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dimondpark Jan 18, 2012 5:17 AM

Irritating. I really want this thing to back to the drawing board and done over again.

Quote:

Doubts cast on cost estimates for high-speed rail alternatives
Bullet train promoters predict it will cost $171 billion to build new airports and roads if the trains aren't completed. But experts say that figure is greatly exaggerated.

By Ralph Vartabedian and Dan Weikel, Los Angeles Times

January 17, 2012

As the price tag for California's bullet train has soared to nearly $100 billion, a central argument for forging ahead with the controversial project is an even loftier figure: the $171 billion that promoters recently estimated will be needed for new roads and airports if no high-speed rail is built.

Without a fast-rail network, they warn, the state would have to add 2,300 miles of highway and roughly the equivalent of another Los Angeles International Airport to handle a projected surge in future travel.

Now, that alternative is coming under attack by a state-appointed panel of experts, who will soon release an assessment of the rail project's business plan and cast doubt on the accuracy and validity of the $171-billion figure, The Times has learned.

Already, transportation researchers, government officials and watchdog groups are saying the $171-billion claim is based on such exaggerated estimates, misleading statements and erroneous assumptions that it is "divorced from any reality."

"There is some dishonesty in the methodology," said Samer Madanat, director of UC Berkeley's Institute of Transportation Studies, the top research center of its type in the nation. "I don't trust an estimate like this."


Until November, California High-Speed Rail Authority officials were asserting that the alternative cost of highway and airport construction would be $100 billion. Earlier predictions were billions lower. When the estimate for the bullet train project recently hit $98.5 billion, the authority ratcheted the highway and airport cost up to $171 billion.

The price of alternatives is a central part of the authority's rationale for building the high-speed rail network, along with jobs and possible environmental benefits. The bullet train is aimed at meeting future transportation needs of the state, which cannot be economically met with highways and airports, the authority says.

"If anything, we underestimated the costs of alternatives to high-speed rail," said Dan Richard, an authority board member who is in line to become the group's chairman. "Expanding freeways and then maintaining them is not a free alternative."

Outside transportation experts say, however, that rail consultant Parsons Brinkerhoff's methodology is so flawed the entire claim should be disregarded.

"The rail authority's analysis does not account for the roadway and airport work investment that will be required both with and without high speed rail," the Orange County Transportation Authority told the rail agency in a letter late last year. In November, the nonpartisan Legislative Analyst's Office questioned the study as well, saying the $171-billion estimate is not what the state would otherwise spend to address intercity transportation demand.

The city of Burlingame, which is near San Francisco International Airport, weighed in too. "The astounding figure is completely divorced from any reality over the next 50 years," city officials wrote urging the authority to stop using the number.

Madanat said the rail authority has rebuffed offers to have UC Berkeley, UC Irvine and UC Davis, which have among the top five university transportation departments in the nation, help analyze the bullet-train system.

Instead, the rail authority has relied heavily on New York-based Parsons Brinkerhoff, a contractor that helped fund the political campaign for the $9.9-billion bond measure passed by voters in 2008. Although the rail authority has more than two dozen employees, Parsons controls 108 people working on the project.

"You have a tremendous conflict of interest," said Elizabeth Goldstein Alexis, co-founder of the watchdog group Californians Advocating Responsible Rail Design. "You can't see where the authority ends and the private consultants begin because they are so intertwined. It is extraordinary the institutional conflicts of interest that exist all over this project."..


ralph.vartabedian@latimes.com

dan.weikel@latimes.com

http://www.latimes.com/news/local/la...,4293248.story


jg6544 Jan 18, 2012 5:38 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Ragnar (Post 5553740)
L.A. Times:

Doubts Cast On Cost Estimates For High-Speed Rail Alternatives
http://www.latimes.com/news/local/la...,4293248.story

Not surprising that it appears the cost estimates for building HSR alternatives have been severely exagerrated by HSR proponents.

This story read like a put-up job. The article blithely talks about building more airports or enlarging LAX without mentioning that attempts to build another international airport in Palmdale or wherever have been rejected overwhelmingly. They also don't mention that Burbank and Long Beach have refused to enlarge their airports. As for increasing LAX's capacity, where? And how are they going to get passengers to the airport or park their cars once they get there?

DJM19 Jan 18, 2012 7:28 AM

Another note about LAX is that the airport is very careful not to call their construction an expansion. The neighborhood would throw a fit. Airport expansion is very unpopular in california. We tend to forget this when discussing HSR, as if HSR is the first project to hit a wall of shit from a town.

Ragnar Jan 18, 2012 4:03 PM

So why not allow the UC schools to evaluate this issue? Why should we trust the unvalidated figures from the lead construction contractor?

And a side note: LAX could handle many millions of additional annual travelers without a single additional penny spent for construction.

dimondpark Jan 18, 2012 4:50 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Ragnar (Post 5554438)
So why not allow the UC schools to evaluate this issue? Why should we trust the unvalidated figures from the lead construction contractor?

This is a new wrinkle in this ongoing saga which is just now coming to light that really, really irks me.

Enough for me to call my state legislative representatives in the assembly and senate today and give them(or whomever answers their phone) an earful.

UC experts are used around the world for these types of projects specifically because of their expertise on the subject, but they were not here in California? Give me a break.:rolleyes:

The arrogance of the CA High Speed Rail Authority is just astounding.


