Thursday Open Thread

Nov 17th, 2016 | Posted by

Apologies for the long gap in posts. I’m not stunned into silence by Trump’s victory – I’ve been waiting for more CA election results so as to post a review of what happened and what it means for HSR. But with 3.4 million ballots left to count, such finality may be a few weeks away. So let’s keep the discussions going here, and I’ll post something tomorrow with a preliminary look at CA results.

  1. Jerry
    Nov 17th, 2016 at 12:52
    #1

    Thank you.
    PS – ’bout time.
    :-)

  2. Aarond
    Nov 17th, 2016 at 12:53
    #2

    I reckon that the remaining ones were done at polling stations. Even though 63% of CA voters voted by mail, we should just follow Oregon and have it be the default mode of operation if only for faster tallying.

    car(e)-free LA Reply:

    yes. yes. yes. yes. yes.

    Eric Reply:

    much agree.

    Bahnfreund Reply:

    I don’t think I ever voted for a state run election (i.e. something that is not a university or church or whatever election but an actual election for anything from city council upwards) at the designated polling station. But I have voted in every state run election I was eligible to vote for. Usually by dumping my mail-in ballot right at city hall thanks to their very generous opening hours…

  3. Roland
    Nov 17th, 2016 at 13:02
    #3
  4. blankslate
    Nov 17th, 2016 at 13:43
    #4

    When is BART to Warm Springs going to open?

    car(e)-free LA Reply:

    I would guess before 2017, but who knows?

    RobBob Reply:

    The SF Chronicle reported that they were “achingly close” on October 19, in time for the elections. We can only surmise that their heart ache has only gotten more intense in the last month, such that it is now interfering with their ability to work.

  5. StevieB
    Nov 17th, 2016 at 15:12
    #5

    California Democrats reclaim Assembly supermajority.

    Assembly Democrats now control at least 54 seats. That margin would allow them to pass taxes, move constitutional amendments to the ballot and amend political spending laws without needing any Republican support. They could still add on, too…

    Still, bills must pass through both the Assembly and the Senate to become law. While Democrats are assured a majority in the Senate, their hopes of winning a supermajority there come down to a yet-to-be-called clash between Assemblywoman Ling Ling Chang, R-Diamond Bar, and Democrat Josh Newman for an open 29th Senate District seat. Chang holds a two-percentage-point lead, and if that holds, Senate Democrats would be one seat short of a supermajority.

    So the election is over but the results are not final.

    Bahnfreund Reply:

    It actually takes a surprisingly long time to count every single last ballot.

    Does the US pay workers to count ballots, are they volunteers or are they “paid volunteers” (i.e. they are volunteers but they receive some monetary compensation)

    When I helped ballot counting I received some 20€ or so, which for two hours of work is not that bad.

    Eric Reply:

    No, it’s quick to count ballots. In most other states, they counted all the ballots on election night.

    The thing is California lets you mail an absentee ballot on election day, so the election result is not known until all these ballots arrive.

    Bahnfreund Reply:

    A possibly stupid question, but: Who pays postage for absentee ballots? I know in Germany postage is free for all domestic absentee ballots (but it isn’t for those mailed in from abroad)

    zorro Reply:

    The Voter does. I always pay for My mail in ballot’s postage.

    Democrats now have a Super Majority in the CA State Legislature, Republicans are now for a while, officially a 3rd wheel…

    As to election results, the State Senate according to Bing is in Democratic hands w/27 out of 40 seats.
    2016 CA State Senate Election Results

    As is the State House(Assembly in CA) according to Bing is in Democratic hands w/55 out of 80 seats.
    2016 CA Assembly Election Results

    Though the results here I think are not final until November 30th 2016.

    Alai Reply:

    Depends on the county actually. SF does not require postage. I also read that the usps will deliver ballots even if they don’t have sufficient postage (the elections dept reimburses them).

    Bahnfreund Reply:

    Sometimes I think the US gives states too much power. And then I remember that California is huge and as we just see its government is so different from the federal government and I start to see why…

  6. agb5
    Nov 17th, 2016 at 16:40
    #6

    It is disappointing that California prides itself as the high-tech capital of the world but can’t manage to rig up some live cameras of the largest construction project in the Americas.

    Other places manage to do this, like here and here.

    In the beginning, the Authority enthusiastically published many high-res photos on its Flicker account, but now all we get is two photos per work-site per month in the monthly progress report.

    And then the Authority complains that people don’t realize construction is really happening!

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    Between the people who want it done right and the people who love to call it a boondoggle they don’t want to spend the money. Because the people who want it done right will whine that they are spending money and the people who think it’s a boondoggle would go nuts.

    Bahnfreund Reply:

    “Largest construction project in the Americas”?

    Well I don’t know, but the Panama Canal and the supposed Nicaragua Canal (if and when it actually is ever built, who knows) would count as both bigger and in the Americas, don’t you think?

    Edward Reply:

    The Panama Canal expansion (third set of locks) was projected to cost $5.25 Billion. It opened about two years late and ended up costing something over $7 billion. It is still in litigation.

    There is now a proposal for a $17 billion estimated cost project for a fourth set of locks that could handle the largest ships afloat. It is just in the planning stage.

    Note that both of these projects include more than just the locks.

    Bahnfreund Reply:

    It really boggles the mind what possible market niche the Nicaraguan Canal could ever hope to have.

    And it will likely severely impact the largest freshwater body between the Great Lakes and South America…

    zorro Reply:

    And isn’t that area populated with a few volcanoes?

    @Edward: A 4th set of locks that will handle anything afloat, Wow!
    That would put a crimp into the UPRR and BNSF for intermodal container trains.

    Bahnfreund Reply:

    Yes, the island of Ometepe (one of the most stunningly beautiful places I ever had the privilege to see with my own eyes) is made up of two volcanoes, one active one dormant https://en.wikivoyage.org/wiki/Isla_de_Ometepe

    There is a semi-apocryphal story that an investment scheme (it might well have been an attempt at a Nicaraguan Canal) failed because of a Nicaraguan stamp showing a smoking volcano.

    Nicas like to call their country “país de lagos y volcanes” and that’s an entirely accurate description. Much more so than the stupidly pretentious “Land der Dichter und Denker” the Germans invented about their homeland.

    JJJ Reply:

    We had a lot of photos over the summer. I think they had a summer intern who went back to school

    Roland Reply:

    It isn’t (that’s why it is called “falsework”).

    Bahnfreund Reply:

    Hä?

    webster Reply:

    Maybe because the Authority isn’t actually building anything…?

    I’ve never known many private contractors who are that interested in setting up cams for the public.

    This site is updated -at least – monthly. At the very least, they’ve stopped going on about the Tuolumne St. Bridge…

    https://www.hsr.ca.gov/buildhsr.html

  7. Joey
    Nov 17th, 2016 at 21:42
    #7

    o/t Amtrak Reports Smallest Operating Loss in Decades

    Amtrak said it posted ticket revenue of $2.14 billion, up $12 million from last year, and total revenue of $3.2 billion.

    Amtrak reported an operating loss of $227 million, improved from a loss of $306.5 million a year earlier. The train operator said 94% of its operating costs were covered by ticket sales and other revenues, up from 92% last year.

    Jerry Reply:

    It’s a WSJ article behind a pay wall.
    But curious as to what $1 Billion in non-ticket revenue is from?

    Bdawe Reply:

    I would assume state-sponsored corridor subsidies mostly, but also Amtrak would be paid for trackage rights on Amtrak-owned rails for freight and commuter services, along with revenue from commuter train contracts

    Jerry Reply:

    Interesting. But counting ‘corridor subsidies’ as revenue might raise the shackles of those who would say that subsidies are not revenue.
    Otherwise an electrified San Joaquin could run on the CA HSR tracks and pay a subsidy to HSR which HSR could then count as revenue.

    Car(e)-Free LA Reply:

    Perhaps just running on HSR tracks alone and not paying track access fees is enough to make it break even.

    Paul Dyson Reply:

    Amtrak results: deferred maintenance plus a pitifully small increase in revenue given the growing travel market. Lucky Wick Moorman inheriting that.

    Bahnfreund Reply:

    Another source of non-ticket revenue would be whatever the various forms of onboard meal service earn. I was told they are losing money, but maybe their losses are counted towards overall losses whereas their gross revenue is counted towards “non-ticket revenue”

    Jerry Reply:

    Maybe it’s all ‘creative bookkeeping’ or ‘voodoo economics’.

    Bahnfreund Reply:

    Well some people account European railroads who actually are making a profit on their long distance trains in regular years of not actually making any profit whatsoever so that they can continue to claim HSR never makes a profit.

    John Nachtigall Reply:

    Actually it is.

    Operating loss means you don’t include depreciation and other expenses.

    Even with that, they are losing 10 cents on every dollar of revenue.

    There is no good news here

    Bahnfreund Reply:

    Does any highway or airport in the US account for depreciation or other expenses? How much money do they make or lose on every dollar?

    John Nachtigall Reply:

    they (highways) are not a private company. As for privatly owned airports, they account for depreciation 100% because everone has to report their GAAP earnings. If you look at Amtak’s actualy press release they said this was the un audited report. i.e., it does not conform to GAAP.

    They are not making money.

    Bahnfreund Reply:

    So, which airport was built by a private company and made money within its first five years of operation?

    AIRPORTS DON’T MAKE MONEY!!!!! SHUT DOWN AIR TRAVEL!!!!!

    Boeing is a Boondoggle!!!!!

    Sorry, but y’all are applying that sort of ridiculous standard to HSR, so I am applying it to the modes of transportation HSR competes with.

    John Nachtigall Reply:

    you are right. All modes of transit receive subsidy. Although your airport example just strengthens my case because if they dont make money over the long term they close the airport.

    So what is the difference between CAHSR and other transport? CAHSR has a law that specifically says they will not receive a subsidy. So, even if they manage to break even on an operational basis, when they take into account depeciation and the other “non-cash” expenses they will lose money. And with no subsidy to feed that loss….failure.

    So if Acela cant break even (on GAAP accounting) why do you think CAHSR will make it?

    StevieB Reply:

    Read the Safe, Reliable High-Speed Passenger Train Bond Act for the 21st Century.

    The law says no later than 90 days prior to the submittal to the Legislature and the Governor of the initial request for appropriation of proceeds of bonds the authority shall have approved and submitted a detailed funding plan for that corridor or a usable segment thereof. The plan shall include, identify, or certify the planned passenger service by the authority in the corridor or usable segment thereof will not require a local, state, or federal operating subsidy.

    The law has no mention of anything other than requiring a plan without operating subsidy before bonds are sold. You are misinterpreting the law when you say “they will not receive a subsidy”. What the legislature provides at a later date is not in the law.

    Bahnfreund Reply:

    If – IF the new California High Speed Rail system had to pay back initial construction and rolling stock costs over a ridiculously short amount of time, it would indeed be a tall order.

    But what likely will happen is an arrangement that is known to work and produce an entity that requires no subsidy. The state will continue to own (most of) the tracks. It is entirely plausible that some private investor might at some point in time buy up some tracks or already build some to be able to charge track access fees, but that is beside the point. The state will then set track access charges either in line with what the market will bear or in line with what a realistic depreciation schedule would demand (e.g. pay back construction plus a bit more over 40 years). Such track access charges exist – as I am sure you are aware by now – in countries such as Germany or France.

    The operator – private or public plays no role here – will pay the track access charges and will of course have to have some capital base to be able to acquire enough trainsets and absorb some initial losses that might be caused by cheap introductory offers and all the other stuff new entrants on the market usually do. However, if what we know to be true for HSR operators around the world and the willingness of Americans to shell out for transportation applies to California, CaHSR will indeed not require a subsidy. There will of course be some “hidden” subsidy in that train stations will work as retail and thus train station access charges can be lowered accordingly, furthermore the “feeder system” for CaHSR will continue to have farebox recovery ratios below 100% (e.g. LA Metro, BART and so on) but that cannot be construed by any rational and well-meaning person as a subsidy being paid to the California High Speed Rail operator.

    If for some reason the state of California is weary of setting up a state owned entity to run the trains, I am sure they can find (given the right regulatory environment) very willing and solvent investors in DB, SNCF or one of the JRs who have been running unsubsidized trains over tracks they have to pay for for some time now.

    StevieB Reply:

    Revenues of the authority, generated by operations of the high-speed train system above and beyond operating and maintenance costs and financing obligations, including, but not limited to, support of revenue bonds, as determined by the authority, shall be used for construction, expansion, improvement, replacement, and rehabilitation of the high-speed train system.

    The California High-Speed Rail Authority does not repay the construction bonds but uses revenue not obligated to operations and maintenance to improve the rail system.

    John Nachtigall Reply:

    @steveB

    That is an interesting interpretation. So if they lie in the plan, and then get a subsidy you are ok with that? If they try it we will let a court sort it out. It is clearly the intent and the letter of the law to operate without a subsidy. They are supposed to follow the plan, why else make it.

    @bahnfruend

    You are just making stuff up now. None of what you write is in the business plan. As Amtrak wrote, no one operates without a subsidy. CaHSR will not be the first

    Bahnfreund Reply:

    DB Fernverkehr and whatever the name of SNCF long distance is in French as well as Eurostar all operate without a subsidy. Amtrak is distorting and twisting things with their statement. And that’s not even getting into Japan.

    StevieB Reply:

    @ John Nachtigall

    You use intent and letter of the law incorrectly regarding a subsidy. The letter of the law is the precise wording rather than the spirit or intent. The Proposition 1a wording requires a plan without operating subsidy before bonds are sold. The law has no mention of consequences if the plan is not a success and that will not be known until trains are operating on a completed California High-Speed Rail system.

    Bahnfreund Reply:

    There’ll be no subsidy. Trust me.

    Jerry Reply:

    Maybe the NEC has a lot of business ‘three martini lunches’ on board it’s trains.

    Bahnfreund Reply:

    I would not discount the possibility

    Bdawe Reply:

    It’s revenue all the same for the purposes of Amtrak’s owners, the Federal Government

    Jerry Reply:

    So if we let Amtrak (Fed. Gov.) Run CA HSR trains can subsidies be provided in violation of Prop. 1A?
    (It’s just revenue. And all the same.)

    Bahnfreund Reply:

    Why would the Feds do that?

    Also, what makes you think that a country that bears the 50 ct. per km of the Acela won’t bear prices at which Japanese (a bit north of 20ct/km) and European (a bit north of 10 ct/km) HSR are profitable?

    Joey Reply:

    I got to it through Google News originally. If you search the article title it will be the first result.

    Jos Callinet Reply:

    No matter what Amtrak’s operating loss may be, I think that, as I said in a previous post, that 2017 will be Amtrak’s final year of operating any trains other than, perhaps, the Northeast Corridor.

    Why? Because Republicans now control all three branches of government, and they will very likely seize the moment to zero out Amtrak’s funding, something they have been wanting to do for the longest time, now that they, at long last, have had the opportunity handed to them.

    Ride your long distance trains now, while you still have time.

    J. Wong Reply:

    Some Republicans do want to kill Amtrak, however, the only reason Amtrak continues to exist in its long distance form is serving the vast tracks of red-state America. When push comes to shove, I expect most of the Republican senators of those states won’t kill Amtrak.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    Then why didn’t they when they had the opportunity during the second Bush Administration?

    Bdawe Reply:

    Because both political parties, (and dramatically more so the Republicans) have moved away from the political center in every election,

    Bahnfreund Reply:

    Remember that there were fights over Amtrak during the Bush administration. They demanded Amtrak become profitable, but than Amtrak Boss (forgot his name, but many people think he was the best Amtrak ever head) more or less called the bluff and said “Yeah, profitability is not happening for highways so why should it for Amtrak”

    Ultimately the red states love their long distance trains too much for them to ever want to give up on Amtrak…

    Jos Callinet Reply:

    @Bahnfreund: I believe you are thinking of David Gunn, who I also think has been, to date, Amtrak’s best leader. He is now retired and living in Nova Scotia Province, Canada.

    Bahnfreund Reply:

    Yes, that was the name…

    John Nachtigall Reply:

    Aren’t you the one that said Amtrak was a “private” company?

    Highways are a public good, Amtrak is a private company

    Bahnfreund Reply:

    Amtrak is a private company owned by the government. I don’t understand how that continues to stump you.

    John Nachtigall Reply:

    well private companies have to make a profit. How do you resolve the fact that Amtrak has ALWAYS lost money. Private companies are supposed to be “for profit” This is capitalism

    PS. Technically Amtrak is not owned by the government, they are supported by the government but supposed to be privately owned. Which continues to be ridiculous because private companies cant lose money and collect it from the government.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Amtrak#cite_note-1

    PPS. According to Amtrak no country in the world operates without a subsidy. interesting

    https://www.amtrak.com/servlet/ContentServer?c=Page&pagename=am%2FLayout&cid=1246041980246

    In FY 2015, Amtrak earned approximately $3.2 billion in revenue and incurred approximately $4.3 billion in expense*. No country in the world operates a passenger rail system without some form of public support for capital costs and/or operating expenses

    Bahnfreund Reply:

    Well Amtrak is stretching the definition of the term “technically true” to the breaking point here. You see, DB and SNCF (I do not know about the JRs) run both long distance and regional trains. The regional trains receive a subsidy, the long distance trains do not. All trains pay for track access to a government owned company that is supposed to make a profit (and usually does make a profit). However, even so the long distance subsidiaries of SNCF and DB make a profit in normal years and the income through subsidies for the regional train operators under the DB or SNCF umbrella is clearly indicated in the official financial statements. So Amtrak is correct insofar as European railroads for the most part receive a subsidy, but they fail to mention that those railroads that are in the business Amtrak is in (“National intercity passenger rail”) do not receive a subsidy in France or Germany. And there are also “private” operators like the Italian “Italo” or Franco-British Eurostar (both part-owned by SNCF) which do not receive a subsidy and in the letter case have already reached profitability.

    Furthermore there are quite a handful of operators that run trains over German rails without receiving a subsidy. There will be for instance locomore starting in late 2016 and there are various companies running sleeper trains and train you can take a car on since DB does not think money can be made in that field.

    Amtrak of course likely knows that this statement is stretching the truth even without discussing Japan, but they know that it helps them politically if people believe the statement to be accurate. Because Amtrak does not have enough clout to get the investment it would need to be able to charge enough to run a profit but it does have enough clout to keep the current subsidy up and running, mostly because red state senators rightly believe it brings them more in tourism dollars than it costs them in political capital.

    To make the whole thing a bit more obvious: Would you be willing to pay more for a 2:20h train ride from LA to San Francisco than for a 6:30h train ride over the same stretch? And remember that some fixed costs will be spread over three trips rather than one (e.g. a given crew hour will yield thrice as much seat hours per crew member on a train that is thrice as fast)

    Running trains faster improves the business case from both ends. You can sell more seats at a higher price and you have lower labor costs per seat you can offer in any given time. In exchange you might have slightly higher costs for motive power.

    John Nachtigall Reply:

    great, so we agree that Amtrak does not make money and never will

    Eric Reply:

    According to the OP, Amtrak currently covers 94% of its costs. Seems to me like going from 94% to 101% is entirely possible…

    Bahnfreund Reply:

    I never called into question that Amtrak currently does not cover its operating costs. But I am weary of statements that proclaim a certain thing impossible for all eternity.

    For example the “Auto-train” was run by a private company for a decade during a time of much lower gas prices. They did make a (small) profit. Of course Amtrak is a “political company” and its primary goal is not to make money but to satisfy political demands. If Amtrak were a company solely interested in making money, they would likely eliminate a few routes that make no business sense but make a lot of political sense. This would likely improve the business case.

    If Amtrak were to own more tracks and were to be able to get a newer and more modern fleet and if trains were thus enabled to run faster and if it became politically desirable to radically alter the route map of Amtrak, I am quite confident that a profitable Amtrak could be created. I do not think it likely and I doubt there will be any political climate to enable such a thing for years to come, but given the right investment and political will to make tough choices, especially regarding some long distance routes it could be done.

    zorro Reply:

    @ John Nachtigall: Amtrak could make a profit, but to do so means spending money for Construction, and to stop the neglect of Passenger Rail in the USA. Congress just chooses to do nothing about this as usual, but then Congress is run by Cheapskates who like making tax cuts that make deficits, more than spending money.

    Bahnfreund Reply:

    Precisely.

    John Nachtigall Reply:

    Amtrak is a “private” company. They don’t need congress to do jack, they should stand on their own feet.

    And Amtrak does not make 94% of its costs. It can’t exclude other costs. As shown above covered 75% of its costs in revenue. Use GAAP number like any good accountant.

    As for spending capital, we are back to your argument that if I just invest 100s of biklion up front, like Japan, then it is “profitable”. That is only profit in socialism, in capitalism we call that misallocation of capital

    Joey Reply:

    I don’t think Amtrak could ever be made to stand on its own, but I agree that the current situation is probably the worst of both worlds – it gets public funding without much accountability as to how it is spent.

    Bahnfreund Reply:

    Well, sorry your airline can’t be profitable with half a hang glider. In capitalism we call that “spend money to make money”. The JRs have by now paid back the construction costs of all the stuff they took over upon privatization and they have also paid for their new projects out of pocket. Amtrak cannot pay out of pocket because it lacks a sufficient revenue stream to do so and it cannot borrow money towards future revenue because… Well in a word: Congress.

    And if you learned a bit about socialism you’d know that socialism is precisely not about profit.

    car(e)-free LA Reply:

    I don’t see any reason why Amtrak shouldn’t be subsidized. Who cares if it makes money? Its a miniscule portion of the federal budget.

    Bahnfreund Reply:

    While I agree that Amtrak should be subsidized and the amount of money that costs is not such a big deal, but a railroad requiring no subsidy is a bit harder to shut down than one that does. So ceteris paribus I’d prefer one that does not need a subsidy.

    car(e)-free LA Reply:

    Yes, and I doubt that CAHSR, built along one of the most optimal corridors for HSR anywhere, will require an operating subsidy. Nobody expects or mandates that CAHSR pay back capital costs.

    Bahnfreund Reply:

    Well the only way CaHSR could possibly need a subsidy is if the track access charges are set to an insanely high level. But that is unlikely to happen as the tracks will likely remain a property of the state of California and the likely source of any hypothetical subsidy would be the state of California as well. So that would just be left pocket right pocket.

    If track access charges are set at or below the levels in France or Germany (which, to belabor a point are artificially high) there will not be a need for a subsidy. There may be individual years that the HSR operator may be in the red, but every big business has years like that.

    Bdawe Reply:

    Highways are no more a public good than any other form of transportation. In economists terms, they are both rivalrous and excludable. We have merely spent many billions of dollars pretending otherwise

    John Nachtigall Reply:

    given that all transport is a public good (and subsidized) I agree, no more than any other form of transportation…which is that they are all a public good.

    Aarond Reply:

    The long distance trains are the hardest to kill, as the districts they serve are so small that nuking their tourist dollars means instant primary challenges. Even VP Pence, as IN’s Governor, kept the Hooiser State alive.

    Amtrak exists to serve places like Crawfordsville IN, Prince WV, Elko NV and Devil’s Lake ND. Which is partially why it’s not useful as an actual intercity rail service, because it’s provided for small towns not big cities.

    I’m more worried that the GOP might float another NEC privatization scheme again, but I don’t think it would float given where the incoming President is from.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    There aren’t any big cities in North Dakota

    Aarond Reply:

    yes that’s my point. Amtrak exists for small towns, not big cities.

    Bahnfreund Reply:

    Given that Trump walks like a Banana Republic Kleptocrat, quacks like a Kleptocrat and looks like a Kleptocrat, I would not put it beyond him to run a typical Kleptocrat scheme: Privatize everything that makes money into his own pockets or the pockets of friends and allies and run away with the profits.

    Somoza for instance was the only licensed importer for Mercedes Benz in Nicaragua. Mercedes then as now is a major manufacturer of buses. What did Somoza do with the national railroad? Exactly, he neglected it so that it would not harm his bus business.

    Dictators are usually petty and greedy people.

