Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Quentin Kopp On Transbay Terminal

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

In response to yesterday morning's post on the Transbay Terminal Quentin Kopp, chairman of the California High Speed Rail Authority, called me up to chat about the project and to give his side of the story.

First, he said that there is no agreement yet on the Transbay Terminal capacity issue. The Steven T. Jones article in the Guardian shouldn't be taken to imply that any solutions have been reached. The notion of 8 trains an hour at TBT and 4 at 4th and King came from a meeting with MTC engineers, but again it's just a proposal. I asked Kopp what he thought the right solution should be and he said he needed to hear back from his engineers, and that might take up to 6 more months.

Second, Kopp explained from the CHSRA's perspective the debate over the Transbay Terminal solution. Two months ago engineers from the Transbay Joint Powers Agency, the Peninsula Corridor Joint Powers Board (Caltrain) and the CHSRA met to discuss the Transbay project. It was there that the engineers, without dissension, agreed that the existing design was inadequate to accommodate the 12 trains per hour that CHSRA requested.

And where did that 12 trains per hour figure come from? According to Kopp, it's based on the 2035 ridership projections in the 2008 study done by Cambridge Systematics.

Third, Kopp emphasized that the Transbay Terminal remains the CHSRA's preferred SF terminal, has been since 2006, and is of course written into Proposition 1A. Kopp does have financial concerns about the project - he quoted a cost figure of $2.8 billion. He believes that TJPA is moving too quickly on this and that CHSRA will be forced to commit some of its $9 billion HSR bond money to the project sooner than he'd prefer.

This is problematic for Kopp because of the possibility of precedent-setting. As he explained it to me, if SF gets a $2.8 billion tunnel and train station, then many other stations and cities along the route will point to that and demand that similar amounts of money be spent on their own preferred station designs and grade separation solutions. Kopp is determined to bring the project in on-time and on-budget, and doesn't want the Transbay Terminal project to suck up an undue amount of the available money at the expense of the rest of the line.

Kopp also expressed dissatisfaction with the track layout, specifically the curves of the track from 4th and King to TBT, but the above issues seem to be at the heart of his and the CHSRA's concerns.

93 comments:

James D said...

Interesting. I do wonder whether a small Transbay station (say, four tracks), with a yard beyond (if necessary, in Oakland) would be the best way of squaring the circle.

Andy Chow said...

Kopp needs to remember that building to TBT box now would save money for HSRA. The cost to build the box after the terminal is constructed is higher, and that the project would be eligible to receive stimulus funding.

I don't see prioritizing this project is setting any bad precedence, since very few elements of the HSR program has gone through as much vetting as this does. TBT project has been environmentally cleared, and has gone through value engineering.

DaveO said...

Did you get any sense as to whether your Mission Street proposal was going to get any official evaluation?

How about the concept that, by the time 12tph is necessary, funding might materialize for the new tube so TBT is just a stop on the way to Oakland and then on to Sacramento.

lyqwyd said...

I can understand some of Kopps position, most importantly I think he is pushing the TBT because they are making decisions that could impact the entire HSR network. Things they are doing at the TJPA like the tunnel curvature ruling out certain trainsets and having different platform heights for Caltrain than HSR trains are putting constraints on operational flexibilty and engineering options.

I think this is as bad as what some in the peninsula are trying to do... putting local needs over the needs of the entire system.

San Francisco has no more right the Palo Alto or Menlo Park to put constraints on the system, especially at such an early stage.

I think it's very smart for Kopp to raise these issues early on. I actually think what's going on at the TBT could be a more dire problem than what's going in the peninsula.

On the other hand, I think it's a flawed approach to assume that trains need to sit at the platform for an hour, or even half an hour, to be re-provisioned, cleaned, etc. There are much better options, such as provisioning at 4th and King, Gilroy, or Merced and just having the trains at the TBT just long enough to empty out the passengers and board the next set, with perhaps a quick loading of basic supplies. If dwell time can be reduced to 5-15 minutes 3 platforms can easily handle 12 trains per hour, plus Caltrain.

David said...

"This is problematic for Kopp because of the possibility of precedent-setting. As he explained it to me, if SF gets a $2.8 billion tunnel and train station, then many other stations and cities along the route will point to that and demand that similar amounts of money be spent on their own preferred station designs and grade separation solutions"

I understand this is a concern, but realistically its going to be expensive. You're bringing a train into the heart of one of the densest cities in nation (behind only NYC?), in a location that currently has minimal rail infrastructure.

This argument might not play out well in the public ("SF gets a cathedral and all we get is a platform?") but those who will be involved in the final decisions will ultimately need to realize the differences in needs.

Yes its expensive. This is why we call such term such projects investments.

lyqwyd said...

Oh, one more thing, kudos to Judge Kopp for taking the time to contact you, that shows a level of openness and willingness to listen to, and communicate with, the community that is rarely seen from people in his position.

Rob Dawg said...

"Kopp does have financial concerns about the project."

Look, we all know that if anyone says "$60b" the jig is up. Give Quentin some credit for being one of the very very few that understand the importance and consequences of fiscal issues.

robert, I just wish you'd give others who question aspects of the current plan as much or even half the respect you've shown the Judge.

Rafael said...

Figures, it's a question of who gets access to the $9.5 billion in federal HSR money. Classic power struggle.

In terms of engineering, it's ridiculous to say CHSRA will need another six months. The situation is pretty cut and dried:

a) the TBT will never need to support 12tph for HSR alone because any sane operator will terminate some trains in San Jose long before hitting that limit. Perhaps a spur from San Jose to Oakland will be built in the I-880 median instead. We'll see. The ridership projections should not be interpreted to literally mean that everybody coming up from SoCal and the CV wants to go to SF specifically. At best, the spcificity is that they want to go to the Bay Area.

b) the TBT does have to support a five-minute headway between any two consecutive HSR trains because that's what AB3034 says. Such short headways will be unusual but may end up on the timetable because of different service classes. They may also be needed on occasion to recover from off-design conditions such as unplanned delays.

Since Caltrain hopes to run 10tph @ 8 bi-level EMU cars each during rush hour by 2025, it's prudent to insist that the TBT throat and DTX tunnel should permit trains to pass through such that they do not block traffic for more than 2 minutes.

The present design features a tightly curved (~500ft radius) throat that only some HSR train designs will be able to negotiate and then only very slowly and with a lot of screeching. Given that HSR trains will be up to 1/4 mile long and that the throat design does not feature curved points, there is no way long HSR trains will pass through it quickly enough.

c) the throughput issue can be resolved in multiple ways:

Map 1 - switch to a two-track tunnel under Townsend and 3rd, with two curves with at least 925ft radius. Avoid MOMA and fan out between Natoma and Minna to six full-length straight platform tracks. The extra space gained by switching to 3rd plus the more generous curves allow trains to run through the throat at higher speeds.

Map 2 - switch to a single-track loop track. The inbound portion would run under Embarcadero and Spear to enter the train box from the east. The outbound portion would run under Natoma, 3rd and Townsend (cp. Map 1, but single-track). All six full-length straight platform tracks are run-through east to west.

Map 3 - forget about running trains into the basement of the TBT, build two-level station with 8 full-length straight platforms underneath Mission Street instead. Connect concourse level to TBT, Embarcadero BART, Montgomery BART via underground pedestrian passages featuring moving walkways. TBT building contains lounges, ticket counters, customer service, police station etc. but no full concourse level nor a train box.


