Soaring Caltrain Ridership Puts Capacity Expansion Back on the Agenda

Apr 6th, 2014 | Posted by

Caltrain ridership continues to boom and even the addition of new cars may not be enough to stay ahead of demand:

With Caltrain attracting about 4,300 new weekday riders every year since 2010, ridership will reach almost 60,000 on weekdays this summer, and could surpass 75,000 by 2018….

To alleviate crowding in coming years, Caltrain is planning to run longer trains using 11 to 16 used train cars to be purchased from Los Angeles Metrolink for $8 to $10 million. By 2015, Caltrain riders could see some five-car trains extended to six. Those trains would burn more fuel and require more maintenance, but would also boost seat capacity from 650 seats to 780. Caltrain’s two busiest trains started seeing more than 780 passengers per train on typical weekdays since February of last year.

While the 20 percent increase in those trains’ capacity would help mitigate the Caltrain crunch, it took just two years (2011 to 2013) for weekday ridership to increase by 20 percent. So, the added seats may be filled by 2015.

As a result, passenger rail advocates on the Peninsula are rightly calling for Caltrain to explore other capacity solutions. Adina Levin and Clem Tillier, two names familiar to readers of this blog, are quoted in the Streetsblog article offering their thoughts on the issue:

“We want to see Caltrain address the capacity crunch strategically,” said Adina Levin, Co-founder of Friends of Caltrain. “Caltrain should be planning for expected ridership based on demand from cities and employers, and proposing capacity improvements to address the demand.”

Levin says level boarding platforms and wider trains could provide major increases in Caltrain’s capacity. The agency hasn’t sufficiently analyzed those measures’ costs, timelines, or most importantly, their potential for meeting future ridership demand….

Some of the scenarios for electric Caltrain service analyzed in the agency’s draft environmental impact report on electrification are perplexingly unambitious. When service to San Francisco’s Transbay Transit Center begins in 2022, Caltrain only plans to run two trains per hour to the grand new hub, while up to four other trains would still stop at the existing 4th and King Station. The Transbay Center will have over 100,000 jobs located within a half-mile radius – more jobs than every other Caltrain station combined.

“This station absolutely must be served by each and every train, and it would be highly counter-productive to terminate any train at 4th and King,” wrote Clem Tillier, author of a blog on building a Caltrain system compatible with California High-Speed Rail.

I fully agree with both Levin and Tillier on this. Levin’s suggestions for level boarding and wider trains are sensible planning and can add capacity easily without a big capital investment on the ground. And Tillier is absolutely right that for a variety of reasons, Caltrain needs to send as many trains as possible to the Transbay Terminal. After all, it’s much better served by connecting mass transit lines than 4th and King, even when the Central Subway opens.

Others on the Peninsula are coming to understand the importance of electrification in solving the Caltrain crunch, such as Paul Bendix at the Almanac Online

Use it. That is the interim answer to speeding Caltrain service from Menlo Park.

As for the long run: support electrification….

Until Caltrain electrifies – within the next few years – the rail service will operate under strain. Meanwhile, be patient. Keep riding the rails. And whenever possible, ride them from Menlo Park.

Bendix is right as well. Electrification speeds trains along the corridor, creating more space on the tracks for additional trains to serve the corridor.

But even if level boarding, wider trains, and electrification are adopted, there’s still one major obstacle to providing Caltrain with the capacity it needs – adding two new sets of tracks to the Peninsula rail corridor.

As long as the corridor includes just two sets of tracks, rather than the four that the ROW can currently accommodate, Caltrain will be operating under artificially low constraints. When Highway 101 was jammed with traffic, new lanes were added. Of course, widening a freeway is bad transportation and bad environmental policy. But it did prove that more space meant the facility could carry more users.

Adding new tracks to the Peninsula rail corridor was incredibly controversial a few years ago, and it led the state to develop the “blended plan” for high speed rail service to San Francisco. This plan was intended as an interim phase until adding the new tracks on the corridor became politically possible. That plan has raised questions about whether the bullet trains can make the SF to LA trip in the legally required 2 hours 40 minutes.

The “blended plan” is bad planning imposed as a result of shortsighted NIMBYism. Above all it puts an artificial cap on Caltrain ridership, ensuring that the system will be prevented from having the capacity it needs to handle soaring ridership. And from a transportation and environmental perspective, getting as many people as possible to ride Caltrain is a top priority for the Bay Area.

Adding two sets of tracks remains controversial, and I expect that many advocates will continue to see it as a last resort given that contentiousness. But it cannot be avoided. Even if high speed rail didn’t serve SF at all via the Peninsula, more tracks – as well as grade separations – will eventually be required to allow Caltrain ridership to keep up with demand.

There’s no good reason why someone who wants to ride Caltrain should be turned away because a nearby homeowner felt wider tracks or an overpass would offend their personal view of what their city should look like.

  1. Jerry
    Apr 6th, 2014 at 18:17
    #1

    Four tracks all the way.

    Jonathan Reply:

    Four tracks *all* the way is not viable. Check Clem’s blog for the details.
    (Think: going around the side of a mountain, on the edge of the Bay, Or around freeway piers, that kind of thing).

    I suppose it _could_ be done, with huge amounts of tunneling, or cutting; but the cost is appalling, and the benefit — for short sections of 2-way track in a predominantly 4-track system — is fairly low.
    Especially since (if memory serves, which it might not) the crippling-to-quad-track sections have speed restrictions anyway.

  2. Paul Dyson
    Apr 6th, 2014 at 19:25
    #2

    Help me understand “wider trains”.

    Clem Reply:

    Read all about it here.

    Robert Cruickshank Reply:

    Updated the post with a link to your post.

  3. James M in Irvine, CA
    Apr 6th, 2014 at 19:26
    #3

    I hope Metrolink doesn’t sell too many cars. According to San Gabriel Valley Tribune, the morning express trains are usually standing room. Metrolink won’t be able to run extra expresses until some double track get added.

    Full trains either north or south means Californians will ride trains. The more, the more convenient the schedule, the more people will be attracted to rail.

    Paul Dyson Reply:

    Presumably after Caltrain electrification Metrolink can “buy” these cars back. What we need is a state rolling stock program to figure out what is needed rather than the JPBs showing up at the store and buying their own Lionel sets at inflated prices. Given the time it has taken to deliver the Prop 1B cars for the intercity services the process had better start 10 years ago.

    Robert Cruickshank Reply:

    Ideally this would have been part of a state rail plan – some sort of standardization of rolling stock. But then that becomes difficult when some routes are electrified, some aren’t, BART has a different gauge than Metro Rail, and so on.

    Of course, a state rail plan ought to look at things like electrifying Metrolink as well as Caltrain so that both agencies can get savings through bulk orders.

    And yeah, the timeline to deliver the rolling stock authorized by Prop 1B is completely ridiculous, though much of that delay is Arnold Schwarzenegger’s fault.

    Richard Mlynarik Reply:

    There is no saving through “bulk” orders (at the less than thousands of “car” units) in the way that you imagine because the global rail industry is geared towards orders in the hundreds range.

    If you really want to save in bulk, order exactly what somebody in Japan or Germany is buying, including software and driver interface language.

    Otherwise, you’re just imaging something that doesn’t exist and doesn’t make sense and isn’t how the real rail industry works here on Planet Earth.

