icanfly
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Surely California High Speed Rail Is A Great Idea?

Thu Jul 19, 2012 10:34 am

Today Governor Brown signed into the law the bill authorizing construction of the first segment of California's proposed high-speed rail network, scheduled to commence in early 2013:

http://www.dailynews.com/ci_21106775...high-speed-rail?source=most_viewed

To me, this has always seemed like a great infrastructure project, alongside the likes of Hoover Dam and the Interstate Highway Network of the 1950s and 60s. Imagine whizzing between downtown San Francisco and downtown LA in 2 hours 40 minutes!

Yes, at $68 billion, the price tag is steep, but surely the economic case is strong if HSR asborbs a substantial portion of traffic that would otherwise have used road or air travel, thereby reducing the need to build more freeways and airport runways and expansions in the future.

So I'm trying to understand where the opposition to the project is coming from?

PS - I'm aware HSR has been discussed on this forum before, but as far as I can tell the last thread was in 2010 and anyway I'd like to keep this discussion focused on California.
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STT757
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RE: Surely California High Speed Rail Is A Great Idea?

Thu Jul 19, 2012 10:51 am

Quoting icanfly (Thread starter):
So I'm trying to understand where the opposition to the project is coming from?



Like everything else, short sighted mentality. There are major projects all over the Country that were built during times of economic duress that we couldn't even begin to imagine living without today.
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QFA380
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RE: Surely California High Speed Rail Is A Great Idea?

Thu Jul 19, 2012 10:59 am

And in other news another Californian city is about to file for bankruptcy...

http://edition.cnn.com/2012/07/18/us...ifornia-city-bankruptcy/index.html
 
connies4ever
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RE: Surely California High Speed Rail Is A Great Idea?

Thu Jul 19, 2012 11:53 am

Quoting STT757 (Reply 1):
Quoting icanfly (Thread starter):
So I'm trying to understand where the opposition to the project is coming from?

Like everything else, short sighted mentality. There are major projects all over the Country that were built during times of economic duress that we couldn't even begin to imagine living without today.

I think most case studies of HSR (or LRT for that matter) show that on a cash basis they're losers. However I think there is also an argument to be made for foregone costs, i.e., more freeways etc., that don't need to be built. The whole process of getting people to move from private transportation to a more public transportation is itself a big issue.

In Winnipeg, a mid-sized city (about 750k), there is a spirited debate about whether or not to go LRT. Current plans show Phase 1 as BRT (bus...) but beyond is not clear. All the BRT rights of way I believe are amenable to LRT if that is the decision. I think LRT is more saleable to the public than BRT, as the bus is seen, rightly or wrongly, as the refuge of the poor, students, and immigrants. The LRT, while much more expensive, is sexier and hipper, by comparison. Since I'm in the process of moving back to Winnipeg, this is an interesting civic debate.
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wingman
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RE: Surely California High Speed Rail Is A Great Idea?

Thu Jul 19, 2012 2:05 pm

I live in California and I love trains, but Americans only know how to do freight trains. HSR is not for us. It's too expensive and competing against cars and planes will be a losing battle. Between SF and LA there must be some eight airports catering to travelers from all areas of each city and I would guess some 60-70 flights per day round trip. These typically run from $200-$300 each with a bit of notice.

Paris and Tokyo are clearly very different outcomes, trains make more sense in these places and there's a national commitment to HSR. Unfortunately, I'm wagering all my chips that HSR in California is going to be the greatest fiscal calamity in our state's history. But when your numb and cold all over from the explosive idiocy in Sacramento it just doesn't seem to matter anymore.
 
Flighty
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RE: Surely California High Speed Rail Is A Great Idea?

Thu Jul 19, 2012 2:33 pm

In politics, a "great idea" is a way to make great money for yourself and your cronies. Political capital (which HSR has) is something for shady characters to exploit and convert into real cash. California HSR would never be inexpensive, because there are so many powerful families to enrich by making it more expensive. As long as it gets funded (as an attractive concept, it will get funded), these powerful people are rewarded, and they will steal more in the future.

[Edited 2012-07-19 07:34:29]
 
ozglobal
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RE: Surely California High Speed Rail Is A Great Idea?

Thu Jul 19, 2012 2:59 pm

Should HSR be built in the Californian corridor: Absolutely.

Are public finances and governance in California beyond therapy: Absolutely.

Is '2' a reason to not do '1'. Absolutely not. Fix both.

Business Case? Why do you aske for a 'Business' case? This is public infrasturcture not a business venture. Ask for an INFRASTRUCTURE Case: net effect, indirect and direct, to the economy of doing or not doing the project. This is the way to measure value for public infrastructure. Then decide what should be 'sunk' as public cost (eg. HSLs) and what should be privatized and when (e.g rolling stock, passenger services), what should be regulated and government operated and what should be de-regulated and open to competiion and when. In Europe, Paris - Brussels; Paris - Frankfurt; Paris-London are deregulated and open to directly competing rail services on multi-100 billion Euro HSL's built by public investment. The payback to the countries participating is undisputed. e.g The new Dijon - Mulhouse LGV which opened last Dec is 100% in France, but was funded 50% by France, 25% by Germany and 25% by Switzerland in the clear recognition that each one's economies will indirectly benefits from the infrastructure and the stimulus permanantly so created.

[Edited 2012-07-23 10:54:00 by SA7700]
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LAXintl
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RE: Surely California High Speed Rail Is A Great Idea?

Thu Jul 19, 2012 3:10 pm

        

Big boondogle if there was ever one.

