Thursday, September 18, 2008

Nearly A Good Laugh

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

It was only a matter of time, really. Libertarian and far-right anti-tax groups in California have been unhappy about our high speed rail project for a while now, and sooner or later they were going to run into noted passenger rail hater Wendell Cox. Cox believes light rail, heavy rail, high speed rail are all inherently flawed concepts, perhaps because he takes no small amount of money from bus and highway lobbyist groups. Cox has also been associated with the conservative Reason Foundation for many years, a group that is funded by oil companies and their affiliated foundations. When Cox, the Reason Foundation, and the rabidly anti-HSR Howard Jarvis Association got together, the outcome was predictable.

That outcome was a anti-HSR report (full 190-page version here) that the Howard Jarvis Association included in their 2008 "Piglet Book". It's their attempt to put some "evidence" to their usual anti-train claims. In reality it's full of so many contradictions, half-truths, and outright nonsense that it would take more time than I have to fully refute the whole thing.

The Howard Jarvis Association in particular is coordinating a full-fledged media rollout of the study, with an op-ed in the LA Daily News that suddenly introduces a $54 billion price tag for HSR out of nowhere, to an appearance on KQED forum (Rod Diridon was there on behalf of HSR). That, alongside the media's love for stories on "government waste" should ensure this gets some traction in the press, albeit fleeting.

Reaction to the study has been swift from those who know a thing or two about rail. From our friends at The Overhead Wire:

And yes...they play the fear card.

Terrorism against rail targets is a concern considering the extent of attacks that continue to occur on rail systems around the world.

Typical of current culture warrior thinking. When you can't win with the facts, try to scare people.

The study makes some rather outlandish claims. They charge that because HSR's projected cost has risen to around $40 billion, that by the time it opens we might have to spend as much as $80 billion. It's not enough to simply look at a trend and assume it will continue on forever - you have to explain the underlying logic, as we have with gas prices. They don't. Nowhere is global inflation of construction materials or the declining value of the dollar mentioned. A gallon of gas costs 200% more in 2008 than it did in 2000, but somehow I doubt that Reason and the Howard Jarvis people would suggest we abandon cars and freeways as a result.

Their $80 billion cost estimate is pulled out of thin air - and if we use their same logic, a gallon of gas will cost between $8 and $10 by 2018 ensuring that HSR is a financial bargain.

Numerous other examples abound. They claim California isn't as favorable for HSR as Europe or Japan, even though Spain's conditions are similar to our own. They claim Acela isn't a success, but it has at least 40% of the market share on the Northeast Corridor, a stunning number for a system that isn't true HSR. Their claims about ridership aren't backed up by a close study of the assumptions that went into the CHSRA's studies - instead they say "well this doesn't compare well to Europe so it can't possibly be right?!" They say non-HSR alternatives will be cheap, that freeways can be expanded for $900 million - but it'll cost $6 billion to widen Highway 99 alone!

It goes on and on like that for 190 pages. But the details of the study aren't important to the authors and promoters, who don't expect anyone to actually read it and see the nonsense for themselves. Instead they just want to muddy the waters in the public mind by saying "boondoggle! pork! massive cost overruns!" often enough in hopes that the media will listen and repeat it for them.

We remain confident that Californians will see the value of high speed rail. While Cox and the Howard Jarvis Association quibble over numbers Californians are screaming for solutions to the airline crisis, to high fuel costs, and to the nasty economic downturn that we're sliding into head-first. They know better than to have oil company and highway lobby shills convince them to abandon California's future.


bossyman15 said...

"Terrorism against rail targets is a concern considering the extent of attacks that continue to occur on rail systems around the world."

where d they come up with that? i'm not aware of any HSR in the world being under attack.

Anonymous said...

Even responding to Wendell Cox is giving him too much credit. He has spent the last decade writing the same argument over and over again, going to different cities to try and convince them that their investment is a bad choice, and then when those cities that ignored him complete, find that his claims had no merit.

