Starting HSR in the Central Valley Still Makes Most Sense

Jun 22nd, 2014 | Posted by

I admit my heart skipped a beat when I saw the Los Angeles Times headline “Next Senate leader Kevin de León wants Brown to rethink bullet train.” But the title to George Skelton’s column is meant to be taken literally. “Rethink” isn’t a euphemism for “kill” – instead incoming Senate President Pro Tem Kevin De León wants to rethink how the project is built. Specifically, he wants to start at the “bookends” – in the Bay Area and Southern California:

Gov. Jerry Brown must be saved from himself, says the next state Senate leader. He needs to be talked out of starting the bullet train in the Central Valley boonies.

“I don’t think it makes sense to lay down track in the middle of nowhere,” asserts Sen. Kevin de León (D-Los Angeles). “It’s illogical. No one lives out there in the tumbleweeds.”

De León, who will become the Senate leader in October, says he supports the concept of high-speed rail, but with the caveat that track-laying begin in the Los Angeles and San Francisco areas.

De León supports HSR, let’s be clear about that. So this isn’t intended as a way to wreck the project. That said, I think he’s wrong on the policy and the politics.

First off, De León surely knows that the Central Valley isn’t tumbleweeds. Fresno and Bakersfield alone combine for nearly 2 million people. Add in Merced and Hanford-Visalia and you’re pushing 3 million.

Second, it makes perfect sense to build the tracks in the Valley. It’s straight and land is cheap. That enables a lot of tracks to be built affordably, and hopefully, quickly. And it allows a test track to be built that lets the California High Speed Rail Authority work out operational kinks before proceeding to other segments.

Third, it actually makes more political sense. To explain, I’ll first let De León make his case:

“The point I want to make is this: How do we invest the dollars wisely and intelligently? They should be invested in the ‘bookends’ in anticipation of high-speed rail.”

At the same time, he continues, “we’re putting hard hats to work. When people see the healthful impact this is having and all the hard hats constructing, their minds may change about high-speed rail. But out in the Central Valley, where the train’s not going anywhere, no one will see the construction jobs.”

Here’s the problem with this approach. We’ve tried it already. California has invested in passenger rail on the “bookends” for nearly 40 years. That has led to great results for Caltrain and especially Metrolink.

What it hasn’t done is fill in the missing links. After 40 years of work on the bookends, there is still a gap in passenger rail service between Bakersfield and Palmdale. There is only one train a day from SF to LA and it takes 12 hours.

When Californians see rail construction in the coastal metropolises, they don’t think “hey, this is great, it means I want to build rail near Fresno.” They think “hey, this is great, now maybe they’ll build rail near my house in Cupertino or Sherman Oaks or Stanton or Elk Grove.” In short, it doesn’t necessarily follow that upgrading coastal track will produce support for inland investment. After all, we’re at a point now where we’re calling for that inland investment and now coastal legislators are trying to walk it back.

If we invest in the bookends again, there’s nothing to suggest it will build support for Valley construction – and a lot to suggest that it won’t.

Since De León is a supporter of HSR, I want to take him at his word that he means well. So what would it take to meet him in the middle?

Here’s what he says he wants to do:

De León says he intends to start soon by amending a bill passed with the state budget. That bill allocated $250 million in cap-and-trade greenhouse emission fees to the $68-billion train project. In future years, high-speed rail will receive 25% of cap-and-trade money, amounting to several hundred million dollars annually.

De León’s amendments will prioritize reduction of greenhouse gas emissions and air pollution in urban areas. A prime example of a worthy project, he says, is at L.A.’s Union Station. The plan is to add substantial track capacity and move commuter and intercity trains through the terminal faster, reducing the long idling that fouls the air.

The project price tag is $350 million. The state already has committed $175 million, but an additional $158 million is needed. De León wants it to come from cap and trade. It’s the kind of project these fees are supposed to pay for.

“The infrastructure at Union Station is antiquated,” the senator says. “High-speed is going to come in eventually. We need to upgrade that system. Every day the Metro comes in, the Amtrak comes in and they idle their engines for hours, spewing poisonous toxins — all that crap — into the air. That increases asthma rates, particularly of poor children who live in the community. That’s in my district, OK?

He’s talking about the run-through tracks, a project I’ve long supported. By all means, build it!

But that’s not high speed rail. Building the run-through tracks will make passenger rail even better. Yet Amtrak California already carries huge numbers of riders. As great as run-through tracks are, we don’t need them to make the case for rail. And those tracks won’t be carrying bullet trains.

The only way a bookends strategy works for HSR is if you actually build bullet trains in the coastal metropolises. LA to Anaheim in 20 minutes. SF to San José in 30 minutes. Do that and I’d have much more confidence that Californians would see a bookend project and demand it be expanded through the gap and across the Valley.

Unfortunately I don’t think that’s what De León has in mind – at least not based on what Skelton’s column shows. HSR money should be used for bullet train infrastructure. Run-through tracks should absolutely be funded right now as well – but not at the expense of the Central Valley.

This shows the need for a lasting, and large, source of revenue for all kinds of passenger rail in California. Democrats have squandered the first year and a half of their Sacramento supermajority by failing to address the state’s transportation funding needs, despite hopes they would do so. Cap-and-trade funds will be a big help, but even that isn’t enough to build out the kind of rail network that California needs, from bullet trains to local streetcars and everything in between.

In the absence of such robust funding, it seems like a bad idea to abandon the Central Valley construction plan, especially since it’s oh-so-close to breaking ground, for a repeat of the “bookends” strategy of the last 40 years that has failed to deliver a reliable north-south rail link.

  1. jimsf
    Jun 22nd, 2014 at 20:08
    #1

    I hope that guy gets a lot of hate mail from californians who live and work in the central valley for his nasty, condescending remarks about them being in the middle of nowhere. They are in the middle, of california, and california is not “nowhere”

    uppity urban jackass.

    Nathanael Reply:

    De Leon apparently has never bothered to look up the populations of Bakersfield or Fresno.

    These are huge cities. Indeed, rail should be built to these huge cities, not to Barstow or Needles — and it is being built to these huge cities.

    The Federal funding is apparently conditional on construction starting in the Central Valley, so I hope De Leon isn’t stupid and doesn’t throw away the federal funding by trying to redirect the state money to LA.

    flowmotion Reply:

    Actually I’m sure he perfectly understands the political math in California, and these places simply are not that important to a Democrat or HSR advocate.

    Common political sense says they should start building it where people can see it. 18 Million people in the LA basin and the international media outweighs a couple million in the CV where the politicians aren’t even behind it.

    Of course there are various good reasons to start in the CV, but from a political standpoint it’s awful.

    jimsf Reply:

    actual leadership qualities be damned.

    flowmotion Reply:

    I don’t know why the feds were so hot on the CV, perhaps Obama thought the republicans would show “leadership qualities” if they had a nice chunk of pork to chew on. If so, it was a miscalculation, because this is an ideological “way of life” issue to them.

    HSR will get built. It will be built by the will of people in the San Francisco and Los Angles basins. And over the dead bodies of a lot of Central Valley politicians.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    The environmental studies were closer to completion.

    flowmotion Reply:

    Thus, PB willed it.”

    Can I ascribe more intelligence to the Obama administration than that? Probably not. Once they realized this money didn’t do anything for them politically, they should have moved it somewhere else. Into a democrat area such as Los Angeles.

    Ultimately, Jeff Denham’s constituents will love that Bakersfield station, regardless of the political details. A wonderful political gift from the benevolent Obama.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    when are the environmental studies due to be done for Los Angeles?

    flowmotion Reply:

    Whenever PB wills it.

    The White House tried to play chess with the CV, and lost. The whole thing is superficially mega-dumb from a California politics viewpoint.

