A Desperate Politician Attacks HSR to Save Her Career

Dec 9th, 2015 | Posted by

Ralph Vartabedian is really working overtime to try and spin this into a much bigger story than it is. First-term Assemblymember Patty Lopez has turned against high speed rail – but as we’ll see, that isn’t quite the kind of story Vartabedian thinks it is:

The rock-solid Democratic support in Sacramento for the bullet train, which has endured despite legal and financial setbacks in recent years, has developed a political fissure.

Assemblywoman Patty Lopez (D-San Fernando) says she is withdrawing her support for the project, and she says five other Democrats in the Legislature are reviewing their positions.

Lopez said in an interview that the project would damage her mostly Latino, working-class district, which includes Pacoima, San Fernando and Sylmar. The rail route would cut through the district.

Lopez didn’t identify the other Democrats, and Vartabedian does acknowledge that even if she could, there are plenty of Democrats in the Assembly who do still support HSR.

But I’m not convinced Lopez is right that there are others – and I know that Vartabedian is wrong to call this a “political fissure.”

Patty Lopez was a surprise winner in the 2014 election for the 39th District Assembly seat, defeating incumbent Democrat Raul Bocanegra by less than 500 votes. Her upset victory shocked and surprised many in Southern California, as she was an unknown who was never expected to defeat an incumbent who was a potential future Speaker of the Assembly.

Initial confusion and uncertainty about who Lopez was and what her politics were slowly gave way to alarm among many Democrats and progressives as it became clear that Lopez is aligned with conservative and even Tea Party groups. Arturo Carmona, former Executive Director of Presente and currently Bernie Sanders’ Latino outreach director, reflected the views of many when he called Lopez a “wolf in sheep’s clothing” last spring:

During her campaign, Patty Lopez surrounded herself with Tea Party-aligned conservatives, even seeking campaign advice from Republicans, as reported in the Sacramento Bee. One of her biggest supporters and advisors is David Hernandez, a 9-time Northeast SF Valley political candidate who has had affiliations with the Minutemen, a right-wing anti-immigrant organization that promotes hate and violence against Latinos. Perplexingly, Ms. Lopez also ran her campaign alongside Republican Senate candidate Ricardo Benitez, who she later hired on as staff and has spoken for her at events. Lopez-supporters David Hernandez and Ricardo Benitez are individuals that actively advance issues and causes that go directly against the economic and social interests of the Latino community. And the fact that until recently, Ms. Lopez has had close and public associations with these individual is not only inconceivable but deeply shameful.

Carmona also added that there were already rumblings of a recall effort against Lopez, indicating deep community distrust with their unknown new Assemblymember:

Most recently, I have been hearing community leaders calling on Assemblywoman Lopez to resign. I have also heard the word recall. A long-time parent organizer and community member who has known and worked with Ms. Lopez lamented, “This should have been a moment we should have been proud of — an immigrant, a woman, a Latina. But the sad truth is that it’s a total disappointment.” Ms. Imelda Mendoza went on to say, “I met Patty many, many years ago volunteering for the Los Angeles Unified School District and the truth is that her views are totally extreme and anti-immigrant, completely out of touch with the needs of our kids, of our schools, and of our community. We need someone that can represent us well, that really loves the community,” added Mendoza.

So that’s some important background to consider as we read Vartabedian’s story – especially because, somehow, that information did not make it into his article. At all. You would have no idea from what he wrote that Asm. Lopez is facing a broad community outcry about her extreme views and unsavory friends.

And that background also explains her new position on HSR. It makes sense for an unpopular neophyte politician who is certain to face a strong, well-funded challenger in 2016 to suddenly take the side of an angry community, in a bid to curry favor and shore up her position.

There’s no doubt that many in her district are indeed upset about the HSR project. The California High Speed Rail Authority is working to address those concerns, including studying a tunnel under the San Gabriel mountains that would bypass Lopez’s district.

We will see what the CHSRA decides about the Palmdale to Burbank alignment. But one thing we know for certain: Patty Lopez doesn’t speak for Assembly Democrats. Her views aren’t representative of the larger caucus. And her views are driven by her weak political position, not by anything the CHSRA has or hasn’t done. She faces a very tough battle to keep her seat in 2016 and even her sudden switch on HSR may not be enough to get her re-elected.

  1. Joe
    Dec 9th, 2015 at 17:18
    #1

    Maybe Gavin Newsom can endorse her reelection bid.

    Zorro Reply:

    NO, He won’t.

  2. Travis D
    Dec 9th, 2015 at 17:27
    #2

    Gee and I thought a lack of new trees was the only problem.

  3. synonymouse
    Dec 9th, 2015 at 18:49
    #3

    The Cheerleaders are really having difficulty dealing with an obvious inevitability, that as Repubs disappear from the scene in California, Demos will fill in the ideological vacuum. Ergo centrist Democrats that now get more fiscal support from anxious business interests than the teachers and prison guards unions.

    More than a little bit stereotyping to insist that anyone with a Spanish last name has to adhere to the Berkeley wing of the Democratic Party. And besides if the Antonovich quasi base tunnels eliminated all impacts of PodunkdaleRail would there would be much of any opposition to them? The locals have lots of objections to the bores, enormously expensive with a very low cost/benefit ratio. And will still impinge upon the surface of the national forest. How come the Tejon Ranch Co. gets a Cheerleader pass on the same complaint?

    She is representing her constituents, who don’t like this project at all because it is all about real estate development they don’t want to see. That’s in her job description.

    synonymouse Reply:

    Perhaps it is a function of aging, but I just don’t “get” PB Worship.

    EJ Reply:

    Nobody “worships” PB. Maybe it’s a function of aging that you think they do.

    synonymouse Reply:

    “A Desperate Politician Attacks HSR to Save Her Career”(!)

    This Sunday’s Sermon at the Church of PBCAHSR.

    And they charge me with hyperbole? Politicians are opportunists certainly but just maybe this lady is a “paisan” to her constituents and shares their opinion.

    EJ Reply:

    There is no such organization as “PBCAHSR.” Nobody “worships” Parsons Brinckerhoff, and your babbling doesn’t indicate otherwise.

    synonymouse Reply:

    Perhaps for the most devout of the PB faithful a pilgrimage to the blessed Fresno bridge miracle.

    Bahnfreund Reply:

    You really are obsessed, ain’t ya? What did Parsons Brinckerhoff ever do to you?

    Jerry Reply:

    1. It told him there was no Santa Claus.
    2. He thought Brinckerhoff & Parsons were two of Santa’s reindeer.
    3. They dropped him on his head when he was born.
    Add your own reasons what they did to the mouse.
    It could be a mystery thriller.

    synonymouse Reply:

    PB inherited the Bechtel throne and the sins of the fathers are indeed visited upon the sons.

    But the Embarcadero Freeway on Rails in PAMPA scheme proved PB in fact equal to the worst of Bechtel. And c’mon the Palmdale Detour vies with BART broad gauge. For PB and Bechtel real power consists not of being able to do good but to do stupid and downright malevolent and get away with it. Who’s going to stop them?

    Ted Judah Reply:

    One of the most pervasive elements of Sacramento are the permanent corps of consultants who manage projects forever as a sort of 4th…5th…6th…branch of government. Originally, brought in because Pete Wilson wanted to decimate the civil service by turning over the projects senior staff would handle to private consultants to skirt public record laws and the like.

    This time, however, the real prize isn’t HSR, it’s all the mass transit systems cities will plan and maintain to connect to HSR.

    J. Wong Reply:

    Parsons-Brinkerhoff recommended aerials on the Peninsula, but evidence seems to indicate that the Authority is going with berms. So exactly how does PB control the Authority given this? (They don’t.)

    Tokkyu40 Reply:

    They’re doing that to conceal the mystic PB cabal!
    Remember, this is a conspiracy theory. The total lack of evidence is all the evidence they need.

    Bahnfreund Reply:

    It’s all one giant conspiracy! Benghazi! 9/11! Black helicopters! The fact that Peyton Manning throws interceptions! Wake up sheeple!

    synonymouse Reply:

    In a densely populated area and very seismically active hollow core aerials make brutalist engineering sense. PB is thinking terre brulee, like BART at Daly City. They turn a blind eye to the issues of visual and noise pollution, urban blight. Just following orders.

    Open aerials provide accessibility, the possibility of relatively quick repair and alteration. Berms would blend in better back East, where the weather is terrible half the year at best and everybody hunkers down. Reforestation camouflages the scars and who notices anything under several feet of snow? California is semi-desert and crowded and everybody’s out on the street. Aerial crap is a lot more of a blight, not cute like a mound left by a long-lost moundbuilder civilization in the distant past

    PB just wants to do the job, pick up the check and be outtahere before any downside gets noticed. Any kind of aerial ROW is going to be a mess to deal with and in many areas it is going to have to be tightly fenced off, maintained and patrolled. These days difficult to put much of anything public under it due to the fear of attack. Upside of tunnel or subway is that saboteurs cannot put anything under it; they can only attack from within the train or the stations. Aerials would be quite vulnerable to ingress. Berms too; you just need a bigger bang.

    synonymouse Reply:

    The term “berm” is also a bit misleading – there is the hint of naturally graded or sloped landscaped sides. Bur what we are talking about here is massive concrete retaining walls, filled with cheaper material. You have abandoned any hope of using the real estate underneath for anything.

    If you go to the Graton casino in Rohnert Park there is a newly constructed reasonable facsimile at the 101 crossing of Golf Course Drive on a massive “berm”. And some hollow core aerials too.

    J. Wong Reply:

    Yes, aerials are an ‘engineers’ solution hence Parsons recommendation. But the Authority seems to be going with the cheaper berms also in line with Caltrain’s plans. The berms can be landscaped. The ROW is mostly large enough for that. PAMPA cities should insist on it as there buy in.

    synonymouse Reply:

    PAMPA would demand better, I should think.

    synonymouse Reply:

    How can you landscape a massive concrete retaining wall? Unless you want to widen the footprint. Not a very good idea where real estate values are high.

    SF is doing the opposite, putting the real estate back on the tax rolls.

    J. Wong Reply:

    By putting trees in front of the retaining wall. Like I said, the existing ROW is wide enough for that. And it’s a trade off the cities will have to make.