Quote:

And a side note: LAX could handle many millions of additional annual travelers without a single additional penny spent for construction.
Well, expansion will undoubtedly be needed to keep up with the times, but we dont need to be lied to about the amount it will cost to keep the state's transportation infrastructure viable.

The CAHSR authority relied solely on the dire predictions made by a transportation contractor, probably because those dire predictions presented the most serious scenario possible-and now actual experts are calling that contractor's predictions for the BS that it probably is.

jg6544 Jan 18, 2012 7:39 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Ragnar (Post 5554438)

And a side note: LAX could handle many millions of additional annual travelers without a single additional penny spent for construction.

Oh really? Getting to or from LAX is difficult at best and nightmarish if traffic backs up, which it usually does; parking is getting more and more difficult to find and more and more expensive (unless you want to park at a remote lot, adding an hour onto each departure or arrival). The neighborhood erupts every time anyone even whispers about enlarging the airport. And nobody else in CA wants a damned airport in their back yard either. I don't know what planet you live on, but if you live anywhere near California, you must stay under a rock.

pesto Jan 18, 2012 7:58 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by 202_Cyclist (Post 5550844)
Spain's high-speed rail system offers lessons for California

By Tim Sheehan
Sacramento Bee
Sunday, Jan. 15, 2012

"MADRID – It's 8 a.m. at the Puerto de Atocha train station in central Madrid. Business travelers armed with cellphones and laptops, and pleasure travelers toting cameras and carry-on bags, make their way through security to board the high-speed trains that connect Spain's capital to cities across the nation.

The sprawling station, which dates to the 1890s, serves not only the AVE, or Alta Velocidad Española (Spanish high-speed) trains, but also the city's metro subway and commuter trains. It sits amid a bustling district of offices, museums, hotels and other businesses.

This is the vision shared by backers of California's proposed, but controversial, high-speed rail system – and there are lessons that California can learn from Spain's 20-year history with high-speed trains.."

http://www.sacbee.com/2012/01/15/418...te-offers.html

http://media.sacbee.com/smedia/2012/...4QoeP.Xl.4.gif
Image courtesy of the Sacramento Bee.

This has been torn apart so many times it seems hardly worth going over. Spain is a marginally 3rd world country, with about 2/3 the per capita income of Ca (before the full economic implosion; lower now). Car ownership is very low; gasoline is extremely expensive; road systems are bad (compared to California); the tax burden is very high. This results in low expendable income and makes driving unaffordable.

Madrid and Barcelona are dense cities, with people close to central rail stations. LA and the Bay are 100 mile expanses of cities and suburbs, with low density; central train stations are not convenient or accessible from most areas. But airports are (6 in SoCal; 4 in NorCal).

pesto Jan 18, 2012 8:07 PM

"Brown is under pressure from unions, engineering firms, big-city mayors and the Obama administration to stabilize and press ahead on a nearly $100-billion project..."

That's it for supporters of HSR; just them and the SF real estate developers. A collection of self-interested fat cats and their hired hands. But, hey, pigeons are for plucking, right?

I mean seriously, friggin' Berkeley is calling HSR supporters liars and frauds (in political speak).

mfastx Jan 18, 2012 8:37 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by pesto (Post 5554806)
Car ownership is very low; gasoline is extremely expensive; road systems are bad (compared to California); the tax burden is very high. This results in low expendable income and makes driving unaffordable.

If driving is unaffordable, how did over 40% of people make the drive before HSR? And if they can't afford to drive, then how would 40% of folks be able to fly? Isn't flying more expensive?

Quote:

Originally Posted by pesto (Post 5554806)
Madrid and Barcelona are dense cities, with people close to central rail stations. LA and the Bay are 100 mile expanses of cities and suburbs, with low density; central train stations are not convenient or accessible from most areas. But airports are (6 in SoCal; 4 in NorCal).

Madrid and Barcelona have suburbs too. San Francisco is an incredibly dense city. This just isn't true, if downtown Los Angeles isn't accessible from most locations, how do people get to work every day? Your response is just an opinion, the chart above are factual statistics.

DJM19 Jan 18, 2012 9:51 PM

But there are going to be about 6 rail lines (red, purple, expo, both gold lines, blue) that lead directly to union station from all directions. That's just whats currently going to be built this decade. And HSR will also stop in Sylmar and Burbank (and in Anaheim and Irvine if we are talking about our hundred mile suburb).

202_Cyclist Jan 18, 2012 10:57 PM

DJM19:
Quote:

But there are going to be about 6 rail lines (red, purple, expo, both gold lines, blue) that lead directly to union station from all directions. That's just whats currently going to be built this decade. And HSR will also stop in Sylmar and Burbank (and in Anaheim and Irvine if we are talking about our hundred mile suburb).
Don't forget the nation's largest bus system and Metrolink commuter rail as well.

Ragnar Jan 19, 2012 12:39 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by jg6544 (Post 5554777)
Oh really? Getting to or from LAX is difficult at best and nightmarish if traffic backs up, which it usually does; parking is getting more and more difficult to find and more and more expensive (unless you want to park at a remote lot, adding an hour onto each departure or arrival). The neighborhood erupts every time anyone even whispers about enlarging the airport. And nobody else in CA wants a damned airport in their back yard either. I don't know what planet you live on, but if you live anywhere near California, you must stay under a rock.