    Please give me a good POLITICAL argument for building it in the Central Valley first. Not just “that’s wat they decided”. From my view, the politics of this is really awful and the current plan actually detracts from political support for CAHSR.

    Nathanael Reply:

    Mmm, actually, politically speaking this is a good move. Give ‘em good passenger rail and they start voting liberal. Really. Various theories have been proposed to explain this.

    Alan Kandel Reply:

    @ flowmotion:

    I will use this analogy to sum the situation up: Downtowns are the hearts of cities. To have a dysfunctional downtown is to have a dysfunctional city, in my opinion. Thriving, vibrant, prosperous urban cores create economic well-being not just in downtowns but throughout entire metro regions. Need proof? Check out what is happening in Denver’s LoDo (Lower Downtown) region as just one relevant example.

    Not to be insulting, but downtowns in the Central Valley are sorely lacking in this regard. And being that major Valley metros will become what are called “Second-tier HSR cities,” the HSR stations in the downtowns of Bakersfield, Fresno, Merced, for example, should foster the kind of mixed-use, compact, dense, location-efficient, transit-oriented, infill development that, as far as I am aware, is totally lacking in Valley metro regions. These types of developments typically become economic drivers in cities that have them. HSR stations can and do encourage this type of growth style.

    If, in fact, the major urban centers that will have HSR stations subscribe to and follow this development paradigm, and should the Valley jump on board and embrace this very model and should corresponding economies become healthy compared to what is currently the case, then in that Valley cities’ economies do become healthy or healthier, then I believe this would be of tremendous benefit to and bode well for the state as a whole. And, if HSR is viewed as the catalyst for making such improvement happen, that, in and of itself, would likely pay long-term dividends for the entire HSR system, not just that portion based in the Valley, making it a true win-win.

    In building HSR in the Valley first, even prior to the section being completed, TOD, infill development of the kind I mentioned above more than likely will begin taking root.

    This is how I see it.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    Please give me a good POLITICAL argument for building it in the Central Valley

    The free 3 billion dollars had to be spend by 2017. If California doesn’t want it I’m sure Pennsylvania and Maryland can find oodles of things to do with it along the NEC.

    datacruncher Reply:

    Alan Kandel, as I posted in another thread, I am watching the proposals submitted for these properties about 1 or 2 blocks from the Fresno HSR station site.
    http://mediad.publicbroadcasting.net/p/kvpr/files/201404/southstadium.jpg
    http://www.fresnorda.com/cmsAdmin/uploads/RFQ-P_Stadium_Area_Development_4-3-14.pdf

    Responses to the RFQ/P from the RDA Successor Agency are due July 2. It should give a little better idea about what developers currently think about station area development in the Valley cities.

    Alan Kandel Reply:

    @ datacruncher

    Don’t know if you’re familiar with Daniel Krause (he is co-founder and Executive Director and President of Californians For High Speed Rail), but his thesis covered this very topic. In reading said thesis and if I remember correctly, Mr. Krause’s analysis was generally favorable as it had to do with all cities profiled. Many different aspects of HSR station-centered development were considered.

    I found the thesis information to be very, very meaningful and relevant. I will access the documents via the links you provided.

    datacruncher Reply:

    I have read Krause’s thesis, it did a nice job.

    Since this is the first time a large number of development proposals near a Valley station may be submitted and released, I see it as an indicator of the type of buildings that developers will try to build in those cities.

    Robert Cruickshank Reply:

    Those places however ARE important to a 2/3 supermajority.

    flowmotion Reply:

    It is horribly foolish to simply count votes while ignoring the influence that Los Angeles/Hollywood has on popular culture.

    If they had any concrete evidence down there, they would build High Speed Rail in movies and television long before existed in real life. They would sell the dream to the American people.

    Or you could have a couple unused tracks dead-ending in Bakersfield. Your choice.

    Andy M Reply:

    Hollywood alread has been high-balling HSR for a long time. They don’t need it on their doorstep if they have CGI and can get footage from Asia and Europe.

    Eric Reply:

    Fresno to Bakersfield is more useful than LA to Burbank.

    Robert Cruickshank Reply:

    I agree, but it has to be real HSR. Get trains from LA to Anaheim in 20 minutes and yeah, Hollywood will flock to it. Run-through tracks at Union Station? Great, but won’t grab public attention.

    joe Reply:

    De Leon has accomplished nothing so far so this is just a rookie leader talking trash.

    He’ll risk the ARRA funds which create jobs in the CV. A Senate leader that doesn’t care about the fast growing CV isn’t going to be successful.

    And Gov Brown will line item veto his ass.

    Zorro Reply:

    Agreed on Gov Brown, etc.

    De Leon is looking like a DINO.

    Observer Reply:

    If De Leon keeps this kind of political immaturity up, he will end up being his own worst enemy. By coming out against beginning HSR in the Central Valley, he is only feeding these loudmouthed know nothing critics of HSR. Not very smart.

    Lewellan Reply:

    If the bookends approach smooths some ruffled feathers, if the CV segment is delayed and upgraded as Peninsula and LA County now intend to cut cost and impact, why disregard this solution?
    The LA – San Francisco trip time would be about 5 hours with 125mph hybrid Talgo-type trainsets, bypassing Palmdale/Lancaster via Tejon, and via Altamont.
    Electrifying Madera-to-Bakersfield is a waste of electricity.

    Observer Reply:

    Waste of electricity? Why would electrifying rail corridors be a waste in the San Joaquin Valley? The San Joaquin valley is one of the most polluted places in the country. It also has the most potential – that is wide open spaces to build solar energy facilities – free electricity – clean electricity. Believe me when I say Diesel engines do not have an advantage over rail electrification.

    synonymouse Reply:

    @ Joe

    Kevin McCarthy can redirect the ARRA funds if a deal can be struck. All is possible in politix.

    Everything revolves around the 2:40 proviso. Let’s hope Judge Kerry does not drink the PB koolaid and rules the current scheme is out of compliance and require Prop 1a to be revised. At least the truth would be forced out. The Brown Bros. the same – say and promise anything to sell a measure to the voters.

    synonymouse Reply:

    2:40 regular service not burn the furniture and suspend all quotidian safety rules

    Eric Reply:

    “Common political sense says they should start building it where people can see it.”

    No, common sense says they should start building in isolated areas, because there the construction won’t interfere with people’s commute.

    joe Reply:

    He’ll need to grow-up if he wants to lead the Senate. Not only can’t he govern by dismissing the CV, the State’s population is shifting to the CV which means they’re gaining representation at the expense of the coasts.

    datacruncher Reply:

    It makes me want to see the Mayor of Fresno become State Controller in November just to watch the show between her and De Leon.

    Ted Judah Reply:

    I am betting if Swearengin wins, she will not say the phrase “high speed rail” for at least four years.

  2. Joey
    Jun 22nd, 2014 at 20:14
    #2

    The problem with starting with the Central Valley is that it’s not really useful until one of the mountain crossings are build. It will sit dormant, barring a handful of Amtrak runs each day, until connected to one of the endpoints.

    But it’s a done deal at this point. What we need to focus on now is actually reaching one of those end points. That’s probably LA (Palmdale isn’t going to cut it) but a comprehensive cost/ridership analysis needs to be done. Given blending with CalTrain, the north end could be reasonable cheap assuming you figure out how to eliminate the 60′ viaduct in San Jose (not difficult).

    Nathanael Reply:

    Unfortunately, De Leon is not proposing to focus on the mountain crossings either. :sigh:

    A “mountain crossing first” plan would be good but it has no advocate.

    Andy M Reply:

    Tunnels and mountain crossing are extremely costly, take a long time to complete and have much scope for cost overruns. Also, a mountain crossing by itself would be of limited value. I think its right to start with sections that are both low-risk and have standalone value.

    jimsf Reply:

    all you have to do is make sure that as contruction begins in the valley, you begin finalizing one of the mountain crossings so the its ready for constuction as asap.

