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Steve2726 Nov 1, 2011 4:47 PM

$98 Billion is beyond insane.

This project is on life support and it might be time to pull the plug. Lets get our local rail systems built first and then worry about linking the regional centers together. It's going to take 30+ years to build a 12 mile subway down Wilshire for f%$# sake. Look at the mess the Expo line is, 50% over budget, a year behind schedule, and it still has no official opening date.

Is it worth $100 Billion to build something that airplanes already do dozens of times a day in a quick, efficient manner?

pesto Nov 1, 2011 5:31 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by M II A II R II K (Post 5463730)
California's bullet train gamble begins: $9 billion now on the line


Read More: http://www.mercurynews.com/californi...il/ci_19229856

Pure shamelessness by HSR. Their only fixation is to spend as fast as possible so that they don't lose federal funding for more useless spending. They don't even try to come up with any other reason for spending.

And their idea of improving the situation? Change their approach and tactics? No! Hire a better PR firm, instead. That's taxpayers' money, you'll recall.

Great quote: "it's not uncommon for major projects to get under way without the full funding in hand". Must be talking about government projects; those wouldn't happen in the private sector. That's why business plans are reviewed by VC's, investors, lenders and the board. Everyone of them has his own money on the line.

Interesting to see what the legislature does.

Troyeth Nov 1, 2011 5:38 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Steve2726 (Post 5463841)
$98 Billion is beyond insane.

That is with inflation factored in, or a reasonable 65 billion in 2010 dollars.

Beta_Magellan Nov 1, 2011 6:32 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Troyeth (Post 5463907)
That is with inflation factored in, or a reasonable 65 billion in 2010 dollars.

$65 billion from Anaheim to San Francisco comes out to around $140 million/mile, which is way more than it should be. There’s lots of room for value engineering.

ardecila Nov 1, 2011 6:40 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by JDRCRASH (Post 5463245)
I can't help but wonder if UP says, "but that's Chicago, where they need transit, so we'll lay off".

It's more complicated than that... UP bought the Chicago & North Western, which operated the commuter service for over a century previously. C&NW always had a strong commitment to the commuter service, possibly because they had 3 and 4-track lines that could handle heavy freight traffic and a complex set of express and local commuters (and intercity, too). Plus, the lines served some very wealthy communities full of influential people who actually used the trains and would be very displeased with a decline in service.

At any rate, I believe UP has also been very accommodating to Caltrain and Metrolink, so long as the capacity existed to mix commuters and freight.

BrennanW Nov 1, 2011 7:47 PM

While your point about the C&NW is true, and UP has made exceptions in the Metra system where it has existing capacity and can operate the trains themselves, UP has been very, very hostile to rail projects, intercity and commuter, across the country where BNSF has generally been very keen on assisting Amtrak where it can.

Denver is building completely separate ROW because UP doesn't want to run freight trains under electric wires - at the same time they study converting at least some portions of the line to overhead electric...

And there is a reason Amtrak almost exclusively follows BNSF where it can in the West.

skyscraperfan23 Nov 1, 2011 10:15 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by pesto (Post 5463898)
Pure shamelessness by HSR. Their only fixation is to spend as fast as possible so that they don't lose federal funding for more useless spending. They don't even try to come up with any other reason for spending.

And their idea of improving the situation? Change their approach and tactics? No! Hire a better PR firm, instead. That's taxpayers' money, you'll recall.

Great quote: "it's not uncommon for major projects to get under way without the full funding in hand". Must be talking about government projects; those wouldn't happen in the private sector. That's why business plans are reviewed by VC's, investors, lenders and the board. Everyone of them has his own money on the line.

Interesting to see what the legislature does.


Thankfully at least in our state of florida, rick scott did the right thing and kill it like a dirty rat.

fflint Nov 2, 2011 12:10 AM

California does not have adequate transportation infrastructure to support ongoing economic and demographic growth. We're going to have to build more infrastructure if we intend to grow our economy and adequately handle population growth.

Are forumers ideologically opposed to $65M electrified train projects also opposed to similarly-priced proposals for long-term freeway and airport expansions? Or is this just another example of the usual conservative double-standard aimed at further enriching the GOP's corporate benefactors' petroleum fortunes?

JDRCRASH Nov 2, 2011 1:47 AM

^ I agree. I am HUGE transit enthusiest and a BIG fan of HSR.

However, the cost has more than doubled. I mean, what, are they planning on making the whole damn thing elevated now??!!... that is a path to failure my friend...

If that is the case (if it's mostly grade-separated), and it does take until 2033 to get built...... then in all serious, guys.... how bout we seriously consider making this a Maglev.... which is already elevated.

Yes, i'm serious. By the time 2033 rolls around, projects like CHSR will be almost outdated, what with China's ambitious 1,000 km/h trains, and the Osaka-Tokyo maglev deep in planning. It's possible it might be more cost-effective to take a step further and plan this as a maglev. As it is, steel-wheel-on-rails appear to be reaching it's limit (look at the link i provided on the previous page or two on why this is the case). But maglev... as studies show, becomes more cost-effective the higher speed it reaches... energy-wise anyway.

