Once Again: HSR and Schools Benefit Each Other

Apr 19th, 2015 | Posted by

A Republican Assemblymember from Santa Clarita, Scott Wilk, has a new op-ed in the Sacramento Bee arguing for taking the Prop 1A bond money away from HSR and giving it to schools.

This is a very old anti-HSR argument, dating back to at least 2008 and the days of the state budget crisis. Voters have never shown any sign that they buy into this false choice framing. But Wilk manages to go there anyway:

On Monday, the Assembly Transportation Committee can take the first step in derailing the bullet train by passing Assembly Bill 6. It would give voters the chance in November 2016 to cancel high-speed rail and redirect the $8 billion to build schools and college facilities.

Wilk then goes through the familiar, even rote list of Republican attacks on HSR. He says voters would reject it (no, the most recent poll, from March 2014, shows they still back it – and Neel Kashkari, the GOP’s 2014 gubernatorial candidate who ran on an anti-HSR platform, lost big). He says the project was promised to be $33 billion and has simply become more expensive since then (so what? It’s still worth building). He says the fare has risen to $81 (which is still cheaper than flying will be in the 2020s or 2030s). He says the ridership projections have been inflated (no, they weren’t, and HSR lines always have high ridership). And so on.

California schools should be better funded, no doubt about it. And Proposition 30 showed how to do it: tax the rich. Governor Jerry Brown has said he’s not inclined to want to extend that tax once it expires, but it’s hard to imagine how the state can properly fund schools without it.

But there’s a deeper problem with Assemblymember Wilk’s notion that HSR and schools are incompatible. It suggests that the future is irrelevant. If we took money from HSR and put it into schools, it would be denying those students a future that is more sustainable and more affordable. It doesn’t make sense to focus solely on education by undermining actions to help those kids graduate into a world with jobs, where the seas aren’t rising and flooding out cities, where drought isn’t drying up the state.

HSR creates desperately needed jobs for the parents of many kids, especially in the Central Valley. Poverty is the biggest obstacle to a good education, and HSR helps reduce it. By generating new economic activity as well as new tax revenue, it helps fund the schools, both through direct construction as well as the various benefits and savings created by the operation of an HSR system.

I don’t expect AB 6 to go anywhere, and it should die in committee. California can have good schools and good high speed rail. They complement each other, no matter how hard it is for Scott Wilk to understand that basic fact.

  1. Emmanuel
    Apr 19th, 2015 at 14:38
    #1

    Reading through it, this is not the topic I expected so I will hijack this. Wouldn’t it make sense to strategically place HSR station close to large universities? Many college students do not have cars for various reasons and many also do not wish to own one as it comes with a variety of costs, responsibilities, risks and so on. On the Pacific Surfliner I have seen a dramatic portion of passengers being students who were commuting from LA to UCSD.

    Considering that each university has around 30,000 students who have to and want to commute between their temporary university housing (apartments, dorms, etc) and their parent’s homes wouldn’t it make sense that CHSRA would keep this demographic in mind? I think the one group of people who are the least likely to complain about a HSR station nearby are college students Even if only 1/5 of all the students at college campuses throughout our state would consider HSR a viable alternative that would mean tens of thousands of guaranteed passengers and that’s assuming for solely practical purposes. We all know students would also use the train to travel to other cities for the weekend to attend an event up in SF or down in LA.
    Students use the train, HSR gets funding, it’s a win-win. If it really proves useful I could even see universities subsidizing HSR passes.

    I know from Bakersfield that one of the plans has a HSR station close to a local CSU, but I wonder if they keep this in mind when looking at other cities as well. The segment to San Diego would definitely make a stop near UCSD as well. So here is my appeal on how HSR and schools benefit each other.

    Peter Reply:

    IIRC, business travelers are the main “target audience”, making downtown stations more important than college ones.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    Business travelers travel year round. Not just at the beginning and end of semesters and holidays.

    Ted Judah Reply:

    Most people traveling to research universities aren’t students, however. The kids are strictly for show.