Actually, I am very well versed in the airport.

Take a look at the actual FACTS:
http://www.lawa.org/welcome_LAX.aspx?id=800

In 2000, LAX handled 67.3M passengers.
In 2010, LAX handled 59M passengers.

My statement is based in fact -- LAX could handle millions of additional passengers TODAY without moving a single piece of dirt. Fortunately LAX is undergoing modernization that will provide new terminals, redone terminals, and (probably) a link to public transportation via the Crenshaw Line.

In addition, Ontario is so underutilized they are talking about completely closing one of the two terminals to save money.

And again, why not utilize the UC system to validate the numbers? Why does it seem like they are trying to hide something? After all, it would be great if an INDEPENDENT 3rd party could validate the costs of the alternatives to HSR, rather than relying on the figures of the lead construction contractor.

No, I'm not living under a rock. It's the HSR supporters who attack anyone that dares question the costs or benefits of this project that could use some eye-opening.

Newsflash: We aren't Spain with an unlimited European checkbook to fund this thing. In case you haven't noticed, unbridled spending on massive projects has pushed many of those European countries to the brink of default.

jg6544 Jan 19, 2012 2:20 AM

And how are we going to get these millions of additional passengers TO LAX and where are we going to put their cars when they get there. FYI, I live in Brentwood, just a few miles north of LAX (half-an-hour drive if there is any traffic at all) and I've actually timed it out. Figuring in drive time to LAX, parking the car, getting past the security Nazis, waiting for the inevitable flight delays, and getting into San Francisco from SFO after the plane has landed, it is only about 1 1/2 hours quicker to fly than it is to drive. Serious delays in the flight schedules can easily push the flight time longer than the drive time. Serious delays in the Grapevine or on the 5 can turn the trip into a genuine driving nightmare.

But nah, we don't need HSR in California.

PS. Since airlines treat their passengers considerably worse than livestock haulers treat livestock, I try to avoid airlines and airplanes. Lived in DC for twenty years and always took Amtrak to NY, even before the Metroliner. It was just more comfortable and hassle-free.

jg6544 Jan 19, 2012 2:21 AM

PPS: Ontario is wonderful if you live in Riverside. If you live west of downtown LA, not so much.

Ragnar Jan 19, 2012 3:03 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by jg6544 (Post 5555401)
But nah, we don't need HSR in California.

Not at the price we'd have to pay.

And AGAIN: WHY NOT HAVE THE UC SCHOOLS VALIDATE THE COSTS AND BENEFITS?

You are studiously avoiding answering that question.

JDRCRASH Jan 19, 2012 3:30 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by pesto (Post 5554806)
Spain is a marginally 3rd world country,

You're not serious, are you? Spain is the 14th largest economy in the world even if you include California.

http://www.nationsonline.org/oneworld/first_world.htm

Seriously, this probably ranks as one of your most inaccurate comments thus far on this forum.

Quote:

Originally Posted by Ragnar (Post 5555252)
Newsflash: We aren't Spain with an unlimited European checkbook to fund this thing. In case you haven't noticed, unbridled spending on massive projects has pushed many of those European countries to the brink of default.

Wrong, it's not infrastructure.

http://gulzar05.blogspot.com/2011/12...eign-debt.html
http://english.ruvr.ru/2012/01/12/63720328.html

JDRCRASH Jan 19, 2012 3:37 AM

edit

drifting sun Jan 19, 2012 4:06 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by pesto (Post 5554806)
This has been torn apart so many times it seems hardly worth going over. Spain is a marginally 3rd world country, with about 2/3 the per capita income of Ca (before the full economic implosion; lower now). Car ownership is very low; gasoline is extremely expensive; road systems are bad (compared to California); the tax burden is very high. This results in low expendable income and makes driving unaffordable.

Madrid and Barcelona are dense cities, with people close to central rail stations. LA and the Bay are 100 mile expanses of cities and suburbs, with low density; central train stations are not convenient or accessible from most areas. But airports are (6 in SoCal; 4 in NorCal).


Marginally third world? Perhaps your thinking of Portugal.

I'll tell you what's third world - coming back from Tokyo to LAX, and that was last May, in the thick of all the earthquake/tsunami/nuclear reactor mess. The Japanese profoundly impressed me with their dedication to a high quality society - even at one of their worst points in recent history. Then, I had to come back and be reminded of the in-denial decaying state that is the U.S., exemplified by LAX.

jg6544 Jan 19, 2012 6:09 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Ragnar (Post 5555456)
Not at the price we'd have to pay.

And AGAIN: WHY NOT HAVE THE UC SCHOOLS VALIDATE THE COSTS AND BENEFITS?

You are studiously avoiding answering that question.

Fine by me. And while we're at it, let's subject spending on the 5, the airports, and the air traffic control system to the same analysis. I wonder how much of a profit the 5 shows.

jg6544 Jan 19, 2012 6:11 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by drifting sun (Post 5555536)
Then, I had to come back and be reminded of the in-denial decaying state that is the U.S., exemplified by LAX.

:cheers:

pesto Jan 19, 2012 7:35 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by mfastx (Post 5554856)
If driving is unaffordable, how did over 40% of people make the drive before HSR? And if they can't afford to drive, then how would 40% of folks be able to fly? Isn't flying more expensive?


