Friday, September 25, 2009

Taiwan HSR: Harbinger of Doom or Flawed Comparison?

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

We haven't yet seen this story appear as a talking point that widely in California or even among our HSR deniers in the comments, but we will soon. The Taiwanese government is going to have to bail out the private operator of the Taiwan HSR project. They have missed ridership projections and as a result the private consortium that designed, built, and is operating the system cannot meet its debt obligations.

Already our old friend Wendell Cox is is using the Taiwan HSR bailout to claim that California HSR will suffer the same fate. Cox, whose work is partly funded by bus and highway companies, is going to continue pushing this simplistic argument until the news media picks it up, which should happen any day now.

The problem is that the comparison is almost totally flawed and without merit. What happened to Taiwan HSR is unlikely to happen here. The true lesson of Taiwan HSR is that HSR runs into financial problems when you ask the private sector to fund most of its construction and operations, and therefore leave you unable to weather the 5-year long ramp-up period in ridership.

Yonah Freemark, who has established himself as one of the premier transportation writers in the country, gives us some further insight on the problem over at the Transport Politic:

The Taiwanese system, which cost more than $15 billion, was the first in the world built entirely with private funds — 80% of which were secured through bank loans at high interest rates. Though the line’s fare revenues, lower than projected, make up for operations, maintenance, and even most interest payments on the initial capital costs, elevated depreciation charges put the railroad into its misery. The recession, which decreased interest in travel, put the final stake in the company’s heart.

This financing system left Taiwan HSR facing massive up-front loan repayment costs. And that in turn left them stuck when the recession hit. To those who would say that if HSR needs a bailout to weather economic downturns then it's not worth doing, I would ask their opinion on the $15 billion airline bailout the US Congress enacted in the wake of September 11 and the 2001 recession.

Freemark points out that California HSR is funded through a fundamentally different process, minimizing the need to devote ridership revenue to paying banks and private investors:

Of course, California’s plans are different. While both the Taiwanese and British projects relied on bank loans that accounted for 80% of construction costs, the U.S. project will only be dependent on a 20% private investment....

The two experiences cited above indicate that a fully private project is very risky, and that makes sense; making up a huge initial capital cost like that of a rail line through loan back payments requires enormous revenues and limited operating needs. California’s estimates demonstrate annual fare revenues ($2.3-2.5 billion) that are about double operations costs ($1.1-1.3 billion); Taiwan’s system has similar financials, but paying back the bank has bankrupted the company.

Is a 20% private share acceptable? A $7 billion private investment would require roughly $560 million a year in payments at 5% interest over a short 20 year-period (totaling about $4.2 billion in interest). California’s system would provide a generous profit of $500 million for the operating company if revenues and operating costs are as expected; in bad years, or if ridership estimates are too high, the system could sustain revenues 20% lower than projected without going into the red. This seems reasonable. California’s interest in a limited private involvement, then, avoids the risk inherent in a fully private project like that in Taiwan.

In other words, because California is looking at only a 20% private investment share, we will avoid the crippling problems Taiwan HSR has experienced. This is especially important when we recall DoDo's Puente AVE article, which is required reading on the topic of HSR ridership and financing.

DoDo's point was that there is a five year curve for HSR routes - it takes about 5 years for ridership to achieve its full potential. What that means is in those first 5 years, HSR operators have to be careful to not panic and raise fares to cover costs at the expense of driving away riders. He looked at France, which under the direction of Socialist president Fran├žois Mitterand maintained its fare structure, enticed people to the trains, and by the mid-1980s had runaway success with the TGV. And he took a look at Taiwan HSR, showing that bad decisions, made under political influence, led to cost overruns and a service whose quality was compromised from the start:

For the THSR, cost overruns were largely the consequence of a switch to Japanese suppliers after planning based on European high-speed technology was already well-advanced. The decision was widely rumoured to have been political (and led to an epic political, media and court battle ending in damage payments to Eurotrain), and the overseeing company THSRC did not go with the actual Japanese offer, but stuck to its guns on specifications. Thus f.e. a German maker had to be contracted to supply fixed-track high-speed switches (no need for those on Shinkansen lines with their strictly single-direction tracks).

Likewise, both lines were opened half-finished: one-third of the Seoul-Busan KTX line was delayed (until 2011, now thanks to those sleepers maybe even further), THSRC started with a reduced schedule, both started with some stations unfinished (for the THSR, including both downtown terminuses!) or without urban transit connections. Also, both lines started with hefty ticket prices that had to be reduced later.

And yet Taiwan HSR had started to overcome these problems:

The failure to meet expectations after the start was widely discussed as a national scandal in both countries. However, you can also see on the graphs that there was steady growth thereafter. And that at the expense of other modes of transport.

The modal shift was particularly spectacular in Taiwan. In just 20 months, all but one single daily flight between the cities served by THSRC was eliminated (last December, THSRC's share of the air/rail market was 99.95%...), leaving the highway as only competition. Total domestic air passenger transport fell almost by half(!). The steady uninterrupted annual growth of highway traffic was not only stopped but turned back.

In short, Taiwan HSR is a successful project in terms of ridership and achieving many of its goals of shifting transportation modes. The problem with Taiwan HSR is largely with the method used to finance it - heavy private sector borrowing. The 80% private funding method left Taiwan HSR financially vulnerable to poor construction decisions, cost overruns, and the global recession.

California not only can avoid all this - we are in a very good position to avoid it. As Bob Doty repeatedly emphasizes, the way you deliver an on-time and on-budget project is by getting all the planning and engineering details agreed to at the outset, and then rigorously sticking to that plan, resisting pressure to meddle and change the details midway through construction.

Freemark ended his article lamenting the political push for private involvement in infrastructure projects. That has been a particular hobby horse of mine ever since I started this blog. With regard to California HSR, the push for private involvement comes from Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, who along with his investment banker advisor (and CHSRA board member) David Crane are deeply enamored with public-private partnerships. They put the CHSRA on a starvation budget in 2007 in order to break resistance to greater private involvement in funding the train's operations. And it stems from their desire to use government to enrich the wealthy at the expense of everyone else.

California is going to elect a new governor next year. We will need to pay close attention to how the candidates talk about HSR, public-private partnerships, and what their plans are for HSR. The next governor could serve until 2018 if elected to two terms, making it particularly important for us to get that choice right.

When I wrote about DoDo's article in March I laid out my thoughts on how to avoid a Taiwan-style meltdown in CA. They are as applicable today as they were then, so I'm going to repost them here:

First, we cannot expect ridership goals to be met immediately. DoDo's analysis shows they will be met but not until around five years have passed. This will produce hackles from the usual HSR deniers (who will still be with us in ten years' time) - the Wendell Coxes and Martin Engels who will say that "omg you haven't met ridership - the HSR train is a boondoggle! kill all remaining extension plans!" We must resist them patiently but firmly and let the project steadily attract riders.

Second, we need to oversee the financing process to ensure that the project's finances are not going to be imperiled by expectations of high ridership out the gate. This is a long-term project; its financing should be long-term as well. This is one reason I am skeptical of some of the more broad public-private proposals for how to fund the train. Government has the luxury of waiting for the system to mature and work properly; the private sector instead demands immediate profits at the expense of long-term planning (and we see how well THAT worked out).

Third, construction delays. I have always said that we are likely to see both delays and cost overruns, but that we can and should work to ensure the are minimal. Sometimes the two are linked - Peninsula NIMBYs are inherently arguing that it is OK to both make the HSR project more delayed and more expensive to suit their demands. We may well see similar problems on other sections of the route. We cannot let these delays compromise the overall system. The route has always been intended to be opened in stages, as was BART, but the finances, operation, and political support for the project cannot be made dependent on that staging. Further, the stages should be opened for practical reasons, and not in an effort to cut corners or costs. Again the long-term vision for the system must be kept in mind at all times.

