That's what Steven T. Jones of the San Francisco Bay Guardian reported Friday night:
TJPA spokesperson Adam Alberti tells the Guardian that involved agencies are hoping operational adjustments can be made to handle up to eight trains per hour at Transbay, and that the additional four trains per hour that the California High-Speed Rail Authority says it wants might have to stop at the existing 4th and Townsend station.
Several commenters have floated this idea in our various Transbay posts, of having some trains go all the way to SF Transbay and others terminate at 4th and King. I'm curious which trains would stop where - won't most riders want to go all the way to the Financial District? Do we believe the typical Southern Californian* will understand the difference between SF 4th and King and SF Transbay Terminal on an HSR map, timetable, or website? Perhaps they will, and a 4th and King solution is dependent on the Central Subway - but this is probably the best solution given the politics of the matter.
Operationally, I can live with it, but as you all know by now I tend to take the big picture view of all this - I'm curious what those of you who are skilled in the details of the Transbay Terminal issue think.
Jones's article continues, still paraphrasing Adam Alberti:
He said there is a growing consensus against building a second floor of train platforms, which could add $1 billion to the price of the project. The TJPA board needs to land on a plan by May so current contracts can be issued and so regional agencies can come together on a request for about $1 billion in federal stimulus money when the state makes its formal request for federal high-speed rail funding in June.
That says to me that SF city and Caltrain officials, who have many of the TJPA seats, and the MTC are part of this "growing consensus" against the second floor concept that CHSRA has been pushing. They want to move quickly to get the contracts out and to show the feds that we really are moving on the shovel-ready aspects of the HSR project in order to get some stimulus money. I think that is exactly the right approach to take.
Of course, Quentin Kopp still isn't happy:
CHSRA Chair Quentin Kopp continues to question the Transbay Terminal project, saying its schedule and location have been dictated by its bus component and noting that its costs have been creeping ever higher. “This has all the earmarks of San Francisco’s Big Dig.”
I don't really understand what is up with Kopp's opposition to the Transbay Terminal project, but this does not reflect very well on him. It will only cause more people to think that his whole "we need a second floor for unspecified operational reasons" was in fact an effort to kill the train box idea entirely and terminate the line at 4th and King. And that may well be exactly what is going on here. But Kopp isn't doing himself or the Authority or the project any favors by his stance on this. And his use of the "Big Dig" canard is really not a good idea at all. The HSR deniers have been using that frame against us for months, and although we've done well in beating it back, the last thing we need is for an official of the CHSRA to start using it themselves. There is in fact NO indication whatsoever, at this point, that the Transbay Terminal project will be plagued by the kind of massive cost overruns that hit the Big Dig - and as many have noted, one of the reasons for those overruns was constant meddling in the design process by various authorities.
At a time when Kopp has a much bigger problem on his hands - the unrealistic demand of mid-Peninsula cities for a tunnel - he should not be going around pissing off and alienating potential allies with attacks on the Transbay Terminal project. Let's hope that this compromise is workable, that it holds, and that we can move on with the overall HSR project.
* - I was born and raised in Southern California and while I love that place dearly, not everyone there is skilled at grasping these kinds of details.