Neel Kashkari, Job Killer

Jan 28th, 2014 | Posted by

The Republican who brought you the bank bailout, Neel Kashkari, wants to be the next governor of California. He’s taking the tried and true Meg Whitman approach, which worked so well that she lost to Jerry Brown by 13 points despite outspending him 7 to 1. He wants to focus on jobs and education, but in the right-wing sense of cutting taxes and regulations in hopes that good jobs magically appear. We’ve tried that for 35 years and it’s clear that’s a failing model.

You would think that someone who wants more jobs in California would embrace the high speed rail project, which will create thousands of jobs in the next few years in the San Joaquin Valley, home to double digit unemployment. But like Meg Whitman before him, Kashkari is coming out against the high speed rail project – and against the thousands of jobs that it will bring to a part of the state desperately in need of them.

Kashkari posted a YouTube video to his campaign site today pledging to kill what he calls the “crazy train.” On Twitter, Kashkari explained his positions further:

Well, I’m not sure what he means by “slow speed train.” I am guessing he does not understand how construction works, that HSR will open in stages and phases, using legacy tracks to reach downtown SF and downtown LA at speeds below 150 mph. But the bullet train will still travel at 220 mph in the Central Valley and have an average speed far, far faster than Amtrak California trains. It will still connect SF to LA in less than three hours.

Did the costs go up from 2008? They sure did. But Kashkari seems to think that it’s somehow financially prudent to kill an HSR project that costs $68 billion in order to spend at least $150 billion or so to expand freeways and airports to handle the travel demand that HSR will carry at half the cost. He must also think it’s prudent to spend billions on mitigating climate change rather than reducing CO2 emissions.

But wait, Kashkari doesn’t believe HSR will actually reduce CO2 emissions, despite what the experts say:

Seriously, the Legislative Analysts Office are a bunch of budget number crunchers. They have no background in CO2 emission reductions, and if they decide to do opine on the topic, they ought to defer to the actual experts. That would be the California Air Resources Board, which has included HSR in its scoping plans for meeting the state’s CO2 reduction goals for over five years.

Kashkari also clearly misunderstands how economics works when he makes this claim about HSR spending:

The “crowding out” claim is a core right-wing concept that implies government spending somehow comes at the expense of other spending. In reality, infrastructure spending is a multiplier when it comes to jobs and overall GDP.

Further, building HSR generates new economic activity through the green dividend. By reducing spending on oil and through other economic activity created by the high speed train, California could see as much as $10 billion a year in new economic activity. I’m not quite sure why Neel Kashkari is against that.

California suffered from the recession not because of overspending or regulations, but because the state is much too dependent on burning fossil fuels. Reducing CO2 emissions and oil consumption are essential to lasting prosperity. And during what may be the worst drought in the post-conquest history of California, one would imagine that doing anything possible to stop climate change would be a priority. Kashkari is making his position clear: California’s future doesn’t matter and isn’t worth thinking about, no matter the cost.

You might wonder why it’s worth spending even a moment debunking the claims of a candidate who will lose the election by double digit percentage points. I always think it’s good practice to expose the flawed claims and harmful ideas held by major political figures.

But Kashkari’s “kill the train” demand takes on added relevance at this crucial moment for the HSR project. California Democrats are faced with a clear choice. They can side with Governor Brown and President Obama and build HSR to help provide immediate job creation and long-term economic growth while also reducing CO2 emissions. Or they can side with the Tea Party, Meg Whitman, and Neel Kashkari and kill the train despite its numerous benefits.

In an election year, you’d think their choice would be an easy one. Build the train for California’s present – and for its future.

  1. nslander
    Jan 28th, 2014 at 19:20

    One more opportunist making a name for himself simply by raging blindly at the CAHSR project without any fear of professional reprisal, simply because he realizes the discourse on this specific subject is septic. He also realizes he can exploit this to get some play with “the truth alone will set you free” faction of the Dems. He’s just another symptom.

  2. joe
    Jan 28th, 2014 at 19:27

    Federal funding is total fiction. CA taxpayers will be on the hook. It will crowd out more important priorities.

    Constant fighting to cut HSR is blocking Republicans from their priorities: Cuts to education and health care.

  3. joe
    Jan 28th, 2014 at 19:32

    Mike Honda’s been a fantastic HSR supporter in the Bay Area.

    Mike is being challenged in the primary from a wealthier candidate that broke a promise to run as a Democrat in an uncontested seat.

    I’d hate to lose Mike’s voice to an ambitious right of center unknown.

    Robert Cruickshank Reply:

    Yes, Honda is fantastic for any number of reasons. He needs to be re-elected. Ro Khanna would be a step in the wrong direction.