    J. Wong Reply:

    Better? What can they ask for that they have any reasonable chance of getting? Tunnels? Not going to happen. No HSR? Not going to get that either. (And they’ll still end up with berms because that’s what Caltrain will do.) Replace Caltrain with BART? That’s a total fantasy. Anything supposedly “better” that you could propose would cost way too much, which no one will agree to.

    Grade separation

    J. Wong Reply:

    Grade separation is coming. Plan for it.

    synonymouse Reply:

    IMHO, and I may the last one standing feeling this way, BART Ring the Bay with a subway in PAMPA and adios Caltrain-HSR is still a possibility. Major uptick in property values and taxes that way.

    PBCAHSR may still implode.

    Bring back W.C.’s on Caltrain trainsets; relocate HSR to Altamont-Dumbarton; and a smaller footprint, lower grade separation for Caltrain on the Peninsula. That’s the best alternative.

    J. Wong Reply:

    @synonymouse

    No one especially in PAMPA is thinking about how to get a major increase in property values especially given the changes that it would take to get them. Just like they resist HSR, they’ll resist BART. They want their cake and they want to eat it too.

    The reality of course is much less impact from HSR and a sooner solution of the grade separation problem. (Versus pie-in-the-sky BART.)

    les Reply:

    And what impinging on “surface of the national forest” are you referring to? Is this miles upon miles of bulldozing destruction to forest or is it standard intrusions which commonly occur where easements of regress and egress previously exist? Be specific please.

    synonymouse Reply:

    Depends on the final plans and how much they want to spend(or save). Of course PB will want to keep this a secret as long as possible to try to ram the plan thru.

    Some surface rail, ventilation shafts, daylighting to speed construction in numerous segment, access roads, etc. And of course there is always the truly sinister plot to “soften up” the national forest for further development. Real estate exploiters are amoral. Environmental sociopaths.

    les Reply:

    All hyperbole and no substance. So typical.

    Aarond Reply:

    The realtors are eyeing up areas around the Capitol Corridor instead. They see how much money RWC is making off their urbanization on the Penninsula, they want that in the east bay. The CC is an existing service, one which will get 1A money once the SF-LA line is done (assuming it is). Furthermore, Oakland is probably going to use the opportunity to fix their mess of a downtown area, in ten years removing 980 and building Oakland a proper rail station (say by trenching under 880, allowing access to the old union station) will be in the cards.

    I mean, why bother with national forests when you got all this low-income housing to build over in the east bay? A similar thing is playing out in northern sac with the mess that is the riverfront re-“development”. The ACE line (which will fold into AC) holds a lot of potential as well.

    Ted Judah Reply:

    Remember though, that the Capitol Corridor’s biggest advantage would be in the communities that BART doesn’t serve, and those tend to be the ones hamstrung by the slow and curvy (albeit scenic) track around the Bay. That’s not to say TOD won’t happen just that, BART will make sure that its bread is buttered first.

    As for downtown Oakland, it would be just great if they could bury the 880 and 980 to create a pedestrian friendly downtown that would link West Oakland with downtown and downtown with the waterfront. The *ideal* location for a new train station would be next to the ferry terminal and with some sort of intermodal connection to BART. (Yeah I know…) Maybe even a streetcar…or something similar…

    synonymouse Reply:

    The Eastbay cannot even get a trolleybus.

    Bdawe Reply:

    Nearly no one builds new-build trolleybus networks. I can hardly think of one in North America that wasn’t simply a renovation of existing pre-war streetcar electrification 50 years ago.

    What does not having trolleybuses relate to anything?

    synonymouse Reply:

    A trolleybus is a cheaper streetcar. The Eastbay did develop a plan for trolleybuses a few years ago but lack of money(all goes to broad gauge)and embedded diesel busmen everywhere derailed that.

    The willingness to spend on fixed plant tells how much you are interested in transit. The Eastbay is interested in freeways and BART. BART loves freeways and airports; hates other transit ops.

    Bdawe Reply:

    OR politicians don’t see the (marginal, if real) benefits of trolleybuses over regular buses, and BART represents a service quality to the transit-uninformed that people accidentally think that BART tech is necessary for.

    synonymouse Reply:

    I don’t much think the choice gets to the politicians – it is nixed at the transit management level by the diesel bus mindset going back many decades. I don’t believe these guys like hybrids that much either; sometimes they have to go along with the program, figuring the mechanically complex vehicles will break down in good time and it will be back to diesel.

    Trolley coach switchwork means maintenance and extra expense, another union, and can slow down travel times. Reliable on-board power storage could possibly remedy that complexity. The upside of wire is powerful acceleration and superb hill climbing. In the case of SF you need a particularly heavy duty drive train to handle the hills and the swinging passenger loads. I am pretty sure that the infamous trolley coach jerk that can put a standing passenger on the floor if they don’t hang on tight to the pole can be fixed. Helps to do a little maintenance now and then – Muni – and maybe don’t buy from a country that does not have any hilly routes? I’d suggest Switzerland.

    Neville Snark Reply:

    I’m with mouse in his love of trolleybuses. Assuming that rational people will not abide diesel, isn’t the real $$ comparison that between trolleybuses versus vs electric, battery powered buses? Say over 25 years; what is cheaper, putting up the lines, or the batteries? I should think putting up the lines is cheaper, but maybe with battery prices going down …

    synonymouse Reply:

    The best trolleybus is going to be the one with the best batteries aboard. You need to engineer advanced overhead that can be passed thru at normal, not reduced speed. Faster travel time is a major selling point of diesel with transit management.

    SF is the natural market for more trolley coach, certainly Geary and Noriega. They tried the O&K overhead with mixed success. But just being able to reliably negotiate say the base of Market St. off the wire would be a great step. Trolley buses could pass each other and veer beyond the reach of the poles. Market St. is the only place with many routes congregating and that section not that long. IMHO battery-overhead is a much happier hybrid marriage than gas-electric.

    Max Wyss Reply:

    Where trolleybuses defeat diesel buses is in grades. Actually in two ways. An articulated trolleybus (such as the Swisstrolley) has two driven axles, with motors in the 120 to 150 kW range. That’s 300 kW available just for traction, with the maximum torque from the start. On the other hand, a diesel bus with a 300 kW motor is considered well powered, but from these 300 kW, two thirds are lost in transmission and by auxiliary consumers (such as air conditioning).

    In some cases, a trolleybus is an intermediate step from diesel bus (or hybrid buses) to streetcar/light rail. Part of the investment for streetcar/light rail is done with the trolleybus (power supply, substation and so on). Now, if the trolleybus is supposed to run in its own right-of-way, the price difference to streetcar/light rail is, however, not that much anymore.

    So, in hilly cities, trolleybuses can be the best choice. The capacity is comparable to a simple streetcar, and with a 25 m double-articulated, it may be even more.

    Battery powered buses are tendentially smaller (I have not yet seen a battery-powered 17 m articulated). Battery powered (as well as supercapacitor-powered) buses suffer of the fact that they have only their on-board power, whose supply is limited (as opposed to a trolley bus whose supply of power is not limited). This makes a battery/supercapacitor-powered bus heavier by default.

    To me the “trolley coach jerk” is due to electromechanical speed control (as opposed to power electronics, where the acceleration curve can be defined by the control software).

    synonymouse Reply:

    I believe the SF Skodas feature relatively modern electronic controls, not resistance switching nor the GE style electromechanical contactor system where you can jump steps and really get a jerk.

    AFAIK the Skodas develop “slop” in the drive trains or downright failure due to design inadequacy. So the controls may be stepless but there is a mechanical lag in crappy gearing. Transmissions hide this torque but electric traction with no intermediate transmission transfers it mercilessly.

    I do not know if you have been to SF but the overhead gets pretty damn complex. They tried O&K but evidently their maintenance people found at least some of it too fragile and unreliable.

    As to battery weight fortunately Geary has very little grades so the ability to do a mile off wire would be an acceptable tradeoff provided the batteries could power a packed articulated trolley bus that far.

    Max Wyss Reply:

    It is quite some time since I was in San Francisco the last time (probably when the Seybold Seminars took place their last time in SF)…

    I am positive that the Skodas do have some gears, but, indeed, there is no torque converter or similar hydraulic device in the power train.

    I think O&K did trolley bus overheads, but IMHO the first address to go for help would be Kummler&Matter.

    The VBZ did run tests with the 25 m double articulateds which have batteries instead of a auxiliary diesel unit, and they did get pretty far, as well as up from Höngg to the Hönggerberg (about 500 m with 10% grade). And there are actuator activated trolley poles which don’t need the driver to go outside to take them down or put them up to the wire.

    Anandakos Reply:

    I too am with Syno on the ETB’s. If there was ever a quintessentially urban form of transport, it’s trolleybuses. Nothing can touch them starting up with a full load, including full hybrids because of the weight of the duplicated power plant. A route like the 1 on Sacramento across Nob Hill would be an enormous headache for diesel mechanics to serve day in day out with diesels. Ditto The Counterbalance on Queen Anne and James up from Third in Seattle.

    Of course, a big battery pack is heavy to lug around, too, but the mass/KWH is coming down as are reliability issues.

    Seattle is going to be getting new 40′ and 60′ articulated ETB’s, and they’ll carry battery packs sufficient for three or five miles off wire, depending on A/C load and grade of course. Supposedly once they’re wired back up they’ll be fully charged in thirty minutes from complete exhaustion. That’s probably sufficient to de-wire Market east of about Eighth because it’s pancake flat.

    Unfortunately, it will take Muni 30 years to wear out the new trolleys. They have Auxiliary Power Systems using NiCad batteries, but they don’t have the necessary range to run Market without overhead.

    synonymouse Reply:

    You would not have to take down the wire on Market Street; just don’t add more to electrify the #38. A big issue here is Presidio Yard-Geary Carhouse and City Hall’s longtime compulsion to selloff Muni property. You just have to beat them down and way expand the facility.

    The trolley coaches aren’t even incompatible with BART Vader’s Imperial broad gauge blitzkrieg down Geary – arrgh! Witness the #14 on Mission.

    You clearly missed the day of the Mack 2600 series and the GM New Looks on the #55 Sacramento. The Macks were actually a cool bus as buses go, like Muni’s gas Whites, but would just die on that hill even with the extra low gear; the Jimmy’s with Jake brakes and big 2-cycle v-8’s also with an extra low gear could scream to wake up the dead.