@ James D -

going to Oakland would require a second transbay tube + tunnels costing billions. There's no room for a yard in downtown Oakland, the ones near the harbor are needed for freight.

@ Andy Chow -

saving $100 million now to implement an inadequate engineering solution isn't worth it. TBT is not part of the HSR project. It's SF's own private Idaho that Mayor Newsom and others are now trying to corral CHSRA into. It may have gone through some value engineering, but evidently not the train box plus tunnel part.

Rafael said...

@ David -

not all investments are created equal. Bringing HSR trains to a bus terminal is a tour de force that should never have been attempted. Rail is pretty inflexible, buses can go just about anywhere. So can real estate developers.

How much less do you think it would have cost to plan a transportation hub at 7th and Market back when that would still have been an option?

Rafael said...

@ robert cruickshank -

just added QK's official pic so readers can put a face to the name. Hope you don't mind.

jim said...

"This argument might not play out well in the public ("SF gets a cathedral and all we get is a platform?") but those who will be involved in the final decisions will ultimately need to realize the differences in needs"

Keep in mind that the "cathedral" isn't being built with hsr money - its a project for SF being built by SF with development money... any HSr money that goes "towards" TBT is to meet the addtional demands of HSR. TBT has been planned for along time as a new bus terminal and downtown caltrain extension. There is room for HSr but if they want more room then they'll need to pay for the difference.

Andy Chow said...

The TBT project always have planned with HSR criteria in mind: http://www.transbaycenter.org/TransBay/uploadedFiles/Board_Meetings/Agendas/2008/EDRpt_DTX-Update.pdf

What I am disappointed is that some people here like to throw things like "curvature", "throat" and other issues between engineers (and people who pretend to be one). That's the least of the problems if both agencies order their staff to work together. The TBT program is more vetted than any of the HSR programs, in which you can expect they will be fully vetted and value-engineered in the years to come.

His past records doesn't make Kopp look honest. It seems like he's trying to throw any possible objection together so that TBT would lose out on stimulus funding.

jim said...

TBT has a timeline and they are on schedule. Whatever HSR is going to do they'd beter get it together because they can't hold up the City's project.

Anonymous said...

I have an idea for a compromise: how about we just agree to name the thing "San Francisco Quentin Kopp Transbay Terminal"?

Rafael said...

@ Jim, Andy Chow -

a timeline to a decidedly suboptimal result is not worth sticking to rigorously. That's as true for the TBT as it is for the HSR project as a whole. There's no point in cutting corners - literally, in this case - because several future generations will have to live with the outcome.

So far, TJPA has not given any indication that they are willing to revisit the DTX tunnel design to address throughput issues.

For its part, CHSRA has given no indication that it is willing to revisit assumptions regarding ridership forecasts and operations at the downtown SF station.

These transportation economics and engineering issues can be ironed out without grossly inflating the final cost. The problem here is that each side is trying to be top dog instead of accepting the other as an equal partner.

If I were Ray LaHood, I'd be much more concerned about the apparently antagonistic nature of the relationship between these planning bodies than about the engineering details.

As long as outsized egos are clashing, injecting federal money into this one aspect of the California would just make matters worse right now. If that means the state gets a smaller slice of the HR 110.2095 + HR 111.1 funds than it otherwise might have, so be it. In all likelihood, there will be additional allocations of federal money now that HSR has been elevated to the status of a transportation legacy that Obama wants to leave behind.

Fwiw, Andy, I happen to be a mechanical engineer. BruceMcF is a transportation economist. Clem over on the Caltrain-HSR compatibility blog is an aerospace engineer with a longtime interest in high speed rail. I don't know Richard Mlynarik's background, but he sure seems to know his stuff.

BruceMcF said...

Rafeal: "c) the throughput issue can be resolved in multiple ways:" ...

... and, it would seem, with Richard Mlynarik's proposal ... if trains can pass the 2x2 crossover leading toward the TBT station throat at 45mph, there is at the very least less reason to be concerned regarding headways.

Andy Chow said... "What I am disappointed is that some people here like to throw things like "curvature", "throat" and other issues between engineers (and people who pretend to be one). That's the least of the problems if both agencies order their staff to work together. The TBT program is more vetted than any of the HSR programs ..."

However, that order for the staff to work together has not yet been made. The argument that the TBT project is "well vetted" does not convey a lot of weight unless it is public what criteria it has been vetted for.

For instance, its clear that they were not vetted for no-gap HSR platforms, given arguments in the powerpoint slide in the TJPA staff presentation to the TJPA regarding coping with platform gaps.

If they vetted the ability of their design to offer 7 minute headways to HSR, on assumptions regarding average peak service levels requiring support, that would have been undone by AB3034, where the requirement is 5 minute headways.

If they press ahead with a train box shell that is incompatible with the least cost approach to meeting AB3034 ... they could well do, AB3034 is unlikely to be binding on the no-match Federal stimulus funding ...

... the CHSRA might be within its rights telling the TJPA to find a source of money independent of the Prop1A bond authority to fund work past 4th & King / 4th and Townsend.

And given the municipal obligation on the TBT to support HSR, the CA-HSR system might even be in a position to have its cake and eat it to, treating the works past the "effective 5 minute headways" zone as beyond what it is allowed to fund with its main $9b for HSR and whatever Federal matching funds can be scraped up to match that ... while the 1999 SF Proposition H is used to argue that what access can be made available to "run HSR beyond the boundary of the HSR network into the TBT" must still be made available.

BruceMcF said...

Andy Chow said... "What I am disappointed is that some people here like to throw things like "curvature", "throat" and other issues between engineers (and people who pretend to be one)."

I am certainly no engineer, rail or otherwise ... indeed, as I say in the last blog on my series on the TBT:
QUOTE
Now, I'm not a rail engineer, so I cannot say for sure that they cannot show 5 minute headways ... but they sure as hell have made their job hard by putting together such a poor design for their train box.
UNQUOTE

And, yes, I very much wish that there was open third party peer review in place, based on published criteria, so that I could just take that as given and work from there.

I guess city politics argues for a different approach, and that forces a lot of extra work on someone from outside trying to get a clear idea how the infrastructure will limit the effort to gain maximum economic value from the operations.

BruceMcF said...

Man, oh, man, how I wish I could have been a fly on the wall in this meeting ... to have the specifics of why ...

"Two months ago engineers from the Transbay Joint Powers Agency, the Peninsula Corridor Joint Powers Board (Caltrain) and the CHSRA met to discuss the Transbay project. It was there that the engineers, without dissension, agreed that the existing design was inadequate to accommodate the 12 trains per hour that CHSRA requested."

Was this platform capacity, taking for granted the dwell time CHSRA has requested? Is this headways? Is this the bottlenecks in the operating cycle (that is, could it offer 5 minute headways but not sustain them for a full hour?).

Rafael said...

@ BruceMcF -

just to clarify: TJPA isn't asking for a slice of prop 1A funds. It's the federal HSR money they're going after.

resident said...

"tbt is not part of the HSR project" Excluse me, but they MADE it part of the HSR project when they put it specfically in Measure 1A!

""This is problematic for Kopp because of the possibility of precedent-setting." In other words, if they have to pay the going rate to do the right thing in SF then god forbid (gasp) they will have to pay to do the right thing for the rest of the cities along the route THEY CHOSE.