If we judged Cox the way we judge companies, he would have gone bankrupt years ago.

Michael said...

There is one significant difference between the conditions in Spain and in California.

At the end of your rail journey in Spain, you arrive at a city where transportation and land use allow a car-free visit. Madrid has one of the largest subway systems in the world, and Barcelona's is pretty big too.

At the end of a rail journey in California, unless you're going to be staying solely in the City of San Francisco, a car-free visit will not be very convenient and for most people, pleasant.

Anonymous said...

For me, and I'm still reading more of the report, I have now decided to vote no on the project.

This report, from respected authors makes clear that this project has way to few benefits and cost way too much, both in terms of money and environmental disturbances.

Michael's comment is very much to the point. Someone traveling from LA to SF, and I mean to visit the city of San Francisco, taking the train might make sense, if the trip really was cheaper and took 2 hours and forty minutes. But the report says the trip will take much longer. If the trip is 3 and 30 minutes, I would take a plane for sure. At least going north, I wouldn't need a car, since SF has adequate transportation.

However, going south is a whole different matter. LA being what it is, spread out in all directions, you need a car, so I'll just take the plane, much faster, get a car at the airport do do what I have to do.

Rafael said...

I haven't had a chance to read the entire "Due Diligence Report", but here are some nuggets:

p. 58:

"[...] CHSRA plans to intermingle highspeed
passenger trains with commuter trains, Amtrak trains and freight trains along certain portions
of its system"

This is news to me. The whole point of building almost 800 miles of all-new track is to ensure grade separation against other railroads.

There isn't supposed to be any track sharing, except with Caltrain. That railroad is actively pursuing a program of active safety measures as well as a switch to non-FRA-compliant off-the-shelf Siemens Desiro EMU rolling stock. This combination would put the peninsula corridor on par with the situation in e.g. France.

Btw, Caltrain's computer simulations have already shown that heavy FRA-compliant rolling stock actually performs worse in some crash scenarios than the non-compliant alternative. At elevated speeds, no amount of passive safety will ever be enough, see e.g. the recent crash in Chatsworth. FRA is sticking to its guns because freight rail operators want it to.

There is also concern about space constraints in LOSSAN corridor, but unless Metrolink upgrades the way Caltrain intends to or, the corridor is widened through land acquisitions (or an aerial structure built), there will be no value in running HSR trains between LA and Orange County. This is why CAHSR decided to terminate its plans for the OC line in Irvine.

If FRA has safety concerns regarding CAHSR's plans to operate non-compliant trainsets at either end of the starter line, I'm sure they will raise them in their reveiew of the EIR/EIS.


Same page, regarding the 1998 Eschede disaster in Germany:

"The event occurred
on mixed-use tracks which limited the train speed at that point to 124 mph (200 kph). However,
the non-dedicated nature of the tracks was irrelevant to the accident."

That root cause of this accident was a flawed wheel retrofit design that was only undertaken because of passenger comfort issues related to operating on legacy track. The design has since been outlawed. The example is therefore not relevant to the California project.


page 64, "CAHSR has no HSR Train Design"

The whole point of a modern railroad is that operators can use a mix of rolling stock to meet passenger demand. This varies by location and also during the course of the day.

CHSRA's indication of a 1600 passenger train based on 16 bi-level cars, electric multiple unit traction and tight seating was meant to illustrate the ultimate capacity of the system. It is understood that it will take many years - decades, more likely - before ridership is at a level that will justify the use of such enormous trains. Indeed, while manufacturers could produce such trains today, there isn't any demand for them.

Note that virtually every HSR project to date has involved some level of custom engineering. California's system will be no different, though CAHSR wisely wants to minimize the incremental effort.


p. 67, "Top Speeds in the U.S. Railroad Environment"

The study acknowledges that 220mph is already possible in commercial operations today, because that is how fast the Chinese are running theirs between Tianjin and Beijing. The technology exists, it's just a question of whether exploiting its full potential makes economic sense. Power demand rises roughly with the cube of velocity.