    Alan Kandel Reply:

    Think about where the majority of California’s universities are located. Most are in the Bay Area and Los Angeles with scattered others in the San Joaquin Valley, Sacramento Valley, San Diego, Sonoma, Chico, San Marcos, San Rafael, and so on and so forth. All of these universities have reasonably good access to passenger rail now (or will have) via city rail (light rail), commuter rail and heavy rail networks. These or many of these will no doubt link directly with high-speed rail once built. The San Joaquin Valley is right now behind the curve but this may not (and hopefully will not) always be the case. Only Monterey, San Luis Obispo, Santa Barbara and Santa Cruz are the cities with universities that will be somewhat detached in this regard. Presumably in the future some type of rail-based and/or road-based shuttle service will be offered, similar in principle to airport shuttle services.

    Personally, I just don’t see this as being a huge problem.

    J. Wong Reply:

    Yeah, look at all the universities that will be near HSR: Cal, SFSU, USF, UCSF, Stanford, Santa Clara, SJSU, UC Merced, Fresno State, UCLA, the list goes on…

    Ted Judah Reply:

    I actually had the same epiphany several years ago that nationally HSR should focus on connecting universities with metro areas because of the development of industries and rapid flow of ideas. It’s a really old idea, like Henry Clay old, but I think there’s merit to it.

    However, like the American System I don’t think we get real HSR outside of the coasts and thus the number of beneficiaries will be small: Ivy League Schools, CA land grant colleges, etc.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    Huh? The NEC isn’t going to make any detours to serve Ivies. I think one of the inland route options serves UConn, but that’s it, and frankly even UConn is basically bycatch for Hartford. Nobody’s proposing detouring for Princeton or even stopping at Princeton Junction, and the other Ivies are either already urban (Harvard, Brown, Yale, Columbia, Penn) or way out in the sticks (Cornell, Dartmouth).

    With California HSR, the only UC that comes to mind is Riverside, and that’s indeed in whatever’s left of the official plan for Phase 2.

    EJ Reply:

    UCSD will be connected to downtown via the SD trolley by the time Phase 2 is built (SDSU already is). Berkeley is already connected to TBT via BART. San Jose State is less than a mile from Diridon. The Purple Line will eventually connect UCLA to LAUS, and the Blue Line will run to LAUS from USC. That’s just the existing connections off the top of my head, I’m sure there are others.

    Lewellan Reply:

    Suppose San Jose State justifies the Gilroy route. Or, would instead the Merced campus then via Altamont past corporate campuses to Stanford capture more student ridership?
    Go!Gilroy!Gorillas!! (naught)

    Alon Levy Reply:

    The Transbay-BART connection isn’t the greatest, but yeah: urban universities are not good station locations, because it’s hard to get to them, and it’s better to get to the CBD instead. That’s the Northeastern situation, too.

    EJ Reply:

    Eh, it’s two blocks away from Embarcadero BART. Good enough for most people. If you really need a direct connection between BART and HSR, you can always take BART all the way to Millbrae. The point is, build HSR to the CBD, because the university should also have good transit connections to the CBD.

    Michael Reply:

    Cal students and staff get free AC Transit passes. Transbay buses will bring them directly to the Transbay Terminal from their neighborhoods all over the East Bay.

    Donk Reply:

    In San Diego, you also get Cal State San Marcos and Palomar College on the Sprinter route between the Escondido HSR and the Oceanside Surfliner stop. And of course the San Diego State stop via the trolley. So with SDSU, UCSD, and San Marcos, the only missing university is really USD. I assume they have a shuttles from Old Town to USD.

    Peter Reply:

    I assume they have a shuttles from Old Town to USD.

    Yes.

    Joey Reply:

    Unfortunately they have eliminated the option for a station near UCSD, despite the preferred alignment passing very close to it.

    Donk Reply:

    Right, but either way it would have been a shuttle ride to campus. I guess one will have to take the trolley from SAN to UCSD. However, many more visitors will arrive via the Surfliner, either from Old Town and the trolley or from the Sorrento Valley station, as they do now.

    I just drove past UCSD a week or so ago, and it looks like they are doing some serious construction to improve traffic flow between I-5 and Sorrento Valley – this has always been a huge PIA.

    As far as I remember reading the Nobel drive Coaster station is d-e-a-d.