Here are some reasons;

1) Its questionable how "high speed" this really will be. Now to reduce cost they are actually talking about using regular regional rail lines in both SoCal and Bay Area
2) Selected route is not a direct one between San Diego and SF basin, but more a zig-zag to add in as many communities as possible such as the Central Valley and garner their political support.
3) Due to the lower speed and extended routing, its not a time savings door to door over a plane.
4) What was sold as under a $30Bil project all said and done to voters, is now a $98Bil project. By the time its built imagine how much more it will be?
5) One expert after another (including ones in Japan and France as have been in the paper recently) have questioned the project
6) Unlike original intentions, it will not even now break even operationally. They are talking about $200 fares rivaling air fares, while ridership projections were found to be inflated.
7) Even the state oversight authority has serious questions as to how both the project was sold to voters, and how its been managed to date.
8) If they could do it over again, the voters of the state now oppose the project.
9) Lots of litigation awaits from communities, environmental groups etc...


Personally I hope its never completed, the plug is pulled, and the tax payer is taken off the hook for this terrible project.
From the desert to the sea, to all of Southern California
 
lewis
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RE: Surely California High Speed Rail Is A Great Idea?

Thu Jul 19, 2012 5:16 pm

Quoting icanfly (Thread starter):
So I'm trying to understand where the opposition to the project is coming from?
Quoting icanfly (Thread starter):
Imagine whizzing between downtown San Francisco and downtown LA in 2 hours 40 minutes!

That will be awesome. I would love to have more train service between the cities as well as within LA. Having said that, I just don't see it as a good investment. Talking about the one end of the line (LA), you have a city with not very good infrastructure as far as train services go. A high-speed rail link assumes that someone arriving in LA by train would then be able to go around the city by jumping on another train or high-speed public transportation option. There is no such thing around here, best case scenario they can go upto Hollywood and then back to Union St. Take any similar project in the world and you will see that the cities connected by HSR then have a good network within the city limits to feed the travelers around.

This is why people either drive to LA and then have their car to move around or they fly here and pick up a rental at the airport. Unless more commuter train lines are built in LA and actually get used, the HSR has little to offer.
 
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RE: Surely California High Speed Rail Is A Great Idea?

Thu Jul 19, 2012 5:47 pm

Quoting wingman (Reply 4):
but Americans only know how to do freight trains. HSR is not for us. It's too expensive and competing against cars and planes will be a losing battle.

I agree. Sure, trains are cool, but spending $68 Billion on high-speed rail in the US does not make sense to me. Like you mention, there is no real way to compete with driving or flying.

It's a cool idea, but it's just not practical.

Quoting LAXintl (Reply 7):
Big boondogle if there was ever one.

Here are some reasons;

I think you hit them all, LAXintl.
 
PPVRA
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RE: Surely California High Speed Rail Is A Great Idea?

Thu Jul 19, 2012 6:02 pm

Quoting OzGlobal (Reply 6):

It absolutely - beyond ANY doubt - has to have a business case.

You admitted yourself in your post that this is an economic asset. Therefore, it must be run like a business. It must be self-supporting. Else, it is nothing but a fancy trophy politicians can selfishly add to their resumes. And there are a lot of gullible voters out there to keep voting them back into office.

And BTW, I don't think you have a good understanding of sunk costs - they are not something a rational person chooses to incur!

[Edited 2012-07-19 11:03:41]
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RE: Surely California High Speed Rail Is A Great Idea?

Thu Jul 19, 2012 6:34 pm

The only way it would be able to compete with cars and airplanes is with a proper HST line: dedicated to high speed train, allowing for consistent high speed, with few stops, like San Diego - LA - SF - Sacramento.

If they start doing it on the cheap side, by mixing HS and non HS lines, adding stops at every little town on the way and adding to trip times, it will be a failure.

ACELA, on a similarly sized network, was very close to being a failure for these reasons, even though it serves a much denser market.
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Dreadnought
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RE: Surely California High Speed Rail Is A Great Idea?

Thu Jul 19, 2012 6:41 pm

Quoting STT757 (Reply 1):
Like everything else, short sighted mentality. There are major projects all over the Country that were built during times of economic duress that we couldn't even begin to imagine living without today.

Even the project's admittedly inflated numbers expect annual revenue of only somewhere around $2.3 billion per year in 2028. Let's assume the are correct (hah!) - that's still something like a 40 year payback on investment, NOT counting interest. Financially it is without question a boondoggle.

People like to compare it to the Golden Gate Bridge. But the bridge was funded locally, with a $35 million bond measure. The last of the bonds were finally paid off in 1971, 40 years after the project started, paying out in total $35 million in principle and $39 million in interest. The bridge paid off. I don't see the HSR project ever doing so.

Quoting LAXintl (Reply 7):
9) Lots of litigation awaits from communities, environmental groups etc...

People talk about 2.5 hours between downtown SF and LA - that will never happen. In built-up areas, trains will not be allowed to run flat out due to noise restrictions, for one thing. I'd say 4 hours of travel time would be more likely, maybe more.

One question I have. On European trains, there basically is no security. Will the TSA insist on airport-style check in and security, so that you have to get to the station at least an hour ahead of departure?
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BMI727
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RE: Surely California High Speed Rail Is A Great Idea?

Thu Jul 19, 2012 6:54 pm

Quoting icanfly (Thread starter):
Surely California High Speed Rail Is A Great Idea?  

Only if it isn't built with my money.

Quoting icanfly (Thread starter):
Yes, at $68 billion, the price tag is steep,

How many miles of freeway could be built for that? How many airport security lanes?

Quoting Flighty (Reply 5):
In politics, a "great idea" is a way to make great money for yourself and your cronies.

  

Quoting OzGlobal (Reply 6):
Business Case? Why do you aske for a 'Business' case?

Because if it doesn't have one, it's a bad idea. Do you know what you call a project with no business case? It's a money pit, and California has enough of those as it is.

Quoting LAXintl (Reply 7):
Big boondogle if there was ever one.

  

Quoting LAXintl (Reply 7):
3) Due to the lower speed and extended routing, its not a time savings door to door over a plane.

Not to mention that I don't think it's likely that Southern California and the Bay Area will be dotted with train stations the way they are with airports. Do that and high speed isn't so high speed anymore. Rail might work decent from downtown LA to downtown San Francisco, but what if you're going to Ontario, Orange County, or Oakland?