    Aarond Reply:

    The US rail industry only survived due to Republican-led deregulation in the 80s. Amtrak was part of this scheme, it’s creation allowed RRs to dump pax service without creating political whiplash. The GOP won’t dump Amtrak because of that, Pence is a perfect demonstration of it.

    The NEC is peculiar as it’s break even but I doubt there is enough support inside the GOP to modify it. Even Trump himself is probably against it as it goes against his campaign narrative and makes two notable projects (Gateway Tunnels and Empire Station) more difficult.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    Except that it happened in the 70s and was done by Democrats.

    Bahnfreund Reply:

    Nixon was the guy who actually created Amtrak (and set it up to fail), but the Democrats did have a majority in both houses for most of the time until 1994. Of course back then there were a lot of white Southern racist Democrats who were more conservative than some Republicans.

    Danny Reply:

    the hardline Pence was cheerfully seen at every Chicago Hub project, while the “moderate” Kasich was the one who turned down OhHSR money because it might succeed

    Jos Callinet Reply:

    Perhaps he’s a KLEPTO-DUCK – quack, quack!

    Bahnfreund Reply:

    I chuckled

    car(e)-free LA Reply:

    Ever heard of a filibuster?

    Bahnfreund Reply:

    Aren’t the Republicans hell-bent on getting rid of it?

    Car(e)-Free LA Reply:

    They can, but then when the Dems come back into power, as is inevitable, they won’t be able to affect anything.

    Bahnfreund Reply:

    Well, maybe they hope to be able to manipulate the system enough for that never to occur…

  8. Loren Petrich
    Nov 18th, 2016 at 02:40
    #8

    BART has construction cameras for its Warm Springs and Berryessa extensions. Portland Tri-Met had a construction camera for its light-rail bridge over the Willamette River. So it is certainly feasible.

  9. morris brown
    Nov 18th, 2016 at 06:44
    #9

    Foreign train parts? Never mind, says California High-Speed Rail Authority

    Well, Well! Dan Richard and the Authority back off on asking for a waiver to buy off shore. This didn’t take long did it? Here is a lesson to the Authority; don’t mess with you few political allies.

    Another black eye for the Authority.

    les Reply:

    Heaven forbid that the authority wants to save a few million bucks and a few years on the timeline.

    Car(e)-Free LA Reply:

    I know. It’s silly to oppose such a thing.

    Bahnfreund Reply:

    But this is ‘Murica! We need an ‘murican train. Even if it costs five times as much, breaks down twice as much and is worse in every other regard as well…

    Jerry Reply:

    Maybe they saw the writing on the wall with the election of Trump.

    Aarond Reply:

    My thought exactly as well. Regardless of what happens it’s obvious that the incoming Transportation Secretary will not allow the FRA to grant the waiver. Pulling out now saves face.

    Wells Reply:

    What’s the difference between the Trump and Hitler?
    A button mustache on Trump would be orange.

    Bahnfreund Reply:

    Hitler was better at painting.

    Roland Reply:

    Hitler won the election: https://youtu.be/ZvO0ao8lqbk

    Bahnfreund Reply:

    The 1933 election (which did result in a NSDAP-DNVP coalition led by Hitler getting a parliamentary majority) cannot be called free and fair. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/German_federal_election,_March_1933

    Roland Reply:

    You should read the sub-titles instead of listening to the rantings. This is definitely a lot more fun.

  10. morris brown
    Nov 18th, 2016 at 07:59
    #10

    Congressman Garamendi Champions “Make It In America” for the California High Speed Rail Program

    Lesson to the Authority: Don’t mess with Garamendi!

    Paul Dyson Reply:

    Note the geography. Matsui and Garamendi not a million miles from Siemens, Sacramento. Of course sooner or later they will confront the reality that the operating company will want that trains that work straight out of the box, not some incomplete R&D project.

    Jerry Reply:

    Garamendi.  “Infrastructure projects ranging from high speed rail to highways to transit to airports are the principle immediate middle class job opportunities available to Americans. It is imperative that all infrastructure projects spend American taxpayer dollars on American made equipment and services.  I am confident that the American manufacturing sector will step up to meet the challenges of producing all that is needed to build high-speed trains, highway, bridges, buses, and transit systems in America if we enforce the Buy America standards.”

    Bdawe Reply:

    Reason No. 287 why America Cant Have Nice Things

    les Reply:

    I wonder if a Pratt & Whitney PW1000G engine could work in an HSR. They certainly have had their problems working in A320s. :)

    agb5 Reply:

    Make everything in America does conflict somewhat with the other goal of having “fair” trade deals.
    Fair trade means you have to import something if your want to export something else.
    Germany already refused to sign Obamas signature TTIP trade deal because it was too one sided and did not allow German companies to bid on US military procurement.
    Trump insists he is going to re-negotiate it to make it even more one sided !

    Bahnfreund Reply:

    Well once Le Pen dissolves the EU and the AfD takes over Germany, the American Fascist Party (Trump’s renamed party) will be able to negotiate all the trade deal they like between the dear leader and his allied countries…

    Seriously though, TTIP is dead. Nobody in Europe is going to take the political risk of signing it. Especially not with the “investment protection courts” in it.

    car(e)-free LA Reply:

    Come on. That’s ridiculous.

    Bahnfreund Reply:

    What’s ridiculous? The new name of Trump’s Party? Yeah, granted. Maybe it will be the “MAGA-Party” instead… Or he just co-opts the existing not so grand not so old party.

    I still weep for the spirit of Lincoln and U.S. Grant that lies buried beneath all the bullshit and rubble.

    Car(e)-Free LA Reply:

    No. The fact that Europeans oppose the TTIP (and CETA, for that matter.) But also the other stuff as well.

    Bahnfreund Reply:

    Well most Europeans have either no opinion or a negative opinion of TTIP and CETA. Don’t ask me why.

    agb5 Reply:

    This is why: TTIP reading room

    Bahnfreund Reply:

    How many laws (excluding the constitution) does the average citizen ever read in their entirety? I’d wager even some members of the very legislatures that pass them never bother to read every single word of every single law.

    Woody Reply:

    They don’t read a word of any law or treaty. They ask their donors (lobbyists) to explain it to them in 25 words or less.

    Bahnfreund Reply:

    So how again is it such a big scandal that many people don’t know what the text of TTIP says?

    John Nachtigall Reply:

    How is that liberal voter elitism working for you? Seems like it’s not working so well

    Car(e)-Free LA Reply:

    I don’t see how wanting the majority of people who don’t understand policy very well to become more informed is either elitist, failing, or a bad thing.

    Bahnfreund Reply:

    Look, I would like for people to understand what it is they are supporting or opposing. But the truth of the matter is, most people don’t know nearly enough about politics. Unfortunately there is very close to nothing we can do about that in the short run as the adults among them won’t be reached by more or better civics classes and experience shows that even if you have good hard hitting journalism, it will mostly preach to the choir.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    No they don’t understand. In the past two weeks a half dozen rabid Trump supporters have gleefully told me that now that Dear Leader will be in office the Democratic Party’s Platform will be enacted.

    Car(e)-Free LA Reply:

    I met a trump supporter today who was on Bernie’s side, but claimed they switched to trump because they thought he would address climate change, and Clinton was a climate denier. Idiot!

    John Nachtigall Reply:

    that is not what you said. You did not say “It is important that people read before they vote”

    what was said was

    “They don’t read a word of any law or treaty. They ask their donors (lobbyists) to explain it to them in 25 words or less.”

    and

    “How many laws (excluding the constitution) does the average citizen ever read in their entirety? I’d wager even some members of the very legislatures that pass them never bother to read every single word of every single law.”

    Flat out saying people are uninformed

    Why don’t you just assert that people “vote against their interests” and be done with it. Stop assuming everyone is stupid and/or ignorant that disagrees with you. Or better yet don’t stop doing that, the GOP is having fun winning.

    Car(e)-Free LA Reply:

    I don’t think anybody on this blog thinks anyone who disagrees with them is stupid and ignorant. I think we can agree they more than half of people are fairly uninformed over almost all policy, and that is one of the reasons to have a representative democracy. The unfortunate fact is that most people don’t get the nuances of politics, and there are plenty of smart people who do, all along the political spectrum.

    Bahnfreund Reply:

    There are uniformed voters for all parties.

    And to a certain degree I do not begrudge people that they do not spend an hour a day to inform themselves about politics (which would be the very minimum to be considered “informed”).

    There is no way we can exclude uninformed people from voting without ending up in some form of authoritarian rule. The only thing we can try to do is try and inform people.

    Unfortunately an increasing amount of people is not only misinformed but view facts that challenge their beliefs as suspect. I don’t know whether mister Nachtigall would agree, but I myself view myself as a person who likes their belief challenged and I think I have admitted being wrong once or twice in the past. Unfortunately, there is an amount of people who scream about “Lügenpresse” and share every dumb alt-right meme they can find. And there are also uniformed idiots on the “left”. And yes, I consider that a threat to democracy.

    John Nachtigall Reply:

    I love debate, why else hang out here where most people disagree with my political views. Sameness is boring.

    I do object to saying people are uninformed. in general people only use that when they don’t agree. It’s elitist thinking and dangerous

    As a white, male, rich, smart (98% percentile), and educated person there is no system in the world where I don’t get more power than the average person. No system except democracy, where my vote is 1. Same as everyone else.

    To,protect people from me and people like me who “know better” we need to respect democracy and everyone’s vote

    Car(e)-Free LA Reply:

    Yes nachtigall, many of us are in a similar life to yours, but nobody has said that they believe anyone who disagrees with them is uninformed. That is horrifying. Furthermore, I believe in one person one vote ( a reason to oppose the electoral college, fyi). However I don’t consider an average Joe informed enough to determine specific wonkish policies. That is the beauty of representative democracy. The people vote in a leader who shares their same fundamental views, and that leader dedicates significant time to figuring out if various ultracomplicated policies best fit their constituents needs. The fact is, most people don’t understand the details of trade agreements or tax codes, for example.

    Bahnfreund Reply:

    We don’t have time to become experts in most of the stuff we need in our daily lives. Instead we hire experts to do them for us. Why is politics so different in this?

    Also, if you tried to limit the vote to “informed” voters, who ever gets to decide what “informed” means has the power of dictatorship. And that is why such a limit is a really bad and really dangerous idea.

    John Nachtigall Reply:

    Thats the point, you get to vote even if you are not an “expert” and you vote counts just as much as an “expert”. I have no problem with representative democracy, but the elitism expends to votes for those representatives. Hence the criticism of Trump voters as racist, sexist, ignorant, uneducated boobs. They exercised their right to vote for a candidate. They should get to do that without being called names.

    Because as you point out, whomever gets to decide who is “educated” will just be a fancy dictatorship. I dont think we disagree on the principle, I just object to the observation that most voters are “uninformed” I dont agree with that and I think it implies that the person speaking (writing) it is somehow better than them.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    As soon as they stop calling people in the cities pointy headed libbbbbbbbbruuls. Who don’t no nothing about “real” life. who are called rude because they live in reality.

    Bahnfreund Reply:

    I think there is a very real and very dangerous disconnect in many Western societies. For instance, Helmut Kohl was a punching bag for political cartoonists long before he ever got into any position of power. And why not? He was (and is) obese, his speech was clumsy and hard to understand (which has not gotten better with age), he has less charisma than a dirt road on a Saturday. Yet he had an enraging and bewildering knack for staying in power. No matter how much people would make fun of his propensity to invite the heads of state and heads of government of other countries to his home in Oggersheim (yes, that name sounds inherently funny even in German) to eat https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Saumagen whatever this is, he would just win election after election. Why? Because the people writing all those articles were mostly well educated well of people from Munich or Berlin or at least Frankfurt. And the people voting Kohl were people listening to Schlager and wearing the same doofy clothes as Kohl and spending their vacations in the same Austrian valleys. Kohl in a very real sense was more German than most Germans. And people in the media did not like him. And all that even though voting Kohl went against the best economic interest of the vast majority of his voters.

    I think a similar disconnect is going on in the US.

    Curiously, Nicaragua has another kind of disconnect. There is a small “liberal” (there meaning quite another thing than in Germany or the US) elite writing lofty editorials about democracy and the dangers of infinite reelection, which might make sense sitting at a front porch of a colonial style home in Granada, but they do not trump the very real sense of “Ortega or his people (literally) gave me a roof for my house” or “For decades the dirt road was our only link to the world. Ortega had the road paved”. Ironically Ortega and his Sandinista Front started out as elitist college types who talked a big talk of communism and did not fundamentally know what life as a peasant was actually like. But then the national alphabetization crusade happened and thousands of young idealistic college types were sent into the poorest parts of the country to teach people reading and writing. The Managua elites were never the same after that. Don’t get me wrong, Ortega is still a scumbag and on some level he does not and can never understand young people in Nicaragua today, but he knows more about the economic woes of ordinary Nicaraguans than many other political figures.

    You don’t have to be a good person to be a leader, but you can’t be as dumb as you seem.

    John Nachtigall Reply:

    It’s not the GOP that is concentrating on identity politics.

    And this phrase “voting against your interest” has to stop. People always vote for what they believe to be in their interests. For example

    If the GOP candidate promises to cut my taxes voting for them would be in my best interest. But that means less money for schools. which I use. But as a citizen I decide to vote for the candidate raising my taxes because I believe it is in my best inteterests.

    So when you are a liberal and exactly that you are a hero. But if a Voter who votes for a trump for any reason you are a traitor and a racist and a sexist and a deplorable and uninformed and uneducated.

    And adirondaker , we all live in reality.

    Joe Reply:

    What you wrote is called gaslighting John and you haven’t the brains to pull it off.

    John Nachtigall Reply:

    Ok joe, you keep pushing those identity politics while insulting me, the GOP, and everyone who disagrees with your political view in general. I mean is not like the GOP controls the Presidency, Legislature, SCOUS, and 3/4th of the state governments. It’s working like a charm.

    Keep convincing yourself that you would have “won” if it was not for all those stupid voters. Better yet your political positions are perfect and it’s just the ignorance of the voters.

    Car(e)-Free LA Reply:

    Okay:
    Identity politics are generally terrible.
    Voting for your best interest is selfish. I vote for who I think is best for America and the world as a whole.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    If we all live in reality explain the neighbors who have been gleefully telling me that that Donald Trump is going to implement the Democratic Party Platform. With a dash of Socialist.

    joe Reply:

    Ok joe, you keep pushing those identity politics while insulting me, the GOP, and everyone who disagrees with your political view in general

    I was specifically writing to you about gaslighting, not everyone who disagrees with me.

    White supremacists is identify politics. You haven’t theintellctual capacity to argue it so you gaslight — accuse others of what you do. Not bright and unprincipled.

    Conservative presidential candidate wrote today:

    Evan McMullin
    White supremacists now force a GOP decision: Allow hate to become mainstream in the party or expel it immediately.

    Repudiating and eradicating the white supremacist movement is a primary duty of our leaders, conservative and liberal alike. Let us do it.

    To my fellow conservatives: let us not leave it to the left alone to condemn these white supremacist Trump allies.

    I see a coward trolling and gas lighting — a man who a few days ago disavowed Trump but now embraces him and is blind to the cancer because he wants to win an argument on a comment.

    Conservatives reject the man and what he’s done to the GOP.

    John Nachtigall Reply:

    I have not wtitten anything to embrace Trump. I embrace democracy, even when it gives me an answer I don’t like. Just because you can’t tell the difference is not on me.

    now I am making a valid argument. I am making no attempt to make anyone question their sanity of memory (which is what gaslighting is). Accusing everyone who voted for Trump (of which I am not one) of being a white supremist is just not supported by the facts. In districts that voted for Obama just 4 Years ago Donald won. Are some Trump supporters racists white supremacsts. Yes. Are they all, absolutely not.

    in the last few months you have accused me of being a coward, a hypocrite, a troll, an idiot, and now supporting racism. The only one here spewing hate is you.

    Adirondaker

    I have no idea what Trumps policies are because they change so often, but his current financial plan is big infrastructure and big deficits. Other than the tax cuts it’s the same as Paul Krugman.

    Bahnfreund Reply:

    More people voted for Hillary Clinton than for Donald Trump. I am not blaming voters, I am blaming the system.

    John Nachtigall Reply:

    Are you going to re-run the election with your new rules. Because for the umteenth time, the GOP strategy was never to maximize popular vote. So if you are so interested in fairness then why would you change the rules AFTER the vote?

    Trump didn’t run anything in CA. No ads, nothing. I sat through Hilary ads every day. Now why she would spend money in CA when she had a 30 Point lead is beyond me. Money better spent in Wisconsin.

    No one knows how the election would turn out if the popular vote mattered. This is no more relevant than the cutprrent story about how there is no evidence of tampering, but we need a recount because it must have been fraud.

    StevieB Reply:

    Under the Trump infrastructure plan corporations own what they build and are paid 82% of the cost in tax rebates. The corporations then charge for use of the infrastructure. Projects already planned such as pipelines could be paid for by the government in a huge giveaway. Projects are chosen that make a corporate profit and not for the public good.

    Paul Krugman’s infrastructure would be owned by the government for the public good. The projects are more diverse and include repairs to deficient bridges and needed transportation that does not show a profit. To say they are the same takes a narrow, ridiculous view of the world.

    Joe Reply:

    I have not wtitten anything to embrace Trump. I embrace democracy, even when it gives me an answer I don’t like. Just because you can’t tell the difference is not on me.

    Principled conservatives oppose Trump and his use of racism.

    There’s no neutral position and You have a moral obligation to speak out.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    They weren’t asking you your opinion of either party’s platform. They expect the Republican to implement polices that have been in the Democratic Party’s platform since before Paul Krugman was born. The broad outline of Democratic Party’s platform has been surprisingly consistent all of his life.

    One of the two-minute-hate sessions at Trump rallies would be to build the wall. Nobody brought that up. Republicans are busy shoving that down the memory hole. Another two-minute-hate would be about locking her up. That came up. That’s already down the memory hole. That’s not part of either party’s platform. Yet another two minute hate would be repealing Obamacare. As near as I can tell the current Republican position is to repeal it all and then put it all back in place. I’m going to hazard a guess that they deeply regret rebranding Romneycare as Obamacare and hope that changing a few jots and tittles will rebrand it at Trumpcare. As near as I can tell the Trumpistas who talked about health care, want single payer. What was being branded as Hillarycare 20 years ago.
    Some of the other stuff came right from Bernie Sander’s mouth. They expect Donald Trump to give it to them. They live in an alternate reality.

    John Nachtigall Reply:

    Well StevieB I hate to break it to you, but Krugman himself has endorsed Trumps economics

    http://www.nytimes.com/2015/09/07/opinion/paul-krugman-trump-is-right-on-economics.html
    http://krugman.blogs.nytimes.com/2016/11/11/the-long-haul/?module=BlogPost-Title&version=Blog%20Main&contentCollection=Opinion&action=Click&pgtype=Blogs&region=Body

    And people noticed. He is clear he hates Trump but he is trapped because according to his theories his economic plan should work.

    http://www.nationalreview.com/corner/442296/krugman-trumps-economic-plans-are-because-i-dont-know

    I am a deficit hawk and thereforce dont like any version of this plan, Krugman or Trump. I also would cut government spending but not taxes and work to balance the budget as quickly as possible. Just another reason not to support him

    @Joe

    I didnt vote for Trump, I do oppose him and his plans and have states all the reason why in this very thread. I live in CA that is sending all electoral votes to Hilary and so therefore I have 0% blame for Trump winning.

    I am also against racism and agree it should be fought.

    You are the one who keeps bringing up that I am white, trying to establish some kind of “privilege” argument that I should shut up. Again, that is just racism to treat someone different because of race.

    StevieB Reply:

    @John Nachtigall
    You are wrong again. Trump’s corrupt plan is explained this week in Build He Won’t by Paul Krugman NOV. 21, 2016.

    To understand what’s going on, it may be helpful to start with what we should be doing. The federal government can indeed borrow very cheaply; meanwhile, we really need to spend money on everything from sewage treatment to transit. The indicated course of action, then, is simple: borrow at those low, low rates, and use the funds raised to fix what needs fixing.

    But that’s not what the Trump team is proposing. Instead, it’s calling for huge tax credits: billions of dollars in checks written to private companies that invest in approved projects, which they would end up owning. For example, imagine a private consortium building a toll road for $1 billion. Under the Trump plan, the consortium might borrow $800 million while putting up $200 million in equity — but it would get a tax credit of 82 percent of that sum, so that its actual outlays would only be $36 million. And any future revenue from tolls would go to the people who put up that $36 million.

    The goal of the Trump Infrastructure Plan is corruption.

    Again, all of this is unnecessary. If you want to build infrastructure, build infrastructure. It’s hard to see any reason for a roundabout, indirect method that would offer a few people extremely sweet deals, and would therefore provide both the means and the motive for large-scale corruption. Or maybe I should say, it’s hard to see any reason for this scheme unless the inevitable corruption is a feature, not a bug.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    So you voted for Gore in 2000? The administration that was able to give us surpluses that were going to eliminate the debt, not the defiicit, the debt itself, by 2011 or 2012?

    The Krugman cite from 2015 was back when Mr. Trump wanted to raise taxes on rich people. Apparently he has changed his mind since then.

    Aarond Reply:

    Trump’s plan is more or less what the CA does with big utilities (NG expansion gets approved no problem) so really who cares. Also if Trump’s plan means $40 billion for CAHSR and billions more for NY area milk projects, why complain?

  11. Jos Callinet
    Nov 18th, 2016 at 09:42
    #11

    I’m curious as to why, in this age of rapid computing, it STILL takes days – weeks, even – to count all of California’s ballots. What gives?

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    People do it, not machines.

    Jerry Reply:

    But we don’t have hanging chads. Or do we?

    StevieB Reply:

    Provisional ballots and vote-by-mail envelopes require signature comparison for verification.

    StevieB Reply:

    California Law and Provisional Voting

    jedi08 Reply:

    In France, (70 million inhabitants) the counting of the votes is done in a few hours manually. Electronic voting is totally forbidden.

    Elizabeth Alexis Reply:

    No friggin’ idea. 99% of ballots should have been in hand by last Thursday.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    No you don’t have any idea. It took 20 seconds to find this

    http://www.sos.ca.gov/elections/official-canvass/

    Elizabeth Alexis Reply:

    FWIW here is estimate of remaining ballots
    http://elections.cdn.sos.ca.gov/statewide-elections/2016-general/unprocessed-ballots-report.pdf

    It looks slightly skewed to more conservative than state (most of SF and Santa Clara is counted but not San Diego/ OC), but not overly so.

    Brian_FL Reply:

    Maybe it’s because California does not know how to do elections efficiently? Even here in Floriduh we manage to count our votes accurately and quickly within 4 or 5 days maximum. And we are not a small state – almost 9 million voted this month.

    We fixed our system a decade ago after the 2000 election. Did you guys modernize? It appears you have ancient systems if you are counting ballots by hand. WTF it’s 2016! So much for a so called technologically advanced California hahaha

    ** this post is in response to all of the posters that make fun of any other state but California on here over the years and this is a somewhat sarcastic response LOL

    Bahnfreund Reply:

    The best method to vote is with a pen on a ballot made of paper and the best method to count votes is by hand. If it means taking a few days more to get the counting done, so be it.

    Brian_FL Reply:

    We do that here in florida, all ballots are pen on paper. Hand counting is not the best, i will disagree with you. The difference it seems is that we in florida use scanners to record votes. Are you saying scanners are less accurate than hand counting millions of paper ballots? Surely you jest! I mean, really, using modern late 20th century technology, counting votes isnt that hard or a laborious process. And as StevieB points out below, signature verification is required on mail in ballots. So what is the benefit of mail in ballots? It seems to raise more possible outcomes to deny voters and introduce voter fraud. California should promote early voting and use modern methods to count the votes.

    And if the signature doesn’t match, is the voter able to contest or affirm his vote? California seems to have come up with a dumber way to vote….

    Bahnfreund Reply:

    Having more people counting the physical votes is a feature not a bug. It increases the credibility of the results. I think in person early voting and mail in ballots are both necessary ways to ensure everybody can vote.

