Charlotte Mayor Anthony Foxx to be Next Transportation Secretary

Apr 28th, 2013 | Posted by

It’s being widely reported today that Charlotte Mayor Anthony Foxx will be nominated by President Barack Obama to serve as the next Transportation Secretary, to replace the retiring Ray LaHood. From the Huffington Post’s story:

President Barack Obama will name Charlotte, N.C., Mayor Anthony Foxx as his next Secretary of the Department of Transportation, sources familiar with the administration’s planning told The Huffington Post. The decision is expected to come this week.

Foxx, whose profile rose when his city hosted the Democratic National Convention last summer, announced in early April that he would be leaving office at the end of this year. His name had already been floated as a possible pick for transportation secretary, owing to the work he had done on Charlotte’s transit system, including streetcar and light-rail projects.

Foxx seems like a good pick, someone who will continue LaHood’s strong support for mass transit and passenger rail projects. Of course, that support comes directly from the Oval Office, and as long as Barack Obama is president we could be confident that his Transportation Secretary would have those priorities. But it’s particularly good that a mayor will be in that position, since it’s cities that are currently at the forefront of developing the transportation systems, such as light rail and streetcars, that the Obama Administration is so strongly supporting.

Another mayor, Los Angeles’s Antonio Villaraigosa, had been rumored to be a leading choice to replace LaHood as Transportation Secretary. He would have been a fantastic choice, but as you may recall, Villaraigosa ruled it out back in February.

Transit advocates will find much to like about Anthony Foxx for this role, but not everyone is sold. Conservative blogger Matt Yglesias would prefer to “have a real technical expert run DOT rather than a politician.”

But that doesn’t make any sense. DOT is full of technical experts. We live in a democracy, and politicians exist for a reason. In order to get things done, you need people who not only have the right vision, but the ability to rally public support for it and carry it out. People like Yglesias who subscribe to a neoliberal ideology are generally suspicious of democracy and would prefer policy be made not by the people but by experts. That has never succeeded in generating the necessary public support to put a good idea into action.

Of course, Yglesias assumes that the primary problem is we don’t know what the right policies are. Especially when it comes to transportation, we do know. The problem is on the political side, where Republicans and NIMBYs are having success blocking good policy. Having a technical expert, Steven Chu, as Energy Secretary didn’t help the US adopt dramatically better energy policies.

If we want better transportation policies, we need more organizers, activists, and political leaders. Wonks and technical experts can help us implement a vision, but they aren’t going to be able to produce the public support necessary to make it possible.

  1. Jim
    Apr 28th, 2013 at 16:16
    #1

    “when it comes to transportation, we do know.”

    We may. But I’m not at all sure the civil servants in USDOT believe that fixed guideway systems and active transportation are actually preferable to highways. Sometimes you need a Secretary who’s confident enough and willing to override his staff. Will Foxx?

    Robert Cruickshank Reply:

    Most do. But even if every single one of them believed that, it wouldn’t matter. They don’t make the decisions that matter. Members of Congress and the President do. That’s where our energies need to be focused. It is necessary that the Transportation Secretary is with us on these things, but it’s not sufficient.

    Paul Druce Reply:

    I don’t think you understand how bureaucracies work.

    Ted Judah Reply:

    I’m not real certain Anthony Foxx is “with us” on progressive transportation policy.

    I have a bad feeling that he’s helping balance out the Administration’s color palette #1, and then offering us a knee-jerk urban politician who because he put in light rail suddenly puts him on a platform with R.T. Ryback, Mike McGinn, and Ken Livingstone.

    Foxx does have experience replacing a Republican in office, although I don’t think there’s quite as much damage to undo from LaHood’s tenure as McCrory’s…

    Alon Levy Reply:

    If it’s all a color, why not nominate Villaraigosa?

    Ted Judah Reply:

    The majority of the United States does not recognize the degree that Asian Americans and Hispanics have shifted the political calculus in California. For the most of the US, it doesn’t look like diversity if it’s not a black person…sorry to say.

    Eric Reply:

    Is that really true? Places like Texas, Florida, and NYC have very large and visible Hispanic populations.

    Ted Judah Reply:

    Notice that none of the states you mentioned actually were swing states with the exception of Florida. And notice, that more so than any other state, Hispanics in Florida do not vote Democrat.

    Nathanael Reply:

    Ted, any mayor who pushed as hard as Foxx to build light rail and streetcars and train stations is *definitely* “with us”.

    The only problem? Charlotte is screwed now!

    The NC state government was already trying to kneecap Charlotte’s public transportation plans. Without a mayor who is a strong advocate, Charlotte’s plans will stall out. The stuff which is already funded and under construction will probably happen, and then *nothing*. And Charlotte had a lot of stuff which needed to be done, not least the new intercity train station and the streetcar connection to it.

    Remember what happened in NM when Richardson got nominated. Even though he didn’t get confirmed.

    joe Reply:

    For the most of the US, it doesn’t look like diversity if it’s not a black person…sorry to say.

    Which is why basketball player Jeremy Lin is no big deal.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    Obama doesn’t care if white people to think he has a diverse cabinet. He wants minorities to think he has a diverse cabinet.

    jimsf Reply:

    actually he doesn’t care who thinks what, he wants people who are available, interested, and qualified as it should be.

    Joey Reply:

    I’m pretty sure that’s not how politics work.

    joe Reply:

    Bureaucracies get retreaded.

    People will fight over authority, not so much on direction in DC. The Executive Service will respond.

    The Government is so contracted out nowadays I’m not sure what fraction of skill the civil servants represent.

  2. Stephen Smith
    Apr 28th, 2013 at 19:13
    #2

    Conservative blogger Matt Yglesias…

    Indeed, he was reared by those neocons over at ThinkProgress.

  3. Drunk Engineer
    Apr 28th, 2013 at 19:36
    #3

    Steven Chu, as Energy Secretary didn’t do a damn thing to help the US adopt better energy policies.

    If raising CAFE standard to 54 mpg, and funding solar startups and Tesla is not doing a “damn thing”, I’ll take not doing a damn thing any day….

    Robert Cruickshank Reply:

    I am being a bit unfair to Chu. He was very good as Energy Secretary. But he wasn’t able to get Congress to adopt the kind of far-reaching energy policies he hoped for and decided to leave his post in part because of those frustrations.

