Money Woes Plague Transbay Terminal Project

Apr 30th, 2016 | Posted by

It’s been a while since we checked in at the Transbay Terminal project…and, yikes, maybe it’s better if you don’t look.

First up, the Transbay Terminal project faces a $260 million shortfall:

San Francisco’s beleaguered Transbay Transit Center may get a $260 million emergency bailout from the Metropolitan Transportation Commission and Wells Fargo in order to keep construction on the transit hub going this summer, the San Francisco Chronicle reports.

The financing would borrow $100 million from the MTC and $160 million from Wells Fargo, to be paid back over five years to 10 years…

“The unusual loan, which would be paid back over the next five to 10 years with taxes collected from developers and property owners in the neighborhood’s burgeoning high-rise district, is proposed as projected costs on the transit center have climbed $360 million in the past two years alone,” the paper reports. “Since 2008, project costs have soared by $1 billion.”

That isn’t the first time the Transbay Terminal has turned to such loans – earlier they got a $171 million bridge loan from the Vampire Squid (aka Goldman Sachs). And while SF real estate seems like a sure thing, using those taxes for Transbay Terminal construction leaves less available for the key part of the project, the downtown rail extension to serve Caltrain and high speed rail.

That matters, because San Francisco leaders are accusing the California High Speed Rail Authority of of shorting them by $1.5 billion for the downtown extension:

The letter, to Chairman Dan Richard and board members, says the city’s Transbay Transit Center’s funding from the High-Speed Rail Authority “will be reduced by $1.5 billion to $550 million,” citing the authority’s recently revised draft 2016 business plan.

The San Francisco officials called the rail agency funding “an integral part” of financing the planned Caltrain/high-speed rail extension to the new transit hub.

The missive, obtained by the Business Times, asks the rail authority to reinstate the funding and make San Francisco, instead of San Jose, the terminus of its initial bullet-train tracks.

But did the Authority ever actually say they were going to spend $2 billion on the DTX in the 2016 Business Plan? According to Lisa Marie Alley, they never did:

A spokeswoman for the CHSRA denied that funding was being cut. A reference to $2 billion in an earlier version of the 2016 business plan was “erroneous,” she said. “Our commitment to the extension remains intact and as it was — for $557 million.”

This whole letter looks to me like SF leaders taking a lesson from the Legislature and trying to blame the Authority for problems outside the Authority’s control.

California remains one of the richest places anywhere on the planet, with a GDP larger than all but six other countries. The state legislature, therefore, has access to trillions of dollars to do things like help finish the Transbay Terminal and the downtown extension and HSR itself.

While it would be good if Congress stepped up and played their part, California can pay for high speed rail all by itself. There’s no reason for the Transbay Terminal to be taking out big loans on Wall Street, or for SF and the CHSRA to be pointing fingers at each other. The legislature needs to lead.

  1. JimInPollockPines
    Apr 30th, 2016 at 22:07
    #1

    How much can they raise by selling naming rights
    Wells Fargo terminal

    Aarond Reply:

    At this point why not try and turn it into a freight terminal as well, they could potentially get more private investors on board. Why not go for broke if the project is (apparently) broke? /s

    In seriousness this is embarrassing for the city. This is what happens when you put the cart (train station) before the horse (train track).

    Eric Reply:

    A few million dollars. Nothing significant.

    Bahnfreund Reply:

    Plus it’s freaking embarrassing.

    Would you really whore out the names of public landmarks for a few bucks?

    I mean you don’t rename Lambeau Field or Mile High Stadium just because some douche with an arbitrarily large bank account says so?

    Oh. yeah, I forgot, Mile High Stadium is not actually called that anymore. And the majority of German soccer teams now play in “Grunding stadiums” or “Trolli Arenas” instead of Ronhofs and Frankenstadions. Sad, really. But if it means paying a buck more for the ticket, I would gladly take the train to Transbay Terminal instead of Air America Terminal powered by Gillette of Anaheim, San Francisco…

    Jerry Reply:

    Agreed. It is embarrassing.
    Add to the list with bricks on the sidewalk with your name on it.
    Park benches named in honor of, or memory of, – fill in the blank.
    Naming rights for restrooms. Proud sponsor of: ????

    Eric Reply:

    Some corporate sponsors have been there so long you don’t think of the stadium any other way. I can’t imagine calling the Cardinals’ home field anything but Busch Stadium. Its a St. Louis institution. But yes the constant renaming of stadiums and arenas is what gets laughable. Didn’t George Carlin have a bit on that?

    Joe Reply:

    Chicago’s Sears Tower renamed to whichamicallit

    Bahnfreund Reply:

    Many sports fans prefer to call their stadium by non-sponsor names.

    You won’t find many people in Nuremberg who actually call it “Grundig Stadium”. Even the S-Bahn stop is not called that…

    Faber Castell Reply:

    Naming rights have gotten out of control in our country—both honorary and corporate. Especially egregious is municipalities and public agencies whoring when then they use naming rights as revenue to compensate for chronically underfunded services. The best example is the MBTA—thankfully it fell through. How embarrassing as a country to have foreign tourists visit a city so integral to American history, values and identity to have them ride the JetBlue Line. An unf***ing believable disgrace that would have been.

    More: https://www.bostonglobe.com/opinion/editorials/2014/04/08/thankfully-mbta-fails-sell-naming-rights-its-stations/uZUovhJIF7IpIlLLPM9eYK/story.html

    JimInPollockPines Reply:

    I used to hate the idea of corporate naming rights but its so common now who even cares anymore.
    Salesforce terminal?

    Bahnfreund Reply:

    On that note, how common is advertising on the outside of trains, streetcars and the likes in the US? I have not noticed any on my last visit to the US, but this is truly one of the things you only notice if you pay targeted attention to it. In Germany some trams (light rail / streetcar) are even covered in the team colors of second rate hockey teams (I don’t even know if they actually paid for that)…

    It becomes bizarrely self-referential when the tram is covered with the image of a tram to advertise the job of tram driver…

    EJ Reply:

    It’s reasonably common on streetcars and buses. There’s actually an AAR rule banning advertising on freight cars but dunno if that applies to heavy rail passenger cars.

    Bdawe Reply:

    Amtrak Cascades have sold advertising space, including decaling an entire locomotive up with images of King Tut’s funeral mask (which was said to have lead to the locomotive being cursed) and various ‘Portland is happening now’ ads

    Bahnfreund Reply:

    Thanks for the information.

    The whole “curse of the Pharaoh” BS is just yellow press run rampant… All since the 1920s…

    Aarond Reply:

    External “wrapper” ads pop up every now and then on commuter lines.

    Though, I did notice that Caltrain and Metrolink don’t have billboard ads near them which isn’t the case on the east coast. The flip side is that billboards are typically placed next to major artery roads in places like Hayward or Fremont.

    Reality Check Reply:

    Caltrain cars are sometimes wrapped. Some window-gazing riders have complained it ruins the view.

    EJ Reply:

    Farmers Field, in LA, is a 30 year, $700 Million deal. That’s the record. Most stadium deals are in the $2-5 MM/yr range. Other infrastructure is less valuable. AFAIK Barclay’s only pays about $200K a year for their NYC subway station.

  2. Car(e)-Free LA
    Apr 30th, 2016 at 22:17
    #2

    Let’s pay for it by instituting a congestion charge for SF travel, and tolling the GG bridge and Bay Bridge in both directions.

    Eric Reply:

    Both directions is stupid. When there are no practical alternative routes (like here), you make a double toll in one direction only, because everyone who goes somewhere on a daily basis, has to go home again.

    Car(e)-Free LA Reply:

    Exactly, it discourages commuting by car. It is Common sense. Besides, it is only right to have commuters pay the for the true market value of their trip. Not doing so it what causes traffic jams.

    Bahnfreund Reply:

    A congestion charge is a market based approach that actually works. Which of course means Republicans and the likes hate it with the heat of a billion billion supernovae…

    JimInPollockPines Reply:

    then all you do is hurt the people who can least afford and most people don’t have an alternative

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    Only if you live in a world where Real Americans(tm) drive everywhere. The congestion charge can go to having the bus run often enough that the poor people can get rid of the second car. Or all the cars.

    Bahnfreund Reply:

    well spoken

    Bahnfreund Reply:

    You know who liked to say “there is no alternative”?