    On the other hand Charlie Smallwood told me in the mid-sixties that the #55 was the Muni line that had the best farebox recovery. Relatively short but packed in both directions going to Chinatown and the financial district.

    Ted K. Reply:

    Re: synonymouse’s

    As to battery weight fortunately Geary has very little grades so the ability to do a mile off wire would be an acceptable tradeoff provided the batteries could power a packed articulated trolley bus that far.

    Your “very little grades” makes me wonder about your definition of “flat”. I’ve lived near Geary in the avenues while growing up and very little of it is truly flat (e.g. the Stanyan – Arguello or Fillmore – Divisadero stretches). The avenues are one gigantic swale that steepens on the western end. And the Cathedral Hill segment (Polk to Fillmore) is a respectable hump.
    The one steep stretch is the climb from Divisadero up to Presidio Ave. Per Google Maps that’s three tenths (3/10ths) of a mile of gearbox-stressing hill. I would want three to five (3 to 5) miles of battery capacity to give one a decent safety margin as the vehicle makes its way into the Presidio Carbarn’s yard. Luckily, that yard’s entrances are only one to two (1 to 2) blocks from Presidio and Geary.
    P.S. I remember the Macks crawling up Sacramento on Nob Hill towards Grace Cathedral and past CSB. A fast walker could easily beat them on some blocks. My tag for them is “sardine cans” due to the rush hour crush loading.

    synonymouse Reply:

    Yeah come to think of it Geary was indeed a cable railroad until Rolph and O’Shaughnessy bought it up, tore it up and rebuilt it as the A, B, and C lines.

    But it was considered to be flat enough to retain as a streetcar line 10 years the rest of the rail system was mostly ripped up. Certainly picture streetcars on the 21 Hayes or the 7 Haight. I understand there was much fanning of the brakes on those heavy Jewett cars on Haight St. hills.

    The 5 McAllister was the flattest but they wanted to sell its carhouse which became Petrini Plaza.

    But what makes the 38 doable with some battery is the very short part of the line on Market. At the Eastbay Terminal the buses would have access to 600vdc again. A trolley bus subway inbound from Cathedral Hill would be the primo solution.

    Domayv Reply:

    @Ted Judah: How about something like this for the East Bay: an improved Capitol Corridor that is mostly passenger-dedicated and separate from the UPRR freight tracks, given how busy the freight scene in the East Bay it is (and moreso once CHSR and Electric Caltrain eliminate the remaining freight off the SF Peninsula)
    https://www.google.com/maps/d/edit?mid=zWLI5V544xAc.kps6PIgTbaaI

    Eric Reply:

    Are you seriously proposing 14 new tracks under the bay? Sheesh. Good luck funding that.

    Aarond Reply:

    14 tracks under the bay is more likely than BART going up Caltrain’s ROW.

    Also as much as I want an I-580/Alameda railway (and believe me, I seriously do) you’d have to do a massive tunnel from Burlingame to San Carlos (from about Trousdale Dr. to Edgewood Dr.) because of the steep hills there. NIMBYs aside you cannot build any RR tracks up the Alameda, on the basis that in Belmont the roads are very narrow and there’s a 10% grade.

    Doing tracks down I-280 and handing those over to CAHSR, allowing Caltrain to run both express and commuter trains side by side, is a better option. This, along with BART down 101, would give people four options to commute by rail.

    Domayv Reply:

    @Eric It’s actually 12 (4 leads to Oakland, 4 leads to a maintenance facility in Alameda, and another 4 are new BART tracks to serve new BART lines since the existing Transbay Tube is way past capacity. Also, those extra 2 tracks are actually the old BART Transbay Tube) (I know I’m quite zany with that).

    @Aarond: Concerning the I-580/Alameda Railway, you should correct it to I-280 railway because Belmont, Burlingame and San Carlos all lie in proximity to the I-280 rather than I-580/Alameda.

    Also, if I were give I-280 to CAHSR then entering the Transbay Terminal would be really awkward compared to following US-101, as the station is much closer to that freeway than I-280. I would reserve I-280+I-680 (between San Jose and Fremont)+I-580 (between Ashland and San Rafael as a Caltrain commuter loop line a la Tokyo’s Yamanote Line and Berlin’s Ringbahn.

    Let me explain the new 101 rail corridor: From County Route G10 north in San Jose, two tracks will split from four tracks. The four tracks will go to San Jose Diridon (this will serve Caltrain and future Amtrak intercity services), and the two new tracks (which will be HSR only) will go underground into a new station serving Downtown San Jose Directly (north of that, there will be a branch that links HSR with I-880 rail to serve the East Bay). Between that and Old Middlefield Way, it is HSR only. Now for the Caltrain ROW, between County Route G10 and Mountain view, it will be four tracks for Standard Gauge (BART will remain underground between San Jose and San Antonio). Right before Mountain View, two tracks (which is only for future Amtrak intercity services) will split from the existing ROW and connect with US-101 rail at Old Middlefield Way, making it four tracks and serving both that and HSR. Past San Antonio, BART emerges and is above-ground. The Caltrain tracks briefly reconnect with new US-101 tracks north of Hayward Park before splitting off at Broadway, and then reconnect again at the former Bayshore Yard (it will be redeveloped as a rail station and a future terminal and maintenance facility for trains that serve Marin County and northward) before splitting off again to serve a new underground station (4 for BART and 6 for Caltrain) replacing the former 4th & King Station, which will be torn down and redeveloped. The Caltrain tracks would finally reconnect for the third time with the new tracks at 5th Street in San Francisco and and BART tracks would go underground to 5th & Folsom and stop at a new station in proximity to Transbay Terminal called Folsom Street Station. The Caltrain local services will be replaced by BART and the Baby Bullet services will become the new basic service.

    That being said, this would still give people at least four options to commute by rail across SF peninsula
    tl;dr

    Ted Judah Reply:

    Nice map there.

    The two considerations you have to adjust for is that Marin and Solano won’t get BART because it would reduce bridge revenue. The only alternate means of mass transit from the North Bay are the ferries. Similarly, the first priority is to keep BART full across the Bay, then add capacity as needed by other modes.

    Although an enhanced Capitol Corridor could be a huge boost for all of Northern California…the UP wants the status quo. They don’t want to put in major upgrades because they don’t want the tracks to be more crowded. But they don’t want a separate track owned by someone else because it’s competition for traffic. Probably the sneakiest thing to do would be to increase port traffic or emission controls at the Port of Oakland so that the track is overloaded and the UP has to act. The the government can step in, help them upgrade, and gain more concessions on using the track.

    Paul Dyson Reply:

    “Increase Port traffic” Ted? So you’re going to tell importers and steamship lines which port to use? And “a separate track owned be someone else” would for certain by passenger only. No one needs more freight capacity.

    Ted Judah Reply:

    That’s precisely why the UP would try to kill a new passenger only track…all the owner has to do is run as much freight as on the CalTrain corridor and UP’s margins are ruined.

    As for stimulating port traffic, it could done a myriad of ways, including dredging the Bay to allow deeper traffic to use the Port.

    Domayv Reply:

    @Ted Judah: Is the UP that dependent on money it gets from passenger rail services like Amtrak paying to use their tracks? Shouldn’t freight be more important

    Also, I’ll say this and I’ll say it again, the new East Bay rail ROW is passenger-only and not for freight to use.

    Ted Judah Reply:

    Domayv… no it’s that IF any freight runs on the new track supposedly only for passenger traffic…IF…then UP would suffer mightily.

    And so to ensure that such a thing does not happen, the UP will oppose any other option except to continue to entertain some passenger traffic on their existing track at low rates as long as their freight gets priority.

    Bdawe Reply:

    Ted, how does UP suffer if someone’s running freights on a dedicated passenger track? Losing some minor shorthaulling opportunities? It’s not like UP has any competitors just itching to get their own route in the the Bay Area. Unless we’re building this dedicated track all the way to Chicago, how can this be anything but a gain for UP?

    Domayv Reply:

    @Ted Judah: And all that would do is prevent any passenger alternatives for I-80 and I-880 (which are seriously clogged) from gaining traction, all for some money that wouldn’t matter too much if Amtrak stopped paying UPRR for those tracks. UPRR honestly needs to understand of the existence of dedicated tracks. Also, the dedicated line would be electrified, precluding any chance of UPRR running any of their trains on the dedicated passenger line (UPRR doesnt want to run its trains under electric wire)

    Ted Judah Reply:

    I’m not endorsing the UP’s position. I am just saying that they (and other Class I Railroads) are fearful of government ownership of extra rail capacity because at one time the federal government seized all railroad property.

    As a purely technical decision, I agree with you both.

    Domayv Reply:

    @Ted Judah: Thanks for the compliment. Anyhow, concerning Marin county, I added in intercity rail that crosses the Golden Gate Strait (it would be a bridge since it would be too deep for a tunnel, plus the Golden Gate Bridge was originally going to host rail on its undersection. https://c1.staticflickr.com/3/2648/4118652342_28936a67f5_b.jpg, https://c2.staticflickr.com/6/5298/5427076853_3cdc8fd4c5_b.jpg) to the mix, though I wonder if you would suggest me to remove is since it too would reduce revenue from the Golden Gate Bridge just like with Marin BART.

    Also BART is already full as it is (for a fun fact of the map, BART’s I-980, I-580 and CA-24 rail ROWs would be converted to standard-gauge rail).

    @ Paul Dyson: Agreed on the separate track for the East Bay. Look at VIA Rail and their proposals for their Corridor services. They’re going build new dedicated passenger-only tracks so it would be unfettered completely from freight from Canadian National and Canadian Pacific, and none of those two companies are complaining. So for a new dedicated passenger-only track on the East Bay, it would make no sense for UPRR to complain about separate tracks if they occupy completely different niches (UPRR would be for freight, and the new tracks would be passenger-only).

    Neil Shea Reply:

    Domayv: What city do you live in?

    Ambitious vision, but obviously any new routes will face a lot of opposition, not just from those whose property will be taken. And huge costs, especially for tunneling, for which the $Billions can’t be found even for short stretches like PAMPA.