Fourth, fares. Whether the $55 fare from SF-LA is possible even in 2018 dollars is an open question. But the system cannot raise ticket prices to try and cover financial shortfalls or cost overruns if they are to build a long-term ridership base.

It is entirely possible that ten years from now the short-sighted short-term political and economic worldview that helped create the present economic mess will have been replaced with a renewed emphasis on long-term planning and infrastructure, and that Californians will be willing to wait a few years for HSR ridership to rise to expectations.

But I wouldn't bet on it. Instead we are going to have to continue to fight to ensure that HSR is built the right way, the proper way, without compromising for people who put all sorts of petty and small concerns above the HSR project itself.

101 comments:

Anonymous said...

CHSRA has a staff of about 6 or 7, and half of those are office functionaries. Everything else is being done by private contractors, yet all the costs are being borne by the public.

Taiwan HSR is a harbinger of doom, but at least they tried to get the private sector to actually INVEST in the project, not leach off the public teat!

Robert Cruickshank said...

And yet, anon, what they proved is that the private sector is totally incapable of pulling of a project of this scale.

Arnold Schwarzenegger and David Crane are pushing private involvement to enrich their friends. They sell it with an ideological veil that some people buy into. Which one explains your zealotry?

Anonymous said...

Yet the private sector is enormously involved in CHSRA, but they have pulled off the amazing feat not having to to be financially accountable for any of their involvement. Money can only flow into their private accounts; it can't ever flow out, no matter what mistakes they make. Who wouldn't want a business deal like that? That's a damn sweet deal for the private sector.

Absolutely no private investor has come forward to invest their own money in the risk of the project. Not one. Robert, do you want to be the first? Put your money where your mouth is, if you believe in this project so much.

Diridon gets his influence by being a broker for the private contractor interests. In exchange, he flies on lots of junkets and seeks to direct billions of dollars in improvements to a station he got named after himself.

Robert Cruickshank said...

Anon, knock off the lies. SNCF has expressed its interest within the last week and in June 2008 no less than 41 different companies and investors responded to a request for interest from CHSRA.

CHSRA has yet to get to a point where they are ready to officially request private funding proposals. When they do, we will see quite a lot of interest.

Bianca said...

Taiwan is the wrong comparison. I've already encountered the "OMG Taiwan disaster! California will be a disaster too!" argument. All Taiwan illustrates is that infrastructure projects of this nature are too massive for the private sector to cover capital costs.

Fortunately, there are plenty of examples of HSR done better, and a much more apt comparison for us is what has happened in Spain.

Anonymous said...

"As Bob Doty repeatedly emphasizes, the way you deliver an on-time and on-budget project is by getting all the planning and engineering details agreed to at the outset, and then rigorously sticking to that plan, resisting pressure to meddle and change the details midway through construction."

This point alone is already failing. Look at TBT aka "lets get back to the drawing board on a total redo on the doorstep of the funding we're about to receive for a 10+ year old already approved and permitted TBT project'. There is absolutely NO agreement on AnY PART of the CHSRA plan or the engineering (particularly since they won't SHARE any of their halfbaked engineering plans with the public instead holding teach ins to spend 4 hours telling the public 'we don't know that yet'),

Except among the CHSRA PR spin that says we are going to do it no matter what.

No reasonable plan - NO agreement - no political good will - no community concensus - constant political bickering obstruction lawsuits stalls delays and rework. What makes you think you can shove severely negative impacts through hundreds of miles of suburban backyards, schoolyards, neighorhoods, and NOT have the worlds largest fight on your hands. You're dreaming. Doty is dreaming. There are a lot of NIMBY's out there who will make it their life's work to make sure of it.

You call it meddling - some call it environmental and social justice. Its not going to happen. CHSRA is being negligent by NOT planning for the full cost of doing it in a way that the communitieis agree to. If that means tunneling through the earths core, then put it in the business plan, cuz that's whats going to have to happen.

jim said...

Ultimately none of the arguments on either side are worth much because in today's america you are not going to get any american to change their position by using arguments to support your position.
Americans are no longer interested in solutions to problems. They are only interested in their own ideology on either side of any issue.

Is a kind of mental regression that has become the norm. Rather than aspiring to become more enlightened in the name of facts, truth, science, knowledge, we now look at those things with suspicion.

You are no more going to convince a denier to become a supporter or a supporter to to become a denier, than you are to get a liberal democrat to become a conservative republican.

There may be some hidden to the public circles, where actual adults discuss actual solutions to real problems in an intelligent, informed reality based environment, but generally you aren't going to find that among the general public, the blogs, or the media.
We are each now, a party of one, instead of becoming one world, we have become a world of ones.

I'll be the first to be guilty of it... but its the truth. and it's part of a very frightening trend, that gives me zero hope for the future.

I wish I knew where the real people and the smart people and such were convening, but from I sit, and the behavior and attitudes I see everywhere around me, we are really screwed as a species. really screwed.

of course its still fund to blog and argue and stuff. but there's no real value in it.


wow that was depressing. I must have forgot to take my pill last night.

Evan Goldin said...

Maybe it's my youth talking, but I'm idealistic enough to believe that people can be swayed by good arguments, good facts and good logic.

I grew up in and work in Palo Alto, and I've had many conversations with people there where I think I've been able to change some minds.

Idealism + persistence and being on the right side will hopefully make an impact.

YESonHSR said...

Anno did you read up on the Taiwan HSR issue? it was done with Junk bonds..All this "private" does better than public is BS.just like the Wall Steet mess. A small
to medium investment in HSR will not be an issue..And stop with the constant Kopp/Didrion whinning.

jim said...

Anonymous said...
The amount any private company has invested in California HSR to date: $ 0

SNCF's contribution to date: $ 0

The clock is ticking.... Would love to be proved wrong


well we all want it done yesterday but the fact is this is how things work, much to our dismay, but the fact that this large project is proceeding exactly like every other large project nowadays is what reassures me that its going to happen. Its right on track as a slow moving behomoth with a mental/political disability that will eventual muddle throught it. Its the wait that's going to suck.

Anonymous said...

Total amount of private invesment in California HSR to date: $ 0

SNCF's investment in California HSR to date: $ 0

If not now, when?

As for political contributions, that's a very different story.

jim said...

Evan Goldin said...
Maybe it's my youth talking, but I'm idealistic enough to believe that people can be swayed by good arguments, good facts and good logic

oh yeah, its your youth. trust me I know, I was there once. go ahead and enjoy it while it lasts.

David S said...

"Yet the private sector is enormously involved in CHSRA, but they have pulled off the amazing feat not having to to be financially accountable for any of their involvement."

If you build a house do your friends complain that your electrician isn't "financially accountable" for their involvement? There's a difference between investment and contract work.

As Robert has said, the investment is forthcoming.

Anonymous said...

You hire bonded electricians for a reason, ya know.

John from MP said...

I'll second that Evan!

As another Menlo Park/Palo Alto native who hopes to ride CA HSR before I start collecting Social Security, I honestly haven't talked to anyone in the mid-peninsula under 40 who opposes this project.

I think the NIMBYs oversetimate their support base.

I for one can't wait until i can ride my bike from my parents house to the PA or RWC HSR station and head straight to So-Cal!

Onward HSR!

Rafael said...

