Will HSR Be on the 2016 Ballot?

Nov 16th, 2015 | Posted by

Thanks to low voter turnout in the 2014 election, the signature requirements for California ballot initiatives are unusually low. It only takes 585,000 signatures to get a constitutional amendment on the 2016 or 2018 ballot. That’s 25% less than it took prior to the 2014 election – and it’s a lower bar than at any time since 1982.

The result is that California’s 2016 ballot could have more ballot measures than we’ve seen since the 1990s. And two of them could directly affect high speed rail.

One of them has already qualified for the November 2016 ballot. Its official title is the California Public Vote on Bonds Initiative, though proponents call it the “No Blank Checks” initiative. It would require a public vote on any bond issue above $2 billion, even if the bond is backed by revenues.

Under current rules, the only bonds that have to be approved by voters are “general obligation” bonds, which are repaid out of the state’s general tax receipts. Since revenue bonds are backed by a specific identified source of funds, such as a fee on those who use the project that the revenue bond builds, there’s usually no reason for the general public to have to approve it – since the general public will probably not have to directly pay those costs.

But a Stockton farmer who opposes the state’s plan for Delta bypass tunnels was able to use the newly low signature requirements to get the initiative on the ballot. And so it will appear in November 2016, probably as Proposition 52.

Here’s the thing about this initiative: it applies even to existing bond authorizations, such as Proposition 1A, as long as there’s more than $2 billion of authorization remaining. And it would apply to any efforts to bond against cap and trade revenues, including for high speed rail.

There’s going to be a big push to try and kill this initiative, with business and labor united against it. Right now, it’s unclear how much money will be spent to support the initiative. We can expect above $10 million will be spent to kill it.

That’s not the only 2016 ballot initiative that could affect HSR. As Bay Area reporter Josh Richman explains, Republicans are going to try again to get an initiative on the ballot that would kill HSR outright:

The measure proposed late last week by former state Senate GOP leader Bob Huff and Board of Equalization Vice Chairman George Runner would siphon away what remains from Proposition 1A to build new surface water and groundwater storage. It also would re-appropriate about $2.7 billion not yet spent from last year’s Proposition 1 water bond — the product of a deal laboriously brokered by Brown and legislative leaders, including Huff.

It’s become an annual ritual for some random Republican in Sacramento to propose an initiative to kill high speed rail, and so I guess this time it’s Huff and Runner’s turn (was Doug LaMalfa busy?). My response here is the same as before: I’ll believe this when I see them put up the $3 million or so that it takes to get an initiative on the ballot.

Of course, this time it might be a bit easier to get something on the ballot, given the absurdly low requirements. But so far I still have not seen any movement by anyone with money to fund this initiative. And all the deep pocketed folks on the right are busy with other things in 2016, whether it’s the presidential election or other initiatives, such as a possible attack on pensions.

So who knows whether we’ll see such a direct attack on HSR materialize for the 2016 ballot. It’s possible that if there’s a strong El Niño this winter that public urgency about the drought will fade, even though we already know that HSR actually helps fight the drought better than a new dam ever could.

  1. Jerry
    Nov 16th, 2015 at 15:03

    Will HSR be on the 2016 ballot?
    Sure hope not.

    Zorro Reply:

    Same here, I’ll vote NO on the stupid Bond initiative, $2 billion that would effect every bond that has ever been made, unless it’s paid off already. Whoever wrote that scatter gun approach must be grasping at straws on that one..

    synonymouse Reply:

    Vote yes.

    How about CnT money to buy the Tejon Ranch Co.?

    Zorro Reply:

    F that, I’ll still vote NO, you can’t change My mind Cyno.

  2. Eric M
    Nov 16th, 2015 at 15:07

    No, California High-Speed Rail Money Shouldn’t Go to Roads

    For the increasingly desperate opponents of California’s high-speed rail project, one bad argument deserves another. Earlier this month, it was House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy who suggested that bullet train money be diverted toward dams and drought relief. Now, State Senator Patricia Bates has upped that false choice with a falser one, arguing in the San Diego Union-Tribune that the rail money should go toward the state’s crumbling roads:

    It’s common for high-speed rail skeptics to see roads and rails as a zero-sum game in which one mode must perish for the other to survive. In truth, California needs both transportation options if it stands any hope of improving life for residents who endure awful air pollution and even worse traffic on a daily basis. By perpetuating car reliance, Bates isn’t solving a problem but rather putting it off for another representative to handle in the future.

    Jerry Reply:

    Interesting CityLab article.

    Jerry Reply:

    Another CityLab article points out that:
    Despite a solid case to be made for more federal high-speed rail funding, the sort of unified national vision that led to the Interstate Highway System probably isn’t coming through that door. But history reminds us that the interstates weren’t immaculately conceived by Eisenhower’s brain alone in 1956. Some toll roads later incorporated into the system were already being built out of a need—a need that U.S. intercity travelers stuck in highway traffic or on airport runways feel every day.

    Aarond Reply:

    That’s a very important thing to consider. Even if Federal-level HSR is stalling now, at least the existing high-er speed rail projects across the country (WA, OR, IL, MI, MO, AZ, FL to name a few) and CAHSR will provide a strong basis for federal rail modernization in the future. In 2025 rail investment will be far more palatable -even for many conservatives- than it is today.

    Ted Judah Reply:

    California has the “honor” of pioneering many federal government finance programs like water reclamation, the gas tax paying for highways, and the Railway Acts.

    Of course, it also led the way in racial housing covenants and air quality protections…

    flowmotion Reply:

    But even those early toll roads were built with revenue bonds. There was immediate need and immediate revenue.

    CAHSR’s financing plan basically says we’ll get SF-LA after we’re all dead — with identified revenue sources. Oh, maybe Feds/Wall Street/Foreign Governments might come along and fund the thing eventually, but nobody can say how we get there from here.

    So the Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission knew they would end up with a turnpike. CASHSR has no idea whether they will have a high-speed rail system or some nice Amtrak infrastructure.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    A turnpike that didn’t quite make it to Pittsburgh and ended miles west of Harrisburg.

    Bahnfreund Reply:

    In the history of roads, which road has ever made a profit? In the history of HSR which HSr service ever had to be canceled due to ridership below estimates?

    Zorro Reply:

    No road has ever turned a profit, Government is not to make a profit, Government is to provide services to the People, to “Provide for the General Welfare”, as is said in Article 1, Section 8, of the one and only US Constitution: Article 1 – The Legislative Branch / Section 8 – Powers of Congress

    Article 1 – The Legislative Branch
    Section 8 – Powers of Congress

    The Congress shall have Power To lay and collect Taxes, Duties, Imposts and Excises, to pay the Debts and provide for the common Defence and General Welfare of the United States; but all

    Duties, Imposts and Excises shall be uniform throughout the United States;

    To borrow money on the credit of the United States;

    To regulate Commerce with foreign Nations, and among the several States, and with the Indian Tribes;

    To establish an uniform Rule of Naturalization, and uniform Laws on the subject of Bankruptcies throughout the United States;

    To coin Money, regulate the Value thereof, and of foreign Coin, and fix the Standard of Weights and Measures;

    To provide for the Punishment of counterfeiting the Securities and current Coin of the United States;

    To establish Post Offices and Post Roads;{/Quote}

    To promote the Progress of Science and useful Arts, by securing for limited Times to Authors and Inventors the exclusive Right to their respective Writings and Discoveries;

    To constitute Tribunals inferior to the supreme Court;

    To define and punish Piracies and Felonies committed on the high Seas, and Offenses against the Law of Nations;

    To declare War, grant Letters of Marque and Reprisal, and make Rules concerning Captures on Land and Water;

    To raise and support Armies, but no Appropriation of Money to that Use shall be for a longer Term than two Years;

    To provide and maintain a Navy;

    To make Rules for the Government and Regulation of the land and naval Forces;

    To provide for calling forth the Militia to execute the Laws of the Union, suppress Insurrections and repel Invasions;

    To provide for organizing, arming, and disciplining, the Militia, and for governing such Part of them as may be employed in the Service of the United States, reserving to the States

    respectively, the Appointment of the Officers, and the Authority of training the Militia according to the discipline prescribed by Congress;

    To exercise exclusive Legislation in all Cases whatsoever, over such District (not exceeding ten Miles square) as may, by Cession of particular States, and the acceptance of Congress,

    become the Seat of the Government of the United States, and to exercise like Authority over all Places purchased by the Consent of the Legislature of the State in which the Same shall be,

    for the Erection of Forts, Magazines, Arsenals, dock-Yards, and other needful Buildings; And

    To make all Laws which shall be necessary and proper for carrying into Execution the foregoing Powers, and all other Powers vested by this Constitution in the Government of the United

    States, or in any Department or Officer thereof.

    Jerry Reply:


    Bahnfreund Reply:

    I am not arguing roads have to turn a profit. But there are MANY people arguing railroads have to turn a profit. Even those that provide a valuable service to people who have no other choice…

    Nathanael Reply:

    It’s worth noting for those who don’t know that the entire railroad system in the US was declared by law to be “post roads” back in the 19th century.

  3. les
    Nov 16th, 2015 at 16:25

    Regardless if these things pass or not CHSR has to spend as if there is no tomorrow. Brown isn’t going to be around forever.

    Richard Mlynarik Reply:

    They have been. Incinerating money as fast the mountains of cash will burn. Recall: over a billion of your public dollars directly into the pockets of PBQD and allied special special friends for “studies”, with no end in sight.

    Anywhere else in the world (OK, not the UK or Australia) you might expect something to show for that level of public “investment”. What you would not expect is for people who aren’t directly on the take or directly on the payroll to be cheerleading for more, faster, and deeper.

    les Reply:

    Drastic times call for drastic measures. If the opposition wants to draw it out in court and spend mucho bucks on lawyers, induce penalties because of delays, require duplicate EIRs and threaten to revoke bond money then the CHRS motto should be spend baby spend. The alternative is SouthWorst Airlines! no thank you.

    Joe Reply:

    500+++ in defense spending each and every year and Rick pops his lid when civil infrastructure fails his sensibility test. Which ones ? Each and every project ever done by USA English speaking peoples.

    Like ‘me up agains a wall.
    Nuke it from space.

    It’s Meme time .

    Aarond Reply:

    Technically speaking, more defense investment indirectly translates into more rail investment. The more tanks, missiles, and oil that moves by rail the more money the Class 1s make.

    Part of the drive to have a national Interstate network was so that the military could move around more easily during wartime. Nixon used the same argument when Amtrak was created. The issue here is that as of now Congress is completely do-nothing because they don’t want to give Obama a victory no matter how detrimental their stalling is to the country.

    Joey Reply:

    The parallels to defense contracting are somewhat disturbing, really. Why some observers have labeled it the “transportation industrial complex.” The same few firms bidding on government contracts with almost no penalties for failure – they keep getting contracts regardless.

    Joe Reply:

    The parallels are over blown and detract from the actual waste.

    There’s already different collections of contractors doing the work for HSR.

    so too are the failures over blown. We do work all the time in CA and for a long while the road and bridge repair. Work has been going in under estimate the recession hit and that meant more work got done for the same money. Northridge highway repair was completed early.

    Bahnfreund Reply:

    One thing that could be done immediately to reduce government waste is the replacement of “essential air service” with ground based transportation. Many places in Europe have no airport and they get by just fine… The last time I flew, I first took the train for 400km because it worked out cheaper and (including connection times) about the same time-wise…

    Ted Judah Reply:

    Um yeah, about that…

    Essential Air Service is a pesky program to eliminate because it creates jobs is far flung places. It also tends to be places that have limited options for other transportation modes. And that’s fairly incompatible with the U.S. Senate, where individual Senators from sparsely populated states can derail plans rather easily.

    Also, European countries can force each other to serve smaller cities…whereas Congress almost can given where EAS route are flown from…

    Bahnfreund Reply:

    Well jobs are really a stupid argument… After all a train needs a driver just like a bus does. As a plane needs a pilot… But on the “Senate skews in favor of rural areas” ayup. That you are right about. But baring a political revolution we will be stuck with that. Just like the Berlin-Munich route (cutting end to end journey time from ~6 hours to ~4 hours) is routed via Erfurt (which costs half an hour in journey time) because of the intricacies of the German political system…. Mostly the mayor of Erfurt and governor of the state it is in being friends with the chancellor in the early 1990s….

    Nathanael Reply:

    Jobs is always a stupid argument for programs which are otherwise bad.

    As several economists have pointed out we could create jobs by hiring people to dig holes in the ground and fill them in again. Or we could just mail people checks and let them work on their hobbies. I know which one I prefer.

    Aarond Reply:

    They got until 2020 before anything drastic can happen inside the state legislature. Even then, an anti-HSR state Senate probably won’t be able to actually stop construction on existing projects. Until then, it’s a race to start as much as possible. I don’t want to be cocky but things are looking positive in this regard.

  4. Elizabeth Alexis
    Nov 16th, 2015 at 17:24

    Tying the legislature’s hands even more is not the right solution to concerns over the accountability of state officials – it will just create even more convoluted workarounds that make things even less transparent.

    It is difficult, however, to not see state agencies as somewhat imperial, given the type of behavior we documented here

    Joe Reply:

    Imperial. Hilarious.
    Compared to what standard ?

    The high speed rail authority will not submit to endless aduits by watchdog NIMBYs. Gotta laugh at this entire “controversy”.

    Elizabeth Alexis Reply:

    The word I meant to use was impervious – did you read what the Authority is doing?

    synonymouse Reply:

    Impervious and imperious – that’s BART.

    Ted Judah Reply:

    It’s completely understandable to find it utterly frustrating that ballot measures in California can seem to be more powerful than elected officials themselves. But that’s not really true…the Legislature still often chooses how to implement propositions (see Prop 13, 187, etc.)

    Also, the size of the Legislature is far too small to effectively staff the committees to focus on issues and create independent policy decisions on everything. It also affects how much fundraising candidates have to do instead of learning the job (a lot). And how long the Legislature meets for each year. (This does not even address term limits.)

    These factors often put state agencies as the only guardians of continuity and institutional memory, hence the “imperial” remark. But I assure you, even the state bureaucracy feels the same pressure as the Legislature to be responsive to stakeholders, including local governments, interest groups, and the like.

    synonymouse Reply:

    BART is incorrigibly imperial. The hubris-addled cretins won’t give up on aluminum hub wheelsets mit cylindrical tyres.


    Ted Judah Reply:

    BART is actually not a state agency; it’s a special district. So even though it’s chartered through state law, it’s governance is all local (elected) officials.

    Alan Reply:


  5. morris brown
    Nov 16th, 2015 at 17:29

    @Robert who wrote:

    Here’s the thing about this initiative: it applies even to existing bond authorizations, such as Proposition 1A, as long as there’s more than $2 billion of authorization remaining.

    Please provide your source for this interpretation. That is not my understanding. Since Prop 1A already went to the people in 2008 as a General Obligation bond, I understood its bond revenues would not be affected by this new initiative.

    text of the “No Blank Checks” initiative can be read at:


    I agree it would most certainly apply to any attempt to use the Cap and Trade revenues to back a revenue bond.

    Eric M Reply:

    Morris Brown is a NIMBY who lives on Stone Pine Ln. in Menlo Park, next to the Caltrain railroad tracks and tries to spread Fear, Uncertainty and Doubt (FUD). He will do and say anything to stop the high speed rail project, just like other rich NIMBY’s in Menlo Park, Palo Alto and Atherton. Just another selfish liar.

    Don’t believe anything he says.

    synonymouse Reply:

    Are you on the PB or Party payroll?

    synonymouse Reply:

    Are you wearing a wire?

    Edward Reply:

    Are you asking yourself? Or what?

    Bahnfreund Reply:

    Does Bielefeld actually exist? https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bielefeld_Conspiracy

    J. Wong Reply:

    @Eric M

    Although I don’t agree with @morris brown about HSR calling him a liar about everything he posts is a bit unfair. Did you even read what he wrote in this post? (Hint: It isn’t really about HSR at all.)

    Yes, @morris brown is against HSR and spins all of his posts that way. But I have yet to see anything he has posted that could be construed as a lie.

    Donk Reply:

    George W. Bush is a LIAR!!! Obama is a LIAR!!! Morris is a LIAR!!! It’s not fair!!! He stole my toy!!! Waaaaaaa!!!!

    People who have to call others liars are basically no better than 6 year olds.

    Eric M Reply:

    What do you know, another sensitive person who needs to be politically correct.

    Donk Reply:

    This has nothing to do with being sensitive or bing PC. It is about pointing out how ridiculous people sound when they call one-another liars. And you are not the only one – it happens a lot around here.

    Bahnfreund Reply:

    Most of the time it’s not conscious and malicious lies, it’s rather a disagreement as to what the facts are or a lack of information on side or the other… However, there ARE people who aggressively won’t let facts too close to them. Especially not those they disagree with… Calling people liar is really unhelpful more often times than not…

    Oliver Wendell Holmes Reply:

    That was a really off-base reply to what Morris actually wrote.

    Eric M Reply:

    Who cares. Morris posts crap all the time to spread negativity about the CA HSR project, related or not. Anything to try to make it look bad.

    Joe Reply:


    Voters must provide prior approval for all major state bond sale decisions, because voters are the ones who ultimately pay the bill.

    The CA HSR bonds were appropriated by the Leglislature. Under the above text voters would need to approve the bond sales.

    john burrows Reply:

    For just this one time I hope that Morris is right.

  6. JJJJ
    Nov 16th, 2015 at 18:32

    Fortunately, a presidential year means more Democrats at the ballot box. Hillary vs Trump would see one of the highest turnouts of the generation.

    synonymouse Reply:

    True, but it would also bring out people unhappy with Kumbaya and anti-incumbent but not inspired by Jeb Bush types.

    Jeb vs. Hillary would be a sleeper – can you imagine two more boring speakers?

    Aarond Reply:

    Be careful what you wish for. In 2004 Californians elected Arnold. In 1967 1980, and 1984 Californians also voted for Reagan.

    I mean, ask yourself: who would vote for Hilary? Nobody under 30 likes her (especially not over Sanders) and the right absolutely loathes her. Meanwhile Trump is a TV star. Guess what would occur if they went head to head. California might be reliably blue, but none of the swing states would tolerate her.