CAHSR has concluded that it will need to run express trains at full throttle in the Central Valley to compete effectively against airlines.

As discussed above, high speed operation requires strict grade separation against US freight trains.


p. 72, "Europeans and Rail Security"

The report highlights that a number of European HSR operators have installed X-ray machines to screen passenger baggage. While there has only ever been one terrorist bomb attack against an HSR train (1983, France), there have been others directed at packed commuter trains and subways.

It's almost impossible to derail a train using a bomb brought onboard by a passenger and, HSR trains are never as packed as short-haul trains. Therefore, anyone who might want to mount a devastating attack against an HSR system would likely focus on the tracks. Sturdy fences and closed circuit television surveillance make this much more difficult and also keep out livestock and wildlife.


p. 77, "Door-to-Door Travel Times"

The report argues that CAHSR has underestimated the time passenger will need to get to and from train stations while overestimating these times for airports.

There is a certain amount of wiggle room here either way, depending on where you assume a "typical" journey will begin and end. In particular, trains may not be faster if you're traveling from suburbia to suburbia. This is fair enough, but it ignores three things:

a) trains can offer uninterrupted cell phone coverage and broadband internet access, which short-haul planes cannot. Besides, you spend a greater share of total travel time in transit on a train, which makes breaking out your laptop much more practical. The extra space is also very welcome - some trains in France and Germany even feature small conference rooms.

b) transit-oriented development near HSR stations will create a lot of additional office space within walking distance

c) HSR will not be built in a vacuum, local and regional transit to and from the stations already exists in most cases and will be greatly enhanced in parallel with HSR construction and subsequent operations. Measure R in LA county is a good example. If approved by voters, it will enlarge the area in which train will enjoy a speed advantage over airline travel.

Anonymous said...

@howard never were going to vote for it...if you read that stupid made up BS and and think its true.

You can tell these "things" are getting nervous ..they know that prop1A is going to pass time to scream and lie as loud as they can!!

Robert Cruickshank said...

michael and howard are judging HSR by strange and inaccurate metrics. Nowhere have any of us who support Prop 1A and HSR said that this is about totally car-free travel. It's about providing affordable, fast, sustainable alternatives to driving and flying between the regions of our state. HSR helps reduce dependence on oil-based transportation, in some cases significantly.

Also, the notion that only in SF can you travel without a car is absurd. The LA HSR stop will be Union Station, which is the hub of the extensive Southern California passenger rail network. That network should be and likely will be expanded - by 2020 we may well have a Subway to the Sea, greatly expanded Metrolink service, and other light rail routes in the LA basin.

HSR is also much more convenient for travelers than flying, since its stations will be located in city centers - whereas airports are on the urban fringe or otherwise are inconveniently located.

In any case, michael and howard's objections are of the same vein as Wendell Cox - try to point out that the system is not 100% perfect and then say "well it's not perfect so it must suck."

It's nonsense.

bossyman15 said...


Someone traveling from LA to SF, and I mean to visit the city of San Francisco, taking the train might make sense, if the trip really was cheaper and took 2 hours and forty minutes. But the report says the trip will take much longer. If the trip is 3 and 30 minutes, I would take a plane for sure. At least going north, I wouldn't need a car, since SF has adequate transportation.

However, going south is a whole different matter. LA being what it is, spread out in all directions, you need a car, so I'll just take the plane, much faster, get a car at the airport do do what I have to do.

well while its possible trains will take longer than what they said but it will be still a enjoyable ride all the way and cheaper than airfare. I rode the shinkansen in japan last june and i fell in love with it. It's much better than going to airport. There are no stupid rules of what you can bring onboard. No worrying about that!

about cars... I'm sure car rental companies like HERTZ would take advange of the market and have the lot close by or have those free shuttle to the lot. UNLESS the HSR will stopping at LAX airport. Anybody know if HSR will be stopping there?

Anonymous said...


