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Last month, the California State Senate followed the State Assembly to vote to authorize the issuance of $4.6 billion in state bond funds to begin construction on the first phase of a planned California High Speed Rail, including millions of dollars for local rail modernization in the LA basin and the San Francisco peninsula. Cue conservative outrage:

From Jon Coupal, President of the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers' Association:

“Sacramento politicians have turned their backs on education and public safety and voted to waste billions on the largest boondoggle in American history.”
For those of you who don't know, Howard Jarvis is was the conservative Republican who pushed through California's disastrous Proposition 13 back in 1978. The one that gutted California's top-notch public education system by depriving it of millions of dollars of property tax revenue. With a real boondoggle under their belt, they really shouldn't be going after a manufactured one.

From George Will:

“[California] State Sen. Joe Simitian’s district office near Stanford’s campus is nestled among shops sporting excruciatingly cute names (“A Street Bike Named Desire,” “Mom’s the Word” maternity wear) intended to make the progressive gentry comfortable with upscale consumption by presenting it as whimsical. This community surely has its share of advanced thinkers who believe trains are wonderful because they are not cars (rampant individualism; people going wherever and whenever they want, unsupervised).

...

Wisconsin’s Republican Gov. Scott Walker rejected $810 million in federal money for a 78-mile high-speed rail project paralleling Interstate 94 between Milwaukee and Madison. Ohio’s Republican Gov. John Kasich rejected $400 million for a high-speed (well, about automobile speed) train paralleling Interstate 71 between Cleveland and Cincinnati. Florida’s Republican Gov. Rick Scott rejected $2.4 billion for 90 miles of high-speed rail paralleling Interstate 4 between Tampa and Orlando. In faith-based transportation policy, rail worshipers believe people will park their cars in Tampa and then rent cars in Orlando.

[California Governor] Brown’s reverence for his rail bauble is fanaticism. Or perhaps filial piety: His father, governor from 1959 to 1967, built much of the freeway and water infrastructure for postwar California. When the son was first elected governor 38 years ago, he seemed exotic; now he embodies progressivism’s banality. Then he wanted a California space program; now he is fixated on railroads, a 19th-century technology. His prescription for California’s ailments is higher taxes and expensive trains.”

That whole “19th century technology” spiel is intended only to unfairly denigrate rail technology. The benefits of public transportation, including rail, is tremendous, and is more efficient than automobiles in shuttling massive amounts of passengers from Point A to Point B. Not to mention that by his logic, his beloved car becomes “19th-century technology” as well.

Will also argues that Wisconsin, Ohio, and Florida's rejection of rail funds clearly means that California should follow their lead. For a self-proclaimed lover of individualism, that isn't a very independent course of action. There is an important distinction between the reasons why those states' projects failed, while California's is on its way to success.

The Ohio project never made sense in the first place. The “3-C” route would have linked Cincinnati, Columbus, and Cleveland at top speeds of 79 mph, with average speeds half that. Those speeds are absolutely pitiful, especially considering Ohioan highways aren't particularly congested. It is unfair to compare California's proposal to this miserable excuse for a “high speed” rail.

America's congested highways.
Florida's planned Tampa to Orlando route was far more promising. It had all the permits and environmental evaluations conducted, and the government already owned the right-of-way. It was shovel-ready. Flying at 170 mph down the middle of busy Interstate 4, the train was to be President Obama's showpiece project to advertise to the rest of the country the very real utility and promise of high speed rail. Florida had an unemployment rate of roughly 12% at the time, and construction jobs were projected to be in the thousands. Private sector firms were lobbying to be the first one to build a high speed rail line in the United States. Private investors were publicly interested. Former Republican turned Independent Governor Charlie Crist had lobbied hard for the stimulus funds, but the plan promised too much hope for Obama's ambitious high speed rail project, and made too much sense for Republican Governor Rick Scott. He killed the project, even over the objections of Florida Rep. John Mica (R), chairman of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, who said Gov. Scott's decision “was a huge setback for the State of Florida, our transportation, economic development, and important tourism industry”.

Wisconsin's high speed rail proposal was killed in a similar fashion as Florida's: a Republican governor seeking to gain some easy short-term political capital. The federal government had already committed $810 million dollars to the project before Gov. Walker axed it. Funnily enough, after those funds were redistributed, (and after the Walker administration completely ignored his state's ten-year contracts with the company) the Spanish firm Talgo announced that it was going to shut down its Milwaukee train-manufacturing operations and relocate (and bring the jobs with it) to a state more friendly to high-speed rail.

Imagine a San Francisco without this.
In discussing California's planned high speed rail, it's always good to know a little bit about California's history with large-scale infrastructure projects. Take the iconic Golden Gate Bridge for example. Who today could imagine San Francisco's skyline today without the brilliant red suspension bridge fading into the distant fog? In fact, the bridge almost didn't get built. The Southern Pacific Company and its subsidiary, the Golden Gate Ferry Company campaigned heavily against the proposal, even filing a lawsuit to prevent the competition. The Department of War was concerned that the bridge would interfere with navy traffic. And so-called experts proclaimed that such a bridge couldn't be built across the treacherous waters and blinding fog of the Golden Gate strait. Over all these objections, the California legislature approved a $30 million bond measure to begin constructing the bridge. In 1929, Wall Street crashed, and no one was willing to buy the bonds until 1932, when A.P. Gianninni, founder of the San Francisco branch Bank of America, bought the entire issue for the “good of San Francisco”. Today, it is impossible to imagine San Francisco without the iconic Golden Gate bridge guarding the bay, yet it would never have happened had the Southern Pacific Company succeeded in eliminating its competition (San Francisco would still be using ferry technology to move people across the bay!). Or if the “experts” succeeded in demoralizing the project because it was “impossible”. Or if the politicians decided to defer to special interests. Or if one wealthy banker decided he needed to horde his vast wealth instead of investing it into the local economy. Had the corporations, fear mongers, or special interests had it their way, the iconic Golden Gate Bridge would not exist; at least, not the way it is today with such historical and cultural significance. There is a lesson to be learned from this story.

This brings us back to California's high speed rail proposal. Californian voters originally passed Proposition 1A in 2008 by a 5-point margin, authorizing the state to issue $9.95 billion in general obligation bonds to fund the first phase of high speed rail. (The entire project was projected to have an overall cost of $45 billion.) In 2009, then-Republican Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger applied and received $3.6 billion of federal high speed rail stimulus funding. In 2010, the federal government had diverted an additional $3.2 billion from the states that had rejected high speed rail funds. The plan was going smoothly.

Suddenly, the projected cost had unexpectedly ballooned to a scary $100 billion. Gov. Brown took action and appointed Dan Richard to the California High Speed Rail Authority, who immediately launched public relations campaign to repair the embattled authority's perception with the public and to seek more public input on improving efficiency. Help also came from Bay Area politicians Congresswoman Anna Eshoo, State Senator Joe Simitian, and State Assemblyman Rich Gordon, who proposed a plan for the high speed rail to share tracks with existing Caltrain and Amtrack right-of-ways. The projected cost settled to a much more reasonable $68.5 billion.

The non-profit San Francisco Planning and Urban Research Association offered this assessment on future funding sources for high speed rail:

“For the past century, major transportation projects — from bridges to rail — have always been funded with federal dollars. Federal government–supported bonds enabled the San Francisco–Oakland Bay Bridge to be built, for example. And worldwide, major high-speed rail systems are generally built with funding from national governments.

However, given our national political dynamics, where a significant majority of elected leaders do not support government investment in domestic infrastructure, let alone in non-auto modes of travel, it is quite possible that significant federal investment will not materialize. This is not to be taken lightly: A future for the United States without major federal support for transportation projects is frightening and would lead to the further degradation of infrastructure and the loss of the nation’s economic competitiveness.

Unpleasant as it is to contemplate, this is a very tangible scenario we must prepare for. The good news is that even without federal support, California can pay for a high-speed rail system with resources generated within the state.

(emphasis mine)

Yet for all the twists and turns, high speed rail has endured on its path to legislative success, and Californian politicians have a reason to celebrate. And celebrate they do:

California Senate President Darrell Steinberg (D-Sacramento)

“We've got to build high-speed rail. You can pave the farmlands with new roads and black out skies with airplanes, but then the air we breathe will be no better than a tailpipe.”
San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee (D)
“We're not waiting. High-speed rail is the connector for our future investment across the state.”
Governor Jerry Brown (D)
“The world is full of NIMBYs and fearful men. This is a bold move...don't worry about the polls.”
But more importantly, the people of California have an even greater reason to celebrate. As the world's ninth largest economy, we are by far the largest single economic entity worldwide without a high-speed rail infrastructure built or under construction. No longer, we are finally catching up with the rest of the world, including Algeria, Bulgaria, Turkey, Saudi Arabia, and even Uzbekistan. The plan also has the added benefit of improving existing commuter rail infrastructure in San Francisco and Los Angeles in order to incorporate high speed rail at a later date. For example, high speed rail funds will electrify the decades-old diesel-powered Caltrain fleet that provides commuter rail service up and down the San Francisco peninsula. This badly needed upgrade will speed up Caltrain service and reduce greenhouse gas emissions, providing locals with instant benefits years before high speed rail begin sharing those tracks. Similar upgrades are slated for Los Angeles' Metrolink system. Los Angeles' Union Station will add extra rail lines, and a complete remodel of San Francisco's Transbay Transit Center is already under construction. These simple transit upgrades will result in thousands of jobs. Even if the dream of high speed rail doesn't become fully realized in California – and that's an unfortunate if – jobs will have been created in a sluggish economy, and California's aging public transit system will have been modernized as a result.

In addition, the San Francisco Planning and Urban Research Association offers six reasons why high speed rail will benefit the state. I find the following most compelling:

High-speed rail makes any two places on or near the line that were once far apart appear to be closer together by making travel between them easier and faster. Building a high-speed rail system across California would have a transformative potential on the economies of Northern and Southern California as well as the Central Valley. By decreasing the effective distance between parts of the state, high speed rail shifts the market competitive structure within which people and firms make decisions about where to live, work and invest. In particular, high-speed rail can deliver economic growth opportunities to under-performing places (such as the Central Valley). Not only will the construction stage generate approximately 100,000 jobs for people in the Central Valley, but, once the train is operating, businesses may locate near rail stations to access other business opportunities throughout the state. Considering that the unemployment rates in most Central Valley counties are between 15 and 20 percent, getting people back to work and creating economic infrastructure to support a growing population is imperative.

High-speed trains will improve mobility by saving travel time and reducing congestion as travelers shift from air and auto to rail. California is falling behind its major competitors in the world economy due in part to its continued reliance on inefficient and expensive automobile and air travel. Congestion on our state’s roads results in $18.7 billion annually in lost time and wasted fuel. Flights between the Los Angeles and San Francisco metropolitan areas are the most delayed in the country, with approximately one out of every four flights late by an hour or more. The alternative to providing the same capacity as high-speed rail is to add 2,300 highway lane miles, four new airport runways and 115 airport gates. The costs of these expansions would exceed $170 billion over the next 20 years, more than twice the cost of the high-speed rail system. The projected number of riders diverted from the air system to the high-speed rail system would be more than 5 million in 2040 and would rise above 6 million by 2060. Based on the experience of Japan and Europe, high-speed trains can secure up to 90 percent of total air traffic for travel up to about 310 miles (slightly less than San Jose to Los Angeles) or half of all air travel for distances up to 500 miles (the distance from San Francisco to San Diego). Overall, from 2040 to 2080, Californians will save an average of 79 million hours per year by using high-speed rail.

High-speed rail reinforces the knowledge economy sector by supporting face-to-face interaction and improved productivity. For the increasingly integrated economies of Silicon Valley and Hollywood, high-speed rail will facilitate greater innovation, exchange and collaboration, particularly because meetings can be continuous from one region to the other, without the hassle and inconvenience of air travel. The additional value of rail simply from the ability to do continuous work is estimated at $10 billion.

(italics mine)

Caltrain
California's high speed rail project and its associated regional transit improvements is probably one of the largest public infrastructure overhaul the state has ever attempted. But these projects will help stimulate California's sagging economy, and any Keynesian will agree. NIMBY-ism is ever present in California, and even now concerted litigation efforts across the state are still seeking to derail the project before the first shovel hits the ground. But high speed rail is badly needed in a state with 32 million registered automobiles and unending congestion on our busiest freeways. Traffic on California's Interstate 5 in the Central Valley (connecting SF to LA) is projected to double in the next 25 years. Ridership on San Francisco's Caltrain commuter rail increased 11% this year over last year, setting a record of more than 50,000 weekday riders per day. We simply can't afford to continue adding lanes and building more roads. California's already humongous population of 37 million is expected to grow to 60 million by 2050. If Caltrain's consistent ridership increases are any indication, demand will soon outstrip supply if California continues to drag its feet on badly needed infrastructure upgrades. When will the NIMBYs learn that the land around high speed rail stations rise in value because of its proximity to transit that can rapidly take them to the social, economic, and cultural centers of the state? By shortening distances, the state will increase productivity, encourage tourism, and allow creativity and entrepreneurship flourish.

Those who argue that automobiles are a mature technology and that roads don't sap money from the state's dry coffers like high speed rail would should think again. Subsidy Scope reports that California spent $17 billion on roads in 2007. Only 31% came from user fees like the gasoline tax. Property and sales taxes (revenue that otherwise could have gone to education or healthcare) had to cover the rest of the cost. Today, California is massively subsidizing our roads to the tune of $9 billion dollars in 2007 alone. And the infrastructure required to incorporate 23 million new residents by 2050 will cost a projected $171 billion to build. That is more than twice the cost of high speed rail and all of its associated regional improvements. Sure, the state will be subsidizing high speed rail for a few years to come. But around the world, high speed rail systems in Japan, Taiwan, France, Russia, and Spain are turning profits. Spain saw the amount of flights between Madrid and Málaga drop in half two years after their first high speed rail line between the two cities opened. Why? People flocked to the option they deemed to be more efficient and less expensive. Spain's experiences with high speed rail is especially relevant to California because the two entities have comparable population densities.

California voters were presented a choice in 2008: continue our unsustainable investment in the gas-guzzling automobile or invest in the cleaner public transportation? The voters chose the latter. Last month, the state's politicians were asked the same question. They too chose the latter. Critics who call high speed rail a 'boondoggle' are wildly mistaken. Its the existing knot of ever-expanding freeways and airport terminals that is an unsustainable boondoggle. Now is time to end this gridlock on common sense infrastructure improvements and move forward for a better California. I thank Governor Brown and the state legislature for having the will to push this thing forward.

Note: This is my first diary, so all suggestions are welcome.

1:14 PM PT: Wow! Having my first diary up on the community spotlight is such an honor. Thanks so much for reading!

Originally posted to Edmund Xu on Mon Aug 20, 2012 at 08:04 AM PDT.

Also republished by In Support of Labor and Unions, DK GreenRoots, Sunday Train, and Community Spotlight.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Well written, but a few comments.. (20+ / 0-)

    ...The difficulty with high speed rail in California is urban sprawl.

    I used to fly from the Bay Area to LA, Orange County and San Diego a lot on business and while SFO is a challenge due to incessant fog shutting down a runway flying out of San Jose is very easy and quick.

    Given traffic in SoCal there is a huge benefit from a business traveler's point of view being able to fly into Ontario, LAX, Burbank or John Wayne.

    The train will just drop one off in downtown LA.

    Rail works so well in Europe and Japan as one is going from one high density area to another and such high density areas often have local rail systems that one can connect to to get to a final destination.

    Again California is challenged by not having proper urban development.

    Amtrak on the East Coast has a nice relatively high speed line, but it loses money.

    So unclear that spending $70 billion will result in enough ridership.

    The project would definitely be a great stimulus for workers, but then one does have the debt to deal with after the fact.

    California is in a lot of economic trouble so unclear that this is the best use of state money at this time.

    "And there are those who give and know not pain in giving, nor do they seek joy, nor give with mindfulness of virtue; They give as in yonder valley the myrtle breathes its fragrance into space" Khalil Gibran

    by bcdelta on Mon Aug 20, 2012 at 08:29:57 AM PDT

    •  Urban sprawl is a problem (21+ / 0-)

      I'm not as familiar with Los Angeles, as you used it as an example. But the HSR stops in San Francisco I think are very well placed, and San Francisco's density is much greater than the LA Basin. (With San Jose, I may just agree with you).

      But I think this argument is a good one to make to improve bus services in California. Buses are great for transit and the environment if dedicated lanes are constructed and efficient lines are drawn to maximize ridership.

      •  Agreed (6+ / 0-)

        So efforts have to exist to plan cities better in terms of new commercial real estate development.  For example, I would want more office space in downtown San Jose.

        This might serve to up the light rail ridership, which while cool is very under used.

        SF is definitely well laid out so CalTrain definitely should be electrified.  Imagine a 30-40 minute commute from Gilroy to SF.

        "And there are those who give and know not pain in giving, nor do they seek joy, nor give with mindfulness of virtue; They give as in yonder valley the myrtle breathes its fragrance into space" Khalil Gibran

        by bcdelta on Mon Aug 20, 2012 at 08:46:22 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  Urban sprawl (16+ / 0-)

        won't stop until we start building mass transit, and we can't wait until the density is there to justify it.  If we wait until the density is there, the cost of building the supoorting infrasture is that much higher.

        Also L.A. is a suprisingly dense city.  (by American standards) and it's mass transit is far better than many think and getting better every year.

        The world will end not with a bang, but with a "Do'oh!"
        "America is a free speech zone."

        by Love and Death on Mon Aug 20, 2012 at 12:07:09 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  LA isn't dense at all (0+ / 0-)

          It's an enormous sprawl.  NYC is dense.

          "And there are those who give and know not pain in giving, nor do they seek joy, nor give with mindfulness of virtue; They give as in yonder valley the myrtle breathes its fragrance into space" Khalil Gibran

          by bcdelta on Tue Aug 21, 2012 at 08:30:25 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

      •  I'm intimately familiar with L.A. transit ... (9+ / 0-)

        ... and can state that a stop at Union Station is potentially a very good hub location, given Metro Transit improvements made recently or to be made in the near future.

        Out of Union Station one has access to the Metro Red Line (to North Hollywood or through downtown to the west side), and Gold Line (north to Pasadena and the San Gabriel Valley, and east to East L.A.). Planned extensions will connect the Red Line all the way to Santa Monica, and the Gold Line to Southbay. The Blue Line currently runs from a Red Line station at 7th Street downtown to Long Beach, close to the waterfront and convention center. The East-West mid-town Green Line is slated to (finally) connect directly to LAX and to Norwalk (the county's government offices). Other lines will serve East LA and extend further into the San Fernando Valley. MetroLink service (much like CalTrain) is available for those connecting to several neighboring counties, although it is probably either too expensive or too inconvenient for most casual or business travelers, as would be Amtrak service.

        Overall, the Los Angeles rail system has suffered from poor long-range planning; early lines were put in without clear consideration for broad useability, and the bus system is often nonsensical, or at least, not amenable to many business travelers. But, realistically, airports do not rely on the mass transit grid in most areas - travelers arriving at an airport frequently use private, taxi or rental cars to get to their ultimate destination. Judged along these lines, I'd say that HSR represents a very viable alternative, especially as hotels, restaurants and other businesses begin to focus on HSR hubs as development zones. The ripple-in-the-pond effect factors strongly in any new infrastructure investment, and HSR in other countries has been no exception.

        ---

        "The fundamental curse of the Republican party is its irrepressible disposition to meddle with other people's business, and impose its notions, and its will, on people who do not freely accept them." -- The New York Freeman's Journal, 1861

        by dzog on Mon Aug 20, 2012 at 02:06:06 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  Trains should not have to support themselves. (35+ / 0-)

      They're public-good subsidies, so people can get around efficiently without destroying everything.  Are we the only advanced country with this dumb Republican idea that everything should be "run like a business"?

      •  Sure, but.. (7+ / 0-)

        ...Not good if California goes bankrupt.  Would have been nice to see this started during the tech boom or other economic expansion.

        Not against high speed rail at all and in fact think it's a great way to travel.

        If it's built then LA should have connecting rail service in a spider web fashion around the area, but no idea what it would mean to get the land for this given the congestion.

        "And there are those who give and know not pain in giving, nor do they seek joy, nor give with mindfulness of virtue; They give as in yonder valley the myrtle breathes its fragrance into space" Khalil Gibran

        by bcdelta on Mon Aug 20, 2012 at 08:49:07 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Projects like these are a way (7+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          psyched, elfling, native, BusyinCA, ozsea1, Woody, BYw

          to get money into the economy.  And California is coming back, if we want that to keep going for the long term we need high speed rail.

