What Happened When an HSR Supporter Went to the Central Valley?

Jul 9th, 2014 | Posted by

James Fallows is a nationally prominent writer for The Atlantic. He’s also a fan of high speed rail, having gotten to know it well when living in China. Last year, when writing about Governor Jerry Brown, Fallows mentioned Brown’s work on HSR and his own support of the project.

Fallows didn’t leave it there. In the last year he’s been doing a lot of research into high speed rail, including several trips to the Central Valley. So what was the result?

I’ll let Fallows tell you in his own words:

As I’ve read and interviewed over the past year, including on reporting trips to California’s Central Valley, I’ve become more strongly in favor of the plan, and supportive of the Brown Administration’s determination to stick with it. In installments to come I’ll spell out further pros and cons of the effort, and why the pros seem more compelling.

Unlike many California-based reporters, Fallows has plenty of experience with HSR, and therefore he’s not inclined to see it as some exotic weird thing but as a normal piece of modern infrastructure. Instead he looks at the evidence and discovers, lo and behold, it’s an even better idea than he thought:

For the meantime, here are three analyses worth a serious read:

• An economic impact analysis prepared by the Parsons Brinckerhoff firm for the High-Speed Rail Authority two years ago, which looked into likely effects on regional development, sprawl, commuting times, pollution, and so on.

An analysis by law school teams from UCLA and Berkeley, which concentrated on the project’s effects in the poorest and most polluted part of the state, the central San Joaquin Valley.

• A benefit-cost analysis by Cambridge Systematics, of the “net present value” of a California high-speed rail system. (NPV is a standard way of comparing long-term costs and benefits.) It had charts like these on the likely longer-term benefits of the project, and said that the costs would be significantly less.

Fallows’ post also includes several maps, many of which emphasize the importance of reducing air pollution in the Central Valley. That’s a point this blog has made often and I’m glad to see it getting a broader audience.

And best of all, this is just the first installment in a series Fallows and The Atlantic are rolling out on California high speed rail. So look for more in depth discussion of the project there. I’m glad that they’re covering this, and bringing some light where we’ve sorely needed it.

  1. JCC
    Jul 9th, 2014 at 15:43
    #1

    Their is certain demographic that will not read this.

    The right wing, tea baggers, and their associates will roll their eyes at any attempt to discuss the importance of this project and then they will shake a finger at you and scream in fury to the heavens and yell most vigorously a sustained and emphatic “NO”.

    joe Reply:

    Yes that’s right.. And you recognize there is no rational way to negotiate.

    They’re thankfully sub 30% of the Californian electorate.

    Ted Judah Reply:

    Based on the recent primary election turnout, that group is a much larger share of the electorate than 30%…even based on population they shouldn’t be.

    Zorro Reply:

    Sad, but true, but still they aren’t large enough to be a real threat, most are old and dying off, day by day.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    yeah well California has open primaries and people who aren’t going to vote for the bat shit insane candidate in the general election can show up and vote for the bat shit insane candidate in the primary.

    BruceMcF Reply:

    You always have a substantial chunk of missing middle in a primary electorate. Sub 30% of the general electorate and over 30% of the primary electorate can both be true in the same election year.

  2. Amanda in the South Bay
    Jul 9th, 2014 at 17:24
    #2

    • An economic impact analysis prepared by the Parsons Brinckerhoff firm for the High-Speed Rail Authority two years ago, which looked into likely effects on regional development, sprawl, commuting times, pollution, and so on.

    You know there’s going to be a bunch of us technicals who are going to mock this.

    Joe Reply:

    And when people self label as technicals it means they literally care less about the people impact because f=ma.

    EJ Reply:

    Yeah because screw science and engineering.

    joe Reply:

    Which have nothing to do with people. A ME & Science Ph.D. have nothing to do with people or policy.

    I suppose being a “technical” means solutions are better because it can ignore things like obtaining support and funding. That’s why most superior technical solutions start with Prop1 and ARRA funding and offer wiser ways to spend the money.

    Joey Reply:

    We need both politicals and technicals. The technicals tend to be grumpier because thus far the decision-making process has been almost exclusively political – technical aspects have been ignored when in reality they need to be weighed against political considerations.

    joe Reply:

    When you say technical aspects are ignored and that decisions are exclusively political you are making a grossly biased argument.

    First accept there isn’t any restriction against technical solutions or technical biased politicians from using pure technical considerations.

    Second the technical excuse too often is that people are stupid and irrational.

    Amanda in the South Bay Reply:

    Or that people who emphasize the politics themselves have made myopic and poor decisions. But what do I know, all us technicals are are autistic fatties who live in our mom’s basements and hack away on our Linux servers.

    joe Reply:

    If a politician uses technical criteria and makes a decision is political by definition.

    Winning grants is political, getting resources for technical work is political. Meeting the sponsor’s requirements once awarded is part of the project. Building a “superior product” that is not in line with what was decided is fail.

    “Myopic and poor decisions” is often an excuse to repurpose money to pet rock projects (with pet rock metrics) or to bypass people that supported the project.

    Ted Judah Reply:

    Well the technicals here have done a good job of saying what can’t be done and what is an aberration and what clearly sucks etc. It sounds like a modern art critic symposium.

    We don’t have many here that are proposing real innovation that could reduce costs or add value.

    For example, I suggested once that CAHSR think about an auto-train concept that would charge your electric vehicle between the Bay Area and LA.

    Or, I also suggested looking into using batteries to supplement and offset the need for heavy duty wiring in some cases. Not having to build overhead wire would save a lot of money and let us make HSR more prevalent statewide.

    Or what about using solar to power remote sections of track?

    Sure, I get the Mlynarikian dystopia, but we are still a state that thrives on innovation and I don’t get why this isn’t a bigger part of the discussion.

    Do you want me to buy a brighter lamp for your basement?

    jonathan Reply:

    Ted,

    so you suggested that CHSRA use battries to “supplement and offset the need for heavy duty wiring in some cases”. Just *what* cases? In context, you must be talking about electric traction, as shortly afterward you mention “using solar power to power remote sections of track”.

    Ted, a modern electric locomotive, like the ones Amtrak purchased for the NEC, consume up to 6,400 kilowatts of power. That’s .equivalent to . *sixty-four thousand* 100-watt bulb. Let’s simplify things and assume that an HSR trainset consumes the same amount of power (which is a *bad* assumption [1] Now you’re attempting to power 6,400 electric resistance heaters; or 64,000 100-watt light bubs.

    What power density are you assuming for these batteries? How many watts pe kg? Equivalently, how many kilowatts (kW) per tonne of battery? How many tonnes of batteries do you need, for one hour’s worth of locomotive power? Lead-acid batteries run around 40 W-hrs/kg (the one value I’ve had to look up, so far). So 40 tonnes gets you one Kw-hr. And you need.. six and a half. I’ll be kind, call it 250 tonnes; a nice round number. Now, HSR trainsets have an axle-load limit of around 17 tonnes. WIth 4 axles for a ~27m car, you’re talking ~60 tonnes per car (and that’s ignoring any structure or body for the car; a *VERY* unrealistic number.

    So. Take a trainset like a Velaro-D. Now you’re suggesting we take *HALF THE TRAIN* and fill it with batteries rather than passengers, so we can run the train for *ONE HOUR* before we have to recharge. And recharging is *SLOW*: so in effect you get a *HALF)HOUR* radius — half an hour past the end of electrification; half an hour back, so the train is back “under the wires” before the batteries are drained.

    And you just lost *HALF* (actually, more than half) of the seats in your train, to hold these batteries.

    Ted, your “suggestion” has no merit. The very *best* you can hope for is that it’s ignored. Quite possibly you may seriously offend someone “technical”. I mean, imagine you’re a writer, and someone suggests that perhaps you just squirt ink onto paper with a sprayer/mister, at the right average gray-level. Think how much time that would save!!

    Now, to be fair, there *were* battery-poewred trains, built until the late 50s or maybe early 60s. They had a niche in terrain which was very flat; on low-trafficked, relatively short lines. These trains were light, accelerated slowly, and had low top speeds. They used deep-cycle (marine) batteries, and recharged overnight. Think *slow*.

    As for using solar power to power track sections: are you *serious*? You *suggested* that to someone? How the *hell* are the trains going to run at night? What happens when schedules go to hell on a cloudy day, when there’s less solar energy available? Oh, sure, you can handwave about “storage” and “using the electricity elsewhere, if trains aren’t running”. But, Ted….. “using the electricity elsewhere” is what we call an *ELECTRICAL GRID*.

    .. I’m not going to comment [2] on the auto-train, except to observe that it’s a local-hauled train — no-one builds EMU HSR car-carriers. So it’s going to be slower than an HSR trainset, especially up steep grades.

    Ted, if your aim is to infuriate “technicals”, and to portray yourself as a clueless fool, then go ahead and make “suggestions” like these. But don’t folol yourself into thinking that you’re making ANY KIND of positive contribution Because you’re *NOT*.

    [1] A bad assumption because the design of CA’s HSR alignment assumes trainsets which can climb much, much steeper grades than typical locomotive-hauled trains; and can thus accelerate at rates higher than a locomotive-hauled train. But what that really points to is *power density*.

    [2] My typo rate is way up, which says I should probably stop now before I become even more upset.

    jonathan Reply:

    …. I’m so stupefied by this “battery-powered HSR” idea, that I may have made a stupid arithmetic mistake.

    40 W-hr/kg is 40 kW-hr/tonne. So 100 tonnes gets us 4,000 kW-hr, or 4 MW-hr. 150 tonnes gets us 6 MW-hr, and another 10 tonnes gets us to 6.4 MW-hr, or 1 hours’ operation of a EuroSprinter/Vectron/Amtrak Cities Sprinter. But, a Velaro is rated at 8 MW to 8.8MW (AVE version). , so you’d need to add about one-third to that. So around 200 tonnes of lead-acid batteries, plus or minus 20 tonnes. Divide that by 3 for lithium-ion. You’re still burning a good car and a half — more realistically, 2 cars, given the need for structural support and a body-shell. And charging equipment. Probably more, if you’re retrofitting the batteries into the passenger compartiment of an existing HSR trainset. (Which is the only thing that makes sense; that way you can replace the batteries with seats when electrification is finished).

    The “suggestion” still gives me a headache. A *bad* headache.

    Derek Reply:

    I think supercapacitors would work better. They charge quickly so you won’t need so many if you erect short sections of catenary wires periodically along the line.

    Clem Reply:

    This whole discussion is silly. Overhead electrification is a tiny low-tech detail that amounts to a rounding error in the grand scheme of HSR.

    Ted Judah Reply:

    Clueless fool?

    I think you need to look in the mirror. The fastest way to lose political support for a project is to sound arrogant when you offer nothing as an alternative.

    If you think my suggestions suck, don’t be negative, offer alternatives….

    jonathan Reply:

    Ted,

    Do you genuinely not understand that your “suggestions” are so bad, they’re going to be either laughed at, or give offense? Do you think giving offense is a good way to “build political support”?

    Ted, would you give “suggestions” to… a surgeon? A neurosurgeon? Be honest, now.

    BruceMcF Reply:

    “Or, I also suggested looking into using batteries to supplement and offset the need for heavy duty wiring in some cases. Not having to build overhead wire would save a lot of money and let us make HSR more prevalent statewide.”

    You may have got HSR confused with trolleybuses. Fully capitalized costs included, the overhead catenary electric energy supply is cheaper than diesel. And a large portion of the cost of electrifying a legacy corridor is the cost of retrofitting infrastructure to provide additional overpass and underpass clearances … all of the HSR except the Bookends are going to be newly built corridor, for which the incremental cost of electrification is therefore lower.

    This is an approach I’ve found interesting for trolley buses for a number of years now … giving them sufficient battery power to get to three or four stops on a charged battery, … they recharge while under the wire in the area of the bus stop … stopping, stopped, and accelerating away, and the excess power from dynamic braking can be spilled into super-capacitors connected to the overhead power and drawn on while accelerating away to make for a steadier draw on the grid.

    However, trolley buses are operating at speeds where the power demand of maintaining speed on level ground relatively low … and for going uphill, or running at higher express speeds you’d provide them with continuous trolleywire. Push up to 150 mph to 220mph, and the wind resistance is substantial enough that the train is doing serious work even on level ground. Plus you have to expend energy to accelerate the batteries, which is much greater wasted energy when accelerating the batteries required up to 150mph to 220mph than it is accelerating the batteries that would be required to run a trolley bus through three or four stops up to city bus speeds.

    BruceMcF Reply:

    As far as the auto-train, that is a concept for an electrified Central Coast corridor train … which isn’t something I expect to see happening on a UPRR corridor unless and until BNSF were to work out a way to make money with electrified freight rail.

    But given that vague maybe someday, an overnight sleeper between the Bay and the LA Basin which arrives in either side earlier than the HSR can because of the nightly curfew on the HSR corridor could well haul include an auto-train consist at the back which is collected at some place in the Bay area and dropped off some place in the LA Basin, and visa versa.

    Ted Judah Reply:

    You keeping talking about how terrible my ideas are but refuse to offer any of your own…you keep making my point…if you talk about what can’t be done, nothing happens.

    jonathan Reply:

    Ted,
    Go ahead, keep suggesting that writers stop wasting time, and instead spray ink randomly on paper. But *DON”T* fool yourself. You are NOT making any positive contribution.

    And again: I am NOT validating your point.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    The simpler version of all of the above is that hanging wires is cheaper than hauling around batteries.

    jonathan Reply:

    Bruce,

    You surmise that Ted may have gotten HSR confused with trolleybuses. But that assumes Ted gave *ANY* critical thought to his “suggestions”. The evidence clearly indicates otherwise: Ted also suggests that CHSRA use “solar [[power; PV?]] to power remote sections of track” rather than the electrical grid. See? No critical thought whatsoever. None.

    jonathan Reply:

    .. there’s a fundamental point here which Ted is avoiding. I asked Ted whether he’d make “suggestions” to a surgeion. I assume Ted’s answer is no. And the same for a neurourgeon.
    Now I’ll ask Ted: would you make “suggestions” to a nuclear physicist? Again, I’m assuming the answer is “no”.

    So, Ted. Why on Earth are you so arrogant, so contemptuous, as to make “suggestions” in a field which takes just as long to master? That’s a sincere question. *Why*, Ted?

    Ted Judah Reply:

    Jonathan,

    Do you see anyone else offering ideas here to add value or cut costs? Do you understand the technicals sound just as contemptuous to politicals?

    It doesn’t bother me at all that you humiliate my suggestions or flay my basic knowledge of engineering. You still won’t offer anything. It’s frustrating as a Californian to see technicals offer so little innovative insight. Yet everyone is so skeptical of what compromises have to be made by the Authority and PB, yet we never talk about alternatives.

    I am beginning to wonder if anecdotal connection some make about engineers and autism is true….

    jonathan Reply:

    Ted,

    Answer the question. Would you make “suggestions” to a surgeon on how to perform an operatoin? Would you make suggestions to a nuclear physicist on how to design a particle accelerator? No, of course you wouldn’t. So *WHY* do you offer “suggestions” in a field that takes as long to master?

    Why are you so arrogant and contemptuous, Ted? Why? Why are you so hateful?
    Why do you resort to politically-incorrect intellectual slurs when your hypocrisy, your arrogance, your *hatred* is pointed out?

    When are you going to criticize

    Joe Reply:

    Arrogant and contemptuous. Oh really?

    So that means you’ll stop your inane behavior? Of course not.

    Teds right to criticize “technicals” for behaving like art critics. How many “technicals” obtain and then maintain project support and funding?

    jonathan Reply:

    Inane, Joe? Like you not grasping the difference between a maximum and a minimum; an upper bound and a lower bound? Or are you going to admit you *do* know the difference, but you *lied* for weeks about misreading or mixing them up?

    What kind of “scientist” falsifies their data, Joe? You *do* realize that if your former peers get wind of you falsifying data, in public, that you’ll *never* get funded or published again?

    And as for Ted: Ted, would you tell someone how to design an internal-combustion engine?
    No, of course not. But you’ll tell them how to design an HSR system. And when the inanity of your “suggestions” are pointed out, you resort to stereotypes, to slurs, to hate speech.

    Ted, would you stereotype and slur somone based on their racial background?
    On their gender? Would you stereotype and slur someone for being African-American, or another minority? For being female? For being LGBT? No, of COURSE not. You’re a “progressive’.
    But you DID stereotype and slur someone simply for having a grasp of numbers.

    Nathanael Reply:

    There are appropriate uses of batteries on HSR trains. But not for eliminating overhead wires. (That’s useful for trolleybuses, but not for anything else.)

    The only logical use of batteries on an HSR train is to provide extra power for peak power requirements (cruising uphill), thus reducing the maximum power draw which the grid needs to provide. These batteries can be recharged during periods when the train has low or zero power draw (crusing downhill).

    The suitable type of battery for this is certainly not lead-acid. Supercapacitors would be good, if they worked, but frankly even lithium ion batteries help.

    Nathanael Reply:

    ….and worth noting, most of those batteries should be at trackside, not on the train!

    Ted Judah Reply:

    False dichotomy, though I understand it’s not easy to be questioned some times.

    Do I ask my doctor about medical procedures? Do I learn how to change my own tires? Can I invest money without an account?

    I don’t know why it’s so hard for any engineer to admit, nay, any artist to realize you can be brilliant but you have to sell what people want to buy people that are definitely not engineers. In my line of work people ask for solutions, not problems.

    That’s what is at the core of this animus.

    BruceMcF Reply:

    “You keeping talking about how terrible my ideas are but refuse to offer any of your own…you keep making my point…if you talk about what can’t be done, nothing happens.”

    Bullshit … I’ve been focusing for years about what can be done, rather than what can’t be done.. For instance, just this last Sunday I talked about one idea for sidestepping Bakersfield obstructionism. Indeed, one of the reasons that adirondacker12800 naysays many of my points appears to be that I argue that well chosen intercity Rapid Passenger Rail corridors can provide benefits to rural and outer suburban areas and urbanized areas alike. So I don’t simply accept that nothing can be done about the current political polarization of intercity rail as “just something in the interests of people in big cities”

    But “you ought to talk about what can be done” doesn’t mean that every proposal is feasible. If someone generates a large number of ideas without taking physical and regulatory limits into account, the odds are that most of the ideas generated will be unworkable. So SOMEBODY has to offer some feasibility filtering if the original authors don’t bother to do so themselves.

    Derek Reply:

    Would you make “suggestions” to a surgeon on how to perform an operatoin?

    If surgeons only listened to other surgeons, how quickly do you think surgical science would advance?

    BruceMcF Reply:

    And if surgeons ignored the experience of other surgeons, how quickly would it advance?

    The point here is that Ted Judah is arguing that pointing out that the proposal is worse than the well tested, established technology presently being pursued means that someone is “not offering any alternatives”.

    It would be one thing if it was an open question, in which case once the reasons why its worse from both financial and physical efficiency perspectives are pointed out, the person posing the question can say “ah, I see ~ thanks for that!” and move on.

    But to try to defend a financially unworkable and energy wasteful proposal by playing the semantic game of pretending that pointing out that the technology they are using is the technology used for this task around the world for quite fundamental reasons somehow “doesn’t count” because the people proposing to use tried and tested technology “aren’t proposing alternatives” is not going to fly.

    Ted Judah Reply:

    Bruce,

    I don’t exactly consider you to be a technical in this debate. But what’s inane is that PB literally took the design and planning documents for Taiwan’s high speed project and applied them to CA’s terrain with almost no innovation. Yet we have everyone simultaneously saying “this is an abomination” while ignoring the fact this is the most conservative design possible.

    BruceMcF Reply:

    “Yet we have everyone simultaneously saying “this is an abomination” while ignoring the fact this is the most conservative design possible.”

    That does not imply that any proposed modification to an existing tested and proven technology is an improvement. In the end, adding batteries to the trains and not having continuous catenary would cost more in the grid to catenary transformer side than it would save in terms of kilometers not provided with catenary, even before adding in the cost of adding the batteries to the train.

    “Innovation” that ignores the design problem to be solved is silly ~ its not problem solving, its just aimless “innovation” for the sake of the marketing label. The design problem to be solved is how to deliver large amounts of electrical power on a nearly continuous basis, and continuous catenary is an effective solution to that problem. The big extra cost drivers for continuous catenary are in retrofitting a corridor originally not build with adequate clearances for overhead power, and on the Express HSR section of the corridor, that is not a problem because its a new alignment.

