News

Report: High-speed rail to launch in Silicon Valley

California High Speed Rail Authority's new plan calls for connecting region to Central Valley in first phase

California's high-speed rail system would make its debut in the Bay Area, with bullet trains whisking passengers between San Francisco and Bakersfield by as early as 2025, under a business plan that the California High-Speed Rail Authority released Thursday.

The proposal to start the San Francisco-to-Los Angeles rail system in the northern half of the route is an abrupt, though not wholly unexpected, change of direction for a project that received approval from California voters in 2008 but that has since been saddled with cost-overruns, lawsuits and political opposition in the Peninsula and beyond.

Last fall, the California High-Speed Rail Authority made a surprising announcement that it was launching an environmental analysis on the San Francisco-to-San Jose segment, a decision that perplexed local officials and rail watchdogs. Up to that point, the rail authority had indicated that the first usable segment would be constructed in the Central Valley and that the line would only later be expanded to San Francisco and Los Angeles.

The new business plan also includes a lower cost estimate for the project than the 2014 plan. The price tag, pegged at $67.6 billion two years ago, now stands at $64.2 billion. The business plan states that the rail authority achieved this decrease by "factoring in lessons learned from our first construction bids, design refinements suggested in those proposals and other reviews, advancing more detailed engineering and design work and incorporating contractors' viewpoints."

The rail authority is proposing to invest $2.1 billion from these savings in transportation improvements between Los Angeles and Anaheim. Planned improvements include grade separation of the railroad tracks, improved regional rail services and new tracks between Los Angeles and Anaheim, which would support high-speed rail in the future, according to the business plan.

The most dramatic change announced in the plan, however, isn't the shifting price tag but the rail authority's pivot toward Silicon Valley and San Francisco. The decision to launch the system in this region was driven by the agency's goal of "getting a high-speed passenger line into operations as quickly as possible," the plan states.

The agency's analysis -- which considered funding sources, travel-speed requirements and revenue projections -- indicated that the segment that could be built most quickly (and turned into a revenue generator) would be between Silicon Valley and the Central Valley, with the southern tip ending just north of Bakersfield.

This portion, the business plan notes, can be built with funding from Proposition 1A bonds (the 2008 bond measure that included $9.95 billion for high-speed rail and related transit improvements), along with federal funds and proceeds from the state's cap-and-trade program.

Private investment, which has not materialized to date, is expected to play a central role in the ultimate build-out for the high-speed-rail project, which eventually would stretch to Sacramento and to San Diego.

But according to the business plan, the rail authority is not banking on private funds for the first segment. Once the passenger service is running between the Bay Area and Central Valley, it will generate revenues that could then "unlock private dollars to continue sequencing the rest of the system," the plan predicts.

Though the focus of the first phase is to link Silicon Valley and Central Valley, the plan makes a case for extending the first operating line a bit further, so that it stretches between San Francisco and Bakersfield.

This extended line, the plan states, "would significant enhance ridership and revenues and therefore attract higher value private sector concession bids based on future discounted cash flows."

The rail authority plans to build the line by 2024 and launch the passenger service in 2025. The new document calls the implications of connecting the two Valleys "tremendous." Completing the link "will change how people travel, work, live and play."

"Today it takes about three hours to drive from Fresno to the Bay Area; flights are available but often at exorbitant prices," the business plan states. "With this new connection, a trip from Fresno to San Jose will take about an hour on high-speed rail, which is a game changer both for the people and the economy of the Central Valley and for Silicon Valley as well.

"New job markets will be opened up for people living in the Central Valley, and creating a high-speed connection to the Central Valley would help address the affordable housing crisis in the Bay Area," the plan states.

"New linkages will be created between higher education institutions in the Central Valley and high-tech and other cutting-edge industries in the Silicon Valley. And some high-tech companies might choose to locate certain corporate functions in the Central Valley, where commercial real estate is less expensive, generating new job opportunities in this region."

The business plan estimates that if the system is built between San Francisco and Bakersfield, it would attract 5.1 million riders in 2025, its first year of operation. Ridership would then grow to 7.1 million in 2026 and to 9 million in 2027.

