West Coast Leaders Announce Climate Pact, Including Support for HSR

Oct 28th, 2013 | Posted by

Today the governors of California, Oregon, and Washington, joined by the premier of British Columbia, announced a new Pacific Coast Action Plan on Climate and Energy today in San Francisco. The plan lays out several steps the four states and provinces agree to take together to reduce carbon emissions and support clean energy. One of them is support for high speed rail:

Continue deployment of high speed rail across the region

Providing high speed passenger rail service is an important part of the solution to expand regional clean transportation, improve quality of life and advance economic growth. The governments of California, British Columbia, Oregon and Washington continue to support the Pacific Coast Collaborative’s Vision for high speed rail in the region, and will continue to seek opportunities to invest in rail infrastructure that moves people quickly, safely, and efficiently, and encourages innovation in rail technology manufactured in the region.

The vision for rail is more aspirational than detailed but it’s still significant that these four leaders still see it as a key element of their approach to reduce carbon emissions. New HSR funding isn’t forthcoming right now from either Ottawa or Washington, D.C. so it’s important that the West Coast still intends to move ahead with it.

  1. Alon Levy
    Oct 29th, 2013 at 00:53

    Good rule of thumb: if British Columbia’s reservation-fracking premier is for it, it’s toothless.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    He doesn’t give a rat’s hindquarters about California HSR unless he has plans to be in LA and wants to get some in Las Vegas on the sly. He cares about getting rich Seattleites to Vancouver so they can spend money and since the Washingtonians and Oregonians seem to be headed towards building something between Portland and Seattle getting a few Porlanders to Vancouver.
    Portland is 581 miles or 934 kilometers from Sacramento. Vancouver is 893 miles or 1,437 kilometers from Sacramento. Both of the people in BC interested in going to Sacramento will be flying. So will all the people in BC who want to get to San Francisco or Los Angeles.

    aw Reply:

    The Coast Starlight is a nice ride between Oakland and Eugene. Especially since you’ll be asleep part of the time.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    I hear it’s spectacular. It’s not HSR and unless the population of the country grows to 2 billion or cars and airplanes are banned it probably never will be.

    Ted Judah Reply:

    Eugene to Sacramento would make for a good night train service to complement HSR in the Northwest and California. It’s about an eight hour trip under current conditions.

    That notwithstanding, I would guess that it would cheaper for one HSR operator to simply run trains empty between Eugene and Sacramento if there’s already a Vancouver-Eugene segment and an SF to Sacramento segment.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    First, the BC premier is a woman.

    Second, BC is not contributing any funds toward improving the Cascades, and the premier opposes spending more money even on a very high-ridership SkyTrain extension because she thinks keeping taxes low is more important. On SkyscraperPage, her transport minister is being compared to Wendell Cox.

    Third, Vancouver doesn’t actually care all that much about transportation to Seattle as far as I can tell.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    they cater to that in Las Vegas too. They’ll do almost anything you want in Las Vegas.

    Miles Bader Reply:

    WTF Canada, you’re supposed to be better …

    [Cue Rob Ford’s new campaign platform of randomly running over pedestrians…. >< ]

  2. John Nachtigall
    Oct 29th, 2013 at 06:24

    This reminds me of the ridiculous policy statements that the SF council passes regarding foreign policy and international situations. It goes beyond toothless to reduce their credibility.

    joe Reply:

    Hoe about when SF Mayor Gavin Newsome decided to allow the gay to marry. Or legalizing “pot”. What toothless, incredible actions.

    Serious stuff would be voting to secede from CA – Modoc and Siskiyou Counties.

    or No Confidence votes.

    Menlo votes ‘no confidence’ in high-speed rail


    The solo dissenting vote came from Councilman John Boyle, who said the city was already taking action via lawsuits, and could find a more diplomatic way to criticize the rail authority.

    That’s serious.

    jimsf Reply:

    Joe its pointless to argue with ideologues. They are not interested in reality when it conflicts with their fantasies.

    jonathan Reply:

    Strange, that sounds *exactly* like Joe.

    Miles Bader Reply:

    It sounds many of the regular commenters here (including many with “good” reputations, it’s not just the nutters).

    I dunno why, but this blog seems to bring out the worst in people… even those who can clearly do much better, judging from their comments on other sites.

    joe Reply:

    Some laugh at SF’s foreign policy pronouncements – I think they mattered to a jailed Nelson Mandela.

    SF’s Newsome didn’t doom the Democratic party marrying committed, loving homosexual couples in 2004. SF lead the nation to a new, decent, normal within a decade.

    Medical marijuana isn’t causing Refer Madness.

    High Speed Rail isn’t a boondoggle.

    Meno Park isn’t being erased by anything but greed over Facebook and oversized, piss-poor downtown planning. Menlo Park needs to add more homes and transit to accommodate the corporate growth they approved. They owe the State a thank you for electrifying Caltrain.

    Watts residents are not going to ride HSR to the Peninsula and return home carrying large TVs.

    Modoc County’s disgruntled commissioners are not oppressed and can leave CA anytime they choose. WY would welcome them and they can continue receiving government subsidized services and infrastructure. Maybe they’ll ask the Feds to extend the Colorado HSR system from Ft. Collins to Cheyenne.

    synonymouse Reply:

    CAHSR is pure porkfest for PB and Tutor. But lucky for them earmarks are coming back in vogue in DC.

    The younger generation will have to pony up for the subsidies later on.

    Jerry come up with some money for Amalgamated yet?