Perhaps they should have chosen a route with less expensive issues to mitigate.

But thanks for confirming what we've suspected all along about the underhandedness of the authority/politicians who are driving this project, wanting to get HSR rammed through on the cheap without regard to the needs of the communities - They want what they want, and they want it now, for cheap.

NONIMBYS said...

But resident..no one is whinning about HAVING HSR...We are trying to debate a station location. unlike nimmbys that moved next to 120year old railroad tracks and now DEMANED that they and only they will decide what will happen.

Brian Tyler said...

I feel that Quentin Kopp is correct on this issue and that the article written here portrays this well. The CHSRA worked hard to avoid complex projects that could cause delays and cost overruns. However, I also believe that a solution will reveal itself before capacity is reached. Please read about it on the new Switching Modes site.

Andy Chow said...

I do not believe in the intent of AB3034 is to provide a technical excuse not to fund the TBT project. HSRA would not be negotiating in good faith if that's what they believe.

In fact it is not all that unusual that not every aspect of a transportation project is implemented, mostly because some aspects are too expensive and the agency don't have the money to justify it.

I don't think HSRA deserves any excuse for keep delaying the project. There may be issues to resolve and room to negotiate, but that's not what appears they doing.

lyqwyd said...

I think Kopp and the HSRA are pointing out some of the inherent flaws in the existing TBT planning in order to ensure that he does not get saddled with an implementation at the TBT that constrains his options in completing the HSR, or requires a more expensive implementation than is necessary.

It's certainly possible that a saving of $100m in the TBT that results in a sub-optimal design could cost the HSRA $1billion or more to correct on their end.

Now I'm not saying that Kopp has a stellar history on implementation... the Peninsula BART extension was way over-engineered and is under-performing... But in this situation I think his interests are in line with the interests of the entire population of CA as well as that of SF.

My perception of the SF politicians is that they are trying to ram the project through, even though it's not properly designed, in order to grab a chunk of the stimulus money.

BruceMcF said...

Andy Chow said...
"I do not believe in the intent of AB3034 is to provide a technical excuse not to fund the TBT project. "

Nobody said that it was ... if the TJPA design is not in compliance with AB3034, and the TJPA elects to pursue the Stimulus funding to build the shell now, and in the process does not fix their design to come into compliance with AB3034, that is a series of decisions on the part of the TJPA. If under AB3034, that opens the door to the CHSRA cutting back on the funding they provide toward the DTX, it would be the TJPA opening the door.

The intent of AB3034 certainly does include preventing the CHSRA from dealing away specific operational characteristics of the system for political expediency.

And that is a protection that is quite obviously required in something like this, when the inter-modal connections for the train are tacked on as an afterthought in the design, even though the municipal 1999 Proposition H in support of the TBT project explicitly indicates that it is intended to receive both Caltrain and HSR services.

Brandon in San Diego said...

For better or worse, San Francisco is wedded to having HSR serve the Transbay Terminal; it has been hitched to the project for many years and is marked by many milestones.

Among them include...
... long-sought efforts to rejuvenate the center and revitalize the area.
... a 1999 or 2000 voter approved local initiative to extend Caltrain to the TBT, and thus HSR when it later surfaced.
... the promise of up to $500 million (approximately) in HSR bond funding to provide financial assistance for the TBT tower.
... spending over $750k in engineering efforts to seek a work-around for a high rise that was in the way (80 Natoma St.)
... condemning that high-rise because was in the way (80 Natoma St.).
... doing a 2nd EIR of the TBT because the first was flawed.
... and probably a campaign promise or two.

For better or worse, San Francisco and the TBT are intent on getting married to HSR.

That said, I scanned past news articles for 80 Natoma St. I knew they were available because I recall reading about it several times. Select ones I am providing links for include....

... the city and TBT stopped a tower under construction (pile driving at the time) because it was in the planned right-of-way of the so-called 'throat'. See this SF Gate article for more.

And this TBT Chairperson editorial identifying the problem, attempted resolution, and argument to purchase 80 Natoma in the best interest of the public.

And finally raising flags about the TBT design compatibility with HSR and how the TJPA engineers are not being cooperative with others.

After re-reading these again, it is no wonder that my opinion has always been behind the CHSRA rather than the TJPA. And with the refresher I am left thinking that the TBT is not equipped to come up with a workable solution.

Indeed, I do fully want HSR to serve the TBT; it's logically needed to provide the best service for the SF region and for statewide travel. However, without a workable design and a TJPA agency ill-equipped to do the job, I am thinking HSR should stop at 4th & King and a solution for the TBT be found later when better pieces are in place.

It additionally strikes me that the TJPA is influenced by the prospect of using HSR bond funding for the TBT project; cited as far back as 2004 were $475 million! Does that funding make or break the TBT project? If TJPA moves forward with their project without the commitment.... and that commitment fails to come forward... does the project grind to a halt?

Kopp is right about setting a precedent. That should be avoided with due attention. In order to avoid that it seems SF and the TJPA should seek other funding sources... and I would not be surprised if they sought Federal stimulus or HSR funding. I'd support that.

----

With that said... and I know many thousands of engineering hours have gone into the TBT and rail throat design... I support the concept design of Rafael's Map #3; up 7th Street and make a right turn at Mimma or Natoma Street.

I am sure others have considered and vetted it elsewhere and without a response, we're left to speculate 'why not.' I'd guess it has something to do with the SF Convention Center and the Museum of Modern Art and depth of tracks and possible vibrations. *shrug*

Andrew said...

@Rafael:

"How much less do you think it would have cost to plan a transportation hub at 7th and Market back when that would still have been an option?"

Since the east corner of 8th and Market is being redeveloped into condos, it would seem that a bargain could be struck with the developer for an underground station there, over which they would get at least most of the air rights.

We probably shouldn't waste time entertaining that notion, though. If TBT it's going to be, they'd better address those DTX tunnel issues.

Anonymous said...

Wouldn't Map2 work better to be clockwise to leave the option of a tunnel to Oakland? Is there an advantage to the drawn direction?

jim said...

I still fail to see the problem with having some trains term at 4th and some at tbt. What's the problem with that? By the time 2030 to 2045 rolls around when the demand is really needed a new bay crossing will probably be in the works anyway. As for 4th vs tbt and access - the bay area airports have terrible public access yet it doesn't stop anyone from getting to them. There's that ridiculous shuttle bus from bart to OAK and at SFO you have to drag your bags up and down the escalators to get to the airtrain from the bart station or take a shuttle bus from remote parking place. Even the parking garages are a 20 minute schlepp from you car to your gate. But all of a sudden walking a few block to 4th or a transfer to 4th is the end of the world. Call me jaded but public transit is what it is - its not a chauffeured limo. I just don't see the problem with using both locations to meet the total.

lyqwyd said...

@jim

you are totally right... there's nothing wrong with stopping some of the trains at 4th st... especially when mission Bay is further built up with lots of bio-tech firms... plus taxi access will probably be easier there... plus the central subway will be done making access to Union Square and the surrounding hotels easier than from the TBT.

jim said...

That way we we too types of stations in SF serving two different neighborhoods and multiple types of travelers. Its a superior result

Andy Chow said...

The TBT project has been well developed even before AB3034 was passed, so I disgree with the notion that the legislature want this project put back to the drawing board.