    Donk Reply:

    Here is the obituary on the Nobel Drive Coaster station:

    http://www.utsandiego.com/news/2014/jun/21/coaster-nctd-sandag-utc-nobel-university-city/

    Donk Reply:

    A tunnel under Miramar hill would shave 7-8 min and around 5 miles off of the total route between LA and SD. However, since all trains would likely stop at UTC, and remain stopping at Sorrento Valley, the actual travel time would not likely decrease too much, but rather the travel destinations would increase greatly thru access to UTC/UCSD/PB from the north.

    The best option would be to have the Surfliner tunnel under Miramar Hill with an underground (deep elevator) connection to the terminus of the trolley at UTC. This will apparently cost $435.5M, compared to $517M for a rough directly under I-5 that does not stop at UTC. Not sure if these figures include the station cost.

    http://www.keepsandiegomoving.com/Documents/I5-Corridor/I-5.LOSSAN_Board.pdf

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    When there’s more trains an hour, the kodama can stop at Princeton Junction once an hour. One of the benefits of having compatible platform heights.

    EJ Reply:

    Would Princeton students take it? When the NE regional costs half as much? I guess there’s a few rich kids there, but most college students are chronically broke.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    The people watching their budget will take NJTransit. Those trains will be stopping at the same platforms.
    The equivalent of the Northeast Regional will be the trains stopping at Princeton Junction. The business travelers to and from suburban Mercer County will put whatever level of service their expense account allows. The suburbanites in Mercer County will be using whatever level of service they want to pay for for their pleasure trips to Boston and DC. They’ll probably take NJTransit for part of their trip too.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    There already are a few intercity tph on the NEC, and yet nothing with an Amtrak logo ever stops at Princeton Junction anymore. The area’s Amtrak stop is Trenton.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    Three Regionals stop in Princeton Junction on weekdays. Few of them stop because the local track from the switches near New Brunswick to the switches near Trenton are slow. ( “only” class 6 )
    The Keystones that go to Boston can skip it. The Keystones that terminate in New York can stop there. Or vice versa. The once an hour from Richmond can stop there and the super express that leaves New York or DC at the top of the hour and at the half hour can skip it. Or it can be the once an hour NY-DC local, Newark, New Brunswick, Princeton Junction, Trenton, Cornwells Heights, Philadelphia, Chester, Wilmington, Newark, Aberdeen, Baltimore, BWI, New Carrolltown and DC. Half an hour later the one that stops in Newark, Plainfield, Bound Brook, West Trenton, Jenkintown, Fern Rock, Temple, Market East, Suburban, 30th and University City, Chester, Wilmington, Perryville, Baltimore, BWI, New Carroltown and DC. Reviving North Philadelphia might make sense.
    … they need the tunnel from Rahway to North White Plains in 2050 because there’s 12 intercity trains going through Manhattan. A few of them can stop in Princeton Junction.

    EJ Reply:

    Are you sure? I was certain Alon was wrong, but I checked the timetables on the Amtrak site and none of the NEC ones have Princeton Junction listed.

    JJJJ Reply:

    Its listed as a footnote, not on the timetable proper. Both New Brunswick and Princeton have regular Amtrak trains. Princeton gets 3 southbound, NB gets 2. NB I believe it’s 2 and 1.

    Princeton to Philadelphia:
    6:16am – 6:53am
    0 hr, 37 min
    111 Northeast Regional

    7:05am – 7:42am
    0 hr, 37 min
    181 Northeast Regional

    8:13am – 8:50am
    0 hr, 37 min
    641 Keystone Service

    Richard Mlynarik Reply:

    Its listed as a footnote, not on the timetable proper.

    Jesus fucking Christ.

    America’s Finest Transportation Planning Professionals.

    Because a “timetable” is something foreign not suited to Our Unique Exceptional Conditions.

    (And numbers in bold face denote PM … Obviously. Except when they don’t. See the footnotes.)

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    It called a condensed timetable. It keeps it from being so wide it scrolls across for pages and pages.
    They don’t list all 87 stations. Though Connecticut went and added one without a whole lot of drama recently so it may be 88. With level boarding. Without shutting down the whole New Haven Line.

    Joey Reply:

    There’s plenty of room on the NY-DC timetable. It’s not listed on the others.

