Sunday, August 16, 2009

What's Up At The New York Times?

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

That's the question Ryan Avent is asking in the wake of the Times' blog attacks on HSR:

The New York Times has now turned loose writers at two of its economics blogs to make weak arguments against the construction of high-speed rail lines.

I have been following Ed Glaeser's attempt to do a back-of-the-envelope assessment of the costs and benefits of a hypothetical rail line (catch up here and here). Now, Freakonomics' Eric Morris seems to want to get in on the act, via a lame post comparing the effects of high-speed rail with the fruits of "cash for clunkers."

Let me just begin by pointing out how utterly ridiculous this comparison is. The Obama administration's vision for high-speed rail essentially involves a multi-decade effort to significantly upgrade transportation infrastructure along several of the country's most economically important metropolitan corridors.

"Cash for clunkers," on the other hand, is a $3 billion, roughly two-month program of automobile purchase incentives.

Avent goes on to explain his quite sound reasoning as to why it is totally absurd to compare these two programs. "Cash for clunkers" is a program that is designed to produce immediate economic stimulus through the sales of a few thousand cars, offering the possibility of some extremely minor environmental benefits. HSR is a long-term restructuring of intercity and interregional passenger transportation, a permanent piece of infrastructure whose benefits will be with us for many decades to come - just as the Golden Gate Bridge and Shasta Dam are still providing us with economic activity 70 years later.

Both programs are valuable, but for utterly different reasons. To compare them is to confuse them - and to confuse the reader.

Avent also pointed out that both Glaeser and Morris's anti-HSR work consistently downplays the impact of global warming on the US economy:

I'm led by this to believe that Morris does not actually understand how global warming works -- that it is due to the slow accumulation of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere over time. The only way we'll ever feel any greenhouse savings from any policy is over a considerable amount of time, which is why wonks discuss carbon reductions in terms of what we might be able to accomplish by 2020 or 2050.

Does Morris think that next year will be cooler thanks to "cash for clunkers"? I certainly hope not.

What Avent is identifying here is that these two economists, Glaeser and Morris, are not offering an assessment of the long-term needs of the US economy and transportation system. Economics as a field of study particularly suffers from a belief that acting on global warming is of less importance than providing economic growth. It's a false dichotomy - HSR is a perfect example of how one can do both at the same time - but it is what the New York Times has given its blogs over to promoting in recent weeks.

American economic policy, and much of American economic thinking, have become dominated by near-term concerns. The next month, the next quarter, the next year. Maybe the next four years if you're lucky. Longer-term policy is rarely discussed in the economic press and while it may get some ink among academic economists, the writing we see many economists offer for public consumption treats long-term infrastructure spending as wasteful, unnecessary, or both.

Hence the ingrown biases and flawed methodologies of both the Glaeser and Morris posts. HSR doesn't make sense in a short-term time frame. We all know that. Keynes may have noted that in the long run we're all dead, but many of us have quite a long way to continue running. It makes sense that we will want to secure sustainable economic prosperity and work to solve those broader forces that challenge that, such as global warming.

For the last 30 years US economic policy has emphasized the short over the long, the next few years over the next few decades. Even though the New Deal provided the basis for long-term growth and unprecedented national prosperity, that kind of big-picture economic policy work has been eschewed for a debate over how to best float the next asset bubble. 30 years of short-term fixes and neglect of the long-term strategy has produced a series of ever greater bubbles and successively more catastrophic results of that bubble's inevitable burst.

HSR pencils out when the full context is assessed. The fact that the NYT bloggers so persistently refuse to provide that context suggests they believe it is important to ensure HSR does not come out well in their writing. Avent again:

This exercise is, as best I can tell, an effort to show that investments in high-speed rail are not worthwhile, from an economic or environmental standpoint, based on extremely pared down models and faulty assumptions, with the goal of influencing how their readers view the high-speed rail initiative.

It's simply irresponsible. Times readers deserve to be better informed.

I have no idea why the Times has chosen to not provide better information to its readers. But that is what they have done. As we in California know, this is par for the course. In 2008 reporters frequently repeated the largely baseless criticisms of HSR and ignored or downplayed its more proven benefits. They share the right's skepticism of government programs, and while we all want government to be closely watchdogged - including those governments involved with the HSR project - there's a difference between honest oversight and a stacked deck.