    As for a state rail plan dictating equipment and vendors: what a magnificent recipe for corruption, vendor capture, cartel formation, trade restraint through murky agency fiat, and political override of contract terms and outcomes.

    You really do aim for the worst possible outcome nearly every time!

    What does work is a multi-vendor environment, with reasonable and transparent contract terms, bite-size (not winner-takes-all, forever) contracts that allow smaller innovative companies a look in, progressive phase-in of equipment (again allowing more bite-size contracts, and preventing “big bang” repair/renewal/retirement/replacement all coming due at once), attention to the delivery record of vendors (with real penalties and exclusion for shortcomings, not CHSRA-style active reward of massive PBQD failure.)

    Central Choo Choo Planning Kommission of Kalifornia Must Be Obeyed!

    BTW Single-vendor CBOSS is exactly what CCCPKoK would come up with.

    EJ Reply:

    So which is it? Order hundreds of off the shelf japanese or german cars, or place a bunch of little orders with small vendors?

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    Japanese commuter trains are narrow gauge, not wide enough and too short. German commuter trains use the same gauge as US trains but are too narrow and too short. .

    swing hanger Reply:

    Ah, but there are numerous Japanese private railway operators that use 1435mm gauge track. Anyway, the problems are antiquated FRA regulations, “Buy America” rules, and sclerotic, stuck in 1899 operating practices- any competent German or Japanese builder can scale up their proven designs.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    Like this?

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hankyu_1300_series

    Too narrow, too short, too slow. Make it wider, longer and faster it’s no longer off the shelf.

    One of Bombardier’s bigger orders.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/M7_(railcar)

    One of Kawasaki’s medium sized orders

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/M8_(railcar)

    Evans Reply:

    M7 and M8 are FRA compliant rolling stock. Caltrain is looking for non-FRA.
    I don’t think Japanese 1435 mm gauge EMU are Caltrain’s consideration. However, operating practice of those Japanese private railway are worth study for Caltrain.
    They usually handles 20~24 train per hours just with 2 tracks, and mixture of express and local train. Local train usually stops every 1~2 Km and collect passenger for express train. Major express stop have 4 tracks with 2 island platform, so local and express are connected each other.
    Keikyu railway is one of good example. Swiss National railway visited this railway to study interconnectivity between the trains.
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Keiky%C5%AB_Main_Line

    Clem Reply:

    Caltrain’s new EMUs will be in every way compliant to the new FRA regulations by the time of delivery.

    swing hanger Reply:

    re. “Off the shelf”- nobody is going to expect the exact same trains run in one country to be purchased for U.S. operators Rather, builders have proven, modular designs that can be modified for specific markets- Hitachi’s A-train, Alstom’s Coradia, or Siemens’ Desiro, for example. Just Not the clean slate, only in USA designs.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    Wikipedia says there are 1,172 M7s and M7As flitting around. Who else has a fleet that big? Or what’s more off the shelf-ish?

    Jonathan Reply:

    and sclerotic, stuck in 1899 operating practices-

    Citation needed. Yes, Caltrain deliberately wasted moeny when they installed a non-fibre-optic, non-cab-signalled, CTC system 22-odd years ago. But CTC is *not* 1899 operating practices.
    1959, maybe. 1929, naybe 1969 depending on where you draw your line.

    But even group-think driven, noone-technically-competent-need-apply Caltrain is not running Morse telegraphy with human operators at keys.

    Give them credit where credit is due.

    swing hanger Reply:

    labor practices, terminal turnaround times, etc.

    Richard Mlynarik Reply:

    Place smaller orders (not necessarily with smaller vendors, but on a level playing filed that doesn’t exclude them), obviously, since the needs of operators in California are small.

    100 rail cars is s small order. 20 turnouts is a small order. 50 miles of PTC is a small order. etc etc.

    In practice the “economies of scale” Cruikshank and others halluicinate are negative in, say, the 100 to 400 rail car range, because a single order means the vendor is buying you. (“You owe the bank $10000. You have a problem. You owe the bank $100000000. The bank has a problem.”)

    Joe Reply:

    So explain how this works with Airlines. Southwest Airlines is all 737s.

    Of course you forget to complain about the intent to have these trainsets manufactured in the United States. The new engine facility in Indiana could’ve been avoided if we’d only listen to you about a smaller number of standard European trainsets.

    This industrial policy b******t to establish high-speed rail manufacturing United States supply it’s market with US content.
    What are they think they are? Toyota Manufacturing Camrys? Or Honda building minivans in the US.

    Don’t you ever let reality interfere with your paranoia? It’s what makes you “you”.

    Joey Reply:

    What Richard is saying has precedent – Ottawa kept rolling stock costs down for the O-Train by piggybacking off a larger order by DB.

    joe Reply:

    I don’t know the jargon.

    I do know the CAHSRA and Amtrak are trying, exploring ways, to piggybacked off each other. Why? In part to establish a domestic industry for modern and HSR train-sets.

    EJ Reply:

    CAHSRA and Amtrak are trying, exploring ways, to piggybacked off each other.

    Sexy stuff!

    Clem Reply:

    I think I saw that mating ritual on Animal Planet

    Alon Levy Reply:

    But CAHSR and Amtrak have different needs; the O-Train in contrast had the same need as an unelectrified German regional line.

    Nathanael Reply:

    Amtrak’s needs are close enough to CAHSR’s. And frankly, Amtrak can’t afford to design its own entirely different “high speed train”. :-(

    Alon Levy Reply:

    Amtrak shouldn’t design anything. It should pick existing rolling stock based on its investment plan: low investment (the current plan for the next few decades) implies Pendolino or Talgo 250, high investment implies Shinkansen, Talgo AVRIL, or perhaps a non-tilting train like Velaro or AGV if it can be bought and maintained much more cheaply.

    synonymouse Reply:

    In Kumbaya, PB designs everything, including rolling stock, just as Bechtel with BART.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    Amtrak’s high speed train is going to 10’6″ wide and use platforms that are 48 inches high. They will be able to use 12.5kV 60Hz and 25kV 60Hz and the next generation or two will be able to use 12kV 25Hz.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    The loading gauge and the voltage are the easiest things to modify. The difference in needs is top speed and tilting angle.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    Right now the consensus is that you can’t tilt above 160 MPH. No I don’t know why that is the consesnus. Just like I don’t know why the consensus was trains can’t go faster than 125 MPH back in the 60s. If loading gauge is so easy to change why don’t Superliners go to Penn Station. Why does Europe run such narrow trains?

    Alon Levy Reply:

    Loading gauge for trains is easy to modify. Loading gauge for infrastructure is hard, so rolling stock manufacturers learned to make modular products that can be stretched for the Scandinavians or shrunk for the Brits.

    And it’s strange that there’s consensus that you can’t tilt above 250 km/h, when there are trains that do just that. They don’t tilt as much as the Pendolino does, though – they top at 175-180 mm cant deficiency, i.e. what the Acela does today, rather than the 270 mm of most Pendolini.

    Clem Reply:

    You can’t safely run at very high speeds with high cant deficiency. Besides, the curve radii are so large that a dedicated route must be built; once you go down that path you can pick your radius, obviating the need to tilt.

