Suddenly, Southwest Isn’t Such a Great Travel Option Anymore

Nov 26th, 2014 | Posted by

Since at least 2008, one of the most common criticisms of California high speed rail has been the claim that HSR is simply unnecessary because of Southwest Airlines. Southwest offers frequent flights at dirt cheap fares, so why would anyone spend more money to take a slower train?

This argument has always been rooted in ignorance. In order to believe this, one has to ignore the fact that door to door HSR is actually competitive with flights between the Bay Area and Southern California (since the planned HSR stations are more centrally located than are the airports). One also has to pretend that present conditions will last forever, ignoring the fact that gas prices will be rising in the future, making cheap air travel a thing of the past.

You didn’t have to take it from me. The airlines themselves have been saying this for at least the last six years, including Southwest’s founder, Herb Kelleher, as well as JetBlue and Virgin America.

Finally, one of the critics who has been making these flawed “Southwest means HSR isn’t necessary” arguments has woken up to the reality that, in fact, Southwest isn’t providing cheap flights any more. Here’s Joe Mathews writing at Zócalo:

I may have to take back everything bad I ever said about California’s high-speed rail project.

This thought ran through my head one morning last week at Gate A3 of Burbank airport, as I engaged in another of my now-frequent battles with Southwest Airlines. My morning flight to Oakland had been canceled with little warning or explanation. But Southwest wouldn’t let me on an earlier flight that had room and was still sitting at the gate. The Southwest agent said he couldn’t get me to Oakland before 3 p.m. — and I was scheduled to give a talk at 4. He could get me to San Jose, but wouldn’t offer me compensation for the extra time or car I’d have to rent.

When I protested, he told me to call Southwest customer relations in Dallas. The line there was busy.

I used to think that a $70 billion train project from L.A. to San Francisco didn’t make much sense because the great state of California had Southwest Airlines. For most of my adult life, Southwest has been more reliable in California than any utility. It provided the essential north-south connections in our long, tall state with the downscale charm of a great bus service. It was cheap, on time, and offered constant flights staffed by people who did everything they could to get you to your destination.

It’s not too great a leap to say that Southwest made it possible for me to do my job. I routinely used it to commute from Southern California to Sacramento or the Bay Area for a day of work, often for less than $100 round-trip. While covering Governor Schwarzenegger in the 2000s, Southwest was so good that I often beat the governor, who flew via private jets, to his destination.

But the glory days of Southwest may be coming to an end. Once known for its low fares and high customer satisfaction, the formerly idiosyncratic airline is becoming more like its dysfunctional competitors. Southwest’s on-time performance is now among the worst in the airline business, Flight cancellations are common, and prices have risen well above bus-service level. Walk-up fares approach $250 each way.

Mathews is a really smart guy, so I’ve long been disappointed in him for assuming that the conditions of the 2000s would simply last forever. But he deserves a ton of credit for looking at the facts and reaching the inescapable conclusion that HSR may actually have a meaningful, even vital role to play in connecting California in the years and decades to come.

He realizes that the problems aren’t unique to Southwest:

But in California, Southwest’s troubles have left an unmistakable void, and it’s not clear who can fill it. Other major national airlines offer far fewer in-state flights and, when you count baggage and change fees, are still more expensive than Southwest. It’d be nice if Burlingame-based Virgin America could step up and reduce our reliance on Texas-based Southwest, but it operates in only four California airports: Palm Springs, San Diego, LAX and SFO.

In fact, as I noted above, Virgin America has actually reduced the number of California airports it serves. Earlier this year it announced it was pulling out of SJC – while at the same time expressing interest in operating HSR.

The writing is on the wall. Airlines aren’t going to continue enabling cheap, convenient travel between Northern and Southern California for much longer. In fact, as Mathews explains, they have basically already stopped doing so. This is the problem that HSR will solve, just as it’s solved this problem on every other route it’s been built to serve across the globe. Whether it’s London-Paris, Tokyo-Osaka, Madrid-Barcelona, Beijing-Shanghai, New York to DC – just to name a few – HSR has proven the more popular option once it’s been offered.

And as a result, Mathews reaches the conclusion I reached back in 2006:

In this context, high-speed rail looks less like an extravagance and more like a necessity. Critics of high-speed rail, like yours truly, used to point out that the projected cost of tickets, usually in the $40 to $120 range, wasn’t any cheaper than flying. But with walk-up fares from Burbank to Oakland running $223 last week on Southwest, that’s no longer the case. The projected three-hour train travel time between L.A. and San Francisco also doesn’t seem so bad with all Southwest’s delays.

Welcome to the pro-HSR club, Joe. Glad to have you on board.

  1. swing hanger
    Nov 26th, 2014 at 22:17
    #1

    Hopefully, one of these days (or rather, decades), I can just stroll into the station, buy a ticket at a reasonable walkup fare and be on a train to LA within ten minutes, like I can here in Japan now.

    synonymouse Reply:

    Air fares will likely fall if petroleum does indeed go to price war.

    This unhappy traveler needs to get out more to the real world of rail transit. Say the BART and Muni experience. Then Southwest surprise would seem so bad.

    synonymouse Reply:

    not seem

    EJ Reply:

    How do you know how bad BART is? You always brag about how you don’t use it.

    synonymouse Reply:

    The media gave up on doing interviews on BART as it is too noisy.

    EJ Reply:

    [citation needed]

    Who does interviews on a train anyway?

    synonymouse Reply:

    KRON tried.

    Mattie F. Reply:

    I don’t think you understand the point of the price war. It’s more like a monopoly flexing its muscle to put out of business competitors with a higher cost structure, so that they can charge more in the future.

    Wait, what do I mean “more like”? It IS a monopoly flexing its muscle to put out of business competitors with a higher cost structure, so they can charge more in the future

    synonymouse Reply:

    Some are talking 20 years of cheap petroleum. Who knows.

  2. jimsf
    Nov 26th, 2014 at 22:46
    #2

    I support he project. I support it as designed, current route and all. And I understand and expected the delays. However enough is enough. The level incompetence, and the extend delays, not in contruction progress, but in starting construction period, is not acceptable and there is no escuse for it. Any longer and Californians are going to say screw it to the whole idea.

    No one is more forgiving than I when it comes to the trials and tribulations of large projects in california but I have freakin had it with our poltiticians’ inablity to even take a shit by themselves without fucking it up.

    Enough. GEt is freaking done or we will fire all of you you over paid losers.

    Jerry Reply:

    Loma Prieta earthquake – October, 1989. Part of old SF Bay Bridge falls down.
    24 years later. The new part of SF Bay Bridge opens.
    Patience Jim, patience. :-)
    PS Happy Thanksgiving

    Eric Reply:

    Yeah, that’s the main reason CAHSR is moving so slowly.
    More of a CA thing than a HSR thing.
    Say what you want about social Darwinist states in the Midwest and South, but at least they can get things done without infinite layers of bureaucracy.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    The way Florida got things done is “asshole governor canceled it, and a private company decided it could run trains on a completely different line.”

    Eric Reply:

    Why are no private companies deciding to get involved in CA or the Northeast Corridor?

    Alon Levy Reply:

    Who the hell wants to deal with Amtrak, the MBTA, Metro-North, NJ Transit, SEPTA, and MARC all at the same time?

    Eric Reply:

    Like I said, infinite layers of bureaucracy.

    Ted Judah Reply:

    LOL.

    Alon still has it backwards–a public carrier can always compete at a lower price than a private entity. The main fear on the East Coast is what happens when one state dominates the NEC and can bend other states to its will….

    les Reply:

    What private company can come up with 70 billion, overcome strong Valley anti-sentiment, traverse fault lines, deal with Caltrans, Metro, Ace and etc and still make a profit. All Aboard Florida won’t make a profit from their anti-HSR (only 80 mph) line but only profit off of herding passengers to its’ commercial property interest.

    Howard Reply:

    So if the profit comes from development around high speed rail stations, then there should at least be a new transportation impact fee on all development around new high speed rail stations to fund at least the new station construction. I propose a new California High Speed Rail impact fee levied on all development in every county that has a high speed rail station or track. It would be higher in the 1/4 or 1/2 mile around the station, but lower everywhere else. It would pay for the station in that county or the nearest one. San Francisco is already doing that with the Trans-bay Terminal. Other county’s should follow.