    BruceMcF Reply:

    “Or what about using solar to power remote sections of track?”

    In the sense of remote from the grid, such as parts of the Northern Transcon that are hundreds of miles from a connection to large scale transmission … there aren’t any remote sections of track.

    http://www.energy.ca.gov/maps/infrastructure/Transmission_Lines.gif

    Lewellan Reply:

    Did joe just say, Science and engineering have nothing to do with people?
    Then say, No ME nor Science Ph.D has a thing to do with people and policy?
    Wow. Follow that with finale under-estimate of the year! “People are stupid and irrational.”

    Joe et al, I know you don’t approve of my perspective, but, us Oregonians all are hoping
    for HSR, my old stomping grounds and native habitat. 1st Phase productivity is NOT Madera/Fresno.
    Electrification where investment is multiplied, is, the priority for some of us,
    whether you care to answer questions or not. So if “people are stupid and irrational”
    you aren’t people if you too, HSR@200mph unbridled technologists,
    many not acquainted with natural urban settings but acting as experts on impact.
    I’m a little offended by that, as an accomplished environmentalist, expect better, not worse.
    Oregon, not Washington (Elliott Bay is a toilet) nor California overrun with traffic,
    is the West Coast gardening/landscaping model, yet you guys deride my efforts.

    1st Phase: Altamont/Sac/Peninsula/LA County.
    No, let’s plow through farmland first.
    Dirty vegetables for years.
    More exhaust. Can’t just run more trains.
    IMPOSSIBLE! or so have decreed various potentates.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    ignoring the technical detail that money being spent in the Central Valley has to be spent by 2017. Spending the money in 2019 on parts you think should be built first is technically difficult. Pesky calendars.
    Or the technical detail that to connect the bits in Northern California to the bits in Southern California the bits in Central California have to be built. And whether they are built in 2016 or 2024 is somewhat independent of building the parts you would like to see built first. And cheaper because people with 3 billion dollars of money want you to spend it by 2017.
    Did I mention that the parts you think should be built later are going to built sooner with money that has to be spent by 2017?
    …pesky technical details with calendars….

    BruceMcF Reply:

    “Oregon, not Washington (Elliott Bay is a toilet) nor California overrun with traffic,
    is the West Coast gardening/landscaping model, yet you guys deride my efforts.”

    There is no evidence that your efforts are the reason that Oregon is so totes awesome.

    Lewellan Reply:

    Listen McFly, I’ve been a Portland area light rail advocate since 1992, and played not a small part in the 1995-98 political battle (and related battles since) to replace the proposed S/N MAX line with what we have now plus the streetcar. Numerous environmental organizations supported that voter rejected plan, but they accepted undeniably better replacement later like it was their own idea. I know what I’m talking about. The worst problems with traffic are within metropolitan regions, not between them, therefore, electrified high speed rail won’t hardly begin to address real problems.
    I’d say the 1970’s Bill 100, the land-use Act that set urban growth boundary lines did the most to slow growth to manageable levels, protect farmland and watersheds.

    Lewellan Reply:

    Monies spent on Central Valley 1st Phase is NOT a “technical detail” as much as a “political ploy,” a cash disbersement to construction company insiders, no doubt the same crews responsible for highway construction. Some Californians do not trust state highway department pork.

    BruceMcF Reply:

    “Listen McFly, I’ve been a Portland area light rail advocate since 1992, and played not a small part in the 1995-98 political battle (and related battles since) to replace the proposed S/N MAX line with what we have now plus the streetcar. Numerous environmental organizations supported that voter rejected plan, but they accepted undeniably better replacement later like it was their own idea. I know what I’m talking about.”

    That’s local transport. Why does it imply that you know what you are talking about regarding intercity transport?

    Alon Levy Reply:

    The Portland Streetcar? Yeah, it figures. It’s terrible urban transportation: not frequent enough, slower than buses (as all mixed-traffic streetcars are), too short to provide service to neighborhoods beyond walking range. People don’t even defend it on ridership grounds, but on development grounds… without mentioning that simultaneously with the streetcar, Portland legalized construction along the corridor (“upzoning”).

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    Those pesky people becoming passengers on a passenger railroad foul it up all the time. If they would all just move their homes and businesses to the better route it would be so much better….

    jonathan Reply:

    And when people self label as technicals it means they literally care less about the people impact because f=ma.

    …. Says the self-labelled “scientist” who *still* doesn’t grasp the difference between a minimum, and a maximum; between an upper bound, and a lower bound.

    You can’t make stuff like this up!

    joe Reply:

    But you do make this stuff up. That’s what separates us.

    jonathan Reply:

    No, Joe. I *don’t* make this stuff up. You *don’t* know the difference between a minimum and a maximum; an upper bound and a lower bound. You’ve proved that repeatedly, over weeks. Regarding the *maximum*, *not to exceed* trip-times required by Prop 1A.

    jonathan Reply:

    No, Joe. I *don’t* make this stuff up. You *don’t* know the difference between a minimum and a maximum; an upper bound and a lower bound. You’ve proved that repeatedly, over weeks. Regarding the *maximum*, *not to exceed* service trip-times required by Prop 1A.

    You *don’t* understand the difference between a minimum and a maximum.

    BruceMcF Reply:

    Is that actual technical critique of the Benefit / Cost analysis, or just critique of PB’s route alternatives analysis copied and pasted over to dismissing anything PB does?

    Other than the second order flaws that the external advisory board pinged them on, the critiques of their economic impact analysis itself that I have seen were based on assumptions about the economy tethered in political ideology rather than empirical observation, so I would be interested in seeing any critiques of their first order results founded in pragmatic economic analysis.

    Joe Reply:

    Uk study of economic benefit of HSR stations in Germany.

    BruceMcF Reply:

    Concise. Pithy. Obscure. Elaborate?

    joe Reply:

    http://blogs.lse.ac.uk/politicsandpolicy/the-economic-benefits-of-high-speed-rail-in-europe-can-now-be-demonstrated-beyond-doubt-now-the-uk-should-consider-investing-in-hsr-as-well/

    and found here
    http://www.hsr.ca.gov/docs/about/business_plans/BPlan_2012LibraryCh10PeripheryEco.pdf

    BruceMcF Reply:

    I don’t see anything in there that is a critique suggesting that the PB Benefit/Cost analysis is widely off the mark on the high side. If anything, it suggests that the PB Benefit/Cost analysis may well be biased on the low side, which is a good thing.

  3. J. Wong
    Jul 9th, 2014 at 17:32
    #3

    I’m agnostic as to whether HSR would increase sprawl or not in the Central Valley. Somehow I don’t see legislation being passed to restrict development of agricultural land.

    letsgola Reply:

    I think it will. Jerry Brown has said if you don’t like Bay Area housing prices, you can live in the Central Valley & take HSR. Pretty clear that Palmdale expects to get a building boom out of it too.

    Joe Reply:

    You mean they’ll pave over desert rather than pump water 500 miles to irrigate monocultures.

    BruceMcF Reply:

    That is not the question, though … people living somewhere is not sprawl.

    And there are two comparisons to make:

    (1) Whether it tends to encourages infill or sprawl development compared to the status quo in the places that grow as a result of the transport option

    (2) Whether it encourages people to move from areas that encourage infill development to areas that encourage sprawl development.

    On (1), its clear that it encourages infill development, because the “Edge City” system of promoting sprawl development by plopping down a mall or a strip mall with a set of big box stores doesn’t change the fact that places that are not convenient to the HSR station are less attractive to anyone who is in a place because of travel opportunities opened up by the HSR.

    On (2), what matters is not AVERAGE density, but MARGINAL densities. It could be, for instance, that anybody moving out of a number of places in the Bay with constrained housing supplies would on net lead to a net reduction in sprawl in the Bay, as someone who would have had to settle in a sprawl development is able to move into the vacated place in a more densely populated part of the Bay.

    It could break either way due to various factors on both sides, so its not something I’d take a guess at without hard data.

    jimsf Reply:

    fresno is cheaper than san francisco. fresno doesn’t have the things san francisco people want. if you make fresno more like san francisco, it will be an affordable alternative.

    If you can find a way to make all the lesser cities just as interesting, and dynamic as the classic large cities, then everyone won’t have to squeeze into the large cities. A small city with a high quality of life is more attracitve because it has less of the bad stuff, as in, fewer people.

    BruceMcF Reply:

    One element of that is that a small city doesn’t have to have all the same interesting stuff as a big city across the board … because no one person is interested in all of that stuff. If a smaller city has enough things of interest to enough of younger people in Florida’s “creative class”, combined with the fact that there’s more money in their pocket to spend at those interesting places, and can build a cluster, that’s a good start.

    Around that kernel, if there is enough growth going on in a town center, some of the other stuff will start to be established by people looking for what openings are available and moving in to fill them.

    joe Reply:

    “Small city” in the CV has access to the Sierras.

    I enjoyed Missoula MT with it’s arts and access to the forest, skiing, hiking and rivers and long summer days and things I never thought of doing as a kid in Chicago riding the CTA to explore the city which are cool but not the same.

    jimsf Reply:

    will the city mouse and the country mouse ever become friends…

    joe Reply:

    When in Idaho and Montana I was asked incredulously, “What did you do during the Chicago winter ?”

    When back visiting my Chicago friends I was asked. “What do you do in Idaho and Montana in the winter?”

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    Mowing the lawn and hiking in the mountains lose their charms as you get older.

    joe Reply:

    For you but not me and I’m older.
    It’s called exercise.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    I get plenty of exercise according to my cardiologist. It’s not as charming to spend an hour behind a stinky lawn mower as it was 30 years ago. Even though it’s not as stinky as or loud as the one I used 30 years ago. Or clambering over mountains. After a while they all start to look alike. Sliding down the sides of mountains never intrigued me. The days are just as long in Chicago as they are in Montana give or take a few minutes. When there is less to do where you are they just seem that way.

    joe Reply:

    How dramatic.

    An electric lawnmower with battery. It works very well and quite easy. So is gardening with native plants. Hiking in Gilroy’s nearby CA redwoods and oak forests is quite interesting if you pay attention to the seasonality, flora and fauna.

    Chicago and Missoula have an hour difference for sunset because of each city’s position within their time zone. Quite a difference when you’re outside after work with enough time to float the Clark Fork.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    It goes down earlier in Chicago than it does in Montana, It comes up earlier too. If you boss was less anal retentive about what time you came into work and what time you left you could have more time before sunset wherever you lived. To someone in Chicago, even someone who works while the sun is down, that you have more time to go floating down the river isn’t particularly relevant. If they got out of work an hour before sunrise there isn’t enough time to get to Montana, float down the river before the sun goes down and be back in work. You may have noticed that there is a river in Chicago, I’ve even seen people floating down it. And people floating in the lake. There’s a big one in Chicago. You don’t have enough time after work to go to the place with the best Italian Beef and go to a Cubs game. Or even just go to the place with the best Italian Beef.

    I don’t have to closely observe the seasonal changes. The way the leaves fall off the trees in autumn is rather obvious, They do that because it’s going to be too cold and too dark for it to be worthwhile for them. When its too cold the rain falls as frozen water which is quite obvious too. Frozen water doesn’t drain away very well. Removing that gives me the exercise I don’t get from mowing the lawn or removing the leaves. If we are lucky there are few weeks in the spring when there isn’t any yard work. Warm enough that the precipitation falls as liquid water and still cool enough that the plants haven’t burst into vigorous growth yet. That’s a little bit more subtle but it’s rather obvious that the frozen water I didn’t remove is melting away. To reveal grass I won’t have to mow for another few weeks.

    All of this was far more fascinating 40 years ago, I had seen it 40 fewer times.

    Joe Reply:

    If you socialize with people, a 9:30 sunset gives more time to enjoy the day than a 8:30 sunset.

    Comparing the Chicago river to the Clark fork is hilarious. Do you ever go outside ?

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    The sunset happens no matter what time it says it is on your watch. People who leave work two hours eariler than you have two hours more sunshine to experience than you do. If you both decided to use UTC instead of Mountain Daylight the other person would still have two hours more of sunlight than you did. What time it is on the clock is just what you and your employers agree on.

    Some people like the wilderness and some people like the city. Just because you are so antisocial that the only place you can enjoy yourself is alone in the woods doesn’t mean that should be everybody’s cup of tea.

    Jos Callinet Reply:

    Reveal grass I won’t have to mow PLUS that winter’s worth of snow-covered dog droppings I must now deal with!

    Jos Callinet Reply:

    This HSR thread has taken us bloggers in some quite amazing directions!

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    It’s much easier to collect the dog droppings while they are on top of the snow. It rarely if ever melts all at once which gives an opportunity to pick up the stuff that was missed before it all melts.

    jimsf Reply:

    In El Dorado Hills they deveoped around a “town center” concept Now they want to further that by adding upscale apartments for the tech workers. OIf course there is a huge outcry from the neighbors that apartments bring a bad element. (true as any san franciscan will tell you, young obnoxious tech workers with too much money are indeed a bad element but I digress)

    But you do see density appearing in former suburban settings.

    BruceMcF Reply:

    Sprawl development took a big knock in 2007, and its not clear that its really recovered from that. If enough property developers get the idea in their head that the more secure property development is in infill development, then the normal course of local politics would be a swing of zoning rules to be more favorable to infill property development.

    Ted Judah Reply:

    In the case of El Dorado County, there is a very strong anti-development bias that has resulted in one of the Supervisors being kicked out of office. The upscale town center in question is very close to an affordable housing project and other rentals per the County’s general plan.

    El Dorado county is also unique in California in that it is largest county by population that has less than half the population living inside incorporated cities. The County has incredible planning power relative to other jurisdictions.

    jimsf Reply:

    Im finding el dorado county to be tres bizarre. dont get me wrong im loving it up here, but, tres tres bizarre people and politics. Its baffling.

    meanwhile next door in Placer county they are clamouring for more trains…
    and are going to get them…

    Capitol Corridor hope: 10 passenger trains a day between Roseville and Sacramento

    Read more here: http://www.sacbee.com/2014/07/08/6542731/capitol-corridor-hope-10-passenger.html##storylink=cpy

    Ted Judah Reply:

    Jim, Jim, Jim, when are we ever meeting up for coffee?

    That article is proof that counties are starting to co-opt Amtrak California services for commuter purposes. There’s no real reason to add more trains on the Capitol Corridor that direction, but Placer County would rather ensure Regional Transit doesn’t get all the cap and trade cash even though their residents show no compunction in driving across county lines to ride the light rail into Sacramento yet paying none of the taxes for it.

    Next up, OCTA hijacks the Surfliner, film at eleven….

    jimsf Reply:

    well, more direct trains are needed to the roseville end. actually to auburn. mabye not ten, but at least a couple more round trips would be useful capitol corridor ridership is very much like bart ridership, a combination of commuters and local and regional leisure. It is multi purpose and works well for both commuting and events etc.

    but no doubt octa will try to add more stops to surfliner, and as we have already read, the new jpa for the san joaquins intends to add more stops as well turning the san joaquins into more a commuter line ( adding stops in east contra costa – additional sac stops, elk grove, north fresno, north bakersfield etc. and high frequencies.

    Paul Dyson Reply:

    Will Placer stop running their subsidized commuter buses that compete with Cap Cor?

    jimsf Reply:

    I dont know. I didn’t even know they had commuter buses. probably not until there is enough rail service to take the place of those buses. depends on where those buses stop too. I think they should run some trains north from roseville to lincoln as well as east to auburn, because that whole lincon roseville galleria area has seen exposive growth and is a traffic nightmare. I avoid it at all costs.

    Ted Judah Reply:

    Unfortunately, Placer will not run trains to Lincoln because it wants a reason to extend the 65 and fuel more auto-centric growth. Hence the reason people in El Do are so suspicious, they see what happened along the 80… For that reason, you can’t rely on ridership to drive demand, Rocklin and points east have too small a population.

    Roseville Galleria,meanwhile, is a cluster**** of gargantuan proportions. Actually the whole road layout is a nightmare… But the reason the City can run buses empty all day long because of the sales tax revenue it generates.

    I would actually be in favor of building a BART style system to link Davis, Sacramento, the airport, Placer County, EDH, and yes, Elk Grove. So far though, no takers.

    jimsf Reply:

    Id come to folsom for coffee Ted, at some point when I find the time. Im currently swamped with the joys of homeownership! Speaking of Folsom, there is currently some kind of local buzz about this old rail line that runs from folsom up to placerville. The trail people want it to be a trail, the tourist railroad people want it to be a tourist railroad. As usual, nobody wants to share. ( im so totallysick to death of americans’ behaviour this decade)
    Why isnt anyone saying save the ROW for a transit link. If anyplace could use an extended rail link its the highway 50 corridor from Davis to Placerville. And when you consider RT already goes into downtown folsom, it wouldn’t be difficult to extend it into EDC

    Ted Judah Reply:

    See my comment at the very bottom. The window switched while I was writing a reply to you.

    letsgola Reply:

    If California really cared about infill development, it would be happening in places that already have transit, like the Peninsula. There’d be no need to build HSR to Fresno and Palmdale if that were the goal. Or put another way, if the supposedly liberal Bay Area and LA cities aren’t allowing much infill growth with the transit they already have, why is there any reason to believe that substantially more conservative Fresno and Palmdale will?

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    the people being priced out of LA and SF aren’t afraid of living so close together that they can walk places, even if there aren’t a lot of them, they are willing to pay more than they would for a McMansion and it keeps them all in one place?

    Neil Shea Reply:

    With more non-car transportation alternatives the value of walkable / transit-served communities will increase. Win/win

    BruceMcF Reply:

    “If California really cared about infill development, it would be happening in places that already have transit, like the Peninsula. There’d be no need to build HSR to Fresno and Palmdale if that were the goal.”

    HSR is intercity transport, not local or regional transport. Its providing alternatives for driving and flying on intercity trips. Local and regional transport is required to provide alternatives to driving for local and regional trips (commutes and otherwise).

    StevieB Reply:

    It depends on local government in the Central Valley to support development of walkable communities adjacent to High Speed Rail station in contrast to the low density automobile oriented single family development that has been the norm in recent years. Education the public on the high cost to municipal budgets to service sprawl development as well as the increased pollution and agriculture loss may be key to mobilizing public support for transit adjacent development.

    MarkB Reply:

    Doesn’t AB32 require all MPOs to implement smart growth plans? SANDAG (San Diego’s MPO)’s plan has already ended up in court for being too roadway-centric to reduce CO2 to mandated targets. Given that, I don’t see how the CV can keep developing like it’s 1959.

    Alan Kandel Reply:

    This hopefully helps clarify matters a bit.

    http://www.climateplan.org/fresno-san-joaquin-counties-adopt-momentous-scses

    MarkB Reply:

    Thanks for the link. Even the CV is making baby steps toward reducing sprawl. And it’s SB375 driving this, not AB32.

    jimsf Reply:

    They key will be convincing consumers to live in higher densities. If they want it, and there is profit to be made in building and selling it, it will happen. If they turn their noses up at it, then no one will build it.

    BruceMcF Reply:

    The binding constraint on the supply of housing from residential zoning regulations is not in forcing developers to build at higher densities when there is no market for it … ts in forbidding developers to build at higher densities even though there is a market for it.

    (Not that the developers under the sprawl development regime MINDED, since if that limit is imposed on all, it implies greater capital gains when a property gets zoned residential in a housing-shortage area).

    Residential zoning would not require density limits if there was no market for higher density.

    jimsf Reply:

    oh. i see. so it still actually nimbys screaming against density.

    BruceMcF Reply:

    Not just NIMBY’s ~ before the housing bubble collapsed, the pushing people out to the edges was in the interests of property developers, since they could build greenfield developments sized to the amount of capital gains they were trying to roll-over to avoid paying tax on. Infill development is a lot harder to tailor to how much you are trying to tax-shelter.

    slackfarmer Reply:

    While developers are complicitous in sprawl I think it’s unfair to put them in the same category as nimbys. And tax considerations have nothing to do with — profits from subdivision are ordinary income not capital gain. The real reason developers do greenfield instead of infill development is that it’s just so much easier — because there are no nimbys to deal with.

