gas tax by $0.15/gal and sell the public on the concept that $0.10/gal goes to improving highways and $0.05/gal goes to public transportation projects. Then every politician in Sacramento can support a tax increase that results in improved roads/improved transit in their district. The Democrats lost four votes in the Senate for CAHSR because the politicians didn’t see money flowing to projects in their district. The vast majority of voters in California are motorists first and a tiny fraction are public transit advocates so it’s unlikely that Californians would increase their taxes on projects that wouldn’t benefit themselves.

    Otherwise the proposals assume that the general public will happily pay taxes on a project that they have no intention of using! I’d say that has as much chance as asking passengers at LAX to pay an airport access fee to buy modern snow-plowing equipment.

    VBobier Reply:

    I agree on that, Me I don’t drive to too many places, so it would not hurt Me any and My income is less than anyone in CA, bar none as It’s below minimum wage in level, as I get $10,252.80 per year in 2012($854.40 a month), in 2013 who knows yet, it shouldn’t go down, at least as long as that piece of crap known as the 2013 House budget authored by Repugnican Paulie Ryan fails in the US Senate…

    But I ‘d like to see that they raise the gas tax by $0.25/gal and sell the public on the concept that $0.15/gal goes to improving highways and $0.10/gal goes to public transportation projects and be indexed to inflation instead.

    John Nachtigall Reply:

    So you don’t think you can pass a $.05 per gallon tax but you can pass a $0.15 pe gallon tax?

    They are having real difficulties passing a tax to support basic education and welfare spending and CA voters have not approved a tax increase in 8 years. they recalled the last governor that tried to raise the VLF.

    Face reality…there is not way you are going to get voters to raise these taxes. You have a better shot at the Dems getting a super majority in the legislature and raising it that way..until they get voted out that is

    Neil Shea Reply:

    That is the right approach, I would devote over half to roads (e.g. 60% or 55%). But I think voters are sensitive about each cent, so we might have better chances with 6c the first year and 3c per year for the next 4 years. It gets you 18c when fully phased in, not as much as we might want but its something. It could expire if that helps get it passed.

  15. synonymouse
    Jul 15th, 2012 at 11:23

    You’ll never work in this town again:

    kinda why posters use a handle instead of their real name

    joe Reply:

    Anonymous criticism goes back to the very foundations of this democracy. It is necessary.

    This case however seems different – it involves the USDA exercising what is already claimed to be allowed by our laws. We have no expectation of privacy when using our employer’s network, computer or email system. These are USDA employees using USDA computer systems.

    If anyone wants privacy; use your own computer system, email account and network. The scanning of memory keys is questionable. There maybe policies against using personal (unsecured) memory keys with corporate and government equipment.

    A wide-ranging surveillance operation by the Food and Drug Administration against a group of its own scientists used an enemies list of sorts as it secretly captured thousands of e-mails that the disgruntled scientists sent privately to members of Congress, lawyers, labor officials, journalists and even President Obama, previously undisclosed records show.

    The agency, using so-called spy software designed to help employers monitor workers, captured screen images from the government laptops of the five scientists as they were being used at work or at home. The software tracked their keystrokes, intercepted their personal e-mails, copied the documents on their personal thumb drives and even followed their messages line by line as they were being drafted, the documents show.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    We have no expectation of privacy when using our employer’s network, computer or email system.

    No expectation of privacy when you use their telephone system either. No expectation of privacy if you use company paper, envelopes and postage too.
    You decide to use your employer’s network, your employer is the one paying for the equipment and the bandwidth, they can look at whatever you do with it.

    VBobier Reply:

    Mines real, don’t like it? too bad cause I can if I want and I want, I don’t hide by a fake name like a yellow bellied coward as they said in the old west.

  16. Mike Brennan
    Jul 15th, 2012 at 13:40

    I would love to read a post about what the approval of bond money means for shovels in the ground. Any information about this? When do we see dirt move? HELP??

  17. Emma
    Jul 15th, 2012 at 13:41

    Here’s my proposal. California could set up a state-owned bank. They have already passed legislature to study the potential benefits of such a bank:

    The bank would not only aid economic recovery right now by helping local businesses and even city governments out, offering loans, the profit could be used by the state government to fund new projects *hint* CA HSR *hint*

    “North Dakota, the one state that currently has its own bank, is the only state to be in continuous budget surplus since the banking crisis began. North Dakota’s balance sheet is so strong that it recently reduced individual income taxes and property taxes by a combined $400 million and is debating further cuts. It also has the lowest unemployment rate, lowest foreclosure rate and lowest credit card default rate in the country, and it hasn’t had a bank failure in at least the last decade.”

