Saturday, November 1, 2008

Field Poll Shows a Narrow Lead for 1A

NOTE: We've moved! Visit us at the California High Speed Rail Blog.

The Field Poll finally got around to polling Prop 1A and the results are about what I'd expected after six weeks of the Reason Foundation and the Howard Jarvis Association flooding the state's media with lies. We have a 47-42 lead with 11% undecided. The common rule of thumb in California politics is that a proposition under 50% before election day is in serious trouble, but I'm not convinced that conventional wisdom will hold true this year. There are a number of propositions - such as 4 and 8 - that are also very closely split, and voters are showing a better understanding of the issues, with a reduced inclination to vote no as a knee-jerk reaction.

Still, the poll shows that we have a LOT of work to do between now and Tuesday. Especially when you look at the crosstabs.

Prop 1A will be decided on election day. Those who have already voted oppose it 39-51. That is very close to the number of McCain voters opposing Prop 1A, 35-56. Here in California absentee voters have traditionally leaned Republican and conservative. Those groups oppose Prop 1A - Republicans by a margin of 35-58 and conservatives by a margin of 30-64. Voters over age 65, those most likely to cast an absentee ballot, oppose it 38-53.

However, if California gets an Obama surge on election day, the outcome may be much different (preferences are listed in order of yes, no, and undecided):

Democrats: 53-30-17
Independents: 54-40-6

Moderates: 49-40-11
Liberals: 61-25-14

Obama: 56-33-11

Age 18-34: 50-38-12

If young voters in particular hit the polls in large numbers than we can win this on election day.

The Field Poll also breaks the numbers down by region, showing us where we need to focus our energies over the next three days:

LA County: 55-37-8
Other SoCal: 32-54-14
Central Valley: 49-46-5
Bay Area: 59-28-13
Other NorCal: 46-46-8

Looking at this I would write off "Other SoCal" and pour as many resources as possible into the Central Valley. Fresno, Bakersfield, and Sacramento among others ought to be pro-HSR given how much they will benefit from the system. Over the next few days local political leaders and respected state leaders - I'm looking at you, Dianne Feinstein and Arnold Schwarzenegger - need to get into the Central Valley, get themselves on local news, and promote the hell out of Prop 1A.

There is a large number of undecided voters in the Bay Area as well. They can and should be brought over to our side, likely with a strong push from environmental and transit groups. I don't know if the Sierra Club has any money to put an ad up, or can do something to attract earned media, but that would be very helpful.

I know this site gets a lot of readers from around the pro-HSR community. So here is what I suggest our plans be for the next crucial three days:

  1. Link Obama to HSR. Run some ads or print up some flyers or just plain talk about how Obama and Biden are strong HSR advocates. The purpose here is to ensure that Democrats and Obama voters are going to cast their ballots for Prop 1A as well.


  2. The Central Valley is where we will win or lose. Get thee to Fresno (or Bakersfield or Sacramento) and explain to voters why this will be a godsend for the Valley. It will bring jobs and cheaper, more reliable transportation. Fresno will be under two hours from SF and LA. And it will reverse a long history of California neglecting the Valley's infrastructure needs.


  3. Emphasize the economic stimulus benefits of HSR. This message would play well in the Central Valley, the Bay Area, and perhaps even LA County and some other parts of SoCal. Prop 1A is a smart investment in jobs and growth. Leading economists like Paul Krugman are calling for deficit spending on infrastructure to rescue our economy. That message needs to get through.


  4. Continue targeting young voters. CALPIRG has done excellent work here over the last few weeks but they need to be joined by other groups - Young Democrats and other groups. At San Diego State an environmentally-minded group of fraternities and sororities has been promoting Prop 1A.


  5. Speak more about the environmental benefits in the Bay Area. Voters there are the most likely to be motivated by the considerable environmental and global warming-fighting benefits of HSR. If the Sierra Club has any last-minute resources to deploy, that would be very useful.


