Is Cap-and-Trade California HSR’s Savior?

Dec 3rd, 2013 | Posted by

The Tea Party, including Republican representatives from the Central Valley, are adamantly opposed to new federal funding for high speed rail. Hell, they’d love to take back existing federal funding for it. This has important consequences in California, where an expected federal contribution in the tens of billions of dollars was being counted on to help build HSR. That was plausible in 2009 and 2010 when President Barack Obama and a Democratic Congress were debating how much the federal government should spend on HSR, rather than whether we should spend. But until the Tea Party is tossed from power, we cannot expect any more federal funds. Who knows when that will happen.

Judge Michael Kenny’s ruling last week requires the California High Speed Rail Authority to revise its financing plan to identify sources of revenue. This should be seen as an opportunity to address the Tea Party problem and for California to begin funding HSR itself, without being dependent on the whims of extremists in Congress. To some degree a California-only plan would be a win for the Tea Party, but it’s a small price to pay to help address the economic, energy, and environmental problems that HSR will help solve.

The place to begin in with SPUR’s July 2012 proposal Getting High Speed Rail On Track, which laid out a detailed and reasonable plan to fund the cost of bullet trains from San Francisco to Los Angeles:

We in California can still build high-speed rail by relying on a combination of road tolls, vehicle license fees, gas taxes, regional general obligation bonds, value capture mechanisms and revenues from the state’s cap-and-trade auctions. These local sources yield more than $2.7 billion annually. Over the 20-year construction of the high-speed rail system, these sources could replace the entirety of the expected $38.3 billion federal investment. In addition, they could also replace the current unspecified $5 billion from additional local, state and private sources….

Our assumptions are as follows:

• An increase in the gas tax of 6 cents per gallon for 20 years
• Road tolls of $4 per vehicle on six highways that parallel high-speed rail as it enters the Bay Area and Southern California
• An $8.50 increase in the annual vehicle license fee (VLF) for 20 years
• A regional general obligation bond for green power for Caltrain and BART that also includes $1 billion for electrification and grade separation
• $13 billion from the annual state cap-and-trade auction revenues until 2020
• Various value capture tools (impact fee, tax increment, Mello Roos district) at five high-speed rail stations

And a handy image comparing their plan to the 2012 Business Plan:

When I wrote about this back in 2012 I suggested that not only were these good ideas, that we can and should expand them to fund other rail needs as well, sort of like how Props 111 and 116 in 1990 funded a wide range of transportation projects. That still stands today.

All of these are good ideas. But I want to focus today on one of them: the cap-and-trade revenues.

SPUR’s plan includes a total of $13 billion from cap-and-trade between now and 2020. It’s the second largest sum of their California-only plan, after a higher gas tax. The revenues are already coming in, so it is also one of the easiest sources of money to tap, along with one of the largest.

So far California has raised $1.4 billion in cap-and-trade revenues. The auctions held in 2013 were very successful – all allowances are now selling out, with multiple bids per allowance, and with the markets seeing the process as stable, familiar, and reasonable. The system already survived a challenge at the November 2010 election, so it isn’t going away.

If we assume there’s no increase in the revenues from these auctions (and the whole point is that there is an increase, since the purpose is to reduce carbon emissions by reducing the number of permits available) that means California will have raised $9.8 billion from cap-and-trade between by 2020. Not all of that will be available for HSR. If HSR got $500 million per year, a sum Governor Jerry Brown has already suggested, that’s $3.5 billion by 2020 and $8.5 billion by 2030. That’s not so far off the SPUR goal of $13 billion.

But we don’t have to assume a static number. One could budget for an increase in overall cap-and-trade revenue over the next 16 years and then devote an increasing amount of funds to HSR from that growing pie. In other words, you could budget $500 million a year now, $750 million by 2017, $1 billion by 2020, and $1.5 billion by 2023. Those numbers are off the top of my head, but you see where I’m going here. Under that plan you would definitely reach a total of $13 billion for HSR by 2030.

This is exactly the same way the state budgets everything else it funds, estimating annual increases in revenues and using that to pay for ongoing services, so it would be much more difficult for anti-HSR forces to try to undermine this in court. The cap-and-trade revenues must be spent on projects that reduce carbon emissions, and HSR is certainly one of them.

Using cap-and-trade funds for HSR has precedent and broad support. The California Air Resources Board, which oversees the cap-and-trade auctions and the implementation of AB 32, has already voted to support using revenues on HSR, among other things. Metro also indicated its support for using cap-and-trade revenues for rail, bringing the political weight of Los Angeles County local governments behind the concept. The HSR advocacy group Californians For High Speed Rail has long supported the idea.

The whole SPUR list of proposed funding sources deserves discussion and, in my view, support. I’ll talk more about each of them in the coming days and weeks. But the cap-and-trade revenues are the revenues that can most easily plug the hole created by the Tea Party’s attack on passenger rail, as well as satisfy Judge Kenny. I would not be surprised to see cap-and-trade revenues become part of the CHSRA’s plan going forward, and that is something we should encourage and support.

  1. morris brown
    Dec 3rd, 2013 at 16:42
    #1

    A very well informed person has asked me to post this viewpoint:

    ————-

    There have always been at least two “Achilles Heels” to building a high-speed system in California. Each has either been proven or will be proven in Part Two of Tos, Fukuda and Kings County vs. the Authority. They are:

    That the arrogance or incompetence (or both) of the Authority’s officials in the conduct or the project would lead to breaking one or more laws. This is the essence of Judge Kenny’s November 25th rulings on the Authority having abused its power when it had only 20% ($6 Billion) of the $31.5 Billion to build the Initial Operating System (IOS), and having only 28 of the IOS’ 300 miles environmentally certified.

    That the promises made to California’s voters in 2008 were really part of a “bait and switch” strategy, about a high-speed rail system between LA and SF’s downtowns. Six promises include: one-way ticket prices (were “about $50’ and are now $81), 160 minutes between the two metropolitan centers (impossible, and more so with the Blended System), that capital costs would be $33 Billion (became $117 Billion by November 2011), that a one-seat ride between LA and SF would be available by 2020 (not 2029 as now promised), and that no operating subsidy would be required (contradicts worldwide experience).

    The Authority and Governor can make the choice to ‘save face’ now based on the first “Achilles Heel” and hopefully bring back high-speed rail later. Or they can wait until each of the six promises are shown to have been hollow, with the result that no politician will touch the concept of a profitable high-speed rail system in California for another decade or more.

    This is a bitter choice for high-speed rail advocates. Nothing can save the project from the Authority’s having broken the law on Part One’s two counts. But the quicker proponents get the slate cleaned of false promises, the quicker an honestly presented opportunity for a statewide high-speed rail program can be brought back to the voters.

    joe Reply:

    Hey Morris I have some bullshit to spread, can you post it?

    Turd 1:

    This is the essence of Judge Kenny’s November 25th rulings on the Authority having abused its power when it had only 20% ($6 Billion) of the $31.5 Billion to build the Initial Operating System (IOS), and having only 28 of the IOS’ 300 miles environmentally certified.

    IOS appears nowhere in prop1a. The Prop refers to corridors and/or useable segments.

    Turd 2:

    That the promises made to California’s voters in 2008 were really part of a “bait and switch” strategy, about a high-speed rail system between LA and SF’s downtowns.

    Prop1a discusses many city pairs and was not and is not a SF to LA system. Some of these city pairs and connections in prop1a are substantially important and are called corridors. A useable segment is a section of the system with two stations.

    Turd 3:

    The Authority and Governor can make the choice to ‘save face’ now based on the first “Achilles Heel” and hopefully bring back high-speed rail later.

    Babble – “save face” has no meaning whatsoever.

    Gov Brown’s won election on HSR platform and crushed the billionaire HSR opponent. Prop30 passed despite critics assuring the HSR funding would drag it down. CA has a surplus despite claims we are broke (we are running surpluses) and HSR is bankrupting CA (it brings in billions in federal stimulus).

    Turd 3:

    This is a bitter choice for high-speed rail advocates.

    Wrote the bitter little man.

    CaliforniaDefender Reply:

    Looks like you don’t need any help from morris in spreading your b.s.

    So answer these questions:
    - Why does the 2012 Business Plan refer to the IOS-south as a “usable segment” if only a section with two stations are required?
    - Doesn’t a usable segment have to be a portion of HSR that could actually and effectively deliver HSR service (i.e., connect the CV to a metropolitan area)?
    - Didn’t the CHSRA Board acknowledge this when they adopted Resolution #HSRA11-22 in November 2011 and submitted their funding plan to the legislature (see http://www.hsr.ca.gov/docs/about/funding_finance/Funding_Plan_2011.pdf)?

    Joe Reply:

    A useable segment need only have two stations but can have more.
    You have simply recognized the solution to comply with funding, simplify the useable segment to two stations.

    A useable segment need only contain two stations. There is ample money to bud between the Fresno and handford station. The segment “can” support service. No shall or must is in the text.

    The judge ruled Nov 25th 2013 and these changes I mention show how to comply with a worse case interpretation of what the useable segment, fully funded needs.

    Thanks for asking and I hope this helps.

    Resident Reply:

    Joe didn’t answer your question of WHY the CHSRA business plan defined the IOS South as the “Usable Segment”. I will.
    Because Prop 1A also outlaws operating subsidy. So any usable segment they may wish to propose for funding must also provide a ridership study to prove ridership and revenue that supports operation on that proposed usable segment without subsidy. Any usable segment that could hope to self support without subsidy would have to attract significant ridership that must logically connect population centers of some significance. Hanford wouldn’t cut it, although it would be interesting to see the math that results in break even operation between Fresno and Hanford – ridership/revenue/ticket cost/train frequency, operating costs… Now that would be an interesting little piece of work/gymnastics.