The New York Times, when it comes to HSR, is playing with a stacked deck. But at least we in the blogs know how to identify which are the marked cards.

56 comments:

Rafael said...

The US does invest in long-term project, it's just that they're all military. Infrastructure and education interests don't contribute nearly as much to the campaign funds of members of Congress.

Cynical? Maybe. But also true.

Rob Dawg said...

The CARS program will save 66,854,508 gallons of gas
annually. We've already saved half a million gallons. Provided CA HSR can start service in 2019 its $43.5b will have taken a tremendous energy investment in construction and start the horse race with a three quarters of a billion gallon handicap.

Anonymous said...

@Rob - source for your millions of gallons of gas saved?

Is this assuming that without CARS, no new cars would have been bought and all of the older cars would have remained on the road indefinitely?

Andre Peretti said...

"Cash for clunkers is a roughly two-month program of automobile purchase incentives".
That's what the French government said when they launched its French equivalent in November 2008, but it is being extended month after month. As in the US, it is supposed to be an environmental measure: inciting people to get rid of their old polluting cars. The real reason is that the car industry (including sales networks) represents 1/10 of the work force. The situation being roughly the same in the US, I'd be very surprised if Cash for Clunkers were abruptly stopped after two months.
This said, it is absolutely silly to compare this measure to long-term investments in HSR. I used to consider the NYT as a world class newspaper and I'm very disappointed to see them sink to Fox News level.

Morris Brown said...

@Rafael:

At the Authority's workshop, which is now available on the web, the revelation, at least to me and apparently to others, including Pringle, was made that separate segments, such as LA to Anahiem, SJ to SF, could not operate as HSR systems, until they were connected.

They could only use the tracks for other purposes until the various segments were connected.

This apparently has to do with the PTC and other infrastructure needed to operate HSR safely and effectively.

Could you comment?

thanks

BruceMcF said...

Rob:

CARS will save 66million gallons of gas!

Everytime I see that I can $100 or more on a bike, its a bike I still can't afford after the discount.

The average fuel economy of the cars traded in is 15.8mpg, or 4.2 gallons per hundred passenger miles, assuming (generously), 1.5 passengers per car.

The average fuel economy of the cars bought is 25.4mpg, or 2.6 gallons per hundred passenger miles.

Of course, that sets aside the energy cost of producing the new car and the energy cost of disposing of the clunker, but lets set that aside.

So someone who had traded in a gas hog for a mere gas pig saves on average, 38% of the previous consumption.

Meanwhile, we import about 2/3 of our petroleum requirements. So what we need to be saving is 2/3. We can't save 2/3 overall unless we find ways to save MORE THAN 2/3 for specific petroleum uses ... a bunch of savings all less than 2/3 will always average to less than 2/3 saved overall.

How much oil is consumed per hundred miles in an HSR? According to Strickland's figures, that's about 0.3 gallons per hundred miles, but of course that is gallons EQUIVALENT, since it runs on electricity. So take your pick ... compared to a driver post-clunker, that's either 88% energy saving, or 100% petroleum saving.

For aircraft with typical fuel consumption and loadings, he arrives at 50pmpg, or 2 gallons per hundred passenger miles (that is conservative, since the short hop flights that HSR tends to attract have higher pmpg, since they have lower average loadings and higher fuel consumption per mile). So the saving there is either 85% in energy terms or 100% in terms of petroleum consumption.

Unlike CARS, the HSR offers the fuel and energy efficiency gains per trip that exceed the 2/3 of our petroleum that is imported.

None of that says that CARS is a bad program ... with basing it directly on the decrease in gallons per hundred miles and putting multiple tiers in place ... 0.5, 1, and 2 gallons saved per hundred miles ... it could indeed be a useful long term policy to accelerate fuel efficiency gains by cars.

jim said...

The cash for clunkers program is working however it has overlooked one major flaw. Apparently they crush the cars - many or most of which are still perfectly good cars. meanwhile you have working families struggling to get to work and pay the bills who can't afford a car, and for whom the gift of one of these so called "clunkers" would be a godsend to their families.

as for the environmental concerns, keep in mind that many of the cars being turned in get only a few miles less per gallon than the new ones and, these low income working families tend to drive much less. Its not always about the mileage per gallon, but how much the car is driven.