Madrid and Barcelona have suburbs too. San Francisco is an incredibly dense city. This just isn't true, if downtown Los Angeles isn't accessible from most locations, how do people get to work every day? Your response is just an opinion, the chart above are factual statistics.

First rule of having no intelligent arguments: make color charts and run them in the popular press.

The chart is meaningless and contains irrelevant comparisons. What difference does it make what the size and density of the country is? Size and density of the relevant cities is more to the point.

SF is a tiny percentage of the Bay Area, which extends from Sonoma to Gilroy. Over 100 miles. Even the core (SF-SJ-Pleasanton) is about 60 miles by 20 miles. LA even more so.

Madrid and Barcelona are not only much smaller overall, but a much higher percentage live in multi-story blocks in the city centers. I can't even imagine how you could argue otherwise if you have spent time there.

pesto Jan 19, 2012 7:40 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by jg6544 (Post 5555401)
And how are we going to get these millions of additional passengers TO LAX and where are we going to put their cars when they get there. FYI, I live in Brentwood, just a few miles north of LAX (half-an-hour drive if there is any traffic at all) and I've actually timed it out. Figuring in drive time to LAX, parking the car, getting past the security Nazis, waiting for the inevitable flight delays, and getting into San Francisco from SFO after the plane has landed, it is only about 1 1/2 hours quicker to fly than it is to drive. Serious delays in the flight schedules can easily push the flight time longer than the drive time. Serious delays in the Grapevine or on the 5 can turn the trip into a genuine driving nightmare.

But nah, we don't need HSR in California.

PS. Since airlines treat their passengers considerably worse than livestock haulers treat livestock, I try to avoid airlines and airplanes. Lived in DC for twenty years and always took Amtrak to NY, even before the Metroliner. It was just more comfortable and hassle-free.

From DC to NY by train makes perfect sense (urban, dense, shorter distance, miserable traffic, poor roads, congested airports, etc.). Not so much LA-Bay.

If you live in Brentwood, use Burbank: plenty of flights to 4 Bay Area airports.

mfastx Jan 19, 2012 7:45 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by pesto (Post 5556386)
First rule of having no intelligent arguments: make color charts and run them in the popular press.

The chart is meaningless and contains irrelevant comparisons. What difference does it make what the size and density of the country is? Size and density of the relevant cities is more to the point.

The chart in question is a good representationof what HSR does to a region. You could make a similar chart showing the advantages of HSR for many other cities around the world.

Quote:

Originally Posted by pesto (Post 5556386)
SF is a tiny percentage of the Bay Area, which extends from Sonoma to Gilroy. Over 100 miles. Even the core (SF-SJ-Pleasanton) is about 60 miles by 20 miles. LA even more so.

Madrid and Barcelona are not only much smaller overall, but a much higher percentage live in multi-story blocks in the city centers. I can't even imagine how you could argue otherwise if you have spent time there.

So? Just because a city isn't quite as dense means it will not support HSR? Do you have any proof of this? What's the difference between driving 30 minutes to an airport, and driving 30 minutes to a train station?

Why do people think that in order for HSR to work there needs to be huge amounts of public transit around the city? What's the difference in a HSR and an airport?

It doesn't make sense to me that some people are so against doing something that practically the rest of the developed world is doing. HSR obviously is the best form of transportation between two medium-distance cities, and it has been proven around the world. Why wouldn't it work here?

Is the rest of the world really that stupid? I don't think so..

pesto Jan 19, 2012 7:52 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by JDRCRASH (Post 5555487)
You're not serious, are you? Spain is the 14th largest economy in the world even if you include California.

http://www.nationsonline.org/oneworld/first_world.htm

Seriously, this probably ranks as one of your most inaccurate comments thus far on this forum.



Wrong, it's not infrastructure.

http://gulzar05.blogspot.com/2011/12...eign-debt.html
http://english.ruvr.ru/2012/01/12/63720328.html

Perfectly serious. Size of the economy is not relevant; China and India are bigger but no one would call them developed or even close.

Spain had an artificial boom sponsored by govt. and private debt, which gave the illusion of development and has left them bankrupt and with Greece-like unemployment. Institutionally it is still very much lagging Northern Europe in educational, social, business, finance, agricultural, employment, administrative, regulatory compliance and other aspects of developed countries. Examples are numerous, but suffice it so say that Spain is still exempted from many EU rules on employment rules, tax compliance, agricultural production and wages, etc. It just doesn't have the institutions to comply. Spanish corruption in city and local govt. is famous in the EU and easily checked out on the internet.

It is not a basketcase, but it is not a developed country either. I wouldn't have thought anyone would argue this after the last 5 years.

pesto Jan 19, 2012 8:06 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by mfastx (Post 5556403)
The chart in question is a good representationof what HSR does to a region. You could make a similar chart showing the advantages of HSR for many other cities around the world.


So? Just because a city isn't quite as dense means it will not support HSR? Do you have any proof of this? What's the difference between driving 30 minutes to an airport, and driving 30 minutes to a train station?

Why do people think that in order for HSR to work there needs to be huge amounts of public transit around the city? What's the difference in a HSR and an airport?

It doesn't make sense to me that some people are so against doing something that practically the rest of the developed world is doing. HSR obviously is the best form of transportation between two medium-distance cities, and it has been proven around the world. Why wouldn't it work here?

