Dan Richard’s Canonical Smackdown of Anti-HSR Talking Points

Jul 15th, 2014 | Posted by

James Fallows’s series at the Atlantic is really getting good. Chris Reed of U-T San Diego, a right-wing ideologue and a notorious opponent of HSR, called Fallows “clueless” about the bullet train. But Fallows has dealt with fools before, and wasn’t about to be intimidated by Reed. Fallows turned to California High Speed Rail Authority board chairman Dan Richard for a response, and it’s really damn good:

1. All the wonderful things the train allegedly does don’t matter if it can’t be paid for. There is at most $13 billion in state and federal funding for a project that has a price tag of $68 billion (a price tag that no one really believes is accurate). There is no prospect for further federal funding in an era in which discretionary domestic spending is being squeezed as never before. State funding of $250 million a year from fees from California’s nascent cap-and-trade pollution-rights market begins this budget cycle. But that is a pittance, and if they’re off the record, no state lawmaker will admit to wanting taxpayers to foot the entire bill. So why can’t the private sector come to the rescue? Because…

[Richard replies] Chris Reed’s funding analysis is simplistic and deeply flawed. First and foremost, virtually no project knows where all the funding is coming from at the outset. When we started BART to SFO, we were supposed to have $750 million in federal funding. We had virtually none for years and Sen. Dianne Feinstein and I walked out of Sen. Mark Hatfield’s office in 1994 with the first $25 million, which was a pittance. In the end, we received all $750 million and that was after Republicans took control of the Congress and 1994 and we were assured we wouldn’t get another dollar of federal monies. The California High-Speed Rail program has been held to a standard that no other program has had to face, which is to address calls for how the entire system will be funded, in advance. Nevertheless, here’s a broad outline:

• Cap and Trade dollars could provide billions for the project. The state talks of our allocation in terms of percentages because to speak of specific dollars would send signals to the carbon traders about what the expected the price of carbon credits. Still, the $250 million in first year funding is considered a modest amount compared to what future dollars would bring. Moreover, the cap and trade dollars, as more experience is gained, allow us to finance the construction of certain legs and build simultaneously, thereby reducing costs. Our $68 billion estimate includes inflation at 3% per year. Not only has inflation been below that amount, but for every year we cut off the construction time, we save about $1 billion dollars.

• Private Sector — Yes Virginia, there is strong private sector interest. People who talk about the lack of private sector involvement generally have no clue how the private sector works. Among other things, one should not want the private sector investment to occur at the outset, because the private sector prices risk and the risk would be highest then. However, our ridership estimates, which have been scrubbed by everyone from two independent peer review groups to the GAO, show that the system, as it is built out, will generate billions of dollars in excess of operating costs. Like the Japanese and other systems, our business model is to sell the rights to operate on our infrastructure to the private sector. We believe the NPV of the excess revenues will be between $12 billion for the initial operating segment and $20 billion for the line from LA to SF. At $20 billion, that would mean the private sector would be putting up about 1/3 of the system costs, doing that along the way to help us build out the full system.

• Development Potential — In Japan one-third of the revenues earned by Japan Rail East, one of the private sector operators of the Shinkensen comes from real estate development around the stations. We have not even begun to explore how to maximize that potential. In Arlington Virginia, station area planning resulted in such a dramatic explosion of mixed use development, generating such enormous property tax increments that the county was able to lower its other property taxes (source: Bob Dunphy, formerly with Urban Land Institute, now teaching at Georgetown). Senate President Darrell Steinberg proposed last year a bill that would allow for tax increment financing of any development within one mile of a high speed rail station. Sharing those tax increments with local communities would be appropriate, but we’d still be able to develop an enormous funding base.

• Use of the infrastructure — Again, we’re just beginning to look at maximization of the infrastructure we’d be building. Leasing the right-of-way (ROW) for fiber optic cable, as we did at BART, would generate significant revenues. Energy development in our ROW would be another money maker.

The point is that this is a long-term program. Our cap and trade funds are actually one of the more stable transportation funding mechanisms around (especially compared to the current situation of the Highway Trust Fund).

Finally, I do believe there will be additional federal support over time. Experience shows that to be the case, especially if legs of the system are up and running and it’s a matter of closing gaps, etc.

That’s just the first of seven epic smackdowns Richard delivers to Reed. Go read all seven, including Richard’s response on Prop 1A legality, the 2:40 travel time requirement, public and political support, and more. Bookmark it for future reference. It’s that good.

  1. jonathan
    Jul 15th, 2014 at 21:08

    Dan Richard is arguing on the basis of BART-to-SFO. As if it were a success. And citing other action at BART as a precedent. BART-to-SFO still loses money, At least if you’re honest, and acknowledge that the Colma station is NOT part of BART-to-SFO. Therefore Colma ridership cannot be counted toward BART-to-SFO revenue, Without that (bogus) ridership, BART-to-SFO is a failure.

    With a track record like that …. California HSR is doomed.

    Matthew F. Reply:

    I may well be missing some context, but it looks to me like Colma is included in the extension not to inflate the extension’s ridership estimates, but to deflate them: The EIR (so helpfully transcribed on Richard’s website catalog of Bart-Hate) noted that they believed many riders who would otherwise have boarded at Colma and Daly City would do so at a more southerly station once the extension was completed; thus, to measure the extension’s marginal ridership, you would want to look at the change between Colma alone, and Colma through SFO.

    Colma and Millbrae underperform the EIR the most, reaching 37% and 55% of projected 2010 ridership respectively. The other extension stations (San Bruno, South San Francisco, SFO) range from 73% to 84%; and Daily City outperformed by 50%.

    Matthew F. Reply:

    On topic, the only way in which he argued that the project is similar to Bart-to-SFO is that the project was started with partial funding. Unless you believe partial funding undermined Bart-to-SFO’s success (did it force the project to take shortcuts that undermined utility and therefore ridership? Please enumerate!), I don’t see how there would be any logical connection between the timeline of revenue and the project’s ability to meet ridership projections.

    Drunk Engineer Reply:

    In order to get the funding, BART lied about how much the SFO extension would actually cost. That meant better projects (such as Caltrain electrification, DTX) did not get built as a result. And the cost overruns blew a giant hole in Samtrans finances.

    So yeah, BART-SFO is a good comparison. But not in the way Richard would like.

    joe Reply:

    and I got a kidney stone!! Thanks Richards.

    “better” projects that lack advocacy and stakeholders to make them happen.

    BART-SFO didn’t stop Caltrain electrification.

    It’s taking the State and Gov’s office focused attention to electrify Caltrain. NIMBYs oppose improvements to grade crossings, additional gate down time, unsightly poles and electrification infrastructure and etc. Atherton wants Caltrain to run Tier 4 diesels.

    Richard Mlynarik Reply:

    BART-SFO didn’t stop Caltrain electrification.

    For twenty five or more years and counting, yes, it did, and is doing so to this day.

    One day you may perhaps make a comment that contains some glimmer or truth and/or logic. But today is not that day.

    joe Reply:

    It is BART-SFO and Richards’ fault.
    Well at least you stopped blaming Caltrain and haven’t wished anyone a fierily death.

    Maybe tomorrow you’ll regress to the mean. Today’s a good day.

    Matthew F. Reply:

    The assumption that every cost overrun is due to Machiavellian liars who are out to steal your money assumes a superhuman level of competence, whereby the planners know exactly how much a project is going to cost, but choose to conceal it in ways that nobody else will believe.

    Matthew F. Reply:

    Gah, I wish you could edit posts…

    “but choose to conceal it in ways nobody else is clever enough to spot, or that only project opponents will believe.”

    Alon Levy Reply:

    If it’s unintended, how come the mistakes are almost always in the same direction?

    Ted Judah Reply:

    Because obviously having BART sealed off from Silicon Valley for 25 years makes any more sense. CalTrain electrification is an idea rooted in nostalgia not reality.

    Joe Reply:

    25 years ago Caltrain was not that popular. Some Peninsula residents wanted to shut it down.

    I’m sure there was some interest in the system but not coordinated and not a priority with the local governments.

    flowmotion Reply:

    Political support for Caltrain still seems rather tepid, even with transportation problems faced by Peninsula employers.

    The political truth is that Caltrain has always been just a placeholder until “Ring The Bay” can happen. That pisses of the Drunk Engineer/Mlynarik types, but average Bay Area Person thinks Transit=BART and politicians follow that maxim.

    If you want to be actually critical of Richards, it wasn’t that he fucked over Caltrain. His major political screwup was fucking over SamTrans and condemning “Ring The Bay” to 20-30-40 years in the future.
    The big problem with Caltrain, *from a development perspective*, is that it serves the olde nostalgic main street areas. No real density can be built in those Peninsula downtowns due to NIMBYism. But, BART, on the other hand, could plop stations in the Hwy 101 Google-style office parks and they could build parking garages and “edge city” skyscrapers as tall as they want to.

    Yes Peninsula BART would be expensive as hell (very long subways), but it’s already been pre-decided that Caltrain can’t do the job. Even with electrification and grade-separation in the pipeline, eventually it will be BART and HSR only.

    jimsf Reply:

    bart around the bay is very likely. thats why they put a wye at the airport, not so they could run trains from milbrae but so trains coming up the peninsula could go directly into the aiport. Bart trains from sunnyvale mt view palo alto and san mateo would probably have higher ridership to the airport than the current line because its a shorter trip.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    Like someone who can afford the real estate prices on the Peninsula can’t afford a limo or even a taxicab. Or the parking rates at the airport.

    joe Reply:

    I guess that means there are no poor in Manhattan since the rents are so high.

