Tuesday, August 25, 2009

California Applies for $1.1 Billion in HSR Stimulus Funds

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

Applications for Phase I of federal HSR stimulus funds were due yesterday, and California's request totaled $1.1 billion, focused on the Transbay Terminal train box:

$400 million of the application sent Monday would go toward a “box” to be built 100 feet below the redeveloped Transbay Terminal that would contain a future station for high-speed rail and Caltrain service connecting San Jose and San Francisco. Proposals for spending the remaining $700 million are scattered around the state for various intercity rail projects, Diridon said.

Note that this is just for one specific, narrowly-focused pot of HSR stimulus - applications for another pot of money with more flexibility what qualifies for funds are due in October. Diridon still believes CHSRA, through the state of California and Caltrans in particular, should apply for $4 to $6 billion in that Phase II round of requests.

It is highly likely that CA will get its $1.1 billion request, and we are still in a very good position to get some of the larger request that will be made in October and decided in early 2010.

UPDATE: The Business Insider says "give all the money to California" (h/t to Streetsblog LA):

One of the biggest problem with building a high speed rail system in the United States, is all the unknowns. That's why we get highly questionable, back of the envelop guess work done by Harvard's Ed Glaeser.

If we built the train system proposed for California, we would get real, measurable, results. If the train is a flop, at least we'll know for sure. If it's a raging success, then we can choose the next part of the country in which to build a better train system....

California is ready to go. It has a plan in place for high speed rail system. California voters approved a $9.95 billion bond sale to fund the rail line. Add in $13 billion from the federal government, and the project is more than half way funded....

We can get a big shiny play thing out of our stimulus. It's the type of project--whether it's successful, or a boondoggle--that we can say came about because of the Great Recession....

Spread the wealth around, and it's just going to look like more of the same.

Were it not for the Congressional politics of funding anything - where people want to ensure their states and districts get a little something - I'd call this not only a very good idea, but a politically sensible approach. Congress and the Obama Administration ought to split the difference and help seed other HSR projects, even if they're not true bullet trains - but ensure that our flagship project here in CA gets the money it needs to be built and built the right way.

Atrios makes this point as well.


Rob Dawg said...

It is highly likely that CA will get its $1.1 billion request

Based upon?...

Robert Cruickshank said...

Based upon repeated favorable statements from Ray LaHood, and the fact that there is $8 billion in this specific pot. I would be stunned - like stopped dead in my tracks stunned - if we did not get our $1.1 billion, since it's 1/8th of the overall request, would go to an actual bullet train as opposed to the plans from the other states, and because the Obama Administration has used CA as a poster child for these funds.

Unknown said...

$400 million of the application sent Monday would go toward a “box” to be built 100 feet below the redeveloped Transbay Terminal that would contain a future station for high-speed rail and Caltrain service connecting San Jose and San Francisco.

Does that mean the poorly designed train box is going to be built as-is?

bossyman15 said...

I hope they will rebuild the train box from scratch.

Bianca said...

Realistically, the HSR stimulus funds will have to be spread around quite a bit, to ensure that Congress continues to have an incentive to grow the pie larger.

That being said, California certainly stands to benefit for being first in line in the whole planning and construction process.

Anonymous said...

Do they get the funding first, then embark on a proper design? Or is this "hurry up and shovel dirt" funding,

so the design (which is garbage) is basically sacraficed for sake of feeding at the trough?

And will they be therefore prematurely locking CHSR into any decisions that haven't officially been made yet?

Unknown said...

I'm a bit confused. Why are we only asking for $1.1 billion, if some are suggesting or hinting that we might be able to win all $8 Billion?

Robert Cruickshank said...

We've never, ever been likely to get all $8 billion. There are some observers, like The Business Insider, that argue as a conceptual matter all federal HSR money should go our way. It's an interesting thought exercise but unlikely to ever become policy, for the reasons Bianca gave.

There are multiple pots of HSR money. The $8 billion is from the February stimulus. The other money is from the ongoing HSR money that has been programmed into the federal budget, and that may come from other sources. Applications for that pot of money are due in October.

Unknown said...

It still seems like a poor strategy. Even if you don't think you can win it all, you should apply for it anyway. The current bid is roughly in proportion to California's population, which is absurd. At least half of the money should be going to CA, if not more.

Bianca said...

To follow up on my previous comment, while there are many good reasons to spread the HSR funds around, there are also good reasons for pro-HSR politicians in other corridors to throw more money California's way. Once California's rail line is up and running, people from all over the US can experience HSR without having to go to Europe or Asia.

A lot of us here had the "we need HSR in California" epiphany when riding HSR overseas. We build one here in the US, and a lot more Americans are going to have that same thought.

BruceMcF said...

Marcus, its not all strategy ... there is also the matter of fitting the requirements of the application, where being assured of being in the front of the line may mean projects where a final EIR/EIS has been completed or is not required.

And California has ever reason for confidence that it can attract over 13.75% of the regular funding, with a minimum 20% state match.