          And you're right about more rail service in LA.  They need it desperately.  We've got BART and CalTrain up here in the Bay and it works great.

          There revolution will not be televised. But it will be blogged, a lot. Probably more so than is necessary.

          by AoT on Mon Aug 20, 2012 at 04:19:12 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  Except they also cost money (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            bcdelta

            The diary is totally missing any cost benefit analysis.

            How many riders do you expect per day?  What will they pay for tickets?  Will the high speed rail have a net operating profit or will it require continuing subsidies?  What will the total subsidy per ride be including the initial investment?

            If it turns out that the subsidy is $200 per ride and riders will pay $100 per ticket (when typical air fares are under $150) then this looks like a bad idea.

            If you assume an acceptable subsidy of $25 / ride then you need about 2.8 billion rides to cover the cost of just the initial investment... more when you take into account the fact that we are making the initial investment now but will get the rides many years later.

            If we want to recoup that over 10 years then we need 280MM rides per year or about 770,000 rides per day.  Is that realistic?  Seems like a lot of people to me unless you are expecting people to start living in SF and commuting to LA daily for work.

            •  Where are you folks when someone wants to build (0+ / 0-)

              a new freeway?

              There revolution will not be televised. But it will be blogged, a lot. Probably more so than is necessary.

              by AoT on Tue Aug 21, 2012 at 07:02:05 AM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  Well, I'm happy to do an analysis (0+ / 0-)

                in either case.

                But are you suggesting that we should make bad investments in high speed rail because we make bad investments in highways?

                Seems illogical.

                •  That was unfair of me (0+ / 0-)

                  But I've never seen people flip out over building more and more highways like I do over something as reasonable as more rail.

                  The one thing that everyone seems to be missing is that there are a lot of people who would much rather take the train as opposed to taking a plane, which will make this a successful route.  I would never, ever fly to LA and not having a car means that's not an option.  But if there's a train for a couple hundred bucks then it becomes a reasonable thing.  And that doesn't even count people who already commute to the bay area from the central valley that would now have quick public transit.

                  If you know of a better route for HSR, or have another way to get people to get out of their cars and out of planes then I'm all ears.

                  There revolution will not be televised. But it will be blogged, a lot. Probably more so than is necessary.

                  by AoT on Tue Aug 21, 2012 at 08:10:12 AM PDT

                  [ Parent ]

                  •  So a train for a couple hundred bucks is a better (1+ / 0-)
                    Recommended by:
                    bcdelta

                    option?

                    I just did a quick check on Travelocity.  You can get round trip plane tickets for just $117.  That's total for the round trip.

                    So you would be willing to pay at least $400 to do a train round trip in preference to $117 for a round trip flight?!?

                    That may be reasonable for you - maybe you are afraid of flying - but do you think many other people will feel that way?

                    If you know of a better route for HSR, or have another way to get people to get out of their cars and out of planes then I'm all ears.
                    That's not the right question.  The right question is whether this is a feasible and cost effective project.  Based on what I can see, it isn't.
                    •  I was talking about a couple hundred round trip (0+ / 0-)

                      I would definitely pay more to take a train for a number of reasons.  First being that I wouldn't have to go through security, second being that I wouldn't have to get to and from the airport and instead would just go to the train station, which is far more convenient.  Not to mention that you can bring your bike on the train.

                      That's not the right question.  The right question is whether this is a feasible and cost effective project.  Based on what I can see, it isn't.
                      If you're concerned about global warming then getting people out of planes should be your first priority, simple as that.  And the project is completely feasible, regardless of whether you think it's cost effective.

                      There revolution will not be televised. But it will be blogged, a lot. Probably more so than is necessary.

                      by AoT on Tue Aug 21, 2012 at 08:53:16 AM PDT

                      [ Parent ]

                      •  IF HSR is built (0+ / 0-)

                        You can bet the control freaks at TSA will put in security so it will be like going to the airport.

                        Going through security at SJC is easy anyway and you never have to wait on the tarmac - same for John Wayne, Ontario and Burbank.

                        I predict the cost of building the entire line will easily be $300 billion if it is true high speed.

                        I think central valley is being done first because this is the cheapest part of the construction.  The passes are going to be incredibly expensive unless you want the train slowing down to 50mph.

                        The main problem is the state is in so much financial trouble adding more expenses now takes away from other spending.

                        I do understand the long-term value of the train though, but this is only good if the state doesn't go bankrupt.

                        If you look at all the public spending in the 30s like CCC, TVA, etc. we didn't have much Federal debt and now we have a ton.

                        So huge projects aren't as easy now.

                        If you take the approach that we are going to devalue the currency then 30 year bond issues make sense because when you have to pay back the principal it's not much.

                        So if you advocate big infrastructure projects across the country funded by long-term bonds with the intent of devaluing the currency so the debt is more manageable then this is a different story.

                        But Europe, Japan and others would need to follow suit and it's very difficult to manage inflation so it doesn't go hyper like Weimar.

                        Also note with such an approach middle/lower class suffer as their salaries won't keep pace with inflation.

                        This being said I think inflating our way out of this mess is the only alternative to default, but again it's a path laden with mines.

                        "And there are those who give and know not pain in giving, nor do they seek joy, nor give with mindfulness of virtue; They give as in yonder valley the myrtle breathes its fragrance into space" Khalil Gibran

                        by bcdelta on Tue Aug 21, 2012 at 10:33:09 AM PDT

                        [ Parent ]

                        •  Why would this have more security (0+ / 0-)

                          on the train than regular trains?  There's just as much risk as there is with regular trains.

                          I think central valley is being done first because this is the cheapest part of the construction.  The passes are going to be incredibly expensive unless you want the train slowing down to 50mph.
                          I thought they were pretty explicit about the fact that the flat parts were being done first because they were the cheapest and the easiest, at least it seems like the best reason to do so.  This is only the second high speed line in the US so there's going to be a learning curve.

                          There are a lot of other long term problems you address but really they pale in comparison to global warming and the impending oil crisis.  Build this and people 30 years from now will be incredibly happy with it when they can't afford to drive to work anymore and have a home out where there's no work.  

                          There really isn't room to address the broader issues you bring up, and they are serious problems, but the key thing is remembering that not spending is going to be worse for us in the long run than spending, whether that means on education or high speed rail.  Obviously not on everything, but investing in our future is worth the risk.

                          There revolution will not be televised. But it will be blogged, a lot. Probably more so than is necessary.

                          by AoT on Tue Aug 21, 2012 at 11:29:21 AM PDT

                          [ Parent ]

                          •  Well (0+ / 0-)

                            I think making Acela real high speed would make more sense because of the population densities.

                            I agree that the risk is the same on buses and trains, but a new high speed train would be a target and TSA is expanding operations to highways and other in keeping with their 1984 mentality.

                            There shouldn't be a learning curve if you use firms that have built HST in Europe or Japan.

                            With oil you are assuming EVs, hydrogen or other alt energy vehicles won't take off.

                            I agree with investing in the future and with a long term viewpoint out to 50 and even 100 years, but too much spending can collapse the state.

                            As for the CA HSR - go ahead and build it.  I don't live in CA so it won't affect me if the state goes under.

                            "And there are those who give and know not pain in giving, nor do they seek joy, nor give with mindfulness of virtue; They give as in yonder valley the myrtle breathes its fragrance into space" Khalil Gibran

                            by bcdelta on Tue Aug 21, 2012 at 11:39:10 AM PDT

                            [ Parent ]

                          •  Sigh (1+ / 0-)
                            Recommended by:
                            bcdelta
                            I agree that the risk is the same on buses and trains, but a new high speed train would be a target and TSA is expanding operations to highways and other in keeping with their 1984 mentality.
                            I really hate the fact that you're right on this one.  This country needs to get a damn grip on ourselves.  If we spent the money we spend on terrorism on transit we'd save a hell of a lot more lives.
                            With oil you are assuming EVs, hydrogen or other alt energy vehicles won't take off.
                            And I don't think they will.  The return on energy investment for all of those is high enough that it doesn't really make sense for personal transportation once you factor in the price of construction.  Not to mention the fact that we're going to have to find something new to build the actual roads out of given that we use oil for those too.  I expect we'll see small personal vehicles for people who have mobility issues and have problems with public transit, walking or cycling, but for the most part they'll be gone within 20-30 years.  I could be wrong but I think that's the likely scenario.  If that's the case then not having high speed rail, or at least some rail, would be devastating, especially given the exponential rise in airfare costs when oil is much more expensive.

                            For me the big thing with this is it being a replacement for air flights, that's the reason we need it.  Air travel is going to get a lot, lot more costly and it's already one of the most polluting ways to travel and there's not much we can do about that.

                            There revolution will not be televised. But it will be blogged, a lot. Probably more so than is necessary.

                            by AoT on Tue Aug 21, 2012 at 11:55:24 AM PDT

                            [ Parent ]

                          •  I'll up you one here (0+ / 0-)

                            If we stopped it with war the money could be spent in any number of better ways.

                            If we controlled Wall Street we wouldn't have insane bubbles or the global economy teetering on a precipice.

                            If insurance, suing and pharma weren't so greedy it would be a lot easier to make care for all a reality.

                            We need to rethink our values as a society.

                            Lot's of great things are doable, but not with all the crooked politicians and greedy business people.

                            Imagine if California has 5% unemployment and no deficit spending and hell even a surplus.  Then the train is quite doable even if it needed a subsidy.

                            "And there are those who give and know not pain in giving, nor do they seek joy, nor give with mindfulness of virtue; They give as in yonder valley the myrtle breathes its fragrance into space" Khalil Gibran

                            by bcdelta on Tue Aug 21, 2012 at 01:02:50 PM PDT

                            [ Parent ]

                          •  As for oil (0+ / 0-)

                            We spend $700 billion per annum on foreign oil.  Now if we went EV, hydrogen, etc. fully then that's a lot of additional money in the country that can be spent domestically.

                            Good for jobs, tax revenue, etc.  

                            You're also not giving money to countries that don't like you.  Case and point.  If Iran didn't have a market for their oil then they wouldn't have cash to build nukes and we wouldn't be staring at another potential war in the Middle East.

                            Plus if you get off oil Goldman can't manipulate the pricing and in this regard you control inflation.

                            Finally, no exhaust pollution or ocean spills.

                            Getting off oil is a matter of national security.  As for the environment not much sense in destroying the cradle that sustains all life.

                            Time to think a bit longer term.

                            "And there are those who give and know not pain in giving, nor do they seek joy, nor give with mindfulness of virtue; They give as in yonder valley the myrtle breathes its fragrance into space" Khalil Gibran

                            by bcdelta on Tue Aug 21, 2012 at 01:09:53 PM PDT

                            [ Parent ]

                          •  Because it is easier to derail a high speed train (0+ / 0-)
                            Why would this have more security
                            on the train than regular trains?  There's just as much risk as there is with regular trains.
                            and the consequences of a derailment are horrendous.
                          •  But being on a train actually would make (0+ / 0-)

                            it harder to derail than just throwing crap on the track.  And there's no way we can actually stop people from doing that without some crazy guard towers all up and down the tracks.  This country is just insane these days.

                            There revolution will not be televised. But it will be blogged, a lot. Probably more so than is necessary.

                            by AoT on Tue Aug 21, 2012 at 04:13:09 PM PDT

                            [ Parent ]

                          •  A bomb on a train can cause a derailment (0+ / 0-)
                          •  Which is a lot harder to pull off than putting (0+ / 0-)

                            some stuff on the track.  You seem to be part of the American paranoia about bombs being the worst thing ever and the easiest way to do things.

                            There revolution will not be televised. But it will be blogged, a lot. Probably more so than is necessary.

                            by AoT on Tue Aug 21, 2012 at 11:10:04 PM PDT

                            [ Parent ]

                          •  I'm not sure that's true (1+ / 0-)
                            Recommended by:
                            AoT

                            Shit gets on tracks all the time and trains are designed to handle them.

                            A bomb going off that ruins the train's aerodynamic stability, damages the structural integrity of a car, or knocks the wheels just a little out of alignment is not a normal occurrence that trains are designed to handle.

                            If derailments are going to happen every time a tree branch ends up on the tracks I think we should cancel the whole project.  But I don't think that's likely.

                      •  You're going from SF to LA with your bike? (0+ / 0-)
                        Not to mention that you can bring your bike on the train.
                        Can we agree that this is not a common use case?
                        •  It's not the most important thing (0+ / 0-)

                          but it would certainly be nice.  But, I think we'd see a fair number of people doing the same if they were going to go down to SoCal for a day on the train.  People do this on Cal Train all the time.  A bike is a great last mile, or couple of miles, transit option when paired with a train.

                          There revolution will not be televised. But it will be blogged, a lot. Probably more so than is necessary.

                          by AoT on Tue Aug 21, 2012 at 11:27:58 PM PDT

                          [ Parent ]

                          •  So half the people on the train have bikes? (0+ / 0-)

                            No?  25%?  10%?  

                            Like I said, can we agree that this is not a common use case?

                          •  I'd say that starting out, based on current (0+ / 0-)

                            numbers of bike commuters and bike commuters that use CalTrain and BART I'd say 5% would be a pretty high number to shoot for if the train were to start running today.  Given that those number are increasing by a lot every year and HSR from LA to SF doesn't start running until 2026, I would say we could see about 15-20% use.  Which is a majority of users, but is pretty common.

                            There revolution will not be televised. But it will be blogged, a lot. Probably more so than is necessary.

                            by AoT on Wed Aug 22, 2012 at 08:42:07 AM PDT

                            [ Parent ]

                          •  I don't think you can assume that the same (0+ / 0-)

                            number of people will bring a bicycle on a train from SF to LA as do so on an ordinary commute.

                            When you are traveling that far you are often traveling for more than one day (so you have a bag or two), you are often on business (so you may be wearing a suit), and you are more likely to be higher income or traveling for your company and so less likely to be cost conscious about paying for a taxi or a rental car.

                          •  You're right about that, for sure (0+ / 0-)

                            We can't base future numbers for HSR strictly on current  commute numbers.  

                            When you are traveling that far you are often traveling for more than one day (so you have a bag or two), you are often on business (so you may be wearing a suit), and you are more likely to be higher income or traveling for your company and so less likely to be cost conscious about paying for a taxi or a rental car.
                            So, wearing a suit or having baggage does not at all preclude you from taking the train and riding a bike.  And if we assume a standard graph for the increase in price of gas then by 2026, when the full line between LA and SF is done, then we're looking at around, at the very least, $10 a gallon.  Assuming current rate of supply, which is unlikely.  So, if you work somewhere in the Bay Area and you have to go down to LA sometimes then it makes sense that you should take the train and ride.  Unless you're an idiot and can't figure out how to carry things on a bike.

                            Do you live in California?

                            There revolution will not be televised. But it will be blogged, a lot. Probably more so than is necessary.

                            by AoT on Wed Aug 22, 2012 at 06:16:22 PM PDT

                            [ Parent ]

                          •  Does not preclude does not mean it is (0+ / 0-)

                            more likely.

                            So, wearing a suit or having baggage does not at all preclude you from taking the train and riding a bike.
                            Nope... but it sure as heck makes it less likely.

                            Try putting a garment bag on the back of a bike and then biking in summer in a suit to a business meeting and coming in sweating like a pig.

                            Not very workable.

                            And if we assume a standard graph for the increase in price of gas then by 2026, when the full line between LA and SF is done, then we're looking at around, at the very least, $10 a gallon.
                            You will have to point me to that standard graph.  Here's gasoline prices in constant dollars since 1918.  I'm not seeing the trend you seem to suggest.  http://inflationdata.com/....  What with shale oil and such I would be surprised if there is such a large increase.
                            So, if you work somewhere in the Bay Area and you have to go down to LA sometimes then it makes sense that you should take the train and ride.
                            Yes, because most people who travel from SF to LA on business are bike riders and don't mind getting their luggage to a hotel on a bike and then going from meeting to meeting on a bike lugging a laptop and maybe a briefcase on the back.

                            Can we get real?

                      •  Really? Why? (0+ / 0-)
                        If you're concerned about global warming then getting people out of planes should be your first priority, simple as that.  
                        Seems to me that my first priority should be whatever reduces GHG emissions the most per dollar sent.  Of course, that's because I treat global warming as an environmental problem to be solved, not a religious crusade to eliminate consumerist society.

                        Anyway, do you really think that a high speed train that will apparently be non-cost competitive with air travel on its main route is going to get a lot of people out of planes?

                        •  And your plan to eliminate air travel that's (0+ / 0-)

                          cheaper than high speed rail?  It doesn't exist.

                          There revolution will not be televised. But it will be blogged, a lot. Probably more so than is necessary.

                          by AoT on Tue Aug 21, 2012 at 11:25:18 PM PDT

                          [ Parent ]

                          •  See? It's the religion again (0+ / 0-)

                            Why do I need to eliminate air travel?  There are other lower hanging fruit where a dollar spent will reduce more GHG than by cutting air miles flown.

                            It won't happen anyway - good luck on building a high speed rail from San Francisco to Singapore.

                          •  You conveniently ignore the problem (0+ / 0-)

                            of eliminating GHG emissions from air travel and instead accuse me of following some religion.  I ask again, what's the cheapest way other than HSR to eliminate flights between the Bay Area and SoCal?  Is there some solar powered aircraft I'm not aware of?  Would a fleet of zeppelins be cheaper?  What?

                            And as a reminder, part of the cost of this project includes the fact that it will run solely on alternative fuel sources which means those will need to be developed.  I don't know if the money is directly going toward that, but there's already a big push for it here in California.

                            There revolution will not be televised. But it will be blogged, a lot. Probably more so than is necessary.

                            by AoT on Wed Aug 22, 2012 at 07:55:04 AM PDT

                            [ Parent ]

                          •  Have you considered just praying to Gaea for help? (0+ / 0-)

                            Why shouldn't I ignore the problem or eliminating GHG emissions from air travel?

                            Do you have any evidence that that is the most cost effective way to reduce total GHG emissions versus, for example, eliminating zoning rules that limit urban density and high rise apartment buildings so we can reduce local commuting times?

                            Why are you so fixated on reducing air travel GHG instead of total GHG by whatever means works?

                            And as a reminder, part of the cost of this project includes the fact that it will run solely on alternative fuel sources which means those will need to be developed.
                            Well, that's another example of religious thinking replacing logical goal based planning.

                            Why should we spend money making sure one particular project runs on alternative fuel sources instead of just adding more alternative fuel sources to the overall energy grid wherever it is most cost efficient to do so?

                          •  So what's your solution for reducing (0+ / 0-)

                            GHG omissions from air travel?  Because it seems like it involves doing absolutely nothing.  Again, do you have a single fucking solution to the huge amounts of GHGs released from air travel or are you just going to continue on with your bullshit about religion?

                            There revolution will not be televised. But it will be blogged, a lot. Probably more so than is necessary.

                            by AoT on Wed Aug 22, 2012 at 06:08:53 PM PDT

                            [ Parent ]

                          •  Inability to think about your assumptions is (0+ / 0-)

                            a hallmark of religion.

                            That is what we are seeing here.

                            To AoT, the need to reduce GHG emissions from air travel is a postulate, not a conclusion, and since it is faith based he is not able to logically analyze whether or not it is correct.

                            In actual fact, we need to reduce total GHG emissions in whatever way is most efficient.  I am not aware of any evidence that reducing air travel is a cost efficient way of reducing total GHG emissions.

                          •  That's a long winded way of saying that you have (0+ / 0-)

                            absolutely no plan for reducing GHG emissions from air travel.

                            There revolution will not be televised. But it will be blogged, a lot. Probably more so than is necessary.

                            by AoT on Thu Aug 23, 2012 at 08:44:31 AM PDT

                            [ Parent ]

                          •  Thank you for proving my point (0+ / 0-)

                            I suggest you spend your time worshiping at the Church of Gaiea. We're the reality based community.

                          •  If you aren't worried about GHG emissions (0+ / 0-)

                            from air travel then you are not in fact part of any reality based community.  Thank you for trolling.  And good job with the bullshit accusation of me being a part of some religion.

                            There revolution will not be televised. But it will be blogged, a lot. Probably more so than is necessary.

                            by AoT on Thu Aug 23, 2012 at 10:41:56 AM PDT

                            [ Parent ]

                          •  Note the walk back (0+ / 0-)

                            Suddenly issue is whether or not we should be worried about GHG, not whether or not we must have a plan to reduce them.

