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Rail agency, Caltrain eye 'four-track' train line

Original post made on Mar 27, 2009

A proposed agreement between the agency overseeing Caltrain and the one responsible for building the new high-speed rail line has Palo Alto officials worried that the controversial project is moving too fast and in the wrong direction.

Read the full story here Web Link posted Friday, March 27, 2009, 4:52 PM

Comments (122)

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Posted by An Observer
a resident of Barron Park
on Mar 27, 2009 at 5:03 pm

It is becoming more and more clear that lawsuits are the only remedy for this. HSR is discounting all cities on the proposed line and ramming this through as fast as possible to halt any opposition and say "everything is already moving and its too late to change now".


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Posted by Walter_E_Wallis
a resident of Midtown
on Mar 27, 2009 at 5:20 pm

Walter_E_Wallis is a registered user.

The opposition to HSR continues to discuss it as a virgin project, as if there are no rails there now. Towns are divided NOW! Electrification is a done deal. Grade crossing elimination is way past due, and the law requires just compensation for taking. An existing rail corridor is going to receive much needed improvements. I agree that elevated tracks are out, and I consider the overcost of tunneling to be a waste of money. Far better to give everyone whose quality of life is impacted a million dollars walking around money.


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Posted by Railroad
a resident of College Terrace
on Mar 27, 2009 at 5:22 pm

Oh great. City Attorney Gary Baum is on the case. Can another federal investigation be far behind?


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Posted by An Observer
a resident of Barron Park
on Mar 27, 2009 at 6:08 pm

Walter Wallis, please cut the charade. Towns are not divided by the slow at-grade Caltrain that meanders by once and hour or once every half hour on weekdays with speeds of about 40mph through the towns. I know the "Caltrain already divides the towns and therefore impacts are low" is the High Speed Rails talking point, but its falling a little flat with anyone with a semblage of common sense.


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Posted by I Smell an HSR Funded Rat
a resident of Menlo Park
on Mar 27, 2009 at 6:08 pm

So, Walter, where do I sign up for my million dollars of "walking around money" as compensation for the negative impact on my future quality of life that HSR blasting through the peninsula will surely bring? Oh, and is that million dollars for quality of life degradation IN ADDITION to the real monetary loss in value of my property?

And what about the extra taxes I will surely be paying to cover our struggling schools and other infrastructure while the money gets shamefully, and quietly sucked into the HSR fund?

Would you be so cavalier if Rod Diridon were proposing to put the equivalent of another Highway 101 through the Caltrain corridor? That's essentially what we will have if this goes through - another highway - and yes, it will divide the peninsula far more than the existing CalTrain tracks do now.

I'd like my million dollars now, please - so that I can use the interest on that money to fight HSR. If HSR goes down in flames, I'll give the million dollars back.


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Posted by Walter_E_Wallis
a resident of Midtown
on Mar 27, 2009 at 6:43 pm

Walter_E_Wallis is a registered user.

Anyone who does not consider the existing railway a divider is kidding themselves. Anyone who considers diesels less disruptive than juice jacks is unfamiliar with reality.


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Posted by euro
a resident of Downtown North
on Mar 27, 2009 at 9:07 pm

Get over it people. Extricating penninsulans from their cars and off of planes will be painful. Go around the world and experience the joy of train travel. We need to suck it up and get this thing built. This smells of those who blew up the train tracks in the Santa Cruz mountains when they did away with the Sunshine Express train my grandmother road near highway 17 to get to the beach. I sense car companies, not Palo Altans are behind this latest frenzy.


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Posted by Howard
a resident of Crescent Park
on Mar 27, 2009 at 9:18 pm

I figure that the HSR will be at grade level with underpasses wherever there needs to be a crossing. So no 20 foot wall. (The tunnel would be better, but it's too costly). Although the grade level option is not so good for those who live along the tracks, it will be acceptable for everyone else. So that's what's going to happen.


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Posted by Palo Parent
a resident of Greenmeadow
on Mar 27, 2009 at 9:40 pm

Why would anyone pursue a HSR that starts in LA but dead-ends in SF and not SAC? Just won't happen.


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Posted by jt
a resident of another community
on Mar 27, 2009 at 10:43 pm

Good to see some level heads prevailing along with common sense. HSR is the future for California and won't be held hostage by a small group of people. People need to express their concerns and then be reasonable about their expectations rather than using hyperbole such as " destroy my way of life forever" and other such nonsense. This a a major urban area with 7 million and counting and any fantasy that folks are living in the wilderness should have been dispelled with by now.


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Posted by Another pissed off bay arean
a resident of Greenmeadow
on Mar 27, 2009 at 10:47 pm

at grade past Paly? forget it no chance just on safety grounds alone. I see all these out of town people showing up now encouraging this... no sorry this train is too damaging to peninsula towns. Go back to the drawing board or 101 or 280 which would be fine with all of us


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Posted by Another pissed off bay arean
a resident of Greenmeadow
on Mar 27, 2009 at 10:50 pm

hey euro does going around the world experiencing the joys of train travel apply to towns where schools and residences are directly on the tracks, I think not- please stop clouding this as an issue with trains, this is not an issue with trains, the entire issue is the ROUTE


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Posted by Martin Engel
a resident of Menlo Park
on Mar 27, 2009 at 10:58 pm

1. It will happen. Denial will only make the pain greater when the bulldozers show up.
2. I told you so five years ago. I told you so four, three, two, and one year ago. I'm telling so now. HSR is intent on imposing its overpriced train on all of us on the Peninsula. This is going to be painful and adversarial for a large number of people. Those who are not ready to sue, go to court and use every other legal means at our disposal may just as well lie down and let them run the trains right over us.
3. I told the ad hoc group planning the multi-cities coalition a month ago that this would be contentious and adversarial. I was politely dismissed for my harsh position.
4. No one, not Caltrain, not the High Speed Rail Authority, is going to give us what we want and need for free. They care about their trains. They don't care about us, our cities or our Peninsula. We all are just in their way. They are in the railroad business, not the people business.
5. We must organize, be prepared to spend funds on lawyers, and we must stand together. They will seek to deal with us individually. We must resist that.
6. People like Sue Lempert and many of the foul-mouthed bloggers are demanding that we shut up and make sacrifices for "the greater good" of this high priced train. That's a new version of Stalinism. Be prepared to be insulted by those who will benefit from the train and its rail cars full of money.
7. Their intention, Caltrain and HSR, is to do what is "quick and dirty" and cheapest. In any case, there will be staggering cost overruns. They will build what they can get away with. Caltrain already has plans for a berm through Atherton, Menlo Park, and probably Palo Alto, because it is the least costly.
8. Caltrain and HSR already have well defined plans "in their hip pocket." They know what they will end up with through the design process. They already know what the EIS/EIR will say, and what they will defend as the most appropriate alignment. Caltrain has documents, called "draft" documents, which they will not release unless they are court ordered under FOIA regulations.
9. After five years of being immersed full-time as a student of this wretched HSR process, I can only say that it is time for all of us to wake up and realize what we are in for. Remember, Kopp is responsible for the airport-BART connection, which is a failure. Diridon is responsible for the light-rail development in San Jose, another failure. Both experienced major cost overruns. Both failed to deliver on any promises. Why would the HSR project be any different? It will however be different, by many orders of magnitude,
due to its staggering costs.
10. Feel free to disagree, castigate me, and ridicule all the flaws in my argument.
Time will judge the veracity of what I am saying.
11. What can we do about it? Organize. Write letters. Protest to our officials.
Let the world know about our concerns. Raise funds; lawsuits cost money.
Do not, do not give in. The squeaky train wheel gets results. Dig out the facts. Get the truth. Be clear about what we want. Read, read, read. Do your homework and due diligence. Together, we can all make all the difference.


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Posted by Spokker
a resident of another community
on Mar 27, 2009 at 11:12 pm

Glad to see this thing is moving forward, at least with an agreement between Caltrain and the CHSRA.


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Posted by Spokker
a resident of another community
on Mar 27, 2009 at 11:13 pm

"Towns are not divided by the slow at-grade Caltrain that meanders by once and hour or once every half hour on weekdays with speeds of about 40mph through the towns."

More like every 15 minutes on weekdays, even more during rush hour, and plowing through at 79MPH.


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Posted by ODB
a resident of Midtown
on Mar 28, 2009 at 12:46 am

How many people who voted Yes on 1A can honestly say they studied the project and understood its impact on communities like Palo Alto before they voted? Clearly the Palo Alto city council didn't.

It's going to take more than a memo asking "pretty please" to change the course of HSR. It's too late to join the lawsuit thanks to the city council. Your best hope now is that the bonds don't sell.


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Posted by Spokker
a resident of another community
on Mar 28, 2009 at 12:49 am

"How many people who voted Yes on 1A can honestly say they studied the project and understood its impact on communities like Palo Alto before they voted?"

How many people who voted Yes on 1A actually cared about the impact on communities like Palo Alto?

By the way, did you intensely study every ballot measure before you voted on it? Did you spend hours going through the positions of every city council member? Are you a scholar of the local school board race?

Give me a break.


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Posted by jt
a resident of another community
on Mar 28, 2009 at 1:44 am

I knew exactly what they were going to do as far as running four tracks up the caltrain row and I don't even live down there. How can anyone suggest that people who live there and voted for 1a didnt know what they were voting on? I thought It was bunch of real smart folks down there.


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Posted by DVHW
a resident of Crescent Park
on Mar 28, 2009 at 5:09 am

We should look at this the other way and lobby for Palo Alto to be the peninsula stop for the train. Not only would it operate more slowly in Palo Alto, satisfying some of the NIMBYs, it would be a boost for our city and a convenience as well.


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Posted by PA_marcher
a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Mar 28, 2009 at 8:19 am

Rod Diridon and the CHSRA have misled the people of the Peninsula and here are the videos to prove it:

How Rod Diridon described the route the train would go in October 2008 (just weeks before the election)

Web Link

Rod saying hundreds of meetings held on the Peninsula - actual number held here before Jan 2009 - ZERO

Web Link

Here's a map showing where meetings were actually held and on what dates using data from CHSRA website

Web Link

Wanna know how they'll pay for it - this is what Diridon says "Guaranteed funding"

Web Link

The reality on the funding, online at the High-Speed Rail Authority's website, is that the private sector wants public sector guarantees if they will participate



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Posted by An Observer
a resident of Barron Park
on Mar 28, 2009 at 11:15 am

This morning I went to the HSR site to try to find the google map where they list the route and the proposed structure. This is the map.
Web Link

This map is not available under "Route", "Library" or "Gallery". If you try to find a search box on the site, which is not easy, and type in google map and hit <search., the site dies with a stack dump. Finally I used Google and Googled CA high speed rail google map, and found it. What a crock to claim information was readily available. What total, inexcusable, incoherent BS.


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Posted by Another pissed off bay arean
a resident of Greenmeadow
on Mar 28, 2009 at 11:38 am

Diridon is making presentations saying the only objections to this route from people on the peninsula are the people that live within 2 blocks of the train today, just more BS from the king of BS

One of our best HS will be ruined with this train


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Posted by Andrew Bogan
a resident of Evergreen Park
on Mar 28, 2009 at 11:47 am

Palo Alto Online wrote:

"Residents in the Southgate neighborhood, adjacent to the Caltrain corridor, have been particularly vehement in criticizing the above-ground alternative, which could require the rail authority to seize their properties through eminent domain in order to widen the rail right-of-way."

The necessary additional width for the rail right of way through Southgate is about 10 feet in most places, so nobody is really talking about the need to "seize their properties". It's more like seizing their back hedge row--for which they will be fully compensated according to extensive legal precedent, if their is any eminent domain. The largest "seizure" would be in Peers Park, and that too would be pretty minimal and I am confident that the missing trees can be replanted. Peers is my favorite Palo Alto park and a small expansion of the rail right of way for 4 tracks would not impact the park much at all.

See: Web Link

PA Online also said:

"The statement appears to contradict earlier assertions by rail-authority officials that all design options -- including running the high-speed rail through an underground tunnel -- are still on the table. "

This is just plain inaccurate reporting. Nothing about 4 tracks (which will almost certainly be required by any significant capacity increase by Caltrain in the future with or without HSR) puts tunneling off the table. CHSRA has clearly agreed to study tunneling options for all four tracks alongside above ground alignments in the EIR/EIS scope. I personally support tunneling and have advocated for it at every level of government. However, tunnels are very expensive and have their own issues. If the best alignment in Palo Alto ends up being above ground, not underground, I would still support it. HSR is a critically important transforming infrastructure improvement for all of California.

