2013: The Year Austerity’s Costs Became Clear

Dec 30th, 2013 | Posted by

2012 was a banner year for California high speed rail, as the state legislature approved the release of bond funds. It looked like 2013 would finally be the year that high speed rail got under construction in California, with just a few lawsuits left to resolve.

Unfortunately, in 2013 those lawsuits became the biggest hurdles the California HSR project has had to face. 2013 has to be seen as a year of disappointment, then, in that HSR opponents finally found a way to throw up a significant, but by no means impassable, obstacle to getting construction started.

Judge Michael Kenny’s ruling in August that the HSR project’s financing plan violated Prop 1A was the result not of errors made in California, but of actions taken by the Tea Party in Washington, D.C. Republicans in the House of Representatives have an ideological opposition to government funding for passenger rail, and have a particular hatred of high speed rail. Since taking power in 2011 they have blocked all new funding for high speed rail, jeopardizing the expected future federal contributions to the California HSR project. The 2011 financing plan had counted on federal dollars that look to be unlikely to arrive until the Tea Party is tossed from power.

Judge Kenny’s ruling means that it’s time for California to begin making plans to go it alone in funding high speed rail. That may well be the true legacy of 2013 for the California HSR project – the final dashing of the expectation that much of the project can be built with federal funding. The Tea Party won’t be in control of the House forever and sooner than we think, Democrats may be back in charge and willing to authorize more federal money. But it’s become clear that we can’t wait for that to happen.

One of the bright spots in 2013 was the state’s successful cap-and-trade auctions, which have raised about $1.4 billion in revenue. Throughout 2013 there has been discussion in California about using some of those revenues for high speed rail, and with Judge Kenny’s ruling, it’s time to get serious about cap-and-trade as helping to backfill the planned federal contribution.

2013 wasn’t the easiest year for California HSR. But it wasn’t as bad as its critics had hoped. Support for the project remains strong, and its key institutional backers, from newspaper editorial pages to unions and legislators, remain committed to high speed rail. Democrats are in no danger at all of losing power in Sacramento, although their 2/3 supermajority is at risk thanks to inaction. 2013’s setbacks weren’t severe, and they can be overcome in 2014.

The news for other California HSR projects wasn’t great either. XpressWest learned in July that its federal loan application was suspended amid questions about whether it met federal Buy America rules. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid has vowed to save the project but so far it’s not clear how that will happen.

And although it’s not a high speed rail project, the X Train appears to be dead – the LA to Vegas party train failed to secure an agreement with Union Pacific and couldn’t raise $1 million that it needed to begin service.

There’s a common theme here: you can’t build new passenger rail in an era of austerity. Some transit advocates delude themselves into thinking they can make austerity work for them, that if they just present a rational business case for a few standout lines, it will become obvious that they should be funded and either government or the private sector will foot the bill.

That’s a naive approach to our current moment. Austerity isn’t a call for more efficiency, it’s an attack on the very idea of government spending money on things, regardless of whether those things are valuable, have a favorable cost-benefit analysis, or are otherwise worthwhile. Those who promote austerity don’t care for your charts, your analysis, your metrics. Nothing you say will convince them to pay for your project and in the end, they’re not really sure they want your project built under any circumstances.

The private sector remains highly leveraged, unable to raise significant amounts of money for new construction in an era of very tight underwriting rules, and is still generally suspicious of the strength of the economy. They’re probably right to be worried. In the past the government has stepped in to provide infrastructure spending and stimulus to make up for the market failure of the private sector. But in an era of austerity, that doesn’t happen, and nothing gets built.

The story of 2013 for California HSR, then, is the final recognition that austerity is the enemy of passenger rail and mass transit. California initially embraced austerity in its budgets in 2008 and 2009, but voters never shared that enthusiasm, and in 2010 they threw out the austerity apostles and handed power to Democrats who pledged a more sensible path. In 2012 they handed billions in new revenue to those Democrats and gave them a 2/3 supermajority in part out of a demand that California be renewed through public investment, not destroyed through austerity.

Several countries have rejected austerity policies. China is a notable example, and in 2013 it fully recovered from the effects of the 2011 Wenzhou crash. Just after the crash, China suspended construction on new HSR lines. That suspension was later lifted and in 2013 several new lines opened, with the most recent being a Shenzhen-Xiamen route that provides a key connection in the Hong Kong to Shanghai corridor.

Spain has unfortunately embraced austerity policies, much to its own suffering. But they have wisely continued ahead with their HSR projects, which will help them rapidly recover once they reject austerity policies. The Perpignan-Figueres tunnel opened earlier this month, linking Paris to Barcelona with a single seat ride.

Unfortunately, high speed rail in 2013 will be remembered in Spain not for the new link to France, but for the Santiago de Compostela disaster that killed 79 people. The train’s operator, Francisco José Garzón Amo, has been blamed and charged with reckless homicide. But there were concerns that the real problem was a lack of positive train control on the segment of track where the speeding train derailed. The investigation continues, as will the legal process to determine responsibility. The tragedy has, correctly, not slowed the construction of new HSR lines in Spain.

On Wednesday we’ll talk more about what 2014 holds for California HSR. But the path forward is clear: California needs to reject austerity in transportation spending, just as it has done with education.

  1. Paul Druce
    Dec 30th, 2013 at 08:34
    #1

    Cap and trade should not be used for high speed rail; not only is the amount which HSR could be eligible for ludicrously small, even if prepaid out to 2050, but there are many other projects with a far greater reduction in CO2 emissions for the same or lesser amounts of money.

    X-Train was a fraud and never going to run. XpressWest is a good argument for austerity, since your proffered alternative is to claim that pissing money away on a quite expensive marginal line is a good idea.

    Derek Reply:

    there are many other projects with a far greater reduction in CO2 emissions for the same or lesser amounts of money.

    Please list those projects in order of most to least taxpayer dollars per ton of CO2 removed, with supporting references.

    Paul Druce Reply:

    How about we lay off the passive aggressive replies?

    Here’s a quick one to humor you though: LED lighting. ~75% of California residential lightbulbs are incandescent, or about 30 per household or 374 million incandescent residential lightbulbs in California. If we assume that they average 60 watts and 2 hours per day, switching to LEDs would save about 14 terawatt-hours per year. At 2011 California carbon intensity (including imported), that would amount to 4.4 million metric tons of CO2e emissions avoided annually. This compares to the Authority’s estimate of 5-10 million metric tons of CO2e avoided between 2022 and 2040.

    If we provided these lightbulbs for free, at an average subsidy of $15, it would cost $5.6 billion with no recurring costs and tremendous savings to the California citizenry ($1.4B in electric costs alone, not including substantially reduced cost of bulb replacement due to increased lifespan).

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    They won’t be able to buy replacements in 2014 so that problem is going to take care of itself.

    Derek Reply:

    If we assume that they average 60 watts and 2 hours per day, switching to LEDs would save about 14 terawatt-hours per year.</p.

    No, it wouldn’t.

    Paul Druce Reply:

    Yes, it would. You will not see a 10x increase in the utilization of household lamps simply because they now use 1/10th the energy. Jevons paradox is not some inherent law of physics and does not always and everywhere apply.

    Derek Reply:

    Your claim is that switching to LEDs would save an amount of electricity equal to the difference between their electrical consumption and that of an equivalent number of incandescents. That means you’re saying that demand for illumination is perfectly inelastic.

    Paul Druce Reply:

    Demand is already currently sufficiently satisfied I would say rather.

    Derek Reply:

    So when demand is “sufficiently satisfied,” demand is perfectly inelastic?

    I think you should run your theories by an economist.

    jonathan Reply:

    I think you should run your hypotheses and understanding past an economist.
    And I’m far from the only one.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    The population is expected to grow. While it’s doing that incomes will very likely rise. People who have more money travel more. How do you propose accommodating the increased demand?

    Derek Reply:

    Demand wouldn’t increase if prices were set at the equilibrium rate determined by supply and demand.

    Joe Reply:

    Tell us the correct model.

    Derek Reply:

    The correct approach is to fix the market failure by internalizing the external cost of CO2 emissions into the price of energy, and then stop worrying about how much CO2 is being emitted.

    Joe Reply:

    That’s not a model.

    I asked you to suggest what the energy savings, below the potential estimate, would be given the cost per lumen will drop. You have an interesting concept but I suspect it is a small adjustment to a large savings.

    I have little interest in parsing non sequiturs with economic jargon or quibbling over absolutes.

    You have a better guesstimate as to the savings, go for it.

    John Nachtigall Reply:

    Derek, you are the perfect example of how a little knowledge can be a dangerous thing. You know why they call economics the “dismal science”? Because the theories all make sense until they hit the real world and then people don’t react in the very logical way that economics predicts.

    Your continued arguments to apply Econ 101 and 201 theories to the real world with no accomindation for the complex realities of human behavior and politics is not doing you any favors. It just makes you look nieve. People are not going to use 10x the lighting just because they can just like they are not going to tolerate dynamic tolling even though it is a very efficient way to control transit.

    My advice (which you can feel free to ignore) is to start incorporating humans into your economic equations

    Derek Reply:

    I asked you to suggest what the energy savings, below the potential estimate, would be given the cost per lumen will drop.

    The total energy savings would be greater than zero but less than the difference between the power requirements of a nation of incandescents and a nation of LEDs.

    Think about it. With less incentive to turn off unneeded lights, you will be more likely to “forget” to turn off lights, or may even consciously decide to keep them on all day.

    People are not going to use 10x the lighting just because they can…

    Who said they were? I didn’t.

    …just like they are not going to tolerate dynamic tolling…

    Yes they are, and here is proof.

    John Nachtigall Reply:

    That link proves nothing. The tolling you are proposing is dynamic tolling of all lanes so no free lanes. That is apple to oranges different than converting some lanes to tolls, especially on existing road (not new roads).

    And I’m glad we both agree that people will not use more lighting just because it is cheaper

    Derek Reply:

    And I’m glad we both agree that people will not use more lighting just because it is cheaper

    I never said people will not use more lighting when it is cheaper. That would imply that demand for lighting is perfectly inelastic, which doesn’t match the real world.

    Joe Reply:

    You’re disassembling.
    We disagree over making pedantic arguments. I think the delta is very small. Perhaps your economic knowledge can be put to use to quantify the market and demand.

    Paul’s potential calculation is quite routine and useful.

    You still offer no compelling argument that light – luminosity use would be a meaningful impact on savings. I think this economic jargon obscures and adds no value. A model illustrating the significance would be useful. Can you propose one?

    Joe Reply:

    “I never said people will not use more lighting when it is cheaper. That would imply that demand for lighting is perfectly inelastic, which doesn’t match the real world.”

    Shorter Derek: I troll.

    John Nachtigall Reply:

    So I am going to leave the lights on at night, when I don’t need them, and inhibit my sleep?

    Or turn them on before I leave for work, just because I can?

    Like I said Derek, your theories never match real life. While nothing is “perfectly inelastic” lighting in America is close enough for the difference not to matter.

    Joe Reply:

    Im switching to a Kenner easy bake oven.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    If you can find one. Kenner got absorbed into Hasbro years ago. And they don’t work well with LED lamps.

    Derek Reply:

    So I am going to leave the lights on at night, when I don’t need them, and inhibit my sleep?

    The coach lights won’t inhibit your sleep.

    Keith Saggers Reply:

    it’s time to get serious

    Keith Saggers Reply:

    http://www.cahsrblog.com/2013/12/is-cap-and-trade-california-hsrs-savior/

    Paul Druce Reply:

    As I pointed out in that post:

    Even then, if we prepaid the high end projected emissions reductions out to 2050, we’re only at about five hundred million dollars at current allowance prices, which is just a wee bit short (if you use the implicit price of carbon price of their renewable price premium, that rises to 3.5B, but then every project should be evaluated upon such lines and we are still damned short).

  2. CaliforniaDefender
    Dec 30th, 2013 at 09:00
    #2

    Fortunately, 2013 is the year that the tide of reason turned against the unrealistic dreams and, yes, false promises of HSR. If you want California to go it alone on this project, then make sure that the Authority and the entrenched consultants come clean on the true costs and impacts.

    Phase 1 will cost far more than $68.4 B, as stated in the 2012 Business Plan. Already costs in the so called “less expensive” Central Valley are growing due to (among other things) high infrastructure relocation costs (that would have been reduced substantially if an I-5 alignment has been selected) and land acquisition costs. Just wait until the costs of climbing the mountain passes and penetrating the urban centers are realistically factored in. The Authority has not even provided an estimate for Phase 2. The $45 B cost advertised in the Prop 1A ballot materials was an effective lure to get the voters to approve the bond measure. Perhaps that low estimate was a mistake. However, given the vested interests in consulting and construction jobs, it is likely more accurately perceived as purposefully misleading. The argument for austerity becomes more convincing when it is apparent that hard-earned tax money will be wasted.

    These are not issues that can be dismissed as coming from ultra-right Tea Party zealots. Even environmentalists and liberals recognize and appreciate that we have limited resources available to deal with major societal challenges. Done right, transit infrastructure (including HSR) can offer all that has been promissed. Done wrong, and it can squander scarce resources that could have been put to better use.

    VBobier Reply:

    Funding the rest of the IOS(Initial Operating Segment) will cost $25.3 Billion(Merced to San Fernando Valley).