@ anon @ 12:16pm -

process check: no dirt has been turned yet. If it weren't for stimulus bill, none would be several more years. The upshot is that some poor design decisions (e.g. SF TTC train box + DTX tunnel, San Bruno curve) made before voters actually approved HSR will now literally be cast in concrete for the sake of creating jobs in the near term. Once they are, everyone will have to live with them for many decades.

Cost escalation due to design changes doesn't happen until after construction begins. Construction companies bid low to get the job and hope to boost their profits with engineering change orders.

Avoiding ECOs is why you want planners to do their homework properly. Fortunately, we're not anywhere near the end of any of the project-level EIS/EIR processes for HSR yet, though some developments are troubling.

Case in point: bored tunnels for HSR in a section in Fullerton, instead of generous(!) eminent domain against home owners plus full grade separation of all tracks, including those used by Amtrak/Metrolink/BNSF. Twice the cost for half the value, just to placate a few NIMBYs. Then again, what do you expect when the mayor of Anaheim takes over the chairmanship of the CHSRA board.

Anonymous said...

Twice the cost for half the value, just to placate a few NIMBYs." You call them nimbys - some call them impacted communities.

In any case - Call this reality.

Doty is spot-on that once they get their minds and paperwork around this reality, then they won't have to do any cost escalations and they can proceed perfectly to plan. Which all presumes they GET the reality of where they're attempting to shove this train. The key is how well do the chsra and their engineers and the HSR supporters understand reality? So far, not well. Perhaps Doty's ready to show us otherwise.

Anonymous said...

if they went bankrupt, their ridership projections were wrong, simple as that. You can't say "they needed 5 years for ramp up", any business plan worth its salt would take that into account. The problem was not enough people were riding.

Anonymous said...

Airlines go bankrupt all the time. that doesn't mean private air lines don't work. That's a sign of success, the weak and inefficient players get pushed out by more efficient competitors. Lower fares for consumers.

I disagreed with bailing them out after 9/11. That's not capitalism.

missiondweller said...

To the author:

I strongly agree a long-term mentality must be maintained. Recent opposition I've heard is related to the present economy which of course will have improved long before any real work begins. I further agree that a project of this size shouldn't be concerned with profitability in the early years.

The economic characteristics of a project this size are similar to those of the Chunnel in England/France or subways is NY. The initial cost of these projects are absolutely huge but the benefits continue for many decades.

Perhaps BART itself is a good example. We now rely on BART here in the Bay Area even more than 20 years ago as the population grows and an increasingly large amount of people make use of it. Without it, our freeways and bridges would be much more congested and even less efficient.

In both cases, the investment upfront is massive, while the benefits actually increase over time.

Peter said...

If the market share numbers discussed in the original post are correct, then it appears that truly the only thing that "doomed" THSR to government takeover was the fact that they were unable to pay back their loans taken out at the height of the bubble, when the interest rates were exorbitant.

That doesn't mean their business plan was bad. It just means that, like most everyone else, they didn't see the crash coming.

Rafael said...

@ anon @ 2:04pm -

OCTA is increasing Metrolink service between Fullerton and Laguna Niguel.

Pp21 PDF of CHSRA's Los Angeles-Anaheim Alternatives Analysis Report (dated 4/21/09) clarifies that: "The projected train operations after construction of this project include 146 daily trains."

That refers to the existing tracks for FRA-compliant traffic and is ~50% higher than Caltrain's traffic volume in the SF peninsula.

By choosing to build a bored tunnel for HSR only, instead of widening the ROW from 50 to 75 feet, CHSRA is actually doing a great disservice to the community of Fullerton. This project is the one and only shot it has of ever getting those legacy tracks grade separated, eliminating cross traffic bottlenecks, train horns, bells etc.

Anonymous said...

High interest rates?

I think they started at 8%, were quickly lowered to 4% and have been steadily cut. At this point they are 2.6%.

http://taiwantoday.tw/ct.asp?xitem=65474&CtNode=415

Brian Stanke said...

@Rafael

I met with Caltrain staff last week and the claim the the San Bruno curve will be upgraded to ~90m mph instead of the current 60 mph. That should lessen the impact on HSR trains (and Baby Bullets considerably.

As for the TBT, I am glad to see the research you did on the last post but there are a few whopper mistakes you keep repeating about the TBT. (I'm cross-posting this to that post as well.)

1. & 2. The TJPA is looking not only at a direct connection to Embarcadero but ALSO at Montgomery. A big sewer line would complicate the Montgomery ped. tunnel, but $$ solves all engineering problems. So with enough funds BOTH can be built. This would best serve HSR and BART by splitting up the circulation impact of transfers between the two BART stations.

2. The CA HSRA was asked in 2000 what curve radii they needed. Their response was 493 feet. Since then the TJPA has enlarged the radii several times. The HSR radii are now 650 feet (Caltrain can use different rolling stock with smaller turning radii for 110-125 mph max speeds). So, A how is this a big problem anymore and B, how is TJPA to blame when the HSR Authority told them under 493 feet and didn't correct it for 8 years! The TJPA fixed the radii to be better let's all move on.

4 & 5. The throat and tunnel will be redesigned, maybe as 2 or 3 bores, as soon as money becomes available, but it is far from cast in concrete. I am not an engineer so I can't say if the design allows more than 20 trains per hour per direction or not, but it can and will be fixed as part of the final (re)design. The box will be an empty box the tunnel will be built later.

6. Building bottom up allows a lot of flexibility as to where the columns go, if the Terminal is built top-down the columns will be forever stuck in place.

7. Transit advocates have fought for decades for a future standard-gauge fixed link to East Bay. If you want to walk in and say both they and BART are full of it... Well that is your right but don't expect to change any minds. That provision, like the Transbay Terminal reference in Prop 1A, was written into law for a good reason.

Peter said...

@ Brian Stanke

Did Caltrain provide you with any sort of drawings of the proposed upgrade of the San Bruno curve? Did they tell you where they could be found?
I'm not doubting that they told you that, just wondering fi they've published their design.

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

See! I told you so! These train projects are almost always a failure and in the end they always need taxpayers' money to survive, whether from the start, or later as a bailout.The fact is that if the private sector can't do it, then it simply means that it is not a worthy investment.

These systems are probably able to transport at least 600 people per train every 3 to 5 minutes in each direction. In a 15 hour period they would be able to carry 200 or 300 thousand people from SF to LA and viceversa every single day.

BUT THE DEMAND FOR SUCH LARGE VOLUME OF PASSENGERS IS SIMPLY NOT THERE IN CALIFORNIA!

If all you need is to move 25000 or even 50000 people a day, why do you need to build a very expensive system that can carry 300000? That would be like driving a big rig to the supermarket every other day to carry the groceries for a family of 4.

But you guys are like adolescent girls in love. You have lost the ability to reason, because you are now listening to your heart only, hopelessly and endlessly infatuated for a very expensive toy!

And this toy/train has just become an object of sexual desire for you. It's your personal vibrator, your sex toy you're addicted to. The fact that it's available in some foreign lands even adds that exoticness which makes it even more alluring to your libidinous desires. The more you see it in pictures, zooming through the Frence or Spanish countryside, so real, and yet distant and elusive, the more you want it, no matter how expensive it is for our state finances.

You're just a bunch of spoiled teenagers with too much traintosterone!

mike said...

This demonstrates two things:

(1) A purely privately financed HSR system (both for capital costs and operating costs) would not be feasible, particularly when competing against heavily-subsidized road and airport infrastructure.

(2) HSR can and will run a healthy operating surplus. Before interest and depreciation charges, THSR earned a healthy operating profit of NT$11.3 billion (US$350 million) on revenues of NT$23 billion. This is with fares set at an average of about US$20 per ride.

