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Town Square

High Speed Rail: What a Boondoggle, Volume 1

Original post made by Paul Losch, a resident of Palo Alto, on May 30, 2009

I have learned in my professional life is to ask what are the objectives a certain concept or idea is meeting. It is important to get some agreement about objectives before coming up with approaches that may meet those objectives.

When it comes to the High Speed Rail Project, the objectives are not right, which means the approach should not even be on the table.

Before you get to objectives, you need to identify the actual problem. Just what problem is the High Speed Rail solving? And just as importantly in these times of scarce resources for public funding of infrastructure, what problems are not getting solved that could benefit from the types of funding that the HSR initiative is getting?

Here is the problem as I see it: most people in California take local trips for work or personal reasons via car. Not something that will ever go away entirely. But take my case, I live here in PA and work in Fremont. There is no feasible way for me to go to work in a reasonable amount of time with the existing local public transit infrastructure. How many people like me would benefit from more local transit improvements compared to the number of people that would use High Speed Rail to get between Northern and Southern California?

Which is the bigger problem?

I would consider taking an HSR train trip if it ended at a place where I could get to my ultimate Southern California destination. If I am headed to Anaheim, and the HSR terminal in somewhere near downtown LA, I will continue to fly to John Wayne Airport. HSR does not address my North/South problem. Southwest Airlines does.

Bottom line: the funds being allocated to High Speed Rail would be better allocated and provide greater benefit if they were instead used to improve local transit in areas with terrible auto traffic problems. A bigger problem would be getting solved, with objectives that are clearer than what have been posited by HSR advocates.

The HSR funds are getting applied to the wrong problem. Which leads to setting the wrong objectives, and ultimately the wrong strategy. Local transit that reduces local transportation problems need the sort of funding HSR is supposed to get. Who will join me in setting the right objectives to solve the right problems?

I will have other blogs about why I perceive the High Speed Rail initiative to be a bad idea. I will make a point of addressing aspects of it that are not part of other postings on PA Online, such as the impact on Peninsula cities. My next one will focus on the economics and purported benefits of the project. This blog was intended to point out that such huge expenditures could be better directed to local transit initiatives.

Assuming the money is actually there. But that is another blog.

Comments

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Posted by Sean
a resident of Midtown
on May 30, 2009 at 10:34 am

Paul,

Thank you for taking on this issue in a critical way. It sounds like you want to make a serious critique of HSR.

One issues I have always wondered about is the claim that HSR is "greener" than automobile travel. I have heard some dissent on this point. The basic argument is that HSR runs on electricity that is generated by non-green power plants. Burning coal to generate electrcity does not seem green to me. Also there are electical resistance line loses. Trains are heavy on a per passenger basis, etc. In the end, does HSR produce more or less CO2 in transporting people, compared to automobiles? Do you have any analytical understanding of this issue?


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Posted by Paul Losch
a resident of Palo Alto
on May 30, 2009 at 10:44 am

Paul Losch is a registered user.

Sean,

Thanks for your query. I like to practice "green" persoanlly as much as I can, but have no expertise on a technical or policy level around the sort of questions you are posing.

You are pointing out yet another aspect of HSR that needs to be addressed. I hope such an operation would reduce emissions, but you point out that it is not necessarily so. Perhaps some others who follow these postings can provide some insights.


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Posted by Walter_E_Wallis
a resident of Midtown
on May 30, 2009 at 12:22 pm

Walter_E_Wallis is a registered user.

WE are talking about upgrading an existing facility, not creating a new one. Since it is unlikely we will discontinue operations and sell off the right of way, the wisdom of having that R-O-W is a sunk cost. I would hope that the project would lend itself to an incremental approach and not get carried away with the glitzy "Space Age" planning that saw BART reject all the lessons of conventional railroading and embrace novelty for novelty's sake. BARTs single major defect was the failure to accommodate express.
We need the elimination of grade crossings for safety's sake, and electrification will bring benefits even to present usages. If the electricity is generated with coal, far better that the emissions occur in some sparse desert rather than in Palo Alto. I suspect that the energy requirement per passenger might be less than flying, and again the emissions wold be either at some desert plant or, ideally, absent because it was nuclear generated.


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Posted by Sean
a resident of Midtown
on May 30, 2009 at 2:44 pm

Walter,

Yes, if it was nuclear electric power generation, I could understand, like in France. However, it is largely coal, and that generates CO2, no matter where it is produced. Also, displacing our local hydrocarbon emmisions to some Indian reservations in the desert is not my idea of fair play.

HSR was advertised as a "green" enterprise. I am not asking for a comparison between trains and planes. I am asking for a comparison between automobiles and trains. Since automobiles seem to be moving in the direction of hybrids or entirely electric, there surely must be some engineering data that can compare and contrast the two. I simply cannot believe that this issue has not been addressed, in detail, by the proponents and opponents of HSR.

Sometimes we get caught up in the battle of the tress over the forest. I think the issue of the local "Berlin wall" issues are secondary to the primary issue of whether HSR is truly green, and thus worthwhile in the first place.


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Posted by stephen levy
a resident of University South
on May 30, 2009 at 3:14 pm

stephen levy is a registered user.

Paul,

I voted against the HSR bonds. Part of my thinking WAS that the money could be better spent.

However, the major reason for HSR is not about reducing auto pollution. Remember that the HSR was first designed and studied in the late 1990s well before global climate change became an issue.

The major problem HSR was intended to address was airline capacity and air travel time when we thought capacity constraints at the major airports in California would crimp the anticipated growth in air travel. It was thought to be expensive, environmentally bad and politically impossible to plan for the needed airport expansions, particularly in the southern part of the state.

So one of the reasons to reevaluate HSR now is to see if the air travel assumptions still make sense.

It is your column and you can use the word boondoggle if you wish but remember that HSR proceeds only becasue a majority (narrow) of voting Californians approved a ballot initiative. This is not done TO US but BY US, which is not the usual situation for calling something a boondoggle as opposed to a poor decision.


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Posted by Jaime
a resident of another community
on May 30, 2009 at 3:28 pm

obviously HSR won't help Every living person, but many more will be using the train. HSR isnt meant solely for cross state travel, it will help many people get to work faster. Obviously it wont help some, but for many the benefits can clearly be seen.

Also, Paul Losch, if you wanted to go to Anaheim, you would take the train ALL the way to anaheim, the train isn't stopping in LA it will have a station in Anaheim. Plus, John Wayne Airport is in not in Anaheim so Southwest Airlines isnt the solution, HSR would do a much better job.


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Posted by Jim H.
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on May 30, 2009 at 4:57 pm

Walter,
This is not an upgrade, it is a new system, some of which will use an existing ROW.

Can you show me where the existing tracks are over the Pacheco Pass? How is that an existing facility?

Please tell me how to get from SJ to Fresno via rail.

This is a huge waste of money. Projections will not be met, travel times will be longer than advertised and the "green" factor will prove to be minimal given the advances in fuel efficiencies in recent years.

Airline travel is down, Amtrak is heavily subsidized, Caltrain runs at a deficit.

Our schools are continually sinking down the list of performance, state parks are going to be closed, our taxes are some of the highest in the country and we want to spend $60+Billion dollars to build a train track to get us up an down the state all of a couple hours faster than we can currently.

Why is this still even being discussed?


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Posted by PAarrogance
a resident of East Palo Alto
on May 30, 2009 at 5:47 pm

maby you dont want HSR but the fact it was voted on and passed means nothing to you I guess. PLEASE stop making up facts that are your opinion as the reason this is a "boondoggie" you can drive your car and fly if you wish. The ones of us(THE MAJORTY) voted to construct HSR want this project built.


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Posted by Roger
a resident of another community
on May 30, 2009 at 6:15 pm

High Speed Rail is intended as a form of regional transportation. You will never take it to work (except maybe a business trip to a neighboring city) or across the country. The primary benefit is less congestion at airports.

People forget that the United States is not Europe or Japan. Most of those countries are no larger than our individual states. We are a vast country that needs more than regional transportation.

While portions of the country would certainly benefit from HSR (such as the NYC to DC corridor), the fact is that the most bang for the buck would come from improved mass transit at the local level. That has the potential to take millions of cars off the road each day and improve quality of life for everyone.


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Posted by Douglas Moran
a resident of Barron Park
on May 30, 2009 at 6:24 pm

Douglas Moran is a registered user.

I attended two of the earliest meetings on HSR (many years ago) intrigued by it as an alternative to the very expensive expansion of the airports (expensive both fiscally and to the environment).

The claim was that there was a tremendous amount of travel between SF/SJC and LAX and that HSR could be self-supporting based upon taking over that traffic (similar or better door-to-door times, roomier, cheaper tickets). I asked a question about these projections and the answer showed they were only handwaving.

Furthermore, the leading advocate was Rod Diridon and he seemed to have learned absolutely nothing from the many misjudgments and problem of light rail in SJ.

At those meetings, residents along the Caltrain right-of-way expressed concerns/opposition to the impact of the route, but unsurprisingly Diridon waved them off. Apparently, that community memory was lost over the years since.

Echoing an above comment about our having done this to ourselves, I tried to convince various friends to vote against HSR, but failed. They saw it as a neat idea and green. Its a problem for a democracy when voters are unwilling to go even a little past the slogans and think about the details (such as adding debt when the state is running a huge deficit with a government incapable of dealing with it). Its a problem for a _representative_ democracy when our representatives put a bond measure on the ballot and only after it has passed look into its feasibility. A month or so ago, Sacramento suddenly discovered that the HSR organization had not pursued an adequate analysis and also lacked the project management capabilities to proceed.

As for those who think HSR is necessarily green, look at its promotional video and see how they predict that the cities in the Central Valley expand.


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Posted by jim
a resident of another community
on May 30, 2009 at 8:15 pm

What a ridiculous premise. The HSR is a statewide transportation project to make high speed trains an integral part of the statewide transportation system along with freeways, ports, the existing division of rail, and airports. Local transportation is an issue for local governments, cities and counties. They aren't the same thing and they don't have the same goals. The people who voted for HSR didn't vote for it because they want to go from Palo Alto to Fremont. HSR is a state infrastructure project to bring the state's passenger rail up to par. This article is just a bunch of gobbledygook.


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Posted by Sean
a resident of Midtown
on May 30, 2009 at 8:29 pm

Prop 1A, passed last November, authorized over $9B to begin the project. Have these bonds been sold by the state treasurer? What is the interest rate? Isn't it true that the general fund is on the hook for the interest on those bonds? Isn't it also true that the authorized bonds, if sold, will only cover about 20% of the entire projected cost of the system? If the state legislature does not agree to pay for the remaining 80% plus the interest on the 20%, how will this project get completed?


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Posted by sharon
a resident of Midtown
on May 30, 2009 at 8:42 pm


This topic has been flogged to death on at least 6 threads in the past few months.
It does not make economic sense.

Few people would use it, it is a boondoggle solution in search of a problem that does not exist.

The taxpayers would have to subsidize it.

The people who came up with the proposal have a history of gross incompetence in public transportation.

The people of California will vote for an initiative to strangle it in the cradle.

California has run out of money for current essential services and will not fund this boondoggle.

It is a 19 century solution to 21 century issues, Cisco has better ideas.

Apart from that feel free to dream on and blog on about a project that is dead, rotting-- not yet buried and stinks to high heaven- apparently


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Posted by Spokker
a resident of another community
on May 30, 2009 at 9:35 pm

"If the state legislature does not agree to pay for the remaining 80% plus the interest on the 20%, how will this project get completed?"

It doesn't. The project is contingent on getting federal and private money and it has been that way for as long as I can remember. Right now the focus is on getting federal funds, from the looks of it.

"It does not make economic sense."

Economics can be very subjective. Ask a hundred economists the same question and you might just get 80 different answers and 20 guys who say "do nothing." Those are the little Milton Friedman's running around.

"Few people would use it, it is a boondoggle solution in search of a problem that does not exist."

Many people would use it because many people already ride our crappy rail systems in great numbers. There are several problems that it aims to help solve, but not solve on its own. There is no magic bullet for any of the problems HSR attempts to alleviate.

"The taxpayers would have to subsidize it."

Much like highways, capital costs will probably be subsidized. Unlike highways, high speed rail has a history of paying for its operations. Ask the Texas DOT how good highways are at paying for themselves.

"The people who came up with the proposal have a history of gross incompetence in public transportation."

The country itself has a history of incompetence in public transportation. I don't blame them for scoring par. One of the goals for the national high speed rail plan is to correct the mistakes of the past, I hope.

"The people of California will vote for an initiative to strangle it in the cradle."

And then they'll vote to authorize the bonds again. Then they'll change their minds 12 more times. Then they'll vote that it can't marry other trains.

"California has run out of money for current essential services and will not fund this boondoggle."

California needs budget reform, not ending infrastructure projects. Spending in California has pretty much risen hand in hand with population growth and inflation according to the legislative analyst's office. Why didn't tax revenue grow with it? That's the problem we should be looking at.

When it comes to spending, we should be looking at repealing the three-strikes law, letting non-violent drug offenders go, for example, so that they can get treatment for their problems. Legalize marijuana, to give another example. When it comes to spending, we love to spend on prisons.

"It is a 19 century solution to 21 century issues, Cisco has better ideas."

When was the wheel invented? Didn't the Romans invent concrete? Reinforced concrete was first used in France in 1853.

If Cisco is so great, why are highways continuing to be constructed and widened?


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Posted by Sharon
a resident of Midtown
on May 30, 2009 at 9:51 pm



So you are claiming that the Romans invented cars that produce 95% less pollutants than 30yrs ago, and will continue to greatly increase their fuel efficiency?
Planes have increased their fuel efficiency by 70% in the last 30 years, new plans are even much more efficient and they are bringing much less polluting fuels on line, don't you you read the the WSJ? maybe you read old papyrus texts instead.
Have you seen Cisco's Telepresence solutions? well they were not around in Napolean's time for sure.
The proponents of HSR are living in the past, get a computer with internet access for these Luddites.
5


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Posted by jim
a resident of another community
on May 30, 2009 at 11:07 pm

Sharon, the Roman's cars got horrible gas mileage but it had more to do with the bad roads than the Roman Auto Worker's shortcomings. As for Telepresence.. unless they are close to a workable transporter beam, it doesn't so anyone any good. Telepresence? Are you kidding me? I'm not going to Disneyland this year because now I can watch it on TV. Nice.


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Posted by jim
a resident of another community
on May 30, 2009 at 11:29 pm

One minute its "we voted for it but we didn't know anything about it" then the next minute its " we aren't against it we just want a tunnel" then its " We don't want a tunnel we want it on the 101" then its "we don't want to kill the project, we just want it "done right" (not in my back yard) Then suddenly the entire project should be re routed because you are concerned about the route making the project unsuccessful. Then suddenly theporject has no merits and is just a "boondoggle" Who's running that town, Sybil?


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Posted by Spokker
a resident of another community
on May 31, 2009 at 12:13 am

Sharon, trains have made similar technological gains in countries in Europe and Asia. These nations also have cars and planes as well as populations that do more biking and walking than the average American. The mode of transportation that complements all these modes of transportation is the train.


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Posted by john-pierre
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on May 31, 2009 at 8:55 am

You just want to sell some papers. We need this project. I travel very often to Fresno and Los Angeles. It takes me six hours to get to where I wan to be in LA and I am tired of being treated like sheep at the airports and people with guns asking to take my shoes and garments off, packed like sardines, just to get somewhere. This is the future of travel in the USA, so get over it.


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Posted by Sharon
a resident of Midtown
on May 31, 2009 at 9:24 am


We do not need this boondoggle, some individuals may want it for their own personal pleasure or ideology and want to build it with Other Peoples Money.

I do not know which airport you are referring to, but TAS at the gates do not carry guns in the USA,
maybe you are thinking of some national socialist or communist countries where people are forced on to trains.

I also fly regularly to LA, it costs $49 one way.
HSR would cost 10 times that and still have to be subsidized heavily by tax payers

We have now purchased a Cisco Telepresence system that will enable us to cut business travel for meetings by 50 to 75%.
The costs of such technology is declining rapidly.

HSR is a 19C solution to a 21C issue and it aint going to happen

" This dog don't hunt"


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Posted by PAarrogance
a resident of East Palo Alto
on May 31, 2009 at 9:56 am

Once again the "REAL PALO ALTO" shows it true colors...I dont need it I can fly ..I have my car ..I ,I ,I ME ME ME and what now ITS a socialist IDEA!!! GEE just like SSI or MediCARE?


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Posted by Walter_E_Wallis
a resident of Midtown
on May 31, 2009 at 10:34 am

Walter_E_Wallis is a registered user.

