Friday, November 20, 2009

How Will the FRA Decide?

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

As we await the Federal Railroad Administration's decision on awarding the $8 billion in HSR stimulus funds, some observers are wondering how exactly the projects will be selected - and what the role of merit and politics will be. Over at Railway Age, editor William Vantuono suggests the FRA will be caught between those two considerations:

Let’s assume two things. First, Administrator Szabo has every intention of sticking to the letter of the law, and to the intent of the program, by awarding project grants based on merit. Second, any program involving government dollars is going to involve politics. That’s just the way it is. Anyone who doesn’t believe this needs a serious reality check.

In the case of HSR—actually, “HrSR” (“higher speed” rail, incremental improvements to existing freight rail corridors to enable 90-125 mph passenger trains)—the political game-playing will mostly come from the states. Case in point: A project in one Midwest state, we’re told, does not meet all the FRA’s criteria, in terms of project management, environmental and ridership studies, financial plan, technical score, etc. The state agency in charge of submitting the grant application asked the FRA for guidance. The FRA basically said, “You don’t meet the criteria; don’t submit the application.” We’re told, however, that this state’s Republican governor ordered the agency to submit the application anyway. Why? Because if it’s rejected, the governor can go to his constituents and claim that the Democrats running Washington won’t give his state the funds for a project that will create jobs.

Partisan politics as usual? Of course. Did you expect anything different?

There's much less doubt about whether California's HSR project meets the criteria - it clearly does, AND it has widespread political support from the Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood, Vice-President Joe Biden, and the California Congressional delegation which, after all, includes the Speaker of the House. It is certain that California will get a big chunk of the stimulus money.

But how big? That's where these issues of the merit and politics of other HSR proposals will affect us in California. We submitted a $4.5 billion request, but can really only expect to get $3-$4 billion. Where we fall in that range will depend on how the FRA and the White House decide to allocate the rest of the money. If they feel the need to keep Ohio, Indiana, Missouri, and Florida happy (states that were key to Obama's 2008 victory and will be key to his 2012 reelection bid) then we may have to make do with $3 billion and not $4 billion. It's highly unlikely, of course, that they'll give it all to California.

As sources have described the FRA decision-making process to me, the FRA will determine which CA HSR projects get stimulus funding. It won't be a case of them giving us a set amount of money for us to use as we see fit. They may choose to fund the Central Valley test line (Merced-Fresno and Fresno-Bakersfield) and LA-Anaheim and not fund SF-San Jose. Which is actually what I expect will happen.

What I hope we avoid is a situation where CA gets less than $3 billion because Obama feels the need to shore up his position in some of those states I mentioned. Given the amount of stimulus money applied for - around $50 billion from 24 states - there will be the temptation to squeeze California. Especially since it's easy for those other 23 states to whine about California hogging all the money.

59 comments:

Anonymous said...

One would hope that smartest minds in the FRA room would instinctively sniff out the stupidity of the Tehachapis detour, turn thumbs down and send Balfour Beatty back to the drawing board.

matt said...

@Blockhead 4:10

You know saying something over and over does not make it true. Even if you to ignore all the arguments against your position.

Jay said...

One would hope that the FRA would not let politics get in the way. But we know that will never happen.

Zach said...

Given that California is 1/7th of the entire U.S. economy and pays substantially more in federal taxes, gas taxes, etc. then it gets back, it is only fair that California get a large chunk in the way of stimulus dollars. I always find it interesting how the other 49 States find it so easy to whine about California, yet are most likely benefiting from the economic vitality and revenue that is generated by the State. I personally think California would be in a much better position as an independent country, but that is a different discussion for a different blog.

In the mean time, all I have to say is that California deserves every dollar, and then some, that it can get from the Federal Government.

BruceMcF said...

On the 1/7th of the US Economy argument, 1/7 of $8b is $1.14b. I'd expect more than that.

About half a million each to eight states would be $4b - and of course, except for the Ohio bid which is a whole new corridor, most of the RHSR bids have priority portions that can be funded - say, New York, Washington, Oregon, Ohio, Michigan, Illinois & Missouri (these two combine for $1b), North Carolina and Virginia - $1b spread in smaller funding so everybody gets a bit of something, and there's be $3b for California.