The first is no surprise to either the HSR "proponents" or the "deniers." The second is no surprise to most "proponents", but may be surprising to some of the "hard core deniers."

Anonymous said...

Yeah, we want the Bay Bridge Railway back! Who had the stupid idea of not designing the East Span to accommodate trains? Who had the moronic idea to reserve the State Belt railroad ROW along the Embarcadero for claptrap MUNI instead of a mainline TBT extension? Bay Area transportation leadership is the pits.

Peter said...

I guess Toys forgot to take his meds last night. You can always tell when his posts descend into general unintelligible insults.

mike said...

I met with Caltrain staff last week and the claim the the San Bruno curve will be upgraded to ~90m mph instead of the current 60 mph

VERY interesting. I wonder what Clem's comments are on this.... (in particular, how he determined that curve radii for speeds above 65 mph were not feasible within the existing ROW)

Peter said...

@ Mike

Maybe they're not staying inside the ROW. Maybe they're planning on buying up some property there and/or using eminent domain.

No way to know without them actually telling us.

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

Peter: I know the truth hurts for you guys!

Have you noticed that you all think that successes of HSR in other countries would certainly apply to California, while at the same time failures of HSR in other countries you think would not be applicable to California?

You always find an excuse to rationalize your preconceived opinions. No matter what.

You think that you can replicate the success of the AVE, but you refuse to recognize that both Madrid and Barcelona have a much denser population than California within minutes from the train stations. And you also refuse to recognize the much higher cost of car travel in Europe and the fact that most Californians (especially those with money) live in the suburbs far away from the city centers where the stations will be built.

At the same time you don't think that the financial woes of the Eurochunnel and the Taiwanese system will happen in California, simply because.....well because it won't.

I may need meds at night, but you guys need to get laid more often, instead of fantasizing about a train.

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

@ Toys

Well, if you're able to point to a primarily publicly funded HSR line that experienced anything like the financial problems THSR or the Chunnel experienced, then I may be inclined to agree with you.

As far as I know, no primarily PUBLICLY funded HSR line has had any similar problems.

Until then, maybe you need to up your dosage.

Rafael said...

@ Brian Stanke -

"I met with Caltrain staff last week and the claim the the San Bruno curve will be upgraded to ~90m mph instead of the current 60 mph. That should lessen the impact on HSR trains (and Baby Bullets considerably."

Well hooray! That is excellent news. Clem will be thrilled.

"The TJPA is looking not only at a direct connection to Embarcadero but ALSO at Montgomery."

Well hooray again! More excellent news.

"CHSRA was asked in 2000 what curve radii they needed. Their response was 493 feet."

If so, shame on them for being so clueless. In my defense, I did ding CHSRA for failing to raise the alarm early enough. You're right that at some point the complaints about curve radius have to stop, which is why my compromise proposal recommended that CHSRA accept that it will have to use the TTC, tight curves and all.

In practical terms, 650 feet is much better than 493 but it's still very tight. Caltrain is almost as badly affected by this as HSR, at least they should have known better than to meekly go along to get along. Why not at least duplicate the 650 feet curve three times by having the three feeder tracks veer off 2nd Street at different points?

"The throat and tunnel will be redesigned, maybe as 2 or 3 bores, as soon as money becomes available, but it is far from cast in concrete."

That's not at all the impression I got from Bob Beck's last presentation to the TJPA's CAC. If true, scaling part of the tunnel back to two tracks should save quite a bit of money. I see no reason why the throat should extend south beyond 2nd/Harrison at the most.

The 4th & Townsend station might need to be revisited, too, in an effort to rein in costs. Ideally, those platforms should be west of 4th, i.e. on property Caltrain already owns.

"Building bottom up allows a lot of flexibility as to where the columns go"

Are they tearing down the bus ramps after all? Also, you'd have even more flexibility if the rail platforms didn't have to be physically underneath the bus terminal building at all.

"Transit advocates have fought for decades for a future standard-gauge fixed link to East Bay."

I think it was a mistake to eliminate structural support for a future light rail service from the design of the new east span of the Bay Bridge just because adding cantilevered tracks to the west span would be expensive. A standard gauge tunnel would be even more expensive.

However, those advocating a new standard gauge fixed link - i.e. a tunnel - for heavy rail need to think through exactly what that would connect to on either side. Without platform height harmonization, HSR trains could not stop at platform tracks 21/22 in the TTC, the only ones for which tail tracks south under Main Street are now on the menu. From there, the logical extension would take you to Point Alameda.

The problem is where standard gauge tracks would go from there: in the real world, the Oakland Inner Harbor Channel cannot be crossed by anything other than a tunnel. Connecting passenger tracks to the UPRR ROW without impacting harbor operations would be extremely difficult if not impossible. A dead end in downtown Oakland (Franklin St.) would be expensive, without anywhere else to continue on to.

The best place for passenger-only heavy rail to connect to UPRR in the East Bay would actually be here, but that implies crossing over or under the existing BART tube. The southern end of Main Street in SF is the wrong place to try and reach it from.

Even after all that, you'd still need to deal with electrification, UPRR/FRA mixed traffic rules, dispatch priority issues and the lack of stations in both downtown Oakland and North Concord. There's a lot more to a fixed link than immersing a couple of tubes in the bay mud.

Caelestor said...

@Toys

I would not call the THSR a failure. It can make back its operating costs, which makes it better then the subsidized European/American rail systems. However, it went bankrupt due to bad bonds (where have we seen that before?) from initial construction, and a whole bunch of reasons that others have mentioned.

Anonymous said...

Toys!! who let you out of your cage!!!

Alon Levy said...

I think they started at 8%, were quickly lowered to 4% and have been steadily cut. At this point they are 2.6%.

Yes, as part of the recent bailouts, they've cut interest rates from their previous highs. So what?

Anonymous said...

http://www.scribd.com/doc/20225971/The-2008-CHSRA-Business-Plan-Presentation-September-2009

Anonymous said...

oh man - that "business plan" document was chock full of fabulous stuff. Any way to hear the verbage behind some of those slides? What was the context? When/where/towhom was that presented?

jim said...

I suspected it before, but now I know "toys" is actually a republican member of the house. he's that guy who said straight porn turns you gay...

jim said...

getting trains to the east bay, back to the future and cheaper

Morris Brown said...

New postings on the court's website for the Menlo Park / Atherton et. al. lawsuit.

To view or download go to:

https://services.saccourt.com/publicdms2/DefaultDMS.aspx

enter year 2008 case 80000022

Top 2 items posted 9/24/09 at the top are:

PETITIONERS' BRIEF IN SUPPORT OF STAY
OF PROJECT-LEVEL WORK

and

DECLARATION OF STUART
FLASHMAN IN SUPPORT OF STAY OF
PROJECT-LEVEL WORK

The Authority's website says the judge may issue a preliminary ruling on Oct. 8th. A hearing to be held on Oct. 9th.

Spokker said...

Toys is right. I cum for trains. Woo-woo.

Anonymous said...

Morris, the link got cut off at the end... DMS.???

Thanks

Clem said...

Well hooray! That is excellent news. Clem will be thrilled.

I'm not thrilled at all. The rumors of 90 mph are false, and somebody somewhere isn't being straight with us.

Morris Brown said...

@Anonymous 8:24

The link posted works fine for ne.

Try this in HTML

Link to Lawsuit

Again year 2008
case # 80000022

Rafael said...

@ Clem -

so Caltrain hasn't changed its plans to ease the curve radius by acquiring some of the abutting properties?

There's no other way to get from 60 to 90 unless you want to scrape passengers off the windows.

