Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Two Very Different Op-Eds

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

This week the debate over high speed rail - which, bizarrely, we're still having even after California voters approved Prop 1A a year ago - returns to the opinion pages of two of California's most prominent newspapers. Two op-eds examine the project and reach very different conclusions about the project's value to the state. First up is Daniel Curtin, president of the California Conference of Carpenters, writing in the San Francisco Chronicle:

California voters know we must change to meet the environmental challenges we face. They realize that every passenger who travels these sleek trains will reduce greenhouse-gas emissions that auto or air travel would have spewed into the atmosphere. They know that 800 miles of high-speed rail will reduce congestion between urban centers and encourage low-polluting urban in-fill development....

On high-speed rail, California leads the nation and San Francisco leads the state. An intermodal transit station, the Transbay Transit Center, is ready to break ground. Some 8,000 construction jobs will be directly created by the project and tens of thousands of jobs will be generated from the economic activity, according to plan documents. In a state with more than 12 percent unemployment and a city with just more than 10 percent of its workforce out of work, this will provide a desperately needed economic stimulus...

Just as the New Deal-inspired Oakland-San Francisco Bay Bridge served as an economic bridge from the Great Depression to a prosperous future, so will the Transbay Transit Center and high-speed rail be our generation's transportation corridor from economic adversity to a greener, more prosperous future.

There are two ways one can read this op-ed, and they are not mutually exclusive. The first is as a call to support the economic stimulus value of high speed rail. In this deep recession, where California's unemployment rate is higher than it's been for 60 years, we can use any job we can get. Especially 8,000 construction jobs on just the TBT alone.

And that takes us to the second reading of the op-ed, which is as an argument for the Transbay Terminal project as being a fundamental piece of the high speed rail project. Quentin Kopp is still pushing alternatives to the current location of the TBT train box, and we keep hearing rumors that Kopp doesn't want the TBT to happen at all (rumors which he has denied to me). As the decision on HSR stimulus funds nears, it makes sense for TBT supporters to push out op-eds like this extolling the virtues of the project, including the badly needed jobs it would create.

Not everyone things jobs are important in a state experiencing at least a 12.2% unemployment rate. Dan Walters, who writes on state politics at the Sacramento Bee, writes today that we should "take bullet train claims with a grain of salt". As you'll see, it's Walters' column that requires the salt:

Ironically – or perhaps prophetically – the California High Speed Rail Authority's Web site bolsters the economic viability of a proposed statewide bullet train system by quoting an official of Lehman Brothers....

If nothing else, the fact that the rail authority is still quoting defunct and disgraced Lehman Brothers about financing the bullet train should make us skeptical that the system will materialize during the lifetime of any Californian now breathing, or that it would generate all the economic and social wonderfulness its advocates are claiming.

This is a ridiculous and misleading line of attack. If Lehman Brothers had collapsed because of its work supporting high speed rail, then Walters might have a point. But it didn't. As Andrew Ross Sorkin at the New York Times explained yesterday, Lehman's collapse was due to a CEO, Dick Fuld, who wasn't skilled at negotiating these kind of deals, and due to the Bush Administration's willingness to let Lehman fail.

None of that undermines the work Lehman staff did on high speed rail. Specifically, Lehman told the CHSRA that the project could "leverage significant private participation." There is every reason to believe this is still the case. Global money still seeks a safe return on investment, and as the CHSRA found in 2008 when they solicited statements of interest, at least 40 companies showed their desire to participate in the project.

The case for private investment remains solid. Every HSR route around the world has generated an operating profit. As oil prices rise, ridership will as well, as SNCF argued last month. Obviously the exact amount of money CHSRA can expect from the private sector will depend on credit and economic conditions, but it is still reasonable and plausible to expect that some investment will materialize.

Walters doesn't stop there:

Such skepticism is especially warranted now that Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger and other promoters, having persuaded voters to pass a $9.95 billion bond issue that California can ill afford, are asking the Obama administration for half of the federal money set aside for high-speed rail – nearly $5 billion.

Even if the feds come through with that kind of dough, which is highly unlikely, it would be less than half of the federal funds that California needs. It would also fall well short of the $40 billion or more it would take to link San Diego, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Sacramento and points in between with 200-mph trains.