Also, a huge chunk of the Interstate HSR Proposal is dead, with Ohio, Florida, and Wisconsin already cancelling theirs (probably more on the way), and we might not have a coast-to-cost HSR line for DECADES.

202_Cyclist Nov 2, 2011 1:47 AM

fflint:
Quote:

Are forumers ideologically opposed to $65M electrified train projects also opposed to similarly-priced proposals for long-term freeway and airport expansions? Or is this just another example of the usual conservative double-standard aimed at further enriching the GOP's corporate benefactors' petroleum fortunes?
To clarify, I still strongly support high speed rail, but given this cost increase and uncertain funding with the Greedy Old Party controlling the House, I think it is best to re-prioritize, if possible and focus on segments that would have the most utility if additional funding doesn't materialize, specifically LA-San Diego, where it would be serving 22M - 23M residents, and Sacramento - San Jose.

You're correct though, the RepuB(P)lican party doesn't think twice about spending ten billion dollars per month on endless Middle East tribal feuds or spending $300B per year on foreign oil.

Beta_Magellan Nov 2, 2011 2:12 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by 202_Cyclist (Post 5464545)
To clarify, I still strongly support high speed rail, but given this cost increase and uncertain funding with the Greedy Old Party controlling the House, I think it is best to re-prioritize, if possible and focus on segments that would have the most utility if additional funding doesn't materialize, specifically LA-San Diego, where it would be serving 22M - 23M residents, and Sacramento - San Jose.

One thing that’s worth noting is that the federal money’s specified for the ICS between Fresno and Bakersfield—there’s likely no way of changing it in-state, and as noted in the midwest thread if it’s returned they probably won’t go back into California (unless if the Obama administration makes a special exception in their case); furthermore if the funds aren’t awarded by September 2012 they’ll simply be canceled.

One encouraging thing is, as Alon Levy notes at Pedestrian Observations, pretty much the entire overrun comes from outside the Central Valley, on the approaches to LA and San José and on the short LA-Anaheim SJ-SF segments, so there’s ample room for value engineering (and even route changes). If CHSRA gathers the funds to get through the Grapevine pass at a reasonable cost and into the LA basin (currently being restudied and less expensive than the Palmdale detour), Fresno-Santa Clarita service could be a successful initial operating segment.

ADDENDUM: I’ve read a bit more coverage since posting this, and evidently 2033 is being given as the earliest date. At this point, the only real options are rethinking everything beyond Fresno and Bakersfield in a hurry or sacking the whole project and starting over in a few years with a competent business plan, both of which would bring about Phase 1 quicker. I am incredibly pissed at California for sh**ing over the future of high-speed passenger rail in this country—you may have had issues with the selection of cities and routing in Florida, but at least the project looked like it would be managed competently (with contractors covering overruns) and low costs per mile. California’s mess is purely their own creation—a supportive government isn’t willing to take a serious look at a poorly-managed project and get it on a path to an economical and timely completion. It’s disgusting that the one true HSR project to survive the Tea Party takeover in 2010 will be done in by its own incompetence.

hammersklavier Nov 2, 2011 1:01 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Beta_Magellan (Post 5464575)
It’s disgusting that the one true HSR project to survive the Tea Party takeover in 2010 will be done in by its own incompetence.

That's exactly what I was thinking...

Passenger rail in America is managed by a gaggle of more-or-less incompetent agencies...The problem is that most agencies are locked in corporate cultures of managed decline, and when it seems like growth is possible, they try to put so much stuff into growth that it just becomes overwrought and fails on its own. This is exactly what happened with SEPTA and the Schuylkill Valley Metro.

Denver and Salt Lake are doing something right. How are they managing expansion? Keeping costs down? Their planners need to be exported, stat, to help other agencies begin to think in terms of managing growth...

But passenger rail will grow in the next decade. It'll have to. Among the long term effects of peak oil will be the fact that driving will decrease and thus demand for passenger rail will increase. (Another effect will be that mainline electrification will become viable for our freight mains...which in turn will likely catalyze changes in the way freight rail is handled...)

202_Cyclist Nov 2, 2011 2:09 PM

hammersklavier:
Quote:

Denver and Salt Lake are doing something right. How are they managing expansion? Keeping costs down? Their planners need to be exported, stat, to help other agencies begin to think in terms of managing growth...
I read a while ago that one of the problems for many transit agencies is that much of the senior-level management works its way up from the operational side of transit rather than having experience and training in management, and you'd want to latter for running a large, complex, organization.

M II A II R II K Nov 2, 2011 4:28 PM

More grim news on $99 billion high-speed rail plan, as showdown looms


Read More: http://www.mercurynews.com/californi...il/ci_19241126

Quote:

Californians suffering from a massive case of "sticker shock" over the new $99 billion price tag for the state's bullet train project got some more unsettling details Tuesday: The high-speed trains will attract fewer riders and less revenue than originally promised. And more than half of the money needed to build the rail line would come from federal funding that currently doesn't exist. Despite the soaring costs and dire projections, Gov. Jerry Brown and some leaders in the Legislature said Tuesday that they still support the ambitious plan. But the new estimates are forcing some Democratic lawmakers to seriously question whether the state can afford to build a bullet train to the future, while Republicans insist it's time to kill the project or send it back to voters.