    Wells Reply:

    Another good question goes unanswered:
    Would a slower route option reduce impact/cost?
    Would that option kill 220mph posibility?
    I ask again, in simpler terms only after Richard pulled the question posed
    to joe on this list a few minutes ago. What happened: Questions left unanswered.
    Thanxgiving. I’m thanking the great spirit my bike doesn’t break down much.

    joe Reply:

    A slower system would not reduce farmland impact. Faster speed requires fewer curves. Faster also brings the CV “closer” to the coastal economic centers.

    A station in Kern Co. will increase local economy’s gross domestic product. The increased economic activity and taxes will offset local infrastructure investments and costs.

    synonymouse Reply:

    You are getting “the slower route option”.

    Wells Reply:

    This is how debate is conducted; good question, good answer.
    My priority on this HSR project is simply achieving highest standards.
    The concrete berm/pillar impact, daily/nightly squeel, intersection rebuilds, station area development including a buttload of sprawl. Will straight, high beams and pillars add or subtract from each already developed district, neighborhood and rural railway passage? Proponents ‘assume’ the impact isn’t worth full or fair consideration. Otherwise, studies done, Which route has least impact? U dono dewya?

    synonymouse Reply:

    The I-5 corridor has the least impact throughout. But sprawl is the objective.

    Joe Reply:

    Sprawl is not the objective.

    Servicing the Central Valley is the objective.

    synonymouse Reply:

    On the contrary detouring at great length to Palmdale and Mojave is to enable another LA in the high desert.

    Valley BART? Fresno Area Rapid Transit. That’s just a joke – imagine BART patronage levels without the San Francisco CBD magnet destination.

    EJ Reply:

    I don’t understand. If, as you say, no one will ride it, how will it promote sprawl?

    synonymouse Reply:

    It is segmented. It is 3 regional commutes linked by a backwoods detour.

    SJ south

    Fresno Area Rapid Transit

    Palmdalebahn

    The high desert commute rail line is the real sprawler, especially with the exorbitant Antonovich Base Tunnel. It is indeed all about Palmdale.

    joe Reply:

    NorCal Eriador
    CV Rohan
    High Desert Ruhn
    SoCal Gondor

    One Train to connect them all, One Train to find them; One Train to bring them all and in quiet comfort bind them.

    Wells Reply:

    joe, a bit more definition on this Quad of train system types and service areas.
    Palmdale has a rail line to LA that its leaders don’t want to upgrade.
    Could a Bakerfield/Lancaster system make a better junction? I dono.
    (Nor dono whether to name it elf or ogre)

    joe Reply:

    ” Palmdale has a rail line to LA that its leaders don’t want to upgrade.”

    They want more than an upgrade. LA leadership wants to build a new line.

    http://www.latimes.com/opinion/opinion-la/la-ol-kevin-de-leon-tumbleweed-20140703-story.html

    De León got his wish. The California High Speed Rail Authority has agreed to accelerate work on the Palmdale-to-Burbank segment in Los Angeles County. That would reduce a 90-minute Metrolink train ride to 15 minutes on the bullet train, which would probably get a lot of commuters out of their cars and cut air pollution. It’s a good move. But I’m pretty sure there are tumbleweeds in the Antelope Valley.

    synonymouse Reply:

    In particular the Antonovich Base Tunnel. Profligate and mining in the wrong direction.

    Eric Reply:

    For one thing, it wouldn’t cost $70 billion. $30 billion is more like it, if you use the 2010 CAHSR cost estimates, which we may presume are reasonable because Texas Central is planning around almost identical numbers.

    synonymouse Reply:

    The Antonovich Base Tunnel is not going to come cheap.

    EJ Reply:

    He’s talking about the private proposals to build an I-5 and Tejon alignment. You know, the option you pretend to support?

    synonymouse Reply:

    Sorry, I did not pick up on that thread. The SNCF imbroglio demonstrates that the patronage machine-California political establishment is not going to allow any substantive private involvement in planning or operation. This is strictly guvmint workfare-welfare so long as there is tax money to be had.

    Joe Reply:

    By Patronage you mean CA routes rail for citizens who live in the Central Valley.

    Eric Reply:

    Nope, that $30 billion estimate applies to either I-5 or the east edge of the valley. The latter only requires a few more miles of track on level ground.

    wdobner Reply:

    Texas’ proposed system does not cross a mountain range. It’s uncertain if its going to serve any stations other than the exurban terminals outside the anchor cities. Anything outside that, such as serving the city centers, or reaching Fort Worth results in significant cost increases not factored into current estimates, and results in Texas requesting federal funding to complete the system. Comparing the two high speed rail systems is like comparing an apple to a high speed rail system with two mountain crossings of almost unprecedented scale. Ignorantly applying cost estimates from Texas to California’s system can only ever give the wrong answer.

    Wells Reply:

    Yeah, it was kinda obvious and deserved attention, but still a minor issue.
    When ‘costs’ leads the discussion, the other issues fall by the wayside.
    Do Californians actually trust ANYONE who would live or work there?
    Texans working the system or don’t mind watching those
    Californians go broke while raking the money in piles back in the real USA of Texas?

    EJ Reply:

    The Bay Bridge reconstruction was a freakin’ fiasco. Nobody involved in that disaster should ever run a project in California or anywhere else again.

    EJ Reply:

    Of course, we hired some of them to run CAHSR.

    Wells Reply:

    The Bay Bridge replacement went in well enough. Sure, construction mishaps and budget overruns, but not as much relative to many big infrastructure public works, including CAHSR’s double over-budget in 2011 if I remember correctly, $42B to $98B or so. As long as the new bridge remains standing and clears vehicles on their daily trudge to bean-counting jobs in skyscraper office cubicles, overhead flourescent boiling their brains into submission.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    The Bay Bridge Eastern Span replacement went from $780 million to $6.4 billion.

    Eric Reply:

    http://thebridgesofar.com/

    Mattie F. Reply:

    If we throw away the work done so far, we don’t suddenly get closer to completion. We get back to square zero. And instead of a project that’s 15 years away, we’re back to 1995 where the project was 35 years away.

    synonymouse Reply:

    Remember Queretaro? They just ripped it out after a few years.

    If BART had been delayed for a few years and re-thought we would have been better off. As it was Berkeley had to fight tooth and nail with Bechtel to get their subway, even with paying extra for it.

    Or think of SMART, delaying the start of operations for as long as they can knowing the business will not live up to projections and they will run out of funds in short order.

    Jos Callinet Reply:

    ‘jimsf” is alluding to the fact that political constipation has taken control of our country, and there’s not a laxative in sight that can cure it.

  3. jimsf
    Nov 26th, 2014 at 22:51
    #3

    six figures to do what? Fire them.

    synonymouse Reply:

    If Gavin comes to power ahead of schedule then PB, Richards, Morales might get fired.

    Joe Reply:

    Governor K Harris isn’t firing anyone.

    synonymouse Reply:

    Gavin is a heartbeat away from the throne and doing to Richards what was done to Van Ark.

    And a shoe-in for Guvernator in the next election. They’ll run Harris to replace Boxer.

    joe Reply:

    You misspelled heartthrob. Gavin is a heartthrob.

    les Reply:

    so what, by 2018 Central trunk will have been completed, construction of Palmdale-Burbank sections’ will have been started and it will only be a matter of patching LA and SF to the trunk. who knows, maybe Gavin will have forsaken Kashkari’s toy trains by then and jumped on the wagon.

    synonymouse Reply:

    You mean 2028.

    les Reply:

    no, next election is 2018

    Alon Levy Reply:

    Yes, but completion of a significant HSR segment isn’t.

    Joe Reply:

    Significant.