    According to the LAO report to complete all of phase one, yes it might cost $68.4 Billion, but that is an estimate and until contracts are signed, is still just a loose estimate, though it might cost much less, since Contracts have not been signed for any part of the IOS outside of the 1st 29 miles.

    Of course phase 1 is not the IOS, the IOS = Merced to San Fernando Valley

    Not all of Phase 1 has to be funded at the same time, just a funding source for the IOS and all 4 EIR’s need to be completed according to Judge Kenny.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    Define “done right”. Out along I-5 means an hour bus ride from Fresno. Or 50 miles of track to get to Fresno to I-5. Outrageous amounts of people in Fresno decide they want to use HSR. To keep the math simple 16,000 a day spread out evenly over a 16 hour service day. Half of them arriving and half of them departing. Half of them coming or going from the north and half of them coming or going to the south. 500 passenger train means there’s service to Los Angeles 8 times a day. 4,000 people arriving and 4.000 people departing. Or once every two hours. The people who want to go to or from Fresno might not see a station 50 miles away as “done right”. If 50 miles away is good enough for Fresno why isn’t it good enough for San Francisco? Just terminate the HSR trains in San Jose which is about as far from San Francisco as Fresno is from I-5. Let ‘em take BART, it will only add just over an hour to their trip.

    CaliforniaDefender Reply:

    “Done right” to me means maximizing the utility for the state for the cost and sufficient transparency to ensure that important decisions (such as route selection and contract awards) are being made for the right reasons.

    There may well be high ridership demand in Fresno (16,000 a day seems highly optimistic, however). How many more people from the Bay Area or Southern California would have otherwise chosen HSR, but decide not to because the trip is too slow as a consequence of a route choice that takes HSR through Fresno and other Central Valley cities? Admittedly, the distance between Fresno and I-5 poses a challenge for HSR service. Spur lines or improved Amtrak service through the Central Valley could provide Fresno and other cities with sufficient HSR access. I-5 may not be the superior choice, but it’s an obvious alternative that should have been more carefully studied, not disposed of in the mid-1990s with scant support for what seems to be promarily political reasons.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    It’s a passenger railroad, it makes sense to go where there are passengers. How many people are going to decide to take a longer flight, drive or subject themselves to the bus because the trip on HSR is 2:44 instead of 2:35?

    synonymouse Reply:

    You mean 3:44.

    And why would one create the need for a base tunnel on a bodacious detour?

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    who said anything about a base tunnel? Just how much longer is it going to take on one route versus the other?

    synonymouse Reply:

    Circling the wagons around the incredibly irresponsible, corrupt Palmdale-Tehachapi fix, Jerry & Co. have jettisoned value engineering.

    Seems now pretty risky to out and out lie to the Judge about complying with 2:40. They are stuck; every tunnel to cope with the bloated route mileage keeps the $billion dollar meter running.

    Jerry and Richards should demission.

    joe Reply:

    “Done right” to me means maximizing the utility for the state for the cost and sufficient transparency to ensure that important decisions (such as route selection and contract awards) are being made for the right reasons.

    “Done right” = coast to coast. Connect major city to city at the lowest possible cost and maximum benefit for all those CaliforniaDefender’s and the bill is paid by everyone.

  3. Alon Levy
    Dec 30th, 2013 at 10:51
    #3

    Austerity isn’t a call for more efficiency, it’s an attack on the very idea of government spending money on things, regardless of whether those things are valuable, have a favorable cost-benefit analysis, or are otherwise worthwhile. Those who promote austerity don’t care for your charts, your analysis, your metrics.

    That would be news to a large majority of German voters, for one. Right-wing populism and austerity aren’t the same thing.

    VBobier Reply:

    History has proven that alright.

  4. Paul Dyson
    Dec 30th, 2013 at 15:40
    #4

    “The private sector remains highly leveraged, unable to raise significant amounts of money for new construction in an era of very tight underwriting rules, and is still generally suspicious of the strength of the economy.” Berkshire Hathaway alone has $42 Billion cash on its balance sheet. Leverage or lack thereof is not the problem. The problem is that the private sector sees this as a poor investment (trying to phrase this politely), it’s as simple as that. The public sector may view it differently but our people’s tribunes have a huge laundry list of pet projects that they want to have funded. HSR is well down the list, if it makes the cut at all. Why? HSR has lost the propaganda war. The people voted for it, expecting action, more or less immediate construction. Wasn’t it supposed to be “shovel ready”? It’s now mired in court cases and increased cost estimates. Who wants to stick their necks out for that? Only J. Brown might force continued expenditure but even he is likely to see the writing on the wall. Not much legacy potential in a right of way with no track or trains.

    StevieB Reply:

    Corporate America is interested in maximizing profit and California is interested in building High Speed Rail to improve the economic condition of the regions around the railway stations. The two interests are at odds but once the Initial Operating Segment is built operators will bid on the concession because they will see a potential for near term profit. Corporate greed will make money available not to help the most depressed area of the state in the central valley but in order to make more money.

    Ted Judah Reply:

    The CAHSR plan reinforces the economic inequality that is afflicting the State. But paradoxically this inequality provides a handy tax base to offset all of its non geographic effects.

    Paul Dyson Reply:

    There will be no profit from the IOS except for those that build it. I doubt if private enterprise would take on this system even if it were given to them. IF HSR is ever built the likelihood is that private operators would be invited to make “negative” bids, i.e. the winner would be the one that takes it on for the lowest subsidy, at least as far as the IOS is concerned.

    synonymouse Reply:

    The IOS cannot comply with Prop 1a and indeed neither can the whole scheme as currently conceived by PB.

    My guess would be the Judge will require the CHSRA to place another measure on the ballot to replace Prop 1a and that accords Brown carte blanche. Cannot imagine it could pass even with millions spent on advertising.

    Andrew Reply:

    Would this not be a profitable IOS: A dirt cheap, flat “Delta Y” route connecting the whole Sac-Fresno corridor with the heart of the Bay Area transit system at Oakland Harbor (“Midbay”?), 4.5 minutes from the SF Financial District by any one of 4 different transbay BART lines:
    https://mapsengine.google.com/map/edit?mid=zXYnDtoJOux0.kF4BAGQLue_k

    This would serve 5 million people in the Central Valley PLUS another 600K or so in the dense suburban corridor from Brentwood to Richmond. Travel times to Downtown SF from Antioch/Pittsburgh would be much shorter than on BART.

    The route is almost completely flat, and would only require about 1 mile of tunneling west of Hilltop Mall in Richmond, about 4 miles of elevated section around Hercules, and 3 miles of tunneling west of Martinez. To that add the cost of an above-ground BART stop east of 7th & Maritime in Oakland Harbor, here:
    https://maps.google.com/maps?ll=37.808466,-122.309171&spn=0.00365,0.004823&t=h&z=18

    Revenues would come not only from intercity travel (Sac and Fresno to SF) but also SF commutes from Modesto, Manteca, and Stockton, as well as Antioch/Pittsburg, Martinez, and Richmond, whose commute times would be sharply reduced. The key to profitability would be high commuter volume and low construction & operating costs. Part of the economic underpinning is the massive housing price differential between SF and everywhere else on the corridor, which would make the cost of high-speed commuting well worth it, especially if discounted monthly passes are made available.

    System costs could be kept down by running almost all trains to-from the Bay Area, with very limited North-South service (Sac-Fresno). North-South travelers could transfer at Stockton in any case, especially if the schedules are done right. That means trains out of SF would refill many of the seats of those who disembark at Stockton or before, so that trains could run fuller along the whole route.

    Because distances are relatively short, you could use cheaper, more energy-efficient 150mph trainsets.

    The line is readily expandable with spurs/extensions along existing ROW to Rosevile, central Brentwood, Fairfield/Vacaville, Hanford/Visalia, etc.

    If, as part of the deal, cities with stops threw in some real estate around (and indeed on top of) the stations, zoned for high-rise development, it would make a very attractive investment with a self-reinforcing growth pattern as the concentration of population in old downtown areas makes those areas more desirable places to live.

    Paul Dyson Reply:

    We are the map makers, we are the dreamers of dreams.

    Andrew Reply:

    Sir I am disappointed that a man of your age has not outgrown sarcasm long ago. Does mocking people make you feel better about yourself?

    Paul Dyson Reply:

    I have seen a zillion maps on this blog with different folks’ ideas of what could or should be built. Some of them, including yours Andrew, have a lot of common sense behind the concept. A few years ago RailPAC published “Electrolink North” which we felt should be the first stage of rail modernization in California. We make maps and dream dreams too. But common sense does not guide policy in California, hence the my comment. We are starting construction somewhere outside Fresno with no possibility of useful transportation output for a decade if ever.
    You shouldn’t take this stuff personally, it’s just a blog.

    joe Reply:

    Was it in 1982 or 1980? I forget when year in the early 80’s that you started advocating for HSR in CA

    Paul Dyson Reply:

    I’m too old to remember Joe. But mostly I advocate useful transportation. All we are creating out there in the fields is a puzzle for future industrial archaeologists.

  5. trentbridge
    Dec 30th, 2013 at 15:46
    #5

    “Austerity” has nothing to do with infrastructure spending on rail. “Austerity is curbing Government spending on existing entitlements and expenditures deemed necessary for the state to function.

    The Conservatives in Britain are still pursuing a course of “austerity” as typified by the Chancellor of the Exchequer’s autumn statement:

    “Mr Speaker,
    Britain’s economic plan is working. But the job is not done.
    We need to secure the economy for the long term.
    And the biggest risk to that comes from those who would abandon the plan.
    We seek a responsible recovery.
    One where we don’t squander the gains we’ve made, but go on taking the difficult decisions.
    One where we don’t repeat the mistakes of the past, but this time spot the debt bubbles before they threaten financial stability. A responsible recovery, where we don’t pretend we can make this nation better off by writing cheques to ourselves, and instead make the hard choices.”

    Blah, blah, blah

    At the same time, literally almost beneath his feet in Central London, the largest public works construction project in Western Europe is taking place..i.e. Crossrail

    “Crossrail is the biggest construction project in Europe and is one of the largest single infrastructure investments undertaken in the UK.

    We are managing and delivering a multiple worksite programme with construction works running concurrently across the whole route.

    Over 10,000 people are working directly on Crossrail at over 40 construction sites.

    Even if the Federal Government was running a budget surplus, the Republicans would oppose HSR on principle. Even if seven million people sign up for Obamacare, the Republicans would oppose it on principle.

    Mantra:
    Public transportation is socialism as is Obamacare. It is me paying taxes for things that you might use more than me. I don’t want my tax dollars being spent on anything that makes your life better, if it’s of no direct benefit to me.

  6. Ted Judah
    Dec 30th, 2013 at 17:31
    #6

    It sounds like another ballot measure is in the works… I will guess it’s an oil severance tax that pays for HSR and mass transit? It’s a far cry from how Earl Warren might have done things. Of course a 20 dollar surcharge on air travel within the state also might work.

  7. John Nachtigall
    Dec 30th, 2013 at 20:26
    #7

    First, I want to say that I believe that government has a role in building projects that can’t easily show a “profit” but provide a great public good. Roads are an excellent example of this. The government subsidizes their construction and maintenance and does not demand them to show a profit with direct payment. The public good is enough. The same can be said for defense, other forms of transit, education, police, fire, welfare, social security, and a variety of other core government responsibilities. Simply put, government has a role and I am happy to pay taxes to support such programs, even when I don’t use them directly. They generally provide real value to society even when I don’t agree on how they are structured or run.

    That said, this holy war against rational spending (code named austerity) makes no sense whatsoever. The modern global economy does not run like the 1930s New Deal economy that anti-austerity people love to recall. Time after time it has been shown that prolific government spending does not end in a robust economy. Greece and Japan are easy examples. If you prefer a Western Hemisphere example you can use Argentina. Huge government spending as proscribed by pundits such as Krugman has not resulted in anything but continued disaster. Owning or not owning the relevant currency resulted in the same failed policy

    The USA is miles away from that kind of economic disaster. We are in no danger of that kind of problem. Which is why now is the right time to make sure that we don’t get any closer. Simply put we need to use the limited resources where they will serve the greatest public good and realize there is not an infinite pot of money to spend.

    The continued assertion by this blog that somehow the rules “changed” after prop1a passed is without validity. There was never an agreement (real or implied) that the federal government would provide 30-70% of the funding (depending on your cost estimates) for HSR. You can’t take away money that was never given or even promised. HSR supporters were the ones who made the mistakes. Writing I to the law that assumption, underestimating the actual cost, making sure all the money had to be found before building a segment, writing in concrete the time requirements. Those are all self inflicted wounds. No one in the Tea Party forced them to do any of those things. Add to that an total incompetence in how the project has been run from the start and you have the current mess.

    So stop blaming the Tea Party, the GOP, and austerity for HSR supporters mistakes.

    Ted Judah Reply:

    Time after time it has been shown that prolific government spending does not end in a robust economy. Greece and Japan are easy examples.

    The goal of the welfare state is not economic growth, it is political stability. America reluctantly embraced redistribution of wealth as a last ditch effort to avoid socialism. Even when the Long Depression rumbled through Europe, America was content to practice austerity (or as it was called back then, contraction) throughout the second half of the 19th century. But what the welfare state wasn’t designed to fix was inter-generational inequality, and that is why European nations and Japan strain under a high amount of debt to GDP.