Anonymous said...

The "cash for clunkers" program has flaws in how it is designed, but the whole idea is to replace the old polluting cars with new cars with better emissions technology. Cars pollute more as they age, and getting the old, polluting cars off the road is a good policy objective. If the program actually got the very old, heavily use "gross polluters" off the road and recycled into scrap material, then it would be a very program than combined improved air quality and stimulus to an improved auto industry.

matt said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
matt said...

here is a pretty good summary of the flaws in the CARS program.

Also, who is to say that people driving the clunkers would not have traded anyways? Or that they were even driving those clunkers regularly?

66 million gallons saved is a huge overestimate. It ignores the two questions above along with the fuel necessary to create the new cars which would not have been needed.

But this country is fixated on consumption at all cost. Even altering the market to increase consumoption, instead of allowing the market to correct the inflated auto industry, which it was recently.

Rob Dawg said...

Here's the spreadsheet for savings:
http://spreadsheets.google.com/ccc?key=0Ajuze6gfSNeRdFJxM1RuU2h6blplTnJoRDl3TTlmaFE&hl=en

You may have to have a google account, I'm not sure.

Rafael said...

@ Morris Brown -

train control is based on semaphore blocks of track, with at most one train permitted to be in any given block at any given time. Conventional systems rely on drivers to respect speed limits and red lights, automated ones like ETCS in Europe will prevent a train from breaking the rules.

Maglev vendors (e.g. Transrapid) and some operators (e.g. Docklands Light Railway, London, UK) go one step further and get rid of the driver altogether - operations are highly automated and monitored from a remote central control room. This is only possible if tracks are fully grade separated and not shared with operators not integrated into the same control system.

Back to HSR: ETCS level 1 (and its Japanese and US cousins) relies on expensive wireline infrastructure but is considered bulletproof if maintained properly. ETCS level 2 seeks to eliminate a lot of infrastructure upgrade cost by relying on wireless data networks (GSM-R) to keep track of where trains are. Italy and France have been early adopters, but there have been a lot of teething problems related to reliability.

While ETCS is a proper industrial standard, PTC is still a fairly nebulous concept. Congress mandated its implementation on busy freight and commuter rail lines by 2015 but provided neither a concrete technical standard nor much in the way of funding.

Unsurprisingly, the major freight rail operators want to limit the associated overhead to additional in-cab equipment wherever possible. That implies wireless data communications, terrestrial where coverage is available and direct-to-satellite everywhere else. As usual complexity kills reliability. Integrating computerized train control with the proven but antiquated pneumatic brake control systems of US heavy freight trains would add another layer of complexity.

The only section of the entire HSR network in which non-compliant bullet trains will have to share track with FRA-compliant legacy equipment (Metrolink + Amtrak + BNSF) is Fullerton-Anaheim.

FRA does permit fixed traffic, but only with guaranteed time separation. Post-Chatsworth, "guaranteed" translated to an automated train control system that meets the PTC objectives laid out in PRIIA, i.e. one that reliably tracks train position and reliably prevents trains from breaking speed limits / running red lights.

The various rail operators on that section have yet to agree on interoperable technical standards.

Ergo: Pringle may have had LA-Anaheim in mind when he made his comment. On the face of it, SF-SJ will a little easier in that there will be a set of tracks that heavy freight trains will never run on in regular operations.

However, CHSRA and Caltain will definitely have to integrate timetables and signaling, especially if Caltrain wants to retain its "baby bullet" semi-express service rather than replace it with strictly regional, Caltrain-branded true bullet service and cross-platform transfers to locals at selected locations.

Anon said...

People in California use cars to get to work, and to get to the grocery store, and to get the kids to ... a million little 5-20 mile distance reasons). HSR will get people from SF to LA or other long distance trips, but it will not take the need for any auto trips out of the equation for average californian's

It also does not take away any of the need for the maintenance of the auto infrastructure (long distance or short distance).

Its duplicative to the auto industry. It creates the need for Californian's to maintain another big ticket infrastructure over the long run.