It may only be $150m over California's "share" in per capita terms, but if California is using previous rail spending as its evidence of state support, it seems likely to be $1.1b without requiring $275m of state bonds to be sold.

BruceMcF said...

AndyDuncan: it surely means that the trainbox that is built must be within the envelope of the completed EIR/EIS and within the budget envelope of the proposed design. That does not mean that the design cannot be corrected, but y'all will have to hurry if you want any corrections to be made.

AFAICT, the higher cost elements of Richard's design are not in the foundation stage but rather when the box is filled in, so it may still be possible to get a more flexible design adopted. However, once the columns are in place, the design is essentially locked into place.

Reality Check said...

there are also good reasons for pro-HSR politicians in other corridors to throw more money California's way

While that may sound good in theory, the time horizon for California to get a HSR up and running is so far beyond a politician's "event horizon". It's not like they'll be able to turn around and say, "see, that was a great idea because now that everyone can see how great California's HSR is, now we can make a better case for funding ours!" They'll be out of office and/or politically/physically dead and gone by then ...

This is a problem overall -- not just for pols: no long-term selfless thinking. Most NIMBYs -- especially the older ones -- will probably never experience HSR once it's up and running. Many will perhaps get to experience the construction phase, but will mostly be dead or living in a faraway retirement home by then.

Bianca said...

Reality Check, Congress does not have term limits, the way California's legislature does. A large percentage of today's membership is still going to be in Congress 10 or 15 years from now.

It's going to take a lot more than frivolous litigation from folks with no standing to shut it down.

Anonymous said...

the box is fine. quit complaining - a box you don't like is better than no box at all.

Anonymous said...

and in fact, it was just a few weeks ago that a watched a whole long session at city hall on the revisions to the box presented by the joint powers. they have already altered the design and the city is moving ahead.

BruceMcF said...

So, jim, did they address the train throat bottlenecks and curve radii, or was it just the platform lengths?

Carfree in San Diego said...

...a “box” to be built 100 feet below the redeveloped Transbay Terminal...

That sounds excessively deep, I don't understand why it will be so far below the ground surface. Doesn't the cost escalate with depth? Also, being 10 stories underground would probably make elevators the main transporting device over escalators. Sounds crazy for loading/unloading full trains. Anyone have more info on this?

James said...

Re: 100 feet deep.

Is the box 100 feet deep or is it located under a 100 foot hill?

lyqwyd said...

I would take that 100 feet with a grain of salt, who actually said 100 feet? None of the renderings, nor the site plans put it 100 feet below the ground.

Maybe they have to dig down that far for foundation and or support areas. Maybe it's for that 2nd level of train platforms they were claiming was necessary.

It could be true, but it could just as likely be made up by the journalist for convenience.

Anonymous said...

bruce i dont remember the whole thing cuz when i start hearing things like "curve radii" my eyes glaze over. i more of a how to get from a to b guy. I dont care how they do it - just as long as they get it done. but you can find it on sfgtv for june... under commsions... tjpa
the videos are all theere but you have to watch the whole thing ugh - it wont let me Fast twd

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

High Speed Rail in America will never work, because there is nothing that can surpass the beauty of driving on a highway while listening to country music.
You guys are just a bunch of liberal utopian socialist dreamers who want hard working taxpayers to pay for your choo choo toy.
The reason why the Europeans have those trains is because they're just a bunch of socialists.
That's why they have also that crazy thing called socialized medicine that now, your nazional-socialist president wants to create in America, so that we can then call it Amerika.
I'm not going to pay $8/gallon like those crazy Europeans to subsidize your toy. I don't care about this train and most Americans don't care either. What we need is more lanes on the highway, and cheaper gasoline. That's why we should lower the gasoline tax and start pumping oil off the California coast. I heard that there is a bunch of oil off the Monterey peninsula. I don't care how much you guys cry, but there is no way Americans will give away their lifestyle and stop driving our muscle cars. I have a Ford 150 and I'm proud of it. Give me some country music and I'll drive anywhere. Forget your silly elitist train. We don't need socialized trains the same way we don't need socialized medicine. If you love that so much, move to France or to Spain. WE've got nothing in common with them. The only thing in common we have with Spain is that both here and in Spain there are a lot of people who speak Mexican.

Anonymous said...

the foundation may be 100 feet but the public levels are only two levels underground. its less than muni/bart market st.

Clem said...

@Bruce: latest details on train box modifications. Band-aid on top of band-aid, situation still SNAFU.

@Marcus: California is competing for about $16 billion of the $8 billion available nationwide. The $1.1 billion slice being discussed here is for only one of three funding tracks.


@ Toys what is the purpose of your dumb post besides being the poster child for the ugly american? Are you that bored with your heehawww music and driving your truuccckk around? BTW why dont you move to Saudi..they have lots of oil for your truck.

We've got no money for toys said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Jarrett Mullen said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said...