    Perhaps CHSRA did that math for the business plan, … (LOL… I know! I just spit beer up my nose too…)

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    Usable segment has two stations. The part about two stations doesn’t have anything about trains or passengers or subsidies.

    John Nachtigall Reply:

    Yes…yes it does…it also includes requirements to include power systems. Simply put, a useable segment is not just 2 stations

    (A)
    construction of the corridor or usable segment thereof can be
    completed as proposed in the plan submitted pursuant to paragraph
    (1), (B) if so completed, the corridor or usable segment thereof
    would be suitable and ready for high-speed train operation, (C) upon
    completion, one or more passenger service providers can begin using
    the tracks or stations for passenger train service, (D) the planned
    passenger train service to be provided by the authority, or pursuant
    to its authority, will not require operating subsidy, and

    ……

    (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

    Simply put, the original 29 miles ain’t going to do it

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    so you are back to arguing that everything has to erupt instantaneously from the bosom of the earth as as trains filled with revenue generating passengers glide down from the sky…

    Resident Reply:

    No dear, just a usable segment, and they have to show the plan and the funding commitment, and the environmental clearances, the ridership analysis, the revenue stream…. just what AB3034 says. Just like they wrote it hun. Now remember, they wrote it, opponents didn’t write it. If you don’t like what they wrote, maybe you ought to take it up with them.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    I suppose in your spare time you like to argue how many angels can dance on the head of a pin too.
    If the legislature had intended for everything to erupt from mother earth all at once they would have written the legislation that way. They defined “usable” as having two stations. Nothing about trains or electricity or signals or renting space to Starbucks. I know this may come as shock to you but there are lawyers in this world who will gladly bill by the hour even if they think your chances of winning are low. Judges will realize that it cannot erupt in a twinkling of an eye all at once and take that into consideration, that things may not happen in the sequence you imagine they have to occur.

    John Nachtigall Reply:

    the legislature didnt write this…HSR supporters wrote it.

    And for the 49383th time, it doesnt have to be build instantly, just have the money beforehand (and a plan to run with no subsidies, and power systems, and rolling stock, etc.)

    I quoted you the sections from the law that provide the ADDITIONAL requiquirements to the 2 stations.

    And a judge already ruled against you. The judge ruled you needed all the money.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    And for the 49383th time if the Legislature had intended “usable” to mean two stations, trains, electrification signals a Starbucks next to the TVMs and parking garages with whipped cream and a cherry on top they would have specified that. They didn’t they defined usable as two stations.

    John Nachtigall Reply:

    They did specify that…why do you refuse to read those sections.

    includes, but is not limited to, the following components: right-of-way, track,
    power system, rolling stock, stations, and associated facilities.

    and

    the planned passenger train service to be provided by the authority, or pursuant
    to its authority, will not require operating subsidy, and

    yes, it also includes the requirement for 2 stations….it is ADDITIVE. they have to meet them ALL.

    Its clearly in the law.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    We see what the judge says. The parts you insist must be included are part of an HSR system which is different than a usable one.

    Resident Reply:

    Specifically. Clearly. Slowly. Repeatedly. Its all defined very clearly in the law:

    They define a Usable segment, as “a portion OF A CORRIDOR that contains at least two stations.”

    And A CORRIDOR is also defined in the law as “A PORTION OF A HIGH SPEED TRAIN SYSTEM”

    And A HIGH SPEED TRAIN SYSTEM is also defined in the law as
    “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.”

    This is all in 2704.01 (e), (f), and (g).

    So putting these together very clearly, very simply, in very plain english defines a Usable segment as a a corridor of a high speed train system, including right of way, track, power system, rolling stock stations, and associated facilities, that includes at least two stations.

    Elizabeth Reply:

    What???? Laws are written via definitions

    usable –> portion of corridor with two or more stations
    corridor –> one of a list of specific routes with a high speed rail train system
    high speed rail system –> hsr trains + power system + facilities + stations
    hsr train –> electrified trains that can go 200 mph in revenue service

    thus usable segment means two stations with fast electric trains + electrification + stations + maintenance facilities etc it means a real live hsr service

    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.

    The high-speed train system to be constructed pursuant
    to this chapter shall be designed to achieve the following
    characteristics:
    Electric trains that are capable of sustained maximum revenue
    operating speeds of no less than 200 miles per hour.

    John Nachtigall Reply:

    The parts you insist must be included are part of an HSR system which is different than a usable one.

    ???

    What are the building if not an HSR system??? Is it a non-HSR system??? Is it a frieght rail system???

    These provisions were SPECIFICALLY included in the law to SPECIFICALLY prevent the building of a segment that was not HSR. This was not a mistake, they (the authors) did this on purpose

    joe Reply:

    “Electric trains that are capable of sustained maximum revenue operating speeds of no less than 200 miles per hour.”

    Capable. Like these

    But that’s not stopping the California High-Speed Rail Authority, in conjunction with Amtrak, from shopping around for the best deal on multimillion-dollar trains to roll on their proposed high-speed lines — in California between San Francisco and Los Angeles through the San Joaquin Valley, and Amtrak’s Acela service between Boston and Washington, D.C.

    Together, the two agencies are preparing to ask for bids in coming weeks from manufacturers to build between 50 and 60 train sets capable of carrying passengers at speeds up to 220 mph.

    http://www.fresnobee.com/2013/11/30/3639882/bullet-train-biz-government-rules.html#storylink=cpy

    The trains will be capable. The track capable.
    I can see critics will demand they build electrified track and if required, they will.

    If you parse the Proposition they are not required run service. They can show a plan to run a train on that short segment and if necessary they can even run a train and sell tickets without subsidy for that train. I’ll buy one. That will be test run and it will comply with the law.

    God help the peninsula because they will build a 4 tack super system if critics continue to attack blended and demand this strict adherence. It’s the law and they are going to build this system. The peninsula needs the capacity. Lot of luck with property values for those near the track. The state will remember the lawsuits and opposition comes for the very area impacted by strict adherence.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    Then you all agree that it has to erupt all at once or it doesn’t meet the law. I doubt that was the legislature’s intent and doubt a judge will accept that as an argument. If they build so that two stations are complete by 2017 and the electrification doesn’t happen until 2028 that’s okay. Or you are back to arguing it has to magically appear all at once in an instant.

    Resident Reply:

    I’m sorry, show me the part in the in the law that says ‘erupt all at once’? Or the part where anyone has made this claim? You seem to be the only one claiming that.

    You may want to have your glasses checked, lay off the vodka, or better yet see a doctor, you seem to be having some kind of stroke or something that is preventing you from understanding simple english.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    Well if it can’t have electrification ten years after the track is laid it can’t have electrification ten months after the tracks are laid or ten days. It all has to simultaneously be in place all at once. If it can be ten days why can’t it be ten months or ten years?

    John Nachtigall Reply:

    Joe, the current plan does not build electrified track. It is really quite easy to comply with the law

    1. Identify a section long enough to operate without subsidy. It must have at least 2 stations, power systems, etc.
    2. Obtain funding for said section
    3. Obtain EIR for said section
    4. Build said section over the course of many years (not erupt from earth).
    5. Put said section into service
    6. Operate without subsidy

    It’s not complicated. They put theses sections in the law on purpose. This is not about technicalities, it was the original intent and it was used to sell the law during the election. It is not strict adherence, it was always the intent

    John Nachtigall Reply:

    BTW. Why are you still arguing this. The judge already ruled this was the proper interpretation,of the law. Unless they appeal this matter is settled

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    which of the 9465 lawsuits and not yet appealed?
    If it’s gonna make you happy they can pencil in “power system, to be installed in 2053″ hovering over the parking lot.

    John Nachtigall Reply:

    Read these words carefully

    (1), (B) if so completed, the corridor or usable segment thereof
    would be suitable and ready for high-speed train operation

    Now explain how a usable segment would be ready for High speed train operation without power systems.

    This is all clearly delineated in the law and was specifically put there. The judge ruled on the money and EIR part already. You can believe what you want, but you are wrong

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    Where does it say a usable segement is an HSR segement? If the legislature had intended that they could have written that.

    Joe Reply:

    Useable segments would be nice if they were longer but by god if we have to follow prop1a then we will and build smaller, complete segments with money in hand.

    Literally, prop1a says when completed the segment “can” run service, not must or shall. That means in the worse case scenario, they will not be able to run service.

    Of course the same people who demand strict adherence will complain when strictly followed.
    These will be the same people who will ride HSR and complain about the food service.

    Californians are pretty good at figuring out bullshit obstructionism. If Caltrain electrification is Klee, CARRD is going be very popular.

    Resident Reply:

    Agree, the folks that the Californian politicians/developers/unions carted in to draft up Prop 1A did a FANTASTIC job of obstructing their own billion dollar scheme.

    Joe Reply:

    Oh you should put that quip on a bumper sticker next to your Romney Ryan sticker. It’s a winner.
    Pay prow don’t think like you which is why you’re complaining so much.

    John Nachtigall Reply:

    It says you “can” run service so maybe you are right and it is optional.

    But It says the service “must not require subsidy”.

