Posts Tagged ‘High Speed Rail’

Here’s the Reason Why Atlantic Writer James Fallows is So Wildly Enthusiastic About High Speed Rail – One Simple Trick!

Tuesday, July 15th, 2014

Back in 2001, James Fallows wrote a stupid book called Free Flight: Inventing the Future of Travel about how we’d soon be flying around on tiny Very Light Jets (VLJ’s)(Actually, the book should have been called Jimmy Likes Planes ’cause that’s basically what’s inside).

Then 9/11 happened (so that’s the current excuse as to why things didn’t work out for the bold predictions in Free Flight).

But in 2002, Jimmy came back to say that, ahora mas que nunca, now more than ever in a post 9/11 world, tiny jets were going to transform the world of commercial aviation. He had an “optimistic vision.”

And then in 2008, Jimmy doubled-down with this wildly enthusiastic tale about people at companies that would soon go bankrupt. Every last one of the companies that Jimmy was so wildly enthusiastic about went BK. Read through the whole thing if you want. It’s like oh yeah, we’re going to do everything better cheaper faster lighter and, oh well, the plane’s engines will be coming two years late BUT THAT”S A GOOD THING!

It wasn’t.

So that’s Jimmy’s undeclared baggage, three trunks full of embarrassing writings on The Coming Transportation Revolution.

Comes now James Fallows to say how great California High Speed Rail is going to be.

IDK, why not instead just be realistic, Jimmy Fallows?

‘Cause I don’t think the whole Jimmy Likes X, where X is the latest big transportation revolution / scheme, is working out for Jimmy.

Or us.

Burn: New UCLA Study Concludes California High Speed Rail Offers No Net Economic Benefits – “Simply Moving Jobs Around”

Friday, June 22nd, 2012

Well this one is hot off the presses of the UCLA Anderson Forecast:

California High-Speed Rail and Economic Lessons from Japan

Jerry Nickelsburg
Senior Economist
UCLA Anderson Forecast

Saurabh Ahluwalia
Anderson School of Management
UCLA

June 2012

Here’s the start and the end – you’ll have to click above to read the whole thing.

“California High Speed Rail (CHSRL) is once
again in the news as the governor and state legislature
take up the issuance of construction bonds approved
by the voter passage of Proposition 1A of 2008.
Under “project vision and scope” on the CHRSL Authority
website are listed three categories of benefits:
economic, environmental and community.

In this article we focus on the economic benefits.
Specifically we look at economic growth and,
by implication, job creation. That is to say, we are
examining the benefit side of the equation and leaving
the cost side to other analysis.

Though CHSR Authority has developed and vetted a forecasting
model and has commissioned a number of economic
impact studies, these rely on relatively strong, though
perhaps plausible, assumptions. As an alternative,
we examine an actual case of high speed rail, one that
has been widely deemed a success, for evidence of
the magnitude of benefits measured by induced GDP
growth that one can expect from the building and
operation of CHSR over the next 40 years.
Our study of the Japanese Shinkansen system
from 1964 to present fails to provide evidence of
induced aggregate growth.

Rather, the evidence suggests high-speed
rail simply moves jobs around the
geography without creating significant new
employment or economic activity. That is not to say that
CHSR is not justified by population growth, pollution
abatement, or other factors. However, the evidence
from Japan is relatively clear. As an engine of
economic growth in and of itself, CHSR will have only a
marginal impact at best.

Governor Brown claims CHSR to be a visionary
project along the lines of the U.S. Interstate Highway
System, The California Central Water Project, and
the Panama and Suez Canals. As with these projects,
Governor Brown claims HSR will result in job
creation, economic development, particularly in the
Central Valley, the accommodation of population
growth and a cleaner environment.
The California High Speed Rail Authority
(CHSRA) has a set of studies demonstrating a sufficient
benefit cost analysis, a business plan that claims
operating costs will be covered by setting prices at
the currently charged airline prices for travel between
Los Angeles and the Bay Area.

The principal economic benefits cited by the CHSR Authority are the
creation of 100,000 construction jobs for the duration
of the project, operation and maintenance jobs for
the running of the trains, and the creation of 450,000
jobs and faster economic growth as a benefit of the
existence of the rail lines.

But, critics of the business plan abound. The
Board of Supervisors from both Tulare and Kern
Counties, counties who would presumably benefit
from the increased connectivity and economic growth
potential of CHSR voted their opposition to the program
as “currently constituted.

Moreover, questions have been raised about construction costs and timing,
environmental impact, operating costs and ridership
forecasts.