Quoting LAXintl (Reply 7):
They are talking about $200 fares rivaling air fares, while ridership projections were found to be inflated.

So now you're paying the same amount to not really save any time. Nice.
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ozglobal
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RE: Surely California High Speed Rail Is A Great Idea?

Thu Jul 19, 2012 7:30 pm

Quoting PPVRA (Reply 10):
Quoting OzGlobal (Reply 6):

It absolutely - beyond ANY doubt - has to have a business case.

You admitted yourself in your post that this is an economic asset. Therefore, it must be run like a business. It must be self-supporting. Else, it is nothing but a fancy trophy politicians can selfishly add to their resumes. And there are a lot of gullible voters out there to keep voting them back into office.

And BTW, I don't think you have a good understanding of sunk costs - they are not something a rational person chooses to incur!

I don't think you understand my post. If this were a business initiative, a Business Case would be appropriate and necessary. It is not. It is a public infrastructure initiative. It needs an Infrastructure Case. Do you understand the difference?

Then you move to a hybrid public / private model for the underlying lines and the services respectively. Works elsewhere and would work in the US.

By 'sunk' costs was simply a way of saying, from the perspective of the Services running on top of the public infrastructure, the line costs are already 'sunk'. They may pay a service fee to the line carrier, but this is not designed to pay back the lines by itself.

Some people just don't like the idea of HSR. That's ok. Just say it.
When all's said and done, there'll be more said than done.
 
Flighty
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RE: Surely California High Speed Rail Is A Great Idea?

Thu Jul 19, 2012 7:44 pm

Quoting BMI727 (Reply 13):
So now you're paying the same amount to not really save any time. Nice.

Correct, minus the $100 billion and borrowing costs, and minus the annual operating subsidy it will need.

The free market has been able to create rail for over 150 years. Now, a new invention -- the aero-plane -- has replaced intercity passenger rail. This is because airplanes are utterly cheaper and faster. Also more environmentally friendly, in a low pax volume American context.

Beijing-Shanghai HSR probably is more environmentally friendly than A320s, but that is a catchment area of... half a billion people? So you can load up trains with >1,000 people.

[Edited 2012-07-19 12:45:43]
 
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Dreadnought
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RE: Surely California High Speed Rail Is A Great Idea?

Thu Jul 19, 2012 7:44 pm

Quoting OzGlobal (Reply 14):
Some people just don't like the idea of HSR. That's ok. Just say it.

I lived in Europe for over 20 years. I love the TGV service, and for about a year I took the TGV twice a week from GVA to Paris. But the TGV works in France where gasoline costs $7-8 per gallon, and you pay an additional $100 in highway tolls for that same GVA-Paris trip if you took it by car.

Here we have free interstates, cheap gasoline. That makes it much harder for trains to compete. You also do not have centrally-located train stations, fully tied in to a city public transport system (except a a handful of east coast cities).

Sorry, I just don't see it working. A HSR line, with dedicated tracks, could work wonderfully between Boston, NYC and DC, but not in Cali, IMHO.
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aa757first
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RE: Surely California High Speed Rail Is A Great Idea?

Thu Jul 19, 2012 7:54 pm

Quoting icanfly (Thread starter):
So I'm trying to understand where the opposition to the project is coming from?

The criticism is only growing, from what I see. The HSR project was jump started by Proposition 1A. As a proposition, it was enacted by California voters without any input from the legislature. Unfortunately, many ideas of the ideas that are enacted through the proposition process are because they're bad laws -- legislators know not to vote for them, but they appeal to voters. Clearly, California lawmakers realized the state faced enough challenges without building a $100 billion project.

Now the project is far more expensive than originally planned, which isn't too much of a surprise. The route is turning out to be highly controversial. Wealthy towns on the peninsula (SF's southern suburbs) don't want the noise and the traffic running through. Environmentalists have complained that one of the routes potentially endangers some kind of animal. There's a school in Bakersfield that's angry because the route would include bulldozing their facility.

And now estimates suggest that the train will be pretty slow (SF to LA in over two hours, compared to an air by air) and expensive (around $200, which is about what an air ticket costs).

The fact of the matter is that the US is not Europe. We're just far too spread out for this to be viable. The Bay's three airports and LA's five are enough to serve the intrastate market. To be honest, I'd much rather have Megabus come back than high speed rail introduced.
 
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ER757
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RE: Surely California High Speed Rail Is A Great Idea?

Thu Jul 19, 2012 7:55 pm

Quoting icanfly (Thread starter):
Imagine whizzing between downtown San Francisco and downtown LA in 2 hours 40 minutes!

I can imagine it but this line won't make it reality. This looks to be more of a "milk run" with too many stops en-route as LAXINTL points out in his post. He also makes many other valid points. I'd LOVE to see HSR in the US - I would definitely use it for trips of less than 1000 miles but it's fiscally impractical due to the up-front costs. Even if its expenditure is amortized over 50 - 75 years, people are not going to buy off on it because they see the big price tag at the beginning.
 
ozglobal
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RE: Surely California High Speed Rail Is A Great Idea?

Thu Jul 19, 2012 8:12 pm

Quoting Flighty (Reply 15):
The free market has been able to create rail for over 150 years. Now, a new invention -- the aero-plane -- has replaced intercity passenger rail. This is because airplanes are utterly cheaper and faster.

Do you not realize (or not care) that in the proposed HSR corridors all of these statements are clearly false? That is the reason they are proposed HSR corridors.

It's fine that you don't like HSR. Just say it. But with statements like those above, you convince noone.
When all's said and done, there'll be more said than done.
 
ozglobal
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RE: Surely California High Speed Rail Is A Great Idea?

Thu Jul 19, 2012 8:19 pm

Quoting aa757first (Reply 17):
And now estimates suggest that the train will be pretty slow (SF to LA in over two hours, compared to an air by air) and expensive (around $200, which is about what an air ticket costs).

You do realize that city centre to city centre, a 2 hour train ride is much faster than a 1 hour flight, don't you?

