Friday, October 17, 2008

I Used to be Snow White

But I drifted. ~~Friday Night Link Party Below~~

It's Not About You! - So says the president of a commercial real estate firm in Milwaukee.
There are too many people who want to get on their soapbox and say, "I'm not going to ride it." The point is, it's not about you. The young person, who does believe in green technology and sustainable development, does want it. Whether you believe in global warming or not is not the point. There are a lot of people who do
In typical conservative fashion, Paul Weyrich, usually a staunch supporter for transit says no on high speed rail for California. Good thing he doesn't live here. I imagine he's never driven I-5 either. He uses the reason foundation explanation as to why he opposes it. Robert if you're counting Hoovers vs. Keynes, here's another Hoover for you. He does say this about the project:
Unlike the Reason Foundation, I do not think that this project would be a white elephant.
He goes on to deride the ridership estimates like everyone else who doesn't know why they are called "estimates". You know, like the estimates to sell bonds for these grey elephants.
A report on the Purple Line and all its noise and impact issues was released yesterday. The article did not talk however about particulate matter released from an internal combustion engine even if hybrid on the bus. Wonder if that was in the report.
Leaving Town? Some in Seattle say they will leave if the region doesn't pass the transit measure. I think there are some big issues that will come about if the transit measures around the country don't pass. What it might mean is that the region is left flat footed without a plan if and when the next transportation bill provides more money for transit. If we go into new deal spending, the regions that have transit plans in the Space Race will benefit from instant recognition that they have projects ready to go.
Brain Drain + Brain Gain = Negative Brains for Rochester. Keeps the zombies away at least.

H/T Urbanophile


arcady said...

I'm not sure I agree with Weyrich's arguments, but there are plenty of perfectly rational reasons to be against the Prop 1A incarnation of High Speed Rail in California. Mostly, it's because the planning is based on some dodgy and/or outdated figures, and the whole thing is being run by politicians with no railroad construction or operation experience. Is it a coincidence that Rod Diridon is on the board of the Authority that pushed all sorts of considerations aside to route the line through Rod Diridon Station in Diridon's home city of San Jose? And even if it is, it just looks very, very wrong.
Anyway, $40 billion, or even $10 billion could go a very long way toward giving California a good Normal Speed Rail network, which would benefit everyone: intercity, freight, and commuter. It'd buy electrification on the major state-owned corridors, and a high-speed line from Bakersfield to Newhall, closing the biggest gap in the state's rail network. And the rolling stock freed up by the new MU trains that would come with electrification can be cascaded down to new corridors like the Coast Daylight, LA-Palm Springs, LA-Las Vegas, Sacramento-Reno, and Sacramento-Redding. And all that for one quarter the cost of high speed rail.

Anonymous said...

Hey at least you have posted a reasonable objection. Than compared to some one Cox or O'Toole

Jon said...

i would love to see HSR pass in CA, though i am just a former CA resident. i am a little cautious about what happens if they cant get the other $20-30 billion to actually build the thing. what happens if it gets tied up in court while costs keep rising? what happens if they cut corners to save money so that the trains dont run as fast. look what happened with the seattle monorail project which was another pretty ambitious project or the los angeles subway. our country is very cheap with infrastructure particularly in the last generation and unwilling to wait for long term effects. politicans and outsider political groups score political points by attacking these kinds of projects. will some whacko libertarian try to fear voters into repealing the money in the next election with some slyly-worded measure?

but if it does pass i definitely want to invest in california particularly the central valley. imagine the implications of living both a 1 hour train ride away from the central bay area and downtown los angeles. it will completely reshape california by uniting northern and southern california into one large economic region. people will think nothing of making a short trip from SF to LA in the same way now people think nothing of going from SF to San Jose. i believe it will allow for new industries to grow on the back of this system in the same way you have seen industries grow around the interstate system in the last 50 years.

Alon Levy said...

Arcady, the cost objection made more sense last year, when commodity prices were rising, than now, when they're crashing. The alternative you're proposing doesn't include any direct service to San Francisco, without which rail improvements in California are completely useless.

arcady said...

Alon: the problem isn't the cost. The problem is that they have, to put it in the most polite terms possible, no clue what they're doing, in several different respects, including issues of FRA-compatibility, integration with existing services, through-running, and as it turns out, right of way planning as well.