                            Actually, I'm not nearly as worried about aviation related GHG as I am about those from road transport.

                            See http://ec.europa.eu/... pages 4 and 9.  Air transport produces about 1/6 as much GHG as road transport and all transportation together produces only 2/3 as much GHG as energy production and about as much as industrial operations.

                            So why are you so fixated on air travel?

                            And good job with the bullshit accusation of me being a part of some religion.
                            Well, you seem to have this religious fixation on air travel GHG that is not related to any logic or evidence and not susceptible to fact based analysis.  

                            If it walks like a duck and quacks like a duck...

              •  Well new freeways (0+ / 0-)

                will be used.  And building mass transit in urban areas is quite different than HSR SF to SD.

                "And there are those who give and know not pain in giving, nor do they seek joy, nor give with mindfulness of virtue; They give as in yonder valley the myrtle breathes its fragrance into space" Khalil Gibran

                by bcdelta on Tue Aug 21, 2012 at 08:34:38 AM PDT

                [ Parent ]

                •  And I'm expected to subsidize the (0+ / 0-)

                  destruction of the environment just because people love their cars.  Forgive me if I'm still not happy about that.  If people spent as much time worried about the actual costs of building a freeway as they do about the what ifs of something we require if we're going to mitigate global warming.  Of course, when people build freeways they only have to take into account the next 5 years so it always look like a good plan.

                  There revolution will not be televised. But it will be blogged, a lot. Probably more so than is necessary.

                  by AoT on Tue Aug 21, 2012 at 09:24:04 AM PDT

                  [ Parent ]

            •  ROI is definitely.. (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              Wham Bam

              ...the issue here.  I have also read that the train will go more slowly on the peninsula and near LA + part of keeping costs down is not using rails in areas that enable high speed.

              Suggested that it would be 3 hours and 40 minutes to LA.

              So slower means less reason to ride.

              And like you said how much does it cost?

              No point in building it if you don't get the ridership - better to repave roads or build new solar utilities or other.

              The technology is certainly cool and I would love to see it, but I don't think one can be so cavalier with so much money.

              "And there are those who give and know not pain in giving, nor do they seek joy, nor give with mindfulness of virtue; They give as in yonder valley the myrtle breathes its fragrance into space" Khalil Gibran

              by bcdelta on Tue Aug 21, 2012 at 07:55:02 AM PDT

              [ Parent ]

            •  You are leaving out other costs in this "analysis" (0+ / 0-)

              You must be against any public investment that doesn't recoup the initial investment, right?

              The problem is that this type of calculation leads to poor decisions. Either not investing in transit or investing in alternatives (air and freeways) also has costs involved, which are high and will get higher in the future. Many things we invest in do not pay for themselves with tickets, but have other associated benefits that make them worthwhile in the long-term, both to local economies and to human well-being. So where do these other comparative costs and benefits of rail fit into your analysis?

              Hopefully you'll rerun the numbers with better data.

          •  Silicon Valley's (0+ / 0-)

            problem is more and more tech jobs go to China, India and neighboring states.

            Don't know how high speed rail is going to change this.

            As for LA don't know.

            And the more debt California has the higher the taxes have to be to pay for it.  Too much tax drives companies and people out of the state.

            "And there are those who give and know not pain in giving, nor do they seek joy, nor give with mindfulness of virtue; They give as in yonder valley the myrtle breathes its fragrance into space" Khalil Gibran

            by bcdelta on Tue Aug 21, 2012 at 08:02:26 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  For one, rail makes cost of living cheaper (0+ / 0-)

              because people can work in SV and live a ways away and still have a convenient commute.  You go 30 miles inland and cost of living drops drastically.

              And the more debt California has the higher the taxes have to be to pay for it.  Too much tax drives companies and people out of the state.
              California isn't raising taxes significantly any time soon and the idea that taxes are a major reason for people leaving a state is something I find terribly unlikely.  With companies I expect it's more of an issue, but even then, Apple isn't in Cupertino because it's cheap.

              There revolution will not be televised. But it will be blogged, a lot. Probably more so than is necessary.

              by AoT on Tue Aug 21, 2012 at 08:15:39 AM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  Apple (0+ / 0-)

                can afford to be in Cupertino given all their slave labor at Foxconn in China.

                And a lot of Silicon Valley companies are expanding operations outside of California - TX, AZ, UT, OR, etc.

                As for people commuting from outside of Silicon Valley - this represents building rail service for an urban area.

                I know people that commute from Stockton and Sac, but not many from Merced or Fresno.

                In truth the central valley portion of the line will be the cheapest to build.  What's expensive will be the passes, peninsula and LA.

                "And there are those who give and know not pain in giving, nor do they seek joy, nor give with mindfulness of virtue; They give as in yonder valley the myrtle breathes its fragrance into space" Khalil Gibran

                by bcdelta on Tue Aug 21, 2012 at 10:14:53 AM PDT

                [ Parent ]

        •  If California's tax system isn't fixed, I think (5+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          elfling, native, ozsea1, Woody, BYw

          California is going to be screwed with or without the rail system. They are unable to maintain the education system as it is.
               The rail system is critical to move the state into a modern transportation system. Without it, their only choice is to continue expanding the freeway system, & the roadways are already at an untenable level of complexity & congestion.

          -7.25, -6.26

          We are men of action; lies do not become us.

          by ER Doc on Mon Aug 20, 2012 at 04:21:01 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  There is one hell of a lot of money (4+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            ozsea1, Woody, BYw, Calamity Jean

            flowing through California. If the state can't siphon off enough to support itself, and then some, there is indeed something wrong with its tax structure.

            "Here's another nice mess you've gotten me into." - Oliver Hardy

            by native on Mon Aug 20, 2012 at 04:56:56 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

          •  In urban areas (0+ / 0-)

            the highways are crowded, but the 5 in the central valley is fine.

            So better to start with better train systems in Bay Area and LA first if goal is to reduce traffic.

            "And there are those who give and know not pain in giving, nor do they seek joy, nor give with mindfulness of virtue; They give as in yonder valley the myrtle breathes its fragrance into space" Khalil Gibran

            by bcdelta on Tue Aug 21, 2012 at 07:56:57 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

        •  The project was proposed more than 10 years ago (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          AoT

          and the legislature first approved putting the bond on the ballot almost 10 years ago. The bond actually appeared on the 2008 ballot after years of delay.

          Projects that large take years of planning and replanning, especially under the current political environment where it is easier to say no and that we want to have answers to all possible impacts before construction.

          If we say no, the project would likely be delayed for another 10 years in the minimum. It would make the project more difficult as cities and other property owners start to build things that would conflict with the HSR route. The economy would be just as hard to predict.

          Even though the project is expensive, I don't think there's a real trade off to other state priorities. The state isn't going to need the bond money all at once, because construction will take place in multiple years. Also part of the cost will be coming from the federal government. We have to remember that schools and such are ongoing operating costs. Even if we kill HSR the money saved isn't going to keep the schools throughout the state running much longer.

      •  Strange that this argument (37+ / 0-)

        is never raised with respect to freeways, which definitely do not support themselves at all!

        Courtesy Kos. Trying to call on the better angels of our nature.

        by Mindful Nature on Mon Aug 20, 2012 at 10:43:08 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  On the East Coast they do.. (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          hmi

          ...Because we have a lot of toll roads.  This way the end users pay for them.  Given how the interstate system was set-up I don't think one is allowed to put tolls on freeways that were built by the Feds in the 50s and thereafter.

          As for freeways in California - how much of the gas tax goes into them or other roads/bridges?

          At any rate, roads are heavily used so the investment makes sense.

          Will HSR be heavily used?   I guess we will find out.

          Again not opposed to  it just think it is being undertaken in a very bad economic environment and in doing so will hurt all other necessary services and infrastructure in the state.

          "And there are those who give and know not pain in giving, nor do they seek joy, nor give with mindfulness of virtue; They give as in yonder valley the myrtle breathes its fragrance into space" Khalil Gibran

          by bcdelta on Mon Aug 20, 2012 at 11:08:21 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  Not all that many toll roads (8+ / 0-)

            A lot more of the highways are true freeways (no pay on or off), and people who can avoid the toll roads do so. The usual result is a vicious circle in which tolls are jacked to make up for the lost revenues, resulting in more people avoiding the toll roads, resulting in more toll increases, lather rinse repeat, until it costs more to man the toll booths than they receive in revenue - at which point the toll booths go away. The classic example is Connecticut's Merritt Parkway, which gave up collecting tolls in 1988 because it was losing money on them because it was losing too much traffic to the parallel (toll-free) I-95.

            If it's
            Not your body,
            Then it's
            Not your choice
            And it's
            None of your damn business!

            by TheOtherMaven on Mon Aug 20, 2012 at 11:32:29 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  Well (2+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              banjolele, hmi

              NJ Turnpike and Garden State Parkway are cash cows as are all the bridges between NY/NJ.

              And the toll increases are annoying, but it doesn't seem to stop heavy usage.

              "And there are those who give and know not pain in giving, nor do they seek joy, nor give with mindfulness of virtue; They give as in yonder valley the myrtle breathes its fragrance into space" Khalil Gibran

              by bcdelta on Mon Aug 20, 2012 at 11:47:40 AM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  What's the alternative? We need trains. We need (10+ / 0-)

                modern (Latin-American style) busses.

                CA needs to raise taxes.  All else is bs.  Reagan is still strangling his state, years after his death and many years after he (& CA Republicans) lost their minds.

                •  Prop 13 (1+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  Calamity Jean

                  which is very popular has robbed the state of a lot of tax revenue, but unclear that this would be voted away.

                  "And there are those who give and know not pain in giving, nor do they seek joy, nor give with mindfulness of virtue; They give as in yonder valley the myrtle breathes its fragrance into space" Khalil Gibran

                  by bcdelta on Mon Aug 20, 2012 at 01:07:58 PM PDT

                  [ Parent ]

                  •  without citizens united (7+ / 0-)

                    We could at least roll it back to no longer apply to commercial property.  

                    With CU, I'm not sure we could do even that.

                    The world will end not with a bang, but with a "Do'oh!"
                    "America is a free speech zone."

                    by Love and Death on Mon Aug 20, 2012 at 01:37:18 PM PDT

                    [ Parent ]

                    •  Unclear why commercial stuff (1+ / 0-)
                      Recommended by:
                      Calamity Jean

                      is protected under prop 13.  I bet HP in Palo Alto has a huge tax break on their huge campus.

                      I wonder if they would leave the Bay Area if their taxes went up?

                      "And there are those who give and know not pain in giving, nor do they seek joy, nor give with mindfulness of virtue; They give as in yonder valley the myrtle breathes its fragrance into space" Khalil Gibran

                      by bcdelta on Mon Aug 20, 2012 at 01:53:47 PM PDT

                      [ Parent ]

                      •  The additional problem with Prop 13, as I (9+ / 0-)

                        understand it, is that the smart companies immediately transferred their real property to a holding company so that they can sell the holding company rather than the property itself and then they can even sell that property freely by selling the holding company but the taxes stay at their 1970s level.    Of course, Joe Homeowner, who was alleged to be the primary beneficiary under Prop 13, finds that sort of arrangement to be infeasible.  I could live with Prop 13 applying to homeowners, though I still think that it artificially inflates the value of residential real estate in California, but having it apply to businesses who are able to abuse the process that way really should be unacceptable.  Odds are, knowing who the proponents were, maybe that enormous commercial property loophole was intentional.

                        "The first drawback of anger is that it destroys your inner peace; the second is that it distorts your view of reality. If you come to understand that anger is really unhelpful, you can begin to distance yourself from anger." - The Dalai Lama

                        by auron renouille on Mon Aug 20, 2012 at 02:26:48 PM PDT

                        [ Parent ]

                      •  It was protected because the people who wrote it (5+ / 0-)
                        Recommended by:
                        ozsea1, hooper, BYw, AoT, Calamity Jean

                        had that as their primary goal. They only included homeowners as a sweetener.

                        Fry, don't be a hero! It's not covered by our health plan!

                        by elfling on Mon Aug 20, 2012 at 04:49:31 PM PDT

                        [ Parent ]

                    •  Doubt citizens united matters (1+ / 0-)
                      Recommended by:
                      ozsea1

                      California initiatives already allowed unlimited corporate contributions.

                      Fry, don't be a hero! It's not covered by our health plan!

                      by elfling on Mon Aug 20, 2012 at 04:48:13 PM PDT

                      [ Parent ]

              •  An Illustration (2+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                ozsea1, AoT

                My drive, about 30 miles from Brooklyn, out to see mom in NJ. My usual route requires the Brooklyn-Battery Tunnel ($4.80-$6.50) in one direction, then the Turnpike ($2.45) and the Holland Tunnel ($9.50-$12) in the other. Alternatively, I can take the Bayonne Bridge ($7.50-$12) instead of the turnpike and tunnel. If I go out via the Verrazano Bridge, it's $9.60-$13. [prices depend on when I travel and how I pay].

                So, as a rough guesstimate, each roundtrip costs about $17 in tolls (plus the taxes on gas). Plus the highway portion of other taxes I pay. I can actually shave that down to possibly as little as $9.75, but (except in the dead of night) at the cost of adding about 30 minutes to the 60-minute trip out and maybe 15 to the trip back. There is no option that avoids tolls entirely without adding many miles and about 90 minutes to the trip.

                •  And the west coast, especially California (1+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  ozsea1

                  has a lot more miles of highway, so we get less all around.  We just have bridge tolls, and normally that mean $5 for a days commute.  

                  There revolution will not be televised. But it will be blogged, a lot. Probably more so than is necessary.

                  by AoT on Mon Aug 20, 2012 at 04:25:15 PM PDT

                  [ Parent ]

            •  Australia has toll roads but no booths (4+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              BusyinCA, ozsea1, Woody, BYw

              You need an account linked to a credit or debit account to drive on the road. No transponders either. Cameras read your license plate.

              The universe may have a meaning and a purpose, but it may just specifically not include you.

              by Anne Elk on Mon Aug 20, 2012 at 01:26:34 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  Same is true now (3+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                ozsea1, Woody, TexasTom

                in South Florida and in Texas, at least around DFW.

                Still enjoying my stimulus package.

                by Kevvboy on Mon Aug 20, 2012 at 03:31:18 PM PDT

                [ Parent ]

                •  And it doesn't work very well... (0+ / 0-)

                  ...lots of problems with people not being billed, and those who are billed just not paying.  The problem isn't with those who have the linked accounts, but with those who don't -- and who are supposed to receive a bill in the mail if they use the tollroads.

                  I don't know how it's working in Australia, but here in North Texas, I'd call the boothless tollroads a failure.

                  Political Compass: -6.75, -3.08

                  by TexasTom on Mon Aug 20, 2012 at 09:19:21 PM PDT

                  [ Parent ]

                  •  EZ Pass Transponder tolls (0+ / 0-)

                    work from Maine to Virginia and work very well.

                    "And there are those who give and know not pain in giving, nor do they seek joy, nor give with mindfulness of virtue; They give as in yonder valley the myrtle breathes its fragrance into space" Khalil Gibran

                    by bcdelta on Tue Aug 21, 2012 at 08:43:18 AM PDT

                    [ Parent ]

          •  Amtrak California's San Joaquin service (5+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            psyched, Sychotic1, AoT, ozsea1, BYw

            is already heavily used. Not a lot of empty seats when I've ridden it, and that's just a boring slow train.

            Fry, don't be a hero! It's not covered by our health plan!

            by elfling on Mon Aug 20, 2012 at 01:16:56 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  Oh, and its end destination is Bakersfield! :-) nt (2+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              ozsea1, BYw

              Fry, don't be a hero! It's not covered by our health plan!

              by elfling on Mon Aug 20, 2012 at 04:50:21 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  And there is a reason for that. (0+ / 0-)

                There is no practical rail route from the Central Valley to Southern California.  Not in the last 130 years has one been built...low speed, or high speed.  The BEST route currently goes up over Tehachepi Pass, through some 15 mph curves, and around the famous Tehachepi Loop, which doubles back over itself to gain altitude.  Then it zips across the desert, and churns down steep and winding Cajon Pass.

                California has more difficult geography than the East Coast.  I am a HUGE proponent of light rail, and high speed rail, and rail in general.  And I have voted against this project three times, now, in my lifetime...two for "feasability studies" (both of which decided it still wasn't), and then the actual building.  If they can find a way to do it, I'm all for it, will use it, will promote it, and will cite it as a positive example for other states to follow.

                But I'm pretty sure they won't.

                When banjos are outlawed, only outlaws will have banjos.

                by Bisbonian on Mon Aug 20, 2012 at 06:24:56 PM PDT

                [ Parent ]

                •  Passenger rail can do steeper grades (0+ / 0-)

                  so they don't have to do the loop in Tehachapi. The route then goes down through Palmdale and then Soledad Canyon back to Santa Clarita and then the San Fernando Valley.

                  Fry, don't be a hero! It's not covered by our health plan!

                  by elfling on Mon Aug 20, 2012 at 10:06:28 PM PDT

                  [ Parent ]

                  •  Depending on the equipment, it certainly can. (0+ / 0-)

                    Especially so called "Light Rail".  But I can't find any "High Speed Rail" routes around the world with steep grades or tight curves.  Again...I'll rejoice if this somehow manages to be the first.

                    When banjos are outlawed, only outlaws will have banjos.

                    by Bisbonian on Sat Aug 25, 2012 at 04:54:33 PM PDT

                    [ Parent ]

            •  Right, but will HSR be (0+ / 0-)

              heavily used if a lot more expensive?

              "And there are those who give and know not pain in giving, nor do they seek joy, nor give with mindfulness of virtue; They give as in yonder valley the myrtle breathes its fragrance into space" Khalil Gibran

              by bcdelta on Tue Aug 21, 2012 at 08:43:59 AM PDT

              [ Parent ]

          •  "not opposed to it" concern noted (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            BYw, AoT

            again.

            We get it.

            Next.

            "No man is rich enough to buy back his past." ~ Oscar Wilde

            by ozsea1 on Mon Aug 20, 2012 at 06:32:32 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

        •  I do. I raise that issue all the time. (4+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          bcdelta, Mindful Nature, Sychotic1, BYw

          Cities like Portland actually put zoning fences around themselves, something CA and various other cities have never done. And what you get is an urban sprawl that cannot be served adequately by any system - rail or freeway.

          The universe may have a meaning and a purpose, but it may just specifically not include you.

          by Anne Elk on Mon Aug 20, 2012 at 01:24:56 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  In fact (4+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            shaharazade, AoT, elfling, BYw

            the limits to growth on San Francisco itself is part of what has turned it into such a vibrant city.  Expansion isn't an option, really.  

            Of course, that lack of zoning is a conscious effort on the part of powerful interests.  Tide may be turning though.

            Courtesy Kos. Trying to call on the better angels of our nature.

            by Mindful Nature on Mon Aug 20, 2012 at 01:47:15 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  Imagine how much less interesting (0+ / 0-)

              San Francisco would be with a Caltrans-special concrete-and-rebar span from Marin to SF.

              I think that bridge probably doubles property values.

              Fry, don't be a hero! It's not covered by our health plan!

              by elfling on Mon Aug 20, 2012 at 05:19:44 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

            •  Considering the way that... (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              AoT

              ...San Francisco has priced out working and middle class people, I can't really consider it to be a successful example of urban policy.  Unless we consider creating vibrant playgrounds for the upper class to be a desirable urban policy.

              Political Compass: -6.75, -3.08

              by TexasTom on Mon Aug 20, 2012 at 09:25:38 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  It's looking more and more like that's (1+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                TexasTom

                where more and more cities are moving.  Gentrification is the new norm.

                There revolution will not be televised. But it will be blogged, a lot. Probably more so than is necessary.

                by AoT on Tue Aug 21, 2012 at 07:06:24 AM PDT

                [ Parent ]

                •  And while that's a marginally preferable... (1+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  AoT

                  ...outcome to having dead downtowns and vast urban slums, it's a shame that we can't find some sort of balance.

                  Political Compass: -6.75, -3.08

                  by TexasTom on Tue Aug 21, 2012 at 09:12:35 AM PDT

                  [ Parent ]

                  •  One of my worries is that we'll end up (1+ / 0-)
                    Recommended by:
                    TexasTom

                    like France where the slums are the suburbs.  It's very worrying for the future.