HSR is walk on walk off, in Europe you only need about 10mns at the station before departure. By air you have:

- 45-75mns commute to a major airport
- 1 hr wait (plus delays) at the airport
- 1 hr flight
- 30mn to land and exit airport
- 45-75 mn commute to city centre

Total by air: 4hrs

Total by HSR: 2hrs City centre to City centre.
When all's said and done, there'll be more said than done.
 
Flighty
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RE: Surely California High Speed Rail Is A Great Idea?

Thu Jul 19, 2012 8:25 pm

Quoting OzGlobal (Reply 19):
But with statements like those above, you convince noone.

Which amount of money is more expensive: (a) zero dollars. (b) $100 billion.

Air travel is here today. SFO-LAX is not that difficult to fly.
 
lewis
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RE: Surely California High Speed Rail Is A Great Idea?

Thu Jul 19, 2012 8:26 pm

Quoting OzGlobal (Reply 20):
You do realize that city centre to city centre, a 2 hour train ride is much faster than a 1 hour flight, don't you?

There isn't even a point of mentioning the "city centre to city centre" concept. There is not much going on in Downtown LA or its immediate surrounding areas. The places that most visitors would want to see or where most users of the HSR train would reside in are miles away from the city center (if you can call it that). Commuting from/to Union station, whether one chooses to drive or take the bus (no other real alternatives) is not very convenient.
 
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DeltaMD90
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RE: Surely California High Speed Rail Is A Great Idea?

Thu Jul 19, 2012 8:41 pm

I think if the project wasn't horribly mismanaged it would have more support. Also, CA really shouldn't be spending more money, I mean come on. If they deem HSR important enough then they should cut some other projects from their budget and then build this HSR. But that's probably asking a lot of the CA government...
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BMI727
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RE: Surely California High Speed Rail Is A Great Idea?

Thu Jul 19, 2012 9:36 pm

Quoting lewis (Reply 22):
There isn't even a point of mentioning the "city centre to city centre" concept. There is not much going on in Downtown LA or its immediate surrounding areas.

   If you're trying to get to Monterey, Silicon Valley, Orange County, or Ontario for example, then the high speed rail is utterly useless.
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srbmod
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RE: Surely California High Speed Rail Is A Great Idea?

Thu Jul 19, 2012 9:40 pm

One of the projects tied into this endeavor is XpressWest (formerly known as DesertXpress), which is a privately funded venture (although they will have some financing done via the Federal Railroad Administration). They're planning on building a rail line initially between Las Vegas and Victorville, CA primarily on public lands (The right of way for I-15 as well as Bureau of Land Management land.) as well as a line between Victorville and Palmdale which would link their network into the Metrolink network as well as the California HSR network (Palmdale is one of the proposed stops of the San Francisco-L.A route.). Eventually XpressWest plans on service from Las Vegas to Phoenix as well as service from Las Vegas to Salt Lake City and Denver.

http://www.xpresswest.com/project.html

http://www.xpresswest.com/network.html
 
lewis
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RE: Surely California High Speed Rail Is A Great Idea?

Thu Jul 19, 2012 10:01 pm

Quoting BMI727 (Reply 24):
If you're trying to get to Monterey, Silicon Valley, Orange County, or Ontario for example, then the high speed rail is utterly useless.

I would go as far as to say that the value added is not even good enough for areas in closer proximity to DTLA, like the Valleys, the west side and the beach cities/south bay. If LA had a more extensive underground system that could feed people to the HSR efficiently (or if the city was even built in a way to support such a system) then it would be a better investment. Right now, not so much.

[Edited 2012-07-19 15:03:26]
 
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DocLightning
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RE: Surely California High Speed Rail Is A Great Idea?

Thu Jul 19, 2012 11:56 pm

Quoting wingman (Reply 4):

I live in California and I love trains, but Americans only know how to do freight trains. HSR is not for us. It's too expensive and competing against cars and planes will be a losing battle. Between SF and LA there must be some eight airports catering to travelers from all areas of each city and I would guess some 60-70 flights per day round trip. These typically run from $200-$300 each with a bit of notice.

With a lot of inconvenience involved. Furthermore, walk-up fares are exorbitant and SFO in particular has a gigantic delay rate due to the fact that the 28s are too close together to allow tandem ILS approaches. Three hour delays are common at SFO. Then there's the TSA and the whole luggage pain.

HSR systems worldwide have spectacular on-time statistics. The average HSR delay in Japan for the entire system (including natural disasters) is about two seconds. There is no need to go through the whole TSA screening because you can't hijack a train. You just have to look for bombs. Luggage can be carried aboard and stored on shelves at the end of the cars. It's just a more pleasant experience overall, and typically walk-up fares are cheaper.

In Spain, people still do fly MAD-BCN, but the AVE has taken an enormous bite out of that market. People will even pay a premium to take AVE over a cheaper flight because it's so much more relaxing of an experience.

But beyond that, this stretch isn't just about San Francisco and Los Angeles. There will be smaller communities along the alignment all the way down that have only limited (or very expensive) air access at this time because it's all RJ traffic. People in Visalia will be able to come to San Francisco in 1.5 hours, not 4.5 hours and they'll be able to do it for 10% of the current fare.

HSR may not be the answer for cross-country travel, but between adjacent city-pairs it makes fantastic sense.
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mham001
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RE: Surely California High Speed Rail Is A Great Idea?

Fri Jul 20, 2012 12:01 am

Quoting francoflier (Reply 11):
The only way it would be able to compete with cars and airplanes is with a proper HST line: dedicated to high speed train, allowing for consistent high speed, with few stops, like San Diego - LA - SF - Sacramento.

You missed San Jose.

Quoting BMI727 (Reply 24):
If you're trying to get to Monterey, Silicon Valley, Orange County, or Ontario for example, then the high speed rail is utterly useless.