It doesn't get people where they need to go (you'll always need to add local transportation on both ends of a train ride), it doesn't take any cars off the road (everyone who drives today STILL needs to drive post HSR), and it creates a whole new MASSIVE infrastructure spending category for the state

HSR supporters should really get off the lie that HSR is good for the economy or that its good for the environment. They really just need to tell is like it is - they want it because its "cool" in their world, like a tweenager wants the Jonas Brothers. Its an issue of obsession, not of need, or of benefits.

Rafael said...

@ Morris Brown -

Another issue to consider is off-design conditions. A section of one track may become unavailable due to a technical problem or maintenance, forcing operators to temporarily adjust how they run their trains. That may only be possible if their train control systems are interoperable. That's probably not going to be an issue for Caltrain and CHSRA. Even UPRR may well go along with whatever they decide on because its Mission Bay Hauler trains only run as far as the marshaling yard in Fremont anyhow.

Note that this adjusting to off-design conditions would be a lot easier to do if the slow tracks were in the middle, a configuration Clem has dubbed FSSF. CHSRA appears to favor SFFS because it keeps tracks straight, Caltrain-only platforms on the sides and noise emissions from HSR trains down. Exceptions: SF-Bayshore, SJ Diridon-San Tomas Expressway and possibly, Millbrae station.

The issue of track order, i.e. which trains will nominally run on which tracks, has not been resolved yet. Complicating matters once again is UPRR. Most - not all - of its freight customers are located east of the corridor, so the easiest way to keep heavy freight trains from having to cross HSR tracks would be an FFSS configuration (counting tracks foothills to bay). However, that would preclude cross-platform transfers between Caltrain locals and HSR trains.

For obvious reasons, track order should be changed as infrequently as possible in the corridor.

Rafael said...

Germany and Austria also have cash for clunkers programs, i.e. industrial policies designed to boost demand for their ailing auto industries and the associated supply chain. Reductions in energy dependence/toxic and GHG emissions are basically just the sugarcoating that is supposed to make the pill go down taxpayer's throats more easily.

Japan's regulators have of course long abused safety-related inspections to make owning a car for more than about 6 years unappealing. Again, the hidden agenda is to artificially boost demand for new cars.

Bianca said...

Anon 11:13am:


(you'll always need to add local transportation on both ends of a train ride),

This already applies to people who fly between SF and LA. That "problem" will be solved with the same solutions that already work for air passengers.

it doesn't take any cars off the road (everyone who drives today STILL needs to drive post HSR),

Yes and no. Having HSR will facilitate land use that is more pedestrian and bicycle-friendly, and more mass-transit friendly. It's already easy to live in San Francisco without a car; I did it for many years. Good planning in conjuction with HSR will mean more towns where people can easily live without cars. It's not a guarantee but its certainly a possibility.

it creates a whole new MASSIVE infrastructure spending category for the state.

Freeways and airports are already massive infrastructure spending categories. If we don't build HSR, we will spend even more in those two existing categories. The alternative to not building HSR is not spending $0.

A question for you, Anon: Given that the population of California is projected to increase by 15 or so million people in the next 20 years, what is your plan for absorbing those people into the transit infrastructure. More highways? (Where?) More airports? (Again, where?)

I've not seen anyone here claim that people won't need cars to go grocery shopping or to pick the kids up from school after HSR is built. But properly planned, HSR could help California's car-oriented culture evolve into something less car-centric.

AndyDuncan said...

@Rafael: The only section of the entire HSR network in which non-compliant bullet trains will have to share track with FRA-compliant legacy equipment (Metrolink + Amtrak + BNSF) is Fullerton-Anaheim.

The alternatives analysis lists four options for the Fullerton-Anaheim stretch: At Grade, Aerial, Deep Bore Tunnel and Cut-and-cover tunnel. All four are for four tracks with two dedicated HSR lines, the shared track alternative was eliminated from the entire line:

The Dedicated HST Alternative was identified as the only alternative capable of accommodating the peak demand forecast for all classes of train service at acceptable levels of reliability and on-time performance. The Program Level Shared Track and Expanded Shared Track Alternatives were screened from further consideration after it was determined that the shared use configuration assumed in these scenarios did not adequately meet the need for HST service and could not support the assumed future volume of freight or passenger trains (including HST) at an acceptable level of performance.