    This is the problem inherent to having televised elections. It all becomes a circus. 100 years ago, debates were long form essays. 50 years ago, candidates would each speak for about 5-7 minutes answering questions on TV. During the last debate, Webb wasn’t even allowed to speak longer than 45 seconds. We can’t expect sanity in this sort of environment, and that’s how people like Reagan, Arnold, and Trump can get as far as they do. I don’t like to rant so much but this fact, that debates are devoid of any real content now, very much annoys me.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    Hilary was a shoo-in in 2007.

    Donk Reply:

    Not only are the debates devoid of content, but the candidates who actually have had the courage to discuss content are the ones who are getting the most lambasted in the polls. At this point in the race, you are a fool if you talk about anything substantial. Your best bet is to go with hyperbole.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    You are watching the wrong “debates”


    Aarond Reply:

    That debate itself was terrible. Yes, it was very nice that Sanders didn’t give credibility to the GOP’s fake email scandal. But each candidate was given 30 seconds to speak. Webb and Kaisch were completely ignored despite having legitimate things to say (and the things they did say, the most intelligent imo). The entire debate came down to the crowd favorite (Sanders) against Hilary. It was the same way with the GOP, the crowd favorite (Trump) against Jeb.

    As it stands everything was reduced down to who could produce the best soundbytes. As your YT clip has proven, Sanders’ most memorable line is “I don’t care about your emails”. While that’s a position I agree with, the debate itself was hugely lacking in content especially compared to much older debates.

    Car(e)-free LA Reply:

    Hillry is great. I’m under 30 and LOVE her, wheras I think Bernie is a hopeless congressman from rural, gun-slinging Vermont who lacks any ledership skills or a workable political agenda. Trump will never get the nomination. Chances are, it will go to Marco Rubio, who will then pick John Kasich, Nikki Haley, or mabye even Fiorina as veep. Naturally, Hillary will win.

    Eric M Reply:

    Really??? Dishonest Hillary who changes her story depending upon which way the wind is blowing? Sheeple….just keep following without looking around you

    Car(e)-free LA Reply:

    I am going to trust a politician until they give me a reason not to. So far “dishonest” (a false stereotype with nothing to back it up) Hillary bas given me no reason not to think she is great. Innocent until proven guilty.

    Aarond Reply:

    >a false stereotype with nothing to back it up

    She’s apart of the Obama administration, who more or less allowed Kieth Alexander to lie to Congress about wiretapping. I agree with most of her positions. But her inability to criticize Obama over his very clear faults (likely due to her former position as SoS) is a huge red flag here.

    Furthermore, she’s a pariah to the far right and would only make the current gridlock worse. Presidents, like Governors, are only as effective as the Legislature allows them to be. To this end Webb and Sanders are much better choices than Hilary if only on the basis that they would have a better time working with Congress. In terms of pure realpolitik she’s a terrible choice.

    As for your predictions for the GOP nomination, don’t underestimate the ability for TV actors to become President. It happened with Reagan and Arnold. And as for Hilary, should she make it to the general she will have to fight a much stronger national GOP.

    We both might live in a Democratic supermajority state, but it’s not so for the rest of the country which is rapidly going to the right. California and New England are not the majority of the US.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    Webb withdrew. Arnold was governor. He’s ineligible to be president.

    Aarond Reply:

    Webb could go the split ticket route as a veep. I seriously could see it happening, though it’s unlikely. Arnold could never have been President but the point I was making there was that Californians, in 2002 and 2006, voted for him despite his obvious lack of experience.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    Arnold was elected in 2003. With less than 50 percent of the vote. By 2006 he had three years of experience.

    Nathanael Reply:

    Hillary has a record of being a very poor campaigner. Bernie is a barnstormer. For pure political reasons, I want Bernie running against the fascist Trump, rather than Hillary.

    She is also implicated in the incredibly dishonest NSA stuff which the Obama administration has been doing, and in the appallingly dumb foreign policy with all the invasions. If you like poorly-planned foreign invasions which backfire, she’ll keep right on doing them (like every President for the last 100 years).

    Bernie gives us a chance to try something different — i.e. not invading foreign countries when we don’t have a realistic plan to win. And the President has a HUGE amount of power over foreign policy (whereas in domestic matters Congress has way more power).

    Nathanael Reply:

    Bluntly, I’m afraid that in Hillary v. Trump, Trump would win.

    In Bernie v. Trump, I’m quite sure Bernie can win. Historically, if you’re trying to defeat fascism, in troubled times, “business as usual” (Hillary) is less popular than fascism (Trump), but socialism (Bernie) is more popular than fascism (Trump).

    synonymouse Reply:

    Trump is not a credible fascist. Try the Ayatollah or Erdogan. You need a religious hierarchy lusting to share power with the military.

    Trump’s enthusiasm over the long run to the convention seems to be wanting. All he has to do is say something really over the top and drop out amidst the uproar.

    Hillary vs. Jeb means a very low turnout, bad for Jerry’s tax plans. Bernie is a joke; the business interests would trash him, just as they are sapping and destabilizing chavismo:


    But that won’t happen in California as the Party machine are strictly poseurs. Jerry Brown is the Tejon Ranch’s lawn gnome.

    If you want to raise money for the homeless take it from Palmdale real estate developers and quit harassing struggling ordinary taxpayers for more charity and baksheesh for the underclass. They belong to the underclass too.

  7. morris brown
    Nov 17th, 2015 at 05:59

    L.A. Expo Line hasn’t reduced congestion as promised, a study finds

    Contrary to predictions used to promote the first phase of the Expo light rail line between downtown and Los Angeles’ Westside, a new study has found that the $930-million project has done little to relieve traffic congestion in the area.

    The analysis released Monday by USC researchers found that the 8.6-mile line did accomplish a worthy goal: boosting transit ridership in a dense, car-choked corridor.

    But the findings suggest that political and transportation leaders should rethink the way they market such transit investments to the public. Emphasizing reduced traffic congestion, researchers said, undersells more valid reasons for supporting public transit, such as providing transportation for low-wage earners, increasing links to job centers and providing more travel options.

    (front page of the LA Times)

    Jerry Reply:

    “The researches cautioned that it it might be TOO EARLY to draw firm conclusions about the effects the Expo Line may have.”
    The study was done in June, 2012.
    Three months after the line opened.

    joe Reply:

    The LATimes science squad tis at it again.

    There’s two studies in CA that demonstrate the disproportionally POSITIVE benefit of public transit.

    Paul Krugman
    Subways Pay
    MARCH 27, 2013 7:10 AM March 27, 2013 7:10 am 1 Comment
    Here’s an interesting new working paper: Subways, Strikes, and Slowdowns. Unfortunately, there doesn’t seem to be an ungated version. But here’s the summary: the author argues that mass transit has a significant impact in reducing traffic congestion, even when it carries only a small fraction of commuters. Why? Because commuters who take mass transit are, very disproportionately, people who would otherwise be driving on the most congested routes. So even the small number of people taken off the roads has a surprisingly large effect in reducing travel delays.

    Article Citation

    Anderson, Michael L. 2014. “Subways, Strikes, and Slowdowns: The Impacts of Public Transit on Traffic Congestion.” American Economic Review, 104(9): 2763-96.

    DOI: 10.1257/aer.104.9.2763


    Public transit accounts for 1 percent of U.S. passenger miles traveled but attracts strong public support. Using a simple choice model, we predict that transit riders are likely to be individuals who commute along routes with severe roadway delays. These individuals’ choices thus have high marginal impacts on congestion. We test this prediction with data from a strike in 2003 by Los Angeles transit workers. Estimating a regression discontinuity design, we find that average highway delay increases 47 percent when transit service ceases. We find that the net benefits of transit systems appear to be much larger than previously believed.

    A second study in the bay area finds the same thing – only they used cell phone tower tracking.


    A groundbreaking study by UC Berkeley and MIT researchers has pinpointed a small group of drivers making Bay Area freeways miserable for the rest of us, though the reason may surprise you.
    These commuters aren’t necessarily slow or bad drivers. Instead, they come from a few outlying neighborhoods and travel long distances together in the same direction like schools of fish — clogging up not only the roads they drive on, but also everyone else’s.

    Paper is here;

    Richard Mlynarik Reply:

    they come from a few outlying neighborhoods and travel long distances together in the same direction like schools of fish — clogging up not only the roads they drive on, but also everyone else’s.
    Cool. We just have to do is nuke Gilroy and the problem goes away. Let’s get on it. For science. Thanks, studies!

    Joe Reply:

    Glad you’re on it Rick.

    Of course the fish coming from/to altamont pass, east bay must be special because you fight so hard to build them a commuter system with HSR.

    Line people up against a wall
    Nuke ’em.

    It’s play time and Rick will be very very mean to anyone that doesn’t want to play his game with his rules.

    Bahnfreund Reply:

    Cars have their place, no doubt. But they should not be used to move large crowds of people from roughly the same place to roughly the same place at the same time. That’s what rail based mass transit is for.

    Zorro Reply:

    I wouldn’t go that far, what if one wanted to go from Victorville CA to Disneyland in Anaheim CA? A car would still be needed for 5 people, since there is no direct mass transit link that could be relied on to get one there quickly at an early hour(at or before 5am) or home at a late hour(like around midnight).

    Bahnfreund Reply:

    I was arguing largely in the abstract. Of course existing infrastructure (or lack of it) tends to entrench itself… And as to “early hours” – there is no law of nature or social rule that says you can’t run trains or subways at night. Especially not if they are run without a driver. And the Nuremberg subway shows that driverless trains can be mixed with driver operated trains in revenue service… And yes, there IS a place for cars. And for planes for that matter. But the way the US uses them is objectively one of the worst there is. Just like it is a stupid idea to run trucks for thousands of miles… For that we got ships and trains…

    Ted Judah Reply:

    Traffic congestion is the hallmark of a healthy economy…why would a light rail line make the economy worse?

    Lewellan Reply:

    Traffic congestion could be called the epitome of senseless waste. Whoever came up with the slogan (traffic the hallmark of a healthy economy) must derive income and base their understanding of economies upon car dependency. The personal automobile is in effect a transportation monopoly that can neither build nor sustain an ideal economy. When automobiles dominate, they undermine the other fundamental modes of urban/suburban travel – walking, bicycling, mass transit and their own optimal function.

    Ted Judah Reply:

    We could all ride Segways on greenbelts; more traffic by foot, bike, parasail, kayak means more money changing hands and more economic activity.

    les Reply:

    The study must have been funded by the Reason Foundation. They’re notorious for performing premature studies in which maximum ridership is a few years away.

    joe Reply:

    Not neceessialryu

    Metro paid for part.

    My concern is this:”A big data project highlights the benefits and limitations of transit projects.”

    Big data is a buzzword. It used to be data mining which no longer is fashionable because it’s, overall, failed to produce meaningful/causal models.

    It’s also a new method for the USC institution and BTW the findings are contradicted by other studies in CA that show traffic reflexive even when a few drivers are taken off roads.

    les Reply:

    Yes, but you know Morris. He isn’t interested in the body of work that’s out there. One study that suggest transit is bad and we must abandon it.

    Joe Reply:

    I’m appalled the USC published the a paper let tne LATimes take it too far.

    It’s a theory free analysis – big data is usually a code word for empirical findings.

    For example the literature I referenced contradicts their conclusion. Their published paper costs 30.

    Ted Judah Reply:

    The current USC transportation policy brain trust isn’t a big fan of high speed rail…they tended to be more benign before they realized there would not be a global solution to the Highway Trust Fund going insolvent in 2009…now that HSR has to fight for the same dollars as the highway lobby…it’s every academic for himself or herself…

    Joe Reply:

    Its a proof of concept/system paper.

    From what I can tell, USC has a NSF project/initiative to build a archival data management system ADMS with some analysis capability. The his paper is the fruit of that work.

    Using ‘Big Data’ for Transportation Analysis: A Case Study of the LA Metro Expo Line, brought to you by METRANS”

    Robert Cruickshank Reply:

    Rail doesn’t reduce congestion. Instead it gives people an option to go around it.

    Joe Reply:

    Actually there are some convention reducing benefits. The problem is these are not the only benefit which is why the USC study is sensational IMHO designed to showcase a data system.

    Eric Reply:

    More accurately, NOTHING reduces congestion, due to induced demand.

    If your freeway carried 100k people and you open a light rail line which carries 30k, then (roughly speaking) 30k people will switch from freeway to light rail, but 30k other people will take the freeway who didn’t before. So the freeway will remain equally congested, but the total number of trips people can make is 130k rather than 100k. And likely, building the light rail was cheaper than building 0.3 new freeways would have been.

    Nathanael Reply:

    Oh, you can reduce congestion. Nobody’s been willing to build enough transit to do that.

    If your freeway carried 100k people and you open 5 subways which carry 300k people, you’re likely to empty the freeway out. Nobody does that.

    Nathanael Reply:

    But normally, what Robert said. You take the train, you bypass congestion.

    This has been Metra’s longstanding ad campaign in Chicago for decades.

    Bahnfreund Reply:

    I beg to disagree. Sure Induced demand is a bitch, but if you can take a rail option in 10 minutes for a road route that would take 30 minutes WITHOUT traffic, the road WILL become emptier. Rail projects won’t eliminate congestion and in many cases they won’t have much effect on congestion. But in some cases, rail can slash road congestion, just like HSR can reduce air congestion…

    Richard Mlynarik Reply:

    Bahnfreud, if you have a single non-hypothetical example of such a case ever happening, anywhere, please bring it forth.

    Being a friend of trains doesn’t mean you have to be delusional or clutch at imaginary straws.

    MASSIVE changes in fuel pricing or social collapse are the only things that are going to have any effect on first world road congestion. (The latter becoming more likely as the former is deferred.)

    Joe Reply:

    You mean to suggest you *forgot* “the science” you mocked earlier – a study showing public transit positive impact reducing congestion in la.

    Bahnfreund Reply:

    Well for the decline of air travel on routes like Seoul-Busan, Cologne-Frankfurt (there are now zero daily direct flights between the two), Madrid-Barcelona, Hamburg-Berlin, Paris-London and countless others, I don’t have to link you to anything, do I? And as for road congestion being affected by public transit, there are studies… just like the one mentioned here…

    Bahnfreund Reply:

    https://owenzidar.wordpress.com/2013/08/17/subways-strikes-and-slowdowns-the-impacts-of-public-transit-on-traffic-congestion/ study one

    http://www.nber.org/papers/w18757 study two.

    For more, please use a generic search engine I won’t name…

    Richard Mlynarik Reply:

    OK. So you don’t have any examples. Neither do I. Neither does anybody else.

    Joe Reply:


    BART strike and the Metro strike are two examples. The article referenced by the economist
    also provided a theoretical model explaining the observational data.

    When confronted with something you don’t like, you shut down or mock it.

    Bahnfreund Reply:

    BTW, Panama recently built a new Metro in its capital city. Though I don’t know its effects on congestion, a second line is currently planned.

    Richard Mlynarik Reply:

    BTW I don’t know its effects, but I enjoy typing!

    Joe Reply:

    They write books.

    synonymouse Reply:

    And the potential impact of public transit strikes, particularly where an artificial monopoly exists ala BART, may be understated in some areas. The BART and Muni unions have managed to get their contracts due in the summer when a strike is like a vacation but auto traffic is overall lower than at other times of the year.

  8. Domayv
    Nov 17th, 2015 at 11:04

    looks like NEC can now buy a high speed doubledecker EMU that fits within their loading gauge for their Northeast Regional services and relocate their Amfleets to other inter-city and long-distance routes.


    Paul Dyson Reply:

    Do you know how old those Amfleets are? The new Siemens built cars for AAF should be the standard for any new or enhanced intercity service, the Amfleet ambiance is not the image for the 21st century.

    EJ Reply:

    I realize they’re all at least 30 years old, but they seem to be hanging in there. Every time I’ve ridden them I didn’t have any complaints. (I usually take the Regionals when I need to travel on the NEC b/c they’re half the price, just about as comfortable, and only slightly slower than the Acela).

    Paul Dyson Reply:

    They are rubbish, noisy, awful ride (although a lot of that is NEC track because of Acela.
    So dump Acela, re-equip the regionals with multiple classes of service and you’d improve the bottom line.

    EJ Reply:

    Well, they bang around a bit, especially going over crossovers and switches, but I always thought that was mainly due to the overall quality of the trackwork on the NEC. AFAIK the switches have conventional frogs, for example, not the swingnose frogs that you have on high speed track in Europe. The Acela is hardly as quiet and smooth as the TGV or ICE, or even the Pendolinos that Virgin runs on the WCML in the UK. Noisy, though? I dunno, I’ve never noticed significantly greater noise than you get on fast trains in other parts of the world.

    Richard Mlynarik Reply:

    It’s not just swing-nose frogs. To see this, visit any advanced first world indistrialized democracy (non-Anglophone) and ride a train through a sub-200kmh turnout. You might not noticed anything.

    It’s AREMA turnout geometry, optimized for freight, optimized for deferred maintenance, which is the problem, not the discontinuity and bump at a fixed frog.

    One guess which turnout standards America’s Finest Transportation Planning Professionals have specified for all station and yard turnouts for California HSR. Feet and inches, baby. Feet and inches.

    Nathanael Reply:

    Blame Ronald Reagan. We were going to go all metric under Jimmy Carter, but…

    Ted Judah Reply:

    I’m pretty impressed with the Talgos the Cascades use…but they seem to be too small for use on California routes…sniff…

    Car(e)-free LA Reply:

    Personally, I would love to see trains on California routes reduced to 1/3rd their current size, then run 4x more frequently.

    Michael Reply:

    It’s crew, not cars, that cost. Shorter trains don’t translate to much lower costs.

    Paul Dyson Reply:

    And of course there are plenty of double deck designs that could work on the NEC, it is the British Loading gauge that is the challenge. Oliver Bulleid’s solution was still in service when I joined BR (4DD) but was not popular.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    This one has been running since 2006, New Haven to Washington DC.


    Keep in mind that Amtrak’s immediate capacity constraint is cars. If they had the cars they could add 50% capacity tomorrow. That still wouldn’t allow them to have a 5:15 super-express leave New York for DC.