The biggest threat to California getting $2b+ would be if Florida's Express HSR is fully funded.

And by the same token, if there is a win in the fight for $4b for HSR in the next annual transportation appropriation, with regular 80:20 matches, than whether California gets $1.14b, $2b, or $4b in the Stimulus funding fades down toward the details of funding that nobody remembers ten years later. That would be a marker for $4b in the five year transport bill, which would then see Emerging and Regional HSR systems up and running and Congress split between those trying to build on their existing systems and those trying to get one started in their own districts.

Spokker said...

No matter how the initial funding gets doled out, it's really not enough.

Personally, I *AGREE* with people who believe that the state cannot afford this. Though I'm an HSR supporter, I can't pretend that the state can afford this, I really can't. HSR should be mostly a federally funded project similar to how the Interstate Highway System was.

It would have difficulty securing federal funding because HSR would primarily benefit urban areas, where rural areas also got their hands on highway money (it has been suggested that urban highways were underbuilt while rural highways were overbuilt, but that's another issue entirely).

But we have neglected urban areas for far too long and now is the time to invest properly in non-highway transportation upgrades, including high speed rail.

I'm grateful for the federal support thus far, but I don't think these plans are going to go anywhere without more of it. The P3 funding scheme that CHSRA touts is a bunch of bullshit and HSR should be a federal stimulus project at the end of the day.

Rafael said...

I think a little humility is in order. California's case for HSR is a strong one on its own merits, last not least because state voters have already put their own money where their mouth is.

The case becomes even stronger in the context of providing urgently needed economic stimulus to a state that has long been a net contributor to the federal budget.

Nevertheless, it may be counterproductive to assert that California can "expect" any money at all from the ARRA funds. Congress has essentially decided to let USDOT decide what is in the national interest here, so let's lobby for the Golden State but not in a way that might come across as pushy or arrogant in D.C.

---

Note that Ray LaHood recently told Florida lawmakers that their application to have USDOT pay for 100% of the first leg of that state's HSR network, from Tampa to Orlando airport hangs in the balance until and unless the state ponies up funding for two unrelated commuter rail services.

Ergo, even though ARRA does permit a federal share of up to 100% and does not formally tie HSR to other passenger rail efforts, USDOT is looking to leverage every federal dollar invested there.

There's a proposal to tax car rentals statewide to fund the state's share of Tri-Rail in Broward and Dade counties. It currently attracts about 15,000 riders on a weekday, which is below the expectations that were set. Unless the state meets its obligations, LaHood has warned he might demand that it refund the federal share of the project. IIRC, that was about $265 million.

More controversial is a new service being planned in the Orlando area. Florida DOT negotiated a godawful deal with CSX that includes around $600 million for the right of way (about 10x the going rate) while allowing that freight rail operator to retain trackage rights and absolving it of both maintenance obligations and any and all accident liability. This last point in particular irks a lot of people, including Republican gubernatorial hopeful Paula Dockery.

For their part, SunRail's backers are claiming that the prospect of $2.5 billion in federal funding for the unrelated HSR project somehow makes SunRail an even better idea. This strikes me as an effort to polish a turd.

Note that plans for SunRail and Florida HSR do not call for a transfer station between the two services. As a result, there would be no way to get from downtown Tampa to downtown Orlando by train.

Don't get me wrong, I think Florida is a good fit for HSR as are a number of other federally designated corridors including California. However, between failing to serve downtown Orlando directly and the extremely unattractive terms for SunRail, I wonder if LaHood's statements regarding SunRail were really in the best interest of federal - never mind Florida - taxpayers at this time.

If the economy weren't in dire need of a stimulus, planners for both projects would surely be told to go back to a joint drawing board to make changes that would greatly increase the overall transportation value of these multi-billion-dollar investments.

Anonymous said...

@BruceMcF: I'm from NC and I'd be quite happy with $500m each to NC and VA. That would be enough to have a noticeable impact on rail service around here, and lay the groundwork for further improvements when the money becomes available.

I agree that California should get the biggest share. $3 billion at least.