    Michael Reply:

    You buy the cars with the maintenance as part of the contract. The contact for the purchase can be written to require union labor or not for the maintenance. The bidders can assess the overall costs and offer their best bids.

    http://www.railwaygazette.com/news/traction-rolling-stock/single-view/view/mittelsachsen-transport-authority-orders-own-emus.html

    joe Reply:

    Cool Story Bro.
    Were you inspired by the Southwest Airlines business model?

    Paul Dyson Reply:

    RM: We might at least get platform height standards and technology compatibility. For example NCTD Bombardier cars have different hotel power voltage to Metrolink’s.

    MarkB Reply:

    @James: I suspect MetroLink will be selling the mothballed Bombardier bilevel coaches. There’s no chance they will ever want those back.

    Robert Cruickshank Reply:

    That would be my guess as well, especially since Caltrain already uses the Bombardier bilevels (though my understanding was that Metrolink was still using some of them until they are able to fully replace them with the Rotems).

    Jonathan Reply:

    This was all in the relevant press around… January 9, 2014, before the deal was finalized.

    Metrolink was planning to sell whichever rolling-stock maximized Metrolink’s capital position. It’s all about book-value, which is depreciation-driven, rather than reflecting actual condition of the rolling stock. I could hope Caltrain inspected the cars and chose, from the relevant age/capital pool, the aoaches in best condition, but I’d be pissing into the wind.

    Note that Caltrain will spend ~$4m buying the cars and about 1.5x that to refurbish them. I dont know whether refurbishment includes moving the rest-room from the standard location of Metrolink’s Can-Car built Mk III coaches, to the standard position for Caltrain’s Bombardier-built Mk. VI coaches, but at half a million a pop, I’d hope so. (Confusion for ADA passengers, bleh).

    Robert: those numbers *matter*, kiddo.

    Evans Reply:

    Other option is, buy all available Bombardia car from Metrolink and retire (or sell) same number of Gallery car. Replacing 1-door car with 2-door car may handle more standing room for further ridership increase and reduce dwell time by lower step from platform.

    Spokker Reply:

    So did they ever hire a competent accountant to actually keep track of all these sales and purchases?

    Derek Reply:

    A standing room only crowd is an opportunity to make more money by increasing rush hour fares and then using the extra revenue to increase capacity.

    James M in Irvine, CA Reply:

    While the idea is nice to raise fairs when capacity starts to max out, you might be pushing commuters back to their cars which defeats the purpose of Metrolink and Caltrain. Their goal is to remove those commuters from the highways.

    Derek Reply:

    Some would go back to their cars, some would carpool, some would take the bus, some would shift their work hours, some would try a bicycle commute, some would move closer to work or find a job closer to home.

    Charging below market equilibrium is never a good long-term strategy.

    joe Reply:

    Charging below market equilibrium is never a good long-term strategy.

    By definition…

    Who determined that the crowded train is priced below market equilibrium? James gave you an opportunity to explain and you punted.

    Derek Reply:

    I think you’re referring to the fact that there are two measurements for capacity of a train car: seated capacity, and seated+standing capacity. That’s a good point.

    Andy M Reply:

    In theory maybe. But the orders of magnitude don’t match up. What does it mean to increase capacity? New trains can cost in the hundreds of millions. New corridors (or double tracking and realigning existing ones) can cost in the low billions. With a weekday ridership around 50,000 and say squeezing an extra 50 cents per rider and day, that would be 25,000 USD/day more income, or 6.5 million per year – meaning it could take you 16 years to raise 100 million, and that’s assuming the riders would even accept that fare increase.

    Derek Reply:

    By definition, the riders would accept the fare increase if the new fare is the market equilibrium price.

    joe Reply:

    Tautology!

    Nobel prize economic sciences because the reality is not “By definition”.

    http://www.nobelprize.org/nobel_prizes/economic-sciences/laureates/

    Derek Reply:

    Please elaborate.

    Keith Saggers Reply:

    You elaborate, after you have been on a crowded rush hour subway train in San Francisco, New York, London or any major city in the world and told the riders they should pay more for the ride. Especially New York, I hope I can be a fly on the wall.

    Derek Reply:

    The riders would benefit from reduced crowding by raising the fares, and taxpayers would benefit from the reduced need for their tax money to finance transportation. That’s two benefits for the price of one, and who doesn’t like 2-for-1 deals?

    Paul Dyson Reply:

    If by raising the fares you reduce ridership you may be revenue neutral if not negative. How does that reduce taxpayer support?

    Jonathan Reply:

    Derek lives in a fantasy world, where public goods should be priced so as to maximize “comfort” and “conveniece” for those who can pay the (price-gouging) “congestion fees”.

    Such approaches might work in Central London, where there *are* good public-transport options which can get you where you need to go. And the less-well-to-do are already using those options.

    Derek Reply:

    Paul, you got me there.

    Jonathan, please elaborate.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    Jonathan, the London example isn’t the best, since Derek is talking about raising transit fares, not about congestion pricing for cars. On the other hand, the London Underground also has some of the highest fares in the world – is that what you were thinking of?

    Derek, what you’re proposing isn’t actually a win-win, because fewer people would be able to ride the trains. Unlike cars, subways do not have a problem in which once congestion rises too much, capacity actually goes down. The speed is also not changed much if the trains have many doors per side. If anything, at moderate crowding levels, when trains get busier the frequency goes up, so the service level increases. When trains are overcrowded, passengers lose out on comfort, but it’s extremely uncommon for there to actually be a shortage, i.e. passengers queuing and having to let trains go and take the next trains.

    In the few cases where queuing does happen, there’s definitionally enough traffic to build a relief line. The busiest line in North America, the Lexington Line, sometimes has queues, but the proposed relief line, Second Avenue Subway, has a very high projected ridership for its length. The total project is 13 km long and is projected to get about 500,000 weekday riders, or about 40,000 per route-km, which is higher than on any of the major existing subway systems of the world: the busiest, Tokyo, averages 34,000 between Tokyo Metro and Toei, while New York only averages about 15,000. Phase 1 of SAS has a projection of about 70,000 per route-km, which is why despite the extreme cost per km, the cost per rider is fairly reasonable. Profit-motivated urban rail operators might jack up fares in the short run, but in the long run it’s profitable to build more lines to reduce crowding in such situations.

    Andy M Reply:

    The trick is in the word “taxpayer”. By pushing a commuter off the train by increasing the fare you are changing a taxpayer who is subsidizing his own commute into a taxpayer who is susbsidizing a toy train for the rich. In what way does this benefit the taxpayer?

    Eric Reply:

    “In what way does this benefit the taxpayer?”

    It doesn’t in the short term. But in the medium to long term, the taxpayer gets to use additional lines/vehicles which were built/purchased using the extra profit from the increased fares.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    In the medium to long term, the taxpayer in question switches to driving permanently.

    Andy M Reply:

    So in the short term the taxpayer stops using the train but continues paying for it, and what he gets in return is the long term prospect that he can use it again?

    All that of course whil realizing that the ability to use services translates into (political) support for those services. People are unlikely to press for investment in a service they have been priced out of. So in the end that money may well end up being drafted away for something else so you end up with an expensive train and no money to invest in it.