O.K. You all have convinced me. Upgrade CalTrain to no grade crossings, electrify and improve material handling, then incrementally upgrade the Coast Line to San Diego. Do the same with the valley line. Give Indian reservations power plant jobs and they might decide a little haze is better than a welfare check. Let them decide - white man's decisions about red man's best interests have not always been the best deal.
Then - declare the rails a public right of way, allowing anyone to, within limits of safety and capacity, haul anything that yields a profit, for an access charge that maintain. As with airlines, the marketplace will sort them out.
The railroad corridor would also be a good route for the new required electrical transmission corridors, to better harvest juice from coastal wind farms and nukes.


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Posted by Jared
a resident of Mountain View
on May 31, 2009 at 12:11 pm

Paul,

Thank you for pointing out the significant problem of minimal local transportation. However, it's not quite fair to argue that this is a bigger problem to you, thus money should be spent on it as opposed to some other problem, even if it is transportation related. I agree with you that a lack of good bus/local train/subway/light rail is a huge problem, but it's completely separate from the HSR issue. You could use the same argument about not funding any interstate highways or airport expansion/maintance. If you check the HSRA website, you'll find info on what motivated the HSR concept.

As I've seen the HSRA explain it before the Nov. election, the purpose of HSR is to deal with CA's growing intercity transportation problems. First, the airports are getting more crowded and there are absurd #'s of short haul flights between the bay area and LA area. Last time I was at SJC Terminal A, it seemed like ~1/3 of all flights were going to the LA area or coming from there. In addition, central valley cities that would be served by the HSR are projected to grow a lot over the next 20 years, yet have very little air service right now. HSR is supposed to be an alternative to the state building Fresno International. Second, it's projected that traffic on I-5 will require a significant widening of that freeway between the bay area and LA at huge cost. All in all, the projected airport and highway expansion costs are expected to be $80 billion dollars! However, HSR can solve many (probably not all) of the traffic problems for less money, even at the $40 billion price tag. Plus, there should be added benefits like more reliable service (no traffic jams or airport weather/conjestion delays) at similar to lower cost than flying. (Those $49 flights really cost $60 each way, and aren't always available. Plus, HSR destinations will probably be more convenient to more people than the airport locations).

As for the issue of carbon footprint, that can require a very complex analysis to really understand what's better. However, it's my simplistic understanding that it's generally accepted that cars and trains are significantly more green (~1/2 the carbon/passenger mile) than air travel for short haul flights, even with the efficiency gains over the last 30 years. Future gains in the new 787 are expected to be 10-15%, and remember these planes can last 20+ years in service. It'll be a long time before they catch up to trains in efficiency.

-Jared


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Posted by Sean
a resident of Midtown
on May 31, 2009 at 1:11 pm

A couple of other issues, rarely discussed are:

- Redundancy. If a HSR bridge is washed out (or blown up) the train stops, until the repair is made. The road system allows detours and side roads that allow the automobile traffic to get through, and to its specific destination.

- Security. Why wouldn't HSR rail need to have the same secuirty procedures as airplane travel? It looks like a very soft target for terrorists, both within the train and outside the train (think about tunnels and bridges). Will it take a major attack, before proper security procedures, i.e. airport type procedures, are put in place? I do not see any reason to differentiate between security dwell times and procedures at train stations and airports. Additionally, the track itself will need to be constantly monitored. Have these security procedure been factored into the operation costs?


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Posted by wary traveler
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on May 31, 2009 at 1:15 pm

Jared, keep in mind that short-haul flights include domestic and international connections to destinations other than LAX. Bay Area passengers are unlikely to combine a high-speed train connection to LAX. The air traffic for LAX connections will continue, with or without HSR.

Thank you, Paul Losch, for writing about HSR in a way that finally gets to the root of the HSR problem, and for initiating an intelligent dialog that probes the HSR issues beyond implementation specifics. You've managed to bring Walter around, not a small feat!


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Posted by Bianca
a resident of Menlo Park
on May 31, 2009 at 2:15 pm

wary traveler,

That may be a fair point about LAX, but there are a lot of short-haul flights between the Bay Area and the LA area that don't involve LAX. I don't know how many people fly to Burbank, Ontario, or John Wayne in order to transfer to an international flight. It is enormously wasteful to expend the fuel to put a 737 five miles up in the sky only to land it again 250 miles later. It may cost $49 now, but the next time the price of oil is at $150/barrel, it will cost a lot more than that.

The other point is that this isn't just about connecting the Bay Area to the LA area, but connecting all of California. To give people in Fresno an alternative to driving all the way up to San Francisco. People visiting Stanford from all over the state would have a better alternative to driving or flying. It's not just San Francisco and Los Angeles, it's all the places in between that will be served also.

HSR doesn't need the same level of security that airplanes do. I've ridden the Shinkansen in Japan and they don't subject people to security theater there. And remember that Japan has a tragic history of terrorism in the subways, so they aren't cavalier about security. Trains can't be hijacked and turned into flying missiles like airplanes can. And if you are going to impose security theater on HSR and not impose it on Caltrain, what sense is there in that?


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Posted by OhlonePar
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on May 31, 2009 at 2:18 pm

Sean, I'd say the main difference between rail and air in terms of security is that you can change course in a plane and fly into buildings. You can't jump the rails in a train and go whereever you please.

In that sense, rail is much safer than air.


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Posted by Sharon
a resident of Midtown
on May 31, 2009 at 2:39 pm



The problem of high jacking planes has been completely solved.

You can no longer get into the cockpit and many pilots are armed.

It is a simple, cheap,effective solution that the Israelis adopted years ago.

Planes are already 70% more fuel efficient than they used to be and the new planes coming on line are even more efficient and cleaner.
In addition new clean fuels have developed and will be implemented soon, Virgin, Boeing etc have had a lot of investment in this.
You do not fly a 737 to John Wayne from SF you fly a small fuel efficient plane.
New cars will all be smaller and dramatically more fuel efficient, whether we like it or not.
This combined with new traffic management will increase the capacity of existing roads.
The technology of planes and cars is leaping ahead, the technology of HSR is the same as it always was, old and tired.

It is an old solution looking for a problem-- a boondoggle


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Posted by Bianca
a resident of Menlo Park
on May 31, 2009 at 2:46 pm



Sharon said: "You do not fly a 737 to John Wayne from SF you fly a small fuel efficient plane."

Really? You should tell Southwest Airlines that. Southwest flies nothing but 737s. Web Link

Funny how planes are cars, which are 100 year old technology, but High Speed Rail, which has been in use for 40+ years in Japan and Europe and continues to improve technologically, just as air and automobiles do, is "old and tired."

What about capacity? When the population of California has another 20 million people in it, what then? There is a limit to how many planes you can put in the same air corridor at any given time. No matter how small you make private cars there is a capacity limit to freeways. The alternative to HSR is not doing nothing. Do you plan to pave the entire state?


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Posted by Sharon
a resident of Midtown
on May 31, 2009 at 3:03 pm


When I fly to John Wayne with AA American Eagle it is always a small plane, maybe the South West continues on to the East Coast and therefore use larger planes.

New traffic control systems for air and road transportation are coming on line which will dramatically boost capacity.

Cisco is making a lot of profit on its Telepresence products, Chambers uses them for senior executive meetings all the time.
They can cut business travel by 50% to 75% and dramatically improve productivity.
They are becoming standard business practice.


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Posted by Sean
a resident of Midtown
on May 31, 2009 at 3:44 pm

OhlonePar,

With the new security measures in effect, it is much less likely that a plane will be flown into a building in the U.S. However, HSR is a very soft target for terrorists. You are right, that this would only affect the pasengeers and perhaps a few bystanders and rescue people, but that is still hundreds of people. The economic hit on the train system could be very significant. It doesn't even need to be Al Qaeda types, it could just be some gang members wanting to earn their stripes, or a deranged individual kid who feels like making a point. These high speed trains are easily derailed, like what happened in Germany a few years back.

I cannot see how HSR can avoid the serious security threat that it imposes, without serious security surveillance.


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Posted by Bianca
a resident of Menlo Park
on May 31, 2009 at 5:00 pm

Telepresence isn't an option for my mother in law to come up from Burbank to see her grandson, is it? Doesn't get the kids to Disneyland either.


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Posted by Polly Wannacracker
a resident of Professorville
on May 31, 2009 at 5:48 pm

"Just what problem is the High Speed Rail solving?"

The Diridon High Speed Intercity Railroad solves a huge problem for Rod Diridon: Norm Mineta has a modern international aiport named after him, but Diridon's got only a little vintage train station.


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Posted by Sharon
a resident of Midtown
on May 31, 2009 at 6:02 pm


In terms of family trips to Disney Land, if went by the boondoggle train you would have rent a car in LA anyway.

If took a family of 5 on the train it would probably cost $1000+ return plus the cost of a rental car.

If you drive at 30MPG it costs around $65 return and you can see family attractions on the way.
MPGs will improve dramatically in the next few years, balancing increases in gas price.

So who is going to use this HSR

Not families, not business travelers who is left?


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Posted by Spokker
a resident of another community
on May 31, 2009 at 6:12 pm

"In terms of family trips to Disney Land, if went by the boondoggle train you would have rent a car in LA anyway."

Disneyland isn't in LA.

If HSR is connected to Anaheim, trips to Disneyland would be a breeze, especially if they build a people mover straight to the resort area as they are currently studying.

"If you drive at 30MPG it costs around $65 return and you can see family attractions on the way."

The price of gas is not the only cost you incur when you drive. There are many direct costs and indirect costs to you and society as a whole that the majority of drivers hardly think about.

As for your second complaint, sure, I love road trips, and I will continue to take one or two a year with or without HSR. However, not every trip has a road trip like mentality and people often just want to go to one place and not stop every 50 miles to see tourist traps.

"If took a family of 5 on the train it would probably cost $1000+ return plus the cost of a rental car."

Airlines routinely offer discounts for families such as "kids fly free" promotions. There is no reason the same thing can't be done on a train. In fact, a local commuter railroad here in Southern California just added a discounted round trip ticket for a group of four to travel together that is perfect for families.

"MPGs will improve dramatically in the next few years, balancing increases in gas price."

Fuel efficiency is increasing at a snails pace. As countries develop, like China, and their thirst for oil increases, it's only going to put a pinch on supplies that we'll have to take by force. Whether or not the price of gas is low, we will pay a terrible cost in indirect ways.


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Posted by California's already going broke
a resident of Downtown North
on May 31, 2009 at 6:22 pm

It takes a lot of energy to move those big heavy trains. Hasn't it been shown that the "green" pro-HSR argument was merely part of the bright-and-shiny election packaging that has no factual basis?

Spokker, I wouldn't expect a college kid to understand family trips to Disneyland. I actually took my family (four kids) on a train to LA once. It was not fun, and it cost a LOT more than driving. When a family drives to Disneyland, typically you do want to stop every hour or so for one thing or another. And then when you get to Disneyland, you need a car so that you can get out of Anaheim to a decent restaurant, or visit the tar pits, or the beach. You're not going to take public transit to get around in LA. You need a car.

High speed rail is expensive everywhere in the world. Why would it be rockbottom cheap in California? Because Diridon and Kopp told us so, in hopes the voters would vote for their proposition? When is the state legislature replacing them with some bona fide transportation experts? Soon, I hope!



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Posted by spoiled
a resident of another community
on May 31, 2009 at 6:26 pm

"But take my case, I live here in PA and work in Fremont. There is no feasible way for me to go to work in a reasonable amount of time with the existing local public transit infrastructure."

There is a Dumbarton Express bus that runs between PA and Union City BART. Most people, including myself, don't consider this an option because we define "reasonable amount of time" as something approximating point-to-point travel by car on paved roads... because that's what we already have available to us.


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Posted by Mike
a resident of another community
on May 31, 2009 at 6:28 pm

Just who do you think you are "saving" your communities for? Your children? your children will reject your values the same way you rejected the values of your parents and they will not be able to imagine a world without HSR any more than imagining a world without Twitter, My Space, and Wii. You are the eight track tapes of your generation.

"Come mothers and fathers
Throughout the land
And don't criticize
What you can't understand
Your sons and your daughters
Are beyond your command
Your old road is
Rapidly agin'.
Please get out of the new one
If you can't lend your hand
For the times they are a-changin'"
-Bob Dylan


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Posted by Sharon
a resident of Midtown
on May 31, 2009 at 8:49 pm


That is a 40+year old hippy chant

Now I understand, the hippies who, wanted us all to live in communes or like Ayers, put segments of the population into reeducation camps, now want to force us into gov built cars and onto boondoggle HSR.

Last gasp of a failed national socialist movement I guess


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Posted by PointOfView
a resident of Midtown
on May 31, 2009 at 10:07 pm

"I agree with you that a lack of good bus/local train/subway/light rail is a huge problem, but it's completely separate from the HSR issue."

But it's not completely separate. How do you get to the HSR station? How do you get around at your destination?

Those places with successful HSR already have successful local transportation systems. We don't. We've tried hard and thrown lots of money at it; it's not trivial. We can't afford this suboptimal allocation of limited funds.


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Posted by Spokker
a resident of another community
on May 31, 2009 at 10:18 pm

"It takes a lot of energy to move those big heavy trains"

HSR isn't heavy in the FRA sense.

"And then when you get to Disneyland, you need a car so that you can get out of Anaheim to a decent restaurant, or visit the tar pits, or the beach. You're not going to take public transit to get around in LA. You need a car."

To get to a beach, simply take Metrolink from Anaheim station to San Clemente or Oceanside. It's quite a ride if you go all the way to Oceanside. Metrolink's new family discounts make it all the more affordable.

If you want to visit the tar pits you can take Metrolink to Los Angeles Union Station (An attraction in and of itself) and the Purple Line subway to Wilshire/Western station. Unfortunately the subway was not extended to Fairfax when it should have been, so you'll have to transfer to a rapid bus. By the time HSR is completed, the Wilshire subway *should* be going to the La Brea Tar Pits area.

"High speed rail is expensive everywhere in the world."

It's expensive because it's in such high demand. There are plenty of riders paying those prices. But try South Korea. Their full-blown HSR system is plenty affordable compared to Japan.

"I actually took my family (four kids) on a train to LA once. It was not fun, and it cost a LOT more than driving."

It would be disingenuous to compare Amtrak to any future HSR system.

"typically you do want to stop every hour or so for one thing or another."

Stopping for rest breaks? You're already resting comfortable on the train. Stop for potty breaks? You've got bathrooms on the train. Stop to see some two-bit tourist trap? This usually goes over well with the kids who are antsy for Disneyland, eh?

It should be noted that taking the train is generally safer than driving, so if you drive your kids to Disneyland you might as well say you don't care about their safety.


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Posted by Sharon
a resident of Midtown
on May 31, 2009 at 10:43 pm


You have obviously never taken the metroline in LA, the green and blue lines go right through the crips and bloods gang area, there are no security guards at the stations or on the trains, you would have to be crazy to risk your family on those trains.

HSR as planned is not going to happen, it has no market, it is a boondoggle, a ghost train and there are faster cheaper better alternatives for getting from here to LA.

The subsidized VOLT car we will get from GM in 2010 will get 50 to 150 MPGs.
Families would not use HSR because it will cost more than 12 times the cost of driving.
Business travelers will not use it, because they do not need it.
Who is left, even people who have lost their license through DUI will take the plane because it will be cheaper, faster and better.

I suppose that leaves people who have severe phobias about flying and driving, less than 100 great market opportunity.
It is dead in the water, we have much more important thing to spend our tax dollars on.


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Posted by Walter_E_Wallis
a resident of Midtown
on Jun 1, 2009 at 12:59 am

Walter_E_Wallis is a registered user.

"Fuel efficiency is increasing at a snails pace."
I question whether there has been any real increase in fuel efficiency since the CAFE standards treat reducing car weight the same as true efficiency. A real measure would be ton/miles/gallon; unfortunately this would not forward the animus against personal transportation choice of the small "c" communist.


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Posted by amused
a resident of Crescent Park
on Jun 1, 2009 at 10:44 am

Just looking at the last 3 comments I am amused by the thoughtlessness in thesis and the lack of critical thinking in the logic.

> if you drive your kids to Disneyland you might as
> well say you don't care about their safety.

Makes it sound like there are tons of parents who are trying to get rid of their kids by driving them to Disneyland.

> The subsidized VOLT car we will get from GM in 2010
> will get 50 to 150 MPGs.

Aside from the problems with GM, the Volt was a hybrid electric car with an electric range of 40 miles. It will not get anything close to 150, and probably even 50 on a long drive like this.

> this would not forward the animus against personal
> transportation choice of the small "c" communist.

When you disagree with something call it communist.

This is sad, is this the best that the smart minds of Palo Alto can do?

High Speed rail to me means that big wall in the center of Palo Alto for one thing. I don't like the idea unless it is underground. I also agree that putting together the romance and energy efficiency of a train which is really inspiring, and the pollution and problems of cars in a broad argument makes rail looks good. I just think the reality of what we will get is going to serve a small number of people at a huge cost and the tracks will be locally disruptive. When people get to the their destinations, how do they really get around.