    The caveat here is that in the 1870s and 1880s, America was a small, rural nation where political unrest and riots were not a giant threat. 2014 is a different story, and as the GOP will soon find out, they can either repair the welfare state from above, or allow socialism to replace it from below….

    John Nachtigall Reply:

    So just out of curiosity, why didn’t we descend into socialism between 1870 and now?

    Could it be because free market capitalism has shown itself to be superior to the socialism/communism economic system?

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    we don’t have free market capitalism, what’s your point?

    StevieB Reply:

    Is your position that the United States is a mixed economy?

    John Nachtigall Reply:

    Not free market capitalism. But I thought that was what was driving this terrible inequity that everyone is up in arms about.

    What is the US economic system?

    Ted Judah Reply:

    Inequality in the US is rising mainly because of outdated patent laws and an inability to enforce anti trust regulations. Banks involved in the bailout took the money and ran and left homeowners in the lurch. If the US DoJ had blocked the consolidation of banks with seats on the Fed, you would have seen the defunct institutions go into receivership and be absorbed in pieces by other banks. At the state level this happens all the time. No one is too big to fail and crises are never that big.

    Ted Judah Reply:

    So just out of curiosity, why didn’t we descend into socialism between 1870 and now?

    You answered your own question, John. In the 1930s we got serious about income inequality and built a very, very, very large welfare state backed by progressive taxation and lots of defense spending. But before that, during those freewheeling tinotype years, we did create socialist institutions like the University of California and the National Parks. But every time a nationwide socialist candidate got within a whisker of the White House, the establishment would inject racial and cultural overtones to undermine him.

    And to your point, the Anglo-American legal structure is more concerned with property rights than individual rights. For that reason, it’s almost impossible to have socialism succeed here. But at the rate we are going, it could happen, even if it is restricted to a few states like Vermont and California. Republicans should be careful what they wish for, they just might get it.

    Eric Reply:

    We have much more “welfare state” now than in the 1930s. Back then, 1960s programs like Medicare did not exist, and Social Security was designed so that few would be able to access it before dying.

    Ted Judah Reply:

    Medicaid is actually less progressive than the system it replaced.

    John Nachtigall Reply:

    How disappointing for you that property rights are built right up front and center into the Constitution.

    Question: I have never really tallied with an avowed communist before. How do you explain the complete collapse of every pure communist/socialist system?

    Jon Reply:

    A pure communist/socialist system has never been implemented, at least not for any length of time. (You could argue that the Paris Commune, for example, was an example of a short-lived pure communist/socialist system.)

    Systems usually referred to as “socialist” by people in the United States are generally either social democracies (e.g. Denmark, Sweden), where a democratic capitalist government has implemented stronger protections for their citizens from the worst aspects of capitalism; or state capitalist countries (e.g. China, USSR) where the means of production is centralized in the hands of the state, and the state continues to operate in manner similar to other capitalist countries, and indeed competes with other capitalist countries in the world market.

    A “pure” communist/socialist system would put the means of production into the hands of it’s citizens, who would then control them democratically. It’s debatable whether such a system could ever be created, and it’s unlikely such a system could exist in the same world as capitalism without being destroyed by capitalism. Let’s just be clear on what we’re talking about when we start throwing these terms around.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    Modern-day China has about the same amount of income inequality as the US, or even a bit more, and a vast private market. It is not recognizably socialist except in that it has “people’s republic” in its name. The USSR… wasn’t like that at all. Inequality was lower than that of any first-world country today, both in the USSR and in its European client states. State officials determined production levels, and this was something Marx and Engels specifically proposed as an intermediate stage between capitalism and utopian communism.

    John Nachtigall Reply:

    I am sure inequity was lower…everyone was poor. How is that better? And there in lies the issue with communism, why should exceptional people with better skills and abilities not be able to excel.

    Or in a different way of putting it, why should I use my exceptional skills and abilities if I am only going to get the same as everyone else. It’s a fundamentally incorrect system because it runs counter to human nature.

    Every communist system has collapsed and the closer to true communism the faster it collapses

    Ted Judah Reply:

    Laiseez faire capitalism has the same problem. The Atlas Shrugged crowd sound just as ridiculous as the Young Marxists. Republicans really don’t grasp that they have to shrink the welfare state through economic growth. If you abolish the welfare state from above, socialism will abolish it from below.

    John Nachtigall Reply:

    It was the Clinton administration along with a GOP congress that passed “workfare” and it worked great while reducing the welfare system costs. It can be done without hurting people

    Ted Judah Reply:

    Welfare reform is a great example of how you are wrong: flooding the labor market with uneducated single moms killed wage growth and required a whole host of new programs like ObamaCare to protect the companies who hire them. Once states have to start taking Amazon and Walmart to recoup the cost of the Mediciad expansion, expect the GOP to pull a huge U Turn and offering something else that will cost their donors less money.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    It’s much easier to find welfare recipients jobs when there’s full employment.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    It’s simply not true that everyone in the USSR was poor. The USSR was middle-income in its later years. On the eve of its collapse, it was probably about as rich on average as China is today.

    And you’re also getting the causes of the collapse wrong. They weren’t about too much equality. They were about party apparatchiks who were incompetent and could afford to be incompetent because they had no political or economic competition. Stalin insisted that the party maintain both political and economic control and subsequent general secretaries kept this policy. In China, Deng maintained political control but slowly relinquished economic control, allowing provinces to experiment unless they were too rich to allow the risk of failure (such as Shanghai), starting from Guangdong, which was so poor it wouldn’t matter if it failed.

    John Nachtigall Reply:

    The USSR failed because the economy collapsed and the people were tired of being repressed with no freedom. The economy collapsed because communism is not a viable economic model because it runs counter to basic human nature. It also collapsed because they could not keep up with US military spending due to the poor economy.

    Just to prove my point

    http://akarlin.com/2012/06/the-soviet-economy-charting-failure/

    Per capita income was a fraction of any other developed country. They were not middle class in any sense of the term

    Alon Levy Reply:

    Middle-income, not middle-class. What Americans perceive as middle-class income today is way richer than what middle-income means in the global sense. As of 2013, China is the lower end of what’s considered middle-income and Russia is roughly the upper end. 40% of US GDP per capita is middle-income; the global average today is about 25%, and to my understanding was somewhat lower in the 1980s.

    And “being repressed with no freedom” is still not a good explanation. South Koreans were repressed with no freedom until the 1980s. South Korea was also a low-inequality country by first world standards until very recently (or by Cuban ones – Cuba is about as unequal as the US was in the late 1960s), although not by Soviet ones. South Koreans were tired of being repressed too, as were North Koreans, but the lack of economic control in South Korea created enough industrial wealth that workers could meaningfully agitate for higher wages.

    John Nachtigall Reply:

    Lack of freedom leads to 1 of 2 things. A peaceful change of government or a non-peaceful change of government. It may take decades, but it eventually happens. There are no “stable” governments that repress the population. They all eventually fall. South Korea change peacefully, Egypt not so much. Even our allies in the Middle East (quatrain, Dubai, etc) will fall because people want to be free. With modern communications and information it happens faster and faster now because people understand you don’t have to live that way. Even North Korea eventually will fall. China will be an interesting case, will it be peaceful or not, hard to say.

    And stop redefining the terms. If 40% of US GDP per capita is “middle income” then by that definition almost everyone in the US is middle income or higher because the percentage of the population that is lower than 40% is minuscule. So either you are saying the definition of middle income is really low of the USSR average was not middle income. Pick a side.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    South Korea didn’t fall peacefully. The dictator was assassinated in 1979, leading to a military government. There were massive protests throughout the 1980s, and early on the government shot at protesters. Taiwan’s history is similar.

    A large number of Americans are in the global top 20%; the US average is four times the global average. It’s not surprising that middle-income, as in middle-income country (which you can Google and see I’m not making anything up), will be well below that.

    By the way, mean household income in the US is about $77,000, and 40% of that is $31,000, which is 32nd percentile in the US; consult tables 1 and 3 here. It’s a lot less minuscule than you think. The US had a bit less inequality in the late 1980s, and even in the USSR the median was less than the mean, but that would still probably put the Soviet median around the 25th American percentile. This is exactly what you’d expect in an upper middle-income situation: clearly poorer than high-income countries like the US and Western Europe, but a significant overlap. Compare this to actual low-income countries: in India, today, the top 5% are on average poorer than the bottom 5% in the US; only a small handful of very rich people have incomes comparable to those of first-world countries.

    John Nachtigall Reply:

    Peaceful is a sliding scale. It was more peaceful than Egypt , but your point is taken and mine is proven. No repressive government can last.

    I can’t belive, however, you are still arguing that the USSR was middle income. But that is fine with me. So somewhere between 2/3 and 3/4 of the US population is middle income or higher, I think that is great. The best of any country in the world. Why is everyone harping about income inequality then if we are doing the best of any country in the world

    synonymouse Reply:

    When is Kim Jong Caligulun going to decree hsr in Pyongyang?

    Jerry can visit and ride a train.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    by definition between two thirds and three quarters of a country’s population is middle income. It may be a very poor middle income but the middle, by definition, is the middle.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    Most of the US is high-income by any global standard, just like most of any high-income country. However, you’re wrong that the US is the best in the world on such measure. In lower-inequality high-income countries, the bottom 20% do better than the bottom 20% of the US. See PDF-pp. 20-24 of a paper by Branko Milanovic, which gives Germany and the Nordic countries as examples of lower-inequality high-income countries.

    John Nachtigall Reply:

    The “best” comment was about the percentage of the US population that is above your definition of middle income. The US is somewhere between 6-8 on per capita income and the others are small countries of little consquence. That makes the US the “best” in terms of people above middle income.

    As for inequity, No one said we had to be number 1. So what if others are better. But your link does not say that at all. Figure 7 clearly states that the bottom 5% of Americans at at the 60th percentile globally. And his talk of Germany and Nordic countries was comparing to Italy not the US. Maybe you thought I would not read it.

    Jon Reply:

    The differences between China and the USSR became apparent from the mid-seventies, as China moved towards market based economy, and the USSR retained a planned economy. Before then the two states were fairly similar in structure.

    wdobner Reply:

    There was never an agreement (real or implied) that the federal government would provide 30-70% of the funding (depending on your cost estimates) for HSR. You can’t take away money that was never given or even promised.

    When bonds are floated at the state or municipal level for highway, utility, or other infrastructure spending the governmental body in question almost never has the matching funds from the bonds in hand. Most of the time the bonds are a prerequisite for those matching funds. But it is understood by those planning the project finances and those buying the bonds that the federal match will be forthcoming. There is nothing out of the ordinary for the CHSRA and others to expect that they would be treated the same. How were they to know in 2007 when Prop 1a was drafted that the entire federal program would become a political football at the whim of a particularly virulent form of derangement?

    Why is the CHSRA any different from those other infrastructure spending programs? Heck, unlike sewers, roads, and schools, the CHSRA at least will finance its own operation.

    John Nachtigall Reply:

    It’s different for a couple of reasons.

    1. The law said you had to have the money up front. You are correct that a lot of infrastructure projects start without the money in hand. But the SUPPORTERS who wrote the law took that option away from HSR.

    2. They only raised 9 billion for a project that in the end will cost between 70-100 billion. Since it is contained 100% in CA why did they think the Feds would contribute 70-90% of total costs. Especially up front when there will be no private money until it is built and running (assuming it can turn a profit which has not been done by a passenger railroad in the US in more than 100 years).

    In the end, they are being treated the same. They have a 50% fed match in hand which is exactly what they asked for. The issue is they asked for too little AND they structured the project such that they need more fed match than could ever be reasonably expected even with no GOP or Tea Party opposition.

    3. You can’t possibly think that the first IOS is going to run without subsidy (even though it is required by law). I don’t think the whole line will run without subsidy but at least that is debatable, the first IOS is just a pipe dream.

    Simply put, the wounds are all self inflicted and the fact that the Feds will not bail them out of their extreme mismanagement and incompetence is not the fault of the Feds.

    Keith Saggers Reply:

    “The law said you had to have the money up front”. references please.

    John Nachtigall Reply:

    From the law

    (d) Prior to committing any proceeds of bonds described in paragraph (1) of subdivision (b) of Section 2704.04 for expenditure for construction and real property and equipment acquisition on each corridor, or usable segment thereof, other than for costs described in subdivision (g), the authority shall have approved and concurrently submitted to the Director of Finance and the Chairperson of the Joint Legislative Budget Committee the following: (1) a detailed funding plan for that corridor or usable segment thereof that (A) identifies the corridor or usable segment thereof, and the estimated full cost of constructing the corridor or usable segment thereof, (B) identifies the sources of all funds to be used and anticipates time of receipt thereof based on offered commitments by private parties, and authorizations, allocations, or other assurances received from governmental agencies,

    And the judge ruled that also. You don’t read this blog much I take it, go back a few weeks and it was the subject of several posts

  8. Keith Saggers
    Dec 31st, 2013 at 15:20
    #8

    Thank you for the reference, the law clearly states you must have money for usable segments, not the the whole thing.

    John Nachtigall Reply:

    IOS = initial operating segment (a term made up by the authority). In the law it is called a useable segment. There is a whole list of things that useable segments just have.

    Bottom line, they need about 30 billion to build the first segment.