                    There revolution will not be televised. But it will be blogged, a lot. Probably more so than is necessary.

                    by AoT on Tue Aug 21, 2012 at 09:16:29 AM PDT

                    [ Parent ]

                    •  Danger is there... (1+ / 0-)
                      Recommended by:
                      AoT

                      ...but perhaps not as high as in Europe.  I've not been to France, but I have been to Italy and have to say that the suburbs surrounding Rome are some very depressing places -- anyone who has a choice is going to choose to live somewhere else.  U.S. suburbs really are pretty liveable by comparison.

                      That said, there is the risk of the slummification of our suburbs.  That risk is particularly high in some of the exurbs that were dramatically overbuilt during the housing bubble and suffered from massive foreclosures and many vacant houses as a result.

                      Another worry is that some of the close in suburbs have become poorer in recent years -- shunned by buyers who choose to either live in the city or to go to areas with newer homes.  Old suburbs can get lost in the shuffle.  Fortunately, I suspect that this will turn out to be a temporary trend and that many (hopefully most) close in suburbs will ultimately redevelop in a favorable way.

                      Political Compass: -6.75, -3.08

                      by TexasTom on Tue Aug 21, 2012 at 08:49:08 PM PDT

                      [ Parent ]

          •  Portland besides (5+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            AoT, ozsea1, Woody, hooper, BYw

            urban boundaries, has light rail transit  which is being expanded to outlying areas replacing slow bus roots.. The burbs included. Just because all urban sprawl can't be served adequately doesn't mean that cities can't develop over time rail systems that serve commuters and develop public transportation systems that ease the choked freeways. We have to start somewhere and developing transportation methods that are sustainable and not carbon based is a great way to start. It's also a good public 'job creator' . We as a nation need to rethink the infrastructure of our communities and our land  development.  

          •  The trade off is... (0+ / 0-)

            ...that those urban boundaries seem to drive the cost of housing upwards.  

            At the extreme, you have San Francisco, which is outrageously expensive -- and I don't consider it to be successful urban policy if one of the results is to price middle class and working people out of the city.

            Rather than urban boundaries, I would prefer to see a system that would assess impact fees on developers based on density and proximity to existing developments.  What this would mean is that a development that is adjacent to existing urban/suburban developments would have a lower fee than one that is five miles out past the middle of nowhere.  Similarly, developments that proposed large lots would be assessed higher fees.

            This might have the effect of encouraging infill development without driving housing prices up to outrageously high levels.

            Political Compass: -6.75, -3.08

            by TexasTom on Mon Aug 20, 2012 at 09:24:10 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

      •  Agreed but by taxes as opposed to bonds. (0+ / 0-)

        The bonds are increasing the price and redistributing the payments to the next gen.

        Let all Bush tax cuts expire and , bring on the Sequestration cuts to defense.

        by kck on Mon Aug 20, 2012 at 02:31:33 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  Roads don't support themselves either. (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        hooper, BYw

        I'd much rather have a train or better bus service than another two lanes of freeway gridlock.

        Mitt's full of it / Ryan's lyin' -- "Your money and your life."

        by BusyinCA on Mon Aug 20, 2012 at 05:36:51 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  Strangely... (10+ / 0-)

      .....I think getting dropped off in downtown is a good idea. Despite the presence of the Burbank Airport, I'd say downtown and the SG Valley are badly underserved and could really use HSR.

      The best parallel for distance and population is the Madrid/Seville line, which has GREAT utilization.

      No one ever created a vibrant economy by building houses for each other. Houses are built because there is a vibrant economy.

      by Doug in SF on Mon Aug 20, 2012 at 11:25:13 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  More than one station (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Woody

        There will be stations in Burbank and Sylmar as well.

        Those who ignore the future are condemned to repeat it.

        by enigmamf on Mon Aug 20, 2012 at 12:30:29 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  With so many stations how can the trains go fast? (0+ / 0-)

          If they have to keep stopping and starting you don't really have a high speed rail any more.

          Rail is great when city geometries work.  For example, I frequently use the through train from Guangzhou to Hong Kong.  It has three stops - Hong Kong Hung Hom, Dongguan, and Guangzhou.  Works like a charm because those are the key population centers and you can use taxis (or sometimes bus in HK) from them to wherever you are going.

          But if you need stop after stop after stop it just becomes pointless - takes too long.

      •  Downtown LA is far better served by rail (5+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        side pocket, psyched, ozsea1, Woody, BYw

        than by any of the airports. LAX is about an hour away, and Burbank maybe 30-40 minutes most of the time.

        Not counting the time looking for parking once you get to LA proper. :-)

        There's quite a congregation of offices and apartments around Union Station now.

        Fry, don't be a hero! It's not covered by our health plan!

        by elfling on Mon Aug 20, 2012 at 01:19:24 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  I needed to go (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      bcdelta, bnasley, Caelian

      from Amsterdam to Eindhovan in The  Netherlands.  What makes the trains there work is that they connect to good city rail.  So I took a train to the main station, and I could, if needed, connect.  In Europe one is very depending on the other, which is why it works.

      Building one without the other in the US strikes me as a significant risk.  Given the damage being done to the California higher Ed system, I am not sure this is the best use of money.

      The bitter truth of deep inequality has been disguised by an era of cheap imported goods and the anyone-can-make-it celebrity myth - Polly Toynbee

      by fladem on Mon Aug 20, 2012 at 11:29:39 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  California higher ed will get a lot of benefit (4+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        psyched, AoT, Woody, BYw

        because the route through the Central Valley will serve many CSU (and UC) campuses, making them much more accessible to cities and to airports and for students. It will be a quick hop to travel between CSU Fresno and CSU Bakersfield or UC Davis. Students will be able to go home for weekends without having to drive themselves. Researchers will be more able to collaborate; high school students will be more able to visit.

        In addition, there's nothing quite like having an engineering wonder to generate interest in invention and technology. Just ask the nice people at JPL. :-)

        Fry, don't be a hero! It's not covered by our health plan!

        by elfling on Mon Aug 20, 2012 at 01:22:46 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  I sure the students in UC (0+ / 0-)

          would prefer lower tuition costs after all the budget cuts before having HSR.

          "And there are those who give and know not pain in giving, nor do they seek joy, nor give with mindfulness of virtue; They give as in yonder valley the myrtle breathes its fragrance into space" Khalil Gibran

          by bcdelta on Tue Aug 21, 2012 at 08:48:56 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  Tuition has been skyrocketing for 25 years (0+ / 0-)

            It's not HSR that's the problem.

            Fry, don't be a hero! It's not covered by our health plan!

            by elfling on Tue Aug 21, 2012 at 10:22:51 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  Right (0+ / 0-)

              I was talking about how the strapped state govt. cut subsidies to the UC system.  The cost of ever increasing education does need to be addressed nationally.

              But I bet when you try to do this teacher's and other unions will fight you tooth and nail.  Probably business as well that makes money off of universities.

              "And there are those who give and know not pain in giving, nor do they seek joy, nor give with mindfulness of virtue; They give as in yonder valley the myrtle breathes its fragrance into space" Khalil Gibran

              by bcdelta on Tue Aug 21, 2012 at 10:35:43 AM PDT

              [ Parent ]

      •  We have to start somewhere with transit (4+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        ozsea1, Woody, BYw, rosarugosa

        and this is a good as anything.  The only solution for Higher Education is to raise taxes.  At some point there will be a large enough Dem majority in the legislature to do that.  Really, we need to get rid of prop 13 if we want a reasonable future.

        There revolution will not be televised. But it will be blogged, a lot. Probably more so than is necessary.

        by AoT on Mon Aug 20, 2012 at 04:37:52 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Or see where the state (0+ / 0-)

          is wasting money, cut the waste and then put some of the saved money back into the UC system.

          And California like all states wastes a ton of money.

          If you raise taxes too much people will leave the state further dropping tax revenue.

          "And there are those who give and know not pain in giving, nor do they seek joy, nor give with mindfulness of virtue; They give as in yonder valley the myrtle breathes its fragrance into space" Khalil Gibran

          by bcdelta on Tue Aug 21, 2012 at 08:50:40 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  Tax rates have a fairly small (0+ / 0-)

            effect on people leaving the state.  People don't live in the Bay Area because of the great prices.

            And really, nothing is going to get fixed until we deal with prop 13.  We can't have a reasonable budget if companies are paying virtually nothing in property taxes.  Part of the reason for the stupid high property prices is that there are no property taxes pushing them down.

            There revolution will not be televised. But it will be blogged, a lot. Probably more so than is necessary.

            by AoT on Tue Aug 21, 2012 at 09:06:44 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  Agreed on Prop 13 (0+ / 0-)

              "And there are those who give and know not pain in giving, nor do they seek joy, nor give with mindfulness of virtue; They give as in yonder valley the myrtle breathes its fragrance into space" Khalil Gibran

              by bcdelta on Tue Aug 21, 2012 at 09:46:45 AM PDT

              [ Parent ]

    •  Not sure if you've actually looked at the route (5+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      gffish, elfling, psyched, Woody, BYw

      ... But there will be far more stations than there are airports - ten around the Southland (LA/Riverside) area.

      And, LA's connecting commuter routes (light rail and Metrolink) do a pretty good job at connecting the rest of the metroplex to those stations.

      Those who ignore the future are condemned to repeat it.

      by enigmamf on Mon Aug 20, 2012 at 12:28:26 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Wouldn't be an issue (5+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      psyched, Woody, BYw, AoT, rosarugosa

      If it went hand-in-hand with an expansion of the LA Metro, which is what they're trying to do.  You would be able to take the subway or the Metrolink from Union Station to wherever you needed to go, and get there much faster than you would by sitting in traffic on the freeways.

    •  On Amtrak losing money (6+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      elfling, bcdelta, AoT, smartguy11, ozsea1, BYw

      You wrote: Amtrak on the East Coast has a nice relatively high speed line, but it loses money.

      By "it" do you mean the Acela, or Amtrak altogether?

      Acela actually makes money.  Amtrak as a whole loses buckets of money, in large part because they are providing unprofitable long-haul passenger rail service that isn't competitive with either bus or air travel.  The niche of rail is medium-distance travel, not cross country trips.  Rail does well on routes where a train can be as fast as (or nearly so) a plane flight (including time spent on ground), but without all the hassles of air travel.  For longer trips (>800miles with HSR), air travel will be more lucrative; and for budget travelers, you can't beat the bus.

      Note that CAHSR is well within the sweet spot for high-speed rail.

      In many ways, Amtrak is rural pork to places such as North Dakota.

    •  But do you need to do everything at once... (5+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      bcdelta, psyched, ozsea1, Woody, BYw

      I would suggest that HSR will regenerate the areas that it serves revitalising downtowns, and thus creating demand for feeder services. That at least is the experience in Europe.

      As for the question of debt in CA, a tricky one, albeit one of CA voters own making to some extent given your tax straitjacket, but if you view this as an investment in the future; an opportunity to reshape infrastruture and the fabric of places, to network the economy, then would it not be worth it?

      The example I know best is Lyon whose economy and city transport has benefited so much from a 2hr TGV ride from Paris - that interconnection is a boon for tourism and the broader business economy. There will be those who talk of videoconferencing in the latter context but it is a poor substitute for the face to face.

      •  There are many more trips I would make (4+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        psyched, ozsea1, Woody, BYw

        and money that I would spend, if I could get to southern California and back by rail quickly enough to turn it around in a day.

        Fry, don't be a hero! It's not covered by our health plan!

        by elfling on Mon Aug 20, 2012 at 01:25:54 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Very easy to do this by flying now. (0+ / 0-)

          While I prefer going for a few days I have done a bunch of day trips to LAX, John Wayne, etc. - very easy.

          "And there are those who give and know not pain in giving, nor do they seek joy, nor give with mindfulness of virtue; They give as in yonder valley the myrtle breathes its fragrance into space" Khalil Gibran

          by bcdelta on Tue Aug 21, 2012 at 08:52:45 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

    •  As it happens, I am using Amtrak already (9+ / 0-)

      to commute between northern and southern California.

      It's not the case at all that Downtown LA is your only stop. In addition to all the rail stops (there's one in the Anaheim stadium parking lot quite convenient to Disneyland), Amtrak has a fleet of buses that extends its range in all directions.

      As it happens, I am not near an airport, nor is my typical Southern California destination. By the time I drive to an airport bus, board the airport bus, wait for my flight, fly, then take an airport shuttle to my final destination, I've spent far more time (and often more money) on the ground than I have in the air. So a 1 hour air trip actually takes me about 6 hours or a bit more to complete by the time all the schedules and slack and waiting come together.

      As it happens, both my endpoints are near Amtrak-served locations. I can take a bus just 20 minutes from my house to Amtrak, and arrive by train 10 minutes from my final destination. The total trip takes around 9 hours, costs less than I paid for ground-only transport for my air travel, and for most of it I can sit and work productively.

      Once it's train all the way from the Bay Area to LA, it will be profoundly better; once the HSR is running the full length, it will be much faster than my doorstep to doorstep for air travel, as well as being more convenient.

      There's less sprawl in California than you might realize... and the way to turn it around is to have options like high speed rail so that you don't need acres of parking for every possible destination, and so that people have a reason to colocate walking distance from a train station.

      No one, anywhere, is walking distance from an airport.

      Fry, don't be a hero! It's not covered by our health plan!

      by elfling on Mon Aug 20, 2012 at 01:15:27 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Your point is excellent (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        elfling

        but I will let you know that here in Key West, I can walk to the airport, and I do unless it's raining!  (We also have a good bus system that will take me there, but mostly I ride my bike....)

        Still enjoying my stimulus package.

        by Kevvboy on Mon Aug 20, 2012 at 03:33:41 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  there are a ton of problems with this proposal (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      bcdelta

      1) the initial investment: They are buidling the line in central california. WTF? We start with a bakersfield line? There will be zero ridership.

      2) Cost is now projected over $100B, and almost double what it was estimated when voters approved the project.

      3) A line between Northern California and Southern california is crazy. Its just too far and the airplane is a much better option.

      What would make sense? A high speed line between Los Angeles and San Diego with a stop in Orange County in Between in between and A bay area line with stops in San Jose, SF, etc.

      That would get people out of their cars and lined up because it would be by far the most efficient way to get there.

      There is no way high speed rail between LA and SF or sacramento will every replace airplane travel.

      •  Get up to speed (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        BYw, AoT, elfling

        To properly test the new high-speed system, trains and all the rest, they were required to build a test track of some length. So they put the test track in the Central Valley where there is some flat, open space and less congestion. That way they get twice the use out of it, first as test track, then as the Initial Operating Segment.

        And until the middle section is extended to the big cities, no fool can say, "This is enuf, let's stop here." Whereas building a segment reaching out from one of the big cities would have opened the door to the long-distance HSR being aborted and the completed right of way used for a glorified commuter train.

        If we gave up on every construction project likely to come in over budget, we could fulfill Grover Norquist's dream of drowning the government in the bathtub. Of course cost estimates are always changing, as engineering proceeds and guesstimates become solid estimates. The current estimates will change again, probably every year, sometimes revised up again, and other times down again.

        Railroads are high volume operations. HSR has been most successful between large population centers. If it only runs between Bakersfield and Fresno, there is not enuf population base to justify the investments. But the millions of people in the L.A. Basin and the Bay Area will certainly fill the trains, no worries.

        •   (0+ / 0-)

          The state government can't have voters approve a project for $60B and then two years later say, oops its actually $120B. That has nothing to do with Grover, it has to do with having a responsible professional government that is truthful with its citizens when it puts things to a vote.

          The distance between Northern California and Southern California population centers is too great, with too few people in between to justify high speed rail between the two when air travel is cheaper and quicker. What makes the most sense is two high speed rail projects: One That connects the Southern California Counties (Riverside, San Bernardino, LA, Orange, San Diego) and another that connects the Northen California Area (SF, Oakland, San Jose, Sacremento etc)

          Those would get heavy usage.

        •  Actually you need to get up to speed (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Woody

          The reason the first leg is in the central valley is because Blue Dog Democratic Rep. Jim Costa demanded that in exchange for his vote for Pres. Obama's health care reform bill. It has nothing to do with it being the right place to be. It is a payback for his support of healthcare reform, and the wrong action for the state. From the LA Times:

          "But the Obama administration has threatened to withdraw the $3.3 billion in federal money if dirt doesn't begin flying first in the San Joaquin Valley. That's largely because of a commitment to Rep. Jim Costa, a moderate Blue Dog Democrat from Fresno, according to several Democratic sources who requested anonymity.

          They say Costa voted for the president's healthcare reform after being assured that rail construction would begin in his district."

          The state government can't have voters approve a project for $60B and then two years later say, oops its actually $120B. That has nothing to do with Grover, it has to do with having a responsible professional government that is truthful with its citizens when it puts things to a vote.

          The distance between Northern California and Southern California population centers is too great, with too few people in between to justify high speed rail between the two when air travel is cheaper and quicker. What makes the most sense is two high speed rail projects: One That connects the Southern California Counties (Riverside, San Bernardino, LA, Orange, San Diego) and another that connects the Northen California Area (SF, Oakland, San Jose, Sacremento etc)

          Those would get heavy usage. Once those lines get heavy usage and prove their worth, you build the connector if it appears there wll be usage. Currently, the best case for how they are building the train is a connection between LA and SF in a little under 3 hours. And that is best case. A plane takes 50 minutes.

          •  A real world example (0+ / 0-)

            Let's look at the real world experience in Spain. There a HSR line that opened in 2007 has knocked the planes from the skies between Madrid and Barcelona. The trains carry about 6 million passengers a year. (That figure includes more than a million examples of "induced demand" from people who would not have made the trip at all before the quick trips at reasonable prices became available.)

            The AVE trains have more than 80% of the air/passenger train market. (Iberia operates now in the airport-to-airport segment of the market, not really much in the city-to-city market. Its puddle-jumper flights are largely for passengers connecting to long flights from the hubs. And Ryan Air flies no frills for those who can stand it.)

            The AVE's distance from center city Madrid to center city Barcelona is 386 miles. One-stop trains take 2 hours 30 minutes, those with many local stops, 3 hours. The route has 17 departures a day. (Trips by car take 6 hours.)

            Madrid has a population of roughly 3.3 million (with nearly 6.2 million in its metropolitan area); Barcelona has 1.6 million people (nearly 4.5 million in the metro area).

            The CaHSR distance between L.A. and SF will be 438 miles and the goal is to do it in 2 hrs 38 min. (Yes, the technology of HSR continues to advance, and ever higher speeds are possible.)

            The population of Los Angeles is 3.8 million (with about 13 million in the L.A.-Long Beach-Santa Ana area); San Francisco has 800,000 and San Jose has almost 1 million, for a total  1.8 million (with a combined 7.4 million in the SF-SJ-Oakland metro area).

            So compare core cities in Spain 4.9 million, with core cities in California 5.6 million. Distance in Spain 386 miles in 2 hours 30 minutes, distance in California 438 miles in 2 hours 38 minutes.

            Relax and enjoy the ride. HSR will be a smashing success in California, as it is in Spain -- and everywhere else in the world.

            •  Because of the political reworking of the route (0+ / 0-)

              Much of it will be sharing track with Amtrack, which means it won't be high speed, and there is not a direct LA to SF route. It is being routed away for political payback. There will not be a train route less than 3 hours, and I would bet you when its all said and done it will be closer to 3 and half hours.

              Folks need to do a little more research on what is actually going on here before they support a $100,000,000,000 investment by a state that has a structural operating deficit of $20,000,000,000 a year.

    •  Actually the Acela is profitable (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      BYw

      It's one of the few amtrak lines to turn a profit

      •  HSR is way more expensive than Acela (0+ / 0-)

        to build and maintain.  So how profitable it is depends on costs vs revenue.

        Acela is pricey, but flying NY to DC or Boston is also expensive like $400 round trip.

        Bay Area to LA is way cheaper flying like $100-200.

        "And there are those who give and know not pain in giving, nor do they seek joy, nor give with mindfulness of virtue; They give as in yonder valley the myrtle breathes its fragrance into space" Khalil Gibran

        by bcdelta on Tue Aug 21, 2012 at 08:56:21 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  Downtown LA has a strong rail connection (0+ / 0-)

      throughout the region. There's also plenty of freeways too.

      http://www.transitunlimited.org/...

  •  Republicans hate trains. Maybe because they (14+ / 0-)

    might find themselves sitting next to some "bloodsucking leaches", otherwise know (Ayn) as non rich-people.

    After the election we'll build more trains, thanks to Paul Ryan's budget disaster.

    BTW, I was in Lima, Peru last week and they have a new bus system that we should copy.  A huge improvement!  