    If you lived here you’d know there’s traffic issues getting to and form the airport and a direct line to the airport as jimsf propsoes would make the trip easier and more reliable – like the DCA Metro Blue and Yellow lines and under construction Silver Line IAD METRO Extension in WA DC.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    Poor people don’t go on many business trips and their idea of going on vacation is going to Coney Island.
    People in Manhattan, people who don’t own cars and use the subway so much that an unlimited metro card is a bargain take cabs to the airport. People in the suburbs who take the train into Manhattan for work everyday take cabs or pay the parking rates at the airport.

    flowmotion Reply:

    Once again adirondacker tries to be snarky while actually displaying his complete cluelessness and ends up sound like the giant ass he is.

    The commute down the Peninsula is as larger or larger than the commute up the Peninsula. The BART Wye has nothing to do with the supposedly wealthy residents getting to the airport and everything to do with the fact the Peninsula is one of the nation’s most important employment centers.

    Eric Reply:

    Sorry, but that’s ridiculous. Even if potential SFO ridership is larger from the south (questionable, since the north end feeds the whole BART system), it would be insane to have any significant fraction of SF-Peninsula trains diverted to SFO. Even “successful” airport extensions have low ridership, and every train entering SFO is one less train that can serve all of SF/East Bay or all of the Peninsula. It’s just not worth it.

    Ted Judah Reply:

    Actually that’s a very clever idea if you make SFO the hub of the BART system. I had never thought of it like this before, but that would relieve pressure on the tube if you had East Bay and South Bay riders arrive from the South. Plus, there’s Dumbarton too.

    I think we are going to need a bigger boat….

    joe Reply:

    The big problem with Caltrain, *from a development perspective*, is that it serves the olde nostalgic main street areas. No real density can be built in those Peninsula downtowns due to NIMBYism

    Given Mountain View 1991 to now that’s not correct. The city’s built a set of high density condos and town homes all near Caltrain and they tore down a old mill mall and put up town homes and condos and added the San Antonio Stop.

    The job growth outpaces the housing but the density near city centers/caltrain is going up.

    flowmotion Reply:

    Mountain View is the exception to the rule, and even then the low-scale “TOD” they are building is very minimal compared to the “edge city” towers which could be built by the freeway.

    Most of the other towns on the peninsula may never build something over 4 stories downtown.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    Where are all those edge city towers by the freeway that generate high transit ridership?

    flowmotion Reply:

    Like all BART extensions, ridership will probably not be “high”, but it will enable denser development (especially with the revised CEQA).

    Alon Levy Reply:

    Then look to places other than the Bay Area. In Washington, the transit-oriented edge city development was in densified town centers, or new town centers built from scratch. Freeway-running Metro lines do not have as much ridership and do not support as much TOD. Tysons Corner, the example you bring up elsewhere in the thread, is so auto-oriented that it has rush hour conditions at lunch break, as people have to drive to get food; it has recently tried to become better, concurrently with the construction of the Silver Line, but that has involved extensive sprawl repair, with new sidewalks, a new street network punching streets to resemble a grid, and a downgrade of the cloverleaf junctions.

    Similarly, in Vancouver, the transit-oriented edge city, Metrotown, is poorly-served by freeways.

    blankslate Reply:

    The sprinkling of development that in Downtown Mountain View is dwarfed by the massive amounts of office space that have been built north of 101 and within the 101/85/237 triangle, nowhere near Caltrain.

    Reality Check Reply:

    @flowmotion wrote:

    The big problem with Caltrain, *from a development perspective*, is that it serves the olde nostalgic main street areas. No real density can be built in those Peninsula downtowns due to NIMBYism.

    Wrong, take a look at this current map of downtown Redwood City construction projects. All are within quick & easy walking distance to Redwood City’s Caltrain/SamTrans station (midway between projects D & E on the map).

    flowmotion Reply:

    I don’t see anything like Tysons (Corner) in there?. Are a few squat buildings all it takes to impress you guys? There could be so much more.

    And like I said, MV only (because Google is begging for it). Most of the other Peninsula do not want any real development.

    Joey Reply:

    To be fair, you’re not going to get much transit ridership out of the office parks east of 101. The best you can do is provide easy bike/shuttle paths to existing employment and try to density around stations, however hard that fight might be. I won’t lie, it would probably be difficult to get anything substantial built in say, Burlingame or Menlo Park (in fact Menlo Park is willing to violate state law in order to avoid new housing), but places like Hillsdale and Millbrae have some room for redevelopment that wouldn’t piss too many people off.

    Jon Reply:

    San Jose Flea Market won’t generate much transit ridership either, but that hasn’t stopped BART from building a station there.

    BART may well plan to use the Caltrain ROW between Millbrae and Redwood City, because:

    a) those cities are less NIMBY than the cities south of Redwood City and might be more willing to have downtown BART stations. (Burlingame might be a challenge.)
    b) the ROW is less constrained, except for a 2 mile stretch through San Mateo, which they will tunnel through.
    c) there are fewer jobs in this area overall, and those do exist are either in downtown San Mateo or along 101, which is only about half a mile from the Caltrain ROW. So, there is less to be gained from carving out a new ROW along 101.

    From Redwood City there are two good routes to 101; one is to tunnel under Broadway, the other is to follow the Dumbarton spur.

    Joey Reply:

    What I meant is that the office parks are not designed to be served by transit – they’re all surrounded by parking moats in generally pedestrian-hostile areas. But you’re right that hasn’t ever stopped BART in the past.

    Neil Shea Reply:

    Jon, you’re talking like the *goal* is to build BART rather than the goal being to move people. Why would spend $Billions tunneling under an existing standard-gauge transit corridor that is already in place? Do you work for PB? Is there some free money somewhere that has no other possible use?

    Why would we not complete the grade separations and electrification on the existing corridor, increase capacity with cost-effective double-deck cars, express service and quad tracking, and use it flexibly for commuter and inter-city rail?

    What exactly is your goal?

    Neil Shea Reply:

    Joey — Many of the shuttles from office parks to Caltrain/transit centers work quite well (such as Oracle’s, serving 10k EE’s and the Belmont & San Carlos stations).

    Mountain View could extend the VTA light rail a couple miles out Stierlin and Shoreline and around the North Bayshore area including the Googleplex, probably for $100m. Or for that money you could extend BART a few hundred meters.

    Joey Reply:

    Joey — Many of the shuttles from office parks to Caltrain/transit centers work quite well (such as Oracle’s, serving 10k EE’s and the Belmont & San Carlos stations).

    Yes, but my point is that putting the stations closer (i.e. BART along 101) isn’t going to bring much more ridership since you still have the last mile problem in most cases, even if it’s a bit shorter.

    Jon Reply:

    Go got me. Yeah, I work for PB. Sure. Why not.

    (I’m not saying this would be the most cost effective way to move people around the peninsula. I’m just saying, this is probably what BART is planning.)

    joe Reply:

    Joey:”Burlingame or Menlo Park (in fact Menlo Park is willing to violate state law in order to avoid new housing),”

    joe Reply:

    Joey:”Burlingame or Menlo Park (in fact Menlo Park is willing to violate state law in order to avoid new housing),”

    Jon Reply:

    Yep, this is likely what BART has in mind. Their plans for the Santa Clara extension show at grade tail tracks running along the north/west side of the UP ROW to just past De La Cruz Blvd – they are even altering the De La Cruz bridge to make this possible. They could continue to follow the UP ROW up to US-101, follow US-101 north to East Palo Alto, then either continue on 101 or cut back to the Caltrain ROW by following the Dumbarton spur. Probably this would be preceded by a Caltrans US-101 rebuild project, where they will add lanes and leave a ROW for BART.

    This would avoid PAMPA NIMBYs while accessing the swathes of tech jobs along US-101. Google already own a quarter of Mountain View (pretty much everything north of 101) – the only direction for them to expand now is upwards. Mountain View doesn’t want any more housing built and has manage traffic impacts; a BART connection to the Googleplex would, in their mind, solve both of those problems.

    flowmotion Reply:

    I haven’t really looked into the specifics, but a route like you describe would make perfect sense, given the political landscape.

    Donk Reply:

    This sounds great. Google should throw down a few billion and pay for it.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    the only direction for them to expand now is upwards.


    they can expand outward nearly infinitely

    Jon Reply:

    If they want to retain the bulk of their operation in Mountain View – which it looks like they do – they will need to expand upwards. If they wanted to relocate to SF or NYC, they could have already done so.

    jonathan Reply:


    before posting this, did you stop and *think* how long it’ll take to travel from SFO, across the Bay, down to San Jose, and then back North to Mountain View (on this unfunded wet-dream BART-to-Mountain View)? Versus simply taking the white bus from San Francisco?

    Does BART have wifi? Duh.

    jimsf Reply:

    Its not so much about sf to mountain view but bart to santa clara and mountian view would serve people who live in the east bay and work in silcon valley. bart can run run livermore mountain view trains.

    Michael Reply:

    …because when people drive from Livermore to Mountain View they go 580, 880, 101?

    Clem Reply:

    BART around the bay is an idea rooted in myopia. The only way it will happen now is like this.

    jimsf Reply:

    well that would be fine they just have to adjust the tracks into the aiport and make sure , as with ebart in contra coast, that there is seamless connections and ticketing

    flowmotion Reply:

    Nice image, but sorry, I’ll bet on “Ring The Bay” coming in first.

    If any politicians wanted to take Caltrain seriously they would have figured it out long ago. :(

    Ted Judah Reply:

    The other harsh reality is that nothing happens without windfalls of tax revenue. Clem’s assertion of myopia is funny because that OTHER second-generation system was in a situation similar to BART a decade ago and now has a new line under construction in the last place anybody though it would get built.

    Washington DC fueled by spending on Iraq was the Bay Area of the 2000s, and ridership and demands on housing convinced people to invest in the Silver Line to Dulles. So too will Ring the Bay come, even if it takes a bit longer to approve.

    Neil Shea Reply:

    Nope. Unlike DC we don’t print money here. And even there they’re just connecting their big airport.