It is unfortunate to have so many uniformed and inaccurate comments on Palo Alto Online, but it is far worse to have uninformed reporting fanning the flames of selfish NIMBY interests. Please get your facts straight prior to writing inflammatory articles.



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Posted by Andrew Bogan
a resident of Evergreen Park
on Mar 28, 2009 at 11:50 am

Oops, that was supposed to read uninformed, not "uniformed" in the last paragraph.


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Posted by An Observer
a resident of Barron Park
on Mar 28, 2009 at 11:53 am

Andrew Bogan, come on really? So HSR seizes 10' of somebody's back yard, which means the trains are now 30'-40' away from their yard and this is supposed to be some kind of *win* for them? Is that where you'd want your kids to play?


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Posted by Jared
a resident of Stanford
on Mar 28, 2009 at 12:15 pm

Why do people think the at-grade crossings are so wonderful now and good for Palo Alto and the community? Caltrain in it's current form murders ~8-10 people a year. While some are suicides, some are true accidents.

Web Link

Isn't that reason enough to grade separate? Do Palo Altans like having at grade-crossings so near their schools? Are they waiting for one of their children to jump the crossing gate, only to be smashed by an unseen express train coming the other way? This has already happened before! By not grade separating, we allow more careless accidents to happen.

Driving in Palo Alto and Mountain View along the Caltrain corridor is already a huge pain during rush hour because of the frequency of trains. How much more divided can the city be?

In the end, HSR and removal of at grade crossings improves local transit service, can reduce Caltrain induced traffic problems, AND improve safety for Palo Alto residents.




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Posted by An Observer
a resident of Barron Park
on Mar 28, 2009 at 12:21 pm

Jared the problem with grade crossings is you wind up with the San Francisco freeway division problems. Here you go,,, look at the pictures in the first link.
Web Link
Web Link

These things just ruin communities which is why SF was so anxious to tear them all down. Now we are putting them up.


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Posted by Andrew Bogan
a resident of Evergreen Park
on Mar 28, 2009 at 12:53 pm

@An Observer

"Andrew Bogan, come on really? So HSR seizes 10' of somebody's back yard, which means the trains are now 30'-40' away from their yard and this is supposed to be some kind of *win* for them? Is that where you'd want your kids to play?"

Nobody said that possibly losing 10 feet of your backyard is a "win". At the same time, the discount that has traditionally been given to property values abutting rail right of ways across the United States as compared to houses further from the tracks in the same neighborhoods is precisely because a lot of people do not want their children playing close to trains, or they do not like the noise, or they don't like the dust, or they worry about the possibility of eminent domain affecting their property in the future, etc.

The tracks were there before Palo Alto became a city, so no current owner alongside them can claim to be surprised that there are trains in their backyard--in general they paid discounted prices for their houses precisely because of the proximity to the train tracks. The objection seems to be to any improvement of that train line that might impact the status quo. In fact, with or without HSR, Caltrain has extensive plans to electrify their tracks with overhead wires, and to remove as many dangerous at grade crossings as possible by 2025 so as to greatly increase train frequency on the route. Note that would mean most of the same problems as with HSR, but much less improvement to the train service.

I do not lack sympathy for someone who is disappointed or even shocked to learn that they *might* lose 10 feet of their yard, but it would be absurd to block a major state-wide project with many benefits to millions of future riders because a few suburban homes are somewhat negatively impacted. Nobody is talking about bulldozing neighborhoods here.

There are only about 100,000 people in Palo Alto, Menlo Park, and Atherton combined. That is less than 1/6 of the margin of victory that Prop 1A had in November. We should not expect a lot of sympathy from outside our towns, and it appears to me that we do not have it. We should be advocating for the best possible solution to get HSR through Palo Alto in the best way possible, but we need to be realistic about the costs. Trying to block the whole project just removes our voice from the planning process, which is a mistake with regard to our own interests.

I live near Southgate, a few blocks from the tracks. I agree that it is unfortunate that the right of way may not be wide enough in every part of every town to accommodate HSR, but I also understand cost/benefit analysis. Governments have to make decisions that do not benefit every single voter, that is precisely why they have eminent domain authority.

As for my children playing near the trains, we often go to Peers and Bowden Parks and my child loves watching the trains go by from the playgrounds.



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Posted by Engineer
a resident of South of Midtown
on Mar 28, 2009 at 1:03 pm

"HSR is a critically important transforming infrastructure improvement for all of California."

Andrew Bogan,

Please explain your statement in rational terms.

HSR will not reduce CO2 emissions, compared to automobiles, unless it is powered by electricity produced by nuclear power plants. It will increase sprawl, allowing commuting workers living far out in the Central Valley to work in the Bay Area. It will almost certainly require huge public funds to support it, including its operations. It is subject to major failures and downtime. It will divide cities. It will significantly increase traffic in those cities with stations.

What are the benefits, Andrew?


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Posted by Jared
a resident of Mountain View
on Mar 28, 2009 at 1:29 pm

Thank you to 'An Observer' for posting that link. It makes for an interesting read and something to consider. I hope the HSRA studies those lessons very closely.

While I can understand there is some benefit to removing freeways from dense urban environments like San Francisco, I'm not sure the same argument works for Palo Alto and HSR. We're not planning on redeveloping the Caltrain corridor, so we'll never get the added benefit of increased transit oriented shopping and housing. Furthermore, has the grade crossing at San Antonio 'ruined' that neighborhood? In fact, during the last few years it seems like that neighborhood has become revitalized with new shopping and housing. Even the old HP site ACROSS Alma has plans for new condos. And what about the crossing in downtown PA? That seems to have worked out decently well.

I don't think we can make blanket statements like 'all freeways are bad and should be torn down'. Even in the San Francisco case, western San Franciscans were very much for the freeways. Of course, all freeways and public works aren't automatically good. I think it'd be more constructive for peninsula cities to work with the HSRA, instead of opposing it after we voted for it.

[disclaimer: I mistakenly put Stanford as my residence before. I'm a stanford graduate student and spend the majority of my time there, but I am currently a Mountain View resident.]


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Posted by Andrew Bogan
a resident of Evergreen Park
on Mar 28, 2009 at 2:10 pm

@Engineer

Thanks for your comments, here are some thoughts, hopefully in terms rational enough for your tastes.

"HSR will not reduce CO2 emissions, compared to automobiles, unless it is powered by electricity produced by nuclear power plants."

Well, I would actually support more nuclear power, but your statement is not correct with or without increasing nuclear power production. Japan's decision to build the shinkansen in the 1960s was in part due to their national focus on energy conservation since they have no domestic fossil fuel resources of any significance. I have yet to see a report suggesting that HSR uses more energy to move passengers than the relevant alternatives (automobiles and airplanes). In fact, since it is electrically powered there is no local pollution (unlike automobiles or airplanes), but you are of course correct that some portion (probably a lot) of the mix of electricity generating capacity will emit carbon dioxide in order to power HSR, but the idea that it would be more carbon dioxide than expanding the current mix of automobile and air transport by a comparable passenger handling amount is simply not correct.

"It will increase sprawl, allowing commuting workers living far out in the Central Valley to work in the Bay Area."

HSR has generally decreased sprawl where it has been built in other countries by increasing densities around stations in lower population density cities (cities like Merced or Fresno). You are completely correct that HSR will make those communities commutable (at very high cost) to the Bay Area, but the claim that it drives sprawl is not supported by facts. If someone decided to commute to SF from Fresno regularly on HSR, they would likely choose to live very close to the Fresno HSR Station to minimize commute time, thereby decreasing sprawl in Fresno. If they drove from that distance (which few people do since it takes a long time) they would be best off living near a freeway on ramp--precisely the sprawl you dislike.

"It will almost certainly require huge public funds to support it, including its operations."

Public sector involvement is definitely required for an infrastructure project of this scale to be designed and built, but private companies operate HSR systems very profitably in many parts of the world. In Japan, JR Central and JR East are both private companies that operate parts of the shinkansen HSR network. The Taiwan HSR is only 2 years old, so it is hard to know how profitable its operations will be over time, but it was one of the largest private public partnership (PPP) developments in history with a private company involved in the classic build-operate-transfer PPP model. There is no certainty whatsoever to the long term need for public funding. It will depend on whether or not California can successfully copy foreign examples that have been successful. So far, it looks like they intend to do a PPP, possibly of the build-operate-transfer model, which bodes well for avoiding long term public subsidy.

"It is subject to major failures and downtime."

HSR operating histories are among the best of any transportation infrastructure in the world in terms of on time operation and passenger safety. All infrastructure is subject to some downtime and failures, but HSR is the best of breed in this regard, if you bother to learn the facts prior to writing comments.

"It will divide cities."

Only if the tracks go through cities, which they already do here on the Peninsula and have done for more than 100 years. I do not believe that any significant portion of the HSR plan involves building new tracks that would divide cities. Most sections that are not intended to be along existing track right of way are not in heavily populated cities (like the Pacheco Pass or the route through the Tehachapis).

"It will significantly increase traffic in those cities with stations."

This is possible, but by no means certain. For every Palo Alto-bound person arriving at SFO today, the vast majority currently drive to Palo Alto by car, bus, shuttle, or limo (a few ride BART and connect to Caltrain, which is very slow). If HSR allowed even 10-20% of those SFO passengers to get to Palo Alto by rail instead, it would reduce traffic significantly. I am eager to see proper traffic studies, but the assumption that car traffic would be significantly increased by HSR is not obvious. Tokyo Station is one of the busiest HSR hubs in the world and yet it has no parking. I recognize Palo Alto is a completely different size and type of city (I have lived in both), but there is nothing about Palo Alto that suggests a HSR Station here would have to bring any significant change to our traffic situation. It would almost certainly improve flow on 101, for example, by taking some drivers from SF to San Jose off the freeways. The grade separations of crossings would also improve traffic flow (as the Oregon Expressway underpass did years ago).


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Posted by PointOfView
a resident of Midtown
on Mar 28, 2009 at 3:22 pm

"Andrew Bogan" -

Your other points may or may not be valid; I don't know as much about them.

But Japan and Taiwan are very different scenarios for HSR because they already have successful mass transit infrastructure that HSR extends and leverages.

To comment about HSR finances, using Taiwan and Japan as examples to show that an HSR in California will be profitable, despite clear math showing the contrary, is misleading.

California does not have a surplus; it doesn't have the money for this project. It doesn't have successful mass transit to leverage, and it doesn't have the ability to create such transit.


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Posted by Engineer
a resident of South of Midtown
on Mar 28, 2009 at 4:06 pm

Andrew Bogan,

Thank you for you remarks. However, on every single point I believe you are wrong.

I have posted, several times on this forum, references which show that electric trains are NOT more energy efficient than automobiles, despite the inherent efficiencies of electric motors and rails. One needs to looks at all the energy loses along the line, from power generation to transmissions losses, to Ohmic losses within the electric motor/power train, to weight/passenger seat, to heating of passenger compartments, to wind drag, to overcoming grade inclines, etc. One must also consider that automobiles are heading towards electical power, and at that point automobiles will be more energy efficient compared to trains. Unless electrical power comes from nuclear power plants (e.g. France and Japan), HSR does not pencil, if one is considering a reduced CO2 footprint. If you can, somehow, overcome the laws of physics and pencil it for us, please let us know.

Sprawl will definitely increase around those hub stations in the Central Valley. It is a simple equation that people will make: It currently takes me two hours to commute into the Bay Area from Manteca...hmmm, I could live in Fresno, in the outer suburbs, drive 20 minutes to the hub, and still get to work in two hours. However one wants to think about it, sprawl will occur around the hubs.

All public transit trains are subsidized in this country. Ridership is completely unproven in this country. Japan and Taiwan are much smaller and denser countries. One should not compare apples and oranges. I will take it as a given that the public subsidy for HSR will be huge in the USA. It is up to the proponents of HSR to disprove this assertion.

HSR has a very short life history. It has yet to face a major disruption (major earthquakes, floods taking out bridges, terrorism, accidents, etc.). When the HSR is taken out for a period of time, there is no redundancy, unlike automobiles and roads and airplanes.