  4. JJJJ
    Jan 28th, 2014 at 20:03

    Theres always a plus in these. These GOP people who run are usually loaded – hoarding wealth.

    They spend millions on the campaign, acting as a minor economic stimulus, and a transfer of wealth.

    Since they lose anyway, its a win-win!

    synonymouse Reply:

    They(loaded GOP people and all other corporate interests) have to bribe in some quiet way the Pelosi-Burton patronage machine that runs California to secure consideration anyway so what’s the difference?

    There’s no substantive difference between any of them; otherwise the deep pockets rightists would support signature gathering for a Prop 1a revote. Demo or GOP they are all in the pocket of developers and unlimited population growthmongers. They all love PB, the epitome of greedhead crookedness.

    Zorro Reply:

    You’d love anarchy, then there’d be No Social Security, you’d be lucky if someone didn’t kill you and take whatever is worth taking in that event Mr Mouse. You just don’t like something you will never ride.

    synonymouse Reply:

    Whatever did happen to VBobier?

    In truth I am a big supporter of Social Security. It was Ronnie & ilk who came up with the 401k concept to try to kill Social Security and the liberals just lapped it up.

    Rob Black, KRON’s market dude, today comments the typical young person loaded down with student debt can figure on retiring around 73 and dying around 83. He concluded by saying they are not going to be happy campers about that prospect.

    Zorro Reply:


  5. BMF of San Diego
    Jan 28th, 2014 at 22:38

    Why are you giving this guy a platform? Can’t you tell that he’s unelectable my either his appearance or his last name?

    Stephen Smith Reply:

    So your objection to Robert’s post is that he’s replying to arguments made by a brown person?

    jonathan Reply:

    Patently no. No points for a weak try at counter-race-baiting.

    Let’s try this in slow-motion for you: Here’s a comparison: “Bobby Jindal”. … “Neel Kashkari”. Preppy button-down collar and conserative haircut versus….. non-buttoned collar with white T-shirt visible underneath; and no hair at all.

    Can you admit, even to yourself, the dog-whistles implied by those contrasts? Do you recognize the *name* and the *appearance* are distinct from skin colo[u]r?

    joe Reply:

    It’s Piyush “Bobby” Jindal
    The President used to be Barry. Barak “Barry” Obama.
    The Senator from Texas is Rafael Edward “Ted” Cruz.

    Neel “Neil” Kashkari would be a reasonable “nickname” and having a campaign photo and twitter account would bestow a higher degree of seriousness.

    Donk Reply:

    Hey George Deukmejian was elected governor of CA – his last name isn’t the typical politician’s last name, especially for the 80s (he is Armenian (as is nearly everyone else with the last name -ian)).

    Robert Cruickshank Reply:

    He already had a platform – CA political reporters were all over this yesterday. It’s not like I unearthed this from the cobwebbed corners of the internet.

    BMF of San Diego Reply:

    Oh boy. That was not my thought or intent. But I see how you could think that.

    From the tiny picture I had on my iPhone was of an old white dude with unkemp scraggly hair…. And then a last name with multiple syllables and use of the letters “K” “L” and “R”. I believe.

    But I was going more by the tiny picture.

    I really interpreted “Looooon” from very little substantive to go on…. which is what 90% of voters do.

  6. John Nachtigall
    Jan 28th, 2014 at 22:42

    Actually the last 35 years have been great even counting the great recession

    if my math is right that is a 4x increase in GDP per capita from 1980 to 2011. Its gotten better since then with the recovery.

    wu ming Reply:

    if GDP were distributed evenly per capita, you would have a point. median individual and household income, employment rates, median household net worth, and other meaningful measures of standard of living for everyday californians tells a rather different story.

    joe Reply:
    The Gini coefficient varies between zero and one. A value of zero indicates that everyone has exactly the same income — there is no inequality at all. By contrast, a value of one represents maximal inequality — one person gets all the income and everyone else gets nothing. More generally, values between zero and one indicate the degree to which the income distribution deviates from a perfectly equal distribution, with the distribution becoming more and more unequal as the Gini coefficient approaches one.

    In the U.S. the Gini coefficient has been rising steadily since the late 1960s:
    American incomes are down 8.3% since 2007

    Median income for the typical American household was $51,017 in 2012, leaving it 8.3% lower than where it was in 2007, the year before the financial crisis hit. Median household income was roughly flat compared to 2011.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    This is nominal and not real GDP per capita. There is PPP adjustment for all countries, so the figures for different countries in a given year are adjusted for living costs, but the figures for one country for different years are not so adjusted. For constant-dollar figures, go here or here. For per capita income, which is generally lower than GDP per capita, there’s US data here, broken down by geographic area; it’s nominal, but you can deflate based on an inflation calculator.