    Richard Mlynarik Reply:

    Chu is only 1000 times more intelligent, politically savvy, and managerially effective than anybody here. Such, such a disappointment!

    joe Reply:

    Drunk Engineer embellished and change the meaning of what Robert wrote.
    Actual:

    Having a technical expert, Steven Chu, as Energy Secretary didn’t help the US adopt dramatically better energy policies.

    Drunk Engineer’s quoted text:

    Steven Chu, as Energy Secretary didn’t do a damn thing to help the US adopt better energy policies.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    I don’t think he did. We can argue over whether Chu did a better job than a politician would have, but he is a technical expert and did do an okay job. He was more successful than LaHood in adopting better energy policies, though that can partially (but only partially) be ascribed to the Republicans’ ignoring CAFE standards and going apeshit over transit.

    joe Reply:

    Fake Irishman Reply:

    Uh.. hold on — wasn’t the lead agency on the CAFE standards the EPA (with some USDOT cooperation — which was a breath of fresh air). Of course, Chu DID support them big time. Chu’s huge accomplishments really shone through in the stimulus package — APRA-E and other support for renewable energy, weatherization, expanding clean-up of old nuclear weapons sites (which are under DOE authority), etc.

    Nathanael Reply:

    Most of the DOE funding — over half — consists of funding for nuclear trash cleanup. The rest of the agency is actually a bit of a sideshow in financial terms.

  4. JJJ
    Apr 28th, 2013 at 20:04
    #4

    Unrelated: Hanford, which many here claim is too small for a HSR station is getting its very own Costco….shockingly close to the rejected Hanford East site. Did the developers help push HSR across town?

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    I thought running trains through the bucolic countryside east of Hanford would cause the cows to go dry, the hens to stop laying, make the almond trees grow horsechestnuts etc.

    JJJJ Reply:

    Well the good news is all those cows get to shop at Costco in what used to be their grazing ground*!

    *Or almonds, or chickens, unsure which exact parcel it is that is being turned into a suburban big-box mall by Fresno’s very own sprawl-master.

    Jon Reply:

    Doubtful. Hanford West came out better than Hanford East on pretty much every impact criteria.

    Ted Judah Reply:

    This assumes they even build a station in Hanford…

  5. Joey
    Apr 28th, 2013 at 21:11
    #5

    DOT is full of technical experts.

    Forgive me … but I have skepticism … given their policies with regards to railroad safety.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    They’re getting better.

    The worst people, as always, are the local leaders. On matters like where to prioritize rail transit expansions, USDOT is moving in the right direction, slowly, while state and local officials insist on sandbagging urban lines in order to build suburban extensions (or occasionally core connectors, which are the other side of the same coin). USDOT believes rail bias is about 40%; the reason Boston isn’t railstituting the Silver Lie is that MBTA decided that it would only add about 0.4% to the ridership, and the reason the MBTA decided that is that the people living in Roxbury aren’t demographically who it wants to invest in.

    Nathanael Reply:

    The MBTA qua MBTA hasn’t wanted to invest in anyone, AFACIT. The Green Line extension shenanigans are the most extreme example.

    The outlying commuter rail stuff… is pushed directly by the state legislature from what I can tell. Incomprehensibly, the state legislature doesn’t seem to believe that better transportation in Somerville and Cambridge is worthwhile, let alone Roxbury.

    The state legislature is also the organization which dumped state debts on the MBTA.

    The state legislature is where all this policy is coming from.

    I know what’s wrong with the NY State Legislature. I haven’t studied the Massachusetts state legislature nearly as closely. Have you?

  6. Back in the Saddle
    Apr 28th, 2013 at 22:01
    #6

    The U.S. Dept. Transportation is full of technical experts. Unfortunately, too many of these technical experts and engineers have one thing on their mind such as expanding bridges and roads where traffic is can’t justify spending millions instead of just rehabilitating bridges or bridges. Our passenger rail system and high volume roads are falling apart because we don’t put our monetary resources where they are needed the worst. I hope that Mr. Foxx will better scrutinize how transportation dollars are spent.

  7. Donk
    Apr 28th, 2013 at 22:02
    #7

    I am bummed that Villariagosa did not get this. He is one of the most passionate transportation advocates in the country. He was the guy pushing for the two highest impact projects in LA County (Purple Line and Regional Connector), and is a HSR and bike supporter. He (or his staff) coined 30/10 and America Fast Forward. He did not support the political handout that is the Crenshaw Line or the soon to be underperforming Foothill Gold Line.

    I haven’t been to Charlotte before, but the last thing we need is to fund a bunch of useless underutilized light rail and street car lines. The only problem is with Villaraigosa is that nobody can take him seriously.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    16,000 people a day find some utility in it.

    Nathanael Reply:

    Yes. The Charlotte light rail was wildly more successful than predicted, and has actually caused new construction to be redirected around the line rather than in suburban office parks.

    Eric Reply:

    “In fact, of the more than 4,000 new apartment units announced in Charlotte this year, 60 percent are within a 15-minute walk of the light-rail line”

    http://www.charlotteobserver.com/2012/12/07/3711178/light-rail-attracting-apartment.html#storylink=cpy

    Alon Levy Reply:

    Yes, that is strange. Almost as if Obama picked someone specifically not involved in HSR?

    Ted Judah Reply:

    I am waiting for Richard Mlynarik to start frothing at the mouth…

    synonymouse Reply:

    Villa is planning on becoming Governor – it would appear Jerry B. does not care for Gavin and he might yet bow out.

    LA politics are incredibly corrupt even by SF standards, which are pretty damn low(see Willie Brown). Villa seems to be as oblivious to the Tejon controversy as Jerry Brown. How can you get excited by a guy who wants to throw away billions needlessly on a second rate plan?

    Does the Tejon Ranch Co. really have enough power in 2013 to kill the career of a rising politician like Villa? Seems to me he would acquire some creds taking on Team Tejon.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    Report it to the Attorney General then. Be sure to offer construction details for the tin foil hats they will have to wear so the Nancy Pelosi mind rays don’t affect their vision and make them invisible to the black helicopters

    synonymouse Reply:

    And as far as underperforming goes you ain’t seen nothing until you see SMART in a few years.

    Eric M Reply:

    This coming from a guy who didn’t know what a gauntlet track being installed along SMART was!!

    Richard Mlynarik Reply:

    No sane civilian could even conceive of something so utterly bat shit insane. I don’t hold it against him, myself.

    Nice profiteering work by LTK Engineering Services and associated rent-seeking SMART contractors. Mmmmmm….. the sweet sweet sweet smell of Special Local Needs and Special Local Procurement!