    The more digital technology you introduce the higher the perception of the possibility of fraud. Even if you tell me one hundred times that the machine cannot be hacked, there are enough people who will never believe that. But two thousand people who counted ballots by hand and can say themselves: “This is what we saw with our own eyes” – yeah, people are gonna take that over some machine any given day and twice on Sunday.

    Plus there is always a judgment call involved in dismissing ballots as invalid. A machine cannot make those judgment calls.

    John Nachtigall Reply:

    That is just ridiculous. Machines are more accurate than people for repetitive asks, this is proven over time. Banks use machines to count money. People can be bribed, machines can’t. Florida proven that even close ballots and be misinterpreted by humans because of bias. Besides, Machines can spit out the “marginals” for human interaction.

    Perception is irrelevant, use the more accurate method.

    Bahnfreund Reply:

    “Perception is irrelevant”

    You sir, have just failed politics 101.

    Perception is everything.

    Nobody cares what Hillary’s damn Emails were or what a neutral and honest assessment of them without regard to the person would say. But the perception of them sunk her campaign. Nobody cares what the real results of the 2000 Florida vote were (and given the defective voting methods and all the other things wrong with what happened at the time we will likely never know) but the perception was on the liberal side that the Supreme Court stole the election from the rightful President Al Gore whereas some conservatives believe liberals are crybabies who should just shut up.

    Look, there is a group of politically minded hackers who managed to turn a certain voting computer into a chess computer. Am I in any way qualified to assess whether that exposes a real problem with voting machines or was just a political stunt? No. But the perception of that is clear.

    You can always recount by hand ballot counted by hand. You can bring in a whole new group of people to count the same ballots again. What can you do if a machine has been hacked or lost its data?

    Perhaps there are machines that are better, faster and more accurate at counting things. But in politics, perception counts for more than reality. This is also among the biggest uphill battle for computer operated cars. Even if they produce less accidents than the average Alabama redneck, they will still be seen as recklessly dangerous until they produce no accidents or a number so laughably small as to be ignorable.

    A whole industry died due to perception: Nuclear power is DOA politically even though most of the arguments against it don’t pass scientific muster and those that do are hardly ever brought up (nuclear for example costs much more in public subsidies than is often claimed)

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    The machine I vote on is relatively uncomplicated. It tallies what the voter put on the machine readable form. If there is any question the ballots, which are also human readable, can be taken out of the machine and tallied by hand. Or run through a different machine. Or both. To assure that the relatively uncomplicated software is doing what it is supposed to do the machines are randomly audited.

    There were reports from other states about this that and the other thing going wrong. We could, if the power went out, still hold the election. We could when we were using the mechanical voting machines too.

    Nathanael Reply:

    Yeah, I was involved in Verified Voting NY when we fought over that. NY has solid laws requiring paper ballots. The machines can count. But it’s always possible to do a hand count, which is crucial to prevent wholesale fraud.

    Some states use unverifiable fraud machines where one programmer can fake the entire election result and there are no ballots to count.

    Bahnfreund Reply:

    And you can tell me a thousand times how a machine is supposedly better than voting with pen and paper, that is the exact reason why I am opposed to machine voting.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    I vote on a piece of paper. We could run the election with out any machines. Or electricity.

    Bahnfreund Reply:

    Well the founding fathers would certainly agree with you on that.

    But apparently we have to follow them on the electoral college but we don’t need to follow them on paper ballots and voting by hand.

    John Nachtigall Reply:

    Over time, Facts trump perception (pun not intended).

    – The recount of the 2000 election showed Bush did win, there was no robbery
    – Machines are more secure than humans
    – and nuclear power is safe, it just has high severity, low occurance events (meltdowns) rather than moderate severity, high occurrence events (pollution)

    Hand counts are LESS accurate than machines. Anyone who has ever done anything with a manufacturing line can tell you that humans are at best 80-85% accurate over time. Hence the need for redundant inspections.

    I have seen empty boxes ship after being “inspected” 4 times. Perception is irrelevant, it is facts that matter.

    Joe Reply:

    Machines are not more secure than humans. You mix up manufacturing with information securty, a topic for which you demonstrate no understanding.

    https://www.google.com/amp/s/amp.businessinsider.com/nsa-chief-nation-state-swayed-president-election-2016-11?client=safari

    car(e)-free LA Reply:

    The 2000 recount was stopped by the conservative supreme court.

    John Nachtigall Reply:

    The recount was conducted afterwards By the press. Get informed. The election result was correct unless you start monkeying with was is a valid ballot. Hence hanging chads

    The aballot design (by a democracy) was what really cost him. Along with Nader

    John Nachtigall Reply:

    People

    https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_federal_political_scandals_in_the_United_States

    Are failible.

    People

    https://harishsnotebook.wordpress.com/2015/10/11/100-visual-inspection-being-human/

    Are failible

    I didn’t mix them up, machines are better at both

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    Machines can’t decide if ‘Lizard People’ is a valid write in vote. Machines are really bad at write in votes.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rr5fkqhsvoI

    John Nachtigall Reply:

    They spit out the write ins. Which does not matter to the results because write ins don’t win

    This is not technically hard

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    Okay what parts of the complex process of tallying a mailed in ballot can they automate?
    It’s a process, They don’t just rip open envelopes and count everything.

    Here’s a synopsis of what goes on in California.

    tp://www.sos.ca.gov/elections/official-canvass/

    John Nachtigall Reply:

    Your right. In the last 200 years technology has not advanced enough to provide any assistance in counting marks on a piece of paper

    I mean it’s not like they sort mail by machines. Or use machines to inspect almost all food produced.

    You are right. Pen paper and eyes forever

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    So when you go to the polling place you just swipe your finger over the reader and vote?

    Bahnfreund Reply:

    It does not matter what nuclear power is. It matters what it is perceived to be. Because that perception killed nuclear power. Did nuclear power become less safe after 1986? Of course not. In fact, learning from the errors of Chernobyl actually enabled new safer designs. But new construction of nuclear power plants went from the highest it ever was to the lowest it ever was in a matter of years. And the Fukushima accident had exactly zero bearing on the security of nuclear reactors in Germany (a country famous for its seismic stability). But it was what convinced Merkel (a top notch physicist who graduated summa cum laude in the GDR as the daughter of a protestant minister) that nuclear power was politically dead.

    You can tell me or anybody else five trillion times that counting by hand is less exact than counting by machine. If the election comes down to fractions of a percentage point, the vast majority of the people will want to see humans do the counting. We are apes barely removed from lizards and our prefrontal cortex is smaller than we make ourselves believe.

    I though conservatives are the people who are skeptical of human beings and their capabilities. Well, a political system that fails to account for our lizard brains has a severe defect.

    John Nachtigall Reply:

    perception can be changed. There was a perception once that using leaches and draining blood from people cured disease.

    More recently, people would not deposit money at an ATM because they felt safer giving it to a human. That lasted for awhile, but is not only gone, now you can deposit checks with your smartphone.

    I for one am not going to give into irrational thought and untrue perceptions. This does not advance the human race. It may take awhile, but in the end technology and rational thought win. Always have, that is why technology does not move backwards, always forwards.

    Bahnfreund Reply:

    “vorwärts immer, rückwärts nimmer” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VphPebctAsM

    Strange… I did not take you for a red.

    The human endeavor is much more nuanced than a steady march towards progress. Libraries have burned down, scholars have been murdered and civilizations have fallen in the past.

    Of course pereceptions can be changed, but they tend to be remarkably stubborn. I am not one to bring up religion where it does not belong, but given that most religions make mutually exclusive claims and no more than a small handful of them can be true at the same time, how come there are still billions of people believing something that just by sheer force of logic has to be wrong (note that I am not saying who is in the wrong, just that someone is).

    And sometimes it does not matter if the perception is ultimately corrected. Even if for instance Bush did “win” the election of 2000 which he lost by roughly half a million votes by 500 odd votes in Florida, the perception of shady business has been so pervasive that Bush’s presidency will forever be tainted with it. Just like the whole Watergate thing sunk Nixon, even though he likely did not know in advance that people were breaking into the DNC headquarters. He covered it up and that created a perception of an incredibly crooked politician, which to be fair is not entirely unjustified. Reagan meanwhile will forever be perceived as some sort of messiah by certain people no matter how much of his dirt is unearthed.

    John Nachtigall Reply:

    I don’t speak German, so you will have to translate.

    And all of those things happened and progress continued to advance. That pace of advancement is accelerating. In the last 20 years we have advanced to the state where instantaeous worldwide communication is affordable to most (email, calls, etc), where pinpointing ones location to a few meters is free, where pocket computers are commonplace.

    Technology always wins.

    And I agree that perception is stubborn, which is why you have to question wrong perceptions every time. To,stop them.

    Bahnfreund Reply:

    The Roman Empire built the best roads that the world would see for a millennium. Yet it still fell. And people called stuff “devil’s whatever” when it was built by the Romans, because they could not even believe those things to be feats of human engineering.

    The supposedly extremely cultivated and tolerant and advanced Weimar Republic devolved into Nazi Germany over a few short years and started the worst atrocities in human history shortly thereafter.

    By the way “vorwärts immer rückwärts nimmer” is a phrase commonly said by Erich Honnecker, the leader of the GDR for about the second half of its existence. Vorwärts (which has a cognate in English “forward”) means forward or “advance” immer means always, rückwärts means backwards and “nimmer” is a somewhat dialectal and/or old fashioned antonym of immer meaning “never”. So the sentence can be translated as [never] backwards, always forwards. – A sentiment you just expressed…

    John Nachtigall Reply:

    Civilizations due indeed fall, butntechnology does not regress.

    The romans had a great run, the Weimar much less. But regardless technology advanced.

    The difference between me and the communists is that I actuall believe it rather than just say it.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    Concrete was a lost art for centuries.

    Bahnfreund Reply:

    Nachtigall, you should read “Die Dialektik der AUfklärung” by Theodor W Adorno…

    John Nachtigall Reply:

    A German philosophy book from the 1940s?

    I realize we have had our disagreements but there is no need to punish me so harshly. :-)

    Nathanael Reply:

    John, don’t lie.

    The careful, detailed recount of Florida by the newspapers showed that *no matter what standard you used for counting the ballots*, Gore won more votes in Florida than Bush.

    That’s the fact. You can look it up in the archives of the NYT (remember to read past the headline, which was inaccurate, to the actual article).

    What your biased, insane perception of this was, is apparently different.

    Nathanael Reply:

    “I for one am not going to give into irrational thought and untrue perceptions.”

    You already have, loser. It’s pretty pathetic.

    John Nachtigall Reply:

    You mean this one

    http://www.nytimes.com/2001/11/12/us/examining-vote-overview-study-disputed-florida-ballots-finds-justices-did-not.html

    Where they say

    “Contrary to what many partisans of former Vice President Al Gore have charged, the United States Supreme Court did not award an election to Mr. Bush that otherwise would have been won by Mr. Gore. A close examination of the ballots found that Mr. Bush would have retained a slender margin over Mr. Gore if the Florida court’s order to recount more than 43,000 ballots had not been reversed by the United States Supreme Court.

    Even under the strategy that Mr. Gore pursued at the beginning of the Florida standoff — filing suit to force hand recounts in four predominantly Democratic counties — Mr. Bush would have kept his lead, according to the ballot review conducted for a consortium of news organizations.”

    Gore only wins if you count “over votes” Where the box was ticked AND they wrote in a name. Which is not allowed

    Of course he really lost because of ballot design and Nader, but you prefer to blame the SCOUS because it fits your narrative that conservatives suck

    It’s really facts that suck

    Bahnfreund Reply:

    Al Gore won more votes in the United States of America than George W Bush. Just like Hillary Clinton won more votes in the United States of America than Donald Trump. The fact that neither of them has become President is an injustice beyond measure.

    John Nachtigall Reply:

    The rules have been established for 240 years. The president is not elected by popular vote. And your personal opinion is irrelevant to that fact. You will notice that both parties have lost to the electoral college and neither has worked to change the constitution.

    There is no injustice here. The rules were followed, that is not injustice. Not to mention, once again, that the strategies used do not maximize the popular vote. So no one knows if they would have won if it had mattered.

    You now all this and still continue to spout off about irrelevant facts. Well 2 can play at that game. In 2013, Merkel’s party, not even herself, got 41.5% of the votes but 50% of the seats. That is injustice to the highest degree. A minority ogpf the country voted and they don’t even get to vote for her directly. How can a country “elect” a leader without voting for her directly and not even obtaining a majority of the vote? It’s crazy….get a decent Constitution.

    https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/German_federal_election,_2013

    Joe Reply:

    Definitive proof that DTrump is John guy and the new GOP winning.

    Bahnfreund Reply:

    The current system in the US has not been in place for 240 years https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Twelfth_Amendment_to_the_United_States_Constitution get your facts straight. And it has been previously abridged. Furthermore, the parties represented in Merkel’s current government and coalition have a quite large super-majority. Merkel currently enjoys the support of not only the CDU and CSU (whom you seem to conflate into one as is often done) but also the SPD.

    There are countries that have parliamentary systems. There are countries that have a president elected by parliament such as South Africa https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/President_of_South_Africa https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Constitution_of_South_Africa

    There is exactly one jurisdiction on earth that has an executive President elected through a special body that serves no other purpose. And in that same country there are sub-jurisdictions that actually elect their chief executive in democratic elections. Or would you be okay with an electoral college system for the elections to the governorship of the state of California?

    Also, when did a Republican win the popular vote but lose the electoral vote?

    The men put into the office in 1876 and 1888 were both Republicans. Granted, back then the Democrats were the Party of Southern white racists, but that was not your contention. And the elections of 2000 and 2016 are too fresh in recent memory to need any introduction here.

    You could make a case about the 1960 election, but only if you decide to count the votes in the South a different way than https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/United_States_presidential_election,_1960 Wikipedia does.

    Yes, the 2012 election would have produced an Obama presidency if you decrease the Democratic vote equally across all states until you have a deadlock in the popular vote, but we are not having
    hypothetical elections, are we?

    In the real world there have been five elections in years beginning with a 2 and in fully two out of five (or 40%) the electoral college result did not agree with the “we the people” result.

    Jefferson, Hamilton, Madison, Washington – they rose up in rebellion over some minor quibble about taxes. Do you think they would agree with an outcome like that?

    John Nachtigall Reply:

    DTrump is everyone’s “guy” who lives in the US. He is the President. It is in all our best interests to help him be great despite himself.

    He is, however, as I have said before, not someone I would vote for

    – He is emotionally unstable, vindictive, and a narsissist.
    – He has no conviction and blows whichever way the popularity flows
    – His statements regarding NATO were at best irrisonbile and at worst an invitation for war
    – His foreign policy (what little there is) is just a continuation of “Lead from behind” which didn’t work for Obama and won’t work for him
    – His economic policy is the same as Paul Krugman, and I don’t like it any more coming out of Trumps mouth
    – his immigration policy is beyond destructive.

    All that said, I respect the vote because I believe in democracy and the country.

    Jerry Reply:

    Does that all mean that the elections are “rigged” ??

    Bahnfreund Reply:

    “bomb the shit out of them” That does not sound like “lead from behind” to me…

    John Nachtigall Reply:

    Merkel’s party got 41.5%. That means 58.5% of the,people voted against her. Exactly your argument. Why does it work for Trump but not Merkel? You are sore because I am right. The German leader is not directly elected, just like the US President.

    And calling the US system unique does not make it wrong. Only 2 countries in the world have birthright citizenship for non citizens (19th ammendment) and that is awesome. It only make Americans like it more. Oldest democracy, always had the electoral college.

    But bringing up South Africa is an amazing joke. If anything there system has spectacularly failed. Every president since Mandela has been corrupt and incompetent. Great example, thanks for proving my point. Their system is not working for shit despite the “best” current Constitution. RBG sure can pick them.

    You answered your own question, the GOP has lost as often or more than the Dems. And you have already admitted that Kennedy’s election was because of the electoral college so we both know that counts.

    The 12th amendment proves the system can be modified, so do it. But the current result is in no way an injustice. There is no revolution required, just change the Constitution. You only need 50%+1 in 3/4 of the states. And not even that, you don’t need each state rep, just a majority. It’s reason to revolt, just change the document. It’s that easy

    Bahnfreund Reply:

    We have four elections where the Democrats were screwed out of a presidency they earned through more votes. Now granted, in 1876 and 1888 the Democrat would not have been the candidate of my choice, but that is neither here nor there. The 1960 election only becomes an electoral college popular vote split if you squint real hard, and even then 2000 and 2016 are both more recent and more extreme examples. If the numbers hold up, Hillary Clinton might win the election by as much as two and a half million votes. Also, you do not need a constitutional amendment https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/National_Popular_Vote_Interstate_Compact – this thing was though up by constitutional lawyers and there is no single letter in the constitution that says the states cannot do that.

    By the way, birthright citizenship? Yeah, that’s not unique to the US. It’s getting less and less common, but countries like Costa Rica or Nicaragua still have it. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jus_soli . It also has nothing to do with the 19th amendment which gave women the right to vote https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nineteenth_Amendment_to_the_United_States_Constitution (by the way about a year after the first all gender elections in Germany) – and don’t bring up the fact that some states gave some women the vote earlier; the 1789 French election to the estates general had a small number of women voting.

    South Africa’s problems have many reasons, but the constitution is not one of them. Whichever way you slice and dice it, the ANC would have won all elections since 1994. In fact an electoral college (which tends to overrepresent rural areas to a certain degree) would likely benefit Zuma even more as he has his strongest support in rural areas. I don’t know what you are alluding to with regards to RBG but I guess what she was referring to was the pretty ample bill of rights in the South African constitution, which, yes, I do think should be something any country should look at and see what they can learn from it. After all, there are countries in Africa where American missionaries have put laws on the books that make homosexuality a capital crime – South Africa meanwhile has constitutional protections for gay people.

    John Nachtigall Reply:

    That’s what I get for using my memory. I meant 14th amendment my bad

    Your argument about South Africa makes no sense. If the system is so great then why do all the presidents suck? RBG and the liberal crowd likes the “positive” rights. So,rather than saying “don’t restrict speech(negative right) they say things like “must provide ducation and healthcare”. It’s very progressive, and impossible to enforce. Do the citizens of South Africa have better education than the US with it being in the Constitution? Hell no

    And my point still stands. Both the US and Germany elect leaders without a direct vote. So why is the US bad and Germany good?

    Car(e)-Free LA Reply:

    Because the government is run by a block of people that the majority of people did vote for, that generally adhere to a compromise that suits the majority of Germans.

    Bahnfreund Reply:

    I do not think the German constitution is perfect. For one, I would like to see direct elections of the Bundesrat, which would among other things mean state level elections stay state level elections and don’t somehow become midterms in disguise.

    A parliamentary system does have its downsides. Among them the fact that it creates “permanent coalitions” for the duration of four or five years at a time, which can last for decades depending on the political climate. Austria is a very good illustration of the dangers of grand coalitions for instance.

    The thing a President derives legitimacy from in a presidential system is (should be) being elected by the people. The thing a parliamentary leader derives legitimacy from is – and that is very visible in the German system – having the confidence and support of a majority of MPs. It has happened more than once in parliamentary systems that a prime minister lost the confidence of the majority of MPs and was thus replaced. This is for instance how Helmut Kohl replaced Helmut Schmidt.

    Now if the President loses the confidence of the electoral college (the thing his legitimacy is supposed to be based on) what can they do? Nothing. What happens when the President dies? The Vice President becomes President. Remember, some of the worst US Presidents started out as VP. There even was one who was thrown out of his own party while in office. This would not happen in a parliamentary system. And the fact that the US cannot call early elections for Congress or President – not even after an impeachment or the death of a beloved President to be replaced by some doofus – is a serious defect in the constitution and an oversight the founders might not have been aware of.

    Wells Reply:

    What’s bugging me about the so-called self-driving car, is statistics. Advocates shed crocodile tears over our nation’s ~40,000 motor vehicle related deaths annually, but ignore statistics that suggest a much less than 1% accident rate for every car trip. IOW, human driver control has a low accident rate.

    John Nachtigall Reply:

    Auto driving cars are really about efficiency. Most cars sit unused for 80-90% of the day. You could subsequently reduce the number of cars dramatically if they were available on demand, rather than personal

    There are problems with that, people keep stuff their cars and have been trained to think of them as status symbols. Regardless, the reason is reducing cars, not safety

    Bahnfreund Reply:

    Well “safety” only ever makes sense as a relative concept. The safest method of travel is by bike as the health benefit riding a bike provides to the average person actually prolongs the average life more than accidents shorten it. After that you get (when measured per km and not per trip) commercial aviation, HSR, regular trains, cars, motorcycles and general aviation (don’t quote me on whether motorcycles or general aviation are more deadly per km). So from a pure risk reduction standpoint you should avoid driving as much as possible and fear of flying only makes sense if you fly on general aviation.

    But humans are not rational. We may be capable of rationality, but we are not rational.

    And quite frankly, I would be more concerned to see the bus I am on has no driver rather than that it has a driver. Even though rationally no driverless bus would be allowed on the roads in any EU country if there were even a hint of a possibility of it being more dangerous than human drivers.

    And Nachtigall’s point re eliminating all those parked empty cars: Precisely. Parking is a waste of space and resources and it is extremely inefficient.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    Once you convince everybody to spread out their start time at work. Otherwise you need almost as many cars as there are now. Which will spend most of the time parked

    Eric Reply:

    “the health benefit riding a bike provides to the average person actually prolongs the average life more than accidents shorten it”

    I don’t know if that’s true. I think I once calculated that car accidents take half a year off the average person’s life. Also you cannot examine bike time in a vacuum, people who don’t bike are more likely to find the need for other forms of exercise.

    John Nachtigall Reply:

    just a guess, but even without staggering times I think you could reduce them 50% off the bat. Lots of 2 car households where the 2nd car is not used

    And Rush Hours is about 2-3 hours, which is more than enough time to recycle a lot of cars and drivers.

    But your point is valid, there will always a “peak time” overdemand

    Bahnfreund Reply:

    Well what would be the free market solution to peak time overdemand?

    Make the peak time more expensive. aka congestion pricing.

    As for my claims on cycling, there have been studies looking into this and I am probably only scratching the surface by looking to the following: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25344355 https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/27311338

    Of course some individual non-cyclists may be getting more exercise than some individual cyclists. However, over the average of large populations, cyclists end up getting more exercise and one of the reasons is that the time people spent commuting is not spent sitting in a car or public transit or standing on public transit but exercising. And cycling is a rather good form of exercise with very few downsides (and those only become apparent at the professional sports level). Another study looked at the effect of air pollution https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/27156248 and found that no, even air pollution does not negate the health benefits of cycling (though there is an excellent case to be made to strive to reduce air pollution nonetheless).

    Eric Reply:

    There have been tests showing how the machines can be manipulated by someone with access to the data cards that some vote counting machines use. I realize there are different kinds of counting machines but there should be some protocols to minimize the opportunity for tampering and fraud.

    zorro Reply:

    In CA ballots are counted with a machine, the ballots are like you describe, paper, it works, takes a bit of time, cause of all the absentee ballots, but there are 58 counties in CA, and CA is a big state. All ballot counting has to be done by November 30th I think.

    zorro Reply:

    California counts paper ballots with an optical scanner, I saw that on TV not long ago.

    StevieB Reply:

    Provisional ballots and vote-by-mail envelopes require signature comparison for verification. Provisional ballots are issued if you are not on record at the polling place or if you are on the vote-by-mail list.

    Provisional ballots are delivered, along with regular ballots, to the elections office canvassing area. Using the same procedures as used with vote-by-mail envelopes, the elections official compares the signature for the provisional ballot with the signature on that voter’s affidavit of registration. If the signature does not match, the ballot is rejected. (Minor variation in signatures does not invalidate the ballot.) If the signature matches, the elections official checks the voter registration database to verify whether the voter is properly registered to vote. Once the signature on the envelope has been verified and the voter’s registration is confirmed, the ballot is separated from the envelope and counted as a regular ballot. If the voter’s registration cannot be confirmed, the ballot is not counted, and the reason for not counting the ballot is recorded. Only the votes for contests for which the voter is eligible to vote are counted.

