Sunday, September 13, 2009

Thoughts on the Palo Alto Teach-In

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

Yesterday's "teach-in" hosted by the Peninsula Cities Consortium in Palo Alto was a rather interesting - and useful - event. I had to leave right after lunch, so my comments are only going to be focused on the two opening speeches and the first panel. I hope and expect folks will offer their own review of the day, including the afternoon "open space" session, down in the comments.

My comments are divided in two segments: first, some thoughts on the specific presentations and panels I saw, and then an assessment of where things stand on the Peninsula.

Yoriko Kishimoto, Palo Alto city councilmember and one of the lead organizers of the "teach-in," helped put together a very good meeting and should be credited for helping make it happen. In her opening remarks she said that the day's events were to proceed from the assumption that HSR was going to happen on the Peninsula, and the best thing to do was to come together to determine how best it should be implemented.

The first speaker was Gary Patton, former Santa Cruz County supervisor and counsel to the Planning and Conservation League. He proceeded to almost completely blow Kishimoto's constructive opening statement out of the water with an exhortation to the audience to ignore the will of the voters in passing Prop 1A. Patton's argument is that any project can be stopped. He isn't wrong about that, but the idea that we should reject the voters' will runs counter to his calls for democracy and engagement with the planning process.

Patton claimed that voters didn't approve "high speed rail" but merely authorized $10 billion in bonds. Which flies in the face of the fact that Californians voted for that money precisely because they liked the idea of a high speed train following the route the CHSRA laid out. Patton's assumption is that if Palo Alto residents don't want the train, they can organize and pressure their legislators to stop it. But that doesn't deal with the fact that anti-HSR folks aren't the only ones engaged in the public, democratic process, or that 6 million Californians voted to support that train and probably aren't going to be moved by the complaints of a few.

After trying to redefine what voters did last November, Patton went on to repeat virtually every single HSR denier claim, including attacks on ridership projections, cost overruns, and even repeating the "Berlin Wall" claim. Patton even went so far as to compare HSR to offshore drilling.

Patton seems to be of the school that contends any new development that might induce growth is bad and therefore must be stopped. He claimed that Santa Cruz County's changing growth patterns were somehow a success to be emulated, and even cited his role in defeating a Rod Diridon-supported train from San Jose to Santa Cruz. But those aren't exactly arguments in his favor. Instead of allowing more density in Santa Cruz, which suffers from a severe housing shortage and sky-high prices, development was channeled to Watsonville instead. As a result, Santa Cruz County is almost impossible to get around as Highway 1 is hopelessly jammed. The county is desperately trying to get passenger rail service up and running to deal with the transportation crisis. Patton's model for Santa Cruz County has been a failure for everyone except those who have owned homes in Santa Cruz and still have enough work or income or wealth to survive the downturn and the traffic-choked, unaffordable mess Santa Cruz County has become.

No coincidence then that Patton was in Palo Alto bringing the same message to locals. Patton seems to believe that an eternal 1970s can and should be maintained. But what of the consequences? What of global warming? Economic growth? Mass transportation? The future of Caltrain? None of these were mentioned by Patton.

He also mentioned the Atherton v. CHSRA lawsuit and decision, but wasn't honest with the audience about it. He didn't mention the fact that the judge upheld every aspect of the Pacheco choice, and the only thing about the EIR not upheld was the Union Pacific ROW issue between San José and Gilroy, an issue that would exist along the Altamont alignment as well.

Patton's presence, along with Richard Tolmach's presentation later in the morning, undermined Kishimoto's goal of working within the framework of assuming HSR on the Peninsula would happen. Both Patton and Tolmach clearly have not accepted the decision of the voters to build this train, both want to undermine the basic elements of the project, and both prefer to fight HSR itself rather than find the right way to build it on the Peninsula.

I understand the desire of the event planners to have all views represented. But if the goal is to figure out how to build HSR on the Peninsula in a way that residents can live with, having people like Patton and Tolmach arguing against HSR itself is not useful to achieving that goal.

After Patton came Bob Doty, who was a breath of fresh air - not just for the room but for the Caltrain/HSR project itself. He fundamentally understands what needs to be done and how to achieve it. He recognizes that the whole country is watching California HSR. If we get it right, and build it right, we're going to make HSR possible around the country. But if we screw it up, and can't get it built, it's hard to see how HSR is going to get very far elsewhere in the country.

Doty once again showed he is the right person to speak to the Peninsula on this project. He gives clear and direct answers to questions, even when the answer is "I don't know." Doty explained that the best way to get this project built on-time and on-budget is to get the early planning done the right way at the outset - to invest time and money into finalizing all the details, and then sticking to that plan once it has been agreed.

Doty also earned the trust of many in the room, if not all the hardcore anti-HSR folks, when he said that BART to SFO was a "bad project" that "screwed the Peninsula." That was an important point to acknowledge, given the bad taste the project left in many mouths, and given Quentin Kopp's role in the HSR project.

Another key point Doty made, one that keeps getting overlooked on the Peninsula, is that HSR is necessary to Caltrain's survival. Caltrain needs to electrify in order to survive. That's the only way they can accommodate future ridership growth, the only way they can manage operating costs, the only way they can have financial survival with a 75% farebox recovery rate (Doty's prediction).

As the Peninsula continues to discuss the implementation of HSR, Doty is going to play a key and quite valuable role in helping shepherd this to completion in a fair and sensible way.

The morning panel was interesting and quite useful, aside from Tolmach. I wanted to single out Greg Greenway, representing the Peninsula Freight Rail Users Group, who made some important points that need to be kept in mind. Freight rail is just as much a part of our transportation future as is passenger rail. PFRUG supports HSR, but wants to make sure it protects existing freight rail capacity. Greenway mentioned three specific concerns: operating hours, height of overhead wires, and the South San Francisco yard. It is definitely essential to preserve freight rail, and Caltrain/HSR appear determined to do exactly that. Let's hope others on the Peninsula agree and don't support proposals that would limit the effectiveness of freight rail.

Now, on to the broader assessment of where things stand. I believe there are basically two conversations happening on the Peninsula: first, whether or not HSR should even happen on the Peninsula; and second, how it should be implemented.

The first conversation is going to continue no matter what, but it is not useful or productive at this point. The voters have spoken, the route has been selected, and billions of dollars have been or are about to be committed. While Gary Patton is right that none of this is irreversible, there is no reason to turn back now. HSR is good for California and good for the Peninsula. Caltrain cannot survive without it. So I don't see how it does any good for folks on the Peninsula to continue debating whether or not HSR should happen.

The second conversation is very productive, useful, and necessary. I have always supported that conversation, so long as it happens within the framework that Kishimoto laid out at the meeting's outset - an assumption that HSR is going to happen on the Peninsula.

I think for that conversation to be successful, a few things need to be done. First, the public needs to be given a realistic assessment of project scope and limitations. What are some of the financial guidelines? What are some of the legal guidelines? What are some of the practical guidelines? For example, Kishimoto's statement ought to be clarified: HSR is going to happen on the Caltrain ROW. The silly and unworkable notion of building it on I-280 or US-101 needs to be abandoned. But it would also help if there was some sense, for example, of what locals are willing to offer in terms of funding in order to build a tunnel. Residents cannot assume that someone else will pay for a tunnel. Like Berkeley BART, most of that cost will have to be paid for by the locals themselves. If they want a tunnel, it is reasonable to expect them to pay for it, especially if a tunnel is more expensive than above-grade tracks.

Second, future events should probably not include folks who are pushing an anti-HSR agenda. If Palo Alto, for example, truly wants to find a workable solution to the question of how to build the Caltrain/HSR project, then there's really no point to having Gary Patton and Richard Tolmach there.

Third, the rest of the Peninsula needs to be given a greater role. As Bianca noted, Burlingame and Belmont seem to the ugly stepchildren of the Peninsula Cities Consortium - their issues and needs didn't really come up much at the part of the meeting I attended. Sure, the location of the meeting in Palo Alto probably helped explain that bias, but it speaks to a need to think of this project regionally. Residents and elected leaders in other cities are much more supportive of HSR, including Redwood City and Mountain View.

Finally, I think we need to get a better understanding of the different viewpoints out there. A lot of people on the Peninsula want HSR to happen - after all, Prop 1A did get a 67% yes vote in San Mateo County. Their views don't seem to be represented well at these kinds of meetings. There is a small number of NIMBYs who are absolutely opposed to this project, and then there's a grab bag of people in the middle, who aren't opposed to HSR but have concerns about how it will be built. That group is being influenced by the NIMBYs, who have been very effective at getting out their talking points, many of which are misstatements or just flat out lies.

The CHSRA hasn't been able to counter that, primarily due to a lack of funding. This "teach-in" would have been perfect for the summer of 2007 or even 2008. But the CHSRA was fighting for its financial life during those years, as Arnold Schwarzenegger at one point (spring 2007) proposed cutting the CHSRA's budget almost to zero. They'd asked for about $130 million, and ultimately received about $50 million, which itself got delayed by the Legislature's inability to agree to a budget. That didn't help the HSR project get off on the right foot on the Peninsula, and it enabled some mistrust and misstatements to take hold. Much of what is being done now, both on the part of the CHSRA and the locals, is making up for lost time.

And I think that yesterday's teach-in helped push that in the right direction. The NIMBYs and HSR deniers aside, I felt that there is a workable coalition for moving forward on the design process over the next 18-24 months on the Peninsula. Locals need to lay out their preferences and priorities, and project planners need to lay out their own needs, their own priorities, and most importantly, what the limitations are on this project.

If there is a genuine commitment to building HSR the right way - and I felt that many in the room shared that commitment - then this project will bring the benefits to the Peninsula, and improve the quality of life, that it ought to be producing.

I hope others who attended will give their thoughts in the comments. It was good to see you all there yesterday, to those I missed, my apologies. I wished I could have stayed all day.

Finally, thanks to Steve Emslie, Yoriko Kishimoto, Sara Anderson, Nadia Naik, and everyone else who helped make the teach-in happen. It was exactly what the Peninsula needs, and I look forward to participating in future meetings.

158 comments:

Alon Levy said...

I disagree that freight is such a vital part of the Caltrain corridor. It's one train per day. If it's so important for the freight users to keep shipping by rail then they can petition to change the line into an electrified short line with UIC-compliant trains. But compatibility with the current way of carrying freight means more embankments and heavier elevated structures.

Anonymous said...

Cruickshank reveals his fascist inclinations yet again: "HSR uber alles. This is the basic format for how HSR will be build. You can quibble about the details, but otherwise, you have no right to speak or have a formal opinion."

Heavy freight on the Peninsula is very minor, and accommodating it could balloon project costs dramatically.

Richard Tolmach will prove prophetic if this megaproject evolved into a disaster. Plenty of precedent supports his position. You would be wise to listen to what he has to say, but HSR fascism can tolerate no dissent.

transbay said...

As you know from my tweet, in the second half panel, Gary Patton suggested that to ease access to Oakland A's games, we should replace high-speed rail with a van share system.

Robert Cruickshank said...

That statement from Patton is truly inane. What kind of reaction did that get from the audience?

Anonymous said...

Patton's point was actually quite interesting. When infrastructure costs are expensive, conservation is a better way to deal with increased demand than expansion. This has proven absolutely true wrt electricity and is almost certainly true for transport, where we should be thinking about trip reduction.

looking on said...