    If you google prop1a HSR the first few links have links to the text of the law and you can read it yourself. It is not very long…maybe about 2-4 pages

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    For the 9 gazillionth time a useable segement has two stations.

    John Nachtigall Reply:

    For the infinity + 1 time it is more than that

    (d) High-speed train” means a passenger train capable of sustained revenue operating speeds of at least 200 miles per hour where conditions permit those speeds.
    (e) “High-speed train system” means a system with high-speed trains and includes, but is not limited to, the following components: right-of-way, track, power system, rolling stock, stations, and associated facilities.
    (f) “Corridor” means a portion of the high-speed train system as described in Section 2704.04.
    (g) “Usable segment” means a portion of a corridor that includes at least two stations.

    A segment is a portion of a corridor which is a portion of a system which includes at minimum power systems, rolling stock, etc.

    Also per the first quote a segment must be self supporting (no subsidy) which can’t be done with 2 stations. The judge ruled, you lost, get past the other 4 stages of grief and on to acceptance

    John Nachtigall Reply:

    Just to be clear

    H) The corridor or usable segment thereof would be suitable and ready for high-speed train operation.
    (I) One or more passenger service providers can begin using the tracks or stations for passenger train service.
    (J) The planned passenger service by the authority in the corridor or usable segment thereof will not require a local, state, or federal operating subsidy.
    (K) The authority has completed all necessary project level environmental clearances necessary to proceed to construction.

    Ted Judah Reply:

    Again, you are going to be disappointed when the courts clarify the issue isn’t the IOS, but the bookend funding. The Authority could certify its funding plan segment by segment, but it’s making sure if funding runs out they can meet the requirement for any of the allowed corridors.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    Once the bond money runs out they can spend money on anything from any source. What’s the court gonna do, tell them they can’t sell bonds they’ve already sold?

    John Nachtigall Reply:

    They can’t unspent the money, but the court could put an injunction not yo run the train.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    It’s going to be very sad if courts are going to ban running trains on completed tracks because of financing rules in 1A, while they aren’t banning running cars through the Big Dig over the state’s repeated violations of past environmental mitigation injunctions.

    John Nachtigall Reply:

    So if they are breaking the law, what is your proposed remedy? Or does passing a law mean nothing? That seems a dangerous president to set.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    I don’t know, what’s your proposed remedy for Massachusetts’ refusal to fund court-mandated Big Dig mitigations?

    (You know that if anyone offers a deal, no HSR until there’s full funding for Phase 1 in exchange for closing the Big Dig until Massachusetts funds all required mitigations out of general funds, then I’ll take it. I’m not Robert.)

    John Nachtigall Reply:

    I am equal opportunity. I am not familiar with the case but the court should gradually increase the penalties until they comply.

    I think the CA court case of prisoner health care is a crock, but I think the state is wrong to ignore the order. You have to respect the courts have the last say, the system depends on there everntualoy being a final answer

    joe Reply:

    Plaintiffs asked Judge Kenny to halt the project and invalidate contracts. He did neither. Work design continues and they started drilling and property acquisition.

    He blocked the use of Prop1a funds until the state complied. He did not block work with federal funds.

    John Nachtigall Reply:

    Here is what he did, from sac bee

    Sacramento Superior Court Judge Michael Kenny denied a request by the California High-Speed Rail Authority to validate the sale of more than $8 billion in bonds from Proposition 1A, a high-speed rail measure approved by the state’s voters in 2008.

    In a related case, the judge sided with Kings County farmer John Tos, Hanford homeowner Aaron Fukuda and the Kings County Board of Supervisors, who are suing the rail agency over its compliance with Prop. 1A. Kenny agreed to issue a writ of mandate ordering the rail agency to re-do its 2011 funding plan before spending any state bond money on construction of the proposed high-speed rail system.

    Most importantly, here is what he said about the funds

    the identification of funds must be based on a reasonable present expectation of receipt on a projected date, and not merely a hope or possibility that such funds may become available.

    So they can use the fed funds, but they have to intensify all funds for the first IOS. Which, as I showed above, has to include power among other things and most importantly, operate without a subsidy.

    Good luck writing that funding plan

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    Okay what happens when the bonds are paid off in 2065? The holy writ of the Proposition says there can’t be more than 24 stations and for some reason in 2090 they want to build a station in Delano. They can’t because the holy writ says they can’t?

    John Nachtigall Reply:

    Sure can if you modify or pass a new law

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    why do they need to do anything. What recourse does anyone have if they don’t follow the holy writ? Does the holy writ mean they can’t build a station in Sacramento?

    John Nachtigall Reply:

    Here in the US we do this thing called following the law. We don’t call it a holy writ, we call it a law. And the people who run the government take an oath to follow the law and execute the law. When they don’t, well we have laws for that.

    The recourse is the courts. And the consequences are decided by judges. Didn’t you take social studies in school?

    Ted Judah Reply:

    Let’s try this again.

    Prop 1A allowed either a disbursement of bond funds for anywhere in the SF to LA/Anaheim corridor. But it allowed other disbursements in specific corridors in the event that outside parties offered money for those segments. Under this secondary application, the SF to LA corridor is split into two: Fresno and all points south and Fresno and all points north.

    The authority is going to propose a funding plan for this alternate corridor in the event that they build half or three quarters of it and then need the last bit of funding to finish a meaningful connection (say the tunnel through the Tehachapis). They want to protect future disbursements and never have to worry about another judge holding up Prop 1A funds.

    An injunction against running the train or similar type thing is fantasy. Keep dreaming.

    John Nachtigall Reply:

    And the money is going to come from where?

    And the segment is going to run without subsidy how?

    And they are going to comply with prop1a on build requirements (power, ready for train, etc.) when?

    Look, I get it. Prop1a can’t be met. Given the current financial situation and the way the law was written, even if you did have the money the requirement to run trains with no subsidy and fully build out to be HSR train ready are just not feasible. I get it.

    But the proper response is to not build if you can’t meet the law. The proper response is to change the law or comply, not to ignore the law and keep trying to ram through some bastardized version of the original vision.

    They are not going to be able to propose a funding plan that meets prop1a because they don’t have the funds identified, there is not enough political will even in CA to acquire the funds, and even if they did get the funds, the IOS will not operate without subsidy and the SF to SJ route (and possibly the total route) will not comply with the time requirements of the law.

    Get a compliant plan with real funds and a real route or stop this madness

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    yes we all understand that the Legislature meant for it all erupt instantaneously from the bosom of the Earth as trainloads of revenue generating passengers glided down from the sky.

    John Nachtigall Reply:

    For the infinity +2 time, it does not have to be constructed instantaneously, just have the money in hand

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    So they have to have the money in hand for the electrification they are going to install 15 years from now? Or does that mean they have to install electrification now and let it age for 15 years unused?

    Ted Judah Reply:

    You are going to be so confused when the judge issues his ruling.

    John Nachtigall Reply:

    The judge did issue his ruling already.

    And per the law the segment needs to be capable to HSR rail operations, so if you are literal they need to install it now, but I think the judge would be satisfied with just having the money for the current court case.

    Then the argument would shift to what is a usable segment and does “usable” mean HSR or just any rail operations

    joe Reply:

    Not Judge will interpret a law to confound the project. He did not stop construction or invalidate the contracts.

    The harder it seems to get HSR done, the more one has to ask if they’re kidding themselves. The Judge is not an opponent of HSR nor is the judicial branch going to design and manage the project from the bench.

    The idea they need to have money in hand or in some account is wrong. No Government contract has all the money in hand. That’s imprecise language. CA needs to have the funding sources identified.

    John Nachtigall Reply:

    Agreed Joe…he stopped them from selling the bonds and he clarified they had had have real sources for the funds, not just pipe dreams. He also stated they have to have all the EIR done before they can spend the bond money. They don’t have those sources, in a year when fed money runs out what will they do? What will they match the Feds funds with? They don’t have the 30 billon and it only gets harder from here.

    He has not even started the trial on time limits and subsidies

    synonymouse Reply:

    http://abcnews.go.com/US/wireStory/calif-bullet-train-limbo-legal-setbacks-21398201

    “There is still more legal wrangling, including the second phase of the lawsuit in which plaintiffs have asked the judge to block the state from all high-speed rail spending.

    They will argue that the state can no longer fulfill several of the promises made to voters at the time of the bond vote, including sending passengers between San Francisco and Los Angeles in 2 hours and 40 minutes and operating the trains without public subsidies.”

    joe Reply:

    Agreed Joe…he stopped them from selling the bonds and he clarified they had had have real sources for the funds, not just pipe dreams.

    Look, this first obstacle is a technicality. It is overcome by the Legislature reconvening the sub-committee, stating the rational for issuing the bonds for the record and proceeding.

    The “real sources for the funds” is imprecise. They need to identify funding sources for the usable segment. There are many possible solutions. One I offer here is to use a wordprocessor define the usable segment as Fresno to Hanford. They have enough funding for that segment with ARRA funds. There are far superior alternatives available to the state.

    The Judge is not anti-HSR, he is not an ally to opponents. His rulings previously have not stopped the project – he is not trying to stop the project. This isn’t Scalia. He’s giving the Authority every opportunity to proceed quickly with compliance.

    John Nachtigall Reply:

    The judge is no HSR shill either. He expects them to follow the intent of prop1a. Specifically he said

    the identification of funds must be based on a reasonable present expectation of receipt on a projected date, and not merely a hope or possibility that such funds may become available.

    If they reduce the proposed line to Hanford to Fresno they fail other parts of the law, see arguments below.

    It’s simple, they need to build a usable segment (usable by HSR) and they can’t start until they have the money. It’s not complicated.

    joe Reply:

    The Judge respects the will of The People to build HSR.
    He respects the Will of the Executive branch to build HSR. He has not invalidated contracts or halted work.
    He respects the will of the Legislature to fund HSR. He did not invalidate the Appropriation and asked that they simply reconvene a sub-committee and state the benefits for the record.

    You evaded admitting there is enough funds for the fresno to Hanford segment. It’s not the best solution the state can choose but it’s a counter exmaple to show you’re wrong that the State cannot proceed.

    They CAN build a system to support HSR operations. CAN is not MUST or SHALL. The Authority CAN build a useable segment with current funds. They can demonstrate the capacity exists.

    John Nachtigall Reply:

    And you never did answer me why they wrote the law that way if they never wanted to meet that part of the law?? Why did they make it such a clear requirement if it was not the intent??

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    Because they didn’t write into the law. You are seeing it but isn’t there.

    John Nachtigall Reply:

    Wow, what is that text I keep copying then? Because it claims to be the text of the law

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    It has punctuation in it. Its lacking “and” in places that you insist it has.

    John Nachtigall Reply:

    It says “and includes, but is not limited to the following”.

    It also says (h) the corridor or useable segment will thereof will be suitable and ready for high speed train operations

    But you know what, you continue to belive whatever you like. The judge has ruled, the law was upheld, and weather you belive it or not, that is a good thing in the long run because those provisions were included in the law on purpose and sold to the public as protection from stranded investment. If they were allowed to ignore them that would be bad for democracy. You should not be allowed to lie or cheat regardless of the importance of your cause

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    Then you are back to it all has to erupt all at once or it doesn’t meet the law. That if the catenary poles don’t get erected with the wire slready hung on them, they can’t build it. If it’s okay to lay the tracks on Monday and hang the wires on Tuesday it’s okay to lay the tracks in 2014 and hang the wire in 2023. I judge is going to understand that it was going to built in sections and completed as needed.

    John Nachtigall Reply:

    Yeah sure, 1 day vs 9 years is totally the same thing. Your not trying to circumvent the law at all.

    Why do you think they wrote that in? If they were allowed to build it at any time why include that language at all?

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    how many nanoseconds after the last welder finishes is too long? I laying the tracks from one end to the other with one crew okay or do they have to to send out 20 crews so it’s all done within 22 days, 6hours 47 minutes and 12 seconds. Is a usable segment the same as an HSR segment and if they are the same why didn’t the legislation explicitly say that. The judge is going to consider how the legislature and normal people expect things to be built and take that into account. If he doesn’t the appellate judges will. If he doesn’t and stops the project the Authority will appeal and the appellate judges will consider it. It doesn’t all have to erupt instantaneously from the bosom of the earth to be a usable segment.

    joe Reply:

    First, I see no reason the Authority cannot have multiple segments under varying states of construction. Or that they have to finish one before starting another. There is no requirement to have serial construction. So they can have two on going at a time.

    They cannot double commit the funding for completing a segment on the next usable segment.

    Second, if they identify a dedicated source of funds for multiple years, they can plan to do multiple segments and show they have the anticipated funds to compete them with funding projections.

    So they can start one from fresno to hanford and then start a second from hanford to bakersfield and work them in serial or stagger them or do them in parallel. All they need to show is a dedicated, multi year funding source and how they plan to spend to complete each.

    And usable segments get easier given they need to only build to the next one in the contiguous line.

    John Nachtigall Reply:

    You are right. If they had a stable mutiyear source of money and a plan to build sections that could support HSR train operations they would comply. They have neither.

    They are not even pretending they have the money. They could not point to a single real source of money beyond the bond funds and the current fed grant. That is why they LOST the lawsuit.

    They are not even saying they plan to build it compatible with HSR operations. They made up a whole new term ICS just because they don’t have any intention of making it HSR ready.