HSR will divide the cities that it travels through. This is what so many Palo Alto people are complaining about now.

A hub station in Palo Alto would absolutely increase local traffic, be it taxi cabs or private cars. People need to get to and from the hub, and they will not be walking there.



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Posted by Jay Tulock
a resident of another community
on Mar 28, 2009 at 4:18 pm

"Contradictory Statements". From the Rail Authority? Pray tell! How could this happen? Well, Palo Alto is finally seeing the light that Rod Diridon is a sinister, egocentric, lying, San Jose-centric, alien being. Once you know that, it all makes sesne, does it not?

Here is the bottom line, taken from an AP article by D. Hastings, that spells out the doomed fate of the California project. Moshed, Kopp and Diridon never wanted the bond to pass, for their incompetence and corruption are surfacing as the project goes into hight gear. From the article:

". . . . . plans to put a screaming bullet train through American towns with concentrated populations will always face hard challenges.

Which is part of the reason previous efforts failed in Florida, Texas and Southern California.

In 2000, development of a Florida high-speed rail service was approved by voters. Four years later, concerns about community impact and construction costs estimated at $20 billion to $25 billion drove voters to repeal it, ending plans for a Tampa-St. Petersburg-Orlando system, as well as a proposed second link from Orlando to Miami.

Still, the state has high-speed rail enthusiasts who want to tap Obama's $8 billion to resurrect the transit idea, including proposed routes that could include a link between Walt Disney World and Orlando International Airport.

In the 1990s, Texas awarded a 50-year high-speed rail franchise to an international consortium that claimed it could connect the "Texas Triangle" — Dallas, Houston and San Antonio — with a $5.6 billion rail system financed entirely with private funds.

Four years later, Texas canceled the project after cost estimates rose to $6.8 billion and the consortium failed to meet state deadlines. Bullet train plans have languished since then, though a grass-roots organization was formed in 2002 to bring fast rail service to Texas. Some die-hard supporters hope getting a piece of the stimulus money would reawaken high-speed rail desires. But many farmers and landowners along proposed routes fear losing their property to eminent domain.

California has one of the country's most tortured relationships with bullet trains.

In 1982, a hastily written $2 billion bullet train bill sailed through the closing days of the legislative session and was signed by then-Gov. Jerry Brown, a longtime cheerleader for fast rail. The measure specifically exempted the project from the state's strict environmental review process and allowed California to underwrite tax-exempt revenue bonds to help fund the 125-mile route between San Diego and Los Angeles that bragged of nonstop, 59-minute train service.

The system was never built. Led by a private company that included two former Amtrak officials, the project was ultimately abandoned for several reasons, including a barrage of protests from residents near proposed stations and public outcry over exempting it from environmental review."

The question is, will California revoke Prop. 1A NOW, or in several years? Will we line Moshed, Kopp and Diridon and their squishy friend's pockets for several years with several hundred million taxpayer dollars, or will we pull the plug now? It is up to YOU, Palo Alto, to stop mucking around in local politics and invest that same time into what will work -- putting the stake through the vampire's heart -- get an initiative on the ballot to repeal Prop. 1A !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Jay Tulock, Vacaville


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Posted by Andrew Bogan
a resident of Evergreen Park
on Mar 28, 2009 at 5:37 pm

@Engineer

"If you can, somehow, overcome the laws of physics and pencil it for us, please let us know."

I am reasonably well versed in the laws of physics, my PhD is in biophysics.

You wrote, "electric trains are NOT more energy efficient than automobiles".

As you know, this is debatable and depends a lot on the assumptions and on what you mean by "efficient". While you have your pencil out, explain to me how HSR is less energy efficient than air transport, since we all know that is the relevant alternative for tens of millions of trips per year between the Bay Area and LA. There is a reason that CHSRA calls the HSR "Fly California" and not "Drive California". The sharpness of your pencil will not help if you insist on making the wrong comparisons. Furthermore there are many relevant pollutants besides carbon dioxide, and where those get produced does matter a lot for air quality. Are you really arguing that building another major freeway system the size of Interstate 5 or US 101 is a better idea to handle California's growing future transit needs than HSR? I'd love to see the NIMBY reaction to that project.

"Sprawl will definitely increase around those hub stations in the Central Valley. It is a simple equation that people will make: It currently takes me two hours to commute into the Bay Area from Manteca...hmmm, I could live in Fresno, in the outer suburbs, drive 20 minutes to the hub, and still get to work in two hours. However one wants to think about it, sprawl will occur around the hubs."

Sorry, but your own example does not work. In the above example one person is removed from Manteca and one is added to the Fresno suburbs. Where is the sprawl? Population growth is the problem for sprawl, HSR helps to control sprawl and accommodate travel needs for a growing population. Every HSR station will be essentially required to have transit oriented development constructed around it. This is the definition of reducing sprawl in planning and urban development: clustering people into denser (i.e less sprawling) communities around transit hubs. The data on this is pretty clear from both European and Asian HSR networks, please go read the studies.

"All public transit trains are subsidized in this country."

False. The Acela train in the Northeast has been profitable in several operating years. Note that of Amtrak's subsidy laden mess, the most profitable line is the highest speed one. Coincidence?

"It is up to the proponents of HSR to disprove this assertion."

Already did.

"HSR has a very short life history."

If you call since the 1960s when the first shinkansen opened from Tokyo to Osaka a short life history, then I'm not sure what modern transportation mode has a long life history. Hybrid cars have a lot shorter life history than that by far, but the one my wife drives seems to work well, it too was made in Japan.

"It has yet to face a major disruption (major earthquakes, floods taking out bridges, terrorism, accidents, etc.)."

You do not have to agree with me, but spreading blatantly false information is pretty unusual for someone calling himself "Engineer". The seismic environments in Japan and Taiwan are as active as in California, or more so. A major earthquake derailed a Joetsu Shinkansen train in Niigata Prefecture on 23 October 2004. Not one passenger was killed, nor has one ever been killed in an accident in Japan's decades-long HSR history. Compare that to car passenger deaths on 101 or 280, or in Oakland during the Loma Prieta quake. One reference on earthquake safety for Japanese HSR train sets is at:
Web Link

"HSR will divide the cities that it travels through."

Yes, just like Caltrain already does, except traffic flow will be improved by removing all of the at grade crossings, which are a major rush-hour nuisance all along the Peninsula, except where grade separated crossings were built long ago, like at the Oregon Expressway and San Antonio.

"A hub station in Palo Alto would absolutely increase local traffic, be it taxi cabs or private cars. People need to get to and from the hub, and they will not be walking there."

It seems reasonable to me that a Palo Alto HSR station *could* increase traffic, but it is not certain that it *would*, since many factors are involved. Let's wait for a proper traffic study before claiming to know the answer to this open question. One current plan would put a parking structure for HSR (and thus Caltrain, too, on El Camino Real, which has much more traffic capacity than Alma. Even if a HSR Station did lead to more cars in and out of the Station, traffic flows could still be improved by the grade separations of crossings and moving traffic off Alma and out of Downtown Palo Alto onto El camino Real. Nobody really cares much about the number of cars driving on a road, they care about waiting in traffic.

Also, the reduction of regional traffic through Palo Alto on 101 and 280 is much more important in many ways (like your favorite carbon dioxide emissions) than the possibility of some additional local trips. If the Station design is done correctly, a lot of passengers on HSR will arrive at Palo Alto on Caltrain and transfer to the express HSR. Remember, Palo Alto already has the second highest ridership of any station on Caltrain (after SF), which is precisely why it is a candidate location for the mid-Peninsula HSR station.



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Posted by Andrew Bogan
a resident of Evergreen Park
on Mar 28, 2009 at 5:45 pm

@Jay Tulock

For someone who claims expertise in railway engineering and consulting, simply recapping a recent article from the AP is not very impressive. Thanks for the summary, but I already read the article in the San jose Mercury News yesterday. I noticed you left out the quotes in the article from President Obama and Secretary LaHood on the importance of HSR for our country, and it being America's #1 transportation priority under the Obama administration.

Also, your vitriol and personal attacks against Rod Diridon, who has dedicated his career in politics to expanding public transit in the Bay Area, does not add to your credibility. Nobody has to like Mr. Diridon, but a "sinister" "alien being"? At least you use your real name to sign your comments, I appreciate that.


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Posted by Walter_E_Wallis
a resident of Midtown
on Mar 28, 2009 at 5:54 pm

Walter_E_Wallis is a registered user.

The Frisco Freeway Revolt was about as brilliant as would have been a flush toilet revolt. Frisco is the only major city to my knowledge where through traffic is dropped onto city streets to add their stop and go smog to the aura. Add their barbarous and unconstitutional tow away racket and you wonder if terminating HSR in Palo Alto or San Jose and letting Frisco wither away might serve us all better.


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Posted by Andrew Bogan
a resident of Evergreen Park
on Mar 28, 2009 at 6:26 pm

@Point of View

"But Japan and Taiwan are very different scenarios for HSR because they already have successful mass transit infrastructure that HSR extends and leverages."

Your point is well taken and we should all also be advocating for improved transit networks at the major terminal stations. 1/10 of the California Prop 1A bonds are already dedicated to improving "feeder transit" and cannot be used directly by HSR.

This is an important point about mass transit infrastructure, but let us not forget that the San Francisco Transbay terminus that is planned for HSR at Mission and First will connect to Caltrain, BART, SF MUNI light rail, SF MUNI buses, AC Transit, and Greyhound at the very least. It is also a pleasant walk to the SF Ferry Building from there. Not exactly a "no transit" scenario. I agree that Tokyo is higher density and has a better subway than SF, but many other shinkansen stations in Japan (like Kyoto and many smaller cities) have considerably less transit connectivity than is planned for SF and LA. Also, the subway system in Taipei is not all that extensive: technically six "lines", but basically it is just a cross with two north-south and one east-west. I have ridden it several times. It is not much different from the LA Subway, light rail, and commuter line networks actually.

LA: Web Link
Taipei: Web Link;

"To comment about HSR finances, using Taiwan and Japan as examples to show that an HSR in California will be profitable, despite clear math showing the contrary, is misleading."

Not sure which "clear math" you were referring to, but if they do the project with a design-build-transfer PPP structure, it has a pretty good chance of operating profitably. Japan and Taiwan are not the only examples of successful HSR operators. French National Railways (SNCF), a public sector government-owned company, operates their HSR (the TGV) profitably as well. The 'California is not Japan or Taiwan' argument does not really hold up, since HSR is working well and being operated profitably nearly everywhere it has been built (Japan, Korea, China, Taiwan, France, Germany, Spain, etc). Obviously California is not Taiwan. Nor is Spain very similar to Japan, but HSR is working beautifully in both countries.

"California does not have a surplus; it doesn't have the money for this project. It doesn't have successful mass transit to leverage, and it doesn't have the ability to create such transit."

I just don't subscribe to the "No we can't" philosophy that has become popular lately in America. Japan has one of the highest debt to GDP ratios of any developed nation. No surplus there, but they still operate HSR trains profitably with private companies on government owned tracks and it is a great way to travel. California already approved issuing $10 billion in bonds for HSR and last week, the State showed that demand for California bonds has finally returned to the muni bond markets, despite our state's lousy credit rating. Lots of the funding for this will be federal and if the PPP plans go forward, a lot will also be from private investors. Even the Chunnel/Eurostar debacle (and no we are not tunneling under any channels here) has been successfully restructured and attracted private investors with great success in recent years (including Goldman Sachs's infrastructure fund, I believe).

As for successful mass transit, I agree that SF MUNI and BART are not as good as the Tokyo Metro or the Seoul Subway (I have lived and worked in all three cities), but it's better than most American city transit networks and as good as some in mid-sized cities in Asia (Kyoto just built a subway a few years ago). As for California's population density, it is similar in the urban centers that HSR will serve with stations to the European and Asian comparisons that I have made. HSR does not require Seoul or Tokyo sized urban centers to work well. Look at Lyon, Barcelona, or Brussels if you do not like Asian comparisons.

Imagine if someone in Korea or Japan a few decades back had said, we don't want airports and freeways, they only work in America. Proven infrastructure tends to work well in a variety of countries and cultures, HSR is no different.


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Posted by Jay Tulock
a resident of another community
on Mar 28, 2009 at 6:41 pm

Mr. BoganifthatisyourrealnamerightbackatyouandIdontcareifitisornot,

You are a Diridon supporter. That says it all.