    Here's a link to a story about the system (as pioneered in Brazil), from Curitiba, Brazil...http://urbanhabitat.org/...

    Much cheaper to build than trains, for cities wanting to replace car commuting.

    •  Right, but tough in decentralized areas... (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      phonegery, llywrch, RainyDay, bnasley

      I would like to see CalTrain electrified and BART connecting Fremont to San Jose + Bart needs to be a lot faster - it's way too slow.

      Again the problem is how these areas are laid out.  Too much sprawl.

      I used to work in Fremont and while one could take BART from SF one still had 5 miles from the BART station in Fremont to my office.  

      So people that lived in SF all drove to Fremont instead as it was faster.

      The best laid out Western city I have seen as per public transport is Portland, OR.  The city planners did a great job in designing the city.

      Plus one has a proper downtown where many work so you don't have to walk 5 miles when you get to the downtown.

      "And there are those who give and know not pain in giving, nor do they seek joy, nor give with mindfulness of virtue; They give as in yonder valley the myrtle breathes its fragrance into space" Khalil Gibran

      by bcdelta on Mon Aug 20, 2012 at 08:42:22 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  CalTrain (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    bnasley

    I totally agree that the CalTrain line from Gilroy to SF should be electrified though.  Never understood why it wasn't.

    It would be interesting to do this first and see how ridership would increase.  The time savings alone would be great.

    Unclear what kind of speeds could be achieved here given all the residential areas with so many crossings.

    Do they intend to build underpasses or overpasses to deal with this?

    "And there are those who give and know not pain in giving, nor do they seek joy, nor give with mindfulness of virtue; They give as in yonder valley the myrtle breathes its fragrance into space" Khalil Gibran

    by bcdelta on Mon Aug 20, 2012 at 08:34:29 AM PDT

    •  That is one of my concerns (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      bcdelta, ferg, bnasley, Woody

      Caltrain and the CAHSR have been deliberately unclear about what to do with the crossings. We'll have to see, I guess.

      •  I think one can just build overpasses.. (0+ / 0-)

        or underpasses.  You really need this if the train is going 100MPH.

        And I think the cost wouldn't be too bad.

        "And there are those who give and know not pain in giving, nor do they seek joy, nor give with mindfulness of virtue; They give as in yonder valley the myrtle breathes its fragrance into space" Khalil Gibran

        by bcdelta on Mon Aug 20, 2012 at 09:02:43 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  Edmund - one nit (9+ / 0-)

        A.P.Gianninni was the founder of Bank of America, not a branch. Gianninni started the bank in San Francisco's North Beach under the name the Bank of Italy, but later changed the name to Bank of America as branches expanded throughout California. By 1945 it was the largest bank in the US.  

        "let's talk about that"

        by VClib on Mon Aug 20, 2012 at 09:09:39 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  Another good thing would be shuttles (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        elfling

        NYC has a lot of privately run shuttles that cover routes not handled by the MTA.  They are quick and cheap.

        "And there are those who give and know not pain in giving, nor do they seek joy, nor give with mindfulness of virtue; They give as in yonder valley the myrtle breathes its fragrance into space" Khalil Gibran

        by bcdelta on Mon Aug 20, 2012 at 09:16:58 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  Grade Separation is a high (5+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        psyched, elfling, BusyinCA, BYw, Calamity Jean

        priority in California.  That is the name for putting an under or overpass, thus separating the two right-of-ways from each other.  Because much of the HSR is going to utilize existing rail right-of-way, there are likely to already be quite a few grade separations in place.

        "I watch Fox News for my comedy, and Comedy Central for my news." - Facebook Group

        by Sychotic1 on Mon Aug 20, 2012 at 01:56:34 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  They're been extraordinarily clear on the options. (4+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        psyched, elfling, Woody, BYw

        Check out Clem's blog: Caltrain-HSR Compatibility.  It's quite detailed and clear to the point of wonkishness; odds are that Clem can track down any given crossing and tell you the status of it.

        "The first drawback of anger is that it destroys your inner peace; the second is that it distorts your view of reality. If you come to understand that anger is really unhelpful, you can begin to distance yourself from anger." - The Dalai Lama

        by auron renouille on Mon Aug 20, 2012 at 02:05:05 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  Under the blended scenario (0+ / 0-)

        with Caltrain. Grade crossing issues will be dealt with on a case by case basis. The problem with the prior plan (which did mandate total grade separation) was that it came from the top, and that local cities didn't have much input.

        At grade crossings can be kept under the current scenario, but grade separations can and will be done in where funding is available, and where proper planning has been taken place.

        I know because I am one of the rail activists and I know the planning and operating folks at Caltrain.  

    •  $1.2 Billion (now $1.4B IIRC) (5+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      bcdelta, chimpy, psyched, Woody, AoT

      This is my understanding:

      CalTrain has had a plan in place for electrification for many years.  They've just been waiting for someone to sign a check for $1.2B (when I first heard about it a couple of years ago) and now about $1.4B.  There was a kerfuffle about how HSR would have destroyed the nice towns up the Pennisula by running the equivalent of an 8-lane elevated superhighway down Main Street AKA El Camino Real.  (History buffs may recall the ill-fated SF Embarcadero Freeway, an analogous idocy.)  The CalTrain electrification plans were put on hold until the HSR plan was worked out.

      The latest HSR has compromised and the current plan is to run on existing CalTrain tracks at moderate speed (85 - 125 MPH IIRC), with parallel tracks added at strategic locations so HSR can pass local CalTrains and the occasional freight train.  Electrification of CalTrain is part of the HSR plan, and will allow CalTrain to run locals between SF and San Jose at the same speed they run "baby bullets" now because the electric trains can start and stop so much faster than diesels.

      The plan is to eliminate all grade crossings to be able to run trains at 85+ MPH.  Many of these crossings are already being replaced with (mostly) underpasses, but some will probably just be blocked off.  For example, downtown Burlingame has grade crossings every block, so you can't replace all of them.  I hope the elimination of many grade crossings won't segregate towns into "good/bad side of the tracks".

      CalTrain is desperate to get electrification done.  A lot of the rolling stock is long past its useful lifetime, and they'd much rather replace it with electrics.

      Better to hide your tax returns and be thought a crook than to release them and remove all doubt. [Adapted from Abraham Lincoln]

      by Caelian on Mon Aug 20, 2012 at 12:43:35 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  No at-grade crossings for HSR (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      psyched

      Has to be all underpasses and overpasses, which is a large part of the cost. This is something that should be done for general safety anyway.

      Fry, don't be a hero! It's not covered by our health plan!

      by elfling on Mon Aug 20, 2012 at 01:27:41 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  3 C route (7+ / 0-)

    I enjoyed the diary, but I disagree with your conclusions about the 3C route in Ohio. My understanding, perhaps mistaken, is that it was planned to be a Rapid Rail (110 mph) corridor which would generate enough business to leave an operating surplus which could be used to finance further upgrades such as electrification. In addition, the 3 C route would have been a crucial connecting link between the Chicago hub and Keystone high-speed rail corridors, and as such, would have played a vital national role as well as a regional one. Perhaps Bruce McFarlane, the author of the Sunday Train series, will post a comment elaborating or refuting the ideas I have suggested above.

    "Something has gone very wrong with America, not just its economy, but its ability to function as a democratic nation. And it’s hard to see when or how that wrongness will get fixed." Paul Krugman and Robin Wells

    by Reston history guy on Mon Aug 20, 2012 at 08:37:19 AM PDT

    •  I may be wrong, (0+ / 0-)

      But I heard that it was going to be a slow-speed rail. Regardless of what the ultimate plan was going to be, however, the project ended up being killed nonetheless for short-term political capital. That's why I'm particularly proud of California.

      •  Slow Rail is a better start than no rail (6+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        psyched, elfling, AoT, Woody, BYw, Calamity Jean

        High speed rail is exponentially more expensive than the proposed 3C "slow rail" service.  Even though Ohio's 3C project would have been slow at the start, the relatively low cost (mostly in upgrading and connecting existing freight rail lines) would have given Ohioans something most have never had -- experience with rail travel.  Over time the route could be upgraded as money became available and speeds, both for passengers and freight, would improve.  Eventually it would provide a connection for higher speed rail that is expected to cross the state.  

        Just because the money wasn't available for European-type high speeds (the cost is exponentially higher) doesn't mean the project had no merit at slower speeds.

  •  Great comment on Golden Gate (7+ / 0-)

    They had to fight like hell to get this built.  So we do suffer or some suffer from lack of long-term thought.

    But one can't just build it without having a long-term plan as per future local rail lines and say commercial industrial parks serviced by rail.

    "And there are those who give and know not pain in giving, nor do they seek joy, nor give with mindfulness of virtue; They give as in yonder valley the myrtle breathes its fragrance into space" Khalil Gibran

    by bcdelta on Mon Aug 20, 2012 at 08:56:30 AM PDT

  •  I Want To Believe (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    bcdelta, Sharon Wraight

    Unfortunatly, I have yet to be convinced that many of the proposed HSR projects make much sense. The Orlando-Tampa one in particular was pointless - the only link that made sense was the MCO-Disney World leg. Miami-Orlando - if it really was HSR and not something that went 80 mph on average - would be a worthy project.
    Even better would have been if Obama had gotten real with the Stimulus funds and built the Maglev. That would have been something worth leaving behind - not a 'train to nowhere' as is being built in CA or some slightly upgraded tracks elsewhere. Go big or go home!

    Language professors HATE me!

    by Zornorph on Mon Aug 20, 2012 at 09:12:09 AM PDT

    •  Agreed, but (0+ / 0-)

      "go big" is a big problem with Republican obstructionism at every step.

    •  Well Said (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Zornorph

      Orlando to Tampa made no sense.  Sprawl and the cities are too close so people will just get on I-4.

      I was very disappointed that the stimulus didn't do much for infrastructure.

      "And there are those who give and know not pain in giving, nor do they seek joy, nor give with mindfulness of virtue; They give as in yonder valley the myrtle breathes its fragrance into space" Khalil Gibran

      by bcdelta on Mon Aug 20, 2012 at 09:32:20 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Frustrating to see sprawl tossed out there (4+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        psyched, elfling, AoT, BYw

        as a reason not to do rail. I know it's a problem in the near term for rail ridership, but the long-term goal is to change that problem. Simply saying we should not invest in mass transit in areas with sprawl when that is part of the problem (lack of incentive to live densely) means we will never attack the underlying problem. If not now, when? Ever?

        There will always be some other pressing problem that needs investment. Well transit is a pressing problem now too. What is being done currently is simply not sustainable in the long term.

        I agree about stimulus funds for other infrastructure. But rail transit is also infrastructure, even if you think it's less necessary.

        •  Still have to analyze what projects make sense. (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          splintersawry

          There's a finite amount of money and there are so many things that need investment so you have to pick and choose what makes sense and what doesn't.

          Electrifying CalTrain from Gilroy to SF makes a ton of sense as I think ridership would go up a lot and drop freeway congestion and resultant pollution.  Why not start with this instead of rail in the central valley?

          Again a lot of people work in downtown SF - financial, tech, clothing = makes sense.

          As for a rail line to LA - I question that it will get the enough usage to warrant the investment.

          I would certainly try it, but flying is faster and might also be cheaper.

          As for sprawl - I agree this needs to be addressed, but it will take a long time and discipline/legislation to stop real estate development that enables sprawl.

          I think HSR indebts California a lot more and in the worst economy since the depression.  Even if the Feds put half the money in other needed services like edu, other infrastructure, Medicaid, etc. will now have to compete with the rail system.  

          And all other services are already being cut back.

          Next - Stockton and San Bernadino are the tip of the iceberg on municipal default.  I think it will get a lot worse.

          So does HSR generate enough jobs to jump start the economy - unclear, but I think we need to spend money first on existing and crumbling infrastructure.

          The 5 is in bad need of repair as are most freeways in CA  would like to see this done first.

          "And there are those who give and know not pain in giving, nor do they seek joy, nor give with mindfulness of virtue; They give as in yonder valley the myrtle breathes its fragrance into space" Khalil Gibran

          by bcdelta on Mon Aug 20, 2012 at 11:45:02 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  Central Valley has huge rail demand (6+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            psyched, AoT, BusyinCA, antboy, Woody, BYw

            It's also the easiest place to build because the land is flat and stable.

            Fresno has no effective transport to either LA or San Francisco aside from Amtrak. It has an airport, but you can't reasonably fly from there to LA or SF, and fog is a big issue there as well. It will benefit enormously from a good rail connection into those two metro areas.

            If HSR is built, you don't have to add a lane to highway 99. Adding the 99 lane would cost something like half of the projected HSR cost, so not doing HSR isn't free. In addition, HSR will reduce or eliminate the need for airport expansions at multiple airports, saving hundreds of millions per airport.

            HSR will also create more rail capacity as Amtrak moves from the shared freight lines to its dedicated track, meaning fewer big rigs need to travel I-5 (which do most of the damage to it). Currently, California rail is running at capacity - there is no more bandwidth for trains for either freight or passengers.

            Fry, don't be a hero! It's not covered by our health plan!

            by elfling on Mon Aug 20, 2012 at 01:36:37 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  Passes (0+ / 0-)

              Sure the Central Valley is a cheaper part of the line.  Can't imagine the cost on the mountain pass crossing near Gilroy and LA.

              Will HSR also carry freight (produce) out of the Central Valley?

              "And there are those who give and know not pain in giving, nor do they seek joy, nor give with mindfulness of virtue; They give as in yonder valley the myrtle breathes its fragrance into space" Khalil Gibran

              by bcdelta on Mon Aug 20, 2012 at 02:08:11 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  No freight (4+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                Woody, bcdelta, BYw, AoT

                passengers only - but taking passenger traffic off makes more room for freight.

                Currently all the passes from Los Angeles to the north are running at their full capacity; there are no passenger trains on the central valley passes at all, and only one on the coastal route. You can't put any more trains on them. You might consider that I-5 carries overflow from a full rail system.

                Yes, the two passes are the most expensive parts of the line. They're also the most essential and in demand and need to be done no matter what. If you're going to make a new one, might as well make it high speed passenger.

                Fry, don't be a hero! It's not covered by our health plan!

                by elfling on Mon Aug 20, 2012 at 04:33:36 PM PDT

                [ Parent ]

                •  Of course, you might imagine (2+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  bcdelta, AoT

                  some kinds of high value, low mass express freight using the HSR system, like express mail and anything else that currently ships by air.

                  Fry, don't be a hero! It's not covered by our health plan!

                  by elfling on Mon Aug 20, 2012 at 04:36:48 PM PDT

                  [ Parent ]

                  •  I read on the (0+ / 0-)

                    HSR site that light freight can be shipped - unclear if this includes produce.

                    "And there are those who give and know not pain in giving, nor do they seek joy, nor give with mindfulness of virtue; They give as in yonder valley the myrtle breathes its fragrance into space" Khalil Gibran

                    by bcdelta on Mon Aug 20, 2012 at 07:40:52 PM PDT

                    [ Parent ]

      •  Tampa - Orlanda (6+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        elfling, psyched, AoT, BusyinCA, Woody, BYw

        Did make sense. Just because there were better routes didn't make this a bad route.  The fact the ROW was there already, relatively easy construction, and constant defined demand made it a slam dunk.

        So much so that more than one private company offered to build it, and cover any cost overruns themselves.

        The world will end not with a bang, but with a "Do'oh!"
        "America is a free speech zone."

        by Love and Death on Mon Aug 20, 2012 at 12:10:06 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Disagree (0+ / 0-)

          Orlando and Tampa are sprawled.  So if in Tampa one's business is not necessarily in downtown Orlando, but perhaps in the greater area.

          So you'd have to rent a car, but given the short drive it's easier and more economical to take your own car.

          "And there are those who give and know not pain in giving, nor do they seek joy, nor give with mindfulness of virtue; They give as in yonder valley the myrtle breathes its fragrance into space" Khalil Gibran

          by bcdelta on Mon Aug 20, 2012 at 12:23:29 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  And yet, a private company offered to do it (4+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            psyched, BusyinCA, Woody, BYw

            and eat any cost overruns. Presumably they'd done the business plan.

            Fry, don't be a hero! It's not covered by our health plan!

            by elfling on Mon Aug 20, 2012 at 01:37:48 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

          •  You're missing the point. (5+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            psyched, elfling, BusyinCA, Woody, BYw

            By itself, the Orlando-Tampa HSR was not going to be all that much - but it was the first stage in a HSR plan that would take the trains all the way to Miami and Lauderdale, and that would have been a game-changer.  But of course because of people without imagination, we won't be finding out whether it would've worked - in our lifetimes.

            Still enjoying my stimulus package.

            by Kevvboy on Mon Aug 20, 2012 at 03:39:50 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  Kev (0+ / 0-)

              Adding a link to MIA does make more sense.  Any idea of what the time Tampa to MIA would have been.

              "And there are those who give and know not pain in giving, nor do they seek joy, nor give with mindfulness of virtue; They give as in yonder valley the myrtle breathes its fragrance into space" Khalil Gibran

              by bcdelta on Tue Aug 21, 2012 at 08:59:33 AM PDT

              [ Parent ]

            •  Although (0+ / 0-)

              It's very cheap to fly TPA to FLL or MIA so one is competing with this.

              Then one must also look at driving cost/time TPA to MIA vs the train.

              "And there are those who give and know not pain in giving, nor do they seek joy, nor give with mindfulness of virtue; They give as in yonder valley the myrtle breathes its fragrance into space" Khalil Gibran

              by bcdelta on Tue Aug 21, 2012 at 09:01:15 AM PDT

              [ Parent ]

          •  Afraid that it would NOT fail? (3+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            BYw, elfling, AoT

            The Repubs have made train-hate part of their core cult beliefs.

            So in Florida, the Governor killed the Tampa-Orlando first segment HSR project with the lying claim that the state could have been left to pay any operating losses. But the foreign companies with experience operating HSR systems had run the numbers, and as part of their bids they promised to eat any losses.

            If the Repub Govs had let these various lines go ahead in FL. WI, and even Ohio, the trains might have been quite successful. Then Obama would have been seen as successful, and the cult would have suffered pain to see its hate-trains beliefs so challenged.

            But several modest-speed HSR lines are going ahead. About a billion dollars is being invested in upgrading the St Louis-Chicago line, and about half that much in Detroit-Chicago. As the construction work is completed and trains begin to run at up to 110 mph, taking first half an hour, then an hour out of the schedules, they will be successful, no worries.

        •  I could never (0+ / 0-)

          make sense of the TPA - MCO route (I live in TPA).

          We need good local mass transit first.  I am not a huge fan of light rail (it goes to slow, and is more expensive than buses).  We need to build a subway equivelent which would be much faster.

          Very few people are going to drive to a train station in Tampa, and get on a train to go to Orlando.  It will be more expensive, and the distance isn't long enough to make the high speed rail make the train much faster than driving.

          The bitter truth of deep inequality has been disguised by an era of cheap imported goods and the anyone-can-make-it celebrity myth - Polly Toynbee

          by fladem on Mon Aug 20, 2012 at 06:06:45 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  Given that there is already a lot of traffic (0+ / 0-)

            between the airports it doesn't seem too crazy to think that some folks will want to use the train instead.

            There revolution will not be televised. But it will be blogged, a lot. Probably more so than is necessary.

            by AoT on Tue Aug 21, 2012 at 08:05:33 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

    •  There is no "train to nowhere" (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      BYw, elfling

      in California.  The first section being built looks like that when you don't show any of the other rail lines, but in fact it serves as a connection between North and South California.  Currently there's no good way to take the train from north to south, after the first section is laid there will be.  And it's only a beginning.

      There revolution will not be televised. But it will be blogged, a lot. Probably more so than is necessary.

      by AoT on Mon Aug 20, 2012 at 05:35:23 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  yes, on maglev pilot-projects! (0+ / 0-)

      It's painful for me to see China ahead of us on any technology. (And Japan, and Europe, for that matter.)

      I'd like to see a lot more federal research money put into significant mag-lev research and pilot projects, both via major corporations (who have the labs, technology, patents, budget, staff) and small startups (who have the creativity, innovation, drive). I don't know the field as well as I'd like, to suggest how and where this money might best be spent (basic research? small pilots? larger pilots? which technologies? etc.).

      The Chinese and Japanese pilots seem to lose a lot of money -- $26 million/year loss for the 9km Linimo line, serving 16,000 ppd (about $4.50/passenger/day loss). But as many studies show, there are hidden costs in relying on autos, that mass-transit avoids: taxes to build roads, military to patrol Persian Gulf, some share of anti-terrorism costs due to our presence in KSA, pollution externalities, etc.