We can win this thing if we drive a big Obama turnout on Tuesday, ensure that people vote their entire ballot (or at least as far as the first proposition!) and that they vote YES on Prop 1A. The internals of the Field Poll look good for us, IF we can accomplish the turnout task. Let's get to it!

49 comments:

Rubber Toe said...

Robert,
I came across the Field Poll this morning too. I am encouraged by the data, but yes a big final push is definitely warranted. I haven't seen any commercials yet for 1A, or print ads either. Kind of makes me wonder where the money that was raised was spent? If anyone can provide a link to a video of any commercials that they have been running I would appreciate it.

I just checked the "official" site again didn't see any mention of where the $ were being spent. I did make a donation myself, and purchased 10 yard signs that I put up in my neighborhood here in Pasadena. All of them were on busy streets and will be seen hundreds of times a day easily. It was funny the day I scouted the locations out. I was looking for great locations that already had an Obama sign up, figuring they would be likely to support 1A. My pitch was that I was there on behalf of the California Democratic Party and the Sierra Club, and without exception everyone I spoke with allowed me to post the sign! I did a drive by this morning, and all the signs are still up.

I think the gap has closed since the last Field Poll because of the economy primarily. There has been much discussion here about how one shouldn't sacrifice the future to the present, and those points are well taken. But, when you have the DOW down 40%, people are looking at that and wondering if they are going to have any money when they retire, and having second thoughts about the $10 billion price tag.

I also think that with the recent (i.e. last week) somewhat better performance of the market bodes a bit better for 1A. If the impression is that the economy is simply going into a large recession versus going completely over the cliff, then they are more likely to vote to spend on 1A.

There are also more voices being raised, as Robert pointed out, that given the amount of money being spent on the Wall Street bailouts, that maybe it would be better to spend some of that money on something that will be useful for generations to come rather than just giving money to those responsible for creating the problem in the first place. The latest GDP figures from Q3 show that consumer spending was down about 2.2%, a very large contributor to the 0.3% drop on GDP. Since the economy is about 70% consumer driven, lower consumption by the public will turn those numbers even worse in the coming quarters. Offsetting this with increased spending by the government on programs like HSR that provide actual jobs will start to look like a pretty good idea. Don't even get me started with the "We can't afford it" non-sense. If we can afford to throw $700 Billion at the Wall Street pirates that just held up the Treasury because they threatened to collapse the whole world economy (which I don't believe for a minute), then we can certainly afford to spend as much as is required to build HSR.

This weeks Clusterf*ck Nation post by Kunstler ends with the following paragraph: "The new president will have to be Franklin Roosevelt on steroids, with some Mahatma Gandhi and Florence Nightingale thrown in. My pet project of restoring the American passenger railroad system might seem pretty minor in the face of all this, but it's at least a place to start that will accomplish several things: allow people and things to get places without cars and trucks; put many thousands of people to work at many levels doing something of direct, practical value; and be a small step in rebuilding confidence that we are a society capable of accomplishing something."

The worst case scenario with regard to 1A would be if it failed, and Obama were elected president, and the new administration (or even the current one) decided to actually fund a significant amount on work on HSR systems. Then we would find ourselves in a position of having just voted down our end of the funding, when the Feds may have just decided to sign up to their end of it. And the money might then end up going somewhere else, like the Northeast corridor.

It would be pretty tragic to come this far only to drop the ball at the last minute.

Rubber Toe

P.S. I also have seen some recent polling data that shows the Obama lead here at 27%. If that landslide actually happens, then you would think 1A would ride in on the coattails. The Republicans might well just stay home thinking that all is lost, as it certainly is for them in California, at least concerning the presidential race.

Tony D. said...

The 11% undecided! Those are the one's that matter. The good news, based on the internals, is that the undecided's seem to be largely liberal, democrat, and "middle of the road." If we could get an even split or 6-5 voting in favor, then Prop. 1A wins 52-53! We can do this!

Anonymous said...

This is just a complete fraud. Kopp should be ashamed of himself.

Your non-Kool Aid drinkers might listen to the Podcast for the John and Ken Show for yesterday's 6pm hour. Joseph Vranich is interviewed. See http://www.kfi640.com/pages/podcasting/ -- he's on at the bottom of the hour.

