Monday, August 24, 2009

WaPo Joins The HSR Stupidity

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

Robert J. Samuelson is one of the more right-wing writers at the Washington Post. His previous columns have proposed privatizing Medicare, for example, just to give you a picture of who we are dealing with. And like Ed Glaeser and Ed Morris before him, he has decided to bring a right-wing frame to his attack on high speed rail in today's Washington Post.

The column turns on two basic arguments. The first is that somehow HSR will not pencil out. The fact that every HSR system in the world covers its operating costs is lost on Samuelson, who passes off as fact Glaeser's bad math that we've already debunked. Perhaps expecting HSR supporters to respond with the fact that European and Asian HSR systems cover their expenses through fares, Samuelson then tries to argue the USA is different:

What works in Europe and Asia won't in the United States. Even abroad, passenger trains are subsidized. But the subsidies are more justifiable because geography and energy policies differ.

Densities are much higher, and high densities favor rail with direct connections between heavily populated city centers and business districts. In Japan, density is 880 people per square mile; it's 653 in Britain, 611 in Germany and 259 in France. By contrast, plentiful land in the United States has led to suburbanized homes, offices and factories. Density is 86 people per square mile. Trains can't pick up most people where they live and work and take them to where they want to go. Cars can.

As Bianca pointed out in the comments to yesterday's post, however, California HSR will have a much higher density than the figures Samuelson provided above:

Okay, I pulled the numbers from the US Census site (linked above.) Note these are numbers based on the year 2000, so current numbers are likely higher.

San Francisco County – 9,999
San Mateo County- 1,575
Santa Clara County- 1,303
Merced County- 109.2
Fresno County- 143.1
Tulare County- 76.3
Kern County- 81.3
Los Angeles County 2,344.1
Orange County- 3,607.5

average: 2,138 persons per square mile over nine counties served by HSR.

This is just for the San Francisco to Irvine section, but I think we can safely lay density to rest as an argument.

It is true that the Central Valley cities have smaller densities. But one of the purposes of HSR is to spur that density by providing HSR stations in city centers that can serve as magnets for transit-oriented development. Even with that in mind, the average density of the CAHSR route from SF to Anaheim is significantly higher than the numbers Samuelson provides. It blows his entire argument out of the water.

But as James Carville once said, "when your opponent is drowning, throw him an anvil." We can go further and show that the European nation most closely resembling California - Spain - has had dramatic success with HSR. Bruce McF made that point at Daily Kos today, and Matt Melzer made it here in July 2008 using the following charts:







That last chart in particular is of immense value in discussing American HSR plans. Spain was not the stereotypical European nation that already had a large share of its population using trains. Spain, like California, was primarily dependent on cars and planes to get around the nation. And yet it is Spain that has had the most dramatic success with HSR in the last 20 years.

Samuelson also made another point above, that trains don't work as well as cars because they don't give you door to door service. There are two flaws with this. First, a high speed train from SF to LA is still faster than driving, getting you from point A to point B in about half the time. Sure, you have to drive to a train station, but the HSR stations in both the Bay Area and SoCal will be centrally located.

That leads to the next point that Samuelson almost totally ignores. Yes, as he says, beyond 400 or 500 miles high speed trains don't compete well with planes. But most US HSR plans, including California's, fall into the sweet spot. SF to LA via HSR will be a 432-mile journey. Madrid to Barcelona is about 385 miles. And that corridor, once the world's busiest air corridor, high speed trains have had a smashing success, grabbing 40% of the market share in just its first year of operation.

It should be quite clear that Samuelson's attack on HSR is not based on evidence at all. Rather, as Dean Baker points out, it seems based solely on hatred of trains. Weak stuff indeed.

Finally, as Rafael noted in the comments to yesterday's post, it's a shame we're even having these discussions. California voters have made their decision - they want high speed trains. President Obama ran on a winning platform that included frequent and prominent references to high speed trains. Glaeser, Morris, O'Toole and Samuelson seem interested in using their prominent media platforms to try and reverse these outcomes. Yet they cannot do so on the evidence alone. They either have to structure their analysis in such a way that ignores the whole context and leaves a lot out, as Glaeser and Morris have done, or they have to ignore evidence entirely, as O'Toole and Samuelson have done.

One wonders when the NYT and WaPo will be publishing pro-HSR op-eds in their pages and on their blogs.

201 comments:

1 – 200 of 201   Newer›   Newest»
Bianca said...

There is a piece in this week's Economist that sets forth in a really succinct way something I've been thinking for a while:

"Belief in conspiracy theories can be comforting. If everything that goes wrong is the fault of a secret cabal, that relieves you of the tedious necessity of trying to understand how a complex world really works. And you can feel smug that you are smart enough to “see through” the official version of events. But widespread paranoia has drawbacks. For a start, it makes calm, rational debate rather tricky.

The article was about the current debate over health care, and it goes on to say, "How can you discuss the trade-offs of health-care reform, for example, with someone who thinks the government is plotting to kill grandma? But I think that the general idea applies to the unknown number of anonymous commenters here who rail against Kopp, Diridon, Bechtel, et. al., as if there were some secret conspiracy out to get us all.

political_incorrectness said...

There is a reason I sometimes ignore the mainstream media and this is exactly why. They inject there opinions without factual evidence to back it up.

Here are some Spanish cities metro areas density per sq km

Madrid 1267.6 (city 3.595.0)
Barcelona 15,779
Seville 4,947.6
Tarragona 1,511.4
Zaragosa 601.14

Lleida 601
Cordoba 101.11
Malaga 1,402

It is various, Madird, Barcelona, Seville, Malaga, and Valliodad are on the end of the HSLs in Spain, just goes to show high density is not required in the central valley for a successful high-speed train, it requires density in the city areas.

Andre Peretti said...

It's funny how differently the density argument is used by anti-HSR people in Britain and the US.
The British argument: France is larger than Britain with cities spaced hundreds of miles apart, which is ideal for HSR. On the contrary, Britain is too small and densely populated, which makes it unsuitable for HSR.
When the same argument can be used for and against, it just shows how weak it is.

BruceMcF said...

And the British argument gains empirical support in the fact that Germany, with more population density than France, has been unable to establish HSR services ...

... well, it would, in that alternate universe where that was true. In that Alternate Universe, there would be empirical backing for the argument.

Not in this universe, but you can't have everything.

BruceMcF said...

I also made the point today that Samuelson links approvingly to Glaeser to back up his argument, where:

(1) Ed Glaeser is looking at a "hypothetical" Express HSR corridor with a potential ridership of 1.5m.

Which is (2) not enough ridership to get an Express HSR corridor funded under the current policy - the California Express HSR system will be 10's of millions.

So (3) it would be either The Big Stupid or The Big Lie to use Glaeser to criticize the current policy.

Daily Kos is a maelstrom, but you can also support my diary at Docudharma

Devil's Advocate said...

To me if an argument is exposed by Robert J. Samuelson, it is automatically weak.
A year or two before the launch of the Euro, which was launched on 1/1/1999, he wrote an editorial (I don't remember which newspaper) in which he stated that the Euro was a foolish idea that will do nothing but harm to the world, and that the US should oppose it (as if the US could tell the EU what to do). He also predicted that it would collapse shortly after its launch. Since that article (which annoyed me so much, that I still remember it), I read his articles religiously, because I found that he can predict the future. Usually whatever he predicts will happen, not only won't happen, but the exact opposite will occur. I also made some good bets in the stock markets thanks to his erroneous predictions.

Devil's Advocate said...

(cont'd). Well! I usually play the Devil's advocate in this blog, since sometime I wonder about the economic viability of HSR in America. But now that Samuelson has predicted that it will fail, I'm now convinced that it will be a huge success. Thank you Samuelson for removing all my doubts. If you say one thing, I know for a fact that the opposite will happen.

jim said...

@bruce... well, it would, in that alternate universe where that was true. In that Alternate Universe, there would be empirical backing for the argument

I propose we all put on our aluminum foil hats and take a field trip to that other universe just for fun.


Right now, there are simply a lot of big money players who are unhappy that the last admin screwed up to the point that it snapped americans out of their sleep for just long enough to get a different direction going. Now they have only one job, defeat any and all social progress at any cost. And they can afford any cost. When you have the oil companies, the drug companies, and insurance companies combined with the highway lobby and airline lobby, you have some of.... or actually, THE deepest pockets on earth loitering around DC. Add to that, the media, which contrary to popular belief, is no where near "liberal" as it is entirely owned by global corporations and funded by (sponsored by) their fellow global corporations, with complete control of the messages that get out, and you have a recipe that can only be countered by a mass turn out of voters who get on the same page. And that is harder and harder to do.

It happened in November though, and rest assured, the people who's ideology lost have an unlimited amount of money, time, power, and voice, to stop it.

jim said...

and american have the attention span of a gnat. we even had a show, short attention span theater, remember?
we revel in being stupid hicks. " we don't need to be like them there fancy pants yooropeeans. granny and pa and elly may and me like it just fine the way it is right here in the trailer park... that train is just gonna spook the catfish."

jim said...

will these people ever die off, or will the just keep breeding.

Nicolas said...

Prior to the passage of Prop 1A, a lot of HSR opponents were pointing out that California was unsuitable for high speed rail because it was not as dense as say, France.

Well, this argument is pretty ridiculous even in terms of simple national population density.

TGV opened in France in 1981.
Population of France (1982) = 54,334,871
Area of France = 260,558 sq mi
Density of France (1982) = 209 people per sq mi

RENFE AVE opened in Spain in 1992
Population of Spain (1992) = 39,067,750
Area of Spain = 195,364 sq mi
Density of Spain (1992) = 200 people per sq mi

Population of California (2008) = 36,756,666
Area of California = 163,696 sq mi
Density of California (2008) = 225 people per sq mi

Anonymous said...

Watch out for them 'right wing' writers and be sure to reference that in the FIRST SENTENCE so we know where you're coming from. After all, those people are as full of sh*t as all you Kool-Aid drinkers.

jim said...

but we won and you lost. sucks huh.

jim said...

and we won by a lot.

see how it works. the winner gets to do their thing. see last time, the other guys won, and they did there thing and well, we are all still suffering the results of that. So now we have to do double duty, move forward and clean up the mess at the same time. good job, previous winners. what ever will you do for an encore?

jim said...

did I mention how out of power you are? you know, cuz you were rejected by the american people? remember that part?

mike said...

Another piece of data that totally rebuts the "HSR can't work here like it does in Europe" argument is the following:

Current daily air passenger traffic between SF and LA metro areas: ~38,000 passengers on 358 flights.

2007 daily air passenger traffic between Madrid and Barcelona metro areas (this is prior to the AVE line): ~15,000 passengers on 138 flights.

Any argument against HSR being successful in the US applies even more strongly against short-distance air travel being successful in the US. And yet somehow the SF-LA air corridor has about 2.5x as many passengers and Madrid-Barcelona did at its peak!

Cas said...

This kind of analysis is so shallow (both Samuelson's and your necessary counterview). Using France's overall density includes a lot of sparse areas far away from rail, whereas density is more uniform in other European countries.

Even counties are a bad measure. I just tried this exercise with the proposed HSR corridor in the Northwest, and the numbers come out a lot lower (about 300/sq. mile for Vancouver BC to Eugene, with 427/mile for the BC to Portland stretch and 528 for the BC to Seattle section.) But this includes counties that are dense at their core and literally unpopulated at their eastern borders, which are typically at the crest of the mountains. That's not a fair comparison to the California counties, which don't extend into mountain areas.

The realistic metric has to be riders within a certain distance of stations, but that doesn't make for a quick column or blog post. Those numbers strongly favor HSR, but it's important not to overstate the back-of-the-envelope nature of using county density numbers.

I think you could probably get a more accurate quick comparison by adding up metro areas and dividing by line length. Still, there's no replacement for actual data on population and projected ridership near stations.

BruceMcF said...

What Cas says is quite true ... what is important for HSR is not density per square mile but potential ridership in the recruiting range of HSR stations per hour of rail travel.

Local density is critical for mass transit, but mass transit is not the be-all and end-all of local dedicated transport corridors, and HSR is not local transport at all.

Cas said...

Just out of curiosity I ran the numbers on my proposed alternative envelope calculation of metro population divided by corridor length (estimating by current highway distances when necessary). I counted Metro CSA numbers when they were available and MSA numbers otherwise (and for Spain metro numbers when available and city population otherwise).

The result for three corridors:

SF-Irvine CAHSR (includes SF-San Jose CSA, Fresno metro, Bakersfield, and LA CSA):
Metro population: 26,866,528
Route length: 459
People/route mile: 58,533

Barcelona-Madrid AVE (includes Madrid metro, Zaragoza, Lleida, Tarragona, Barcelona metro):
Metro population: 11,217,786
Route length: 385
People/route mile: 29,137

Vancouver-Eugene HSR (includes Metro Vancouver, Seattle CSA, Portland metro area, and Lane County (Eugene/Springfield MSA):
Metro population: 8,995,252
Route length: 424
People/route mile: 21,215
(Vancouver-Portland portion is 315 miles and 27,351/route mile)

Pretty sketchy compared to a real analysis, but probably better than Samuelson's numbers. It has the virtue of excluding sparse areas that aren't served by stations while still including the length of the line. It also suggests that the HSR in my neck of the woods is worth doing once California sets the example. (I definitely think the bulk of federal money should go to CAHSR, as you're the only ones with a well-developed plan.)

Anonymous said...

The hostility of these posts is so stunning to me. Basically, include major personal attacks right at the outset and frame someone as an enemy and then go into statistics. Why not just make your case without so much name calling? This is just totalitarian nonsense these days!

Anonymous said...

The realistic metric has to be riders within a certain distance of stations, but that doesn't make for a quick column or blog post.

Yes. Or perhaps more accurately, the size of the population within a given travel time of the stations.

Show us your analysis demonstrating that LA-SF is as favorable as Madrid-Barcelona by this metric.

Of course, population density is just one relevant factor.

Rafael said...

@ Cas -

"That's not a fair comparison to the California counties, which don't extend into mountain areas."

Ehm, don't most of the counties on the California system's starter route actually do contain at least some mountainous areas? San Mateo, Santa Cruz, Merced, Madera, Fresno, Kern, Los Angeles and Orange all do. Even San Francisco includes some famously steep hills. More to the point, though, I don't believe anyone ever claimed population density for entire counties was a particularly good indicator of HSR ridership potential.

What matters is the number of people who can reach the nearest HSR station in a "reasonable" amount of time. Of course, what is reasonable varies from person to person. However, anyone who wants to ride trains on a regular basis will probably have a relatively low tolerance for time spent getting to and from stations.

Ideally, this HSR feeder traffic should be on foot, bicycles or local/regional transit. As soon as someone gets behind the wheel, they're going to stay there unless the trip is really long, the roads congested, the weather lousy and/or gas and parking are really expensive. Basically, once you own a car, you're paying for depreciation, insurance and registration regardless how many miles you put on it.