Why? It runs right up the center of Silicon Valley with a stop in San Jose. Monterey is closer from the train station than it is from SJC.
Some keep trying to get it coastal further north and make San Jose a spur but that is just stupid.
 
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DocLightning
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RE: Surely California High Speed Rail Is A Great Idea?

Fri Jul 20, 2012 12:08 am

Quoting Dreadnought (Reply 12):
People talk about 2.5 hours between downtown SF and LA - that will never happen. In built-up areas, trains will not be allowed to run flat out due to noise restrictions, for one thing. I'd say 4 hours of travel time would be more likely, maybe more.

The whole point is that it will be able to do exactly that. It's being designed with below-grade rights-of-ways in built-up areas.

Quoting francoflier (Reply 11):
The only way it would be able to compete with cars and airplanes is with a proper HST line: dedicated to high speed train, allowing for consistent high speed, with few stops, like San Diego - LA - SF - Sacramento.

Your TGV has a lot of stops on any given line. So do most other HSR systems. The thing is that a given train doesn't stop at every single station. The stations have sidings for trains that will stop there, while express trains will continue on the express track.

There might be a train departing from San Francisco to Los Angeles every fifteen minutes. But only two or three trains a day stopping in, say, Visalia.
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BMI727
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RE: Surely California High Speed Rail Is A Great Idea?

Fri Jul 20, 2012 12:11 am

Quoting mham001 (Reply 29):
It runs right up the center of Silicon Valley with a stop in San Jose.

A stop that makes it take that much longer to get to San Franciso.

Quoting mham001 (Reply 29):
Monterey is closer from the train station than it is from SJC.

Of course Monterey also has its own airport with no less than eight flights from Los Angeles each day.
Why do Aerospace Engineering students have to turn things in on time?
 
lewis
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RE: Surely California High Speed Rail Is A Great Idea?

Fri Jul 20, 2012 12:11 am

Quoting DocLightning (Reply 28):

But beyond that, this stretch isn't just about San Francisco and Los Angeles.

Surely though, such an expensive infrastructure is mainly targeting the two biggest urban centers it is connecting no? I doubt the smaller communities in between can solely support such a service.

You bring good examples of cities connected with HSR but in all those cases, there is an urban system that offers a "continuation" to the HSR ride. The way I see it, LA is kind of a dead end to such a system and I do not see it attracting the number of riders the project is claiming. I just don't see it as a good investment and there is a high risk of it being under-utilized for a very long time. I am not one of the people that is just against rail, I would love to have a train to go to work or travel around CA, but I just don't see a good business case in this.
 
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DocLightning
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RE: Surely California High Speed Rail Is A Great Idea?

Fri Jul 20, 2012 12:17 am

Quoting lewis (Reply 32):
Surely though, such an expensive infrastructure is mainly targeting the two biggest urban centers it is connecting no? I doubt the smaller communities in between can solely support such a service.

I didn't say they could. I said they would greatly benefit from it.

Quoting lewis (Reply 32):
You bring good examples of cities connected with HSR but in all those cases, there is an urban system that offers a "continuation" to the HSR ride. The way I see it, LA is kind of a dead end to such a system and I do not see it attracting the number of riders the project is claiming.

It is unfortunately true, but there is a very large LA public transit system called the freeways. We don't think of it as "public transit" because you need your own car to access it, but that is the closest thing that LA has and it's even publicly funded. On the SF side, the train will start at the Transbay Terminal, which has access to BART and MUNI with CalTrain only a few blocks away. On the LA side there will be ample opportunity to rent a car.

Quoting BMI727 (Reply 31):
A stop that makes it take that much longer to get to San Franciso.

It doesn't need to stop there on every trip, does it?

Quoting BMI727 (Reply 31):
Of course Monterey also has its own airport with no less than eight flights from Los Angeles each day.

Do you know how much they cost? Three weeks in advance, the cheapest I can find is $350 one-way.
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LAXintl
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RE: Surely California High Speed Rail Is A Great Idea?

Fri Jul 20, 2012 12:22 am

Here is a screen shot of the prelim route between LA and SF. Its almost 100-miles longer than straight line as it zig-zags around a bit.

Note the downtown LA to downtown SF will have 9 enroute stops !



While it says 2:38 travel time, that is with the previous plan of using dedicated HSR track. With legislature approval 2-weeks ago, the train will now use regular regional tracks in the LA Basin (and likely Bay Area also), slowing things down. So travel time migent be north of 3 hours then.

Also the latest projected one-way fare is $106 now. Interestingly this compares almost exactly with the $105 average airline fare per the DOT in the market. (Mindful, if you plan ahead you can book $59 fares regularly).

Quoting lewis (Reply 22):
There isn't even a point of mentioning the "city centre to city centre" concept. There is not much going on in Downtown LA or its immediate surrounding areas. The places that most visitors would want to see or where most users of the HSR train would reside in are miles away from the city center (if you can call it that). Commuting from/to Union station, whether one chooses to drive or take the bus (no other real alternatives) is not very convenient.

   This indeed is a big point.

For instance for myself I would have to take a 30-minute drive, and pay and park at Union Station. This is not an improvement over driving to LAX.

To get to the HSR station, people will have to drive far an wide. They can probably access a local airport SNA, BUR, LGB, LAX, From the desert to the sea, to all of Southern California
 
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stasisLAX
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RE: Surely California High Speed Rail Is A Great Idea?

Fri Jul 20, 2012 12:50 am

Quoting icanfly (Thread starter):
So I'm trying to understand where the opposition to the project is coming from?

It's a misuse of funding. This sexy, high-tech, high speed train will cater to wealthier business travelers and tourists - not to the average California resident. I've said it before on this topic, and once again - the appropriate use of mass transit funding should support local mass transit within California! Transit that the working poor, seniors, students, and the handicapped can benefit from. Not some grandiose "Jetson" style HSR that the average Californian could care less about and openly dismiss as a "rich man's toy" Yes, it would lead to some employment, especially during construction, but it's a band-aid, not a permanent fix to the state's long-term unemployment problem. As was previously noted, there are PLENTY of airports between Los Angeles and San Francisco. Expand and improve the existing mass transit infrastructure within the state - a lot of it is literally falling apart!
"Those who would give up essential liberty to purchase temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety!" B.Franklin
 
lewis
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RE: Surely California High Speed Rail Is A Great Idea?