Of the four options for Anaheim-Fullerton, they carried forward 1: a two-bore, two-track, deep-bore tunnel leaving the FRA lines in place on the surface with no additional (and reduced future, due to the vertical profile) grade separations, and 2: a four-track at-grade option with ROW takes and grade-separations along the entire line.

Alon Levy said...

Japan's regulators have of course long abused safety-related inspections to make owning a car for more than about 6 years unappealing. Again, the hidden agenda is to artificially boost demand for new cars.

Singapore's regulators require you to pay for the car again after 10 years. The country has no auto industry - it just has a land shortage, so it uses regulations to make car ownership as unappealing as possible, and to ensure that the cars that do drive on the road are low-emissions.

lyqwyd said...

Anon @ 11:13

Caltrains baby bullet has shown that even minor improvements in rail service can lead to major increases usage. Grade separation will lead to further increases and higher top speeds, leading to shorter trip time.

HSR's main stated goal is to compete with air travel, but will also be used by some as a commute method, thus taking cars of the highways during the busiest time, resulting in lower auto emissions and lower maintenance requirements on the highway system (although probably minor as trucks are far more damaging to roads than cars, and HSR will not likely impact trucking). There are obvious environmental benefits to these changes.

HSR will also lead to more transit oriented development practices in the 100% sprawl oriented Central Valley.

Once HSR is built and people are using it there will also be more demand for feeder services, like bus and light rail, which will help solve the "last mile" problem, resulting in more adoption of non auto oriented travel.

HSR isn't going to change people going to the grocery store by car. Nobody is saying that it will, and has no bearing on the environmental benefits that HSR will provide.

If you want to ignore basic facts, the preponderance of evidence around the world, and the majority of Californian's who disagree with you, be my guest, but your arguments will continue to be easily debunked.

Rafael said...

@ AndyDuncan -

thx for the info, that's a new development I was not aware of. Got a link to the doc you pulled your quotes from?

Perhaps Curt Pringle (mayor of Anaheim and current Chairman of the CHSRA board) wasn't satisfied with just 2-3 trains per hour into his shiny new ARTIC transit temple. Perhaps CHSRA simply couldn't find anywhere to park its trains overnight in LA. I'm not sure where they will in Anaheim, perhaps here?

Most likely, though, FRA was simply none too keen on letting bullet trains made by furreners share any track at all with its beloved FRA-compliant equipment. After all, this is the agency that crippled the design of the Acela Express, reducing maintenance intervals to just 20,000 miles just because it could. No wonder tickets for that train cost an arm and a leg.

Quad-tracking the 4.5 miles from Fullerton to Anaheim will be yet another excellent adventure, since the ROW is very narrow and OC residents usually pretty fierce NIMBYs. On the other hand, the county as a whole has been hard hit by the foreclosure crisis, so perhaps eminent domain takings have become easier.

Almost makes you wonder why they don't just terminate the HSR starter line at Fullerton in phase 1 and extend it to San Diego via Corona in phase 2, doesn't it? Almost. The Disneyland monorail couldn't possibly run all the way to Fullerton ;^)

Rafael said...

Off topic: a group of architects and (former) city bigwigs have put together a first cut at what Palo Alto might look like if the (2,3 or 4?) railroad tracks were put in a tunnel. They estimate the air rights above that would be worth $700 million in that city alone, helping to offset the incremental cost of tunneling.

For discussion on this, please head over to Clem's post on Innovative Place.

AndyDuncan said...

@Rafael: that's a new development I was not aware of.

And a welcome one, the doc is here (PDF) pages 36 - 54 cover the summary of the program-level decision and the detail of the anaheim-fullerton section, additional docs, including elevations and grade crossing geometries are available in the CAHSR Library although the site is poorly constructed and I can't link to the "Los Angeles to Orange County Section" which is where the stuff is.

Quad-tracking the 4.5 miles from Fullerton to Anaheim will be yet another excellent adventure, since the ROW is very narrow and OC residents usually pretty fierce NIMBYs.

Indeed, and they spend quite a bit of ink on the options for that section, luckily it's only partially residential, and the area it goes through is not as NIMBY-dense as the more southern and wealthy portions of OC.