The system still faces significant hurdles, including a pending lawsuit from Central Valley landowners (which was subject to court hearings earlier this month), uncertainty over future funding sources beyond the first segment, and political opposition. While Palo Alto officials aren't as adamantly opposed to the high-speed rail line as they were in 2011, when the City Council unanimously adopted a resolution calling for the project's termination, council members continue to be concerned about the impacts of the new rail system on local traffic, particularly around rail crossings.

Today, the Palo Alto council's top priority is achieving grade separation of the Caltrain tracks, which would mean either submerging the tracks under the crossing streets or vice versa. A coalition of Peninsula cities that includes Palo Alto, Mountain View and Cupertino recently endorsed a funding plan that would allocate $900 million for grade separations.

Yet the business plan suggests that grade separation is not part of the plan for the Peninsula, at least in the near term. In its "core values" section, the business plan commits the rail authority to grade separation in the "dedicated high-speed-rail right of way," where there will be no at-grade crossings.

For the "blended corridors" (i.e., the Peninsula, where high-speed rail will use the Caltrain tracks), the plan proposes quad gates and intrusion-detection devices to keep people from driving onto the tracks.

The debate over grade separation looms as a potential point of contention between the rail authority and local communities.

Yet for all the unanswered questions, the business plan suggests that that after shifting its attention to the Central Valley about four years ago, the project has picked up significant momentum. Construction is now under way in Fresno, where contractors this month began drilling and concrete operations at a 1.5-mile long trench that will ultimately carry the bullet trains under state Route 180. The business plan emphasizes that in the last two years, "circumstances have changed."

"Most significantly, for the first time, there is a combination of existing funding sources that allow us to deliver high-speed service and do so within the next 10 years," the plan states.

"It is our statutory and fiduciary responsibility to utilize available funding in the most efficient and productive manner and focus those resources on a segment that can be built within the limits of available funding. To do otherwise would mean that the State would be left with a segment that would not be complete, could not meet the statutory requirements, and/or that would not generate private-sector participation."

The new business plan also reaffirms the agency's commitment to the blended system between San Francisco and San Jose, a design that was initially proposed in 2011 by U.S. Rep Anna Eshoo, state Assemblyman Rich Gordon and former state Sen. Joe Simitian.

The approach, which allows Caltrain and high-speed rail to share two tracks, "minimizes impacts on surrounding communities, reduces project cost, improves safety and expedites implementation," the business plan states.

Just south of the blended segment, the rail authority plans to spend about $20.7 billion to build a rail line between San Jose and just north of Bakersfield. The largest components from this total include $7.8 billion for track structures and track; $5.3 billion for site work, right-of-way purchases and land; and $3.2 billion for professional services, according to the plan.

The rail authority has already identified the $1 billion in funding it would need to complete the environmental clearance for the first segment: a combination of state bonds from Proposition 1A, federal grants and cap-and-trade funds.

But funding the construction could prove trickier. According to the business plan, the rail authority is banking on about $3.165 billion in federal grants for Silicon Valley-to-Central Valley segment, a projection based on an traditional assumption that major transportation projects typically can rely on the federal government as a funding partner (the fact that Republicans currently hold majorities in both the U.S. House of Representatives and the Senate and that they tend to oppose the rail project doesn't dim the rail authority's optimism).

"Although there is always competition for federal funding, we are prepared to make the case that it is warranted because it would leverage a significant increase in ridership, connectivity between major urban centers, revenues and the value of private sector concession agreements," the business plan states.

The rail authority would also use $4.16 billion from Proposition 1A; $5.3 billion in cap-and-trade funds the agency plans to receive between now and 2024; and $5.2 billion in financing proceeds from cap-and-trade funds that would be collected between 2025 and 2050.

Rail authority CEO Jeff Morales said in a statement Thursday that the business plan presents "a clear path forward within available funding to deliver the system as approved by California voters in 2008."

"By constructing the line between the Silicon Valley and the Central Valley, while also making significant investments in southern California's passenger rail systems, high-speed rail service will become a reality in this state in the next 10 years at a lower cost than previously estimated," Morales said.

Comments

43 people like this
Posted by Paul
a resident of Professorville
on Feb 19, 2016 at 5:37 am

HIGH-SPEED KILLING MACHINE.