The bullet train is now expected to cost nearly triple what voters were promised when they approved the plan in 2008 and more than double the 2009 estimate. "Boy, is it a scary number," said state Sen. Joe Simitian, D-Palo Alto, a key Democrat on the fence on the issue. "I think people are understandably going to experience sticker shock -- and that probably understates the case." The California High-Speed Rail Authority's new business plan -- the first in two years -- is the last hard look at the project before lawmakers must decide whether to start construction next year. Lowenthal, D-Long Beach, chairman of the committee that oversees the project, said he still needs state analysts to endorse the new financing plan and rider projections. In addition, he said, his panel must hold hearings over the next several months before making a decision.

.....

pesto Nov 2, 2011 4:31 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by 202_Cyclist (Post 5464545)
fflint:


To clarify, I still strongly support high speed rail, but given this cost increase and uncertain funding with the Greedy Old Party controlling the House, I think it is best to re-prioritize, if possible and focus on segments that would have the most utility if additional funding doesn't materialize, specifically LA-San Diego, where it would be serving 22M - 23M residents, and Sacramento - San Jose.

You're correct though, the RepuB(P)lican party doesn't think twice about spending ten billion dollars per month on endless Middle East tribal feuds or spending $300B per year on foreign oil.

Agree that the LA-SD and SJ-Sacto corridors are the place to put the money. The Peninsula from SJ to SF alread has excellent train service and the locals have zero interest in blasting HSR through their towns.

Beta: Fresno to Santa Clarita would be a successful segment? On what theory? An ag oriented central valley city linked to an outer suburb of LA with no meaningful additional connections? Zero ridership. Bako to LA to Irvine would make sense (plus Riverside to LA and onward to SD through the OC would make sense. Nothing between Bako and SJ makes any sense until Fresno becomes really integrated commercially or socially with either LA or the Bay Area.

Once again: forget about oil; by 2033, most mid-sized family cars will be electric (presumably solar or natural gas generated).

Ragnar Nov 2, 2011 5:37 PM

This was so predictable. Ridiculous costs, lower ridership figures, higher than anticipated travel time, a cost for travelers that will not be competitive with the 160+ flights per day between the LA area and Bay area.

$100 billion would buy a lot of transit (light rail, heavy rail, Rapid Busways, etc.) in the metro areas that desperately need it. That investment would have far higher returns than this HSR boondoggle.

jg6544 Nov 2, 2011 6:07 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Ragnar (Post 5465319)
This was so predictable. Ridiculous costs, lower ridership figures, higher than anticipated travel time, a cost for travelers that will not be competitive with the 160+ flights per day between the LA area and Bay area.

$100 billion would buy a lot of transit (light rail, heavy rail, Rapid Busways, etc.) in the metro areas that desperately need it. That investment would have far higher returns than this HSR boondoggle.


But on the bright side, the people who took the train wouldn't have to submit themselves to being jammed into a flying boxcar for an hour while being insulted by the guards or being submitted to the horrors of the leprosarium that is LAX.

jg6544 Nov 2, 2011 6:13 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by M II A II R II K (Post 5465195)
More grim news on $99 billion high-speed rail plan, as showdown looms


Read More: http://www.mercurynews.com/californi...il/ci_19241126

The High-speed Rail project is kind of caught between a rock and a hard place. probably the cheapest way to build it would be to build it along the I-5 corridor, but that would bypass every single population center between Los Angeles and the Bay Area. The SJV cities would raise holy hell. Of course, they're also raising holy hell about running it through their cities, but never mind.

The other problem it faces is that the railroad (BNSF?) doesn't want anything interfering with its freight timetables (which is what killed intrastate passenger service the first time around).

I'm completely in favor of high-speed rail. I loathe flying and loathe LAX even more, so I will go right on driving whenever I need to go to the northern part of the state. But I have to admit, in these economic times, I don't see HSR happening and if they're not going to complete even a significant portion of it for decades, I don't see much point.

DJM19 Nov 2, 2011 6:49 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Ragnar (Post 5465319)
This was so predictable. Ridiculous costs, lower ridership figures, higher than anticipated travel time, a cost for travelers that will not be competitive with the 160+ flights per day between the LA area and Bay area.

$100 billion would buy a lot of transit (light rail, heavy rail, Rapid Busways, etc.) in the metro areas that desperately need it. That investment would have far higher returns than this HSR boondoggle.

How is downtown to downtown, cheaper than air travel not a competitive price?

Also, its easy to say that 100 billion could buy a lot of things, but thats never going to happen. This 9 billion from the state only exists for high speed rail. This 3 billion from the federal government only exists for high speed rail.

Also, the NO build alternative to high speed rail is 170 billion dollars. Take your pick.

Ragnar Nov 2, 2011 6:51 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by jg6544 (Post 5465384)
But on the bright side, the people who took the train wouldn't have to submit themselves to being jammed into a flying boxcar for an hour while being insulted by the guards or being submitted to the horrors of the leprosarium that is LAX.

That's why you fly out of Burbank (or Orange County, Long Beach, or Ontario).

It's so freaking easy.