    Jerry Reply:

    North Carolina is still trying to figure out who won as governor.
    So far the Democratic challenger is beating the Republican incumbent.

    Bahnfreund Reply:

    Louisiana will have its runoff for Senate in December. It will be a classic two party race. However, the Republican candidate used to be a Democrat and the Democratic governor endorses the Democratic candidate, which makes this a bit more complicated than a “Helpless attempt of a Democrat to win a red state”… We’ll see. It could potentially end up producing a 51-47-2 Senate or a 52-46-2 Senate (I am listing party membership, not caucus here; the two independents both caucus with the Democrats)

    John Nachtigall Reply:

    The GOP is winning that easy. Trump won the state by 20 pts. The Dems are not even bothering to support the race.

    Joe Reply:

    GOP was taken over.

    John Nachtigall Reply:

    The GOP has taken over 3/4 ths of the states. The Dems need to step up the games

    StevieB Reply:

    Trump lost the popular vote by two million so is looking to be an unpopular President. Republican tax reform will increase income inequality creating even greater animosity. The next four years are not promising for Republican approval ratings.

    Aarond Reply:

    As if the aggregate rating matters, Obama is still liked yet his party has completely lost over his terms. If Trump delivers on trade then swing states will remain GOP in 2020 allowing Republicans to Gerrymander themselves into a majority government.

    Dems only have two chances left to rebuild. It’s plausible (see 2010) but the margin for error is low.

    Paul Dyson Reply:

    John N is correct, the dems really have themselves to blame.
    1. Get rid of the Clinton dynasty, and no more royal families and entitled candidates. (King Donald is busy forming his own dynasty, but that’s another story).
    2. Evolve an industrial policy that is better than “it’s a service economy”, “free trade solves all problems” and “go get a degree”. If only for security and stuff happens we need to reserve a percentage of production to ourselves, whether it’s screws, socks or rare earths. It will raise prices, but it will maintain or rebuild the ability to fend for ourselves in a hostile world.

    John Nachtigall Reply:

    For the umpteenth time. The strategy the GOP used ignored the popular vote because the popular vote is not relevant. Hilary could have won CA and NY by 100-0 and they would not care.

    The rules have been the same for 240 years. The Dems were aware also. Trump may or may not have won the popular vote if that had been the objective, but it is clear that you can’t use the popular vote when the strategy was for the electoral college.

    Just like chess, the objective was checkmate not who took the most pieces. This is just a ridiculous argument to,say she won the popularnvote when it was never the objective and neither side was using a strategy to maximize the popular vote

    Bahnfreund Reply:

    The Democrats should really get behind vocational training as something to champion and for which decent wages should come about. There are many jobs that don’t need a college degree, but those jobs don’t get a good reputation (which is not a global thing, a “Handwerker” is usually a highly respected person in Germany. More so than someone who has a Bachelor of Advanced Unemployment in biblical meditation)

    As to Louisiana, remember that it has a Democrat as a governor. I am not saying there is a 50-50 chance, but the Democrats may well have a 30% shot. Especially if they do the smart thing and pool all the resources left over from November into that race and if the candidate does rallies all across the state. If Trump shows us one thing, it is that rallies really do have an effect.

    Eric Reply:

    “Get rid of the Clinton dynasty, and no more royal families and entitled candidates. ”

    Did you/do you object to the Bush dynasty as well?

    (At the beginning of the primary season I would tell people “I’ll vote for anyone not named Bush or Clinton”, but then unexpected bigger considerations came into play)

    Bahnfreund Reply:

    I think it is time to make a political marriage between a Clinton and a Bush to produce the ultimate super-dynasty.

    By the way, I once read that all Presidents but one (van Buren, not Obama, who has descent through his mother) are direct descendants of some 14th century English king…

    John Nachtigall Reply:

    If Trump proves anything it is that anyone can rise to become president. Like the Kennedy’s before them, the dynasty is just a temporary thing

    Bahnfreund Reply:

    Anyone who is a white male non-communist with a lot of money, you mean to say. It’s not exactly like Donald Trump was born into a log cabin he built himself.

    Say what you want about Latin American strongmen, but Venezuela actually had fewer members of the Bolivar family President than the US has had family dynasties. And quite a few strongmen were in fact born into modest wealth or no wealth at all. All but a handful of US Presidents were born with the golden spoon firmly in their mouth.

    Eric M Reply:

    @Bahnfreund, Do you actually live in the United States?

    Paul Dyson Reply:

    @eric, yes, Bush dynasty, Kennedy, any spouse that runs for their partners office, I’m agin all of them. They need a “self denying ordinance”.

    John Nachtigall Reply:

    He is replacing a black male non-wealthy person.

    Also, he spent less than 1/2 of the money that Clinton spent, so it was not his wealth

    I meant that even with everyone against him, he became president.

    And the ability to overthrow the government says nothing about being able to win an election

    Joe Reply:

    He was born rich and white.
    His wealth was the basis for his reality show and appearances on teevee.

    blankslate Reply:

    By the way, I once read that all Presidents but one (van Buren, not Obama, who has descent through his mother) are direct descendants of some 14th century English king…

    Actually 13th century, King John who signed the Magna Carta.

    It’s actually not that remarkable. Let’s say you conservatively assume that each person is ancestor to 2 people, on average, and generations are 25 years. That gives King John about 1 billion descendants, 42 of whom became president.

    There is a plausible genetic theory that every person on earth alive today with European ancestry is descended from Charlemagne.

    Bahnfreund Reply:

    Well I find it remarkable that all those people can trace their ancestry that far back. In Germany for instance most genealogical research runs into a brick wall circa 1648 as most church registries burned down or were otherwise destroyed during the 30 years war and there were no other archives recording the births of commoners in that era.

    J. Wong Reply:

    FYI around 60% of the vote is mail-in in California. I suppose they could have machines to open the envelopes & at least somehow correlate the enclosed ballot with the voter but maybe not. As for the actual vote count, it is all automatic once the envelope is opened.

  12. morris brown
    Nov 18th, 2016 at 11:14
    #12

    Don’t fool with the AFL/CIO –Chair found his match there.

    Statement on Withdrawal of Buy America Waivers by California High Speed Rail Authority

  13. Roland
    Nov 18th, 2016 at 11:22
    #13

    Breaking News: $80 LA-SF tickets are no more: ” Each trainset, capable of 220-mph service, will carry about 450 passengers in first and business classes with food service capability for both classes.”
    http://www.bizjournals.com/sanjose/news/2016/11/18/foreign-train-parts-never-mind-says-california.html

    I guess this collateral damage was to be expected when they decided to ditch the other half of the trains. This is Y-U-U-U-U-U-G-E and means that the Peninsula will not have the capacity for these little trains during peak Until SamTrans replaces Caltrain with express buses.

    Car(e)-Free LA Reply:

    How much will they cost then? I always thought $80 was too expensive.

    Bahnfreund Reply:

    If Europe is any guide, tickets will not have any fixed price. There will probably be 29 Dollar tickets just as there will be 159 dollar tickets.

    synonymouse Reply:

    Roland, I am not following your reasoning here. Please elaborate.

    Michael Reply:

    I believe he is trying to spin poor reporting/writing in the article in a coy way to make us believe there will be no economy class on the trains, just business and first. Then he wants us to believe that if E was the base economy fare for a CHSRA trip from SF-LA, there will be no E fares, just E times business multiplier and E times first class multiplier. His hope is that any reader will be only familiar with airline pricing, and with his substitution of the “80% of airline fares” with “$80”, he sets up the notion that the only fares from SF-LA would be something like $240 for business and $400 for first class.

    Roland Reply:

    Wrong on every count: The Silicon Valley Business Journal does not “report” anything. They are handsomely rewarded by the Authority for publishing PBRRA memos as “articles”.

    With regards to the fares fiasco, here is REAL reporting by the LA Times: http://www.latimes.com/local/politics/la-me-adv-bullet-fares-20150510-story.html

    Bahnfreund Reply:

    Do you want to wave a sign saying “Lügenpresse” around and walk circles through the old town of Dresden?

    Bahnfreund Reply:

    Because, frankly, that is what you sound like.

    car(e)-free LA Reply:

    Germans truly are the masters of compound words.

    Bahnfreund Reply:

    Well they are quite handy. I am saddened that English decided to ditch them at some point.

    Edward Reply:

    Actually, English has many of them. The problem is that they stop at two words. For example: baseball.

    Bahnfreund Reply:

    Yes, but for the most part the English language has ceased producing new ones. Which is not true for German at all.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    Gastropub. Smartphone.

    Bahnfreund Reply:

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rinderkennzeichnungs-_und_Rindfleischetikettierungs%C3%BCberwachungsaufgaben%C3%BCbertragungsgesetz

    Okay, that word is so absurd even the members of the legislature that passed that law brought out in laughter more than once.

    Roland Reply:

    https://youtu.be/gZn1Juf4ha8?t=4

    Bahnfreund Reply:

    Those are just not funny if you understand the audio…

    Roland Reply:

    @Syno. Always happy to help. Which particular bit would you like me to elaborate on?

    synonymouse Reply:

    Sorry, Roland, I did not spot “see full article” on the first reading.

    Eric M Reply:

    It has always been stated it would be 80% of airfare, not $80

    Bahnfreund Reply:

    But airfare is, has always been and will forever be 100$. Don’t you know that?

    Eric M Reply:

    I do, thanks. I do live here and travel frequently back and forth and let me tell you, airfare fluctuates wildly outside of $100

    Bahnfreund Reply:

    So train fare will likely not be “always 80$” either and anybody who demands that should read up on “yield management”. There is a reason to do that even if the purpose were not to drive profits. Having people who don’t care which precise train they are on take the Tuesday at 1pm instead of the Friday at 8 AM train makes sense no matter which economic or political philosophy you subscribe to. And the best way to do that is by varying the price.

    Roland Reply:

    But, but, but, but how will the people in Fresno (and Gilroy) be able to afford commuting back and forth between their affordable homes and the high-paying jobs in Silicon Valley????

    Joe Reply:

    High paying jobs come with an employer commute subsidy.

    Bahnfreund Reply:

    Surely if your customer is a commuter (i.e. buys five tickets per week), you can give them some sort of discount. Having a seat in your train filled (or at least paid for) most days of the week should be something that makes railroads perfectly salivating.

    DB for instance has Bahn Card 100 which means you pay one (big) lump sum to get free rides on very close to all trains (you only pay for reserved seats if you have the 2nd class version: reserved seating in 1st class is free). There are similar offers for shorter joruneys. I am sure CaHSR will work something out for commuters.

    Car(e)-Free LA Reply:

    Surely if you have a high paying job, then you can afford to live near your work.

    car(e)-free LA Reply:

    Nearer than Fresno, anyway.

    Bahnfreund Reply:

    You can afford to live near your work, but you cannot afford to own the same house. And for some sleeping in a forty bedroom mansion is more important than ever seeing daylight outside of a car or office.

    Roland Reply:

    @ car(e)-free LA. How about Merced? Would that work?
    http://www.leginfo.ca.gov/cgi-bin/displaycode?section=shc&group=02001-03000&file=2704.04-2704.095 (Section 2704.9(d))

    car(e)-free LA Reply:

    How about 299K for a 2 bedroom in Alum Rock.
    http://www.zillow.com/homedetails/152-Sunnyslope-Ave-San-Jose-CA-95127/19781685_zpid/

    Or 375K for a 3 bedroom condo in San Leandro.
    https://www.redfin.com/CA/San-Leandro/433-Harlan-St-94577/unit-302/home/555564

    Or 440K for a 3 bedroom house in South San Jose.

    Or 499K for a 4 bedroom house between Santa Clara and Valley Fair/Santana Row.

    None of these listings are gorgeous or new, but they all are fine places to live for under 500K, even with a biggish family, and they’re in good locations.

    car(e)-free LA Reply:

    The second to last is at: https://www.redfin.com/CA/San-Jose/479-Carpentier-Way-95111/home/1699617

    And the last is at: https://www.redfin.com/CA/San-Jose/2241-Boxwood-Dr-95128/home/716525

    Joe Reply:

    Non residents always think they can find a good affordable home with easy access to jobs.

    car(e)-free LA Reply:

    Please elaborate.

    wdobner Reply:

    How would the reduction in station platform length reduce capacity? Even using two coupled 800 foot AGVs the train would clear the switches on the through tracks and be able to platform half the doors in each train set. Asking passengers to walk forward or back to exit is not uncommon and does not increase dwell times at low use stations. The only real challenge would be to place wheelchair and other less than ambulatory passengers at doors that would open on a platform, but that is something that can be easily overcome by the operator.

    Roland Reply:

    How about experimenting @Diridon & Transbay & reporting back to us with what you found?

    wdobner Reply:

    Those stations aren’t slated to receive shortened platforms. Surely the world will not end if passengers exiting at Gilroy, Bakersfield, Palmdale, and a few other stations have to walk forward or backward to the middle of the train to reach the platform. So long as the train will fit between the clearance points at either end of the station siding I hardly see the issue with platforming half of each trainset in a consist. There is no reduction in capacity despite the reduction in capital expenditure.

    Drunk Engineer Reply:

    Diridon and Transbay are specifically mentioned as having shortened platforms. And having to move to another car is really problematic for disabled access, and dwell time.

    Roland Reply:

    And this is precisely why neither Diridon nor Transbay intend to pay any attention to the latest PBRRA RSMFR memo. Oh, and BTW, did someone “forget” to ask the FRA for a waiver AFTER receiving $400M in ARRA funds for the Transbay train box?

    wdobner Reply:

    Eh, those are easy fixes to make before construction starts.

    There would be no increase in dwell time. Passengers walk through the train prior to the train arriving at the station and are in position prior to the train stopping. A few extra passengers might be using each of the doors, but that isn’t going to be much of an issue at lower use stops served by the locals. We’re not talking a full train load turning over at Gilroy or Bakersfield. A reduction in platform length will not increase dwell time at most HSR stations.

    Disabled access is simple to work out by the operator. It really doesn’t merit much discussion.

  14. synonymouse
    Nov 18th, 2016 at 13:06
    #14

    http://www.cnbc.com/2016/11/18/the-conservatives-are-going-to-go-crazy–trumps-top-advisor-lays-out-his-vision-for-shaking-up-america.html

    “The conservatives are going to go crazy,” Bannon said. “I’m the guy pushing a trillion-dollar infrastructure plan. With negative interest rates throughout the world, it’s the greatest opportunity to rebuild everything. Ship yards, iron works, get them all jacked up. We’re just going to throw it up against the wall and see if it sticks. It will be as exciting as the 1930s, greater than the Reagan revolution — conservatives, plus populists, in an economic nationalist movement.”

    I hope he is not talking about a bunch of Bayconic Bridges. I hope the Donald is smarter than throwing billions away on “infrastructure” badly conceived and/or underutilized.

    Paul Dyson Reply:

    Exciting 1930s? Inspired by German autobahns.

    Bahnfreund Reply:

    Well the 1930s were indeed “interesting times” just like in the old supposedly Chinese curse. The 1940s were more interesting still…

    By the way, who opened the first German Autobahn ever? In the Year 1932? (One year before Hitler was appointed chancellor by Hindenburg)

    The mayor of Germany’s fourth largest city – Cologne – a certain Konrad Adenauer. Who would go on to oppose the Nazis, end up in a concentration camp and ultimately become the leader of first the CDU and then Germany from 1949 to 1963, becoming both the second longest serving and the oldest chancellor a German Republic ever had.

    You see, Hitler did have the Autobahns built, but it was not his idea. He just allocated funds towards a project that had been in some filing cabinet for years.

    Roland Reply:

    Which Eisenhower discovered during his European travels in the mid-forties and subsequently brought back to the United States upon returning from his foreign adventures.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    He could have seen the same kind of highways in the US.

    Bahnfreund Reply:

    Which American street prior to WWII had no level crossings or traffic lights and did not pass through any settlement?

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    Pennsylvania Turnpike was the big one. Lots of smaller ones around New York and Chicago.

    Jerry Reply:

    The National Road.

    Ian Mitchell Reply:

    There were bicycle freeways in the 1910’s. Built of wood planks, but the concept the same.

    Bahnfreund Reply:

    Well there is a surprising amount of overlap between the early bike industry and the early automobile industry…

    Aarond Reply:

    Looking more broadly if Trump wants to rebuild America’s coal industry then he’ll need to modernize all the RRs in Appalachia. His transportation transition guy is a former AAR lawyer, there’s a window here for rail money even if that money is given to KC, Chicago and Memphis.

    Bahnfreund Reply:

    Why would the repugnant party give money to Chicago?

    Aarond Reply:

    Because it’s America’s rail hub. Six of the seven Class 1 railroads (who are represented in DC by the AAR) have major facilities there and it’s a huge bottleneck for railfrieght.

    A helpful map:

    http://archive.freightrailworks.org/network/class-i/

    Bahnfreund Reply:

    Well I would put it beyond the repugnant party to somehow make Bumbufckville Iowa the new rail freight center of America just to mess with the “evul libruhl eleets” down in Chicago…

    Ian Mitchell Reply:

    Sure, that’s the way that it is currently set up.
    But when most of America’s rail network was built up, more than half of Americans lived within 100 miles of the canadian border. Today, more live within 100 miles of the mexican border or the gulf.

    Logically, given the population shift, and that gulf coast ports are busier than great lakes ports, as well as the massive delays which today plague any rail movements going through chicago, it would make more sense to build a new national rail hub in Kansas City, Texarkana, or a little town called Houston, than it would to re-build a hub whose economic and logistical relevance is outdated.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    The population center is just southwest of Indianapolis. Chicago makes a lot of sense. Especially since half of all Canadians live in the narrow band of Ontario and Quebec along the lakes and St. Lawrence.

    Ian Mitchell Reply:

    The US mean population center is somewhere in Missouri- for every census since 1980. The Canadian center of population and the Mexican center of population together move it south-southwest. North America’s center of population is somewhere in Arkansas.

    Remember, there are 35 million Canadians (~California) and 125 million Mexicans (~the entire East Coast).

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    The place where everyone has the shortest trip is in Missouri. The place where one quarter of the population lives in each quadrant is in Indiana.

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

    Bahnfreund Reply:

    What I find fascinating is that the center has moved https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:US_Mean_Center_of_Population_1790-2010.PNG consistently west since the founding of the Republic. Even though some of the interior states are actually losing population or at least not growing as fast as the national average.

    Ian Mitchell Reply:

    Okay, different metric, ~300 mi disparity, primarily east-west, not north-south.
    A good reason to favor St Louis over Kansas City, not a compelling win for chicago over somewhere better governed and with fewer social ills.

    So where’s the median center for North America?

    That’s before we consider the maquiladoras, before we account for LA and Houston’s port volumes… I just don’t see chicago as the logical hub for the modern US’ needs. I’m not the only one- Fedex chose memphis. The world’s largest airline chose Dallas. UPS chose Louisville.

    car(e)-free LA Reply:

    Nowadays, Dallas or Chicago probably make the most sense. They’re the only really big cities in the area. I suppose St. Louis would be all right, but I’d think it would be ideal to have O+D as well. Of course, nobody ever said there could only be one really big freight hub.

    Bahnfreund Reply:

    Well the biggest freight yard for rail freight in Europe is in Maschen. Ever heard of Maschen? Precisely. It happens to be close to Hamburg and a major Autobahn-interchange however. By the way, the current facilities in Maschen only date to the 1970s.

    Ian Mitchell Reply:

    It’s the biggest marshaling yard. The biggest one in the world is in North Platte, Nebraska.

    But it does make a good point.

    Houston’s metro will surpass Chicago’s within 20 years, Dallas will probably in 10.

    Houston’s on a bit of an edge, but has water transshipment. Dallas is a pretty sensible hub if a large population is desirable.

    I’d personally reckon that somewhere with several states in the watershed would be the place for federal investment- gives each state incentive to compete, companies can play the states against eachother, and the feds don’t get accused of favoritism as readily. Memphis would do, as would a bunch of podunk places at “the tri-state” areas of respective central locations.

    car(e)-free LA Reply:

    According to the United Nations, in 2030 New York, Los Angeles, and Chicago will still be the biggest urban areas in the country, followed by Houston, then Dallas-Ft Worth. (After that, its Miami, Philadelphia, Atlanta, DC, and Phoenix). However, this keeps SF-Oakland and DC-Baltimore separate, while joining DFW.

    Neil Shea Reply:

    They’re splitting SF from San Jose, but the Bay Area is really a single media and labor market. Together it beats Houston, DFW and Philly to be the 4th largest metro

    Ian Mitchell Reply:

    Chicago’s metro only grows if you grow it by adding counties to it- and I don’t think that places like Huntley which are closer to Rockford should be considered chicago. Chicago lost 200,000 people between the last two censuses, and about a million since its peak- cook county is losing people at about the same rate as chicago is, and it’s about as big in area as harris county (~1700 square miles).
    Harris county will be eclipsing Cook county sometime between now and 2040.

    Joe Reply:

    Went to college in Rockford.
    The Rockford airport is Chicago ohare with shuttle bus service.

    Growth along i90 and expansion of highway to three lanes supports ftrowth.
    Elgin is on the metra and along I90.

    Old friends commute into Chicago area from Rockford.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    Los Angele’s CSA stretches all the way to Arizona and Nevada

    Ian Mitchell Reply:

    Joe- It’s farther than the distance from Tampa to Orlando.
    Sure, Melbourne may call their airport Orlando-Melbourne, but it’s over 70 miles away.
    At some point, we’ve gotta draw a line. Roping Boone and Winnebago county in to pretend that Cook County isn’t hemorrhaging people, jobs and taxbase is just denial.

    Adirondacker- What source for that? I can’t find anything that agrees.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    The Census Bureau. Riverside County and San Bernardino County are part of the CSA.
    Los Angeles can count Indio, Chicago can count Rockford and New York can stretch from Montauk to Allentown

    Joe Reply:

    Ohare is on the way to Rockford off I90. The entire NW has built out to the airport and now beyond.
    I travel there twice a year and think you haven’t shown any knowledge of the area.
    You shouldn’t use google maps distance. Also the meta rail goes towards Rockford which makes Elgin a commutebvity.

    Ironically I was inFL this week and flying home now. I stayed between Orlando and Tampa. Not as built up as the Chicago Ohare Rockford corridor. That’s why Tampa and Orlando have different airports but Rockford depends on ohare.

    Joe Reply:

    Mitchell has an opinion and makes up stuff.

    Many counties have Metra commuter service rail into Chicago. Naperville Aurora Elgin are at the end of respective lines. There are more.

    None are Cook County. These cities are also gaining work such and employment as Naperville and all are part of Chicagoland.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    … the commuter lines that reach all the way to Wisconsin and almost to Michigan

    Joe Reply:

    https://metrarail.com/maps-schedules/system-map

    Here’s the Metra commuter system map.
    Far broader that cook county. It doesn’t go to Michigan. Kenosha yes.
    The ohare line is serviced by the CTA light rail and anchors a busieoss and entertainment hub
    Built around the airport.

    Rockford core is 70 miles from ohare and a direct line via the tollway.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    Indiana runs the trains in Indiana that go to Chicago. Eyeballing it, five miles from the South Bend Station to the border with Michigan.

    Bahnfreund Reply:

    Hahn is also the airport for Frankfurt… At least if you ask Ryanair… 100 km distance and two hours by bus (the next train stops roughly 5 miles from Hahn) notwithstanding…

    Aarond Reply:

    Anything around the Mississippi River (ie the I-55 or I-57 corridor) works because that’s where all the railroads converge. This gives us Chicago, KC, STL, Memphis, and Texas as potential candidates.

    Car(e)-Free LA Reply:

    And Chicago is the biggest and most important city, so it is the obvious choice.

    Bahnfreund Reply:

    Which however also means that land comes at a premium in Chicago.

    If the railroads could do it over again (and knew they can safely ignore passengers) they would likely not chose Chicago.

    Car(e)-Free LA Reply:

    That’s why distant exurbs of Chicago exist.