    Michael Reply:

    Here’s a view of the gauntlet at the SMART Petaluma station. Future platform base is the concrete with rebar sticking out.
    http://nwprr.net/photo/petaluma-depot-gauntlet-track-4-27-13-1?context=latest#!/photo/petaluma-depot-gauntlet-track-4-27-13-1?context=latest

    Eric M Reply:

    Does this ring a bell Richard?: California Public Utilities Commission – General Order 26–D

    Eric M Reply:

    But a conspiracy always sounds better, right Richard?

    Joey Reply:

    Try harder. You should know that Richard is well aware of that rule. His argument (true or not) is that it’s profitable to not challenge it.

    Eric M Reply:

    No need. He stated “the sweet sweet sweet smell of Special Local Needs and Special Local Procurement!”. SMART followed CA law with regards to level boarding and did not put in a gauntlet track because of a little voice whispering to them to make more money. And actually, the gauntlet tracks are cheaper than installing movable platforms, as the SPRINTER did.

    Joey Reply:

    And yet the question remains. NCTD never challenged it (instead opting for those movable platforms). SMART never challenged it, and is now building gauntlet tracks. CalTrain has yet to challenge it, and as a result we are looking to get no level boarding and permanent incompatibility with HSR. And that’s just the recent examples – Metrolink, Coaster, and even Amtrak California would benefit from getting rid of this rule. So why has it never been challenged? I can’t say whether it’s corruption or incompetence, but I don’t see any other reasonable explanations.

    Nathanael Reply:

    Nobody has standing to “challenge it”. What does that even mean?

    The only thing you can do is *lobby* the CPUC or the state legislature to change the rule.

    Did these organizations lobby/ask the CPUC or the state legislature to change the rule? I don’t know, on the whole. I know the Sprinter people asked, they said they asked.

    The conclusion I reach is that this is NOT the fault of the locals, but the fault of an extremely intransigent and non-responsive CPUC. This is the same CPUC which refused to allow off-the-shelf Sprinters, requiring different brakes for completely idiotic, legalistic reasons.

    How do you get through to such an agency? You don’t. Only their bosses can get through to them. This means that nothing will happen until this problem gets the attention of either the governor or the state legislature. Who are most assuredly *not* paying attention at the moment, given how much else is going on.

    Peter Reply:

    True, it does, but there is no excuse for the CPUC not changing GO 26-D or no agency proposing that CPUC change GO 26-D.

    Eric M Reply:

    I completely agree. But it hasn’t happened yet.

    Jonathan Reply:

    No indeed. I mean, it’s vital to the economic and safety interests of California to have regulations governing how huge blocks of ice are to be put into wooden non-mechanical refrigerator cars.
    Isn’t it?

    Richard Mlynarik Reply:

    Dear “Eric M”,

    You have precisely, exactly zero knowledge about this issue.

    Thanks for your contribution!

    (And give that man a position on the SMART Board — he’s clearly got exactly the right qualification.)

    Eric M Reply:

    And your point of the sign? Caltrain does not have level (high) boarding platforms.

    Wooo hooo, a picture of a sign.

    Nathanael Reply:

    Dear “Richard Mlynarik”,

    You have precisely, exactly negative 1000 knowledge about this issue. Everything you write reveals your, not merely ignorance, but active belief in and promotion of falsehoods.

    synonymouse Reply:

    gauntlet switches and tracks must not be too common as it does not appear is this glossary:

    http://www.allenrailroad.com/consulting/Railroad_Glossary.htm

    But my ignorance of class one switches is real. Much more familiar with hinged grooved girder rail street railway switches.

    SMART does not go where the ridership lies and will only operate occasionally. Heavy rail tech does not translate well to transit-style overpasses, viaducts, etc. A few months ago SMART did a perfunctory discussion of an overpass in Santa Rosa. I did not even bother to comment on the PD story about it that freight could never handle the ramps and so the question was not only moot but ridiculous.

    D. P. Lubic Reply:

    Strange that the gauntlet track isn’t in that glossary; they’re somewhat unusual, but not that much. They’re probably most common as the bypass tracks for a track scale to keep the weight of a locomotive off the scale.

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

    https://www.google.com/search?q=gauntlet+track&tbm=isch&tbo=u&source=univ&sa=X&ei=PMp-Uc3NHeri4AOb04DwBg&ved=0CDwQsAQ&biw=1024&bih=677

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=a1MnLd3eFho

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jOTnmci9dJA

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7Urr9c62xIw

    Nathanael Reply:

    Gauntlet tracks are frequently used for constrained ROW on tramway in order to avoid switches. Gauntlet switches are a little less common.

    Paul Dyson Reply:

    The only term consultants need is “billable hours”.

  8. Eric
    Apr 29th, 2013 at 01:12
    #8

    Remind me why it took until late April to confirm a transportanion secretary? Obama was reelected almost half a year ago…

    swing hanger Reply:

    Didn’t LaHood stay on a bit longer than usual, for whatever reason?

    Alan F Reply:

    My understanding is that Obama and his staff wanted LaHood to stay on, so they waited until LaHood made up his mind to step down in late January. So the Administration did not start the process of seriously looking for a new Secretary until then. There were a number of names floated, but then nothing for several months. With LaHood staying on until his replacement is confirmed, there was no need for a rush replacement.

    Since Mayor Foxx has not had a major DC position before, the vetting process likely had to start from scratch. The vetting process for a Cabinet position is extremely long and arduous in these days of gotcha politics, so Obama could have settled on Foxx 2 months ago, but it took that long for the vetters to give Foxx a pass.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    <em<The vetting process for a Cabinet position is extremely long and arduous in these days of gotcha politics

    The vetting process is long and arduous when a Democratic President nominates someone. Made long and arduous by Republicans. When a Republican President nominates someone the Republicans, in unison, begin chanting that the President should get his appointees confirmed expeditiously. That there should be an up or down vote as soon as possible.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    On the contrary. The GOP does vet; they don’t want another Souter.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    Which is why Roberts skipped through his confirmation hearings with the hardest question being “what is your favorite movie?”

    Eric Reply:

    He said Souter, not Bork.

    Nathanael Reply:

    The Republican Party does not confirm Cabinet members any more, not when a Democrat is President. Look at the enormous numbers of vacancies which they’ve kept in place for years at a time, by refusing to even vote on nominations.