Take it somewhere else, please, you two.

Matt said...

Toys is just a troll with nothing else to do but get you undies in a bunch.

Anyone have a link to the new TBT plans, if there is one?

Rafael said...

@ We got no money for toys -


I deleted your last comment because it was blatantly racist.

Rafael said...

@ Clem -

thx for the update on the attempt to fix the train box design. I agree, it doesn't fix the primary issue, which is that the curve radius of the throat is extremely tight.

The TTC concept should never have been interpreted narrowly as a single building. What SF voters wanted was a downtown station for Caltrain and HSR plus a nice new bus terminal to replace the old one. It was always clear that the new downtown rail station could not be intermodal with both the buses and BART/SF Muni, but the very tightly curved throat into the train box underlines how TJPA made the wrong choice.

In a sane world, the DTX tunnel would have just two tracks and fan out into 3x2 or 2x3 platform tracks underneath either 2nd or 1st Street, dead-ending at Market Street. Montgomery BART/SF Muni is at 2nd and Market, while 1st Street runs under the TTC site. Either way, the throat would be straight and throughput capacity not a problem.

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


Putting HSR on a stub like you suggest would eliminate the possibility of using the TTC as a through station to the East Bay, forcing any future Transbay Tube to go through 4th and Townsend instead of 1st and Mission. Seems kind of shortsighted.

gabe said...

@ toys

I figure you're a concern troll, and acually support HSR. Nobody could be that ignorant. Right?

Anonymous said...

They made the train box best they could with what they have to work with. caltrain has one platform, two tracks, and tail track area for train storages and flexibility. meanwhile hsr gets two platforms and four tracks with plenty of room for four trains at a time to be in the station.

if the west end curve is tight then its tight, the trains can get through n'est ce pas? I mean they aren't blowin' in there at 225, their coming to a stop, the curve is fine.

Rafael said...

@ Jake -

not necessarily. At Market Street, SF Muni streetcars are at grade, the subway station concourses are at -1, SF Muni subway at -2 and BART at -3. The new SF Muni central subway under 4th will descend to -4 south of Mission and ascend again north of Market.

Now imagine a standard gauge station under either 2nd or 1st, between Market and Tehama. For argument's sake, let's assume it would be under 2nd. Imagine also that space must be reserved for a future second BART line under Mission.

Option A) Standard gauge concourse at -1, three platform tracks each at levels -2 and -3, room for BART to cross at a right angle at level -4. The primary pedestrian access points to BART would be on Mission, both west and east of 2nd. In addition, there would be pedestrian connections up to the standard gauge tracks at Mission and 2nd.

Option B) Standard gauge concourse level at -1, two full-length platform tracks each at -2 and -4 plus two half-length platform tracks at -3 between Mission and Tehama. BART would cross at -3. Pedestrian access and transfer to BART as in option A.

Option C) Standard gauge concourse level at -1, two full-length platform tracks each at levels -2, -3 and -4. The second BART line would simply terminate between Fremont and 1st, right next to the TTC building, at whatever level is desired. Tail tracks would run to just east of 2nd.

To connect to the standard gauge trains, passengers would either use the Market St. BART line and transfer at Montgomery or else, the future Mission St. line and pedestrian passages under the TTC plaza and Minna St.

Rafael said...

@ jake -

(part 2)

Ergo, a standard gauge station under 2nd Street could easily be designed to accommodate the desire for a second BART tube to Point Alameda and on up Franklin St. in Oakland, passing under the existing line at 8th and ending in tail tracks under Broadway. These would be used for a new short line between downtown SF and downtown Oakland.

A connector under 22nd and turnouts + ascents under 8th would tie the new line in with the existing BART network in Oakland. These could be used to load balance between the downtown SF stations and also for resilience if the first tube ever became unavailable (earthquake, accident, maintenance).

A standard gauge transbay tube would be less valuable because BART already occupies the ROWs into the downtown areas of Oakland, Berkeley, Walnut Creek, Pleasant Hill and Concord as well as the I-580 median to Pleasanton.

Running standard gauge tracks across to Point Alameda and up Franklin would be possible, but there would be nowhere for them to go beyond downtown Oakland.

The alternative would be to connect to the existing standard gauge UPRR line near Engineer Rd. by way of the old spur next to the I-80 toll plaza. That would provide tracks north to Sacramento and south to Oakland airport, San Jose as well as Pleasanton (via Niles).

However, there are two huge flies in the ointment: first, the DTX tunnel, TTC trainbox and putative second transbay tube would all be restricted to electric trains. Who's going to pay for electrifying the entire Capitol Corridor?

Second, neither UPRR nor FRA are going to allow lightweight non-compliant Caltrain/HSR rolling stock to run on the Capitol Corridor anyhow. Between Benicia and San Jose, there's basically zero land for dedicated passenger tracks, even if UPRR were willing to sell any - which it isn't.