My point about needing a car if traveling south to LA was not made clear.

If the train trip time turns out to be 3 hours and 30 minutes, add another 30 minutes to get to the station etc., you are looking at a 4 hour trip minimum.

I can drive to LA in 5.5 hours and do it cheaper and have my own car. So why take the train?

Reading now more of the report and part 9 dealing with financial projections is just absolutely scary. There they talk about being able to build out only a partial system and running the rest of the way on both end on existing low speed tracks. This might result in a trip time of SF to LA around 5 to 6 hours. Under that scheme, nobody is going to take the train. You either drive or you take an airplane.

Anonymous said...

There's a webinar online that covers Spanish high speed rail:

I hope that url works for all of you. Show's worth a listen to see what is actually happening in the world.

Rafael said...

@ anon -

thx for the link, here it is again embedded in an HTML tag:

Spanish HSR webinar

Carfree in San Diego said...

Thank you Robert for addressing michael and howard. Looking years into the future we will have much better connectivity to each HSR station. Multi-modal options will abound including local light rail connections, bus routes, and other things like carsharing and bike sharing will be huge.

I know how to get around the cities I visit now without a car. If a car is absolutely necessary calling a cab, renting a car or using Zipcar are the options. 10 years from now our local transportation options will be exponentially greater.

Some of these car zealots should get out from behind the wheel from time to time.

Anonymous said...

A 4 hour ride time (when 2.5 is what's promised) would be a failure of the project.

But really I want to chime in with a few points about cars. First off, if having a car is so essential, why is flying so popular? Also, I frequently encounter heavy traffic whenever I go from the bay area to so cal.

There are plenty of destinations that don't require a car in southern california. The times I travel down south I almost always am going either to a resort or a convention. Either way, once I'm at my location I seldom leave. And you can bet that both zip car and traditional rental agencies would pop up around rail stations just like airports.

The "car required" argument is true for some people, but the goal here isn't to get every last car off the road, it's to build a new network that supports and works with existing networks.

無名 - wu ming said...

At the end of a rail journey in California, unless you're going to be staying solely in the City of San Francisco, a car-free visit will not be very convenient and for most people, pleasant.

and that's why nobody travels by airplane in california.

Rafael said...

@ david s -

actually, the "due diligence" report doesn't dispute the claim that express trains will take 2:38 from SF Transbay Terminal to LA Union Station.

Rather, it argues that the "typical" journey will take someone from half-way in-between SFO and SF Transbay Terminal to half-way in-between LAX and LA Union Station. It's a fairly arbitrary assumption, just like CAHSR's focus on downtown-to-downtown travel times is.

Essentially, their argument boils down to this: HSR will only offer a door-to-door time advantage to a a very small number of people, too small to support CHSRA's ambitious ridership forecasts.

Personally, I think there are many good reasons for taking the train even if the journey did take e.g. 30 minutes longer. In no particular order:

a) punctuality. Unless there's an accident, trains running on dedicated tracks run on time all over the world. Passengers can and do plan ahead accordingly. Flights are far more susceptible to delays.

b) baggage allowance. You can take a lot more stuff with you on a train. For example, folding bicycles in a carrier bag are always permitted, many operators also have a limited number of spaces for full-size bicycles.

c) comfort. Trains offer a lot more space per passenger for the same money. The premium for first class is moderate and, the seats there feature large desk spaces for business travelers. Some trains in France and Germany even feature small conference rooms that can be booked for an additional fee. On other trains, there are library-quiet cars for families with babies, play areas for toddlers and cars where teenagers are allowed to raise their voices.

d) convenience. You can arrive at a train station 15 minutes before departure, move yourself and your bags through a metal detector and hop on board. There is no need for extra time to support baggage handling at either end.

e) courtesy outlets. It is becoming more common for HSR operators to offer these for passengers with e.g. laptops.

f) uninterrupted cell phone service. Since trains don't travel as fast as aircraft, cell phones on board don't cause problems for the networks. You don't ever need to switch electronic devices off when traveling on a train.

f) uniterrupted broadband internet access (UBIA). SNCF now offers WiFi connections on its Thalys and TGV Est routes and is upgrading other lines as well. There is a fee, which is waived for first class passengers. This first-generation system relies primarily on geostationary satellites, with terrestrial data networks as a backup, inside tunnels and stations etc. There are also walled garden servers on bopard, delivering robust, high quality video on demand.