    So how do you plan on maintaining 29 miles of track with no service and no subsidy? In my experience even mothball maintenance requires money. Especially since you have to have power systems (see quote from law above). You at least have to put guards out there to keep them from stealing the copper

    In short, you need a segment with enough length to support service with no subsidy

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    You at least have to put guards out there to keep them from stealing the copper

    That’s why on Planet Earth rational people wouldn’t put it out there until it’s needed.

    John Nachtigall Reply:

    then why did they write the law that way. I didn’t write the law. Opponents didn’t write the law. The Tea party didn’t write the law

    Why did supporters put in that very specific language if it was not meant to be followed???

    John Nachtigall Reply:

    fine…If you can build a 29 mile segnement with HSR trains, power systems, 2 stations, and dont require subsidies then go for it.

    Resident Reply:

    Well guys, if you’d read and understand AB3034 we’d all save a lot of time on your bullshit, We’ve been through this many times already, and we were just proven absolutely right in a court of law on the demands of section 2704.08, but for old times sake, and because it Christmas/Hanuka, will copy in for you the following bit that describes what the authority must provide at submission of their funding plan for proposed Usable Segment (specific to THAT USABLE SEGMENT PROPOSED)…
    “…(2) a
    report or reports, prepared by one or more financial services firms,
    financial consulting firms, or other consultants, independent of any
    parties, other than the authority, involved in funding or
    constructing the high-speed train system, indicating that (A)
    construction of the corridor or usable segment thereof can be
    completed as proposed in the plan submitted pursuant to paragraph
    (1), (B) if so completed, the corridor or usable segment thereof
    would be suitable and ready for high-speed train operation, (C) upon
    completion, one or more passenger service providers can begin using
    the tracks or stations for passenger train service, (D) the planned
    passenger train service to be provided by the authority, or pursuant
    to its authority, will not require operating subsidy, and ….” blah blah blah

    Note here – no one says they have to actually start operating, just that the planned usable segment can support in someone’s wildest fantasy these requirements

    (with a judge then to decide how far up their asses their heads are)

    By they way ‘money in hand’. You don’t have money in hand for a usable segment no matter how small – because they haven’t yet included the full HST operational in their funded plan. (Electrification, trains, etc)

    Joe Reply:

    “By they way ‘money in hand’. You don’t have money in hand for a usable segment no matter how small – because they haven’t yet included the full HST operational in their funded plan. (Electrification, trains, etc)”

    There are 6 billion dollars.

    (1)(c) and (1)(d) do not require CAHSRA begin service.

    Resident Reply:

    That’s what I said – do not require the service begin, but requires that they certify it is able to begin satisfying all these circumstances.

    There are 6 Billion dollars which does not cover all that would be required to complete the system for that segment.

    Joe Reply:

    You wrote they must modify the plan to show it can be completed.

    Fresno to Hanford is about 40 miles. I think 6 b is enough. How many billions are they short?

    As for showing viable service without subsidy, propose a scenario where they to run a showcase test train for the public fanboys and girls. Sell food and drinks. Run once a month on a the first Sat provided all tickets are sold. No subsidy. They can make it round trip from Fresno. No subsidy and no disembark in kings county. That meets the letter of the law in minimum case and money spent in Kings Co.

    John Nachtigall Reply:

    good luck with that. Charging $1000 a seat once a month to go nowhere is going to be real interesting.

    Good news is the trip will be real quick using the HSR trainsets

    Joe Reply:

    “- Doesn’t a usable segment have to be a portion of HSR that could actually and effectively deliver HSR service (i.e., connect the CV to a metropolitan area)?”

    No.

    In fact prop1a prioritized the shorter, easy to build segments. As a prop1a Jedi you probably knew this was a fav icy and were testing me.

    Joe Reply:

    Fav icy = Fallacy

  2. Paul Druce
    Dec 3rd, 2013 at 17:00
    #2

    High speed rail is horribly shitty for trying to deal with emissions, it should under no circumstances be allowed to receive cap and trade money. Electrification and similar service improvements of Caltrain, Metrolink, Coaster, and freight lines should be the only heavy rail recipients of cap and trade funds and even then they should be a lower priority than expanding bus service with electric buses or expanding the network of electric car chargers.

    jimsf Reply:

    hsr has nothing to do with emmissions that nobody cares about anyway. its about giving californians easy fast access to their regions and each other. its a luxury in a sense but one californians will adapt quckly too and will love dearly.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    If nobody cares about emissions, why have a cap-and-trade system anyway?

    jimsf Reply:

    well no doubt some agency decided it was a way to make money. im not against that. but californians are not all giddy about ” ooo im riding a train that reduces emmissions” they get giddy about “ooo im riding a train that gets me to my friends house really fast plus it has a bar!”

    Paul Druce Reply:

    The post is about emissions and revenue dedicated to eliminating them.

    StevieB Reply:

    California has a report on Contribution of the High-Speed Rail program to reducing California’s Greenhouse Gas Emission Levels. Findings are that reductions are made which justifies using cap and trade funding.

    the first year the system is operating, it will
    result in net GHG emissions diversions that, conservatively, are the equivalent of the GHG
    emissions created from the electricity used in 22,440 houses, or removing 31,000 passenger
    vehicles from the road. That amount of passenger vehicles is the same as one lane of traffic,
    almost 100 miles long…

    Adding the GHG emissions reductions from each year of operation, cumulatively, by 2030,
    the high speed rail system would divert between 4.5 million and 8.4 million metric tons of
    CO2e based on the low and high scenarios. That is the equivalent of the GHG emissions
    from a coal-fired power plant, or 488 million gallons of gas consumed, or would be as if a
    500-mile lane of auto traffic were removed from the road. By 2050, cumulatively, the high-speed rail system would divert at least 27.1 million and possibly as much as 44.9 million metric tons of CO2e.

    Paul Druce Reply:

    And the claims are bullshit (projects which won’t see emission savings for decades should not use present day emissions without considering impact of other changes like renewable power portfolios and ZEV mandates nor is their consideration of emissions from induced travel), the savings are decades away, and very low on a cost:benefit ratio. 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).

    Eric Reply:

    “and very low on a cost:benefit ratio.”

    So what IS the cost/benefit ratio for removing one ton of CO2 from the atmosphere?

    If I had EVER heard one of the anti-global-warming activists list such a number, I would be more inclined to listen to them.

    Richard Mlynarik Reply:

    Hey dimwit, he’s saying (correctly), that HSR is way down at the bottom of the list in terms of cost effectiveness in reducing growth in (note: not decreasing) atmospheric and oceanic CO2.

    Only an innumerate fool would not believe that CO2 is the worst problem in the world.
    Only an innumerate fool would believe that CHSR has anything to do with it.

    Paul Druce Reply:

    So what IS the cost/benefit ratio for removing one ton of CO2 from the atmosphere?

    About $11 at current cap and trade market price, $80 at the implicit cost given CAHSR carbon neutral electricity price premium, and up to $900 per ton according to at least one study. At the high end, by 2050, the CAHSRA claims it would prevent 44.9 million metric tons of emissions, this at a cost of well over a hundred billion dollars (since it includes Phase 2).

    Every single year, Plant Scherer in Atlanta produces 23 million metric tons of CO2e emissions. Replacing it with nuclear would cost about $21 billion (at Vogtle prices), utility scale solar about $96 billion (plus storage costs). Seriously, CAHSR is a piss poor means of trying to get rid of CO2.

    Richard Mlynarik Reply:

    A million is a big BIG number, right?
    And a hundred billion is a perfectly crumulent investment, yes?

    So, therefore PBQD’s CHSR is the optimum human investment that can be made to arrest the (inevitable at this point) collapse of civilization and of the holocene ecosystem.

    They have the numbers (“22440″! “31000″! “4.5″! “8.4″! “388″! “500″! “2050″! “27.1″! “44.9″!) to prove it.

    Joe Reply:

    Are you still worried about that hospital construction shortfall ?

  3. synonymouse
    Dec 3rd, 2013 at 17:03
    #3

    If matters are really that grim, it would seem plausible that Jerry would appeal, in the hopes of getting a machine judge who would shine the project on, with the same line of Cheerleader b.s. we have come to know so well.

    Really cannot see Brown putting this thing back on the ballot, absent it becoming a re-election campaign issue and a negative one for him. But the GOP does not even have a candidate to rail agaimst “nowhere to nowhere”.

  4. Tony D.
    Dec 3rd, 2013 at 18:20
    #4

    Interesting..

  5. jimsf
    Dec 3rd, 2013 at 18:22
    #5

    hsr should be a part of the states transportation budget and the budget should be increased accordingly. a pot of money to be spent on transportation projects be they road rail or whatever. build hsr the same way we build highways. piece by piece, upgrade by upgrade, expansion by expansion. ongoing indefinately as demand requires. no controversy.

    Observer Reply:

    This is exactly how it is done in Europe, Asia, and soon Australia. Let california be the first to do this.

  6. Richard Mlynarik
    Dec 3rd, 2013 at 18:29
    #6

    http://www.cahsrblog.com/2013/11/judge-makes-unfavorable-ruling-but-what-does-it-mean-for-project/#comment-210278

    The fantasy that the state of California has no other priorities, and will dedicate all revenues from all new taxes and fees to underwrite the private profits of the mafiosi corporations controlling CHSR, is a truly odd one. Especially coming from soi-disant lefties and pretend enviros.