Conclusion: if and when a second transbay tube is actually planned, the bang for buck will be greatest if it is dedicated to BART. Meanwhile, Amtrak's Capitol Corridor service can be upgraded with a combination of track work, express trains, business class and WiFi on board.

There is already a shuttle bus service from downtown SF to Amtrak in Emeryville, which could be expanded. A new underground station next to BART in West Oakland would be possible but a lot more expensive.

Rafael said...

@ jim -

the problem with throats is that any inbound train will block outbound ones and vice versa. That's why LA Union Station is congested.

If a throat is tightly curved, trains - especially HSR trains - have to crawl through it, so they block the other tracks for a longer period of time. TJPA has sought to mitigate that by adding a very expensive third tunnel track, but they botched the design. Result: severely constrained throughput for Caltrain + HSR combined.

To add insult to injury, tight curves generally make wheels squeal horribly because long wheelbase bogies go into sideways running (flange contact) and the axles are rigid. This isn't just painful to hear, it also creates microscopic undulations on the top of the rail and on the wheel rims. The latter leads to increased noise all the way down to SoCal, unless the wheels are ground down more frequently than would otherwise be necessary.

Note: Talgo trains feature independent wheels and wheelset steering to eliminate squeal, but they are the only ones.

In general, run-through tracks are much preferred for busy train stations. However, as I just explained in my previous comments to jake, closer inspection reveals that a standard gauge transbay tube would make a whole lot less sense than a second one for BART. A heavy rail tunnel over to Marin would be stupendous, but also stupendously expensive and extremely hard to connect to SMART at Larkspur.

Ergo: there really isn't anywhere beyond SF for the DTX tunnel tracks to run through to.

A single loop track entering the TTC trainbox from the east and leaving it to the west would deliver excellent throughput but also require a much longer - if narrower - DTX tunnel. There would be various obstacles ranging from plans to develop Mission Bay before funds for the DTX are available to SF Muni tracks and old box sewer along Embarcadero to adverse seismic and hydraulic conditions.

Anonymous said...

rafael..a loop would have been best but its too late for that due to the reasons you mentioned.

however caltrain only runs at max, 6 departures and 6 arrivals per hour - and only for peak rush. their two tracks plus tails can handle that.
and hsr's four tracks can take a train leaving and one arriving every 15 minute with no problem.

so the throat, hmm, lets see, three tracks.... lets see caltrain 6 arrive 6 dep thats 12,ph and then hsr has four arrive and four dep. that s 8 so that 20 trains total per hour through the three track throat.

so, one inside throat track for arriving caltrains and a box that can hold up four at once with one leaving for every one that arrives.

and an outside hsr track for arriving hsr trains and the box can hold four of those with one leaving for every one that arrives,

then, the center tunnel track can be all outbound for hsr and calrain and with proper consolidated dispatch, they can line up hsrs and cts one behind the other departing on a single track with very tight headways.

a total departure rate of 10 trains per hour ( four hsr and 6 caltrains ) means alternating 6 minute headways.

dispatch, looking at the tracks

we'll call them tracks 1-6 can just call the departures,

7a caltrain track 1, go
715a hsr track 6 go
722a catrain track 2a go
728 caltrain track 2b go
730a hsr track 3 go

with all tracks with crossovers to the center outbound only track and train control to execute the crossover timing iwth inbound traffic,
no problem
( i realize thats not exaclty the terminology for dispatching trains but to illustrate...)

Anonymous said...

so 8 tph for hsr and 20 tph for caltrain is well within doable.

another option is to give hsr two throat tracks exclusively, with spread into four platform tracks. and magage them independently from catlrain.

and give caltrain one dedicated (inside) throat track that spreads into two platform tracks plus two tail tracks for stacking, and manage their trains that way keeping the two systems' operations separate.

you can have 6 caltrains arriving as long as you have 6 departing, and the amount of time betweent tbt and 4th is a minute or so to clear the throat.
12 caltrains per hour means one needs to clear the single throat track - be it in or out - every 5 minutes.

and thats only for a couple hours of peak rush each day. the rest of the day is cake.

Anonymous said...

i need to get my friend sara from operations over here to work this out.

Jake said...


Your DTX plan is an interesting thought, but too complicated and it creates routing problems. First, it forecloses any possibility of through-routing Caltrain to Emeryville or Richmond via the Capitol Corridor right of way. Getting an electric CalTrain to the East Bay via the existing UP right of way would be a hell of a lot cheaper than a BART extension.

The Capitol Corridor right of way between Jack London and Richmond used to have four tracks, and the right of way still has the space for four. You would only have to electrify the two passenger tracks, with a timed transfer at Richmond between (diesel) Amtrak and Caltrain to SF.

As a bonus, there are only 12 grade crossings between Richmond and a new Tube exit somewhere in the Oakland harbor, most of which are unimportant side streets that can be closed.

Jake said...

Grade crossings from North to South
El Cerrito:



Rafael said...