    James M in Irvine, CA Reply:

    I further see on this slippery slope where the fair is increased to the point that so many stop riding the train due to fairs to hiking, that the train is discontinued. That should not be an option.

    Reedman Reply:

    Based on this “market pricing” approach, what should the toll on the Golden Gate Bridge be, versus the price of the ferry, versus the price of the bus? All are part of the GGB Transit District, but the autos are presently used to subsidize buses and ferries.

    synonymouse Reply:

    The GG Bridge’s payroll is primarily what determines fares.

    joe Reply:

    Caltrain is not soda pop or hamburgers.

    The rational economist MUST understand and assure the full societal cost of reducing Caltrain ridership is accounted or he become another bad actor distorting the marketplace and harming consumers.

    http://www.businessweek.com/articles/2014-03-27/one-in-eight-deaths-worldwide-linked-to-air-pollution
    One in Eight Deaths is linked to pollution.

    Did anyone see that factored into the fare?

    Derek Reply:

    Because Caltrain locomotives run on diesel fuel, internalizing the full societal cost of deaths related to air pollution should result in higher Caltrain fares. (Yes, and higher gasoline prices.)

    Alon Levy Reply:

    Derek, you overestimate the share of transit fares that go to fuel.

    Everyone, I think it would be helpful if you remembered that in a competitive market, a firm that hiked prices so much would lose customers to the competition. If there’s significant competition for Caltrain, then it limits how much it can raise prices. And if there isn’t, then monopoly is a market failure, which justifies state regulations of prices.

    Derek Reply:

    in a competitive market, a firm that hiked prices so much would lose customers to the competition.

    Unless, of course, the competition also had to raise their prices in order to internalize their full societal costs.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    No, Derek, you misunderstand. First, in a competitive market, trains compete with other trains; if they can’t, then there’s a monopoly that needs to be regulated. Second, even with externality costs, people still switch from transit to cars if transit fares rise. The initial transit mode share is much higher since cars are more expensive, but the marginal impact of fare hikes is similar.

    Derek Reply:

    “…in a competitive market, trains compete with other trains…”

    Only if substitutes for trains don’t exist.

    “…even with externality costs, people still switch from transit to cars if transit fares rise.”

    But people do the opposite if gas prices rise. So if transit fares and gas prices both rise, it’s hard to say whether more people will switch to cars from transit or vice-versa, but what is sure is that people will switch from both to biking and walking.

    joe Reply:

    or as we say, switch from employed to unemployment!

    Derek Reply:

    Don’t worry. Fixing market failures is good for the economy.

    joe Reply:

    Fare increases are a great way to push people back to their cars which is what studies show happens with fare increases.

    Jeff Carter Reply:

    Caltrain overcrowding/SRO: is it a matter of the fare being too low?

    NO

    Overcrowding is due to trains being too short (5 cars) and not frequent enough.

    Raise the fare and people will look for other means of transportation. More Google buses… More driving/carpools… Many Silicon Valley campuses are surrounded by acres of free parking.

    Caltrain riders already pay high fare, which may be higher than on any other bay area transit system. Based on the just released February ridership count, ridership can be calculated as follows:

    Count Days Rides/month
    Weekday 52,611 19 999,609
    Saturday 12,409 4 49,636
    Sunday 12,123 4 48,492
    Presidents 15,000 1 15,000
    28 1,112,737

    JPB Report Feb. Revenue $5,664,041.00

    Revenue / Rider $5.09

    And this does not take into account parking charges at Caltrain stations, nor does it take into account transit fares riders are paying to access Caltrain.

    As a taxpayer(s) I/we are subsidizing Caltrain and I/we are paying a high user fee to ride Caltrain and you are suggesting that Caltrain riders pay an even higher user fee?

    Evans Reply:

    Standing room (Caltrain have no official space for standing room and we are packed in the doorway of Gallery car), fare increase are regarded as punishment to riders.
    It is not fair if only rider get such punishment. It is only make sense if both rider and Caltrain get punishment. Punishment to Caltrain simply means more frequent train without significant increase in operating budjet which requires strict working discipline, one conductor in some train, short dwell time, more utilization of same trainset…..
    We are OK to accept fare increase only when service improvement are worth to pay.

    Evans Reply:

    Collection; Short turn around time to utilize same trainset more often, not a dwell time reduction

  4. Adina
    Apr 6th, 2014 at 19:27
    #4

    I actually said longer trains, but was slightly misquoted. Clem has also suggested wider trains as an option that Caltrain should be looking at in the procurement process for the electric cars this year. To get longer trains, Caltrain will need to extend platforms, which is fine because they need to modify platforms to get level boarding as well.

    As for more track capacity – it won’t be needed instantly – longer trains will hold for a few years. By the time a decade from now that we’ll want more capacity, I suspect there will be a different cast of characters making decisions.

    Paul Dyson Reply:

    Thanks for the clarification Adina. I thought for the moment we were talking BART.

    Adina Reply:

    the suggestion for wider trains was in Clem’s slides for the October event on level boarding and HSR-compatible platform heights. You can find the slides on his blog. I’ll get the link shortly unless someone gets to it before me.

    Clem Reply:

    The link to the relevant blog post, again, is here.

    Paul Dyson Reply:

    Any estimate on the “minimal infrastructure widening”?

    Clem Reply:

    Nope, it would have to be studied/measured. The key constraint would be the four tunnels of the Bayshore Cutoff on the approach to San Francisco.

    Paul Dyson Reply:

    That’s what I thought. Also limits deployment of the rolling stock say on an electrified ACE. May not be important. Certainly the idea is worth further study.

    Clem Reply:

    There would be no possibility of deploying Caltrain rolling stock on an electrified ACE. Caltrain rolling stock is needed to operate Caltrain. If ACE needs that sort of train they can order their EMU in any size they want. The Stadler KISS, for example, comes in three different cross-sections.

    Robert Cruickshank Reply:

    Caltrain needs all these things. Your level boarding and longer train suggestion, the wider trains suggestion, extended platforms, are all good ideas that are also fairly easy to implement in the next few years, especially as new vehicles are procured for electrification. Now is the time to figure out, plan, and fund additional track capacity as well, given how long it will take to bring it online.

  5. synonymouse
    Apr 6th, 2014 at 19:43
    #5

    The Peninsula blend is fine and dandy and will suffice for years to come if hsr accesses via Dumbarton and Altamont.

    The great lesson of the Blend is that Jerry Brown and PB can be dealt effectively with if you have the right and proper people. Eliminating the Embarcadero Freeway on rails malevolently concocted by PB was a great victory for the Peninsula. Now to apply the same methods to bring the mountain crossing back to Tejon.

    And to think all this could have turned out so differently. 1. If Caltrain electrification and the TBT Tunnel had prevailed over the treachery of BART-MTC to SFO in 1991. 2. Or if BART had been approved on the Peninsula in 1962 the Caltrain ROW would likely have been sold off to and lost to BART decades ago. Then PB probably would be trying to sell Oakland as the hsr terminus.

    Clem Reply:

    A certain Mr. Allen, who seems stuck in 1962, still thinks the latter scenario is best.

    synonymouse Reply:

    Oakland and the East Bay does indeed deserve better. They cannot even get a streetcar or a trolley bus, altho that was recommended a while back for the University-Telegraph bus line. I believe that was or is the #51.