RUNNING HIGH-SPEED RAIL UP the densely populated San Jose to San Francisco corridor will inevitably result in many more deaths from accidents and suicides. HSR will not just move people, it will kill people.

KEEP IN MIND the High-Speed Rail "Authority" is no authority at all. HSR is like a Three-Card Monte performer swindling all within its, which in this case is the entire taxpayer-population of California...YOU AND ME. With the old switcheroo, now HSR has a plan to go from Fresno to San Francisco. Yeah, sure.

LIES STACKED ON TOP OF LIES seems to be the High-Speed Rail Authority answer for how to build a railroad. CREDIBILITY has become THE BIG PROBLEM for the High-Speed Rail Authority; HSR has none.

JUDGE MICHAEL KENNY ruled 4 years ago, “HSR is violating state law by proceeding” to spend $9 billion on their tracks to nowhere.

EARLIER, the nonpartisan analyst's office, which provides fiscal and policy advice to the Legislature, said “the rail authority failed to provide sufficient detail and justification for its plan to build a high-speed train system. Specifically, funding for the project remains highly speculative and important details have not been sorted out."

OVER 5 YEARS AGO, the Mercury News reported that “the state's top analyst is urging lawmakers to pull the emergency brake on California's $68 billion bullet train, saying the recently revised plan carries way too much risk of failure. An April 17, 2012 Legislative Analyst's Office report concludes…'there is a $55 billion shortfall.'”

WHY WOULD ANYONE BELIEVE a word HSR says? On virtually every substantive issue, HSR has been wrong, wrong, wrong. Let us count the ways:

NONE of the promises made by HSR to win the 2008 Proposition 1A vote are being kept. Among the broken promises:
- No more than $40 billion to connect San Diego, Los Angeles, Sacramento and San Francisco
- No more than $9.95 billion from state of California
- No money authorized until investors committed
- Los Angeles to San Francisco in 2½ hours for about $50
- Ridership forecast unrealistically high

BOGUS HSR plans, independent auditors say…
- Superior Court Judge Michael Kenny August 16, 2013
- Legislative Analyst Office April 17, 2012
- Peer Review Group January 3, 2012
- Legislative Analyst Office November 29, 2011
- State Inspector General October 27, 2010
- California State Auditor April 2010 Report 2009-106
- Joseph Vranich October 2008

ANY VILLAGE IDIOT can connect the dots on HSR, yet Brown, Eshoo, Feinstein, et al plow on.

ONE OF THE FIRST FATHERS of HSR, Quentin Kopp, now is dead-set against it, realizing as HSR took shape, it became one ugly monster threatening to eat California.

SOON, SANTA CLARA COUNTY politicians will be asking voters to increase our sales taxes. Send a message, VOTE NO.

'FOOL ME ONCE, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me.'


50 people like this
Posted by crescent moon
a resident of Crescent Park
on Feb 19, 2016 at 7:41 am

Hello, who wants to go to Bakersfield?

Moreover, one would immediately need to rent a car.

These trains will be empty.


48 people like this
Posted by resident
a resident of Downtown North
on Feb 19, 2016 at 9:29 am

Until HSR goes all the way to Los Angeles, the main users will Central Valley residents commuting to and from the Bay Area. At least they won't be clogging our highways and parking lots with private cars like they are now.


22 people like this
Posted by Will
a resident of Midtown
on Feb 19, 2016 at 10:10 am

Well seems very fishy to me that the first segment of the line will not be in the most populated, polluted, and traffic congested region, as the claims have been made that these are the very issues this system is supposed to address. Instead it will start in the corridor that includes the most expansive property and the least populated region. Could this be because Feinstein and her hubby want the Fed money for themselves (all that valley property CBRE has been acquiring) before it and this farcical project disappear? I think that is more likely the reason they chose this segment then the segment between LA and San Diego which has much higher car and air traffic density. So what do the So Cal voters think of this betrayal after all it will be mostly their money that will be supporting this toy for San Franciscans? Are we ready for a new referendum to shut this scheme down?


19 people like this
Posted by juan olive
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Feb 19, 2016 at 10:20 am

Follow the money trail.
It's that simple folks.