@ jim -

Caltrain already runs 5tph in peak periods today and want to crank that up to 8-10 as soon as 2025. With the central subway, not all of those would have to go to the TTC but that ought to be up to the operator - not an intrinsic limitation of the DTX tunnel and TTC station throat.

For its part, CHSRA is legally obliged to deliver a starter line that is technically capable of supporting intervals as short as 5 minutes in each direction. That doesn't mean it intends to run 12tph out of the TTC, just that AB3034 says it must give the operator(s) that flexibility in planning their timetables.

South of the DTX, HSR is currently slated to have dedicated tracks. With modern signaling, those can easily support safe headways of just 3 minutes, perhaps less. However, that's neither here nor there if there's a traffic jam getting into the TTC.

Earlier discussions of how many trains HSR operators will actually ever need to run, considering the options of full-length and bi-level trains, ranged from 4 to 8tph. However, that's based on a bunch of assumptions related to the current real estate development plans, expectation of oil price futures, anticipated population growth in the state etc. However, who knows how things will look in 50, let along 100 years?

The only thing we can be fairly sure of is that expanding tunnel/throat/trainbox capacity at a later date will be nigh-on impossible. It makes sense to insist on a design for the TTC (incl. DTX tunnel and station throat) with plenty of spare throughput capacity. The concern is that TJPA has designed a solution that may hit saturation just afew years after the first HSR trains start running.

I wouldn't advocate spending a ton of additional money just for that peace of mind. However, I don't know that splitting the bus and train portions of the TTC such that the throat issue goes away and there is an intermodal station with BART / SF Muni into the bargain would even cost any more. For all I know, it might cost less. To the best of my knowledge, TJPA simply never even considered putting the Caltrain/HSR train platforms anywhere but directly underneath the bus terminal.

Anonymous said...


well, its too late anyway. for one thing the only blank piece of land is the spot they plan to use.
you can't tear up mission street as it a major transit corridor already and the city and businesses simply aren't gonna do it.

so what can you do. certainly, you can't do anything that will interfere with san francisco's own plans for its own people paid for by its own taxpayers.
I know my hsr support stops where my loyalty to th city starts.
cahsr can have their spot in the terminal. make it or leave it. I mean they will just have to make do.

at the rate this hsr project is going the last thing we need to do is add ever more reasons to delay it.

its like buying a new tv, at some point you have to stop waiting for the next best thing or the next best sale and just take the plunge or youre still gonna be watching your 19 inch zenith console in 2035.

Rafael said...

@ jake -

Amtrak Capitol Corridor is managed by BART. They'd never let Caltrain anywhere near the tracks up to Sacramento. Besides, Caltrain is looking the replace most of its FRA-compliant fleet with modern, non-compliant (lightweight) EMUs with good acceleration. For example, a Siemens Desiro bi-level train manages 1.1m/s^2, roughly twice that of the existing fleet.

Caltrain is currently in the process of obtaining a waiver from FRA to let it operate such EMUs alongside some legacy FRA-compliant rolling stock for service down to Gilroy plus the odd UPRR freight train. Mixed traffic would only be operated on the SF-SJ section that Caltrain actually owns, at least initially.

To have any chance of getting the waiver, Caltrain has had to present a plan for upgrading its signaling, provide computer simulations showing that EMUs are sufficiently crashworthy at grade crossings etc. FRA was sympathetic to the waiver request but the passage of prop 1A(2008) has forced Caltrain to discard a lot of planning work.

On the Capitol Corridor, Amtrak is UPRR's guest. Freight traffic is much heavier there and UPRR is notorious for running trains more or less whenever it feel like it. At this point, it's still optimistic to assume that both FRA and UPRR will ever permit mixed traffic on the Capitol Corridor.

Btw, just how big a travel market is SF-Sacramento anyhow? Is it big enough to justify building a second transbay tube for that single-seat ride? Upgrading the CC to 110mph (where possible) and delivering WiFi on board might well be cheaper and equally serviceable, especially if the shuttle service between downtown SF and Emeryville Amtrak is expanded as well, e.g. via jitneys.

Robert Cruickshank said...

HSR or not, Cutting and Gilman most definitely need to be grade-separated. In fact, the whole I-80/Gilman interchange needs to be totally reconstructed; it is one of the biggest clusterfucks in the whole East Bay.

Berkeley has been kicking around ideas for fixing Gilman, including this interesting model (PDF link) using roundabouts and a grade-separation at the railroad ROW crossing.

Anonymous said...

I think there is a big sewer in Mission Street which would make a BART subway difficult.

Prohibitive costs and economic stagnation could make such a project moot anyway

Anonymous said...

personally I thought they should have teamed up with sfmta/muni and used 4th street with central subway.

the central subway has to go pretty deep anyway and they are going to use boring machines to minimize surface disruption. however, its only 7 blocks from townsend to mission and they could have done it a la market street bart/muni
a three level trench with muni on the bottom, hsr on the 2nd level and caltrain on the top - meaning 4 tracks not three, spreading into the current train box design.

the only thing is the moscone center in that area - theres a huge underground area including underground pedestrian tunnels and such. god only knows what down there.

