Palo Alto officials not sold on rail business plan | November 4, 2011 | Palo Alto Weekly | Palo Alto Online |

Palo Alto Weekly

News - November 4, 2011

Palo Alto officials not sold on rail business plan

City Council committee questions high-speed-rail ridership assumptions, financing plans

by Gennady Sheyner

The new business plan for California's proposed high-speed rail line, released Wednesday by the agency charged with building it, drew sharp rebukes from Palo Alto's elected officials Thursday morning, with various members of the City Council saying they remain puzzled by the ridership estimates and proposed financing plans.

This story contains 1165 words.

Stories older than 90 days are available only to subscribing members. Please help sustain quality local journalism by becoming a subscribing member today.

If you are already a subscriber, please log in so you can continue to enjoy unlimited access to stories and archives. Subscriptions start at $5 per month and may be cancelled at any time.

Log in     Subscribe

Staff Writer Gennady Sheyner can be e-mailed at


Like this comment
Posted by Mary
a resident of Meadow Park
on Nov 3, 2011 at 11:18 am

Reasoned analysis like that from the Palo Alto Rail Committee will steadily uncover fatal flaw after fatal flaw in California High-Speed Rail Authority thinking.

One of the first rules of investing is 'rely on trusted sources, then verify.' HSR has proven to be anything but 'a trusted source.' Quite the opposite.

Legislators, both state and federal, are finally getting the picture that the HSR show is proving to be one big smoke-and-mirrors charade that looks ever more ugly as the light of day hits it.

You are now witnessing HSR in its death throes.

Like this comment
Posted by Mike
a resident of Professorville
on Nov 3, 2011 at 3:04 pm

Does Palo Alto really need to spend money on a consultant to analyse this latest plan for a project that will collapse of its own weight? I'm guessing there are a lot of smart people in the city/region who would be happy to do for free the analysis/review that the council (or a subcommittee) should be doing themselves. Many of the critical questions (like where is the funding possibly coming from?) are not a matter of "expert opinion" anyway.

Like this comment
Posted by bill g
a resident of Barron Park
on Nov 3, 2011 at 9:47 pm

Mike. An excellent idea. Why not also use the information from the U.C. Berkeley's Institute for Transportation Studies and the Palo Residents who have spent hours reviewing the HSR plans?

Why must the City spend scarce dollars on another consultant? The Council should pretend City money is coming from their own bank accounts. I'd bet there would be fewer consultants and less money wasted on "nice to have" projects.

Like this comment
Posted by Steve
a resident of another community
on Nov 4, 2011 at 12:35 am

Perhaps the city's paid High Speed Rail lobbyist told them a consultant was needed to study to business plan. Construction on the peninsula is not scheduled until 2026. A better use of limited resources would be to find funding to keep Caltrain afloat.

Like this comment
Posted by Bill
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Nov 4, 2011 at 9:42 am

Isn't this the same City Council that overwhelmingly endorsed the HSR ballot initiative a couple years ago? It would be a little difficult to have them say Yes! one day and No! the next without people asking: "Do you folks who pretend to be our political betters really know what you are talking about?"

Of course they are going to have to find someone who is a "consultant" and then to tow-the-line, based on this unknown entity's "credentials".

It's a shame we don't have all of the City Council's meetings archived on-line, so that we could easily find what these people said, verbatim, rather than the highly censored "sense notes" delivered up by the City Clerk.

Well .. for better or worse .. they are on the "right side of the line" this time ..

Like this comment
Posted by observer
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Nov 4, 2011 at 10:14 am

Bill, Have you been following this at all? Many people still support HSR, done right, but when they City Council first supported it, I don't think anyone could possibly have dreamed that the people running the project would regard the Peninsula like a wasteland between the cities of LA and SF.

Like this comment
Posted by Herb Borock
a resident of Professorville
on Nov 4, 2011 at 4:44 pm


The Council meeting of October 6, 2008, at which the Council unanimously supported Proposition 1A is archived by the Media Center:
Web Link

Like this comment
Posted by paloaltotreewatch
a resident of Palo Alto Orchards
on Nov 5, 2011 at 8:38 am

We have a triple train problem
1) old Caltrain using old technology
2) no connections to Bart in Millbrae or in Union City
3) a high speed rail boondoggle.

We need a modern electric train passing through the city to
bring in the folks for the jobs in PA and Stanford and to reduce the car footprint.

High speed rail should pickup at select nodes like Oakland and San Jose and not trash the rail corridors with a concrete moat.

The $ the state gives Caltrain for operation should go to the development of BART extension. And Stanford should through their financial and intellectual weight in order to make it happen.

Who knows we could even redo the PA train station from 1940s technology into a modern train station with perhaps a hotel and restaurant above.

Looking at all three train issues together can provide a solution forward.