    This is not a sustainable situation. The President will end up having to do everything with recess appointments, and the Supreme Court will have to rule that that is OK — if they don’t then it sets up a confrontation in which the President will be forced to override the Supreme Court. The Supreme Court is not quite that stupid.

  9. D. P. Lubic
    Apr 29th, 2013 at 03:41
    #9

    In other news, we have forces trying to destroy another active heritage railroad for a trail, and they include what sounds like a pompous bully of a mayor in Kinston, N.Y.:

    http://www.rypn.org/forums/viewtopic.php?f=1&t=34945

    http://www.rypn.org/forums/viewtopic.php?f=1&t=34339&start=30

    From the Catskill Mountain Railway’s News thread on Railway Preservation News:

    “In Kingston [and this is where the mayor in question is from] on Saturday CMRR’s participation in Kingston’s ‘Operation Clean Sweep’ included a thorough cleaning of the ROW from O’Neil St. to Westbrook Lane. Both litter and large items were removed by crews and taken in the side dump to Cornell St. for later disposal. Just west of Chandler Dr., the railroad loaded several tons of tie remnants into a 30-yd. contaner and cleaned up several piles of debris which had been dumped adjacent to the tracks. The crew included Earl Pardini, Al Schoessow, Steve Gollow, Raphael Demeglio, Walt Otto, Bob Blake, Frank Libihoul, John Patane, Peter Fluchere, Jim Bruck, Ron Epstein, and myself.”

    http://photos.greatrails.net/s/?p=208208

    http://photos.greatrails.net/s/?p=208209

    http://photos.greatrails.net/s/?p=208210

    Eric Reply:

    Eh, this line has had no transportation value for decades. It had a leisure value, but likely no more than a trail would. So as someone who wants the best transportation, and thinks that that often means trains – I just don’tcare about this.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    Another similar railroad in New York, the Adirondack Scenic Railroad, has the same suggestion made about it fairly often. That it as a trail it would attract thousands of hikers, bicyclists and snowmobilers. It attracts 40,000 people a year as a railroad. It already is a snowmobile trail in the winter. Another similar operation, the Upper Hudson River Railroad wasn’t doing as well. But still managed to attract more passengers than it would as a trail. It was leased to another operator Iowa Pacific, who call their new service the Saratoga and North Creek. They claim to be making money on operations. And attract more people than a trail would. They are going to be hauling freight. Getting trucks off the scenic highways of the Adirondack Park. There are many hiking biking and snowmobile trails in the Catskills. One scenic railroad. Which attracts people who don’t hike, bike or snowmobile.

    Nathanael Reply:

    It’s substantially more valuable as a leisure train than as a leisure trail.

    First, it’s very steep for a trail — a terrible walking route.

    Second, it goes through the property of one of the NY City Reservoirs, and NYC wants to keep a tight clamp on access to that area. People on a train or track maintainers are one thing — people wandering a trail are another, and NYC will almost certainly reject a trail proposal outright.

    The mayor of Kingston seems to be *nuts*.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    The Mayor of Kingston is a Republican doesn’t “bat shit insane” have to be on their resume these days?

  10. jimsf
    Apr 29th, 2013 at 07:45
    #10

    ot So this means that with the blended two track design there can be a caltrain every ten minutes in each direction and an hsr every 30 minutes in each direction..

    Also, has caltrain chosen its emu yet? have they considered placing an order with another agency to save money on a bulk purchase?

    Are there passing tracks included in the plan?
    Caltrain has been studying passing tracks as an option in its capacity analysis. Without passing tracks, the corridor can carry 6 Caltrains and 2 High Speed Rail trains per direction per hour at peak. With passing track, the corridor can carry up to 4 High Speed Trains.

    The MOU mentions “potential passing tracks” as part of the Blended System. But there is no funding identified or allocated for the passing tracks, and the first stage of Caltrain’s plan does not include them. Additional environmental review would be needed for passing tracks.

    Joey Reply:

    Also, has caltrain chosen its emu yet? have they considered placing an order with another agency to save money on a bulk purchase?

    They have done neither so far, and AFAIK they haven’t set a date for doing so. If nothing else, maybe it gives them time to pick a common platform height with HSR (which the blended plan offers additional motivation for). And re the second point: I don’t think there’s any other agency in the U.S. planning to run the same type of trains as CalTrain (non-compliant EMUs), unfortunately.

    So this means that with the blended two track design there can be a caltrain every ten minutes in each direction and an hsr every 30 minutes in each direction..

    Keep in mind, there are already two (short) segments of passing tracks. The current plan gets rid of CalTrain express service to make way for HSR. And exactly how many trains can be accommodated depends on how much additional passing track is built (probably in Redwood City). The full analysis is available here. They’re supposed to be doing additional analysis which would include CalTrain express service, but that was due to be released last summer and we still have no sign of it.

    jimsf Reply:

    ok well, that many trains should be plenty adequate. I can’t imagine there ever being a need for more than an hsr departure and arrival every 15 minutes. and a caltrain every 10 minutes. Thats a LOT of service!

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    Creaky old stodgy slow Amtrak manages to run four an hour during Amtrak’s peak between New York and Philadelphia.

    jimsf Reply:

    I haven’t found anything addressing how frieght will operate with high platforms on the two track system

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    Like this

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

    Or if they insist, like this.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EX1PQPltjrw

    Or the 2,457 other videos foamers have taken of freight trains going past the high platforms

    jimsf Reply:

    well then we should be doing that here too. Maybe the freight railroads don’t want it and maybe they have political clout in sac?

    Paul Druce Reply:

    No, it’s just that nobody has been smart enough to go to CPUC and ask them to change the rule.

    jimsf Reply:

    I doubt that.

    Joey Reply:

    Go ahead and try to find an example.

    Nathanael Reply:

    Sprinter asked.

    You could say that they didn’t ask loud enough, or hard enough, or insistently enough, but they did ask. And they were rejected.

    Jonathan Reply:

    Paul,

    that’s not entirely clear. It’s also quite plausible be that no-one in a position to approach CPUC has even _understood_ the problems caused by the current regulations.

    Nathanael Reply:

    The Sprinter people definitely understand the problem.

    I think it’s more that little municipal railroads are not considered equals by the mighty CPUC, and are not listened to. How many people at CPUC even work in the railroad safety area? Do *any* of them have authority to change rules? Who *does* have authority to change the rules? I’m betting some high muckity-muck who only pays attention to the electrical grid.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    No can’t do that. It would mean that California would be using those antique measurements that the Pullman company forced onto the Pennsylvania Railroad and the New York Central along with the New York New Haven and Hartford in 1900 or so.