Rafael said...

@ jim -

I was talking about ripping up 2nd Street. Major cross-roads like Mission, Howard etc. could be kept open, e.g. with temporary bridges across the building site.

Anonymous said...

and as far as caltrain to west coco county theres just no reason for it. its not even their territory.

caltrain does caltrain. ccjpa does ccjpa. we don't need two agencies running there. there just isnt the demand. next we'l be trying to run metrolink to phoenix and coaster to victorville.

just calm down everyone. its like trains galore around here.

Anonymous said...

rafael - you want to run the platforms north south under 2nd?

Anonymous said...

ok so we put the hsr station under 2nd with a stub end at market butting up against the existing muni/bart train box with pedestrian cut through.
fine but now you have the new train box that is not under the transbay terminal.

what kind of connection do we have from the now, bus only, transbay terminal to the off site trainbox and how does this affect the flow of passenger traffic including the effect on commercial interests?

Im willing to go with you on this but......

Rafael said...

@ Robert Cruickshank -

thx for the link on Gilman St. in Berkeley. I get the new roundabout west of I-80, but the almost-roundabout east of it is positively funky. So are all the wavy gravy approaches to both roundabouts.

Back to rail: the AAR recommended clearance for plate H freight cars + 25kV overhead catenaries is 24'3".

If they do end up building an 24' overpass across the UPRR tracks, I hope they mean the clearance underneath, not the relative elevation of the road surface. Even if there are no concrete plans for electrifying the Capitol Corridor, that should be preserved as a future option.

Anonymous said...

since we are running trains all over hell and back, how bout figuring a rail solution for the next big project.... project

Anonymous said...

and if you watch this and take a look at those huge hollow cores, don't they just say " put a train in here"

Rafael said...

@ jim -

yes, sorry if it wasn't clear. I did indeed mean tracks running north-south under 2nd. Full-length platforms would extend from Market to roughly Tehama.

The connection between the simplified Transbay Terminal building (no basement levels) and this Transbay Terminal station would be a pedestrian passage under Minna St. This would feature wide moving sidewalks. Traditionally, those run at no more than 30-40m/min (1.7-2.2ft/s). At the higher speed, the 800ft between 1st and 2nd would take 6 minutes if you stand still while on the conveyor and about 2.5 if you walk on it. Capacity would be about 12000 persons/hour each way.

There have been several attempts at high-speed moving walkways, e.g. in one station of the Paris Metro. It ran at 9km/h = 150m/min = 8.3ft/s and required staff to keep off people who were liable to fall. Inevitably, some people fell anyhow so the whole thing was nixed. Besides, mechanical complexity is the enemy of reliability.

Speed isn't really an issue with automated people movers, but those are usually only considered for greater distances. However, Seattle/Tacoma airport features one just 1000 feet long, roughly the distance between Fremont St. and 2nd. It takes 1.8 minutes for the trip. With wait times, figure it takes passengers more like 3 on average.

Rafael said...

@ jim -

Story of rail transit across the SF Bay Bridge, including the saga of the new east span.

Basically, attaching tracks under or to either side of the west span would have been astronomically expensive. There's no point in running trains just half-way across the bay, so the billions were wasted on a swank suspension section instead - because it's so purdy.

Jack said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Jake said...


I normally drove from Davis to SF when I lived there precisely because Amtrak was so slow, and the SF connection so awkward. The trip took 2 1/2 hours each way by train, which is nowhere near time-competitive. I suspect my experience isn't unique.

Anonymous said...

@ rafael There's no point in running trains just half-way across the bay, so the billions were wasted on a swank suspension section instead - because it's so purdy.

well we can't just put any old thing out there. I mean this isn't Los Angeles. ;-)

@jackI normally drove from Davis to SF when I lived there precisely because Amtrak was so slow, and the SF connection so awkward. The trip took 2 1/2 hours each way by train, which is nowhere near time-competitive.

how fast does one need to go? I use to drive from SAC to the Bay all the time, and there were many times it took 4 hours to get to treasure island where I lived at the time... especially on sat nights.

That said, the time on the train can be a lot more productive and far less stressful. Keep in mind that driving i-80 everyday is taking years off your life, that stress of driving in traffic, getting mad at the drivers who are in your way, trying to cut it too close and then drive like a bat out of hell, etc not to mention add a huge amount of risk to your life.
Many americans are addicted to this type commute, its a control thing for most people, driving gives them the illusion of being in control of things. I have friends who wont use public transit because it makes them feel like some one else is in control.

I wonder if there have been any psychological studies on such personality types.

Judging by the success of capitol corridor, as one of the top 5 five most successful amtrak route in the country, Id say that your experience may well be unique.

Anonymous said...

and actually the trip SFC-DAV is two hours flat not 2.5 2.5 is SFC - SAC

and there's a matter of cost. 396 for an unlimited monthly - for a 5 day per week commuter thats 20 round trips, 19.80 per day.