    Having a segment completed in the Rapudly growing CV is significant enough to swing Gavin.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    Are they planning to complete the Madera-to-just-north-of-Bako segment (as opposed to just Madera-Fresno) by 2018?

    les Reply:

    I guess the humor got lost. C1-C5 is Madera to Bakersfield. For C4 “firms will have until January 30, 2015 to submit their statements of qualifications” C5 is the laying tracks only. C1’s construction other than demo should start in a few weeks. Land acquisition is going much faster for C2-C4 as compared to C1 so not sure why work couldn’t be completed by 2018. Though all 3 pieces were put out to bid at separate times I suspect they’ll be completed simultaneously.

    les Reply:

    It will be interesting to see the results of the C&T auction this week. If Brown can scrap enough funds together to put contracts out for Bakersfield-Palmdale, Palmdale-Burbank and Madera-Merced before he leaves then even Jeff Denham becoming governor couldn’t stop HSR. Final LA, SF and Sacramento segments will have enough local democratic support to will them home.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    The state projects $1 billion of C&T slush fund money available for HSR each year. Early on that’s $2 billion per year because of matching 1A funds, but it’s still not nearly enough to get across the mountains. It might possibly be enough to just get to LA, without Merced, if the HSRA switches to Tejon, but even that’s uncertain.

    les Reply:

    Brown will kick in loans and/or bonds before he leaves. Just enough to ensure LA, SF and Sacramento need only worry about final segments.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    What’s preventing him from kicking in loans and/or bonds now?

    I’m tired of the way American movement progressives convince themselves that any politician who says something about inequality is on their side. The state legislature has the votes to pass single-payer health care, but has not done so. The state probably has the votes to find $6 billion a year to eliminate tuition at public universities, but instead it raises tuition 5% a year. The state could institute a carbon price that’s higher than the denialist $12/t-CO2 of its C&T program, but it chooses not to do so. What makes you so sure that it will spend a meaningful amount of extra money on HSR?

    joe Reply:

    “What’s preventing him from kicking in loans and/or bonds now?”

    Why?! I’m tired of people not understanding how our damn system works.

    Most forget that the CAHSR project has billions to spend into 2017. The project is far form being cash poor in this or in the next election cycle. The project is well funded, critics were saying too much funding to spend in time.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    Ah, so it’s about spending minute amounts of money in each election cycle in order to remind people they need to keep electing Democrats. Funny, I thought it was about completing HSR quickly so that Californians would have decent intercity transportation in this decade.

    les Reply:

    mucho pre-construction work yet to be done. can’t spend on what you can’t work on.

    Joe Reply:

    Government in CA’s runs on an annual budget cycle. The project is fully funded into 2017.

    This is exactly how shit gets done. From defense to Ag.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    No, Madera to north of Bako, without systems or electrification, is fully funded into 2017. This is exactly how shit does not get done: the government promises LA-SF HSR by 2018, and sort of delivers Madera to almost Bakersfield.

    synonymouse Reply:

    California corruption, just like the ongoing Bay Bridge debacle.

    Jerry’s blend of Californication.

    synonymouse Reply:

    clandestine corrosive corruption, just the infamous Bay Bridge bolts.

  4. LAUS
    Nov 27th, 2014 at 10:19
    #4

    http://aviationblog.dallasnews.com/files/2014/11/TWU-Local-555-ad-November-2014.jpg

    Southwest now looses more luggage than anyone else?

    synonymouse Reply:

    Southwest stock went up 6.5% on Friday, the most of any on the S&P.

    James M in Irvine, CA Reply:

    Probably mostly a “cheap fuel” play. High ticket prices are sticking. Once fuel prices increase, the stock price will balance itself out again.

    Jim

  5. Observer
    Nov 28th, 2014 at 09:07
    #5

    Besides explaining why HSR is needed in California, Mr. Mathews did us all a favor and let us know how HSR critics think. Mr. Mathews was against HSR because he simply used Southwest Airlines to get around the state; and because of this he was against HSR! Really. As Mr. Mathews explained, there is a whole other world and a lot more necessities out there besides people flying Southwest Airlines between north and south. Critics arguments against HSR are beginning to fray and fade away. Not even Mr. Newsom will stop HSR now. So on with the challenge and get it built.

    Observer Reply:

    Mr. Newsom will end up taking his words back too; just you watch.

    synonymouse Reply:

    Politicians are opportunists so who knows.

    Still current support for PB-LAHSR is tepid at best. Unlikely that this will remain the case. Either it will generate more enthusiasm or less. The PB scheme is so poorly conceived that disappointments are inevitable and the public will sour on the project. HSR is a fad and fads wear thin over time. Newsom’s political instincts are sound.

    les Reply:

    too little too late!

    Wells Reply:

    Rail travel is no fad. HSR in California will happen.
    The only question is in what form, 200mph? or 125mph?
    Regional rail lines, Altamont, Palmdale-LA, Madera-Gilroy-Monterey,
    Bakersfield-Lancaster, etc, Talgo to Vegas/SLC/Denver/Portland.
    The Bigger Picture is multi/inter-modal how to.
    Rail fans can celebrate December 2014.

    synonymouse Reply:

    Yeah, the HSR phenom definitely has a strong element of fad to it.

    Rob Ford wanted to scrap Toronto streetcars and replace them with his version of a BART. That’s developerthink. His notion of Progress is a noxious fad.

    The gadgetbahn is the quintessential fad. And the LV Monorail shows how they end up.

    Transit has too many enemies; it cannot afford the marginally functional and the graft-ridden boondoggle. The Bay Bridge is lucky it is indispensable. Not so with PBHSR.

    synonymouse Reply:

    And Rob Ford was pushing diesel buses. Now we have to deal with cheap petroleum undermining the argument for electrification once again.

    EJ Reply:

    It’s hilarious to me that you’re a huge streetcar fanboy, and yet you accuse other transportation technologies of being fads. HSR has been around for 50 years and there’s thousands of miles of it worldwide. Some fad.

    synonymouse Reply:

    Real HSR is not a fad any more than streetcars, so true. Boondoggle hsr(aka Palmdalebahn) is a fad.

    Remember both Queretaros, the one they ripped out and the one grafted out.

    synonymouse Reply:

    The remote far-flung, forgotten outreaches of the BART Empire are a fad too. Hastily conceived, not self-sustaining.

    Paul Dyson Reply:

    Fads are in the eye of the beholder.

    synonymouse Reply:

    Precisely – it’s a fad when it is in the eye of many beholders and then after a time it is not. Passe de mode.

    BART was beneficiary of the rapid transit, heavy subway renaissance fad of the sixties. Now it is noisy, retrograde, worn, grungy, yesterday’s panacea.

    joe Reply:

    Labeling things fads is a fad,

  6. synonymouse
    Nov 28th, 2014 at 12:20
    #6

    Central Stubway extension scheme:

    http://www.sfgate.com/bayarea/article/Extending-S-F-s-Central-Subway-would-draw-5920673.php

    Straight down Stockton is the best option to a surface station on the north side of Bay.

    I am surprised that Kirkland Yard survives.

    Joey Reply:

    A fixed-guideway crossing to Marin County is so far down the list of regional transit priorities that it’s barely worth talking about right now.

    synonymouse Reply:

    Sorry to be presumptive – north side of Bay Street.

    Joey Reply:

    My mistake. Still though, I don’t think extending the Central Subway is all that important at this moment.

    synonymouse Reply:

    I agree but they are likely dead set on it to offset the Stubway taint.

    The subway would be in tunnel under Stockton and ramp up on the north side of Bay St. to a surface station and a connection to the existing wharf streetcar line. North Beach station at Stockton and Columbus.

    But they have probably committed to a station at the Pagoda Theater property, which means two shallow curves altogether if you proceed down Powell. Not the best but lack of thinking is the hallmark of the Stubway. It should have been routed on 3rd & Kearny.

    This tunneling should have been directed to Geary with its much, much greater usage.

    Paul Dyson Reply:

    Sounds to me like a lot of sprawl inducing detours. Where does Southwest Airlines fit into this particular discussion?

    synonymouse Reply:

    I am the culprit who unraveled the thread. But Southwest did return to SFO. How can you not love SF even when it insists on screwing up?

    It was the San Jose 49’ers what lost yesterday.

    Paul Dyson Reply:

    “How can you not love SF even when it insists on screwing up?”
    They say the same about Palmdale…

    synonymouse Reply:

    I have never been to Palmdale so I will have to grant you that one.