    BruceMcF Reply:

    Profits from subdivision may be ordinary income, but capital gains from property development are still capital gains, and have to go back into property development in order to take advantage of federal capital gain roll-over provisions.

    jimsf Reply:

    Fresno’s problem is crime. Clane that up and it becomes a lot more attractive

    datacruncher Reply:

    It is also perceptions not just the actual crime levels.

    CQPress annually ranks cities for per capita crime using FBI statistics gathered from the local law enforcement agency in each city. The most recent rankings included:
    345 San Francisco, CA
    346 Omaha, NE
    347 South Gate, CA
    348 Sacramento, CA
    349 Brockton, MA
    350 Fresno, CA
    351 Redding, CA
    352 Albuquerque, NM
    http://os.cqpress.com/citycrime/2013/2014_CityCrimeRankings%28LowtoHigh%29.pdf

    Looking closer at the FBI statistics,
    http://www.fbi.gov/about-us/cjis/ucr/crime-in-the-u.s/2012/crime-in-the-u.s.-2012/tables/8tabledatadecpdf/table-8-state-cuts/table_8_offenses_known_to_law_enforcement_by_california_by_city_2012.xls/output.xls
    the city of Fresno runs higher than Sacramento and San Francisco for per capita murders and auto theft but Fresno is lower than those two for per capita crime in categories like robbery and rape.

    But numbers of robberies and rapes tend not to receive the same level of media coverage as murders (or auto theft rankings). So San Francisco and Sacramento don’t have the same public perception as Fresno.

    Scramjett Reply:

    Huh. Nice to see my hometown of Stockton is still at the top of the list (and still higher than Compton).

    Nathanael Reply:

    The Indianapolis suburbs are apparently real hellholes according to that.

    BruceMcF Reply:

    Parma OH is terrible on that index (3rd), and Cleveland OH much better (432nd). I’m a bit skeptical that two immediate neighbors will have such a dramatic difference without it being in part due to juking the stats.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    Well if what you can buy is a single family house on a large lot or a large lot with a single family house on it , you buy a single family house. Since the only thing that sells is single family houses on large lots the market has spoken. It has nothing to with the zoning only allowing single family houses on large lots. Sorta like the most popular car in East Germany was the Trabant. Very few of other makes and models were ever sold so it’s obvious that what the market wanted was Trabants.

    letsgola Reply:

    HSR isn’t serving the places that would have demand for higher density if zoning allowed it, though. There’s limited demand for high density development in Fresno and Palmdale.

    BruceMcF Reply:

    If you are saying that there is little demand for high density development in any of the places that connect directly to LA Union Station via local transit … that would be obviously false.

    If you are saying that LA Union Station isn’t going to be an HSR station … that would be obviously false.

    If you are saying that HSR is not going to serve as local transit within LA … that would be true but entirely beside the point, since HSR is an intercity transport service.

    jonathan Reply:

    …… which doesn’t stop innumerate “progressives” from wanting TOD very close to HSR stations.

    If the area around the station is quiet enough for high-density development, then the “HSR” is no longer *high speed rail*.

    Jon Reply:

    People want to live in higher densities – hence the insane housing costs in San Francisco right now. The problem is NIMBYs like Synonymouse who don’t want SF to get denser because “it wasn’t like that when I were a lad”, and restrictive zoning that reflects that sentiment.

    jimsf Reply:

    some people might want to but I dont know anyone who wants to live that way. my experience is that people want to get away from it, thats why they are moving up here to the hills, and resisting any and all new development of any kind. In fact many san franciscans also do not want more density because it ruins the quality of life after a certain point. That is why making under utilized medium cities in california, makes sense because you can densify each one to a comfortable level, without over doing it. after a point, it just becomes miserable. Theres a fine line between pleasant/interesting/comfortable and nightmarish disgusting horror.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    …nobody goes there anymore it’s too crowded.

    Eric Reply:

    Yep. Manhattan is the densest area in the US and also the most expensive, i.e. most desired.

    Joey Reply:

    I’m very confused as to why people think that replacing parking lots and run-down warehouses with new condo and apartment blocks degrades the quality of life. Maybe it has to do more with the kinds of people that existing residents think will be moving in? True, it does mean that everything is more crowded, but that’s easy to mitigate once you abandon the fantasy that everyone wants to drive everywhere.

    BruceMcF Reply:

    You were confused by something that you explained fairly clearly before the end of the paragraph? People who either live in the fantasy that everyone wants to drive everywhere, or else with the expectation that everyone is going to be forced to drive everywhere.

    joe Reply:

    “I’m very confused as to why people think that replacing parking lots and run-down warehouses with new condo and apartment blocks degrades the quality of life.”

    You’d add more people without adding public space – what’s so difficult about understanding the problems you want to foist on people?

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    Without people using the public spaces you have parking lots without cars and odd landscaping.

    Joey Reply:

    Amenities and public space aren’t difficult to add more of. Retail destinations to serve new residents come naturally in mixed-use developments. New parks are being created at a reasonable rate – it’s not terribly difficult to set aside every tenth parking lot for this purpose. And in the high-development neighborhoods it’s not like the streets and sidewalks are overflowing to begin with.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    well yes if you go and put people and their restaurants stores etc. on the parking lots there won’t be anyplace to park and it will get so crowded that no one goes there anymore.

    Jon Reply:

    If the majority of people wanted to escape to the hills, housing prices in SF would be stable or decreasing, and prices in the hills would be increasing. But that’s not the case – prices are rising faster in SF than in the hills.

    I understand that some people want to escape the city for the hills, but they’re not in the majority. The general trend is for people to move back into central cities, and has been for 15-20 years now.

    joe Reply:

    Population growth is in the Hills and not SF. SF is 7 square miles. The Hills run from the OR to Mexican border. That’s why the Hills have lower rent.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    Sounds like there’s a supply constraint in SF but not the Hills.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    Supply constraint on land in San Francisco and a supply constraint on people who want to live in the hills in the hills.

    BruceMcF Reply:

    That’s a supply constrain in San Francisco and a demand constrain on living in the hills, which would imply a price differential putting a premium on SF.

    Joe Reply:

    You don’t want to understand because it gets in the way of your agenda to build condo towers.

    Demand for SF housing is focused on the classic neighborhoods which are not condo towers. You are not going to meet that demand ever.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    Ironically, the anti-gentrification crowd claims the exact opposite – that condo towers create more demand from the rich rather than that they depress demand.

    Anything to justify an agenda. Hence, the “you don’t want to understand” projection: you attack people who have a self-consistent (and reality-consistent) explanation of housing prices while making arguments that argue two contradictory things at once.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    You want to build condos on expensive land the condo you build on it are going to be expensive.

    joe Reply:

    No “they” don’t claim condo towers attract the rich.

    The rich like Zuckerman are buying homes in my old neighbourhood.

    http://www.cnbc.com/id/101140474
    In documents secured by CNBC, the home at Fair Oaks off of 21st Street and Dolores went for $9.999 million, and now the property is undergoing an extensive renovation.

    Joey Reply:

    They do claim that condo towers attract the rich, regardless of whether it’s true or not.

    And of course big houses in desirable neighborhoods are selling for several million apiece. That doesn’t mean that condos aren’t selling for a few million apiece too. Even with the tech boom, there aren’t that many people who can afford $10m houses. And developers know that they can make more money by building a multi-story condo block rather than a single family house on the same amount of land.

    Donk Reply:

    They Bay Area is unsustainable. The whole Bay Area itself is going to be a bubble.

    joe Reply:

    Because it has to be a bubble because.

    Computer/web/cell/geo-location/viewing tracking and data analysis is the air in the bubble. iPhone 5 onward has a GPS tracking chip.

    That’s very personal and powerful information about each of us and they are collecting, analyzing and selling it.

    Congress isn’t going to institute new privacy laws and iPhone/Android phones are still dominate in the marketplace.

    Cynicism isn’t going to pop this bubble. It’s real.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    Joe: yes, they do. The anti-gentrification activists oppose upzoning on the grounds that it leads to displacement. This, if you think about it for more than ten seconds, is a claim that building taller creates more demand. Most of the anti-gentrification people are not Daniel Kay Hertz; they’re more like you and JimSF, people who hate outsiders and think ZOMG CHANGE IS RUINING OUR FAIR CITY WHY IS IT NOT 1989 AGAIN. Hell, I know New Yorkers who genuinely want to have lived in the Bronx of the 1970s.

    jimsf Reply:

    it is.

    joe Reply:

    People opposed to tall buildings are not anti-gentrification. A tall condo tower building isn’t gentrification.

    The post has a good article on what’s making cities unaffordable – it’s college educated workers. Sure they pay more than they want for rent but it’s within their reach and they drive out working families.
    Also they create demand for dining and services most workers cannot afford or need.

    You and joey know of any college educated dude-bros that want to live in walkable cities?

    http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/wonkblog/wp/2014/07/11/college-graduates-are-sorting-themselves-into-cities-increasingly-out-of-reach-of-everyone-else/

    Diamond also found that as cities increased their share of college graduates between 1980 and 2000, they also increased their bars, restaurants, dry cleaners, museums and art galleries per capita. And they experienced larger decreases in pollution and property crime, suggesting that cities that attract college grads benefit from both the kind of amenities that consumers pay for and those that are more intangible.

    Just stop it.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    Having worked in the Bronx of the 1970s, no they don’t. Just like Real Americans(tm) pine for the world of 1955 that never was the people who tell you they want the Bronx to be like it was in the 70s aren’t pining for what the Bronx was like in the 70s.. I didn’t go to work on July 14th 1977, I didn’t think the bus would be operating through the riot. I never asked if was but when I went through on the 15th there had been a riot.

    Joey Reply:

    joe, the argument here isn’t about what’s actually happening, and you’re probably right on that front. It’s about what people are complaining about, which is often not what the actual problem is.

    Joe Reply:

    Complaining about high rent in places of desire with” limited” housing is a contradiction.

    SF has crap weather and it’s hard to access. Wanting to live there is about the ambiance and access to a large collection of young educated people and all the dudebro services that formed around the market.

    Zoning aint the problem.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    It depends on what you want out of your weather. If you like basking in the 90 degree heat San Francisco might not be to your tastes. If rain gets you down almost any place in California will do because it doesn’t rain most of the year. If you want someplace that’s moderately warm in the winter and moderately cool in the summer the Bay Area is great.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    They may not want to live in the actual city of the 1970s, but they certainly romanticize it. People romanticize grit, all the time.

    Joe Reply:

    SF lost its cheap eateries servicing regular income people regular, affordable food.

    Hungry joe ‘s at Church St
    1.99 for eggs, toady and bacon.

    Now it’s “toast”
    Menu online.

    BruceMcF Reply:

    joe: “You don’t want to understand because it gets in the way of your agenda to build condo towers.”

    Who said I want to build condo towers?

    Donk Reply:

    Joe I am not sure if you were responding to me regarding my point about the Bay Area being a bubble or not because your post didn’t make any sense. The simple reason it is a bubble is because the Bay Area is a place that was built off off start-up tech companies, and it is no longer a viable place for start-up tech companies. There are many better places in the state and country and many innovators and businesses are realizing this.

    joe Reply:

    Joe I am not sure if you were responding to me regarding my point about the Bay Area being a bubble or not because your post didn’t make any sense. The simple reason it is a bubble is because the Bay Area is a place that was built off off start-up tech companies. There are many better places in the state and country and many innovators and businesses are realizing this.

    The massive money behind the SV companies is unqiue and persistent. They’re now collecting, analysing and sharing your personal information and individual profiles collected from cell phones and computer use. That is what gives the companies their valuation.

    I don’t know why you think the area is no longer viable for start-ups. Would it be too hard to post a link to this factoid or is this a DONK exclusive?

    Whatsapp was founded by x-yahoo employees in the SV and bought by SV based facebook for 19B. They got their funding from the SV based VCs and used SV based talent.

    Maybe you can tell us th enew start-up hot bed. I think it’s moving south from Plao Alto to Mountain View then Sunnyvale and onto more affordable San Jose.

    Donk Reply:

    Joe, yes this is a Donk exclusive that comes from personal experience with start-ups. However, I should point out that I am not talking about purely CS companies, where a couple guys just need laptops and a Starbucks to develop a new app and stay “virtual” until they get a check from Sand Hill Road – I was talking about hardware/device/engineering startups, that require actual lab/warehouse space and a variety of engineers and others to get their product off the ground. So I think we are talking about apples and oranges.

    So with that in mind, prior to obtaining VC funding, a “hardware” start-up has to bootstrap its operations on a relatively tight budget. This is becoming less and less practical in the Bay Area due to the cost of rent, housing, employees, and everything else. You burn through way too much cash too quickly. You can get much farther with less dilution elsewhere. Where you go depends on the industry of course. For example, for Life Sciences, San Diego, Orange County, and Austin might be more attractive depending on what you are doing. There are are a ton of wireless companies in San Diego if you are in that space.

    All this said, if you are in the software business developing the newest app on your laptop and it doesn’t cost a lot to get there, then sure, stay in the Bay Area. But they are eventually going to have to change the name from “silicon valley” to “software valley” or something similar since hardware is going to start getting farther and farther east and south.

    joe Reply:

    Donk,

    The SV economy doesn’t do everything so what pops has to be what’s here and inflated.

    The current bubble inflated with access to personal information and locational data collected from cell phones. It will pop when that access is lost/blocked or saturated.

    SV hasn’t been dependent on hardware/manufacturing for well over a 15 years. Probably since the web browser and google’s innovative use of commodity PC parts to build robust, low cost data-centers.

    Hardware’s the razor they give away and not the profit generator. The challenges are increasingly SW based. Facebook and Google offer hardware independent services and android phones are virtual machines. Dalvik Bytecode can run on a VIA x86 tablet or ARM tablet.

    The valley seems to be expanding into automation/robotics (SW) and software intensive innovation such as self driving cars, UAVs, and data driven and model based reasoning. The SV culture is about fast development and haven’t demonstrated process and skill in building safe reliable systems.

    They may fail to build reliable products or use this effort to accumulate patents and license them,

    Joey Reply:

    Hardware’s the razor they give away and not the profit generator. The challenges are increasingly SW based. Facebook and Google offer hardware independent services and android phones are virtual machines. Dalvik Bytecode can run on a VIA x86 tablet or ARM tablet.

    You’re mostly right that high-level software is the big money generator, but don’t underestimate the resources it takes to develop hardware and low-level software. Someone has to write that Dalvik VM you speak of, and they have to have a lot more specialized knowledge of the intricacies of the ARM and x86 hardware it’s running on. Now Google is transitioning away from Dalvik’s just-in-time model to the new ART ahead-of-time compiler, which is perhaps conceptually simpler but still has to be developed and comes with its own challenges. On the hardware side, chip makers must deliver higher performance in a lower power envelope perpetually in order to remain competitive, and this is coming at a time when we are pushing up against the limits of what our current silicon chip manufacturing process can offer. And all that big data you speak of has to be run on something. So the server hardware market is alive and well. Some (AMD) have predicted the decline of x86 in the server market but that’s certainly not happening yet, and in fact the insane processing requirements of data mining are pushing Intel and the like to keep coming out with big, fast processors with lots of cores.

    joe Reply:

    don’t underestimate the resources it takes to develop hardware and low-level software.

    Oh I do not. The high costs are why hardware is not leading the industry anymore.

    There are far fewer CPU instruction sets and OSs now than the 80’s or 90s.

    Hardware innovations such as processors and even manufacturing are constrained and must be compatible with the SW base. Costs to design develop and test and then manufacture are so high and learning curve so great than it makes little sense to create a new instruction set.

    The VM expertise, which abstracts hardware and execute bytcode, is centered in the Silicon Valley. Google-Dalvik, Oracle-Java and also VMWare’s virtualization.

    Dalvik runs on top of a portable Linux using OS services so porting requires interfaces to Linux running on a different processor and then there calls to device drivers. Yes, vendors can customize Dalvik with key sections running optimized code for a processor but it’s still a SW activity to write these small sections in assembly or embedded C.

    Knowing an instruction set and programming at assembly is still a SW skill. It’s not an EE skill.

    Interpreters, Compilers and development environments are SW.

    Moore’s Law now advances computer power with parallelization, such as multi cores, and exploiting multi-cores for improved performance on a single task is a hard software problem. VMs reduce the complexity since the VM can deal with multicores and keep the complexity off the app developer.

    Servers are commodities and they compete on compute power per watt.
    Storage is low cost – a petabyte is 200k.

    The Valley is SW driven and they are making a fortune collecting data about us and selling information.

    Joey Reply:

    Minor point – data storage is cheap, but the processing power necessary to sort through and analyze all that data is less cheap. And if you intend to do anything with the data you probably need to process it.

    Joe Reply:

    The bottle neck is I/O. That’s a physical activity on the disk and the most costly activity -still. To improve performance increase I/O cache.

    Try to avoid physical read write, then reduce I/o with a memory cache.

    So if I had to analyze a PB of time series geographical data, I’d organize the data to reduce I/O. If I had spatial and temporal queries, I’d consider two copies of the data. One for efficient spacial and the other for fast temporal access.

    Also if consider use a massive memory based data structure to hold the data I was processing.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    You don’t need a Wintel solution to process it. Or a Wintel solution to speed up your I/O

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Standard_RAID_levels#RAID_0

    Joey Reply:

    Yes, I/O is often a bottleneck, but to adequately address it you need large amounts of system memory, which is also not particularly cheap. On-die CPU cache is even faster than system ram but you’re never going to get enough of it. Optimizations can be made to reduce the memory footprint (and they are of course), but many tasks still require buttloads of RAM.

    and adirondacker: The performance of a RAID array is still limited by the spinny disks it contains. Maybe you get a factor of 10 performance improvement because of striping but that’s not much compared to volatile memory.

    jimsf Reply:

    I love my new iphone. If only I could figure out how to use it.

    JB in PA Reply:

    When people want to get out of SF city they head out to SF county.

    JB in PA Reply:

    Figuring out how to use an iPhone is what happens while you use it.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    There are commodity solutions for people who need I/O that is faster than the stuff in commodity desktops. If you are gonna make a gazillion dollars off the insights you get out of this humongous database you have acquired you either spend the 40,000 bucks for something that would have been called a supercomputer ten years ago or you contract it out to Google and let it run on their servers in the dead of night when nobody is doing searches.

    BruceMcF Reply:

    All that is required is that the housing supply is more constrained below effective demand to push the housing prices up faster … its not actually required for demand to be larger in an absolute sense.

    jimsf Reply:

    I here a lot of talk about this shift or that shift, but during my fifty years in northern california, oeverall, with minor fluctuations, the pattern has been basically the same, the cities grow and so do the suburbs. WE are still building the excact same housing tracts and shopping centers that we built in 90s 80s 70s and 60s with minor changes in style – and each decade brings design improvments. I don’t see any signs of this ending because not only is it still being built, but even more plans including new parkways and connectors are in the works. The pattern just continues.

    Look at this

    and

    This

    and

    this

    i dont see the shift.

    Joey Reply:

    I have plenty of issues with this development pattern but can I just bitch about cul-de-sacs for a minute? When you have a street grid you can drive, walk, or bike in any direction easily. With this type or road pattern you’re funneled through a few entry/exit points which may or may not be in the direction of your destination. It’s less noticeable when driving but it’s still there, and it’s particularly bad if you’re walking since you often have to detour the greater part of a mile. I’m not sure when cul-de-sacs became associated with luxury or whatever but I really don’t see what purpose they serve.

    Eric Reply:

    Cul-de-sacs can have pedestrian cut-throughs, but I think this is extremely rare in the US. Probably because their purpose is to isolate the residents from traffic and crime, and a criminal on foot supposedly could use the cut-through to make a quick getaway.

    joe Reply:

    Why is it better to have a grid pattern unless one is playing the game city planner?

    https://goo.gl/maps/xbcYE Cal state’s housing. Cul-de-sacs and traffic directed to a few main streets which curve and calm traffic. Bike friendly safe for kids to play.

    https://goo.gl/maps/yOLSO
    Cicero IL has a grid and they engineered it to reduce cut through traffic with one way streets mostly going out and blocked entrances on the one way in bound.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    The sidewalks aren’t one way and even though the automobile traffic is blocked the sidewalks aren’t?

    joe Reply:

    The sidewalks aren’t one way and even though the automobile traffic is blocked the sidewalks aren’t?