Whereas driving, is $8 for the bridges, minimum $10 for parking based on a $200 monthly parking space,

thats 18 per day, not counting trips to the gas station and Im sure its more than 1.80 a day in gas.

at 20mpg thats 10 gallons rt at $2 per gal. thats 20 a day in gas.
for a total of 38 per day instead of 19.80 per day. a savings of nearly 400 a month.

Anonymous said...

Jim, the Capitol Corridor is still often delayed. That makes it hard to plan around if you need to be places at specific times for meetings/classes. I go to Davis about four times a month, and I take it on days where I can leave an hour or two of cushion in there. On days where I know I have to be somewhere at a specific time, I drive. You can certainly be delayed driving as well, but you know what times the freeways are going to be busier. You never know when UP is going to screw up the Caps schedule.

AndyDuncan said...

well we can't just put any old thing out there. I mean this isn't Los Angeles. ;-)


(If you squint you can see an incredibly well-planned light rail station in the middle of that mess. Perfectly positioned to maximize pedestrian traffic.)

Anonymous said...

Sure, "give all the money to California" -- why is it you slimy liberals are all about sharing everyone else's money and distributing wealth unless it's about your own selfish interests?

If this was such a good idea, why isn't the private sector showering you with dough?

Anonymous said...

If this was such a good idea, why isn't the private sector showering you with dough?

Because the private sector is broke from "investing" in the fail safe good ideas of lots of housing and office space. The private sector is currently being showered with public dough because it threw so much of its own money away.

Anonymous said...

ah yes the great recession and global economic meltdown. Proudly brought to you by the free market. Slimy indeed. Luckily the public is here to bail them out.


I have alwasy considered Caltrans' LA freeway designs to be works of art actually. I mean they go all out with that stuff.

theres a couple of them out on the 10 and up in the valley that have massive interchanges that seem to rise up to the heavens from nowhere.

and check this orig. design from phx.

In the original 1960s design for an elevated I-10 Papago Freeway, the Arizona Highway Department proposed a new interchange design called a "helicoil" that would require traffic to take a 280-degree loop to the ground. The elevated freeway and helicoil interchanges were abandoned in favor of construction below ground with a deck carrying the Margaret T. Hance Park linking the communities on either side of the highway.

lyqwyd said...

Yes Anon, as opposed to all those privately built freeways and roads.

lyqwyd said...

It would be pretty great if there was a new transbay tube that went through Treasure Island, that would really make it a livable place with easy access to SF & the East Bay.

Anonymous said...

Jim, assuming everyone who needs to go to Sac lives in SF. But when I drive to sac I pay $4 for the bridge and park for free all day long everyday. In fact, I'm even smart enough to get to Sacramento from the Peninsula (driving) without crossing any bridges, and that's even a faster drive. Imagine that! That's for us advanced thinkers though, not the small minded folk who want to blatantly pad their arguments to position HSR as the answer to every prayer in the universe.

By the way, got another person with you? (No I'm most certain you do NOT). But if you did, taking the train just became indefensibly expensive.

Anonymous said...

how many people commute from sac to the bay with two people? 12?

and the commute being discussed was davis to san francisco. which involves two bridges and parking and had nothing to do with hsr. can you read or didn't you bother.

Rafael said...

@ lyqwyd -

Treasure Island is landfill. Developers would love to build there, but it's not a particularly safe place to be in an earthquake.

It's also north of the existing transbay tube, an immersion tunnel covered with a berm to protect it against an accident with a ship anchor. Here's a video of how it was constructed.

Crossing the existing tunnel alignment would only be possible by boring underneath it, as the depth of the shipping lane must be maintained. Ergo, Treasure Island would be hard to reach with a rail tunnel from TTC. There would also be no easy way to connect to the UPRR line in the east bay.

It would make more sense to include Point Alameda in the route of any new transbay tube. Treasure Island already enjoys excellent connections via the Bay Bridge. If required, an efficient WAMV ferry could be added.

Anonymous said...

First, who said anything about commute, (why couldn't Jake be talking about an occassional drive home from school), or for that matter that it costs him anything to park on either end? (Or maybe YOU don't bother to read, or only read what you want to see?)

Second, those of us living in the REAL WORLD Jim, are NEVER without others when we drive from the Bay Area to the Sacramento area, because we have families - and certainly you are aware that no one in their right mind would take a train trip with kids on any regular basis because it would massively expensive and inconvenient, (for anything other than some kind of novelty, scenic fluke, or some Steamengine appreciation weekend in old town )

Forgive me Jim, I thought you were trying to make an actual valid argument - a realistic cost comparison between driving versus train travel from here to there, I should have known you were attempting nothing of the sort - just random smokeblowingfromass.

No random outlying scenario too ridiculous to pass up for argument in favor of train travel, right?
A daily commuter from precisely Davis to SF. Yes, all three of THOSE would precisely explain the HUGE mad rush to train travel today.