Clem said...

DECLARATION OF STUART
FLASHMAN IN SUPPORT OF STAY OF
PROJECT-LEVEL WORK


Wow, he's really swinging for the fences. To paraphrase, "the EIR work must stop so the EIR may be refined." I give this one a 10% chance of passing muster with the judge...

so Caltrain hasn't changed its plans to ease the curve radius by acquiring some of the abutting properties?

You would think that if Caltrain tried to exercise eminent domain (via SamTrans, of course) to make way for quad tracks, it would be all over the press?

Anonymous said...

Clem,

I think you are missing the point of the brief.

The argument goes like this - if you continue to pour money into project work for Pacheco, then how does anyone expect you to have a truly open mind when it comes to PROGRAM level decisions about Pacheco vs Altamont.

Clem said...

then how does anyone expect you to have a truly open mind when it comes to PROGRAM level decisions about Pacheco vs Altamont.

I see what you're saying...

I hate to point out the obvious, but have they ever had an open mind about Pacheco vs. Altamont?

Besides, the judge already ruled against most of the Altamont vs. Pacheco issues that were raised in the lawsuit. The writ of mandate reads as if the plaintiffs had prevailed on those. I can't fault them for trying, but again, I don't give them very high chances.

looking on said...

Regarding changing the San Bruno grade crossing, Clem wrote:


You would think that if CalTrain tried to exercise eminent domain (via SamTrans, of course) to make way for quad tracks, it would be all over the press


If they make changes, such that eminent domain is needed, then they will have to re-do the EIR. How long will that take? They have included the San Bruno crossing as a project to be funded from stimulus funds and being shovel ready.

This would also fly in the face of statements made by Morshed, that "we don't see any need for eminent domain presently." Talk about shooting your self in the foot and a major PR fiasco --- that would be one for sure.

Maybe some engineer has indeed modeled a good solution, but it will never see the light of day.

BruceMcF said...

Anonymous said...
"if they went bankrupt, their ridership projections were wrong, simple as that. You can't say "they needed 5 years for ramp up", any business plan worth its salt would take that into account. The problem was not enough people were riding."

The problem was the economy went into a recession and not enough people were doing traveling of any sort.

So they outperformed their mode split, but didn't anticipate the timing or depth of the recession. All the more reason to avoid trying to finance a major infrastructure project entirely on the basis of junk bonds - if they had 80% public finance, with their current performance, they could have ridden out the recession with no sweat, even though the recession hit quite nearly the worst possible time for their project.

Anonymous also said:
"Total amount of private invesment in California HSR to date: $ 0

SNCF's investment in California HSR to date: $ 0

If not now, when?
"

Which really does give Anonymous posters a bad name for stupid statements. "If not now, when?" When the alignment had been finalized and is in possession or under control of the CHSRA. It would be idiotic of the CHSRA to tender for private participation now, when the project risk would increase the financial cost of that private participation substantially.

The rhetorical question assumes that right at the beginning of a decade long project is the right time to tender for private involvement, and the assumption is foolish.

Peter said...

@ Looking on

I believe that grade crossing upgrades are exempty from CEQA. They aren't seen as having large enough an impact on the environment to warrant a CEQA analysis.

Anonymous said...

CHSRA needs funding NOW, and they are not getting it.

Morris Brown said...

@BruceMcF

Your statement

"..It would be idiotic of the CHSRA to tender for private participation now, when the project risk would increase the financial cost of that private participation substantially."

What is truly idiotic and is right what is happening today, is pushing ahead with a project that assumed that 1/3 of the funds would come from private equity and as noted by board member Crane relating to the present economic reality...

"don't expect any private funds".

The recession/depression has changed the game. Private investment isn't going to happen.

Analysis of the business plan as posted in the slides by Elizabeth Alexis, could not illustrate that point more. I attended the PCC meeting where she gave her analysis. It couldn't be more obvious that this project will not get built, but will just suck away at public funds, digging useless holes in the ground or building equally useless elevated structures.

Now, if as was suggested at that meeting, the Federal Government suddenly decides that California should be anointed with 25 to 30 billion, then maybe it becomes possible. What are the chances of that happening? Dream on... Even dreamer Kopp only talks about 14 - 16 billion. Even that bloated figure is not enough, not nearly enough.

jim said...

"The recession/depression has changed the game. Private investment isn't going to happen."

so, the recession is just going to last forever? we will enver recover from it? When its time to invest, several years from now, the world will just be sitting on their hands in a big depression still? come on.

The recession will be over at some point and the next boom will be rolling in after that. I know Ive seen cali go through this several times over the decdes.

In fact Id say the timing of all this is actually pretty good because we will be going into the next boom times right about the time hsr will be up and running. and in the years between now and then, companies will be looking for places to invest where they can be poised to make a good return once that happens and transportation is always a good investment because without the movement of people and goods, nothing else happens.

The smart money will see the opportunity to get in on the ground floor and be perfectly positioned to grow the hsr right into the next wave of prosperity.

looking on said...

@Peter

you say:


I believe that grade crossing upgrades are exempty from CEQA. They aren't seen as having large enough an impact on the environment to warrant a CEQA analysis.



Well if grade crossing as supposed to be exempt from CEQA, why did they do an EIR.

http://www.caltrain.com/pdf/SB_L.pdf

Anonymous said...

Robert says:

"
California is going to elect a new governor next year. We will need to pay close attention to how the candidates talk about HSR, public-private partnerships, and what their plans are for HSR. The next governor could serve until 2018 if elected to two terms, making it particularly important for us to get that choice right"

Well all I can say is, if California voters are so stupid to elect "moon-beam" Brown to serve again, we deserve what we will get.

On the other side, Tom Campbell is surely the most qualified, but everyone says he doesn't have a chance since he has no funds.

Steve Poizner, and Whitman certainly have the funds. I don't know where either is on HSR.

I leave out Newsom; he is hopeless.

jim said...

brown is not a moonbeam liberal anymore and would likely support hsr and be tough on crime.

newsom would be good for hsr, but will have a hard time getting elected but its possible.

Whitman doesn't have a chance.

Its going to be a real tossup. all we can do it wait and see.

Peter said...

@ looking on

That's not an EIR. An EIR would be a helluva lot longer and cover a lot more topics. There was no scoping done, no alternatives analysis, and the document was not circulated to solicit public comment.
Also, note the title: "Environmental Constraints Analysis".
That's not the same as an Environmental Impact Report.

BruceMcF said...

Morris Brown said...
"What is truly idiotic and is right what is happening today, is pushing ahead with a project that assumed that 1/3 of the funds would come from private equity..."

The project is justified on its merits.

On the one hand, the original assumption could be 5% or 50% private equity - it would not change the fact that without the project, the State of California is on the hook for spending even more on intercity transport if forced to rely on highways and airports alone, and restricting people's choice to driving and flying alone entails an ongoing drain of Californian income to pay for the imported fuel to power those modes of transport ...

... and on the other hand, you are simply speculating whether the CHSRA's 20%, your 33%, or a larger or smaller amount of private financing that anyone else could pluck out of the air will be available - projecting the conclusion you wish to reach into the lack of conclusive information.

jim said...

I would just have to ask those who don't want hsr being "shoved into their backyards" just whose backyards we should instead shove the equal amount of capacity of runways and freeway lanes?

And as for paying for it, if they don't want to pay for it, then who do they expect will pay for the equal amount of capacity in freeway lanes and runways?

Users? including the folks who would rather have hsr, but would instead be forced to drive or fly and pay those costs?

Considering that prop 1a passed.

Morris Brown said...

