California’s Pro-HSR Political Consensus

Oct 28th, 2014 | Posted by

There are two things that should come as no surprise to anyone reading this blog. First, Californians support high speed rail. Second, Ralph Vartabedian does not.

Vartabedian has a rather whiny article up at the LA Times today complaining that high speed rail is not a factor in this fall’s statewide election:

Neither Brown nor his Republican opponent, Neel Kashkari, has delved publicly into the details of high-speed rail, including the complex construction plan, looming technical challenges or possible funding shortfalls.

That lack of substantial dialogue reflects a broader inattention that some political analysts and engineering experts warn could have long-term consequences.

This is a remarkable article, basically Vartabedian complaining that nobody agrees with him that HSR is a ticking time bomb and then going out and finding a failed candidate for office this year, Dan Schnur, to agree with him.

Vartabedian has spent years trying to undermine the California HSR project, and here in 2014 it’s clear that his efforts have been a spectacular failure. Californians simply don’t agree with him that HSR is a bad idea. And as a result, most of their political leaders see no point in bashing a popular project.

The most recent poll to examine the HSR issue, PPIC’s March 2014 poll, found a majority of Californians support high speed rail. A few months later, the state legislature agreed to Governor Jerry Brown’s request to devote a sizable portion of cap-and-trade revenues to HSR. That looks to have settled matters in Sacramento, as HSR is no longer a theoretical project but an actual thing the state is building.

Of course, there are those who have tried to make HSR an issue in this year’s election. Republican candidate for governor Neel Kashkari has made attacking HSR part of his campaign, with his ads attacking the “crazy train” and showing him literally smashing a toy train. (Another Kashkari ad showed a kid drowning – what is it with Kashkari putting kids and their toys in danger?) But Kashkari is expected to lose the governor’s race by as much as 20 points. Clearly his attacks on HSR aren’t helping his cause.

In fact, the campaign has seen some candidates embrace HSR when they hadn’t done so before. Consider the case of Betty Yee. I’ve known and respected her since my days working in Monterey County politics, when she was a member of the State Board of Equalization. In the past, Yee has been critical of HSR. But she’s now running for Controller against Fresno Mayor Ashley Swearengin, who is a notable Republican supporter of HSR.

If HSR were politically toxic at the polls, you’d have expected Yee to double down on any criticisms of HSR. Instead, she put out a statement last Friday embracing HSR:

Voters statewide approved Proposition 1A in November 2008, the Safe, Reliable High-Speed Passenger Train Bond Act for the 21st Century. The Act authorizes the issuance of $9.95 billion of general obligation bonds for the project.

While supportive of the concept, I had opposed the project because of its governance and financing challenges. However, the direction of cap-and-trade funds to the project by Governor Brown has the great potential of attracting other sources of financing to move the project forward. Widening freeways and increasing air traffic are not sustainable responses from environmental and cost perspectives to the increased need to move people in this state.

I now support the high-speed rail project, and it should proceed as long as the financing meets all legal requirements, the project complies with all environmental laws, and local communities’ concerns are fully aired so that the project respects higher region and local priorities such as the dire water supply concerns affecting communities, families, and farmers in the San Joaquin Valley.

Welcome to the team, Betty Yee! Glad to have you on board.

It’s possible that Democrats may add to, maintain, or lose their supermajority in Sacramento. But that is largely dependent on Democratic turnout, which is anemic across the country this year. If Democrats did lose that supermajority, it’d be only by a seat or two, and HSR is not a factor in those races, most of which are in Southern California.

One sleeper race that could break for Democrats is the race for Congress in California’s 21st Congressional district. Democrat Amanda Renteria is making it a close race against David Valadao, who has been outspoken in his opposition to HSR. Renteria is more nuanced, but doesn’t outright oppose HSR, and thinks it would be a huge mistake for the Valley to turn its back on all those jobs.

So Vartabedian’s complaint isn’t with the candidates, but with the reality that Californians support HSR. His efforts to turn the public and the state government against the project have been a colossal failure.

Of course, the situation is different in Congress, where Bakersfield’s Kevin McCarthy continues to fight against HSR. He may soon have a Republican majority in the Senate to join him in his quixotic war against jobs for the Valley. But the Republican Congress’s opposition to HSR is not the death knell for California HSR that it once seemed. If California continues to support HSR, and if the Congress continues to oppose it, that will simply add momentum to the state’s efforts to chart its own course in building HSR. After all, the federal government has been AWOL on the drought and on climate change, and California is going its own way on those matters as well.

At some point you’d expect Vartabedian to accept reality and reconcile himself to the fact that HSR is getting built in part because Californians like it….

  1. morris brown
    Oct 28th, 2014 at 17:12

    Robert continues to propagate the half-truth again:

    The most recent poll to examine the HSR issue, PPIC’s March 2014 poll, found a majority of Californians support high speed rail.

    Here from the poll is what it returned:

    California voters passed a $10 billion state bond in 2008
    for the planning and construction of a high
    speed rail system. When read a description of the
    proposed system, including its $68 billion price tag,
    53 percent of Californians favor it, and 42 percent oppose it.
    Likely voters are less supportive with half
    saying they are against this proposal
    (45% favor, 50% oppose)

    So 50% of likely voters oppose the project with another 5% unaccounted. That is hardly what I would call a real support for the project.

    How many times are you going to re-print this Robert?

    beetroot Reply:

    The real question is: what percentage of land-owning white males support HSR?

    joe Reply:

    When has there been a election or vote against HSR?

    Remember when HSR was going to tank Prop30? Of course you do.

    Robert Cruickshank Reply:

    My statement is completely accurate. I didn’t say a majority of likely voters in March 2014 supported HSR, I said a majority of Californians backs the project and that is what PPIC found.

    Further, even if a majority of likely voters opposed it, politicians aren’t running against it, further suggesting HSR is considered a settled issue among the CA electorate.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    In New York, mainstream politicians aren’t running against the Common Core package – both the actual Common Core and the related testing. In the city, de Blasio (who got 75%, which is more than Brown is going to get against Kashkari) proposed de minimis tweaks to mayoral control of schools; in the state, Cuomo is a strong supporter of the system. Would you say it’s a settled issue?

    Winston Reply:

    I would, but you’re trolling Robert.

    Nathanael Reply:

    Comparing NY, with its deeply dysfunctional political system, to California, where politicians generally (a) support their own party and (b) support their own party platform, is indeed trolling.

    Nathanael Reply:

    Mainstream politicians in NY are not representative of mainstream voters.

    We do have the most corrupt legislature in the country, combined with a deeply corrupt and out-of-touch governor. Cuomo is basically governor by default, by name recognition,.and by misrepresentation of his positions.

    There are major opposition blocs — representing anywhere from 30% to 60% of voters — which are essentially unrepresented at the moment. This unfortunate state of affairs is going to continue until the dying Republican Party shrinks enough for the Democratic Party to split into two pieces *successfully*.

    Nathanael Reply:

    Remember that Cuomo made a special effort to prop up and support the Republican control of the state senate. Does that sound normal? The equivalent would never happen in California.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    Yet those candidates manage to get the majority of the vote when elections are held.

    Alan Reply:

    One of the biggest problems with reliance on the “likely voter” polling numbers is that there siimply is no agreement between pollsters as to what “likely voter” really means. Different pollsters have different ways of defining that part of their survey. So Morris’ reliance on the “likely voter” number is sadly misplaced. It would only matter if there was a HSR referendum or initiative on the ballot. Might as well ask how many “likely voters” still believe in the Tooth Fairy. Robert is correct in emphasizing the “all Californians” number.

    And of course, it’s been shown that polls can easily be swayed just by the phrasing of the questions–we’ve all heard about “push polls”. I’m not suggesting that the PPIC poll was such; I’m just saying it’s another reason to distrust all polls.

    Another reason why polls can be unreliable is the fact that many pollsters still tend to oversample participants with landline phones–who tend to skew older and more conservative. It’s been shown that a typical poll will undersample cell-phone only users, who tend to be younger and more progressive.

    Finally, polls are influenced by persons contacted who refuse to participate–like me. I’m not about to disclose information about my voting preferences or opinions to anyone who just happens to have my name and phone number–there’s already too much personal information on the Web these days. I’m not adding to it, and I don’t trust pollsters to keep that information private. But if there are 10 people like me in a survey of 1000, all of a sudden the results may be off by as much as 1 percent either way. Which way? We’ll never know.

    As I’ve said before, the only polls that matter are the ones conducted at the ballot box.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    Okay, so you’re unskewing the polls.

    Ted Judah Reply:

    Most Presidents in the US, including Reagan, won office with only about 55% of the vote.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    I don’t think they were consensus figures, either. But at least some of them had high approval rates in various periods of their administrations, which is more than I can say for CAHSR.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    50.8 percent,_1980

    Alan Reply:

    Maybe, maybe not. I’m not changing the way the poll was designed, nor the way in which the sample was chosen. I am, obviously, affecting the result–but I’d also be doing that if I participated…

    joe Reply:

    You are and so what?

    It’s poll of likely voters for which there is no election for them to be likely to vote.

    Alan Reply:

    That’s exactly my point–Morris is dreaming about the results of an election that won’t happen.

    synonymouse Reply:

    Prop 1 is that election that will happen next week and it will win.

    SoCal voters even dumber than NorCal. And that’s not easy.

    EJ Reply:

    Fuck you.

    Most of us are at least far more intelligent than you.

    synonymouse Reply:

    Possibly. Still LaLa has been renowned over the years as what’s left over after the cream is skimmed off.

    Lewellan Reply:

    This piece found thought interesting, like it or not, this debate stinks and sinks.
    110mph short run, 5.5 hour trip time cut 2 hours (~30% reduction)
    Coast Starlighter 11 hours cut to 5 hours (40% reduction) with TALGO dual-mode,
    mid-speed HSR gets the job done faster.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    Michigan is flat. So is Indiana. And Illinois. Very very flat. It’s less than 300 miles from Chicago to Detroit.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    A cut from 11 to 5 hours is a 55% cut.

    john burrows Reply:

    Running those Talgos across Cuesta Grade at 110 mph will be a little risky without spending a few billion on track upgrades.

    Paul Dyson Reply:

    Clearly the great Lewellan has no clue about the topography or geography of the Coast Main, the southern end of the Coast Starlight route. There may indeed be an application for Talgo rolling stock along this route but it would take considerable investment to make even an 8 hour schedule, let alone 5 hours. Opinions and ideas are good for conversation but some factual basis is always helpful. The fact that the writer cannot bother to use the correct name for the train cited (“Starlighter”, is that a Ronson product?) is indicative of the thought that went into the rest of the post.

    Eric Reply:

    A 3.5 hour trip between Chicago and Detroit is competitive for some trips. It has a good chance of attracting people who want to go to or from downtown Chicago.