This is just plain wrong. The White House has repeatedly said California will receive a large share of the HSR stimulus funds. It is entirely possible we will indeed receive nearly $5 billion from the feds. Even $3 billion would be a substantial sum.

Does it fall well short of the $40 billion total to build both phase 1 and 2 of the project? (Note how Walters throws in the Sacramento and SD extensions, which will not be built until about 2030, to make HSR seem more costly.) Yes. And that's why President Obama and the Congress are looking at long-term funding of HSR. Right now there is the battle over the $4 billion in HSR funding for 2010 going on in the US Senate. The stalled Transportation Bill is likely to include a permanent HSR funding solution once it is finally passed and signed. Walters doesn't give the reader any of this information, which makes it obvious that CA is quite likely to get the federal money it needs to build the project.

Schwarzenegger et al. are asserting that private investors would put up about half of the total cost. They also contend that the system could operate at a profit without subsidies, based on rosy ridership assumptions.

Well, if that's what Arnold is claiming, Arnold is indeed wrong. I've never heard CHSRA suggest private investors would contribute more than 25% of the cost.

As to operating at a profit, here again Walters is simply wrong. The Acela generates operating surpluses, as do all other HSR projects around the world. And of course, neither California's freeways nor its airports operate at a profit without subsidies (and in fact, freeways aren't expected to operate at a profit, period).

Then there are the assumed economic benefits that would accrue. Building the system obviously would create some direct design and construction jobs and at least some ongoing jobs for operation. But the rail authority has bootstrapped that direct benefit into upward of a half-million additional jobs that would be created, it's said, simply by the economic activity generated by having a new transportation system in place.

The "economic activity" claim is a projection subject to quite a lot of change up or down in the future, but it IS based on legitimate studies. Further, it is based on the proven concept that mass transit creates a Green Dividend - economic activity generated through the reallocation of money previously spent on oil. It may not be as high as 450,000. But at this rate, in a state facing high unemployment for many years to come, even something that falls 50% of that goal is still well worth building.

Grandiosely, authority board member Rod Diridon Sr. of San Jose contends that the project "will generate 600,000 construction-related jobs … and another 450,000 transportation-related permanent jobs, providing a long-term stimulus to the California economy."

The claim appears to be way overblown. But even if true, it would represent a tiny portion of California's economy decades hence. There are about 18 million Californians in the work force now. In 2030, when the bullet train is projected to become operational, 450,000 permanent jobs would represent less than 2 percent of needed employment – if, indeed, they ever appear.

Walters doesn't give any evidence or explanation as to why the claim is "way overblown" - meaning Walters' own statement is baseless. But even if he were right, does he really believe California can afford to pass on even 2% of needed employment? Walters is writing as if it were 1998, when the economy was booming and jobs were plentiful. Here in 2009, it's clear that we are not in a position to turn down jobs like this, especially when the estimates run into the hundreds of thousands for both short-term and long-term employment.

Ultimately Dan Walters shows himself to once again be a leading apostle of the notion that the California of the 20th century, dependent on sprawl and oil, is somehow still a viable basis for economic prosperity here in the 21st century. To believe that, you have to believe that the current recession either isn't happening, or is an acceptable cost of doing business. Most Californians don't see it that way. That's why they approved the high speed rail project, and that's why it's going to get built.

California's going to get those jobs, whether Dan Walters wants them or not.


missiondweller said...

Regardless of the number of jobs this creates, we need every last one of them.Though the completed project will provide benefits for decades to come, it can create jobs now that we so badly need now.

James said...

The California_Labor_Market needs all the help it can get. Jobs, both existing and created, need transportation. HSR jobs bring transportation to serve other jobs, and the tourism industry.

The BART_extension_FAQ for the proposed San Jose line claims to support "10,000 jobs annually". And that is just the extension much less an entire HSR system.

Anonymous said...

The state can do much much better with government funds, than building what will be a boondoggle of a failed rail project, that will for generations to come such needed funds from the States general fund to subsidize its operations.

