With One Year Left, Republicans Continue Blocking Obama’s HSR Plans

Dec 21st, 2015 | Posted by

President Barack Obama is nearing the end of his tenure in office, with just over a year left to go before a new president is inaugurated on January 20, 2017. There’s no doubt that he, and many of us, hoped high speed rail would be further along and in more states than it is right now.

The Hill calls his plans stuck in the station (heh, get it?) and sadly, that’s an accurate description. But their article fails to explain why that’s the case – that Republicans are ideologically opposed to HSR, despite its many merits. Instead, they let Republicans spout off as if they’re disinterested and neutral observers, letting them make false and misleading claims:

A little over a year later, Florida Gov. Rick Scott (R) rejected $2.4 billion in federal dollars for the project, citing concerns about the cost of operating the trains once the federal money for construction ran out.

Republicans in Congress have expressed similar concerns about the California high-speed rail project, which has received more than $3 billion in federal dollars.

“Not only do they lack a business plan, but they continue to waste taxpayer dollars without being held accountable,” Rep. Jeff Denham (R-Calif.) said about the California high-speed rail proposal in an interview with The Hill.

“They’re decades out [from offering passenger service],” continued Denham, who has repeatedly offered legislation to deny additional federal funding for the California project.

Denham said the private sector’s interest shows the future for rail is not with the federal government — and likely not for passengers in California.

“It shows there is a future for high-speed rail in the U.S.,” he said. “It needs to be in areas where there is proven ridership numbers and proven routes and speeds. California has no proven ridership numbers, and they continue to blow through deadlines.”

Rick Scott only killed HSR in order to please his right-wing allies, and the article should have noted that every HSR system in the world generates a profit and does not require operating subsidies.

The Hill’s willingness to just let Jeff Denham say whatever he wants without checking his facts is disappointing if not surprising. California HSR has proven ridership numbers, validated by every peer review conducted to date. It serves the right route with the right speeds, comparing favorably to HSR routes in Europe.

Denham’s repeated efforts to defund and destroy California HSR are responsible for many of the project delays, and if the federal government had come through with its share of HSR funding as was intended under Obama’s 2009 plan, the private sector would likely already be opening their checkbooks – though it is worth keeping in mind that so far, no HSR system anywhere in the world has been solely privately funded.

President Obama’s HSR plans stalled not because it was a bad idea, but because Republicans did very well in the 2010 elections. By taking control of the U.S. House of Representatives and of several state governments – including Wisconsin, Florida, and Ohio, which rejected HSR stimulus money – Republicans were able to please their oil company allies and stop Obama’s HSR efforts. It’s unlikely that federal funding for HSR will materialize until Democrats retake Congress.

While one can and should fault Obama and Congressional Democrats for not having provided long-term HSR funding in 2009 or 2010, Republicans would surely have gutted it anyway.

HSR’s fate is part of the larger national political story, of an extremist Republican Party that is ideologically opposed to government funding of passenger rail.

  1. Jerry
    Dec 21st, 2015 at 23:26
    #1

    “You still see a strong appetite and strong activity for high-speed rail in this country,” Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx told The Hill on Friday, citing the projects in the Florida, Texas and California. “Inch-by-inch, the country moves closer to seeing high-speed service happen.”
    No wonder it takes so long. They measure success in inches.
    And this has been happening since Pres. Johnson’s Transportation Act in 1965 with the start of the Metroliner service from NY to DC.

    Zorro Reply:

    Success for HSR would be measured in miles, if it weren’t for outright Repugnican Obstruction since 2009.

    John Nachtigall Reply:

    Democrats had super majorities in both houses and the presidency. They pushed through a health care act without a single republican votes, they could have done the same with HSR if they has chosen. They did not. The GOP has never hidden their opposition to passenger rail, why complain about it now. It was a fixed quantity, it should have been factored in. The could have provided 15 billon in funding (which at that time was 1/3) with no worries because with the presidency any push to defund would have been vetoed.

    And, knowing the GOP is opposed to supporting passenger rail, the CAHSR supporters passes a law that assumed, without any guarantee or even promise, that the Feds would provide 1/3 of the money.

    The real thing that is holding back rail in this country is the same thing holding back many improvement projects. The lack of a realistic plan, including funding, and execution.

    The American people might be willing to spend 200 billion to upgrade the East Coast to modern HSR if they didn’t think it would balloon to 1 trillion and take 50 years to build. With examples like the bay bridge, ARTIC, the transbay center, and the big dig it’s no wonder they don’t trust big infrastructure projects when proposed by either party. It’s not politics, it’s that they have been lied to so often they don’t trust anyone.

    CAHSR is just the latest example. The law was flawed from the start. The cost estimates were purposely held low to help sell it, knowing that down the road they would balloon. No source of continued funding was indentified which was completely unrealistic. Assumptions on federal and private dollars were made with little to no proof they were realistic. The timeline given was a fantasy. Operating times and guarantees on not building until all the money was available were built in. Then the same failed leader were put in charge to execute. Are you really surprised it struggles?

    Here is a thought. Stop lying to people and tell them the truth. The real cost, the real funding, the need for flexibility in construction and actually put competent people in charge. If you can’t get them to vote yes on a realistic plan then accept democracy and move on, not try to slip it in the back door.

    Aarond Reply:

    CAHSR was hardly flawed. The only issue is that, unlike rail systems in other states, a huge cost dump will be in building new mountain passes in order to build an effective system. In other states, like MI, or FL, the costs are lower because the track is already there.

    60 years ago, California had the FEDERAL government build it’s FREEways. US-101, I-5, I-80 were mostly federally funded. Now these freeways are hitting the end of their projected lifespans and require extensive refurbishing. Given these costs, Californians are choosing transit over car-exclusive projects. HSR is a part of this, obviously.

    I do agree with what you’re saying though. People ought not to be lied to. And as the real costs of the FREEway system become apparent, people will opt for more rail investment even if it has the typical management issues municipal projects do. Because ultimately, a $100 billion HSR system will pay for at least half it’s operating costs as the existing Amtrak CA does. The current FREEway network barely gets 10% of it’s costs through bridge tolls. Long term, people see the benefits.

    synonymouse Reply:

    Pretty much anybody with a pulse(and no papers)can use the freeways. No Amalgamated-BLE-UTU-TWU chauffeurs required at $200k/yr, 13 undocumented no-shows, 8 weeks of annual to start..

    CAHSR thoroughly flawed – stupidly deviated to Palmdale at the extra cost of many billions.

    Now the Repubs want to break open the national forests to being sold off. I’ll wager the Tejon Ranch Co. and Palmdale real estate exploiters love that. The Antonovich quasi-base tunnels serve to soften up the area to sprawl.

    Jerry Brown the biggest eco-phony and poseur on the planet.

    Aarond Reply:

    Still better results than shoveling Amtrak California money and having them play with the Coastal Commission. I’m not even mentioning the green angle, I don’t care about the delta smelt. It’s purely a matter of costs. As DC pulls their funding, individual states have to offset it.

    Ted Judah Reply:

    The official position of the State of California is (not just in regard to passenger rail):

    Any reduction of federal funding must be offset at the local level.
    Any reduction of spending at the local level can be offset by the State.
    Any change to this dynamic cannot reduce the amount of federal funds available to California.
    Any change can also not mandate an additional offset by the State….

    Joe Reply:

    Syno! You can’t drive. Haven’t driven for years. No pulse ? !

    Not everyone can drive. It’s a privilege, not a right.

    synonymouse Reply:

    Please inform the yuppies who blow red lights and stop signs of this.

    PBCAHSR is strictly a development scheme; nothing green about it except the color of money.

    Ted Judah Reply:

    California itself is the greatest development scheme ever conceived by man.

    PB or CAHSR are merely lending a hand.

    Danny Reply:

    plus even the Shinkansen was lowballed by 50% to get it built

    Bahnfreund Reply:

    And the World Bank only offered them a loan on the condition of them planning for a lower speed than intended… I can hear what Repubs would say if such a thing were to be built right now…

    John Nachtigall Reply:

    You forgot several things

    1. They are interstate freeways…so there is a reason the federal government would be involved. CAHSR does not leave the state and the state argued (unsucessufuly and luckily for them ) they were not subject to federal regulation.
    2. A long term funding mechanism was instituted, a gas tax. Which as I said is needed.

    That system was built to solve a need. HSR is trying to fit into a nitche of trips to long for car but to short for airplanes. In the end, in the US that nitche is to small because the interstates make car trips easy and plane travel is cheap.

    I don’t know why you bring up other states because no one else has HSR besides Acela. MI and TX and FL are just press releases at this point and FL if instituted is not even HSR just a fairly fast regular passenger train on an existing track.

    HSR requires a huge up front capital investment. To be truly useful and grow, it requires an extensive network. To “beat” cars it requires public transportation for getting to the station and the last miles to your destination. Given that cars already have a network, I can drive directly to and from my spdestination, and I don’t have to rely on any schedule but my own, they will not be overtaken by rail. Which is why that huge capital investment, won’t happen.

    America choose cars and to replace that system now just costs to much and is inefficient. 50 years from now it will be a derivative of the interstate highway system we travel on.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    airports are notorious for having bad public transportation yet they seem to be thriving.

    Robert S. Allen Reply:

    adirondacker: Most commercial airports make money with parking and have rental car agencies.

    hank Reply:

    It’s pretty well documented that automobile parking is a major revenue stream, to the point entire business models for many airports is partially dependent on the income of automobile parking and in direct conflict with increased none automobile transportation. LAX/LA World Airports being an excellent case study of this situation.

    Joe Reply:

    http://www.usnews.com/news/articles/2015/10/20/highway-bill-coming-but-papers-over-broken-fuel-tax-model

    Broken and not going to be fixed. Imagine a different world where roads are fully funded by a gas tax is no less a fantasy than the one you mock which relies on public train and mass transit.

    John Nachtigall Reply:

    The gas tax may be inadequate funding, but it is funding. CAHSR was passed with no funding.

    The gas tax has failed to keep up, but it is there. How are you going to build a full HSR system with no funding source. You are not, which is why Brown got them 25% of carbon. Unfortunately no one actually knows what that is worth so selling bonds against it is not possible at the moment.

    Bottom line, highways got built. HSR has a dream for the mid 2020s in CA as basically a proof of concept.

    john burrows Reply:

    Cap and trade auctions for the year 2015 have contributed $2.558 billion to the GGRF—High speed rail’s 25% is $639.5 million, considerably more than the $500 million figure which the Authority has been using. Over a period of six years this would add around $3.8 billion to the $10 plus billion that is available for construction on the initial segment in the San Joaquin Valley.

    We don’t know what C&T will contribute to HSR after 2020 when AB 32 expires in its current form, but another year or two of auctions and an extension of cap-and-trade legislation out to 2030 should give a much better idea of how much can be borrowed.

    john burrows Reply:

    A slight correction– Cap-and-trade is a program adopted by the California Air Resources Board to help achieve the goals of AB 32, and an extension of C&T would be made by the CARB and not by the Legislature.

    Zorro Reply:

    @ John Burrows, AB32 would have to be extended by the State Legislature, I think without AB32, C&T might not be available beyond the expiration of AB32, which enables CARB to do C&T.

    Zorro Reply:

    HSR does not have to leave the state, you forgot UPRR has trackage rights and UP being freight, goes interstate everyday, just like HSR in France interacts with freight, freight does go in and out of France.

    Tokkyu40 Reply:

    1: The initial system will not only connect LA to San Francisco (a major transportation corridor) but will also connect to another train to Las Vegas, NV (interstate!). It will also serve as one of two HSR demonstrations that can be used to determine if and where to build more lines. Once people see the performance of fast trains in America it will be very difficult to stop other states from voting for more projects.
    2: The gas tax wasn’t instituted for the Interstates. It was diverted.
    America had placed the excise tax on gas 20 years earlier to support the general fund before it was taken away to build and maintain freeways. It needs to be tripled just to keep up with current spending requirements, which isn’t going to happen. Freeways don’t generate enough revenue to cover their costs and have to be subsidized by drivers who don’t use the freeways and by payments from the general funds, as happened again this year.
    Additionally…
    3: CAHSR is being built to fill a need. The population of California is growing and we need to spend $60-80 billion to build the HSR line, which will also serve the growing population in the Central Valley, or at least $120 billion for more freeways and airports, which have not been able to provide functional service to the San Joaquin Valley. The HSR project fills an unmet need in a growing region.
    4:Basic HSR is 20kph, or 124mph. FEC will be running 125mph in the long middle sections, which is within the range of basic HSR. It’s closer to full HSR than the Acela, which only exceeds 110mph on a small section in Mass.
    5: If you’re worried about the last mile to your destination, tuck a car in your carry-on, like you do when you fly. (cough, cough)
    Quick question; why don’t the HSR critics complain about how they don’t have a car when they fly?
    6: Americans didn’t choose cars. The highway lobby pushed for more highways and the government (mostly Republicans, I must admit) instituted a strong program of government subsidies for government mandated, funded and built highways, starting in 1915, that competed for traffic with privately owned, operated, heavily taxed and regulated passenger rail. Many streetcar companies were even required to build and maintain the roads they ran in, providing free infrastructure to the jitneys they competed with.
    That level of government favoritism isn’t a free choice,especially now when every public vote for more and better trains is met with government opposition from Washington to force a different choice on the people.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    150 in Rhode Island. There are long stretches of 135 mph running between NY and DC.

    synonymouse Reply:

    “CAHSR is being built to fill a need.”

    Whose need? Not mine nor anyone I know.

    J. Wong Reply:

    Maybe not your need because you’ll be dead, but certainly the need of your children and grandchildren even if they never take the train. That need is economic if California’s economy is going to continue to support its residents.

    synonymouse Reply:

    Flippantly expensive, politicized and gerrymandered, zombie subsidized despite a lousy cost benefit ratio, this stands as an infrastructure burden for future generations like rusted out bridges back east.

    What economy? A social network economy? What is your alternative to failed communism and failed capitalism being relentlessly supplanted by economic and social royalism.?

    The new political figure on the scene in Spain, 37 years old, thinks the “left” is legalizing a bunch of vice, like drugs and prostitution, and wide open borders. I guess because religion tends to the puritanical revolution is now dissipation. What would Mao think?

    J. Wong Reply:

    People do business in SF and Silicon Valley. People do business in L.A. That economy(!) that will need close connections for 50 million people that cannot be supported by the existing I5 and max. capacity airports. You may think that that has no impact on yours, but it really does.

    An “infrastructure burden for future generations” like “rusted bridges”? So either you believe they could have built bridges that could have lasted forever or it’s a burden that future generations will need to invest in as with any infrastructure. Or are you saying the “rusted bridges back east” were useless?

    synonymouse Reply:

    The rusted out bridges symbolize an economy in retrenchment, a phenomenon that will be in play in California in due time.

    The difference is that in some parts of the US, like California, immigration from places that are worse off will bloat the population. So you will have overpopulation, with most inhabitants impoverished such that if they travel at all it will be by the cheapest means and of course they have no money to pay taxes to support the failed infrastructure burden. The rich will have long previously taken action to keep their wealth from being wasted on burned out boondoggles.

    The wild card, and the Gypsy only knows, is how revolutionary progress in AI, robotics, automation etc., if it is in the cards, would change the thinking of the “royals”, the one percent. Just perhaps they won’t need the masses any more as slaves, cannon fodder, “services”. Traditionally a country without a burgeoning birth rate would eventually fall prey to another larger and more aggressive military and economic power. Just possibly the terran elite could come to a modus vivendi such that a genuine new world order would emerge wherein most of the population would have become, shall we say, redundant. Downsized.

    JimInPollockPines Reply:

    syno that is not how it works. The new people want just as badly to succeed and as the previous people and they are just as capable of finding solutions and creating new crap and new ways to do that and just as capable of seeing what needs to be prioritized to suit their upcoming needs. And besides who cares what people do after were not around to worry about it anyway? Surely you have enough to do right now to keep you busy in the meantime.Groceries, dry cleaning, planning the cruise to Alaska etc.

    synonymouse Reply:

    “And besides who cares what people do after were not around to worry about it anyway?”

    Apparently Jerry does. Why does he not repudiate the Legacy?

    JimInPollockPines Reply:

    leaders lead. someone has to plan for the future. the average person can’t do it.
    someone had to say “buil the TVA” so that region could have an economic future. Someone had to say “build the interstate system” someone had to say “build the central valley project” “build the California aqueduct” “Build the Caldecott tunnel” “ggbridge” etc etc etc. we elct people to take care of that stuff. Its a heavy lift to convince selfish people to spend their money today, on something for someone else to use in the future. They do it, they take the heat for it and in return they get their name on a plaque.

    synonymouse Reply:

    Actually, they don’t need the waste the ordinary people’s money on poorly conceived projects.

    All projects have consequences, collateral damage, like Hetch Hetchy. But PalmdaleRail is just a piece of mierda, beyond the pale of dumbness.

    John Nachtigall Reply:

    1. There is no Las Vegas train. They have press releases, a promise to study, and the chief patron (Reid) who is retiring. yawn. Call me when they have any kind of funding that reaches 25+% of goal cost at a minimum.

    2. The people who built the interstate system realized you neede money to build capital. That is the point. Who cares if it was there before or not. CAHSR is trying to fund as they go, and failing. They need 30 billon by 2020 to get the ISO running assuming no overruns, They have ~12 billon in gov funds which leaves them 18 billon short. So you think cap and trade is going to provide abou 3-4 billon a year for the next 5 years? They already said no private for this first part. Where is the money coming from?