24 people like this
Posted by will
a resident of Midtown
on Feb 19, 2016 at 10:59 am

To Resident,

I've lived in every region of the SF Bay Area including San Francisco, the East Bay, and Cupertino, The traffic and parking conditions are mostly caused by commuters from the East Bay, Tracy and Discovery Bay area, the San a Mateo Peninsula, and San Franciscans going to jobs where they don't live. Most residents of San Francisco do not work in San Francisco. The traffic and parking situation is compounded by bad traffic management and a policy to inhibit available parking. This is exacerbated by an incoherent and uncoordinated mass transit system. Therefore if transit is supposed to be a fix then CHSR is not adding anything as most commuters would be using BART, CalTrain, and local LRS and buses. The problem is these don't work in harmony and run inefficiently so for instance a a commute across San Francisco from Outer Parkside to Mission Bay (about 7Mi) is approx.20 min by car but approx. 1hr and 30min by mass transit. These commuters won't be using CHSR and I can guarantee you if all that had to be contended with were a few hundred (at the most) commuters from Bakersfield everyone in the SF Bay Area would be much happier then they are now. So I do not see how this is a great cost benefit to the residents of greater California. I seriously doubt that it can be profitable or sustainable without heavy State subsidy. Further I do not see that the most expensive leg of the route (San Jose to San Francisco) is even necessary, the north ends of the system should termite at San Jose (bigger population and job center than San Francisco and the CHSR will not be able to run that segment any faster then the electrified normal trains) and Sacramento. If you want to change the traffic situation in the Bay Area you need to support: harmonization of mass transit districts and coordination and systems schedules, policies that put work where people live, and a meaningful State mandated minimum traffic flow requirement that would include adequate parking and if not met the local government would see no State money or Federal Money controlled by the State, for roads and other transportation projects. Regarding CHSR, by far the corridor with the highest traffic density in every category is LA to San Diego yet it gets nothing from this project. Why? If the problems that this system is suppose to alleviate are the greatest there then so would the potential benefit. This project as currently formulated and executed is a boondoggle, lets shut this thing down until it can be defined and run properly -if it cannot then then we should not do it. After all people it was a popular referendum that created it we created it we should stop it when it is not delivering.


30 people like this
Posted by Jeanie Smith
a resident of Evergreen Park
on Feb 19, 2016 at 11:07 am

Can I rescind my vote from 2008? Please? What a boondoggle!!!!
And... there goes my neighborhood, impacted by what will surely be 10 years of construction...

Is there really demand for people to get to Bakersfield from here? or vice versa?

HOW CAN WE STOP THIS? It's like a runaway train... (pun intended).


19 people like this
Posted by neighbor
a resident of Menlo Park
on Feb 19, 2016 at 11:36 am

So excited for this transportation opportunity! Many can finally find affordable housing in outer communities and realistically commute to work, less cars, less congestion on roads, business and employment opportunities surrounding this project as well. So many benefits! woot woot!


18 people like this
Posted by Mr.Recycle
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Feb 19, 2016 at 12:02 pm

So for $64 billion dollars (really, it will be double that), you can ride a train to bakersfield in 9 years (it will be 15). Awesome. Glad to know we have our priorities in order. Trains, fat unions, trains, political payoffs, trains, carbon offsets, trains, ...... ...... housing, safety, education, and roads (which 99% of the people use every day, even the trainnys).


16 people like this
Posted by blatt
a resident of Menlo Park
on Feb 19, 2016 at 12:07 pm

unless they bury the tracks to avoid grade crossings, the power wires will look like a concentration camp from SF to SJ!


20 people like this
Posted by DetailsDevil
a resident of Downtown North
on Feb 19, 2016 at 12:32 pm

There is much MISSING from the current business plan for the SF-SJ section. Here's what the plan includes for SF-SJ:
(from Basis of Cost estimate document page Pg 32 available here:
Web Link

The estimate for this section is based on conceptual engineering developed by the Authority and its consultants in 2015 which defines improvements to existing tracks in order to increase operating speed up to 110 mph along the Peninsula.

The dedicated high-speed rail tracks at Millbrae (elevated and in tunnel) and aerial approach to Diridon station have been now removed. Further, the allowance towards the Caltrain Downtown Extension Project has been reduced by $1.5 billion.