    Another obvious benefit from a state-owned bank is the fact that it would have far more patience for long-term projects that private investment would never support, not to mention provide student loans at lower rates for California students who attend CSUs and UCS. A state-owned bank would also guarantee a more productive investment of hundreds of billions of dollars in state funds

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    …now if we could arrange for California to have an oil boom like North Dakota is having, things might get better in California.

    joe Reply:


    California does not tax oil extraction.
    We are the third biggest producer of oil and the only producer that does not tax oil extraction. Texas taxes oil extraction and Alaska taxes oil to 25% of the value of extracted oil and gas.

    “At last year’s peak benchmark price of $130 for California crude, the take would be nearly $2 billion. Palin’s tax rate of 25% would generate $4 billion at a $70 price and nearly $8 billion at the top.”

    Alon Levy Reply:

    It would generate employment like in North Dakota. All you need is 50 times the amount of oil North Dakota has, and no concern for people’s lungs.

    joe Reply:

    We’re extracting oil now. It’s happening regardless. I want to tax it.

    CA is the third largest produce of oil by state in the USA.

    North Dakota isn’t #1 or #2.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    Think per capita. It’s a lot easier to have an oil boom when you’re small than when you’re large because the oil profits are split among fewer people.

    joe Reply:

    and then…?

    The taxes for CA Oil would bring in up to 8B a year if we taxed like Alaska does for their Oil.

    I can build and operate HSR – I’d have it finished in 10 years. If oil drops, 12-15 years.

    synonymouse Reply:

    You really think Jerry is going to tax big oil in California when the pathetic Tejon Ranch Co. scares him shitless? He’d rather pick on almond growers.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    Think of it this way: California has a new revenue stream of $8 billion a year. How do you distribute the money among the various government functions? In other words, how much goes to K-12 schools, how much to UC and Cal State, how much to unemployment benefits, how much to HSR, etc.?

    Paul Druce Reply:

    Do note that current CA fields will be tapping out in the 10-15 year timeframe.

    BruceMcF Reply:

    In that case, electrifying Metrolink would be a good investment in reducing California’s petroleum import needs in a 10-15 year timeframe.

    Richard Mlynarik Reply:

    No, it would be a really poor investment if undertaken for such a grasping-at-staws reason.

    Changing work rules and having a single train driver operate Metrolink trains would be an infinitely better investment, allowing more trains to carry more passengers more cheaply, even if you just restrict yourself to Metrolink, which of course is so insignificant in the scale of California transportation fuel consumption that one would be a fool to even waste time considering it.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    Electrifying Metrolink and running first-world trainsets could improve performance and allow adding stops, though.

    BruceMcF Reply:

    No, it would be a really poor investment if undertaken for such a grasping-at-staws reason.

    Electrification does not interfere with reform in work rules, so that the investment in electrifying Metrolink does not reduce the benefits available from reforming work rules.

    As far as the return on investment from reforms in work rules, that depends upon the investment that is required in order to win the reforms in work rules. Whether any of those who argue for the benefits of those reforms will ever make sufficient investment to win the policy fight is an open question.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    Bruce, if you run twice as many trains each of them carrying twice as many passengers the union is gonna squawk but since there won’t be any layoffs, they’ll get over it. Sweeten the pot a bit, a 5 % productivity increase lets say, they would be for it.

    VBobier Reply:

    I’m also in favor of a state owned bank as is Governor Brown.

    Jul 15th, 2012 at 14:10

    From its inception, TRANSDEF has advocated for road tolls and parking charges as the foundations of Transportation Demand Management, which, coupled with the provision of intelligently designed transit, is the principal driver of mode shift. Our work in the Bay Area has been fighting the transit funding decisionmaking that diverts funds to the least-effective projects. Over time, it became clear that this was not just poor planning but pervasive rent-seeking. We’re here because this same dynamic infects HSR.

    Without understanding that context, a successful HSR operation is not possible. The SPUR proposal heads off in an entirely unproductive direction for HSR, because it is premised on feeding the insatiable rent-seeking with ever more tax dollars. The first problem with it is that the project cost is entirely unreasonable, due to its rent-seeking design. The second, and more important, problem is the CHSRA’s rejection of the involvement of private capital, the best hypothesis for which is that it threatened the rent-seekers.