Anonymous said...

I work from a home office and I have stopped answering my land line over the past three weeks. If Field is trying to get my opinion, the phone wasn't the way to do it.

Following more of the techie sites, traditional phone polling is not as accurate as before because of call screening/caller ID and mobile phones. Polling trends more conservative, and older, when reliant on phones.

I have convinced everyone I know, even doubters (phone rings again....) that Yes on 1A is the right thing. Most people see it as obvious, others are weary of the timing with the economics, but a discussion usually calms their concerns.

And Robert, thank you for all your work on this site.

Anonymous said...

Guys -- get real. Prop 1A has fallen from 56% to 47% -- it needs 50% to pass. Also the data in a bit old.

For sure the economy is the major reason for the big decline, but as voters became aware of how the project was being promoted, with outlandish ridership projections and low ball construction costs, these had a factor also.

The final vote will be 45% yes and 55% no. It will fail for sure.

Rafael said...

Question: if someone votes for e.g. the President but leaves the boxes for prop 1A blank, does that ballot count towards the total cast with respect to prop 1A?

Rob Dawg said...

Rafael,
No, only yes/no votes are totaled.

Since July there has also been a decline in voter support for Prop. 1A, the high-speed rail bond measure. In the current survey it is clinging to a five-point lead (47% to 42%), down from an earlier twenty-six point advantage three months ago.

That isn't good news. The trend is wrong and last minute undecideds tend heavily towards no on money issues. The saving factor is turn out in LA and SF with excitement over the Presidential race. The margin of success in those two places will be the deciding factor.

Anonymous said...

The big turnout will pass this! LA and the Bay Area will get it thru
older voters will be swamped under on Nov4 and that will be good for prop1A..and anno it just might be 55yes 45no

Robert Cruickshank said...

For once I don't totally disagree with you, rob. There IS a tendency among late deciders to break no on a ballot prop. The difference is that as the Field Poll amply demonstrates, Obama voters WILL support Prop 1A.

I think you're right that a big turnout in SF and LA will help us. But we can and should be doing better in the Central Valley. This project is a godsend to Fresno and Bakersfield. It will revolutionize their economies and rectify decades of state neglect of their infrastructure.

A big turnout push combined with a better outreach in the Central Valley may just be enough to win.

Spokker said...

Young people were supposed to come out to the polls in support of Kerry. Never happened.

I wish this proposition would pass but I don't think it will. It's hopeful that the field poll shows that it's leading, but this line

"Those who have already voted oppose it 39-51."

probably indicates how unlikely it is that this will pass.

Oh well.

Robert Cruickshank said...

Gotta disagree with you there, spokker. Young voters turned out at a 45% rate in 2004 - not great, but a big jump over 33% in 2000. Young voters delivered some key states to Kerry, particularly WI and PA.

In 2006 young voters delivered the US Senate to the Democrats, providing the margin of victory in MT, VA, and MO, and nearly doing so for Harold Ford in TN.

A number of polls suggest that in 2008 voters under 30 could turnout as high as 65%. If that happens here in California, then we will do well.

Spokker said...

Well, I'll be voting on Tuesday. The only thing I can really say about turnout is that I'll be turning out.

A vote for Obama is a vote for gays and trains. Let's hope so.

The California Homo Train is so close to being a reality. Don't fuck this up, California.

Kevin Gong said...

... Except that in California, early voters tend to be conservative.

Robert Cruickshank said...

Club 220, spokker.

Anonymous said...

@ruber toe:

I don't know where you live, but in the bay area, the airwaves have been filled with Pro 1A ads, narrated by Will Durst. No video here as far as I know. He has been associated with the Alliance for jobs, which gave over $200 K to the campaign. The campaign wrote a check for $1MM a couple of weeks ago to a media house.

Too little and too late. Prop 1A down in flames.

Robert Cruickshank said...

Down in flames? Hardly. The polling does not support such a conclusion.