These major modifications developed over the past year will be further defined by the Authority’s new Environmental & Engineering consultant and documented in the environmental process. (NB: THIS HAS NEVER BEEN MADE PUBLIC)
Assumptions
• Based on an alignment section length of 48 route miles

• At-grade use of Caltrain corridor to just past the San Jose station with alignment adjustments
including curve straightening to achieve operating speed up to 110 mph

• Existing track structure rehabilitation including replacement of wood ties, new running rail
where confirmed by inspection reports, rail grinding & surfacing, upgrade of interlockings and
access control fencing

• Includes an allowance for high-speed rail passing tracks between Hayward Park and Hillsdale,
approximately two mile segment recommended for 6/4 operation up to 110 mph

• Contribution of $90 million for three grade separations within the Hayward Park to Hillsdale
passing track segment

• An allowance of $500M for additional grade separations that may be required as environmental
mitigation

• An allowance for quad gates at 40 grade crossings

• A $50M allowance per station for high platform upgrades to Diridon and Millbrae, and $100M
for interim terminal station at 4th & King (NB: NOT TRANSBAY)

• A $550M allowance (YOE $) for work done by others for Transbay connection

• A $600M allowance for electrification of Caltrain by others

• An allowance of $1M (not to exceed) to cover professional services for Caltrain consultants

• Five mile track from Santa Clara to San Jose for Union Pacific Railroad (UPRR) freight use is
under review and not included in the estimate

• Structural modifications to the four existing tunnels are not included

• Conversion of existing Caltrain platforms to level boarding is not included except for the stations
shared with high-speed rail

• Improvements to existing at-grade vehicular and pedestrian crossings are limited to safety and
environmental mitigation as noted above

• Future platform extension to 1400 feet to accommodate two high-speed rail trainsets is not
included


22 people like this
Posted by Nayeli P.
a resident of Midtown
on Feb 19, 2016 at 3:40 pm

Nayeli P. is a registered user.

Does anyone know what we can do to FINALLY stop this ridiculous project? Do we need to repeal the proposition or vote upon a new one?


28 people like this
Posted by No Whining
a resident of Mayfield
on Feb 19, 2016 at 4:18 pm

People, stop scaring others, wake up and get with the program.
Many people, especially 'millenials' don't want to drive. They want to sit in a train or bus and stare into their smartphones. When they exit, they call Uber and get on their way.

Hi-speed trains will be useful. They work elsewhere and will work here to, eventually.

The first leg is to Bakersfield because it will continue to Los Angeles, and probably connects to nationwide rail network.


24 people like this
Posted by Jonathan Brown
a resident of Ventura
on Feb 19, 2016 at 5:39 pm

The money would be way more positively impactful if spent elsewhere (schools, hospitals, etc.). Let's sign a proposition repealing this pork-barrel project. Some tidbits:
- they say flights are an expensive alternative to HSR. But a round trip to LA is $150 compared to their $178 estimate ($89 one-way, Bus. Plan at p. 67). Plus the train trip would take longer.
- They've gone way over the original cost estimate, but since they've trimmed their already bloated figure over last year, they've claiming cost savings and using some of that "saved" money for other projects!
- Although “Private investment … has not materialized to date, … the first segment … will generate revenues that could then ‘unlock private dollars to continue sequencing the rest of the system,’ the plan predicts.” This dual prediction—-that the first segment will generate revenue (well, I guess they don’t say “profit”….) and that doing so will cause private dollars to magically appear to fund construction of the rest of the system-—would make even the most ambitious dot-com VC-funds-seeker blush.
- Extending the line to Bakersfield "would significant enhance ridership and revenues….” Because Bakersfield is such a go-to, deep-pockets kind of destination! And the current baseline plan doesn’t even get to Bakersfield—-it ends north of the city!!
- “The debate over grade separation looms as a potential point of contention between the rail authority and local communities.” It’s #1 for me. Untold billions aren’t enough to compensate for the preventable loss of a loved one or destruction of all Peninsula cities.
- Launch in 2025 is not going to help Bakersfield’s oil-price-drop-related current economic woes--a benefit extolled by a Rail Authority member on the radio this morning.