I believe it is reasonable for the project to go forward even if the station can't handle 12 trains an hour. The majority of the passengers cannot be denied of the convenience because a few trains that HSRA may never be able to operate. The Central Subway won't have the ability to be a major feeder if HSRA wants to run 12 trains an hour to 4th & King.

Rafael said...

@ anon @ 11:03pm =

trains in the US run on the right hand side, therefore a counter-clockwise loop interferes least with operations at 4th & King. As for the extension to Oakland, a loop track complicates that in one or the other direction. As drawn, trains leaving Oakland would pass through the TBT whereas trains going there would not (vice versa for a clockwise tunnel).

@ jim, lyqwyd, Andy Chow -

considering the high cost, it doesn't make sense for the DTX tunnel to be implemented poorly. That's really the only part of this that needs to be fixed, though IMHO Caltrain should also be required to use level boarding at the TBT to improve flexibility.

Note that the tunnel was designed mostly with Caltrain in mind, as HSR was no more than a possibility until last November. Unfortunately, HSR trains have longer wheelbase trucks and lower acceleration than local commuter trains, plus they're usually longer. That is why a so-so design has now become inadequate.

Terminating some HSR trains at 4th & King is possible but only makes sense if there are events at either the ball park or at Moscone that draw large crowds from around the state or, if there is adequate connecting transportation. There's plenty of parking/rental car operations in China Basin and room for more.

Post-electrification, the space above the platforms at 4th & King could be made accessible to motor vehicles (incl. SF city buses, taxis) with modified off- and on-ramps for I-280.

Alternatively, a ramp up parallel to the tracks might be possible from 6th/Townsend and, a ramp down between the light rail tail tracks and King Street on-ramp to I-280, connecting to Berry Street north of the Mission Creek outfall or else, 6th/Channel Street south of it. You would have to know your way around SF streets to use these ramps, though.

Either way, 4th & King would remain tricky to reach for passengers hailing from the East Bay. I suspect any HSR trains terminating there would be used primarily by passengers destined for or hailing from the western parts of SF county that are underserved by public transportation. San Mateo county residents may prefer to board semi-express trains at Millbrae.

BruceMcF said...

Rafael: "Either way, 4th & King would remain tricky to reach for passengers hailing from the East Bay."

There is always the option of a Aerobus-type system of LRV suspended from track laid on suspension cable, which could hitch a rid on the SF / Oakland Bay bridge ... in the East Bay Blues I pointed out that a route Macarthur BART / Emeryville Amtrak / TBT / 4th and King would improve the convenience of multiple multi-modal connections in an area with as much route fragmentation as the Bay. It would of course not have the capacity per run of mass transit, but could be run at fairly high frequency.

If the DTX can support 6 minute HSR headways, which is to say 3 minute headways, and if it can be argued that alternate HSR trains could, if need be, use 4th and King, so that the "system" has "effective" 5 minute HSR headways or better, then that is platform and tunnel throughput capacity for 8tph in the TBT.

I'd argue that that is enough for the core service schedule on the built out system ... it depends in part on the complexity of the service schedule.

The additional capacity at 4th and King would then be auxiliary HSR and Rapid Rail capacity, and past a peak of 8 HSR tph into the TBT, growth in capacity would consist of the share of longer and bi-level trains increasing at the expense of shorter and single level trains.

arcady said...

Caltrain should also be required to use level boardingOnce again. Under the current plan, both HSR and Caltrain will have level boarding. It's just that they seem to have planned for trains with different floor heights.

Rafael said...

@ BruceMcF -

I appreciate your tenacity on the Aerobus idea, but there are several issues to consider that you may not be aware of here:

a) the new East span of the Bay Bridge cannot support the weight of even light rail transit. Engineers had initially pencilled it in as an option but were instructed to eliminate this option after cost estimates for additional rail tracks cantilevered on either side of the lower deck of the west span came in at $3 billion.

b) an Aerobus would require an expensive tunnel through Yerba Buena island

c) the western approach to the Bay Bridge is currently being remodeled to meet seismic safety requirements. An aerobus would have to somehow run through those supports and the anchorages of the west span, which is a suspension bridge.

d) the east span terminates in a toll plaza at grade, any aerobus would have to veer out from under the East span over the water.

There are probably other reasons, but for these alone the concept of a light rail vehicles hanging from a monorail unfortunately isn't viable for the Bay Bridge.

Sadly, it isn't viable for the Golden Gate, either, because afaik that bridge isn't strong enough to take the extra weight unless some road traffic lanes are sacrificed. BART engineers had chosen broad gauge to maintain stability in occasional high winds on the bridge, but the asphalt lobby won out and Marin county pulled out of BART in 1962.

Rafael said...

@ arcady -

same difference: the two services still cannot use each others' platforms.

arcady said...

Rafael: not quite the same difference. If one system didn't use level boarding, you could claim that they're being stupid for not using level boarding. But here, both want to use level boarding, just at different levels. Who should be the one to change? It's rather less obvious.

Rafael said...

@ arcady -

there are lots of commuter rail products on the market. There are very few HSR designs capable of 220mph. Guess whose boarding height ought to take precedence.

BruceMcF said...

Andy Chow said... "The TBT project has been well developed even before AB3034 was passed, so I disgree with the notion that the legislature want this project put back to the drawing board."

The length of time they have been sitting on a design isn't the test of whether the design is "well developed".

The reason for the rush to lock into the existing train-box design and DTX layout is that they saw an opportunity for a funding source where they expected to be building the TBT building and then building the train-box later ... so the deadline to finalize the train-box shell has been moved forward.

IOW, yes, they have had a local mandate to take HSR into account in the design process since 1999, but there is no clear evidence that they have given that mandate any serious weight until the opportunity arose to use the status as an HSR terminal to get funding for the unfunded rail side of the intermodal design.

The legislature did intend AB3034 to to ensure that the $9b in state bond funding went toward a design that met certain basic conditions. If the design of the TBT train box design was not raised as a specific example of the kind of design that the CA-HSR needed to be protected from, that can as easily be evidence of the TJPA capacity at political spin and marketing as evidence regarding the design.

If over three million of Federal HSR money are going to be taken from other state systems to go into the TBT train-box, I want to see a design that the engineers can agree can meet the design criteria for being part of the CA-HSR system.

By the account in this post, the case is more likely the opposite ... the engineers from all three stakeholders may well have agreed that the design can not meet the design criteria for being part of the CA-HSR system.

Fred Martin said...

Kopp destroyed any claim he had to being a "fiscal conservative" with his interference with the BART-SFO project. Taxpayers should send him the bill for hundreds of millions of dollars in cost increases he demanded with his political grandstanding. Love that abandoned Millbrae-SFO BART connection, Quentin! How much did just that aerial track section cost?? $150-200 million? Talk about waste!

Kopp knows very little about the details of transportation, but he loves a good political quarrel, alas with the taxpayers picking up the tab for his errors and delays.

Andy Chow said...

There's a difference between pro-HSR and being an uncritical HSRA surrogate. Again these technical issues are being used as an excuse not to cooperate.

All the projects are mostly designed by the same consulting firms. The TJPA project has gone through more analysis than HSRA, but somehow perceptions regarding the technical inconsistencies are used as an excuse to pull the plug off that project and spend the time coming up with various fantasy alternative scenarios that won't work.

As advocates myself, I would like to see efforts to get the board and the staff to work together, so that whatever technical problems can get resolved.

arcady said...