Beta_Magellan Nov 2, 2011 6:52 PM

@Pesto—by “Santa Clarita” I meant dedicated track ending at Santa Clarita, with the trains running along electrified Metrolink (with time-separation for freight and PTC) to LAUS.

Quote:

Originally Posted by jg6544 (Post 5465393)
The High-speed Rail project is kind of caught between a rock and a hard place. probably the cheapest way to build it would be to build it along the I-5 corridor, but that would bypass every single population center between Los Angeles and the Bay Area.

The Central Valley portion is actually not the main source of overruns—it’s almost all from the approaches to San Francisco and Los Angeles. They’re re-studying at a less expensive alignment for LA (via the Grapevine pass rather than Palmdale, as is currently planned), but the official plans for Fresno-SJ-SF remains a complete mess.

mfastx Nov 2, 2011 8:58 PM

I have found many people that are against high speed rail to just be plain uninformed. Yes it will be expensive to build the line. But it was expensive to build any infrustructure from scratch. If there is a good high speed rail line between two close cities it will be more utilized than air or road travel between those cities, and it shows all around the world. It is the fastest (when you take into account how you have to arrive at the airport an hour and thirty minutes early), most convenient, safest way to travel. HSR is a more superior form of transportation than a highway or air travel. People in Europe and Asia know this, there is a reason why most other countries are investing in HSR. Or are they all just stupid?

It bothers me to think that most Americans do not know the benifits of good infrastructure, our infrastructure spending nation wide is pathetic.

Oh well.

Reminiscence Nov 2, 2011 10:34 PM

I think this plan is just waiting to fall apart. I would have loved the idea of HSR, but there's just too many things going against it. This "sticker shock" is just another obstacle which I fear it cannot overcome. Some people mentioned Maglev in previous posts. It's already ridiculously expensive anyways, so it would be interesting to study and see how that would fare off. It's not really proven technology yet, but I would imagine by the time it is finished it would be.

ardecila Nov 2, 2011 11:45 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by hammersklavier (Post 5464939)
Passenger rail in America is managed by a gaggle of more-or-less incompetent agencies...The problem is that most agencies are locked in corporate cultures of managed decline, and when it seems like growth is possible, they try to put so much stuff into growth that it just becomes overwrought and fails on its own. This is exactly what happened with SEPTA and the Schuylkill Valley Metro.

Denver and Salt Lake are doing something right. How are they managing expansion? Keeping costs down? Their planners need to be exported, stat, to help other agencies begin to think in terms of managing growth...

You just answered your own question. Passenger agencies in the East, for the most part, have had a continuous legacy of railroading from the prewar days, and became very very set in their ways as railroads came under siege in the postwar period - so much so that they refuse to change their operating practices by one iota unless they are forced at gunpoint.

Western agencies are entirely new blood - lots of younger people, and very little connection to the legacy practices of the East. That makes them a lot more flexible, modern, and efficient.

At first I assumed, like HSR detractors, that land-use patterns and some mystical aspect of American culture were to blame for the general failure of rail in the US. Now that I've spent extensive time in Europe, I see that land-use patterns and culture are not so dramatically different. So what does that leave us? Closed-mindedness of management in the US, which makes Amtrak inefficient and only contributes to the right-wing calls for its death. If you look at the history of Amtrak, it's littered with examples of new ideas and technology that were brought from overseas and pretty much hit a brick wall.

Hammer, I know you're well-acquainted, but for others I think Alon Levy's blog is invaluable for pointing out examples of the counter-productive operating practices at US passenger railroads.

DJM19 Nov 2, 2011 11:47 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Reminiscence (Post 5465842)
I think this plan is just waiting to fall apart. I would have loved the idea of HSR, but there's just too many things going against it. This "sticker shock" is just another obstacle which I fear it cannot overcome. Some people mentioned Maglev in previous posts. It's already ridiculously expensive anyways, so it would be interesting to study and see how that would fare off. It's not really proven technology yet, but I would imagine by the time it is finished it would be.

What about the alternative though? 170 billion in expanding existing infrastructure. THAT is sticker shock.

Ragnar Nov 3, 2011 12:26 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by mfastx (Post 5465691)
I have found many people that are against high speed rail to just be plain uninformed. Yes it will be expensive to build the line. But it was expensive to build any infrustructure from scratch. If there is a good high speed rail line between two close cities it will be more utilized than air or road travel between those cities, and it shows all around the world. It is the fastest (when you take into account how you have to arrive at the airport an hour and thirty minutes early), most convenient, safest way to travel. HSR is a more superior form of transportation than a highway or air travel. People in Europe and Asia know this, there is a reason why most other countries are investing in HSR. Or are they all just stupid?

It bothers me to think that most Americans do not know the benifits of good infrastructure, our infrastructure spending nation wide is pathetic.

Oh well.

"Pathetic" is using strawmen arguments to support a (very expensive) solution in search of a problem.

Southern California and the Bay Area benefit from having numerous airports which to choose from, most not needing "an hour and a half" buffer between arriving at the airport and the departure time.

And for those on the Westside of Los Angeles, where LAX would be the most convenient? Are you telling them they now have to endure the traffic all the way to downtown to "hop on" the train?