    Schools. Hospitals. Universities. Unemployment and healthcare ad social welfare. Local transit. The gaping maw of Caltrans. Parks. etc. etc. They’ll all roll over and defer to the overriding need to pour concrete from Palmdale to Los Banos. …

    joe Reply:

    Oh Nostradamus – When will HSR spending kill my puppy?

    We are now running a budget surplus. The ACA is predicted (Krugman’s first WAG) to boost CA’s GDP by 1%.

    And these horribly large proejcts are not so large in comaprison to priivate work

    Here in San Francisco we have some massive and expensive constructions projects underway: the Transbay Transit Center, the UCSF Medical Center and the Central Subway for example. But just because we get all the press, we are not the only region in the Bay Area with some mind-boggling projects going on. Our friends over at San Francisco Business Times have compiled a list of the 39 largest projects (financially speaking) going on right now in the Peninsula. Just how massive are they? The top 6 alone range in price from $120 million to $2 billion and 10 projects are over $100 million. The top 5 are all medical facilities, outdoing even the most ambitious public works projects in the region.

    No no. It’s not possible. How can construction costs outdo the worst-est – most horrible wasteful – job killing Mafioso transportation boondoggles ever!??? We all know PB=DEAD PUPPIES.

    This can’t be right. How can private sector construction work – lean mean – be so expensive?

    John Nachtigall Reply:

    You think all those private projects are going to miss the original projections by 300+%???

    It’s not the cost, it’s the ROI. Construction in Las Vegas is way more than your list and all private, but they manage to make money or at least not run 5x over budget

    joe Reply:

    None of the projects will care about ORIGINAL projections because they have changed the requirements and design to respond to stakeholders since the ORIGINAL projections.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    Medical facilities, if they are university hospitals, are public.

    The public vs. private distinction is also the case specifically for office towers in Manhattan. The projects built on top of Hudson Yards are really expensive, but that can be chalked to the difficulty of building above railyards. The new WTC and other projects funded out of Liberty Bonds are also very expensive, with Fear Tower clocking at $12,000 per m^2. But other skyscrapers, funded entirely privately, are much cheaper, e.g. the BOA Tower clocks at $6,000/m^2, and supertall buildings from a few years earlier are <$5,000/m^2.

    Granted, Apple's headquarters is even more expensive than Fear Tower. But Apple has the same lack of incentive to control cost as the government. It has too much money and nothing to do with it except share buybacks. Ordinarily, it'd be an argument for raising corporate taxes, but that's communism or something.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    For the past thirty years or so we were going to lower taxes on corporations and rich people freeing them to unleash the power of free markets and the flood of prosperity was going to lift all boats on a rising tide of cash. How’s that working out?

    Alon Levy Reply:

    The hydrodynamics of cash hasn’t been worked out yet, so boats may experience some slight turbulence, and then explode.

    jimsf Reply:

    they should have given out the cash up front so people could fix the gaping holes in their boats first.

    StevieB Reply:

    Are the top 5 construction projects public hospitals? They are Stanford Hospital and Clinics, Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital, Sequoia Hospital, Kaiser Permanente Redwood City, and Palo Alto Medical Foundation, San Carlos Center, Phase I.

    Elizabeth Reply:

    From the perspective of someone who writes the checks for health insurance in the Bay Area, the funding source for the new hospitals (spurred by seismic regulations) is all too obvious

    http://www.nytimes.com/2013/12/03/health/as-hospital-costs-soar-single-stitch-tops-500.html?src=me&ref=general&_r=0

    You can build a lot of things if you exercise monopolistic powers to drastically raise prices.

    Ted Judah Reply:

    A person who makes money from selling niche services to a wealthy clientele criticizing an industry that makes money selling niche services to a wealthy clientele?

    Paul Druce Reply:

    My understanding is that much of those high prices is due to the need to offset losses in emergency rooms and especially trauma centers.

    Richard Mlynarik Reply:

    My understanding is that much of those high prices is due to the need to offset losses in emergency rooms and especially trauma centers.

    Your “understanding” doesn’t even pass the sniff test.

    In other words, the US medical industry lobby is doing an awesome job!

    Special bonus question: in the entire rest of the first world, where trauma and emergency is free to everybody, how could the “offset losses” possibly be “offset”?

    Could it possibly have something to do with total costs of all treatment over the entire population being a fraction of the US costs … the US costs of not treating most of the population?

    But yeah, outstanding job, healthcare industry lobbyists! Waters muddied! Minds confused! Perspective completely lost! Categories confused! Tobacco is good for you! Global warming is a hoax! We have always been at war with Eastasia!

    Paul Druce Reply:

    I’m a single payer supporter Richard, my comment was solely in the context of weird US billing practices and why they are such.

    Joe Reply:

    But you fretted how HSR would block CA from adding much needed hospitals. Now here is a lecture on the hospital lobby.

    Why would you bullshit and tarnish that sterling reputation as a snarky truth teller?

    Joe Reply:

    Well we debunked Richard’s FUD that HSR will eat our hospitals. You cannot trust a guy with hurt feelings and a vendetta.

    BTW, Palo Alto made a killing on the multiBillion dollar Stanford Hospital expansion. Millions in payments for traffic mitigation. Also employees will have free passes to ride VTA and Caltrain, if electrified.

    Stephen Smith Reply:

    Apple’s campus is a fucking bizarre project, and I have no idea how they managed to make it so expensive. You could theoretically build it with a wood frame, it’s not even a skyscraper!! Matching the Port Authority’s waste as a private entity is impressive as hell.

    joe Reply:

    It is private project meeting CA codes. Apple is a successful company known for controlling costs and producing well designed product with attention to details.

    Theoretically aside, it’s the free market and invisible hand. Maybe this is just Free Market Think Thank idealism clouding your perspective on construction projects.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    Known by who for controlling the cost of what? Clearly not construction, since the campus is about $29,000 per square meter, where San Francisco’s tallest recently-built tower, Millennium Tower, was $3,300.

    joe Reply:

    BTW the Oil Severance Tax, as proposed, will support the higher education and parks.
    http://leginfo.legislature.ca.gov/faces/billNavClient.xhtml?bill_id=201320140SB241

    Imposes 9.5% tax on value of oil and natural gas extracted in California. During first ten years, allocates revenues: 60% to education for classroom instruction (split equally between UC, CSU, community colleges, and K-12 schools); 22% to clean energy projects and research; 15% to counties for infrastructure and public health and safety services; 3% to state parks.

    Increased state revenues from a new oil and gas severance tax of $1.5 billion to $2 billion per year initially (which could either grow or decline over time), to be spent on public schools, colleges, and universities; clean energy research and development; local infrastructure projects; and state parks.

    Ted Judah Reply:

    Any severance tax should go to parks, mass transportation, and maybe water projects. Giving 2/3 to education is a waste.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    The people who voted for Prop 13 would agree with you.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    a significant fraction of the people who voted for ( and for that matter, against ) Prop 13 are dead.

    VBobier Reply:

    Yep, they’re are either dead dead or dead between the ears… I know of at least 6 who are very dead and buried, though 1 is still not buried, all are related to Me.

    Ted Judah Reply:

    More like Prop 98, Alon. Education funding is already guaranteed a set amount from the General Fund. Why do they need more than the 55 percent Prop 98 promises?

  7. jimsf
    Dec 3rd, 2013 at 18:34
    #7

    the perception of hsr as “other” is part of the problem. its been framed as “hsr” versus “normal transportation” instead of “comprehensive, integrated statewide transpotation system consisting of road rail and air working together in concert”

    the old school railroad advocates are suspicious or ignorant, the rabid anti auto folks cant see past their ideology, and the auto end all be be all freedom crowd cant get past their fear of scary socialist monsters under the bed.

    all are guilty of not being willing or able to compromise and do the adult thing. to map out a strategic integrated transport planfor goods and people which incorporates all modes. recognizing and using each for its appropiate purpose.

    Clem Reply:

    jimsf for governor

    jimsf Reply:

    and a free range chicken in every pot.

    Ted Judah Reply:

    The business plan should be a third federal money, a third debt, and a third user fees. Private capital can be substituted for grants. New taxes can take the place of user fees.

    However I do not support cap and trade. It’s a speculative bubble waiting to happen.

    Robert Cruickshank Reply:

    Yes, I agree, and that’s something I’ll address in another post soon. In my other posts that reference the SPUR proposal I’ve always suggested we augment the revenues so that it addresses mass transit as a whole, including HSR, rather than HSR alone.

  8. Alon Levy
    Dec 3rd, 2013 at 18:40
    #8

    Which private investor is promising the $13 billion?

    Clem Reply:

    Presumably the ones that have cold feet right now and will swoop in when it looks like the system will really get finished, instead of finished off.

    The sad part about this fantasy is that private capital needs to be involved at the beginning, not at the end.

    Nadia Reply:

    Clem for Governor!

    jimsf Reply:

    yhe taxpayers should not be building a high speed railroad to hand over to private investors anymore than cities should be spending tax dollars to build stadiums for wealthy team owners.

    the people should fund it and the people should own it. t
    i think the people should operate it too but would accept letting private operators access it for a fee

    VBobier Reply:

    Agreed Jim.

  9. John Nachtigall
    Dec 3rd, 2013 at 19:21
    #9

    Let’s see

    • An increase in the gas tax of 6 cents per gallon for 20 years

    I beg the Dems to pass this. One of the most unpopular taxes would be increased to support an unpopular project. This would be the best thing to happen to CA GOP since the tax increases that ruled prop 13

    • Road tolls of $4 per vehicle on six highways that parallel high-speed rail as it enters the Bay Area and Southern California

    Illegal under current federal law. Wildly unpopular. See comment about GOP above.