  3. Bill
    Oct 29th, 2013 at 09:57

    Lawsuit filed by Portola Valley? That’s in the hills above Menlo Park and Palo Alto, hence the name “Valley”. Nowhere near any rail line! How do they feel about that nice freeway providing an exit to their “town” that nobody knows about except the rich people who live there? I sell wine to a store there, that’s how I even know about the place. I don’t get how or why these cities protest the project meanwhile they have clunky, loud old Caltrain running through them already.

    morris brown Reply:

    Portola Valley was never a party to the lawsuit.

  4. Cascadian
    Oct 29th, 2013 at 10:24

    It’s too bad this is only symbolic. Things seem better in California and possibly BC, but here in Washington state the anti-tax attitude even among many self-described liberals is endemic. Any effective action on climate change and high speed rail requires taxes, either to fund infrastructure or price greenhouse gas emissions (via either cap-and-trade or a carbon tax). There is not a working majority to do the right things.

    You see this in the Seattle mayor’s office, I’m sure. The public is about to oust Mike McGinn and replace him with someone who has no clue about rail transit on any scale.

    JB in PA Reply:

    More power to Seattle area rail. The line to the airport was an excellent start. The freeways are choked. Seattle needs to make the funds available. It is an investment in a workable future.



    There is also the old lakefront rail line from the locks to Lake Forest Park and beyond.

    The monorail has been rattling along for decades. The track is worn and shifted. The equipment is updated from the original. They can put the old card in a museum, repair the rails and adapt some modern equipment and raise the speed a little.

    JB in PA Reply:

    Tie the Seattle rail in to the ferry system. Because of the distance across the water, Seattle has a robust and necessary ferry system.

    Ted K. Reply:

    More properly, it’s depth (Puget Sound’s channel is a hundred fathoms or more) and distance. The Edmonds and Mukilteo stations have connections to the ferry system.

    It’s the main terminal in Seattle that’s the problem – a several block walk to the light rail stop near James + Third Ave. (Pioneer Square), then a short ride south to S. Jackson + Bus Ln. (Int’l. District – Chinatown), followed by a short walk to the King Street station. Or you can walk along Yesler Way to Third Ave. S., turn right, and walk for several blocks to the back side of the station. It’s about eight (8) blocks in all.


    aw Reply:

    The transfers between the ferry terminals in Edmonds and Mukilteo to N. Sounder trains are pretty reasonable. It may be that schedules do not line up as well as they could.

    Miles Bader Reply:

    They could clearly do much better for transfers, but I will say that as somebody who regularly commuted on the ferry for a while (as a pedestrian, anybody who drives is completely nuts) from BI, that it’s a very pleasant walk on the Seattle end. You don’t have to deal with traffic at all, there are little businesses set up to cater to commuters, and it’s simply a pretty little area of town. I never minded the walk at all.

    Ted Judah Reply:

    Taxing carbon is one of the silliest, most economically unfair policies around.

    The only “liberals” calling for a carbon tax or cap and trade get donations from Goldman Sachs and other firms that want to turn the credits into the next speculative bubble.

    Still, you have to wonder if Washington State wanted to, what it could do to link Vancouver, Seattle, and Portland.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    The only “liberals” calling for a carbon tax or cap and trade get donations from Goldman Sachs and other firms that want to turn the credits into the next speculative bubble.

    [Citation needed]

    Ted Judah Reply:

    Not that I generally condone this behavior, but here you go:


  5. Reedman
    Oct 29th, 2013 at 12:18

    Seattle is presently doing its version of the Big Dig — the Alaskan Way Viaduct replacement tunnel. Two miles long, two lanes in each direction.

    Paul Dyson Reply:

    There always seems to be money for roads, anti-tax electorate or no.

    Miles Bader Reply:

    “Well that’s difffferent….” ><

    [The "AWV replacement" tunnel does seem eerily similar to the Big Dig… in both cases, they probably would have been better off just tearing down the highway and not building a replacement.]

  6. Jerry
    Oct 29th, 2013 at 15:01

    HSR from Tokyo to London??

    On the 90th anniversary of the Turkish republic, the rail tunnel under the Bosphorus connecting Europe to Asia in Istanbul opened today. At the opening. Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said, “Japan and Turkey are the two wings of Asia. Let us dream together of a high-speed train departing from Tokyo, passing through Istanbul and arriving in London.”

    The bulk of the rail tunnel’s financing came from the Japan Bank for International Cooperation.

    Miles Bader Reply:

    Hey I’d take it! As a good first step, tunnel from Japan to Shanghai please (hmm, a Fukoka-Pusan tunnel, down the coast, and then from Korea across to China?)… :]

    Miles Bader Reply:

    Er, “Fukuoka” (@#$% no-edits blog…)

    Alon Levy Reply:

    Surely it’s easier to go through Pyongyang and Beijing, no? ;)

    Ted K. Reply:

    Once you get to Busan (formerly Pusan) you should head north towards Seoul. Before getting there veer west through Sowon-myeon and on down the peninsula to Pado-ri. This gives you access to an island chain for a running start to your crossing of the Yellow Sea. En route you should do as Harry Harrison suggests* – build way point islands at suitable intervals for recreation and fishing support. Your destination, Ningjinzhen (a sub-district between Sanggou Bay and Shidao Bay, part of Rongcheng, SE of Weihai, PRC), is about 320 klicks away.


    *”Tunnel Through the Deeps“, Harry Harrison (1972)

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