The State Legislative Analyst’s Office,
while not taking a position on the desirability of
CHSR, has critiqued the decision making process and
the quality of information available for legislators to
properly evaluate the issue.

 

 

Conclusions
In this study we have looked for, and failed to
find evidence of economic development that could
be clearly identified with the introduction or
operation of high-speed rail in Japan. This is surprising
because, at least for the Tokaido Line, conditions
were ripe for economic development. To be sure the
prefectures along the Tokaido Line grew. The late
60s and early 70s were a period of transformation and
growth throughout Japan. But the data don’t admit a
clear story that high-speed rail was in and of itself a
differentiating contributor.

Is it possible that absent high-speed rail Kanagawa
Prefecture would have grown more slowly? That
is an experiment that can never be performed. But
when we keep in mind that Japan’s growth in the 60s
and 70s were due to exports of goods and Kanagawa’s
main city, Yokahama, is a major port city for the
Tokyo area, it is easy to conclude that the economic
growth would have occurred with existing low speed
rail and truck transport.

The lessons for California are two-fold.

First, high-speed rail tends to create sprawl as it lowers
the cost for commuters and makes more far-flung
locations possible bedroom communities. This may
be considered a benefit by some and a detriment by
others.

Second, the claims that a multiplier effect (or
economic development effect) of 450,000 jobs as a
result of the introduction and operation of CHSR are
not likely to be realized. There may be good reasons
to invest in CHSR including the possibility that
CHSR is the optimal infrastructure investment for a
growing population; but the economic argument, the
jobs argument, does not seem to stand on very solid
ground.

Is There a Bay Area Transit Rail Project Being Built Right Now That Could Actually Be Useful? Yes, the Sonoma-Marin SMART Train

Thursday, March 1st, 2012

I guess they’re building this?

Anyway, they’re advertising it these days, for some reason.

Check it.

Click to expand

Basically, it’s going to be like a mini-BART* but for the North Bay – news to me.

And unlike massively-expensive California High Speed Rail project, we can actually afford the SMART train.

And unlike the useless Central Subway federal pork subway-to-nowhere project in Chinatown, SMART has the potential to benefit its riders.

Hurray!

*Speaking of which, BART to Livermore and/or San Jose, those projects also sound like they could be useful in the future, I don’t know.  

Trees vs. Trains: High Speed Rail Project Threatens Stanford’s Iconic Redwood – “El Palo Alto” is Directly in the Path

Friday, November 5th, 2010

El Palo Alto, aka the Stanford Tree, is smack dab in the way of California’s High Speed Rail project, according to Doug Ray over at the Peninsula Press.

Appears as if the NIMBY’s of counties San Mateo and Santa Clara are gaining speed in the battle of HSR – how much will it take to buy them off?

El Palo Alto, back in the day. It’s still there, for now:

Click to expand

Will CA HSR run over Stanfoo’s famous, fun-loving mascot?

Only Time Will Tell

Resolved: California’s High Speed Rail Authority Ought to Respond to this Readable Report from the NIMBYs of Palo Alto

Monday, November 1st, 2010

I think our California High-Speed Rail Authority should respond to this recent report:

The Financial Risks of California’s Proposed High-Speed Rail Project: A Review And Assessment Of Publicly Available Materials

(I don’t think they will, but I think they should.)

It would be easy to go point by point. See?

This is just for starters:

Of course a lot of the rich people of Counties San Mateo and Santa Clara wouldn’t want more RR tracks in their backyards even if they didn’t have to pay for it – that’s what makes them NIMBYs. And the principal author frets about the effects of HSR on tony Atherton, CA. But these Peninsulans deserve an answer from the authoritahs, do they not?

Point by point, that’s the way to do it.

Just saying…

“We do not oppose high-speed rail in concept. It seems to work in parts of Europe and Japan and possibly elsewhere. The 2008 Prop 1A promise that captured many voters was that the California High-Speed Rail (CHSR) would not cost the taxpayer a penny. After months of work on this report, we are forced to conclude that the Authority’s promise seems an impossible goal.”