Is the rest of the world really that stupid? I don't think so..

I wouldn't disagree with improving transit to LAX or to Union Station. I support both additional subway lines and the massive parking structures in the expanded Union Station.

But this still doesn't make it even close for building HSR; air blows it away on time and car blows it away on cost. Hence, their inability to show a business plan that shows anything but bleeding cash forever. Again, have you noticed that EVERY auditor in the Democrat-controlled state govt. has rejected the proposal? These are not air and road junkies, oil addicts or anti-environmentalists. But even they can't stomach it.

Most of the world is poor; much of the rest is very densely crowded with large cities within 200 miles of each others. HSR (or cheaper train service) is great for these places. This does not describe LA-Bay.

jg6544 Jan 19, 2012 10:49 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by pesto (Post 5556393)
From DC to NY by train makes perfect sense (urban, dense, shorter distance, miserable traffic, poor roads, congested airports, etc.). Not so much LA-Bay.

If you live in Brentwood, use Burbank: plenty of flights to 4 Bay Area airports.

LA-SF, HSR still makes sense, although the distance is at the outer range.

The drive time from my place to LAX is less than the drive time all the way over to Burbank, plus, I don't need to subject myself to the 405 when I go to LAX; not so with Burbank.

jg6544 Jan 19, 2012 10:52 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by pesto (Post 5556426)
But this still doesn't make it even close for building HSR; air blows it away on time and car blows it away on cost.

Ah, but with HSR, no security Nazis and most importantly, no airlines and their surly employees.

I almost always drive when I go to the Bay Area, although 5-6 hours behind the wheel is tiring.

fflint Jan 19, 2012 11:59 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by pesto (Post 5556426)
Hence, their inability to show a business plan that shows anything but bleeding cash forever.

Present us the business plan showing California's freeways won't bleed cash forever, or admit you're just applying a double-standard as part of your bias toward petroleum-based transportation.

Quote:

Again, have you noticed that EVERY auditor in the Democrat-controlled state govt. has rejected the proposal? These are not air and road junkies, oil addicts or anti-environmentalists. But even they can't stomach it.
Fortunately, the Governor remains steadfast in giving California an alternative to congested, polluting freeways and runways.

jg6544 Jan 20, 2012 12:08 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by fflint (Post 5556810)
Present us the business plan showing California's freeways won't bleed cash forever, or admit you're just applying a double-standard as part of your bias toward petroleum-based transportation.

Curious that the anti-rail crowd never seems to expect the freeways to turn a profit, isn't it.

JDRCRASH Jan 20, 2012 12:46 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by pesto (Post 5556409)
Perfectly serious. Size of the economy is not relevant; China and India are bigger but no one would call them developed or even close.

My point is you're exaggerating... about this AND the advantages of airlines.

zilfondel Jan 20, 2012 1:11 AM

A good way of looking at this would be to look at how much money California has spent on highway and airport expansions in the past.

Then you can extrapolate lane-miles/population and project those numbers based on current growth rates.


Don't forget to figure in the cost of inflation!

DJM19 Jan 20, 2012 4:57 AM

Well, I believe I read the 99 would cost about 25 billion to expand...6 years ago.

Factor in the inflation since then, the inflation over the time of the project and then in similar HSR fashion the suprise final cost and you have a 40-50 billion dollar project on one freeway.

mfastx Jan 20, 2012 4:26 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by pesto (Post 5556426)
But this still doesn't make it even close for building HSR; air blows it away on time and car blows it away on cost. Hence, their inability to show a business plan that shows anything but bleeding cash forever. Again, have you noticed that EVERY auditor in the Democrat-controlled state govt. has rejected the proposal? These are not air and road junkies, oil addicts or anti-environmentalists. But even they can't stomach it.

How does air "blow it away" on time?? Maybe air beats HSR a little time-wise, but many people are willing to trade off a little time for convenience. Again, this has been shown around the world, and even in our own country, where about half of the travelers in northeast cities choose rail. And that isn't even true HSR.

Quote:

Originally Posted by pesto (Post 5556426)
Most of the world is poor; much of the rest is very densely crowded with large cities within 200 miles of each others. HSR (or cheaper train service) is great for these places. This does not describe LA-Bay.

Well that's your opinion, and I disagree. All there is to it. You don't know for sure that HSR wouldn't be "great" for California. Can you find real-world examples? Can you name a place in the world where HSR has failed?

EDIT - Sorry for the messy post, for some reason it isn't "quoting" correctly.

M II A II R II K Jan 20, 2012 11:32 PM

Brown Asks California to Cheer Rail Project


January 18, 2012

By ADAM NAGOURNEY

Read More: http://www.nytimes.com/2012/01/19/us...imes&seid=auto

Quote:

Gov. Jerry Brown on Wednesday threw his unequivocal support behind a $100 billion high-speed rail line that has come under fire here in California and across the country, embracing it in a strikingly optimistic State of the State speech in which he asserted that government should pursue ambitious ventures even during times of economic strife. With his speech, Mr. Brown firmly linked his political fortunes to the proposed 520-mile bullet train connecting San Francisco and Los Angeles as he urged lawmakers to release the $9 billion in state bonds needed to begin the project this year.