I agree that it makes more sense to fortify local mass transit, then when that is proven and institutionally accepted, move to link them together better.


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Posted by jim h.
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Jun 1, 2009 at 11:06 am

If you drive your kids to disneyland you don't care about their safety? What kind of crap is that? You're an idiot.

Yeah, I'll pack up all of my kids' stuff so we can take the train to OC and the beach. That'll be fun. No thanks, I'll drive and bring the bikes, boogie boards, towels, etc...

And approx. 15M people go to Disneyland every year. That leave about 70+M passengers that need to take HSR for it to meet projections. Assumming ALL 15M take it to Disneyland, which is obviously not even close.

The people wanting HSR either have something to financially gain from it or think it's cool and don't really care how it gets funded.

Bottom line is that CA can't afford to take on such a project right now. Let it prove itself in a state that has the funds to do it.


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Posted by Bianca
a resident of Menlo Park
on Jun 1, 2009 at 2:25 pm

jim h. said: "The people wanting HSR either have something to financially gain from it or think it's cool and don't really care how it gets funded."

Wow, paint with a broad brush much?

I have nothing to gain financially from HSR.

I believe it is critical that we wean ourselves off of oil. For our national security, we have to stop relying on oil as a primary source of energy for transportation. HSR is a proven technology. We don't need oil for it. We can use coal if we must, or nuclear, and bring more renewable sources of energy online- solar, wind, geothermal. At some point we might have a reasonable biodiesel source for jet fuel but for now that's pie in the sky. HSR is proven technology with an excellent safety record.

The population of California is going to continue to grow. The alternative to building HSR is not doing nothing. As expensive as HSR may seem, it's actually less expensive than the alternatives- we will need more runways, airport expansion (where, exactly?) more or wider freeways (where, exactly?) to accomodate the 46 million people that will be living here in 2030. (that projection is from the US Census Bureau, I didn't make it up. ) Web Link

Furthermore, HSR provides an opportunity to accomplish sorely-needed grade separations along the Caltrain ROW. Caltrain plans to achieve full grade separation and electrification of the line eventually, but we all know how Caltrain is the unloved stepchild in terms of funding. Grade separation is long overdue. It will be safer and quieter for our community. It doesn't have to be a huge wall, just a few over/underpasses in the places where we have gates and bells now.


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Posted by Paul Losch
a resident of Palo Alto
on Jun 1, 2009 at 3:28 pm

Paul Losch is a registered user.

Thanks to all who have "weighed in" so far. Largely a pretty thoughtful discussion, which is what I hope my blogs generate, whatever the topic.

These sorts of forums go in all sorts of directions, but I hope we can continue the discussion along the lines of is there great benefit using the sorts of funds that HSR seeks to improve local transit?

This is a very complicated and multi-facted issue, and I encourage the writers to focus on this aspect of local transit as an alternative use of the funds.

Thanks for reading my blog. It is not a day job, but I do enjoy stirring the proverbial pot!


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Posted by George
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Jun 1, 2009 at 4:39 pm

HSR is a joke. The business plan is a joke. The logistical planning thus far is a joke. The proposed cost estimates are a joke. The author points out that it's not clear what problem HSR is attempting to solve. Personally, I think that we're just trying to look more like Europe. Long distance trains are roomy and they can be convenient, but that doesn't mean they are a good investment for the State of California.

I'll keep riding the Southwest train. It moves much faster.


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Posted by Sean
a resident of Midtown
on Jun 1, 2009 at 4:40 pm

Paul,

With all due respect, would you really use local transit? Have you ever ridden those buses for any long period of time? I have, and it ain't no picnic!

Since you want to focus on local transit, instead of HSR, could you please describe what it would take for you to abandon your car, in order to get to work? I would specifically like ot hear what you have to say about location, frequency, security, cleanliness and cost. The more specific the better.

I fail to see why we need to discuss HSR, a very troublesome venture, in the context of local transit. We could just as well discuss all-electric cars on more road lanes. I fail to see the direct connection, leaving aside the pie-in-the-sky dreams of the HSR true believers.


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Posted by Paul Losch
a resident of Palo Alto
on Jun 1, 2009 at 5:00 pm

Paul Losch is a registered user.

Sean,

I am not trying to duck your question, but there is a ton of stuff that applies to local transit, just as there is for HSR.

I have a reverse commute and perhaps my circumstances don't lend themselves to improved transit for the busiest rush hour drivers I see every day when I cross the Dumbarton Bridge heading east. But I know how I feel when I am in that sort of traffic, trying to get to work.

There is no way I would take local transit in its current configuation. Would an improved system affect where I decide to locate my company? Yes. Would a more comprehensive system affect how my employees choose to get to work? Yes. Will this take a while to become fully implemented? Yes.

The thing about these huge infrastructure projects is that they have downstream affects on behavior by people and businessnes. Another objective that I don't perceive has been fully addressed is what sort of behavior will HSR bring about? And what kind of behavior could be changed with local transit improvements?


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Posted by Walter_E_Wallis
a resident of Midtown
on Jun 1, 2009 at 5:11 pm

Walter_E_Wallis is a registered user.

"I believe it is critical that we wean ourselves off of oil. For our national security, we have to stop relying on oil as a primary source of energy for transportation" Your belief is not supported by the evidence. We have the resources to become a net energy exporter in ten years, just by rational cost/benefit analysis.
I intentionally used the small "c" communism to indicate the pure communal living rather than the dictatorship most communist governments became. Life on a structured tour ship is a form of communism in that it is all planned for you.The best public transit can do is about 6% of the traffic. We no longer all work at the mill at town center {I did for 7 years] and we do not want to live in dormitories and march in file to work.


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Posted by THETRUTH
a resident of another community
on Jun 1, 2009 at 5:18 pm

O Yes lets and more road lanes!!! who cares about all the thousand of homes and business that WILL be needed to widen 101 and every other
acess road..and the huge cost...Does not matter right? I want it and its worth it!!! right PA??


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Posted by George
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Jun 1, 2009 at 5:20 pm

I believe in the tooth fairy.
I believe we don't need to use oil.
I believe in pushing subsidized silicon based solar, hydrogen powered cars, and any other non-price effective energy technology before its ready.
I believe that investing in nuclear power plants is stupid because it takes 10 years to build them.
I believe coal is evil.
I love animals, especially dangerous wild ones that roam my neighborhood such as Mountain Lions.

Science takes time. Tree huggers live in a dream world.

Time for everyone to get real.


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Posted by Sean
a resident of Midtown
on Jun 1, 2009 at 5:54 pm

I think more road lanes make a lot of sense. They are already being incrementally created. In dense urban areas, they will need to be double deckers.

Cars can be made very clean, especially if they move to plug-in hybrid or all-electric technology. However, this, just like HSR, will require a clean source of electric power generation. Solar and wind and nuclear can serve this need, especially nuclear.

Interstate 5 is overloaded. It should be expanded by two lanes in each direction, with one of those lanes being a high speed lane for clean buses and cars with at least 3 passengers. Trucks should be limited to to the right lane only, except for passing. HWY 101 is also expandable, although not to the extent that I-5 is.

Highways are almost a living and breathing thing, like our arteries and veins. They are our lifeline, and they should adjust to our needs. There is no reason to make them something evil, because they are just the opposite. None of this obviates improvements in local public transit, but public transit needs to offer nearly the same convenience as automobiles. Most suburban buses and light rail are empty most of the time, and there is no mystery as to why this is true.

Paul Losch, you say that you would move your business to local transit hubs. Why haven't you already done this?


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Posted by Paul Losch
a resident of Palo Alto
on Jun 1, 2009 at 6:29 pm

Paul Losch is a registered user.

Sean,

This blog is not about me, but an issue that affects many of us. I use my personal situation as an example to illustrate larger points, but let's get back on topic, which is that local transit would be a better place to direct funds that currently are earmarked for HSR.


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Posted by Sean
a resident of Midtown
on Jun 1, 2009 at 7:00 pm

Paul,

You already have a major public transit hub in Fremont. BART services that town extremely well, and there are many buses that go to and from that hub. Why not move your business close to that hub, as you have suggested? Then you and your employees can use public transit.

The larger point, Paul, is that you will not use public transportation, because, like most of us suburbanites, it is not guaranteed to be safe, it is often dirty and full of gangsters and homeless, etc. I was on BART last year, when a real gang-banger fight broke out. I kept my head down, and got off at the next stop and hired a cab to get me home. I never saw anything about this in the press. Local public transit won't happen, Paul, like you suggest, until it is made completely safe and clean.


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Posted by Sharon
a resident of Midtown
on Jun 1, 2009 at 7:24 pm

Friends of mine, who are trained in lethal hand to hand combat, will not travel on the LA metro at night, nor in many cities if they do not have a concealed weapons permit in that area.
The thugs are on drugs, have weapons and do not want to go back to prison,and they want your money or to enforce some kind of weird racial grievance and violent reverse discrimination.


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Posted by Robert
a resident of another community
on Jun 1, 2009 at 8:07 pm

Cool story, bro. But you're about 7 months late, the election was last November.


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Posted by jim
a resident of another community
on Jun 2, 2009 at 12:10 am

The feds want to give california a few billion out of the stimulus funds to get started but the san jose san francisco portion with caltrain, which is the most shovel ready will be constructed before the central valley portion. So if PA want's to have any input on mitigation design, they'd better pick a solution quickly. The problem I see is that some peninsula residents can't make up their minds. They say, "we want it but with a tunnel" then they say "we want it but we want a trench" then they say "we want it, but we want it over on 101" ( which isn't even being offered) Then they say " we want it but we are concerned that it should go through altamont" and now you read here that some folks on the peninsula want to deny the system altogether, in favor of roads, double decking roads? how do you think you look to the rest of california? Like a bunch of looney tunes. It's my understanding that chsra has made an effort to work with you on some mitigation. But what are you doing? Can you folks even figure it out? You kind of sound like hysterical women. Calm down, figure out an acceptable compromise like adults, then move forward.


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Posted by PointOfView
a resident of Midtown
on Jun 2, 2009 at 12:14 pm

Why should we compromise and end up doing something of questionable utility but certain immense cost now and in the future? Such costs have always mattered, but they matter especially now when we can't afford our keep as a state. Just say "no."

The only value outside of the money going to those who work on building and running the train is a bow to Al Gore: pretending to do something to help an ill-understood change.

We just don't have the environment in which HSR makes sense.

We've been railroaded.


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Posted by Jim
a resident of another community
on Jun 2, 2009 at 12:33 pm

So the truth comes out. The cry of "done right" really is just the load of BS everyone knew it was to begin with. The aelr issue here is trying to reverse the decision of the voters. Well, you lost in November, well actually you won, since the peninsula voted for the project. Now a group of desperate election losers are trying to throw everything but the kitchen sink at a project most californians not only approved but whose completion is eagerly awaited just because you personally would rather drive (or be chauffeured?) everywhere. What a piece of work you folks are. good luck.


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Posted by Sean
a resident of Midtown
on Jun 2, 2009 at 12:48 pm

My final take on HSR is:

1. It was sold as a green solution, but there is little evidence that it is.

2. It has not been paid for, not even the downpayment of $9B. Have those bonds been sold? The remaining 80% of the project is pie-in-the-sky financing fantasy.

3. There are serious security concerns that have not been addressed.

4. HSR lacks redundancy. A single washed out, or blown up bridge shuts down the entire system.

4. There are serious local concerns with walls that divide cities, noise, property values, etc.

5. This state is broke! If this initiative were to be put forward to the voters, again, I seriously doubt that it would pass, unless the federal government paid for almost all of it. However, the federal government is broke, too.

6. There are serious concerns about ridership levels and destination connections.

Building more roadways, and switiching to electric automobiles makes more sense.


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Posted by jim
a resident of another community
on Jun 2, 2009 at 1:21 pm

It only makes more sense to you because your goal is to kill the project. Ask the mayors of Fresno, San jose, San Francisco, Los Angeles, San
Diego, Bakersfield, Merced, Hanford, Riverside, Anaheim and Sacramento as well as the majority of californians who voted for it if it makes sense. I can tell you as a railroad employee who deals directly with both the california public, as well as the domestic and international tourist community, there is nothing but praise, support and eagerness for the project. People are excited about it and can't wait for it to be completed. judging by the interest I wouldn't be surprised if they wind up eventually exceeding ridership numbers. That's just the truth of the matter on the streets from the folks who are in the know. I know you don't want to hear that but that's the way it is. If it turns out that your real mission isn't to mitigate effects as originally claimed, but is actually to stop the project as we all knew was your real motive. You're too late. You already had your chance to state your position and make your arguments prior to november.


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Posted by Eric
a resident of another community
on Jun 2, 2009 at 1:21 pm

"1. It was sold as a green solution, but there is little evidence that it is."

There is plenty of info on the "green" aspect of the project:
Web Link

And as for energy generation for the system, there have been several studies done. This most recent one from last September outlines different plans for implementing 100% renewable energy.
Web Link


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Posted by Jim
a resident of another community
on Jun 2, 2009 at 1:23 pm

So,seeing how your real position finally comes out, we see that not only are you a bunch of whiney rich white people but you are a bunch of little liars too.


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Posted by Bianca
a resident of Menlo Park
on Jun 2, 2009 at 1:28 pm

Electric cars currently only have a range of about 40 miles. Unless you have a Tesla, and most of us can't afford a Tesla. Electric cars for in-town driving work great. For long-distance travel, we just aren't there yet with electric cars. And you are worried about how to pay for HSR, but you want to build more roadways, even though that costs more than HSR will? That doesn't make sense to me.


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Posted by Sharon
a resident of Midtown
on Jun 2, 2009 at 1:32 pm

Jim

If what you say about your employment is true then you have a personal financial vested interest in this boondoggle.
Or you using employers equipment and time for your posts?

The last time we heard " its coming ,whether you like it or not" things did not work out as the SF mayor so arrogantly claimed.

The fact is this HSR boondoggle makes no economic, social, political,environmental,technological or any other sense any more.
It is not going to happen and it should not happen.
Build it an they will come, is not reality.


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Posted by jim
a resident of another community
on Jun 2, 2009 at 1:38 pm

Sharon, Im not at work so no I'm not using my employers time thank you. and two, I have no financial interest whatsoever as I'll be retired by the time this is completed and I don't have any connection to the project anyway. My interest is as 45 year resident / taxpayer of california and my perspective is one based on the reality on the front line. People want this, they want it very badly, they are excited about it, and they roll their eyes if you mention Atherton. I'm just telling you the truth.


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Posted by Eric
a resident of another community
on Jun 2, 2009 at 1:41 pm

The fact is this HSR boondoggle makes no economic, social, political,environmental,technological or any other sense any more.

Economic: Jobs
Social: Quality of life
Political: What?
Environmental: Green
Technological: High speed, electrified trains...sounds like a technological leap to me.


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Posted by Sharon
a resident of Midtown
on Jun 2, 2009 at 1:42 pm

Bianca

I believe people are referring to electric cars like the 2010 GM VOLT.

It has a gas engine which is not connected to the drive train but instead recharges the battery.
You get 40 on the charge after that the motor kicks in to charge the battery and keep you going, the range of VOLT is there for unlimited, you might need to stop for gas at some point.
Once the Volt's battery has discharged to its lower limit set-point, the Volt's range-extending gasoline engine is expected to get from approximately 50 mpg-US (4.7 L/100 km; 60 mpg-imp) to as much as 150 mpg-US (1.6 L/100 km; 180 mpg-imp) depending on its run-time duty cycles.


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Posted by Sharon
a resident of Midtown
on Jun 2, 2009 at 1:47 pm


As we ie the gov will own 60% of GM and there will be generous subsidies for the Volt that will be the transportation solution for California.

All the old and now tired HSR projects where envisioned long long before their was an electric car like the Volt.

The HSR project for California is dead.


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Posted by Eric
a resident of another community
on Jun 2, 2009 at 1:48 pm

The Chevy Volt is expected to cost nearly $40,000...and people say HSR is for the elite.

Look, I think that our transportation problems will require every mode. HSR, planes, cars, commuter rail, etc. I think that electric and hybrid cars are great! It's just that the technology isn't fully evolved while high speed rail technology works all over the world.


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Posted by jim
a resident of another community
on Jun 2, 2009 at 1:50 pm

electric cars are of no use to people who don't want to drive al over the state in the first place. Who wants to buy a car or rent a car and drive to fresno when you can take the train and be there in 90 minutes? Who want to drive to LA when you can take the train in the morning, be there in a couple of hours and be home in time for dinner while avoiding the whole 3 hour each way airport rigamarol. Your perspective in PA is ver very narrow.