@BruceMcF

You can write whatever you wish, but Prop 1A, mandated that full funding for any segment must be in place before construction can begin. We don't need another Bay bridge fiasco with this project.

This is to precisely prevent what the Authority is now attempting to implement. By starting in all sections (see the stimulus funding requests), they do not have anything but down payments for the completion of any segment. Clearly Prop 1A prohibits spending any bond funds on construction in any segment, until the funding is in hand, not just saying we will get it -- but in hand.

This must be enforced by the legislature, which is either going to use its oversight to enforce the law or not. If not, maybe only lawsuits will prevent the expenditure of these funds, until the requirements, which the legislature passed, and the voters of California endorsed, will be met.

In other words, they cannot use your rational of going ahead, regardless of the funding requirements, because of needing more highways or airports or whatever or the fact that the project is going to create these many thousands of jobs. No they need to have full funding for any segment in hand, before starting construction.

That's what the voters endorsed. If they want to go a different way, they can pass a different bond measure. Lot of luck on that!

Spokker said...

What the heck? Since when did Russia have high speed rail?

jim said...

please. even kenya is building high speed rail.

even third world countries are passing america up while we continue to flail around in the last century.

Rafael said...

@ spokker, jim -

the Russian Sapsan service is still undergoing technical trials. The target speed of 300km/h (186mph) won't be reached until the OCS system is upgraded from 3kV DC to 25kV AC. Initial commercial service is expected for December of 2010.

Building railroads of any kind in Kenya is strictly for mad dogs and Englishmen. I doubt they could get anyone to build it, never mind fund it.

jim said...

..says they are going to build a line to Ethiopia... I'm assuming there won't be any meal service.


ok ok that was in bad taste..

Anonymous said...

Jim/Brucemcf - more lies. The state is on the hook to spend more on roads and airports any way you slice it. Roads and airports don't go away becuase we get a high speed rail line (which DOESN'T GET ANYONE to where they need to go anyway). Getting to a train station is NOT getting to an end destination - roads and airports aren't going anywhere. You're just forcing the tax payers to pay for roads, aiports AND high speed rail infrastructure (and eventually subsidizing THREE operations besies, because HSR is such a loser proposition.

BruceMcF said...

Morris Brown said...
"You can write whatever you wish, but Prop 1A, mandated that full funding for any segment must be in place before construction can begin."

Yes, and so? You are projecting a failure to be able to get funding in place on the basis of Morris-Brown-says-so. The empirical foundation of your argument is that CAHSR is still in the design phase of each and every one of their Phase One segments, and the point when they, one, could be in a position to and, two, would need to, finalize any private funding for the construction of any of the segments is therefore in the future.

And you are taking the fact that private funding for construction is not finalized well before it is either feasible or necessary for the funding to be finalized into "they do not yet have the private funding" into "they do not have any private funding" into "zOMG its a financial disaster!".

As to effort to try to spin applications for Federal ARRA Stimulus funding as misbehavior by the CAHSRA, in claiming that it is an effort to start in all sections, you are assuming that all of CAHSRA's applications will be funded. And since CAHSRA did not in fact submit applications for every segment, you are also assuming that they will be funded for several segments that they did not apply for.

If the Federal government is so eager to fund segments of the CA-HSR that they will fund each of CAHSRA's applications and then fund segments that were not applied for, as you argue, then it would seem to follow that there is no problem in getting early Federal finance for the system together, allowing the CAHSRA to further defer the time it works to finalize any private funding, for even more savings due to reduced project risk.

However, in trying to turn the application of Federal Funds into a scandal, I fear that you are laboring under a severe confusion regarding the terms of Proposition 1A. It does constrain what the CAHSRA can do with state funds, but that limit does not extend to forbidding the CAHSRA to apply to get work done with Federal funds.

Its going to be difficult getting large numbers of people riled up on the basis of the CAHSRA of trying to get the Federal government to pay for as much work as possible as early as possible.

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

@anon, the state isn't on the hook for anything except what the voters decide to put it on the hook for. This time they decided on high speed rail.
Aside from the cypress structure replacement there hasn't been a new freeway built in the bay area since highway 85 20 years ago, there hasn't been a new runway at sfo since, ever. nor will there ever be another runway in the bay at oakland or sfo. In sf, freeways have been removed one by one.

considering that

Caltrans partners with Amtrak to provide service on three intercity rail corridors in California, which carry over four million passengers annually to over 200 destinations.
"(which DOESN'T GET ANYONE to where they need to go anyway). Getting to a train station is NOT getting to an end destination" )

so I guess they are all still standing there in limbo, or trying to click their heels together or hitchhike the rest of the way.


(and thats going at a slow pokey 79 mph where it takes all day to get there. so imagine if you cut the travel time to 1/4 of that and added even more destinations)

and on the san joaquin alone The average **daily** train ridership on that one route during the last Thanksgiving holiday period totaled 30,751, an increase of 14.5 percent. ( yeh anon thats 30,000+ people per day traveling between places like fresno and stockton and burbank and oakland and Madera.... all those people who will supposedly never take the train)

Now think about that. who travels during the thanksgiving holiday? hmm? Why, families! Shocking yes, but true. families, moms, dad,students, grammas, and so on, who somehow find that taking the train, in spite of how slow it is, and in spite of the fact that according to you it doesn't go to any destinations, find that it does the job. Could they drive? sure. Could they fly? most likely, not since its actually the airlines not the trains who don't have enough destinations within california.
Does someone hold a gun to their head? Nope not even now that guns are legal on amtrak.
They actually decide all by themselves to take the train.
hmmm. imagine that.

Morris Brown said...

@BruceMcF

Again, I don't appear to have made myself clear.

The stimulus funds application, at least to the best of my knowledge, did not require anybody to provide matching funds with their request.

The various projects for which funding is being asked, had to meet certain standards, but matching Federal dollars with State or Local or Private dollars is not a requirement.

Prop 1A only demands that bond dollars be matched 1:1 with other funds.

Prop 1A demands, that bond dollars for construction cannot be used unless the segment to which they are to be applied has funding in place to complete that segment.

Now the CHSRA, has in its application has applied for many different specific projects in all three of the Phase I segments. All of the requests are worded such that Prop 1A dollars will match funds received from the Federal stimulus package on a 1:1 basis.

But none of the specific projects when completed will satisfy the requirement that a segment of the HSR system will be complete. Rather, these projects will only partly complete any segment. Thus after completion of even all of these projects, no segment of the HSR system will be usable for HSR passenger service.

That clearly is in violation of Prop 1A. The Authority has made its application to the FRA appear attractive, since it is telling the FRA, you give us a dollar and it will be like two dollars, because we will match your dollar with our dollar.

This would have been proper, if they had applied for funding such that when completed, the projects would result in a completed segment. But they didn't. They spread out the funding requests, such that no segment will be complete. The legislature should not, when the time comes, approve using Prop 1A bond funds in this manner, since the law clearly prevents using the funds in this manner.

Now if, other funds can be found, before construction starts, and these funds would result in a complete segment, that would be ok. But no funds of that magnitude are on the horizon, and they have to start construction by Jan 2012.

jim said...

oh good, in addition to falling behind russia, korea, and kenya, we can add poland to the list of countries that are showing up the US.

Rafael said...

@ jim -

you're forgetting a few countries:

Turkey

Morocco

Saudi Arabia

UAE

Vietnam

others

The US is falling further behind every day.

Rafael said...

@ Morris Brown, BruceMcF -

quite apart from the fact that AB3034 wasn't written with the possibility of a federal stimulus bill in mind, there's the question of whether offering up matching state funds is even necessary at this point.