I also agree that Florida's project, pointless as it is (90 mile HSR express corridor from Tampa to Disney World? Uh, right...) has a good chance of taking a larger chunk of money than it quite frankly deserves. They won't be taking it from California, though; they'll be taking it from WA, NC, IL, etc.

YESonHSR said...

Lets hope that it is 4billion that should get alot of work moving and with luck that 1.2 billion for HSR thats in the 2010 funding will be increased to 4billion increasing our chances of receiving what we requested in ARRA

Anonymous said...

California basically lied about its ability and authority to match funding. So if lying on the application is one of the criteria then California's right on target. And their Program EIR has officially been overruled by a judge.

And I'm curious about what are all the other criteria you say California "clearly" meets.

Gotta Plan? said...

If one of the criteria is a business plan - then it will be very interesting to see what comes out Dec 15th and if that affects their decision.

Let's hope they put together a real business plan or we're toast.

Anonymous said...

"Unless the state meets its obligations, LaHood has warned he might demand that it refund the federal share of the project"

Wow, that ought to send a little chill through the CHSRA's and its political backers spines.

Clem said...

O/T - did anybody else notice that that CHSRA website's Library section is in total disarray? It used to be that you could look up all the relevant documents for each section of the project. Now it's one giant mish-mash of database explosion.

Somebody. Fix. This.

(Will it get fixed faster if I say this is a PR disaster waiting to happen?)

Anonymous said...

http://www.insidebayarea.com/sanmateocountytimes/localnews/ci_13837151?source=rss

"Plenty of projects on and around
freeways will be affected.
Some of the projects the CTC already approved in 2007 include design of the Willow Road-Highway 101 interchange rebuild in Menlo Park, the lane widening project on state Route 92 and the South San Francisco Caltrain station improvements.

In addition, the county has introduced several other projects it will give state funding to. They include design of the Broadway-Highway 101 interchange revamp in Burlingame, the rail bridge project at San Bruno Avenue in San Bruno, and the Highway 1 San Pedro Creek Bridge replacement in Pacifica.

Other projects eligible for state funding include the Highway 1 Calera Parkway project in Pacifica, countywide traffic reduction initiatives and general transportation planning.

Most of the projects will likely receive funding but they are more likely to receive less money, and get it later.

The county has, however, removed the Route 92 widening plan from its list of projects and said it will have to delay the South San Francisco Caltrain station revamp for at least a few years."

Clem said...

design of the Willow Road-Highway 101 interchange rebuild in Menlo Park, the lane widening project on state Route 92

Where is the business plan for those?!? We can't just start spending on these road projects without the numbers at least penciling out! I await with baited breath to see if the ongoing revenue will pay for these project-- and don't forget full-cost accounting including bond interest and the productive time lost in traffic delays during construction. What's the return on investment? When's the break even date?

Blarney said...

Clem, all these grade separation projects for HSR in the sub-125mph urban areas are for all practical purposes road projects as well. Trains don't ever need to stop for other modes. All this grade separation business springs from the same mentality.

Anonymous said...

Hey Clem, did CHSRA promise a business plan for those, and then write it into law as ploy to gain the support of voters for that project? Talk to CHSRA's 'PR' engine if you don't like the fact that they now have to justify their existence.

Anonymous said...

But the real point is - California's funding promises to transportation projects are drying up. Why should the feds believe CHSRA has the means to match their own socks, let alone billions in HSR?

無名 - wu ming said...

troll cleanup on aisle 2.

Alon Levy said...

NONIMBYs: yes, HSR is an improvement. Back in the 1940s, the trains ran so slow some people could jump off before they got to the extermination camps. HSR will be fast enough that no Jews can jump off.

Anonymous said...

this topic has gotten out of hand. Rafael and Robert get out your delete buttons.

Rafael said...

@ wu-ming, anon @ 2:09am -

done. Anti-semitism will not be tolerated here.

BruceMcF said...

@Anon from NC (y'know, you could use that as a pseudonym if you click the "Name and URL button instead):

If Florida gets funded, it'll be coming out of both California and Emerging HSR projects. That's the squeeze to basically fully fund the FL Express HSR system (since they are offering diddly and squat in terms of their own funding).