      Whichever country gets a breakthrough on this technology will have a growing world market.

  •  Wonderful diary, Edmund! (6+ / 0-)

    Great diary, especially for a first diary.

    But don't be so kind to the concern trolls that this diary is attracting. Call their bluff. Stand up for your declarations. Too much kindness to trolls was my mistake also with my first diary. Fight 'em, but first you have to recognize them.

    See also:

    http://host18.hrwebservices.net/...

    Good luck! Keep up the great promotion of HSR!
    .
    .


    For the first time in human history, we possess both the means for destroying all life on Earth or realizing a paradise on the planet--Michio Kaku.

    by psyched on Mon Aug 20, 2012 at 09:21:39 AM PDT

    •  Debating and looking at usage is.. (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      RainyDay

      ...not trolling.  If one is going to spend a great deal of money there has to be an understanding that a given project makes sense.

      $70 billion in additional debt is a lot for California to handle now.  One still has to provide all sorts of other services such as infrastructure (roads, sewage, water), education, police/fire, etc.

      I would start by electrifying Gilroy to SF and see how this goes.  

      BTW - great quote - Kaku is a great thinker.

      "And there are those who give and know not pain in giving, nor do they seek joy, nor give with mindfulness of virtue; They give as in yonder valley the myrtle breathes its fragrance into space" Khalil Gibran

      by bcdelta on Mon Aug 20, 2012 at 09:37:06 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  I didn't say you were a troll, (6+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        sfbob, eru, NoMoreLies, elfling, Woody, BYw

        but you seem to have self-identified. You saw the shoe fit you and you are wearing it.

        A concern troll is not a regular troll. A CT is more subtle. Look for the "but" that comes usually early on in the comment. $76 billion may be additional debt in your way of thinking, but it is an investment to others.

        Yes, there are always a number of services that must be provided, and states, like cities, counties, businesses and households, are on carefully-watched budgets because they are users of currency, while the federal government is the creator of currency. The federal government will certainly contribute a lot to the HSR project, as it can through "revenue sharing" on the other needs including those you have identified. And federal money does not really come from the taxpayer--we only pretend it does. This is not the place to get further into this matter, but follow the Daily Kos group Money and Public Purpose to read about the newest and most accurate and realistic orientation in economics.

        To the people here extolling buses, remember that National City Lines back in 1946 (IIRC), a consortium (aka conspiracy) of General Motors and the oil industry, "invested" much money to buy up rail transit systems across the nation and install buses.

        The problem for the user is that people don't like buses. Buses certainly have their place, but when given a choice of light rail or bus, light rail wins out every time. The actions of NCL drove people into cars, helping create the traffic jams of today. Transportation experts then had to fight the problems created by destroyed rail transit systems by mandating smog devices, improving buses to make them feel more like rail vehicles, and rebuilding rail systems one at a time. And the gradual comeback of electric cars is a favorable development.
        .
        .


        For the first time in human history, we possess both the means for destroying all life on Earth or realizing a paradise on the planet--Michio Kaku.

        by psyched on Mon Aug 20, 2012 at 10:45:00 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  LOL (0+ / 0-)

          Not self identifying as a "CT" rather I am analytical.

          California is in a lot of trouble economically with tax revenues way down and unemployment still quite high.

          So even if CA only has to issue $30 billion in bonds and the Feds pick up the rest one still has a lot of additional bond principal and interest to service.

          So what does this mean for other crucial services like education?  Are we going to have to cut education spending as a result?

          As per investment and revenue sharing I think the HSR will operate at a loss like Amtrak so I don't think it will be a revenue generator at all rather a big cost to the state.

          As for light rail - I think it's great technology, quiet and fast.

          But the light rail in San Jose is hardly used at all.  The reason being it doesn't take people where they need to go.

          And this is why it is better to have developed urban areas where most work rather than offices scattered about everywhere.

          This is where long term planning comes into play as per future development.  Unclear how you deal with how San Jose or LA are currently laid out though.

          Urban planning must easily look 50 years into the future - not easy with our "got have it now" twitter mentality.

          As for Federal money not coming from the tax payer I assume you're talking about the Fed's printing, which is a tax on the lower and middle classes and something left unchecked can lead to Weimar style inflation.

          I'm all for better transport that doesn't pollute, but it has to make financial sense in terms of not bankrupting California.

          "And there are those who give and know not pain in giving, nor do they seek joy, nor give with mindfulness of virtue; They give as in yonder valley the myrtle breathes its fragrance into space" Khalil Gibran

          by bcdelta on Mon Aug 20, 2012 at 11:00:50 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  SJ Light Rail (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            paradox, bcdelta

            .....also cannot be categorized as fast. Quiet, maybe.

            No one ever created a vibrant economy by building houses for each other. Houses are built because there is a vibrant economy.

            by Doug in SF on Mon Aug 20, 2012 at 11:28:30 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  Seems fast enough (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              RainyDay

              for the distances and it's damn quite.

              "And there are those who give and know not pain in giving, nor do they seek joy, nor give with mindfulness of virtue; They give as in yonder valley the myrtle breathes its fragrance into space" Khalil Gibran

              by bcdelta on Mon Aug 20, 2012 at 11:49:11 AM PDT

              [ Parent ]

          •  the cost of not building (5+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            elfling, psyched, BYw, rosarugosa, halef

            rail will hurt California's bottom line more than building it.

            As for the centralization argument, what better way to encourage that centralization than downtown to downtown high speed rail?

            The world will end not with a bang, but with a "Do'oh!"
            "America is a free speech zone."

            by Love and Death on Mon Aug 20, 2012 at 12:12:00 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

          •  You repeat this (0+ / 0-)

            You again claim that HSR will operate at a loss "like Amtrak".

            But only part of Amtrak can remotely be compared to HSR. Only the NorthEast Corridor route is even remotely close to "high speed". And there the Acela clearly makes an operating surplus. The slower Regional trains on the same NEC route come close to breaking even. With the recent addition of free wifi to these trains, the move to paperless ticketing, and other improvements, Amtrak's NEC trains are generating a growing surplus.

            Amtrak's losses come overwhelmingly from the long distance trains. Considering trains averaging 55 miles per hour on routes of thousands miles long tells us nothing about HSR. Indeed, while almost every country loses money on its conventional trains, HSR makes a surplus in almost every developed country that has them (meaning who knows what is happening in China.

            •  Woody (0+ / 0-)

              Fair enough, but Acela is not running on ultra high speed lines and the tracks were already there even though they had to be upgraded.

              HSR is much more expensive to build, which is fine.

              But I think when it is built it will have to cost a lot more than $80 to $120 one way SF-LA or it will lose money.

              Next if it's $400 round trip SF-LA it's cheaper to drive or fly so you lose a lot of ridership or you have to subsidize it.

              The project will be way north of the advertised $68 billion.

              It would certainly provide stimulus, but better to repave or widen 5 as it will be used.

              As for HSR - would rather see this done on CalTrain and a commuter line into LA before the central valley and the passes (which are going to be very expensive.

              "And there are those who give and know not pain in giving, nor do they seek joy, nor give with mindfulness of virtue; They give as in yonder valley the myrtle breathes its fragrance into space" Khalil Gibran

              by bcdelta on Tue Aug 21, 2012 at 08:11:20 AM PDT

              [ Parent ]

  •  I'm from CA but I live in Japan (14+ / 0-)

    and I will say that high-speed rail is the most pleasant way to travel. Needless to say this all excites me.

    •  Right (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      RainyDay

      But if you go from Tokyo to Osaka you can take the subway from your office in Tokyo to the HSR and do the same when you get to Osaka.

      Not the same for LA.

      The Western US in general has not had good city planning with Portland being an exception.

      "And there are those who give and know not pain in giving, nor do they seek joy, nor give with mindfulness of virtue; They give as in yonder valley the myrtle breathes its fragrance into space" Khalil Gibran

      by bcdelta on Mon Aug 20, 2012 at 09:42:44 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Yes, and those railways weren't built (4+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        BYw, Ginsu, elfling, rosarugosa

        over night.  Saying we shouldn't start building a better transit network because we don't have a transit network is absurd.

        There revolution will not be televised. But it will be blogged, a lot. Probably more so than is necessary.

        by AoT on Mon Aug 20, 2012 at 05:40:08 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Focus on (0+ / 0-)

          the urban areas first where it would drop traffic - Bay Area/SoCal - then build the connector in the Central Valley and over the passes.

          "And there are those who give and know not pain in giving, nor do they seek joy, nor give with mindfulness of virtue; They give as in yonder valley the myrtle breathes its fragrance into space" Khalil Gibran

          by bcdelta on Tue Aug 21, 2012 at 09:04:20 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  If you focus on the Urban areas (0+ / 0-)

            then you'll never get the other ones built.  Politics and all.  And the central valley is more ad more actually an urban area.  Stockton, Fresno, Bakersfield, and various other spots are, for better or worse, becoming urban centers.  When you have the population size that we do it's kind of inevitable.

            There revolution will not be televised. But it will be blogged, a lot. Probably more so than is necessary.

            by AoT on Tue Aug 21, 2012 at 09:09:23 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

  •  Ride the ACELA and you will believe. (7+ / 0-)

    Plato's " The Cave" taught me to question reality.

    by CTDemoFarmer on Mon Aug 20, 2012 at 09:48:49 AM PDT

    •  I have.. (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Zornorph

      And it's great if you're in NYC and have business in downtown DC or Boston - the minute you have business in suburban DC or Boston it's a lot easier to drive.

      When I used to go to LA/Orange county on business flying is on 45 minutes out of SJC.

      Not opposed to the rail line at all, but if it pushed California over the edge financially not good.

      Edu, infrastructure and many other things are suffering in the state - so if you don't wish to see more cuts here then this is not achieved by a $70 billion HSR.

      Time will tell.

      "And there are those who give and know not pain in giving, nor do they seek joy, nor give with mindfulness of virtue; They give as in yonder valley the myrtle breathes its fragrance into space" Khalil Gibran

      by bcdelta on Mon Aug 20, 2012 at 09:59:20 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Few are answering.... (13+ / 0-)

        .....or taking into account the diarists correct assertion that adding lanes to I-5 and expanding the airports will cost more money. We are not arguing the costs of doing the train versus nothing, here.

        No one ever created a vibrant economy by building houses for each other. Houses are built because there is a vibrant economy.

        by Doug in SF on Mon Aug 20, 2012 at 11:30:11 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Not to mention other costs often ignored (7+ / 0-)

          from the reliance on highways and air traffic. I would think climate change, air quality, and rising fuel prices and the cost of their extraction (and our subsidizing of their extraction) would factor in as well.

          •  Fair enough (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            RainyDay

            But until we have more clean energy plants the train is dirty as well.  I would build more utility scale solar before the train.

            "And there are those who give and know not pain in giving, nor do they seek joy, nor give with mindfulness of virtue; They give as in yonder valley the myrtle breathes its fragrance into space" Khalil Gibran

            by bcdelta on Mon Aug 20, 2012 at 12:05:05 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  Really? (6+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              elfling, psyched, Woody, BYw, Calamity Jean, JPax
              But until we have more clean energy plants the train is dirty as well.  I would build more utility scale solar before the train.
              So what you'd say is, 'build more clean energy plants, and continue building more and more lanes on your highways, until, 30 or 40 years down the line, we have clean enough energy, and then we can think about trains'.

              And that doesn't strike you as problematic?

              •  No (0+ / 0-)

                Building rail lines or improving them in metro areas is a good thing, but whether it's the Bay Area or SoCal unclear how rail is going to change the sprawl.  

                Electrifying CalTrain would be great, but you will still have a ton of traffic on 101, 880, etc. because of all the scattered offices.

                And it's even worse in LA.  Even with Amtrak 95 is packed so it's unclear to me that HSR SF to LA/SD will alleviate traffic much.

                I see the obvious benefit in having more centralized work areas so trains will actually make sense, but I think it will be tough to keep real estate developers under control.

                "And there are those who give and know not pain in giving, nor do they seek joy, nor give with mindfulness of virtue; They give as in yonder valley the myrtle breathes its fragrance into space" Khalil Gibran

                by bcdelta on Mon Aug 20, 2012 at 01:20:10 PM PDT

                [ Parent ]

            •  The nice thing about electric trains (4+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              psyched, bcdelta, BYw, Calamity Jean

              is that you can change the power source quickly and easily without having to do anything to your rails or rolling stock.

              So when those solar power plants come on line, you can be first in line for their power.

              Fry, don't be a hero! It's not covered by our health plan!

              by elfling on Mon Aug 20, 2012 at 01:41:31 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

            •  Bullshit! (6+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              psyched, antboy, Woody, BYw, Calamity Jean, JPax

              I don't care HOW you power the train, any train carrying 600 people is not as dirty as 300 cars going down a freeway.

              Still enjoying my stimulus package.

              by Kevvboy on Mon Aug 20, 2012 at 03:41:29 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  Precisely (3+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                antboy, Woody, BYw

                Steel wheels on steel rails, the advantage of drag, all combine to make the net energy needed far less and better emissions even if it was powered by coal... which it won't be.

                Further, it's always easier to scrub emissions and improve efficiency on stationary power plants than portable ones.

                And as soon as solar or wind generation comes on line, you can switch to it immediately. With cars, switching power plants or fuel sources takes decades.

                Fry, don't be a hero! It's not covered by our health plan!

                by elfling on Mon Aug 20, 2012 at 05:04:35 PM PDT

                [ Parent ]

        •  Sure (0+ / 0-)

          But the 5 is in bad need of repaving in the Central Valley and I've done the drive from Los Banos to the 405 more than I care to remember.  Have also done the 5 a few times from Portland to LA and I'd say the whole 5 needs a lot of fixing.

          So you can't just build the train and not fix the 5.

          As for airport expansion I can see another runway at SFO something the residents of Burlingame will not allow, but SJC and OAK don't need expansion.  Don't know about the airports in SoCal.

          "And there are those who give and know not pain in giving, nor do they seek joy, nor give with mindfulness of virtue; They give as in yonder valley the myrtle breathes its fragrance into space" Khalil Gibran

          by bcdelta on Mon Aug 20, 2012 at 12:03:16 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  They are talking about adding an airport (5+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            bcdelta, psyched, Woody, BYw, Calamity Jean

            in Palmdale and expansions in Fresno just off the top of my head; I know there are others impacted. I'm not sure your assertion about Oakland and SJC hold in the 10-20 year projection. Other airports need more gate space, not necessarily more runways.

            Repaving interstate 5 is one cost, but adding a lane to it is far more expensive.

            Fry, don't be a hero! It's not covered by our health plan!

            by elfling on Mon Aug 20, 2012 at 01:44:05 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

      •  Define "suburban" DC or Boston (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        psyched, Woody, BYw

        Both Boston and DC have fairly well developed metropolitan subway stations, supplemented by bus lines. You only "need" a car if you live or work out beyond their reach.

        If it's
        Not your body,
        Then it's
        Not your choice
        And it's
        None of your damn business!

        by TheOtherMaven on Mon Aug 20, 2012 at 11:58:39 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Defined (0+ / 0-)

          DC - outside the metro's reach and Boston outside of the T.

          And what happens is one has multiple meetings so you end up going from one suburb to another, which are also not connected.

          Due to sprawl car is the best or you won't make meetings or can only have 1 or 2 a day something employers don't like.

          Furthermore the hotels are way cheaper in the suburbs so staying in DC is too expensive = $300 per night easily.

          You also have to look at the entire trip.

          When I lived in Cali I would cover RTP, NC all the way to Boston.  So I would fly into Raleigh and make my way up the coast (VA, MD, Philly, NJ, CT, MA).  Much cheaper with a car and again I had to keep my travel expenses under control.

          "And there are those who give and know not pain in giving, nor do they seek joy, nor give with mindfulness of virtue; They give as in yonder valley the myrtle breathes its fragrance into space" Khalil Gibran

          by bcdelta on Mon Aug 20, 2012 at 12:17:48 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  That's a COMPLETELY different scenario (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            psyched, BYw

            from people who live and work in the area and manage to get around on a daily basis.

            Much like the comfortably well-off fellow who's been telling everybody they should clamor to have Social Security replaced by mutual funds so they can all do as well as he did...yarite.

            If it's
            Not your body,
            Then it's
            Not your choice
            And it's
            None of your damn business!

            by TheOtherMaven on Mon Aug 20, 2012 at 12:21:54 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  Sure (0+ / 0-)

              But HSR SF to LA is not for regional commuters rather city to city.  Certainly areas near SF and LA would be used for commuting though.

              Better to work on the metro areas first (SF/LA).

              "And there are those who give and know not pain in giving, nor do they seek joy, nor give with mindfulness of virtue; They give as in yonder valley the myrtle breathes its fragrance into space" Khalil Gibran

              by bcdelta on Mon Aug 20, 2012 at 01:22:23 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  People today use existing Amtrak (3+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                BYw, psyched, rosarugosa

                to commute into San Francisco from Sacramento and Fresno for daily jobs.

                Fry, don't be a hero! It's not covered by our health plan!

                by elfling on Mon Aug 20, 2012 at 05:05:38 PM PDT

                [ Parent ]

              •  There are a *lot* of people who would use a (5+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                BusyinCA, BYw, psyched, elfling, rosarugosa

                SF - LA train line.  The amount of car and plane traffic between the two cities is huge.  A huge number of people would use the train just to not have to deal with the airport.  That alone would cut an hour off the trip.

                There revolution will not be televised. But it will be blogged, a lot. Probably more so than is necessary.

                by AoT on Mon Aug 20, 2012 at 05:44:49 PM PDT

                [ Parent ]

                •  It will cut an hour off your travel time (2+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  AoT, BYw

                  until TSA mucks up train travel like they have flying. But maybe not. A terrorist can't drive a train into a high-rise. So there is hope. But I am not taking off my shoes to ride the train. No.

                  Mitt's full of it / Ryan's lyin' -- "Your money and your life."

                  by BusyinCA on Mon Aug 20, 2012 at 05:52:01 PM PDT

                  [ Parent ]

                  •  One of the ironies of transit (2+ / 0-)
                    Recommended by:
                    BusyinCA, BYw

                    is the the only form of motorized transit that legally requires a license and yet is one of the least likely, besides bus, that you actually have to show ID for.  If we checked people using car in the same way we do people who fly almost no one would drive as much as they do.

                    Really, all that security doesn't do much.  It's a big show.

                    There revolution will not be televised. But it will be blogged, a lot. Probably more so than is necessary.

                    by AoT on Mon Aug 20, 2012 at 06:03:02 PM PDT

                    [ Parent ]

                  •  TSA will get involved - trust me. (1+ / 0-)
                    Recommended by:
                    BusyinCA

                    "And there are those who give and know not pain in giving, nor do they seek joy, nor give with mindfulness of virtue; They give as in yonder valley the myrtle breathes its fragrance into space" Khalil Gibran

                    by bcdelta on Tue Aug 21, 2012 at 09:06:34 AM PDT

                    [ Parent ]

  •  I wish we had HSR last year (7+ / 0-)

    I live in Sacramento and my Dad had terminal cancer (passed in November) and i kept thinking how great it would have been if I could have made the quick and economic trip down there on the HSR.

    BTW, the California HSR proposes to use only clean energy sources.

    •  Sorry about your dad (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      RainyDay

      ...but don't think there is enough clean energy production to power the train - correct me if I'm wrong.

      95% of electricity generation in the US is dirty.

      "And there are those who give and know not pain in giving, nor do they seek joy, nor give with mindfulness of virtue; They give as in yonder valley the myrtle breathes its fragrance into space" Khalil Gibran

      by bcdelta on Mon Aug 20, 2012 at 12:07:00 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  I don't know... (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Sychotic1, psyched, BYw

        Wikipedia's charts (based off of DOE data) says that 12.67% of energy generated in the U.S. in 2011 was from renewable sources.

        •  Have to look at the footnotes... (0+ / 0-)

          For full year 2011 - 87% of electricity generation was coal, nat gas and nuke.

          Hydro is up to 8% and then "other renewable" is 5%.

          So hydro has definitely increased, but other renewable contains a lot of dirty things in it such...

          [6] Wood/wood waste solids (including paper pellets, railroad ties, utility poles, wood chips, bark, and wood waste solids), wood waste liquids (red liquor, sludge wood, spent sulfite liquor, and other wood-based liquids), and black liquor.