That is why transit villages are a popular idea for boosting rail ridership: live and/or work close enough to a station to avoid having to own (yet another) car in the first place.

Anonymous said...

Hostility..? well you should start with the Fox News type and maby that will explain alot about this attitude what goes around comes around...now thats totalitarian

Devil's Advocate said...

I wonder how many cars travel from SF Bay Area to LA Metro (and viceversa) on a daily basis. I bet that many who travel solo will switch to the HST, since it's likely to be cheaper, as well as faster.
In any case, 38000 air passengers are a lot. Even if only 50% will switch to train, it will be equivalent to almost 25 400-passenger trains in each direction. And it doesn't even include those who will switch from car to train, nor the populations in the intermediate areas. I think currently there are 28 daily AVE trains that travel between Barcelona and Madrid in each direction.

AndyDuncan said...

Any argument against HSR being successful in the US applies even more strongly against short-distance air travel being successful in the US.

Right, and those other countries with their superior metro systems leading them to have better rail access also have much better mass transit connections to their airports.

Madrid, for instance, has a line that gets you from the airport to the city center in twelve minutes.

And yet the AVE has been wildly popular, despite the Madrid Airport being faster to get to via mass transit from the city center than any airport in CA.

LA has crap for rail transit, but LAUS will be far, far more accessible to the majority of Angelinos than LAX. Even Sylmar, Burbank, Fullerton and Anaheim at least have Metrolink.

Bianca said...

Paul Krugman joins the fray:

Yes, America overall has low density, but many of us live in high-density corridors; very few of us live in the wide open spaces. That’s why arguments that, say, we can’t have high-speed rail, because America’s population density is so low, are profoundly stupid.

Anonymous said...

Current daily air passenger traffic between SF and LA metro areas: ~38,000 passengers on 358 flights.

And where did you get THAT number from? For 2007, the Department of Transportation reports 3,600 daily passengers between LA and SF, and 3,000 between LA and Oakland. No other route between these metro areas is even in the top 40. That's 6,600 per day.

NEVER trust numbers from HSR advocates.

Bianca said...

Anonymous at 4:00-

Please check your numbers or provide a link rather than just citing the DOT. 6,600 passengers between the Bay Area and the LA Basin is absurdly low.

It's been well-documented here (and this is information you can easily verify for yourself, if you don't trust me) that there are over 300 flights a day between the Bay Area airports (SFO, SJC, OAK) and the LA airports (LAX, ONT, BUR, SNA).

Anonymous said...

Bianca,

I'm not interested in your guesses. If you think the 38,000 is correct, or even close to correct, substantiate it.

matt said...

@Bianca

Don't forget JetBlue Runs flights from LGB to SFO, OAK and SJC.

Bianca said...

@matt, yeah I realized I omitted LGB, but I'm including it in my tally.

...working on it...

Devil's Advocate said...

Anon @ 4:00.
Southwest alone has 101 daily non stop flights from the 3 SF Bay Area airports to the 4 LA area airports. Each SWA 737 has, I believe, a capacity of 137 passengers. The Passenger Load factor for SWA as of July 16, 2009 was 71.6%. That would equate to 98 passengers per flight on average. Multiply 98 x 101 southbound flights and you have 9898 passengers flying south. Assuming the same number of flights going north, from LA airports to SF Bay airports (haven't counted those, but should be about the same), and you have 19796 passengers daily for both directions in the corridor LA Metro-SF Bay Metro.

Note that I've considered only SWA. Haven't counted Virgin America, American Eagle, United, Ted, etc. etc. And I haven't even considered Long Beach airport (I forgot about that one, which is used by Jet Blue)

I think 38000 is a better number than your 6600

Rafael said...

@ anon @ 2:10pm, anon @ 2:43pm -

unless you've actually lived in a totalitarian country for a while and therefore know what you're talking about, may I suggest you refrain from bandying about that particular epithet (or "socialist", "fascist", "Nazi" etc.) in the context of open discourse on policy issues in the US. It makes you look profoundly ignorant.

Devil's Advocate said...

One thing to consider however is that until there is the possibility for the HST to reach Oakland from SJose (even on a standard non HSR line) most people on the East Bay will prefer to use the Oakland airport rather than the HSR from San Francisco or San Jose.
However I think that the air travel market from San Francisco and San Jose to LA will drop significantly, and even more so once the Anaheim HSR and the San Diego HSR via Riverside comes into place. If HST trains will be in the future depart also from Oakland through the East Bay, then the air travel market between LA and SF areas will have the same fate as the air travel market between Paris and London, or MAD-BCN.
I'm less optimistic between tha Central Valley and the LA/SF areas. I think that at current gasoline prices the car is a formidable competitor. Under 200 miles you wouldn't save a lot of time from point to point compared to using your own car. Unless of course your departure/destination points are very close to the HSR stations.

Anonymous said...

Devil's Advocate

Again, I'm not interested in your GUESSES. Show me the passenger traffic data demonstrating that 38,000 people, or anything even close to that number, fly each day between the LA and SF metro areas.

NEVER trust numbers from HSR proponents.

lyqwyd said...

Unsurprisingly an HSR denier has put out some completely misleading information.

There are far more than 6000 daily round-trip air passengers between the SF.

The number of average daily flights between airports according to FlightStats

Start - End: Out, In
SFO - LAX: 33, 32
OAK - LAX: 28, 28
SJC - LAX: 28, 28
SFO - BUR: 6, 7
OAK - BUR: 15, 15
SJC - BUR: 9, 9
SFO - ONT: 4, 4
OAK - ONT: 12, 12
SJC - ONT: 8, 9
SFO - SNA: 10, 10
OAK - SNA: 14, 14
SJC - SNA: 14, 14
OAK - LGB: 6, 6

Total: 187, 188

for a grand total of 375 average daily flights between SF & LA (this does not include San Diego).

Unfortunately FlightStats doesn't provide actual passengers, but I think it's quite clear to any rational person that the real number is much closer to Devil's Advocate than Anon.

A reasonable estimate of 100 people per flight puts is pretty much dead on with 38,000

In fact, Anon's numbers line up nicely with about 100 people per flight, it's just too bad he chose to ignore 5 of the 8 major airports in the combined LA & SF areas.

Anonymous said...

Anon - you're the one asking the questions. Everyone else here knows that 6600 is a ridiculous number for the 3 Bay airports to the 5 LA airports. If you're so curious, feel free to look it up yourself.

Anonymous said...

Don't forget JetBlue Runs flights from LGB to SFO, OAK and SJC.

Yes, I see that JetBlue has 3 flights daily each way between LGB and SJC, for example. 2 regional jets, and an A320.

How many trains will the California HSR run between LGB and SJC each day, and how long will the journey take? Be sure to take into account the time required for any stops along the way.

One way fares on JetBlue start at $49. The price of an Acela ticket between New York and Washington is $150-200. Given that it costs three or four times as much to travel half the distance on Amtrak's existing HSR-lite service, why should anyone in their right mind believe that the California HSR could be remotely competitive on price with the airlines?

Anonymous said...

A reasonable estimate of 100 people per flight puts is pretty much dead on with 38,000


Again, your GUESSES are WORTHLESS. Show me the DATA on passenger numbers between the LA and SF metro areas.

lyqwyd said...

sorry anon, but it's not a guess, it is in fact the same number you presented, just applied to the true level of traffic between the two regions.

You can continue to deny reality, but at a certain point it becomes clear to everybody that you have no basis to your argument.

Why don't you go back to your source and post the numbers for all airport pairs that I presented. And how about a link to your source so we can verify it?

Until you do that you have no support for your number, while we've provided plenty of support for ours.

Sam said...

One way fares on JetBlue start at $49.

You're correct. They START at $49. What's the average price paid?

The price of an Acela ticket between New York and Washington is $150-200. Given that it costs three or four times as much to travel half the distance on Amtrak's existing HSR-lite service, why should anyone in their right mind believe that the California HSR could be remotely competitive on price with the airlines?

Why should Amtrak charge less when they sell out most trains between NYC and Washington? If the distance is so short and JetBlue can do SF-LA for $50, why don't they compete against Amtrak for NYC to Washington and clean Amtrak's clock with their 1/4 price fares?

Rafael said...

@ Devil's Advocate -

HSR will indeed achieve lower modal share among East Bay residents than among those in SF peninsula. The long walk between Embarcadero/Montgomery BART and the TTC building is going to sharply reduce the catchment area for HSR, buses can't compensate fully.

As for connecting transit to San Jose Diridon, BART will now be extended there. If the Altamont overlay gets funding, both ACE and Capitol Corridor could be sped up.

Residents in the central section of the East Bay will have several options to get to an HSR station: BART will be extended to Santa Clara. Amtrak CC and ACE would be substantially upgraded if the Altamont overlay is funded. And finally, autotram buses could deliver a medium-capacity express service between Bay Fair BART and Millbrae/SFO via the existing carpool lanes on the San Mateo bridges.

At Dumbarton, plans call for rail service between Union City BART, Fremont Centerville Amtrak/ACE and Redwood City Caltrain (possible HSR station). The alternative there would be a second autotram service, the Dumbarton road bridge also has carpool lanes.

Of course, none of that is the same as running true HSR @ 125mph up the East Bay to Oakland. Everyone would prefers a single-seat ride, but flying out of OAK doesn't provide that, either. Moreover, IFF you exclude the theoretical possibilities of tunneling and many miles of aerials for seismic, environmental and cost reasons, there is no viable ROW between SJ Diridon and Union City for dedicated HSR tracks. UPRR will not/must not share its tracks with lightweight non-compliant rolling stock.

As for gas prices, keep in mind this is a long-term project. It is totally irrelevant how expensive gasoline happens to be at the end of August in 2009.

All that matters is are the structural trends in oil prices and a state tax on carbon emissions.

Gasoline prices may not top $4.50 again in the next year or two, but the writing is definitely on the wall. HSR isn't due to begin operations for at another decade - a lot can happen in the interim.

Anonymous said...

sorry anon, but it's not a guess, it is in fact the same number you presented, just applied to the true level of traffic between the two regions.

No, it's a GUESS. No one except me has provided any data on actual passenger numbers.

Rafael said...

@ anon @ 5:57pm -

just how frickin' lazy are you, anyhow?

One (1) Google search for 'passenger volume "bay area" "la basin" aviation' -> second result -> MTC document summarizing Year 2000 RASP Forecasts for 2020.

This was prepared well before anyone was really serious about HSR in California. Way back when in 1998, the California corridor accounted for 56.6 million passengers. Not available seats, mind you, but actual customers. 26% of those traveled in the "California Corridor" between the Bay Area and airports south of the transverse range (incl. San Diego).

Ignoring differences between weekdays and weekends/holidays, that works out to ~40,000 passengers per day. That much is hard data.

The report indicates total annual passenger volume growth was about 3.1%, but also that the California Corridor was beginning growing more slowly as it is more mature.

Assuming - very conservatively - just 1.5% for that in the decade of 1998-2008, that works out to about 17 million annual flights (~46,800 daily). No doubt demand is somewhat lower right now because of the recession, but I doubt it has plunged to 1998 levels.

Anonymous said...

Sam,

You're correct. They START at $49. What's the average price paid?

$49 is the standard fare. It's $49 for a flight TOMORROW.

Why should Amtrak charge less when they sell out most trains between NYC and Washington?

The question isn't why Amtrak should charge less for the Acela but why anyone should expect the California HSR to charge less for a trip that's twice the distance, at a higher speed, and that requires brand new ROW, railtrack and equipment. And not just a bit less, but so much less that it is competitive with airlines on the same routes. Do you have an answer or don't you?

And I'm still waiting for an answer on how many trains the California HSR will run between LGB and SJC each day, and how long will the trip take. Frequency of service and travel time are also obviously relevant to its ability to compete with the airlines.

YesonHSR said...

Well reading thru 24 pages of comments on the Post about this article the guy has been loudly booed ..except of course the usual "types" that also haunt this board..

mike said...

@Anonymous

Since you are too lazy to get the data yourself, here are REAL data on CURRENT flights WITH aircraft type in parentheses:

SFO-LAX 44 (757/320/737/S80)
SFO-BUR 6 (RJ)
SFO-ONT 4 (RJ)
SFO-SNA 19 (320/737)
SFO-LGB 3 (320)

SJC-LAX 20 (11 737 and 9 RJ)
SJC-BUR 10 (737)
SJC-SNA 13 (8 737 and 5 RJ)
SJC-ONT 6 (737)
SJC-LGB 3 (320)

OAK-LAX 16 (737)
OAK-SNA 8 (737)
OAK-BUR 14 (737)
OAK-ONT 10 (737)
OAK-LGB 3 (320)

These are all one-way (north to south), so multiply by two to get total flight numbers. The total should be 358. The data are scraped from Sidestep. They could be an underestimate in that sold-out flights may not appear. They cannot be an overestimate. The total is in pretty close agreement with lyqwyd's source, though interestingly the numbers for airport pair totals do not always match. (These data are forward looking, while lyqwyd's are backward looking, so it's possible that some airlines have shifted flights between different airport pairs in the LA/SF corridor.)

Your guess that there are only 6,600 passengers per day is easily disproved. As you can see, almost all the aircraft are in the 757/320/737 range, which have a capacity of 182, 150, and 137 passengers respectively. Average aircraft capacity across all flights is ~130, yielding ~47,000 seats per day. Your claim thus amounts to asserting that the airlines are flying with a load factor of only 14% at a time when industry load factors are approaching 90%! Put another way, on average there is less than one person seated per row on these aircraft. Anyone who has flown this route lately, including myself, can tell you that such an assertion is laughable.

AndyDuncan said...

The ridership projections conducted by Cambridge Systematics used passenger data from FAA ticket surveys which determined in-state passenger boarding numbers for all CA airports.

Those surveys found a total in-state flight traffic of about 13.2 million per year, or over 36 thousand per day in 2005, down from 15.8 million per year (43k per day) in 2000 (traffic was slowly recovering from 2001, but the economic downturn has slowed that).

That data includes flights between areas outside of LA and SF, including San Diego and Sacramento, as well as a small number of flights to tiny regional and municipal airports such as Palm Springs, Monterey, Oxnard, Arcata and Santa Barbara that service cities not serviced by the planned HSR system.

Those secondary airports have a total boarding of 148k passengers per year, or a little over 400 passengers per day.

The remainder of the 36k passengers per day travelled between airports that service cities on the planned CAHSR system.

I can't find a direct link to the original FAA study, though unless you think that CamSys fabricated the numbers outright, you can read them in the original ridership report here.

I would strongly recommend reading the ridership report, especially if you plan on complaining about the ridership projections contained within it. It might change your mind, or it might give you better ammunition. Either way, it can't hurt.

Anonymous said...