    It took an act of congress (many of them) with a lot of heavy lifting to get the Feds to pay most of the SFO extension, and that never met its projections. The Feds are not falling over themselves to help us complete the San Jose extension. BART’s at the end of its line folks. It’s a good thing.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    BWI is busier than Dulles or DCA.

    Neil Shea Reply:

    Clem is right of course. BART never did ring the Bay cuz of the many $Billions it would cost. The money to get a few miles to San Jose hasn’t even been found yet despite 3 tax increases. San Mateo county already burned it’s fingers.

    If the entire MTC Bay region wants to unify our transit management, with full proportional votes by Santa Clara, San Mateo, Sonoma, Marin, and Solano counties, then maybe we’ll decide to paint BART logos on whatever systems and cars make sense as we expand.

    But as much as BART met a need in the 1970’s, any rational look at current and future needs; available options; and cost-benefit will necessarily conclude that we’re moving beyond those cute, boxy ‘Indian gauge’ BART cars and tracks.

    Standards save money and provide flexibility. Standard gauge rolling stock allows joint procurement, double decker cars for increased capacity, restrooms for long trips across our large region, etc.

    Standard gauge rail allows rapid transit, commuter rail and intercity rail to share extremely limited corridor space, and allows express service.

    The BART system is already extremely imbalanced with the tube at capacity but distant hinterland extensions only lightly used. Further extensions cost roughly an order of magnitude more than a light rail line.

    If we unify the region, and adopt the BART logo, despite our hard-on for those old silver cars, someone will eventually look at all the needs one one hand and limited $$ resources on the other, and the Ring The Bay talk will be forgotten. Even BART barely proposes BART extensions any more — they know they need to focus on their core.

    Jon Reply:

    It does kinda amaze me that BART is still talking about a Livermore extension, even though the locals fought against a downtown BART station and voted against the Alameda county sales tax that would have funded it. Why are they still persisting? Why not just say,screw this, we’ve got other things we need to get done?

    Richard Mlynarik Reply:

    Pointless BART extensions are immensely rewarding. Just ask the people behind HSR to Los Banos and HSR to Palmdale. (Surprise! Same people!)

    It’s not BART-the-people-who-run-trains-through-SF that drives this stuff, you know.

    Neil Shea Reply:

    Richard knows full well that HSR is not going *to* Los Banos but he just continues to repeat this falsehood to amuse himself

    Jon Reply:

    Then who is driving it? Serious question.

    Neil Shea Reply:

    Richard is right that the transit industrial complex does reap rents with gold plated designs, and cost savings could be squeezed out if elected officials did their jobs. That’s true to some extent. But at the same time we badly need alternatives to driving everywhere, so Richard’s absolutism / perfectionism is not the answer.

    In San Jose’s case a large number of new residents and jobs are coming — and regional policy is directing a big share of the Bay Area’s growth there. San Jose is concentrating a lot of that growth in the North Bayshore area plus downtown. They want transit service. And of course they’ve also had a chip on their shoulder vs. SF and the stub of BART in Fremont was too tempting not to raise a randsom to try to extend it to their downtown.

    For Livermore, I think the era of BART wanting to make good on old promises to voters in the E Bay hinterlands is fading fast. Antioch accepted the offer of eBART. I think Livermore has forgone their extension and that’s OK, BART will focus on replacing all their cars and increasing capacity in their core.

    Ted Judah Reply:

    Who else?

    California’s whole fabric is based on building infrastructure to attract migrants who buy the property and pay off the money borrowed to build everything in the first place. Cheap gasoline made this seem fiendishly easy, but in the future we will need another way to achieve mobility an you can’t stretch light rail that far out and connect workers to jobs. You also can’t take that much freight capacity off the real railroads either for commuter trains.

    One Ring (the Bay) to rule them and in the darkness, bind them!

    joe Reply:

    Richards been pro-Livermore-Altamont to build a HSR system that services east bay commuters to the bay area (follow the lights) and connect HSR terminus to BART.

    Neil Shea Reply:

    Jon – I think you’re right, it will die on its own. Further extensions in the freeway median do not help BART address its core problems.

    But it amazes me that people on this blog who know better (eg Richard M, Clem) have (with a straight face?) discussed extending BART to a *greenfield* station *beyond* Livermore just to support their desired Altamont routing.

    Jon Reply:

    Indeed. Exurban BART extensions are a west of money! Um, except when they support our pet HSR alignment, in which case they are an essential component of a cost effective initial operating segment.

    jonathan Reply:

    BART to SFO was a waste of money; it’s still losing money (if you don’t lie about the accountin).

    BART to San Jose looks set to be equally a waste of money.

    Why do these things happen? Follow the money. I don’t buy Richard M’s worldview, but i you remove the vitriol, what’s left is a theory with explanatory and predictive power. Which projects get funded? The ones which will make the contractors the most profit. Who gets to advise on these options? Why, the usual suspects, the same group of ocntractors.

    I see only one way to break this cycle. The public agencies need to hire some good engineers, which means they need to pay competitive salaries And those engineers need to know, not about concrete bents, but how to run passenger rail efficiently. Like, for example, the way that Europeans do. Or for another, then Japanese. Sadly, that rules out *everyone* who’s worked with FRA-compabible rail, and most people who’ve worked with FTA-regulated light rail.

    That’s just a fact; US rail companies haven’t been interested in passengers since the 1950s. They’ve shed passenger service where they can; and forced “safety” costs away from their own freight operations, and onot subsidized passenger operations . Just look at FRA “crashworthiness” as an example: buys very little in terms of actual safety, but saves the freight rail operators from installing even early20th-century safety technology. (Indusi, Crocodile, PRR pulse-codes).

    As long as public agencies contract out all their engineering, we are doomed to paying 2x-3x world prices, and getting third-rate results. The contractors are civil engineers; the *first* solution that comes to their mind is pouring concrete., So you need to have someone overseeing them, who knows how to run a railway (note spelling). Work smarter, not harder. More efficient/smarter operations beats electronics; electronics beats concrete.

    jonathan Reply:

    nice photoshop. But why the obsession with double-deckers, and why (I think) Stadler?

    If you’re running consists that short, there’s no point running double-deckers ;)

    jonathan Reply:


    Welcome to reality. In the real world, BART fucked over San Mateo County and SamTrans by lying about BART-to-SFO. There is *no way* San mateo County will vote to join BART until everyone who remebers that is dead.

    So, if BART fan-boys want BART to ring the bay, the existing BART counties are going to have to buy a riight-of-way and pay for the construction.

    BART; talk about nostalgia!

    jimsf Reply:

    You wouldn’t have to wait for everyone to die. Most people now would likely rather have a direct bart connection to the rest of the bay instead of caltrain. They dont care about old history,

    Bart has other projects ahead of that though so it will be a while. They want to add more service to the urban core sections, complete the livermore extension, and the santa clara extesnion. The peninsula will likely be done one city at a time in increments. Milbrae to san mateo would be a likely cnoice as would santa clara to sunnyvale/mountain view.

    synonymouse Reply:

    The interests pimping this project could care less that it is “doomed”.

    jonathan Reply:

    The project appears to function well at transferring public funds to the usual suspects in the Transport-Industrial complex.

    Keith Saggers Reply:

    Talking of complexes, how the military/industrial complex doing these days?

    Jerry Reply:

    Or how is the Highway Trust Fund doing these days?

  2. Richard Mlynarik
    Jul 15th, 2014 at 21:23

    The real question is why isn’t Dan Richard hasn’t served time for his role in systematically defrauding the public of billions during his years of representing BART contractors, and BART contractors alone, during his tenure as a member and president of the BART board.

    PB luvs ya, Dan!

    Zorro Reply:

    Then if you think Dan Richards is so guilty, why don’t you call the police and swear out an arrest warrant? Or are you chicken Richard Mlynarik?

    synonymouse Reply:

    When you call the “police” you’ll get Dan Richards.

    Zorro Reply:

    Your statement is not surprising, but then you have rocks for brains Syno.

    Lewellan Reply:

    BART General Manager Grace Crunican ($315.000 salary, since 2011) as ODOT Director in 2000 was ‘fired’ for violations of ADA federal mandate and state code on the Ross Island Bridge surface/sidewalk/ballustrade rebuild project. She left the rebuilt sidewalks between fully developed neighborhoods unsafe and unused. Crunican landed the Seattle DOT position a year later and again displayed stunning incompetence and criminal manipulation of the Alaskan Way Viaduct replacement project process. Crunican was again similarly fired in 2009. Whatever has gone wrong with BART since she’s been there, she has something to do with it. In the Oregon and Seattle positions, Crunican displayed a malicious disregard for public safety.

    Keith Saggers Reply:


    Lewellan Reply:

    Writing from Portland, I cannot keep up to speed on Bay Area projects, including HSR, but Crunican has this long record of criminally abominable public service. I can only suspect that the BART board of directors knew she can raise hell and get away with it and hired her on that basis. I heard from one SF bicycling organization member that she’s just adorable, so I suspect she plays political favoritism with that least empowered constituency.

    Jos Callinet Reply:

    I think Grace’s surname should be revised to “CRONYcan” – she must have plenty of cronies helping her cover up and carry out all her shenanigans!

    How is it that Crunican – who’s left such a trail of malfeasance behind her wherever she’s gone – continues to find employment?

    Everyone must be casting a blind eye to Corruption!

    Lewellan Reply:

    Goverment agencies related to transportation are the worst, basicly. Most transit agencies have direct professional connections to State Highway & Municipal DOTs. This is cronyism, each scratching each other’s backs. Fuel oil suppliers, engineering firms, construction supply, machinery, financiers, developers, etc.