    Bear in mind that the GDP deflator and the CPI have diverged in recent decades – CPI has grown substantially faster – so deflating income numbers by CPI presents a much bleaker picture than deflating GDP per capita by the GDP deflator.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    The last chart on the page he linked to has it adjusted for PPP and inflation expressed in 2005 dollars…. I think that’s what you are looking for.
    ….Bill Gates and Warren Buffet go into a bar with 25 patrons. The average bar patron is then a billionaire. The median income for everyone in the bar barely changes.
    For the median schmo it doesn’t really matter much that the one percent have been doing quite nicely.
    But Saint Ronnie said cutting taxes on rich people would send them into a frenzy of investment in productive enterprises that would lift all boats on a rising tide of prosperity. So even thought the tide has been ebbing for quite some time one can’t contradict Saint Ronnie, the Holy Laffer Curve or regulate anything anywhere. And keep the gubbermint out of Medicare… Unless it’s a pregnant woman’s uterus, then the government should regulate heavily…. Or who you fornicate with. Or what drugs you use recreationally. Or…

    StevieB Reply:

    Income gain is entirely concentrated at the top of earners. The top 20% had income increases of 65% and the top 1% had income increase by 275%. According to a CBO report the share of income going to higher-income households rose, while the share going to lower-income households fell. The explosive growth for the top 1 percent so vastly outweighed the expansion further down that the top 1 percent’s share of the nation’s total income more than doubled to just over 20 percent. The top fifth of the population saw a 10-percentage-point increase in their share of after-tax income. All other groups saw their shares decline by 2 to 3 percentage points.

    Zorro Reply:

    From what I’ve read that is close to what 1928 was just before the Great Depression of 1929 on Black Friday, income inequality, most going to the top and much less going to the bottom hurt the economy as the Rich don’t spend much, they want to stay rich, where as the ‘job creators’ down low spend their money to pay bills, buy clothes, cars, parts, food, etc, etc, etc, 300 Million ordinary people to maybe 10 Million Rich people, that’s quite a difference in spending power, since most of the Rich are money hoarders.

  7. wu ming
    Jan 28th, 2014 at 22:50

    when i saw that ad, i figured kashkari was trolling you personally, robert.

  8. Jesse D.
    Jan 29th, 2014 at 00:58

    I propose we call him Neel Kash-N-Kari.

    Because he thinks only for profit and his product is shoddily made and sold to the dregs of society.

  9. 202_cyclist
    Jan 29th, 2014 at 04:39

    Anyone who thinks this investment in modern, clean, efficient, transportation is not creating jobs needs to see the construction of the ARTIC facility and the Transbay tower. These a good jobs to help build the stations that will serve high speed rail

    joe Reply:


  10. 202_cyclist
    Jan 29th, 2014 at 04:40

    The President mentioned streamlining permitting and review for important transportation investments in his State of the Union address last night. Will CA high speed rail be one of the projects that gets expedited review?

    Paul Dyson Reply:

    His ringing endorsement of High Speed Rail was very encouraging too.

    joe Reply:

    Why are you even pretending to be a transit advocate?


    Statement “We can take the money we save with this transition to tax reform to create jobs rebuilding our roads, upgrading our ports, unclogging our commute — because in today’s global economy, first-class jobs gravitate to first-class infrastructure. We’ll need Congress to protect more than three million jobs by finishing transportation and waterways bills this summer. But I will act on my own to slash bureaucracy and streamline the permitting process for key projects, so we can get more construction workers on the job as fast as possible.”

    Context: Ever since he signed the Recovery Act in his first month in office, spending on infrastructure has been a key part of Obama’s jobs platform. But Congress still has the power of the purse, and it’s a power it has been reluctant to use in a post-earmark, debt-obsessed, Tea Party era.

    But the recent budget deal passed by Congress gives Obama some hope. Congress allocated $600 million for a competitive grant program that would allow the Obama Administration to pick the most innovative transportation projects, instead of merely doling out money to states based on a formula. That program, known as TIGER (Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery), has $125 million more than before the budget deal. But as Obama noted, Congress still has to pass bills authorizing that new spending.

    Paul Dyson Reply:

    Well let’s see. I spent much of the past 6 months quietly helping to put together the new CA Senate Select Committee on Rail. We are quietly working to integrate the LAUS Flyaway bus into Amtrak and Metrolink ticketing systems. We are trying to safeguard the state rail and bus system from the balkanization of the new JPBs. I could go on. The point is that the President announced the HSR program with great fanfare, and this year it doesn’t get a mention. I assume you have enough political savvy to understand that represents a major reduction in enthusiasm for the program, to put it mildly. Damning with faint praise? Maybe the President is getting the message. Most people want improvements to their daily lives, and that is more likely represented by transit and regional rail. That we have failed to deliver the regional rail we would have liked, and that we continue to expand freeways, is not a condemnation of that approach, but a reflection on the poor weak souls such as myself that have not accomplished as much as one would have liked in the last 30 years. Continuing to pursue the CA HSR project, like cultists after some Holy Grail, will do nothing to provide useful transportation, clean air, or lower carbon, for two decades if ever.
    I feel sorry for Obama. He was very badly advised, which led him to grossly oversell a policy that could not possibly be delivered.