Florida included a consolation prize application for their east coast line, and since that's a good project, and their Tampa HSR is a bad corridor design, I'm hoping they win the consolation prize instead.

Anonymous said...

from BruceMcF


Florida included a consolation prize application for their east coast line, and since that's a good project, and their Tampa HSR is a bad corridor design, I'm hoping they win the consolation prize instead.


Compared to the Florida design, the California design is much much worse.

I would give the Florida design an A grade on a rating scale that would shomehow put the California project at about the D or F level. In other words they are both horrible. They both fail.

jim said...

Don't hope for too much. The interim guidance that the FRA put out describes the process they'll use:

5.2.1 ... Applications determined to be both complete and eligible will be referred to a technical panel. ... Panel members will use a merit based approach to evaluate ...

5.2.2 In addition to the ratings ... assigned by the ... panels, the FRA Administrator may take into account several cross-cutting and comparative selection criteria ...

5.2.2.1

Ensuring appropriate level of regional balance ... large and small population centers ... Ensuring integration and augmentation of the national transportation network ... provide assistance to ... regions most impacted by the recession.

So there will be geographic balance. Some to the West, some to the Midwest, some to the Southeast, some to the Northeast. And CA and WA/OR will compete for the West's share (though it's certainly possible WA/OR will get shut out).

In addition, the other proposals are cheaper. For the price of LA-Anaheim, Szabo can buy Madison-Milwaukee-Chicago, Chicago-Detroit and Chicago-St. Louis. He's going to want to have something to show, to point to. For this purpose, three longish corridors are better than one short one. Plus Michigan is about as impacted by the recession as any state.

Many of these proposals -- the three Midwest routes, NC, VA, NY, CT -- already have Records of Decision: their NEPA process is done; give them money and it can immediately go onto a construction contract. CA, not so much.

I suspect that FL is in competition with NC and VA. All Southeastern. Incidentally all reddish.

I wouldn't be surprised to see just over $2B to each of CA, Midwest, Southeast and the remaining $1.25B to NY and CT and spread around emerging corridors to do prelimiary engineering and NEPA work.

Anonymous said...

Think about it. After 150 years there are zero pasenger trains over the Tehachapi Loop and the railroads have spent zip on upgrading this line.

Compare this to the Abo Canyon where the Santa Fe is currently carrying out an ambitious upgrade. What do the freight railroads know that the CHSRA doesn't? The Tehachapis route is a turkey fraught with problems, just as many as the Grapevine. At least have the sense and the stones to blow the taxpayers' big bucks on the direct route blazed by I-5.

Eric M said...

Anon 10:27,

Your not too bright and this is the type of info that needs to be dismissed. High speed rail can travel at a much greater grade vs. frieght, hence the Techapis loop. This and the Grapevine issue have been discussed at great lengths and you dont want to pay attention. I say Robert should just get happy with the delete button and stop these same people from Palo Alto and Atherton (yes, we all know you are the same posers, oops, I mean posters, on the web spreading misinformation). Sorry November vote didn't go your way, GET OVER IT!! These lawsuits frivilous lawsuits causing taxpayers money are a joke and the cities involved with them should have a lawsuit files against them for deliberately interfereing with the will of the people.

Eric M said...

Oh, and think about this anon, after 150 years, people still moved next to an ACTIVE RIGHT OF WAY along the penincula. Been there a long time before you people came. NIMBY

Anonymous said...

Eric writes:

"I say Robert should just get happy with the delete button and stop these same people from Palo Alto and Atherton (yes, we all know you are the same posers, oops, I mean posters, on the web spreading misinformation)."

Yep Eric --- Robert should join with Ogilvy to suppress those nasty people who oppose this project.

Anonymous said...

Slightly OT: Robert, perhaps you can do a post regarding the decertification, "overulling," of the program EIR. The NIMBYS and naysayers love to point to this as some sort of victory to their shameful cause, as if they've stopped the HSR project dead in its tracks for good. Nothing could be further from. The truth. Planning is still moving forward and much/almost all of work done in the EIR is still valid. Minor tweaks to the EIR and all will be fine...NIMBYS and naysayers be damned!

Anonymous said...