    Why do transit projects often fall short of expectations? A functional transit system reduces car sales, monthly premiums, insurance profits. Crunican manipulates outcomes (IMO) to make things go wrong; more costly, less effective, interminable years of planning/blather. I do not trust her because of her examples of work in Seattle as Sdot Chief. Her seawall replacement is substandard and vulnerable to earthquake damage. Her plan to reroute SR99 traffic through Queen Anne increases accident frequency and severity. She screwed up the Ross Island Bridge for pedestrians/bicyclists.

  3. Alon Levy
    Jul 15th, 2014 at 21:43

    Re development potential, in no place that I know of has it happened with a publicly-run system. In Japan, the private railroads and not JNR were the ones that pioneered the development-transportation symbiosis model; it was only after privatization that JR East could expand into real estate. In Hong Kong I forget the timeline, but the MTR’s investments into real estate either began or were greatly expanded after privatization.

    And re use of the ROW, “energy along the way” reminds me too much of the Solar Roadways scam.

    But I guess that smackdown isn’t epic. It’s only epic when you have the power to waste billions of dollars of other people’s money.

    Resident Reply:

    There IS refreshing breakthrough here in what Dan Richard says (finally)- which is precisely that the plan is to steal as much prime real estate up and down the state as possible, and profit wildly from redevelopment. Again, don’t worry y’alls pretty heads so much about the damn train, the train is a fig leaf for the real objective. Funding is for schmucks; “investors” will be beating down their doors as soon as the redevelopment handouts get properly underway.

    Matthew F. Reply:

    What a lovely conspiracy theory you’ve dreamed up there.

    flowmotion Reply:

    In this case, the conspiracy theorist is Dan Richards.

    CAHSR is simply not going to finance itself with redevelopment schemes or tax-increment districts, and it was silly for him to theorize that it would.

    Ted Judah Reply:

    They will try but the cities will beat back attempts to do that. If municipal corps were not so strong in California, it might actually work.

    William Reply:

    The development potential near the stations is the reason I prefer to have a public majority but privately run company operating CHSR, preserving some public influence while allowing the operating company to own and operate non-railway business.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    That’s indeed how JR East worked for a while, but that was on the way to full privatization. I don’t think the Japanese government would’ve let a company that was meant to stay state-owned do that – there’s too much potential for corruption.

  4. morris brown
    Jul 15th, 2014 at 21:52

    Robert ends his thread with:

    That’s just the first of seven epic smackdowns Richard delivers to Reed. Go read all seven, including Richard’s response on Prop 1A legality, the 2:40 travel time requirement, public and political support, and more. Bookmark it for future reference. It’s that good.

    Robert do you really believe your readers here have IQ’s below 80 and cannot for themselves understand this is all “bunk” that Richard spews here!

    Chris Reed in his analysis has it right. Dan Richard just continues to over and over again ignore the truth.

    We all should be tired of reading statements from Richard that contain the “I do believe there…..” clause. We are not interested in what Chair Richard believes will …eventually… happen. We are interested is what has happened, like the promise of private investment and much much more in Federal funding for the project never coming forth.

    joe Reply:

    Fresno’s supervisor Ms. Poochican gave a response for the IQ 60 and below opposition.

    Poochigian: “I’m very concerned that it’s not going to happen. And they’re going to ruin what we have, and as we’re feeding the rest of the world they’re taking away some of that opportunity. We do have a poor economy. Our area is one of the poorest. Would someone live here and maybe take a high speed rail train to San Francisco and work? Yeah maybe they would if they like 109 degree weather and 17 degrees in the winter. Maybe they would, there would be some. But I just have the concern that their job numbers are inflated.”

    Matthew F. Reply:

    It seems rather impolitic for an elected official to say “I think this project will under-deliver because this city sucks so much and everyone knows it”.

    I don’t really suppose anyone already accustomed to living in SF will migrate to the Central Valley to save on rent. But I do think it will help stem the bloodletting of the talented and intelligent individuals who grow up in Fresno and similar cities, who might choose to continue to live near their families while working in the major cities.

    joe Reply:

    I agree.

    There are Central Valley commuters from Tracy onward. Even the East Bay drops below freezing and hits 100+ routinely and people ride BART or drive over an hour each way to SF.

    Fresno will be 90 minutes from SF. Even if people don’t commute to SF, The City will attract people to Fresno for a easy day or weekend in the city.

    Observer Reply:

    Poochigian is not making any sense.

    synonymouse Reply:

    To the Cheerleaders nothing makes any sense unless it is “Hooray for Our Side”, to quote Buffalo Springfield.

    Observer Reply:

    Except when it really really does not make any sense. You misunderstand. Ms. Poochigian made a bad presentation – really. You can bet that in two weeks it will not be that way. Somebody will give her better talking points and what not. HSR supporters should be prepared.

    Paul Dyson Reply:

    Forestiere had it right about Fresno. Someone should be touting the subterranean opportunities around the Fresno station.

    joe Reply:

    Like WA DC’s Lefant Plaza.

    Jerry Reply:

    Good point re L’Enfant Plaza. (named after a designer/planner)
    Since the Plaza is a transportation crossroad, could the same approach work for downtown Stockton with two separate operating train stations?

    joe Reply:


    Also korea has a mall underneath a massive convention center. And it’s not over air-conditioned.

    It’s hotter in KR and the air quality’s much worse than the CV.
    I would hope Fresno puts enclosed spaces near the station for business meetings/conventions. It’s possible the CV cities will be good, affordable mid-way points for holding a day meeting or a convention.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    Fresno has higher summer temperatures than Seoul – hottest month average is 28.4 vs. 25.7.

    Not that it’s particularly important, but still.

    Jerry Reply:

    Many cities have covered pedestrian walkways/skyways that connect downtown locations, such as Minneapolis, which are air conditioned and rain/snow free. NYC has a very popular linear park (High Line) which uses an abandoned elevated railroad bed. They are all in downtown locations.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    ah but it’s dry heat in Fresno….

    Alon Levy Reply:

    The High Line is uncovered and has no climate control. New York in general doesn’t do walkways or skyways much; these are a lot more common in cities with worse weather, including Minneapolis (and Toronto, and Montreal), but also Singapore at the other end.

    datacruncher Reply:

    If I remember correctly, Fresno averages about 35 or 36 days per year over 100 degrees (about 1/3 to 1/2 the average number of days over 100 seen in Phoenix or Las Vegas). 10% of the year in Fresno being over 100 degrees sure generates a lot of talk.

    joe, Fresno’s existing convention center complex is about a 6 to 8 block walk from the station site. Other than meeting spaces in any new hotel construction, I see no reason they would duplicate an existing complex. But I also remember that in the late 60s/early 70s (before I-5 was finished) Fresno saw many meetings due to its midstate location. That could return with HSR.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    The High Line isn’t downtown either. Unless you mean it’s south of where you are.
    There’s a big transfer station down on Fulton Street that’s going to be connected to a mall and another train station and all of that is going to be connected to the Winter Garden. You used to be able to walk from 6th and 42nd to 31st and 8th without going outside. They’ve closed that. There are few other smaller ones like Rockefeller Center and Grand Central.

    joe Reply:

    Alon. Humidity in Seoul is higher which means it’s more difficult to cool off. The night min is a surrogate variable.

    @datacruncher I think Fresno will have to grow their convention capacity and probably modernize to win conventions. I’d do it with a conditioned connection to the HSR Station complex for those sweltering days.

    I don’t think a shuttle bus to existing facilities would be bad and part of the complex could take advantage of the outside just as the Moscone Center has under ground and above ground facilities.

    The proximity to LA and SF/SJ & Sac makes it a good candidate for low cost, easy access meeting and convention spaces – like Chicago is for the US.

    Travelers can Fly to SFO direct and in 70-90 minutes be at the facility.

    wu ming Reply:

    poo-choo-chicken elides the fact that tons of people live in the valley and commute to the bay area, both from the 580, 680 and 80 corridors. many commute by train. it gets 109 and 17 all the way from sac to stockton, but people live here all the same. what a local booster fail.

    of course, if the bay area actually built adequate housing stock close to the jobs, people wouldn’t need to drive or ride until they qualify, but that’s a whole nother clusterfuck.

  5. Mattie F.
    Jul 15th, 2014 at 23:02

    Our $68 billion estimate includes inflation at 3% per year. Not only has inflation been below that amount, but for every year we cut off the construction time, we save about $1 billion dollars.

    I think most people forget that the biggest component in the increase from the initial price estimate is due to the time value of money that results from stretching out the construction timeline. I’m glad he’s making the effort to point that out, and to put it in very simple terms to say, faster is cheaper. It’s certainly feels like a more broadly accessible explanation than “year of construction vs. constant year dollars”.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    If you do this in constant dollars, the price is $53 billion. The state’s still going to be massively short, even with raiding the cap-and-trade fund. To those of us who think in constant dollar terms, the numbers 98 and 68 were never important; 65 and 53 are bad enough.

    joe Reply:

    The state isn’t going to be massively short because that’s a reinvention of how infrastructure projects are paid for in the USA.

    It’s currently more soundly funded than the highway system. It’s not any more short than a typical CA home owner is massively short in having all th money on hand for their 30 year mortgage.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    It’s not a reinvention of anything. Initial partial funding, followed by a scramble to figure out additional funding sources later (often because of cost overruns), is par for the course in the US.

    Ted Judah Reply:

    There are still four more deep pockets to come forward: 1) Congress (not that this happens tomorrow but eventually), 2) pension funds, 3) HSR manufacturers and 4) sovereign wealth funds.

    A bigger impediment is making the IOS Fresno to LA for political reasons instead of SF to Fresno which could start producing serious revenue once San Jose and Fresno are linked up. Fresno to LA is still scary to investors because no one is certain who will use it. Still the State has enough cash to build enough of the system to reach a critical mass.

    Politics just might get in the way….

