CA4HSR Calls for Using Cap and Trade Revenues for HSR

Mar 11th, 2013 | Posted by

Californians For High Speed Rail has written to Mary Nichols, head of the California Air Resources Board, to urge her to support using cap-and-trade funds to help fund high speed rail:

We encourage you to strongly consider applying a significant portion of Cap and Trade revenues to California’s high‐speed rail project as part of the overall investment in public transportation. There is a great opportunity to match any Cap and Trade funds with remaining Proposition 1A bond funds, essentially doubling any committed funds.

Specifically, Californians For High Speed Rail believes that Cap and Trade funds can provided critical funds to close the passenger rail gap between Bakersfield and Palmdale. With approximately $4 billion remaining in Proposition 1A after the initial construction in the Central Valley and early investments in the urban “bookends”, Cap and Trade funds along with any other possible funding sources being considered could be used to complete this critical link in the State’s rail system.

The California HSR system was estimated to be able to reduce carbon emissions by as much as 12 billion tons per year. That’s one reason why CARB included HSR as part of their scoping plan for meeting the AB 32 goal of reducing carbon emissions to 1990 levels by 2020 – just seven years away.

AB 32 cap-and-trade revenues ought to be spent on things that will help reduce carbon emissions. The high speed rail project does that, and so it is a sensible recipient of some of the funding – especially because, as CA4HSR’s letter points out, the cap-and-trade funds will be leveraged with Prop 1A money to double the investment.

It’s a sensible thing to do, and I hope CARB, Governor Jerry Brown, and the state legislature agree to this request.

  1. VBobier
    Mar 11th, 2013 at 21:34

    I like this proposal, I’d say use 3/4 of the cap and trade per year for HSR funding, that’s what I’d do, HSR could use it and We can rub it in the face of Congressional Republicans, like Denham, McCarthy and Paul Ryan too…

  2. Back in the Saddle
    Mar 11th, 2013 at 21:43

    Cap and Trade taxes are a reasonable way to fund HSR and other carbon reducing projects. However, cap and trade taxes are just one example of using carbon fuel “give aways” to fund mass transit projects. California and other states need to adopt “gas and oil severance taxes” much like some coal producing states charge to promote other state projects. Oil depletion allowances and “gas and oil tax holidays” should be eliminated and take the money saved from these “give aways” to support transit projects. There are plenty of funding resources out there if only political leaders had to will to make these changes to our natural resource tax policy.

    VBobier Reply:

    I like creating and using any “natural gas and oil severance taxes” for HSR and mass transit in California, CA needs that.

    VBobier Reply:

    Oh and the I agree with repealing the giveaways as well.

    Tony D Reply:

    Agree completely!

    Jo Reply:

    Absolutely agree; makes total sense. Hopefully our politicians will somehow see the light.

    Tony D Reply:

    YES, YES, AND YES! add possible funding from oil severance taxes (tracking), and we may not need fed funds to complete HSR.

    Tony D Reply:

    Meant fracking, not tracking.

  3. John Nachtigall
    Mar 11th, 2013 at 21:49

    Too bad the environmental cost of building they system more than offsets the proposed savings. It will net increase CO2 for the next 30 years at least

    Nathanael Reply:

    You don’t know that. It depends entirely on how many people ditch their cars and planes in order to ride the train.

    Which is *damn* hard to predict.

    John Nachtigall Reply:

    Actually it is pretty much a guaranteed to not break even for 10-15 years after buildout. The only question is if it will ever break even, that is the only uncertainty.

    Nathanael Reply:

    You said “the next 30 years”, though, and it might reduce net emissions within that timeframe.

    Yeah, it won’t recover its carbon costs in the first 5-10 years, what else is new.

    John Nachtigall Reply:

    The system won’t be be built for 15 years alone (with delays). Altogether that is 30 years

    Nathanael Reply:

    Now you’re just making up fantasies about delays in order to justify your numbers.

    Nathanael Reply:

    Also, every year it’s delayed is a year that (a) the money isn’t spent and (b) there are no carbon emissions from construction. So delays are irrelevant from a carbon accounting perspective.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    And when SFO needs longer runways or more runways or I-5 needs to be widened the elves just pick there sacks of pixie dust and their reels of fairy floss and get it done in a twinkling of an eye.

    joe Reply:

    Push out the completion date to 2020 and the State will be approaching 33% renewable electric power.

    HSR can buy 100% renewable electric power and be a stable market for that industry.

    “Solar power in California has been growing rapidly because of high insolation, community support, and a Renewable Portfolio Standard which requires that 20% of California’s electricity come from renewable resources by 2010, and 33% by 2020. “

    Nathanael Reply:

    Heck, if we wait long enough, “carbon-negative concrete” may be considered good enough to use in the project. (It already exists. It will take a while before it’s trusted for heavy structural work, though.)

    joe Reply:

    Maybe. To me the concrete and construction CO2 emissions is a red herring.