I've been on the RENFE between Barcelona and Madrid, and it is VERY nice. And, given where Madrid's airport is, the total travel time city center to city center certainly is competitive, if not surpasses, the plane.

I am not "anti-rail". But $100 billion can much better be used to support mass transit and other FAR more beneficial projects.

And it's sad that those who want to play with a shiny new (expensive) toy don't understand that.

Oh well.

Reminiscence Nov 3, 2011 3:56 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by DJM19 (Post 5465947)
What about the alternative though? 170 billion in expanding existing infrastructure. THAT is sticker shock.

Oh I agree with you, which is why I've supported HSR for years and still do. I just don't buy the fact that this could cost 100 billion, it's another Eastern Span of the Bay Bridge in the making. They essentially doubled the past figure. People don't think about the 170 billion because they don't see it, it's a sort of "hidden" figure we'll pay over time. I still have hope though, that they'll salvage this opportunity. I'll be turning 25 next year, and as weird as it is to say it, I really hope I see either HSR or Maglev in my lifetime :)

JDRCRASH Nov 3, 2011 4:01 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by mfastx (Post 5465691)
Or are they all just stupid?

While i'd love to say yes, we have to remember that the problem isn't the people, it's the politicians. I mean a majority of people support investing in infrastructure. I don't know the numbers on High-Speed Rail, but I have to imagine it's about even. Maybe a little less.

Quote:

Originally Posted by jg6544 (Post 5465393)
But I have to admit, in these economic times, I don't see HSR happening and if they're not going to complete even a significant portion of it for decades, I don't see much point.

That's my point on why we might want to think about taking the next step and go for maglev, which by 2033 will probably be A LOT more popular and "proven" than today.


Quote:

Originally Posted by Beta_Magellan (Post 5465451)
The Central Valley portion is actually not the main source of overruns—it’s almost all from the approaches to San Francisco and Los Angeles. They’re re-studying at a less expensive alignment for LA (via the Grapevine pass rather than Palmdale, as is currently planned), but the official plans for Fresno-SJ-SF remains a complete mess.

Precisely. That's the downside of going through the more urban areas first. A higher concentration of people brings a higher concentration of NIMBYs (some very powerful and influential).

And we have to remember, Fresno and Bakersfield, while much smaller than Los Angeles, both have populations not to sneeze at. Actually they're larger than some east coast cities. And who knows, they might both have Commuter Rail systems up and running by the time After all, they have plenty of ROWs. And when that happens, ridership on a HSR will be even higher.

North_Regina_Boy Nov 3, 2011 6:13 AM

You know a lot of the people who reject this kind of transportation forget one BIG thing. In the 1940s the US Interstate system (and before that, the US Highway system) was created. MOST of the people currently using this system didn't drive or maybe even exist in that era. So as to say the people of the 1940s and 1950s might of been protesting because they wouldn't be able to benefit as we are now.

Infrastructure spending must be spent with the idea that 50 years is a relatively short time period (I know its hard to comprehend) but that is the reality.

Another quick point... Part of getting out of a recession is to spend capital dollars to get people working; And another thing WE as a people are lazy... Back in the 1940s and 50s people jumped over each other to get a job on the interstate system. Nowadays we seem to just complain about everything and blame others instead of trying to make our situation better.

That is today's reality and that is my two cents. I for one would LOVE to see CHSR and the Las Vegas link... Stupid Florida killed theirs, but at least the North-East corridor is getting 2.4B in capital funds to make that neck of the woods better.

jg6544 Nov 3, 2011 1:46 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Ragnar (Post 5465447)
It's so freaking easy.

Not if you live in Brentwood it isn't. Burbank is an hour away in good traffic. Ontario is two hours away and there's never good traffic.

Ragnar Nov 3, 2011 3:19 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by jg6544 (Post 5466546)
Not if you live in Brentwood it isn't. Burbank is an hour away in good traffic. Ontario is two hours away and there's never good traffic.

Burbank is 25-30 minutes away from Brentwood in "good traffic".

And if you're in Brentwood, you're probably going to LAX.

And if you're in Brentwood, downtown (where the train would be) is even more terrible to get to.

But that's besides the point. Far more people live near closer to one of the five LA-area major airports than downtown Union Station.

202_Cyclist Nov 3, 2011 3:42 PM

Yonah Freemark has a good post about this today on his blog: http://www.thetransportpolitic.com/2...be-understood/ . Admittedly, there is sticker-shock with the $98B price and there are big questions about the viability with this, given California's budget situation and the Ayn Rand-disciples controlling Congress now.

With that said, however, there needs to be some perspective. As Yonah Freemark notes today, California's cumulative GDP by 2033 is expected to be at least $42 trillion (this is at constant annual GDP and assumes no economic growth). The $74B cost (without inflation) to bulid the high speed rail is a proverbial 'fart in a gale' out of a $42 trillion economy.

Second, Freemark compares the $74B cost with the $13B per year for Caltrans, which over 22 years is $286B. We all know the cost of not building high speed rail is not zero. The CA High Speed Rail Authority estimates the cost for alternative infrastructure to accomodate the state's growth is $170B. I have no idea if this is accurate but widening I-5 alone in San Diego County is estimated to cost between $3.3B and $4.5B (http://www.signonsandiego.com/news/2...ase-daily-i-5/. The LAX modernization will also cost between $5B - $7B.