Yes, Robert does not like to listen and he often puts out bad info.

What's with the Belmont and Burlingame being the "ugly stepchildren"....

Terry Nagel of Burlingame was actually the lead coordinator in putting together the "teach-in".

Yoriko is running for State Assembly, she is termed out of PA council this fall. She has tried very hard to "tip-toe" around her complete support for the project by trying to walk a middle ground. It isn't working and her campaign is going down in flames. She actually tried very hard to make the "teach-in" another of the town hall type of meetings, where only the pro HSR people are on the panel, no real time given to others. She was badly out voted on the issue and had to relent.

She got in her pitch "..that HSR is going to happen ... " at the end of her overly long introduction, complete with noting every politician in the room she could find, along with noting that Ruskin has bailed out, due to the very late night/ early morning session in Sacramento. She even "cow towed" to Robert and Clem by making sure they were recognized as "blogers".

Whatever, it was a good meeting; Robert's analysis of Gary Patton's keynote is without validity. Considering Patton standing in the environmental community and elsewhere, what he has said in this regard will just go un-heeded.

No Robert, the Prop 1A ballot vote doesn't mean it is all over. How did we stop the Vietanm war? How do we stop anything approved by the voters or by their elected officials, when they are recognized as being without substance or harmful? Your argument is just silly.

jim said...

Are you honestly trying to compare the Vietnam War with High Speed Rail? You guys are nutjobs.

Anonymous said...

I doubt very much that the hsr ballot measure would pass on the Peninsula if it were to be voted on today.

Ergo they might take the hsr sans berm or other aerial. Threats that without the hsr Caltrain is doomed won't impress - BART has lusted after the Peninsula for decades. BART would grab that Caltrain ROW immediately, with help from its many friends at the highest levels.

So if Gavin wants hsr to the TBT let him start lobbying to move to 101. I do not know where they would get the funds for a 4-track subway thru PA etc. A tunnel for the hsr only would never be acceptable.

another anon said...

Quoting Robert"


Second, future events should probably not include folks who are pushing an anti-HSR agenda. If Palo Alto, for example, truly wants to find a workable solution to the question of how to build the Caltrain/HSR project, then there's really no point to having Gary Patton and Richard Tolmach there. "


I am so thankful you won't have any say in this matter. I hope you noted that neither Diridon or Kopp were around. They had every right to come as attendees; they certainly were not welcome as participants.

Sun Rises, Sun Falls said...

The comparison between CHSRA's efforts and American involvement in the Vietnam War does reveal similarities:

Contractor profiteering...
(Bechtel is a common denominator)

Flawed strategic assumptions...

Lack of a clear, demonstrable mission or goal...

Lies and propaganda from officials, especially when reporting "progress" to the public...

Initially popular but increasingly bitter and contentious...

Spokker said...

"I doubt very much that the hsr ballot measure would pass on the Peninsula if it were to be voted on today."

Haha, I didn't think it was going to pass back in November!

Anyway, Tolmach is a blowhard. I've never met the guy but based on what he writes in the TRAC newsletter and other things he seems like an arrogant fuck. I actually like Morris Brown more than this guy.

Bianca said...

Patton's "Super Shuttle Around the Bay" argument was the cherry on top of his "let's-not-build-anything-new" sundae. His brand of "environmentalism" seems to ignore the realities of population growth and energy security. His argument is that since we have already built all those freeways we should just stick with that instead of building some new infrastructure that will help us get off of oil. Infrastructure ages. It doesn't last forever. Patton didn't seem willing to acknowledge that.

I have to say that Richard Tolmach demonstrated utter tone-deafness, if not outright listening comprehension failure. The premise of the teach-in, according to Yoriko Kishimoto, was that HSR will be coming down the Caltrain ROW, and the question of the day was how best to do that. Did the Peninsula Cities Consortium not clarify that to the speakers beforehand? He was arguing as if it was October 2008 instead of September 2009. And someone really needs to take him aside and tell him that the whole "you know who else built 4 tracks through residential areas?" shtick just destroys his credibility entirely. Comparing CHSRA to 1930's Germany is not even remotely constructive.

I think that the whole point of having Patton and Tolmach there was so that people who are opposed to HSR completely felt represented. Patton's point about engaging your local politicians is a valid one. And, given his position with PCL his spin on the status of that litigation is not unexpected. At the end of the day, all sides can characterize the ruling as much as they want, but it's all posturing until the judgment is issued.

On a going forward basis, CHSRA would be well-served by having Bob Doty do all the talking to folks on the Peninsula, and keeping Kopp and Diridon muzzled.

With regards to Belmont and Burlingame being the "ugly stepchildren": there were a number of questions and comments suggesting changing the alignment to Altamont that seemed to suggest that moving the alignment to Altamont would solve the Peninsula's problems. Comments of that nature completely overlook that an Altamont alignment would mean that all other Peninsula towns north of Atherton would still have HSR running through. Indeed, HSR will run through Menlo Park with either Pacheco or Altamont. The observation was not intended as a slight against either Burlingame or Belmont or their participation at the Teach-in; rather, it was an observation that some people seemed either ignorant of geography or cheerfully willing to sell the other Peninsula towns down the river, and my observation was based on that perception.

Finally, to this comment from someone who can't bother to create a pseudonym: Cruickshank reveals his fascist inclinations yet again: "HSR uber alles. This is the basic format for how HSR will be build. You can quibble about the details, but otherwise, you have no right to speak or have a formal opinion."

if that were true, this blog would not be open to any comments at all, but especially not anonymous ones.

Alon Levy said...

Random historical fact: Nazi Germany was generally pro-road and anti-rail. It planned a few rapid transit projects for prestige purposes, but for mundane transportation, it preferred VW and the autobahn.

Spokker said...

"Comparing CHSRA to 1930's Germany is not even remotely constructive."

Hahaha I saw that on Cruickshank's Twitter feed and I couldn't believe that this "respected" head of a retarded rail fan club actually said that.

Haha, "Train Riders Association of California". As a train rider they sure don't speak for me, those assholes. I would never pay $100 to attend that stupid railfan convention of theirs to hear how slightly increasing the speed of those big, heavy Surfliner diesel smoke belching trains is going to change the world or something. And I'm a Surfliner rider!

Then they wax poetic about the Coast Daylight. COAST DAYLIGHT! BWAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!!! A 12 hour train between LA and SF is going to get Californians out of their cars. I hope the CAHSR project blocks that piece of shit FRA-compliant train from going down the peninsula!

Alon Levy said...

Also, re: trip reduction, the rationale used here is the opposite as for electricity conservation. Electricity conservation was initiated to avoid building new coal-fired power plants, which would cause pollution; the idea was that with conservation, the needs of the West Coast could be supplied by hydro alone. Trip reduction in this case would avoid building trains and supply transportation needs by car and plane alone, which has the opposite environmental effect.

Spokker said...

"Random historical fact: Nazi Germany was generally pro-road and anti-rail."

Maybe we should throw it back in his face.

"You know who else hated rail??? That's right!"

God, I know I'm flying off the handle or whatever, but it really pisses me off whenever someone starts slinging that Nazi bullshit around, as if it has anything remotely to do with high speed rail whether you're for it or against it. Those morons protesting in Washington over health care are pulling the same crap and I hate to see a guy who supposedly cares about rail in California doing it.

Anonymous said...

Bianca says


The premise of the teach-in, according to Yoriko Kishimoto, was that HSR will be coming down the Caltrain ROW


The key words here are "according to Yorkko Kishimoto --- certainly not according to many others participating in the PCC.

BruceMcF said...

@Alon, "If its so important for the freight users ..."

That is certainly one way to view it - if its critical, it will pay to run it as an electric short line, and if the business is so marginal that the extra cost would push it under ... then precisely how critical can it be?

As long as the non-HSR tracks retain capacity to carry medium freight ... as noted before on the Caltrain HSR compatibility blog, 2.5% gradient is reasonable for 22.5 tonne axle load and electric traction ... it retains the functional capacity to provide energy and space efficient freight transport into San Francisco.

Anonymous said...

Why is someone from Monterey going to a Peninsula meeting? Save some gas, will ya? Your religion isn't needed here.

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

I completely agree with you about the lack of good information.

There is genuine NIMBYism here on the Peninsula, and also serious concerns about how things are actually going to work.

It doesn't help to dismiss proposals as "silly" without explaining why - people who have not been in the details probably just don't know. For example, why would be better to route HSR via the Caltrain right of way, vs. the 101 corridor, which is already used for another limited access, high-speed route. There's a level of basic information that is needed about the costs and practicality of various options.

A commentor on this blog several months ago said it well: "Here in Redwood City, one of the basic confusions is the schedule for the decision process, which decisions have already been made and what options/costs/designs are we confronting at this point in the process. After CHSRA and CalTrain gives us the facts then we need an open two-way dialogue to discuss the issues within our communities and with these key agencies. My personal opinion is that part of the NIMBY backlash is a lack of early public engagement.

http://cahsr.blogspot.com/2009/06/mountain-view-wont-join-peninsula.html?showComment=1244656623889#c7459799827310483543


From an advocacy perspective, it doesn't help to dismiss questions and suggestions as "silly" on a blanket level. For effective advocacy, I think that helping fill the information gap would be more helpful than making fun of people who lack information.

Adina said...

On a different note, I understand why rail freight to the Bay Area is essential, but not this route. From discussion this weekend, the Peninsula route gets less than 10% of the freight traffic than the East Bay route. And the Port of Redwood City does minuscule business compared to Oakland. If preserving freight on the HSR corridor leads to worse designs, I don't see a good reason to build a worse design in order to preserve the tiny share of Bay Area freight rail that routes through the Peninsula.

ca-news reader said...

it looks like the Peninsula isn't the only place concerned with HSR "fast tracking"

http://www.whittierdailynews.com/news/ci_13328793

AndyDuncan said...

God, I know I'm flying off the handle or whatever, but it really pisses me off whenever someone starts slinging that Nazi bullshit around, as if it has anything remotely to do with high speed rail whether you're for it or against it. Those morons protesting in Washington over health care are pulling the same crap and I hate to see a guy who supposedly cares about rail in California doing it.

See Godwin's Law and Reductio ad Hitlerum

James said...

Robert,

Your report is very much what I also experienced.

Gary Patton sounded like he was spoiling for a fight. He mentioned off-shore drilling as an example of environmental activism, not a direct comparison to HSR. HSR and drilling only share in that they both touch on energy conservation issues.

Had to bite my tongue during Tolmach’s presentation. His background is in passenger rail planning and his presentation styled itself as technical but his hyperbolic statements bordering on outright lies were strongly political spin. He presented the image of the Berlin Wall as typical. The ironic part is that a viaduct on columns at that very location would actually greatly improve access between downtown businesses and the park and city hall.

Doty’s presentation was night and day from Tolmach. Doty shows himself to be a world-class systems engineer with exactly the right experience to coordinate with HSR. Elements of his short talk could have been taken from a graduate level systems-engineering course. I think the audience got his point that there are proper ways to conduct such a project, even if the subtleties of systems engineering went over their heads.

I agree Doty would represent the project well but I would rather he limit his public speaking to presentations where his clarity and expertise will shed light on those who are most in need of understanding. His time is best spent supporting the engineering effort. For Doty to spend his time helping every concerned and confused citizen climb the engineering learning curve would be a terrible waste.