Rafael: there's the AGV, Velaro, and Talgo 350, the latter of which has a different floor height from the other two. So what exactly is the standard floor height that we should pick?

lyqwyd said...

the TBT design may have been around for a long time, but that only proves that it was designed before there were any requirements for HSR. Now that we know that HSR is required to support 5 minute headways the TBT must accommodate that, or HSR need not go there. At least in my opinion.

Now exactly what 5 minute headway means is up to debate, but I would say that it is now the obligation of the TJPA to show that can meet at least the very minimum interpretation of that, which they have not yet done.

Also, the curvature of the DTX was designed for Caltrain but now that HSR is to be incorporated I believe the DTX should be re-evaluated to ensure that the greatest flexibility is provided in HSR trainset selection.

It is orders of magnitude easier and cheaper to fix the design now than it will be to fix it after it's built, or even after federal money is committed. Look at what's happening with Central Subway, they can't even officially talk about the idea of extending it past Chinatown into North Beach.

We need to get the best design now while there is still the flexibility to make changes.

BruceMcF said...

Andy Chow said... "There's a difference between pro-HSR and being an uncritical HSRA surrogate."

An apologist for the TJPA will frame it one way, an apologist for the CHSRA will frame it another way. What is clear is that a design which can offer 5 minute HSR headways does not leave open the same legitimate basis for objecting to the TJPA application for Federal Stimulus funds.

Certainly whether I favor or oppose granting the funding request depends not on whether the CHSRA agrees to it, but on whether a clear case is made that it is a legitimate HSR funding request.

Applications are going to go in for more than the funding authorized, but presuming a sound design, there would be a strong case for the TBT train box shell to receive full funding. However, if it is a flawed design that will either fail to meet criteria or require expensive rework to meet the criteria, then there is at least a case to be made for putting it toward the back of the queue.

Andy Chow said...

Your post exactly demonstrated my point: Somehow that HSRA is right and TJPA is wrong, even though HSRA requirement can be as arbitrary and flawed, and even though it is not the intention by the state legislature to use technical requirements as an excuse to kill TBT.

I am not interested in who's right or wrong. I am interested to get TJPA and HSRA on the same page. I am not saying that there may be technical incompatibilities, but these things can't and won't get resolved until they are both on the same page, and that we don't have, or need 6 months as Kopp suggested to figure those out.

lyqwyd said...

@Andy

It's not a matter of who is right or wrong. The TJPA wants some HSR money for the TBT trainbox. In that case they need to make a design for the trainbox and DTX that can support the HSR per the legal requirements, as well as the choice of trainset, which is far from decided. The current design for the trainbox and tunnel can very legitemately be argued to be currently insufficiently designed to meet those requirements.

If the TJPA decides they do not need to accommodate HSR then they can design the trainbox and tunnel for Caltrain's requirements, but then they have no claim to HSR funding (or at least a much weaker claim).

As I said before, TBT & DTX can much more easily and cheaply be improved to accommodate HSR now than later.

Andy Chow said...

TBT is also a requirement too. So the issue is mostly in the arena of what's reasonable and what's not.

I don't believe that all the issues have to be settle at once, but let's consider the requirement of 12 trains/hour and 40 minute dwell time, which would trigger a 3rd train level and increase the cost by a $1 billion.

So far I haven't seen HSRA coming with reasonable justification for 12 trains/hour and 40 minute dwell time. TJPA however suggested it can handle the expected ridership without 12 trains/hour.

The two-station solution is a reasonable compromise for the benefit of a large majority of riders. If we can't even agree on that reasonable compromise, how can you expect the other issues to be resolved?

If Kopp thinks even this compromise is bad, are we sure that he negotiating with TJPA in good faith?

Robert Cruickshank said...

I would point out, Andy Chow, that Kopp did not rule out the two-station compromise. Merely that he hasn't yet agreed to it, and claims he is waiting to hear from the engineers.

jim said...

@Rafael "Note that the tunnel was designed mostly with Caltrain in mind, as HSR was no more than a possibility until last November. Unfortunately, HSR trains have longer wheelbase trucks and lower acceleration than local commuter trains, plus they're usually longer. That is why a so-so design has now become inadequate"

True but the qestion then is who will pay for the addtional costs? Cleary CAHSR needs to pay for and not the San Francisco Taxpayers.

jim said...

"Terminating some HSR trains at 4th & King is possible but only makes sense if there are events at either the ball park or at Moscone that draw large crowds from around the state or, if there is adequate connecting transportation. There's plenty of parking/rental car operations in China Basin and room for more" This just isn't a problem. Getting form the eastbay to 4th is no more diffficult than getting from the eastbay to tbt. and for san franciscans, getting to 4th is easier than getting to tbt because it will be served directly by the metro - from the avenues and the new ccentral subway. In addtion to that.... the majority of people from the eastbay are going to DRIVE here. That's just the way it is and there is NO parking in the tbt nieghborhood area. whereas there is pletny of room to add garage space at 4th. The tourist crowd will have a better direct connection from union sqaure and wharf area hotels to HSR via the central subway as well. Trust me I have lived here for 30 years and worked in the industry and I know that 4th is a better choice for far more people than you folks realize. It really is. I understand the obsession with getting everyone to 1st and mission but it is misguided.

BruceMcF said...

Andy Chow said... "I don't believe that all the issues have to be settle at once, but let's consider the requirement of 12 trains/hour and 40 minute dwell time, which would trigger a 3rd train level and increase the cost by a $1 billion."

Why start there? More fundamental is the question of 5 minute headways. If there are four trains per hour, the DTX and TBT train station have to allow them to come in over twenty minutes, or else its outside the design envelope for the HSR system.

I think of the demand for 12 trains per hour as an ambit claim, but 5 minute headways for HSR when the traffic is pooled is just the extension of the 5 minute headways on the system as a whole.

Entirely independent of someone's view of the 12 tph argument ... I've already said I think 8tph is likely adequate ... when the TBT was designated as a combined HSR and Caltrain terminal in 1999, 5 minute headways for the HSR services are something that should have been part of the original design specification.

That it does not seem to have been indicates that they were only doing a pro-forma ticking of that box when the design was done, quite possibly not necessarily expecting that the project would be funded in this decade at the state level, and definitely not expecting $8b total no-match funds available for projects that can be labeled as shovel ready HSR projects.

jim said...

Here are some good shots of the mission bay area and caltrain - current and future development. With mision bay, and the third street corridor development, and the plannin commish' eastern soma plan which calls for midrise residential along the 4th street corridor, you can see that 4th is actually a very useful location for everyone - except the suit and tie crowd. http://forum.skyscraperpage.com/showthread.php?t=128118

BruceMcF said...

jim said...
"True but the qestion then is who will pay for the addtional costs? Cleary CAHSR needs to pay for and not the San Francisco Taxpayers."

Meeting the needs of an HSR through the DTX tunnel is not "extra cost" ... SF voters voted in 1999 for the TBT as the HSR station, so if after that point a tunnel was designed that is inadequate for that purpose, its not CHSRA's fault that they are the stakeholder that has to point out a problem that had previously been pointed out by critics of the design.

I do not know for certain that Richard Mlynarik can meet that requirement, but it clearly can do so better than the TBT tunnel can, since it has a wider minimum turn radius and fewer bottlenecks in its layout. And since it is a two track tunnel, there is no reason to expect it to be more expensive ... its quite possibly cheaper than the TJPA three track design.

jim said...