That ad you mention has been airing on Bay Area radio stations. It's not a bad ad.

But if the official campaign could record an ad quoting Obama's and Biden's support for HSR and air it in SF and LA that alone might be just what we need.

Anonymous said...

The down in flames comment is classic Martin..no we are going to win

Michael said...

Great article today from the AP on increasing national support for passenger rail, both high speed and normal! Sounds like federal support is almost certain:

http://www.signonsandiego.com/news/nation/20081031-1717-passengertrains.html

Anonymous said...

Of course the polling supports it, Cruickshank -- you've lost nine points. Your restaurant recommendation for Tuesday night is any place that serves crow.

The only winners (aside from us taxpayers) will be the media outlets who made $$$ of those badly produced ads.

Anonymous said...

One should note the data is a little stale already, having been taken from the 18th to 28th. With the Governor now announcing the new budget over $10 billion in the hole already, you certainly could must say that new data on the economy isn't getting better.

Rather the U of M Consumer Sentiment Index drops by a record amount.

Note also the data from voters who have already voted:

39% yes
51% no
10% un-decided.

You are really looking through rose colored glasses Robert.

I'm sticking with 45% yes and 55% no when the final results are posted.

yeson1A said...

The people that voted are Mccain types..and how could they be undecided and have voted? this is just a poll and the huge vote in LA and the Bay will produce the numbers to win..the people eating crow will be the "Deniers"

Anonymous said...

The anonymous neo-Hooverites should get a clue: taxpayers lose big if the HSR bond fails, and win big if it succeeds (because, y'know, their taxes will actually go to build something useful, create jobs, and make their lives easier).

We need less than 28% of the undecideds in order to win. Undecideds do tend to vote no, but high-speed rail is inherently popular, and if they're going to bother to think about one proposition, it will be the first proposition on the ballot. Getting 28% of the undecideds is definitely possible.

It's going to be very close. Good campaigning, folks.

Rafael said...

@ michael -

I wouldn't go as far as saying federal support is certain, ~$12 billion is a monster earmark. That said, if Obama does win and he takes advice from a range of economists, he may decide against using the full $700 billion in the Wall Street bailout package. So far, $163 billion has been allocated over and above the $123 billion for AIG and the liabilities of Fannie & Freddie.

Demand for fresh loans from consumers and businesses that are good credit risks is soft and, we all found out the hard way that lending to subprime applicants needs to be done carefully and in limited aggregate volume.

That means the public sector will have to make investments that generate jobs, i.e. a deficit spending program on useful infrastructure. Obama is keen on revamping the nation's electricity grid, ramping up renewable power generation and (partially) electric cars. He's also mentioned roads, bridges, water & sewers, broadband internet, ports and - drum roll please - high speed trains.

If there is a second stimulus package, as suggested by Fed chairman Bernanke, it might be on the order of $150 billion. California's share of that might be on the order of $15-$20 billion, so the state could choose to use that for road projects authorized by prop 1B(2006). A stimulus has to create jobs right away to have the desired effect - HSR won't break ground for another three years. However, some legal construct would have to be found to re-allocate the unused portion of prop 1B(2006) bond authority to the HSR project. In effect, the Feds would pay for the roads and California for 2/3 of the trains. As long as the state's total debt burden of the two measures combined remains unchanged, that should be ok.

However, California may not be at liberty to execute this switcheroo if prop 5(2008) goes down in defeat. In that case, there will likely be a Federal court order to spend $8 billion to alleviate overcrowding, i.e. to build more prisons. The prison guards union is funding the No on prop 5 effort. Ergo, if you want your potholes fixes and HSR built, vote yes on prop 1A and also on prop 5.

Tony D. said...

What part of 47 to 42 in favor don't the deniers understand? Basic math people: 47>42. Again, all we need is at least 4% of the 11% undecided. Surely a few will vote no due to the economy; let's hope at least 4% are smarter than that.

Spokker said...

"I'm sticking with 45% yes and 55% no when the final results are posted."

If 1A fails, and if any of 4, 8, or 10 pass, this really is the most retarded state in the union.