    Maggie Thatcher.

    Politics is a game of alternatives. If you don’t know alternatives, you should get out of the game.

    Joe Reply:

    The IronLady screwed the British workers. Great example which backs up Jim’s point.

    Bahnfreund Reply:

    How so?

    To very close to every decision Thatcher made there were better alternatives (she was probably right on going to war over the Falklands, but wiser policy in the run up to the war could have dissuaded the junta from invading in the first place). Yet Thatcher openly proclaimed there were none. That is hogwash.

    Car(e)-Free LA Reply:

    Because people who can’t afford tolls have cars. And people who have no other option aren’t in San Francisco, because there is no place within the vicinity of the bay bridge a car is desirable.

    Bahnfreund Reply:

    Policy should stop asking questions like “How do we get a car for the poorest people?” or “What do we do about people too poor to own three cars?” and instead answer questions like: “How do we make a car optional?”

    Aarond Reply:

    Problem is what to replace it with. Double tolling sounds great until you realize it would further stress BART and clog up the bridge with more buses. It’d still be a parking lot, but with more large vehicles competing for space.

    Personally, I think it would be a great idea if paired with something like LRT going across the lower deck again, though you’d need to rebuild a trunk system in Oakland as well, and make it connect seamlessly into SF’s Muni system (which has it’s own problems namely lack of a dedicated ROWs west of Market).

    Bahnfreund Reply:

    Some trips are made for no other reason than being possible and cheap. Those would obviously disappear. Others would of course have to be replaced by public transit, which can be built from (part of) the toll money…

  3. Aarond
    Apr 30th, 2016 at 22:20
    #3

    Frankly SF probably realized that they (and SMC and SCC) will have to pay for the DTX, not the state (who, of course, would rather put the $2 billion into the IOS). I really, really, really wish the city government would take some self responsibility here instead of trying to push the burden onto the rest of the state (especially when LA, which has been much more proactive with transit, isn’t getting anything until 2025).

    More importantly, if SF wants the state to pay for a Caltrain tube (assuming it ever happens), doing the DTX for them is the expedient thing to do. Everyone needs to work together here and SF is dragging their feet.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    San Francisco, being in California, pays California taxes.

    Aarond Reply:

    Obviously so, but the state’s goal is to provide a statewide transit network, not do something SF is perfectly capable of doing on their own.

    It’s a matter of priorities: the state is rightfully focused on the IOS and then actually getting trains from SF to LA. This require cooperation on three fronts; the Central Valley (where construction started), San Francisco/SJ (who can pay for the DTX and grade separation accordingly), and LA Co (which will be responsible for getting trains into Burbank, and through to LA).

    The DTX benefits SF the most, by far. And it sets the stage nicely for another tube. It’s in their best interest to do this so the state can focus on the larger projects.

    Bahnfreund Reply:

    Yeah but a bit of brinkmanship might defray part of their cost on some other pocket…

    Increasing the overall cost of course, but who cares about that?

  4. John Nachtigall
    May 1st, 2016 at 00:26
    #4

    All because they either lied about the cost or were so incompetent they didn’t know the real cost.

    Why do people just accept it when large government capital projects go 3-10x over budget. Are you really suggesting the legislature give them more money. How in any way do they deserve more money given how they have spent the money they have already been given?

    Jerry Reply:

    The money for the subway to China Town and North Beach could have gone to the Trans Bay Terminal project.
    Just what are the priorities in all of this?

    Car(e)-Free LA Reply:

    San Francisco benefits more from the central subway than the DTX.

    synonymouse Reply:

    That’s highly debatable.

    Car(e)-Free LA Reply:

    The city of San Francisco itself certainly does. Caltrain and transbay tubes don’t benefit the city itself all that much, compared to muni.

    Joe Reply:

    Strange. It’s not muni vs TBT. It’s a small part of MUNI – the extension.

    Between the two, the TBT Caltrain extension adds more value to the city than the subway extension. Just look at the area surrounding the TBT.

    Bahnfreund Reply:

    It depends on whether you think making commuting easier is a net benefit or a net loss for the place where the commuters go, if it is a distinct entity from the place where they come from…

    In other words: Does San Francisco lose if people commute from the places served by the extension? Not an easy question to answer. If the extension has the effect (and that’s not easy to prove) of people moving out of SFO to the served areas or moving to the served areas instead of SFO from elsewhere, SFO might indeed end up with less taxes.

    On the other hand, the extension will reduce congestion in SFO as well as outside of it and it will likely bring in more workers than currently possible. And more workers working more jobs is usually seen as a good thing in capitalism…

    Car(e)-Free LA Reply:

    SF isn’t harmed by the DTX, I just don’t think it benefits them much (and I DO support the DTX). Mostly, the DTX benefits the peninsula.

    Bahnfreund Reply:

    Well some people might think it harms SFO regardless of its actual effect.

    Immigration has been a net positive for the USA in the 20th century, yet many people don’t believe that when you tell them that.

    Reality Check Reply:

    Hey Bahnfreund, SFO is SF’s airport in San Mateo Co. So drop the O when you mean SF.

    Joey Reply:

    I agree that these sorts of projects need to have more accountability (same goes for a lot of military contracting). When the same players repeatedly get contracts despite going over budget and not delivering to spec, what’s the incentive to do them right?

    Joe Reply:

    What are the reasons for this going over budget?

    This push for serious accountability starts and ends with some insight into the problems and causes. It could be the City.

    If a main cost driver are incorrect assumptions on future material costs then beating up on labor and design doesn’t address the problem:

    “Everything !! ” That’s not a constructive answer.

    Bahnfreund Reply:

    So please, tell me: How do you fix cost overruns?

    Most of the time they become evident when shutting down the project would actually mean more money than ponying up the rest. And there is no way in hell to discern the “real” overruns from those made up ones that consist in lying about the costs beforehand. After all, some things that drive costs do come out of left field.

    If a project has a planning phase measured in the decades inflation becomes a concern. And the politicians who proposed the project (and might well have lied about costs) may well be dead and buried by the time this comes out.

    So tell me. How do you fix this? I don’t know the answer. Do you?

    Joe Reply:

    Beware of SF projects.

    Bahnfreund Reply:

    It does not matter where the project is.

    Even Spanish projects have had cost overruns.

    Nathanael Reply:

    There is documented evidence that there are more overruns in San Fransicso. Also, and even more so, New York City. It would be worth investigating why. In New York it appears to be an unusually high tolerance for outright corruption (contractors not doing what they were contracted to do). I’m not sure what it is in San Francisco.

    John Nachtigall Reply:

    It is rare for a private project, with all the same problems and risks, to go over budget. So the solution exists, but since public money is “free” they don’t get applied.

    You think Apple let the new headquarters building go 5x over budget? Hell no. It went 2 billion over budget and the shareholders got pissed. Yes it was over budget and late, but they didn’t let it spiral out of control like Transbay or the Bay Bridge.

    The person running transbay was fired, and now they are trying to figure a way to get her 2 more years of service so she can get a pension. Holy F^]#. She totally failed and they want to help her out. This is the problem

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    There are no comparable private projects.

    Joe Reply:

    Private mega projects exist and they are equally likely to go over.

    Even his examples of successful US A companies fail:

    http://www.dailyfinance.com/2010/12/21/boeing-787-dreamliner-nightmares/
    Cost overruns. The [boeing] 787 was originally expected to cost $5 billion to develop, but now analysts think it will cost $12 billion or perhaps $18 billion to complete.

    John Nachtigall Reply:

    A particularly sad example since Boeing already had the right formula with the 777 which was on time, on budget and very successful.

    So why is the failure rate for public at 95%?

    Eric Reply:

    The 777 is becoming obsolete in terms of fuel efficiency.
    http://theaviationspecialist.com/lh_fuel_burn_compare.jpg

    Joe Reply:

    Over reliance on outsourcing (60%) and the use of new materials.

    Joe Reply:

    Dr Flyvberg insists the data show there is no bias for more overruns with public mega projects.
    You have to accept private sector performance. Be it Boeing or Microsoft, large projects run late and over budget everywhere.

    BTw If 95% are late as you claim then what’s the argument for incompetence ? you understand an outlier that shows bad performance cannot be an outlier if it’s 95% likely.