    But I am ready for some Socal news. The TV says it is warm down there, balmy even. Here freezing and about to pour.

    Are the good burghers of Sta Clarita and environs preparing to go to war with PB over the Antonovich Tunnel?

    Keith Saggers Reply:

    http://sfnextstop.org/

    Alon Levy Reply:

    Crossing to Marin County is really weird, given today’s development patterns. The obvious way to do it is to have a branch from Geary going along the Golden Gate Bridge, as was initially planned for BART. But then the problem is that such an extension would compete for inner Geary track space with the Richmond District, a medium-density urban neighborhood with high transit usage. It would either split frequency (and in general you want your major water crossings to be trunks, not branches) or deprive most of the Richmond of rail service. If there were a lot of TOD around Sausalito and Marin City, it might pencil out. But the NIMBYs of Marin County exist to make the Peninsula NIMBYs look reasonable, so no such TOD can be hoped for.

    synonymouse Reply:

    OPB on the Altamont site some months ago put forth an excellent proposal for a single track under the existing GG auto deck. This would reduce the weight and harmonic factors and be adequate for the number of trains involved.

    The Northbay rail service absorbing SMART, electrified, and eliminating NCRA-NWP freights would replace the existing trunk GGT bus lines 80 and 101. The commute buses would not be affected.

    Unfortunately a rail ROW was not included in the Doyle Drive rebuild so providing that after the fact is a major expense. Tunnel under Lombard to a station at Fillmore thence tunnel under Pacific Heights to connect to the Geary light rail subway at approximately Laguna and Geary.

    Quite pricey but the Marina and presumably the Presidio gets its express rail to downtown. Going down Park Presidio instead does not get you much and of course means Muni has to be underground on Geary that far.

    Another possibility is bus subways(Kaiser Engineers mooted this). GGT hybrid buses could use Muni trolley bus tunnels under Pacific Heights and on Geary.

    Neville Snark Reply:

    Yes Mouse I think building just on the surface (through doing it in a loop, down Stockton, Bay, then back on Columbus, or just down and back on Columbus) is the way — so cheap! So backward looking! So right-thinking!

    Neville Snark Reply:

    Of course, that disqualifies it.

    Michael Reply:

    You probably mean Powell instead of Stockton. The extraction pit for the tunneling machinery is on the west side of Columbus, just south of Filbert. Stockton is a block east, runs on the slope of Telegraph Hill, and is residential north of Filbert.

    synonymouse Reply:

    No, I really mean Stockton as the best alternative. No curves and better ground conditions for tunneling. North Beach Station at the intersection of Stockton and Columbus.

    But the City fathers have probably committed themselves to the Pagoda Theater as a station site and to Powell to Bay and the Wharf. Second rate but par for this project.

    Michael Reply:

    Um, the tunnel is dug. It ends at the Pagoda. That’s a block from Columbus-Stockton. Wherever the station entrance goes they will need to demo the site. I’m making a wild guess that the best location for a station entrance for North Beach is in the ROW of Powell, between Union and Columbus, in front of the previous Washington Square Bar & Grill. Using the street ROW for the station eliminates the need to demo a building or two. A demo’d building at Columbus and Stockton isn’t what North Beach needs.

    synonymouse Reply:

    They did not have to demolish any buildings on Market St. So I guess it depends on how wide the street is. You could always cut into Washington Square, which won’t be the same in any event as there will be bums hanging out wherever you locate a station.

    Overall this is a second rate project dictated by Rose Pak, who, with no doubt help from others, managed to veto the superior 3rd & Kearny route, always envisioned from the outset.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    Don’t forget: there’s much more capacity underground (or elevated) than on the surface, so a subway-surface line should split a single subway to many surface branches, just like Muni Metro does today.

    Not that the Central Subway is going to hit the capacity of even a surface line… but still.

    synonymouse Reply:

    The problem is the streets, which are mostly narrow and sometimes hilly in the North Beach and general Wharf area. The trolley buses really are better suited to these conditions on these surface routes. I think Muni management was correct in replacing the original F Stockton streetcar with the 30 trolley coach in 1950.

    But conceivably you could run some service at rush hours from the planned western extension of the F line under Ft. Mason onto the Central Stubway. I don’t know how they intend to route thru Aquatic Park.

    FDW Reply:

    Actually, the route of the 30-Stockton (and F-Stockton preceded it) is fairly flat, with little in the way of significant hills on the route, and while the streets are somewhat narrower, I really don’t see how that’s a huge problem. In hindsight, getting rid of the streetcars on that particular line was actually completely retarded because of all the ridership that Chinatown generates.

    AFAIK, the plan for running the streetcar through Aquatic Park is to operate on Beach two-way west of Leavenworth, and then to cut north through that Bocce court to the Fort Mason tunnel to either a north or south loop terminal across from the Marina Safeway. (The south loop option would almost exactly mirror the historical terminal of the H-Streetcar, which contrary to most contemporary info, never actually used the Ft. Mason tunnel)

    synonymouse Reply:

    On the 30-F route you have 3 cable car line crossings and serious curves compounded with grades at Van Ness and Northpoint and Columbus and Northpoint. A real safety question with the Hyde St. cable tho much worse at Bay and Hyde. Van Ness and Northpoint is extra congested with GGT buses making that turn also.

    The Ft. Mason tunnel belonged to the Belt Ry. and has been out use for a long time. I’d like to see a map of the proposed F extension route(and also the list of Stubway extension options). Where are you finding that info?

    The F was probably ready for some track replacement and DPW(ever powerful and ever pro-auto)had probably indicated it wanted Stockton and Kearny as a one-way couplet. It is a lot easier to re-route trolley buses.

    Comparatively it was the major corridors, Geary and Mission, that cried out for rail retention and upgrading. Urban Removal provided the coup de grace for the B line in late 1956 but Mission St. was another matter. I guess they never thought of mu’d PCC’s as in Toronto when they were still fighting with the carmens’ union over two man operation. Perhaps Greyhound had bribed some city officials as they got the franchise to replace the #40 to San Mateo.

    FDW Reply:

    The Cable Car crossings aren’t really all that much different from crossing other Streetcar lines. And it was actually four crossings, since I think there was still that one block section on Stockton where there where there was a cable line. Though this problem was somewhat mitigated by the fact that the Ex-MSRy Cable Cars were standard gauge.

    The Grades between Bay/Van Ness and Columbus/North Point aren’t really all that different from several existing segments (like the L on Taraval between 15th and 32nd).

    As for the Fort Mason extension it’s here:

    http://www.nps.gov/goga/parkmgmt/extension-of-f-line-streetcar-service-to-fort-mason-center.htm

    And here’s Central Subway Phase III:

    http://sfmta.com/sites/default/files/agendaitems/2014/12-2-14%20Item%2015%20T-Third%20Phase%203%20Concept%20Study.pdf

    synonymouse Reply:

    The Powell St. lines(Mkt ST. Ry.) and the California St. Cable RR. Co. lines, or what’s left of them, are 42″ gauge. I believe the Castro St. cable was standard gauge, being a remnant of cable ops on Market prior to 1906.

    I remember when a gripman proceeded down the Hyde St. hill in 1967 without the cable but I don’t think the wreckage got as far as Northpoint. We almost lost the cable system at that time.

    synonymouse Reply:

    That is certainly an exhaustive report on the Ft. Mason extension. When it was the O’Farrell, Jones & Hyde Sts. line the terminus was a simple turnback switch in front of the Buena Vista Cafe. Now it features a curved and powered trackage extension into Aquatic Park from ca. 1956. Very interesting:

    “Because of the curved arrangement of the trackage, the
    propulsion cable is configured through the intersection on a “pull curve.” The pull curve is a
    complex subgrade structure for the cable that provides a horizontal pulley approximately every 6
    feet along the alignment in order to guide the propulsion cable through the curve. This structure
    will require a custom, fabricated crossing to accommodate the cable car appurtenances, maintain
    traction power, and isolate the cable car trackage and cable machinery from stray current. The
    cable car system has a track gauge of 42”.

    synonymouse Reply:

    And they are planning to accommodate pantographs in the Ft. Mason tunnel so some operations of lrv’s is a conceptual possibility.

    synonymouse Reply:

    In re the Central Subway extension:

    “The TBM would encounter mixed face condition for an undefined length while descending at an
    approximate grade of approximately 4% from North Beach Station to Kirkland Yard
    Station and passing beneath N2 tunnel beneath North Point Street.”