27 people like this
Posted by Mr.Recycle
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Feb 19, 2016 at 6:00 pm

@No Whining - explain how HSR will do anything to help local commuters and traffic. Millineals are smart enough to not want to live in Bakersfield and commute for two hours by train. You can make the argument to spend the money to extend and improve BART and CalTrain, but HSR is a useless boondoggle.


13 people like this
Posted by sunshine
a resident of Barron Park
on Feb 20, 2016 at 6:43 am

Would everyone please stop your kveching!? I'm sick of it!
California has needed a decent rail system since before I arrived here in the 60s. My first comment about the trains when I arrived was that this was certainly a backwater place to have so many on-grade crossings in busy areas. It is no wonder the traffic is so terrible in certain areas.
One of the first things I did was try to take the train to SF for a day out. Big mistake! When it finally arrived in SF I was nowhere near anything that looked nice or inviting. It dumped us all off in an area of warehouses and the sort of streets that no sensible person walks along alone. I was told there would be taxis and busses waiting for us as we alighted. There were none. So I walked the distance to Union Square; it was a long way even for a New Yorker who was accustomed to walking all day in a big city in many different areas from Harlem to South Ferry and from the East River to the Hudson. After that I drove to SF to visit the museums.
In addition there is not a real terminal in SF. It is an open shed--just a floor and a roof.
Now we are finally offered a solution to a big travel problem in CA, and all many can think of is what's wrong with it and how they can waste all the money--MY TAX DOLLARS--before the first shovelfull of dirt is turned over. One silly legal appeal after another. Please just settle down and let a decent CA rail system be built . Right now Europe is laughing out loud at us for such a bad system. You can ride from Paris to Marseilles on a very comfortable train in just a few hours. It was one of the smoothest train rides I have ever had.
So, just let us get on with it and maybe I'll still be alive to ride it when it is built. Of course I still won't take it to SF until the station is a proper building and is in a better area.


24 people like this
Posted by blatt
a resident of Menlo Park
on Feb 20, 2016 at 7:06 am

Sunshine should wake up and realize that this isn't NYC nor France. The fact that the Peninsula is loaded with grade crossings makes it totally different--more like the Northern Chicago suburbs. Densely populated areas where expensive real estate is adjacent to current rails and closely spaced stations--high speeds will never be a reality unless station stops are abandoned which defeats the purpose of public transport. If all anyone cares about is speeding up the route between SF and LA, then build the entire system through the empty expanses of the various valleys and forget about replacing a current commuter system that seems to work--even though it's been in place for a very long time. Again--take a look at Chicago.


21 people like this
Posted by jerry99
a resident of Barron Park
on Feb 20, 2016 at 11:28 am

more of a waste of taxpayers money. We need a bullet train like a hole in the head. We need fewer people.
San Fransisco to Bakersfield? What complete lunacy. But what else could we expect from socialist Jerry Brown.
But wait, maybe we can use bullet trains to take illegal aliens back to Mexico and Central America. That would be a good use and I would be willing to pay for that.


20 people like this
Posted by Grumpy Older Guy
a resident of Palo Alto Orchards
on Feb 20, 2016 at 12:56 pm

California HSR is nothing more than a taxpayer subsidized project that benefits the downtown property owners of SF and LA. The economic reality is that when there's too much congestion or rent, then businesses and people move to other areas to work and live. Thus development of other areas of the Bay Area - Stockton, Modesto, Fresno. But packing in people to SF, LA and even Palo Alto, then you're altering economic forces that would otherwise develop. (Such as Morgan Hill becoming a tech center like Silicon
Valley).

And what happened to the promise of telecommuting and internet conferencing?

There's an obvious limit to the Bay Area in population and employment. Economic forces move businesses and people outside if the costs are too great. HSR is a band-aid and subsidy to those who profit from that congestion at the general public's expense.

Say no to HSR!


13 people like this
Posted by Sea Reddy
a resident of College Terrace
on Feb 20, 2016 at 2:54 pm

Request that we reconsider this funding.

Do we need it now?

Could we fund badly needed Caltran upgrades.
Increase frequency of trains

Better ticket purchasing experience with mobile devices.