    But since they came up with natural gas and hybrids the busmen are back to fossil with a vengeance. They don’t like wire. It is the switches and crossovers – need to be maintained and you have to slow down somewhat.

  6. joe
    Apr 6th, 2014 at 19:59
    #6

    Last week Union Pacific slowed Caltrain south of Tamien which broke transfers onto the baby bullet. This significantly delayed commutes. No warning given. Frustrated riders jumped back into their cars.

    Robert Cruickshank Reply:

    Additional track capacity is needed south of San José Diridon as well as north of it.

    Joe Reply:

    We need to own the track.

    UP is screwing with Caltrain and it’s justifiably losing ridership. I don’t know what thier rational was for the speed restrictions or not forecasting this decision and don’t consider double tracking a solution to thier arbitrary behavior.

    This bullshit doesn’t make it into the serious spreadsheets and analysis of south county ridership. It would higher if the tracks were Caltrain/CA property.

    The state plan, mid term, is to double track to San Martin area. CCJPA would run service from salinas to San Jose and east bay.

    synonymouse Reply:

    No matter what indignities UP imposed upon Caltrain it could never come close to screwing with it the way BART-MTC has.

    jonathan Reply:

    Joe, you bought your house in Gilroy and you knew who owned the southern track.

    joe Reply:

    Oh yes. I deserve it. That you daddy.

    Still, Caltrain ridership is suppressed by the lesser quality of service permitted by UP for trains south of Tamien.

    Clem Reply:

    I agree. Cahill St and Tamien are only two of the stops needed to serve the sprawl of San Jose, and leave enormous areas of this enormous city underserved. I’ve said before the terminus should be at Blossom Hill.

    Michael Reply:

    What’s the cause for the slowdown? Legitimate track work, or arbitrary evilness? BART’s eliminating every other train north of Berkeley for the next seven Sundays for trackwork. http://richmondstandard.com/2014/04/bart-sunday-service-delays-richmond-berkeley-stations/

    joe Reply:

    UP never told Caltrain – Riders were told it was a UP order to reduce speed. Legitimately working on track is okay – I expect sharing that information would have been helpful for riders to plan.

    We’re told they didn’t give an forewarning. Caltrain tried to allow the transfers and held the bullet but they couldn’t make it – they tried to make it work.

    Michael Reply:

    The answer, once Caltrain gets some sort of solid information from UP, is to have the Gilroy trains depart early, noticed to passengers, so they reach Tamien and Diridon at their usually scheduled time, until the slow orders are removed. I assume the evening, southbound trains make the Baby Bullet meet, but arrive in stops south of San Jose late.

  7. Robert S. Allen
    Apr 6th, 2014 at 21:43
    #7

    Grade crossings even at 79 mph are vulnerable to accident, sabotage, and train delays. (Google Bourbonnais Train Accident.) Caltrain has scores of grade crossings. Trains in pull mode, with a heavy locomotive in front as a shield, protect passengers. But in push mode, MU, or at even higher HSR speeds the danger increases. The first phase of HSR to the Bay Area should end at San Jose, with passengers transferring there to Caltrain, Capitol Corridor, or the planned SV BART. HSR cannot safely run on Caltrain tracks. CHSRA should not squander HSR funds to electrify “Blended Rail”.

    Drunk Engineer Reply:

    How is transferring to Caltrain “safer”?

    Perhaps we should just make everyone drive to San Jose. That would be much safer.

    Clem Reply:

    You’re late, Mr. Bond…

    Robert Cruickshank Reply:

    One of the points I’m trying to make here is that Caltrain is going to need grade separations and additional track capacity no matter what happens with HSR. Sending HSR up the Peninsula to SF just makes the case for those things much stronger.

    Tony D. Reply:

    Agreed. Even without statewide HSR (which unfortunately is now a real possibility), we still need Caltrain to become HSR (albeit of the regional variety). Electrification AND full grade separation…YES!

    jonathan Reply:

    So when are you going to man-up to the facts and come out against the “Blended” plan?
    Because – as you know – according to CHSRA and a California Senate bill, the mostly-2-track “blended” plan *IS* the official, final, full-buildout Phase-1 plan.

    flowmotion Reply:

    Scroll up, and Robert clearly says that “The “blended plan” is bad planning”.

    However, he previously seemed to be gung-ho for the idea that HSR needed completely separated tracks up the peninsula. “Blended” is the correct solution, the only question is how many tracks are actually needed.

    wdobner Reply:

    What’s written on paper can always be changed. The Blend is the camel’s nose under the tent flap, and once the Bay to Basin is operating there will likely be more than enough political interest from the rest of the state to change the agreement and go to four tracks as needed. Even now, all they’ve said is “primarily” two tracks, which leaves Caltrain and the CHSRA a lot of leeway. Your claim that this agreement is set in stone is almost undoubtedly incorrect.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    The Connecticut Turnpike/i-95 was built as a series of bypasses around the more congested parts of US 1. Then since there was bypass realllllly close to another bypass why not link them together?….

    Jerry Reply:

    Four Track all the way. With no grade crossings.

  8. Robert S. Allen
    Apr 6th, 2014 at 23:08
    #8

    With Peninsula HSR deferred, no HSR grade crossings. No push to increase train speeds. Fewer through trains rushing by station platforms. Bourbonnais, with 79 mph track like Caltrain, showed what can happen, and that was a couple of years before the events of 9/11/01. CHSRA can properly defer the costly “Blended Rail” phase of HSR with minimal impact on HSR patronage.

    EJ Reply:

    Better to not bring up 9/11 in the context of a discussion about rail transportation, and be thought a fool, than bring it up, and remove all doubt.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    I’ll ask for the 47th time, what makes Caltrain trains safer than HSR trains?

    Alan Reply:

    There seems to be no level of fearmongering and deceit to which Mr. Allen will not stoop in order to promote his East Bay fantasy.

    Jerry Reply:

    Four Tracks all the way, with no grade crossings.

  9. John Burrows
    Apr 7th, 2014 at 00:13
    #9

    Speaking of longer trains and used train cars—

    If I remember this right, Caltrain was running 6 or 7 car trains to Stanford for the 1994 World Cup with 3 old cars added onto the end. The special trains carried around 170,000 soccer fans to the event, but I have no idea of whether the old passenger cars belonged to Caltrain or were borrowed.

    joe Reply:

    They ran special trains for the new Giants stadium and some used old, single level cars.

    Reality Check Reply:

    I remember those jam-packed with World Cup fans trains stopping at Caltrain’s rarely-used Stanford Stadium station. As I recall, the single-level cars were borrowed (or rented). I think some may have even been on loan from the Golden Gate Railroad Museum, which was still located on a long spur off the Caltrain line on the grounds of the former naval shipyard at Hunter’s Point at that time.

    Jerry Reply:

    Yes. The extra antique rail cars had no air conditioning and some passengers simply opened the windows.

    Reality Check Reply:

    I think the cars used even included some SP Harriman cars (shown here in Palo Alto on the Del Monte — which I understand was SP’s weekend getaway train to Monterey), which SP was still running up and down the Peninsula along with SP’s pre-Caltrain gallery cars as late as the early 80’s.