    Aarond Reply:

    If the RRs could do it all over again, the South would have built the Transcontinental Railroad downg the Sunset Route in the 1830s and claimed Socal for themselves. This would have made the Civil War much more interesting.

    Bahnfreund Reply:

    Well the South really shot itself in the foot in terms of railroads.

    For instance there were a dazzling number of break of gauge points just so some Pohdunkville could make a quick buck with passengers changing trains and goods being reloaded. This of course spelled disaster when the system was taxed beyond the breaking point in the civil war.

    You gotta love it that the railroad (helped to) free(d) the slaves.

    Ian Mitchell Reply:

    Given the business climate of Illinois versus Missouri, Tennessee, Arkansas or Texas, there’s a roughly 0% chance that railroads would want to make themselves beholden to the former’s governance. Texas seems likely (especially considering Texas’ population growth), but I’d figure a place like Memphis or another state-line straddling locale where companies could get state governments to kowtow by simply threatening to move operations a few miles over the state line may be even more attractive.

    Bahnfreund Reply:

    I think it is highly unlikely the railroads will ditch Chicago in the short term. They may want to create a big secondary hub, but the stuff currently in Chicago will likely stay there.

    Of course the government can affect that in a big way. If for instance Chicago is declared a war zone in open rebellion by the Trumpistas, this might influence things…

    car(e)-free LA Reply:

    @Ian Mitchell

    Parts of greater Chicago are in Indiana and Wisconsin.

    Ian Mitchell Reply:

    You’ve gotta go decently far (20-30 miles?) to be in indiana and over 50 to be in Wisconsin.
    You can get 3 or 4 much more business-friendly states and a more logistically appropriate location a bunch of places in the country.

    I do agree it’s unlikely for railroads to “ditch” chicago in the near term. But if there’s gonna be federal investment into a modern rail hub for the US, chicago is not the place for it. Somewhere (other logistics of course playing a role) close to where the mean center of North American population as of 2050 would be more appropriate.

    Joe Reply:

    lol
    Chicago is there because of the geography.
    It’s a portage between the Mississippi and great lakes water ways and rail hub because you have to get around the Great Lakes.

    There is ample freshwater and natural factors working for Chicago.

    Ian Mitchell Reply:

    Great lakes shipping isn’t what it used to be. The port of houston moves six times the cargo that the twin ports of Duluth and Superior do, and those are the busiest great lakes ports.
    Six of the busiest 10 ports in America are on the gulf, 0 are on the great lakes. 11 of the top 20 ports are on the gulf, one is on the great lakes, one is on the mississsippi.
    Jacksonville’s port moves more cargo than chicago’s today.

    Memphis’ port has a comparable level of cargo volume to chicago, even without being a dominant rail hub.

    Chicago’s geography, like Detroit’s, is fantastic.
    But it’s getting farther from where more people live, its suburbs are dealing with end-of-life-cycle infrastructure issues, it’s got unbelievable crime, and its governance is abysmal.

    If I were the federal government, or a private entity, there’s no good case to build or rebuild a hub in Chicago.

    Bahnfreund Reply:

    Well the White House being occupied by a Republican would also argue against giving money to a heavily democratic city…

    car(e)-free LA Reply:

    Specifically an east coast republican. Perhaps NY and Miami can expect funding, but the west coast doesn’t even seem to be on his radar.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    Andrew Cuomo is an East Coast Republican. Who knows what the President Elect is.

    Nathanael Reply:

    The President-Elect is an old-fashioned self-dealing graft-style politician. He doesn’t have ideology, he has “have you paid me off yet?”

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    He freely and openly admitted that he expected special treatment, in the Republican debates, when explaining why he contributed to Hillary Clinton’s Senate campaigns. He knows how it works, or thinks it works.

    Bahnfreund Reply:

    Trump is – or would like to rule as – a third world kleptocrat. It is incumbent upon all Americans to hold his feet to the fire.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    He’s done almost everything except shoot someone in the middle of Fifth Avenue. What’s going to change now?

    Bahnfreund Reply:

    Well he will soon have the power to appoint judges, sign executive orders and do all the other things to make his will law.

    And I doubt that the Republican Party will stop him.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    Republicans always think Dear Leader is infallible.

    Bahnfreund Reply:

    Precisely. Yet people deride those that warn of the very real dangers of Trump as hysterical.

    Paul Dyson Reply:

    There’s room for more than one hub. Chicago already is a hub with billions invested already in rail facilities. It needs investment in links between railroads and eliminating bottlenecks. Rather than focus on a single location it would be better to have upgrades to multiple sites: e.g. Memphis, and New Orleans.

    Joe Reply:

    Capacity is limited crossing under Lake Michigan into NW Indiana. Rail in the core can be improved to speed up trains. The track from Joliet to Chicago needs repair and improvements but is costly this was left off the St. Louis – Chicago rail project.

    Jerry Reply:

    Also, money goes to the Corporations/Wall Street.
    Which just happen to be in Chicago, or New York City.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    Coal is a dying industry and no matter how hard Mr. Trump bloviates it’s not coming back. Alternatives are too cheap.

    Bahnfreund Reply:

    If you get rid of all environmental regulations, you can make coal cheaper than the alternatives.

    And remember, Trump believes climate change to be a Chinese hoax.

    Paul Dyson Reply:

    No you can’t

    Bahnfreund Reply:

    Well lignite in Germany is dirt cheap (with an emphasis on “dirt”), because there are next to no environmental regulations on it and the power plants that burn it all already exist, so they do not have to comply with any regulations passed since they were built as most of those only target new construction. The same, by the way, applies to most US coal fired plants.

    Paul Dyson Reply:

    What does german lignote have to do with US Coal and US abundance of natural gas? We probably throw away more NG everyday than Germany would need. It is not too difficult to convert a coal plant to burning NG, and many have already done so. The other issue with issue coal, especially in the App region, is that the easy stuff has already been mined, and it’s getting more expensive to get what’s left.

    Bahnfreund Reply:

    Well most of Germany’s hard coal is imported (the Ruhr area coal is just too expensive), but it is still
    cheaper to burn that than to burn natural gas.

    Maybe the US is different in that respect, but I always though commodities like coal and gas should cost the same all over the world due to the world market. Minus of course the costs for transportation.

    Paul Dyson Reply:

    There is no world price for e.g. ohio produced NG because there is no transportation available and also US restrictions on energy exports.

    Bahnfreund Reply:

    The US has restrictions on energy exports? Why?

    John Nachtigall Reply:

    Coal is $40 a ton. You don’t ship a ton of anything across the world to sell for less than $100 unless you have no choice

    NG killed coal, because it got cheaper, cleaner, and more efficient because of fracking

    And the US used to restrict oil exports, never coal and NG

    Bahnfreund Reply:

    Well lignite is hardly ever shipped over large distances, but German hard coal plants do get coal shipped to them from who knows where. Likely Australia. O don’t know what shipping a ton of bulk cargo halfway across the globe costs, but it can’t be that expensive, otherwise there’d be hardly any German hard coal power plants left. As it stands coal produces most of the fossil electricity in Germany.

    Bahnfreund Reply:

    So according to https://www.bdew.de/internet.nsf/id/energiemix-de people who should know, the German electricity needs are provided (as of 2014 which is unfortunately the newest data I could find) https://www.bdew.de/internet.nsf/res/001%20Bruttostromerzeugung%20nach%20Energietr%C3%A4gern%202014/$file/150326-Bruttostrom_std.jpg 26.2% from renewables (further split up into 9.1% wind, 7.0% Biomass, 3.1.% hydro, 5.7% solar and 1.0% trash, which you may or may not want to subtract from the figures for “renewables”), 25.4% from lignite, 15.8% from nuclear, 17.8% from hard coal and 9.5% from natural gas. “Petroleum and others” (whatever that means) accounts for 5.4% or slightly less than solar.

    Now those figures show that “coal” when unspecified is still the most important source of electricity and renewables while catching up fast are still “only” at a quarter of the yearly gross. However, nuclear clearly is not as necessary as the nuclear lobby would want us to believe and it seems no stretch that it can be replaced before the 2030 begin. https://www.energieheld.de/blog/strommix-stromerzeugung-in-deutschland/ This slightly older piece gets a few things wrong from a journalistic standpoint (the same color does not always mean the same thing for instance) but it is interesting to see that e.g. Cologne uses a lot of lignite as it has big pits nearby, whereas Hamburg with its harbor relies on hard coal a lot. Munich on the other hand relies on natural gas a lot, which surprised me, but then again Bavarian policy has been to oppose wind energy rather than to endorse it and being far away from any harbor it’s not like they can import coal by the shipload…

    Eric Reply:

    If only Germany had 70% nuclear like France, they would actually be making a dent in global warming… As it is their rhetoric about global warming is just a fraud, they would prefer to burn coal.

    Bahnfreund Reply:

    Germany has some of the biggest producers of wind power and delivers worldwide, so Germany does have an impact and the wind power companies mostly exist thanks to astute government policy. Nuclear energy is also not CO2 free and uranium mining is pretty dirty business.

    Plus, Germany is actually at roughly a quarter renewables right now (few industrialized countries can claim the same and those that can are often small in population). Actually some renewable energy lobbyists warn that retaining nuclear will make it harder for renewables to get market penetration as the glut of cheap nuclear energy clogs the grid.

    What I do have to agree on is that the harebrained subsidies for aluminum smelters and other big consumers of energy should be gotten rid of…

    Roland Reply:

    And WE have one of the biggest producers of wind right here on this blog, so there.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    Not anymore. Most of them are old and when they have to be repaired they have to be upgraded. ANd even cheap coal is more expensive than cheap natural gas. Natural gas is realllllllly reallllly cheap in North America. So cheap chemical plants are being built to use it.

    Roland Reply:

    It’s so cheap that it can be used as a substitute for crude oil to produce gasoline: http://dailycaller.com/2016/11/14/this-new-power-plant-can-convert-landfill-garbage-into-gasoline/

    Paul Dyson Reply:

    @aarond, please explain why the App coalfield railroads would need to be modernized.

    Aarond Reply:

    The coal industry’s decline has led to deffered maintence, and increased traffic through the area would mean new track and of course PTC. Bridges have to get replaced, especially ones that cannot take double stack containers. Further south (Tennessee, NC, AL) congestion is already an issue on tracks that can accommodate them.

    Paul Dyson Reply:

    What have double stack containers to do with coal? PTC is not required if there is no passenger traffic or haz mat. Catching up on deferred maintenance is not the same as modernization. IF coal is revived it will be in a few areas where there is still good coal to be mined, not a wholesale reopening of old worked out pits. Note also the mention of the unicorn “clean coal” in a Trump statement. There will be a few token gestures before this quietly dies. Unless of course Trump makes a deal with China to trade coal for high speed train sets. That would set the seal on our economic status, would it not?

    Bahnfreund Reply:

    “Clean” coal is a meaningless buzzword. It may well mean “Get back to burning coal like in the 19th century”…

    Who knows, with Trump everything is possible. He for sure does not seem to believe CO2 to be a problem, as that was just another Chinese hoax according to Trumpista Twitter…

    Bahnfreund Reply:

    Well if you can run double stack containers over any given rail line it becomes a more valuable asset than a rail line where you can’t do that. And even if it is just one train a week, it may end up being the difference between it penciling out and the line being abandoned.

    Paul Dyson Reply:

    We’re discussing coal. We’re discussing Appalachian coalfield rail lines. Just leave the keyboard alone, you have no clue about this stuff. You think they run container trains around like a Marklin set? Moron.

    Bahnfreund Reply:

    What besides loading gauge and physical connections or lack thereof precludes a rail line from handling both coal and containers?

    By the way, the company is called Märklin with an “ä”.

    Paul Dyson Reply:

    Lack of business?

    Bahnfreund Reply:

    Fair enough. But if say a line through West Virginia can be used to relieve a more congested line through more densely populated areas, there is no reason for the railroad not to make use of that.

    So if it were to be gotten for free, expanding loading gauge to allow double stacking would always make sense. Of course it costs real money, so there is often an incentive not to do it.

    Paul Dyson Reply:

    A superb argument, bahnfreund. If you can get it for free…..
    You’ve just solved all our problems. Except for the problem of a particular individual posting rubbish for the sake of posting.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    Something like this

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

    Bahnfreund Reply:

    Yeah, that sounds about right.

  15. morris brown
    Nov 18th, 2016 at 14:06
    #15

    Trump agrees to $25 million settlement in Trump University fraud cases

    As I wrote earlier, when a Judge says settle, you best settle.

    From the article:

    President-elect Donald Trump, who has repeatedly bragged he never settles lawsuits despite a long history of doing so, has agreed to a $25 million settlement to end the fraud cases pending against his defunct real estate seminar program, Trump University, according to New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman.

    Schneiderman said in a Friday statement that the settlement includes a $1 million penalty paid to New York state for violating the state’s education laws by calling the program a “university” despite offering no degrees or traditional education.

    Schneiderman said his office had sued Trump for “swindling thousands of innocent Americans out of millions of dollars” and that the settlement had come despite resistance from Trump. “Today, that all changes. Today’s $25 million settlement agreement is a stunning reversal by Donald Trump and a major victory for the over 6,000 victims of his fraudulent university,” he said.

    Jerry Reply:

    Just another $25 million tax deduction for Trump.
    Gee, the guy will do anything to get out of paying taxes.
    But hey, it’s legal.

    Bahnfreund Reply:

    Well with the Trumpista coup d’etat of 18 Brumaire, there will be even more shit that Trump does that is or will soon be legal but is in no way ethical, moral or right.

  16. keithspedicabs
    Nov 18th, 2016 at 14:45
    #16
  17. morris brown
    Nov 18th, 2016 at 16:06
    #17
  18. Domayv
    Nov 18th, 2016 at 16:47
    #18

    http://www.latimes.com/opinion/editorials/la-ed-high-speed-rail-20161117-story,amp.html

    Bahnfreund Reply:

    Just posting a link with no context is…

    Not helpful…

    To say the least.

    Jerry Reply:

    “The reality is that the “Buy American” requirements won’t drive the creation of permanent jobs in the rail manufacturing industry. Nor will one high-speed rail project alone. Sustained funding and investment in rail infrastructure — both high-speed and commuter rail — will. On election day, voters approved nearly $200 billion of local ballot measures for public transit projects, showing there is still a tremendous desire to invest in modern transportation systems. President-elect Donald Trump has talked about rebuilding the country’s infrastructure; he has railed against the nation’s sluggish rail lines and has praised China’s high-speed systems. Will that translate into a renewed vision for high-speed rail that will support permanent jobs? Let’s hope so.”
    Don’t know if the LA editorial people are aware that CAHSR has withdrawn its request for a waiver

    swing hanger Reply:

    Exactly. Long-term commitment with its sustained funding is needed- otherwise firms, either foreign or domestic, are not going to invest in very expensive stateside factories with the necessary high-end processes (such as friction-stir welding) and the training required to operate them. But with the hyper-politicized, short-term nature of infrastructure investment in the U.S., I’m not hopeful.

    Aarond Reply:

    eh, it’s not so bad. By the time CAHSR is operative true HSR proposals in Illinois and NY will be off the ground. In the meantime there are HrSR projects in Illinois, Florida, Michegan, and VA to keep Siemens occupied. And this is assuming no federal initiatives, of which the jury is still out.

    Bahnfreund Reply:

    The problem is, a legacy speedup won’t need 300 km/h trainsets. And there needs to be a certain minimum demand for trainsets of a certain type to keep a factory of a certain type afloat. Plus there are economies of scale involved in stuff like maintenance yards.

    Another problem is finding qualified work. It is becoming increasingly hard to find someone who can actually do skilled “blue collar” work like welding or handling machinery. They don’t teach that in College and the US has no other educational system to speak of.

    Aarond Reply:

    First of all, Siemens has a huge factory in Sacramento that is already building 125 mph rated vehicles (the SC-44 and SC-64). While they aren’t HSR vehicles, the facilities are there and making 220 rated vehicles is more than plausible if there’s a large enough order. As CA is the largest state, I reckon it’s doable.

    Secondly, America has no problem finding tradesmen. I myself know guys who never did college but are making 2-3 times the cash their collegiate peers are. They paid for classes at private trade schools and got licensed. There’s also plenty of undocumented laborers hanging around willing to work for cash, the Home Depot in San Carlos usually has 10-15ish on a weekend.

    Jerry Reply:

    Siemens offers an eight week welding boot camp.
    http://sacramentoworks.org/job-seekers/welding/

    StevieB Reply:

    Why America Has a Shortage of Skilled Workers

    (A) report called “The Skills Gap in U.S. Manufacturing 2015 and Beyond” projects that, “Over the next decade, nearly three and a half million manufacturing jobs will likely need to be filled, and the skills gap is expected to result in 2 million of those jobs going unfilled.”…

    Year after year, the large corporations have invested in more automation and complex machinery to eliminate labor, but do not seem to want to invest in the comprehensive training programs that will increase the skill levels of the employees to maintain, troubleshoot and repair what they have installed…

    Since the 80s, the large public corporations have had two primary goals—to eliminate unions and to lower labor costs. They have been very successful in achieving both of these goals with strategies such as “two-tier” wage systems, part–time and contract workers, elimination of unions, and off-shoring jobs to lower wage countries. These strategies are well known by younger people, which makes manufacturing as a career choice very suspect…

    A report by the National Employment Law Project confirms the success of the lower labor cost goal; it finds that that “real wages for manufacturing workers declined by 4.4% from 2003 to 2013… The report relies on the Census Bureau’s Current Population Survey, and on household surveys to track wage data over many years. The survey shows that it was true that manufacturing jobs paid more than average job from 1976 to 2006. However, in 2007, it changed, and manufacturing wages declined—and have continued to decline ever since. Since the recovery from the Great Recession in 2009, most manufacturing jobs that have been added have been non-union and pay less in wages.

    Analysts have shown concern that Tesla will not be able to find enough skilled workers to operate their planned plant expansion to reach their goal of a million cars a year by the end of 2020. It has sold about 140,000 since 2008.

    Roland Reply:

    Tesla took care of this minor issue on election day: http://www.bizjournals.com/sanjose/news/2016/11/08/tesla-makes-first-major-private-acquisition-in-the.html

    Aarond Reply:

    “projects”

    The rise of part-time and contract labor is not exclusive to manufacturing and is a problem with every major industry, especially tech. Also, I highly doubt Tesla will have issues finding workers given the chronically high unemployment amongst (former) autoworkers in Detroit.

    StevieB Reply:

    The unemployed autoworkers from Detroit retired or entered other industry. Detroit is an empty shell. The population of the city has fallen from a high of 1,850,000 in 1950 to a 2015 estimated population of 677,116.

    Aarond Reply:

    yes and amongst the places they can move to is Fremont where their skills are needed

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    If someone gives them a half million dollar signing bonus so they can buy the same kind of house they had in Michigan.

    Aarond Reply:

    Work is work, I know people who “commute” from Sacramento but sleep in their cars for 3-4 days at a time. Which is sad because better CC and VTA services have the potential to make long such a daily commute plausible.

    Roland Reply:

    @BF You really have no clue WTF it is you are talking about…

  19. morris brown
    Nov 18th, 2016 at 20:12
    #19

    LA Times: California’s bullet train authority decides to buy American after all

    Domayv Reply:

    Sacramento-built trains from Siemens it is!

    Roland Reply:

    You are getting confused between Buy America and Buy California…

    Domayv Reply:

    Sacramento is located in America anyway

    Roland Reply:

    America granted. The United States of America is an entire different discussion that probably requires a thread of its own.

    Car(e)-Free LA Reply:

    What are you trying to say?

    Bahnfreund Reply:

    I am not getting it either…

    Roland Reply:

    https://www.youtube.com/results?search_query=calexit

    Bahnfreund Reply:

    What has that to do with the price of gefilte fish?

    car(e)-free LA Reply:

    now I’m even more confused.

    Bahnfreund Reply:

    Sorry, I did not mean to confuse.

    What I wanted to say is “How does that have any bearing on the issue at hand”?

    car(e)-free LA Reply:

    ok

    Bahnfreund Reply:

    Glad to clear that up.

    Roland Reply:

    now I’m even more confused.

    Bahnfreund Reply:

    Can I help thee?

  20. Roland
    Nov 19th, 2016 at 00:14
    #20

    Silicon Valley Berryessa eXtension update (just before the election…) https://youtu.be/XbvY6zJqJiE

  21. Roland
    Nov 19th, 2016 at 00:15
    #21

    And the here is the onset of the GDD: http://www.bizjournals.com/sanjose/news/2016/11/18/the-next-four-years-could-be-rough-for-silicon.html

    agb5 Reply:

    And San Fran Home Sales Crash To Lowest Level Since 2008 As Pricing Reset Gets Underway

    Roland Reply:

    And soon we shall all be partying like it was 2008 all over again except that this time we won’t have to wait 8 years… Fasten your seat belts and enjoy the ride!!!!

    John Nachtigall Reply:

    gee, do you think the median price will fall below 900,000, from the 1.1 million it is today?

    Joe Reply:

    Yes.

    John Nachtigall Reply:

    Oh no, then they will only be triple the rest of the country. What a disaster!!!

  22. Roland
    Nov 19th, 2016 at 10:24
    #22

    Breaking News: PBRRA have just announced that Caltrain will continue to operate @ 79 MPH in the Peninsula but that HSR will operate at 110 MPH.
    They also announced that the NEC’s maximum speed is 125 MPH so there…

  23. synonymouse
    Nov 19th, 2016 at 11:13
    #23

    Roland, the solution – perhaps one of the simplest in the list of remedies – is to ditch HSR and leave the ex-SP ROW to Caltrain. HSR via Dumbarton to SFO.

    Despite the Cheerleaders’ intransigeance I do not believe Altamont is totally ruled out yet. That route, like Tejon, has so much going in its favor.

    synonymouse Reply:

    And I do not consider the TBT Tunnel assured. An argument could be made for using that money on a Caltrain tube to the Eastbay.

    If the class ones go into a nosedive California should buy up chunks of trackage. It is said that at one time around 1990 the entire UP in California could have been bought by the State.

    Car(e)-Free LA Reply:

    You have to build the DTX to get to the east bay, unless you want to cut over from mission bay.

    synonymouse Reply:

    Cut over from 4th & Townsend. The City should never have let the SP jettison 3rd & Townsend.

    Car(e)-Free LA Reply:

    I disagree. The financial district and market Street bart are such yuuuuuuuuuuge destinations, that there likely is nowhere else in the nation aside from Midtown and Downtown Manhattan, the loop in Chicago, and DTLA that can compete. I suppose if your idea went forward, the empty train box could be used for a BART station in a third (second for BART) transbay tube.

    Roland Reply:

    C&C from 4th and Townsend was retired at the same time as Brian Dykes.

    Aarond Reply:

    San Jose won’t allow it, and they got the votes for it. There’s a reason why they want Bay-to-Basin to happen first.

    There’s no way LA-bound HSR runs over Altamont. Though perhaps for SJ-Sac ACE will get picked over the CC. Figure BART running into Diridon, CC service could be truncated at Richmond and CHSRA/Caltrans wouldn’t have to bother rebuilding Oakland.

    synonymouse Reply:

    Historically and intrinsically Oakland is more important then San Jose, a peripheral town.

    Caltrain and BART is adequate for San Jose. The airports tell the story of who counts.

    Aarond Reply:

    Times have changed. 16th street station is long gone while Diridon is a terminus for four (soon six) routes. And as Santa Clara County itself has more people than Alameda County. Also Oakland’s only claim to fame is the Port, which is dwarfed by LA’s. LAX also dwarfs SFO.

    Point is Oakland (and Alameda County as a whole) chose to ignore surface rail and now they pay the price, being at the bottom of CHSRA’s priorities.

    Jerry Reply:

    Oakland is more concerned about the Raiders and the A’s.

    Bahnfreund Reply:

    Well soon enough people from Oakland will be able to see the Raiders live in their brand new stadium… All they have to do is board the Nevada California interstate bullet train…

    Aarond Reply:

    That’s still the most surreal news this year, I legitimately cannot imagine Oakland without the Raiders. Though I still find it surprising that Vegas still doesn’t have an NFL team.