    A 5.5 hour train trip from NoCal to SoCal is not competitive for any trips.

  2. Alon Levy
    Oct 28th, 2014 at 17:47

    Prop 1A passed 52-48. That’s not consensus. The survey results you quote, 52-43, aren’t really consensus either. “My party gets a bare majority but has the power to do whatever it wants” is pretty much the opposite of consensus.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    That’s meme the Republicans use and they are sticking to it. Even when all they get is a plurality.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    Even when they don’t even get a plurality!

    But seriously, the fact that the Rove-era GOP consists of idiots doesn’t mean the Democrats need to also act like idiots.

    Lewellan Reply:

    My take on democratic governance is not the “the majority rules” meme as much as “the majority is served.” Both Democratic and Republican Party elected leaders, once in office are obligated to serve the interests of the majority, which infers that a fair proportion of both (or all) political sentiments must be represented, most sensibly those of the Moderate middle. In the case of the HSR project, it seems to me that only a minority demographic will be riding the train regularly and occassionally, mostly the upper-class commuter and leisure traveller. By this reckoning, and for additional reasons, I’d rather see the scaled-down HSR system that would be running today were it not for 200mph officionados taking decades to formalize a decent plan and fanatics dismissing any credible viewpoint of opposition.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    It would take just as long to build your fantasy as HSR. Democracy is not “what Lewellan thinks we should have” but what all of the people who care compromised on.

    Alan Reply:

    Yeah, but it’s been at least a week since he’s shilled for his Talgos. His bosses must be pretty unhappy.

    Lewellan Reply:

    Funny. ha ha. Shilling eh? Bosses telling me what to do? Is Alan paranoid or just bossy?

    Alan Reply:

    Paranoid about the likes of you, Llew? Don’t flatter yourself. Paid or not, you’re a shill, and one who doesn’t know what he’s talking about (see: “Coast Starlighter“)

    synonymouse Reply:

    No more a shill for Talgo than Jerry for the Tejon Ranch Co.

    Jonathan Reply:


    You will, of course, also apply this same standard of “doesn’t know what he’s talking about” to others who make simple factual errors?

    We’d hate to see evidence that you’re a hypocrite.

    joe Reply:

    It’s a consensus in CA. There’s no flipping over to oppose HSR – every vote the project moves forward.

    Ted Judah Reply:

    Here’s what should give you pause: Prop 1a bonds are General Obligation and will cut into other spending on the General Fund side soon. What’s the chance part of the cap and trade money for HSR is actually retiring Prop 1a bonds, not money to pay for new construction? Or is that perhaps what Brown told everyone and now intends to do the exact opposite.

    joe Reply:

    Well CA has to spend fed money first. Those billions will produce jobs and economic activity for materials and spending by workers etc. which raises revenue. It’s pure Federal money which means the State’s added tax revenue comes at no cost while building infrastructure.

    Those working leave the unemployment assistance and services. That’s additional savings. Improve infrastructure has economic benefit.

    When we issue bonds, we do so as needed and rates are low.

    Jonathan Reply:

    Oh, bullshit. To get that federal ARRA money, California committed matching dollars — dollars from Prop 1A funds. You cannot claim “free Federal money” without also counting the matching Prop 1A funds.

    And there is *no* requirement that CA “has to spend fed money first”. What there *is*, is a deadline to spend the ARRA money by 2017, and a schedule of minimum matching payments. The fact is that CA is spending the Federal funds first, because those funds have an expiry date; and the Authority wasn’t as shovel-ready as they claimed to be.

    joe Reply:

    No shit Sherlock.

    So for every 0.50 we spend we get 0.50 federal support. Up front we plan to spend the ARRA first so the stimulus is disproportionally Fed and therefore the impact to the general fund is qualified. You forget to include that.

    Shovel ready is what comes off keyboard.

    Ted Judah Reply:

    Lately General Fund tax receipts have been blowing past estimates and Sacramento professional wonk class is getting nervous. Jonathan’s point misses the reality that Congress or the Legislature can always revise appropriations at a later date. It just doesn’t mean much if the money is spent.

    I am a little troubled that HSR dropped off the Legislature’s radar only because there’s so much more General Fund money to fight for in the next budget cycle.

    Jonathan Reply:

    What do you think I’m missing? Congress cannot take the ARRA funds away from California (provided we keep making the matching-payments, on schedule). That money is “obligated”.

    CHSRA hasn’t acutally spent any Prop 1A money yet — they haven’t submitted any “detailed funding plan”, as far as I know. Ted, are you saying you fear that the Legislature might vote Prop 1A money away??

    synonymouse Reply:

    To BART.

    Ted Judah Reply:

    Actually you have it backwards. Congress can re-appropriate the ARRA funding at any time (how do you think we got Wisconsin and Florida’s returned cash?) but the budget process has been so contentious that it’s not likely that they will try to retroactively get the money back.

    California’s Legislature can always do the same thing, but the Prop 1a language would still require the State to pay back the bond (with interest) even if the money sat in the General Fund.

    My earlier comment was more that people are talking about the AB 32 cap and trade taxes as “new money” for HSR, but it could also be if the General Fund falls into deficit that the money is used to pay the bond payment for Prop 1a, thus necessitating even more money to be spent on HSR in later years from other sources. My supposition is that I’m not really sure what the Administration told the Legislature on this and vice versa. I just wouldn’t assume that the cap and trade HSR funding and Prop 1A are totally separate yet.

    Jonathan Reply:


    You really cannot get (almost) anything right.The reassignment of ARRA funds, from states which rejected the funds to California, took place before the funds were obligated. If dim memory serves, it was up to the FRA to decide how to apportion funds.

    Once the Federal funds are obligated, the Federal government is .. obliged .. to pay them. The Government has a legal obligation.

    Do I recall you saying you work in string-theory?

    joe Reply:

    Congress can pull back ARRA money.

    Obligating money is a trivial act. The federal agency authorizes spending to some amount and then obligates (sends) partial funds to contract or a grant like a university grant. This obligated money can be pulled back if not spent and happens quite easily. A challenge for universities is to spend/cost money on time so it does not expire. Expires as in being un-obligated and returned. Finding qualified students to being work on time is a challenge which is why some grants do not get their full award.

    Congress can also pull back the ARRA money by issuing a law. This is called rescinding money. A rescission is disruptive since it cuts a agency budget during the work phase and money is pulled back. Obama would veto this action so for that and many other reasons Congress does not try. Ted’s example is not representative but he’s right on the main point.

    Ted Judah Reply:


    The ARRA guarantees you mention bind the enabling agency, FRA, but Congress can repeal its budget at any time and pass a new one, even if the funding year happened long ago. There’s also reversion a that happen if funds are not continuously appropriated when the fiscal year ends.

    Same issue with Prop 1a: a bill could rescind all the expenditures, but the State is still on the hook to pay back the investor who bought the bond, even if the State has no authority to spend the bond proceeds….

    Joey Reply:

    Experience shows that congress can’t actually pass a new budget at any time. If they can’t even decide on basic priorities I think the ARRA funds are pretty safe.

    synonymouse Reply:

    They won’t rescind the ARRA money; they will give it to BART with some to SoCal as a sop.

    Ted Judah Reply:

    It might be easier Joey to pass a budget if the Senate returns to GOP control.

    Joey Reply:

    Only slightly.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    as easily as budgets passed during the Clinton Administration when there was GOP control of both houses?

    Robert Cruickshank Reply:

    I said there is political consensus in Sacramento and I absolutely stand by that statement.

    Ted Judah Reply:

    I find your comment a little peculiar Robert, given the current dynamics of this election season.

    1) Nearly all Democratic candidates for office, statewide or no, are running almost 100% platform-free campaigns. Part of this is due to Jerry Brown’s shrewd non-campaign, campaign style but also because he is trying to distance himself from the liberal base (sort of like that Ed Lee guy in San Francisco) to lock up moderates Republican voters. (If you didn’t know better, you might think Pete Wilson was running for reelection.) It’s sort of ironic that the most “progressive” candidate on the ballot is Tom Torlakson, who is running for the nonpartisan office of State Superintendent of Instruction.

    2) Although liberals and progressive have seen lots of movement on certain litmus test issues like gay marriage and marijuana legalization, HSR is not exactly in the same echelon of priorities. Liberal activists in Oregon and Vermont aren’t busting down doors to mobilize for transportation funding. Yes, they care about it, but it’s becoming (amazingly) a less political issue. In this highly charged partisian era, that’s actually a bad thing.

    3) Most people might not realize when you say “consensus in Sacramento” you mean the California Legislature. (Isn’t Newsom still working from an office in the Mission District, anyway?) Last I checked, there is no “HSR Caucus” peeing on itself with excitment. The rising Latino bloc within the Democratic Party is much more interested in education, health care, and voting rights than blisteringly fast trains.

    HSR, has become, like every other priority of Brown’s, an issue of preserving a progressive/liberal/urban/Northern California/ legacy for the State by moving just far enough long before he leaves office to the past the point of no return and set up a generation of Democratic control similar to what Prop 13 accomplished for Republicans.

  3. synonymouse
    Oct 28th, 2014 at 20:35

    Of course there is political consensus – it is a uniparty patronage machine. Such a system is for the most part invincible as a critical part of the electorate is getting checks cut to them by the patronage machine. They owe their livelihood to the Party. Only a catastrophe, such as a depression, invasion or coup d’etat could oust them.

    Joe Reply:

    Crazy political party stays crazy and loses elections.

    Blow the racist dog whistle:Patronage machine.

    Problem solved.

    synonymouse Reply:

    Of course a rich peoples’ party that boasts of it will lose elections.

    That’s why we have the Democratic Party, rich people who keep their mouths shut, distribute some patronage and take care of rich peoples’ interests.

    The elite is only getting more and more powerful. And ever more skilled at propaganda.

    joe Reply:

    Crazy ass speak with race baiting dog whistle harmonies. “patronage machine.”
    “the electorate is getting checks cut to them by the patronage machine. ”
    “owe their livelihood to the Party.”

    The 1981 recording of Lee Atwater explaining the Southern Strategy finally made it onto the Net a couple of years ago. You know the one. It’s the interview where he says:

    You start out in 1954 by saying, “Nigger, nigger, nigger.” By 1968 you can’t say “nigger”—that hurts you, backfires. So you say stuff like, uh, forced busing, states’ rights, and all that stuff, and you’re getting so abstract. Now, you’re talking about cutting taxes, and all these things you’re talking about are totally economic things and a byproduct of them is, blacks get hurt worse than whites. … “We want to cut this,” is much more abstract than even the busing thing, uh, and a hell of a lot more abstract than “Nigger, nigger.”