    3. Highways and air travel already meet the transportation need. CAHSR is being built to provide an alternative. A trendy, cool, alternative. It will replace about 1.5% of miles traveled by car according to the athority itself and not until completed in the 2030s. It’s no savior to the environment or alternative transportation. We agree, it is a proof of concept at best which is what I said in my original post.

    4. The “definition” of HSR seems to flex to however supporters what at that time. I am told that Acela is HSR when we talk about subsidies )because that sections makes a profit) but it is not HSR when people want something faster. Regardless, the key word in your statement is “will be”. Again, per point 1 come back when you have something real and not a press release.

    5. Many people drive just to keep the mobility of cars. Decide what HSR is. If it is for commuting to work then the last mile problem is real. If it is for business and pleasure travel then people will rent cars on the end to get around. I will grant it is more convenient for business and pleasure travel for cities within 200-500 miles. That is a small nitch. Less than that and cars are faster and more flexible. More than that planes are faster. The nitche is to small to be worth the capital investment required.

    6. Americans love their cars. if they loved public transportation like busses nearly as much then public transportation would be the dominate form of transit. They don’t. Cars are superior in terms of flexibility both in schedule ( anytime) and route (anywhere). But let’s say you are right, Americans were brainwashed into accepting cars, It’s done, and that system is built. The die is cast. Building HSR does nothing to change that. The vast vast majority of travel is under 20 miles a trip, cars still dominate that. HSR is again, just a tiny nitche not worth the investment.

    John Nachtigall Reply:

    One other thing on 2. Everyone enjoys the fruits of the highway system. Unless you eat exclusively out of your own garden, built your house with trees you cut and processed you are using the road system. Add in electricity, heat, cool, information, police, fire protection. You get the gist I hope. Everyone uses the interstate system, car or not

    Alan Reply:

    To “beat” cars it requires public transportation for getting to the station and the last miles to your destination. Given that cars already have a network, I can drive directly to and from my spdestination, and I don’t have to rely on any schedule but my own

    Try that argument to deny airport/FAA funding and see how far it gets you. Remember, when you fly you have to travel on the airline’s schedule, not yours. Using your logic, we shouldn’t spend any more on airports or the FAA.

    Using any form of transportation which operates on a schedule requires discipline, which a lot of people today sadly lack, but it certainly can be done, and done without being at all painful…

    John Nachtigall Reply:

    Air travel does not beat cars. Passengers miles traveled is dwarfed by cars, Air travel is only for long distances where the speed is worth the trade off to schedule, and it fills that nitche. What nitche is HSR filling, because over 500 miles, air travel is faster even with security checks built in (and who says HSR in ten US won’t have those also). My point, is that HSR fills a small (infrequent travel in the 200-500 mile range) with a huge capital investment. Not worth it

    Joe Reply:

    Emperical evidence, that HSR works elsewhere, be damned.

    Carz rule.

    synonymouse Reply:

    On the contrary Bako to LA via Tejon demo works pretty well, enough to break even, IMHO.

    Add Sac and the Bay Area(especially the East Bay, which PB ignores)via I-5 and you have a system which provides a service on a new needed route that can pay for its expenses.

    That Bakersfield should worry Tejon can succeed too much in drawing patrons tells the story.

    Via the I-5 racetrack end to end sustained speeds of 160-180mph are politically possible, which will prove to not be the case with the 99 route ultimately.

    synonymouse Reply:

    Consider what will be the cost in construction and land acquisition of expanding I-5 over Tejon.

    And if SoCal climate changes such that the Tehachapi mountain crossing gets more precipitation you will need a larger footprint throughout to contain washouts, slides, floods.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    No one is going to care just like no one cares that the longest route between Boston and New York is through Providence.

    Bahnfreund Reply:

    HSR earns a profit. Most airports in Europe don’t. And no Highway does.

    Joe Reply:

    CA HSR has so much money on hand that the critics say they can’t spend it in time therefore Obama failed and HSR isn’t important.

    Ted Judah Reply:

    The GOP has never hidden their opposition to passenger rail, why complain about it now. It was a fixed quantity, it should have been factored in. The could have provided 15 billon in funding (which at that time was 1/3) with no worries because with the presidency any push to defund would have been vetoed.

    Ah, but you see… the GOP doesn’t have an opposition to passenger rail itself (outside the usual Amtrak and union bashing they do in any industry); they originally wanted to see these new HSR and TIGER projects subject to “pay/go” which is a rule the Congressional Democrats instituted in 2007 when they came to power. The Democrats’ goal was to avoid more Iraq-sized disasters by requiring new expenditures using General Fund dollars to have a tax increase/ offset passed at the same time. (Quite logical, if politically motivated.)

    The bailout, of course, required that rule to be suspended and then…Obama’s transition team didn’t realize that any of his “priorities” would automatically become a target because of how strong the backlash was over the election of a black president.

    So again, once the Democrats lost control of the House in 2010 (which was their own damn fault, but that’s a whole other post…) they decided to maintain that new spending could still expand the deficit…but the GOP said it must be budget neutral. The Democrats, again, still not willing to accept that the House was not coming back to them any time soon for very wonky reasons, kept holding out, figuring that the pressure of appealing to younger and more diverse voters would cede them the victory.

    …and today…every establishment Republican is watching in horror as the most salient 2016 candidates are the ones that double-down on the rhetoric that ensures these “Obama voters” will not go for GOP candidates nationally all the while Democrats watch the sands of the hourglass of the Obama Administration slowly slip away…wondering what could have been….and yet…the most recently transportation re-authorization passed with budget neutrality and no gas tax increase…yet no limit on how much could be redirect toward passenger rail or HSR.

    The irony being of course, that HSR and other more profitable service types would reduce the subsidy Washington or States pay…but…anyway….

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    every establishment Republican is watching in horror

    Both of them are discussing, we each other, whether they should decide to spend more time with their families or accept the teaching position at the state university.

    Bahnfreund Reply:

    BTW what would happen under a Trump presidency? I mean, people thought a Reagan presidency to be impossible as well…

    Jos Callinet Reply:

    Another factor which plays into our country’s nearly universal reluctance to invest in HSR – is that deep down inside many Americans on both sides of the political spectrum take pride in the fact that WE on our side of the Atlantic and Pacific are DIFFERENT from everyone on the opposite shores. We do NOT want to emulate, or copy-cat, what people in other countries and nations do.

    We especially pride ourselves on our superb network of Interstate Highways and airlines. Our “Drive-and-Fly” preference over trains represents our American Freedom, Independence and Uniqueness. We prefer not to live in a socialist society (although government programs like Social Security and Medicare are socialist in nature) – and, unfortunately, trains paid for and built by the federal government reek too much of Socialism for even Democrats to support. This is probably why President Obama couldn’t get his HSR program enacted even when he had veto-proof Democratic majorities in both Houses of Congress.

    Yes, HSR is fast and ‘cool’ – as long as it’s something we experience when traveling overseas – but it, like so many other overseas socialist-identified programs, CAN STAY there, thank you very much!

    We are more than deliriously happy and content with the transportation-system we so proudly “call our own.” here in the United States. NO WAY do we want or are about to allow foreigners of any stripe to meddle with us and/or import their alien concepts to our shores.

    Domayv Reply:

    and the Americans’ overreliance on freeways and airlines will exacerbate its dependence on oil and worsen the overall declining infrastructure on the freeways and airlines. the freeway and airport expansions are, at best, placebos. great thinking right there

    I would because, let’s face it, America needs to grow up from overrelying on freeways and airlines.

    John Nachtigall Reply:

    Freeways and airlines built the largest most powerful economy in the world. Why do we need to “grow up” again?

    As previously proven, the days of oil dependence as a national security threat are gone. Technology is systematically seperating oil from car. Planes are getting cheaper and more fuel efficient.

    Michael Reply:

    Abundant natural resources and no wars fought on our soil for the past 100+ probably has more to do with it. And oil dependence is no longer a national security threat?

    John Nachtigall Reply:

    Security concerns was the Mid East cutting us of. Now Shale and tar sands in US and Canada can meet needs without foreign oil. Hence no security concerns

    Domayv Reply:

    @John Nachtigall still, freeways and airports are just as clogged as ever and adding in extra capacity won’t cut it.

    John Nachtigall Reply:

    What is more efficient. A trillion or 2 in investment to build an HSR system from scratch or improve existing systems?

    wdobner Reply:

    Order of magnitude check! With the California, Texas, Midwestern, Florida, and Southeast HSLs built out we’d be looking at around 150 million Americans being within about 50 miles of a high speed rail station. Even using the ludicrous lie that is the $68 billion figure for CAHSR you’re still looking at less than $180 billion to complete those other networks.

    So you can serve half the population of the US (the half which is statistically more likely to travel within their respective regions) for a tenth the cost figure you pulled out of your ass. That’s about equal to the mainline coverage of the airlines with far better reliability and capacity than the airlines provide for much less money than we’ve sunk into airports, air traffic control, and nav aids over the past 40 years. NextGen alone is probably going to end up costing more than CHSRA’s Bay to Basin iteration.

    There should be no doubt remaining that high speed rail is far more efficient an investment than the status quo.

    John Nachtigall Reply:

    Those systems you mention are snipits. HSR competes with air travel right? So you need. A system to do that right? Full True HSR on the east coast from Maine to Florida is easily 1 trillion, probably way more. Throw in full CA, pacific coast system, Texas, and Midwest to east coast Chicago to New York anyone?). 2 trillion is an underestimation

    Stats quo works just fine. Airports have plenty of capacity, and more can be built.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    No it doesn’t, no they don’t and no they can’t.

    Joey Reply:

    @John Nachtigall: not sure where you got that HSR has to compete with all air. HSR’s target market overlaps with some air travel (mainly shorter flights) but there’s no reason to expect 1:1 parity.

    Peter Reply:

    Sorry, I thought that the U.S. was built by rail. At least up until the late 1950’s and early 1960’s, I’m pretty sure that the vast majority of freight (and passengers) was moved by rail.

    Around that time the nation just made a poor choice to drop basically all investment in transportation infrastructure other than roads. What is wrong with trying to undo part of the damage that this change wrought?

    Domayv Reply:

    @Peter It was. Then America took a look at Germany’s autobahn and made their own version in the form of the Interstate highways and idolized the cars and planes at the expense of everything else.

    Eric M Reply:

    Too bad our roads are not maintained as well as the German autobahn’s

    Jos Callinet Reply:

    The point I’m making is – we’re basically content and happy to stick with our status-quo, even if it’s not exactly environmentally friendly.

    However, we must use our heads and allow ourselves to raise the gasoline tax enough to pay for the many badly-needed repairs to our roads and bridges. We owe at least that much to ourselves.

    JimInPollockPines Reply:

    I suggest we get rid of chp and use that money to fund road maintenance.

    Zorro Reply:

    Jim the CHP is not going away.

    synonymouse Reply:

    “That choice to go with cars worked just fine.”

    There is no choice; autos are the mainstay of the modern economy. The Chinese will grasp that in a much larger and deeper sense presently as they have to shift to a more internal demand economic model.

    Massive freeway building, electric cars, atomic power generation – that is what I predict for China. Electric cars are not as supportive of the economy as they are much more durable but deal with the pollution problem much better.

    John Nachtigall Reply:

    America’s accention to #1 world power happened at that time. WW II and right after. The systems original purpose was for moving the military to begin with.

    That choice to go with cars worked just fine. Cars are infinitely flexible and allowed people to be freed from living and working in the same place. It’s cool to hate cars now but that’s because everyone forgets the freedom and flexibility they brought.

    JimInPollockPines Reply:

    even before cars, personal transportation in the form of owning a horse was the gold standard. Owning your own horses or horse and carriage was the end all be all.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    Railroads freed people from working and living in the same place.

    JimInPollockPines Reply:

    Its just a matter of the right tool for the job. Planes are good for some kinds of trips, trains are super efficient for for some types of trips, cars are best for other kinds of uses. The goal is too have good systems in place that are well maintained. The question is how much do we want to pay for versus how much do we want to complain about how things don’t work. Its not free.

    Domayv Reply:

    @John Nachtigall: But now cars are confined to gridlock (would you call that freedom) and a neverending hellscape of sprawl has ensued.

    Miles Bader Reply:

    @Domayv
    Yup.

    Basically cars worked ok as a transportation method when only a small proportion of people had them.

    American society saw this, thought “Oh nice, let’s go for that, we’ll make it our universal transportation method!” … and failed to realize how utterly horrible the result would be once everybody used cars for every trip.

    By the time this became clear, basically everybody had all their eggs in that one awful basket, so it was very hard to stop the process, and the current mess is the result. But stopping it, and rolling back to a more sane multi-modal transportation system is necessary if the U.S. is ever to be a nice place to live again.

    JimInPollockPines Reply:

    to be fair though there is only “gridlock” in places where all aspects of life are “gridlocked” or at least difficult. Cities have been congested messes for a couple thousand years.
    A cheap, at least temporary fix would be to stop requiring everyone to go to work at the same time. The global economy works 24 hours a day. No reason the local economy can’t be on a 24 hour schedule. Why does everybody have to drive into downtown san Francisco at the same damn time.
    Why do roads sit empy all night. For that matter why does very expensive high rise real estate sit empty all night. Put that shit to work 24/7 Itll be good for the economy and give workers a lot of flexibility. Get rid of “rush hour”

    synonymouse Reply:

    “…if the U.S. is ever to be a nice place to live again.”

    With 200 million Ca. souls crammed into high-rise hovels and jammed into Imperial broad gauge cattle cars? Ask yourself how many million does Jerry et cie. envision in mega Palmdale?

    Zorro Reply:

    @ Jim, a 24 clock, sounds great in theory, but shifting peoples times won’t help congestion, since there would still be congestion on the highways, so HSR will still need to be built, since it will help bring balance to transportation and right now fwys are not adequate by themselves and never will be either.

    J. Wong Reply:

    The “requirement” that everyone work at the same time is largely a network one: If everyone worked at different times nothing would get done because the person you need to interact with is not working when you’re working.

    jimsf Reply:

    @jwong
    I don’t think it would be a problem. First ive worked graves and swings for 35 years and my job gets done. And with email and texting etc etc and with the global economy its always daytime somewhere. I mean it depends on the industry but but surely you can give even basic office workers, even goct office workers, the option of working 5-1 6-2 9-5 10-6 or 2-10 for instance. Plenty can get done. Even it doesn’t eliminate congestion, its a good idea to give workers flexibility. Also offer 4 days with 10 hour shifts. That’s what I work. Its great because it saves a whole day of commuting. and pushes the commute times to the outer edges of rush hour.

    And for crap sake can we get rid of thepointless damn time changing twice a year. All does is screw up the lives of working folks for no good reason.

    Tokkyu40 Reply:

    The largest economy in the world was built by having no competition after every other industrial nation in the world was functionally leveled during WWII.
    By the 1970s Germany and Japan had recovered enough to start offering stiff competition, and our own automobile industry has been n decline ever since.

    John Nachtigall Reply:

    In the 80s Japan was going to overtake the US…didn’t happen
    In the 90s and early 2000s it was going to be the EU and/or Latin America….didn’t happen
    Now it is the Chineese, who are facing the first real test of their economy slowing…we will see, but my bet is they will fail because of the same reasons as the others. They can’t make the tough disruptive choices necessary. Like letting manufacturing jobs go and letting large companies go bankrupt. Short term pain that leads to long term success

    It is true the US is the only superpower for many reasons. Democracy, diversity, location, etc. but the original point is the current transportation system is working just fine with no passenger rail

    Joe Reply:

    We’re an empire – yay!
    Social statistics paint a different picture. We’ve dropped since the 70’s.

    John Nachtigall Reply:

    Life has changed since the 70s. Globalization and the Information Age has caused massive disruption to the economy and social network. But declined is a matter of perspective. If you are a steel worker or other manufacturing worker…yea, it has declines because manufacturing (other than a few high tech nitche said) is dead in the US. If you are a programmer, engineers or other STEM worker, however, it’s a great time to be alive.

    Just like in the early 1900 when Agraculture went down andbeing a manufacturing worker was where the money was at.

    What are you going to do Joe, stop the world and ask to get off. Technology and change march on regardless. The US economy stays on top by accepting those very disruptive but inevitable changes rather than fight the, like Japan, the EU, and now China does. You can’t fight the market.

    Joe Reply:

    Look at aggregate wages by income class from 1970 to present John.

    John Nachtigall Reply:

    Yes Joe, real wages (inflation adjusted) have stagnated for the bottom end of the job market. Due to automation, globalism, and the information economy. Many jobs that provided good incomes with little to no education don’t exist anymore. Manufacturing jobs, travel agents, bank tellers, typing pools, taxi driver…all gone or on the way out. Even education dependent jobs like journalism are not protected.

    I agree. My question still stands, what are you going to do? Stop technology advancement that allows for automation of jobs? Perhaps outlaw the internet so we have to go back to librarians and encyclopedias? Change is disruptive, not everyone “wins”. In other shocking new the sun rises in the east and water is wet.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    The same thing our grandparents did? Shorten the work week?
    Thou shalt work 40 hours a week isn’t the 11th Commandment.

    synonymouse Reply:

    Royalism does not work that way. In France the 35 hour work week is under attack.

    You add more government jobs and increase the size of the enforcement class. You pay for this by reducing standard of living and income of the lumpen.

    Meantime more circuses – distractions, diversions, dissipation. coke and hookers.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    40 hour week was going to be the ruination of the Nation. For decades.

    John Nachtigall Reply:

    So your solution is to reduce productivity so that it takes more hours to get something done and therefore will hire more people? Let’s examine that

    1. Look at the productivity of US workers vs France (your 35 hour work week example).

    https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_countries_by_GDP_(PPP)_per_hour_worked

    More than 10%’less productive (GDP per hour worked). Do you really want the US economy to shrink 10-15% ?