    Yes, so one can stroll randomly in a Cicero neighborhood with no purpose but getting one’s ass kicked by annoyed residents.

    The Cal State MB cul-de-sac neighborhood fails the grid metric but it’s very safe to bike and walk. Curved streets clam traffic.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    Curved streets reduce visibility, so pedestrians are more afraid to cross the street.

    Joey Reply:

    I should amend my statement – directing car traffic along specific paths is fine. If there are pedestrian/bicycle cut-throughs then it works okay, but that is almost always not the case.

    Joe Reply:

    Home owner associations, private streets, don’t encourage cut throughs (in my town) It’s a feature. Maybe the one next to our levy bike path will be different. It’s in progress now.

    Other areas where the city owns the streets are getting them such as Christopher High School. We’re a It’s a pretty standard town so it’s encouraging to see the city connect a new school to a levy bike path and allow bike / pedestrian cut throughs from the new home developments.

    When walking in a grid area, I try to stick to main streets. Noe valley I did it to decrease chances of robbery. In mission dist it was survival 101. As a kid in Chicago – territory issues. Gangs or just a bunch of punks taking it out on you.

    jimsf Reply:

    I don’t have a cul de sac but I do have this for a yard Just wanted to share. super paradise!

    jimsf Reply:

    except for some possible commuting issues!

    jonathan Reply:

    jimsf:
    Stunningly beautiful. Thank you for sharing that.

    jimsf Reply:

    I love it. But its not everyones cup of tea. now about that pollock pines hsr station. Im thinking something in a national park lodge style.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    does the mosquito repellent work or do you have to put on a bee keeper’s get-up to go out into it?
    Looks like you solved the lawn mowing conundrums.

    Joey Reply:

    Very nice. Though I think that density and open space are not mutually exclusive. See, for instance, this image of Repulse Bay in Hong Kong.

    Hong Kong actually has a very interesting development pattern – outside of the core of Hong Kong proper and Kowloon, much of what you see is pockets of towers rather than continuous development. This may be a function of geography more than anything else though – it’s not exactly easy to build on top of those steep mountains.

    This development pattern is very easy to serve with transit – these pockets lend themselves well to stations. And indeed, Hong Kong has one of the highest transit mode shares in the world, though this is certainly not the only reason for that.

    Of course, it’s not without drawbacks too – a lot of the residential towers in Hong Kong are unambiguously ugly, though this may be a result of the time and economic conditions under which they were build more than anything else.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    ask Mr. Kimball if Drucker’s Store has one of those new fangled propane driven mosquito confusers.

    jimsf Reply:

    I was at Druckers yesterday getting the pitchfork repaired. The confusers were out of stock.

    As for density Joey, I actually like the idea of denisty with a lot of preservation around it. I would like to see all the medium cities, and all the small town, put in solid boundaries and create dense, even if very small, downtowns. even up here

    jimsf Reply:

    the problem is when you say density to small town people they cringe. They do not want “all those things and people” that density represents, even when all it really means is that they well have a lot of nice and interesting things to enjoy in their small town without having to go elsewhere.
    aside from the middle east, Americans are the most paranoid, fear based, unreasonable people on earth.

    Jon Reply:

    I would like to see all the medium cities, and all the small town, put in solid boundaries and create dense, even if very small, downtowns.

    Yes, that’s exactly what I want to see as well! One of the main things I noticed when I moved here from Europe was that cities here feel much smaller, even though they are actually bigger, simply because they are dense.

    I love the cities and I love the country. I live in one of the densest parts of the second densest cities in the US, and I love it. And I spent the last weekend hiking through the Yosemite wilderness, where there was barely another human being, and loved it as well. What I don’t love is sprawl that paves over huge areas of land with development that is not dense enough to provide interesting human interactions, and is too developed to provide an enjoyable rural experience.

    Keep the cities like cities and the country like the country. The sprawl in between is what needs to go, either through densification or (less likely) abandonment to the environment.

    Jon Reply:

    that should read, simply because they are *less* dense.

    Ted Judah Reply:

    Pearls on a string…

    BruceMcF Reply:

    @jimsf ~ clustered density is what state imposed zoning easements around stops on qualifying high quality state-supported transit services can achieve, since they could be, for instance, a quarter mile easement on ground floor mixed use and second and third floor townhouse residential, and a half mile easement on three story construction with quarter acre lots allowed and four residents per lot.

    Then a special form of tax increment financing would impose an additional property tax increment just on the property allowed by the easement, for the operation of the transit service that qualifies the property for the easement. That avoids the big problem with tax increment financing, where it diverts money needed to support the local services for new residents into subsidizing things to support the profits of real estate developers, since in that case the increment would be an actual incremental RATE on newly allowed property.

    BruceMcF Reply:

    @joe ~ cut throughs for one way emergency vehicle passage should be mandatory in any event, otherwise cul de sacs impose additional third party costs in providing services that they demand, and for which they don’t tend to pay extra for despite their voluntary decision to increase the cost of someone providing them the service.

    BruceMcF Reply:

    Such basic institutions don’t just gradually evolve into something else. At present trying to restart what used to work quite well as a wealth generating engine for property developers and then blew up in their faces spectacularly in 2007 is competing side by side with alternative approaches, and early indications are that the alternative approaches are delivering better returns to property development.

    But whether or not that shift is in progress, its not going to be completed in seven years. We didn’t shift from the previous central city plus transit suburbs system into the sprawl suburban system in a decade, and we won’t shift from the sprawl suburban system to an alternative system in a decade, either.

    After all, a lot of the transition does not actually involve all property developers changing what they are doing, but rather the property developers pursuing the system that works for generating wealth being able to engage in a growing number of projects, and being emulated by newcomers entering the field, while many of the old guard continue to do things the way they are used to doing them until they retire or are driven out of business.

    Joe Reply:

    Bruce

    Give me a rough dollar estimate of the societal cost of a cul de sac.
    You’ll need to quantify that cost.

    BruceMcF Reply:

    Joe, what dollar value do you want me to put on the additional people killed as a result of the requisite of the cul de sac system, the stroad?

    http://www.citylab.com/design/2011/09/street-grids/124/

    joe Reply:

    That’s dramatic and a bit misleading

    See

    On average, they found, people who live in more sparse, tree-like communities drive about 18 percent more than people who live in dense grids.

    So you’re cul de sac design is de facto selecting for suburban living which has more driving and driving related deaths.

    You need to control for differences between urban and suburban variables before you can claim it’s the cul de sac.

    People with yellow fingertips get cancer more than those without. It’s not the colour of the fingers, it’s the smoking which causes the finger tips to discolour.

    BruceMcF Reply:

    “That’s dramatic and a bit misleading”

    No, this would have been misleading: “You need to control for differences between urban and suburban variables before you can claim it’s the cul de sac.”

    You ask for evidence that there is a difference in cost due to a street layout that forces people to drive more, but then insist that I filter out the fact people living in neighborhoods laid out that way drive more?

    Reliance on cul-de-sacs also systematically results in people driving faster. Not at the cul-de-sac itself, but on the access road which channels the traffic of people getting into and out of cul-de-sac neighborhoods designed with limited access points to save the developers on development costs.

    And its not simply a matter of geographical distance from destinations, since cul-de-sacs force people to drive further to travel the same geographical distance. That is, after all, their point, to not be on a “short cut” between two places, but to be at the dead end, requiring a long meandering path to get the to one or sometimes a few access roads.

    jonathan Reply:

    “Natural urban settings”? Gosh. Not much more one can say.

    blankslate Reply:

    I understand that some people want to escape the city for the hills, but they’re not in the majority. The general trend is for people to move back into central cities, and has been for 15-20 years now.

    Considering that “the hills” as a general area has over a thousand times the developable land area of San Francisco, it is quite possible for “the majority” (as in, more) people to prefer living in the hills, concurrent with faster price increases in SF.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    Instead of moving to San Francisco they move to Porltand. Or Columbus. It’s a lot cheaper in Columbus.

    jimsf Reply:

    There was a radio show last week on kgo where the host pointed out that san francisco is basically over. There is still a city there, and there are a lot of misguided souls clamouring to try to find a way to get there or hang on there, but with exhorbitant rents, the loss of everything and everyone who made it different and interesting, ( having been driven out) anyone looking for the san francisco experience and lifestyle is out of luck. It has become just another city like every other city. Nothing particularly unique any more. The host questioned is it really worth to even try, struggle, and pay ridiculous prices to live in what has become a cookie cutter corporatate city, when you can get the exact same corporate cookie crap in every city in america.

    Of course the new people are clueless as to what was and what they missed out on and have no interest in the little things that made the place so unique.

    So thanks a lot. hope your all happy.

    jimsf Reply:

    This just in…. sourdough production to cease. Wonder* Bread is the new chic.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    It’s not 1985 anymore. It didn’t look what it looked like in 1955 in 1985 and it’s not gonna like what it looked like in 1985 in 2015. In 1955 there were people sitting around whining and moaning that it didn’t look what it did in 1925. And they in 1925 while they were busy making what it looked like in 1925 there were people sitting around whining and moaning that it didn’t look like what it looked like in 1895. And the people in 1895 had to listen to people whine about how it didn’t look like it did in 1865. The people in 1865 if they looked around real hard could find people who whined that it was much better before the Gold Rush.
    Life moves on.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    The reason there is sourdough bread is that San Francisco is the kind of place where people don’t blink at paying 8 bucks for a small loaf of bread.

    jimsf Reply:

    NYC was ruined too. I had this conversation with debbie harry last year. A new yorker if ever there was one. Her take on it ” Its happening all over the world. Its really sad. And its boring.” referring to the fact that every city around the world now offeres the same basic corporate mall experience.

    Theres a starbucks at the louvre for gods sake. I cant wait to spend 8k to visit france so I can feel like im in america.

    Michael Reply:

    http://acmebread.com/bread

    The sourdough baguette was $1.80 last time I picked one up at the Ferry Building. I remember when a street hot dog in NYC was $0.80, and that wasn’t that long ago, because I still have my Metrocard from that trip.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    All the stuff that you pine for, from when you were 25, had a bunch a crotchety late middle aged and senior citizens sitting off the side whining that the 25 year olds have ruined it all and why can’t it be like it was in 1955. Life moves on.

    datacruncher Reply:

    Herb Caen wrote in 1964 about changes happening then to San Francisco: “The old-timers think the newcomers are ruining the city, and newcomers regard the old-timers as a bunch of fuddy-duddies intent only on preserving a distant dream.”

    jonathan Reply:

    The reason there is sourdough bread is that San Francisco is the kind of place where people don’t blink at paying 8 bucks for a small loaf of bread.

    This, from the person who so likes to say: “I”d tell you to go fuck yourself, but you’d have to have a dick for that”.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    Now we know why you never get laid.

    jonathan Reply:

    Now we know why you never get laid.

    As it happens, I had an office-mate in New Zealand who was a good cook; and *very* glad to have gotten a starter of original, San Francisco sourdough.

    It’s world-famous and world-revered, despite your small-town upstate New York “Real America” (yes, in the Sarah Palin sense) bigotry.

    Mr. Cruikshank, I think it’s time to think seriously about banning Adirondacker12800.
    Aspersions on people’s sex lives and sexuality is simply not acceptable in civilized discourse.

    jonathan Reply:

    Roberrt Cruickshank,

    if nothing else, please do look up the US Supreme Court’s decisions on “fighting words”.
    (and my apologies if I mistyped your name earlier)

    Joe Reply:

    Hilarious.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    I can get sourdough bread up here, in more varieties than white and whole wheat. Because there are people around who don’t blink at paying 6 bucks for small loaf of bread. And I can get traditional baguettes and semolina and… and …. from many different bakeries. Not in the convenience store two blocks away but even in the tiny supermarket three blocks away. The medium sized supermarket 5 miles away has even more stuff and the ones ten miles away have their own bakeries. And carry the stuff from the small bakery a mile away that does stuff like Sourdough Russian-style Rye. And San Francisco style sourdough. It’s over rated. People who think it’s a wonder live in places where Wonder is the common bread.

    joe Reply:

    FWIW Yeast is local animal. SF’s climate has a native yeast producing a taste. That’s what SF’s bread is about.

    Culture a starter and move it to a different place and the starter’s SF yeast will be replaced with local yeast adapted to that local climate.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    which is why the local bakery here has starter air freighted to it regularly.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    There are pizzerias that import New York tap water just to have that taste. There are no limits to cultural cringe.

    Reedman Reply:

    If there wasn’t a specific clause in Prop 1A preventing a HSR stop in Los Banos, the talk about Fresno would be much more muted.

  4. jimsf
    Jul 9th, 2014 at 20:19
    #4

    q;uestion- the authority website cleary shows the initial operating segment will be merced to the san fernando valley – ( and now we know that means BUR) One, that means that anyone who would normally travel to BUR to use that aiport for in state flights, could conceivably switch to hsr, considering the rail connections up north while taking longer, may actually drop them off closer to their real destination. and considering that there needs to be an hsr section including tunnels, to union station, how hard would it be to, in the interim, electrify the few miles of metrolink from BUR to LAUS in order to take the hsr trainsets into LAUS, at reduced speed.

    BruceMcF Reply:

    It would seem to depend on whether its a technical challenge or a political challenge … AFAIU, the most common engineering obstacles are clearances, and given the lead time from when the final construction segment of the IOS is funded until the first service should be ample time to solve any clearance issues as engineering problems and implement the solution.

    If its a political challenge, that makes it harder, until the services are running, at which point the ability to push things through “so the HSR can get through to Union Station” will gain substantial political leverage.

    jimsf Reply:

    WIth it terminating so so close at that point i think the political will to take it all the way will be there. If it were the bay area though, it would take 20 years, once it was decided to move forward, for all 900 parties involved to placate one another and each others 4022 assorted constiuencies, before starting construction. I think its because people in the north are very emotional and people in the south have no emotions ;-)

    nslander Reply:

    Meh.

    BruceMcF Reply:

    There’s also the bigger decision centers in the City of LA, LA County and Orange County (aka Disney County) … if we were to imagine LA County and the City of LA make a deal on the LOSSAN from Bob Hope HSR through LA Union Station to Anaheim, and Orange County goes along (after heavy pressure from Disney), there’s a lot more pressure to go along to get along from the other cities of the LA Basin.

    jimsf Reply:

    a single seat ride at standard speeds from burbank to anaheim would be better than nothing

    EJ Reply:

    You mean like the Surfliner? Hopefully once the run-through tracks at LAUS are done you won’t have the 15 minute layover there. At that point the relevant authorities should really consider running all Surfliners from Chatsworth to San Diego.

    EJ Reply:

    With of course the existing trains that continue to Santa Barbara and SLO – but I feel the San Fernando Valley could generate more traffic if it had more regular Surfliner service.

    jimsf Reply:

    I meant electrifying burbank to anaheim or at least la, even without hsr upgrades to track, so that an hsr trainset could proceed beyound burbank at regular speed rather than having people transfer.

    Ted Judah Reply:

    The wacky part is that initially the IOS was to end at Sylmar because Villaraigosa wanted to have the Red Line subway connect to it….

    Now we have the real possibility of an orphan HSR station connected to nothing, not Metrolink, not Metro Rail, not transit-oriented development…and the discussion about the people empowered to connect from hours away in Fresno or Bakersfield? How about connecting to the 20 million souls in Southern California first?

    Donk Reply:

    Well if they actually start digging, there will be a renewed interest in connecting the Red Line to BUR. If this happens, BUR will turn into a real airport. It will probably steal some good (i.e., non CA) routes from LAX.

    BruceMcF Reply:

    “Not connected to Metrolink” in what sense? The Metrolink Bob Hope / San Fernando Blvd station is going to be right next door.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    Bruce if they work it right it will be right across the platform.

    Ted Judah Reply:

    Once they start service on the IOS, Metrolink will likely surrender the Antelope Valley line. And even if they don’t, how does anyone connect to another mode of transit without getting on Metrolink an making another transfer?

    BruceMcF Reply:

    @adirondacker ~ as before, three tracks don’t give you a cross platform transfer on an island platform, since an island only directly serves two platform tracks. So that might work fine for an Express to Santa Clarita somewhere and Palmdale, but for the Sylmar / Newhall / Santa Claria / Via Princessa local, there’s a third platform needed. Oh, and look, there is the place they are building it, right next door.

    @Ted ~ why, exactly, would Metrolink stop running the Antelope Valley service? Once it connects to the IOS, the political support for keeping it will grow. It might give up the Via Princessa to Lancaster part of the corridor, but doing so would allow an increase in frequency of the service, at lower cost.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    one of the overwhelming virtues of buses that BRT advocates love to harp on is that buses can go almost anywhere.

    Paul Dyson Reply:

    http://www.latimes.com/opinion/readersreact/
    Also in the print edition

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    It would be really silly to put in one island and one side platform and then come back in 15 years and rip it all out to put in two islands. Even if they do there’s at least one same direction of travel to be had. or two islands and three tracks would give at least one direction with a Barcelona track in the middle of the two also. But then again if the frequency on the local train is so low that they can get away with one track it’s so shitty that only desperate people use it and if they have to go up and over or down and over it won’t matter much because there won’t be many of them.

    Ted Judah Reply:

    Donk, the runway at Burbank is too short to handle large aircraft, I think. Only seen 737s there.

    Bruce, the Santa Clarita based ridership for Metrolink isn’t worth the cost. Santa Clarita actually has employment centers and other destinations that would almost support light rail.

    Clem Reply:

    Nice one Paul, Electrolink!

    BruceMcF Reply:

    adirondacker12800: “But then again if the frequency on the local train is so low that they can get away with one track it’s so shitty that only desperate people use it”

    The claim is either simply untrue, or else is true by definition, defining a sufficiently large share of the population as made up of “desperate people” that mostly “desperate people” riding the train is ample justification for running it.

    “… and if they have to go up and over or down and over it won’t matter much because there won’t be many of them.”

    Just an empty claim with nothing to back it up other than a determination to take a contrary position.

    Ted: “Bruce, the Santa Clarita based ridership for Metrolink isn’t worth the cost. Santa Clarita actually has employment centers and other destinations that would almost support light rail.”

    Isn’t that status quo bias? When the IOS opens, ridership in both directions toward Bob Hope HSR is going to increase … ridership on an HSR is going to have a more noticeable impact on a 14 round trip frequencies per day service than on a 40-60 frequencies per day service. And the local value attached to the service will go up out of proportion to the increase in ridership.

    And it seems as if you are treating a local heavy rail service on an existing corridor as more expensive than a light rail corridor that would require an all-new light rail alignment. That only works if the investment in the light rail is assumed to drop down as a gift from on high.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    People with cars who are willing to hang out for an hour to take the train 10 miles to a station where there is plenty of cheap parking don’t have their car for some reason. If you want the frequency to be high enough to attract people who own cars who are going someplace where parking is cheap one track is not enough. People farther away, in oh lets say Palmdale, don’t need to wait around an hour for the train that comes once an hour. they can use the same platform to get on an HSR train. If the HSR train is only running once an hour it doesn’t make sense to build billions of dollars worth of tunnels.

    Ted Judah Reply:

    The track is already there. You put the catenary above it and you run the light rail from Burbank to Santa Clarita. Sure there are capital costs but ridership isn’t going to improve if the only destination. Is downtown LA.

    BruceMcF Reply:

    Where is the track already there? The only track I see running from Burbank to Santa Clarita is the heavy rail track which is shared with freight trains. Now, there is space in the corridor for additional track, north of the tunnel, but just the new tunnel for the LRT, or an LRT viaduct that gets a long enough running start to not need a tunnel, would be a massive increase in capital costs.

    And the Metrolink Antelope Valley service is able to run into LA US via the LOSSAN … how is the light rail going to get to LA US?

    And of course ridership is going to improve with both the connection to the IOS, and with the additional services made possible by turning at Via Princessa … additional valuable connections and additional frequencies are two of the things that improve ridership for a local rail service.

    BruceMcF Reply:

    “People with cars who are willing to hang out for an hour to take the train 10 miles to a station where there is plenty of cheap parking don’t have their car for some reason.”