Respectfully

Wishing Good things for 24th assembly district


12 people like this
Posted by We got Snookered
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Feb 20, 2016 at 10:21 pm

It makes absolutely no sense to to build HSR up the peninsula. If they really cared about transportation they would stop at San Jose and use the remaining funds to extend BART to the south bay and pay for improvements to CalTrans like improved east/west crossings.


14 people like this
Posted by Alan
a resident of Charleston Meadows
on Feb 21, 2016 at 11:04 am

i was going to post something like this, and then I saw this comment which I agree with.


It makes absolutely no sense to to build HSR up the peninsula. If they really cared about transportation they would stop at San Jose and use the remaining funds to extend BART to the south bay and pay for improvements to CalTrans like improved east/west crossings.



The only thing I will add to this comment is better access to the airports from CalTrain and BART. Access to SFO is OK, but we need improvements to San Jose for sure. I think Oakland too.

Most important is get an extension of BART to the San Jose CalTrain, and then refund the rest of this high speed rail money back to the tax payers.








5 people like this
Posted by Ben
a resident of Downtown North
on Feb 21, 2016 at 12:14 pm

Once again, the CA HSR Authority, boosters and shills are quite simply making claims about HSR ridership that, compared to actual real numbers, are quite simply made up fantasy. Kind of like the fantasy that 'investors' are hiding in the shadows waiting to shower funding upon this turd on rail once it is profitable.

For comparison, the "record breaking" number of visitors to San Francisco in 2013 Web Link and Web Link was 16.9 million people. More recently, Los Angeles reported a "record" 45.5 million visitors to LA in 2015 Web Link And for some reason the HSR Authority claims that 'eventually', the route between SF and Bakersfield will attract 5 to 7 million people?! Pray tell, since the crazy train will dead end in Bakersfield, who are these millions wanting or needing to go between SF and Bakersfield?

The Silicon Valley Leadership group, pay attention city council, is thrilled about being able to travel between Gilroy and downtown San Jose in "minutes". To cover the 34 miles in "minutes", lets assume 9 minutes (0.15 hours), that means an average speed of 34 miles/0.25 hours = 136 miles per hour, average, through the heart of San Jose, no plans for grade separations that I've read about, either in San Jose or further north. Boosters also claim that a train ride on the magic train will take just 40 minutes to cover the approximately 130 miles from Madera to San Jose. The math says that train will be ripping along the tracks at an average speed of 130 miles/0.67 hours = 194 miles per hour. Through Pacheco Pass and again, up the heart of San Jose. I doubt any of these numbers are realistic to say the least. Since San Francisco is still the official terminus of the crazy train, how fast will trains be coming up and down the Peninsula?

Also, in light of the talk of another Santa Clara sales tax measure, make no mistake, the Bart extension from Alum Rock to San Jose is priority #1Web Link. It's doubtful that meaningful funding for grade crossings on the Peninsula are a part of this GREAT plan.


7 people like this
Posted by Ben
a resident of Downtown North
on Feb 21, 2016 at 12:24 pm

@ DetailsDevil

Yes, those 40 cheap Quad crossing gates instead of real grade separated track, let trains travel faster than otherwise permitted, if I am not mistaken. That means along the Peninsula, if you think cross track traffic is bad now, it will be substantially worse when those gates are going up and down much more frequently to accommodate all the new planned rail traffic.

More gate down time = more train horn noise, and gate crossing bell noise. Faster trains = more hazard, not less to auto and pedestrian traffic.

Real grade separations, mitigate much of these problems, but the CA HSR Authority in previous documents dismisses such concerns as local problems and not their concern.


9 people like this
Posted by Rogue Trader
a resident of Green Acres
on Feb 21, 2016 at 4:39 pm

As noted above, HSR estimates a round trip from SF to LA on the train will cost $178, with $89 for a one way ticket.

Let's say a round trip from Central Valley to Silicon Valley would be less than half that cost - say $80 round trip.

Politicians are predicting people can now live in the Central Valley, and commute to Silicon Valley for work.

But that would require daily commute costs of $80 for a round trip on HSR - over $1700 a month for commute costs. Is that really going to happen?


5 people like this
Posted by Saulie
a resident of Midtown
on Feb 21, 2016 at 8:16 pm

Jeeminy Christmas, how many times are they going to reinvent this project?