    The likely senario would be to have the bakersfiled -palmdale to san fernando construction begin as the merced bakersfiled is wrapping up.

    Clem Reply:

    If they find $20,000 million between the couch cushions, maybe.

    jimsf Reply:

    Well, califronia has a pretty big couch.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    The cap-and-trade money is there, no?

    Ted Judah Reply:

    Well if we would just repeal Stanford’s property tax break, we could probably Ring the Bay at least….

    Donk Reply:

    True, any discussion about the mountain crossings is moot until they actually finish the goddamn plans for one of them. What is taking them so long? Once they are “shovel ready” people will start jumping on board the “mountain crossing first” plan.

    Clem Reply:

    They’re a wee bit too pricey, and they are on both ends what’s fundamentally wrong with the project as it stands. These plans will eventually resolve themselves through lack of money, so I wouldn’t be too concerned.

    Mac Reply:

    HSRA hasn’t updated on the Bakersfield to Palmdale route because it doesn’t want to publicize the problems it is uncovering…and does not want to admit the true costs to build it. This information will provide ammunition to those fighting them in the court system.
    Instead they are skipping over that and putting their PR team on the Palmdale-LA Basin segment “public open house” road tour where they have some active cheerleaders to distract…

    Zorro Reply:

    Do you have a link for that or did you just pull that out of your ass?

    Clem Reply:

    Try the CARRD website, where a number of the Regional Consultant monthly reports to the Parsons Brinckerhoff mothership have been pried out of the clenched fist of the CHSRA. They make for fascinating reading.

    joe Reply:

    Blended electrified caltrain from Gilroy. No 60′ viaduct. The State is already planning on double tracking the ROW.

    Joey Reply:

    Citation please for being able to run HSR on UP tracks. UP’s stance has always been that they will not allow HSR anywhere near their ROW.

    Amanda in the South Bay Reply:

    Even excluding HSR, how will Caltrain negotiate with UP for electrification south of Tamien?

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    Use the slots HSR isn’t using?

    flowmotion Reply:

    I’m trying to get excited about this, but I went to the Garlic Festival once and it was horribly boring. Just a bunch of cheezy food stands around an empty field with a dad rock coverband playing in the background.

    Point being there’s really no point doing anything with the Gilroy line until funding for the Pacheco is found.

    Clem Reply:

    Bingo. The perfect Bay Area bookend project is to connect the Central Valley, Tri-Valley and Silicon Valley with high-speed blended rail along the hopelessly congested 580 corridor. See, when you don’t call it Altamont it sounds so much better.

    joe Reply:

    Bay Area bookend projects, listed from highest to lowest priority, are BART, BART, BART and more BART.

    flowmotion Reply:

    Joe — Unlike other choo-choos, BART is a very effective and reliable service that gets people to work without otherwise interfering with their suburban lifestyles. So whenever it appears on the ballot, people tend to vote Yes.

    It is a quite simple mantra. “BART deserves funding because people vote for BART”. Repeat it a few times and soon all thoughts of ‘Indian Broad Gauge’ will vanish from your mind. 8)

    Or more seriously, we have a system which actually works. why wouldn’t we invest in it rather than some other system which currently looks crappy. Once you start looking at real ROW and construction costs, there’s very little savings in standard rail. IMO eBART is the worst decision they’ve ever made. BART is BART, they want BART, give the the real f*ing BART.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    It works compared to San Bernardino. Compared to other cities it size not so much.

    synonymouse Reply:

    So happy I don’t have to go anywhere near those noisome cattlecars. I can visualize a grinning Lord of Darkness Ray Wise in “Reaper” quipping “I invented IBG.”

    Google Bus – now that is the wave of the future. he he he

    great show – http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0936403/?ref_=ttfc_fc_cl_t6

    and from my home town – quelle surprise

    joe Reply:

    BART. No Dumbarton running low cost euro-trains. No Altamont -580 to Silicon Valley.

    On the plus side, Brown will line veto any proposed change to the Law come the Fall.

    The Central Valley is proportionally gaining on the coasts with population and representation. Sen. De Leon will be unable to muster votes for his awesome urban renewal and he certainly can’t over ride a veto by telling the CV to stick it.

    The CV isn’t going to pay for BART and METRO considering the CV is where the most air quality impacted areas are in CA.

    flowmotion Reply:

    Joe — In a recent thread you made a great point that Alameda County voted down a tax and therefore also voted down Dumberton Rail (not BART). That vote also means they rejected Altamont rail and central valley commuter systems too.

    Are there any Stockton politicians pushing for a tax which would allow bay area commuting? As far I know, no. So there’s no danger of BART invading these territories until they are willing to pay for it.

    Ted Judah Reply:

    But Altamont is within BART’s sphere of influence. Pacheco isn’t.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    so the 300,000 people in Stockton getting to work in navel of the Universe San Jose is more important than the 500,000 people in greater Palmdale getting to work in itty bitty Los Angeles?

    synonymouse Reply:

    That is an LA County matter. Palmdale is off route. It is that simple.

    Altamont and Tejon are the default routes between Norcal and Socal. end of story. Nothing succeeds like success.

    Amanda in the South Bay Reply:

    Why shouldn’t Palmdale be a Metrolink concern, rather than HSR?

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    Why should suburb to suburb commutes in the Bay Area be a HSR concern?

    Amanda in the South Bay Reply:

    Because Altamont makes the LA-SF trip shorter than Pacheco? Is Palmdale all of a sudden not a suburb, but Sacramento is?

    Paul Dyson Reply:

    I think you are revealing the limitations of antiquated terminology, such as “commuter” and “suburb”. People commute from San Francisco to San Jose for example, does that make San Francisco a suburb? And of course people commute in the opposite direction. Best to refer to as as regional rail, although even then you bump into an overlap between it and transit. Caltrain is referred to as commuter rail but actual commuters in the traditional sense are only part of their market. Palmdale is a city and I see people traveling towards it to work there. It also generates commuters to L.A. and other points to the south and southwest.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    Why is Palmdale less important to Los Angeles than Stockton is to San Francisco, Either San Jose is the navel of the universe or it’s part of the San Francisco Combined Statistical Area. If you want to play “but it’s part of our metro area” Los Angeles gets to play the same game.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    The census counts things like where people live and where they commute to. It’s the San Francisco CSA not the San Jose CSA. How does building across Altamont help get reverse commuters from San Francisco to Santa Clara?

    synonymouse Reply:

    Palmdale is off the hsr route.

    Reality Check Reply:

    @adirondacker: Altamont gets HSR on/off Caltrain’s ROW sooner at Redwood Junction, cutting the blended mileage by about half. That helps enable preservation and/or improvement express and local Caltrain service capacity for Peninsula commuters. Haven’t you been following Clem’s blog going back for years now?

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    Redwood City doesn’t get San Jose service to Los Angeles. It gets San Jose a BART ride to Fremont. IT gets San Jose a diesel shuttle to Redwood City most likely too.

    Lewellan Reply:

    “Why should suburb-to-suburb commutes (Altamont route) in the Bay Area be a HSR concern?”
    Answer: Because the 3rd HSR corridor created, San Francisco-to-Sacramento, is a huge travel market.
    Answer: BART should NOT be designated as a commute-system, according to regional urban planning philosophy. As a commute system, BART 10-car trains are packed during rush hours while road and freeway traffic remains chaotic. As a commute system, BART isn’t working good enough.

    jimsf Reply:

    Routing the train via tracy/livermore/dublin/pleasnton total population 264k, is important but the nihgtmarish “detour” to serve palmdale and lancaster total pop 320k is not.

    Nathanael Reply:

    Bay Area thinking strikes again. Clem is really very stupid in some ways. The Altamont route is not viable for high speed service at all.