    That’s a red herring ~ the magical San Fernando Valley where there is no traffic or parking congestion at any destination does not exist, and the hang out an hour to take the train is your standard false dichotomy between services every ten minutes and services every hour. You want to make a persuasive argument, building it by mixing fantasy and logical fallacy might not be the most effective approach.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    Alright, I have a car that runs. I can schedule my life around a once an hour train or I can drive somewhere in 30 minutes. What do I do? If traffic is so execrable that I can’t drive there in 30 minutes it’s equally execrable for my neighbors and there’s more than a train load of us once an hour. If all you can do is scare up a train load of people once an hour traffic isn’t bad.

    joe Reply:

    I have a car that runs. I can schedule my life around a once an hour train or I can drive somewhere in 30 minutes.

    Best to spend the 30 minutes driving – it’s probably a productive use of your time.

    BruceMcF Reply:

    Its the “I have a car that runs. I can schedule my life round a once an hour train …” that IS the red herring … not everyone has a car, not everyone that has a car would rather waste 30 minutes of their time doing their own driving when there is a readily available alternative that allows them to do what they want in that half hour while someone else drives, and there is no law of nature that says a train has to either by a once an hour train or a train every ten minutes or less. And of course a populations increase in an area, what was once adequate parking for the highest demand times of day becomes congested parking.

    Assuming away every real world factor that do not support the conclusion doesn’t actually eliminate those factors from real life.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    People who don’t have cars don’t live in the suburbs where everybody drives. If the train is coming every 15 minutes the passing sidings all merge together into a fourth track.

    Joe Reply:

    People who don’t have cars don’t live in the suburbs where everybody drives

    Funny you have to add the phrase in bold.
    I think it proves a point.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    Having the bus comes through once an hour to ferry people to the train station where the train comes once an hour isn’t going to change it into a place where people without cars want to live.

    BruceMcF Reply:

    But we’ve already established that this is an area where the buses comes through more frequently than once an hour, so “Having the bus comes through once an hour to ferry people to the train station where the train comes once an hour” was known to be a moot point before it was posted.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    Places that have buses that run every 15 minutes don’t look like the places that are so low density or so small that they scare up enough passengers to have the train stop once an hour.

    Joey Reply:

    It won’t quite work, unfortunately, at least not without additional tracks. Between Burbank and LA, Metro owns the tracks but an agreement with UP mandates one non-electrified, non-HSR track. Between LA and Fullerton you’re on BNSF’s mainline. It’s less certain there, but it’s a reasonable bet that (a) BNSF won’t allow lightweight electric trains to share their tracks and (b) The pantographs needed for high speed operation aren’t flexible enough to reach wires high enough for double stack freight trains, which BNSF runs regularly.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    High reach pantographs for the low speed places where California wants to putter around for next few decades deciding on what color to tint the concrete and high speed pantographs for the places where the train will be going fast?

    Paul Dyson Reply:

    Redondo Jc to Fullerton needs to be quad track, should have been done when triple tracking was done. Not sure if UP would be placated with high clearance catenary, otherwise we’ll need an additional track from Burbank Junction to Dayton tower (or where it used to be). I think we may well end up with dual pantographs. That’s the price to be paid for “blending” and the efficiency of double stacks and F+ auto carriers.
    I don’t know if there are any newer data but documents I saw about 4 years ago indicated a time savings of only about 4 minutes with a dedicated HS track LAUS to Anaheim. Anyone know better?

    Paul Druce Reply:

    I don’t know if there are any newer data but documents I saw about 4 years ago indicated a time savings of only about 4 minutes with a dedicated HS track LAUS to Anaheim. Anyone know better?

    Sounds about right. 31.1 track miles right now to CP Mission, mostly at 79mph. 5.56 seconds of difference which means just under three minutes of time savings possible. Of course it isn’t all 79mph, and you aren’t instantaneously at speed either, but four minutes sounds right, possibly on the high end.

    Paul Druce Reply:

    Clarification: 5.56 seconds of difference assuming 90mph on dedicated HS track

    Joe Reply:

    Dedicated track is important.
    I can tell you the calculated trip time on UP track from San Jose to Gilroy but UP reserves the right to bump commuter rail or mandatedflow downs without warning. It gets old fast.

    BruceMcF Reply:

    I assume by High Speed operation you mean over 150mph?

    Could do as a version of what the French did to reach Les Sables d’Olonne before the electrification was finished … except rather than a diesel, use an electric locomotive that is designed to reach catenary that is strung above the height of double stacks.

    http://www.railfaneurope.net/pix/fr/diesel/72000/blue/TGV_Vendee/TGV_Vendee_01.jpg

    Clem Reply:

    Or simply stack the high-speed train onto the container cars and use a team of donkeys to haul it to LAUS. Bonus: the run-through tracks mean the donkeys don’t need to change ends!

    jonathan Reply:

    Bruce,
    Go directly to jail, do not pass go, do not collect $200. That picture is an SNCF CC 72000-class. It’s a diesel. (The bulbous, dirty roof, combined with absence of a visible panto, is a dead give-away).

    Excluding the Chunnel, are you *sure* that SNCF/RFF has catenary high enough for double-stack containers? Or even any track with loading-gauge for double-stack containers? All I know of is the Chunnel, and the link between Rotterdam and Germany. I’d be glad to be wrong (but surprised).

    BruceMcF Reply:

    I think a locomotive would be a more effective short term measure, until they can finish the dedicated electrified passenger tracks.

    Which is exactly what SNCF thought when faced with the choice between stopping at a less attractive place that could be reached on its own power and stopping at the far more desirable destination station, in the period before the electrification to Les Sables d’Olonne was completed. I’ll leave it to you to ask them whether they considered stacking the TGV on a container car and using a team of donkeys to haul the TGV to the coastal resort destination, but whatever range of options they considered, that was the one they picked as the best.

    jonathan Reply:

    Wikipedia.fr says that 3 ldiesel ocomotives were modified (with Scharfenberg couplers) to haul the TGV-Atlantuqie to Les Sables D’Olonne, until 2004: CC 72061, 72062, 72064 . As a result, those locomotives had low duty-cycle (low mileage) and were among last of the class to be withdrawn in September 2009.

    No mention of pre-existing overhead catenary at all. Nevermind double-stack clearance.

    Batteries. SNCF should have used batteries. *Hundreds of tons* of batteries. There, I “made a positive contribution”. Riiight.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    Are donkeys three phase or are they single phase – for the HEP? Are they 480 volt? or can they be modified to supply whatever the HSR trains will be using?

    If they are going to move the container cars, with locomotives, to the place where the donkeys get dropped off why not just use the locomotives? They’ll either have pantographs that reach that high or will be diesels. Wasn’t there something in the Union Station plans about putting the diesel commuter trains under the electric trains? so no worries about losing the ambiance of diesel fumes.
    And donkey emissions aren’t the nicest thing to have in the train station. They can’t read the signs about avoiding that while in the station.

    jimsf Reply:

    It might be possible to harness the donkey emissions to use as fuel for the frieght locos. Maybe a technical could devise a system.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    much more efficient to use the biomass as fuel directly. I hear they used to have locomotives that could do that.

    BruceMcF Reply:

    jonathan: “Wikipedia.fr says that 3 ldiesel ocomotives were modified (with Scharfenberg couplers) to haul the TGV-Atlantuqie to Les Sables D’Olonne, until 2004: CC 72061, 72062, 72064 . As a result, those locomotives had low duty-cycle (low mileage) and were among last of the class to be withdrawn in September 2009.”

    Yes, as stated, they used diesel locomotives to get to the desired terminus until the work to allow the TGV to get there on its own power was completed.

    “No mention of pre-existing overhead catenary at all. Nevermind double-stack clearance.”

    Good thing too, otherwise I would have been mistaken when I originally said they used a diesel locomotive to get to the terminus. My point above (and previously) being that the French used the best traction available for the corridor, rather than terminating short of the terminus while waiting for the TGV catenary to be completed.

    If, as hypothesized above, an Electrolink is first provided on track shared with freight and therefore with higher clearance catenary, then until the dedicated passenger express track is completed with the HSR-compatible catenary, attaching an electric locomotive and hauling the HSR on that Electrolink corridor to LA US, or LA US and Anaheim, would be a perfectly reasonable interim step to take.

    As far as Clem adopting a “not invented here” attitude to a strategy that rail professionals have implemented with success by an organization that ran its first Express HSR service three decades ago, I’ll let him explain why he’s mocking the rail professionals at SNCF as being a bunch of idiots.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    Electric locomotives aren’t cheap, Neither are diesels for that matter. Putting two pantographs on a few locomotives would probably be cheaper. Raising a pantograph and then lowering the other one is is a lot faster than hitching up a different locomotive.

    Clem Reply:

    It isn’t the rail professionals at SNCF that I mock. It is those who would compare Los Angeles to les Sables-d’Olonne (population 16,000)

    jonathan Reply:

    Bruce,

    i read what you posted at least 5 times. Only on the 6th or more, did i see that *perhaps* your dependent clause was meant to refer to CHSrA, not SNCF.

    Bruce, are you actively trying to mislead? By following your “except” with the picture of the SNCF diesel?

    I leave the comparison of Los Angeles, to a small French seaside holiday town, to our local Francophone
    .

    BruceMcF Reply:

    @Clem ~ if your point is that “Sables-d’Olonne is not the same as LA Union Station”, unless your claim is that its MORE IMPORTANT as a destination than LA Union Station, then you are undermining your argument and buttressing mine … if its worthwhile to adopt a transitional expedient to get to le Sables-d’Olonne, then it is even more worthwhile to do so to get to LA Union Station and Anaheim.

    Nobody serious would suggest that is the optimal solution, but if its the best available solution before the permanent infrastructure is completed, it would certainly serve as an transitional expedient.

    Your suggestion that there is no pragmatic difference between taking the best practicable way to get to LA Union Station in the scenario that Joey laid out and hauling the HS Train by donkey is empty hyperbole.
    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

    @jonathan ~ yes, of course its a diesel ~ why would I have said SNCF used a diesel locomotive to get to the terminus they wanted to reach if they had used some other source of motive power?

    But the scenario for Joey’s claim that the pantographs won’t work with high catenary and so the HST is necessarily stuck at Bob Hope HSR is that there IS overhead power ~ the power lines cannot be “too high to reach” which actually existing in the first place ~ and you’d clearly use electric for that task if its on a corridor that has electric power throughout.

    @adirondacker12800: “Electric locomotives aren’t cheap, Neither are diesels for that matter. Putting two pantographs on a few locomotives would probably be cheaper. Raising a pantograph and then lowering the other one is is a lot faster than hitching up a different locomotive.”

    Of course ~ obviously if its practicable to add pantographs to the HS Train supplied for the California HSR, that’s going to be cheaper than a loco haul, and with fewer delays as well.

    Remember that the context here is Joey’s claim: “The pantographs needed for high speed operation aren’t flexible enough to reach wires high enough for double stack freight trains, which BNSF runs regularly.”

    … IN WHICH CASE it would be possible to haul the HS Train on the corridor with electric locomotives, so EVEN IF the claim is true, the conclusion that it makes it impossible for the HS Trains to get to LA Union Station does not follow.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    Bruce, I just saw, either at my place or on Twitter, a proposal for a tram-train in Chicago. My response to it was similar to Clem’s response to the proposal to tow HSR to LA with a diesel loco. Both solutions were developed for low-population, low-ridership environments. In larger cities, the projected ridership justifies electrifying the full route from the start (in your case), and connecting the commuter lines with RER tunnels (in the Chicago tram-train case).

    BruceMcF Reply:

    In Joey’s scenario, the route is electrified, its the dedicated passenger tracks that have not yet been completed. And the issue is not whether the construction of those tracks is justified, its whether they are completed ~ just as in the example in France, since its not like they were planning on hauling the TGV with a diesel locomotive indefinitely, its rather that in their analysis it was preferable not to wait until the electrification was completed.

    Indeed, taking a less optimistic scenario than Joey’s, if there is not the electrification of the mixed passenger/freight tracks that Joey assumes, it would bear analyzing whether to haul the IOS to LA Union Station with a diesel locomotive.

    If the objection is that “ideally we wouldn’t do that” … that just amounts to saying “ugly makeshifts are ugly”, and yes, in a perfect world we would never have to consider recourse to a ugly makeshifts. But on empirical observation, we do not live in a perfect world.

    As far as the tram-train, there’s lots of parts of greater Chicago where a tram-train could be an appropriate solution to include for consideration, alongside pluuggable hyrid electric buses, trolley buses, aeroubus and etc. … but you don’t start with the mode and look where to use it, you look at the transport task and look for appropriate modes. If its downtown Chicago, I would wonder where the passenger rail corridor exists with sufficient capacity to carry a very high frequency of tram-trains, and whether the additional capacity of conventional mass transit might not be a better use of that corridor, which would leave a conventional light rail corridor with a transfer station to a conventional heavy rail corridor.

    Joey Reply:

    As far as Burbank-LA is concerned, I don’t think there’s a huge issue. There only needs to be one non-electrified track and most of the ROW is wide enough for that. Track and electrification are relatively cheap – grade separations are usually the expensive part. It’s really LA-Anaheim (or LA-Fullerton really) that absolutely won’t work for blending.

    Donk Reply:

    They should also run some Surfliners past Downtown San Diego thru to the border. There is a lot of San Diego south of Downtown San Diego.

    However, they may need to do two things to make it viable: (1) cut & cover the tracks through downtown (the trains currently have to go like 5 mph along that stretch due to all the pedestrians); and (2) tunnel thru Miramar Hill to significantly cut travel times past Solana Beach.

    Judge Moonbox Reply:

    Perhaps you could also build a station in Tijuana with a preclearance inspection station (like in major Canadian airports) so that people get their passports stamped before they get on the northbound trains. Mexico currently has no PSAs, but they’re planning one in Cancun, so I don’t see any nationalistic resentment to the concept.

    Observer Reply:

    Very good idea. A HSR line between not only Los Angeles and San Diego, but between those cities and Tijuana makes sense. It is the busiest border crossing in the world; the ridership would obviously be there. It would attract Mexican investment also.

    Donk Reply:

    Well they are currently building a cross-border airport terminal at TJ. Why not have a cross-border HSR station.

    http://www.utsandiego.com/news/2014/Apr/17/border-crossing-airport-tijuana-san-diego/

    BruceMcF Reply:

    Cut and cover or trench and cap? Isn’t there a freight yard down just south of Petco park? Wouldn’t a capped trench be better if diesel locomotives are going through than a cut and cover tunnel?

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    To make a cut and cover tunnel they dig a trench and put a cap on it. To make a capped trench they make a cut and put a cover on it. What’s makes them different?

    BruceMcF Reply:

    You know where there is the gap between the top of the trench sidewall and the cap in a capped trench … that gap is not there in a cut and cover tunnel since, after all, that gap not being there is what qualifies the cut and cover tunnel as a tunnel.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    so that all the noise can escape from inside the trench, sounds like a plan!

    BruceMcF Reply:

    How much noise depends on a variety of factors, including how straight the alignment is, the speed of the trains, whether there is any sound baffling treatment to the side walls, and whether there is some kind of continuous promenade or plaza on top of the caps (which would allow baffling underneath the promenade) in between the street and walkway overpasses. Obviously if a freight railroad builds a capped trench to their preferences on their money, its just open between the caps and there is zero baffling, just flat concrete walls … because they have no interest in anything but the transport benefit … so they tend to be as ugly as sin.

    Just don’t have the Transbay architect design the thing in an effort to make it prettier, since then the pedestrian promenade will look pretty in the renderings, at the expense of the functioning of the trench as a rail right of way.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    Concrete isn’t very good at transmitting sound. Reflecting sound that would be heading towards outer space on the other hand, it’s good at that. Unless there is hot air balloon hovering overhead there’s no one up there to hear the noise that radiates upward.
    Putting a promenade over the trench so people can take a walk through the exhaust from diesel locomotives? Sounds like another great plan.

    Clem Reply:

    Trenches are remarkably effective at damping train noise, nearly as effective as tunnels even without a cap of any sort.

    BruceMcF Reply:

    adirondacker12800: “Putting a promenade over the trench so people can take a walk through the exhaust from diesel locomotives? Sounds like another great plan.”

    Depends on the frequency of service, now doesn’t it? People in cities walk through the exhaust of combustion engines all the time.

    @Clem: the original purpose of the series of caps in a capped tunnel is, of course, the structural integrity of the trench walls. It wouldn’t be usual in the US to have anything above the caps except for road overpasses … just the caps themselves, the structural cross-supports at the top of the trench walls at regular intervals.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    If the service isn’t frequent why are they spending all that money to dig holes?
    If it’s not solid the pedestrians and bicyclists will have problems with falling through the holes.

    BruceMcF Reply:

    Typically what they do in similar situations, in these things called “bridges” and “overpasses”, is that there is some kind of structural element at the sides which prevents the people or vehicle passing overhead from falling off of the “bridge” or “overpass”. Also nowadays, in part due to the popularity of the Simpsons, some form of screening that prevents things from being thrown off of the overpass onto the traffic below.

    Similarly, for a pedestrian walkway or a cycleway paralleling the trench, it would be not uncommon for that to require less width than the right of way within the trench, and to have part of the pathway. There is also the additional available width of the trench wall itself and whatever space there may be available to that path at ground level outside of the trench wall. There, the structural design feature to prevent this “falling through” issue could well be the technology that they call “planters”, which have biological organisms called “plants” actually growing inside them in a growing medium often called ‘dirt”.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    If the trench has block long holes in the cap it’s no longer a cap. It’s a trench with lots of overpasses. Or an open cut with lots of overpasses. Or a hole with a bike path cantilevered over it.

    BruceMcF Reply:

    Obviously ~ it will still need them to be express tracks, and likely dedicated passenger express tracks.

    Donk Reply:

    While we are on the topic of the SFV, the Robbins Bill was rescinded yesterday. This means that they can now convert the Orange Line into Light Rail…if and when there is any money for it. Only way I would support this is if funds went to the 405 line first and if this actually makes it past Lankershim to downtown Burbank or BUR.

    http://la.curbed.com/archives/2014/07/its_now_legal_to_build_light_rail_in_the_san_fernando_valley.php

    Ted Judah Reply:

    There is, the trolley for that you know.

    Ted Judah Reply:

    Oops this was intended for your comment about San Diego.

    Donk Reply:

    The trolley is useless for longer distance travel. It pains me to use the trolley in SD. It seems like it was only built for leisure and not for “rapid” transit. Fortunately they are currently spending some money on modernizing the Blue Line to TJ. But even then, if you really want to travel across the SD region, the Coaster and/or Amtrak should cross thru Downtown. SD is a very long region, and Amtrak/Coaster can serve much of that linearly.

    Ted Judah Reply:

    It’s the curse of light rail, but it’s not as if there’s a way to share the ROW with the Coaster.

    Nathanael Reply:

    If you’re heading to Tijuana, it’s going to take a very long time anyway thanks to the border. If you’re heading to San Ysidro… well, it’s not THAT far from the Depot (15 miles), so it’s just not worth building separate express tracks for the few people who will care.

    BruceMcF Reply:

    It was built for local transit, not “rapid transit” but extending the Coaster further south would mean a lot more El’s (though I guess nowadays we are supposed to call them “viaducts” ~ I guess cause the goose was sold out) than we normally build nowadays for urban rapid transit … even if the Blue Line was PTC signaled and time sliced between the trolley and the Coaster, you’d need passing sections and some of them seem likely to be in inconvenient places for installed a central express track to pass at grade, and getting an El funded would be hard … and for the places where the freeway is getting in the way of what was a pre-existing line of transport and by rights ought to pay for a dive under that mess, forget about it.

    Donk Reply:

    Is there not any ROW between Downtown and TJ, aside from the Blue Line trolley tracks?

    Joey Reply:

    There’s a parallel freight ROW, but it ends just north of the Otay River. It’s also mostly single track and much of the southern section has fallen into disrepair.

    BruceMcF Reply:

    And the section through downtown is the slow at-grade section that discussion above is referring to.

    There’s a section of the ROW that the Blue Line trolley tracks run through where there is the main single track freight line and a second line branching off of it until it swings out of the corridor, but there may well not be four tracks worth of space for the entire distance, and even less at the trolley platforms.