Remember when the first leg was supposed to connect Bakersfield with that other teeming metropolis, Madera?

The bond measure was approved seven years and one governor ago and they're still trying to figure it out.

I'm trying to remember when I've ever needed to go from San Francisco to Bakersfield in a red-hot hurry.

Pull the plug on it already!


3 people like this
Posted by Robert
a resident of another community
on Feb 21, 2016 at 8:50 pm

There seems to be a ridiculous idea that rescinding the bond measure would somehow cancel the project, instead of just losing the federal money and saddling us with the entire cost.


13 people like this
Posted by don't get it
a resident of Barron Park
on Feb 21, 2016 at 10:23 pm

I'm new to the area and don't understand why so many in Palo Alto seemed opposed to the HSR. Please explain. If HSR had stops in SF, SJ, somewhere in Central Valley and LA this seems like it would be a great alternative to flying IMO.


6 people like this
Posted by Euthanasia
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Feb 22, 2016 at 6:52 pm

So what is the process to cancel the CHSR project since it is obviously in breach of the original referendum and falling way short of expectations?


4 people like this
Posted by Saulie
a resident of Midtown
on Feb 22, 2016 at 7:57 pm

My objections to HSR are twofold:

1) It would be too expensive. It would cost close to $200 billion when the usual "cost overruns" are factored in, at a time when the State of California is mired in debt.

2) No reliable market research has been conducted to determine if there is a legitimate need for it and how it would compete with air and automobile travel.


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Posted by Gary
a resident of Mountain View
on Feb 23, 2016 at 9:53 am

And one simple terrorist attack on a train or tracks would end its operation. No one (except well paid employees) would continue to ride


2 people like this
Posted by Stan Hutchings
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Feb 23, 2016 at 2:27 pm

No HSR until/unless:
1. more than 75% private funds backing;
2. grade separation over the WHOLE route;
3. comprehensive feeder systems for every stop (bus, taxi, train, airplane, non-polluting rental cars and/or bike routes)
4. a state-wide vote to re-authorize the HSR system


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Posted by Saulie
a resident of Midtown
on Feb 23, 2016 at 5:46 pm

"And one simple terrorist attack on a train or tracks would end its operation."

A terrorist attack could take place on any form of mass transit, not just CA HSR: Caltrain, BART, S.F. Muni, Amtrak, VTA, a commercial airliner, etc.


2 people like this
Posted by Saulie
a resident of Midtown
on Feb 23, 2016 at 6:04 pm

"No HSR until/unless:
1. more than 75% private funds backing"

You can end your list right there. In the seven+ years since the bond measure was approved, not one penny of private capital has gone into the project, so this condition makes it a non-starter.

Q: "Why is the state of California getting into the passenger rail business?"

A: Passenger rail is a big money loser. It can't compete with air and automobile travel. Private railroads (e.g. Union Pacific) want no part of it. That's why Amtrak was created in the late '60s. Amtrak loses a bloody fortune for American taxpayers and the same thing would likely happen in CA with HSR.

The money is in freight. That's why Union Pacific freight trains continue to travel up and down the peninsula as they have for decades.


5 people like this
Posted by Mr.Recycle
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Feb 23, 2016 at 11:05 pm

@don't get it - You can fly for half the price in half the time, and it doesn't put a hundred billion dollars of debt on the backs of your children.


1 person likes this
Posted by Jessica
a resident of Ventura
on Apr 30, 2016 at 11:15 pm

I regularly fly from SFO to LAX for 69/ leg. I don't understand why we are considering this project when the ticket will be 170/ round trip. Not to mention, there is no public transportation in LA. You could get down there but then you'd have to rent a car to get around. I say spend the money building out LA commuter tracks then consider linking them together once you have a decent public transportation system in LA. It is in desperate need of a better transportation system stat.


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Posted by Jessica
a resident of Ventura
on Apr 30, 2016 at 11:15 pm

I regularly fly from SFO to LAX for 69/ leg. I don't understand why we are considering this project when the ticket will be 170/ round trip. Not to mention, there is no public transportation in LA. You could get down there but then you'd have to rent a car to get around. I say spend the money building out LA commuter tracks then consider linking them together once you have a decent public transportation system in LA. It is in desperate need of a better transportation system stat.


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