    Alon Levy Reply:

    Do you see any reference to patronage in this quote?

    joe Reply:

    I’m sorry but you can’t grok our culture.

    This shit is old and deeply rooted in our culture.

    “Patronage machines” and “government dependence” are race baiting terms both previous and evolved from the contemporary Southern Strategy.

    Government hiring lead the way with integration and non-discriminatory hiring. These jobs are disproportionally integrated. More so than say Apple Developer’s conference.

    You have to live here and feel it to understand.

    EJ Reply:

    What joe said. Synonymouse is stupid and nasty, but he’s just clever enough not to say openly racist stuff out loud, he just uses code words. Same when he complains about “thugs” on BART. But we all know what he means.

    synonymouse Reply:

    I don’t remember that. There aren’t any thugs and/or bangers anywhere in the US. We’re crime free.

    synonymouse Reply:

    All the incarcerated are political prisoners.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    Joe is an asshole.

    Patronage is not a black stereotype (thug is, of course). It used to be a white ethnic stereotype, back when the Republicans were running against rum, Romanism, and rebellion; today, it’s a union stereotype. Those unions aren’t necessarily diverse, and usually, when they’re diverse, they’re white and black, with few Hispanics and Asians.

    EJ Reply:

    Yes, joe’s a clown, but he’s not wrong here. I’m sorry, but that’s how California politics works. Maybe it’s different in NY or Sweden or whatever.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    In both New York and Chicago, the main associations of patronage are white: the Daley clan, and Tammany Hall. People who want to make racial attacks on Dinkins don’t say anything about patronage; they talk about race riots and pretend crime went up in his administration.

    EJ Reply:

    I’m aware that’s how it works in NY and Chicago; California is different. See above for synonymouse going on about crime, he doesn’t miss that one either.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    Tammany Hall? Which was fading when LaGuardia was elected and died a quiet death 50 years ago?

    Alon Levy Reply:

    Adirondacker: yes, that one. People still remember Boss Tweed, if only as an expression for “corrupt patronage power broker.”

    EJ Reply:

    All the incarcerated are political prisoners.

    Still feel like defending that dimwitted, rightwing creep?

    synonymouse Reply:

    The BART police force should be disbanded forthwith.

    Actually not a half bad idea. **** BART So happy I don’t have to ride it. The KRON reporters the other day wanted to do an interview on BART but it was too noisy.

    Jonathan Reply:

    Joe is an asshole.

    Sometimes it’s hard to tell the assholes from the kooks. Anyone who thinks the State of California should *buy* a controlling interest in Union Pacific (or possibly, buy *all* of it), just to force UP to allow electrification of the UP right-of-way from ~Tamien to Gilroy — all so the 450-odd daily Gilroy riders on Caltrain, can get an electrified trip a few years earlier — is several kilometres beyond the sanity horizon, and accelerating.

    And yes, buying UP is the only way to get UP to agree to a precedent of electrifying their right-of-way with catenary too low for double-stacks. (Or quite possibly, electrification *at all*.) Joe said California should do what it takes:”money and lawyers”, with no bounds on cost.

    joe Reply:

    Electrifying Caltrain to Gilroy would be cheaper than a dedicated HSR track. Folks up here call it “blended”. It would bring HSR to San Jose sooner and reduce congestion on 101 south county with extend service.

    Clem’s simple demographics model validates expansion to Capital and Blossom Hill, two of the five south county stops.

    Joey Reply:

    Sure, the non-feasible option would be cheaper.

    Joey Reply:

    It would also be cheaper to electrify the Tehachapi loop but why would you do that?

    joe Reply:

    It’s cheaper to Blend Caltrain ROW to provide service to SF sooner therefore Tehachapi!!

    Starting at Gilroy doesn’t equates to Tehachapi crossing. UP objecting to a ROW they on offered to see Caltrain doesn’t scare me off.

    Jonathan Reply:

    Joey, you should know better than to bother Joe with facs. Like, the fact that the right-of-way; and UP says “no, not under any circumstances” to HSR on its right-of-way. No, Joe thinks the State of California should make it a state priority to electrify to Gilroy — solely for the 450-odd daily Caltrain riders.

    Facts and numbers don’t matter to Joe.

    joe Reply:

    Eminent domain dumb-shit. That’s how dedicated HSR track will be built between Gilroy and San Jose when landowners say “no, not under any circumstances”

    HSR is building track from Gilory to San Jose regardless of what alternative facts tell you.

    The state rail plan shows double tracking Caltrain / UP from San Jose to just N of Gilroy.

    What I proposed is not likely to happen but it’s far more plausible than Altamont or Tejon.

    jimsf Reply:

    HSR has other options and doesn’t need UP row. I thought they were looking at a couple of other paths.

    jimsf Reply:

    There are several options shown here and none of them involves the up row.

    Jonathan Reply:

    Poor Joe! Ask your friend Alan to explain to you that states, in general, cannot use Eminent Domain on Class-1 railroads. That is the domain of the STB — inherited from Interstate Commerce Commission, by the ICC Termination Act which established the STB.

    And if HSR is building track from San Jose to just N of Gilroy, why does “dumb shit” Joe insist California should electrify the existing UP right-of-way? Riddle us that, jimsf.

    Electrifying Caltrain to Gilroy would be cheaper than a dedicated HSR track. Folks up here call it “blended”. It would bring HSR to San Jose sooner […]

    Please pay attention, jimsf. Electrifying the UP right-of-way south to Giilroy is what “dumb-shit” Joe is talking about; not *me*.

    Mind you, it’s not often that even Joe manages to contradict himself an hour apart; it usually takes a few days, and then he can obfuscate the fact.

    Oh, and it doesn’t matter what obsolete plans show. It’s been reported on this blog that The FRA says HSR has to be separated from existing rail (freight) rights-of-way. And before that, UP was insisting on a .. was it 100 ft separation, or 200 ft?

    EJ Reply:

    @joe you can’t just Eminent domain a railroad like you can other private landowners.

    joe Reply:

    @JimSF – no UP ROW needed or being considered from Gilroy to San Jose. Several options but the preferred alignment connects with Caltrain at the downtown rail station. One alignment elevates UP and HSR track at the station.

    It’s possible to blend HSR at Gilroy and open service sooner than full build to San jose. Not that is in any plan but it’s possible.

    State rail plan is to double track form San Jose to Gilroy and increase rail service. Just suggesting a path forward could involve electrifying the ROW and blending sooner.

    @EJ How much harder? UP offered to sell this ROW to Caltrain.

    @Jonathan – lay off the candy.

    Joey Reply:

    Eminent domain against a railroad can be done at the federal level but not at the state level.

    joe Reply:

    They can add into the next federal funding bill in 2017 or 2020 when they start to build Northward. President Clinton would gladly do Nancy, Barbara and Diane the favor.

    I think UP would back down.

    Jonathan Reply:

    @Jonathan – lay off the candy.

    I guess that’s Joe-speak for “I was wrong on the facts, and I just contradicted myself”?

    joe Reply:

    It’s joe speak for I’m not interested in wrestling with pig.

    joe Reply:

    Caltrain ridership South County.
    – 2001: 1,524 (highest)
    – 2003 HW 101 expanded from 4 to 8 lanes.
    – 2005: 598 (last year of 4 round trips)
    – 2010: 323 (lowest)
    – 2013: 422
    – 2014: 463 (+41 AWR)

    In 2003, the segment of US 101 between Morgan Hill and San Jose, also known as the Sig Sanchez Freeway, expanded to eight lanes between Cochrane Road and SR 85 exits.

    Traffic now typically only runs slow between the Bailey Avenue and Dunne Avenue exits.

    Traffic is backing up again. More middle class homes and residents commuting north. Google runs a bus. Restore service and increase ridership. Clem’s advocated adding more service to two of the five stations. This isn’t rocket science.

    Jonathan Reply:

    It’s joe speak for I’m not interested in wrestling with pig.

    Ah, I see. Joe *still* cannot admit when he is *wrong* about the facts.

    How many month is is it going to take for you to admit that California cannot exercise Eminent Domain against Union Pacific? How many months is it going to get you to take to admit that you *do* and *did* say that California should make it a priority of the state, to electrify the UP line from Caltrain down to Gilroy, just for the beneifit of the 450-odd riders?

    EJ Reply:

    It’s a fun game to argue with joe though, because you never know what you’re going to get next.

    1) Change the subject
    1b) Claim it suddenly doesn’t matter because whatever you’re talking about is politically impossible
    2) Repeat himself more or less verbatim without addressing your argument
    3) Claim he didn’t say what he clearly said 6 comments ago (joe, we know how to scroll up)
    4) Call you stupid
    4b) Call you immature
    5) Try to redefine words so they have a meaning that only exists in his head
    5b) Internet lawyering

    Truly, the possibilities are endless.

    joe Reply:

    The thread:
    Jonathan scribbled Joey, you should know better than to bother Joe with facs. Like, the fact that the right-of-way; and UP says “no, not under any circumstances” to HSR on its right-of-way. No, Joe thinks the State of California should make it a state priority to electrify to Gilroy — solely for the 450-odd daily Caltrain riders.
    Facts and numbers don’t matter to Joe.

    Sorry but I wrote

    Eminent domain dumb-shit. That’s how dedicated HSR track will be built between Gilroy and San Jose when landowners say “no, not under any circumstances”

    I don’t see where I wrote who or how.
    Joey helped with a clarification who could use eminent domain, the Feds.
    So what’s wrong here guys?

    @EJ why no quotes? You once called jimsf a professional victim and his reply was priceless.
    You have a neat story here but nothing quoted. I’m not redefining words or changing topics. You might provide examples. Would you like to go back to the san fransquito creek and explain why my direct answer was evasive?

    Blending HSR from Gilroy to SF is not likely but it’s far more interesting than Altamont or Tejon.

    Joey Reply:

    If we can exercise eminent domain against UP I’m all for it but:

    1) I don’t think we can. Congress being the lost cause that it is, maybe the FRA could try to do it, but I’m still skeptical that the process could be completed in any reasonable amount of time.
    2) There are areas that it would be much more beneficial than Gilroy-SJ.

    EJ Reply:

    @joe I ain’t gonna go through your threads and quote you chapter and verse. What’s illustrative is that you seem to think that you gave a direct answer anywhere in the San Francisquito Creek thread

    joe Reply:


    EJ Reply:
    October 24th, 2014 at 7:39 pm


    You mean the map that shows the 100 year flood, where none of it is near the Caltrain ROW? You don’t get to play the “I’m a scientist and my dissertation was in hydrology” card unless you’re willing to show your work.

    Joe Reply:
    October 24th, 2014 at 10:07 pm

    What units are you reading off that flood map to calculate the size of your aqueduct ?