    The California HSR concept had always been one in which private capital played an essential part. However, the 2008 study of private sector interest for the Authority found a universal lack of appetite for ridership risk. “Firms were in agreement that ridership-based compensation cannot be the sole source of compensation.” (p. 12 at The unstated reason was that the chosen route was universally considered to be unprofitable.

    The most striking thing about the 2012 Business Plan is that there is no business. There is no plan to bring in the private financing needed to build and operate a profitable HSR system, other than hoping that the Feds show up with the $27 billion needed to reach Los Angeles:

    “The  magnitude  of  construction,  risks  related  to   completion,  and  the  unknowns  surrounding  actual  levels  of  revenue  were  identified  by  investors  as   reasons  why  significant  early  investment  in  construction  of  the  system  should  not  be  anticipated  from   the  private  sector.  There  was  agreement  that,  absent  state  guarantees,  there  would  be  little  private   capital  available  to  invest  into  the  project  until  after  completion  of  the  IOS  and  a  positive  cash  flow  is demonstrated.” (2012 Business Plan, p. 4-3.)

    As discussed on TRANSDEF’s blog, CHSRA turned down a funded proposal, which included a willingness to negotiate the full assumption of ridership risk after confirmation of the economics during the one-year pre-Development Study. Throwing more tax money at such an agency would be a profound mistake.

    joe Reply:

    TRANSDEF’s website has a graphic for the HSR route:
    Follow the People. Follow the Lights.

    TRANSDEF advocates the I-5 alignment which is a direct contradiction to TRANSDEF’s long held premise that HSR should run over Altamont and along the CV cities.

    So follow TRANSDEF – they have all the answers and it’s serious and they are deep thinkers.

    Just see if they can get someone to help them update that graphic and cleanup that site.

    Richard Mlynarik Reply:

    joe Reply:

    The lights grahopic is still there -maybe you cna help them

    So for secret propsoals that were rejected….

    Its’ really that simple – you send your equation to the GAO and any other information.

    There’s an open investigation into the management of HSR.

    Come on Mel Gibson – send them that Conspiracy File.

    Spokker Reply:

    Haha, I’m laughing at you calling Richard Mel Gibson. I would wager that he hates Mel Gibson more than most people.

    Richard Mlynarik Reply:

    Joe Reply:

    Sorry. Wrong Mel Gibson movie, sorry. Here:

    Martin Riggs: I’m surprised you haven’t heard of me, I got a bad reputation, like sometimes I just go nuts like now ha ha!

    Html is a lethal weapon in your hands.

  19. D. P. Lubic
    Jul 15th, 2012 at 14:49

    Just a little tidbit on a Sunday–an observation on the generational change (though I would place hte age change at 60, not 50):

  20. voting4rail
    Jul 15th, 2012 at 19:37

    Our congress sucks when it comes to dealing with high speed rail!!! Their needs to be a nationwide vote!!!! I live in roanoke virginia an we have NOTHING just a commuter bus to amtrak!!!!

  21. D. P. Lubic
    Jul 15th, 2012 at 19:44

    Another interesting tidbit: Romney and the Republicans like to make a big noise about Solyndra, but it’s interesting to note that Solyndra’s former plant site is about next door to–Tesla Motors.

    Most important point–just like in business, just like real entrepreneurs, sometimes you win, sometimes you loose.

    Important question: What is the success rate for these development loans from the Feds? I understand that most of them have to go through a lot of hoops to get approved. Kind of like rail projects and air projects; they have to have a demonstrated financial efficiency test, even if the cash flow isn’t positive. In contrast, there is (or was) no financial efficiency test for road projects, at least in earlier versions of the transportation bills going back to the “ICE-TEA” legislation years ago.

    BruceMcF Reply:

    Indeed, if those loans had had a 100% success rate, it would be an indication that the private venture equity finance system is completely broken. If the private venture equity finance system is effective in its own goals, it ought to be financing all the sure things, and a substantial collection of the hit or miss risks, with the government left to finance the hit or miss risks that have substantial public benefit upsides that private equity will not take into account when assessing risks and rewards.

    And the program in question was started under Bush ~ with the focus on “ready to go” projects, a lot of what was funded under Stimulus II were initiatives already in place but with a backlog of unfunded projects. The major producer loan that was initiated under Obama was the bail out loan to the auto-industry, which succeeded.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    Exactly. Every business that loans money makes some mistakes, and every other business still makes mistakes with regards to hiring bad workers, pissing off a customer unnecessarily, marketing or pricing suboptimally, etc. The entire reason managers get paid so much is that a good manager will make fewer of those mistakes than the average schlub from the street. Likewise, the reason interest rates can be high is the possibility of default. Risk-free interest rates have no reason to be higher than loaning money to governments that won’t default: if loaning money to startups were as safe as buying T-bills, more people would do that until the startups’ cost of borrowing equaled to that of T-bills.

