Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Northeast Corridor Rulez!

I appreciate the Northeast Corridor and would love for us to spend more money there. But don't screw over California or other mega regions to do it. Last week Mayor Bloomberg was talking about the national investments in HSR (from Second Ave Sagas) and it seems like he's taking the attitude that investing anywhere else is silly because the NE Corridor is where its at.
With projects in Florida, California and the Midwest garnering headlines, the Northeast Corridor has taken a backseat in Washington with only one percent of federal HSR funds coming our way. “That simply just doesn’t make any sense,” he said.
Sure it makes sense, but not in the way that he wants it to. I would LOVE if we doled out money based on merit which we're starting to do with TIGER and HUD grants but then those people that are elected called politicians in places that don't have a lot of population concentrated don't want their money all sent to the Northeast Corridor. Not to mention that sometimes I feel like people don't understand geography or population of the rest of the country (not readers of this blog of course). I can't tell you how many times people say they'll be able to hop up from San Diego to visit San Francisco. When I ask them if they like 8 hour drives they say "WHAT?!"

Also, just adding up from Wikipedia CSAs and MSAs not in CSAs, along the California HSR corridor we get the following:

Los Angeles CSA - 17,786,419
SF-San Jose-Oak CSA - 7,427,757
San Diego MSA - 3,053,793
Sacramento CSA - 2,436,109
Fresno CSA - 1,063,899
Bakersfield MSA - 807,407
Stockton MSA - 674,860
Modesto MSA - 446,997
Visalia MSA - 429,668 !B9871841047192

Merced MSA - 245,321

Then there are a bunch under 200,000. But that is ~34.4 million or 11-12% of the United States population. Compare that with the NE Corridor numbers from the New Republic blog post on Mega Regions. From the graphic we can add up to about ~44.2 or 14-15% along the NE Corridor. I left out Springfield and Poughkeepsie.

In any event, I hope these loosely added numbers put some things into perspective. I wasn't quite sure what I was going to get out of it but felt like it was close. I'm guessing that the Midwest Hub HSR network probably puts together city pairs that add up to a lot of population as well. The difference between the NE Corridor and other regions though, is that the NE Corridor exists, Amtrak from San Diego to Sacramento or San Francisco does not. Again, I'm not saying don't invest in the Northeast Corridor, or that medium speed rail is a great idea (that's a whole other post) but also let's not pretend like the Northeast Corridor is the only place where HSR can exist. It is not the center of the Universe. That is the Planet Nieuw-Vennep.


Joseph said...

"Amtrak from San Diego to Sacramento or San Francisco does not [exist]"

Well, the Coast Starlight will take you on that trip, but it takes almost twice as long as driving, due to the curvy coastal route. The San Joaquin is faster, but requires a bus transfer in Bakersfield to get to Los Angeles, and is still slower than driving. http://www.amtrak.com/servlet/ContentServer?c=Page&pagename=am/Layout&p=1237405732511&cid=1237608331430

But I know what you mean

BBnet3000 said...

California HSR should be getting more money than it is, but the Northeast corridor is particularly starved. These are both among the top potential corridors in the country (the Northeast is definitely #1), but the projects getting investment are disappointing to say the least, in areas that have little potential for break-even or profitable service that (lets face it) people want to see.

Anonymous said...

Eight hours from SD to SF is optimistic, maybe on Christmas day.

We desperately need a train to connect the two Californias, north and south, but we seem to get little respect out of Washington. A few years ago, I had hoped that Pelosi et al would be able to shift some money this way, but it really took Obama's election to make it stick, and then Pelosi was out. In the meantime, we voted in funding for a train by ourselves. If that isn't enough to convince Washington of our seriousness, then we're sunk.

Clever-title said...

On the other hand, the current Acela service already competes successfully against driving and flying, so why not invest the money somewhere else, where right-of-way is cheaper, and where HSR can turn rail from a service that isn't competitive with planes into a one that is.