    • An $8.50 increase in the annual vehicle license fee (VLF) for 20 years

    So unpopular it cause the first Govenor to be recalled in CA history and a republican with no political experience at all to be elected. See GOP comment on 1st point

    • A regional general obligation bond for green power for Caltrain and BART that also includes $1 billion for electrification and grade separation

    CA is trying to dig out of debt, not build up more. Prop 30 was passed on this principle

    • $13 billion from the annual state cap-and-trade auction revenues until 2020

    Even more unrealistic than the toll lanes, Federal law could theoretically be changed. The blog admits that the total collected won’t be 13 billion by 2020 much less the amount allocated to HSR which is not even first in line for the money, Simply impossible to collect 13 billion with this tax/fee by 2020

    • Various value capture tools (impact fee, tax increment, Mello Roos district) at five high-speed rail stations

    Read this as “we ran out of even stupid ideas to we will just put in this placeholder”

    For completeness I will add the 13 billion private money. How do you plan on getting private investment on a project that is required to put any profit they may make (which in itself is doubtful) towards phase 2. What would be the return? Or do they expect someone to just give then 13 billion with no return.

    In short, it is only slightly more realistic then the “wait for a bag of money to fall from the sky from the federal government”. At lest it’s theoretically possible. But no one can possibly think there is any appetite for these means of funding even in Democrat controlled CA

    Alon Levy Reply:

    I don’t think Davis needed the license fee to get recalled. He was unpopular on pretty much every metric even beforehand, and lots of Democrats hated him for any conceivable reason (e.g. UC tuition hikes).

    Ted Judah Reply:

    No, he did. Schwarzenegger used an “illegal tripling of the car tax” to bait black and Latino voters into backing the Recall. Totally manufactured crisis.

    John Nachtigall Reply:

    I don’t think so Alon. No Dems ran against him in the recall. It was a literal grass roots uprising

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    surely there was a Democrat or two in the field of 135 candidates.

    Ted Judah Reply:

    Originally, the Democratic Party didn’t really think the recall would succeed. Then, when a judge allowed people voting against the recall could pick a back-up candidate, you had as Alon notes, the quixotic “No on recall, yes on Bustamante” tactic. The result was the same: Arnold was able to grab enough minority voters in Southern California to reinstate the “fish-hook” that carried Republican Governors to victory for decades.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    I don’t know what you mean by “against him.” Cruz Bustamante ran in the replacement, on a “no on the recall, yes on Bustamante” platform; Feinstein thought he was still being opportunistic and advocated voting no on the recall and abstaining in the replacement.

    And “grassroots uprising” is completely compatible with “nobody liked him, for a ton of reasons.”

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    it had a healthy amount of astroturf uprising to it.

    joe Reply:

    Grassroots called Darell Issa who bankrolled the recall and wanted to be Gov. Arnold stepped in and foiled Issa’s plans.

    The effort to recall Gray Davis began with Republicans Ted Costa, Mark Abernathy, and Howard Kaloogian, who filed their petition with the California Secretary of State and started gathering signatures. The effort was not taken seriously, until Rep. Darrell Issa, who hoped to run as a replacement candidate for governor, donated $2 million towards the effort. This infusion of money allowed Costa and Kaloogian to step up their efforts. Eventually, proponents gathered about 1.6 million signatures, of which 1,356,408 were certified as valid.[8]

    John Nachtigall Reply:

    They didn’t bribe those 1.6 millon people. And they also didn’t bribe the 55% that bored to recall.

    Did you read the part of the wiki article that stated the VLF sparked the recall?

    joe Reply:

    You forgot some knob started this by writing the recall initiative was a grassroots effort.

    John Nachtigall Reply:

    Because it was. It started as a grassroots effort. I belive your quote from the wiki article says the effort “picked up” after the contribution. I.e. It had already started. It ended a grass root effort also. Because no matter how much money you have, everyone just gets 1 vote

    Ted Judah Reply:

    The *Real* reason for the recall was that the Democratic Party had cleverly used the open primary system to get Democrats to cast votes for the much more conservative Bill Simon in the 2002 GOP gubernatorial primary instead of Dick Riordan. The GOP was appalled that Dems would use such a dirty trick and pulled out the illegitimacy card like with Clinton.

    Schwarzenegger knew he was a dead man if he had to walk into a GOP primary, so the California Republicans seized upon the 2002 budget impasse to circulate the recall. Davis was blamed for cratering State revenues, and for correctly increasing sales tax and VLFs because of the General Fund shortfall.

    Running as a “moderate”, Ahhhnold ran Dick Riordan’s campaign over, figuring that he could win straight up against Davis. He did so, but the margin of victory between Arnold’s vote and the “no” recall vote (as a proxy for Davis) was only 200,000 votes out of 8.2 million.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    Arnold’s vote was in a separate ballot, with 135 candidates. Conservatives defected to McClintock, knowing that Arnold was far ahead of Bustamante so they weren’t handing the election to the Democrats; between Arnold and McClintock, the GOP got 62%, while on the recall question itself it got 55%.

    And the fact that Davis and Bustamante were total Republicrats and so was the Governator helped the GOP, a lot. An actual Republican wouldn’t have stood a chance. An actual Democrat might have.

    Derek Reply:

    Road tolls… Wildly unpopular.

    Says only the minority (20-30%) of people who oppose road tolls.

    John Nachtigall Reply:

    1. That is support for a dedicated lane…not all lanes. If you think it is going to be popular to turn a whole freeway into a toll road then you need serious help. Everyone on that roads commute will get $8 a day more expensive. People will not be amused since they used to get those roads for free.

    2. I know you are in love I with congestion tolls Derek, but since it is against federal law it doesn’t even matter if it would work or not or be supported or not. Change the federal law first and then we can talk

    Derek Reply:

    1. If it’s a variable congestion toll, then nobody will be overcharged (because the price will be market equilibrium), everyone will get a congestion-free commute, and it will allow the people they elect to lower their transportation taxes such as San Francisco’s Prop K sales tax and Los Angeles’ Measure R sales tax, or use them for HSR. These results will be popular with the people.

    2. The federal government has expressed willingness to toll existing interstates as long as the toll revenue all stays in the freeway. This would free up the sales taxes mentioned above for other purposes such as HSR.

    jimsf Reply:

    derek people do not have a choice as to when they commute

    joe Reply:

    Even if we did have a choice, the variable congestion market prices mean the fee drivers pay varies with traffic as they drive so consumers have no idea what their trip will cost. I will be over charged if the cost goes up I can’t stop commuting – I’m being forced to pay for a service I didn’t ask for. The service being access to a road with high congestion. I didm;t start my commute with that fee on the meter.

    When there’s an accident the congestion increases and the fees go up. It’s not predictable. The system does not work in reality. It doesn’t work which is why I don’t see him using one real world example.

    Here’s an example of why his magic beans solution doesn’t work – we already have toll roads with congestion pricing.

    Roads are tolled by the fee with pay called time spent in traffic. It is a cost we all pay right now and why people try to adjust commute times – to lower their cost. The fallacy is asserting roads are free. They have many costs including traffic delays. When these costs get too high people use transit or adjust their commute times if they can.

    Adding a toll booth changes the rationing from time to money. So money can buy access, not anyone willing to pay the time price. It rations with money. If there dis less congestion is it because the cost is increased and fewer people use the system

    A sane alternative is to build and price transit to attract commuters. That’s what HSR does and why we need better, integrated transit.

    VBobier Reply:

    Of course out here where I live We don’t have much alternative, just dial a ride, the quickest way to get to shopping is about a 12 mile drive on either the 40 or the 15, though there is a slower way to shopping on surface streets, that route is almost unknown, unless you’re a local that has driven it a few times already like I have and it is a longer drive.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    No one is forcing you to travel at peak times. You could get to work three hours early and nap in the parking lot.

    joe Reply:

    ….and tailgate at night.

    Derek Reply:

    consumers have no idea what their trip will cost.

    False.

    I will be over charged

    If you knew how to read a demand curve, you would realize that’s as ridiculous as someone who wins an eBay auction complaining they were overcharged. An economics course at your local community college will teach you how to read a demand curve.

    Adding a toll booth changes the rationing from time to money.

    Making the road less of a burden on government budgets is a good thing, isn’t it? It’s not like you can pay for the road with your time spent in traffic.

    joe Reply:

    True. Variable – it means the cost varies. A demand curve isn’t a price.
    If the road we are using gets increasingly congested the cost increases – it varies so the cost varies.

    You can’t work out one example can you. Clearly you never tried.

    “Making the road less of a burden on government budgets is a good thing, isn’t it? ”
    It’s the exact same burden – the cost of the road is not one cent less when it’s tolled.

    Derek Reply:

    the cost of the road is not one cent less when it’s tolled.

    Variable congestion tolls permanently eliminate traffic congestion. Without them, you have to spend a LOT more money to widen the road, and continue widening it again as necessary, to achieve the same result.

    Meanwhile, tolls are cheaper for people who don’t use the road than transportation sales taxes like Measure R in Los Angeles and Prop K in San Francisco.

    So variable congestion tolls save people a LOT of money. Maybe not the wealthier people who commute during peak periods and pay the highest tolls, but those people are perfectly willing and able to pay those tolls so why not let them voluntarily lower the road’s burden on our taxes?