Way back when in 1998, the California corridor accounted for 56.6 million passengers. Not available seats, mind you, but actual customers. 26% of those traveled in the "California Corridor" between the Bay Area and airports south of the transverse range (incl. San Diego).Ignoring differences between weekdays and weekends/holidays, that works out to ~40,000 passengers per day. That much is hard data.

Meaningless. The document you cite provides no definition of "California Corridor," but even if we assume it is limited entirely to flights between the LA and SF metro areas, your number still doesn't make any sense. As described in the document, the 56.6 million number includes all connecting passengers, domestic and international, as well as passengers whose trips start and end within the "California Corridor." It therefore tells us NOTHING about the potential market for HSR.

It's quite clear by now that none of you has any idea how many passengers fly between the LA and SF metro areas each day. You're just making up numbers and stating them as if they are actual data. It's a joke.

NEVER trust numbers from HSR proponents.

Rafael said...

@ anon @ 6:57pm -

I hope you realize that no-one here is under any obligation to do your homework for you.

As for Acela Express, its ticket prices are so high because that's what passengers are prepared to pay. Amtrak uses the substantial operating profits to cross-subsidize its loss-making operations elsewhere in the nation. The Acela Express is also subject to excessive amounts of maintenance thanks to FRA meddling.

Tickets on California HSR will be a lot cheaper per mile if Amtrak isn't the operator. That's because dedicated tracks plus actual cruise speeds of 125-220mph plus multiple classes of service mean the trains will actually achieve 65-75% seat capacity utilization - just like those in France and Spain.

As for frequency, CAHSR is forecasting 96 trains per day each way for 2030 IFF the customers flock to the service. Depending on the day of the week and the time of day, that would mean 3-8 trains per hour (i.e. roughly 7.5-20 minute intervals). That's just a ballpark indication, though, CHSRA is still in the very early phases of actual operations planning. It's not yet clear when the first trains of the day will leave, the last ones arrive and where HSR trainsets will be parked overnight.

Currently, there are no plans to terminate any northbound trains in San Jose. However, it's far from clear that the throat of the sharply curved TTC trainbox in San Francisco could even support 8 HSR trains per hour on top of a similar number from Caltrain during rush hour. A straight throat would have no problem coping and create an intermodal station with BART/SF Muni subway/streetcars, but interpreting the TTC mandate that way would require TJPA to get off its building-centric high horse.

Alon Levy said...

The question isn't why Amtrak should charge less for the Acela but why anyone should expect the California HSR to charge less for a trip that's twice the distance, at a higher speed, and that requires brand new ROW, railtrack and equipment. And not just a bit less, but so much less that it is competitive with airlines on the same routes. Do you have an answer or don't you?

The Acela is a business class-only service. CAHSR will have both economy and business class service.

gabe said...

@ anon
"The question isn't why Amtrak should charge less for the Acela"

You missed the point.

First, you assume that the constructions costs are the same for the BOSWash metro area as for the Central Valley. Do you think this is true?

Second, you assume that acela sets price equal to cost. Do you think that's true? If people are willing to pay $140 to take the train, that means the train is successful and in high demand, not that it is costly. Which costs more, manufacturing a pill or a hamburger? You can't find that out by looking at their prices.

Since you like ask questions, let me ask you one. What is the true cost per mile of the California system? No guesses based on acela ticket prices.

How many people from long beach actually fly in long beach airport? If people drive from downtown LA or anywhere else close to a HSR line, then saying that CAHSR doesn't serve LGB is meaningless.

PS, the $49 ticket is WITHOUT taxes. If you want people to take you seriously, you need to stop being so lazy or dishonest as to exclude taxes and fees. Taxes and fees add over 20% to the cost of the ticket, bringing it to $60 at least.

Sam said...

Anon,

You are incredibly dishonest or lazy, I can't figure out which.

$49 is the standard fare. It's $49 for a flight TOMORROW.

Um, no. $49 is the STARTING price and right now is a SALE price for tomorrow. Try searching for flights in mid-September and depending on the day, the price can be double or more. $49 is NOT the typical walk-up fare.

The question isn't why Amtrak should charge less for the Acela but why anyone should expect the California HSR to charge less for a trip that's twice the distance, at a higher speed, and that requires brand new ROW, railtrack and equipment. And not just a bit less, but so much less that it is competitive with airlines on the same routes. Do you have an answer or don't you?

Pricing is based on market demand and available capacity. You think that Southwest charges more for flights where they've rolled out new planes or invested in gate-area upgrades? Pricing has very little to do with stuff being "new" when it's planned to be in use for decades.

The fact that Acela CAN charge as much as they do for their comparably crappy service just tells me how much demand there is. With CAHSRs faster speed, higher capacity, etc, they will likely be able to charge significantly less in order to steal more passengers away from air than Acela does (and Acela already snags half the market, with their slow train - people still bid up the prices to 4-5 times bus prices and 50-100% more than air prices).

Anonymous said...

Those surveys found a total in-state flight traffic of about 13.2 million per year, or over 36 thousand per day in 2005, down from 15.8 million per year (43k per day) in 2000 (traffic was slowly recovering from 2001, but the economic downturn has slowed that).

Yet more irrelevant numbers. What, exactly, is "total in-state flight traffic?" Does it refer to all passengers on all flights that both takeoff and land within the state? All passengers on all flights that either takeoff or land within the state? Or what? As you concede, the "data includes flights between areas outside of LA and SF," so it wouldn't tell us the number of passengers between LA and SF even if it did not include connecting passengers.

mike said...

One way fares on JetBlue start at $49.

LOL. Starting at $49 is really expensive by European standards! Ryanair offers flights all over Europe starting at 5 pounds sterling ($8). And yet HSR thrives all over Europe.

Remember, the whole argument is about whether the European HSR experience can translate to California in any way. Providing evidence that US short-haul flights are MORE EXPENSIVE that European short-haul flights only hurts your case.

The price of an Acela ticket between New York and Washington is $150-200.

You appear to be unaware that Acela Express trains only offer business and first class tickets (starting at $120). Can you find a business class ticket between SF and LA for $49? Please tell me if you do, because I'm switching to that airline (heck, I'll switch if you can find it under $100). Coach class tickets are available on high speed Northeast Regional trains (formerly Acela Regional). Fares start at $49 for New York-Boston and New York-Washington, $33 Philly-DC, and $34 New Haven-Boston. Regional runs at 125 mph east or west of NYC (vs 135 mph for Express west of NYC and 150 mph for Express east of NYC).

And I'm still waiting for an answer on how many trains the California HSR will run between LGB and SJC each day, and how long will the trip take.

I don't understand what point you're trying to make here. The answer is either "dozens" or "zero." If the answer is "dozens", then it's unclear why you're asking the question. If the answer is "zero," then the followup question is how many flights land in the SF Transbay Terminal, in LA Union Station, in Redwood City or Palo Alto, or in ARTIC? Obviously the answer is also zero. The next question is where to most people want to go - SF Financial District, downtown LA, Disneyland, Stanford University, etc. - or Long Beach? See where your question is heading? (Hint: the answer isn't going to support your position)

Sam said...

It's quite clear by now that none of you has any idea how many passengers fly between the LA and SF metro areas each day. You're just making up numbers and stating them as if they are actual data. It's a joke.

We're still waiting for your actual data on the number of passengers from SFO/OAK/SJC to LAX/BUR/ONT/SNA/LGB. You're continuing to pretend that no one has offered you links to prove their numbers (two separate links with very similar data from two completely different sources have been provided to you), while you have yet to link to your "source" showing your claim of 6600 passengers per day.

mike said...

Yet more irrelevant numbers.

Yes, clearly the only relevant numbers are the ones you make up yourself to support your pre-determined position.

AndyDuncan said...

Yet more irrelevant numbers. What, exactly, is "total in-state flight traffic?" Does it refer to all passengers on all flights that both takeoff and land within the state? All passengers on all flights that either takeoff or land within the state? Or what? As you concede, the "data includes flights between areas outside of LA and SF," so it wouldn't tell us the number of passengers between LA and SF even if it did not include connecting passengers.

How about you read it and see.

Anonymous said...

With CAHSRs faster speed, higher capacity, etc, they will likely be able to charge significantly less in order to steal more passengers away from air than Acela does (and Acela already snags half the market, with their slow train - people still bid up the prices to 4-5 times bus prices and 50-100% more than air prices).

Utterly ludicrous. Acela barely covers its operating costs even at a price of $150-200 for a 220-mile trip with "sold out" trains. So, again, how could the California HSR possibly be competitive with $49 plane fares for a 420-mile trip that requires brand new and hugely expensive ROW, railtrack and equipment? It doesn't even pass the laugh test.

Anonymous said...

We're still waiting for your actual data on the number of passengers from SFO/OAK/SJC to LAX/BUR/ONT/SNA/LGB.

I don't know why you're waiting for that. You seem very confused. I haven't made any claim about the number of passengers on those routes. I reported the DOT 2007 passenger numbers for LA to SF and LA to Oakland.

The assertion in question is "Current daily air passenger traffic between SF and LA metro areas: ~38,000 passengers," remember? Can you substantiate that number or can't you? I'm waiting.

Sam said...

Anon, how is it that Kohl's was able to blow Mervyn's out of the water over the past few years in California? Using your logic, shouldn't all of the fancy new stores and other infrastructure that they had to build have put them at a disadvantage?

Bianca said...

I reported the DOT 2007 passenger numbers for LA to SF and LA to Oakland.

No, you made an assertion, that you did not back up with a link to your source.

You claim to get your numbers from DOT.

Show us.

Anonymous said...

I don't understand what point you're trying to make here.

I don't know why you don't understand it. HSR proponents claim that the California HSR would attract 50% or more of the passengers currently travelling by air between cities and metro areas along the proposed HSR route. LGB-SJC was specifically mentioned as an example. The plausibility of this claim rests on, among other things, the frequency and travel time of the proposed HSR service. Hence my question. The less frequent the service, the less competitive it would be. The longer the travel time, the less competitive it would be.

Sam said...

Echoing Barney Frank, I feel that further arguing with "Anonymous" would be like arguing with a dining room table. I have no intention of continuing until he puts some facts (with links) where his mouth is.

Anonymous said...

Show us.

Air Transport Association 2008 Economic Report. The data is on page 30.

Now show me the data substantiating the claim "Current daily air passenger traffic between SF and LA metro areas: ~38,000"

Rafael said...

@ anon @ 7:24pm -

you now have multiple data points all indicating a traffic volume of around 40,000 +/- 6000 per day for Bay Area to SoCal.

The document I pointed you to is an appendix to a larger study. That appendix clearly states that in 1998, 26% of all passengers into and out of the Bay Area were traveling in the "California Corridor". If you insist on being an a$$hat, go ahead and find MTC's definition of that term in the full report. You will no doubt discover that it corresponds closely to the routes chosen for the HSR network.

---

However, there won't be any HSR stations at LGB, JWA or LAX.

Note that there is a (legacy) rail ROW from LA Union Station to Cover St. just north of LGB. It could be used for a new Metrolink service, with the last mile to the airport terminals handled by high-capacity shuttle buses or else an unmanned people mover on an aerial.

Further south, there's a freight spur ROW past the Tustin Marine Air Corps Station, but tunnels to and under McArthur Blvd would be required before any Metrolink trains could reach the terminals at JWA. No such project is planned at this time.

LA Metro is considering how to connect LAX to HSR by developing the Harbor Subdivision Transit Corridor. Quite possibly, this will end up as a light rail route to tie it into the Crenshaw corridor up to the subway extension along Wilshire.

The Green Line will be extended north to LAX in the context of last year's Measure R. The section between Century/Aviation could end up as an unmanned people mover, though I hope they bite the bullet and run a single underground loop track past all the terminals. That could also be used for light rail up Crenshaw, over to Union Station and down to San Pedro/Long Beach Transit Center. A local loop at LAX would eliminate the shuttle bus traffic between the terminals and keep pedestrians off the busy road loop at the surface.

There are no plans yet for also extending the Green Line east to the Metrolink/HSR station at Norwalk/Santa Fe Springs, as that would require about 2 miles of subway tunnels under hwy 90.

gabe said...

Acela has offered fares as low as $99 from Washington to New York. This is similar to a Jetblue sale.

link

How could they possibly offer that? Now find a business class ticket on an airplane that can beat that. Otherwise, do some of your own homework. Just making guesses based on the acela is pointless.

I think you know the LGB-SJC example is flawed. How about this. What HSR line has had the least success taking passengers from airplanes? That should be your benchmark.

Anonymous said...

I have no intention of continuing until he puts some facts (with links) where his mouth is.

Well of course you don't. Because you know that in light of the Acela's ticket prices and performance, you can't possibly make a serious case that the California HSR would be economically rational.

Anonymous said...

Rafael,

For the umpteenth time, I'm not interested in your GUESSES about the number in question, whether based on vaguely related "data points" or anything else. SHOW ME THE PASSENGER NUMBERS.

You can't, of course. Because like all the other HSR advocates here, you just MAKE UP NUMBERS to support your predetermined conclusion. It's like a religion. The Cult of HSR. You're not as bad as Robert Cruickshank, but that's not saying much.

Anon checker said...

Anon, I've seen you make up more numbers that anyone in this thread - everyone here has stated where their numbers are from and the fact that they aren't passenger counts (not sure if such data exists in a place that we could find it).

On the other hand, you've claimed that JetBlue has $49 walk-up fares that HSR will need to compete against, when a quick search of their website shows SOME $49 fares (with taxes and fees that would be closer to $60), but mostly fares from $69 all the way up to $179 (!!!) each way. Why did you lie about the JetBlue numbers to fit your preconceived answer?

dave said...

@ anon

Your decision to post as anon shows your credibility, none whatsoever.

Rafael said...

@ anon @ 8:37pm -

the link you provided only shows the top 40 US city pairs for 2007 and average daily passengers numbers carried each way by members of the ATA. It's not a complete set of numbers, either.

Supposedly, the source of the numbers is the DOT. All airlines are required to report passenger volume data to FAA, but it looks fishy to me. Look at just the number of just Southwest's southbound weekday flights in the California Corridor (it does not serve LGB):

SFO-LAX: 10
SFO-BUR: 4
SFO-ONT: 6
SFO-SNA: 4
SJC-LAX: 9
SJC-BUR: 9
SJC-ONT: 5
SJC-SNA: 7
OAK-LAX: 14
OAK-BUR: 7
OAK-ONT: 8
OAK-SNA: 7
----------
Subtotal: 90 (southbound only)
Source: www.southwest.com (8/24/09)

The reservation system shows a lot of flights as "not available" in any class, perhaps in response to reduced demand during the recession. Not every seat on every plane will be sold, but I doubt SWA would fly that often if the planes were empty.

You should also be aware that CHSRA does not claim that HSR will replace short-hop flights entirely nor that the modal share it does capture will represent the bulk of its passengers. Indeed, it expects the majority will be people who currently drive, e.g. between the CV/AV and the Bay Area/LA basin as well as within these areas.