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Posted by Sharon
a resident of Midtown
on Jun 2, 2009 at 1:59 pm


Obama has announced that the Volt buyer will get a $7,500 subsidy

So it will cost $32K at most, after that there are tax credits which will further reduce the cost ownershipWeb Link to that the MPG of up to 150mpg and the costs of ownership will be less than any other car.
I expect that Obama will raise the tax on gas and provide even more incentives for people to buy Volts.
I do not particularly agree with all that policy, but that is the deal he has made with the Green and the UAW and that is the way it is

If you think the technology is not fully evolved you had better tell GM quick because it goes on sale in 2010.

We own this puppy, it is the USAs equivalent of the VW "the peoples car" in pre war Germany


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Posted by Eric
a resident of another community
on Jun 2, 2009 at 2:11 pm

I don't consider it to be fully evolved because of price...the cars requires a $7,500 government subsidy to be competitive. I think the Volt is a great idea, it just isn't the silver bullet that will solve all our problems. Once again, I'm by no means against the Volt, I'm just saying that our transportation systems need to be more diversified.

Sure, we need cars. Yes, we need planes. And we also need high speed rail. This is just turning into a big argument about what mode of transportation is the best. Everyone has their own opinions, but the reality is that we need all modes.

Imagine only having cars. We need all types of transportation. Electric and hybrid cars are a great step forward. And high speed rail is a great step forward.


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Posted by Sharon
a resident of Midtown
on Jun 2, 2009 at 2:36 pm



HSR is a $90B to $200B leap off a cliff.
The cost overruns are always astronomical on such boondoggles.
It is old, tired technology,
The is no market
No one would us it
1 earthquake and it would be out for months
It would be an indefensible target for terrorists
The Greens and UAW have got now their bone with GM, they do not want competition and will lobby against it, they want to sell lots of the new government cars in California
Apart from that it is train spotters pipe dream---- dream on


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Posted by Sean
a resident of Midtown
on Jun 2, 2009 at 3:41 pm

Eric,

Your CHSRA source makes the following satement:

"High-speed trains need only one-third of the energy than that of an airplane and one-fifth of an automobile trip."

Since you put it out there, you need to support that statement.

My various readings on this subject suggest that even internal combustion automobiles, using gasoline, are about as energy efficients as trains, on a passenger mile basis. However, given that automobiles are headed in the direction of hybrid or all electric, this would make automobiles more efficient than HSR.

Your reference on renewable enery is highy biased toward 100% renewable enrgy being used by HSR. This is, of course, complete nonsense. Renewable energy will feed into the overall market, and HSR will need to compete for it, despite the wishes of this consultant group hired by the CHSRA.

Your arguments are beyond weak, in fact, they are disingenuous.

Jim,

" It only makes more sense to you because your goal is to kill the project. Ask the mayors of Fresno, San jose, San Francisco, Los Angeles, San Diego, Bakersfield, Merced, Hanford, Riverside, Anaheim and Sacramento "

I could care less how politically popular something is, if it does not make sense. Do these mayors agree to diminish their take of state funds, at the local level, in order to pay for HSR? If so, please start giving some examples of programs that they are willing to give up.

Bianca,

"Electric cars currently only have a range of about 40 miles"

That is true, CURRENTLY, however electrical battery technology is readily advancing, and various exhange stations are being discussed. Ask Warren Buffet. HSR, if built, will not come on line for about 10 years. By that time, electric car technology will be much better advanced. In fact, the proper comparison is HSR versus electric cars, with the same ridership ratio. Automobiles win this one hands down, on many levels.

Jim (again),

"Who wants to buy a car or rent a car and drive to fresno when you can take the train and be there in 90 minutes?"

You forgot to factor in the drive time from your home to the train station, then the transfer of luggage to the train, the wait time for the train, the baggage claim, then renting a car or flagging a taxi at the destination. Don't forget the secuirty check which is MUST, if the system is to be preserved.



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Posted by Bianca
a resident of Menlo Park
on Jun 2, 2009 at 4:05 pm

Security Theater on HSR is a must? When they don't have it in Japan, or in France? If Security Theater is a must, and HSR will share the ROW with Caltrain- does that mean that you are going to impose Security Theater at every Caltrain stop as well? If not, what's the point of subjecting people on HSR to Security Theater? The trains will be running on adjacent tracks, and sharing stations. Please explain how you believe that will work.


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Posted by Sharon
a resident of Midtown
on Jun 2, 2009 at 4:25 pm


You bet there is a security threat, HSR would present a high value, high vulnerability target.
A strategically placed IED would derail the train, kill many people destroy the track for months and scare people away for years.

The fuel efficiency per passenger is passed dependent upon how full the train is, the fantasy train would have few passengers, it is a nobrainer
Any way HSR has been leapfrogged by the superior technology of electric cars, within 10 years they will be able to drive themselves while you get on with your work and play safely inside, planes already do this.

Who dreamed up this moonbeam old technology project of HSR, we lead the world in high technology yet we are wasting time and money thinking about a tired old technology looking for Other Peoples Money.
There are fantastic new tech solutions for traffic control on roads and in the air, advances in Telepresence at Cisco, which has now replaced GM on the Dow Industrial Average.
As we develop these new technologies we will be able to sell them to China, Japan and Europe rather than following their tired, old HSR technology.
We need to make money, not throw it away!


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Posted by Sean
a resident of Midtown
on Jun 2, 2009 at 4:33 pm

Bianca,

Caltrain is relatively heavy and slow and local. HSR is high speed, light and long distance. HSR has some very serious vulnerabilities, such as derailments. However, you are right that any train is vulnerable, if there is a will to destroy it. Just ask those passengers in London and Madrid.

A security check-in procedure, as well as a continuing track check is a must for HSR, and it might become so for Caltrain, but first things first. What happens in Japan stays in Japan. It has no relevance in the USA. France is one bomb away from insituting serious security. I remember flying on airplanes, anywhere, with no security. Thanks for the reminder, though.


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Posted by Eric
a resident of another community
on Jun 2, 2009 at 4:52 pm

Sean,

Before you call my argument disingenuous, perhaps you should look at the facts. It is true, that automobiles are just about as efficient as passenger trains. Cars average about 33 MPG while passenger trains like Amtrak average around 43 MPG per passenger equivalent.
Source: US Department of Energy Web Link

An older study done in Europe showed that per passenger MPGe for high speed rail far exceeds both conventional rail and automobiles. First generation ICE trains averaged 252 MPGe. AVE trains in Spain averaged 350 MPGe.
Web Link

So please, don't tell me my argument is disingenuous. Those are the facts.


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Posted by jim
a resident of another community
on Jun 2, 2009 at 6:42 pm

Sean, you are forgetting, this was already voted on and passed. Whether you agree with the cities and people in california who are on board with the project isn't relevant now. the time to make your case was a few months ago. Even your own county and city voted for the project. You don't have a snowball's chance in hell of stopping it. but go ahead and knock yourself out.


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Posted by Sharon
a resident of Midtown
on Jun 2, 2009 at 6:48 pm

There you go again Jim

The people of CA are not sheeple, we will put a stop to this boondoggle
in no time---dream on with your train spotters wet dream


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Posted by Thetruth
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jun 2, 2009 at 6:50 pm

I love it!! High Speed Rail is old technolgy!!! your a trip!! Well here in the very "advanced" USA I guess we are so smart compared to the rest of the world that as you can see we have the worlds most advanced transportation systems..Our bridges and freeways are state of the art//for 1965!!same with the cutting edge Air traffic control
and airports...never any delays..Please your nimby/ideology reasons cannot justifiy that HSR is "outdated"


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Posted by Thetruth
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jun 2, 2009 at 7:02 pm

You dream on Sharon!!! IT will be built..NO rich nimbys are going to stop this statewide project..This is not one of your little Condo projects that you Bullys can scare some developer off. ITS 6.8million
people that voted YES. Dont Woory you people are ruining PA reputation .THE WHITE HOT SPOT LIGHT WILL BE ON THE NIMBYS


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Posted by Sean
a resident of Midtown
on Jun 2, 2009 at 7:36 pm

Eric,

" Cars average about 33 MPG while passenger trains like Amtrak average around 43 MPG per passenger equivalent."

You simply cannot compare average car mileage with long range train travel. If you want to compare apples to apples, then you need to look at the average energy per passenger mile on a trip between San Francisco and Los Angeles. The automobile trips need to be compared at the same ridership ratios. If you want to assume 80% ridership on a typical HSR trip, then assume the same thing with the autos. A 5 seat automobile, at 80% ridership (4 passengers), that gets 20 miles per gallon, will then get 80 miles per passenger equivalent. A 40 mpg car would have an 160 miles per passenger equivalent and so forth.

You also need to factor in the idle time and travel miles of taxis and buses, as they pick up and and deliver train passengers to their final destination, not an insignificant thing.

Yours is typical of the apples to oranges comparisons that the HSR advocates put out there. These comparisons are very disingenuous.


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Posted by Eric
a resident of another community
on Jun 2, 2009 at 8:07 pm

Sean,

I appreciate your diligence in this debate.

But yes, I simply can compare auto efficiency with high speed rail. That is the debate here...which is more efficient. I suppose I should have clarified this a bit more, but the 33 MPG statistic is on a per passenger basis. With an average occupancy of 1.57 people per car, that statistic is correct.

That could certainly increase, as you mention, on a long distance trip. ie. family vacation. However, if you've ever driven down 5, 99, or 101 you will notice that most people travel either by themselves or with one other person.

And of course, you are correct that people will be driving, taking the bus, etc. to the train station.

However, even factoring in transit to the station, high speed rail is still more efficient. Sure, you could in theory get 160 MPGe with a full car. But on the other hand, high speed rail still is capable of 350 MPGe.

And once again, a good portion of the energy will come from renewable resources. The report is there that outlines how they plan to do it. Even if they don't use 100%, it will certainly be the majority.

And once again, keep in mind that cars still use 100% fossil fuels. Sure, there are electric cars coming down the pipes, but it will be some time before everyone is driving one and they have long range capabilities.

The Chevy Volt is a step in the right direction, but it certainly isn't the solution to our transportation needs. I am advocating for a diversified transportation solution. I want planes, trains, and automobiles.


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Posted by stephen levy
a resident of University South
on Jun 2, 2009 at 8:52 pm

The HSR was origially proposed to meet two capacity issues--capacity limits and time delays in driving betweeen the Bay Area and Southern California and capacity limits and delays in air travel.

Both set of capacity issues made some sense until the recession hit and may well make sense in the future as demand for north-south travel grows again.

The HSR was not designed to attract families going to Disneyland--it cannot compete on cost and convenience. It was designed for mainly business travel and presumed to offer a competitive trip in travel time and the convenience to work on the train.

There were no issues of green when the project was designed--the debate going on above about energy efficiency is mostly irrelevant to the HSR case although interesting in its own right.

Paul raised one of the key issues when he asked whether the money could be better spent on local transportation. Another key issue now is whether the capacity limits on north-south highways and air travel lanes seem as compelling as they seemed 10 years ago and whether the business travel cost comparisons and ridership projections are still valid.

The issues of how do you get to the train and what do you do when you get to the destination station are good questions but they are also faced by air travelers. One of the questions I never got answered is where would you put the parking and transit/taxis at the destination stations.

I don't think HSR planners envisioned travelers switching to the existing local transit although that is an option.

I am not 100% sure but my memory is that the HSR bond money does not get spent until we have federal matching money and the project does not go forward simply becasue the bond was passed.

My own view is that this is more about arithmetic and economics than ideology and debates about green.

One gap in the original thinking is related to the issue that Paul raised--whether there was sufficient local infrastructure to allow people to get from the station to their final destination. If not the travel time comparisons overstate the advantage of HSR.

I think there are sufficient economic and technical issues that federal funding sufficient to get the project going is unlikely.

Boondoggle is too strong a word--an interesting idea where the economics probably comes up short seems more accurate.

I worked as one of the consultants on the original project in the late 1990s and raised Paul's concern and my other concerns back then. I voted against the bond last year but I can see the hope that the majority felt that California was getting a chance to try something new and bold, even if I thought there were better uses for the money.


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Posted by Sean
a resident of Midtown
on Jun 2, 2009 at 9:27 pm

Eric,

Where do you get that 1.57 passenger per car on a trip between SF and LA? When I do that trip, I always have 2-3 additional people with me. Yes, you will see many people who use those roadways, with only 1 or 2 people, but many of them are traveling short distances between towns, for example Palo Alto to San Jose, not Palo Alto to LA. The only fair comparison is average ridership ratios for the entire trip, for both automobiles and trains. If you want to claim 80% for trains, then you must do the same for cars. Of course, one can always push ridership ratios for trains by limiting the number of trains (as the airlines do for planes), but then you need to factor in the inconvenience factor and overall ridership.

On this basis, gasoline powered, internal combustion automobiles are approximately equal to per passenger mile, compared to HSR. Your high figure (350 passenger mile equivalent) assumes very high density train cars, even double decker, trains. The HSR in California will be neither of those. As automobiles move to electric motors, which are much more efficient than internal combustion engines, automobiles will make major gains.

Your notion, as pushed by CHSRA, that the electricity will come mostly or even largely from renewable resources is, as I have said, complete nonsense. Alternative sources, as good as they are, generate electricity that enters the grid, and it is avalailable to all users, like electric cars and air conditioning. CHSRA is pushing a fantasy by claiming that it can gain a monoploy on that energy. Won't happen, no matter how much you guys push it. Electrons are electrons, and they are fungible, just like dollars. Don't forget that as more and more electric cars hit the road, there will be an increasing demand for electricity, and the costs will go up, and renewable sources will not be able to keep up. This means either more coal, natural gas or nuclear power.

I share your view that a diversified system is desirable, but at what cost? Sure, I would like HSR, if it was practical, but I do not believe it is, when all the important elements are factored into the equation.


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Posted by Sean
a resident of Midtown
on Jun 2, 2009 at 9:56 pm

Stephen,

"There were no issues of green when the project was designed--the debate going on above about energy efficiency is mostly irrelevant to the HSR case"

Yes, but "green" was a major selling point in the recent election. Just ask our former mayor in Palo Alto.

North-South business travel will be limited in the future, as telecommuting becomes the norm.


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Posted by Jim
a resident of another community
on Jun 2, 2009 at 11:22 pm

I still have to point out the fact that the nimby opposition has changed its reasoning so many times that no one knows what they really want. All we know is they are using whatever excuse they can grab at the moment. The high speed rail has more support than not. Prior to the bad economy californians support was in the 70s, and even after the economic downtown, with less support, they still passed it. Once the economy turns back around, support will be even larger. The fact is this project is going to create jobs and californians need jobs. The fact is once in place, the addtional access it beings to the communities served will bring increased economic benefits, in the same way a new airport would and the same way a new freeway would. The fifference being that trains bring the economic benefits to the downtown cores of the cities that need it not the outlying areas. Now I realize that PA has more money that god, and that you people couldn't give a rats ass about the rest of the state because you and your pastey white asses don't have the capacity or desire to care about the rest of california but, for the other cities being served, this will bring much needed economic stimulus. Add to that the increased mobility it will bring, especially to those who are already accustomed to using public transportation ( again, referring to people upon whom you look down - even to the point of making comments about the train bring the "wrong" kind of people around you bunch of stuck up little white bitches) and you have a addition to our states transportation system will benefit a great many people in a great many ways. It may not benefit you personally but you may find out that much to your dismay, you don't matter as much as you think you do. so you right ahead and do what you want, waste your time and waste your money and kick and scream and make asses of yourselves. meanwhile, the rest of us are planning for our train, our stimulus dollars and our state's future.


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Posted by jim h
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Jun 2, 2009 at 11:39 pm

Jim,
Don't think we need the name calling and general characterizations. Shows the class of person you are and detracts from any credibility you assume you have.

Can you show how a HSR train will stimulate the economy in, say, Fresno? Just because a train stops there doesn't mean I'm gonna go there. Is it assumed that companies will sprout up in Fresno because there's a station there? Is it that hard to get to any of the cities proposed to have a station?

No one ever really talks about the economics of the HSR. It's either, just deal with it, or it'll be great.

The numbers I've seen don't seem feasible to have this break even. Does the country, or the state need another business to support and/or bailout?


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Posted by Jim
a resident of another community
on Jun 2, 2009 at 11:41 pm

I'm not worried about my character Im just telling the truth as read right here on these pages.

here's a dedication to you though: Web Link


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Posted by jim
a resident of another community
on Jun 2, 2009 at 11:48 pm

I'm one of those dirty uncouth working class people you don't want marring your enclave.


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Posted by bru
a resident of Crescent Park
on Jun 3, 2009 at 12:07 am

I'm sorry to admit, but I never use public transportation. The one time that I did when I was stranded in San Mateo I got attacked by a bum who I gave a dime to make a phone call - they say no good deed goes unpunished. No biggie, he ran off, I got lucky.

But some good points above about BART, and gangsters. It seems like we have diverged our society on so many levels, along with the infrastructure there is no way to make it work that is not horribly expensive for those that do not use what they are paying for, or that excludes certain other people.