Spokker said...

"Quad-tracking the 4.5 miles from Fullerton to Anaheim will be yet another excellent adventure, since the ROW is very narrow and OC residents usually pretty fierce NIMBYs"

They have recently completed a housing development complete with soundwall right up next to the west side of the tracks, where eminent domain, if any, will probably be exercised.

Luckily much of the property on the west side of the tracks is commercial. Since they don't actually live there they might take some cash and go away.

Clem said...

I can't link to the "Los Angeles to Orange County Section" which is where the stuff is.

You can, actually. They added the URL at the bottom of each page... although it's still an unnavigable and unsearchable mess.

Spokker said...

Rafael, it should be noted that most of the 4.5 miles from Fullerton to Anaheim is wide enough for four tracks. It's a 1.5 mile section between the two cities that's going to be a problem.

You can see where it narrows here. Scroll south to Vermont Ave. and you'll see it open up again.

Spokker said...

"Indeed, and they spend quite a bit of ink on the options for that section, luckily it's only partially residential, and the area it goes through is not as NIMBY-dense as the more southern and wealthy portions of OC."

That's a pro. Con? Anaheim overwhelmingly voted no on Prop 1A. Those who live a few blocks from the tracks are likely to complain anyway and we can't throw the election back into their face like we can on the peninsula.

Devil's Advocate said...

"HSR's main stated goal is to compete with air travel, but will also be used by some as a commute method"
This is not likely. High prices of HSR generally prevent people from using it as a commuting option.

"HSR will also lead to more transit oriented development practices in the 100% sprawl oriented Central Valley."
There is no evidence of this. HSR will not favor more transit oriented development the same way that airports don't do that. What creates more transit oriented development is commuting transit (subways, regional trains, buses), not long distance rail like HSR.

HSR will just be another option for intercity travel, which will take a good portion of business away from airlines for short haul flights, and maybe some medium distance car trips (like from the CV to LA or SF), but don't expect major changes in the development pattern of american cities. EU and JAPAN cities are densely developed because of high cost of car travel, population density and the consequent presence of commuting transit. As long as gasoline will be this cheap in the US (and freeway tolls non existing) I wouldn't expect people to move en mass into the cities from the suburbs any time soon.

We've Got No Money for Toys said...

@ Anon: You're right. These people want the train just because it's "cool". There is no real benefit other than to satisfy their childish whims, which they want all of us to pay for.
I can understand it if you want it for very densely populated cities like NYC to Boston, or btw NYC and Wash.DC. Those are densely populated urban areas with good transit like many in Europe. But in freakin' California? Where cities are all spread out and you still need a car once you get there?
This is just another waste of money for a toy so that the children in this blog can play and rejoice. Why don't you all move to Europe and look at their trains? I'm sure it would be cheaper just to give you all a one way ticket to Paris and keep you there.

AndyDuncan said...

@Spokker: you can get a better idea of their ROW takes starting on sheet 74 of Appendix E

Looks like they plan on staying to the west of the existing ROW with their takes, most of which appears to be large buildings and parks.

The grade crossing diagrams for that section (starting with La Palma) begin on sheet 238, and show more specific ROW takes directly surrounding the under/over crossings

AndyDuncan said...

@AndyDuncan: Sorry, sheet 238 is the structure elevations, sheet 179 shows the ROW takes directly surrounding the proposed grade crossings.

Rafael said...

@ Devil's Advocate -

HSR has actually created a new class of long-distance train commuters in Japan, France and elsewhere. They live and work close to public transit so they don't have to own and operate an additional car just to get to work.

In France, the cities of Tours (Loire Valley) and Reims (Champagne) both have quite a few "navetteurs a grande vitesse".

As for HSR stations being like airport: you have obviously completely missed the point. HSR station are typically in downtown areas and do not blight development for miles around with noise. A couple of hundred feet to either side, maybe. But not miles.

Also, no toxic tailpipe emissions and service to multiple cities - including fairly small ones - along the route.

Planes are best for trips of 500 miles or more, across water or to places too remote to justify fast train service. Short-hop flights are wasteful.

lyqwyd said...