    Joey Reply:

    And why should you? Freight trains pass high platforms all the time all over the world (even in this country) with no problems. The only thing preventing it is a CPUC rule which hasn’t been relevant for the greater part of a century. Now, that being said, the *current* plan is for CalTrain to have 8″ platforms to accommodate this, but hopefully that will change.

    jimsf Reply:

    That was my point, I thought it was not legal for freight to pass high platforms.

    On a two track system, will there be four track stations to accommodate the high platform hsr and low platform caltrains?

    Joey Reply:

    They glossed over that little detail in the blended plan analysis they’ve done so far. It will presumably have to be dealt with by the time construction starts.

    Richard Mlynarik Reply:

    hopefully that will change.

    You’ll have to kill everybody at Caltrain and everbody at every one of Caltrain’s World Class consultancies for that to happen.

    They’ve only had twenty years to lift a fucking finger to do anything about level boarding (ie make one phone call), and they outright refused.

    Just remember first and foremost: expensive, slow, inefficient, labour-intensive, do-it-the-wrong-way-without-any-planing-and-then-redo-it-many-times-over and generally sub-third world is in the “professional” interests of every one of America’s Finest Transportation Professionals. Move away from that even an inch (let alone a millimetre) from the Sheltered Workshop model of trade protected lifetimes of basket weaving and they’re all out on the streets, unskilled, unemployable, socially useless welfare cases.

    Joey Reply:

    The blended plan hasn’t dealt with differing platform heights at, for instance, Millbrae, has it? They’ll have to deal with that at some point, and hopefully someone will realize that a tunnel which would probably come close do doubling the initial cost of sending HSR up the peninsula is the wrong way to go. Hopefully?

    jimsf Reply:

    well with two track, they need a tunnel at millbrae since two tracks are already there.

    Joey Reply:

    So we also need a tunnel in Cocoran because there are already two tracks there? Check your logic. And get on google maps. There’s room for one additional track to the west of the station (already in the plan), and room for one more if you reduce BART’s allotment from 3 tracks to 2 (still more than adequate given their needs). No need to flush $2 billion down the toilet on a single track tunnel.

    jimsf Reply:

    that should have read we dont need a tunnel.

    Joey Reply:

    Well that would fix it :P but the issue of platform height still has to be resolved since HSR will stop at Millbrae, and the faregates have to be done away with.

    jimsf Reply:

    I doubt the fare gates will be done away with. HSR will have paid areas.

    Joey Reply:

    But that’s incompatible with having shared tracks (and therefore platforms) at Millbrae.

    jimsf Reply:

    I think it’s incompatible for the near term blended approach overall. But I think the blended approach is going to be temporary.

    Joey Reply:

    Perhaps, though they have yet to address any of these issues. There’s also the question of platform height.

    jimsf Reply:

    Either cshra hasn’t realized that they are planning for a faregate system ( tbt for instance) and they haven’t considered how a faregate system will blend with caltrain and metrolink, or they know about their future plans than they are letting on right now. I’m guessing the latter.

    On the other hand, muni metro jklmnt actually uses a combination fare gate/no fare gate system so perhaps that’s how hsr will work. Paid secure areas in the big stations, pop in between.

    Nathanael Reply:

    Richard: put up or shut up. Give us the phone number of the correct person at CPUC to call, who has the power to change the rules.

    I bet you don’t even know who it is.

    Michael Reply:

    His name is S. Claus. The number is 916-555-1212.

    Really, you believe one person can say yes or no, or are just bad at being facetious?

    Richard Mlynarik Reply:

    has caltrain chosen its emu yet?

    Yes,

    They have yet to pretend to go through the characde of “competitive” procurement, but you know exactly how these things work with the World’s Finest Transportation Planning Professionals.

    CBOSS! PBQD=CHSRA! LTK Engineering Services! Buy America! Think American.

    Write the specs and you control the outcome — and it’s always the poorest performing, most expensive, and highest continuing cost (ka-ching!) outcome, because that’s just the way they like it.

    jimsf Reply:

    so which one is it?

    Joey Reply:

    If by “they should be” you mean “other agencies should be switching to non-compliant EMUs,” then yes, they should be. As it is there’s no one (in the US) for CalTrain to share an order with.

    jimsf Reply:

    and why didn’t ebart and smart get the same dmus

    synonymouse Reply:

    I think this is a pretty accurate quote from Casino – Robert DeNiro as the Ace Rothstein character(Lefty Rosenthal in real life):

    “With the bosses it’s always about the money.”

    jimsf Reply:

    What bosses? who even says “bosses” any more. Stop being a kook

    synonymouse Reply:

    I guess you could substitute “capi”.

    It is a shakedown, by any other name. Whatever you can get away with – the mores of the day.

    Joey Reply:

    Who even says “kook” anymore either?

    Alon Levy Reply:

    In the skeptic community, lots of people.

    Joey Reply:

    jimsf – precisely because SMART opted for FRA compliance – trading the restriction that freight could only run at night for more money spent on FRA-compliant trains and additional ongoing operating expenses.

    jimsf Reply:

    oh yeh, bart is using dedicated row. I understand they are still considering converting to real bart later.

    Joey Reply:

    Keep in mind, SMART could have gone non-compliant and just restricted freight to night operations.

    synonymouse Reply:

    NCRA-NWP does not want to be restricted in its operations.

    Don’t forget the likes of Doug Bosco and the other insiders are calling the shots.

    But SMART did manage to piss off Ghilotti Bros Const., a local power, at least so far.

    Nathanael Reply:

    Joey: look at how well “non-compliance” worked out for Sprinter. CPUC ended up requiring a completely insanse design, which proceeded to break.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    The specs they wrote in 2004 are going to hopelessly outdated by the time they are issuing Requests for Information in 2034. And placing orders in 2040.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    have they considered placing an order with another agency to save money on a bulk purchase?

    No. Other agencies aren’t thinking about what they will have delivered in 2025. Or 2020 for that matter.

    jimsf Reply:

    Well they should be.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    They are concentrating on what will be delivered in 2015. And what they will be ordering in 2016 to be delivered in 2018.

    Peter Baldo Reply:

    Why is there the big hurry to redo Caltrain, when the high speed trains won’t be running on the peninsula until 2029? A lot is going to change before 2029 – electrification technology, signalling, etc. The high speed system hasn’t gotten its act together, yet, as to platform height, train width, etc. It seems like the next 10 years would be better spent building grade separations and passing sections.