In other words, the majority of HSR trips will not cover the entire SF-LA/Anaheim route but only part of it. Any given seat on any given train may be occupied by more than one person during that train's trip.

In other words, HSR is not even intended to be a drop-in replacement for air travel, though a fraction of all passengers will use it that way. It's possible lots of people jumped to the wrong conclusion when they heard the headline message "SF-LA in 2h38m", assuming that would be the dominant city pair. Closer to the truth is that this is the primary design goal for the engineers.

Devil's Advocate said...

Although Rafael's projections of daily trains might be a little too rosy (96/day) however I don't see why California couldn't have the current number of trains serving the AVE corridor Madrid Barcelona (56 daily). I realize that density in the two Spanish cities is probably higher than LA and SF metros, and I also realize that gasoline in Spain is more expensive than California (although cheaper than France and Italy). However the two California metro areas have twice the population of the two Spanish ones, and budget airlines between MAD and BCN are very price competitive (under 50 Euros o/w). I think the same frequency of service of the AVE MAD-BCN is achievable in California. IF that is considered a success there, why should it be considered a failure here?

Robert Cruickshank said...

OK, this stuff about JetBlue is nonsense. Take it from someone who uses that very flight, SJC-LGB, fairly regularly for business.

I would much rather do that trip via high speed rail. I would also be willing to pay a premium to do so, even though I should note that once all fees are included, I have never been able to do that flight for less than $150 roundtrip.

Here's how it works, anon. I frequently have business in downtown LA. It might be in Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa's office, it might be in the offices of this or that political organization, it might be at my boss's office in Hollywood (which isn't downtown LA but is still in the center of the metropolis).

Flying into LGB is affordable but it is also a fucking pain in the ass. Last month I barely made it from my meeting at LA City Hall to LGB to catch my flight. Traffic on 101, traffic on 710, and traffic getting off the 405 in Long Beach. I literally ran to the gate and was 5 minutes before the door was shut and the flight was gone.

A high speed train to LA Union Station would be a godsend. Instead of renting a car, usually at $70-$100 for just 5 or 6 hours, I'd be taken right to the center of Southern California, to the hub of LA's considerable mass transit system. No more rushing to catch a JetBlue flight at LGB. No more weaving in and out of traffic on the 710 at 80mph. No more checking my watch and ducking out of important meetings because I'm flipped out about missing the last flight of the day.

And that doesn't even include the significant inconvenience of having to get to and from SJC from my home here in Monterey, which is itself an obnoxiously difficult and time-consuming process. I'd much rather head to Gilroy and take a train. Flying out of Monterey on short notice is simply not possible, unless you have $1000 you're willing to give me each time I have to fly.

Now you might argue that I'm unique, not everyone has to travel from Monterey to downtown LA on short notice (though many more people do it than you might expect). You might argue that JetBlue style flights from other Bay Area airports to other SoCal airports should be viable and eliminate the need for HSR.

To which I would call bullshit. First, since LGB is a "focus city" for JetBlue, you'd think they'd already serve LGB-SFO and LGB-OAK if the demand were there. But they're not, not yet. So I question the premise that these JetBlue flights are a wave of the future.

More importantly, the basic problems I encounter on my JetBlue trips to and from SoCal would still exist for folks making business trips between the Bay Area and LA. None of the SoCal airports are particularly well placed for people needing to get to meetings in the Santa Monica to downtown LA corridor that is one of the key centers of the global economy. LAX to Westwood still requires you to slog through the 405 traffic mess, and the FlyAway buses don't run frequently and get stuck in that same traffic. LAX to downtown LA suffers from the same problems. Burbank to Westwood is extremely difficult whether it's the Sepulveda or Cahuenga Pass that you use, and Burbank to downtown LA is actually a surprisingly difficult connection to make - most people I know take expensive and time-consuming cabs. And Burbank almost always costs more than a flight into LAX.

For someone working in downtown SF, there is literally nothing short of a Star Trek teleporter that can get you to the LA business centers more easily than will high speed rail (especially when it is combined with the Subway to the Sea). A lot of business travelers make that very trip, and HSR will be a revolutionary gift from the gods to those folks.

HSR has many things that make it quite valuable for this state. We should not forget that travel from the center of SF's business district to the center of LA's business district in 2 hours 38 minutes is one of them.

Robert Cruickshank said...

I get the strong suspicion that most people who criticize the value of California HSR have never actually spent very much time traveling between the two megalopolises of our state. I have. You cannot tell me that HSR will not make those trips much, much easier, more efficient, and more comfortable. Sure, there may be some people who stick to the planes. There will be many more people who will pack the TGV-like trains to the gills.

And even more people who will take the train one trip and the plane on the next trip, because now they will have options and flexibility which they most certainly do not have today.

mike said...

Utterly ludicrous.

Your answer doesn't even address his point. Can you even read the comments people are posting?

how could the California HSR possibly be competitive with $49 plane fares

How could European HSR possibly be competitive with $8.50 plane fares?

I reported the DOT 2007 passenger numbers for LA to SF and LA to Oakland.

Where is the link to the DOT website? Where does it specify what flights and passengers are or are not counted under this definition? Are the numbers a census of this subset of passengers or a sample? If the former, how are the data reported to DOT? If the latter, what is the sampling frame? Unless you can provide documented evidence to answer each of these questions, then you have no idea what numbers you're actually working with.

mike said...

Air Transport Association 2008 Economic Report. The data is on page 30.

LOL. You originally claimed the data was from DOT. Now you admit it is from a report by the airline industry lobbying group. The table in question vaguely claims that the numbers originate from the "Department of Transportation" but provides no references at all. At least the Cambridge Systematics document is an actual analytic report rather than an industry puff piece. The referenced table only contains only TWO of the 15 airport pairs that the rest of us documented, so you're missing up to 87% of the data. And you still have no clue what passengers and what flights are or are not being counted even for those two pairs. Incredible!

Rafael said...

@ Devil's Advocate -

96 trains each way is the number CHSRA forecast for year 2030. I agree that the service would be a great success with fewer than that, with some running as full-length trains to reduce operational risks during peak periods for local connecting transit (Caltrain, Metrolink).

@ Robert Cruickshank -

your points are well taken, so just a couple of questions:

a) Would you take Metrolink from LGB to LAUS if it were available?

b) Why do people use expensive cabs to get from BUR to LAUS? Anything wrong with Metrolink's existing Ventura line? It stops 500ft from the terminals.

c) I take it you're not employed by the state of California and therefore unable to take advantage of the $104 LAX-MRYunrestricted one-way fare available exclusively to state government employees. No advance purchase necessary. The federal GSA negotiates similarly sweet deals for federal employees. Small wonder everyone else gets hit with exorbitant fares.

Rafael said...

@ mike -

please look more carefully. At the bottom of page 30 of the ATA report, it actually says the numbers are based on DOT data. I suspect there are legal reasons for using those instead of collecting the same data directly from the member airlines.

Sam said...

@Rafael - I'm sure Robert will answer too, but the reason that I rarely take Metrolink from BUR to LAUS is that the service isn't frequent enough. If your flight gets in at 8am, it's a good option (I think you've got four or five trains within an hour of 8am), but later in the morning or in the afternoon it's just not something you can plan on using. You might be able to, but probably not. If you happen to miss the train by a minute, you're looking at at least an hour wait for the next one, if not more.

Robert Cruickshank said...

Sam explained the problem with Metrolink from BUR to LAUS. It's just not efficient for most folks. More frequent Metrolink service might help, sure, but a high speed train would be even better - combine your travels into a single journey.

The problem with Metrolink to LGB is that it's to my knowledge a very unlikely service to ever be inaugurated. And again, it might not be as efficient or desirable as a direct HSR trip to the Bay Area.

I did not know that about state employees and the flights from MRY to LAX. That is a pretty damn awesome fare. Unfortunately I am ineligible, as I am not a state employee.

lyqwyd said...

Anon, your source is a joke, the only thing you can conclude from that is that the number of passengers between SFO-LAX & OAK-LAX is about 6,600. Are you unaware of the fact that there are more than just those three airports in the Bay & LA?

I posted data that supports your 6,600 between SFO-LAX & OAK-LAX, but also fills in the gaps for all the other airports in the Bay & LA. And you call my data a "guess" even though it corresponds quite well with your claim.

Nobody here is saying there are significantly more passengers between SFO-LAX & OAK-LAX, all we are saying is that there are 5 other airports in the area, and many people fly to and from them. And that total number of passengers is about 40,000 per day.

Then you go to post some offer from jetblue's prices, but ignore the data in your own source for flight prices (about $90-$100 each way). If price is everything, and $49 is the real price, why doesn't jetblue take over and drive the average price to just $49?

Perhaps it is because that seat is not available to everybody, and there are taxes, airport fees, surcharges, etc. If I go to Virgin America I see them advertise for flights between SFO&LAX for $49, but when I search for tomorrow, the cheapest available seat is $119, and some seats were over $150, hey, that's just about what they charge on Acela! Fancy that.

Perhaps you don't understand how the airline industry works, those are teaser rates that are available for a limited number of seats, once the sell out, the price goes up.

YesonHSR said...

I am taken Metrolink from Burbank to LAUS early in the AM next week
NO HSR to SOCAl so I will fly Air Taco from OAK then downtown with Metrolink..GOD I cant wait till 2018..AM trains are OK inbound to LAUS at that point

Sun Rises, Sun Falls said...

I can get on any of JetBlue's three flights from Oakland to Long Beach tomorrow (Tuesday) for $59 one way.

Fancy that! Now that's a walk up fare. HSR certainly has got it work cut out for itself. All those route detours aren't going to help with competitiveness either.

Keep in mind that the ATA/DOT list includes the Top 40 U.S. City Pairs, so LAX-SFO and LAX-OAK are the only two that have enough passengers to get into the Top 40. The 38,000 passengers a day number is way off. I would say it is about 20,000 daily passengers between the Bay Area and the LA Metro.

I would certainly trust DOT's data collection over Cambridge Systematics bought-and-paid-for forecasts (117 million annual passengers!!!).

jim said...

@anon One way fares on JetBlue start at $49. The price of an Acela ticket between New York and Washington is $150-200. Given that it costs three or four times as much to travel half the distance on Amtrak's existing HSR-lite service, why should anyone in their right mind believe that the California HSR could be remotely competitive on price with the airlines how did acela manage to steal 40 percent of the market?

jim said...

@sun rises
I can get on any of JetBlue's three flights from Oakland to Long Beach tomorrow (Tuesday) for $59 one way

thats great for you but what about everyone else? All the people who wind up with an hsr station closer to them than a jet blue flight? A lost more people, are going to be closer to hsr stations than they are to major airports.

If I live in sf ( which I do) I can go a few blocks to hsr or I can spend 45 minutes on BART to get to sfo or oak then schlepp up to the people mover, then through TSA - an hour prior to my flight. then spend 20 minutes in those ridiculous new numbered signs southwest is using. please, wait for everyone to climb over each other trying to board and get luggage stowed ( meanwhile on the train Im already half way to fresno and half way through my second bloody mary and eggs benedict.

Then we taxi, hopefully no fog, then up in the air, out comes the peanut in the foil pouch.
then the whole freaking nightmare all over again as 130 people on cell phones drop luggage on my head as they trample each other to get off the plane.

you'd rather fly? knock yourself out.

Ill tell you what too - if its a matter of an extra 30 minutes on the train, but in comfort, millions will flock to rail.

and as for all the comparisons to spain etc... everyone is making this too complilcated in order to make their points.

its simple. if we build it, they will ride it. period. and more and more will ride each year. and as the popultion increases, even more will ride.

then add to that the immense flexibilty of service and expansion possibilites for future generations, and you blow airports out of the water.

Spokker said...

"I can get on any of JetBlue's three flights from Oakland to Long Beach tomorrow (Tuesday) for $59 one way."

How are you going to get from Long Beach Airport to anywhere else in Southern California? You're going to have to rent a car. At Union Station you have a multitude of relatively inexpensive options to get to your final destination. For some, downtown is a destination.

Spokker said...

"If I live in sf ( which I do) I can go a few blocks to hsr or I can spend 45 minutes on BART to get to sfo "

That's a dream compared to the transit situation around Long Beach Airport.

Alon Levy said...

Acela does too make back its operating costs. Including indirect costs, it profits 13 cents per passenger-mile in bad years (see page 59) and 21 in good years (see page 60).

無名 - wu ming said...

i have to say i'm thrilled to see people arguing over HSR and southern california for a change.

jim said...

What a load of crap - the "jet blue into long beach argument"

so jet blue flies to long beach and hsr won't go there. boo hoo.
guess what hsr will go to Irvine and Riverside, and Fresno, and Burbank, and jet blue doesn't go to any of those.

not only that. but the long beach airport is all of 12 miles from the anaheim hsr station.

12 miles.

12.

jim said...

I wish the trainophobes would at least argue something that doesn't sound like an episode of glen beck.

jim said...

and I do visit LA , and you know what.... getting too and from LAX has got to be the biggest nightmare west of I don't know where. someone built one of the busiest airports on earth, with an ocean on one side, and only one road to it, the most congested freeway in the world, on the other.

I mean for real. that place is straight up clusterfuck no matter how you slice it. the terminals, the parking, the transportation, the freeway, the whole thing.

My favorite part of it how it puts you... not close to any place that anyone wants to go in southern california along with 439 zillion other people who are also finding themselves not close to anyplace they want to be. you know if they were to make the 405 a toll road, they could afford to repave it solid gold within a month.

jim said...

I said earlier A lot more people, are going to be closer to hsr stations than they are to major airports

hmm now that I think about it... isn't that a very significant fact?

i mean, once hsr is built out, way way more californians will live closer to hsr stations than they will be to airports.

look at socal.

you have
Burbank
Ontario
Long Beach
LAX
John Wayne
San Diego

thats the usual 7.
but add hsr and the very same population now has
SYL
BUR
LAUS
NOR
ANA
IRV
IND
ONT
RIV
MUR
ESC
USD
SAN
Thats 13 locations. and that doesn't just mean 13 places to board for a trip instead of 7 choices, but it also mean 13 destinations from which to choose instead of 7, for both inbound pax as well as intra socal pax. try flying intra socal.

Hi im joe schmoe producer in hollywood and I need to get out to a shoot in la la land location x.

im not gonna fly from hollywood to riverside now am I? I sure can hop an hsr and be there in 33 minutes.

try that in a plane or a car.

the deniers are simply incapable or unwilling to acknowledge these aspects. They want to measure every thing in sf-la train versus plane terms.
and the benefits and flexibility of hsr grow exponentially with each station.

Rafael said...

@ Sun Rises, Sun Falls -

I still don't trust the numbers published by ATA. Southwest alone has enough capacity for 137 pax per plane, times 90 daily planes = over 12000 seats. That's each way.

Based in lyqwyd's comment @ 5:41pm, just under half of all flights in the California Corridor are operated by SWA, with some competitors using slightly larger planes. That implies over 25,000 available seats each weekday, in each direction.