    Bahnfreund Reply:

    There is the theory that cost overruns are caused by projects being intentionally lowballed because people always assume cost overruns…

    The problem is: The system does not really encourage highballing costs and then getting projects delivered for cheaper than anticipated.

    Of course a system that could do that (e.g. giving half of the difference to someone responsible) might raise legit ethics concerns…

    EJ Reply:

    She presumably had a contract. No different from a CEO getting a “golden parachute.”

    Bahnfreund Reply:

    The CEO of Volkswagen during the cheating scandal who recently resigned also got a handful of millions…

    Joe Reply:

    People don’t just accept projects going that far over budget. How many strawmen does it take to screw in a light bulb?

    Edward Reply:

    Information from the Federal Highway Administration web site:
    https://www.fhwa.dot.gov/interstate/faq.cfm

    During debate leading up to the Federal-Aid Highway Act of 1956, Congress used an estimate of $27 billion. This estimate was flawed in several ways. It was based on a report by the U.S. Bureau of Public Roads (BPR), which covered only the 37,700 miles designated in 1947. The BPR estimated that to build this mileage in 10 years to meet 1974 traffic needs would cost $23.2 billion, based on midyear 1954 prices. Second, President Eisenhower’s Advisory Committee on a National Highway Program under General Lucius D. Clay (Rt.)—known as the “Clay Committee”—added only $4 billion for urban feeders and collectors, bringing the total to $27.2 billion. Considering that the BPR had assumed urban-rural costs for the mileage designated in 1947 would be split $12.5 billion-$10.7 billion, and that an additional 2,300 miles of urban routes had been designated in 1955, the Clay Committee’s estimate was flawed.

    Beyond the errors in the initial estimate, the 1956 Act added 1,000 miles to the Interstate System. The Federal-Aid Highway Act of 1968 added 1,500 miles, and subsequent legislation increased the mileage as well. In addition, design standards were stricter beginning in 1956, and compliance with essential environmental requirements enacted in the 1960s added to the cost of projects. As might be expected, inflation was a major factor as well.

    The final estimate of the cost of the Interstate System was issued in 1991. It estimated that the total cost would be $128.9 billion, with a Federal share of $114.3 billion. This estimate covered only the mileage (42,795 miles) built under the Interstate Construction Program. It excluded turnpikes incorporated into the Interstate System within the mileage limitation and the mileage added as a logical addition or connection outside the limitation but financed without Interstate Construction funds.

    In all, Federal-aid legislation authorized a total of $119 billion to pay the Federal share of the cost of Interstate construction. (Interstate Construction funds were authorized through Fiscal Year 1996.)

    Bahnfreund Reply:

    This does not surprise me in the least.

    The Autobahn building (and warmongering) of the Nazis had them virtually bankrupt by the late 1930s. Only inflation and later on the plundering of half of Europe (including much of the state owned gold) kept the economy even half way afloat…

    Cost estimates are a bit like war plans. They hardly survive contact with the enemy.

    Joe Reply:

    Cost estimates that change because people want to do different things are not problems.

    Also estimates require assumptions. If an assumption of cost sharing is wrong then the estimate to build might be good – just incorrect about who pays. Above the estimate assumed more cost sharing if I read it right.

    If more work/road is added like above in urban areas then the estimate for the lesser work isn’t wrong.

    Estimates are not future predictions. Adding miles and not sharing costs for the system don’t discredit the estimate to do the work. The work changed and the sponsorship changed.

    Bahnfreund Reply:

    Do you think a 119 Billion (plus tax, plus tip, plus contingency) highway bill would have gotten through Congress?

    Keep in mind that the US already had a comprehensive high capacity dual use (yes, railways have military value, just look up the history of Prussia in the war of 1870/71) transportation network funded in part by public money covering almost the whole country at the time, namely railroads.

    Joe Reply:

    No. They would not.
    Yes they did.

    It did get through in part after people saw the value and wanted more. It became a commuter system for the urban centers. As we added environmental costs we paid the higher costs.

    All up front would it pass? NO! it wasn’t proven as useful up front.

    We put more money into the system than planned – that makes it a pedantic failure to a person seeking to show aggregate pre/post cost growth. See – mega projects go over. Now buy my book.

    HSR has an unfair fight. It has to show full build cost and argue value at the same time. Compare that cost to the cost of adding highway and airport capacity.

    Ralph Vanderbian is heroically fighting for this unfair project requirement and making hay. That makes him a loser in my book. I hope Gannett buy tribune publishing and revaluates “tenure” freedom.

    Bahnfreund Reply:

    So this explains the vitriol directed against HSR, doesn’t it? Once the first line is built, people see what it does and want some for themselves. Which makes one two figure billion line expand into a half dozen lines and three figure billion sums and from there on upwards…

    If the moneyed interests that oppose HSR were convinced of its failure they would not fight it so hard. They would love for a project to fail spectacularly in order to be able to point to that failure and shut down discussion from there on out. But even those in the oil an aeronautics industry with a vested industry in the failure of HSR do not seem to believe in HSR failure.

    Telling, isn’t it?

    Joe Reply:

    This isn’t an example of an out of control project.

    Estimates couldn’t include the thousands of additional miles added to the project later. They can’t cost future environmental requirements. Addicted a lower fraction of what the Feds pay.

    Bahnfreund Reply:

    Well the project did go out of control. When more lane miles did not solve congestion…

    Joe Reply:

    No it did go out of control. It became more than originally planned. We controlled the highway system and have continually improved performance and construction efficiency. We got very good at it building highways and expanding lanes.

    You say the highway system is too popular and overused. Well that’s a sponsor problem. The customers wanted more and more.

    Bahnfreund Reply:

    Resources are allocated inefficiently. The fact that many companies have cut storage facilities because the trucks on the roads store their goods should tell you something…

    And by the way, the same problem also goes for the German Autobahns. Looking at any given right lane will convince you of that…

    Joe Reply:

    Project management isn’t responsible for the outcomes derived from the product. That is to say they built what was ordered. The buyer is responsible for the highway system’s ultimate utility solving narional transportation problems.

    Bahnfreund Reply:

    So congestion is just a law of nature?

    John Nachtigall Reply:

    You Joe, you are the “people that just accept” it.

    You and your supporters on this board only make excuses and irrelevant comparisons to justify why the huge incompetence is ok.

    Other projects having overruns just proves my point. Despite a dismal track record, supports like you blindly keep advocating to pump money into the bottomless pit of incompetence.

    The highway system had overruns, but the difference that was cited is about expansion because it was successful. Something HSR will not have to worry about since they can’t manage to build 30 miles of dead straight, dead flat track without being 3 years late.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    The alternative is not “do nothing”. The alternative is more highway and airport. Which would cost more and use up more land.

    Ted Judah Reply:

    *Pumping money into incompetence* is how the American economy operates. Have you been asleep for last 30 years, watching private sector investment chase bubbles that inevitably collapse? Are those Titans of Industry also incompetent?

    Threading together different funding sources in government is actually a hard job. Most projects that of this scope are destined to fail. The exception are those that the staff is able to succeed in spite of these headwinds.

    It’s the American Way: fedualism where nobody gets killed. (Okay, almost no one.) If you want central planning with a zero failure rate…move to China. (Seriously…)

    John Nachtigall Reply:

    private money is not tax money. Who cares is Pets.Com fails. When you are wasting public money it is different.

    And I am not talking about 0% failure rate, I am talking about 95% failure rate. Why are almost all public infrastructure project over budget and late?

    Jerry Reply:

    Private money people don’t have to deal with NIMBYs.

    John Nachtigall Reply:

    you are kidding right. Tell that to anyone that wants to build anything in SF. There are so many NIMBY, and they are so vocal, that you cant even renovate existing housing, much less build new ones, without flat out bribing the entire neighborhood.

    Public projects have emanate domain which is the ultimate STFU. Private projects ahve to negotiate all that stuff.

    Ted Judah Reply:

    John, private money, like taxes, is still almost always “other people’s money”. That’s the figleaf you can’t hide behind. Show me a Wall Street investment firm that shows more fiduciary duty and accountability than 99% of the public entities in the US.