    John Nachtigall Reply:

    Technically more of a burden because you have the road maintenance and now maintaining the toll system also. It increases costs

    joe Reply:

    “Variable congestion tolls permanently eliminate traffic congestion. ”

    You can’t even describe one demonstration case for how variable tolling would eliminate congestion let alone work for any person’s commute.

    Once a commuter leaves, they are locked into the commute and without a marketplace to buy and sell a commute time to work, I am unable to know what it will cost or how long it will take.

    Now you apparently have this difficult problem solved but refuse to share your awesome details because any critic is told to take a JuCo Econ course and learn a demand curve.

    Derek Reply:

    Here is one report on the effect of variable tolling on congestion.

    Here is another.

    And some more.

    I’m still waiting for your evidence that variable congestion tolls don’t reduce traffic congestion.

    Because variable congestion tolls eliminate traffic congestion, your time to work will be more predictable than when you sit in traffic. And the prices are published, so you also know what it will cost.

    Joey Reply:

    John: and not having the road to begin with would be the cheapest option but that’s silly.

    Joe Reply:

    “Variable congestion tolls permanently eliminate traffic congestion. ”

    Maybe you want to correct this statement.

    Spare the air day reduces congestion. I note a significant flip flop if that’s all you got.

    Joe Reply:

    Derek toll/HOV lanes are not toll roads.

    A toll road is a road with tolls for all lanes. When a toll road increases price Because it is variable with current conditions, I cannot leave the road.

    A toll lane can be entered and exited from the untolled lanes.

    Are you conflating tool lane with toll road ? If not then you some explaining to do on how you idea will work and eliminate congestion. Eliminate is what you wrote – reduce congestion is easy. Spare the air day reduces congestion.

    Derek Reply:

    Joe, every lane with variable congestion tolling is a congestion-free lane. I’ve provided multiple studies to prove it. Do you know of any that disprove it?

    John Nachtigall Reply:

    We agree on something joe…it was bound to happen

    Joe Reply:

    Yes
    It is nice isn’t it?

    Derek Reply:

    people do not have a choice as to when they commute

    That’s fine. Poor people don’t work 9-to-5 jobs, so they will avoid the peak, most expensive travel periods. And they take the bus anyway.

    joe Reply:

    When do poor people work Derek?

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    I’ll give ya a hint. The next time you are in a 24 store at an odd hours and some one is at the cashier stand they aren’t a volunteer who does it because they love running things over a scanner. Or when you get some fast food at 11 at night, Or three in the morning. How about all those trucks cruising down the highway at all hours? Ya know people who don’t manipulate symbols for a living.

    joe Reply:

    The 24 hour store, fast food, trucking all pay the same low wage during the day and obviously most workers are needed during the day when most customers shop and shipping and receiving are active.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    Yes, but the percentage of workers on the graveyard shift is higher than at office jobs or unionized industrial jobs.

    For what it’s worth, when I was visiting Philadelphia in the summer, the percentage of white people on the trolleys and the el was much higher at rush hour than midday or in the weekend; off-peak, I was sometimes the only white person on the trolley. Make of that what you want. If you want to wait for a Pedestrian Observations tl;dr fest about it, one of the posts I’ve been planning to write ever since then is about the class divide of rush hour vs. off-peak service.

    John Nachtigall Reply:

    Poor people have the least control over their working hours. They are all hourly and work when they are told. Exempts on the other hand have much more control. All your congestion pricing would do is punish the poor and those who have no control over their hours

    Derek Reply:

    All your congestion pricing would do is punish the poor and those who have no control over their hours

    False. “[A]s a group low-income residents, on average, pay more out-of-pocket with sales taxes” like Los Angeles’ Measure R and San Francisco’s Prop K than with tolls.

    Travis D Reply:

    What the….poor people work the same hours as everyone else. And not all poor people have access to buses. I’ve been working poor lots of times in my life with 9-5 hours and no buses to take me to my place of work.

    Derek Reply:

    Will those 9-5 low-wage jobs go unfilled if workers can’t afford to get to work, or will employers allow more flexible schedules, or will employers relocate for cheap labor, or will they pay more for those workers?

    Joe Reply:

    This is not a hypothetical – they pay minimum wage in major cities. The salary is not a livable wage.

    Ask the next fast food worker or walmart greeter.

    The tell them how you’ll help with a toll and they have the option to not work and all jobs have reliable 24 hour bus service.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    People that poor don’t own cars so the tolls don’t matter to them.

    Joe Reply:

    Heritage Foundation can be useful a time if you understand their misinterpretations:

    The following are facts about persons defined as “poor” by the Census Bureau as taken from various government reports:
    80 percent of poor households have air conditioning. In 1970, only 36 percent of the entire U.S. population enjoyed air conditioning.
    92 percent of poor households have a microwave.
    Nearly three-fourths have a car or truck, and 31 percent have two or more cars or trucks.
    Nearly two-thirds have cable or satellite TV.
    Two-thirds have at least one DVD player, and 70 percent have a VCR.
    Half have a personal computer, and one in seven have two or more computers.
    More than half of poor families with children have a video game system, such as an Xbox or PlayStation.
    43 percent have Internet access.
    One-third have a wide-screen plasma or LCD TV.
    One-fourth have a digital video recorder system, such as a TiVo.

    Tiny Tim with a wooden crutch is a bit outdated.

    Derek Reply:

    Faced with variable congestion tolls, will those 9-5 low-wage jobs go unfilled if workers can’t afford to get to work, or will employers allow more flexible schedules, or will employers relocate for cheap labor, or will they pay more for those workers?

    Alon Levy Reply:

    “Nearly three-fourths” of the poor living where have a car? Certainly not in urban areas with congested roads. The average income of the people who Bloomberg’s proposed congestion pricing would’ve impacted is well above the regional average, since poor people don’t drive into Manhattan. The same is true of congestion pricing into San Francisco and Silicon Valley.

    joe Reply:

    “Faced with variable congestion tolls, will those 9-5 low-wage jobs go unfilled if workers can’t afford to get to work, or will employers allow more flexible schedules, or will employers relocate for cheap labor, or will they pay more for those workers?”

    Do low wage jobs go unfulfilled today? No. Not in urban or rural areas.

    Will congestion tolls eliminate low wage jobs? No.

    Is the solution to poverty congestion tolling? No.

    The minimum wage is necessary – the market place does not self regulate and provide a fair wage, a livable wage. Tolling roads will not change this flaw in the market.

    The world does not work the way think it works.

    joe Reply:

    “Poor people don’t drive into Manhattan. The same is true of congestion pricing into San Francisco and Silicon Valley.”

    I doubt many people drive in Manhattan. That’s one place. It is also brutally expensive and yet wages still pay the same mandated legal minimum. Derek’s wrong, higher costs for labor workers do not force their wages up.

    In the SV, the only 24 hour bus for the VTA is the 22. By chance it is a bus we use. You wrote about off hour jobs such as 24hour stores. I would like to know how people get to work if the mass transit does not run and they do not have cars.

    Andy M Reply:

    @Joe, having a computer or a games console does not in itself prove that they can afford a new one. Computers that are older than about three years become very affordable while remaining inherently usable. Check your local thrift store to see what i mean. Ditto for gaming consoles.

    Derek Reply:

    higher costs for labor workers do not force their wages up.

    I think you’ll find that cities with higher costs of living tend to also have higher wages.

    joe Reply:

    “I think you’ll find that cities with higher costs of living tend to also have higher wages.”
    @derek
    Non-sequiter. Changing the topic.

    Cities with high costs of living have minimum wage jobs. They are filled with workers being paid minimum wage. The real buying power of the wage deceases and the jobs are still minimum

    The market does not eliminate low wages when workers costs increase.

    Faced with variable congestion tolls, will those 9-5 low-wage jobs go unfilled if workers can’t afford to get to work, or will employers allow more flexible schedules, or will employers relocate for cheap labor, or will they pay more for those workers?

    The answer is clear – low wage jobs – 9-5 are filled. Employers do not pay more and they do not relocate fat food or low wage service jobs.

    Creating toll roads will not help low wage workers.

    Jon Reply:

    Faced with variable congestion tolls, will those 9-5 low-wage jobs go unfilled if workers can’t afford to get to work, or will employers allow more flexible schedules, or will employers relocate for cheap labor, or will they pay more for those workers?

    None of the above. The employers will take no action, and the jobs will remain filled. The costs of the toll will be passed directly to the employees.

    Here’s why. Most minimum wage employees are already being paid above market rate for the work they do. If there was no minimum wage, the market would be paying maybe $5 or $6 per hour for the lowest skilled jobs rather than $7.25. (You can adjust numbers by location as appropriate, but the outcome remains the same.)

    If this was not the case, there wouldn’t be a need for a minimum wage law. We created this law precisely to prevent employers from paying poverty wages. The minimum wage law distorts the market in order to alleviate some of it’s most brutal effects.

    For example – in the UK, after the minimum wage was introduced in 1998, the number of workers paid below the new minimum wage threshold dropped from 5.6% to around 1% after the law was introduced (source). In other words, 4.6% of people who were previously being paid market rate got a pay increase. If the law was annulled today, the wages of 4.6% of workers would fall back to market rate, all else being equal.

    So given that the lowest paid jobs would still be filled at a lower rate than is being paid today, an increase in travel to work costs of a few dollars per day due to tolling will not decrease net wages below the market rate. It would require a very high toll (say, $20 per day) in order for employers to be forced to raise wages to compensate – and even then, the increased wages would be lower than the costs of the toll, so employees would still be the losers.