We will see about the will of the people when the votes are counted on the water bond issue.

Rafael said...

Notice regarding deletion of comments by blog administators:

In general, we encourage vigorous debate of all issues related to California HSR on this blog, even if that means some topics get rehashed. Of course opponents of the California HSR projects are free to set up blogs and web sites of their own, but there is value in forcing each side to argue its case rather than merely asserting it.

That said, if a comment includes an f-bomb, explicit sexual imagery, racism, anti-semitism, threats of violence or other inappropriate language that does nothing at all to advance civilized debate on the issues, we do reserve the right to delete it on sight.

All ABOARD! said...

why do anons keep bringing up the water bond, it doesnt have anything to do with this.

Anonymous said...

The water bond issue will be a litmus test of voter support for vast public works projects that invariably benefit well-heeled special interests much more than the ordinary population. Read the CHSRA in general and Palmdale developers in particular.

Shifting to the Grapevine vs. Tehachapis controversy, let me draw an analogy to the Cenral Pacific-Donner Pass route vs. the Western Pacific Feather River Canyon route. The UP owns both of these and evidently is in the process of engineering a major shift of traffic to Donner Pass. Why? - becasue it is more direct even tho more difficult operationally. The same superiority applies to the Grapevine. The Tehachapis detour is a mistake that will be regretted. I shouldn't be surprized if the Grapevine is tunnelled anyway in time and the Tehachapis becomes the backup, like the Feather River Canyon line.

Lastly, it seems that some of the attachment to the Tehachapis alignment stems from a yearning for a rail connection to a moribund Las Vegas. Wake up foamers, even retrograde and holier-than-thou Ohio has just legalized casinos. Sin City's raison d'etre is screwed - it's hundreds of miles from nowhere, sitting in the middle of a hot and smoggy desert. Its only hope for the future is if Prop 13 is torpedoed and I doubt that even Nancy Pelosi could engineer such a stupid move. Half of California's population would be driven out.

Alon Levy said...

The Grapevine's problems are not operational. If the line could be built safely, it would actually be operationally easier than the Tehachapi route because it doesn't need to climb as high. The problems are with construction. UP may be selecting the more difficult corridor today, but that doesn't mean that if neither corridor had a rail line today, it would've picked the same corridor for construction.

Anonymous said...

The CHSRA's tack toward the Grapevine has been skewed for political reasons. An independent analysis is needed. What a laff if decades from now when the Grapevine is finally built, without hysteria, it is recognized the Tehachapis detour was a consequence of simple influence peddling. .

Joey said...

I'm sorry, but I can't really see any viable political motivation for such a decision. I can't imagine the Antelope Valley itself having enough political will to do anything like that, and I would imagine developers have higher priorities than some backwater area like Palmdale. The technical reasons for choosing the route make sense, so I'm confused as to what the problem is.

Rafael said...

@ anon @ 1:58pm -

you have a preconceived notion in your head that CHSRA made the decision in favor of the Tehachapis purely in response to political pressure from LA county developers.

This is patent nonsense. If it weren't for the Garlock and San Andreas faults, the additional cost of the longer tunnels needed in the I-5 corridor would have been worth it for the sake of shaving a whopping 12 minutes off the SF-LA express line haul time.

However, please imagine just what it would take to evacuate 1000+ stranded passengers several miles from either tunnel portal after a major earthquake derails their train.

Yes, there would be a service/escape tube, just like the one for the Channel Tunnel. However, who's to say that won't be destroyed in a major earthquake? There is no detailed knowledge of the meter-scale geology deep under Tejon Pass.

It's much safer to cross these two faults at grade, something that can be achieved with the Tehachapis route. Note that CHSRA also studied but ultimately rejected a third option via a utility easement and Comanche Point.

All ABOARD! said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
neroden@gmail said...

"Case in point: A project in one Midwest state, we’re told, does not meet all the FRA’s criteria....

"We’re told, however, that this state’s Republican governor ordered the agency to submit the application anyway."

OK, is this state Indiana? I can't think of any other Midwestern states with Republican governors and potential application problems.