    Since we’re looking at such a long term, non-budget-constrained vision, I’m wondering why we would not migrate BART/Transit operations over to standard gauge? This would reduce the costs of building/converting/maintaining tracks, reduce vehicle procurement costs, and increase interoperability/operational flexibility/disruption recovery options.

    Domayv Reply:

    What ideas I’m suggesting clearly won’t be built right now, but individual ideas (i.e. an improved East Bay rail corridor and a new Transbay Tube) could be included in the future.

    Ted Judah Reply:

    Domayv,

    The main obstacle to building a rail link to the North Bay is that the water supply there is quite limited (no State Water Project irrigation). Thus, even SMART was asking for a lot.

    Over the last couple of years, I’ve gained an appreciation for using ferries. Marin should really invest in expanding ferry service not just to SF but also to the East and South Bay as well. (Maybe SFO?) I realize most boats are rather slow currently, but obviously, there are faster ships available if there’s sufficient demand.

    Bay Area transit is really an ecosystem of different modes all working together at once, from the bridges, to the ferries, to MUNI/VTA, to BART, to CalTrain and even the commuter rail lines. That’s what makes it so fun, and so frustrating.

    Zorro Reply:

    Most or all HSR tracks in the area will be in tunnels. As to this fake Democrat, clearly She is a Republican, who is like a German surface Raider of WWII, when not attacking would run as something else, when attacking the real colors would emerge into the open, as would the guns. I hope She resigns or She will be recalled, CA is not Wisconsin.

  4. Reality Check
    Dec 9th, 2015 at 22:17
    #4

    High-speed rail’s tree-planting plan slow to start
    Nearly a year after groundbreaking, not a single tree planted

    […]

    But the bulldozers, cranes and other construction equipment needed to build the line will still spew carbon pollution into the atmosphere.

    Trees and other plants absorb carbon dioxide as they grow.

    Authority spokesperson Lisa-Marie Alley said the goal is to plant 5,000 trees along the first 29-mile section from Madera to Fresno. She said the planting has been delayed because of the drought.

    However, the head of the Sacramento Tree Foundation said the drought should not stand in the way of tree planting.

    […]

    Meanwhile, Morales said the authority is currently re-evaluating which section of the line will be the first to offer passenger service.

    Initial plans called for service to begin in 2022 between Merced and the San Fernando Valley.

    However, Morales said Tuesday his staff is also looking at starting on a section between San Jose and Bakersfield.

    john burrows Reply:

    From the same article—

    “A 2010 study by two civil engineering professors estimated the total project would generate 490 million metric tons of greenhouse gases or about 2% of California’s yearly emissions”.

    Seems to be something wrong here because California emits around 360 million metric tons of greenhouse gases per year. 490 million metric tons of greenhouse gases is equal to 136%, —Not 2%—of California’s yearly greenhouse gas emissions.

    According to this study, the construction of the high speed rail project would emit more greenhouse gases than the entire state emits over a time period of one year and four months.

    Seems like a lot of emissions to me, but I am not an engineer.

    agb5 Reply:

    The civil engineering professors state that greenhouse gas emissions increase primarily because of the concrete used in construction—half a kilogram of CO2 is emitted for every kilogram of cement produced.

    The US produces 77 million tonnes of cement per year, which should generate 38 million tonnes of CO2

    If half of the 490 million tonnes HSR CO2 emission came from cement production, that implies HSR will consume 6 times the entire annual cement production of the US!

    I am not an engineer but my bullshit detector is in the red zone.

    http://www.uctc.net/access/37/access37_assessing_hsr.pdf

    Elizabeth Alexis Reply:

    Yes – there is something odd with calculation.

    It should be noted, however, that because of a quirk in environmental review law, all of the numbers coming from CHSRA exclude the carbon impact of the steel and concrete used in the project.

    When they say they are mitigating emissions, they just mean the emissions from the trucks carrying the materials – not the materials themselves.

    This is a serious oversight and should be fixed for all projects, including highways.

    agb5 Reply:

    Not to mention the co2 emissions from making the steel to make the bulldozer used to mine the iron ore in Brazil used to make the steel rebar.

    Bahnfreund Reply:

    Not to forget the CO2 that was emitted when the mining equipment for the iron ore mine was built… And so on, ad infinitum

    Jerry Reply:

    “And so on, ad infinitum” and ad nauseam, as they say.

    Bahnfreund Reply:

    Well there you go. That Latin class has to be good for something, right?

    Jerry Reply:

    “fixed for all projects” including the production of cars, for those highways.
    And obtaining the oil for the gasoline to run those cars.
    And the cost of wars to obtain the oil for the gasoline.
    And the “calculations” go on and on.

    Miles Bader Reply:

    …and widening local roads to insane proportions (something U.S. cities seem to do at the drop of a hat, with little thought), building huge strip-mall parking lots for yet another marginal big-box store, etc.

    It would be interesting to see CAHSR construction compared with all the other useless or downright harmful construction that goes on in California….

    Joe Reply:

    Funny that the HW 101 two lane widening along PAMPAs stretch, 12 total lanes, didn’t result in one tree planting or carbon offset.

    There is a newer branch of ecological and civil eng research to quantify total life cycle emissions of roads and highways sans the traffic.

    One Spanish paper estimated. Four projects and came up with 8 to 50 tons per KM for highway construction.

    What would a 4 lane I-5 emit?

    Joe Reply:

    The key findings were as follows: total emissions are 787.19 and 1,383.28 MT per lane mile for Hybrid Models 1 and 2, respectively; the production of the materials, equipment, and fuel used to construct the project account for 90% and 94% of the total emissions throughout the construction phase for Hybrid Models 1 and 2, respectively; the equipment use and transportation impacts together only represent 6–10% of total emission through the construction phase.

    http://ascelibrary.org/doi/abs/10.1061/(ASCE)CO.1943-7862.0000349

    john burrows Reply:

    Concerning that alleged 490 million tons of carbon pollution that will be produced by the construction of California high speed rail—Here is a timeline of what I think happened.

    Jan 6, 2010—IOP Publishing puts out a paper by Mikhail Chester and Arpad Horvath of the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, UC Berkeley. The paper is titled “Life-cycle assessment of high-speed rail: the case of California” From that paper we have the following sentence—“A time until return on investment (ROI) can be determined for construction of the CAHSR system, which we estimate at 9.7 million Mg CO2e, roughly 2% of California’s 490 Mg CO2e emitted in 2004.

    Fall 2010—A more easily understandable version of the same article appears in “Access Magazine”, a magazine which publishes research at the University of California Transportation Center. “Its goal is to translate academic writing into readable prose that is useful to policymakers and practitioners.” But unfortunately Access Magazine, in trying to make the article more readable, manages to screw up the content. The sentence is changed to read “Infrastructure construction will emit roughly 490 million metric tons of greenhouse gases, which are approximately 2 per cent of California’s current annual emissions”—Certainly more understandable than the sentence above but unfortunately wrong by a factor of fifty, and certainly very easy to see how this error was made.

    December 2015—David Bienick of KCRA-TV in Sacramento gives it a little more punch when he tells his listeners on the air that by one estimate construction of high speed rail will spew out nearly a half billion tons of carbon pollution—Fifty times more than what the engineers actually estimated.

    This error has persisted for over five years and has, on more than one occasion, been used to make the case that the construction of high speed rail would cause unacceptable CO2 pollution. It is surprising that this error has persisted, but it is way past time for it to be corrected.

    Aarond Reply:

    >However, the head of the Sacramento Tree Foundation said the drought should not stand in the way of tree planting.

    I’m sorry, but I can’t get over this. This is absolutely absurd, I mean people are actually loosing their jobs, their livelihoods, because of the Drought and all these people care about are trees. Granted the farmers all got themselves into this pickle in the first place, but I had hoped the central valley was at least somewhat more immune to this level of idiocy.

    agb5 Reply:

    The Sacramento Tree Foundation have planted 9700 trees in the last 4 years, but how many of those have died as a result of the drought?
    Their web site states that “A young tree needs 10-15 gallons of water per week. Slowly soak the area near the base of the tree 2-3 times per week with 5 gallons each time.”, and recommends that you divert the drain pipe of your shower to your tree roots.

    Joe Reply:

    Political Correctness should not dictate we stop tree planting to show reverence of the drought impact.

    Pretty good work estimates ~12 million trees in the sierras are lost due to the drought. If HSR plants a few thousand to offset some emissions it not a BFD.

    Bahnfreund Reply:

    They should be planting drought resistant trees if at all possible…

    Jerry Reply:

    And more bamboo. It creates more oxygen.

    Joe Reply:

    CA natives in the area are drought tolerant. It has to be done intelligently, shade protecting the seedlings, but it’s not rocket science.

    Bahnfreund Reply:

    I’m glad it isn’t. Otherwise the Randroids would be screaming for Elon Musk again… The funny thing about rocket science though is that it is not all THAT complicated… We put a man into space before the first HSR train entered regular service, for instance…

    Neil Shea Reply:

    > However, Morales said Tuesday his staff is also looking at starting on a section between San Jose and Bakersfield.

    They could complete engineering and get land acquisition well underway for Pacheco Pass as a way to maintain broadest support for the project North & South, and to create some competition for where the next funds get allocated. If a multi-year tunneling project is kicked off BUR-PLM maybe there is still enough bondable C&T funds to get multi-year construction underway in Pacheco.

    That would also make it near impossible to ‘pull the plug’ on the statewide project, and it would entiice many in the CV with Bay Area jobs while enticing Bay Area employers with a big labor pool for satellite offices or work from home but come to the office for meetings.

    Meanwhile with Trump or Cruz likely at the head of the GOP ticket, there is now a decent possibility of a Goldwater-style route with Dem Senate and a near 50/50 House after the elections.

    synonymouse Reply:

    Balderdash.

    Up to now a Hillary presidency has been considered a fait accompli. Now still likely but not locked in.

    Continued jihadi attacks out of the woodwork on soft targets in the West are cutting the hamstrings of Kumbaya. Barack appears inept and opportunist and Janet Yellen in over her head. Talking heads. The Demos have to hope the economy does not sputter, as in China.

    The big question is what gives with Trump. I suspect he will withdraw, electing Hillary.

