Debate Continues Over HSR Cap-and-Trade Funding

Apr 28th, 2014 | Posted by

Political leaders in Sacramento are debating how exactly to allocate cap-and-trade revenues, and high speed rail is a part of that discussion – as Dan Walters explains:

Gov. Jerry Brown’s 2014-15 budget would spend $850 million, with his financially troubled bullet train receiving $250 million, plus a guaranteed one-third of future revenues.

[Legislative Analyst Mac] Taylor has opined that it may be illegal to spend fees on the bullet train because it would not meet the law’s emission reduction mandate. Environmentalists who like the cap-and-trade system are leery of that commitment as well, preferring direct spending on greenhouse gas reduction.

Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg, meanwhile, has unveiled his own fee proposal that provides markedly less for the bullet train and emphasizes two of his personal priorities, low-income housing and commuter transit, although housing may have even less nexus to greenhouse gases than the bullet train.

There’s a lot of flawed things here. The worst is the idea that the Legislative Analyst is right about what is and is not an appropriate use of cap-and-trade revenues. The LAO is not in a position to provide an accurate answer to that question. The California Air Resources Board (CARB) is the agency most familiar with the AB 32 rules, and they have included HSR in their plans for cap-and-trade revenues. The only other state agency with any authority to weigh in on this would be the Legislative Counsel or the Attorney General and to my knowledge they either have not done so or have concluded that this is indeed a legitimate use of funds.

Of course, this blog also thoroughly debunked the LAO’s claims back in January, and all I had to do was actually read AB 32. One also merely has to apply some common sense. AB 32 is all about long-term CO2 reduction, that was the entire point of it being written and adopted, and so of course it would allow cap-and-trade funds to be used on HSR.

Anyhow. Dan Walters’ argument that neither HSR nor housing have a nexus to CO2 reduction is clearly absurd. Transportation emissions make up a substantial portion of overall CO2 emissions in California. Electric trains reduce a lot of that CO2 emissions. So too does shortening the commute by building more housing near workplaces and transit nodes.

As we know, environmentalists who oppose funding long-term CO2 reduction are unserious about addressing global warming and consigning California’s coastline, including the delta, to rising waters. Hopefully either Governor Brown’s or Senator Steinberg’s proposal for using cap-and-trade funds for HSR prevails. The alternative is to throw California to the waves.

  1. nick
    Apr 28th, 2014 at 15:37

    HS2 hybrid second reading just passed 450 for to 42 against.

    Richard Mlynarik Reply:

    Christian Wolmar: What’s the point of HS2? London Review of Books Vol. 36 No. 8 17 April 2014
    (I have no informed opinion on HS2, other than to note its Anglospheric, stratospheric costs.)

    nick Reply:

    What’s the point of Christian Wolmar ?

    EJ Reply:

    Ooooh, sick burn, bro!

    Richard Mlynarik Reply:

    Take up with him:
    Maybe you ought also to declare your candidacy to be Mayor of London and let him have it re Euston and HS2 in that forum?

    Ted Judah Reply:

    I would bet this is really about sovereignty. H2 builds into a Paris-centric pan-European rail system that limits how disconnected the UK can be from the Continent. It also weakens British Airways’s position for international travel.

    Reality Check Reply:

    Hey Ted, did you not read the part about how the new chairman of HS2, David Higgens suggested dumping the HS2 – HS1 link:

    Higgins suggested scrapping the link between HS2 and HS1, for two reasons: the ridiculous £700 million cost for a few miles of railway between Old Oak Common and Camden, and because part of it would have to run along the North London line, a highly successful commuter and freight track recently revamped at huge cost. This decision rather undermines one of the fundamental reasons for HS2. Without the European connection, travellers to the Continent will have to trudge half a mile along the Euston Road, or possibly stand on a long travelator — though the British Library inconveniently blocks the way. The prospect might be enough to deter the few people — even HS2 Ltd reckoned there would be only a handful of trains a day linking cities north of London with the Continent — who would choose to go by train rather than fly, say, between Birmingham and Brussels.