Note that CHSRA has not committed to providing uninterrupted broadband internet access yet. However, this it's where the HSR industry is heading fast. Also, California is home to some of the world's leading companies in the sector. Caltrain already ran a successful technical trial with terrestrial WiMax equipment in 2006, they just couldn't afford to implement it.

Since you spend a greater fraction of door-to-door travel time in one place, business travelers will choose the train on productivity grounds alone. The advantage is even clearer if signal latency can be kept low enough for interactive applications such as video conferencing and collaborative whiteboarding.

Leisure travelers will also appreciate being wired while en route. In addition to catching up with friends and family, they can listen to music, watch video or play interactive games (with headphones, please).

The biggest problem may be providing enough bandwidth to satisfy the aggregate demand from hundreds of passengers per train.

Anonymous said...

Well if you can make it Downtown SF
to Downtown LA in 5 hours then I want to ride along for 95 mph CHIPS

The last time I flew SFO-LAX it was almost4hours and 50min...door to door..Even a 3hour HST would beat that..with a lot less hassle

Spokker said...

I don't get this argument against HSR that since the destination city might not have as robust mass transit as Tokyo or Paris, it shouldn't be built.

What's the difference between that and flying into your destination city? If you fly into LAX you can either hail a cab, take a shuttle to the green line, take a Flyaway bus to Union Station, or rent a car. I mean, you don't have a lot of options.

But you have many more options for mass transit at Union Station. And you can also rent a car, hail a cab, or have someone pick you up.

I mean, I agree that mass transit has to be improved in urban areas, but we need high speed rail as well.

Spokker said...

"I can drive to LA in 5.5 hours and do it cheaper and have my own car. So why take the train?"

You are more than welcome to do that. That is the great thing about having so many transportation options. It gives people the freedom to choose.

And those who can't or are unwilling to drive will have a speedy option for travel in California with high speed rail.

If you're say, a disabled senior and you need to get to the Central Valley to see family, I have to imagine taking a high speed train is a lot more comfortable than any other option.

Anonymous said...

Robert & others:

Intellectual garbage collection is dirty work, but someone has to do it. Here is an analysis of the important points stressed by the Cox-Vranich (C-V) report:

Projected Ridership:

C-V's ridership figures are wildly inaccurate. Using C-V's preferred measure, JR Central reported 2007 ridership of 80 million passenger km per Shinkansen route km (44.5 billion passenger km / 552 km route). In the "high" scenario, CA HSRA is forecasting roughly 27 million passenger km per HSR route km (30 billion passenger km / 1,120 km route). So C-V's claim that CA HSRA is using numbers higher than those achieved on any other system in the world is absurdly false - in fact, CA HSRA's numbers are only 1/3rd of what has been previously achieved.

JR Central's Shinkansen is the densest ridership in the world. A more informative comparison would be the TGV or the new Taiwan HSR (THSR). We don't have passenger-km ridership for those lines, but we can compute passengers per route-km. The TGV Paris Southeast (PSE) line gets 45k passengers per route-km (20 million pax / 448 route-km) while the THSR gets 101k passengers per route-km (34 million pax / 335 route-km). CA HSR is forecasting a high of 80k passengers per route-km in 2030, or around 56k passengers per route-km at today's populations. This is slightly above TGV PSE but well below THSR. It does not seem unreasonable since the LA Metro Area is larger than Paris Metro Area or the Taipei Metro Area. And more importantly, the SF Bay Area is twice as large as the Kaoshiung Metro Area and four times as large as the Lyon Metro Area.