    The situation in France is downright unbelievable. To forestall Marine Le Pen and the FN they are forcing all the socialist candidates to withdraw. In the US it would be tantamount to making Bernie supporters vote for Jeb Bush. I cannot figure this one out – all they have to do is let the FN come to power and gradually prove to be as ineffectual as the other parties.

    synonymouse Reply:

    On the other hand Romney-Rubio could give Hillary-Bernie a run for the money.

    Others are finally starting to talk up drafting Mitt.

    john burrows Reply:

    But not the 47 per cent.

    Bahnfreund Reply:

    Your let them have power and soon they will prove to be incompetent and whither away was exactly the tactic the German right wing had vis-a-vis Hitler ca. 1932. There is this famous quote of one of them “In a few weeks we will have him pushed to the corner, screeching”. We all knew how that turned out. When Europe turns far right, they turn far right into Belgium (John Oliver)… Unfortunately, that’s an apt description…

    synonymouse Reply:

    Marine Le Pen is hardly der fuhrer. Try the Ayatollah, Kerry’s bud.

    Bahnfreund Reply:

    [citation needed]

    Aarond Reply:

    >all they have to do is let the FN come to power and gradually prove to be as ineffectual as the other parties.

    Because that would be somehow “racist”, I never got european politics. For as screwed up as our political system is, the problem is purely money. Backhanded moves like FN is facing can’t really happen here since we have a powerful court system. Even the Tea Party, which bullied their way into power, had to actually raid town halls to get what they wanted. The only exception I can think of is gerrymandering.

    The worst part about all of this is that giving credibility to FN’s victim complex only legitimizes them. Nobody wins here.

    john burrows Reply:

    Vartabedian has stated in his LA Times article that the cost of a Burbank-Merced IOS is likely to increase by 31%, going up $9 billion (from $31 billion to $40 billion). Also in the Times article is the statement that the cost of the total project is likely to increase by at least 5% ( about $3.5 billion).
    Potentially then there would be up to a $5.5 billion saving on the rest of the project which may help to explain the increased interest in IOS North.

    C&T may end up supplying more funding for HSR than what the Authority is currently estimating, but even in the best case, it will only go so far. If the goal here is to get the most bang for the buck and to get that bang as quickly as possible, then San Jose to Bakersfield may be the way to do it.

    A couple of things that will be interesting to watch—

    1. Bid results for Construction Package #4, hopefully well under budget.
    2. Adjustments for inflation—The California Consumer Price Index for All Consumers increased from 241 in October 2012 to 251 in October 2015, an annual rate of increase of 1.3%. I don’t know what numbers have been used to adjust CAHSR projections for inflation, but I wonder if they might go down.

    The 2016 Business Plan will be interesting.

    synonymouse Reply:

    And when Jerry is gone and Gavin is in peddle the “northern region” IOS to Amtrak or BART?

    Bahnfreund Reply:

    Wait, who says Gavin Newsom is a lock in for governor? Or that he can afford to kill HSR politically? After all, he would succeed one of the biggest names in California politics and not only kill his signature accomplishment but also the one project in a state at a turning point that has FUTURE written all over it in huge letters. If there is one thing California is and always has been about, it is future.

    synonymouse Reply:

    If there is one thing California is it is Hollywood.

    synonymouse Reply:

    Hollywood’s vision of the future is mostly dystopia.

    But I think some of the writers must have flunked high school, especially Chem. In “Into the Badlands” they have some oil and some real old autos, pre-computer. But no gunpowder so far. Uh??

    Zorro Reply:

    Cyno = Past

    Bahnfreund Reply:

    And what is Hollywood all about? Dream big and dream of the future…

    Jerry Reply:

    Who runs CalTrain??
    There’s more in the mix than just Amtrak and BART.

    synonymouse Reply:

    Can Caltrain run Caltrain.

    Roland Reply:

    Caltrain has nothing to do with BART or Amtrak (you are probably thinking of Capitol Corridor?)

    – Administration: http://www.caltrain.com/Assets/Public/JPA_Agreement_and_Amendment_10-03-1996.pdf
    – O&M (including tracks): https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/TransitAmerica_Services

    Joe Reply:

    HSR needs options. A northern segment option makes the project far more resilient to setbacks and provides leverage over those seeking to delay the project to extract more concessions.

    If SoCal can’t agree on how to get to Burbank then HSR can build north first. Not sure the larger southern ca population would like to see that happen.

    synonymouse Reply:

    Major civil works that no one else has is what protects best against “setbacks”.

    A high speed line via Tejon would be a standalone asset much less likely to be divested than a very lightly used line between San Jose and Fresno. The patronage potential Fresno and Bako to LA is much greater. This line could break even on top of filling the missing link.

    There is that much business between the high desert, Palmdale-Lancaster etc., and LA to justify those exorbitant tunnels? That is a lot of billions to blow on a commute op.

    Joe Reply:

    Tejon snake oil cures all ills.
    Altamont balm eliminates wrinkles and age spots.

    synonymouse Reply:

    Election day 2016 should be conclusive with opinions on issues more firmed up than is usual.

    But if comes down to Hillary vs. Jeb very low turnout, bad for Jerry’s tax hikes.

    Aarond Reply:

    Trump isn’t going away. I seriously think that he can make it all the way to the White House. What would stop him? He’s a famous TV actor and the debates are televised. The GOP know he’s (ideologically) a RINO but can somehow communicate with Tea Partiers (mostly by using muslims as a scapegoat). Their Establishment would pair him up with someone more predictable like Christie or Rubio.

    Though I’ll qualify my argument: Trump will either sink or swim in the first primary rounds. If he can stick it out to March he can go all the way.

    As for Congress, both houses will remain red. I seriously doubt the Democrats have enough support to make a comeback outside of CA, as nobody likes Obama or Hilary even amongst existing liberals. 2020 is more open to them than 2016.

    Anandakos Reply:

    With a Republican, House, Senate and Supreme Court there will BE no 2020 elections. The polls will be open but the Democratic Party will have been bankrupted by destroying their union allies and will be outspent by at least 10 to 1.

    Say “Hello” to Oligarchy.

    Zorro Reply:

    Funny, I didn’t know you had a time machine, see you in 2016 and then 2020.

    Paul Dyson Reply:

    Of course new trees have a better survival chance after prolonged rain with deep penetration of water into the soil. Perhaps the Sacramento Tree Foundation represents artificial Christmas tree manufacturers?

    Joe Reply:

    Right, especially for germination and establishment.

    Saplings can be planted with deep holes and watered. If done well and at the right time
    Of year they’ll survive if they don’t “cook” in the dry summer sun.

    Drought tolerant species like ponderosa pine will die at 104f. Saplings have to be sheltered from the sun.

    If you look at recruitment, they’ll naturally survive in the shade of a fallen tree or stump.

    Planting with an artificial or natural sun barrier.

    J. Wong Reply:

    Like they should plant trees before construction is completed and consequently in the way. Obviously not.

  5. Reality Check
    Dec 9th, 2015 at 22:24
    #5

    Hyperloop is landing the private investment that eludes HSR

    This Hyperloop might end up being a real thing. The latest news is that Hyperloop Technologies will actually be building an open-air test track in Nevada and will start testing its system in a month.

    […] the company is drawing in investors and getting to work. What they’ve announced this week is that they’ll be building an open track (not an enclosed tube) in Nevada that will operate at half the speed. The plan to have a working, fully enclosed, high-speed tube that extends for two miles operational by the end of 2016.

    […]

    The cost of the so-called Propulsion Open Air Test wasn’t disclosed. The company said it has raised $37 million from investors and expects to obtain $80 million more in bond financing.

    Jennifer Cooper, spokeswoman for the Governor’s Office of Economic Development, said no tax incentives were involved.

    Investors, not subsidies. Note that this is $37 million more in private funds committed to this project than California’s High-Speed Rail proposal has been able to snag.

    […]

    Miles Bader Reply:

    “A fool and his money…” ><

    synonymouse Reply:

    Would any private interest buy into BART at this point? Same with CAHSR.

    Let’s see if anybody buys into the NEC. They would be in war with the unions straightaway. Who wants the grief?

    Jerry Reply:

    But, but, Donald knows the art of the deal.

    Bahnfreund Reply:

    Tell that to Luca de Montezemolo (head of Ferrari) who just a few years ago went ahead and launched a private HSR operator in Italy…

    Clem Reply:

    HSR is looking for an ELEVEN-figure amount of private investment, and the southern mountain crossing could become one of the largest PPP projects in the world.

    What this article does is confuse small Hyperloop numbers (millions with an M) with big HSR numbers (billions with a B). They’re not just one letter apart!

    Michael Reply:

    I don’t even have eleven fingers.

    Zorro Reply:

    Then you couldn’t have written the Journals, that required 12 fingers.

    synonymouse Reply:

    To quote from a very old Dr. Who episode:

    “The Quest is the Quest!”

    Bahnfreund Reply:

    Hyperloop numbers are one thing above all others: made up.

    Danny Reply:

    ooh, Reason.com! the comments are a hoot–half describe it as already built, half seriously suggest capturing an asteroid, mining it, and using the profits to fund it

    they’re the sort who say we should produce *more* waste plutonium because that means more for the waste-using reactors they’re gonna build 10 years from now

  6. Reality Check
    Dec 9th, 2015 at 22:27
    #6

    Japan Nears Deal for India High-Speed Rail Contract
    Contract for Mumbai-to-Ahmedabad link could be valued at about $14.7 billion

  7. Elizabeth Alexis
    Dec 10th, 2015 at 08:45
    #7

    Here is an interesting profile piece on Patty Lopez – which suggests she is not easily profiled.

    http://www.laweekly.com/news/what-happens-when-a-random-citizen-becomes-a-california-legislator-5683157

    Is this “Mrs Smith goes to Sacramento” or wolf in sheeps clothing?

    Robert Cruickshank Reply:

    Who knows. Both that article and the one I cited by Arturo Carmona could both be true. I honestly don’t know much about her, I don’t think many in Sacramento do, even a year later. But my point is that Lopez as both a newcomer and as someone perceived by many in her community to have ties to the right-wing is in a weak political position, and her move on HSR should be read in that way.

    In short, the story is about Patty Lopez, not about HSR. Nobody should be surprised that Vartabedian completely missed that.