Those who listened to the KLAW radio broadcast, heard from an independent Berkeley professor, who expresses his strong reservations about the project.

If we are indeed going to spend tax dollars or deficit dollars on infra-structure, let us spend them where they are needed, not on this monster.

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

Thank You Anon @5:03pm. We need more of people like you.
"If we are indeed going to spend tax dollars or deficit dollars on infra-structure, let us spend them where they are needed, not on this monster."
And where do we need this infrastructure?

Joey said...


I could say a lot but I'll leave it at this:

Why should HSR in California require an operating subsidy when HSR around the world, INCLUDING the pathetic Acela Express, operates at a profit?

Anonymous said...


Using all caps doesn't make your argument any more persuasive.


DO the wheels on your house go round and round dumb toy monster Truck!!!

Anonymous said...

We could invest the same $$$ in the energy industry, building California's leadership in the green technologies (alternative auto, solar, wind), we could have something useful at the end that every californian (every world citizen) could benefit from, we wouldn't have to lay waste to vast swaths of california real estate to create new transportation corridors (the ones we already have lo and behold will work just fine), we'd solidify california's economic leadership in the emerging 21st century technology industries, and we'd employ even more people for the long run.

Instead we build a fancy schmancy train that will serve about 2% of the population coctails as they lounge their lard asses in comfy cushy oh so conspicuous consumption through once-prime california real estate on their way to their next tourist stop. But yes, we cerainly do employ alot of Europeans and concrete companies in the process.

Anonymous said...

Don't forget about the unemployed DJs. They will get jobs on the HSR disco cars... in about 15-20 years.

Where's the California Conference of Musical Entertainers??

Joey said...

will serve about 2% of the population

Because 2% was enough to pass 1A...

NONIMBYS said...

Rich fancy schmancy sounds alot like your home in beautiful ...PA/Menlo/Atherton
Anno!! Besides..WHY are you ranting on..WE WON and its going to get built!!!! you annos sound like the sore losers you are

missiondweller said...

Anonymous said, "We could invest the same $$$ in the energy industry"

Yeah, one problem with that genius.
HSR is being built to meet the transportation needs of the next 30 years not our energy needs.

Look, I get it. You love your car. I do too. But the studies are pretty clear that without HSR we'll need to build more freeways and more runways.Both of which will add to pollution, congestion and more suburban sprawl.

political_incorrectness said...

Annon @ 5:03 pm. Is you call HSR a boondoggle, what is BART OAC. More freeway lanes? California freeways are more than wide enough and do not need to be widened more. It is simply unacceptable we have not used the full potential of rail. It has not been invested in as much as freeways and it is time to shift to utilizing our rails more.

Brandon in California said...

Some things never change!

Regardless of all discussion on this blog - some good, some not so good - one thing remains consistent.

I am speaking of new visitors on the steeper part of the learning curve and only just now being exposed to
- limited resources,
- limited ability to expand roadways and airports, and
- largely unaware of the relationship between capacity and demand.

Did I miss anything?

Unknown said...

@Brandon: "Did I miss anything?"

Not really. It's basically the same flawed arguments as the comments on the last post. We need some kind of filtering or something on here. People come on every day and spout the same crap like they just figured it out and they're doing us all a service by keying us in on this new info.

I'm not sure what the solution is though, I certainly don't want to turn this into a situation where we just have an echo chamber of HSR cheerleading, but having the same arguments over and over again gets old.

YESonHSR said...

Dan Walters is just another MediaNewsGroup chain paper reporter
that has to keep spewing forth something for his pay..made up half truths and all. thats why its important to post a reply in the paper to debunk his opinions.He spent 4 months trying to kill 1A and round two

Robert Cruickshank said...

Agree, AndyDuncan. We're in the process of setting up a WordPress version of the site that gives more flexibility in how to manage comments, including requiring people to pick a username (no more Anons). It's hard to manage comments effectively on Blogger.

There is a "tragedy of the commons" starting to develop in some of these comments. The usual, repetitive arguments are becoming boring and distracting. That is, of course, their goal, and I still encourage people to not take the bait.

Caelestor said...