I-5 in California was built in 1950s-60s, is still used today, of course, more than fifty years later. Assuming high speed rail is completed in 2033 and has a fifty year lifespan, that is 2080. In 1960, the US had a population of 180M and CA had a population of just under 16M. Today CA has close to 39M people. I don't pretend to be a demographer but California will likely have tens of millions more residents seven decades from now. Similarly, building patterns will be different seven decades from now.

pesto Nov 3, 2011 5:10 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by jg6544 (Post 5466546)
Not if you live in Brentwood it isn't. Burbank is an hour away in good traffic. Ontario is two hours away and there's never good traffic.

You may have to get a faster bicycle. Brentwood ot HBO in half an hour is a breeze at non-rush hours. Even at rush hours it's much faster than getting to downtown to catch HSR, although neither one is a pretty sight.

And if you print your own boarding pass and don't have luggage, it is pretty much 5 minutes from cab to seated on board.

pesto Nov 3, 2011 5:28 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by mfastx (Post 5465691)
I have found many people that are against high speed rail to just be plain uninformed. Yes it will be expensive to build the line. But it was expensive to build any infrustructure from scratch. If there is a good high speed rail line between two close cities it will be more utilized than air or road travel between those cities, and it shows all around the world. It is the fastest (when you take into account how you have to arrive at the airport an hour and thirty minutes early), most convenient, safest way to travel. HSR is a more superior form of transportation than a highway or air travel. People in Europe and Asia know this, there is a reason why most other countries are investing in HSR. Or are they all just stupid?

It bothers me to think that most Americans do not know the benifits of good infrastructure, our infrastructure spending nation wide is pathetic.

Oh well.

For sure, you can't use a single answer to explain every situation. But if you want to narrow it to a few factors, here are some suggestions:

In Asia, the issue is poverty. Where huge numbers can't afford cars, trains can be built and run very cheaply without increasing the likelihood of disastrous crashes. Fares are kept low. And "time" is literaly worth less in countries where the average user makes $5 a day than in a developed economy (this is not a moral agument about the "worth of people", it's just an economic fact that a person earning $100/hr. and up is going to value saving time over saving costs). As Asian countries develop, I would expect their usage of air to increase as well as time becomes of greater value.

In Europe the issue is shorter distances (and in some countries, the lack of car ownership and disposble income). HSR makes a great deal of sense when large urban areas are relatively dense and near each other (say 100-200 miles). In California, SF and LA are about 400 rail miles away and SD almost 600 (looping through the IE). If Fresno and/or Stockton and/or Bakersfield were large cities with signiciant commercial connections to LA or the Bay Area, HSR would be a no-brainer. But this just isn't the case yet.

Wait 20 years to see how the CV is developing and in the meantime build in the LA and Bay areas.

pesto Nov 3, 2011 5:34 PM

As long as I'm boring everyone, one more comment.

The economic argument for HSR is very weak. To me there is very little economic benefit from connecting LA and the Bay Area. Business can already use air at a very reasonable price and, of course, freight movement is not directly affected.

Conversely, transit improvements within the LA and Bay Areas would be a very significant boon to business: gettting people to work rapidly and cheaply is a plus for any business, from retail to government to tech. Less crowding on freeways helps trucking and local drayage.

202_Cyclist Nov 3, 2011 5:37 PM

pesto:
Quote:

In Europe the issue is shorter distances (and in some countries, the lack of car ownership and disposble income). HSR makes a great deal of sense when large urban areas are relatively dense and near each other (say 100-200 miles). In California, SF and LA are about 400 rail miles away and SD almost 600 (looping through the IE). If Fresno and/or Stockton and/or Bakersfield were large cities with signiciant commercial connections to LA or the Bay Area, HSR would be a no-brainer. But this just isn't the case yet.
Sacramento, with 2M people, is about 80-100 miles from the Bay Area. San Diego County, with 3.5M people is 100-120 miles from Los Angeles. These are medium distance trips with sufficient population (and indeed a record of proven ridership on passenger rail for high speed rail to be successful. It won't happen, but as you've advocated perhaps these two segments should have been upgraded first. I think roughly there is another 3-4M people living in the Central Valley, including 1M people in the Fresno region.

Ragnar Nov 3, 2011 6:28 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by pesto (Post 5466860)
As long as I'm boring everyone, one more comment.

The economic argument for HSR is very weak. To me there is very little economic benefit from connecting LA and the Bay Area. Business can already use air at a very reasonable price and, of course, freight movement is not directly affected.

Conversely, transit improvements within the LA and Bay Areas would be a very significant boon to business: gettting people to work rapidly and cheaply is a plus for any business, from retail to government to tech. Less crowding on freeways helps trucking and local drayage.

I know my comment will add nothing, but I agree with you 100%.

Beta_Magellan Nov 3, 2011 6:35 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by JDRCRASH (Post 5466282)
Precisely. That's the downside of going through the more urban areas first. A higher concentration of people brings a higher concentration of NIMBYs (some very powerful and influential).