Supes Give Eastern Nabes the Green Light
It's been on the table for years and years, but yesterday the Board of Supervisors finally approved the Eastern Neighborhoods Plan, rezoning 2,200 acres of the city for housing and mixed use. This rezoning of parts of the Mission, lower Potrero, SoMa and Dogpatch is, according to Aaron Peskin, "the largest rezoning of San Francisco that's happened in generations," and it will provide the potential for the housing the city so desperately needs (up to 10,000 units)

jim said...

SoMa Owns the Subway
Rise above the hallowed (and hollow) ground of the city's subway tunnels, 4th Street may become the next San Francisco corridor to bathe in the shadows of high-rise buildings. Anticipating both the Eastern Neighborhoods Plan and the Central Subway, the mayor's Office of Economic and Workforce Development has requested that the planning department change zoning restrictions on 4th street between Folsom and Townsend to eventually allow the construction of more glass giants. Current zoning rules and regulations limit 4th Street building heights to 65 feet— in the future allowable building heights may reach up to 800 feet

jim said...

The eastern soma / eastern neighborhoods plan will make the area adjacent to caltrain home and work to more people than the financial district.

jim said...

So again that is why i say that a simple compromise of using tbt for some but not all trains is perfectly acceptable and in fact makes more sense as 4th is really more convenient to more people.

jim said...

@bruce "Meeting the needs of an HSR through the DTX tunnel is not "extra cost" ... SF voters voted in 1999 for the TBT as the HSR station, so if after that point a tunnel was designed that is inadequate for that purpose,"

It is not inadequate - thats my point. It is designed for HSR. If it doesnt meet the needs for the inflated number of trains per hour - which cahsr came up with after the the tbt was designed. too bad. tbt will take some hsr trains and meet the needs of san franciscans just fine. If hsr needs to bring additional trains into town they are welcome to figure out how they want to do it.

Anonymous said...

Just a note:

if you do a two station solution, you need to lose a station somewhere else. There is a strict limit on the number of total stations.

lyqwyd said...

@Anon

4th & king is already a designated station, it's just a question of weather some trains will turn back there, or if all will go to the TBT as the final station.

Anonymous said...

lyq -

Says who?

Andy Chow said...

The two station solution is contingent on HSRA running trains beyond the capacity of TBT. I don't think it would require a station to be eliminated elsewhere, and that these trains would turn back there instead of TBT, and trains to TBT won't stop there.

If TBT can handle 8 trains per hour, then HSRA can run up to 144 trains to and from TBT between 6am to midnight. That's more service than what BART provides to SFO.

jim said...

and if im coming back from fresno or LA on hsr, as a san franciscan 9civic center0 im more likley to get off at 4th and grab the metro to civic center( or any other neighborhood except the richmond) because the metro serve all the neighboods directly with the exception of the richmond which is served by the number 38 from tbt.

jim said...

add some simulations of the on board experience too. and the station service areas and first class lounges.

BruceMcF said...

jim said...
"It is not inadequate - thats my point. It is designed for HSR."

So you have firm information that the complex consisting of 4th and Townsend, the DTX tunnel and the TBT train box can handle 5 minute headways for the HSR traffic. Please share the information.

Or else, don't claim that it does.

"If it doesnt meet the needs for the inflated number of trains per hour - which cahsr came up with after the the tbt was designed, too bad."

I understand why the TJPA wishes to frame it in terms of 12 trains per hour ... though I have no understanding why Quentin Kopp played into that framing ... but it is a non-issue.

Provided that the complex as designed can offer 5 minute headways to HSR traffic, alongside Caltrain traffic, then there is no problem handling 12 trains per hour.

That is, as long as the train station is operated as a through terminal rather than as a route terminus, four platforms are not a constraint on 12tph. In that case, the binding constraint on throughput is the headways.

Why don't they just come out and say, "AB3034, passed in November 2008 as Proposition 1A, dictates that the entire HSR system offers 5 minute headways, and we comply with that."

In terms of making an argument with the Department of Transport, they would have ample precedent of European HSR systems operating in surplus that use busy stub terminal platforms as through terminals and terminate their services elsewhere.

OTOH, if they cannot provide an operating plan that can meet 5 minute headways, the requirement is in AB3034 in black and white, and nowhere in the Proposition passed by California voters does it say, "unless it is inconvenient for some local group in power in some California city."

Andy Chow said...

You are changing the subject again. Now it is the how close the trains run together, and now you are assuming that the TBT plan that not meeting your revised legal interpretation.

Does that mean that a single platform level is sufficient?

I don't think TJPA has to have a firm and complete plan now. The design process can continue to take place while other portions are being built. It is not all that unusual. The HSR plan may have a number of assumptions, but whether every and all assumptions go forward would depend on cost-effectiveness and value engineering.

jim said...

What San Franciscans were told pertaining to the transbay terminal project was- we ould get rid of the old tbt, build a new tbt funded by selling development rights, that the new tbt would include, a bus level, the long awaited caltrain extension, and eventually high speed rail. Thats how it was presented. Then there was a design competition, the designs were reviewed and the winning design chosen. Where was CA HSr when all this was going on? No one stepped in back in 2007? This is the gist of the ongoing debate in San Francisco when the competition was taking place (2007 chronicle)--- "The competition rules call for a terminal that can welcome AC Transit commuter buses from the East Bay, along with other bus lines and, in the future, train service from the Peninsula. They also specify that any tower should be "an iconic presence." The goal is for both buildings to open in 2014, which in development years isn't nearly as far off as it sounds." SO, that is what we are expecting as the number one priority.

jim said...

HSR is not going to come into SF and dictate what we do as it pertains to local projects that have already been vetted by the people of san francisco. At this point they can just put their train in Oakland for that matter

Rafael said...

@ Andy Chow -

actually, BruceMcF has consistently argued that the real issue is 5 minute headways for HSR, because that's what AB3034 requires. It relates to the time interval between two HSR trains traveling in the same direction. Note that you could have such tight headways with essentially any number of trains per hour, especially in off-design conditions.

Given that Caltrain will also use the TBT and that both types of trains have to share the DTX tunnel, the throat design actually has to ensure no train will block other traffic for more than 2 minutes - preferably less. The current tunnel design restricts train speeds due to tight curves. In addition, the distance between the first and the last switch that any given train must pass through is needlessly long.

---

The 12tph "requirement" that CHSRA is talking about stems from its ridership analysis, not the law. I completely agree with Bruce and others that it's a silly target and that there is in fact no need for an additional level of platforms at the TBT. Any sane operator would terminate some northbound trains in San Jose or route them up to Oakland - if that is possible by that time - long before running 12tph into the TBT.

So it's not that Bruce is changing his story. It's that CHSRA is advancing the wrong argument.

BruceMcF said...

Andy Chow said...
"You are changing the subject again. Now it is the how close the trains run together, and now you are assuming that the TBT plan that not meeting your revised legal interpretation."

The subject of five minute headways was on the table since Prop 1A replaced Prop 1, and its position on the table was confirmed when Prop 1A passed. That is what is actually stated in AB3034, not "terminal stations will have a capacity for 12 trains per hour".

Kopp tried to parlay the language of AB3034 into 12tph (for what reason I cannot fathom), TJPA counter-attacked in the same frame (for obvious reasons, since that framing gives them lets of advantages) ...