    Nathanael Reply:

    There’s an old requirement in the original Orange Line funding that a bunch of the federal money has to be repaid unless the line is converted to light rail by some date or other (I forget what). I wonder if anyone remembers that…

    …anyway, repeal of the Robbins Bill is excellent news.

  5. JJJJ
    Jul 10th, 2014 at 09:26
    #5

    Only somewhat related at this reminded me of something…

    I’ve seen a lot less of the “we can’t afford this!!!” argument being thrown around as both the California and US budgets have improved.

    Shows the idiocy of thinking about a 100 year infrastructure project on a 3-4 year recession cycle.

    Zorro Reply:

    Agreed.

  6. RubberToe
    Jul 10th, 2014 at 16:51
    #6

    Latest construction update on the Transbay Terminal shows the last section of the 5′ thick mat slab for the trainbox lowest level being poured on September 6th. As of then the lowest level is done. Only additional work required for trains sitting there is a small extension that will be made in the Eastern end as part of teh DTX project.

    Link Warning (Actual progress here…):
    http://transbaycenter.org/uploads/2014/07/CAC-Construction-Update-period-ending-June-30.pdf

    Joey Reply:

    Oh nice they’re already installing the columns conveniently spaced to permanently fuck up pedestrian flow.

    Eric M Reply:

    Yeah, nice double columns they have in the center platform.

    Nathanael Reply:

    Never underestimate the ability of San Francisco to do things badly and expensively.

    Keith Saggers Reply:

    Any structure in SF will need concrete and steel columns

    Joey Reply:

    One could think for more than a couple of seconds about their placement relative to the platforms.

    BruceMcF Reply:

    But the columns in those places looked good in the 3D renderings of the model of the Transbay Center above, which seems to have been more important than how functional the train box was for its designated use.

    jonathan Reply:

    indeed. it’s a *political* problem, not a technical one. :)

    BruceMcF Reply:

    It was politics, including the political ineffectiveness of those aware of the technical problems, that resulted in the technical problems in the chosen design.

  7. RubberToe
    Jul 10th, 2014 at 17:05
    #7

    By the end of 2013, the Chinese high speed rail network exceeded 10,000km in length. Surely this must be the greatest boondoggle in the history of mankind, huh?

    All you smart guys up in the peninsula fighting California HSR care to tell us all about how dumb the Chinese are?

    RT

  8. Ted Judah
    Jul 10th, 2014 at 22:45
    #8

    Congratulations on your new home. I’ve lived here for almost two years but haven’t made that many friends yet, so pardon my zeal. However, compared to many of the posters here you genuinely sound like someone I would like to meet as opposed to say…well anyway…

    The story behind the PVSRR is that the Long range plan has light rail going up the 50 to EDH. You might wonder why, but the answer is because Folsom wants to expand south of the freeway and make a killing off the impact fees associated with the development. The other reason is because Folsom residents don’t want light rail passengers to wander freely about town. The want very little nexus between the residential parts of town and the stations because of the ability of light rail passengers who are homeless, mentally disturbed, or just the wrong color from disturbing the peace.

    Of course, they will argue many of the largest employers are along the 50 too, but the number of people riding the Folsom bus that currently connect is at best a handful of people.

    jimsf Reply:

    well up the freeway would work too then. But a rail link all the way up to placerville ( and a damn car pool lane extesnion for the love of god) would be nice.

    I dont know why anyone would ride a tourist train in that area. There is nothing interesting about EDH or CAmeron Park or that geography.

    Ted Judah Reply:

    It’s the American River Canyon where things get interesting. I would support HSR from Sacramento to Stateline and up to Reno. No shortage of demand on that route.

    Neil Shea Reply:

    Any discussion of sending the CC past Auburn? It looks like there are no logical stops before Truckee, 2.5 hours from Auburn (per Zepher schedule). You’d think that Reno would pay half the cost of running two trains per day each way — and some of the CnT or 1a connectivity funds could improve some track.

    jimsf Reply:

    i think it stopped at colfax before. but colfax, and soda in the winter are options

    BruceMcF Reply:

    A Reno service is on the CC’s long term projects wishlist. Expansion of capacity Oak to San Jose and the Salinas extension are ahead of that project in the queue, and the first in the queue has both funding and ongoing work progressing.

    Paul Dyson Reply:

    Unfunded wish list with no prospect of delivery
    UP says no
    If we can get d/t to Rocklin that will be the end of the line

    BruceMcF Reply:

    The wish list just got a new source of funds, but not enough on its own to get that far up the queue, and indeed as already discussed at length under a previous post, there are active efforts being made to undermine that.

  9. Robert S. Allen
    Jul 10th, 2014 at 23:50
    #9

    “Safe, Reliable” HSR (per 2008 Prop 1A) needs secure, grade-separated track, which Caltrain ain’t. Initial HSR to the Bay Area should end at San Jose, with seamless transfers there to Caltrain, CapCor, VTA, and BART.—

    Later via East Bay Mulford UP/Amtrak to Oakland and on to Sacramento, with Oakland transfer station at the BART overhead. Trains every four minutes or oftener trans-Bay in six minutes to Embarcadero in downtown San Francisco.—

    Much better, safer, more reliable, and lower cost than squandering more HSR funding on Caltrain.

    Zorro Reply:

    The French don’t seem to have a problem with mingling HSR with ordinary passenger at lower speeds below 125mph, grade separated HSR on the peninsula isn’t going to happen. HSR will be built, losers be damned.

    Zorro Reply:

    HSR can’t according to Prop1a stop at San Jose and transfer to non HSR. HSR will go thru Pacheco Pass, Altamont isn’t in the the plans, don’t like what I’ve typed, I don’t give a crap.

    Robert S. Allen Reply:

    I ask CHSRA to defer Blended Rail (HSR on Caltrain tracks north from San Jose) until total Caltrain grade separation is planned and funded from sources other than 1A bonds. We voted in 2008 for “Safe, Secure” HSR. Public safety trumps a “one-seat HSR ride” for San Franciscans.—

    Following the Amtrak route from San Jose to Oakland and Sacramento would serve more people better, more safely and reliably, and at lower cost in the interim – like for the next century. With the frequent BART trans-Bay service, even San Francisco would be better off.

    Zorro Reply:

    Isn’t grade separation in this case going to be the highways going under the tracks? Instead of at grade level? I think that is what is what the CHSRA wants, since it doesn’t disturb the row as much.

    Zorro Reply:

    Going to Oakland and Sacramento from San Jose isn’t part of HSR in Prop1a. It’s nice to speculate, but it isn’t happening.

    Clem Reply:

    There are a number of problems with Mr. Allen’s proposal, in order of increasing complication:

    1) the safety issue is blown out of proportion; HSR will be crashworthy
    2) there are a number of grade crossings on the Mulford line, too
    3) UP is unlikely to be a graceful host, and all the same “blending” issues will arise
    4) the BART tube is already saturated and will only get worse. The last thing needed is for HSR to dump more traffic into the tube.
    5) long term, the route from OAK to Sacramento is a terribly slow alignment and will require tunneling on the same scale as Altamont to straighten out for HSR. A new central valley HSR trunk line to SAC is a much better solution, with a branch into the Bay Area from Tracy to Fremont.

    He is right that we must plan for the next century.

    Robert S. Allen Reply:

    Clem: Thanks for your well-reasoned reply.—

    1) The Titanic was unsinkable. Bourbonnais happened. New York’s World Trade Center was leveled. My favorite childhood chum was killed at a C&NW grade crossing. No grade crossing can be totally crashworthy, and the severity rises with increased train speeds. I do not blow safety out of proportion. I appreciate the efforts of planners on reducing grade crossing hazards.—

    2) The environment at Mulford line grade separations will make them relatively inexpensive.—

    3) Even with a 30-year career in engineering and operations for three railroads now part of UP, I would not venture to predict their stand. It could be that they would be receptive to totally grade separating their Mulford line and crossings in Oakland. Conceivably HSR north from San Jose could be Capitol Corridor with no catenary.

    4) BART is replacing its car fleet and should be able to accommodate the traffic.

    5) SP valuation maps have long projected line changes along the Bay, although they not be viable today. An HSR tube between Port Costa and Benicia would cut several miles and the Martinez bridge from the alignment. Oakland to Sacramento via the Altamont is much longer than today’s A line.—

    I would really like to see a passenger transfer station at the BART overpass in Oakland. It would do much to lure I-80 drivers to Capitol Corridor. The present transfer in Richmond has little appeal.

    Thanks again for your studied comments on the concept I have proposed.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    BART doesn’t go to lots of places on the Peninsula. Why is going through a grade crossing in a Caltrain train safer than going through a grade crossing in some other kind of train?

    Robert S. Allen Reply:

    It isn’t, particularly in push mode. But 1-A bonds were for “Safe, Reliable” HSR. Hence the idea of grade separating the UP/Amtrak route from San Jose to Oakland and Sacramento at reasonable cost for Capitol Corridor and a possible joint trainway with HSR. Eliminate the grade crossings
    completely. Maybe Santa Clara and San Mateo Counties should annex to BART, grade separate Caltrain/HSR/UP, and convert Caltrain to BART. But that is not what I proposed.

    Neil Shea Reply:

    Why dont we just grade separate the Peninsula corridor with 1a funds? Win/Win. And/or would you advocate the MTC support prioritizing regional/state/federal support to complete the improvements to the Peninsula corridor which the legislature’s compromise has started?

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    MUs don’t have push mode. They don’t have pull mode for that matter.

    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?

    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 has posted the exact same inane comment 10+ times. How many times do folks need to respond?

    BruceMcF Reply:

    Zorro, you are contradicting yourself … “grade separated HSR on the peninsula isn’t going to happen.” contradicts “HSR will be built, losers be damned.”

    Of course grade separated HSR is going to be built on the peninsula ~ if the peninsula gets off its rear end and works for better local outcomes it won’t be the “Great Wall of China” of pensinula nimby fever dreams, but it sure as hell it going to be grade separated.

    Not the total segregation between HSR and all other rail that Judge K. advocated, obviously, but certainly grade separated.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    why is getting off the HSR train and getting on Caltrain safer than sending the HSR train to the same places the Caltrain train would be going to?

    swing hanger Reply:

    Grade separated track is inherently safer than one riddled with crossings. Shared track with commuter trains is going to lead to more delays to the HSR service down the line than separate track, due to domino effects caused by a commuter train delay or accident (secondary delays). That said, political and financial reality dictate the blended plan.

    Neil Shea Reply:

    Demand will soon encourage the buildout of tracks 3 & 4. Increased demand will also accelerate community investment in grade seps — Palo Alto has already asked Santa Clara County leaders to modify their proposed new transit tax to provide more funding for CalTrain grade seps. (Same as the way to build muscles is to use them.)

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    But he’s not saying any of that. He’s saying that running HSR trains on the existing track is unsafe. Why is it unsafe but putting passengers on a Caltrain train that goes to the same grade crossings safer?

    Clem Reply:

    I think he might confuse high-speed trains with BART beer cans that have little or no crash worthiness. The HSTs will of course meet all applicable FRA regulations including those pertaining to grade crossing safety.

    BruceMcF Reply:

    The part of the blended plan dictated by political reality is the shared operation of two track sections … shared operation should be four track sections with HSR priority on the Express tracks and the additional capacity of the Express tracks versus the dedicated High Speed corridors used to allow greater capacity for the local services.

    The flip side of that political reality is that once the camel’s nose is in the tent, its not going to be long until the whole camel is in the tent … along the lines that Neil Shea notes, the operation of the service will modify the political reality which currently presents so many obstacles.

  10. joe
    Jul 11th, 2014 at 08:13
    #10

    Paul Dyson writes a letter. See “Electrolink” used in a sentence.

    http://www.latimes.com/opinion/readersreact/la-le-0710-thursday-high-speed-rail-burbank-palmda-20140710-story.html

    “Electrolink”

    Clem Reply:

    Electrolink is a great brand! Also a great name for a new blog.

    Joe Reply:

    Oh who, oh who would know enough about Socal to start a blog??
    Hmmmmm.

    Paul Dyson Reply:

    It started with Electrolink North Sacramento Stockton San Jose San Francisco
    I’d better copywrite it toute de suite

    Reedman Reply:

    You should trademark Electrolink in reference to railway equipment.
    It is already trademarked in reference to
    “ELECTRIC CORDS IN THE FORM OF CHAINS”
    as well as some other uses.

    synonymouse Reply:

    I like it, but then I think LA light and heavy transit rail should be renamed “Pacific Electric” to rub it in.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    No!

    Explanation: Pacific Electric was the longer-range suburban service. The Los Angeles Railway, i.e. the Yellow Car, carried more people, running narrow-gauge streetcars serving the inner neighborhoods. A major problem of new North American rail systems, including LA’s, is overreliance on long-range lines serving the suburbs, and indifference to the needs of people in urban neighborhoods. In LA, this manifests itself in funding the Foothills Extension and Crenshaw ahead of the Wilshire subway and the Regional Connector. All this talk of bringing back Pacific Electric contributes to the practice of ignoring shorter-range ridership.

    Eric Reply:

    Crenshaw is an urban neighborhood, not a suburb.

    You should have said “dense neighborhoods”, or “neighborhoods where transit ridership is high”.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    Yeah, fair enough.

    BruceMcF Reply:

    Excellent letter, Paul is to be commended.

    jimsf Reply:

    Its not an excellent letter and its not true or accurate

    Paul Dyson Reply:

    Inaccuracies,if any, are human. But falsehoods are objectionable and being accused of writing one or more is unacceptable without substantiation dear jimsf
    Please explain your comment

    jimsf Reply:

    acutally my mistake as I read the second letter as being part of your letter.

    Paul Dyson Reply:

    Thank you

    BruceMcF Reply:

    Which is the untruths and inaccuracies:

    “The California High-Speed Rail Authority has at last shown some common sense in expediting construction of the Burbank-Palmdale segment. On a project of this size and scope, it was always crucial to prioritize building segments that could provide useful transportation on their own while the rest of the system gets built.”

    This looks to me like it stands up. It was critical that the first section be one that can be used for intercity rail, like the Fresno/Bakersfield section can be.

    “Now Metro and the Orange County Transportation Authority can exploit that by electrifying and upgrading existing tracks to give us “Electrolink” from south Orange County to Palmdale via L.A.’s Union Station. This will take advantage of the new run-through tracks at Union Station and give passengers a one-seat ride between multiple stations.”

    Its a tremendous gift to the rest of California for Metro and the Orange County Transportation Authority to take on the billions of dollars of work that this will entail. It would mean except for an above ground segment between the two tunnel sections, CHSRA could focus on the Close the Gap segment, then turn immediately to completing the Bay to Basin, while Metro and Orange County do the heavy lifting between Palmdale and Anaheim. Quite a lovely proposal.

    “Equally important, this will reduce the number of diesel trains operating in the region. Even new, “clean” diesels emit pollutants and burn fossil fuels.”

    This seems straightforward.

    “Equally important, this will reduce the number of diesel trains operating in the region. Even new, “clean” diesels emit pollutants and burn fossil fuels.”

    And this is both true and accurate standing on its own, independent of the rest of the letter.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    A twofer! the money that LA sends to the state doesn’t have to spent on LA. If the state isn’t spending money LA that’s more LA money that can be spent on the hinterlands!

    Paul Dyson Reply:

    I think a misunderstanding has arisen
    Chsra wil build burbank to Palmdale as they are proposing to do
    OCTA and lacmta will electrify their respective sections south of Burbank
    Sorry if that was not clear

    jimsf Reply:

    and that make good sense.

    Paul Dyson Reply:

    In retreading my letter the sense should be clear as to who pays for what fromthefirst paragraph

    jimsf Reply:

    I have said beofre that metro link should just go ahead and electrify this line so it can be beneficial to local travel and allow hsr trains to proceed, even if at regualr speed, through to anaheim with minimum investment.
    Once they see the benefits, it might move them to electrify other lines.

    Paul Dyson Reply:

    I agree, that’s why your comment rather took me aback

    jimsf Reply:

    If you had electic ANA-PMD and MCD-BFD and SFC-SJC you would only need BFD-PMD and SJC-MCD and your done. Even if all of it wasn’t fully high speed, you could do imcremental upgrades until is was, while being single seat useful in the meantime.

    Paul Dyson Reply:

    Given where we are today that’s what I would do
    Only difference is that I would not use Anaheim as the south end of the wires
    Better to go to the end of the double track where OCTA currently operates its Metrolink shuttle at Laguna Niguel

    jimsf Reply:

    or do IE first along the 10 corridor which is a nightmare

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    Wires are expensive and dragging them out to someplace that relatively speaking doesn’t have a lot of origins or destinations shouldn’t be the first thing that comes to mind. Or the second third fourth etc.

    Paul Dyson Reply:

    Amplify

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    why do they want to spend all that money to send electric trains out there?

    Clem Reply:

    you would only need BFD-PMD and SJC-MCD and your done.

    Understatement of the year!

    Paul Dyson Reply:

    Got to think positive!

    BruceMcF Reply:

    Recipe for Grizzly Bear Soup. “First obtain one large Grizzly Bear, then clean and dress it.”

    Is this going ahead and building all three HSR Train tunnels between Palmdale and Sylmar, or it is somehow going electric between Sylmar and Newhall and between Via Princessa and Palmdale without building the HS Train tunnels?

    Since if you have to build all of them, you are looking for the caterers version of Grizzly Bear Soup, where you have to obtain three large Grizzly Bears.

    If you build your plan around either the lower tunnel or the two upper ones, you still seem to need Federal rail funding to be unlocked, which doesn’t appear to be happening until 2017 at the earliest.

    Clem Reply:

    There are at least four tunnels on PMD-BUR, not three. See PDF page 59 of the latest SAA.

    (assuming SR14 E/W hybrid)
    The first tunnel just south of the San Andreas fault is 7 miles long and climbs from Palmdale into the San Gabriels. It is tied for the longest tunnel in the entire California high-speed rail system as currently planned.
    The second is just south of the pass, another 3.2 miles
    The third is a bit further down the hill, 1.3 miles
    The fourth is the Santa Susanna tunnel in Santa Clarita, which crosses the San Gabriel fault underground (not at grade). This one is also a record 7 miles long, possibly longer (8.9 miles, we have a new title holder!) if NIMBYs prevail in Sand Canyon.

    This small number of tunnels still requires very large earthworks… based on topography I think there is at least another mile of tunnel required, but those are currently planned as deep open cuts.

    18 to 20 miles of tunnel, and that’s for only half a mountain crossing (the other half is through the Tehachapis, or BFD-PMD in jimsf’s understatement). Gonna need a lot more Grizzly Bears for this soup!

    I still don’t think people grasp quite how difficult it will be to build the southern mountain crossing, and what a misguided idea it is to treat Palmdale as the Center of the Universe.

    You’re going to have to think lots of positive thoughts, Paul.

    BruceMcF Reply:

    @Clem, yes, that’s right, I was merging the second and third together in my mind. AFAIR, as far as independent utility goes, the three are a unit, since the available connections to the Antelope Valley corridor are on the PMD side of one and the BUR side of three. So its the ~7 miles of tunneling and crossing a fault underground in one unit of independent utility, and ~11.5 miles of tunneling in the other unit of independent utility.

    jimsf Reply:

    well, if you have caltrain hsr ready from sf to sj and you have merced to bakersfield ready and you have palmdale to la or anaheim ready, then that only leaves bakersfiled to palmdale and san jose to merced/chowchilla right?

    Paul Dyson Reply:

    Those sections are rather more vertical than horizontal

    Paul Dyson Reply:

    16 late from Wasco on 704

    Clem Reply:

    If you’re drawing lines on a map of California, yes. Except HSR isn’t lines on a map; the sections you mention cross mountains and are thus quite difficult and expensive to build.

    SJC-MCD contains 11 miles of tunnel and 6 miles of viaduct.
    BFD-PMD contains 16 miles of tunnel and 12 miles of viaduct.

    And your scenario assumes PMD-BUR has already been built.
    PMD-BUR contains 18-20 miles of tunnel and 3 miles of viaduct.

    BruceMcF Reply:

    This final is a critical assumption ~ there is nothing in the coverage of early construction in the PMD/BUR section that allows a firm assumption that it involves building the entire section. It could well involve only the upper complex or only the lower tunnel. Either would have independent utility for a faster express to Palmdale.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    Actually, Palmdale-Burbank is pretty much all or nothing. The legacy line can’t really host high-speed trains (curves below the minimum of some trainsets, some heavy freight traffic); the new line can’t host legacy loco-hauled trains (3.5% grades, long tunnels). The trainsets that could run on both lines would be suboptimal for anything other than the interim solution, and would require some additional investment in the legacy line (for one, electrification).