    It’s the critics magical do nothing solution vs HSR construction, emissions and the benefits of a NEW long term rail system that will be around 150 years from now and fully electric.

    Also critics will claim we saved little because HSR will induce trips, new trips because HSR is easy and affordable. So the CO2 savings will be less than a world without HSR.

    The lunacy never ends.
    By 2025, I fully expect the PV Swansons & IT’s Moore’s Law and new material science to revolutionize solar PV. That can go just about everywhere and reduce emissions.

    A recent USGS authored academic paper estimates the US lower 48 are covered with ~ the size of Ohio in impervious surface (roads, homes, parking lots and etc. What if some fraction of that is painted with a PV layer?

    Eric Reply:

    “A recent USGS authored academic paper estimates the US lower 48 are covered with ~ the size of Ohio in impervious surface (roads, homes, parking lots and etc. What if some fraction of that is painted with a PV layer?”

    Once that is profitable, it will be done.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    On the other hand the highway and airport capacity needed to replace HSR will be constructed of pixie dust, fairy floss and built by elves who work for free.

    John Nachtigall Reply:

    They aren’t asking for cap and trade funds which are restricted to projects that reduce pollution. So unless they can prove they net reduce they should not get them. Pesky laws again.

    joe Reply:

    You’re trolling.

    Still, we’ve made progress when I see the conservative mind blink, look out 30 years and try some math. To even contemplate CO2 and consider ways to conflate and distract just gets the public to be aware there is a CO2 footprint and it matters.

    Now most folks are intuitive enough to understand the project’s going to help and few will think it’s bad to build infrastructure – that CO2 and environmentalism is about letting the nation fall into disrepair.

    VBobier Reply:

    What no Trolls being employed?

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    They are too busy posting talking points.

    VBobier Reply:

    Insane ones at that…

    BrianR Reply:

    I’ve heard that same type of argument used against the construction of BART, and it always seems like a sort of meaningless statistical statement. Even if it is technically true “on paper” there are a lot of factors statements like that don’t consider and I can’t imagine we would all be better off and have a better quality of life in the bay area without BART (or a similar system that would take just as much energy to build).

    Richard Mlynarik Reply:

    Even if it is technically true “on paper” ..

    “Technically true” “in reality” and versus “imaginary true” “in my own choo choo world”.

    Because who needs “truth” when we can have “a lot of other factors” and your personal imagination?

    joe Reply:

    Technically “on paper ” as in rigged.
    Manage or conduct (something) fraudulently so as to produce an advantageous result.

    Jo Reply:

    The environmental cost of building the system will offset the savings??? It is the other way around, the benefits to the environment will more than offset the environmental cost when building the system. Any economic activity or building project will affect the environment. The question is which types of projects will benefit the environment and be more sustainable to the environment after completed; as if a six lane freeway to an urban sprawl project would have less of an environmental impact on the environment than HSR rail. HSR rail after completed will always be more sustainable and better protect the environment than other types of automobile dependent developments.

  4. joe
    Mar 11th, 2013 at 23:34

    CAHSRA can buy 100% of it’s power from renewable resources.

    PV costs are nearing a tipping point, less costly than Nuclear. CA uses Nuclear.
    John Quiggin
    January 3, 2012

    Meanwhile, the cost of (Photovoltaics) PV has already fallen well below that of nuclear and is set to fall further. The average retail price of solar cells as monitored by the Solarbuzz group fell from $3.50/watt to $2.43/watt over the course of the year, and a decline to prices below $2.00/watt seems inevitable.

    For large-scale installations, prices below $1.00/watt are now common. In some locations, PV has reached grid parity, the cost at which it is competitive with coal or gas-fired generation. More generally, it is now evident that, given a carbon price of $50/ton, which would raise the price of coal-fired power by 5c/kWh, solar PV will be cost-competitive in most locations.

    Trends favor decreasing prices with current technologies. As costs drop, demand increases and with increased capacity costs drop again.
    Swanson’s law>/b>, named after Richard Swanson, the founder of SunPower, a big American solar-cell manufacturer, suggests that the cost of the photovoltaic cells needed to generate solar power falls by 20% with each doubling of global manufacturing capacity.

    What about fossil fuel?

    The unsubsidized cost of renewable power produced from solar and wind energy will be no more expensive than that from oil, natural gas, and coal by the end of the decade, Energy Secretary Steven Chu predicted during a speech at a Pew Charitable Trusts event late March before the Commerce Deptartment and ITC had made their final determinations on Chinese import duties. Chu pegged installed solar PV grid parity at around $1 per watt.

    Parity with fossil fuel costs will occur before the Initial Segment is built in 2020, maybe by 2016.