    Ted Judah Reply:

    No, I didn’t…but that would explain why the Conservatives are voting for it.

    Eric Reply:

    I wonder how many people consider Birmingham/Manchester->London->Paris->some other location to be a competitive option for their trips. If not many, then the sovereignty worries are misguided.

    Ted Judah Reply:

    Nope, got it backwards.

    The issue intercontinental flights. If you can fly into DeGaulle and hop a TGV to somewhere else in Europe as fast as a flight connection, you will do it every time. BA relies on passengers going to Europe from London to subsidize its flights to Africa and Asia. BA uses these European flights to dominate US to European flights as well. Once that advantage is gone, it’s a big loss for the Brits.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    You can fly into DeGaulle and catch a TGV now. Being able to catch a TGV at DeGaulle isn’t very useful if your choices for international flights is Heathrow or JFK. Being able to fly into London on the three times a week flight from Obscuristan and catching a train to Brussels makes London more important not less. And being able to take the train to Brussels frees up a slot at the airport to increase the frequency to and from Obscuristan because there are no longer any flights to Brussels.

    Eric Reply:

    “BA uses these European flights to dominate US to European flights as well.”

    How? I don’t understand this.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    For the same reason JFK dominates European to US flights. New York City is a big destination if not the biggest destination and there are many connections to be made at JFK.

    Ted Judah Reply:

    If you Google the term “open skies”, you will see the EU and US negotiate over access to fligths and airports. The Bermuda 2 treaty gave BA preference for landing slots in the US for airports. As it stands now, BA serves many US cities Lufthansa and Air France won’t touch.

    And if you pull data, you will see more travelers from SFO and LAX fly to Heathrow than the Continent. Part of the advantage is the connection to a smaller European city. Once that is not a big advantage for BA, they will get hit on transatlantic flights as well.

    EJ Reply:

    IIRC it was the conservatives that wanted a direct HS2 – Heathrow Connection, which was ultimately scrapped as not cost-effective. But that was envisioned as a way for more international travelers to easily connect to Scotland and the West Midlands.

    I don’t really see any likely scenario, at least not anywhere in the near future, where there would be a big market for overseas travelers to fly to Heathrow and then connect to the continent via HSR. Keep in mind that London-Paris or London-Brussels via HSR is already near the outer limit of the journey times where HSR is considered competitive with air; and if you’re connecting directly through the airport, some of the major time advantages of HSR (connection directly to the city center, faster and more convenient boarding procedure), aren’t really valid.

    I suppose there’s someone, somewhere, who wants to go to, say, Lille or Calais, and lives in a city with a direct connection to Heathrow but not to CDG, and they might prefer to fly to Heathrow and take a train across the channel than connect through CDG. Pretty small market, though, I’m guessing.

    EJ Reply:

    Also bear in mind the UK isn’t party to the Schengen agreement, so anyone taking a hypothetical train from Heathrow to the continent is going to have to go through customs twice.

    Ted Judah Reply:

    You already have to go through customs twice connecting at Heathrow. Rigt now, I believe there is preclearance of pAssengers on the EuroStar, even through Belgium.

  2. nick
    Apr 28th, 2014 at 15:44

    and as far as cap and trade is concerned I don’t see any problem in using some of these funds for less polluting lower co2 high speed rail. In the UK most London Paris journeys are made by Eurostar via HS1 rather then by short haul flights. Domestically 8% of journeys using HS1 were trips previously taken by car. So it is clear that general HSR has lower co2 and other related emissions then do competing modes and of course the electricity used can be generated by renewables

    Richard Mlynarik Reply:

    So it is clear that general HSR has lower co2 and other related emissions then do competing modes

    Quite possibly true.

    Is sinking billions of [your currency here] into HSR the most effective to reduce CO2 emissions?

    Almost certainly not, in almost every case.