    JJJJ Reply:

    Also, in addition to my other reply, if youre in New Brunswick, going to NYC, at the very height of rush hour, the schedule is…

    NJ Transit 5:31pm
    NJ Transit 6:29pm

    A massive 1 hour gap! during peak rush hour! It is insanity.

    However there’s a 6:05pm Amtrak that stops in NB (and Princeton) going to NYC if you want to pay $30 and do the trip in 29 minutes rather than $13 and do it in 59 (and wait for the massive gap to end)

    Ted Judah Reply:

    The really cool potential is to link big research universities in the Austins, Lawrences, Ann Arbors, Charlottesvilles, etc to the cities that are already going to get HSR. But since I first came to that conclusion, I realized the inland states are never going to get true HSR but more of a hybrid, German approach.

    Tokkyu40 Reply:

    I think HSR from LA to Tucson is practical, and Chicago to the coast is a natural.
    I’m for connecting them with a 125 mph DMU line from Tucson to Las Cruces/El Paso, then along Pecos, Midland, Abilene and DFW, up through Little Rock, Memphis and St Louis to Chicago.
    The DMU express service could do LA to New York or Washington in 36 hours, or a little longer than it takes currently to run from LA to San Antonio.
    Run 3 trains a day each direction plus as much freight as we can safely add to keep the rails busy.

    Danny Reply:

    modally HSR is between a plane (inter-regional) and commuter rail (intra-regional): for example, CAHSR’s “local service” on the San Diego line would stop at places like Temecula, Riverside, San Bernardino, Pomona, Covina (I think?): sprinkling in university stops seems like an odd move–people are debating whether even local stops at airports are worthwhile since they’re in non-dense areas and distant from the bulk of residents (it’s easier for us suburbanites to drive, say, 10 miles to the CBD than between 5 and 20 miles for another suburban location)

    HSR university stops would basically be used as a fast way to move around the region: universities would be better served by access to LRT and subways, and improvements of commuter rail so there’s two-way service that comes more than once every 50 minutes on weekdays only (requiring shorter and lighter trainsets–BART without the bad aspects)

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    If you can’t scare up ridership to the regional business district there isn’t enough demand for an intercity train to stop.

    Danny Reply:

    yeah, it’s like those “hot spots” on SimCity

  2. Jerry
    Apr 19th, 2015 at 17:45
    #2

    False choice framing is correct.
    Why not just take some of the money away from the security/military industrial complex.
    Remember the old bumper sticker about the US Air Force holding a bake sale for a new Bomber?

    synonymouse Reply:

    Of course the guvmint throws money away. What is your plan to stop it?

    The Chinese Navy is not holding bake sales; neither is the Ayatollah.

    Jerry Reply:

    Navies? Really, China’s Navy?
    China’s one and only aircraft carrier is a used ship from the Ukraine and refurbished to practice landing aircraft on it. But they are beefing up their navy and we should beef up our navy in response so we don’t have a Chinese invasion and be forced to take a Chinese HSR train instead of a Japanese HSR train.

    EJ Reply:

    Synonymouse can’t even handle seeing black people on BART. Of course he’s terrified of the Chinese Navy.

    Ted Judah Reply:

    What? I think it was like BART was like a Knicks game these days?

    Ted Judah Reply:

    *I thought*

    EJ Reply:

    That’s why he doesn’t ride it. It’s too “ghetto” and filled with “thugs,” as he puts it.

    synonymouse Reply:

    Expensive, noisy, boring, jammed, ugly. I’ll leave BART to the desperate cubicle slaves.

    Ted Judah Reply:

    …yeah…but you are retired anyway. Your daily commute is to the grocery store….

    synonymouse Reply:

    Pretty much. I mostly lost my wanderlust.

    synonymouse Reply:

    China wants the US out of Asia and they will get their wish.

    To me their foreign policy is inscrutable – they spend time squabbling with Vietnam and Japan meanwhile sucking up to Pakistan.

    BTW does Pakistan’s bomb really work? If it did how come they did not give one to Al Qaeda, their pet?

    Useless Reply:

    synonymouse

    > BTW does Pakistan’s bomb really work?

    Yes, it was detonated.

    > If it did how come they did not give one to Al Qaeda, their pet?

