Congressional Republicans Launch New Attack on California HSR

Dec 6th, 2012 | Posted by

Fresh of their drubbing at the recent elections, Congressional Republicans are seeking a measure of revenge against California by launching a new attack on California high speed rail. And California Republicans are leading the charge.

At issue is a House provision adopted in late June on a highly partisan vote triggered by the California Republican delegation. It would bar any new federal money from going to the Brown-backed California High-Speed Rail Authority.

Rep. Jeff Denham, a Republican freshman and veteran of the California Legislature, was the sponsor. And [Rep. Kevin] McCarthy is using his leadership post to press for the language as part of whatever compromise is reached on transportation funding for the coming year.

Denham and McCarthy, two Republicans from the Central Valley, are trying to kill high speed rail in their own districts by forcing a federal ban on further funding to be part of any major “fiscal cliff” deal reached this month, or part of a transportation funding package, or both.

“I don’t think we are overstepping at all,” Denham said of the House’s intervention. “The state government is broke. My goal is to make sure this high-speed rail project does not move forward until we have it fully funded.”

Of course, Denham is wrong; California isn’t broke. California is almost out of the red and the Legislative Analyst’s Office projects multi-billion dollar surpluses could soon materialize. Far from being broke, California may be in a much better fiscal position than many other states.

McCarthy testified today in Congress:

As the LA Times put it:

“Just because we’ve invested money doesn’t mean we have to invest more,” McCarthy told the committee. “I have real doubt of the viability, the costs and if and when this will ever be built.”

McCarthy said the revised high-speed rail plan calls for $38 billion more in federal funding. But he said that estimates of the train’s ridership were overblown and that Congress may have to subsidize the operation of the train if and when it is ever built.

“Look, I know Hollywood happens to be in California, but this is not a Kevin Costner movie,” he said. “If we built it, I don’t know if they will come.”

Actually, Kevin, we know that they will come. Every other HSR line around the world, including the Amtrak Acela, has high levels of ridership. So too do California’s existing trains. Congress does not have to subsidize the Acela’s operation and there’s never been any discussion of them doing so for the California HSR project. And under Governor Jerry Brown’s leadership, the project costs have been significantly reduced. All of McCarthy’s claims lack merit.

Congressional Democrats pushed back strongly, as did Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood:

LaHood accused Denham of jinxing the process by adding language to the House transportation bill that prohibits the federal government from funding high speed rail in California.”

LaHood told Denham it’s not going to get fully funded “as long as there’s language in bills that says we can’t have any money.” Denham’s amendment was largely symbolic, since there wasn’t any high speed rail money in the House bill.

California’s Republican delegation isn’t the only obstacle to future funding for high speed rail: Congressional members from the Northeast — from both parties — want high speed dollars for a Boston-to-Washington route.

But Democratic D.C. Delegate Eleanor Holmes Norton sounded willing to compromise, saying she’d like to see a pilot project running somewhere soon — even if it’s in California. She reminded fellow committee members that the federal government has a history of investing in transportation during financially trying times: it built railroads during the Civil War.

This battle is likely to continue, as California’s remaining Republicans continue to commit political suicide by waging war on 21st century California. But these games will likely continue as long as Republicans have the majority in the House. I still believe federal funding will materialize. Either way, the state ought to seriously consider going it alone.

  1. joe
    Dec 6th, 2012 at 20:54

    This attack is for Speaker Bohner R-OH and to preserve political power.

    The GAO report GOP critics requested validated the CA Ridership estimates as state of art in practice. Nothing there to stop HSR.

    CA’s Denham and McCarthy have to tow the party line or Speaker Bohner R-OH will demote them. He’s
    already demoted Reps that went against him in 2010-12.

    They see what’s happened to Senator DeMint. He went against the leadership and lost big time – now he’s been forced out of his seat.

  2. joe
    Dec 6th, 2012 at 20:56

    This attack is for Speaker Boehner R-OH and to preserve political power.

    The GAO report GOP critics requested validated the CA Ridership estimates as state of art in practice. Nothing there to stop HSR.

    CA’s Denham and McCarthy have to tow the party line or Speaker Boehner R-OH will demote them. He’s
    already demoted Reps that went against him in 2010-12.