    EJ Reply:

    Long distance trips account for such a small fraction of total distance traveled per person. You get a lot more bang for your buck by investing in carbon-neutral local transit. I mean if you’re serious about CO2 reduction, the obvious priority is to get daily commuters onto electrically powered trains, trams, buses, etc. Better yet, improve bicycle infrastructure.

    Now, of course the position of this blog seems to be that we have all the money we need and can prioritize everything.

    nick Reply:

    hsr choo choos haver lower emissions then competing transport modes. the min need for hs2 is capacity and if that is not forthcoming then travellers will be forced to use other more polluting modes. The best way of reducing emissions would be for people not to travel but given that rail usage in the uk has doubled in the last 15 years this is not likely.

    Joe Reply:

    Cutting all science R&D and using the funds to by low emission led bulbs would be more effective way to cut co2 emissions. Care to troll the climate blogs?

    nick Reply:

    That is all very well but you wont be able to travel from la to san fran using low emissions bulbs. If people are to continue traveling then we need to do so by modes which have lower emissions.

  3. jimsf
    Apr 28th, 2014 at 17:50

    Come cap and trade funds should go to a state program for home and small business energy efficiency grants for weatherproofing, old appliance upgrading and so forth. I think there have been other programs such as this in the past for limited time periods. The biggest problem we have with engery ( and water ) usage, is probably the amount of waste. Its not only energy, but money, that goes up in smoke in the form of waste. Grants should be available for small business owners as well. While new homes in california have to meet modern guildlines, there millions of older homes, including those built in the 1800s, that do not. Also, retrofitting for modern energy efficiency should be made exempt from local and state preservation laws. Currently, preservationists have a headlock on “historic” buildings and many will not allow even common sense changes.

    Joe Reply:

    Preservation laws such as?

    Mills act law allows for upgrades like windows keeping with home look and feel but afaik don’t require historic preservation standards.

    jimsf Reply:

    well I’m familiar with some issues for instance in older amtrak stations. In Davis for instance, we can’t tamper with the sliding baggage door to seal a hole for added security and in Sacramento for instance, the historic society will not allow air conditioning to be added to the the lobby so that year after year, passengers sit in the lobby in sweltering triple digit heat all summer. Its ridiculous especially when you consider that many parts of these and other “hisotric” buildings, have been altered many times since they were built. At what point do those older alterations become off limits? Its totally arbitrary.

    Joe Reply:

    Historical preservation is onerous.

    I thought you were going off about the home renovations. We’re just about to add replacement windows. Way too outside noisy at times and the old home is drafty.

    Las Pilitas nursery ships native CA plants
    The right ones for your area can be pretty maintenance free. The website helps with picking the right one or ask some one at u Davis.

  4. joe
    Apr 28th, 2014 at 21:23

    Legislative Analyst Mac] Taylor has opined that it may be illegal to spend fees on the bullet train because it would not meet the law’s emission reduction mandate.

    Mac Taylor
    Legislative Analyst

    MPA, Public Affairs, Princeton University
    BA, Political Science, University of California, Riverside

    Opinion of a dude with a Poli-Sci BA and Masters in Public Affairs is that HSR is not complaint with Cap n Trade Law.

    Tony D. Reply:

    Well, if CARB believes that HSR is appropriate for Cap N Trade funding, doesn’t that kind of throw cold water all over this Legislative Analysts opinion re “illegal” use of funds? Just asking…

    joe Reply:

    Legality is legal and that’s the AG’s role to determine legality or issue warnings.

    Mac’s throwing around FUD for the newspapers.

    Paul Druce Reply:

    And your credentials would be…?

    joe Reply:

    I go licensed Medical Dr.s for medical advice, lawyers for legal advice and accountants for financial issues. I have my electrical done by licensed and insured electricians.

    Mac ain’t a Lawyer and he isn’t a carbon emissions expert. He’s out of his expertise and IMHO charter for his role as an analyst.