Fri Jul 20, 2012 12:59 am

Quoting stasisLAX (Reply 35):

  

I agree, I would rather see a fraction of that money go to maintaining, improving and expanding existing networks first, before taking up such a grand project that will end up having to deal with the existing infrastructure 'holes'.
 
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RE: Surely California High Speed Rail Is A Great Idea?

Fri Jul 20, 2012 1:38 am

Quoting OzGlobal (Reply 20):
You do realize that city centre to city centre, a 2 hour train ride is much faster than a 1 hour flight, don't you?

As another poster pointed out, Americans don't travel city center to city center. We travel from Irvine to Walnut Creek and Los Altos to Long Beach.

Quoting OzGlobal (Reply 20):

- 45-75mns commute to a major airport
- 1 hr wait (plus delays) at the airport
- 1 hr flight
- 30mn to land and exit airport
- 45-75 mn commute to city centre

These times are very inflated. Except for LAX and SFO, the airports I mentioned tend to be smaller and pretty user friendly -- the terminals aren't too big and they aren't so delay prone. Also, since there's three airports in the Bay and five in LA, the commute time is cut down.

Quoting DocLightning (Reply 28):
But beyond that, this stretch isn't just about San Francisco and Los Angeles. There will be smaller communities along the alignment all the way down that have only limited (or very expensive) air access at this time because it's all RJ traffic. People in Visalia will be able to come to San Francisco in 1.5 hours, not 4.5 hours and they'll be able to do it for 10% of the current fare.

This project costs close to $100 billion. At that cost, bus service is better for smaller communities. California can barely spend money where it matters. This isn't the time to be taking on such a huge project.

Quoting stasisLAX (Reply 35):
I've said it before on this topic, and once again - the appropriate use of mass transit funding should support local mass transit within California! Transit that the working poor, seniors, students, and the handicapped can benefit from. Not some grandiose "Jetson" style HSR that the average Californian could care less about and openly dismiss as a "rich man's toy"

This is a good point. There are a handful of people I know who travel between the Bay and LA. They're either paid to do so for business or are very rich. The other people are going to be very price sensitive. $210 round trip is not going to be an incentive for increased travel between the two cities.
 
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RE: Surely California High Speed Rail Is A Great Idea?

Fri Jul 20, 2012 2:02 am

Quoting francoflier (Reply 11):
If they start doing it on the cheap side, by mixing HS and non HS lines, adding stops at every little town on the way and adding to trip times, it will be a failure.

  

Quoting francoflier (Reply 11):
ACELA, on a similarly sized network, was very close to being a failure for these reasons, even though it serves a much denser market.

The fares for Acela also happen to be through-the-roof.

Quoting Dreadnought (Reply 12):
In built-up areas, trains will not be allowed to run flat out due to noise restrictions, for one thing.

A similar thing happened for the new commuter rail line here in Portland. People were whining left and right about train whistles.

Quoting Dreadnought (Reply 12):
On European trains, there basically is no security.

In the US, too. Amtrak claims they have undertaken "heightened security measures" but in reality it's all a joke. They try to make you believe there's high security by making you show your ID every two seconds, for example. If you handed a ticket to a train employee marked for travel on July 19, 2013 instead of July 19, 2012, I doubt they'd notice.


Quoting Dreadnought (Reply 12):
Will the TSA insist on airport-style check in and security

Not really sure but my assumption would be no.

Quoting Dreadnought (Reply 12):
so that you have to get to the station at least an hour ahead of departure?

So what? That's how early I get to the station for Amtrak travel.

Quoting BMI727 (Reply 13):
How many miles of freeway could be built for that? How many airport security lanes?

  

Quoting Dreadnought (Reply 16):
Here we have free interstates, cheap gasoline. That makes it much harder for trains to compete. You also do not have centrally-located train stations, fully tied in to a city public transport system (except a a handful of east coast cities).

You make an excellent point, Dreadnought.

Quoting OzGlobal (Reply 20):
45-75mns commute to a major airport

 Wow! You must live a long ways from your airport!

Quoting Flighty (Reply 21):
Air travel is here today. SFO-LAX is not that difficult to fly.

   Absolutely.

Quoting DocLightning (Reply 28):
Furthermore, walk-up fares are exorbitant and SFO in particular has a gigantic delay rate due to the fact that the 28s are too close together to allow tandem ILS approaches. Three hour delays are common at SFO.

You make flying sound like it's supposed to be some sort of terrible thing.

Quoting DocLightning (Reply 28):
Then there's the TSA and the whole luggage pain.

What "luggage pain?"

Quoting DocLightning (Reply 28):
Luggage can be carried aboard and stored on shelves at the end of the cars.

Wait... You'd rather drag your bag onboard a train and lift it onto a luggage rack instead of having someone do all of that for you? I'm sorry, I don't quite follow you...

Quoting DocLightning (Reply 28):
HSR may not be the answer for cross-country travel

Where did you get that idea? And under what circumstances does cross-country travel need an "answer?"   

Quoting LAXintl (Reply 34):
Here is a screen shot of the prelim route between LA and SF.

Thank you for sharing that image.

Quoting aa757first (Reply 37):
These times are very inflated.

I agree with you there, however...

Quoting aa757first (Reply 37):
the terminals aren't too big

"Big terminal" does not always equal "Not user-friendly."
 
wingman
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RE: Surely California High Speed Rail Is A Great Idea?