The actual number of passengers depends on seat capacity utilization in that corridor. 20,000 total pax would imply something on the order of 40%, at which point every airline would be hemorrhaging money on the corridor. We know they do make quite a bit of money, so something on the order of 70-80% sounds far more plausible. That works out to 35,000-40,000 pax per day total (both direction) on a weekday, summed over all airlines.

Were you talking about 20,000 pax in each direction or both tallied together?

Rafael said...

@ jim - Joe Schmoe producer in Hollywood urgently needs to get to Riverside? Really?

Even sneakernet doesn't reach that far east ;^)

jim said...

ok well maybe not riverside but you get my point.


what is sneakernet?

jim said...

I like this blog cuz you can make up words like
"intra socal" and not only get away with it but have people actually know what you mean.

Rafael said...

@ jim -

"sneakernet" is the informal network of couriers that deliver reels/videos from e.g. special effects studios to film producers at the end of each working day so they can monitor progress and quality. It's a film industry thing, everything and everyone goes to the producer, hardly ever the other way around.

matt said...

@Jim,

I dont know if you were just using hyperbole, but the 405 really is the busiest highway in the United states. Although it is a bit behind highway 401 in Ontario, Canada.

jim said...

@rafael... ahh the movies. I love hollywood. I love LA for what it is. cali wouldn't be cali without it. I always wear sunglasses when I go there. ( never here)

@matt -- I was using hyperbole - but i figured it was close. actually I always thought the sta ma freeway portion of the 10 was busier.

I love to drive in socal. I could drive around there all day. its just so cool the way one can take the 101 to the 405 to the 10 the 110 to the 105 to the 710 to the 210 to the 215 to the 60 to the 57 to the 55 to the 73 and bam youre in laguna beach just like that.

oh well, at least we have the bridges up here.

jim said...

the "beach cities" lanes...

was that redondo/hermosa/manhattan or huntington/newport/laguna?

oh the person going on about long beach --- there a great breakfast place there called the prospector... ask for konnie with a k. for your waitress.

Brandon in San Diego said...

Jim @ 12:30am...

Perhaps we shuld call trainaphobes... Doing a Glen Beck?

mike said...

Hence my question. The less frequent the service, the less competitive it would be.

Then it looks like the answer is that there will be dozens of HSR departures every day and it will be highly competitive. Just like everywhere else in the world.

please look more carefully. At the bottom of page 30 of the ATA report, it actually says the numbers are based on DOT data.

Rafael, I saw the table footnote and noted it in my post. However, given that the anti-HSR crowd are dismissing the FAA data simply because they are contained in a Cambridge Systematics report commissioned by the CHSRA, then logic dictates that they must also dismiss the DOT data because they are contained in a public relations piece commissioned by the airline industry lobbying group. I'm not saying that I necessarily agree with their choices, but rather pointing out that their own arguments dictate this conclusion.

BruceMcF said...

Rafael said...
"What matters is the number of people who can reach the nearest HSR station in a "reasonable" amount of time. Of course, what is reasonable varies from person to person. However, anyone who wants to ride trains on a regular basis will probably have a relatively low tolerance for time spent getting to and from stations."

This is, of course, one of the reasons that HSR is not like commuter rail ... a far larger share of HSR trips, and an even larger share of passenger-miles, are by people who ride it infrequently. That is, after all, the way that longer distance travel works. Indeed, if you put in the walk that many people take for granted inside an airport in the middle of a transfer for a rail commute, it would absolutely kill trips requiring that connection ... but people still fly despite those walks.

Its perfectly reasonable to take the geometric mean population of the various destination/origin metropolitan area pairings per hour, and sum up those values for the corridor to get a rough metric for comparison of corridors. It will only be a rough guide, but we have been strongly biased in favor of capital subsidies to road and air for over eighty years, its not like we have finished all the obvious corridors and are looking for the marginal ones that are just on the threshold of viability.

Anonymous said...

LAX-SFO and LAX-OAK are the only two that have enough passengers to get into the Top 40. The 38,000 passengers a day number is way off. I would say it is about 20,000 daily passengers between the Bay Area and the LA Metro.

Sun Rises, Sun Falls, stop undermining the anti-HSR position!!! You are just GUESSING at how many passengers are flying between all the other SF/LA airports. You didn't even give any logic behind this made-up number! You need to SHOW EVERYONE THE DATA. The DOT figures are from 2007 anyway - who knows if they're even accurate anymore, especially since the unlisted airport pairs are served by Southwest, which has been doing much better than other airlines. You are even worse than the HSR advocates, making up your numbers with these ridiculous GUESSES!!!

jim said...

@anon
La and SF are two stations out of 25 and teh number of flights and people flying isn't even that relevant no matter the number. remove your blinders.

lyqwyd said...

Hey Anon, still waiting to see your numbers for the other 5 airports in LA&SF.

Still waiting to hear your response about how my numbers agree with yours, but mine include the major airports.

jim said...

don't forget to add in the people who don't travel now but will start traveling when it becomes so simple for them.

Bay Area Traveler said...

"A lot more people, are going to be closer to hsr stations than they are to major airports"

Jim, in northern california, you are aware of course that caltrain row is bounded on the west by sparsley populated mountain range? In other words draw a 20 mile radius around SFO you catch a lot of people. Draw a 20 mile radius around PA or RC - half of that circle will be empty.

And Peninsula caltrain line - no where NEAR freeway access. (Unless you consider a 2 mile - but25 MINUTE - drive from 101 to caltrain 'near'.)

Highly doubtful that more population will find HSR stations along the caltrain corridor convenient at all, compared to airports that have basically their own dedicated freeway exits, convenient short term and long term parking and car rental infrastructures. (No way will RC or PA grow these infrastructures in the middles of their residential walking downtown areas).

I can think of nothing more inconvenient frankly than the caltrain corridor, unless you live within spitting distance - and few in the bay area do. Heck I live in a town with a Caltrain station, and its STILL inconvenient.

If you know anything about bay area commuting, you know its wise to stay on the freeways, and stay off the feeder streets, which go immediatly into 25 mph residental heavy on the stoplights and driveways. It took me 20 minutes the other day just to move through the FOUR stoplights (in about 100 yards) off the Ralston exit to move from 101 to El Camino area. ON a SATURDAY MORNING! Excruciating.

People who think Caltrain corridor is a fabulous location for a big commute infrastructure on par with aiports - - plain stupid, or don't have a clue about the reality of road patterns in the Peninsula.

By the way, how far is it from Diridon to SJ Airport (not in miles but in travel time)? And Millbrae time to SFO? Wouldn't the logical location for a major HSR station be directly in or connected to the major airports?

A 101 route for HSR (perhaps high elevated) would directly hit both airports, and leverage the same feeder transportation infrastructures.

I get the conceptual interest in HSR, but I don't get the hell bent fascination with the unsuitable Caltrain corridor.

AndyDuncan said...

Air Transport Association 2008 Economic Report. The data is on page 30.

Glad you know how to read a chart, that data is for "each way", and surprise, surprise, is about half what other sources provide for the limited airports listed.

Does it refer to all passengers on all flights that both takeoff and land within the state? All passengers on all flights that either takeoff or land within the state? Or what? As you concede, the "data includes flights between areas outside of LA and SF," so it wouldn't tell us the number of passengers between LA and SF even if it did not include connecting passengers.

The 36k passengers/day is only for cities serviced by the HSR system, the others amount to a whopping 400 boardings per day. Hardly worth worrying about.

You'll never see precise destination passenger numbers between airports because the Airlines are under no obligation to release such data, and such data would be hugely valuable to their competitors.

That's why even the FAA had to do a ticket survey.

Bianca said...

I can think of nothing more inconvenient frankly than the caltrain corridor

Funny thing, though. Caltrain averages about 37,000 riders on weekdays. But when gas prices shot up last summer, ridership increased to over 46,000 per day. I guess we all have our own definition of "inconvenient."

If you know anything about bay area commuting, you know its wise to stay on the freeways,

To each their own, I guess, but I'd disagree. I'd say, if you know anything about Bay Area commuting, you know it's wise to live as close as you can to work and avoid freeways altogether, because the 101 sucks giant moose farts. And 101 is still better than 880.

I personally avoid 101 like the plague, it's almost always congested.

But you are free to spend your time sitting in traffic on the freeway, if that's what you like to do. Building HSR isn't going to stop you from using the freeways if you prefer.

AndyDuncan said...

I could drive around there all day. its just so cool the way one can take the 101 to the 405 to the 10 the 110 to the 105 to the 710 to the 210 to the 215 to the 60 to the 57 to the 55 to the 73 and bam youre in laguna beach just like that.

You're trying to be funny, but I drive the following once a week: the 90 to the 405 to the 105 to the 605 to the 91 to the 5 to the 57. Though if there's traffic on the 105 or the 91 I'll take the 90 to the 405 to the 22 to the 57.

Anonymous said...

Still waiting to hear your response about how my numbers agree with yours, but mine include the major airports.

Look. Here is what we know. SFO-LAX and OAK-LAX is 6,600 passengers. This is from DOT DATA, not GUESSES. But there are lots of other airports. That is true. So in SF you have SFO, OAK, SJC, CCR, HWD, NUQ, SQL, and PAO. In LA you have LAX, ONT, BUR, SNA, LGB, PMD, HHR, VNY, SMO, and TOA. Total number of airport routes: 8 x 10 = 80.

We know from DOT data that any unlisted airport routes have 2,832 passengers or less. Could be 2,832. Could be 2. You're just guessing at that point. No DATA.

So max passengers for the 78 unlisted airport routes is 78 x 2832 = 220,896.

So the REAL number of daily air passengers between SF and LA is MORE than 6,600 and LESS than 227,496. Could be 10,000. Could be 20,000. Could be 38,000. Could be 50,000. Could be 100,000. Could be 150,000. Could be 200,000. All guesses! All equally valid until we find the full DOT data!

Now, some of you silly HSR advocates might say, "Oh, Anon, but I don't think I can buy a ticket into Hayward Executive Airport! I don't see it on my made up flight schedule! I didn't even know the IATA code until you wrote it!"

To which I say:

1) Does your flight schedule show flights from 2007 when the DOT data were collected? No, I didn't think so.

2) Does your flight schedule show small commercial operators like Ameriflight and Sierra Pacific Airlines? No, I didn't think so.

3) Does your flight schedule show the increasingly popular air taxi services? No, I didn't think so.

4) Does your flight schedule show charter flights? No, I didn't think so.

5) Does your flight schedule show flights that transport non-humans, e.g. Pet Airways? Did you even realize that Pet Airways has a hub in Hawthorne Municipal Airport?? NO, I DIDN'T THINK SO.

I could go on, but my point is clear. All this flight schedule mumbo-jumbo is just guessing. Could be 200,000 passengers daily between LA and SF. Without ALL of the DOT data we'll never know.

AndyDuncan said...

In other words draw a 20 mile radius around SFO you catch a lot of people. Draw a 20 mile radius around PA or RC - half of that circle will be empty.

Radii are a terrible means of judging convenience, but even if you were to do that, drawing such a line around the transbay terminal would get you more than SFO, and there's also a HSR stop planned for SFO/Milbrae, so if that turns out to be so convenient, then they can increase the number of trains that stop there.

The reason that Airports aren't a good place for stations is because the only people who are going TO the airports are people who work there. Everyone else is going somewhere else, and the HSR stations can, and will, be closer to those destinations.

The ridership forecast only expects to get 1/3rd of the in-state air travel demand (though they expect that demand to grow to about 1/3rd more than it was in 2000). So even if you're right, that most people will still find the airport more convenient, you're in agreement with the ridership estimates.

Anonymous said...

Bay Area Traveler is totally correct. Besides the residents of Palo Alto & surrounds will dig in for a protracted fight over the level of aerial expansion that the CHSRA envisions. They would accept the planned upgrade of Caltrain; they would acccept a BART subway; but the consensus will be against the combined Caltrain-hsr unless it is in tunnel. Apparently Kopp-Diridon-Bechtel have rulled out trenching.

One temporary approach would be to halt at San Jose until the Peninsula can agree on a plan. Remember if BART had been successful in grabbing the Caltrain ROW decades ago the hsr would have had to engineer a 101 route. It can still be done.

As far as the statewide picture is concerned this fixation with airline trafic patterns overlooks other key issues. They are among others, operating costs, fares and customer profile.

The CHSRA will most assuredly be organized by militant labor, as with BART. Even with government subsidy(unquestionably required to keep the hsr running)fares will be substantial, as with BART.

That's why the focus on serving the San Joaquin Valley is dubious. This is a largely rural area with high levels of automobile use and very little public transportation. AFAIK neither Fresno nor Modesto have any plans for light rail but have do have for more freeways. Low income people and/or people who tend to travel in families or groups will still find driving much cheaper than paying multiple fares. And buses will still have lower fares than the hsr.

The hsr's core market is SF Bay Area to LA-San Diego making the I-5 Grapevine clearly the way to go.

Bianca said...

Do you insist on data for everything, Anonymous @10:24am? When the news says "markets were up today" do you insist on exact numbers? When the weather forecast says "another hot one" do you really need to know whether it's 92 or 94 degrees outside?

It's a very comfortable perch you've taken for yourself, demanding hard numbers that you know aren't available.

We can tell you how many planes go back and forth between the Bay Area and the LA Basin. And we can tell you what the capacity is of each of those planes.

No one can tell you how many butts were actually in the seats on those planes, because airlines don't release that kind of data.

Here's the thing: Airlines aren't charities. If a route isn't profitable, they cancel it.

You don't need confidential airline data to know that there is enough passenger demand to justify 350+ flights a day between the two regions.

That's an awful lot of jet fuel to expend to bring a plane up to cruising altitude for 10 minutes before starting to descend again.

And if that's not good enough for you, so sorry, let me call a whaaaaaambulance for you.

Devil's Advocate said...

This is a futile argument. Obviously there will be individual instances where it will be more convenient to fly and others where it will be more convenient to take the train. Even assuming similar ticket prices, if I live in San Leandro and I have a meeting at the NBC or Disney office in Burbank I'll probably find it more convenient to take a SWA flight OAK-BUR. Whereas if I live in San Francisco and I have a meeting in downtown LA probably I'll find the HSR more convenient.
There isn't a solution valid for everybody. That's why you still have people who fly between MAD and BCN and others who take the train. Even if the market is split 50/50 between air and rail, the HSR is still economically viable. Half of 38000 passengers daily would still be about 50 trains a day (assuming an average of 350-400 passengers/train, which isn't low even by EU standards). And that doesn't even consider those who are currently driving and will switch to HSR. Note that the AVE corridor from Madrid to Barcelona has 28 AVE trains and 1 nightly per direction (58 trains/day in total), and that line is widely considered a success.

Anonymous said...


Here's the thing: Airlines aren't charities. If a route isn't profitable, they cancel it.


Well, they are losing money...