    I’m a certified ecologist, published and cited and NSF reviewer among other credentials. One of my paid responsibilities is to assess credentials and qualifications. He’s coming up way short.

    What do you think?

    Paul Druce Reply:

    And you’ve access to the entirety of his CV in order to judge appropriately? After all, those degrees don’t restrict him from being a certified ecologist himself (Source). And given that you aren’t a lawyer, what makes you think that you can appropriately state whether it meets the legal requirement?

    John Nachtigall Reply:

    i think that he is representing an entire group of people, not just himself

    I think that the LAO is paid to anaylize laws in a non-partisian manner for the legislature

    and I think that everyone loved the LAO when they said the ridership numbers were reasonable, now that you dont like what they are saying you seem to like them a lot less. They are no more experts on ridership than CO2 reductions.

    They are paid to look into issues and issue opinions. there opinion, BTW, is shared by other enviromentalists who are undisputed experts. So even if you dismiss the LAO, how do you dismiss the Sierra Club and other groups that exist solely to understand and lobby about enviromental issues like CO2?

    Joe Reply:

    He’s not a lawyer. The legality question is outside the position’s responsibility or they would’ve hired people with law degrees.

    Do you let performing arts majors do your dental work?

    synonymouse Reply:

    And what exactly are Kimiko Burton’s credentials?

    joe Reply:

    Her gender. That credential qualifies her to be on your list of undeserving minorities and women.

    Hey, you can now get LA Clippers jerseys for cheap on ebay.

    synonymouse Reply:

    Who you know, but best to be related.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    The Sierra Club is filled with BANANAs.

    jonathan Reply:

    I’m a certified ecologist, published and cited and NSF reviewer

    Citation needed. ell us your publications. Were they peer-reviewed? What was the acceptance rate?

    Tell us the name of the NSF equivalent (s) of DARPA “Program Director”, for whom you review proposals. Put up, or shut up.

    jonathan Reply:

    Oh, and I bet Joe is going to refuse to answer, on the grounds that I made a one-character HTML formatting error. In a venue which does *not* offer previews.

    Won’t *that* stand him in good stead with his scientist “peers” … !

    jonathan Reply:

    here we go again, because Joe is a scientist of such good repute, he refuses to answer on-topic questions because of minor HTML formatting errors….

    I’m a certified ecologist, published and cited and NSF reviewer […]

    Citations needed. Tell us your publications. Were they peer-reviewed? What was the acceptance rate?

    Tell us the name of the NSF equivalent (s) of DARPA “Program Director”, for whom you review proposals. Put up, or shut up.

    joe Reply:

    No, thanks. I’m not interested in inviting an asshole into my life. I prefer to remain anonymous. I wouldn’t want you stalking my professional life. Only an idiot would demand I name a DARPA or NSF “Director” and subject them to your bullshit.

    jonathan Reply:

    No, thanks. […]

    Then your claim is worthless, and you are indistinguishable from a liar. A piece of filth.

    if you have the intellecutal integrity of a slime-mold, you will give us the citations for your claimed publications. Or, as a scientist, by scientific standards, *YOU ARE A LIAR*.

    it’s that simple, Joe. It really is.

    Donk Reply:

    Wow. You are really going overboard with this. Why don’t you post your CV then?

    joe Reply:

    Simply don’t want you poking in my life. I don’t want you harassing me, my family, my co-workers or anyone. There are many reasons to remain anonymous – you’re one of the top 10.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    Not that I’m familiar with the NSF grant process at this stage of my career, but I would not name the journals I refereed papers for, because the refereeing is anonymous and I would not want to give the paper authors hints as to the fact that I was their referee.

    joe Reply:

    Good point. Policy on reviewing NSF grants (NSF reviews are for grants) is you CANNOT tell you were a reviewer for a program “solicitation”.

    For a journal, depending on the policy and community size, I’d be less concerned. You could list those reweighing responsibilities (IMHO). Follow what your peers do. Always write as if it will be read publicly even knowing anonymity is guaranteed..