    Nathanael Reply:

    (The price tag for HSR across Altamont to San Francisco would be more than double the price tag of Pacheco — more expensive land, more tunnelling, more bridges — to build a slower route.)

    Reality Check Reply:

    Altamont is a faster route for all trips except between SJ and points south … and the slightly increased travel time between SJ and points south is so far outweighed by the reduction in both travel time and system route miles at build-out that Altamont was a no-brainer for the CA High Speed Rail Commission (the predecessor agency to the HSRA which switched the preferred to Pacheco in the face of a sustained and relentless lobbying campaign by San Jose interestests and figures such as Rod Diridon, Carl Guardino, Ron Gonzales, etc.).

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    The BART ride to Fremont would make it a lot longer

    Nathanael Reply:

    Including the Tunnel Under The Bay and the Completely New Alignment With A Dozen Tunnels over the mountains?

    Previous Altamont studies were frankly making overly optimistic assumptions. Building Altamont as HSR in any way which would actually work (including the Tunnel Under The Bay and the Dozen Tunnels over the mountains) would be stupendously expensive. And slower, unless you’re heading north of Bakersfield.

    Nathanael Reply:

    I’ll put it this way, so Clem can understand it: the Altamont route contains all the same sort of problems which caused the cost estimates for Palmdale-Burbank to double.

    Clem Reply:

    It’s misinformed comments like this that make me want to work harder on an in-depth “Truth About Altamont” piece. Nothing against Nathaniel, but he knows far less about Altamont than he thinks he knows.

    Reality Check Reply:

    The BART ride to Fremont would make it a lot longer

    What BART ride? And longer for whom?

    The original idea for Altamont was to fork the HSR line in Fremont, with one leg serving SJ and the other serving SF (via a Dumbarton corridor bay crossing).

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    Original ideas have a nasty habit of getting revised when the costs start to escalate.

    BruceMcF Reply:

    @ Nathanael, Thought M’s point is that with the water tunnel being dug, one of the big risk factors that the Palmdale to Burbank segment hit in the lower parts of the descent into the San Fernando Valley hit wouldn’t be present, since having tunneled, we would know the geology.

    If a two track high rail bridge could clear EIR, that would be the alternative to tunneling, but there is an issue whether it would require new footings, which would spark a big wetlands preservation fight.

    In total project cost, there’s already a notional commitment to the Super-ACE, so the relevant cost of the corridor from Merced to Fremont via an Altamont alignment is the incremental cost between Super-ACE and a Phase 1 compliant main LA to SF path, plus the cost of the Dumbarton Crossing.

    And now that sanity has prevailed on allowing shared passenger rail operation on 125mph urban segments, a Dumbarton Crossing would bring with it on the Benefit side of the Cost/Benefit analysis the additional benefits of the original Dumbarton Rail corridor proposal plus the opportunity for a Redwood City terminus for the San Joaquin.

    It can’t be rejected prima facie without doing the Cost/Benefit comparison.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    Clem: please do write the piece!

    joe Reply:

    Why is a political consideration assumed to be inferior or dirty?

    Assume tens of billions to do with as you wish – designed a system and evaluate it with a narrow set of metrics.

    Despite the myths, SNCF was not stopped from building the I-5 Altamont super train. They could have raised money or applied for a FRA Loan and put CAHSR out of business.

    Clem Reply:

    Tracy – Livermore – Fremont is not a detour, since it does not add travel time between SF and LA. In fact, it’s a half-hour shortcut to Sacramento. So yeah, all detours are dumb, especially long ones through mountainous terrain that are not only dumb but stupendously expensive.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    How is 140 miles a shortcut compared to 90 miles.

    Clem Reply:

    Shortcuts are measured in minutes, not miles.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    Yes we all know that once Altamont is built world hunger will end, peace will reign and no one will ever have to build anything anywhere.

    jimsf Reply:

    Altamont is already going to get service. Pacheco brings new, service to an unserved region.
    With pacheco, central valley folks have easy access to the the coast.
    With pacheco we get pahceco and altamont

    Clem Reply:

    If the criterion is to bring new service to an unserved area, then by all means build HSR to Redding.

    jimsf Reply:

    HSR should aboslutely go to redding eventually. It should serve the entire state.

    Eric Reply:

    Pachecho Pass is uninhabited. On one end of it is Gilroy which already has rail. On the other end is the Central Valley which also has rail. Seems to me that the entire region is already served. Oh, you think the trip from Gilroy to Fresno will be too slow via Altamont? Guess what, Gilroy has 50k residents and Fresno 500k. Let’s finish the SF-LA-Sacramento route via Altamont, and then we can spend whatever money is left over on the 50k residents of Gilroy.

    joe Reply:

    Eric, Gilroy has a station because…..Monterey County Tourism and business travel.

    Number of visitors annually to Monterey County according to State of California and D.K. Shifflet & Associates (2013 figures):
    8.39 million person-trips total
    7.08 million leisure
    1.31 million business

    -Number of visitors to the El Estero visitors center- 122,049
    -Most visited attraction: Monterey Bay Aquarium – 1,883,671 (2013)

    http://www.seemonterey.com/regions/monterey/

    HSR cannot operate service with a subsidy. Commuter rail is subsidized transportation.
    Sacramento – Bay area is commuter rail. East Bay to Silicon Valley is commuter rail.

    Eric Reply:

    Pacheco Pass doesn’t serve the Monterey Bay Aquarium.

    joe Reply:

    Of course Pacheco pass services Montery Co. It’s been that way since Spain held Alta California.

    It’s silly to look at the station city’s population and declare that’s the ridership population size and destination.

    flowmotion Reply:

    When I google “Train to Monterey”, it tells me to take a bus from San Jose.

    (Although I’m impressed at Google’s ability to give me horrible 4-leg public transit options.)

    Amanda in the South Bay Reply:

    And Palmdale-LA is commuter rail.

    Amanda in the South Bay Reply:

    Again, there’s no extant track within the city limits of Monterey-I believe UP still owns the ROW, but you seriously think it’d be cheap building dual track through the paved over walking trail and into downtown? The entire abandoned ROW from Castroville would need to be replaced. I’ve seen the YouTube videos of the stunt one day Suntan Special that Amtrak and Caltrain did in the 90s. Even at low speeds going through Watsonville was pretty shakey. At most a Capitol Corridor style train to Monterey might work, but the only people who’d use HSR regularly would be DLI and NPS faculty who commute from Santa Clara County mainly.

    Reality Check Reply:

    @Amanda: CSU Monterey Bay should be good for some ridership too.

    BruceMcF Reply:

    @Amanda The planned Monterey Branch Line is a light rail line, which they’ve back of the enveloped estimated at $165m to build and $3.7m annually to operates.

    It is stalled at an early stage for lack of funding.

    If it connected with heavy rail it would be a transfer at Castroville, on the planned Capitol Corridor extension to Salinas. That’s also pending funding, but as its on the Capitol Corridor long term plan, if the Capitol Corridor gets a slice of the 10% of Cap and Trade to transit and intercity rail capital works, its likely that the extension from Gilroy to Salinas will eventually happen.

    Obviously if the Monterrey Light Rail is never built, then when the Salinas extension of the Capitol Corridor is put through, that’ll be a bus to Castroville instead.

    joe Reply:

    Shortcuts are measured in minutes, not miles.

    But you criticize the Palmdale alignment because the added miles add costs.

    jimsf Reply:

    The train has to go through palmdale so that everyone can take hsr to the snow and it will make the trip more interesting.

    joe Reply:

    Bypass Monterey Co. and take the Tri-city Party train.

    How a commuter line to Sacramento will operate without subsidy is not clear. It is cheaper to build.