    That meant cutting the cost of modules to round 50c/W, and then bringing the balance of module costs down with it. The latest research says that the module cost target will happen by 2016. Which also means that forecasts by Chinese officials and the Indian government that solar PV would reach wholesale parity with fossil fuels by 2020 (or 2017 in the case of India) are likely to occur even earlier.

    Andy M Reply:

    Being at grid parity isn’t at all the same things as being cheaper than nuclear.

    Nuclear is so economic precisely because it is way below grid parity.

    joe Reply:

    The “solar vs. nuclear” dispute had been largely symbolic for several decades. After rapid growth in the 1960s and 1970s, new installations of nuclear power came to a grinding halt. This was partly a result of safety fears created by the accidents at Three Mile Island and Chernobyl. Economic factors were even more significant. Far from being too cheap to meter, nuclear power turned out to be far more expensive than its main rival, coal, primarily because of unpredictable capital costs and generally high interest rates.

    Meanwhile, the cost of PV has already fallen well below that of nuclear and is set to fall further. The average retail price of solar cells as monitored by the Solarbuzz group fell from $3.50/watt to $2.43/watt over the course of the year, and a decline to prices below $2.00/watt seems inevitable. For large-scale installations, prices below $1.00/watt are now common. In some locations, PV has reached grid parity, the cost at which it is competitive with coal or gas-fired generation.

    Trends favor decreasing PV costs – and competitive with coal 2016-2020.

    Critics of HSR point to coal produced electricity and pollution compared to auto. Trends clearly show PV electricity will be competitive if not less costly in CA when HSR service begins.

    Nathanael Reply:

    New nuclear is unaffordable for utilities.

    New coal still looks cheap (ignoring the pollution), unfortunately.

    Grid parity is hard to hit because grid parity means overcoming the cost of facilities which *have already paid their capital costs*.

    It’s important to remember: solar will reach the “cheaper for an industrial install than a new thermal plant” level before it will reach “cheaper than buying from the grid” level.

    Reedman Reply:

    We had lower PV costs, but then tariffs were put onto Chinese imports. There are two numbers that need to be considered: the world market price of PV panels, and the price that the US user is charged. It appears that the world market price is still going down, but the US consumer will not be allowed to see most of that savings. Same thing exists with automobile tires.

    joe Reply:

    and what are those numbers?

    Look, I saw tariffs jack up RAM prices in the 80s when there was dumping on the US market. RAM prices did spike for a while but I haven’t read about any similar problem with PVs.

    Even if the tariffs are impacting supply today – the HSR system is years out. I doubt anyone here remembers the RAM price spike or the tariffs. We not at some global disadvantage with high ram prices RAM today.

    Paul Druce Reply:

    California solar PV is $5.91 per watt average for >10kW installations and $6.45 per watt average for <10kW installations. It is by no means at grid parity or anywhere close to it and at best it cheapens horrible electricity waste by the wealthy.

    joe Reply:

    That’s for the data. That’s showing total cost for installation and operation including labor, permits and etc. over the past 12 months adjusted for inflation which is like pricing a big screen TV with 12 month old data in the average price – it’s higher. So that’s far more than PV.

    How Solar cheapens and causes waste is an exercise left to a physiologist. Nuclear was too cheap to meter but solar cheapens energy and causes waste (of what since it’s converting sunlight to electricity). That’s amazing it’s cheap enough to waste so it’s bad.

    If solar for the wealthy then so dare cars.
    The typical new vehicle is now more expensive than ever, averaging $30,500 in 2012, according to 30K puts an automobile on par with a solar installation on a home. Not really a feature limited to the wealthy. Roll that into a mortgage and it has an ROI – it eventually pays for itself. Cars depreciate.

    But still I see no disagreement with the trends for lower PV cost, nothing to discredit Energy Secretary Steven Chu’s forecast. No argument with the Indian or Chinese projections.
    No limit yet to the decreasing costs illustrated here.

    Andy M Reply:

    If you’re using new solar to replace fossil fuels or even nuclear, that’s an environmental plus.

    If you’re using that same solar power for waste and stupidity, then maybe you’re right to say it’s not really waste seeing it’s free and from the sun. But you can’t really flash any green credentials over it either as it isn’t really fulfilling the purpose of the pretence under which it was sold.

    I therefore propose we should measure the succes of PV by the capacity of conventional plants that are being decomissioned, not be the number of PV panels installed.

    Andy M Reply:

    Think of it like cycling to work versus cycling for sport. If you cycle to work when you would otherwise ahve driven, that is pretty green.

    If you’re cycling for sport in your free time, that may be a good thing in many ways, but you can’t really claim it to be green in the same way as cycling to work is, as you’re not actually preventing or saving any emissions.

    Thus measuring total miles done on a bicycle is not really a good way to measure environmental benefits.

    joe Reply:

    Oh no I think we should include all costs – The data I listed were for PV only so I explained the differences.