    I also worked for a while on authoring review summaries back to researchers. It’s a pain in the ass to have a review written with inflammatory commentary and have to distil out the useful material that can put into a letter to the writer.

    Donk Reply:

    The NIH lists all of the reviewers that serve on each of their panels. But they usually have like 30 people on each panel, so it is pretty hard to guess which of the reviewers were the primary/secondary reviewers on your proposal. NSF and NASA typically have smaller panels and that might be a reason why the panelists are kept anonymous. DoD panels are a joke and based mostly on schmoozing and lobbying, so they purposely try to hide the details.

    jonathan Reply:

    This used, perhaps, to be the difference between “5th floor’ and “6rh floor’ DARPA/ARPA grants.
    Note i said ARPA, not DoD.

    I say again: if you claim publications, and you refuse to say what they are , or where they are published, *YOU ARE NOT A SCIENTIST*.

    This is apparently news to you, but in science, the source of a criticism is not at issue: it’s the criticism itself, and how well-founded iit is, which is at issue. Well-educated high-school students understand that. You, patently, do not.

    If your publications, or credentials, cannot withstand review or criticism, then *you are not a scientist*. It’s that simple.

    joe Reply:

    Most all my experiences, the final reviews are a consensus of the panel. Not all reviewers travel to the panel meeting but if you do travel then you’d know. Even with 30, you know each person who was there heard a summary of the review and agreed with it as a panel voting member. Attending reviewers would also know the written reviewers.

    The panel size is one consideration. Also, the pool size of community would matter. I assume there are a many more practicing researchers for NIH. You want to avoid collusion. Prof X goes up in this cycle and the next cycle Magneto has his proposal and have a mutually assured incentive to go easy on each other.

  5. synonymouse
    Apr 28th, 2014 at 21:36
  6. morris brown
    Apr 28th, 2014 at 21:37

    There are other views on this important issue:

    Let me suggest these:

    LAO opinion letter:

    and this memo:

    joe Reply:

    Certainly Mac Taylor with a BA in PoliSci and a Masters in Public Affairs is neither assigned the responsibility to and is poorly qualified to opine about the legality of cap and trade uses and how to evaluate cap and trade’s emission effectiveness.

    joe Reply:

    This attack on HSR via “flawed rider-ship” is Dead On Arrival.

    And others have concluded that the Authority’s ridership estimates are flawed, and that such flaws cast doubt on the Authority’s GHG emissions reduction estimates.

    The GAO concluded otherwise and the model, under constant peer review, has improved since 2010 with new rider-ship and revenue estimates.

  7. joe
    Apr 28th, 2014 at 21:45

    Not “The Onion” it’s all from The Almanac, local paper for PAMPA.

    Menlo Park compiles comments on Caltrain electrification impact report

    Menlo Park Senior Transportation Engineer Nicole Nagaya. While acknowledging the positive environmental impacts electrification could have on air quality and greenhouse gas emissions, Menlo Park should ask Caltrain to:

    * Consider improving the efficiency of its diesel trains instead of electrifying its tracks.

    * Look at other options for electricity, such as running a third rail as BART does instead of installing overhead power lines.

    * Evaluate other power companies besides PG&E as potential suppliers.

    * Improve pedestrian and bicycle infrastructure at train stations.

    * Examine grade separations as part of the project.

    Jack Ringham, who serves on Atherton’s rail committee, presented a detailed report at Thursday’s meeting that made an argument for optimizing diesel engines as a better choice than electrification. Caltrain’s draft impact report says that electric trains can be quieter, emit less air pollution and increase the trip frequency, while diesel alternatives, in addition to being incompatible with high-speed rail, would not decrease trip times or operating expenses, and therefore discourage the type of service expansion that could increase ridership.