    Secondly, your Pets.com straw man is deeply offensive to people whose lives have been turned upside down by the subprime crisis. If Pets.com wase the extent of the problem, unemployment durin the recession wouldn’t have been the highest in almost 100 years.

    Third, Apple is building a vanilla office building. Comparing it to the TBT is just hilarious.

    Nathanael Reply:

    Private money is largely pension fund money. Think about that again and think about whose money was wasted by pets.com.

    Joe Reply:

    The cost overrun data show not bias for public projects. Private sector is equally culpable. That’s not what you tell us because you are poorly informed and wing it.

    Most private sector software projects run over budget and are late.

    You should be a project manager and learn.

    Possibly you know of Windows NT or Win95.

    John Nachtigall Reply:

    thats it Joe, keep justifying the incompetence by point out others that are incompetent.

  5. Jerry
    May 1st, 2016 at 01:17
    #5

    The Trans Bay Terminal has always been a great big bus terminal.
    It won’t hurt to be a new great big bus terminal for a little longer.
    The people who have used it over the years have mostly come from the East Bay.
    It’s more important to get the HSR up and running from the Central Valley to San Jose.
    Planning a new Trans Bay Tunnel for BART and HSR in conjunction with the extension from 4th and King is equally important.

    Joey Reply:

    Planning a new Trans Bay Tunnel for BART and HSR in conjunction with the extension from 4th and King is equally important.

    I’m going to 100% disagree with this.

    – The DTX is justifiable for Caltrain alone. It would likely double the amount of jobs immediately accessible by Caltrain.
    – What use does putting HSR under the bay have?
    – Transbay will serve as an important transfer point for HSR to BART and several other transit systems. Waiting until 2050 or whenever the second tube materializes isn’t an option.
    – The TBT can’t really connect to a tube easily. You’d have to demolish a few mid-rises for the approaches, and tunnel through a bunch of mud because the station isn’t very deep (not that I think it should be deeper).

    Jerry Reply:

    Is there data available showing where the people who work those 100,000 jobs currently live, and how they commute to work???
    For example, 20% could come from Marin County, 40% could come from the East Bay, and 20% could live in San Francisco. Leaving 20% riding in from the South Bay via train or bus.

    Jerry Reply:

    It also seems that the extension is more important to CalTrain riders than HSR riders.

    Joey Reply:

    Nothing up-to-date, no, but even if only a fraction of them live somewhere near CalTrain, it’s still a huge increase in potential ridership.

    Elizabeth Reply:

    This is not the analysis you want to do. Right now, people’s housing choices are impacted by transit choices. Better to look at transit time distance to downtown SF from BART stations -> get the % of workers who commute to SF -> apply to cities on peninsula that would be similar travel time from downtown SF. Currently, most people south of Burlingame choose not to work in downtown SF because it is such a pain to get to.

    Elizabeth Reply:

    PS not just saying this – have spent some quality time with ACS city to city data.

    Jon Reply:

    The ACS data shows that more people in San Mateo (the city) commute north to SF/Oakland than south to SJ/Silicon Valley. Redwood City is the first major city where more people head south to SJ/Silicon Valley than head north to SF/Oakland.

    The dividing line between “mostly SF” commuters and “mostly SJ” commuters occurs at the border of Belmont/San Carlos, and so signifies a sort of dividing line between the SF metro area and the SJ metro area. On the other side of the Bay, a similar divide occur at the border between Hayward and Union City.

    Based on this, I would consolidate Bay Area transit by merging Union City Transit, AC Transit in Fremont/Newark, and SamTrans south of Belmont/San Carlos into VTA. This would eliminate a lot of awkward transit borders and provide a more logical service area for SJ/Silicon Valley. In the north I would merge Muni, Golden Gate Transit, SamTrans north of Belmont/San Carlos, and AC Transit north of Union City.

    I also think Clem’s proposal of split San Mateo local/Silicon Valley express service plan for Caltrain is an excellent one, as one stopping pattern serves each of of the metro areas, with the Silicon Valley service pattern also providing express services between the two.

    joe Reply:

    Affordability dominates commuting in the Bay Area

    If you can afford Burlingame you can afford to move closer to work in SF. It’s not that getting to SF is hard, Burlingame’s too expensive and close tother work to justify a commute into SF. Make it easier to get to SF Downtown will not attract Burlingame residents.

    Elizabeth Reply:

    Joe – in the Bay Area, people switch jobs a lot, but not housing so much. Once they buy a house, even if they are wealthy, they stay put – kids in schools, spouse’s job, high transaction costs. The anecdotal experience I have are supported by the data. People only keep jobs in SF more than a little while if they can take Caltrain.

    Transbay will really shift commute patterns/worker sheds–it will be big and it is not clear that cities are thinking about what it will mean.

    Jerry Reply:

    “it is not clear that cities are thinking about what it will mean.”
    Any thoughts/suggestions about what they should be thinking?

    Jerry Reply:

    With new Warriors arena and new condos and new hospital, the area is changin’.

    Joey Reply:

    The Transbay area is already denser than Mission Bay could ever hope to be for the next half century at least. And it’s seeing huge amounts of development too.

    Ted Judah Reply:

    Yeah I’m not sure where Liz is going here: the housing on the Peninsula is all from the 1950s to the 1970s (of course there are some newer tracts and complexes, but not much). San Jose isn’t much better. Part of the reason their owners don’t commute to SF is that don’t work anywhere. (They are, as you might guess, retired.)

    So a line that connects a bunch of a built-out areas for transit purposes doesn’t seem like much of a game-changer. Even in Gilroy’s case, there’s no independent water supply to allow growth on the magnitude Liz implies. The main benefit for HSR going to TBT is that demand from business travelers would skyrocket. But as for commuters, the only places with water left to tap are in the Central Valley and that’s what excites Silicon Valley’s civic boosters about the proposed IOS.

    Joe Reply:

    South county has ample water. They can repair Anderson lake reservoir and enlarge it. Right now it’s below capacity due to the risk of collapse.

    Farmers in Gilroy irrigate pepper field crops with sprinklers on windy days.

    Ted Judah Reply:

    If Gilroy had enough water to add 1 million people to Santa Clara County…it would already have built them.

    Joe Reply:

    Where did you come up with one million?
    That’s a ridiculous requirement.

    The City has aggressive growth plans – we added a second high school to complement a recent middle and elementary school. All three in open space and currently areas under development.

    Since 2005 the entire southern Santa Clara area has added 127,000 people.

    Car(e)-Free LA Reply:

    @Joe that is ridiculous. Water hasn’t come close to capping development anywhere in this state. Cities can just buy farmland, let it fallow, and use the water in their city instead.

    Joe Reply:

    Counter example: Monterey County. It’s population growth is severely water limited.

    Santa Clara has a water system designed to recharge groundwater. Most of Gilroys (hard) water is locally supplies and well-pumped. Anderson dam outside Morgan Hill and coyote reservoir outside Gilroy.
    Uvas Reservoir and etc.

    Reedman Reply:

    If I were to sell my house and buy the identical house close to my present workplace, my property taxes would more than double. Prop13 is a specific economic incentive to NOT change houses to reduce your commute. Plus, some folks have had their house increase in value sufficiently such that they would exceed the federal capital gains exclusion if they sold their house.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    You don’t pay taxes if you roll it over into another house.

    Reedman Reply:

    I am not a CPA/accountant, but I believe you are incorrect. The “rollover /age 55/deadline-to-reinvest” rule was replaced by the $250k/$500k exclusion.
    —-
    http://www.cpa-services.com/special_sal.shtml

    There is a downside to the repeal of the rollover rule if you have a gain in excess of $250,000 ($500,000 if married filing jointly) when you sell your home. Instead of being able to defer the gain by buying a more expensive home, as under prior law, you will now be liable for income tax on the excess gain in the year of sale. if you owned your home for at least 12 months, the excess gain will be subject to a significantly lower capital gain rate of 15%.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    My heart breaks for couples who make more than a half a million on the sale of their house. Into thousands of tiny little pieces. That sob uncontrollably.

    Ted Judah Reply:

    Adirondacker is partially correct: Certain counties will honor your prior levy if you buy a house in their county.

    This is largely an inducement for retirees to move there in most cases. This is because empty nesters are usually willing to downside to a smaller place that costs more per square foot. That helps the county embrace density and allow the old county to reasses the sold property for more money.

