High-Speed Rail Committee hopes to change name, focus

Move by Palo Alto City Council subcommittee would reflect widening of purview

With Caltrain poised to declare massive service cuts, the Palo Alto City Council's High-Speed Rail Committee is hoping to broaden its scope to encompass the local commuter line as well as state plans for high-speed rail.

Members of the committee Thursday (Feb. 3) proposed a name change as well -- to City Council Rail Committee -- to officially widen their area of responsibility to the study of and influence over all rail systems passing through the city.

Previously the committee studied and critiqued high-speed rail's proposed design and cost. Caltrain and the planned high-speed rail line would use the same tracks.

"If light-rail were to come to Palo Alto, wouldn't we want it to fall into the purview of this committee?" member Pat Burt said during Thursday's meeting.

The name change is more political than procedural. Caltrain is the only public transportation service in the Bay Area that lacks a dedicated funding source and is in a financial crisis. Committee members hope to influence funding plans for the flagging transit system.

Council member Nancy Shepherd suggested the committee send a letter to the Peninsula Corridor Joint Powers Board, which governs Caltrain, suggesting an independent ridership study in addition to the one conducted by California High-Speed Rail Authority's experts. Shepherd also argued that the committee's stronger association with struggling Caltrain may put the committee in a better position to negotiate with the rail authority.

"Caltrain owns the right-of-way, and we have much more of a relationship with Caltrain than with the High-Speed Rail Authority," she said.

The committee's proposed name change may not reflect a change in direction as much as a changed strategy.

"Why don't we divorce high-speed rail?" Chair Larry Klein asked as the meeting concluded.

"Or get a pre-nup," Shepherd added.

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Like this comment
Posted by Nayeli
a resident of Midtown
on Feb 3, 2011 at 4:42 pm

Web Link


Like this comment
Posted by yes
a resident of Midtown
on Feb 3, 2011 at 8:56 pm

Yes, the city should be intimately involved with Caltrain and VTA public transit. Caltrain is a critical service to city residents and employers located within the city.

Like this comment
Posted by Coffee
a resident of Crescent Park
on Feb 4, 2011 at 3:48 pm

Wake up folks. They are letting Caltrain bleed to death so the white night Highspeed Rail can come "save" it. There are bigger forces at work here. The Peninsula is just a place in between Point A and Point B to them. San Francisco would just as soon see Caltrain go away and be replaced by a high speed rail that expresses its way through the Peninsula with no stops. They are competing for the high tech jobs to fill the new Transbay Tower and South of Market area and the associated tax revenue. They don't want to be the bedroom community for the high tech employers in Silicon Valley. Santa Clara County is willing to sell out their consituents just to get the precious Diridon station and the legitimacy that San Jose has always desperately craved, not to mention the development that goes around it. San Mateo County's piece of the action is a high speed station in Redwood City to provide the catalyst for growth they lack and the small Burlingames can take a hike with the rest of the smaller towns on the Peninsula that don't seem to matter and are just in the way. The big guys are making their development a zero sum game where they win and the small towns and now too-inconvenient-to-get to-jobs on the peninsula lose. Don't know how to outfox them as the chickens already seem to have flown out of the coop with this manufactured "crisis."

Like this comment
Posted by Casey
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Feb 6, 2011 at 8:47 am

"No Speed Rail"?

Like this comment
Posted by Jay Tulock
a resident of another community
on Feb 7, 2011 at 1:39 pm

Here is how to outfox them Coffee.

Stop being NIMBYs on this issue and realize everyone in the state who is against this has the same problem, namely the High Speed Authority and those who will benefit monetarily from this hoax. Everyone in the state opposed get together, sing Kumbaya, and work towards one goal, an initiative in 2012 to defund the High Speed Authority by reversing Propo 1A. We all win.

Jay Tulock, Vacaville

Like this comment
Posted by andreas
a resident of Ventura
on Feb 16, 2011 at 10:46 am

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (Feb. 16) — Florida Gov. Rick Scott canceled plans for a high-speed train line between Orlando and Tampa promoted by President Barack Obama, saying Wednesday it would cost the state too much even with $2.4 billion in federal help.

Cost overruns could put Florida on the hook for another $3 billion and once completed, there's a good chance ridership won't pay for the operating cost, meaning the state would have to pump more money into the line each year, Scott said.

Sorry, but further commenting on this topic has been closed.

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