    Richard Mlynarik Reply:

    Peter,

    Set the wayback machine for 1985! “Caltrain modernization: Real Soon Now! Trust Us!”

    But done, of course, the American Transportation Planning Professional way: with no plan, no timetable, no penalty for abject failure, lifetime full employment, no deadlines, no deliverables, no service plan, no quality metrics, no strategic plan, no capital prioritization, no accountability.

    Set the wayforward machine for 2030 and Future You will be able to note “… hasn’t gotten its act together yet …” about exactly the same issues! Only you’ll doing it on your Mr Fusion powered iPhone model 87234s.

    Caltrain: putting yesterday in the future, today, and every day.

    Peter Baldo Reply:

    I detect a tone of sarcasm – even cynicism – in your comment. But may I say, “This time, it’s different!”
    There will be electrified Caltrain and high speed rail on the peninsula. By 2029, everything will be running – maybe even sooner. There are various steps that need to be accomplished beforehand, and I think it would be best to do the electrification, signalling, train purchases, etc, when those things have been decided and are being done elsewhere on the high-speed system. Right now, there is plenty of passing track and grade separations to keep everybody busy. I think it will be much less convenient to do the passing track and grade separations later.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    Because the train you buy in 2020 will still be in service in 2050.

    Adina Reply:

    caltrain is bursting at the seams. electrification is needed for more capacity well before hsr gets here.

    Richard Mlynarik Reply:

    Caltrain hardly “bursting at the seams” by any normal measure of regional rail capacity. A handful of trains, operated with five car trains on bizarre shit schedules with huge and random and arbitrary gaps of up to an hour, are approaching standing room only at some points. Boo hoo hoo. Mumbai weeps.

    Moreover, electrification will deliver nothing. Caltrain will still be an FRA-regulated freight railroad, with horrific UTU and BLE overstaffing (that’s where inability to run more service starts);
    extremely lengthy station dwell times (no level boarding, ever, 100% due to Caltrain incompetence);
    extremely slow and costly terminal turnback times (thanks to FRA and freight railroad culture);
    nose-bleed expensive (per-km, per train-hour, per-anything) maintenance costs;
    higher operating cost with electrification thanks to dismal train utilization;
    worse than piss-poor service (hourly is their aspirational goal!) except in olde tyme “commuter railroading” peak hours;
    and zero co-ordinated connecting transit (other than a few shuttle buses to far-flung private office parks.)

    Quite the return on a billion and a half tax dollars!

    America’s Finest Transportation Planning Professionals, on the job.

    BTW you forgot to parrot the Caltrain PR line on how CBOSS is essential for capacity and modernization and HSR and electrification and to save innocent children’s lives. Don’t worry, it’s taken as read.

    Paul Dyson Reply:

    Richard, you are so right. Unfortunately Metrolink cannot aspire to the dizzy heights of Caltrain service. After 20 years it’s a shambles that cannot even keep a set of books. Ready to “blend” with High Speed Rail! You just couldn’t make this crap up.

    synonymouse Reply:

    Richard is the guy whose posts make this site worthwhile. He rubs your nose in the catshit of reality. We all want Euro style electric rail but we’re stumbling. Ancient rules, machine-defended sinecures, featherbedding and we are just starting with the “software”(regs, CBOSS, schedules, etc.); the hardware is just as off-base.

    You can see why BART-Bechtel went for all new in 1962 but even then they were cursed with sabotage.

    Only a private operator with an enormous fortune to finance privately held, financed, designed and operated undertaking and plenty of cash to payola the machine politicos could and would achieve the level of quality and perfection we want.

    Nathanael Reply:

    Richard’s really pretty ignorant. So are those of you who are listening to him, because listening to him makes people stupider.

    Here’s a proper understanding of the politics here:
    (1) San Fransisco / Bay area money is not targeted towards getting anything useful done. This is NOT true outside the Bay Area. Within the Bay Area, it’s true of all projects, not just transportation. There’s a long series about this in SF Weekly by Joe Esterhazy, I believe.
    (2) The state agencies are sick of this and are going to do their damnedest to do all work outside the Bay Area first.
    (3) And they’re willing to throw some consultant feed at the Bay Area agencies to keep them distracted from the fact that the Bay Area is getting nothing because of its own disinterest in success.

    My prediction: there will be HSR running from Sacramento to Los Angeles before you see any meaningful change in the Bay Area.

  11. jimsf
    Apr 29th, 2013 at 07:51
    #11

    The Administration Refreshes Its Push for a Major Infusion of Funds into the National Rail Program

    Tony D Reply:

    Keystone pipeline approval for National Rail Program! A “win, win” all around…

  12. Shane Phillips
    Apr 29th, 2013 at 11:01
    #12

    “Conservative blogger Matt Yglesias”

    Haha.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    He’s not conservative, he’s a communist Nazi Islamist Kenyan Keynesian.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    don’t forget anti-colonial. The founding fathers warned us about the dangers of anti-colonialism donchya know you betchya.

    Ted Judah Reply:

    You can take the Robert out of Berkeley, but you can’t take the Berkeley out of Robert…

    Robert Cruickshank Reply:

    Truer words were never spoken. (At least on this blog.)

    Alon Levy Reply:

    He’s just pissed that the economists have the best view on campus because their building is the ugliest.

  13. jimsf
    Apr 29th, 2013 at 11:22
    #13

    Lahood is discussing hsr right now says obama is committed to it.

  14. jimsf
    Apr 29th, 2013 at 16:36
    #14

    ot but this is first Ive heard of this e bart extension from hillcrest to discovery bay workshops

  15. swing hanger
    Apr 29th, 2013 at 17:34
    #15

    More FUD from our friend Ralphie V. over at The Fishrap:
    http://www.latimes.com/news/local/la-me-0426-bullet-train-snag-20130429,0,4265519.story

    joe Reply:

    It’s a reissue of his past hits on HSR passed off as a new column.

    Ironically, the Kochs will by the LA Times and immediately fire the HSR beat writer.

    What I like is the positive image of Gov. Brown in China boarding a HSR train.

  16. synonymouse
    Apr 29th, 2013 at 17:36
    #16

    The CHSRA does not have to worry about the SEC as no investor will touch the DogLeg with a 10 foot pole, know full well it will only be salable for a fraction of what was lavished on it .

    http://online.wsj.com/article/BT-CO-20130429-714594.html?mod=googlenews_wsj

    orulz Reply:

    You are wrong.

