Saturday, October 25, 2008


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

We talk so much about the stock market these days - its ups, its downs, and its crashes - that we seem to forget what it's ostensibly all about - an investment. You put some money in now and you get MORE in return later. Of course there is a cost to this - that money up front. Sure, you could use it to buy something else right now, but if you commit that money to the investment - especially if it's a good investment, in something certain to bring you greater savings and new opportunities in the future - it seems like a no brainer of a move.

That's the nutshell version of the argument advanced by R. Sean Randolph in today's San Jose Mercury News. Randolph is president and CEO of the Bay Area Council Economic Institute, a consortium of leading businesses and institutions in the Bay Area. Randolph understands what we have been saying for months here at the blog - that high speed rail and Prop 1A are a smart and necessary investment for our state's future:

The project will generate nearly 50,000 long-term jobs in the Bay Area between now and 2030. Between $6.9 billion and $8.9 billion will be spent here on construction, generating 128,000 to 130,000 direct and indirect jobs during construction. By taking cars off the roads the system will enhance business productivity. Bay Area commuters lose 150,000 hours each day to congestion, at an annual cost to the economy of $2.6 billion. In-state business can also be conducted more efficiently, as travel time from San Jose to Los Angeles will be cut to a little over two hours.

That's the first effort I've seen to quantify a California version of the green dividend that has been studied in Portland - and the $2.6 billion figure here is limited to congestion (not including savings on gas) and limited to the Bay Area. We can assume that figure will be larger for the entire state and once savings on gas is included - for flights and cars - we may very well approach, yes, $10 billion.

The job creation alone is both considerable and desperately needed in a state whose unemployment rate is at 7.7% and rising fast. Do we want to wait until we're pushing 10%? Those construction jobs create other indirect jobs, and they ALL create tax income for a state that desperately needs it.

All while acting as a long-term investment that will provide clean, safe, sustainable and quality transportation that fights global warming instead of contributes to it.

High speed rail is an investment we can afford - and an investment we cannot afford to reject. Especially when you consider that not only do we not have to pay $10 billion up front, but that it will bring in even more money from the federal government, stimulus money we aren't going to get if we reject Prop 1A.

The HSR deniers don't see the purpose of investment. They instead see HSR as a threat either to their property values or political ideologies. Which is their right, of course - but Californians should think about the value of the investment, and not be swayed by those who prefer to cling to the past instead of make a smart investment to secure our future.


Anonymous said...

On Sunday Morning--10/26/08 -- KCBS 740 am is doing a show on Prop 1A. Kopp will be there. Mike Brady, president of DERAIL will be on the con side of the debate.

The program airs at 8:30 AM and is repeated at 8:30 PM.

Rafael said...

I wonder where that $6.9 - $8.9 billion figure came from. That's more than CHSRA intends to spend on the Bay Area section of the starter line. Perhaps Mr. Randolph is including the expected induced private investment in real estate near the proposed stations in SF, SJ and along the peninsula.

As for reducing time (= money) wasted in traffic, that only applies if commuters actually switch to HSR and the trains offer reliable broadband internet access so they can be productive in transit.

The experience in e.g. France suggests that HSR will prompt some commuters to move far from their place of work. However, in all fairness, the choice of Pacheco Pass means that HSR will do little to alleviate traffic on the 880, 580/205 and 680 freeways in the Bay Area.

Anonymous said...

Proponents of Prop 1A such as Robert, have now morphed this into a jobs creation bond.

In an ARTICLE from the SF Chronicle we read:

Nearly all of the campaign contributions have come from engineering and construction companies or organized labor groups that could benefit financially if the state moves ahead with plans to build an 800-mile statewide high-speed train system. More than $1.5 million poured in during the past three weeks.

such is the way of the world.

Anonymous said...

Well it sure is going to create jobs!! not just some 700billion for failed private business.And over the years it will let our state grow and have the system neeed to create more even more jobs and travel. What has any group opposing this proposed to answer these needs?

Robert Cruickshank said...