    Bahnfreund Reply:

    But people who have a half million dollar house have to get lower taxes!!!!!!

    JimInPollockPines Reply:

    It just shouldn’t be that difficult to just close off 2nd street and do a cut and cover

    Marc Reply:

    Caltrain is already approaching standing room capacity in both directions during commute hours. If current trends continue, SOMA housing currently under construction and worsening congestion on 101/280 will further increase Caltrain ridership over the coming years and absorb the added capacity from electrification, with or without TBT. Given limited train throughput at TBT, how many more Caltrain passengers can DTX actually add?

    Joe Reply:

    http://www.greencaltrain.com/2014/05/keeping-up-with-caltrain-capacity-needs/

    Even more frequent service. Many people believe that Caltrain service is capped at 6 trains per direction per hour because of the agreement with High Speed Rail. That’s actually not quite the case. According to Caltrain’s studies, the corridor can handle up to 8 trains per direction per hour without passing tracks, and up to 10 trains per direction per hour with additional passing tracks. HSR’s most recent business plan shows a substantial amount of ridership on intra-Peninsula commute service. So, could Caltrain start running 7 or 8 trains per hour before HSR starts? Caltrain and HSR have confirmed that the answer is yes, and the agreement does not need to be changed to do this. With 8 trains per hour, 8 car trains, that’s over 9,000 passengers at the peak hour.

    J. Wong Reply:

    You do know they’d need to bore to connect whatever is under 2nd Street to the track out of SF? Apparently boring is cheaper then cut&cover in the city anyway.

    agb5 Reply:

    It is difficult to get a three train wide cut-and-cover down 2nd street.
    The thick vertical walls of the cut required to support the weight of the surrounding buildings reduces the interior width of the trench.

    Zorro Reply:

    You can dream all you want Jerry, a Transbay tube for HSR is not happening, you want it, you pay for it, there is no State or Federal money for this, otherwise HSR is going on Caltrain tracks…

    Zorro Reply:

    And HSR is going thru Pacheco Pass, not Altamont Jerry, that’s final.

    Ben Pease Reply:

    True in recent years. But of course before it was a big bus station it was a big train station.

  6. JimInPollockPines
    May 1st, 2016 at 03:31
    #6

    OT. Just got rear ended on the freeway by a drunk driver at 100mph
    Spun me around three times! My new car is tore up damn it! Chp was super nice so I take back all the mean things I say about them

    Joe Reply:

    Sorry about the car. Glad to know you are okay and survived a drunk driver.

    Ted Judah Reply:

    Jim, let me know if you need anything.

    Faber Castell Reply:

    Holy cow. Glad you’re ok…

  7. morris brown
    May 1st, 2016 at 06:27
    #7

    Robert writes:

    But did the Authority ever actually say they were going to spend $2 billion on the DTX in the 2016 Business Plan? According to Lisa Marie Alley, they never did:

    A spokeswoman for the CHSRA denied that funding was being cut. A reference to $2 billion in an earlier version of the 2016 business plan was “erroneous,” she said. “Our commitment to the extension remains intact and as it was — for $557 million.”

    This whole letter looks to me like SF leaders taking a lesson from the Legislature and trying to blame the Authority for problems outside the Authority’s control.

    Golly golly— somewhere in Prop 1A is the promise that HSR was from the TBT to LA/Anaheim. Isn’t the Authority responsible for building and paying for the DTX? Who does the Authority think they are kidding?

    les Reply:

    Morris you seem to have the 2016 Business Plan and the Prop 1A measure confused. You should try reading them.

    morris brown Reply:

    @les

    I am not confused at all. So long as the Business plan entails using Prop 1A funding (and it does), it must conform to what Prop 1A demands. It certainly appears that the $64 billion cost estimate for Phase I, eliminates most of the cost in going from 4th and King to TBT.

    This may well be a key point in legislative hearings, since the Authority has been asked to provide much more details on various segments and their costs.

    les Reply:

    Tracks through Palmdale are in Prop 1A also but no mention of them being paid for in the Business Plan.
    Business plan is a short term focus of what is currently being worked on within the context of the long range planes of Prop 1A. Business plan for the next two years is focusing on a IOS which excludes TBT, a station in Modesto, a link to Palmdale and etc. I don’t see anywhere in the Business plan that excludes TBT from the Prop 1a specifications.

    J. Wong Reply:

    No, @morris brown, the Authority is not responsible for paying for HSR. Beyond the $9b in bond funds, Prop 1a did not allocate anything more. The Authority is responsible for finding the funding, but nothing in Prop 1a says they have to find it all at once just like it doesn’t say they have to build it all at once.

    morris brown Reply:

    @ J. Wong

    You really and many others really should get familiar with obligations of the Authority

    please read the Public Utilities code section, the link to which is:

    Public Utilities Code 185033

    J. Wong Reply:

    Nothing in that says the Authority has any authority to fund it by fiat. It would be much easier if they did. If you’re going to blame anyone blame the Legislature.

    les Reply:

    I don’t think Morris reads the literature he post. He post it hoping it contains something backing up his argument but it never does.

    Bahnfreund Reply:

    Just throw links at the wall and hope something sticks…

    Joe Reply:

    Shorter Morris: “Hey HSR! Go make me a sandwich!”

    Bahnfreund Reply:

    HSR’s reply: “I’m a strong, independent agency, I don’t need to make you a sandwich!”

    scnr.

    Ted Judah Reply:

    I’m not really sure this has much to do with the State at all: TransBay Terminal Executive Director Maria Ayerdi-Kaplan was let go last month about the same time news broke that the TBT was also, um, broke. Obviously something changed the political calculus, but it’s hard to pinpoint yet.

    One possibility could be that TBT was relying on the Authority to protect them from Ed Lee’s plan to tear down the I-280 and have CalTrain still stop at 4th and King. Authority staff have already hinted that they consider a station at 4th and King to satisfy Prop 1A….so perhaps they figured the fight with SF wasn’t worth it.

    Either way…the track record (no pun intended) of these mega stations like ARTIC & LAUS has been less than stellar. At this rate, we can only hope Diridon Intergalactic isn’t the new domino to fall….

    Nathanael Reply:

    LAUS is doing OK, though it required multiple revisions of the plans to take the plans from “stupid” (the status of the earliest plans) to “reasonable” (which is what they have now). I think there’s just better oversight in LA, and I couldn’t tell you why.

  8. morris brown
    May 1st, 2016 at 06:28
    #8
  9. J. Wong
    May 1st, 2016 at 10:58
    #9

    O.T. Matt Yglesias over at Vox.com lays out what’s wrong with U.S. train service: Amtrak turns 45 today. Here’s why American passenger trains are so bad..

    He correctly lays it out but is very pessimistic about HSR :-( He’s right that more people ride transit then will ever ride HSR. A 10% increase in funding for Caltrain isn’t going to get 10% of the cars off of 101 the way the last recession did (vastly improving the commute for those of us still with jobs).

    Danny Reply:

    Matt “Squish Those Bangladeshis” Yglesias fails to understand that commuter and HSR would feed into each other and integrate via network effects, raising each demand for one another

    commuter and metro service is neglected because HSR is neglected–it’s not that one’s fed and the other starves, but that rail of any sort jumps through hoops for every crumb while concrete gets showered

    meanwhile airports and highways are expanded and extended as though that addresses their capacity issues: heck, the airlines and ATCs *hate* those half-hour puddle-jumpers since they’re loss-leaders whose only purpose is to feed the hubs–get THEM to pony up

    Bahnfreund Reply:

    Actually there is at least one example in history of an airline actually running trains themselves as a replacement for money losing short hop flights…

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lufthansa_Airport_Express Of course they had some infrastructure to build on…

    Max Wyss Reply:

    And, if I am not too mistaken, all Lufthansa flights between STR and FRA are reserved space on ICE trains.