    I don think you have thought this through.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    The economy sucked after World War II when we went to a 40 hour week.

    Joey Reply:

    John Nachtigall: correlation ≠ causality much? Isn’t your background in statistics?

    Joe Reply:

    GDP and wages are different so crowing about GDP growth is arguing a different point.

    Worker Productivity increases have not resulted in proportional worker wages increases. Automation isn’t cutting wages. few workers needed to make a product hasn’t a wage cut.

    This comment is a non sequitur.

    Stop technology advancement that allows for automation of jobs? Perhaps outlaw the internet so we have to go back to librarians and encyclopedias? Change is disruptive, not everyone “wins”. In other shocking new the sun rises in the east and water is wet.

    John Nachtigall Reply:

    Of course productivity increases and automation have not increased wages. Those are advantages to businesses not workers. The number of workers needed to “make” things goes down, so less workers are needed so there is more supply than demand. Hence you don’t have to pay people more.

    Why do you think they pay minimum wage for fast food jobs….because they can, because there are people willing to take that shitty entry level job at that wage.

    You really don’t understand anything about basic economics. You should pick up an macroeconomics 101 class at a local college, this is not advanced stuff. This is supported by the fact that workforce participation is at a very low point right now. Simply put, we don’t need as many workers to support this level of GDP as we used to.

    Now you can argue that this ignores the humanity of people, it does I agree, but that does not make it wrong. With productivity gains and automation the US economy just does not need as many workers and especially low level workers as before. Those jobs have been permanently lost to globalization because it is cheaper to make and ship to the US than make in the US minus shipping.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    If making more cars with fewer workers can be called a decline.

    Alan Reply:

    Actually, the railroads were far more responsible than either freeways or airlines. But thanks for playing.

    John Nachtigall Reply:

    In the last 100 years? I call your bluff. Cite the article that says passenger rail is more responsible for economic growth than cars, because that was my statement

    Zorro Reply:

    That’s a false comparison, why?

    Passenger Rail existed long before automobiles became popular and today highways and airports enjoy subsidies, passenger rail before Amtrak did not and was frequently taxed.

    Passenger Rail is just more efficient with a passenger load, autos can at most hold 4 people and can’t go safely at very fast speeds, HSR can and is proven to do so, at least in the NEC and outside of the US.

    John Nachtigall Reply:

    There is no form of transit including walking that is not subsidized (mandatory sidewalks anyone). Amtrak has way more subsidy per passenger than freeways.

    Passenger rail is very efficient as long as a large number of people want to go from A to B. Just like planes. But the vast majority of travel happens within 20 miles of you home. Passenger rail is not efficient for that unless you have an extensive network like subways with stops within 1/4 mile of most all locations. Only NYC really has that to any extent, hence the reason 50% of trips there are public transit (which is subsidized)

    Joe Reply:

    I’m impressed with your data free assertions. Efficiency means something other than energy expended or some optimal condition. Majority modal of travel isn’t a definition of efficiency. Are all these within 30 mile trips with 4 people per vehicle?

    John Nachtigall Reply:

    No, the vast majority of trips are 1 person per car and within 20-30 miles of a persons home. Feel free to look up the stats yourself.

    Just because you favor your “cause” over efficiency does not make the efficiency argument wrong. You want to reduce pollution and get people out of cars in a significant way, build full network subways in the 20 largest cities. HSR has no appreciable effect on driving. The 2014 business plan predicted a 1.5% reduction in passenger miles in 2030….that’s a rounding error

    Miles Bader Reply:

    There is no form of transit including walking that is not subsidized

    In the contemporary U.S., perhaps.

    Urban rail when done well can be self-supporting/profitable, including capital investment.

    Joe Reply:

    You often play word games and use straw men arguments.

    Efficient means something novel here. It certainly is not efficient for people to use an auto with one occupant on 20 to 30 mile trips. I don’t accept that most trips are 20-30 miles. Where did you het that fact? I call bullshit.

    And the counter point to automobiles isn’t to build a subway – that’s your invention.

    I cannot fathom what US cities have predominately 10-15 mile trips. I can’t think of one 10 mile on way trip I took within SF. I know CHICAGO’s longest street is Western Ave which is 23 miles long. It runs N/S. Can’t think of one person who rode it that long.

    John Nachtigall Reply:

    https://www.fhwa.dot.gov/policyinformation/pubs/pl08021/fig4_5.cfm

    I have facts Joe and you have a cause

    People work and shop close to home. It’s very efficient for me to use a car. I pay $2.00 per 25 miles in gas and a fraction of a dollar per mile in depreciation I can go and leave anytime I want. I don’t have to share my space or time.

    Your point is that it is not good for society. The pollution and societal benefits would be higher with mass transit. Feel free to tax my car and gas all you wish. You will hurt the poor way sooner than you hurt me. It’s terribly regressive.

    Joe Reply:

    Oh you want to argue that interregional transit is less important. That argument is independent of what ever investment is made – be it airport or widening I-5.

    You are not going to take on HSR on its merits as an interregional transit system – like it was proposed.

    CA also makes investments in commuter and local roads. The state has many responsibilities and for those related to building interregional transit, they are building a HSR system.

    Drive to LA aline when ever you want – “efficient” now means convient for a car owner.

    Joe Reply:

    I don’t have to share my space or time.

    . Space shared with all those using the road system including traffic so plan that trip to avoid congestion. Time spent operating a vehicle.

    John Nachtigall Reply:

    So are you admitting that HSR is inter regional transport and the vast majority of trips are less than 20 miles. Because 2 posts ago you called me out for not providing evidence. Now that I have you tried to change the subject.

    So before you change the subject again. Are you willing to admit that you were wrong? Didn’t see that in your post

    Bahnfreund Reply:

    Actually Walking (as well as cycling) puts money INTO the society, if you add in all associated costs and benefits (e.g. health benefits of movement). Driving on the other hand costs society at large money. Even in Germany where 1€/liter is considered cheap for gas.

    Zorro Reply:

    Remember John Nachtigall, Interstate Highways = Autobahns, both are Federally funded, privately built w/Fed money.

    Bahnfreund Reply:

    Only difference is that Autobahns are slightly less congested because people have alternatives…

    Bahnfreund Reply:

    Have you taken a look at US Freeways and airports recently? Do they compare favorably to East Asia or Europe?

    webster Reply:

    This idea that there was some magical majority that could have steam-rolled anything through is false – just go back and review how hard it was to get the stimulus bill through.

    Besides, you said it yourself, conservative opposition to HSR was always a given, which is why it would have been ludicrous to establish a national-level plan, requiring authorization, since Congress would always eventually cut appropriations when power shifted back to Republicans (there WAS this little thing called the 2010 Midterms). That would be substantially less predictable…

    National-level planning doesn’t, and really never has, happened. The original interstate system did the same, exact thing this administration did with HSR monies. The federal government designated specific corridors, but actual routing and other considerations were delegated to the states. People want devolution of powers, they get devolution. You can’t have it both ways.

    If you want national-level planning, the only other sensible alternative would have been increasing funding for Amtrak and having that agency, as the FRA is doing with them in the NEC, actually undertake studies and work with states. That, however, would have been volatile. Since Amtrak’s issues are always viewed as managerial rather than existential.

    Again, 3 states sent funding back, to make a statement. Nothing was ever going to change that…no national plan, no amount of funding.

    Bahnfreund Reply:

    It wasn’t states that sent back funding. It was GOP governors. The only thing that could have stopped that would have been them losing elections or ballot initiatives…

    Zorro Reply:

    67 days is not much of a majority in the Senate and not much time to get anything done, by consensus, which is how Government works…

    July 21, 2009 Senator Byrd returned to the Senate making the count 59 seats. No Senator Kennedy.

    Senator Kennedy died August 25, 2009.

    The Kennedy seat was vacant from August 25 – September 24 when Paul G. Kirk was appointed to occupy his seat until the completion of a special election. The swearing-in of Kirk gave the Democrats a 60-seat majority.

    Democrats had a 60 seat majority from September 24, 2009 thru February 4, 2010. 4 months; not 2 years!!

    This does not account for the number of days Congress was not even in session during that time. If one subtracts the number of days Congress was out, the time that President Obama had a Democratic majority in Congress is further reduced by more than 30 days, or another full month.

    Of a possible 94 legislative days during that period, the Senate was only in session for 67 days, while the House only labored for 54.

    Live Leak:

    Bahnfreund Reply:

    Let the Spanish build HSR in the US. Spain may be doing many things wrong, but they are surprisingly efficient (if measured in per km cost) when it comes to building rail

  2. morris brown
    Dec 22nd, 2015 at 08:13
    #2

    Robert writes in another attempt to continue to spread this outright lie:

    Rick Scott only killed HSR in order to please his right-wing allies, and the article should have noted that every HSR system in the world generates a profit and does not require operating subsidies.

    In point of fact, and as again shown up in the expressions of interest —
    Only 3 HSR systems of the over 100 operating today, operate without subsidies — the rest require government subsidies

    The California project has been a fraud from the very beginning, with absurd low ball cost estimates and promises of crazy ridership numbers, all of which have in the last 8 years, now been shown to be lies.

    And, of course, we now have the current leadership, hiding huge cost escalations, as revealed in the LA Times, and the current board, refusing to acknowledge the outright fraud that has been committed.

    With no further Fed funding on board or on the horizon, the project will die without having achieved even the lowest expectations.

    Peter Reply:

    Rick Scott refused to wait until a financial study on HSR was released before killing HSR … because that study showed that HSR was going to be very profitable for Florida.

    Domayv Reply:

    and he didn’t want them freeways and intercity airlines to lose customers because that would mean less oil is being used and less oil means less profits for the oil companies, the Republicans’ rallying vehicle

    synonymouse Reply:

    The oil interests are not doing that great right now.

    The affluent can always pull out their money and place it where the profits are. But you can always bet on sprawl. Demos and Repubs love it equally.

    Bahnfreund Reply:

    Urban Democrats are increasingly becoming a factor. And they naturally hate sprawl. Unfortunately for the US there is no proportional representation. In countries where it exists the urban carless class already is a major demo to win around in elections…

    les Reply:

    Florida easily could have been the 4th profitable HSR system. It has a high number of large cities in proximity to each other; HSR would have put interstate Air travel on respiratory care.

    “The Democratic governor appointed Dan Richard to the California High-Speed Rail Authority board last year to help turn around a project that has come under intense criticism for its cost, ridership and route plans.” It seems like all the gripes against CAHSR predate Dan Richards appointment which was 2011, and yet critics continue to dig up the past as if it is the present and future.
    http://www.sfgate.com/news/article/Dan-Richard-to-lead-High-Speed-Rail-Authority-2977441.php

    john burrows Reply:

    Is the Authority hiding huge cost escalations? The LA Times article revealed that the total project cost could go up by at least 5%, in my opinion at least, maybe not such a huge increase. Why don’t we wait another 6 or 8 weeks until we can take a look at the 2016 Business Plan before we accuse the authority of hiding “huge cost escalations”. But if the 2016 Business Plan ends up showing little or no cost increase then I suppose that it also would be nothing more than “lies” and “outright fraud”.

    Joe Reply:

    Morris is scared of the Texas project. He never mentions it.

    Private funded and expected to run a profit.

    Private entity with eminent domain powers, federal EIR and all.

    synonymouse Reply:

    A growth scheme so why shouldn’t the rich people love it so long as they are not paying for it.

    les Reply:

    Texans starting to embrace Sake

    http://www.houstonchronicle.com/news/transportation/article/Focus-shifts-to-stretching-bullet-train-to-6710235.php

    StevieB Reply:

    TX: Focus Shifts to Stretching Bullet Train to Downtown. Extending the train to downtown Houston would be expensive and problematic but more useful. Enter a study.

    Officials with the Gulf Coast Rail District, Houston-Galveston Area Council, Texas Department of Transportation and Metropolitan Transit Authority are involved in a comprehensive planning study of rail, generally in the Washington Avenue and Interstate 10 area.

    The study, building off numerous previous reports and research by the agencies, is intended to provide a template for how to develop rail between a site at or near Northwest Mall and the former downtown post office.

    The study could be persuasive should local officials want to encourage the Federal Railroad Administration or Texas Central Partners, the sponsor of the Dallas-to-Houston rail project, to rethink extending high-speed rail service to downtown, said Maureen Crocker, the rail district’s executive director.

    les Reply:

    If they’re going to do it they should do it right. I’m sure they could rake in some great real estate deals if it made it to downtown.

    StevieB Reply:

    Do it right for who? The organizations doing the study would increase the cost of the project for the benefit of the riders. The rail builders would hold down costs by not building downtown and increase profits for their private corporation Texas Central Partners.

    les Reply:

    This is where Fed loans and grants come in handy…f*(*)$n* republicans.

    Bahnfreund Reply:

    Dowotown rail stations are one of the cash cows in the DB empire. If they need help building one, they should visit downtown Leipzig. Or Hamburg. Or Berlin. Or Dresden. Or Nuremberg…. In fact recently a simple Lidl (a German supermarket chain) in Nuremberg main station had to be closed due to too many people willing to buy stuff there. Just let that sink in: They had to shut a store because too many people wanted sped money.

    Zorro Reply:

    @ John Burrows: The CHSRA uses Design-Build contracts, the CHSRA does only a preliminary design, the rest is completely up to the contractor, so cost overruns are fiction and the LA Times story is GARBAGE, tripe, crap, and since the contracts are signed legal documents, they can not demand more money, or the contractor could be in breach of contract, No contractor wants that.

    Bahnfreund Reply:

    Time will tell…

    Alon Levy Reply:

    If what you say is in boldface, it must be true.

    Alan Reply:

    The California project has been a fraud from the very beginning, with absurd low ball cost estimates and promises of crazy ridership numbers, all of which have in the last 8 years, now been shown to be lies.

    The numbers have been vetted over and over, including by the GAO, which is no shill for CHSRA. The only liar is here is Morris.

    And, of course, we now have the current leadership, hiding huge cost escalations, as revealed in the LA Times

    Or more accurately, the sham articles by the hack Vartabedian, who makes things up to fit his point of view, when the facts are to convenient.

    Morris is desperate to the point of sheer panic.

    Alan Reply:

    That should be, “when the facts are not convenient.”

    Zorro Reply:

    Alan, I totally agree with these two posts of yours.

    Bahnfreund Reply:

    You have hit the nail on its head!

    Bahnfreund Reply:

    Morris Brown, where is the citation for your numbers?

    DB Fernverkehr (who run ICE and non HSR IC services) makes a profit and does not get subsidies

    SNCF makes a profit on its long distance lines

    The JR companies all make a profit

    RENFE operates at a minuscule loss, mostly because Spain has high unemployment and they slashed prices to increase ridership.

    All of those companies either own their rails and have to pay for their upkeep or pay track access charges (DB Fernverkehr has to pay track access charges to DB Netz; DB Netz in turn makes a profit)

    So where are the 97 money losing HSR systems?

  3. Aarond
    Dec 22nd, 2015 at 10:27
    #3

    There’s two pieces of the puzzle here: one is that the House Republicans are able to do this in the first place. The Democrats should have pushed a much stronger infrastructure agenda in 2008-10, and from 2010-2014 they should have been more willing to negotiation.

    Specifically (and I’ve said this before) on freeway tolling. This is something that results in a net savings for taxpayers (something that Republicans want) and allows for privatization (something which Republicans also want).

    It’s worth remembering that GOP states, such as Michigan, Florida and Texas are doing rail investments on their own accord. Florida, a state that actually returned it’s federal HSR money, is doing high-er speed rail that is privately funded. Texas is doing the same with JR Central.

    There’s ways to bend the GOP (which is divided at the moment between ideologically different factions), and it frustrates me that the Democrats do not go for it.

    Brian_FL Reply:

    Exactly. And here in Florida, before Rick Scott there was bipartisan support for the FL HSR project. Even in the wake of Scott’s stupid decision, the state government (FDFC and FDOT agencies especially) has been very supportive of the efforts of AAF over the past 3 years. Maybe it’s because of the influence of money or whatever, but the end result will be a passenger rail system that works for FL.

    I really don’t consider FL to be a GOP state. They control the government but reality on the ground says that we are ‘purple’ state. Gerrymandering and other machinations have created the ability for republicans to take control.

    JimInPollockPines Reply:

    Republicans know, in spite of their claims, that government investment does create jobs and boost the economy. They have been reluctant because they don’t want Obama to come across as successful. But they know at some point americans will be looking at them and they will boost spending in order to make the economy better and make themselves look good. They just won’t do it until they can make sure it makes them look good and not the president.

    Danny Reply:

    plus the usual line of reasoning that “if people get it and like it, they’ll be mad at us for having opposed it”

    Bahnfreund Reply:

    At some point the GOP will have always been in favor of HSR. Probably a week after a HSR bazillionaire makes a donation to the right GOP coffers…

  4. Lewellan
    Dec 22nd, 2015 at 11:14
    #4

    Republicans now expect filthy profits from oil exports out of Pacific NW ports via BNSF RR lines in Washington State. If they cared about public safety, they’d build a pipeline from Dakota Bakkan fields through Nebraska to Oklahoma and Gulf refineries to bring these fuels to market, bring safety upgrades to existing petro facilities/refineries along the route, bring fuels to both our coasts and domestic uses, reduce demand for off-shore drilling in the Gulf, and railway tank car shipment hazards are minimzed.