    Michael Reply:

    VRE cars. I have access to the internet and Wikipedia and got an A- in Bibliography 1 when I was in college…

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Caltrain#Passenger_cars

    Caltrain formerly used remanufactured Budd Rail Diesel Car (“Boise Budd”) single-level cars it bought from Virginia Railway Express as Special-Event trains.[46] These were sold after becoming obsolete. They are now in service on the Grand Canyon Railway.

    Reality Check Reply:

    Thanks Michael. I didn’t know (or forgot?) about Caltrain ever having used Budd RDCs in revenue service.

  10. rtaylor352
    Apr 7th, 2014 at 04:48
    #10

    What is Caltrain’s rationale for not using Transbay as the terminus for most/all of the trains when the DTX is complete?

    Andy M Reply:

    Does / will Transbay even have the capacity? Both in terms of platform / track capacity and in terms of pedestrian throughput capacity? It seems remarkably small to me. Not saying, just asking.

    Richard Mlynarik Reply:

    No. It does not. The edifice is configured to minimize both train and train passenger throughput, in every possible way.

    The site could have, barely, have been adequate, had even the smallest amount of intelligence pr ruidimentary professionalism been shown by any of the parties involved (TJPA, Pelli Clarke Pelli, Arup North America, Parsons Transportation Group, PCJPB, PBQD=CHSRA) but that simply didn’t happen.

    Transbay turned out to $4 billion wasted on something that impedes passenger rail.

    Heartbreaking.

    Nathanael Reply:

    The Transbay Terminal designers were clearly trying to prevent passenger rail — repeatedly removing it from their plans — and had to be badgered and repeatedly pressured in order to grudgingly include some space for it. This was pretty clear.

    What’s more astonishing is that they messed up the bus service with that at-grade crossing.

    Adina Reply:

    Caltrain says that the prototypical schedule isn’t an actual proposed schedule and they haven’t made decisions about how many trains to send to Transbay. This prototypical schedule is absurd, of course Caltrain should send all trains to transbay except a couple of ballpark specials. With the earlier HSR plan that called for 10-12 high speed trains per direction per hour, there wasn’t enough room for the Caltrain trains, but for the blended system which calls for 10tph total, there is room for all the trains.

    The space limits in Transbay are a good reason that Caltrain and HSR should have compatible platforms to make better use of the space.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    10- 12 trains per hour between Fresno and Bakersfield. Some of them would be going to and from Sacramento.

    Richard Mlynarik Reply:

    Caltrain says that the prototypical schedule isn’t an actual proposed schedule …

    And yet, and yet, somebody came up with it, somebody was paid hundreds of thousands of dollars to simulate it, somebody was paid millions to do state and federal environmental studies of it, and nobody inside the agency has ever, once, presented anything better or different, not in a decade.

    But sure, Adina, the Very Best and Brightest are working on it. In secret! Shhhhhh … SEKRIT! If they let on — through any internal working papers, through any public presentations, through any board presentations, through any working group presentations, through any investment studies, through any environmental documents — what they were really working on — something so MIND BLOWINGLY KEWL THAT ZUCKERBERG AND STEVE JOB’S GHOST WILL BE LIKE, DUDE THAT IS TEH AWESOME — then they’d spoil the surprise.

    Do you really believe this nonsense? So where are the “non prototypical” scenarios (other than over at Clem’s blog)? Docs or it didn’t happen.

    They are lying to you. You’re useful, because they want more billions of dollars of public money, and the lies cost nothing to make while being swallowed hook, line and sinker.

    joe Reply:

    And yet, and yet, somebody came up with it, somebody was paid hundreds of thousands of dollars to simulate it, somebody was paid millions to do state and federal environmental studies of it, and nobody inside the agency has ever, once, presented anything better or different, not in a decade.
    ….
    Do you really believe this nonsense? So where are the “non prototypical” scenarios (other than over at Clem’s blog)? Docs or it didn’t happen.
    They are lying to you.

    Unskewing 2020 Caltrain schedules …

    The Caltrain FAQ tells me Caltrain would produce schedules AFTER public hearings. You flying off the handle illustrates why this precaution is necessary.

    Richard Mlynarik Reply:

    Dear reality-estranged “Joe”.

    It so happens I wrote an electrification FAQ for Caltrain over a decade ago, so I have some idea of how much deep thinking and preparation goes into such documents.

    Amusingly, Caltrain’s ultra-professional electrification documents and propaganda are even continuing to re-use (uncredited) exactly the same EMU image that Clem Tillier photoshopped up 13 or 15 years ago and that I linked to in my FAQ (link has rotted, but the bottom image was that same one.)

    Can I please have a hundred million dollars now, because it’s exactly as professional as theirs, and, given that I whipped it up in a day, has exactly as much credence as the PR bullshit you keep citing while completely ignoring the tens of millions of dollars of consultant work product that is in direct opposition to the tossed-off, idiot-cited, not-worth-the-paper-it-is-printed-on “FAQ”.

    Look! I found something on the internet! Therefore it is true! Watch me type! I like typing!

    joe Reply:

    It so happens I wrote an electrification FAQ for Caltrain over a decade ago, so I have some idea of how much deep thinking and preparation goes into such documents.
    ….
    Can I please have a hundred million dollars now, because it’s exactly as professional as theirs, and, given that I whipped it up in a day, has exactly as much credence as the PR bullshit you keep citing while completely ignoring the tens of millions of dollars of consultant work product that is in direct opposition to the tossed-off, idiot-cited, not-worth-the-paper-it-is-printed-on “FAQ”.

    The public demands input prior to Caltrain building new schedules so whipping one off and put it into a EIR may show off your technical skills but illustrates how poorly you played with other children.

    Drunk Engineer Reply:

    The public demands input prior to Caltrain building new schedules

    I’ve never ever heard of it being done that way. Normally, a transit agency will put out a schedule that is fairly representative of the proposed service. Then they refine it based on public comment.

    In this case, any public comment they get will be useless — because the public will be commenting on (what we hope) is a nonsense schedule. Especially when you consider that the whole point of the project is to improve service frequency.

    joe Reply:

    Whether it’s nonsense or not is irrelevant to the fact Caltrain has NOT published a schedule.

    Mr. Loonie-Tunes insists otherwise.

    From the Caltrain electrification FAQ

    Q: Will the service or schedule change under electrification?
    ….
    Caltrain has not yet developed a schedule that accounts for these important
    enhanced service capabilities. In the DEIR a “prototypical” or example
    schedule was used as part of the analysis. In the coming years, there will
    be robust public outreach to help determine the schedule that best balances
    the demands for more frequency and faster trip times.

    Glad to see you read the FAQ before commenting on it. Right?

    Drunk Engineer Reply:

    The stated Purpose and Need of the electrification EIR is to improve service frequency. How is the public (or the Board) to evaluate the usefulness of the project without having a representative schedule?

    joe Reply:

    Why I don’t know. Why not read the Caltrain FAQ or ask them?

    I can try to help and guess for you. I would first consult with public representatives of the cities served by Caltrain. GLY has one for the VTA and Caltrain. Then after they provide comments, I’d go public with schedules that are vetted by the representatives and have some political cover and support.

    I do know they haven’t printed the schedule and certainly have not used it in the EIR.

    Spokker Reply:

    In other words, buy a car?