    Bahnfreund Reply:

    That is my information on the issue as well. However, they don’t own any trains any more. https://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/Datei:Lufthansa_-_AirRail_ticket_Frankfurt-K%C3%B6ln_Hbf_-_LH_6830_-_2008-07-26.jpg (QKL on this “boarding pass” is Cologne main station). Of course America could also have that. I think Austrian Airlines has also replaced many (all?) of its domestic flights since the introduction of railjet (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Railjet) along the Westbahn (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Western_Railway_%28Austria%29)… And that’s only a 230 km/h train…

    Max Wyss Reply:

    I don’t think they ever owned the class 401 trains, but they had a long-term lease. As far as I believe to remember reading, Lufthansa provided the “commercial” staff, but the driver (and maybe a conductor (unless they had some DB staff trained on specific railroad issues)) were from DB.

    Also, when you look at the reservation systems, about half of the connections between LYS and CDG never leave ground. However, there is no baggage through-checking, as far as I know.

    It has been said many times, fast train connections (preferably between airport stations) are in very good interest of the airlines, particularly if one of the airports is restricted with slots. A slot is a slot, no matter whether it is used for a intercontinental A380, or for a local weedwhacker (which could easily be replaced with a fast (not even “pure” high speed) train.

    Edward Reply:

    Tuesday I travel SFO to QKL. In the days before homeland security you used to be able to check your bags through. The odd thing is that SFO-FRA return is $90 more expensive than SFO-FRA-QKL return.

    Bahnfreund Reply:

    Airline pricing is weird in the extreme…

    Danny Reply:

    most airline bookings put all the HSR stops on the list of origins/destinations: it’s treated as a similar mode to the airplane: Expedia et al can integrate CANVHSR into their bookings once it comes online

    Bahnfreund Reply:

    Wouldn’t there have to be some sort of through ticketing to be able to all book it in one go?

    JJJJ Reply:

    United has this with Amtrak, a product of Continental. In fact, if youre flying out of Newark and a price war is going on at the much cheaper Philly airport, booking via 30th Street Philly can save you money.

    Bahnfreund Reply:

    So it is conceivable you can get your LAX-Tokyo flight booked from Transbay Terminal one day?

    Car(e)-Free LA Reply:

    Yes, though that would be odd, seeing as SFO has plenty of Tokyo flights. More likely is Fresno to SFO/Millbrae to Tokyo

    Car(e)-Free LA Reply:

    I have recently been thinking that Palmdale airport may have a future with HSR. Though LAX is doing fine, Palmdale could replace it with HSR connections to Las Vegas, LA, and the Central Valley. (Yes this could become the primary international airport for Vegas). LAX is sitting on literally billions of dollars of real estate, and one could likely find a financer to develop it, in return for paying several billion towards Palmdale. LAX could realistically become a second downtown (a la Canary Wharf) to LA.

    Paul Dyson Reply:

    Palmdale suffers from being highish altitude and having high summer temps, bad for lift. If that is not an issue then Palmdale should be a regional air hub. Any aviation gurus listening?

    Peter Reply:

    The only way Palmdale will become the Los Angeles region’s main airline hub (or even a somewhat busy airport) is if LAX were to close. There are too many airports in the LA region with excess capacity and delusions of grandeur (Burbank, Ontario, Long Beach, and to a lesser extent SNA) for an airport so far from a major population center to become a major hub. While Palmdale may have enough of a population to support an HSR station, no way it would become a major airport.

    The high altitude and high summer temps would not be a major problem for modern airliners, if that were the case, then Las Vegas wouldn’t be such a major hub. Las Vegas’ elevation is only 400′ below that of Palmdale.

    Car(e)-Free LA Reply:

    That’s what I’m proposing. Palmdale becoming a 5 runway international airport to replace LAX and BUR, funded by the development of the incredibly valuable land LAX and BUR sit atop. The reasoning for this being that PMD airport could easily serve Vegas and the Central Valley via HSR, whereas LAX is relatively isolated from the CAHSR line. Also, @Paul Dyson, once CAHSR opens, there no longer will be regional airports in CA. With the opening of CAHSR, PMD could be the primary airport for all of CA.

    Bahnfreund Reply:

    If Europe is anything to go by, the consolidation into a lower number of airports farther out (and the redevelopment of the prime real estate urban airports are wasting) will happen eventually. MUC for example moved out about 30 km on a single day. BER (if and when it ever opens) is a lot farther out from Berlin than TXL, though arguably better connected as the subway to TXL never got built… Of course there are still a handful of more centrally located airports that show no sign of closing down… City in London for one… Probably because you can charge a huge markup for the type of people flying through that airport. I don’t think you can do that for LAX…

    Elizabeth Reply:

    Anyone trying to bet on Palmdale becoming a relief airport should do a little homework on the Ciudad Real airport, which was going to be Madrid’s relief airport. I think Chinese investors are buying it for 10,000 Euro.

    http://www.bbc.com/news/world-europe-33578949

    Joe Reply:

    Palmdale regional airport for LA was considered and rejected. It’s not a new idea and currently BUR, ONT and Orange Co John Wayne airport are all under capacity.

    Car(e)-Free LA Reply:

    I am fully aware of the Ciudad Real Airport fiasco. However I am proposing that PMD not be a relief airport, but a replacement for a torn down and redeveloped LAX and BUR. With HSR, PMD will be a shorter journey from Downtown and Hollywood than LAX. Also, PMD is far closer to LA than Ciudad Real is to Madrid. Finally, this project Gould fun itself by selling off all the land under LAX and BUR to private developers. (Preferably with no height limits for the land.)

    JJJJ Reply:

    Yes, I recently “flew” 30th Street-EWR-MEX. Booked on United.com. Saved me $100 by actually addign Amtrak to my trip.

    Bahnfreund Reply:

    Of course the whole project will only work if you close and redevelop LAX…

    joe Reply:

    The real problem is that even among the set of people who are interested in the idea of a multibillion-dollar transportation infrastructure investment, intercity passenger rail just isn’t that compelling a priority.

    Dude lives in a wealthy urban area so intercity travel is not a priority for him.

    The CA CV is geographically isolated and growing, Intercity travel is very desirable in CA because it’s linking the coastal “haves” with the CV “have less”. It’s access to cheap land and labor with the Corporate HQ and Tech / Creator Centers.

    DC to Boston links the haves with the haves.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    He likes to go to other places along a corridor that is, in round numbers, the same length as San Francisco-Los Angeles. With twice as many people.

    Bahnfreund Reply:

    It’s also a lot less fast than true HSR…

    Domayv Reply:

    and more expensive to build a true HSR compared to LA-SF

    Danny Reply:

    right–like three-quarters CAHSR money are for bringing north-of-SJ and south-of-Palmdale to 120 mph; now imagine nothing BUT that and it’s hitting $200B

    Domayv Reply:

    NEC true HSR would cost more than 130 billion, and really 130 billion would be more than enough to build a complete interstate-style rail network (both regular and HSR) if America took cost control very seriously, like what Canada does.

    Danny Reply:

    Detroit-Montreal is prime HSR territory, with good governance and very level terrain: can’t really take cost control seriously if you’re not building anything!

    Domayv Reply:

    thats mostly Canada, and VIA has proposed a dedicated passenger rail line due to the freight railroads eating up capacity on existing lines (it will be electric and travel at 125 MPH), and it will cost only 4 billion. Compare that with CHSR, which would cost far more (68 billion) than VIA’s new rail line, even if you factor in how much it would cost if the rail line would travel ar 220 MPH.

    Canada knows far more on how to do cost control than the US

    Bahnfreund Reply:

    Those four billion may soon prove to be wasted money when the next government wants to go true HSR… For which it matters little whether the existing line is 125 mph or 60 mph…

    In fact True Dough already says he wants true HSR…

    Domayv Reply:

    @Bahnfreund Ontario’s already proposing an HSR line (I still wonder who this True Dough guy is). VIA’s justification for a 125 MPH line is that it would replace travel by car (though HSR would do that and travel by air) and that it can serve the same stops as the existing service.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    The Canadians have been proposing HSR almost as long as the Americans. This proposal can go on in the filing cabinet with all the other proposals that don’t go anywhere.

    Bahnfreund Reply:

    I think we went through that. It’s Trudeau… Spelled phonetically according to the English pronunciation… And I spell him that way because I am skeptical of the True Dough hype…

    I mean, whether he is the real thing may only get apparent once he’s baked. Might make a nice cake. Until then, the cake is a lie :-P

    And how a 125 mph service can replace cars and a 200 mph cannot is probably a riddle for the ages… Why exactly does VIA argue against true HSR?