    Domayv Reply:

    @adirondacker: only MARC (DC-Baltimore), NJT (NYC-Trenton) and MBTA (Boston-Providence) have doubledeckers, and even then they have to fit in the gauge of 14 feet, 6 inches, which means they cannot carry luggage like the Amfleets. The best solution is to just regauge the NEC to at least 21 feet to make it compatible with the rest of the US.

    @Paul Dyson: UK loading gauge is smaller than NEC so all they have to do is widen it up.

    Paul Dyson Reply:

    Domayv: “All they have to do is widen it up”. I assume you don’t expect anyone to take your posts seriously.

    Domayv Reply:

    I didnt say anything about not expecting people who read my posts to take them seriously. All I was saying was that Amtrak can pursue that train if they want a new train on NEC and modify its design to have a loading gauge comparable to the other trains in NEC (this would involve making the train much wider and taller)

    Paul Dyson Reply:

    “just regauge the NEC to 21ft” is a serious proposal?

    Ted Judah Reply:

    How much track mileage is involved before it’s not a serious proposal?

    I thought Amtrak trains on the NEC had no problem connecting to the rest of the country except for the Superliners being able to cross some tunnels on the East Coast…

    Domayv Reply:

    would 456 miles/734 km be considered not a serious proposal?

    Bahnfreund Reply:

    It becomes not a serious proposal when retrofitting the old line becomes more expensive than a whole new line. Part of the reason why the first HSR lines were built in Germany was the fact that the old line were not able to handle any more growth in traffic. And it was soon found out that quadruple tracking them was only marginally cheaper than greenfield / brownfield new lines.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    Much cheaper to let the land cruise trains terminate in Chicago and San Antonio.

  9. Roland
    Nov 17th, 2015 at 21:54

    OT: LGV Est video showing the actual test train passing the helicopter approximately one week before the accident: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=A7qN_mmS-Bc#t=320
    The helicopter repasses the train here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EqXKffwDIAE#t=390, indicating that the train has slowed down considerably before the bridge where the accident took place (10 seconds later). It looks like the track the train was on has a tighter curve than the track in the opposite direction. SNCF confirms that the PTC was disabled at the time of the accident and that the train was traveling at 176 KPH (110 MPH), the correct speed for that section of track.

    synonymouse Reply:

    Correct me, but you are saying prior test runs had passed safely over the same track section at the same speed?

    Roland Reply:

    No. I have no idea what speed the train was travelling at when it was re-passed by the helicopter other than that it was significant slower than 220 MPH.

    Peter Reply:

    It’s a LOT slower than the helicopter in the video: It’s not moving at all.

    SNCF has not said anything about how fast the train was going when it derailed since they have not yet reviewed the black boxes. The driver has said that he “respected” all speed limits.

    Reality Check Reply:

    Late braking caused TGV derailment, says SNCF


    The report has concluded that the ‘certain cause’ of the accident was ‘a late braking sequence’. The train derailed at 243 km/h after entering a 945 m radius curve over a canal at Eckwersheim at 265 km/h, instead of the 176 km/h limit applying to that point in the test run. The resulting centrifugal force destabilised the TGV causing the vehicles to derail, with some coming to rest in the canal. The curve forms the approach to the grade-separated junction between LGV Est and the Paris – Strasbourg main line at Vendenheim.

    Noting that ‘the immediate cause is now known’, SNCF said that it had found no fault in the condition or operation of the infrastructure or the test train itself which could have contributed to the derailment. Nor were there any irregularities in the operational control of the area.

    The report said that there were seven people in the cab of the TGV at the time of the accident. The authors suggest that this may have impaired the driver’s sight lines, and hindered the ability of a second driver to intervene to slow the train. Noise in the cab is also an area of focus, the report added. The two drivers and the traction inspector have been suspended by SNCF pending possible criminal charges.


    Bahnfreund Reply:

    I think this accident will haunt SNCF for years to come, just like Eschede (which happened in 1998) still hurts DB to some extent… If I were to take a wild guess, thinking that ETCS was disabled for this test run (it pretty much has to be, as test runs are done with v(max) +10% to give a “reserve”) and hence an operator error could result in too high a velocity. In normal revenue service this can’t happen as ETCS is always enabled. But the media won’t give a crap. Tragically even the people on the train seem to have come to believe their trains to be entirely save, otherwise there would not have been children on it…

  10. Domayv
    Nov 17th, 2015 at 22:28

    looks like Elon Musk’s Hyperloop will be more expensive than CAHSR but doable, which is contrary to his statement of it being cheaper than CAHSR:http://www.businessinsider.com/elon-musk-hyperloop-expensive-but-doable-2015-11

    Roland Reply:

    $5.4B is more than $71B????

    Miles Bader Reply:

    Of course, even ignoring the cost, you have the the other problems with hyperloop: (1) because it’s untried, risky, bleeding-edge tech, it would take a very long time to actually develop (2) the end-system would very likely not live up to musk’s promises (speed, etc), because real-life is harder than scribbling on a napkin, and (3) even if you got passed all that, the result would be a very bad mass-transit system (low capacity compared to rail, does not have the intermediate-station flexibility of rail)….!

    So hyperloop is expensive, risky, slow, inflexible, and bad….

    Why are people so excited again…? Oh yeah. IORN MAN!! ><

    agb5 Reply:

    Garbage in garbage out, the author of this article does not understand civil engineering and can’t even do simple maths.
    A concrete column 10 feet diamater by 40 feet high would use 114 cubic yards of concrete, not the 46 stated.
    Like Musk, the author suggests that concrete pillars just sit on the ground, like dominoes on a table. In reality a 40 feet high pillar would need to be buried at least 80 feet into the ground, tripling the volume of concrete required. There is no bedrock in the Central Valley, concrete pillars are held in place by friction between the pillar’s surface and the surrounding dirt.
    Look at the construction photos of the fresno river viaduct, look at the length of the re-bar cages before they were lowered into the hole that was drilled in the ground.
    40 foot high pillars would be required to clear the overpasses if the I5 median was used as the route.

  11. Roland
    Nov 17th, 2015 at 23:06

    The actual costs ($6B for passengers and $7.5B for passengers + vehicles) are found in section 4.6 on page 56 of the alpha white paper: http://www.spacex.com/sites/spacex/files/hyperloop_alpha.pdf.
    The route (Tejon/I5/Altamont) is in section 4.4 page 39.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    Lol at “actual.” Musk made up that number, with no reference of real-world construction costs for anything.

    Roland Reply:

    Table 8. Total cost of the Hyperloop passenger transportation system

    Component Cost (million USD)

    Capsule Structure & Doors 9.8
    Interior & Seats 10.2
    Compressor & Plumbing 11
    Batteries & Electronics 6
    Propulsion 5
    Suspension & Air Bearings 8
    Components Assembly 4
    TOTAL CAPSULE 54 (40 capsules)

    Tube Construction 650
    Pylon Construction 2,550
    Tunnel Construction 600
    Propulsion 140
    Solar Panels & Batteries 210
    Station & Vacuum Pumps 260
    Permits & Land 1,000
    TOTAL TUBE 5,410


    GRAND TOTAL 6,000

    Nathanael Reply:

    Wow. Total fantasyland. The land costs are way too low, the tunnel costs are laughably low, the pylon costs are too low, and there’s no line item for the pylon FOUNDATIONS. That’s just the parts I know something about the pricing of.

    agb5 Reply:

    I suspect Musks back of a napkin calculation showed that the hyperloop would not be economically viable if the viaduct cost more than 6B to construct, so he just stated that is what it would cost.
    If you pushed Musk on how he could build his viaduct for less than one tenth of the real world price, he would handwave it away as a small detail that can be figured out by others.

    synonymouse Reply:

    At least Musk pictures the route correctly. That immediately puts him smarter than PB.

    agb5 Reply:

    No need to swing-by intermediate cities when your are building a system fundamentally incapable of supporting intermediate stops.
    It’s a bug not a feature.

    synonymouse Reply:

    Intermediate stops are optional and should not encumber nor discommode the primary express service. Ergo no detours.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    So the first exit north of the Golden Gate Bridge on 101 should be in Santa Rosa?

    synonymouse Reply:

    The GG Bridge can take light rail, not FRA-AAR heavy rail nor BART 10 car trains.

    Roland Reply:

    No. The main hyperloop goes from Burbank (figure 29 on page 46) to Hayward (Figure 32 on page 52). There are 4 proposed branch stations: Sacramento, Fresno, Las Vegas and San Diego.

    StevieB Reply:

    Intermediate stops are essential to economic development in depressed areas of California. Why would a state government sponsor railroad transportation that does not build stations where they most benefit the states citizens?

    synonymouse Reply:

    A system that breaks even with private management and is a successful proof of concept does not hurt the citizenry financially. Or curtail other welfare schemes.

    Besides the hsr germane cities like Bako and Fresno can be served by super fast spurs that link them into the super fast I-5 trunk. In the case of Bako it is hardly even a spur; not that far and connection to the UP would help in the construction phase.

    StevieB Reply:

    Spur lines to Bakersfield and Fresno are a ridiculous idea. Costs for construction and maintenance would increase and ridership and revenue would decrease. Either frequent service on the spur loses money by running half full trains or the spur is serviced infrequently so that same day trips between intermediate cities are impossible which decreases revenue.

    Paul Dyson Reply:

    Agree StevieB. Reality is of course they would never be built and it would be a bus service.

    synonymouse Reply:

    Sac is a spur.

    synonymouse Reply:


    By your logic I-5 should have instead smashed thru the 99 corridor cities, Baron Haussmann terre brulee style, wiping out whole neighborhoods for the glory of “economic development”.

    synonymouse Reply:

    And to top off the phony argument Bakersfield allegedly opposed the Tejon alignment because it did not want the potential economic development.

    Cannot have it both ways.

    datacruncher Reply:

    Bakersfield area leaders hated the idea of being the first stop north of Los Angeles via Tejon due to turning into a LA suburb. That would mean a culture clash as an exodus of people from Southern California looked for cheaper housing. Kern County ideas/culture and Southern California ideas/culture are very different. As California Watch and other sources I have seen documented from different speakers:

    But another worry locally, Brummett said, was that Bakersfield not be the first stop outside of L.A. “I think it had to do with becoming a bedroom community out of Los Angeles and losing some identity and issues like that,” he said.

    But economic development in terms of jobs was different to Kern County leaders.

    Joe Reply:

    Leaders ?

    One guy maybe and that viewpoint, oh no LA, was never an issue with Bakersfield.

    I think this culture clash is nonsense. They like Starbucks and have cable tv in Bakersfield. Tejon retail in Kern county is a okay.

    A few cranks may not like the economic development and rising incomes associated with LA economy Connectivity – put it to a county vote. They sure like the LA friendly mall at grapevine.

    synonymouse Reply:

    SoCal has a culture? I thought it was a lifestyle. Beach Boys

    datacruncher Reply:

    @Joe, the article quote was explaining about previous comments out of Bakersfield/Kern County leaders about why they preferred Tehachapi over Tejon for HSR. I’d have to spend some time getting the actual comments from HSR route planning days to quote what was being said. But it was from more than a few.

    syno rants many times about Palmdale sprawling with LA commuters after HSR. Some Bakersfield leaders feared that happening to their city. Being seen as a LA suburb and the changes brought by rapid population growth was not desirable for some. But the business/economic connections to improve on the existing unemployment rate were considered OK.

    Its like the Bay Area cities that want the Tech jobs but don’t want to build housing. Same concept showed up in Kern County when talking about the impacts of Tejon vs Tehachapi. Your Grapevine mall comparison meant jobs and tax money for Kern County, but so far there is no housing for LA commuters there.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    99 did that quite effectively. Very silly of the state to have built that first and not a super express alignment.

    Domayv Reply:

    I5 was originally going to go through the CA-99 cities but the powers that be insisted that it go west of CA-99 as the Westside Freeway in an attempt to serve San Francisco as I-5W (which never happened). However the alignemt was still built, and now that CA-99 from Wheeler Ridge to Stockton is getting upgraded as Interstate 7, it seems that the Westside Freeway between Wheeler Ridge and Stockton was all in vain (they may as well upgrade the entire CA-99 into an interstate highway and have I-5 between Wheeler Ridge and Red Bluff be redesignated I-5W and CA-99 be redesignated I-5E, have have new I5-W between its junction with new I-5E and its junction with I-580 be made into a tollroad called the “California Turnpike” and operate similarly to the Jersey Turnpike)

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    There was life before the Interstate highway system was authorized.


    There was something like 99 before it got designated as 99 in the renumbering in 1926.

    Travis D Reply:

    Actually it should have been. But that is a mistake made long ago.

    Bahnfreund Reply:

    The express service between two big cities is nice and all, but experience shows that the beef is in the oft-forgotten mid sized cities. On some routes DB offers a “Sprinter” with no intermediate stops and travel times around the 3:30 mark. Despite only being marginally more expensive (less than 15€) they have trouble selling out. The “normal” service with intermediate stops? They’re full.

  12. morris brown
    Nov 18th, 2015 at 06:02

    State Senator Huff and George Runner are actually sponsoring two Initiatives. The one Robert mentions is a constitutional initiative requiring 585,407 valid signatures to qualify for the ballot, and ties stopping HSR with diverting funds to water measures.



    The second Initiative they are sponsoring is a statue initiative and will be known as “Stop the Train”, will only require 365,880 valid signatures.



    Now awaiting clearance from the Secretary of State to begin gathering signature, which should start around the beginning of Feb 2016.

    It will be am interesting election in November 2016

    Zorro Reply:

    Most people who aren’t Repugnicans will not vote for these two pieces of Tripe, Morris..

    synonymouse Reply:

    That’s why Jerry needs to place on the ballot an accompanying tax measure to pay for PalmdaleRAil commute ops taking advantage of all those anti-“Repugnicans” votes.

    Zorro Reply:

    In fact the San Gabriel Tribune thinks the following of this anti-HSR initiative:

    Is a plan to use high-speed rail money for water projects too political to win?

    While Runner and Huff promised a well-funded signature gathering campaign to qualify the measure for the November 2016 ballot, support for measure so far has been mixed.

    The California High-Speed Rail Authority began building the Los Angeles to San Francisco bullet train this summer in Fresno and has spent about $2 billion of the $9.8 billion from the bond measure. The Authority, which needs the state funds and then some to complete a project whose price tag has ballooned to $68 billion, called Huff and Runner’s initiative a joke.

    “Similar political stunts have been put forward in the past and failed; we expect this to be no different,” said Lisa Marie Alley, High-Speed Rail Authority spokeswoman.

    While some Democrats in Congress and most Republicans in Sacramento want to defund the high-speed rail, most Democrats in Sacramento are supportive, as are many local transportation officials. The project has lost some support since voters approved the bonds by 52.7 percent to 47.3 percent seven years ago. A Public Policy Institute of California poll in March found California residents were evenly split on the project.

    Many local water managers are looking for funding to build projects for water recycling, storm-water treatment and rain-water capture, which will help Southern California increase local water supplies in an era when supplies from the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta and the Colorado River are scarce. While some say it may be impossible to receive funds from 2014’s Prop. 1 because it is marked for surface water mostly in Northern California, some were reluctant to support the initiative saying it is too political.

    “It is not natural for us to go fight a turf war against people advocating for transportation projects,” said Adan Ortega, who represents the California Association of Mutual Water Companies.

    Robert Kuhn, a board member of the Three Valleys Municipal Water District which covers eastern Los Angeles County’s foothill areas, likes the idea but for now will stay out of the political fray over high-speed rail.

    “I don’t like pitting infrastructure against infrastructure,” he said, adding he would sign a petition to get it on the ballot, if only to create a dialogue on the state’s water needs.

    synonymouse Reply:

    Rich people like the Koch Bros won’t pony up the money because they like sprawl schemes like PBCAHSR.

    Zorro Reply:

    And you like Sprawl Cyno.

    synonymouse Reply:


    Sure you are not Nelson from the Simpsons?


    datacruncher Reply:

    “It will be am interesting election in November 2016”

    I think so too but for a different reason. I see competing messages coming out of the various proposed initiatives if they are on the ballot. It should be interesting to watch how voters react to the ads.

    First, “No Blank Checks” will probably run a series of ads saying government spending is out of control and voters should have a say in bond spending. Then the HSR to Water initiative will be saying not just stop HSR but let’s also issue almost $10 billion in new bonds. Ads saying some spending bad but other spending good may cause voters to pause or knee jerk in ways not expected. When voters aren’t sure what to do they often simply vote against everything in front of them.

    Second, HSR to Water runs up against current coastal opinions of Central Valley farming and anti-dam sentiments. During the drought many urban dwellers have been angry about “Big Bad Ag” using water that urban residents feel cities should have. Huff and Runner specifically say $4.2 billion would go to the dam/reservoir proposals at Temperance Flat and Sites. Much of the water from those projects will go to Ag. Then there is $900 million to expand San Luis Reservoir and Shasta (again much of it potentially water for Ag). Then there is the $4.2 billion for new/expanded groundwater storage and aquifer recharge facilities (hhhm, where is there a lot of open land and a rapidly declining aquifer?). The potential campaign ads about how the water bonds might or will be used could be a weakness for the proposal, I’m not sure anti-dam and anti-Ag opinions in the large cities would agree to that spending.

    Zorro Reply:

    If people are going to second guess the legislature in this naked power grab, then why have a legislature?

    synonymouse Reply:

    We don’t have a legislature. Rich people and corps and special interests have a legislature.

  13. Joe
    Nov 18th, 2015 at 08:28

    Richards fires back at misinformation.
    CARRD should take note.

    “Is it true that these companies have refused to invest? No, it’s not true,” Richard said. “That’s not the question we asked. We did not ask if they would invest … It’s a fair question for citizens to ask, but there’s a lot of confusion about what we asked and what was the response.”


    Zorro Reply:

    Thanks Joe.

    Elizabeth Alexis Reply:

    Joe –

    Dan is an excellent advocate for the project but it is important to understand that a lot of what he says is in more of what could be considered a campaign mode. He is trying to maintain support for the project – the board is in a difficult position but we still believe that as a public agency it is important to be truthful, not just practice a form of “truthiness”.

    The RFEI was an explicit attempt to try and see if any of the vendors who had been making all sorts of enthusiastic noises in private meetings were serious about providing cash- and the authority staff (less so the board) thought that it was a real possibility. For this project, given a funding shortfall and cashflow mismatch, “financing” would necessarily entail both loans and investment. The RFEI explicitly asked for proposals and clarified that:

    “The Developer would also need to provide financing to support a portion of the capital cost.”