    They see what’s happened to Senator DeMint. He went against the leadership and lost big time – now he’s been forced out of his seat.

    synonymouse Reply:

    ridership estimates state of the art hype

    Supermajority California will inevitably pile on innumerable, many if not mostly, superfluous services, that will be poorly conceived, inefficiently operated, underutilized, adding up to a groaning load of interminable subsidies. Joe Paycheck will be paying half of his income in various taxes and fees with a fraction of today’s discretionary income left.

    Be careful what you wish for.

    VBobier Reply:

    More spew and malarkey…

  3. morris brown
    Dec 6th, 2012 at 23:29

    Well the HSR project took plenty of heat today (12/06/2012) at the Mica House Transportation committee hearing:

    See this exchange between LaHood and Rep. Jeff Denham

    Link: (5 minutes)

    Also picked up as part of Fox News 11 in LA


    @Robert: Surely Robert you are kidding that CA should do this on its own. Have you even begun to calculate the hit to the State’s general fund that additional debt of $$50 – 75 billion would mean, annually, for say 30 years? (range of $3.5 – 5 billion for interest and debt service). Come on, get real.

    Derek Reply:

    Republicans are quite skilled at the self-fulfilling prophecy.

    1. Claim, “you’ll never get enough money for the project.”

    2. Prevent money from reaching the project.

    3. Say, “we told you so!”

    They did it before:

    1. Claim, “we need voter ID to prevent voter fraud.”

    2. Commit voter fraud.

    3. Say, “we told you so!”

    VBobier Reply:

    Ain’t that the truth…

    joe Reply:


    Plate tectonics also took heat from Congress.
    Sec. Chu Explains Plate Tectonics To Rep. Joe Barton (R-TX)

    CA is close to running a surplus. Building HSR to plan is ~2.5 B a year. That’s achievable with an oil extraction tax (Like Alaska and Texas), health savings from Obama Care as it phases in and more tax revenue from a recovering economy.

    Peter Reply:

    That’s more like “science took heat from Congress”. Or, even more precisely, “science took heat from uneducated Republicans”.

    joe Reply:

    We’re broke so kill HSR but … we double the military budget and still the GOP spends more money than requested.
    AP/ May 10, 2012, 11:42 AM House panel OKs more defense money than requested

    synonymouse Reply:

    TehaVegaSkyRail is the transport equivalent of the War in Afghanistan – the quintessential quagmire.

    I am amused that the cheerleaders are so gung-ho on the orphaned Valley track scheme as the best way to inaugurate the Moondoggle. Bako to Fresno is just a little bit more salable than Borden to Corcoran – an isolated, expensive rural commute scheme whose ridership will resemble that of one of BART’s more remote outposts. It is a risky strategy with about the only available pr backup line being “It will get better when it we make it bigger.” Sorta like the apology for the Las Vegas Monorail.

    Defending the Roundabout is like defending the Central Stubway. I cannot grasp why the foamers are so taken with such rank mediocrity. These egregious planning failures undermine the cause.

    The billions that PB intends to throw away at Tehachapi are needed in the urban areas.

    Eric M Reply:

    You says such outlandish things it unbelievable. You also do the same at the Altamont Press discussion boards and people there think you have no clue either.

    synonymouse Reply:

    You mean like 115lb rail is lighter than what the UP would use these days. I am interpreting it to as SMART telling the NCRA-NWP who’s boss.

    Pretty light for the heavy gravel trains the very connected Doug Bosco is reputed to want.

    Peter Reply:

    I guess no one’s going to run any heavy gravel trains, then. Why does this matter?

    And other than rumors, likely originating with you, do you have anything to indicate that anyone wants to run heavy gravel trains? Stop making shit up.

    synonymouse Reply:

    North Coast enviros have been complaining about gravel train schemes and the like for years – they hate the idea of rebuilding the line to Eureka. Bosco and other investors have just bought out the Press Democrat, very useful vehicle for pushing pro-job, pro-development plans. Mining gravel will mean a war with the greens but labor will endorse it

    In the 60’s the NWP was so profitable the SP spent numerous millions(thru Morrison-Knudsen) to rebuild very large sections of the line when it was devastated by storms in 1964. I suggest by today’s standards 136lb rail would have been chosen by a class one doing a major rebuild.

    A central issue in Northbay rail was whether freight should be retained. AFAIK Bosco was one of the movers and shakers behind freight. I don’t agree – I believe they should have turned the page on freight and gone for electric light rail.

    J Baloun Reply:

    Synon what are you talking about? Opening the NWP line to Eureka is much more expensive than replacing bridges and track in Sonoma and Marin counties. The Eureka line was profitable? It is one of the most expensive lines in the country because it is built along rivers that cut through unstable uplifted ocean deposits.