    Hopefully Oakland takes the opportunity and rebuilds the Coliseum area which resembles a prison camp coming off of BART. Perhaps they could relocate Amtrak’s service facility down there, to make space for a proper Oakland station.

    Bahnfreund Reply:

    Well Vegas is the biggest city without any Major League sports franchise. Mostly due to the association of Vegas with gambling. However, you also have to remember that Vegas does not have strong regional loyalty and identity (as do cities like San Francisco and New York City) because Vegas has much more transplants from elsewhere than most other cities of its size. And you also have to look at the entertainment based “industry” of Vegas which is unlike that of most other US cities.

    Of course an NFL team in Vegas might work out, but I think the Raiders have been moved around enough. We should move the Patriots instead. And bench Tom Bündchen just ’cause.

    Roland Reply:

    Can you imagine the A’s without Lew Wolff? http://www.mercurynews.com/2016/11/17/lew-wolff-reportedly-stepping-down-as-as-managing-partner/

    Neil Shea Reply:

    Aaron is exactly right. SJ population is more than 2x of Oakland. They also have multiple LRT and BRT in place and underway.

    Car(e)-Free LA Reply:

    What???!!!! Is Syno saying that bart serves a purpose and is sometimes useful?????? Its a revolution!!!

    Bahnfreund Reply:

    The signs of the apocalypse never cease…

    Car(e)-Free LA Reply:

    @Aarond. CC could also run down the 680 corridor through walnut Creek, then along ACE to RWC or SJ.

    Aarond Reply:

    That’s the ideal scenario but it’s open to poaching by BART.

    Neil Shea Reply:

    That makes good sense — but the old rail corridor was turned into the popular Iron Horse Trail and I don’t expect upscale residents will support a new corridor, even next to 680. Not clear where it would fit.

    Joe Reply:

    Spur has plans to remove 980.

    https://www.google.com/amp/www.sfchronicle.com/bayarea/place/amp/Time-to-rethink-I-980-bypass-that-cuts-through-6655442.php?client=safari

    It’s popular mechanics future city.

    Good to think big but this isn’t a reason to ignore San Jose.

    Car(e)-Free LA Reply:

    Okkkaaayyyy…but we’re talking about the 680 that runs from Fairfield to San Jose.

    Roland Reply:

    All shall be revealed in SJ on 11/29 at 6.00 PM http://www.spur.org/events/2016-11-29/future-transportation-caltrain-corridor and again in SF on 11/30 at 12.30 PM: http://www.spur.org/events/2016-11-30/future-transportation-caltrain-corridor

  24. morris brown
    Nov 20th, 2016 at 15:42
    #24

    Where California and Trump could clash over the next four (or more) years

    from the article:

    High-speed rail

    Could Trump, who lamented in March that China has “trains that go 300 miles per hour” while “We have trains that go chug, chug, chug,” be a boon for California’s high-speed rail?

    The troubled project is more than $40 billion short of the estimated funding needed for construction, and since an infusion of stimulus money during the economic recession, Republican-controlled Congress has repeatedly voted to cut off federal support for the rail.

    Trump said that a massive infrastructure bill will be one of his first priorities in office – perhaps offering hundreds of billions in tax credits to private investors to finance $1 trillion worth of projects.

    But House Speaker Paul Ryan is resistant to any new government spending; in September, he laughed at questions about Trump’s proposal.

    And even if Congress does approve the bill, it might still block any funding for California’s bullet train. House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy, of Bakersfield, is one of the project’s fiercest critics.

    Aarond Reply:

    McCarthy himself will “evolve” on the issue to support CAHSR. But the money be “withheld” (or similar) until Sacramento agrees to do away with sanctuary policies and gun control.

    Would it work, though? Depends on how much Sacramento Democrats feel about HSR.

    car(e)-free LA Reply:

    I wouldn’t give in to that. I would consider not filibustering everything good enough, with possible room for permitting healthcare reform (ie. consolidating every government subsidized form of healthcare into one hyperefficient organization that provides vouchers.)

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    State rights for things Republicans like and everything else can be under the heel of the Federal government?

    Aarond Reply:

    California has a right to build HSR money with money collected inside the state. But there is no requirement that they have to be given federal money.

    It’d be an unethical move but it’s one of the few that might cajole Sacramento into not working with DC.

    Roland Reply:

    A minor compromise could open the floodgates to federal funding for California HSR. https://youtu.be/R1Ig7tMFibQ?t=52

    Aarond Reply:

    oh yes I remember this, and I do think it’s plausible

    John Nachtigall Reply:

    Surely CA would not compromise its principles and be part of the famous “wall”. Wouldn’t that be blood money?

    car(e)-free LA Reply:

    Not only that, but it is an entirely pointless corridor, unless Chula Vista to El Paso is a major market that I’m not yet aware of.

    Aarond Reply:

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

    John Nachtigall Reply:

    105 k people a year. 290 people a day. A rounding error to actual travel

    Aarond Reply:

    More people would use it if it went 220 mph: 9 hours to mardi gras, 3.7 to cheap tequila and 1.6 to cheap gun ranges.

    car(e)-free LA Reply:

    The Sunset Limited’s demand is not border cities, but LA, Tucson, San Antonio, Houston, and New Orleans.

    The fact remains that a sane human being traveling from anywhere west of Tucson to anywhere east of San Antonio uses an airplane.

    Aarond Reply:

    I’d be a nice gesture to Mexico, though. A Mexican train between Juarez (pedway border crossing to the El Paso Amtrak station) and Torreon would give people a reliable and safe way of accessing Mexico. Countries can only come together if infrastructure allows, Amtrak’s Maple Leaf is symbolic in this regard. It’d also justify a Colorado/NM HSR project.

    Obviously it’s not a high priority but there’s a case for it.

    Danny Reply:

    the SL (and Cardinal) perform so badly because they’re only run thrice weekly: daily service (heck, daily daytime service in each direction)
    people don’t take them LA-NOLA, they take them from small towns like New Iberia or Yuma to get to bigger towns: that’s why the Republican Senators LIKE the most money-losing Amtrak lines, because it serves their main constituency; they’re the ones who want the Pioneer and Desert Wind back!

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    There aren’t enough of them to pay for the hundreds of miles of track.

    Aarond Reply:

    The Cardinal has an extremely clear case though: service from Chicago to DC. Same for the Capitol Limited and Lakeshore Limited.

    Of course all three of these routes share one thing in common: Ohio. Which is why Kaisch killing OHHSR screws everyone in the region.

    Aarond Reply:

    Also, the Cardinal also uses the Hooiser State’s route from Indianapolis to Chicago. The same train that Pence put up the cash to continue (however tenuously so). There’s at least a clear path here.

    Ian Mitchell Reply:

    The US-mexican border was put in impassable desert on purpose. A bunch of maquiladoras have opened up near the border since 1994 and migration toward the border was encouraged intermittently since Santa Ana’s day, but nothing constituting a major corridor. There’s SD/Tijuana at 5 million Mexicali/El Cento at about a million, Noagales (300,000 unless you decide Tucson’s close enough, then about 1.2 million), then nothing for 300 miles, then El Paso/Juarez at 3 million, then nothing again for… jeez, yeah, just so much desolate borderlands.

    The thing is that the 2,000 mile border needs maybe half that of wall to be secured because “natural barriers” take up the rest- oh, and 600+ miles of wall were already built by a bill voted for by Senators Clinton(D-NY) and Obama (D-IL), so it’s pretty much just finishing a wall already started.

    The wall, even being half-done, is still kind of a dumb idea. And HSR on the wall? That’s even worse.

    Ian Mitchell Reply:

    The sunset limited is one of a handful of Amtrak’s routes that just needs put out of its misery. It’s an embarrassment. The same equipment could be legitimately useful where there is surging demand and few alternatives (like the bakken).

    Aarond Reply:

    It’s easy to dump on the Four Corners states but they deserve something. That said by pure ridership (which is the only thing that actually matters) the Empire Builder is far more deserving of HSR-ification than any of the other inland west routes.

    I suggest the SL because it can be used as a bridge to Mexico (literally so if the El Paso Amtrak station were given a pedway border crossing to Juarez).

    Ian Mitchell Reply:

    The four corners states still have the southwest chief and the california zephyr.
    Texas eagle used to run to laredo. That’s a better bridge to mexico than the SL accomplishes and can be done with existing equipment.

    The SL is a waste of what could be running over places that are experiencing population growth without sufficient competing modes of transport, like the overland route, the former north coast Hiawatha route, or doubling frequency on the frequently sold-out long distance routes like the empire builder.

    If you really wanted to serve that are of the country more meaningfully, a north-south service paralleling I-25 from Cheyenne to El Paso would provide a more useful benefit, given where cities are located along the continental divide. It’s shorter than the distance from San Antonio to Tucson, with about 5-6 million more people served over that distance.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    More people live in Ohio than in Wyoming, Colorado and New Mexico combined.
    More people live in Illinois than live in Ohio and a train from Waukegan to East Saint Louis would be able to serve Milwaukee and Saint Louis. It’s 400 miles from Milwaukee to Louisville. It’s 450 from Denver to Albuquerque. There are more people in Indiana than there are in Colorado.
    ….it’s 450 from Baltimore to Charlotte. There are more people in North Carolina than there are in Colorado, there are more people in Virginia than there are in Colorado and about the same amount of people in Maryland as there are in Colorado. Baltimore, in nice round numbers, is 100 miles away from Philadelphia. slightly closer than Cheyenne is to Denver. And much closer than Pueblo is to Denver.

    Ian Mitchell Reply:

    There’s no doubt that the eastern seaboard makes more sense to serve than the rustbelt, which makes more sense to serve than great plains, which makes more sense to serve than the rockies, which makes more sense to serve than the high desert.

    But if the question is how to better serve those in the four corners states, a daily Cheyenne-El Paso train answers that better than the tri-weekly sunset limited does, and more cheaply.

    The strongest routes for rail in the US, dollar for dollar, are the NEC (including keystone) and extensions of it. There are a few places (e.g. Dallas-Houston, SF-LA) where brand-new HSR is the next logical step. There are more where higher-speed revival of good routes is the next logical step (e.g. Florida East Coast/Brightline).

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    there are these things called airplanes.

    Bahnfreund Reply:

    Well currently there seems to be some serious talk in the states where the Sunset Limited used to run to restore service along the Nawlinz Jacksonville stretch…

    Bahnfreund Reply:

    On the Empire Builder: I always thought the main draw of that route is the breathtaking landscape it passes through. I am not sure HSR would do much to increase ridership along such a primarily touristic route. But I am no expert and if you can prove me wrong, please do so.

    car(e)-free LA Reply:

    A big chunk of Empire Builder ridership may be from the Twin Cities to Chicago. I would assume that from Fargo to Glacier National Park, ridership is minimal.

    Aarond Reply:

    @Bahnfreund

    The EB’s draw is that winter driving from Seattle to Chicago is not easy, especially if chains are required (not everyone can afford snow tires). A 58 hour heated Amtrak ride with Internet is very appealing. Also the EB technically cheats, the train is split in half at Spokane so it is able to service both Portland and Seattle.

    @car(e)-free LA

    https://www.narprail.org/site/assets/files/1038/trains_2015.pdf

    Top city pairs is Chicago-St.Paul and Chicago-Seattle

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    Anecdotal reports are that it’s booked solid in the summer. There isn’t much snow in the summer.

    Nathanael Reply:

    Part of the draw of the Empire Builder is that there’s no expressway next to it from Spokane to Minneapolis. Another part is that airline fares are astronomical for every single place in between.

    When the roads suck and the airlines suck, way more people take the train.

    Chicago-St Paul and Chicago-Seattle are the top city pairs, but then there’s a huge number of people going from all those small towns in Montana and North Dakota *to* Seattle, Portland, Chicago, or St Paul.

    Bahnfreund Reply:

    Well splitting or joining trains en route has been best practice for decades and I think Amtrak should do more of that.

    And quite frankly I would like to one day ride one of the transcontinental routes and the Empire Builder is quite far up on the wish list… Due to the landscapes it passes through…

    Ian Mitchell Reply:

    I thought empire builder was doing well in part because there aren’t a lot of other options for accessing those oil-drilling places over the bakken? Seems like it’d play a factor.

    Bahnfreund Reply:

    Probably all of those are factors, but it is possible to ascertain whether your oil claim holds water; Does ridership fluctuate in line with the oil price and/or the amount of drilling in the area? If yes, by how much? Correlation does not always mean causation, but if there is no correlation, it is hard to argue causation.

    morris brown Reply:

    @ Roland who writes:

    A minor compromise could open the floodgates to federal funding for California HSR.

    Roland: Why in hell do you post such BS — wasting everyone time with pure nonsense.

    Roland Reply:

    Come on Morris, lighten up once in a while :-)

    morris brown Reply:

    @Roland

    OK!

  25. Jeff Carter
    Nov 21st, 2016 at 05:02
    #25

    Caltrain Customer Satisfaction Survey indicates riders would prefer less frequent service.

    The results of the June 2016 survey were presented to the Caltrain/JPB Citizens Advisory Committee at their meeting of November 16, 2016. The results indicated that 62% would prefer a faster commute over more frequent service. However the question was presented in such a way that express/bullet service would be lost to provide more frequent service. I find it difficult to believe that Caltrain must sacrifice express service to increase the frequency.

    Caltrain runs too infrequently as it is, some stations are served only once per hour during peak periods, in the case of 22nd street, it just short of 90 minutes, 3:05 pm 4:33 pm (train # 156 and #264). Then of course there is the woefully inadequate off-peak and weekend service, which may become even more inadequate to accommodate electrification construction. Caltrain should try supplementing the off-peak and weekends with express/bullet service. This would allow people to take advantage of the express trains and the locals could run more efficiently, as they often get bogged down with heavy passenger activity throughout the run between San Francisco and San Jose.

    Something is just not right with the system when they have to sacrifice express service to run more service.

    CAC agenda here see pages 12-14 for survey report:
    http://www.caltrain.com/Assets/__Agendas+and+Minutes/JPB/CAC/Agendas/2016/2016-11-16+JPB+CAC+Agenda+Packet.pdf

    Slide presentation here:
    http://www.caltrain.com/Assets/__Agendas+and+Minutes/JPB/CAC/Presentations/2016/2016-11-16+JPB+CAC+2016+Cust+Satisfaction+Survey.pdf

    Surveys/results can be found here:
    http://www.caltrain.com/about/statsandreports/Surveys.html

    Joe Reply:

    Words instead of travel times.

    People are being asked imprecise questions.

    J. Wong Reply:

    You shouldn’t have used 22nd St as a representative example because it is entirely exceptional. It’s service patterns are lop sided because of the commute patterns. Your cited example is only for the outbound direction at that time. For the inbound 5! trains stop per hour. That pattern is reversed during the morning when 5 trains stop in the outbound direction. Commuters can also take the 3rd Street T line (Muni) for more frequent service.

    Jeff Carter Reply:

    I cited the most glaring example of woefully inadequate service and nothing changes the fact that it is 90 minutes between trains in the southbound direction, at that time, at 22nd. In the opposite direction there are two trains serving 22nd during the same time period, (Train # 155 and #159). Beginning with #159, the northbound service is significantly better, commute patterns notwithstanding, shitty service produces shitty ridership. 22nd should be convenient for both customers that live and work in the Dogpatch area.

    Sure the MUNI T line is running on 3rd Street but that just adds fairly avoidable time and expense to peoples commute.

    There are a number of stations that only receive service once per hour during the peak period, South San Francisco, Belmont, Hayward Park, Sunnyvale, San Antonio, in either one or both directions. Lawrence, in one case, has a train at 4:52 pm (#258), and then next train is at 6:03 pm (#268). And then there is Broadway which doesn’t have any weekday service at all. No stations should be saddled with almost useless 60 minute frequencies during peak commute periods and during off-peak periods. Transit should be optimized for the convenient of the public, customers, and taxpayers. It should not be run for the convenience of the agencies, operators, contractors, etc.

    Joe Reply:

    I agree with you. 22nd needs better Muni service too.
    There’s a lot of SF bypassed with a focus on 4th and King and TBT.

    Roland Reply:

    22nd will be relocated at the same time as the DTX extension.

    Car(e)-Free LA Reply:

    Mabye.

    Roland Reply:

    Do you have any inside knowledge that you would care to share with the rest of us?

    J. Wong Reply:

    Why would they need inside knowledge? Nothing has been decided one way or the other with respect to the ultimate alignment into DTX.

    The real question is whether you have any inside knowledge?

    Car(e)-Free LA Reply:

    There are multiple possibilities, some of which do and some of which don’t rebuild 22nd st. See this blog post for more: https://urbanlifesigns.blogspot.com/2016/03/the-mission-bay-tetris-rubiks-cube-rail.html?m=1

    Jeff Carter Reply:

    @ Roland: “22nd will be relocated at the same time as the DTX extension.”

    Exactly where will 22nd be relocated?

    And what insider information do you have knowledge of that 22nd will be relocated?

    Joe Reply:

    There is speculation that the 22nd station would be moved towards the new warriors stadium / mission bay. That’s in keeping with transit for mega developers.

    J. Wong Reply:

    I think they’re proposing that 4th & King be replaced with a 16th Street Station right outside the Warriors stadium. Maybe they replace 22nd St with Oakdale, which would make sense for the bypass option (where the ROW is rerouted towards 3rd St before tunnel #2 thereby bypassing 22nd St).

    Joe Reply:

    Oakdale would connect to the MUNI 24 trolley and be better for south bound trips out of the Upper Noe, Glenn park and Bernal Heights.

    J. Wong Reply:

    They could increase the frequency of the 48 to make it more convenient. Even better would be limited shuttles during commute hours. As it is, a significant number of riders drive & park on the streets around 22nd St Station. They wouldn’t be able to do that at Oakdale.

    Re: increased frequency for Caltrain during non-commute hours: The problem is that there isn’t enough passengers to justify another train.

    Jeff Carter Reply:

    @ J Wong: “Re: increased frequency for Caltrain during non-commute hours: The problem is that there isn’t enough passengers to justify another train.”

    What?????? How do you know this?

    I don’t get this ideology that Caltrain has matched the service to the demand, which some people have publically praised Caltrain for this. Caltrain developed the current schedule back in 2004, then again in 2005, using the “demand” as a basis for the schedule. Yes there have been some minor changes over the years since then but it is still the same basic schedule. It is actually the other way around; the so-called demand is driven by the schedule. Stations such as California Avenue and Lawrence should have better ridership but since they are served less frequently the ridership suffers. Prior to 2004, the weekday ridership at those stations was over 1,000, after 2004 ridership dropped as they were served less frequently. In recent years ridership has rebounded, but think how much better it could have been if those stations were better served.

    If BART can run trains every 15-20 minutes to small towns like Orinda and Lafayette, then Caltrain should be running more frequently than once per hour on the well populated Peninsula.

    One of the common complaints about Caltrain is that it is too slow and this has more to do with infrequent service than the speeds of the trains themselves. People don’t like to wait; they shouldn’t have to plan their lives around a poor train schedule. Shitty service produces shitty ridership. The automobile is the competition here, with a car you can come and go as you please; you don’t have to worry about the train schedule.

    People make choices to use transit bas on a number of issues, convenience is a major one, as is cost. If the system is infrequent and inconvenient, they will choose to drive. Why should they choose a costly transit service if it is not expedient for them?

    J. Wong Reply:

    I admit I don’t know that adding another train wouldn’t induce additional passengers to use it. I’m speaking from my own experience: The local once-an-hour service is sparsely used as it is. Although many on this blog believe Caltrain is incompetent are they really so incompetent that they cannot determine that more frequent midday service would induce sufficient additional demand to make it worth it? Isn’t this really just a “add the service and they will ride” mindset?

    Roland Reply:

    The problem with the mid-day “service” is that it is useless (too slow). This is why every single Board member ends up having to drive to Board meetings. They all know that nothing can beat a bullet during peak but they also know that the off-peak service is so painfully slow that they will never be able to get back to where they came from in a reasonable amount of time unless they are driving. An hourly bullet would take care of this problem but this is not going to happen as long as the SamTrans RSMFRs continue to prioritize CBOSS and toilet-less trains with lots of doors over anything remotely connected with actual passenger service.

    Jeff Carter Reply:

    @ Joe: “I agree with you. 22nd needs better Muni service too.
    There’s a lot of SF bypassed with a focus on 4th and King and TBT.”

    That would be nice, too bad transit managers don’t focus more on customer service instead of their own self interests. Better service/scheduling would be great and fare co-ordination/substantial or free discounts would be even greater.

    Joe Reply:

    It’s not the transit managers. This system is Balkanized and rational behavior isn’t rewarded.

    Car(e)-Free LA Reply:

    Oh it’s terrible. Whenever I go to the bay, im always pleasantly surprised at how easy it is to get around in one small area, and shocked at how much planning it takes door to door from one region to another.

    Jeff Carter Reply:

    @ Joe: “It’s not the transit managers. This system is Balkanized and rational behavior isn’t rewarded.”

    Very true, but some Balkanization rests with transit leadership/ideologies. They are clueless about rewarding rational behavior. There is no thought given to the benefits of coordinated low cost fares/transfers and the possible increase in ridership that could be generated.

    Some time ago, (http://www.caltrain.com/Assets/__Agendas+and+Minutes/JPB/CAC/Minutes/2015/2015-01-21+JPB+CAC+Minutes.pdf ) Clipper 2.0 was discussed at the Caltrain/JPB Citizens Advisory Committee and the question of a universal type of pass came up. The staff response was that such a pass would have to be too expensive to be useful or agencies would lose too much money. Then staff throws the Brown Act card at them claiming that this is not on the agenda. Clearly staff doesn’t want to get into this discussion. Even though fare coordination is well within the purview of the next generation of Clipper.

    Coordinated systems has been brought up on other blogs (Green Caltrain / Streetsblog SF) about that system in Zurich Switzerland, which has more agencies than here in the Bay Area, yet fares and schedules are well coordinated.

    http://sf.streetsblog.org/2016/11/16/spur-talk-running-public-transportation-like-a-swiss-watch/#disqus_thread

    Joe Reply:

    Coordinated transit happens when transit managers are rewarded, and not punished, for coordinated service. Managers are beholden to their funding which is balkanized and driven by local interests. Yes they are rationally worried about losing money to coordinated service overhead and yes we shouldn’t have meetings covering topics off agenda.

    The Swiss, i was told by a friend who now lives there, mandate development around stations and restrict development to focus around their transit system. We have NIMBYs pushing service away an others pulling service along meandering routes to their malls. We have an entire governence system working against coordinated service.

    Roland Reply:

    Do you mean like Gilroy?

    joe Reply:

    Yes.
    Gilroy Citizens booted sprawl Mayor Perry Woodward and passed Measure H, overly restrictive but unfortunately needed check on sprawl outside City boundaries.

    Dec 7 2015 Mayor Gauge and Councilmen / Caltrain board chair Perry Woodward lead an effort to bypass the General Pan and add 4,000+ homes in car centric development along 101.

    Gilroy was immediately sued by the County and Gauge retired as Mayor, appointing Perry to the Mayoral Position.

    Sad that the Mayor and Caltrain Chair would be so disinterested in fostering Caltrain TOD development. Good he was removed from office.

    This Nov 2016 Perry Woodward, flush with donations, lost his bid to be Mayor and Gilroy City Council was slapped with an overly restrictive Measure H restricting growth outside city boundaries.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    I’m still not clear on how Gilroy can tell people outside of the city’s boundaries, what to do.

    Michael Reply:

    My best guess- To urbanize (develop farmland) beyond what the county government allows, the city needs to go through the process of annexing the land and then… …here’s what they hold in their hand… …provide sewer and water to support the new homes and businesses. Septic tanks won’t cut it.

    joe Reply:

    It’s a lose-lose solution.

    Outside the city boundaries is unincorporated Santa Clara County. A developer wanting high profit homes needs the city to annex and zone land for development.

    The ‘rouge’ plan whichwasn’t debated and voted in one meeting Dec 7th, was to annex and develop land inconsistent with the Mandated General Plan.