    I’d want to look at the hydrograph and estimate streamflow during and after storm events. That’s going to tell me the volume of water per unit time. How do you calculate screen flow from the flood map?

    Path of the degree
    is installing stream guages in mountains, recording flow and calibrating discharge curves over the year and for storm events. Never used a flood map. Also experienced recording flow profiles in western rivers by wading actods measuring substrate (Rock) size in a transact. Big rocks mean faster water.

    Well here’s your reply


    So, you’ve described what you would do if you actually were evaluating the project. So all your earlier statements that it would be impossible to mitigate were just pulled out of your ass. Thanks for confirming! Man I love science.

    EJ Reply:
    October 25th, 2014 at 1:47 pm


    Well, how big is it?

    Joe Reply:
    October 25th, 2014 at 6:15 pm

    @EJ Larger than the 7′ concrete wall proposed for the outdated 100 year flood.
    That wall is not acceptable to the community. Flow rates exceed 7,100 cubic feet per second.

    How big is your easy peasy solution?
    Be sure to use the flood map.

    EJ Reply:
    October 26th, 2014 at 7:32 pm


    Did you forget we were talking about how to get the creek over the caltrain ROW if it were trenched, not about how to mitigate the conditions that caused the 1998 flood?

    Aside from telling you the size of the wall, the flow rate and explaining a flood map is meaninglessly, I was quite evasive.

    jimsf called you a little bitch for misrepresenting his comment. I should have taken his assessment literally.

    EJ Reply:

    @joe That’s what I mean! You’re like, “I dropped some mothafuggin science on this bitch!” when in reality it took like 10 back and forth messages to even get you to say that any barrier would be taller than 7′. How much taller? Ssssh, it’s a secret!

    I apologize if English isn’t your first language, but you do know the difference between “explain” and “assert,” right? You referred me to a post referencing flood maps, and then proceeded to assert (not explain, you keep using that word, but I do not think it means what you think it means) that flood maps are pointless.

    I’m actually starting to get curious; you do work in a scientific capacity, right? What happens when you have to interact with a colleague who is actually intelligent?

    EJ Reply:

    Oh and I totally forgot the part where you referenced adirondacker, because he was babbling nonsense as usual. That was… amazing.

    joe Reply:

    @EJ I bothered to look up the wall size, creek flow rates and questioned WTF you want to do with a flood map. A Structure to hold water has to be sized to peak flow. That’s a rate. You claimed building a structure for the ROW was an easy solution and have run away from that claim like a “little bitch” to quote jimsf.

    How tall was your creek structure? You don’t know because you don’t know. adirondacker has more insight into this problem than you. As Did J.Wong and swing hanger.

    joe Reply:

    And I’ll drop some mothafuggin quotes…

    Here we go EJ – what’s it mean to be called a “little bitch”

    EJ Reply:
    October 22nd, 2014 at 5:56 pm
    Just put the creek in a culvert over the trench – the London Underground goes under numerous rivers this way, some of them considerably more substantial than San Francisquito Creek. I’m sure if the Victorians could make it happen even PB can probably handle it.

    J.Wong cautioned

    J. Wong Reply:
    October 23rd, 2014 at 12:30 pm
    “Taking a little creek over the top” except sometimes when it rains it is not a little creek. I’ve seen the entire watercourse full almost up to the bottom of the existing rail bridge.

    Then reality check helped move J Wong’s point with flood history and maps, not me EJ – careless attribution.

    Reality Check Reply:
    October 23rd, 2014 at 7:36 pm
    San Francisquito Creek 1998 flood
    San Francisquito Creek flooding in East Palo Alto
    San Francisquito Creek JPA news clippings
    Army Corps of Engineers Feasibility Study
    Corps of Engineers map representing where water is expected to flood during a 100-year storm

    Now you get aggressive ask me the wall size because your flippant answer isn’t working. You never tried to quantify your simple solution because you can’t so ask me to try.

    EJ Reply:
    October 24th, 2014 at 2:12 pm
    So, do tell. What’s needed to solve the issue and why won’t it be acceptable to Palo Alto?

    And you are told it’s a fool errand to think you could build a solution to Palo Alto.

    Reality Check Reply:
    October 24th, 2014 at 3:27 pm
    A fool’s errand that is! Since the 1998 flood, the creek JPA specifically formed to “solve” (reduce/minimize) the risk of flooding has had a hell of a time getting anything done with consensus and approval from “the community.” Palo Alto is the kind of place — and there are plenty of others like it — where almost any change will not be acceptable to some. With the creek, there is widespread agreement (although also probably not unanimous either) that the status quo is also unacceptable.

    And also you are correctly told…

    adirondacker12800 Reply:
    October 24th, 2014 at 12:35 pm
    It floods in predictable ways
    No it doesn’t. That’s the point of 100 year flood maps and 500 year flood maps and 1,000 year flood maps. And there’s no reason why in any given year there won’t be a 100 year flood, 500 year flood and 1,000 year flood. Especially if you have 100 tear rainfall on Monday and 100 year rainfall on Thursday. And the crews haven’t had time to clear the trees out of the culvert by Thursday.

    So it’s not just me EJ. Your answer was flippant. So change the argument, fuck the math and try bully me over English.
    “little bitch” jimsf nailed it.

    I gave you 7′ wall size which is unacceptable, the flow rates and units. I asked WTF are you thinking with the flood map comment when you dropped a Cpt Kirk logic bomb,

    I do very well in my field EJ. Certainly not intimated or frightened. Every paper, presentation, budget and schedule is scrutinized.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    How do you think they create the flood maps?

    Nathanael Reply:

    Not just for Gilroy to Tamien.

    Buying UP would be quite useful on many other corridors: the Capitol Corridor, the Altamont (ACE) Corridor, the Metrolink Riverside Line, and of course ROW in the Central Valley.

    And of course it would be a profitable purchase for the state of California.

    Jonathan Reply:

    Perhaps buying UP would indee be useful for passenger rail in California. But that’s not the point here.
    The point is that Joe has said California should make it a state priority to electrify the that the 450 daily riders (or was it just Joe? I forget) so they don’t have to wait so many years to ride electric trains.
    We’ve been through all this before.

    Joe is now lying and changing the subject. *Joe*i is the one who brought up “eminent domain”, in response to a statement about the “state of California”. (Along wth the words “dumb-shit”.)

    EJ and Joey both tell Joe that states cannot use eminent-domain against railroads; only the Federal government can. In other words, they tell Joe that he’s wrong on the facts

    Joe calls this ‘Joey helped with a clarification”. Joe is too arrogant to even notice people telling him that he’s wrong; in Joe’s world, a flat refutatoin of a Joe-statement is a “helpful clarification”.

    Joe’s scientific pubicatoins may be scrutinized. But Joe can’t handle even the mildest scrutiy here.
    For crying out loud, Joe *still* cannot admit that he mixed up an upper-bound and a lower-bound; that a one-time, midnight, not-in-service, police-at-every-grade-crossing, Caltrain speed-run, would meet the time requirements of Prop 1A. Even Adirondacker is better than that.

    I can only guess that Joe treats scientific reviewers as human beings with valid insights. But here, on this blog, Joe has to be always right, always smartest. To the point where someone who flatly contradicts Joe, is “helping with a clarification”.

    Nathanael: Joe says California should electrify the UP right-of-way from Tamien to Gilroy because “it would be cheaper” than buying and building a dedicated HSR right-of-way. I really, really want to see the accounting which makes buying UP cheaper than buying right-of-way from Tamien to Gilroy

    Ted Judah Reply:

    This is about as absurd a thread as it gets.

    Synonymouse likes to point out (sound of axe grinding) that California’s public sector unions and Bay Area political machines are very effective at what they do. This is no accident, San Francisco was always a city where unions were strong, and Los Angeles was always the town that prided itself on being an open shop.

    But the racial comment is more because Latinos have ingratiated themselves into the machine in large part by unionizing in specific fields usually around (where else) Los Angeles. However, to assume as synonymouse does that now the Democratic Party is one big happy family is pure stereotype.

    Just wait until Senator De Leon starts picking more fights with the Governor after the election. California might be a one-party state these days, but Communist China we’re not.

    synonymouse Reply:

    When you have one party it splits:

    Ted Judah Reply:

    Synonymouse– We Americans have this ingenious tool to stop factionalism– it’s called a party primary. All your opponents in house have to get up and reveal themselves, their best arguments, and their donors. Then, when you outlast them as the favorite, you know exactly what to say and who to raise money from.

    If Leno really wants to force a split, he should run for Mayor of Oakland.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    What you get when one party splits. The other party wins.'s_23rd_congressional_district_special_election,_2009

    synonymouse Reply:

    Lee vs. Leno represents a deep ideological division: business vs. Berkeley.

    Leno is a lightweight wheeler-dealer type disinterested in transport issues. He is likely compromised by BART-MTC-PB and would probably favor Ring the Bay over HSR-Caltrain-TBT tunnel, etc.

    synonymouse Reply:

    Lee, as city administrator, has extensive experience with transit ugly nitty gritty, like Muni and TWU 250A.

    jimsf Reply:

    Im not sure about LA’s union history with ports, textiles etc, but Im pretty sure hollywood has been heavily unionized for most of its hisory.

    EJ Reply:

    @jimsf – LA is a union town. Even the janitors have one – it exists in other cities now but was pioneered in LA. Hollywood of course is heavily unionized, and the ports, well there’s a reason every time they have openings for a few entry level stevedores they get thousands of applicants. Textiles… not quite as much but they are making progress. And white collar, non-union workers tend to be more sympathetic to unions than they are in other cities.

    EJ Reply:


    The LA Times was (is?) fanatical about being an open shop, and they liked to pretend that extended to LA as a whole. Even when I worked there in the 1990s they took pride in the fact that they were the only major paper where the printing plant staff wasn’t unionized. But in reality LA is heavily unionized.

    Ted Judah Reply:

    I’m well aware EJ that some unions have been successful in Los Angeles. But remember the Times predates the film industry in Southern California. The McNamara Brothers’ attack was before D. W. Griffith even could set up shop in Hollywoodland.

    But that’s my point–San Francisco is union town to its core– and part of the current tension with tech is that they are promoting companies and practices that are antethetical to what the voting and political base holds dear.

    In LA, it’s mixed. For example, in the 1970s most janitors in downtown LA’s buildings were unionized and black. To compete some companies brought in Latinos to work for half the price. Soon the janitor Union was broken and South LA really started to deteriorate.

    All looked groovy for the investor class, until Miguel Contreras organized the janitor strike of 1999. Once Latinos saw the power and leverage unionization brings–now sixteen years later–De Leon is President Pro Tem.