- “Critics of the high-speed rail project abound, as they often do when something of this magnitude is proposed,” he said in his speech, adding: “The Panama Canal was for years thought to be impractical, and Benjamin Disraeli himself said of the Suez Canal, ‘Totally impossible to be carried out.’ The critics were wrong then, and they’re wrong now.” State Senator Ted W. Lieu, a Democrat, called the train “a symbol of what California can do,” but suggested that the project was as much about Mr. Brown as anything else. “He is a much more practical governor now than maybe 30 years ago,” Mr. Lieu said. “But he is still a dreamer. High-speed rail is very evocative and is one of those things that I think he would like to be part of his legacy.”

.....

pesto Jan 22, 2012 7:38 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by jg6544 (Post 5556813)
Curious that the anti-rail crowd never seems to expect the freeways to turn a profit, isn't it.

I think even you and fflint know how ridiculous this is but it must make you feel cool to repeat it to the cheering crowds. I suspect that this is what Jerry is doing, since he is not a stupid person, but can't afford to alienate the unions and govt. employees.

First of all, highways are sunk costs; HSR isn't. It makes no sense to have the best system in the world and not keep it maintained and add marginal extensions as needed. In any event, NO material expansion is needed on 5, 99 and 101 with respect to LA-Bay traffic. The great bulk of expansion is within the metros or places where HSR won't ever run.

Second, highways carry more than commuters from LA to SF. About 99.999 percent of their traffic is within the metro area, within the CV, trucks, service, emergency, etc., that can't use HSR.

fflint Jan 22, 2012 11:36 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by pesto (Post 5559714)
In any event, NO material expansion is needed on 5, 99 and 101 with respect to LA-Bay traffic.

That is not obviously true. If you can provide any credible source backing up that unsupported claim, then please do so. Until then, it's merely an article of your conservative faith.

Meanwhile, in reality, there is consensus that population growth over the coming decades shall require additional transportation infrastructure. The jury is out on how much it would cost to cram more cars onto congested freeways and polluting jets onto runways.

jg6544 Jan 23, 2012 6:17 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by pesto (Post 5559714)
I think even you and fflint know how ridiculous this is

First of all, highways are sunk costs; HSR isn't.

Second, highways carry more than commuters from LA to SF.

I don't know anything of the sort. Rail is a transportation mode just as highways are and it is one in which we have invested far too little since WWII.

How is HSR not a "sunk cost"?

So?

jg6544 Jan 23, 2012 6:20 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by fflint (Post 5559978)
That is not obviously true. If you can provide any credible source backing up that unsupported claim,

He obviously doesn't drive it very often. Traffic can move very slowly on the 5, for the simple reason that it's a 4-lane freeway which carries an enormous volume of trucks. Get behind one big-rig trying to pass another on an upgrade and then tell us how the 5 is perfectly adequate.

The problem with the air/highway crowd is that they refuse to acknowledge something every other industrialized nation in the world has recognized, that rail is as important as highways are and as the air traffic system is.

hammersklavier Jan 23, 2012 4:55 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by mfastx (Post 5557420)
How does air "blow it away" on time?? Maybe air beats HSR a little time-wise, but many people are willing to trade off a little time for convenience. Again, this has been shown around the world, and even in our own country, where about half of the travelers in northeast cities choose rail. And that isn't even true HSR.


Well that's your opinion, and I disagree. All there is to it. You don't know for sure that HSR wouldn't be "great" for California. Can you find real-world examples? Can you name a place in the world where HSR has failed?

EDIT - Sorry for the messy post, for some reason it isn't "quoting" correctly.

Fixed it for ya. It was just a minor misspelling in the code.
Quote:

Originally Posted by jg6544 (Post 5560332)
The problem with the air/highway crowd is that they refuse to acknowledge something every other industrialized nation in the world has recognized, that rail is as important as highways are and as the air traffic system is.

Air is a bit more complicated, but the key difference is that a double standard is being applied by the highway crowd.

They reason thus: Americans have a God-given right to cars and thus anything to do with them falls under public works. But every other mode of transportation is private and should be expected to turn a profit to have a raison d'être.

The problem with this is that there's a double standard. Only cars apply for the fulfillment of freedom of mobility.

...Part of the problem comes with the usage of that word, mobility. What we really mean is freedom of access. Freedom to go from Place A to Place B, whenever, however.

And so we can see where the problem comes in with a highway. A highway curtails which freedom...? for which freedom...? If you're going to see mobility as the core freedom being expressed, you're going to be able to justify highways as public works. Problem is, that can also be used to justify public railroads and public airlines (which was done in Europe, recall).

But, as I argue, the core freedom that needs to be addressed is one of access--of being able to get from place to place--and when you think in those terms, the only reasonable solution, from the government's perspective, is to provide the most efficient access network possible. That means maximizing the amount of access enabled per investment. That means that the only reasonable network worth public investment is the local streets and roads network.

Curtailing access for mobility is actually a subversion of the expressed freedom, if access is the critical freedom needing public guarantee.

When analyzed with this framework, it becomes clear that highways, rail, and air all express mobility over access. Mobility can be taken as a freedom, a God-given right, as well, which would imply that all transportation systems are in the public domain.

Or...mobility can be taken as a luxury overlain on the core freedom of access. That allows it to be commoditized, and relinquished to the market. Highways, rail, and air in this regard become something worth paying for. Quantifying, as it were, your time.