Construction Costs:

C-V project an expected cost overrun of 33%. IMO, this is the most reasonable part of their report. There is some non-zero probability that this could happen. In contrast, their other claims are laughably inaccurate. That said, cost overruns are a potential flaw of any infrastructure project, so if they want to make their argument based on cost overruns then they have to oppose virtually all public infrastructure projects (which, being associated with the Reason Foundation, they might, though Wendall Cox does seem to love building highways).

Operating Costs:

C-V claim that operating costs will be 4.8 cents/seat mile rather than the 3.5 cents/seat mile. This sounds troubling until you consider that the operating costs for US airlines are 11.9 cents/seat mile (April 2008), and on the short California routes they will be closer to 14-15 cents seat/mile. AAA estimates average car or truck operating costs at 17-24 cents/mile (sedan is lowest, SUV is highest) So even using C-V's own figures, HSR can undercut airlines by 65%! More likely, HSR would undercut airlines by, say, 35% and then give the additional 30% back to the state (or, in the first couple decades, use it for system expansion).

Costs of Alternatives:

C-V get really outlandish here. They use an average cost of $6 million/lane mile for highway widening projects despite the fact that most recent Caltrans highway widening projects have averaged around $20-40 million/lane mile. More incredibly, they use an average cost of only $33 million/lane mile for a new Bay Bridge despite the fact that the current one (which should be much cheaper than a future one, given their argument about escalating costs) cost $260 million/lane mile!! CA HSRA's cost projections are not going to be exact, but they will never be anywhere as wildly inaccurate as C-V.

Trip Diversions:

C-V claim that CA HSR will divert a total amount of highway traffic equivalent to only 175 lane-miles of capacity. This claim does not pass the laugh test. Using C-V's own (very low) ridership estimates, HSR will carry at least 35-46 million passenger-miles per weekday. 175 lane-miles of highway capacity is only sufficient to transport 4-5 million vehicle miles travelled per day, so by C-V's own calculations only about 1 in 10 HSR riders will be a road-diverted driver. They also claim that HSR will have limited success in capturing airline passengers, so fully 80% or more of the passengers in their ridership forecasts are induced demand! This is an incredible result that no reasonable economic model could generate. It also strengthens the case for HSR, rather than weakening it, because induced demand is better than demand captured from other modes. If HSR steals people from highways or airplanes, all that we can conclude is that it provides a product that is at least as good as those modes. But if HSR induces new travel, we can conclude that it is providing a product that is far superior to those modes, since people who before refused to use either air or highways are now being induced to travel by the new superior modal option.

Composition of Passengers

C-V complain that CA HSRA's ridership numbers are over-optimistic because almost no one will ever choose HSR over driving for shorter, commuter-like trips (under 100 miles). At the same time, they claim that the low-speed Northeast Corridor is instructive for projecting what CA HSR ridership might look like. The NEC serves around 10 million long-distance intercity riders per year and 60 million shorter-distance, commuter riders per year. Thus the ratio of short-distance to long-distance riders is 6:1. Even if we omit Metro North's New Haven line, the NEC still serves over 30 million shorter-distance riders per year (ratio of 3:1). C-V's claim that shorter-distance riders will comprise only a trivial fraction of HSR riders is thus completely refuted by the NEC data that they themselves argue should be instructive.

In summation, given the horrible factual inaccuracies of the report (so bad that some of them must be intentional), I agree that going forward it is sufficient to dismiss anything from the Reason Foundation or these authors by simply noting that their track record on telling the truth is abysmal.

At the same, the fact that even under Cox and Vranich's own figures, HSR has a cost advantage of around 3:1 vis a vis airlines and 4:1 vis a vis cars should give us a great deal of confidence in its ability to successfully attract ridership and generate a substantial operating profit.

Rafael said...

@ mike -

I love it when a critique falls apart. Nicely done.

Rob Dawg said...