    Jerry Reply:

    “Just how the 46-year-old won office is still being debated: The incumbent she beat, Democrat Raul Bocanegra, didn’t campaign because he thought his re-election was a sure thing; Bocanegra’s Latino loyalists did not turn out in big numbers; the ballot placement led some to believe Bocanegra was a Republican.”
    An omen of something.

    Bahnfreund Reply:

    You mean a certain “inevitable” candidate currently running for public office might not get it?

  8. Danny
    Dec 10th, 2015 at 12:10
    #8

    unfortunately, usually when they pull the “infrastructure is genocide!!1111” card they money’s coming from upper-class communities that think that the Scots still count as “ethnics” (case in point, the BRU and Damien Goodmon)

  9. Reality Check
    Dec 10th, 2015 at 23:21
    #9

    MBTA driver error treats 50 riders to a 9-minute unplanned test of driverless operation:
    Driverless disaster averted on Red Line

    A runaway Red Line train with 50 passengers on board — and no motorman at the controls — narrowly escaped disaster in North Quincy yesterday morning when the power had to be cut on the third rail, but not before the trains ahead had to clear the area to avoid getting rear-ended.

    Reedman Reply:

    Coincidentally, in LA, a Metro train being tested had an accident:

    http://www.latimes.com/local/california/la-me-expo-line-test-train-crash-20151210-story.html

    EJ Reply:

    You don’t grade separate your light rail, you run it in the street, you’re gonna hit stuff. You’re relying on pedestrians and drivers to always obey the law, and that doesn’t happen.

    synonymouse Reply:

    What do you think can happen with crazy-ass BRT on Van Ness and Geary?

    EJ Reply:

    People will get hit. People get hit by buses. At least a bus can stop quicker than a light rail vehicle. I once saw a guy get creamed by a trolley in San Diego. I still can vividly picture his brains splattered on the street. He looked the wrong way, then his phone rang, he pulled it out, went to answer it as he stepped into the street, and WHAM. Who knows what happened, what compelled him to answer that call. Maybe he’d been up late the night before, wasn’t firing on all cylinders, but whatever the reason, his one mistake cost him the rest of his life. That’s why rapid transit should go underground or overhead.

    EJ Reply:

    And, seriously, that a city like San Francisco, with all its wealth, can’t build a proper modern subway system, is just absurd.

    synonymouse Reply:

    He’ll get run over by a bicycle, a taxi or uber car or a an electric homeless cart or just some ahole driving while entitled.

    Life is cheap in San Franhattan.

    EJ Reply:

    So I guess BRT is fine then. You’re such an asshole.

    synonymouse Reply:

    BRT sucks in SF. You need existing lanes for cars coming into SF via Van Ness. There is no capacity to give up. Van Ness is not that busy for transit – nothing like Geary – perhaps subway some day in the far off future. Geary? Little old ladies are going to get run over dashing out to catch a bus. Best to keep curb loading and go to trolley bus or multi-section lo-floor streetars in the curb lane.

    Anandakos Reply:

    Biggest thing that could happen on Geary is extend those Red Lanes west to Park Presidio by getting rid of curb-lane parking. And for Dios’ sake, give the buses some signal priority!

    Three or four times as many people are carried on buses along Geary than are in the cars alongside them. Equity says one lane each way all the way buses only and priority over all the cross-street signals except major transfer points — Fillmore, Divis, Masonic, and Park Presidio plus Gough and Franklin because they let Van Ness breathe.

    I’m also not convinced on the Van Ness BRT. There aren’t that many buses running so the comparison to the people moved doesn’t favor the buses to the same degree. Also, some noticeable utility will be lost from not heading off into Southeast San Francisco.

    synonymouse Reply:

    Lee does not want to do anything significant on Geary lest it upend the BART scheme.

    JimInPollockPines Reply:

    The street traffic in san francisco has become more unbearable than ever due to all the new housing plus the city’s popularity. But people who are buying all those those new million dollar condos are not going to take public transit. They can and do afford to keep their cars.

    JimInPollockPines Reply:

    I noticed expressways in chicago where local traffic on the freeway is physically seperated from through traffic on the same freeway. I wonder why caltrans doesn’t do that instead of dumping everyone together. It would be helpful to have dedicated express lanes through sf for traffic that is getting from the east bay to the peninsula

    Joe Reply:

    Those express lanes in the Kennedy Expressway are reversible just like the lanes on the Golden Gate. In the AM they carry traffic to Chicagon and the in the evening about. The Dan Ryan also has reversible express lanes.

    JimInPollockPines Reply:

    yes that was the one i saw – kennedy – saw it from the blue line then used on an uber trip.

    Joey Reply:

    They’ll use transit if it’s reasonably comfortable and cuts travel time significantly. Which, given the gridlock that currently exists, shouldn’t be terribly difficult.

    JimInPollockPines Reply:

    But it isn’t reasonably comfortable.
    Transit and HSR will both work because of sheer numbers of people in the state or metro area. But people who can and will keep their cars are only going to use the acela type of service for regional committing. People within the city, who can afford those million dollar condos they are building are not going to give up their cars. They don’t want to mingle with riff raft.Thats why they are trying to get rid of all the common people and run them out.
    HSR will work in california, not because people want to give up their cars, but because the the population is growing and there will be enough people willing to use it, in spite of the majority not wanting to use it…. enough to make it succeed. Thats why its still necessary to upgrade ALL modes of transport in the state.

    Joey Reply:

    CalTrain’s booming ridership in both directions suggests that at least some of the newcomers are using transit. But $1 million hasn’t been expensive by San Francisco standards for quite a while. Move up to $2-3m and maybe you have a point.

    Joe Reply:

    Jim

    The VTA express bus system tries to attract the professional worker. It costs more and requires a special monthly pass.
    It offers a far better ride than the VTA and carries a better clientele.

    Free Wi-Fi available on many Express Buses

    Our newest hybrid Express Buses offer free Wi-Fi, plus reading lights, footrests and reclining seats

  10. Reality Check
    Dec 11th, 2015 at 01:46
    #10

    Plans to assemble Fresno County land for HSR maintenance facility hit a snag

    A financial plan for assembling property as a potential site for the California high-speed rail project’s heavy maintenance facility will need a reboot after a developer’s proposal changed during talks with county agencies.

    The Fresno County Transportation Authority took no action Wednesday on the plan by developer Tim Jones, but left the door open for him to return with a proposal to assemble the 17 properties and 700 acres for the project.

    The heavy maintenance facility would bring about 1,500 jobs to the Valley.

    […]

    Kern County’s proposed location near Shafter may be more attractive because it has one owner and is ready to go.

    […]

    JimInPollockPines Reply:

    Is merced still trying for it?

  11. Aarond
    Dec 11th, 2015 at 04:59
    #11

    Cover story for this month’s Atlantic issue, in case you haven’t seen it yet:

    http://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2015/12/the-silicon-valley-suicides/413140/

    Caltrain is obviously mentioned, though it’s not the focus.

  12. Reedman
    Dec 11th, 2015 at 10:58
    #12

    The Transbay Terminal hit another hiccup today. The developer intended for Parcel F (Crescent Heights) pulled out from paying $165 million for the site, supposedly because of the 35% affordable housing requirement. Crescent Heights missed paying the $10 million down payment due on Nov 27. The Transbay Joint Powers Authority (TJPA) needs this money, along with an estimated $80 million for the unsold naming rights, to finish Phase 1 and cover $360 million in cost overruns which have occurred.

    The SF Chron article about this is behind its paywall, so it can be a bit difficult to access.

    http://www.sfchronicle.com/bayarea/article/Developer-pulls-out-of-165-million-Transbay-deal-6690319.php

    Roland Reply:

    This link does not have a paywall: http://www.bizjournals.com/sanfrancisco/blog/real-estate/2015/12/transbay-developer-kills-parcel-f-deal-land-salesf.html.

    This minor contretemps will be a rounding error compared to this 6-months-in-the-making $1B disaster: http://sanfrancisco.granicus.com/MediaPlayer.php?view_id=29&clip_id=24288 (click on #8)

    Q: How long is it going to take to get these people fired?
    A: Click on #4 (Board of Director’s New and Old Business)

  13. Eric M
    Dec 12th, 2015 at 09:18
    #13

    Amtrak makes big plans for Northeast Corridor

    The Northeast Corridor made a $447 million profit over the 11-month period ending in August, while Amtrak’s 15 long-distance routes lost $480 million and 30 state-supported routes lost $66 million.

    In addition, a transportation bill signed into law last week authorizes $8 billion in federal funding for Amtrak over the next five years.

    Bahnfreund Reply:

    If the idiotic FRA regulations did not require them to run a tank on rails, they could have bought an off the shelf tilting train with higher capacity and lower costs… The amount of money that could be gotten out of the NEC is insane… They charge more than double what HSR does in Europe at slower speeds yet they still sell out their trains…

    Eric M Reply:

    Agreed

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    There weren’t any off the shelf trains that fit the platforms along the NEC.

    Domayv Reply:

    the closest to that would have been the ICE-T, or even just the ICE trains in general (Amtrak ran one during the 1990s without issue concerning platform height), and the X2000 (also a train that Amtrak ran, also without platform issue).

    Clem Reply:

    I love the direct counter-examples. If it could be done in 1993 it can probably still be done today.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    How ADA compliant were they?

    Eric Reply:

    The ADA only calls for “reasonable” accomodations. Germany is a civilized country these days, whatever is reasonable for them is reasonable for us.

    Bahnfreund Reply:

    Well this train for once (top speed 100mph, counts as “slow” in Germany) has a board that comes out to allow easy acces. I think they can do the same for the ICE, especially given that they do in fact have special spaces designated to wheelchairs inside them and Germany is a signatory to a UN convention based on the ADA…

    Bahnfreund Reply:

    forgot the link: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bombardier_Talent_2

    Domayv Reply:

    exactly, and thanks, Clem. The reason why Amtrak went with what amounted to a “tank on wheels” is because FRA is like “we’re ‘murica, we need to make our trains so heavy because of our warped view of safety that in the end, they’re expensive and hard to maintain, but we’ll go with it anyway because it’s ‘murican”. Honestly has the FRA not even heard of the idea of collision avoidance (though they’re starting to slowly accept it via the mandate that all railroads need to have positive train control but ERTMS would be much better).

    the most modifications an off-the-shelf train would need when it’s coming to America is modifying the width and platform height. and possibly some crash-energy management. Nothing else.