I understood Doty’s reference to 75% farebox recovery as the upper limit of what may be achievable given efficient execution, equipment and operation. And if it can stay on the optimum cost/schedule curve he presented. (And before anyone chimes in with smart comments regarding the use of Caltrain with efficiency in the same paragraph, they better first listen to what Mr. Doty has to say.)

An no ‘Looking on’ Ms Kishimoto did not cow-tow to Robert and Clem. Her brief mention was the only mention I heard all day. Robert and Clem et. al. have done much more than many of the other politicians mentioned to promote awareness and understanding of the issues.

I attended a working group led by Terry Nagel. The topic was computer or web-based tools to coordinate expert and citizen involvement. 6 or 7 people, including Dave Young P.E. One of many points discussed: Communities to decide on what they want. This implies that the community has to understand what is needed and this takes education. No one has time or is funded to take the chaos of the citizen participants and bring about a consensus. It has to be done by representation.

The general tone of the working sessions was we all are more in agreement than disagreement that we want this done right. But how do we get from there from here. Terry wisely agreed with the group that any grass-roots consensus must be collected and presented by key elected officials. This would serve to ground the consensus with the reality of the relevant political representation and provide the HSR representatives a point of contact for each community.

Adina said...

I would love to see Robert Doty continue to play a role in community communications. He came across as knowledgeable, trustworthy, not a pushover, but engaged with the community. It was great to hear him acknowledge that the implementation of the BART-SFO connector was botched, in cost and design. He mentioned the 5 stairways, sounding like someone who’s tried to use them!

When people asked questions he had answers to, he answered them. When he didn't know the answer, he said so. The lack of BS was refreshing.

By contrast representatives of transit projects and agencies often come across as high-handed, presenting a seemingly inevitable conclusion to their audience.

I would much rather see Doty take some his time to address the community than some of the more high-handed senior people, and than PR/communications types who don't actually have any answers to give other than a pre-digested message.

Anonymous said...

High Speed Rail Authority ignoring the Transbay Terminal in planning

http://www.sfexaminer.com/opinion/blogs/under-the-dome/High-Speed-Rail-Authority-ignoring-the-Transbay-Terminal-in-planning-59188247.html

James said...

Patton was followed by Doty. I like the way Doty's introduction said that what he was about to present was actually in agreement with Patton. Though Doty was presenting sober facts based on practical experience of actually technically building things, not politically tearing them down. This shows that Doty will agree with the truth no matter where it is from. If Patton spoke an element of truth, Doty agreed.

Doty also pointed out later during Q/A that his politely remaining quiet during other presentations is not to be taken as tacit agreement. He was talking loudly (on the inside!) Sounds like he was also biting his tongue.

I specifically asked Terry Nagel about Robert and Clem's blogs and she confirmed that she reads them and has gained a better understanding of the technical issues along the peninsula.

Re: non cow-tow: two other bloggers were also mentioned as well as key support staff.

James said...

Adina were you also in Terry's group?

Adina said...

Robert, yes. This is me:
http://www.alevin.com/

Anonymous said...

I second the motion to declare Gary Patton and Richard Tolmach as blowhards and persona non grata at future such sessions. Patton is your classic parasite who serves NIMBY interests by finding inconsequential defects in CEQA filings in order to delay public improvements. His bragging about how he dodged the draft by going into the merchant marine was a classic touch. Tolmach just hates big projects and assumes that everyone is corrupt.

Clem said...

The afternoon panel was quite interesting as well.

Amazing bobbing & weaving skills on display by Dominic "Teflon" Spaethling. (I say that with admiration: it's part of his job.)

The eminent domain lawyer (Bradley Matteoni) basically was a wet blanket for anybody hoping that matters of eminent domain might stop the project. Her basic point is that if it comes to eminent domain being used, it's too late, and the best a property owner can hope for is a bit more money, inasmuch as the value of the property might be debatable--and then only if the owner sues. This confirms an impression I had already formed from a conversation with the Samtrans eminent domain guy: the process is very straightforward and well-practiced, no matter how emotional it may be for the land owner.

Some of the freight guys seem concerned about the anti-freight arguments (at least to them...) set forth in my blog.

It was nice to meet some of you, and sorry I didn't get to meet everyone. I had to leave early to be with my kids :-)

Anonymous said...

Doty’s presentation was night and day from Tolmach. Doty shows himself to be a world-class systems engineer with exactly the right experience to coordinate with HSR. Elements of his short talk could have been taken from a graduate level systems-engineering course. I think the audience got his point that there are proper ways to conduct such a project, even if the subtleties of systems engineering went over their heads.

Please be more accurate. Hopefully, the online video will be available shortly for all to see. Doty gave a decent talk, but his talk had nothing to do with graduate level systems engineering. Not a single formula or technical datum was used. Doty's talk would fit right in at a touchy-feely business self-improvement meeting, but it wasn't technical in the slightest. The subtleties of systems engineering my arse...

In the short time alotted, Tolmach actually explained that four-track, full-grade-separation projects through suburban neighborhoods is NOT what the Europeans do with HSR. The last time Germany did this sort of thing was in the 1930s. He also cited the BART-SFO megafailure, and guess which boisterous political fool is involved with both BART-SFO and CHSRA? Quentin Kopp!

Kopp is still active in trying to kill the HSR connection to the Transbay Terminal in order to protect his BART-SFO screw-up from even further ridership losses.

James said...

Not everything in a graduate level course involves equations. Ok, so I exaggerated - graduate level - and subtitles. It was just a reaction I had when we jumped from political bull sh-- to engineering practicality from Patton to Doty to Tolmach.

And I stand by may comment "elements" of Doty's comments and the experience behind them, would enlighten systems engineering students. No Doty did not present theory and equations, his comments implied personal experience with systems engineering case studies, which do belong in a graduate level class.

Is it four HSR tracks, or TWO HSR tracks and two inter-city commuter / freight tracks? Tolmach kept harping FOUR HSR tracks. Will the HSR trains share the same tracks pounded by gravel cars?

James said...

How many HSR tracks when they are separate out in the Central Valley?

When European HSR tracks approach the city and align with local tracks, how many?

Just what point was Tolmach making?

Samsonian said...

@ James

Is it four HSR tracks, or TWO HSR tracks and two inter-city commuter / freight tracks? Tolmach kept harping FOUR HSR tracks. Will the HSR trains share the same tracks pounded by gravel cars?

Nobody really uses more than 2 dedicated HSR tracks because it's a lot of capacity as it is (about 12-15 tph, or 1 every 4-5 mins on avg), and only Japan is running at or near capacity right now (China and others will in the future).

That doesn't mean they don't have another pair of tracks in some areas for local commuter trains or room to expand tracks if needed. They serve different purposes, have separate track, but share the same ROW. You can't run many trains with wildly varying speeds and stations stops on just 2 tracks.

On the SF Peninsula, there will likely be 2 tracks for HSR/Express CalTrain, and 2 tracks for local CalTrain and (if they can work it all out) freight trains. At least that's the general idea laid out so far.

There will need to be a FRA mixed-traffic waiver on the local tracks, and I suspect there will have to be height and weight restrictions on freight. We can't spend vast sums overbuilding this ROW for just a few daily freight trains. Nor can we accept freight trains imposing unacceptable levels of wear and tear on publicly owned passenger tracks.

How many HSR tracks when they are separate out in the Central Valley?

I'm not sure I follow. But there will probably be just 2 tracks for almost all of the Central Valley. There'll probably need to be 4 in the station areas though, so local/regional trains can stop, and express trains can fly through without slowing down or being impeded.

When European HSR tracks approach the city and align with local tracks, how many?

This is actually an interesting discussion in its own right. Different countries have made different design decisions regarding getting HSR in and out built up cities.

Some have 4 tracks and segregate HSR from other rail services, like CHSRA is planning on Peninsula, some have just 2 tracks and share with other trains. FRA regulations will prevent the latter, even if we wanted to do it.

Someone correct me if I'm wrong, but I believe Japan built 100% dedicated HSR tracks through all the cities it serves. France used new ROW/tracks in rural areas, but used existing tracks in some built up cities and even (and I heard they admitted this was a mistake) built bypasses/spurs around/into some cities.

Leveraging existing tracks reduces costs, from not having to build new ROW in built up areas. However, it reduces capacity as a result of sharing tracks with local trains.

Bypasses/spurs are often desired by the city the train is coming through (less noise and so on), but it presents a series of drawback. They cost quite a bit more to build, and even worse they reduce capacity and operational flexibility. For comparison, the Tokaido Shinkansen from Tokyo - Osaka (the original bullet train) carries up to 12-15 tph or 1 train every 4-5 minutes on avg. The LGV Sud Est line from Paris - Lyon can only squeeze through 4-6 tph, or 1 train every 10-15 mins on avg. A 2-3 times difference in capacity.

CHSRA wants to build a system that will last for 50-100 years. Learning what others did right and wrong, is imperative to getting high speed rail built right.

Spokker said...

"Someone correct me if I'm wrong, but I believe Japan built 100% dedicated HSR tracks through all the cities it serves."

The bullet train in Japan is actually the standard gauge network and is separate from the slower narrow gauge network.

They also have a "Mini-Shinkansen".

Brandon in San Diego said...

As yet, I don't think anyone in Southern California is familiar with the peninsula nimby's.

That observation, plus, that few articles seem to appear in the Big local daily's... and the assumption that few make in into the local tv news... has me asserting that this blog site is making something out of nothing. Or, at a minimum blowing it out of proportion.

If teh nimby's want to really make headway, they need to generate a larger audience.

James said...

@ Samaonian

Yes. I had in mind and tried to imply everything exactly as you describe it. You state it well (much better than I could, which is why I simply posed the questions) Much of what you said has been discussed on this blog over the past year. The intended context was in comparison to Tolmach's repeated statement referring to "four HSR tracks". There are only two HSR tracks. And as you get away from the Bay Area, the CV, for the most part, has two tracks.

Exaggerated statements such as Tolmach's were made during the teach-in that could not be refuted in the format of the event, and unfortunately may have led some of the participants who were there to gain understanding with some wrong conclusions. Too bad since if Tolmach and Patton were replaced by other technical experts, we could have had better education of the public.

Mr. Doty, Mr. Young, and Mr, Carrasco's presentations gave us a refreshing taste of what an informative technical presentation could be to explore options and focus on solutions.

Andre Peretti said...

Number of tracks:
Guillaume Pépy, SNCF's CEO, said that planning Paris-Lyon TGV line with only two tracks was a big mistake, and two tracks will eventually have to be added at a much greater cost than if originally planned.
This doesn't mean four tracks will be necessary in California because some conditions are special to France:
1) The 5-week paid vacation, which most people synchronize with school holidays, puts millions of people on trains, planes and highways at the same time.
2) All TGV riders must have a seat, which isn't the case with other companies where standing riders are allowed.
Also note that the SNCF made another original mistake when spacing the tracks for a 300km/h (187mph) maximum speed. With tracks spaced for 360km/h (225mph), which is the commercial speed of future lines, train frequency will be higher.
So, if California knows no huge vacationers' waves, if CHSR runs at 225mph and accepts standing riders at peak times, 2 tracks might well be enough.

Anonymous said...

Yeah, up here in Northern California, no one knows about the NIMBYs that halted the 710 extension either, but they managed to get that halted.

lookin on said...