    NO, they’d rather hold out for a republican President and Congress to approve the Keystone XL pipeline, crudest of the crude, big block shipping engine fuel. Republicans exploit profit until the resource is gone, like overfishing depletes fish stocks to extinction, like cutting old growth forests, like raising corn til aquifers are drained. The military/industrial complex employs fascist misanthropes.

    During President Obama’s TV special in Alaska, he said about technology, “Maybe buy an electric car…” There’s no maybe about it. Certainly no self-driving car BS is possible without electric drive, but this doesn’t stop adherants from gushing effusive praise for the idiotic idea. When Obama suggests no need for PHEVs and BEVs, he’s either lying or wrongfully mislead. The need for speed too is nonsense.

  5. datacruncher
    Dec 22nd, 2015 at 19:20
    #5

    Update article about additional construction work in the Fresno area starting early next year including the different underpasses/overpasses and the realignment of 2.5 miles of Highway 99 to make room for the HSR ROW.

    Here Comes High Speed Rail: What You Need to Know
    http://kvpr.org/post/here-comes-high-speed-rail-what-you-need-know

    The article links to this site with updates on moving the section of 99.
    http://99realignment.blogspot.com/

    Also interesting information about the relocation of the old Fresno welcome arch (similar to the gateway arches popular in many cities in the past).

    Although road construction is perhaps the most notable impact coming to Fresno in the next year the rail construction will also lead to smaller but important changes.

    Sally Caglia’s father was instrumental in saving the historic sign welcoming visitors to Fresno, which it calls the Best Little City in the USA, along Vann Ness Boulevard at what was once the main entrance to the city.

    When the high speed rail comes through, the road it is on will dead end leaving a welcome sign that with no one to welcome.

    High speed rail has agreed to move the sign, likely to Mariposa Street directly in front of what will eventually be the main train station.

    Jerry Reply:

    Good fly over video of the project area. Article also states, “There are still some properties that have not been acquired for the project.” But they hope to have them by April.

    Miles Bader Reply:

    I follow a blog about Fresno, and while a sign may have been saved, the city itself seems a different story. The Fresno city government seems to only exist for the purpose of approving more greenfield sprawl developments, parking lots, big-box stores, strip malls, and road widenings, and rejecting any attempts at higher density development…. ><

  6. Travis D
    Dec 22nd, 2015 at 21:52
    #6

    CAHSR is going to send me compact discs with all the proposals for the construction packages to date. Even the bids that didn’t win. That could be interesting. I’ll let you all know what I find out.

    Elizabeth Alexis Reply:

    If you want us to post on our public google drive, email info calhsrdotcom.

    Travis D Reply:

    When I get them I might see if I can get them to you.

  7. Trentbridge
    Dec 23rd, 2015 at 08:17
    #7

    A new CNN poll adds fresh evidence to bolster the impression of Trump’s total dominance as 2015 comes to a close.

    1. Donald Trump: 39% (up from 36% in a CNN poll from late November)
    2. Ted Cruz: 18% (up from 16%)
    3. Ben Carson: 10% (down from 14%)
    3. Marco Rubio: 10% (down from 12%)

    The best present for CA HSR would be Trump as the GOP Presidential nominee…and it’s even more likely now than six months ago…bye bye Senate!

    Zorro Reply:

    I wouldn’t count your eggs before they are hatched on the Senate elections. Trumps a buffoon and the others are Stunted…

    Roland Reply:

    Everyone should love Hillary. Be with the Force!

    Zorro Reply:

    Only if one doesn’t get Berned.

    Happy XMAS and a Merry New Year everybody!

    synonymouse Reply:

    Could Bernie get elected in Brooklyn to something?

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    He gets elected in Vermont. which is more than can be said for the Donald, who has never been elected to anything.

    Tokkyu40 Reply:

    Trump vs. Sanders.
    Enjoy the nightmares!

    synonymouse Reply:

    Hillary vs. Jeb

    Back to sleep.

    Bahnfreund Reply:

    Say what you want about either of them. But Trump vs. Sanders would be yyyyyyuuuuuuuuugggggeeeeee. In some seriousness though, it would certainly be something worth watching.

    Aarond Reply:

    It’s true. As much as I consider Trump to be both a liar and huckster, he’s probably the only pro-infrastructure and pro-Amtrak candidate out there right now as he’s a RINO. All of this probably has to do with the fact that he’s a realtor, who of course will stand to profit on a larger Amtrak modernization scheme. He’s the only one who could possibly pull off raising taxes because he knows how to communicate with the type of people that vote for Tea Partiers.

    Of course, this assumes he’s a serious candidate. I’m in no way endorsing him, and I’m obviously using a lot of assumptions here (namely that he actually wants to be President).

    Danny Reply:

    Sanders also complains about everything in the country rotting (long story short, in 1980 people who were raised on the cow’s milk decided they wanted burgers, too), and he’s extremely responsive on issues people thought he was neglecting; Clinton should be okay on infrastructure, too, but isn’t as good at shaming Congress and calling for Senate campaigning

    Aarond Reply:

    Hilary would be the worst at infrastructure, on the basis that she doesn’t know how to work with a GOP Congress. Or, rather the Tea Party won’t work with her period since they consider her a criminal.

    I’m no fan of of the GOP candidates, but I doubt any have the guts to gut infrastructure spending, and all of them can at least communicate with the TP. Hilary can’t do the latter for reasons that she has no control over, which is why she would not make a effective President. Too bad Webb is out of the race, since he knows how to handle TPers.

    Danny Reply:

    I was gonna add that “Clinton would spend four years in Congressional hearings about whether the part in her hair was a secret message to Moscow, prompting her to attack Gabon, Iran, and Ireland as distractions”

    party-wise there’s the huge GOP constituency for the California Zephyr/Empire Builder/Sunset Limited/Texas Eagle/Cardinal/Southwest Chief: you ruffle one hair on the “unprofitable routes” and there’s 40 Senators out for blood: they even want the Desert Wind and the Pioneer back–even the state GOP seemed quite unanimous for the NVHSRA

    both parties are in a sharp crisis from the effects of their neolib policies–one whitewashed its Pinonomics with abortion- and gay-friendly language, the other by blaming “people not like you” and hippies; the RNC and the DNC want their respective parties to just cash the donor’s check, go through the motions, deliver on as few campaign promises as possible, and doesn’t mind losing because that just means they can blame the voters more and ask for more money–when Rahm and Debbie’s brilliant campaigning cost the Dems 11 governors, 13 Senators, and 69 Reps since 2010

    2016 is a bottom-line pocketbook election and both the insurgent candidates are saying “the economy doesn’t have to come before social issues, but we can’t pretend anymore that the latest bubble will bring back the middle class”; the party leaderships can’t ride chardonnay liberals and Santa Monica gentry or fundies and rageoholic self-isolated retirees any more since the establishment Dems’ core class is too small and the establishment GOP’s core classes are dying off

    the party establishments are also jokes: the DNC and RNC admit they can’t do much to get their own candidates elected except to screw with the primaries: Clinton’s running like it’s still 1992, dancing the nae nae and calling herself “your abuelita”; Jeb’s campaign is over, Trump’s still an Indiana Jones villain, and the RNC is having meetings with Christie

    so it’s a realigning election like 1932 or 1964 (populist FDR and LBJ’s new Dem blood taking over, breaking out of the South), 1980 (Reagan’s takeover with a new-made GOP), or 1994 (Weicker and Rockefellers purged and absorbing the Dixiecrats, partly because of NAFTA’s dumpster fire): if a 2020s “respectable” GOP reemerges in the Northwest and urban Midwest, blue-collar, pro-infrastructure, accepting of sufficiently-white Latinos–that’s gonna have repercussions on the Dems: will they drop Sanders’ balancing act of simultaneously addressing social and economic issues and swing back to proudly-vacuous Clintonism and the race-baiting that made Rahm mayor? will a crisis see the Teabaggers and Dixiecrats fuse into a producerist party that tries to keep up with working- and middle-class-oriented Dems and a protectionist GOP?

    J. Wong Reply:

    The GOP Congress will not work with any Democratic President. A GOP President will blow up the budget by giving huge tax cuts to the 1%. There would be no money left for infrastructure obviously since the debt will explode.

    The country’s only hope is a Democratic President and Senate, and if we’re lucky and there’s enough turnout on an outside chance, maybe enough Republican House members lose to make them have to work with the Democrats.

    Zorro Reply:

    No President can’t give people tax cuts, you’re stating a Myth J. Wong, only Congress can give tax cuts, thru legislation…

    Bahnfreund Reply:

    Which the president signs. We have all watched the West Wing, thank you very much…

    JimInPollockPines Reply:

    Im much more worried about one of the right wing republicans getting in than trump. The others have “moral” religious leanings. Aside from his big mouth, at least Trump has indicated he pro infrastructure. In fact I Bernie and Hillary – while I intend to vote for them – have not impressed me on the big infrastructure front which I find disappointing. As for Trumps controversial bluster… I don’t believe for a second that he means any of it. He’s never been known for those views in the past. He’s a New Yorker, and a businessman. The bluster is designed to stir up shit but he has no intention of building any walls or deporting anyone. The joke is on the idiots who are falling for what he’s saying.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    Nobody has asked him before.

    JimInPollockPines Reply:

    yeh I don’t buy a lot of what he’s saying as being genuine. He’s playing a game. I don’t think he can win unless Bernie or Hillary – whichever – reallys screws up. Or if dems don’t get out and vote which is the bigger problem. I want to think that it wont even be close but the truth is americans are so fed up and so divided it maybe be a closer election than we expect which means another four years of gridlock and turmoil. America may be ungovernable.

    les Reply:

    Trump will get the Republican nod because he’s not a puppet to Super-Pacs like the other Christian-ethos based Republicans. Sanders would probably win head to head because he’s not a bigot. But bigotry has its merits when you’ve been forced to train foreigners to assume your job countless times.

    JimInPollockPines Reply:

    I’m betting my two cents that it will be
    – Clinton vs Bush election.
    – Clinton will win.
    – It will be fairly close.
    – And turnout will be mediocre.

    les Reply:

    I could never vote for someone who voted for the Iraqi war. Clinton did and Bernie didn’t.

    Zorro Reply:

    Word online is that Clinton is Repub-lite, people would rather have the real deal.

    J. Wong Reply:

    Yea, no.

    Zorro Reply:

    When I said “people would rather have the real deal”, I meant people in the GOP who don’t like Clinton.. Not anyone else J. Wong.

    J. Wong Reply:

    I don’t expect anyone who will vote Republican will ever vote for any Democrats (even those “independents” who mostly vote right). Clinton will win by getting out the vote, who if her opponent is Trump or Cruz, will be motivated.

    Miles Bader Reply:

    “Word online”…. ><

    synonymouse Reply:

    Jerry is Repub-lite. Developer shill.

    Zorro Reply:

    Crazy Crank Cyno is Plastered.

    Aarond Reply:

    Jeb’s out. Trump ended his campaign before it even began. Republicans do not want him, even Christie has a better chance. They all know that it would be impossible for him to win the general. Also, Hilary could still trip up and Sanders could be the nominee.

    Either way, if Trump makes it to the general it’s going to be 1980 all over again. I am firmly of the opinion that he can go all the way IF he can get the nomination. Two terms even. And most people would probably remember him well since he’s clearly a centrist.

    Bahnfreund Reply:

    Trump may well turn out to be one of those political figures that nobody could put into the right box until they were in office. And than it was too late. If you are a right wing bigot and vote for Trump on account of his bigotry, you may well get the guy he seemed to be in the 1980s. If you are voting for him because you think he is a centrist at heart you may well get a right wing bigot. Who knows?

    Alan Reply:

    The problem with national polls, of course, at this stage of the game is that they really don’t mean much. Primaries are retail politics, state by state. The polls in each individual state give a somewhat better indicators. For example, at this moment Cruz leads Trump in Iowa in some polls. I’d love to see that happen, just for the fun of watching The Donald sputter and spin things the morning after the Iowa caucuses.

    There’s also been a lot of talk that the Republican leadership has rigged their convention rules in such a way that the candidate with the majority of delegates may not be the nominee. If that’s true, their convention might actually be fun to watch.

    Aarond Reply:

    Trump has already said he will support whoever the GOP puts up at their candidate. Also, it’s pretty clear it’s all rigged given how Ron Paul got screwed over twice. Fox News played a huge role in smothering his campaign, hence why the TP turned to the Internet so early on.

    Anyway, as long as the GOP do not run Jeb they have a serious shot. Jeb will not win, period. Everyone knows he has no chance in a general. Trump himself will be happy as long as Jeb drops out first (nothing better than humiliating the former governor of Florida, right?). As for Trump, if he shows himself to be serious I don’t see the GOP sinking him. He’s basically what they want, a centrist that is very good at lying to people (especially the TP). It’s unorthodox, but why not pair him up with Cruz?

    I’m not endorsing Trump, to be clear. I’m just fascinated by him at the moment, I’m really curious to see if he can make it to the nomination.

    synonymouse Reply:

    The American right is way too large an ideological tent to remain the way it is. What’s holding it together right now is dissatisfaction with the current liberal government and its functionaries.

    The religious faithful can get along with Main St. and the Tea Party but will always be uncomfortable with the Wall St. mainstream repubs. Wall St. is heavily into vice, which is enormously profitable. Those greedheads would have no problem with selling body parts, no matter where they came from, especially if it meant keeping moguls like Buffett alive longer.

    Bahnfreund Reply:

    Citizens United and the Winner takes all voting system will ensure that right wing economic populism stays a fringe movement.

  8. Roland
    Dec 23rd, 2015 at 11:34
    #8

    Talking of CNN, this is H-I-L-A-R-I-O-U-S: http://www.cnn.com/2015/12/23/politics/amtrak-spending-sightseeing/index.html

    Aarond Reply:

    The irony is that for all the talk of a “soviet style train system”, it stays alive because conservative, often GOP, districts will not tolerate a reduction in it’s service. Amtrak’s core problem is that it’s built to satiate flyover states. Of course, that’s also the only reason it still exists in the first place.

    And for all the talk of spending on Amtrak, nobody (aside from transit-minded liberals and fringe Tea Partiers) seems to notice our Interstate system’s massive cost.

    Trentbridge Reply:

    Amtrak long-distance trains run with decades-old equipment on tracks maintained by railroads that want it to die…and Congress gives it enough funding to limp along ($1.45 billion FY16) without any serious attempt to upgrade either the equipment or the infrastructure. It’s the equivalent of buying annual tech support for a corporation using original 1981 IBM PCs with an Intel 8088 chip inside.

    Aarond Reply:

    I’m not against using old equipment though as long as it’s reliable. Amtrak’s existing rolling stock could operate up to 80 mph, up to 100 mph with PTC. It’s certainly not ideal compared to modern systems abroad, but assuming the track itself could obtain modernization then the fullest capacity of existing equipment could be utilized. The existing track has capacity issues with Class 1s, along with century-old loops and mountain passes.

    I mean, HSR in the US doesn’t need to be 200 mph EMUs running from SF to Chicago by 2030. Even just *consistent* 100 mph service, using existing rolling stock, would be a huge improvement over what we have currently and would pave development for modernization.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    Even with 200 mph average speed between Chicago an San Francisco people would fly. There’s nothing west of I-35, roughly, that makes sense to connect except Phoenix-Los Angeles-San Francisco and maybe Vancouver BC to Portland OR.

    JimInPollockPines Reply:

    agreed. hsr is probably best for travel within regions such as the NEC, CA and TX, and maybe between regions where the population is extreme – maybe great lakes – NEC or Florida- NEC

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    Half the people in the country live east of Indianaopolis. Roughly. the place where it’s one quarter, one quarter, one quarter and one quarter is a bit southwest of there. East of I-35 there’s place worth stopping at every 100 miles or so. Or less.

    JimInPollockPines Reply:

    I wonder if people in Cincinnati need to go to Indianapolis really quickly and vice versa. And why…..

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    To get to and from Chicago? Probably to get to and from Saint Louis too. The people from Columbus can use the same tracks. And the people in Cleveland who want to get to Saint Louis or vice versa.

    Brian_FL Reply:

    Your comment is why I sometimes hate contributing here. It shows a certain arrogance and smugness. Why wouldn’t someone want to travel between Indy and Cincinnati faster and cheaper without using a car? Is this just a California thing? Why the presumption that the people that live between NYC and California don’t desire the same benefits of high(er) speed rail?

    This blog really is getting tiresome. With what is happening in the midwest, Texas and here in Florida you would think that you guys in California would at least recognize that there are important rail projects happening besides CA HSR. But, please do go on with the mindless Tejon versus Palmdale arguments…

    JimInPollockPines Reply:

    I have nothing against the Midwest and in fact Chicago is my 2nd favorite city after boston. IT wasn’t an anti Midwest comment. (I was picking on cincinatti though in particular because I remember it being in the news for its stance onso called “immorality”) ( And pittsburg, Cleveland and Kansas city are all places I want to visit soon)

    As for Californians – its ingrained in the culture.

    synonymouse Reply:

    @ Brian

    I do not think there are any “important rail projects happening besides CA HSR”. What happens if hsr in Texas and Fla. bomb? Could go down that way.

    Columbus cannot even get a streetcar. Cleveland is contracting. SEPTA seems to always be on the brink.

    How about we give these exorbitant infrastructure megapojects to the rich people to actually design not just wave or waive thru? Let’s let the Zuck decide if he prefers PalmdaleRail or not. Musk would not touch it. Too dumb and politicized.