    The fact that no one said yes to this means no one is investing. The Authority has three choices now – dramatically rethink the project, close up shop or go back to the legislature and ask for much, more more of the cap and trade fund (ie all of it).

    The reason why the 2014 Business Plan sham is such a big deal is that these were really the choices several years ago – but the Authority decided to move forward with the current plans. The legislature had been led to believe that investment/ financing would be a possibility once they made the cap and trade commitment.

    It is far from obvious that this was the right thing to do with the limited funds they did have in hand and it is absolutely not okay that this conversation did not happen in an open manner. The choices moving forward are now much more limited than they could have been.

    Eric M Reply:

    All credibility is lost after Elizabeth Alexis @ CARRD makes statements like this:

    “Everybody who is anybody responded to the authority, but the bad news is that everybody is telling them as kindly as possible they are nuts,” said Elizabeth Alexis

    and this:

    Elizabeth Alexis, a co-founder of a Bay Area group critical of the rail authority’s planning, said the results of the solicitation are a setback.

    She predicted there will be “some serious soul searching on the next step.”

    All credibility is lost on her part coming up with those statements, whether or not she read the questions asked by the authority to interested parties.

    Maybe they should hear it from the horses mouth as a reminder:

    Michael Cahill, president of Siemens Industry Inc.’s mobility division, said his company didn’t propose private financing because the state’s request wasn’t specifically set up for a financial proposal. But, he said, Siemens could be interested in making a financing pitch at some point.

    We didn’t propose anything concrete in terms of private money going in, because there wasn’t an opportunity to do that,” he said. “Which doesn’t mean we wouldn’t be interested. Quite the opposite.

    But we all know her and CARRD’s true intentions. Death by a thousand cuts.

    Just another rich NIMBY group from the peninsula pulling the same old stunts.

    Joe Reply:

    Michael Cahill, president of Siemens Industry Inc.’s mobility division, said his company didn’t propose private financing because the state’s request wasn’t specifically set up for a financial proposal. But, he said, Siemens could be interested in making a financing pitch at some point.

    “We didn’t propose anything concrete in terms of private money going in, because there wasn’t an opportunity to do that,” he said. “Which doesn’t mean we wouldn’t be interested. uite the opposite.”

    He declined to describe what type of private investment his company might be willing to make.


    Please explain the discrepancy. Either one or the other is mistaken. Siemens and Dan Richard or CARRD.

    les Reply:

    To quote a famous blogger: “Elizabeth Alexis is a NIMBY who lives on Stone Pine Ln. in Menlo Park, next to the Caltrain railroad tracks and tries to spread Fear, Uncertainty and Doubt (FUD). (S)he will do and say anything to stop the high speed rail project, just like other rich NIMBY’s in Menlo Park, Palo Alto and Atherton. Just another selfish liar.

    Don’t believe anything (s)he says.”

    Elizabeth Alexis Reply:

    Seriously dude. Cut it out. Before you start talking crack about me and anyone, invite yourself over for tea (which is not in Menlo Park btw) and get to know me or whoever you are attacking on an ad hominem basis.

    Ted Judah Reply:

    I don’t want you to feel attacked…(see how that puts me on the defensive?)…but you do not have an unbiased view of the world either.

    You made it a point to raise hell about the “incompatible offices” rule when the CAHSRA Board was full of heavy-hitters like Richard Katz, Quentin Kopp, Rod Diridon, and Curt Pringle…and now the Board is full of people who are very nice, but not nearly as versed in transportation policy and politics with the exception of Lynn Schenck and Chairman Richard.

    And you keep on promoting the idea that the HSR project is fundamentally flawed from a business perspective, when its not. The project is supposed to be 1/3 federal money 1/3 state and local money, and 1/3 private money. The first batch of federal money was directed to the Central Valley section. The State and local money is tied up on the coasts. Congress has chosen to make additional HSR funding a partisan litmus test.

    Private firms are shaking their head…asking the Authority which project do they want a proposal on…the bookends or the train to nowhere?

    However, despite this show of ineptitude, you are giving short shrift to the potential that one of two things is going to break the impasse for CAHSR shortly.

    The first would be the ability of a new Speaker in Congress to finally broker a deal on the stalled Highway Bill. There’s indication that Republicans may allow more flexibility on states using gas tax money for transit as opposed to mandating it for roads. That would give California much more latitude to use existing revenues to pay for HSR, not the AB 32 monies which are likely to fade over time.

    The second is the passage of the TransPacific Partnership raises the stakes that Japan and China will enter into a bidding war to export their HSR technology to Pacific Rim countries, including the US. That will put California in a tough place with Siemens (as I’ve mentioned before), but there’s no substitute for upfront financing with CAHSR. $25 to $33 billion isn’t that much money, when you consider how large the trade deficit is.

    EJ Reply:

    Also, I DGAF where Elizabeth, Morris, or anybody else lives, and neither should you. At least they’re not posting anonymously like you and me. They’re either right or they’re wrong – if they’re wrong, refute them.

    Nathanael Reply:

    Morris’s very obvious motivations are worth describing, to explain why he makes stuff up constantly. I mean, we generally assume people are honest unless they have a motive to lie. Morris has a motive, and it’s worth explaining what the motive is.

    Eric M Reply:

    I never said Elizabeth lived on Stone Pine Ln :)

    Zorro Reply:

    And according to the browser here, only les>/b> did that.

    Joe Reply:

    The legislature had been led to believe that investment/ financing would be a possibility once they made the cap and trade commitment.

    According to whom?!

    If this were true then there was no reason for the REFI.

    And when did CARRD speak for the Legislature…
    Did the LAO have this finding in a report?

    Elizabeth Alexis Reply:

    We spend time in Sacramento. Here is a Sac Bee article:


    Elizabeth Alexis Reply:

    Page 8

    “Continuing resolution (25% of cap and trade) helps attract private investment”


    “Rail officials believe the ongoing revenue will be enough to leverage bond borrowing and start work on new parts of the project, such as a segment connecting northern Los Angeles County to Burbank.”

    Joe Reply:

    “Continuing resolution (25% of cap and trade) helps attract private investment”

    “helps” because that clearly means it’s not sufficient.

    StevieB Reply:

    Siemens said cap and trade is a “great sign for the project with a lot of potential” but should not be squandered by borrowing against the revenue too early at a high cost.

    It is usual, when analyzing a revenue stream for any sort of monetization, for the market to receive a significant amount of data on past development/stability (approx. 10 years) as well as in-depth analysis of the future development. Occasionally such streams are also externally rated. Considering that the first auctions have outperformed expectations, enthusiasm has been raised but the limited historical data points do not establish sufficient comfort in the market regarding certainty of repayment for long durations. That being said, we perceive the market as very cautious in lending long-term based on this new kind of revenue stream, especially due to its early stage and potential self-diminishing nature. The market feels uncertain on legislative/regulatory questions like duration and how to assess potential procedural inconsistency related to the auctions held. Especially in this early phase of such a promising program, we see it as beneficial to hold off on long-term monetization to avoid underselling (both in regard of volume and pricing) this great funding source for the project.

    Page 16

    Joe Reply:

    More “bad” news for opponents.

    I recall the hand wringing over bond debt.

    Legislative Analyst’s Office: California’s budget is strong; surpluses are likely

    The nonpartisan office projected that the state, which only a few years ago had a $26 billion deficit and was often compared to debt-ravaged Greece, would end the next fiscal year with a $11.5 billion surplus with no new spending commitments

    John Nachtigall Reply:

    Jerry Brown has done an excellent job with the budget. I disagree with his tactics and even priorities on how he wants to spend the money in some cases, but you cant argue with the results.

    Now that times are good, however, he would do well to go after the excessively progressive structure so the next recession does not result in a 40% overnight reduction in revenue like it has the last 3 times. Jerry has commented several times CA relies too much on income taxes and the top rates of income taxes. I would love to see him try and repeal prop 13, but perhaps that is a step to far.

    J. Wong Reply:

    Actually, he just needs to remove the commercial loophole in Prop 13, and I think it is more doable than many realize.

    synonymouse Reply:

    The Cheerleaders demonstrate again and again that they are detached from reality. They believe in the cosmic axiom you can create something from nothing, primarily as it relates to money.

    Funny money won’t construct, maintain nor operate JerryRail. You will need taxes, lots of taxes. Are the Cheerleaders so daft to insist the wealthy will not avoid these taxes, apart from some public posturing. Dianne Feinstein and Richard Blum show one of the easiest ways to nullify taxes on the rich – simply invest in the crony house companies, such as PB and Tutor. The lumpen will have another tax burden dumped on them, undermining their buying power in a consumer economy.

    Jerry Brown does have an workable alternative: accept the Chinese mercantile offer to create CAHSR with their money and their stuff. Why not? How can it be any more questionable or disreputable than the bait and switch scam PB is pulling off now, up there with Willie Brown’s best works.

    les Reply:

    I’m curious to know that if you’re pro HSR you are called a “Cheerleader” but if you’re against it then cheerleading for the opposition doesn’t apply? Maybe your right, maybe sour-pusses is better.

    synonymouse Reply:

    The term is all over the place because the “Cheerleaders” are all over the place.

    It is hard for me to appreciate the thrill in being a PB groupie. The cheerleader zeitgeist is hard for me to define.

    I mean why undermine hsr with commute detours? For want of a better explanation I have to conclude the Cheerleaders are rallying for real estate developers.

    J. Wong Reply:

    Maybe because while less than ideal the alignment through Palmdale is better than nothing? As hard as it may be for your binary mind to understand, just because Tejon is better doesn’t mean Tehachapi will be a failure.

    @synonymouse, you’re just a shill for those Ritchie Riches in San Francisco and L.A. arguing for a alignment that satisfies only them and no one else in California.

    synonymouse Reply:

    Yes, Tehachapi will be a failure and require a subsidy to keep a few trains running.

    J. Wong Reply:

    That’s your supposition. Do you have any evidence to support it or are you just guessing?

    You basically are arguing that no one (or not enough) will ride a 3 hour train to L.A. This would also apply to Tejon. You’re basically arguing that no one rides trains all the evidence to the contrary.

    EJ Reply:

    The cheerleader zeitgeist is hard for me to define.

    It’s like you almost get it. Like maybe “cheerleaders” is just one of your cutesy little names that you ascribe to your political opponents, and doesn’t actually reflect the fact that supporters of this project bring widely differing degrees of skepticism to it? You talk about “PB groupies” as if people support this project because of their great love of Parsons Brinkerhoff, which is just a bizarre idea.

    Here’s the thing, you can simultaneously believe that the CAHSR route is less direct than it could be, and it will still be a success. I think Clem is spot on with his Tejon analysis, but I still support the project. If the route is politically compromised, it has that in common with every other rail line ever built. Every road, as well.

    synonymouse Reply:

    Yes nothing can be better than something. For instance, BART.

    SF was a better place before it.

    Growth is OMG Global Warming.

    EJ Reply:

    I try, and there you go babbling. We’re not talking about BART.

    “Growth is OMG Global Warming.” What on earth does that even mean? I literally cannot make any kind of sense out of that sentence. If you posted in English, it mght help your thought process.

    synonymouse Reply:

    The Cheerleaders are engaging in some serious growthmongering yet still bitch about Global Warming, which is a collateral damage of growth.

    EJ Reply:

    So why did you vote for Prop 1A? Better transportation options can only encourage growth, even if the high speed rail authority had managed to violate prop 1A and not directly serve the central valley cities and palmdale.

    If you have some sort of plan for shutting down growth in California, without tanking the economy, let’s hear it.

    synonymouse Reply:

    Out of a desire to see some catenary finally hung and out of hatred for BART. I wanted a modern standard OC railway with all the amenities to make BART look like the Bechtelian piece of shit it truly is in comparison. And ace BART out of the Peninsula.

    synonymouse Reply:

    @ EJ about the economy.

    I plain out do not have any answers. Communism did not work; capitalism only works for the one percent. We are going backwards, toward social and economic royalism.

    I have a feeling the instant millionaire clan would not like a California iteration of Chavismo and bail.

    EJ Reply:

    Oh yeah I forgot about your bizarre jihad against not only BART, but third rail electrification in general.

    I have a feeling the instant millionaire clan would not like a California iteration of Chavismo and bail.

    You ever think about trying to make an actual argument? “Here’s a bad thing that happened in another country, wait till it happens in California,” doesn’t actually mean anything unless you back up your reasoning as to why it will happen, and take California’s different history, economic situation, and culture into account.

    synonymouse Reply:

    Yep, California Exceptionalism

    It can’t happen here. Everything is perfectly under control. Surf’s up.

    California culture is Sharknado. The bright side. The dark side – well, let’s start with lawyers and insurance companies…

    EJ Reply:

    So I take it you don’t have any actual argument to make? Because that’s just a bunch of word salad.

    synonymouse Reply:

    SoCal Kultur:


    Limousine liberal Kumbaya

    EJ Reply:

    So, more incoherent sneering, but no actual point?

    J. Wong Reply:

    You would realize, @synonymouse, that other cities already have these private lounges so somehow trying to imply this is unique to southern California is completely false. Maybe you should read the links you post before commenting on them.

    Michael Reply:

    Oh yeah, if you figure “better” meant the Southern Crossing and the Shepherd Canyon Freeway, for starters. Southern Crossing and all its charming approaches, including off-shore extension of 980 would have been a no-brainer, as the bonding capacity of the Bay Bridge tolls were just sitting there to be spent. Luckily it went to the Transbay Tube.



    synonymouse Reply:

    No, in 1962 SF renounces manhattan and sends the highrises to Oakland. Prefers to stay smallish.

    Michael Reply:

    I thought you knew history. Why not assume gold was never discovered and we’re like a warmer Oregon.

    EJ Reply:

    Yeah, that would have been cool. That was 50 years ago, though, and it didn’t happen. The Transamerica Pyramid isn’t going anywhere. Look, I sympathize with a lot of what you’re saying. I was born in 1972 in San Jose, and for my sister and I, the drive up to The City in the back of our parents’ VW camper was a big treat. Cable Cars, Exploratorium, Steinhart Aquarium, even Fishermans’ Wharf, that stuff was just great.

    You’ll gag, but we’d usually beg and plead for a ride on BART, and usually our parents would relent and take us for a ride to Oakland and back – sure, as an adult I can appreciate its considerable shortcomings, but as a little kid in the late 1970s barreling along at 80 mph under the bay? It was like being in a science fiction movie. My dad, who was an engineer, would occasionally try to disillusion us by explaining about broad gauge and wheel profiles and so forth, but, whatever, dad, we just took a train underwater. And not just a slow train under a river, like London or NYC, but a fast train under SF Bay.

    SF’s not like that anymore. Hell, San Jose isn’t like that anymore. The IBM building where my dad worked was in the middle of a field – now it’s surrounded by office parks. Moaning about 1962 won’t get you anywhere. What do we do now?

    JimInPollockPines Reply:

    I think we all have those same memories.
    Im just hoping bart will eventually ring the bay.

    synonymouse Reply:

    For the younger people make money any way you can and prepare to get out of Dodge.

    And one should probably learn all the self-defense stuff which I never did. You are probably going to need it.

    synonymouse Reply:

    @ Michael

    MTC is going to shove a Southern Crossing Redux down your throat in good time. Hunters Point will be tenemented out by then so who cares? Maybe they will slap some BART IBG on it for fun.

    synonymouse Reply:

    @ EJ

    Nobody seems to believe this but when I went over to check out BART in the East Bay the first week of operation they were kicking it up to 100mph. You could walk up to the cab and see the digital speedometer.

    That did not last long as they were arcing the Garrett motors, that were reportedly not made to very exacting tolerances.

    synonymouse Reply:

    @ Elizabeth

    I suggest there is another alternative – put new taxes on the ballot in fall 2016 and use the power of the Party machine and a propaganda blitzkrieg to sell them.

    keith saggers Reply:


    keith saggers Reply:

    The RFEI process is ongoing. Over the next month, staff will hold one-on-one meetings with respondents to discuss their EOIs. These meetings are intended to provide an opportunity to probe and clarify issues and to gather additional information to help the Authority determine the most appropriate method for delivering an IOS. The outcome of these discussions could lead to the Authority developing a procurement for the delivery of an IOS. Staff will continue to update the Board over the coming months to provide a summary of what information has been garnered through these meetings and to discuss a potential path for moving forward on the program. Based on the submittals and the one-on-one meetings, the Authority could potentially update the business model in the 2016 Business Plan

  14. Reedman
    Nov 18th, 2015 at 09:41

    What is going on with trains outside of California:

    Canadian Pacific Details Offer for Norfolk Southern

    As Changes Come to Myanmar, Train Upgrade Is Just the Ticket

    synonymouse Reply:

    The CP has been a suitor for NS for some time. Why think it will be different now?

    I assume the CP would send the N&W 611 back to the museum.

    What would make sense, and of course won’t happen, would be for the UP to outright purchase the Transcon from the BNSF for a whole lot of money.

    Paul Dyson Reply:

    How would that make sense Syn?

    synonymouse Reply:

    The Southwest would become a UP version of Conrail. Rationalization, consolidation, operating economies.

    Besides I consider the UP a better run rr and deserves the Transcon, the jewel in the crown. According to CNBC Warren Buffett had a bad year – he could use a great wad of cash from the UP.

    In the east I should think the UP would like to be connected to Atlanta and Florida on track they own.

    EJ Reply:

    Uh, what? I’m assuming you mean the Southern Transcon? Even if BNSF wanted to sell and UP wanted to buy it, this makes no sense.

    First, that would create a UP monopoly in Southern California and the STB would shoot it down, just like the ICC killed the SP-ATSF merger 30 years ago. Second, the Transcon goes to Chicago, not Atlanta or Florida. Third, From CA, both BNSF and UP can get as far as New Orleans on their own track. Further than that it’s CSX or NS.

    synonymouse Reply:

    The comment about Atlanta was just me imagining what a UP exec might want if they could get it.

    Notice I said “won’t happen”. But Warren Buffett will croak some day.