    Clem Reply:

    You would think that it would operate with far less subsidy than that hallowed success story of modern rail service, the Capitol Corridor.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    http://www.amtrak.com/pdf/factsheets/CALIFORNIA13.pdf

    SIlly silly people getting off the train before they get to San Jose…

    joe Reply:

    Palmdale is a bookend project and important to LA County. If bookends matter, then they matter for LA County too.

    Tracy/Livermore/Dublin/Pleasanton would bypass Monterey Co. Would travelers rather ride HSR to Livermore rather than Monterey Co. One’s a multi-billion dollar tourist destination which should produce revenue, the other is closer to Sacramento.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    I hear that tourists from all over the world go to Stockton for the shopping and then are disappointed they can’t get to the fine dining in Tracy or the glittering nightlife in Livermore.

    Clem Reply:

    Are you dumping on the three million residents of the Sacramento metro area, or did I miss a zero or two in the population of Monterey County?

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    ah so they go to Sacramento for the fine dining and glittering nightlife and wish they could get to the shopping in Stockton?

    Alon Levy Reply:

    No, they go to Sacramento so that they can lobby legislators to let them sue another grandmother for filesharing.

    BruceMcF Reply:

    The Southern Bookend is from the junction of the Antelope Valley corridor with LOSSAN by the Burbank airport through LA Union Station and Anaheim. Bakersfield / Palmdale is the “Early Priority” and Palmdale / San Fernando Valley completes the IOS.

  3. jimsf
    Jun 22nd, 2014 at 20:14
    #3

    ITs so funny how politicians suddenly “care about the children” lol when it helps their argument. One minute hsr will destroy the children’s education by running past the school, and in another neighborhood, hsr money must be spent in order to cure the poor children of asthma… ( but only the poor children in his particular district, poor children across town are out of luck)

    It just gets funnier and funneir this project.

    How bout lets just stick to the plan and buili the damn thing and stop arguing about it and micromanaging it.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    If he cared about the children he would have pushed to electrify Metrolink.

    jimsf Reply:

    I just hope that Brown, who no doubt wants to leave this project project as his enduring legac, has the power to keep it on track and moving forward inspite of the congressional yahoos.

    joe Reply:

    http://www.health.com/health/gallery/0,,20490855_last,00.html

    The 11 worse cities for air pollution nationally include these CA cities.
    Bakersfield
    Visalia
    Hanford
    Fresno
    Modesto
    and also De Leon’s LA

  4. Paul Druce
    Jun 22nd, 2014 at 20:26
    #4

    Fun fact: 71.5% of all Bakersfield-Fresno passengers continue on to/from SoCal via bus, 53% of them to/from LA Union station (and about a third of all San Joaquin passengers bus to/from SoCal) . But hey, let’s just ignore where people are actually demonstrating that they want to go and build a fairly useless initial line that will just let them get to their bus a little bit quicker.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    Hey just toss away 3 billion or so to concentrate on building the mountain crossings so that when they are complete we can spend lots more money to build something that could have been built ahead of time.

    jimsf Reply:

    would be best to build merced palmdale and palmdale san fernandy concurrently.

    BruceMcF Reply:

    Bakersfield/Palmdale? Merced to just north of Bakersfield is the one they just sorted out funding for, independently of the state of the lawsuit over selling Prop1A bonds.

    It would be good to start building Bakersfield / Palmdale before Merced/Fresno/Baksersfield is finished, and then start Palmdale / SFV once the ICS is finished and in use, but that hinges on what level of federal funding can be shaken out for HSR once President Obama is out of office and “hate it because Obama” no longer drives GOP infrastructure policy.

    HSR is not intrinsically a Red or Blue football ~ it was, after all, Bush the Elder that proposed the more ambitious HSR proposal and Clinton that scaled it back to the Acela ~ but at the moment any policy seen as being favored by the President attracts reflexive opposition in a large section of the the GOP primary base electorate, and GOP Congressmen simply cannot ignore the threat that they pose.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    They’ve been proposing all sorts of things and scaling them back since Lyndon Johnson was President.
    The only President who did something significant to the NEC was FDR.

    Clem Reply:

    They just don’t seem to understand how many more people would ride this bus if it detoured via Palmdale, rather than using that outrageous shortcut through Tejon Pass!

    synonymouse Reply:

    Yes, it should be re-routed thru Mojave and Palmdale immediately. Amtrak is hating on the Valley clearly.

    Eric Reply:

    Ouch :)

    JJJJ Reply:

    Im sure you realize one or two of the Bakersfield buses do go that way, right?

    blankslate Reply:

    Passengers bound for LAUS do not take those buses.

  5. Nathanael
    Jun 22nd, 2014 at 20:31
    #5

    What would it take to meet him in the middle? I suggest that he pass an amendment which earmarks “urban transit” money for rail electrification at 60 Hz 25 kV with overhead catenary. Both Caltrain and Metrolink need this, and if it’s diesel emissions he’s worried about, this is the way to deal with that.

  6. Michael
    Jun 22nd, 2014 at 21:17
    #6

    May we abandon the cheesy term “bullet train”?

    To build something, there needs to be environmental clearance and some level of design. If the approved run-through tracks need some state matching money, give them some. I think this is what this is actually all about. Caltrain and TTT got theirs, so LAUS seems worthy for some HSR cap-n-crunch money.

    jimsf Reply:

    agreed- “bullet train” is total velveeta. In fac they need to give the thing a good marketable name that californains can love and embrace, and drop the “bullet train” “high speed rail” terminolgy altogether.
    The system needs a uniquley californian moniker. the sooner the better.

    I say change all the imagery to show it painted white, put an apple on the side, and call it the iTrain. Just make sure theres a stop in cupertino.

    synonymouse Reply:

    You think Tim Cook is going to endorse something that Elon Musk has turned thumbs down as Amtrak?

    SNCF has been on strike for about 2 weeks. 220mph(yeah, sure)is going to make up for 1 train in 3 actually underway. Forget iTrain – NoShowTrain.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    Meu aerodeslizador está cheio de enguias

    jimsf Reply:

    I never know what he is talking about.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    It always means “my hovercraft is full of eels.” It’s from this.

    And in related news, meus mamilos explodir de alegria.

    EJ Reply:

    You’ve still never come up with a rail line anywhere in the developed world that doesn’t use union labor.

    synonymouse Reply:

    A smart operator would try to eliminate platform employees to the greatest extent in that case.

    Ergo HART.

  7. Donk
    Jun 22nd, 2014 at 21:21
    #7

    Uhh…there is Cap And Trade money allocated to transportation, other than HSR. The Run-Thru Tracks project can come from that. But of course de Leon is not aware of that, nor is anyone else in the state, since the only thing people talk about is the portion of CnT going to HSR.

    Nathanael Reply:

    Exactly. There’s a huge “local rail” pot of Cap and Trade money. It would be appropriate to allocate it to LA Union Station or to Metrolink electrification.

    Paul Dyson Reply:

    It is not huge and it is spread very thinly including transit, commuter and intercity rail.

    BruceMcF Reply:

    Its not a pot of money, its a flow of funds. If the CnT funds rise to $750m+ for HSR annually, then it’ll be $150m annually for transit operations and $300m annually for capital investment.

    If intercity rail doesn’t get any additional operating subsidies from CnT and gets 1/3 of the capital funding, that would be $100m annually in additional capital funding for intercity rail. If its split north and south, $50m annually in additional capital funding for both Northern and Southern Californian intercity rail.

    And it will take a few years for CnT revenues to ramp up to those levels, so if you pencil in three $150m projects for northern California, that could well exhaust intercity rail’s share of the coming decade’s CnT proceeds. You could do the ACE extension to Merced, the Capitol Corridor extension to Salinas, hand a chunk of money to BART for it to vanish without a trace in some billion dollar project, and then you’re tapped out.