    Lewellan Reply:

    If I recall correctly, Prop1A promised voters a price tag of $42 billion for the entire line, including extensions to San Diego and Sacramento. The $98 billion revised estimate 3 years later was SF-to-LA and I’ve heard no estimate for the extensions since. To say the cost escalations are the fault of inflation just doesn’t sound right. I don’t believe it.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    The promised price tag was $33 billion in 2008 dollars for Anaheim-SF, and $42-45 billion (I forget which) for the full system. This rose to $65 billion for Anaheim-SF, again in 2008 dollars, and was then scaled down to $53 billion for LA-SF.

    Do not ever compare 2008 dollar figures with YOE dollar figures.

    Lewellan Reply:

    As I understand it, the $98 billion was reduced to $68 billion with the cost-cutting ‘blended’ system for the Peninsula and LA County. Snap, $30 billion less, just like that. Neither inflation nor the YOE dollars caused the cost overrun. More complete structural engineering raised the cost. The HSR authority should have presented voters a more realistic estimate. Voters approved the project with unrealistic cost estimates and no sense of the impact which raised objections and opposition.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    The $98 and $68 billion figures are YOE. The $42 billion figure for the entire system is in 2008 dollars.

    Lewellan Reply:

    We should provide backup links to verify our differing opinions.
    As I understand it, the $98 billion was capital cost, not YOE cost (based on inflation).
    It stands to reason, as the cost cutting ‘blended’ system reduced capital cost of construction.
    And, how could inflation alone raise cost from $42 to $98 billion?
    Therefore, until either of our positions is verified, I’m sticking with mine.
    I’m too busy with rail and highway projects further north.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    It’s in the 2012 and 2014 business plans.

    Also, the fact that you contrast “capital cost” and “YOE cost” makes you sound clueless. Capital costs can be constant-dollar or YOE.

    Lewellan Reply:

    I don’t believe you, Alon. The numbers on your first reply are way off.
    Provide me a direct link, and I’ll do the homework. Otherwise, your opinion will
    be taken with a grain of salt.

    Eric M Reply:

    Pot calling the kettle black?

    Here you go:


    Alon Levy Reply:

    No, the numbers are exactly correct, except that I misremembered and said $53 billion was in 2008 dollars whereas in fact it’s in 2011 dollars, and likewise $65 billion is in 2010 dollars. See Exhibit ES-5 on PDF-p. 23 here, and Exhibit ES-2 on PDF-p. 15 here. It is not an opinion. An opinion is “Lewellan is an ignoramus and a moron.” The statement that the official cost estimates are what I say they are in constant dollars is a fact that you didn’t know, or didn’t remember correctly.

    While we’re at it, go to Exhibit 3-2 on PDF-p. 68 of the second link, and look at the electrification costs.

    Lewellan Reply:

    Exibit 3.5: Year of Expenditure Cost Estimates, Incremental and Cumulative, shows the YOE cost for the IOS at $27.8B rising to $31.2B in 2022. Similarly, Phase 1, YOE $54.9B rising to $67.6B in 2022.

    Okay, that $67.6B is close enough to the Phase 1 estimate, but this document does not list pages as ES-2, ES-5 (with my system anyway), so I refer to Exihibit 3.5 in the Capital and Life Cycle Costs chapter. I asked for a direct link to the information requested. Your link is to the somewhat voluminous CHSR Authority business plan.

    It looks like you’re saying SF-Anaheim cost rose from $33B to $42-45B then rose to $65B and the shortened SF-LA segment reduced cost to $53B. I remember the $92B-$98B which became $68B with the blended bookends project-saving compromise.

    You’re stepping over the line calling me an ignoramus and a moron. That’s one good thing about internet forums: You can say it anonymously here. Say it to my face and you won’t like my reaction.
    Anyway, your “Do not ever compare 2008 dollar figures with YOE dollar figures,” epitomized your condescending asshole attitude. That’s my opinion. Don’t like it? Try being less condescending.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    PDF-p. XXX means it’s page XXX of the PDF. Put that number into the PDF file and you’ll see.

    What I’m saying is that SF-Anaheim went from 33 to 65. 42-45 was never the constant-dollar estimate of SF-Anaheim – that was the estimate for the full system, including extensions to San Diego and Sacramento.

    I know I condescend to you. In my defense, I’m right and you’re wrong, consistently, and you keep thinking I’m making things up. I’m not. I actually do know what I’m talking about here.

  6. Matthew F.
    Jul 16th, 2014 at 00:14

    The state talks of our allocation in terms of percentages because to speak of specific dollars would send signals to the carbon traders about what the expected the price of carbon credits

    That brings up the thought that one cannot securitize cap-and-trade revenues, as has been often suggested on this blog, without making exactly those sorts of speculations.

  7. agb5
    Jul 16th, 2014 at 02:10

    The project has now advanced to the point where it is “shovel ready”, so all that is required for more funding is an economic recession which provokes the government to invest in shovel ready infrastructure projects.
    Historically there has been an economic recession in the US every 4 to 6 years, so the next one is due to hit any time now, despite the mainstream media insistence that economic recovery is just around the corner.

    joe Reply:

    Such as this
    A word of caution about a tech bubble from Janet Yellen

  8. jimsf
    Jul 16th, 2014 at 08:33

    In spite of the many, bitter, “my way would have been better” folks on this blog, this system, as designed and up on full build out will become a vital part of californias future. As a core, but fully expandable system, future generations will rely on this as much as a new yorker relys on the subway. Its not what you want, but it will be incredibly useful for future generations as the state grows.

    so get over it.

    Lewellan Reply:

    Yes, the people who really really need to go from LA to San Francisco really fast already have their need for food, housing, health care, meaningful occupation and a luxury sedan already met.

    Zorro Reply:

    Get over it, HSR will be built.

  9. Keith Saggers
    Jul 16th, 2014 at 08:58

    Dan Richard was an elected member of the San Francisco Bay Area Rapid Transit District from 1992 to 2004, where he served twice as president of the Board. At the Bay Area Rapid Transit District, Richard led efforts to secure $4 billion in capital for system rehabilitation projects, the transit system’s expansion to the San Francisco Airport and seismic retrofit programs

    elected is an operative word here

    Keith Saggers Reply:

    For 12 years Dan Richard pulled the wool over all the voters eyes except Richard’s and Syn’s.

    Richard Mlynarik Reply:

    Astute observation, Keith! Did you cut and paste that from Wikipedia or from an agency press release?
    I believe you and all about the wool business, but I’m a stickler for the authority and finality of judgement that only cut and paste and bring.

  10. Larry Scheib
    Jul 16th, 2014 at 10:37

    With such astute followers how can Dan get this project wrong? With all the vetting and critical analysis I think the critics have only but made this a more viable and successfully implementable endeavor. Keep up the good work guys!

  11. jonathan
    Jul 16th, 2014 at 11:21

    One of Dan Richard’s comments, which Robert raves about:

    We are building a train that precisely meets the requirements of the bond act to be designed to achieve a 2 hour 40 minute travel time from LA to SF. That is true even though the 50 mile portion from San Jose to San Francisco will share tracks with Caltrain. You don’t have to take our word for it. The independent Legislative Peer Review Group looked at the planning and concluded that at present, our design would allow for that trip to occur in 2 hours and 32 minutes, well within the design parameters.

    That is a direct lie. The Independent Peer Review group concluded that SF-SJ *service* would take about 40 minutes. 40 minutes is not within Prop 1A’s required service time of 30 mimutes.

    joe Reply:

    It’s not a lie. You disagree in the interpretation of the requirement (and omit that the independent peer review group qualifies their findings).

    jonathan Reply:

    Joe, it *is* a lie. Even the simulations that PB did for CHSRA show that the “Blended” system *cannot* do SF-SJ in 30 minutes. They have to cheat, in 3 ways, to come close:

    * Exclude travel-time between 4th and King, and TBT. TBT is the defined terminus, not 4th and King.
    * NOT STOP at San Jose. (What kind of “service” doesn’t stop?)
    * Assume a viaduct into the San Jose station. No EIR for that viaduct. The viaduct isn’t part of Caltrain’s “Blended” system. Not funded. Not even on drawing boards. So time-savings from that viaduct cannot be included in SF-SJ service times.

    Looks like a lie to me. Of course, it may look different to someone who doesn’t grasp the difference between “minimum” and “maximum”; someone who insists the *service* time requirements of Prop 1A can be met by a special, one-time, police-blocking-all-the-grade-crossings, high-speed run.

    Eric M Reply:

    But the ultimate goal is a full build out with 4 tracks and grade separation all the way. That would produce travel times not in violation of Prop 1A.

    jonathan Reply:

    No, that is not the ultimate goal. Quad-tracking all of the Peninsula is illegal. The *OFFICIAL* statement is that the “Blended” plan *IS* full build-out. So go stuff your “ultimate goal”. Even the Authority has given up on that idea.

    Besides, quad-tracking doesn’t make much real difference to SF-SJ nonstop time. Adding tracks increases capacity; it doesn’t increase speed. To decrease SF-SJ time, you need to straighten out the bends and speed up the right-of-way. Check out Clem’s blog here:

    joe Reply:

    “No, that is not the ultimate goal. Quad-tracking all of the Peninsula is illegal.”

    Grossly misinformed.

    The expansion is legal and there’s actually a specific legislated process to approve Caltrain expansion.

    ” Though it stops short of codifying the blended alignment into law, it gives nine Bay Area agencies veto power over revisiting the four-track approach. The agencies include the Caltrain board of directors, the Santa Clara Valley Transportation Authority and the Metropolitan Transportation Commission.”

    Jerry Hill sponsored the Bill. http://sd13.senate.ca.gov/news/2013-09-06-governor-signs-senator-hill-s-bills-high-speed-rail-peninsula-protections-and-mounta

    The Bill specifically allows, with approval, an expansion. It does not limit the system to blended.

    jonathan Reply:

    SB 557limits the system to blended, UNLESS all nine partes to the MOU unanimously approve it.
    Any one of those parties has veto power over any expansion.