    EJ Reply:

    UP’s stock is down 25% in the same time frame that Berkshire Hathaway lost 10%. As of their last 10Q, UP had about a billion dollars in cash, less than a quarter of what Berkshire had in the Railroads and Energy division. Where’s UP going to come up with the money for an LA to Chicago line? And given that it’s completely redundant with the one they already have, why would they want it?

    But Warren Buffett will croak some day.

    So shall we all. But I thought Buffet’s stock being down 10% was what was going to be the impetus for this. I’m guessing you probably hate Warren Buffet for one of your usual nonsensical reasons, but even if BNSF had a reason to sell it and UP had a reason to buy it, which they don’t, there’s no way the STB is going to let UP create a monopoly on rail freight in the Southwest.

    Nathanael Reply:

    The STB let UP have a monopoly on rail freight in Utah, for some reason.

  15. john burrows
    Nov 18th, 2015 at 10:58

    In the exceedingly unlikely event that California voters do vote to “stop the train” in November 2016—Then what? What would the cost be to shut down the project, pay off all of the legal obligations, tear out or modify what has already been built? Add on the money already spent on the project and you would have a loss to taxpayers that would be enormous, with high speed rail terminated and without providing any benefit at all to the state.

    How would this loss compare to the minimum taxpayer dollars that would be necessary to complete an Initial Operating Segment from Merced to Bakersfield by 2022 as suggested by Dragados in their response to the “Requests For Expressions of Interest”?

    The Authority cost estimate for Merced to Bakersfield is about $13.8 billion. The Feds are putting up just over $3 billion, matching Prop 1-A funding appropriated but temporarily unavailable amounts to about $2.8 billion. If Prop 1-A funding were cut off at this point, cap-and-trade could fill the gap. Figuring $650 million per year, somewhere in the neighborhood of an additional $7.8 billion would be available from C&T by the end of fiscal year 2025-2026, raising the available funding to close to $14 billion, enough to possibly go from Merced to Bakersfield.

    What I am getting at is that it could end up costing California taxpayers almost as much to shut the project down as it would cost to fund a working IOS.

    synonymouse Reply:

    To make a rational decision as to how to proceed you would need to consider all the options including mothballing and would the class ones be interested in any of it.

    They should have spent all the money and effort from the start on the mountain crossing via Tejon – something brand new, standalone, with genuine independent utility.

    synonymouse Reply:

    By brand new I mean an unbuilt alignment, not retracing an 150 year old one.

    Zorro Reply:

    May as well build it and the state may as well ask for funding, since they haven’t already. China is chomping at the bit and Japan wants it as well, France and Germany might also, all know California is prime HSR territory, since CA matches what they know of and have built in already.

    agb5 Reply:

    By the time of the vote, many of the proposition’s assertions may have been proven false, and the text cannot be changed.
    – The February court case will reject claims of slow speed and missed travel times.
    – Private financing will be a lining up.
    – China will be building the Las Vegas spur.
    Can you put a proposition that contains proven falsehoods before the people?

    synonymouse Reply:

    Not to worry as all of those assertions are correct.

    Perhaps you could induce China to build the whole damn thing as they have other motives than profit.

    John Nachtigall Reply:

    i am lost on your math.

    They have spent (or committed) about 3-4 billion. They have to pay the feds back for their 3 billion. That is 6-7 billion total.

    To build the functional (run HSR trains on it) IOS is 30 billion in 2022. So if you stop now you “save” about 20-25 billion depending on overruns.

    I fail to see how it is a “wash”??

    Joe Reply:

    CA doesn’t need to build a 30 billion dollar system to derive HSR benefit. Bakersfield to Merced isn’t close to 30 B. It’s about half. You didn’t read what he wrote.

    John Nachtigall Reply:

    That line can’t run without subsidy. According to the authority, they need 30 billon to get to even. You can’t sustain a line that is losing money.

    But even if We take what you wrote. Stopping now saves 5-7 billon. I still don’t see how that is “a wash”

    synonymouse Reply:

    The Cheerleader’s best bet for TehaVegaSkyRail is to turn the whole thing over to the Chinese, who have a geopolitical interest rather than for profit. They are willing to sponsor the thing provided their stuff is used.

    Let the Chinese deal with PB-Tutor and the unions. And pay for quasi-base tunnels thru faults to El Nowhere.

    john burrows Reply:

    From the 2014 business plan, page 11—

    “As part of its development of the 2012 Business Plan, the Authority laid out a plan to implement the system in a series of phases, starting with an Initial Operating Segment (IOS). The term “Initial Operating Segment is not defined in statute and its identification is not a requirement of the Bond Act. It was adopted as part of the Authority’s implementation strategy, and identifies the segment over which the Authority plans to initiate revenue high speed rail service, based on best available data and forecasts and other factors. The determination of an IOS is based on elements that are in statue, such as the requirement that it be a usable segment and that operations not require a subsidy, and also on factors including ridership, fare box revenue and operations and maintenance forecasts and the potential of private sector participation to help determine the best business case for initiating operations”.

    And on the same page—
    “In June 2012 the Office of Legislative Counsel, a nonpartisan public agency that provides legal services to the Legislature and others, determined that the initial 130 mile section of the high speed rail line in the Central Valley qualifies as a usable segment under the Bond Act.”

    The possibility of a Merced to Bakersfield IOS is suggested by Dragados in their response to the RFEIs which were put out by the Authority. The extra funding would come from cap-and-trade revenue which is not a tax, although some legal question remains. It is true that under this scenario, every time a motorist in California bought a gallon of gasoline they would be paying between 2 and 3 cents toward high speed rail.

  16. Domayv
    Nov 18th, 2015 at 16:59

    and now Texas is aiming for a San Antonio-Monterey train service

    EJ Reply:

    In addition to the Lone Star Rail District, a Chinese group is working to raise money for a high speed rail link between Dallas and Houston.

    Oh, Texas. Don’t ever change.

    swing hanger Reply:

    Chinese, Japanese, they all look the same…

    Eric Reply:

    Iceberg, Goldberg, one of them sunk the Titanic…

    keith saggers Reply:

    WOAI, it’s 300 miles, do you mean high speed rail?


  17. les
    Nov 18th, 2015 at 18:26

    “Jeff Morales, the rail authority’s CEO, said that six more major construction sites in Fresno will be active by the first week of January. ”
    Spend baby spend. Don’t want Republicans getting anymore ideas about hsr not happening, and that rail funds can be spent elsewhere.


    J. Wong Reply:

    The fact that the State is willingly allowing the PB presentation to be included as evidence means either it was unlikely that they could have argued against its inclusion, or more likely, it doesn’t really contain any damning evidence.

    Joe Reply:

    Probably both.

    1. CAHSRA released the presentation to the Leglislature which probably put it into the official record. The official record is admissible. It’s admissible.

    2. The plaintiffs complaints have nothing to do with cost or cost estimates. The draft PB authored presentation doesn’t advance the time argument or blended option. Plaintiffs don’t even try to call it a report in their filing. Open government laws do not permit the plaintiffs to review anyone’s calendar to or meetings to speculate or determine who was briefed. It’s just a document leaked out of the context it was generated aside from what the CAHSR tell the court.

  18. JimInPollockPines
    Nov 18th, 2015 at 20:25

    WASHINGTON — It all began with Lily, a 15-pound snowball of a French bulldog with the face of a tough guy and the personality of a princess

    She and her owner, Republican congressman Jeff Denham of California, take the occasional coast-to-coast plane ride together. But when he tried to take her on Amtrak a couple years back, he learned that only service dogs were allowed aboard. It’s a policy he’s been trying to change ever since, and he appears to be gaining momentum.

    EJ Reply:

    So Amtrak is finally figuring out how to transport small pets? What almost every first world train system manages to do routinely? Denham might be good for something after all.

    $25 seems cheap though. Taking my dog on Southwest airlines costs $95. I honestly don’t have any objection to Amtrak charging a fairly stiff fee for this as a way to raise revenue.

    JimInPollockPines Reply:

    I think a 25 dollar fee is reasonable considering it mostly for local and regional trips (750 miles or less) The issues that arise have been how accommodate pets along with anti pet customers people with allergies and so forth. We can’t even get people to follow proper baggage rules let alone be repsonsible pet owners. Im all for it but front line employees see a disaster in the making. The success is going to depend on the markets in which it is allowed. Im not going to eleboarte.

    EJ Reply:

    It’s allowed in most European countries (except for, curiously, on Eurostar) and they seem to manage. On most British trains they don’t even make you crate the animal, and if you think British train passengers behave better than Americans, you’ve never ridden a British train taking fans away from a football game, or a country train on a weekend with a bunch of drunks doing a real ale trail.

    Airlines manage it, and they don’t even have the advantage of making intermediate stops like a train does, where you could put a passenger with a disruptive animal off the train. I dunno how they do it in Northern California, but if a passenger creates a problem on the Surfliner, the conductor tells them they’re getting off at the next stop, and they usually make sure there are cops waiting there in case the passenger wants to create further trouble. I’ve seen it done several times.

    JimInPollockPines Reply:

    Well im all for it. Doesn’t matter to me peronsally. I say let everybody do what they want and them make them work it out amongst themselves. Free for all for all!

    EJ Reply:

    It could get out of hand – visiting family in the boondocks of the West of England, and taking the local train down to Birmingham, I once saw someone bring a sheep on the train. He got off somewhere in the sticks,he wasn’t going to the city, but still, the weirdest part was how everyone, including the conductor, just acted like this was totally normal. It was so like something out of a cheesy sitcom about rural England that I almost couldn’t believe it was real.

    Nathanael Reply:

    Currently Amtrak make no accomodations for people with allergies whatsoever (zero) — I can state this with confidence as someone with serious allergies who was not accomodated in even the simplest requests for information — so I don’t think that adding pets is going to change that.

  19. JimInPollockPines
    Nov 18th, 2015 at 20:27
  20. StevieB
    Nov 18th, 2015 at 20:31

    Significant population growth is expected in the Lancaster-Palmdale area of Los Angeles
    County through the year 2035 says Reason Foundation. Reason proposes a highway in a Glendale-Palmdale Tunnel (GPT): A tunnel extending north from SR 2 in the Glendale area and connecting with SR 14 just south of Palmdale.

    An additional north-south expressway corridor is needed to provide connectivity to the rapidly growing Lancaster-Palmdale area, to reduce traffic congestion on I-5 and SR 14, and to improve the viability of the Palmdale Airport as a reliever airport.
    Reason extols the virtues of going under the forest.
    As noted in an earlier Reason Foundation study, the best possibility for such a corridor is a toll tunnel linking Palmdale with Glendale, deep-bored beneath the Angeles National Forest. Relative to a surface alternative, a tunnel option costs less, has shallower grades thereby permitting higher speeds, and poses significantly fewer land-use and environmental impacts than a surface route.
    The tunnel would collect tolls.

    The toll tunnel/expressway extends north from SR 2 in the Glendale area to SR 14 six miles south of Palmdale. There are four value-priced toll lanes in each direction: three lanes for cars and light trucks, one lane for buses and heavy trucks.

    At a toll of $0.90 per mile, an estimated 53,137 cars would make the 21.1 mile trek each day, says Reason. Increasing traffic for growth, and tolls for inflation, the total toll revenue over 40
    years is $28.4 billion.

    Tunnel Map

    JimInPollockPines Reply:

    So why not a car/rail tunnel then all together.

    synonymouse Reply:

    I believe there is an insistence on Burbank.

    By the same token Reason would presumably want a major upgrade at the Grapevine.

    synonymouse Reply:

    See, the Koch Bros types like sprawl.

    Travis D Reply:

    And they hate trains.

    EJ Reply:

    Nobody denies that they do. It’s just you who has this strange theory that they have this double secret plan to support HSR, despite all evidence to the contrary.

    synonymouse Reply:

    The Koch Bros dig CAHSR; otherwise they would be bankrolling a successful revote and rejection of Prop 1a

    EJ Reply:

    So you always know what all the economic elites are really thinking, what all their secrets are, despite evidence to the contrary. Why haven’t you used all your inside knowledge to get rich?

    Now, I might think that the Koch’s rarely directly back voter initiatives, but instead fund the Reason Foundation, and also try to get local politicians elected who support their positions. And the Reason Foundation consistently opposes HSR. But I’m stupid – I have to look at evidence ’cause I don’t have the inside dope like you do.

    synonymouse Reply:

    Oh yeah the Koch’s invite me along when they retreat to the Bohemian Grove to confer sotto voce with Jerry.

    Michael Reply:

    Which camp? I never see you there, nor Jerry.

    EJ Reply:

    Well then how do you know all this stuff?

    EJ Reply:

    I mean, I see the Koch-supported Reason foundation advocating massive, record-setting, multibillion dollar highway tunnels, so I think that’s what they want. But you’ve got some inside scoop says that what they really want is HSR.

    synonymouse Reply:

    The Koch types would prefer highways over JerryRail for two reasons:

    Highways are more efficacious at inducing growth, er sprawl.

    PBCAHSR, mutated and deviated, won’t be profitable so no investment opportunity for the Koch’s or anybody else.

    But they are fine with the hsr-generated real estate development so long as the little people pay for it, not them.

    Nathanael Reply:

    Syn, perhaps you forget that the Koch brothers are fossil fuel barons specifically, and the so-called “Reason” foundation is funded by oil companies. They oppose HSR because it runs on electricity. They oppose electric cars, too.

  21. agb5
    Nov 19th, 2015 at 04:59

    SNCF initial enquiry reports that the TGV which derailed Friday started to decelerate for the curve 1km later than it should have.
    There were seven people in the drivers cabin, instead of the authorised maximum of four.

    Max Wyss Reply:

    A distraction of the driver may be possible, considering that that one kilometer is the equivalent of 11 seconds at 330 km/h.

  22. morris brown
    Nov 19th, 2015 at 06:14

    George Skelton: LA Times: What’s behind a bid to shift dollars from the bullet train to water projects

    Robert should be sure to start a new subject dealing with all that’s here.

    joe Reply:

    LAO tell us CA has a 11B projected surplus Morris.

    School and transit interests didn’t fight over HSR money.
    Water and transit interests are not stupid enough to fight one another over HSR money.

    Farmers are wary about making being used as pawns by anti-HSR interests. It’s just a few farms impacted and there’s too much at stake to risk an Either-Or battle.

    News organizations don’t take the LATimes at their word anymore. Now that the PB document is public, it is correctly being called a “draft presentation.” Even the Tos filing doesn’t call it a report. ha ha.

    Elizabeth Alexis Reply:

    So why won’ the legislature step up and just pay for the expansion of UC Merced? % of Merced County adults with college degrees is 12%, vs the 30% average for California. Increasing the level of education is the single most important thing to helping the CV improve its long term economic future. If you are a California and reading this blog, tell the legislature to show that they really do care.

    Peter Reply:

    What, so now we’re tossing “schools versus trains” into the mix? Roads versus trains and water versus trains weren’t enough false choices?

    Eric M Reply:

    When one argument doesn’t work for her, she tries another. Same story, different day.

    Elizabeth Alexis Reply:

    This is not schools vs HSR – I’m simply responding to the rhetoric gap about how much everyone cares about the central valley and the actual commitment of state funds.

    Working on this project has provided a chance for us to learn a lot more about our state. There are a lot of interesting things going on in the CV, but a stunning amount of poverty.

    My work on ridership highlighted socio-economic differences between the regions in California. As an economist, one of the most important metrics about a geographical region is the “educational attainment” rate – the percentage of residents aged 25+ with at least a bachelors degree. The current percentage in CV counties ranges from 12% to 19%, with most below 15%. This is not only less than half the California state average, it is below a critical threshold where you have enough educated workers beyond those required to fill government jobs to attract higher paying jobs.

    In addition, most of the counties show a disturbing trend where those of work force age are even less educated – a sign of “brain drain”, where people leave for careers and then come back to be around their families when they retire.

    Changing these stats takes time – and there is no more basic ingredient than building up the institutions that educate.

    The relationship to HSR is more synergistic – if you want enough people to ride the trains, you must invest in other ways in the Central Valley.

    Unfortunately, I keep hearing this theme that the CV is getting HSR so they should just get in line for everything else.

    Regardless of your views on this project – it is shameful to do everything we can to increase the pitifully low level of education / high levels of human suffering that we currently see in the small farming communities, the west side of Fresno, the east side of Bakersfield.

    Elizabeth Alexis Reply:

    Here is census data

    Elizabeth Alexis Reply:

    ps I find the water vs hsr thing confusing and concerning.

    synonymouse Reply:

    Don’t be confused; they will build both.

    The time for genuine concern will be when the bills come due and the deep pockets, like Zuck and Ellison, are nowhere to be found. At least not within the reach of the Sacramento Taxman.

    Ted Judah Reply:

    My work on ridership highlighted socio-economic differences between the regions in California. As an economist, one of the most important metrics about a geographical region is the “educational attainment” rate – the percentage of residents aged 25+ with at least a bachelors degree.

    Sorry Liz, but the term for that statement (as Richard M. would say) is” crap”.

    Educational attainment is only an important metric as a proxy for race… You can give everyone in California a college degree…you won’t change the number of high paying jobs in the CV or Bay Area or any where else. Many other states have much lower percentages of college graduates than California…and yet we still have plenty of poor people eking out a living.

    If you *really* want to understand the Central Valley, read Walter Goldschimdt’s case study in “As We Sow”. You will see that income in agricultural areas is tied closely to how distributed land ownership is. Dinuba had a bunch of small landowners and was affluent. Arvin had a few big farms and was much much poorer.

    But of course, the *only* reason people care so much about “education” in California is that the more the State spends, the lower property taxes can be because of Prop 98. And if the State is primarily payer of education that also makes it much easier for the teachers’ union to influence policy because it only matters what happens at the Legislature. (which they do).

    Elizabeth Alexis Reply:


    Nathanael Reply:

    Ms. Alexis, you haven’t been paying attention to the data. Educational attainment is worthless when the jobs don’t need the degrees.

    I’ll try to find you a link to the study I read most recently (I don’t bookmark these things because it’s outside my professional area.) There are other studies backing up the pattern…


    Basically what’s happening is that people with advanced degrees are working as waitresses. Jobs which don’t require advanced degrees (like waiting tables) are using advanced degrees as a filter to reject “undereducated” applicants. For the people getting the degrees, they’re accumulating college debt. And they all have to do it in order to get jobs where *they will never use anything they learned in college*.