    J. Wong Reply:

    @synonymouse You do realize that all city elections in California are non-partisan? That means no one runs as a Democrat or Republican. So saying there’s a party split because a more progressive politician wants to run against a more centrist one for mayor of San Francisco is completely wrong!

    synonymouse Reply:

    There is nothing in California that is non-partisan. That is how a machine works.

    Jonathan Reply:

    The “thugs” (in Livermore) comment came from former longtime BART board member, Robert S. Allen. Surely that’s the comment you are thinking of?

    EJ Reply:

    Syn does the same thing from time to time.

    joe Reply:

    A Generational flaw.

    Travis D Reply:

    Maybe one of these days you’ll provide evidence for this conspiracy of yours. And don’t cite Tejon Ranch. I’m pretty sure they’d have found reasons to not use that route even if Tejon Ranch never existed.

    synonymouse Reply:

    excuses, possibly; reasons, no

  4. Edward
    Oct 28th, 2014 at 20:43


    noun, plural consensuses.

    1. majority of opinion:
    The consensus of the group was that they should meet twice a month.

    2.general agreement or concord; harmony.

    Gentlemen, Pick your poison.

  5. Jos Callinet
    Oct 28th, 2014 at 20:51

    It is SO heartening to think that CAHSR’s sole reason for being is that it is a marvelous source of guaranteed patronage! According to your logic, synonymouse, patronage income is the true and only reason any dirt is being moved these days to build the HSR system! What a huge waste of everyone’s time, effort and money. Why not just hand out checques to everyone whose hand is extended, and end this charade, once and for all?

    Jos Callinet Reply:

    After all, synonymouse, if what you assert here is true, then Robert Cruickshank, owner and sponsor of this blog, is totally delusional. I don’t think he, Robert, is in the least bit delusional – he has been very clearly focused and solidly grounded on the intrinsic merit of this new hsr system since the day he opened his blog to us commenters.

    synonymouse Reply:

    There is a certain etiquette to purchasing votes. Avoid the too obvious. Julius Caesar was apparently blatant with his payoffs and it proved risky to crassly offend some of the other noble families.

    There is a particular rigueur or charade to be observed. The appearence of legitimacy. Call it political correctness if you like. The “Good Wife” sends it up quite well.

    joe Reply:

    Th “Good Wife” is a fictionalize TV show bearing no resemblance to reality.

    synonymouse Reply:

    Truth is stranger than fiction.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    Reality is even better, you should try it sometime.

  6. Donk
    Oct 28th, 2014 at 21:35

    There was one good point raised by Ralph in the article – the debate about whether politicians should wade into the technical aspects of a project like this. He was arguing that they should.

    One one hand, it would help to have someone else oversee some of the decisions that are being made on the project, like the tunnel under Milbrae and the $5B+ routing thru Palmdale. Problem is that I don’t trust politicians to make good decisions. “Independent” “peer-review” panels have also been called on to review parts of the project, but they also make biased, and in some case dumb decisions.

    I don’t know who to trust with this project. Maybe our best bet is to contract the whole thing out to the Japanese or the Germans.

    EJ Reply:

    They certainly make the trains run on time!

    Alon Levy Reply:

    Funny you mention that, the Israeli postdoc in Germany who I follow on Twitter constantly complains that DB is late and compares it unfavorably with Dutch trains.

    swing hanger Reply:

    He is quite correct in his observations. NS is one of the most punctual systems in Europe, not quite to the level of the Swiss and Japanese, but good considering the density of operations. DB is middling in performance.
    Scroll down to the graph “Railway network occupation versus punctuality”. Old data, but illustrative:

    swing hanger Reply:

    Here is the original source of that graph:

    Alon Levy Reply:

    Ah, so the Brits have the worst punctuality? It figures :D.

    Nathanael Reply:

    “They have a different approach to time in underdeveloped countries like Britain…”

    Edward Reply:

    Another nice thing about transportation in The Netherlands is their chipcard.
    It is a Clipper or Metro Card for anything that runs on the ground or in the water for the whole country, from local buses to intercity trains to ferries. Most convenient.

    The only drawbacks are that you have to have a local bank account to get the senior discount and if you are under 50 (60?) you have to pay a fee to add money at a counter. The machines only take coins or local bank cards.

    A few bus locations don’t charge for adding at a counter, but you have to hunt.
    If you are a tourist don’t sweat it as the charge is small and the convenience is great.

    Richard Mlynarik Reply:

    The chipcard, of course, being worse in every way than the paper ticket system it replaced.

    Worse except for the system vendor, that is. And for the vendors of metro fare gates, and the builders of hugely expensive separated “land side” and “air side” metro passenger access routes.

    You won’t find many Dutch people who share your opinion. Just English-speaking tourists who’ve only been subjected to even worse ticketing and barrier systems in the English-speaking world.

    Edward Reply:

    You CAN do it that way, or you can have a free standing post you tag on your way past and no gates at all. That’s how most intercity trains work. I have friends who buy the year pass for the country – expensive, but not when amortized over the year.

    Don’t confuse implementation with concept. There are no barriers on buses and the cards still work. There are no barriers at most intercity train stations and the cards still work. That is what inspectors are for. My Dutch friends and business associates like them. They are especially useful if it is not worth buying a monthly pass as you don’t have to worry about change.

    My brother was a VP of an Amsterdam company but based in Berkeley. He was given a company OV chipcard card for travel on his monthly trips to the head office. A lot better than having to keep all the receipts and file expenses.

    My associates in Haarlem are of two types: those that like it and those that drive. There are always those…

    Positroll Reply:

    That’s mostly due to a lack of new trainsets after a couple of delays with new orders: Too many old trains that break down more often, not enough reserve trains to fill the gaps. This particular problem should be largely remedied once the new 300 ICX DB ordered start arriving.
    That still leaves the problem that due to its partial privatisation a few years back (The Deutsche Bundesbahn changed into Deutsche Bahn AG, a company that was supposed to ‘soon’ be traded on the stock exchange), DB is nowadays more interested in profits than in uber-punctual trains. So if you want really punctual trains, ask the Suiss …

    Travis D Reply:

    And here is the problem. I see no reason to not trust those that run the thing now. Others seem to think they shouldn’t be trusted just because the plans don’t mesh with their own fantasy model system. And that is what drives me nuts. Someone has their own ideas on what the ideal system should look like and declares any plan that deviates an indictment of the planning process.

    Sometimes we don’t get our ideals folks. I never married Natalie Portman. You aren’t getting your preferred train route. Suck it up.

    synonymouse Reply:

    What planning? Other than a handful of lobbyists and influence peddlers taking the California taxpayers to the cleaners.

  7. Robert S. Allen
    Oct 29th, 2014 at 10:25

    Amtrak in 1999 on 79 mph track at Bourbonnais, Illinois derailed two locomotives and 11 of 14 cars, killing 11 passengers and injuring 128. Passenger trains are vulnerable to accidental or deliberate stalling of a heavy or dangerous truck at a grade crossing. Plans to raise the speed from 79 to 125 mph on Caltrain tracks, with their dozens of grade crossings and plethora of commute stations, defy the “…Safe, Reliable…” premise of 2008 Prop 1A. HSR needs secure (well-fenced, grade-separated) track. Thus the first phase of HSR to the Bay Area should end at San Jose. Safety and Reliability must trump the sacred “one-seat ride” for San Francisco’s mis-named Transbay Transit Center riders. Don’t squander HSR funds to electrify and extend Caltrain tracks that HSR cannot safely use.

    Eric M Reply:

    Just stop with your precious BART and the BS about HSR not being safe.

    BART derailment in Concord. Not so safe and reliable

    Another BART train derailment. Again, not safe and REALLY not reliable

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    There is no significant cost difference between grade separating 79 mph trains and grade separating 125 mph trains or 220 mph trains, Ungrade separated 79 mph trains are just as dangerous as ungrade separated 124 mph trains.

    Robert S. Allen Reply:

    It’s not the cost difference that counts. The impact of a train hitting a heavy truck at a grade crossing, as happened at Bourbonnais 15 years ago, would be vastly more with a higher speed train. There is far more kinetic energy to dissipate. There is much less opportunity for an engineer to slow his train and lessen the devastation. High Speed Rail needs secure track, just as 65 mph roads need fencing and grade separation more than do 55 mph roads. 2008 Prop 1A was for “…Safe, Reliable…” HSR, and HSR on Caltrain tracks would be NEITHER SAFE NOR RELIABLE. The first phase of HSR to the Bay Area needs to end at San Jose. Don’t waste HSR funds to electrify and extend Caltrain tracks that HSR cannot safely use.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    They have trucks and grade crossings on this side of the Atlantic, too.

    Max Wyss Reply:

    …but maybe better educated drivers…

    synonymouse Reply:

    @ Mr. Allen

    If there ever were an operation that might experience a Bourbonnais it would be SMART. But you cannot do any grade separation with ramps if you go with freight and doodlebugs.

    Judge Moonbox Reply:

    Is there something so karmically wrong with dying on a train that you would prefer to die in a car? With all the amateur drivers out there doing amateurish stunts, you’re much more likely to die on the highway than on a train or even an airplane. I would want trains and planes to be safe as economically feasible, but I do not think the lives of people who can always take a train or plane are more precious than those who can sometimes take a train or plane.

    In short, don’t present safety statistics in a vacuum.

    Eric Reply:

    We need to come up with a form like this with which to reply to Robert S Allen, Lewellan, etc.

    Max Wyss Reply:

    Maybe start a petition to Robert to introduce an “ignore” filter…

    Edward Reply:

    There used to be four, or at least four aliases of, people who would get on every site that had anything to do with OS/2, an IBM operating system, and just spend all day denigrating anything/anyone that had anything to do with the subject.

    The solution, which unfortunately won’t work here, was to title all replies to these guys “Fud4”. If you weren’t interested you just didn’t click on the subject line. But then you did have to click on any reply you DID want to read. It isn’t a perfect world…

  8. trentbridge
    Oct 29th, 2014 at 10:36

    Neel Kashkari wasn’t really that bothered by the CA HSR as much as using it as an example of Government wasteful spending in a time of economic misery in California. Guess what? The California economy is doing very well and the state budget is running a surplus. The analogy no longer applies – and it was a really stupid idea to pick an unbuilt train on unbuilt tracks as a “whipping boy”. The reason he smashed a toy train was because he lacked the visuals of a half-built rusty set of HSR tracks smothered in tumbleweeds in the middle of the CV to act as a backdrop. When you want to push economic waste, you have the candidate walk thru’ an empty factory floor staring at the absence of workers and machinery. Thank God the GOP is as clueless as always!!!

  9. StevieB
    Oct 29th, 2014 at 14:45

    Ralph Vartabedian shows how little significance California High Speed Rail has in state politics in his ending statement about Sen. Mark DeSaulnier (D-Concord), who chairs the Senate transportation and housing committee.