    And it remains a *fact* that CHSRA says the “Blended” plan *IS* full build-out of Phase 1.
    I agree, you are often grossly misinformed ;).

    joe Reply:

    You wrote expansion was Illegal.

    Quad-tracking all of the Peninsula is illegal.

    Not only is it legal, but they have a process to expand the ROW codified in Law.

    jonathan Reply:

    Only if they get unanimous approval from the nine parties to the MOU.
    I don’t see that anywhere. Do you? No unanimous agreement, no expansion.

    flowmotion Reply:

    This is a fun thing to worry about, because most of the people here will be retired or dead by the time it happens.

    Jon Reply:

    “Illegal” and “difficult to achieve” are not quite the same thing.

    agb5 Reply:

    They can start by quad tracking 49.9% of the peninsula, which keeps is a “predominantly two track system” as required.

    joe Reply:

    We’ve come a long way from ILLEGAL to it’s not only legal but there’s a legislated process in place to expand the ROW.

    No courtroom theatrics that HSR can’t expand the ROW to meet travel times – they can – the process is in place.

    As for expansion being difficult; NIMBY Anti-growth Meno Park had to approve ~2,000 new homes ASAP or housing advocates would sue to block the FaceBook expansion and withhold road funding.

    When the capacity is needed, they’ll put the screws to the thumbs and get unanimous approval.

    Eric M Reply:

    So it is legal. Maybe YOU should go stuff you “illegal” somewhere.

    Jon Reply:

    Your final point doesn’t make any sense. Yes, there is no EIR for that viaduct, and it’s not currently funded, but how does that make it any different from the rest of the HSR system?

    Preliminary engineering for the viaduct was performed as part of the canned SF – SJ EIR. They will pull out that work and use it to create an EIR for the viaduct when it becomes necessary to do so, which won’t be for another decade at least.

    joe Reply:

    It’s not a lie and the independent peer review has comments on the travel times and prop1a. if you’d address on the full scope of their comments then it might undermine your argument.

    Larry Scheib Reply:

    Dan Richard
    “Uh, no I didn’t add the word “nonstop.” It is in the bond measure. Section 2704.09 (b) “Maximum nonstop travel times for each corridor shall not exceed the following: (1) SF-Los Angeles Union Station: two hours, 40 minutes.”

    You folks keep mixing together apples and oranges. The law requires that the system “shall be designed to achieve…” That means the system has to be constructed so that it can accommodate high speed rail. In the near term we will improve local service, even on the upgraded tracks. In the long term, we will be running both non-stop and intermediate trains at 200+ mph.

    In the near term, there may be transfers. In the long term, the system is designed and our intention is to provide a one-seat ride the whole way.

    People are confusing what happens as with build the system with what the system will be once its built. It will be exactly what the bond measure requires – electric trains at 200 + mph. Some will be nonstop, some won’t. All will be more than competitive with airlines. “

    Jon Reply:

    Anyway, the SF – SJ travel time is fairly irrelevant at this point. Assume for a moment that someone successfully sues the authority because they spent Prop 1A money on SF – SJ but did not achieve the 30 min minimum travel time for that corridor. (This will likely occur only after SF – SJ is operational; the courts will likely believe the Authority’s claim that they will meet required travel times until hard evidence shows otherwise.)

    To comply with the law, the Authority will be required to create and implement a plan to reduce travel times to 30 mins, which will likely be achieved through grade separation and curve straightening. That’s going to upset the peninsula communities a lot more than it will upset the Authority; CAHSR and PB will be more than happy to spend further public funds in order to comply with the law.

    jonathan Reply:

    There’s already a lawsuit alleging that the Authority’s plan does not meet the time requirements of Prop 1A. And the Prop 1A requirements are for *service* times, not guaranteed-not-to-exceed, pedal-to-the-metal-all-the-way stunts.

    It’s a civil suit. The court will rule on the preponderance of evidence. And that evidence isn’t good for the Authority.

    Robert S. Allen Reply:

    Stop further spending on HSR to the Bay Area for now beyond San Jose. Provide nearly seamless transfers there to Caltrain, Capitol Corridor, VTA rail, and BART. Squander no more HSR money to electrify or extend Caltrain. Caltrain has too many grade crossings, too much public access to its trackway. Safety trumps a “one seat ride” for San Francisco HSR patrons.—

    Prop1-A (2008) bonds were for “Safe, Reliable” HSR. Even on 79 mph track (like Caltrain now), grade crossings would be vulnerable to accident, sabotage, even terrorist attack. CHSRA talks of raising that speed to 120 mph along Caltrain. Such “Blended Rail” would be NEITHER SAFE NOR RELIABLE. Insist that HSR be on secure, fenced, grade-separated track.

    Explore alternatives to “Blended Rail”. Much better, safer, more reliable, and less costly would be to up-grade the East Bay Amtrak/UP line from San Jose via Santa Clara, Mulford, and Oakland to Sacramento. From a transfer station at the BART overhead in Oakland, San Francisco’s downtown Embarcadero station is six minutes away with a train at least every four minutes.

    Robert S. Allen Reply:

    Stop further spending on HSR to the Bay Area for now beyond San Jose. Provide nearly seamless transfers there to Caltrain, Capitol Corridor, VTA rail, and BART. Squander no more HSR money to electrify or extend Caltrain. Caltrain has too many grade crossings, too much public access to its trackway. Safety trumps a “one seat ride” for San Francisco HSR patrons.—

    Prop 1-A (2008) bonds were for “Safe, Reliable” HSR. Even on 79 mph track (like Caltrain now), grade crossings would be vulnerable to accident, sabotage, even terrorist attack. CHSRA talks of raising that speed to 120 mph along Caltrain. Such “Blended Rail” would be NEITHER SAFE NOR RELIABLE. Insist that HSR be on secure, fenced, grade-separated track.—

    Explore alternatives to “Blended Rail”. Much better, safer, more reliable, and less costly would be to up-grade the East Bay Amtrak/UP line from San Jose via Santa Clara, Mulford, and Oakland to Sacramento. From a transfer station at the BART overhead in Oakland, San Francisco’s downtown Embarcadero station is six minutes away with a train at least every four minutes.

    Zorro Reply:

    HSR is supposed to be a ride on just HSR, no transfers to non HSR(Caltrain) at SJ to get to SF Robert.

    Zorro Reply:

    Grade crossings will be eliminated by putting in under passes, that is grade separated. HSR will travel up from SJ to SF via the peninsula, not go thru Oakland and/or Sacramento or anywhere else in the East Bay, since Pacheco is where design work is aimed at, not Altamont, as Altamont was rejected long ago for HSR.

    Eric Reply:

    “Pacheco is where design work is aimed at”

    Does CAHSR design work have positive value? Or do they finish their design work with a worse understanding of the project than when they began? I suspect the latter.

    Eric M Reply:

    Robert S. Allen,

    Please explain how going up the east bay with grade crossings is more safe than the peninsula?

    Jeff Carter Reply:

    Mr. Allen, you say you are not afraid of Caltrain… Then why do you advocate for annexing San Mateo and Santa Clara into the BART system? Why do you advocate for BART to eventually replace Caltrain?

    Since inception, the plan was to use all or part of the Caltrain ROW, and to provide upgrades to Caltrain. Same for the Metrolink line used to reach LAUS. Since inception the plan was a one-seat ride from SF to LA, once the system was completed.

    There is nothing stopping Caltrain from grade separations and fencing the ROW.

    What’s to stop accidents, sabotage, or terrorist attacks to the UP Mulford line or BART for that matter?

    As Clem, myself, and others have pointed out, BART is overcrowded (as is Caltrain in some cases); it makes no sense to dump more crowds onto BART.

    In Replacing Caltrain with BART, former Caltrain riders would have NO more express/ baby bullet service, NO monthly pass, NO service to ATT Park, NO service in the Bayshore corridor, fewer seats, less room for bikes…

    If Caltrain were run the way it should be run, it could provide frequent service at higher capacity than BART.

    Upgrading the UP/Mulford line and providing more frequent/useful (transit) ACE/Capital Corridor (or even Caltrain) service would take pressure off of BART, making BART more comfortable for BART customers.

    Caltrain and BART should complement each other. By having Caltrain run as a frequent electrified “transit” service, it provides an alternative to very costly BART extensions. BART could then focus on improving the existing core system to become the best it can be.

    Neil Shea Reply:

    Allen repeats his pretzel logic but seems to be making a case for additional investment of state, HSR and regional funds to accelerate building grade separations for the Caltrain corridor. Agreed, let’s give Californians a grade-separated, one-seat ride to SF.

    Thank goodness the Caltrain corridor uses standard gauge track that accommodates double deck cars with restrooms and can flexibly and safely be leveraged for both commuter and inter city rail.

    It’s good Mr. Allen now appreciates the benefit of standard gauge track, but it’s too bad he didn’t speak up when BART to San Jose was using up prime real estate with inflexible, non-standard rail. BART itself now promotes standard gauge eBART and tBART, but the schizophrenic habit of Caltrain hate is hard for some BART folks to quit.

    As a rapid rail system masquerading as commuter rail, BART has cost the region dearly, foreclosing use of key corridors for standard rail options, preventing express service, double decker cars, etc.

    Thank you for your service Mr. Allen but I think you can stop repeating yourself now. If this is hard you may want to find a 12 step program to help (you know, ‘apologize to those you have wronged’, etc.)

    Zorro Reply:

    No where in Prop1a does it say how many stops beyond LA to SF there is, nor how many times HSR has to meet this goal, Once would do.