    There much be a hundred landslides of which this is a larger one

    And many hillsides, some a few square miles in area that melt like butter
    in the rainy season like this

    You cassually say restore the line to Eureka. This is much worse than even you can imagine.

    J Baloun Reply:

    The unstable soil conditions begin just north of Cloverdale. For the remainder of the north coast route the soil conditions are patchy. Sometimes normal, and occasionally terrible.

    Peter Reply:

    The fact that SP spent millions to rebuild doesn’t mean it wanted to spend that money. There is an excellent chance that the ICC required them to rebuild, rather than initiate freight abandonment proceedings.

    thatbruce Reply:

    We no longer have a housing boom for which the NWP carried lumber. Vast improvements to roads in the area has meant that the ex-NWP line no longer has that significant advantage over trucks.

    synonymouse Reply:

    @ thatbruce

    I concur about the NWP and take it farther. Just abandon subsidized freight and convert to electric light rail.

    Eric M Reply:

    Ties, tie spacing, ballast and sub-ballast play just as important role, if not more so than the weight of the rail. Try doing some research first instead of making up stupid conspiracy theories. There are also different types and processes of making the rail, such as head hardened, which the 115lb SMART train rail is.

    synonymouse Reply:

    The NWP was quite profitable previously, which was why the SP spent so much money to restore it when it was effectively wiped out in 1964.

    Seems penny wise and pound foolish to me to go light unless you figure freight is not going to be around for very long. The theory, which many rr’s seem to follow, is that the heavier rail cuts down on expensive maintenance.

    When you see the SMART track it looks pretty cheesy. OK for light rail, sure, but I just see it as another sign of bad blood between SMART and NCRA-NWP.

    Eric M Reply:

    synonymouse, you just don’t get it.

    Peter Reply:

    Facts interfere with his predetermined worldview, so they are just ignored.

    Eric M Reply:

    And apparently you didn’t listen either to the replies at this thread you created at Altamont Press

    Eric M Reply:

    ↑↑↑↑ That directed at synonymouse, not Peter

    Peter Reply:

    You know he’s off-base when even true foamers think he’s nuts.

    Eric M Reply:

    Even more amusing are all his posts

    Peter Reply:

    Thank you, Eric M, that link made my day. Now I can amuse myself for the rest of the evening with “The Escapades of synonymouse and the Rail Foamers Who Think He Is an Idiot”.

    Paul Dyson Reply:

    Re heavy axle loads and 115lb rail, one or two relatively short trains a day will have minimal impact. We are not talking about PRB levels of traffic.

    VBobier Reply:

    115lb rail? seems kinda light weight, not like HSR will need anything like that or like the PRR had in 1924

    155 lb/yd (76.9 kg/m) (no longer production) Pennsylvania Railroad

    North American Rail

    Peter Reply:

    Metallurgy has come a long ways since 1924.

    VBobier Reply:

    Yes it has, still when they made that rail it was meant to take a pounding as some of the passenger trains moved pretty quick back then…

    synonymouse Reply:

    This link pegs the heaviest at 162lbs. and I believe that it was also used on the DM&IR. I remember how high it was in a photo, probably of one of their big articulateds.

    Look at the rail weight issue this way. Let’s say the UP was going to rebuild the entire 300 mile length of the NWP to Eureka(hypothetically there was a valid economic reason for this). They would use their 133lb rail.

    Alternately let’s say the NCRA-NWP came into a pile of money and told SMART to buzz off. They’ll rebuild it themselves. Again I feel pretty secure they would go with the heavier rail as cheaper to maintain and conventional wood ties. Concrete ties have had their issues and a short line would shy away from the risk.

    The trainorders discussion lists some standard rail heights vs. rail weights. I’ll take my tape down to the NWP.

    synonymouse Reply:

    You’ll need the link:,267849

    VBobier Reply:

    That’s a lot of rail there, didn’t know they got that heavy. And yeah concrete ties for some could be not worth the cost, it just depends on the climate. I’ll look at the link later.

    Keith Saggers Reply:

    Re. the central subway
    I wonder if by going off of Columbus Ave. North West towards the Pagoda Bld. implies a plan to bore straight under Russian Hill towards Lombard Street

    synonymouse Reply:

    A pretty good curvature in tunnel and that would mean cutting out the Wharf. Van Ness and Lombard is a crappy location for a station.