10 is a payday for T. Boone Pickens and his natural gas ilk. Now that's a truly messed up prop.

It's hilarious that 3 is showing such a large lead in the polls. I thought we were voting down all bonds this year, haha, *rolls eyes*

California can always be bought off with the "Think of the children!" nonsense.

Brandon in San Diego said...

tony d. is right.

Last time I checked, the no vote still needs 50% or more to loose. They only have 42 now.

The burden of coming up with the necessary votes to turn this, is squarely on the shoulders of the deniers.

And, it's an uphill battle. They have already blown their wad on the radio talk show circuit. And now, nothing is being aired except pro-HSR stuff. I hear it in San Diego... and it cites adding jobs.

San Diego needs jobs... people understand and see that.

Spokker said...

Hey brandon, the high speed rail will not stop in your city in phase 1. Why do you even care about the rest of the state? It's like you are putting the needs of yourself behind the needs of the state. That's not the way we think about here, buddy!

Brandon in San Diego said...

Is that bait?

I am a Californian and have roots all over. But either way, the state has to start somewhere and LA to SF makes good planning sense.

I don't subscribe to the idea that San Diego nor Sacramento will not happen when 1A passes... even in the possibility that the system needs a subsidy. That is an absolutely ignorant idea.

Even if, even IF, LA to SF does not operate in the black and requires a state subsidy to operate, the public and decision makers will not sit on their arses doing nothing. They'll take the necessary action to get those extensions in the works for the sake of equity.

To think otherwise is ignorant.

Additionally, I also believe other extensions and improvemetns are very likely after the currently planned system is built-out.

Improvements could be a more direct line from SF to Sac via Richmond, Fairfield & Davis. Or from San Diego to LA to go through Irvine rather than Riverside. Basically, improvements to cut down on travel time.

Spokker said...

"Is that bait?"

No, I was being sarcastic.

Brandon in San Diego said...

Oh, I thought it was bait to get me to provide THAT argument. Weren't we on the same page?

Rafael said...

SF Chronicle nails why HSR would be a superior way to travel between the Bay Area and SoCal.

Rafael said...

Another election resource to help bring out the youth vote on which the outcome now hinges:

CALPIRG clip for prop 1A

Anonymous said...

Come on Rafael -- you don't believe the SF article as really nailing it.

You surely don't believe the $55.00 fare number. That is pure nonsense and you know it.

The article should have had a title right at the top

ADVERTISEMENT FOR PROP 1a

Rafael said...

@ anon -

no-one ever said that every one-way ticket from SF to LA would cost $55 (in 2005 dollars). HSR will have teaser, regular and last-minute rates, just like the airlines do.

For example, I just checked the Voyages SNCF web site and they were offering 2nd class tickets for the 07:46 from Paris to Nice (~600 miles) on Jan 7, 2009 for EUR 24.90.

If you want a ticket for the Paris-Nice idTGV at 08:04 tomorrow (Monday) morning, the price is EUR 61.90. Supply and demand at work.

Keep in mind that in Europe, vendors have to quote prices including sales tax, currently 19.6% in France. In California, you'd have to add sales tax to whatever price you are quoted.

And yes, SNCF's France Europe business unit, which operates the TGV network, achieved 19% gross margin in 2007 (see the annual report on SNCF.com). HSR is profitable in France because SNCF uses low fares to attract high ridership. Seat capacity utilization on the TGVs averages 75%. For reference, a full-length TGV Duplex train with a top speed of 186mph has 1090 seats. In its first 25 years, the TGV network transported one billion passengers.

Do you ever do any research before you shoot your mouth off?

njh said...

It's a pity that the anti-HSR people are more interested in nitpicking irrelevancies than proposing alternatives. I'd like to hear what the alternative strategies are going to be when prop 1A fails.

Would morris like to give estimates for the road and runway construction costs? For the total CO2 and particulate emissions? Arguing about whether the ticket is exactly going to be $55.00 is stupid, of course it's not going to be exactly $55 every time. This is clearly not an argument worth arguing, because if it turns out to sell for $54.99, you've still lost. Instead you need to talk about something like the median ticket price, with a probability distribution. Rather than just saying 'won't, will. won't, will...), I want to hear what price those who don't believe in $55 expect.