AUTHORS

Alain C. Enthoven – Marriner S. Eccles Professor of Public and
Private Management (emeritus), GSB Stanford; President,
Litton Medical Products; Economist, Rand Corporation;
President’s Award for Distinguished Federal Civilian Service;
Baxter Prize for Health Services Research; Fellow American
Academy of Arts and Sciences; Founder, Jackson Hole Group
(BA Economics, Stanford; Rhodes Scholar–Oxford; PhD
Economics, MIT)

William C. Grindley – World Bank; Associate Division Director,
SRI International; Founder and CEO, Pacific Strategies, ret.
(B Architecture, Clemson; Master of City Planning, MIT)

William H. Warren – 40 years of Silicon Valley finance, sales
and consulting experience, management, including CEO of
several start-ups, Director/Officer at ROLM, Centigram, and
Memorex (MBA, Stanford)

Everyone in California Agrees More Federal Pork for High Speed Rail is a Good Thing

Wednesday, May 19th, 2010

When it comes to funding an 11-figure(!) transit project, every litttle counts as they say in Euro-land. So just try finding an elected official in CA who don’t want the Feds to kick in another eight figures, to drip another drop in the bucket, right?

Well, our California High-Speed Rail Authority recently asked around, and it turns out that everyone is all aboard.

Deets below.

A Californian TGV pour vous et moi? Someday, maybe:

François Lacôte, SVP at French conglomerate (and BART train maker!) Alstom Transport, and our globetrotting First Couple, Gavin Newsom and Jennifer Siebel Newsom, trainspotting in France a year or so ago. Via the Mayor’s Office of Communications.

To Be Continued….

California High-Speed Rail Authority Seeks New Federal Funds. Local Leaders Support $16.6 Million Bid for Planning

SACRAMENTO, Calif., May 19 — With strong support from local officials, the California High-Speed Rail Authority has submitted three planning grant applications that could provide as much as $16.6 million in additional federal funding for the state’s high-speed train project.

The funds would pay for service development plans that would help keep the preparation of draft environmental documents and preliminary engineering documents on schedule in the Los Angeles to San Diego and Merced to Sacramento sections of the high-speed rail project and on the Altamont Corridor Rail Project. In addition, the Authority is also supporting the California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) in its effort to apply for rail plan grants.

“California’s high-speed train project is the biggest public infrastructure project in the nation,” said Authority Chairman Curt Pringle. “We’re already leading the pack in federal funding for high-speed rail, and we’re committed to fighting to bring every federal dollar possible to California. These new applications show we’re continuing to work hard to win additional support and keep high-speed rail on track.”

The applications will go to the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA), which has $115 million available for planning and construction funds for high-speed intercity passenger rail under the Passenger Rail Investment and Improvement Act approved in 2008. Up to $50 million will be awarded in this round of funding.

It Goes On…

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Quentin Kopp’s Beale Street Alternative for High Speed Rail Attacked by SoMA Residents

Wednesday, December 23rd, 2009

Via Jamie Whitaker’s Rincon Hill blog comes news of a fight against consideration of the so-called “Beale Street Alternative“ for the San Francsico terminus of California’s nascent High Speed Rail line.

I don’t have a dog in this hunt, but you, well take a gander if you’d like:

Save High Speed Rail in San Francisco

Targeting: Supervisor Chris Daly (District 6, City and County of San Francisco Board of Supervisor), Medhi Morshed (Executive Director, CA High Speed Rail Authority) and Curt Pringle (Chair of the Board, CA High Speed Rail Authority)

Started by: April Veneracion

Demand the California High Speed Rail Authority stop its consideration of the infeasible Beale Street Alternative that is…

· Risking over $400 million in federal funding to the Transbay Transit Center

· Harming property values in the South Beach neighborhood of San Francisco

· Wasting millions of Prop 1A dollars on study of infeasible alternatives that should be spent on construction”

So that’s the issue. All the deets, below.

Quentin Kopp with youthful HSR supporters at San Francisco City Hall during happier times last year:

The whole magilla:

“As a strong supporter of building High Speed Rail throughout the state and into San Francisco’s downtown Transbay Transit Center, I am appalled at your consideration of the Beale Street Alternative. This study is not only wasteful, it risks over $400 million in federal funding for the Transbay Transit Center and is harming property values in the South Beach neighborhood of San Francisco.

Your study of the Beale Street Alternative was proposed to you by a lobbying and law firm on behalf of an unidentified special interest. This location has already been rejected as a technically and economically infeasible terminus for High Speed Rail in San Francisco. San Franciscans overwhelmingly voted for Proposition 1A to bring high speed rail to our Transit Center. Your study of the Beale Street Alternative, widely thought to be pushed by Board Member Quentin Kopp, is a wasteful expenditure of limited Proposition 1A money that should be applied to construction of the project.

With the passage of Proposition 1A, we believe that your study of the Beale Street Alternative is illegal. The voter approved mandate codifies in State law that the northern terminus for high speed rail will be the Transbay Transit Center.