    Best improvement is straight ahead on Stockton to north of Bay Street, with a station at Washington Square across roughly from the Post Office.

    But maybe Reiskin is simply tired of the whole thing. Rather than throw good money after bad they’ll just stub out at the Pagoda. Muni is just drifting.

    Jon Reply:

    That would be a neat plan- Lombard could easily give up two center lanes for a dedicated LRV ROW- but everything I’ve heard from Muni suggests that a Fisherman’s Wharf station is non-negotiable.

    I reckon the next phase will be under Columbus to Beach and then west under Beach, with a Fisherman’s Wharf subway station at at Hyde or Larkin. Then surface on Van Ness between Beach and North Point, and either terminate here or head down Van Ness to Lombard and west into the Marina.

    synonymouse Reply:

    That is a very sensitive area you are talking about – aesthetically, environmentally, politically and geologically. You would be more likely to secure a portal on Columbus – and that won’t come easy.

    Very limited patronage potential in relation to the cost of a subway. Stockton north of Bay area is a much better location for a station and it can be on the surface.

    Jon Reply:

    Van Ness between Beach and North Point isn’t sensitive, it’s essentially a parking lot with high walls on each side. Granted the geology is not ideal.

    synonymouse Reply:

    Ghirardelli-Aquatic Park area is very sensitive. Van Ness-Lombard traffic hell with many lights and conflict with GGT commute buses.

    The general area of the ILWU hall is pretty good for foot traffic and a surface station would be vastly cheaper. Plus the straight line down Stockton is shorter and not mud, at least not before Bay St.

    The best line to the Marina would have been 3rd & Kearny to the Broadway Tunnel thence to Fillmore and Lombard in deep tunnel. But alas not to be.

    Another good alternative for the Marina is a trolley bus tunnel under Pacific Heights from the general area of Chestnut and Fillmore to general area of Gough and Geary thence downtown in another trolley bus subway. Some 31 Balboa trolley buses could also cut in express from here.

    Jon Reply:

    It would be tunneled in Ghirardelli-Aquatic Park area. On Van Ness/Lombard you would give the LRVs their own lanes so no conflict with traffic.

    The difference here is that I’m thinking in terms of a modern light rail system, and you’re thinking about a cutesy streetcar line. Streetcars are fine for tourists and nostalgia but not for a modern transportation system.

    I would rather the Muni Metro went entirely underground, but that’s probably never going to happen due to the cost. So, tunnel where you have to, take lanes from cars when you can, avoid mixed traffic.

    synonymouse Reply:

    But Ghirardelli-Aquatic Park is where what little of the ridership hangs out. Besides it’s all mud – they would probably tunnel under Bay Street in your scheme. And deep too as Columbus sits in a natural valley.

    No way in hell you can sell lrv’s on Lombard.

    Most of the Bredas on the T would terminate at the “ILWU” station but running a few thru the Ft. Mason tunnel is not inconceivable. The ILWU location is not at all sensitive and would be an easy sell politically.

    I think they should move to trolley coaches on Geary immediately, with the tunnel design such as to prepare for possible lrv conversion. Presidio Yard-Geary Carhouse needs to be secured and expanded straightaway.

    Jon Reply:

    There would be a subway station at Ghirardelli-Aquatic Park. Do you even read things before you respond to them?

    Why do you think that a tunnel under Ghirardelli-Aquatic Park would be fought on aesthetic grounds, but running heavy Breda LRVs along the entire length of the Wharf (mixed with historic streetcars) and through a single track tunnel in National Park Service land to Fort Mason would somehow be okay?

    If you can sell BRT on Van Ness, you can sell LRVs on Lombard. It’s not exactly a beautiful street and badly needs a redesign.

    synonymouse Reply:

    Selling a subway station across the street from the Buena Vista would be politically impossible. Who would want a 16th & Mission there? Your station would end up at Van Ness and Bay or the like. The real Wharf is ticky-tacky – no problem for a surface station there.

    The Bredas will be eventually replaced with something more limber and you would only be running some service to the west. That tunnel won’t stay single track for long if it indeed is put back into service. Besides if you mu’d a couple PCC’s Toronto or den Haag style you would basically have a Breda.

    Franklin and Gough are an alternative to Van Ness; there is no alternative to Lombard. Marina Blvd and Bay are too far removed and there would be plenty of bitching about diverting more traffic onto them. The AAA and the State would have a hissy fit about messing with Lombard Street. Good luck.