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    Because Real Canadians(tm) drive everywhere and those unreal Canadians or real unCanadians don’t deserve 1980s technology.

    Bahnfreund Reply:

    I though real Canadians ™ play Hockey or are fans of the Saskatchewan Roughriders or something…

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    Real Real Canadians curl. They drive to the rink. Taking a stone on the bus would be difficult.

    Bahnfreund Reply:

    Do you have to bring your own stones to the curling rink?

    Oh and Domayv, thanks for the links

    Danny Reply:

    Detroit-QC is wildly profitable for VIA–it’s like how Amtrak’s against upgrading the Capitol Corridor to HSR since it’s their only profitable route after Acela

    Domayv Reply:

    @Danny I thought it was the Surfliner

    Bahnfreund Reply:

    But Via could argue in favor of running HSR along that route because they have experience in running trains, couldn’t they?

    I mean a new HSR system does not have to be run by someone else entirely, does it?

    Jerry Reply:

    Throw in the LIRR and the many other local routes connecting to Acela and you have a public transportation dream or nightmare.

    Max Wyss Reply:

    Or you can say, a joke… You can, for example, not get a ticket from Massapequa, NY to Spotsylvania, VA. And, despite the relatively short travel time, you won’t be able to do a round trip on the same day (but that has more to do with the ridiculous scheduling of VRE).

    Bahnfreund Reply:

    Say what you want about the famously opaque and flabbergasting price system of Deutsche Bahn, but you can buy a ticket pretty much from doorstep to doorstep with them. In fact if you have a Bahn Card 25 (not quite as prevalent as its Swiss Cousin twice removed, but still pretty popular) every long distance ticket automatically includes the bus/tram/subway to your final destination in many German cities. I never quite understood why integrating the ticketing system of all public transport providers is so hard in some places…

    swing hanger Reply:

    Setting aside political issues such as turf wars, the lack of integrated ticketing can be attributed in part to what I would call societal inertia. Frankly, there are just not enough people of the shall we say advantaged social classes using public transport on a regular basis, the kind of groups that would have the critical mass to kick agencies into action. Here in Japan the sheer numbers of commuters using just JR East’s rfid smartcard Suica provided the inertia to cross compatability with other smart card systems nationwide, and that is quite an achievement given the tremendous number of agencies and companies, many being private railways locked in furious competition with each other.

    Bahnfreund Reply:

    So in essence if more people use a mediocre product contrary to expectations, they get rewarded with a good product some decades down the road…

    Sounds as if it were lifted from a German article bitching about Deutsche Bahn

  10. Jerry
    May 1st, 2016 at 15:18
    #10

    It seems that at 4th and King to TTC has become SFs, CalTrain’s, HSR’s Blivet Point.

  11. Reedman
    May 1st, 2016 at 19:29
    #11

    It was all expected to happen ….

    —–

    Former San Francisco Mayor Willie Brown explained how democrats and bureaucrats view government-funded capital projects. In a comment in the San Fransisco Chronicle about the massively over-budget Transbay-Terminal project, Brown said this:
    ” News that the Transbay Terminal is something like $300 million over budget should not come as a shock to anyone. We always knew the initial estimate was way under the real cost. Just like we never had a real cost for the Central Subway or the Bay Bridge or any other massive construction project. So get off it. In the world of civic projects, the first budget is really just a down payment. If people knew the real cost from the start, nothing would ever be approved. The idea is to get going. Start digging a hole and make it so big, there’s no alternative to coming up with the money to fill it in.”

    Joe Reply:

    Democrats and bureaucrats but not Republicans — hilarious. I guess they can’t get elected and just say no to everything as a minority party.

    Bahnfreund Reply:

    Well the one thing the Republicans spent big money on recently (aside from tax cuts) was the Iraq war. And that one has gone “over budget” several times over. Both in terms of billions and in terms of human lives lost. There might have been a case to remove Saddam from power, but most people would not have bought it had it read something like “We gotta remove Saddam and then occupy the country for at least a decade to prevent it from disintegrating into ethnic strive and religious warfare. Also, Saddam used to have weapons of mass destruction but probably doesn’t any more, he still is the closest thing to an actual fascist still around, so there’s that…” – that would have been closer to the truth, but hardly anybody would have bought that line hook line and sinker the same way the media bought the lies the Bush administration fed them…

    EJ Reply:

    Well, remember that Americans, by and large, love war. It makes them feel tough and strong. Here’s Thomas Friedman slobbering with excitement back in 2003:

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZwFaSpca_3Q

    Now, in a civilized country, a degenerate creep like Friedman would be laughed at or pitied, but here he’s one of our most respected pundits.

    Joe Reply:

    “The mustache of understanding”.

    Infrastructure projects cost too much. They’re still less wasteful than fueling our “job creating” war machine.

    Not a peep will come from Ralph “watch dog” Vanderbian about the next billion dollar each stealth bomber because it’s job creating in Palmdale. HSR linking Palmdale to LA is a boondoggle.

    EJ Reply:

    I’m just saying Americans get a lot more excited about building technology to kill foreigners than they do about infrastructure.

    Joe Reply:

    I agree.

    Bahnfreund Reply:

    Some wars are a necessary evil.

    But they are never a positive good.

    Bahnfreund Reply:

    I dislike all absolute blanket statements. (find the irony, it’s intentional)

    So if all infrastructure projects cost too much, do you think building e.g. the transcontinental railroad or the interstate highway system was a mistake?

    Joe Reply:

    IMHO infrastructure projects cost “too much” due to inefficiencies in democratic governing and human nature to mismanage risk.

    They should not stop- I accept the lack of perfection and prefer civil to military investments.

    Bahnfreund Reply:

    So your argument is to find some way to build the same stuff cheaper?

    Danny Reply:

    it’s like with jails–voters in the burbs and boonies always pitch a holy fit about money going to “those people” and “people who don’t work,” and then 2-3x as much gets spent making the prisons into the shelter/warehouse/mental institution/rehab (plus the added bonus of hardening anyone on the inside!)

    Bahnfreund Reply:

    The US has a higher population of imprisoned people than China. And a higher percentage than Apartheid South Africa did in its worst years. Something about that should serve as a wakeup call.

    And the fact that the “most dangerous gang in the world” originated with Salvadorean kids in American prisons should ring a couple of alarm bells…

    Nathanael Reply:

    A higher percentage than Stalin’s gulags, too.

    At this point we are going to need some kind of political revolution to get rid of this crap.

    Danny Reply:

    it fulfills social needs and politically and financially profits “git tuff” pols and sheriff

  12. trentbridge
    May 2nd, 2016 at 07:11
    #12

    I thought the real estate development around the Transbay Terminal should generate substantial tax revenue for SF that will offset the cost of the Transbay Terminal itself. It’s clearly a catalyst for this development…

    Is Salesforce Tower not an example of this…

    Salesforce Tower, formerly known as the Transbay Tower, is a 1,070 ft (326 m) supertall office skyscraper under construction in the South of Market district of downtown San Francisco. Located at 415 Mission Street between First and Fremont Streets, next to the Transbay Transit Center site, Salesforce Tower is the centerpiece of the San Francisco Transbay redevelopment plan that contains a mix of office, transportation, retail, and residential uses. When completed, the tower will be the tallest in San Francisco and a defining building in the burgeoning South of Market area. With a top roof height of 970 feet (300 m) and an overall height of 1,070 feet (330 m), it will be the tallest building and second tallest structure west of the Mississippi River.

  13. Neil Shea
    May 2nd, 2016 at 08:36
    #13

    O/T Bay area council survey says residents want housing built outside of the bay area, more transit options
    http://www.bayareacouncil.org/2016-bay-area-council-poll/

    Joe Reply:

    Awful and selfish nimby housing attitudes. Everyone wants to pull up he ladder behind them and protect their housin investment.

    I wish they’d infill el Camino with dense live work developments and prioritize the bus line. It’s nuts to see single story storefronts given the housing shortage.

    Jerry Reply:

    Agreed. Height restrictions are part of the problem.
    Wonder if Prop. 13 is part of the problem?

    Car(e)-Free LA Reply:

    Absolutely it was. The worst par was the 2/3 tax increase cap, though.

    Bahnfreund Reply:

    Is there a two thirds requirement to get rid of the two thirds requirement?