    This is a bad economic outcome: everyone required to get into huge loads of debt in order to get low-skill jobs. This is what we call debt slavery.

    That’s what’s going on with “educational attainment”. It just means “money” right now.

    Nathanael Reply:

    I happen to live in a high educational attainment community. It’s a really nice place to live because everyone is so well educated. But it hasn’t made it possible for highly educated people to get good jobs.

    Jerry Reply:

    Elizabeth – excellent data extraction and extrapolation. Couldn’t help but think similar data applies to the Middle East. The World’s answer there is – more bombs.

    datacruncher Reply:

    Educational attainment is only one part since a CV resident could earn an AA, BA, etc but then might have to leave the region to find a job that uses it. More education does not necessarily stop a brain drain.

    It is why I think the stronger HSR benefit for Bakersfield, Fresno, etc comes not from housing Bay Area/Southern California workers but to attract relocated jobs. I see the potential for a repeat of the 1970s/1980s job exodus from San Francisco to the East Bay (Pleasanton/San Ramon/etc) as the real CV demographic changer. Many corporations moved some functions out of The City (and other higher cost areas) and away from proximity to the headquarters to lower their real estate costs decades ago.

    Given the rising costs of office space in the Bay Area, companies may consider relocating some functions/departments (such as a customer service or accounting function) to Fresno or elsewhere in the Valley. Not every department needs to be at or near the main corporate campus/building. For the few times a month that there is a meeting requiring a physical presence, HSR turns the run to San Jose or San Francisco headquarters into a day trip.

    Instead of bedroom communities that empty out 12-14 hours per day, CV cities would benefit more from people who both live and work in the area.

    datacruncher Reply:

    The water for Ag part is what I posted yesterday above. The idea of urban residents agreeing to spend billions on water that will go to Central Valley farms makes the whole thing interesting.

    synonymouse Reply:

    Can you eat hollow core and asphalt?

    J. Wong Reply:

    It’s not a binary choice, @synonymouse, although I realize you are incapable of thinking otherwise.

  23. Nadia
    Nov 19th, 2015 at 08:23


    The Authority hired PB to do their cost estimating – they don’t have anyone on staff to do it. The monthly PB reports (which we have on our website and our Public Google Drive) show all the work PB did each month leading up to the Business Plan. These invoice reports detail the work that PB gets paid for.

    If they didn’t use PB’s work, where did the numbers come from? Why did they pay them each month for estimates they ignored?

    The presentation goes through all sorts of detailed cost changes based on engineering work that was being done. From Oct 2012 until Oct 2013 (the date of this “draft” presentation you mention) here are the things PB put in their monthly reports related to updating the business plan numbers. You can see each report here: https://drive.google.com/drive/folders/0Bx5S0AJ0bopyZW5vVU9zcUNMV1E

    I’ve snipped relevant parts for you:

    Summary of PB reports (PMT) from October 2012 – until Oct 2013

    October 2012

    1.8 Cost Estimating
    · Facilitated the formatting of the 2012 Business Plan Estimate for input into the cost loaded schedule
    · Commenced an internal review of the CP1 Engineer’s Estimate
    · Developed a short procedure and initiated Regional Consultant review and quantification of Environmental Mitigation costs
    · Developed a Trend Cost for the impact of proposed ROD date changes Developed written responses to GAO initial comments
    · Incorporated CP1 estimate revisions through Addendum 4
    · Investigated the cost impact of potential overtime requirements and going from a 38 month to a 55 month CP1 construction schedule
    · Developed a recast estimate of the Fresno-Bakersfield 15% Estimate based on new Regional Consultant quantification and revised environmental sub-segments


    . Business Plan Support
    • Finalized the list of requirements for preparation of the 2014 Business Plan 

    • Prepared a list of issues to be discussed in 2014 Business Plan discussion meeting with KPMG on November 7 

    November 2012

    1.8 Cost Estimating
    · Presented the CP1 engineer’s estimate to internal PMT staff
    · Continued an internal review of the CP1 Engineer’s Estimate
    · Performed cost trend analysis for the impact of proposed ROD date changes
    · Incorporated CP1 estimate revisions through Addendum 7
    · Developed a UPRR/BNSF railroad cost estimate for flagging protection throughout the CP1 alignment
    · Received estimating quantities for Environmental Mitigation Measures from regional consultants and developed an estimate for all environmental mitigation measures based on the current MMRP to be compared to the 3% cost allowance carried to date in the current CP1 Capitol Cost Estimate
    · Completed final draft pricing of Environmental Mitigation measures for all CP1
Added historical cost data to the PMT estimating database using Caltrans bid information
    · Created a draft cost study for high voltage overhead transmission line (69 KV up to 500 KV) relocations for the Palmdale to Los Angeles alignment(s)
    · Created new assemblies for tunneling
Reviewed Addendum 7 for cost exposures due to schedule constraints
    · Developed a cost study for farm crossings options: Overcrossing/Undercrossing mitigation measures
    · Provided cost analysis feedback on the Project Construction Managers’ (PCM) proposal for CP1
    Task 11 – Business Plan Support
    · Met with KPMG to discuss preliminary list of issues to be discussed with the Authority for the 2014 Business Plan
    · Developed a decision document for a December meeting with the Authority
    · Developed a draft schedule for the 2014 Business Plan
    December 2012
    1.8 Cost Estimating
    · Formatted the 2012 Business Plan Estimate for input into the cost loaded schedule
    · Incorporated Addendum modifications into the CP1 Engineer’s Estimate
    · Finalized review and quantification of Regional Consultant Environmental Mitigation costs
    · Revised the Proposal Estimate for the Authority’s PCM contract and provided comments.
    · Developed a Trend Cost for the impact of proposed ROD date changes
    · Incorporated CP1 estimate revisions through Addendum 8
    · Investigated the cost impact of potential overtime requirements and completing a 54 month CP1 construction schedule, given the revised Addendum 7 ROW Acquisition Plan
    · Developed a detailed estimate of UPRR flagging requirements

    11.3 2014 Business Plan (BP) Support
    · Finalized the list of requirements for preparation of the 2014 Business Plan
    · Developed BP schedule and identified critical path analyses/identified options for managing schedule
    · Refined list of potential issues to be addressed in the BP and options for structure of the document
    · Met with Authority and KPMG on December 18 to review and seek initial direction on Bakersfield to Palmdale issues, schedule and structure

    January 2013

    1.8 Cost Estimating
    · Incorporated Addendum modifications into the CP1 Engineer’s Estimate
    · Finalized review and quantification of Regional Consultant Environmental Mitigation costs
    · Developed a detailed estimate Environmental Mitigation cost estimate for CP‐1
    · Developed a Trend Cost for the impact of proposed ROD date changes
    · Incorporated CP1 estimate revisions through Addendum 9
    · Reconciled CP1 estimate to the Revised 2012 Business Plan estimate
    · Submitted review comments on the PCM proposal by Wong/Harris
    · Developed Life Cycle costs for Agricultural Under/Over Crossings
    · Started work of Tehachapi Tunneling scenario costs
    · Inquired into status of CP5 track type TM revision
    · Inquired into status of CP2‐4 Estimate revision and need for a Preferred Alignment

    11.3 2014 Business Plan Support
    · Finalized the list of requirements for preparation of the 2014 Business Plan
    · Developed a Business Plan schedule and identified critical path
    · Refined the list of potential issues to be addressed in the Business Plan and options for structure of the document
    · Met with the Authority and KPMG to review and seek initial direction on Bakersfield to Palmdale issues, schedule and structure

    February 2013

    1.8 Cost Estimating
    · Incorporated RC comments into the CP1 Engineer’s Estimate
    · Issued the internal review of the CP1 Engineer’s Estimate
    · Issued the ‘most likely’ and ‘high range’ Engineer’s Estimate for CP1, following internal review Developed a trend cost analysis for the impact of proposed ROD date changes
    · Reconciled the CP1 estimate with the Revised 2012 Business Plan estimate
    · Continued work on Tehachapi tunneling scenario costs
    · Met with the San Jose to Merced regional team to organize material for the Wye options. Issued the latest Cost Trend Report for incorporation to the Change Management system Commenced work on the 2014 Business Plan estimate

    11.3 2014 Business Plan Support
    · Prepared a preliminary break-even analysis on an alternative IOS segment including ridership forecasts, revenue and O&M costs forecasts, renewal cost forecasts and cash-flow projections. The objective of this analysis was to test the viability of a shorter IOS segment, to inform the 2014 Business plan
    · Developed three other scenarios/alternatives for testing IOS options – including improvements in northern and southern California
    · Held a meeting with KPMG on February 13 to discuss financial impacts of the initial and preliminary IOS alternative scenario on cash-flow projections
    · Held 2014 Business Plan meetings to present the results of the initial and preliminary assessment of the alternative IOS option, in preparation of a meeting with the Authority scheduled in March 2013

    March 2013

    1.8 Cost Estimating
    · Prepared a Final draft presentation on CP1
Prepared Tehachapi tunneling estimate scenarios

    · Started planning for the Fresno-Bakersfield estimate revision, based on the Preferred Alignment
    · Prepared Preliminary Engineering (PE) Draft Bakersfield-Palmdale design submission estimate
    · Worked with the Engineering Team to define the use of slab track on structures
Began work on 2014 Business Plan Estimate

    · Revised the PCM staffing estimate
Commenced planning for CP2/3 Estimate, with quantification due by end on June, 2013.
    · Planned for the four Merced-Fresno “Wye” options.
    · Requested management and technical discipline input for 2014 Business Plan Estimate development involving ROW, environmental mitigation, systems costs, connection to electrical grid costs and definition of the southern end point

    11.3 Business Plan Support
    · Prepared ridership scenario specifications on an alternative IOS segment including
    potential connectivity improvements and the north and in the south – the objective of this analysis is to test the viability of an alternative IOS segment to inform the 2014 Business plan
    · Met with PMT Project Controls manager to discuss on-going work on construction costs update and schedule to inform 2014 Business Plan work
    · Held a progress meeting with KPMG to discuss financial impacts of the initial and preliminary IOS alternative scenario on cash-flow projections 

    · Conducted a meeting with the Authority Executive team to present progress on the 2014 Business Plan analyses and preliminary results, receiving guidance and direction on overall objectives 

    · Met with the Authority’s Deputy Regional Directors to discuss 2014 Business Plan on-going analyses and to receive feedback and guidance 

    · Held discussions with the Authority’s Lead Counsel and External Affairs to clarify SB1029 requirements with respect to 2014 Business Plan 

    · Met with Authority External Affairs staff to begin developing Board and external stakeholder review, in development of 2014 Business Plan 

    April 2013

    1.8 Cost Estimating
    · Calibrated infrastructure portions of the 2014 Business Plan estimate, using lump sum pricing information, available following the opening of CP1 bids
    · Started work on the Preliminary Engineering (PE) draft Fresno-Bakersfield estimate revision, based on the Preferred Alignment
    · Completed the PE draft Bakersfield-Palmdale design submission estimate
Incorporated review comments on the scope of work for the 2014 Business Plan Estimate Continued work on the 2014 Business Plan Estimate
Incorporated the maintenance facility requirements into the Draft 2014 Business Plan Estimate Continued planning for CP2/3 estimate, with quantification due by end of June, 2013 Continued planning for the four Merced-Fresno “Wye” options
    · Requested management and technical disciplines’ input for 2014 Business Plan Estimate development involves ROW, environmental mitigation, systems costs, connection to electrical grid costs and definition of the southern end point

    11.3 Business Plan Support
    · Conducted two workshops to identify potential alternative IOS Blended Service scenarios focusing on Northern and Southern California and future analysis required to test scenarios financial viability 

    · Held a scenario review meeting with The Authority to select, finalize and approve the scenarios to be tested 

    · Held a 2014 Business Plan meeting with the Authority to provide a brief on progress, following workshops in April 

    · Held meetings with the Authority to plan economic analysis required to support the 2014 Business Plan 

    · Developed an external outreach tracking tool, for the Authority’s use in relation to the 2014 Business Plan 

    May 2013
    1.8 Cost Estimating
    · Continued Development of the 2014 Business Plan estimate
Defined maintenance facilities and incorporated into the Business Plan estimate
    · Incorporated revised systems costs, Environmental Mitigation cost assessments, ROW costs and new Utility Relocation assessments into the Business Plan estimate
    · Estimated and incorporated UPRR costs into the Business Plan estimate
    · Extended the end point of the Initial Operating Section (IOS) to Buena Vista/Burbank station instead of the previous end point (Sylmar)
    · Incorporated the Preferred Alignment to the 2014 Business Plan in addition to the Low and High options
    · Re ‐quantified the Bakersfield‐Palmdale alignment and re‐estimated for the 2014 Business Plan Incorporated Wetland Environmental Mitigations for Bakersfield to Palmdale to the Business Plan

    11.3 Business Plan Support
    · Held a 2014 Business Plan meeting with the Authority to provide a brief report on progress to date
    · Held meetings with the Authority to continue discussions on economic analysis/benefit cost analysis to support the 2014 Business Plan

    June 2013
    1.8 Cost Estimating
    · Finalized development of the Draft 2014 Business Plan Estimate for management review and incorporation into the Draft 2014 Business Plan
    · Incorporated utility relocation, environmental mitigation and the latest ROW costs into the updated program estimate
    · Incorporated the re-quantified Bakersfield-Palmdale alignment the High Cost Alignment and created a factored new Low Cost Alignment based loosely on the Oak Creek scenario
    · Incorporated wetland environmental mitigations and wind turbine impacts for Bakersfield to Palmdale into the updated program estimate
    · Updated revised tunneling costs
    · Completed the Cost Reconciliation Report, which compares the 2012 and 2014 Business Plan Estimates
    · Provided estimating input into Metro’s LA Union Station Master Plan Developed estimate of costs for a proposed new overpass in CP1C

    11.3 Business Plan Support
    · Held a meeting with the Authority to provide a brief report on progress of the Draft 2014 Business Plan
    · Developed approaches and held meetings with the Authority to continue discussions on economic analysis/benefit cost analysis to support the Draft 2014 Business Plan
    · Met with BT&H, Caltrans, DoF, and GoBiz to discuss economic analysis for the Draft 2014 Business Plan

    July 2013
    1.8 Cost Estimating
    · Incorporated review comments to the Draft 2014 Business Plan Estimate
Incorporated utility relocation, environmental mitigation and updated ROW costs to the updated
    · program estimate
    · Initiated review of potential 2014 Business Plan Estimate adjustments for validation and inclusion
    · Initiated review of the alternate “Bear Trap” route for the Bakersfield‐Palmdale alignment
    · Extracted costs for the temporary shoofly in CP1
    · Reviewed estimated maintenance facility costs for the Heavy Maintenance Facility (HMF)and Traction Supply Maintenance Facility (TMSF)
    · Developed extended overhead delay costs

    11.3 Business Plan Support
    · Held a series of meetings with the Authority to continue discussions on structure, approach and schedule (based on AB 528) for developing and reviewing the Draft 2014 Business Plan
    · Developed and reviewed approaches for updating the economic and benefit cost analyses, including identifying potential additional impacts that might be incorporated either quantitatively or qualitatively 

    · Prepared a draft scope of work and schedule for conducting more in‐depth Central Valley/Palmdale economic analysis for review with Authority staff and refinement based on input received
    · Met with BT&H, Caltrans, DoF, and GoBiz to discuss economic analysis for the Draft 2014 Business Plan 

    August 2013
    1.8 Cost Estimating
    · Presented a draft 2014 Business Plan estimate for final internal review
    · Incorporated utility relocation, environmental mitigation and the latest ROW costs into the updated program estimate
    · Initiated review of potential 2014 Business Plan estimate adjustments for validation and inclusion Continued review of the alternate Bakersfield-Palmdale alignments

    11.3 Business Plan Support
    · Met with Authority staff to continue preparations for the Draft 2014 Business Plan
    · Finalized a scope of work and schedule for conducting detailed economic analysis for the Central
    · Valley/Palmdale and identified a sub-consultant to perform this analysis

    September 2013

    Key Accomplishments during September, 2013
    · Preparation of the draft 2014 Business Plan and presentation to the Authority 

    1.8 Cost Estimating
    · Completed the draft 2014 Business Plan estimate for presentation to the Authority
    · Developed a more detailed draft Preliminary Engineering cost analysis separated into expended and forecast costs
    · Prepared an updated CP2/3 estimate
    · Planned the quantity submittal schedule for the revised Fresno-Bakersfield section estimate.
    · Began work on the proposed Burbank Direct alignment option in the Palmdale to LA Section
    · Continued review of the alternate Bakersfield-Palmdale alignments including Westside Bypass 1, 2, and 3
    · Investigated the potential installation of third party fiber along the alignment in coordination with the Authority’s financial consultant, KPMG.

    11.3 Business Plan Support
    · Prepared a preliminary draft of the 2014 Business Plan and met with Authority staff to review 

    · Met with Authority staff to review 2014 Business Plan schedule and plan for subsequent reviews; 
reviewed plans for printing, production, distribution, etc. 

    · Conducted coordination meetings with PMT staff responsible for inputs and analyses to the 2014 Business Plan 

    · Developed and refined inputs to the Benefit Cost Model for the 2014 Business Plan 

    October 2013

    Executive Summary

    Key Accomplishments during October, 2013
    . Preparation of forecast cost and schedule information to support the 2014 Business Plan preparation 

    7.3 Operations Planning
    . Assessed the effect of steep grade in the Bakersfield-Palmdale section pertaining to run times, 
O&M costs and overall train operations
    . Continued working on the service design exercise for the 2014 Business Plan O&M cost and revenue forecast

    11.3 Business Plan Support
    · Initiated preparation of a second preliminary draft of the 2014 Business Plan, for Authority review 

    · Met with Authority staff to review key assumptions and seek additional direction 

    · Met with Authority staff to refine schedule and plan for public review, design/printing/distribution etc. 