    BruceMcF Reply:

    Alon: “The trainsets that could run on both lines would be suboptimal for anything other than the interim solution,”

    … this is tantamount to claiming that its infeasible to begin to electrify any of the Metrolink system, since those locomotives can be of substantial utility in a system rolling out electrification …

    “… and would require some additional investment in the legacy line (for one, electrification).”

    And this is saying that the “pretty much all or nothing” actually means “would require a serious effort, though only a fairly small fraction of the incremental effort required to add the second independent utility section to the construction project”.

    Ted Judah Reply:

    No you aren’t done.

    You have to figure out how to pay for the service and who operates it. Metrolink is barely able to cover it’s own maintenance costs. Electrification isn’t something the Class I’s want, and not something that helps speed without track improvements.

    A statewide Amtrak California system would cost less to build than HSR, but it won’t be able to turns profit.

    jimsf Reply:

    wait, if the caltrain corridor is hsr ready, which it is suppose to be by 2019, and the ics from merced to bakersfield is constructed, at full hsr standards, and burbank to palmdale is new hsr construction, then the only part that isnt full hsr is burbank to anaheim, but you do have a full hsr system in the meantime from sf to burbank once the tow mountain crossings are done.
    as for what happens from burbank to anaheim, who knows but one way or another that line will be elctrified for hsr.

    jimsf Reply:

    MEan while is SF – more progress
    CONSTRUCTION UPDATE

    2013 was a milestone year for the Central Subway project. Tunneling operations started in July with the launch of the first tunneling oring machine (TBM), named Mom Chung in honor of the first American-born Chinese female physician, who established a clinic in San Francisco’s Chinatown. During the Thanksgiving holiday, Mom Chung crossed under Market Street and the Bay Area Rapid Transit District (BART) tunnel, unnoticed except by the workers operating the TBM. On June 2, 2014, Mom Chung broke through the concrete wall of the retrieval shaft in North Beach, ending excavation of the southbound tunnel. The second TBM, named Big Alma in honor of Alma de Bretteville Spreckels, a San Francisco philanthropist also known as the Great Grandmother of San Francisco, was launched in late October, 2013 to excavate the northbound tunnel. It crossed under Market Street in January 2014 and reached the retrieval shaft on June 11.

    I idnt realize they had gotten this far

    jimsf Reply:

    nice video

    Paul Dyson Reply:

    AQMD will declare SoCal an electric railroad zone if the class ones don’t cooperate
    Metrolink will be reorganized
    Electric train acceleration reduces journey time
    Your other point too random to deserve response

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    Conventional speed trains wouldn’t attract as many riders. Each of them using up more labor and train deprecation and maintenance has a bit to do with it not being able to make money.

    BruceMcF Reply:

    The HSR won’t be able to turn a profit on a full cost basis either (no more than cars and trucks and planes are able to turn a profit on a full cost basis) … however, it’s able to run without operating subsidy, so all of its subsidies are for capital works.

    The number of services per day that are financially viable without operating subsidies drops as speed drops, and drops disproportionally because the reduction of frequencies is itself a reduction in QOS, until it crosses the threshold where subsidies are needed. Where that threshold is, in terms of transit speed, depends upon transport demand between the areas connected by the service and on the level of subsidy given to alternative means of transport.

    And you don’t get the full capacity benefit of electrification unless a large share of trains using the corridor are electric, and for electric freight to be economic, you’d need to have electrified freight rail corridor(s) through to at least West Texas, and preferably further, which takes it well out of the reach of a passenger-rail focused policy.

    BruceMcF Reply:

    Where has a proposal been made that CHSRA will build the complete section from Burbank to Palmdale early? The reporting I saw was along the lines as the report quoted on this blog two posts previously: “High-speed rail officials said they want to start a segment between Burbank and Palmdale in the next several years as they continue working on a 130-mile stretch of the line in the Central Valley. The revised approach could be formally adopted by the rail board as early as next month.”

    Are you privy to additional information not included in that reporting? Or are you simply assuming that the massive wiggle room between “start a segment” and “construct the segment” is purely accidental and they really intended to say the more definitive latter rather than the deliberately ambiguous former?

    Paul Dyson Reply:

    In a letter from Morales to Senator Pavley dated June 14, 2014.

    BruceMcF Reply:

    And how much wiggle room is there in it? The “will try”, “will consider”, “subject to funding” and all the sundry kith and kin of legal and political spin?

  11. Jos Callinet
    Jul 11th, 2014 at 14:23
    #11

    Could this have implications for CAHSR?

    Today, on NARP’s (National Association of Railroad Passengers) weekly update, for July 11, 2014, it appears that ALL ABOARD FLORIDA has run into so many problems with its plans to run fast frequent trains from Miami to Orlando, that they are bowing to their opposition along Florida’s East Coast and have now scaled back their plans to going no farther than West Palm Beach.

    Here’s the meat of the announcement:

    “All Aboard Florida’s plan to connect Miami to Orlando has been scaled back to extend from Miami, through Fort Lauderdale, to West Palm Beach.

    All Aboard Florida, which initially planned to intercity passenger rail service from Miami to Orlando, will start running as far as West Palm Beach in late 2016. Later this summer, the company will start to build the Fort Lauderdale station and a double track for the South Florida segment, while it must deal with the logistics of completing the line to Orlando.

    According to the company’s president, Michael Reininger, this project will not be in competition with Tri-Rail because its trains have only three downtown stops and complete one trip in an hour, whereas, Tri-Rail has 16 stops and completes a trip in 90 minutes. He told the Orlando Sentinel, “We don’t see this at all as a competitor to commuter rail. It’s complementary service.”

    All Aboard Florida will run 16 trains in each direction daily at about $30 to $36 per one-way ticket, while it costs a mere $6.90 to travel from Miami to West Palm Beach on Tri-Rail.

    The company revealed the design for the Fort Lauderdale station on July 8th, after its plan for the Miami Station was revealed in June. The construction of the Fort Lauderdale station is estimated to cost $30 million. The company also plans to include more double-track segments, safer crossings, new technologies to reduce bridge closures for trains, and enhanced coordination between crossing gates and trains. Plans for West Palm Beach station will be released soon.”

    At this point, why bother doing “All Aboard Florida” at all? I had a feeling this retrenchment was going to happen.

    I wonder if perhaps California’s plan will end up being scaled back as well?

    BruceMcF Reply:

    What retrenchment? Previously they were not going to run any services until they had completed the first and second stages of construction. Now they are going to run services on the first stage while they are still building the second stage.

    Starting services earlier on a shorter section is not retrenchment. And being able to start work on the first segment independently of finishing EIS on the second reduces the leverage of communities in the second stage to try to exact a price for “allowing” someone to make useful infrastructure improvements serving intercity transport that runs within the boundary of their community … where the price they are trying to extract is a station at some location without the capital gains to development that All Aboard Florida is looking for from their station locations.

  12. Brian_FL
    Jul 11th, 2014 at 14:58
    #12

    All Aboard Florida is not scaling back it’s plans. Nor are they bowing to pressure from the NIMBYS in 3 counties north of WPB.

    The delay in going to Orlando is due only to the delay in the EIS report. The fact that AAF will start construction in a matter of weeks is in fact great news. That means that they don’t see any insurmountable hurdles to going to Orlando. Orlando will be home to their maintenance shops as well as a station at the Orlando airport.

    I did not read the NARP article, but how you present it is very misleading.

    Ted Judah Reply:

    Even if the delay is purely caused by the EIR process, you have to wonder how AAF will compete against Tri-Rail if it has fares that are three times the cost of latter.

    I suspect that in short order you will see the truth come out and a very happy CSX and Rick Scott will have shifted both the cost of the Tri-Rail and the congestion of passenger service to another railway. AAF’s fare structure seems comparable to Metrolink in Southern California…that is why I think all they are building is another commuter railroad.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    Tri Rail doesn’t go to Orlando.

    BruceMcF Reply:

    That is the context of the comment is that neither will All Aboard Florida in the first stage.

    swing hanger Reply:

    The Orlando Airport Station won’t be ready for a opening in 2016 (being a public project), and that is a key part of the whole scheme. The idea is to get a starter line up and running to provide a public demonstration of concept and political impetus, and then use that earned “capital” to push on to Orlando.

  13. datacruncher
    Jul 11th, 2014 at 18:01
    #13

    Part 2 of the series by James Fallows is now posted at The Atlantic.

    California High-Speed Rail—the Critics’ Case
    http://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2014/07/california-high-speed-railmdashthe-critics-speak/374306/

    Observer Reply:

    I want to read part 3: ” How the plan can still be sensible, in the face of critiques like this”.

    EJ Reply:

    Evidently with vapid, pointless analogies to the Louisiana purchase and the Hoover dam.

    John Nachtigall Reply:

    The only thing this article is good for is as an example of selection bias.

    He does not actually make the critics case, he spends more than 1/2 the article naming all the successful infrastructure projects that were controversial. If you are a critic of HSR that is not an argument you are going to make. You are going to list all the infrastructure projects that failed. Like these

    http://www.governing.com/topics/transportation-infrastructure/Harrisburgs-failed-infrastructure-project.html

    http://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Big_Dig

    http://arxiv.org/pdf/1303.7403.pdf

    There is plenty of chances for this to be a complete boondoggle. Just like the above examples. Selection bias is picking only the projects that went on to succeed.

    He also does not address the legal failings of the project which are the current number 1 obstacle to success.

    In short, if he was trying to present a fair and balanced case as to why HSR should not proceed he failed

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    The Big Dig has been a rip snorting success. It cost far too much money but it’s been a rip snorting success.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    At defunding the MBTA, sure.

    John Nachtigall Reply:

    What was a success?

    The exorbinate cost overrun?
    The ridiculous time overrun?
    Or the shoddy workmanship and engineering that killed user?

    If that is yor definition of rip snorting success I would love to see a failure!

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    Money isn’t everything. Someone somewhere at MassDot can tell you how many lives are saved every years by replacing the obsolete elevated highway.

    Jon Reply:

    Removing the obsolete elevated highway was a smart and necessary thing to do. Replacing it with an expensive underground tunnel, not so smart or necessary. A surface boulevard would have been a much more cost effective solution.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    It’s difficult to run down pedestrians where there aren’t any pedestrians.
    Money isn’t everything and just because it cost a lot doesn’t mean it’s a success.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    …not a success… It’s so successful it’s caused congestion farther out.

    John Nachtigall Reply:

    It’s not a success because it cost to much (for the benefit received)

    Took too long, showing absolute project management failure

    And was an engineering and design failure. It actually directly killed a motorist. Think about that for a moment. They designed and built it so poorly even after all that money and time it KILLED someone.

    There is nothing successful about the big dig other than it’s use as a case study in what not to do

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    Nobody goes there any more it’s too crowded.

    I think the people who go into Starbucks pay far too much for overroasted cheap coffee. The people who do don’t think so. Or the holy invisible hand of the market, whether that’s the market for coffeeshops or the stock market.

    That it’s such a rip snorting success tells me that the evil government isn’t letting the holy invisible hand of the free market price it higher.

    John Nachtigall Reply:

    i have no idea what your comment has to do with anything I said.

    Projects are judged on a 3 sided triangle of money, time, and quality. The Big Dig managed to fail at all 3.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    You didn’t say it was bad judged on money time or quality. It’s too crowded no one goes there anymore. Mostly because it was such a rip snorting success that they can’t get through the congestion it causes farther out.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    But it’s actually not too crowded. Traffic took a nosedive in the post-2003 fuel price rise and then again in the recession.

    John Nachtigall Reply:

    They tore down the old road. Of course it is used, its not like the other option still exists. If they tore up 101 and moved it 50 feet to the right it would be crowded also, but that does not prove it is needed.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    It being needed is different than it being unsuccessful
    Alon, more than one source says it’s uncrowded because people can’t get through the congestion that has appeared farther out. When the old road was a nightmare people stayed home. With the new road traffic is much better so the slight increase out in the suburbs made traffic in the suburbs go from being heavy to awful. It’s what happens with congestion “relief” everywhere. They fix the congestion in X so that means more people in Y want to travel to or through X. Which causes congestion in Y. So they fix the congestion in Y and that causes congestion in Z. And an increase in traffic in X and Y. So they fix Z. Which causes just enough extra traffic that things in X go from being a bit heavy to congested. Rinse repeat.

    Gotta convince the suburbanites that making it “better” to take the train to Boston means people aren’t driving through their suburb making it easier to get around in their suburb.

    John Nachtigall Reply:

    I have to say, I think it is hilarious that you are reduced to arguing that the big dig, the prototype out of control infastructure projects, is actually a rip snorting success. You really will take the opposite side of anything I write. Amazing.

    The Big Dig failed in every way possible for a project. Time, money, and quality. It continues to have a huge negative impact on MTBA finances. It was not a success. A success would look like the same road but built on time, on budget, and with a quality high enough NOT TO KILL THE PEOPLE USING IT.

    That is what a rip snorting success looks like. When they rebuilt the freeways so quickly after the earthquake…that was a success. The Big Dig is a total failure

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    It cost too much money which is different than it being a success. I can’t help it if the only thing that is important to you is how much money something costs.

    Jon Reply:

    Traffic calming a surface boulevard is a hell of a lot cheaper than undergrounding the traffic, and achieves very similar results in terms of pedestrian safety.

    The Big Dig wasn’t build because MassDOT cared about the pedestrian safety. It was built because they wanted to replace the viaduct with a solution that maintained the ability to move a high volume of private vehicles through downtown Boston.

    A better solution would have been to replace the viaduct with a surface boulevard (reducing the capacity to move private vehicles through downtown Boston) and use a fraction of the total cost of the Big Dig to construct additional rail transit across downtown Boston (increasing the capacity to move people through downtown Boston).

    The end result would have had a lower cost and higher capacity because a rail tunnel with N tracks can move much more people than a road tunnel with N lanes, yet the construction costs are roughly the same.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    That a boulevard would have been a better or cheaper solution doesn’t make the Big Dig unsuccessful. It makes it more expensive and perhaps worse than some of the alternatives.
    MassDOT wasn’t basing their decisions on pedestrian safety. Someone somewhere can tell you how many pedestrians haven’t been run down by cars because the new highway is there. Or wouldn’t have been run down by substituting a boulevard. John was arguing that it killed a motorist. Well if we hadn’t built the highway or the blvd and planted trees instead there wouldn’t be any motorists to kill. Very very rarely a piece of tree would fall on a pedestrian and kill them.

    Jon Reply:

    It depends how you define success. If you define success as “a poor choice of project which they eventually got working after a string of cost overruns and engineering failures”, sure, it was a success.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    In other words it’s too crowded no one goes there any more

    John Nachtigall Reply:

    it failed at all 3 ways to judge a project. Money, Time, and Quality. As a project and a piece of infrastructure it is a failure in every way. Just because they eventually managed to finish it does not make it a success.

    Jon Reply:

    In other words it’s too crowded no one goes there any more

    No-one wants to visit a freeway; it’s a method of transportation, not a destination. The fact that the freeways remain chock full of traffic shows that this project was not the most effective way to get people to and from their destinations. Rail would have been a far more effective investment. I can barely believe that I need to explain this to someone who is supposed to be a transit advocate.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    No one except foamers goes to visit trains either. If the highway was a failure no one would use it. That trains could carry more people or that a boulevard would have been cheaper doesn’t deter the people who use it so heavily.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    Sure. But then let’s look at the number of lives lost as MBTA service cuts and fare increases caused people to drive more and take trains less.

    Judge Moonbox Reply:

    If the Big Dig had included a rail connection between North and South Stations, and the Republicans ordered that the entire project be held to the accounting standards that rail projects have been held to; the additional scrutiny would have saved more money than the additional construction would have spent.

    I just visited Boston. While the Greyhound bus ride through the tunnel was on a Saturday and wouldn’t have shown how much traffic it has to bear, I seriously doubt that this was the best way to reduce congestion in the Hub City.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    That it may not have been the optimal solution, one of the side effects is that it moved the congestion farther out, doesn’t mean it’s not successful.

    StevieB Reply:

    A good measure of success would be the economic prosperity of cities with stations thirty years after opening. Legal hurdles will then be long forgotten as inconsequential.

    joe Reply:

    Success is when conservatives move to California for work and complain about California.

    jimsf Reply:

    touche!

  14. datacruncher
    Jul 11th, 2014 at 18:02
    #14

    First Fresno rail demolition set for Monday
    California High Speed Rail Authority Spokesperson Elizabeth Jonasson said the contractor on the 29-mile Fresno-to-Madera route will carry out the first construction related demolition of a building on Monday.
    http://www.thebusinessjournal.com/news/construction/12926-first-fresno-rail-demolition-set-for-monday

  15. jimsf
    Jul 12th, 2014 at 17:17
    #15

    more american dysfuntion. roundabouts cause nuclear winter
    this is an example of rampant kneejerk outrage towards everything.

    synonymouse Reply:

    Roundabouts are anti-pedestrian.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    Not necessarily.

    BruceMcF Reply:

    single lane roundabouts are can be very pedestrian friendly, if they have a protected inner circle, since you can cross catty-corner to the protected inner circle only looking one way and cross over again only looking the other way.

    How pedestrian friendly multi-lane roundabouts are is like any multi-lane intersection, it depends on how strongly the signals enforces the rights of pedestrians versus the privileges granted to freeloading motorists.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    The point of low speed circles, roundabouts, circulars, whatever you want to call them, is that even though everybody slows down, because there are no signals they get through the intersection faster. And it’s usually the point of higher speed ones too, no signals.

    BruceMcF Reply:

    “The” point there is oversimplifying, of course. But comparing like to like, there are signaled roundabouts that also get traffic through the roundabout faster, on average, because of higher per minute capacity and a simpler signal cycle with no separate left turn cycle.

    Michael Reply:

    Hard to believe, but roundabouts designed today look at auto AND bicycle/ped throughput and safety. They also look at the lifecycle costs of signals and all the other stuff associated with legacy thinking.

  16. jimsf
    Jul 12th, 2014 at 19:01
    #16

    well overall, with steady progress and no delays at transbay terminal, soil and concrete testing in madera, demolition in fresno, and an accelerated san fernando segment, it looks like things are moving forward. What we need soon is an “official” turning of dirt in the valley.

  17. joe
    Jul 12th, 2014 at 22:16
    #17

    IQ test for Fresno.

    http://www.fresnobee.com/2014/07/12/4022363/fresno-co-supervisors-to-reconsider.html?sp=/99/406/263/
    Fresno County supervisors have supported high-speed rail for the past seven years, but that support is waning and could change Tuesday.

    Supervisor Debbie Poochigian had the issue placed on Tuesday’s agenda “to give direction to staff in case the supervisors have an interest in changing their position.”

    Poochigian said she drafted a resolution if the board now chooses to oppose high-speed rail.

    The issue, she said, has not been discussed for several years, and she and board Chairman Andreas Borgeas weren’t on the board that voted for the original resolution of support.

    In 2012, supervisors crafted a letter to the high-speed rail authority but continued to support the plan. Poochigian said those questions — ranging from business dislocation, projected revenues and cost estimates — went unanswered.

    The price of the project, Poochigian said, has skyrocketed since it was first supported by voters, doubling to $68 billion. And, she said, trips will take longer and be more costly for riders and on a slower train than originally envisioned.

    “As far as I’m concerned, California cannot afford this,” she said.

    Well

    Fresno County Supervisor Debbie Poochigian Endorses Neel Kashkari for Governor

    “I am proud to announce my support for Neel Kashkari’s campaign for governor. Neel’s pledge to put jobs and education first really resonates here in the Central Valley, where Fresno County families face a 13.8 percent unemployment rate,” said Poochigian. “We can no longer afford the policies of career politicians in Sacramento who pursue boondoggles like high-speed rail while failing to address the real problems facing the residents of Central California – jobs, education and water.

    I hope each NO Vote them in the arse.

    The rail project will generate 20,000 new construction jobs in each of five years in the Fresno area, said Lisa Marie Alley, spokeswoman for the California High-Speed Rail Authority.