  8. Donk
    Jun 22nd, 2014 at 21:33
    #8

    There definitely is precedent to the argument that “Californians would see a bookend project and demand it be expanded through the gap and across the Valley.”

    -The Pasadena Gold Line. Until that was built in 2003, people in LA just assumed that Metro Rail was for evil minorities that would ride the train into their towns and break into their homes. After the Gold Line was built thru affluent communities (S. Pasadena and Pasadena), people saw the light and those same rich white people started using the Gold Line to go to Old Town Pasadena and the Rose Bowl.

    The results:
    -Change in attitudes, press coverage, and momentum of the Expo Line
    -2005 Election of Antonio Villaraigosa – who was elected on a “subway to the sea” platform and was arguably the most pro-transit mayor in the world
    -2007 repeal of subway tunneling ban on Wilshire
    -2008 passage of Measure R
    -2012 loss of another transit measure with 66.6% of the vote

    Basically, the Gold Line led to a complete 180 on support for rail in LA and there was no turning back.

    jimsf Reply:

    by the same token, having a 220 capable mainline down the cetner of the state will see the bay and ;la folks pusing that much harder to connect up to it. Wheras just anther infrastructure project for the “city” will not tranlsate into the valley getting anything because they never get anything and are used to never getting anything. The central valley is california’s battered spouse when it comes to investment.

    Nathanael Reply:

    Bingo. The Pasadena Gold Line is exactly the sort of “out in the boondocks” route which technicals who can’t understand politics, like Clem, attacked.

    jimsf Reply:

    politics always comes before technical. If the route were anything but what it is, it would not have passed at the ballot box. It doesn’t matter that the route is not technically the most efficient because more efficent for one person is less efficient for the next.

    The route as planned including the inland empire route via riverside san bernadino is what is best for the popultaion of the state as whole, going into the future. It puts the most people within the most hsr stations with direct travel to the most other people near the most other stations in the bulk of the state.( minus the sacramento valley and north coast) and it does that while still being able to provide fast express times end to end. What you give up on the one hand you gain somewhere else. Tghe current plan brings the state together as one so we can once and for stop being us and them.

    jimsf Reply:

    the train is sort of like Ghandi! The enlightenment express.

    Eric Reply:

    Inland Empire route is probably best for LA-Phoenix and SD-Phoenix, I see that as its main advantage.

    Eric Reply:

    In fact I think LA-Phoenix is very underrated. It should be just as promising a corridor as Dallas-Houston, with comparable construction costs. It is the same distance as LA-SF, not too much inferior in terms of populations at each end, and much cheaper to build (no tunnels, few viaducts).

    jimsf Reply:

    some people on this blog are too obsessed with only big city to big city mattering, when a high speed statewide transportation service is what is needed and what is useful and valid.
    Connect all the regions to one another. Dont treat all but two as red headed step children.

    Eric Reply:

    If you add a detour to every podunk town, then it’s no longer high speed transportation.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    Fine, Palmdale, Lancaster and their suburbs can all consolidate like San Jose did to it’s suburbs and become the fourth largest city in the state.

    Lewellan Reply:

    “If the route were anything but what it is, it would not have passed at the ballot box.”

    I don’t remember Prop 1A specifically stating a route via Palmdale and Gilroy.
    It did stipulate 200mph and 2hr 40min, but that was more eye candy than realism.
    Tejon would cut travel time, an argument in its defense, but speed is relative.
    Electrifying Madera-Bakersfield for 200mph is NOT productive.
    Cost/impact/productivity remain the determining factors in route selection.
    Peninsula & LA County cut costs. Why can’t Central Valley do the same?

    BruceMcF Reply:

    Electrifying some actual high speed section for testing is highly productive.

    Just for its initial use, you wouldn’t bother with electrification, since the San Joaquin can run 110mph diesel with upper leeway for catch up.

    But it would take a right idjit to propose waiting to test and certify the HSR trains until the IOS is completed. I’ve criticized the CHSRA for a number of things ~ especially their original insane objection to running on the same track as express passenger service for what seemed like fear of catching conventional rail cooties ~ and if they were brain dead enough to build the ICS but fail to electrify enough of it to serve as a test track, as you seem to be proposing, I’d criticize them for following such foolish advice.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    by the time they open it the new cars and locomotives that can do 125 should have been delivered.

    EJ Reply:

    Meanwhile, in the real world, the valley gets over 25% of California’s transportation investment. http://www.centralvalleybusinesstimes.com/stories/001/?ID=25921

    Robert Cruickshank Reply:

    But there’s a crucial difference here, which is that the San Gabriel Valley is not the Central Valley. If anything it proves the point I made in the article, which is that when Southern Californians see rail, they quite rightly demand it in their own neighborhood rather than in the seemingly far-off Central Valley.

  9. EJ
    Jun 22nd, 2014 at 23:17
    #9

    for a repeat of the “bookends” strategy of the last 40 years that has failed to deliver a reliable north-south rail link.

    What bookends strategy? If there was all this investment over the last 40 years, where’s electrified metrolink and caltrain? Where’s Dumbarton rail?

    Zorro Reply:

    Where’s electrified metrolink and caltrain? That wasn’t what was envisioned when both were started.

  10. StevieB
    Jun 23rd, 2014 at 02:45
    #10

    Sen. Kevin de León in a meeting with reporters after the California Senate unanimously voted him as its next president pro tem said he will work hard in Senate Democrat political campaigns this year to get more Democrats out to vote in November. He said he is hoping to help Democrats restore the two-thirds supermajority they lost this year when three senators were suspended while they fight criminal charges including bribery, perjury and conspiracy to traffic weapons.

    Read more here: http://blogs.sacbee.com/capitolalertlatest/2014/06/kevin-de-len-formally-voted-in-as-the-next-senate-leader.html#storylink=cpy

  11. Trentbridge
    Jun 23rd, 2014 at 06:48
    #11

    Cars going nowhere?

    “SONOMA, Calif. — Thousands of fans descended up on Sonoma Raceway Sunday for the Toyota/Save Mart 350 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series, which makes an annual pit stop in the Bay Area each year.
    The race is considered one of the biggest sporting events in the Bay Area and drew approximately 90,000 to 100,000 fans. ”

    A hundred thousand people watched cars going “nowhere” at high speed. I’ll bet there are enough rail enthusiasts in the US to keep a starter HSR pair of trains doing over 200 mph busy for years regardless of whether it reaches a “bookend” or not. Build it and we will come – and line up for the chance..

  12. Larry Scheib
    Jun 23rd, 2014 at 07:58
    #12

    Building from 4 endpoints is better than 2. Jobs and progress are spread-out, more politicians are happy and there are more options to spend available funds at opportune times. Considering the setbacks thus far and the need for a blended system as a bridge to full HSR I think the 4 current endpoints is working good. de Leon will eventually realize as much.

  13. Paul Dyson
    Jun 23rd, 2014 at 09:33
    #13

    “That has led to great results for Caltrain and especially Metrolink.” Robert, I assume this was meant sarcastically? 40,000 daily riders on the whole of Metrolink, numbers declining, special meeting today to endorse service cuts, not a pretty picture.

  14. Paul Dyson
    Jun 23rd, 2014 at 09:35
    #14

    “Yet Amtrak California already carries huge numbers of riders. ” Another great quote from Robert. 8,000 a day on the Surfliner, “huge”??

    Eric M Reply:

    And you are from RailPAC? Just stop posting because you have no credibility anymore.

    CALTRANS AND AMTRAK CALIFORNIA SET RAIL RIDERSHIP RECORD

    Amanda in the South Bay Reply:

    What? How is he wrong-that’s the correct number of daily riders. Ridership may be increasing, but its still a very low ridership route.

    Eric M Reply:

    Didn’t realize “Amtrak California”, according to Paul is only the Surfliner? Cherry picking?