    Elizabeth Reply:

    You have to go back to the voters. It would only take a majority vote – but the voters actually voted in 2010 to extend the 2/3 majority requirement to most government fees – which used to just be a majority. This btw is why cap and trade as a revenue source past 2020 is an uphill battle – an extension will require 2/3, not 50% – which was the rule in place in 2006 when AB 32 was passed.

    morris brown Reply:

    @ Elizabeth

    Actually the way I read it, they are not going to require a 2/3 vote. Indeed SB-32 got stalled last year and it would extend AB-32 past 2020, but nowhere is a 2/3 vote required.

    Bahnfreund Reply:

    So?

    Put a ballot measure on the ballot for 2020. In fact, couple it with a pot ballot measure, which will draw the young vote…

    Danny Reply:

    LA’s Measure J *lost* with 64.7%

    Car(e)-Free LA Reply:

    I know. It is despicable and undemocratic

    Clem Reply:

    You could do it like Santa Clara measure B (for BART) which was at about 64.7% the day after the election, and still won with 66.78% after “mail in ballots” were counted

    Joe Reply:

    Mail in?! This Chicagoan is unimpressed.

    Try discovering Boxes of uncounted paper ballots.

    Bahnfreund Reply:

    You know if you filed the serial numbers off of those stories, I’d believe they were some tale of a banana Republic somewhere in the tropics…

    Jerry Reply:

    Counting the hanging chads always helps too.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    Or not counting them.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Florida_election_recount

    Bahnfreund Reply:

    Florida does not matter. Al Gore won the 2000 election. By about 500 000 votes…

    John Nachtigall Reply:

    The recount, many months after the decision, showed that Bush won. Everyone leaves that out. The only way to say Hore won is to assume that all of Naders votes were actually intended for Gore. But the reality is the punch was on Naders name.

    http://www.factcheck.org/2008/01/the-florida-recount-of-2000/

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    You must have posted the wrong link because the one that did post says:

    Q: When the votes were recounted in Florida, who won the 2000 presidential election?

    A: Nobody can say for sure who might have won. A full, official recount of all votes statewide could have gone either way, but one was never conducted

    and then goes on to list how Bush could have won and Gore could have won or Bush or Gore or if the undervotes had been examined or…

    Nathanael Reply:

    Nope, John, wrong. I read the newspaper recount, which was done in exacting detail.

    If *all the votes had been counted*, Gore won. No matter what standard you use for ballot counting.

    This is what the Florida Supreme Court ordered, before the Five Traitors decided to steal the election.

    Nathanael Reply:

    The confusion comes from the fact that Gore never requested that all the ballots be recounted; he only requested counting in a few counties, and he wouldn’t have won if only those counties were recounted. Recounting *all* of Florida by *any* consistent standard causes Gore to win.

    Bdawe Reply:

    People making implications of voter fraud really should put-up or shut up. It’s not unheard of for mail-in ballots to have different results than election-day voting. For one, early voters didn’t vote with all the election information that E-day voters had received. Mail-in voters tend to be demographically different than other voters as well.

    Bahnfreund Reply:

    True,

    In this primary for instance early voters vote Clinton in a higher percentage than election day voters…

    Joe Reply:

    Maybe 13 does indirectly. Height of 3 stories is pretty dense. SF is mostly 2-3 stories.

    With 13 taxes are frozen. If I move to an equal property, property taxes will go up on the new home. Better to stay in place and that means home owners behave like middle-earth elves seeking to stop progress and time to protect their non-movable investment.

    FYI there is some infill.
    Our city, by virtue of ca law, allows in-law units and they are going in and impacting the noise and density. They are allowed up to 600 sq ft. That infill impacts our yard and noise level – more people near, more cars and so we put in top of the line windows to block the noise.

    Miles Bader Reply:

    Wonder if Prop. 13 is part of the problem?

    Isn’t prop 13 always part of the problem…?

    Bahnfreund Reply:

    Maybe 13 really is bad luck…

  14. Travis D
    May 2nd, 2016 at 12:25
    #14

    Elizabeth and Nadia, was that you at the last meeting? Or are there others with your names in CAARD?

    I’m curious what was in the handout.

    Elizabeth Reply:

    Yep – that was us, along with Rita Wespi.

    https://drive.google.com/open?id=0Bx5S0AJ0bopyd0xoVkh0REZobFE

    Travis D Reply:

    Thanks for the link.

    You look completely different from how I pictured you.

  15. John Nachtigall
    May 2nd, 2016 at 14:08
    #15

    Transbay admits that CAHSR never promised more that 557 million

    http://www.bizjournals.com/sanfrancisco/blog/2016/04/transbay-high-speed-rail-caltrain-san-francisco.html

    Elizabeth Reply:

    None of this story makes sense –

    The 2012 numbers had HSRA paying part of the cost of the Transbay Terminal and tunnel – which makes sense given they are demanding 2/3 of the platforms and capacity.

    Simply deciding to put in a tiny number for the Transbay cost doesn’t make any sense. First, the cost of the project is definitely not down. Second, the Authority is implicitly saying that SF will contribute the cash. This goes under local sources of funds – not project cost savings.

    In either case, shouldn’t there be a formal arrangement?

    Joe Reply:

    No. They should not have a formal agreement. It’s a commitment that ties up HSR money which is needed to show fund for useful development.

    SF had a plan to fund the TBT with land sales and they thought big and screwed up. The station is not going to help HSR until they can get trains to the station.

    Clem Reply:

    SF should figure out what they really want, because the TJPA’s phase 2 project clearly isn’t it.

    Jerry Reply:

    Really, what do they want?

    Clem Reply:

    They want to redevelop all of 4th & King, that’s what they want.

    synonymouse Reply:

    Going to BART ring the bay and dumping Caltrain would accomplish that. But perhaps too radical today since BART’s star has lost some of its sparkle.

    Perhaps this money pit will make the Bayconic Bridge look like a bargain. And it really is a pit.

    John Nachtigall Reply:

    I know that you know that Transbay is specifically named in prop1a. So how do you not have an HSR stop on a station that is specifically called out?

  16. morris brown
    May 3rd, 2016 at 08:22
    #16

    More Oversight, Not Less, Needed for High Speed Rail

    Another marker on the Authority’s new found desire for more oversight is AB-2847, by Assemblyman Jim Patterson. The bill is speeding through the Assembly on bi-partisan votes. It is due to be heard Wednesday in Assembly Appropriations. It would require more funding information for segments etc. It will be interesting to see if it passes the Legislature, and then whether our Governor will sign it into law.

    Joe Reply:

    Do Nothing Patterson wants more state regulations and bureaucracy.

    The problem isn’t the lack of information, it’s the wealth of misinformation generated by opponents.

    This bill adds overhead and that overhead should be measured and reported. The LAO is awful and its project criticisms are often contrary to the GAO project review. They want more paperwork then let’s itemize it and report the costs. Well call it the Patterseon paperwork bill and tax.

  17. agb5
    May 3rd, 2016 at 09:15
    #17

    Is tomorrow the last day to appeal the Tos court case?

    Zorro Reply:

    I think that lapsed back in April, on the 19th.

  18. Bahnfreund
    May 3rd, 2016 at 13:00
    #18

    Apparently the Madera stop has been selected: http://abc30.com/news/madera-county-selected-for-high-speed-rail-drop-off-point/1319186/

    Jerry Reply:

    Excellent video. It shows the work in progress on the Fresno River HSR bridge which will be finished this summer.
    The stop will be a drop off point for HSR.
    Why can’t people get on the HSR as well?

    Bahnfreund Reply:

    I think both will be possible.

    The contrary would surprise me quite a bit…

  19. Roger Christensen
    May 3rd, 2016 at 13:28
    #19

    As Fresno has sprawled northward, the Madera stop will be closer to hop on for many Fresnans as opposed to downtown. South of downtown, it is fun to see the Cedar Viaduct that will cross 99 starting to take shape.

    Jerry Reply:

    It is fun to see it all take shape.
    Don’t know how often Google Maps get updated, but it will be also fun to see the CA HSR ROW grow across the Central Valley satellite view.

  20. Nathanael
    May 5th, 2016 at 03:26
    #20

    This sort of nuttiness in SF is why CAHSR ought to head for LA first.

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