Florida is asking for $2.5 billion for Tampa-Lakeland-Orlando Airport and not offering up a dime of its own money.

looking on said...

Jim Rafael and others:

The sky is falling , the sky is falling...

"We are falling behind all the rest of the world by not building HSR.

The rest of the world has been behind us in not building adequate highways and airports.

Interesting that Europe and others are out building their in-adequate highway systems, aren't they? If HSR was the answer, why spend any funds on highways?

This project is a State project, not a Federal mandate. If the Federal governmanet indeed decides that HSR is an over riding issue that must be addressed, such as what happened in the 1950's with the inception of the interstate highway program, then you can go with your falling behind propaganda.

That certainly is not the case today. Obama has not committed to anything like the hundreds of billions needed to put rail on an equal basis with the highways and airport system. He isn't likely to either, for as the many articles that have appeared on the economics of the rail systems point out, they really don't make economic sense.

California has many many more higher priorities than HSR.

The Governor has been trying to move on water, with little success. The best public educational system in the country, the UC California is in deep trouble because of lack of funds. The list goes on and on.

Yet, you shout along with Robert, we must do HSR, not because of a current need, but because of an perceived need in the future.

Well we have current needs now, they need to be addressed, not HSR.

Finally, this project, which has been so poorly planed and thus far executed is being put up as a poster child for the nation on HSR.

To all you HSR promoters, you should re-think your positions. The project is doomed to failure on so many fronts. As the "poster child" for the nation it will doom HSR for the rest of the country, since when built it fails to deliver even remotely on any of its promised benefits.

BruceMcF said...

Rafael said...
"quite apart from the fact that AB3034 wasn't written with the possibility of a federal stimulus bill in mind, there's the question of whether offering up matching state funds is even necessary at this point."

It explicitly is not.

A state match is required for the annual HSR appropriations, but not for the ARRA Stimulus funds.

For the ARRA Stimulus funds, the criteria are far broader than that in terms of evidence of state support. So Ohio, for example, is using the commitment to provide an operating subsidy to a conventional rail starter version of the Triple-C as its state commitment of resources, and at least in the first track application, California pointed to expenditures it has already made and has already committed to making.

And of course, CAHSRA is free to point to the design work funding that it is entirely free to proceed with under AB3034 as part of its contribution to the funding of second track projects, since the second track is explicitly intended, after all, for projects that have not had their design work completed.

The second track is designed to get around the catch-22 that energy efficient alternatives to highway and airport expansion have required dedicated funding to complete their design work, while highway and airport planning tend to have dedicated income streams, so that there are far more likely to be energy-wasting plans "on the shelf" than energy-saving plans. But while funding energy-wasting plans works as short term stimulus, it is ineffective in terms of a longer term contribution to American productivity.

Morris Brown said...

Again, by the Authority's submitting their application for stimulus funding as they approved last Wednesady (Sept 23rd), they are not going to be able to use the bond funds as they are promiing the FRA.

By yielding to political pressures and applying for funds in all the segments, they will not be able to meet the Prop 1A law, which says funds can only be spent on a segment when full funding for the segment is in place to ensure completion of that segment.

They have put themselves into a box. The FRA may indeed grant the funds, but the Authority will have to return them, since they won't have the promised matching funds from from the bond to complete the projects.

My letter to this effect was noted by Judge Kopp at the Wednesday meeting; he gave it to their legal team I believe. They should re-think their application; they won't.

The restrictions of application of Prop 1A bond funds are good. They are there to prevent a situation like the Bay Bridge and other large projects, (the Boston Big Dig as a prime example), where a project is started with the "hope and a dream" that funds will come along. Prop 1A at least put into place wording that would ensure any funds expended would result in a complete segment, which should have utility even if the project as a whole could not be completed.

jim said...

looking on- the current needs such as water, are being addressed, and are running into exaclty the same kind of nimbyism and political infighting that everything else does.

do you want to build more dams and send more water south?
try running that past the average northern californian.

do you conserve water and save the delta?

try running that passed socal big money.

You wanna talk education? The insatiable education pig already already snorts up half the enitre annual worth of the state like an out of control coke fiend ...you want to feed it more?

illegal immigration, want to solve that? good luck.

Not building hsr will not do anything to solve any of the big issues above.

but tying the state closer together the way that only rail, not cars and not air, can do, will have the overall benefit of getting more californians on the same page.

It will allow for an even ing out of the population.

people and jobs will have more flexibilty in where they cn be located.

You think that we have mobility now with the highways but the speed involved is a key factor, and while you have speed with air travel, you do not have choice and coverage.

hsr provides something that neither cars nor planes can ever provide and it will be a transformative force in the state's future.

The existing big problmes in the state have mainly to do with californian's unwillingness to put more money into the same things that continue, not to show results - especially education. I know I'm sick to death of throwing more money at ungrateful kids and trash and criminals in training and illegals.

and as for water. That can only be solved by serious conservation on the part of residents and farmers.

not building hsr will not solve the water problem.

Anonymous said...

@Jim

I suggest you run for governor or state office with your red-necked agenda. You might 3% of the vote

jim said...

red neck? Thats funny. usually I get called one of those liberal san francisco commies....

hmmm. Now you're giving me an identity crisis.

so conserving water and advocating for high speed rail now makes me a redneck?

Do you live near a large radar installation by any chance?

jim said...

I mean really, saying farmers need to conserve water makes me a redneck? you've been standing to close the microwave.

Anonymous said...

@Jim

Include in your rebuttal your remarks

illegal immigration, want to solve that? good luck.

not building hsr will not solve the water problem.

You wanna talk education? The insatiable education pig already already snorts up half the enitre annual worth of the state like an out of control coke fiend ...you want to feed it more?


Yea that puts you in the red neck category.

Just remember there is only so much money to go around. Draining the State general fund each and every year for 30 years, of around $650 million to pay off the Prop 1A bonds is not insignificant.

And those numbers are using the cost estimates given by the Authority, which are now obvious, very much on the low side of what will be actual costs. Face the facts, this $40 billion project will cost 65 to 100 billion.

PB is loving it.

Andre Peretti said...

@looking on
"Interesting that Europe and others are out building their in-adequate highway systems"
As ignorant as Jebb Bush when he said: "America has highways and airlines and doesn't need trains".

The Interstate was built on the model of the German autobahn. As for airports, France has a higher density than the US. Few places are more than 30 miles from an airport.
What most people have in Europe, and you don't want Americans to have, is choice. You can also call it freedom (like the fries).

Alon Levy said...

Looking On: Europe and Japan are building highways, but they're building fewer of them than the US. There are only two countries in the OECD with a higher freeway mileage per capita than the US, Canada and Luxembourg, neither of which is known for its fast train service.

jim said...

@ anon

I sill don't get how advocating for hsr and pointing out that we aren't making any progress against illegal immigration, and how expecting that when we pay for someones education we expect them to take it seriously, and pointing out that we are at a stalemate with the various sides of the water situation makes me a redneck?

You must live too close the power lines. I don't get it.

If we learn to conserve more water, both residential and agricultural, we will have more water available to keep the delta healthy.
That's not a redneck priority, that's a california priority.

Expecting to children and their parents to act responsibly towards the very expensive education we give them a redneck position or a responsible position?

Expecting people to obey the law is a redneck position or a responsible position?

Investing in the state's infrastructure and planning ways to manage future growth is a redneck position or a responsible position.

Just because you don't like high speed rail and would rather piss the money away those who don't deserve it does not make me a redneck.