Nothing has morphed except emphasis. In the spring of 2008 there seemed to be more focus on environmentalism and sustainability around the state, so that's what I emphasized. By summer gas prices had come to dominate and so that's what I emphasized. Here in the fall the economy is at the forefront of voters' minds so that's now what we're emphasizing.

Prop 1A always dealt with all of those things. But it never makes sense to talk about the myriad benefits of HSR at once. Gotta emphasize one thing at a time. If I woke up tomorrow to discover voters were primarily thinking about renewable energy I'd write more about that.

bossyman15 said...

heh that's my newspaper! :)

anyway take a look at what i did with my car.

You all should do same thing.
Spread the word!

Anonymous said...

Thats a great idea! free prop 1A ads!! and on the freeways..YESON1A should have thought of that and drove it around Orange and SanDiego
counties. That is where the real effort should have went.OrangeCo has so much to gain..I cant believe
that silly OCregister came out against Prop1

Brandon in California said...

Great job bossman! I see you also got the same bumper sticker (but not a sticker) from Cafe Press! I did too and it's in my rear windoww.

I feel inspired; maybe I'll hit the crafts sore and get some waterbased paint today?

Anonymous said...


The Daily Koss, which I understand is a publication you favor, has this article today.

Quoting from this article from the daughter of James Mills:

I am passing on an analysis of California's Prop 1A ballot initiative from one of the leading experts and advocates of mass transit in the state of California, James Mills.

Mills' daughter writes:

I'd like to suggest you vote "No" on Proposition 1A, the "Safe Reliable High-Speed Passenger Train Bond Act," on the basis of the following insider, expert information: my dad says it's a bad idea.

My father, James Mills, spent his entire career in the California state legislature (1961-1983) working to promote public transportation in the state. He was President pro Tem of the Senate for a decade. He was chairman of the Amtrak board under president Carter. Since retiring he has worked as a consultant on transit issues, and in the 1990's he served on the High Speed Rail Commission for the State of California . My dad is hard-core in favor of rail. If he says a proposal to fund a rail project is no good, then that proposal has to be a real turkey.

bossyman15 said...

@ Brandon in San Diego

you can go to your local car store and ask for special marker that you can write on the windows.

bossyman15 said...

@ Anonymous...

did you check the comments on Daily Koss article?

nearly all of them support prop 1A!

You Fail.... HARD.

Anonymous said...

@ rafael

Here is a link to a full document that Joseph Vranich submitted to the T&H committee. It has some graphs and other quantitative data. In particular you might be interested in the ridership projections, especially noting that both Berkeley and FRA came in with much lower numbers then have been projected by the CHSRA.

Anonymous said...


considering the publication, I would certainly expect those kind of comments. It isn't the comments that I am referring to, but rather that this publication would publish the article.

Robert Cruickshank said...

anon, ANYONE can post a diary at Daily Kos. Even you. The comments were uniformly critical of the arguments and supportive of Prop 1A. Your attempt to stir the pot has failed miserably.

Spokker said...

My daddy says Prop 1A is a bad idea. He is super-duper into trains. He even made love to a train. But this train is not very attractive to my daddy, and therefore you should vote NO on Prop 1A!

Spokker said...

I have a question.

I was listening to the radio and they said that one of the hardest hit job sectors was construction due to the housing crisis.

Now when these construction jobs are created by high speed rail, who gets those jobs?

Let's say a guy was building houses and suddenly finds himself out of work. Could he apply and be hired to work on the high speed line? What are these, general contractors or something?

Maybe someone who is familiar with these things can fill us in on the details.

Anonymous said...

well spoker old men like choo choos
not 200mph HST most railfans are old white mccain your dad...tell him to yote yes on 1a or you will slit his throat.

Anonymous said...

High speed rail construction is a lot of bulldozers, carpenters to build the forms for the concrete for bridges and overpasses, 1,600 miles of fence, equipment buildings (for signal and communications equipment) and then rail laying and digging a lot of holes for the foundations for the catenary poles, stringing the wires, building stations.....

Most all is general construction and can utilize folks who build houses or graded subdivisions.

Anonymous said...

morris...stop with the stupid links them to your nimby city mayors office...