That AP article was one of the few articles of late that got the nature of HSR in America correct. I didn't quote it for you, I quoted it for those who did not see it. I agree with the general comments of our leaders about HSR, as such. 'You notice I left out' is a cheap tactic, you could say that about anything anyone left out. Your long ramblings are boring and about the only ones I do not read, not because of the opinion, but one could say what you are saying in one quarter the words. Yawn. You defend Diridon for what, championing poorly designed and overly expensive transit projects. That says it all.

Jay Tulock, Vacaville


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Posted by Andrew Bogan
a resident of Evergreen Park
on Mar 28, 2009 at 6:52 pm

@ PA_marcher

Many thanks for posting the various links to YouTube clips of Rod Diridon's comments at City Hall and also thanks to whomever edited and posted them to YouTube, the efforts are much appreciated. You also said:

"The reality on the funding, online at the High-Speed Rail Authority's website, is that the private sector wants public sector guarantees if they will participate."

I am unaware of a single infrastructure PPP anywhere in the world that does not have specific public sector guarantees to the private investors. They also invariably have many private sector guarantees to the government authorities involved. That is why it is called a "partnership", both parties have explicit rights and obligations under the agreement and both parties share some of the risks and rewards involved in designing, building, operating, maintaining, and eventually transferring the assets back to the public sector.


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Posted by Another pissed off bay arean
a resident of Greenmeadow
on Mar 28, 2009 at 7:03 pm

Wow Walter_E_Wallis, can you be any more provincial? Is it even possible? Well no, in fact I don't think it is. You have really just made an incredible fool of yourself. San Francisco has experienced the most significant economic renaissance of any city in the nation in the past 20 years- I guess the fact that they blocked freeways into their city didn't manage to destroy their economic growth. Although it did probably stop ignorants like you from visiting there.


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Posted by Andrew Bogan
a resident of Evergreen Park
on Mar 28, 2009 at 7:12 pm

@Jay Tulock

"You are a Diridon supporter. That says it all."

Nope. I am a High Speed Rail supporter, because I have lived near HSR stations in two countries. After traveling on HSR trains extensively in both countries and subsequently in some others, I realized that HSR is a fantastic way to travel and I hope to someday travel on HSR in California and elsewhere in America.

I am no more a "Diridon supporter" than a "Tulock supporter". I just do not think calling people "sinister alien beings" is appropriate and I call neither you nor Mr. Diridon anything of the sort.


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Posted by Clem
a resident of another community
on Mar 28, 2009 at 8:38 pm

My reaction to this article is that very few people seem to understand the meaning of the phrase "grade separation". A grade-separated right of way simply means that roads and tracks do not meet at grade; they are vertically separated in some fashion. A rail tunnel is a form of grade separation, among others.

Grade separation concerns the vertical dimension, whereas number of tracks concerns the horizontal dimension. They have nothing to do with each other, and talking about four tracks does not imply that the tunnel idea is being dropped.

(however unaffordable that idea will be... see my letter to the editor in Friday's daily news.)

@Engineer

> I have posted, several times on this forum, references which show that electric trains are NOT more energy efficient than automobiles

Those "references" I've seen you use describe rail in terms of 1950s overweight US passenger rail cars. Hardly a contemporary basis of comparison. Did you have some other reference that I might have missed?

- Clem (in another community known as San Carlos)


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Posted by Walter{E_Wallis
a resident of Midtown
on Mar 28, 2009 at 8:42 pm

Frisco, like Disneyland, survives as a tourist attraction. They blew containers away to Oakland, ran off the military and navy that made them, and nickle dimed productive enterprises. Just as the phone company discovered a Frisco location was not worth the hassle, even Gianini's bank moved to Atlanta


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Posted by I Smell an HSR Funded Rat
a resident of Menlo Park
on Mar 28, 2009 at 10:18 pm

Andrew Bogan,

Above, you made the following comment to Jay Tullock:
<I am no more a "Diridon supporter" than a "Tulock supporter". I just do not think calling people "sinister alien beings" is appropriate and I call neither you nor Mr. Diridon anything of the sort.>

Prior that comment, but in this same thread, you refer to those of us who are against HSR as suffering from "selfish NIMBY interests".

Appropriate???


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Posted by Andrew Bogan
a resident of Evergreen Park
on Mar 28, 2009 at 10:40 pm

Actually, as you know, "NIMBY" means "not in my back yard", which is just about the definition of selfish. I, too, have some selfish interests, like my desire for the mid-Peninsula HSR station to be located in my home town of Palo Alto, instead of up the road in Redwood City. As it turns out, my selfish interest fits well with overall Caltrain ridership numbers of lots of other people, since Palo Alto is the #2 station for ridership on Caltrain after SF.

There are some people who oppose HSR for reasons other than selfish NIMBY interests. I personally have more respect for those views (like concerns about cost overruns or unchecked union control of the final project, like seems to have happened with BART) than for people who care solely about the impact to their personal property and have no concern for the effect on the entire state of blocking a major infrastructure project. From my own experience attending community and City Council meetings relating to HSR, many of the most outspoken opponents literally have the Caltrain tracks in their back yards. That is the literal definition of NIMBYism, nothing inappropriate about it.

To be clear, I also have some respect for selfish NIMBY interests, since they tend to be sincere and deeply held. It is only sensible to care about your own property. I just do not believe that a few suburban homeowners should be able to veto entire state-wide infrastructure projects because they might lose a hedge-row to eminent domain.


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Posted by Connie
a resident of Ventura
on Mar 28, 2009 at 11:11 pm

It's the hedge row and the quality of life. The trains right now are bad enough (every visitor to the house asks us how we can stand it). It'll be 10x or more worse with any HSR plan except for a tunnel.

So fine, pay me $2M so I can move to another house in the same school district, and you can have your HSR right through my current living room if you want.

Let's talk compensation levels.


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Posted by Richard Staehnke
a resident of Fairmeadow
on Mar 28, 2009 at 11:18 pm

Mr. Bogan you said imagine if someone in Korea or Japan a few decades back had said we don't want freeways or airports, they only work in America. God if only someone had said that here! Actually many did. Alas as usual the enlightened never listen. Throw in public transportation, expressways, high density housing, and a never ending effort to build on every blade of grass in town and I would call this person prescient.
All that most residents want is a quiet, safe, little piece of property in this beautiful city of Palo Alto and HSR is just another boondoggle that will serve very, very few who actually live here.
Hey why don't we route it through Palo Alto Hills, Los Altos Hills, Saratoga, Los Gatos and any other beautiful area we can think of. Naw they probably would object we better just leave it down here in the slums where it belongs.


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Posted by Spokker
a resident of another community
on Mar 29, 2009 at 12:30 am

HOP ABOARD THE BOONDOGGLE EXPRESS

High speed rail will ruin our poor villages. Here's an artists conception of how HSR will impact our communities. Is this what you want your kids playing next to?

Web Link

Not on my watch...


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Posted by Spokker
a resident of another community
on Mar 29, 2009 at 12:31 am

"The trains right now are bad enough (every visitor to the house asks us how we can stand it)"

I thought Caltrain was a good neighbor and trains only travel 40MPH and do not divide cities at all...

Hm?


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Posted by Walter_E_Wallis
a resident of Midtown
on Mar 29, 2009 at 2:32 am

Walter_E_Wallis is a registered user.

Connie, you have it right. The tracks are there, taking is constitutional, so the question is adequate compensation. I would suggest it would be enough to purchase equivalent housing in the same neighborhood.


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Posted by bikes2work
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Mar 29, 2009 at 9:27 am

Connie has the right idea.

If the HSR Authority is wise they will start to buy up the properties along the tracks now. There are at least 2 houses along the tracks in Southgate for sale right now. With $10 billion to spend, they should just start buying those houses right now.

I think the benefits of eliminating the at-grade crossings will be a huge benefit to Palo Alto, Menlo Park, Mountain View and every other Peninsula City that suffers from Caltrain. It is unfortunate for the backyards of Park Blvd and Southgate, but the benefits to the whole community (i.e. removal of grade crossings & electrification of Caltrain) are well worth it.


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Posted by HBR
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Mar 29, 2009 at 9:53 am

There is an important discussion right now on the California High Speed Rail Blog concerning the impact of the letter submitted to the HSRA by Union Pacific for scoping comments for the Joint EIR/EIS. A link to the letter is found in the first paragraph.

Here is the link to the blog:
Web Link

Comments may be linked to at the end of the blog discussion. Here is the link:

Web Link



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Posted by PA_Marcher
a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Mar 29, 2009 at 10:15 am

@Andrew Bogdan

Thanks Andrew. I know you are an avid rail supporter. I have read many of your comments on other blogs. I agree that this will be a partnership. However, CAHSRA has gone out of its way to say that this will be a profitable business. I'm sure you know that this is just not likely. Mass transit is always subsidized - so to go around saying that this will provide billions in profits is just false and misleading.

Investment in infrastructure is always expensive but important. I agree that the US is sadly behind other countries in terms of rail. But, let's face it - these are our tax dollars at work. I want the project done right - with oversight, transparency and people taking responsibility for the decisions they make. There is no easy answer - I get that. But I won't stand for people misleading others to get what they want. It only builds mistrust and if we want this to be successful - it has to stop now.


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Posted by Andrew Bogan
a resident of Evergreen Park
on Mar 29, 2009 at 10:38 am

@PA_Marcher

I don't know that it is "just not likely" that HSR could be a profitable business. I have given many examples where HSR is a profitable business, at least on an operating basis, in Asia and Europe. If a PPP is structured well, the HSR operating company would have a good chance of operating profitably, though that is definitely not a certainty. However, there is little question that if Acela were spun out of Amtrak into a stand alone private business that it could be operated even more profitably than it already is. That suggests that profitable HSR in America is clearly possible. Mass transit subsidy is about politics and organized labor, it is not true that mass transit has to be subsidized. It is not subsidized in many places where private operators run metro systems, like Hong Kong (MTR) and Singapore (MRT).

By the way, I agree completely that some statements out of CHSRA have been inconsistent or misleading to some people, and that is clearly unhelpful. I also have pretty low expectations for the honesty and transparency of any government body, so sadly I am not surprised.


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Posted by Richard Staehnke
a resident of Fairmeadow
on Mar 29, 2009 at 10:43 am

Yes, yes we should always sneak around and buy up individual properties and their rights. This lesson was perfected in Southern California with their water wars and worked like a dream ( nightmare ). If it hadn't been for this wonderful for the greater good strategy we wouldn't have 30 million southerners guzzling our precious waters, drying up rivers then spewing agricultural chemical waste back at us as a reward. Lest not forget the dazzling record railroads have had in the past concerning human and property rights. They always have our best interest in mind. Right?


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Posted by Anna
a resident of Downtown North
on Mar 29, 2009 at 11:14 am

The idea that HSR represents a profit opportunity is fantasy. There is a reason that CaHSRA is a state agency using state issued bonds: private investors don't think it will be profitable.

There is currently much doubt that the partial private funding envisioned in the HSR proposal will be there.


HSR will be an expensive drain on California's budget for years to come (unless we're fortunate enough to find a way to stop it legally.)


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Posted by Andrew Bogan
a resident of Evergreen Park
on Mar 29, 2009 at 12:07 pm

@Anna

"The idea that HSR represents a profit opportunity is fantasy."

It is hard to convince me that a model that has proven effective in other countries a "fantasy".

"There is a reason that CaHSRA is a state agency using state issued bonds: private investors don't think it will be profitable."

First of all, state issued bonds are, in fact, sold to investors, most of them private investors. There is no way a private company could borrow enough money up front (i.e sell corporate bonds instead of state ones) to build a massive infrastructure project that will clearly require myriad state and federal government approvals throughout its design. That is precisely why large infrastructure projects are either public sector alone or private public partnerships in essentially every country on Earth.

Secondly, I have heard a range of opinions among various private equity infrastructure investors as to whether or not HSR in California will be profitable. Many think that it will be, at least on an operating basis, if the PPP is structured correctly and construction is not indefinitely delayed by opposition groups. Some foreign public sector companies have also expressed interest recently in operating California HSR (like France's SNCF did at a conference this month: Web Link).