    This so called “DogLegRail” that you tirade on and on against, yields a better system than an I-5 route. Probably not as good of a system per dollar spent, but a better system. When you take money out of the equation, a few added minutes of travel time in exchange for directly serving several million more people in the central valley is a good trade.

    If private investors were willing to invest, say, $10 billion in an I-5 route, then I predict they would also be willing to invest at least $10 billion in a Hwy 99 route since I would predict it will produce [i]more[/i] ridership, not less. Due to the higher cost of the Hwy 99 route, of course this $10 billion investment is a lower percentage of the total cost than it would have been for an I-5 route, with the extra cost being borne by the taxpayers, but that is the consequence of building political support for the project in the first place.

    synonymouse Reply:

    99 AmBART elevated thru backyards and farm fields will be a fiscal sinkhole in the auto-crazed San Joaquin Valley. Permanent subsidy taypayer life support.

    Where are the investors interested in BART or Amtrak? They’ll just luve 13 undocumented no-shows. A few days a friend of mine got stuck on the StarLate sitting for a couple hours in Klamath Falls due to a union beef. Yeah, investors really go for that.

    synonymouse Reply:

    few days ago

    Where is the hsr investment in low-cost Mexico?

    Nathanael Reply:

    The potential for HSR in Mexico somewhat damaged by the Bush/Fox era destruction of the entire Mexican passsenger railway system, and that’s an understatement.

    However, Guadalajara-Mexico City is being planned and there are big Mexican superrich who are planning to put their money in once the government commits. So. Bet you didn’t expect an actual answer to that…

    jimsf Reply:

    The valley is not “auto crazed” The valley currently doesn’t have any other options. They want options. They ask all the time for more service, better service , more options. They are tired of being neglected. When is the last time you lived in the valley? I spent half my life there. You don’t know what you are talking about.

    synonymouse Reply:

    The wife is down in Fresno as we speak working with her friends on a little farming scheme they came up with. And her transmission is about shot so new car time soon.

    Hey you want options, try an aerial tramway – but make sure you keep the TWU-Amalgamatged out of it.

    99 AmBART is a stone loser. If you drive between, say Fresno and Modesto, it costs the same in gas for one person or a family of 6. Do the math. They will and will still be driving, especially at 110 degrees.

    jimsf Reply:

    they don’t ride trains

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    They aren’t old rich straight white guys – True Californians ™ that are Real Americans ™ so they don’t count.

    Nathanael Reply:

    Hell, my fiancee took Amtrak when she left Bakersfield back in the 1990s.

    (Of course, she didn’t come *back*, but that’s a different problem which the Valley has. Good connections to LA would probably alleviate the “brain drain”.)

    jimsf Reply:

    I wonder who all those families were whom I sold all those tickets too.

  17. swing hanger
    Apr 29th, 2013 at 17:36
    #17

    *fishwrap*

    synonymouse Reply:

    A totally innocuous article mildly appealing to the current majority opposition to the project. I guess the cheerleaders demand nothing short of fawning dictated by PB’s flacks.

    “If the agency decides to conduct a full examination of the multibillion-dollar project, it could cover a range of design, financial and operational issues, and add another layer of government bureaucracy to the endeavor.”

    No chance of this happening whatsoever – everything that has transpired so far has been strictly going thru the motions for the interested parties and stakeholders, including the litigation.

    Now the BNSF is another matter as they know the field and sense gross incompetence. They don’t want to be stuck affected by blunders by morons and so are insisting that PB-CHSRA make clear and hard and fast decisions. But I suggest the BNSF will indeed react proactively and negatively if they sense they are being bullshitted by PB the way the public is. They just might tell Brown & co. to take their toy trains elsewhere.

    Nathanael Reply:

    You don’t know BNSF at all.

    Nor did you read their letter. They basically say “Come on, there’s disorganization here, who do we talk to and what is the plan?” Which is fair. Eventually, the answer will be “Governor Brown has appointed so-and-so as the point man to talk to you and he will tell you the plan”.

  18. D. P. Lubic
    Apr 29th, 2013 at 17:56
    #18

    On a lighter note–a bit about a somewhat different streetcar suburb in the San Francisco area:

    http://www.carville-book.com/index.php

    http://www.outsidelands.org/sw19.php

  19. jimsf
    Apr 29th, 2013 at 18:06
    #19

    What we need in california is an iron fisted emperor of rail who who can madate that..

    all rail use the smae high platform
    all rail be electrified with the same system
    all rail use emus
    all rail of similar types use the exact same emu for total of two types of trainsets in cali.
    commuter emus and 220hsr emus.
    all rail use the same ticketing and fare structure.
    and everything runs 24 hours a day
    and all californians are expected to be as mobile as possible and go lots of places all the time.
    and all the rail systems should be the single system with a single name and livery.

    and whoever doesn’t obey the rail emperor will be exiled to Barstow.

    that would solve a lot of problems.

    Jonathan Reply:

    You missed:
    all rail use the same track gauge

    :)

    synonymouse Reply:

    All new lines commandeer the shortest and most direct routes.

    Joey Reply:

    I didn’t know we were getting into the business of drilling secant tunnels deep through the earth’s crust. SF-LA would reach a distance of nearly 4 miles below ground (but would conveniently pass directly under San Jose!)

    Alon Levy Reply:

    Sometimes this is done for new-build HSR, but not always. For example, the LGV Sud-Est Atlantique is planning to be serving Toulouse on the LGV to Bordeaux.

    There’s always a tradeoff between a direct line and a line that serves more cities. It boils down to difference in length and constructability and the importance of the cities served. Tejon is cheaper than the Tehachapis by a few billion and saves 10 minutes and Palmdale is just an exurb, so it’s justifiable; but I-5 is barely shorter and barely cheaper than west-of-99 and Fresno is a bigger city, so west-of-99 is better (leaving aside the west-of-99 vs. 99/BNSF debate).

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    and Palmdale is much closer to Las Vegas than Santa Clarita….

    synonymouse Reply:

    If sportsbook is legalized in California – as proposed – another nail in Sin City’s coffin.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    Just like when you call the 800 number and get connected to someone in India, legalized sports bettting in California will mean you get connected to the same operator in the same call center in Nevada. Labor and real estate are cheaper in Nevada. And just like people in Fresno get the urge to go to Los Angeles now and then people in Las Vegas will get the urge to go to Los Angeles now and then.