"HSR's main stated goal is to compete with air travel, but will also be used by some as a commute method"
This is not likely. High prices of HSR generally prevent people from using it as a commuting option.

Poeple are willing to spend more money for premium service. If you can provide them with a more comfortable, faster option, they will pay more for it. See first class on airplanes. See the luxury bus service from Marin to SF. People are already spending hours in traffic, a 60 mile trip costs about $10 plus any bridge toll, plus car maintenance, plus added insurance costs. To get a faster, more comfortable trip that they can relax, work, or sleep during will be quite attractive to a number of people, even at a higher cost.

"HSR will also lead to more transit oriented development practices in the 100% sprawl oriented Central Valley."
There is no evidence of this. HSR will not favor more transit oriented development the same way that airports don't do that. What creates more transit oriented development is commuting transit (subways, regional trains, buses), not long distance rail like HSR.

There's plenty of evidence. It's all over europe and asia. It can even be found in certain parts of the US.

People actively avoid living around airports, while the exact opposite is true for train stations. Proximity to BART is a selling point for a home, I've never seen anybody advertise a home for sale pointing out that it's close to an airport.

Morris Brown said...

Rafael

Thanks much for your comments.

This discussion about not being able to run HSR on separated segments starts at 1 hr 22 minutes into the video of the workshop.

It was stated that this would be the case not only on LA to Anaheim, but also on SF to SJ.

lyqwyd said...

@Devil's Advocate

HSR doesn't induce TOD? Developers seem to already be making plans for TOD around HSR stations.

BruceMcF said...

Anon said...
"People in California use cars to get to work, and to get to the grocery store, and to get the kids to ... a million little 5-20 mile distance reasons). HSR will get people from SF to LA or other long distance trips, but it will not take the need for any auto trips out of the equation for average californian's"

True but a red herring. Neither do air flights allow a Californian to do without a car, and yet airport infrastructure was still build.

"It also does not take away any of the need for the maintenance of the auto infrastructure (long distance or short distance)."

This, on the other hand, is simply absurd. If millions of longer distance auto trips per year are diverted as rail travel, that means that less long distance road infrastructure is needed. If we assume population growth in California over the next twenty to thirty years, what it means is postponing the time that new highway projects need to be started to cope with road congestion.

It is true that it will not solve the problem of forcing too many Californians to drive shorter distances without freedom of choice of what form of transport they prefer, but that is a freedom to be provided by investment in transport infrastructure that provides more options for short distance travel.

Since you are an Anony-mouse, I cannot even speculate what you have against freedom of choice for Californians.

AndyDuncan said...

@Rafael: Almost makes you wonder why they don't just terminate the HSR starter line at Fullerton in phase 1 and extend it to San Diego via Corona in phase 2, doesn't it? Almost. The Disneyland monorail couldn't possibly run all the way to Fullerton ;^)

I think the main reason is so that people can get from Downtown LA to Angel Stadium faster than they can get from DTLA to Dodger Stadium :-)

Alon Levy said...

HSR has actually created a new class of long-distance train commuters in Japan, France and elsewhere.

Yes, it's created a small class of long-distance train commuters. I don't know about France, but in Japan most trains run express between major cities.

Anonymous said...

Given that the NYT is one of the several official mouthpieces of the Obama administration, I'm guessing he's not so hot on HSR? Hilarious.

Work on those Nutrootz, and quick! Your influence is waning.

Alon Levy said...

Ross Douthat and David Brooks get to write for the New York Times multiple times per week. Does that make them into representatives of Obama's official views?

Bianca said...

Alon, when we were traveling around Japan on the JR pass, we could not use it on the Nozomi express trains but we had plenty of alternatives on the Hikari and Kodama trains.

Per the wikipedia piece linked above, " Most Kodama trains have both reserved and non-reserved cars; however, some morning Kodama trains to Tokyo and evening trains departing Tokyo have non-reserved cars only to accommodate commuters living in Kanagawa and Shizuoka.


I don't know how many people would use HSR for daily commuting. Currently though there are lots of people in the Silicon Valley who have to go into San Francisco for the occasional meeting and currently drive- because Caltrain runs local during off-peak hours so it takes too long and/or 4th& King is too far from their meeting to be convenient. So they deal with the lousy traffic on 101, and pay through the nose for parking in downtown SF.