    · Conducted coordination meetings with PMT staff responsible for inputs and analyses 

    · Continued to refine inputs to the benefit cost model for the 2014 Business Plan 

    Task 1.8 is now Task 13


    13.1 Program/Project Controls & Operations Management
    · Worked with Project Controls and Operations teams to enhance processes relating to cost, schedule and scope management 

    · Managed development of cost and schedule materials to support the 2014 Business Plan 

    13.2 Records Management and Document Control
    · Recorded and maintained records in ProjectSolve2 and SharePoint 

    · Administered ProjectSolve2 and SharePoint user groups 

    · Supported the ProjectSolve2 to SharePoint migration plan 

    · Provided SharePoint meta-data coding of migrated documents 

    13.3 Reporting
    · Finalized and submitted monthly program reports for August and September 

    · Finalized and submitted the PMT monthly invoice report (MIR) for August 

    · Prepared information for the FRA quarterly progress report 

    · Compiled information in response to Public Record Act (PRA) information requests 

    · Supported the rollout of SharePoint for collection of RC monthly reporting data 

    13.4 PMIS Support
    · Continued migration of documents and project data to SharePoint 

    · Supported submittal review process 

    · Supported AWP management process in SharePoint 

    13.5 Scheduling
    · Cost loaded forecast program schedule 

    · Continued refining program cost/schedule model 

    · Supported CP1 PCM in contractor schedule review efforts 

    · Supported ROW schedule 

    · Supported environmental mitigation schedule 

    13.6 Change Management
    · Supported CP1 Construction Management with management of project change 

    · Continued program wide configuration management efforts 

    · Prepared materials for the November CCC meeting 

    13.7 Project Controls
    · Participated in the development of documents and forms for CP1 and subsequent contracts 

    · Continued implementation of the contingency management plan 

    · Continued development of various manuals and procedures 

    13.8 Cost Estimating
    · Completed draft estimates for presentation to the Authority and review 

    · Developed draft Preliminary Engineering cost analysis, identifying both expended and forecast costs 

    · Prepared an updated estimate for CP2/3 

    · Developed a quantity submittal schedule for the revised Fresno-Bakersfield section estimate 

    · Began work on the proposed Burbank Direct alignment option in the Palmdale to LA Section 

    · Continued review of the alternate Bakersfield-Palmdale alignments including Westside Bypass 1, 2, and 3 

    · Investigated the potential installation of third party fiber along the alignment, in coordination with the Authority financial consultant 

    So after all that – the Authority didn’t use those number. OK, so where did the 2014 biz plan numbers come from???

    Joe Reply:

    The project cost estimates are public documents.

    Draft intermediate work initially misrepresented as a report in the LA Times is correctly identified in court documents as a draft presentation.

    Proposition one hey requires the authority to revisit the project plan and cost estimates on an ongoing basis. Any sincere interest in overseeing this project would be focusing on the next project plan and cost estimate.

    Opponents continually want to legislate and litigate the past When current documentation supersedes that information.

    Fax show current bids are well below the project estimate for the work under taken. So the evidence in front of you shows a project coming in under cost.

    Elizabeth Alexis Reply:

    Joe –

    Are you listening? Project cost estimates are public documents. The Authority has told us there are no documents to show how the numbers for the 2014 plan were calculated, other than the 2012 numbers.


    We have lots of documents that show where the numbers in the October 2013 calculation came from.

    I know you are a guy who has a lot of project experience. I’d be happy to go through in a phone call why this is a problem – clearly we are failing to communicate here. Email me my first name at calhsr.com and we can arrange a time.

    Joe Reply:

    Oh you’re asking for the intermediate work and detailed explanations because you’re conducting a citizens audit.

    As a project guy I’m quite sympathetic to the project manager being able to manage the project and not have to react to every single red herring and exaggerated misrepresentation.

    I still don’t see you echoing the fact that all bids are in well below project estimate for that work.

    I haven’t seen a clarification that this contractor budget report is actually a presentation representing intermediate draft work.

    There supposedly a lot of smoking guns out there right now. There are actually a lot of smoke and noise.

    Ted Judah Reply:

    Project cost estimates are public documents. The Authority has told us there are no documents to show how the numbers for the 2014 plan were calculated, other than the 2012 numbers.

    Think of how this statement actually could be true….

  24. Reedman
    Nov 19th, 2015 at 08:59

    Problems in Canada. Bombardier earlier sold a percentage of its latest jet for government cash. Now it is selling part of it’s train unit for government cash. [FYI: Bombardier has a problem going to the equity markets for funding, because the founding family won’t relinquish its control through its extraordinary voting rights, so the Wall Street folks are not willing to do business with Bombardier they way they typically would.]

    Bombardier to Sell 30% of its Transportation Unit

  25. Jerry
    Nov 19th, 2015 at 10:01

    Morris Brown likes front page news. His hometown paper (Daily Post) has a front page headline story about CAHSR being a “blessing”.
    It even quotes Morris as saying he couldn’t say it wasn’t a blessing.
    He said, “I can’t say it isn’t possible.”

    morris brown Reply:


    Dammit if you are post something I said, then post what I said, not what you think I said.

    Here directly from the article my quote:

    Menlo Park resident and high-speed rail opponent Morris Brown told the Post that these claims are “vastly over-rated.” The train wasn’t destined to be a commuter train, he said, but HSR can pitch it if it wants.

    “I can’t say it isn’t possible,” Morris said.
    Homes are much cheaper in places like Fresno or Merced, Morris said. It’s hard to argue against that he said.
    But the question is will the tickets be affordable, he asked.

    This is all from me in that article:

    Let me add some math.

    Amtrak needs to charge 40 cents per mile on the Acella route from Boston – NYC – Washington DC. to operatve without a subsidy. By law California HSR must operate without a subsidy.

    Fresno to San Jose is about 150 miles. At 40 center per mile that would be around $60 for a one-way ticket. Commuting 2 ways would then be $120 per day. How many commuters can afford that?

    Brian_FL Reply:

    40 cents a mile is also in the range of what AAF has planned for an average fare on their route. Also, they will have demand based pricing like the airlines. And they will offer business, regular seating and “super value” fares. $85-100 is what has been said in different documents by AAF for a Miami to Orlando ticket – 240 miles.

    Shorter distances like MIA to FTL and WPB were in the $15-25 price range, one way. Those distances are about 30 and 65 miles respectively.

    Jerry Reply:

    It seems as though it will work in Florida. Sun Rail can work out a package deal to transfer to AAF at special pricing.

    Ted Judah Reply:

    CASHR will probably come in around 20-25 cents a mile.

    However, there’s a distinct possibility that trains will bypass various stations in order to avoid commuters (or other short-haul travelers) from discouraging full seats the whole way.

    Jerry Reply:

    Facebook can subsidize commuter tickets for their employees.

    Peter Reply:

    Forgive me, but isn’t Amtrak running Acela at one of the highest fares per mile of any HSR system? Simply because it can do so, while still filling trains to capacity?

    Joe Reply:

    NEC operates at a profit and charges what the market will pay because Amtrak needs money.

    CA can charge less and not require a subsidy.

    Joey Reply:

    Amtrak can charge a lot because their capacity is severely limited*. Hopefully we won’t build any similar capacity constrains into the California system.

    * There is space to add cars to the Acelas, but it’s probably not worth it given that replacement is right around the corner

    Joe Reply:


    The authority has a ridership model with fare Ned time tables for city pairs.

    Something to go dig up and look at tonight and see what their estimated fares.

    I do recall that the new ridership model shows more ridership coming from shorter distance trips than end to end trips.

    EJ Reply:

    Dude, proofread your damn posts instead of just submitting whatever iOS thinks you’re trying to type.

    Joe Reply:

    Yeas dad

    EJ Reply:

    LOL. It hurts my brain when I start trying to figure out what something like “fare Ned time tables” means and then I realize it’s just a typo.

    Joey Reply:

    The exact revenue distribution is going to be rather sensitive to the pricing structure. There is certainly more demand on shorter trips, but they tend to be more expensive to serve because they result in empty seats for much of the rest of the journey (this is particularly true of commute trips). If the operator is free to set the pricing, they might choose to outprice commute trips and certain other short distance runs in order to reduce operating costs.

    john burrows Reply:

    Let me add some more math—-

    This comes from The U. S. Labor Department (Occupational Employment Statistics, May 2014)

    Number of registered nurses employed in the San Jose Metro Area———————-14,510
    Annual mean wage for registered nurses employed in the San Jose Metro Area—–$121,820

    A nurse working five days a week, 48 weeks per year and commuting by high speed rail from Fresno to San Jose would, (using your figure of $160 per day), spend $38,400 annually on train tickets.
    A nurse working back to back 12 hour shifts two times a week and using a crash-pad between shifts would spend $15,360 per year for the train.

    For nurses, for other medical personnel, and in general, for almost anyone working for a large Silicon Valley employer, there is a decent chance that the employer would provide free shuttle service to and from the train, and might also provide a small ticket subsidy. In addition CAHSR could, if it were looking for more riders, offer a commuter discount. Add on to this the huge savings in rent or mortgage payments, the savings in car expenses, and the fact that nurses, as well as many others working in Silicon Valley would have a far greater chance of owning the place where they live if it were in Fresno rather than in Santa Clara County. And finally, when we take into account the fact that many employees do not need to commute to work five days per week—When we put it all together, living in Fresno and working in Silicon Valley will be a real possibility for a measurable number of the well over 2,000,000 people who will work in Santa Clara county by the time high speed rail gets here.

    john burrows Reply:

    That should be— well over 1,100,000 who will work in Santa Clara County—

    john burrows Reply:

    Unusual to be making a correction that actually strengthens my argument. I used a figure of $160 per day instead of the $120 quoted by Morris. At $120 per day for the round trip between San Jose and Fresno, the yearly cost would be $28,800 for a commuter making five round trips per week. The cost per year would come down to $11,520 for a commuter making two round trips per week. For the example I used, a registered nurse making $121,820 per year, the work in Santa Clara County, live in Fresno option becomes even better.

    Jerry Reply:

    And since the PAMPA area does not want to build more housing, the PAMPA paper’s headline emphasized that, “For long-distance commuters, HSR may be a blessing.”

    Neil Shea Reply:

    Yes, otherwise Menlo Park will have to continue to add Below Market Rate units near Morris’ house, both because of their regional commitments and for city employees, etc. Better to subsidize HSR commuting than building low priced housing in the hood there, right Morris?

    john burrows Reply:

    Getting back to Fresno and San Jose again—

    According to Zillow the current difference in real estate prices between the two cities is extreme. The Zillow rent index for Fresno is $1226 per month, in San Jose it’s $3200. The median price for a home in Fresno is $203,000, in San Jose the median is $795,000. I realize that we are not doing an apples to apples comparison here, but a buyer putting 20% down on a median home in San Jose would be paying about $3240.00 per month on a 4.5% interest, 30 year fixed mortgage. A buyer doing the same thing in Fresno would be paying $820.00 per month. The difference in mortgage payments adds up to $29,000 per year, which is more than what we are guessing the annual cost would be for a five day a week commute by high speed rail between the two cities.

    If we still have this huge difference in the value of real estate at the start of high speed rail service, we may be surprised by the number of commuters riding the trains for the trip between Fresno and San Jose which now will take only one hour.

    datacruncher Reply:

    The two times a week would not apply to just health care. The same model could be extended to many tech jobs.

    Back 15 years ago, there was a Fresno area proposal for an “e-village” of 30,000 homes for telecommuters.

    The same concept could be revived today. Someone works from home 2 to 4 days per week and commutes to Silicon Valley 1 or 2 days a week.

    JimInPollockPines Reply:


    First, the Amtrak NEC and CA HSR will be two completely different things with different parameters/costs/operations sytles/infrastrucutre.

    That said, a trip on the NEC on Acela PVD-STM is roughly the same distance as FNO-SJC
    and the Acela Business Class Fare starts at 106.00 one way or 212.00 round trip
    Those trains are all first and business only have no trouble filling seats.

    But the total cost of operations for the operator of ca hsr has nothing to do with amtraks cost of operations on the NEC.

    It hasn’t even been determined what classes of service and what amenities will be available on ca hsr.

    first? business? coach? peak fares? off peak fares? advance purchase fares? multi ride and or monthly tickets? Promo fares, membership (aarp/aaa/military/disablity/senior) fares etc.

    Teh fact is no one can actually say right now what the cost of a ticket will be. No even knows what kinds of tickets will be available.
    Pricing will be based on demand and whatever the market supports and revenue will be managed by the same annoying revenue management systems that eveyone uses.

    Jerry Reply:

    Your PAMPA paper (Daily Post) had this as today’s front page bold print headline:
    . For long-distance commuters, HSR may be a blessing.
    And you said, “I can’t say it isn’t possible.”

    Jerry Reply:

    And the “blended” system can be extended to Fresno with CalTrain and/or ACE running a commuter special in the morning and in the evening.

    morris brown Reply:

    Daily Post NOV 20 (not on the web)

    Another HSR myth

    Another myth the HSR Authority spreads is how wonderful long distance commuting will be on High Speed Rail. (Front page POST Nov 19).

    What they don’t want to talk about is the cost. By law, HSR must run without a subsidy. All the commuter services in California require subsidies.

    Amtrak on the east coast runs a HSR service between Boston to New York to Washington DC. This line runs without a subsidy, but to do so must charge 40 cents per mile for tickets.

    The distance from Fresno to San Jose is about 150 miles. At 40 cents per mile a one way ticket will cost commuters about $60.00. Round trip would be $120.00

    How many commuters can afford paying $120 per day to commute from Fresno to San Jose?

    Morris Brown
    Menlo Park

    Joe Reply:

    Old grump man doesn’t have a clue about the cost of housing or commuting.

    Jerry Reply:

    Morris: Your letter to the PAMPA paper editor is limited.
    Since the IRS allows a 2015 business mileage rate for vehicles @ 57.5 cents per mile, the cost per a 150 mile business vehicle trip would be $86.25. If they use HSR there is a net savings per trip of $26.25.
    In addition to the savings, a trip by HSR allows for work or relaxation instead of driving.
    Plus lower air pollution. Plus less oil money profits going into terrorists’ hands.

    morris brown Reply:

    As usual nonsense. You are not allowed a tax deduction for your regular travel to work.

    Can I deduct commuting expenses like gas, mileage, or toll fees?

    The answer is NO.

    A regular commuter will just be out of pocket, about $120 per day to commute.

    And Joe, if I am so out out touch about the cost of commuting, why doesn’t CalTrain just triple their fare charges. Then they could operate without a subsidy. Why doesn’t CalTrain triple the cost of GOPASES, which right now is nothing more than corporate welfare.

    JimInPollockPines Reply:

    There is a tax break available to comuters in the form of flexible savings accounts. Your commute costs with tax free dollars. They are just like the flexible health spending accounts.

    morris brown Reply:

    Yes there is such a provision

    Flexible savings accounts

    And, with a commuter plan, you can use pretax dollars to pay for up to $130 a month in transit expenses (bus, train, vanpool, etc.) and $250 a month in qualified parking expenses and reap the same kind of tax benefit.

    The limitation of $130 per month is not going to save very much when you will be paying $120 per day in HSR train fairs.

    JimInPollockPines Reply:

    again, no one has any idea whatsover what the fares will be. The first trains wont even be running until the 2020s. You don’t know what the economy will be like. You don’t know what the wages will be like. You don’t know what housing will be like. YOu don’t know what fares will be offered.

    You can poo poo the idea of high speed rail but you can’t poo poo it based on made up ticket prices because you don’t have a crystal ball.

    morris brown Reply:

    The fare cost was based on current history. Others who have looked at this might well have used 75 cents per mile in the future rather than the 40 cents per mile based on today’s costs.

    JimInPollockPines Reply:

    yeh buts all just a guess. there is no way to predict what reality we will have 10 years from now. Just assume it will be whatever is appropriate at the time and don’t worry about it.
    I get that you dont want noise by your house but theres nothing you can do about it. I didn’t want san francisco to be populated by a millsion overpaid 20 year olds but thats the way it goes. You just have to adjust or do what other californians have done and move to less annoying places. At a point it becomes pointless to fight it. You could sell that house for a pretty penny and retire real real nice up in mendocino. Who wants to live around a bunch of 20 year old who don’t know how to find their way to the bathroom without using a gps. Take the money and run.

    JimInPollockPines Reply:

    Theres also the possiblity that the system can subsidize itself by making enough excess profit on some markets to offer lower prices in other markets.

    If ailrines can make a profit flying 737s between northern and southern california then hsr can do the same considering a 737 holds up to 189 passengers while a high speed train can carry 700 passengers while picking them up and dropping them off closer to where they want to be.
    who has more potential for profit?

    swing hanger Reply:

    Real Life example of high speed rail commuting costs:
    Tokaido Shinkansen, Mishima to Tokyo (actual distance 111km or 69 miles), JR Tokai offers a one-month commuter pass for 92,220 yen, equivalent 751usd at current exchange rates. Three-month passes offer slight discounts, and student passes even moreso. At my old job, had a coworker who did this commute.

    J. Wong Reply:

    At 60% fare recovery, Caltrain wouldn’t need to triple their fares.

    Jerry Reply:

    Morris you are out of touch with reality. Business commuters are commuters too.
    And the IRS specifically allows business travel as an expense for travelers on company business. The rate is 57.5 cents per mile. See the following IRS information:

    So if a business company would want to save money it would send its employees who are on business from Fresno to San Jose via HSR at a cheaper rate which YOU have identified as $60.

    Also, have you not heard of the Google buses?? Google provides transportation for its commuting employees. Now with HSR from Fresno to the Silicon Valley they can just as well provide a subsidy to their commuting employees from Fresno via HSR. Just as Google uses their buses as a business tax deduction, they can also deduct the expense of their HSR subsidies.

    But no, you yourself cannot use any travel you may do as a deduction for commuting UNLESS it is for business, charity, or medical reasons.

    Jerry Reply:

    First I heard of the GO PASS for CalTrain.
    Cost to ride the entire system is $180 a year. WOW!
    A similar program for HSR paid for by the companies would pack the trains.

    Roland Reply:

    My last Clipper bill was $210 (I don’t have a gopass). Any wonder why the Caltrain CAC rejected the latest fare highjack demands by the SamTrans rentseekers? http://www.caltrain.com/Assets/__Agendas+and+Minutes/JPB/CAC/Agendas/2015/2015-11-18+JPB+CAC+Agenda.pdf (item #8 on page 13)

    Jerry Reply:

    But wait you say. Not all commuters would go business class. So for every full cost of a business class ticket ($86.25) you can lower the price for a regular commuter ticket to 23 cents a mile. For a 150 mile cost of $35. Without subsidies to CAHSR.
    But then again, if Google, Facebook, and Apple want to subsidize their employees’ commute it is up to them. They get a business deduction and a happy worker. And they help the environment which may mean a tax credit for them. So as the PAMPA paper headline said, HSR may be a commuter blessing.

    morris brown Reply:

    If corporations are willing to subsidize workers so that their commuting fare costs would be say $20 per day, then they would be picking up about $100 per day in costs to employ these workers. That is about $2200.00 per year, hardly not significant.