Kopp is still active in trying to kill the HSR connection to the Transbay Terminal in order to protect his BART-SFO screw-up from even further ridership losses.


There is no doubt that Kopp is doing what he can to kill off the train from going to the TBT, but surely this isn't over anything as trival as trying to cover up his BART-SFO fiasco. No it has to be much deeper.

Who is the firm Gensler representing? Gensler wants Beals street re-visited. Why? Kopp claims the TBT is not eligible for stimulus funding. Who are the land holders? How can the Authority not study the mandated by law terminus at the TBT in AB-3034?

Right now we are getting only a smell of what is really going on here, and it smells putrid.

As is always the case in this blog, anything said by anyone in an anti HSR frame, is viewed as being evil and should not be credible.

Patton's credentials are impeccable. He was the high light of the "Teach-in". Tolmach told the audience what he had been writing and investigating for years. He called the project a "scam", and I think he is right.

Doty tone here was refreshing and a complete 180 from what he was preaching at the Menlo Park/ Eshoo town square meeting. Why the change in posture?

NO The population down south doesn't know what is going on up here, and we only catch a little of what is taking place down south.

In the maentime, PB rakes in its fees -- they will be happy to be on the payroll of the California voters forever, if they can manage it.

observer said...

"Doty's tone here was refreshing and a complete 180 from what he was preaching at the Menlo Park/ Eshoo town square meeting."

This is an interesting comment. Can you give any more info on this?

BruceMcF said...

Samsonian: "... France used new ROW/tracks in rural areas, but used existing tracks in some built up cities and even (and I heard they admitted this was a mistake) built bypasses/spurs around/into some cities."

France already had Express Interurban tracks as well as tracks for local services running into the large metropolitan areas.

SNCF, the French railway, tends to let smaller local towns where they will be locating a station decide whether to pay for the cost of bringing the station into the center or to leave SNCF to build a "beet field" station where its cheapest to run the corridor.

Its Italy that is really big on bypass/spurs, and pays a cost penalty for avoiding the political fight over whether to construct a fast alignment through town or put the station outside the town itself.

But bypassing town is obviously no option for San Francisco!

Anonymous said...

The key question here is whether the CHSRA will renounce its insistence on aerail thru Palo Alto et al. A combination of trenching, tunneling and surface could probably be developed that would provide the hsr with the total grade separation it needs. But Bechtel hubris stands in the way. I would be surprized if a compromise is found.

The 101 corridor should be restudied as an alternative. Try some creative engineering.

Board Watcher said...

But bypassing town is obviously no option for San Francisco!

How do you 'bypass' a town that's at a deadend?

That's the problem with these comparisons. They're not taking into consideration that there's a difference between going through the length of a 50 mile populated region to get to a deadend vs. going around or through the region because it's between other cities.

mike said...

BART to SFO was a "bad project" that "screwed the Peninsula."

The ironic part is that the over-engineered, over-tunneled BART-SFO extension is precisely the kind of project that the NIMBYs want CHSR to become. Fortunately, most California residents (and even most San Mateo/Santa Clara county residents) do not want that. Hopefully rational heads will prevail.

Tolmach actually explained that four-track, full-grade-separation projects through suburban neighborhoods is NOT what the Europeans do with HSR.

Good thing no one has proposed any such thing! What is proposed is conventional, 4-track electrified rapid rail access to the region's core (which will host both HSTs and EMUs). This is not at all uncommon in Europe.

Yeah, up here in Northern California, no one knows about the NIMBYs that halted the 710 extension either, but they managed to get that halted.

And that is relevant how? Last I checked, Caltrans owns no ROW for 710 through Pasadena. Virtually every inch of the 710 connector would require eminent domain.

If there were an existing 4-lane highway with very wide shoulders through that area, and Caltrans proposed widening it to 6-lanes within the state-owned ROW and removing some traffic lights, do you truly believe that there would be nothing there now?

The equivalent situation on the Peninsula would be if CHSRA wanted to build tracks directly adjacent to El Camino Real and planned to use eminent domain to secure the entire ROW from Santa Clara to Daly City. Yes, in that scenario, I could imagine that local opposition might be able to halt the project north of SJ. But that is a completely different scenario from the one we face today.

Ergo they might take the hsr sans berm or other aerial.

A berm is not an aerial. There are no proposals for aerials through Palo Alto (or virtually anywhere on the Peninsula).

mike said...

The key question here is whether the CHSRA will renounce its insistence on aerail thru Palo Alto et al

They never proposed an aerial (or an "aerail") through Palo Alto. What is there to renounce?

AndyDuncan said...

@anonymous: High Speed Rail Authority ignoring the Transbay Terminal in planning

I don't think they're ignoring it at all, sounds more like they've been listening very carefully and realized that TTT wants a bunch of money to build a poorly designed train box, and has no intention of fixing the design. For all the bitching people do about CAHSR, now you're bitching when it looks like they're covering their asses, protecting themselves from a Poorly designed station.

The sites being investigated include the existing Caltrain stop at Fourth and King and a city block bounded by Beale, Main, Mission and Harrison streets, according to Schwartz.

Actually a NW/SE aligned station from mission to harrison would be a decent option. It's actually closer to BART and you would only have to turn the trains 90 degrees, instead of 180 degrees. It's also directly adjacent to the TTT.

Sure it would be better if the bus lines and the train station were colocated, but it makes sense for CAHSR to investigate other options if the TJPA is being recalcitrant.

mike said...

This confirms an impression I had already formed from a conversation with the Samtrans eminent domain guy: the process is very straightforward and well-practiced, no matter how emotional it may be for the land owner.

IMO, they should use the possibility of eminent domain only to incentivize landowners to bargain in good faith. E.g., that small row of houses that we'd all like to take just south of I-380. Offer to buy those guys out at 50% above market value - they just won the lottery! Yeah, it's more than you strictly need to pay, but it's minor compared to the operational savings of easing that San Bruno Cutoff curve. Then, if anyone wants to "hold out" in an attempt to fleece the taxpayers for even more, explain to them that the alternative is to go through the eminent domain process, at the end of which they will only receive around market value.

mike said...

Sorry, meant Bayshore Cutoff (curve in San Bruno) rather than San Bruno Cutoff.

Robert Cruickshank said...

Adina,

I think a big part of the problem is that CHSRA didn't have the resources to effectively communicate some key things to the public in recent years. They were fighting for their life in 2007 and 2008. As I said, they are now playing catch-up.

Part of that is explaining why a 101 is so unworkable as to not be within the realm of credibility. Of course, I do understand why the average Palo Alto resident might look at this and say "well why not route it along 101?" The reasons are obvious to we who are familiar with the problem, but aren't obvious at all to someone unfamiliar with it.

There are at least four main problems with a 101 routing that make it a non-starter. The first is that 101 has a number of curves that are too tight for high speed trains to effectively navigate. The Caltrain ROW, with the exception of the San Bruno curve, is much better suited to high speed trains.

The second is the issue of existing bridges over 101. I don't know exactly how many there are over 101 between SF and San Jose but I'm guessing 2 dozen is in the ballpark. You'd have to either build the HSR viaduct quite high to give proper clearance above the existing overpasses, or take lanes from 101 (which might still not leave you enough room to fit trainsets and overhead catenaries under existing overpasses), or widen 101 and raise the height of existing overpasses, which will lead to the taking of FAR more homes and business than on the Caltrain ROW.

The third is that stations along 101 are not optimal from a transit design perspective. Urban density along the Peninsula is bunched along the Caltrain corridor, whereas 101 isn't. Passenger rail designers are turning away from using freeway medians and corridors for trains - they don't attract nearly the same number of riders as do stations in denser places.

The fourth is that a 101 routing does nothing whatsoever to save Caltrain. This is a point that I am not quite sure has gotten as much attention on the Peninsula as it needs. Caltrain may not be able to survive without the upgrades to the corridor they need to run more and faster trains. The only way they'll get the money to do those upgrades is partnering with HSR. If the 101 corridor were selected for HSR, it might be the kiss of death for Caltrain.

It's unfortunate that those points are not more widely understood. But hopefully that helps explain the dismissiveness towards the totally unworkable 101 corridor that many people have. It's just not a viable option.

In fact, I hope to make this comment into a blog post at some point soon.

BruceMcF said...

AndyDuncan said...
"@anonymous: "The sites being investigated include the existing Caltrain stop at Fourth and King and a city block bounded by Beale, Main, Mission and Harrison streets, according to Schwartz."

Actually a NW/SE aligned station from mission to harrison would be a decent option. It's actually closer to BART and you would only have to turn the trains 90 degrees, instead of 180 degrees. It's also directly adjacent to the TTT.
"

If there's an option of a elevated pedestrian walkway from the TBT to that "TBT-station", the relocation permits the station to avoid the headache of the mis-aligned columns, and its closer to BART, that's an interesting option.

I assume that the tunneling is a mix of cut and cover under streets and full tunneling under hills - what streets would the tunnel be running under?

Bianca said...

a 101 routing does nothing whatsoever to save Caltrain. This is a point that I am not quite sure has gotten as much attention on the Peninsula as it needs.

Bob Doty was pretty blunt about that point on Saturday, but I don't think it's widely understood.

On the other hand, even if some fairy Godmother appeared and gave Caltrain the funding it needs to survive without HSR, the first thing Caltrain would set about doing is start implementing its "Caltrain 2025" plan for electrification and grade separation. Grade separation is one of the major issues that has local neighborhoods up in arms about HSR. It is a necessity for Caltrain. Killing HSR, stopping it in San Jose, or routing it elsewhere on the Peninsula won't necessarily stop the grade separation process. The only thing that stops Caltrain from eventually achieving its stated goal of total grade separation is killing Caltrain altogether. As much as people around here grumble about the horns, there is no broad consensus that Caltrain should disappear completely.

Most folks down here don't grasp how much grade separation and electrification are vital to Caltrain's long-term future, or that HSR is Caltrain's best shot of paying for it. Fairy godmothers are in short supply these days.

AndyDuncan said...

I assume that the tunneling is a mix of cut and cover under streets and full tunneling under hills - what streets would the tunnel be running under?

Dunno, to take advantage of the alignment, they'd have to make a 45-degree turn at 4th/king, follow embarcadero (either underneath or inland from), and make another 45 degree turn at beale/main.

I have no idea what the fill issues are there, but it would likely have to be some kind of deep tunnel unless they went under embarcadero, which I imagine would be expensive given the fact that the bay is right there.

Of course, they could go aerial over embarcadero, but they'd have to deal with the muni line and an incredible amount of pushback from people who just bought condos there. To say nothing of the pushback from a city that just took a big aerial structure down over the embarcadero.

jim said...

they could easily tunnel under townsend to beale and up beale to howard and wind up in the currently planned tail track area.
and they can cut and cover on townsend and beale as those neighborhoods have been torn up and under construction for years anyway.

AndyDuncan said...

@Jim, yeah I guess it's the connection from townsend to beale that I wasn't sure about, but it's not that long. There's those relatively new condos there by the ball park. Not sure if that makes it easier (they're new and more sturdy) or more difficult (they're taller than most buildings along the other route) to tunnel under them.

There was talk that Caltrain was already planning on terminating some of their trains at 4th/king due to capacity issues with the TTT. A clean-sheet-of-paper station between beale and main has a lot of room for a very broad train box.