    She said 71 firms with offices in Fresno County already are working on the project. Nine Fresno County companies, she said, have signed contracts with a total value of $56 million.

    No Vote with 56 M in Fresno Co firms is a suicide pact.

    jimsf Reply:

    have politicains always been the dreadful, useless creatures they are today?

    Observer Reply:

    The more things change – the more they stay the same, at least in Fresno County.

    joe Reply:

    Three skeptics. All GOP member-endroise GOP candidates.

    1. Poochigian is selling the kool-aid.

    2. “Supervisor Phil Larson said he has supported high-speed rail in the past, but he also has concerns.” Larson’s 80 and not running for reelection.

    3. Supervisor Andreas “Borgea said he, too, is concerned about skyrocketing costs. ”
    And he too is a GOP member and his “District 2 is located in the northern central area of Fresno County and is primarily metropolitan”

    Of them, Borgea seems most urban and subsequently most vulnerable.

    datacruncher Reply:

    If I have this correct, there is also a little “small world” bit here. I believe Debbie Poochigian is married to Chuck Poochigian who is now an Appellate Court Justice. Chuck Poochigian is the person Jerry Brown defeated in the 2006 Attorney General election.

    Keith Saggers Reply:

    Lisa Marie Alley, CHSRA, said 71 firms with offices in Fresno County already are working on the project. Nine Fresno County companies, she said, have signed contracts with a total value of $56 million.

    The $56 million in CHSRA business contracts is only for the nine Fresno companies.

    The rail agency hopes to begin construction on its first section, a 29-mile stretch between Madera and Fresno, this summer. It awarded a contract of just under $1 billion to a contracting consortium of Sylmar’s Tutor Perini Corp., Zachry Construction of Texas and Parsons Inc. of Pasadena, to complete the design of the segment and build it. The Madera-Fresno portion is part of the “initial construction segment” from Merced to Bakersfield, estimated to cost about $6.2 billion

    Read more here: http://www.fresnobee.com/2014/02/07/3756311/stable-costs-predicted-in-new.html#storylink=cpy

    John Nachtigall Reply:

    So it’s a jobs program or an infrastructure project? Because as a jobs program it is a bust. For that much money they could make a whole lot more jobs and for the already unemployed. Digging holes, sorting screws, etc.

    If it’s an infrastructure project then it needs to stand as a good idea independent of how many jobs it creates

    joe Reply:

    Infrastructure project with a dedicated funding for local businesses and to train unemployed for skilled jobs.

    56 million in local contracts.

    Observer Reply:

    It is an infrastructure project. The jobs are a side benefit, a very good side benefit.

    Also, the way that I see it, of California’s large metropolitan areas, Fresno is the most isolated, it always has been. Besides the obvious environmental benefits and California having a good modern transportation infrastructure between most major metropolitan areas in the state that HSR will bring, HSR will help address Fresno’s economic isolation, sort of bring into the fold.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    The people who write environmental reports and file the responses to requests for information and requests for proposals and make sure the photocopier is working don’t do it for free. They get up in the morning an go to work. Which is were lots of the money is going. To office workers.

    Observer Reply:

    That is why CEQA reform is needed. It is good that the 71 firms hired in Fresno County are probably not involved too much in that aspect of it, if at all. They are probably more into the nuts and bolts of the project. I say get on with the building of it.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    Even if there was no pesky environmental paperwork or complex bidding process someone still has to make sure the photocopier is working and someone has to keep the books. Someone had to hire the people who keep the books, order the concrete and steel and hire the construction workers. If someone is out there spraying paint so other people know where to dig holes there’s lots of people back at the office supporting all of that. Right now they are busy hiring the people who will dig the holes.

    joe Reply:

    Local firms are involved in the EIR. They know the area and can do the field work for the EIR. Recall the inital Hanford Station was put on top of a perched water table which was well known by locals.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    Yes, there’s been a lot of construction work going on. It’s just that it hasn’t involved people digging holes and pour concrete around steel.

    Observer Reply:

    I think this is something that we all want to see. Chill out – it will happen.

    EJ Reply:

    It’s just a political argument for any infrastructure project you might happen to support. Robert does it all the time – if you oppose his pet project, you must not care about the jobs it creates. Of course, beyond the workers themselves nobody really gives a shit about jobs created by infrastructure projects. Highway projects also create numerous jobs but that never stopped progressives from opposing them.

    joe Reply:

    Excuse me but progressives don’t oppose road and bridge infrastructure projects. You might be surprised if you actually tried to give some examples.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    Seattle-area progressives, including Robert, opposed the Alaska Way Viaduct tunnel (a.k.a. the Big Dig of the West), and continue to oppose it.

    BruceMcF Reply:

    “Don’t oppose any” or “don’t oppose all”?

    Those who don’t oppose ANY project of ANY particular type are setting themselves up to support some real stinkers. That’s a problem with mindless knee-jerk mode advocacy.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    The construction workers go out and spend money which gives other people jobs who then go out and spend money.

    jimsf Reply:

    progressive are the reason so many working class democrats started voting republican because progressive care more about owls and dolphins than people having good jobs. progressives care nothing about living wages for working people, and instead support eliminating jobs. I see it right here onthis blog. When it comes to jobs and wages, progressvies are as bad as republicans in thier disdain for the oridnary working class.

    BruceMcF Reply:

    Progressive is a loose term ~ if you take every self-styled progressive as representing what “progressive” stands for, its as much all over the map as “liberal” would have been in the 60’s. However, the blue-green coalition type of progressives very much care for people having good jobs at a living wage and better. Meanwhile “conservatives” as in the radical reactionaries that make up the “Conservative Movement” support a long list of policies that have the effect of killing jobs and depressing wages … though they typically trot out one or another cover story in which both killing jobs and depressing wages are both claimed to be job growth policies.

    Ted Judah Reply:

    The Blue-Green alliance is a myth this far; it’s the political equivalent of cold fusion.

    However, progressives want people to have good wages in sustainable industries…what’s gotten lost is that for a long time liberal elites were not concerned with the loss in manufacturing jobs that hurt unions because the effect on white collar jobs was hard to notice.

    Now, however, that is changing and there’s a new sense of urgency on the left that we are all in this together. But conservatives know historically both sides have played divide and conquer, and thus still own the political high ground.

    So it bounces back to creating new industries that are sustainable, and HSR is right there in the bullseye.

    BruceMcF Reply:

    I’ve conversed with people who hold the blue-green coalition views, so I actually do not believe that their are mythical people.

    If the subject is being changed from the people I was describing to whatever the idle political chattering classes are chattering about regarding a “Blue-Green Alliance”, I wouldn’t know, as I don’t pay a lot of attention to that chatter.

    Ted Judah Reply:

    Nobody uses blue-green outside the blogosphere. The salience of Jim’s point is that blue collar voters need a reason to stay Democrats an liberal elites like to forget that. Usually, the dominance of Republicans in recent decades has obscured this tension. Some states like Hawaii and California though, are showing how bitter a feud it can be.

    BruceMcF Reply:

    “The salience of Jim’s point is that blue collar voters need a reason to stay Democrats and liberal elites like to forget that.”

    Yes, that’s a flaw in the purported “green” positions of many big money corporatist liberal elites. Oh, if only there was a phrase that could be used to refer to the argument that the the “more poison equals more jobs” claims are most often BS talking points on the “more jobs” side, and that there are substantially more jobs available in both the short and long term in sustainable alternatives than in the long term suicide approach.

    “Nobody uses blue-green outside the blogosphere.”

    What term people use for the position, and indeed whether they have a term at all, doesn’t change the substance of the position. Obviously having the term makes it easier to talk about it in the blogosphere, where we are having this discussion.

    joe Reply:

    “Some states like Hawaii and California though, are showing how bitter a feud it can be.”

    How is that? Not one Statewide office is held by a Republican. Where was the bitter, contested primary?
    The biggest primary battle was on the GOP between the establishment candidate and the grass roots tea bagger.

  18. John Burrows
    Jul 13th, 2014 at 11:42
    #18

    If I remember right, the latest CAHSRA business plan has the estimated travel time from Fresno to San Jose at 59 minutes. Not bad for two cities 152 miles apart. Even after allowing time for getting to and from the train stations, for most travelers high speed rail will be a much quicker option than either air travel or driving. Additionally, the fact that Fresno and San Jose are now 59 minutes apart will make travel between the two cities feasible for many who otherwise would have no reason to make the trip.

    Observer Reply:

    59 minutes between Fresno and San Jose would be a god send.

    John Burrows Reply:

    A real game changer for Fresno and the San Joaquin Valley—Maybe.

    Some of the proposed examples of service from the 2014 business plan:

    The fastest trip time between San Jose and Fresno (152 miles apart) is 50 minutes.
    The fastest trip time between Fresno and Bakersfield (110 miles apart) is 40 minutes.
    The fastest trip time between Bakersfield and Burbank (102 miles apart) is about 45 minutes.

    With travel times like these, HSR could be a god send to the whole San Joaquin Valley—If the ticket prices can be brought down enough to make it affordable.

  19. Observer
    Jul 13th, 2014 at 17:17
    #19

    Actually I think things are going pretty good. By 2019 San Jose – San Francisco will be electrified with 110mph service, Burbank – Palmdale will be well on its way, Bakersfield – Merced may well be completed. And by then we will have progressed into working on the gaps: Bakersfield – Palmdale, Merced – San Jose. We are out of the joint procurement agreement with Amtrak for trainsets which is good; California will now be able to choose any off the shelf trainsets it wants independent of NEC needs.

    I remember when Spain was building its first HSR line between Sevilla – Madrid; a writer (american of course) called it “darkly controversial”. Now 20+ years later, they have Madrid – Barcelona, + other routes, despite of what critics and wags said. California is the eighth largest economy in the world, HSR will happen.

    Observer Reply:

    In other words, we will have the beginnings of an actual HSR system, interim mode perhaps; but once they begin building the gaps – it will not seem so interim anymore. And critics will begin to fade. I am looking forward to it.

    Richard Mlynarik Reply:

    By 2019 San Jose – San Francisco will be electrified with 110mph service

    On which planet?

    Burbank – Palmdale will be well on its way

    There might be an EIR.

    Bakersfield – Merced may well be completed

    If you exclude both Bakersfield and Merced, quite likely so.

  20. Reality Check
    Jul 13th, 2014 at 21:00
    #20

    Desperate Madera family stuck — “held hostage” — waiting for HSRA to eminent domain their home …
    Rail route wait, water woes leave Madera family high and dry

    Sheryl and Bobby Haflich have owned their home north of Madera for about a dozen years. And for the past five, they’ve known that they’re sitting in the likely path of a Lake Street overpass to carry traffic over California’s proposed high-speed rail line.

    The problem is, every would-be buyer of the property knows it too — and that’s keeping the Haflichs from selling their 1.3-acre parcel and moving closer to Bobby’s work at a school in Turlock, about 60 miles away.

    Their rural property at the corner of Tremaine Avenue and Lake Street in the Madera Acres neighborhood sits just north of the first section of the bullet-train route that the California High-Speed Rail Authority wants to begin building this summer. While the rail agency has identified the Haflichs’ home as one of hundreds of parcels it will eventually need in the central San Joaquin Valley, it’s not yet in a position to buy the property.

    “We’ve been held hostage here for five years,” Sheryl Haflich said. “We don’t know what to count on. We don’t know what to do.”

    The rail authority says its hands are tied, at least for the time being, by its funding agreements with the federal government to spend money only within the boundaries to be covered in its current and future construction contracts. “Right now we only have the ability to purchase property between Avenue 17 in Madera and Seventh Standard Road north of Bakersfield,” said Lisa Marie Alley, a spokeswoman for the rail agency.

    But, Alley added, the authority is trying to develop a program and policies to work with property hardship cases such as those being experienced by the Haflichs.

    […]

    The Haflichs’ plight was further complicated this spring when their water well failed, despite spending $9,000 over the past year and a half to try to keep it going.

    Observer Reply:

    Their mortgage is also more than their house is worth, and it will cost $50,000 to drill a new well, which even if they could afford, there would be a 2 year wait for drilling their new well. Wow. It would be nice if the CAHSRA can help them.

    joe Reply:

    The Haflichs said that the only hope they’ve gotten for assistance is from Diana Gomez, the rail authority’s regional director for the Central Valley. “She’s the only one who’s listening and trying to do something,” Sheryl Haflich said.

    Gomez is trying to deal with the State Public Works Board, which oversees the authority’s property selection, and the Federal Railroad Administration to see if there’s some kind of solution.

    http://www.fresnobee.com/2014/07/13/4023051/rail-route-wait-water-woes-leave.html#storylink=cpy

  21. Reality Check
    Jul 13th, 2014 at 21:10
    #21

    From the (entertainingly nutty-sounding) Santa Clarita Valley Signal:
    Our View: The high speed rail hoodwink

    The price is now over $200 billion and rising

    […]

    The two-hour-and-40-minute ride now can be achieved only with a straight-line tunnel from Bakersfield to Pacoima — and no potty breaks in Sand Canyon.

    […]

    Truth be told, we like the Bakersfield-to-Pacoima tunnel idea. It bypasses the Santa Clarita Valley, certainly saving many pedestrian deaths, and provides a nice conduit to move much-needed water when the whole bullet train idea swirls down the big porcelain throne.

    […]

    There is a petition drive in the works for an anti-bullet-train measure because polls are showing that California voters have followed Elvis out of the building on this folly.

    […]

    Joey Reply:

    You can’t make this shit up.

    Reality Check Reply:

    Obviously people can and do … and then even manage to get that shit published. It’s no wonder our world is so fucked up.

    Observer Reply:

    Very weird article.

    Paul Dyson Reply:

    There are a lot of these kinds of media around and this is where all too many people get their “facts” and form their opinions. “It’s all over the internet” (innernet!)

  22. Reality Check
    Jul 13th, 2014 at 21:22
    #22

    Cost of High Speed Rail in China One Third Lower than in Other Countries

    By the end of 2013, China had built a high speed rail network of over 10,000 route-km, far exceeding that in any other country and larger than the network in the entire European Union. It has been accomplished at a cost which is at most two-thirds of that in other countries. A new World Bank paper takes a look at this expansion, its construction unit costs and some of its key cost components. It also outlines reasons that may explain the comparatively low cost of high speed railway construction in China.

    According to the paper titled High-Speed Railways in China: A Look at Construction Costs, several factors influence the cost of a high speed rail project construction. The major factors include the line design speed, topography along the alignment, weather conditions, land acquisition costs, use of viaducts instead of embankments, the construction of major bridges across wide rivers, and the construction of mega stations.

    […]

    The paper notes that construction cost of high speed rail in China tends to be lower than in other countries. China’s high speed rail with a maximum speed of 350 km/h has a typical infrastructure unit cost of about US$ 17-21m per km, with a high ratio of viaducts and tunnels, as compared with US$25-39 m per km in Europe and as high as US$ 56m per km currently estimated in California.

    joe Reply:

    Spanish estimates of HSR costs. (US estimate in the article is 45 euros per km.).

    http://nextcity.org/daily/entry/spain-high-speed-train-toronto-commuter-new-york-elevators

    http://www.eleconomista.es/empresas-finanzas/noticias/5818031/05/14/Espana-es-el-pais-con-menor-coste-por-kilometro-construido-en-alta-velocidad.html#.Kku8vSP4K9IXX8q

    Germany’s high-speed railway between Frankfurt and Cologne set them back 33 million euros a kilometer, whereas the per-kilometer cost of Italian high-speed rail surpassed 44 million euros. In Japan, lines generally cost between 35 million and 45 million euros per kilometer to build.

    …Jerry Brown looks thrifty in comparison, with the California High-Speed Rail Authority wanting to spend a mere $100 million a mile.)

    And Spain isn’t just the cheapest in the developed world — it bests even poor countries when it comes to low high-speed rail construction costs. The 1,318-kilometer high-speed line from Beijing to Shanghai set the government back 23.5 billion euros, or nearly 18 million a kilometer — at the high end of Spain’s cost range, despite the dramatically lower wages paid to workers in the Middle Kingdom.

    Michael Reply:

    Somebody is using a very strange currency conversion table, even if some of the per-mile costs are a decade old.

    BruceMcF Reply:

    It seems likely that the Chinese figures are at market exchange rates rather than PPP ~ lots of things in China look “cheaper” when using market exchange rates … that’s due to the policy of a cheap Yuan RMB.

    Reality Check Reply:

    BBC video: China’s high-speed rail revolution

  23. Alon Levy
    Jul 14th, 2014 at 09:12
    #23

    http://www.latimes.com/business/la-fi-capitol-business-beat-20140714-story.html

    Lol at the notion that $4 a gallon is expensive. I’m currently visiting parents in France. Over here, a liter sets you back €1.67. That’s US$8.63/gal, or US$7.93/gal with a PPP conversion (which is inappropriate for fuel, since it’s a globally traded good). Even accounting for the fact that the fuel here is higher-grade – this is for 98 octane unleaded, rather than the 87 stuff Americans use – it’s twice as expensive.

    In unrelated news, France has about one third as much per capita fuel consumption for cars as the US, and about half as much overall per capita oil consumption. Can anyone help me explain why?

    Eric M Reply:

    Alon, the fuel is not a higher grade. It is the formula at which Europe calculates octane and the octane number looks higher, but is the same as here.

    Europe: RON
    United States: (RON+MON)/2

    Eric M Reply:

    ……but the diesel has a lower sulfur content in Europe.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ultra-low-sulfur_diesel

    EJ Reply:

    European octane ratings don’t correspond to American. In the US, it’s based on molality (i.e. the number of octane molecules), in Europe it’s based on weight. Since octane is heavier than heptane, European octane ratings are higher than American for the equivalent fuel.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    Oh.

    For some reason, I thought it was a matter of European regulations demanding more stringent pollution controls or something.

    Apologies.

    BruceMcF Reply:

    Clearly the higher fuel efficiency and lower per capita petroleum consumption are due to cultural factors. Pricing gasoline in a sensible way for a net petroleum importer has nothing at all to do with the difference in outcomes.

    Reality Check Reply:

    Chart of world gasoline prices as of 14-Jul-2014

    The average price of gasoline around the world is 1.36 US Dollar per liter. However, there is substantial difference in these prices among countries. As a general rule, richer countries have higher prices while poorer countries and the counties that produce and export oil have significantly lower prices. One notable exception is the U.S. which is an economically advanced country but has low gas prices. The differences in prices across countries are due to the various taxes and subsidies for gasoline.

    All countries have access to the same petroleum prices of international markets but then decide to impose different taxes. As a result, the retail price of gasoline is different. In some cases, like Venezuela, the government even subsidizes gasoline and therefore people there pay close to nothing to drive their cars.

    Keith Saggers Reply:

    this data is irrelevant without factoring in vehicle miles driven

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    I have a sneaking suspicion that driving the same car for 1,000 miles costs less in fuel in Venuzuela than it does in they U.S. and it costs less to drive the same distance, in fuel, to drive it in the U.S. than it does in France. And a sneaking suspicion that affects the owner’s choice of car.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    I would’ve expected Canada to be higher, but it could be that I’m mentally rounding C$1 to US$1.

    Reality Check Reply:

    Higher than $4.84 USD per gallon?

    I was actually surprised to see that at $4.84, the average per gallon gas price in Canada is $1 higher than in the US. I imagine there would be a fair number of Canadians living near the US border who try to buy most of their gas in the US.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    Driving to Niagara Falls from Toronto burns gas. It doesn’t make a whole lot of sense to burn three bucks of gas to save two bucks on tank.

    Reality Check Reply:

    What car has a 2-gallon tank!? Most car gas tanks are in the 10-20 gallon range.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    Yes, higher – former exchange rate of C$1 = US$1 would push the Canadian prices north of US$5/gal. It’s a chore to drive over the border to fill up, even if you’re in Vancouver, which is much closer to the US border than Toronto is.

    Even in Europe, people don’t seem to do it. France has much more expensive cigarettes than Italy (€7 per pack vs. €4.30) but somewhat cheaper gas (a difference of about €10 for a full tank); evidently, in the Riviera there’s a tobacco store right on the Italian side of the border, often with long lines of French people, but in the other direction, Italians do not seem to drive to France in significant numbers to get cheaper fuel.

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