Just in case anyone is interested I am likely the reason the prospect of terrorism made it into Wendell's report. I wrote the following on his list-serv more than 5 years ago:

The year is 2024, after $43.1 billion (2003 dollars) the CA-AHSR is finally
running between Oakland Caltrain Terminal and Union Station Los Angeles.
Capable of speeds of up to 185 mph except where prohibited by noise or
safety the system makes nearly 20 trips per day with more than 8000

The nice terrorist with the cell phone sees the governor get on board one of
the 8 limited stop specials that make the Oakland Los Angeles journey in
under 4 hours with only 3 stops, Fresno, Bakersfield, Palmdale. The nice
terrorist calls his buddy in the central valley with the lettuce truck
that's been waiting for just such an occasion. Due to cost overruns and
reduced service expectations the right of way in places like Delano is only
100 feet and large portions are nothing more than 12ft cyclone fence (mostly
to hold back tumbleweeds from fouling the pantographs) criss-crossed by
numerous semi-automated private at grade crossings. These were concessions
to saving money rather than using emminent domain against the very powerful
Central Vally Agricultural Industry. The lettuce truck has been working the
fields for six months and by now is well known to all the rail monitoring
cameras. Perfect; $43 billion, 400 people, a governor and America's newest
societal icon of dominance and supremacy taken out in spectacular fashion
for the cost of a phone call and lettuce truck. These terrorists known as
the naftaistas not only will never be caught but their ties to their rouge
nation masters in Ottawa will never be traced. Eco-extremists cheer as the
fences come down and the free range tumbleweeds are finally free to resume
their natural migration patterns. Eventually a minor splinter group of the
governors own Green Party affiliation is blamed. The Bakersfield Dozen
(there are 13 conspirators) as they are called eventually win freedom when
Supreme Court Head Justice Lance Ito overturns their convictions when it is
learned that the lettuce found at the scene was not only non-union but
non-organic. The Greens are absolved. President Clinton says she is
pleased and only wishes her mom and dad the former Presidents would stop
feuding long enough to let her appoint them both to the Court so more such
legal ground could be broken before the next election cycle where it is
Jenna Bushes turn to be President.

Ignoring the snark you have to admit that the numbers are pretty accurate. I know the ridership is low but no lower than the current estimates are high.

Anonymous said...

The blog keeps calling all of us who are against the project "deniers"

Now what I am reading is denying that there is any truth in the Cox - Vranich. Look at their credentials (page 7 of the summary report. Now who are the deniers".

Trying to damage the reputations of the authors is really setting a low standard. If I want to go that way, just remember that Diridon gets a 6 figure salary from the Minetta Transportation Institute, which get a generous contribution from Parsons-Brinkerhoff every year.

What really should be upsetting to any voter in California is the failure of the CHSRA to deliver the business plan that was mandated in Prop 1A and due Sept 1st. It is a fundamental portion of the bond measure, yet voters will not get to see it before they cast their ballots. Surely the CHSRA can come up with a better excuse than we have no budget for the plan due to the California State budget not being approved. They agreed in conference to produce the plan by Sept 1st, and no such strings were attached.

Spokker said...

An updated business plan would only make the project look better than it did in 2000. Gas prices are much higher and the need for high speed rail even greater.

Anonymous said...

Morris brown,

You have the nerve to come to this website and get upset at people who make comments towards you and your cronies left field attitude towards this project. At least this blog allows comments from both sides, unlike your website that is afraid to allow anything that is not negative towards the HSR project. Until you let your site have unmoderated comments on the articles you post, you don't have a leg to stand on.

Spokker said...

eric with a slam dunk all over morris brown. Boom-shaka-laka.

Anonymous said...

@ morris,

Read Mike's comments. He completely destroys their report with facts. What do you have? The number 100 billion that you pulled out of a hat. That's about it.

Anonymous said...

@ rob,

Your story isn't very interesting or funny, and you take yourself way too seriously. No one cares about this 5 year old story that would receive a C at best from any elementary school English class.