    Mike Jones Reply:

    HSR is eating up the capacity, with its need for long platform occupancy and being given priority over Caltrain. Ironic, as the Transbay was predicated on the basis of getting commuters to the Financial District; and the earlier “Dickens” proposals were based upon London’s suburban Hammersmith station not one of the great London Terminals. Only the carrot of HSR funding changed this.

    Commuters need to get as near to their jobs as possible, but for longer trips this is not so critical. 4th and Townsend is already much more of a destination than it was a 15 years ago, and the Central Subway will only enhance this. A new HSR terminal here, would not only be spacious, but actually put the train nearer to most San Franciscans- pity there’s no BART connection…..

    joe Reply:

    No Operating Subsidy. SFT is a prime destination and the system is going to favor HSR service over subsidized Caltrain service.

    It’s rational prioritization given the legislated goal (not so rational) prohibits HSR subsidy.

    synonymouse Reply:

    fuggedaboutit

    Who is itching to go to Mojave? This thing is all about the politix. Affluent voters on the Peninsula(and there are lots of them)will demand Caltrain predominance. Dumbed down PBHSR is doomed to fail.

    therealist Reply:

    We would love to go there…think of the wide open spaces, fresh air, new ideas etc……

    synonymouse Reply:

    The Tejon Ranch Co. is working up a tract for you. A Glengarry Glen Ross Ranchito.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    so the real estate developers in Palmdale are using all of their mind rays to make the route go through Palmdale but the real estate developers at the Tejon Ranch are using all of their mind rays to keep the train away. You do realize that being able to put “walk to train” makes real estate more valuable and “close to train” works almost as well?

    synonymouse Reply:

    The Ranch is a stealth developer – it has to trod carefully lest there be a call to purchase the whole thing as protected or park. Tejon Mountain Village is a development for the high end. No train riders need apply.

    Besides mind rays don’t work on a mind gone to waste from age. But campaign contributions still work. Good ol’ payola.

    synonymouse Reply:

    the nadir of NIMBY

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    Like the train riders in Cos Cob? Or Kenilworth. Or Villanova. or…

    synonymouse Reply:

    Please deliver that sermon to Barry Zoeller. Maybe he’ll convert to hsr.

    EJ Reply:

    Economic elites don’t use HSR? Dang, all those bankers and politicians on the Acela must be doing it wrong.

    synonymouse Reply:

    Chandlers don’t do no Acela.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    Dead people don’t do much traveling

    flowmotion Reply:

    The city is already drooling over redeveloping the 4th & King railyards, so we’ll see how well this plan holds up.

    With HSR slowing inching its way down to Los Angeles, with many major tunnel and bridge projects to be funded and built, HSR to SF Transbay may seem so far off into the future that Caltrain can reclaim the space.

    synonymouse Reply:

    Which do you think has the TBT mojo: packed Caltrain from PAMPA or mostly empty hsr train dragging in late from Mojave due to deferred maintenance?

    flowmotion Reply:

    Right, the proposed plan wouldn’t survive a minute in the real world, especially when the Pacheco tunnel isn’t even on the drawing board.

    SF is selling off the old transbay parcels to skyscraper developers, and all those fine folks won’t appreciate being dropped 8 blocks away from the shiny new transit center.

    Jon Reply:

    It will be interesting to see what SF Planning comes up with in their re-assessment of the whole area. The Transbay JPA, Caltrain, and CAHSR are all very focused on their own agendas and not working together to make the whole thing function. Gillian Gillett, who is managing the study for the city, seems to understand the issues and specifically stated that the Caltrain timetable sending only two of six trains per hour to Transbay was one of the main reasons for initiating the study.

    I would do two things to fix the Transbay mess without completely derailing the project. The first is to enforce a uniform platform height, which would increase capacity and allow for the capacity to be split more evenly between Caltrain and HSR. The second would be to shorten the southern two platforms (i.e. not extend them all the way to Main St.) This would allow these two platforms to be connected to a loop track and/or new transbay tunnel by heading south on Main at some point in the future, and this would also greatly increase capacity.

    The downside for HSR is that they would now only have two 400m platforms capable of accommodating double length HSR trains rather than the currently planned four 400m platforms. It’s unlikely that HSR will really need four 400m platforms, especially with a loop track – you could easily run all Caltrains from one platform with a loop track. If HSR really wanted to, they could add two extra 400m platforms under Howard St, but that would be a separate project far off in the future.

    Joey Reply:

    The northernmost platform will be shorter because it would otherwise run into a skyscraper’s foundation. If forget exactly which skyscraper at the moment.

  11. Bill in Mountain View
    Apr 7th, 2014 at 13:38
    #11

    The biggest constraint I’ve found in the train system has been parking at the remote stations. Mountain View usually fills up by 8am or so, which means I need to either bike there in good weather or use the San Antonio station, which is designed to be very convenient for southbound passengers and inconvenient for northbound (notice how far you have to walk from the parking garage to the northbound ticket machine.)

  12. joe
    Apr 7th, 2014 at 16:01
    #12

    California vs Texas. Interesting stereotypes and misunderstandings.

    But I think Texas has the edge in three areas:

    1. Both DFW and Houston have relatively compact downtown business areas. You can walk to a lot of the places you need to go, and both downtowns are well served by taxis. Los Angeles is a massive, metastasized sprawl. You can cab around but it’s going to cost you. San Francisco is less spread out, but because of the hills it’s no fun to walk, even short distances. (Houston sprawls with the best of them, but most of the business traffic goes straight downtown.)

    2. Interstate 45 in Texas is flat and low density. This would make construction and engineering less complicated and acquisition of land rights much less problematic.

    3. Texas isn’t eaten up with environmental zealots. Trust me, as soon as they find an endangered mugwort, the California bullet train will come to a screeching halt while the state conducts 10 years of environmental studies.

    – See more at: http://www.betterroads.com/texas-has-edge-over-california-for-high-speed-rail/#sthash.tPTCyuwM.dpuf

    I did not know LA and SF were sprawling vs Texas compact Dallas and Houston. Hills make SF very unwalkable.

    That the GLY, SJC, RWC and SFO are at a disadvantage to the end-to-end stations at Dallas and Houston.

    That Texas system would reach downtown – they were planning to buy and develop the land at the city edges to fund the HSR project. Noe its a downtown system – hmmm.

    Lacking population and intermediate stops between city centers is a superior to having cities and riders along the entire route.

    We’re environmental zealots – CEQA

    Donk Reply:

    I don’t know why they even compare Texas to California. I think it’s because Texans think that Texas is comparable to CA. The only descent city in TX is Austin, and if it were in CA, it would be like the 8th best city in CA.

    Eric Reply:

    Which makes it really hard to understand why droves of people are moving from CA to TX and not the other way around…

    http://www.economist.com/blogs/freeexchange/2010/06/migration

    joe Reply:

    NPR sez:
    http://www.npr.org/blogs/itsallpolitics/2013/08/29/216150644/how-california-is-turning-the-rest-of-the-west-blue
    Ideology Is All Relative

    What may be ironic is the fact that most of the people leaving California are relatively conservative — by California standards.

    They want cheaper homes and job opportunities, but they are also motivated by the state’s higher tax rates, says Robert Lang, who directs the Brookings Mountain West, a research center at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas.