What many of the detractors of HSR realize is the inflexibility and the non-sustainability of the current US commute system. While cars and planes are very useful, in essence they guzzle up too much gas (and oil prices are going to keep going up). There needs to be more alternatives, such as rail, which is woefully underutilized here (look at Europe and Asia). While years of the model of endless suburbia has lead to stagnation, it's important that it's better to change bad habits now than later or never.

On the other hand, the government needs to make sure it doesn't slack off on the job. It needs to go at the pace of railroad expansion in the 1800s or the project construction of the New Deal, WITHOUT incurring massive overruns.

Caelestor said...

Another sidenote I add to the end:

Look at the boondoggle that's the MTA Capital Construction of NYC. It's a combination of ineptitude and lack of funding.

Spokker said...

Labor is a cost, not a benefit. Let's keep things in perspective here. Jobs are created whether you build freeways, dams or tracks. It doesn't really matter that 10,000 jobs will be created by a specific public infrastructure project. Jobs would be created by building 50,000 cars and dumping them into the LA River. Come now.

"There is a "tragedy of the commons" starting to develop in some of these comments. The usual, repetitive arguments are becoming boring and distracting."

I usually err on the side of leniency on the subject of comment moderation, but damn, every thread is becoming a slapfight about the Peninsula.

Bianca said...

requiring people to pick a username


Back on topic, the stimulus value of HSR is not immediate but it is quite long-lasting. Think about the economic impact of the Golden Gate Bridge. I'm sure people complained that it was a "boondoggle" back in the day but I don't see anyone refusing to use it on principle.

Anonymous said...

whenever I see all caps, I just ignore the post. Try it, you will like it. Whenever I see some words CAPITALIZED for effect. I just ignore that post as well.

Anonymous said...

.... we all know that freeway lanes don't take up any land and train tracks take up vast swaths of valuable real estate.

I guess the additional freeway lanes would be built in another dimension and the train tracks that built on existing rail road property somehow suck up valuable real estate via some evil land sucking vortex in an alternate universe.

ARguing with the anti hsr people is just like arguing with the right wing.

They don't hear anything but the sound of their own voices and they don't have any of their own original thoughts.

They only have a pavlovian response.

They say no like an over zealous jeopardy contestant buzzing in before Alex finishes giving the clue.

Brandon in California said...

When does the wordpress version come out?

And, although I intend to use a username so that folks can mentally link my comments to a name... I still want a bit of anonimity. No personal or email info, right? ... I don't need Jim tracking me down, right? har har har.

Zachary Dahl said...

More jobs, better for the environment, decongesting our airports, or whatever your argument may be for HSR, or the converse if you are against HSR, is all minutia. The real issue here is changing our transportation paradigm! This is about redefining our priorities when it comes to spending our national treasury. This is about keeping our “first world country” moving forward and progressing into the 21st Century!

I find it interesting how people can raise such a stink about the costs of building a HSR line yet barely seem to care about the massive amounts spent on foreign wars, corporate welfare, the drug war, agricultural subsidies, etc. etc. This project, or the sum of all of the HSR projects around the country, are a drop in the bucket if you look at the amounts of government money that is spread around on a yearly basis. So, at its root, this is fundamentally about a shift in our spending priorities to fund modern infrastructure projects that will create real improvements in the quality of life for our citizens and keep our economy competitive with the rest of the world. This is about spending tax payer money in a way that does not directly line the pockets of the richest one-percent (although, indirectly, they will still do just fine off of projects like this). This is about investing in future of America! I know it sounds cliché, but I think this project needs to be tied to the bigger picture and HSR deniers need to be called out on where their overall priorities lie. This is much bigger then arguing dollars and cents for one public works infrastructure project.

lyqwyd said...

Excellent point Zach, on a similar note, has anybody seen the new Amtrak commercial? It really kind of points out exactly the arguments for rail that we've repeated here over and over again, really a great commercial for rail in general. I can see this same type of commercial being used by the HSR operator to great success as well.

Anonymous said...

That's a great commercial.