    Andy M Reply:

    A line that serves multiple cities also permits journeys between those cities. An array of more or less parallel lines that serve all cities by the sortest possible route fails to do that unless you accept massive detours.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    Yes, this is what I’m saying – the tradeoff on I-5 is marginally lower construction costs and barely faster travel times between LA and SF versus service to Fresno, Merced, and Modesto.

    Ted Judah Reply:

    And the emperor must use this theme song: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_w4Xulsjo5I

    Alon Levy Reply:

    You don’t need an emperor for that. On the contrary, the country coming closest to this ideal, Switzerland, runs everything by referendum and has a seven-member executive branch instead of a president or a prime minister. In Switzerland, everything is electrified, all platforms are 550 mm, and they’re transitioning to having only EMUs with level boarding (not all Swiss commuter trains have level boarding still). One ticket works for everything, with free transfers to city buses within metro area travel, and the schedules are integrated so that the suburban buses that serve train stations are timed to meet the commuter trains.

    jimsf Reply:

    yes but switzerland is like 100 rich white folks in lederhosen who find it easy to agree.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    Switzerland is a bunch of Catholics and Protestants, speaking German, French, and Italian, who have had to figure out ways to agree since the days when those distinctions were meaningful. The pan-European pan-(Judeo-)Christian white identity is a recent thing in both the US and Europe.

    Ted Judah Reply:

    To quote Michael Moore’s seminal work “Canadian Bacon”:

    “How did Canada avoid a Civil War?”

    “No slavery.”

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    It helps that there wasn’t a Canada until after slavery was abolished. Not that there were many slaves in what is now Canada before it abolished.

    Ted Judah Reply:

    Since you seem to not get the reference:

    Canada was actually designed by the British to be more colonial and paternalistic from the start after seeing how quickly the US dissolved into rebellion. Canada has never been a country that has relied upon the exploitation of labor as much as the US…

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    Canada has never been a country that has relied upon the exploitation of labor as much as the US

    Yes, which is why slavery wasn’t widespread in what is now Canada. It’s still difficult to have a civil war over something that was abolished when your country was still a collection of colonies. And difficult to become a country if the rebellions get quashed more effectively than the one in what is now the US.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    Canada has a lot more racial friction in its history than Americans realize, between English and French speakers. Actually, one of the supposed atrocities Britain was committing against the American colonists was handing over most of the Midwest to Quebec in order to mollify French resentment against English rule.

    As for the bit about slavery, we can test this theory by looking at what happened in the Caribbean British colonies, where most of the population was black slaves. Turns out, no civil war, no nothing, just slavery gets abolished and black people move to the bottom of the hierarchy of free people just like in the US 30 years later.

    Nathanael Reply:

    Don’t get me started on the history of Native American – colonist relations in Canada and the US.

    The US Civil War was caused by a particular form of insanity among the slaveholding plantation owners in the South, who actually thought that they could force an endless enlargement of slavery rather than allowing it to shrink. They were honestly talking about stuff like attacking Britain.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    It was generic insanity. They thought they could win the war for one. It gets worse after that. Their descendants are member of the Tea Party, with the same tenuous relationship with reality.

    blankslate Reply:

    That explains why Brazil had a civil war…

    joe Reply:

    Still rich and white.

    Joey Reply:

    For bizarre and utterly unknown reasons, Europe as a whole is pretty white.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    White in the same sense that Italians and Jews were white in 1900’s New York.

    Eric Reply:

    Reminds me of the Swedish finance minister who visited the US and boasts about how his country has a near-zero poverty rate. His American counterpart then pointed out that among Scandinavian immigrants to the US, the poverty rate is also near-zero.

    Andy M Reply:

    implying what?

    that poverty is a genetical trait?

    I’m not sure what you’re trying to say. But if you’re saying what I think you’re saying, it’s sort of racist.

    Eric Reply:

    A cultural trait, certainly. Or rather, one whose prevalence is influenced by culture.

    Paul Dyson Reply:

    jimsf, very ignorant remark. Thank you Alon for the correction. Those narrow valleys make for xenophobia on steroids.

    jimsf Reply:

    and ill bet no one in switzerland gets run over by trains either or gets their lowriders stuck on the tracks at grade crossings.

    Peter Reply:

    Actually, they do: http://www.20min.ch/schweiz/ostschweiz/story/Auto-kollidiert-mit-Frauenfeld-Wil-Bahn-25456414

    and http://polizei24.ch/tag/zugunfall-frauenfeld/

    and http://www.tagblatt.ch/ostschweiz/thurgau/kantonthurgau/tz-tg/Mehr-als-doppelt-so-viele-Unfaelle-wie-im-Vorjahr;art123841,3314239

    Why are there so many accidents on the Frauenfeld-Wil-Bahn? Amazingly, NIMBY concerns are preventing improvements to the local grade crossings!

    Andy M Reply:

    It’s not just Nimbys. It’s local geography. There is a major trucking company based in Wil, and hence you can expect there to be lots of trucks going into and out of Wil, and hence it is to be expected that there are more incidents involving trucks. Sometimes trucks hit trains. Sometimes trucks hit kids. Sometimes trucks hit other trucks. Its the trucks that are the common feature here, not trains. The owner of that trucking company is also incidentally one of the leading campaigners for said rail line to be shut down. He’ll probably be campaigning for people to be forbidden to have kids once he’s through with that. And for all competing trucking companies to be wiped out after that. All in the interest of safety of course. How dare those nimbys doubt his good intentions?

    D. P. Lubic Reply:

    That bit about the high rate of car-rail accidents in Wil couldn’t help but remind me of this compilation of footage from the light rail line in Houston, Tx.:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CV2rdGX4JYc

    Nathanael Reply:

    “On the contrary, the country coming closest to this ideal, Switzerland, runs everything by referendum”

    Alon, a referendum system is actually rather similar to an emperor, for this purpose.

    Once the referendum is done, THE REFERENDUM HAS SPOKEN and all will obey it. Hence the politicians cowering behind Prop 13 of the 1970s for the next *40 years*, even though it should have been repealed long ago.

    Nathanael Reply:

    …which leads me to a suggestion. Make an initiative for referendum. It can include stuff like

    — everything will be converted to the same track gauge
    — the obsolete CPUC rules will be abolished
    — everything will be converted to a single platform height

    Et cetera.

Comments are closed.