    N2 apparently is a big-assed sewer I did not know about. If I am reading correctly the tube would be 60′ below the surface at this crossing under the N2.

    Fuggedabout a surface alignment on Powell as you have to get under ridiculously congested Bay St. anyway.

    FDW Reply:

    I know the Cable Cars were narrow gauge, but had been under the misunderstanding the Powell Lines were regauged at some point (like during the big 1982-84 rebuilding).

    As for the Ft. Mason Tunnel, the platforms are only going one-car in length, and that combined with the constraints of single track ops, means that we likely aren’t going to see the T operating through there. (Though we might see single car LRV’s on the E and F in the future, as a way of providing more badly needed capacity, and getting around perpetual historical car shortages without having to resort to buses.)

    synonymouse Reply:

    The lines out of Washington & Mason carhouse go back to the beginning when narrow gauge was more in vogue. The first line, Sacramento & Clay Sts, came out of there until 1942 and indeed its place on the sheaves and its cable vault up Mason were taken by the truncated Cal Cable in the 1956 rebuild.

    Looking at the Stubway western extension ideas I am shocked at the stupidity. One actually calls for looping back south and several have an underground presumably grade separated branching off just about where they are locating their No. Beach station. Dumb. Tunneling from Fillmore & Lombard under Pacific Hts. to Geary is cheaper and more expeditious for an express Marina rail or trolley bus line.

    FDW Reply:

    The Underground Triangle loop is something that I think most certainly won’t happen.

    FDW Reply:

    Straight down Stockton means we would be able to leverage the existing section of tunnel for a North Beach Station. Frankly, the 2B option is best in my eyes, serves Fisherman’s Wharf well (In the way we should’ve served Chinatown), while setting up the Subway for extension westward).

    And Kirkland Yard survives because MUNI really needs it, especially now that it’s about to spend a ton of Money renovating it’s bus yards (which will require closing them, one at a time, and shifting buses around to accommodate).

    Richard Mlynarik Reply:

    “Leverage”, huh?

    What’s the First Rule of Holes?

    Neville Snark Reply:

    I never know what people mean by ‘leverage’. In this case it apparently means ‘take advantage of’, or simply ‘use’.

    synonymouse Reply:

    This line is already too far to the north to go west. That would have been 3rd & Kearny crossing Market at the mezzanine level then onto Broadway cut under the Tunnel thence to Lombard and Fillmore mined deep from Van Ness. Basically replacing the 30X.

    Muni really needs to expand Geary Carhouse-Presidio Yard. But these morons will probably sell off Geary and Kirkland. That’s why they love IBG on Geary – move the storage out of County so they can peddle Muni real estate to their special friends. Done over and over again since 1946. And that’s in part why we cannot get trolley buses on Geary. And why no AFAIK experimentation with 3-section diesel articulateds on Geary. Might work too well and undermine the IBG juggernaut.

    Apparently pro-Embarcadero line advocates have already tried to sell storing some F-line streetcars at Kirkland but to no avail.

    Once again a great big shoutout of **** you to BART, MTC, Bechtel and PB is in order.

    synonymouse Reply:

    Of course if they had not ditched the B, the 5, the 11, 14, 40 on Mission we would not have fight this out interminably with the merchants and the motorist to get back rail on the trunk lines.

    Picture the #11 on 24th St. Could the trendies handle it? Coulda been.

    FDW Reply:

    It might be too far north for you, but that’s not the way I see it.

    And, remembering from what I’ve seen about MUNI’s yard renovation plan, Presidio isn’t going to be sold at all, but there was a suggestion to sell the air rights above it.

    synonymouse Reply:

    That they AFAIK to date refuse to expand it tells all. And the BART machinations.

    And the trolley bus plan from the eighties that was just left hanging. But digging up the M line? Hardly at the top of the list of priorities. My guess is that the Van Ness BRT will prove unexpectedly and remarkably unpopular and place what Muni charitably calls “planning” hors de combat.

    FDW Reply:

    Apparently, the reason why the M-Line project got pulled up to the front was because the people redeveloping Parkmerced were willing to throw some of their own money behind the project, so yeah.

    synonymouse Reply:

    So let’s see if they try to kill the Oceanview street trackage. They will need a ramp to the surface. I guess they could tack it on to the J line.

    And of course what about West Portal and St. Francis Circle? BART just wanted to trash the whole streetcar operation and go heavy rail underground on the M in I believe 1966, which failed at the ballot.

    FDW Reply:

    MUNI considered doing that recently as a part of the TEP, and quite frankly it should be revived as a concept (I actually went to one of the meetings for this project to ask them to provide whatever switches/tail track would be necessary to enable this).

    The Parkmerced project talked about potentially grade-separating these as well. I think it would potentially consist of a new underground station at St. Francis Circle AND West Portal, with the existing surface tracks being used by an all-surface K/L Streetcar. The existing West Portal stop might also be used by this service, with a new short section of tunnel to re-direct it west to Taraval.

    synonymouse Reply:

    Muni has come to show too much love for diesel buses in recent times to trust them to retain the K and the L. Another approach is a major road project grade separation at St. Francis Circle.

    I’d trust Muni more if they were to lay in a new streetcar line with lo floor cars. Say the 19 Polk. How about laying tracks on Mission St. or extending the Cal cable to Fillmore?

    Pretty much anything that does not add up to, enable, or worship the most vile of all urban phenomena: Manhattanization.

    FDW Reply:

    This isn’t 1950 (or Philadelphia) anymore synonymouse, any talk of removing the tracks would be shot down in an instant these days.

    As for Low-floor cars, I’d support bringing them in (along with some historical High Floor LRV’s) for the E and F (and G, whenever the 16th/Judah subway happens), as a way both providing more capacity and staying true to ideas of “Museums in Motion”, in showcasing Urban Rail Vehicles from around the world.

    Joey Reply:

    Ehh, the Bredas should probably be permanently retires as fast as possible and the old Boeings should stay in retirement. They’re both maintenance nightmares even compared to century-old historic streetcars.

    FDW Reply:

    I’d agree with you there, but I’d still keep one of each in enough working order to be trucked out on special occasions.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    San Francisco would have to go through Queensification then Brooklynification before it would have to worry about Manhattanification,.

    synonymouse Reply:

    And then you have Rob Ford, who fortunately, not for him but everyone else, cracked out before he could do any serious damage.

    Muni has dropped the ball and defaulted to the path of least resistance. Hence the 71 electrification dropped, no nothing on Geary, Stubway Stupidity, no Cal Cable extension, no lo floor trams. Instead you get the really troubled Van Ness project, likely to implode as there is no other route for autos than the Franklin-Gough couplet, already jammed and very hilly. And how unfair to those living along those to have their environment further degraded by more cars.

    And outer Van Ness does not even have that much business. You cansee mostly empty buses. Geary is so much more important but BART is playing its iniquitous hand. Lee ought to be ashamed and where is TWU 250A which stands to have many jobs poached by Amalgamated? Maybe the flyweight Leno ought to make Geary and Muni a campaign issue.

    synonymouse Reply:

    @ FDW

    1946 was actually the year of decision. They passed the bond issue and Muni promptly reneged on the promise to get new streetcars and scrapped the entire Market St. Ry. system. It was fortunate tho that there were some trolley bus conversions. It could have been worse.

    Muni planning should have the stones to go back to that decision and propose to undo some of the mistakes. Get a few highway lobby types riled up. How about a line down 11th St.and out San Bruno? Lo-floor trams on Geary?

    Did they ever get away with the extension of the 14 Mission to the Daly City BART station?

    FDW Reply:

    Actually, the bond decision was in 1947, and it didn’t include Streetcars in it at all. Most of the Streetcar was torn in large part due to MUNI stubborn insistence on two-man Streetcar-ops until it was too late.

    And the 14 is serving Daly City BART, or at least the Limited is now. The local will likely start serving it once the Limited service becomes the one using the trolley wires.