    This was an advertised feature of the law. They were supposed to have the money for a usable segment all lined up before they started building to prevent a stranded investment. It was a feature of the law, not a bug. They need to comply

    joe Reply:

    Plaintiffs Failed to invalidate the Prop1a Appropriation.
    Failed to Invalidate the contracts.
    Failed to Stop current work.

    Succeeded in blocking Prop1a Authorization.

    The Legislature has to reconvene a sub-committee, state the benefits of releasing the HSR Bonds for the record. Viola. That simple act – one day – allows the State to issue Prop1a Bonds.

    So the Authority LOST!!!!!

    The Authority also LOST the EIR lawsuit on the peninsula – they had to repeal the entire EIR and make 3 corrections. They did those corrections and Kenny approved the EIR. Now e have blended HSR approved on the Peninsula.

    There are many options for the State on funding HSR – there is enough money for the Fresno to Hanford useable segment. Please acknowledge that option. It’s the only credible thing to do.

    John Nachtigall Reply:

    They have enough money to build Hanford to Fresno. IF it is NOT HSR ready. Since the law explicitly says it will be HSR compatible (h) and will not have a subsidy (j) now you have a compliant financing plan for a non compliant build plan.

    But it’s this easy, the authority has not “redefined” Hanford to Fresno as the IOS. why do you think that is? One possibility is they agree with me that such a short segment with no power systems is not compliant with the law. Another possibility is they are too stupid to find an easy path.

    Joe you can spin all you want, it is a real setback and the reason the authority has not presented a new plan is because they don’t have the funding indentified and such a short segment as you suggest does not follow other parts of the law

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    Clap harder or Tinkerbell will die.

    joe Reply:

    Joe you can spin all you want, it is a real setback and the reason the authority has not presented a new plan is because they don’t have the funding indentified and such a short segment as you suggest does not follow other parts of the law.

    I assume Authority didn’t immediately produce a new plan totally complaint to the Judge’s ruling was they do not need to have a plan immediately after the ruling. No work has stopped, all contracts are unbroken.

    And the lawsuit was over an old plan which is superseded by this current plan so obviously writing plans in word processors is not that hard. The delay should be over what option best services the State and meets the Judge and Stakeholders. My proposal is a simple counter example that shows one possible solution.

    Furthermore, what’s a setback? This is just colloquial language for making imprecise comments that troll.

    CA has funds to make a HSR compatible system that can provide service between the station pairs.

    The Proposition does not mandate CA run HSR service. As a QA Engineer you are willfully misinterpreting CAN to mean MUST or SHALL. You should be trained to know the difference.

    even if they had to run a service to show the system is compliant they can run one train and meet the pedantic interpretation – one train with tickets proceed to avoid subsidy. I am sure there enough advocates, tourists and rail enthusiasts to fill an inaugural train ride.

    John Nachtigall Reply:

    I am trained to know the difference. I am also trained to read the whole thing.

    Section (I) says can.

    Section (h) and (j) say will (would).

    So as a lawyer what did they teach you about having to meet all parts of the law…not just the parts you like.?

    We will see how the state counters the ruling after all we are just speculating, they get to play in the real game

    John Nachtigall Reply:

    And for the record I totally clapped and Tinkerbell did not die.

    Maybe some of her fairy dust could help HSR. It made people fly but maybe she knows a “competence” fairy for the project planners.

    synonymouse Reply:

    (say the tunnel through the Tehachapis).

    Why in hell would one want to mine a base tunnel thru Mojave?

    Clem Reply:

    Cross-silo connection to the Mojave Space Port, of course.

    John Nachtigall Reply:

    I gave direct quotes from the law. The judge said they had to identify all the funds for the first segment. How much more clear can they make it for you?

    Keith Saggers Reply:

    http://la.streetsblog.org/2013/12/09/california-high-speed-rail-media-piling-on-continues-as-does-the-project/

    Keith Saggers Reply:

    When I ran for governor in California the first time,” said Jerry Brown at a HSR event, “California’s private wealth, together, was about $350 billion. Now it’s almost $2 trillion.” France, Japan and Germany built modern rail networks with much less wealth. In other words, many are saying Prop. 1A is less important now. And, for future segments, maybe Washington doesn’t matter either. Sacramento may vie to do this on its own, through carbon offsets, the transportation budget, and perhaps through a “franchise bid.” Under this idea, explained Diridon, an Asian or European railway consortium pays to link, for example, Los Angeles with the Central Valley. In exchange, they would collect all the profits from HSR operations for a period of several decades.

    Keith Saggers Reply:

    The sticking point is a five-mile section of the 29-mile Madera-to-Fresno segment. Under the worst-case scenario, sources close to the bid said the Authority will renegotiate a $511 million agreement with Tutor-Perini, the construction contractor, to work around it. Meanwhile, Dan Richard, the project chairman, said they will comply with the orders and construction will start as soon as next month.

    Streetsblog December

    John Nachtigall Reply:

    FYI. They have been starting construction in “a few months” for more than 2 years

    joe Reply:

    Contractors are currently drilling soil cores at planned overpasses. Those are guys with work clothes, hard hats and loud machines drilling holes. Not good enough?

    John Nachtigall Reply:

    Nope, not good enough. I want to see the shovel ceremony or it is all for nothing.

    On a serious note, they keep saying they will start construction in a few months and keep missing it. How can you be so off on a predictions that is only 2 months away

    joe Reply:

    Seriously, it is a design build contract. This is construction work the plaintiffs want to halt. Contracts in place – work commenced and funding spent.

    John Nachtigall Reply:

    I missed the part of the article that talked about the part of the ruling that states the funds must be identified. See quote from the ruling above.

    You can spin it however you like, they have a year before they run out of money and they are not allowed to use the bond funds until they have a funding plan that complies with the law which includes all the money for the first IOS. They can’t even match the fed funds at this point.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    Usable segment. Which has two stations.

    joe Reply:

    Yes, and the Authority can fix this problem with a word processor. They can define a usable segment as the Fresno and Hanford stations and construction can include work extending out either end. Prop1a even encourages the authority to prioritize less costly segments.

    John Nachtigall Reply:

    And this part?

    H) The corridor or usable segment thereof would be suitable and ready for high-speed train operation.
    (I) One or more passenger service providers can begin using the tracks or stations for passenger train service.
    (J) The planned passenger service by the authority in the corridor or usable segment thereof will not require a local, state, or federal operating subsidy.
    (K) The authority has completed all necessary project level environmental clearances necessary to proceed to construction.

    Look at section (h). Is that not clear it has to be ready for HSR operations?

    joe Reply:

    Beyond this being a troll…..

    Which part of the above between Fresno and Hanford would not be possible to put into a plan and have funds identified if that was precisely what you think the anti-HSR Judge will require?

    Do you think there’s not enough money?

    And words are very important. “can”

    Must Shall are not in the part you feel is impossible to meet.

    Ted Judah Reply:

    Your last point is a novel legal argument, John. You seem to be saying: “you can’t build unless you have someone willing to operate the HSR service”. That standard is so clear and unambiguous then all the other legal arguments become irrelevant. However, given that no lawyer for the opposition has gone there and the judge didn’t issue an injunction, I suspect this interpretation is wrong.

    John Nachtigall Reply:

    It is not a troll at all. I didn’t write the law, the the supporters did. Section (h) clearly states therefor would be ready for operations, and it specifically says usable segment. Why write it if that is not the intent? How else do you read that line?

    And I am sure they don’t have the money. If they did they would have proved it to the judge and the case would have been over

    And I believe this argument is being made in the 2nd trial. The first trial was only on funding.

    joe Reply:

    Not a troll? Then What part of a hypothetical Hanford to Fresno usable segment I described in non-compliance with the Proposition? They have enough funds.

    You do QA. What is the difference between can and shall? You know must and shall are stronger than can. I can drive to LA tomorrow AM. If it’s a must drive to LA or shall drive to LA then I better do it. Can is just showing I have a capability. I have the capability.

    And the entire opposition lawsuit is based on funding – Prop1a is a funding initiative. All lawsuits will go after the funding.

    John Nachtigall Reply:

    I understand the different between can and shall. Shall means you have to do it. Can means you could do it, but choose not to.

    What part?

    1. No power systems. When “completed” (I.e. When they run out of money) it will not be ready for HSR train operations. See section (h). That does not say “can” it says ” would be suitable” which it will not

    2. Section (j) says “will not ” require a subsidy. So tell me how Hanford to Fresno does not require a subsidy. Let’s say they don’t run anything. Track maintenance costs money so that puts the, in the red. Let’s say they run conventional service (in violation of section h). It’s won’t run without subsidy. Let’s say they install power systems and run HSR service (using money not yet found). Ridership will be low and costs very high and it will still require a subsidy. In short, they can’t meet that requirement.

    You keep focusing on section (I) but there is more to it than that and even if they met that section they still fail others.

    It’s been stated in these forums that the Tos lawsuit got split in 2. The first part was on finances. The 2nd part talks about this stuff. I have not independently confirmed, I am relying on those statements.

    joe Reply:

    1. No power systems. When “completed” (I.e. When they run out of money)

    1. CA can write a plan to include power subsystems if that pedantic interpretation is taken. They have enough funds to build a compete the system between the two stops — IF that were required.

    It is achievable with the billions they have.

    2. Section (j) says “will not ” require a subsidy. So tell me how Hanford to Fresno does not require a subsidy.

    2a. No. it’s your lawsuit over noncompliance. Plaintiffs must prove that there is a subsidy. You need to first show they have mandated service, and that the mandated service is subsidized. This must be done Prior to the Authority running the service if you want to block the construction.

    CAN is not SHALL. or MUST.

    Plaintiffs have to show have to show a violation occurred, or will occur.

    2b. Where’s the proposition requirement on service frequency? I can meet that pedantic interpretation that the segment run HSR non-subsidized service with one train between stations. I’d sell tickets to the inaugural train ride at a very high price to assure it does not violate the subsidy requirements – Hell – make it a first class train ride and put Jerry Brown on the train. I get to shake his hand and chat with Jeff Morales. All for one low ticket price of $500. You’d fill the train. It’s first class service.

    synonymouse Reply:

    Nowhere to nowhere is a terrible mistake. Where are you going to get the funds to subsidize the maintenance and operation? Do you think either of the class ones would find enough utility in a double track orphan segment to buy it out? Dunno.

    Think about NdeM Queretaro electrification. Did not survive. Or the Embarcadero Freeway which stubbed out just shy of the Wharf for years and was finally torn down. Abbreviated, marginal has a hard time over the longer term.

    Brown and Richards do not have a viable Prop 1a compatible scheme. And they remain inflexible in the face of changing circumstances. Their whole route plan was skewed toward Las Vegas, now receding. Massachusetts is in the process of approving more Indian casinos. TehaVegaSkyRail computes less now than ever before. Question is are Jerry’s handlers capable of course correction?

    synonymouse Reply:

    “I’d sell tickets to the inaugural train ride at a very high price to assure it does not violate the subsidy requirements – Hell – make it a first class train ride and put Jerry Brown on the train. I get to shake his hand and chat with Jeff Morales. All for one low ticket price of $500. You’d fill the train. It’s first class service.”

    Are you listening to yourself? Do you know what a PR disaster that would represent? Jerry’s Demo’s would run for the hills. As it is they may have Prop 1a compliance back on their plates very soon, whether they like it or not.

    John Nachtigall Reply:

    He is not listening to himself because he has lost all perspective. He is working so hard to prove the law does not say what it does that he is asserting these ridiculous things.

    Build track from nowhere to nowhere for billions of dollars but don’t run it.

    Or run it once just to meet the letter of law and charge hundreds or thousands of dollars per passenger from well heeled presumably train supporters to try and avoid a subsidy.

    And if it gets to that point what has he accompanied. Lots of bad press, no money for the next segment, and you still have all the lawsuits you had before because the same rules (money up front, no subsidy, HSR operations) still apply to the next segment.

    Do you really think Handford to Fresno will “inspire” the state to complete the system. It will be CA version of the bridge to nowhere. It will galvanize public opposition. If I was rooting against HSR I would pray this is the option they took. Of course I am not rooting against HSR I just want them to follow the law.

    And for the record, all law is technicalities and pedantics so stop throwing it around like it’s an insult

    John Nachtigall Reply:

    PS. I can’t wait for the first headlines.

    CAHSR FIRST TRAIN LEAVES STATION. TICKETS $500 TO TRAVEL 30 miles

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    well if they had intended it to run electric trains four times an hour 16 hours a day and 18 on Sundays without out subsidies and a cheery on top of the whipped cream they would have written that. They didn’t. a useable segement has two stations. Reasonable people expect them to build the parts they need as they need them.

    joe Reply:

    CAHSR FIRST TRAIN LEAVES STATION. TICKETS $500 TO TRAVEL 30 miles.
    Opponents cry and whimper.

    Happy CA Riders celebrated the first HSR train ride with Gov Brown and CEO Jeff Morales. This trip demonstrated CA HSR has a first Useable Segment according to Prop1a. Now that the legal technicality is met, CA can go about building out the system to Bakersfield and Merced. President Joe Biden called it a BFD and promised to double the HSR Federal award next year to help pay for the extension to from Bakersfield to LA Basin.

    GOP opponents promised to both de-fund the HSR system and Obama-care as well as outlaw the Dept of education and remove fluoride from the water. GOP faithful with riled and raced their electric scooters in a circle while sining Pat Boone songs from the 50s. The meeting was held in the Hanford Kiwanis club ball room but the keynote speaker was unable to address the audience. He fell and could not get up.