Should people have database entries linked to their drivers licenses that could exclude them from public places because they could be a threat? I don't want to get on BART or anything else where violence could erupt, I got lucky once. What is to keep that from happening on high-speed rail? I would go on BART or take the bus if there were regular people on it, and it went where I needed to go.

As far as getting off oil, sure. How? The minute we do we make oil cheaper for everyone else, and add cost to everything we make, and we spend all our free capital to tool up for solar/wind, and I assume we ignore nuclear or course since it might actually work. What do we gain from that? Nothing. What would a one world government do to help that become feasible, enable reasonable and fair international corporate regulation - a lot. Will it happen? No.

What we have is a logjam on almost every political issue or system based on fear of loss by every group or entity, and they all get to say no, so nothing happens, and we are going headlong into a tunnel, on a not on high-speed rail either, with the train of environmental destruction heading right at us, and there's no way to slow down or even talk about it.

What can break the log jam? Certainly not more of the same.


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Posted by jim
a resident of another community
on Jun 3, 2009 at 12:32 am

Seriously? You're afraid to ride BART? Good lord. There's no more I can say. Good luck.


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Posted by OhlonePar
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Jun 3, 2009 at 12:45 am

jim,

I have to admit I had the same reaction. I used to commute on BART. I actually looked up crime on BART to see if there was some wave I'd not heard about, but there wasn't . . . I felt like I was reading about the NYC subway before it was cleaned up.

BART doesn't run late at night, the stations are well lit with security cameras and people. The only issue for most of us are the dark parking lots.


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Posted by jim
a resident of another community
on Jun 3, 2009 at 1:01 am

I'm tenderloin adjacent and work nights. I don't know, I've been running these streets for decades and I think a lot of fear is unjustified. And let me say this, I actually do understand the position of the nimby's. None of wants our neighborhood to change. Everytime I look up and see that middle finger of One Rincon I cringe. And certinaly here in sf we fight a good fight but ultimately you can only slow down change you can't stop it. and you can mitigate it which is usually what happens here and the only reason it happens here is that you have a powerful base and a power city government that are often on the same page in terms of the where when and how of development. If you're smart, you'll play your cards and get a reasonable compromise. You aren't gonna kill the project though. You can forget that.


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Posted by OhlonePar
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Jun 3, 2009 at 1:15 am

jim,

The thing about the nimbies here is that the HSR really would be in their backyard--residential does back right up on the train tracks.

Palo Alto, I think, is always sort of pulled between its two identities--bucolic college town and the nerve center of globally important industry.

I think the hopes are that the train will be rerouted through the Pacheco pass and along the old Dumbarton Bridge before heading north or tunneled (which looks very expensive).


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Posted by Jim
a resident of another community
on Jun 3, 2009 at 1:23 am

It won't be re routed. They have to find a way to mitigate the effects of it running through town. trench, tunnel, compensation of some kind, maybe those smarty pants over at stanford can invent some space age sound absorbing material. Or maybe we just buy the nimby's some dark glasses and earplugs.


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Posted by OhlonePar
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Jun 3, 2009 at 1:37 am

jim,

A trench may be a workable option. I think there's a lot of fear, but I lived a half-block from the tracks at one point and the current trains are actually already quite noisy--HSR might actually be an improvement--if done right. But that, of course, is the big issue.

We just had another suicide on the tracks tonight--right now, I'm for anything that makes the tracks impossible to get to, frankly.


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Posted by stephen levy
a resident of University South
on Jun 3, 2009 at 6:11 am

stephen levy is a registered user.

Sean,

You are right that green was an issue in the HSR bond campaign but it is a marginal issue in evaluating the economics of HSR. I don't know what the right answer is re energy use but the comparison should be made to air travel and single occupancy car travel because that is the market that HSR targets.

The Pacheco route was chosen becasue San Jose and Silicon Valley is a large and growing part of the Bay Area economy. Stanford and Silicon Valley is a principal market for HSR, which is why if HSR is done (even if I don't think it is currently good economics) that Palo Alto is the natural station stop, not Redwood City.

HSR is for people who do travel regularly and are not afraid of trains or BART. People who do not like mass transit and prefer cars retain that option and their fear, while interesting, is not relevant to evaluating HSR. The crime on public transit rant that is going on here lacks evidence as far as I know. In any event HSR users would not be riding public transit late at night so I don't see how that fear got into the HSR debate.

The HSR would serve some double duty by giving far out Bay Area or SoCal commuters an option to travel faster within their region--say from Merced into the Bay Area for work or from Bakersfield into LA. Also options for travel in the Central Valley would be expanded.

I still don't think the economics are good enough but there were solid reasons for pursuing the idea ten years ago and may be again.

The original idea was for private sector firms to operate the trains for a profit AFTER the public sector built much of the infrastructure. I don't know where that idea is now.


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Posted by Sean
a resident of Midtown
on Jun 3, 2009 at 8:42 am

Stephen,

"The crime on public transit rant that is going on here lacks evidence as far as I know."

I, personally, was referring to local transit, not long haul HSR, which would, presumably, be better protected. From personal experience, I know how scary BART can be.

"Another rising trend are thefts and assaults, many involving thieves who wrestle away or slyly snatch valuables such as laptops and music devices on trains and at stations, said BART Police Chief Gary Gee.

"Unfortunately, it's a common occurrence," Gee said. "[They'll steal] all the state of the art things you can buy at an Apple store or Best Buy.""

Web Link

There was a well publicized killing of a BART ganster fight participant, who was shot by a BART police officer, as he lay on the ground. Missed in all the outrage was the fact that these gansters were having one of their routine fights on BART. If the perp had not been shot, there probably would have been no press coverage.

For those of us who have experienced BART violence, it is more than a bit dismaying to have some of you be so dismissive.

I maintain that local public transit will not work, as intended, until it is made safe and clean. In the case of BART, there needs to be armed police on each train.


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Posted by Bianca
a resident of Menlo Park
on Jun 3, 2009 at 9:18 am

I'm also a little puzzled about the fear of BART. I'm sorry that Sean has had a bad experience but I strongly believe that is far from the norm. I commuted on BART for years and never saw anything remotely scary. A bunch of people reading newspapers and bopping their heads on the beat of whatever they were listening to on their iPods. In one instance that I remember there was a guy who looked like he'd gone off his meds, and after a few stops of him talking loudly to himself somebody noticed and shortly thereafter BART cops showed up to talk to him. And all he was doing was babbling gibberish. Nothing violent. There are security cameras on BART cars, it doesn't need armed police.

I've ridden subways in New York City (where I lived for five years; again, no crime witnessed) Caracas, São Paulo, Paris, Madrid, Singapore, Tokyo, Kyoto, Osaka, Mexico City, and London. And that's just subways, that doesn't include surface public transit like buses and street cars. I don't find public transit remotely scary, especially when I'm in a place where all the signs are in a language I can read.

I'll agree that public transit here on the Peninsula doesn't seem to work that well. In large part that's due to the lower density here- to have really efficient public transit, higher density is required. And high-density housing is another subject that really seems to get people's dander up around here.


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Posted by jim
a resident of another community
on Jun 3, 2009 at 9:57 am

Local public transit is already working. For hundreds of thousands of bay area commuters, shoppers and leisure travelers every day. BART carries around 250-300k per day, MUNI carries over 700k - or the equivalent of the entire population of sf every day, Amtrak three california routes are the three most successful rail lines in the country outside the NEC. To suggest that transit may not work when transit has been working for millions of californians for years is ridiculous. In addition to that, nearly a billion of the hsr funds have been targeted to further improve that local transit that you say needs improving and those plans are already being formulated as they pertain to how best to overlay hsr with local and region to create a more comprehensive system. These things take decades to build out but it takes vision and planning and a willingness to start somewhere so that the next generations can not only benefit, but have something upon which they can continue to build. If the folks back in the 50s hadn't had such vision we wouldn't have BART and Caltrain would be gone. What do you think your local traffic and parking would look like then? I am really just not impressed with a town, that I had always thought was educated and progressive, that has turned out to be provincial and selfish. It's really amazing and it makes the cries of concern over "doing it right" or "worrying about the next generation's debt" etc ring hollow. These are arguments that have been thrown into the big bucket of kitchen sink arguments that are being thrown by the opposition in hopes that something, anything, will stick. YOu just aren't fooling anyone.


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Posted by California's already going broke
a resident of Downtown North
on Jun 3, 2009 at 10:35 am

Jim, your HSR friends are telling us the opposite. They're saying that HSR is geared to regional travel and that local areas will have to deal with their own transit problems. Some of the funds will help Caltrain, but the transit options and routes will not be expanded.

By the way, you gotta love how the CHSRA is talking about handing out billions here and there. Where is that money, and how will they have any left to build the tracks?

Running HSR down the peninsula on the existing tracks makes no sense. Why add capacity to a route that is already way underutilized. BART and Muni may carrying hundreds of thousands of people, but they don't serve the peninsula, so you might as well point out that the New York subways serve hundreds of thousands of people a day. Irrelevant!

By the way, I have taken subways all over the world, and BART is among the scariest. My family took it to a soccer game in Oakland last year and were fortunate enough to get out of the station just before a knife fight occurred. I also had a friend who was murdered by thugs as he got into his car at a BART station. So I'd say BART's earned its unsavory reputation, not that it's particularly relevant to HSR, as most BART riders won't be able to afford to ride HSR.



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Posted by OhlonePar
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Jun 3, 2009 at 10:53 am

Well is Caltrain underutilized or not? I read some people talk about how we already have plenty of "baby bullets" and how building the tracks would interfere with what CalTrain does. And now you're saying it's not used enough.

Speaking as someone who did a PA to SF commute for a while, my main issue is that the train commute was relatively slow, particularly when you factored in the location of the train station in SF. The other issue was the infrequency of trains--if you miss the last one at rush hour, you end up waiting a lonnnggg time for the next one.

Using BART, on the other hand, was always faster than commuting by car--no traffic jams and no having to hunt around for a parking spot and the non rush hour trains were frequent enough that missing a train wasn't a catastrophe.



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Posted by jim
a resident of another community
on Jun 3, 2009 at 11:07 am

I think you are confused. Yes HSR is geared toward moving people from region to region. Bay - Valley Inland Empire to LA LA- SF LA - VAlley and so forth. HSR is not responsible for local transit. Local transit has always been the responsibility of the local cities and counties it serves. There is however, nearly a billion dollars of the initial that by law, is earmarked to up grade existing services. Its in the law that was passed and those discussions are taking place at places such as amtrak california, Ace, etc. You have to remember that we are not in a permanent recession. The economy will turn around adn eventually we will find ourselves in yet another boom cycle. The fact is, much to our dismay, the state is going to continue to grow. That growth is going to be mainly in the form of foreign influx to the state. These people are not averse to public transportation. They will expect it. Moving another 20 million people around the state requires additional infrastructure. Of the available methods, rail gives ou the most bang for your buck and the the least intrusive. Building freeways takes up huge amounts of land where rail uses existing corridors wherever available and has a very small footprint wherever it goes. Airport expansion is not politically acceptable. There are very tight restrictions on airport expansion everywhere and try to get a another runway into the bay and see how far you get. Further, air travel is not the answer for shorter trips. You seem not to be concerned that there is an entire population in the valley and inland empire that is under served. I know these people, they want high speed rail and they want it now.


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Posted by jim
a resident of another community
on Jun 3, 2009 at 11:09 am

As for bay area public transportation. I have been using almost exclusively for 35 years as I have only owned a car a couple of times for relatively short periods of time. So I know it works.


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Posted by stephen levy
a resident of University South
on Jun 3, 2009 at 12:20 pm

stephen levy is a registered user.

There absolutely is money in the bond issue to help local transit connections for the HSR. And communities may want to bargain for more money if HSR ever gets close to happening.

As far as the corridor from San Jose to SF, I don't have a clear sense of whether it makes more sense to run Caltrain bullets of HSR trains. With CalTrain there would have to be a switch.

I ride CalTrain a lot and the service for me is great. Before the recession hit, pasenger volumes were rising and many commute trains were crowded.

If the HSR does come eventually it won't work very well unless you can get from San Jose to where you are going as quickly and easily as if you flew into the airport. On the other hand, HSR will contribute money and passengers toward expanding our regional public transit. if only the overall economics were better!!


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Posted by Agree with Losch
a resident of Leland Manor/Garland Drive
on Jun 3, 2009 at 1:31 pm

The HSR and the vote to pay for it with future taxes was enough to send my son into orbit, and declare he was moving out of California as soon as he graduates college. It was the straw that broke his "tax back", is how he put it. He really resented Californians passing this on to him and his generation when he can clearly see it is exactly as Mr. Losch said..a boondoggle to benefit a few at the massive expense to the many.


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Posted by Jim
a resident of another community
on Jun 3, 2009 at 11:54 pm

Posted by Agree with Losch, a resident of the Leland Manor/Garland Drive neighborhood, 10 hours ago

The HSR and the vote to pay for it with future taxes was enough to send my son into orbit, and declare he was moving out of California as soon as he graduates college. It was the straw that broke his "tax back", is how he put it. He really resented Californians passing this on to him and his generation when he can clearly see it is exactly as Mr. Losch said..a boondoggle to benefit a few at the massive expense to the many.


Tell him we all said goodbye. Really this "I'm leaving California' threat we've been hearing for years is so tired. Leave for god's sake just stop complaining. This project is going to be paid for by the next generation because it's being built for the next generation. It's bing built for the growing population. We appreciate your son leaving the state to help reduce some of the crowding but that alone isn't going to be enough make abstaining from infrastructure investment feasible. this project, once completed will benefit millions of californians, not just "the few." The fact that you look at the price tag as the only issue while ignoring the fact that we are competing in a global economy, vying for global business, and a global population influx shows your lack of , or perhaps unwillingness too, look at the bigger picture. Mobility, for all people, with multiple modes, and all growth regions served is the goal and is a necessary component of our future economy. This project will generate years of business tax revenue to state and local coffers in every city it touches. Anytime you you bring access to an area, you stimulate the economy. Anytime you bring more mobility to more people you create a more democratic economy. Mobility for all. This state has been too over run by too many people whose attitude in "no we can't" and it has ruined a state that was once known for greatness. You are not going to ruin this state. We will lead the nation, yet again, as the first state to complete a true high speed rail system. If living in a dynamic, pacific rim economic hub isn't your cup of tea then you should follow your son out the door.


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Posted by Jim H.
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Jun 4, 2009 at 12:24 am

A global economy where jobs are being outsourced overseas. No need to move to CA when the jobs will be shifted to India and China.

Jim, you sure seem angry about this issue. Sounds a lot like you have something financially to gain by it being built. I doubt it's merely your deep concern for the transportation needs of the future generations.

You also seem 100% sure it'll get built. There was a HSR project in Florida which received funding approval by voters in 2000. 4 years later that funding was repealed by over 60% of the voters. Nothing's impossible.


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Posted by Spokker
a resident of another community
on Jun 4, 2009 at 12:32 am

I'm more scared of driving than I am of BART. Coming home tonight I saw two drivers run red lights like it was commonplace. One of them ran a red left arrow. What the hell? Every time I read about a hit and run on the news I call my girlfriend to make sure it wasn't her. I do not want to drive and I do not want her to drive. At least on the BART it's a crime when someone kills you. When another driver kills you, it's just an accident.


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Posted by California's already going broke
a resident of Downtown North
on Jun 4, 2009 at 8:29 am

Spokker, you live in LA. Of course you're not afraid of BART!

By the way, it is a crime to run a red light and kill someone. Maybe if you spent more time studying and less time posting to HSR boards, you could graduate from college and go to law school!


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Posted by jim
a resident of another community
on Jun 4, 2009 at 11:25 am

So, Jim H, you actually beleive that California is NOT going to grow. You think that 20 years from now the population and economy will be just the same as it is today? That there is no need for future investment? I know you don't think that. The arguments being submitted by nimbys here are so disingenuous, that they will never be taken seriously by anyone let alone a judge. Yes I am sure this will be built, no I don't have anything to gain by it being built other than having a much better way to get around the state. Most of us who have lived in California all our lives have friends and family ALL over the state ( not everyone spends the duration in an enclave) Most will welcome the increased mobility and the additional travel option. Like I said the state is growing and the population is not going to be made up of uppity rich white folks any more. By the way the younger generation strongly supports this as it will be a project that benefits them more than any of us. As all of our cities medium and large, become more urbanized, those people will demand this mobility. That's just the way it's gonna be. I understand you don't think it will benefit you personally, and you don't want to pay for it, personally, and you don't want it in your town personally, but for every one of you, there are millions of other who do. We all have to pay for stuff we don't want to pay for. I live in San Francisco, I pay and pay and pay. But that's life in California. The bucolic days of yesteryear are gone. I remember them, but they are gone. And the state's population does not look like it used to. You can roll with it, or you can circle your wagons and huddle together and shiver with the last of your kind.