    Because transferring nukes outside of Pakistan would mean the end of current Pakistani regime as we know it. It would basically a Iraq War II situation.

    synonymouse Reply:

    I should have said still work. Maybe their tech has been sabotaged.

    EJ Reply:

    Perhaps it’s the case that the Pakistani government is made up of rational, thinking people who understand that giving terrorists nuclear weapons is insane?

    synonymouse Reply:

    Which, of course, is why they harbored bin Laden.

    EJ Reply:

    I thought you were talking about giving him nukes.

    synonymouse Reply:

    I am suggesting the Pakistani nukes may have been quietly neutralized or inactivated without the general populace knowing it.

    Seems more than miraculous fanatics teeming in that region have not gotten one and used it yet. a spook deus ex machina?

    Useless Reply:

    synonymouse

    Well since Pakistanis built the nukes, they would surely know how to maintain them?

    Nuclear weapons are not super hard to build; this is why every 3rd world dictators want one.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    Except for the billion or so dollars for the enrichment plant.

    Useless Reply:

    adirondacker12800

    Yes, enrichment is hard, building nukes is not.

    In fact, old nukes can be recycled into new nukes too.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    yes they can be recycled into new ones. With a half billion dollar recycling plant. Assuming you can get your hands on something to recycle.

    EJ Reply:

    I mean, as ill-conceived as our support for the Nicaraguan Contras was, I’m pretty sure Ronnie and Ollie never considered giving them nukes.

    synonymouse Reply:

    Probably you are not old enough to remember the days when the US used to blow up its own territory just to show the rest of the world our nukes still worked.

    EJ Reply:

    That isn’t the same thing as giving a terrorist nuclear weapons.

    synonymouse Reply:

    It all depends on how crazy you are for jihad.

    EJ Reply:

    Oh, so we’re talking about Fox News Pakistan, not actual Pakistan?

    synonymouse Reply:

    Consider Egypt, which elected the Brotherhood in probably a reasonably honest election for the Middle East. Pakistan is just as militant, if not more.

    Both are ruled by military dictatorships which try to downplay the local populace’s support for al Qaeda and ISIS and jihad in general.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    Syn, you realize that the Muslim Brotherhood is not ISIS, right? In fact, the Palestinian chapter of the Muslim Brotherhood, a.k.a. Hamas, is engaged in brutal battles with ISIS, which is starving Palestinian refugees in Syria.

    synonymouse Reply:

    Yeah, just as I know Sunni is not Shiite.

    But they all agree grosso modo they want to return to ca 700 AD. Sharia but with cell phones.

    I think you could make a decent theist or deist argument in favor of a hidden hand as none of these fanatics has gotten to the bomb and used it thus far. Does not sit well with murphy’s law and the general perversity of events.

    EJ Reply:

    Do you have a source for any of this? These are just right-wing talking points.

    J. Wong Reply:

    Actually, Pakistan is no longer ruled by the military ever since Musharraf gave up control. (He gained power in a coup in 1999.)

    Useless Reply:

    Jerry

    > so we don’t have a Chinese invasion and be forced to take a Chinese HSR train instead of a Japanese HSR train.

    You don’t have to worry about that. Both are disqualified in California due to their inabilities to meet FRA Tier-III crash standards.

    Tokkyu40 Reply:

    The trains won’t be running with freight trains at the same time, so we can get a waiver for the export version.
    JR East has a version of the E-7 (the ef-SET) that would pass the reduced ramming test requirements.

    Jerry Reply:

    The Ayatollah doesn’t know how to bake, and neither did his mama.

    Jerry Reply:

    False choice framing is correct.
    The next false choice framing will be to take the HSR money and spend it on water.

    synonymouse Reply:

    Already happening.

    Captain Kirk joins Moonbeam in Senilia:

    http://www.cnbc.com/id/102605559?trknav=homestack:topnews:5

    Jerry Reply:

    Don’t forget that it is Republican Scott Wilk (representing Ronnie’s Simi Valley) and the Republicans who will be trying to out hawk Hillary in the race to answer the phone at 3 am when we decide to give a nuclear response or not. (Who do you want to answer the phone?)

    But Scotty says we must stop the crazy train to help education. But it is Scotty Wilk’s Republican Party that wants to do away with the US Department of Education. (And I forget the other two that Rick Perry wanted to eliminate.)