Architecturally, you might even have space to bring the trains back up to ground level and have a nice looking, sun-lit train shed instead of a depressing, claustrophobic hole in the ground. Looks like that would require buying the buildings at either end of that lot, and you wouldn't be able to sell air rights. But a proper train shed would be nice.

Anonymous said...

Bianca is drinking the lemonade that CalTrain is pouring.

The voters voted to build a HSR project. The voters did not vote for a survival package for CalTrain, or any other entity for that matter.

In point of fact. allying themselves with the Authorty, might well be their death sentence. Who is going to take their service from SJ to SF, which now if the baby bullet service and according to Doty and others, is what has been their lifeline lately, when they can take the snazzy, luxury of the HSR trainset.

BTW, I hope you noticed that SJ airport experienced a major drop in passenger traffic over the last year. The economy is a major reason.

But also meetings was telecommunication of meetings on large screens, taking away traffic from the airport.

Anonymous said...

The only thing that stops Caltrain from eventually achieving its stated goal of total grade separation is killing Caltrain altogether.

Even if Caltrain disappeared tomorrow, BART would move in and connect Millbrae to Santa Clara with 100% grade separations.

The grade seps are coming, HSR or not, Caltrain or not.

Board Watcher said...

Caltrain may not be able to survive without the upgrades to the corridor they need to run more and faster trains. The only way they'll get the money to do those upgrades is partnering with HSR. If the 101 corridor were selected for HSR, it might be the kiss of death for Caltrain.

And that’s the fallacy of the ARRA objectives. If it were to focus on improving regional transportation either in place of or in addition to HSR, Caltrain wouldn’t be screwed. Is it absolutely true that Caltrain has no other option for funding sources? This is hard to believe. Bob Doty has a conflict of interest in reporting equally to the HSR and JPB CEOs. Caltrain continues to get short-changed, and somehow we’re all okay with that – the JP Board included.

Alon Levy said...

Andre, all Shinkansen riders must have a seat, too, except on some peak hour local trains. The capacity on the Tokaido Shinkansen is still about three times higher than on the LGV Sud-Est, due to the lack of schedule complications arising from French-style spurs and bypasses. Shinkansen trainsets also accelerate faster than TGVs (link).

Korea manages a high capacity as well - it currently runs 6 tph on its main trunk line, but ridership is still one half the original estimate, implying plans for 12 tph capacity. In Taiwan, HSR runs 4 tph peak, but ridership is again half the original estimates, and one quarter the estimate planned for 2036. I believe in both countries all passengers must have a seat, as on the TGV.

I strongly suspect that, Kopp and Diridon or not, in 20 years there will be French Richard Mlynariks ranting about the incompetence of European rail systems and comparing Europe's passenger rail negatively with the success of rail in the US and East Asia.

jim said...

AndyDuncan said...
@Jim, yeah I guess it's the connection from townsend to beale that I wasn't sure about, but it's not that long. There's those relatively new condos there by the ball park. Not sure if that makes it easier (they're new and more sturdy)


take it cut and cover under townsend to embarcadero, up embarcadero to beale and up beale to howard.
it could be a shallow cut all the way and not have to go under anything.

all traffic in this area can easily be re routed to adjacent streets. and there would only be a need to close southbound lanes of embarcadero for a few hundred feet.

jim said...

for that matter they could run it along the waterfront to the ferry building with a station at the foot of market.

Bianca said...

Who is going to take their service from SJ to SF, which now if the baby bullet service and according to Doty and others, is what has been their lifeline lately, when they can take the snazzy, luxury of the HSR trainset.

The Baby Bullet was a huge success because it shortened travel times by eliminating stops. An electrified Caltrain can manage Baby Bullet run times with more stops, because and electrified Caltrain can accelerate to top speed faster. Faster run times, serving more stations is a formula for increased ridership. All the people who get on Caltrain at a stop that isn't served by HSR, which is most of them, will have a shorter commute than they do today.

HSR and commuter rail have played nicely together in lots of other countries, there is no reason why the same outcome won't happen here.

Anonymous said...

If BART comes to PA it will be in subway not on a "berm". If Caltrain keeps on alienating local residents BART will be only too happy to move into the vacuum.

HSR on the Peninsula may simply have to deal with tighter curves that it would like along 101. Tough - the only other option may be to terminate in San Jose. Slower times on the Peninsula can be made up with the faster I-5 Grapevine alignment anyway.

jim said...

If bart goes down the peninsula it would be on an aerial just like it is in the eastbay.

mike said...

@jim, Andy

Yes, at first glance, going to Main/Mission/Beale/Harrison looks to be a huge improvement. It appears easier to construct and it is operationally much better (curves are much less sharp). The only question is how you manage water when you are so close to the Bay.

But why are you assuming they would go up Beale and not Main? The proposed TBT tail tracks go down Main, not Beale. By going up Main, you make it very easy to build the 45 degree curve from Embacadero to Main (there's just a parking lot there right now).

The only challenging curve is then the 45 degree curve from Townsend to Embarcadero. That might require small amounts of eminent domain, but much less than would be required for either of the two 90 degree curves on the current DTX alignment.

Anonymous said...

If BART comes to PA it will be in subway not on a "berm".

Not so. BART coming to PA would be the same problem, and would be solved with the same grade separated solution. What's sauce for the goose is sauce for the gander.

jim said...

yes main would be better for the main line which could then fan out to the west between main and beale for the platforms.

jim said...

There is a large prject going in at 201 folsom though. but it shouldn't be an obstacle..

AndyDuncan said...

But why are you assuming they would go up Beale and not Main?

Actually I'm not figuring they'll go up beale, I'm figuring that to build a station throat they're going to need to go up between beale and main.

The foundation for the building on mission between beale and main is deep enough that the TTT tracks can't extend under it, according to the most recent TTT diagrams on clem's blog.

If you were to start a station southeast of that, say southeast of the Beale st. Bar and Grill, then you'll need a station platform that extends all the way down to harris street to fit a 1200 foot train. To fit the same or larger number of tracks as the TTT, you'll need to take up most of the width of the block between beale and main. That means the tracks would need to fan out along the curve up from embarcadero. that last curve would essentially become the station throat.

They might have to take both of the buildings on either side of Harrison, especially the one on the northeast side.

Anonymous said...

Get real - BART is in subway in Berkeley and BART would be in subway in Palo Alto. PA would find the money just like Berkeley. It would solve the blight problem completely. The surface freight line would disappear in time.

The politicans could fall in line behind a BART replacement of Caltrain very quickly. The pols hate the lose-lose situation they are in currently, what with the great voter unhappiness with both CHSRA and Caltrain. It would be back to the future and the hsr would have to find its way to 101 just as if BART had passed in 1962.

Adirondacker12800 said...

What is proposed is conventional, 4-track electrified rapid rail access to the region's core (which will host both HSTs and EMUs). This is not at all uncommon in Europe.

Not all that uncommon in the US either, ignoring for a moment that we don't have HSR trains in the US. Grand Central Terminal has four tracks. Well six but the two from the east coming in from Long Island aren't in service yet. Penn Station has four tracks from Long Island. There's a four track main line north of 30th Street in Philadelphia, there'd be a long discussion about how many tracks there are between North Philadelphia and 30th St. Metra Electric lines run on four track with two tracks for Amtrak and freight running parallel to them. Plans for four tracks between Baltimore and Washington DC. It's four tracks between Philadelphia and Newark, NJ where it goes down to three tracks and then hits the two tunnels into Manhattan. Short sections of six tracks along the NEC in New Jersey, New York and Connecticut. Three tracks on the Morris and Essex branches of NJ Transit as far out as Maplewood... New York City subway is four track in many places with short stretches of 6 tracks out in Brooklyn....

Two express tracks and two local tracks happen all over the world.

AndyDuncan said...

But why are you assuming they would go up Beale and not Main?

Also, main is straddled by a bay bridge support and beale is adjacent to a large concrete anchor point. If they're tunneling, I imagine they're going to need to stay down the middle of those, not cut/cover under one of the streets.

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

no one is going to dissolve caltrain. so quit dreaming. If bart were to go further south it would cover a route that would serve areas not currently served by caltrain. It is never going to replace caltrain. you people are really out of touch with reality.

Anonymous said...

PA would find the money just like Berkeley.

So what exactly is the problem, then? That some secret contractor cabal (the same ones involved in BART, by the way) would conspire to build an elevated for HSR, but not for BART? That's ridiculous.

Palo Alto will get its grade separations for its measly four grade crossings, and we'll all get on with it. If Palo Alto finds the money, these will be below ground. More power to them.

AndyDuncan said...

@Jim: There is a large prject going in at 201 folsom though. but it shouldn't be an obstacle..

I wonder if there's any coincidence that they just reapplied to have their construction entitlement extended. Trying to drive their price up, perhaps, by claiming that they plan a project on the site?

jim said...

well there is a big fuss being made by the neighborhood groups about the project details because it was approved so long ago, and so much has changed and the post office I guess is leaving that big building. SO as usual, the project is running into renewed opposition. I didin't hear anything about hsr having anything to do with it though.

I did watch tjpa on another issue this week - that of art funding for the project which the art commission is putting together, and the tjpa wants a bigger budget for. and in that conversation HSr was only mentioned as a possible tenant, but from what Ive seen around here - tjpa is moving ahead on their own terms with or without hsr.. seems they couldn't care less. the art budget is more important. typical sf... and I have to love it. thumbing their noses at the world. They aren't interested in letting hsr play games with them.

AndyDuncan said...

tjpa is moving ahead on their own terms with or without hsr.. seems they couldn't care less. the art budget is more important. typical sf... and I have to love it. thumbing their noses at the world. They aren't interested in letting hsr play games with them.

I have a feeling they're going to end up with a ridiculously expensive, nicely decorated bus station.

Perhaps you're referring to something else, but I'm also not sure how CAHSR (and Caltrain) pointing out that the train box isn't going to work for them is "playing games".

While a focus on art might be endearing, it is not encouraging in the context of project success. The architecural renderings for the station I think echo this notion of form (and green-washing environmentalism) over function – there's no clear indication of how the busses are going to be organized or loaded, but hey, they've got a wastewater recycling system and geothermal pipes.

It could turn out that separating themselves from the TTT is a good decision. Hopefully sanity will kick in and someone will send these people back into a room together to work it out.

AndyDuncan said...

Oh, and there's also a furnicular railroad between the ground floor and the park up top.

Maybe that's their idea of "intermodal" :-)

Anonymous said...

Palo Alto is a suburban city -- it has a height limit of 50 feet.

Berkeley is an urban city, 4 times as dense.

No way Palo Alto is going to go the way of Berkeley, at least not for the next 100 years.

Palo Alto will never pay for a tunnel and neither will Menlo Park or Atherton. Not in the cards. It is a dream of Yokiro, who supports it and certainly of Barton who has a financial interest in seeing that happen.

mike said...

Actually I'm not figuring they'll go up beale, I'm figuring that to build a station throat they're going to need to go up between beale and main.

I think the bldg north of Harrison would have to be taken no matter what. The building south of Harrison is pretty high-end temporary rentals (e.g., for employees temporarily relocated to the Bay Area). It could be fairly expensive to purchase. Ideally you could tunnel under one of the two streets (Main or Beale) until you hit Harrison.