    Paul Druce Reply:

    We are quietly working to integrate the LAUS Flyaway bus into Amtrak and Metrolink ticketing systems.

    I thought it was already integrated into Metrolink, though the addition into Amtrak will be a great boon.

    I feel sorry for Obama. He was very badly advised, which led him to grossly oversell a policy that could not possibly be delivered.

    Eh, he didn’t really ever support it all that much. The funding was minuscule and diluted further by its being spread out over so many states and projects; California lucked out by having so many other states reject it.

    Paul Dyson Reply:

    Paul: You cannot buy a ticket to LAX from a Metrolink ticket machine, nor is it in the trip planner. We’re also asking for a 20 minute interval service.

  11. 202_cyclist
    Jan 29th, 2014 at 04:41

    Also, this is not related to high speed rail but it is of interest.

    Chevy Chase hires a powerful Congressional chairman’s brother to lobby against the Purple Line

    Donk Reply:

    Ha, my initial reaction was that Chevy Chase the actor was hiring a lobbyist for the Purple Line extension in LA to keep the line out of Beverly Hills.

    Zorro Reply:

    Yeah, Me too, turns out it’s ‘Chevy Chase, Maryland’, go figure.

    Eric Reply:

    Chevy Chase: You’re a funny president.
    Gerald Ford: Yeah, well, you’re a funny suburb.

  12. StevieB
    Jan 29th, 2014 at 08:42

    Taking California’s bullet train to a greener future comes to us from Brian P. Kelly the California’s secretary of transportation and Mary D. Nichols the chairman of the California Air Resources Board.

    They discuss the environmental benefits of California High-speed Rail.

    California is on track to meet its 2020 emission reduction goals under AB 32, and we need investments in rail modernization to help achieve long-term reductions beyond that date. Reducing car travel, promoting infill and transit-oriented development, preserving farmland and open space, and avoiding massive highway and airport expansions are all part of the high-speed rail project and the vision for California transportation.

    morris brown Reply:

    Brian Kelly is probably worried about where his next paycheck will come from. His agency is trying to steal $50 million from the HSR Prop1A bonds to support itself, so he co-authors this article, with statistics which have no basis in true facts. The PR machine of the Authority, which now has, I believe in media relations, at least 5 persons employed by the Authority, is in full speed ahead mode to try and keep the project alive.

    When the State Supreme court rules against the Governor in his “Hail Mary” attempt to save the funding, will it be possible to get the needed votes in the Legislature to support a new appropriation bill, which will be needed to replace SB-1029.

    Zorro Reply:

    I sincerely doubt the legislature will do anything about SB-1029 and I doubt the CA Supreme Court will go against the Governor. As to CARB stealing any money, that’s a baseless allegation with no basis in fact, unless you have proof? Otherwise it’s FUD and hot air.

    morris brown Reply:


    My comment was made to refer to the $50 million that the Governor wants allocated to Kelly’s, California State Transportation agency, not the CARB.

    joe Reply:

    What do you think is so strange about the State of California Transportation Agency receiving HSR funds?

    The Nice ladies at CARRD want to full cost the project and if the Agency is subsidizing the project with general fund money that’s hiding costs – right?

    What do you critics want? Nothing is right.

    If you find they’re buying doughnuts and trips to Las Vegas for team building, ring me,

  13. morris brown
    Jan 29th, 2014 at 08:58

    Ken Orski, Transportation expert

    California’s Bullet Train Hobbled by Fresh Legal, Fiscal and Political Uncertainties

  14. morris brown
    Jan 29th, 2014 at 09:28

    Where does the buck stop on HSR and Amtrak?

    (The Author, Frank Wilner, is former chief of staff at the Surface Transportation Board, former official of the Association of American Railroads and author of the recent book, Amtrak: Past, Present, Future. )

    That President Obama mentioned not a word on high speed rail or Amtrak in his State of the Union speech reflects on the rather dreadful manner in which his administration has pursued the presidential vision in support of expanded rail passenger service.