The Transbay Transit Center is a federally approved project currently in construction in downtown San Francisco that has received the support of the San Francisco electorate on multiple occasions. Over $2 billion in funds have already been secured, independent of Proposition 1A. This Center is designed to accommodate high speed rail to downtown San Francisco.

The existence of this project is reason enough to drop your study of the Beale Street Alternative. Additionally, the Beale Street Alternative would likely result in the taking of more than 1,800 current and future residential units in the South of Market area. Your study alone has made many of our homes unmarketable by the required disclosure of your irresponsible study into any potential home sale. In contrast, the approved downtown extension to Transbay will take only 2 dozen residences. Given San Francisco’s housing crisis, this is a far more reasonable approach.

Meanwhile, the Transbay Joint Powers Authority has applied for $400 million in ARRA funds to build the rail box in the Transit Center. While this application has the support of the San Francisco County Transportation Authority, the San Francisco Board of Supervisors, Mayor Gavin Newsom, the Metropolitan Transportation Commission, Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Senator Dianne Feinstein, and Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, we understand that the Federal Rail Authority has expressed concern about your Beale Street Alternative. We are worried that the Beale Street Alternative is not about adequately addressing environmental issues, it’s about political brinkmanship.

It’s time to put high speed rail to San Francisco back on track.

As a supporter of high speed rail and Proposition 1A, I demand you halt your irresponsible study of the infeasible Beale Street Alternatives. I also ask that you hold a formal meeting of the California High Speed Rail Authority in San Francisco, to hold yourselves accountable to the people whose properties and projects you are jeopardizing.”

To Be Continued…

Mayor Gavin Newsom Demands a Downtown Terminal for CA High Speed Rail

Monday, January 26th, 2009

You know what San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom wants? He wants the new California High Speed Rail System to make tracks all the way up to the new Transbay Terminal near Mission Street instead of having the rails end around the CalTrain Station on King Street. Says our Mayor, who is right now this moment learning all about high speed rail on the scene in Paris, France:

 We’re not going to build a $2 billion bus station under my watch.”

Well, that says it all.

Click to expand:  

François Lacôte, SVP at French conglomerate (and BART train maker!) Alstom Transport, and our globetrotting First Couple, Gavin Newsom and Jennifer Siebel Newsom, today trainspotting in France. Via the Mayor’s Office of Communications.

And you know who would agree with Gavin? Dave Snyder, Transportation Policy Director at San Francisco Planning + Urban Research (SPUR). He thinks the voter-approved high-speed rail should “reach right into the heart of San Francisco, even if it costs more than… [nibbles right pinky ] one billion dollars.”

However, High Speed Rail Authority Chair Quentin Kopp might look at things a different way.

What will it appear like? Here’s an idea on the YouTube: San Francisco Transbay Transit Center Animation. Complete with intra- and inter-city rail, it’s just like a small version of Toyko Station. They want you to think of it as the Grand Central Station of the West(TM).

Will we get the necessary $300,000,000 ”train box” underneath the TT earlier rather than later? Will CalTrain finally have a chance to get up there to Mission as well? Stay tuned.

More deets after the jump

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Will You Board This Jitney Bus After Arriving in SF by Bullet Train?

Monday, November 17th, 2008

After getting off of California’s new bullet train in San Francisco, how are you going to get from the CalTrain Station at 4th and King Streets up to the Financial District or the TransBay Terminal or someplace you actually want to get to?

Well, maybe a jitney bus is in your future. They say it’s faster than MUNI.

Anyway, read all about it:

Derailed: California bullet-train champion Quentin Kopp had his fellow Proposition 1A supporters choking on their election night Champagne with his pronouncement that the current Caltrain station at Fourth and Townsend would make a fine high-speed rail station – and that San Francisco’s plan for a Grand Central Station-style downtown hub was a waste of time and money.

“I am not going to pay $2.5 billion to move a track 1.4 miles,” said Kopp, the former San Francisco supervisor, state senator and retired judge who now chairs the California High Speed Rail Authority.

Or maybe you can walk?

Students Spend Spring Break Promoting High Speed Rail in California

Tuesday, March 25th, 2008

California High Speed Rail Authority Chairman Quentin Kopp joined Senator Carole Migden and San Francisco Board of Supervisors President Aaron Peskin on the steps of City Hall yesterday to welcome some college kids to town. They are giving up their spring break holidays to go on a statewide bike tour to promote high speed rail.

go8f0100a1.jpg

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