    I support congestion pricing of areas that already have excellent transit service (e.g. downtown San Francisco) as the best way to decrease congestion without disproportionately impacting low income workers. I also support congestion pricing (HOT lanes) on all freeways, providing they are implemented by converting an existing lane rather than constructing a new lane. And I also support a much higher minimum wage.

    Jon Reply:

    To be clear – I support congestion pricing (HOT lanes) on all freeways, providing they are implemented by converting an existing lane rather than constructing a new lane, and that some lanes remain untolled.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    the annual reports for the Northeastern and Midwestern toll roads disagree. Or the annual reports for the toll bridges or tunnels.

    John Nachtigall Reply:

    Wow, the report for toll roads and bridges say they are popular, written by the people who run those roads and bridges. I take it all back. Everyone will love paying for previously free services.

    About that federal law, the Feds (Obama’s government no less) turn PA down for converting a road to toll because some(not all) of the money was not going to that road. So how are they going to feel about converting 6 freeways to toll and NONE of the money goes to the roads??? Then there is that pesky law that has to be changed to allow it.

    Does HSR like to make unrealistic funding plans, it seems to be areal talent.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    yes pesky reality intruding on your fantasy. It’s not an opinoin that the NYS Thruway collect between 25 million and 30 million a month in tolls. They vote with their tires, even though they have untolled alternatives and use the toll roads.

    John Nachtigall Reply:

    Did it used to be free? Because that is the proposed funding plan.

    J. Wong Reply:

    The NYS Thruway was never free.

    They have added (as a demonstration project) tolling on the 110 in the LA basin in the HOV lanes only.

    Robert Cruickshank Reply:

    There’s a lot of flaws in your comment.

    Gas taxes: Put it to the voters. I think they’d approve a 6 or 10 cent increase for transit projects. They did so in 1990 at a time when the overall electorate was much more conservative.

    Road tolls: A bigger lift, to be sure, but if it’s on freeways between regions rather than within a metro area it’s more doable.

    VLF: We live in a very difficult political environment in 2013 than in 2003. VLF increase proposals are being floated all the time in Sacramento right now. One will eventually be settled upon, proposed, and adopted, and it’ll happen without nearly as much fuss as took place ten years ago.

    New bond obligation: Prop 30 wasn’t passed to reduce debt, it was passed to fund schools. There isn’t very much public support for debt reduction. Nor should there be. The debt isn’t a problem, it helps prevent austerity, and can be easily repaid over time. It’s a non-issue.

    John Nachtigall Reply:

    If gas taxes are so easy to raise why was the last increase several decades ago?

    The toll roads still BREAK THE LAW. The federal government turned down an exemption form PA specifically because the toll was not going fully to the road. There is no way to get this approved

    VLF is just as toxic as gas taxes. That’s why it constantly gets proposed, but never implemented.

  10. Resident
    Dec 3rd, 2013 at 20:22
    #10

    The really farcical number is the “Regional” General Obligation bond $1B. Right. What “region” would that be? .. (And standing right beside the 29BILLION from road tolls, the gas tax and the VLF fees – making for a really humorous read.) Delusional.

    One gets the feeling that Robert’s been sitting in the dark drinking since the judge made his ruling.

  11. Peter Baldo
    Dec 3rd, 2013 at 20:27
    #11

    I have a hard time accepting that the federal government will not help build high speed rail in California. That could be justified only if the federal government were to spend no money on any rail in the entire US.

    Right or wrong, California (12% of the US) has decided that one big, long-term priority is a system connecting SF, LA, and places between. There is currently no decent route that can be upgraded to perform that function, and if something is to be built from scratch, it might as well be built to world standards for high speed rail. California’s voters even voted $10 Billion for the project in a popular referendum. What other state’s voters have done that?

    California has its priorities. Other states have theirs. Illinois, for example, can pay large sums to freight railroads for extra conventional capacity, since the existing routes are fairly flat and direct. That is the choice Illinois has made, and Illinois is getting federal help. If the feds are going to help other states, they have to help California. It’s that simple.

    VBobier Reply:

    Repubs in Congress don’t like any Rail, unless their from states that depend on Amtrak, then they’re for it and only then, Democrats would need a majority in the House(Democrats have 201 seats now, 218 is a bare majority, cause of the shutdown in Oct 2013 Repubs have a 14% favorability rating, 2014 could equal 1996, when the House last had a shutdown), funding could be restored, but if wishes were money We’d have plenty, CA could generate that $25 billion and do it without an increase in taxes thanks to the surplus that Prop 30 is providing thanks to paying down the states past bond debt. Prop 30 ends in 2018 and the LAO projects a surplus of about $27 Billion by 2020, 2014 the surplus is $2.4 billion and by July 2015 about $10 Billion, so does CA absolutely need Congress? I think not.

    VBobier Reply:

    Oh and here I go and forget the link: California To Have $10 Billion Budget Surplus By 2017, Analyst Says and a $3.2 billion surplus by 2015 The 2014-2015 Budget: California’s Fiscal Outlook Oh and My earlier post should have said 2017 and not 2015 when it comes to the $10 Billion, My bad.

    John Nachtigall Reply:

    I thnk the programs that got cut during the recession (schools, colleges, disabled, welfare, etc.) have dibs on that money

    VBobier Reply:

    Yeah like Adult Dental, which I could use to replace 1 to 3 molars, mainly 1 on the right side, makes it hard and painful to eat hard food, the rest of My teeth just need cleaning of plaque, beyond that My teeth are fine and that includes 2 wisdom teeth in My lower jaw that mostly replaced 2 molars while leaving gaps…

    I’d think after 2014 that might be addressed, HSR should also get some money from the budget surplus($2.4 Billion in 2014 to start) to fill out the $25 Billion gap that Judge Kenny highlighted, but that’s up to the legislature and the Governor to address.

    John Nachtigall Reply:

    You I were right in your first paragraph. The Feds are going to spend 0 on rail anywhere in the country. They are not picking on CA, they don’t want to give money to anyone (even Amtrak)

    Alon Levy Reply:

    They’re perfectly fine with funding Amtrak’s long-distance lines. It’s just the corridors they object to.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    Thats because even thought they think trains are a plot to turn us all into commie zombies commuting by subway from our high rise hovels, those trains travel through Real America ™ and spending money in Real America ™ is okay.

    John Nachtigall Reply:

    I don’t think they are ok funding Amtrak at all. I seem to recall hostile republicans holding hearing after hearing on Amtraks boneheaded food policies and money loosing ways. After they get the gains in the next election from the Obamacare debacle I would not be surprised to see them completely defund

    joe Reply:

    Sitting on the sidelines and cheering for failure.

    No one will stop riding trains because a tea party congressmen holds a hearing.

    Paul Dyson Reply:

    Pointing out reality, not cheering for failure. In any event the long distance network that is in jeopardy in the next Congress is fading away from lack of investment. No new rolling stock for 30 years and nothing on order. You don’t need Republican enemies to kill it off, our “friends” at Amtrak and in the administration are doing the job, but with less publicity.

    jimsf Reply:

    i thought we ordered new viewliners for ld service. 130 of them

    Paul Dyson Reply:

    You’re correct Jim, should have limited my observation to the Superliner routes. However, the tiny Viewliner order does little to add capacity. Most of the order is to replace ancient baggage cars. Of course the Superliner service everything west of the big muddy.

    Paul Druce Reply:

    Of course, there is significant question as to whether we ought to keep the long distance routes. It doesn’t help that there is so much focus on spending a hundred million to preserve a scenic route instead of simply accepting a reroute which serves more people.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    all four trains of it?

    Ted Judah Reply:

    Re-route?

    Amtrak already gets an extortion-caliber deal on its trackage charges for those routes that use BNSF. And the UP always gets pissy when Amtrak tries to utilize the routes on UP’s track (Coast Starlight, Sunset Limited) more effectively.

    I have argued the best solution to Amtrak’s problem is consolidating the routes. After all, with apologies to Alfred Twu, HSR isn’t going to run coast to coast in America. We need the scenic trains and local service to feed HSR.

    Joe Reply:

    There’s a new facility in IL for building Amtrak cars.

    The Feds and CA are readying a call for bids to purchase high speed rail capable engines fir the NE and CA. Siemens in CA is going to compete for that potentially 2 billion dollar contract.

    Paul Dyson Reply:

    The Rochelle IL factory of Nippon Sharyo is only there because of the state programs, it would not have happened if we waited for Amtrak. As for the “new” locomotives, I haven’t seen the Siemens offering but EMD et al are pushing a goosed up freight loco with lipstick on it. Where’s the innovation? And for the most part, what we need for these locos is acceleration rather than top speed. Hybrid anyone?

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    The busy routes are going to have 110 MPH tracks soon. And probably 125 MPH tracks in the foreseeable future.

    Joe Reply:

    IL has several hundred new jobs building Amtrak cars. It’s due to both IL and the Feds.
    Yes Amtrak deserves credit for job creation. You’d get laughed at – again – if you went there to spread your gospel.

    Wisconsin screwed Talgo. They too could have been building cars service that Gov Walker killed when he declined HSR funds.

    Compare and contrast.