    We should also include disposing of PV cells and their long term safe storage. Oh and the cost for subsidizing the construction of PV with loans – just like we do with Nuclear Power. Oh wait. That’s not part of the cost.

    Trends for the PV are decreasing. My first computer about 30 years ago was loaded with 128KB of RAM. My cell phone has 16GB. You know, the trends favor less expensive and more efficient PV. No such trend for Nuclear or coal.

    joe Reply:

    Meant for Paul

    joe Reply:

    Andy M;

    Data show cars are more efficient but we drive more. We should have not made these fuel efficient cars.
    We just waste fuel now. Prius isn’t green.

    Likewise if we use PV and then have affordable electricity – that’s bad because if power was expensive and polluting we’d use less – we stopped the sacrifice. So when green means people can afford to do things, well it’s not green anymore.

    HSR will allow travel for people who would otherwise not travel. Obviously it too is not green.

    Losing is when one uses arguments against efficiency and alternative energy and instead rely on intent and sacrifice and lack of access as equal to green and affordable. I’m catholic and even I reject the argument pain is salvation.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    No, he’s actually right there. It’s important to pair new solar installations with closing down coal and natgas plants.

    joe Reply:

    The addition of solar would reduce the need for fossil fuel plants.

    Now the bars is set that we have to add solar AND remove a perfectly useful, functioning power plant.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    Yes, this means removing perfectly useful, functioning pollution plants.

    Joe Reply:


    You guys have it all figured out.

    Paul Druce Reply:

    Are you seriously condemning the inclusion of all other installation costs beyond simply the cells? What ridiculous tripe. And do the math, solar PV is currently only cost-effective if you’re blowing 3-4x the basic allotment and running into 27-30 cent per kWh prices. It’s simply letting folks continue wasting electricity instead of encouraging them into additional energy efficiency as the rate structure is intended.

    joe Reply:

    I think we should include the cost of nuclear storage in nuclear power. Why don’t we?

    Paul Druce Reply:

    We do, the Nuclear Waste Fund fee. It’s assessed at the rate of 1 mill per kilowatt-hour of power generated and has been repeatedly certified by the Secretary of Energy as adequate for the purpose, including the construction and maintenance of the Yucca Mountain Nuclear Waste Repository.

    joe Reply:

    Sorry but that 1/1000 of a dollar fee is not paying the cost to store the waste – in fact we have no long term facility in place. It’s not paying the full cost. Chu has never said it does.

    I am all for full cost accounting of Solar power – same for the nuclear industry. We do full cost with solar by virtue of the methods in that helpful site you posted.

    The are sound reasons for decreasing costs in PV – not so in nuclear or fossil fuel.

    Easy to access and refine oil is decreasing and higher energy costs to exploit new sources, more difficult oil deposits remain.

    Ironically, the parking lot I used today is shaded by PV.

    Paul Druce Reply:

    It’s not paying the full cost. Chu has never said it does.

    Oh ho, what’s this then?

    That we do not have a long term waste depository in place yet is due to the stupidity of the Obama administration and idiot politics. They are in fact being sued by the nuclear power industry over this.

    joe Reply:

    The report is qualified. At this time and to be reassessed every year.

    The blue ribbon report and what you wrote above identify the problem – they haven’t a place to put the waste. The fee isn’t actually solving the waste problem (there’s no validation that the costs are covered). The system is not working as intended.

    Reid’s website assigns blame to the rush early on to limit the studies to YUCCA MT and it’s geology. “screw Nevada” is the term in the report.

    Practically speaking, their is no solution but the fee is adequate. Is it Obama? Nuclear, worldwide, is not in entering a renaissance.

    Humans are too short sited to deal with this long term responsibilities such as nuclear. Up front costs are high, storage is problematic and mistakes happen with decades long consequences.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    What’s the normal ratio of peak power consumption to base consumption? (Asking because my average in Providence was about 120 W.)

    Paul Druce Reply:

    It’s a surprisingly hard question to find an answer for but from what I can find, perhaps 20x.

    Paul Druce Reply:

    Actually, I think I misread your question; that answer is for peak to overall energy demand.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    It’s peak to overall, so if the peak-of-peak is caused by weird things like a spike after turning on the light, it’s not a big deal. I’m thinking mainly what the power consumption is of things that could be reasonably expected to be on simultaneously across many households – lights, fridge, computers, air conditioner (the peak is simultaneous), electric cooking devices to some extent (there’s a broad peak around dinnertime), etc. Not sure about air conditioning but the rest aren’t that enormous, in today’s era of good fluorescent lights, 15 W laptops, 50 W fridges, and 20 W gaming consoles.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    Depends on you electric rates and the weather. In Quebec peak residential usage is in the dead of cold winter nights. 80 percent of Quebec households heat with electricity. Which works out well for the Northeast because with the Northeast’s much higher rates almost no one heats with electricity and the peak is in late afternoons on hot days. Same thing happens across the Sunbelt. People in the Sunbelt use more electricity because they air condition more than people in the Northeast and Midwest. Get far enough into the Sunbelt – Florida for instance – where you can heat your house by running your air conditioner in reverse and the peak goes back to happening on cold winter nights.
    Depends on your house too. My house in New Jersey didn’t use any utility electricity for heat. It was all powered by a thermocouple in the pilot light. We don’t have natural gas service out here in the woods so we heat the house with oil. That needs a high pressure oil pump, a blower and a low pressure water pump. Our lowest usage is in the spring and fall when the air conditioners aren’t even in the windows and the boiler only comes on for a few minutes at time every few hours.

    Nathanael Reply:

    I’m not sure what the “normal ratio” is, but in most parts of the country — exceptions being places like Quebec which heat poorly-insulated houses with electricity — day usage is at *least* twice nighttime usage, often far more.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    When we go off to work in the spring or fall my usage is very low. The cats don’t watch much TV, use the computer, do the wash etc. But my employer’s started to rise at 6 or 7 so that the building would be comfortable at 8. Their usage drops at 6 when the occupancy sensors shut off the lights and the HVAC system goes to “nighttime”.
    The 20 year old washing machine died a very messy death and it took two months for the spousal unit to make a decision about which new one was “best”. ( Instead of going to the stores in one afternoon and buying one, they are all more or less the same ) Our electricity usage dropped because we were washing and drying our clothes at the laundromat. We use more electricity to do a load of wash than our neighbor because we have an electric dryer and they have a propane one. We use more than the family next to them who don’t have a dryer and hang their clothes to dry.

    Except for oddities like Quebec and southern Florida, system wide it’s highest during the day because that’s when commercial users are eating the kilowatts. Most places it peaks in late afternoon and starts to drop after that with a the lowest point in the middle of the night – when almost everybody is asleep.

    Nathanael Reply:

    Paul, the trend is cheaper solar, more expensive for pretty much everything else.

    Solar has reached grid parity in Hawaii. (Well, that is a special case, of course; anything other than renewables is *extremely expensive*.)

    Solar will reach grid parity in the sunniest parts of California and Arizona soon enough. For industrial solar, it doesn’t actually need to reach grid parity in order to take over; it’s closer to wholesale parity than it is to grid parity.

  5. Matthew F.
    Mar 11th, 2013 at 23:45

    Am I crazy or did Robert beat them to their own press release? I don’t see anything on their website, and “support using cap-and-trade funds” links back to this article :)

  6. Jo
    Mar 12th, 2013 at 11:15

    It is no secret that President Obama will approve the keystone oil pipeline. It is also no secret that fracking will be approved in California. As Thomas Friedman alludes to in his latest commentary, environmentalists and also hopefully democrats should extract a price for that – support for HSR, renewables and other environmentally beneficial projects.

    Nathanael Reply:

    You can stop fracking in California. If we can stop it in New York, you can stop it in California.

    Step one: get the wineries working with you.

    Paul Dyson Reply:

    Fracking has been used in California for years. Probably invented here.

  7. synonymouse
    Mar 12th, 2013 at 12:24

    Environmentalists have been kicked to the curb – Jerry and the rest of the patronage machine have gone totally over to the darkside. They are now abject born-again developers, exploiters, and urbanizers. The CHSRA is strictly a development scheme.

    Meantime doodlebugs have cooked the brakes:

    Luv those SMART insiders and how “smart” they are.

    Peter Reply:

    Luv how the SMART trains are a different model than the ones on the Sprinter.

    Paul Dyson Reply:

    Every Joint Powers Board gets to choose its own Lionel set. Local conditions are always different didn’t you know? Never mind the cost to taxpayers.

    Clem Reply:

    For once those Unique Local Conditions led to the purchase of a standard European DMU, so don’t make too much fun of their trains. Make fun of their platforms instead, a ghastly product of CPUC General Order 26-D.

    Drunk Engineer Reply:

    Not quite standard European DMU. The brakes were custom-designed by (you guessed it) the Calif. PUC.

    Clem Reply:

    No kidding… What’s the detailed story on that?

    Drunk Engineer Reply:

    Here is the story.

    synonymouse Reply:

    This is quite an embarrassment – they had to cancel the planned 5th anniversary celebration.

    Question: does the lack of traction motors play a part in greater stress on friction brakes?

    It is claimed the express bus has been scheduled for faster trip times than the Sprinter, presumably to cut down on the discontent.

    Nathanael Reply:

    Guh. So the CPUC required nonstandard brakes, which (of course) are failing faster than usual. This is the Acela fiasco all over again, except from CPUC rather than the FRA. See my comment below — how does one put pressure on CPUC?