Fri Jul 20, 2012 2:05 am

Two other points to consider in being against the plan...first, neither SF nor LA have anything resembling decent public transportation. That's another thing that differentiates successful HSR in other countries. You can arrive in Pairs, Osaka, Lyon, Munich, London or Tokyo and get positively anywhere in the near metro area with safe, clean, reliable public transportation. Simply non-existant in California. Second, we have a perfect example right here in our own country to draw lessons from...Amtrak and Acela on the Eastern Seaboard. Look up economic catastrophe in the encyclopedia and you'll see those two logos.

Again, I love trains and given the choice would take one over a plane any day of the week. But if I'm on business from SF to LA and my business is taking me anywhere except downtown LA I just don't see the point. Too much sprawl, too many proven alternatives, and simply not enough money. We're broke, and broke ass people can't afford $68B gambles. It's whacked.
 
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RE: Surely California High Speed Rail Is A Great Idea?

Fri Jul 20, 2012 2:13 am

By the way -- does anyone think the airlines will allow a train to chip away at their service?

Southwest will surely and handily undercut the projected $212 train fare. Add in the sheer convenience of SWA being able to connect 5 local SoCal airports with 3 in the Bay, the mix-match options for the consumers will be great.
From the desert to the sea, to all of Southern California
 
LAXintl
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RE: Surely California High Speed Rail Is A Great Idea?

Fri Jul 20, 2012 2:15 am

Quoting aa757first (Reply 37):
s another poster pointed out, Americans don't travel city center to city center. We travel from Irvine to Walnut Creek and Los Altos to Long Beach.

   Another big point.

LA County alone is over 4,000 sq miles. The notion that people will drive hours to reach a train station is nuts itself.
From the desert to the sea, to all of Southern California
 
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DocLightning
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RE: Surely California High Speed Rail Is A Great Idea?

Fri Jul 20, 2012 2:54 am

Quoting AlnessW (Reply 38):
You make flying sound like it's supposed to be some sort of terrible thing.

It is. Have you taken a flight lately? It's a stressful and unpleasant experience.

Quoting AlnessW (Reply 38):
Wait... You'd rather drag your bag onboard a train and lift it onto a luggage rack instead of having someone do all of that for you? I'm sorry, I don't quite follow you...

It's no harder than dragging it to the check-in counter and retrieving it from the carousel... except you don't have to wait for it and it's not going to get lost.

When I arrived at Barcelona Sants station on the Ave, I grabbed my bag, walked up to the street, took a cab, and was flopping down on the bed in my hotel room less than 20 minutes later. You cannot do that with an airport.

Tell me... have you ever once taken HSR? If you haven't, then I suggest you do before you comment.
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DeltaMD90
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RE: Surely California High Speed Rail Is A Great Idea?

Fri Jul 20, 2012 2:58 am

As others have said, I think LA and SF need a better local transit first. The convenience of HSR is reduced if they just plop you in the middle of the city. I think connecting DC with NYC would work better since both have bigger subway systems, for example.

I love HSR... I was able to travel through 4 European countries just on rail and local transit. I don't see that happening in much of the US at all, but I see it in larger cities if they get decent local systems and build from there
Ironically I have never flown a Delta MD-90 :)
 
AlnessW
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RE: Surely California High Speed Rail Is A Great Idea?

Fri Jul 20, 2012 5:19 am

Quoting DocLightning (Reply 43):
Have you taken a flight lately?

Yes.

Quoting DocLightning (Reply 43):
It's a stressful and unpleasant experience.

No, it's not. Well, perhaps it's stressful and unpleasant if you get to the airport an hour before your flight leaves, run to security, then bolt to your departure gate as the door closes behind you. I'd call that stressful and unpleasant. However, if you plan ahead, give yourself some time, and just relax, you'll be fine. That's what I do every time and never once have I had a stressful and unpleasant experience when flying.

Quoting DocLightning (Reply 43):
It's no harder than dragging it to the check-in counter and retrieving it from the carousel.

Still don't agree with you there.

Quoting DocLightning (Reply 43):
except you don't have to wait for it and it's not going to get lost.

Not once have I ever had to wait more than 10 minutes for checked bags to arrive. Airlines do a wonderful job transferring bags to your final destination, even if your inbound flight is delayed and your connecting flight is on time. I've been pleasantly surprised multiple times.

Quoting DocLightning (Reply 43):
When I arrived at Barcelona Sants station on the Ave, I grabbed my bag, walked up to the street, took a cab, and was flopping down on the bed in my hotel room less than 20 minutes later. You cannot do that with an airport.

I take it you don't really like travel!

Quoting DocLightning (Reply 43):
Tell me... have you ever once taken HSR? If you haven't, then I suggest you do before you comment.

Please do not put words into my mouth. I said nothing of that sort.   
I was curious as to why your beliefs on travel are so ill-intentioned.
 
Geezer
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RE: Surely California High Speed Rail Is A Great Idea?

Fri Jul 20, 2012 7:06 am

Quoting icanfly (Thread starter):
So I'm trying to understand where the opposition to the project is coming from?

Sorry I haven't had time to read the previous replies, but I can answer your question easily, without reading anything;

It's not that there's anything wrong with HSR..............HSR is just fine in places where the population will use it, and I might mention.................in places where the people who want it have some idea of how they're going to pay for it.

Having a bridge from California to Hawaii seems like a marvelous idea for a few pin-heads that are afraid to fly, and hate boats; the problem ( problems ?) obviously outweigh the "advantages" by a margin of nine zillion to 3; so if only a few dozen pin-heads are desirous of driving their Bentley's to Honolulu, and the thing costs 179.999 zillion trillion to build, and requires 750, 999 workers to maintain, it's starting to look just a wee-tad "impractical and non-cost-effective" don't you see ?

That should give you a rough idea of why building a HSR in California is such a dumb idea; California is so flat broke......( no, they're billions BEYOND broke, they have borrowed so much money already, ( with no earthly possibility to pay it back), not to mention the fact...............unlike the Japanese, ( who obviously LOVE to ride trains), and ditto the Europeans, and I have no idea how many Asians, the native Californians LOVE to DRIVE their gas-guzzlers, and fly in their airplanes, and ride their mountain bikes...................