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Posted by Spokker
a resident of another community
on Mar 29, 2009 at 12:28 pm

"The idea that HSR represents a profit opportunity is fantasy. There is a reason that CaHSRA is a state agency using state issued bonds: private investors don't think it will be profitable."

That's why when it was time to build an Interstate Highway System Eisenhower rightfully left the job to private investors who were ready to invest in such a profitable venture.


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Posted by Spokker
a resident of another community
on Mar 29, 2009 at 12:43 pm

First of all, all modes of transport are subsidized. The Texas Department of Transportation has said, "Some roads pay for about half their true cost, but most roads we have analyzed pay for considerably less." Web Link

Here are some examples around the world of mass transit systems that exceed or almost meet their operational costs with fares.

Hong Kong MTR 149%
Osaka (Hankyu Railway) 123%
Osaka (OMTB) 137%
Taipei Rapid Transit System 119%
Teito RTA (now Tokyo Metro) 170%
London Underground 84%
Toronto, Canada (GO Transit) 89.4%

Here are some transit systems that meet or exceed half their operational costs with fares, that is to say, they meet the highest standards set in Texas.

New Jersey Transit 56%
Philadelphia (SEPTA) 58.6%
Las Vegas Monorail 56.0% (lol, not to say that I am or was a supporter of this project)
Washington, DC (WMATA) 61.6%
Montreal (STM) 57.1%

Locally, BART's farebox recovery ratio is about 45% and Caltrain's is 41%. I know that Metrolink's (SoCal commuter rail) ratio hovers around 50% and the Pacific Surfliner (intercity rail between SD-LA-SLO) is around 70-75%.

We're all being subsidized, no matter how we get around, so I'm not sure what the point of throwing that tired old argument is.


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Posted by Anna
a resident of Downtown North
on Mar 29, 2009 at 1:13 pm

You all are talking about operating costs. In a capital intensive venture like rail, capital costs are a huge percentage of the overall costs. Including these costs - even under the doubtful assmptions about operating costs and margins used by HSR supporters - HSR will not be profitable to the taxpayers.

The fact the Interstate Highway system was subsidized by the government - a mistake in my opinion - certainly does not justify subsidization of another union boondoggle. (Interestingly enough, there have been recent privately funded toll roads constructed in other states that have resulted in highway construction without costs to taxpayers. The reason that HSR doesn't use this model is because the economics don't work for HSR when you include capital costs. For some highways, they do.)


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Posted by Spokker
a resident of another community
on Mar 29, 2009 at 1:26 pm

"In a capital intensive venture like rail, capital costs are a huge percentage of the overall costs. Including these costs - even under the doubtful assmptions about operating costs and margins used by HSR supporters - HSR will not be profitable to the taxpayers."

Just.

Like.

Roads.

"The fact the Interstate Highway system was subsidized by the government - a mistake in my opinion - certainly does not justify subsidization of another union boondoggle."

I'm not sure why you feel that way. Having a national interstate highway system has been a huge boon for this country, just like high speed rail will be.

"(Interestingly enough, there have been recent privately funded toll roads constructed in other states that have resulted in highway construction without costs to taxpayers."

Which ones? The reason I ask is because the examples I know of went kaput. In fact, one toll road I know of had a clause in its contract that said the local transportation agency could not upgrade or widen the non-toll portions of the freeway, in order to make the toll roads more competitive. The private company still sold it back to a government agency because they didn't want it.


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Posted by Spokker
a resident of another community
on Mar 29, 2009 at 1:30 pm

The 91 Express Lanes between Orange County and Riverside County: Web Link

"The express lanes have been controversial because of a "non-compete" agreement that the state made with CPTC. The clause, which was negotiated by Caltrans and never was brought to the legislature, prevent any improvements along 30 miles (48 km) of the Riverside Freeway to ensure profit for the express lanes. This includes restricting the state from widening the free lanes or building mass transit near the freeway. CPTC filed a lawsuit against Caltrans over freeway widening related to the interchange with the Eastern Transportation Corridor interchange, which was dismissed once the purchase with OCTA was finalized."

THE FREE-MARKET AT WORK.


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Posted by anon.
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Mar 29, 2009 at 5:35 pm

Andrew states:
"the necessary additional width for the rail right of way through Southgate is about 10 feet in most places, so nobody is really talking about the need to "seize their properties". It's more like seizing their back hedge row--for which they will be fully compensated according to extensive legal precedent"
Have you seen how big some of the backyards are???? My fiances is only 20 feet so that's half his back yard!


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Posted by anon.
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Mar 29, 2009 at 5:37 pm


Connie has the right idea.
Bikes to work:

"If the HSR Authority is wise they will start to buy up the properties along the tracks now. There are at least 2 houses along the tracks in Southgate for sale right now. With $10 billion to spend, they should just start buying those houses right now.

I think the benefits of eliminating the at-grade crossings will be a huge benefit to Palo Alto, Menlo Park, Mountain View and every other Peninsula City that suffers from Caltrain. It is unfortunate for the backyards of Park Blvd and Southgate, but the benefits to the whole community (i.e. removal of grade crossings & electrification of Caltrain) are well worth it."

That is the most selfish statement I've ever heard. Taking 10 feet of a 20 foot backyard is highway robbery.


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Posted by anon.
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Mar 29, 2009 at 5:40 pm

Walter:

"Connie, you have it right. The tracks are there, taking is constitutional, so the question is adequate compensation. I would suggest it would be enough to purchase equivalent housing in the same neighborhood."

The tracks are not there. There is not enough room for them. The train should go along 101, or 280. Oh, there's not enough room there? Just take out one car lane in each direction. They won't be needed anyways since everyone will be riding the train.


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Posted by Andrew Bogan
a resident of Evergreen Park
on Mar 29, 2009 at 6:14 pm

@Anna

"Interestingly enough, there have been recent privately funded toll roads constructed in other states that have resulted in highway construction without costs to taxpayers."

Really? Which ones?

If you are talking about the recent PPPs on the Indiana Toll Road (with Macquarie and Cintra) or the similar deal for the Chicago Skyway, you are mistaken. Neither of those toll road PPPs involved building the road. The Indiana Toll Road has been part of the interstate highway system (which you dislike for reasons beyond my understanding) for decades. The Chicago Skyway was there when my grandfather lived in Chicago.

As for operating costs versus capital costs, unless the state cedes ownership of the infrastructure to the operating company (which they very rarely do) there is no basis for expecting the private partner to put up all the capital costs, since the state owns the asset. Look at the details of the Indiana Toll Road PPP: Macquarie paid a large sum of money to Indiana for an operating concession with a defined lifetime. They do not own the road, the State of Indiana does. They have an obligation to maintain the roadway up to defined standards and they can collect tolls (within specified guidelines) to cover their operating costs and generate some operating profit margin. They take on all the future traffic risk (which has been a big issue for them in this recession) and hope to operate the road within the guidelines of their PPP at a profit. The benefit of a PPP like this is that Macquarie has a profit incentive to run and maintain the road efficiently, unlike the State of Indiana which had a political incentive to pay too much for maintenance and for union toll collectors.

The proposed PPP model for HSR is a bit more like the one you speculated about: it's a build-operate-transfer model. A private company would help to pay for some, but not all, of the costs of construction in order to receive the operating concession for the HSR line once they build it. The state would also help to pay for the construction, since the state will own whatever gets built forever. The private company then has an incentive to build the project as cost effectively as possible (which the state does not) and to operate it at a profit for their concession period to make up the portion of the capital costs they put up and the operating costs that they bear. The state, after something like 30 years (sometimes longer), then gets the operating rights transferred back to it. The state can then sell those rights again, since they own the infrastructure, potentially for a significant return.

PPPs for transportation infrastructure have worked well around the world, especially in Australia and East Asia. We have a lot to learn from those examples here in America.


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Posted by Spokker
a resident of another community
on Mar 29, 2009 at 6:35 pm

"That is the most selfish statement I've ever heard. Taking 10 feet of a 20 foot backyard is highway robbery."

Clem (A guy who absolutely distrusts the California High Speed Rail Authority by the way) over at the Caltrain compatibility blog estimates that about four acres of land taking will be needed. Four acres. That's it. Web Link

Four acres in order to build a quick, efficient mode of transportation in a state plagued with congestion.

Doesn't sound selfish to me.


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Posted by Lies are lies
a resident of Fairmeadow
on Mar 29, 2009 at 6:37 pm

Why is it okay that Rod Diridon, a High Speed Rail Commissioner, LIED about the funding? He is caught on video tape. He repeats the same lie in a different form several times during the same meeting. Why should we trust anything this guy says? This is not meant to be inflammatory. This is a real question.


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Posted by Hmm
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Mar 29, 2009 at 6:42 pm

Andrew Bogan wrote:

"I have heard a range of opinions among various private equity infrastructure investors as to whether or not HSR in California will be profitable. Many think that it will be, at least on an operating basis, if the PPP is structured correctly and construction is not indefinitely delayed by opposition groups. Some foreign public sector companies have also expressed interest recently in operating California HSR"

"Many" private equity infrastructure investors? I can't recall the last time I talked to "one" private equity infrastructure investor. Are you sure you don't have, or plan to obtain, any financial interest in companies that will profit from HSR or the development that will accompany it?


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Posted by Andrew Bogan
a resident of Evergreen Park
on Mar 29, 2009 at 7:30 pm

@Hmm

"I can't recall the last time I talked to "one" private equity infrastructure investor. Are you sure you don't have, or plan to obtain, any financial interest in companies that will profit from HSR or the development that will accompany it?"

Quite sure. As discussed here before, my firm invests in public equities (that is listed stocks) in the areas of science, technology, and infrastructure, not in the private equity structures of public private partnerships (PPPs). I do, however, know many private equity infrastructure investors around the world, since they often attend the same infrastructure conferences that I do. Many private equity infrastructure funds have been launched in the past few years by firms like Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley. Others, like those managed by Macquarie and Babcock & Brown in Sydney have been around for decades.

My interest in and support for HSR in California, as I have said many times here and elsewhere, comes from having lived close to HSR stations in both Tokyo and Seoul. HSR is a fantastic way to travel. I hope someday we have the same opportunities here in California.


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Posted by bikes2work
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Mar 29, 2009 at 7:41 pm

@ anon.

So did you ever use Oregon Expressway from El Camino to 101? That road took out a whole bunch of houses when it was widened. Sometimes the greater good requires eminent domain. This proposed rail project is not even expected to take the whole property.

P.S. My own back yard is only about 10 feet wide. It is still big enough for a BBQ. :-)


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Posted by Andrew Bogan
a resident of Evergreen Park
on Mar 29, 2009 at 7:44 pm

@spokker

Thanks for your post on rail subsidy, it was excellent. Did anyone besides me notice that in your above list of profitable mass transit and subsidized mass transit that the private companies (like Hong Kong MTR and Osaka's Hankyu) are top of the list and the public sector operators (like BART, Caltrain, and NJ Transit) are close to the bottom. Coincidence?

My interest in seeing California HSR done as a PPP is to avoid it being hi-jacked by inefficient unions, as seems to have happened with BART. Hong Kong MTR has been a very successful model and is a private company. Same story with Hankyu Railway in Osaka.


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Posted by I Smell an HSR Funded Rat
a resident of Menlo Park
on Mar 29, 2009 at 8:03 pm

To "Hmmm":

Please understand just who Andrew Bogan is, and it will give you some insight into why he's investing so much time and research into shoving the HSR boondogle right up the Peninsula. I don't buy for a minute that it's just because he wants to ride a fast train to LA.

Andrew has admitted on another HSR thread to being the Andrew Bogan from Bogan Associates, LLC. Here's a link to his bio on the Bogan Associates web page:
Web Link

Bogan Associates does investment in infrastructure projects. You can find this quote... "Many of the opportunities in infrastructure have the attractive characteristics of natural monopolies." ... on the following page of their site:
Web Link

Bogan Associates is based in Boston, MA.

Hmmm, Boston ... site of The Big Dig, that huge infrastructure project that went WAY over budget....


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Posted by Bianca
a resident of Menlo Park
on Mar 29, 2009 at 8:19 pm

To "I Smell and HSR Funded Rat": The "Andrew Bogan" in the link you provide doesn't have a PhD in biophysics the way Andrew Bogan here says he does at 5:37 pm above. Did you read the whole thread, or just leap to conclusions?