    Nathanael Reply:

    Is there anyone in charge of revising CPUC rules on railroads? They are even more archaic than the FRA rules. Pressure seems to have caused the FRA to at least start changing rules. But the CPUC? Not a peep. Where do we apply pressure?

    Peter Reply:

    Did you follow the bidding process for SMART at all? SCOA’s bid was by far the cheapest at $86 million for the base order (since reduced due to reduced length of ICS) versus the next cheapest at $104 million. The next cheapest just so happened to be the most recent iteration of the Siemens Desiro. The Desiro model purchased for the Sprinter is no longer available. So much for that argument.

    Peter Reply:

    Sorry, $82, not $86 million.

    Richard Mlynarik Reply:

    I followed the “design” and “bidding” process.

    It was rigged by LTK Engineering Services.

    Paul Dyson Reply:

    Maybe the Sprinter model is not available but the systems would mostly be standard.
    You could start a service like this with refurbished commuter cars and diesel locos converted to CNG, perhaps even a hybrid version. (See March/April Steel Wheels). The issue of rolling stock procurement and tech standards (Positive train Control ring bells with anyone?), likelihood of two systems in the west if Xpress West and CA HSR are both built, needs to be raised. There are more qualified people than me on this blog to discuss this, and I’m glad to see that y’all are taking up the issue.

    synonymouse Reply:

    The problem is that certain local power brokers want freight not transit. SMART is just a ruse to pay for new track at public expense.

    Ergo no wire not the fault of any nimbys. San Rafael does not want loco hauled as it fears long trains blocking intersections. Larkspur does not want to be the terminus due to ABAG bullying.

    EJ Reply:

    So, serious question, given the lack of a real market for a “North American” DMU, why not just build a bunch of clones of the old Budd RDC? Built like a tank, FRA compliant – you could obviously improve it by substituting a modern power plant and braking system… seems far less risk than trying to scale up a Desiro or the like.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    Because it’s an ancient design with high fuel consumption, spare parts that aren’t easy to source, etc. Much better to use an actual off-the-shelf Desiro (and not a custom-designed version that just happens not to be compliant with all FRA rules)?

    synonymouse Reply:

    Or, you could hang catenary, buy light rail vehicles available from numerous vendors, in process tell Doug Bosco and NCRA-NWP to take a permanent hike.

    Freight would have to be on permanent taxpayer life support – that’s why the SP divested the line it had spent millions reconstructing in 1964. When the parallel Panama Canal opens in a couple years the existing US West Coast ports are going to be challenged, let alone fantasyland Eureka, etc.

    Light rail means you can deploy ramps freight could never negotiate and extend south of Larkspur, where a significant part of the ridership potential resides.

    Joey Reply:

    Most of the corridor has fairly long interstations and the potential for higher top speeds than LRT offers. Regional EMUs might make sense, but LRT over 80 miles is just silly.

    synonymouse Reply:

    Much north of Santa Rosa is doable but economically dubious. There is no auto congestion and MCI coaches would do just fine.

    I am talking a Swiss mountain railway, but not narrow gauge. Souped-up streetcars, aka interurbans.

    Without grade separations enabled by light rail 79mph is way too dangerous, as they will discover. Certainly a viaduct straightway over 2nd, 3rd and 4th Sts. in San Rafael adjacent to the 101 viaducts.

    Maybe it is the spring weather but in the past few days I see yuppies in my Northbay burg blasting thru stop signs without even slowing, even blowing dead-red lights. If they don’t see any cops they think they can make their own rules. Driving while nouveau riche, I guess.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    I do not know a single country in the first world that considers 79 mph too dangerous for grade crossings. In Japan the limit is 130 km/h if I remember correctly, and in Europe it’s (I believe) 160 with a few cases of 180-200.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    Actually, now that I think about it, if on-street running south of Larkspur is desired, a Karlsruhe-style tram-train might be worth investigating.

    synonymouse Reply:

    Pretty much hopeless that way, as Corte Madera paved over the ROW and it was circuitous anyway.

    My idea is to call on Barbara Boxer, the same worthy who has always come up with the monies to add more freeway lanes in Marin to do the same for SMART. I mean Bechtel-BART style scorched earth right down 101 blasting out a new ROW for light rail as far as Marin City.

    At that point cross platform transfer to buses to the City. I’d encourage Muni to run some service to the Marin City facility as well. Of course a tunnel under Waldo Grade and onto the GG Bridge is the true longer range objective

    Neil Shea Reply:

    I like it

    Michael Reply:

    Mouse, I thought you could do better than that. The existing 101 bus runs one-stop between the San Rafael transit center and the Toll Plaza, the one stop being the Spencer bus stop right off 101 above Sausalito. A transfer from SMART to the 101 bus at San Rafael will be faster than any doodlebug to a Marin City transfer, and that’s only if you need to get to someplace besides downtown SF. A good transfer at Larkspur to the ferry will beat the pants off any other connection to downtown SF, as the ferry is as fast as driving into downtown SF.

    synonymouse Reply:

    San Rafael is the NorthBay’s worst transfer. I call it the “driver love-in”. You can lose a blinking 20 minutes there, easy.