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Posted by Sean
a resident of Midtown
on Jun 4, 2009 at 12:01 pm

Jim,

"By the way the younger generation strongly supports this"

Probably so, since they always support something that they think does not negatively impact them. However, those bucolic days are over. Increased bond indebtedness will have a large impact of them, as the state makes deep cuts in the education budget, parks, beaches, roads, etc., in order to make the intereestest payments on degraded bonds. It is only beginning to dawn upon thier virgin minds that costs have consequences, not just benefits.

The days of the California economic engine are over, as we have known them. It is going to be lean going for many years. If we had billions to toss at HSR, as an experiment for the future, I would support it, but we don't. HSR is not critical to California's economic growth, now or in the future. It is a slick system of convenience, not much more. This is not the time for frivolities.


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Posted by Sharon
a resident of Midtown
on Jun 4, 2009 at 12:16 pm


Project population growth rates for California have been drastically revised downwards and will never reach the size projected during the boom years.
Asian immigration has collapsed, even illegal immigrants are going south across the border.
California is not seen as the land of opportunity it once was.

HSR was dreamed up at a time when the future looked very different, it has become irrelevant.


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Posted by jim
a resident of another community
on Jun 4, 2009 at 12:21 pm

Again why not just be honest about why you don't want this instead of using ridicualous arguments such as "the days of california's economic engine are over" really? according to whom? a "slick system of convenience" well my oh my, god forbid we make life in california more convenient. Better to keep things as difficult as possible for all but those who can afford and prefer to fly and drive everywhere. Never mind everyone else. Yes it is a system of "convenience" that's the whole point. I'm glad you get that since so many nimbys are convinced that it won't be convenient. If I were you i'd be working out a solution with chsra to mitigate any impacts.


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Posted by Posted by California's already going broke
a resident of Downtown North
on Jun 4, 2009 at 12:45 pm

Jim, why don't YOU be honest about why you're so adamantly favoring HSR in the face of all the bona fide arguments against it, not the least of which are the economy and the fact that big ole trains are the solutions for yesteryear? Using the N word is a really lame way to try to make all the logic disappear. It just suggests that the user has no real arguments so must resort to name-calling.

HSR may be the answer to California's future challenges. It may not be. We don't know, because up until now the process has been totally dominated by a handful of politicians and developers (who had significant influence on the selection of the route in the central and southern parts of the state). CHSRA didn't even have a business plan (as had been required by the legislature) prior to the election, and the one it has submitted is full of holes, as outlined by the unbiased legislative analysts.

Anyone who says "HSR is great because I said so and everyone who disagrees is an idiot" might want to remember the old adage about pointing fingers!


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Posted by Sean
a resident of Midtown
on Jun 4, 2009 at 12:56 pm

Jim,

I have already listed the reasons why I oppose HSR at this point (above in this thread). It is essentially a realistic view of our economic circumstances, along with various serious limitations of HSR itself.

You are a true believer, and that is fine, but reality is about to dump all over you. San Francisco just announced cuts in its budget. The same thing will happen all over the state. Pie-in-the-sky conveniences, like HSR, are a thing of the past.

Any new infrastructure investments, at this juncture, need to be proven economic multipliers, like roads, dams, nuclear, etc. HSR is none of the above. I suppose I could envision a nexus between HSR and nuclear, but most of the activists that support HSR oppose nuclear. Hmmm, come to think about it, maybe that could become part of a grand compromise: Allow HSR to go to completion, as long as five new nuclear power plants are also approved in California.


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Posted by Truth
a resident of Midtown
on Jun 4, 2009 at 12:56 pm

California's already going broke,

Talk about the pot calling the kettle black with:

"Anyone who says "HSR is great because I said so and everyone who disagrees is an idiot" might want to remember the old adage about pointing fingers!"

And for this false information:

"CHSRA didn't even have a business plan (as had been required by the legislature) prior to the election, and the one it has submitted is full of holes, as outlined by the unbiased legislative analysts"

There was a business plan before the election, albeit a few years old.

Stop spreading false inofrmation. And yes, most of your arguements do boil down to "NIMBY". These cities have proven this in the past. i.e. BART


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Posted by Spokker
a resident of another community
on Jun 4, 2009 at 1:11 pm

"By the way, it is a crime to run a red light and kill someone."

As long as the driver sticks around and renders aid and wasn't drunk, they won't be going to jail.


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Posted by Jim
a resident of another community
on Jun 4, 2009 at 1:30 pm

The project is moving forward as we speak. At best, you may get a tunnel, at your own expense. Even that is unlikely. But knock yourselves out.


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Posted by jim
a resident of another community
on Jun 4, 2009 at 1:32 pm

I don't know anyone who is against nuclear power with the exception of rich white folks who don't want it in their back yard. It should be in our future and soon.


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Posted by jim
a resident of another community
on Jun 4, 2009 at 1:50 pm

Though California is in the throes of a budget crisis, Vice President Joe Biden said Wednesday that the state's high-speed rail project is well-positioned to compete for a *significant* share of the $8 billion that the Obama administration set aside in the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act for rail lines.

..."The reason why California is looked at so closely -- it's been a priority of your governor, it's been a priority of your Legislature, they've talked about it, a lot of planning has been done," Biden said in a conference call with reporters.

The vice president said the administration wants "to get shovel-ready projects out the door as quickly as we can. . . . So California is in the game," he said--

You'd better call the white house and let them know that california's economic engine is gone and we plan to just wither away so we won't be needing any federal money. In fact, we're building a giant "closed" sign in Truckee.


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Posted by OhlonePar
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Jun 4, 2009 at 1:56 pm

jim,

I'm not a "rich, white folk" but I do have big issues with nuclear power--the issue of disposal still has not been solved and I think there are a lot of health issues that have gone unexamined. Won't get into it here--but plenty of people don't like nuclear--even when it's a long ways from one's back yard.

Like you, I think, I'm a native and have been through several news cycles of California-no-longer-the-golden-state. That news peg comes up every ten years or so like clockwork. We're in a big fat mess right now, but, like you, I don't see anything permanent. Common sense and a new state constitution would solve a number of problems. And a more sensible, less sensational, governor than Arnie.

There will be growth again and given the shape of the state and the placement of its major cities, a HSR makes overall sense.

But there are people who are going to suffer as a result and some of those people live here. I don't see the point of insulting them or dismissing their concerns. You're not being asked to give something up.


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Posted by Jim
a resident of another community
on Jun 4, 2009 at 2:01 pm

I am giving something up as my neighborhood will also be impacted and I also pay taxes and I'd much rather the state return to the 70's. But that isn't going to happen. I also understand the concern of these neighbors but the arguments they are using are disingenuous. They need to stick with the honest reason for their opposition which is " we have everything we need and we don't care about the rest of the state and we don't want to be bothered by this thing" That is the truthful statement and if they expect to be taken seriously, and have a say, then they need to come from the truth and work from that point for an acceptable compromise.


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Posted by Sean
a resident of Midtown
on Jun 4, 2009 at 2:27 pm

Jim,

"I don't know anyone who is against nuclear power with the exception of rich white folks who don't want it in their back yard. It should be in our future and soon."

Does the CHSRA support nuclear power, in order to drive their high speed trains? All I seem to find, on its site, are fantasies about alternative energy sources, completely monopolized by them. Maybe I missed it. Please help me out, Jim.

If CHSRA is really behind nuclear power, I think that would place them in the camp of economic growth and reality. However, I simply cannot take your word for it. Can you provide some official references?


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Posted by OhlonePar
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Jun 4, 2009 at 3:01 pm

jim,

Since when has everyone being completely above-board about their motivations been part of politics? <g>

I don't think, though, it's simply a case of "we have everything we want"--I think it's more that--this is all we have and they might take it away from us. A lot of people who live here really stretched to manage it. Many people who own homes in Palo Alto only do so because they bought during a brief time when it was affordable for them. This is particularly true of those living next to the tracks--those are what pass for affordable around here.

So you have people who can't really afford to move--particularly given how bad the schools are in most districts and worried about whether they can stay. (Yes, people get rich down here, but those riches on paper can and have disappeared overnight. I used to know several multimillionaires. Now I don't, but I still know the same people.)

People who live here also have, largely, chosen not to live in the city, but we actually face a lot of pressure to turn into a more urban environment. So this is part of an ongoing issue here.

As you can see, I do favor HSR, but I do so in part because I think the outcome for PA won't be as dire as people fear--the trains should be quieter and less polluting than what's already there. I think there's a reasonable answer to the grade-crossing issue. While a PA rail station would be convenient, I've come round to the notion that Redwood City is a better fit for the station as the lay-out's better able to handle the traffic and a large garage. It's also farther away from RWC's residential areas.


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Posted by Paul Losch
a resident of Palo Alto
on Jun 4, 2009 at 3:40 pm

Paul Losch is a registered user.

One thing that has come up in this thread is the growth in population count, especially in the inland areas of the state. It has been offered up as one of the reasons why HSR can be beneficial, as it will improve access by people coming and going from places like Fresno to reach LA or the Bay Area. No argument from me conceptually around that assertion.

What sort of local transit systems do these projected fast growing cities have? Are they going to repeat the sprawl mistakes that other parts of California committed, or is there an opportunity to "re-boot" and anticipate patterns of local behavior around work and personal life before it actually presents itself?

My blog was teed up to help us understand better what is going on with local transit limitations and if the sorts of funds that HSR are targeting to receive could be better spent improving in built out areas local transit and anticipating how to develop intelligently local transit in those places that are projected to grow.

That is not a NIMBY question. That is not a safety on mass transit quetion. That is a huge policy question.

I look forward to more comments that follow that thread.


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Posted by PointOfView
a resident of Midtown
on Jun 4, 2009 at 3:51 pm

I oppose HSR now, in the way it is planned, not because of what it will do to Palo Alto homeowners. Palo Alto homeowners will see significant financial benefit if there is an HSR station in Palo Alto.

Not because I am jealous of those who would benefit by riding a fast, new train to visit their friends in another California city. My guess is that HSR would be fairly free of crime and peaceful to ride. The stations will also probably be OK while they are new.

I oppose HSR now because we as a state need to allocate our very limited financial and effective management resources toward things that will mitigate the looming costs to run the state.

We have shown an inability to effectively run mass transit. I concede that the population distributions make it difficult to bootstrap a functioning mass transit system. For example, in Santa Clara County, not enough people will pay enough (to ride) to allow growing the system; but the reason people won't pay enough is that the system is too primitive and needs to grow radically. It doesn't go enough places fast enough to be convenient. It costs more than the system brings in to grow.

The HSR plan itself doesn't have realistic financial analysis in it. But outside estimates include the overruns and annual operating costs. Those estimates put the thing in the "someday, maybe" category.

It's tempting to take federal money for it. But it's like getting a nodoc negative amortization mortgage to buy a house one can't afford.

A big mistake.


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Posted by OhlonePar
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Jun 4, 2009 at 4:35 pm

I agree that there are serious issues with HSR and it would be wonderful if our government could get its act together--and, boy, does that look unlikely in this state at this time. And, yes, the possibilities for financial mismanagement are legion.

That said, I think in favor of HSR is that there is already a lot of traffic between the Bay Area and LA. I think sprawl is less of an issue than it would be with freeways simply because there's added value to being near a station. It should encourage density in the Central Valley. (I consider this sort of a nonissue on the peninsula as our geography inherently deters sprawl.)

As for local transit not working and such. I'm old enough and local enough to have been around when BART opened. It did take a bit for people to get out of their cars and BART didn't become truly useful until the Transbay tunnel opened and enough trains ran so that transferring became unecessary for most trips.

But once that happened, it became very, very useful. It's a damn shame San Mateo County voted it down all those years ago because if it hadn't, there would have been loop around the bottom of the Bay. Not having BART down here didn't stop growth, but the worst sprawl in the Bay Area is down here and we have truly miserable traffic to go with it.

Light rail is fine as far as it goes, but that's the problem it doesn't go anywhere and because we sprawled without mass transit down here, it's harder now to design an effective system.

In contrast, check out the I-580 corridor in Livermore Valley--growth is very much centered on the freeway and BART line. I wish it weren't so darn ugly, but there's a basic sense to the pattern of growth.

Please keep in mind, by the way, that California had earlier mass-transit systems that were dismantled--LA had two large trolley systems that were basically bought and dismantled by General Motors in the 1940s to encourage car culture. Note the time line and when LA's sprawl happened.

So it's not a case of not being able to manage mass transit as there were specific groups interested in getting rid of mass transit. And, of course, oil was cheap back then.


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Posted by PointOfView
a resident of Midtown
on Jun 4, 2009 at 8:43 pm

?

No matter how plausible arguments to the contrary sound, I just cannot swallow the conclusion that our mass transit is good, or well run here. I directly observe the contrary. I've tried using it in big and small ways off and on for 30 years; including a stint living without a car just to be eco-friendly. A typical trade-off in time is 30 minutes door-to-door by car vs. two or three hours by mass transit.

Compared to any of the locations outside the US used to argue that HSR works, our local mass transit is pitiful and getting worse. Probably because it is trying to minimize its drain on government support.

HSR here, before local mass transit reaches critical mass, is likely to suffer the same fate.


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Posted by OhlonePar
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Jun 4, 2009 at 9:47 pm

PointOfView,

Two to three hours v. 30 minutes? What sort of public transit are you talking about? BART if you're within reasonable distance of a station at either end is faster at rush hour. I was a couple of miles away on one end and in walking distance at the other (in the Financial district). It worked quite well.

In New York, the subway is by far the fastest way to go north and south. I was sorry when they shut down the subway link to the airport--it was the one of guaranteeing that you could get to the airport during rush hour.

Mass transit is completely inadequate in San Mateo and Santa Clara counties.


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Posted by Jim H>
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Jun 4, 2009 at 9:55 pm

Investment in the future is great when you have the resources. Even if the state gets ALL $8B from the feds, plus the $9 from the bonds (which will need to be paid back, at some point), that leaves approx. $40B+ unaccounted for.

And I have family from Redding to San Diego, grew up in So. Cal. It has nothing to do with where I live.

You seem to think that if you bully people enough they'll listen to you.

Even when the economy turns around, do you honestly think the train will come close to making money? Do you think that the state can take on that extra burden? And what happens in 20 years during the next downturn when the payments on the bonds still need to be paid? What gets cut? Slash more from education, release maybe the "kinda violent" prisoners? For what? So we can have another way to get from Fresno to LA? So we can go from SF to SD a bit faster?

6.7M people voted for HSR last November, vs. 6M against So, when you say that it's only the rich white people in Palo Alto (where it actually passed in Santa Clara County) you're off base. It's a swing of 350K voters.

You also say that HSR is a HUGE need in the Inland Empire and Central Valley. According to the election results, not really. Fresno passed it by only 30K votes (55%), Merced by 4K (53%), San Joaquin 13K (53%) and Kern by 3K (51%). On the other hand Ventura, Riverside, Sacramento, San Diego, Santa Barbara, Orange, Kings, Tulare, Madera and Mariposa all voted against it. In fact, if it weren't for SF, passed by 200k (78%) and LA 300k (55%), along with San Mateo (61%), Santa Clara (60%) and Marin (65%), all Northern Counties, not Inland Empire or Central Valley, the Prop would have been dead last November.

So, it's not those "underserved" Inland and Central Valley people wanting it, it's the "I want more" Bay Area. And how often will people choose the train over the 3 major airports already at their disposal?

This is not about filling a need, it's about filling pocket books and egos.


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Posted by Jim
a resident of another community
on Jun 4, 2009 at 11:27 pm

i never said Chsra was involved in, for, or against or has anything to do with nuclear power.

You know what. If you guys want to spend you time and money fighting it, knock yourselves out. As for the price tag, we are gonna have to spend one way or another, on infrastructure, and as an investment, the growth and economic stimulus that results from that investment generates future revenue. I can't speak to how sacramento wastes that revenue except to say that we are wasting billions on prisons that don't work because voters seem to prefer revenge rather than rehabilitation and we are spending billions on schools because voters have tied the hands of lawmakers to make budgets- as a full one half of the state's revenue goes to schools at the expense for everything else we need. Add to that the burden of social services for populations who aren't entitled to them, if you want to talk about what we can and can't afford. Like I said earlier look at the costs of freeways and airports which only serve 2 parts of the transportation needs. This about bringing the third option up to par to serve those folks who use that option. I can tell you from first hand experience, and I work with the traveling public, the common folk, the ones who are a little rough around the edges, as well as commuters, domestic and international tourists, families of every economic means, and they are calling for this. You may not be but they are. But go ahead and do your thing too bad you didn't do it before the election.


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Posted by Jim
a resident of another community
on Jun 4, 2009 at 11:30 pm

Nest on the agenda will be a modification of prop 13 which is what sent the quality of life in california into a tailspin to begin with, as well asthe elimination of the two thirds requirement to pass a budget.