A cursory Google search proves that there is more than one person out there with that name. Just because somewhere on another page another person using the same name admitted to being a different person, doesn't mean that this is one and the same.

If you decide to go looking for conspiracies, sometimes you are going to find them even when they aren't actually there.


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Posted by Jim H.
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Mar 29, 2009 at 8:58 pm

To "Bianca" Actually, Mr Bogan IS the same guy. From his website at boganassociates.com

Andrew A. Bogan, PhD Managing Member

Andrew is a Founder and Managing Member of Bogan Associates LLC. His background is in scientific research and early-stage venture capital investing in biotechnology. Andrew manages investments in a variety of science, technology, and infrastructure industries in 20 countries. He has previously lived in the European Union, Korea, and Japan.

Prior to starting Bogan Associates, Andrew was a Venture Partner at Tallwood Venture Capital in Palo Alto, California where he developed and implemented Tallwood's bioscience investment strategy from late 2000 to 2003. At Tallwood, Andrew sourced investment opportunities, led bioscience due diligence, and made investment recommendations to the partnership. He was an observer on the board of directors for several portfolio companies in the bioscience and semiconductor industries, including Infinity Pharmaceuticals (INFI), Inphi, Signature BioScience, and T-RAM Semiconductor. Andrew has also made several independent venture capital investments including Amyris Biotechnologies, Catalyst Bioscience, and Sunesis Pharmaceuticals (SNSS).

Before joining Tallwood, Andrew spent the summer of 2000 as a Visiting Scientist at Sankyo Pharmaceuticals in Tokyo, Japan on an NSF fellowship. At Sankyo (now Daiichi-Sankyo), he worked in the Exploratory Chemistry Research Laboratory on a series of thiazolidinedione molecules in development to treat type 2 diabetes. Andrew spent over 6 years doing scientific research at Princeton University, Genentech, UCSF, and Sankyo which led to the publication of half a dozen papers in peer-reviewed scientific journals. He has given scientific research seminars at Affymax, Tularik (now Amgen), Sankyo, UCSF, and the Korea Institute of Science and Technology. Andrew has also spoken at the MIT Sloan Venture Capital and Principal Investment Association and judged business plans for the UCSF Bioentrepreneurship Symposium and for the Princeton University Business Plan Contest.

Andrew holds an A.B. in Molecular Biology and a Certificate in Materials Science and Engineering from Princeton University. He earned his Ph.D. in Biophysics from the University of California, San Francisco, where he was a United States Department of Defense Graduate Fellow and recipient of UCSF's Kozloff Fellowship, awarded for excellence in graduate research. He has passed the Series 65 Exam.

***
Still think there aren't other motives behind his intense interest in $60B being spent on infrastructure????? Of course that's $60 before cost overruns...


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Posted by Andrew Bogan
a resident of Evergreen Park
on Mar 29, 2009 at 9:43 pm

Hope everyone enjoyed reading my bio, though I doubt it is of much interest to anyone. Yes, my PhD is in biophysics from the University of California, San Francisco. Yes, I also have an AB in Molecular Biology from Princeton University along with Certificates in Engineering Biology and in Materials Science and Engineering. I'm flattered that anyone cares.

"I don't buy for a minute that it's just because he wants to ride a fast train to LA."

Strictly speaking my interest is more in riding a fast train to Millbrae/SFO and to San Francisco, both destinations I currently drive to most of the time. I would prefer to have a rail option that was much faster from Palo Alto (or even from Redwood City). I do make it down to LA once every year or two, so that would be nice, as well. When I am in Boston, which is rare, I greatly prefer Acela to the flights into Newark or La Guardia when heading down to New York.

As for my "investing so much time and research" into HSR. I've been pretty familiar with HSR for years, so getting up to speed on California's project was not very hard given my background and the many good resources available (like Clem and Robert's blogs). I did so after my wife suggested I go to a Southgate Community Meeting on HSR, since we both like fast trains and were eager to learn about the HSR plans for Palo Alto. It was my shock at the impolite, obstructionist NIMBYs in the audience that motivated me to get involved in this.

No, I am not funded by HSR.


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Posted by An Observer
a resident of Barron Park
on Mar 29, 2009 at 9:50 pm

bikes2work, Wow did you actually PRAISE the emminent domain used to destroy neighborhoods in the 50s and 60s in order to put in expressways every quarter mile? Amazing- it reminds me of the bizarre renaissance of people who actually appeared to be FOR the Vietnam war that appeared when Bush was running against Kerry in 04.

Emminent domain in the mid century which created beauties like Oregon Expressway and the Embarcadero freeway are widely regarded as failures today. Streetcars were removed (not in PA, I understand), houses were torn down and urban decay was left in the wake. Some towns like San Jose fought the expressway tornado that forced expressways on every other block, on places like Bird avenue which is a part of Willow Glenn in San Jose, I work around the corner from there and you can see the very north part of Bird where the road is wide and about a block into it - becomes narrow and full of charming homes. The residents then must have put up a fight and not rolled over like the Palo Alto people. The message of the freeway destruction from the 50s is basically that we have TOO MANY freeways, or at least enough of them, this is not 1955 when no infrastructure existed. We have infrastructure- why do we need to create a new highway corridor for HSR? Well the answer is, we don't. This was purely a power grab by Diridon and Caltrain, intended to ram people through his Taj Mahal Diridon station and do it on the cheap.


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Posted by Andrew Bogan
a resident of Evergreen Park
on Mar 29, 2009 at 9:51 pm

It is sad that when people cannot refute the facts I have posted, they turn instead to making false accusations about the person sharing those facts.


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Posted by PointOfView
a resident of Midtown
on Mar 29, 2009 at 9:53 pm

I've always understood "NIMBY" to mean you want your garbage cans or dog's excrement in someone else's yard. It's not related to protecting your property from others want to do something with it for their benefit.

Even those who only care about protecting their own yard against HSR are not NIMBYs. I would say using that label is unnecessarily inflammatory.

I think HSR would be a waste of taxpayers money when we don't have it.

Quibbling with those who stand to make a fortune on the train or sharpening rhetoric is not my idea of useful opposition to this thing. Nor is complaining to the very people supporting it.

How do we derail this thing? Presumably we need some strong political action aimed outside of California? Anyone with political savvy who can actually help coordinate the necessary efforts to stop this?






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Posted by Andrew Bogan
a resident of Evergreen Park
on Mar 29, 2009 at 10:06 pm

"How do we derail this thing? Presumably we need some strong political action aimed outside of California? Anyone with political savvy who can actually help coordinate the necessary efforts to stop this?"

President Obama and Transportation Secretary LaHood recently said that high speed rail was the Obama administration's number one transportation priority. With bipartisan support (Ray LaHood is one of few Republicans in the current Cabinet) at that level, it will be challenging.

After all, Vice President Biden commuted to work daily for the past decade on the Acela train from his home in Wilmington, Delaware to Washington, DC.


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Posted by Spokker
a resident of another community
on Mar 29, 2009 at 10:14 pm

"I've always understood "NIMBY" to mean you want your garbage cans or dog's excrement in someone else's yard."

You've misunderstood.

"It's not related to protecting your property from others want to do something with it for their benefit."

You really need to read Clem's Caltrain Compatibility Blog for more information on how much land takings there will actually be. Web Link

I know many here want to accuse supporters of the project of being funded by the CHSRA, but Clem hates everybody involved with the project and wished he could design it himself. You can get the straight scoop from him.

"Even those who only care about protecting their own yard against HSR are not NIMBYs."

Of course not, but people who move next to a railroad and then complain about trains are NIMBYs.

"I think HSR would be a waste of taxpayers money when we don't have it."

Are you sure you're not biased? While we're accusing Andrew Bogan of being in the CHSRA's pocket, are you sure you're not biased just because you live next to the tracks? Would you be for the project if it went through someone else's backyard?

"Presumably we need some strong political action aimed outside of California?"

You might want to stay local, friend. The President, the Vice President and the Department of Transportation seem to have a bug up their butt for high speed rail. It's about time.


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Posted by Spokker
a resident of another community
on Mar 29, 2009 at 10:16 pm

Andrew Bogan, I'd like to talk to you off site. If you want, could you email me at spokker@gmail.com? If you have AOL Instant Messenger you can catch me there under the screen name SpokkerBones. I have some questions for you.


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Posted by Engineer
a resident of South of Midtown
on Mar 29, 2009 at 10:25 pm

"Those "references" I've seen you use describe rail in terms of 1950s overweight US passenger rail cars. Hardly a contemporary basis of comparison.

Clem,

The lightest rail passenger cars are about twice as heavy per seat, compared to the average lightweight cars. As rail cars become lighter, so, too, will automobiles. There is no advantage to rail over automobiles, in terms of energy efficiency. You have not provided any proof of it, because it does not exist.

Andrew Bogan,

Aside from the many reasons that HSR makes no particular sense, unless nuclear power is driving it, you fail to take into account the security issues. The London train bombings should be a real warning. HSR, without passenger security checks, like plane travel, is naive at best.

If you are a supporter of nuclear power, in order to make HSR rational, you should announce that up front. You seem to be doing some type of peek-a-boo on that point. I, personally, support nuclear power, but I gave up on the politics of it years ago.



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Posted by Long Time Resident
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Mar 29, 2009 at 10:41 pm

To Andrew Bogan -

To Andrew Bogan -

You can call the homeowners in any part of this city or other city's up and down the Caltrain corridor NIMBY's, since the HSR will effect all these residents.

I will begin with congestion, waited listed for neighborhood schools, local grocery stores running out of food, filled up summer camps, brownie and Boy Scout troops, etc.

For us homeowners, our assets are in our homes.

Most of those places where you live are condos, which are rented.

I would bet that you do not plan to make those condos your permanent place of residence to raise your family.

Were you the person who so boldly stood up facing the audience during the entire meeting, at Mitchell Park? I believe that you shouted out something to the effect "I support our current Mayor on the high speed rail"

If this was you, you made a heck of an impression.
BTW - we have "Rules of Decorum" at these meetings.

When you start paying property taxes in the $20K and over range I may listen to you.


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Posted by Neighbor
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Mar 29, 2009 at 10:58 pm

I think citizens of Palo Alto need to start writing Governer Schwarzenegger and pointing out that if HSR gets ramrodded through as proposed without regard for the degradation to quality of life of cities on the peninsula (such as Palo Alto, Menlo Park, Atherton, etc.), he'll be killing the property-tax-goose-that-laid-the-golden-egg, and further strain an already stressed state budget.

People who argue that we must take HSR up the Peninsula are people who fundamentally do not believe we can make our SYSTEM work the way rail SYSTEMS work in Europe -- that is, you don't rely on point-to-point for all your transportation needs (the reason we never get anywhere with public transit), but you make the SYSTEM work so that people can get around.

We should be improving the existing SYSTEM around the Peninsula so that HSR connect seamlessly in San Jose to existing rail. This means we probably do need below grade crossings in order to increase Cal Train volume. But we should not have to widen tracks.

My good citizens -- someone should be running the numbers for our good Governor to explain the potential permanent loss in state revenue if this plan goes through without regard to the cities along the way.

HSR is supposed to improve quality of life. That's why most of us voted for it. Someone has way to much power if their needs and desires take precedence over quality of life in one of the most heavily populated parts of California.


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Posted by PA worth defending
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Mar 29, 2009 at 11:09 pm

Come on, people, let's get creative here. We could cause an awful lot of civil disobedience that would delay or permanently derail the HSR project should they continue to ignore that there are towns and people here on the Peninsula.

For example. How are they going to get the equipment and workers into the area? If all the cities along the way limit large construction traffic (in specific ways), for example, they won't be able to bring anything in until they actually get the rail in place from the South.

We've got an awful lot of bridges and roads from 101 into town that need structural work before they can be used like that, and residential roads that simply can't accommodate that kind of traffic -- it wouldn't be such a stretch to halt the ultra-heavy equipment traffic indefinitely. We could make individual exceptions for other municipal work...



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Posted by Spokker
a resident of another community
on Mar 29, 2009 at 11:41 pm

"I will begin with congestion, waited listed for neighborhood schools, local grocery stores running out of food, filled up summer camps, brownie and Boy Scout troops, etc."

We'll make you a deal. When the high speed rail knocks out the food supply in Palo Alto we'll be sure to send food aid to mitigate this unfortunate reality of high speed trains.