    John Nachtigall Reply:

    You make me giggle joe. I especially liked the scooter and Pat Boone referneces, nice touch.

    We will see how it plays out

    Alon Levy Reply:

    Re

    CAHSR FIRST TRAIN LEAVES STATION. TICKETS $500 TO TRAVEL 30 miles

    the first A380 flight was extremely expensive, just because people would pay a lot for the new experience.

  9. Reedman
    Dec 31st, 2013 at 16:45
    #9

    I think the New York train derailment needs to be mentioned as another example (like in Spain) that train control is going to need to be implemented and upgrade, and this will add costs, even in a time of austerity.

    jonathan Reply:

    Huh? CHSRA already planned for ETCS level 2. How is that “adding costs”? And for whom?

    Alon Levy Reply:

    The railroads are already spending money to meet the PTC mandate, although many (most?) are going to miss the original deadline by a few years.

  10. Jos Callinet
    Dec 31st, 2013 at 20:18
    #10

    Who here is willing to seriously bet that, one year from now, on December 31, 2014, we will still be arguing endlessly amongst ourselves here on this forum – and still not one tangible, concrete item will have been set in place on the ground for high-speed rail in California.

    Taking a cold, hard look at what has happened, is happening and is likely to continue to happen: High speed rail in America is destined for the foreseeable future to remain a hotly-debated topic among a small number of advocates, but no real-life examples of this form of ground transportation are likely to be built – for numerous and complex reasons, some of which Robert Cruickshank himself has discussed on these pages.

    I believe our nation is constitutionally (in the sense of its mind-set) incapable of committing itself to the very real changes a well-conceived high-speed rail system would bring about. There are far too many people around who have a highly vested interest in maintaining the status-quo and are fiercely opposed to major infrastructure projects of any kind, not just high-speed rail.

    Had Dwight Eisenhower proposed back in the 1950s that our nation build a system of fast nationwide passenger rail, it is possible that the groundwork for today’s concept of high-speed rail might have been laid. In Eisenhower’s day, there was a lot more undisturbed land that could be acquired by eminent domain, as it was for the Interstate Highway System. Today we can’t realistically cobble together the land we need for high-speed rail without generating a “Perfect Storm” of opposition (a major reason why we’re endlessly debating the merits of the I-5 versus Imperial Valley HSR routing).

    We must face a painfully sad truth: we are fifty, perhaps even sixty years, too late to accomplish major infrastructure projects in this country. The time for vast public works like the Hoover Dam and the Interstate Highway System – even landing men on the moon – has passed. As I said above, we’re living in an age of retrenchment and diminished expectations, not in an age of expansion.

    In today’s political world, high-speed rail is a non-starter. The Tea Party exists because it reflects the world-view of a large and growing number of 21st-Century Americans, not the post-World-War-II exuberance and optimism of our country as it was sixty years ago. High-Speed rail runs completely counter to today’s popular view of how we as a nation should use our limited resources.

    synonymouse Reply:

    A year from now either the courts will have forced a change in scheme or a re-vote or they will have caved and AmBART will proceed mindlessly and fitfully.. The latter a certain fiscal disaster – some hsr lines in France are already losing money. “non plus rentables”

    The Cheerleaders are ignoring this phenomenon.

    I-5 vs San Joaquin Valley(99).

    VBobier Reply:

    I highly doubt that syno, there will be no revote, except between your ears & no matter how many times you rant about this or that, won’t make it so, but then you aren’t a judge or governor…

    synonymouse Reply:

    You missed the second half of the “or” prediction.

    Some of the French hsr lines are now running in the red with too many empty seats due to competition primarily from low cost airlines or autos on freeways. French tv is running this story. The SNCF is reacting by cutting staff. The Cheerleaders are ignoring this development.

    But it is ominous for CAHSR, which must be optimized for competitivity. Ergo the most direct and express routing is basic to the high speed rail concept. Van Ark was in touch with this necessity but it is totally lost upon Brown and Richards. Sad for the people of California.

    Where are you going to get the money for the DogLeg subsidy – out of the health and welfare budget?

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    California isn’t building HSR all over the place like the French. California is the equivalent of Paris-Lyon. Or Osaka-Nagoya

    synonymouse Reply:

    Gimme a break. Jerry and Barry are decreeing a 40 mile detour – for Mojave and the Ranch.

    The trend is troubling for all the hsr lines. Low cost air is coming on strong, with I suspect lower wages than the SNCR. Driving is popular with families and young people.

    The “Ouigo” concept will have to cut costs and pack them in – otherwise cheaper tickets means red ink as heretofore hsr has been able to charge premium and thus achieve profitability.

    synonymouse Reply:

    SNCF

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    40 miles at an average speed of 120 is 20 minutes. Those 40 miles are going to be speedier than an average of 120. How many people are going to not take the train because it’s 20 minutes less fast? Is that more or less than the people who take the train because it’s faster than the plane or the car or the bus because the detour is there?

    Drunk Engineer Reply:

    How many people are going to not take the train because it’s 20 minutes less fast?

    A very large number.

    The detour adds ~$10 billion to the cost, meaning $10 billion not being spent on bringing rail service to places people actually need to go — like San Diego or Sacramento.

    joe Reply:

    Fascinating, I sat on an packed airplane waiting 20 extra minutes for connecting aircraft’s luggage to load this Tuesday.

    20 minutes is enough time for a gasoline fill up and fancy coffee at an I-5 rest stop.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    and 10 billion that the state won’t have to spend on getting to greater Palmdale and places beyond there that aren’t Bakersfield

    Drunk Engineer Reply:

    Greater Palmdale? LOL…

    There are, of course, ways of bringing HSR trains into “Greater” Palmdale for much less than $10 billion.

    Ted Judah Reply:

    The trend is troubling for all the hsr lines. Low cost air is coming on strong, with I suspect lower wages than the SNCR. Driving is popular with families and young people.

    Low wages haven’t exactly stopped demand for air travel in places like the Inland Empire from cratering. Most Millennial-age families only can afford one car.

    Labor costs are only a deterrent if energy costs are low and there’s lot of competition. As economic consolidation continues, neither of these will be true.

    Max Wyss Reply:

    Actually, according to the French press, it is not a decline of number of passengers (well, there is, about 0.4%), but the main reason for the profitability of the TGV network dropping close to 10% (from 20% in 2008) is the increasing access charges by RFF. The question is, however, whether these charges are actually justified.

    synonymouse Reply:

    The France 2 story showed empty hsr seats and suggested that young people in groups preferred to drive due to the cheaper cost and more freedom.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    Most people aren’t young and most people don’t travel in groups.

    synonymouse Reply:

    I guess you don’t watch French tv, which show the train stations jammed with young people.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    No I read the news reports about how the Paris Lyon line is reaching capacity and other things like that.

    Max Wyss Reply:

    The yield management system SNCF uses makes is rather difficult for group reservations, at decent prices. Unfortunately, it is a bit of a French legacy to look at each and every train as if it were alone. Germany and Switzerland have shown that regular interval schedules and a properly coordinated network bring a higher than proportional number of additional passengers. Not having to be on a very specific train, maybe reserved three months on advance, is an element of freedom.

    swing hanger Reply:

    @Jos,
    Agree, though I would change the date to Dec. 31. 2018, if this blog exists then, that is.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    100 years from now foamers will be arguing about whether Altamont would have been better. There’s a nearly perpetual thread on Railroad.net about what would have happened if the hurricanes of 1955 hadn’t happened.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    1955? Pshaw. The alt history forums have a lot of timelines with the point of departure set centuries ago, and some longer than a millennium ago.

    Lewellan Reply:

    I’ve long advocated for (modest speed) HSR, preferring 125mph Talgo XXI hybrid locomotives and tilting coaches such as the Amtrak Cascades line between Eugene Oregon and Vancouver BC. It was no surprise when the predicted cost of the CAHSR proposal more than doubled because of the 200mph and (2hr 40min trip time) legislative mandate. More important than cost are “environmental impact” and “routes to serve the most patrons.” All these considerations – cost, impact and equitable service – fail to meet reasonable expectations of California rail patrons. Thus, an ideal CAHSR project cannot be accomplished with the proposed route arrangement using 200mph trainsets and infrastructure.

    When the CAHSR project’s actual cost (more than doubly expensive) was finally revealled, Bay Area Peninsula and LA County communities opted for a Plan B ‘blended’ system which neatly aligned with the modest speed HSR system that (many Californians, myself included) favored and expected. These “acceptable” Plan B options led to now more extensive reconsideration of the Altamont corridor and the Tejon route. Upgrading existing railway corridors also suggests direct routes through Fresno and Bakersfield should be included on the system, but not to handle 200mph speeds and electrification.
    Such a Talgo XXI hybrid HSR route would be about 5hrs LA-SF and about 4.5hrs LA-Sacramento. This is a basic starter line that can upgrade over time if ever deemed economically feasible. Otherwise, it would most likely generate as much or more ridership than the now scandalous Bombardier modelling.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    They aren’t aiming for California rail patrons. They are aiming for California automobile users. And California airplane patrons. 125 MPH is too slow to make the train an attractive option for those people.

    Lewellan Reply:

    The increased trip time from 3hrs to 5hrs is insignificant. Cost, impact and ‘equitable’ passenger-rail service are more important and achievable with 125mph infrastructure. The greater problem of traffic congestion, air pollution, etc, are within metropolitan regions, not between them. Dedicating electricity to a 200mph Madera-Fresno rural route is entirely wasteful. Electrifying the Altamont corridor would be much more productive; likewise electrifying more Los Angeles transit. My intent is to rescue HSR projects from both its ideological opponents and fanatical supporters of 200mph nonsense.

    Ted Judah Reply:

    Until you can compete with the airlines on door to door travel time, your service would need a government subsidy. Given what other needs the state has, it is a waste to put in something that slow unless it is a route which can’t support HSR service.

    synonymouse Reply:

    There is no reason to build out a brand new hsr line to do only 125mph, especially when the I-5 corridor is already dedicated, thanks to the Division of Highways.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    put rubber tires on a train and run it along the shoulder?
    Or how much cheaper is it to redo all the grade crossings out along I-5 so a train can be wedged in versus building grade separations somewhere else?

    joe Reply:

    You’ve long advocated for modest speed rail and haven’t gotten a cent to build this service.

    There’s no funding to build 110-125 dedicated ROW across California. There’ is no capacity to carry enough people on existing freight track where freight-has-the-right-of-way over passengers.

    You propose to spend 10’s of billions to deliver non-competitive service that uses dirty diesel fuel.

    Paul Dyson Reply:

    “You’ve long advocated for modest speed rail and haven’t gotten a cent to build this service.” Whereas HSR has been given quite a few cents and still hasn’t delivered any service, nor is likely to in the next decade, other than 125mph diesel trains paralleling the San Joaquin route. Such progress, Joe.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    so instead of having something in 2025 or 2030 there shouldn’t be anything at all? Just let ‘em take the bus?

    Paul Dyson Reply:

    A well planned project would have useful service to major population centers early in the game, assuming all technical factors can be overcome. In any event I’m sure there’ll be some very nice ‘buses in 2025. You’ll still need them to get from Bakersfield to Los Angeles.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    The plan today is to have something between Bakersfield and Los Angeles that is a train. Which because the cheap part to Fresno is built will mean there’s service from Fresno to Los Angeles. Which has to be built to get from Los Angeles to San Francisco or Sacramento. What they are building today has to be built sometime. Money dropped down out of the sky that they could use to build it, why shouldn’t they?

    jimsf Reply:

    exactly.

    joe Reply:

    A well planned project that doesn’t have to worry about funding stakeholders is FAIL. It’s not a plan, it is an unfunded proposal. Funding sources have constraints and requirements. Add them, meet them, and you have a plan.

    The HSR project is flawed, but it meets the requirements of the funding stakeholders. In fact that’s what’s been so hard, meeting all the stakeholder requirements which include Fed ARRA and Prop1a.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    But the proposal agreed on doesn’t require funding for everything up front.

    Joe Reply:

    That’s right. Under Prop1a, they need to have funding identified (not 100% sure what that commitment means to the Judge) for the thing they called a useable segment. It needs two stations. The entire project does not need funding up front.

    Paul’s ignoring the opportunity in hand for the ideal “well planned project”. He proposes to either give the money back or violate the funding stakeholde’s requirements. Eliminating the need to find funding and adhere to the stakeholders requirements is why his plans are so awesome. It’s not that hard to plan when you eliminate a major constraint. I call those proposals since they lack funding. Paul has a proposal that he can’t get funded.

    Paul Dyson Reply:

    So tell me what part of the “official” HSR plan is not an “unfunded proposal”.
    Of course in the scheme of things it probably doesn’t matter, Brown et al will ignore the law and fudge around to keep the corpse twitching until they run out of relatively inexpensive construction on flat land and reach the mountains. Then we’ll see how popular the project is and whether it will be completed. Unfortunately along the way we will have wasted countless dollars and years when we could have been improving regional rail for millions of people who could actually use it.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    If they needed to have all the funding in place for the whole shebang why did the legislature feel the need to define a usable segment as one with two stations?

    jimsf Reply:

    Actually the state is moving forward, granted in fits and starts, with an all of the above approach. There are useful upgrades planned for the bookends, there is the creation of the unified norcal services including eventual high speed and interim higher speed service via altamont, and the catrain electrification project. Im familiar with whats taking place concurrently in the socal portion. Meanwhile as planned, the core high speed line in the valley is moving forward.