    When DeSaulnier called a Senate oversight hearing on the bullet train in March, the only such review by the Legislature this year, no other member of the committee showed up, leaving DeSaulnier to conduct the questioning alone.

    joe Reply:

    The concerned trolling hearing that no peer wanted to participate. He and Gavin Newsome tired to make hay with HSR and got no where. Deleon made a tumbleweed comment and was called to task by his Senators.

  10. datacruncher
    Oct 29th, 2014 at 19:10

    State rail agency seeks to avoid bullet-train injunction battles
    The California High-Speed Rail Authority is facing seven lawsuits over its approval of the Fresno-Bakersfield segment of its statewide bullet-train line. Now the agency is asking the federal Surface Transportation Board — which oversees rail lines in the U.S. and gave a green light to the project over the summer — to declare that those lawsuits should not be able to seek a California judge’s order to block construction.

    The authority’s petition to the federal board, filed earlier this month, is the second time that the rail agency has taken a “head-’em-off-at-the-pass” tactic to argue that federal jurisdiction over the project essentially overrides portions of the California Environmental Quality Act. The lawsuits challenging the state’s approval of the Fresno-Bakersfield segment allege that the state’s environmental analysis of the route was inadequate and does not provide enough measures to make up for anticipated harm to residents, farmers, businesses and communities along the route.

    The Surface Transportation Board, made up of three presidential appointees, is giving project supporters and opponents until Nov. 6 to respond to the rail authority’s petition.

    Each of the seven CEQA cases filed against the rail authority in June are pending in Sacramento County Superior Court, where they await a Nov. 21 court date before Judge Michael Kenny. One suit was filed jointly by Kings County, rail opposition group Citizens for California High-Speed Rail Accountability and the Kings County Farm Bureau. The other six were filed by Kern County, the cities of Shafter and Bakersfield, and a church, hospital and real-estate development firm in Bakersfield.

    In the federal petition, attorneys for the rail authority note that the lawsuits seek injunctions that “would delay or prevent the construction the STB has authorized.” The federal board, the petition states, “needs to declare whether an STB-approved rail construction can be halted by a conflicting injunction issued in a CEQA action challenging project-level compliance.”

    Tim Sheehan’s long article includes more:

    The petition to the STB is at$FILE/236792.pdf

    joe Reply:

    Once again Jeff Denham unintentionally helps CA HSR. CA is asking if the SBT’s approval can be eviscerated by a State Judge. If the SBT agrees then the SBT cedes power.

    Lisa Marie Alley, a spokeswoman for the rail authority, said the agency is simply seeking clarity from the Surface Transportation Board on what its jurisdiction — sought in early 2013 by outspoken high-speed rail critic Rep. Jeff Denham,< R-Turlock — means to the legal process.

    “Now we’re asking them to clarify the effect of the federal jurisdiction on the project … and confirm or deny” whether it pre-empts the ability of the state court judge to issue an injunction to stop construction, she added.

    Tim Sheehan rocks.

    synonymouse Reply:

    SBT[sic] pre-empts Prop 1a.

    Alan Reply:

    Given the cases cited in the petition, particularly DesertXpress, it’s hard to see that the STB could do anything other than grant the Authority’s request. It would make no sense for the STB to preempt CEQA for DesertXpress, but deny the exemption to CHSRA.

    An interesting point noted in the petition was that none of the environmental groups–the professional objectors–were parties to any of the CEQA suits mentioned. They must have been satisfied by the EIR/EIS.

    joe Reply:

    I’m not sure the contradiction would stop the STB from jerking us around but it’s always worth asking a bureaucracy to limit its powers.

    You never know.

    Nathanael Reply:

    It was a good EIR. I read them from an environmental standpoint, and really, it was good, no defects.

  11. nslander
    Oct 29th, 2014 at 19:49

    Hackabedian still has a job? I wouldn’t know, because he was the express reason I finally cancelled my LAT script. I guess they need him there to turn off the lights.

    Alan Reply:

    I guess they need him there to turn off the lights.

    That may happen, since the LAT’s owner, Tribune, has split their newspaper operations into a separate company from their broadcasting properties. The newspapers no longer have money from broadcast profits to keep them afloat, so it’s going to be interesting to see how (and if) they survive.

    nslander Reply:

    I suspect it will go as gracefully as those plaster Mastodons struggling in La Brea Tar-Pits. Speaking of paleocon death-throes: unread and unsolicited copies the LA Register are currently littering my neighborhood like Thai delivery menus.

    I’m just glad Otis and Conrad are not around to witness this.

  12. datacruncher
    Oct 29th, 2014 at 20:44

    Back in April, Fresno’s Successor Redevelopment Agency issued a RFQ/P for 5 acres located just beyond the outfield fence of the city’s baseball stadium. The properties were owned by the former RDA and are just one block or so from the HSR station site.

    Map of the property locations at:

    Thursday the City Council will vote to begin negotiations with one of the three developers who responded. City staff recommends what sounds like the most urban and intensive development.

    The staff recommended proposal calls for two nine-story buildings (each would have 6 floors of apartments, 2 floors of retail/commercial, plus 1 above-ground and 2 below-ground parking levels). The two buildings would be connected by a sky-walk to an existing parking garage. The empty Gottschalks department store was also part of the proposal and the developer says that would be remodeled into retail/office space.

    The other proposals sound like they were more low-rise (1 to 3 story buildings).

    It will be interesting to see if the recommended development breaks ground. It would be a big change to housing in the downtown Fresno area.

    More on all three proposals at

  13. Reality Check
    Oct 30th, 2014 at 00:48

    Caltrain needs more frequent trains


    Of the 19 hours that Caltrain serves the Peninsula each weekday, a full 8½ hours — or 45 percent of the time — it offers hourly or longer-than-hourly frequencies. Even though it has never had more business, it has actually cut the number of noncommute hour trains during the past decade.

    It comes along so infrequently that many potential passengers can’t even consider it for their transport needs. On weekends, it’s even worse: 100 percent of the time, there is an hour’s wait for the next train, except for two semi-expresses. And there is no service at all on Sundays after 9:15 p.m. This for the prime people-mover in three counties with a population of more than 2.5 million.


    Caltrain should embark on a six-month experiment of 15-minute headways during noncommute hours, seven days a week until midnight. That would come closer to matching the headways of its three connecting transit systems, thereby making transfers much more attractive and feasible for the first time. Trains needn’t be five or six cars long — one or two should do nicely.

    Caltrain is now the unattractive, broken link in Bay Area transit during much of the day and week: It could change from that to being a popular and dependable day, night and weekend Bay Area rail partner and passenger-attractor … as it has proven it can be during commute hours.

    Joey Reply:

    While better than some, Caltrain still seems to have the American commuter railroad “serve commuters during commute hours and to hell with everyone else” attitude.

    joe Reply:

    Like only three trains AM PM from south county.

    I disagree that the service connecting to the stations has higher frequencies along the corridor.

    We have a large commuter problem in the Bay Area but trains are still not frequent enough with 30 minutes wait. Secondarily the stations have more frequent bus service, private and public, during commute hours so 15 minute headway will help with connections but bus service needs to be improved.

    Max Wyss Reply:

    Could Caltrain be demand-wise a backbone with 15 minutes intervals and timed local (bus) connections?

    Alon Levy Reply:

    Caltrain proper, from San Jose north, could. The Gilroy extension could not.

    joe Reply:

    I made no such suggestion for 15 service in south county.

    The last three stops should have more AM and PM service. Any idiot who actually uses the roads (101 & Monterey HW) would know this is necessary. We’re backing up on the 101 S but Caltrain service is too infrequent to be a dependable alternative.

    Also the geography in south county favours Caltrain just as it does along the peninsula. A narrower valley paralleling the HW and ROW.

    synonymouse Reply:

    @ Joey

    like SMART

    Joey Reply:

    I haven’t looked at SMART’s proposed schedules. What sort of base frequency are they planning?

    synonymouse Reply:


    They know they will blow thru their funding stash in short order.

    EJ Reply:


    “I don’t know what I’m talking about but I know it sucks.”

    synonymouse Reply:

    No magnet destinations and the current commute buses go closer to where riders actually live.

    Very little revenue in a feeder line to a ferry with a very inconvenient connection to boot. The all-bus trip will be faster, cheaper and reach a much wide range of destinations in SF.

    synonymouse Reply:

    much wider

    Edward Reply:

    From Wikipedia:

    SMART will provide two types of passenger service:
    1) During commute hours, with 30 minute headways, followed by a mid-day train.
    2) Weekend service where SMART will run four round trip trains per day serving tourists.

    Just in case it is not clear, the commute service will be equal in both directions. Most users will not be going to points outside of the two counties, e.g. San Francisco.

    Joey Reply:

    Okay, so shitty off-peak service.

    Nathanael Reply:

    It’s basically rural branchline rail. It’s very good rural branchline rail, though; we’d kill to get something that good in upstate NY.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    Santa Rosa is less than 60 miles from San Francisco and Sonoma County isn’t rural. Not in the parts where the railroad is anyway.

    synonymouse Reply:

    circuitous, many parts abandoned for decades, and lots of very congested grade crossings.

    synonymouse Reply:

    Maybe Caltrain should buy SMART’s doodlebuggies.

    Joey Reply:

    Those might actually be pretty well suited for Gilroy-San Jose service, given that UP will never allow non-FRA vehicles on their tracks.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    Run the twice an hour, at peak, commuter trains in between the HSR trains on the HSR tracks.

    joe Reply:

    HSR tracks will bypass Morgan Hill, Blossom Hill, and Capitol.
    Same problem as the East bay alignment.
    Extend Capitol Corridor Salinas, Monterey, Pajero and Watsonville to GLY and allow transfers to HSR.
    Continue service at Caltain stops to San Jose and onward.

    Locally, double track the ROW (in the State rail plan) to San Martin. Improve reliability and allow two way service. Add three AM CC and PM CC and keep the three Caltrain to SF under CC management for a total of 6 commuter trains. Now there’s enough service to attract drivers.

    The geography in south county favor rail as it does in the north peninsula, narrow valley with development along the row.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    Four tracks of railroad for ten trains an hour someday far far far in the future? Can I have your dealer’s number?

    Edward Reply:

    The SMART car contract gave them the option of buying up to 90 cars. Many more than they need. They have been selling options to buy for $100,000 and have sold over a dozen so far. Easy income that seems to make everybody, manufacturer, SMART and the purchasers, happy.

    Max Wyss Reply:

    The reason for (rather big numbers of) options in such contracts is to be found in the international trading/procurement rules (by the WTO, but also some national legislation), where it is very difficult to put up a subsequent order for another batch of units without having to do another round of RFPs etc.. Having options in the original contracts does allow ordering subsequent units just so. Of course, when the options are used up, the buyer will have to run another cycle of procurement.