And look who's calling who calling who childish and senile (or do we need to start quoting your childish insults to prove it to you?)

Anonymous said...

and the commute being discussed was davis to san francisco. which involves two bridges and parking and had nothing to do with hsr. can you read or didn't you bother.

Two bridges? Huh. I'd never even think to deal with the mess that is 80 in Berkeley. I'd always to 80 to 37 to 101 over the Golden Gate into SF. That's one bridge.

Adirondacker12800 said...

the only blank piece of land is the spot they plan to use.

Google satellite images are notorious for being out of date. The GIS information San Francisco offers is basic, or it was the last time I looked. There are parking lots between First and Beale. If you have a parking lot fetish I suppose parking lots are more important than a train station. . .

cahsr can have their spot in the terminal. make it or leave it.

What happens if your wish comes true? People build a rational system that terminates in Oakland. With branches reaching out to Santa Rosa, Sacramento, Stockton and San Jose. In 50 years San Francisco wonders why all those offices and retail are being built in Oakland. 100 years from now urban planners are discussing how San Francisco declined from being THE city on the US West Coast into being a funky suburb of Oakland.

Go look at pictures of the construction of Grand Central Terminal and Pennsylvania Station in Manhattan. They were built around the same time that the world's tallest buildings were being built down around Wall Street. Both stations are surrounded by three and four story tenements in those 100 year old photos. They have been trying to revitalize Wall Street for the past 50 years. Looked like things were going reasonably well when two planes flew into the World Trade Center.... decades after it opened. San Francisco gets this right this go round or the world will move on to better places.

Is it big enough to justify building a second transbay tube for that single-seat ride?

It might make sense if the system lets people express through BART territory from places like Santa Rosa, Sacramento, Stockton and the East Bay down to San Jose.

If I have all my rumors and urban legends in a row the only place they can build is the Tranbay site. Been intiative'd to death and forced into a bad solution.

Anonymous said...

@anon you missed the entire point of my post. except that something about it made you fly off the handle.... I think there must be some truth in there somewhere for you.....

That said, the time on the train can be a lot more productive and far less stressful. Keep in mind that driving i-80 everyday is taking years off your life, that stress of driving in traffic, getting mad at the drivers who are in your way, trying to cut it too close and then drive like a bat out of hell, etc not to mention add a huge amount of risk to your life.
Many americans are addicted to this type commute, its a control thing for most people, driving gives them the illusion of being in control of things. I have friends who wont use public transit because it makes them feel like some one else is in control.

I wonder if there have been any psychological studies on such personality types.

Judging by the success of capitol corridor, as one of the top 5 five most successful amtrak route in the country

Anonymous said...

@anon as far as families traveling. We have kids ride free on weekends and its very popular. In addition to that we have marketing and ticketing with several family destinations, six flags, and such, and people take the train in from all over the valley for pleasure as well as commuting.

You may prefer to drive and quite frankly I hope you stay in your car and out of my lobby anyway. but just because you want to drive doesn't mean everyone else does. If the trains were not popular they wouldn't have been in a constant state of expansion for the last 20 years. Its the public that has asked for this service and voted to fund it, again and again. So just keep yourself and your probably obnoxious family in the SUV and on the road.

Jake said...


You're missing the point. When I was going to college in Davis, I was the ideal Amtrak rider-- riding alone, no need to have a car at either end, and not in any hurry to get where I was going.  All I wanted was a comfortable, reliable trip from SF to Davis and back.

The point I was trying to make is that current SF connection is about as bad as it could possibly be, because Amtrak doesn't connect with BART in a convenient location, nor does it provide a reliable way to get to San Francisco proper. If I wanted to deal with the bridge traffic, I would have driven!

Anonymous said...


amtrak does connect with bart in two locations - richmond ad coliseum.
and a lot of people go that route in addition, if you are on the bus connection to sf, how are you "dealing with bay bridge traffic" aren't you looking at the view or reading a book? and wht could be more convenient that being dropped off at any of 5 locations around town and not haveing to park, or transferring to bart if you going further across town.

I really don't understand ... I mean you did read the schedule and were aware of the connections and took the train anyway.

If you prefer to drive thats up to you but thousands of others love cc. just because you didn't like it doesn't mean there's anything wrong with it.

When I worked on board it was easy to tell the ones who enjoyed public transit.

usually, yes it is faster to drive, but that depends on the time of day, and again, ehrt are other factors than speed. some people are always in a hurry you know htose drivers who are always tailgating and trying to shve 10 minutes off their trip, and driving above the speed limit etc. those types there isn't any help for. its a personality thing.

but for others, the extra time is the trade off for less stress and hassle not to mention cost savings.

all public transportation is like this. Also if it was a while back when you traveling, the projects have been completed and I think there's bout a 92 percent OTP now which is at least as good as the freeway.

I don't like liver but that doesn't mean liver isn't good.