    Tokkyu40 Reply:

    Who do you want answering the phone at 3:00 am when your consulate is under attack?

  3. trentbridge
    Apr 19th, 2015 at 21:10
    #3

    “It would give voters the chance in November 2016 to cancel high-speed rail ”

    Not to flog a dead analogy – but won’t the train have left the station by then?

    In other words, it would be astonishing if CA HSR had not managed to clear some CV land, and build a few miles of track, even erect a few bridges, etc by the time November 2016 rolls around. To imagine that the voting public will then reverse its attitude on HSR is like believing that people will move from Oakland to San Francisco in November 2016 because the rents are lower.

    synonymouse Reply:

    Hell, yeah.

    The early Chunnel attempts ended in abandonment, and so with the Panama Canal. Railways are abandoned all the time.

    Travis D Reply:

    Which were private endeavors.

    synonymouse Reply:

    Queretaro. Adios NdeM.

    Public endeavors end up private when guvmints go broke.

    EJ Reply:

    The one in the mid-1970s was a government project.

    Peter Reply:

    Early Chunnel attempts were abandoned because of fears that Britain’s national defense would be compromised. They were probably also going to have serious technical difficulties, but that’s a different story.

    synonymouse Reply:

    Please explicate the implosion of the NdeM.

    EJ Reply:

    How about YOU explain it? Since you’re the one who seems to think it’s relevant.

    synonymouse Reply:

    It is the future of FailRail.

    EJ Reply:

    Oh boy, well that’s convincing! Because N de M went bust 20 years ago in a different country, that means CAHSR is doomed!

    synonymouse Reply:

    A nationalized railway that was a major accomplishment of the Revolution and which party was still in power. And still the NdeM was spun off.

    Yes, the analogy is sound. Mexico is getting to be almost as corrupt as California.

    Say does anyone know when the next big CAHSR news is coming out? I mean will Judge Kerry announce his findings sometime around December or so? And when can we expect someone on the inside in the PBbunker to leak which is the finalized Burbank to Palmdale scheme to be rammed thru?

    I dunno what the Judge is going to rule. Will he go soft and and just wave PB on thru or come down hard on Prop 1a? Not easy to predict.

    On the Palmdale deal my guess is some version of SR14 somewhere not too far from Sta. Clarita. The raison d’etre of PB-CAHSR is the Palmdale regional commute op; any long tunnels will reduce possible commute stops in the closer and more valuable part of the route. Plus the tunnels will prove embarrassingly expensive.

    Maybe PB should have started at Burbank to Palmdale instead of nowhere to nowhere. Or should I say more nowhere to nowhere. So if it peters out they will have accomplished at least part of their primary objective.

    Travis D Reply:

    Fresno and Bakersfield are hardly “nowhere”.

    synonymouse Reply:

    As I recall Fresno and Bakersfield(any maybe Modesto)routinely exchange the trophy for US #1 “city” for car theft. I guess that makes them hardly nowhere. Lots of meth labs too I understand.

    Jerry Reply:

    Mexico? N de M?
    Hey there’s a Proposal for a HSR route between San Antonio and Monterrey, Mexico:
    http://offthekuff.com/wp/?p=58271

    synonymouse Reply:

    Different country?

    In 1969 you could walk across the border at Calexico and jump on the NdeM to Mexico, D.F. and enjoy an ex-NYC classic sleeper all the way for poco dinero.

    So don’t tell me your pols, Demos and all, will want to subvent this thing big time and forever.

    EJ Reply:

    Cool story, bro.

    StevieB Reply:

    The opposition party, in the case of California the Republicans, will often introduce legislation that has no hope of becoming law to gain votes among supporters in their districts. In this case the forlorn bill received the desired media attention in the Opinion section of a newspaper and on the local radio station.

    Danny Reply:

    political indecent exposure, IOW?

    Jerry Reply:

    Trentbridge
    “and build a few miles of track ……by the time November 2016 rolls around”
    Sorry, but building the tracks calls for a separate contract after Construction Packages 1, 2, 3, and 4 are finished.
    And probably a separate contract for the electrification.