    Bahnfreund Reply:

    The standard S-Bahn trains in Germany are capable of 100 mp/h. And they could be bought at bargain rates even before the end of their design lives. The problem are the freight railroads that don’t maintain the rails and unwillingness of all levels of government to invest in infrastructure

    Tokkyu40 Reply:

    Vancouver to Portland and San Francisco to San Diego are close enough that once the initial segments are done they can be profitably connected.
    The same with Miami to Atlanta and Boston to Richmond, giving you a line down each coast.
    LA to Tucson is a high traffic corridor with a large anchor population at each end, and from the coast to Chicago and St. Louis. Once the line is established to St. Louis it’s a short jump through Memphis or KC to reach the mega-region in Central Texas, then 125mph DMU service can be established from DFW to Tucson down the I-20 corridor through Abilene, Midland and El Paso.
    This would give us a basic national service that would produce strong economic benefits with a chance to earn back the operating costs.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    It’s nearly 600 miles from Portland to Sacramento with a whole lot of nothing in between.

    Danny Reply:

    SoCal-Vancouver trips would be about 10 hours (HSR to Sacramento, DMU Starlight to Eugene)–all they’d replace would be red-eye flights

    Robert S. Allen Reply:

    adirondacker: Nothing in between – except mountains (between Redding and Eugene).
    But it’s a beautiful, restful ride on #11/14

    Kind of like between northern and southern California.

    J. Wong Reply:

    Restful because it’s at night in both directions!

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    Wikipedia says Shasta County, Redding’s Metropolitan Statistical Area, had a population of 177,223 at the 2010 Census. The Eugene-Springfield Metropolitan Statistical Area had 351,715. Almost anything you can pick, east of I-35, has more people closer together.

    Alan Reply:

    You assume that all passengers on the long-distance trains travel from end-point to end-point, and you’re wrong. Amtrak’s own statistics prove it.

    How many people drive I-80 all the way from the Bay Bridge to the Hudson River? Damned few, I’d guess. The vast majority–probably 99+ percent–make far shorter trips on I-80 (or any other I-state). But using your argument, I-80 shouldn’t be funded.

    In reality, the long-distance trains each compose a huge number of short-distance corridors, and do so far more economically than the so-called “Essential Air Service”.

    Danny Reply:

    that’s what got me so pissed about Alfred Twu’s cheap fantasy that got all the attention: nobody’s going to take the bullet train CA-IL by means of CO! even NOLA would only connect to TX (sometime in the 2040s?); there’s not gonna be HSR lines extending west of Lincoln, NE, or Birmingham, AL–just the Edmonton-Calgary, Ft Collins-Puebo, and Phoenix-Tucson supercommuter lines

    one scheme was to use HSR operating profits to fund Amtrak improvements to bring it up to, say, Bulgarian standards (heck, the rails themselves are cheap once you got the ROW)

    Alon Levy Reply:

    This is exactly a socialist-style system: service levels are decided based on political reasons rather than economic ones, leading to too much service to areas with few users and too little to areas with many users.

    I dislike the expression Soviet-style, but only because it primes people in the first world to think about the authoritarian aspects of Soviet communism, which are also shared with perfectly capitalist states (Singapore, China, Turkey, junta-era Latin America) and not about the socialist aspects, which are also shared with democracies that ran public services into the ground (License Raj-era India, Mapai-era Israel, PASOK- and now Syriza-era Greece, and, specific to rail infrastructure, the US and pre-privatization Japan).

    Joe Reply:

    Economic based decisions sound serious but are not. It produces optimal profit. There’s no requirement to balance service with human need. Not a good idea for a public service.

    Political at least provides better inclusion of non monetary needs. They are also are important.

    Joey Reply:

    It’s hard to argue that prioritizing flyover territory over dense corridors caters to “human need.” Maybe political need but not human need.

    JimInPollockPines Reply:

    political need is derived from human need. well actually none of this is need. all of it is want. and humans in iowa want stuff just like humans in florida want stuff. you could also argue to do nothing and let things get so unpleasant that people stop cramming themselves on top of each and find other options where its less congested. people do self regulate that way. If the commute on the 10 from IE to LA is too unbearable, eventually some people say forget it and move to Oregon.
    And if people in north Dakota can get a thing they want via their representation, then good for them alls fair.
    And the prgressives also need to stop deriding the non urban coastal folks. I expect the conservatives to be nasty and divisive. The liberals are suppose to embrace everyone. We can’t drag the country further into divisiveness if one side just refuses to play. I expect the left to take the high road because I was brought up with the idea that that is what the left stands for. at least it used to.

    Joey Reply:

    It’s not deriding, just numbers in the face of finite resources. If you can provide 10 people with bad service or 9 people with good service, which do you choose?

    Joe Reply:

    Numbers like each state gets two senators regardless of population.

    Public services like mail is flat rate.

    System is not democratic, it is a democrstic republic and serves both large and small population centers.

    Bahnfreund Reply:

    Well a system like that gets you a Berlin – Munich route that goes through Erfurt, even though that makes no sense. Or Amtrak that serves minuscule places in the neck of the woods. A system like that of France gets you “gare de bettesraves” along many a line but travel times between big cities that are hard to beat. Pick one. You can’t get both.

    synonymouse Reply:

    You forgot Bechtel-era BART and now PB-era.

  9. Reedman
    Dec 23rd, 2015 at 11:54
    #9

    Since the topic is party politics: the latest Census figures came out on Tuesday, and updated reapportionment predictions for 2020 have now been made. A prediction based on Tuesday’s numbers (somehow eight seats are ‘gained’ but nine seats are ‘lost’):

    Texas is projected to clinch three more House seats, and Florida, a gainer of two seats. Arizona, North Carolina, Colorado and are all poised to grab one seat.

    Nine states are projected to lose districts: Alabama, Illinois, Michigan, Minnesota, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island and West Virginia.

  10. les
    Dec 24th, 2015 at 08:22
    #10

    Bertha is back at it. A job as a worm hole digger has got to be one of the most bizarre occupations.
    http://www.seattletimes.com/seattle-news/transportation/bertha-ready-to-burrow-in-early-january/

    Zorro Reply:

    Yep, no stopping Big Bad Bertha, not forever at least, and not until the job is done. :)

  11. morris brown
    Dec 24th, 2015 at 12:35
    #11

    Here is a pretty nice description of just some of the issues with the HSR project.

    ———–
    http://www.jdsupra.com/legalnews/public-projects-in-turmoil-the-saga-of-51110/

    California High-Speed Rail Or A Slow Train To Nowhere?

    In 2008, California voters barely approved $9.95 billion in bond funding for an 800-mile high-speed train network under Proposition 1A. The Argument in Favor of Prop 1A on the ballot stated:

    Proposition 1A will bring Californians a safe, convenient, affordable, and reliable alternative to soaring gasoline prices, freeway congestion, rising airfares, plummeting airline service, and fewer flights available.

    It will reduce California’s dependence on foreign oil and reduce greenhouse gases that cause global warming.

    [It]…will relieve 70 million passenger trips a year that now clog California’s highways and airports—WITHOUT RAISING TAXES.

    Proposition 1A will save time and money. Travel from Los Angeles to San Francisco in about 2½ hours for about $50 a person. With gasoline prices today, a driver of a 20-miles-per-gallon car would spend about $87 and six hours on such a trip.

    In retrospect, the time and cost arguments in favor of the high-speed train network are unrealistic. Take, for instance, the cost of about $50 a person. Amtrak fares from Oakland to Los Angeles currently range from $50 to $107 for a trip that takes about twelve hours on a system using old train technology. Moreover, according to the High Speed Rail Authority (HSRA) website, the system currently has 12 stations list but up to 24 possible.

    The Los Angeles Times wrote an article on May 11, 2015 that stated: “Louis Thompson, chairman of a state-created review panel for the bullet train project, said California’s projected fares are low by world standards. Thompson’s panel is pressing the state to clarify how fares and other key business decisions will be made in the future.” The article reviewed “bullet” train prices in other areas of the country and overseas and found the HSRA’s projected fare of about 20 cents per mile are somewhere around 50% less than other operations, which are running up to 50 cents per mile.

    The article continued to say: “The train will lose money and require a subsidy,” said Joseph Vranich, former president of the national High-Speed Rail Association. “I have not seen a single number that has come out of the California high-speed rail organization that is credible. As a high-speed rail advocate, I am steamed.”

    In another article appearing March 27, 2014 in the Los Angeles Times: “Regularly scheduled service on California’s bullet train system will not meet anticipated trip times of two hours and 40 minutes between Los Angeles and San Francisco, and are likely to take nearly a half-hour longer, a state Senate committee was told Thursday.”

    On December 9, 2014, the Sacramento Business Times ran a story reviewing the obstacles faced by the High Speed Rail Authority, including land acquisition, train contracts, cap-and-trade funding, lawsuits, and the route through the Tehachapis to Palmdale, which has been described as a “difficult, complex engineering problem” by a peer review group.

    The lawsuit could turn out badly for High Speed Rail Authority (HSRA). The HSRA has already beat back one challenge but this one remains. According to the lawsuit, the HSRA plan does not live up to Prop 1A’s billing because there is no way the train will be able to zip passengers from San Francisco to Los Angeles in just more than two and a half hours. According to a Fresno Bee article on August 3, 2015: “The Central Valley residents bringing suit say the advertised travel time is impossible given the mountainous terrain and the fact that the system includes up to 24 stations.” The case is set for trial on February 11, 2016.

    The project was billed as affordable but the cost has more than doubled to $68 billion and it is inevitable that taxpayers will end up footing the bill. According to an article on November 22, 2015 in the Sacramento Bee, “outside experts estimate the final cost could be $93 billion.”

    Despite the challenges, construction of Phase One of the project has already started and was widely mocked as the “train to nowhere.” “CP 1” as it is known is a 29-mile stretch between Madera County and Fresno County and is expected to wrap up 2017. The CP 1 design-build contract was awarded to Tutor-Perini/Zachry/Parsons (TPZP), a Joint Venture.

    Nobody has a clear understanding when the system will be complete and fully operational between San Francisco and Los Angeles. The most optimistic estimate seems to be 2029.

    This article is part of the Haight Brown & Bonesteel “Top Ten Stories in California Construction Law” Series.

    Joe Reply:

    same old same old.

    Zorro Reply:

    $9.95 Billion is a down payment(ballotpedia), of the $9.95 Billion, $9 billion is for HSR, the $950 Million is for transit that interfaces with HSR in CA, the total cost was an Estimate, since no contracts were made at the time and Construction is now being done on CP1 and on CP2-3 at the same time.

    There I fixed some of your lies of omission Morris.

    Lewellan Reply:

    I plan to open a 30-year old Pinor Noir, been saving for a good occassion, Woodburne Washington ’84 vintage. Not that my life has reached a main moment great day pinocle; just the opposite for the Seattle work, my worst fears playing out.

    Question after viewing “Filling in the access pit” on YouTube. Consider:
    Will the massive concrete cap ‘weight’ create new and increased fracture potential?
    I’m telling you guys, Plan B for Bertha could fix it.

    So I’m opening the bottle as a last resort; celebrating CALIFORNIA high-speed rail with MERCED ‘designated’ 1st Phase terminus caveat; to sustain debate over greater Altamont demand, need, sustainable redevelopment/infill potential, TODs; addresses worse traffic problem, provides all-day service over rush hours only minor improvement, etc. Altamont is STILL on the Front Burner.
    CAHSR is looking good by my perspective, planning philosophy and practice.

    And here’s to Talgo hybrid/electric trip tip ideas to SLC/Denver, past National Park nightovers
    under the stars. And the OREGON side of the Columbia Gorge. Imagine connecting
    Portland/Denver to SLC then LV to LA. Dual-mode Talgo XXI potential. Wow
    Cheers to Night Stop evenings under the National Park stars. Have a good year

  12. keith saggers
    Dec 24th, 2015 at 17:26
    #12
  13. jimsf
    Dec 24th, 2015 at 20:05
    #13

    everyone must be at home waiting for santa.

  14. jimsf
    Dec 24th, 2015 at 23:54
    #14

    I just spent three hours reading the comments sections of some right wing blogs. Wow. I hope my insurance will cover the lobotomy I’m going to need now.

    Donk Reply:

    You should try going to youtube and searching for “san bernardino shooting”. Almost all of the hits you get are videos that try to show how the shooting was a hoax concocted by the gumbit to create an excuse for obama to come to your house and take yer guns. Amazing.

    Danny Reply:

    like the dozens of other shootings that resulted in no action whatever! for the love of all that is good and beautiful, don’t Google “crisis actor”

    BTW there’s a whole town in Central California where all residents but one are Alex Jones cultists

    JimInPollockPines Reply:

    Which is crazy because Obama to my knowledge has done zero on gun control. That said, the dems should give up the gun control debate. I think people should have guns if they want them. The dems lose too many blue collar votes when they go against guns. They should stick to jobs and wages.

    les Reply:

    Obama has done zilch on “liberal issues” since the house and senate have become controlled by the right.

    JimInPollockPines Reply:

    Well he did the affordable care act he got rid of defense of marriage and got rid of don’t ask don’t tell.
    That’s more than any president in my lifetime has done on issues that matter to me. So Im good.

    The problem with Obama is that americans don’t respond well to his style. Hes slow and steady and patient and thoughtful.

    les Reply:

    Affordable care act pre-dated repub control of two chambers.

    JimInPollockPines Reply:

    The most important thing he needs to get done in his last year is a big infrastructure spending bill. A major bridge fixing bill since all the bridges are going to start falling down soon.

    Bahnfreund Reply:

    I think there is a possibly impossible thing to ask. Getting such a thing passed would be a huge win for Obama. And that’s the only reason the right wing needs to reject it.

    JimInPollockPines Reply:

    Im not sure why liberals want to take away peoples guns. I don’t know why that’s an issue.
    I understand the quest for universal health care and the freedom for women to have an abortion. I understand expanding rights and increasing freedom. But both sides seem to only care about increasing their own freedom but taking away other peoples freedom. I expect those on the right to be bossy and wanna tell people what to do, but now the left wants to start monitoring expression. Its disappointing and dangerous. The left should always stand for the most freedom for the most people to do and say as much as they want with as little restriction as possible. If I want someone to tell me what speech I can use, and what flags I can fly, I can vote for a right wing Christian.

    synonymouse Reply:

    The enforcement class want to take away the citizenry’s guns because it makes it easier to “enforce”, especially if a junta should resolve to overturn a “popular” government with an iron fist. I suggest viewing “La Lengua de las Mariposas”.

    Consider the opinion of King George, the Court, and the British army about the colonists’ right to bear arms.

    JimInPollockPines Reply:

    yeh that’s not gonna happen. its not in anyones best interest. owning guns is irrelevant to stopping such a thing. no one would put up with it least of all the military rank and file.

    synonymouse Reply:

    They claimed Allende was a suicide; I don’t believe it, but at least he had the option instead of being tortured and then murdered.

    Think about Rommel; how far did his resistance get and he was a war hero at the top.

    JimInPollockPines Reply:

    ok im gonna tell you what I tell my cat… get of the table and stop acting all crazy.

    synonymouse Reply:

    It is not crazy to the cat. I assure it has a plan.

    JimInPollockPines Reply:

    yes well the cat also see things that aren’t there.

    synonymouse Reply:

    Schrodinger’s cat

    Bahnfreund Reply:

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FxKkD2VX-Jc that’s On Obama and guns…

    Zorro Reply:

    Unless ones committed a crime a assault weapons ban does not confiscate, only prohibit the sales of new assault weapons, existing owners who want to sell theirs, have to sell them out of state under CA law.

    Joe Reply:

    Assault rifles are for killing people. What use does a civilian person have to discharge that weapon in an urban setting? The answer is to open carry a loaded weapon at Starbucks.

    Donk Reply:

    There are three reasons to take away guns: one is to reduce urban gun violence, two is to reduce massacres, and three has something to do with the Synomouse said. I would guess that the urban minority portion of the democratic party is more interested in reducing urban gun violence, and the limousine liberal side of the democratic party (and most others) is more interested in reducing mass murder/school shootings.

    The urban gun violence people seem to want ALL guns taken away, and this is just not going to happen. The people who want to stop mass shootings want to eliminate “assault weapons”. Problem is that neither group is particularly knowledgeable about gun laws and realities, and the urban gun violence crowd who wants all guns banned muddies the message for the ones who want to just reduce mass shootings. When Obama stands up and talks about urban gun violence, he totally loses any shot at passing legislation. The focus needs to be on mass shootings, not urban gun violence.

    Joe Reply:

    Donk

    Over simplified charactures of urban and “limo liberals” (wtf is that anyway but a derogatory term for those with 100k+ salaries.

    Try quoting a somewhat notable person’s political position where they want all guns are removed. I know of none.

    Seems to be a NRA propaganda repackaged.

    synonymouse Reply:

    Are you going to take away the government’s guns?

    StevieB Reply:

    Ask Australia how they took away guns

    John Nachtigall Reply:

    They passed a law making them illegal and then they did a mandatory seizure which compensated people for the cost.

    Which was possible because they don’t have a 2nd amendment providing a fundamental federal right to own firearms, as confirmed by the Supreame Court in 2 recent cases.

    To do the same in the US simply requires an amendment to the Constitution. I believe the requirements for amendment are in the document if you desire to initiate the process

    Bahnfreund Reply:

    The second Amendment is the most unfortunate example in history of just how much damage unclear wording can do.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    The wording is moderately clear. It’s just that some people choose to ignore the part about “well regulated militia”.

    Bahnfreund Reply:

    Precisely.

    Donk Reply:

    I absolutely am oversimplifying it. But it is also a valid point. I don’t know of any politician who specifically has supported taking away all guns, but I would guess that about 1/2 of democrats talk about doing this and think it is a reasonable position to have. Obama talks about urban gun violence in the same speeches when he talks about mass shootings. While he is not asking to remove all guns, this clearly muddies the message.

