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.

    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.

    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.

    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.

    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

    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.

    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.

    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.

    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.

    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.

    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:

    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…

    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.

    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.

    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.

    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.

    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.

  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

  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.

    Neil Shea Reply:

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

    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.)

  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.

  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?

  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.

  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/

  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

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