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

All your ranting about HSR critics (under anonymity or not) masks only the paucity of your arguments. Just because you're infatuated with the technology of high speed trains, you expect the rest of the country to go along with it, simply because you want it. A 5 year old kid in love with a toy train his father can't afford to buy him couldn't be more capricious. The fact is that these trains and related infrastructures require massive investment, the return on which is questionable in America considering the density situation of sprawling western US cities and the low cost of car travel. In spite of this reality you want to encourage the construction of this train so that you can impose an urban, high density life style which Americans are obviously not particularly fond of. If they were interested in living on top of each other, as Europeans and Japanese do, they'd do so today, instead of buying houses farther and farther away from the city centers in order to escape the urban environment you're trying to espouse. I might add that it's a life style you're trying to impose on others, but not on yourselves. As an anonymous commenter pointedly noticed, Robert lives in Monterey, hardly a paragon of high density living. I wonder how many of you regular bloggers live in downtown San Francisco, as opposed to some suburb in the outer Bay Area or Greater LA area. And yet you continue to discount these facts as bogus. They are not. This is a huge investment which will syphon public resources away from other endeavors. And as someone noted, it's not that your train will in anyway decrease the commuting traffic, or diminish the need for freeways. Whether you like it or not, Americans will continue to love their single family homes, large inside and surrounded by a big yard and maybe even a pool. As a result, people will continue to move to far away suburbs and commute to work every morning probably by car, since your HST will have in the meantime depleted all resources for urban and regional transit (which is certainly needed). Your High Speed train will have no impact on this trend and will not help improve our congested roads. It will help only to relieve some air traffic from our skies and airports. At most it will reduce some cars, but very few, which today travel between the central valley and SF or LA areas. The same is true in Europe, and some people are beginning to question those public investment choices. Interestingly, the loudest critics of the European HSRs come from the left of the political spectrum. They are the ones who suddenly realized that this huge investment on HSR infrastructure, which benefits business travelers the most, has come to the detriment of maintenance and improvement of regional rail, which is used primarily by the working class folk.
In summary, all this money would be much better spent on BART, Caltrain, Metrolink and the like. It would have a much greater impact on congestion, and probably on TOD, which you seem so much to love (for people other than yourselves).

Anonymous said...

"shift in our spending priorities to fund modern infrastructure projects that will create real improvements in the quality of life for our citizens and keep our economy competitive with the rest of the world"

Which is why we should be funding growth in the greentech industries, that will make real permanent comprehenive structural change in the way the world works, and NOT in HSR, which doens solve anything - no cars taken off roads (because people still need to get from point A to point B locally, and HSR DOESNT GET ANYONE to where they need to go, unless you sleep in train stations.) And it serves up rare long distance trips to a small sliver of well off population. We need a structural change in transportation that serves the greater whole. We need permanent high value, local jobs, created through pemanent industry, not temporary construction jobs (plus a few temporary engineering and trainset manufracturing jobs overseas, a handful of lobbying/PR jobs for HSR propoganda pushing, and a bunch of ticket taker/waiter/bathroom cleaner jobs on the HSR once its running.

The question isn't whether HSR creates some jobs - the question is what kind of jobs over the long run, and how does that compare to other ways we could be investing 40-80 Billion.

Spokker said...

"and HSR DOESNT GET ANYONE to where they need to go"

Freeways don't get anyone where they need to go, unless you sleep on an off-ramp.

Anonymous said...

You mean if I need to go to fresno hsr won't get me there? damn ive been duped!

Anonymous said...

And it serves up rare long distance trips to a small sliver of well off population. We need a structural change in transportation that serves the greater whole

the people who ride trains are not just the well off. by a longshot. they are working people trying to get to and from jobs. they are everybody. the are an exact cross section of the california population.
The riders are a rainbow coalition of people of al races, income levels, ages, with a long and varied list of reasons for riding.

You are not going to get away with posting untruths here. Not as long as im here. You are blowing smoke out your ass anon.

Anonymous said...

Brandon in San Diego said...
When does the wordpress version come out?

And, although I intend to use a username so that folks can mentally link my comments to a name... I still want a bit of anonimity. No personal or email info, right? ... I don't need Jim tracking me down, right? har har har.

Ill be in san diego next month. Lol. Ill be the one with devil horns and a fly cali logo on my forehead.