    Look at the NRA’s position: They switch back and forth between referencing mass shootings and urban violence/regular criminals when trying to support their point. If the national dialogue was only about guns in relation to mass shootings and not in other contexts, it would be easier to move the ball forward.

    https://www.nraila.org/articles/20140617/ten-reasons-why-states-should-reject-assault-weapon-and-large-magazine-bans

    joe Reply:

    Assault rifles limitations are not gun bans. The US Supreme Court along ago banned the sale of Thompson Machine guns under the 2nd Ad. What’s changed?

    How do we move the ball forward toward what goal post ?

    That Dems/Liberals/the other want to take away everyones guns is NRA propaganda and whips up the guns nuts to buy and hoard more guns. Repeating it is part of the problem.

    You can buy a gun easier than boarding an airplane. You can bring a real gun into a theater but not a toy blaster and mask. Mental illness does’t disqualify a gun sale.

    I want guns on HSR treated as they are on airplanes when I ride HSR, that is no open carry or carrying concealed or loaded gun on the train.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    The only people who talk about the gubbermint taking away all guns are the ones who watched Red Dawn too many times.

    John Nachtigall Reply:

    Gun deaths are 1/2 what they where in the 80s even with the mass shootings. Simply put, per capita, righ now gun deaths are at a low point. Why change the policy now?

    Aarond Reply:

    It’s not so much what Obama has done, but what Eric Holder does. Holder, who directs the ATF, has done several things to annoy shooters such as *considering* reclassification of surplus m855 ammunition as “armor piercing”, which leads to shooter panic buying and prices skyrocketing. The ATF has also reclassified some 12ga flares as “destructive devices” which is causing headaches within the maritime community that is required to have them for transoceanic voyages. Obama also banned ammo imports from Russia as per the larger sanctions against them.

    As a result Obama is probably the best gun salesmen to exist, ever. Perception is everything.

    JimInPollockPines Reply:

    I will say the cuckoo-clock-right appears to be at least l.5 x kookier than the kookoo-for-coco-puffs left. They also have a harder time with spelling and they over use caps more often. They also have an inflated sense of how “informed” they are and they are much more prone to preschool-level name calling than the left. I mean they basically come across as idiots. Now I made a deal with a young leftie co worker that I would go ahead and vote for Bernie in the primary as long as her and her young lefty friends would get their lazy behinds to the polls and vote for whichever dem is chosen. If they don’t vote, a republican could very well win. I can live with Trump or Bush but can they? Cruz worries me.

    Aarond Reply:

    >I will say the cuckoo-clock-right appears to be at least l.5 x kookier than the kookoo-for-coco-puffs left.

    That’s only because the most insane left doesn’t even identify as “left”, the most I see online slap some sort of warped notion of communism over themselves instead. Such as the character “Ahuviya Harel”. Most far-far-far right wingers are usually just carbon copies of their parents or great grandparents, who grew up in a different era.

    Danny Reply:

    thank you so bloody much of reminding me of Ahuviya Harel: the situation’s like Kim Jong-il crossed with the sickest brony you can imagine

    Bahnfreund Reply:

    Well there IS Antisemitism on the Left. And trust me its every bit as disgusting as Antisemitism on the right…

    Aarond Reply:

    If you’re curious to know, after the Sandy Hook shooting the popular online retailer cheaper than dirt canceled all their AR15 kit gun orders, and then relisted them for 5x the price. This is why CTD is a four letter word on most rightwing forums, because they fueled the panic buying and profited enormously over it.

    Also, the nationwide .22lr shortage made enemies out of otherwise content forums. Basically, people would walk into Walmart at 2-3 am once they got their shipment and buy it all and then resell it for 5x the price. If you want know what pure hate looks like, check rightwing various forums for “22lr selling cheap shortage obama” etc.

  15. John Nachtigall
    Dec 25th, 2015 at 06:27
    #15

    Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year to all on this board.

    Aarond Reply:

    you too

  16. Zorro
    Dec 25th, 2015 at 07:27
    #16

    @John Nachtigall: Not when the fwys become parking lots w/lots of idling cars that belch polluting CO2 and water, plus there is an increasing population, CA is straining at 38 million and you say that the: “current transportation system is working just fine with no passenger rail” I say that is bunk, the current system is at its limits and so no growth in fwys is not in the cards, HSR is or are you chicken???

    synonymouse Reply:

    Muni has “…parking lots w/lots of idling cars[buses] that belch polluting CO2 and water…”

    Zorro Reply:

    Good catch, but then a busted clock is right twice a day.

    John Nachtigall Reply:

    The current systems works every day all day right now. And as CA grows the system is growing, There are traffic jams…so what. When it snows and there is bad weather the airlines get backed up…so what. The economy is growing with the current system and there is no evidence that transportation is ten factor that limits growth

    Joe Reply:

    Alfred E. Newman.

    http://www.fresnobee.com/news/local/article49387305.html

    California’s roads crisis: Long neglected maintenance is now urgent and expensive

    State Senate says 68 percent of roads are in poor or mediocre condition

    Joe Reply:

    It also said the cost for all of the unfunded repairs identified by state and local officials in the coming decade is about $135 billion.

    Read more here: http://www.fresnobee.com/news/local/article49387305.html#storylink=cpy

    Paul Dyson Reply:

    John N is right, the system is working today. It creaks and groans somewhat and is overloaded at times but it struggles on. The question is surely about tomorrow. The population and therefore the economy continues to grow. How will we handle that growth? Already there are locations in N LA County, Orange County and San Diego where there are 16 lanes of freeway. Continuing to expand that system is an option, and is still the default. HSR represents a choice that, if well executed, should be better in certain applications. The execution to date has been poor, with foolish decisions as to where to begin. All may not be lost, but it is slip-sliding away.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    The first Interstate highway was started in Kansas. Or Missouri.
    The Pennsylvania Turnpike opened in 1940. Didn’t quite make it to Pittsburgh or Harrisburg. It didn’t reach Ohio and the Ohio Turnpike until 1954 or the Delaware River and New Jersey until 1956. It still doesn’t directly connect to I-95.

    Joe Reply:

    The system is 135b in over due repairs. Commutes take hours and housing near jobs is unaffordable.

    John Nachtigall Reply:

    Paul, thanks for getting my argument. But those 16 lanes going to 20 will not be stopped by HSR, those trips are local.

    Honestly, local public mass transit would be a much better use of money for the future. Looking at NYC as an example where subways allow people to live with no compromise without a car. HSR does not do that. If it was 80 years ago and we wanted HSR instead of planes…yes, I could buy that. That is what China is doing, that is not a bad choice. But the US is big and airports are within driving distance of the vast vast majority of citizens, it’s just not worth the capital now.

    synonymouse Reply:

    They can expand the freeways to 50 lanes – that’s one of the meanings of sprawl. What is the difference between a freeway and a highrise? It is called “growth”.

    Go back and read newspapers from the 19th century. They were bitching about bad roads. Automobiles can drive on crappy roads so long as it is not throwing up rocks.

    In most places there are more autos than roads. The use factor is very high. Compare that to a few subsidized trains rattling over the Cheerleaders’ Loop Line Redux a day. Use of freeways does not require Jerry’s house union guys itching to go on strike. In France the socialist government is ramping up for a conflict with the “cheminots”, aka rail unions, over work rules and compensation. The riders are going to love those strikes.

    John Nachtigall Reply:

    Which you have to pay no matter what. HSR does not replace any on that, it is just added cost

    Joe Reply:

    Keep digging a deep hole is your solution. Build with more and fatter highways because that’s “efficient”

    HSR moves part of the state transit system from highway to rail which means we have that much less burden to maintain.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    But but we’ve been building more highways since the 20s, after the road was paved anyway, for congestion relief. It should work any decade now.

    Joe Reply:

    I get the sarcasm. Johns a hole digger and his digging more holes to fill the old ones.

    I’m not a civil engineer but from what I read a HW road like the 495 has to be rebuild from the foundations up every 25-30 or so years. That’s the life cycle. Delay, our current maintenance approach,worsens the repair problem in terms of cost. And we know the repair costs per vehicle can be in the hundreds per year.

    I’ve seen rail beds rebuild and it’s all done with a few specialized machines. New ties, rails and reworded ballast. These seem to have a longer and leas costly lifecycle.

    In the Dakotas, the maintenance solution is to chew up the crumbling pavement, into gravel. That is they are abandoning paved roads.

    synonymouse Reply:

    It was paving the road that killed the Rio Grande’s San Juan Extension. I remember trying to go from Antonito to Chama in the summer of 1960. We only got a few miles in the ‘Chevy – the rocks were just slamming up. Maybe if you had military grade vehicles.

  17. J. Wong
    Dec 25th, 2015 at 17:46
    #17

    Yeah, no, pretty clear it is not going to be Jeb. One of Trump, Cruz, or Rubio. Any of which will lose to Clinton although Rubio would likely do the best against her.

    synonymouse Reply:

    Mitt could conceivably beat Hillary, who could not even handle State.

    J. Wong Reply:

    Clinton seemed to handle State just fine. What are you talking about?

    synonymouse Reply:

    Could not even comprehend Libya. And then covered up painfully incompetently.

    les Reply:

    Oh yes the mythological “Cover up” created by the republicans.
    http://www.dailynewsbin.com/news/cia-confirms-republican-benghazi-committee-is-lying-about-hillary-clinton/22865/

    Danny Reply:

    they mean 2011, back when we were told it’d be a 6-month war and bring a shining democracy to the Mideast: Clinton bragging about foreign-policy experience is like Christie bragging about his experience in infrastructure

    Bahnfreund Reply:

    Christie would be a disaster for rail. More so because he is actually reasonable and open to compromise on many other issues…

    Aarond Reply:

    Trump could easily beat Hilary. He’d spout off patriot one-liners and insults while Hilary just stands there confused, trying to come off as a moderate while he hammers her over NAFTA (yes, I’m aware that Bill was responsible for it, but facts have little meaning in a TV debate). He’s got the name recognition too so people who don’t watch the debates will just select his name by default.

    Of course, this assumes he could make it through the primaries in the first place.

    Miles Bader Reply:

    Trump would be massacred in a direct match against Hilary (for a U.S. presidential election definition of “massacred,” e.g. 55% to 45%).

    For all the loud teapublican nutters screaming Trump right now, when it comes down to actually selecting the president, there are enough in-the-end-sensible conservatives that would hold their noses and vote for Hilary, who’s infinitely more experienced, smarter, and yes, presidental, than Trump. They may be conservative, but they’re not nuts.

    Aarond Reply:

    That’s where I disagree: centrists voted for Dubya, McCain and Romney while TPers didn’t vote for the latter two since the GOP Politburo snubbed Ron Paul in 2008 and 2012. If centrists are willing to vote for the likes of Reagan, Dubya, or Schwarzenegger, they’ll vote for Trump.

    “Smartness” and “professionalism” has nothing to do with it. It’s straight up populism, and Trump is telling people what they want to hear. Don’t underestimate him, and don’t underestimate is ability to get elected. All he needs is the -R next to his name on the ballot form.

    synonymouse Reply:

    Trump would be stopped in the same manner as the French political class are trying to stop Marin Le Pen.

    But what does it matter? LBJ did a similar number on Goldwater – the Dr. Strangelove scenario – and turned right around and launched the Vietnam War.

    Hillary, like liberals in general, cannot believe that islamicists really hate them. Hers would be a very troubled presidency. My guess is one term, like Jimmy Carter.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    Democrat administrations actually catch Islamic terrorists.

    Aarond Reply:

    An FN style thing isn’t possible here, because FN was only “stopped” due to the other parties engaging in a coalition. Here in the US, it’s either Republican or Democrat. And, after eight years of Obama, Americans aren’t exactly satisfied with the DNC and aren’t looking to vote for more of it. The GOP have the high ground going into 2016, and Trump especially so due to his name brand.

    But you are right on what a hilary presidency would look like, it would ultimately just be four years of gridlock until the GOP either obtain a supermajority, or the presidency.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    I’m sure you thought Mitt was gonna win in landslide too.

    JimInPollockPines Reply:

    I think if trump is the nominee against hillary, hillary will probably win but I think it will be closer than expected. I think it will be more like 49/51. I see trump bumperstickers (trumperstickers?)everyday but other than my car, I have seen zero for hillary. I also see a lot “worst president ever” stickers(obama)
    I don’t know how much northern california represents the country but I sure don’t think norcal is more conservative than the rest of the country. It is still california after all.

    all these folks are so angry and so unhappy with obama and I can’t figure out why. I mean we have a nice recovery going on, low unemployment in california, low gas prices, no real inflation, and the housing market has bounced back.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    They are unhappy because he’s not a Dixiecrat that ran on the Republican ticket.

    Joey Reply:

    There’s no need to guess, really. Of course, things can change a lot in a year, but these sorts of polls are probably the best indicator you will get.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    This time of year in 2007 weren’t people saying “who? From Illinois?”
    This time of year in 2011 weren’t people saying “Mitt doesn’t have a chance”?

    Aarond Reply:

    People don’t like Obama mostly because Obama isn’t a good speaker or communicator. He plays well against other liberals, but to regular Americans he comes off as both aloof and snooty.

    The larger issue is that people in the US are afraid of globalization now. The Tea Party exists because the GOP did not address concerns in regards to it. After storming the GOP, the TPers attention turned to the Democrats. This is where I get frustrated: in a better world, Obama would had realized this and adjusted his policy.

    He would not have had half the gridlock he did if he just let states opt-out of the ACA. Sure, some people would get burned by that, but the advantage would come from a less aggressive Congress. He could had even done opt-outs for things like medicare or medicaid, or social security. Why should I care if states like Alabama or Iowa decide they’re too good for my tax money? There’d also be a net savings in the federal budget, which would have greased the skids between the President and Congress.

    Instead, that didn’t happen. Obama tampered with everyone’s healthcare (even if it helped them, it’s still tampering), while he made stupid comments in regards to the Zimmerman fiasco (which, let’s get real, is completely beneath the President and he never had any place to comment on). Holder screwing with ammo regulations pissed people off too. The EPA also now banned regular gascan nozzles, and there’s the lightbulb ban. Meanwhile, unionism continues to fade so his most reliable voters are now busy wondering if they’re still going to have jobs, and when they express this other liberals tell them to “get a real job that can’t be automated” or something like that.

    He himself didn’t do anything bad, but the presentation he gave turned half the country off. The larger shift of the DNC away from bread-and-butter unionism to neoliberalism does not help either. And that’s why people outside of socially liberal areas dislike him.

    JimInPollockPines Reply:

    yep that really sums it up very well.

    Joe Reply:

    So basically he’s uppity and enacted the policies he ran his campaign, health reform and saved autoworker union jobs.

    Aarond Reply:

    Joe: On the right, he alienated many conservatives with the ACA, which itself was originally a GOP plan. Had he just let states opt out of it, he could had avoided that battle entirely. The little, trival things from Holder and the EPA then do huge amounts of brand damage to Obama, as that are also attacks on people’s daily routines.

    On the left, he showed himself to be pretty bad at negotiating with Congress and didn’t do much infrastructure investment. But people still held out hope. Then Snowden happened and all the die-hard progressives I know got pissed off. Now Obama is trying to start a ground war against ISIS, which is exactly the opposite of what he said he’d do back in 2007. This will sink Hilary as now she doesn’t have a base of support to draw on since she’s tied into all of this at the hip.

    Again, all of this is *branding*. Obama, politically, is a centrist. But he’s managed to make the right view him as a fascist and the left view him as spineless. On the flip side, Trump is also a centrist but is drawing on nativism to get a large base of support. It’s all public perception.

    JimInPollockPines Reply:

    well Im somewhat worried that the republicans could win. I don’t think so, but it could happen. Dems need big time voter turnout to make sure. Im voting for the candidate who will mandate naps after lunch, and eliminate daylight savings.

    Aarond Reply:

    I’m expecting a (federal) GOP victory in 2016, the DNC cannot win with Hilary. They just can’t, even if she were to somehow get into the White House Congress would remain fully GOP, and we’d get four more years of grldlock until she’s booted in 2020 (which is also a census year). Either the DNC get kicked now or they get kicked in four years. I’d rather it happen in 2016 as it gives them four years to turn themselves around in time for a census-year election. Sacramento will remain Dem through 2018 at least, due to Brown’s influence.

    The smartest thing the GOP did was let Trump eat Jeb. They now have at least a 50/50 shot, more if Trump gets the nomination. And, as much as I dislike Trump for being such an obvious liar, he’s the best out of bad options. Because if he screws up, the GOP gets blamed, and he’s also the only person capable of successfully fighting the Tea Party.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    I’m sure you were expecting Mitt in a landslide too.

    JimInPollockPines Reply:

    I don’t know if it even matters anymore who gets in. Its all becoming very tiresome.

    Aarond Reply:

    ardirondacker12800: No, I did not for the reasons I specified. Especially Ron Paul getting snubbed, that tripped the GOP up bigtime in ’12. Mitt’s healthcare reform as Governor sunk him, since at the time all the GOP cared about was an ACA repeal. He was also a Mormon, which is a no-go for many hardcore Evangelicals. But despite all this, the GOP still made gains in the legislature.

    JimInPollockPines: you are largely right. No matter what happens, the status quo is unlikely to change until the DNC gets their act together. However, a Trump Presidency would be …..memorable.

    Aarond Reply:

    Mitt was a Mormon from New England that passed the original legislation the ACA was modeled on. Or in other words, he managed to alienate both other christian conservatives as well as Tea Partiers (especially since Ron Paul got snubbed hard by Fox News and the GOP during the 2012 primaries).