    And currently, San Bruno would be better served by a fare-integrated 16ish-tph Caltrain with more local stops and better east-west service.

    synonymouse Reply:

    I think November of 1946:

    http://www.amazon.com/White-Front-Francisco-Interurbans-Special/dp/0916374327

    I googled this and found a rather critical comment about Charlie Miller, aka C.D. Miller, Muni general manager who scored the St. Louis PCC’s on a lease-purchase. He calls him “Seedy” Miller. I believe Miller hired Charlie Smallwood onto the Market St. Ry. and the book is dedicated to him. Those were very difficult times and if you want to blame anybody for Muni’s decline the charge should primarily fall on Mayors Lapham, Robinson and Christopher.

    FDW Reply:

    I’ve read that book (and the related one on MUNI), I thought that there was two bonds, the first bond failed, and a second one a year later (without the streetcars) succeeded. But yeah, MUNI’s decline is more due to the kinds of fucked up and insane ideas about urban design that were floating around at the time, than the individuals executing these ideas.

    synonymouse Reply:

    “The existing West Portal stop might also be used by this service, with a new short section of tunnel to re-direct it west to Taraval.”

    Both the inbound K and the L could ramp down to the M tunnel slightly inside the existing West Portal station. Only one ramp needed for 2 lines, just as with the N and J at Duboce.

    synonymouse Reply:

    better put: ramping down after leaving inbound from the existing West Portal surface station.

    synonymouse Reply:

    Even better the M undergound line ramping up on the outsides in the western end of the Twin Peaks Tunnel to match the existing tunnel grade. Less ripping up of the Tunnel.

    FDW Reply:

    I’d rather force a transfer there (and at Church), so we can maximize service on the Market St Subway while also making service more reliable. My ideas are some similar to this plan:

    http://newmunimetro.com

    synonymouse Reply:

    Oh no, that’s BART. Anathema.

    FDW Reply:

    No, it’s separating surface operations from subway operations, which makes perfect sense.

    synonymouse Reply:

    Just say no to highrises, to the concrete jungle anthill. Just enough air to last the nite. And no to 10 car Muni trains ala BART. Of course that’s exactly what they want on Geary. Highrise tenements to the Beach.

    LA has heavy subway and light rail, to which they are adding crosstown tunnels. That’s not separating.

    To hell with progress defined as diesel buses and BART ghetto cattlecars. You might as well have self-driving electric autos, gadgetbahns, prt’s yada yada. I’d rather have MuskTube than an IBG bastardized, botched iteration of 1900 NYC subway tech. It is hard to do Brutalism and Iconic without stations.

    FDW Reply:

    Unlike you, I actually want San Francisco to be the big city it actually is. I support more high-rises, more density, more activity, more people living here, and more fucking housing. I don’t care if it’s fucking high rise, and sick and fucking tired of this village bullshit.

    And that plan wouldn’t actually involve 10-car MUNI trains, it would likely be multi-articulated units the length of the existing Market St Subway platforms (4-cars, or about 300 feet).

    And you’re also ignoring the fact that this would enable the use of low-floor streetcars on the surface sections of Streetcar lines that now don’t have to go in the subway.

    jimsf Reply:

    FDW is you don’t like the way SF is, then you shouldn’t live there. There are plenty of cities that might better meet your expectations. The draw of SF is the fact that it has some big city perks but retains a small town feel – a group of neighborhood villages each with its own character. Take that away and its not SF anymore its just another very not interesting cookie cutter american city. There are hundreds of those to choose from so choose one and go live there.

    Joey Reply:

    Tall buildings will definitely make the burritos not as good.

    synonymouse Reply:

    FDW, your point is well taken relating to lo floor streetcars but I will call and raise. What is stopping Muni from going to lo floor streetcars on Geary straightaway?

    If you think about this question long and hard you will understand my jaundiced and paranoid attitude. Transit planners, boosters-cheerleaders, and architect types are simply not to be trusted. They will always go for the dumbest, prissiest, cheapest, faddist alternative. They are total phonies who love Brutalist and Iconic and think the TransAmerican Pyramid is the nec plus ultra of beton arme chic but loathe overhead wires.

    So pretty soon here comes a moron like Rob Ford or Jesse Haugh or Roger Lapham and there go your streetcars. I remember so well that SF was the only, I mean only, place with revenue urban electric rail transit in the West in 1966. And the only reason for that was the Twin Peaks Tunnel was deemed too narrow for buses. I honestly think the J survived because of the couple blocks of off street ROW. So for me, who comes from the time of the transit disaster, streetcar lines had better have some kind of capital improvement on route, a tunnel in particular, to hope to survive the barbarians. And believe the unpleasantness of the BART experience is creating another generation of Ronnie Reagans who love cars and think trains are obsolete.

    The WWI generation was pro-rail more or less; the WWII generation anti-rail. The latter had experienced the worn out crowded streetcars of the Depression and the War. Think gas rationing and troop trains. They were putty in the hands of the highway lobby.

    jimsf Reply:

    joey what do burritos have to do with it. The issue is too many people in too small a space which reduces the quality of life for everyone. More crowds more traffic, longer lines for everything less open space, less light less views. ITs one thing for a city in an ugly location with nothing to lose to make itself interesting by buiding more manmade stuff but Sf is in a prime geographical location – a location that in itself, makes sf what it is. a beautful city with a natural setting, thats comfortable, not overcrowded, with views at every turn, and on a fairly human scale… a unique combination among americcan cities ( Seattle would be similar) Its those physical characteristics combined with the – admitadly sometimes annoying- northern california joie de vivre that makes it interesting and desirable. So many of you want to sanitize it the way they turned times square into downtown disney. When my friends an I adopted sf in the early 80s, much had changed since the hundred years prior – the difference was, we valued and embraced and sought to appreciate the past, the history, and everything that came before that made sf a welcoming and comfortable place for us. We had respect. If you people even showed at least an ounce of respect for those who came before you, and the city’s history – which happens to be very interesting if you bothered to give crap – you people who are pushing to change things might not come up against so much oppostition. But this generation doesn’t care anything about history. And that is going to doom you one day. And your tech isnt going to save you.

    FDW Reply:

    Actually, most of the Bay Area loves BART in one fashion or another. I certainly do, and wish it reached more parts of the city, operating more like an actual metro, it’s checkered origins aside. My generation (I do consider myself millennial) though doesn’t have any of the love for or really desire any obligation to the car. I think you’re currently (along with many elected officials) underestimating the kind of support Public Transit has these in cities these days. San Francisco is expensive as shit these days, and I don’t want to be forced out of this city by some NIMBY fucks who insist on keeping this city encased in Amber. If some historical buildings have to be torn down to do this, then so be it, as long the result is a net gain in housing units.

    And Rob Ford completely and utterly failed at getting rid streetcars in Toronto, he didn’t even succeed in getting rid of Transit City plan either.

    synonymouse Reply:

    BART thinks like Rob Ford.

    jimsf Reply:

    so FDW you want to burn the village in order to save it.

    synonymouse Reply:

    “encased in Amber” – what a great idea! Well said.

    Joey Reply:

    jim, I don’t necessarily want the city to grow, but given SF’s perennial desirability which has gotten worse in recent times, I see growth as the only way forward, and I don’t see it as a bad thing. If nothing new gets built, then in the long run existing residents get outpriced and economic diversity goes down – the city changes anyway, and not in good ways.

    Joey Reply:

    Plus, there are plenty of places that new development can take place without disrupting anything. Who is being harmed by replacing parking lots and abandoned factories with 4-6 story buildings in the flatter parts of the city?

    jimsf Reply:

    plenty is getting built anyway. you have a new park merced prject coming and you have the entire eastern neighborhoods from south beach to candlestick where growth is happening on a lot of former industrial land. You also have infill happening all over the city, not to mention excessive heights approved in the new transbay neighborhood ( maybe that should be the name of the neighborhood, “Excessive Heights” (get it haha)
    But these obnoxious new people to sf have a really shitty attitude ( see FDWs shitty comments above) towards san franciscans so of course they are going to react negatively.