As for the alternative I'm proposing, well, I haven't exactly given many details, have I? Perhaps some kind of direct service from San Francisco is possible, via Dumbarton and Altamont for example. And your statement that any rail improvements in California are "useless" without direct service to San Francisco is patently false. San Francisco together with San Mateo have 1.5 million of the Bay Area's 7.1 million residents, while Southern California has 21 million. And I suspect a large number of those other people don't care whether San Francisco has direct service or not, and are more concerned with such things as a decently fast train from LA to San Diego, or the current complete lack of train service from LA to Las Vegas. As high an opinion as SF may have of itself, it's not the center of the state in any sense.

Alon Levy said...

SF is the center of the second largest metro area in the state. It's also located at the ideal distance from LA for high-speed rail. LA-San Diego rail service will find it very hard to compete with cars, because at that distance, the point-to-point nature of cars gives a larger time saving than the higher top speed of rail.

Every issue you cite as a reason to oppose the project was true in France and Japan in the 1960s. The TGV still has no through-running; it has very little integration with the regular lines. The Shinkansen doesn't even run on the same gauge as the rest of the Japanese rail system, and is now divided among four separate companies.

arcady said...

Alon: about the TGV, I call complete and utter bullshit. The TGV runs to Holland, Switzerland, and Italy, none of which are connected to France by dedicated lines. The TGV also uses conventional lines to enter Paris as well as other major cities along its routes, and has quite extensive running on conventional lines all over France. Heck, even the AVE in Spain has through-running services, despite the fact that the AVE network has a different track gauge from conventional lines. You're right about Japan, where the Shinkansen does use a different track gauge and the system is mostly separate from the main rail network. But the main rail network is very extensive and provides very good connections. And there are a couple lines where they installed dual-gauge tracks in order to run Shinkansen trains on a conventional line. None of which would be possible in California if the HSRA makes a system such that regulations preclude a connection to the mainline rail network.

Alon Levy said...

Most of the TGV's ridership doesn't come from connections to Italy (or Switzerland). In southern France the system is quite slow - if I'm not mistaken, getting from Nice to Marseille takes about as much time as getting from Marseille to Paris.

Most traffic is basically getting from Paris to other places, largely on LGVs. The connections at Paris are bad - for instance, traffic from London and Brussels feeds into the Gare du Nord, while traffic from Lyon and Marseille feeds into the Gare de Lyon. To go deep into England they can't even use the regular TGV trainsets, which don't fit the British loading gauge.

You're right that other systems do use through-running more extensively, like the German ICE, which seems to have been designed the way you want California to design its rail system. The ICE is good, but it gets less ridership than the TGV, even though regular-speed intercity and commuter services are better in Germany than in France.

Your other point, FRA regulations, is a real problem either way. It's impossible to run good trains that accord with FRA regulations - just look at the Acela debacle. In either case - completely separate tracks, or mixed tracks - further improvements depends on a massive overhaul of FRA safety rules. Separate tracks increase the cost of track-laying while decreasing the cost of retrofitting the fleet if the regulations change, and minimizing the risk of the trains having to ever meet bulk regulations.

arcady said...

FRA regulations and separate tracks are a problem that needs to be addressed very early in the system design, just because so much depends on it. I think the thing to do is overhaul the FRA regulations, so that everyone benefits, and this is a process that needs to start now. The problem is that the HSRA doesn't seem to be considering this problem very much. And every single TGV terminating in Paris runs at least a few miles on regular conventional rail tracks in mixed traffic with commuter rail and freight. There's a huge difference between "only a little mixing" and "none at all", and in this case, it's probably a few billion dollars in expensive construction in the middle of cities.

Matt Fisher said...

Yes, I know they do this practice of running AVE high speed trains on "normal" lines in Spain with the broad gauge of 1676 mm (the same gauge is used in Portugal). In fact, they even do on some presently non-electrified lines in Spain!

This through running of TGV trains is extensive in France. In Germany, through running of ICE trains is also normal, and some "hybrid" trains with partly diesel based operation even go into Denmark. One LGV line in France bypasses Paris to allow trains to go from one part in the north to another in the south, like from Brussels or Lille to Lyon and Marseille or to Bordeaux. It also serves Disneyland Paris and Charles de Gaulle Airport.

And while I don't agree with Paul Weyrich on most issues, I agree with him on the rail transit and BRT issues. Weyrich died on December 17th at the age of 66, by the way. However, he also helped form the Heritage Foundation, which has employed Cox and O'Toole and employs Ronald Utt (to name but a few), and he's made some undesirable statements.

Still, it was refreshing to see a pro-rail conservative when other prominent right wing or libertarian guys say rail transit is bad and will not work (and are, in general, anti-transit, unconditionally pro-auto, and pro-sprawl).

Matt Fisher said...

I made my own error. The gauge in Spain and Portugal is 1668 mm.