Anonymous said...

Spokker, people use their cars from their own driveways, get on roads (freeways or otherwise) every day. Yes, you do have to use the offramps though...

Anonymous said...

well surprise surprise surprise...

Anonymous said...

Jim, at (the ridiculousy low-balled pricing in the EIR of) $55 for one way trip, only wealthy people are going to be taking trains for any regular purposes. And the HSR tickets will be well more expensive than that once truth sets in.

CHSRA themselves have said HSR will be at least 3X more expensive than Caltrain. HSR is NOT going to be for the daily commuter just getting to work.

The train gets you to the city of Fresno, is the city of fresno all made up entirely of one building at the train station? Or do you have to get off the train once you're in fresno? Give us an example of what you do in Fresno after you get off the train.. maybe visit your grandma? Does she live at the train station? Or does he come and pick you up in a car? Or do you keep a bike parked permanently in the station for those frequent occasions for visiting fresno? I bet those bike rides across the dirt roads in Fresno in the middle of summer get pretty hot.. And your three kids with suitcases, do they run behind you? or do you strap them to your back? (Oh, you don't have kids? And you say, you use some ROADS and a VEHICLE of some sort after you get off the train? Imagine that - trains don't take you there afterall.)

Anonymous said...

Jim: “It will open up a whole swathe of east Kent from Deal to Sandwich that has traditionally not been commutable."

Sprawl. Surpise Surprise Surprise.

"Manager Rod Mallet said: "It's very difficult to tell if house prices have gone up because of the high speed rail link."

HSR Fanatics attributing economic improvement to high speed rail without proof.

Surprise Surprise Surprise.

Are they using the same PR firm CHSRA is hiring?

Anonymous said...

anon its doesnt' mean sprawl. first it could mean development around stations and second more importantly it means that people who are trying to sell their existing homes will now have a market of willing buyers. you have to be able to think and understand and not just react with "no" automatically.

Spokker said...

"Spokker, people use their cars from their own driveways, get on roads (freeways or otherwise) every day"

Anonymous, people use a bus from a bus stop in front of their house to connect to rail lines every day and vice versa. If someone can't stand other people, they can drive to a train station, rent a car at a train station, take a taxi, ask someone to pick them up, walk or ride a bike.

The fact of the matter is, high speed rail stations have way more options to get you where you need to go than any airport.

Anonymous said...

The train gets you to the city of Fresno, is the city of fresno all made up entirely of one building at the train station? Or do you have to get off the train once you're in fresno? Give us an example of what you do in Fresno after you get off the train.. maybe visit your grandma? Does she live at the train station? Or does he come and pick you up in a car? Or do you keep a bike parked permanently in the station for those frequent occasions for visiting fresno? I bet those bike rides across the dirt roads in Fresno in the middle of summer get pretty hot.. And your three kids with suitcases, do they run behind you? or do you strap them to your back

Gee I don't know. Its all so complicated I can't imagine how people will manage.

Why don't you ask the million folks who use the valley trains already ( up 15 percent by the way, again) how they manage. Maybe they have genies.

and the sacramento station is 7th busiest in the nation up there with new york chicago and LA
and sac doesn't exactly have a london underground.

explain that.

Anonymous said...

If I go to fresno I walk to the hotel, or grab a cab. or a local bus.

Oh no what do i do!!! what do i do!!!

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

Anon @ 12:35 thank you, thank you for reminding these train huggers that the train doesn't take you to the final destination, and often in America, nowhere near the final destination. That's why the train is primarily a substitute for air travel (airplanes also don't take you exactly to where you need to go). Different story in densely populated Europe and Japan, where so many people live within walking distance, or a short 10-20 min. bus ride from the station. Try that in Fresno. Nobody lives downtown, and nothing is within walking distance from the Amtrak station (I know! I lived in Fresno!). I can go from LA to Fresno in 3 hours easy with my truck. And all it costs me is $30 in gas and some wear and tear. Why would I take a train that takes me to downtown Fresno in 90 minutes, but once I add the time on the bus to my final destination it is probably the same time as my truck? And certainly at a much higher cost. If you go to Europe, a similar trip of 200 miles will cost you at least 50 Euros. Today, not 10 years from now. And Jim don't tell me that working class people will use this train on a regular basis. They'll use it once in a while maybe, when they travel solo. They certainly ain't going to take their family of four to Disneyland from Fresno. They'll drive! Because it's cheaper. Only rich business people will take it on a regular basis, because time is money to them, and even saving a few minutes over driving is worth the extra expense of the train and the taxi.