    Besides the current boom won’t last, just like the 50s didn’t last, and the 80s didn’t last ( in the 90s after aids and a deep recession the city was practically a ghost town – the street were lines with empty apartments that landlords couldnt give away for 500 a month- yes its true I was there adn the city was a real dark place that was kind of very underground cool) And then the do com – when money was falling out of the sky and raining down upon san francisco.. then poof! another recession and antoher ghost town that reminded me so much of the early 90s – eerie – so this new little flurry of of so self important tech activity – it wont last either.

    Ted Judah Reply:

    Although too much is made of analogies between New York City and the Bay Area, I think like Manhattan, there just has to be a balance between residential and commercial areas and better MUNI connections. Ultimately once the housing market cools there can be more stability and more of that cool factor.

    FDW Reply:

    @jimsf: You’re telling to me fucking leave the city I’ve called home for over a decade? Hell no! I have every bit as much right to have my say about this city as anyone else, and every bit as much right to agitate that the current state of mediocracy in this city sucks ass and that it should strive to be greater than itself again. San Francisco’s supposed to be the city that can, not the city that would not. And while you may be right that another recession will come, there’s inevitably going to be another boom after it a few years later (the next one might be biotech).

    And frankly no, there’s not enough getting built at all right now.

    jimsf Reply:

    I just never understood why someone would move from manhattan/nyc to SF and then complain that its not like NYC. Why the crap did they leave NYC then? Ive said it before, I have moved to several cities over the decades in hopes of finding something better, but when seattle, reno, dallas, for instance turned out not to be the end all be all I didn’t tell people how they should change it to be like sf, I just left. Dallas is Dallas, SF is SF choose the one you like. I would never tell angelinos to be more like san franciscans. I want alngelinos to be angelinos so when I go there I can have the angelino experience. otherwise why ever travel?

    Is the train done yet?

    jimsf Reply:

    FDW blah blah blah. The only reason the city is more sucky now is because you and your friends live there.

    jimsf Reply:

    besides, no matter how much they build, they aint gonna build anything you can afford so you might as well start looking at lofts near the hsr station in Fresno.

    FDW Reply:

    @jimsf: I’m not even in the fucking tech industry, and I’ve NEVER lived on the East Coast period.

    Joey Reply:

    But these obnoxious new people to sf have a really shitty attitude ( see FDWs shitty comments above) towards san franciscans so of course they are going to react negatively.

    All the more reason to make sure existing residents don’t get forced out by rising prices.

    Besides the current boom won’t last, just like the 50s didn’t last, and the 80s didn’t last

    No, but San Francisco was expensive even before the boom. There may have been times of less demand but a city that is affordable every few decades isn’t affordable. If a lot of new housing is built during the boom when developers are the most inclined to build, then it will increase the supply of housing after the boom which leads to more long-term affordability.

    besides, no matter how much they build, they aint gonna build anything you can afford so you might as well start looking at lofts near the hsr station in Fresno.

    The point isn’t necessarily to make new housing affordable. New housing will inevitably be on the higher end because that’s what it’s most profitable to build. The idea is that the price of housing overall goes down, which means that existing units become affordable.

    And there are international examples that show that enough housing can be built to make it affordable. Tokyo, for instance. Of course, SF isn’t Tokyo and shouldn’t be, but it demonstrates that supply and demand is a real thing which should be considered. SF is also a lot more geographically constrained than Tokyo, so some of the burden should be on the rest of the Bay Area to absorb some of that demand.

    jimsf Reply:

    “SF is also a lot more geographically constrained than Tokyo, so some of the burden should be on the rest of the Bay Area to absorb some of that demand”

    yes with that I agree The largest city in the Bay Area is Fremont if my memory is correct That land area could house another million.

    And of course santa clara county – where so many jobs are and where there is a serious housing shortage — why don’t these people every rag on santa clara county to desnify and build more high rises and housing. no they want to cram everyone into one city to thepoint that its no longer a pleasant place to live when you have nine whole counties that could absorb millions.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    You don’t live in San Francisco anymore so stop whining about how it isn’t what you want it to be. Just like you don’t whine about Los Angeles or Dallas or anyplace else you don’t live in.

    FDW Reply:

    @jimsf: Actually, the largest in the Bay Area by land area is San Jose (If water area is included, San Francisco is actually larger). And frankly, I agree that there should be more densification in Santa Clara County. But Santa Clara County’s transit is much worse than San Francisco, and nor should demand in Santa Clara County absolve San Francisco from having to anything about it’s part in regards to the region’s housing issues.

    Joey Reply:

    San Francisco has a lot of work to do, but Silicon Valley cities have policies that are exacerbating the problem. Many of us know about Menlo Park’s refusal to build new state-mandated housing, but even Mountain View, which at least I view as being more forward thinking, is planning to add 3x as many jobs as housing units in the near future.

    FDW Reply:

    Oh I certainly agree, and it’s a big part of the reason why I think we need stronger regional government.

    joe Reply:

    Menlo Park’s the poster child of bay area NIMBY. Facebook campus required they comply with min. housing reqs. or lose the campus. They compiled adding to the lower income areas of the city.

    MTView’s job growth is an anomaly given Google’s ambitions and access to underdeveloped Moffett Field for expansion. It’s a unique set of circumstances that allow google access to so much open commercial space.

    There’s growth is South Santa Clara – Morgan Hill infilling along the Caltrain corridor with Apts/condos and upper middle income homes. Google.s running a bus,. The solutions to further infill and invest in the Caltrain corridor.

    Two stops both of termini, Capitol and Blossom Hill are under utilized given the density and locality. The stations are horrible and so is the service.

  7. Ted Judah
    Nov 28th, 2014 at 17:59
    #7

    Unlike Robert, I don’t think Joe Matthews is always required reading…but at least he got it right this time. However, Matthews and Robert don’t acknowledge the real reason for HSR’s importance in this context:

    1) Load factor. As each flight an airline operates approaches 90% capacity, there’s simply no need or ability for an airline to make much of an effort to be nice to its customers. I give LUV credit for avoiding bag fees, but as consolidation in the industry continues, it’s hard to know if they can keep that up. In the last ten years air travel has gone from an industry that had ruinious compeition to the verge of oligopoly.

    2) Falling demand. Southwest used to be able to overlook the inefficiency associated with short hop flights because demand ten years ago in the smaller “reliever” airports like Oakland and Ontario was so strong. Now, the economy has contracted to make the focus once again about large hubs like SFO, LAX, and the like. That plays against SWA’s strengths.

    3) LAX landing fees. The other reason Southwest was so popular for so long is that they had numerous flights from LAX. This is because landing fees there are much lower than any airport of comparable size in the US. Even though landing fees at LAX are slowly rising, they aren’t doing it fast enough to have one airline try to push the others out and invest in Southern California long term.

  8. Howard
    Nov 29th, 2014 at 20:36
    #8

    FY2014 Projected Results
    The Capitol Corridor finished the FY 2014 on a high note. In September 2014, a total of 119,034 passengers rode Capitol Corridor trains, an impressive increase of 7.6% compared to September 2013, representing six straight months of ridership increases for the service. Revenue for September was an equally impressive 8.8% over revenue in September 2013.

    Drunk Engineer Reply:

    And farebox ratio is an embarrassing 50%.

    joe Reply:

    Ohh. zing.

    Monterey Co wants to expand CC service from San Jose south to Salinas with stops at Morgan Hill, Gilroy, Pajero, Watsonville. and Castroville.

    Drunk Engineer Reply:

    So you’re saying the booming ridership at Pajero will push them into the black? That’s pretty dumb, even for you.

    joe Reply:

    No You make up silly stuff. Public services are not supposed to operate in the black with fare box revenues. That’s what you want because – serious.

    Monterey Co. plans to extend CC to South Santa Clara County and on to Salinas. The service would be commuter oriented.

    Drunk Engineer Reply:

    CC is intercity rail. In most parts of the world, intercity rail doesn’t require subsidies.