    Bahnfreund Reply:

    Aren’t the Chinese using the same train control as the European Union?

    Domayv Reply:

    china uses what’s called the CTCS, which comes from the Japanese Hitachi. it is similar to ECTS (which is part of ERTMS (the other part is GMS-R), which is actually an EU-backed initiative to enhance cross-border interoperability and the procurement ofsignalling equipment by creating a single Europe-wide standard for train control and command systems. They have, however, expanded into India, South Korea, Taiwan, Saudi Arabia, UAE, Morocco, Algeria, Turkey, Kazakhstan, Indonesia, Brazil, Mexico, Australia and New Zealand) but it is not derived from it.

    Japan uses ATACS, which is probably going to be the signalling system for Texas Central Railway

    Bahnfreund Reply:

    Thanks for the background on that. So we might be getting HSR that is as incompatible as if the US were several different countries? I don’t mean through running trains (though that could one day happen), I mean more about things like selling used trains to another line or lending trains for local high travel periods (e.g. Super Bowl in LA with the 49ers playing)

    Miles Bader Reply:

    Wait, why? There’s nothing unusual about the NEC platforms AFAIK…

    Joey Reply:

    The term “off the shelf” usually does not include things like width and floor height which are easy to change a bit. Shopping for trains is not like shopping for a blender – regardless of the exact specifications they are always built to order, and manufacturers design their rolling stock platforms with the understanding that some details will vary from order to order. Things only start to get more expensive when you have to completely redesign major systems like the structural support or traction.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    How much redesign does it take to add 6 or 7 meters to the length, a half a meter to the floor height and a third of meter to the width?

    Eric Reply:

    Why would you need to add to the length?

    Joey Reply:

    I don’t know. Maybe you should ask Stadler how they consider this and this to be the same platform given that there’s a full 0.6m of width difference, one serves high level platforms, and they operate on different track gauges.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    If it’s so easy to change umpteen different things why haven’t they for the North American market?
    Why do other manufacturers do?
    Why does General Motors call this

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/GM_Epsilon_platform#Super_Epsilon

    An Impala when you buy it at a Chevy dealer, a Lacrosse when you buy it at a Buick dealer and BLs when you buy it at a Caddilac dealer? Why do they call the trucks Chevy trucks when you buy them at Chevy dealers and GMC when you buy them at other GM dealers?

    Joey Reply:

    If it’s so easy to change umpteen different things why haven’t they for the North American market?

    Despite unnecessarily stringent, micromanaged requirements, they have [1 2 3 4 5]. And as the FRA requirements ease, I wouldn’t be surprised to see more.

    Clem Reply:

    Only one person goes around believing that standard-length European vehicles (26.4 m) need another 6 to 7 meters of length to become 85 feet long. Joey is spot on.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    There are trains in Europe that aren’t ICE trains. They are too narrow.

    Gag Halfrunt Reply:

    Alon Levy reckons that the new Acelas will be Pendolinos, which already exist in a version with more or less the right dimensions for the Northeast Corridor.

    Bahnfreund Reply:

    The beautiful irony about the Pendolino is that it is still in part based on British patents that were sold for scrap after the Advanced Passenger Train failed. It shows how media and politics can in fact kill innovation…

    JimInPollockPines Reply:

    so when the new acela trains arrive, can the old ones be put into serivce on some other route?

    Paul Dyson Reply:

    Who on earth would want to put those overweight track destroying pieces of crap on any other service?

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    The only other place they can go is Harrisburg. Express, skipping Philadelphia, as a proof of demand, they might be useful. For a year or two. When it turns out to be popular, replace by exercising options for more Acela IIs.

    JimInPollockPines Reply:

    well having extra “used” trainsets laying around is better than having no extra transits, when you have a capacity shortage to begin with. Find a place to use them.

    Joey Reply:

    Well, you have to do a calculation: “how long do these obsolete, maintenance-intensive lugs have to be in service before it would actually save money to buy new ones instead?”

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    They can’t go down to Trains-R-Us and pick out some new trains from the lot. Use them to confirm demand exists makes it much easier to make the case to order new trains. Which won’t be delivered for years.

    Paul Dyson Reply:

    Siemens could continue building the cars they are supplying to AAF
    THey can deliver in a couple of years.

    swing hanger Reply:

    Something like that. They can make a Railjet USA version.

    Joey Reply:

    In the more civilized parts of the world, they do a study to determine if demand exists.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    At the moment Amtrak doesn’t need to do studies to see if demand exists because they don’t have the equipment to meet any that may or may not exist.

    Joey Reply:

    In these far flung reaches of the globe I speak of, they do the study before they order rolling stock.

    joe Reply:

    Well, it if were done in CA our self-appointed watchdogs/experts would complain the powers-that-be just wasted money with yet another study.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    They did the study that documented how many times a year Acela sells out. They then did the study to see if adding cars would alleviate that. They decided it would, asked vendors to bid on it and only got one response. Which was outrageously high. They then studied if ordering new trains would be cheaper than adding cars. It is. Sorry you weren’t paying attention.

    Joey Reply:

    joe: that’s not me. If anything I will argue for overstudying if it actually leads to cost savings during construction (which is usually the majority of cost)

    adirondacker: Great. I don’t see how that suggests that you need Acelas on the Keystone corridor to see if there’s ridership demand.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    Why spend millions of dollars to study it when there will extra trains lolling around for a few years?

    Joey Reply:

    Because (1) I doubt it costs millions to study it (2) It can be studied now, and non-obsolete rolling stock for that corridor can be delivered concurrently or soon after the Acela replacements.

    If the Acelas are deemed to have some useful life left then maybe, but everything I’ve heard points to them being a maintenance nightmare that need to be put out of service as soon as possible.

    keith saggers Reply:

    •The FAST Act authorizes $305 billion of funding for surface transportation programs over the next five-years amounting to $61 billion per year. The $305 billion of total funding is composed of $230 billion for highways, $60 billion for public transportation, $10 billion for passenger rail and $5 billion for highway safety programs.
    •The FAST Act increases public transit funding from the current level of $10.7 billion to $11.8 billion in FY 2016, representing a 10 percent increase in the first year. Over the five-year time period, funding for public transit steadily rises to $12.6 billion in 2020 representing a 17.8 percent increase. California will receive $1.3 billion of this total amount in FY 2016 and $1.4 billion in FY 2020.
    •The Bus and Bus Facilities Program which funds new and replacement buses as well as bus-related equipment and facilities and the Urbanized Area Formula Grants used for transit capital, operating assistance and transportation-related planning both received moderate increases, amounting to a nine percent increase and a 10.5 percent increase, respectively, over the five-year period. Additionally, the FAST Act creates a new $268 million bus and bus facilities competitive grant program which includes a set-aside for low and no-emission buses.
    •The FAST Act will fund walking, bicycling and Safe Routes to School projects through the “Surface Transportation Block Grant Program set-aside” for a flat amount of $835 million in 2016 and 2017 and $850 million in the following years – this means more money is available for Vision Zero projects.
    •The FAST Act extends funding eligibility for the Highway Safety Improvement Program (HSIP) to roadway improvements that provide separation between pedestrians and car including medians and pedestrian crossing islands while eliminating eligibility for behavior, education or enforcement activities to enhance road safety.

    keith saggers Reply:

    SFMTA

    Aarond Reply:

    More 38 line BRT?

  14. Lewellan
    Dec 12th, 2015 at 10:23
    #14

    http://www.oregonlive.com/geek/2015/12/mind-blowing_gif_lets_you_chan.html#incart_river_home

    CHANGE THE DIRECTION – of the train – WITH YOUR MIND!

    I still believe the integrity of my advocacy for passenger-rail is intact by high-lining Talgo.

  15. Lewellan
    Dec 12th, 2015 at 10:27
    #15
  16. JimInPollockPines
    Dec 12th, 2015 at 10:51
    #16

    ..Meanwhile
    Flying still sucks. 3 hours to to SFO. a small fortune to park a mile away. Broken seat on the plan. Returning, TSA at ohare is a clusterfuck. ( I must say SFO does do an outstanding job with TSA every time- I’ve never spend more than 15 minutes getting through) and hour and a half in TSA line at ORD,
    unprofessional on board service, broken TV. I expected better from Virgin. No more.

    Jerry Reply:

    Maybe SouthWest from Midway would have been better.

    JimInPollockPines Reply:

    I would use southwest but can’t stand that ridiculous boarding process.

    Danny Reply:

    if you mention the broken seat they throw flyer miles at you to shut you up; worked for me when I almost got my foot stuck in the girders

    longer-term, the airlines absolutely hate anything under 500 miles (which is HSR’s maximum profitable range)

    Bahnfreund Reply:

    I think that is ultimately gonna be the big game changer. Back in the 1980s Southwest and the likes thought they could make a profit off of short haul flights (and they did) today they run them as loss-leaders for their more profitable medium and long haul business. Evidence from Europe (where even American carriers codeshare with HSR) suggests that the airlines are at the very least indifferent if not supportive towards HSR on routes where they can’t make a profit…

    Danny Reply:

    plus of course it can collect from stops not in any major cities–Modesto-Fresno-SFO is just over an hour and a half

    as for Austin, it’s 1:04 from DFW airport, and I’d SO rather take the train when going to point and laugh at the hipsters with half a beard

    Aarond Reply:

    What’s going to end up happening is mass consolidation. I mean, how many airlines do you need to serve an entire country? As I see it, it’s all coming down to UAL and AA. It happened with Greyhound and Amtrak. And when this happens, you inherently get a focus on long-haul flights between major cities 500+ miles apart.

    Ted Judah Reply:

    The US Department of Justice standard for anti-trust action is usually three firms, not two. In Europe, it’s four.

    If I had to guess, the US air market will condense to around 4 major firms, American, United, Delta, and “somebody else”. Both Alaska and Southwest dominate the market this “somebody else” airline would need to fly.