  4. Travis D
    Apr 19th, 2015 at 23:31
    #4

    I wonder if anyone proposed a bill to take the money for the CA14 and I5 carpool lane direct connector and use it to build schools? Obviously it didn’t work but did anyone propose such a thing?

  5. Ted Judah
    Apr 20th, 2015 at 07:30
    #5

    I mentioned this on the last thread, but I bears repeating: Prop 1A is GO bond debt. The schools are already getting extra revenues to pay off old debt. The schools aren’t really having a problem issuing debt now because of the strength of the economy. So even if the bill meant no Prop 1a was spent, nothing reverts to the General Fund.

  6. Spencer Joplin
    Apr 20th, 2015 at 09:33
    #6

    AB-6 would be the sixth HSR de-funding bill to die in the Assembly Committee on Transportation. From the bill analysis:

    “Committee concerns: While there is no doubt that the state has a need for additional funds to improve existing and build new school facilities, it is not clear why those funds need to come at the expense of the high-speed rail project. California needs both high-quality educational facilities and a high-quality, modern transportation system. While the funding hurdles facing high-speed rail are daunting, the project is proceeding and its unsteady beginning is not without precedent among mega-projects. The project may not be progressing as smoothly as hoped, but it is progressing and is better off today than it was three years ago when the Legislature committed to the project. Stopping the project now by redirecting the bonds will cause hundreds of millions of dollars of work and study to be wasted. Instead, the Legislature should redouble its resolve to the project and thereby improve the likelihood of its success in luring federal and private investors.”
    https://leginfo.legislature.ca.gov/faces/billNavClient.xhtml?bill_id=201520160AB6

    It’s also interesting that this bill was introduced on the first day of the legislative session.

    StevieB Reply:

    There have also been two Senate bills reducing funding which failed passage in the Senate Transportation and Housing Committee. Legislators introduce bills with no hope of passage so that they give the appearance of working for their constituents. This bill has served its purpose and will go no farther.

    Ted Judah Reply:

    Yeah bills are the currency of Legislatre and that’s why the process is so messy. You could actually get much better results if there was more discipline and organization of how bills are circulated.

  7. Reality Check
    Apr 20th, 2015 at 14:04
    #7

    Meanwhile, the Green Caltrain blog is sounding the alarm on seating lost on dual door-height EMUs:
    Might Caltrain trains have less room after electrification?

    At the last Caltrain board meeting, Caltrain staff reported results of technical investigations into the potential for rail cars allowing compatibility with High Speed Rail. The good news is that it looks to be technically feasible, and High Speed Rail is offering to contribute funds to enable compatibility. The worrying news is that the resulting system might have less room for passengers than before electrification, and it could take ten or more years to catch up.

    […]

    * Might the state and taxpayers be better off if High Speed Rail looked harder for compromise-height trains?

    […]

    jimsf Reply:

    just choose one height for caltrain and hsr and raise all the caltrain platforms for level boarding ( and hsr compatibility) and be done with it. that way you get level boarding for everyone and the ability to stop an hsr train at any station should the need arise.

    J. Wong Reply:

    Yes, because we can just wave our hands and have all the platforms raised to the same height at exactly the same time.

    J. Wong Reply:

    Actually, if you didn’t realize it, they are going to choose one common height between Caltrain and HSR. The dual doors are an intermediate solution to handle the fact that all the platforms cannot be rebuilt at the same time.

    Paul Dyson Reply:

    And what about Southern California?

    Joey Reply:

    Given that Metrolink seems to think that it’s still 1895 I’m not optimistic.

    Clem Reply:

    Right. We are solving the problem that Metrolink has yet to realize it also has.

    Michael Reply:

    Compared Transbay, Union Station has more than enough space for dual height platforms.

    Roland Reply:

    And what about Amtrak and Capital Corridor when they have a direct (no BART/bus) connection to Transbay? Are people supposed to stand between SF and Sacramento to make room for another set of doors?

    Michael Reply:

    Wow.

    Clem Reply:

    But but but the Coast Daylight!!! Come on, Roland, you’re better than this.

    Ted Judah Reply:

    Moot point. If BART’s ballot measure passes next year, the Bay shall be ring and its a non-issue.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    Or they can raise the platforms half a platform length at a time during the transition.

    Jon Reply:

    Wouldn’t that require doubling the length of the platforms? Sounds more expensive than dual-door trains.