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Posted by Long Time Resident
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Mar 30, 2009 at 1:31 am

Spokker -

I think that you are one of the people hired to mitigate CAHSR opposition. Using our tax money? I heard that that CAHSR Authority hired a full time person to mitigate the blogs. What fun!

After speaking with long time private business owners in Redwood City, none of them want a station with high density housing, associated traffic, and feel crime will increase.

People reading this blog, call some of the family owned, long time retail stores near old Redwood City, and you will be surprised.

Maybe their mayor and council pulled the same trick on them.



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Posted by Spokker
a resident of another community
on Mar 30, 2009 at 2:56 am

"I heard that that CAHSR Authority hired a full time person to mitigate the blogs."

I wouldn't be surprised. Many companies and organizations shamefully send out "paid posters" to go and hype up their products or cause. Alas, I am not one of them.


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Posted by Long Time Resident
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Mar 30, 2009 at 3:15 am

Spokker -

If you need a reference...
I'll be happy to give them your name. :)

BTW - The lack of groceries and space has to do whether or not a station is located here - with the station, thousands of more people will be added to our population and the populations of surrounding cities.

Someone mentioned that HSR would increase sprawl. True. You could buy a less expensive home or two (in foreclosure) and commute into Palo Alto and other cities on the peninsula.

Locally, wealthy people will head up to the hills to get away from the high densities, and possibly crime, that will result down here. Many are thinking of moving to the areas that environmentalists want to protect - the hills.


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Posted by resident
a resident of Adobe-Meadows
on Mar 30, 2009 at 7:10 am

It's a waste of time trying to contact the Governator and Eshoo.


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Posted by Clem
a resident of another community
on Mar 30, 2009 at 9:31 am

> Clem hates everybody involved with the project and wished he could design it himself.

Allow me to set the record straight.

That is not an accurate description of my position. I maintain a certain degree of distrust of the agencies involved, that's all. I respect "everybody involved" and do not bear any ill will against anyone. As for designing it myself, I am the wrong kind of engineer (aerospace, not civil), although I do feel qualified to say that it's not rocket science.


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Posted by A lie is a lie
a resident of Fairmeadow
on Mar 30, 2009 at 10:05 am

Spokker/ Andrew Bogan -

If you really want high speed rail and you want a successful PPP, you should be just as concerned as Clem is about governance of the Authority. In transit, the details matter. The current routing was driven exclusively by politics. In northern California, they are doing Pacheco only to make San Jose feel better. They knew the Peninsula would explode and did everything they could to obfuscate ( Web Link ) and see: tinyurl.com/cvcwuy .

In addition, they got everyone in the east bay to go along with the plan by telling them they would do Altamont but call it something else. The work to do the EIR for that has even been awarded to AECOM.
This $5 billion + project is NOT included in any financial projections. Doing both Altamont and Pacheco is crazy, reckless and causes unnecessary environmental damage.

In southern California, the story is even worse. The entire route was designed to allow LA airports to increase long distance air travel - not exactly an environmentally friendly objective.

All of these factors do not bode well for commercial success, which is imperative for this project.


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Posted by Andrew Bogan
a resident of Evergreen Park
on Mar 30, 2009 at 10:24 am

@Long Time Resident

"You can call the homeowners in any part of this city or other city's up and down the Caltrain corridor NIMBY's, since the HSR will effect all these residents."

I live a few blocks from the Caltrain tracks with my family in Palo Alto and I can hear the train whistles from my bed. I am not a NIMBY because I am not opposed to a major state-wide infrastructure project for personal reasons and my support of the project would not change if they altered the route away from my neighborhood. I happen to believe they have chosen the best route from SF to SJ in terms of attracting ridership, which will be important for the project's success long term.

"I will begin with congestion, waited listed for neighborhood schools, local grocery stores running out of food, filled up summer camps, brownie and Boy Scout troops, etc."

Grocery stores running out of food suggests that along with HSR we will somehow get economic collapse and an inability to stock our shelves. I have never seen the shops out of food at Shinjuku Station, which serves 3.64 million train passengers per day in Tokyo.

"For us homeowners, our assets are in our homes."

Yes and I, too, am a home owner. Academic studies from Berkeley showed >20% property value increases in cities with HSR stations in Japan and France after decades of HSR (I have posted the reference before).

"Most of those places where you live are condos, which are rented."

Yes, Evergreen Park has many condos as well as houses. The one that is my family's home is not rented, we own it, as do a majority of my neighbors.

"I would bet that you do not plan to make those condos your permanent place of residence to raise your family."

In fact I am raising my family here and we have no intention of moving in the foreseeable future.

"Were you the person who so boldly stood up facing the audience during the entire meeting, at Mitchell Park? I believe that you shouted out something to the effect "I support our current Mayor on the high speed rail""

No. I did attend that meeting and I said nothing at it, while standing with my wife in the back, since there were no open seats. Afterwards I thanked the speakers for their willingness to come to our community and take questions for a few hours from a very hostile audience, despite the fact that our town did not provide them with an adequate microphone. My own remarks were addressed directly to our mayor the following week at City Hall, there was no shouting involved.

"BTW - we have "Rules of Decorum" at these meetings."

Yes, and it was my disappointment at them not being followed by large numbers of HSR opponents that motivated me to become involved in this in the first place. I waited to make my own remarks at City Hall, since the rules of decorum are actually enforced there.


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Posted by An Observer
a resident of Barron Park
on Mar 30, 2009 at 10:30 am

the SJ Merc today has an article about how PA is considering the Amicus brief. We heard about that a few weeks ago and then it looked like they instead tried to work with the HSR people, but after this 4-track ramrod, I guess PA has decided to fight fire with fire. Not that an Amicus brief will do anything, but its worth a shot. And once they file the Amicus brief, a separarate PA lawsuit will not be far behind.

As I long suspected, the choice of this route will put this project in legal limboland for years.


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Posted by SuperD
a resident of Community Center
on Mar 30, 2009 at 10:32 am

What upsets me the most is that many people in Palo Alto blindly voted for HRS without having enough of the details. Kinda like giving a stranger a blank signed check and hoping they will do the right thing, then later becoming angry with the outcome. How did you think the HSR would operate - on magic pixy dust that made the train fly silently through the clouds? Give me a break. I voted against it.


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Posted by Andrew Bogan
a resident of Evergreen Park
on Mar 30, 2009 at 10:40 am

"The current routing was driven exclusively by politics."

I am as skeptical of government as anyone I know. There were politics involved, since the state is (by definition) run by politicians and they appoint the CHSRA.

However, the choice of the route from SF to SJ was to use the most heavily traveled existing rail corridor between SF and SJ. The plan to put HSR stations at SF Transbay, Millbrae/SFO, Redwood City or Palo Alto, and SJ Diridon Station fits very well with the historical ridership statistics from the existing Caltrain commuter rail. That is not just politics, that is well analyzed transit infrastructure planning--focusing on finding the best available and pre-existing right of way, the smallest total amount of eminent domain needed, and the most concentrated proven rail ridership base.

It is sensible to consider 101 as an alternative corridor for many of those same reasons, and it was studied in the program level EIR/EIS. However, there is essentially no space in many sections of the US 101 right of way, where traffic already spans from sound wall to sound wall with a narrow concrete barrier between the northbound and southbound lanes. Also having to go over freeway overpasses would likely put HSR trains dangerously high off the ground in many places on the route.

Building a HSR line is a very complicated engineering undertaking and if it had been readily feasible to run it along 101 from SF to SJ, it seems very likely that would have been the chosen alignment. Unfortunately, it is not readily feasible to build HSR on that route, so it was not chosen.


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Posted by Parent
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Mar 30, 2009 at 12:38 pm

The biggest lie be perpetrated by HSR supporters is that it gets californian's out of cars. First of all, the people clogging the freeways and city streets around here are mainly trying to get from City A to City A+1. LIke PA to Santa Clara to get to work. What do you think the traffic gridloc for commuters goes away when they open a train that gets people from SF to LA in 3 hours? RIDICULOUS. And people - trains go in straight lines. Around here - there's no supporting transit infrastructure, nor is there the population density to support useful transit infrastructure (like busses that pass by every conceivable useful corner, every 5 minutes). So NOT ONE SINGLE CAR is taken off the road by HSR. Secondly, ever driven down I5 to LA recently? Its about 5% auto about 95% trucking. The trucking isn't helped by HSR. IN fact, it probably gets increased as HSR implementation drives more and more freight off existing freight ROW and into trucks. (Freight not compatible with HSR - CHSRA would LOVE to buy out freight rights to ram through their people movers).

So the BIGGEST HUGEST lie of all is that HSR is going to help CO2 emissions by removing auto traffic off the roads. It will do no such thing. All it will do for PA or Redwood City or Mt View is to draw HUGE numbers of MORE motorists IN to the depths of town to reach those stations. A HUGE MESS for the towns that will attract stations. HUGE MISTAKE!

The HSR, if its meant to be an alternative to SF to LA auto traffic, belong where SF-LA auto traffic resides now - which is down I5. And nowwhere else.


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Posted by Do I Hear Six Tracks?
a resident of Menlo Park
on Mar 30, 2009 at 12:41 pm

The article at the top of the page includes the following paragraph:

"Diridon also indicated in October -- one month before California voters approved a $9.95 billion bond measure for the project -- that Palo Alto staff would be involved in the decision-making process, which will involve a wide range of alternatives, including two-track systems and four-track systems."

I've read in a few places, however, that if Palo Alto does get a HSR station then no less than six tracks would be needed at a length of about a mile (presumably a half mile north and south of the station). Can anyone authoritatively confirm or deny this?

Joe Six-Track


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Posted by Parent
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Mar 30, 2009 at 12:47 pm

Did they bother to say - Gee where is the ridership on Caltrain coming from and going to? For what purpose? (ie: going to work?)

NO! They just made this gigantic leap to say all these thousands of people getting on Caltrain in the Bay Area bound for 2 or 3 cities over, all of a sudden will just hop on that train bound for LA! Sure who doesn't want to go to LA everyday?!

Well analyzed my left foot - Its either willful ignorance, or willful lies. DISINFORMATION is the appropriate word for the 'analysis' coming from CHSRA.


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Posted by a
a resident of Crescent Park
on Mar 30, 2009 at 12:53 pm

People, stop complaining on these message boards and start talking to your elected officials. Geez.


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Posted by Spokker
a resident of another community
on Mar 30, 2009 at 1:52 pm

"The biggest lie be perpetrated by HSR supporters is that it gets californian's out of cars."

The official figure from the CHSRA itself is that 6% of auto trips will be diverted. This baby is an alternative to flying, not necessarily driving, although you can choose not to drive as well.

Predicting future traffic patterns is like educated guessing. Transportation planners are not psychics of course, but they use complex computer programs to run traffic simulations and all kinds of things to paint a picture of what road, air and rail traffic will be like 20-30 years from now.

This document Web Link is the one you'll want to go to see what CHSRA believes ridership will look like. Things have changed since the 1999 study and they address that in the PDF.


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Posted by Spokker
a resident of another community
on Mar 30, 2009 at 2:05 pm

"thousands of more people will be added to our population and the populations of surrounding cities."

Great, sounds like HSR will be a huge success.


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Posted by Jay Tulock
a resident of another community
on Mar 30, 2009 at 2:08 pm

ABsay> I just do not think calling people "sinister alien beings" is appropriate and I call neither you nor Mr. Diridon anything of the sort.

I do nott think calling Diridon "the father of light rail" (gag, gag, gag) or a "transportation expert" or a "high speed rail supporter" is appropriate either. KCBS regular has him on using his self made labels as credetials. It is no more or less accurate to call him an alien being. His ego is so big he will not even fit in a high speed train. How big? Many years after he was sidelined as High Speed Rail Authority Board Chairman, he still goes by the self-proclaimed title "Chair Emeritus". Still cannot let go, still whines for the big chair. Now THAT is ego!

I have a purpose in doing so. The public often blindly follows people by believing their credetials as stated. I aim to caste doubt on the man's credibility in those reading this. If they believe it is even possible that a slimy silver snake will emerge from his belly, or that Kopp's head will explode and shower green goo, then their 'expert status' will be placed in doubt. This is step one in defeating them.