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Posted by Spokker
a resident of another community
on Jun 5, 2009 at 12:07 am

"Compared to any of the locations outside the US used to argue that HSR works, our local mass transit is pitiful and getting worse. Probably because it is trying to minimize its drain on government support."

Mass transit is not trying to minimize its drain on government support. Government is trying to minimize its support of mass transit. At least that's what's going on in California. The state transit assistance fund was cut and it dealt a fatal blow to many transit agencies that are now facing huge service cuts.

I would like to see government minimize its support of the personal automobile by stopping endless subsidies for highway construction, widening, free parking and protecting oil supplies in foreign lands.


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Posted by jim
a resident of another community
on Jun 5, 2009 at 12:44 am

California absolutely should do what they do back east and convert our freeways to tollways.


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Posted by PointOfView
a resident of Midtown
on Jun 5, 2009 at 4:07 am

If I select a mass transit station as my destination, and live near one, sure, it's not bad.

But take a distribution of the residential and work addresses in Santa Clara County or a random sample thereof, and corresponding typical trip destinations; use the online tools to calculate travel times. You will find things like getting to Target (or costco!) takes ten minutes to drive and an hour by mass transit. Go from a typical residence in Los Gatos or Saratoga or Sunnyvale to a friend in Mountain View or San Jose. Or a Zoo somewhere. Or an airport. Or the Tech Museum. A 10 - 15 minute walk to a bus stop; a bus that runs every 30 or 60 minutes, a wait then slow light rail, perhaps another wait and bus and another 20 minute walk. (True, with time and good weather one can usually enjoy and benefit from the walking).

You can cherry pick trips, but that means you maintain a car and a place to park it at home for the other trips; then there are only a few times when using mass transit makes sense.

Critical mass comes when a large number of people don't need a car or a place to keep it; one car per household suffices.

There is one thing that has improved over 30 years with our local mass transit: there are fewer canceled buses now.

In my experience, there are also cultural differences in places where people use mass transit effectively; e.g. we tend to shop more frequently and buy a smaller volume of stuff each time (and overall). When buying groceries, we tend not to buy as much frozen stuff. The stores adjust to this and carry appropriate stuff in appropriate packages.

But it's not just shopping. The cultural adjustment is driven by and reflects successful mass transit. We're just not there now.


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Posted by bruce Kline
a resident of Crescent Park
on Jun 5, 2009 at 10:57 am

I think some are jumping to the wrong conclusion, at least from posts after I said there is some danger riding public transit. Maybe the posts after were not in response to mine, but I just wanted to say I am not afraid to use public transit, but the violence and the bums are just one more reason not to that I do not have to face in my car. I have more freedom in my car and can set the environment as I like it.

I can bring what I like with me. I can take my bike. I can listen to music. I can regulate the temperature. I can go where I like when I like. I do not have to take any risk that someone in my car will attack me or harass me.

The downside is that productive time is taken to drive, and driving can be stressful too. I remember having to take the train for 2 weeks years ago, and it was nice to be able to relax and read or think.

All in all I would rather see more efficient smaller cars, and then in high-density areas mass transit, let us develop a system in the cities that works and refine that.

I also do not like the idea of balancing SF's budget on the backs of people who need to park their cars to do business there.


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Posted by bru
a resident of Crescent Park
on Jun 5, 2009 at 10:58 am

>California absolutely should do what they do back east and convert our freeways to tollways.

Yuck!


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Posted by jim
a resident of another community
on Jun 5, 2009 at 11:25 am

@ bru - by making them tollways, and stipulating that the money raised by each road goes directly to the upkeep and expansion of only road, users only pay for what they use and the quality of the driving experience will be greatly improved due to better maintenance and expansion and traffic management. In southern California this already being done and the roads are a much nicer alternative to the freeways.


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Posted by Jim H.
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Jun 5, 2009 at 11:26 am

If HSR is truly concerned with and is being built to serve the underserved populations of the central valley and inland empire, as has been put forth by some, then why on earth are they planning to start building the tracks from LA to Anaheim and follow up with SF to SJ?

Amtrak services LA to Anaheim and CalTrain takes care of the peninsula? Why not start from Fresno to LA or Fresno to SJ? And wouldn't those routes be a lot cleaner than building through the most heavily populated areas of the state? Shouldn't they make sure they know what they're doing in a place where they can't really screw anything up first?

Building a redundant transportation system when the goal is to bring it to ALL, is a huge sign that the motivation is publicity and money, and not necessity.


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Posted by jim
a resident of another community
on Jun 5, 2009 at 11:51 am

Jim H the reason for that is simple - they had planned to do the valley first originally, since the test track will be there but it happens that the sf-sj and la-ana portions are fare enough ahead in the eir process etc to qualify them for billions in ARRA funds and the white house ahving looked at californias project has pointed out that california is further ahead and more ready than any other corridor. so rather then pass up billions in federal money for the stat, they changed the plan.


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Posted by Jim
a resident of another community
on Jun 5, 2009 at 11:55 am

The sj-sf portion and the LA Anaheim portion were already in the process of upgrading, increasing capacity, and eliminating grade crossings so they are ahead of the game. This is construction that will also be more confined and it makes sense to get it started ( especially when the white house says - "billions") where as the valley potion will be the easiest stretch to upgrade. By doing the bay and al corridors first the local transit options also realize thwir own improvements and as pointed out before, these local transit overlays need improvement. Common sense has a way of prevailing.


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Posted by wary traveler
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jun 5, 2009 at 12:37 pm

>but it happens that the sf-sj and la-ana portions are fare enough ahead in the eir process etc to qualify them for billions in ARRA funds
That's not true. The CHSRA Staff did NOT include the SF-SJ segment in their recommendations to the Board at the May CHSRA meeting. Diridon was visibly agitated and refused to vote for that agenda item unless they changed the "NO" (as in, not ready) to a "YES". He said he'd double & triple the workforce to make up the schedule time in order to qualify for the Environmental Impact work. He also suggested that the Board "use the power of their personalities" to stop the bureaucratic administrative delays. You can listen to his rant on the 2009 Meetings section of the HSRA's Web Link. The discussion starts at around the 1:10 hour mark.

Diridon rammed the SF-SJ segment through. It's on tape.

I agree with Big-J Jim. It makes no sense to start with the two ends when 1) they're redundant to existing tracks; 2) they don't provide new service to regions that have no decent rail transportation options; 3) they test similar issues. The Staff knew what they were talking about when they recommended LA-Anaheim and Merced-Bakersfield. Both are far enough along in the EIR process to not jeopardize losing the ARRA funds, and they each test different aspects of the system. They should stagger the start of the SF-SJ leg and apply what they learn from the LA project up here.

This project is off to a bad start, thanks to terrible project management.


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Posted by Jim H.
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Jun 5, 2009 at 2:36 pm

That makes no sense Jim. Your reasoning is stumbling over itself. How does HSR improve SF-SF other than electrification, which will be done with or without HSR?

If the valley portion is the easiest and where the test track will be built, then why would you not start there?

If the CA HSR project is so far ahead of everyone else, then why would the feds hold money? You're saying that if CA started with Fresno, then the feds would give their money to a state that isn't even that far along? You sound like a politician.

If the central valley will benefit the most, then why didn't they start the EIR there in the first place? Why try to rush through SF/SJ? I'll tell you why, it's because Riordan and Kopp are both from the bay area and they want to get it done for their own personal reasons, not logical ones.

The votes are in SF and LA, and the money is in SF and LA. That is why they are starting there. It has NOTHING to do with common sense or logic.

You, yourself, said it's needed in the Central Valley and Inland Empire. If they built it from Fresno to LA and Fresno to SJ, and then ran out of money, at least the state would be connected via HSR between the 2 largest population centers. Getting from LA to Anaheim and SJ to SF is fairly easy.

You also said that HSR is not responsible for local transit, but now you're saying it'll improve local transit. HSR is not going to help me get anywhere outside of the train tracks. That is not an improvement to local transit.


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Posted by Bianca
a resident of Menlo Park
on Jun 5, 2009 at 3:41 pm

Jim H., you really need to come up with something else to say about HSR supporters. This accusation that HSR supporters must have something to gain financially is getting old and tired. And no matter how many times you keep repeating it, it still isn't true.

I have nothing to gain financially from building HSR. If the Federal government is willing to chip in stimulus money to help build it, great. Construction of HSR will create jobs in California that can't be outsourced. Construction of HSR will help get Caltrain's grade crossings separated. Those are good things.


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Posted by Jim
a resident of another community
on Jun 5, 2009 at 5:27 pm

you asked all the questions I already answered. The sf-sj and ana-lax portions will be shovel ready by 2012 and qill qualify for arra funds in the billions. And no there is no financial gain for me. quite frankly I don't even care which way the route goes as long as it gets to SF because I do live a few blocks from the stations and I would like to be able to leave town occasionally if you don't mind. I don't care if they put it in a tube under the beach between here and LA. thats not true - I need to be able to get to the valley.... but you get my point. I would like to have this travel option versus having to rent a car and drive for hours to get around, or spend all morning at the airport and there are millions of other californians who fell like I do - remember? they voted for it? remember that part?


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Posted by jim
a resident of another community
on Jun 5, 2009 at 5:45 pm

I must say though it seems like a lot of opposition here has to do with some kind of personal or political revenge against Kopp and Diridon. ( Kopp just seems really old and stodgy and diridon I don't know or care about either way, but someone had to step up and take the jobs.) It would appear that they have favored projects that you don't like or made decisions you don't like. That's politics. None of us gets to be happy with everything our leaders do.

But more importantly I have to ask... since when did the argument go from " we want a tunnel or trench" to "we disagree with the project" Either you were losing the "we want the tunnel" fight so you switched your strategy, or the "we want a tunnel" fight was a big fib to really try to kill the project. Somebody is telling stories here. ARe you "concerned" abut your fellow californians, really? or are you "concerned" about your back yards? You should all get on the same page so you don't have everyone telling a different tale.


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Posted by wary traveler
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jun 5, 2009 at 5:46 pm

>The sf-sj and ana-lax portions will be shovel ready by 2012 and qill qualify for arra funds in the billions.
That's not what Exec. Director Mehdi Morshed reported at the Board Meeting. He said that, based on his consultants' reports, it's not very likely they'd complete the SF-SJ project environmental clearance by the federal deadline and that it'd be risky to go to the federal government and make a commitment that they could.

He went on to say that the LA-Anaheim segment isn't an issue because they've been working on it for over 2 years and have most of the issues resolved.

Just because you, Diridon and other HSR enthusiasts want soemthing to be true doesn't make it so. Diridon is on a false-information campaign. You'll be hearing a lot of him in the media in the next few weeks as he "uses the power of his personality" (good luck with that, Rod) to sway the public. Don't believe everything you read, especially if Diridon's quoted.


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Posted by wary traveler
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jun 5, 2009 at 5:52 pm

Responding to your last comment, Jim, you seem to be oblivious to the fact that Palo Alto has more than one citizen. We haven't picked a spokesperson, either. [Portion removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]


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Posted by jim
a resident of another community
on Jun 5, 2009 at 5:53 pm

[Post removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]


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Posted by Jim
a resident of another community
on Jun 5, 2009 at 6:18 pm


CORRECTED VERSION
High-Speed Train Board Approves Federal Stimulus Proposal
Shovel-ready projects likely qualify for $8 billion in federal funding
Sacramento, CA – California high-speed train officials Thursday approved a list of
shovel-ready construction projects likely to qualify for $8 billion in federal stimulus
funding for high-speed trains.
The nine-member California High-Speed Rail Authority Board gave the go-ahead to add
the projects to the state's official request for a portion of the high-speed and intercity rail
funding under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) by the expected
August 1, 2009 submittal deadline.
Federal rail officials have established initial criteria for ARRA grants to complete
individual projects that are "ready to go" with preliminary engineering and environmental
work completed and that demonstrate "independent utility."
"We are confident that California's system is well ahead of every other high-speed train
project in the country and should be a leading candidate to receive stimulus funding,"
said Board Chairman Quentin Kopp. "Ours is the only one with billions of dollars in voter-
approved state funding committed to the project, with environmental clearances already
in place and with construction elements already identified and ready to go."
The project elements selected by the Board on Thursday are spread throughout
California's planned 800-mile system. They include:

***1. The entire Los Angeles-to-Anaheim and San Francisco-to-San Jose corridors, ***
where the Authority is expected to have completed the project level
environmental document, and qualified and selected design build teams to begin
construction of the sections by the 2012 deadline.

2. Identification, selection and negotiation of right-of-way acquisition in the Merced-
to-Bakersfield section, including the system's planned maintenance facility.

Authority staff also will work before the deadline to identify other "shovel ready" projects
outside the three corridors identified above that advance the Authority's high-speed rail
plan and that meet the federal criteria, according to CHSRA Executive Director Mehdi
Morshed.

and why did you remove my question pertaining to what this weeks position is? are we tunneling, re re routing? or killing?


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Posted by PAcircus
a resident of another community
on Jun 5, 2009 at 6:44 pm

[Post removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]


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Posted by wary traveler
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jun 5, 2009 at 6:45 pm

Jim, that's a press release where they get to spin what transpired in the Board Meeting in any direction that suits them. Please listen to the May Board meeting Web Link to understand that the Staff and Exec Director did NOT recommend SJ-SF. The Board voted for it because of Diridon's temper tantrum. No amount of press release spin changes that fact.


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Posted by wary traveler
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jun 5, 2009 at 6:48 pm

Getting back to Paul's original point about the economics of HSR, let's look at a few facts which shine light on where the CHSRA is getting their money. They've been dipping into the state budget – money that could be spent on schools, local transportation improvements, etc. For a state that's in a budget crisis, the legislators should be redirecting the CHSRA to their Private investors. A nearly broke state is in no position to be making loans to an agency that's required by law to also finance their project through private investors.
The Bay Area Monitor has an informative article, "High-Speed Rail's Funding Puzzle". Web Link

"In addition to the $9 billion approved by voters, other sources of funding for the project, according to Kopp, include: $2 to $3 billion from local and regional agencies; $12 to $16 billion from federal grants, including the recently-passed stimulus bill; and $6.5 to $7.5 billion from private sources."
"Regarding state funding, Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger recommended $123 million for high-speed rail projects across the state for the 2009-2010 fiscal year, according to Kopp. The Authority's urgent need for the $29.1 million loan [from the Pooled Money Investment fund] is due in part to the freezing of funds resulting from the state budget crisis, according to Joe de Anda, a spokesman for State Treasurer Bill Lockyer. Whether the loan will be provided hinges on the state's cash flow, which in turn, depends on a $6.5 billion bond sale that took place in late March."
I've heard that the Senate Budget Committee agreed to grant half the requested $29.1 million loan from the Pooled Money Investment fund to finance the CHSRA through June. When the CHSRA comes back knocking on Sacramento's door for more they should be told, "sorry, we already gave. Go knock on your Private Investors' doors."


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Posted by PAcircus
a resident of another community
on Jun 5, 2009 at 7:06 pm

STILL HURT!!!! WAHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH PA online staff??


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Posted by jim
a resident of another community
on Jun 5, 2009 at 7:44 pm

Well I guess if I have to wonder whether to believe the voters, cities, people in charge of the project, my own mayor, my president, my governor and largest california cities, or believe a handful of uppity white folks from Palo Alto ( which by the way isn't all that when compared to the bay areas best neighborhoods) who 's only goal is to kill the project for their own selfish reasons. I think I'll believe the people who actually know what they are doing. But dream on. By the way, you are having another workshop in september so come prepared with your suggestions.


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Posted by Jim H.
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Jun 5, 2009 at 7:51 pm

OK, let's assume that no one here is going to gain financially here. I won't mention it.

We've been told it's NEEDED in the central valley, but they didn't vote for it. The counties that voted for it were primarily Santa Clara and north to Marin. The tracks will be first built in the areas where it is most redundant. Does that make sense? The EIR's are going to be completed in LA and SF first because that's where they started the EIR's first. Why didn't they start the EIR's where the train will be the most useful (according to HSR folks)?

Is the logic that the feds are giving away a portion of the money so let's beg, borrow and steal the rest of it, even if it's not the greatest idea?

It will create jobs? Sure it will. Could have built an airport in Fresno, too. There are hundreds of ways to create jobs.

As far as what I'm concerned about, personally (I only speak for myself), is that CA will dig itself into a deeper hole and put it's future at risk. That when this rail system, like so many others in the state and country (Caltrain/Amtrak come to mind), go in the red, that the state will be cutting the essentials while paying for the luxuries.

I just don't see how that makes sense. I've yet to hear anyone argue how it's going to succeed and make money. The pro arguments are all "we need it", "it'll create jobs" "it's good for mother earth". There's nothing concrete.