    Citing low ridership on the current trains and the loss of aesthetic environments that can accompany transit upgrades, Menlo Park resident Eileen Lehman, told the city in an email that there “is no demand for better public transportation that justifies destroying a middle class (for Menlo Park) neighborhood of young working couples, couples with small children, single people and a few retired people. The area between Ravenswood and Glenwood is where a lot of people get introduced to Menlo Park. Keep it nice. And of course, I cannot attend the meeting, because like most people in my neighborhood, I have to work, and can’t make a meeting at 6 p.m.”

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    yes the roar of diesel engines and the fumes gently wafting through the neighborhood add so much to the ambiance.

    Tony D. Reply:

    These folks in PAMPA are complete idiots!

    synonymouse Reply:

    Rich idiots.

    synonymouse Reply:

    Hey Tejon Ranch does not want it either. Who died and gave them a pass?

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    Chandlers apparently

    Eric Reply:

    “like most people in my neighborhood, I have to work, and can’t make a meeting at 6 p.m.”

    That’s a valid point. No meeting on public issues should be held before 7-8pm.

  8. Donk
    Apr 28th, 2014 at 22:51

    This bill lost all legitimacy when low-income housing was added to it.

    On the plus side, adding low income housing to this bill is so ridiculous, that it will create a smoke-screen for HSR. How can anyone criticize HSR on this bill, now that there is such an egregious target for conservatives as low-income housing.

  9. morris brown
    Apr 28th, 2014 at 23:21

    Post-ABC News poll shows Democrats at risk in November as Obama’s approval rating falls

    So much for Robert’s dream of taking over the House and retaining the Senate majority in this fall’s election.

    joe Reply:

    Why even bother holding elections?

    Oh –

    But Democrats held a razor-thin margin among registered voters for this fall’s House elections, 45 percent to Republicans’ 44 percent, according to the survey. Voters said they favored Democrats 43-35 percent on health care, 52-32 percent on issues facing the middle class and a whopping 55-25 percent on women’s issues, so candidates may be able to capitalize on those particular strengths during their campaigns.

    StevieB Reply:

    Democrats outscore on several important issues reports Politico on the same survey.

    Voters say that they trust Democrats to better handle the main problems facing the U.S. (40-34 percent), the economy (41-38 percent) and health care (43-35 percent).

    This years elections are anything but certain.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    It’s still too early in the cycle to be sure of anything. Mostly because the Republicans haven’t had much to say. These days they tend to say awful things that offend voters as the election nears.

  10. KolbAte10Eggs
    Apr 29th, 2014 at 07:36

    Off Topic (but I wasn’t sure how else to contribute this information)…

    There was an interesting story yesterday on Colorado Public Radio about the private investments that are re-defining the Lower Downtown (LoDo) area in Denver (new office, retail, residential, entertainment, etc.), coinciding with the soon-to-open redeveloped Union Station. The new, multi-modal Union Station will soon have a number of bus connections, light right, commuter rail, and perhaps in the future (so far unfunded and mostly unplanned) high speed rail. Denver’s Union Station shows how HSR stations could revitalize downtowns in California. If anyone is interested, here’s the link:

    In separate news also on Denver’s Union Station redevelopment, there was a Wall Street Journal article about a month ago on the unique way that the redevelopment authority funded the project. Again, it could serve as a new model for other projects.


  11. Joe
    Apr 29th, 2014 at 11:59

    Forbes economic “crystal ball gazing”:
    “Google’s Driverless Cars Will Just Kill High Speed Rail Like HS2.”

    ” The most likely current technology to get killed off is going to be long distance (and high speed) passenger rail travel.”

    Nadia Reply:

    Jeff Barker – former communications and policy person for the CA authority said the same thing shortly after he left two years ago.

    Nadia Reply:

    sorry – that is CAHSRA not CA Authority

    Ted Judah Reply:

    Car ownership is declining among Millennials and land use is trending toward density incompatible with auto use.