    Paul Dyson Reply:

    Wilner’s comments are perceptive. The very best ideas can crater with poor execution. LaHood was clueless. And a propos the subject of this blog, the continued attacks on Republicans may in the end be counter-productive. You never know who your friends may be. The UK Labour government cancelled the Channel Tunnel and built Concord. It was Thatcher that pushed the Chunnel through and strong armed private capital to finance it. In CA in the 80s and 90s passenger rail was bi-partisan. Perhaps I’m unrealistic to hope for that to return but continued partisan attacks for sure won’t make it happen.

    synonymouse Reply:

    Apparently Labour governments were instrumental in carrying out the Beeching Report as well.

    In an earlier article Wilner remarks:

    “Whether the California project can be revived may well depend on a new ballot measure that could be put before California voters in November — and with voter polls showing increasing disenchantment, the future for that project is problematic beyond what transpires before the court and the completion of environmental studies.”

    Perhaps he knows something I don’t, but I do suggest that is the Ca. Supremes do cave for Jerry the upshot would be to dismiss and disparage all the months of work that Judge Kenny has put into the Kopp et al litigation. Without so much as a real examination of any errors or deficiencies. Seems like a grosso modo denial of due process to me. Maybe I just tend to lazy but if I were the Judge I’d then ask to recuse in the March case due to judgement, gravitas and court stature being tainted, questioned and undermined flippantly.

    joe Reply:

    And a propos the subject of this blog, the continued attacks on Republicans may in the end be counter-productive. You never know who your friends may be.

    Too bad this idea to tone it down didn’t cross your mind when you decided to publicly confront and mock LaHood who was the current Administration’s DOT Chief.

    Paul Dyson Reply:

    Joe: As usual you miss the point. LaHood was representing the administration, not the opposition. His actions have set back HSR for a decade at least. Look at his record.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    On the contrary. Turning transportation into a partisan issue has a lot of downside for road advocates like Reason, and a lot of upside for transit. Ten years ago, putting money into roads and a bit into transit was part of the American political consensus. Five years ago, Obama modified the consensus slightly by including a bit more rail money, including for HSR; the large majority of transportation money remained in roads, the signature fuel efficiency initiative was Cash for Clunkers, and HSR got $8 billion from the stimulus. Today that it’s a partisan issue, the Democrats are falling in line on the issue more, which means that next time the Democrats have both the presidency and both houses of Congress, it’s likely that there will be significant HSR spending. In California, other than a very small number of anti-HSR intransigents, the party is supportive in principle, and may well appropriate funds legislatively.

    Eric Reply:

    “next time the Democrats have both the presidency and both houses of Congress, it’s likely that there will be significant HSR spending.”

    Only if they have the presidency, both houses, and 60 seats in the Senate.
    Which is unlikely.

    Eric Reply:

    Government gridlock ensures that the policies chosen several decades ago are perpetuated indefinitely. And those are anti-transit.

    Paul Dyson Reply:

    Agreed Eric. Even at State level this seems to be the case. The pro transit pols at Sacramento seem to be afraid to take on the highway lobby.

    synonymouse Reply:

    That is because freeway projects are popular amongst limousine liberals. I adduce Barbara Boxer and all the extra freeway lanes she has been instrumental in adding to 101 in Marin.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    Budget bills can be passed by reconciliation.

    Judge Moonbox Reply:

    Only if they have the presidency, both houses, and 60 seats in the Senate.

    Are you sure the Secret Constitutional Amendment will still be in effect? This 60 Vote business only survives because the centrists were afraid to admit that Obama was closer to their position than the Republicans. The next Democratic president probably would likely have the guts to demand a straight up or down vote; and if the centrists don’t like it, he or she would tell them not to be so lazy as to judge the center as halfway between the two parties.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    …or the centrists were concerned that the batshit insane Republicans would get 51 seats.

  15. Reality Check
    Jan 29th, 2014 at 11:11

    Taking California’s bullet train to a greener future
    By 2040, high-speed rail could reduce car miles traveled in the state by 3.6 billion miles a year, the equivalent of taking 317,000 cars off the road each day.

    California’s high-speed rail is one of the largest public works projects anywhere in the world. Like the Golden Gate Bridge, Bay Area Rapid Transit, Interstate 5 and the California Aqueduct before it, high-speed rail has engendered opposition, consternation and litigation. Every bold, transformative vision faces that litany.


  16. Reality Check
    Jan 29th, 2014 at 11:22

    MBTA’s new Rotem bi-level commuter rail cars plagued with problems
    Parts will be replaced; severity of woes disputed

    A long-awaited fleet of MBTA commuter rail cars, delivered 2½ years late by the South Korean manufacturer, is now so plagued by mechanical, engineering, and software problems that it has to be shipped to a facility in Rhode Island to be fitted with new parts.


    Even as a T spokesman described the problems with the cars as “standard operating procedure,” rail workers and their union representatives said the situation is unprecedented, and federal officials acknowledged they are “monitor[ing] the situation closely.”