(Before the passage of the National Interstate and Defense Highway Act--or something with a similar name--this was how the United States' federal government approached transportation policy.)

This would be the theory...In fact, however, the railroads were enabled by the government giving them their land for free. Very few railroads in the United States were built without some sort of capex subsidy--the land one being most dominant. The same goes for air travel, where the actual facilities (airports) are the public's concern while the equipment (planes) are the airline's concern. Prior to this subsidy, most major airlines utilized seaplanes rather than land facilities.

...In rail terms, this approach would be equivalent to a rail approach where the infrastructure--the trackwork, signalling, and gateways (stations) are the public's concern--while the equipment--the train cars themselves--is a private concern. This is essentially the approach being tried in Britain right now.

pesto Jan 23, 2012 6:44 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by fflint (Post 5559978)
That is not obviously true. If you can provide any credible source backing up that unsupported claim, then please do so. Until then, it's merely an article of your conservative faith.

Meanwhile, in reality, there is consensus that population growth over the coming decades shall require additional transportation infrastructure. The jury is out on how much it would cost to cram more cars onto congested freeways and polluting jets onto runways.

Just drive them. They move easily virtually all the time.

Compare 80, 880, 101 (SJ, Peninsula and LA), 5, 10, 405 and 20 others: they don't move most of the time.

Now tell me where it makes sense to put rail dollars (HSR, subway, whatever).

jg6544 Jan 23, 2012 7:06 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by pesto (Post 5560828)
Just drive them. They move easily virtually all the time.

I haven't taken the plane to SF (from LA where I live) in over two years. The reason for that is that I got sick and tired of delayed departures; security Nazis, and airline personnel who evidently all graduated with honors from the Nurse Rachett School of Customer Care. Driving doesn't take a hell of a lot longer than flying, although admittedly, I cruise along at 80-85 on the 5 whenever I can. Having said that, there are serious problems with the 5, the most serious being that there are only two lanes in each direction for most of its length. Every trip, there are several occasions when I get stuck behind a big-rig that is chugging along at 55-60 and decides it has to pass the big-rig ahead of it that is chugging along at 54. The other problem, of course, is speed limits. There is no way on earth they are going to increase the speed limit on the 5 to allow for driving speeds anywhere near those HSR hits. The drive to SF is going to take 5 hours +, no matter what.

Don't know about the 99, although I can't imagine it's any better than the 5.

HSR is an investment California needs to make.

jg6544 Jan 23, 2012 7:10 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by hammersklavier (Post 5560656)
Fixed it for ya. It was just a minor misspelling in the code.

Air is a bit more complicated, but the key difference is that a double standard is being applied by the highway crowd.

They reason thus: Americans have a God-given right to cars and thus anything to do with them falls under public works. But every other mode of transportation is private and should be expected to turn a profit to have a raison d'être.

The problem with this is that there's a double standard. Only cars apply for the fulfillment of freedom of mobility.

...Part of the problem comes with the usage of that word, mobility. What we really mean is freedom of access. Freedom to go from Place A to Place B, whenever, however.

And so we can see where the problem comes in with a highway. A highway curtails which freedom...? for which freedom...? If you're going to see mobility as the core freedom being expressed, you're going to be able to justify highways as public works. Problem is, that can also be used to justify public railroads and public airlines (which was done in Europe, recall).

But, as I argue, the core freedom that needs to be addressed is one of access--of being able to get from place to place--and when you think in those terms, the only reasonable solution, from the government's perspective, is to provide the most efficient access network possible. That means maximizing the amount of access enabled per investment. That means that the only reasonable network worth public investment is the local streets and roads network.

Curtailing access for mobility is actually a subversion of the expressed freedom, if access is the critical freedom needing public guarantee.

When analyzed with this framework, it becomes clear that highways, rail, and air all express mobility over access. Mobility can be taken as a freedom, a God-given right, as well, which would imply that all transportation systems are in the public domain.

Or...mobility can be taken as a luxury overlain on the core freedom of access. That allows it to be commoditized, and relinquished to the market. Highways, rail, and air in this regard become something worth paying for. Quantifying, as it were, your time.

(Before the passage of the National Interstate and Defense Highway Act--or something with a similar name--this was how the United States' federal government approached transportation policy.)

This would be the theory...In fact, however, the railroads were enabled by the government giving them their land for free. Very few railroads in the United States were built without some sort of capex subsidy--the land one being most dominant. The same goes for air travel, where the actual facilities (airports) are the public's concern while the equipment (planes) are the airline's concern. Prior to this subsidy, most major airlines utilized seaplanes rather than land facilities.

...In rail terms, this approach would be equivalent to a rail approach where the infrastructure--the trackwork, signalling, and gateways (stations) are the public's concern--while the equipment--the train cars themselves--is a private concern. This is essentially the approach being tried in Britain right now.


Good post. Just an historical factoid - the deathknell for passenger rail was sounded when the Post Office quit using trains to deliver first class mail (at one time, "air mail" was more expensive). That was a big subsidy and without it, the railroads began to dump every passenger train they had. Meanwhile, the government was pouring money into highways and air travel.

pesto Jan 23, 2012 7:10 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by hammersklavier (Post 5560656)
Fixed it for ya. It was just a minor misspelling in the code.

Air is a bit more complicated, but the key difference is that a double standard is being applied by the highway crowd.