          7] Municipal solid waste, landfill gas, sludge waste, agricultural byproducts, other biomass solids, other biomass liquids, and other biomass gases (including digester gases, methane, and other biomass gases).

          So we have a lot of work to do on clean energy still.

          "And there are those who give and know not pain in giving, nor do they seek joy, nor give with mindfulness of virtue; They give as in yonder valley the myrtle breathes its fragrance into space" Khalil Gibran

          by bcdelta on Mon Aug 20, 2012 at 12:44:14 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

      •  In California it is 20% Renewable (6+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        bcdelta, elfling, Sychotic1, psyched, AoT, BYw

        And that doesn't generally include large hydro.

        But the California  HSR is actively seeking their own clean electricity generation sources. They may not get there right away, but it is a goal.

        •  Cali is 16.4% for hydro (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Sychotic1

          So pretty good (2010) and 26% clean energy, but solar is lacking and could be a lot more in such a sunny state.

          Cal is way above the national average on nat gas though with 52.7%.

          "And there are those who give and know not pain in giving, nor do they seek joy, nor give with mindfulness of virtue; They give as in yonder valley the myrtle breathes its fragrance into space" Khalil Gibran

          by bcdelta on Mon Aug 20, 2012 at 01:32:29 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

      •  The problem with wind and solar... (6+ / 0-)

        ... is that they're too cheap and fossil fuel produces stand to lose a lot of profit.  So it's in their interest to spread as much FUD as possible.  At least this is what I've seen and read.  I once saw a study that showed that a patch of ground about the size of a county would provide enough solar power for the entire USA.

        Trains are incredibly efficient because of minimizing wind drag.  Throw in regenerative braking (I hope they do this!) and you have a really nice system.  Steel wheels on steel rails have really low rolling resistance.

        Better to hide your tax returns and be thought a crook than to release them and remove all doubt. [Adapted from Abraham Lincoln]

        by Caelian on Mon Aug 20, 2012 at 12:53:33 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Amtrak's new electric locomotives (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          elfling, Caelian

          Amtrak has ordered 70 new electric locomotives for $466 million to use on its electrified routes, Boston-D.C. and Philly-Harrisburg.

          The advanced models from Siemens will be

          more energy-efficient than those that they replace, and will pack dynamic braking grids to favor 100% regenerative braking, depending on grid receptiveness.
  •  I love trains, and look forward to the high speed (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    bcdelta, RainyDay

    rail in California.

    HOWEVER, it is being put together and planned by the same people that took 20 some odd years to rebuild the eastern half of the bay bridge at a huge cost overrun.

    The same politicians that have not been able to deal with the financial/political mess we have in State government are the ones putting this together.  I seriously doubt that they can deal effectively, efficiently, and fruga.ly with this project, and it is going to take 3 times as long as projected to finish it, it will have unfixable bugs in it, and it will overrun 3 to 4 times the original estimates.  

    Our schools, highways, parks, jails, court system are all teetering on collapse, and if this program fails, the whole state could suffer irreversably.  As a retired middle income person, I am shocked at how far down this state has gone, and have little confidence it will remain a good place for a family.

    As a resident, I don't like the odds on success.  I haven't seen the leadership show any aptitude up to this point;  if something happens to Jerry Brown, there is absolutely no one to take his place.  

    I view this project with a great deal of pessimism.  Maybe after they audit the state government and install a working financial system I might consider it, but not now.

    •  Even though I deal with school budgets (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      rosarugosa

      and have them near and dear to my heart, we won't fix California through austerity. We need to invest in our future, and that includes choosing High Speed Rail over more airports and new lanes on I-5 and Hwy 99.

      Our school runs a college visitation program for the 8th graders and up. The ability to visit colleges is substantially limited by all the hours on the road, and the need for parents to take them in cars 3 per adult driver. If we could use HSR, the kids could visit far more colleges, and could do so during the year as a day trip. We could do the trip with fewer drivers. We would have more options to take them farther afield.

      HSR creates economic opportunity. It's that opportunity that will generate more tax revenue and bring California back.

      Fry, don't be a hero! It's not covered by our health plan!

      by elfling on Mon Aug 20, 2012 at 05:11:20 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  But (0+ / 0-)

        you won't fix California through bankruptcy.

        "And there are those who give and know not pain in giving, nor do they seek joy, nor give with mindfulness of virtue; They give as in yonder valley the myrtle breathes its fragrance into space" Khalil Gibran

        by bcdelta on Tue Aug 21, 2012 at 09:08:22 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  doing nothing isn't free (19+ / 0-)

    The cost of not building California High speed rail isn't $0.

    Not building the Rail has a cost associated, either the $100,000,000,000+ to improve freeways, airports, Or the $100,000,000,000 in lost business, worse traffic, and dirtier air.

    Frankly California High speed rail is a steal right now.  WIth interest rates at the lowest in generations, the cost of materials and labor at historic lows, NOW is when to build this thing.

    Doing nothing is waaay more expensive for the state that building this.

    The world will end not with a bang, but with a "Do'oh!"
    "America is a free speech zone."

    by Love and Death on Mon Aug 20, 2012 at 12:04:15 PM PDT

    •  It astounds me (9+ / 0-)

      How conservatives in California seem to think that the highways are free, or that they pay for themselves.

    •  You're right about interest rates (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      raines

      A 30 year fixed bond issue would be incredibly cheap as long as one can service the debt and ultimately repay the principal.

      If you assume the Fed picks up half then assume the HSR issues $30 billion in bonds say at 4%.

      This means $1.2 billion per annum in interest payments, which compared to the state budget isn't very much.  Brown is proposing a total budget of $142.4 billion.

      When you factor in 30 years' worth of inflation probably a good deal when the principal has to be repaid.

      But it is an additional cost in a tight budget. and it all adds up.

      Existing infrastructure does need maintenance and building HSR won't change this.  Unclear how not having HSR changes business in the state though.

      Raising taxes too much will hurt business as it will drive a lot of business to other states.

      I would imagine the project will run way over budget so I think one will have to issue way more than $30 billion in bonds.

      "And there are those who give and know not pain in giving, nor do they seek joy, nor give with mindfulness of virtue; They give as in yonder valley the myrtle breathes its fragrance into space" Khalil Gibran

      by bcdelta on Mon Aug 20, 2012 at 01:02:39 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  If we can do this AND (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      bcdelta

      also be fixing our other existing infrastructure (bridges, roads, dams, levies, airports, etc.) then I'm all for it.

      If we are ignoring the other infrastructure because we don't have enough money then I think this is a mistake.

      •  Right (0+ / 0-)

        Just wait for Sac to be under 20 feet of water when the levies blow.  

        "And there are those who give and know not pain in giving, nor do they seek joy, nor give with mindfulness of virtue; They give as in yonder valley the myrtle breathes its fragrance into space" Khalil Gibran

        by bcdelta on Tue Aug 21, 2012 at 09:09:40 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  I live in LA (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    elfling, psyched, BYw, Woody

    I spent $300 getting my car serviced this weekend, plus another $70 to fill up the tank.  It was hinted that my car will likely need more repairs very soon.

    I want my rail.  Both the HSR and the Westside Subway expansion in LA.  It can't be any more of a waste of money for me personally than trying to maintain, drive, and park a car in this city.

  •  Just a comment on Prop 13... (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    bcdelta

    Yes, it resulted in huge reductions in tax revenue.

    But it also kept the middle class in the state from being taxed out of their homes--which would have then been bought up by the only people left who could afford them.

    CA would have become a colony of the superrich (foreign and domestic), with everyone else just renters.  It would have resulted in a transition of wealth from the middle class to the wealthy that would have dwarfed rmoney's proposed tax cuts.

    My family would have lost their house and been bankrupted.

    So Prop 13 was necessary.

    What has not since been corrected is the exclusion of businesses from having to pay taxes; businesses should not be receiving the same benefits as individuals and until this is corrected Prop 13 represents an imperfect solution to the property tax problem.

    "When and if fascism comes to America...it will not even be called 'fascism'; it will be called, of course, 'Americanism'" --Professor Halford E. Luccock of Yale Divinity School; New York Times article from September 12, 1938, page 15

    by demongo on Mon Aug 20, 2012 at 12:47:37 PM PDT

  •  Great First Diary (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    elfling, Woody

    Well done, and welcome.  

    If the 2nd amendment is so powerful that we can't even keep lists of who bought what, then why is the government allowed to use drowns to film us in 1st amendment demonstrations?

    by Deadicated Marxist on Mon Aug 20, 2012 at 12:53:15 PM PDT

  •  Gee I envy your HSR in CA (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    psyched, rosarugosa

    Up here in WA, Doc Brown would find our High Speed Rail useless, we're looking for speeds as high as...

    .......

    ........

    ........

    79 MpH!

    Admittedly alot of the BNSF track along the Puget Sound follows the coast line very closely, but still.  It takes the comuter train ~ an hour to cover the 35 miles from Seattle to Everett, with 2 intermediate stops.

    “that our civil rights have no dependence on our religious opinions, any more than our opinions in physics or geometry.” Thomas Jefferson

    by markdd on Mon Aug 20, 2012 at 12:55:54 PM PDT

    •  To break your heart ... (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      markdd, elfling

      About $1 billion in stimulus funds is going to a few projects to improve the terrible on-time performance of the Cascades trains, AND to add two more Talgo trainsets to the five in use now.

      The added tilt-trains will mean six frequencies each way between Seattle and Portland, up from the current four (plus the Coast Starlight), while doubling the Talgo frequencies down the Willamette Valley to Eugene.

      Talgo was on schedule to deliver the first of the new trainsets this month, to begin testing and then put them into service in the fall.

      Oops. Nobody from the Oregon state government (which got the stimulus grant) got around to telling Talgo that on-board wifi is the new standard for Amtrak. Finally, in June, Oregon sent someone to the Talgo factory to see how things were going and discovered the oversight. Not Talgo's fault, they were using the written specs they had received.

      At this late point, retrofitting the wifi into the almost finished trainsets is gonna take months. With luck the first trainset for testing will arrive in December ... or January. Service with the new Talgos will not begin until March or later.

      Oh well. When the new trains start do running, the Cascades service will go from the current 850,000 a year to something more like 1,200,000. Then if Congress will give the states another billion or so, the next upgrades will actually mean faster schedules -- and even more passengers.

      •  Well, I knew that we were getting (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Woody

        a new Sounder or two for the next few years.  But that's not terribly transit friendly (burbs to Seattle in the AM and return at night), none outside of rush hour.  And only 1-2 each day on reverse runs (Seattle to burbs in AM).

        I know a lot of the work is in the Everett -- Mukilteo and Everett-- Bellingham corridors, mostly for mudslide control.  I think that someone pointed that although the point to point distance from Seattle to Everett is less than 40 miles, there is well over 40 miles of track from station to station.

        “that our civil rights have no dependence on our religious opinions, any more than our opinions in physics or geometry.” Thomas Jefferson

        by markdd on Mon Aug 20, 2012 at 08:55:58 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Same problems (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          markdd

          The Cascades trains run Eugene-Portland-Seattle-Vancouver, B.C., but it's the four trains a day Seattle-Portland that carries riders by the hundreds of thousands.

          But when asked about true HSR in this heavily used core corridor, the response was that because the route has "hundreds of curves" it will never have California-style HSR. Instead the plan is to use the tilting technology of the Talgos to take the curves and reach 110 mph on a few straight sections. The target is to bring the trip time down to 3 hours or so.

          The Sounder commuter trains operate in a similar geography of "hundreds of curves". And yes, landslides have been a huge problem for Amtrak.

          Meanwhile, the different types of trains do help each other. Track upgrades paid for by federal grants for the Cascades style of HSR surely benefit some of the Sounder commuter trains as well as Amtrak's long distance trains operating on the same tracks, especially the Coast Starlight coming up from L.A. And the extensive work to restore the beautiful King Street Station and to install seismic reinforcing to the structure of the classic old station is good news for Sounder, the Cascades, and the Starlight and the Empire Builder coming in from Chicago.

          •  Well, I think the 100's of curves is (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Woody

            an understatement.  

            The tracks from Seattle to Everet (3 track main in most spots) is shared between commuter, passenger, std freight and coal traffic.  Amtrack Cascades is even one of the "Sounder" runs each way, every day.

            I tried planning a rail commute to work a while back (I have a 40 mile commute).  I'd have catch the first train to Seattle, 5:45 AM, to catch the last morning train to Tacoma.  Get off at Tukwilla, catch a local bus and walk the last 1/2 mile.  Good news is that with an ORCA card, it's only $4.50 each way.  Bad news is that each trip takes 1 hr and 46 minutes.  

            Sadly, carpooling saves me 2 hours and only costs $2.50 more on the round trip......

            “that our civil rights have no dependence on our religious opinions, any more than our opinions in physics or geometry.” Thomas Jefferson

            by markdd on Tue Aug 21, 2012 at 08:22:22 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

  •  Nice piece (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    AoT, Woody

    One minor quibble:

    Howard Jarvis is the conservative Republican who pushed through California's disastrous Proposition 13 back in 1978.
    I'd go with "was" there. The damage from Prop 13 lives on, but unless he's recently dug his way out of a SoCal grave (and I could see a full Buffy plot around the idea), the ever-cranky proto-teapartier Jarvis passed away back in the 80s.
  •  Is there a Link to the actual plan? (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Woody
  •  My suggestion is: write more diaries (5+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    bcdelta, psyched, Edmund Xu, AoT, Woody

    This was excellent.

    Fry, don't be a hero! It's not covered by our health plan!

    by elfling on Mon Aug 20, 2012 at 01:04:27 PM PDT

  •  I don't mean to be a party pooper (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    bcdelta, splintersawry

    but I'd we fix our current infrastructure (bridges, dams, levies, highways, airports, etc.) before embarking on this expensive train.

    I'm all for better public transportation options, I'm just not sure I see this as the most thing to do right now.

  •  One of the best things about high speed rail is (9+ / 0-)
    people going wherever and whenever they want, unsupervised
    ... even people without drivers' licenses or cars. :-)

    People like the elderly, and students. Disabled people.

    People who would rather spend their travel time playing a game with the kids instead of driving and isolating the kids in the back.

    People who want to spend their time working or playing or sleeping when traveling from Northern to Southern California instead of spending their time guiding their car and keeping it from smashing into anything unfortunate. :-)

    Fry, don't be a hero! It's not covered by our health plan!

    by elfling on Mon Aug 20, 2012 at 01:06:44 PM PDT

  •  the route (0+ / 0-)

    the article doesn't mention the route of the California high-speed rail.
    It doesn't connect two major cities.
    It connects a major city and a farmland area.
    Pretty useless actually.

    Obama 2012...going to win it with our support!!!

    by mattinjersey on Mon Aug 20, 2012 at 01:15:11 PM PDT

    •  Actually (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      elfling, psyched, Woody, rosarugosa

      It connects three major cities (LA, SF, SJ) with planned extensions to two more (San Diego and Sacramento). Between those cities is farmland. Unless you plan on teleportation, the farmland area is kind of necessary.

      •  Both wrong I guess (0+ / 0-)

        I wrote it connects a major city to farmland.
        You wrote it connects 3 major cities.
        Actually the first segment (for $5 billion) will connect nowhere to nowhere.
        That's not too exciting for $5 billion.

        The first segment of the line will run from Madera to Bakersfield. The final cost of the completed project from Los Angeles to San Francisco would be $68 billion.

        Obama 2012...going to win it with our support!!!

        by mattinjersey on Mon Aug 20, 2012 at 01:24:02 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Well of course it connects (5+ / 0-)

          a major city to a farm city. And from there it connects to another major city.

          Phase I is farmland city to farmland city while they work on regional transit upgrades in SF and LA. Once those upgrades are done, HSR will extend into the metro areas.

          The Transcontinental Railroad was built from the cities and connecting in the middle. But to my understanding, most modern rail systems are built from the middle to the ends.

          •  seems like a bad idea (0+ / 0-)

            any project that costs $5 billion and is only a Phase 1 with no point, that must be a bad idea.
            The entire budget deficit of California is only a few times bigger than that.
            Is it really believable that we will ever build a $68 billion high-speed rail? That would be crazy.

            Obama 2012...going to win it with our support!!!

            by mattinjersey on Mon Aug 20, 2012 at 01:39:39 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  Maybe its just me, (4+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              Sychotic1, psyched, elfling, Woody

              but I wouldn't call the electrification of Caltrain, additional BART cars, expansions to LA Union Station, and Metrolink upgrades "pointless".

              •  sure (0+ / 0-)

                these are all very nice.
                but if at the end of $5 billion, your primary output is a high-speed rail between two farm cities, that's a pretty bad way to spend the money.

                Obama 2012...going to win it with our support!!!

                by mattinjersey on Mon Aug 20, 2012 at 01:46:42 PM PDT

                [ Parent ]

                •  It is a process (3+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  raines, psyched, elfling

                  If you don't build the Central Valley segment now, then when? Right now, the metro areas are slated for regional transit construction and is not ready to accept HSR. So the obvious thing to do is to begin the Central Valley segment.

                  The end result is not a high speed train from Fresno to Bakersfield. It is a train from San Francisco to Los Angeles.

                  •  $68 billion? (1+ / 0-)
                    Recommended by:
                    bcdelta

                    that figure is ridiculously high.
                    The entire California GDP is $400 billion.
                    Plus you can imagine that any project will overrun by a factor of 2-3.
                    Just no way this makes sense.
                    High-speed rail is quite nice, but one has to have projects that make some economic sense.
                    It would be cheaper to buy every commuter their own limousine.

                    Obama 2012...going to win it with our support!!!

                    by mattinjersey on Mon Aug 20, 2012 at 01:53:10 PM PDT

                    [ Parent ]

            •  First, you act as if that $5 billion is fungible (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              psyched

              it is not.  We cannot use that $5 billion toward the deficit.  Most of the money is specficially for HSR.  Second, this is just the beginning and proof of concept.  Unfortunately, the starting point is set by politicians, not engineers.

              "I watch Fox News for my comedy, and Comedy Central for my news." - Facebook Group

              by Sychotic1 on Mon Aug 20, 2012 at 02:01:07 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

        •  Fresno is nowhere? (4+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          elfling, Sychotic1, psyched, Woody

          The million+ people in Fresno will be suprised to learn they're nowhere.

          The world will end not with a bang, but with a "Do'oh!"
          "America is a free speech zone."

          by Love and Death on Mon Aug 20, 2012 at 01:42:28 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

    •  It connects to a current train line (0+ / 0-)

      And once the first section is completed then we'll finally have regular train service between LA and SF.  It won't be perfect, you'll have to transfer, but you won't have to take a bus like you do now.

      There revolution will not be televised. But it will be blogged, a lot. Probably more so than is necessary.

      by AoT on Mon Aug 20, 2012 at 06:06:39 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  The car as a promoter of individualism (5+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Edmund Xu, elfling, Sychotic1, psyched, Joe Bob

    is a total myth or falsification.  The truth is that cages on wheels are restricted to paved tracks, on which they can only move forward, not back and on which, except in an emergency, they can't even stop.

    While a train also moves on tracks, the passengers can get off where they want and take off on foot without having to worry about leaving the car while they are gone.

    It's probably ironic, but busing children to schools out of their neighborhoods, so they won't hang around unsupervised or bug the merchants downtown, has had the effect of getting the young used to being transported around.  Time is not of the essence, if one can work and communicate on the train.

    Cars kill 40,000 a year and maim hundreds of thousands more.  It is probably not the fault of the cars.  People lacking in situational awareness ought not to be driving.

    Willard's forte = "catch 'n' cage". He's not into "catch and release."

    by hannah on Mon Aug 20, 2012 at 01:15:15 PM PDT

  •  Kind of in the middle on this. (4+ / 0-)

    Do I like high-speed rail? You bet. Do I see serious problems with the CA project? Yes. Here are some of my concerns:

    1. Everything is a choice. Spending on one priority often means not spending on another. We don't even have "speed" rail in CA, let alone "high-speed". BART doesn't connect to San Jose yet. Caltrain still runs on diesel. Passenger service in CA and further up the coast takes second place to freight that uses the same lines as Amtrak (19-24 h Oakland to Portland!). The BART system exceeds 100 db inside railcars at many points in the system. I can't speak to mass transit in LA but it's pretty obvious that it needs 10's of billions of investment.

    2. The high-speed rail route is planned to go through some of the most expensive real estate in CA - the SF peninsula - just so it can terminate in downtown SF. That is just crazy. If it went to Oakland, it could connect into BART and Amtrak, and there would be plenty of money left over to upgrade local and regional feeders.