    From that point of view, that big number of options makes sense, even if it may be that they never will be used.

  14. joe
    Oct 30th, 2014 at 21:35

    86 sq ft apartment.

    Joey Reply:

    Artificial real estate shortage in action!

    Clever organization of space though – I wish I could pack things into my closet that efficiently.

  15. Robert S. Allen
    Oct 30th, 2014 at 23:57

    Fund SV-BART from Berryessa to Santa Clara Caltrain/SJC, and run a frequent Caltrain shuttle between there and Millbrae, with nearly seamless connections. Connecting rail around the Bay lets everyone benefit

    Oliver Wendell Holmes Reply:

    Fund SV-BART from Berryessa to Santa Clara Caltrain/SJC Diridon Station, and run a frequent Caltrain shuttle between there and Millbrae, with nearly seamless connections. Connecting rail around the Bay lets everyone benefit


    Robert S. Allen Reply:

    OK to consider, but the planning is to Santa Clara.

  16. Useless
    Oct 31st, 2014 at 07:54

    Three firms bid on the second phase of construction. Dragados/Flatiron/Shimmick; Golden State Rail Partnership; and Tutor Perini/Zachry/Parsons

    synonymouse Reply:

    Question is whether Jerry has the nerve to slip the contract to Tutor. Conventional wisdom would advise no but the hubris is abuilding.

    joe Reply:

    All depends on what Tejon Ranch wants.
    Also Patronage Machine and Undocumented-union-no-shows.

    synonymouse Reply:

    usually depends on who has been tithing the best.

    But the smart money is on Tutor taking the dive this time for the good of the Party image; to be made whole later.

    joe Reply:

    Who paid for this clown to pave the way for Brown?
    Tejon, Tutor, PB?

  17. synonymouse
    Oct 31st, 2014 at 10:29

    San Diego paper unhappy with JerryRail:

    But they oughta know Jerry is just a placeholder, like the 4 other ancients, DiFi, Pelosi, Boxer and Reid. They are totally out of it; their handlers take care of business. They are emeritus and comatose.

    EJ Reply:

    I thought Jerry was scheming to give Tutor a contract. Now he’s comatose?

    synonymouse Reply:

    He stirs occasionally and regains consciousness like the aging and shot up Don Corleone in his hospital bed.

  18. datacruncher
    Oct 31st, 2014 at 20:03

    CalEPA released this info today.

    CalEPA identifies communities targeted for cap-and-trade investments
    The California Environmental Protection Agency today identified disadvantaged communities across California as priority targets for investments funded by the State’s cap-and-trade program.

    The State’s 2014-15 budget authorizes investment of $832 million in cap-and-trade proceeds for energy efficiency, public transit, affordable housing and other greenhouse gas-cutting programs. At least 25 percent of those funds–more than $200 million–must be invested for the benefit of California’s most disadvantaged communities.

    CalEPA is designating the top 25 percent of census tracts in California as
    disadvantaged communities for the purpose of investing cap-and-trade proceeds.

    This is a map of the 25% most disadvantaged census tracts.
    CalEPA provided this spreadsheet ranking the most disadvantaged census tracts in the state.

    Per the spreadsheet, many of the 50 most disadvantaged census tracts are in the Fresno area, while many other parts of the SJ Valley are in the 25% most disadvantaged. These funds could help with the development of more transit and HSR station-area housing in the region. For example, perhaps the funds could add to the 2 nine-story apartment buildings proposed for one block from the Fresno station site (as I posted above two days ago).

    Politics will require that funds are spread around the state (I’m sure de Leon will push for a large amount to go to Los Angeles). But I hope there is a significant amount sent to projects in the San Joaquin Valley in the next few years as HSR construction starts.

  19. jimsf
    Oct 31st, 2014 at 23:36
  20. john burrows
    Nov 1st, 2014 at 00:52

    Actually Jerry is up by 21 points according to a Field Poll that just came out. Wonder if Kashkari has a “hail Mary” stunt planned for the last minute.

  21. datacruncher
    Nov 1st, 2014 at 11:00

    Kings high-speed rail opponents: ‘It’s far from over’
    The California high-speed rail project has been on a roll.

    Demolition of buildings has begun in downtown Fresno. The Supreme Court earlier this month refused to review an appellate court ruling in August that overturned two lower-court decisions that had declared that the Authority didn’t have enough cash to start building. Headlines started popping such as “California high-speed rail wins big round in state high court” and “California: A Victory for Rail Project.”

    “With this particular case, we were victors in it,” said Lisa Marie Alley, spokeswoman for the California High-Speed Rail Authority. “It was a big day for us.”

    Game, set, match?

    Don’t pop the champagne prematurely, according to members of the Hanford opposition group Citizens for California High Speed Rail Accountability. They say there are plenty of tough legal battles ahead that still throw big question marks at the proposal.

    J. Wong Reply:

    I’d hope that they’ll finally concede once the tracks are laid, but at this point it wouldn’t surprise me that they won’t stop even when the trains start running.

    synonymouse Reply:

    You mean when the subsidy taxes get slapped on.

    Zorro Reply:

    There won’t be any subsidy, Amtrak CA riders will ride on HSR when HSR is operating, people do ride on trains Syno…

    J. Wong Reply:

    @synonymouse Well, Prop 1A says no subsidy, but according to you, Prop 1A is null and void, so why the hell would they attempt to sue to block based on that? Or, do you think the opponents are so misguided that they actually assume that Prop 1A is still in force?

    synonymouse Reply:

    It won’t be just a few who will be discontent with taxes levied to keep a few trains rattling over the the DogLeg thru Mojave. The politicians will be feeling the heat.

    The Valley farmers need to make Jerry as afraid of them as he is of the Tejon Ranch Co.

    joe Reply:

    Right now opponents are not even in agreement with the current state of the project.
    They continue to argue the Initial Operating Segment is the usable segment.
    Richard’s Jan 15th 2014 testimony indicates that usable segment is no longer in the Plan.

    Mr. Denham. So, just to clarify, you disagree with the
    court’s ruling.

    Mr. Richard. No, sir. I can explain the court’s ruling.
    What the court dealt with was the initial funding plan that the
    California High-Speed Rail Authority provided in November of
    2011–and, Mr. Chairman, it was released just after I was
    appointed by the Governor; it was really in the can ready to go
    before that. That plan described the first “usable segment”–
    and the “usable segment” is the key term, here, that the bond
    act says is what we have to build. The authors of the bond act
    knew that nobody was going to be able to unwrap a 520-mile
    high-speed rail system like a train set under a Christmas tree
    in 1 day. They knew it was going to be built in segments. They
    said that those must be usable segments. And I believe Ms.
    Dolan quoted that in her memo.

    What happened was that the California High-Speed Rail
    Authority defined its usable segment as the initial operating
    segment. And, accordingly, the judge said, “If that is your
    first usable segment, you have to show me all the money, and
    you have to show me the environmental permits,” and we did not
    have those.

    But what was not in front of the judge was the revised
    business plan that we put forward before the California
    Legislature, 4 months later, in April 2012. And, responding to
    a lot of public comment, what we did was we said the valley
    segment is, in fact, a usable segment.

    Mr. Denham. /i>The valley segment, meaning the initial

    Mr. Richard. Correct. And it is a usable segment, precisely
    because, in response to public commentary, we are tying in to
    Amtrak, we are tying into ACE train, and we are doing these
    other things that would give it usability. And I would point
    out, Mr. Chairman, that in its approval of the first leg of
    that, the Surface Transportation Board used the term “usable
    segment” as they–as a justification for why they were
    providing that approval.

    Our view is–and, obviously, the opponents of the project
    will come back and try to test it–our view is that, if that
    valley segment is a usable segment, and we believe it is–that
    we will comply with the judge’s ruling by showing that we have
    all of the funding for that, which we do, and all of the
    environmental permits, which we will.

    Jonathan Reply:

    Joe, Joe, joe. We’ve been over all this before, many times.

    Where are the sources of funding, and when they will be received, for the Centray Valley segment, including electrfication and signalling? Currently there aren’t any, as the Authority acknowledges that they will run out of funding, simply doing civil works and laying track. And no, Cap-And-Trade funds don’t cover that cost, not when the Authority says it will use Cap-and-Trade funds to build south from Bakersfield towards Palmdale.

    Where is the Authority’s detailed funding plan which is going to yield a usable segment

    suitable and ready for high-speed operation*?

    Note, *operation*, not *test*.

    Where is the plan showing that

    (I) One or more passenger service providers can begin using the
    tracks or stations for passenger train service.
    (J) The planned passenger service by the authority in the corridor
    or usable segment thereof

    and again:

    (B) if so completed, the corridor or usable segment thereof
    would be suitable and ready for high-speed train operation, (C) upon
    completion, one or more passenger service providers can begin using
    the tracks or stations for passenger train service, (D) the planned
    passenger train service to be provided by the authority, or pursuant
    to its authority, will not require operating subsidy

    If the Authority makes the ICS, or even Merced to Bakersfield, a “usable segment”, then the ICS (or Merced to Bakersfield), has to meet the “usable segment” requirements, all on its own

    If the Authority allows Amtrak California to run on the ICS, then the Authoirty is legally required to show that Amtrak California can operate without subsidy. “Ooops”.

    Yet another demonstration, that facts and numbers *simply do not matter* to Joe.

    J. Wong Reply:

    “If the Authority allows Amtrak California to run on the ICS, then the Authoirty is legally required to show that Amtrak California can operate without subsidy.”

    Really? My understanding is that the subsidy requirement applies to HSR. Amtrak California is not HSR.

    Jonathan Reply:

    If the Authority allows Amtrak California to run trains over the Central Valley “usable segment”, then are those trains “pursuant to the Authority”??

    J. Wong Reply:

    You’re arguing that the Authority’s plans violate Prop 1A but according to @synonmouse, Prop 1A is null and void.

    Also, the cap-n-trade funds will be used to back bonds for the additional money requred for construction.

    joe Reply:

    The following is testimony provided to Congress. Congressman Denham and Dan Richard. Jan 2014

    So, you are saying that this construction segment will not
    be high speed, it will not be electrified,
    it will just be a
    second Amtrak, which I know Mr. McCarthy, if he were still
    here, has huge issues with having two Amtraks that stop in his
    district and you get on a bus on both of them to go over
    Tehachapis. So, if it is not high speed, because it is not
    electrified, and it is running a subsidy, how does that initial
    construction segment comply with Prop 1A?

    Mr. Richard. Mr. Chairman, I think maybe one of the most
    useful things I could do is to provide the committee with the
    opinion of California legislative counsel.
    In a 21-page,
    single-spaced opinion, they went through and looked at our
    revised business plan.
    They were asked by two of your former
    colleagues in the California Legislature, “Does this comply?”
    They concluded it did.
    That informed the vote of the California
    Legislature to appropriate the bond monies to move forward. And
    they went through an extensive legal analysis about why it did.