    Its seems peicemeal and disjointed but will all come together and its all fully expandable and upgradable well into the future.

    joe Reply:

    http://www.cahsrblog.com/2013/10/a-ride-on-the-san-joaquins-shows-need-for-hsr/
    http://kvpr.org/post/commentary-take-trip-amtraks-san-joaquin
    Why are we still relying on single tracks owned by freight lines to move passengers on trains through the Central Valley? I’ve dumped on high-speed rail for years—for outlandish ridership projections, for its failure to attract private investment, for not starting with a connection between L.A. and San Diego—and even the idea’s backers are worried it will cost too much. But high-speed rail does provide solutions to the gaps Ben and I encountered firsthand. It would provide a proper route for rail passengers through the Tehachapis. It would provide a dedicated track for passenger rail in the Central Valley. And it would connect the state in ways that we have otherwise failed to do.

    Even HSR critics acknowledge the CV needs dedicated passenger track. The BUS wasn’t what irritated the traveler, it was the delays caused by freight in the CV.

    Keith Saggers Reply:

    Add expansion of Capital corridor to Salinas plus speed enhancements
    Add the Coast daylight, one seat ride from SF to LA
    Add the San Joaquins switching to 125mph on the Central valley high speed tracks

    Lewellan Reply:

    joe. The bus ride from Bakersfield to Los Angeles is horrible. I’m supporting the Tejon route to reduce cost and travel time. Building the Tejon segment makes sense. The Madera-Fresno segment as proposed is NOT cheap. Designed for 125mph without electrification would (probably) cut cost in half, the same as happened with the Peninsula and LA County segments. The CAHSR agency has wasted time and effort, stirred controvery and lost public support. Whose are you on? Corporate America? Exxon/Mobile? General Motors?

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    Adding less than 20 minutes to go through Palmdale will cause everybody to take planes but “The increased trip time from 3hrs to 5hrs is insignificant.” Interesting.
    How much cheaper is it to build new 125 MPH ROW in places that are flat compared to building 220 MPH ROW in places that are flat?

    joe Reply:

    The travel log says it’s not horrible. The delays caused by using Freight RR track – your proposal – was annoying due to the delays shared track induce. Your opinions are contradicted by the travel log.

    We need new dedicated track in the CV and to LA. Building 125 MPH track isn’t half as expensive. You might want to try to use a search engine or work out the cost savings. Possibly your route to LA not use tunnels?

    Lewellan Reply:

    adirondacker. Antelope Valley is not suffering with traffic congestion, thus the need for HSR there is questionable. The 200mph alignment through Fresno is entirely elevated, and there are 3 lengthy viaducts south of Fresno and through Hanford. The wide UPRR corridor is in close proximity. Union Pacific operation and local traffic management would benefit with less expensive grade separations.

    Joe. Oh it’s a horrible bus ride, believe me. Most of the CV corridor is wide enough to add track in many places. The Tejon route, according to Clem Tiller’s thorough analysis, has fewer miles of tunnel and viaduct, and crests the pass at a lower elevation, thus reduces cost and travel time. Antelope Valley (I suspect) could be served with a Bakersfield-to-Las Vegas HSR route. Using non-electrified Talgo trainsets, it could extend to Salt Lake City & Denver.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    How much less does it cost to grade separate for 126 MPH trains versus 220 MPH trains? The ROW you put through Fresno for 126MPH trains is going to look amazingly similar to one for 220MPH trains and cost just as much.

    datacruncher Reply:

    No, Fresno is not entirely elevated. That plan was scrapped a couple of years ago.

    The Fresno alignment now has only two short raised sections, one to cross the UP south of the San Joaquin River and another to cross Freeway 99 south of downtown Fresno. The rest of the Fresno alignment is at grade with the exception of a tunnel to cross under Freeway 180.

    UP has never liked the idea of HSR using its ROW. That would cut UP off on one side of its ROW from extending tracks to future freight customers unless the HSR was elevated along the UP ROW.

    joe Reply:

    Joe. Oh it’s a horrible bus ride, believe me.

    I don’t believe much of what you write.

    It’s not even well argued. Two systems. You’d have two crossings. Clems Tejon and scribble about another from Bakersfield and Antelope Valley Las Vegas. Both for 125 service which is cheaper than 220 because – well do the Math. 220/2 = 110.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    First, the traffic on a low- or even medium-speed train from anywhere in California to Salt Lake City justifies maybe a daily train if it’s done well, and a daily train doesn’t justify the track upgrades required to do it well. Tilting train cant deficiency requires a fair amount of passenger priority on the line; the Cascades can’t run at tilting train cant deficiency at all (current cant deficiency is 5″, same as on non-tilting Amfleets north of New Haven) because of BNSF’s restrictions. So stick a fork in that plan. Vegas is also impossible to serve on legacy rail, since the options are to crawl up Cajon behind all the heavy freight trains and to crawl even longer up to Antelope Valley, on a line with extremely tight curves and low cant because of freight traffic; even at high cant deficiency, such a train would not be time-competitive with driving.

    Second, the bulk of the cost of LA-SF is the mountain crossings. A 125 mph diesel train would actually raise the cost of those mountain crossings because it wouldn’t be able to reliably climb 4% grades, whereas late-model 220 mph EMUs can. Higher grades shorten the tunnel length, and this dominates the cost. The cost of 220 mph through the Central Valley is comparatively modest, while the benefits are increased since there are no geometric speed restrictions and no stations served by all express trains.

    Max Wyss Reply:

    Actually, there is one more thing to drive up the cost for diesel operation: tunnel ventilation. Even the longest tunnels do not need ventilation if the trains are running on electricity (well, an emergency ventilation is good for a really long tunnel, but, for example, the 19 km long Simplon tunnels are non-ventilated. FWIW, the Swiss network has a complete ban on regular diesel operation through any tunnel longer than (if I remember correctly) 2 km.

    Jon Reply:

    The cost on the peninsula was substantially reduced because CAHSR decided to swipe Caltrain’s nearly-125mph-ready tracks rather than build their own. They don’t have that option in the central valley, where there is no prospect of being able to run 125mph on existing tracks.

    The cost for LA County has not been cut in half. The LA – Burbank section still calls for dedicated high speed tracks with no reduction in speed.

    Whose are you on? Corporate America? Exxon/Mobile? General Motors?

    125mph or the kitten gets it!

    D. P. Lubic Reply:

    Lewellan, I won’t argue against many of your points on how things are now. However, I will argue that the Tea Party bunch tends to skew old, sometimes considerably so, and it may not be growing. I still see much of the opposition as being generational. Unfortunately, it means we have to wait for enough “dinosaurs to die,” or at least retire.

    That may be sooner than some of us think. I think maybe, just maybe, we’ll hit the tipping point in five years or so, maybe even a little less.

    Take heart in the idea that Amtrak is setting record passenger counts, and has a decent recovery ratio when compared with the alternatives. Note that we now have over 30 cities with streetcar systems in operation or planned or under construction. Recall that the streetcar system in Cincinnati will be pushed to completion despite a mayor who really tried to kill it, largely because some businesses in the city stepped up to supply nine years’ of operating costs, or at least cover nine years’ of estimated subsidies (and chances are that aggressive bully will be out of office by then); that would have been unheard of not too long ago. Draw hope from the fact that all this has occurred in spite of–IN SPITE OF–the likes of the oil business, the highway lobby, the Tea Party, the Republican Party, Cato, Reason, and so on, including the double standard that a railroad has to make money or die and that’s OK because otherwise that’s socialism, but roads, airports, and other things are fine with public subsidy because they represent Freedom ™.

    The fight’s still on, there’s no guarantee we’ll win, but it’s far from totally hopeless, although I have to face the fact that I live in the wrong time.

    Worse than feeling I live in the wrong time, I’ve had three other people tell me so.

    Worse than that, I had a young girl of about 25 tell me I reminded her of her grandfather. Now, I’ll admit to being older than her dad, but to be her grandfather I would have had to be her daddy’s daddy when I was 9 or 10 years old!

    D. P. Lubic Reply:

    A correction, this is directed at Jos Callinet, but it applies to Lewellan as well, and to others here, too.

    Happy New Year!

    Jos Callinet Reply:

    Thanks, Lubic, for your comments re: my post –
    and Happy New Year!

    I, too, hope the Tea Party isn’t growing – even though at present it has its iron grip securely on the U.S. House.

    2014 may turn out to be an interesting year.

    D. P. Lubic Reply:

    And thank you for the comment as well.

    Considering that Boehner (sp?) is publicly criticizing them could be another good sign.

    Actually, they are reaping the whirlwind they have sown. Adirondacker will agree with me, the Republicans told too many lies for too long–and now they have a base that believes those lies, and wants their leadership to do what it says it wants to do. The Tea Party, ironically, is holding the Republican leadership responsible for its promises–and the leadership doesn’t like it!

    Should be interesting–but let us recall it was a Chinese curse to live in interesting times. . .

    Lewellan Reply:

    The Tea Party movement is little more than a noisy subordinate in the Republican Party heirarchy. Republican opposition to investment in Amtrak and passenger-rail predates the Tea Party. The GOP is aligned with automobile-related Big Business interests which have established a transportation monopoly. There is more profit to be had from car-dependent consumers, in finance, insurance, fuels, parking, road work, car-dependent suburban housing, etc etc. Our national railway companies – BNSF, UPRR, etc – are also tools of the same Big Business interests.

    synonymouse Reply:

    The Tea Party is a nascent different party. It is our FN.

    Lewellan Reply:

    Define F N. Whatever. Cruickshank and those who heap blame upon Tea Party activist are disregarding the affect of Republican Party leadership upon Tea Party constituents. Why are 200mph HSR advocados (LOL “advocados”) distracted from more pressing concerns, Rail Impact, Cost, practical implementation, station area development interests proposing McMansion housing compounds otherwise considered car-dependent SPRAWL over suffering hillsides and roadway runoff toxins killing salmon, trout, waterfowl. Take from a frequent rider: Go Talgo. Made in USA. Wisconsin. Boot Bombardier. Devote more electricity to local transit lines, like yeah, right? (^;

    Lewellan Reply:

    Finishing that last sentense intelligably.

    Question: Why are 200mph HSR advocates distracted from much more pressing concerns? Rail impacts, cost, practical implementation, station area development of McMansion housing compounds, also considered car-dependent SPRAWL obliterating hillsides, with roadway runoff toxins harming salmon, trout, waterfowl, streamside marsh and vegetation habitat.
    Take itfrom a frequent rider:
    Go Talgo. Made in USA. Wisconsin. Boot Bombardier.
    Devote 200mph electricity to local transit?
    Or, boo hoo, pwetty pweese, I want a gold-pwated weally fast twain.

    Joe Reply:

    We are not distracted. This is the CAHSR blog.

    You might do better on a different blog if discourse on other topics was your goal.

    Alas here is where you choose to troll.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    Bombardier makes things in the US.

    http://us.bombardier.com/us/about_bombardier_in_country.html

    A lot more than Talgo has.

  11. Keith Saggers
    Jan 1st, 2014 at 11:11
    #11

    For planning purposes, operating scenarios have been developed for 2020 for up to 11 trains operating on the first construction section of the IOS at speeds up to 125 mph. These planning scenarios include up to 6 trains operating on the current BNSF route that would stop at the existing Hanford, Corcoran, and Wasco Amtrak stations. Madera is the terminus for 5 of these trains, and Oakland is the terminus for the sixth train. The range of service levels included in the initial operating scenarios is summarized in Chapter 10. These service levels are studied in the San Joaquin SDP

    State Rail Plan

  12. Jos Callinet
    Jan 1st, 2014 at 14:19
    #12

    As 2014 begins, all that any of us can do is watch as the CAHSR drama inexorably plays itself out – as the fates shall have it.

    We await the final verdict.

    synonymouse Reply:

    I was convinced PB’s jedi mind tricks would work on the Judge.

  13. Emmanuel
    Jan 1st, 2014 at 18:51
    #13

    Maybe we can get something done this year.

  14. Stephen Smith
    Jan 1st, 2014 at 22:57
    #14

    Totally off-topic, but Gene Skoropowski (formerly of Capitol Corridor fame, now at All Aboard Florida) is on the invite list to the Transportation Research Board’s annual DMU subcommittee meeting. Alternative (i.e., non-FRA) compliance is on the agenda. Might AAF be considering it? (DMUs generally, but specifically alt compliant, cuz I can’t seem them buying an FRA-compliant vehicle if they’re going with a DMU.) Since there are only four stops the faster accel/deceleration wouldn’t be as valuable as it would be for an FEC commuter service, but there are other reason to prefer European equipment.

    Brian_FL Reply:

    Stephen,

    The answer to your question is a somewhat definite yes. According to what I have heard, the reason AAF has been slow to announce their train set manufacturer (about a year behind schedule) is that they have been in talks with the FRA over this exact issue through most of 2013. They resolved the buy American rules issue somehow last summer. The latest from AAF is that they will announce the details “sometime in 2014″.