... but as has been covered here and on Caltrain HSR Compatibility Blog, all you have to do is not terminate services at the TBT, and any issue of platform capacity goes away on the HSR side. Unloading and loading passengers at a through service terminal may take longer than at a normal through service platform, but ten minutes is reasonable, add five minutes for headways and five minutes for contingencies and that's 3 trains per hour per platform track.

There's still an issue on the Caltrain side, but unsurprisingly, given with their governance structure and funding situation, Caltrain seems inclined to compromise.

"Does that mean that a single platform level is sufficient?"

Whether there is the platform capacity to operate the TBT as a route terminus may be arguable. But, certainly, if run as a through service terminal station, a single platform level is fine for HSR.

Its throughput that is the issue of concern.

"I don't think TJPA has to have a firm and complete plan now. The design process can continue to take place while other portions are being built."

But they do have to have a train box shell that does not prevent the problems with the design from being fixed. To get the benefits of Richard's design (jpg), three 400m platforms with 200m straight then 200m at 1000m turn radius to avoid gaps, with the access to the platform set far enough back to permit his crossover fan-out in the station throat with 190m minimum turn radius ... you need the shell that goes with that. Having to rework it later throws away the rationale for the TBT train box shell funding getting near the head of the queue for HSR Stimulus funding.

Rafael said...

@ jim -

HSR is not going to come into SF and dictate what we do as it pertains to local projects that have already been vetted by the people of san francisco.HSR is a state project. CHSRA does want to use the downtown terminal, but only if it meets reasonable technical and financial parameters.

Conversely, the city of SF wants HSR trains to run to its shiny downtown station, which by definition means its no longer purely a local project. I don't know if CHSRA did or did not raise any red flags behind the scenes in 2007, but the fact is that it was on a starvation budget and anyhow a paper tiger until November of 2008. Most likely, SF bigwigs ignored anything CHSRA said at the time. Their attitude was and still appears to be that the Authority should be grateful it its trains will be allowed into the TBT at all.

If SF were footing the entire bill for the TBT, there would be some logic in that. But TJPA is now looking to obtain federal HSR stimulus money, bypassing the agency that's supposed to implement the system statewide. In other words, SF is trying to have its cake and eat it, too.

BruceMcF said...

jim said...
"Keep in mind that the "cathedral" isn't being built with hsr money - its a project for SF being built by SF with development money..."

Quite. Of course without rail access it will be a White Elephant in a decade's time, but with people mover walkways from BART it might well be viable without the HSR and Caltrain terminal.

"any HSR money that goes "towards" TBT is to meet the addtional demands of HSR."

Except for the HSR money that goes to building the common infrastructure that Caltrain does not have any funds to pay for, like the shell of the train box that TJPA proposed to apply to be fully funded from no-match Federal Stimulus funds set aside for HSR.

And of course, there is no funding for the tunnel to get into the underground 4th and Townsend, or from 4th and Townsend to the TBT train box, and there will obviously be an effort to hold the opening of the CA-HSR hostage on paying for the tunnel.

And, of course, the first commitment to use the TBT for HSR was not the 2008 California Prop1A , but the 1999 San Francisco Proposition H.

jim said...

If TBT gets federal stimulus money from the 8 billion for hsr then that money can be used to make the changes so long as it doesn't put san francisco taxpayers on the hook. For that matter as long as the feds pay for the changes it doesn't matter if it goes thru cahsr or sftbt.

jim said...

Both the transbay center and the high speed rail project could be completed in a more timely manner if they agreed to go forward as is now and worry about the connection of tbt to 4th later. id be happy with an elevated moving sidewalk from market to townsend. via tbt and 2nd.

Rafael said...

@ jim -

it's perfectly fair to demand that changes to the TBT - or rather, the DTX tunnel - that relate to requirements HSR failed to articulate before be funded by CHSRA.

It's also true that it doesn't much matter to Congress which California agency gets a slice of the $8 billion in HSR stimulus funds.

However, it ought to matter to California residents because TJPA has zero expertise in HSR technology. The smartest course of action for USDOT would be to use its power of the purse strings to knock some heads together.

Bay Area Resident said...

The trick is to park at the Millbrae station for free and take bart into SF and then back to SFO, you save a ton of money on SFO parking, so thanks Quentin for the blunder. Except it only helps people like me who are not consistently working and have a lot of time on their hands to play games with things like SFO parking.

I half thought Kopp was going to kick the bucket when he was hospitalized a week or two ago.

Bay Area Resident said...

it ought to matter to California residents because TJPA has zero expertise in HSR technology. Rafael, I suggest you listen to the transportation meeting in Sacramento from about a month ago with Leventhal and Simitian- they had Morshed of HSR and the TBT team presenting at the same meeting. TBT came off as professional, with a beautiful design. Morshed came off as an amateur. The congresspeople in the meeting were congratulating the TBT on their design and approach. Now maybe its all fluff with TBT, but they know how to play the political game. Morshed was constantly chastized with "we are not saying anybody did anything wrong..." which is political speak for somebody did something wrong.

jim said...

I wonder if Cali can lead the nation with the first true high speed rail project or if, while we are arguing we wind up being put to shame by - god forbid - those yahoos down in Texas? I suggest we get moving. Just get to digging please.

BruceMcF said...

jim said... "If TBT gets federal stimulus money from the 8 billion for hsr then that money can be used to make the changes so long as it doesn't put san francisco taxpayers on the hook."

jim, the HSR funding cannot be used to make changes to the design of the train box shell ... its supposed to pay for all of the train box shell. The idea is to fix the little problem of no money for the tunnel and the train box by taking a free ride on the Federal Stimulus funding for the train box shell and take as much of a free ride as possible of the HSR state bond money and whatever Federal match is can scratch up.

The fact that they have pretty pictures that go from top to bottom doesn't mean they have money that goes from top to bottom ... the money only goes from top to the ground floor.

BruceMcF said...

Bay Area Resident said...
"Rafael, I suggest you listen to the transportation meeting in Sacramento from about a month ago with Leventhal and Simitian ..."

Yes, the TJPA were very polished, and the CHSRA came off as very amateurish. There is no doubt whatsoever which side has the political skills.

It was listening to what the TJPA presentation said, and in particular the heavy reliance on spurious arguments, that made it clear that there was something about the design that they did not want to discuss. The pile of red herring was just too deep to be accidental.

Andy Chow said...

The heart of the issue, and which is what I want to see, is a cooperative attitute to solve whatever they have so that the needs are met. I am not going to recommend Richard's or anyone else plan. I believe that whatever compromise could be somewhere in the middle, as long as it is functional.

Bay Area Resident is correct. HSRA isn't anymore of an HSR expert than TJPA is. They all hire outside consultants. Kopp saying 12 train/hour or Morshed refusing to justify this level of service doesn't help build confidence at this agency.

I am not against HSRA or the TJPA, but I don't think either agency has nothing to hide. However I think being a surrogate for HSRA on this issue isn't helping to make things better, which led people like me to question the sincerity of Kopp, consider his past blunders.

flowmotion said...

@Jim

I have to disagree that 4th & King is more convenient for San Franciscans. Transit service to the Caltrain station is poor. Metro service is slow. Busses are few and far between. Even as someone who lives directly on the N-Judah line which services the Caltrain station, TBT would still be more convienent.