    Jerry Reply:

    That’s chump change to some of your Silicon Valley companies.
    They can afford to buy an entire train or at least a special car on a train for their employees.

    Jerry Reply:

    Your CA State Senators (your employees) ride around in Ford Fusion Hybrids.
    The newest eight cars, 2015 Fusion Hybrids, were purchased Sept. 9 for $23,935 each and placed in the Senate motor pool, where they are assigned to senators while they are in Sacramento.

    JimInPollockPines Reply:

    That needs to stop.

    Neil Shea Reply:

    And not everyone needs to be at the office every day anymore. A lot of us a few days a month as needed for meetings. And satellite offices can be set up in lower cost locations, with mid- and senior managers travelling back and forth, or staff travelling for trainings. So patterns are changing, but I’m not surprised that the naysayers (is that the opposite of cheerleaders?) to be aware of that.

    JimInPollockPines Reply:

    It also works both ways. Companies wont have to located in in silicon valley in order to tap into talent. They will be able to locate much more cheaply in the central valley and still be able to access bay area talent, eventually people will move to the valley to get both a good job and an affordable home.

    Jerry Reply:

    Jim you are exactly right.
    Also, San Francisco owns and runs an airport (SFO) which is outside of their city and county.
    San Francisco could just as well buy up some land near a HSR stop and build affordable housing for it’s city employees and provide HSR travel vouchers to come to work in THE CITY.
    It would be cheaper than trying to squeeze in affordable housing inside their city limits.

    JimInPollockPines Reply:

    yes instead of adding 7 million people to la and sf, add one million people each to 7 cities,
    palmdale, bakersfield, fresno, merced, modesto, stockton, and sacramento and sting them together with hsr.

    Then you get a jobs/housing/resrouces/investment/economic diversity balance in the state.

    Jerry Reply:

    I remember when LA was building the Hollywood subway and the Blvd. collapsed.
    LA has been building out their subway system for 20 years now.
    I would like to see CA build out the HSR system just as you describe, connecting all those cities you mentioned.
    I’m for Altamont AND Pacheco. Tejon AND Palmdale.

    JimInPollockPines Reply:

    Theres nothing to stop the system from expanding in perpetuity as needed.

    Roland Reply:

    It would be even cheaper to spend $500M on DBR and build affordable housing in Newark which currently does not have any operating rail let alone a railway station!!

    Robert S. Allen Reply:

    Roland: I used to work Newark Tower: #11/14, ACE, Capcor. Lots of operating rail in Newark.

    Roland Reply:

    There is no traffic west of Newark junction (DBR), the location of the future Newark station.

    Roland Reply:

    Mr. Robert S. Allen: You have an interesting past. I understand that you ended your career as a BART Board director and, if so, would you mind sharing how Fremont BART ended up at its current location instead of @ Shin where BART, ACE and CC intersect???

  26. agb5
    Nov 19th, 2015 at 10:05

    The gory details from the TGV crash report.
    How does and overspeeding train come off the rails:

    The rear bogie of the front locomotive left the track just before the bridge while the front bogie remained on the rails. Through centrifugal forces, the rear of the locomotive moved violently to the left and disconnected from the first wagon. The rear of the locomotive hit the concrete bridge parapet, knocking it over, then hit the top lateral structure of the bridge steel I beam which ripped open the locomotive. The main transformer was smashed and thrown to the bottom of the embankment at the bridge exit, the oil from the transformer was atomised and ignited from the heat of the friction.
    The rear bogie of the locomotive remained entangled in the left longitudinal bridge beam.


  27. synonymouse
    Nov 19th, 2015 at 10:33


    I tried unsuccessfully to find some documentation backing up Rob Black’s contention on KRON that Saudi oil reserves have been restated to 10 times previous estimates.

    Point being $26/barrel is being predicted, and while that won’t necessarily be sustainable, this represents real trouble for hsr schemes and a reinvigorated highway lobby. The latter very bad news for the environment.

    CAHSR needs to be rationalized and optimized to compete with road and air. Ditch the detours and money bleeding commute ops. Ditch PB and Palmdale.

    les Reply:

    Check back in 2030 with oil prices and then we can talk.

    synonymouse Reply:

    That’s the point. They are trying to claim oil prices will still be low then.

    And they might be right.

    les Reply:

    regardless, oil is not in vogue. Alternatives are quickly becoming cost competitive and HSR will always take preference over air even with a slight time or cost difference. This is what has happened in Europe and the NEC and that is what will happen here.

    Nathanael Reply:

    Given that cheap oil comes strictly from the Saudis and a number of other despotic, unreliable, abusive dictatorships, there are very good reasons to get off of oil. A lot of businesses are run by people who learned the lessons from the two Oil Crises in the 1960s and 1970s. Dependence on oil is very bad.

    les Reply:

    Besides, the cheaper the oil the more room to tax it without bankrupting poor folk.

    Joe Reply:

    The atmosphere and hydrosphere will not react well to the Von us took of ten times more Saudi oil reserves.

    We’re already moving to a new climate and one that humans and our close relatives have never lived under.

    Joe Reply:


    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    The speed limit on I-5 will still be 65 MPH or so and it will still get congested. Low oil prices tend to make the congestion worse.

    John Nachtigall Reply:

    its 2015…we are checking in from 1980 (or 1990, or 2000) when we were going to be at “peak oil”

    We have been at “peak oil” for so long I cant remember the last time we were not at peak oil.

    No matter how many times the Malthus’s are proved wrong, they come back with the doom and gloom

    Joe Reply:

    I don’t think you understand peak oil.

    Fracking and tar sands extraction are only feasible if we are, globally, reaching a limit on new light crude oil production.

    Keystone pipeline will put albertan tar sands oil production on the global market.

    John Nachtigall Reply:

    I am sure you don’t understand. The definition of “ore” is a resource that can be extracted profitably. Since the 1970s the argument has been that the world is running out of oil that can be extracted at a price that does not crash the world economy. The shorthand term for this “peak oil”

    Simply put, this argument has been proven wrong over and over. Currently fracking and oil sands can be extracted at prices ranging from 50-100 per barrel which is well within the ability of the economy to absorb. OPEC, seeing this, is trying to flood the market with cheaper oil to kill the investment in these projects and keep the semi-monopoly on oil. It may or may not work (probably not) but regardless, the reserves represented by oil and tar sands still exists. If every company shut down production now, they just wait for it to be profitable again and start back up. These reserves represent hundreds of years of use.

    Simply put, we are not running out of oil any time soon, much to the dismay of those that want to see oil die due to environmental reasons.

    PS. I have a BS and MS from the Colorado School of Mines. You really don’t want to question me on this. I actually took courses from the men who advanced technology that allowed the sands to be extracted profitably. 20 years ago it was$200 a barrel to extract or more. Now they are keeping production going at $50 and below. Technology is an amazing thing.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    Technology is an amazing thing. Solar and wind are getting cheaper too.

    John Nachtigall Reply:

    Yep…and nukes also. Unlike previous predictions, there will not be a “gap” in the long slow switch from hydrocarbons to renewable…which is a very good thng

    Nathanael Reply:

    Yeah, that’s important. We needed solar tech to advance, and it finally has.

    I am going to question you on one of your claims. Because I follow the markets for a living, and I do not believe that they can do profitable extraction at $50 or below anywhere except the best fields. Sure they can do it in the sweet spots in the Bakken and Eagle Ford but I see no evidence they can do it with the tar sands or the Marcellus. And there simply aren’t that many really good shale oil fields.

    The interesting thing about $50 a barrel oil is that oil is frankly not competitive in most industries at that price. For industrial uses, any industry which can switch will switch to much cheaper natural gas. This is already happening. The same is true for heating.

    This leaves the weirdo transportation industry, which sucks up a huge amount of oil. Here, batteries & electricity are already competitive on lifetime TCO with oil, even with the Saudi push to keep oil prices low. Batteries and electricity are both getting cheaper at astonishing rates. Oil extraction is NOT. (FWIW, nukes are not either.)

    Face it, we’ve hit peak oil economically.

    Nathanael Reply:

    FWIW, we haven’t reached peak natural gas economically.

    We reached peak coal a very long time ago, when anthracite became price-uncompetitive.

    Aarond Reply:

    It’s also worth noting that Putin is having Roseneft pump out more Arctic oil, despite it being unprofitable. Why? Because he wants to sink the Saudi regime.


    It’s worth nothing that this form of lawfare/economic warfare always ends in tears for everyone involved.

    John Nachtigall Reply:

    Putnin is putting out oil because he needs the cash. He has the ambitions to run global war operations (Ukraine, Syria, etc.) but not the economy.

    john burrows Reply:

    Thanks in part to this advanced extraction technology, proven worldwide oil reserves are at around 1.3 trillion barrels, a 40 year supply at our present rate of consumption. I have no doubt that these reserves will expand with time and that the world will have plenty of oil to burn for at least the next 100 years.

    There is a catch to all of this good news—At our present rate of consumption, we will have burned up this supply of 1.3 trillion barrels and pumped 500 billion tons of CO2 into the atmosphere by the year 2055. This is a pretty significant amount, considering that it equals one sixth of the 3 trillion tons of CO2 presently in the atmosphere. I wonder—What progress have “these men who advanced technology that allowed the sands to be extracted profitably” made in perfecting an advanced technology to deal with all of that extra CO2?

    Joe Reply:

    Thanks to high global oil prices, industry can afford the large amount of energy needed to extract the oil and turn it into a usable fuel.
    FEB 19, 2013

    Suncor Millenium oil sands mine on the east side of the Athabasca River in Alberta, Canada. Credit: David Dodge, Pembina Institute
    The average “energy returned on investment,” or EROI, for conventional oil is roughly 25:1. In other words, 25 units of oil-based energy are obtained for every one unit of other energy that is invested to extract it.

    But tar sands oil is in a category all its own.

    Tar sands retrieved by surface mining has an EROI of only about 5:1, according to research released Tuesday. Tar sands retrieved from deeper beneath the earth, through steam injection, fares even worse, with a maximum average ratio of just 2.9 to 1. That means one unit of natural gas is needed to create less than three units of oil-based energy.

    Jim Hansen in the NYTimes

    MAY 9, 2012
    GLOBAL warming isn’t a prediction. It is happening. That is why I was so troubled to read a recent interview with President Obama in Rolling Stone in which he said that Canada would exploit the oil in its vast tar sands reserves “regardless of what we do.”

    If Canada proceeds, and we do nothing, it will be game over for the climate.

    Canada’s tar sands, deposits of sand saturated with bitumen, contain twice the amount of carbon dioxide emitted by global oil use in our entire history. If we were to fully exploit this new oil source, and continue to burn our conventional oil, gas and coal supplies, concentrations of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere eventually would reach levels higher than in the Pliocene era, more than 2.5 million years ago, when sea level was at least 50 feet higher than it is now. That level of heat-trapping gases would assure that the disintegration of the ice sheets would accelerate out of control. Sea levels would rise and destroy coastal cities. Global temperatures would become intolerable. Twenty to 50 percent of the planet’s species would be driven to extinction. Civilization would be at risk.

    John Nachtigall Reply:

    you know those terrible open pit mines with huge sludge ponds. Or the tailings piles with toxic mixes of heavy metals. Guess who cleans those up? Engineers who know how to extract minerals from the rock.

    CSM has a wonderful environmental engineering program. So we can now teach people to correct and heal the environmental damage that our profession has wrought in the name of progress.

    What the malthus followers (and now the global warmers) fail to always take into account is the advance of technology. I am 100% confident that technology, which got us into any trouble, will also get us out. It has so far.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    Technology allows women to limit the amount of children they have. World population will peak sometime this century and very likely start to decline.

    Nathanael Reply:

    Yep. That’s the solution, long-term.

    The Malthusian problem is not solvable by any other means; you can’t increase food production forever, and we’re actually in overshoot already, producing food using unsustainable fossil fuels. But you can, of course, have fewer children.

    If you have studied ecology (and John, you obviously haven’t, so listen to someone who has), you will notice that the (pre-birth-control) human population growth curve combined with the rate of extinction of the habitat which we rely on — is a *known pattern*.

    It’s the boom-bust pattern for a population overshooting its food supply: too many wolves, they eat too many rabbits, so the rabbit population crashes, so the wolves starve and their population crashes.

    There is nothing magic about “technology” to prevent this. To prevent this, you need a stabilizing mechanism: for instance, if the wolves control their own population it doesn’t happen. Wolves don’t, but *big cats do* control their population so they don’t generate the same effect.

    Joe Reply:

    The “ore” can be extracted with profit because of peak oil. You just don’t understand the concept which is why you disbelieve it.

    Peaking production of light crude oil is exactly why more expensive sources that require mining, energy and money to process are seen as alternatives to our historical oil sources.

    And of course the use of this fossilized source will lead to the extinction of our civilization if not species.

    John Nachtigall Reply:

    except they are not that much more expensive. They cost the same as “cheap” sources from 20 years ago. tar and oil sands are no longer “expensive” in an economic sense. Hence the reason peak oil is a farce.

    But the real problem is you are now making a different argument and I am calling you on it.

    Peak oil says that oil will run out…that was your first argument.

    Now you are making the global warming argument that oil will not run out, we will burn it and destroy the world. That is a completely different argument.

    Are you now admitting that oil will not run out at reasonable prices?

    Nathanael Reply:

    They actually do cost much much more than cheap sources of the 1950s. You really haven’t looked at the numbers; we hit peak cheap oil in the 1970s. Except for the Saudi Arabian supply and a few nearby fields, we have already run out of oil at reasonable prices.

    However, for some reason, people were willing to pay unreasonable prices. Transition problems, I suppose.

    Nathanael Reply:

    By “transition problems”, I mean that it takes time for industries to retool to use something other than oil.

    The Saudis are deliberately making oil cheap right now because they want to prevent us from doing that retooling. Don’t fall for it.

    The Saudis are the only oil producer who can afford to make oil cheap because they have been hoarding their easy-to-produce oil for decades. Now they’ve opened the spigots.

  28. J. Wong
    Nov 19th, 2015 at 11:03

    CAHSR as planned will compete with road and air. It just won’t compete for those who want to take the fastest route to L.A. (even though they don’t consider the hour they’ll spend actually getting to downtown L.A. from LAX as part of their calculation). It also won’t compete with those who think it is totally normal to sit in bumper-to-bumper traffic over the Grapevine and are totally fine with that.

    Choosing to route via Tejon will not cause those who unthinkingly choose air or road to suddenly decide to take HSR. Those of us who know better, however, will, which includes all the foreign tourists who visit California. And gradually, those who don’t will hear about how much better it is and then start taking HSR.

    And isn’t “money bleeding commute ops” an oxymoron in your world? (Besides being a lie since HSR will not have any commute ops, and if a passenger decides to “commute” using HSR, they will pay full, un-subsidized fares.)

    synonymouse Reply:

    PBCAHSR is a commute op. Even the Cheerleaders have been touting this, as in Fresno repurposed as a bedroom community wherein Silicon Valley cubicle slaves commute to tract houses in the real Valley. And Bako fretting about a commute op via Tejon to LA.

    Profitable airlines and lots more autos(some quasi-self-driving)spell trouble for the hsr concept. Cheap airfares, cheap bus fares and agitation for more roads mean CAHSR has to be optimal, not dumbed down.

    Low oil prices historically inimical to electrification projects. Look at Muni and AC – you cannot even get a trolley bus nor streetcar expansion out of management dominated by diesel busmen.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    No it’s not. The people filling up Acela trains can afford automobiles. Many of them own one or two or three. Or their expense account can afford to rent one. They don’t drive. They pay a premium fare, for slightly fastest travel with slightly better amenities. And then there’s the people who pay lower fares for the Regionals.

    synonymouse Reply:

    California exceptionalism.

    Surf’s up.

    les Reply:

    No, syno exceptionalism. Fantasy is in.

    Travis D Reply:

    I don’t care if airlines are cheap. The nearest airport to me is many hours away while the nearest HSR station will be a mere 45 minutes. I know what I’ll take.

    J. Wong Reply:

    “[L]ots more autos”, and people complain about congestion now. In the @synonymouse universe people just love to sit in traffic.

    Joe Reply:

    Silicon Valley cubicle slaves commute to tract houses

    Retired and clueless.



    Silicon Valley is on top yet again. For 10 years Dice, a 24-year-old site that specializes in technology jobs, has rated the metro area that stretches from San Jose to San Francisco as the top-paying spot in the country for tech jobs. The average salary: $112,600, up 3.7% from the year before.Jan 28, 2015
    The Highest-Paying Cities For Tech Jobs – Forbes
    Forbes ›

    Ted Judah Reply:

    What profitable airline is serving Fresno again?

    StevieB Reply:


    Jerry Reply:

    Tourism? Florida’s AAF is certainly taking it into their planning.

  29. Reality Check
    Nov 19th, 2015 at 15:20

    Revealed: HS2 ‘abysmal value for money’ at 10 times the cost of high-speed rail in Europe

    Plans to build a high-speed rail link between the north and south of England have sparked controversy for years — but how do they compare against the rest of the world?

    HS2 is the most expensive high speed project in existence, according to new analysis undertaken by The Telegraph.

    The current £42.6bn budget makes it more than ten times the cost per kilometre of some global counterparts.


  30. JimInPollockPines
    Nov 19th, 2015 at 19:24

    Is there a proposed or sample timetable anywhere?

    Joe Reply:

    This document has service pattern tables.


    San Joaquin valley to Bay Area average fare is $47.

    JimInPollockPines Reply:

    that shows an alsmost express sf to la at 161 minutes but it stops in san jose. so a real express from sf to la would be a few minutes faster. – so under the 2:40 as planned.

    EJ Reply:

    Talk about a blast from the past. I remember when they were still talking about getting HSR to San Diego in 2030. Good times.

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