    “In my 40-some years of railroad experience, we’ve never seen problems like this,” said Tom Murray, president of the local chapter of the Transport Workers Union of America.

    But Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority officials say the problems — including issues with doors, air-conditioning, brakes, and signal software — are a normal part of introducing new, more technologically advanced train cars into a transit system.


    MBTA chief financial officer Jonathan R. Davis said he is aware of the mechanical problems, but is confident they will be resolved.

    “I’m encouraged that Hyundai has identified the issues that need to be addressed,” he said Friday. “I don’t think that this is anything abnormal for any transit authority that is receiving new cars.”

    The terms of the T’s contract with Hyundai Rotem say that the company is responsible for paying for all repairs and maintenance work in the first two years after the cars officially enter the T’s fleet. Though the T has the option of sending the cars back if they are deemed unfit for use on the rails, Davis said he has no intention of taking that step.

    King, of Hyundai Rotem, said assertions that these cars are more problematic than others introduced to the T’s fleet in the past are because commuter rail cars, in general, contain more complicated technology.

    “These modern commuter rail cars are complex and exacting machines,” King said.

    Commuter rail workers acknowledge that the new cars are much more technologically advanced, but said that did not explain all of the problems they have seen.


    Alan G. Macdonald, a member of the MassDOT board, said the complaints from workers may be exaggerated.

    “My understanding is that there is some work that still needs to be done, but it might not be unexpected that there will be problems with the cars,” Macdonald said. “I don’t believe they’re beyond being taken care of.”

    But Jonathan H. Klein, a former chief mechanical officer at Amtrak and the Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority, said taking the cars out of service to replace major parts at an out-of-state facility is a different order of magnitude.

    “If cars have to be taken wholesale back to another factory site for reworking, it is a definite sign that the manufacturer has lost control of its quality, its configuration and safety management, and its delivery organization, or all three,” Klein said.

    “The T made an obvious mistake in awarding a contract to Rotem,” Klein said.

    Reality Check Reply:

    Working story link: MBTA’s new Rotem bi-level commuter rail cars plagued with problems

    Paul Dyson Reply:

    Pity the reporter didn’t know enough to dig further, i.e. who else has bought these cars and are they also having problems? Metrolink here have had issues, not sure how bad and not receiving much publicity. Of course the weather here is kinder…

    Richard Mlynarik Reply:

    But Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority officials say the problems — including issues with doors, air-conditioning, brakes, and signal software — are a normal part of introducing new, more technologically advanced train cars into a transit system.

    “Railroad coaches are not like new autos that a buyer drives off the lot,” MBTA spokesman Joe Pesaturo said. “Modifications are made as necessary. . . . This is standard operating procedure throughout the transit industry.

    The MBTA’s $190 million purchase of 75 commuter rail cars from Hyundai Rotem USA was controversial from the start, as T officials in 2008 insisted that the lowest bidder would be able to deliver good-quality cars on time, even though the company had yet to open an assembly plant in the United States.

    Some of the problems center on the control cars, which are designed to be driven by engineers at the front of the train. The cars cannot be used on rail lines owned by Amtrak, which run south of Boston, because the car’s software is incompatible with the signal system. In some instances, signals inside the train indicate that the engineer has the OK to proceed when outside signals indicate that the train must wait.

    “These modern commuter rail cars are complex and exacting machines,” King said.

    America’s Finest Transportation Planning Professionals on the job!

    One-off design, to American specs. Check.

    Unique roll-your-own signalling system. Check.

    Buy American shell corporation with piss-poor all-American train assembly make-work petemkin factory. Check.

    “Advanced” equals basic features (working doors, toilets, HVAC, cab controls) on thirty year old passenger equipment anywhere outside the USA USA USA USA! Check.

    “Complex and exacting machines” = simple passenger car trailers with no propulsion systems, extremely primitive structural design, medium-high weight, and primitive passenger systems. Check.

    Lowing the bar so far that “years late and not working” is just what is to expected, this being America and this being the public sector and transit being a pure welfare operation for insiders with no relation at all to delivery of public service and public benefit. Check!

    Any questions raised are transparently finger-pointing by those seeking to big up a different Buy American scam shell corporation for future pork at the expense of the particular predictable failures of some other Buy American scam shell corporation. Shuffle the deck chairs! Check!

    Porking out the trade-protected transit-industrial complex (MBTA revolving door trough feeders, “Buy American” shell corporation fixers, All American “design” and “acceptance” and “oversight” consultancies, while screwing the public out of cash and out of the hope of a remotely first world transit system? Check, check, check, and checkmate.

    This is standard operating procedure throughout the transit industry.