    Besides Muni is a basket case, just barely treading water. My guess is that Reiskin will just dump the whole thing onto Lee and the Supes and let them cope with it.

    flowmotion Reply:

    Chestnut would be a much better choice for streetcars than Lombard. Turnaround could be near the Lucas facility in the Presido. (Muni Metro isn’t really “modern” once it leaves the tunnels.)

    flowmotion Reply:

    Also agreeing with synon — tunneling under Aquatic Park and Fort Mason would be an environmental and NIMBY nightmare. These are federal parklands. Bay Street is far more likely.

    Jon Reply:

    Well, we’ll find out in a few months once the preliminary studies are released.

    synonymouse Reply:

    There were streetcars on Chestnut until 1950 when the F line was replaced by the current #30 trolley bus. This was one of Col. Marmion Mills recommended conversions that made good sense overall. Trolley buses are better suited to this route and that is a primary reason Gerry Cauthen has been pushing for the Stubway being able to handle trolley buses as well as lrv’s. Bredas on Chestnut St. in the Marina will be a very tough sell.

    Your Columbus and Bay Sts. subway will be considerably more expensive than the Stockton-ILWU alternative and carry far fewer passengers. Essentially the all Stockton route would be undergrounding the #15 bus line, shifted somewhat to the west, an historically documented successful alignment. Plus the central Wharf interests would be much more supportive as an open surface station would be quite visible and accessible to tourists and not likely to attract low lifes. A bigger problem would be to secure Washington Square as a subway entrance at Stockton and Union. But the North Beach station could conceivably be relocated to Stockton and Columbus.

    flowmotion Reply:

    I don’t see a Columbus subway being realistic either. The portal will probably be on Stockton, Powell, or Mason. Probably the latter, near the housing projects.

    After that, it will be your usual Metro surface cluster down Bay Street and onto either Chestnut or Lombard. I prefer Chestnut as Metro already serves similar ‘streetcar’ commercial strips on Irving, Portal, and Ocean.

    We should give credit to the Tourist Bureau: AT&T, Moscone, Union Square, Chinatown, North Beach, Fisherman’s Wharf. Project made in heaven for them. Too bad few San Franciscans will find it useful.

    synonymouse Reply:

    I cannot imagine they would get that close to Bay St. without tunneling under it and proceed to the tourist-packed Wharf. All the way this time – unlike the Mason cable which was supposed to be extended the three blocks, but never did.

    Streetcars on Bay Street very dangerous – at Hyde St intersection. I remember 1967 very well, when a gripman went down the Hyde Street hill without the rope. Charlie Smallwood told me that it was pretty close at City Hall. They really did consider dumping the cable cars. If I remember correctly Joe Alioto was already Mayor by that time and wanted to just brass it out and try to make sure it wouldn’t happen again. Remember it is not possible to try to steer a streetcar out of the way.

    You are certainly right that this is a project that won’t carry that many residents. Blame it on Rose Pak and Nathaniel Ford for starters.

    synonymouse Reply:

    They are anticipating wars in Syria and Iran, reasonably likely.

    Nathanael Reply:

    Starting another foreign war would be mind-bogglingly stupid. The US lost the last several, including Iraq and Afghanistan. As long as our military is a big war-loser, it shouldn’t be starting wars.

    Peter Reply:

    Probably cheaper and more effective to pay others to engage in proxy wars for us.

    Derek Reply:

    That’s more like “science took heat from Congress”.

    Thanks for reminding me to donate to UCS. I had been putting it off until the end of the year.

    synonymouse Reply:

    If this type of thinking prevails about taxation, who do you think is going to left over to pay for the guarantees to CHSRA “investors”?

    Middle to lower income taxpayers, that’s who. It is inescapable.

  4. Alon Levy
    Dec 7th, 2012 at 12:45

    Serious question, Robert: what do you think is the likelihood of California adding substantial state funds on top of 1A in the next few years if the deficit ends up closing?

    joe Reply:

    The GAO analysis finds the project plan requires ~2+ billion per year to meet the current schedule. So the State would, worse case, need to fund it 2-3 B per year.
    (Oil Extraction tax!!)

    Recall HSR has a money problem – too much money on hand to spend in time.

    A criticism is the Authority has to build and spend money at an OMG rate. They’ll spend Fed money first, then State money.