Not all platforms would be 1200 ft. Caltrain certainly would not be. Strictly speaking, they could make do with only 2 of the 4 HSR platforms being 1200 ft. But that would impede operational flexibility.

In principle you could actually run at grade on Beale north of Bryant. But I imagine the city politics would be complicated (even though Beale basically functions as an alleyway with parking, and you could preserve the alley function).

Caltrain originally evaluated an alignment up Beale (among others) back around 1997. The main reason that it was eliminated from consideration was its proximity to the Bay Bridge anchorage. Going up Main would avoid the anchorage (though you'd still have to watch out for the smaller bridge support).

AndyDuncan said...

I think the bldg north of Harrison would have to be taken no matter what. The building south of Harrison is pretty high-end temporary rentals (e.g., for employees temporarily relocated to the Bay Area). It could be fairly expensive to purchase. Ideally you could tunnel under one of the two streets (Main or Beale) until you hit Harrison.

Actually if it's corporate apartments, that's encouraging. No residents to complain. I'd be more worried if it was condos.

Not all platforms would be 1200 ft. Caltrain certainly would not be. Strictly speaking, they could make do with only 2 of the 4 HSR platforms being 1200 ft. But that would impede operational flexibility.

Yeah, and if the whole point is to avoid operational inflexibility, I don't see them putting another poorly designed train throat and platforms on it. If they're going to do this, they're going to overbuild. And they should, It will likely be the last train terminal put in SF for the next 100 years. Better to have a couple extra platforms and a nice big train throat.

In principle you could actually run at grade on Beale north of Bryant. But I imagine the city politics would be complicated (even though Beale basically functions as an alleyway with parking, and you could preserve the alley function).

But then you'd have to juke north or south to get trains onto their platforms, which would bring up the radii problem again.

This, of course, is all speculation layered on top of speculation.

One of the bad things about this alignment is that while the head of the train would be as close or closer to BART than the TTT plans, the tail of the train would be much further away. If they set up the TTT right, you would essentially have two stations located a few blocks from each other, serving different areas, though it doesn't look like they have such plans.

Adirondacker12800 said...

Yeah, and if the whole point is to avoid operational inflexibility, I don't see them putting another poorly designed train throat and platforms on it. If they're going to do this, they're going to overbuild. And they should, It will likely be the last train terminal put in SF for the next 100 years. Better to have a couple extra platforms and a nice big train throat.

I haven't gone digging for source documents. The impression I get from reading things like this blog and other sites is that the MTC came to the same conclusion. Bring Caltrain in between Main and Beale. Put the new bus terminal over that. Design it so that some day a tunnel to East Bay could be added for service to places like Stockton and Sacramento. But there was referendum of some sort and the results of the referendum was to squeeze everything into the footprint of the existing bus terminal.

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

Mussolini also had an obsession with trains, and making them arrive on time. The comparison between fascism and high speed rail is therefore very appropriate.
In past posts I've sometimes accused the pro-HSR crowd of being a bunch of socialists. That's not an inconsistency. Mussolini was a socialist first, that's where he started his political career before doing his own thing.
But rest assures. We lovers of freedom will start a resistance movement, just like the partisans, to fight your crazy toy project.
You think that you can force your whims into people's troats regardless of their costs and their utility. We'll see who's the last one to laugh! I bet 20 or 30 years from now you'll still be here dreaming about your toy on this blog, with nothing concrete built yet.

Anonymous said...

@ Toys

You're still here? I thought you had suffocated in the exhaust fumes from your gas-guzzling truck.
Oh well, wishful thinking...

Andre Peretti said...

@Alon
All I meant was that CHSR will probably run smoothly with only two tracks, as is not the case for Paris-Lyon. The now obsolete loco+cars trainsets don't allow enough acceleration and deceleration to allow greater train frequency. Using AGV-like trains wouldn't help much as the line is not designed for 225mph. The average speed between Paris and Lyon is 140mph, same as 20 years ago.
As for ranting, no need to wait 20 years. TGV riders think the service is lousy and the staff indifferent and uncooperative. Now that they have learnt that Paris-Lyon has a 25% profit margin, they also feel screwed. They don't realize that the company, as a whole, makes little or no profit.
CHSR won't have this problem. I suppose it won't be obliged to subsidize Amtrak or Metrolink.

gabe said...

@ toys

Mussolini making the trains run on time is false, it's just fascist propaganda.

link

Anonymous said...

"lovers of freedom" what a Joke..from the far right necon crowd

Spokker said...

"Mussolini also had an obsession with trains, and making them arrive on time. The comparison between fascism and high speed rail is therefore very appropriate."

Walt Disney had an obsession with trains and he was fiercely patriotic, capitalistic and anti-communist, going so far as to help get those he believed to be communists blacklisted from the entertainment industry by testifying in front of the House Un-American Activities Committee.

So trains are very patriotic!

trainsintokyo said...

Andre, all Shinkansen riders must have a seat, too, except on some peak hour local trains.

Actually, Shinkansen trains with non-reserved seats allow standing riders if all seats are full; Hayate and Komachi trains on the Tohoku Shinkansen also allow you to stand if you purchase a special "standing express ticket" since they don't offer non-reserved seats. I've ridden during holiday periods where the trains are often 110-120% full, and you'll have people standing in aisles or in common areas for two or three hours in some cases. I can't imagine doing that...

Alon Levy said...

But Nozomi trains are all-reserved, aren't they?

K.T. said...

Alon,

3 Cars on Hakata side is unreserved for Nozomi.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nozomi_(train)

Andre,

Japanese Shinkansen, in Tokaido Line, also faces similar problem caused by the underestimation of future train speeds and also due to the limited technology available in the 60s: turning radius of 2,500 meters. Thus, the maximum speed is restricted to 270 km/hr in this segment.

Peter said...

I remember travelling on early ICEs with people standing around in the aisles. Mostly soldiers travelling to or from their duty stations before or after their weekend leave. I always felt bad for them. Although the soldiers would mostly sit on their huge bags...

jim said...

I'd say trains are pretty patriotic as it was the advent of the railroads that made westward movement and eventually the industrial age possible.

as for transbay terminal - it was always suppose to be a new terminal with a caltrain ext. in the basement. and hsr was always sort of - "we'll make room for it there if hsr ever gets built." the transbay term plans were done before the election.

and since it looks like it will be at least 20 years before trains start running. I can see why SF wants to go ahead with its project which is the signature tower, the park, the bus concourse, and the dtx for caltrain. but will also leave room for hsr if and when it finally arrives. Which is likely to be a long long time if chsra keeps dicking around with nimbys and lawsuites and changing routes, and blah blah blah. meanwhile sf developers and city hall are trying to get things done.

jim said...

so while we wait for hsr to figure things out, meanwhile we're likely to have the new terminal along with caltrain, and maybe additional coast service up an running in the meantime. I mean they haven't even figured out the row yet for hsr. I hate to be pessimistic but its going to be a long time.

AndyDuncan said...

I can see why SF wants to go ahead with its project which is the signature tower, the park, the bus concourse, and the dtx for caltrain. but will also leave room for hsr if and when it finally arrives.

Yes but the TJPB is trying to get HSR funding for that caltrain station, hence the tiff. In fact, it doesn't appear they have the money to pay for a caltrain-only train box without those funds.

But even if you gave all those track platforms to caltrain, caltrain would still not be able to run all the trains through there that they want to.

It seems like a larger station is going to be needed, especially in the future if they start bringing in trains across the bay from oakland/sacramento through the second transbay tube.

The more I look at it, the more it makes sense to build a new station between beale and main now, while the land is mostly parking lot. It would be a tragedy if the shiny new transbay bus terminal (with rainwater recycling!) wasn't colocated with it, but maybe they could extend the funicular railroad to it.

Anonymous said...

But even if you gave all those track platforms to caltrain, caltrain would still not be able to run all the trains through there that they want to.

Nonsense. Six platform tracks would be more than Caltrain would ever need, even with ridiculously long half-hour platform dwells. Four would work, and two (as proposed) are inadequate.

Samsonian said...

@ Anonymous BART shill(s)

The Peninsula Corridor is a 125 year old continuously operated, federally chartered railroad. It's currently funded, managed, and owned by the Peninsula Corridor Joint Powers Board (PCJPB), and branded as CalTrain. It's a Joint Powers Authority (JPA) composed up of the 3 SF Peninsula counties, created to preserve passenger rail on the SF Peninsula.

CalTrain helped build SF and the Peninsula into what is it today. It isn't going anywhere. This project will take it into the 21st century.

It's certainly not going to be replaced by BART. Even if it could, it makes no sense. BART was a giant, expensive, outmoded, dinosaur before it was even built, and has only gotten worse. That's what happens when you use proprietary technology everywhere you can.

What sane person would replace a working railroad using affordable, commercial, off the shelf technology, with a monstrosity like that? Especially when you can upgrade that railroad to provide better, faster, quieter service with higher frequencies, for far less cost.

San Mateo Co. has learned that hard way. They got BART in the worst way possible. San Jose keeps pursuing this wife beater with even more money (~$8B), as if he's any different.

Consider what CalTrain will be able to do: Baby Bullet EMU service could do a Peninsula run in about 45 mins, compared to the 59 mins it takes now. Limited stop trains take about 1h15m, and local trains take about 1h30m today. They too would also see similar large trip time reductions with modern EMUs.

--

@ K.T.

In Japan's defense they were the first to build high speed rail, in the early 1960s no less, they were in uncharted territory. The Tokaido line only did about 125 MPH top speed back then.

The fact that they've improved it to ~180 MPH top speed and 12 trains per hour, despite the original design limitations, is very impressive.

Obviously when designing our system, we should design our system to be as future proof as possible. It might be eventually be possible to run 300+ MPH commercial service using the same core tracks and system, like France demonstrated in its train speed record.

BruceMcF said...

Anonymous said...
"Palo Alto is a suburban city -- it has a height limit of 50 feet.

50 feet is compatible with higher density than most American cities - skyscrapers are not a cause of density, they are a consequence. Much of Paris is limited to five stories, and urban Paris is denser than NYC.

So while it may be true that Palo Alto is a "suburban city", it is other zoning limitations that are responsible for this, not the height limit - mandatory parking requirements, wide building setbacks with narrow sidewalks, and restrictions on multiple use are each far more significant sprawl generators than a 50 foot height limit.

AndyDuncan said...

Nonsense. Six platform tracks would be more than Caltrain would ever need, even with ridiculously long half-hour platform dwells. Four would work, and two (as proposed) are inadequate.

You'll note I said "Want to" not "need". Regardless, they're planning on terminating many trains at 4th and king as a result. But even four isn't going to fit in the TTT with HSR.

I suppose they could build TTT as a caltrain-only station, and build another station between beale and main as an HSR station, but that seems like even more of a waste, why not just build one big station at beale and main?

I'm very interested in why the MTC decided that the station had to be built on the existing TTT site and rejected the beale station. If anyone has links to that I'd love to read them. It's entirely possible that there's something about beale and main that make it a horrible place for a station.

BruceMcF said...

Other anon - with the tail tracks, two platforms can work. Arrive on the right hand platform coming in, move to the open tail track, depart on the left hand platform going out. There's even ample space to move down the platform after unloading if its necessary to wait to get into the tail track.

Indeed, the train box as now designed would be a fine Caltrain terminus, with locals on the tail track side and up to four distinct types of express services each with their own dedicated platforms.