  12. StevieB
    Jul 16th, 2014 at 13:05

    James Fallows of the Atlantic was on Valley Public Radio July 15 in a segment titled James Fallows: California’s High Speed Rail Plan Is ‘Better Than The Alternatives’. Fallows explains that after doing research for his series of Atlantic articles he is now more in support of the project and offers why.

    But it seems to me the most powerful argument is the dynamic one. That if California does not do this and there are another 10 or 15 million people there over the next generation, the other ways of dealing with the transportation problem, whether it’s more roads or just the cost of congestion or more airports or whatever, will be more destructive as far as I can tell than going ahead with the rail project.

  13. Reality Check
    Jul 16th, 2014 at 18:37

    Demolition continues in Fresno for state high-speed rail project

    Demolition crews with Fresno-based J. Kroeker Inc. are pushing ahead this week with their work to knock down and clear buildings that sit in the path of California’s high-speed rail line, even as lawsuits continue to cast a shadow over the future of the statewide train system.

    First to fall was an old bar, Annie’s Hollywood Inn, on Golden State Boulevard between McKinley and Olive avenues. A large excavator made short work of the demolition on Monday, reducing the former honky-tonk to rubble and splinters within 15 minutes. The long-closed bar became the first building demolished to make way for construction of the bullet-train system.

    By Wednesday, not even rubble was left on the site — only a patch of dirt amid a row of rundown motels that long ago saw their better days. The heavy equipment had moved on to nearby McKinley Avenue just east of Golden State, where three small houses were cleared.


    Keav “Kay” Lim and Ken Chea expressed disappointment with the value that appraisers for the California High-Speed Rail Authority offered then for their restaurant. They said they thought it would take between $300,000 and $500,000 to be able to relocate at a new site, but chose to accept $160,000 for the property and the business rather than prolong what they thought was inevitable.


    Katch Environmental is certified as a disabled-veteran owned company. Katchadourian said the contract will keep his company and its employees busy for about four years.

    “About 85% to 90% of the people I hire are from CalWorks,” he said. “This high-speed rail contract has allowed me to hire 25 people who didn’t have a job before. Now they have a steady job to feed their families.”

  14. Reality Check
    Jul 16th, 2014 at 18:42

    Fresno Supervisors reject Poochigian call to renounce high-speed rail

    A local attack on the California high-speed rail program fizzled in Fresno. An effort to get the Fresno County Board of Supervisors to renounce their support for the project died. It was backed by just one supervisor.

    The Fresno County Board of Supervisors meeting heard familiar arguments both for and against the Californian High-Speed Rail project.


    The discussion and debate went on for more than four hours. Finally, three supervisors, Phil Larson, Judith Case McNairy, and Henry Perea indicated they wanted to save all this talk for another day. But Poochigian did not want to stop.


    In the end, Poochigian made a motion to renounce the boards previous support for high-speed rail, but nobody went along with it. Instead they agreed to resume talking about high-speed rail in a couple of weeks and perhaps introduce additional resolutions.

    morris brown Reply:

    @Reality Check (and others)

    This ABC30 report of the Supervisors meeting is a classic case of lousy, and miss-leading reporting.

    What actually happened was the Supervisors decided to not take action yesterday, but put off any action on the resolution until the next board meeting, set for July 29th.

    Tim Sheehan has written an accurate article :

    see: http://www.fresnobee.com/2014/07/15/4025872/fresno-county-supervisors-make.html

    with the headline:

    Fresno County supervisors make no decision on opposing high-speed rail

    or this article in the business journal:


    Joe Reply:

    They rejected her call to vote against HSR. They didn’t vote. She failed.
    She wants to drag it on.

    joe Reply:

    Sounded apinful

    Following about four hours of discussion, including more than two hours of comment from 36 speakers, Supervisor Debbie Poochigian urged her board colleagues to ask the county’s staff to prepare a resolution opposing the statewide bullet-train plan. But her motion died without a second from any of the other supervisors.

    Instead, a visibly frustrated Poochigian — who wrote the proposed opposition resolution — found herself on the losing end of a 4-1 vote to extend the debate to the board’s July 29 meeting. “We have been working on this seven years, so I don’t know what more information we can get or what questions we can answer,” Poochigian said

    The extension of debate was a consequence of her losing a 4-1 vote to continue the debate and get a second on her dead-end resolution.

    Mac Reply:

    I noticed that Morales stated twice in that meeting that the HSR project would generate
    450,000 Permanent Jobs . Where is he pulling this number from? It doesn’t match up to any of the data calculation/reports I’ve seen…… Anyone?

    joe Reply:


    If it were only 100,000 jobs the NO Vote would be just as dumb for Fresno. I guess that’s why no one wanted to second the motion to draft the Resolution.

    Mac Reply:

    The fact is that it appears that Morales is misrepresenting the jobs information. The HSRA knows that JOBS is the mantra that seems to be effective in the Valley to draw support. These numbers have been refuted in the past…yet here he comes up with them again. Sort of getting tired of the lies.

    Keith Saggers Reply:

    Estimated by CHSRA in the formal 2012 business plan “Construction of the rail is expected to generate up to 100,000 construction-related jobs every year the system is under construction, and as many as 450,000 permanent jobs once the rail is completed,” noted the proposal

    Mac Reply:

    Keith…the plan addresses the 100,000 as job years…remember that? Also…they throw this 450,000 permanent jobs number around….but they don’t show how they ended up with that calculation. They don’t state what they are counting. Are they taking credit for the job numbers of any new business that is built within 10 miles of the alignment from now until 2035? Doe anyone have a link that shows how they came up with the 450,000…..and is this “job years” yet again?

    Keith Saggers Reply:

    Hi Mac

    Yes I also have a problem with the job years formula,

    Mac Reply:

    Would you say that they are referring to 450,000 “job years” in the 2012 Business Plan then?

  15. Reality Check
    Jul 16th, 2014 at 18:55

    Why are California lawmakers worried about increased fuel costs?

    Concern about rising fuel costs spurred 16 Democratic Assembly members to send a letter to CARB Chairman Mary Nichols asking her to delay, or redesign, the program for greenhouse gas emissions.

    “We request that you delay expanding the cap-and-trade program to cover transportation fuels or at least change the program so that it does not unnecessarily increase fuel costs in order to generate revenue for the state,” the letter states.

    Assemblyman Henry Perea, D-Fresno, said the program was created to limit greenhouse gas emissions, not generate revenue for the state.

    “This new revenue comes out of the pockets of hard working Californians,” Perea said in a news release. “The Legislature did not ask for the cap-and-trade program to work this way.”

    Assemblywoman Cheryl Brown, D-San Bernardino noted the negative effect higher fuel prices would have on Californians who rely on their vehicles on a daily basis. She is asking the governor to delay implementation because of the effect it would have on truck drivers trying to do business in the state.

    “We also have a significant trucking sector, which is vital to the health of our economy,” Brown stated.


    Republicans at the statehouse are also trying to draw attention to the issue.

    Sen. Mike Morrell, R-Rancho Cucamonga, said the worst part of the mandate is that none of money from this “new hidden tax” would be used to improve roadways. Instead, the money would be earmarked for such projects as a high-speed rail sought by Gov. Jerry Brown.

  16. jimsf
    Jul 16th, 2014 at 20:53

    OT new muni light rail cars from Siemens

    jimsf Reply:

    ……..Previous deal soured

    When Muni bought its current fleet of light-rail cars from Italian manufacturer Breda in 1996, Haley said, it didn’t buy enough cars and tinkered too much with customizing the design. Its reliability requirements also were too lax and it didn’t take maintenance costs into account.

    “We tried to learn the lessons from the previous procurement,” he said.

    So the MTA plans to buy more rail cars this time, let the manufacturer handle most of the design, require better performance from the vehicles and consider the costs and time requirements of maintenance.

    The new cars will be more modern but in some ways less complicated. The problematic doors on the current Metro cars have 200 parts; the new ones will have fewer than 20…..

    jimsf Reply:

    The problematic doors on the current Metro cars have 200 parts; the new ones will have fewer than 20. But the new cars will also have black boxes that will help Muni determine the causes of accidents. Transform the system An enthusiastic Haley said the MTA has been struggling to improve Metro service, and making slow incremental progress. The new cars, he said, will transform the system.

    “These new cars will make this the best light-rail system in the country,” he said.

    The board also approved a $3.55-per-stop fee for corporate shuttles using Muni stops. That’s an increase from the $1 per stop adopted when the agency approved the 18-month test program in January. The fee covers only the costs of administering the program, and applications for the program have fallen short of the number anticipated.

  17. jimsf
    Jul 16th, 2014 at 21:28

    also OT but when will billionaires realize they can’t screw with california.

    six statesmy ass
    get real. how would that solve the water issue. Will the rain be happier to fall upon a divided california?

    More business friendly? right trying do business in the west while dealing with six californias instead of one. yeh thatll make things sooooo easy.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    Yes it’s just awful the way New England is turning into a ghost town because it’s so difficult to deal with multiple states. Or New York City with it’s metro area spread out over four.

    joe Reply:

    It is awful. I remember when NY had waaay more electoral votes than CA.

    Why Visalia Ca would be the 6th largest city in NY.

    Reality Check Reply:

    Investor’s Plan to Split California Would Create Poorest State in USA

    Silicon Valley’s per capita personal income (PCPI) — $63,288 — currently would rank as the highest among U.S. states ($3,600 above Connecticut, but still below the District of Columbia)


    Central California’s PCPI would rank last among all U.S. states (about $150 below Mississippi).

    Joe Reply:

    And Silion Valley would be one of the drier states.

    Hetch Hetchy and the pipe carrying Silicon Valley water would belong to a different state and they’d charge for it or just reroute it to local Ag.

    This initiative exists because some political consultants wanted a billionaire to give them money. They got paid to put his pet rock on the ballot.