    That’s why the County sued the City to block the Plan

    Measure H has problems – too restrictive and yes, people can build small ranches on several acres that bypass county zoning restrictions.

    We’re now at the mercy of voter approval to add housing because citizens rightfully lost trust thanks to the old Mayor and his appointed collaborator, the mayor who lost reelection and who reprsenets south county and chairs Caltrain.

    Clem Reply:

    A unified fare system means Caltrain giving up control over their fare revenue. Over their dead bodies!!!

    Joe Reply:

    Maybe. If true what would make anyone they’d forfit control without any assurances and why is resistance irrational?

    Roland Reply:

    They essentially gave up control over farebox recovery when they let the PBRRA/LTK cartel mandate the seating/bike/toilet diet on Caltrain (presumably to increase “HSR” ridership?) and they will be toast when San Mateo County can no longer afford their share of the increased operating subsidy.

    What happens next will be interesting…

    Clem Reply:

    Your reading of the tea leaves is, as always, unique.

    Joe Reply:

    I walked from 30th & Church to 22nd station. Sometimes caught the MUNI 18 at Bryant. They just don’t have good service to Caltrain.

    Roland Reply:

    The new station will have better connections to Muni than 4th & King, including a shared platform for the N and the T right above the station.

    joe Reply:

    A Station northward will be harder to reach for residents in the central sections of the city like Noe Valley / Mission. You’d need to head N into the city and then transfer to commute south. It takes too long.

    If placed northward, it will be used to reduce car trips to a new stadium for BBall.

    Bahnfreund Reply:

    No stadium can generate more day-to-day travel than a densely built downtown core. Which is one of the reasons why stadiums should not be put into downtown unless there is an existing stadium site.

    Jeff Carter Reply:

    @ Joe: “A Station northward will be harder to reach for residents in the central sections of the city like Noe Valley / Mission. You’d need to head N into the city and then transfer to commute south. It takes too long.”

    So true, 22nd gets a lot of use by residents and workers in the Dogpatch (I work there), and eastern Potrero Hill. The Muni 48 serves 22nd, the 22 terminal is 3 blocks away. Many people walk or bike to the station. Convenience is important, moving the station to the north will add unnecessary time and expense to the current users of 22nd.

    Moving 22nd to Oakdale would create the same scenario. However a new station at Oakdale may open up new opportunities for serving the southeastern area of San Francisco.

    Moving 4th & Townsend back to 16th creates the same scenario for the users/workers/residents in the Mission Bay/SOMA area and makes AT&T Park less convenient. Relocation of existing Caltrain stations must not be dictated by the new Warriors arena. The usage at the new arena doesn’t justify it.

    The proposed removal of I-280 and realignment/tunnel for Caltrain is not a given. Where is the money going to come from? Where is the I-280 traffic going to be dumped? Think about the traffic after a Giants game or Warriors game without the I-280. Where is the Mission Bay Alliance regarding this proposal?

    If any Caltrain re-alignment is to occur, then it should occur north of tunnel #1, to avoid the sharp curve at 7th & Townsend.

    J. Wong Reply:

    “Moving 4th & Townsend back to 16th creates the same scenario for the users/workers/residents in the Mission Bay/SOMA”

    Wrong. 16th is smack-dab in the middle of Mission Bay. Also, all of this is predicated on making TBT “live” so pretty much a wash for most SOMA residents.

    “If any Caltrain re-alignment is to occur, then it should occur north of tunnel #1, to avoid the sharp curve at 7th & Townsend.”

    Also wrong. All the alignments being investigated would remove the curve at 7th & Townsend so there is no requirement that the realignment be north of tunnel #1 at all.

    The reality is that in changing the stations some people lose and some people gain. I think you would have a hard time arguing that in the balance more would lose. (And I’m a user of 22nd St but I can look beyond my own biases.)

    joe Reply:

    “biases”?

    Objectively, the system, a system for three counties, needs a AM station for commuters heading south. Riding the MUNI into SF isn’t the right solution.

    In particular a station for diamond heights, noe valley, mission, bernal heights and glenn park. A big hole is 30th street which is midway between 24th and glenn park BART.

    J. Wong Reply:

    That’s not what I was arguing. There are a lot of people living and perhaps working around 22nd St, but there is going to be just as many living and working around a 16th St station. Your argument is that they need a mid-city station serving non-residents of the neighborhood that would not be served by a 16th St station with which I agree.

    My non-objective bias is that 22nd St is kept where it is even over replacing it with an objectively equivalent Oakdale station. Also why isn’t Bayshore adequete as an AM commute station (ignoring its service frequency)? Every choice involves trade-offs.

    Joe Reply:

    SF residents who work south–Caltrain is bidirectional and so a focus should be bidirectional trips AM and PM. 22nd is a draw from a larger area. Not perfect however.

    Oakdale would help as it connects to MUNI 24 trolly and MUNI light rail.

    Bayshore is a drive and park station I know diamond heights residents use bayshore Caltrain since 22nd st via the 48 is too long. MUNI 22 isn’t an option.

    22nd st is flawed — the hill is too steep to bike and 48 MUNI meanders on Potrero hill.

    Roland Reply:

    I thought I would never say this in my lifetime but JAW and Joece are both RIGHT:

    – 7th Street (between 16th & Townsend) will replace 4th & King.
    – Cesar Chavez will replace both Oakdale and 22nd.
    – People who currently use 22nd will use either 7th or Cesar Chavez but there won’t be any additional parking near 7th other than what is currently being planned for the Arena.
    – Last but not least Paul Avenue needs to be planned as a 4-track station with T-third and BRT connections before someone ends up doing something really stupid with the remaining UP ROW down there.

    Joe Reply:

    How many stations ?

    New TBT some day

    Move 4th and King south

    Ceasar Chavez aka Army would be too north and less accessible as it is also a freeway congestion on ramp and difficult to reach from Diamond Heights, Noe and Glenn park.

    Oakdale would pull from a larger catchment and has both T and muni 24 trolly which runs n/s through Castro, and then E/W from Noe valley and bernal heights.

    Consider the gap. BART at 24th st and Glenn park puts 30th & cortland midway between between the stations and thus the MUNI 24 along 30th and cortland is a perfect complement and takes riders to Caltrain.

  26. Robert
    Nov 21st, 2016 at 07:40
    #26

    The former Los Angeles Union Station run through track studies have now been turned into a new project called Link US. Draft EIR due early next year. Here is a link to a presentation showing several concepts. Most include HSR platforms and run through tracks. One concept delays the platform buildout and HSR run through into the future. Looks like a couple industrial buildings could be saved for a bit by delaying the HSR portion:

    http://media.metro.net/projects_studies/rr/presentation_linkUS_meeting_2016_0602.pdf

    And the project page can be found here:

    https://www.metro.net/projects/link-us/

    Looks like maybe a 2019 construction start and 2024 finish. Price tag of $2.75 Billion. Without the recent Measure M, this would never have been possible. Funding is TBD, but I’ll bet that the reason this got resurrected earlier this year was because they knew Measure M was going to make it.

    This will completely transform Union Station.

    RT

    Aarond Reply:

    I’ll do more than transform Union Station, it’ll completely transform Metrolink which will be able to consolidate many of it’s lines as run-through service is made possible. This means much faster and more reliable service for everyone in LA, OC and San Bernadino. The benefits don’t stop there, as the Regional Connector gives riders a door into most of LA and LAX.

    LA residents should be proud, 40 years (1987-2027) of effort is already paying off.

    Danny Reply:

    and the Green’s going to plug the airport into Metrolink’s OC+Riverside+IEOC+91 network; for the rest of Metrolink the RC will mean a two-seat ride LAX-LAX–take some of the strain off of Century and the 405/105 ramps (or at least a workaround)
    it’d also allow for higher speeds and shorter, more frequent trainsets to smooth out the masses of commuters piling into each platform …
    plus M’s passage and the rail boom from UCLA down to Torrance is going to make NIMFYism politically unviable–even people in Lancaster, Simi Valley, Perris, and Laguna Niguel are gonna understand the immediate benefit and convenience of LRT

  27. Robert
    Nov 21st, 2016 at 07:43
    #27

    The run through tracks are sorely needed. Getting into and out of the station is painfully slow. The HSR platforms would be right next to the Gold Line light rail platform, which is already elevated. Will be interesting to see the Draft EIR to see how they are going to go about building this and still run trains for 5 years.

    RT

  28. Eric M
    Nov 21st, 2016 at 09:06
    #28

    The Feds Finally Make Safety Rules for High Speed Rail

    The Federal Railroad Administration is releasing new draft regulations that could make it a lot easier to build the speedier transport option right here in the US of A. They lay out clear safety standards for the trains, the product of 10 years of back-and-forth with industry.

    The railroad regulators will go through an open comment period, where industry, consumer advocates and general train nerds will submit comments. By early 2017, it should finalize these rules.

    Eric M Reply:

    Passenger Equipment Safety Standards; Standards for Alternative Compliance and High-Speed Trainsets

    Eric M Reply:

    Hey Useless, here you go. The newest “draft” rules for Tier 3, which you can’t seem to grasp was still being worked on and not finalized.

    European Platform:

    FRA concludes that there are no significant differences between trains built to the design standards contained in ENs 12663 and 15227 and trains built to meet the crashworthiness and occupant protection requirements in the proposed rule.

    Japanese Platform:

    Although FRA believes that the proposed Tier III requirements would allow Japanese trainsets to be modified for use in the U.S. market and be interoperable, it is also expected that those required modifications would be costly

    Roland Reply:

    “Specifically, the proposed rule would generate cost savings benefits by enabling high-speed rail operators to avoid new right-of-way acquisition and infrastructure construction for dedicated rail lines in dense urban areas. Instead it would allow such trains to travel on existing, non-dedicated rail lines but at slower speeds than permissible for travel on dedicated rail lines. As there is no comprehensive set of equipment safety regulations for this type of operation in the United States, a high-speed rail operation of this nature (operating at speeds up to 220 mph) could be constructed in the absence of this rule only if the operation was governed by a rule of particular applicability, which would set forth the minimum safety standards and conditions that would apply to the operator’s proposed operation. Most likely, FRA would grant this regulatory approval only if the proposed system was self-contained (i.e., no high-speed passenger trains intermixing with conventional passenger or freight trains, and no highway-rail grade crossings). Such a dedicated high-speed rail system would not be as efficiently integrated with the rest of the general rail system.”

    Clem Reply:

    You had led us to believe the FRA’s RSAC ETF-003 or whatever it was would have far-reaching implications for the specification of California’s HSR rolling stock… and I see nothing here other than legalization of Euro HSR designs. Great.

    Eric M Reply:

    Roland and Useless won’t like this nugget:

    Further, FRA intends for these definitions to make clear that the definitions of Tier I and Tier II do not include Tier III passenger equipment merely because the equipment operates in the Tier I and Tier II speed ranges.

    Roland Reply:

    Everything is moving along exactly as planned as far as I am concerned: Bye-bye high platforms and CalFranKISSentrains. Par-Tay!!!

    Clem Reply:

    I love it when a plan comes together. Thanks for clarifying.

    Roland Reply:

    “Alstom believes its Duplex-derived option could offer significant benefits for any putative HS2 operation. By moving traction and auxiliary equipment to the power cars at either end of the trainset, interior space in the coaches could be maximized, which would permit a greater degree of flexibility in the provision of onboard services such as catering, space for passengers with reduced mobility or luggage stowage.”

    http://www.railwaygazette.com/news/single-view/view/acela-influences-alstoms-hs2-concept-train.html

    Roland Reply:

    “Since you carry so many more passengers, you also have the advantage as the cost per seat can be much lower,” explains Anderberg. So, he continues, “you could also have an effect on the ticket prices”. At this stage, of course, it’s speculation, but in an ideal world it would be business class travel at economy prices.”
    http://www.railway-technology.com/features/featuredouble-decker-trains-for-hs2-4983219/

    Bahnfreund Reply:

    “Business class travel at economy class prices” sounds good but is ultimately meaningless. Because the only thing that differentiates the two is price and relative level of service.

    Or could you come up with an a priori definition of “business class” that holds water?

    Of course you could say “You will have more legroom than business class on airline x on route y but pay only z% of the economy class fare of airline a over route b” but that’s not a good marketing claim.

    And yes, more seats should ceteris paribus enable lower prices, that’s what demand and supply is all about, but double deckers do have downsides. Among them that they usually have less space for luggage.

  29. nick
    Nov 21st, 2016 at 17:18
    #29

    I’ve been nervously watching Prop 53’s margin get narrower and narrower as the ballots have been counted.

    Per Politico, earlier in the counting process it was:
    No 51.4% 4,395,143
    Yes 48.6% 4,154,094
    (Can anyone find strictly election night numbers?)

    As of 11/21 AM, it is
    No 51.0% 5,804,450
    Yes 49.0% 5,568,661

    Of the ballots that came in since Politico’s numbers, it’s been
    No 49.91% 1,409,307
    Yes 50.09% 1,414,567

    So Yes has been ahead by a tiny bit in the late ballots. Per the uncounted ballot report as of noon on 11/21, there are 2,162,936 outstanding ballots. If those breakdown the same as the other late-counted ballots (a big assumption), the final outcome will be:

    No 50.86% 6,883,904
    Yes 49.14% 6,652,143

    Please feel free to double check my math.

    I’m hoping that is a conservative estimate, as some of those uncounted ballots didn’t vote on Prop 53, and I’d assume many of the still-outstanding ballots are from urban areas that were more likely to vote No. So based on this it does look like the No’s will prevail by hair after all is said an done.

    Tangentially-related: So glad we have Jerry Brown as California’s bulwark against emotion-based populism on the right AND left. If only he were a decade or two younger, then Democrats would have a national answer to the bad-policy populism being sold by Trump and the Sanders/SF exclusionary “Progressive” set. Warren somewhat fills that role, but she’s too old as well. If a younger rational Progressive doesn’t step up soon, it’s looking like Andrew Cuomo will be the main contender in the primary against whoever the Sandernistas put up. Talk about a choice between two evils!

  30. Keith Saggers
    Nov 21st, 2016 at 18:50
    #30

    This is a newspaper article suggesting some infrastructure development possibilities

    http://www.nytimes.com/2016/11/18/business/trumps-biggest-test-can-he-build-something-that-inspires-awe.html?_r=0

  31. synonymouse
    Nov 21st, 2016 at 22:40
    #31
  32. StevieB
    Nov 22nd, 2016 at 00:52
    #32

    A California Senate supermajority is within reach. State Senate District 29 results are within 200 votes with Republican Chang leading on election night and Democrat Newman now slightly ahead.

    State Senate District 29 – Districtwide Results

    100.0% ( 527 of 527 ) precincts partially reporting as of November 21, 2016, 6:38 p.m.

    Candidate Votes Percent
    Josh Newman(Party Preference: DEM) 151,376 50.1%
    Ling Ling Chang(Party Preference: REP) 150,547 49.9%

    Bahnfreund Reply:

    How many absentee ballots are still out there?

    StevieB Reply:

    County elections officials will continue counting ballots (vote-by-mail, provisional, etc.) during the 30-day post-election canvass period. These results are Semi-Final until the Secretary of State certifies results of all state contests on December 16, 2016.

    Bahnfreund Reply:

    That’s nice to know, it just wasn’t an answer to my question.

  33. morris brown
    Nov 22nd, 2016 at 12:09
    #33

    Nov 2016 Cap and Trade Auction results just posted

    see:

    https://www.arb.ca.gov/cc/capandtrade/auction/nov-2016/summary_results_report.pdf

    I am not an expert here, but it looks to me like the auction was a complete failure; worst then than last two auctions… very little funding to be available for HSR

    76,960,000 offered for sale and only 1,020,000 sold.

    John Nachtigall Reply:

    that is a misread, it was 87 million offered and 77 million bought

    an “sunny” take on the auction”

    http://blogs.edf.org/climatetalks/2016/11/22/good-news-in-california-as-carbon-auction-results-improve-and-carbon-emissions-continue-falling/

    morris brown Reply:

    My posting that auction was a complete failure is in error — sorry. Auction was better than last two, but hardly an outstanding success.

    The net funding from this auction for HSR will be around $90 million — enough to keep the doors open for a few more days I guess.

    Joe Reply:

    Wrong again.
    I read they sold 90% of their carbon credits.

    Michael Reply:

    Take it from here. They weren’t selling many because polluters are reducing their pollution. They came close to selling all they had to sell.
    http://www.sfchronicle.com/business/article/Lawsuit-not-Trump-threatens-California-s-10631542.php?cmpid=gatehp

  34. Bahnfreund
    Nov 22nd, 2016 at 13:42
    #34

    On unrelated news, Merkel has announced to be running again. 2017 would be her 12th year in office. Only Adenauer (1949-1963) and Kohl (1982-1998) have held the office of German chancellor longer than Merkel. For comparison, Bismarck held the office from 1871 to 1890 and Hitler was “Führer und Reichskanzler” from 1933 to 1945, both of those of course never legitimized by free and fair elections.

    John Nachtigall Reply:

    So actual question. Obviously you are free to support whomever you like, but given your opinions on this board i am surprised you support Merkel because of her austerity stand with respect to Greece and the rest of Europe. Including now the “bail in” provisions for banks and such.

    Is it her social stands, because your economics seem in conflict. Just curious

    Car(e)-Free LA Reply:

    Nowadays, political divisions aren’t split by the classic left right divide, but by the globalist/centerist/intelligent vs populist/inexperienced/angry divide, and coalitions between the classic left and right are necessary. For instance, I assume you prefer Clinton over Trump even though you are a conservative, and I prefer Paul Ryan over Jill Stein, even though I’m a Democrat.

    Bahnfreund Reply:

    I will not vote for her party (nor have I ever) and I would prefer a red-red-green (SPD, Linke and Bündnis 90/ Die Grünen) coalition over a grand coalition led by Merkel. But I prefer Merkel over anybody else in her party and anybody to her political right.

    Just like I prefer capitalism over fascism or theocracy.

    Car(e)-Free LA Reply:

    Yay! Merkel is great! She is one of my favorite people! Sadly, I had been looking forward to seeing Clinton and Merkel together ad heads of state. That’s actually an image I have been wanting to see for months.

    Bahnfreund Reply:

    Merkel is not a head of state. She is a head of government however. The two positions fall into one in the US but do not in places like Germany or England.

    John Nachtigall Reply:

    Merkel meets with the heads of state (Obama). she is the head of state. Whoever meets with the girl scout who sold the most cookies is irrelevant

    Bahnfreund Reply:

    and Gauck (the current President of Germany) also meets with heads of state. Look, I know decades of hearing the wrong word used for it can be deceiving, but “head of state” is what a monarch is or does. They “represent” they are the “number one” in the protocol. Incidentally the official numberplate for the German President is just that – 1. That does not mean they have any real power.

    The head of government is the person who leads the government. Irrespective of their place in the protocol (Merkel for instance is not even number two in the protocol and Germany does not even have an official Vice President). They are (usually) the person with the most power.

    But if you don’t believe me, you might believe old auntie wi: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Head_of_state https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Head_of_government

    Car(e)-Free LA Reply:

    OK. Sorry. My bad. But you understand my point.

    Bahnfreund Reply:

    Yes I do, and no problem. At least you are open to being convinced that a certain word fits better ;-)

    John Nachtigall Reply:

    i meant what I said. The person in charge is the head of state. I dont give a damn what the protocol is. Merkel is the one who can starve the Greeks or make peace with the Russians. The other guy is a figurehead.

    Bahnfreund Reply:

    Well Wikipedia and decades of precedent say otherwise. What you call “head of state” is the “head of government”. Why is that so hard to grasp?

    Miles Bader Reply:

    It’s language, though, what really matters in the end is what term people actually use, not what Wikipedia says.

    I have no idea which is more common in this instance, but my guess is that John is probably right (not often I say that!)…

    Bahnfreund Reply:

    Well in terms related to politics, the law and government there are legal definitions to take into account. I mean if you define “country” the wrong way in the presence of China, you might spark World War III over Taiwan… errrrr…. Chinese Taipei.

    John Nachtigall Reply:

    its not hard to grasp at all. In Britian the queen is both the head of state and the head of government. The real government is “granted” her permission to run the country. In reality, she rubber stamps all decisions.

    So being from America, I dont give a crap about the niceties of European protocol. She is irrelevant to the process and a figurehead. Her biggest contribution to the economy is selling lots of gossip papers. May is the head of state and the head of the government. Its the same in Germany

    If you want to negotiate a treaty with German, do you call Merkel or Gauck? There is your answer.

    Bahnfreund Reply:

    May is the head of government, Elizabeth II is the head of state.

    Why would you need those two terms if they were the same in every instance?

    It does get a bit muddier with “semi-presidential” Republics like France. There both the President and parliament can (in theory) fire the prime minister of their own say-so.

    Eric M Reply:

    Merkel needs to go!!

    Bahnfreund Reply:

    You sound just like the PEGIDA marchers in Dresden…

    Eric M Reply:

    And you sound like the college students who need a safe zone with puppies with crayons because of the upset the election caused you.

    Eric M Reply:

    …puppies and crayons…

    Bahnfreund Reply:

    Donald Trump received less votes than Hillary Clinton. Donald Trump should not become the President.

    Eric M Reply:

    Yes he should. The United States is a republic and does not get run by 5 of the most populous states. Each state gets a voice and the people vote for electors in the electoral college, not direct voting.

    Trump won 29 states to Clinton’s 21.

    Bahnfreund Reply:

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/United_States_presidential_election,_1976 Gerald Ford won 27 states to Jimmy Carter’s 23. Carter won both the popular vote and the electoral college in that election.

    The electoral college was created by slave owners to protect their influence. It is stupid, outdated, unfair and undemocratic. It is high time the US got rid of it.

    And do you know who came out against the electoral college during the election night of 2012? Donald Trump.

    Eric M Reply:

    Contrary to what you might have heard, at the federal level, i.e. voting for president, we are NOT a democracy, we are a republic.

    You never answered my question before. Are you a US citizen and do you live here?

    Car(e)-Free LA Reply:

    If we went by the popular vote, each state would help determine the results because not all Californians vote for Clinton, and not a all north Dakotas vote for trump. No state would be an all or nothing deal each vote would be combined with every other from around the nation without going through the artificial filter that is the electoral college.

    Bahnfreund Reply:

    If you are in favor of the electoral college, you are ultimately opposed to democracy.

    Eric M Reply:

    @Bahnfreund, Instead of criticizing the United States system and how our republic is run, you should concentrate on your own country and quit rambling on and on how you think things need to be done here in the United States.

    Edward Reply:

    @Eric M
    I don’t know about your country, but in my country we defend the freedom of speech.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    Eric has freedom of speech too.

    Edward Reply:

    Undoubtedly. He would just like to deny it of others.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    Nobody has to heed what he had to say. That’s the way it works unless you are an entitled prick who thinks no one should disagree with you.

    Bahnfreund Reply:

    Well, I just hope that you, Eric, will never have your freedom of speech infringed.

    Eric M Reply:

    I wholeheartedly believe in freedom of speech, but what I do not like is a non-US citizen criticizing the way things are done in this country. I get some have opinions, but to ramble on and on as if they live here is another. Also, for one to now complain, but not in the recent past, about the electoral college because election didn’t go the way you wanted it is another. If you really wanted it changed, why no discussion in the last 4-8 years during the middle of a presidency? I didn’t go riot in the streets in past elections which did not go the way I voted. I accepted the system (including the electoral college) and the president who was elected. All 50 states should have a voice, not dominated by a few. The problem is people have been handing out participation trophies to their kids too long and now as they are older, they need safe places with puppies to cope when something does not go their way. Truly pathetic. And no, I do not vote party lines by how I am registered.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    You are free to ramble on all you want and he’s free to ask you to stop. That’s the way it works.

    Bahnfreund Reply:

    I doubt I ever received a participation trophy for anything. And if I did I perceived it as supremely worthless. Whatever it is that has a competitive element to it, I always wanted to win. And I always wanted the rules to be fair. To be quite honest I did not always rise up against unfair rules that benefited me, but nonetheless, I prefer winning the honest way.