    Joey Reply:

    No, it just requires running mixed consists of old and new cars, though there are probably some compatibility issues there.

    Jon Reply:

    Is that even possible, given that the new cars are EMUs and the old cars are unpowered? Even if this was feasible, HSR trains would be limited to use the high half of the platform, which would need to be lengthened to accommodate a HSR train.

    I really don’t see what Alon is proposing here. Caltrain isn’t like Muni Metro, where the trains are much smaller than the platforms.

    Joey Reply:

    On the other hand, CalTrain runs mosly 5 car trains right now AFAIK. Platforms should probably be lengthened to 8 cars in the long term, and doubling the current length wouldn’t be too much beyond that.

    Reality Check Reply:

    With the recent arrival of the 16 Metrolink Bombardier cars, Caltrain will begin running some 6-car trains as those cars are refurbished and are put into service.

    If Caltrain would stop needlessly stopping locomotives on platforms, it seems there should be enough room to run 7-car trains if you let the southmost car take the place of the locomotive on the platforms.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    Right now, the platforms are 7 cars long and the trains are 5 cars long. This means that during the transition, 2 cars would not open to the platform, and people would have to walk back or forward. It’s an annoying kludge and it increases dwell times, but it happens on Metro-North at many stations. The advantage is that once the transition is complete, all doors on the trains would be usable, keeping dwell times short; with the Omneo, only half the doors would be usable.

    Jon Reply:

    Gotcha. I’ve seen that workaround used in the UK, but usually only when one or two platforms on the line were too short; and even then it would be the first and last *doors* of the train that were not opened, so passengers did not have to change cars, just move to the other door in the same car. I can’t see this working at every Caltrain station for an extended period of time.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    If it’s 3 cars plus a quarter of each car, then it could work that way on 7-car platforms, but just barely.

    Roland Reply:

    * Might the state and taxpayers be better off if High Speed Rail looked harder for compromise-height trains?
    Absolutely! The Russians figured that out a while back: “1100 mm high platforms are gradually changing to 550 mm platform height”: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Railway_platform_height#Russia.
    Here are the main reasons why the majority of European countries ended up agreeing on 550mm (21.69 inches) platform heights:
    1) It is the best compromise for double-deck EMUs
    2) It is the best compromise for Very High Speed (VHS) trains.

    Clem Reply:

    There is no VHST anywhere in the world with 550 mm level boarding capability. There is one VHST prototype with 760 mm boarding capability: the Talgo AVRIL.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    The best compromise for double-deck EMUs is high platforms, very wide doors at the ends of cars, and stairs both down and up. The reason Europe is standardizing on 550 and 760 mm is that it has an enormous number of legacy platforms at or near those heights. In contrast, the US has legacy platforms that are either high enough for level boarding to normal single-level EMUs (1220 mm) or not high enough for level boarding to anything (203 mm). The correct thing for the US to do is to standardize on 1220 mm and remember that there exists a world outside Europe.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    550 and 760 except where they aren’t.

  8. Travis D
    Apr 20th, 2015 at 14:08
    #8

    Legally they can’t redirect the money, right? There’s the bond money, which I believe can’t be spent elsewhere. The ARRA money which can’t be spent elsewhere. I guess the cap and trade money can be redirected but not to schools.

  9. Reality Check
    Apr 20th, 2015 at 14:55
    #9

    Five teams pre-qualified to bid for HSR construction in Kern County

    […]

    The next contract will include about 22 miles of the high-speed rail infrastructure from the Tulare-Kern line to the northwestern outskirts of Bakersfield. It will include construction of roadway overpasses, waterway and wildlife crossings as well as relocating four miles of the existing BNSF Railway freight line. Engineers for the state estimate the cost of the work at $400 million to $500 million. The California High-Speed Rail Authority expects to seek formal bids on the project within weeks.

    […]

  10. StevieB
    Apr 20th, 2015 at 20:20
    #10

    The Assembly Transportation Committee defeated AB 6 by Assemblyman Scott Wilk, R-Santa Clarita.

    SACRAMENTO — For the ninth time in less than five years, state lawmakers on Monday rejected a Republican-backed proposal designed to stop California’s high-speed rail project in its tracks.

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