    Zorro Reply:

    Agreed Jimsf, 6 California’s would be pathetic, but then this tripe of a ballot measure was written up by a Silicon Valley Millionaire by the name of Tim Draper. I’m voting NO on this drek should I see it on My ballot and I’m encouraging others to do the same, unless they’re crazy, 1 California is way more powerful, than 5 mini California’s would ever be.

    United we stand, Divided we fall.

    Article XI of the California Constitution is amended to add section 4.5 to read:
    Sec. 4.5(a) Upon enactment of this section, it shall be competent in any county charter to provide
    that the county governed thereunder may make and enforce all ordinances and regulations in
    respect to municipal affairs, subject only to restrictions and limitations provided in their several
    charters and in respect to other matters they shall be subject to general laws. County charters
    adopted pursuant to this Constitution shall supersede any existing charter, and with respect to
    municipal affairs shall supersede all laws inconsistent therewith.
    (b) A county charter may provide for the delegation of authority in respect to municipal affairs,
    by way of compact, or other agreement, to a regional association of counties, consisting of the
    other counties within the boundaries of the new states provided for in section 2.5 of Article II [sic],
    during the interim period of time before Congressional approval of the new states.
    (c) For purposes of this section, any law intended by the Legislature to be a general law or matter
    of statewide concern that supersedes the authority of a county over its municipal affairs and also
    requires an annual subvention of funds to reimburse the county for the costs of the program or
    service pursuant to section 6 of Article XIIIB, shall require an annual transfer of funds from the
    state treasury to a county treasury, as needed, and in the absence of such reimbursement, the
    county shall have no obligation to enforce the law. The state shall have no power to incur debt
    owed to a county pursuant to this subdivision.

    [End of Section 4.]

    Of course, he has a fatal typo above; it refers to “the new states provided for in section 2.5 of Article II” but Article II Section 2.5 of the Constitution just says “A voter who casts a vote in an election in accordance with the laws of this State shall have that vote counted.” He probably meant to refer to his new Section 2 of Article III but made a drafting error.

    This came from a poster on Calitics.

    Zorro Reply:

    5 should be 6.

  18. John Burrows
    Jul 16th, 2014 at 22:39

    Concerning Chris Reid’s seven point argument against HSR in California:

    His fifth point begins—“The public no longer backs the project. It won narrowly in 2008. Now polls show nearly 2/3 of voters are opposed.” The Field poll which Reid is quoting actually shows 59% of voters were opposed, (considerably less than 2/3).

    But there is something else that is interesting about this poll—The results were published in early December 2011, nearly 3 years ago. California and Californians have changed a lot since then, and we only need to look at another Field Poll to get a sense of what has happened.

    The Field Poll does an “Annual Assessment of Economic Well Being of Californians”. If we compare the results from the 2011 poll with the results from the 2014 poll:

    In 2011—91% of those polled thought that “bad times” best described the California economy, 4% rated the economy as in-between, and only 5% thought California was enjoying “good times”.
    The 2014 results are dramatically different—53% think that times are bad, 22% in between, and 25% that times are good .

    To the question “Are you better off, the same, or worse off now than you were a year ago” the results are also dramatically different.

    In 2011—22% said better off, 28% said no change, and 50% said worse off.
    In 2014—44% said better—28% no change—and 28% thought they were worse off.
    In three years a huge 22 point shift, and in fact the 44% of Californians saying that they are better off is the highest number since 2001.

    The California of 2011 where Mr.Reid appears to be dwelling was a pretty bummed out place. The California of 2014—Not so much. If this Field Poll is right, then in only three years there has been a dramatic change in how we view our future and in how we view the future of our state. My guess is that in the last three years there has also been a change, possibly a big change in how Californians view high speed rail. The results of the next Field poll on HSR in California will be interesting.

  19. Keith Saggers
    Jul 17th, 2014 at 11:45
  20. Roger Christensen
    Jul 17th, 2014 at 11:50

    Interesting to note the a proposed Metro study on this month’s agenda to look at converting the Orange Line to rail and extending it to Pasadena has a specific component of connecting NoHo to Bob Hope Airport either by Red or Orange Line. No funding but it could surface on the Long Range Plan or even on the 2016 ballot.

    Richard Mlynarik Reply:


    Richard Mlynarik Reply:

    Oops. WordPress fail. Supposed to be a reply to Saggers’ terribly apropos link contribution.

  21. morris brown
    Jul 17th, 2014 at 14:48

    NY Times:


    Political Duel for California Governor Spans Nation


    (regarding HSR)

    And Democrats said that as long as Mr. Brown remained strongly for the rail project, there was only so much Mr. McCarthy could do. “I don’t believe he is in a position to block the train,” said Representative Karen Bass, a Democrat from California who served with Mr. McCarthy in the Assembly.

    In June, Mr. Brown moved to circumvent Mr. McCarthy with a state budget agreement that used $250 million in cap-and-trade fees on the energy industry to fund the eventual high-speed rail. Mr. McCarthy denounced Mr. Brown with a blistering post on his Facebook page for trying to “prop up California’s unworkable high-speed rail project.”

    Mr. McCarthy said Mr. Brown brings up the train whenever they meet. “Every time he comes back, the facts get stronger on my side,” he said. “The governor should focus his time on water, infrastructure, highways.” …..

    (from McCarthy’s Facebook page as mentioned…
    Kevin McCarthy
    June 13 ·

    Unfortunately yesterday Gov. Jerry Brown and his allies are still attempting to salvage and prop up California’s unworkable high-speed rail project that our state cannot afford. I am strongly opposed to California’s high speed rail boondoggle. I will continue to do whatever I can as long as I am in Congress to stop any future federal funds from going to this project.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    High speed rail is infrastructure. One of the ways to focus on highways is to reduce demand for them by intercity travelers who can use high speed rail instead.

    Alan Reply:

    In other words, McCarthy is saying, “I will continue to do whatever I can to protect my friends, the Koch brothers and the oil interests, who continue to provide plenty of dark money to keep me in office, and to hell with the people I represent.”

    joe Reply:

    NYTimes AdNags is typically awful. It’s about a political duel – that’s his lede.

    Also Recall the NYTimes ran a HSR article about the train to nowhere and forgot to put Fresno on their map.
    They are that dumb. http://fresnobeehive.com/archives/9977

    I don’t think of myself as one of those folks who takes offense at every Fresno slight or omission. But when the New York Times does a piece on the first phase of California’s high-speed rail project and doesn’t even mention Fresno — and even leaves it off the locator map! — it seems like something is missing.

    joe Reply:

    Here’s the NYTimes describing the Bakersfield to frenso section

    Under a plan approved in early December, the inaugural stretch of the multispurred 800-mile system will eventually connect San Francisco, Los Angeles, San Diego and Sacramento and other major California cities and will run through the state’s farm-rich Central Valley.

    Federal and state authorities have committed some $5.5 billion to the first leg of the project, which will connect Bakersfield, the valley’s southern hub, and the unincorporated area south of Madera. [Borden]

    No Fresno because the propaganda says the train goes no where and the buffoons who did this at the NYTimes don’t know basic CA geography or the HSR system and are to lazy to fact check.

  22. Scramjett
    Jul 17th, 2014 at 14:50

    I think I need to read the HSR blog more often. Every time I read one of their stories, I feel more optimistic about HSR and even more optimistic that it might actually get built out BEFORE my kids grow up. Now if Sacramento Regional Transit can get that bloody Green Line to the airport built sooner than 2035…

    Scramjett Reply:

    As an addendum to my own comment…I would like to see California push for, on the national level, HSR connections back east using their own HSR network as an example. I’d also like to see HSFR (high speed freight rail) built out alongside HSR networks. In my mind, there is absolutely no reason why these could not be accomplished before I retire (around 2035), if not sooner.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    There aren’t enough people between the cities along I-35 and the cities along I-5 to be building HSR between them. The freight doesn’t care if it takes four days to get cross country instead of five. That’s too slow for people who can fly in airplanes to the places they want to go.

    Scramjett Reply:

    As I said, it is what I would like to see. Never said it would happen. And it’s too bad that it won’t.

    As for high speed freight, a few years ago, I read a piece that made the case for high speed freight rail. Such investments would reduce bottlenecks on existing freight lines and allow for reduced travel times on non-HSR passenger trains. It would also be less expensive than flying it across country or driving it via long haul trucking. Fright does care how long it takes, you know, the old adage “time is money.” The trucking lobby might take issue with it though.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    Freight rail is already cheaper than all alternatives except ocean shipping. That’s why in the US it carries the low-value, cost-sensitive goods, like coal, while trucking carries the higher-value, time-sensitive ones. To compete with trucking you’d have to make the cost differential far larger.

    Conversely, flying long distances is cheaper than you think. For example, the current average airfare from New York to Los Angeles is $350 one-way, which is $0.087 per kilometer. Intercity rail fares are on average 50-200% higher, depending on the country. The effect of a carbon tax depends on what counts; average CO2 emissions from NY to LA are 714 kg per passenger, which means that at $500 per ton it’s only somewhat more expensive than European intercity rail and massively faster, though the radiative forcing effect of CO2 is higher at higher altitudes, plus there are other greenhouse gases like ozone.

    Trentbridge Reply:

    And most of the trailerload/container cargo moves inland from Los Angeles in double-stack trains and is then delivered by truck at the destination.

    From Progressive Railroading:

    For the second-straight week, U.S. railroads set an intermodal volume record. They logged 272,553 containers and trailers in the week ending June 21, besting the high-water mark they set the week before, according to the Association of American Railroads.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    Filled with cheap stuff that can take five days to get to Chicago. Moving the cheap stuff to Chicago faster doesn’t make the train trip from Denver to Chicago fast enough to make people want to take the train. Move the passenger train at full fledged HSR speeds you can’t share tracks with freight for very long, even fast moving freight and it still isn’t fast enough to make people want to take the train instead of flying.

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