    Excellent! World Class!

    Next up, joint Amtrak/CHSRA=PBQD HS train procurement! What could possibly go wrong?

    Joe Reply:

    I will make your sandwich poster

    The front:
    The boogie man is going to get you.

    The back:
    Built domestic or foreign – you are doomed.
    Repent. Church of Mylnarik

    Paul Dyson Reply:

    Joe: the problem is that Richard M is correct, if a little colorful in his language. The scariest part is the issue of compatibility between signalling systems, an area where transit officials duck into their holes faster than prairie dogs when the issue is raised. You can laugh it off if you like but this is a multi billion problem, the sort of thing that makes passenger rail the unaffordable option if you don’t get it under control.

    joe Reply:

    Correct about what? The man’s an ambulance chaser.

  17. morris brown
    Jan 29th, 2014 at 14:24

    Capitol Alert: California Supreme Court moves high-speed rail request to lower court

    The California Supreme Court, which had been asked by Gov. Jerry Brown’s administration to intervene in litigation challenging California’s high-speed rail project, referred the case to a lower court Wednesday and ordered its expedited review.

    The court transferred the case to the 3rd District Court of Appeal and ordered both sides to submit filings by Feb. 10.

    The action comes after a Sacramento Superior Court judge in November ordered the California High-Speed Rail Authority to rescind its original funding plan for the $68 billion project. The court found the plan failed to comply with provisions of Proposition 1A, the initiative in which voters approved the project in 2008.

    The Brown administration said in an appeal to the Supreme Court on Friday that lower court rulings “imperil” the project, threatening state and federal funding.

    The troubled project is proposed to connect Los Angeles and San Francisco. The project has been delayed, with state officials now hoping to begin construction in the Central Valley this year.

    So the “Hail Mary” effort on the part of the Governor has failed with extreme quickness.

    joe Reply:

    Really? Feb 10 2014 is less than two weeks away.
    Failure would be a rejection and they would direct the Gov appeal the case in the normal process.

    Elizabeth Reply:


    I don’t think this means the appeals court is taking the case. They have been told to decide in a hurry if they are taking the case.

    This seems an entirely appropriate. While the outcome is clearly important to the rail authority and they do need to make some decisions about their future soon, the normal path through the appellate court should be fine.

    It does say fairly clearly that the state supreme court is sympathetic to the chsra to clarify the situation but does not think it is, in the scheme of everything, that important.

    In the past the Supreme Court has taken cases where they felt differently, like one about whether or not the new districts were legal.

    Resident Reply:

    Even more, the State asked the Supreme Court to hear the case with urgency, attempting to not only move the timeline up, but to short cut the lower levels of appeal process, in essence they asked to move it all the up to the final level. This was the real ‘hail mary’ aspect.

    so, while they agreed to put the submission of preliminary filings on an earlier kick off, they did NOT agree to skip the appeal all the way up the chain to the Supreme Court level – they kicked it back down to the district appeals level. That’s an important rejection of one of the state’s key requests (which was to avoid levels of appeal to shorten the overall timeline).

    So they file the preliminary arguments by Feb 10 – big deal. That is not the date of closure of the appeal(s) process.

    So the supreme court basically only agreed to put the appeal on the normal appeal track, just expedite the kick off time.

    Elizabeth Reply:

    It is not preliminary arguments – it is the case against bothering to have arguments

    Resident Reply:

    Do you know if the filings in the appeal will be available publicly somewhere?

    Joe Reply:

    This seems an entirely appropriate. While the outcome is clearly important to the rail authority and they do need to make some decisions about their future soon, the normal path through the appellate court should be fine.

    It does say fairly clearly that the state supreme court is sympathetic to the chsra to clarify the situation but does not think it is, in the scheme of everything, that important.

    The Normal path thought the appellate court de facto decides in favor of the opposition. It’s clearly argued in the Petition, also clear from the outbursts by the plaintiffs lawyers that this petition can undermine there strategy of delay and defeat.

    It has been made clear in congressional testimony that this hold on funds should cause CA to stop the project and replan. The bi-partisan concensus is there is urgency. Dunham and Brown agree.

    I had hoped you would concede the obvious, that a normal appeal process is not a reasonable path for the State but alas …..

    The Supreme Court directing the Appellate court to look at the petition is evidence that the normal appeals process was NOT deemed appropriate to the Supreme Court. They could have refused to act in anyway.

    Kenny was put in a very difficult position. He clearly thought the Funding Plan was not compliant and would be willing to invalidate the Appropriation and send this back to square one. The Plaintiffs did not give him the case to make that decision. Plaintiffs did not challenge the Leglislature’s vote to Appropriate with a non compliant plan. He had no legal basis to invalidate the Appropriation.