    The Fed data is here:
    Awarded $2,552,556,231 received $86,791,792 expended $86,791,792

    Alon Levy Reply:

    Yeah, the “they’ll spend money too fast” criticism is moronic.

    $2 billion a year meets what schedule exactly – IOS opening in 2021 and Bay-to-Basin in 2027? That’s an awfully low bar to shoot for. If they can rely on $2 billion a year from a dedicated funding source – a tax on oil extraction, higher income taxes, whatever – they should just bond against that revenue and spend the money sooner. The economy’s still in recession mode, which means construction now has a bigger multiplier than construction later, and on top of that, whenever HSR’s social rate of return is higher than the bond rate, bonding to spend money faster is good.

    joe Reply:

    I agree 100%.

    Borrowing and building during a recession is the right time for public investment and the positive multipliers for doing this work sooner all justify accelerating the project and produce economic activity and taxes that help pay for it. Your suggestion to setup the revenue stream to payback the borrowing makes sense too.

    Projects, most commonly, need to setup and scale/staff up to spend money effectively so it would take some time to accelerate the construction. In academics, that’s finding staff/students for the R&D or about an academic year to be 100% effective. For HSR, I guess two years to start this work, scale up and also refine/review the models/plans estimates per the GAO report.

    That’s, IMHO, the next Congress.

    VBobier Reply:

    There’s also Spur‘s plan, part of it could be implemented or all of it if Federal help weren’t available.

    joe Reply:

    SPUR’s tax plan is regressive. Joe’s plan is a oil extraction tax which is paid by the oil companies prior to putting the oil for sale on the market.

    Keith Saggers Reply:

    Why do we have to wait till 2021 for work to start on the Merced to Bay Area section?

  5. Derek
    Dec 7th, 2012 at 12:48

    Obama pushes ahead with high-speed rail plan, by Ashley Halsey III, Washington Post.

    “We’re not giving up on high-speed rail,” Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood testified before a congressional committee. “The president will include funding in his budget. I think we’ll get there with public money, but in the absence of that we’ll get there with private money.”

  6. trentbridge
    Dec 7th, 2012 at 15:17

    These are the same Republicans that voted AYE in August 2011 for the Budget Control Act: aka the crazy creation of the fiscal cliff..

    I assume that these smart GOP folks believed that, if the super-committee failed to bring about a compromise on Govt spending, that Obama would be out of office and a Republican Senate and President ready to impose the Tea Party lunacy onto the United States..

    More tilting at windmills!

    Nathanael Reply:

    Actually, the plan was always to blackmail Obama with threats of “the fiscal cliff!!!!” in order to get him to cut taxes for obscenely rich multibillionaires.

    Thankfully, THIS time Obama seems to not be falling for the scam.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    The way I see the fiscal cliff is, there was no agreement reached, so the parties agreed to kick the can down the road to after the election, to see if there was a clear winner, and there was.

  7. joe
    Dec 7th, 2012 at 22:20

    Nov 29th Monterey lawyer and columnist slams HSR.

    Dec 6th, Bill Monning, D-Carmel, 17th Senate District Defends HSR.

    I felt the need to respond to Neil Shapiro’s Nov. 29 column, “Money for high-speed rail, but not enough for courts.” As a California attorney since 1976, I share his concerns about the budget cuts made to the state’s courts, but his analysis is narrowly focused solely on funding our courts and does not look at the broader budget issues facing California, nor does it take into consideration the cuts made to other vital state programs or the long-term economic benefits of the high-speed rail system.

    It is important to note that the high-speed rail hub in Gilroy will directly benefit the Monterey Bay region and allow access to more tourists. Visitors will be able to embark on platforms throughout California to waiting shuttles or light rail service in Gilroy for the short transit to our communities. This economic investment will protect existing jobs and create additional jobs in the Monterey Bay area, while reducing carbon emissions and local traffic congestion.

  8. William
    Dec 8th, 2012 at 01:57


    Don’t know if anybody has posted this, but it seems Caltrain CBOSS will be ITCS.

    Peter Reply:

    Well, at least they’re not developing their own private system any longer. Don’t see why implementing an existing system is budgeted to costs as much as development of a proprietary system was supposed to.

    No one was going to purchase CBOSS anyway.

    Clem Reply:

    They are developing their own system. CBOSS is not ITCS, it is based on ITCS. That is a very important distinction, and explains the quarter-billion dollar price tag to add modern train control to a dinky little 50-mile back-and-forth commuter backwater.