    The interesting thing is that HSR could also align around these four major airline’s hubs. (Sort of like how there’s JR East and JR West…)

    Bahnfreund Reply:

    BTW I recently read (If I find a link it will be in German) that domestic flights in Germany have gone down in the last year… Mostly due to a new departure tax and more and better HSR service… But than again, you’de be hard pressed to go much farther than 500 miles in Germany and still have origin and destination points that align with airports…

    Ted Judah Reply:

    The European air market is consolidating for a different reason…the expansion of free trade in the Eurozone means that the same tactics that European airlines used against the US now are being turned around on them by Middle Eastern carriers like Emirates.

    Your point about 500 miles is well taken, which is why I suggested the JR East/ JR West model.

    synonymouse Reply:

    But 500 miles in California is competitive by autos on freeways. And you have your own car on both ends.

    No room for commute detours.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    no it’s not

    Danny Reply:

    well, 125-mph electric cars with guideways (replacing a diamond lane–but with no breaks in the guideway?) to take the curves, and probably physically linked together

    so, no

    Joe Reply:

    Synonymous doesn’t drive. He’s admitted to not driving for years. 500 miles is competitive to a non-drivers. Someone else is driving.

    synonymouse Reply:

    True, but the people I know drive from the Northbay to Anaheim via I-5 and it is no big deal to them.

    swing hanger Reply:

    It may not be a big deal for someone who sets aside the time to do it on a pleasant Saturday after a good nights rest, but what about people who must work the whole day, and then make the drive after getting off work “early”, say 5pm? It’s not a welcome proposition, to say the least.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    500 miles is competitive to a non-drivers.

    No it’s not. I’ve been on the bus instead of Amtrak, because I had to travel on short notice. It would have been worth it to pay the short notice fare on Amtrak.

    Northbay to Anaheim via I-5 and it is no big deal to them.

    They are either lying or are masochists.

    Car(e)-Free LA Reply:

    Good…another non-driver. Who for some inexplicable reason opposes CAHSR because of baseless conspiracy theories, despite the fact that it would make getting around the state without a car much easier. I for one can’t wait for the day that I’m in SF or LA, and can say “I’m going to go do some hiking in Yosemite, but I’ll be back in time for dinner.” (They better have good Merced HSR-Yosemite transit).

    datacruncher Reply:

    Another week, another I-5 closure tonight
    http://ktla.com/2015/12/13/mudslide-closes-northbound-5-freeway-in-castaic-canyons-area/

    swing hanger Reply:

    One of the things I appreciate about the country where I live is I can decide on the spur of the moment to take a trip of say 500km to the “other” big metro area, and just go to the nearest HSR station, buy a ticket in two minutes from a TVM (at a price that doesn’t skyrocket within the last 10 days before departure), and be on my way within 10 minutes of buying said ticket, coffee in hand reclining in a standard class seat with (airline) first class level seat pitch. Truly civilised…

    Miles Bader Reply:

    @swing hangar
    +100000

    … and the public transit network is so good that you can get to the nearest HSR station in a timely and convenient manner…

    Ted Judah Reply:

    And Americans appreciate being able to hop in their car and drive for fifteen minutes to a mall or grocery store.

    American HSR has to reconcile both these priorities, which is why now the “German model is in vogue among the literati these days. But rest assured, it will be different, just as our mass transit is different…

    Anandakos Reply:

    There are 500 mile freeway drives which aren’t completely exhausting. Kingman to Albuquerque would be a good example. But the Bay Area to Anaheim is a white-nuckle soul sucker. Every three minutes some insaniac will blow by you at 90, swerving around cars in all three lanes. Big Rigs will tailgate you unmercifully even if you’re going the speed limit in the rightmost lane. It’s the Wild West in way too many ways.

    Basically, if you had to do this once a month, your chance of being in some sort of wreck within ten years’ time in non-trivial. That’s worth a lot of money to me.

    Ted Judah Reply:

    This is the thing:

    If you widened the intercity freeways to four lanes, which would address the fact that two lanes along the 5, 80, etc, you are talking about enough money to where HSR doesn’t look so bad. Or take John Natchigall’s solution of expanding airports (which means also boosting transit around them.)

    The only way HSR looks like a boondoogle is if you assume there will be no other capacity enhancements needed.

    Bahnfreund Reply:

    Almost all countries that built HSR (including the British HS2) started out from a point of “Our X are congested beyond measure and we will have a dramatic increase of traffic in a few year’s time”. In West Germany it was the main North-South Axis that was just not built for this amount of traffic (before 1945 most travel in Germany was east-west, after 1949 the main direction became north-south) and it was cobbled together from several unrelated lines making unnecessary detours. In France it was the Motorways (especially on the beginning of the French Summer holidays). In Britain right now it is the West Coast and East Coast Mainline. And in all cases studies reached the conclusion that a largely greenfield alignment would be either cheaper or not notably more expensive than quadruple tracking existing lines or widening highways. The same of course holds true for California, with one key difference: California’s population is growing at a lot higher rates than Britain’s France’s or Germany’s were at the time the decision was taken. If HSR is not built now, Californians of the future will pay a high price in congestion and/or cost of freeway and airport expansion…

    Aarond Reply:

    True. I’m reminded of that “America 2050 megaregions” thing here.

    JimInPollockPines Reply:

    yes I sent a detailed letter this morning. we’ll see.

  17. synonymouse
    Dec 12th, 2015 at 19:22
    #17

    A little Xmas foaming cheer:

    http://www.altamontpress.com/discussion/read.php?1,126556,126556#msg-126556

    See, there is hope for BART “modernization”. The Rio Grande converted the 491 from standard gauge to 3 foot gauge in 1930. C’mon BART, narrowing the gauge can be done

    Bdawe Reply:

    You can just bore some extra holes in all the railroad ties on a low traffic wooden-tie railroad without disrupting anything and then hire a bunch of seasonally unemployed workers to move it over in a weekend.

    It’s simply not the same thing with a rapid transit system. For one, concrete doesn’t take new holes well.

    synonymouse Reply:

    Of course, but with BART, hubris and defending the Bechtelian Legacy has bred paralysis, an inability to not just evolve, but taking change off the table completely.

    Viz., the nutty cylindrical wheelset profile. You’d think it was part of a BARTtech holy trinity.

    Ted Judah Reply:

    But what is the benefit to abandoning broad gauge?

    It’s not as if the alternative…Metrolink in Los Angeles or the Portland light rail is more desirable. The straw man argument is cost, but that’s a phony argument because of how healthy BART’s farebox recovery is.

    synonymouse Reply:

    Notice there are 2 builders plates on the 491; I’ll bet one is from the Burnham shops rebuild.

  18. keith saggers
    Dec 14th, 2015 at 16:29
    #18

    http://www.railwaygazette.com/news/single-view/view/india-and-japan-sign-high-speed-rail-memorandum.html

    keith saggers Reply:

    India’s Ministry of Railways said it had been agreed that Shinkansen technology would be adopted, with technology transfer to support the government’s Make in India policy

  19. Reality Check
    Dec 14th, 2015 at 23:18
    #19

    How to Lose Money on Rail Passenger Service?: Leave Your Trains Sitting Idle.

    Leo Express is a private, for profit rail passenger service based in the Czech Republic, which in Europe is able to lease time to use existing railroads so it doesn’t own trackage. “We operate our trains for 16 hours per day and average 500,000 km (310,000 miles) per train per year. We have zero reserve of trains, but we only cancel one service in 6,000 on average,” said the President of Leo Express Leos Novotny. This means Leo Express trains average almost 850 miles a day, 365 days a year. That would be about 70 miles per hour average speed, in the course of running 12 hours a day.

    […]

    Where else has this worked? Going back to the beginning of Southwest Airlines in the early 1970’s, it was a local Texas airline serving major Texas cities with low fares. It was also losing money […] Southwest [sold] one of its 4 planes which gave it needed cash and turned around the planes between flights in 10 minutes and the airline started to make money.

    It’s no secret that revenues go up with improved productivity and costs go down per passenger carried. In any transportation service, the planes, trains, buses or boats used are major capital expenses. The more time they are in revenue service, the more passengers they carry and the more productive the service, the greater the chance of making money.

    So is rail passenger service run with maximum productivity in this country?: of course not. […] Today they are all government funded services, often with limited service areas. As with most bureaucracies, they are often parochial and focused on their own issues while ignoring the needs and opportunities of serving the larger region. A good example of this is around the New York City Metropolitan Area with Metro-North, the Long Island Railroad and New Jersey Transit all operating independent services focused largely for travel to Manhattan. […]

    […]

    […] things are not much better in California. BART and Caltrain are largely independent entities. There has been much written about the San Francisco Bay Area’s fragmented and disjointed public transportation services which are spread out among many small counties. But things are not much better in Southern California.

    […]

  20. Anandakos
    Dec 14th, 2015 at 23:20
    #20

    Well, Japan doesn’t have to worry about “technology transfer”, but caveat emptor for the passengers……

    The Indians really can’t make anything very well. Everybody’s got a different opinion on how every little thing should be done; they have to be the most exhaustingly argumentative people in the whole world, bar the Brooklyn-born.

    Miles Bader Reply:

    That might be a good reason to have Japan do it… The Japanese will be super picky and exact about everything, and use extremely well-tested and proven technology. They’re not going to just roll over and let their project be screwed up.

    swing hanger Reply:

    Indeed. It’s the real first true overseas high speed rail project *from the start* for Japan. I don’t consider the Taiwan HSR project a truly shinkansen-based system, as the planning and line construction was done to European specs (down to bi-directional running, which is not done regularly in Japan). Really the only Japanese aspect is the rolling stock which is the JR Tokai 700 series with a short nose as the tunnels are euro-spec, which was chosen over a ICE loco/TGV Duplex hybrid. All the talk in the media about it being a “flop”, insinuating a causation with shinkansen technology is patently false.

  21. Elizabeth Alexis
    Dec 15th, 2015 at 08:31
    #21

    OT Tutor Perini’s finances still on downward trajectory http://calhsr.com/tutor-perini-still-on-shaky-financial-ground/

    Also – concerns about Tutor’s work on the Central Subway project in San Francisco
    http://centralsubwaysf.com/sites/default/files/pdfs/PMOC/1510_PMOC.pdf

    Eric M Reply:

    So what are you insinuating?

    Joe Reply:

    FUD

    synonymouse Reply:

    “It was noted that BART Senior Management did not attend and instead deferred decisions to lower
    level staff.”

    Nice bitchy touch. So we can expect to turn a wheel around 2020?

Comments are closed.