    Paul Dyson Reply:

    Joe: your ignorance is astonishing. Yes there are some fed matching funds but nothing to do with Amtrak. Amtrak would have done nothing without the state funds for the new bi-level passenger cars. They refused to even add a single car token order of their own as a next generation Superliner prototype. This is a chance in a decade or more for ATK to piggyback on to someone else’s order to keep costs down and keep a production line running, which has been the big barrier to getting CA’s 1B cars built. It is clear that Amtrak has no interest in continuing the Superliner routes and is just milking them for the cash flow. You may or may not agree about the continuation of those services and their value, but until ordered otherwise by the Congress Amtrak is still chartered with operating a national network, which in my view includes replacement of worn out rolling stock.

    joe Reply:

    Stimulus funding is also being used to upgrade tracks, build trains and improve electrification on four routes in the East and Midwest: Boston to Washington; Washington to Charlotte, North Carolina; Detroit to Chicago; and Chicago to St. Louis.

    The Chicago-to-St. Louis route — where trains will run at 175 kph along 75 percent of the route by 2015, shaving an hour off the commute — stands out as one of the bright spots. The Japanese firm Nippon Sharyo, which won a $352 million federal contract to provide passenger cars to the Midwest and California, helped revitalize Rochelle, Illinois, by opening up a factory there last year that now employs 330 people.http://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2013/11/09/business/opponents-derail-obamas-dream-of-high-speed-trains-and-jobs/#.Up_YWJGUtG8

    You can Manspain to these workers why Amtrak sucks blah blah blah. If they were Sacramento staffers – they’d be polite and then show you door when you finished. That’s how it goes right?
    Well, workers from N IL, I think they’ll laugh at you.

    And when Congress appropriates money – they put conditions on its use. If you were so smart to not follow those conditions and do the right thing god damn it and invest in rail the right way !!! — the po-lice would arrest you for misappropriating funds.

    Paul Dyson Reply:

    You’re completely clueless about what we do and what we stand for. Just trying to explain to you that the cars being built at Rochelle are a CA/IL joint program with some federal match, none of which would have taken place if left to Amtrak and is CA 1B funds finally being put to use. You are as ignorant as the staffers at Sacramento to whom we patiently explain that a railcar with “Amtrak” painted on the side does not necessarily belong to Amtrak and is part of a service paid for by CA taxpayers. Our mission in this context is to keep the production line going at Rochelle so that taxpayers can enjoy the economies of scale from a long production run. It will also mean that if anyone wants to add or expand conventional service there will be rolling stock available within a reasonable timeframe. This includes other state programs, including California, and Amtrak if we can get them to divert a few pitiful dollars away from the NEC. It’s all part of living in the real world Joe, where you get done what you can with resources that are to hand. Not a subject with which you are familiar presumably.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    Gains in the next elections following the Romney landslide in 2012?

    Alon Levy Reply:

    Mica is pro-HSR (as long as done privately) and anti-Amtrak and -LD trains. Other Republicans aren’t. Trent Lott used to bat for Amtrak. Every time this discussions comes up, Nathanael lists Republicans from states on LD lines who support Amtrak because it serves like five of their constituents.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    Republicans are really good at flapping their lips. How do they vote when it comes to Amtrak. And of course they are for trains that travel through Real America ™. How do they vote when it comes to trains in Unreal America, ya know the ones they use when they have to go to Philadelphia or New York to schmooze donors?

  12. jimsf
    Dec 4th, 2013 at 09:00
    #12

    records continue

    D. P. Lubic Reply:

    And people are driving less even in Florida:

    http://www.tampabay.com/news/localgovernment/floridians-are-driving-less-relying-more-on-mass-transit-study-finds/2155586

  13. morris brown
    Dec 4th, 2013 at 10:29
    #13

    The Federal Surface Transportation Board (STB) has just issued a decision that is sure to delay construction on the HSR Project.

    The decision can be read at:

    http://www.stb.dot.gov/decisions/readingroom.nsf/fc695db5bc7ebe2c852572b80040c45f/dace3d538024c4c585257c370051ecf0?OpenDocument

    DECISION DENIED THE CALIFORNIA HIGH-SPEED RAIL AUTHORITY’S REQUEST FOR A CONDITIONAL GRANT OF AUTHORITY TO CONSTRUCT AN APPROXIMATELY 114-MILE HIGH-SPEED PASSENGER RAIL LINE BETWEEN FRESNO AND BAKERSFIELD, CAL. IN ADDITION, THE DECISION EXTENDED THE TIME FOR PUBLIC COMMENT ON THE TRANSPORTATION MERITS OF THE PROPOSED CONSTRUCTION PROJECT.

    VICE CHAIRMAN BEGEMAN, concurring:

    I support the Board’s decision to reject the California High-Speed Rail Authority’s request for a decision on the transportation aspects of the project before the environmental review of the project is completed. The Board should not approve any segment of this enormous public works project unless it first carries out a comprehensive analysis of the segment at issue, including its financial fitness.

    In part what you are looking at here is construction cannot start until after environmental for the is completed. Only from Madera to Fresno is now completed. This will delay the start of construciton at least until mid 2014 by most estimates, and maybe much more than that.

    synonymouse Reply:

    Can this be appealed? If not, it would seem to militate against PB-CHSRA appealing the Kerry ruling, as there are clear similarities in positions.

    Joe Reply:

    Environmental review meaning the EPA standard and federal law. It excludes state which does not superced federal law and means NOT CEQA.

    Menlo park et all sued HSR with CEQA compliance. STB claims overview so this EIR compliance for the whole project just got much easier.

    I don’t think you grok the implications.

    synonymouse Reply:

    “a comprehensive analysis of the segment at issue, including its financial fitness.”

    Sounds like more than EIR’s.

    Paul Dyson Reply:

    I imagine like any good agency their collective noses are out of joint because CHSRA thought they could ignore the STB. Once the blended plan became holy writ (tracks shared with ATK, other passenger operators and the interstate common carriers) STB can claim jurisdiction. That’s put the cat among the pigeons.

    Ted Judah Reply:

    Another reason to cut loose the funding in SB 1029 for the bookends….

    joe Reply:

    Keystone XL Pipeline will be the safest and most advanced pipeline operation in North America. It will not only bring essential infrastructure to North American oil producers, but it will also provide jobs, long-term energy independence and an economic boost to Americans.
    http://keystone-xl.com/#sthash.L0IwwWd3.dpuf

    Sounds great. Why can’t HSR be built to such exacting federally reviewed environmental standards?

    TRANSDEF Reply:

    Robert (aka “Joe”),

    You are stating as fact that STP jurisdiction preempts CEQA. That very issue is being thoroughly litigated in the CA Court of Appeals. It is now fully briefed and awaiting the scheduling of oral argument. The papers are posted on our site, on the Round 2 Appeal tab.

    joe Reply:

    Hi sock-puppet.

    I am quite aware of the argument CAHSRA made regarding the losers appeal of the Authority’s victorious knockdown of the Peninsula NIMBY EIR lawsuit.

    We all should laugh at Jeff Denham for his boneheaded tactic to federalize the System. Also for shutting down the government.

    If Federal Standards apply in place of CEQA, his just got an order of magnitude easier to build.

  14. Rob Dawg
    Dec 4th, 2013 at 11:41
    #14

    Our host Robert C write: “Judge Michael Kenny’s ruling last week requires the California High Speed Rail Authority to revise its financing plan to identify sources of revenue.”

    Of course he meant to write: “Judge Michael Kenny’s ruling last week reminds the California High Speed Rail Authority to adhere to its financing plan and identify sources of revenue.”

    You know, as stated in Prop 1A which our host supports to the letter and intent.

    Joe Reply:

    No the Judge didn’t mandate the CAHSRA freeze any plan and find funds.

    What is proposed must have funds.

  15. synonymouse
    Dec 4th, 2013 at 14:36
    #15

    Important article which should merit comment from Robert:

    http://www.newscientist.com/article/mg22029455.700-mega-delusional-the-curse-of-the-megaproject.html#.Up-llidE9M4

    The author refers to optimism bias but curiously makes little reference to political corruption. Perhaps that is more a US and California issue. In particular patronage machines which manage to appropriate public money thru unions and crony consultants and contractors right back to themselves.

    And an article on reducing rail noise, notably wheel squeal, with a Bay Area angle:

    http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/12/131204111920.htm

    swing hanger Reply:

    “…Although they have been used in Europe — and have been reported to be effective — they are rare in the U.S….”
    Been used in Japan too. Nagoya Municipal Subway cars had them way back in the 1950′s. Vibration dampers on rail track are standard equipment. However, the best way to reduce noise is to have tip-top rail maintenance.

  16. Jerry
    Dec 4th, 2013 at 18:11
    #16

    Synonymouse: found it somewhat amusing that next to the article on reducing rail noise was one that claimed that, “Public Transit Systems Contribute to Weight Loss and Improved Health.”
    Who knew? What next, doctors prescribing taking two aspirins and taking a ride on a streetcar?

    D. P. Lubic Reply:

    http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/06/100628203756.htm

  17. TRANSDEF
    Dec 6th, 2013 at 16:31
    #17

    I’m amazed to read through all the posts here and find that no one cited the Legislative Analysts Office’s report on the HSR 2012 budget, which asserted that HSR would result in a net INCREASE in GHGs for its first 30 years of operations. The LAO concluded that tremendous legal obstacles to accessing cap and trade funding meant that this was not a realistic source for HSR. (i.e., NFW!)

    See: The 2012-13 Budget: Funding Requests for High-Speed Rail, 4/17/12, p. 8, Lao.ca.gov.

    In short, the table of proposed revenue sources is the grasping-at-straws optimism of a terminal patient.

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