Do you insist on data for everything, Anonymous

Yes.

When the news says "markets were up today" do you insist on exact numbers?

Yes. Can't even be sure there are people living in San Francisco until 2010 Census comes out. Seemed like there were last time I went up there. But maybe they are all commuters and tourists. It's not my place to GUESS. Maybe no one lives there anymore! Then how many people will board HSR at Transbay Terminal? Maybe zero? Only place I'm confident people live in is Palo Alto.

looking on said...

For those in this blog that want more than just the piling on of why we need high speed rail, read this:

http://www.cato-at-liberty.org/2009/08/24/high-speed-fail/


High-Speed Fail


And as the Obama administration has just released a 10 year budget forecast that is totally mind boggling, not only can't California not afford HSR, the county can't either. Time to get real.

BruceMcF said...

Looking on said: "... Cato Institute..." (Sourcewatch)

Yup, conclusions and arguments bought and paid for by ExxonMobile, the American Petroleum Institute, General Motors, Toyota and Volkswagon are precisely what we need to guide us to a New Energy Economy.

Anonymous said...

BTW, no one seems to have the right numbers for passengers between SF and the LA area.

Why isn't anyone taking into account the number of passengers that are on a continuing trip; ie coming from Tokyo to LAX, but with a stop at SFO; or from SEA to LAX with a stop at SFO. Surely you don't expect any of these travelers to take the train, but they are certainly counted in the passengers going from SFO to LAX.

I noted on the Daniels presentation, that he stated he had passenger projections now up to the 90% level; I guess that not good enough to release just now. They must be cooking up their numbers to make sure their now 2035 projections will look even more rosy. Still no business plan and they keep spending money; why not, its not theirs.

One thing we do know about these promoters, Kopp and Diridon. They keep predicting numbers that just never come true. Its time for everyone to realize what nonsense this all is.

Anonymous said...

@ Bay Area Traveler

Stop undermining our anti-Caltrain-HSR corridor position! 101 lies just west of the Bay! How many people live in the marshes? How many people live under water? Zero? Yeah that's what I thought. With these kinds of arguments we'll never get HSR moved to 101! I hope you don't live in Palo Alto. Don't want your kids interacting with mine. Might make them less smart...

Anonymous said...

@Anonymous @11:43

Stop GUESSING at where the travelers are coming from! You're even worse at guessing than those HSR promoters! SEA to LAX changing planes in SFO?!? Wow, that's absurd! Please man, get yourself a new travel agent! Now! You're undermining all our arguments against HSR with these antics. You and Bay Area Traveler.

AndyDuncan said...

Yes. Can't even be sure there are people living in San Francisco until 2010 Census comes out. Seemed like there were last time I went up there. But maybe they are all commuters and tourists. It's not my place to GUESS. Maybe no one lives there anymore! Then how many people will board HSR at Transbay Terminal? Maybe zero? Only place I'm confident people live in is Palo Alto.

Well, I thought I'd seen a lot of arguments against HSR, but this is the first time I've seen an existentialist argument against it. Congrats, you've broadened my understanding.

Anonymous said...

@looking on

Great. Cite O'Toole. Really brilliant, man. Did you even read the article? His entire argument is that Japan should rip up HSR because auto VMT continues to gain share! Know what else has lost even more share in Japan and US? Walking! Now we're going to have some unholy alliance of HSR advocates and Cato wingnuts telling us to rip up Palo Alto sidewalks to make way for more roads AND more HSR. Awful! Geez, are you some sort of closet HSR supporter?

AndyDuncan said...

For those in this blog that want more than just the piling on of why we need high speed rail, read this:

All that does it paraphrase Glaesser's original flawed piece. So let's just look at how this happened:

1: Glaesser writes a poorly constructed back-of-the napkin cost-benefit ridership analysis while ignoring more detailed analyses that have been done on full-sized sheets of paper (generally many, many sheets)

2: Samuelson writes a piece about how high speed rail isn't going to work, treating Glaesser's analysis as factual and just as reliable as all the other ridership analyses

3: O'Toole writes a piece about how Samuelson wrote a piece about how Glaesser wrote a piece about how HSR doesn't make sense based on his own flawed numbers.

How about those three rip apart the actual ridership projections of a real line and tell us why they're overly optimistic instead of playing back-of-the-soggy-napkin with each other.

I'm all for reasoned debate, but this isn't it. This is just, as anon pointed out, making up numbers and pretending they match your preexisting ideological condition.

Robert Cruickshank said...

These arguments are becoming silly in their lack of reliance on evidence. Look again at the chart in this post on Spain, how the AVE attracted riders from planes, automobiles, and created its own demand. Look again at the stats on the Madrid-Barcelona AVE, which within one year of operation took 40% of the world's busiest air route in a nation whose density and geography are more similar to California's than virtually anywhere else.

California voters have already made it clear they think HSR will work. The ridership studies and real-world experience bear that out. I know dedicated HSR opponents will never accept this, not until the trains are up and running and meeting their ridership goals (and even then they'll deny its success).

lyqwyd said...

Anon, here's what we know about your numbers: They are from a PDF that claims to take data from the DOT.

That's it, everything else is your "guess", you just won't admit it.

Did the PDF lie and make up numbers? Nobody knows.

Assuming the numbers are from the DOT, how did they arrive at those numbers? Nobody knows, perhaps it's a survey, maybe they got them from the airlines. Until you can provide support for those numbers you are just "guessing".

Here's what we know about my numbers:

They come from the FAA & the BTS, both agencies under the DOT.

My numbers are from June 2009. If you weren't so lazy you would have followed the link I provided and found that out for yourself.

My numbers include only major airlines that carry human passengers, again, can be found by just following the link. If you include minor carriers and minor airports and pets the numbers only go up.

My numbers are reproducible, go here and you can get the raw data. But of course that's too much work for you, why do any research yourself when you can just "guess"?

Airlines don't run empty airplanes, if there are too few riders they cut service to keep the load factor up.

You only know anything about Palo Alto, I'll certainly agree with that, you've displayed your complete ignorance on just about every other subject.

Bianca said...

(and even then they'll deny its success).

Indeed. Seeing Randal O'Toole say "high-speed rail doesn’t work in Europe or Asia" proves your point.

If it doesn't work, why do they keep building more of it?

Anonymous said...

New polls now have HSR support in the 45% range, down over 8 percentage points from the approval of Prop 1A last fall.

It will fall further and further. Let's just hope for a new ballot maeaure that will stop the issuance of the Prop 1A bonds and kill off this monster

Bay Area Traveler said...

Duncan - you miss the point - airports have a transit infrastructure built up adjacent to the terminals themselves. HSR should leverage these transit infrastructures not attempt to create all news ones in random (residential) spots. What a gross duplication of effort/cost across the state, and not likely to be successful in terms of space, and community willingness to redevelop prime real estate into parking lots, bus terminals and car rentals lots.

As for this completely weird statement: "The reason that Airports aren't a good place for stations is because the only people who are going TO the airports are people who work there." Huh? What about travelers? So you would imply that Millbrae is a good station location because Millbrae is a destination unto itself??? Where are people going that are getting off at the Millbrae station? Millbrae? C'mon. Where would people be going that are getting off in Redwood City? Redwood City? Stupid. (Have you ever been to Redwood City? For What?)

They'll need transportation infrastructure once they get off the HSR.

You're exactly right though - people who get off planes need to get somewhere other than the station. Period. No one STAYS at the airport as their end point - and the same will be true for people getting off HSRs.

Duncan - yes simply drawing a circle on a map IS a terrible way of measuring convenience. Same with googling air travel stats or census bureau populatio density statistics.

Someone from CHRSA really ought to get out to the Peninsula caltrain route and see how truly inconveniently located it is. The caltrain tracks are miles of extruciating residental roads from 101 and have absolute horrid drive time accessibility.

Plus most of the communities are about 'traffic calming' - that means slowing down traffice, and reducing wide streets to ONE LANE to make things safer and slower for kids. That's NOT conducive to big transportation feeder systems.

I've lived and worked in the Peninsula for more than 45 years, and haven't once had a compelling enough reason to seek out Caltrain for any real useful purpose. Let alone a longer distance train trip. Not to say I haven't ever been on Caltrain - truly a pain in the butt made only marginally bearable by virtue of unbearabley expensive parking in the city of San Francisco.

And the idea of getting on with bags? kids? not in a million years. It immediately becomes more cost and time effective to just park in the city.

Sam said...

Where are these "polls" from?

Anonymous said...

More importantly, recent polls show that 94% of Californians don't know anything about the Southern Pacific Railroad. Hopefully we can get a new proposition that will retroactively erase the Southern Pacific and all its rights and former deals. Then the Caltrain Corridor will default back to the cities. We can shut down Caltrain. Build some parks. Maybe allow a little development if they show us enough $$$. That's the plan. Don't like? Move to Nevada!

Sam said...

Bay Area Traveler - do you know where the Millbrae (Caltrain/BART) station is now (and where the HSR station will be)? Directly off the freeway across 101 from SFO.

Right now, for air travel, everyone on the peninsula must drive to SFO (off of 101) or SJC (off of 87). With HSR, there will be stations at Millbrae/SFO (off of 101) and at Diridon Station in San Jose (off of 87, just further south). In addition to those two freeway-adjacent stations, there will be stations in Redwood City or Palo Alto and downtown San Francisco.

How will having the same number of freeway-adjacent stations plus two that are not possibly cause "failure" because the stations are not near freeways?

You're not making any sense.

Robert Cruickshank said...

I haven't seen any such polls. Anon, cite your source.

There is a problem in that virtually no elected officials in California are taking a strong leadership position for HSR. I don't think that's because they're afraid to or skeptical of the project. Instead it seems it's not really on anyone's radar.

In particular I think our Senators would do well to be pushing it more strongly. Boxer could use it to help her reelection bid next year, and Feinstein has some fences to mend with her base (not that she'd ever admit it).

Rafael said...

@ Bay Area Traveler -

you might want to read Clem's post on Why They Chose the Caltrain Corridor.

It wasn't because they wanted to have a fight with NIMBYs. It's because Southern Pacific had the prescience to buy enough land to someday fit four tracks. They did sell some of it to developers when they needed some cash, which is why the corridor has some narrow sections.

Caltrain's plans call for the number of trains to double from 5 to 10 each way during rush hour, capacity per train to go up and ridership to triple by 2025, precisely because 101 is so congested. That means the Caltrain corridor will have to be fully grade separated in any case before long, otherwise the remaining grade crossings would be closed almost permanently during rush hour.

Running only the HSR tracks in the 101 corridor would only make sense if the carpool lanes there were sacrificed to make room for them. That's not going to happen. Dozens of miles of tall rail overpasses over existing freeway overpasses or tunnels deep enough to avoid flood risks would be exceedingly expensive. Same for 280, which may also contain sections too steep for HSR trains to negotiate.

That essentially leaves the Caltrain corridor as the only option, given that AB3034 as approved by voters mandates that HSR trains must reach the Transbay Terminal Center in San Francisco in phase 1 (in no more than 2h42m from LA Union Station).

The only remaining questiona are whether the grade separation project will support 2, 3 or 4 tracks and, at what elevation the will run in each location. Right now, the plan is for four tracks all the way because Caltrain and CHSRA envision a combination of slow local and fast express service side-by-side. Complicating the picture are gradient, regulatory and maintenance overhead considerations related to heavy freight trains.

IF these three operators/planners all agree to adjust their individual service models, perhaps fewer than four tracks might be enough (except at selected locations). That's a big IF, though.

Note that a modern HSR train at 125mph does not generate more noise than an FRA-compliant commuter train at 79 mph. Caltrain's new EMU equipment will by much quieter, an improvement that comes on top of the elimination of bells and whistles. CHSRA's plans call for the fast trains to run on the inside tracks, in part because that increases the distance to the nearest houses.

Anonymous said...

Palo Alto Anon @ 12:11 PM,

While you're right that Cruickshank and Friends are fast and loose with the data and stuporously blind to contrary evidence, you are not much better in ignoring reality.

United actually operates flights from SEA to LAX that stopover in SFO. Have you heard that SFO is a United hub???

Karen said...

I have to question your math. The true avg density is the total population/total square miles. THe way you calc'd it SF's very high density skews it the overall density very much higher. I used the numbers from the gov't estimates for 2008 here http://quickfacts.census.gov/qfd/states/06/06059.html.

The numbers should be
Total population:18,540,977
Total area in sq. miles 27493.11
Total density per sq mile: 674.39
Total density per sq km: 260.38

Anonymous said...

Have you heard that SFO is a United hub???

Yes. And unlike you I also know that LAX is a United hub. In fact it's even larger than SFO.

I'm reality based and against HSR. No idea what you are. Other than in need of a new travel agent.

jim said...

@bay area traveler jim If you know anything about bay area commuting, "


Ive been using bay area transit for 40 years. I know more about it than most. 9 no too mentionworking for a transit agency)

I'm well aware of what it means to live in the bay area.

and let me tell you that if someone lives in mountain view, or san francisco or redwood city, or san carlos or belmont or los altos or even milbrae,

and they need to get to either the central valley or southern california, and they have a choice of geting to and from sfo or san jose versus a choice of 4 different hsr stations -- they will be very lieky to use hsr. first. if they are close, they will get dropped off ofr take a cab. second all four stations can be reached by public transit. third, if they do drive and park... I know you don't expect me to believe that some one who lives in Menlo park is going to drive up or down the 101 to the airports if they can get hsr at PA.

furthermore, and most important - hsr is going to get them closer to their southern cali destination than LAX 99 percent of the time. unless a lot of people are trying to get to el segundo.

further, most hsr stations are going to be located in spots where there are already existing train stations with service- and the infrastructure - transit rental cars taxis etc are already in place.

you can not win this argument because hsr is a superior product no matter how you slice it.

jim said...

@andyduncan--You're trying to be funny, but I drive the following once a week.....:

you poor thing. so the fun has worn off for you I assume. ;-)

jim said...

Bay Area Traveler said...
Duncan - you miss the point - airports have a transit infrastructure built up adjacent to the terminals themselves. HSR should leverage these transit infrastructures not attempt to create all news ones in random (residential) spots. What a gross duplication of effort/cost across the state, and not likely to be successful in terms of space, and community willingness to redevelop prime real estate into parking lots, bus terminals and car rentals lots.

you have got to be kidding.

do you have any idea how much easier it is to get to diridon station on transit from the entire valley than it is to get to the airport on transit from the entire valley? ace/ccjpa/caltrain/amtrak/vta rail/vta bus/ and soon bart/ all converge there--- as in RIGHT inside. do you know many public transit lines serve san jose airport? ONE. the number 10 bus.

two if you count light rail which is further away than anyone would ever walk with luggage.

I wonder what you actually know about bay area life?

jim said...

@anon The hsr's core market is SF Bay Area to LA-San Diego making the I-5 Grapevine clearly the way to go."


clearly - you don't know anything about transportation or california.