HSR systems are much safer with regards to terrorism. You do realize what terrorists do with planes don't you?

Anonymous said...

Morris..give up embrace the future
its really not as horrible as you keep barking about!! vote yes!

Rob Dawg said...

davisgrad said...
@ rob,
Your story isn't very interesting or funny, and you take yourself way too seriously.

Where were you and what were your prognostications regards CAHSR in early 2003? My motives were trifold. One, where Wendell Cox got the idea of security problems. Two, that I was thinking about and correctly projecting CAHSR issues before some of you were out of High School. Three, that while Wendell's comments are extreme, they are no more unrealistically negative than are the current crop of supporterz claims positive.

Spokker said...

"Two, that I was thinking about and correctly projecting CAHSR issues before some of you were out of High School."

Oh, get over yourself. You are just another jerkoff who is talking about this project on the Internet. Just like me, just like Morris Brown, and just like Robert Cruikshank.

You're thinking about it? We're all sitting here and thinking about it. You're not special, bro.

Rob Dawg said...

I will gladly retract in the face of contrary evidence. It really isn't some ego trip. Ask yourself how somebody in 2003 could get so much right.

You have to ask why/how I got things so right so far in the past. Oh, and while we are at it. There is no more than 200mph anymore. It is up to 200mph and has been for a long time.

Anonymous said...

"You have to ask why/how I got things so right so far in the past. "

You posted a comment on the internet. Do you want the Presidential Medal of Freedom or something? It's really not that insightful or relevant.

Anonymous said...

Rob..did you go to high school in the 1970? I did ...wake up buddy sniff the tracks

Rob Dawg said...

davisgrad said...
"You have to ask why/how I got things so right so far in the past. "

You posted a comment on the internet. Do you want the Presidential Medal of Freedom or something? It's really not that insightful or relevant.

A comment 5 years ago that correctly called the cost and timeframe and speed reductions and cities served and electrification and at grade crossings? Come on. The only reason you aren't willing to accept that I may know a little something is because you don't like the answers not because the answers are wrong.

It's all academic now anyway. Even if 1a doesn't fail 58-42 like I predict the credit crisis and Federal bank bailout have crushed the States ability to float the bond. I don't like those last either but I'm not going to hide them under the sheets until after the election. Did you read the new budget? Huge cuts in transit subsidies. That effects the ability of local participants to pay for their billions in adjunct funding and infrastructure.

Anonymous said...

You have it BACKWARD!! it going to WIN by 58-42 margin...maby better

Anonymous said...

@ rob,

Your comments on the internet are no more useful than anyone else's, mine included, and I don't find them particlarily insightful either. You're no more special than anyone else, Snowflake.

It's not academic now, it's inevitable.

I disagree that it will be impossible to float the bond. 3-month t-bill yields went negative briefly this week, which means people are very willing to invest in safe investments, like HSR. Otherwise, they wouldn't be buying assets that return less than putting cash in your mattress....

Anonymous said...


You write:

it's all academic now anyway. Even if 1a doesn't fail 58-42 like I predict the credit crisis and Federal bank bailout have crushed the States ability to float the bond.

I support your arguments against this boondoggle. However, this statement warrants a comment.

The State cannot declare bankruptcy, that is the law. So unlike Orange County or New York City the ability to float bonds is really unlimited. As the State's credit gets trashed by budget crisis etc., and they will have to pay more in interest, but they will still be able to get the money.

So I disagree the project will be stopped by the State's in-ability to raise the cash through a bond measure.

What is going to happen, if Prop 1A passes, is the inability to get funding for construction, since 1/2 those funds have to come from elsewhere -- either Fed or private funds. That is not going to happen. The net result will be a loss to the State of about 2 billion dollars. 950 million given to the other transit agencies. and 900 million, the amount being 10% of the 9 billion that can be spent without matching funds.

Believe me they will spend the 900 million -- Probably not a single mile of track will ever be laid.