    I could try to go through that here, but I fear, sir, that
    we would really get down into the weeds. But what I would say
    to you is I think, for this committee’s purposes today, what
    you are interested in doing is making sure that the Federal
    taxpayers are protected, and that we have the ability to pay
    them back.

    I can’t tell you, Chairman Denham, when we might have
    access to the bond funds. People who oppose the project will
    continue to bring litigation. But I can tell you that we
    believe that our revised business plan is in harmony with
    Proposition 1A.
    We believe that that can be established. And we
    think that we have other backstop mechanisms. So, from the
    standpoint of Federal taxpayers, we don’t think that there is a
    “Does the High-Speed Rail Authority revised business plan comply with Proposition 1A?” The answer that came back from legislative counsel, in a
    very detailed written opinion, was, “yes, it does.”
    That question has never been before Judge Kenny. He was
    dealing with the prior plan. So that is one of the reasons why,
    despite all of the press around this, we do not agree that in
    order to comply, in order to have access to the bonds, that we
    need to assemble $25 billion.
    We believe we have the funds in
    hand, and what we need to do to comply is to show that funding
    plan and to finish the environmental process
    so that we have
    the environmental documents in hand. That is eminently doable.
    What the judge said to us was, `Go back and redo your
    funding plan to show that it complies.”
    My view is that we can
    go back and we do exactly what the judge said. We are not, by
    any stretch of the imagination, Mr. Chairman, intending to
    ignore what the court said. What the court said was, “Before
    you can go forward, I need you to go back and redo this funding
    plan.” In my view, that means updating the funding plan to be
    exactly what was presented to the California Legislature that
    they determined was likely to comply with the bond act.

    I have a choice between your view and Dan Richard. I choose Dan Richard.

    Now you can testify under oath and be questioned – no outbursts – and then I’ll read the transcript. I might change my mind but right now you’re clearly wrong.

    Jonathan Reply:

    Jeff Denham asserted that the ICS was not going to be electrified. Denham said that, *twice*.
    Dan Richard did not disagree.

    So I can only assume that you are stipulating, for the record, that the Authority does not currently plan to electrify the ICS. If so, I really *really* wish you’d tell your buddy Alan, because Alan is in denial of that plain fact.

    Do we *really* need to quote Prop 1A again, AB 3034 2704.08 sec (d)1 and (d)2, yet again?

    joe Reply:

    Richard’s testimony unambiguously contradicts your opinion. His testimony is based on a 21 page legal opinion determining f the Authority’s plan is compliant. This was issued prior to the Legislature’s vote.

    You disagree and want to argue. Why should anyone “wrestle a pig” on this topic? You only get dirty and the pig loves it.

    wdobner Reply:

    Jonathan. The judicial system has proven to have a far more flexible interpretation of Prop 1A and the AB3034 requirements than one would gather from your hyperbolic insistence on the rigidity of those requirements. You may be technically correct based on the interpretation of a word here or there, but at this point it’s looking unlikely that the project will sink or swim based on these molehills you’ve crafted into mountains. Maybe calm down a bit and stop it with the name calling.

    That, and you cannot prove that the ICS will not be electrified. You’ve got a lot of kremlinology there, but no proof of your claim.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    And yet some people (like Alan) keep saying that it’s illegal to switch to Tejon because Palmdale appears on 1A’s list of fundable segments.

    joe Reply:


    The CA Legislature approved bonds only for the Plan they were given by CAHSRA. It services Palmdale.

    synonymouse Reply:

    Prop 1a is vacated.

    PB can whack Palmdale with the ok of the party bosses. All you need is a cover story, aka a jedi mind trick to use on Jerry’s judiciary.

    Jonathan Reply:

    Hey Joe,

    Nice argument-from-authority, there. You claim to be a scientist. *Do* tell us, little boy: what branch of science is appeal-to-authority valid? In what branch of science does appeal-to-authority outweigh actual empirical facts?

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    Yes we all know that you think that it all has to erupt simultaneously from the bosom of the earth or as Mr. Richard said ” The authors of the bond act knew that nobody was going to be able to unwrap a 520-mile high-speed rail system like a train set under a Christmas tree in 1 day.”
    If the legislature had intended for a usable segment to include two HSR stations they would have written that. They didn’t. They said it needs two stations. No mention of electricity or signals or anything else you like to think they said.

    joe Reply:

    Jeff Denham asked a direct question about electrification and Richard answered it. Their plan was reviewed and is compliant.

    Mr. Richard. Mr. Chairman, I think maybe one of the most
    useful things I could do is to provide the committee with the
    opinion of California legislative counsel. In a 21-page,
    single-spaced opinion, they went through and looked at our
    revised business plan. They were asked by two of your former
    colleagues in the California Legislature, “Does this comply?”
    They concluded it did. That informed the vote of the California
    Legislature to appropriate the bond monies to move forward. And
    they went through an extensive legal analysis about why it did.

    joe Reply:

    This is a legal issue dumb-shit. What branch of science doesn’t follow legal guidance?

    You sign a NDA to review proposals. You conduct work following the law. When in doubt you go to a lawyer and get a written opinion to protect yourself.

    What’s science-ish about Prop1a? The State’s lawyers think they are compliant.

  22. Reality Check
    Nov 2nd, 2014 at 13:43

    Altamont Pass and Ex-HSRA Deputy Director Leavitt in the news again:
    Stanislaus, Merced leaders hope ACE rail comes south


    Modesto could get service as early as 2018 and Merced by 2022, with Turlock somewhere in between. The planners do not yet know how to cover the capital cost, estimated at a few hundred million dollars


    ACE is planning the southern branch as part of a larger effort that includes having six trains by 2018 and 10 by 2022, along with track improvements that cut travel times by about 10 percent. This would provide for midday service, more attractive to people traveling for leisure.

    The expansion would mean that ACE no longer would be mainly a way to deliver employees to Bay Area companies, said Dan Leavitt, manager of regional initiatives for the San Joaquin Regional Rail Commission [and former HSRA Deputy Director -RC], which oversees the service.


    The Merced segment would tie in with an early phase of the state’s high-speed rail system, which eventually would link Southern California with the Bay Area and Sacramento.


    Leavitt helped organize Thursday’s excursion, involving about 75 people who boarded the rear car of the morning’s last train. They talked with regular passengers on the way and, upon reaching San Jose, heard a presentation on the current and future service.

    “To help understand what ACE is about, the best way to do it is to get on it,” Leavitt said. He was talking by phone from the Altamont Pass area, where he reported traffic on I-580 moving at 10 to 15 miles per hour.

    Reality Check Reply:


    Contact: Dan Leavitt, SJRRC (209) 944-6266
    For questions, please email: ACEforward
    Follow ACEforward on Facebook

    ACEforward – modernizing ACE The San Joaquin Regional Rail Commission is launching its effort to modernize the existing Altamont Corridor Express (ACE) train and rail service. ACEforward is focused on near-term improvements in the existing corridor and on local leadership. See the press release from June 6, 2013, with details on the official transfer of project leadership and funding for the Altamont Corridor from the California High-Speed Rail Authority to the San Joaquin Regional Rail Commission here.

    joe Reply:

    McNerney Introduces Bill To Create New Rail Project For Altamont Corridor
    Apr 10, 2014 Press Release
    Washington, D.C. – Today, Congressman Jerry McNerney (CA-09) introduced The Altamont Corridor Rail Improvement Act of 2014 to help fund the ACEForward rail program, which will expand rail service between the Central Valley and the Bay Area.

    Drunk Engineer Reply:

    The AceForward program is a joke. After spending hundreds of millions of dollars, the “improved” SJ-Modesto travel time would still only be 2:07. Compare to driving time, which is less than 2hr (even with traffic).

    Paul Dyson Reply:

    Dan Leavitt will be presenting at the RailPAC Steel Wheels conference in Sacramento 11/15/14

    Reality Check Reply:

    Sort of ironic that Dan has left HSRA to head up ACEforward. I recall how Dan as HSRA Deputy Director vigorously and steadfastly defended HSRA’s dumping of Altamont for Pacheco.

    Oliver Wendell Holmes Reply:

    The AceForward program is a joke. After spending hundreds of millions of dollars, the “improved” SJ-Modesto travel time would still only be 2:07. Compare to driving time, which is less than 2hr (even with traffic).

    I don’t drive from Merced to San Jose at rush hour that often, but that doesn’t pass the smell test. The trip is 116 miles and 1:57 with no traffic, according to Google Maps. Anyone who thinks traffic only adds 10 minutes to a 2 hour drive in Silicon Valley at rush hour has never been here.

    On segments I am more familiar with, such as Livermore-Pleasanton-Fremont-North San Jose, ACE is already competitive with driving. It gets from Livermore to NSJ in 55 minutes, while drivers report that route can take 1.5-2 hours in the PM. Fremont to NSJ is 15 minutes by ACE and 45 minutes by car. Not to mention:
    – ACE is reliable. Takes the same amount of time every day.
    – You can read, check email, play games on your phone, sleep, etc. There’s wifi.
    – Don’t need to buy a brand new car every five years like you would putting 150+ miles a day driving in and out from the San Joaquin Valley every day.

  23. Robert S. Allen
    Nov 2nd, 2014 at 22:29

    Alameda County Measure BB on Tuesday’s ballot includes partial funding for BART to the I580/Isabel (SR 84)interchange in Livermore among many county transportation projects. If it gets the needed 2/3 vote, future planning should also include BART to or beyond the Altamont, with a good ACE tie-in.

    Joey Reply:

    Why would the thugs want to go beyond Altamont?

    jimsf Reply:

    The correct place for bart to end is here at the junction of ace/580/bart with easy transfers and a large park n ride to capture traffic before it descends into the livermore valley.

    jimsf Reply:

    ACE captures the southbay bound commuters and bart captures the oakland sf bound commuters.
    IF you make ample parking cheap and easy, people will opt to leave their cars and avoid the hassle of driving and parking in sf. Right now by the time they get to dublin, its too late , they say, oh screw it ill drive the rest of the way. but if you have a dedicated ramp from 580 to to bark parking with an easy walk to the platform, people will use it and the livermore line will see a huge increase in passenger counts

    Reality Check Reply:

    Blood, Dead Body On Tracks Disrupts East Bay BART Service

    BART has shut down service between their East Bay stations of Pleasant Hill and Pittsburg/Bay Point while their police officers investigate reports of “blood and possible human remains” on the tracks.


    At 10:26 a.m., Trost updated media, saying that she could confirm that it was, indeed, a human body on the tracks.

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