Anonymous said...

I'm reality based and against HSR. No idea what you are. Other than in need of a new travel agent.

You still use a travel agent? A quick check of Orbitz shows that Virgin America also has SEA-LAX service that connects in SFO, and United's best rate between SEA-LAX goes through SFO. Are you one of those Peninsula geriatrics that still pine for the good ol' days? Your stubborn, grumpy demeanor reflect such a demeanor. The Palo Alto population certainly skews old.

jim said...

I just have to point something out very clearly to bay area traveler - about having an idea on how to get places....

so lets see.... hsr will be less convenient than the airport.....

san jose airport terminals -served by one, ONE vta bus. period.

san jose diridon - served by - and all under one roof -

7 vta bus lines
light rail
hwy17x to santa cruz
dash
monterey salinas transit
caltrain
ace
amtrak cap corridor
amtrak 11/14
ACE
and eventually bart

tell me again about convenience.

not only is the above true
but MST and HWY 17x
can both be purchased in conjunction with amtrak tickets.

or,
there's that one bus to san jose airport. that serves no one without a transfer point right from the get go.

Anonymous said...

Jim, what's all your fixation with buses and feeder trains to SJ Airport vs Diridon. Who cares? Where do those things get you (precisely no where fast). First of all, transit? Tell me about long term and short terms parking, freeway access (for taxi's driver and shuttles), and rental cars? Because around here, that's primarily how people get from home to station.

And, that's all bully for Diridon. Unfortunatey some morons think its absolutey necessary to take this HSR down the Peninsula (PAST SJ), stop in RC or PA (at which there will be virtually zero (auto) transportation options, like parking, freeway access or rental cars), and to Millbrae - and what the hell is in Millbrae and why go there - an AUTO or BUS drive to SFO? A connection to Caltrain?

Hey, you can connect to Caltrain in SF and SJ. Why are they wasting all the money to extend the HSR past SJ? BEcause a few weenies can't walk 100 feet across the platform to change trains in SJ? What a waste. Is the HSR value proposition really so fragile it can't bear a Caltrain to HSR transfer in SJ? That's pure crap.

Anonymous said...

The 38,000 "estimate" is nonsense. You cannot estimate the number of passengers making trips that start in the LA area and end in the SF area, or vice versa, simply by counting the number of seats flown between those areas and multiplying by a load factor. The vast majority of the passengers on those flights are not making a trip that starts and ends in California. They're making a connection to or from a flight serving a city outside the state, or even outside the country. Don't you idiots know anything about how the hub-and-spoke system works?

jim said...

well anon, while you continue to live in 1972, the rest of us will be living in the 21st century.

jim said...

you can continue to ignore reality if you like.

but ill say it again... this isnt just about getting people from sfo to lax this is about moving millions of californians from lots of different places to lots of other different places around the state. its abou tmore than just replacing air travel. its about adding another option. of course you don't care abou that, you just dont want hsr on the caltrain row so reality doesnt have to come into play for you. and if you preger to fly knock yourself out, but millions of californians are going to use hsr.

AndyDuncan said...

The vast majority of the passengers on those flights are not making a trip that starts and ends in California.

That's hilarious.

Rafael said...

@ anon @ 4:36pm -

HSR will go to San Francisco because that's what voters approved last November. The cities of SF and San Jose plus Caltrain all wanted what's being proposed and voters in every peninsula city except Atherton approved that.

Buyers' remorse now because peninsula residents didn't understand what they were voting for isn't going to fly. You snooze, you lose. Elections have consequences.

Changing the mandate of AB3034 would require an amendment - 2/3 majority in each house - plus a new ballot initiative. The only other legal avenue is to sue CHSRA regarding their implementation of the EIR/EIS process. One such lawsuit is pending, others may follow.

Unless and until the legal situation changes, the project-level process will proceed based on quad-tracking a fully grade separated Caltrain corridor. There is substantial technical flexibility on how to achieve that, but someone's got to pay the difference for any solution that is fancier than the one CHSRA used for cost estimation purposes.

Rafael said...

@ anon @ 4:57pm -

ok, so you're telling me that all these people flying from SFO/OAK/SJC to LAX/BUR/ONT/SNA (or vice versa) every day do so to catch a connecting flight?

Some will, no doubt. But most simply want to get to the other end of the state.

Anonymous said...

Don't you idiots know anything about how the hub-and-spoke system works?

Yes, we all forgot about the giant hub operations at Ontario and Oakland...

Even SFO and LAX are hardly hub airports compared to others in the US. They're mostly just hubs for outgoing international traffic and a little bit of west coast traffic with United. If Southwest is using Oakland as a "hub" for getting LA area passengers in, why do all of the LA airports that they fly out of fly to almost all of the exact same places?

wmata said...

I think this thread is the poster child for restricting anonymous comments. Robert, I'd really suggest restricting comments to those people willing to use a handle, if nothing else than to reduce confusion.

John Thacker said...

average: 2,138 persons per square mile over nine counties served by HSR.

You're absolutely terrible at math. Please don't insult Gleaser. You summed all nine densities and then divided by nine. I checked by doing it by hand. WTF?

The average density is computed by taking the total population and dividing it by the total area. You need to look at the census data for each county.

Actual numbers:
Total population:18,540,977
Total area in sq. miles 27493.11
Total density per sq mile: 674.39

Congratulations, you ended up overstating the average density by claiming that it was over three times the actual value. I have even less faith in Californian HSR supporters now.

Anonymous said...

why do all of the LA airports that [Southwest] fly out of fly to almost all of the exact same places?

They don't. They don't even fly to approximately the same places. You don't know what you're talking about. The more HSR proponents try to argue for their position, the more ignorant they reveal themselves to be.

John Thacker said...

San Francisco County is very dense, 9999 people per square mile. But it's very small, 46.69 square miles.

Tulare County is not very dense, 76.3 people per square mile. But it's very large, 4,823.97 square miles.

You can't simply average the densities to get average density.

Those who can't do math shouldn't throw stones.

Anonymous said...

ok, so you're telling me that all these people flying from SFO/OAK/SJC to LAX/BUR/ONT/SNA (or vice versa) every day do so to catch a connecting flight?

No, not "all" of them. Most of them flying into or out of the major airports. That is why you couldn't reconcile your idiotic "count the seats and multiply by load factor" nonsense with the passenger numbers reported by the DOT.

Sam said...

San Francisco County is very dense, 9999 people per square mile. But it's very small, 46.69 square miles.

San Francisco County is about 17k/sqmi. The reason it shows 9999 is that the field length for the census data was limited to four digits.

County level densities really don't matter anyway. The only density that should matter is urbanized area (since half of even San Mateo County is undeveloped mountains). I don't have the time to do it right now, but that information is all on the census site.

Sam said...

They don't. They don't even fly to approximately the same places. You don't know what you're talking about. The more HSR proponents try to argue for their position, the more ignorant they reveal themselves to be.

They don't? I can't go to Phoenix or Las Vegas or Denver or Seattle or Portland or Salt Lake City or Tucson from those airports direct? Damn those airport websites and them having the wrong destinations in them. They'll even let me BUY a ticket for places that they don't go! Please let me know how many DIRECT destinations that OAK offers on Southwest that ONT doesn't and an estimate of how many ONT to OAK passengers are using OAK as a "hub" airport for SWA.

Anonymous said...

Buyers' remorse now because peninsula residents didn't understand what they were voting for isn't going to fly. You snooze, you lose. Elections have consequences.

You seem to have this truly bizarre idea that the result of a single election is somehow binding forever and forever and can never be reversed, blocked or obviated through subsequent elections, legal action, lack of funding or anything else. I hate to break it to you, but fooling the voters into passing Prop 1A was just the first small step on a very long and winding road to an actual working high-speed rail system. For a variety of reasons, including the rising public opposition in the peninsula, your rail fantasy will almost certainly never come true.

John Thacker said...

San Francisco County is about 17k/sqmi. The reason it shows 9999 is that the field length for the census data was limited to four digits.

Yes of course you're right. Luckily my calculations used the total population and area numbers, which had no such problems, unlike Bianca's calculations.

County level densities really don't matter anyway. The only density that should matter is urbanized area (since half of even San Mateo County is undeveloped mountains). I don't have the time to do it right now, but that information is all on the census site.

Well, what really matters is something like density in a cylindric section a certain distance from the train line that people could reasonably use to commute to the train. Or just population within that distance divided by length of the line, with a scaling factor that gives greater weight to people who live closer.

If you just count urbanized area density near the line, then that's not right, because you would give a higher score to a line that had one dense city and a bunch of undeveloped mountains near the track than to a line with the same dense city and some less dense towns along the way. It's obviously better to have extra urbanized areas, even less dense, near the line than undeveloped mountains instead.

It doesn't change that Bianca's math is ridiculous.

Anonymous said...

Thacker writes

"It doesn't change that Bianca's math is ridiculous."

Typical lawyer's nonsense. She doesn't want to listen to anyone, just spew out the nonsense.

Anonymous said...

I can't go to Phoenix or Las Vegas or Denver or Seattle or Portland or Salt Lake City or Tucson from those airports direct?

You can go to some of those cities from some of those airports direct. You can't go to Portland direct from any of them.

Please let me know how many DIRECT destinations that OAK offers on Southwest that ONT doesn't

Sixteen.

Damn those airport websites and them having the wrong destinations in them.

Damn Sam for not knowing what he's talking about.

John Thacker said...

They don't? I can't go to Phoenix or Las Vegas or Denver or Seattle or Portland or Salt Lake City or Tucson from those airports direct? Damn those airport websites and them having the wrong destinations in them. They'll even let me BUY a ticket for places that they don't go! Please let me know how many DIRECT destinations that OAK offers on Southwest that ONT doesn't and an estimate of how many ONT to OAK passengers are using OAK as a "hub" airport for SWA.

Yes, they don't. Did you forget to click show Nonstop Service Only on the webpage?

Nonstop flights from ONT on SWA go to Las Vegas, Nashville, Oakland, Phoenix, Sacramento, and San Jose (CA) only.

You cannot fly direct from ONT on SWA to Denver or Seattle or Portland or Salt Lake City or Tucson

Nonstop flights from OAK on SWA: Albuquerque, Austin, Boise, Burbank, Chicago-Midway, Denver, Houston-Hobby, Kansas City, Las Vegas, Los Angeles, Nashville [seasonal], Ontario (CA), Orange County, Phoenix, Portland (OR), Reno/Tahoe, Salt Lake City, San Diego, Seattle/Tacoma, Spokane.

So, the full list of out of state destinations that you can travel to directly from Oakland that you cannot directly from ONT on Southwest is: Albuquerque, Austin, Boise, Burbank, Chicago-Midway, Denver, Houston-Hobby, Kansas City, Portland (OR), Reno/Tahoe, Salt Lake City, San Diego, Seattle/Tacoma, Spokane. (Obviously we eliminate flying ONT-OAK-LAX and other stupid things that would be commuting.)

Bianca said...

mea culpa. I goofed on the math, you are right.

But even the correct density numbers still bear me out on the initial contention- using the low density of the entire US (including Alaska) doesn't acknowledge that the area to be served by HSR in California is quite a bit more dense, on the whole, than 86 people per square mile.

John Thacker said...

Of course, that doesn't mean that it's always practical to connect in OAK, mind you. And whoops, I left Burbank there, sorry.

From SNA, the only Southwest nonstops are Denver, Las Vegas, Oakland, Phoenix, Sacramento, San Francisco, San Jose (CA).

Of course, you could always tell someone to just go to LAX instead. But even LAX doesn't have a nonstop flight to Portland, Seattle, Spokane, or Boise on SWA.

Anyone going from Southern California to those four cities on SWA is going to most likely connect in OAK. It just makes sense, since you're going north anyway.

Don't know how large that market is, though.

John Thacker said...

using the low density of the entire US (including Alaska) doesn't acknowledge that the area to be served by HSR in California is quite a bit more dense, on the whole, than 86 people per square mile.

Sure.

The GAO report has a nice graphic comparison of city sizes along US proposed and foreign HSR routes, spaced out by the appropriate distance. (Pages 13 and 14). The US has nothing that can compare to Tokyo-Osaka, but no one else does.

It's difficult for me to look at that graph and think that California will be more successful than the NEC, or even would be more successful than Detroit-Chicago would be. I'm also skeptical that the California line will really be able to run that much faster than the Madrid-Barcelona line, completing 150 more miles in the same amount of time.

Anonymous said...

Sam seems to have this strange idea that Southwest operates direct flights to the same set of destinations from both its LA area airports and its SF area airports. It doesn't. They're not even close.

Of course, the mere fact that a direct flight is operated doesn't mean a passenger will be able to or will choose to use that flight anyway. If the direct flight is sold out, he will have to use a stopover routing. Or he may choose the stopover routing to take advantage of a lower fare.

jim said...

ill say it again until it sinks in.

none of the airport data is really relevant or necessary.

California high speed rail system is a system designed to connect the states largest cities and the states fastest growing regions, together in one system that will connect said regions to one another. These cities and regions represent the majority of the states population.

by its very nature and it very design, it can offer what planes will never be able to offer.

all a person has to do is look at a map to figure this out.

this is really tedious. its like arguing with birthers, or sarah palin.

jim said...

a plane can get you from sfo to lax. neither of which is anywhere near anyplace anyone wants to go. (contrary to popular belief... Millbrae and El Segundo are not top destinations.)

and that plane can not stop in Frenso along the way, nor can one board that plane at any intermediate point that may be more convenient than the airport of origin.

trains can to that, planes can't.

3 hours, one train can offer a service/travel option two thirds of the state... from any point to any point, one train, one departure, multiple origins, multiple destinations. its the brilliance of the design and route.

whether its Aunt Bee going from Sun City ( Murieta) to visit her friend Mabel up in the San Fernando Valley or the masses of students at UCs and CSUs up and down the state, or vets, the disabled, singles, small business folks up and down the valley, corporate interests who need to move managers or hold en route meetings, between their smaller locations. families traveling on special fares, and not to mention international tourists who are already wondering why it takes so long to get to yosemite.... this system is going to serve an unlimited demographic. In fact, I dare anyone to try a trip on this, compare it to the flying experience, and tell me its not a superior product in every way.

lyqwyd said...

Anon, you are still wrong, even your own evidence points to total air passengers between Bay and LA at about 40K per day.

無名 - wu ming said...

to say nothing of the advantages it provides to tourists in CA, coming either from out of state or abroad.

jim said...

tourism "Total direct travel spending in California reached $96.7 billion in 2007, a 3.6% increase over the preceding year."

Anonymous said...

The reason for the loss of support for the hsr is not just a poor economy - the plan is jury-rig.

Politicians do read polls. Even developer-contractor sacred cows like BART have lost their lustre, thanks in part to their greedy unions. BART's SFO extension is an embarassment and the pricey San Jose extension had better attract some serious passenger counts.