But that’s no excuse for the overruns in the approach to the LA Basin and especially not in the Bay Area—particularly in the latter, most of the overbuilding comes from agency turf wars, Parsons writing itself checks, and general incompetence. There’s no need for HSR in San José to look like this:

Video Link


In the past week, my opinion of CAHSR has essentially gone from “worthwhile (even if flawed)” to “long con.”

jg6544 Nov 3, 2011 6:35 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Ragnar (Post 5466670)
Burbank is 25-30 minutes away from Brentwood in "good traffic".

And if you're in Brentwood, you're probably going to LAX.

And if you're in Brentwood, downtown (where the train would be) is even more terrible to get to.

But that's besides the point. Far more people live near closer to one of the five LA-area major airports than downtown Union Station.

Like hell it is. I've driven it - once; never again.

Yeah, I'm stuck with the leprosarium that is LAX.

Getting downtown takes about the same amount of time as getting to Burbank, but if you go downtown, you don't have to put up with security Nazis, airline personnel intent on making your trip just as miserable and expensive as they possibly can, and damned airplanes.

And far more people are more than welcome to the airports and flying. If there were a train, I'd take it, but there isn't, so I drive.

jg6544 Nov 3, 2011 6:36 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by pesto (Post 5466827)
You may have to get a faster bicycle.

I prefer my Lexus and if the freeways weren't parking lots at all hours of the day and night, maybe it wouldn't take as long as it does to drive to Burbank.

jg6544 Nov 3, 2011 6:40 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by pesto (Post 5466827)

And if you print your own boarding pass and don't have luggage, it is pretty much 5 minutes from cab to seated on board.

The last time I made the mistake of flying to SFO, it took me 45 minutes with pre-printed ticket and only a laptop bag, from parking structure to gate; then the flight was delayed for over an hour. When the damned plane finally got to SFO, it took me another 45 minutes to get downtown. Decent high-speed rail would take less time, including drive time to Union Station, and be vastly more pleasant.

I lived in DC for over 20 years. During that time, I took the Shuttle between DC and NY maybe a dozen times and always wished I'd gone by train when I did.

Oh yes, I had to get to LAX an hour before published departure time. Flying sucks.

hammersklavier Nov 3, 2011 6:56 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Beta_Magellan (Post 5466954)
But that’s no excuse for the overruns in the approach to the LA Basin and especially not in the Bay Area—particularly in the latter, most of the overbuilding comes from agency turf wars, Parsons writing itself checks, and general incompetence. There’s no need for HSR in San José to look like this:

Video Link


In the past week, my opinion of CAHSR has essentially gone from “worthwhile (even if flawed)” to “long con.”

Yep. That whole video can be characterized as "excessive concrete"...and even where aerial structures are necessary, nobody seems to have a clue about how to maximize their potential. Like in Palo Alto: why not put shops under the damn viaduct!?!

First, fix organization, and then fix electronics, and finally use concrete. Even though grade crossings do need to be eliminated, you do not need to totally segragate the HSR from everything else at the station facilities. Make cross-platform transfer easy. All the excess concrete driving up CAHSR's costs comes from using concrete to not have to deal with the logistics of integrating organizations...Integrating organizations is something we don't want to do in the U.S.

If we had proper organizational interface instead of building excessive infrastructure, we could easily trim the total budget for HSR down by about 25% to 33% IMO.

zilfondel Nov 3, 2011 7:40 PM

deleted post

Ragnar Nov 3, 2011 7:48 PM

Yes let's spend $100 billion to save the people of Brentwood 15 minutes of travel time, if that.

I'm sure there is NOTHING that money could be spent on in a more useful and productive manner.

hammersklavier Nov 3, 2011 8:07 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by zilfondel (Post 5467069)
Wait, you are advocating people to walk across train tracks between platforms?

That is a terrible idea. If you have an express train on another track traveling in excess of 100 mph, you are advocating to have people walking across those tracks in front of a train.

FAIL.

Safety is worth the money

What the f... are you talking about? :koko:

Seriously, this post makes no sense.

This is an example of a cross-platform transfer: I am riding the express subway but it doesn't stop at my stop. So at the last express stop before my stop, I get off the express subway. I wait for a couple of minutes for the local train my train passed two local stops down to get there and board the local train. I got off one train, waited for a short spell on the platform, and got on another. That's a cross-platform transfer.* They happen all the time in e.g. New York.

What did you think it was?
_____________
* In an ideal world, the trains would be timed to meet at the platform. In Europe and Japan, they often do.

mfastx Nov 3, 2011 9:38 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Ragnar (Post 5466005)
Southern California and the Bay Area benefit from having numerous airports which to choose from, most not needing "an hour and a half" buffer between arriving at the airport and the departure time.

And how much do you think it will cost to build and maintain all those airports? That ain't cheap either. The reason we have spent (and will spend even more) money on all of these airports is due to the fact that we have not invested in rail transit at all, in comparison to auto and air transit.
Quote:

Originally Posted by Ragnar (Post 5466005)
And for those on the Westside of Los Angeles, where LAX would be the most convenient? Are you telling them they now have to endure the traffic all the way to downtown to "hop on" the train?