    Larkspur on a par – it’s like a quarter mile away from the ferries. And the ferries very expensive to operate. First off the transport medium, aka water, is lethal to humans. Thus all kinds of Coast Guard regulations plus the cost of maintaining steel in water – constant war. Then you have expensive unions up the ying-yang. And you can’t open up the throttle because of the bow wave lawsuits. There was a reason they dumped the boats as soon as the GG Bridge opened up.

    GGT coaches take you to numerous destinations thru the City, and much cheaper. My light rail scheme is to reverse bustitute the trunk #80-101 lines.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    Humans don’t do too well when you smash them into asphalt or concrete at 60 miles an hour either.

    synonymouse Reply:

    GGT has an excellent safety record – the worst problem I saw in 30 years’ riding was auto drivers throwing open an door in front of a bus on Lombard or one idiot pulling his truck into the HOV lane into the bus. Not getting your drift at all.

    Now Muni and TWU 250A is another story. 13 undocumented no-shows.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    When was the last fatal accident on a San Francisco Bay ferry?

    synonymouse Reply:

    I think some street running in the Canal could be looked at. GGT has their major bus maintenance facility on Bellam. If GGT took over SMART a case might be made for a large shared shop there.

    I could see direct southbound streetcar service from the Canal down to Marin City instead of having to go north to downtown San Rafael and then transferring to a southbound service.

    Nathanael Reply:

    “So, serious question, given the lack of a real market for a “North American” DMU, why not just build a bunch of clones of the old Budd RDC? Built like a tank, FRA compliant ”

    Nope! Not FRA compliant! Merely grandfathered. In the intervening period, the FRA ordered that the tanks be built with more armor.

    I am not kidding, unfortunately.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    Ya’d probably want a Comet V with diesels slung under anyway.

    D. P. Lubic Reply:

    The most interesting thing I noted was that this “doodlebug” operation has apparently drawn enough riders that (a) replacement buses are having trouble handling the crowds, and (b) that auto traffic and resulting congestion is now somewhat worse with the railroad out of service.

    That would seem to show that a transit system does help reduce congestion; it might not normally be visible, you will likely never get a nice, smooth, clear drive during rush hour, but the congestion could be worse without that rail line.

    Nathanael Reply:

    Indeed. We’re in a situation where practically any passenger train service will be a roaring success.

    EJ Reply:

    Any developer can get “progressives” on his side if he simply starts throwing out words like “TOD” and “Density.” The brilliant part is said progressives will actually advocate that taxpayers should subsidize his profits. Back in the original streetcar era developers generally paid for transit improvements themselves, they didn’t suspect back then that taxpayers would be stupid enough to subsidize it themselves.

    D. P. Lubic Reply:

    “Back in the original streetcar era developers generally paid for transit improvements themselves, they didn’t suspect back then that taxpayers would be stupid enough to subsidize it themselves.”

    What do you think we’ve been doing with building all those new highways and interchanges and water and sewer lines for the past 80 years?

    Nathanael Reply:

    Bingo. Developers frequently expect the municipality to pony up for roads and utilities.

  8. Keith Saggers
    Mar 12th, 2013 at 16:20

    Whats the story about Kings and Kearn county refusing to you jpa?

    Keith Saggers Reply:


    joe Reply:

    It’s a negotiating strategy not a very bright one. Obstructionism works to a degree. T

    Where will the CAHSRA put that maintenance facility? Kern Co. and Bakersfield are proving to be too high risk and erratic for such a facility. Fresno Co is far safer place to locate any HSR facility.

    Peter Reply:

    I think Fresno Works has been the front-runner ever since Castle was knocked out of the running.

    joe Reply:

    Bakersfield / Kern Co are digging a very deep hole to assure the facility is put elsewhere.

    Monday, Mar 04 2013 06:25 PM

    Also Wednesday, the council will consider helping pay for a legal challenge to the California high-speed rail project.

    City administrators and council members have been vocal about their displeasure with the state High-Speed Rail Authority, particularly what they see as a lack of communication with the city.

    Last October, the council authorized the city attorney to sue the rail authority, if needed, to challenge the environmental document outlining the project because it doesn’t adequately address how impacts to the city from the project would be mitigated.

    The proposal before the council is to contribute $5,000 for costs related to a lawsuit by Kings County and two Kings County men claiming that the rail project doesn’t comply with certain requirements of the bond act voters approved to help fund it.