    Self-driving cars, flying cars, cars that fold up into a suitcase…none of those technologies solve the bigger structural problems.

    synonymouse Reply:

    It really could be a problem. As it stands it is possible to drive from the Northbay to Anaheim in reasonably fast time and if you have more than one passenger the savings are considerable. Plus you have the car in auto-oriented Socal.

    So any type of improvement of freeway travel will make autos more competitive and electric powered cuts into the environmental argument. In France, according to France2, young people in particular like to drive and young people, say on vacation, constitute an important hsr ridership target.

    Upshot is hsr has to be fast as well as not too pricey. You are going to need the sustained high speeds that the express route provides. To save this project Richards and PB need to be canned and a new crowd taking over Jerry’s senile ear.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    It’s possible, that doesn’t mean people want to do it. which is the reason why there are flights between San Francisco and Los Angeles now.

    Eric Reply:

    Self driving cars will never go 200mph.

    I wonder if they can go 100mph over a sustained distance, and if so, if their overall trip time will be HSR-competitive.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    They can’t go 100 through the 70 MPH curves.

    synonymouse Reply:

    DogLegRail is not going to be doing 200mph. With Muni-style pet union mechanics they’ll be lucky to achieve 160mph.

    All stop at Palmdale.

    EJ Reply:

    How is Muni going to get to run CAHSR? How is a transit union like ATU going to force its way into an intercity railroad when they’ve never done it before?

    synonymouse Reply:

    muni-style house union tied monetarily to Brown and Pelosi – undocumented no shows, unlimited OT, effectively non-fireable – run down PBHSR the way Amalgamated runs BART.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    Mein Luftkissenfahrzeug ist voller Aale

    EJ Reply:

    OK, so no real answer. It’s an insult to call it a conspiracy theory, since conspiracy theorists usually put some actual work into it.

    synonymouse Reply:

    You don’t think those mechanics will be organized by a militant union that give lots of money to Brown and Pelosi or their replacements when these finally exit?

    Ted Judah Reply:

    The real answer is that just as companies are consolidating and agglomerating en masse currently, it is the same thing with unions. My understanding is that the Transport Workers Union (TWU) is much closer to Speaker Pelosi than the ATU. Part of the reason is United Airlines is a TWU company. So I think it is possible that the two could merge and spin off the AFL CIO.

    The other possibility (not bloody likely) is that MUNI could be the managing agency for the HSR operation like how BART supervises the Capitol Corridor. However, given the rivalry that would create, I think it is not going to happen. I could see an independent agency merging with BART to do intercity rail, but the Southern California agencies are not organized that way.

    Still, I do think that Veolia or other non union contractors are dreaming about getting a piece of the HSR pie. That is not something that the bosses will surrender.

    synonymouse Reply:

    Veolia wouldn’t stand a chance of keeping a PBHSR franchise. The unions would oppose the notion from the get-go for starters and if it did come to pass it would not last for long. The unions would strike and the paid-off pols would support the unions.

    Government employees nowadays are expected to function as foot soldiers for the party bosses.

    BART as template for PBHSR is not a perfect fit but it is by far the closest as the physical infrastructure and the ROW are government owned. Others operate, at least in part, on privately owned trackage.

    TWU has SF, which is Pelosi’s home turf, but Amalgamated seems to be more aggressive in organizing new ops. I cannot imagine BLE-UTU keeping PBHSR as the urban transit outfits have better political connections and can promise and deliver richer compensation packages and featherbedded work rules.

    Ted Judah Reply:

    I think the key is the airlines. I don’t know which are TWU or ATU, but I seem to recall United is TWU. That is a huge boost because if the union an represent different modes it strengthens their power.

    joe Reply:

    Merging isn’t going to do much. They can coordinate a bit better but the key is to grow membership and that means organizing and taking on some entrenched powers like the NCAA and WalMart – hotels and food service.

    Ted Judah Reply:

    The most successful unions: SAG, NFLPA, have no competition. Consolidating industries would be a boon for transit unions.

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