A lot of those people drive now because they don't see a better alternative. But offer them a 20 minute ride into downtown SF on HSR and they'll quickly make the switch. When you factor in what parking costs in the financial district, even a fairly pricey fare can be competitive if it's just a few times a month or so.

Alon Levy said...

Bianca, on the Tokaido Shinkansen, 9 trains per hour are Nozomi, compared with 2 Hikari and 2 Kodama. While some commuters use those Kodama trains to get to Tokyo, they're a small minority of both HSR riders (who usually go from Tokyo to Osaka) and commuters (who usually take the the low-speed trains).

Rafael said...

@ Alon Levy -

I'm not suggesting that long-distance commuting is for everyone, just that there is no basis for asserting HSR will do nothing to change commute patterns in California. Just how significant the phenomenon will be remains to be seen, it essentially depends on the volume of TOD and/or the availability of connecting transit.

AndyDuncan said...

@Rafael: just how significant the phenomenon will be remains to be seen, it essentially depends on the volume of TOD and/or the availability of connecting transit.

And I think the huge ridership increase associated with the Baby Bullets is a strong indicator of the increase in demand when service times are reduced.

Anonymous said...

IT would be cheaper to give all the naysayers and nimbys a one way ticket to the past then you can really complain about how "great"
it was..right old toy

Anonymous said...

Spokker, u loser lol.

jim said...

european cities aren't dense because of the high cost of car travel, they're dense because they are a zillion years old and that's how they've always lived.

People already do commute from the central valley every day.

HSR will bring TOD to central valley cities. All of those cities involved are already focusing on creating more vibrant downtows and TOD and, HSR will be one component. HSR will make the operations of local transit more efficient be create a hub area. Its a multi prong approach.

one part downtown housing
one part downtown retail
one part downtown jobs
one part downtown local transit
and one part intercity transit to make the region as a whole more viable.

mix and garnish with an eventual global economic upturn and serve at room temperature.

Alon Levy said...

european cities aren't dense because of the high cost of car travel, they're dense because they are a zillion years old and that's how they've always lived.

Tokyo, which was tiny until the 1860s, is even denser than most European cities. So are Singapore and Hong Kong, which didn't even exist until the 19th century.

jim said...

those people are stlil used to living that way.

jim said...

and while i support TOD especially in the central, no one in america wants to live like they do in tokyo piled on top of each other.

Alon Levy said...

No one? New York City is almost as dense as Tokyo; Manhattan is denser than any Tokyo neighborhood. And San Francisco is as dense as Singapore and denser than most European cities.

Adirondacker12800 said...

No wonder tickets for that train cost an arm and a leg.

Much more likely that they can fill them charging an arm and a leg - they charge an arm and leg because they can. Part of the reason they charge an arm and leg is because there are no coach seat. It's business class and first class or take a regional instead. Different levels of service usual command different price levels. When they don't fill them the prices drop. Sometimes as low as on the regionals - where all the coach passengers are...

Bianca said...

no one in america wants to live like they do in tokyo piled on top of each other

Jim, have you ever been to Tokyo? I know you have the love for the French and their trains and a stated dislike for Japanese trains. Lots of San Francisco is just as piled on top of each other as Tokyo is. And Tokyo has lovely parks too.

( ^ω^) said...

Tokyo, which was tiny until the 1860s
Alon, Edo (as Tokyo was called) almost certainly had a million residents by 1701, and was probably the world's largest city through the century.

Sam said...

european cities aren't dense because of the high cost of car travel, they're dense because they are a zillion years old and that's how they've always lived.

Jim, American cities were dense until the car came around, and didn't remain so because of the low cost of car travel and other policies encouraging low density growth. Turn of the 20th century America had cities just as dense as turn of the 20th century Europe. The reason that Europe stayed that way and America didn't was almost entirely because of automobile policies, not because the Europeans were "used to it." All of humanity was "used to it."

jim said...

those countries are too small to spread out.

you'll have about as much luck getting americans to give up cars getting them to give up guns.

and no matter what you do a city, a large chunk of the population will just keep moving further and further out to get away from the new people. until they wind up in colorado and oregon.

jim said...

oh wait that already happened.