Minnesota won't have a Republican governor for long and their project seems to be in good shape. North and South Dakota and Nebraska shouldn't get any HSR money due to lack of population, I'm not even sure they've asked for any, and their Republicans don't need any demagogic help winning elections.

The trouble with Indiana is simply that you need to go through it to get from Illinois to Ohio or Michigan. The FRA may well give money to Indiana for that reason alone.

Alon Levy said...

No, I'd guess it's Minnesota. Pawlenty is much more vicious and partisan than Daniels. Plus, I don't think Indiana even has an HSR application - the existing Midwest applications prioritize Chicago-St. Louis and Chicago-Kalamazoo-Detroit.

Anonymous said...

Chicago-Kalamazoo-Detroit would have to go through Indiana.

All ABOARD! said...

I think the water bond will pass. It has delta protections so northern california will vote for it, and it protects and ensures a future water supply so southern california will vote for it. id say itll pass 60/40 to 54/46 or or so.

Alon Levy said...

Chicago-Kalamazoo-Detroit goes through a corner of Indiana, and as far as I've read, the proposed upgrades are all either in Michigan, with improvements on the Amtrak-owned segment, or in Illinois, with relief for the Chicago bottleneck.

jim said...

One question for the Californians.

We have been assuming that LA-Anaheim is more likely than SF-SJ to be funded. I know I have. Robert in this post seems to assume it. The Governor's office, when making the last-minute tweaks to the application, seemed to assume it. But as I look at the metrics FRA says they're going to use, it seems that SF-SJ may come out scoring higher. I can't see Szabo overruling his tech panel on LA-Anaheim vs. SF-SJ.

So my question is: What effect will it have internally in California if SF-SJ gets ARRA funding and LA-Anaheim doesn't?

Rafael said...

@ jim -

LA-Anaheim is a stretch that could also be served by grade separating and otherwise upgrading the tracks used by Pacific Surfliner and Metrolink.

However, that argument is analogous to the one being made in favor of terminating HSR in San Jose and upgrading Caltrain only.

HSR works best when passengers are offered a single seat ride. Transfers reduce ridership, quite dramatically in some cases: HSR has a 95% modal share against flying for London-Paris but just 5% for London-Cologne. The latter route is longer, but crucially it also involves a transfer.

Just imagine how many people would choose HSR over flying for SF-Anaheim if they had to transfer in both San Jose and in Los Angeles. In a word, fuggedaboudit.

neroden@gmail said...

"Case in point: A project in one Midwest state, we’re told, does not meet all the FRA’s criteria....

"We’re told, however, that this state’s Republican governor ordered the agency to submit the application anyway."

OK, is this state Indiana? I can't think of any other Midwestern states with Republican governors and potential application problems.

Minnesota won't have a Republican governor for long and their project seems to be in good shape. North and South Dakota and Nebraska shouldn't get any HSR money due to lack of population, I'm not even sure they've asked for any, and their Republicans don't need any demagogic help winning elections.

The trouble with Indiana is simply that you need to go through it to get from Illinois to Ohio or Michigan. The FRA may well give money to Indiana for that reason alone.

"Alon Levy said...

No, I'd guess it's Minnesota. Pawlenty is much more vicious and partisan than Daniels. Plus, I don't think Indiana even has an HSR application - the existing Midwest applications prioritize Chicago-St. Louis and Chicago-Kalamazoo-Detroit."

Indiana does have two applications (early planning for Chicago-Cleveland via Ft. Wayne, and minor upgrades to the existing line in Gary), but both look dangerously sloppy and poorly managed -- just a bad job. That's why I suspected Indiana.

Minnesota has at least two applications, IIRC: Minneapolis-Duluth (which I give low chances -- it's a well-planned application but has little value nationally) and St. Paul Union Depot (which is actually really close to construction, and crucial to the MWHSR project, and cheap, so I give it very high chances).

---

Here's a question: did California apply for funds to finish planning LA-Bakersfield?

From a practical perspective, that segment is far more important than LA-Anaheim. Funding the Central Valley test track and LA-Bakersfield planning would make a lot of sense, and would point towards a useful result even if further funding was hard to come by.

Joey said...