Its just that Caltrain cannot afford the trainbox, nor the tunneling to get into it, nor can the TJPA, and the TJPA is under a local mandate in 1999 to design the trainbox as the terminus for HSR, but did a shabby job and failed to actually design a trainbox to accomodate a serious HSR system.

Maybe they never imagined that the HSR side would be where the funding would come from, so they never thought that the complaints about the design of the trainbox would ever have to be taken into account.

jim said...

The solution is as simple as not having every hst go into the transbay terminal. Nothing in 1a says every train has to end there. In fact it makes sense to have the express trains end there for the downtown business crowd and to have locals and limiteds originate and terminate at 4th as 4th has better access to the freeways and parking. People being picked up by family and friends and those who drive to hsr just as they drive to the airport, will have a much easier freeway access to 4th from 80/101 and 280x and there is ample room for a parking structure.
Only 1 out every 4 trains needs to go into transbay.

Adirondacker12800 said...

I've ridden during holiday periods where the trains are often 110-120% full, and you'll have people standing in aisles or in common areas for two or three hours in some cases. I can't imagine doing that...

Amtrak overbooks trains on the Northeast Corridor all the time. People stand between Baltimore and Philadelphia. Sometimes between DC and NY. ( Probably not the same passengers though. ) Things like this

But Nozomi trains are all-reserved, aren't they?

...so are Amtrak trains....

AndyDuncan said...

The solution is as simple as not having every hst go into the transbay terminal. Nothing in 1a says every train has to end there. In fact it makes sense to have the express trains end there for the downtown business crowd and to have locals and limiteds originate and terminate at 4th as 4th has better access to the freeways and parking. People being picked up by family and friends and those who drive to hsr just as they drive to the airport, will have a much easier freeway access to 4th from 80/101 and 280x and there is ample room for a parking structure.
Only 1 out every 4 trains needs to go into transbay.


I would expect those ratios to be flipped. 3 out of 4 riders to SF are likely to be connecting to BART, Muni or walking to their destination.

The 4th street subway will make caltrain slightly more accessible, but a BART connection, as much as people want to shit on BART, is key for the entire east bay.

Fred Martin said...

Don't forget that direct Caltrain/HSR access to the TBT would revolutionize Transbay bus services, which are already popular with East Bay commuters. Transbay buses serve a market that the less flexible BART system cannot. Buses to Marin would do well too.

Rail-junkies should never forget the workhorse buses, the foundation of almost any transit system.

AndyDuncan said...

Don't forget that direct Caltrain/HSR access to the TBT would revolutionize Transbay bus services, which are already popular with East Bay commuters. Transbay buses serve a market that the less flexible BART system cannot. Buses to Marin would do well too.

Rail-junkies should never forget the workhorse buses, the foundation of almost any transit system.


True, and colocation is the ideal situation. Barring that, a Beale/Main station would be close enough to still serve as an extension of the TTT, a 4th and King station would not.

You could build the Beale/Main Caltrain/HSR station at Muni-depth and create a single-depth TTT train box for a future shallow Muni connection. An eventual deep BART station coming in from the second transbay tube could be built between the two, accessible from both the TTT and Beale/Main, as well as the surface on Beale.

jim said...

other than having to slow down for a tight curve I dont see what the problem is with the train box anyway.

they should really just loop those tail tracks around to embarcadero and back down townsend and that solves through put.

as for 4th, I think we are over estimating how many people will take public transit to hsr verus how many drive. Look how many take public transit to the oakland and san fran airports versus how many drive. the majority of people still want to drive and park. we see this with bart stations as well.

AndyDuncan said...

as for 4th, I think we are over estimating how many people will take public transit to hsr verus how many drive. Look how many take public transit to the oakland and san fran airports versus how many drive. the majority of people still want to drive and park. we see this with bart stations as well.

Who are you and what have you done with Jim?

The whole point of HSR is to connect to the city center. You've argued for just that in the past. Now you want to ignore the impact of walkable connections in favor of letting people park at the station? Why not just terminate in Milbrae then?

Bianca said...

the majority of people still want to drive and park.

Some people want to, some people need to, some people see it as the least worst alternative. I know you've said that BART to SFO works for you but it doesn't work for a lot of people. Just because people drive and park now doesn't mean that they wouldn't take transit if there was a system that met their needs.

jim said...

I'm just getting tired of rah rah ing for hsr when they aren't producing any results. and two, while I fully support public transit, ( I make my living at it) I can not sit here and be idealistic about it. As someone who has spent 45 years living all over the bay and state, with all kinds of people I just want to remind you all that not everyone believes in the the whole urban'transit thing all you have to do is look at the bay bridge toll plaza in the morning, or the 405. I know far too many people whos attitude towards public tranist is "ewww gross" more of them than you might think. Im just being realistic. The "all transit" trips are an idealism that isn't going to be in the majority.
People are going to drive to the hsr station, park in long term parking, or drive and get dropped off.
again, most of my freinds insist on giving me a ride or picking me up at the airport even though bart drops me at my front door. They are afraid Ill be murdered at the coliseum station. its true! none of my family and freinds in the burbs are gonna do anything but drive to the hsr or airport too..

When we push too hard for these uptopian dreams it becomes way to easy to discredit the whole concept/movement.

whereas if we come at people with a realistic vision they are more likely to listen. sorry to have to tell the truth.

jim said...

you want high ridership at SF HSR - put it at fourth with a ramp from the 80 and the 280x directly to the long term parking garage and you'll get your rider ship.

James said...

@ Andy and Jim

Beal St. goes just in front of the Bay Bridge Anchorage.

This link to 'street view' takes a few seconds to load.

http://tinyurl.com/prx53j

The anchorage is not just another bridge pylon support. The block of concrete sits in the bedrock. The block is heavy and strong enough to take the full tension capacity of the two main cables. In an earthquake as the bridge dances around those cables see a lot of load. I doubt you can dig a train tunnel under Beale St. under the bridge. They may not want any tunnels within a block of the anchorage.

jim said...

well if you wanna do that option then you take it up main. because going up main gets a better transition from townsend to embarc to main.

or

I'd be all for taking it straight up 7th. at the property at market and 8th hey could negotiate to put it under the 2000 unit apt project going in there eventually.

that would put the hsr station in my basement and make for an easy commute to work. Im all for that.

AndyDuncan said...

@James: yeah as I mentioned a few posts above, if they're going to do it, they'd have to thread the needle between beale and main for the station throat, as there's also a support under main, in addition to the anchorage next to beale. I don't see them running it under either street, it would have to go under the middle of that block. But I'm not a structural engineer, so maybe even threading the needle isn't possible.

AndyDuncan said...

er, over main.

Anonymous said...

Keep on trying to ram a "berm" down Palo Alto's throat and you may very well end up with BART instead of Caltrain. You are totally underestimating the average clod's opinion of BART. There has always been a sizeable faction on the Peninsula that favors BART. All BART has to do is promise a subway to those who are willing to find the money. The CHSRA does not want a subway under any circumstances but BART would be willing. Big difference.

The mid-Peninsula gains nothing but trouble from the hsr. Besides BART's higher frequency of service would match Caltrain's expresses in the public's estimation.

jim said...

the average clod? spoken like a true PA resident.

Peter said...

@ Anon 1:14

If I recall correctly, HSRA is willing to build a subway, but they won't pony up the money for it. Sounds pretty much just like what the BART deal for similar situations is, when at or above grade is feasible. See Clem's Berkeley Tunnel saga...

Anonymous said...

The CHSRA does not want a subway under any circumstances but BART would be willing.

LOL. Fine with me. Since SM and SC are not part of the RTD, BART will (rightly) demand that all the contributions for capital costs come from the two counties. They'll also demand that operating costs be covered by the counties. Have fun paying off your $10 billion extension (plus whatever city contributions come out to for tunneling). Of course, that's the entire NIMBY agenda - get other people to pay most of the costs. Whether they're fellow city, county, state, or national residents is irrelevant, just as long as it's someone else.

Anonymous said...

I could definitely see the possibility of SC and SM joining BARTD. The same issues would pop up if Marin were to join.

If you put the fortune that BART down the Peninsula would cost against the fortune that Caltrain-hsr is going to cost it doesn't look so bad. Especially if you drop the pricey TBT tunnel out of the picture. BART already has access to downtown SF.

As the massiveness of the "berm" plan gradually dawns on the public the opposition will only grow.

BruceMcF said...

Anonymous said...
"Keep on trying to ram a "berm" down Palo Alto's throat and you may very well end up with BART instead of Caltrain."

zOMG, there is a berm behind the away stands of the high school! Run for the hills!

You write as if fighting the CA-HSRA is necessary because the CA-HSRA is dedicated to a particular design of the alignment through Palo Alto.

When working through the design process is the strategy most likely to see something other than infilled walls and berms in the relatively short sections of the right of way through Palo Alto that the corridor cannot run at grade.

Fighting the CA-HSRA instead is the strategy most likely to result in Palo Alto having a design foisted on it.

Indeed, if the freight operators "work with" the CA-HSRA and Palo Alto fights rather then being serious about pursuing its long term interests, PA is far more likely to see longer elevations, built as berms and infill wall because 33 ton axle loads are much easier to raise on berms and infill wall than on viaducts, and PA loses a massive opportunity to increase connectivity for pedestrians and cyclists in the Alma Street, El Camino Real, Embarcadero Rd. area.

NONIMBYS said...

TRACKS...Bitches ..have been there for 140 years..move if you dont like it..BABIES

James said...

Echos from the past. After 140 years, the railroads still bear watching.

"railroads were granted a total of 150 acres of Mission Bay land, providing that they built a railroad terminus"

http://tinyurl.com/njl2fv

James said...

Too true!

"but both men continued to oppose the overhead trolley plan and insist on more expensive underground conduits"

http://foundsf.org/index.php?title=United_Railroads

Underground was expensive in 1905, and it is still expensive.

Samsonian said...

@ Anonymous BART shill (again)

SM Co. and SC Co. can't afford BART. SC Co. is trying to ultimately spend ~$8B for BART from Fremont to SJ. ~$6B of which is local money, and is basically the bulk of the county's transit money for the next 30 years. It's insanely unaffordable, and that's pre-construction cost blow-outs, which have happened on every BART extension.

Extending conventional BART from Millbrae to Santa Clara in a tunnel would be upwards of $30 billion. Pull your head out of your butt. It'll never happen, when we have a cheaper working alternative.

BART and CalTrain/HSR upgrades aren't comparable. The upgrades we're talking about will cost ~$5B for the entire SF Peninsula (granted the DTX and trainbox probably aren't included in that, but maybe another $1-2B). And this capable of blowing away BART in terms comfort, noise, service, speed, and trip time.

BART is a sham. Only limited BART extensions, like to a Downtown Livermore ACE/future "high-speed commuter overlay" intermodal, to fill out interconnections makes much sense.

To get back on topic: As we talked about endlessly, the state isn't going to build PA, MP, and Ath. a tunnel on the state taxpayers' dime, when far cheaper, acceptable alternatives remain. If your town wants one of those more expensive alternatives, you need to cooperate and fund the cost differential yourselves, like Berkeley did with BART.

But you guys need to hurry up, there's no time for the Palo Alto process, your window of opportunity will close because this project is on the fast track. Obstructionism will fail and will result in the cheapest choice being made for you.