    Citizens for California High Speed Rail Accountability, a Kings County-based group, is trying to raise $30,000 to hire legal counsel for the suit, and the organization has asked agencies that could be affected by the rail project to help with the cost. A trial is scheduled for May 31 in Sacramento County Superior Court.

    FYI The City Manager formally apologized in writing for not telling the City about a HSR counter offer.
    Saturday, Apr 07 2012 08:09 PM
    In his weekly memo Friday afternoon, City Manager Alan Tandy apologized to city council members for not telling them sooner about a new High Speed Rail alignment being proposed for downtown Bakersfield.

    Tandy and city staff reviewed the alternate alignment in January but didn’t disclose it publicly. The city manager told The Californian he hadn’t told council members about the new plan because he considered it “incomplete” and missing key details.

    On Tuesday, The Bakersfield Californian ran an article about the possible alternate alignment.

    trentbridge Reply:

    $5000? Did you see the lawyer played by Henry Winkler in Arrested Development – Barry Zuckerkorn? That’s what you get for $5000.

    Nathanael Reply:

    The CHSRA communicates with the City Manager. The City Manager lies to the city council and conceals information from it. Then the city council blames the CHSRA for not communicating.

    Something is absent in the brains of the city council of Bakersfield.

    Joe Reply:

    The city also demands HSR pay for and provide detailed options for all alignments.

    Since they have not, the city manager decides to create conflict.

    The law limits how much GSR can spend on studies. Bakersfield has not provideduch guidance to focus the studies.

    My guess is HSR will do what is needed to get the project started on time. Absolutely no way they would elect to place a facility in that city.

    Ryan Reply:

    What I don’t get is why didn’t the CHSRA provide KMZ files of the proposed rail routes, can’t get much more detailed than that.

    datacruncher Reply:

    Fresno continues to show more support for HSR than most other counties.

    Last week, Fresno County sent a lobbying delegation to DC to discuss regional priorities related to local concerns/needs with Congress and various Fed agencies. The delegation consisted of 20 leaders from the county, several local cities, and business.

    One of their nine lobbying points was for Federal backing of a national high speed rail training center located in Fresno. The idea is the center would be “a place that prepares workers for the high-speed rail industry. It will be a major campus that trains people to work on any and all aspects of high-speed rail. It is part of a broader vision associated with the location of the California High-Speed Rail Authority’s heavy maintenance facility in Fresno County.”
    The national HSR training facility idea was included in Fresno County’s 2010 HMF proposal.

  9. Keith Saggers
    Mar 12th, 2013 at 16:30
  10. Reality Check
    Mar 13th, 2013 at 12:42

    The End of Federal Transportation Funding as We Know It

    Today the federal transportation program faces perhaps its greatest challenge since that shaky start. The most urgent problem is funding. The Highway Trust Fund that pays for America’s road and rail program is heading straight toward bankruptcy. For two decades politicians have refused to raise the 18.4-cents-per-gallon gas tax that populates the trust, even as it steadily loses purchasing power to inflation and fuel-efficient cars. The public has yet to embrace alternative funding sources — road fares or mileage fees on the user-pay side favored by economists; income taxes on the social welfare end — in part because people (mistakenly) believe they already pay a lot for transportation.

    Money is only part of the problem. The other big sticking point is purpose. There’s no longer a clear priority for national transport investment like there was during the heyday (or, rather, hey-half century) of the interstate highway program. Maintaining existing roads lacks the ribbon-cutting appeal of opening new ones. The closest thing to a new national initiative is a high-speed rail program, but while regional lines will no doubt emerge in dense corridors like California and the Northeast, political support for a national bullet train network is, to be generous, rather tepid. Lawmakers can barely muster the energy to pay for the rail system America already has, let alone a brand new one.

    At stake is the very nature of America’s top-down system of surface transportation funding. Confronted with these obstacles, officials and experts have intensified the debate over what role the federal government will play in funding transportation. Many are wondering, just as they did 120 years ago, whether there should be a federal role at all.

    Keith Saggers Reply:

    Well you certainly ‘cherry picked’ those three paragraphs, what about the other twenty in the article?

    joe Reply:

    I liked this one:
    “My sense is it’s more likely to fade away than it is be reversed in terms of a great new federal role or be eliminated entirely,” says Levinson.” The status quo policy is to leave the gas tax where it is, and it will slowly diminish over time until it becomes almost an irrelevancy. If I had to predict what I think will happen over the next 20 years, I think that’s the most likely outcome.”

    Nathanael Reply:

    That’s OK. States with some sense will fund their own transportation systems, and states with no sense will wither and die economically.

    Only problem is, if the federal government keeps abdicating its responsibility to provide national infrastructure, eventually the states are going to need to reclaim the power to print money.

    Reality Check Reply:

    The 3 paragraphs are only an excerpt to help readers decide if they want to follow the link to the full article. Get it now?

Comments are closed.