California has not asked for funds for either of the two mountain crossings in the starter system. Guess they're saving them for last ... they HAVE, however, asked for funds to build the Central Valley segment (Merced-Fresno and Fresno-Bakersfield), which should serve as a testbed for high speed operations.

Alon Levy said...

Rafael, Anaheim isn't as important a destination as San Francisco. Most HSR traffic would be LA-SF, not Anaheim-SF. Unlike on the Caltrain corridor, HSR would seriously mess up any attempt to create a modern commuter line, since the ROW has room for only two tracks.

Spokker said...

"However, that argument is analogous to the one being made in favor of terminating HSR in San Jose and upgrading Caltrain only."

To add to the other argument, that Anaheim is not as important as SF, putting HSR between Anaheim and LA won't do anything for Metrolink or the Surfliner. HSR will help facilitate electrification and grade separation on CalTrain's route.

NONIMBYS said...

@Alon Levy..???what is that stupid comment for?

Anonymous said...

HSR works best when passengers are offered a single seat ride. Transfers reduce ridership, quite dramatically in some cases: HSR has a 95% modal share against flying for London-Paris but just 5% for London-Cologne. The latter route is longer, but crucially it also involves a transfer.

Just imagine how many people would choose HSR over flying for SF-Anaheim if they had to transfer in both San Jose and in Los Angeles. In a word, fuggedaboudit.


Pure sophistry from Rafael. Timed and seamless transfers are at the core of effective transit, and HSR is most definitely a form of transit. How does BART do it at MacArthur and 12th Street in Oakland? Does that kill service?? If BART can do it, anyone can. High capacity transit simply can't offer every rider one-seat rides to their destination. It's all about creating a network of interaction, not wasting billions of duplicative infrastructure for some false ideal of one-seat rides.

Rafael said...

@ anon @ 12:55am -

if you force passengers to take a relatively slow Caltrain from SF to SJ and a transfer to HSR there, you're increasing travel time to LA by 15-25 minutes. Medium-distance passengers are far more likely to travel with baggage than commuters, so transfers are more of a hassle.

Granted, there are millions of people in the East Bay that will have to drive or use BART, Amtrak CC or ACE to even reach the nearest HSR station. If there is sufficient demand, there may one day be an HSR spur from San Jose to Oakland, replacing the Amtrak CC service.

However, that's not a good reason for cutting ridership even further by not running HSR tracks up to SF at all in phase I. If you're going to invest in HSR, as California voters have decided they want to, then do it properly. Terminating HSR in San Jose placate burys of Babbitts in the SF peninsula would be a recipe for throwing vast sums of money straight out of the window.

Anonymous said...

Perhaps the reason they haven't asked for money for the Tehachapis is they secretly hope that a reason will be found to dump the detour. Like maybe undocumented fault lines. Maybe the UP knows something the CHSRA "ëxperts" don't.

Does anybody know if the Moffat Tunnel has an escape hatch? How come jetliners get to fly without escape tunnels? Guess what happens to airline passengers when an "ëarthquake" intervenes?

Peter said...

@ Anon 7:21

You're very weird.

Arthur Dent said...

@Rafael, “if you force passengers to take a relatively slow Caltrain from SF to SJ and a transfer to HSR there, you're increasing travel time to LA by 15-25 minutes.”

You’ve got a point – if your plan is to force Caltrain to run at a slow speed. Caltrain will have the capability to do the trip in about 30 minutes, which is about the same amount of time as HSR. The only increase in SF-LA travel time is the cross-platform transfer. I don’t understand why you keep insisting that Caltrain won’t run at speed, or that it’ll be required to use the exact same schedule as today.

Anonymous said...

I don’t understand why you keep insisting that Caltrain won’t run at speed, or that it’ll be required to use the exact same schedule as today.

Because Rafael either doesn't have a clue about transit operations or is dishonest.

Peter said...

But the plan never was to have Caltrain running any faster than 90 mph. HSR is planning to run the Peninsula at 125 mph.

Arthur Dent said...

Caltrain 2025 Plan will have it operating at 110 mph. That's a 15 mph difference in speed, which counts only when they've both reached top speed. They can both make the trip in about 30 minutes. It cannot be stated any clearer. When the business plan comes out we can see how much that non-stop service will cost the state.