They reason thus: Americans have a God-given right to cars and thus anything to do with them falls under public works. But every other mode of transportation is private and should be expected to turn a profit to have a raison d'être.

The problem with this is that there's a double standard. Only cars apply for the fulfillment of freedom of mobility.

...Part of the problem comes with the usage of that word, mobility. What we really mean is freedom of access. Freedom to go from Place A to Place B, whenever, however.

And so we can see where the problem comes in with a highway. A highway curtails which freedom...? for which freedom...? If you're going to see mobility as the core freedom being expressed, you're going to be able to justify highways as public works. Problem is, that can also be used to justify public railroads and public airlines (which was done in Europe, recall).

But, as I argue, the core freedom that needs to be addressed is one of access--of being able to get from place to place--and when you think in those terms, the only reasonable solution, from the government's perspective, is to provide the most efficient access network possible. That means maximizing the amount of access enabled per investment. That means that the only reasonable network worth public investment is the local streets and roads network.

Curtailing access for mobility is actually a subversion of the expressed freedom, if access is the critical freedom needing public guarantee.

When analyzed with this framework, it becomes clear that highways, rail, and air all express mobility over access. Mobility can be taken as a freedom, a God-given right, as well, which would imply that all transportation systems are in the public domain.

Or...mobility can be taken as a luxury overlain on the core freedom of access. That allows it to be commoditized, and relinquished to the market. Highways, rail, and air in this regard become something worth paying for. Quantifying, as it were, your time.

(Before the passage of the National Interstate and Defense Highway Act--or something with a similar name--this was how the United States' federal government approached transportation policy.)

This would be the theory...In fact, however, the railroads were enabled by the government giving them their land for free. Very few railroads in the United States were built without some sort of capex subsidy--the land one being most dominant. The same goes for air travel, where the actual facilities (airports) are the public's concern while the equipment (planes) are the airline's concern. Prior to this subsidy, most major airlines utilized seaplanes rather than land facilities.

...In rail terms, this approach would be equivalent to a rail approach where the infrastructure--the trackwork, signalling, and gateways (stations) are the public's concern--while the equipment--the train cars themselves--is a private concern. This is essentially the approach being tried in Britain right now.

An interesting mix of confusing theory and gratuitous name-calling. Maybe it's just me but I didn't follow the agument very well.

But in any event, it doesn't seem relevant to California; you really should check your facts. Ca HSR themselves EMPHASIZED the issue of profitability while pushing the ballot initiative, claiming that they would make money and return revenues to the state. Presumably they took this approach because they had minimal chance of passing the ballot measure if it was understood to cost 100B up front and large operating losses annually thereafter.

On review, it turned out that their business plan was so flawed that the DEMOCRAT controlled state legislative analyst and 3 other state audit agencies found the documents did not constitute a business plan. The re-did it with no better success. Still no adequate support for revenues, cost or funding sources.

HSR also SPECIFICALLY said that private parties were eager to be involved due to the profit potential. They have gotten zero interested investors. They also suggested that funding would be available from the Chinese, Japanese or others engineering firms. Turned out the Chinese would only extend funds if the repayment (plus interest) was guaranteed by the federal govt. AND if they got their usual profit margins to boot.

A final blow was the arrogance of HSR, basically disregarding those who complained about noise, eminent domain, splitting of cities, etc. Apparently these are little people, who don't count.

This is why so many previous supporters (including myself) have changed their minds about HSR and the people who run it.

DJM19 Jan 24, 2012 12:30 AM

I think there has been plenty of private interests in this project, unfortunately none of it Californian or even American.

fflint Jan 24, 2012 1:24 AM

Your self-serving anecdotes don't address the consensus among the experts in the field that population increase over the next 30 years will increase intra-state transit beyond what the current infrastructure can handle.

Quote:

Originally Posted by pesto (Post 5560828)
Just drive them. They move easily virtually all the time.

Compare 80, 880, 101 (SJ, Peninsula and LA), 5, 10, 405 and 20 others: they don't move most of the time.

Now tell me where it makes sense to put rail dollars (HSR, subway, whatever).


JDRCRASH Jan 24, 2012 3:12 AM

OMG... Are we really still debating whether High-Speed rail in general is a good investment for California, and not the precise reasons for it's increased costs (grade-sepeation, dedicated ROWs, etc.)?

dimondpark Jan 24, 2012 6:03 AM

Story from This Week in Northern California on KQED
Video Link


Las Vegas is mentioned a few times in this story and I am not aware that Vegas is part of the plan--is CAHSR saying that?

jg6544 Jan 24, 2012 6:28 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by JDRCRASH (Post 5561660)
OMG... Are we really still debating whether High-Speed rail in general is a good investment for California, and not the precise reasons for it's increased costs (grade-sepeation, dedicated ROWs, etc.)?

No, I think there's no longer any room for debate. It's a good and necessary investment.

mfastx Jan 24, 2012 4:31 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by DJM19 (Post 5561450)
I think there has been plenty of private interests in this project, unfortunately none of it Californian or even American.

That might be due to the fact that foreigners are the only ones smart enough to know that HSR works.

drifting sun Jan 24, 2012 5:22 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by jg6544 (Post 5561910)
No, I think there's no longer any room for debate. It's a good and necessary investment.

Oh, the ARROGANCE!!!!

(sarcasm)


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