The commercial buildings in Mission Bay are low-rise types. Other than for a handful of advertising/biotech employees and loft-dwellers, it not very convienent for the vast majority of people who live and work in the city and have transit options directly to Market Street.

Furthermore there is absolutely no reason to have parking or car rental facilities within SF, because all of that is *already* located near the Millbrae/SFO station.

Unfortuantely, San Francisco has never in it's history had a 'central station". (Blame the SP.) Fixing that problem is going to be expensive, but eventually it has to be done.

Brandon in San Diego said...

Like most everyone here, I too would like to see the TJPA and CHSRA sit in a room together and hammer out a solution. However, they have already tried. They spent almost a million dollars on additional engineering studies and came to the same consensus; that the TBT is under-designed to accommodate the needs of the CHSRA.

Next step is... the TJPA should revise the plan. However, they are not because they don't have the money for a beefed-up design; a third level.

Therefore, the current tack of the TJPA is to seek a political remedy.

I am certain that the CHSRA does not need to defend anything. And if so, who would be their audience? Certainly, the pertinent staffs of all involved are familiar with the job of the CHSRA and the criteria they are charged with; a legislative directive to enable a system capable of 5 min headways to name just one.

The CHSRA has no wiggle room. They cannot accept a design that does not meet the criteria of the state enabling legislation... if so, and then they'd be breaking state law just like Kopp told legislative members of the Housing and Transportation Committee that they were breaking the law when they did not pass a budget on time last year (which delayed CHSRA work).

As I see it, these are the possible remedies to the problem:
1) Political powers that be... seek state legislative change to the criteria for the statewide HSR system; or
2) The TJPA changes the design to meet the CHSRA criteria and secures the necessary funding; or
3) The TJPA changes the design and reduces project scope elsewhere so that the financial cost is a wash; or
4) The State legislator divests the powers of the TJPA and their projects to another entity that IS equipped to make the necessary changes, perhaps the CHSRA itself; or,
5) Postpone HSR going to the TBT until a later date when appropriate pieces are in place.

I don't think a phased approach is enabling TJPA access to HSR bond funding and allowing a substandard TBT design to move forward. Kopp is correct in pointing out that the TBT should be designed for a life beyond the 'build-out' year. The state and country will spend plenty for the TBT and it should have a long useful life!

At the end of the day I believe the trick is that the TJPA needs to secure the necessary funding from another source to improve the substandard design of the TBT.

Andy Chow said...

Whatever HSRA's new requirement are all "wants" and not "needs." The needs are the outcomes of studies and value engineering. Lots of public works project go through these phases.

The state legislature didn't draft the law as an excuse to cut TBT, which is the very reason you are using to bash TJPA. You and Kopp could waste all the time saying that "we know better," "we don't need to tell others why we need this." A lot of us here are sick and tired of these excuses. You are not helping HSR by defending this.

The two staton solution is a very reasonable one. It is ridiculus to expect TJPA to come up with its own money because HSRA changed its "needs." It is actually more cost effective for this project to go forward and accomodate majority of the HSR trains. If future demand warrants service beyond 8 trains/hour, use the future revenue to upgrade 4th & King, expand TBT, or extend to East Bay. Don't punish the other riders by preventing any service to serve TBT.

Rafael said...

@ Andy Chow -

the five-minute headway requirement is not a "want". It's a legal requirement that CHSRA has to fulfil and that the current TBT design cannot meet.

Forget about the whole discussion surrounding a second level, it is indeed smoke and mirrors being thrown up by CHSRA. Just fix the design of the tunnel and throat and everyone will be able to live with the result. This probably won't cost a whole lot extra, because the need for triple-tracking most of the tunnel will be eliminated.

BruceMcF said...

Brandon in San Diego said...
"Like most everyone here, I too would like to see the TJPA and CHSRA sit in a room together and hammer out a solution. However, they have already tried. They spent almost a million dollars on additional engineering studies and came to the same consensus; that the TBT is under-designed to accommodate the needs of the CHSRA.

Next step is... the TJPA should revise the plan. However, they are not because they don't have the money for a beefed-up design; a third level.
"

But if the system can, in fact, not meet the 12tph demand, its got to be in the layout bottlenecks and layout curves, since four platform tracks on two island platforms is plenty even for twelve trains per hour, if its being used as a through-service terminal.

And beefing up the layout at the TBT station throat and eliminating the bottleneck of a single express through track at 4th and Townsend (the tunnel station underneath 4th and King) can certainly save money, since the DTX is a three track tunnel that has the effective capacity of a two track tunnel/

The tunneling for Richards design will be cheaper, as its a two track tunnel ... so if Richard's full design is not cheaper than the TJPA design, its got to be in the design at 4th and Townsend, and that could be substantially simplified to two through tracks and two siding platforms.

Brandon in San Diego said...

Andy Chow, Then I suspect you would support decision makers going to the legislator and seeking a remedy there to revise the design requirements of the HSR system.

Fwiw, I thought they were in the legislation to provide safeguards for things like this... and for a strong argument for having too many stations.

That may not be feasible from a political standpoint since SoCal leaders would be needed for a vote.

I do not know what the solution will be. I have my opinion. I don't think legislative action is the best path.

I also don't think politicians sinking their fingers into the design will provide the best outcome. Design options should be identified by the engineers.
---
For what it's worth, I think having a strong CHSRA chairperson is needed to properly argue for the HSR system. Kopp is doing his job.

jim said...

I can't even imagine needing more than 4 departures and arrivals per hour forthe next fifty years. The ridership estimates are way overblown.

Adirondacker said...

By the time 2030 to 2045 rolls around when the demand is really needed a new bay crossing will probably be in the works anyway.A new Bay crossing is needed now. If you wait until 2030 or 2045 to build it it's going to be next to impossible. The places that are parking lots today will be tall office buildings and condos.

Aerobus idea, but there are several issues to consider that you may not be aware of here..Why is Yerba Buena such a problem. Aerobus is able to leap tall buildings at a single bound, faster than a speeding bullet ( if bullets traveled 30 MPH ) . . .

As I see it, the main problem is that they built two systems decades ago. Neither are still in operation.

Rafael said...

@ BruceMcF, Adirondacker -

Wuppertal and Dresden in Germany both have old but active suspended monorails.

Fwiw, there are also a number of still-active transporter bridges in that country.

Adirondacker said...

Rafael. I'm 51. I've been reading about the wonders of monorail and PRT and maglev etc since I learned how to read. Well maybe a year or two after I learned how to read when the third grade teacher slapped a Popular Mechanics in my hands.

Both of them, teh suspended monorails, are over hundred years old. No new systems have been built since. Same thing with cable cars. Interesting technology but there's gotta be a good reason why nobody else is rushing out to build new ones.

Transporter bridges fill a niche just like funiculars and SF Cable Cars. There's a reason why so few so survive. . .

BruceMcF said...

@ Rafael said...

"@ BruceMcF, Adirondacker -
Wuppertal and Dresden in Germany both have old but active suspended monorails.
"

Monorail has higher capital costs per route mile, because of the much shorter spans between supports, and because a concrete guideway is more expensive than track laid on suspension cable. It also has greater construction impacts, because of the shorter spans between supports, and a bigger ground footprint ... because of the shorter spans between supports.

But other than that, it has many of the same benefits. Which is to say, Aerobus, or some similar technology, would have the benefits of suspended monorail, at lower cost, with fewer drawbacks.