And to say that the millions of people voted for it, is a bit misleading, since millions of people voted against it as well. It only passed by 700K votes. And, when CAHSR is forecasting 90M people riding it every year, I wonder where they'll come from.

And the Caltrain grade separation will come with or without HSR. And as Jim pointed out in defense of HSR, the recession will eventually be over, we won't need to find busy work for people forever.

See nothing about monetary gains. Just common sense.


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Posted by Jim H.
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Jun 5, 2009 at 7:55 pm

jim,
why always the "uppity white folk" reference? Do you racially stereotype everyone? Very appealing. It shows your true character.

That's a good idea. Believe those EMPLOYED by CAHSR and the politicians.

I notice you've backed off the "millions of people in the central valley want and need this project. I know them, I've talked to them. blah, blah, blah."

Go back to the name calling. You're better at that than using actual arguments.


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Posted by jim
a resident of another community
on Jun 5, 2009 at 8:18 pm

I sell rail tickets to those people and I do know them and they do want it and those counties did vote for it. and I've been to Pa and you are a bunch of uppity white folks, and yes I do stereotype people because having been in customer service for 30 years I know the truth as seen by me everyday of my life. i have a very wealthy best friend whohas many good and very very wealthy friends in PA and we have discussed this and I know just what these folks attitude is. ( thus previous comments from PA residents " it will bring the wrong kind of people to our town") I'm not saying its bad to be uppity if you can afford it, but, don't deny it. So let's just see what happens. I'll waive from my window as I pass. Perhaps Ill come down and loiter around town and bother people on my day off. I'll be the one wearing shoes from payless.


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Posted by PointOfView
a resident of Midtown
on Jun 5, 2009 at 8:42 pm

Has anyone started the initiative process to stop or postpone this waste of money, now that it has become clear to more people that we actually have to pay it?

Surely there's a cheaper, better way for the state to stick it to the white PA folks.


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Posted by California's already going broke
a resident of Downtown North
on Jun 5, 2009 at 8:49 pm

Since rich people are the only ones who will be able to afford to ride HSR (as is the case with every other HSR system in the world) why shouldn't the CHSRA care what they think? They are the future customers. Jim's just plain non-uppity folks won't be able to afford HSR, so no worries about their coming to town.

Speaking of money, I just received the saddest letter about the state cuts in education. Hundreds of thousands of students will not be able to receive an education, and yet there's money to build tracks that parallel existing train tracks? I suppose we should be grateful for those HSR jobs; our uneducated population will be fortunate to be earning their living as train conductors and dining car workers for tourists from other countries that do value education. Ironic, you think?


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Posted by jim
a resident of another community
on Jun 5, 2009 at 8:49 pm

no, after much thought and consternation, we're all pretty sure this is the best way.


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Posted by Jim
a resident of another community
on Jun 5, 2009 at 8:55 pm

If we weren't pissing away half our total net worth failing schools and social services for deadbeats we wouldn't be broke. These budget cuts will be a good cleansing so we can get back to basics. The non rich folks will be able to afford a ticket because the first class tickets will cover the difference. and its a bad idea to talk smack about waiters you know... I wouldn't. but there you go again, your uppityness is showing.


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Posted by Spokker
a resident of another community
on Jun 5, 2009 at 8:56 pm

"Speaking of money, I just received the saddest letter about the state cuts in education."

Tell your grandma to stop sending you chain emails.


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Posted by Jim H.
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Jun 5, 2009 at 9:16 pm

Let's piss the other half away on the train. Makes sense.

Back to basics?

Oh wait, jim sells rail tickets. No wonder he's pro train and anti education. How's that GED working out for ya!

I think I hear the butler calling me for my cigar and cognac. Ta-ta.


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Posted by jim
a resident of another community
on Jun 5, 2009 at 9:32 pm

i know there's a lot of concern about ridership numbers. I wanted to see for myself way back when before the election and I applied some basic math with what I know about rail ridership and so lets take a look at a simple breakdown. Now granted there are thousands of possible city pairs but lets take one of CHSRA's own "inflated" numbers. To reach their revenue goal they assume approx 7 million riders per year on the bay-LA route. this excludes everyone else - it only includes people who are traveling from the bay to la just like you would if you flew. Now. 7 million per year" wow that's a lot huh! okay well, and pardon my math as I only have "some college" as I didn't have the benefit of living stanford adjacent and absorbing al those smarts via osmosis... or is that reverse osmosis? but I digress) okay now Im going to ournd numbers too - so 7 million "bay-LA-ers" 7,000,000 / 365 days = 19,000 riders per day. now half of those people will go south and half will come north. so 19,000/2 = 9,500 each way. 9,500 people per day ride the train from the bay to LA. Now stay with me... There will be four bay area stations. so we know that some will have more folks than others but we'll keep it simple and dived by four. 9,500 per day divided by 4 station = 2400 riders per day per station. Now hsr is assuming too many trains I think. but lets say there are only 2 trains per hour not 6. One train, every half hour on the half hour x 24 hours. thats 48 southbound trains per day. 2400 riders per station / 48 trains = 50 people per station per train. and that prediction is based not on todays pop. but for the year 2030. Now I don't know about you, but Im pretty sure that by the year 2030, each of the bay area hsr stations will be able to muster up 50 people per train to get on. Be a dear and check my math.


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Posted by jim
a resident of another community
on Jun 5, 2009 at 9:34 pm

I can see your neighborhood you know. ... and I'm confident that you don't have a butler.


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Posted by what I know
a resident of Menlo Park
on Jun 5, 2009 at 10:26 pm

During the Prop 1A campaign, Kopp continually said they were looking to carry 117,000,000 passengers / year. Then when they finally came up with a new business plan, which even the Authority now admits is not adequate and which they must redo by Jan 2010 in order to get their funding for 1/2 of next year, the new number was 55,000,000.

Now the FRA estimated around 23,000,000 passengers and the Reason report was close to that number as well. The transportation institute at UC Berkeley also disputes the numbers the Authority keeps sending out.

It has all been one big lie, and thus far they have managed to keep it going. Right now, nobody cares at all about what the project is supposed to provide, what they care about is getting as much money from the Feds as possible. It is all about the money folks. Think about the billions that are supposed to come to California to be used for the project. The Authority must now undergo an Audit, which was just approved this week. Worrying about what might come from this audio, Galgiani managed to get it delayed until September and the results won't be know until Feb-March of 2010. The idea is by that time they will have secured as much funding from the stimulus package as possible.


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Posted by wary traveler
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jun 5, 2009 at 10:56 pm

What I know--
That's funny, Diridon was on KGO last month saying very clearly that the expected ridership is 94,000,000. I guess this was part of his "powers of personality" campaign.

If the numbers are changing from 117 to 94 to 55 to 23 million, what does that do to their business plan? Are they required to update it, and if it shows that they're no longer profitable, what then? Because Prop 1A passed, does it mean we're stuck with a boondoggle?

BTW, there's a two year extension on the 2010 business plan deadline.


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Posted by Spokker
a resident of another community
on Jun 5, 2009 at 10:56 pm

"During the Prop 1A campaign, Kopp continually said they were looking to carry 117,000,000 passengers / year. Then when they finally came up with a new business plan, which even the Authority now admits is not adequate and which they must redo by Jan 2010 in order to get their funding for 1/2 of next year, the new number was 55,000,000."

Actually, there are a wide range of ridership and ticket price combinations that produce a variety of revenue amounts in different scenarios. It's in this document on page 10.

Web Link


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Posted by jim
a resident of another community
on Jun 5, 2009 at 11:25 pm

Even with the lower numbers of 22 million, and an 'average" ticket price of 100 bucks, less for coach more for upgrades) that's still more than 2 billion per year in revenue. Or we can continue to do this Web Link


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Posted by what I know
a resident of Menlo Park
on Jun 6, 2009 at 7:27 am

Boy Jim --- you really need to go back to study arithmetic. They aren't talking about $100 / passenger trip fare, Much much less. A lot of the trips will be short trips, not going from SF to LA or Disneyworld. You better hold to your current job working for the railroad, because you will never make it in the tough world where real economics come into play.

What is really going to be the show stopper here is when they have to come in with real construction cost bids. That's when we learn that this project will make the cost over runs on the bay bridge look puny. Then when we lean that the projected cost of going from SF to San Jose, which they say will cost 4.5 billion, will cost at least 9 billion. That 9 billion won't cover the tunnel needed to get from 4th street in SF to the Trans Bay terminal either. That cost will add another 2 -3 billion. Why do you think Kopp is trying to stop the project at 4th street, even though Prop 1A stated it was to go all the way to the Trans Bay Terminal.

You can figure deep bore tunneling in the Palo Alto area at around $1 billion per mile for the 4 tracks, minimum needed. That's why Palo Alto will never get a tunnel, and neither will Atherton and Menlo Park.


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Posted by Jim H.
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Jun 6, 2009 at 8:31 am

The problem is that no one ever said that HSR will be profitable. 1A only says that "passenger revenue will, at least, cover some of the costs." Duh. Once one paying customer gets on the train, SOME of the costs are covered.

The only way private investors pitch in is if CAHSRA guarantees them a decent return on their money. The only way they can do that is to subsidize and get it from the taxpayers.

Unless, of course, HSR turns out to be the greatest thing in the world, is wildly successful and everyone is happy. But, even the HSR folks avoid pretending that will actually happen.


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Posted by anonymous
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jun 6, 2009 at 8:37 am

The irony is that successful HSR will crowd out cheap train tix and push Jim's current customers to the cheaper SF-LA Chinatown bus.

I think it's hard to judge the business case, the costs will overrun, overall HSR will turn out to be a positive for the state and mitigation of route problems is reasonable. HSR runs through a lot of backyards statewide. It's reasonable that abutters have their issues heard and addressed. If it was up to me I'd run the thing from SJC to Moffett, SFO and Transbay up the Bay. All facilities with existing transit connections and space for parking.

The whole thing is so mind-bogglingly expensive that the difference between $40B and $60B doesn't turn the dial on the business case.

I also wish it extended past Sacramento to Truckee. I'd be on a fast PA to Truckee train pretty often. LA yes. Fresno: for me, not so much. It's not elitism; I just don't have anything to do in Fresno. I'd also consider a car-train option, since a car is pretty useful when you arrive in LA.


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Posted by jim
a resident of another community
on Jun 6, 2009 at 11:11 am

Posted by what I know, a resident of Menlo Park, 3 hours ago

Boy Jim --- you really need to go back to study arithmetic. They aren't talking about $100 / passenger trip fare, Much much less. A lot of the trips will be short trips, not going from SF to LA or Disneyworld. You better hold to your current job working for the railroad, because you will never make it in the tough world where real economics come into play."

--If you had read my post correctly You would have seen the part where I clearly stated that the numbers I was using were not for the short trips. I only used the authorities numbers for one segment la-sf trips only. the number of 7 million if la-sf riders only. and the ticket price of 100 is an average ticket price. all tickets do not cost the same. some are 75 some , such as last minute and business and first class are much higher. (75 in 2030 is today's 55) so my numbers were correct. do the math again. as for the hsr being competition for existing rail. It doesn't work that way in transportation. connections and overlays bring all ridership up. Overlay services also become feeder services.


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Posted by jim
a resident of another community
on Jun 6, 2009 at 11:16 am

Boy "what I know" perhaps you should brush up on your (1A )reading and comprehension skills if you're going to make it in the tough world of reader comments.


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Posted by wary traveler
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jun 6, 2009 at 11:48 am

Where are you getting your $100 figure from, jim? Last I heard, the SF-LA ticket price was $55.


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Posted by jim
a resident of another community
on Jun 6, 2009 at 12:06 pm

Im using 100 as an AVERAGE ticket price dude. AVERAGE. based on the fact that NOT EVERY TICKET is that price. Ticket prices vary based on availability. First of all the 55 ticket price is today's dollars. The numbers Im using are the year 2030 est. numbers. ok? the estimated price for 2030 in 2030 dollars is $77. That does not mean every ticket is 77 dollars any more than every ticket to LA on southwest is 59 dollars. Rail tickets use fare buckets just like plane tickets. 55 (77 in 2030) is the basic advanced purchase, restricted D fare. BAsed on demand, rail fare buckets are structured just like air fare buckets. advance purchase with some restrictions, regular Y full fare fuly refundable no restrictions and a variety of other fare plans in between. That's for coach. Upgrades include and accommodation charge. Just like a first class ticket to LA on United is NOT 59 dollars nor will a first class ticket on the train be. 100 is an average. based on a typical distribution of fare buckets per demand. More demand, prices go up, first come first served, just like air travel. and again - Im using the numbers for LA SF express travel not other segments. They predict 7.3 million. trips for LA SF express riders. the average fare being paid on the train would likely be higher than 100 dollars. but many people will have the cheap tickets. EVerybody knows how this. Early bird gets the worm. Certainly you have booked a flight before?


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Posted by wary traveler
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jun 6, 2009 at 12:12 pm

Let me make myself clearer: cite your references. $55 is at Web Link. Your turn.


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Posted by jim
a resident of another community
on Jun 6, 2009 at 12:24 pm

Using the hsr ridership numbers, you wind up with a southbound train from the bay area to la with 200 people on board. 200 people going from the bay to the la area ( this is not counting the valley folks) 250 people. so lets say its a short train, 250 hundred seats. There are four fare buckets and three classes of service. So you may have. out of those 200 seats, 50 at D
($77) 50 at B($86) 50 at A($99) and 50 at Y($125) plus you have 25 people who paid the first class upgrade ($225) and 25 people who paid the business class upgrade.($145)

that gives you ticket revenue for that train of $28,570 which is an average ticket price of $114.28


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Posted by Jim
a resident of another community
on Jun 6, 2009 at 12:27 pm

did you really think that 55 dollars today would be 55 in 2030? did you really think that a first class ticket and a business class ticket and a last minute ticket and an advance purchase ticket would all be the same price?


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Posted by jim
a resident of another community
on Jun 6, 2009 at 12:37 pm

Baseline high-speed train fares for trips between regions were set so that the Los
Angeles to San Francisco fare would be half of the average air fare from the SCAG
airports to Bay Area airports, or $55 in 2005$$. There are tow sets of numbers, one pertaining to pricing at half the average airfare and how many riders and how much revenue that will bring in and one based on 3/4 the average airfare and how many riders and how much revenue that will bring in. I used the lower ridership numbers and the 3/4 of air fare ticket price. then average it out, per fare buckets, and adjust for 20 years worth of inflation and you easily get an average ticket price - AVERAGE ticket price around 100 bucks in 2030 dollars. If the system opens in 2020 and builds ridership for 10 years, It matches the experience with other systems.


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Posted by Sharon
a resident of Midtown
on Jun 7, 2009 at 12:40 pm



This is Voodoo economics,
business people would not use HSR, it was dreamed up before the technology breakthroughs in group ware, teleconferencing and Telepresence see Cisco.

Families would not use it because a car is cheaper, better and ultimately faster.

Local commuters would not use it because there would be too few stations.

It would end up like the trains that run across Australia, heavily subsidized by tax payers, with only old age pensioners for ridership.

Pigs will fly before HSR connects SF to LA


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Posted by Tom West
a resident of another community
on Jun 8, 2009 at 11:26 am

"business people would not use HSR, it was dreamed up before the technology breakthroughs in group ware, teleconferencing and Telepresence see Cisco."
Really? Then why do they continue to fly and drive all over the place for meetings then?


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Posted by stephen levy
a resident of University South
on Jun 13, 2009 at 5:25 pm

stephen levy is a registered user.

I am not a fan of HSR BUT

I am a regular Southwest patron between LA and SJ.

Last Thursday I had one of those great old time 5 hour flights--and that is with all cabs, no parking or rentals and a business select ticket that got me on an earlier flight.

It was interesting to remember the flight world that HSR anticipated when the first plans were drawn


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Posted by Sharon
a resident of Midtown
on Jun 13, 2009 at 5:42 pm


Next time try John Chambers solution.
He is the CEO of CISCO and conducts most of his his important meetings by Telepresence from his office or home.
Senator Reid has backed out of the HSR from LA to LV, it was a boondoggle that made no economic sense, he now admits that, no market no need, no rational business plan.


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Posted by stephen levy
a resident of University South
on Jun 13, 2009 at 7:17 pm

stephen levy is a registered user.

Well Sharon, I did read your repetitive post for your idea the first five times you posted it.

It may be a fine idea for some people but it doesn't work for me and the people I am asked to talk to.

You put your idea out there--time to let it go and respect the people it doesn't work for.


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Posted by Sharon
a resident of Midtown
on Jun 13, 2009 at 7:27 pm


I am sorry, now that CISCO is in the DOW IA replacing GM other companies will rapidly adopt their management practices
I understand that this may be difficult for some old timers, but the future economic wealth engine for California is new tech that increases productivity and that we can export and sell.
Not old, tired technology that our competitors are trying to dump on us.