    Paul took a general statement Robert made about all of Amtrak California and picked the Surfliner to rebuff the statement. All, doesn’t mean one line. Typical. But hey, “follow the lights”.

    Paul Druce Reply:

    16,000 daily riders if you include Capitols and San Joaquins. For comparison, ~300,000 daily automobiles LA-Diego. Not huge ridership by any means.

    Eric M Reply:

    Hellllllllooooooooo? What part of “ALL” Amtrak California do you not understand?

    Alon Levy Reply:

    Amtrak California consists of the Surfliner, the Capitols, and the San Joaquins.

    Paul Dyson Reply:

    Eric M: Paul Druce supplied the pertinent data. Use your long division to calculate daily riders from the propaganda sheet of annual riders supplied by Caltrans. Take a look at the catchment area for the Capitol Corridor and for the San Joaquins in addition to the Surfliner. As a percentage of daily travel demand in those corridors it’s hardly a rounding error. I could do it for you but that would encourage your lazy mind.
    That doesn’t mean RailPAC doesn’t support them. On the contrary we are constantly seeking improvement so that they reach closer to their full potential. But at the moment we have state officials, Amtrak and JPA Boards applauding themselves for a job less than half done. As one of my old bosses (Ed Moyers) said when he came to SP, “On a really good day we are mediocre. How many people here want to work for a mediocre company?”

    Eric M Reply:

    Oh good, so you are finally getting the point. Amtrak California consists of more than the Surfliner and Amtrak California has more than more than 8000 daily riders. Stop cherry picking to look smart at making a rebuttal.

    Richard Mlynarik Reply:

    8000 daily riders!

    Just like a low-end urban bus line.

    And with only $10000000000000 of investment the number of riders might get up to 10000 and US carbon emissions would go negative.

    Pick the smart cherries: Amtrak™.

    Eric M Reply:

    Hey Richard, not the point moron!

    Eric M Reply:

    Also Richard, you should think about giving a call to TRANSDEF and helping out. It would be a great place for you as all they seem to do is bitch an moan about something if it is not done their way!! Just like a little child…..

    Richard Mlynarik Reply:

    Dear Eric M,

    What is your point?

    8000 riders?

    Eric M Reply:

    No, the point was from Paul Dyson quoting Robert above:

    “Yet Amtrak California already carries huge numbers of riders. ” Another great quote from Robert. 8,000 a day on the Surfliner, “huge”??

    And the point was, Robert meant Amtrak as a whole, while Paul only took the Surfliners’ smaller number out of the group, not ALL of Amtrak California, in an attempt to belittle California ridership all together.

    Paul Dyson Reply:

    So Eric M, how many daily riders does Amtrak California as a whole generate? Have you bothered to do the calculation yet?

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    12,218,615 in fiscal year 2013

    http://www.amtrak.com/pdf/factsheets/CALIFORNIA13.pdf

    That includes people on the land cruise trains that aren’t Amtrak California.

    Paul Dyson Reply:

    Eric M, if I carried one passenger last year and two this, that is a record. If I carry 8,000 people in a catchment area of 15 million that is not huge. You seem to differ. Readers can draw their own conclusions.
    Slow service and poor punctuality result in poor results. There are lots and lots of empty seats on the state corridor trains. If you don’t invest in the infrastructure and instead, in the case of southern CA pile on commuter services to strain the network you end up with journeys which are mediocre on a good day. If you think that a propaganda message about a “ridership” record means that this is a successful program then you are very easily pleased. Me? I’m never satisfied. You have to constantly seek improvement or the competition will eat your lunch.

    Reality Check Reply:

    Uh, from the rail perspective, it’s more like this: the competition already has your breakfast, lunch and dinner … and you’re sniffing around the floor for crumbs.

    Paul Dyson Reply:

    True, but I am the eternal optimist, else I wouldn’t be on this silly blog.

    Eric M Reply:

    Apparently this blog is not that silly because you feel the sense in posting frequently, which lend to the credence you feel threatened by Roberts views on high speed rail in California and worry about the large following of readers this blog has.

    Paul Dyson Reply:

    Eric M, I just try and shovel light into dark corners. Robert’s cheer leading is no threat to anyone that I know of. I remember not long ago when it was suggested that L.A. Anaheim was to be the initial segment, and that was absolutely right and truly a masterful decision. Now the Central Valley is the starting point and that is absolutely right, a masterful decision. Four legs good, two legs better.
    It’s always best to argue your case from facts. Amtrak California, buses and trains together, provide a useful mobility option for a relatively small number of people, although passenger miles boosts the utility. Bandying adjectives around like “huge” is intellectually bankrupt. It just leaves your open for derision.
    But wait, there’s more. “L.A. to Anaheim in 20 minutes” by bullet train writes Robert. A non stop Metrolink would take about 24 minutes with a couple more grade seps. Is he advocating $4 billion plus to save 4 minutes?
    Those kinds of statements, and the people that defend them, do more harm to passenger rail than good, in my opinion.

  15. Reedman
    Jun 23rd, 2014 at 09:41
    #15

    The Supreme Court is going to review how rail regulations are set.

    The SCOTUS has agreed to hear a lawsuit that says that Amtrak should not be allowed to set the standards for whether or not the freight railroads should be penalized for how they treat Amtrak.

    http://online.wsj.com/articles/supreme-court-to-review-amtrak-role-in-setting-rail-regulations-1403531638

    synonymouse Reply:

    The Supremes will shortly rule on(against)Aereo and we will find out what justices Disney owns.

    Pull the networks’ effing frequencies unless they put in repeaters so all who are supposed to get OTA can with rabbit ears.

    Nathanael Reply:

    Given that the (ideological) appeals court justice ruled against Amtrak, in a very questionable ruling, this is probably good news for Amtrak. If the Supreme Court had been against Amtrak, they would have left the appeals court ruling alone.

  16. Paul Dyson
    Jun 23rd, 2014 at 09:44
    #16

    Here’s the deal politically as I see. De Leon is new and has to make a mark.
    There never was any prospect that L.A. and the rest of SoCal would sit back and watch this CV construction without wanting more for themselves.
    Regardless of the population of Bakersfield and Fresno together they would never generate enough local traffic to justify the kind of interim service that is proposed. Even today, as Paul Druce correctly points out, there is hardly any “intercity” business between the two by rail. So the De Leon plan, echoed by the Morales letter to Pavley which I commented on last week, will change the construction sequence. Exactly how is not yet clear but I believe a lot of people will be pressing for Palmdale to Orange County, with a High Speed segment in the north end and “Caltrain” south of Burbank.
    Some work will continue in the Central Valley and we will end up with diverted San Joaquin service over a token segment plus regional rail in So Cal including a HS element with emus. Presumably one of the savant contributors to this blog can recommend exactly the rolling stock to use.
    Whether there will be the political will to find the money to link Palmdale (or Sylmar) with Bakersfield I have no idea but I’ll probably have ridden off into the sunset by then.

    synonymouse Reply:

    Paul, I suggest that Prop 1a would have to be seriously “revisited” to allow your vision to move forward. There would be no substantive hsr in our time, at least as far as Prop 1a enabled or promised.

    Paul Dyson Reply:

    On the contrary, all the construction proposed would conform with 1a.

    synonymouse Reply:

    The Palmdale deviation cannot meet the 2:40 proviso and the devolution to local commute priority voids statewide hsr service in our time.

    CAHSR = LAHSR

    De Leon is owning up to this truth, altho perhaps unconsciously. I ask the green visors amongst the posters to add up the costs of the hsr segment from roughly, say, Caliente to LAUS and compare it to the overall, what, $68bil figure. What is the fraction? one quarter, one third, one half?

    LA fully intends to sprawl that region and one way to discern it would be for the sharper eyes to examine PB’s plans looking for accommodation of future stations, ala BART. Tunnels would be hard for stations but the higher speeds make other destinations more desirable, like the BART Berkeley Hills tunnel making Concord and Walnut Creek sprawl central.