With billions of transportation dollars on the line to be flushed down consultant and lawyer toilets, this is a form of war. The only objective of war is to win. This is something you obviously have not figured out, as boring, verbose diatribe alienates and remains unread by most. If you want to win, state your case clearly and succintly, and avoid your obsessive personality trait which drives you to answer every - single - comment - with - a - verbose - e-x-p-l-a-n-a-s-h-u-n. YAWAWAWAWAWWWWWWWWNNNNN.

You even comment literally on statements clearly meant to be humorous. You must be a hoot to sit down with a tall, cold one and shoot the breeze. Everyone left the bar and you are still talking? WTF!

PointOfView from midtown asked how to stop the project poltically. Answer: Amicus brief followed by lawsuit. And fight like dogs to remove Kopp Moshed Diridon. Do that and a viable project with much less corruption and less loopy routing might emerge.

Jay Tulock, Vacaville


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Posted by PointOfView
a resident of Midtown
on Mar 30, 2009 at 2:11 pm

I'm just not politically savvy. I see things this way.

Our elected officials may have an impact.

But I think the absurdity of this plan needs to be made plain to someone who can embarrass Obama or Schwarzeneger as wasting precious money at a critical time on a misguided ego-driven whim.

Obama has shown at least once that if it appears he is wasting public money on a specific unnecessary project, he might try to undo it (helicopter). Scharzeneger may back off something like this if he sees strong opposition. Especially if the science is strong enough to show the net increase in pollution.

But I doubt that the California crowd will easily give up federal funds to initiate the largest infrastructure project ever, even if the project is not a good one.


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Posted by Anna
a resident of Downtown North
on Mar 30, 2009 at 2:45 pm

"they use complex computer programs to run traffic simulations and all kinds of things to paint a picture of what road, air and rail traffic will be like 20-30 years from now."

I believe the derivative traders at AIG and other Wall Street Firms used complex computer programs to design their financial products and predict the default rates on them.

That worked out really well....


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Posted by Spokker
a resident of another community
on Mar 30, 2009 at 2:55 pm

"With billions of transportation dollars on the line to be flushed down consultant and lawyer toilets, this is a form of war. The only objective of war is to win"

Ah yes, war. No compromise. No facts. No brains. War, just the kind of rhetoric that is sure to get California moving again.

You can take our ROW, but you will never take... our FREEEEEEEDOM!!!

"This is something you obviously have not figured out, as boring, verbose diatribe alienates and remains unread by most. If you want to win, state your case clearly and succintly, and avoid your obsessive personality trait which drives you to answer every - single - comment - with - a - verbose - e-x-p-l-a-n-a-s-h-u-n."

Oh, we wouldn't want facts to make our posts too long. Who has time to read the real ridership figures while you're going on about how HSR will tear a hole in the very fabric of space and time, taking our universe and all that we know with it?


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Posted by Spokker
a resident of another community
on Mar 30, 2009 at 2:57 pm

"I believe the derivative traders at AIG and other Wall Street Firms used complex computer programs to design their financial products and predict the default rates on them."

Wow... I didn't know that. That's a real eye-opener. I will never use another computer again.


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Posted by PA_Marcher
a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Mar 30, 2009 at 2:58 pm

Come to the City Council Meeting tonight at 7PM and tell the City your thoughts on HSR.

There are some important decisions being made tonight regarding this issue - including whether or not we should join the Menlo/Atherton lawsuit regarding the selection of the Caltrain Corridor.

I urge you to tell them what you think. They are listening. We must participate in the process and get our anger on public record. If we shrug our shoulders and let others make decisions - then we must live with the consequences. Have your voice heard!


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Posted by An Observer
a resident of Barron Park
on Mar 30, 2009 at 3:05 pm

WOW!! LIE IS A LIE! Thank you for that incredible link with Diridon. I am simply flabbergasted at the incredible amt of BS flying out of Diridon last October **PRIOR TO THE ELECTION**. He overtly lied about the options should prop 1a pass, he openly suggested that tunneling and trenching was an option (an easy option- he did not say tunneling was expensive, nothing of that sort), he implied the city council would be intimately involved in the process.

In some ways I almost feel for the PA city council now because they were obviously bamboozled, although they did drop the ball big time and many of them need to be replaced at this point- over this issue alone.


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Posted by Anna
a resident of Downtown North
on Mar 30, 2009 at 3:05 pm

"Who has time to read the real ridership figures while you're going on about how HSR...."

I presume those would be the real ridership figures that are based on the complex computer programs and simulations ...that you've now sworn off using.

Sometimes those verbose explanations have you so tied up in knots that you end up contradicting yourself.


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Posted by Spokker
a resident of another community
on Mar 30, 2009 at 3:42 pm

Anna: "I presume those would be the real ridership figures that are based on the complex computer programs and simulations ...that you've now sworn off using.

Sometimes those verbose explanations have you so tied up in knots that you end up contradicting yourself."

Jay Tulock: "You even comment literally on statements clearly meant to be humorous."

The ironing is delicious.


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Posted by Jay Tulock
a resident of another community
on Mar 30, 2009 at 3:56 pm

Posted by Spokker, a resident of another community, 10 minutes ago

Anna: "I presume those would be the real ridership figures that are based on the complex computer programs and simulations ...that you've now sworn off using.

Sometimes those verbose explanations have you so tied up in knots that you end up contradicting yourself."

Jay Tulock: "You even comment literally on statements clearly meant to be humorous."

The ironing is delicious.

"avoid your obsessive personality trait which drives you to answer every - single - comment"

Yes it is, boofoo, yes it is . . . . . . .

Jay Tulock, Vacaville


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Posted by Spokker
a resident of another community
on Mar 30, 2009 at 4:01 pm

"Yes it is, boofoo, yes it is . . . . . . .

Jay Tulock, Vacaville"

Hmmm... when it comes to obsession...

"Web

Results 1 - 10 of about 152 for "jay tulock". (0.28 seconds)

Did you mean: "jay turlock"
Search Results

1.
Transbay Terminal still lacks rail solution - SFBG Politics Blog
Mar 11, 2009 ... Jay L. Tulock, Vacaville. Posted by Jay Tulock | March 12, 2009 11:47 PM ... Jay Tulock: Kopp says Ayerdi is incompetent? ...

2.
High-speed derailment? - SFBG Politics Blog
Jay Tulock: Kopp is an ass. He has already made so many enemies up and down the state ... Posted by Jay Tulock | November 21, 2008 05:22 PM. Marc Salomon: ...

3.
We Don't Need No Stinken High Speed Rail - Propaganda
Mar 24, 2009 ... By Jay Tulock on March 25, 2009 12:51 AM. Actually, you are all wrong. ... Mostly confused journalists in this case. Jay Tulock, Vacaville ...

4.
www.sfexaminer.com >> Local News
Mar 16, 2009 ... Jay Tulock: "And how much did we pay Diridon to come up with this brilliant conclusion. Next time, hire my 8th grade son to do the study at ...

5.
Palo Alto Online : City expands list of high-speed-rail concerns
Mar 19, 2009 ... Posted by Jay Tulock, a resident of another community, on Mar 20, 2009 at 12:57 pm. You aren't listening. A tunnel will be paid for by Palo ...

6.
Nonprofit files suit against BART extension - Fremont Bulletin ...
Jay Tulock. Davis, CA. Reply ». |. Report Abuse. |. Judge it! |. #1. Thursday Mar 12. Correct on all counts, Mr. Schonbrunn. Stop the BART obsessed ...

7.
Real Vail | Real News | Cooling economy could send I-70 train talk ...
Dec 1, 2008 ... Jay Tulock " December 2, 2008. Industry professionals can quickly identify a voter hoax. Once you see "monorail", mag-lev, ...

8.
Palo Alto Online - Town Square Topic
Posted by Jay Tulock, a resident of another community, on Mar 3, ...... Jay Tulock in a comment above offered this quotation: "The buck stops with the board ...

9.
Rail company studies GJ for high-speed corridor
By Jay Tulock. Dec 30, 2008 5:47 PM | Link to this. Mr. Dempsey, you must work for a HIGH PRICED consulting firm. Rail works and is feasible, ..."

...Jay Turlock shouldn't be talkin'. You're just as obsessed as anyone else.


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Posted by Mike
a resident of Adobe-Meadows
on Mar 30, 2009 at 4:39 pm

"One of our best HS will be ruined with this train."

What a bunch of unmitigated horse manure. The best HS in your town could be at your kitchen table if you even had a passing clue what your child needs to live a fulfilled life and you had the gumption to try and provide those needs.


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Posted by An Observer
a resident of Barron Park
on Mar 30, 2009 at 6:55 pm

Mike, the piece of unmitigated Horse Manure is you. Theres a train going by, overhead of the field, every 8 minutes. Let me elucidate it for you... kids playing field hockey... RRRRRRRROOOOAAAARRRRRR <ground shaking>... more game playing ... RRROOOAAARRRRR <ground shaking>... sun starts to go down, shadow on the field from the 25' GRADE etc.

Would you go to a SPORTING EVENT with a roaring train overhead every 8 minutes? And how far is this thing going to be away from the foundations of the buildings?


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Posted by Clem
a resident of another community
on Mar 30, 2009 at 7:59 pm

> sun starts to go down, shadow on the field from the 25' GRADE etc.

Are you familiar with Paly? It is located to the west of the tracks, and the shadow would fall away from it.

I like the onomatopoeias, though.

Right now, at rush hour there is a Caltrain every 6 minutes on average, clang-clang-clang-clang-clang-clang HOOOOOOOONK HOOOOOOOOOOOONK honk HOOOOOOOOOOONK rattle-rattle-rattle diesel-chug-chug-chug-chug-chug <ground shaking> <cloud of toxic fumes>

What's not to like?


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Posted by ODB
a resident of Midtown
on Mar 30, 2009 at 8:10 pm

<< What upsets me the most is that many people in Palo Alto blindly voted for HRS without having enough of the details. >>

That includes the city council who recommended prop 1A without clue one as to the ramifications of HSR for P.A.

You can debate at-grade crossings, 12-foot walls, eminent domain and all of the other technical minutiae until you're blue in the face, but the overarching problem with HSR remains: It will never make money unless you shut down the airlines and Interstate 5 and Highway 101 and literally force people out of airplanes and automobiles. Just look at the fanciful ridership projections in the HSR business plan. Whoever believes people will flock to HSR in droves has been drinking the wrong flavor of Kool-Aid. Those ridership projections are more lies from Rod Diridon's HSR propaganda machine IMO.


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Posted by Jay Tulock
a resident of another community
on Mar 31, 2009 at 12:20 am

Wow, Spokker, you are a piece of work. You actually went back a into last year and cut and pasted ten of my postings to newspapers all over the country to prove, what exactly?

And now folks, let's play "Spokker's head explode when he realizes his own logic proves he's obsessive." I goggled myself, as you yougins say, and I got 33 hits, not 152 (the 152 is if you set your options to count duplicates, moron). I think an old retired fart like myself can post 33 times in a lifetime and not be considered obsessed, viewed by sane people.

I Googled Spokker, even not opening the duplicate option and even taking out several that may have foretold of other Spokkers, 5500 hits and well over half in the first few pages were about transit, so 3000-4000 is a safe bet by the Spokkmeister. Someone call the whaaaaaaambulance, we've got a whiner.

Jay Tulock (retired and 1/100th as sick in the head as Spokker by his own measurement BOOM! - there went Hippo Crits head), Vacaville

PS. And the name is Tulock. As in the MAN, Tulock, not Turlock, a town full of turkeys! If you are going to insult a man, at least don't call him late for dinner.


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Posted by Ashley
a resident of Woodside
on Jul 29, 2009 at 11:14 am

Hi. Before you do anything, think. If you do something to try and impress someone, to be loved, accepted or even to get someone's attention, stop and think. So many people are busy trying to create an image, they die in the process. Help me! I can not find sites on the: . I found only this - . Fill the easy, small contact us form and send us your valuable suggestions, a local car credit loans center will provide fast easy guaranteed auto financing. Abstract of the the audit of international commercial banks an international statement issued by the international auditing practices committee after. With love :confused:, Ashley from Ethiopia.


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Posted by Kennard
a resident of Professorville
on Jul 29, 2009 at 2:50 pm

Good Day. Keep your broken arm inside your sleeve.
I am from Hungary and learning to speak English, tell me right I wrote the following sentence: "Debt relief incharge can help you understand your choices and implement a credit card debt management plan that can provide debt relief."

THX :(, Kennard.


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