  22. voting4rail
    Jul 15th, 2012 at 20:30

    They spend so much time turning it down, when they haven’t rode a true high speed rail system!!! Amtrak won’t be able to handle the next 20 years of the northeast population and hello has anybody ever sudjested a cross country high speed rail? Has any of congress took the california zephyr?! It takes FOREVER!! GREYHOUND is faster but with a million more transfers. If we can’t spend billions on highways why not rail? Amtrak is GOV’T OWNED!!! They shoud be getting lots of money!! Our infrastucture is failing slowly (wmata metrorail derrailments in the last 4 years). Chicago CTA, Philadelphia Septa,BOSTONS MBTA (it needs it more than ANYBODY!!!), Atlanta Marta, San Francisco Bay Area Rapid Transit, New York MTA, and Amtrak Long distance routes. I’m hoping the democrats take the house back over because republicans (not all) are not providing money for public transit projects. Here’s just MY opinion of what projects absolutely need to be built…..

    1. BART DOWN GEARY and south to daly city. This would provide and express option for those who live on 19th and sunset, and SFSU students anything in between and westward would be muni.

    2. MORE MONEY FOR THE CENTRAL SUBWAY EXTENDING IT TO NORTH BEACH!!! Simply having tail tracks out of the tunnel would not please the residents of nearby construction over the next couple years.

    3. A NORTHERN EXTENTION OF BARTS RICHMOND LINE!!! Perhaps the most neglected line of bart (ex. Daly city to SFO-MILBRAE, E-BART ON THE PITTSBURGH-BAY POINT LINE TO ANTIOCH, CREATION OF THE DUBLIN-PLESANTON LINE FROM BAY FAIR STATION, AND THEE MORE RECENT WARM SPRINGS & BERRYESSA EXTENTIONS (which SHOULD include a stop in irvington since its more developed than warm springs)). An extention to herculeas and/or vallejo could add many new thousands of riders with an in-fill station in albany.

    4. IN-FILL BART STATIONS. Infill stations the opprotunity to ring in more assengers like the successful embarcaderro station (the busiest station on the system) here’s a list of stations….

    San Antonio (between fruitvale and lake merrit)
    Irvington (between warm springs and fremont)
    Downtown Milpitas (between warm springs and great mall)
    SJSU (between alum rock and -civic center)
    30th street (between glen park and 24th street)
    Jack london square ( immediately south of 12th street) with option for 2nd transbay terminal.
    A stop between macarthur and ashby
    And a possible stop between fruitvale and colliseum, san leandro and bayfair, a local train stop between 16th and 24th street if bart chooses to do express service.

    5. DOWNTOWN RAIL EXTENTION OR (DTX)!!!. Let’s get real nobody wants to keep getting of at 4th and king when you have a awesome new multimodal. Transit center shining oh so bright. This should have been INCLUDED in the revised business plan.

    6. MORE MONEY FOR HIGH SPEED RAIL!!!! We upcoming generations (yes I’m only 18) can use this for JOBS, TRIPSS, AND ECT!!!!

    7. A DOWNTOWN LIVERMORE BART!!! Whatever NYMBIS or however u spell it are they obviously have cars where-as bpeople who live downtown have to take a UNRELIABLE bus system to the HIGHWAY were barrt will be. Now theirs nothing wrong with the i-580 route which could still be used as an express obtion to vasco road but let’s face it the highway does not run through downtown.

    8. TRANSBAY TERMINAL BART STATION. Once the terminal opens public transit will all want to flock to the major hub and what more than to have a second transbay tube leading to the transbay terminal an northwest to geary street.

    9. MUNI METRO SIGNALLING UPGRADES. Muni needs tracks to be replaced in and out of the subway. The N-judah, L-Taraval, K-ingleside, J-church, and M-ocean view needs new tracks and fewer stops with hightened platforms (similar to the T-third corridor. Signalling upgrades to prevent collisions (such as the west portal collision) and within the next 10-5 years new rail vehicles so the T-third can run 2-car trains as well as the K & the J trains.

    10. A NEW BART LINE TO SOUTHWEST SAN JOSE!!!! It wold benefit passengers with only VTA buusses!!!!

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