    James in PA Reply:

    In ‘most parts of the world’, does ‘intercity rail’ have to live with (shotgun) freight operators who could care less if passengers are inconvenienced? Tons of coal do not care when they arrive but are treated like passengers. G0d forbid Wall St. has to wait a few minutes to get paid for a coal shipment or dispatch of a double stack. Do they even try to accommodate passengers which the impact is small? Looking forward to the day we can have passenger service too.

    http://tinyurl.com/lte7w4r

    http://tinyurl.com/nxpqbf2

    Michael Reply:

    You really need to ride, or at least observe, the Coast Line between SJ and LA. Every trip I’ve ever taken, most freight I’ve seen is a random run of boxcars, like on a model railway. The N-S California traffic is in the Valley, not on the Coast. For those lines, we’ve been pretty generous with public cash to add sidings for expanded passenger service. On the Coast, there’s not much of anything as far a freight is concerned.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    If the problem is freight rail, then Amtrak’s losses are essentially a government subsidy to private freight railroads.

    Ted Judah Reply:

    Ding, ding.

    Now you see!!! It’s about keeping just enough liquidity in the market so as not to force prices downward for the Class I’s.

    Ted Judah Reply:

    Fare box revenue is probably declining because of rising fares. Lost in the weeds is that Sacramento Rt has kept its pass prices constant while Cap Corridor rates to Placer County are rising. It’s not that far for someone to drive into Folsom and save quite a bit of money, especially now that the station in downtown Sacramento is a much further walk to anywhere downtown.

    Realistically farebox revenue for the NCUS should match BART at around 50%.

    Tokkyu40 Reply:

    In 2007 the Federal Highway Administration reported that all dedicated revenues (farebox recovery) covered 52% of the total cost of the highways.
    While we should recover as much of the cost as possible, it’s also good to remember that the trains are doing about as well as the highways at collecting funds directly from the users.

  9. J. Wong
    Nov 30th, 2014 at 10:14
    #9

    It’ll be interesting to see what Caltrain’s numbers are. Traffic on the Bayshore is getting bad. It used to be a 25 minute drive down the Peninsula to Foster City at 7am, but now it’s 40. Caltrain changed their schedule so that the limiteds now stop at 22nd St. to relieve some of the pressure there especially for bikes. 22nd St. is going to get even busier with the approval of the Pier 70 project and its 2000 units of housing all within walking distance.

    joe Reply:

    Traffic on 101 South San Jose down to South County has gotten worse. Backing up regularly in Morgan Hill area both AM and now PM. Metering lights being installed to the end of Sanata Clara Co which should help. Also thicker along the Caltrain Corridor in S. San Jose.

    Howard Reply:

    When will Caltrain bring back the fourth train to Gilroy?

    Clem Reply:

    61673 average weekday boardings for October. Like shootin’ fish in a barrel.

    Jerry Reply:

    So would four tracks all the way help?

    Joey Reply:

    No. Infrastructure improvements only help if they’re driven by service improvements.

    Jerry Reply:

    So is it four tracks PLUS service improvements?
    Or just service improvements and deal with track, grade crossings, etc. later?
    Big issue now for CalTrain is the amount of space for bikes on the commute trains.

  10. synonymouse
    Nov 30th, 2014 at 11:48
    #10
  11. Jerry
    Nov 30th, 2014 at 18:32
    #11

    When people like Joe Mathews compares Southworst Airlines with trains why do they always ignore the leg room factor??

    swing hanger Reply:

    Maybe because he and the average American has never experienced riding a modern intercity train.

    jimsf Reply:

    Who is the average american anyway? WE need one of those court tv sktch artist to draw a composite. what would that look like?

    datacruncher Reply:

    Here is one image of the average American male’s physical build, along with comparisons to the average male in Japan, France and the Netherlands.
    http://www.theatlantic.com/national/archive/2013/10/this-is-the-average-mans-body/280194/

    Jerry Reply:

    So if you use those ‘average’ standards will the airlines increase the seat room?

  12. Reality Check
    Dec 1st, 2014 at 16:18
    #12

    Bicyclists seeks space in Caltrain changes: Transit agency to buy used cars, electrify system

    As Caltrain prepares for increasing ridership by going electric and purchasing used diesel rail cars in the interim, many bike-toting passengers are wondering if they’ll be given consideration.

    Caltrain is looking to spend $15 million to purchase and restore 16 rail cars and planning a $1.7 billion complete system upgrade over the next seven to eight years. But with bicyclists frequently turned away from trains with just two available cars during peak hours, some fear improvements won’t keep up with demand.

    […]

  13. Reality Check
    Dec 1st, 2014 at 16:23
    #13

    Two New Thoughts About High Speed Rail

    By Steve Levy

    At the end of this blog [post] I invite comments on two thoughts related to high sped rail (HSR) in California:

    — Will the spread of options like Uber, Lyft, Zipcar and others help solve the challenge of getting to and from the HSR stations?

    — Will HSR allow households to live further away from job centers in less expensive locations and commute in without adding to car traffic?

    Background

    I was part of the original (1998) HSR consulting team and expressed reservations about the ridership projections. I voted against HSR and have told the Governor, who I voted for and generally support, that I thought the HSR money would be better spent improving intra-regional mobility and commute options.

    The main problem I saw and still see is that there are substantial challenges in getting to and from the HSR stations. These challenges cast doubt on the total travel time and cost projections and, hence, the ridership projections. One clear problem is that most if not all stations do not have the capacity to house the parking, shuttle and taxi service that is available at airports in the Bay Area and Southern California.

    […]

    Howard Reply:

    All the airports I have been to do not have all of the parking and rental car facilities next to the terminal either. They have local public transit and limited expensive premium parking only next to the terminal. To access the rental car facility or the plentiful budget parking one needs to use a shuttle bus or rail people mover. The California High Speed Rail Authority plans for the California High Speed Train stations to operate the same way, especially with the CHSR train stations being downtown. I think instead of shuttle busses we should improve adjacent local rail and train stations. Let them get more ridership.
    For example:

    At Diridon Station (the San Jose high speed rail station) Caltrain and/or BART should serve as the shuttle train to the lightly used Santa Clara Station. The Santa Clara Station would be expanded to host the rental car facility and the economy parking garage. It’s only one station away (College Park does not count). Alternatively the proposed San Jose Airport to Diridon train station people mover would allow the airport to share parking and rental car facilities. A similar facilities sharing is planned for Burbank.

    At the Gilroy Station (Monterey Bay Area HST Station) an extended Caltrain (to Hollister) could shuttle passengers to a new Monterey / Bolsa Road Caltrain Station (south of US 101 and the Monterey Road interchange). This new Caltrain station would host the car rental facility and the economy parking for the Gilroy HST Station. People would use a frequent two way Caltrain service to go between. It could also be a park and ride station for Prunedale and Aromas Caltrain commuters.

    A few stations, like Trans-bay Terminal, may be transit only (no parking). Other stations, like the under used Millbrae station may need no changes beyond what is planned anyway (parking structures).

    joe Reply:

    One station if downtown.
    Gilroy’s downtown HSR station would have both Caltrain and HSR arriving at the same site. The UP tracks would even share grade separations for a non-trenched option.

    http://www.gilroyhighspeedtrain.org/wp-content/uploads/2012/04/Vision_Report_Final_web.pdf

    The Downtown Station Area Preferred Vision Alternative
    proposes 1,700 residential units; 250,000 square feet of retail;
    1,000,000 square feet of office; 200,000 of conference center
    use; and 350 hotel rooms. Of the 1,700 residential units,
    approximately 670 units would be accommodated south-east
    of Downtown, in the area south of Tenth Street and west of
    Chestnut Street. The remaining 1030 units would be integrated
    in the Downtown area, which are slightly fewer units than the
    projected 1,576 units in the Downtown Specific Plan.

    [god awful on site parking]

    The CHSRA projects that station parking
    demand could range from 1,000 spaces on the day of opening
    to a maximum of 6,500 spaces at full build-out. Only twenty
    percent of the required parking spaces need to be located in
    the direct vicinity of the station, whereas the remaining eighty
    percent of spaces could be at locations within a 3-mile radius.
    Some remote parking facilities with shuttle service to the station
    could be considered in the south-east of downtown to allow
    for the best use of land surrounding the station. In addition,
    existing parking lots within the 3-mile radius that may not be
    used to capacity currently, could serve as potential parking for
    HST users as well.

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