    Trump, on the other hand, directly appeals to nationalist Tea Partiers, while centrists and libertarians slowly warm up to him. If Trump can go to the general his name brand alone will put him into the White House. He’s an easier sell to low-information voters than than Hilary.

    Also, back in 2012 Snowden’s leaks hadn’t happened yet. I know several die hard liberals that got seriously angry and disenfranchised when Obama didn’t do anything about the NSA. They stayed home in 2014, and will likely stay home in 2016 if Hilary gets the nomination. But the TPers they live around voted in 2014 and will absolutely vote in 2016.

    john burrows Reply:

    In 1964 I was still a Republican, but I voted for Johnson because the idea of a Goldwater presidency was more than scary. We were 2 years beyond the Cuba Missile Crisis where Kennedy managed to thread the needle. Goldwater wanted to use tactical nukes in Vietnam, and to this day I wonder how that would have worked out if he had been president—But what really scared me back in 1964 the thought of what would have happened if it had been President Goldwater and not President Kennedy during the Cuba Missile Crisis.

    I wasn’t the only one worried about Goldwater. Johnson won the popular vote—43 million to 27 million. Democrats won the House—295-140, and the Senate—68-32

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    Even scarier is that Goldwater would denounced as a namby pamby by today’s Republicans. And Nixon would be denounced as a Commie.

    synonymouse Reply:

    Untrue. Rightists of the forties, like Gen. McArthur, J. Edgar Hoover, Joe McCarthy would have been quislings or Petains. The Pope was practically a nazi.

    synonymouse Reply:

    Can you see Rand Paul aiding Pinochet or Videla?

    synonymouse Reply:

    McArthur wanted to nuke China.

    john burrows Reply:

    Good thing it was general Eisenhower and not general MacArthur who became president.

    synonymouse Reply:

    Credit Truman for standing up to MacArthur.

  18. Robert S. Allen
    Dec 25th, 2015 at 22:31
    #18

    2016: Cruz into the White House? HSR to Bay Area ending at San Jose until Caltrain fenced and grade separated? What does the new year hold?

    Zorro Reply:

    HSR will not stop in SJ, HSR will stop at SF and stop down south in LA, as Phase 1 of HSR.

    Roland Reply:

    According to the 2016 “Business Plan”, Phase 1 (79 MPH) “HSR” will start in SJ and end in SF.

    Zorro Reply:

    BS, Phase 1 is supposed to eventually go from SF to LA, though no where does it say, where HSR has to start construction at or in how many pieces of construction has to be done in or where HSR has to start from…

    The 2016 “Business Plan” hasn’t even been published yet, if you have that, how about a link?

    Tokkyu40 Reply:

    HSR slows to conventional speeds consistent with safety as it approaches areas not built to HSR standards, the same as HSR in other countries do.

  19. JimInPollockPines
    Dec 25th, 2015 at 22:57
    #19

    If they are going to cut and cover 2nd street for the dtx why not just make it wide enough for 4 tracks. theres room. 2 for caltrain and two for hsr then nobody gets in anybodys way.

    Joey Reply:

    1) They’re not doing cut and cover – the latest planning documents showed a 3 track NATM (essentially mined manually) tunnel.

    2) There isn’t room for a 4 track cut and cover box under 2nd street – you’d have to take out some buildings

    3) The station throat is going to be much more of a bottleneck than the approach tunnels. If you’re going to try and improve something, start with that.

    JimInPollockPines Reply:

    well if capacity starts to be a probably just have some hsr and caltrains terminate at 4th. With south beach and mission bay growing and with some people headed to neighborhoods other than the financial distric (portero bernal mission) one out every x number of trains can terminate south of downtown.

    Clem Reply:

    Mission Bay is not where the forest of skyscrapers is currently going up. There are obvious demographic patterns that will only become more pronounced in the next decade, which clearly show that terminating any trains short of TTC is not a viable solution and would constitute a failure to meet demand. Capitulation because “the problem is too hard” is not the right strategy.

    Note in passing that every Caltrain to/from Transbay will continue to serve the underground Mission Bay station.

    Jerry Reply:

    Great chart on the demographic patterns along CalTrain. With the humongous building boom in Redwood City and the TOD around Hillsdale and Hayward Park the old 2010 information will look very interesting when updated.

    Roland Reply:

    By “humongous building boom”, do you mean 4,500 homes like this?
    https://vimeo.com/123511499
    http://vta-sprinter.org/blossom-hill-station/

    john burrows Reply:

    And even around Diridon the “wasteland” is disappearing.

    A quick look turned up the following projects completed or under construction this year—

    Centerra——————————————–347 units
    One south Market———————————312
    785 The Alameda———————————-168
    800 W San Carlos———————————315
    The Pierce——————————————-230
    Donner Lofts—————————————-102
    Marshall Square————————————190
    Silvery Towers————————————–643
    TOTAL————————————————2,307 units finished or under construction.

    Add to that at least 18 projects in the planning stage with another 5,200 plus units and 1.25 million sq. ft. of office space and you have what I would call a building boom in the making.

    And from Wikipedia— I was a little surprised at just how much the South Bay has grown since the War.

    Mountain View had a population of 7,000 in 1950—–73,000 in 2014
    Sunnyvale——————————-10,000 in 1950—-143,000 in 2014
    Santa Clara—————————–12,000 in 1950—-120,000 in 2014
    San Jose——————————–95,000 in 1950—1,015,000 in 2014.

    john burrows Reply:

    All of these projects appear to be within 3/4 mile of the train station.

    JimInPollockPines Reply:

    well it would seem not that difficult to get an hsr train in and out in 15 minutes. so if theres an arrival and departure every 15 minutes there should be plenty of capacity.just don’t let them dwell there.

    cant the hsr trains all single file in on the left track and the caltrains single file in on the right track and both of them single file out on the center track. close headways shouldn’t be a problem.

    Joey Reply:

    just don’t let them dwell there.

    Well that’s a key point that seems to escape the people in charge.

    cant the hsr trains all single file in on the left track and the caltrains single file in on the right track and both of them single file out on the center track. close headways shouldn’t be a problem.

    That doesn’t really solve any problems. You still have a crunch at the station throat and then you have another conflict to get the HSR trains onto the leftmost track.

    JimInPollockPines Reply:

    and a caltrain every 15 minutes and an hsr every 15 minutes should be enough capacity to last for decades.

    Joey Reply:

    Caltrain already peaks at 5 tph and needs more capacity. 4 tph HSR is reasonable, but planning for anything less that 8 tph Caltrain would be shortsighted.

    JimInPollockPines Reply:

    does caltrain really need that many trains? why don’t they just run longer trains then. just run a ten car train every 15 minutes.

    Joey Reply:

    Sure they could do that, but remember that CalTrain runs multiple service patterns, and should continue to run at least two going forward. That means that for any given service pattern, you’re waiting half an hour between trains, which is going to put a dent in ridership (alternatively you only have a local service pattern and then service is unacceptably slow, and no, HSR isn’t a substitute for the express – this has been discussed several times but I can list the reasons for this again if you want).

    But really, it shouldn’t be a challenge to accommodate 12 or even 16 tph at Transbay. If it ends up limiting capacity as much as you are suggesting then it should be redesigned, even if it costs a significant amount of money.

    JimInPollockPines Reply:

    In any case its too late to redesign it. They should have made it a loop from the very beginning. I don’t know why they didn’t. That was short sighted. Im sure some wealthy developers had something to do with it though.

    Clem Reply:

    It is by no means too late to redesign it. On the one hand, only minor track layout tweaks (add two turnouts and move a few others) will make it work better with almost no changes to concrete, and on the other hand the City of San Francisco is pushing for a completely different tunnel alignment. So, no, “too late to redesign it” is not an acceptable excuse.

    Joey Reply:

    A six track stub end station should be able to accommodate as many trains as they need to run. The only issues right now are platform access and station throat design.

    In the far future if more than ~18tph are needed then they can be accommodated via other means, for instance a second Transbay Tube, but for the moment optimizing the currently planned station should be sufficient.

    JimInPollockPines Reply:

    If the city of san Francisco is pushing for a different tunnel alignment then the city of san Francisco needs to look at a map of itself because there’s only one available way in now. They went and put giant buildings in the way everywhere else and already removed the ones for the throat. What are they gonna say, ” oh o0ps, our bad, sorry bout your building.”

    J. Wong Reply:

    SF is looking at redirecting Caltrain and HSR down 3rd St cutting over from the current ROW at 23rd St and to 2nd near the ballpark. All tunnels. With a station on 3rd St near 16th and no more 4th & King.

    Domayv Reply:

    @Clem: If TTC plans on servicing trains that would serve the I-80 corridor (the freeway’s real clogged so this will become inevitable) and I-505+I-5 north to Redding then it would make sense for an eventual expansion by giving it at least 6 additional tracks.

    Clem Reply:

    They need longer and more frequent trains. There are distant plans to run 8-car electric trains at 6 tph (48 cars per hour per direction, compared to 25 today). Even this doubling of capacity will not be enough in a couple of decades. Caltrain needs to start thinking a lot bigger than they’re used to.

    JimInPollockPines Reply:

    Im not convinced that the growth in the corridor will continue at the current pace. SF boomed post war, died in the 70s, boomed in the 80s, died again 89-97 boomed again with the dotcom, died again after the bust. Now its booming again with “tech” and it will crash and empty out again after that. Then…

    Joey Reply:

    Jim: Growth probably won’t continue forever at the current pace, but ridership will keep growing for the time being and is unlikely to decline even after the tech boom. Plus, there are reasons to want to grow CalTrain’s ridership even without increasing demand: it improves air quality and reduces congestion on 101.

    J. Wong Reply:

    @JimInPollockPines

    Growth in SF never emptied out after each bust. It flattened out, but eventually always resumed its upward path.

    JimInPollockPines Reply:

    I lived there during all those busts and ( aside from it being very wonderful to have everyone gone) it really did feel pretty empty in comparison. and its been in th 750-900k range for a long time. the numbers are here: population it took 100 years to go from 400k to 800k and its hovered around 800 for 60 years.

    JimInPollockPines Reply:

    They should move the whole tech industry to Fresno. They could use their magic powers to transform it.

    J. Wong Reply:

    They’ve already broken the 900k mark and they won’t be going back to lower numbers.

    JimInPollockPines Reply:

    looking at table 1a you can see after the .com bust 4000 people left town. ( noticeable in place as small as sf especially when those were probably the 4000 most annoying people) In the golden elbow roomy period of the bush recession after the 89 quake, the pop was down to 774k. ( ok a lot of that was deaths – not such a good way to to create low rents)

    Personally I think a lot of the new folks will be getting bored with SF soon. Its a place that wears thin for most after a short time. Dream of it… thousands of empty newly remodeled apartments.

    JimInPollockPines Reply:

    correction 724k in ’90

    JimInPollockPines Reply:

    J. Wong Reply:
    December 26th, 2015 at 8:55 pm
    They’ve already broken the 900k mark and they won’t be going back to lower numbers.

    don’t be so sure. nothing is forever especially prosperity.

    JimInPollockPines Reply:

    Specifically what do they do to fix this right here Its in place. Its the only way in. Is it just a matter of a different track configuration?

    Joey Reply:

    Specifically what do they do to fix this right here Its in place. Its the only way in. Is it just a matter of a different track configuration?

    Yes, specifically one that maximizes parallel routings between the approach tracks and platform tracks. This might require some structural modifications.

    Although, just as a point of comparison, Tokyo Station manages to terminate 14 high speed trains per hour on 6 platform tracks with only a very basic station throat layout. So maybe it’s just a question of operational discipline.

    JimInPollockPines Reply:

    well if that’s all it is then just do that. people are talking about re routing the whole thing…. too late for that. probably whoever drew up the track layout doesn’t actually know anything about train operations. probably just some architect or something.

    J. Wong Reply:

    4000 = 1/2 %. Not a very significant change. Whatever tech bust you foresee, it is unlikely to affect the big players very much (Google, Facebook). Those employees will continue to be living in SF since although there is some construction on the Peninsula, not enough to handle all the employees (which is why they are in SF now!)

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    …AOL… Yahoo… Myspace…

    JimInPollockPines Reply:

    Bank of America, Crocker Bank and others also used to be headquartered in SF. Crocker doesn’t exist. BofA moved to the other ocean.

    Aarond Reply:

    Assuming there is a tech bust, most of the damage will be in San Jose. The people most affected by it probably won’t be apartment dwellers who can move out to cheaper parts of the country easily, the people most screwed will be people who bought homes after 2010. Thankfully, most of those aren’t near any Caltrain stations (or any transit).

    Curious to see how RWC turns out. I seriously want to see what they do with the Cargill area long term, I’d love to see it become a mixed use grid of apartments with a ferry dock.

    JimInPollockPines Reply:

    J. Wong Reply:
    December 26th, 2015 at 9:27 pm

    4000 = 1/2 %. Not a very significant change. Whatever tech bust you foresee, it is unlikely to affect the big players very much (Google, Facebook). Those employees will continue to be living in SF since although there is some construction on the Peninsula, not enough to handle all the employees (which is why they are in SF now!)

    That’s what san jose is for. Its just sitting there waiting.

    Roland Reply:

    Caltrain capacity: 950 seats + standees = maximum 1,500 passengers/train path
    HSR capacity: 450 seats = maximum 450 passengers/train path
    Any questions?

  20. keith saggers
    Dec 26th, 2015 at 12:17
    #20

    http://sf.streetsblog.org/2015/12/09/repairing-the-gash-in-the-heart-of-oakland/

    keith saggers Reply:

    The blocks that were destroyed by the 980 will be repaired. New blocks will be added. And a narrow section of the freeway gulch would be kept and covered to make space for a new BART and Caltrain tunnel that would eventually connect to the proposed second Transbay tube via Alameda.

    In other words, they hope to reconnect West Oakland with downtown and provide mobility options far beyond I-980’s current contribution. “This is an underutilized freeway anyway,” said Sensenig. “It’s not even used by trucks.”

    “The road carries 73,000 cars per day, making it one of the least traveled in the Bay Area,”said Faulkner. That level of traffic, he said, can be accommodated by the surface-level boulevard they’re proposing. And if the BART and Caltrain connection comes, the corridor will carry over 200,000 people.

    “We can triple the capacity with rail,” he said. “We just spent $4.6 billion on a new Bay Bridge eastern span and it’s already at capacity — and it has less capacity than it had in 1937, when it carried Oakland’s historic Key Car trains,” Fearn added.

    The idea is gaining support, including with Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf. She has told Connect Oakland that “I-980 is a cautionary tale — a broken promise of a second crossing that remains a scar on our urban fabric.” The city has requested $5.2 million from the Alameda County Transportation Authority to study the conversion of I-980 into a second BART tube
    SF Streetsblog

    keith saggers Reply:

    http://www.connectoakland.org/

  21. Roland
    Dec 26th, 2015 at 14:17
    #21

    OT: One-month-old hyperloop update: http://electrek.co/2015/11/26/spacex-goes-ahead-with-its-hyperloop-prototype-building-a-1-mile-long-99-8-vacuum-tube-by-summer-2016/

    Roland Reply:

    Tube spec 2.0: https://www.badgerloop.com/documents/TubeSpecs.pdf

    Clem Reply:

    The cheap steel pipe seems to have sprouted features that require fancy materials (aluminum $$$) and fancy alignment tolerances. Not to mention a concrete base and guidance/braking rail (eeew, rail) that constrain the roll angle of the pod independently of speed.

    Roland Reply:

    The concrete base and the rail have been around for a while. The aluminum sheet was added in November to support pods powered by Arx Pax MFA engines (http://arxpax.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/10/ArxPaxSpaceXHyperloopPodHoverEngineSpec.pdf) which can operate at much higher vacuum (much lower air pressure) than pods that need air for levitation/propulsion (pods have to demonstrate levitation after depressurization to operating pressure prior to launch: see functional test D at the bottom of page 10: http://www.spacex.com/sites/spacex/files/2015_10_20_hyperloop_competition_rules.pdf).

    Clem Reply:

    70W/kg hovering power. Yikes.

    Roland Reply:

    “Once a critical translational speed has been reached (approximately 10m/s) the power requirements drop dramatically.”

    Bahnfreund Reply:

    http://rationalwiki.org/wiki/Hyperloop

    Nuff said

    Danny Reply:

    yup–sliding deadlines that promise “by next year” EVERY year, impossible tech, ballooning spec requirements, 67% higher cost if it were ever built, test pods that peak at 160 mph if anyone’s sitting inside them

    but it’s the usual FUD–as long as the optics are “$6B bleeding-edge reality made by a genius that everyone wants to invest in vs. $1T 20-mph Stalinist JerryRail” he’s happy

    I suggest we get creative and come up with a matching name like “MuskPod” and mock it like the other fantasies that exist only on cocktail napkins, CGIs, and the portfolios of unsuspecting investors–Moller’s “flying car” (like water-fueled cars, but even less workable), the LaRouchies’ ET3, and the eternal, cosmic-level failure of PRT (except to gum up real transit)

    synonymouse Reply:

    By comparison to monorail – a captive trolley bus train on 3rd rail and hollow-core guideway – “MuskPod” is sheer innovative genius. I’d rank cable-hauled as more interesting and distinctive tech than monorail, yet Hollywood, Disney and Vegas are still fascinated by that mediocre gadgetry. So if fantasy works for Walt and Sheldon why should not Elon run with it?

    JerryRail Stalinist? Maybe Putinist, as in Socchi.

    Miles Bader Reply:

    You’ve never even seen a monorail (much less ridden one), of any type, have you?

    synonymouse Reply:

    Seattle 1968

    I saw the Schwebebahn in 1970 but I don’t think I rode it. Been a while.