    On these grounds, the CA high-speed rail project is likely to become exhibit A for anyone in the future who wants to prevent the building of high-speed rail in any other State. Talk about a 3rd rail. I am not opposed to high-speed rail but this project is very problematic.

    The universe may have a meaning and a purpose, but it may just specifically not include you.

    by Anne Elk on Mon Aug 20, 2012 at 01:22:10 PM PDT

    •  Not exactly, (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      elfling, Sychotic1, psyched, where4art

      The HSR plan includes some pretty important regional transportation improvements like the ones you mentioned. It may not be perfect, but its a great start.

      Also, the route is running on the existing Caltrain right of way, so I'm not entirely sure what the problem is. At the 4th & King terminal it will then go underground and end up at the Transbay Center. IMO, stopping in San Francisco is infinitely better than stopping in Oakland and then transferring.

    •  The route gets us a passenger line into LA (0+ / 0-)

      which is going to cost a lot of money regardless of the speed of the train, and which is very very necessary and in demand.

      Fry, don't be a hero! It's not covered by our health plan!

      by elfling on Mon Aug 20, 2012 at 05:16:20 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Ticket Prices (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Utahrd, splintersawry

    Another thing that has to be considered as per usage is ticket prices.

    I've seen articles saying max price would be $120 or so SF to LA, but then others citing that it would be closer to $200.

    So $400 round trip would encourage people to fly or drive.

    Not saying it will be this, but what the ticket price actually is will determine usage/ridership and hence the ROI.

    "And there are those who give and know not pain in giving, nor do they seek joy, nor give with mindfulness of virtue; They give as in yonder valley the myrtle breathes its fragrance into space" Khalil Gibran

    by bcdelta on Mon Aug 20, 2012 at 02:30:21 PM PDT

    •  You're ignoring (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      psyched, rosarugosa

      the Chunnel train which does just fine filling its trains with passengers at a fare slightly higher than airfare.

      Still enjoying my stimulus package.

      by Kevvboy on Mon Aug 20, 2012 at 03:43:52 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  The Chunnel train (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        bcdelta

        is $166 round trip.  You can get cheaper airfare - but you have to go to airports outside of London and Paris. It is similar to going from DC to NYC.

        If LA-SF is $300 plus - I doubt you are going to get much ridership if you can fly for about $120 round trip like you can now.

        The bitter truth of deep inequality has been disguised by an era of cheap imported goods and the anyone-can-make-it celebrity myth - Polly Toynbee

        by fladem on Mon Aug 20, 2012 at 06:18:58 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  Right, but (0+ / 0-)

        ..If one is taking the chunnel many have business in Paris or London with no need to rent a car and drive around + as noted by fladem one has to go out to Heathrow or De Gualle, which adds to the time.

        From San Jose you can fly into LAX, Burbank, John Wayne or Ontario and it's only 45-50 minutes and San Jose is very easy to fly in and out of.

        I used to fly 80k miles a year and never had to wait more than 10 minutes on the Tarmac at SJC - good luck with this at Heathrow (ever miss your take off slot at Heathrow?).  Same for OAK.  SFO can definitely have delays with fog though, but then you have 2 other airports.

        And it's easy to fly from the Bay Area to LA for $100-200 round trip.

        Next there are 2 mountain passes that the train must go through - this will be very expensive to build.

        So I'm all for HSR, but when CA is in so much financial trouble I question that this is the best usage of funds.

        "And there are those who give and know not pain in giving, nor do they seek joy, nor give with mindfulness of virtue; They give as in yonder valley the myrtle breathes its fragrance into space" Khalil Gibran

        by bcdelta on Tue Aug 21, 2012 at 08:25:46 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  $8 a gallon gas (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Kevvboy, bcdelta

    High speed rail works in Japan and Europe because gas is $8 a gallon there.

    Also, if you drive around the crossing arms and prove Darwin right in Japan or Europe, a jury won't give your family several million dollars like they will here.

    •  High Speed Rail (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Utahrd, bcdelta

      Just gives Jerry Brown and the CA state government a way to holding their hands over their eyes and pretend the shit has not already hit the fan.

      I live in San Bernardino County where the county government has already effectively said 'fuck it', thrown their hands up in the air, and declared bankruptcy.

      I won't be coming home tonight, my generation will put it right - Genesis 9:3

      by superscalar on Mon Aug 20, 2012 at 03:37:08 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Well, I'd ride it (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        superscalar

        Back when I lived in Fullerton; I would have taken High Speed Rail to Las Vegas.  There probably would have been a stop in San Bernardino.

        You can get around the Strip or Downtown just fine without a car.

        But as for anything else?

        •  I Used To Ride Metrolink, Fullerton To Hollywood (3+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Utahrd, splintersawry, bcdelta

          Every weekday for 18 months. Loved it. The fact that I lived in Fullerton just across the street from CSUF and about two miles from the Metrolink station made it all the better.

          That said even during the peak hours that I was riding the train I have to believe it was still losing money. In addition my monthly train pass and the shuttle to haul me and the rest of the train riders to and from Union Station was being subsidized by the company I worked for, as the company was otherwise considered a pretty big polluter.

          CA is just not a train state, and the way the population centers and infrastructure is laid out it's never going to be a train state in the way that the HSR people want it to be, even if gas goes to $8 a gallon.

          I won't be coming home tonight, my generation will put it right - Genesis 9:3

          by superscalar on Mon Aug 20, 2012 at 03:54:52 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  As a Californian, I unhappily must agree. (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            bcdelta

            This could be a serious impediment to future HSR projects, as it's going to be unbelievably expensive and will balloon out even further with all of the NIMBY's in the Bay Area.

            Money should be spent on shoring up the huge deficit, as I don't think any tax increases are going to fly with the public...even if they're just for the rich.

            The meme that governments have made promises that they cannot keep is pretty much everywhere.  With the economy and UE where it is, you're not seeing a lot of empathy, either.

      •  And San Bernadino and Stockton (0+ / 0-)

        are just the tip of the iceberg - a lot more municipalities are going to file for bankruptcy.

        "And there are those who give and know not pain in giving, nor do they seek joy, nor give with mindfulness of virtue; They give as in yonder valley the myrtle breathes its fragrance into space" Khalil Gibran

        by bcdelta on Tue Aug 21, 2012 at 08:27:00 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  Why not Spend the same money building subways (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    bcdelta

    I'm a public transport and rail supporter, a democrat, I live in California, and I've studied that rail project.  It's a boondoggle.

    1)  Not many people will use that rail system;

    2)  Far, Far better to use that money to build subways in the population dense LA and OC areas (According to SCAG, costs about 100 million per mile to build a subway)

    Anyone driving the 22 in OC, the 5 from LA to OC, the 405 from Long beach to Encino, the 134, the 10, the 110 freeways, or trying to reach anywhere by surface street knows LA needs a subway system.  OC ain't far behind.

    For a 1/8 the cost of the HSR project you'd service AT LEAST  100x the people.  Probably 1000x the number

    3)  If you are going to build a central valley high speed rail, why not build it along the I-5 freeway at far less cost than the proposed route?  

    4)  Unions are big behind this project as they are picking up the work.    I support unions in general but they have way too much influence over projects like this.

    •  The 99 corridor is a better route (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      BusyinCA, acnetj

      because it picks up the population centers and the universities in the central valley, all of which have substantial unmet demand for better transportation options.

      There is no way that building subways in LA - full of tectonic fun and dense population - is cheaper. That 405 project you mention is probably at least as expensive and challenging as getting through from San Fernando to Bakersfield. But the good news is, LA subways are happening too, as it needs to.

      There is plenty of demand for LA-SF transportation, and for many sub routes in between, like Fresno-LA and Bakersfield-LA.

      Fry, don't be a hero! It's not covered by our health plan!

      by elfling on Mon Aug 20, 2012 at 05:27:38 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Bus Rapid Transit and Light rail would be (0+ / 0-)

      better than a subway in LA, and a lot cheaper.  BRT would be the cheapest and the quickest to set up.

      The other thing that HSR from SF to LA has is that it replaces not just cars but also plane trips.  Air travel is horrendously inefficient in terms of emissions, by far the worst form you can think of.  Getting people out of planes and ont the rails would be a huge thing.

      There revolution will not be televised. But it will be blogged, a lot. Probably more so than is necessary.

      by AoT on Mon Aug 20, 2012 at 07:23:00 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Two reasons (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      elfling

      The voters of the state passed a bond issue for $10 billion. The language of that ballot issue is extremely limiting, extremely. None of that bond issue money can be spent on things that you, or Schwarzenegger, or Brown, or anyone might like better than what the voters authorized.

      The stimulus bill authorized $8 billion for rail projects across the US. It specifically stated that a large part of the money should go toward HSR. (That is one reason you have seen American officials with a straight face refer to other projects to allow speeds up to a mere 110 mph as "HSR.") And the next year's budget included money for HSR and HSR only.

      Now the feds have committed several billions to the last-man-standing "true" HSR line in the country. Those funds must be committed and contracts let this year, by the end of September iirc. There is no legal way, and no time left, to shift that money anywhere else for anything else.

      So it is California HSR or nothing. The choice is clear.

    •  tunnel costs add ~$15,000 per linear foot (0+ / 0-)

      on top of the rail, signalling, land acquisition, communications, and other costs. That's $79.2 Million extra per mile. How about an elevated rail system. There's the Chicago type, or the monorail type, or there are some interesting ideas that use stiff-cars through loops or stanchions (the car becomes the rail).

      -We need Healthcare Reform... but i'm selfish, I Need Healthcare reform-

      by JPax on Mon Aug 20, 2012 at 10:47:47 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Guess when autos were invented (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    rosarugosa, Sharon Wraight

    The 19th century.

    How about some truly 21st century technologies like 400kph maglev trains? Those things blow freeways out of the water, baby.

  •  Here are some problems with high speed rail (0+ / 0-)

    Conventional rail in California is very poorly utilized and even more poorly implemented. There are a few places with decent conventional rail, but in most places, it must share tracks with freight and as a result cannot go anywhere near the speeds it is capable of. This is because freight tracks tend to be in only moderately good condition, but more importantly, must be banked for slow, heavy freight trains. Plus, there is infrequent service, many changes between trains and buses, and relatively poor interconnections among cities and among the various other transportation systems in the state.

    Modern conventional rail is pretty fast. If there were more conventional rail, dedicated to passenger service, then speeds would be around 120 MPH on average, sometimes hitting 150. This would mean Sacto-SF in 40 minutes, downtown to downtown, and SF-SD in 4 hours, again, downtown to downtown. These are speeds that rival those of air travel, when you count ground transportation, and this is with conventional trains on conventional tracks.

    I believe that this should have been our first target, not high speed rail per se. Believe me, those speeds would seem pretty damn fast here in the Golden State, especially if coupled with lots more direct rail service to lots more places. This could have been achieved with the money that now will be spent on trains that can go a very limited number of places two or three times faster than conventional rail. A poor trade in my opinion.

    Especially since, if you read the details of the existing HSR plan, these super fast, super expensive trains will, yes, share freaking track with freight trains!!! This means that for a shockingly high proportion of their routes, the new HSR service will go at more or less the same speed as freight trains.

    To me, a HSR connection only makes sense when a good, modern conventional rail connection is overloaded with passengers who are willing to pay a higher fee to cut hours off their trip. This allows the new HSR to plug right into an existing demand. Right now, the prerequisite overloaded modern conventional rail is missing, and there is no existing demand for HSR.

    •  You just don't save that much money (0+ / 0-)

      by building new conventional rail with conventional trains, nor do you get the bang for your buck. You have to build new track and acquire and grade new rights-of-way no matter what.

      HSR California will not share track with freight trains when it is completed.

      Look around the world: HSR works and it works well and is successful in environments that match California very closely.

      How would spending 3/4 the amount of money on a set of tracks and rolling stock that would be far far less desirable be a better choice?

      Amtrak California is already doing pretty brisk business, even with the limitations they deal with now.

      Fry, don't be a hero! It's not covered by our health plan!

      by elfling on Mon Aug 20, 2012 at 10:28:50 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  I disagree (0+ / 0-)

        New conventional rail could be built much less expensively than HSR. Less space is required, and less protection. If I am not mistaken, a great deal of it could be built along existing divided highways, the way a lot of commuter rail has been built already, even in places where space and geography would not permit HSR. The problem is that the thought of creating a European-style conventional passenger rail network in California has been dead politically for decades. This HSR initiative is basically a political ploy to revitalize rail modernization here (and its best part IMHO is the non-HSR improvements it will fund).

        When you say “completed”, what does that even mean? As of now, the plan is for the new HSR to share freight tracks and no explicit plan exists to do otherwise. But sure, I'd agree that that state of affairs would be the hallmark of an incomplete HSR system, so in that sense you are completely correct.

        As for Amtrak's brisk business in California, that's surely a joke, right? Yes, a few commuter trains do good business, usually in areas where commuter traffic is ridiculously heavy, such as the coastal route south of LA and south of SF, and the route from Sacto to SF. But that last one is a case in point: you can't ride the train directly from Sacto to SF: you either have to switch n Richmond to BART, or switch in Oakland/Emeryville to a bus. But, the Bay Area traffic is so odious during rush hour that the train, with its separate pathway, is viable as an option. In any case, if BART gets extended to Sacto, which has been planned for quite a while, there would be no point to use Amtrak for what has always been a commuter route. More or less the same thing can be said about the SD-LA and SJ-SF routes.

        Outside of those exceptional cases, which are basically commuter routes, virtually no one decides to take a train for travel within the state, because it's too expensive and royally inconvenient, and the interconnections once you finally get to the end of the train ride, are also inconvenient.

        When you point to other places where HSR has been a success, in every single case, to the best of my knowledge, those have all been places served for a long time by heavily-used conventional rail. That is, people were already completely accustomed to traveling along that route by rail. The job there was not to persuade people that HSR should become a commonly used alternative to driving, it was to persuade people to pay a little more to shave hours off off of a train trip they already were taking very frequently. This is a completely different kettle of fish. It's parallel to the difference between taking a local/commuter train and taking an express train for the same route.

        In fact, one of the criticisms of the proposed HSR route in CA is that it stops in too many places. Why does it do that? Obviously because there is no adequate existing conventional rail alternative. With conventional rail, express/local is simply a matter of scheduling and one can trade off costs and revenues pretty effectively. When there is only one, fairly infrequent high speed service, you have to degrade the entire system, with lots of stations, or else simply bypass all those places, leaving them to use their cars.

        I love HSR, but only as a premium alternative to a good, modern conventional rail system.

  •  Tipped and rec'd (0+ / 0-)

    because it's well written and it's your first diary. Wow. Nice job with links and blockquotes and pictures. Keep writing!

    But the angle said to them, "Do not be Alfred. A sailor has been born to you"

    by Dbug on Mon Aug 20, 2012 at 07:42:08 PM PDT

  •  And now they're thinking of building a canal (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    rosarugosa, halef

    connecting Albany and Buffalo, NY, so grain will be easier to ship from Ohio to New York City. What a crock. What next, steam-powered ferries? Wireless sound transmission devices? Travelling through the air? Oh what will these crazy liberals think up next?!? Damn fool Alexander Hamilton!

    "Liberty without virtue would be no blessing to us" - Benjamin Rush, 1777

    by kovie on Mon Aug 20, 2012 at 07:56:45 PM PDT

  •  Good luck to California with the HS rail. I wish (0+ / 0-)

    we here in Wisconsin had not turned down our 800 million in high speed rail stimulus money. So short-sighted and so dumb.

  •  Here's a good speech supporting rail subsidies (0+ / 0-)

    because all the other transit options are and have been subsidized as well.

    A speech by Amtrak Reform Council member James Coston in Philadelphia December 1, 2001.
    The Myth of Passenger Train Profitability

    Profitability is not a reliable or trustworthy index of the effectiveness of a transportation system. Our highway and civil aviation systems are not profitable, nor do we expect them to be. Why then should we place this commercial burden on Amtrak?

    The chairman of the Senate Commerce Committee, Fritz Hollings of South Carolina, recently noted that no passenger rail operation in the world operates at a profit. Sen. Hollings was correct, but he didn't go far enough. He made it sound as if passenger trains are unique in being unable to make a profit. In fact, all forms of intercity commercial passenger transportation are money-losers-if you calculate all of their costs in the same way we calculate the costs of passenger trains.

    Let me tell you about Warren Buffett. I hope most of you know who Warren Buffett is. He's America's most successful investor. He became one of the nation's ten richest people by picking investments shrewdly and risking his money with companies he felt were poised for strong growth. Well, here is how Warren Buffet was quoted in the October 21 Chicago Tribune:

    "The airline business, from the time of Wilbur and Orville Wright through 1991, made zero money net."

    I didn't say that. America's most successful investor did.

    There's a lot more at the link. Hope that helps.

    -We need Healthcare Reform... but i'm selfish, I Need Healthcare reform-

    by JPax on Mon Aug 20, 2012 at 10:52:58 PM PDT

  •  BTW, I want superspeed maglev vacuum trains! (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Sharon Wraight

    I worked out a base plan that only costs a few trillion over a couple decades, but serves most of the US population centers over a quarter million in population.

    It also zooms along at an average speed of one thousand miles an hour, so it would replace airlines for long distance travel, assuming we can scale it up that fast. Even if it just goes half that speed, it would compete favorably against airliners on most city pairs.

    -We need Healthcare Reform... but i'm selfish, I Need Healthcare reform-

    by JPax on Mon Aug 20, 2012 at 10:57:46 PM PDT

  •  I've used HSR in Japan and Europe (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    FinchJ, Sharon Wraight

    And it's simply an immensely civilised way to travel. Even in a full train I have more space than in a plane, I can move around at leisure, use the dining car or whatever.  Instead of hectic check-in, security, endless walks to and from gates, waiting to board, waiting to take off etc., I can use my travel time far more productively.
    If US carriers were sensible (they aren't), they'd team up with HSR to provide feeder and distribution from hubs.  The mass of very short haul flights is grossly inefficient and wasteful - an uneconomical.

    γνωθι σεαυτόν

    by halef on Mon Aug 20, 2012 at 11:04:27 PM PDT

    •  My wife and I love public transportation. (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Sharon Wraight

      And I absolutely love the train. No security checks (unless you take the Chunnel) even for high speed lines. No waiting at a counter for check in, none of the security theater that revolves around airline travel (security is one thing, but we've gone too far IMO).

      Everything you said is true. More space makes it instantly more comfortable. Being able to get up and walk around is another benefit- as is bringing your own food on the train! And since the seating arrangements often allow conversation around a table, you have the chance to really meet people rather than feeling obligated to talking to the person wedged in besides you (so that you can get up to use the bathroom...).

      Ah, HSR. Can't wait for our next trip to W Europe. Finland has a new HSR line between Helsinki and St. Petersburg, but I don't see us going there just yet.

      A Victory Garden documents my family's experience transitioning from suburban lawn to edible food forest based on permaculture principles. A new blog following my life as an immigrant in Finland will be up soon.

      by FinchJ on Tue Aug 21, 2012 at 12:06:43 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  security theater, terrorism, anti-terrorism, media (0+ / 0-)

        This is somewhat tangential, but your comment makes me ponder: I don't understand why terrorists still target an aircraft in the sky, vs. other softer targets on the ground (including trains, stadiums, airport ticket/secty lines, malls, etc.). Wikipedia lists 30 inflight bombings and 40 hijackings since 1970, there are undoubtedly more.

        I'll admit I don't really understand terrorists' mindsets (and I guess this is a good thing!).

        I assume part of the answer is that it gets them more media attention. But it's not clear to me if that's really true, or why it is, if so. I'm no expert on bombs, but I'd think one could kill more people waiting in line at security (esp. on holidays), or in a stadium, or Grand Central, then one could aboard the flight -- a higher density of people/space. So maybe it isn't simply the # of deaths they look for, but some 'drama'? Does flying have more of that (adrenalin), then trains? Or is it lack of 'imagination'?

        There's a vulnerability on airplanes, that even if you damage them a little they're still likely to crash and kill everyone. But (alas) bomb 'technology' seems to have gotten 'better' over the decades, so I'd think there's a high probability of major deaths in any crowd.

        Again, this is not my field, so I'm just speculating.

  •  As a Californian,,,,, (0+ / 0-)

    from your lips to God's ears....

    What do we want? Universal health care! When do we want it? Now!

    by cagernant on Thu Aug 23, 2012 at 08:58:26 PM PDT

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