You want this train to be useful and popular in America? Show me gasoline in America at $9 a gallon, and freeway tolls at 10 cent/mile, and then we can talk. Until then Americans will continue to live in far away suburbs and will continue to drive.

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

anooooooo ooonnn hellooooooooo ??????
see this "sacramento valley station is the 7th busiest in the nation" (in the top 1- with New York's Penn Station, Washington, Philadelphia, Chicago, Los Angeles, Boston and

What on god's green earth do all those people do when they get to Sacramento? I guess there are millions of passengers just roaming around the parking lot lost.

Robert Cruickshank said...

Sac Valley Station is actually a key node in the rail link between the Bay Area and the state capitol. Now that RT light rail trains stop immediately adjacent to the Amtrak platforms it's very easy for someone to hop on board an LRT vehicle and head to the Capitol or environs for a meeting, etc.

(although it would be nice if LRT went closer to the convention center)

Anonymous said...

Right you are Jim. They get in cars. That's the point.

Trains don't take people where they need to go - so cars, and roads, aren't going anywhere. HSR isn't helping solve the car or the 'too many roads' problem. We still need to maintain roads, and we still incur the cost and all that environmental impact.

Jim, the argument here is that HSR benefits the environemnt by replacing the need for roads and cars. Its BS.

Surprise Surprise Surprise...;_ylt=AtVYzlD5gR0Soo6Sn.jcFFus0NUE;_ylu=X3oDMTNscG1yZTRqBGFzc2V0A2xpdmVzY2llbmNlLzIwMDkxMDIyL3doeWV4dHJlbWlzdHZpZXdzZG9taW5hdGUEY3BvcwMxMARwb3MDNwRwdANob21lX2Nva2UEc2VjA3luX2hlYWRsaW5lX2xpc3QEc2xrA3NlbGYtZmVlZGluZw--

Peter said...

No, the argument is that HSR will reduce FUTURE need to build more roads and more cars.

We won't be tearing up our existing freeways. We're simply reducing the need to build further ones.

Anonymous said...


my boarding in sf riding to fresno and taking a cab or bus from there = less car use than my renting a car and driving to fresno and then around fresno.

people driving a few miles and parking in long term parking at fresno station taking a trip to disneyland with the kids on a family package and back, means a reduction of several hundred miles of suv travel on roads.

And cutting down on car travel is not the only reason for hsr.

the point is that there are several benefits and combined, they make a difference.

If all the current train riders in california, stopped taking the train, and started driving instead, would it or would it not create more car use?

Anonymous said...

No Jim, the article states that places that were not previously commutable, are now commutable. And that means sprawl. Yes, they can now sell their houses, because people can live farther and farther away from city centers, away from places of work. Jim, that's sprawl and that's environmentally bad.

Big development backing HSR proponents are trying to hijack 'save the environment' cause as their big selling point, when what HSR is really all about is making it alot easier and more attractive for people to spread out into farther and farther reaches - places where property values didn't hold organically (because not enough water, or too far away from resources, too far away from employment centers, etc) Jim, you're either one of them or they've got the hood so far down over your head, that you don't recognize reality. Its SPRAWL. Its BAD for the environment. We should not be encouraging and enabling SPRAWL.

Anonymous said...

anon you will never win this argument because you are wrong.

Anonymous said...

Its not sprawl unless we keep building traditional suburbs which we are doing with or without HSR. Thats a separate issue.
What HSR will do is encourage more close in development.

There will be another 20 milllion people coming to cali in the next 20-30 years.

They need to live somewhere.
You can't put them all in downtown san francisco and downtown LA.
Thats not where they want to live.
HSR will do two things, even out the population and even out the job opportunities.