    Peter Reply:


    I guess I just keep hoping against hope that Caltrain isn’t as stubborn and wasteful as it actually is.

    William Reply:

    Well, at least we know Caltrain wasn’t lying when they said it would be “off-shelf”. Also this would increase the likeliness of CBOSS-specific features being implemented on ITCS lines.

    Jonathan Reply:

    You’re assuming that CBOSS is every actually completed, approved, deployed, and successful.
    Look at the track record of the contractor involved. Hint: BART’s AATC.

    And just how many places does Amtraik Michigan have stations with at-grade crossings on both ends of a station?

    Peter Reply:

    Unless I’m mistaken, the only implementation of ITCS even planned for has been for Amtrak’s Wolverine in Michigan. The only way it is “interoperable” with Norfolk Southern, with which the Wolverine shares tracks, is by having a double installation of I-ETMS and ITCS. Amtrak trains talk with the ITCS radios, while Norfolk Southern trains talk with the I-ETMS radios.

    If CBOSS is derived from ITCS, while Union Pacific, sharing tracks with Caltrain, uses I-ETMS, and HSR trains use ETCS, does this mean we will have THREE sets of train control systems installed on the Caltrain corridor? Or will we just have two, because HSR may carry I-ETMS radios (to run on Metrolink tracks)?

    Jonathan Reply:

    re ITCS: yes,it’s only used by Amtrak in Michigan. that’s why I asked how many stations with grad-crossings at both ends Amtraik has in Michigan. One Chinese HSR route has allegedly used a derivative of ITCS, but using GSM-R radio spectrum. DUnno if it’s actual GSM-R signalling.)

    Re HSR and CBOSS: if you read CHSRA documents, it’s plain they see CBOSS as being of use to HSR only during hte construction phase, to improve safety. I sincerely doubt CHSRA’s contractor has sufficient clue to have thought through how HSR signalling on the Caltrain corridor will actually work.
    (Somehow I doubt Wabtec has back-end servers for ETCS/ERTMS. :-/ )

    The only thing we can guarantee is that it’ll add more cost.

    Peter Reply:

    I guess they can’t look ahead 17 years.

    swing hanger Reply:

    I read over on Clem’s blog that CBOSS is going to be a “customized” version of ITCS, so expect the usual rigmarole of development.

  9. Reedman
    Dec 8th, 2012 at 18:40

    Somewhat off track:

    San Francisco MUNI has begun working with the Metropolitan Transit Agency to study a proposal to change its fare structure. Fares would be set based on your income. The MTA is working on the study in order to possibly use the same approach for BART. The Clipper Card would be used as the basis for implementing this.

    No, I am not making this up.

    Joey Reply:

    The “transit is for poor people” guys are going to have a field day with this one…

    swing hanger Reply:

    Gawd, more bureaucracy if it comes true.

    VBobier Reply:

    Still, the Senior in the article has a point, ‘Youth don’t have an income’, ‘Seniors and Disabled People do’, the Senior mentioned ‘a needs based fare structure’.

    Jo Reply:

    A discounted monthly pass should suffice.

    Peter Reply:

    Berlin used to have a “Sozial” ticket for people on welfare. AFAICT, it’s been discontinued. Berlin’s fare system has gotten so complicated since I moved away, I’m now baffled by the available options each time I go back.

    Peter Reply:

    I was wrong, it still exists:

    joe Reply:

    When the IL Gov bailed out public transit, he demanded they offer seniors free rides.
    I like this because it doesn’t require an intrusive means test – and it helped seniors. Also, offers elderly a way to get around without driving.
    Blagojevich sent the package back with an amendatory veto that nobody in the legislature expected. He approved the rescue package so long as it also mandated free rides, at all hours of the day, for seniors—even on commuter rail. The legislature felt it had no option but to acquiesce, even though this hurt CTA’s finances at exactly the time it needed a rescue.

    As a result, the CTA’s collections per ride dipped by several percentage points even as expenses were rising, and the agency threatened a huge fare increase, including taking base fares on the Elevated from $2.25 to $3.00. Yet another financial rescue was needed in late 2009. Blago was gone at this point, but the state’s finances were in a complete shambles, and there was little appetite to offer the CTA bigger subsidies or raise the sales tax again.

    Collections per ride (not overall) dropped several % points – not that much. It is pretty small actually and it is saving people who live on a fixed income, mostly Social Security. Simple programs that help seniors are so horrible.

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