    Stephen Smith Reply:

    Brian_FL – email me! Please! smithsj@gmail.com

  15. jimsf
    Jan 1st, 2014 at 23:24
    #15

    I’ve lost track. Is there a map, preferably a google map, of the merced fresno and fresno bakersfield alignments… have the final choices been made or are we still looking at various alternatives?

    jimsf Reply:

    There’s a lot of construction where the 99 and the hsr alignment cross the river into fresno county. They are either widening or realigning the bridges and I wonder where the hsr bridge will be. Between the existing rail bridge and the 99 bridge?

    datacruncher Reply:

    The HSR bridge over the San Joaquin River will be to the east of the UPRR bridge. But drawings I have seen show the HSR bridge crossing the river at a high elevation than the UP. That means the HSR bridge will likely be fully visible from 99 viewed over the UP bridge.

    That current construction near the river in Fresno County is part of the widening of 99 to 6 lanes from Sac to the Grapevine. The work you saw now will create a 6 lane corridor from Herndon Ave in Fresno to Avenue 7 in Madera County while also replacing old bridges. It finishes the widening of 99 to 6 lanes thru Fresno County.

    jimsf Reply:

    OK thanks. Yes I drive the 99 often from sac to visalia. there is work going on all over the place.

    There is also now, with the construction of entirely new freeway row from merced to chowchilla, ample room for the hsr row from merced to the wye without needing to get row from UP. I would think this will make things easier. The merced fresno alignment shows a 99 alignment with not other options between merced and chowchilla. The stretches of abandoned old highway row have been taken out of use. not being used as access.

    Eric Reply:

    “I’ve lost track.”

    No pun intended.

  16. jimsf
    Jan 1st, 2014 at 23:32
    #16

    and off topic but looking at these wye choices makes me cross eyed. Is one more preferable than the other?

    I mean there is a plan to upgrade the 152 to some kind of official corridor and if that’s the case doesn’t it make the most sense coordinate with hsr and build an integrated corridor rather then run hsr through farmland in a new row?

  17. Peter Baldo
    Jan 4th, 2014 at 07:26
    #17

    The New York Times had an article yesterday about raising the deck on the Bayonne Bridge.
    http://www.nytimes.com/2014/01/03/nyregion/long-review-of-bayonne-bridge-project-is-assailed.html?_r=0
    Another example of how steps to achieve a public goal – criminal justice, defense, education, environmental protection in this case – create an industry living off the process. Eventually the welfare of this industry becomes the goal, rather than the original public goal. This is particularly bad when the best interest of the industry does not align with the public interest.

    synonymouse Reply:

    The Bay Bridge way beats that.

    Patronage and padding stomps environmental.

    Richard Mlynarik Reply:

    This is even more relevant, from the same edition of the NYT:
    http://www.nytimes.com/2014/01/04/opinion/an-error-message-for-the-poor.html

    Private rent-seeking sleazebag welfare-sucking contractor sleazebags get billions, delver far worse than nothing. The public, and the poor especially, get fucked. The money flows uphill relentlessly. landing huge government contracts is about controlling the process, excluding competition, and buying influence: project delivery is not only entirely beside the point, but would result in much lower profits.

    Happy new year! Same as the old year!

    joe Reply:

    First off ACA isn’t worse than nothing.

    This NYT commentary from Michael Moore is most relevant. It’s an adult perspective describing the current system we have and its many problems AND acknowledging when this problematic system with imperfection is still helping people.

    http://www.nytimes.com/2014/01/01/opinion/moore-the-obamacare-we-deserve.html

    And yet — I would be remiss if I didn’t say this — Obamacare is a godsend. My friend Donna Smith, who was forced to move into her daughter’s spare room at age 52 because health problems bankrupted her and her husband, Larry, now has cancer again. As she undergoes treatment, at least she won’t be in terror of losing coverage and becoming uninsurable. Under Obamacare, her premium has been cut in half, to $456 per month.

    Let’s not take a victory lap yet, but build on what there is to get what we deserve: universal quality health care.

    That’s Michael Moore.

    Richard Mlynarik Reply:

    A new year, and “Joe” still has the reading comprehension of a two year old!

    joe Reply:

    You wrote:

    This is even more relevant, from the same edition of the NYT:
    http://www.nytimes.com/2014/01/04/opinion/an-error-message-for-the-poor.html

    Private rent-seeking sleaze bag welfare-sucking contractor sleaze bags get billions, delver far worse than nothing.

    And you linked to…first paragraph

    WASHINGTON — MORE than two million people have signed up for health insurance coverage under the Affordable Care Act, a tribute to the effectiveness of the “tech surge” the Obama administration deployed to overcome the highly publicized problems with HealthCare.gov that emerged in October.


    Properly supervised contractors can use technology to improve the delivery of government services. But attention, oversight and willingness to act decisively to remedy fiascoes seem to depend on the wealth and clout of those who are affected. As Obamacare regains its footing, that lesson shouldn’t be forgotten.

    last paragraph.

    I have a reading comprehension problem – I read what you write and can’t comprehend why you insist on exaggerating to the point of lying.

    Paul Dyson Reply:

    2014, the year of being nice….

    Joey Reply:

    Richards point was specifically about the implementation of healthcare.gov, not the provisions of ACA itself.

    Paul Dyson Reply:

    People read what they want to see, fire a salvo accordingly, mostly sink friendly ships.

    joe Reply:

    What did you see Paul?

    joe Reply:

    Private rent-seeking sleazebag welfare-sucking contractor sleazebags get billions, delver [sic] far worse than nothing.

    That is False.
    We would not be better off than if the contractor had did nothing. Certainly the uninsured in non- participating states are much better off with the website than not.

    It’s not even historically consistent with expectations from other large government programs. They all have problems.

    A major screw-up is the arrogance of the Govt’ from Obama down that they would nail this on day one.

    Joey Reply:

    It’s not even historically consistent with expectations from other large government programs. They all have problems.

    Absolutely. This type of failure is entirely typical of our government contracting processes. Rather than use a simple, proven, off-the-shelf solution, we develop our own which is more expensive and less functuonal *coughCBOSScough*

    joe Reply:

    What off the shelf solution? You’re guessing and bluffing — I don’t know that they didn’t try to use commercial packages – not that piecing commercial products together works. That does;t solve the contracting process problems either.

    Here’s my guess:

    0. The system is opposed by a major political party and shut down the gov’t to stop it on day one. Any problem is going to blow up – we have a controversy about evolution and climate change in the news media. The media is going to exaggerate the problems and has exaggerated them.

    1. There’s plenty of evidence the contractor a team with an unusually high number of past problems. The Gov’t failed to monitor the project proportional to the stakes involved. Failed to get info about the likelihood of problems and STFU about these high expectations.

    2. It is obvious that that ANY system from ANY private or public company of this complexity (36 States and multiple, balkanized insurance companies) would have problems. Any system interfacing with legacy databases and system on day one would have problems with a large number of desperate people needing insurance an dining on the site.

    3. They lacked the testing to assure sit would work or roll out gradually from one state to more states. The Gov’t failed here to see they had schedule problems and testing end-toend was inadequate.

    4. The Gov’t failed to plan for boycotting the system. The scope of the system grew to 36 states. There were Govt’ expectations more States would implement they own website. Site requirements increased and did so later in the process. It was a bad decision by the government at the highest levels to not plan for worse case and “waste” money if it was over sized.

    The article Richard cites lays blame on the foot of the Feds for the oversight and that’s right. The contractor’s grown to fast, absorbed bad companies and rebranded them. They needed to be over seen better.

    As of today, 1.1 million people signed up on this site. That’s certainly better that it exists than if it had not been implemented.

    jonathan Reply:

    Joe,

    Joey is referring to a problem of “NIH”in government-contracting process generally, and specifically to *CBOSS*. You respond with an overlydetailed *guess* about the implementation of healthcare.gov.

    Joe, please try answering Joey’s point about *CBOSS*.

    joe Reply:

    I have reading comprehension problems so bear with me.
    Richard’s article is centered on ACA – Health Care. We are certainly better off with the site than without it.
    Richard has run away and will not explain what my mistake was. He’s too busy I suppose.

    Private rent-seeking sleazebag welfare-sucking contractor sleazebags get billions, delver far worse than nothing. The public, and the poor especially, get fucked. The money flows uphill relentlessly. landing huge government contracts is about controlling the process, excluding competition, and buying influence: project delivery is not only entirely beside the point, but would result in much lower profits.

    Joey’s telling me Richard really meant the Healthcare.gov site.

    Richards point was specifically about the implementation of healthcare.gov, not the provisions of ACA itself.

    I don’t see any suggestion of that in the NYTimes article – contractors don’t use Off the Shelf software and systems. What they did with ACA is unknown. Critics says Contractors need oversight. I agree but that’s not Richard’s point we be better off with nothing.

    Now it’s CBOSS. How the hell we get to CBOSS from the NYTimes article on ACA and federal contractor oversight escapes me because I have reading comprehension problems.

    Maybe if Richard linked to CBOSS — I’m at a disadvantage by actually reading what he linked to and not interpreting him.

    jonathan Reply:

    Joe,

    I have reading comprehension problems so bear with me.
    Richard’s article is centered on ACA – Health Care. We are certainly better off with the site than without it.

    Joe, since you still don’t see your mistakes, here they in simple words.
    First, Richard commented on the *contractor implementation(* of the web-site heathcare.gov. You responded with a off-point reply focusing on the *legislation* of the Affordable Care Act.
    Ignoring Richard’s trademark hyperbole for now, you *misread Richard’s point*.

    Second, Joey commented on the Not-Invented-Here problem with government contracting in general (CBOSS; BART itself comes to mind), and gives CBOSS as an example. Then you respond — again, totally off-point — with a made-up-in-Joe’s-head scenario about the implementation of healthcare.gov — when Joey is talking about *CBOSS*.

    Joey wrote:

    Absolutely. This type of failure is entirely typical of our government contracting processes. Rather than use a simple, proven, off-the-shelf solution, we develop our own which is more expensive and less functuonal *coughCBOSScough*

    See that, Joe? Government contracting processes. Government contracting processes. CBOSS. CBOSS. Not healthcare.gov.

    joe Reply:

    Joe, since you still don’t see your mistakes, here they in simple words.
    First, Richard commented on the *contractor implementation(* of the web-site heathcare.gov. You responded with a off-point reply focusing on the *legislation* of the Affordable Care Act.
    Ignoring Richard’s trademark hyperbole for now, you *misread Richard’s point*.

    Thanks for the help. I have to selectively ignore what Richard writes to understand him. I agree – One does have to edit his commentary to remove errors, omissions and lying by exaggerations.

    Joey wrote about the healthcare.gov web site. Not Invented Here has nothing to do with the one of a kind ACA site. Nothing at all.

    CBOSS is a non-sequitur to the entire thread. Just talk write about CBOSS next time for goodness sakes.

    jonathan Reply:

    Joey wrote about the healthcare.gov web site. Not Invented Here has nothing to do with the one of a kind ACA site. Nothing at all.

    No, Joe. Joey wrote about NIH in overnment contracting processes Joey gave coughCBOSScough as an example. Here is the quote, again

    Once more, in slow motion. You, Joe, wrote this:

    [...] It’s not even historically consistent with expectations from other large government programs. They all have problems. [...]

    Joey quoted exactly that piece, and responded with:

    Absolutely. This type of failure is entirely typical of our government contracting processes. Rather than use a simple, proven, off-the-shelf solution, we develop our own which is more expensive and less functuonal *coughCBOSScough*

    See? “government contracting process”. Note that *you* were the one who introduced other government programs and their teething-troubles/failures. Not Joey.

    Got that now?

    joe Reply:

    Joey Reply:
    January 4th, 2014 at 5:09 pm

    Richards point was specifically about the implementation of healthcare.gov, not the provisions of ACA itself.

    joe Reply:

    CBOSS Page 8

    Here’s how to go after CBOSS – look at the reports.
    All Green. No Issues. Yet they are slipping. Look at just schedule.

    Report is beginning 4Q FY 2013 (July-Sept 2013)
    http://www.caltrain.com/Assets/_Finance/Quarterly+Capital+Program+Status+Report/JPB/FY13_Q4_PCJPB_Quarterly_Report.pdf

    and now the report beginning 1Q FY 2014 (Oct-Dec 2013)

    http://www.caltrain.com/Assets/_Finance/Quarterly+Capital+Program+Status+Report/JPB/FY14_Q1_PCJPB_Quarterly_Report+_revised.pdf

    Page 8.

    Look at the slippage in the Critical design. Changes too – they were doing critical design work prior to Preliminary design finishing. Slippage of work into end of 1st Q.

    Demonstration and Acceptance Testing extends from March into mid-June.

    Next report Q2 FY14 is due in January. Will it slip further?

  18. Keith Saggers
    Jan 5th, 2014 at 13:37
    #18

    TURKEY: Marmaray Tunnel

    Guests at the opening of the ‘project of the century’ included Romanian Prime Minister Victor Ponta and Somalian President Hasan Sheikh Mahmud. Also present was Prime Minister Shinzo Abe from major funding partner Japan, who ambitiously suggested that the line could one day form part of a rail route from Tokyo to Istanbul and London.

    Railway Gazette
    October 2013

    Alon Levy Reply:

    Surely he means “from Beijing to Istanbul and London.” Unless he has a secret plan to invade both Koreas and build a Shinkansen tunnel to Korea.

Comments are closed.