Endure the traffic? How about a 20 minute light rail ride?
Quote:

Originally Posted by Ragnar (Post 5466005)
I am not "anti-rail". But $100 billion can much better be used to support mass transit and other FAR more beneficial projects.

If the rail line isn't built, almost double that WILL be spent on other infrastructure projects. $100 billion is nothing in the grand scheme of things. Transportation is less than 5% of the federal budget. We can afford better transit. It's the other stuff that we can't afford.
Quote:

Originally Posted by Ragnar (Post 5466005)
And it's sad that those who want to play with a shiny new (expensive) toy don't understand that.

Oh well.

I don't understand the fad that anti-rail arguments have of calling trains "toys" in a condescending way. Aren't cars also "toys?" They are certainly more "toy" like than trains, considering that they get smashed like a little toy when they are hit by a train. Weird.

DJM19 Nov 3, 2011 10:00 PM

Required reading:

High Costs Threaten California’s High-Speed Rail Project, But the Wider Context Must be Understood

http://www.thetransportpolitic.com/w...1/11/CAHSR.jpg

Basically, Caltrans will spend a LOT more on roads in the same time span, and even a lot more beyond that if we don't build HSR.

Ragnar Nov 3, 2011 10:02 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by mfastx (Post 5467240)
And how much do you think it will cost to build and maintain all those airports? That ain't cheap either. The reason we have spent (and will spend even more) money on all of these airports is due to the fact that we have not invested in rail transit at all, in comparison to auto and air transit.

Endure the traffic? How about a 20 minute light rail ride?

If the rail line isn't built, almost double that WILL be spent on other infrastructure projects. $100 billion is nothing in the grand scheme of things. Transportation is less than 5% of the federal budget. We can afford better transit. It's the other stuff that we can't afford.

I don't understand the fad that anti-rail arguments have of calling trains "toys" in a condescending way. Aren't cars also "toys?" They are certainly more "toy" like than trains, considering that they get smashed like a little toy when they are hit by a train. Weird.

Most airports are self-funded through user taxes and tenant/landing fees. The $1.545 billion Bradley terminal expansion currently underway is being paid for by "LAX operating revenues, capital improvement program funds, fees
from airlines, passenger facilities charges and airport revenue bond
proceeds. No monies from the L.A. City general fund will be used."

http://www.lawa.org/uploadedFiles/LA...%202011%20.pdf

The current Orange County Airport Terminal C project is being paid for likewise with airport revenue, passenger use charges, and bonds.

I do agree with the bolded statement above. Too much money is wasted on "other stuff", when there should be FAR more investment in infrastructure. Unfortunately, the political will is not in place to make it happen, and until that day arrives, it seems like the $100 billion could far be better used on other projects.

And btw I don't think it will take "20 minutes" to get from the Westside to downtown on light rail. I've seen the current estimates at 45 minutes to get from Santa Monica to downtown on Expo, and 30 minutes to get from Culver City to Downtown. And of course that doesn't include catching the red line to Union Station until the downtown connector is built.

http://backup.buildexpo.org/

Since "travel time" seems to be a big argument that HSR proponents put out there, I really wish people would be more accurate in their travel time estimates.

ardecila Nov 3, 2011 10:02 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by hammersklavier (Post 5467104)
What the f... are you talking about? :koko:

Seriously, this post makes no sense.

This is an example of a cross-platform transfer: I am riding the express subway but it doesn't stop at my stop. So at the last express stop before my stop, I get off the express subway. I wait for a couple of minutes for the local train my train passed two local stops down to get there and board the local train. I got off one train, waited for a short spell on the platform, and got on another. That's a cross-platform transfer.* They happen all the time in e.g. New York.

What did you think it was?
_____________
* In an ideal world, the trains would be timed to meet at the platform. In Europe and Japan, they often do.

To put it more simply, a cross-platform transfer is getting off the train on one side of the platform and getting on the train sitting on the other side.

I did this recently in Germany, where I hopped off a TGV in Saarbrücken and awaited the regional train on the same platform, but the opposite track.

Usually cross-platform transfers are used to link two different kinds of service. That way you can easily switch from a limited-stop HSR train to a commuter-like regional train, because a lot of people on the HSR aren't necessarily going to the biggest cities. Placing both trains at the same platform reduces confusion and makes the prospect of a transfer seem easier and more pleasant.

Ragnar Nov 3, 2011 10:07 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by DJM19 (Post 5467283)
Required reading:

High Costs Threaten California’s High-Speed Rail Project, But the Wider Context Must be Understood

http://www.thetransportpolitic.com/w...1/11/CAHSR.jpg

Basically, Caltrans will spend a LOT more on roads in the same time span, and even a lot more beyond that if we don't build HSR.

Very interesting, especially the last paragraph:

"At a certain point, the question is therefore whether there are other programs that would provide better societal benefit than the high-speed rail system, and this is a valid conversation worth exploring. From my perspective, moving the money into roads infrastructure would be simpleminded considering the need to expand mobility options and decrease levels of pollution. It could also be possible to use the funds for local transit expansion, which has plenty of unmet capital needs, especially in California’s largest cities. But who in the state is proposing a comprehensive effort to upgrade rail and bus networks? And how would that spending address the needs of intercity travel?"


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