As much as it will allow for people to live in fresno and work in the bay, it will also allow companies to locate in fresno and offer jobs there while drawing on talent from all over.

Not only that, most of the places that hsr will serve are in desperate need of economic growth and its not for you to deny that to them.

Those people need options and you don't have the right to take those options away from them

Bianca said...

Every time I've gone to Sacramento for a day trip I've taken the Capitol Corridor. And once there I've just walked to whatever my destination was in downtown Sacramento. It's really not that far. It's much better than driving because then I can read or nap or whatever on the train.

I don't think that anyone expects a meaningful number of daily commuters on California HSR. But Jim's article does put paid to the fearmongering contention that HSR is going to destroy property values on the Peninsula. It won't.

The scenario I can imagine is someone who telecommutes most of the time but has to go into the office a few days a month. For those folks, taking HSR might well seem like a good alternative to driving.

Anonymous said...


don't present facts to anon. It scares him away.

Robert Cruickshank said...

I use the Capitol Corridor all the time when I travel to Sacramento (which is often). It has a strong ridership that will only grow once the economy recovers, once there are capacity and track improvements, and once WiFi is rolled out, which will likely happen in 2010.

Peter said...

I may end up commuting via Capitol Corridor starting next fall. Even at the relatively "slow" speed at which it travels, it will still definitely be worth it for me to take the train rather than drive.

Anonymous said...


be sure to get a monthly or a 10 ride and save big bucks!

anon: see where people live in cali and how we connect them together

(rafael never likes my maps-ha! shouldn't have told me how to do them ;-) )

Peter said...

@ jim

Definitely. I've already worked out that if I commute twice a week, the 10 ride pass is the cheapest way for me to go. Plus, I'll be using the StudentAdvantage card.

Anonymous said...

okay well keep in mind that the 10 rides, are not subject to additional discounts. they are already nearly 40 percent off. you can use your student advantage for single tickets only and don't forget about the 3 day advance purchase requirement.

a 10r sac-sf is 161 (16 bucks each way) I doubt you could drive, pay bridge toll and park for that.

Anonymous said...

of course beware, because according to anon, you won't be able to get to the train and if you do, it isn't going to take you where you want to go ( the train will go rogue and take you someplace you didn't anticipate and when you get to the unwanted place, you'll be trapped there in limbo for all eternity) so just watch out for that aspect of it.

Peter said...

I'll be going either Davis-Sacramento (which may be worth driving), as UOP isn't that close to Amtrak, or Davis-San Jose, and take VTA to get to SCU.

Anonymous said...

Dan Walters is a Reaganite freeway booster who got lucky with an easy pan of a boondoggled hsr.

More interestingly I wonder if the new owners of Bechtel has done a quiet review of the 99-Palmdale scheme. I mean who would want their rep sullied with another Big Dig? Maybe they will just back off discretely. I doubt they would have the chutzpah to critique the holy scripture that is Prop 1A.

On the other hand they could follow their predecessor and take the money and run. They could always blame the fiasco on crooked LA politicians. Pick the better Hollywood rationale: "Ve was chust following orders!" -or- "Ït's Chinatown, Jake."

Travis ND said...

This argument that people won't take the train because it doesn't go where they need to is asine. The same logic could be used against airports.

The plane doesn't go where you need to. Who's gonna use these planes unless you live or work at the airport!?!

Get real, that is a lame argument. People find ways to get to and from airports and they would do the same thing with train stations.

YESonHSR said...

These people also fail to see that there will be Rent-a-car outlets just like an airport!!

vishnuprasath said...

Now top companies are hiring jobs in Pune. Quickly post your resume and get your higher postion job.

green tea said...

Wow! I had no idea. I can't believe I traveled with guy for two months and never knew this about him. Once again, identity has foiled me. The world and people aren't always as they seem. Who would have thought, still learning even after getting off the ship. Oh Sen, what would I do without you?

NODUHS said...

Build HSR ..any more stupis "I" was born in 1982 questions

Anonymous said...

Jim is one of those types, that believe the more you write, the more people will believe you, regardless of content.

In this thread, no 66 cmments, he posted 16, about 25% of the total.

Enough already.