    Nevertheless, they also tend to be fairly progressive on social issues such as gay marriage and abortion — and overall may be more liberal than their new neighbors in other states.

    “You see that in other parts of the country, too,” says Ruy Teixeira, a Democratic demographer at the Center for American Progress. “You have the phenomenon of relatively conservative people leaving a liberal state and moving to a conservative state where they’re relatively liberal.”

    synonymouse Reply:

    hell’s full

    joe Reply:

    It’s not even noon and you’re already wasted.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    Housing prices and zoning regimes.

    Donk Reply:

    Good riddance. We have enough people in CA. They can have all of our sloppy seconds.

    Ted Judah Reply:

    It’s a utilitarian comparison: Austin is a good incubator for tech and has many of the attributes that attracted people to California and Silicon Valley: cheap land, low energy prices, warm weather, etc. But in a State with no income tax, Austin’s booming tech sector does nothing to provide vital services to Houston’s Katrina refugees or provide water to San Antonio or Dallas.

    What did surprise me, however, is that Houston’s mayor Annise Parker attended the CA Democratic Party convention in Los Angeles last month. Houston has an unusual relationship with unincorporated areas of Harris County in that they are the public service provider despite the presence of other incorporated cities in the county. (Maybe this is the ultimate solution for L.A.? Have the contract cities contract with the City instead of the County for all their needs?)

    As for HSR, the problem is that since property tax is so important for revenue, the small counties along the route (and even Dallas and Houston) are going to want to be compensated at a very high price for the ROW. That is when Perry proposed the Trans Texas Corridor, he wanted a ROW so wide other utilities could use it and hence pay for it. While I have suggested ideas like this with BART and CAHSR, I don’t know if anyone is ready for a Keystone Pipeline/ TXHSR project yet…but don’t count it out. Those are the firms with the money and muscle to make it happen.

    Eric Reply:

    #1 is debatable like you say, but #2 and #3 are right on target.

    joe Reply:

    #2 is right on for construction costs. It’s also a disadvantage for operating the system since the ridership is just end to end trips. The NEW CAHSRA ridership forecasts show a larger fraction of revenue with shorter trips and is also what’s helping revenue in the Amtrak NE Corridor.

    Joey Reply:

    Having only end-to end ridership is advantageous operationally because it means that seats are filled for the whole trip and you have to run fewer service patterns, increasing capacity. That’s all theoretical though – I’m not claiming that California should strive for that kind of operating model.

    joe Reply:

    And it means fewer riders and fewer trains so less time wasted collecting ticket fares. That’s the complaint in the editorial – fewer users with end to end systems.

    The draft schedule showed AM trains starting at different stations and a mix of local and express so the LAU seats are protected.

    GLY 6AM to SJC, RWC, SFO and SFT.

    6am out of Fresno to GLY, SJC, RWC, SFO and SFT.

    6AM out of Bakersfield .. FSO, GLY, RWC, SFO and SFT.

    And they run express trains LAU to SJC/SFT.

    It’s both a dessert topping and a floor wax. The price is 10-15 minutes slower and the gain is it gets fused because no one was paying for the LAX-SFO express super train.

    Joey Reply:

    My point is that end-to-end passengers have lower costs per passenger-km. Certainly in California the additional ridership gained from intermediate stops offsets the increase in unit costs.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    Depends on fare structure. If it’s $100 round trip between SF and LA and $45 from Fresno to SF and $65 from Fresno to LA it’s “better” if they carry people between Fresno and the end points than through passengers.

    Joey Reply:

    That’s assuming that every seat is filled for the rest of the journey.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    Joey, yes, there is that advantage, but it comes with the disadvantage of having certain travel peaks. The advantage of having a variety of trips offered is that they peak at different times, so the overall peak is broader.

    Of course there’s always the TGV solution – run trains nonstop but have different trains serve different city pairs – but that comes at the cost of frequency, especially to the lesser-used stops.

    Andy M Reply:

    Ther may not be many major cities between Dallas and Houston, but there are some minor ones that could see some upsurge from being drawn closer to not one but two important centers.

    Furthermore, the route from central Dallas to central Houston via Fort Worth almost naturally passes through both DFW airport and Houston airport and the high speed line could double as an inter-airport shuttle without much ado (SFO by contrast would at best be on a spur, and difficult to tie in schedule-wise). With the generous parking both Texas airports provide, they would also be natural magnets for all the car-driving sprawlites, keeping the central stations for the walking and transit-based users.

    (of course a suitable location for a downtown Houston station would have to be identified. At the Dallas end however the present Union Station is well located, already being a hub for commuter rail and Amtrak connections)

    Zorro Reply:

    And near Dallas, between Dallas and Fort Worth, is Rockwall Texas(where I have some distant relatives still, I think), plus the 3 Mayors of Dallas, Fort Worth and Houston all want HSR @ 220mph.

    High-speed rail support growing in Fort Worth, Arlington, Dallas, Houston

    Supporters of building 220 mph bullet trains in North Texas hope it’s a good sign that five of seven high-speed rail commission appointments are from Fort Worth-Arlington.

    The Texas Transportation Commission on Thursday approved the appointments during a meeting in Austin.

    Meanwhile in Houston, Fort Worth Mayor Betsy Price, Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings and Houston Mayor Annise Parker gathered to show unified support for high-speed rail.

    “Our residents have historically relied on traveling to Dallas-Fort Worth by air or car, but I am excited to support a clean, safe and fast commute for millions of our residents who frequently visit Dallas-Fort Worth for family, friends and business,” Parker said.
    {snip}
    A company known as Texas Central Railway, in a partnership with Central Japan Railway, has proposed building the Houston-to-Dallas connection and opening it to the public by 2021. The group says it can build that line for roughly $10 billion in privately-raised funding – without public subsidies. A federal environmental impact study on that proposal is set to formally kick off this spring.

    joe Reply:

    A critical editorial explained that the lack of intermediate population works against the project’s success.
    http://dallasmorningviewsblog.dallasnews.com/2014/04/texas-bullet-train-company-responds-to-naysayer-bernard-weinstein.html/

    This caught my eye since the CVC stops are exactly what was needed – intermediary rides not just end to end ridership.

    Initially the plan (as reported) was to stop at the urban edge and develop the land (owned by the rail developers) for profit as part of the project. “every inch of track has to be justified”:

    While all is very preliminary, it seems interest in getting trains to the Dallas urban core is possible using legacy ROW. I bet that turns this into a public private partnership. No way they’d invest to build in an urban core.

    http://fwbusinesspress.com/fwbp/article/1/4185/Breaking-News/High-speed-rail-plans-taking-shape.aspx

    http://www.star-telegram.com/2014/02/05/5543941/bullet-train-developers-eye-station.html

  13. joe
    Apr 7th, 2014 at 20:18
    #13

    Choo-Choo

    By Tim Sheehan
    An elevated viaduct near Madera will likely be one of the first major pieces of tangible construction for California’s proposed high-speed rail line, with work potentially starting as early as next month.

    Read more here: http://www.fresnobee.com/2014/04/07/3865619/valley-high-speed-rail-construction.html?sp=/99/406/#storylink=cpy

    Eric Reply:

    https://xkcd.com/678/

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