Corporate lobby payola to politicians may get these projects built. But poor performance will eventually get them tagged as white elephants in the public mind. We are rapidly approaching the limit to taxpayer subsidy.

Jack said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
lyqwyd said...

HSR is gaining support everywhere but in your luddite fantasies.

Anonymous said...

You still use a travel agent?

Nah. Just giving the punk an out do he could blame it on someone else.

United's best rate between SEA-LAX goes through SFO.

Of course it's cheap. No one wants to fly that. Know what else is cheap? Real estate in Ely, NV.

The Palo Alto population certainly skews old.

That's because we tend not to let in new people when we can help it. Just like your train.

AndyDuncan said...

I'm also skeptical that the California line will really be able to run that much faster than the Madrid-Barcelona line, completing 150 more miles in the same amount of time.

It won't, that GAO graph is cool but it's not terribly accurate. The actual distance from LAUS to SF Transbay Terminal is 432 miles along the currently specced route. SF to Anaheim is 465.

I'm not sure where they got 520 from, but the chart also implies you'll be able to get from Anaheim to SF in 2:38, which you won't.

The 432 mph trip works out to about 167mph average, they've done numerous run simulations taking into account grades, curves and trainset capabilities, and they feel confident they can do it in 2:38 with a trainset like the AGV.

I agree that the NEC would get more ridership than a CA line. It's going to be difficult to put in a full express-hsr system there though, and it's not one or the other, the CA line is still worthwhile.

Anonymous said...

I think this thread is the poster child for restricting anonymous comments.

Nonsense. There is only one of me. Just like there is only one Ray's Pizzeria in NYC.

Anonymous said...

The vast majority of the passengers on those flights are not making a trip that starts and ends in California. They're making a connection to or from a flight serving a city outside the state, or even outside the country.

Okay.

1) Stop using my handle.

2) Stop GUESSING about where the passengers are or are not going!! You're even more daft than the HSR proponents. Show me the DATA.

John Thacker said...

none of the airport data is really relevant or necessary.

It is relevant. The size of the market for HSR is related to the size of the market for intra-California trips (that are not for the purpose of connections). High speed rail competes most with the air market (and secondarily with buses), not with people driving their own cars. Take a look at how Amtrak judges its market share in the NEC; they compare it to the air-rail market, not even to the air-rail-bus market, much less the overall travel market. The biggest impact of HSR in other countries is in replacing short flights with rail travel. How is that not relevant?

The only way it's not relevant is if you don't care about the success of HSR, but are just religiously attached to it. In which case arguing with you is like arguing with truthers.

The problem is not that the data is irrelevant, but that we don't have the best data and are guessing.

There are some facts we do know, and when someone is wrong it's worth correcting them. For example, Sam was definitely wrong about where Southwest Airlines flies direct. Southern California fliers traveling to Seattle, Portland, Spokane, and Boise must connect somewhere, and OAK is the natural choice. (As I said, even LAX doesn't fly there.)

But that doesn't fully answer the question about the size of the market. There are some good reasons to suspect the California High Speed Rail Authority's numbers (they're larger than all other estimates, the Authority has a clear conflict of interest and motive to exaggerate, most megaprojects exaggerate their benefits, etc.) but it's all still projections.

jim said...

John Thacker said...
none of the airport data is really relevant or necessary.

It is relevant. The size of the market for HSR is related to the size of the market for intra-California trips


It is somewhat relevant does not come close to telling the whole story. Because HSR will serve an additional third of californian that does not currently have air corridor service.

taking into account the bay-la air market does not tell the whole story.

jim said...

Now I know why so many people outside SF and LA hate SF and LA so much. People here act like the rest of the state is irrelevant. Those folks must be sick to death of it.

mike said...

It's difficult for me to look at that graph and think that California will be more successful than the NEC

On that graph, the NEC has 41 million people vs. 21 million on SF-LA. Let's take 2025 as the projection year...CAHSR will have had about 5 years to build up service then. Population projections are that California will have grown 27% by then, so the comparison vs current NEC is 27 million vs 41 million.

Bottom Line: In terms of potential market, the CA is only 0.65x of NEC.

Now consider speed. SF-LA and WAS-BOS are both around 450 miles, but CAHSR is 2.5x faster than Acela. In fact, Acela would merely classify as "conventional rail" in many European countries.** When the Madrid-Seville AVE opened, it was 2.4x faster than the existing conventional train. This 2.4x speed increase resulted in a 3.7x increase in total passengers, in spite of a 35% fare hike. (All figures are taken directly from de Rus and Inglada (1997).) If we hold fares constant (vs NEC), let's conservatively assume that passenger load increases by 4x.

Bottom Line: In terms of speed improvement, CA should attract 4x NEC passengers.

The final piece is the transit access argument. Obviously this favors the NEC (particularly in NYC). How much this matters is difficult to gauge. Let's take an extreme case and consider the San Joaquins. This has much worse transit access than CAHSR will. San Joaquins ridership is 8.7% of NEC ridership (950k vs 10.9 million) and it serves population centers that total 15.3% of NEC totals (6.3 million vs 41 million). Thus the San Joaquins "underperforms" the NEC by 43% (1-0.087/0.153). Since CHSRA will have much better transit connections at both ends than the San Joaquins does, let's assume that it will only "underperform" the NEC by 40%. Note that this is arguably a harsher penalty than Glaeser applies (he applies a 50% penalty to Houston and Dallas, both of which have worse transit than either SF or LA).

Bottom Line: In terms of transit access, CA should attract 0.6x NEC passengers.

To total all three factors: 0.65*4.0*0.6 = 1.56x.

2008 intercity NEC ridership was 10.9 million, so a reasonable forecast for 2025 CAHSR intercity ridership on the SF-LA corridor is 17 million.

Note that Amtrak brought in an average of $100 of revenue per NEC passenger, so at that pricing the operating revenue from CHSRA intercity passengers alone would be $1.7 billion (in $2008). Realistically, I expect that CHSRA would go for lower fares and potentially push intercity ridership beyond 17 million.

The big unknown is commuter ridership. The NEC serves roughly 60 million commuters per year. Let's be very conservative here. Assume that the 4x advantage for intercity travelers is only a 2x advantage for commuters (an HSR isn't going to be so HS when making commuter stops!). Also assume that the transit access penalty is twice as bad now - say 0.3x instead of 0.6x.

Totaling all three factors: 0.65*2.0*0.3*60 million = 23 million.

So a pretty conservative forecast would be 23 million commuters and 17 million intercity passengers, for 40 million total.

Is that "more successful" than the NEC? Depends on your definition of success. In terms of intercity passengers, yes. In terms of total passengers, no. I agree that it's going to be nearly impossible to beat 71 million passengers on just the SF-LA line, but that's because 60 million of those are commuters.

**Acela is so slow that it actually has a lower average speed than the "conventional" train between Paris and Strasbourg that the French recently replaced with the TGV Est!

mike said...

It is relevant. The size of the market for HSR is related to the size of the market for intra-California trips (that are not for the purpose of connections).

@John Agree that the air market is a relevant metric. But it doesn't prove the position that you think it does (unless I am entirely wrong about your position!).

The GAO report you linked implies that the MAD-BCN market is 47% the size of the SF/SJ-LA market. Total air capacity flown between MAD and BCN was 20k/day prior to AVE opening (2007). Total air capacity flown between LA and SF is 47k/day right now. So MAD-BCN actually underperformed SF/SJ-LA after adjusting for potential market size (and it gets even worse when you consider that load factors on American carriers are higher today than they were on Spanish carriers in 2007).

Yes, some portion of the SF-LA passengers are connecting passengers. But the same if true of the MAD-BCN passengers. And logic dictates that one is more likely to need to fly from Barcelona to Madrid Barajas for a connection than to fly from SF to LAX for a connection (Barcelona El Prat isn't even a hub for a true international carrier and only has regular service to 7 cities that are more than 2,500 miles from Barcelona. In comparison, Barajas has service to dozens and dozens of cities 2,500+ mile cities. If you need to fly outside of Europe from Barcelona, you're likely connecting through Madrid. SFO, in contrast, is a United hub and offers a range of intercontinental flights. It's substantially less likely that you would need to connect through LAX.)

The fact of the matter is simply that lack of density/transit access has not prevented the SF/LA air corridor from being more successful (overall and population adjusted) than MAD/BCN ever was. There is thus no plausible reason to believe that CAHSR will not be more successful than Madrid-Barcelona AVE.

Fred Martin said...

Mike,

With the way you confidently extrapolate fictitious numbers from spurious and hypothetical data points, I believe Cambridge Systematics has a position for you! If you can juice the numbers even higher, Cambridge Systematics will even give you a senior position.

Professionalism, Integrity, Validity... oh, ugh.

Fred Martin said...

The fact of the matter is simply that lack of density/transit access has not prevented the SF/LA air corridor from being more successful (overall and population adjusted) than MAD/BCN ever was. There is thus no plausible reason to believe that CAHSR will not be more successful than Madrid-Barcelona AVE.

Let's not forget that Spain was scarcely more developed than a Third World country 25 years ago. Ending Franco's fascism, joining the EU, and tapping serious EU development funds changed everything. Granted, HSR is a part of this development, but it's crucial to understand that California was/is a much wealthier place than Spain. Mass jet service is a relatively new concept for Spain (unlike California), so AVE has had an easier time displacing it.

clarif said...

Total Air traffic from SFO or SJC to LA is completely irrelevent - that's NOT the market that HSR located on Caltrain corridor will address. No one in their right minds east of SF Bay will DRIVE HOURS past the airports, thread their way westward through residential neighborhoods, to get to these cumbersome caltrain located stations.

The only market that will hit HSR stations along the caltrain row will be caltrain row adjacent communities. The relevent flight statistic question is:

How many SF-LA or SJ-LA flights are taken by residents of Peninsula cities between MIllbrae and Mt. View (PA, Redwood City Menlo Park Atherton San Carlos etc. (Anyone south of Mt. View will use SJ stations) You think you're getting HSR (@Caltrain station) customers from Oakland? from Fremont? From Hayward? From Pleasanton? From Livermore? HA - WHAT A JOKE.

AndyDuncan said...

Mass jet service is a relatively new concept for Spain (unlike California), so AVE has had an easier time displacing it.

But then, high speed rail is even newer. And as I mentioned in a previous post, Madrid has a metro line from the city center to the airport that only takes 12 minutes, making air travel that much more convenient, and yet rail still proved incredibly popular.

AndyDuncan said...

How many SF-LA or SJ-LA flights are taken by residents of Peninsula cities between MIllbrae and Mt. View (PA, Redwood City Menlo Park Atherton San Carlos etc. (Anyone south of Mt. View will use SJ stations) You think you're getting HSR (@Caltrain station) customers from Oakland? from Fremont? From Hayward? From Pleasanton? From Livermore? HA - WHAT A JOKE.

So the milbrae and redwood city/palo alto stations aren't going to get as high a ridership as the TTT and Diridon stations. The CAHSR authority agrees with you. What's your point? A station in Livermore or one in Fremont would get even less.

mike said...

With the way you confidently extrapolate fictitious numbers from spurious and hypothetical data points, I believe Cambridge Systematics has a position for you!

Nice, Fred. Since you have no fact-based argument with which to dispute my forecasts, you instead turn to random insults. I believe Fox News has a position for you!

Granted, HSR is a part of this development, but it's crucial to understand that California was/is a much wealthier place than Spain.

Great! Then travel demand will be even higher in California since we are richer! (And we can see that born out in the air corridor numbers.)

You think you're getting HSR customers from Oakland?

Do you realize that BART to Transbay Terminal from Oakland is much faster and more frequent than BART + Air BART to OAK?

mike said...

You can't simply average the densities to get average density.

Those who can't do math shouldn't throw stones.


And the pot shouldn't call the kettle black.

Whether she realizes it or not, Bianca calculated exactly what she claimed: average county density. What you convinced her to calculate instead is the density of the county averages. That's fine too, but neither is necessarily right or wrong. And in fact, Bianca's calculation is likely more useful.

Mathematically, D = f(P,L) = (P/L), where P is population and L is area. Bianca is calculating E[D] =E[f(P,L)]. Because f is nonlinear (and contains two arguments!), the expectation operator does not go through. Hence your complaint. What you want her to calculate is f(E[P],E[L]). Which is not necessarily more useful. Arguably it's less useful - if anything, Bianca should be lecturing you on assuming that expectations go through non-linear functions! The density of the averages is not the average of the densities.

To see what this means in practice, consider a comparison of Delaware and New York State. Using your calculation (density of the county averages), both states have identical population density (400/sq mile). Using Bianca's calculation (average of the county densities), Delaware has an average density of 430/sq mile while NY has an average density exceeding 3,000/sq mile. Bianca's calculation correctly gives at least some indication that NY State contains a dense cluster of population that might benefit from rail. Your calculation gives none at all. Of course, this all relates back to Krugman's point that looking at population density of large regions (which you are doing by construction) is, to use his words, "dense."

Fred Martin said...

Mike, you actually think your forecasts are "fact-based". You miss my point: you just make crap up!

Fred Martin said...

CAHSR is 2.5x faster than Acela.

Who is to say that CHSRA trains will actually meet 220mph? CHSRA has nothing operational, although perhaps you can extrapolate from the average speed of the San Joaquins?? After all, Acela once had bold goals too. Getting to 220mph going through Madera, Fresno, Hanford/Visalia, etc, is going to be politically problematic and expensive. The Central Valley has NIMBYs too that aren't going to tolerate the noise of 220mph trains.

mike said...

You miss my point: you just make crap up!

Fred, yet again you fail to provide any factual counterpoint and simply fall back on insults. Classy.

But regardless, please check my numbers if you believe they are made up. In addition to the linked cites (the 1997 paper and John's GAO report), the numbers come from California Dept of Finance (California population projections), Amtrak's Annual Report 2008 and Consolidated Financial Statement 2008 (Amtrak ridership and revenue), and Metro North, MBTA, NJ Transit, SEPTA, and MARC numbers (NEC commuter ridership).

If you find any substantial mistakes in my figures, I would welcome a correction. Otherwise, I accept your apology. One or the other is expected if you're not a troll.

Fred Martin said...

Mike, all your extrapolations are completely arbitrary. You pull some number from some random document (eg, DoF forecast that California will grow 27%) and then completely distort it into some other confident projection of ridership or whatever. It's idle speculation at best.

If you don't realize the serious problem with this, at least you are not alone. Cambridge Systematics does the same thing, but it is certainly not anything close to scientific.

mike said...

Mike, all your extrapolations are completely arbitrary.

On the contrary, they are clearly documented for all to read. If you don't like the DoF population forecast, please feel free to cite a different population forecast from a reputable source. Please, what is your alternative forecast?

Diego said...

Mass jet service is a relatively new concept for Spain (unlike California), so AVE has had an easier time displacing it.

What exactly didn't you understand about Madrid-Barcelona being the world's busiest air route?

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