It's much easier to knock someone else's estimates than to produce your own more accurate ones. (Unless you just make up numbers)

DB1 said...

What the heck is California going to do when it supports giving billions to T. Boone Pickens in the name of alternative fuels (Proposition 10) yet opposes high-speed rail? This is a disaster in the making, folks. It's California supporting a special interest while opposing something that everyone can use. But sadly, it correlates with the campaign spending. It's almost all been no on 1A and yes on 10 -- special interests gaming the system.

YES ON 1A said...

The anti HST crowd has no plan this same way of thinking is why everything in this county always works by reactions..bridges falling...train wrecks.911..THEN its time to do something!! STUPID!!
NOW is the time to build High speed rail..not 20 years from now

Anonymous said...

One thing I haven't seen too often is that the costs of no high speed rail aren't zero. I'm surprised that wasn't emphasized in the voter guide arguments, etc.

Robert Cruickshank said...

Agreed, anon, about the cost of doing nothing. The official campaign was able to get their ballot arguments to the Secretary of State before I could. I did have an argument written for the ballot info guide that emphasized that the cost of doing nothing was not zero.

Anonymous said...

@ rafael

you write


no-one ever said that every one-way ticket from SF to LA would cost $55 (in 2005 dollars). HSR will have teaser, regular and last-minute rates, just like the airlines do.


Well Rafael I don't know how many times I have heard Kopp and Diridon say $55 is the fare from SF to LA.

That is their pitch, that is what they want the voters to believe, just like they are to believe "it won't raise your taxes". These guys are real hucksters. (using the definition of

A person ready to make his profit of anything in a mean or petty way; one who basely barters his services, etc., for gain; a mercenary; an overreacher of others.


Not only using $55 fares for come ons, but ridership projections that have no basis in reality.

The voters have begun to catch on. The article you pointed out in the SF Chronicle this morning, getting plenty of negative feedback.

So we shall see on Tuesday.

yes on1A said...

The negative feed back on SFgate is from non residents or the usual rightwing crowd..I live here SF is going to pass this Bond in large numbers! other hst articles ahve hundreds of pro-1a comments

Rafael said...

@ anon -

What they say and how you interpret that are two different things. There's every reason to believe there will be some tickets for SF-LA one-way at $55 (in 2005 dollars). Marketing is the art of telling the truth, just not all of it.

HSR isn't a local service like Caltrain or BART. Intercity ticket prices will not be fixed any more than airfares are. Savvy operators rely on sophisticated and opaque fare rating engines to optimize their profits and compete effectively against airlines.

Since the operations of the California HSR system will be put out to tender, there's every reason to assume that's exactly what will happen. Does that make them hucksters? I don't think so.

---

Speaking of private investors:

Here is an article co-authored by Kansas Gov. Sibelius published back in May on where the private investment for new infrastructure might come from: public pension funds.

CALPERS, the largest such fund, already has inflation-linked investments in infrastructure. Now that it has lost big bucks in stocks and real estate, dependable cash cows like HSR or new toll roads and bridges might be worth looking into.

Anonymous said...

"But we can and should be doing better in the Central Valley."

Why? The Pacheco alignment says "HSR doesn't care about the Central Valley. Manteca? Stockton? Sacramento? Nah, SJ<->LA is the only route that HSR cares about."

When 1A fails, I expect that will give HSR supporters ample time to design a system that will serve far more Californians.

AlanfromBigEasy said...

Vote *NO*

High Speed Rail in the USA is like taking food stamps at the first of the month and buying lobster and filet mignon with very limited funds. Nothing will be left over for the essentials !

High speed rail is sexy and that is it's main virtue.

The HSR models are simply wrong because only San Francisco has a barely adequate Urban Rail. Without good Urban Rail feeders, HSR will be starved for riders.