There are thousands of "good ideas" out there, but until they become cost-effective, until there is a sufficient demand for them, they are bound to remain just what they are now..................some air-head's..........( think: Gov. "Moon Beam's) silly idea.

I have often contemplated getting me a Lear Jet ( until I got to checking out what the monthly payments are......plus the insurance, parking, and most importantly............I don't even know how to fly a piper cub ! So I have discarded the Lear Jet "idea", in favor of buying this new 27 inch iMac I have finally taken out of the box and am attempting to learn how to operate the thing. ( And I think Gov. "Moon Beam" needs to do the same thing............get himself a new iMac or a new iPod, and forget about trying to get Californians to ride fast trains.

Charley
Stupidity: Doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result; Albert Einstein
 
mham001
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RE: Surely California High Speed Rail Is A Great Idea?

Fri Jul 20, 2012 4:03 pm

Quoting BMI727 (Reply 30):

A stop that makes it take that much longer to get to San Franciso.

You do understand that San Jose is the larger city right? And that San Francisco's economy is piggybacked on Silicon Valley's? Why would the third largest city in the state be bypassed? Are you saying all those currently flying into SFO are actually going to SF?

Quoting BMI727 (Reply 30):
Of course Monterey also has its own airport with no less than eight flights from Los Angeles each day.

Oh get real. Few in the Monterey Penninsula fly out of Monterey, it has a population of 26,000. The bulk of Monterey Bay population lives north closer to San Jose. Hwy 17 is littered with airport shuttles to SJC. Monterey is a non-issue.

Quoting DocLightning (Reply 32):
It doesn't need to stop there on every trip, does it?

Why shouldn't it? I could see a case against Gilroy, but bypassing the engine of California's economy is ridiculous and will lose massive support for this project.
 
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Aaron747
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RE: Surely California High Speed Rail Is A Great Idea?

Fri Jul 20, 2012 5:01 pm

Quoting OzGlobal (Reply 20):
Total by HSR: 2hrs City centre to City centre.

It is irrelevant to talk about city centers with built environments such as those in California, with the exception of a few densely-populated upscale hamlets and the city of San Francisco.

There are established formulas for determining the necessary local ridership and population density to make HSR viable. Based on what I've seen so far, and especially colored by my experience with a radically different rail setup in Japan, it's very hard for me to see the business case being there.

Quoting LAXintl (Reply 33):

Here is a screen shot of the prelim route between LA and SF. Its almost 100-miles longer than straight line as it zig-zags around a bit.

Note the downtown LA to downtown SF will have 9 enroute stops !

This is not really the problem with the system. The Tokaido shinkansen line is actually relatively similar, and has a zigzag route due to traversing a wide variety of terrain. There are places where it runs below best possible speeds to counter environmental concerns like tunnel boom effect. The problem is the lack of a good economic case for the project.

http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/1/17/Tokaido_Shinkansen_map.png

Quoting mham001 (Reply 45):
And that San Francisco's economy is piggybacked on Silicon Valley's?

The economics of the Bay Area are not as simplistic as they seem. Weight has shifted heavily back to San Francisco over the last few years, and SF has always had a symbiotic, if not complimentary, relationship with the South and East Bay areas since the 1960s at the very least. Prewar you can make an argument for definitive economic centers but in the last 50 years there was a marked specialization of different centers of the regional economy.
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DocLightning
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RE: Surely California High Speed Rail Is A Great Idea?

Fri Jul 20, 2012 7:54 pm

Quoting mham001 (Reply 45):
Why shouldn't it? I could see a case against Gilroy, but bypassing the engine of California's economy is ridiculous and will lose massive support for this project.

There are Express trains and trains with stops. That's how HSR works. Not every train needs to stop at every town every time. There would be multiple departures from each terminus every day, some of which wouldn't stop at all, some of which would make one or two stops.

Don't argue; this is how EVERY SINGLE SYSTEM IN THE WORLD works.

Quoting GEEZER (Reply 44):
the native Californians LOVE to DRIVE their gas-guzzlers, and fly in their airplanes, and ride their mountain bikes...................

Believe it or not, Californians do not love to drive. We are forced to drive for lack of other modalities. We especially do not love to drive from SF to LA. We do it because flying is obnoxiously expensive and inconvenient and the only alternative is the bus, which while cheaper on the trip, means that you have to rent a car at your destination.
-Doc Lightning-

"The sky calls to us. If we do not destroy ourselves, we will one day venture to the stars."
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LAXintl
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RE: Surely California High Speed Rail Is A Great Idea?

Fri Jul 20, 2012 10:49 pm

Quoting DocLightning (Reply 47):
Believe it or not, Californians do not love to drive

Well I do. Actually its one of the things I love most about America. Its the freedom to hop in your car and come and go as you wish. Plenty of roads, cheap gas, and plenty to do along the way.

Quoting DocLightning (Reply 47):
We do it because flying is obnoxiously expensive and inconvenient

Common Doc.

Expensive? DOT says the average fare was $105. I keep getting emails from VX, SWA, UA offering $59 fares in the market every other week. Plan ahead a bit, and you can easily score those tickets.

Inconvenient? You have 3 airports in the Bay Area, and 5 in SoCal to choose from. SWA alone has almost 100 flights per day each-way in the corridor.
From the desert to the sea, to all of Southern California
 
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Aaron747
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RE: Surely California High Speed Rail Is A Great Idea?

Sat Jul 21, 2012 1:18 am

Quoting LAXintl (Reply 48):
Well I do. Actually its one of the things I love most about America. Its the freedom to hop in your car and come and go as you wish. Plenty of roads, cheap gas, and plenty to do along the way.

The best thing about living on this side of the pond is the freedom to do both. If I don't feel like sitting in traffic, I can take a train just about anywhere that will get me there on time and without any hassle. Never have to fight for parking at the supermarket or anywhere else. If I want to drive, plenty of roads and things to do along the way for that, and the highways never have cracks or holes.
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