    As for the electoral college, I was opposed to this BS before this election. However, it did not come up on this blog before and my screenname on this blog is not a screenname I use anywhere else. Trust me when I say that I also intensely criticize shit that goes down in my country of birth. I have probably been to more political rallies than you have, and some of them are of the “police gets in your face” type. I know what free speech means and I know what defending free speech means.

    The electoral college system does NOT ensure every state has a voice. If that were so, candidates would campaign in all states. They do not. They only campaign in a handful of swing states. The three largest states in the Union (Texas, California and New York state) are ignored by both parties in presidential elections. This is grossly undemocratic and unfair. Say what you want about the German system, but even in a failed state like Saxony, that is governed by the rightmost CDU in the country an SPD vote on the federal level counts and there will be SPD politicians campaigning. And yes, I know Saxony is currently governed by a grand coalition… Well, the few things about Saxon politics that don’t suck completely are the doing of the SPD. Unfortunately, the SPD has been much reduced in size in Saxony.

    swing hanger Reply:

    Why are some Americans so thin-skinned about criticism about their country coming from foreign sources? It’s as if their grandmother was being pilloried. One would think that true confidence in your country would make it easy to brush off any attacks, or even listen and engage.

    John Nachtigall Reply:

    Now before you wrap yourself in the warm cloak of freedom of speech, you did call for me and others to be banned from this forum. While legal, it certainly does not support the concept that everyone gets a say.

    You did (kinda) take it back so there is that.

    Feel free to opine away about America as far as I am concerned you dont get enough socialist German perspectives on US politics. Come to think of it, you dont really ever get socialist German perspectives on most subjects. :-)

    Bahnfreund Reply:

    Did I?

    Now my memory might have gotten faulty with age, but I only recall having asked for the banning of a certain link to a certain website. But I may well be mistaken.

    Eric M Reply:

    Why are some people not bright enough to distinguish pride from thin skinned

    swing hanger Reply:

    Please look at the difference between “pride” and “confidence”…

    John Nachtigall Reply:

    No. you wanted to ban me. Even made the argument it was legal because this is a private website. I don’t take it personal

    Eric M Reply:

    And yet nothing has been stated insinuating any lack of confidence. Directed criticism towards non-US citizens does not infer the lack there of…..smh

    swing hanger Reply:

    The nationality of the criticizing party is irrelevant- what should be questioned is the validity of the argument, not whether said person lives in in the US or holds citizenship.

    Miles Bader Reply:

    @Bahnfreund
    To be fair, the electoral college has been widely criticized since forever, it’s just that the process of getting rid of it is difficult and the payback not immediate enough to really get people enthusiastic. There have been several attempts to pass an amendment eliminating it which failed by narrow margins.

    The most interesting technique I’ve seen is a state-by-state “workaround” that doesn’t need a constitutional amendment, the “National Popular Vote effort”.

    [Since that story, I think NY state has joined as well.]

    John Nachtigall Reply:

    The state compact is not going to work for a lot of reasons

    1. It requires states to join against their best interests. Small states lose power. Since all the current states that have joined are democratic states, the traditional Red states like Texas would only be helping the other party.

    2. There is a circuit breaker that it does not get around. When they are counting the votes, the federal reps from that state can challenge the vote. So even if they had signed up, if they put in electoral college votes against the actual popular vote, the federal reps, who are not bound by state law, will challenge them and win because they didnt vote with the popular vote.

    It wont get off the ground, but if it did it would only cause a constitutional crisis. Just ammend the Constitution. You dont need a “hack” you need to change the actual law And if you cant find those votes to change it then guess what, follow the law. Your opinion on if it is good or not is not relevant.

    Edward Reply:

    The reason #1 you gave is the reason you can’t get a constitutional amendment. 3/4 of the states would have to vote for it. The advantage of the work around is that fewer than half of the states have to vote it into law. You only need enough states to equal 50% + 1 of the electoral college votes, a much easier task as *none* of the small states have to vote for it.

    As for #2, that will depend on the members of the supreme court at the time. Could be interesting. Does the popular vote of a particular state trump (no pun intended) that of the country as a whole?

    John Nachtigall Reply:

    What does easy have to do with it? If you cant get a constitutional amendment, then actually follow the constitution. Its an amazing concept. But tell me, which “large” states are going to join that have not already? Which battleground state is going to give up its status? Florida? Pennsylvania?

    As for #2, Federal law, especially the constitution ALWAYS trumps (no pun) state law. No SOCUS is going to bypass a specific procedure enshrined int he constitution. They are doing all this for nothing even if they do get the agreement.

    Finally, if a state switches party control, what do you think stops them from pulling out of the pack?

    You need a 50% +1 in 50% +1 of 3/4th of the states to pass the amendment. If you cant get that much of a minority of voters you should not do it.

    Bahnfreund Reply:

    The constitution explicitly gives states the right to name anybody to be their elector in any way they see fit. There are numerous laws punishing faithless electors, none of which have thus far been struck down to my knowledge. So the National Popular Vote Interstate Compact makes use of two rights the states explicitly have: Chose electors for president any way they damn well please (in theory, Wyoming could decide tomorrow to automatically appoint the Republican candidate, his wife and the Republican Veep candidate their electors – nothing in the constitution would allow any federal institution any say in that) and make compacts with other states. Legal precedent explicitly says that a compact that does not infringe upon federal power(s) does not need federal approval. And as we already established the states have the explicit constitutional right to chose their electors any way they please (including through hot dog eating competition).

    Also, while you are right that no “red state” has thus far passed NPV legislation (though several red states have passed such bills in at least one house of the legislature), your statement with regards to small states is wrong. Vermont for instance has passed the NPV bill even though Vermont is not only small, it is also rural.

    The current system means both parties will heavily campaign in a handful of swing states. This matters beyond the campaign as well. The president will pay way more attention to Ohio issues than to Louisiana issues. So the thing the electoral college prevents in the minds of its defenders (some states getting ignored) is the exact thing it ostensibly produces in the real world. You, Nachtigall, always denigrate the German parliamentary system and while it does have many downsides, the fact that any vote in any state is worth very close to the same thing (Don’t make me explain the details about Überhangmandate) means that big omnibus spending bills like the Bundesverkehrswegeplan are pretty spread out geographically and there are no “goodies” for “swing states”. Otherwise Bavaria and NRW would probably be ignored as the former is structurally a “safe” conservative state and the latter is structurally and historically a social democratic state. Even communist eater Franz Josef Strauß campaigned in NRW back in 1980 (when partisanship was at a peak in Germany) and even “Nordlicht” Helmut Schmidt campaigned in Bavaria, even though no social democrat can ever hope to gain a statewide majority in the state. Because a vote is a vote (apart from some exotic special cases that are a cause for a rewrite of the election laws).

    Edward Reply:

    Very well and clearly put.

    John Nachtigall Reply:

    You are right. The states have the right to pick electors. I read the wiki page also.

    But you ignored the other part of the section

    In the end, the House and Senate must agree on any changes made to the Electoral College vote during the in-person Electoral College voting that takes place on December 19 at 50 state capitals and in the District of Columbia. When the official vote certificates are opened by Congress on January 6, the Constitution allows challenges to “faithless electors” who switch their votes, as long as one member of the House and one member of the Senate agree on the same challenge. If a challenge is upheld, the faithless elector’s vote is discarded.

    http://blog.constitutioncenter.org/2016/11/why-there-will-likely-be-no-electoral-college-drama-on-december-19/

    Put simply, congress can throw out faithless electors. So they are free to vote for whomever, but congress is free (per the constitution) to throw them out. All perfectly legal per the constitution.

    Popular vote may be better than the electoral college. Get an amendment passed.

    Edward Reply:

    A “faithless elector” is one who does not vote as his state directs. If the state directs him or her to vote for the popularly elected president and they do not, then they are a “faithless elector”.

    Remember, the states have the right to choose their electors any way they wish.

    The example given in the link refers to the present election. Any elector choosing to vote in a manner opposed to that in which they were directed by the method of choosing electors in their state would be a “faithless elector”. This is exactly the same situation that would exist if a state directed their electors to vote for the candidate for president who had received the majority (or plurality) of the popular vote.

    John Nachtigall Reply:

    This has already happened.

    https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/United_States_presidential_election,_1876

    4 states votes were challenged. So even though the electors were sent by the states, congress challenged them. It lead to the 1877 compromise which is an up under appreciated low point in US history. What could have been if reconstruction had continued and how much racial injustice could have been avoided?

    Just amend the constitution. Why do an end around if you are so sure most people want it. It takes a minority of voters, they just need to be widely dispersed.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    Because those are the rules. If everybody is supposed to shut up and sit down because those are the rules, when it puts Donald Trump in the White House, sit down and shut up when other people want to use the same rules.

    Joe Reply:

    Election of 1876 is widely recognized as the end of reconstruction and beginning of “Jim Crow” era.

    Edward Reply:

    The link Mr. Nachtigall provided was most interesting. The subject under discussion had a footnoted reference to: Andrews, E. Benjamin (1912). History of the United States. Charles Scribner’s Sons. I happen to own all six volumes of the 1922 edition. Hereinbelow (always wanted to use that word) is the relevant excerpt:

    “All agreed that provision must be made against such peril in the future; but it was not till late in 1886 that Congress could agree upon the necessary measure. The Electoral Count Bill was then passed, and signed by the President on February 3, 1887. It aims to throw upon each State, so far as possible, the responsibility of determining how its own presidential vote has been cast It provides that the President of the Senate shall open the electoral certificates in the presence of both houses, and hand them to the tellers, two from each house, who are to read them aloud and record the votes.

    If there has been no dispute as to the list of electors from a State, such list, where certified in due form, is to be accepted as a matter of course. In case of dispute, the procedure is as follows: If but one set of returns appears and this is authenticated by a state electoral tribunal constituted to settle the dispute, such returns shall be conclusive. If there are two or more sets of returns, the set approved by the state tribunal shall be accepted. If there are two rival tribunals, the vote of the State shall be thrown out, unless both houses, acting separately, agree upon the lawfulness of one tribunal or the other. If there has been no decision by a tribunal, those votes shall be counted which both houses acting separately, decide to be lawful. If the houses disagree, the votes certified to by the governor shall be accepted.”

    As the parties no longer determine which lists of electors are valid (we have whole departments to do that before, during and after the election), much of the above is now moot. If you read about the amazing amount of corruption in the 1876 election (described in the link referenced above) you can see why Congress didn’t want to have anything to do with determining valid electors if they could avoid it, which they couldn’t completely do then, but have no difficulty doing now.

    And now to put volume IV back on the shelf.

    Bahnfreund Reply:

    While Reconstruction is one of the big missed chances in US history and while the election of 1876 does mark the customary end-point, the Democrat being put in the White House would likely not have done anything to aid racial justice. In fact, there would have been a man in the White House who would have shared a party with the Southern White Racists. I don’t know how the stance of the 1876 Democratic candidate was on a variety of issues, but I seem to be able to guess his stance on reconstruction.

    I think Reconstruction could have had more success if Andrew Johnson had never been put into the white house. There are three plausible ways by which this could have occurred a) the conspiracy to kill Lincoln (which included Seward and Johnson as intended victims) results in the death of Johnson b) Johnson does not cement the precedent set just 20 years earlier that the VP does indeed become President upon the death of the President [new elections might have been held in that case, but who knows?] c)Johnson would – for whatsoever reason – not have appeared on the ticket at all.

    I know that Johnson did some things to “create” the Radical Republicans (who in part arose in opposition to Johnson), but had someone less drunk and more enlightened occupied the White House in those first few critical years, there might have been “drastic” measures. Like reparations for slavery. Or expropriation of ill-gotten gains of slavery. Or disenfranchisement of people who openly supported secession. All of those ideas were floating around. But what happened instead was a toothless federal bureaucracy hampered by a President who hated everything it stood for and did. You do have to remember that once Grant took over the KKK was eliminated as a major force in an incredibly short time. The Democratic Party even failed to put up a candidate to oppose Grant’s reelection. (Instead he ran against a “liberal Republican” ticket whose head died between the popular and the electoral election – but that person still received electoral votes, disproving another stupid myth)

    And if indeed any number of weird shenanigans were to come to pass after the NPVIC passes, there is an easy way out: Enough states have to reject it again for it to drop below 270. Or you could introduce a constitutional amendment…

    John Nachtigall Reply:

    Edward, your whole argument boils down to “Well, 1976 was a crazy time, that wont happen now”. Bonus points for owning 6 volumes of US history on paper.

    Which I agree with, as long as the states actually follow the vote in the states. But if they sign the compact and dont, well then all bets are off.

    My whole point is that this whole workaround is just a recipe for disaster. It leads to all kinds of uncertainty and court cases and power plays and disagreements. That is no way to run a country.

    PASS AN AMENDMENT IF YOU WANT TO CHANGE THE CONSTITUTION!!

    This is the leader of the most powerful country in the world we are electing, there is no way there should be uncertainty. Which is one reason why, by the way, the electoral college was used, because accounting for several hundred votes is much easier than millions.

    And we can all agree reconstruction was booted in a major way that had repercussions that last until today.

    Paul Dyson Reply:

    Would someone volunteer to set up a government and elections blog? There’s a lot going on in the railroad business more pertinent to the announced subject of this blog, and it would be awfully nice if we could stick to those topics.

    Edward Reply:

    Paul I suppose it comes from being a teacher and trying every which way to get it into the mind of a student that just can’t…

    And my check is in the mail.

    But I really do need to get back to useful work. I have schematics and a PCB to update. So to all, Peace.

    Jerry Reply:

    puppies and crayons….
    For some reason that phrase tickles me. In a ‘safe zone’ ?
    Is it OK to color outside the lines inside a ‘safe zone’? Or does that require a much safer, ‘safe zone’ ?
    Who cleans up after the puppies in the ‘safe zone’ ?
    Or do the college students who need such ‘safe zones’, make someone else clean up the puppies mess? Do the puppies get a ‘safe zone’ of their own?
    Gee. Life gets complicated.
    PS Is ‘happy hour’ considered a ‘safe zone’ ??

    Bahnfreund Reply:

    By the way, after Pence got – not even criticism – from the people who perform the play “Hamilton” Trump called for theaters to be “safe places”

    Which is ironic coming from someone from what used to be the party of Lincoln.

    Jerry Reply:

    Other than that Mrs. Lincoln, how did you like the play?

    Bahnfreund Reply:

    Oldie but goldie.

    Car(e)-Free LA Reply:

    Does Dresden have facist tendencies? What is the political geography of Germany?

    Bahnfreund Reply:

    Dresden has Pegida (just google it). In general the South is / used to be conservative, the West is / used to be social democratic and the big cities are / used to be green voting. Saxony as a state is probably the most right leaning in the nation and Dresden is one of very few cities of half a million or more people with a right wing mayor.

    Saxony also recently replaced an openly fascist caucus (the NPD) in its state parliament with an AfD caucus double the size.

    Car(e)-Free LA Reply:

    Why is this the case?

    Bahnfreund Reply:

    Several reasons. For one, Saxony entirely forgot its “red” tradition from the Weimar era (there was a SPD-KPD state government for a fraction of a historical moment in Saxony before the Reichspräsident shut it down). For another thing, Kurt Biedenkopf (CDU) the first post reunification prime minister of Saxony was/is very popular and said stuff like “Saxony is immune to fascism”. Then there are the general eastern problems of factories shutting down due to reunification. Saxony also has a very low population of foreigners, which just like in the US leads to more xenophobia. Then there is a rather active openly fascist minority that has found its focal point in manifestations in Dresden on February 13 (the anniversary of the bombing) to which neither city nor state government found a good answer for years. The Saxon police also has a blind right eye and there have been ridiculous penalties handed down for anti-fascists in the past. Pegida might have been founded in Dresden by chance, but it is not chance that Dresden was the only city to embrace Pegida (numerous other cities had attempts at their own Pegida movement run out of steam rather fast).

    The thing is: There is a very broad consensus in Saxony that lies on the rightmost edge of conservatism and this consensus includes seeing a bigger danger from the political left than from the political right. Dresden itself is also an abnormally large city by surface area because it annexed a bunch of suburbs in the early 1990s artificially diluting the leftist vote from boroughs closer to the city center.

    Aarond Reply:

    I’d just like to pop in and say whining about Merkel is pointless because no matter what happens she’ll be in office through 2025 at the very least. Such is how coalition governments work.

    The larger question is France, because if the next government there is a repeat of Hollande then the Fifth Republic will be scrapped and replaced. Which would be hugely symbolic, as the Fifth Republic was notable for the end of French Colonialism and the rise of the EEC/EU.

    Bahnfreund Reply:

    Coalition governments are rather susceptible to breaking down via internal party revolt. Germany is actually the odd one out in that being rarer than elsewhere. But even in Germany the fall of Adenauer, Brandt, Schmidt and Ehrhard were at least in part due to either their own party or the FDP (the coalition partner in [almost] all governments up until 1998) had enough of them. Merkel could well fall over opposition from the CSU and/or losing a straightforward majority with the SPD. If a grand coalition has no majority on the federal level any more, who knows what will happen.

    Aarond Reply:

    Merkel will always find 51%, leftist parties consider her a lesser evil than AfD. The latter would have to break 51% to get power, a thing not even Hitler could achieve.

    France is the larger problem, because if the next government doesn’t fix it’s image then the military will step in and create a new one. Which is when anything can happen such as a FRexit or a migrant crackdown.

    Bahnfreund Reply:

    What do you think Merkel can do if she is replaced by a coup within her own party putting someone on the helm who wants to form a coalition with the AfD? Currently the only reason Merkel leads the CDU is that they know damn well she is their best guarantee to power. But what if they think they can get more of whatever it is they want with someone who is not Merkel and tying themselves to the AfD?

    Aarond Reply:

    AfD wants an EU referendum which if successful would destroy everything the CDU and SPD have thus worked for since their creation. Merkel will remain Chancellor because there isn’t an alternative.

    Bahnfreund Reply:

    There cannot be a federal referendum according to the German constitution. Changing the constitution requires a two thirds majority of the Bundestag and a two thirds majority of the Bundesrat. The Bundesrat is bound to vote the way the state governments tell them to.

    Even if the AfD were to finagle their way into a two thirds majority of the Bundestag in their favor, I doubt that any constitutional change they propose could get through the Bundesrat.

    But I have learned in the last few years that “never” is a dangerous word in politics.

    I just think that France going haywire is more likely.

    Aarond Reply:

    The thing is, AfD would try. Normally this might not have had any affect but if the EU were to enter a crisis, say Greece needing another bailout, then they’d likely vote against action which would trigger an unrecoverable financial meltdown.

    Admittedly, that’s just a conspiracy theory but I think the fear of such a situation is great enough to keep Merkel in power for quite a while.

    Bahnfreund Reply:

    Merkel likes to use the word “alternativlos”. Ironically it is precisely that word that keeps a shaky coalition of pretty much everybody to her political left in place. I always thought I would live under a Volksfront government of some sort during my lifetime. I just did not think it would be led by Angela Merkel…

    Of course formally speaking the Green Party and the Left Party are in opposition to the grand coalition, but let’s not kid ourselves: They would support Merkel over the AfD in a heartbeat.

    John Nachtigall Reply:

    The Netherlands are the next country to fall in Europe

    http://www.wsj.com/articles/the-eus-new-bomb-is-ticking-in-the-netherlands-1479668148

    Bahnfreund Reply:

    Let’s hope not.

    John Nachtigall Reply:

    Being completely serious. The EU needs to get its act together. Not kidding, they are blowing it

    Car(e)-Free LA Reply:

    The EU doesn’t have enough power. That’s the real problem.

    Bahnfreund Reply:

    It is one part of the problem. Another is the EU constitution that gives member states and their governments too much influence. The EU should instead have the current Parliament as the Upper House, a directly elected President, a proportional lower House and a clear definition which powers fall upon the Union and which fall upon the states.

  35. Reality Check
    Nov 22nd, 2016 at 16:50
    #35

    ‘Who knows if Trump is even aware that he has a Secretary of Transportation?’

    Former Reason Foundation analyst Shirley Ybarra is the Trump transition team member tasked with finding the new Sec/Trans, and there’s talk that she may be a candidate for the job herself. James S. Simpson, who ran New Jersey’s Department of Transportation under Chris Christie and calls himself a “transportation nut,” may get a look-see, but after Christie was banished from Trump’s inner-circle, Simpson may fall from favor.

    Mark Rosenker, a retired Air Force major general who chaired the National Transportation Safety Board eight years ago, also is mentioned in the mill. And John L. Mica, who spent his college summers spraying defoliant along the nation’s railways, has been using the Florida media as a bullhorn to promote his candidacy for the top USDOT job.

    Mica lost his re-election bid last week for a House seat he’d held since 1992. In more than two decades on Capitol Hill, he never was more happy that during the two years he served as chairman of the transportation committee, when he regularly denounced Amtrak as a “Soviet-style” operation, condemned the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) and sought to privatize it, and began the effort to put the air traffic control system in private hands as well.

    Jerry Reply:

    If Mica sprayed defoliant, and if the defoliant is anything like agent ORANGE, well I think Mica’s a shoe in for the position.

    Aarond Reply:

    My gut says Rosenker since he’s the type of “stable” person Trump is clearly trying to vet.

  36. morris brown
    Nov 22nd, 2016 at 19:05
    #36

    Dan Wlaters:Carbon auction perks up but could stumble again

    Joe Reply:

    “I was wrong but maybe right another day” Walters.

    Jerry Reply:

    “Brown wanted to include reauthorization in legislation setting new carbon emission standards for 2030 and beyond, but could not assemble a two-thirds legislative vote.
    He will try again next year, when the Legislature will have more Democrats. If that fails, he may place the issue on the 2018 ballot as he exits his second governorship.”
    Interesting.

    Aarond Reply:

    OT:

    If the Democrats obtain a 2/3rds majority I wonder if Brown will push pension reform again. Who could stop him? Current unfunded liabilities top a Trillion dollars and the majority of those dollars go towards Union teachers (think Prop 98) who are redundant thanks to the Common Core (which was not law six years ago during Brown’s first push). Same for Newsom.

    StevieB Reply:

    Dan Walters @WaltersBee — “Best bacon was sugar-cured and hickory smoked bacon I helped my uncle, a country butcher, make in Ozarks in 1950s. First you kill a hog.”

    StevieB Reply:

    Dan Walters @WaltersBee — “That’s why I will be putting a pound of bacon in my green bean casserole for T-day.”

  37. Roger Christensen
    Nov 23rd, 2016 at 00:06
    #37

    Metro’s Measure M now at 70.11% approval.

  38. les
    Nov 23rd, 2016 at 06:34
    #38

    First it was 10 billion, then it was 12 and now:
    “Central Texas Railway plans to raise around $15 billion from entirely private sources with no tax support and have se”rvice running by 2022.”

    http://www.nbcdfw.com/news/local/Dallas-leaders-ride-bullet-train-neighbors-question-benefits-402539145.html

    Bahnfreund Reply:

    Who ever said the private sector can’t have cost overruns?

  39. Roland
    Nov 23rd, 2016 at 11:06
    #39
  40. Bahnfreund
    Nov 24th, 2016 at 13:50
    #40

    Happy Thanksgiving to y’all. Don’t argue politics over turkey. Argue Football instead. And to the Cowboys and Richmond Racists (hey, I am honoring George Preston Marshall): May they both lose.

    John Nachtigall Reply:

    Happy thanksgiving.

  41. Aarond
    Nov 25th, 2016 at 18:37
    #41

    In Michegan-related news, the RTA ballot measure there failed which means their plans went up in smoke. I don’t think it’s a particularly bad thing though, given that the plan itself was extremely bus-focused and didn’t do much for rail. Also the most touted feature of the new system was that the priortized signalling for BRT routes would also give priority to car traffic (the implication being that major roads would effectively become expressways).

    I hope they opt for a more commuter-rail focused system which is a thing other counties there (Macomb, Oakland, Genesse, etc) would vote for because it’d be more tailored to them. Such a proposal exists at fwrail.org

    Meanwhile MIDOT is still putting money into better Wolverine service and Semcog rail is still moving towards existing.

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