HSR is an energy hog. Electrical consumption increases as the square of the speed. Operating 110 mph trains would use ONE SIXTH of the electricity and still be competitive with auto travel.

California would be MUCH better served by spending $45 (or $60) billion) on expanding Urban Rail in the cities that have it and building Urban Rail in those without.

HSR track cannot carry medium density freight (such as fruits and vegetables) due to issues of super-elevation and grade.

A MUCH cheaper and energy efficient alternative is semi-HSR rail. Express freight at 90 to 100 mph (such as Swiss Rail) on the same tracks as passengers at 100 to 125 mph. (the best railroad in the world only operates trains at 150 mph, "all that is needed").

Vote *NO*. Spend your limited funds on the basics; red beans and rice, some vegetables, etc. and NOT on lobster !

Best Hopes for setting Priorities,

Alan Drake,

PS: California NOT will be spending $100 billion on roads and airports. They will be traveling less post-Peak Oil instead.

BruceMcF said...

PS: California NOT will be spending $100 billion on roads and airports. They will be traveling less post-Peak Oil instead.

PPS: If HSR is knocked back, and with the follow on effect depressing investment in other rail projects, there'll be little alternative but to invest heavily in road and airports post Peak Oil ... though far more of that will go to maintenance and far less to expansion that would presently be imagined.

mike said...

The Field poll numbers are actually a little better than I was expecting given the economy. In the end it will almost surely come down to voter turnout. Too bad we're not a swing state.

Regardless of the outcome, however, I doubt that this will be as definitive a moment as either side originally expected.

If Prop 1A passes, that's fantastic. But remember that it has financial safeguards in it (as well it should). If money from the Federal govt and/or private investors doesn't materialize in the next few years, then nothing will get built. So Prop 1A supporters will still have to fight to make sure the project actually becomes reality.

If Prop 1A fails, the Martin Engels of the state will be very happy. But there's a decent chance that it's not the end of the story unless Prop 1A fails big. Everyone on both sides knows that the economy is weighing heavily on propositions this season, so if it's a close vote (say, mid-40s or above), it's likely that a revised proposition would appear in 2 to 4 years when the economy is (hopefully) doing better, especially given that it has bipartisan support. Propositions that have narrow wins or losses don't necessarily disappear. Consider, for example, Measure Q (the rail bond in Marin/Sonoma that is basically a re-do of the narrowly failing 2006 bond). Or consider what happened to the Florida HSR project (narrowly passed in 2000 only to be put back on the ballot a few years later to narrowly fail). So the HSR foes better hope that it fails big time (e.g., somewhere in the 30s), otherwise this may not be the last HSR bond we see.

Rafael said...

@ alan from bigeasy -

a) a top speed of 110mph would use less electricity per train, but would also attract far fewer passengers. Most likely, fare box return would be below 100%, so operations would have to be subsidized. The break-even point is probably in the 125-150mph range. Above 125mph, FRA mandates grade separation.

b) the power demand of the whole 800 mile network running at full throttle will be 400-500MW - roughly the size of the Ivanpah solar thermal plant spread out over 9 square miles out in the desert. That's less than 1% of the current total generating capacity of 50GW. The pumps needed to deliver water from the Delta to Southern California require about 2%, as do all of the data centers in the state put together.

c) France's La Poste owns a few cargo TGV trainsets. They are used for priority mail and packages. The technology could also be used for premium foodstuffs like fresh fish and produce, for flowers, for air cargo containers etc. However, CHSRA currently has no plans for anything other than daytime passenger operations.

njh said...

HSR is an energy hog. Electrical consumption increases as the square of the speed. Operating 110 mph trains would use ONE SIXTH of the electricity and still be competitive with auto travel.

Dood, if it goes as the square, then halving the speed from 220mph will drop the energy consumption by a factor of 4 (i.e. ONE QUARTER).

Bay Area Resident said...

I live in silicon valley near the caltrain tracks and I will sue this along with all the other towns in Silicon valley that this will destroy. By the time we get done suing this BS you will need another bond for 10 billion to get this off the ground.