    Miles Bader Reply:

    So I guess there has to be some other explanation for your statement, as typical monorails bear little resemblance to trolleybuses…. Bad memory? You’re just lying?

    synonymouse Reply:

    The tech is rubber tire on concrete but the monorail cannot run in the street. gadgetbahn

    I like the Paris rubber tyre metro tho – maybe that’s what Bechtel should have imposed on BART instead of broad gauge and cylindrical wheelset profile amongst other anomalies. BART noise is at an unhealthy level and BART management should be fined.

    Eric Reply:

    It’s hard to accurately remember things that happened 47 years ago.

    synonymouse Reply:

    And the most egregious gadgetbahn of all: BART. Bechtel did not even have the balls to go exotic as much as it wanted to and bragged about it, and instead totally mucked up functional ca. 1900 NYC subway tech. BART is just now finally returning to its gritty mean streets roots.

  22. datacruncher
    Dec 26th, 2015 at 17:21
    #22

    Tim Sheehan article on additional construction work starting in January around Fresno.

    High-speed rail work continues: Bridge replacement to begin in downtown Fresno
    by Tim Sheehan

    Drivers through downtown Fresno are likely to encounter changes to their motoring routes through most of 2016, as demolition work is set to begin Jan. 4 on the Tuolumne Street bridge.

    The one-way bridge, which carries eastbound traffic across the Union Pacific Railroad freight tracks in downtown Fresno, is being leveled to make way for California’s high-speed train project. It will be replaced by a taller two-way bridge that will accommodate the clearances necessary for high-speed trains and the electrical lines to power them. The two-way bridge will also allow for the demolition of the nearby one-way-westbound Stanislaus Street bridge.

    …………..

    “We’re going to see (in January) six major construction sites underway in and around Fresno, another one a few weeks later, and we’ll just keep going from there,” Morales told The Bee’s editorial board last month. In downtown Fresno, new street underpasses will be built at Fresno, Tulare and Ventura streets to carry street traffic beneath the high-speed train tracks, which will flow through downtown Fresno immediately to the west of the Union Pacific tracks.

    Other segments of work that the rail authority expects to start in January are a new bridge for Avenue 12 to cross above both the new high-speed rail tracks and the existing BNSF Railway tracks east of Madera; and a viaduct for high-speed train tracks to cross over a canal near Herndon Avenue in Fresno. Within the first three months of 2016, two other major projects are slated to begin: a viaduct that will carry high-speed tracks over Highway 99 and Cedar Avenue at the south end of Fresno, and a trench for the tracks to run under Highway 180 north of downtown Fresno.

    ………..

    More at
    http://www.fresnobee.com/news/local/high-speed-rail/article51703165.html

    Roger Christensen Reply:

    Most people aren’t aware of the current construction activities in the Valley. Seeing a giant viaduct appear across the 99 in South Fresno will be a visible new symbol.

  23. Eric M
    Dec 26th, 2015 at 20:11
    #23

    Overlooked this week, but important as it shows money is out there for high speed rail around the world, including the CA project. This is quite contrary to what naysayers state, like these “grass roots” groups on the peninsula and in the central valley:

    German consortium offers ‎€2bn to invest in high-speed Russian railways

    Germany’s Initiative Group wants to provide up to ‎€2 billion to finance the Moscow-Kazan high-speed railway, according to the Vice President of Russian Railways (RZD) Aleksandr Misharin.

    Beijing has already expressed an interest in funding the ambitious project, saying it will put up $6 billion. Joint Russia-China investment in the railway averages $15 billion.

    keith saggers Reply:

    The Moscow-Kazan railway would improve the connection between Moscow and Beijing as the two countries plan a high-speed train linking their capitals taking two days. In January, Misharin said the construction of the Russia-China route would take from 8 to 10 years. He compared the new railway network to the Suez Canal “in terms of scale and significance.” RT.com

    Aarond Reply:

    eh, I’m not so sure about it having the same level of significance. The Suez Canal is important because crude oil, aka bulk cargo, can flow through it. Same for aircraft carriers. For as much as the EU, Russia and China hype up their “new silk road”, the standard gauge freight line in question still requires a ferry to get over the Caspian and Black Seas.

    Say what you will about the railroads in the US, but the Class Is can put a train together in Oakland and have it be in NJ 3-5 days later without any coupling or decoupling.

    Max Wyss Reply:

    Kazachstan is also involved, and it may be that there is alrady a functioning rail link from Kazan to Urumqui in China. So, this link could become a serious competitor to air freight (and also for containers, but not necessarily on HSR (although, why not)).

    Bahnfreund Reply:

    HSR for freight is the next paradigm shift in transportation. Once it is there freight as we know it will be transformed…

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    Cheap commodities don’t get impatient. It’s why they cross the ocean on slow boats instead of fast airplanes. And when the containers are unloaded at the port they get on slow railroads instead of faster trucks.

    Bahnfreund Reply:

    How long do tropical fruit keep fresh before they rot? Imagine there was a direct HSR route from the tropical regions where Mangoes grow to North America or Europe. Say goodbye to airfreight mangoes and hello to train mangoes…

    Before the first rail tracks were laid nobody thought there was a market for fresh sea-fish in the Alps…

    Eric Reply:

    Moscow-Kazan is a marginal route. In population terms it is similar to Chicago-Kansas City with no stopovers. And it’s in a relatively poor country with declining population. And it’s still getting investment.

    But the US is “special”. I think the US rides the international short bus.

    Aarond Reply:

    It’s “special” in the sense that the US is physically massive, and everything east of Denver is a huge pain to build ROWs through. It would cost $200 billion easily to make get any of the western Amtrak routes up to maybe a 1980s spec, due entirely to the Rockies, Sierras and Cascades.

    A big factor is that there was never any reason to modernize. The Class 1s bought smaller diesels that could take turns their larger steam locos could. Nothing was bombed in the US during ww2 (aside from Pearl Harbor), so there was nothing to rebuild a better system.

    Bahnfreund Reply:

    Germany (probably the country most heavily bombed during WWII) actually build HSR at a time where almost all of the war damage had been repaired or neglected to a point of those lines being (half)abandoned. What spurred HSR construction was the fact that some crucial main lines where overwhelmed by the North South traffic (as opposed to earlier East West traffic) due to the changing political landscape…

  24. Reality Check
    Dec 29th, 2015 at 01:53
    #24

    The bullet train dream comes true
    The deal signed between India and Japan for the development of high speed rail is path-breaking

    For the first time, India will witness high-speed rail (HSR), which can travel at an average speed of about 240kmph [149 mph] (with a maximum speed of 320 kmph [199 mph]), covering 500km [311 mi] in about two hours.

    […]

    It is imperative to see how the loan provided by Japan would make the project financially viable.

    […]

    Bahnfreund Reply:

    Unless actual dirt is being moved these type of announcements are often worth nothing.

  25. Joe
    Dec 29th, 2015 at 07:43
    #25

    Reminder theatre Texas High Speed Rail System still is not funded. The company selected technology but the vendor has not invested in the Texas company.

    http://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2015/12/29/business/texas-high-speed-rail-firm-eyes-jr-tokai-partner-shinkansen-tech-cars/#.VoKpPOxOKJI

    Keith (CEO) rated Japan’s shinkansen technology highly for its safety record and indicated that he expected Japanese manufacturers to join the Texas project. “A major part of the success for the perfect safety record of the shinkansen system is the fact that it’s a total system, including manufacturers that have been manufacturing and maintaining that system for years in Japan,” he said.

    Aarond Reply:

    might be more possible than you think, it depends on Japanese-side politics. Specifically, if JRC can convince Tokyo to give them money to build a rail line in the US. There’s a basis for this, on the fact that Japan has been very keen to “invest” money in many domestic infrastructure projects (as political favors to manufacturers), regardless of their potential profitability/sustainability

    it all depends if TXC can thread the needle

  26. jedi08
    Dec 29th, 2015 at 10:15
    #26

    This is a good alternative as in France and that works very well to 350 km / h : http://www.sncf-reseau.fr/fr/paris-strasbourg-en-1h48-des-le-3-avril-2016

  27. JimInPollockPines
    Dec 29th, 2015 at 19:11
    #27

    The station locations for san francisco millbrae san jose gilroy merced fresno hanford bakersfield palmdale burbank la and Anaheim have all been chosen – when do we expect to find out the choice for the peninsula? Palo Alto or Redwood City – still undecided right?

    Jerry Reply:

    Redwood City is too close to Millbrae. And not much room for a station.
    And Palo Alto doesn’t want HSR, let alone a station for HSR.

    Clem Reply:

    It’ll be Redwood City, or none at all. With rumors of the 2016 business plan including a “split” IOS and going after regional markets, my bet would be on Redwood City. My blog has details if you want them.

    Joe Reply:

    Close Atherton Caltrain Station ! Heavens yes!

    Never underestimate Palo Alto. The City figure a way to spin around 360 and object to a station in RWC and demand it be built on Stanford land with shared mall parking.

    Jerry Reply:

    Great ideas for a Redwood City station. But a tight squeeze with an 80′ ROW. And the new construction built right on top of it.
    Hope your ideas about the Dumbarton ROW are passed on to the powers that be. Since Menlo Park is accepting other ideas for the ROW such as a bike path or doggy park.

    William Reply:

    The proposed Redwood City Station will have platform north of the current ones, on top of Broadway, and where SMCTA owns some more land that’s currently been used as parking lots, so the ROW is not too much of concern in Redwood City

    Clem Reply:

    Open this KML file to see the footprint and layout of a Redwood City HSR station. It’s a tight fit, but it does fit.

    Jerry Reply:

    Clem. When I open the KML file I just get a bunch of words.

    Clem Reply:

    Save the KML file on your computer. Then, launch Google Earth (download it and install that first, if you haven’t already). Select File -> Open and navigate to the file that you saved. Then, zoom in to Redwood City to contemplate.

    les Reply:

    what is your link? you have some good reads.

    Clem Reply:

    Just click on my name and you’ll be taken there

    JimInPollockPines Reply:

    If they create like this is would be nice. and squeeze in plenty of apartments and condos where possible.

  28. Brian_FL
    Dec 29th, 2015 at 20:04
    #28

    Off Topic but kind of ironic seeing as it happened in CA (home to the environmental movement and a state that in general looks down on the rest of the country):

    http://www.tampabay.com/news/nation/pipe-spewing-methane-into-la-neighborhood-called-environmental-disaster/2259379

    So I guess ND and TX (or even BP) aren’t the only major contributors to climate change lol

    https://www.edf.org/climate/californias-massive-methane-leak

    One measure of the impact of this one incident in CA:
    Methane – the main component of natural gas – is a powerful short-term climate forcer, with over 80 times the warming power of carbon dioxide in the first 20 years after it is released. Methane is estimated to be leaking out of the Aliso Canyon site at a rate of about 62 million standard cubic feet, per day. The daily leakage has the same 20-year climate impact as driving 7 million cars a day.

    By the way, my comment is meant as gentle ribbing! 😊

    synonymouse Reply:

    Write Jerry, c/o Palmdale CofC.

    Clem Reply:

    If they’re so worried, they should set it on fire. Methane plus oxygen = carbon dioxide plus steam.

    Donk Reply:

    Well CA should look down on the rest of the country – it is way better. I just drove across the state this week with the family and was reminded how frikkin amazing this place is. The hilly ranch lands in the central coast region are breathtakingly beautiful – while these are basically a footnote in CA because of all of the other amazing parts of the state, they would be on the back of a quarter in most other states. National Parks on the east coast are a joke, with the exception maybe of a couple parks in Maine and FL.

    Another great example to me is this – Austin is by far the best city in TX, but it would be like the #8 best city in CA. Austin is ok and has pretty good music, but the UT campus is ugly, it is hot as hell most of the year, and the hills are only interesting because there are no other hills in TX.

    On top of all of this, our economy leads the world, our environmental policy leads the world, we have a lower proportion of right wing religious wackos, many of the world’s best universities and companies, we are a net donor state to subsidize the rest of the country, etc etc etc. Sure we have our fair share of problems and costs, but come on, there is just no comparison.

    Trentbridge Reply:

    +1 We have an amazing agricultural industry too – even if they think Congress makes it not rain…

    synonymouse Reply:

    @ Donk

    You should have seen California 50 years ago. You won’t want to see it 50 years from now.

    bixnix Reply:

    The Watts riots? Beijing-level smog?

    synonymouse Reply:

    LA

    Donk Reply:

    I don’t know how it was 50 years ago, but I do remember it 30 years ago, and it seems like it is nicer and cleaner now than it was back then. But then I grew up in the LA area, and LA was a shithole in the 80s. It seems like people didn’t like nice things 30 years ago, like hiking trails, trees, and natural space. They seemed to like brutalist architecture, asphalt, concrete, power lines, parking lots, and indoor malls. Call me an optimist, but I think CA will get nicer.

    synonymouse Reply:

    California did not use to be LA but it is now and more so in the future.

    Yosemite dammed to water 5 million souls in Palmdale.

    Tokkyu40 Reply:

    I don’t see much growth happening in Palmdale. Fresno and Bakersfield are growing, despite the San Joaquin Valley being in a cul-de-sac with no viable transportation in the area.
    In fact, the valley is projected to have some of the fastest growth in California. It would be good to have some means of transportation linking them to the outside world, but what? Airline service is poor and the highways are crowded and a long way from the coast.
    Any suggestions for a third alternative that would allow SJV to develop a modern economy, instead of the 19th century farming economy?

    synonymouse Reply:

    No, it should remain a “19th century farming economy”.

    les Reply:

    “my comment is meant as gentle ribbing!” Your history in this blog clearly backs this up.

  29. Reedman
    Dec 30th, 2015 at 09:35
    #29

    BART fares will rise 3.4% on January 1st. Back in 2003, BART implemented an automatic fare increase every two years based on inflation.

    http://www.sfgate.com/news/article/BART-fares-set-to-rise-in-2016-6727893.php

    synonymouse Reply:

    The Feds say there is no inflation, thus no cost of living increase for annuities and social security.

    Everybody at BART needs another raise.

    Bdawe Reply:

    Why don’t you ask the Feds what the feds say

    Nation-Wide: https://research.stlouisfed.org/fred2/graph/?g=2VbZ
    San Francisco-San Jose CMSA: https://research.stlouisfed.org/fred2/graph/?g=317e

    Trentbridge Reply:

    Every two years, Syn. My social security check had an inflation increase for 2015 but not 2016. So BART’s fare increase is based on two year’s inflation.

    synonymouse Reply:

    BART management wants to inflate up its payroll.

    Peter Reply:

    And yet another fact-free comment from this blog’s resident crank.

    Inflation-Based Fare Program
    BART’s inflation-based fare increase program, which has been in place since 2003, has offered passengers a predictable pattern of small fare adjustments over time. The renewed program approved today will raise fares in 2014, 2016, 2018, and 2020 at a rate below inflation. The increase is calculated based on the average rate of inflation over the two year period minus 0.5% for BART’s commitment to productivity improvements. This program is estimated to generate $325 million over the next eight years. The first increase, which will go into effect January 1, 2014, will be 5.2% (based on inflation data from 2010-2012). BART’s average fare is $3.59. A 5.2% increase would cost an extra 19 cents, bringing the fare to $3.78.

    “These small increases are an important part of BART’s financial health, especially as we face a $10 billion unfunded capital need,” BART Board President Tom Radulovich said. “We want our passengers to know we don’t make decisions like this without great consideration. The money generated will only be allowed to go toward capital needs such as paying for BART’s share of the new rail cars and a new train control system which will allow us to run trains closer together. These contributions also help us leverage other funds, making the value go even further.”

    When surveyed, about 60% of BART passengers support the continuation of the inflation based program as they would rather have predictable small increases over time than large erratic hits to their wallets. 70% of passengers recently rated BART a good value for the money in the 2012 Customer Satisfaction Survey.

    http://www.bart.gov/news/articles/2013/news20130228a

    synonymouse Reply:

    Survey says 60% of BART patrons support Amalgamated strikes.

    Roland Reply:

    Metrolink will lower fares for short-distance trips Jan. 1
    http://www.latimes.com/local/lanow/la-me-ln-metrolink-fare-decrease-20151229-story.html

  30. JimInPollockPines
    Dec 30th, 2015 at 16:52
    #30

    The boston T and the Chicago El had trains with auto station announcements including which side the doors would open. Anyone know if the new bart trains will have this feature. It was actually helpful. Next stop Haymarket. The doors will open on the left.

    Jerry Reply:

    BART announcements always seem garbled to me.
    Can’t see station signs thru dark windows.
    There needs to be some improvement such as what other cities already have.

    Jerry Reply:

    In addition to the announcements some cities have electronic signs in each car with your referenced message.

    swing hanger Reply:

    Yes, and also diagrams for each station showing where the exits on the platform are located in relation to the car you are riding in. Also information in four different languages.

    JimInPollockPines Reply:

    I really don’t like the new seating configuration.

    Reality Check Reply:

    An arrow next to the next station name can point to what side the doors will open on:

    Reality Check Reply:

    Reality Check Reply:

    Damn arrow keeps disappearing when I post. Last try:
    <— Belmont
    San Carlos —>

    Donk Reply:

    The San Diego Sprinter has automated voice announcements, but the voice is a woman with a British accent. Nothing against the Brits, but why do they feel the need to pretend that passengers are on the London tube or something when they are clearly on a slow-moving train with 30 min headways in suburban San Diego. At least if they would have used Borat’s or Yoda’s voice it would have been more interesting, or maybe Anchorman.

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