    Politically BARTifying LAHSR would be pretty easy. Just parcel out the money losing op and deed the southern section to LA. Of course you would create a dummy multi-county agency as a front.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    It can make 2:40. There I made an equally unsupported statement.
    People in LA pay state taxes just like people in Rohnert Park pay state taxes.

    synonymouse Reply:

    cannot

    neener neener neener

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    can

    Paul Dyson Reply:

    Hey girls, especially you syn. L.A. doesn’t give a damn about Palmdale, it’s trying to infill L.A. And where does Caliente come into this equation? The currently accepted route for HSR is via Palmdale, like it or not. If you build a High Speed capable electric railroad from Palmdale to Burbank and modernize the connections south of there to OC you have HS ready RoW. In the interim, while you are filling the gaps between there and SF you run regional service in appropriate equipment along that corridor. It provides useful transportation and at the same time keeps the CnT people happy. It also fulfills the criterion of usable segment, or whatever the terminology is. If nothing else ever gets built, well, it’s not the end of the world and the money isn’t wasted.

    synonymouse Reply:

    “currently accepted”

    I like that – very diplomatic.

    Ted Judah Reply:

    Judge Kenny is going to make this approach impossible. The standard to demonstrate availability of funding is going to be higher than what passes for legislative appropriations.

    The real reason the Senate is changing its mind. (Well more like reaffirmed their skepticism) is the consistent shift onto local sales taxes for more and more transportation funding. The Senate is worried that cap and trade funding will decline like tobacco taxes and there will be no money left but Measure R et al to get the tracks into Union Station and TransBay.

    I kind of like the idea though of De Leon rising to be the bête noire of Brown and the Northern California political apparatus. This could be a really entertaining couple of years…

    BruceMcF Reply:

    Wherein does the impossibility lie? Prop1A is written to allow an initial operating service that is not the length of all of Phase 1, so long as it can operate without public subsidy.

    The Prop1A legal question of whether it is satisfies Prop1A bond sale conditions if there is no secured funding in the Business Plan to establish the IOS only applies to the ICS & the Close the Gap segment. If those are completed, then it doesn’t apply to the Palmdale to Burbank segment, which permits the establishment of self-funding IOS operations.

    And if the legal question requires CnT funds to be used for state matches for the first two IOS segments rather than Prop1A funds, then clearly there will be Prop1A funds available for the third and final IOS segment.

    Clem Reply:

    A high-speed capable electric railroad from Palmdale to Burbank will set you back about ten billion dollars. I do like your idea of electrifying Sylmar – Anaheim and blending it just like the Caltrain corridor; that would cost closer to $1.5 billion (using the similarly sized Caltrain corridor for reference)

    Ted Judah Reply:

    Bruce,

    Read Streets and Highways Code Sec. 2704.4(b)(3) and Sec 2707.8(c). The law does not all funding the bookends without developing a funding plan for both SF to Fresno and Fresno to L.A. Even the current appropriation won’t work. Also, each usable segment has to have the funding available to use Prop 1a.

    If you don’t believe me, wait until the judge rules.

    synonymouse Reply:

    @ adirondacker

    can – with a rocket sled.

    JCC Reply:

    If De Leon is trying to make his mark with the bookends as you suggest, then you are both being naive. There are already bookend projects for both LA and the Bay Area. HSR has already spent much time and energy and has a contract to start in the Central Valley and ball has left the park. You and Clem may not agree, but the governor has the upper hand.

  17. JJJJ
    Jun 23rd, 2014 at 11:13
    #17

    Send senator.deleon@senate.ca.gov an email to let him know how insulting large parts of the state and trying to steal their much needed investment is a strategy we should expect from the GOP, not the democrat senate leader.

    Zorro Reply:

    I’ve sent a letter. Thanks for the link.

  18. Keith Saggers
    Jun 23rd, 2014 at 11:55
    #18

    Again, please do not allow politicians to get involved with planning CHSR or it will never get built.

  19. datacruncher
    Jun 23rd, 2014 at 12:52
    #19

    New lawsuit in Fresno challenges cap-and-trade money for high-speed rail

    A Bay Area group that is critical of using cap-and-trade money for California’s controversial high-speed rail project is suing the state Air Resources Board for including the proposed bullet-train among measures to reduce greenhouse gases in the state.

    The lawsuit was filed Monday in Fresno County Superior Court by Oakland attorney Stuart Flashman on behalf of Transportation Solutions Defense and Education Fund, or TRANSDEF. The San Rafael nonprofit weighs in on a range of transportation, land use and air quality issues in California.

    TRANSDEF contends in the suit that instead of reducing greenhouse gases including carbon dioxide, cement production for construction of the rail line “would result in significant increases in … emissions.” The suit contends that the Air Resources Board disregarded testimony presented by TRANSDEF and its president, David Schonbrunn, at public hearings last month before finalizing its approval of high-speed rail among projects qualifying for cap-and-trade money.

    More at:
    http://www.fresnobee.com/2014/06/23/3992439/new-lawsuit-in-fresno-challenges.html

    Keith Saggers Reply:

    The Air Resources Board’s approval was the basis for Gov. Jerry Brown and the Legislature agreeing to allocate $250 million in the 2014-15 budget for high-speed rail, and earmarking 25% of future cap-and-trade income each year for the bullet train — potentially $3 billion to $5 billion a year.

    “High-speed rail should not be shown … as a GHG emissions reduction measure,” Schonbrunn testified on May 22. “The claimed GHG emissions reductions are a very expensive fantasy: they depend on $30 billion of project funding that the (California High-Speed Rail Authority) doesn’t have and can’t get.”

    Read more here: http://www.fresnobee.com/2014/06/23/3992439/new-lawsuit-in-fresno-challenges.html#storylink=cpy

  20. Scramjett
    Jul 1st, 2014 at 12:46
    #20

    I’m coming in kind of late but here is my two cents, FWIW. My initial belief was that starting construction on the bookends sounded like a good idea. However, given that De Leon wants to divert the money to Union Station improvements that have nothing to do with the bullet trains, it gives me pause. After reading De Leon’s idea and perusing some of the comments here, it seems as if there is a general lack of understanding of what the purpose of public transit is or should be. Everyone is talking about it as if its some sort of commuter network, and this justifies the belief of those who think HSR should be killed in favor of public transit “commuter” projects for services like BART, Metrolink, ACE, Caltrain, etc. First, let’s be clear about something here. These public transit services and HSR are all meant to provide one thing; mobility. Not commuter alternatives, but mobility. That is, you should be able to use these services for all forms of trips, not just commuting (transportation planners and operators don’t understand this either). This is the problem facing HSR. The perception is that HSR is a commuter service for Bay Area and LA elites to travel between the Bay Area and LA. While that is part of its purpose, it is, by no means, the ONLY purpose. It is also meant to be a method of travel for people on business trips, people visiting family and friends, and relieve the massive grid-lock that I5 & 99 experience during the holidays (seriously, a normal trip to LA for me, with 2 stops, is about 6 hours, but during the holidays, its more like 8 – 10 hours or more!).

    I for one look forward to having HSR crisscrossing California, and even the entire country, so that I can see the parts of California and the US that you don’t get to see from a freeway (and really, you shouldn’t be checking out the scenery while you’re driving). Cars will still serve a purpose. I don’t expect there to be an HSR stop in Bodega Bay where we like to go camping, but there will be one in LA where our family lives.

    Finally, I will end with this last point. I understand and agree with the frustration Robert feels when we’re constantly presented with the false choice of choosing between HSR or local transit projects. If California is going to have a world class economy built on sustainable infrastructure, we need to have BOTH and power them with CLEAN energy.

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