If kids are serious about education then their parents should be serious enough about it pay for it and make sure the kids are in school learning and not running around sneaking on the back door of the bus tagging it with graffiti ? got it?

if farmers wanna keep farming they are gonna have to learn to irrigate more efficiently and if people want to save the delta then they are gonna have to get rid of their lawns and turn off the water while they are brushing their teeth.

yep, its the redneck agenda. you're an idiot you know that and Im sick to death of people like you making excuses for everyone while the rest of us pay and pay and pay and go without.

YOU are the problem.

Alon Levy said...

Jim, California's per student spending on education is below US average. Relative to living costs, it must be near the bottom.

jim said...

it still takes half our annual budget... you can run a state when education takes that much its way out of whack.

jim said...

what do you want to do give them all the money and shut everything else down?

Thats why we should only be spending money to educate legal citizens, one and two, only those who actually take it seriously.

If you a @#$%^ UP then you need to get tossed out on your ass, and when you are ready to take it seriously, whether your 25 or 45, you can come back.

but its not fair to the students who deserve and value an education to be getting screwed because were wasting half the state's worth on loosers.

God forbid we teach kids responsibility, the poor precious things. can't have that huh.

These kids who run loose all day wreaking havoc need to have their asses whooped. period.

jim said...

anon And those numbers are using the cost estimates given by the Authority, which are now obvious, very much on the low side of what will be actual costs. Face the facts, this $40 billion project will cost 65 to 100 billion.

anon, we can pay for the whole thing off at the rate of 10 billion a year - the money is right here

looking on said...

What Jim's red-necked attitude only brings more to the front, as he continues to exhibit his personality in more and more posts, is that HSR rules all; it is the one over-riding issue that we all need and want and for which we should sacrifice everything else.

I'm awaiting Rafael and Robert and others to take him down quite a few notches.

Thanks Alon Levy for some support here

BruceMcF said...

Anonymous said...
"Just remember there is only so much money to go around. Draining the State general fund each and every year for 30 years, of around $650 million to pay off the Prop 1A bonds is not insignificant."

While there is at any given time only so much money to go around, there is not a fixed amount over time. The amount of money to go around depends upon real economic growth. And of course, the amount of real economic growth depends on investing in productive capacity and attracting sufficient income to put that capacity to use.

During an oil price shock, the amount of extra money going out of California and then out of the country to pay for the oil to run a transport system largely restricted to road and air will exceed California's payments to service Prop 1A bonding. So HSRail is better in terms of maintaining the income base required for economic growth.

And of course, unlike the HSRail, new highway lanes built now will also require a state match for the maintenance spending required down the track, so where HSRail will be an investment that yields dividends, spending on highways is always also buying a long term unfunded liability for the state budget. So HSRail is a wiser investment in long term transport capacity.

It is this inability to understand that some spending is consumption but other spending is investment that provides weight to the charge of a "lack of imagination" ... people that are unable to understand that making investment in the most efficient ways of meeting a particular type of transport task is the same as maximizing the yield on an investment seem to have a limited ability to project future trends out and see what problems are looming if we just stay on the same course.

Yet it is an unusual incapacity, since all too often the same people are able to imagine ways of trying to drive up the cost of the investment, as they try to come up with roadblocks to prevent the investment from taking place.

BruceMcF said...

Anonymous said...
"Just remember there is only so much money to go around. Draining the State general fund each and every year for 30 years, of around $650 million to pay off the Prop 1A bonds is not insignificant."

While there is at any given time only so much money to go around, there is not a fixed amount over time. The amount of money to go around depends upon real economic growth. And of course, the amount of real economic growth depends on investing in productive capacity and attracting sufficient income to put that capacity to use.

During an oil price shock, the amount of extra money going out of California and then out of the country to pay for the oil to run a transport system largely restricted to road and air will exceed California's payments to service Prop 1A bonding. So HSRail is better in terms of maintaining the income base required for economic growth.

And of course, unlike the HSRail, new highway lanes built now will also require a state match for the maintenance spending required down the track, so where HSRail will be an investment that yields dividends, spending on highways is always also buying a long term unfunded liability for the state budget. So HSRail is a wiser investment in long term transport capacity.

It is this inability to understand that some spending is consumption but other spending is investment that provides weight to the charge of a "lack of imagination" ... people that are unable to understand that making investment in the most efficient ways of meeting a particular type of transport task is the same as maximizing the yield on an investment seem to have a limited ability to project future trends out and see what problems are looming if we just stay on the same course.

Yet it is an unusual incapacity, since all too often the same people are able to imagine ways of trying to drive up the cost of the investment, as they try to come up with roadblocks to prevent the investment from taking place.

Anonymous said...

BruceMcF writes:


spending on highways is always also buying a long term unfunded liability for the state budget. So HSRail is a wiser investment in long term transport capacity.


All I can say to this is without wasting more time is


Nonsense!

jim said...

looking on said...
What Jim's red-necked attitude only brings more to the front, as he continues to exhibit his personality in more and more posts, is that HSR rules all; it is the one over-riding issue that we all need and want and for which we should sacrifice everything else.

I'm awaiting Rafael and Robert and others to take him down quite a few notches.

Thanks Alon Levy for some support here


Since the state already spends half the budget on education, how much more of the budget should go to that? 75 percent?

What should we cut? Welfare? Caltrans? We could let the criminals out of out of prison? WE could certainly stop paying to educate, incarcerate and take care of illegal aliens.

What do you suggest?

At least hsr is an investment that will pay off in terms of economic development.

in any case it doesn't matter because in the case voters passed the prop and they want hsr. They decided that they'd like to go in a new direction with transportation. I'm not sure why you have such an issue with it. Is it going through your backyard or something?

jim said...

And HSR proponents are apparently too schizophrenic to stick to their OWN story that HSR is meant NOT to replace commute, but to CREATE MORE long distance travel.


so, now what, no more people should be allowed to travel anymore? I think california's 70 bilion dollar tourism industry might have a problem with that.

How can hsr benefit the economy:
OVERVIEW OF TOURISM IN CALIFORNIA
The development of the tourism industry contributes to the overall growth of
California’s economy, as a major source of jobs, income and tax revenue. Travel
and tourism expenditures generate $75.4 billion annually. 105000 people in
California are employed in travel and tourism the industry generates $4.8 billion in
tax revenue."

so an investment there ( note the tax revenue ) might be a good thing.

Alon Levy said...

it still takes half our annual budget...

That says more about how little California spends on other things (except prisons).

Repeal Prop 13. Raise income and sales taxes. Elect a Governor who has a competence in governing rather than in terminating people. You don't even need to get rid of all the corruption in government - if New York and New Jersey manage to fund their education systems properly, so can California.

jim said...

Alon, propose raising taxes in california and get thrown out of office. Right or wrong, Californian's don't want their taxes raised.

Alon Levy said...

Yep. Neither do Texans, or Arizonans, or Floridans. That's why they all have education systems in the crapper.

Transit consultant said...

What everyone seems to miss is that 10 million riders a year, typical performance of non-Asian new lines, is a deep deficit situation if you have expended tens of billions of dollars in capital. The few profitable HSR lines (TGV-SE, TGV-A, and JR-Central) all had massive through traffic that predated construction of the HSR. Madrid-Sevilla, Eurostar, Taiwan, and Korea represent the majority situation in terms of new projects; losing money on HSR where there has not been financially-successful conventional rail is the likely case. California, which doesn't have 1 million annual rail trips in the HSR corridor would have real difficulty reaching 20 million, let alone the 50 or 100 million claimed. Madrid-Barcelona only got a few million annual bump from implementing HSR, same as TGV-SE and TGV-A, not 20, 50 or 100 million.