Travis ND said...

You know what I don't get, not only are these peninsula NIMBY's acting like spoiled, petulant children, they're also dead wrong. No rail grade separation project, anywhere, has ever resulted in adverse effects on property values for neighboring properties.

Samsonian said...

@ Travis ND

Seriously.

Grade separations are good for everyone. Less accidents from stupid people, improved bike, ped, vehicular traffic flow, and no FRA required horn blasting. Everyone's happy.

Most communities want grade separations, but they can't afford them ($5-100M per separations, depending on the situation). Peninsula communities are getting them for "free" from the state HSR project.

They should be grateful, instead they act like children.

amandainsjc said...

The main benefit of a BART extension down the peninsula and into Santa Clara County would be transferless rides to the East Bay and downtown San Francisco-no more ridiculous games taking the slow as molasses MUNI Metro along Embarcardero, having to transfer at the windtunnel in Millbrae, or paying for an extra monthly pass in addition to a ridiculously expensive 3 or 4 zone monthly Caltrain pass.

amandainsjc said...

And yet, for all the bitching about BART being outdated and the wrong gauge and whatnot, its still a very vital part of the Bay Area commute for hundreds of thousands of people (as the recent freak out over the proposed strike showed), and I guess that's the price for SF being forward thinking on transit in the 50s and 60s, and getting something built. I'm more than willing to give BART the benefit of the doubt more often than not, considering the extremely wide geographical area that it covers.

AndyDuncan said...

The main benefit of a BART extension down the peninsula and into Santa Clara County would be transferless rides to the East Bay and downtown San Francisco-no more ridiculous games taking the slow as molasses MUNI Metro along Embarcardero, having to transfer at the windtunnel in Millbrae, or paying for an extra monthly pass in addition to a ridiculously expensive 3 or 4 zone monthly Caltrain pass.

The TTT (or the rumored beale/main station) should mostly solve the downtown SF/Muni Transfer issue, so long as you're going to somewhere around the TTT, and even if you're not, the walk from the TTT to embarcadero muni will be shorter than the muni ride from 4th and king. The Central Subway should help solve the rest.

Once bart connects to Diridon, you'll have a regional rail loop around the bay, sure you'll have to transfer in places, but that's not the end of the world, as long as those transfers are well thought out.

People like to point to bart's gauge as an example of it's poor planning, but really the gauge isn't as big a deal as the poorly planned station placement and the general concept of having a metro act as a regional rail system.

amandainsjc said...

Yeah, I have no doubt those issues will be fixed in the future, I was thinking more along the lines of "BART extended down to SJ along Peninsula a long time ago" and comparing that to the present situation.I'm not really that much of a fan of BART going south of Millbrae, but in the alternate universe in which it happened years ago, the lack of transfers (or having to build an expensive and controversial underground subway) would be one improvement over the present situation.

I think its ironic what you said-it seems like most people complain about BART not being able to take them where they want within San Francisco proper, not realizing that its a regional, not city wide transit system.

AndyDuncan said...

I think its ironic what you said-it seems like most people complain about BART not being able to take them where they want within San Francisco proper, not realizing that its a regional, not city wide transit system.

That's really what I see as the problem with BART (and the problem with mass transit in LA as well), people want to use a short haul metro technology (third rail electrification, relatively low max speed) to serve a medium-long haul regional market. BART tries to be both, acting as a metro underneath SF and Oakland, but then switching to a regional rail mode everywhere else.

A more comprehensive metro system under SF and Oakland, plus a standard-guage, mostly grade-separated regional rail system to connect places like Richmond, Fremont, Concord, San Jose and Pleasanton would likely have been a better use of funds. But it wouldn't have been as "cool" as building a new system with perceived new technology.

What we're ending up with now, is a regional rail system (Caltrain, ACE, Capitals) that competes with the metro system wearing regional rail drag.

Any BART expansion should focus on putting in more lines underneath SF and Oak/Berkeley and letting BART evolve into a true multi-city metro, not extending BART out to Stockton or down to SJ.

Bay Area Resident said...

Oh wow, major BS alert here.

The first is that 101 has a number of curves that are too tight for high speed trains to effectively navigate. The Caltrain ROW, with the exception of the San Bruno curve, is much better suited to high speed trains.

All anyone has to do is look at a google map to dispell this truthiness. Start with the Caltrain fishhook in Willow Glen, is there anything like that on 101? Answer. NO.

AndyDuncan said...

Let me clarify though: I support extending BART from Fremont to SJ and from Pleasanton to Livermore to provide intermodal connections to ACE and HSR/Caltrain/Capitals. Beyond that, however, I think BART expansion should be focused on the downtown SF and greater Oakland Area.

Bay Area Resident said...

Right Travis,

No rail grade separation project, anywhere, has ever resulted in adverse effects on property values for neighboring properties.

When is a grade separation NOT a grade separation? Answer: when you take a sleepy land route doing maybe 1 train every hour or half hour (or 2 hours on weekends) that slows to 35mph through the towns it crosses, and turn it into a grade separated 1 train every 3 minutes thoroughfare, something it was NOT before.

Go ahead, try to claim THAT won't have an adverse effect on the neighborhood. Its BS, period.

Bianca said...

No matter how many times you say it, Bay Area Resident, it simply isn't true. We've gone over the Caltrain timetables before. Ad nauseum. But you're free to insist that the earth is flat.

AndyDuncan said...

Caltrain does 45 trains per day today, and will be doing more in the future whether or not there's also HSR trains going down that corridor.

Bay Area Resident said...

I own a rental house that is a block away from the Caltrain today, I know how fast it goes and how often it goes. IT is you all how are deniers, if Caltrain didn't slow to 35mph through the neighborhoods it wouldn't take over one hour to get to SF. Much slower then driving

AndyDuncan said...

So you're saying that Caltrain's own schedules are wrong?

Bay Area Resident said...

Fighting the CA-HSRA instead is the strategy most likely to result in Palo Alto having a design foisted on it.

Yeah sure it is. Too bad the CHSRA has to operate in this dang western climate vs the good old soviet block, where what you are saying might be true.

Bay Area Resident said...

No AndyDuncan, what I am saying is that the train people are deliberately obvuscating the schedules to imply that they run consistently often thoughout a 24 hour day and on weekends which they DO NOT. Most of the day caltrain runs once every half hour, very slowly through the towns. on weekends caltrain runs every HOUR or every 2 hours or NEVER. They do have some compact periods like 7-9am where they run trains more often but those are periods where most commuters are at work.

The HSR plans to run every 3 to 8 minutes every hour every day. Completely different

mike said...

All anyone has to do is look at a google map to dispell this truthiness. Start with the Caltrain fishhook in Willow Glen, is there anything like that on 101?

Um, the curves that you are referring to are less than a mile from the SJ Diridon station throat. Trains will already be slowing for the station stop anyway.

But even so, your claim is still wrong. The curve on 101 north of exit 417 is almost as tight as those.

that slows to 35mph through the towns it crosses

Wait, you're still making this absurd claim? You've clearly forgotten my standing bet: I will bet you $10,000 that I can clock a Baby Bullet (via radar gun) running through the Atherton-Mtn View section at 60 mph or faster.

If you believe your 35 mph claim, then this is the easiest money you will ever make. So, is it 35 mph, or is not? Put your money where your mouth is.

AndyDuncan said...

Either This schedule, which includes a separate holiday/weekend timetable, clearly shows trains running from 4:30 to a little after midnight, has 45 trains running each direction over that time period, and is as far from obfuscated as I can imagine, is a complete fabrication, or you're full of shit.

Bay Area Resident said...

I'm not talking about Atherton/Mtn view section. I come from the south bay. I can guarantee you that Caltrain runs no faster than 40mph through the willow glen fishhook. Go ahead, time it.

AndyDuncan said...

that slows to 35mph through the towns it crosses

vs:

I can guarantee you that Caltrain runs no faster than 40mph through the willow glen fishhook.

So you'll admit that your first statement was false. Pointing to one tight curve near a station is not "the towns it crosses".

Bay Area Resident said...

Hey Andyduncan, what is it a reading comprehension problem or what?

FROM YOUR SCHEDULE, lets take a random stop. How about Santa Clara. Lets pick some non-commuter periods, how about 11am-2pm on weekdays and 7pm-10pm on weekdays, and then sundays.

Santa Clara Northbound:
11:15, 12:15, 1:15 northbound, double it for southbound also.

7:35, 8:35, 9:35pm northbound, double it for southbound also.

Sundays: 9:05,10:05 etc on the hour every hour and last train at 9:05 pm.

So in other words, slow trains go buy in these periods every half hour, MAX, and thats both directions.

Bay Area Resident said...

Hey AndyDuncan, San Jose gets the same "town speed" treatment that every other in town location gets, so the fact it goes 35-40mph through San Jose means it goes those speeds through multiple towns.

So you are rescinding your claim that Caltrain doesn't slow through towns, implying that Willow Glen is some kind of an exception? LOL

AndyDuncan said...

So in other words, slow trains go buy in these periods every half hour, MAX, and thats both directions.

congratulations, you've discovered that commuter rail runs less frequently at lunch time and on weekends. And yet, it still runs more frequently there than you said it did at peak.

You're a misinformed troll.

AndyDuncan said...

So you are rescinding your claim that Caltrain doesn't slow through towns, implying that Willow Glen is some kind of an exception? LOL

No, I never said that caltrain doesn't go around sharp turns slowly, or that it doesn't stop at stations.

HSR isn't going to go around that curve at 125mph.

mike said...

I can guarantee you that Caltrain runs no faster than 40mph through the willow glen fishhook.

Whaaat??? That's the section you're talking about? Then you really have nothing to be concerned about at all!

CHSRA is not magically repealing the laws of physics. All HSTs will have to slow to no more than 50-60 mph max in order to negotiate those curves, even if they aren't stopping in San Jose (though almost all of them will be). You can even see it in the CHSRA run simulations.

An electric HST or Caltrain EMU at 50-60 mph is going to be much quieter than a Caltrain diesel at 40 mph, particularly after they remove the grade crossings at W. Virginia and Auzerais.

Admittedly you will have to put up with construction while they do the grade separations. But after that there is only upside for you - no downside along any dimension. And for sure your property (assuming you own there) will become more valuable since it will be one of the closest neighborhoods to the SJ HSR station.

Anonymous said...

If the CHSRA does manage to shove an aerial or berm down the throats of PA etc. the towns should retaliate by erecting high walls on both sides and pay for them by lining the train sides with huge adverts. Really noxious ads.

Make no mistake - the burgs will be furious when they get a load of the day and night noise and vibration the hsr will make. Whatever retaliation they can come up with will be justified.

jim said...

as long as the advertising makes money, knock yourselves out.

AndyDuncan said...

as long as the advertising makes money, knock yourselves out.

Seriously, they could put up a linear zoetrope of someone making an obscene two-handed gesture and that'd be fine with me.

Alon Levy said...

Andy, that would make me just want to ride the train back and forth.

jim said...

No one wants to look at those shabby back fences and tacky above ground pools anyway.

Bay Area Resident said...

Mike, what the CHSRA was initially planning for the Willow Glen fishhook was a gross AERIAL structure that essentially flattened out the curves in the air, so that those trains could go by every few minutes at high speeds, *above* the quaint neighborhoods.

what a load of crap.