    Kenny asked for help on remedies because he was hand tied. This all indicates he had little confidence in the options available to him, that an appeal was likely.

    Here we are.

    Resident Reply:

    “The Supreme Court directing the Appellate court to look at the petition is evidence that the normal appeals process was NOT deemed appropriate to the Supreme Court.” You have this logic completely backwards.

    The Supreme Court directing this case to be moved back down to the Appellate court level, rather than accepting the State’s request to bump it directly up to the Supreme Court level, is evidence that the normal appeals process WAS deemed appropriate by the Supreme Court. The only bone they were thrown was the earlier kick off to the appellate court proceeding.

    Its now right back in the hands of the appellate court level which was always available to them in the first place.

    Joe Reply:

    The normal process is “Go wait in line, you are bothering me.”

    Appellate courts do not routinely get tasked to expedite a case by the Supreme Court. This is a high priority case.

    They will be careful to not be prejudicial while referring the case to the appellate court.

  18. morris brown
    Jan 29th, 2014 at 14:44

    The short ruling from the State Supreme court can be viewed at:


    synonymouse Reply:

    Perhaps the California Supreme Court justices simply did not themselves have the stones to whack a fellow judge for Moonbeam. Leave it up to the lesser lites.

  19. jimsf
    Jan 29th, 2014 at 18:27

    OT/ Kawasaki’s train-car manufacturing division in Lincoln has an eye on new opportunities: combined requests for cars from Amtrak and California’s High-Speed Rail Authority.

    Amtrak issued a request Friday for proposals to supply it with 28 high-speed train sets, each with the capacity to carry between 400 and 450 passengers and the ability to match or exceed Acela speeds — to about 160 mph — on Amtrak’s existing Northeast Corridor between Boston and Washington, D.C.

    “With packed trains and increasing demand, the need to expand the capacity of Amtrak’s high-speed service cannot be overstated,” said Joseph Boardman, Amtrak’s president and CEO, in a statement. “It is absolutely critical that we get more high-speed trains as soon as possible to provide more service and meet the growing mobility and economic needs of the Northeast region.”

    California’s High-Speed Rail Authority wants 15 train sets with the capacity to carry at least 450 passengers and the ability to travel at least 200 mph, to operate between Los Angeles and the San Francisco Bay Area.

    Amtrak and the California authority combining their requests will “generate economies of scale and make it more attractive for high-speed rail manufacturers to build factories here in the USA, bringing new high-quality jobs and creating ripple effects throughout our domestic supply chain,” said Federal Railroad Administrator Joseph C. Szabo in a statement.

    Kawasaki is already “here” and very interested.

    “This is a high visibility project and Kawasaki has many years of experience manufacturing high speed rail,” Mike Boyle, Lincoln plant manager, said in an email. “We are interested and currently studying the specifications to see whether or not this project fits in our wheelhouse.”

    Amtrak, in its announcement, said the goal of its purchase is “to identify whether established high-speed rail equipment manufacturers have service-proven designs that can meet both the short-term needs of Amtrak and the long-term operational needs of the Authority and Amtrak with little or no modification.”

    Amtrak said it hopes the “joint procurement” will result in “lower unit acquisition and life-cycle costs for both Amtrak and the Authority, while helping expand the U.S. role in high-speed rail equipment manufacturing.”

    Only existing high-speed-rail equipment manufacturers with equipment in operation for at least two years are eligible to submit a bid, Amtrak said. Bids are due May 17.

    A winning bidder will be selected this year, Amtrak said.

    Most recently, Kawasaki has delivered new passenger train cars from Lincoln to the Metro-North passenger rail system that serves Connecticut from New York City, and to the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority.

  20. Anandakos
    Feb 3rd, 2014 at 19:53

    Neel Kash And Kari. You bring the Kash, he Karries your bags.

  21. Anandakos
    Feb 3rd, 2014 at 20:02

    Yglesias has demonstrated clearly that the “crowding out” effect is only true during times of capacity constraint. I think we can all agree that construction is a LONG way from “capacity constrained” at this time in our National destiny. NOW is the time to build stuff; of course, to get the best economic return it has to be the RIGHT stuff, but CAHSR certainly qualifies for that.

    HSR would help revitalize the central cities on the Valley, but unfortunately Fresno just took a step back from that, so I don’t know how much political backing that has. It IS Republican country.

    Without the new rail line, though, SR99 is going to have to be widened by at least one lane from Stockton to Fresno, and the median has already been taken most places. That will cost at least as much and do much less to meet California’s carbon goals.

    Derek Reply:

    Without the new rail line, though, SR99 is going to have to be widened by at least one lane from Stockton to Fresno…

    The demand curve says otherwise.

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